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Sockless and Afraid by Felix Age 12

“What have you done with my sock, Sockrates?” Mr. Clean questioned. This accusation caused a dryer vent to burst, and dark purple smoke wafted out around him, grabbing him as tightly as an anaconda and throwing him into his first trial: finding his way through the Closets of Confusion. 

Hearing a faint howl in the distance, Mr. C. landed in a giant closet and started climbing the shelves, worried that he could become a pile of lint. As he reached the top, he saw a vast ocean of similar closets scattered about, bobbing up and down like rubber ducks in a bathtub. He sighed in defeat but had to go on. 

He didn’t feel any closer after traversing three more closets with a view of the last closet near the bridge. Multiple shrieks of pain echoed through the closet as a lion with fur like a field of wheat sauntered over and growled in an aggravated stance, ready to fight. Mr. C. backed up with fear in his eyes. The lion pounced, and Clean held up his hand to block it, but instead, his hand sheared through the lion as if it were sand. MC was surprised that the creature was made completely out of lint- no bones or organs. 

Slumped on the ground, the defeated lion glowed the same deep purple as the mist. Still somewhat dazed, it reformed its shape, while regaining consciousness. Its eyes burned with revenge, and the sky grew dark. The pitter-patter of rain slowly formed, as the creature roared in pain, too wet to hold its weight. It crumbled to dust, and left a faint trail to the Bridge of Baskets; a stream of white and blue particles dancing around the wooden closets. 

After a minute of treacherous hiking through the closets, Mr. Clean arrived at the wide bridge made of different-sized laundry baskets. He stepped back and examined the bridge to make sure it was sturdy. He slowly stepped away, and the bridge started falling apart. Mr. C. dashed down the bridge as baskets fell behind him. The end was catching up, and there was a long way ahead. He accelerated for a few seconds, pushing himself ahead of the crumbling bridge. He finally reached safety, leaning on a tree and out of breath. Watching the end of the bridge crumble, he noticed a large array of laundry baskets piled high with ferocious lint monsters.

The monsters turned their heads around. Dragons, unicorns, centaurs, and other mythical creatures, all made from lint and angry at his presence. A large winged serpent loomed above, casting a bat-like shadow on my master. I shivered. The winged serpent rose, barring its teeth, a thousand yellow teeth dripping in slime, sharp as a crisp piece of paper. MC stared, slowly inching away from what felt like death itself. He crept slowly over to the side, desperate to find a way through, but the only way was the massive towering laundry baskets so tall they could block the sun. 

There was a sharp hissing sound. Behind him, a wyvern with poisonous fangs started advancing on MC. He heard the noise, but it was almost too late. The wyvern lunged forward, teeth snapping on dusty air. Enraged, it took off in pursuit of him and dodged through the space between baskets. It dove, plunging with talons outstretched, like an eagle swooping down on its prey. Faster and faster, it soared, until Clean swatted his arms behind him, sending the wyvern spiraling down and hitting the dirt. 

With a shriek, the winged beast splattered into chunks of lint, then dissipated in a purple haze, obscuring his vision. He looked around, but all he could see was the flowing mist. He stumbled forward, and then over a ledge into a giant laundry basket. He landed with a harsh thump as the fog slowly dissipated, but the holes in the basket's walls were too small, making it impossible to climb out. Exasperated, he sat down, studied the basket again, and realized he could use the holes as foot and hand holds. Slowly walking over to the basket wall, he cautiously grasped the first hole, but his fingers slipped, and he fell to the ground, discouraged. 

For hours, he waited, biding time until trying again, this time using a different route. Again, he slipped and fell after the first few holds. As he fell, he saw a tattered and worn mitten lying on the ground. He showed great excitement and put it on quickly. It exactly matched the mitten on his other hand. I wonder if the mitten was lost like Sockrates, he asked himself. This discovery offered newfound hope to keep pushing on. He attempted the climb with the extra mitten for a third time and slowly made his way to the top. Careful not to fall into one of the holes, he slid down the side, arriving at a bridge that led toward a crumbling building in the distance. Freezing winds blew over the lint bridge, threatening to sweep off anyone who dared to walk on it.

