Part two of my latest short story

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So, what’s next?

It had been two days since Ansell’s consignment had been delivered to him. His heart rate dropped to its normal level as his paranoia died away.

Every time he looked at its beautiful face, he convinced himself that it was pleading with him to be allowed to stay. So, what’s next? The world had not invaded his home. Unless he took it outside, his secret was safe. No one beyond his front door knew what he had bought because he never had visitors. Finally Ansell decided not to go on torturing himself any longer…

Having made up his mind to keep it, he spent several hours studying the instruction manual once again. This time with it sat on his lap with its head resting on his shoulder. As he read and re-read each part of the instruction manual, absent mindedly he began stroking its hair. He almost had a heart attack when it moaned in ecstasy! Ansell dropped the instruction manual. As he rose from his chair in a blind panic, his purchase fell against the coffee table, letting out a cry of pain. How could this be? As far as he knew he hadn’t activated it…

Regaining his composure he picked it up and sat it in his chair. “I don’t understand,” he began. “I haven’t activated you?”

Then she turned towards him…

Gone was the stationary stare of a lifelike doll. Life itself now shone in her bewitching green eyes. “I self-activated when you removed me from the package and carried me so gently in your arms. I just knew you would always be kind Ansell.”

“Good god you can talk!”

“Of course I can.”

“How did you know my name?”

“While you were sleeping last night I accessed your laptop. By checking every internet site you frequent I was able to learn a lot about you, including your name.”

Feeling a little uncomfortable about her background investigation of him he asked, “but why didn’t you say anything before I dropped you? I hope you weren’t hurt when you fell. How can you self-activate? Do you have a name?”

“I was given the name Maya on the day you ordered me. Yes I do feel physical pain. But I also feel physical and emotional pleasure. As for how I self activated, let me explain.” For the next two hours Ansell listened totally enthralled by what Maya revealed about herself. What really blew his mind was when she explained that while most sex bots are pre-programmed only with a limited range of vocal responses to encourage the user, in her case, because she is a high-end unit, she is a virtual intelligence. Which meant that she is fully self-aware. “There is one other thing Ansell.”

“Anything.”

“I would like clothes to wear other than what I’m nearly wearing at the moment which is only appropriate for the bedroom. But you must choose them. It would not be right for me to choose a wardrobe.”

“Why not?”

“I am your sex bot. You must cloth me in what you would like me to wear.”

“But you’re not my sex bot are you? You are a sentient being.” Ansell replied with a smile on his face. “Why don’t we choose what you want to wear together?” With Maya seated on his lap once more, this time with her arms around him, he opened his laptop and between them they internet shopped. In a few days the clothing they chose would arrive. For the rest of the day they got to know each other.

The next morning when Ansell opened his eyes, Maya lay with her head on his chest and her arms wrapped around his neck while she continued to recharge from her plug-in power supply. Ansell was still thinking about when they made love hours earlier before he fell asleep in her arms totally exhausted, but deliriously happy for the first time in his life. He hoped she felt the same way. “To answer your unspoken thought my love – yes I do. Can I get you breakfast? What would you like?”

“How about you on toast?” Maya giggled and kissed his cheek as she rose out of bed and went to the kitchen.

