Eight-year-old Landon and his friend and teacher Buddy, the small Ambrosial Dragon, were in the center of his bedroom. After the boy’s recent adventures with Gremlins, Buddy had determined that evil forces from other dimensions might be able to gain access to their world through the Gremlin’s realm. Buddy said he and Landon had to do something about it.
Landon wasn’t convinced. The last time he had come face-to-face with a Gremlin, he had threatened to badly hurt the child if not kill him. Buddy didn’t think he was in all that much danger, but Landon was worried anyway.
He came prepared. Inside his backpack, he had his invisibility cloak and his magic glove. He also had the soul coin in his pants pocket, though he wasn’t sure what good it would do.
He always wore the magic amulet around his neck on a chain, the one that looked like a small, old fashioned railroad lantern.
The living stuffed animals were all watching awestruck from Landon’s bed. It was late at night and Grandpa, Dad, and Landon’s sister Dani were all asleep. With any luck at all, the dragon and the boy would be back before anyone missed them.
Landon felt like he could use all the luck he could get.
“Then let’s go.” The abruptly dragon spread his wings wide. There was a flash of deep purple light and the sound like static electricity when you get two towels out of the dryer and then pull them apart. A portal opened and Landon felt Buddy grab his right forearm and pull him through.
Then they were in the Gremlin realm and the portal closed behind them.
It wasn’t what the boy expected. It was like a little town in the country. Landon thought it would be all dark and shadowy like what the Gremlins looked like when they appeared in his world, but they all looked very friendly and peaceful. The sun was shining, all the buildings, houses, and cottages were quaint and cute, surrounded by flowers and well trimmed lawns. Butterflies were in the air as were blue birds. Somewhere he heard a puppy barking.
Gremlin children were playing catch with a ball in the middle of a dirt road. Others were playing with little Gremlin dollies. Old Grandpa Gremlins were sitting in rocking chairs on their front porches smoking pipes. Grandma Gremlins could be seen through kitchen windows putting pies in their ovens.
Then everyone turned to see the two newcomers.
No one particularly reacted to Buddy, as if a visit from a dragon was something that happened every day. But when everyone saw Landon, they stopped looking friendly and started looking mean. He heard a voice to his left say, “There’s the one who can see us in the human world,” as if it were the worst thing anyone could ever do.
Landon turned to see who had spoken and it was the same Gremlin he’d grabbed and pinned against the cinderblock wall the other day. “Uh…hi,” Landon stammered.
Buddy interjected, “Remember deal, remember deal. You need us. Be calm and chill out.”
The Gremlins thought about it a minute and then they all went back to what they’d been doing before the dragon and the human child arrived…all that is, except the one who had talked to Landon. He stared at them for a little while longer, until one of the older Gremlins got up from the porch, grabbed him by the arm and shook his head. Then the younger Gremlin moved off and Landon lost track of him.
“So Buddy, how do we find any breaches from the outside into the Gremlin realm?”
“Use Lantern, lantern see.”
“Okay, Buddy.” Landon pulled the amulet out of his shirt and once in the sunlight, it started to glow. The sky started getting darker, like the recent Solar Eclipse he had seen. The air got colder, too. Gremlins all went inside their little cottages to put on sweaters. The sun was still a bright spot in the dark blue sky, but there were other bright spots, too.
“Breaches?” Landon asked.
“Breaches,” the dragon replied.
“They’re all over the sky, Buddy. Are you going to fly up and seal them?”
“You do that, you do that. Use glove, use glove.”
“But I can’t fly, Bud…” Landon stopped in mid-word as Buddy gave him “the look.” It was the look the dragon gave the boy when the boy should know better about something.
“Oh yeah. Levitation spell.”
Buddy smiled and shook his head up and down vigorously.
The child took off his backpack and set it down in the middle of the dirt road that ran through the middle of the Gremlin neighborhood. He opened it up and found the glove, then put it on. The lantern around his neck was still glowing and once the glove was on his right hand, the palm gave off a reddish light.
Landon knew what to do. When he and Buddy and Yao Jin were in the old west, he’d used the glove to seal a rift in time, kind of like closing the top of a sandwich bag. He figured that’s what he had to do with the breaches, too.
“I’m ready, Buddy.”
“Then up, up, and away, Landon.”
Landon felt like Buddy was making some sort of joke, but he didn’t understand it.
The boy said the spell that would let him levitate and then he started to float up.
All of the Gremlins stopped what they were doing to watch. They were used to being the amazing ones in the human world, even though almost no one could see them, but now the human was being amazing in their world.
Landon headed for the nearest breach. He got closer and closer and extended his right hand. The glove’s palm was glowing bright red now and the fingertips vibrated. He grabbed onto the top edge of the breach and then willed his floating body down an inch at a time so he could squeeze it shut bit by bit.
