Chapter One – A Sock of Possibilities
“Edward . . . can I call you Edward?”
“Oh. Well…ah, let me just lay it out for you. As fascinating as what you’ve just told me sounds, the fact remains, you’re, well you’re a sock. And I’m fairly certain the events you’ve just spoken of, well, they don’t happen to socks.”
“Exactly. Which is why I am here.”
“Yes. I’m sorry, of course it is.” The bespectacled man leaned back on his chair and formed a steeple with his hands. Touching lightly his already furrowed brow he looked up and stared thoughtfully at the small figure in front of him.
Yes, this definitely was a sock. He had checked for any signs of a puppeteer, there were none. So he had pulled up a chair, stacked a few books on top of it and lifted the rather battered, slightly faded, green sock on top of them.
This was London after all. You get used to seeing pretty much everything here, especially when working as a psychologist. It was also a Saturday morning, his usual day off. But he’d been called into work by his rather harassed sounding boss.
So, he had thrown himself out of bed, splashed some water over his face and groaned. Stumbled over the empty bottle of vodka that he had swiftly polished off the previous night and reluctantly headed into the office.
As he scratched his chin, considering not only the believability, but the saleability of the sock’s story, he noticed the sock was staring back at him. There appeared to be two holes about three centimetres apart on the top of his head. It had little to no other features. Only the apparent eyes and an indentation of a mouth from which it spoke. As for legs, from what the doctor could see, they appeared on the rim of the sock as little gatherings of material when he walked. The same formed for his hands. He wore no clothing, but this he supposed was that with being an item of clothing it had no need for any. However, when he had checked inside for strings he had received a rather sharp kick from a very offended sock.
The doctor removed his glasses and rubbed them carefully on his shirt. They weren’t dirty; it was more of a nervous habit.
He had figured to hell with it! Even if the sock had left his boss on the brink of another nervous breakdown, he had decided to at least listen to what it had to say: even if he did end up in a lovely padded room. After all, how many people can say they have had a conversation with a sock? That is, not including the fellows he would soon be living with.
“My apologies. Mr Sokwurf, tell me again what it is you wish to have achieved before leaving my office today?” he asked this as he placed on his glasses and rolled his chair forward.
The sock’s voice was deep, serious even, but quiet. It carried well but the doctor found he still had to strain to hear him clearly.
“In my community, we have had many cases in which our friends have quite inexplicably gone missing. As I have already mentioned, my experience however was rather unique. Everyone who was in the washing machine at the time saw me get absorbed into what we can only decipher as a black hole,” explained the sock.
“A black hole?” The doctor huffed out a gust of air and rubbed at the bristle on his chin. He swivelled slowly round on his chair, then back again to face the sock, “I think you forgot to mention that before.”
“I told you I went to another universe, that I met other creatures and Gods. Yet it’s the possibility of a black hole that amazes you?” Edward Sokwurf was beginning to worry. The more sober the doctor became the less answers he knew he’d be able to get.
“In our community we have almost all suffered the loss of a loved one in this way, vanishing without a trace,” Edward continued.
“For many years we blamed the humans; their lack of care for us. Many socks simply ran away with their lovers, or alone. All to escape the horrid stories we were told when first created.”
The doctor nodded to show he understood and then smiled warmly as he noticed the socks tiny hands move as he spoke.
“But the important thing is, I came back. But what from, I’m not sure. The rest of the socks that day put down seeing the portal to a bad dose of washing powder. But I keep having these dreams, these memories.” Edward lowered his head and looked to the floor, the confusion he was feeling evident as it crept through his voice, “I went to another world. I escaped from that world. At least I think I did. I’m here to ask you to help me to understand what is real and what is make-believe.”
“So unlike your friends you believe that what occurred that day was more than just a bad dose of… washing powder? You believe it could be real?”
Edward sighed, exasperated. From this the doctor realised he must have told this same story a dozen or more times.
“Sometimes I don’t know what to believe. Is it a dream or is it a memory? But regardless of what it is or isn’t, I feel I owe it to the sock community to get it straightened out. And that’s why I’ve come to you today, Dr Karsal.” He looked up to the doctor, “I feel I need answers.”
