The Small Man Chronicles: There Be Dragons

The Small Man Chronicles: There Be Dragons (1938)

Small Man Chronicles

a J.R. Dallas novel

(extract from Chapter XVIII)

published one year after J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or There And Back Again

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The Smalluns had made it to Asragarn.

And Mandrarg was near.

The giant owls of Forellem had not brought them all the way, for they had other, more interesting things to do like do other things and such.

Thall, the tallest of the Smalluns, knew there was only one way to proceed: through the dark woods of Klorsharum and passed the rivers of Gooloore. The journey was perilous but this was his quest, their quest, and he wasn’t about to give up now.

“Young Small Man, you have served us well thusfar”, Thall said to Polio, “We Smalluns need you but this is not your fight. If you wish to return to your meaningless existence, with your round doors and your cheese, you may do so. We will not think less of you.”

“I’ll be honest, Thall, I don’t like you people and I care not for your long and tedious quest”, replied the Small Man, “But I will help you. Because Old Man Hat is very powerful and he will no doubt vaporise me or put a sinister curse on my soul should I refuse.”

Old Man Hat, who was standing behind Thall, giving Polio a stern stare and making throat-cutting gestures at him, said nothing.

“Very well”, Thall said with a smile, “On we go! Your courage will not go unrewarded, young Small Man.”

Thall ruffles Polio’s hair and walks on as everyone follows.

“I’m 78!”, yelled a vastly ignored Polio.

The dark woods of Klorsharum were dark.

So dark in fact that one could only walk through them with the help of a lit torch, or two. Luckily, Old Man Hat possessed many abilities, one of which was to generate strange white light from his staff. This was certainly helpful. But they were many and Polio’s tiny feet could not quite keep up with the rest of the group. It was only a matter of time before he would lose them completely, despite his many vocal complaints.

And lose them, he did.

Polio was now walking in total darkness. He became more and more aware of the bizarre sounds which emanated from those treacherous woods.

“I hate Smalluns…”, he thought.

What could he do but keep walking and hope that someone would eventually come back for him or that he would somehow catch up? Then again, what if some forest creature was to attack him and feast on him long before that?

This thought unnerved Polio and he started shaking.

That’s when he remembered: the bracelet.

Of course! The bracelet from the monkey mines of Blerrendor! It had proved itself most useful and displayed incredible powers earlier in the quest, surely it could come in handy in this desperate instant. All he had to do was wear it and think of what he wanted, then the bracelet would no doubt provide him with that!

But why wish for something as trivial as a mere boost? Why not wish for The Smalluns’ Pointy Mountain back? Or the death of the beast Mandrarg? Then that darn quest would be over! Hell, why not just wish for a short trip back home?

It sure was tempting…

Then again, perhaps there were more creative things he could do with this bracelet. Old Man Hat could swallow that rusty staff of his, impale himself from orifice to orifice with it. Thall and all the Smalluns in the land could all be tied together into one big ball by their veins and nerve-endings, with only their raw muscle tissue keeping them warm at night. Mandrarg could be summoned and I could sit back and watch as he devoured each of them, limb by limb, eyeball by eyeball, before my very eyes as a female Fairyun lets me lick those pointy ears of hers.

“Young Polio!”, a loud voice came from the darkness.

Polio looked up, as if brutally awoken from a delicious dream. Above him, stood a stern-looking Old Man Hat, who was puffing on his fern pipe anxiously.

“What is the meaning of this stalling?”, he said, “Explain yourself!”

Halfway between anger and shame, Polio was seriously considering wearing that bracelet. In fact, he was so close to wearing it, it was almost passed his wrist.

“Well?”, pressed the old man.

“I… “, the Small Man struggled.

“Speak, damn you!”

“I… couldn’t reach. I’m too small.”, Polio said finally.

“Too small? No creature is too small that it can’t run or hold on to a taller, and therefore superior, being’s leg in order to follow a pack during a most important journey.”

Polio resisted the bracelet’s power and slipped it back in his coat pocket, without Old Man Hat noticing.

“May I… hang on to your leg?”, Polio asked.

“Not on your life, peasant!”

Old Man Hat walked on, leaving Polio to follow on foot, cursing his name under his breath.

“I could have skinned you…”, Polio muttered.

“What was that?”

“N… nothing. Just talking to myself.”

“And they say I’m high…”, Old Man Hat concluded.

Polio had soon rejoined the group when Thall sensed something was amiss.

“What is there, Thall? What do you sense?”, said Yarlaan, one of the hairiest of the Smalluns present.

