How Two Hunters Were Discouraged By an Apparition

by Roderick T. Long

[written around 12, or 1976-ish, in Idaho Falls; painfully twee.]

The snow was gone. The first flowers had pushed their way up through the slowly-thawing ground. The birds had returned and already were singing merrily in the newly-budded trees. And Nimble Noggin the dwarf had left his underground home and was already sitting on the porch in front of the circular oaken door, puffing large white smoke rings with his long pipe as he let the first warm breezes ruffle through his beard. Spring had come to the forest.

Suddenly, Redtail the Fox came bursting out of the bush. “The Thundergods are here! They’ve killed Mother Partridge!” he cried frantically.

“You probably ate her yourself and want someone else to take the blame!” a raven remarked caustically from an elm.

“This is no time for joking!” exclaimed Nimble Noggin as he jumped to his feet. He knew that the Thundergods were not gods, but men, but that made them no less dangerous. The denizens of the forest called the men Thundergods because of the terrible noise their Firesticks made. The animals thought that the noise sounded like thunder, and they thought the bullet that sped from the barrel of the Firestick was lightning.

Nimble Noggin had tried to explain guns and gunpowder to the animals, but they had said “Oh, Noggin the Dwarf is talking gibberish again!” They also laughed at the snail-tracks and chicken-scratches Nimble wrote in his diary, for they had no idea what they were for. However, they did marvel at his oil lamps, wooden sleds, and pipe. But I’m getting off the subject.

“Where did you see the hunters – I mean Thundergods?” asked Nimble Noggin.

“Over by the clearing!” clearing the fox. “They killed Mother Partridge!”

“Yes, you mentioned that,” said Noggin. None of the forest animals were sad about Mother Partridge, for she lived in a different part of the forest and was rather crabby anyway. But if hunters would kill a partridge, they’d kill anyone else. But I’m off the subject again.

Nimble Noggin started off in the direction of the clearing. “You’re not going to tangle with the Thundergods, are you?” asked the amazed fox.

“I’ll be okay,” smiled Nimble Noggin.

O’Riley shouldered his rifle as Howard picked up the partridge they had killed. “That bird’s no good,” said O’Riley. “It’s too old and tough!”

“It’ll do,” said Howard as he put it in his sack.

“Killing poor helpless birds? For shame!” came a high, strange voice from behind the hunters. They wheeled.

There they saw a little man about three feet high, with a big, white, bushy beard and a long, thin pipe. At first, the hunters thought he was a midget – but there was something unearthly about him. His little green cap, riding suit and pointed ears, as well as the way his beard flickered as if it were alive terrified the hunters, and his impish smile was vaguely unsettling.

“The animals thought I’d have to hit you over your heads with my pipe to make you go away,” said the apparition, “but I think you’ll leave of your own free will, won’t you?”

“It’s a Gremlin!” said O’Riley. “Let’s get out of here!” cried Howard. And they both turned on their heels and ran like the Bogie-Man was after them. And Nimble Noggin and his friends lived in peace from that day on.

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