It was morning in the Smurf Village. Papa Smurf was in his bedroom still asleep when there was a knocking on his door. "Papa Smurf?" a familiar voice called from outside.
Papa Smurf slowly lifted his eyes open when he heard the voice. "Who is it?" he asked.
"It's Empath," the voice answered. "This smurf needs you to answer the door for something important."
Papa Smurf stretched and yawned as he got himself out of bed. He climbed down the stairs into his laboratory and opened the door to see that Empath was waiting there, wearing jogging clothes. "Empath, what's the meaning of this?" he asked.
"Don't you know, Papa Smurf?" Empath said. "This is the day you're going to get yourself into shape."
"Smurf myself into shape?" Papa Smurf said, not believing what he was hearing. "I surely don't remember smurfing anything about needing a day to..."
"Dabbler Smurf begs to differ," Empath said, interrupting Papa Smurf. "He says that you need to get yourself in shape because you've been putting on some weight since the last time you had a checkup with him."
"Empath, I'm a busy Smurf," Papa Smurf said. "Can't we find some other time that we can smurf this?"
"This smurf already had a discussion with this smurf's fellow Smurfs, and they agreed to take care of important village tasks while you take the day off for your exercise regimen, Papa Smurf," Empath said. "Brainy can do some cleaning up of your laboratory, and Hefty can oversee important village tasks, and Tapper can take care of whatever Smurfs need a bit of counseling. Everyone else in the village will be fine without you for a day."
Papa Smurf sighed, realizing that he had no choice. "All right, Empath. Smurf me some time to prepare myself."
Empath handed Papa Smurf some jogging clothes. "This will be waiting right here until you're ready."
As Papa Smurf headed back inside his bedroom to change into the jogging clothes, Smurfette came walking by. "Hello there, Empath," she greeted. "Getting Papa Smurf ready for his day of workouts?"
"Papa Smurf senses a bit of reluctancy on his part, Smurfette, but this smurf is certain that he is willing to get through this day without a single problem," Empath responded.
"Well, I'm going to miss you at breakfast this morning, so don't oversmurf Papa Smurf with your workout routine," Smurfette said as she slipped him a kiss. "I'll see you later, Empath."
Shortly after Smurfette left, Papa Smurf emerged from his house wearing the jogging clothes. "So now what do we smurf with this morning, Empath?" he asked.
"We're going to start with a jog around the outer perimeter of the village, Papa Smurf," Empath answered. "This smurf will start off slow so you can build yourself up to a pace that you are comfortable with."
"Well, lead the way, Empath," Papa Smurf said as he closed the door to his house.
Empath started to jog, and Papa Smurf followed right behind him, trying to keep up with his son even though he was jogging at a slow pace so that Papa Smurf would not lag behind.
"Gosh, look, Dimmy, it's Empath and Papa Smurf," Clumsy said to his brother Dimwitty as they both saw the two of them jogging.
"I didn't know Papa Smurf had smurfed up jogging as of lately, Clumsy," Dimwitty commented.
"Uh, me neither," Clumsy said as the two of them looked on in wonder at Empath and Papa Smurf passing by them.
Empath saw Hefty, Tuffy, and Duncan McSmurf as they were doing their own jogging circuit around the village. "Salutations, my fellow Smurfs," Empath greeted as he came into range of the three other joggers.
"Greetings, laddie," Duncan said back to Empath. "Taking Papa out for a jog around the village, I see."
"How's he doing so far, Empath?" Hefty asked.
"He should be catching up with us right about now, Hefty," Empath answered. And surely as he said that, Papa Smurf was doing his best trying to keep up, though he seemed to be breathing hard as he was running.
"Not quite as fast as he used to be when we had Gargamel smurfing after us all around the forest now, is he?" Tuffy commented.
"You really want that evil wizard smurfing around here again, Tuffy?" Duncan asked.
"We could all use a bit more exercise to smurf ourselves out of any danger, you know," Hefty said. "It's not like we can always rely on old star-face to protect us from every sort of danger."
"Just the really big ones that even we as a group of Smurfs can't handle, Hefty," Tuffy said.
Empath and Papa Smurf were now passing by Handy, Miner, and Farmer as they were heading out to Farmer's fields to work on the irrigation system. "Smurf and begorrah, there goes Empath with Papa Smurf on a morning jog," Miner said as the three of them watched the two joggers pass by.