A year went by. Because of her Ansell had come out of his shell. Maya was everything he had ever wanted. He worshipped the ground she walked on. Ansell often encountered her humming to herself with a smile on her beautiful face while either doing housework or preparing a meal for her man. By now they loved each other. Niether could imagine life without the other. Unforseen circumstances would be a test of their resolve to be together…

~~~

Watch out for part three soon.

😉

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This is your last chance. The offer closes tomorrow.

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Just to remind you that the £0.99p offer on the above fantasy anthology ends tomorrow. After that if you want a copy it will have to be at the full price £2.99 from then on…

Food for thought from my friend Bob Van Laerhoven…

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Hi,

Is “Return to Hiroshima” still relevant in this era? Decide for yourself after reading this guest post on Toe Six Press:

Click: https://t.co/3kV3SBoBeE?amp=1 

Or read:

Author Article: Literature Resonates by Bob Van Laerhoven

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Lately, many people ask me if I think literature is still meaningful in this era of rapidly progressing digital technology: fast changing communication, the many ways of experiencing movies, streamed television series and news.

Literature does matter in our time. In any era.

I’ll explain this with an example of my own work.

Return to Hiroshima is my latest novel in English. As the first city ever struck by a nuclear bomb, Hiroshima became an iconic symbol. A novel with that city in the title inevitably refers to that moment in time that changed human history forever.

Why write a work of fiction in which the nuclear detonation plays such an important role? It’s easier, and faster, to stream a documentary about the subject, or to be carried away by watching an after-the-bomb movie.

That would make us informed, correct?

In a way, yes, but, in my eyes, literature has an added value. It can provoke in us an empathic understanding of the consequences of nuclear warfare.  That’s something else than being informed.

Moreover, are we as informed as we think we are? The answer is a bone-dry “no”. Mass-media and social networks spread “news bytes” every second around the globe but have desensitized us to a certain degree to the deeper meaning – or consequences – of the experience behind information.

What do you think about the heightened possibility of a WWIII, which has been all over the news lately?

***

Tensions are on the rise. A new World War is nearer than ever since the end of the Cold War. Democratic regimes seem to loose the battle against dangerous demagogic populists and dictators: Kim Jong-un in North Korea, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Vladimir Putin in Russia,  and Viktor Orbán in Hungary, to name but a few.

Never before was the turbulent Middle East such a chaos of shifting alliances and growing animosity.  Iran and Saudi-Arabia are competing for hegemony in the region and build nuclear facilities that can be used to produce nuclear weapons. The US, Russia, and Turkey – with China looming at the horizon – support different factions in the civil war in Syria… They are allies today and enemies tomorrow. No-one seems to have a sound strategy, a solution, for the region.

It’s obvious that the seemingly endless Syrian civil war could become the trigger of a new worldwide conflict. The airstrike in April of the coalition of US, UK and French forces on the chemical weapon installations of Bashar al Assad’s regime triggered so much international unease that the most important question for the coming  months (years?) seems to become: how close are we to WWIII?

People tend to react to this question with a curiously abstract resignation. When prodded a bit, they usually confess that they can’t fathom how it would be, a nuclear conflict across the globe. Usually they end the conversation with an uneasy, “They won’t let it come that far, will they? I can’t imagine they would.“

***

One of the problems of the modern digital society is precisely that mass-media and social networks have wreaked havoc on our ability to use our imagination. As a result, the all too real possibility of a nuclear WWIII seems inconceivable.

And that, my dear friends, is truly dangerous. Our leaders are not smarter, wiser, or more mature than we are. And they sure do not have more imagination… except in one area – their endless dreams of their growing power.

