Fiction Tuesday – Departing Expectations

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

“We’re taking a train?”

Bug snorted. “What is it with people from your world, kid? You think fantastic folk are all technologically backwards.”

“What? No we don’t!” Will protested.

“Look, Kid, you keep forgetting I’ve been out to the shops.”

“They aren’t shops, Bug. They’re our homes.”

“Whatever. Anyway, I’ve browsed the book shelves and I’ve seen what you people think of us. All horses and swords and walking everywhere. Why can’t you think up some fantastic people who actually ride around in trains or ride a bike? I mean, look at this.”

Bug reached into his bag and rummaged around for a bit before pulling out an old, beaten up paperback. It’s papers were yellowed with age, and the cover was creased in several places. Bug held it up in front of Will’s face. “You see this? I’ve read the book a dozen times and these people are idiots. They’re supposed to be on a quest to slay a dragon, but they just keep stumbling from meal to meal getting into trouble. And what’s with the Elves?” Bug paused his rant and looked at Will as if expecting a response.

“What do you mean, ‘What’s with the Elves?’”

“They’re all wise and noble and strong. That’s not what Elves are like at all. They’re a bunch of narcissistic whiners, you people act like they’re the greatest thing since sliced cheese 1.”

Will was beginning to become angry. “How is anyone from my world supposed to know what elves are really like? We don’t have elves. For us it’s just fantasy.”

“Exactly! You all view fantastic people as backwards idiots. I mean, anyone with sense knows you bring a missile launcher to take on a dragon. The dwarves in your book didn’t even consider bringing one with them. And where, may I ask, are the gnomes? All these great worlds you make and gnomes are barely mentioned at all!”

“Bug, I don’t know why… wait a minute,” Will snatched the book from Bug’s hand. “Is this my copy of The Hobbit? I’ve been looking for this since sixth grade!” Will lowered the book to his side and fixed Bug in a Sindy-like glare, “How many times have you been to my house?”

Bug looked like a small child caught with a hand in a cookie jar. “A few, but that’s not the point.”

“No, Bug, I’m really not sure you get the point. So help me, I’d better not find any of my Legos on you.”

“As much as I find your bickering fascinating,” cut in Sills as she put the van in park. “We have a train to catch.” With that, she opened the door and exited the vehicle. When no one followed suit she clapped her hands in frustration and shouted, “Let’s go people. There’s a war on!”

They each exited the van and began to follow Sills through the crowd. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Bug adjusting some things in his pack. He caught Will’s eye, and the teen couldn’t help but glimpse a brief look of guilt cross the gnome’s face before it was replaced with an overly-happy grin. Shrugging off his frustration with gnomish concepts of private property, he continued to follow Sills through the crowded station.

The IBI Agent stopped in front of a board of upcoming departures. She scanned the board for a moment, and then pointed and said, “There it is, the 4:30’s leaving from track ten in five minutes. Let’s move,” she called as he began to barrel her way toward the gate for track ten. The others followed as best they could, knocking several gnomes over along the way.

They reached the gate just as a security gnome was drawing the rope across the stairs. Sills marched up to the guard and held out her badge, “Special Agent Sills, IBI. I need to get these people on the that train.”

Shrugging, the security gnome pulled the rope back and stood aside to allow them to pass. As they descended the stairs toward the train platform Sills sighed in frustration.

“What wrong with you?” Sindy asked, a hint of hostility floating in her voice.

“Just once I’d I like someone to really give me a problem so I can dramatically pull rank on them. I mean, what good is it begin a special agent if everyone let’s you do your job? Every time I flash my badge people just let me do what I want. It’s depressing.”

Will was fascinated by the changed tone when Sindy next opened her mouth. Whereas, before, there was hint of hostility, it now echoed with empathy, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“I mean, I expected the mayor to at least demand for legal confirmation with his lawyers before letting you all go. Then I would have been able to radio ahead and have my task force hold the train. We could have had everyone resenting us for holding them up and then flashed the badge and get what we wanted anyway. We were really looking froward to it.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I think the Mayor really wanted to call for his lawyers.”

Sills smiled slightly. “You do?” she asked, hopefully.

“Yes,” Sindy nodded. “I even saw him raise his hand like he was going to summon them, but a gnome in the back pointed to her watch and shook her head.”

“Well, that makes me feel a bit better,” Sindy replied. Her face brightened, “Some things should be done properly, after all. There’s conventions which have to be maintained.”

Sindy put her hand on Sills’s shoulder just as they were about to enter the car. “I absolutely understand.” Sindy turned and smiled at Bug while mouthing, “I like her.” In reply Bug nodded with a hopeful grin and gave a thumbs up. Sindy’s face then quickly shifted to a scowl as she mouthed a second statement with a jab of her finger, “You are still in trouble, though.” At this, Bug’s face whitened in fear.

With that, the group boarded the train and found the private compartment Sills had reserved for the trip. By the time their luggage was stowed in the racks, the agent was practically beaming with delight. On the way to their compartment the conductor had complained to Sills their late arrived had pushed their timetable back twenty minutes.


  1. I feel I should point out The Realm has had pre-sliced bread for the better part of a thousand years. It was actually an ancestor of Nobody’s who invented the slicer. Pre-sliced cheese, on the the other hand, had to be reversed engineered from pre-wrapped American cheese singles and had only been around for twenty years or so. Sadly, they have yet to discover Provolone 
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