1st Place - The Lair - June 2020
|Featured in "Fantasy Newsletter (July 14, 2021)"
Gary the Gnome
Once upon a time, there was a Gnome by the name of Gary. He lived in a flower bed in the Smith’s yard, until one day he disappeared, kidnapped.
The kidnappers decided it would be fun to take Gary on a trip of a lifetime and post his picture on the internet for the world to see. The scheming tricksters planned their itinerary carefully.
Gary the Gnome’s first visit was to Nome, Alaska. He didn’t see the humor in it. They put him in a snow bank and took his picture. He was an instant celebrity. 'A Gnome in Nome' was the title of the picture online. He didn’t see the humor in that either. He was cold and wet.
Next it was to El Capitan in Yosemite. They hung him from a rope over the cliff. The camera went ‘click’ and he was again an instant celebrity. Again he didn’t see the humor of that shot, hanging from a rope around his neck.
From Yosemite it was off to Yellowstone. In Yellowstone, Gary the Gnome sat in a tent. The pictures that circulated this time showed a bear sniffing him, licking his face, then carrying him in its mouth a short way before deciding Gary wasn’t a small child. He definitely didn’t see the humor in this situation. The picture-taking craze was getting out of hand as far as he was concerned. But his hands were locked in place. He couldn’t protest.
Then they went to a geyser erupting, pouring hot water over his head. His wonderful red hat, the hat that had endured years of the brutal sun of summer and the biting winds of winter now was being scalded by the bubbling waters of a fountain. But his smile never left his face. He was determined to make the best of this horrid situation. Another instant celebrity shot titled ‘Geyser Gazer’. Gary wished he could run.
After fun and games in Yellowstone the trip led to the Everglades. Gary the Gnome sat beside a crocodile, or was it an alligator? He didn’t know which. He just knew the giant reptile was sitting in the sun and he was beside it for yet another picture. Gary feared for his head this time. The picture takers were far away, inside the giant steel cage on wheels. He couldn’t hear the click. But as luck would have it, the giant reptile did. It slithered away leaving Gary on his side, mortified, but again an instant celebrity. ‘Snatched from the jaws of the swamp monster’ was the caption. Would this insanity never end?
Gary the Gnome longed for his quiet life in the garden. He pined for the long summer days where he could gaze upon Hilda and Harry in the next yard. All day they gazed upon each other. This had gone on for years. No words needed to be spoken. Their needs were simple, just the simple pleasures of sun and rain. Hilda and Harry must be wondering what happened to him. He needed to get back to his post in the garden. He wondered who was guarding it in his absence.
Where was he now? A loud roar filled the space around him. He suffocated in the small area for many hours. Then suddenly it was beach time. Gary the Gnome saw the ocean for the first time. He was strapped to a surf board, pushed out into the sea. Giant waves knocked him about. Now the salt water creeped into all the pores of his body. Someone would have to pay to repair this damage. His paint would surely chip off. And wouldn’t you know it, the picture takers were clicking away as he drifted off into the surf. 'I’ll never be found again’, was Gary’s thought. ‘Surfing Gnome’s latest adventure near Oahu’ made Gary an instant celebrity, again. This was getting out of control.
Gary the Gnome thought of any magical Gnome spell. He had to get home. The treasure was unguarded. He would be kicked out of the Gnome Guild for sure. Finally in his little Gnome brain, a spell emerged from hiding.
“If home is where you want to be
cross your eyes and count to three.
After that you shall be home,
lost and lonely little Gnome.”
Father Murie taught him the spell back in the days of wizards and dragons, back when they were in the forest of long ago. In that time they guarded the wealth of the kingdom. Their job was dangerous and often they were captured by evil wizards. That was how Gary ended up in the yard forever to guard a flower bed of the Smith family.
The treasures he guarded now were flowers. They were rare wildflowers prized by the deer and rabbits in town. His job was to patrol the flower beds at night against the roving gangs of wildlife. He had to get back to his job. It may already be too late to save the plants.
So Gary the Gnome tried hard to cross his eyes and count to three. He longed to be back in the Smith flower beds. He thought and thought with all the Gnome power he could muster. Like magic, he popped back right where he belonged. Harry and Hilda stood next door and smiled, like they always did. It was good to be back. He hated being a celebrity.