This is the point where literature can step in. You may have trouble imagining what a nuclear conflict would be like, but literature can.  Moreover, it does this on a one-on-one basis.

A one-on-one basis in this era of mass-communication? Do I hear your Gargantuan laugh booming?

I like movies and television series, even games and social networks, as much as anybody. But I notice that, when spending too much time with these media, my level of thinking is reduced to a receptive, confined mode. The essence of a story often slips away from me like water from a seal.

This is not the case when I read. A novel resonates within me. Words can convey sensations that even the most sophisticated visual media cannot. Words can vibrate with layers of meaning, they can produce flashes of feeling (which is different than experiencing emotion), and they can make the reader emotionally receptiveThe power to step into the story, not wandering on the outskirts of it, is readily available.

I know, I know: you’ve heard this story before. Since the advent of mass-media, countless philosophers and artists have hammered on similar reasoning. You’re probably sick and tired of being advised to read fiction. Why should you, when watching movies is so much easier?

You may argue reading novels takes time, a certain effort, which is getting more difficult with every minute. Stress on the job, stress in traffic-jams, stress at home with children. Stress of not having posted a witty message on Facebook for two days…..

You have every right to think so, but in my view, literature, more than any  other art-form or entertainment, gives you the opportunity to interrogate yourself about the meaning of life: what exactly power or wealth is, how the world is evolving, what kind of society we live in…. The list is endless.

To interrogate yourself is a lot different than being shown what it is all about.

It’s not per se better.

But definitely different.

***

I admit willingly that I present the situation rather black-and-white in this post. But so is the question I hear so often: do you really think that literature can offer something more than, say, Netflix? It’s nearly always about who or what wins, not about differences. We don’t like differences anymore; we want to see winners and losers.

And that, dear friends, is a dangerous attitude, won’t you agree?

So, as an experiment, try something different. Watch a thrilling, shocking movie about the consequences of a nuclear conflict. There are a lot of gripping movies about that theme out there.

And, afterwards, read a novel about the same subject. There are a lot of gripping, passionate novels out there with this theme.

I want to share a few lines with you from Return to Hiroshima, a story set in Japan in 1995. In one of the chapters, a Seizon-cha, a survivor of the nuclear bomb called “Little Boy”, recalls some of the scenes he witnessed and could never forget.

***

A woman staggered past the burning buildings with a baby in her arms. The heat had caused the baby’s skin to peel. He was limp and motionless in her arms.

A man tugged at the body of a teenager buried under the rubble. The boy’s skull was cracked open and brain tissue was hanging out of the wound. He had lost his right eye. He was calling out for his mother, his voice clear and steady. The man had pulled away enough rubble to see that both legs had been crushed. He tried to lift the boy. He succeeded. He continued on his way, the boy motionless in his arms.

A girl, blood gushing from her mouth, stumbled through the ruins of a school. Hands shot up from the rubble, bloody and smoldering. They tried to grab the girl by the ankles. Voices begged: “Take me with you, take me with you!” In panic she kicked at the hands and ran on, her arms outstretched as if she was blind.

Hundreds of people tried to reach the river Aioi. They screamed for help, lost direction in the ash-filled clouds of smoke, and fell exhausted to the ground before they could reach the banks of the river and baked like clay stones in the raging fire.

                                                                 ***

How did this excerpt make you feel?

Reading literature resonates.

Here’s your chance for a damned good read!

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For lovers of lighthearted British fantasy, in this case an anthology of thirty linked tales about a family of friendly Southern Woods goblins, from today Thursday the third of May, you can get your discounted copy of Goblin Tales from Amazon.co.uk for just £0.99 per copy. The offer extends until May the tenth.

