Flash Fiction: “George Washington and the Pencil War”

I wrote this story for my friends last month, and it was well-received. You can also tell by reading this like I listened to a lot of the Hamilton soundtrack around that time, given how many lyrics I try to slip in here not so subtly.


George Washington and the Pencil War,

by Alexander Paul Willging

Word Count: 633

The fairies were coming at sunrise. In the predawn light, the terrain was a rocky, deforested surface, long ago harvested to satisfy some ancient custom. Everywhere one looked, all that could be seen were trenches and barricades. Hundreds and thousands of pencils, stacked tight row by row, fully sharpened and ready for attack.

And who else should be standing on the front lines but the general himself: George Washington.

And his right-hand man, George thought to himself. He turned and smiled at his aide Hamilton. Of course Alexander had chosen to follow him through that magical portal while crossing the Delaware. He’d said something about “not throwing away his shot” at the time. George, at least, was glad to have him along for the adventure.

“Sir! Sir!” A young corporal came running up. He saluted and almost knocked the tricorner hat right off his head.

George saluted back. “Yes, Ticonderoga? What is it?”

“Fairies, sir! Tons of them!” The pencil-shaped man pointed toward the gleaming horizon. “They’ve come for the Stone, sir!”

Ah, yes. The Stone of Memories. No larger than a man’s head, but cut like a diamond. The royal family of this peculiar land had been very eager to show it off to their guests from another world. Long ago, they’d said, it’d been hidden in Pencil Land to stop anyone from erasing people’s memories. Essentially, they’d become that world’s ruler. And if the good people of Pencil Land knew anything, it was the value of a good eraser.

George smiled and leaned over to Hamilton. “Well? Let’s not keep them waiting.”

Hamilton grinned back. “Til the world turns upside-down, sir!”

“You can say that again,” Washington replied.

Some days, he missed being back in America. In the wilderness that he’d explored as a youth, or roaming the streets of fine old towns like New York and Lexington. To stand beside his men—real men—instead of these pencil-carved duplicates. But if he wasn’t going to be the one to save his strange land, then who would?

Meanwhile, dozens of fairies came soaring through the air. The Pencil Army opened fire, unleashing wave after wave of sharpened lead and eraser stubs. Both sides clashed in a vicious snarl. Scores of fairies came crashing to the soil in a spray of glitter and a cacophony of windchime screams.

And all the while, pencil soldiers threw up their hats and cheered, “General Washington! General Washington…!”

Then George felt a hand nudge his shoulder.

“General!” Hamilton shouted.

Washington sat up in his chair. He blinked and rubbed at his eyes. The weight of his forty-five years kept him rooted in place. With dismay, he looked around at his changed surroundings.

He was back in his old, weather-stained tent. The fairies were gone. The pencil soldiers were, too. Instead, George was clutching at a blanket draped over his lap and staring up at the stricken young face of his aide-de-camp Hamilton.

“Sir!” said Hamilton. “The troops are ready.” His hand twitched at his side. “They’ve been ready for some time now.”

Washington blinked and nodded. Confusion dissolved, and he let the familiar weight of his soldier’s mind settle back into place. Ever a mission to complete. That was what he liked best. He rubbed at his head and threw off the blanket.

“Very good,” he said. “Tell them… I’ll be right there.”

As Hamilton left his tent, George stood up. He was surprised, however, to look down and see a handful of pencils strewn by his feet. And beyond them, only a few inches away, an ordinary-looking stone. Some rock plucked from inside a river, like the kind he used to collect as a lad near Pope’s Creek.

George laughed and dropped the stone into his pocket. At least, he knew, the fairies couldn’t get it there.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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