Five Weired Halibuts
I'm not the kind of person who likes to play tag. Tag holds horrifying memories for me. Tag is a game designed purely to provide a seemingly innocent context for rampant, deliberate, and crazed violence. Want to get even with the kid who tattled on you in math class for passing notes? Tag! Need to rip the heart out of the boy who stole your lunch money? Tag! Still pissed off that Bobby Milner never gave you a valentine even though he gave all the other girls one? Tag!
come hither - back off
Oh sure, in theory Tag involves simply touching a person and making them "It". Touching them. Just a tap. A flick. A wee tickle. Right. A wee tickle from a mutant gorilla perhaps. I lost my front teeth to a game of Tag when Randy Boiseneau grabbed my arm as I ran past him, swung me around using centrifugal force as his ally while maniacally screaming, "TAG YOU'RE IT!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!", and let go only when my face bashed into the school wall.
Obviously some people still have unresolved issues around the game of Tag, because it has spread like foot fungus into the world of blogs.
Imagine my dismay to discover I've been dragged once again into Satan's Game. I have been tagged, not once, but twice. I've been cross-tagged. Synchronized tagging. Shot down and tagged like the animal I am. First, Heather "Hothead" O'Neill tagged me to reveal five weird habits of mine. I'm supposed to clearly indicate to all readers that I am about to reveal 5 weird habits of mine below, and then pass on the same challenge to five others. Then, Rik "The Ratface" Roots, being an ornery sort, brutally morphed the Tag challenge into a flash fiction piece entitled Five Weird Hobbits. Sadist.
Me being the lazy sort that I am, I have combined the two Tags into one giant Meta Tag, a monster I shall call The Fellowship of the Wingnuts.
Grubby Sammich glanced once again at the note crumpled in his hand. He had found it stuffed under his door last night, and couldn't believe its contents even now, a day later and standing at another door, that of Candy Bracegirdle. She had invited him. Him. He had no idea what he had actually been invited to - Candy wasn't known for her stellar conversational skills, and her written vocabulary was much, much worse - but it didn't matter. It was an invitation. Nobody invited Grubby anywhere, not since the incident with the bowl of custard at Bram Hornywoad's birthday party and his irresistible desire to swim in it.
Yet here he was, at Candy's door: invited.
His stunned exhilaration was short-lived, however, when who would tumble around the bend with his own crumpled invite in hand but Slippy Punter. Ever since Slippy had managed to burn down the entire village of Hummybunzel with only a pipe and incredibly poor timing asking Gertie Waddlebottom to the county fair, no one even nodded in his direction for fear of accidental death by pratfall. Even brimming with jealous curiosity at the exact nature of Slippy's own note, Grub didn't dare look at Slip, let alone talk to him. Only the incredibly stupid or suicidal would risk so much. Slippy, too, didn't dare talk to Grubby. The stumble-puss kept the opening of his mouth down to a bare minimum after the incident where, during an animated discussion regarding the merits of insurance policies, he had inadvertently choked Halliburn Dorchie to death with a coughed-up chaw of tabacky. Subsequently, both just stood there silently scuffing their feet in the dirt a careful distance apart, staring at the closed door of Candy Bracegirdle.
Grubby's face and heart sank even further when both Randypants Delving and Rusty Pinto arrived at Candy's door soon after with their own invitations stuck in their pockets. Nobody shook Randy's hand - you just never knew where it had been - and as for Rusty, it's difficult to hold a conversation with a chap who insists on wearing a potato sack over his head at all times like some kind of low-rent executioner. Besides, they had all heard about the type of person Candy was - or, more specifically, the type of person Candy was when inviting four hobbits to her hole simultaneously. As such, they were each deeply engrossed in their own extremely titillated yet occasionally terrified fantasies regarding their immediate futures if ever Candy were to finally open her door. This awkward silence suited the author's purposes perfectly, as she really didn't feel like writing any dialogue at the moment.
Grubby grew more and more anxious in the crowd of hobbit testosterone, wondering desperately why Candy would invite 4 of the biggest hobbit outcasts in town to her home and then make them stand outside her door without letting them in. Was it a prank? A joke? Was the rest of the village hidden in the bushes or peeking through their windows waiting for the punchline? Why wouldn't she answer?
Then he realized no one had actually knocked yet.
So he did.
And she answered.
"Grubs! You're here! Oh, and lookie loo - you brought the others as well. Hey there, fellas. Want to come in for some fun?" Candy asked reluctantly, but only because the author finally had to accept that dialogue was unavoidable.
