Fiction Tuesday – Wide Awake

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

“Ow.” Will slowly opened his eyes and found himself lying, once more, on the pea green sofa. This time Will had both an ice pack on his head and a cup of cold tea sitting on a nearby coffee table. His two companions apparently wanted to make up for their previous lack of narrative convention. Will’s, “Ow,” as he awoke was done mostly on reflex. He was shocked to find his headache gone, despite having been hit over the head with a wooden mallet. The teen reached up to his head and did take note of one negative outcome to his encounter with said mallet. There was circular imprint on his forehead.

“Well, kid, I did tell you to stand still. Don’t worry, that’ll go away soon. The prof seems to think I hit you a bit too hard.” Will looked up and saw Bug sitting in the very chair in which he’d been sitting previously. Will did take note, however, the gnome wasn’t twisting his hat in concern. For some reason this, even more than being hit in the head with a wooden mallet, annoyed him.

“Why did you even hit me at all? I figured you’d get me medicine or something like that. Who in their right mind thinks, ‘Hey, this guy needs a headache cure. Let me go fetch my mallet?’”

To Will’s dismay, Bug smiled and hefted up the offending tool. “Well, kid, when the mallet is made of sapling wood, it’s the best medicine there is.”

Will could suddenly feel his headache coming back, but didn’t want to let Bug know about it while he was armed. Instead of reaching for his temples he replied, “OK, I guess I have to ask. What’s ‘sapling wood?’”

“Oh, Will, it’s wonderful stuff. Really,” said the professor as he entered the room, carrying a fresh cup of tea. “It saps stress and pain from the body when it hits the skin with some kinetic force. It’s done wonders for people who suffer from Arthritis, one small whack with a stick of sapling wood and arthritic pain can disappear for up to three whole days!”

Will rolled his eyes, “Right, because that makes so much sense.”

“Like I said before I laid you out, kid, this is imagination. Sense has nothing to do with it. This mallet is specially designed for headaches. The stronger the headache, the harder you got to swing. I figured you had a doozy so I put everything in it. Only it worked too good.”

“Too good? Bug, you knocked me out!”

“Oh, not really,” Nobody chimed. “You see, between the confusion-induced headache and your over-all stress level, the combination of Bug’s blow and the properties of the sapling wood mallet sent you to sleep.”

“Sleep?”

Bug grinned again. “Yah, kid, you must have really needed it. You went out like a light!”

“For how long?”

Bug shared an apprehensive stare with Nobody, as if they were silently debating who would answer Will’s question. After several quiet moments, Will decided to break the impasse himself.

“Bug, how long have I been asleep?”

The Professor relaxed noticeably and, Will noticed, took a step away from the sofa. Gripping the mallet, Bug stood up and said, “Uhhh, about three days.”

THREE DAYS!

“Yeah, well, the prof says your brain and and body needed to get on the same page.” Will looked over at Nobody, who smiled a bit too broadly and nodded.

“Yes. But please understand, Will. You needn’t worry about the time you spent here. We can send you back at almost the exact instant you placed the coin in the slot.” Nobody stroked his chin as he squinted in thought, “At least, I’m fairly certain I can.”

“I can’t believe it.”

“Well, kid, believe it. I’ve been taking shifts with the prof for three days waiting for you to wake up. Sindy is a bit angry with me for hitting you so hard, to be honest.”

“No, Bug, I can’t believe I’ve been out for three days and you two left me laid out on an old sofa!”

The Professor and Bug looked at each other and then back to Will. Bug shrugged his shoulders. “Oops?”

“‘Oops?’ You left me on a sofa for three days, leaving me with a terrible kink in my neck,” at that Bug brightened noticeably and moved to raise his mallet. Will raised a hand in warning, “If you try to hit me with that thing again, Bug, I’m not going to be held responsible for that I do to you!” Bug lowered his arms and scowled as Will concluded, “After all that, all you can say is, ‘oops?’”

“Well, kid, what can I say? I’m not good with the hospitality thing. And the prof doesn’t really have any friends he’d be able to practice on, to tell you the truth.” Bug cocked his head and lowered his voice to conspiracy levels. “People think he’s a bit weird, to be honest.”

“You don’t say? I would have never figured that out.” Will collapsed back into the sofa with a groan. “Look, Bug, I’m sure you guys are doing your best. But I’ve been taken out of my world, told I’m supposed to be some sort of a prophet for a religion you all can’t even figure out, and the only two people I know in this entire world seem to have the social skills of a rusty doorknob. This is a bit much, you know?”

“A shower!” The words emerged from Nobody like a bark. Will turned to him, expecting to witness the gnomish academic in some sort of a fit. Instead, a look of triumph graced the Professor’s face.

“Professor? Are you OK?”

The look of triumph remained on his features as Nobody repeated, “A shower!” He stared at the others, apparently waiting for them to take up his odd cry. When neither Will nor Bug took the opportunity to join his cry, the Professor sighed and continued, “You have been asleep and in the same clothes for three days, Will. I’m sure a good shower and a fresh set of clothing would make a world of difference!”

Bug clapped his hands together joyfully. “Doc, you actually had a social insight!”

Nobody smiled proudly. “Thank you, Bug! I’ve been working on having one for the entire time Will was asleep. That’s three this year, you know.”

Will threw his arms up. He really didn’t want to get involved in the Professor’s social disorders. “Stop! Professor, a shower sounds nice, but a change of clothes might be a bit hard to come by. Bug didn’t have me pack for an extended stay.”

“Oh, not to worry. Bug had Sindy come over and measure you yesterday. There are several new outfits waiting for you in that package.”

Will took a deep breath. “Let me get this straight. I was alseep.”

“Yes.”

“And you thought, ‘When he wakes up he’ll want to get changed, so let’s measure him up for some new outfits.’”

“Well, kid, that was actually Sindy’s idea. I went home for dinner one night and complained at how much you were beginning to smell. After the ring of the frying pan left my ears, Sindy marched me over here and she measured you.”

Will shook his head. “OK, ummm, thank you.”

“You’re very welcome Will. Now get off that sofa and go get a shower, young man. You do stink.” Will turned towards the front door and saw Sindy enter the house while removing her false beard. She’d arrived to check in on her sleeping fashion model.

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