A Land of Gnomes
A Land of Gnomes25 mins 470 25 mins 470
It was raining heavily outside. Tom wished it wasn’t raining. There wasn’t much to do at home, and, if it wasn’t raining outside, he could at least go exploring out in the thick forest near his bungalow. But it was raining, so he couldn’t go out to explore the forest, as his Mother thought that he may catch a cold if he went in the rain without an umbrella, and Tom always preferred to go ‘camping’ in the woods without an umbrella. As there was nothing else he could do at home, he took a nap.
When he woke up, thankfully, it had stopped raining. He grinned to himself and ran to the kitchen, where his Mother was cooking pasta. “Mom, can I go exploring in the woods?” Tom asked, praying that his Mother would say yes.
“Yes, but on one condition.” Replied Mother.
“What?” Tom asked excitedly. He felt like he would even pick up a mountain with his bare hands as long as he was allowed to go to the woods nearby!
“Taste some of this pasta. It’s delicious!”
“Sure thing!” Tom said. He thought his Mother would probably ask him to study or something boring like that, but he was wrong. He quickly gulped up some of the pasta his Mother was making and grabbed all his things he took when he went into the wilderness- a torch if it was a bit difficult to see, something to eat (he mostly carried energy bars and snack bars) if he felt hungry, and his hat. Even though it wasn’t so useful in the jungle, Tom thought that his hat made him look like a real wilderness explorer.
Tom hadn’t even stepped out of the house when he suddenly remembered- he had forgotten his binoculars! He grumbled and darted into his bedroom. He quickly took the binoculars and rushed out of the house. He jogged through the road that took him through the forest. It was surrounded by tall trees on each end and you could also see rabbits or hens sometimes; passing the road. The road wasn’t too thin; nor was it too wide. It was just the perfect size for people and animals to pass through. Tom was never afraid of going in the woods after his Mother told him that there were no lions or tigers or animals like that. But once, Tom had also seen a herd of elephants drinking water in the lake in the forest. Soon, after two minutes of walking, Tom reached the end of the main road. At this point the road divided into 4 other roads and they too then, divided into another dozen roads, which led to the heart of the forest. Tom thought of which route he should explore now.
He had no fear of getting lost, because he also carried a GPS Tracker with him, which actually belonged to his father. Father had given it to him after Tom started to visit the jungle every weekend; as he feared Tom may get lost, and he (Tom’s father) also didn’t need it anymore. Tom decided to take the route to the lake nearby, as a lot of animals used to come and gather there, such as cranes, hippos, etcetera. He started out on the route. It was a bit narrower than the main road, but quite enough for all the animals to move from here to there. On the way, he met a deer which crossed the road as quick as lightning, and a flock of hens and ducks. He finally reached the lake after ten minutes of walking. He sat down on a rock and began to eat a snack bar. After that he decided to watch everything keenly with his binoculars, which, actually were brand new. Tom had got it 4 days ago. It was a gift from his Grandmother, who always kept giving him all the things he liked. Suddenly, he spotted a path he hadn’t noticed the last time he had come to the lake.
“Which path is that?” he thought. “Let me check it out.”
He got up from the rock and began to walk toward the path. It was surrounded by a tree he had never seen before. The tree was short and had a beautiful type of leaf, which Tom liked. He picked a few and decided to show them to his Mother and Father at home.
The road seemed to be never-ending. Tom stopped near a tree and began to eat another energy bar when suddenly he heard a tiny voice.
“Excuse me, could you please give me one of those bars?” the voice said.
Tom looked up, but could see nothing except the odd-shaped trees.
“Excuse me, I am standing right beside you. Could you please give me one of those snack bars? They look really tasty….”
Tom was about to get to the conclusion that he was hearing things, when he suddenly spotted one of the most peculiar things in his life. Standing beside him, was a little
girl-gnome with pigtails. She was a little shorter than Tom, and she looked at the snack bars with her big eyes. Tom could understand that whoever she was, she was really, really hungry.