He had to admit he was even impressed with himself. The boy remembered a time when he could barely get off the ground and had practically no control of which direction he went or how fast he traveled. Now he executed precision movements as he sealed the first breach. “One down, fourteen billion more to go,” he muttered to himself. This was going to take a really long time if he had to work alone.
As he sailed to the next nearest breach, he saw Buddy close to the horizon near where the forest began just finishing closing another breach. With the two of them working, it wouldn’t take as long, but he wished the Gremlins could help. Buddy said they didn’t have the right kind of magic for this work. To look at them living here in their town, it didn’t seem like they had any magic at all.
He finished with sealing the next breach while thinking there couldn’t be more than a couple of hundred Gremlins living in that town total, including the really old and young ones. How could they go all over the world everyday causing mischief, and for that matter, why would they? The Gremlins seemed really peaceful and quiet when they were home.
It was slow and steady work, but one-by-one, each breach was closed. In the end there would be only one doorway in and out, the one to and from the human world.
Buddy was still far away working on one of the last breaches. In fact, there was only one more beside it, and it was at the edge of “Gremlin Town” as Landon started calling it. A bunch of little Gremlin children were playing games like jump rope and hopscotch near it as the breach hovered only a foot or so off the ground.
Landon soared down toward it and the children. They looked at him floating toward them. Some waved and smiled. Others jumped up and down and giggled. He guessed the little ones didn’t care that he could see the bigger ones in the human world.
It was like some monster movie where one second everything is peaceful and the next, a monster pops out of nowhere and gets someone. That’s exactly what happened.
Landon was about to land in front of the last breach when a horrible, scaly hand reached out, dripping water and seaweed, and grabbed a Gremlin little girl. She screamed as loud as she could, “Mommy! Daddy! Help me!”
Mommy and Daddy Gremlin were too far away to help in time but Landon was right there. He grabbed the extended fish-man arm with his gloved hand causing it to burn and smoke. He heard a horrible growl from the other side of the breach and then the other webbed hand reached through and swatted Landon against the side of his head.
The boy was momentarily dazed but could see clearly enough to realize the…the whatever it was hadn’t let go of the Gremlin girl’s arm. The other Gremlin children ran away as fast as they could and the Gremlin adults were running toward them carrying rakes, and hoes, and shovels, probably to fight the monster with, but they would be too late.
The monster was pulling the girl through the breach. Why now? The breaches were always there. Why grab a kid now?
Because of Landon and his lantern. That monster and probably all the others in all the universes, didn’t see the breaches, but when Landon used the lantern, the light must have shown through, making them just as visible on the other side as they were here.
The girl was going, going, gone, leaving one of her shoes behind.
“No you don’t, monster.” Landon flew in fast after them.
He was in a dark, stinking swamp, like something out of a scary movie or nightmare. The monster, he really did look like a man and a fish at the same time, was carrying the little Gremlin girl in his arms. The girl had passed out because she was so scared. The man-fish was about waist-deep in the water, but if he went under, the girl would drown. He must have been a really mean monster to want to do that.
Landon had gone through the breach with his right hand still extended, his palm still glowing. His backpack was back in Gremlin Town, so all he had was the glove and the amulet. Where was Buddy? Had he seen what was happening?
The monster pulled back, stepping a few steps toward the shore as Landon approached. The boy could see the burn mark in the creature’s fish-scaled arm.
“Let her go or I’ll burn you again,” Landon threatened as he flew a few inches closer, forcing the monster even nearer the sandy beach.
“Rarrr!” the monster roared, suddenly lunging at Landon, letting go of the girl with just one arm so he could claw at him.
It was Landon’s turn to float back rather than have the five claws, each razor sharp and an inch long, rip off his face.
The boy had tucked his hand back so he wouldn’t get hurt but now reached out again. Something happened. The palm was glowing but something took shape in his right hand. It was a sword. It came out of nowhere but it was no ordinary sword. It glowed orange and red hot and when the creature saw it, he was terrified. It surprised him so much, he dropped the girl and ran. That was a tactical mistake, since he was very slow on land and probably much faster in water.
However the girl fell into the swamp water and with his right hand still pointing the fiery sword at the retreating monster, Landon landed in the water, which came up almost to his neck, and grabbed the Gremlin girl with his left arm. He floated up again, looking over his shoulder to make sure the breach was still there, then headed toward it.
The creature disappeared into the jungle and the sword vanished as well, letting Landon grab the girl with both arms. In a flash, he was back through the breach but something funny had happened.
Even though he and the girl had been gone for a few minutes, it was like no time had passed at all in Gremlin Town. The grown-up Gremlins were still the same distance from the breach and running toward them. He saw Buddy was flying and about halfway between him and the forest where he’d been working. Landon put the soaking wet girl down on the grass and then used his glove to seal the last breach before anything else could come through.