Mr. C. crouched and took his first step on the bridge. It held firmly, and he slowly stepped again. He choked on a cloud of lint and lost his footing as the bridge began to tumble down, lint falling and breaking off from the bridge. MC stood up carefully and started running over the bridge on the side so the wind would not push him off. Freezing gales swept across, but he pushed on. Rain began falling, and the winds blew relentlessly, but by this time, he could only try to stay on the bridge instead of progressing forward. Slowly, the bridge crumbled beneath his feet as he continued to fight to gain control of his body. 

He couldn’t hold on any longer and had to let go of the bridge as he was swept off. But instead of falling to his doom, quick winds carried him through the air, forcing him back up. A shriek echoed from the clouds, and lint eagles swooped down on Mr. Clean, helplessly trapped in gusts of winds. Great wings of lint flapped in the sky, supported by strands of muscle stronger than diamonds. Lint talons, sharp as blades, glowed in the sunlight. 

The first eagle dove toward MC and slashed with its claws. It hit nothing. Enraged, it flapped back for a second attack, rolling in the air as it steamed forward with its sharp beak. Hitting him on the forearm, he was unfazed. The eagle’s beak was crooked from impact.

As soon as Clean shooed off the first eagle, a group of four emerged from the clouds. They aggressively called in unison and surrounded him. Gusts of wind blew past and swept him farther and farther up into the sky, away from the eagles. But the eagles followed him, their wing beats echoing throughout the clouds, and dragged him with their claws down to the ground. 

He slowly walked toward the washer and peeked in, wondering. All of a sudden, there was a shake beneath his feet as the washer started spinning, and he fell into it.  He started frantically running like an athlete, desperate to find a way out. Mr. C. began running to the side, hoping to jump out, but he couldn’t when he was moving at such a high speed. As the washer accelerated, he was abruptly swept off his feet and thrown to the lowest point in the machine. He fought to get back up and thrashed around, trying to find something to secure himself to. He felt pressure on his back and turned to see a bear made of detergent clawing at him. As he waded through the soapy water, more monsters attacked, and he was surrounded. Clean punched and kicked, trying to free himself, as the washer spun. He scrambled to get out, slogging in the slimy water, but was burdened by the weight of the detergent in his clothes. Bang! A monster charging at him bumped a large plug, and the soapy water began to drain rapidly, suctioning Mr. Clean out. Luckily, the monsters were too bulky to fit through the opening, and their detergent forms were stuck. His clothes were drenched in slimy, purple goop that oozed onto the ground. He tried to squeeze it off, but it clung to his clothes. He slowly stumbled along the path toward two massive towers in the distance. 

Hours of harsh walking later, he finally reached the pillars at Detergent Falls, where steaming detergent flowed into the River of Detergent, eventually reaching the Sea of Shadow. He paused to admire the falls, as dripping detergent shined in a glistening column. The falls cracked and popped violently as the liquid flowed down the pillars like a slow-motion waterfall oozing from the cracks in the ceiling. It filled the cave with a lake so deep and blistering that anything touching it would be incinerated with a satisfying snap as their ashes exploded. 

Mr. Clean carefully approached this cave of horrors, desperate to find Sockrates after days of searching. He entered the cave on a thin rock ridge that had formed in the lake. Detergent bubbled around him, illuminating all he could see in a fiery glow. In an instant, everything went dark. A faint and eerie glow took back the cave. Thick vines sprouted from the ceiling, obscuring Mr. C’s vision, through a dark purple mist. Then, they all glowed a magnificent blue, lighting up the cave like it had never been before, and shining so bright MC had to cover his eyes. The glow slowly faded, but the vines grew into a threatening trap. Farther and farther he ran, but the vines grew at an alarming rate, ready to engulf the cave.

He ran until his legs burned over the detergent on rock that acted as stepping stones. He ran past sharp rock spires that reached the top of the cave and hanging crystals that reflected the persimmon light of the molten detergent. Desperately sprinting away, he spied a door ahead, which opened into a new cavern. He bolted for the door, slamming it shut, and fortified it with loose rubble. He could feel the encroaching vines, as the cavern trembled and the door’s hinges buckled under pressure, a whoosh above rocked him to the core. A giant cord chaotically whipped around, banging into the walls of the cavern, as it angled down and smashed a huge chunk of rock mere inches from where he stood. Frozen with fear, he crouched in a ball, desperate to protect himself. Without warning, the charger snapped, and everything went black. 