When Candy asks if someone wants to come in for some fun, especially when she's standing at her door wearing nothing but latex and a whip, it isn't all that surprising that a hobbit, even a hobbit who's been standing outside her door for 10 minutes shuffling around like he needs to go pee, would take pause, if only for a moment. After that moment, of course, all four boyos rushed the door as if their lives depended on it. Thankfully Slippy was on the slow side and didn't touch any of the other three wrestling their way through the entrance, otherwise at least one of them would never have made it to her foyer.
If dungeons can actually have foyers, that is. All four hobbits' jaws dropped. The curved walls of the hobbit hole were painted crimson red with black accents, and there was velvet everywhere. It looked as if the room had been stabbed, which was quite possible considering the implements hanging decoratively all along the front hall.
"Hurry, boys, come on, come to the dining room. I've been baking all day. You'll love it! And once we've eaten, we can have a little talk."
They followed her voice through what looked like a giant artery, Randypants already giggling and fiddling his fingers at the idea of Candy cooking in latex. She hadn't lied: laid out before them was a lovely tea, with mugs of ale, steaming buttery scones, itsy bitsy sandwiches, roast chicken, sliced ham, and a plate of sugar cookies all carved up into shapes of weapons. Nibbling on an axe, Candy beckoned them to sit down. Randy wistfully took his hands out of his trousers to properly dig in. Grub's right eyelid started to twitch when he caught sight of a pot of clotted cream. Rusty had to ask Candy for some scissors so he could widen his mouth-hole to bite into one of her monster scones. Slip fell into the fireplace, but was quickly rescued by Candy's singing whip wrapping around his foot and dragging him back. Soon all that could be heard at the table were the sounds of avid mastication and a bubbling pot of tea for later.
Candy silently watched the boys enjoy for as long as she could, but finally burst.
"OK, all right, I'll tell you!" (They hadn't asked anything. After all, these were very good scones.) "I have something exciting to share. Truly exciting. Spectacular, really. Our lives are all going to change dramatically in a short while. We will be town heroes!"
Rusty looked at Candy dubiously through a skewed eyehole while stuffing another baby sandwich into his mouth. Randypants giggled some more.
"No, no - really! Even you, Grubs- Grubs, do you think you could try to keep from dropping cream down your shirt? The others may want some."
The rest of the group shook their heads vehemently. The sight of Grubs moaning and rubbing his tunic across his chest rendered the cream inedible in their minds. Candy shrugged and continued.
"Well, anyway, last night the wizard Goonduff came to visit - you all know Goonduff, don't you? Fine man. Fine, fine man. He has a lovely big staff, he does. Mmmm..." Candy drifted off into reverie, stroking her rubber bodice. It wasn't until Slippy knocked the jam pot to the floor explosively that Candy snapped back to reality. "Yes, well, Goonduff had found a scroll hidden in the evil Caves of Slinder while fending off a basilisk - you know, regular day's work and all. He needs our help. You see, the scroll is a way to find the magical Ring of Smoog, the one that went missing after the great battle between King Whatsit and the Evil Bushman. It's the only way to defeat the Mighty Bush" - Randy's giggles grew louder - "and we have to do it!"
"We?" Slippy whuffled through biscuit crumbs. "Why 'we'? Nobody wants us - nobody wants me - touching the magical Ring of Smoog."
"Well, yes, that's true, Slip. I'd ask that you take the rear." More giggles from Randypants. "But think of the glory! The accolades! The acceptance!"
Grubs stopped his cream-dreaming for a moment. "What would we have to do? We're not trained for this sort of thing, you know."
"We don't have to be. That's the marvel of it. Everything we need to do is spelled out for us in the scroll."
Rusty piped up. "So why does Goonduff need us? Why doesn't he do it himself?"
"It does seem a bit odd. Goonduff never asks us to do anything," grumbled Grubs.
"Because we're small!" Candy proclaimed triumphantly. "The scroll specifically says we have to take action in the Brambles of Bittenass, and the only people tiny enough to survive a foray through Bittenass are hobbits."
All mastication ceased.
"Just a sec - Goonduff gave me the scroll so I could share it with you." Candy began rifling through a chest of drawers in the hallway. Finally she pulled out a pair of handcuffs wrapped around a stained roll of parchment. "Aha! Isn't it wondrous? Here, let me read it." She threw the cuffs to the floor, unrolled the springy scroll, cleared her throat, and began to read. That in itself was wondrous to the rest of them, and the possibility of magic involvement no longer seemed so outrageous
If you are reading these words, you have managed to defeat the basilisk I left to guard this. I have found the Ring of Smoog, but have been chased by the hordes of Bush and will soon be captured. Therefore, I have wrapped the Ring of Smoog in spells and must entrust to whomsoever finds this the only way to break through these magicks to reach the Ring and free our land.
