Jacob and the Ganglion Gnome
by Christopher Chater
His footed pajamas made him slip on the polished hardwood floor as he ran toward the staircase. Whatever was locked in the walk-in closet of his bedroom, he knew he couldn’t kill it alone. He had to hurry and get help. It might escape. He grabbed the banister at the base of the stairs and whipped around the corner toward his parents’ room.
He saw his parents through the open door, his mother was polishing her nails and his was father watching TV, remote in hand, thumb ready to change the channel.
"Dad!" he said, nearly out of breath.
"What’s up?" his father asked, keeping his attention on the television.
He saw no point in scaring his mother. "Dad, can I talk to you for a second, alone?"
"Sure," his father said.
Jacob and his father entered the den. Jacob sat on the couch, his leg bouncing nervously. He blurted out: "How do you kill a Ganglion Gnome?"
His father’s brow furrowed.
"It’s in my room," Jacob said. "I managed to lock it in my closet. It wasn’t easy. It’s got sharp fingernails!"
"It’s up there right now?" his father asked.
"Yes," Jacob said.
"Red or yellow eyes?" his father asked.
Jacob covered his face with his hands, rubbing his eyes in frustration, trying painfully to remember. "I didn’t see."
"Jacob, how many times have I told you? (He went on to say what he had said a million times; Jacob was even able to mouth along with the words.) Make a positive identification of the demonic inhabitant before attempting to vanquish."
"I’m sorry," Jacob said, head lowered.
"Let’s go take a look," his father said.
Jacob took a deep breath and followed his father, staying a few paces behind him.
"You see, the red eyed Gnomes are harmless. They teleport from dimension to dimension. They look like the Devil himself, but they only feed on negative thoughts. They’re only able to stay in the corporeal world as long as someone is thinking negatively." His father stopped, turned to Jacob and said, "You weren’t"
"No, Dad. I promise."
"What about the yellow-eyed ones?" Jacob asked.
"If it’s a yellow-eyed Ganglion Gnome, we’re in for a bit of a battle."
Jacob’s face went pale.
His father smiled and rested his hand reassuringly on Jacob’s shoulder. "Don’t worry. It’s nothing we can’t handle."
The word "we" played over and over in Jacob’s mind.
When they got to the closet, his father stuck his ear to the door. "I don’t hear anything."
"He’s in there," Jacob said.
His father opened the door. In the corner, under the hanging shirts and pants, next to a row of shoes, and nearly hidden behind a basketball, a pair of yellow glowing eyes seemed to float in the darkness. Quick forced breaths accompanied a horrible gurgling intake.
The Ganglion Gnome leaped out and grabbed his father’s leg. Mouth open, its teeth like dozens of daggers with two large swords for fangs, it was about to take a bite-sized chunk out of his thigh!
With one sweeping swat, his father sent the Ganglion Gnome flying across the room. Now, exposed to the light, an ugly creature no more than three feet tall lay on Jacob’s carpet. It had short fat fingers, dark brown and scaly, with long fingernails. The Fu Manchu beard on its chin was definitely in need of grooming, but not before the hair coming out of the nostrils of its hooked nose. It wore a purple frock and tan colored pants, tattered and sullied. No shoes, just long bare feet much too large for its dwarfed frame.
Jacob took a few steps away from the beast, trusting his father’s superior strength and skill. He made sure the door was open and quickly accessible. He shouldn’t have been afraid; his legendary father had single-handedly vanquished the Evil Lord of the Underworld using nothing more than a spool of string and the wooden frame of a kite. Such tales of his father’s heroism were abundant, too many to convey in the limits of this story.
"He’s a smelly one," his father said, pinching his nose.
The Ganglion Gnome let out a high pitched snarl.
"Son. You’re ready. I think it’s time you took care of this one," his father said.
"Me?" Jacob asked.
"You can do it."
Jacob slowly approached the demonic intruder. "What do I do?"
"Make sure it doesn’t get you with those nails," Jacob’s father instructed, laughing playfully.
As Jacob moved in, the creature backed up. Its teeth were showing, and its hands contorted into razor sharp claws.
"Get him in a headlock!" his father cried out.
Jacob jumped on top of it. As the beast squirmed, its flailing claws tore a hole in Jacob’s pajamas. They wrestled on the floor, feet sliding out from under them, turning in circles. They knocked over the ski poles leaning against the wall, thrashed against the computer desk, and kicked over the wire-meshed trashcan--weeks of crumpled homework were now strewn about. As instructed by his father, Jacob managed the headlock. The demonic creature let out a high-pitched hiss and kicked its feet to free itself from the hold. Jacob began punching the gnome’s disgusting face.
"Now what, Dad?!"
"Pull its head off!" his father exclaimed, knees bent, arms out in encouragement.
Jacob planted his feet and tightened his grasp around its slimy neck. He pulled as hard as he could. It let out one last gurgling snarl, then exploded into demonic dust.
"I got it!" Jacob said.
"Good job, son," he said, applauding. "Time for bed."
Jacob crawled onto his Star Wars themed sheets, pulling the matching covers over him. His father sat on the side of the bed.
"Tomorrow at school, you can tell all your friends you killed a Ganglion Gnome."
"They’ll never believe it."