It’s short story time again…

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Eye of the Storm

“What ye got there, give it me, give it me now blast yer eyes,” One Eye snarled, as he snatched the pretty bauble from my grip.

Ever since I had become his unwilling slave aboard this stinking, barely seaworthy, ancient pirate hulk a few months ago when his captain and crew captured our ship, One Eye had made my existence sheer hell. No matter what I did to please him it was never enough. Whenever I found something I thought I could call my own he instantly took it from me. He constantly beat me, telling me that it, was for my own good. “Now get below and fetch me vittles – quickly now blast yer eyes, else ye’ll be sorry!”

I scurried below, relieved to be out of his cruel reach, however briefly. I searched among the debris of the food locker and the bilge.

“To hell with him!” I muttered to myself.

My own hunger came first as I gnawed on some old brick hard, weevil ridden sea biscuits and on the half consumed remains of a wheel of mouldy cheese that had fallen between the loose planks of the locker’s deck, into the bilge below.

“Where’s me vittles blast ye?” One Eye bellowed down to me through the open hatch.

I hurried back above to where he sat belching and picking his teeth, carrying as much of the cheese and sea biscuits as my young arms would allow. One Eye bit into one of the sea biscuits and broke a tooth.

“Ye young spalpeen, when I get’s me hands on yer I’ll flog yer to the backbone! I’ll rip yer gizzard out! I’ll skin yer alive and eat yer innards so I will!”

I didn’t wait around, but ran quickly back down below into the stinking darkness of the bilges; at least down here I was safe from One Eye’s murderous wrath. He was far too fat and lame to chase after me and because of the loss of his eye a few years back, his vision was seriously impaired.

The old hulk ominously creaked and groaned as it wallowed its way through the choppy seas. High above on the main deck, despite the howling wind, I heard the mate shout the command to shorten sail. Even down here I knew a storm was brewing by the way the hulk rode the seas.

I peered through the crack in the deck planks above my head towards the open hatch. My ears strained for any audible sign that One Eye was hunting for me. But all I heard from him was a low moan and a lot of muttered curses at the loss of the one good tooth left among the jagged stumps in his savage blackened mouth.

A strangely familiar odour wafted past my nostrils. Somewhere down here was some long forgotten discarded salt beef. Hunger took over my soul, temporarily freeing my mind from my fear of One Eye, I began searching along the entire length of the old hulk’s bilges.

I eventually found it slopping in the fetid water of the bilge directly below the captain’s quarters. The decking of his cabin was as loose as all the other timbers aboard this floating coffin. The salt beef must have fallen through the cracks. Here at last was a chance to fill my belly beyond One Eye’s reach. Thankfully, the stinking water trapped here had washed most of the salt away.

As I sat on my haunches savouring the exquisite delights of the salt preserved beef, a commotion above my head caused me to stop chewing mid mouthful and listen.

“Beg pardon Cap’n, ye need to come on deck, we’re too close to the rocks and the storm is gettin stronger by the minute, we daresn’t continue on our present course!” the mate’s voice quivered in fear.

“Storm sail mister mate, rig the storm sail. Order aback blast ye and bring her bow round across the wind d’ye understand mister!”

“Aye Cap’n.”

The old hulk began to scream in protest as the gathering storm intensified. I returned to my feast of beef. Three bells signalled the hour. The sound of men fighting flailing rotting canvas and frayed rope as the storm intensified, drifted down to where I sat in the dark.

The storm grew stronger. The old hulk’s timbers creaked and slowly her planks began to spring under the strain.

“Avast below – rocks! Rocks on the port beam!”

Even before the lookout aloft had screamed out his warning to all aboard I was rapidly returning aft, back to the locker as fast as my legs would carry me. Water was rising below me as I climbed up the ladder to where One Eye sat still nursing his mouth.

Despite the fact that I hated him more than any other being alive, I shouted out to him as I grabbed the pretty bauble he had taken from me earlier.

“We’re foundering yer old tyrant, time to abandon ship – come on blast yer, lest yer want to drown!”