"Is it me, or is Papa Smurf do be smurfing shorter of breath in his old age?" Farmer asked.
"What do you expect with a Smurf who's only 549 years old, Farmer?" Handy replied. "I just hope I'm not in the same shape as him when I get to be that age."
Tapper was near the outskirts of the village doing his daily morning prayer when Empath and Papa Smurf passed by him. "O Lord God, the Heavenly Father, I pray for the sake of Papa Smurf, our beloved leader, that you would smurf his heart from all temptations of evil and that you would smurf him wisdom to guide us in our everyday living as You are the Good Shepherd that smurfs over your flock at all times. I ask You this in the name of Your only begotten Son. Amen."
"Empath...could you please slow down?" Papa Smurf requested, panting heavily.
"We're almost finished, Papa Smurf," Empath responded.
Empath and Papa Smurf continued their circuit around the village, passing by several more Smurfs that were just getting ready for their day, including Wheelie, who was busy delivering the morning newspaper while riding his unicycle around the village. Papa Smurf could feel his heart beating faster as he continued trying to keep up with his son.
Then finally, Empath said, "You can relax now, Papa Smurf. Our circuit around the village is finished."
Papa Smurf exhaled greatly as he and Empath slowed to a stop. "That was quite a workout there, Empath."
"We're not finished with the workout, Papa Smurf," Empath said as he continued to move around. "As soon as we are cooled down from the jog, we will be going into an exercise routine for the next thirty minutes."
"Another thirty minutes?" Papa Smurf said, sounding exasperated.
"You want to maintain good health in your later years, Papa Smurf, you should listen to what your physician is telling you," Empath said, trying not to sound like he was lecturing. "You'll get through it in fine shape, this smurf promises you."
Papa Smurf slapped his forehead in frustration.
At the breakfast table, the Smurflings had a question to ask the adult Smurfs that they felt needed an answer.
"Smurfette, do you know how creatures like woodelves, uh...smurf intimate with each other when they're alone and married?" Sassette asked.
"I'm not sure if anyone but Papa Smurf knows, Sassette," Smurfette answered. "Why do you ask?"
"Snappy was smurfing a little crude with his descriptions of how woodelves smurf intimate with each other, and I just want to know from someone who does know," Sassette explained.
"They're male and female, aren't they?" Snappy said. "They should smurf together like males and females do...you know, with the things Mother Nature smurfed them so they can smurf together secretly."
"But woodelves are not like other creatures in the forest, Snap, as I keep on smurfing you," Nat said. "They may be male and female, but that doesn't mean that they smurf babies into the world like other creatures do."
"Then why would Mother Nature make them male and female in the first smurf?" Snappy asked.
"I don't know...probably so that there's a mother and father in the families they smurf together," Slouchy guessed.
"Unfortunately, Papa Smurf is very busy with Empath this morning and will not be available to answer any Smurf's questions," Smurfette said. "So I'm afraid you're going to have to wait until tomorrow to ask Papa Smurf that kind of question."
"Perhaps this one may be of some assistance, since this one has studied on the various procreative practices of all types of creatures in this forest," Polaris Psyche offered when he overheard the conversation going on.
"And I thought Psyches have no interest in 'procreative activities', Polaris, unless you're trying to smurf something about yourself," Snappy jested.
"Seriously, Polaris, what can you tell about how male and female woodelves smurf intimate with each other?" Sassette asked, sounding curious.
"From what this one has learned from Papa Smurf, woodelves engage in what is called 'dream sharing', which is when two woodelves, each of opposite genders, enter the same dream together when they are asleep," Polaris answered.
"And that's it?" Snappy said. "There's no...physical activity smurfing on between them? That sounds boring."
"That's probably how Mother Nature intended for them to be intimate with each other, Snap," Nat said. "Why would you complain about that?"
"Because we know how Snappy wants to be intimate, and with whom, don't we?" Slouchy said with a suggestive smirk.
Smurfette giggled. "I'm afraid that I'm still too old for you Smurflings. You'll have to wait a while before you start smurfing an interest in Sassette if you're going to desire smurfing to be alone with somebody like that."
"Me, alone with Sassette?" Snappy said with some disgust. "I'd rather kiss her frog than kiss her face."