“Well, with most due respect, Mr Sokwurf, if we do learn what you experienced was real, and not just a figment of your imagination, how do you… how shall I put this…” Shuffling nervously on his chair the doctor cleared his throat. Looking down to his desk, he pushed a few papers neatly to the right. “How will the people you feel are in danger-”
Edward coughed quietly, but loudly enough to interrupt the doctor.
“Socks, sorry,” he corrected himself. “How will the socks you feel are in need of consolation find out about their loved ones?” he finished, burying his head into a giant coffee mug and gulping loudly.
The sock smiled, his dent for a mouth turning upwards slightly.
“I will be able to tell my family with confidence and we can finally have clarification on the disappearances. The rest, they will have to read it.”
The doctor choked, coffee dribbling down his chin as his mind began to race. Socks, reading? Christ, how could he question that when he was sat here talking to a sock.
He was talking to a sock.
Suddenly the past hour burst into his mind and as he stared, his eyes wide, horrified, into a cup. He slowly looked up with the same confounded expression to the sock.
“Good morning, Dr Karsal.” Edward smirked grimly, “I see the alcohol is now almost completely out of your system and you believe you are hallucinating.”
The doctor shot up. Kicking his chair back he began to irrationally gather the papers from his desk, pushing them quickly into his briefcase.
“Yes, well, Mr Sock. Sokwurf. This meeting has gone very well. We should, we should pick it up again tomorrow, when I’m . . . when I’m sane!” With the end of his sentence Dr Karsal jittered out of the office, slamming the door hard behind him.
Sighing, Edward Sokwurf hopped down from his make shift chair and slipped easily underneath the door.
Being a Saturday there were few people around the office and those who were, much like Dr Karsal, were either hung over or dozing sleepily at their desks.
When he’d entered the building, he had walked past the secretary’s desk without so much as a second glance from the small red headed girl. She had been sat there spinning aimlessly on her chair, reading a copy of the month’s bestseller.
Heading back the way he came, he gratefully saw she was no longer there, but instead stood a few metres away, flirting with a tall, frightened looking man.
Rubbing on the harsh carpet a few times, the sock generated as much static as he would need to leap and stick himself to the metal leg of the secretary’s desk. He slid up the side of it, and flipped up onto the table. Once there he shook himself in attempt to alleviate the formations of little green cotton bubbles that had appeared all over him.
He walked carefully over the scattered pens, staples and paper clips which cluttered the surface. He reached the secretary’s computer and smiled mischievously when he saw she had left herself signed in.
This would be a difficult task, but he had done it many times before. He had only recently earned the title of “Master of Mine Sweep” from his peers.
As long as the tall man the secretary was harassing didn’t crumble and make up some lousy excuse to leave within the next five minutes, he would be safe. Otherwise, he’d soon find himself sat in a bin with a banana peel for a hat.
With both his hands he leaned onto the mouse and began pushing it to move the cursor on to a folder titled ‘Private’, then hopping on top of the mouse and jumping twice with a double click, he opened it. Using this same method he soon got into another folder titled ‘Staff – past and present’. Once entered, he looked up “Dr Mark Karsal” and was soon making a mental note of the address.
Hearing the sound of the secretary’s stilettos tap dancing across the wooden floor, he turned just in time to see her scurrying back to her desk with a huge smile on her face. Panic set in and he did the only thing socks know how to do when humans draw close, jump on the floor and play dead.
He landed on the carpet beside her chair and cursed loudly as a sharp heel drove into him.
The secretary looked up confused by the sound, and waved to the man she had been courting. Shouting in an excited voice, “I’m coming Ben, I’m just getting my purse!”
Edward winced and held back another exclamation of pain, deciding he couldn’t tell what hurt most: his stomach or his ears.
The secretary grabbed something that looked more like a giant handbag than a purse, and then quickly click-clacked back off to her date. Leaving Edward winded on the floor.
After a few moments of catching his breath he rolled over and pushed himself up. He brushed himself down then went once more over the address in his head.
Satisfied he had it lodged firmly in his memory, he then headed to the exit, down the stairs and made his way back to the streets of London.