She was about to repeat her question when Tom handed her the bar he was eating. She took it and began to eat it slowly.
“Thank you!” she said, with her mouth full of bits of Tom’s snack bars. “I am Pigtails the gnome. How can I ever thank you?”
“Well, uhm...” Tom stammered.
“You probably want to know where I come from, right?” Pigtails interrupted, reading his thoughts.
“Yes.” Tom said, quickly.
“Well, then follow me. I’ll show you where I live.”
Tom started to follow the gnome. The more ahead they went, the more peculiar the surroundings began to look. Now, instead of those odd-shaped trees, there were beautiful rosebushes at the edge of the road, and, the road seemed to have expanded a lot. Suddenly, few houses came into sight. They looked small, sturdy and peculiar all at the same time. Soon, more houses came into sight. Tom looked behind. The road they had come from was nothing but a dot in the distance by now.
“Come on, keep up with me! You don’t want to get lost here, do you?” Pigtails said.
“Alright, alright…” Tom answered. “But you yourself are walking at a very fast pace…...”
Soon, ahead, a wonderful city came into sight. There were all shapes and sizes and types of houses.
While some had around a dozen windows, some had a roof made of mud while the rest of the houses were made of solid concrete. Suddenly, Pigtails stopped at one house. It was a large or medium-sized house, with a slanting roof and a farm at the backfilled with pigs, sheep, cows, and hens and ducks. This house also had a little pond in which ducks, geese and swans were swimming in it. Some frogs were also sitting on some lily pads. A pig which was loose came towards Pigtails and started to grunt in a happy manner as it came near her legs. Pigtails lovingly patted it and gave it some seeds she had in her pocket. Suddenly it came to Tom and started sniffing his pockets.
“He’s smelling the snack bars in your pockets!” Pigtails remarked.
Tom quickly removed another snack bar, removed its wrapper and threw it at on the ground. He didn’t want any more pigs smelling his pockets!
The door of the large house opened. A gnome a little taller than Tom and wearing spectacles opened it. “Why, darling, it’s you! We thought that you had an encounter with a Goblin in the wood! Oh, and who’s this? She remarked. “Why, bless my soul, it’s a human boy! Pigtails, darling, don’t you know that we’re not supposed to bring one of them here? The King and Queen may banish us from The Land of the Gnomes and Pixies! Then where will we live? We will have no choice but to live in Petrified Land! And you probably will be knowing how much I dislike that horrible place!”
“But Mother, he is kind and generous!” Pigtails protested. “He isn’t like that horrible kid you met yesterday! Why, he gave me one of his snack bars right when I was starving in the woods!”
“Alright, you can let him stay here for some time, but you’ll have to meet the King and Queen regarding this, because they may banish us if we don’t inform them about the boy….” The gnome with spectacles replied.
“At least can you give him the tour of our relatives before he goes to the Royal Castle?” Pigtails asked.
“Ok, ok….” The other gnome answered. “As long as you make it quick….”
“Great!” Pigtails said.
She quickly shoved him into the house. “Alright, see, this is my mother, Sharpness, and, there, sitting in the nearby room, the one with ponytails, is my sister Ponytails.” Pigtails said, pointing at another gnome sitting in a room. Like, Pigtails had described, she had ponytails and was eating some sort of soup. “The gnome sitting beside her is my grandma...” Rambled Pigtails on and on. “…and her name is…. Let it be… I’ll tell you sometime else... Now we need to get to the Royal Castle...”
“Let’s go! We are five minutes late already!” Sharpness huffed impatiently.
Pigtails quickly pushed him out of the house, along with Ponytails and her grandmother. They all walked in a quick manner ahead and ahead, when they finally came to a large, humongous gate made of wood. Sharpness went ahead and knocked on it. It slowly opened, making a creaking sort of noise; which a century-old machine does. They quickly went inside the gate. Inside the gate, there was a garden filled with roses and beautiful trees and there were peacocks and other animals there too. Soon, ahead they came to another humongous gate, this time made up of iron. To open this gate, nobody knocked, instead, the gate opened all by itself. Inside, there was a big hall, with high pillars made up of concrete. At one end of the hall, sat the King and Queen, in humongous chairs, and at another end there was the gate. At the side of the rooms, sat some courtiers, who were, too sitting on enormous chairs, but not as big as the King and Queen’s chairs. The King had a long, brown beard while the Queen had spectacles just like Sharpness and had long hair.
