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June 17, 2024

The Building 13

By Lydia Manx

Jerry Cooper understood perfectly what the troll was saying. The world had become a smaller place in the past hundred years. The Everglades had been chewed up by man and paved over so people could 'safely' enjoy the savage outdoors. The troll was obviously a water troll and had probably come up the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway to feed. Not that Boca Raton was quiet but the gated community Jerry had chosen was quieter than most. It had been built many decades ago and most of the residents had long given up their noisy motorboats and were content to watch the day come and go sipping Rumrunners on their lawn furniture. Ripe for the taking, also, as they were too old to move fast, and easily killed. Looking at the pool of Edna's blood on the beige tile reminded Jerry just how easily the old folks were killed.

"Yes, but now you must go." Jerry put the idea on the table ignoring that the troll could do some serious damage to him if it decided to stay. He could hear the wind picking up outside and the flapping of palm fronds against the roof. Jerry felt confined in Edna's home with all of her past life pressing in with bits and pieces and memories surrounded by lace.

Reluctantly, slowly nodding, the troll seemed to agree. Vampiric speed and strength, though legendary, still meant a vampire had to work to stay of harm's way when battling angry trolls.

"Your place now?" It wasn't quite a question, but it was offered in a rumbling reply.

Jerry nodded and asked, "Do you need a new hunting ground?"

Looking around the old lady's home as if it was confused how it had ended up inside the knickknack filled room with doilies on every available piece of furniture and some frilly lace lined runners on sideboards and shelves covered with blown glass figurines and snow globes with alpine scenes that set oddly in the humid Florida evening, the troll grunted softly. It jerked its shoulders not saying yes or no. Then it shook its head, as its gaze saw the gory mess on the tile at its feet. The small shoe that had fallen off Edna's foot as the troll had consumed the wiggling woman looked small and pathetic. It reminded Jerry of abandoned shoes that puzzlingly littered the nation's highways -- never a pair of shoes -- just one.

Fangs still out, Jerry sighed and asked, "Would you be willing to negotiate?"

Trolls liked the feeling of give and take in dialogues where the outcome was already predetermined as a matter of respect, if nothing else. The troll well knew that vampires trumped trolls in the supernatural hierarchy of the world. Though physically stronger at times, trolls didn't play politics as well as vampires. There weren't exactly decades of tales about sweet adorable trolls living harmoniously side by side with humans. The idea of 'real' vamps and weres made people shudder in mock fear -- oddly titillated and fascinated with being part of such a world. Vampires and werewolves had done enough image consulting over the decades to craft a palatable presentation for the humans. While trolls still lived under bridges, and yanked children and young women into their holes never to come out. Not exactly a heartwarming tale told to the kids in the dark -- not a lie, either, from what Jerry knew. The PR firms gave a good tug at the heartstrings with ogres, but trolls still had a bad reputation.

Parlays between vamps and trolls weren't uncommon, just delicate since something long decided and extensively resolved with the mock negotiations could still end up taking years to happen if the troll was particularly stubborn. Still it would have the same outcome years later, but time would definitely have passed. Jerry didn't have years to spend waxing over the minor details, but still he had to be subtle.

Given the current state of digestion of Mister Peaches and Edna inside the troll, Jerry was pretty sure they wouldn't be talking long. This was a very hungry troll and for that Jerry wasn't going to linger over words to attain some superficial power. This troll was by itself, but it could summon an army if needed in hours, he'd seen it before up in Michigan. The Great Lakes had many rivers, tributaries and streams that fed the waterways and the local water trolls had helped him in quelling a few problems over the decades when he reigned in Michigan.

Shrugging, as if reluctant to give up the good location, the troll ambled out Edna's open back door. The doggy door was as she'd said, closed but the sliding glass door adjacent was definitely unlocked, as Jerry'd predicted. And since it was off its track Jerry gathered that the troll had literally muscled the glass door loose to gain entry. Carefully lifting his feet over the metal, Jerry followed the troll outside. The night was still pleasant and the canal was quiet. The winds were beginning to ripple the surface with small white caps. But then he doubted the troll would have come to Edna's had there been too much activity. The night birds were even silent. Jerry leaned up against the picnic table and waited for the troll to find a place to perch. There was a scent of rain in the distance even though there weren't any clouds above -- in Boca Raton it rained often, leaving a thick, humid layer of air behind the storm front. It had been a long, dry season and the troll was obviously agitated by the unseasonable lack of rain. The news weather forecasters had been using the words 'historic drought' and that meant more nosey neighbors spying and more trolls coming inland to forage for food and water.

It raised its head and inhaled deeply. Shutting its eyes for a moment then, "Rain soon."

It wasn't a question but a fact. It made Jerry want to hasten his talk with the troll and get back to his house. Rain wasn't something he liked and the troll was starting to breath faster. A sure sign that the troll wasn't joking about the upcoming rain. Water trolls could gain strength with wet, rainy weather. He knew it from past dealing with the trolls in Michigan.