Landon was done by the time Buddy landed at his side and the Gremlins arrived to take care of the girl. She was just waking up and then she grabbed her Gremlin Mom and Dad and cried in their arms because she had been so scared.
After the girl calmed down a bit, her Mom held her while the Gremlin Dad stood up and walked toward Landon. The Gremlin extended his right arm and opened his hand. “Thanks for saving my little girl.”
Landon removed his glove, took the Gremlin’s hand and they shook. “You’re welcome,” he said.
Buddy was jumping up and down, “Happy ending, happy ending.” Then all of the Gremlin folk gathered around and cheered, saying nothing but good things about Landon and how he was their hero. Even the Gremlin who didn’t like Landon and who had threatened him seemed to really be friendly now.
The whole town invited them to a celebration dinner, but Buddy said they had to take a rain check since it was really late in the human world and Landon had to get to bed.
Landon’s clothes had dried by this time and the girl he’d rescued had changed to a fresh dress. She ran up to Landon and hugged him, then whispered, “Thanks for saving me, Landon.” She gave him a little Gremlin kiss on his cheek.
“You’re welcome.” He realized he didn’t even know her name.
“Time go, time go. We be back. Farewell, farewell.”
Both Buddy and Landon waved good-bye and then the portal opened and the duo were back in the boy’s bedroom.
It was dark and the living stuffed animals were all asleep. Landon changed out of his dirty clothes and got into his pajamas. He’d have to take a shower tomorrow to get all of the swamp water off of him, but he was so tired right then, all he wanted to do was go to sleep. He was lucky that he and Buddy had been right by Landon’s backpack when they went through the portal. The boy saw it at the last second and grabbed it before going back through.
He put the clothes in the dirty laundry hamper and then went to bed.
The next morning after his shower, as Landon was getting dressed, he asked about the Gremlins.
“No, that’s all there is, all there is.”
“Then how can they be all over the world every day?”
“Can’t. Can’t. Pick a different place every few days.”
“So it was just a big coincidence I happened to see them here.”
“Maybe, maybe. Who knows?”
“Landon pulled his t-shirt over his head and then asked, “They seemed so peaceful in their town. Why do they seem so mean here?”
“Gremlins eat food like you eat food but need magic food, too. Playing pranks like weaving spells, gain magic energy from each prank.”
“That seems like a silly way to get magical energy.” Landon finished putting on his socks.
The dragon leaned close and whispered, “Under a curse. Gremlins under a curse. Have been forever, forever.”
“Who did this? Can we help them?”
The dragon seemed thoughtful. “Hmmm. Maybe.”
There was a knock on his door and then Grandpa opened it. “Better hurry and eat breakfast. Almost time to leave for school.”
Before the older man could close the door again, Dani, Landon’s little sister burst in running her little toddler run. “Brother!” she exclaimed and then rammed into his body to hug him. He hugged her back. “I love you too, Dani. I’ve got to have breakfast now.”
“Breafast,” she mispronounced. Then she ran back out of the room to the kitchen to look for her’s.
Buddy patted Landon on the shoulder. “School now, mystery later, later.”
“Don’t you mean breakfast now?”
Buddy realized he hadn’t eaten yet and he almost always thought with his stomach.
“Breakfast?” He grinned with a mouthful of hundreds of razor sharp teeth. “Race you to it,” and the dragon was gone and around the corner before the boy could blink.
“Breakfast now, mystery later,” the boy whispered to himself as he walked to the kitchen. Would it be possible to break a curse that was made before there were even any people, and could one dragon and one boy do it? Maybe that was going to be their next adventure.
Before that though, he had to figure out what happened to his little sister.
Inside his dresser drawer where Landon had put soul coin before going to bed, the disc began to stir. Neither Landon nor Buddy had noticed that while they were in the other dimension, something had slipped inside the coin when they weren’t looking, and now it was here in the human world.
This story is an immediate sequel to The Gremlins Will Get You If You Don’t Watch Out but as you can see, the Gremlins were far less threatening than we imagined, particularly on their own home ground. Now we still have three mysteries to solve. The first is how Landon’s little sister, only a little over two years old, can see invisible people. Then there’s the curse on the Gremlins, who cursed them and how or if it can be lifted. Finally, what’s going on inside the soul coin?
Welcome to the latest entry in the series of adventures I’ve been writing for my grandson for over a year now. To read the series from the beginning, go to The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us. At the bottom of that story is a link to the next. Each subsequent story has a link to the next chapter, so all you have to do is keep reading and clicking and you’ll eventually get back here.
The next story is The Last Night at Freddy’s.