“Hello again, Sharpness and family. What brings you to the court a second time in a week?” The king boomed, sounding loud and kind at the same time.
“Forgive us, O King, but, my daughter, Pigtails, has accidentally brought a human child from the Land of Humans. We are-” Sharpness was interrupted by Pigtails.
“O Great King, this human boy from the Land of Humans is not greedy or has any bad traits in him; instead, his heart is filled with kindness, honesty, and other good traits. And I’m sure that he won’t say a word about the presence of The Land of Gnomes and Pixies to other humans. Won’t you, Tom?” Pigtails asked Tom.
“Oh, yes… I won’t utter a word about this, uh, continent in the outside world.” Tom stuttered.
“Splendid! But, if you do let the cat out of the bag, I have no choice but to banish you under the sea for 7 centuries….” The King said, flipping the pages of a fat, dusty old book. ‘Laws and Rules of the Land of the Gnomes and Pixies’, read the title. Tom wondered why did it have such a big title. He was also trembling from head to toe after what the King had said. He didn’t want to get trapped under the sea for 700 years, his mother and father would be worried where was their son!
The Queen stopped knitting. “And, Tom, dear, you are free to roam around our realm for as long as you want, and you don’t have to worry what your mother and father would say when you get back home, as, even if you spend a week in this realm, when you walk through the border of this realm, the time would be the exact same time as when you had entered this realm. So, it’s like this- if you walk into our realm at 4 o’ clock on Saturday and spend a day at our realm and again go back the next day, it will still be Saturday 4 o’ clock the time you enter your world. Did you understand what I am saying?”
“Yes.” Replied Tom.
“Excellent! You can exit the castle now.” The King said.
“Come on.” Said Sharpness, holding his hand. “Let’s go back home. And I prefer you calling me ‘Mother Sharpness’. Ok?”
“Yes, ok, Mother Sharpness.” Replied Tom. He thought that Mother Sharpness was really kind and jolly and liked her very much indeed.
They went from the castle to Pigtails’ house. Mother Sharpness took out a key and unlocked the door. They all went inside. “Tom, dear, will you sit on the table along with Ponytails and Pigtails? Grandma Alexandra and I are preparing Boryweed Soup.” Mother Sharpness’ voice came from the kitchen.
“Boryweed Soup? Hurray!” Pigtails and Ponytails chorused together, dancing like mad, heading towards the table. Tom was really astonished at this peculiar behavior, and thought that this Boryweed Soup which they were talking about must be really delicious. He too, like the others, headed for the table; but not dancing like mad, unlike Pigtails and Ponytails. There was a little window near the table, and Tom saw that Mother Sharpness and the old woman who he had seen sitting with Ponytails near the table when he first entered their house. “Is your grandmother’s name Alexandra?” Tom asked, out of curiosity.
“Yes, our grandma’s name is Alexandra; and do you know, she is almost 150 years old!” Ponytails answered.
“Oooh! So old!” Tom remarked.
Soon, Tom began to observe the landscape out of the window and what Mother Sharpness and Grandma Alexandra were doing. A loud cackle from Pigtails suddenly caught his attention and he began to look what they were doing. They were quarrelling about something and Tom watched them very keenly. These were the words they were yelling at each other:
“I have won!” Cried Pigtails.
“I know you cheated, so you haven’t won!” Ponytails yelled furiously, going purple with rage.
“You-” Pigtails was abruptly interrupted by Tom.
“Hey, stop fighting, you two! What’s the matter?”
“Let me tell you, first. It is like-” Pigtails was rudely interrupted by Ponytails, who wanted to speak too.
“Don’t listen to her!” She roared, going black as thunder. “She will say all wrong facts!”
