The memory of my reputation haunted me. Officer Lenny was still gabbing away on the phone like a teenager, only his verbiage was laced with less swear words. Must be his mom on the other end, I figured.
Even at only fifteen, I didn't need to look around to know that this alley had no exit. Since I was on my own walking home, I'd learned to find all the cubbyholes and the alternative routes automatically. Sam had started my training months before and I was getting better at reacting quickly to bad situations. I cursed my stupidity at missing Brandt hidden in the alley. I'd been too distracted and it would now cost me.
The troll was standing back and letting Brandt push my buttons. If I lost control, he'd step in and slay me, I knew that without a shadow of a doubt. Sam said when I was ready my talents would rise up to aid me. So far all I'd noticed was my eyes filtered things differently than others. I wasn't 'normal' but the vision switching was a bit much some days. I wasn't sure if the troll knew I could see him. I wasn't letting on, but keeping focused on Brandt.
"Brandt, stop being this way. I need to get home." I tried for irritated teenager and not confrontational. I was anything but that, but I hoped he didn't know anything more. Those hopes were instantly dashed.
"Oh, sure, Dizzy. But really, I mean, who would miss you? The foster daddy out of town on business again, isn't he? Took his secretary with him to play hide the sausage, cause I doubt your foster mommy would let you go with him -- what with you being fifteen and all." Brandt's father was the resident doctor, hence all the money, and his mother was a social gadfly who collected rumors and nasty bits of gossip like kids collected candy at Halloween.
I felt my temper boil up and consciously pushed it down. The troll had begun to drool a bit and was grinning like an utter fool. I was totally screwed if I let my guard down. As it stood, I didn't know how I was going to get out of the alley without problems. Brandt was rolling back and forth on his heels, smirking and grinning like he had more secrets to reveal. My stomach still hurt from the foster father bit because he was right. I had been raped more than once from dear old 'dad.' I doubted that it was going to quit as I got older; it seemed that made him more interested. That was part of my push to get better in the martial arts. I think Sam suspected something, but I wasn't comfortable telling him.
"What, Dizzy, daddy-got-your-tongue?" His grin was evil and I felt my anger at everything ever done to me rise up despite my attempts at control.
The staff in my hand became warm and everything in the alley slowed to nearly a snail's pace. Click, click, click. Each frame flew past while I began to find my center. Then the real damage began. I don't think I even knew what I was doing, I just simply began to move. The air slowed down and my heart rate dropped and I found I was calm. Brandt tried to defend against the strikes but his arms were shorter than my weapon. I beat him down and stabbed him hard in the stomach until he vomited.
It was then that the troll dropped his glamour and became the true troll nature had created. I think if Brandt had been anywhere near consciousness he would have lost his mind at seeing the transformation from a snotty, acne-faced, sullen teen into a wall of angry troll. Brandt wasn't doing much more than whimpering and moaning with his face in the slimy alley. Instead of running away the troll came towards me with clicking toenails on the alley concrete and crap while his claws were fully extended. Fury lit his face and he chortled. It was disgusting and made my skin crawl. I knew in my gut that was the last sounds my family heard before they were slain.
If I'd thought things had shifted when the staff became warm and alive in my hands enabling me to beat Brandt down, I now had a new level of awareness and power. My eyes were seeing things I'd never seen before and I was energized. It was then that everything got weird.
This is where the rumors and innuendos started near as I could conclude.
As the staff had warmed and hummed in my hands while I kicked Brandt's ass, when confronted with the troll it shifted into a metal rod in my fists. Staffs in traditional martial arts are made of special wood. There are fine craftsmen who create well-balanced weapons that serve the students and masters throughout their life. Mine suddenly decided it wanted to be made of metal. I didn't know what type of metal but it grew heavier and changed the color. It wasn't honey brown but now gray. I could feel the grains of the wood disappear and instead became a slick cool piece of steel or iron -- for all I knew titanium. I didn't bother to try to decide what but simply used the tool gifted me.
The same spin-sweep motion I'd practiced for hours in class came to me like a vision, and I began the movement. Instead of slapping him flat on the ground with the staff, the troll laughed and leaped upwards -- higher than I'd expected. What he hadn't expected was for me to change my focus and simply stab him with the end. He was impaled on the tip of the newly enhanced staff. My staff had caught him full in the face. In fact, contrary to the legend, in his tooth-filled mouth not his eyes. He was still laughing while he died. The point of the weapon had actually pierced his brain and stilled him.