“Klargens…”

Just then, a pack of rabid klargens, foaming at the mouth and emitting terrifying shrieks, burst out of the forest and start surrounding Polio, Old Man Hat and the Smalluns. Once again, Polio starts to consider his bracelet. Slowly and discreetly, he removes it from his pocket and leads it to his wrist as the klargens get closer and closer.

“This is it…”, Polio thought, “First I get rid of the klargens, then the old man’s getting melted in the fiery pits of Warglor. Beard first.”

And, just as Polio was about to finally wear the bracelet, spears came flying from nowhere, impaling every single klargen right there and then. Polio couldn’t understand what had happened. Had the bracelet worked already? That was impossible, he hadn’t pulled it passed his wrist yet.

Out of the darkness, light finally appeared revealing the Smalluns’ saviours: a group of armed Fairyun men on their typically white, blonde and blue-eyed horses.

“Fairyuns…”, Old Man Hat said to himself.

Polio puts the bracelet back in his coat pocket.

“Smalluns, are you all well?”, said the whitest of all the Fairyuns.

“We’re fine.”, replied Thall, reluctantly.

“How did you find us?”, Old Man Hat asked.

“We sensed you would all wander here, and the dark woods of Klorsharum are not known for being the safest of places.”

“We do not need your charity or your company.”, Thall retorted.

Old Man Hat gives Thall a piercing look of disappointment and intervenes:

“What Thall means to say is: we do not mean to be a burden.”

“Your quest is a perilous one, we only wish to offer our assistance should you ever need it.”

Thall emits an audible grunt.

“Thank you, Melomas, you are most kind.”

“We will lead you out of the dark woods. After that, if you wish to proceed without our help, we shall not get in your way.”

And so Melomas and the Fairyuns led the way and we were soon out of the woods. But there were more obstacles yet to come.

The Smalluns had reached the rivers of Gooloore, night had turned to day and the Fairyuns had said their goodbyes for they knew that not all these Smalluns would make it back.

“Blasted river, how will we ever get across?”, Old Man Hat asked himself.

“What about the owls? Call the owls.”, suggested Polio.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“The owls are not ours to summon.”

“But we summoned them earlier.”

“That was different.”

“How?”

“That was a cliff, this is a river.”

“I don’t understand. Don’t you have a spell? Can’t you dry the river?”

“No. We’ll have to go around.”

“That’ll take ages! We’ll never get there!”

“Do you have a better suggestion, foolish Small Man?”

“I could use the…”

“Yes?”

“The… wood to build a bridge. We could all do that.”

Overhearing the conversation, Thall stepped in:

“We are not lumberjacks, young Small Man! We are warriors and Smallun warriors do not build bridges!”

“But…”

Old Man Hat hits Polio across the face with his staff. Polio reaches into his coat pocket.

“We’re going around.”, Old Man Hat finally said to everyone, “Follow me.”

As the group marched on behind Old Man Hat, Polio could only sit there and manage his anger internally. But this time, by extending this quest even more senselessly, the old man had gone too far. Polio finally takes out his bracelet and, without hesitation, wears it.

“Take me to Mandrarg, deep inside the Pointy Mountain.”

In a flash, Polio was there.

Removing the bracelet, Polio looked around to find that he was ankles-deep in a sea of riches. Gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, it was a sparkling paradise and Polio had never seen anything like it.

Unfortunately, where there are riches, there be dragons.

The ground started to shake beneath Polio’s feet. Or so he thought, for it wasn’t the ground that was lifting him, it was Mandrarg. The bracelet had landed Polio right on his head. Losing his balance, Polio fell back, dropping the bracelet in the process. What was he going to do?

As he started searching through all the coins and gems around him for the bracelet, he heard Mandrarg’s booming, cavernous voice and it was easily the most frightening sound he’d ever heard in his entire life.

“Who dares enter my mountain?”

“N-no-one, I assure you.”, replied Polio nervously, still searching for the bracelet.

“I was wondering when you Smalluns would disturb my slumber.”

“I-I’m no Smallun, I’m a Small Man, from the Parkypark Lands in the West.”

“Small Man? I’ve never seen a Small Man.”

“Trust me, I’m no Smallun. In fact, I hate Smalluns. So you see… we have something in common, you and I.”

“You think me a fool, Small Man?”

Mandrarg’s voice was much more aggressive now.

“N-no, of course not! Your… excellency.”, replied the Small Man sheepishly.

“You may not be a Smallun but you are one of them nonetheless. You are aiding them in some way.”

