Chapter 4

Soon the six Smurfs made their way to the top of the mountain that they all thought was the best one for skiing down.  The Smurflings were all ready to go down the slope with their feet strapped into their boards while Empath and Smurfette were still fastening the straps on their skis.
"Last Smurfling down the hill is an ugly old wizard named Gargamel," Snappy called out as he pushed himself off and started sliding, challenging his playmates.
"And may that last Smurfling be Snappy," Nat shouted as he followed Snappy.
"Smurfabunga!  Eat my snowflakes, you two!" Sassette yelped, being the third to go down.
Slouchy found himself to be the last to start, though that didn't seem to bother him much.  "Oh, well, here smurfs nothing," he calmly said as he pushed himself off.
"You Smurflings be careful smurfing down that hill!" Smurfette called out as she put her gloves back on and grabbed her ski poles.  She sighed, feeling like a doting parent or a put-upon babysitter.
"This smurf is certain that they will be watching out for each other, Smurfette," Empath assured her, sensing how she felt.  He placed his ski goggles on his face as Smurfette did the same.  "So, you ready to show this smurf how well you ski down a hill?"
Smurfette laughed.  "You won't feel mad that you'll be smurfed up by a girl Smurf, now would you?" she teased.
"You're hardly being fair, Smurfette," Empath replied.  "You would seriously think this smurf would try taking advantage of this smurf's third eye to win?"
"Maybe, but it'll be interesting anyway," Smurfette said.  She suddenly looked down at Empath's feet.  "By the way, Empath, one of your ski straps is unsmurfed!"
Empath looked down at his feet, trying to find out which one it was.  "Where?"
Smurfette giggled as she pushed herself off downhill, zooming away from Empath and getting a good head start.  "Try to smurf up to me if you can!" she called back.
Empath looked at Smurfette, feeling duped.  For a female Smurf, she sure knew how to play a good practical joke on him like Jokey.  Only she was better at it because he can never really see into her mind just what it is she's plotting.
He smiled wickedly, knowing right then it was time to get even with her.
"You won't get very far with that, Smurfette!" Empath called down as he started his way down the mountain.  He could feel his heart beat faster with the excitement of increased speed as he deftly navigated each sharp turn, avoiding the occasional outcropping of a rock or shrub along the way.  Next to flying, skiing was one of the things Empath enjoyed while moving really fast, though here all he needed was a good steep hill and his skill as a skier to get himself going downhill really fast.
Smurfette was almost halfway down when Empath finally caught up with her.  He looked back briefly at Smurfette as he passed her and then continued on his way.  There was no way that she could catch up to him now.
But then, Empath saw Smurfette going off a rise up ahead, propelling her skyward and past him before she landed flawlessly back on the ground, surprisingly unhurt but thrilled by surviving the unexpected jump.  Empath had slowed himself down near the rise to see Smurfette jumping off it, but in so doing he found himself being dumped on by a pile of snow that Smurfette had knocked loose.  Some of the snow fell on his goggles, preventing him from seeing any further.  Before he knew it, Empath took a spill and landed in a snowbank, amazingly with nothing broken but one of his ski poles.
Empath removed the goggles from his eyes and looked down the hill where Smurfette and the Smurflings would be waiting for him.  Somehow he knew they would be laughing at Empath's failed attempt to beat Smurfette down the mountain.
"Great Ancestors," he finally said in awe.  "She is definitely the best skier around!"
He quickly fixed his broken ski pole using his third eye and his hands to fuse it back together before skiing the rest of the way down to join them.

Meanwhile, inside the beach setting of the Imaginarium, while all the other Smurfs were busy swimming, sunning, or just playing in the sand, Brainy and Clumsy were on the beach talking with each other.
"Golly, Brainy, them girls in the Imaginarium sure are a sight for sore eyes," Clumsy said, unable to take his eyes off one of them doing what appeared to be a hula dance in front of several other Smurfs that also couldn't take their eyes off her.
"I don't know, Clumsy," Brainy groaned. "I mean, this Imaginarium is definitely one invention that will go down in Smurf history as the most profound form of entertainment that ever existed, but there seems to be a real lack of intellectual stimulation here.  Isn't there anyplace that you would rather be right now than just smurfing time staring at some artificial recreation of a female Smurf?"
"Gee, Brainy, I can only think of one place that I'd rather be than here," Clumsy answered, scratching his head while trying to imagine where that somewhere else would be.  Then Brainy watched as Clumsy disappeared from his sight, which spooked him just a little bit, but then it inspired him to do something nonetheless.
"Well, if Clumsy can imagine somewhere else to be than on the beach, then it should be no problem for a Smurf of my higher level of intelligence to try doing the same," Brainy said to himself.  He pondered for a moment, and then it hit him.  "I know where to go now!"
As Brainy imagined that place, he also disappeared from the beach.

