The Washing Machine By: Benjamin Robke

Wind blew through Noah’s hair, causing him to laugh. That’s when he knew he was home.

“DAAAAD! I WANT MORE GOLDFISH!” shouted Ethan. Noah ran over to Ethan, goldfish in hand. He poured some more goldfish into Ethan’s bowl.

“Thanks Dad,” cheered Ethan. Noah smiled. He wouldn't trade this for anything. But he would definitely trade laundry duty for something else. Noah went into his small laundry room.

He took out all the laundry except for one straggler. A sock, not big enough to be Noah or his wife’s, but too big to be little three-year-old Ethan’s. He reached into the washing machine.

Suddenly, without warning, he wasn't in his single family home in the perfect little piece of land for a three person family in southern Illinois. He looked around. He was in a clearing. The grass below him was greener than he thought possible, and the forest around him darker than he would have liked it to be. He heard birds, all around him, although he could not see them. To his right, however, was a dark foreboding cave. Behind him, no more than a yard away, was a washing machine, and it was covered in soft moss, as if it had been there, untouched for hundreds of years. Where there was no moss, Noah could see rust. Noah smelled smoke and so he looked down to see where it was coming from. There was burnt grass leading from him all the way to the washing machine.

“Hello?!” Noah shouted frantically. Birds flew out of their trees, only Noah noticed something wrong, although he couldn't put his finger on it. They were mostly white, except for some gold lines and a splotch of gray. Noah remembered birdwatching with Ethan. Ethan had gone through the entire birdwatching book, so he could find his favorite bird. But this bird wasn't in that book.

Hello!?” returned another voice. Noah perked up. He ran towards where it was coming from, but not quite daring to go into the forest.

“Follow my voice!” He shouted.

“Okay!” A second later Noah heard a bush rustling, and then what seemed like a monster came out of the bush. Both Noah and the monster jumped back.

“What… what are you?” Noah questioned.

“I could ask the same… but my name is Sockina.”

“Sockina?”

“Answer me!”

“Noah. That's my name.” Silence ensued. What kind of a name is Sockina, thought Noah. Sockina finally came out of the bushes. Both Noah and Sockina were shocked at what they saw. Sockina was not human, but more so a giant, man-sized sock with limbs and a face. Sockina didn't even begin to understand what Noah was. And then it hit her.

“Quick!” She shouted, “Get into the cave!” She grabbed Noah by the hand and she ran into the cave.

The cave was damp, and it hurt to sit on the cold, rough stone floor.

“Wha….” Noah was speechless but he did manage to say, “W-Why?”

“You mean the cave?”

“Y-Y-Yes…”

“Well, because I know that you are probably the Chosen. Let me tell you all about us. We are called Sock-People. Hundreds of years ago, there was a story told of a brave, kind-hearted creature. He would come from an ancient machine. This creature would slay the dreaded Sock-Beast. The Sock-Beast is a horrible monster that terrorizes us. It has claimed dozens of lives. Here is how the story goes. ‘One day, a kind-hearted creature that looks nothing like us will come from another world through an ancient machine. It will defeat the terrible Sock-Beast, ending our suffering. He will say but one thing to us. The best way to defeat your enemy is to make them your friend. He will then depart, and we will not see him again, unless disaster strikes. Because it is then, and only then that he comes. He will come to save us one day. And then another and so on.’”.

Noah sat there speechless. Then, he was startled by a loud "ROAR!". He looked, and saw a dragon’s snout poking through the cave entrance. Only it had no scales. Instead, it was made out of socks. Okay, thought Noah, According to the story, I now have to defeat this giant dragon made completely of socks. Great.

The dragon flicked it’s snout up, causing the roof of the cave to fly off, and land somewhere in the forest. The dragon stepped back, and Noah could now see all of it. The dragon was a bright glowing gold, and he had deep black socks on, but his claws were sticking out of them. He had enormous wings, and a long spiked tail. Noah felt incredibly afraid, but even more so he was in awe.

The dragon let out a mighty roar, and hovered his foot over the washing machine, Noah’s only way home, as if he was a judge, deciding whether or not to sentence someone to life in prison. The dragon lowered its head, as if to challenge Noah.

“Miss Sockerson! Are you-” at least ten Sock-People, likely looking for Sockina came out of the forest, but froze at the sight of the Sock-Beast. Noah walked towards the dragon. He held out his hand, and gently placed it on the dragon’s snout. The dragon’s breathing slowed.

“The best way to defeat your enemy,” Noah muttered, “is to make them your friend.”

The Sock-Beast moved its foot, and lay down next to Noah. It gestured towards its back, and Noah climbed on. The dragon got up, and took Noah for a flight, leaving behind Sockina and the other Sock-People. Wind blew through Noah’s hair, causing him to laugh. That’s when he knew he was home. But he also knew he had to go back. Eventually.

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