The Magical Cave II: The Land of Bargains

An hour passed by. Two hours passed by. Still there was no sign of the boys. Navneeta was feeling scared. Ramya was blazing in fury. “One can never trust boys! Always irresponsible! They must have totally forgotten about us.” Navneeta was praying they were safe. Then suddenly they heard footsteps. Was it the boys? But, no! The sound was coming from behind them and there were definitely more than two pairs of footsteps. She felt a shiver down her spine. Her parents had warned her of dangerous elements who lurked in such solitary places waiting to prey on innocents venturing into their lair. The risk was all the more for girls. She stood frozen to the spot.

Who is there?” Ramya shouted out. She was a gutsy one. Navneeta wished she could be like her friend.

There was no reply but they did not wait for long to see the owner of the footsteps. Some figures could be seen approaching in the dim light of the torch. There looked like small children by their heights. But their gait was not the playful stumbling gait of children but the more steady solemn one of adults. As they came nearer, she noticed their worn out faces with long beards.

Hail thee, yon fair maiden. What bringeth thee to our humble abode?” Navneeta looked at the speaker. A pair of kind, intelligent eyes stared out of his Pince-Nez.

Our friends have gone through that cloud over there. We are waiting for them to return.

Come on with us, dearies. We will take you to your friends. We are anyways going in there. The more the merrier. Ho Ho Ho!” This was a fellow who looked like a miniature version of Santa Claus.

How many times have I told you not to talk to strangers, Happy!” This from a fellow with a flaming red beard and eyes blazing like cinders!

Achoo! Aaahchool! Whoosh!” The girls found themselves swept of their feet and flying through air as they just caught a glimpse of one of the men, his nose red, sneezing compulsively.

They landed on the ground with a thud and found themselves lying near the feet of the two boys.

Don’t you girls even have this much patience. We are hardly been here five minutes and you choose to come sniffing at our heels.” Navneeta was surprised to see the usually level headed and sensible Vinod showing a hint of irritation.

What do you mean five minutes? You have been away for two hours now.

I note thine befuddlement, fair maiden. But father time keeps a different count here and a different one there.” The seven little men walked in.

Seeing their confused look, the happy looking fellow spoke up. “Ho Ho Ho. Don’t you get it? You can pass time much faster in this land. In 5 minutes, your friends were able to pass 2 hours of boredom. Isn’t that cool?

Yeah, for 5 minutes here, you lost 2 hours of your life time in your real world.

Grumpy always has an eye for issues, eh? Ho Ho Ho. Well, you gain time in some lands, you lose in some. Overall it balances out if you keep visiting lands. Anyways let us not waste the precious hours. Go grab yourself a bargain?

Bargain?” All four of them looked puzzled.

Yes. This is the land of bargains. You can shop here to your heart’s content.

At the mention of the word shopping, both the girls’ faces lit up for a moment and then fell. “But we didn’t bring much money.

No problem dearies. You can pay in cash backs and coupons.

What are they?

Well – cashback is the opposite of cash. Taking a ‘cashback’ has the same effect as giving cash. The cashback will remain with you till you have some cash and as and when you have equivalent cash, it will cancel itself out and vanish.

And what is a coupon?

A coupon is like cash but with some strings attached. A coupon may be valid for only certain duration of time, or valid to buy only certain types of goods or usable only with certain merchants.”

Enough, Happy! We have already wasted enough time. Let us get going on our business.” It was Grumpy again.

The little men disappeared and the children were by themselves.

Well?” said Vinod.

What are we waiting for?” said Ramya.

There were stores of all kinds: apparel stores, perfume stores, electronic stores, book stores, art stores and stores selling almost every item you could think of! They went about window shopping for a while looking at these strange shops. The shops were teeming with customers. All the shop keepers as well of customers were strange looking beings, most of them the size of children, with strange looking features that were not exactly human. Some had strange pointed ears, some had pencil like noses, some had animal like features.

The girls decided to check out one of the apparel stores and the boys headed to the electronic store. The girls’ eyes popped out when they saw the range of merchandise on offer. There were dresses of silk, cotton, chiffon, satin, wool and every other material one could think of. The designs were just mind blowing and there was clothing for every ethnicity: frocks and gowns, chudidhars, kimonos, sarongs and kanzus. And as far as colors went, they only had to name any hue and there it was. The girls had a time of their life going parsing through the range of dresses and bargaining over the prices. The strange creatures at the shop seemed so patient. They did not hassle them or rush them into making choices. They kept displaying garment after garment. Before the girls knew what happened, it was evening and they found themselves with large bags filled with clothing, thousands of rupees worth of cash backs and another thousands worth of coupons for perfumes and jewelry. As they happily headed towards the perfume store, they felt a strange wind blowing. Before they could give it a thought they saw the seven short men running, with huge sacks on their back and the two boys, right behind them.

Hurry up. We are already too late,” they yelled at the girls.

Picture Credit: Shopping Street
This post is a part of the Shop, only to Save More! Activity by in association with


Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Hmm - THAT is getting more and more interesting TF! Land of Bargains, huh? :)

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Suresh.

Anonymous said...

So you've manage to bring a "prompt" into the story too. Nice :) They fell into a far more modern world, me thinks

umashankar said...

I always enjoy the exotic elements you invoke in these posts. I want to be there too!

The Fool said...

Thanks Sid. Actually my original idea emerged from some contest prompts.

The Fool said...

I am glad you enjoy the, umashankar. The exotic things are the most fun to write.

Anita said...

Smartly interwoven the three words for the contest! Really informative while also serving as fiction :)
Best wishes :)

Kusum said...

Keeps getting better! You are making all shopaholics desperate to be in place of both the girls. :)

Jairam said...

Interesting, 'land of bargains', loved how you incorporated the prompt into this series of yours...

The Fool said...

Thanks Anita. Glad you liked it.

The Fool said...

Glad you are liking the tale, Kusum.

The Fool said...

Thanks Jairam. I got this idea for this series based on 2-3 different prompt topics.

Midnight scribbles said...

This feels like It's straight out of Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree series.
Lands of adventure! Looking forward to the next bit!

Arvind Passey said...

I'd love to be a character in your posts, TF... in fact, I wish I remain a character in your posts.

Arvind Passey

Rachna said...

Very interesting! Good luck for the contest!

Kokila Gupta said...

Interesting ... waiting for the next :)

The Fool said...

Hope you will find the rest equally interesting, Kokila.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Rachna.

The Fool said...

This is a dedication to that series, Midnight.

The Fool said...

Maybe I will write a story about you one day, Mr. Passey.

Seeta said...

It brought back memories of the faraway tree series :) loved the way you intertwined the prompt into the story! Waiting for the next part... so do they go away with the land or do they manage to stumble out of the cloud???

The Fool said...

Thanks Seeta. As I mentioned, I wanted to write a dedication to the faraway series.

Diwakar Narayan said...

Interesting. Land of bargains. Surely, we live in that world. Good luck for the contest.

The Fool said...

Thanks Diwa. Indeed our world is a world of bargains.

Pratik Mohapatra said...

Interesting read. You make use of the contest intentions well, interwining into a simply laid out beautiful story.

The Fool said...

Thanks Pratik. I got this overall idea by integrating a few contest themes.

jaish_vats said...

Land of bargains ? Wow. Todays adults would enjoy it more there than the Kids :)

The Fool said...

Ha Ha - Quite true.

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