Hours later he awoke in a cool pool of detergent. A light green glow filled the room, the auroras of sharp crystal clusters in the ceiling. Tree roots drooped from the ceiling above, slowly making their way down to the pool of detergent. It was calm and secluded, and Clean rested here for a bit before getting up. He slowly turned his head and glanced at an iron vault door, sensing something important on the other side. He waded through the detergent and snapped off a small root as he walked. He tried fitting the root in the lock like a key, but to no avail. Worse, the root had become stuck and was impossible to remove. He sighed in defeat. But after a few minutes, defeat turned to anger, and he punched the lock, which shattered into pieces of lint, soaked with detergent. 

After he turned to open the many inside doors of the vault, he arrived at the final door. It creaked as it opened into a small room, filled with gold, silver, and beautifully adorned jewelry with precious stones. He did not see Sockrates in the vault and continued searching. As he walked out in despair, a wave of bleach rolled into the lake. Splashing and churning, the towering tsunami grew larger as it came to shore. Many stories upward it towered, until it harshly crashed down, flooding the shoreline in a wave of foamy bleach, and retreating to the lake.  Soaked, MC pressed on, searching for an exit to this underground maze. The lake slowly bent upwards, as it came from a river of gushing bleach that spread from the caves above. 

For hours he followed this river until it led to a dead end. A concrete box with a massive pipe protruding from its side spewed bleach at a rapid rate, threatening to wash Mr C. away. As he kicked the pipe to inspect its strength, it exploded with a boom! Bleach shot through the cracks, and the wall started to tremble. It finally burst; a flood of bleach and rubble flowed from the openings. Hanging onto a vine dangling from the ceiling, bleach poured out beneath him until it finally reduced to the original pipe. Mr. Clean let out a sigh of relief as he dropped down, exhausted. The cracks in the wall were visible now, so he tried to squeeze through as it was the only path forward. 

Remarkably, he made it through, coming close to getting stuck twice. As he pulled his body through the crack, he slowly looked around where he had entered. Marble columns cast shadows around the room as it was filled with luxurious furniture and decor, all leading to a massive throne room. There sat a great lint skeleton necromancer, deep in an ancient prayer, as runes circled his body, casting ominous patterns that faded into his staff. He looked up and saw MC staggering toward his throne and he cast a beam of light at his feet. It absorbed into his body, and he drifted toward the ceiling, a pair of luminous wings propelling him. A spark of energy flew from his staff transforming in an instant. It growled and hissed, recognizing Clean. 

The lion reborn was scarier than before, with a skeletal face and exposed ribs. Lint swirled around, and it let out a ferocious roar, bounding forward. MC swung with his fist but was flung back as the lion clawed at his hair. He jolted away and hid around the corner. There was a malicious laugh as dark claws closed around his throat and hoisted him in the air, preventing him from reaching his lost treasure. In his other hand, the dark lint demon gripped Sockrates, and then threw him brutally across the palace floor. Clean yelled in anguish, but the demon’s grip remained firm around his neck. Runes swirled around his head, the same as those seen on the necromancer, and struck his face. Before he could finish his thought, the squeeze of the demon overpowered him, and he went limp.

As he woke, he realized he was chained to the floor in a lint prison cell unable to move. He could see nothing but the lint-tiled ground, but he tried with all his strength to break the chains that bound him. He groaned, straining against the tough lint chains. He tried breaking individual chains, but they were too tough, binding him up tightly. Craning his neck to look up, he saw a familiar face peering down at him. The necromancer had transformed into a winged serpent clad in metallic lint scales and ragged spikes that jutted from its mouth. It roared; its mouth was covered in spikes, old weapons, and burnt armor. It exhaled a great breath of blue flame, and MC could feel the heat soaking his chains. He writhed. The necromancer was relentless. He scrambled, looking for anything that could help him, but his hands were still empty after a long and thorough search of his cell. At this rate, he was heavily sweating, but then he saw a glint of light from the corner of the room.