"What about you, Polaris?" Sassette wondered. "Do Psyches ever, uh...share dreams with each other?"
"That is what Psyches do, Sassette, although Psyches are only paired together as same-sex couples because the Psyche Master does not wish for Psyches to have intimate relations with each other, either for reproduction or for mere animalistic pleasure," Polaris answered.
"That just sounds so unnatural to be paired as same-sex couples, Polaris," Nat said with a hint of distaste in his voice.
"It sure doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me," Slouchy said.
"So you and Empath have been sharing dreams with each other in Psychelia," Snappy said, realizing what Polaris was saying. "Anything interesting smurfing on in those dreams that we should know about?"
"Snappy, that's a very rude question to ask of Polaris," Smurfette said, sounding displeased.
"What goes on between this one and Empath in our dream sharing experiences is something that neither this one nor Empath are willing to disclose to anyone else, Snappy," Polaris answered.
"Snap, you creep, why do you ask about what smurfs on between Empath and Polaris?" Nat asked, sounding bewildered. "Are you looking to smurf over Nosey's job as the village snoop?"
"I'm certainly not going to smurf in that direction, unless Tapper starts serving the hard stuff to Smurflings like us," Slouchy said with his eyes rolling.
"If he's serving anything like brain bleach, I'll have one too," Sassette said in agreement.
"I'm going to pretend like you never mentioned anything about 'dream sharing' between you and Empath if that's anything like I think they're thinking about, Polaris," Smurfette said.
"This one can remove that memory from your mind, if you so desire for not remember anything this one has said about the 'dream sharing', Smurfette," Polaris suggested.
"Uh, no thanks, Polaris," Smurfette said.
After breakfast, Polaris went on his daily routine to inspect all activities within the village to make sure everything went smoothly without any problems. Along his way, he met with Tapper and Duncan, the both of whom were carrying kegs of sarsaparilla ale from the distillery to the tavern to fill up the large keg that was hooked up outside the building.
"Smurf o' the morning to you, Polaris," Tapper greeted. "What smurfs to be on your mind today?"
"This one is concerned about Papa Smurf's state of mind, now that he's currently engaged with Empath in a day of physical regimen to maintain his fitness," Polaris said. "This one does not understand why Papa Smurf does not want to concern himself about his health issues at a time when it may be necessary for him to do so."
"Papa sure is a stubborn one when it comes to his own health, laddie," Duncan said. "I guess he doesn't like the fact that he isn't the young pup that he used to be."
"I would have to agree with Duncan on that, my fellow Polaris," Tapper said. "Being consmurfly reminded of one's age is not something that everybody wants to hear, but we are still mortal creatures even if we smurf the blessing of having longer lives than most, and all of us are still appointed to die and then smurf judgment for our lives at the hands of the Almighty who created us."
"This one only wishes that Papa Smurf wouldn't be so sensitive in regards to knowing his own age and mortality, Tapper," Polaris said. "This one would consider it a blessing for a Psyche to even live as long as the Psyche Master, though no one among us is certain of how long he has lived for."
"I can only wish to still be attractive to the young lassies as Papa Smurf was to that woodnymph who came to smurf with us several years ago when I get to be Papa Smurf's age," Duncan said.
"This one has heard of the female known as Flowerbell who seemed to be attracted to Papa Smurf when she came into the village during Empath's absence," Polaris said. "However, from what this one has heard about her interactions with Papa Smurf, her affections didn't seem to be as genuine as Papa Smurf thought they were."
"I'm afraid they weren't, Polaris, because she was originally smurfed by Lord Balthazar to smurf the heart of the wisest Smurf of all so he could capture him and make him smurf the evil lord's will," Tapper said. "However, she did come to care enough for Papa Smurf that she would help the Smurfs rescue him from Balthazar, but sadly it broke Papa Smurf's heart to know she didn't love him as much as he thought she did."
"Aye, that was a real sad moment for myself as well, because I honestly thought Flowerbell would be a keeper for Papa at his age," Duncan said.
"This one is at a loss to understand the attractions between people of both opposite sexes and different ages," Polaris said. "It would make more sense for those same people to be of the same age as each other in order to have attractions for each other."
"I don't understand it myself, my good Polaris, but that's how love smurfs sometimes, and other times it's just plain lust at smurf," Tapper said.
