Chapter 3

By the end of the day, Papa Smurf found Empath by the light of a nearby house, reading a book that Brainy let him borrow. Ever since Papa Smurf showed him the Smurf house of archives, which Brainy had tended masterfully, Empath found himself interested in the world of books. In fact, Brainy had never seen a Smurf who could read three to four books in a single day like Empath could. Of course, this was at a time before Empath had developed the ability of touching something and being able to sense what that object actually consisted of, which meant he could read an entire library in no more than a few hours' time.
Right now he was near the end of his fourth book when he yawned. "This smurf never thought that a day of learning what it means to be a Smurf would ever be this exhausting," he said as he closed his book and rubbed his eyes.
"You had a very busy day today, Empath," Papa Smurf reminded him as they both watched every Smurf come rushing back into the village to get ready for sleep after nightfall. "There's still so much about us that you will learn in time, but I don't want you to oversmurf yourself."
"Where will this smurf sleep, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked, curious.
"Well, I have already smurfed aside a bunk for you where Grouchy, Lazy, and Harmony are also sleeping," Papa Smurf answered. "I'm sure they won't have any problems having you smurf with them for the night." He led Empath to one of the houses near the center of the village after they watched the last Smurf enter his house. There Empath saw two sets of bunkbeds set up, with Harmony and Lazy getting ready to sleep in one set and Grouchy scowling as he stared up toward the top bunk while lying on his back in the bottom bunk of the other set. It reminded Empath of the sleeping quarters in Psychelia, where every student, instructor, counselor, and off-duty guardian were stationed to rest for the night -- except that the beds here looked more primitive and more comfortable.
"Empath is going to be smurfing on the top bunk tonight, Grouchy," Papa Smurf told him. "I hope you won't mind his company, since you usually want to smurf alone."
Grouchy simply didn't say anything, though he did feel a bit uneasy about Papa Smurf's decision. He just merely threw the covers over his head.
Empath took that as a positive sign, though it really didn't matter to him either way what Grouchy thought of his presence. He climbed up to the top bunk and settled himself under the blankets, which felt very thick and warm, as did the mattress underneath him and the pillow that supported his head. It was a far cry from the bunks he slept on when he was in Psychelia. "The Psyches never had much of a need for such comfort like this, Papa Smurf," he commented. Already he could feel his eyelids closing.
Papa Smurf smiled as he watched Empath drift off to sleep. "Smurf well, my little Empath. I will smurftainly see you again in the morning." He said goodnight to the other three Smurfs in the house before he blew out the light and left.

Empath had a hard time sleeping that night. Basically, he couldn't handle trying to sleep with three other Smurfs in the quarters he was sharing making all kinds of noises in their sleep. He found himself constantly tossing and turning, trying to shut out the sleeping noises in his head, and then everything became silent again as Empath found himself dreaming. It was something that he was not accustomed to doing when he slept in Psychelia, where the voices of the many Psyches could be heard in his head and yet did not disturb him in any way.
In his dream, Empath felt as if was back in Psychelia, but nobody he knew responded to his presence. He tried to speak to them, to reach out to them with his minds-eye, but the Psyches acted as if Empath didn't exist. Then the voice of the Psyche Master rang in his head very loudly and clearly: You have been disconnected from the link of your fellow Psyches. You are now alone in the custody of an outsider who does not respect the Psychelian way. You cannot function as a Psyche without the union of your fellow Psyches.
Empath found himself running away from Psychelia, with nobody to turn to, nowhere to go. The forest was big and he had no idea of how to navigate through it yet.
Then he heard a voice calling to him, a gentle voice that sounded like Papa Smurf's. "Empath, you must come home to the Smurf Village. It is here where you belong, for you are smurfed as one of us."
Empath found himself running through the forest, directed toward the sound of Papa Smurf's voice. He saw the village up ahead, and Papa Smurf waiting for him with open arms.
He then found himself embracing Papa Smurf, feeling somewhat comfortable in his presence.
But then he felt something very strange happening. Papa Smurf's breathing got way too heavy, his hands felt way too rough, and his body became more grotesque and hairy as it quivered.
Empath suddenly backed away and saw that Papa Smurf had changed into a beastlike creature, looking at Empath with glazed eyes and a drooling tongue.
"Don't smurf away from us, Empath," he said in the same gentle tone which now had a hint of wickedness in it. "You are now one of us…embrace your true self and let us show how much of a Smurf you truly are!"
Empath felt too frightened. He backed himself even further away from this hideous form that was Papa Smurf. He would not let such a grotesque being like him touch him again.
But as he backed away, he felt another hand suddenly touch him from behind…

