"Eleven, twelve... uh, thirteen... fourteen..." Lumpy counted as he stood at a tree, covering his eyes with both hands.
Sniffles snickered softly to himself as he looked up from a fallen log, which he had chosen as his hiding spot. He and Lumpy were playing hide and seek, and Lumpy was chosen to be the seeker. No matter who hid and who had to seek, however, Sniffles was always sure he was in for a fun time.
"Nineteen, twenty!" Lumpy uncovered his eyes and turned away from the tree. "Alright, Sniffles! Here I come!"
Lumpy looked this way and that before he started looking behind the trees that surrounded him, trying to find Sniffles. After a few minutes, he heard a soft giggle coming from a log, which was several inches away from him. He walked over to it and looked around, but the giggling continued.
Finally Lumpy looked down with a smile. "There you are!" said Lumpy.
"Oh, Lumpy, you've found me!" Sniffles admitted with a few more giggles. He stood up from his hiding spot, not noticing as Lumpy sniffed. "I'm sorry, I just love this game."
"Me too." Lumpy chuckled as well.
"Well, since you won, how would you like to hide this time?" Sniffles suggested.
"Sure!" Lumpy couldn't help but smile at the idea.
"Okay, then." Sniffles walked over to another tree and stood in front of it, slipping his hands underneath his glasses so he could cover his eyes. "One, two..."
As Sniffles counted, Lumpy gave another sniff before he ran off to find a place to hide. Just before Sniffles finished, Lumpy settled on a large tree and stood behind it. It was just wide enough to hide his antlers.
"He'll never find me here!" Lumpy mused with another sharp breath through his nose.
"Eighteen, nineteen... and twenty!" Sniffles finished, then uncovered his eyes and turned away from the tree. "Ready or not, here I come!"
Sniffles then proceeded to do what Lumpy did during their last game: look behind every tree he could find. He also checked the log that he'd previously hidden behind, however, just to make sure Lumpy hadn't decided to hide there. After about five minutes, Lumpy sniffled rather loudly, alerting Sniffles to just which tree he was behind.
"Aha!" Sniffles ran over to the tree. "Found you! Hehehe!"
Lumpy chuckled as well. He knew that he may have given himself away, but he didn't mind.
"That was so much fun, Sniffles," said Lumpy. "I love when we get together like this."
"So do I! Hehe!" said Sniffles. "So what do you want to do now?"
Lumpy placed his forefinger to his chin - or where he thought his chin was - as he tried to think. As he did so, however, he gave another sharp sniffle. And a few seconds later, he emitted another sniff, this one being wetter than the first.
"Hmm?" Sniffles raised an eyebrow. "What's the matter, Lumpy?"
Lumpy was brought out of his thoughts as he looked over at Sniffles. He didn't look like he knew what he was asking about. "Excuse me, what?"
"Lumpy, are you feeling alright?" Sniffles wanted to know.
Lumpy sniffled again. "Yeah, why?"
"You've been sniffling quite a bit today," Sniffles stated. "You don't usually do that as often as you are now..."
Lumpy let that sink in for a moment, then realized his point.
"You know..." Lumpy sniffled audibly again. "You're right. I have been pretty sniffly, haven't I?" He wiped under his nostrils a few times with the back of his hand, still sniffling as he did so.
"I'm a little worried, Lumpy. I think you may be catching the sniffles."
Lumpy took another sniffle, still wiping his nose.
"Maybe I am..." he replied. "I'm not sure, though. I don't even know what the sniffles are..."
"The sniffles is a mild illness that's very similar to the common cold," said Sniffles. "However, unlike the common cold, the sniffles' main symptom is, well, sniffling, usually caused by a runny or stuffy nose that comes with the sniffles."
"May I ask, is your nose runny or stuffy? I'd like to know."
Another sniffle from Lumpy. "Feels runny..."
"We may need to take you to my lab so I can continue to diagnose your sniffles," said Sniffles.
"Okay," Lumpy said with a nod.
Lumpy and Sniffles then walked out of the area, heading for Sniffles' house. Along the way, Lumpy continued to sniffle as he rubbed and wiped his nose, which slowly turned a faded pink. By the time he and Sniffles had made it to the lab, Lumpy's nose was about as red as a setting sun.
"Sniffles? May I have a tissue, please, before we do this...?" Lumpy asked weakly, sniffling once more.
"Of course, Lumpy. I've bought some extra tissues recently, anyway." Sniffles pulled out a tissue from a box and handed it to Lumpy. Lumpy blew his nose loudly, then wiped it as he continued to sniffle.
"Thank you," said Lumpy.