 A glowing blue sword lodged in the wall cast an aurora of many colors, beckoning him to fetch it. Crawling on the ground, he reached out as far as he could, grazing the sword’s hilt, but could not maintain his grasp, his fingers slipping as he fell back. The sword was still stuck in the wall, but a part of the blade had come free. MC lunged forward, still in chains, making a desperate attempt to escape the heat of the monster's flame. A blue light beamed from the sword and connected to his hand, pulling him to the light of the sword. He grasped it firmly, but the chains stopped his momentum, and he fell to the ground, tired, but now with a way out. 

Raising the sword above his head, he let out a cry and viciously slashed at his chains. The blue light of the sword glowed on its edges with each strike, shattering the chains that bound him. The light swirled around his body, rejuvenating his stamina until he was fully energized. He slowly stood up and faced the beast looming over him. He raised his sword and swung, but the necromancer was quick in reaction and flew up. As he flew to the sky, his wings slowly morphed into jagged spikes on his back, alive and glowing with runes. His body grew into unimaginable proportions, a mass of dark flesh and scales. The tail of the necromancer began to enlarge and split into two whiplike tails, encrusted with centuries of scars and wounds. The tail sprouted tentacles that crowded together at the base and then flattened. His head grew 100 times the size of a dryer and his nine new glowing eyes pierced into the night sky. He let out a roar of triumph as he enabled his new form to glow alight with ancient white runes that sparkled down his spiky body, bioluminescence that had not been seen in this land since the time of monsters. 

Deafening footsteps shook the earth as he slowly moved towards Mr. Clean. A shadow loomed above as the necromancer’s tail swished behind him, scattering dust across the palace. As he filled with despair, the icy blue light of the sword swirled into his body. He transformed into a tall and icy creature, his head was adorned by large plumes of feathers, carrying a strong beak made of a material never known to man. Layers of frosted fur covered his body as it was adorned with strings of lights that shone the ice-blue color of the great sword he had held. A ring of mist faltered around him, blue as the sea. He was now ready to take the necromancer. 

He stepped slowly forward to attack, his great beak delivering crushing blows on the necromancer, as they glanced off of his scale armor not damaging him enough. The necromancer struck next, delivering painful bites and whips of his tail. As his condition deteriorated, the mist began to glow darker blue, then purple. His blows, more effective now, did great damage to the necromancer, but it was still not enough to win. The necromancer let out a breath of plasma in return, draining his opponent’s health. At the same time, the monster seemed to heal, like he was sucking the life out of MC. The necromancer struck again more slowly. MC turned and let out a flurry of strikes as he walked around his enemy in circles. Yet, he was weakening, and the necromancer would surely win, it seemed, so he moved to the back and attacked the tail. It lashed harshly back at him.

The mist grew red, and Clean was heavily damaged. But this damage made him hit even harder, sending harsh strikes against the necromancer that began to destroy his health. He tried to retreat but was sent into oblivion with Mr. Clean's final strike against him. Dissipating slowly, his form crumbled away in chunks of lint until he disappeared in a flash, while Mr. Clean shrunk down to his original size. 

Once the palace of the necromancer seemed clear, Mr. Clean searched for hours on end through the palace for his beloved sock but did not realize that Sockrates’s cell lay in the dungeons far below. Miles of tunnels stretched under the palace, littered with caves, dungeons, and rows of cells for prisoners of the necromancer. The cell lay far beneath the mountaintop of the palace, held near other single socks, reusable masks, scarves, and hats. 

Sockrates slept silently in his cell for days before MC finally descended into the dungeon and found him chained to the ground. He was able to slice the bars of the cell open with his sword. They split in a glimmering light, the iron of the bars corroding into lint, which fell harmlessly to the ground. He then unbound the chains, pulling them out and unlocking the locks with the keys he had found when the necromancer dissipated. He saw many other socks, but they could not be freed in any way by him.

As they slowly walked back through the Closets of Confusion, a blinding flash of light transported them back into Mr. C’s normal and immaculate world. Standing next to his dryer, he held Sockrates, as purple smoke drifted away from them in all directions. The dryer huffed lint out of its vent, and at least one more sock was finally free!

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