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Gnome's Game: Flash Fiction by cam
Hot Springs Switchback Road, Idaho
Jeremy relaxed in the natural hot spring at the top of the mountain. The drive up the switchback road had been the scariest drive of his life, but now, all his cares evaporated as the warmth of the pool sank in and relaxed his muscles and mind.
Through half closed eyes he scanned the natural bowl that was teaming with greenery. Here and there he could see blackened remains of trees, reminders of a wildfire in the garden’s recent history.
In his drowsy state, some of the burnt stumps took the forms of creatures such as an eagle, a wolf, even a very small man, possibly a troll or a gnome. Jeremy’s eyes fluttered and he fought to stay awake, but it was a battle he lost.
Hot Springs, Idaho
Some time later he woke up to the pungent smell of sulphur and climbed out of the water. He perused his surroundings again and wondered why, with all this beauty and the hot spring, no one else was here to enjoy it.
Jeremy’s browsing stopped when he saw that what had earlier been a charred tree stump, was now moving around. The small creature, a gnome, appeared to be wearing bib overalls and a green shirt, and It was waving at him. Jeremy retreated backward one step, but his foot found air rather than solid rock, and he fell back into the pool.
He came up sputtering and wiping water from his eyes as quickly as he could. The gnome was gone. He looked left and right, but the little man was nowhere to be seen.
“Looking for someone?” The voice had the quality of a rusty hinge and came from down at his feet. Jeremy stumbled backward, but not in time to avoid having a ball and chain clamped to his ankle.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Jeremy dropped to the ground. He clawed at the lock and jerked the chain.
“I believe you saw my friend, the wolf, earlier. I say my friend and not my pet, although I do feed him now and then when a stranger wanders into our home.”
“Feed him?” said Jeremy. “Are you saying he’s going to kill me and then eat me?”
“Heavens no,” said the gnome. “He’ll kill you as he eats you.
Jeremy backed to the end of the chain. His hands reached out to find the stone wall behind him.
Instead, his fingers grasped fur.