‘What the .. !’ A blur of movement, where no movement could be. Impossible.
I’m focused on my computer screen, writing the last few chapters to my novel. I have a deadline, with an unforgiving editor: I don’t need distractions!
Hubby is off, and he’s taken the kids, just to help me out. All should be quiet, peaceful, here in our home.
My stomach’s starting to roil. There it goes again!
No! Can’t be. I shake my head; I’m just imagining movement.
I look again, to make sure, but can’t see anything out of place. Am I going nuts? Hey, I’m a writer; I’m supposed to have an active imagination!
I get back to typing and …
I spin around, my arm zaps out and catches the snow dome as it races towards my desk.
But how? I pick it up, turn it around and around in my hands. No mechanism exists to make it move, yet it did. Many times.
‘Tell me how you did it!’ I demand. And feel foolish, seeing as how I was expecting to get an answer from a snow dome.
All is quiet. Too quiet. My nerves prick.
I carefully place the snow dome down where I can watch it out of the corner of my eye, and reach towards the keyboard.
An elf appears; he nudges the snow dome forwards.
Elves are much bigger that this creature. Don’t ask me how I know; I’m not on any elfish calling card list.
I spin around, grab the creature before he can move.
‘Who are you?’ I demand.
His arms, his legs flail from between my fingers. I hold firmly onto his green body. The whole substance of him seems to be green. He struggles for a moment, and then he goes still. His black eyes glare up at me.
‘Snow dome fairy?’ he suggests. The words sound in my head, bypassing my ears.
He continues to glare at me. We wait each other out.
‘I’m a gremlin, Georg Grembl, thank you very much. Now let go of me!’
We stare at each other. My deadline keeps niggling at me.
‘I don’t care who you are, or what you’re here for, but I’m busy, I’ve got my story to write. So go on, disappear, vamoose, get it?’
He doesn’t answer. I ignore him and struggle to get my heroine’s predicament back into focus. Let’s see, she – the Princess – is trapped in a bamboo cage in the evil Sorcerer’s cave high in the Himalayas. Ahmed the hero has got himself up into the Abbey’s secret conclave which is even higher in those same mountains. By dint of hiding where he can overhear, he now knows the Abbot is clearly insane, and the monks follow suit. They’re going to fire this huge rocket off to summon the gods to break through into the Earth dimension.
Ahmed’s also found out where the Princess is trapped.
But how is he to get over to her? The snow outside is more than knee deep in places, no way he can climb down this mountain and across to the evil Sorcerer’s cave in time to rescue his love.
‘Bloody hell!’ I can’t see the keyboard clearly enough. Fine time now to wish I could touch type, because this idiot’s playing leapfrog over my fingers. ‘Georg Grembl. Stop that this minute!’
He leaps onto my left thumb, and balances there, his fists on his hips, mocking me!
‘I’ll get you,’ I say, as I reach for him. Georg leaps onto my right hand, then onto my blouse, then across to the snow dome and starts whizzing it along the desk top.
‘Right, you’ve had it.’
I spring out of my chair and scurry into the kitchen, to return brandishing the fly swat. ‘Where are you, you little green demon?’ A few swats here and there, and of course Georg is nowhere to be seen.
Maybe he’s gone.
One can live in hope. I return to my typing.
Georg flies the fly swat across the desk, a hand’s width from my nose.
‘Got cha!’ I grab the fly swat.
Georg hands on top of my head. He grabs handfuls of my hair and tugs this way and that.
Hah! Of course I’m not going to use the fly swat to hit him while he’s on top of my head. No way; he’s got me there.
I toss the fly swat behind me, and sit still until he appears in front of me, sitting on my keyboard.
‘Why are you here’
Georg hops from letter to letter on my keyboard.
I A M Y O UR I N SP IR ATION.
‘Well, must admit,’ I say, as both his balance and aim improves, ‘you’re a quick learner.’
Georg crouches and trembles.
‘You expect me to hit you? Are you here for punishment?’ I ask.
Georg nods. He types: SENTENCED TO COMMUNITY SERVICE.
Duh. ‘You’re supposed to help me?’ I regard this diminutive creature. Idiot, moron, I castigate myself for even considering the possibility; in what way could this wisp of green energy actually help me?
He nods again. Is he reading my mind? Georg waits me out.
‘Maybe I could use some help.’ I stop and consider. ‘Okay, here’s where I’m up to. My hero’s stuck up in a cave high in the mountains. Deep snow everywhere. Ahmed’s just found out that he’s miscalculated, and the Princess is in another cave across the valley. Only it’s the evil sorcerer’s cave, and the kindest thing the sorcerer ever did was once, when he accidentally killed someone quickly.
‘My hero’s got only minutes to get across to rescue the princess before all hell breaks loose. How’s he going to do it?’