“No Tom, don’t listen to-” This time Pigtails was interrupted by Tom, not Ponytails.
“STOP QUARELLING BOTH OF YOU!!!” Tom yelled, going as black as thunder. After Tom shouted, they both stopped quarrelling and stared quite blankly at Tom. “Alright, now, Pigtails, now you tell me what are you fighting about; and Ponytails, don’t interrupt in between.” Tom ordered.
“We were fighting about our game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Tom.” Pigtails replied.
“I did, but Pigtails says that I cheated.” Ponytails replied again.
“Why don’t you play another game of Rock, Paper, Scissors?” Tom suggested. “Whoever wins this game wins the previous game too.”
“Thank you for the splendid idea, Tom! You are really brainy!” Ponytails said.
“Yes, this is a fair idea! Thanks, Tom!” Pigtails exclaimed.
They both played another game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and this time Ponytails won. There was no argument between Ponytails and Pigtails as Tom was watching them and made sure there was no cheating going on. Few minutes later, Mother Sharpness and Grandma Alexandra came holding trays with bowls filled with some weird, greenish stuff Tom had never seen before. Puffs of blue smoke was coming from it, which made it look like it was some witch’s magic potion. As soon as Ponytails and Pigtails got a bowl full of that green stuff, they began to eat it like they were two hungry pigs who had not eaten for a week! In ten minutes, there was not even a single drop of that liquid left in their bowls. Meanwhile, Tom was still staring suspiciously at the liquid. “Don’t stare at Boryweed soup like that, Tom dear! It’s really tasty. Once you will eat it you will know what I am talking about.” Mother Sharpness said, trying to persuade Tom to drink the Boryweed soup. Tom decided to try what Mother Sharpness said, and took a tiny sip of the Boryweed soup. She was right! It did taste really glorious. It tasted like Mother Sharpness and Grandma Alexandra had mixed all the chocolates of the world in it, as it was a bit much sweet! “It is really splendid, Mother Sharpness! How did you prepare it!” Tom exclaimed.
“Well, you should ask Grandma Alexandra, my mother, as she is the one who taught me to make this.” Mother Sharpness replied.
“How did you make it, Grandma Alexandra?” Tom asked, curiously.
“Well, did you know Tom, I was also taught making Boryweed Soup from my mother. You can call her Great-Grandma Ariel. She created the recipe of Boryweed Soup. You can ask anyone in the village. They all will say that it was made by my mother.” Grandma Alexandra spoke.
“Anyways, now, Tom you are coming with us to buy a pancake we ordered? Well, you will have to come as there would be nobody home with you; if you decided to stay here.” Mother Sharpness said.
“I’d be pleased to come.” Tom replied. He felt really excited. It wasn’t every day that he got to go on walks with gnomes in a village populated by gnomes!
Pigtails, Ponytails, Mother Sharpness, Grandma Alexandra and Tom walked out of the house. They all went in the direction opposite to the castle. There were several houses there, which were almost looking alike to the one in which Pigtails stayed. They stopped in front of a humongous house. It had two large chimneys, sticking out from the roof. One had ordinary smoke coming from it, while the other had smoke of all colors rising from it. A big sign hung on the roof. ‘Freda’s Tasty and Finger-Licking Pancakes’, it read. They went inside. It looked like a normal house, but it had a big metal door in the corner of the room, which was locked. Delicious aromas were coming from the room. “Freda!” Mother Sharpness called out. “We’ve come to take our pancakes we ordered!”
“Coming, coming; Sharpness!” Was the reply, which by the way, came from the room behind the metal door. The door opened, leaving a cloud of colorful dust in the living room. A silhouette of another gnome appeared. As the dust cleared, they could see that she looked like no ordinary gnome. She wore an apron and there was a safety-goggle hanging around her neck. “Ah, welcome! I was waiting for you. Your cakes are kept inside. Follow me!” With that, she disappeared into the room. Pigtails, Ponytails, Mother Sharpness, and Grandma Alexandra followed. The room was filled with ovens all looking the same. Some were filled with pies, while some were empty. Standing next to them was a woman who looked just as old as Mother Sharpness, who had a safety-goggle hanging around her neck and an apron tied to her waist. She was grinning and was holding a parcel in her hands.