Smoog was a mighty enchantress, we all know. What many do not know is that Smoog was also a little, er, off in the head. Every day of Smoog's life, she performed 5 sacred Weirdness Rituals that she insisted cleansed the spirit and kept her powers strong. You must go to the heart of the Brambles of Bittenass and, in the spirit of Smoog, have 5 hobbits execute the 5 Weirdness Rituals. Only then will the spell be broken and the Ring of Smoog be yours.
Guard this scroll well; what follows is knowledge that, in the wrong hands, could take our land down into the horrors of a life of endless Bush. [giggle]
The ritual begins, not in the heart of Bittenass, but on the journey towards it. The 5 hobbits must undertake each of these 5 Weirdness Rituals at specific points on the Path of Smoog to Bittenass:
The first Weirdness Ritual must occur in Hobbitown. Each hobbit must make believe a story, any story, usually in which they are far more suave, handsome, and sophisticated than they really are. Now they must murmur aloud to themselves and play this story out as if all the characters of the story were there in front of them. This must be done in full view and hearing of the other hobbits, in public, with no shame of being overheard or considered a mental patient. This is the First Way of Smoog.
The second Weirdness Ritual must always immediately follow the first, as the first Weirdness Ritual will cause many hobbits to knock on the Ritual hobbits' doors to find out what the heck they've been smoking. The Ritual hobbits must never answer the door, no matter who is on the other side. They must remain quiet as mice and pretend no one is home, even if it is their mother coming to drop off tasty cookies and warm socks. No one must enter their home, no one must be invited in, and any meeting between the Ritual hobbits and others must be arranged elsewhere. This is the Second Way of Smoog.
If all 5 Ritual hobbits succeed, they must now begin to walk the Path of Smoog to Bittenass. The journey is long, and very, very boring. Through their journey, when bored, each of the 5 Ritual hobbits must obsessively pull hairs out of their eyebrows and chins. This must continue until no hair remains on the chin and no loose hair can be blown from the eyebrow. This is the Third Way of Smoog
At the border of Bittenass, the fourth Weirdness Ritual must occur. There will be found the Fuzzy-Assed Cat of Bittenass. The 5 Ritual hobbits must camp with the Cat on the edge of Bittenass for one night. The Cat will visit each of them. They must lie on their sides and coax the cat up to sit on top of them, the ass of Fuzzy pointing towards the Ritual hobbits' heads, and hope the Cat will knead their own ass for a span of no less than 10 minutes. The 5 ritual hobbits must like the kneading, no matter how sharp the Cat's claws, and keep the Cat on their ass for however long the Cat is willing to stay there. This is the Fourth Way of Smoog.
Finally, the hobbits must enter the heart of Bittenass. When there, they must lay out a sumptuous meal consisting of many creams, jellies, lumpy bits, and rare meats. Only when every hobbit has begun to feast must the Fifth Way of Smoog begin. Each hobbit must talk about the most disgusting medical issues they can imagine while dining, in vivid and excruciating detail, and never lose their appetite or cease eating upon hearing this vile information issue forth from the mouths of their fellow Ritual hobbits. In fact, they must revel in it and be merry, for this is the Fifth Way of Smoog.
Then, and only then, will the Ring of Smoog be seen in the heart of Bittenass, and shall become the greatest weapon in our fight against the hordes of Bushmen.
Candy stopped reading. There was stunned quiet, and not only because Candy actually read that much text in one go. All that could be heard was the panicked breathing of hobbits, who now realized that the great Smoog was a sick son-of-a-bitch. Could they do it? Could they prevail? Could they take the Ring of Smoog into the hands of good and become heroes?
Then Slippy knocked over Candy's cooking oil into the fireplace, causing a massive explosion that killed them all instantly.
Thus the Fellowship was broken.
A little on the long side for flash fiction, perhaps, but too short to be a short story, so it'll have to do. After all, I did have to throw in my five weird habits. Therefore, I'm allowed to ramble.
Now I'm supposedly required to tag five more people myself. Since one can only take so many hobbits, I'm going to stick with weird habits. With the most delicate of gestures and with great Tag reluctance, I now gently tap Blue Meany, Hiss, Weetabix, Halo, and Trance. May you revel in your weirdnesses. Amen.
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