Georg grabs two pencils, and skis himself across the desk.
‘Good idea, but it won’t work,’ I tell him, ‘the mountain’s too steep.’
Georg grabs hold of a pencil, climbs onto it as though he were straddling a broomstick, and flies it over my head.
‘Flying pencil? That’s not much use to my hero.’
Georg stamps his foot, then bounces on his feet while throwing his arms up in the air. Then he straddles the pencil again, holds it pointing upwards on a slant, and seems to be trying to kick-start his mount.
Light bulb moment.
‘You mean the rocket! For Ahmed to fly on the rocket! Good one.’
I’m dimly aware of Georg doing a triumphant dance as my fingers fly over the keys. Ahmed has hovered, waiting for the Abbot and his monks to proceed with their ritual. The robed men chant their way around the cave. They proceed towards the shrine at the back, their robes swaying along with their hypnotic chant.
Ahmed realises that he is being caught up in the hypnosis, and shakes his head to free himself. He darts forwards to the fire pit, snatches up a blazing stick, and sets the rocket’s wick alight. A glance back reveals that the procession is returning to the cave mouth. One of the junior monks is less bespelled than his fellows. The sound of the fizzing wick snaps his attention into the here and now. The monk’s yell calls forth the rest of his fellows and they dash forwards.
‘Here goes nothing,’ says Ahmed. He swings his leg over the rocket, leans forwards and winds his fingers through the elaborate strapping. ‘Now to the cave where the princess is trapped!’
Which is when Georg slams into my nose.
‘Ouch! What did you go and do that for!’ I demand. I’m busy rubbing my nose, when he rams into my hand. ‘Okay, okay then. What are you on about? It had better be something good!’
Georg climbs onto the pencil again, takes off and rams his mount into my Collins Dictionary. The pencil falls, and Georg hovers in from of my face, with his head shaking sideways. Then he picks up the pencil and mounts again, flies towards the books then veers off sideways.
‘Of course. That will ramp up the excitement. Thanks.’
Ahmed looks behind him, I type, and laughs at the monks frantic movements. ‘You look like a disturbed wasps nest,’ he yells back at them. He had twisted his body to look back at the monks. Which unbalanced his mount. ‘Allah,’ he cries, ‘help me!’ His twisting movement meant that he was now veering towards the nearest rock face. Ahmed swings his body weight to his right. Which is when he notices the degree to which his body weight – clinging so far forwards on the rocket as he was – has forced the nose of the rocket into a dive.
‘Now what? Can’t have him squashed against the rock below the Sorcerer’s cave. Ahmed won’t be any use to the Princess then.’
Georg – again on the pencil – throws his body backwards.
‘Yes, that should do it. Let’s see.’
Ahmed leans backwards – but not too far, least the velocity breaks his grip on the gilded strapping and turfs him free of the rocket. Gradually, it’s nose rises, though not much. ‘Hang on there, Princess,’ he calls. ‘Ahmed is coming. I will rescue you!’
‘Big deal, man to the rescue while the helpless Princess twists her hands, I don’t think. No, Georg,’ I say to the stubborn gremlin, who stands on my space bar with his hands fisted on his hips, or what I take to be his hips. ‘She’s not a helpless wimp. Just you watch.’
Meanwhile, in the sorcerer’s cave, Princess Jasmine also stands with her hands fisted on her curvy hips, glaring at her jailer. ‘You really don’t think you are going to overwhelm my father’s army, do you? A pitifully weak magic tumbler like you?’
The sorcerer roars with laughter. ‘Pitifully weak, am I? The greatest sorcerer who ever lived? When I have those fools up in yonder cave performing the most powerful ritual even now as we speak? They think they are calling in the Almighty blessings on themselves, when in fact they are bringing in the might of inter-dimensional magics to do my biding. Your father’s miserable soldiers will run like frightened rabbits from my hunting dogs!’
‘You think so? I suppose that firecracker the Abbot set off is a part of your paltry magic?’
‘Certainly. I will become the greatest of the greatest.’
‘My father the Emir has many magicians in his army.’
‘Hmmph, those idiots, too weak to know how little they know.’
‘But so many of them,’ Yasmine adds.
‘May be, but still not a match for the strength I will have,’ gloats the sorcerer, as he turns to watch the glory of his unfolding plan. ‘But. There’s something wrong,’ he says, and leans forwards from the cave mouth to see better. ‘The rocket should not have been fired, I haven’t sent them my signal,’ he cries, as he leans further out of the cave mouth.
Jasmine, meanwhile, slips the fruit knife out of her waist band and reapplies herself to sawing at the bindings on her bamboo cage. She looks up in time to see the rocket approaching. And sees that Ahmed, her one time playmate, is riding that rocket. His face seems so white, yet he has a grin stretching from ear to ear. ‘Tomfool idiot, he’ll hurt himself,’ she mutters, and saws more quickly on the bindings.
