Garden Feud

A heroic fairytale fantasy novella with a twist.

A garden gnome becomes dead set on reclaiming the lower garden from battle-hardened toads when his amphibian foes develop a taste for porcelain flesh.

*First Draft: I'm just looking for general reactions and thumbs up (or down!) at this point. Cheers!


1. One

There was something about the four leaf clover that gave him the warm and fuzzies. 

Jolly Stu traipsed across the overgrown lawn, standing on tiptoes to scan over the tops of the tall blades ahead. He had only ever seen three four-leafers in his short gnome lifespan, even when actively looking for them. The memories stood out in his mind as glowing beacons of hope. Proof that if you’re mad enough to comb through the grass for a tiny miracle, then eventually, you’ll be rewarded. 

Today, it was Freddy’s turn for a miracle.

It was a beautiful summers day. The sun smiled down directly above, making it hard to look at one another for fear of being blinded by each other's dazzling paintwork. The faint hum of busy insects was less audible near the middle garden, but carried down on the occasional breeze, along with the sweet smell of honeysuckle. A beautiful day. 

Of course, there was nothing to worry about. Not on a day like this. Today, they were safe as houses. 

Jolly shuffled his feet in the soft earth. Regardless, he was uncomfortable. Restless, even. He couldn’t seem to shake it, and he was sure he wasn’t the only one who felt it. He could hear two of the three guys behind him deep in conversation, mumbling to each other under their breaths. Their tone didn’t match the day. 

“Men, this could be our spot.”

Jolly smiled, spirits lifted by the eager gnome. “I think you could be right, Fred.” 

Freddy had been ten steps ahead of them all morning, off like a rocket from the get go. The boy had one single wish and Jolly saw himself as more than qualified for this particular quest. They had found no joy so far, but he was confident that if there was a four leaf clover to be found, they would find it. 

As they approached the edge of the garden Jolly Stu slowed to a standstill. They’d reached the garden’s boundaries. Marked by the tall fence that ran around the ground’s edges, it served as protection from the outside world — and a prison separating them from their sanity. 

It was in that moment that he placed his discomfort. 

“Keep looking, guys. Any one of us could be standing right next to —” Freddy’s voice disappeared in a stray gust of wind. 

Jolly watched him drop to his knees at the base of the prickly bush, then comb through the blades. The strange plant at the base of the fence was creeping up a little more every day. Twisting up and outward in a bid for freedom. 

“Right-o, Fred,” rumbled Neville from behind, brushing past Jolly to join the hunt. 

The pair behind him lingered, resuming their low conversation. Jolly squinted up at the sky. He glanced down the hill, scanning along the lower half of the garden. The sun was strong. But still… 

“Maybe we should move back up a bit,” he called, cupping his hands around his mouth. It had been a while since they'd ventured this close to the middle garden. 

Someone behind him tutted. “Maybe we should do something worthwhile, instead of suffering through this wild goose chase.” 

“Now, now, Larry. Manners, mate.” 

“I’ll give you manners, you little git.”

Without any warning, the bush exploded outward. Twig shards snapped and flew off in all directions as a large, web-footed beast burst out from inside. Throwing itself at the group in broad daylight. 

Freddy cried out up ahead, shielding his face. 

Neville gasped and stumbled backwards. 

Jolly screamed. 

The toad hit the ground with a thud, landing next to the cowering Freddy. It towered over him, a fleshy wall of muscle and grime. 

Jolly had seen many toads before in his short life. He’d seen it all before. But still, whenever he saw them, without fail he turned to stone. 

 With their swollen, slitted eyes bulging from their sockets and their tough, greasy skin, with row upon row of boil-like lumps running down their back and legs, they truly were a sight to behold. The scars that littered them like a messed up map did nothing to erase the lingering terror of a toad encounter. And those gaping mouths with their thick, angry red tongues seemed to go on forever. They were impossible to miss when they wanted to be seen, and impossible to forget. 

“Wait. Nonono. Guys, HELP — uh!”

The toad leapt high and landed, hard, forcing Freddy flat to the ground upon impact. 

Freddy screamed out. He screamed with all he had, thrashing his arms. Reaching out, grabbing at the air in front of him. Looking for his friends. 

Neville grabbed Jolly’s arm. “Shit! Whadda we do? Wha — whadda we do?”

Jolly was made of stone. 

The toad’s mouth opened wide. Then, it jabbed at the pinned gnome and, with nightmare-like bizarrity, Freddy’s head disappeared. 

Freddy continued to scream within its ginormous mouth. “Nevile, Jolly. Guuyuysuh!

“What do we do?”

Jolly couldn’t move. Couldn’t blink. Couldn’t think. Broad daylight. Freddy. 

A sickening crack rang out over the top of the thrashing gnome’s screams, cutting through the noise. 

Freddy stopped screaming. 

The world span. Or Jolly’s head span. Something span. He wanted to look away. 

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. 

Fragments of Freddy fell out of the sides of the toads mouth. He coated the grass. His smile, his rosy cheeks, his shiny red hat. Here, there and everywhere. Where a head had been only seconds ago, there was nothing. Grass and air. A jagged, gaping throat. 

“No!” Neville gasped somewhere to his left. 

Someone behind him was moaning. 

Crunch. Crunch. The beast’s eyes swivelled. It’s mouth inched open. 

An invisible hammer smacked Jolly in the gut. It was sizing them up. They had to move, now. “Men…”

The toad stared at them and grinned. Pieces of porcelain flesh coated its rancid mouth. 

“Men… men, run.” 

The toad lifted a meaty leg above the a remains of their dear friend. 

“Fred. No!”


With an aching soul, Jolly turned and bolted, grabbing Neville by the arm as he did. The gnomes behind him panicked and tripped over their feet as Jolly dragging Neville ran at them. Then, Jolly heard them pushing through the grass behind. 

“Jolly, no. Freddy…” 

Jolly Stu ignored his friend. He wished he could cry. And oh, this was bad. If the toads were moving in broad daylight, then there was nowhere left to hide. 

They truly were all screwed.

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