"As I was saying," Sniffles resumed, "the sniffles may also result in a mild sore throat, cough, or headache, or all of those. That being said, it is highly unlikely to cause sneezing - it wouldn't be called the sniffles if it did."
"Hmm, my throat doesn't feel that bad..." Lumpy then felt a tickle in his throat, so he had to cough a little. It didn't help much, however. "Oh, wait, now it does."
"You may also experience a little fever, usually 101 degrees or lower. Let's take your temperature, shall we?"
Lumpy nodded, then threw away his used tissue. Sniffles retrieved an oral thermometer from a first aid kit, then inserted the thermometer gently under Lumpy's tongue. He knew Lumpy was going to keep sniffling while his temperature was taken, so he handed him the box of tissues from earlier.
Indeed, as Lumpy waited, he sniffled some more. He pulled a tissue out from the box and gave his nose a series of cute wipes. Finally, the thermometer was finished, so Sniffles pulled it out and looked at the reading.
"Hmm, yes. Exactly 101 degrees," said Sniffles.
"Oh..." Lumpy said in disappointment. "Are there any other ways to tell I have the sdiffles?" His nose, still a little runny, kept him from saying the name of the illness correctly.
"No, that's pretty much it," Sniffles told him. He put the thermometer away. "Not to worry, though. Most cases go away after a few days have passed. I'd say three or four days, maybe a week?"
"Sounds like an awful lot of time to spend sdiffling..."
"Yes, but it'll get better on its own. For now, however, I suggest you lay down and get some rest. You can still move around, of course, but as with any illness, rest is important."
"Yeah, you're right," said Lumpy. "I think I'll lay down somewhere for a few binutes..." Another sniffle.
Sniffles placed his hand on Lumpy's shoulder and led him out of the lab. They proceeded through Sniffles' hallway, then up the stairs and finally the guest bedroom. The entire time, however, Lumpy sniffled repeatedly. He knew he had his tissues in his hand, but he didn't think to pull another one out and wipe his nose.
"You can rest in this bed," Sniffles said as he pointed to a single bed, sitting against the wall.
Lumpy weakly walked over to the bed, stepped in and pulled the dark red blanket over himself. His feet were sticking out at one end of the blanket, even as he lay his head down on the white polyester pillow.
"Don't worry, Lumpy. I'll make sure you're comfortable," Sniffles told him with a reassuring smile.
Lumpy smiled gratefully, but then a small amount of mucus began to ooze out of his nostrils. Embarrassed, Lumpy put his hand over his nose and sniffled loudly, trying to suck the mucus back up his nose.
Seeing that his nose had started to run more, Sniffles pulled out a bag that was labelled, "Handkerchiefs," and looked through it. After he'd scanned through the selection of pink, white, yellow and blue hankies, he selected a yellow one and handed it to Lumpy.
"I wouldn't suggest you blow too hard into these hankies," said Sniffles. "I don't want them to get too dirty..."
"I won't." Lumpy was referring to the first thing Sniffles said, but it was a good thing he knew. The sniffly moose wiped the mucus off his nose with the handkerchief, the cloth providing comfort to the end of his snout as he did so. Finally he handed it back to Sniffles. "But thank you."
"Oh, you're welcome." Sniffles placed the handkerchief back in the bag, then handed a different one to Lumpy. This one was white, looking just like one of the tissues Lumpy used so much.
Lumpy blew his nose gently into the white handkerchief, causing the lace-tipped edges to flutter about. As he lost his breath and stopped, he wiped his nose cutely with the hanky. He was feeling a bit better, but he could still feel some mucus on the insides of his nose.
"You know what I think you could use?" Sniffles asked. "A nice, warm bowl of soup."
Lumpy smiled at the idea as he continued to wipe his nose with the handkerchief in his hand. "That sounds like a good idea... and besides, I am a little hungry."
"Would you like me to make you some?"
"Yes, please." Lumpy sniffled. "But before you make it, I'd also like some water, please."
Sniffles smiled in understanding and walked out of the guest room. A couple of minutes later, he came back in with a cold bottle of water, which he handed to Lumpy. Lumpy opened it and drank some of it, sighing in relief afterward.
"Thank you," said Lumpy.
"Let me know if you need anything else," Sniffles told him, and then walked out of the room to prepare Lumpy's soup.
As Lumpy waited, he continued to sniffle and rub his nose. Sometimes he coughed or felt some soreness in his throat, so he drank some more of his water every few minutes. He also frequently pulled out a tissue and blew his nose into it, hoping it would clear his nose. It usually didn't work, however, and when it did, it was only for a few seconds or minutes.
Finally, Sniffles came back into the room with a tray that held a bowl of soup. He went up to Lumpy, who now sat up, and then Sniffles placed the tray on Lumpy's lap.
