Cooking Troll for Two
You always hear people say that everything slows down during an adrenaline rush. That’s not really true. Nothing is slowing down; your brain is just cramming more information into the time and space that it has available. Believe me, the last thing I wanted to do is slow down the moment a two ton mountain troll came bursting through the trees towards me. I should have known that rickety cage wouldn’t hold together. The touch of cold iron barely even slowed her down.
Yes, the troll was a female. Just because a creature is fat, wrinkly, aggressive, and slobbering at the thought of eating your flesh doesn’t mean it’s a male. Remind me after this and I’ll show you some pictures of my ex.
In movies you always see the heroes running through the woods. That’s a load of crap. Maybe in nice pine or oak forests you can get away with a dead sprint, but in the thick Appalachian forest you’d need a bulldozer and a prayer to make any kind of headway in a timely fashion. The underbrush alone is thick, uneven, and more than willing to take skin off as a souvenir.
Luckily, I follow the rule of anything that can go wrong will. My backup plan had only taken a few hours with a machete and a lot of sweat.
I ran down the narrow path I had bushwhacked earlier today, ducking under a low-hanging branch and leaping over a stump in quick succession. My headlamp had fallen around my neck, the light bouncing over the path merrily, blissfully unaware that I was about to be eaten.
The troll was having some difficulty pushing through the thick woods behind me, but not as much as I would’ve liked. If I didn’t do something quick I’d be her midnight snack before I made it down the hill.
Reaching down I pulled out a fistful of custom caltrops from my hip pouch and tossed them behind me. The nice thing about caltrops is no matter how they’re thrown they land point up. I could be pretty clever sometimes, if I do say so myself.
Not clever enough to avoid tripping over my own feet after throwing them unfortunately.
I hit the ground hard, face grinding into dirt and rock, and stars danced across my vision. I could feel the troll approaching rather than see it, and I rolled over wondering what it would feel like being gnashed to death by those large, square teeth.
The troll stepped on the first caltrop and released a bellow of pain and rage. A small, primitive part of my brain screamed at me to run. “Meep, meep!” I exclaimed and took off down the hill.
I came to a clearing just ahead and almost slammed into a wall of trees in front of me. Turning to face the oncoming troll I let loose a war cry filled with challenge, fury, and death.
It was not a frightened scream, I assure you; it was a war cry. Let me finish the story.
The troll broke through the clearing and my whole body quivered, but I stood my ground. The troll roared again and even being a good twenty feet away didn’t protect me from the rain of spittle and flesh that spewed from her mouth. And the smell was an affront against everything good in the world.
“I bet you get all the boys with that line.” I remarked. The troll charged me with murder in her eyes. I had a brief moment of doubt that this would work, but took solace in the fact that if I got eaten tonight at least I wouldn’t have to meet with the IRS over some dubious write-offs on my last tax return. Apparently holy water and silver bullets were “suspicious”. I can’t ever catch a break. Staring the troll in its beady eyes, I tripped the wire next to my foot with a grin.
A log roughly the size of a Volkswagen swung over my head and straight towards the troll. It probably weighed half as much as her, but luckily I was a student of Archimedes and the pulley system I had rigged made it no problem to move. The troll smiled and swung its meaty fist at the log and broke it in half, pelting me with a shower of splinters.
“Oh, shit.” I scrambled for the pistol in my shoulder rig but I seriously doubted the .45 would do much more than irritate the already pissed off troll. “Get down!” I heard someone yell. It seemed as good an idea as any, and I dove to the dirt.
There was a loud, mechanical roar and the clearing brightened with fire and light. The atmosphere changed from cold September night to summer in the Sahara as a thirty foot gout of flame hit and then enveloped the troll. The roof of my mouth instantly dried from the intense heat. The troll thrashed in agony as liquid fired stuck to her body and greedily ate away the grey flesh. Her cries of fury slowly died away as she fell to her knees and then hit the ground with a rumble and a wheeze as she died.
As I lay on the ground in shock, a woman stepped around the troll’s corpse and into the light. She was tall for a woman, just shy of six feet tall. She moved like a fighter, careful steps and always in balance. In her hands was an old World War Two style flamethrower, and a tight black bodysuit clung to her like a second skin. “I think someone owes me a thank you.” she said, raising an eyebrow and giving me a sly smile.
“I think someone owes me five grand.” I retorted, standing and brushing dirt and troll ashes off my clothes. “The Waruinakama Corporation hired me to capture it and you just screwed me out of my money.”
“It would’ve been a little hard for you to collect your fee from the inside of that troll’s large intestine.” she said smiling. “And I was hired to eliminate the troll, so how about you cut the attitude?”
I stuck my hands in my pockets and tried not to sulk, “How about this? Cut me in fifty-fifty for being your bait and we’ll call it square.” She laughed, “No deal, ninety-ten.”
“That’s bullshit. That thing chased me halfway down the valley, sixty-forty.” The smell of burning troll flesh began to dwindle. Soon all that would be left were some very large bones for conspiracy theorists to argue about if they were ever found.
She shook her head, “Last offer, seventy-thirty. And I’m only giving you that because I think you’re kind of cute.” She said it with a smile and a wink. She didn’t have to give me anything and she knew it, but she was willing to try and make an ally as opposed to an enemy.
I strode over to her with my hand out, “Done, you can make the check out to Jo-”
“Joby Walker, I know who you are. I’ve been following you around for the last few days. How do you think I knew exactly where you and the troll would be?” I had to admire her. I never even noticed a tail. I’d have to beef up my security around the warehouse and start paying more attention if there was the possibility of other players in town. “You’ll have your money in a few days when I collect my payment, until then, goodbye Mr. Walker.” She turned and quickly disappeared into the trees.
“Hey!” I exclaimed. “What’s your name? I’d like to know who I’m doing business with.” Silvery laughter drifted out of the trees, “Sajaa Azaam.” and then she was gone. She was just so pleased with herself and her little plan. Meanwhile, I just knew I was going to have bruises tomorrow, and I would have to wash my clothes a dozen times before the smell of burning troll would come out.
I stared into the darkness after her and wondered how difficult she was going to make my life in the days to come.
Story by: Luke Geldmacher
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