Want to see those OTKs I mentioned? They’re at Sock Dreams – and tell them I said hello!
by Lisa Montoya
Perdy saw Grandpa Zeke sitting in the swing on the front porch as she carried the empty laundry basket. She pushed open the old wooden screen door and went to sit next to him. She leaned her head against his shoulder as the two of them just looked out into the yard. Perdy sighed.
He asked, “How you be, Perdy Perdy?”
She squeezed his arm and cuddled closer to him.
Grandpa Zeke slipped his arm around her. “Did you find those missing socks?”
Perdy shook her head. “No. They aren’t in my room. Do you think a squirrel got into the house again and took them? Or maybe we have a sock eating washing machine.”
She sat up and looked at him. “Really, I looked everywhere.”
Grandpa Zeke smiled at her. “I am sure you did. Most likely was the sock gremlins.”
Perdy stared at him, waiting for him to continue.
“Yeah, sock gremlins. When I was young we hung all of our clothes on the line, but that didn’t stop them gremlins from taking our socks. My mama was always on us kids about our missing socks.” He grinned. “We had to guard them things.”
Perdy smiled and leaned back into his arms.
Grandpa Zeke sat up straighter. “We tried to hunt them gremlins down.” He pointed at the house. “Billy, Stella and me looked in all the closets and corners.” He paused for a couple of moments as the two of them sat, looking into the street. “Back then, I slept in that empty room up on the third floor.”
Perdy nodded. Grandpa Zeke told her before that had been his room.
“In the end, I was the only one who even saw one of them gremlins.”
She asked, “What did they look like, Grandpa?”
“I only saw them out of the corner of my eye. They hide in shadows. They don’t want us knowing they live in our houses.”
“What do they do?” Perdy’s eyes were wide.
Grandpa Zeke gave her a squeeze. “Seems to me, they only want our socks. They don’t cause no other harm.”
That evening when Perdy went up to her room to read before bedtime, she took one of the socks out of the basket… one that already wasn’t a pair. She placed it in the middle of her clean and clear floor. Then she picked up her book. She made sure that she could just see the sock out of the corner of her eye. Perdy read for almost an hour, but nothing happened. She looked at the sock lying in the middle of the floor one last time before she turned off the light.
When she woke up in the morning the sock was still there. She slipped out of bed and picked it up. It was one of her favorite striped socks. Where had the other one gone? She had only worn it last week. She dropped the sock in the basket and went down to breakfast.
The day had been filled with school, grocery shopping and homework. She had thought often to the missing socks, and as Perdy got ready for bed that night she wondered if the sock gremlin only took one of each sock. Maybe that is why the gremlin left the striped sock. It did make sense, why else would there be so many socks without matches. Perdy went to her sock drawer. She pulled out another of her favorites, a pair of fuzzy purple socks. She dropped one sock on the floor, and laid the other in the safety of the sock drawer. Then she sat on her bed and read.
When she was ready to sleep, the sock was still on the floor. Perdy was beginning to think that Grandpa Zeke had just been telling her stories, the sock gremlin wasn’t real. She almost picked up the sock and put it back into her drawer, but she didn’t. She left it on the floor.
She jumped out of bed and ran downstairs.
Breakfast was ready and waiting on the table. Perdy sat down next to Grandpa Zeke.
“Did you find those missing socks?” Mom asked. “I’m ready to do another load of laundry.”
Perdy looked at Grandpa Zeke and then at Mom. “No, Mom. They’re gone.”
“Really, Mom.” She looked at Grandpa Zeke. “The sock gremlin took them.”
He winked at her.
Mom sighed and shook her head. Then she turned towards the sink and started washing the dishes. “Just find your socks, Perdy.”
She knew Mom didn’t believe her. Perdy quickly finished her breakfast, then hurried up the stairs. She wondered if the sock she had left out last night would be there. At the top of the stairs Perdy looked towards her room. She couldn’t see it; the sock was gone.