"Empath! Empath, wake up!" a familiar voice called out.
Empath was startled by the cold touch of a naked hand on his shoulder, shaking him. He immediately woke up and found Papa Smurf standing over him, looking concerned. He also found himself not in the top bunk of that house where Lazy, Grouchy, and Harmony were sleeping in, but in Papa Smurf's house where he had a spare bed set up.
"Papa Smurf!" Empath exclaimed, sounding very surprised and confused. It took him a while to realize that it was now morning.
"Take it easy, Empath," Papa Smurf consoled. "You're not the first Smurfling to smurf the night in my house like that, nor are you the only Smurfling I had trouble waking up for breakfast. I can smurf that you're not used to this kind of thing happening to you in Psychelia now."
Empath had to agree to that, though it puzzled him as to why. "This smurf never had trouble sleeping before in Psychelia, Papa Smurf. It was not this smurf's intention of invading your personal space, though somehow this smurf felt alone and isolated without your presence being nearby. This smurf does not understand this feeling."
"You're only experiencing what every other Smurfling has experienced before when it comes to smurfing alone at night, Empath," Papa Smurf explained. "Some Smurfs find it easy to smurf with something by their side to keep them company, while others are able to smurf by themselves without being scared by the night. In time you will get used to it."
"This smurf is not sure that this smurf will ever truly understand what it means to be a Smurf, Papa Smurf," Empath stated as he jumped out of bed and walked with Papa Smurf toward where the Smurfs were busy eating their breakfast. "However, this smurf does not appreciate having any part of his exposed self being touched by any part of another being's exposed self."
Papa Smurf felt himself taken aback by that comment. It made his awakening Empath from his sleep seem less than innocent, even though he would never do anything to hurt Empath. He just hoped it was something from Empath's early training in Psychelia that he could someday overcome in the presence of other Smurfs.

Over breakfast, Empath had described to Papa Smurf the sensation he had about actually being back in Psychelia when he has asleep, and how it didn't feel the same now that he was disconnected from the link of the Psyches.
"Sounds like you've just had a dream, Empath," Papa Smurf answered. "It's what almost every Smurf here has whenever they fall asleep. Dreams usually are used to express what each Smurf is thinking in their own minds and can be either good or bad."
"This smurf felt as if everything this smurf experienced in the dream was real, Papa Smurf," Empath described. "To find out that it was not real at all is very disturbing."
"Sometimes when we dream, we can never tell the difference between whether we're fully awake or asleep," Papa Smurf explained. "Just remember that nothing can ever hurt you in a dream, and if you ever have a very disturbing dream, you can always talk to me about it."
Empath felt too uneasy about telling Papa Smurf that he had a dream about the village leader turning into some vile and disgusting creature. He decided he would rather not talk about it and instead brought up something else.
"The books in your archives house are very interesting and informative, Papa Smurf. This smurf has only read four books so far, and already through what this smurf read, this smurf is fascinated by what this smurf learned about your people. The Smurfs seem to be a very expressive group of people with a rich history of not being afraid to share their creative side with anyone. The Psyches would truly envy the many things that have been achieved by your people."
"I'm glad that you are more interested in us, Empath," Papa Smurf complimented, "but don't forget that you are a Smurf as well, and someday you may be able to contribute to the history of what's also your own people, and not be afraid to express yourself."
Right now Empath still felt bound to being emotionless, not being able to express himself in any manner except as being like a Psyche.
Just then, Hefty came to Papa Smurf's seat at the eating table. "Good morning, Papa Smurf," he greeted, seeming happy until he realized that Empath was sitting next to him.
"Good morning, Hefty! You seem to be ready to smurf out the daily tasks!"
"Like you said, Papa Smurf, nothing gets you smurfing like good hard work! You still trying to smurf Empath everything about the Smurfs?"
"Actually, I thought that today you can use Empath's assistance in smurfing the more difficult tasks in the village," Papa Smurf suggested, then turning to Empath. "That is, if you don't mind smurfing what Hefty wants you to smurf."
Empath nodded. "This smurf will be honored to help out this smurf's fellow Hefty, Papa Smurf."
Hefty rolled his eyes, not believing how eager this newcomer Smurf sounded. He watched as Empath brought up his plate, cup, napkin, and eating utensils to be washed by Greedy's kitchen helpers before returning to him.
"Just remember, newcomer, that when you smurf under me, you're no different from any other Smurf," Hefty stated, sounding somewhat intimidating, though Empath didn't really notice that. He rolled out a scroll that contained a list of various tasks in the village that needed to be completed, looking for something suitable to give Empath to do. He smiled when he found that something in particular.
"Since you're such a brown-smurfer with Papa Smurf, I have just the thing that will keep you busy this morning," Hefty said with a slightly twisted smile.