By the middle of the afternoon, Empath, Smurfette, and the Smurflings had their fill of skiing and snowboarding down the mountain.  The Smurflings were complaining that they were getting hungry, and Smurfette herself wanted to take a break with a hot steaming cup of sarsaparilla noodle soup.  Empath was just a little disappointed that Smurfette's skill in skiing had outmatched his own, but he was willing to settle the score with her the next time.  He decided to lead the group back to the village, hoping that by the time they got there, Greedy would be in his kitchen making some hot soup and Tapper would be behind the counter at his tavern ready to serve his hot treebark brew.  More importantly to Empath, he wanted to hear from his fellow Smurfs about the Imaginarium and the many places it had taken them to.
However, when they arrived, Empath, Smurfette, and the Smurflings found the village empty.  Apparently there was nobody there except for Puppy, who looked like his fellow Smurfs had abandoned him.  "Puppy, what's wrong?  Where's the other Smurfs?" Nat asked.
Puppy whimpered out an answer that only the Smurflings understood.
"You mean nobody's been out here since they smurfed inside the Imaginarium?" Snappy asked, not believing what he heard.  "I know that place is real smurfy, but I had no idea they would be so addicted to it."
"Sounds to me like they're unable to leave," Slouchy suggested.
"Oh, dear!" Smurfette moaned. "We'd better get to the Imaginarium and find out!"
The six of them went inside the meeting house, where they saw the Imaginarium crystals glowing so brightly and letting off what appeared to be electrical charges, as if they had been overloaded.  Empath touched one of the crystals briefly and pulled his hand immediately away, feeling how hot it was.
"These crystals are charged with too much energy," Empath said, rubbing his hand. "At the rate the energy level is increasing, the crystals will completely fracture within the next few hours."
"Oh, great!" Snappy howled. "And all the grownup Smurfs are still inside their fantasies."
"Not to mention Baby Smurf!" Slouchy added.
"Can't we just smurf inside one of their fantasies and smurf them out, Empath?" Sassette asked.
"This smurf could try," Empath answered.  He stood before the big crystal in the center of the room and tried to imagine the first fantasy world he had been in -- the beach -- but as hard as he tried to imagine that place, the room didn't change.
"This smurf could not get inside," Empath reported.
Smurfette and the Smurflings each tried to do the same.  And they also couldn't make the room change, either.
“Oh, that’s great!” Snappy groused. “Now we’ll never get Greedy to smurf us some lunch!”
“Uh, maybe he’s smurfing this fantasy of eating a giant smurfasbord of food right now,” Slouchy humored, though it really wasn’t helping the situation any.
“So what do we do now to smurf in there and smurf them out?” Nat asked.
“Papa Smurf and Handy may have smurfed notes about the Imaginarium when they desmurfed the thing,” Smurfette offered.
“That would be this smurf’s thought as well, Smurfette,” Empath replied. “We must go into their houses to find out anything and everything about the Imaginarium to solve this problem.”
“I can smurf into Handy’s workshop and search there with Sassette and Slouchy while you, Snappy, and Nat smurf through Papa Smurf’s laboratory,” Smurfette suggested.
“Wait a minute, Smurfs!” Snappy shouted. “What about lunch?”
Empath looked at Snappy sternly, not wishing to get angry but realizing that this was an emergency situation and there was very little time to do much else.
“Snappy?!?” he intoned.
“Okay, okay, I’ll go smurf up some PB&J for everybody,” Snappy sighed. Sassette decided to go with Snappy and prepare some sandwiches in Greedy’s kitchen while the other four Smurfs headed off to find the answers to the Imaginarium.
"And please make sure Puppy gets fed!" Smurfette called out to Snappy.