A small retaining wall was filled with a raised flowerbed of drooping leaves and wilted flowers, yet it suited the troll for a place to perch and discuss matters. It sat on the brick-topped wall and Jerry could hear the concrete beneath the creature's ass crackle as it fully rested on the surface. A small chunk of plaster fell from beneath the troll and clattered at its feet -- neither remarked upon the sign of structural distress.

"You have place?" The troll was more impatient than Jerry had ever seen. A thought drifted through the vampire's mind -- the troll could be useful for his own interests. The hunger was unusual, but Jerry'd found the world to be a fairly puzzling place at times. Lately even more than ever before, and he didn't know if it was due to being removed from other vampires or just his age. A plan began to form in his mind.

"Actually I have vast amounts of land but I want to find you a perfect place." Jerry thought the words rolled nicely off his tongue even if it was a total fabrication. His nights of landownership were definitely in the past for the present.

The troll nodded, from its features he couldn't tell if it believed him or not.

"I like here," it said, while looking at the wilted flowers and sighing. Jerry understood that the negotiations had commenced.

"Completely understandable." He didn't know what to call the troll and figured it was safer to skip asking. Names could hold power and the troll was so hungry that Jerry didn't want to cross some social boundary that had come up in the past few years while he'd been hiding down in Florida. He wasn't exactly on the email list from the vampire council to get the local updates, and didn't want to let troll know how far removed he was from the vampire world.

"What you have?" The troll nodded and looked off into the channel with a pensive look. Jerry could feel the wind kicking up, and noticed the storm front was starting to push its way into the neighborhood. He wanted to quicken the process but knew better.

Jerry pretended to be thinking deeply while casting around for the perfect hook. He could still smell Edna's spilled blood on her tile back inside the house and was tempted to go back and lick at the flooring. He needed to get free from the troll fast and find something to sip, and not from the local eighty-year-olds either. A frightened college co-ed would be delicious.

"Ah, it doesn't matter what I have. I want to know what it is you and your family need." Trolls always pretended to have vast families, and for all Jerry knew they were like backwards hill folks that had intermarried for generations and they did have forty or fifty cousins that needed to be cared for and given homes. He'd never seen a casual gathering of trolls, only the warring fraction.

The troll nodded and something went over its face. It took Jerry's mind a second to understand that the troll had smiled. He was grateful there weren't any bits of Mister Peaches or Edna between its teeth.

"Need place without people," the grin was now apparent to Jerry and still utterly disturbing.

Laughing, "My friend, that's hard to come by in these troubled times. But I do have an area that needs the attention of a good guardian." Trolls thought of themselves as guardians of the earth and Jerry wasn't going disabuse this one of the idea. It would work in his favor if the troll was interested in being seen as such.

The troll nodded and said, "More."

Jerry smiled and said, "It's only a few miles away but I think it will suit you as there are many animals and birds to watch."

Trolls loved to watch their prey before tearing them into bits and gobbling up the pieces. Edna and Mister Peaches weren't their preferred dining preferences, as much like some vampires, himself included, they liked to torment their victims to tenderize the meat as it were.

He knew around the corner from work there was a large man-made pond that could easily host four or five trolls once they got rid of the gators. But like he'd just told the creature there were plenty of things to watch and eat. Even though the gators had long gobbled up the iguanas and the slow moving birds there was a constant array of small animals and stray cats to keep a troll or two busy. Jerry had used the pond more than once to dispose of a few things that didn't need to be floating up to the surface for perusal and he knew that the trolls would enjoy the semi-seclusion during the nights and weekends. The business park was another gated community in a state that at times seemed delineated by going from guardhouse to guardhouse in frozen little communities of scared people. Jerry well knew it was deadly quiet after dark. Also there were no cameras in the business park other than the ones inside the buildings manned by security teams at times. Which was part of why he'd chosen to work there.

Jerry had decided that the troll could aid him in getting some of the council's enforcers out from their hidey-holes and on his terms. But first he needed to settle the troll in before hunting the less than charming Celina Holston at the news station. His teeth ached to taste her again. This time it wouldn't be a small nip and sip but a real meal. He wanted to watch the terror dance in her eyes for a change. She'd enjoyed tormenting him more than the male vampires; he figured it was part of her wicked makeup. He'd have been happy to have her as a fledgling; but that hadn't been in the cards or the caskets as it were.

"We go now?" Jerry figured that this was the shortest negotiation between vampire and troll ever.

The troll rocked back and forth slightly on the edge of the planter wall and Jerry wondered if it would survive the motion. An earthquake could happen and cause less damage than the rocking of the troll's dense frame. Already there were fissures radiating out from its ass and more bits of plaster dropped to the ground beneath its feet. Its impatience was strange but welcome, as it fit right in with his slowly forming plans.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-05-02
Image(s) © Lydia Manx, Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
1 Reader Comments
01:25:53 AM
He needs to get this troll a double side of ribs, extra sauce.
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