Funny Little Men

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GSC welcomes submissions of all kinds, including fiction. We’d like to thank Phil for this great short story.

I started getting haunted a few nights after I moved out of my house. Thank god, I was just starting to hate being alone. Once I got the neon set up in my room, once I got my dual-monitored computer to run games at frame rates that gave me the eyes of a twitchy addict on a coke high, once the walls were covered with collages of anime characters, they started coming.

Out of my phone’s USB socket came a hoard of a funny little men. Their bodies gathered on the carpet like chips out of a spilled bag. They saw me and their eyes bugged out and super-sized like they do in cartoons, with their jaws all hitting the floor in a single thud sounding like a soft kick on a bass drum. The funny little men were star-struck – enchanted, even – just at the sight of me.

“Wow, she’s so hot,” said one

“What I wouldn’t do for one night alone with her.”
“Not even for sex. I just want to be with her.”

“She’s amazing.”

“Cute! CUTE!”

This feeling of infatuation they all had for me never tapered off. They felt that way no matter what I did. I would ignore them and play video games on my computer and I could hear them all whisper about how “based” it was that I played games, just like them, or enjoyed the same shows that they did. Whenever I came back to my apartment, I got showered in praise so tangible I might as well have brought my shampoo and loofah. Individuals would try to work themselves tired in their adoration, just to be sure they paid more attention to me than their friends.

I could only pretend I didn’t notice this whole thing for so long, but once they somehow found a way to get lighting in the fort they made out of my dirty clothes, I had to call in an expert, or at least someone who considered themselves one.

I found myself at an electronics retailer, explaining everything that happened to a shaggy red haired pale college boy with hard acne scars around his chin. The job required that he wear a pocket protector to look more traditionally nerdy as opposed to the heavily painted anime shirts, droopy jeans and running shoes that he would have worn any other day.

He tried maintaining eye contact as best he could as I talked about the mythical beings that were coming out of my phone’s USB port. I ended my rant by asking if I should be worried about the speakers or the headphone jack.

“Well, not really,” the certified member of the stores Nerd Herd said. “What you have is kind of a weird phenomena. We’ve seen it a couple of times but only with women for, well, you know the reason.”

I didn’t know the reason, but I didn’t want to hear whatever he thought it was.

He scratched a white-cap zit on his jaw as he continued. “It’s called Supernatural Idiopathic Male Projections.” He stopped talking like giving the situation a name suddenly fixed it. “And, uh, yeah.”

“So, do you have any idea why I might be getting this issue?”

“Uh I mean, do you play any video games or watch anime?”

Frustrated, I responded, “Yeah. I cosplay. I literally played against you at that tournament at Bay City Comic Con.”

“Oh, shoot yeah, you were the really hot ninja looking girl from that JRPG.” He couldn’t even get the name right, that fake geek.

“So like, these ‘things’ come to girls like you in particular every now and then. You’re either going to have to learn to like it or just find a new hobby, I guess.” I kept my stare going. “I mean, if you wanna get away from them and maybe talk about it, I get off at like 7:30 and maybe you and I could go, to, a, bar?”

Shaking my head, I flatly stated. “I’m leaving.”
As I walked out he shouted, “Please don’t tank my survey!”

When I got home I saw something I didn’t think I would until I was at least 40, a box of that instant squid ink flavored ramen that I had in Japan during my graduation trip. “How did this get here?”

“We bought it,” quipped one of the little men as he leaned up against my cat’s leg. “With money.” I think my cat just thought they were all really well made action figures, nothing worth sniffing or scratching.

“With what money?”

“With our money,” said another, not looking up from the sketch he was making of me. “You posted one time about how much you liked it. How it tasted perfect after a night of karaoke where you missed the last train home, like it melted your frustration. We thought you’d like it, so we got it.”

As I slurped away, with the little men keeping my face clean, my floor clean, and even disposing of the cup when I finished, I started realizing, this must be how a goddess feels, doused in love and gratitude, but unsure just how to reciprocate.

I decided to feel less like an aloof deity to them and more like an idol. I would perform. It didn’t take much to make my adoring little men go ballistic. Sometimes it all it took was wearing my makeup and a cute outfit, and shooting a little leer. They’d commit that look to memory and just lie in stasis as I continued watching cosplay tutorial videos.

These funny little men brought out the child in me just at the point in my life where I thought I had it buried. Soon I was playing dress up again in front of them, schoolgirl outfits with cotton candy wigs flopping around as I grooved through dance routines that I either saw online, or made up in my head. It was all fun on its own for the time, just a nice way to feel loved and appreciated by a loyal swarm of elvish beings before I went to bed. I would wake up and go to work that next day, then come home ready to entertain them again. At least, I had thought, before I woke up and saw three gold bars sitting on my night stand.

“Where did these comes from?”

“We made them! We made them for you!”

“Made them out of what?”

“The air! Sell them!”

“Sell them!”

“You work for money, right? Sell these for money! Never work! Stay with us!”

I didn’t know quite what to do until I looked up just how much those bars sold for. From that point I was committed. I danced every day, with a face so caked I could have been served at a wedding. For the first time since the funny little men emerged I took time before bed to respond to some of their prayers. Every night one would stun me, a different funny little man, with his own ambitions and goals in life. One wanted to be the fastest of his tribe. Another wished to find a funny little woman to stroke his hair and tell him it would be all right. And one more simply wanted to be big, like fuckin’ huge. Each one though simply wanted the same thing out of me, the assurance that I heard their dreams, that I would know of the purpose they carved for themselves. One even told me just seeing me in any form, with or without the cute clothes and the makeup, was enough to keep him going until the next day.

I wanted to give them more, so I showed them it all. I hid nothing of myself from them. They would call me erudite the moment they saw me crack open a book, and listened to me like attentive students when I would tell them a story’s meaning. They would even hang on my words as I dusted off old theory books, doing my best to make sense of Hegel in my own words. All this happened in between sessions of showing them my nude body. I’d have them all frozen, struggling to even get out a monosyllabic compliment, before going back to reading, where they’d whisper among themselves about how much depth I had.

After they would tuck me into bed, I would hear the funny little men stirring, working on the next gold bar they would pull out of the air.

But just as things became routine, just as I was ready to resign this to being my actual full time life, rather than just a month long lapse of reason, they began to resent each other. “We used to be proud little men. She just thinks we’re funny. She doesn’t care about us!”

My cat was getting too bothered by all the tension, and took refuge on the blades of the ceiling fan.

And so the proud ones would fight the funny little men, of course, not physically, because in the end, they were all little. So they used really hurtful words. I woke up one day and counted less funny little men than I usually did. It started to hurt me, the thought that I stood at the center of all this pain, all this hate, that somehow I caused it. Suddenly I wasn’t dancing so well, and I think they could tell my heart wasn’t in those looks I shot their way.

The proud ones did their best to blame me for the deaths. Sometimes I really believed them.

In the end, the best scenario occurred. I woke up one day and the funny little men left, all of them, no parting song, or a note telling me to go fuck myself, just absent like an empty desk on a school day, that deep down you knew would never get filled again. My time with them had come and gone.

It took time to see dancing, dressing up, reading, gaming, and looking cute as just a fun diversion again, not as my duty as the idol of my loyal subjects. I had to appreciate things for things for the joy they gave me again. Still, my passions remained my passions, even without the seasoning of being appreciated simply for having them. I remembered why I loved what I loved, to a point that once I heard about the next girl to get haunted by the funny little men, I had no envy.

They were fun.

But God, did they have some fucking issues.

Thanks to Chester Wade and Upsplash for the header image.

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