"I hope you like it," Sniffles said. "But more importantly, I hope it helps your sniffles."
"I hope so, too." Lumpy picked up the spoon, dipped it into the soup, then blew on it a few times and took it into his mouth.
He didn't know what kind of soup it was - beef-based soup, probably. But it did taste good. Lumpy continued to eat his soup, one spoonful after another, and he made sure to blow on it before each sip.
Finally, the bowl was empty, and he placed the empty spoon inside of it. With a sigh of relief, Lumpy lay back down in bed and took a couple of sniffles.
"Feeling better, Lumpy?" Sniffles asked.
"Not really, but that was some good soup," Lumpy replied. He placed his forefinger under his nose with another sniffle and a smile. "Thank you."
"Oh, you're welcome," Sniffles replied. "Is there anything else you'd like?"
"Well..." Lumpy tried to think as he sniffled again. "I guess I could use sobething to make me sdeeze..."
"Excuse me?" Sniffles asked, wanting to clarify. "You'd like me to make you sneeze?"
Lumpy nodded, blushing as he did so. "I haven't even felt a tickle id my dose the whole time I've had the sdiffles."
Sniffles smiled, then took a tissue and twisted one of its corners into a point. He gently inserted the tip of the tissue into Lumpy's nostril and wiggled it about slightly. Lumpy sniffled as his nostrils flared, but his expression told him he was anticipating such a sensation.
"It... it tickles..." Lumpy managed to say, before his breath started to hitch. "Aaah... Haaaaah..."
As Sniffles realized what was going to happen, he pulled the tissue right out of Lumpy's nose, then took a few steps back as he plugged his ears. Lumpy tilted his neck back with every inhale, his eyelids twitching until they eventually fell shut.
"Heehhhh... Ahhhhh... HaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH-" At last, Lumpy tilted his upper body as far back as it could go, and then exploded with three massive, earsplitting sneezes. "CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! TCHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! AAAAAAHHHHHH-CHIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Sniffles cringed as Lumpy released the sneezed, and cringed more still as he saw quite a good amount of mucus and saliva burst out of Lumpy's nose and mouth. As Lumpy recovered his breath, however, Lumpy sniffled loudly and rubbed his red, running nose with his forefinger.
"Oh, my!" Sniffles said to himself as he unplugged his ears and looked over at Lumpy. "Gesundheit, Lumpy!"
"Th-thadks..." Lumpy replied, still rubbing his nose. His voice sounded quite congested now. "Ad sorry about that..."
Sniffles calmed down and smiled at Lumpy. "Don't be sorry, Lumpy, all that matters is that I got your sneezes out." He handed Lumpy a few tissues, which Lumpy pressed against both sides of his snout as he blew his nose loudly deeply.
"Ah." Lumpy removed his tissues from his nose, balled them up and placed them aside. He took another tissue and wiped his nose with it, holding it with one hand. "Thank you, Sniffles."
"You're welcome, Lumpy," said Sniffles. Then he took a look out the window and saw that the sun was setting. "Looks like it's getting late. I think it's time you went to sleep." He tucked Lumpy into the bed, wanting to make him extra comfortable.
"Thanks for taking care of me, Sniffles," Lumpy said as he sniffled again. "I'm feeling a little better, but I'm not sure how long it'll be until I'm over my sniffles."
"Don't worry, Lumpy. I'll do whatever I can to make sure you recover." Sniffles gave Lumpy a warm hug, not afraid of catching the sniffles himself. "I promise."
Lumpy smiled and hugged Sniffles as well. When they let go, Lumpy yawned quietly into his hand and lay back down in bed. His eyes closed slowly, and before long, he was snoring peacefully. Sniffles quietly went over to the light, turned it off and walked out of the room, closing the door just as quietly.
Sniffles took a warm shower that night, then made himself dinner. Before going to bed, he fixed himself a potion that would improve his immune system lest he fell ill with what Lumpy had. The whole time, however, he thought about his friend, and what he would do to help him feel better tomorrow.
In the morning, he planned on spending some quality time with Lumpy, and fixing him some more soup for lunch, but he also thought about making Lumpy some hot chocolate the next evening. Hot drinks, he had read, were thought to be effective in treating colds and related illnesses, so he couldn't help but wonder why it wouldn't treat the sniffles. He would have to wait until tomorrow to find out, however.
"Feel better, Lumpy," Sniffles found himself saying as he lay down in his own bed. It was alright, however, because he would. Sniffles took off his glasses, turned off the light and went to sleep. From their respective rooms, he and Lumpy could both hear crickets chirping outside for the entire night.