Empath felt somewhat disgusted that he had to be chosen to help Sloppy and Grouchy clean out all the waste from the outhouses in the village. He and Grouchy both wore clothespins on their noses so that they wouldn't faint at the foul smell of the bluish-brown gloppy mess that piled in the wheelbarrow Sloppy was steering around, and they also wore gowns and gloves so that nothing they shoveled out would get on their clothes. But as disgusted as he felt on the inside, Empath did his best not to show it.
"This smurf would wish to know where all this waste is going after the outhouses have been cleaned, Sloppy," Empath asked.
"Oh, yeah," Sloppy answered, "this all smurfs over to Farmer's workshed, where he smurfs it all into one big compost pile that he smurfs into the soil to smurf up all the food we eat. Isn't that so wonderful or what?"
"I hate smurfing out this stuff!" Grouchy grumbled, wiping his brow after he had shoveled out the last bit of glop.
"Why is it that you do not need to wear such protective clothes for doing such a job like this, Sloppy?" Empath asked, trying not to think about what all this stuff was being used for.
"Hey, smurfing out the outhouses doesn't bother me, Empath," Sloppy shrugged. "I just happen to like trash a whole lot more than your fellow Smurf, and nothing here gets wasted because it all smurfs somewhere." He smiled as he saw Empath and Grouchy close up the trap door to the outhouse. "Come on, we need to get six more outhouses cleaned so that Farmer would have some real smurfy fertilizer!"
"I hate smurfing fertilizer!" Grouchy muttered as he and Empath followed Sloppy and the wheelbarrow.

"That do be a good job you three Smurfs have smurfed for my crop fertilizer," Farmer commented as Sloppy, Empath, and Grouchy emptied the contents of their wheelbarrow into the mushed-up pile of leaves and other refuse near his workshed. Farmer noticed that Empath was among the three doing this kind of work. "Somehow, I just can't for the smurf of me imagine you being smurfed to do this task, Empath," he added.
"This smurf is honored to help out this smurf's fellow Smurfs in any way possible, Farmer, regardless of the task," Empath told him.
Farmer chuckled at Empath's response. "This isn't an army you're smurfing with here. I won't salute you if you won't salute me."
Empath felt somewhat awkward. "This smurf is not used to the casualness of the interaction between this smurf's fellow Smurfs, Farmer," he explained.
"Well, don't you be worrying about that," Farmer said, not sounding offended. "You know, I could smurf a little help out here in the fields today, and I am short of one hand today because of Clumsy. How about smurfing me a hand out here?"
"This smurf would be honored to help, Farmer," Empath answered, sounding eager but somewhat restrained in his enthusiasm. Then he turned to see that Grouchy was no longer with them. "Now where did Grouchy depart to?" he asked out of curiosity.
Farmer sighed. "Getting him to smurf some work out in the fields is like trying to smurf teeth from his mouth, Empath," he said. "But as long as he doesn't do anything unsmurfy to anybody, you shouldn't worry too much about him."
Empath look a long last look in that direction before he joined Farmer.