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The Story of a Sock

How I Lost The War

I wrote this story when I was 12, but I still consider it one of my better ones. This was my first comic-fantasy-type story and my first sock story, and after it won a high commendation in the first short-story competition I'd ever entered it became my first published story as well. When I showed it to people, they wanted more socks, so I wrote its companion story, A Tale Of Two Socks, the next year.

Story and characters © 2002

I grew up like any other sock, crumpled up under the bed, with all the dust lying around. We learnt how to stop sneezing early. We needed to. I went to Sockschool with all the other young socks, and learnt my Sockish, Sockology and Sockatoa (in Mathematicsock). I never really doubted that I'd do what all the others did, grow up, be sold, be worn, get smelly, get washed. I was different, though, back in those days. The other socklings acted exactly the same as each other. They followed the 'cool' things, just to be popular. I never liked that kind of stuff. I wanted to be individual, and I was always ridiculed for it. Still, if I hadn't been that way, I guess I would never have been what I am.

Caddus the Maroon, newly the 108th of the Mages of the Dark Colours, picked up a sock from the pile on the table. Maroon, he thought. Of all the dark colours, maroon! It hadn't been his fault that the only colour left for him to be initiated into was maroon. At least it hadn't been something weird, like darkslateblue.

He turned to go.

"You want that?" snapped a salesgirl. Caddus looked down at his hand, surprised. He vaguely remembered being drawn to the sock he was holding. It was maroon, too. Fancy that! He paid for the sock in a slight daze and exited the shop.

I always knew I was a lucky sock. Things just seemed to happen around me, good things. I was never popular, but socks liked to be around me, to cash in on the 'occurrences'. I suppose they were drawn to me. My problem was, I couldn't talk. I mean, we could all speak basic Sockish, but I wanted to speak to humans. I would have done almost anything to learn how to speak Human. I guess my want was so strong that he was drawn to me, because he could teach me. Also, like I said, I was lucky.

Caddus had been looking for a sock. He needed a messenger, and socks made good messengers. The War of the Colours was coming up, it had been in his prehistory textbook. (The book had always been a bit hazy as to which side had actually won the war.) Prehistory wasn't the best name for the subject, but mages didn't seem to be good at making up names. It was more like a kind of 'definite fortunetelling'. The Mages of the Dark Colours would face the Light Colours and Caddus needed to send messengers to the other Darks, especially his brother Caddick.

Socks have always made good messengers. Give a sock a pair of wings and a speaking-spell and you're off. That's what happened to me. My dream came true. The speaking-spell let me speak Human and I even got to fly! I always thought he was on the wrong side, though, and maybe that's why I did what I did.

Socks were good messengers because they had excellent memories for spoken messages, and you could stuff them with items that needed to be moved from one place to another. The average sock was pretty reliable, too. The only thing was, if you put stuff in them, they had to keep their mouths shut, or the objects in the top would fall out. And socks on opposite sides shouted insults at each other. Still, they were a lot better than carrier pigeons. For one thing, if they were shot, they kept going. No, mages liked to stick with the good old, tried-and-true sock. Colour mages tended to choose socks in their colours. It made it easier to tell them apart.

A sock flew into the window of Caddus' residence. Caddus grabbed the sock and looked at the colour. It was brown.
" What does Caddick want?" he asked the sock.
" War of Colours commenced. Keep stone safe," squeaked the sock. It burped. Caddus adeptly caught the stone swirling with dark colours which flew out of its mouth. He stared at it, awed. It was the Dark Colours' most precious thing, the Stone of Dark Colours, and he'd always been a bit jealous of his brother, its Keeper. Well, now he had it, and he had to protect it. He picked up his tall, pointy hat and started preparing to fight.

When I saw him readying for battle, I knew at once what was happening. The Darks were fighting the Lights. My owner was a Dark, but for some reason, I wanted the Lights to win. I suppose my subconscious was telling me that the Lights were good and the Darks evil, but I didn't know any of that then. I just wanted the Lights to triumph over the Darks.

It had been a long day, out on the battlefield, and Caddus was tired. He wanted to go to sleep, but he couldn't protect the Stone at the same time. He had to keep it away from the Lights, or the Stone of Light Colours would meet the Dark Stone. No one quite knew what would happen then, but one thing was for sure: the Lights would win. He would just have to send the Stone back to his brother.

I was even more exhausted than he was, having run messages all day. He called me, stuffed the stone into me and told me to take it to Caddick. I flew off, slowly. Arrows whizzed past on either side, but I dodged them, knowing what I was carrying. Other socks flew past, but I ignored them. Ignored, that is, until one shouted an insult at me. I stopped thinking and opened my mouth to shout back…

High above him, Caddus' sock opened its mouth. A small, dark object fell out and spiralled slowly down…

…right into the hands of the White Mage.

Suddenly, a pure white light filled the valley. Birds twittered and the sun shone. The Mages of the Light Colours had won.
The average sock was pretty reliable.
" Damn!" said Caddus.

After I dropped it, I quickly made my getaway. He never saw me again. I found a dusty bed to live under. That's where I am now, writing the story of Leviticus Fliegen, a maroon sock.