~~~

The morning arrived and the sea was calm once more. A graceful ship of the line hove into view from around the southerly point of the bay and sailed slowly through the wreckage that bobbed up and down on the morning tide. All along the shore the splintered wreckage of the ship she had been hunting could be seen. The bodies of its crew lay face down in the sea. Eagle eyes searched the rocky shore for any signs of survivors. A skiff was launched and the captain and some of his crew went ashore.

“Good morrow sir.”

“And to you sir,” the captain replied as he shook the local Revenue man’s hand.

“The Black Bess has led me a merry dance sir. I’ve been chasing her for months since her captain Red John and his scurvy crew boarded the packet that carried my dear wife and only child home from Gibraltar sir – damn his eyes!” The captain’s head lowered in grief, already realizing the sad truth.

“Sadly your wife and child are not here good sir, only the bodies of his crew. I found this locket on the beach sir; would it belong to your wife? Not even Red John’s body is here. I fear he and your wife and child are down below with Davy Jones. Good riddance to him I say sir,” the revenue man concluded, sad to give the captain even more bad news than he was suffering already as he handed over the precious bauble.

“Were there no survivors sir?” the young midshipman who had accompanied his captain ashore, anxiously enquired of the Revenue man.

“Nought but two ships rats young master – one old, fat, half blind and toothless that soon died – drownded by all accounts. The other young and well fed who scurried off as quick as lightening as soon as his feet touched dry land, dropping the locket from his mouth in his eagerness to be gone from here I shouldn’t wonder. I saw them jump ship when the eye of the storm briefly calmed the sea moments before the Black Bess foundered on yon rocks.”

~~~

I watched from behind the rocks feeling sorrow for the Captain, as he tearfully clutched the locket he had given his wife while his crew rowed him back to his ship. As sorry for him as I was one thing was clear. I was finally rid of One Eye…

😉

One of my favourite short stories…

…from my much heralded but rarely bought anthology of Goblin Tales

What's next on the agenda?

Obadiah Fingletook – Grand High Goblin

In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous) and finally, curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), set out on a quest to rescue the grand high goblin, Obadiah Fingletook.

***

A loud knock on the goblin brother’s front door an hour before dawn, one day in early spring, woke Glob from a deep sleep. He leapt out of his bed in such a panic that he stubbed his big toe on the chamber pot beside his bed, sending it clattering across the floor, spilling its contents.

He limped painfully towards the front door muttering and cursing under his breath, unbolted it and angrily flung it open. Leaning heavily on the old oak’s trunk, totally out of breath, was a purple faced plains goblin wearing the Fingletook family crest on his courtier’s jerkin, clutching a rolled up piece of parchment sealed with the beeswax facsimile of the grand high goblin’s face.

“Wot’s it yer wonts at this hour? The world’s still sleepin!” Glob growled as his bruised toe began throbbing terribly.

“Begs pardons master Glob sir, but I’s comes wiv a message from her magnificence, Hermione Fingletook,” the messenger began, briefly bowing low before handing the message over. “She requires yer helps. She asks that yer all travel ter the ancestor oak for a confid – private discushun of the greatest import if yer please sir.”

Although being hugely annoyed at being woken at such an hour, Glob calmed down just a little. He thanked the messenger through gritted teeth and sent him on his way to tell Hermione that they would soon join her.

He tried hard to ignore his painful throbbing toe when he sat down on his chair beside the window. The first weak light of dawn began to break through the gloom as he settled himself, lit a rush-light to illuminate the missive, and broke the seal. He looked at it for a moment marvelling at the fine quality of the batwing parchment, the neatness of Hermione’s writing, and the rich purple ink she used. Then he began to read.

Dearest Globular Van der Graff, my most cherished son,

I have the gravest of news to impart. My Obadiah has been taken prisoner. Yesterday I found the need to scold him for his arrogance and stupidity once again. As a result, he ran away from home. Ordinarily he normally slinks back when he gets hungry, and goes to his room to sulk. But my dear when he did not return last night I began to fret as only a mother can.

I dispatched scouts to find him. Eventually one of them did locate the cave where he had sheltered from a terrible storm during the night, just beyond our borders to the north. But the scout in question, Grassnit Thimblefoot, found nought but Obadiah’s fine clothes and boots. Pinned to his best jerkin dear Globular was a note.

