A small sad dwarf found an abandoned home. What will he find inside?
The small dwarf entered the house. Creaking, the door swung shut behind him. It was dark inside, but his eyes were slowly adjusting. He thought he saw a small, bouncing ball of light, floating just outside his reach.
Floorboards creaked as he explored the house. It wasn’t very impressive. Just a single room with a pair of beds in one corner, a fireplace with a rusting cookpot, and a table in another corner. The dwarf looked at an old shelf against the wall. Strange, brown lumps were stacked side by side. He assumed they used to be books.
Everything about the house was brown and dirt-covered. Dust was kicked up into the air as he walked around. He reached the table, pulling out its one chair. It was a chair for a much taller person. A man, perhaps.
Climbing up into the chair, he looked over the table. Under the layer of dirt, he found papers and open books. It was all too faded to read. A lump of dirt turned out to be a dried inkwell. Beside it, there was a stick. He figured it used to be a quill.
Picking up a strange rectangle, the dwarf blew. A cloud of dust wafted away. He coughed, almost dropping the rectangle. He wiped away a thick layer of dirt on the thing. It was a picture frame. The dwarf angled the picture so he could see it in the light.
He saw two people, a man and a woman. The man was older by far. He had a thick, red beard and long hair. His eyes were intense. The dwarf imagined he was some kind of pirate… or maybe a wizard. The image of the woman beside him was too faded to make out her face. But the dwarf saw a hallo of yellow hair.
The dwarf set down the picture and tried to get down from the chair. It slipped under him and he crashed against the floor. Groaning, he held his head as the room rocked around him. As his vision cleared, he saw something wedged beneath the bookshelf.
Carefully, he got up and walked over. Bending down, he reached under and pried the object free. It looked like a jar, the kind he remembered held mashed up fruits. His favorite was cranberry. Something was inside of it. The dwarf struggled with the metal lid. It seemed to be sealed tight. Walking back to the table, he smacked the side of the bottle, cracking the top off.
A roll of paper fell from the jar. He snatched it up and opened it. It was a letter, addressed to no one in particular. The dwarf held it up in the bobbing, moving light so he could read it.
“To whoever might find this letter. I have gone in search of my daughter. It has been too many days since I’ve heard from her and I fear the worst. The world is changing. From everything I can see, it won’t be long before the end comes.
“I know the ones responsible, but I must hold my peace. My only desire is to see Amelie again. Her mother has been lost already. I will not lose her again.
“This is asking much, but if you find this letter, please heed my request. I leave my home South, into the valley. I don’t know what I will find. But if you carry a sense of kindness and charity, you will come after me.
“Not much of this world may be left when this is all over. But I will not resign my fate and wait to die.”
There was no name attached to the letter. But the dwarf assumed it was the man from the picture. He wondered if the yellow-haired woman was his daughter, whom he called Amelie.
The dwarf looked over the letter. There was nothing accompanying the message. No dates, not even drawings. He had no idea how long ago it was written. He couldn’t remember a time before the end. Before he found himself sitting on that stump.
The letter writer might be long dead. He and his daughter could have been lost, just like everyone else. They might be part of the army of smoke, floating away into the nothing.
But something made him believe they were still out there.
The small dwarf looked over the house, the sad, brown room. There was nothing left. No reason to stick around. Outside the ground might still be rumbling. At any moment, another crack might open and swallow the house whole.
He decided he would not stay. He decided he would go South into the valley. Whatever that was.
Of course, he would give the house a look over, one last time. Wouldn’t you?
Tucking the letter into his coat, he walked over to the bookshelf. Before he laid a hand on it, it came crashing down. The wood splintered into pieces. Sheepishly, he looked around. Then realized no one was there to see what happened.
Behind the bookshelf, there was a doorway. Another room that had been hidden. Inside there was a box. A small box, sitting on a pedestal. The dwarf worried there was a lock, but, luckily it just popped open. Waving away a cloud of dust, he looked inside.
There was a small pair of binoculars. They were made of black and gold metal. Gingerly, the dwarf lifted them up. At first, he had no idea what they were. Then he remembered. People use these to see things far away. He wondered why the man hadn’t taken them with him. But they were just his size.
The dwarf put them in a pocket.
Underneath the binoculars, there was a cushion. He removed it to find something else. It was a tiny marble. A smooth, round glass stone. The dwarf picked up it between his thumb and forefinger. What could this be for?
He put it in another pocket and respectfully closed the box. The room started to rumble. The back wall slowly rolled away. He was looking at the outside.
The land rose up from the black, burnt earth to a ridge of land. At the top, he thought he saw grass.
Checking his things one last time: the letter, the binoculars, the marble, and his flower, the dwarf left the house and climbed the ridge.
To be continued…