Where’s My Sock?

“Wait for it…wait for it…” Neb whispered in anticipation.

“Damn it, Joel, why are your socks shoved into the cushions of the couch?” The woman made a disgusted sound and tossed the offending articles of clothing across the room.

“I have no idea. It’s not like I put them there,” the man shouted back.

Neb and the rest of us cracked up laughing – little Jol actually rolled around on the ground, he was laughing so hard. It was a pretty standard trick, as far as sock gremlin pranks go, but it was a classic, and always good for a laugh.

Except that Sak wasn’t laughing. The big gremlin had a scowl on his face.

“When are you jerks going to realize these kinds of pranks are only child’s play?”

Jol’s face screwed up into a pout. He was only a child, after all. The rest of the group sobered, smiles fading from faces.

I sighed. “What did you have in mind, Sak?”

His scowl deepened. “Just wait and see.” With that, he stalked off into the shadows, leaving the rest of us feeling chastised and disappointed even in light of Neb’s successful placement.

“C’mon, guys. Don’t let him get to you. It was a good spot, Neb. And the human reaction was great.”

Neb just shrugged and made his way back to the gremlin door.

I hated Sak for ruining it for everyone, but I was also worried. Lately he had been withdrawn from the other sock gremlins, and I had no idea why. Used to be, you could count on Sak for the best prank of all – always something new. Some of his past placements were legendary. But lately, he hadn’t even come along on many pranks (and he never laughed even when he did) let alone come up with his own.

Still, even with an unhappy team player, life had to go on; we had socks to misplace.

Neb tried again and put one between the sheets of the human’s bed. The woman woke up in the middle of the night with a small shriek when her foot rubbed against it. She snatched it from under the covers, made an angry sound, and threw it just shy of the hamper. Neb got bonus points for making her have to pick it up again later.We all tittered quietly, not wanting to wake up the dog sleeping on the pillow nearby.

Bup, in a stroke of genius, hid one on the ground outside, about a block away from the human residence. The human didn’t even recognize the sock as his own; he just gave it an odd look, shrugged, and kept walking.

Little Jol snickered as he dropped one behind the clothes dryer. The humans would probably never find it there, unless they bought new appliances or moved. I made a mental note to try to remember to watch the pair on the day they moved out. Moving day was always a fun time for gremlins of all types, not just sock gremlins.

I even tried my hand and snuck one into the refrigerator. The puzzled expression on the man’s face when he found it was priceless. Hilarity ensued and we all had to flee to avoid being noticed, we were all laughing so hard. Not to sound too immodest, but I think it rivaled even Sak’s best prank. Although it would have been even better if the woman had found it instead.

In the back of my mind, though, I kept thinking about Sak’s last words. I had been subconsciously waiting for him to put as all to shame, but any time we went to work, he stayed behind.

Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer.

“Sak, what is wrong with you? A sock gremlin’s whole purpose in life is to misplace human socks. You haven’t placed a sock for months. You haven’t even been supporting your fellow gremlins in our pranks. What has gotten into you?” I was yelling, but it was because I was scared. Sak didn’t look like himself. The scowl, so uncharacteristic for a sock gremlin whose purpose in life is to laugh at mischief made, seemed a permanent fixture on his face now. His hands were balled into fists, unlike most sock gremlins whose fingers were constantly twitching to filch a sock. He even seemed lethargic, where most sock gremlins are nimble and quick to pull off pranks.

He didn’t seem like a sock gremlin at all anymore. And I told him so.

His first response was anger. His eyes and nostrils flared. “What do you know about it anyway?” he snapped. But then he seemed to shrink, folding in on himself. “Oh, what’s the point? There’s no point to misplacing socks. The whole point was to best all of you, even myself. But how can I ever top the socks on the power line? Or in the oven? Or even in the bag of bread? I’m done. I’m all washed up. I quit.”

I patted his shoulder, uncomfortable. A depressed sock gremlin was a bit outside my realm of expertise. “There, there, old friend. You just need to get out there and place a sock. Start small. Start with a classic. You don’t have to top anyone. You just have to do it. One sock. For me. Please? I promise it’ll be just the thing to get you back into it.”

He reluctantly agreed, but he was very secretive about it. He wouldn’t tell any of us where he put it. Then, he lined us up in the bedroom to wait for the human’s reaction. She pulled open her sock drawer and shoved a bunch of laundry into it. She held one lone sock in her hand, looked back through her laundry basket for it, then sighed. She wadded it up and shoved it into the back of her sock drawer, probably with a mind to match it to another lonesome sock sometime in the future. Then she was gone.

We all stared at Sak, puzzled.

“Well? Where is it?”

He smirked at as he pulled the drawer open again. There, next to where the woman had shoved the unmatching sock, was its mate.

“You misplaced the sock…in the sock drawer?” Bup asked, his eyes blinking rapidly as he attempted to understand the prank.

Sak burst out laughing, rolling around on the top of the dresser he was laughing so hard. Tears sprouted from the corners of his eyes. This went on for awhile, and the rest of us shifted uncomfortably. True, it had never been done before, but I wasn’t sure any of us quite got made it so funny.

He finally got himself under control and wiped the tears from his eyes. “Oh, the irony,” he said, holding his sides for one last chuckle.

“What’s irony?” Jol asked in a small voice.

We all exchanged glances, and I shook my head. Nobody knew.

“The last place anyone would look for a missing sock would be the sock drawer,” Sak stated matter-of-fact. “I can’t wait to try more ironic places. Like in the dryer. Or shoved into the toe of a shoe.” He chuckled as he hopped off the dresser and made his way to the gremlin door.

“Am I missing something?” Neb asked with a frown.

I shrugged. At least Sak was back to stealing socks and laughing about, even if it actually made sense where he placed them.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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