The Further Adventures of Grupp

Today’s writing prompt: The story must have a snake in it. The story must involve a sack in it. A character questions authority. A character is kind throughout most of the story. During the story, a character finds a long-lost friend.


Home again, home again…

I was in a warm golden place with a fluffy dog licking my face. It was time to leave and I had to go to the cold white place. It stank. It was an aw ful stench. I opened my eyes and saw blue sky and rolled over and vomited. Unfortunately that didn’t make the stink stop.

“Hey, Nice Lady. You’re awake.”

“What?” I was a bit confused. Was my name Nice Lady?

“Why did you upchuck on my feet?”

“I wasn’t trying to. Grupp?”

“Yeah?”

I could remember some things now. I was Isabelle Newcombe; the giant carrying me was Grupp.

“What happened?”

“You fell through a hole, and I grabbed you, but I fell too. We’re back home!”

“How do you know?”

“Smells right. And a griffin tried to eat us, so I picked you up and ran.”

My stomach was roiling. “Grupp, please put me down.” I must get away from that smell!

We were on a path in the woods. Some of the tree trunks were as thick as Grupp was tall. The canopy overhead was thick and thinned slightly over the path. The shade had a cool green tint. Grupp carefully placed me on my feet. I wobbled in my Chanel sling-backs, but stayed upright. A breeze blew across my face and I turned into it, letting it blow away Grupp’s foul odor. We’d have to do something about that.

I brushed the skirt of my Dior dress. Everyone had fits when I mixed designers, but I just didn’t have the shoulders for Chanel. I did have the waist for Dior, and loved Chanel’s shoes. There were brown smudges across the black and white abstract design of my skirt. Good heavens! One of the 1950s finest designs ruined by a tumble with a an ogre! I tried brushing off the stains, but only succeeded in smearing the brown on my gloves. I smelled my gloves. Just plain soil. For a minute I thought…

“Nice Lady, you dropped these.” Grupp handed me my purse and hat.

“Thank you dear!” I pinned my hat on and could tell tell my hair was a mess. Out here with nothing, I could only hope the hat would hide the worst of it.

I put my purse over my forearm and said, “Well, Grupp, where do we go from here?”

“Up the path.”

“What’s at the end of the path?”

“I dunno.”

“But I thought this was home!”

“It is. Kinda. Home is here. It wasn’t where you were. Was that your home?”

“Yes. Do you suppose another hole will open for me?”

“Dunno.”

“Up the path it is.”

Grupp whistled an energetic tune. Loudly. I didn’t mind it. I minded the smell so I walked in front of him, which at the moment was upwind. I’d never walked on a forest path before. The heels of my sling-backs kept hitting stones and my ankles would turn. I was walking like a drunk. Thank goodness only Grupp could see me.

I was looking very closely at the path in front of me, trying to avoid stones, and saw a tree branch across the path. Then it moved. It was a mottled snake as thick as my wrist and it turned its head and looked me in the eye.

I screamed as loud as I could. I had never seen a real snake, let alone one so long I could see the end of it.

Grupp rushed forward and looked at the snake. “Aw, it’s just a bug eater. Couldn’t hurt you if it tried. Hello old friend.”

Its forked tongue flicked out. It just sat there, its round pupil dark as coal, studying me.

“You know it?” I asked.

Grupp studied it. “Naw, but she looks just like my friend back home.”

“Hey, are you hungry?” he asked me.

“Yes. You ate my snack.”

“Yeah. I’m hungry too. I’m getting something to eat.” He tromped into the forest, branches breaking and leaves rustling.

“I’m going to keep walking up the path,” I called after him.

After only a few minutes of walking, the path widened, the trees thinned, and I could a town. I walked faster.

It was a sleepy place with thatched roofs. One building had wooden shingles and a porch, on which two men and woman stood. They stared at me. They wore coarse homespun clothing similar to what my father had worn as a farmer. I held my chin high and walked up the steps.

“Good day,” I said.

“You sure think yeer somethin’ special,” the woman said to me.

“Hello,” I said, ignoring her rudeness. I did mind rudeness, but now was not the time to fuss about it. “Can you direct me to a store?”

“Yeer lookin’ at it,” one of the men said. “I’m the law ‘round here. Better not cause any trouble.”

“It looks like you are the trouble,” I said. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

“I’m the store owner,” the woman said.

“I must make some purchases.” I wanted food and some soap for Grupp.

She bowed and pointed at the door. The men laughed.

“Small wonder no one visits this place. You’re manners are atrocious.”

The men looked confused and one said, “Atrosh a whatis?”

The shop was dim, lit only from the light streaming through the windows. The woman showed me where everything was located and said, “Pick what you want and pay for it.” She smiled the smile of the greedy, which I’ve seen much of in recent years.

“I don’t suppose you’d take this,” I said pulling a dollar bill from my wallet.

“Paper? Yeer nuts lady. I’ll take your earrings.”

They were Dior, and I was damn well going to get a lot for them. “Very well.”

I pulled canned goods off the shelf and some potatoes and onions. I was trying on some boots when I heard a commotion outside. I recognized Grupp’s voice. The woman ran outside.

Grupp could take care of himself. I darted behind the counter and grabbed a sack, stuffed my items in it along with my sling-backs. I filled that sack as full as I could, left one earring on the counter and went out the back door. I ran around to the side of the building and peeked around the corner.

Grupp had exchanged his sweats for someone’s cotton shirt, a leather vest and brown woolen pants. He held a man in each hand – one was the “law” – above the ground and two were attacking him with pitchforks.

“Hey, that hurts!” he yelled.

“Grupp, dear,” I called to him. “It’s time to leave.”

He dropped the men, brushed away the two with pitchforks and walked over to me.

“I think we better run,” he said in what was for him a whisper. “These people don’t like me. Thay can’t hurt me, but they can hurt you.”

“Okay,” I said.

He picked me up and ran.

TO BE CONTINUED

PREVIOUSLY

How I met Grupp

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