Flash Fiction #3
This one is a little longer, but it was an entry for a Tumblr blog contest in which I placed second. I was rather surprised and elated at the response to my writing by people I don't even know.
Galworth had been in tight spots before, but in all the decades of being a gremlin, he had never faced a bad situation such as this. His four inch tall frame was pressed into the corner of the master bedroom farthest away from the door, with a nasty calico cat between him and it, staring him down. The invisibility enchantment on his mouse fur coat was losing its effectiveness and he couldn’t move because the homeowners were in the room as well.
“Sweetheart,” the man said, “I’m not saying that you don’t deserve to go dress shopping every now and then, but is there any way you could stop from buying ten of them at a time?”
The woman stared back at the man and said, “So I’m to look like some peasant woman while the other VP’s of your company have their companions dressed to the nines? How is that going to help your promotional chances, Milton? I’m doing this for you!”
Galworth was well over this human drama and was anxiously awaiting an opportunity to make a run for it. He would have left by now, but the cat was looking at him like she wasn’t sure what to do with him just yet. He was angry that he had not been able to afford the re-enchantment before this job, but Malady had demanded money from him just the day before to the feed the kids she took with her when she stormed out of their house last month. He wasn’t even entirely sure they were all his children, but he kept them fed anyways. He wasn’t a jerk. But if had just gotten the damned spell cast on his coat, he wouldn’t be in this mess and could have given her the money on Friday like he had planned.
Being a gremlin was easy money. Stealing socks from the dresser, pulling loose threads on shirts, and discharging batteries was the bread and butter of their profession. All paid for by Undergarment Mob, the ShirtKuza, and Big Battery. Tossing Legos onto the floor was just for kicks. Humans were generally easy to avoid, especially with those smartphones. Kids were dismissed as seeing things, but pets were the wild card. Dogs would sniff them out, but being unable to see them, they would give up when some other distraction came along. Cats usually ignored the gremlins because, well, they’re cats. But every once in a while, the felines would make it their business to just stare them down and stalk them like mice. Especially when enchantment spells started to wear off.
Galworth had an escape plan but it required a distraction. Without it, he would have to enact ‘Plan B’. A simple press on his belt buckle would ignite his tiny body and turn him into a dust bunny. Certainly not his first choice, but the Gremlin Code was simple: Do Not Get Caught. Doing so would unravel centuries of secrecy and expose their benefactors in an unfavorable light. The repercussions of which would be cataclysmic. Not to mention that Malady would have to find some other source of income for her brood.
By this time, the humans had moved out of the room, but the calico was stock still, waiting to see if Galworth was going to make the first move. His bag with the grappling hook and tools was between him and the cat, just to his right. Gremlins could jump well, but he knew that if he bounced over for his bag and then tried to bounce away, the cat would certainly catch him mid-flight. That’s how his brother Heinrich met his end. Armed only with his hands and his wits, he gambled his life on the only tactic he had at his disposal. He began to cry.
He hung his head and started sobbing at first. Then he began to start bawling, hands cradling his face. A gremlin’s voice frequency is impossible for humans to hear, but the cat picked it up easily. Between his fingers, he saw the feline look curiously at him. She seemed at a loss as to what was happening in front of her. Slowly, Galworth shuffled a foot forward. The cat did not move. So he moved his other foot forward while still crying. The calico stayed put. Galworth figured he had another five steps to take before he could safely jump for the bag then attempt to scurry under the nearby dresser.
Suddenly the woman stormed back into the room yelling, “I don’t say anything about how much time you spend down at the lodge drinking with your buddies! You need to let me have something to myself!”
The cat turned her head towards the commotion and that’s when Galworth saw his chance. He leapt towards his bag, nabbed it, and then jumped on top of the cat’s head. The calico was caught by surprise and started to freak out. Galworth jumped from her head to the bookshelf near the door, hiding behind the collected works of Douglas Adams, deluxe edition.
While he caught his breath, Galworth was reconsidering his exit plan. He wanted to leave the way he came in, through a small termite damaged hole in the doorframe of the garage. With the calico on the prowl for him, he wouldn’t be able to make that distance. He sighed heavily. The sink and tub drains were ordinarily too small for gremlins to use. His only option was down the toilet. He had done this once before and it was the worst experience in his entire life. Even the mere mention of ‘red tide’ caused him nausea to this day. He decided that it was best to just hurry up and get this over with.
He peered from behind the books trying to get a glimpse of the cat. He saw that the woman was seated on the bed and was gently stroking the feline in her arms. “Poor puddin’,” she cooed, “Mama didn’t want to scare you. Daddy’s being mean. Let’s go to the kitchen and get you a snacky wacky.”
The cat saw Galworth in his hiding spot and stared at him intensely, but nothing more. It seemed that the calico wanted treats more that it wanted a gremlin and that suited Galworth just fine. The woman and the cat left the room, so Galworth made his way into the master bathroom.
He was pleasantly surprised to find that this bathroom was one of the finer ones he had ever been in. It had not only a toilet, but a bidet and a stand up urinal. A large walk in shower with light beige travertine tiled walls and floor. Dual sink basins for him and her. And in the middle of all this, a large floor drain to handle overflows.
Galworth danced happily towards the floor drain, pulled out his flat head screwdriver, and loosened the grating. He slung his bag onto his back, slid one side of the grating to squeeze into the drain, and carefully put it back into place. He held his breath and dropped down into the drain towards the sewers and freedom. Boy did he ever have a tale for the boys down at the tavern.