It simply said that if I wished to see him alive and well, I must deliver a ransom of one thousand rubies to the mountain top abode of Baron Cragwit Grimbledoff before the next moon begins.

Cragwit thoroughly despises my first born for his petulance and weaknesses, which I can entirely understand; I don’t like him much myself. Obadiah does tend to upset everyone with his arrogance and childish outbursts.

Cragwit believes he should be grand high goblin. After the wise council decreed that only I could rightfully be called the mother of all, his mother, my sister Sherazid, undertook to create a rival dynasty when he was born.

The wise council decreed that Sherazid be put to death immediately for her highly treasonous act, charging her with bringing a usurper into the world. Since her death, Cragwit has made it his mission in life to undermine the house of Fingletook.    

Please help me dearest Globular. I am beside myself with worry.

Your affectionate mother,

Hermione Fingletook

Glob quickly roused his brothers. After breakfast they all set out on the long journey to the ancestor oak riding on the backs of Yathle and two of her sister wyverns – Maeve and Iolanthe.

Glob led the way through the vast expanse of rooms within the great tree to Hermione’s royal apartments and knocked courteously on the door. Hermione dried her reddened eyes, delicately blew her nose and then opened the door. “Oh my dears, I’m so glad you are here,” she said as tears of happiness flowed, when her face lit up at the sight of her five wood goblin sons.

“Mornins mother on all,” Make said, bowing low in her presence.

Hermione beckoned them all to sit.

Bejuss flew to her and sat on her outstretched hand. “Rarrk – we’th all here ter therve yer in any way we’th can majethy,” he lisped as he bowed low, almost falling off her hand in the process. Hermione smiled and kissed the old raven on his head. “Thank you all for coming so promptly my dears.”

“Begz pardonz majezty,” Mous began, “I’z wuzz juzz wonderin why Cragwit callz hizzelf baron if yer pleaze?” Glob, Make, Byz and Neo nodded, all equally curious to hear the answer to the question. Bejuss was too.

Hermione sat for a moment in silence, composed herself as best she could under the sad circumstances, cleared her throat, delicately blew her nose once more and then replied. “Even though Cragwit is illegitimate dear Eponymous, he still has a modicum of noble green goblin blood flowing through his rebellious veins. The wise council decreed that because Sherazid was my sister, Cragwit was to be entitled to the lowest possible title.”

“Pity he weren’t strangled at births,” Neo muttered under his breath as he crossed the room to where Hermione sat on the side of her bed. His eyes frantically crossed themselves as his leathery old face took on a look of total puzzlement. “So, if he’s a Fingletooks majesty, whys he callings hisself Grimbledoff?”

Hermione’s sweet smile broke out once more, gladdening the hearts of all. “Dearest Neopol, Grimbledoff is the family name of Sherazid’s old wet nurse. No one but a legitimate member of the house of Fingletook may take the name, not even you my dear son,” she explained as she gently stroked his leathery ears, making old Neo blush deeply.

Glob sat for a few moments, like all of his brothers, trying hard to digest what their mother had just revealed. “We needs ter gets started then if we’s goin ter finds Cragwit’s lair afore dark. I’s heard tell on terrible creatures wot inhabits the lands beyonds our northern borders. We don’t wants ter be out after dark!”

Hermione smiled at her favourite wood goblin son. “A fresh start at first light tomorrow morning will suffice Globular dearest. It won’t hurt Obadiah to be out all night long. It may just be the making of him. Besides, it will take time for my court scribe and his assistants to gather the ransom of a thousand rubies together. Meantime you should speak with my chief scout, Grassnit Thimblefoot. I have instructed him to lead you to the cave and to point out the best route to take. From there my dears it is up to your courage, eyes, wits and noses to follow the trail.”

***

The next morning after eating a hearty breakfast, the five goblins and Bejuss bid farewell to their mother Hermione, and ably led by Grassnit, they set out on the first leg of their journey.

Because Make and Mous were the strongest, they had been entrusted with carrying the heavy acorn chest containing the ruby ransom with its beeswax Fingletook seal. Byz with Bejuss perched on his shoulder was tethered to Neo, much to the old curmudgeon’s great annoyance. Glob walked a pace behind Grassnit as the scout’s keen eye followed the fast vanishing trail of footprints.

By noon they reached the north western border of goblin held territory within Goblindom. From now on the rest of their journey was into relatively unknown lands. Soon Grassnit saw the cave mouth in the distance. As the sun disappeared behind the mountains to the west, the brave party of goblins made themselves at home in the cave for the night.