As she stepped into her room Perdy realized it might not have been the sock gremlin who moved the sock. Maybe Mom had seen it and took it for the next load of laundry or put it away. She crawled over to her clothes hamper and looked inside. Nope. Still full, and no purple sock lying on top. Then she went and looked in the sock drawer.
Perdy almost smiled when she saw that there was just one purple sock laying there in the drawer. She ran down the stairs to tell Grandpa Zeke the news.
From that moment on the search of the house was the only thing she was interested in. Since the gremlin had mostly been taking her socks, Perdy started with the rooms closest to her own. She opened every closet, every cupboard, crawling inside any she could fit into. Perdy chased shadows and listened for sounds of footsteps.
Once she saw a shadow move near the dresser. She thought that if she was still and quiet surely the gremlin would move again. But it didn’t. So, Perdy crawled over to peer under the dresser. Nothing! She banged her fist on the floor. Where had the gremlin gone?
Eventually she moved up to the third floor. The rooms on this floor were rarely visited. Dust and cobwebs covered everything. Boxes of Christmas decorations filled one corner. Faded sheets were draped over furniture that hadn’t been used for years.
Perdy crawled into the closet, she slid a big box, labeled “baby clothes” out of the way. Behind the box, she found a little door. Perdy rubbed the cobwebs from her hands onto her jeans. She turned the latch and slowly opened the door. She had opened so many doors already, she expected to see an empty cupboard or even one filled with boxes. But there was only darkness. Perdy needed light. Obviously, she needed to go and find a flashlight. But if this is where the gremlin had hidden the socks, that would give it time to move them.
She couldn’t leave. The gremlin might be there hidden in the darkness. She kicked open the closet door hoping to bring in sunlight. Then she pushed the box as far out of the way as she could. Perdy looked through the doorway. About a foot inside, she saw a sock. She reached in and pulled out a fuzzy purple sock, the last sock that had been taken. She grinned and crawled through the doorway.
There was only darkness. She felt for the back wall. Then she was falling, no, sliding down into the dark. Perdy tried to grab something or slow herself down. Was this a laundry chute?
She slide off the edge and dropped, landing somewhere soft. It was too dark for her to see anything. Perdy breathed hard as she laid there and listened. Water ran through pipes. The floor creaked. The wind blew rattling the glass in the windows. None of these sounds gave her a clue as to where she might be.
Perdy sat up. Her head brushed against the boards above her. She reached up and touched the rough wood. Then she touched the ground where she landed. She felt the fabric; folds and creases. No, they were separate items. Her fingers closed around two of these items as she lifted them from the pile and held them to her chest. Socks! A huge pile of socks! She smiled. Perdy wished she could show this pile of socks to Grandpa Zeke. Would he recognize some of his own missing socks from when he was a child?
As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, Perdy could see that there were several paths leading away from the mound of socks. She wondered which way to go. She decided it didn’t really matter. She stuffed her pockets full of socks and held a bunch in each hand as she began to crawl down the passageway, ready to show her treasure to Grandpa Zeke. At a fork in the road, she went to the right. After a little way she came to a dead end. Perdy listened, hoping for some sign of where she was. Nothing. So she turned around to try the other path. It ended the same way, nowhere.
Back at the pile of socks, Perdy decided she needed a way to remember the paths she had tried. This place was a maze. The only thing she had was socks. So she left a sock to mark the passage way she had explored. On to the next one. Perdy dropped a sock every so often, just in case she wanted to find her way back to where she had started.
This path went on for a long time. She reached a dead end without finding anything or any other paths branching off. So Perdy crawled back to the sock pile, picking up the trail of socks as she went. Perdy left one sock in the entrance and moved on to the next path.
She continued doing this until she noticed light up ahead. Perdy stopped to listen. Footsteps. And humming? It had to be the gremlin. She hoped that there was no other path that it could escape down. Finally, it was time to see the sock gremlin, not just shadows. She left her pile of socks there and crawled forwards as silently as she could.
At the edge of the darkness, Perdy stopped and laid down flat on the ground. She waited. The sounds of footsteps and humming were just up ahead, and it was light in there. She knew that if the gremlin walked in front of her, she would be able to see it clearly.
