Part Five: Rosa Loses a Shoe


The couple scooted away from the approaching gnomes, a couple inches, until their backs were pressed up against the turned-over hutch. With a look and a nod, they shoved the cabinet backwards, shattering the hopes and dreams and bodies of nearly one hundred man-eating lawn decorations. Rosa and Calvin scuttled onto the hutch and stood up, leaning against one another.

“The kitchen counters!” Rosa shouted, pointing across the dining area. “These things are still really short!”

She and Calvin hurried to the kitchen as quickly as they could, the fifteen feet of floor between them and relative safety filled with gnarling gnomes grabbing and gnashing at their legs.

Pants were ripped in the process, shins were bruised. Rosa lost a shoe.

Eventually the couple made it to the kitchen, twisting and turning and kicking and stomping ceramic assailants with every step. Rosa threw open the dishwasher door as she stumbled backward and pulled herself onto the counter. The door fell like the statue of a deposed despot, slamming down on a dozen angry gnomes like a foot in a Monty Python sketch.

Twenty more cracked collectibles took their place. They swarmed over the top of the fallen door, grabbing dirty steak knives and crusty forks along the way.

“You said you did the dishes!” Calvin screamed. His calf was slashed with a paring knife and he screamed again. The man turned and swung a leg at the miniature marauder, sending it, and several more of the lawn gnomes, sailing. Several others, though, grabbed Calvin’s leg and yanked downward.

“Oh no.”

Calvin, hands clenched on the countertop, shook and shimmied, and then, with a terrific wiggle, pulled himself free of the terror tchotchkes and up onto the counter, his feet inches from the angry mob of garden gnomes grasping at his heels.

He and Rosa looked across the kitchen at one another, then flattened out and crawled across the vinyl countertops, convening on either side of the stove. They clasped hands and then leaned over the burners to speak to each another, the chirping din of the gnomes nearly impossible to hear over.

“So,” said Calvin, “this is bad.”

“It’s pretty bad,” said Rosa.

“I’m sorry I broke all those gnomes, babe.”

“I’m sorry you broke them all too.”

Suddenly there was a new kind of clattering down below. Calvin leaned his head over the edge of the stove to take a look.

The gnomes had begun climbing onto each other’s shoulders.

“Damn it!” he shouted. “They’ve figured out how to use teamwork!”

Another new kind of clattering rose up across the house and Rosa turned toward the destroyed front door.

“There’s more of them coming!”

Hundreds of dreadful, distressed gnomes and dozens of slightly larger, even-more-dreadful-and-distressed gnomes were plodding across the foyer, tossing aside any and all sentient ornamentation that got in their way. The bigger of them were growling and frothing, a sickening kind of mold growing along the edges of their shattered cavities. Some of the more terrifying among them rode astride rotting plastic flamingos.

war, famine, pestilence, and peeing on themselves

Rosa and Calvin huddled together in the warmth of the digital clock blinking from the stove’s control panel.

“You’re smarter than me,” said Calvin, “what do we do?”

“I don’t know,” replied his wife. She thought for a moment. “Call the Todds.”

if they have AT&T they're doomed

Calvin reached into the pocket of his track pants and retrieved his cell phone. He held it between them atop the range.

“Do you have their number?” he asked.

“You don’t have it?” Rosa replied.

“Doesn’t look like it.”

“You just talked to them the other day.”

“They called ME.”

“Then it’s in your call log.”

“Well, yeah, but even if I find it how am I going to know I found it?”

Rosa shook her head, then reached into the waistband of her pajama pants and pulled out her phone. She scrolled through her contacts.

“Here. I have it.”

“OK, give me the number so I can add them into my cell.”

“Why don’t you just –”

“Wait, did I call them on Tuesday? Maybe I can –”


dun dun DUNNN