“That’s not true! Y-you’re mistaken, oh great Mandrarg!”

“Silence!”

Mandrarg’s breath reeked of smoke and it felt like fire could burst out of his vast nostrils at any second. The beast approached its scaly, toothy mouth closer and closer to the Small Man, ready to eat him when Polio finally found his bracelet.

“Take me back! Take me back to the Smalluns!”

And, just like that, he was back with the Smalluns, trailing behind as usual. Old Man Hat turns around to find a shaking Polio, lying in the dirt.

“Young Small Man! Hurry up! This is no picnic!”

Polio turns to Old Man Hat and gives him a dirty look, followed by a wry smile. As if he’d just got an idea.

“Coming!”

Putting the bracelet back on, Polio wished for something unpleasant. Just then, Old Man Hat felt the trousers under his robe get looser. Polio had made him a small man, just not all over.

What a fiendish punishment.

The bracelet had finally taken hold of Polio.

And it would never let go.

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More fantasy tales from J.R. Dallas next year.

Only on WeTheMindthinkers.

See Little Earth Map HERE.

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Phalloids

“Phalloids” (1971)

Phalloids

an L.L.L. Burlap short story

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The Phalloids had spoken.

But could they have been wrong?

After all, they had been mistaken before, hadn’t they?

Hadn’t they… ?

They hadn’t.

Father had given his life for The Phalloids all those years ago, he fought bravely against the forces of The Mindreading Elite, telepath warriors, a sect of unbelievers. The Phalloids couldn’t be wrong, lives were lost and that couldn’t have been in vain.

“You are the destroyer of The Phalloids. Phalloids are we.”, The Phalloids had said.

How could this be?

Without The Phalloids, our proud city of Phalloidia wouldn’t even have a name!

Or Phalloids!

The very thought gives me chills.

Without them, how would we know of the future? How do you live without knowing what comes next?

Besides, we rely on Phalluid for literally everything. No Phalluid, that creamy, seemingly endless white nectar The Phalloids bless us with every morning, would mean nothing to water the crops, nothing to drink, nothing to wash ourselves with, nothing to make our water taste better.

Chaos.

I can’t let this happen. I won’t.

I will destroy The Phalloids after all.

They were right…

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Look out for more L.L.L. Burlap short stories ONLY on WeTheMindThinkers.

The Mountains Upside Down – Chapter III

“The Mountains Upside Down” (1863)

a Gilles Vorace novel

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Extract from Chapter III:

“Downwards And Upwards”

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We had finally begun our climb down to the top of the mountain.

Dr Niemendorf had been right all along: the mountains upside down did exist!

Hektor Wiendelstein’s journal was not a fake nor was it a collection of demented ramblings which was certainly good news for the expedition. What lies at the peak of an upside down mountain, deep underground?

We were about to find out.

-“Dr Niemendorf”, I inquired, “What of the air down there?”

-“Young nephew, use your mind! Typically, a mountain peaks at the purest and lightest of its air. Therefore, since our journey already begins at the top, we should find a vast pocket of fresh oxygen right at the foot of the mountain. The freshest, most delightful air you could ever breathe. After that, it’ll all be downhill from there.”

-“Surely you mean ‘uphill’.”

-“Hush those mindless queries and corrections.”

-“But doctor”, our Finnish lumberjack friend Raskkattan started, “We five, we not enough. Maybe more people is better, no? Danger!”

-“Balderdash! A group of five abled bodies with working limbs and capable, functioning brains is more than enough to secure a safe and productive expedition.”

-“But we drop!”

-“Drop? Absurd! If my calculations are correct, and they are, once we have slid our way through to the mountain’s base, reverse gravity should kick-in just in time to guarantee a smooth upside down walk all the way to the top!”

-“But…”

-“‘But-but-but’, be quiet man! Keep your concerns to yourself and leave the science to those of us who are indeed qualified to discuss such intricate matters. Me, for example. Now carry this pig.”

Raskkattan should have known better than to argue with Uncle Niemendorf. He was as stubborn as an owl and, more often than not (by that, of course, I mean always), he was completely, surprisingly right. My uncle handed the bulky Scandinavian the pig and, after wrapping a long piece of rope around a nearby tree, started his descent.

Raskkattan followed, his porcine disciple firmly tied to his chest, like a real boy. Olaf was next, the weak-minded child was scared out of his wits, contesting throughout: “Why did he have to come?”, “Why couldn’t he go home instead?”, nonsense of the sort. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to be part of such a ground-breaking discovery? I tied up the boy promptly, from neck to toe, filling his mouth with cranberries to keep him quiet, and lowered him down with the others.

