Storytime: Neighbours.

December 6th, 2017

Once upon a time there was oh about a ton, a ton of troll, and that troll was named Lod. She lived on the hill, under the crag, under the crag her mother had lived in – she was the youngest child, and to her had passed the hearth. Every six years or so her siblings came home and they ate and sang and swore at each other, and had a very good time. Other than that, she was much on her own.
It was a pretty good life, for a troll. They’re solitary folk. Days drift by fast enough when routine’s at their heels, and as the body thinks its way through the chores the brain (the least essential organ in any animal) is free to waste its own time on its own dime.
The downside with routines is they make ruts. And you don’t see those until you step in them, as occurred to Lod one fine April when she stood up walked out her front door and fell six feet down onto screaming, bleating softness.
“Huh,” said Lod, scraping herself upright. Someone had removed a lot of dirt from the base of her hill and replaced it with some kind of scraped path, then filled it with….little terrified clouds? She picked one up – the one underneath her posterior – and gave it a snort. Smelled like food.
“Huh,” pondered Lod.
A chittering noise turned her thoughts outwards again. A very small and hideous creature was in front of her. Its eyes were bulging great fish-goggles; its skin a thin, stretched thing like a frog’s hide. Its mouth seemed soft and toothless, and its claws appeared to have been removed. Uneven patches of hair decorated its head only; the poor thing seemed mangy.
“Want some?” asked Lod.
The chittering continued, and Lod realized it was coming from the creature’s mouth. Clearly it was half mad with hunger.
“Poor sucker,” she said, and she tore the little cloud-animal in half and handed the other half to the small hideous creature only to watch it run down the path as if its feet were on fire.
“Strange,” considered Lod.
And that was the most words she’d said at once in three years.
Damn fine dinner, though.

The next day Lod was cleaning her hearth when a fearsome ruckus appeared outside her stoop – at midday, no less – a time when most folks are waiting for the sun to die down.
Lod stuck her nose out and sniffed. It smelled of fear and rage and petulance, and then her face followed her nose and oh look it was more of the little hideous things.
“Crud,” she said. “Can’t feed you all.”
They chittered most fiercely at her. They were brandishing sticks and things. Some of them were on fire, and some were pointy, and some were just sticks. Were they trying to build a nest or something?
“Try the hilltop,” she suggested. “No birds there for years.”
“T FRS S, KLL T,” howled one of the shaggier creatures.
“Cripes, quiet,” said Lod. “Take ‘em and go.”
And she rolled a few good fire-starter-stones down the hill at them, but the creatures ran away and just left them there. And they WERE good ones, have no doubt.
“Strange,” complained Lod.
All that strange was making her hungry, too.

The next day Lod lucked out. Wandered a little farther afield than usual – easy, too, with these weird paths everywhere – when’d THEY show up? – and found a whole bunch of those little cloud-animals. She took two (lunch and dinner) and was annoyed to find herself watched once more by the furtive, smelly, and heavy-breathinged creature she’d met two days before.
“Come on,” she yelled at it, waving a portion of cloud-animal leg above her head. “Feel free. Lots here. I can’t fit it all in.”
And it skedaddled again.
But not all the way. It followed her all the way home and hung around as she ate and finally she gave up and chucked the bones at it and it ran away squeaking.
“Strange,” fumed Lod.
And then.
“Nah. They’re being assholes.”
Lod had fourteen older siblings. She knew of what she spoke.

The fourth day was odder still. Once again Lod was awoken rudely in the depths of day the shrieks of the squishy creatures, but this time it was one making the noise of sixteen. It had covered itself in shiny rocks, and it wielded a very small and tremendously ineffectual stick that was so thin it was practically two-dimensional.
“Oh fuck off,” said Lod, whose manners, often-eroded since the death of her mother, were now exhausted.
“HV T TH,” hollered the thing, and it ran at her squeaking and waving the stick around.
Lod smacked it one and it fell over and stopped breathing.
“Oh SHIT,” she said, and she quickly applied the traditional troll medicinal remedy for a stopped heart, which was to tear open the patient’s chest and squeeze it until it started up again.
However, it transpired that the creatures had unusually bony ribcages and unusually soft hearts, and so the thing staunchly remained dead.
“Shit, shit, shit,” muttered Lod as she chewed this over.
In the end she dismembered the patient (reserving the longbones), placed it together with its complete skull in a small cairn on top of the crag, and hoped that by the end of the century it’d have slept it off and be able to walk home by itself.

For three days Lod enjoyed somewhat restful sleep.
And on the seventh day she was woken, and this time there were four of them and they had larger sticks.
“Hell with this,” said Lod. She stomped her feet three times, gave her tormentors the finger, and stepped into her hearth, which ignited instantly and consumed her down to a thick wisp of smoke.

She’d go visit her sister over the sea, maybe, or her brother in the forest. Tell them about whatever nonsense this was, tell them it was their problem now, and walk out. Mom’s house was NOT worth this shit.

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