Fiction Tuesday – All Aboard

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

The Mayor sniffed in derision. “This is highly irregular, Agent Masterful!”

The IBI Agent boldly approached the raised chairs. This caused some murmuring among the seated councilors, who normally wouldn’t tolerate such brazen familiarity. Showing no signs of intimidation, Sills approached the Mayor directly and spoke to him in a low voice.

“I’m aware of this, Mayor, and I do apologize. Nevertheless, Professor Cooly Nobody is vital to the war effort and is therefor falls under the jurisdiction of the IBI.”

The Mayor’s face shifted to a deep crimson as he hissed his response. “To blazes with the war effort! What’s it gotten us except a great deal of dead, faded, and partially faded gnomes! Our penny output has dropped 25% over the last three years simply because we don’t have the gnome-power to do more! You tell the Throne that when you give your report.”

Sills nodded. “I certainly will, Mayor. I’m sure they’ll keep it in mind.” She spread her arms and bowed slightly. “But if that’s all…”

The Mayor waved his hands with imperial anger. “Begone with you. And see you keep this… immigrant out of Great Roll!”

Sills turned to Will and his friends, pointed toward the door, and strode out of the room. “Let’s go, folks, we’ve got things to do,” she called over her shoulder.

With a shrug Bug motioned for Will to follow the agent, which he did gratefully. The others followed behind him. She led the group down the front stairs and into the courtyard through which they’d entered City Hall. A large van was waiting outside, and Sills climbed into the driver’s seat without a word. The others climbed in the back, and Will crouched on the floor as best as he could. Nobody got in the front passenger’s seat. Only when the van was moving did their rescuer break her silence.

“You two have got a lot of explaining to do.”

“Thanks for the assist, Sills,” Bug called merrily from the back, eliciting a distinct “humph!” from Sindy.

“Thank me later. Right now I’m trying to decide if I shouldn’t bring you both up on charges myself.”

“Oh agent, what for?” Questioned Nobody. “We are pursuing our commissioned work, after all.”

“Yah, Sills, you said we’d have full and unquestioned access to anything in The Realm.” Sindy responded to this statement with a distinct, “Harumph.” Having a well-developed sense of self-preservation, Bug decided to sit back in his seat — trying to pretend he didn’t exist.

“That’s true, but I don’t remember saying anything about imports,” snapped Sills as she jabbed a thumb back toward Will.

“Oh,” was the only answer Bug dared mutter. Nobody, on the other hand, beamed an ever brighter smile.

“Happily, Will is now in The Realm. So therefor we are still working in line with our agreement. I’m so glad that problem is solved!”

Sills winced and shook her head. “I’m not sure it’s that simple, Professor.”

“Well I don’t see why not,” Nobody pouted. “We have been commissioned to contribute our work to ending the war, and Will is essential to that goal.”

“And just how is he essential, Professor?”

Nobody rubbed his hands together gleefully. “Oh, well, I’m afraid I’ll have to save that for my report! I don’t want to spoil the surprise!”

Sills winced again. “Professor, the last surprise you wanted to keep secret shut down the trains for four days.”

“That was you,” cried Sindy from her seat. She shot her husband a vengeful stare, which caused Bug to pull his hat off his head and twist it in his hands.

“Sorry?” he offered, accompanied with an apologetic smile.

“It doesn’t matter anyway. Your time is up, Professor. The Throne’s called you to a general meeting of the Governors, where you’re going to present your findings.”

“Now? Oh no, Agent Masterful, now is not a good time at all. I have so much to do and with Will’s arrival my experiments are at a critical juncture.”

“Sorry, Professor, your marker’s been called. I’m to escort you to The Empty Throne myself.” Sills stopped the Van and put the vehicle in park. Pointing out the windshield she added, “Sindy’s already packed for herself, Bug, and your friend there. You’ve got ten minutes to pack some things and grab your research notes. We’re on the 4:30 to No Entry.”

Nobody opened his mouth to protest, but Bug cut him off. “C’mon Prof, time’s wasting.” He slide open the van’s side door and exited the vehicle. Will made to join him but was prevented by Sills.

“Not so fast, kid. You stay here.”

“Me? Why?”

“Because he,” she replied with a jab toward Nobody. “Wants you. If you’re here, he’s gotta come back.”

“Oh.”

“Get going, Cooly, you’ve got packing to do.”

Bug opened Nobody’s door and escorted the Professor back to his house. The two disappeared in the doorway, leaving the three other passengers sitting in awkward silence, which Will decided to break.

“Agent Sills?”

“Um-hm?” she replied.

“Why is it called ‘The Empty Throne?’”

Sill shook her head in annoyance. “Wow, you folks from the Shops aren’t too quick on the uptake, are you? It’s ‘The Empty Throne’ because no one’s sitting on it.”

“Well, why isn’t anyone sitting on it?”

“Because we don’t have a king…”

“Or a queen,” Sindy added.

“Or a queen,” Sills nodded in agreement.

“But… why not?”

“Because we don’t. I don’t know kid. I’m a cop, I like my politics simple, and the Governors give me a headache. OK? Can we all be quiet now?”

“Uh, ok.”

Several minutes later Bug and Nobody emerged from the house and locked the door. They climbed back into the van and Bug declared, “OK, let’s go.”

Sills, however, didn’t move.

“Don’t you think you’re forgetting something, Professor?”

“Hmm? Oh, no, I do believe I have everything I need,” Nobody replied. When Sills didn’t restart the van he added, “Thank you for asking, though. It was very kind.”

“Professor.”

“Yes?”

“Where’s all your stuff?”

“Oh, that!” Nobody chuckled. “Oh, well, I can see how that could be confusing.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small wallet. “This is one of my newest inventions, which I plan on showing to the munitions board. It’s a bottomless wallet. It’s always as big as you need it to be, and never weighs more than the weight of the leather which makes up it’s outer form.”

Sills nodded her head appreciatively. “Nice, Professor. I can certainly see uses for that.”

“Oh yes, it will make logistics so much easier. Though I did find it a bit difficult to fit the missile launchers through the opening. It just barely opened wide enough to allow them inside. But, it’s just a prototype, I’m sure it can be improved.”

Sill’s appreciative look morphed quickly into disbelief, which Nobody completely ignored.

“Shouldn’t we be going?” Nobody asked. “We do have a train to catch, after all.”

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