“Here you go! Your pancake is ready. I see that you have brought a human with you too!” She said.
“Tom, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine, Freda. She is a very good cook and she runs-” Mother Sharpness was suddenly interrupted by Tom.
“- a pancake shop- right?” Tom guessed.
“You had ordered a pancake, remember? You said you were inviting someone for tea.” Freda said.
“Oh, yes, yes; we had come to take the cake- I mean pancake……” Mother Sharpness replied.
Freda handed the parcel to Mother Sharpness, they all said bye to Freda and left the house. Pigtail’s house soon came into sight. Mother Sharpness unlocked the door, and they all went inside. Mother Sharpness and Grandma Alexandra headed straight into the kitchen. Looking at Tom’s puzzled face, Ponytails replied, “Didn’t you hear Freda? We are having guests for tea. They are busy making snacks and drinks for Mr. and Ms. Brown, who we invited for tea today evening.” Tom looked at the clock. The time was half past five.
“What time are they coming?” Tom asked.
“At 6:30. They are very punctual, so there is no doubt they will arrive at 6:30 sharp.” Ponytails replied.
“There is still an hour left for them to arrive; why don’t we do something till then?” Pigtails said.
GRUNT. A loud grunting noise came from behind them. They turned around in surprise, only to find a pig which was loose and grunting hungrily. Pigtails and Ponytails went in the kitchen and got out some vegetables and tossed it beside the pig. “There you go!” Pigtails shouted, grinning as she saw the pig hungrily devouring the vegetables. Pigtails and Ponytails went back to the dining table, where Tom was sitting. Soon, a whole barrage of grunting noises came from beside them. Annoyed, Tom looked behind to see what was making the noise. Turns out, a whole army of pigs was behind them grunting with hunger. Annoyed, Pigtails, Ponytails and Tom went into the kitchen, where Granma Alexandra and Mother Sharpness were cooking delicious snacks for their guests, Mr. and Ms. Brown. They took a handful of vegetables each, and went back in the living room. The pigs gave them a very hearty welcome and completely surrounded them, jumping and trying to eat the vegetables. Pigtails, Ponytails and Tom began tossing vegetables to every pig, and soon every pig’s stomach was filled. They shooed them out of the living room, and locked them in the pigsty. By that time, it was 6:00; so, Pigtails and Ponytails went to change their clothes and to wash themselves. Tom too went in the bathroom and washed his hands and face. Tom, Ponytails and Pigtails went down to the living room just as the clock struck 6:30. Suddenly, the door opened and an elderly couple, about the age of Mother Sharpness came in. They were accompanied by a girl-gnome, who seemed full of energy. “Hello!” The girl said. “Ah, I see the human is also here! We all can play some game while Mom and Dad have tea with Aunt Sharpness and Grandma Alexandra! Right, Pigtails?”
“Yes! Of course!” Pigtails replied, grinning.
“Hello! Are you Mr. and Ms. Brown?” Tom asked?
“Oh, yes! And this is our daughter, Amelia. She is friends with Pigtails and Ponytails, by the way. We run the local library, and Pigtails and Ponytails are our daily visitors!” Mr. Brown replied, grinning at Ponytails and Pigtails. Pigtails and Ponytails grinned back. “Oh, hello!” Mother Sharpness said coming out of the kitchen, carrying a tray of gnome snacks and delicacies, and 4 cups of tea. “Grandma Alexandra will be here shortly, carrying some more snacks, by that time, why don’t we start our tea? Children, you can play in the garden for some time.”
Oh, yes, sure! Come on, Pigtails and Mr. Human!” Amelia said, holding Pigtails and Tom’s hand. Tom giggled at being called ‘Mr. Human’. “You can call me Tom.” He said, grinning at Amelia. They all marched into the backyard. “Okay, now what should we play?” Tom asked.