The ungrateful tick.

It was to be Lady Seitenstreifen’s turn when she turned to me, her stunning figure in that all-too complimenting dress of hers, hardly suited to an adventure such as this one might I add, heaving towards me, like a bag of cherries, and asked:

-“Do they have napkins down there?”

Not knowing what she meant and for fear of sounding foolish, I immediately agreed with her. Puzzled, she nonetheless smiled and followed the rest of the group down the crack. Good thing I remembered to tie her rope to the tree in time, she had forgotten and a lesser gentleman could have lost himself in that magical smile of hers.

She truly was a special breed.

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The climb down was torturous.

Impatient, Uncle Niemendorf intermittently yelled instructions back at us. The pig, no doubt deeply disturbed by the events, squealed uncontrollably, Raskkattan muttered what could only be Finnish profanities on and off, young Olaf crying hot, bitter, childish tear the entire time, Lady Seitenstreifen complaining about the absence of a working powder room (poor, sweet Lady Seitenstreifen, I could bury my head in her) and me, unsure about where this unsympathetic road would lead me.

Respect? Fame? Fortune? Death?

Time would tell.

-“My uncle, how much farther down until we reach the mountain?”

-“According to Hektor Wiendelstein’s journal, we should be approaching the base of the mountain somewhere between now and later.”

-“Later as in after some time has passed?”, interrupted Lady Seitenstreifen, with a voice so soft and cushiony I felt instantly wombed by its motherly comfort.

-“Precisely”, simply replied my uncle.

This was going to be one long climb.

-“You have water?”, Raskkattan asked the doctor with a thick Helsinki accent, so thick it must have weighed at least a couple of inches.

-“‘Vwahtier’? I suppose you mean ‘water’? Fool, you imagine I would undertake such a monumental undertaking without packing enough water for us all?”

-“No, but it’s good you have.”

-“I don’t ‘have’ it now, of course. I had to drop some weight on the way down in order to perform my leader duties to the best of my abilities so what I couldn’t drink, I discarded. But not to worry, as long as I am hydrated, the group should enjoy a safe journey with me, its leader, in top physical form. Besides, the water will no doubt be waiting for us down the mountain thanks to good old, trusty reverse gravity.”

-“Surely you mean ‘up’ the mountain, Uncle Niemendorf!”, I playfully jested.

-“I loathe the very fabric of your being and, furthermore, your face.”, was his, I felt, somewhat harsh, reply.

A sudden move by Dr Niemendorf sent all of us swinging and sent Olaf face-first into the rocky walls which surrounded us, cracking his skull on a sharp piece of granite. He died on impact. The blood pouring out of his little head angered my uncle but provided Raskkattan’s pet pig with enough fluids to keep it alive and squeal-less for some time.

The circle of life.

-“I tire, lets set up camp here!”, Lady Seitenstreifen suggested as Olaf’s motionless corpse hung puppet-like right below her small, delicate feet.

Suddenly, and without warning, the rope snapped and we started our long tumble down this mysterious, upside down abyss.

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More extracts from Gilles Vorace‘s “The Mountains Upside Down” will come soon.

Only on WeTheMindThinkers.

Introducing Gilles Vorace

Little known French science fiction writer Gilles Vorace was a contemporary of legendary author Jules Verne. Not only that but they grew up together in Nantes, went to the same boarding school and used to share stories, along with Jules’ brother Paul.

Their friendship, however, ended circa 1864 when Vorace vehemently accused Verne of stealing his novel “The Mountains Upside Down” to build his classic “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”. Vorace never forgave Verne, whose take on the situation amounted to this quote:

“The man is unhinged.”

Finally, Vorace’s “The Mountains Upside Down” is seeing the light of day and We, The MindThinkers are here to bring you several extracts from this unique piece of work.

An extract from Chapter III is coming soon only on We, The Mindthinkers.

Welcome, MindThinkers.

Greetings.

Here at We, The MindThinkers, we bring you the best forgotten/unknown sci-fi short stories from the best forgotten/unknown sci-fi writers out there.

Tales of space and other things, such as space, are here for your personal entertainment: read, dream, finish what you were reading, spread the word.

MindThinkers, this blog is for you.

We will be releasing short stories one chapter at a time starting with Norman L. Brisbane‘s classic “The Red Moons Of NeOrion”, a tale of faith, belief and bubbles.

Chapter 1 is coming soon.

So long, MindThinkers.

For now.