Fiction Tuesday – Actually Actualized

Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes

When Will woke up he found himself lying on an old, pea-green, sofa. Narrative convention dictated he should have had either an ice-pack on his head or a cup of cold tea sitting by him on a table. Professor Nobody neglected to provide either. Instead, the only thing with which Will woke was a headache. “Oh great, I’m still here.”

“Yup, kid, you are.” Bug was sitting in a chair across from the sofa. He’d taken his floppy hat off once more and was twisting it his hands. “You gave me a scare there.”

“I scared you? Bug, you took me out of my bedroom, brought me to a strange place, and neglected to tell me you thought I was going to save the world!”

Bug chuckled. “OK, well you got me there. C’mon, the prof wanted to see you when you woke up.”

Will sat up on the sofa and prepared to stand up. “Bug?”

“Yah kid?”

“When we were in the coffee shop, I told you I heard a voice, right?”

Bug looked around the room quickly. Then, turning to Will, he whispered, “Yah, you did. But try not to say that too loud, OK?”

Will leaned toward Bug and whispered back, “Alright, but why didn’t you want me to tell Professor Nobody about it?”

“Kid, the prof is the best Gnome I know. He really is. But he’s got this idea that we can force the Narrator to do what we think needs to be done. I’m a Narrativist, I think the Narrator works in mysterious ways. Sometimes I’m not even certain if the Narrator isn’t just making it up as he goes along. If you did hear the Narrator and he said not to pay any attention to him 1, I think it’s probably a good idea to listen.”

Will rubbed his temples. “I didn’t think, when I woke up this morning, I’d end up in the midst of a religious disagreement.”

“No one ever does, kid. Now get up, The Prof wants to show why we even need you in the first place.”

Will was led to the back of Nobody’s house, where he found the professor tinkering with what appeared to be a combination of a three-ring binder and a popsicle stick. The gnome was muttering to himself quietly, and Will could just make out, “I think this is it, but where does the cherry syrup come out?” When he noticed he had company Nobody tossed the object on to the floor, where it collided with a bowling pin. Will witnessed the now-familiar blue flash, when it was over a flat-screen TV had appeared. “Ah, Will! Good to see you up and about! Are you ready to hear why we’ve brought you to The Realm?”

Will nodded. “Yes, I think so.”

“Oh good, Bug would you please get me a cup of coffee? And a cup of cocoa for Will.”

“Sure thing, professor.”

Bug turned around and headed towards what Will assumed was the kitchen. Once he’d departed, Nobody tapped Will on the shoulder and motioned him to sit on a nearby stool. “Now, where do I begin? And please don’t respond with, ‘How about at the beginning?’ I’m not sure I could take that much cliché at the moment, and it does terrible things to my experiments at any rate.”

Will slumped his shoulders, this was precisely what he had intended to say. Unfazed by Will’s shift in posture, Nobody continued with his musings. “I supposed I could start with basic doctrine, but that seems so boring. Besides, I don’t know how much of it is important to the task at hand. Then again, I could…”

“Professor”

Nobody’s eyes seemed to come in to focus as he took notice of Will once more. “Yes, Will?”

“How about you start with who this Narrator person is?”

“Ah, yes, I suppose that would make sense. Here is the truth of the matter Will. Many of the people in The Realm believe in the Narrator. Or sometimes The Narrator. Or simply the narrator. It really depends on which sect to which you are referring.”

“OK, Bug mentioned being a ‘Narrativist,’ does the Narrator have anything to do with that?”

“Oh yes! Yes it does, Will!” Nobody’s voice grew to a excited pitch. “You see, Narrativists believe in the Narrator, the true friend of Imagination. It’s the Narrator which gives The Realm it’s function and purpose. And it’s through him that we even know we have a purpose at all!”

“OK. And what is your purpose?”

The Professor coughed slightly. “Well, that really depends, again, on which sect is answering the question. Many of the elves, for example, believe the purpose of the The Realm exists to be the archetypal template for all fantasy.”

“Huh?”

“I suppose a simple way to put it is, ‘The elves believe your fantasy stories have things like elves and dwarves and gnomes because they exist here.’”

Will pulled his hands towards his temples. “This is going to give me a headache, isn’t it?”

“Probably, but don’t worry about it — the elves happen to be wrong.”

“You’re sure?”

“Oh yes. Your people seem to think elves are full of wisdom and understanding, but the reality is they tend to be a group of navel-gazing nitwits. There has never been a shred of evidence for what they believe in the Narrator’s revelations. They just got some paperbacks delivered to them and liked what they read — it was a short leap from there.”

“Of course.”

“Glad to see you catching on.” Will didn’t object to Nobody’s praise, but the truth was he had no idea what the professor was talking about. “The magicians in Boarsblemish believe that the peoples of The Realm exist in a state of imaginative flux.”

“I’m getting kinda tired of saying this but, huh?”

“They believe they don’t really exist, but are in a state of coming into existence.”

Will, turned towards the kitchen and called out. “Bug, can you bring me something for a headache please?”

Nobody chuckled. “Now, now. It’s not really all that difficult. The magicians believe our purpose is to be written about. Once that happens, we become “actualized,” and depart from The Realm to a different land, whereupon our stories become part of your people’s tales and legends.”

“I guess that doesn’t sound so bad.”

“No, it really doesn’t. And their belief about actualization happens to be very popular, even with our friend Bug here.” Will jumped slightly as a mug of cocoa was shoved in front of him.

“Yes, professor, it’s something I believe in. So do a lot of gnomes.” Bug offered the professor his tea, and then pulled up another stool and sipped his own.

Nobody sipped at his coffee. “Thank you, Bug.” Pointing to the younger gnome, he added, “I see you’ve managed to control your eye rolls.”

Bug snorted. “Yah, after this cup my eyes will go back to the nice simple spin I get after my first cup. What Sindy doesn’t know won’t hurt her. But you were saying?”

“Ah, yes. Well I believe the magician’s theory of actualization is, in fact, also wrong.”

“And I think you’re looped in the head for thinking that, but go on.”

Nobody sighed. “Yes, I know. But you must admit, the failure of the magicians to actualize after the entire you know who situation is telling. I don’t believe it’s possible for the peoples of The Realm to be actualized. None of our embassies have ever gotten any inkling from actualized peoples they ever lived in The Realm, after all. Nor does anyone living here currently remember an exodus.”

Bug shrugged. “I guess. Who knows? Maybe you know who and his gang all lived here in The Realm at one point, their existence here vanished from all our memories when they actualized. Those magicians up there could have come from a completely different imagination.”

“But that would mean the Narrator is actually erasing evidence of his work! I can’t believe that.”

Bug and Nobody argued back and forth for several minutes as Will took in the conversation as a spectator. As he pondered the flow of the conversation, however, something suddenly clicked in Will’s mind. The combination of “magicians” and “you know who” was too obvious to miss. “Wait a minute, are you telling me you know who is from Har…”

DON’T SAY IT!” Bug jumped off his stool and waved his arms frantically in front of Will, spilling his coffee everywhere.

Will nearly toppled off of his stool, but managed to focus his shock enough he suffered only a small splash of cocoa staining the cuff of his shirt sleeve. “OK! Why can’t I say his name?”

Nobody slowly removed his glasses and lowered his voice as he responded 2. “For one very important reason, Will. If you do, the Lawyers might be able to hear you.”


  1. I perfectly understand people’s need to hear language with which they identify. But in this case “him” is not being used as a default generic. I, the Narrator, happen to be a man. 
  2. Nobody does not, in fact, wear glasses. But they appeared in this instance because the narrative demanded it. 
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