Prompt Day # 85: Research animal behavior and apply your findings to a band of criminals or a pack of imaginary creatures.
Some of my favorite animal behaviors belong to the birds. I love their mating dances. I love that male birds put on a show just to attract a mate. Sometimes I wish human men would go to such lengths. Anyways, I can’t help but laugh at the displays and one I found while researching this story was the Andean Flamingos mating dance. They do it as a group and then eventually pair off into couples. As I read about and then watched the dance (you really must google them, they are so cute), I thought, wow, it would be so easy to smuggle something out in the center of the group. So, originally I thought of a group of bank robbers (although I did entertain the idea of using dung beetles as my animal and the bank robbers rolling balls of money out of the bank) or other kind of criminals smuggling something out and using a flash mob dance scene to distract but I didn’t want to mix a crime story with humor. I love fairy tales though and love to write silly ones with modern sarcasm mixed in. So you have Gnomingos (hey, give me a break, I have a head cold, alright)
The Dance of the Gnomingos
Once upon a time there was a village that sat in the shadow of a large immaculate castle. But this story is not about the castle or the King and Queen who lived there. This story is about the village who has suffered for all the poor and selfish decisions the King, Queen and all their ancestors have made over the years.
One day a little girl who was busy sweeping the street in front of her parents’ black-smithing kiosk saw a strange little man nonchalantly leaning against a building across the way. She watched him for a bit but he never moved anything more than his eyes. She ran inside.
“Mama, Mama! There is a strange little man standing across the way” She pointed right at him, because she was a peasant and peasants don’t know that it’s considered bad manners to stare and point at those who look different than us. He mother who didn’t have a cell phone to distract her, looked up to see the creature and gasped.
“Maria! Stay away from him. For he is a Gnomingo. Oh, what has the queen gotten herself into now? Have you seen any more like him?” She asked the young girl while wringing her hands.
“No, Mama. Just him.” Little Maria said
“Well, be cautious, daughter, where there is one Gnomingo, there will be more. Mark my words. It has been more than one hundred years since the Gnomingos came to this village, but I have heard the tales told by my elders. We will pay for the queen’s vices.” The woman shook her head and went back to hammering horseshoes.
The following morning, it was just as the black smith’s wife had predicted. There were Gnomingos scattered about the village. It seemed like there was one at every corner. Maria swept the walk again—it seems like a lot of sweeping but it was a medieval village so things were quite dusty. The girl was so busy watching the Gnomingos that she did not see the boy riding up to her.
“Yo! I am looking for the black smith what works here at ye ol’ kiosk!” the boy said.
“He is my father. What would a young boy such as you want with the likes of him?” The girl asked.
“There is to be a meeting tonight of all the adults to discuss the coming of the Gnomingos” The boy said looking around suspiciously “I hear my Pa say that they are here to steal a babe.” He whispered to the girl.
“Wha? You say they steal a babe? But why?” the girl asked now completely intrigued.
“I know not, but tonight, sneak to the meeting with me and we shall hear and know.” The boy said still whispering and then louder “Tell your father then, I must be off to spread word” And with that he rode away.
That night, the boy, whose name incidentally was Roger, I didn’t tell you before because he really isn’t an essential character, and Maria listened in to the adult meeting. Maria was surprised to see her mother stand to speak.
“When I was but a wee girl, younger than my Maria is now, my grandmother told me a tale about the queen’s great-grandmother. Her name was Gabrielle and she was a poor miller’s daughter—one of us—but the miller was clever and he had a plan to introduce his daughter to the King. He told the king’s men that his daughter could spin straw into gold.”
“Oh, Come on, Maggie Smith, Are you gonna try to tell us that the Rumpelstiltskin story really happened? Please, it’s a story we tell our wee ones.” A man interrupted
“Shut yar trap, Evan Shoemaker, let the woman speak!” Someone else yelled
“Ok, fine” Maria’s mother said “you all know the story. But then you know that the queen cheated. She sent men to listen in to Rumpelstiltskin and that is how she learned his name. She cheated him out of his rightful payment, her first born.”
“So what does a cheatin’ queen from a hundred odd years ago have to do with us now?” The rude interrupting man asked.
“Because Rumpelstiltskin was a Gnomingo and to punish the kingdom, he sent the Gnomingos here to the village to steal a babe to take the place of the one the queen cheated him out of.”
“Why are they here now then, pray tell us, Maggie, why?” The shoemaker was not going to back down easily.
“Because you stubborn arse, every time the queen or any of her descendants use magic, a payment will be a babe. So, we see the Gnomingos are back, what else would they be here for?”
Maria looked at Roger. She was worried about her baby sister and her niece and nephew; twins just beginning to toddle about.
“Have ya seen the things, Maggie? Small little men, there might be what a hand’s fingers of them? Look around ye, this shed’s filled with strong muscled men, we can take ‘em!”
“Show’s what you know” Maggie said “On the morrow, there’ll be more and more and more until the whole cluster of ‘em starts their dance and you’ll be mesmerized. While they be dancin’ about, they’ll be sneaking one of our babes right into the center of the bunch and we won’t see ‘em for another hundred years or so.”
“Come on!” Roger grabbed her hand, we gotta go check on the wee ones. We should get them out of town and try to keep ‘em safe somewhere.”
“But our Ma’s will think they got stole” said Maria. She thought about it though and after a bit “Ok, let’s gather’em all up on the morrow and take ‘em to the caves to hide out til the Gnomingos are gone.”
But on the morrow, when everyone got up, there in the center of the village stood an entire flock (if you will) of Gnomingos and clustered together. They began to move as a group, small shuffling steps. Craning their necks above each other and back and forth. They moved forward slowly, taking side steps here and there, then a few up front dipping down and touching the ground then back up and clapping. They were all clapping. Maria stood watching with fascination. Roger dropped her hand and stared too. As the mass of Gnomingos moved along, more villagers came out to watch the group. They all moved in synchronicity. It was a magical dance that put everyone under a spell. When the group passed out of the village and into oblivion, the villagers broke free of the spell and went back to their mundane lives.
Maria went off to visit the twins but when she arrived there was one less than there had been the day before. Now just her little nephew Will sat alone by the fireplace and Maria’s aunt sat on the chair in tears.
“They took my Anna, they took her and danced away.” She said through her tears. “Curse the Queen and her vanity, probably sleeping on a bed of gold-spun straw”
Maria didn’t know what to say, “Perhaps the Queen will use magic again and Anna will come back and dance with them next time!” It made her smile to imagine her niece dancing the dance of the Gnomingos. In fact, she hoped they would come back, she’d like to dance her way out of this God-forsaken village and into a life filled with magic, clapping, and odd little men.