Things to Write - Tell a story that begins with a ransom note

It took three of them to handle the task at hand: two sprawled their stubby little bodies across the page to keep it in place while another held most of the crayon to his chest and left wax marks this way and that, sometimes trailing over errant fingers and toes in the process. There was much bickering between the three strange creatures, and much excitement -- so much so that they didn't hear the fourth member of their party come stumbling upon them, huffing and puffing and flailing his little arms until he collapsed in their midst and completely wrecked what they were doing.

The crayon was dropped and the paper-holders stood up, all three glaring down at their comrade with a mix of anger and dismay. Urg the crayon-bearer tapped the collapsed creature in the ribs, making him flinch. "Did you get them?" He poked him again with his big toe. "Garg, did you get them?"

He moaned and rolled over, and raised his hands in the air. "I return triumphant!" The others leaned forward and let out a collective "oooooh." In his hands were a collection of tiny sticks.

Urg was the first to get suspicious. His crooked eyes narrowed. "Where did you get them?"

Garg pushed himself to his feet carefully to avoid snapping the twigs. "Dunno. Got 'em from some man."

Blurb, who held down the left side of the paper, thrust his hands on his hips and stuck his potbelly out in front of him. "What man, eh?"

Garg shrugged. "Didn't give a name."

Oof, the keeper of the right side of the paper, scoffed. "Tell me, Garg: did you trust him?"

To this, Garg pondered for a moment. "No, can't say I did. Shifty sort of man, too quiet if you ask me, and a little too eager to get rid of the sticks in the first place..." The other three looked at each other warily for a moment, and then looked down at the sticks in Garg's hands. After a moment or two, they raucously declared the sticks "PERFECT!" and went back to the task at hand.

Garg moved off the piece of paper and looked it over from the sidelines. "What's it say, then?"

Oof and Blurb shook their heads and looked to Urg -- he was the only one who knew letters, so he was the one in charge of the note. "It says," he began, clearing his throat, "'we have your baby. If you want him back, we want gold. Lots of it."

Garg scratched his strange little chin for a moment with the end of one of the sticks and agreed it was a good note. Urg made a few more strokes of wax down on the paper and declared it finished, leaving Oof and Blurb to roll the paper up and carry it off. Garg and his sticks took up the rear behind the others as they marched through the designated family's house.

Blurb rubbed his palms together as they surveyed the front room. Lights were still on and various family members were still awake in separate parts of the house. "This'll be good! Haven't done this in years, so it's bound to be amazing!" He did a little dance for a moment before Urg smacked him upside the head.

"Calm down or you'll ruin everything."

"I can't help it...this is a big deal!"

"Big or no," Urg reminded Blurb, "if we don't get out of here with that baby, it's an even bigger deal! So shut up and wait until we've got something for you to do." Blurb flattened and the four passed a few hours in relative silence until the house was asleep.

When the time was right, the four carefully scaled the stairs to the second floor and headed into the nursery. The room was dark, save for a nightlight in the corner of the room. One by one the little men crawled up the side of the cradle and dropped onto the mattress.

"Why do we want this thing again?" Oof asked, his frog-like voice croaking just loud enough to make the baby's eyelids flutter. "It's all pink and wiggly and it smells awful. Are we sure the family will want it back?"

Urg rolled his beady eyes at Oof but decided to otherwise ignore him. "Garg, the sticks."

With a noise of surprise, Garg jumped into action, once again pulling the sticks out for everyone to see. "Let's see here..." he trailed off, giving the sticks a good shake one by one. Despite being made completely of wood, they tinkled like the smallest of windchimes, and each of the four felt heartened. Garg positioned the sticks to mimic the relative shape of a person, conjuring up some small spat of magic to connect the touching edges. The bark began to not only change color but plump and soften as well, increasing in size beyond a reasonable measure.

"Alright, almost done," Urg said. "You two, tuck the note under that bear. Then we need to get this baby out of here before anyone notices something is amiss."

Garg put a few finishing touches on the stick-figure before standing back and admiring his work. Oof and Blurb were fighting over note placement -- "Let's lean it against the bear so it looks like he's the one giving them to note!" and "Can you not just do what you're told? You know how Urg gets about these things," mostly -- while Urg was doing some baby-recon in order to figure out their escape route.

When everything was taking shape (especially the stick-figure), they turned to their apparent leader with an expectant "now what?", to which Urg shook his head. "Can't do it."

"What do you mean, 'we can't do it'?"

"We spent all this time. We have to do it."

"This is ridiculous. Do you know how long it took me to find those sticks?"

Urg stood by the baby. "It's too big." He leaned against the baby's skull, his entire body able to comfortably use it like a wall. "Can't be done. Not enough of us."

The three others started to squabble with Urg, not noticing the sound of screaming having been winding up in the baby's throat. The stick-figure baby was also beginning to make noises of its own, set off by the real baby's finicky cries, and the four strange little men found themselves completely overwhelmed.

Oof and Blurb were the first to abandon ship, most likely because they had the least to lose. For a moment Urg attempting to grab the baby by the collar of its jammies and Garg bemoaned the loss of the sticks before ultimately running off in pursuit of their comrades. They sadly never saw the expressions on the parents' faces when they arrived to their wailing baby's side and found themselves staring down the barrel of two screaming infants where only one was expected.

They found the note under the stuffed bear and wondered if this meant there was actually supposed to be a third baby somewhere, never mind wondering how much "lots of gold" was supposed to be. But first, there were more crying babies to attend to.