Just then, Empath passed by the three Smurfs, carrying Papa Smurf in his arms. "Clear the way! This smurf must get Papa Smurf to the infirmary immediately!" he cried out.
"Great Smurfiny Crickets, I wonder what's wrong with Papa Smurf," Tapper said.
"This one senses that Papa Smurf may have been overworked during his physical regimen or something worse," Polaris said. "This one will need to attend to Papa Smurf to make sure it is nothing serious."
"Michty me, laddie, I certainly hope that it isn't anything serious," Duncan said with some honest feeling as he watched Polaris follow after Empath.
The village was crowded around the infirmary as Dabbler and Empath examined Papa Smurf's physical condition, stripping him of his jogging clothes and putting him in a hospital patient's gown while they made the examination. Hefty and Polaris stood outside the infirmary to make sure the other Smurfs stayed outside.
"I'm not smurfing a heartbeat coming from Papa Smurf," Dabbler said as he listened for one by using his stethoscope.
"Then it's time to give him a psionic blast to jumpstart his heart, hopefully to get it beating again," Empath said.
"You sure that will be safe?" Dabbler asked. "That will smurf a lot of energy out of you to do so."
"We don't have time to argue about this, Dabbler," Empath said very forcefully. "Just let me smurf it!"
"Fine, but I'll tell Polaris to smurf the mindlink ready in case you need it," Dabbler said as he backed away from the bed and headed for the door.
Empath put his hands on Papa Smurf's chest and focused all his mental energy through his hands to emit a single burst. "Clear!" Empath shouted as he emitted the burst of energy through his hands into Papa Smurf, causing his body to jolt from the burst. Empath felt weak from the burst, but he couldn't sense a single heartbeat coming from Papa Smurf. He could also sense the Smurfs outside, hoping and praying for a miracle to happen.
Empath refocused all his strength to get a second burst ready to fire through his hands. "Again!" he shouted as he emitted another burst, causing Papa Smurf's body to jolt. This time, though, Empath could sense a heart beat coming from the village leader.
Dabbler returned to the bed as Empath collapsed to the floor, spent from having to emit all that energy through the psionic blasts. "How is Papa Smurf doing?" Dabbler asked, afraid to know.
"He...will recover, Dabbler," Empath managed to say.
Tapper, Duncan, Smurfette, and the Smurflings met up with Empath as soon as he regained his strength. "How's Pappy doing right now, Empath?" Sassette asked.
"He's resting, Sassette," Empath replied. "He needs to have a day of rest so that he can recover and then take it easy for a few days afterward."
"How did he smurf like this?" Smurfette asked. "Did you smurf him too hard during the day that he was supposed to do exercises with you?"
"This smurf tried not to overwork him, Smurfette," Empath answered. "It's probably because he hasn't had such a workout in his life that it just put too much of a strain on him."
"You should have smurfed easy on Papa nonetheless, laddie," Duncan said. "If he wasn't used to smurfing such a workout, he could have just smurfed the bucket right there."
"I'm sure that Empath smurfed the best he could to avoid that situation, my fellow Duncan," Tapper said. "The only thing we can smurf now is pray for a speedy recovery for Papa Smurf."
"Poor Papa Smurf," Nat said. "I hope Mother Nature will smurf him back on his feet and soon."
"Ah, don't worry so much about him, Nat," Snappy said. "He's Papa Smurf. He's tougher than he smurfs for his age."
"Not tough enough to avoid almost dying on us from a workout, Snap," Slouchy said solemnly.
"Empath, will Pappy Smurf really die?" Sassette asked, sounding really concerned.
"Not if we take good care of him, Sassette," Empath said assuringly. "There's nothing for you to worry about here. All he needs is just time to rest."
"But if he dies, doesn't that make you the next Papa Smurf around here?" Nat asked.
"Papa Smurf has appointed this smurf to be the next village leader in case he does pass away, Nat," Empath answered. "However, this smurf doubts that his death will happen anytime soon, except for the unexpected."
"I think that is one thing that we should smurf in the hands of the Almighty, my fellow Smurfs," Tapper said. "For now, we will let Papa Smurf have his rest and we will pray for his recovery."
"Whatever happens, Empath, I just want you to know that I'm proud for how you're handling this situation today," Smurfette said as she looked into his eyes.