This week’s Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction challenge is called X versus Z, Redux. Chuck gave us two lists of 20 items and we were supposed to randomly pick one from each list and write a story featuring those things, in a “Pirates vs. Ninjas” sort of way. One of the lists had “Kaiju” on it and I was tempted to game it like I did last week and do another Possumgeddon story, but I decided to honor the intent this week so I randomized it and got “Goblins” versus “Elves”. Of course, it’s early in the morning, so at first I thought I had gotten “Goblins” versus “Elvis”. I thought that sounded a lot funnier, so I went with that instead. Word limit was 2,000. I wrote 1,337 words. Please to enjoy.
THE END OF LONELY STREET
The little squad moved as silently as they could through the tunnels. Of course, that meant they were heard by anyone with ears within half a mile. If Xix wasn’t tripping over his own feet, Cuz was dropping his shield. Or Gyk was getting tangled up in his own pack straps. Piq shook his head. He was the captain. If they messed this up it would be on his head. It wasn’t much of a head, but he was attached to it.
“Shape it up, you guys,” he muttered out of the side of his mouth. “We’re almost there.” The others came crashing and stumbling to a halt. The din subsided and Xix looked at him. “Where are we going?”
Gyk punched him. “You know where. They told us before we left. Dummy.”
Xix put on a hurt face and rubbed his shoulder where Gyk had hit him. “They did not. I’d remember where if they had. I’m a good rememberer.” Cuz chuckled .
Piq shook his head again. “We have to go up there,” he said. He pointed upward. There were iron rungs driven into the wall that formed a ladder going up. They could see sunlight filtering through some kind of gate high overhead. The light didn’t reach them, but even Cuz knew what it meant.
“That’s the surface,” Xix said. “We can’t go there.”
“I told you it’s a crazy plan. We’ll never survive,” said Gyk. “You know what happens when we go up against hoomans.” Cuz made a squishy sound then giggled.
Piq shrugged. “What am I supposed to do, tell the king no? He sent us, we have to do what he says.”
Xix sighed. “Let’s get on with it,” he said, and he put his hand on the first rung of the ladder. Ten he stopped and looked back at Piq. “What are we doing, again?” Cuz sighed.
Elvis Presley sat on the sidewalk on the corner of Marshall and Union and held his guitar case close between his legs. He had just come out of a session at the Sun Records recording studios and was feeling tired. The sun had gone down and he was hungry. They had been at it all day. Mrs. Phillips had sent some sandwiches, but they had run out early in the afternoon.
There was a streetlamp on the corner and he leaned back against it gratefully and closed his eyes. I’ll just rest here a minute, he thought, then I’ll go find a place to get some dinner.
He dozed off, but was awakened by a grinding metallic sound. He looked around, and in the dim light of the streetlamp he could see the manhole cover in the street lifting up. Something was coming out from under the street. He pulled his guitar case closer to him and watched.
It was hard to lift the cover. Goblins weren’t the strongest of creatures, and it was iron and so very heavy. Cuz and Gyk both had to crowd onto the top rung and push as hard as they could to lift get it up enough for Xix and Piq to scramble out. They were able to hold it up to let the others come out behind them. The squad gathered themselves, standing in the middle of Union Avenue.
A light over their heads changed from red to green. There was a loud, blaring sound, like a trumpet, then a screech. A hooman was shouting. They cringed, and ran. More blaring and screeching, and they looked around and saw a number of large metal boxes skidding and sliding through the place they had just been standing.
They kept running until they stood under the glow of a soft yellow light. They looked back out and saw several hoomans shaking fists at them and yelling. Then a mellow voice, the most soothing thing they had ever heard, asked, “Are you guys all right?”
Piq looked and saw a hooman sitting on the ground beside the light. He had black hair on his head, slicked back with some sort of grease. He wore a jacket and pants and carried had some sort of contraption cradled in his arms. It didn’t look like a weapon, and the blue eyes were full of concern. Despite having never met a hooman before, Piq felt they could trust this one, and he made motions to soothe the others.
Gyk leaned over and whispered to Xix. “I think that’s him. That’s the one we are looking for.” Cuz nodded.
Piq overheard, and turned to them. “Is it?” He looked back at the hooman. They all looked alike to him, but there might have been something distinctive in the curl of the lip, or the lock of hair that had come loose over his eyes. The contraption in his arms might be his musical instrument. He squinted at the hooman. “Are you the King?” he asked.
Elvis gaped at them. He could barely understand them. He didn’t know who they were or where they had come from, but they seemed to think he was a king. He shrugged. “Some people call me the King of Rock and Roll,” he said, “but that’s as close as I come to being a king.”
Piq felt a jolt in his spine. The King of Rock and Roll! It was him! He held out his hands to the man. “We need you to come with us,” he said. “Our king wants to meet you.”
“What,” said Elvis, “back down there?” He pointed at the manhole. All four of the little guys nodded. “You live down there? And have a king?” They nodded again. Elvis shook his head. “Who are you guys?”
Piq drew himself up proudly until his eartips quivered. “I am Piq,” he said, and he introduced the others. “We are the best fighters in our king’s army. He sent us to find you and bring you to him.” Cuz grinned then bowed and turned in a circle, showing himself off.
“What if I don’t want to come?” asked Elvis.
“Then we have to do our best to bring you anyway,” said Gyk. “We know you are no fighter. Hopefully we would be able to subdue you.”
Elvis began to stand up and back away. Piq shot Gyk a dirty look then held out a hand to Elvis imploringly. “Please, your majesty, we don’t want to force you. We want you to come with us. Imagine the honor! No hooman has ever been to our home. You can be the first.” He pointed at the guitar case. “Bring your instrument. You can sing for us.”
Elvis considered. “I really should check with the Colonel first,” he said. “He sets up all my appearances.”
“There is no time,” said Piq, at the same time that Xix and Gyk shouted, “No Colonels!” “No soldiers!” Cuz looked alarmed and Elvis recoiled.
Piq waved them to silence and turned again to Elvis, who looked like he was about to bolt. “Please, sir, don’t go. We need you to come with us. Please. Hoomans fight us and win whenever they see us, and we never get a chance to enjoy their world. Please, come with us so we can see what it is like. Come sing for us.” It was the longest, most passionate speech he had ever given. The others looked at him in awe. Cuz actually saluted.
Elvis thought for a couple of minutes, then cleared his throat. “All right, Piq,” he said. “I’ll come with you.” He stood up. They waited for the traffic light to turn red, then ran out into the intersection. The manhole cover was still off. Cuz went down first, then the others followed one by one. Elvis passed Piq his guitar case and lowered the manhole cover back into place as he descended.
Later that night, for the first time in their long history, the King of the Goblins danced and their lonely isolation from the world above came to an end.