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A Tale Of Two Socks

I wrote this as a companion story to The Story of a Sock: How I Lost The War, and it was shortlisted in a competition. This story let me delve a little deeper into "sock culture".

Story and characters © 2003

There was always something that set the two of us apart from the other socklings. You couldn't quite put your finger on it, but it was there. It wasn't so much that we were different, but more that we were special. That was understandable. We were the only twin socks in the whole colony. I mean, other socks pair off, of course, but how many twin socks do you see in a lifetime? We were identical twins, Scott and I. And that was the difference. Of course, we went to the colony Sockschool, and learnt the three S's (Sockish, Sockology and Sockatoa), same as everyone else, but there was always that, which separated us from the others. So it was only natural that we were sold together, as a pair.

Albus was the White Mage, the Keeper of the Stone of Light Colours, and he was pleased with himself. Very pleased, in fact. He'd just bought a perfect pair of socks for delayed messaging. He wished that someone would invent computers for instant messaging, but if you were going to send messages at the moment, socks were the in thing. There were good reasons for that, too. Socks had remarkable memories, and they could fit lots of objects into them. The only thing you had to do to a sock was give it a pair of wings and a voice.

Two socks were even better than one.

We quickly became his favourite messengers. He'd been using a lot of odd socks, but we were perfect for his cause. He got to know us quite well. Nigel always said he was warming up for something. Nigel was right, as usual. I learnt to trust Nigel's feelings. He was just a little younger than I was, but he was a good sock.

When the War of the Colours started, we were the only socks he took along.

Being the White Mage, Albus knew that the War of the Colours had started, the moment it was declared. After all, he was the Keeper. It had been inevitable, with a name like Albus. The Keeper was always the White, and that meant Albus. Literally. Alright, so his last name was White. He could put up with that, by itself. White was a good name. He could even put up with Albus. But Albus White? It wasn't as though he was an albino or something, either. His parents had a penchant for bad jokes. That had come through when they named him. (His sister hadn't had it any better. Her name was Snow.)

We were white socks.

He could feel the war in his bones. He would have to go, of course. It was the Keeper's duty. He counted out the things he would need.
"1. Staff.
2. Hat."
The hat wasn't all that important. Not for mages, anyway, only for wizards. But Albus liked his hat. It was a good hat.
"3. Spellbook."
He wouldn't need that, either, but he didn't want to risk anything.
"4. Underwear."
His mother had always told him to have a change of underwear ready, just in case. Thinking of his mother made him think of something else.
"5. Tissues."
Actually, his mother had never said tissues. She'd said to take a handkerchief. But handkerchiefs were definitely out. No one used handkerchiefs any more, except old, doddering people. (And his mum, of course. Actually, his mum was an old, doddering person.) He stuffed a backpack full of tissues and pushed the soft papery squares into his pockets and socks.
"6. Socks."
That was the last thing. He didn't need to think about which socks he was going to bring. He'd take Nigel and Scott, of course. (And a clean pair to change into.)

It was a while before we really figured out exactly what was going on. By then we'd been flapping around the battlefield for a while. We'd sussed out our position, their position and the best places to be. Flying back to him, we gave him our report. He asked us to take us to one of the places, as we'd known he would. So we did.

Albus liked being in the best places for action. It gave him a chance to use his spells. Big spells. He liked using spells. Other wizards preferred administrative work, or working as journalists for Monthly Mage-azine, or making love potions on demand, but not Albus. He liked to be in the thick of the battle, giving as good as it got. There was good money in it, too: two thousand gold coins for every enemy disabled. (Alright, that wasn't really worth much, except to a dragon, since gold was only worth about 10 cents an ounce, and the gold coins were the size of…very small things. But Albus liked to have the outer appearance of wealth.) Money could buy more spellbooks, and Albus could learn new spells. Bigger spells.

We'd figured out the best place for a mage to stand and cast his spells. It was right in the middle of the battlefield, raised slightly, a perfect place if you had a shield-spell to protect you from all the fighting going on around. He definitely had a shield-spell.

A lot of shield-spells.

There was only one problem…

Albus stood at the edge of the river and wiggled his toes nervously. He couldn't swim, and the water was too deep to wade through. He couldn't work a spell to get him over, either. Everyone knew that magic wouldn't work in moving water. There was no time to build a boat.

Albus stood. Albus thought. Albus realised…

We were flying over his head, waiting for him to cross. He had stopped, and we didn't know why. Then we realised. He couldn't.

We had a solution, though.

Nigel and Scott flapped around Albus' head. It was the perfect solution. He could put them on and fly over the river! It was one of the hidden advantages of having two socks: you didn't go lopsided when you flew in them (which wasn't very often anyway). He called them down.
"Hey, Nigel, Scott, come here so I can put you on!"

As usual, Albus was on our wavelength. It was useful - we didn't have to tell him things.

So, he put us on -

And we flew him across the river -

Suddenly, the socks stopped. Carried by momentum, Albus kept going, and promptly fell flat on his face. Throwing out his hands to stop his fall, he felt a small object drop into them. Holding it up, he looked at it, and with the same hand reflexively grabbed something out of his pocket.

A white light filled the area, and suddenly birds began to sing. The light came from his hands. As the light died away, Albus looked at the object in his hands.

The Stones of Light and Dark Colours had fused to become one. Albus was holding the Stone of Many Colours. The Mages of the Light Colours had won.

We were happy. We'd won.

He wasn't so happy. He hadn't been able to destroy any enemies and pick up the gold.

But he was fine once he realised he was going to get a bonus for catching the Stone.

So, as they say, all's well that ends well.

But we're still his favourite socks!