Her heart was racing. She was so close. It was hard to be patient and still as she waited, but Perdy held tightly to the socks in her hands and stared down the passageway.
After a few moments he walked out into the light. Perdy saw the sock gremlin! Her eyes were wide as she tried to memorize everything about him. The gremlin was about eighteen inches tall. He had long white hair. His skin was pale and wrinkled. His clothing had been pieced together out of socks. His shirt was a blue sock with holes cut out for his arms. The gremlin’s pants were made from a black sock, that had been cut in half and stitched to form legs.
The sock gremlin turned around. He looked towards Perdy. She held her breath. She tried to be invisible in the shadows. But when he laughed, she knew the gremlin had seen her.
He ran down the passageway towards her. He slipped passed her before she had time to react. Then the gremlin stopped near her feet.
Perdy turned to see him. “Wait, don’t go,” she begged.
He was almost hidden in the darkness, not much more than a shadow. The gremlin grabbed hold of her sock and pulled it right off of her foot. Then he ran down the passageway.
Perdy turned around and followed him, but he was so fast that she couldn’t keep up with him. “Please, don’t go.” She couldn’t lose him now. She hurried down the passageway. When she reached the room with the pile of socks she heard him laughing. She sighed, glad that he was still there. Perdy asked, “Why do you take our socks?”
“She found her way here. She can’t have them. These are mine. I’ve been collecting them.” The gremlin ran down a passageway and disappeared into the darkness.
Then it was quiet. Perdy grabbed some more socks and followed him. Several paths led off in different directions. At each of these places Perdy stopped and listened. The third turn led to a round room. Perdy was beginning to wonder where in her house she was. She had started up on third floor. But she had fallen. Was she between one of the floors? So far she hadn’t found any sort of way out of here. She knew there had to be one. The sock gremlin came and went.
Perdy had not found any sign of the gremlin. So she decided to go back to the room that she had found him in. At least it had been light there. When she reached the end of the path, she half expected to see the sock gremlin, but he was not in the room. Perdy was curious about where the light was coming from. She peeked into the hole. There was a small round mirror reflecting light into this room. She bent low and saw another mirror up there, sending the light down to this mirror. She was glad there was light in here, the rest of the tunnels were so dark and empty.
Perdy leaned back against the wall as she looked around. Hanging on the walls were socks. Was the gremlin using them as decorations? Some of the socks had been there for a long while, they were handmade socks. There were two that had been her socks; one a Christmas sock with a reindeer whose nose actually lit up and the other was a striped sock that had only been missing since last week.
The gremlin said from the passageway, “The girl is here now. She can’t get out.” He walked into the room. “Why is she here?” He looked at her, his eyes narrowed.
Perdy asked, “Can you show me the way out?”
He grinned. “No. That’s what she gets for chasing after me.”
“Why do you take the socks?”
“They are mine. I want them.”
“But they aren’t yours.” Perdy moved closer to him. “You take them from us.”
He backed away. “Take? No, they are left all unguarded and alone. No one wants them, except me.”
Perdy held up her bare foot. “You took this sock.”
The gremlin completely ignored her. He sat down on the other side of the room and started to unravel yard from a sock. He already had quite a large ball of yarn.
Perdy sat and watched him for a while. She asked him several questions. But he continued to ignore her. As time passed Perdy wondered what she should do. She needed to find her way out of here. She did not want to leave the light and go back into the darkness. But it did not look as if the gremlin would be helping her.
She crawled through the passageway to the room with the pile of socks that she had landed on. Perdy felt the boards of the ceiling, looking for the hole that she had come through. It took several minutes but she did find the hole. She stood with her head inside as she felt for a handhold, some way that she might be able to climb up and out. But she found nothing. Eventually she just laid on the pile of socks. She didn’t know what to do. She wanted to cry. It was so dark in here that she might crawl right passed a door and never know it. After a while she heard the gremlin. He was walking towards her.
“What will she do?”
Perdy laid still and listened.
“She sleeps in our nest.”