It was then that Brandt roused enough from his stupor to begin screaming. My foe had flipped back to his human form in a final 'screw you' gesture, which I later found out was done by only earth trolls. I clubbed Brandt unconscious and went home.
Once home I called Sam and told him what had happened. I didn't omit any details including the comments about my foster father. That was the first of many moves the committee made for me during my learning time.
I came back to the present with a start. Lenny had stood up after dropping the receiver on the phone, and was waving me into the cell saying, "You're on your own. This here is Charlie Woodvine. He's a problem case. But then that's how you like it, I heard."
I didn't bother replying. After all, what could I say? Still smirking at me, he unlocked the prison door and shut it behind me with a decisive thud.
As I crossed the threshold, I automatically held my breath. It was easy letting the outside distractions fade once I saw the captive. He was everything I expected from hearing they thought that they might have had a troll, and actually a bit more than Sam'd promised. No wonder Sam had disappeared. This sort of troll wasn't a baby with a learning curve, but a cunning old creature. Looking at the prisoner, I knew that this was the sort of creature that had killed my family. Every last member -- something that evil and nasty didn't just simply go away and disappear with time.
Carefully schooling my features to the proper anonymous government official expected by a prisoner, I kept my thoughts private. Damn, somebody really let this situation become a cluster fuck of the first water. They'd caged more than a garden psychopath with delusions of grandeur. The local cops actually had caught their first troll. From the looks of things this was a mountain troll, but it could be a mutation. I'd been seeing more and more mutations between the various types of trolls. We didn't know how that started, because trolls weren't exactly loving, warm and fuzzy sorts with their own families, so to see them crossing regions was completely unheard of in the troll culture.
The man was over three hundred pounds of anger and ancient rage. He muttered and pulled at the hook on the table anchoring his wrist. Thankfully, so far the hook, the table and the handcuffs held. That was rarely the case with trolls, so I wondered at the metal's effect on the troll. Looking around the room, I decided something inside was probably pure iron. That wasn't typical in the jails with their new age of plastic cuffs and mixed metals. After close consideration, I figured out that it was probably the hook that was what was causing the troubles not the more than likely stainless steel handcuffs. I just had to love these older jails because they tended to keep things in use that the brand new shinier places sent to the dump without hesitation. The depressed market in San Diego kept them from doing much in the way of major remodels, which now kept the troll hooked to a table with iron. But that said, it wasn't going to hold him if I provoked him too much. I evaluated the cell and recognized the inadequacies immediately. A silly thing, like the size wasn't much larger than a gas station bathroom. Add in that there was naturally only one exit that had been seriously locked behind me. And from everything I'd seen, the bull-headed jerk Lenny was on the other side, simply waiting for me to become troll lunch meat or death by misconduct of prisoner -- which would be how the report was written, I assumed. Let's not forget the fact my magic bag of tricks didn't have an iron net. They were out there for bounty hunter use, but it wasn't something I could just casually carry on a plane, much less carry into a police station.
"Fair child, why do you hover so far from me?" The voice was soft and exquisitely charming.
His voice could quite easily be used in a voice over for a Disney movie as the kindly uncle everyone loved. I, on the other hand, heard his voice in the true tones of the snarky, nasty troll he was. The human form of this creature wasn't what I saw. Knowing my personal vision gave him his true troll form I blinked, and looked at him with my human eyes so I could see what the cops saw. It took me a second for my eyes to push back and see his human form in the glamour state he used to show his face amongst humans. The small frail body took up a third of the space the troll actually used and his features really were like a kindly uncle with a lovely treat in his pocket for all the kids. Oh yeah, he had a treat all right. His 'treat' was a nice sweet ability to tear humans from limb from limb without breaking a sweat.
My vision flickered and I tried to keep from blurring. Ever since I had started training as a teenager with my talents I'd have good and bad days. Sam had taught me to flip into the correct wavelength to utilize the visions at a frightfully early age. I think it was shortly after my family had been killed. I was having a hard time at the foster parents' home and he'd made me understand that I wasn't the same as the rest of the kids.
I shook my head and focused on the current troll screwing up my life.
He was still talking, "Come closer, please, my sweet girl. Are you my attorney? I am frightfully confused, do you know why they have imprisoned me so?" He sounded feeble and ancient. One out of two.
"When Fairy Tales Come Alive" will continue in the future as author Lydia Manx participates in National Novel Writing Month. In the meantime, next week Ms. Manx presents a new tale, "Westward Dust."
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