Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes
Will opened his eyes.
He was lying in his bed, wearing the same clothes he’d been wearing the night Bug had woken him up those many months ago. Nothing in his room seemed amiss, which wasn’t what he was expecting.
“Was it just a dream?” he whispered to himself.
The befuddled teen reached for his phone and woke the screen. It read “7:08 AM, Saturday, October 21.”
“That’s right, it was a Friday night when Bug woke me up,” he muttered to himself.
As Will began to ponder the possibility his trip had been the result of an over-active imagination, he heard someone walking around downstairs. Further awakened by these sounds he also took notice of some scents wafting through his room. The aroma of bacon caused his mouth to water. The second he was shocked to find appealing, coffee.
Will slipped out of bed and made his way downstairs. His parent’s bedroom door was still shut, so he doubted the unseen breakfast maker was either his mother or father. They left their door cracked after they woke up. He took gentle steps down the stairs, so as to not broadcast his presence, and then turned the corner to enter the kitchen.
“Well, good morning William,” announced an older gentleman as Will stepped into the room. The man smiled, and a twinkle sparked in his eyes, “Would you like some coffee?”
“Come on in and sit down, son. I’ve got the pancakes made and the bacon is coming.” He then reached for a mug and poured will a cup of coffee the nearby pot, handing it to Will as he climbed on to a stool at the counter.
Will accepted the mug, and the cream and sugar which were slid over to him even before he asked, but the offer confused him. He’d never drank coffee before his trip to The Realm. And as he was becoming certain his trip was nothing more than a dream he wasn’t sure that counted.
“Grandpa, have you ever seen me drink coffee?”
The older man chuckled, “No. No, I can’t say I have.”
“So, why did you offer me a cup?”
Will’s grandfather smiled. “Oh, I just thought you might like a cup this morning.”
There was something about his grandfather’s voice which sparked a memory from his dream trip. Will’s eyes opened wide and his mouth dropped open. His grandfather continued to smile, the twinkle in his eye growing along with Will’s shock shock.
“It was you. You’re the Narrator!”
Grandpa beamed with pride, “Guilty.” He perched himself on a stool of his own. “Did you enjoy your trip?”
“That was real?”
“Well, as real as a real person can travel into imagination.”
“But I was gone for months?”
“And you were talking with me!”
“Well I couldn’t let my grandson go on his adventure alone, now could I? I do have to say I wasn’t certain the gift had been passed to you, I was so happy when Bug arrived to take you to The Realm. Did you know you’re the first Narrator in our history to ever go to The Realm?”
“But… it’s tomorrow!”
Grandpa’s eyes sparkled even brighter. “Time moves different in The Realm, Will. Didn’t Nobody tell you that?”
“Well, yes. But… then I woke up in my bed, and I was wearing the clothes I went to sleep in, and it’s tomorrow. And I was gone for months and you were talking with me the whole time, how could you have been talking with me the whole time if it was really just one night?”
“I was asleep, Will. I followed you in my dreams, and in dreams time doesn’t matter. I saw your whole adventure, and I’m so proud of the difference you made!”
“I really didn’t do anything, Grandpa. Bug and the Professor just drug me along and I went with them.”
“Nonsense,” Grandpa spat out as he stabbed a pancake with a serving fork. “You stopped the Copyright Horde from taking over The Bar, you re-awakened The Realm to the importance of Narrative, and you put the right Sovereign on the throne.”
The older MacGill grinned as he served Will a stack of pancakes. “Sindy is going to be shaking things up, and that will be fun to watch over. You did everything you were called to do.”
Will nodded. “Yah.”
“Well, maybe you’d better ask, ‘Why us?’”
“Yah,” Will nodded. “Why could you see me in your dreams?”
Grandpa handed the bewildered teen a plate of pancakes and bacon, and then began preparing his own serving as he responded. “You and I, Will, inherited a gift. We see The Realm of Imagination in ways no one else can.”
Will shook his head as he poured syrup over his breakfast. “I don’t understand.”
“Will, where do good ideas come from?”
The teen shrugged, “I dunno. People just think them up, I guess.”
“Yes, they do. And they do the same thing with stories, and family tales, and even with home improvement. Do you think your dad’s love of duct tape came out of nowhere?”
“I just thought he picked it up from other people.”
Grandpa smiled, “Exactly! All these things come from our imagination. And the good idea, the really good ones like the wonders of duct tape, get shared far and wide.”
Will shrugged, “OK?”
“And did you ever wonder where imagination comes from?”
Will gnawed down a strip of bacon as he pondered his grandfather’s question, when he had a sudden epiphany.
“Wait, you mean our imagination really comes from The Realm?”
Grandpa reached over and slapped Will’s back. “Yes! Well, we perceive it as The Realm, anyway. Who knows what it really is.”
“But… why can we see it?”
“Ahh,” Grandpa breathed as he thrust a single finger into the air. “That is the question, isn’t it? Over the generations our family has had this awareness. We know when it’s doing well, and we know when it’s struggling. Sometimes we even see it in our dreams, and when we do we’ve guided it in ways which would help keep it healthy.”
“So the Narrators who spoke to the prophets came from our family?”
Grandpa nodded with a grin, “Yes. Except for you, of course. You’re both Narrator and prophet, that’s something unique!”
“But… why? What’s the point?”
“Will, imagine a world where The Realm was desolate, controlled, or divided. Where would the energy for our new ideas come from? What would happen to our stories, and our shared memories?”
“You mean the Professor was right? If The Horde had won the war, or if the Penny Ore would have been detonated…”
“…our culture would have died. Yes, but not right away. Most people wouldn’t even have noticed the problem for a very long time. But we would have faded, as sure as if we’d been hit with an injunction round.”
“So… what are we?”
“We’re the caretakers, Will. We watch over The Realm and try to keep it healthy so imagination keeps flowing from that world into ours. And we’re not the only ones, there are other realms of imagination out there. They all have their own caretakers.”
“Of course! Every language and culture has their own Realm of Imagination, and they have to be nurtured every bit as much as our own. I’ve met some of the other Narrators, too. And now, I’ll introduce you to them.”
Will sipped his coffee. “I guess I’ll look forward to that.”
“You’d better!” Grandpa blurted out as he chewed a fork-full of pancake.
“But… Grandpa?” Will’s voice expressed a bit more pleading than he’d intended, but the unspoken question was communicated loud and clear.
Will’s grandfather placed his fork back on his place and sighed.
“You want to know if you’ll ever go back?”
Will nodded, and his grandfather smiled. “I don’t know, Will. You’re something new, after all. So, maybe. If Bug needs you, or if Professor Nobody gets a new idea he needs to test out, maybe you’ll go back — but I doubt it. I do know this. From now on you’ll always be able to see The Realm. And one day you might have to speak your own voice into it.”
Will sighed. If he was honest with himself his grandfather’s answer had been what he was expecting. Even as he travelled back to Great Roll he’d felt himself detaching from The Realm, as if the land it self was expelling his presence. The teen and his grandfather finished their breakfasts in silence, pondering all that had been said and all Will had experienced.
As he sipped the last of his coffee, Will found himself looking forward to sleep that night. He wanted to look in on Sindy’s reign as Sovereign, and see how Nobody’s snack business was developing. Most of all he wanted to search for Bug, and find out how his friend’s life was going. And, as he pondered the window his slumber would open, Will had an idea..
— The End —