Then a little while later, “That’s what she gets for snooping around.” He laughed.
Perdy sat up. “You could help me to leave.”
He moved close to her. “Why should I?”
Perdy thought about that for just a little bit. “They are going to be looking for me. They probably are already.”
He took a couple of steps away and sat against the wall. “Should I care?”
Perdy smiled. “If I make a lot of noise, they will hear me. Then they will find you and all of these socks.” She picked up a handful of socks and held them out to him. Perdy imagined where in the house she might be. She shoved the socks out of the way and started knocking on the floor.
The sock gremlin didn’t move.
So she put her fists on the boards above her and knocked.
Then he stood up.
Perdy stopped and looked at him, waiting for him to speak.
“If I lead you out, what’s to stop you from taking my socks?” he asked.
She held out a couple of socks to him. “I just want to go home.”
He seemed to be thinking about this for awhile.
She added, “And if you help me, I won’t be here sleeping in your nest.” She paused, “But I do want two of the socks you have down there.” She pointed down the passageway to the lighted room.
He started to shake his head.
Perdy said, “They belong to Grandpa Zeke.”
He said, “Grandpa Zeke, Grandpa Zeke. Oh.”
Perdy nodded. “You took them from him a very long while ago.” She crawled to the opening and said, “I will show you.”
“Why Grandpa Zeke?” The gremlin sat down on the ground and shook his head.
She looked at him and asked, “Or would you rather I stayed down here with you?”
He stared at her for a moment before he moaned. “Which?” The gremlin rubbed his head, “Oh, which?”
They went to the room in silence.
Perdy took the two old handmade socks off of the wall. The gremlin moved to stand in front of the reindeer sock.
She asked, “Do you like that one?”
“Like?” He said, “I like them all!”
Perdy nodded, “Yes, but you have had these for a very long time.”
“Both? Why both? No Grandpa Zeke.”
She asked, “How about just one?” She held the socks out to the gremlin.
He was quiet for a bit as he considered this. “You promise to go and leave me be?” he asked.
“I promise, if you help me.”
The gremlin snatched the blue sock from her hand and sighed. He turned, looked at the reindeer sock, and said, “This way.”
She followed him down one of the other passageways. He stopped and pulled at a couple of boards. Perdy looked down into the hole, then back at the gremlin. She asked, “Where does it lead?”
Perdy thought about it a bit, maybe he was trying to trick her. She tried to see what might be down there.
“Go. Go. Time to go.”
She nodded before jumping down; it wasn’t far to the ground.
The gremlin said, “Do not come looking for me. Do not forget your promise.”
“I won’t.” Perdy looked around. She found herself in a place not very different than she had just come from, under the floor. She was still and quiet for a little bit. She heard the washing machine. This must be the crawlspace off of the laundry room. The floor was dirt and she had to duck as she moved towards the sound of the washer.
There on the wall she found another little door. Perdy turned the knob and pushed open the door. She smiled when she saw the laundry room. She looked down at her feet. Both of which were dirty, one with a sock on, the other bare.
Perdy grinned. She was holding tightly to the two handmade socks, Grandpa Zeke’s socks. She ran upstairs to find him.
About the Author
About the Narrator
As well as narrating, Chloë has written many short stories and some poetry. Her latest publication, ‘A Treacherous Thing’ can be found in the Fox Spirit Books’ Anthology The Jackal Who Came in From the Cold. She’s currently working on several projects, one of which might just send her down the rabbit hole. You can contact her through her website www.chloeyates.com while she wanders through Twitter under the sobriquet @shloobee. English born, she currently lives in the middle of Switzerland.
About the Artist
Barry is a game developer based in Bournemouth, England making freemium games for clients such LEGO and the BBC. His latest game is breaking all records on iOS, not surprising with a title like L”. It’s for younger kids, but if you fancy blasting alien brains check out LEGO Hero Factory Brain Attack.
All this game developing has meant that Barry hasn’t been as active in the podcasting and fiction world as he used to be. He still does the occasional narration for other shows, such as The Drabblecast, and appears on Cast of Wonders from time to time.