Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes
Will cracked open his eyes, and groaned as light filled his skull for the first time in days.
“It’s alright, kid. Lay back and we’ll get you something,” Bug’s voice cut through Will’s confusion.
“Wha?” Will shot up in be and squinted enough to absorb his surroundings without being blinded. “Where’m’I? Wha’happened?”
“You don’t speak very well when you’re groggy, kid.”
“Will! You’re awake!” cried Sindy from across the room. “I’ve been so worried!” She ran to his bed and pulled him down into a tight embrace, her false beard was wet with tears.
Will took a deep breath and swallowed. “Can someone tell me what happened?”
“Well, kid,” Bug began, but then paused. “What do you remember?” he added, and Will was alarmed by the concern he heard in Bug’s voice.
“I remember going into the chamber, and seeing all the Governors. And there was big empty chair up in front of everyone.”
“And then there was a flash of light… and I woke up here.”
“You don’t remember anything else?” asked Sindy.
Will closed his eyes and tried to remember what had happened in the Board Chamber. He recalled again his nervousness as he entered the great hall, and the flash of light… but then his memory was blank. As he was about to shake his head, however, Will’s face whitened.
He remembered screams.
“There was screaming,” the teen whispered.
Sindy’s embrace tightened. “Yes, Will, there was. But don’t you remember anything else?”
Tears were falling down Will’s face, and joined those already absorbed in Sindy’s ornamental beard.
“No,” he managed to choke out.
The two gnomes shared a questioning glance, which ended with Sindy nodding toward her husband. Bug pulled his hat off his head and began twisting it in a manner Will now found familiar. Bug was nervous.
“Well, kid, someone blew up the Board Building.”
Will pushed Sindy away. “That’s what the flash was?”
Bug nodded. “Yah. The Prof thinks it was probably the largest injunction munition ever used in The Realm. It should have obliterated most of The Empty Throne — name and all.”
Bug looked up into his friend’s eyes 1. “You stopped it kid. Or, at least, you contained it.”
“I stopped it?”
“It was… amazing, Will,” Sindy cut in. “You held out your hands and the explosion just… stopped. Then you threw your arms up and it all just went… up.”
“To the sky, Kid. That big blue thing up there. Well, Pink. It’s a good thing it was pink, too. You shot it straight up, and the prof isn’t sure what would’ve happened if you’d hit the Sun with all that energy.”
“So… everyone’s ok?”
Sindy grabbed Will again as fresh tears dripped on to his sheets. “No. You saved most of the Governors, and all of us. But there was nothing to be done for anyone right over the blast. They faded instantly.”
Will gulped down a breath. “How many?”
“About a third of the Governors are gone, Will. And another fifty or so are being treated for advanced fading, but they’ll all get better.” Bug responded. “But it should have been worse. If you hadn’t been they all would have faded.”
This didn’t make Will feel any better, but he decided to drop it and focus on more personal matters. “So how did I end up here?”
“You passed out, kid. As soon as all that injunction energy shot out the roof of the Chamber you turned ash white and fell to the floor like a sack of coffee beans.”
“My father thought you were dead. I’ve never seen him so worried.”
“And you’ve been lying here ever since. We’ve been taking turns sitting with you.”
“How long ago was that?”
Bug and Sindy shared another knowing look.
“Guys? How long?”
“Four days, kid.”
“Four days? But… the firewall!”
Bug reached up and placed his hand on Will’s shoulder. “Relax, kid. The firewall’s fine… for now. The Prof managed to remote-upload a fan-fiction protective sub-routine. He thinks it may have given us another week or so.”
Bug’s grinned with malicious glee, “He filed an injunction against the Horde’s virus.”
“Well, it did seem an appropriate use of the technology. Though I was a bit worried it would cause the entire mountain range to fade. But, as they say, ‘necessity is the mother of reckless behavior.’ At least, I think that’s how it goes.”
Will leaned forward and toward Nobody’s voice. The old gnome stood just inside the doorway, looking more rumpled and distracted than he’d ever seen him. Dark circles were visible under his eyes, which were bloodshot. His clothes were wrinkled like crumpled up paper, and Will wondered if the gnome had slept or changed clothes in the four days since the explosion.
“Well, now you’re up and my patch is completed, I’m going to collapse,” Nobody declared. And then he did. The old gnome fell to the ground without ceremony, and Bug went and lifted him into the other bed in Will’s hospital room.
“I was afraid that would happen,” said Bug after he laid his father-in-law on to the mattress. “He hasn’t slept at all, and even coffee can only keep you going for so long.”
“Will he be ok?”
Bug waved his hands dismissively. “Oh yah, he does this at least once or twice a year. He’ll probably wake up with a new idea for a computer game or portable media device. The last time he passed out like this ‘Snack Like Nobody’s Business’ was the result.”
Having sampled some of Nobody’s flavors, Will wasn’t thrilled to imagine what idea the professor would come out with when he awoke. So he changed the subject.
“OK, so what do we do until he wakes up?”
“Right now, Will,” Sills spoke as she entered the room. “You are going to take a shower and get dressed. General Isme wants to see you.” The agent glanced up at Nobody as he lay on the hospital bed, snoring. “He wants to see the Professor, too. But I guess that’ll have to wait.”
“Who’s General Isme?”
“He’s the Supreme Commander of all our armed forces. And, as our government has basically gone into hiding, he’s pretty much running The Realm.”
- Do you keep forgetting how short the gnomes are? ↩