Glob and Make first hid the chest containing the ransom and then built a fire at the back of the cave. Neo dragged Byz behind him, complaining bitterly about being bounced from rock to rock. Between them they made a communal bed for all to share out of bracken and moss.

“Me’th hungry,” Bejuss declared.

“I’s is ter,” Make added as his stomach grumbled.

“N me,” Byz chipped in, reaching inside his pocket to give Bejuss a juicy slug.

“I’z gotz lotz on honeycomb,” Mous announced, offering a large leaf packet for all to share.

After they had eaten, Glob sat at the cave mouth in the moonlight talking to Grassnit. Make got out his bestest briar pipe, filled and lit it, before relaxing with Mous while Byz played a merry tune on his pipes. Bejuss hopped up and down on Byz’ shoulder, doing a raven jig as the sound of the pipes entranced him. Even Neo tapped his foot in time to the tune.

“Wot’s this ere Cragwit like thens Nit, ever seed im afore?” Glob casually enquired.

Nit puffed on his own clay pipe blowing a large perfumed smoke ring. “Aye, I’s seed him once when he raided for supplies, two summers back Glob. Not sure he’s a goblin though,” Nit replied, knocking the spent makings out of his pipe into the palm of his hand, before blowing through its stem to clean it.

“Wot makes yer says he ain’t a goblin?”

“Yer shud seed the size on him. Taint natural. No goblin is that big!”

“Whaddaya mean, is he fat?”

Nit shook his head. “Nah – Obadiah’s fat. Cragwit is tall as a humin n heavier built than an ogre’s mother.” Glob sat for a moment and then asked Nit to describe the baron to him as best he could.

Nit thought for a long time as he filled his pipe once more with a plug of his violet flavoured tobacco, lit it, and drew deep on the pipe’s stem, tasting the sweet smoke before replying. “Cragwit has a fat belly wot hangs over his belt see. He wears a long chainmail skirt wot drags on the ground, held up by a strap across one shoulder. His arms n his chest is always exposed. Heavy muscled he is. He carries a war club topped wiv a carved skull, n a sharp mountain goblin war axe. He wears his favourite weapon for fightin goblins on his bonce. It’s a blue metal hat wiv two griffin teeths stickin out on it. When he charges at yer, he always lowers his head ter spike yer. So wotch out, cos them teeths is fierce sharp! On his arms he wears blue metal plates for protecshun gainst blades n the like.”

Glob sat quiet for a few moments, yawned, and then asked one last question of Nit. “How many goblins have he gots in his army then?”

Nit burst out laughing. “Why bless yer Glob. He may fancy hisself a fierce baron n leader on a terribles army ter fright those as don’t knows him, but he’s only gots one goblin wiv him, if yer can calls Snidely Grossbundle a goblin. He’s his servant n general factotum. At the moment he’s likely Obadiah’s gaoler. Yer name it n Snide does it for Cragwit. Yer’ll know when Snide is about believes me.” Nit held his nose at the thought of being downwind of Snide. “The smelly little grotkin do stink so foul cos he’s covered in greasy hair froms the top on his pointed bonce ter the filthy black toenails on his feets. Plus he only eats bats. So his breath do stink sumink awful.” Nit shivered in disgust; even merely talking about Snide, made him feel ill. Glob thanked Nit, and turned in for the night alongside his brothers.

***

Obadiah was a pitiful sight to behold. Stark naked and shivering uncontrollably, sitting in a mixture of his own filth and discarded bones from his meagre daily meal of one small dried bat, he was feeling decidedly sorry for himself.

The only source of light for his dank cell came from a missing stone in the ceiling above. Water constantly dripped on him through it. Obadiah blubbered uncontrollably in his nakedness. His only item of clothing was a moth-eaten short and damp wool scarf, which he had found in one dark corner, and wound round his thick neck. Cragwit had taken great delight in humiliating his royal cousin by removing the grand high goblin’s clothing before leading him in chains back here to his lair.

Cragwit charged his smelly servant Snide, who he forced to live in the dungeon of his lair because he couldn’t stand his foul smell, with guarding and feeding his prisoner. Compared to Snide, the stench in Obadiah’s cell was so unbelievably bad, that even when the hairy goblin gaoler unlocked the heavy door each day to throw his prisoner’s daily meal on the cell floor, the grand high goblin didn’t notice Snide’s foul odour at all.

Obadiah heaved a heavy sigh and continued to sob pitifully; to think that he had come to this. A hungry beetle bit one flabby cheek of his large, fat, naked backside, making him yelp in pain. “Oh mother, please send someone to rescue me, please!” he bleated in between floods of tears.

***

The perilously steep path to the summit of Dragon Tooth Mountain, which Nit had pointed them towards before returning home, was constantly subjected to dangerous rock falls.