“I don’t know; how about hide & seek?” Ponytails suggested.
“I’m okay with it.” Tom said.
“I can play that.” Pigtails said.
“I’m also okay with it. Alright then! We will play hide & seek, and that’s that. I’ll be the catcher and you all will hide, okay? I’m counting till 20 over here.” Amelia said. She covered her eyes with her hands and began counting. “1….” She counted. “2…...”
While Amelia was counting, Ponytails, Pigtails and Tom began hiding. Pigtails hid behind a tree. Ponytails climbed on top of a tree and sat there. Tom went into the pigsty and hid there in a corner. “…...20!” Amelia shouted. She removed her hands from her eyes and began to look around. “Here I come!” she shouted. She began searching all trees first. While she was looking around the trees, she found Pigtails crouching behind a tree. “I found you Pigtails!!!” Amelia shouted. After she looked behind every other tree in the backyard, she looked in the Pigsty and found Tom crouching in one corner. “I found you, Tom!” Tom got up and dusted himself and went out of the pigsty. In one corner of the backyard Pigtails was sitting and looking at the sky. Tom went and sat beside her. Pigtails groaned and said “What happened now, Pig?! I can’t keep feeding you, you know.” She turned and looked at Tom. Tom stared at Pigtails blankly. When Pigtails saw it was Tom, she went as red as tomato and quickly said, “Tom, have you been hiding in the pigsty? You smell like a pig! There is a wash basin over there. Go wash yourself!” Tom got up, dusted himself and washed himself by the wash basin. By that time, Amelia had found Ponytails high up on a tree, and made her come down. Soon, Mother Sharpness called them. “Come on, kids! Don’t you want to eat?” She asked.
“Coming, Mother Sharpness!” They replied together, running into the living room. There were bowls of Boryweed Soup kept on the table, some sandwiches and the pancake made by Freda. Tom, Amelia, Pigtails and Ponytails attacked the food. In 15 minutes, nothing was left on the table except the plates, bowls and spoons. “Okay! It is time for us to go. Come on, Amelia!” Mr. Brown said. Amelia said goodbye to Pigtails, Ponytails and Tom, and went with her parents. “Maybe it’s time for me to go too.” Tom said, hesitating a little.
“What?!” Pigtails said, clearly dumbfounded. “I thought you were staying till tomorrow!”
“If Tom wants to return to his world, he can.” Mother Sharpness said, solemnly. “We can’t let him stay here forever, and you know that, Pigtails.”
“Ok. Maybe Tom will have to go.” Pigtails said. “But promise me you’ll come to visit sometime.”
“I will.” Tom promised.
“Come on, Tom. We will leave you till the jungle.” Mother Sharpness said.
They left the house and started walking towards the path that Tom had come from. By that time, it was already dark outside. Soon, there were no houses on the sides of the road. Instead, the odd shaped trees stood there in their place. After some time, they reached the jungle. Ahead of them, in the jungle, it was still noon. Only behind them, on the road, it was night. “Bye Tom.” Ponytails said. “Hope you come back here soon”
“Bye!” Tom said as he went into the jungle, waving at them. Grandma Alexandra, Mother Sharpness, Pigtails and Ponytails waved back. Soon, they were nothing but dots in the distance. Tom looked around him. It was noon and there were no odd-shaped plants around him anymore. He set out towards his house. After 15 minutes he was out of the jungle and standing in front of his house. He rang the bell. DING-DONG!!!! He did the same ten times. DING-DONG- DING-DONG- DING-DONG- DING-DONG- DING-DONG- DING-DONG- DING-DONG- DING-DONG- DING-DONG- DING-DONG-!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Coming, coming!!!” Tom’s mother shouted angrily.
She opened the door. Tom stood in front of her, grinning. Tom’s mother smiled. “Hello! So, you’re back. Come in, sweetheart.” Tom walked in the house. “So, do you want another plate of pasta?”
“YES!!!!” Tom screamed, dashing into the kitchen.