Gateways: “Hearts, Stars and Horseshoes” by Rob McLemore read by Nathan Shelton

TRANSCRIPT: Rob McLemore has been consistently fascinated with sci-fi and fantasy for as long as he can remember and works it into just about everything he writes.  The majority of Rob’s work consists of comedy, both sketch and serial, and can frequently be heard with Locked Into Vacancy Entertainment.

Terry and Jay stood for a while in silence, staring at the sight on the floor in front of them.  Neither was sure exactly what to say.  They repeatedly exchanged glances to confirm that what they were seeing was in fact real and not the remnants of the previous night’s indulgences.  Finally, after an uncomfortably long period of time, Terry broke the silence.  “Should we poke it?”

Jay shot him an immediate look of disbelief.  He was about to object, then paused, realizing he couldn’t actually think of a more appropriate course of action.  He closed his mouth for a moment then added, “Is it alive?”

The pair knelt down to take a look at the small form on the floor.  It looked enough like a person, albeit only a few inches tall.  It had a scraggly beard and wore a red coat, shiny black shoes, and a fancy little hat.  As fascinating as it was to see, the allure was slightly tarnished by the fact that it was sprawled out on the floor with its mouth open and its tongue hanging out.  Upon closer inspection, they discovered a small puddle of drool had formed around its head and that it was, in fact, still breathing.  They glanced at each other once again.  Finally, Jay said what they were both thinking, “Is…that a leprechaun?”

As hard as it was to fathom, Terry couldn’t ignore the coincidence.  They were in Ireland and they were in the presence of what could only be described as very tiny person.  He tried to think back to what had happened the night before for any rational explanation.  What he could remember involved stopping in at a local pub, meeting another group of backpackers, striking up a conversation with some locals, a lot of alcohol, and, eventually, the party making its way back to their room.  All the other details were fuzzy at best.  If it was a practical joke, it was a very well executed one.

A number of questions ran through both of their minds, but before any of them could be spoken, the tiny figure twitched.  They froze, their eyes fixated on the creature.  It twitched again, stretched, then, after letting out a yawn, slowly sat up.  It groggily blinked at the two people staring wide eyed at it.  “Morning,” it said.

The pair screamed.  Not out of any sense of direct fear, as the tiny man was anything but intimidating.  However, more so out of a realization that their grasp on the concrete notions of reality they had spent their entire lives cultivating was suddenly shattered by a night of drinking and a simple greeting.  The leprechaun burst out laughing.  This was something he was quite used to and had come to find absolutely hilarious.  The reactions from both parties eventually died down and the room returned to an incredibly awkward silence.  “Not a particularly talkative bunch, are you?” it asked?

Terry remained motionless, stammering to get a coherent thought out.  Jay, however, acting purely on instinct, grabbed his backpack, and trapped the creature inside of it.  He quickly zipped it shut then pulled his hands back, watching as the bag tumbled around and a string of barely coherent profanities streamed out.

“Why would you do that?!” Terry demanded.  “There is a mythical creature in our hotel room and your first thought is to toss it in a sack?!”

“I panicked,” Jay offered meekly.  “Besides, aren’t you supposed to catch leprechauns?  Isn’t that part of their legends or something?”

Terry stared at him blankly.  “Lucky Charms commercials are not legends.”

“I’m serious,” Jay retorted.  “I remember something about how they’re supposed to give you wishes or good luck or something if you can catch one.”  Jay picked up the wriggling sack and held it at arm’s length.  “Did you hear that in there?  We’ll let you go once you give our three wishes or whatever.”

The bag stopped moving.  A sigh could be heard from inside.  “Do I look like a genie to you?”

Jay turned beet red.  He was about to unzip the bag when Terry grabbed his hand.  He had his phone out and, after scrolling through multiple sites, piped up.  “Actually, it says here that leprechauns are supposed to grant three wishes so long as we promise to let you go.  And what’s more, while they’re known for being tricky, they can’t outright lie to us.  So, leprechaun, do we get some wishes for catching you?”

Another string of curses wafted out as the bag once again began thrashing about.  “Curse you humans and your stupid pocket screens!  Everything was so much easier before you lot could just summon up whatever you wanted to know with a poke of your lousy finger!”  The bag continued to thrash for a while longer, accompanied by more yelling and cursing until, eventually, it wound down.  Panting, the leprechaun relented.  “Fine.  What do you want?”

Jay lay the bag back on the ground as he and Terry pondered for a moment.  This was hardly how they expected their morning to turn out, so they hadn’t put much thought into their greatest earthly desires.  “While we’re thinking on that one,” Terry said, “can we ask you a few questions?  Like why are you in our hotel room?”

“And how come you’re not wearing green?” Jay added.  Terry smacked him on the shoulder.  “What?  I’m curious.”