The bindings give way. The uprights of her cage collapse around Yasmine as Ahmed rides his mount into the sorcerer’s cave. He lands just shy of the fire pit. The sorcerer raises his arms to cast magic at Ahmed. Yasmine grabs a stool, and swings it at the sorcerer’s head. The sorcerer crumples at her feet as Ahmed rolls off the rocket.
‘Aren’t they supposed to explode?’ Yasmin asks Ahmed.
‘Yes, any minute now I reckon,’ Ahmed replies. ‘We’ve got to get out of here, and quick. Down the stairs.’
‘Can’t, Yasmin tells him. ‘The sorcerer bespelled the door sealed.’
I turn to Georg. ‘Okay, what are they going to do now?’
Georg springs up to my Tiffany table lamp, and swings on the fringe.
Fringe. Table lamp. ‘Oh, I get it. Thanks.’
‘Where is this bespelled door?’ Ahmed asks.
‘Behind the Sorcerer’s Peacock chair,’ Yasmine yells at him.
‘That Peacock chair, with the satin canopy?’ Ahmed laughs, and appreciatively eyes the runners connecting the chair legs. He quickly drags the chair forwards to the lip of the cave mouth. ‘Hurry, climb onto the chair seat.’
‘What about you?’
‘I’m coming,’ Ahmed reassures Yasmine. He kicks the rocket onto the fire pit, pushes the chair forwards and swings his legs up onto the nearest runner. Yasmine shrieks as the chair wobbles. She grabs hold of the chair back. Ahmed swings himself up over the arm then plops onto the seat as the chair tips over the lip of the cave. They plunge downwards into the valley.
‘Hold on,’ he cries, quite unnecessarily, and reaches out to Yasmine. The canopy billows with the updraught, steadies, and gently sways as it sails out above the valley.
I turn to Georg. ‘Okay so far?’ I ask. He nods enthusiastically.
‘Come on; lean towards me,’ Ahmed instructs Yasmine.’
‘You’ve got a nerve,’ Yasmine says, and leans in the opposite direction.
‘No, this way, we need to use our weight to steer the chair towards your father’s army.’
She looks at the cheeky glint in his eyes, then looks down into the valley before deciding to lean towards Ahmed as instructed. The chair slowly sways around to the right and softly settles on the snow covered valley floor.
Soldiers run forwards. Several cheer. Their Sergeant orders Ahmed out of the chair, while others are delegated to bear the princess in the chair back to the commander’s camp.
Meanwhile. the rocket explodes, and flares brilliantly, lighting up the cliff face. Some of the watchers ooh and ahh. The sorcerer’s head tumbles out of the sky, and lands in amongst the enraptured soldiery.
Then a mighty boom sounds as the air above the valley appears to split.
‘The sorcerer’s demon,’ cries Yasmine, ‘it’s here!’
The Emir’s magicians send concerted blasts at the forming demon, determined to destroy it before the demon can complete its transition. Its essence expands and shatters, as brilliant as the flares from the rocket.
Yasmine and Ahmed are escorted into the Emir’s pavilion. Yasmine starts to tell her father of the sorcerer’s intentions, but he cuts her short, and has his aide-de-camp usher her into the women’s tent. She fumes as she listens – her ear to the tent walls – as Ahmed relates the activities of both the sorcerer and the Abbot.
‘Time will come, father dear, when women will be heard!’ Yasmine vows.
There. What do you think of that?’ I ask Georg.
WAS IT FAIR TO YASMINE FOR HER TO BE PUSHED AWAY?
‘No, not at all. And today, she would be heard. Far more than back then, at least,’ I respond. ‘I’ve made my deadline. Thank you for all your help.’
I CAN GO NOW?
‘First, can you tell me what you did? Why you needed to be punished?’
ONE OF YOUR SHORT PEOPLE WAS RIDING HIS TWO WHEELS. HIS FIRST TIME EVER. HE LOOKED LIKE ONE OF THOSE BIG PEOPLE FALLING OUT OF THE SMELLY DRINKING PLACES DURING THE BLACK HOURS. I TOLD HIM SO.
‘You told the child he looked like a drunk?’
I DANCED IN FRONT OF HIS NOSE AS I TOLD HIM. HE FELL. HE CRIED. BIG BABY.
‘No doubt he did.’ I sit there, looking at Georg. ‘Will you do something like that again?’
I WILL SIT ON A TREE BRANCH AND LAUGH. INSTEAD.
‘An improvement,’ I tell him, and watch as this belligerent, yet ultimately helpful gremlin fades from my sight. And, as I go through the manuscript for one last spell-check inspection, I keep checking out of the corner of my eye in case he decides to return!