A Long Way from Gnome
Fry watched the last bomb explode and open a hole the size of a fist in the gnome’s blue body armor. The soldier fell, his body a smoking a ruin, but his sacrifice exposed the enemy flag. The thunderous concussion deafened Fry. He screamed and clapped his hands over his hears.
“Progress. The King will be pleased,” the General said. “You’re up, Fry. You need to get that flag.”
Fry sucked in a breath. He looked down at his diminutive body, less than two feet tall, with limp arms and shaky legs. Even Fry’s beard was weak, barely dusting his cheek. But the General’s body, a good foot taller than Fry’s, gross with muscle, and sick with confidence was a shining example of mutant genetics gone right. But he was afraid, too; why else send Fry?
“I’m scared,” Fry whispered.
“Don’t be. That flag is Camelot. Capture it and your place at the King’s round table is secured.”
“He says it already is.”
“The King is wrong,” the General said. “Until you get that flag, you’ll never really be at the round table. Oh, you’ll sit there, pretty as you please, but you’re nothing more than a house plant.”
Pretty and useless, Fry thought.
“Just watch out for their Marshal.”
“How will I know him?” Fry asked.
“Your nose. His breath is horrible,” the General said. “Distract him with a mint.”
“I don’t have any.”
“Then just run really fast,” the General advised.
The General booted Fry’s rear and sent him out into the war.
Fry used his enhanced vision to scout the terrain as he traveled north. He skirted the first lake until he ran into enemy troops. Their red armor pulsated in the dim light and their altered bodies towered over his. Fry backpedaled and swung east toward the other lake.
The smell hit him like a brick to the face. He rolled, avoiding the massive hammer of the red Marshal as it cratered the ground. So many times this large gnome, with his beard brushing the ground, red hat decorated with the ears of his foes, had smashed the way forward.
“You’re trapped, Fry,” the red Marshal said and the grass around them wilted.
“Not today,” Fry muttered and darted under the Marshal’s arm. But Fry’s stunted legs were too slow. The hammer landed on the back of his thighs and sent him face first into the dead foliage. The browned flowers smelled of rot and ruin. Fry’s stomach clenched as he crawled forward, one miserable inch at a time.
The hammer came down on his right hand, then his left, and Fry screamed, but he didn’t stop. His broken fingers moaned as his feet propelled him away from the red Marshal.
“C’mon, small fry,” the King said. “It’s time for dinner.”
Fry, the ten-year old boy looked up from the game board where the blue Spy and red Marshal fought. He spoke his first word: “Da?”
His father, the King, wept.