Hey look, flash fiction! I found this while cleaning up some files on my hard drive. This is something I wrote way back in 1999, when I was part of an amateur press association called Phoenix. It was made up of writers, artists and fans of comics, movies and other pop culture stuff. For a few years we had a Flash Fiction contest, and this was from the year I won the contest. You can tell it’s from 1999 because there’s a spam joke. Spam!
Little Gray Men
By JK Parkin
The old man running the yard sale glanced up from his newspaper and frowned as the lady approached. She was carrying something behind her back.
“Can I help you?” he asked, putting the paper down.
“Yes, you sure can,” she said. She showed him what was behind her back – a small gnomish creature, with a gray face and green clothing. He was holding firmly onto a black and red striped sock. “I assume this is one of yours?”
The guy shook his head and looked back at the paper. “I don’t wear red socks. And you’re trespassing.”
“Got sock, got sock!” the little creature said. “Master be happy, got sock!”
“That’s your master, right?” the lady asked the little guy.
“Master! Master! Get sock for master!”
“I’m sorry, I’ve never seen this whatever-it-is before …”
“Right,” the lady said, glancing around the yard. A few feet away was a table covered with socks, each priced at a nickel. “Shame on you and your little creatures. This goes against our agreement.”
“Our agreement says we won’t destroy each other. It says nothing about life’s little … irritations. As you well know, Miss Internet Email Queen. I’m still trying to get off the lists you signed me up for.”
“Well, I’ve lost a lot of socks lately,” she said, glancing at the tables in his yard. She grabbed a sock off of one of them and frowned. “This was my favorite pair!” She looked around the yard some more, and realized that many of the items were hers. “Dammit, I can’t believe you …”
“Um, if you don’t mind me asking,” the old guy said, “how did you catch him? These guys are supposed to be virtually invisible.”
“Virtually. His foot was stuck in the filter of my dryer,” she said. “He was more than willing to reveal himself so I could free him, but he wouldn’t let go of my sock.”
The guy smiled and shrugged his shoulders. The lady grabbed her socks and put it in her purse. “What is he, exactly?”
“I’m not sure. He and his friends are gnomes or elves or something like that. Little scavengers who like to steal things.”
“The stealing has got to stop. I’m going to come by here every day, and if I find anything of mine in your yard for sale, there’s going to be trouble.”
“And how’s that?” The old guy grinned, his teeth brown from coffee.
The lady snapped her fingers, and looked up. Suddenly the man was very aware of a shadow behind him. He glanced over his shoulder to see a ten-foot tall troll-like creature, hairy with tusks and a giant club, standing behind him.
“I’m not sure what my ‘little’ friend is, either,” she said. “But he’s more than willing to take care of you and your little friends in exchange for a plate of cookies. I trust that we won’t have to return tomorrow.” She leaned down closer and smiled. “He has friends at the IRS.”
She motioned at the troll, who followed her to her car. The old man smiled as he picked up his newspaper. “Heh, that Morgan,” he said. “Always has to have the last word.” He chuckled to himself and picked up his newspaper. “Wait until she finds the gremlins in her gas tank.”