As the goblin brothers and Bejuss steadily climbed towards Cragwit’s lair, none dare peek over the edge of the path. For a tiny wood goblin to fall down the sheer mountainside would mean only one thing – certain death. Eventually they saw their objective looming out of the clouds that hung permanently over the mountain top.

They all stood on the path not far from the heavily armoured door of Cragwit’s home. Glob signalled for Make and Mous to place the acorn chest in plain sight, and then he ordered his brothers to stand behind it in a line while he went to ring the bell. Bejuss flew off to perch above the door. Glob reached up and grabbed the chain, pulling it twice, before rapidly retreating to take his place beside his brothers, standing behind the ransom.

Cragwit was roused from his nap by the sound of his door bell echoing loudly through his home. He went to his front door, opened it and surveyed his tiny visitors.

“Wot’s yer wonts?”

Glob cleared his throat and began. “We’s broughts the ransom for the grand high goblin hisself yer mightiness,” he said, bowing low.

Cragwit’s beady eyes focused on the acorn chest. “Open’s it! Shows me quick now, else it’ll be the worse for yer,” he growled. Make broke the seal and opened the lid.

Cragwit’s eyes glistened with tears of joy at the sight. He began drooling uncontrollably. “Brings it ter me NOW!” he commanded.

Glob crossed his fingers behind his back. “Sorry’s but we’s cant’s does that I’s afriads yer worship. We’s all tired after carryin it up here. Yer’ll jus have ter come here n gets it yerself!”

Cragwit erupted in anger. “WHY YER STINKIN GOBLIN POTSCRAPES, I’SLL TEACH YER TER ANSWERS ME BACK, SEE IF I’S DONTS!” Totally enraged and losing all sense of reason, he charged head down directly at Glob and his brothers.

Gathering all his strength at the last possible moment, Glob snatched the chest away as all five goblins rapidly stood aside, removing themselves from the path of the angry charging humin sized goblin. Cragwit tripped over the hem of his chainmail skirt and disappeared from view, plummeting to his death. What he had forgotten in his blind rage was that the brothers had been standing with their backs perilously close to the edge of the path.

***

After they had all recovered from their near death experience, they began to make a plan to rescue Obadiah from his cell. “Right Byz me lad, yer stays here guardin the chest, here me! Bejuss make sure he does stay. No wanderin orf now Byz, else yer’ll wind up alongsides Cragwit downs below,” Glob began, “the res on yer, comes wiv me. Neo gets yer club ready, n don’ts forgets ter hold yer noses cos Snide stinks terrible fierce.”

They entered through the large door and found the staircase leading down to the dungeon. The passage leading to Obadiah’s cell was easy to locate. All they had to do was follow the stink. Neo led the way holding his nose, ready to do battle with his war club at the ready.

Snide was busy picking his nose looking for a snack. He carefully examined each disgusting bogey stuck on the end of his finger, before eating it. Neo crept up on him with tears flowing from his eyes from the foul stench of the hairy goblin, and quickly bashed him on the head. He removed the key to the cell from Snide’s unconscious body and led the way followed by Glob, Make and Mous to unlock Obadiah’s door.

They all fell about laughing at the spectacle of Obadiah’s wobbly fat naked flesh, despite the foul smell that greeted them. Back to his old arrogant self once more, he stood up with a look of deep indignation on his face, failing to see anything to laugh at. After the rescuers had locked Snide in the cell and thrown away the key, they emerged once more into daylight and sweet fresh air.

***

With Obadiah forced to lead the way back down the mountain path, constantly prodded in his fleshy backside with Neo’s club and Bejuss’ razor sharp beak, to keep him down wind of them, and also for their great amusement at the sight of his fat body wobbling as he walked, they eventually returned him and the ransom safely back to Hermione.

She immediately demanded that Obadiah scrub himself clean with a large prickly thistle stem in a tub of ice cold water, well beyond the confines of the ancestor oak, much to the amusement of all the courtiers, Glob, his brothers, Bejuss, and Hermione herself. It would be a very long time before Obadiah Fingletook flounced off in a huff again.

As they all flew home courtesy of Yathle and her two sisters, Maeve and Iolanthe, peals of goblin laughter, combined with raucous raven caws filled the air above Goblindom.

It’s Alive!!!

goblintalescover

After what seemed like forever (in reality a calendar month), the third and final edition of Glob’s wonderful tales are now live on Amazon in Kindle and paperback form.

Here are the two main links:

US

UK

So now is the time for you to read the anthology. Then post that review.

Just remember – we all need a little magic in our lives. Glob’s Tales are chock full of magic and wonderful characters!!!