A chuckle emanated from the bag.  “You two were a right lot of fun at the bar last night.  Wee folk like myself don’t tend to mingle with your kind, but we have to admit, you do know how to have a good time.  When everyone ended up checking out, I figured I’d just spend the night here.  I didn’t imagine either of you would be up before I was on my way.”

“We’re early risers,” Terry replied.

“Apparently so.”  The leprechaun continued.  “And as for your question, slappy, we can wear more than just one color.  Being a leprechaun doesn’t come with a uniform.  Now, make with the wishes so I can get out of here.  Your bag smells like a dried-out cow.”

Terry and Jay huddled up.  The chances of anything like this happening ever again were miniscule, so they wanted to make absolutely sure they didn’t mess it up.  They ran through every wish-making lesson they’d learned from popular culture.

“Wording is crucial,” said Jay.  “We have to be absolutely certain we don’t monkey’s paw our way into some horrible fate because we aren’t specific.  So, like if we wanted an amazing sandwich, we have to detail exactly what makes is amazing and eliminate any possible negative consequences.  We can’t just say ‘I wish for a good sandwich.’”

“That’s one!” the leprechaun cackled.  There was a sudden pop and a relatively appetizing ham and swiss dropped on the floor.  “What else do you have in mind?”

“You idiot!” Terry shouted, shoving Jay.  He snatched up the sack for himself.  “Now we only have two wishes left and…a sandwich.  Let’s just think up what we want then write it down so we don’t accidentally mess things up any further.”  Jay silently nodded.  The pair paced back and forth, trying to figure out exactly what to wish for and how to most appropriately word it.  Terry grabbed a pencil and a notepad and sat, staring at it intensely.  His mind was a complete blank.  After ten silent minutes he blurted out, “I’ve got nothing!  All your life you dream of something like this!  Now, here I am, and I can’t decide on anything!  God, I wish I could think of something!”  Jay looked at him in shock.  He slapped his hands over her mouth, but it was too late.

“Done and done!” the leprechaun gleefully shouted, snapping his finger.  “One left.”

Both of them slumped on the floor.  This was not going as planned.  Jay repeatedly slammed his head into his knees.  Terry, however, shot up.

“Ok, so maybe I screwed up that one, but at least it worked.  I know exactly what to wish for.”  Jay paused his slamming.  “He’s a leprechaun, so he has to have a pot of gold,” he proudly stated.  “Think of it.  We can pay off our loans, keep traveling, basically never worry about money ever again.  How about it?”  Jay pondered for a moment, then nodded in agreement.  Terry picked up the sack.  “Leprechaun, we wish for your pot of gold!  That is a thing, right?”

“It certainly is.  One pot of gold, coming right up!”  The leprechaun clapped and suddenly Terry, Jay, and the stuffed backpack were standing in the middle of a field near the coast.  The scenery was gorgeous, but nothing compared to the giant black pot sitting in front of them, filled to the brim with gold coins.  They dropped the bag and ran over to the pot, looking at the incalculable wealth that was suddenly theirs.  Both of them burst out laughing, hugging each other and tossing coins in the air.  They could have done this for hours, but were interrupted by the leprechaun loudly clearing his throat.

“You got your wishes.  Now, time to live up to your end of the bargain and let me out,” it said.

Jay rushed over and hastily unzipped the bag.  The little man hopped out, dusting himself off.  Terry and Jay were so ecstatic they both picked him up and hugged him.  Then each other again.  Then burst out laughing some more.  The leprechaun watched amused.

“I suppose I’ll be getting on my way,” it said.  “Though, before I go, just one more thing.”  It pulled out a stick and pointed it at the two.  “Empty your pockets!”  They stopped laughing.  “You heard me.  I want everything you got on you.  And those shoes too.  In fact, toss in your shirt and pants too.  Put them the pot and back away!”  Neither did anything.  “I wasn’t asking.” the leprechaun said sternly.  A small fireball shot from the stick and landed between the pair.  They looked back at him in disbelief.

“Are you…mugging us?” Jay stammered.

The leprechaun laughed.  “How else do you think we get all that gold?  I can probably get a few more pieces from what you have.  Oh, and a little tip for next time.  Wishing to get a pot of gold is one thing.  Wishing to keep it is another.”  And with that, it was gone. 

An hour later, Jay and Terry were still sitting by a road in their underwear, hoping a car might come by.  As they waited, they wondered how exactly they had come to this situation.  And, as they did, one thought remained inescapably clear:  Leprechauns suck.


Nathan Shelton is a professional actor, writer, director, and special effects makeup artist living in Chicago.  He has worked on numerous theatrical, tv, and film productions including Above Ground, The Rake, Scum of the Earth’s latest music video: Dance MotherF*&#er, and the Oscar nominated indie film, Winter’s Bone.  His production company, ARCANE, is currently working on a multitude of devious dark projects, including a horror radio theatre anthology series called The Frightmare Theatre Podcast