By Rhys Hughes
There are eighteen goblins who live in a cave. Harry is surely the bravest one; he’s best at climbing stalactites while wearing ladies’ tights and sadly often stalagmites too dressed in a badly-pressed vest. Grabba is a mischief maker; some say he’s quite a pest, for he enjoys juggling worms, toads and the pets of guests until they feel distressed. Humpty is the biggest goblin; he’s twenty-two inches high, just look at his gargantuan fists! Standing on his taller friends he can almost touch the sky, which, of course, of rock consists. Gfyxxlgr the Unpronounceable has only one regret; nobody has ever addressed him by his name, at least not yet, because it’s not reducible or even undisputable and it sounds more like a threat. Bunny isn’t a goblin authentic; most of his decisions are unwise, he is a green-suited interloper, a gnome no-hoper in disguise. Mandy is a goblin queen’s niece; a brilliant impersonator of geese after drinking too much brandy, and swans too, sometimes ducks, but only when she trusts her luck. Baglo-Snag is a clever inventor; his duty as a part-time mentor to apathetic apprentice goblins who say, “Whatever” to every question asked about magnetic portentous progressive dreams, not to mention, “So what?” to his cleanly kinetic machines, is never challenged by dissenters. Snapdoodle is a poet and chews old shadows as he seeks a muse and sucks the dripping cavern slime as he designs new rhymes. Freddie wants to live on his own; but the cave system is his only home and he’s too timid to seek elsewhere a dwelling space, because his face has been located below a bald dome ever since the day he lost all his hair. Gillian Oblivion won’t kick up a fuss; she’s the only goblin with a surname. One half fairy, three parts amphibian, she loves to flitter from pool to pool, wings as shiny and black as obsidian, skin more slimy than any green ghoul. Gruntybones flatly refuses to discuss why he is flatter than a pancake by far; his brothers are so much fatter, we find, than the planet Mars not seen from afar but magnified by a powerful telescope. One only hopes he’ll change his mind. Kravdraa seems like a normal goblin; but the candle flame sets him sobbing and his frame is racked with trembles, for although his body is goblin-shaped, his shadow’s mark on cave walls draped an aardvark acutely resembles. Cuthbert feels like the odd goblin out; for he always prefers fresh air to stale and when sparkling water is offered in a glass, he never declines the drink with a disgusted face while insisting, “Stagnant in a decanter for me!” like his goblinesque friends and enemies. Ratso is keen on exploring the narrow tunnels that undulate through the mysterious ground; not once in a tight space has he become stuck because his body is far too flexible and soft for accidents of that sort to be his tough luck. Tourmaline is a very musical goblin; he loudly strums the lute late at night and plays the drums with his knees while bashing a gong with his head and then he sleeps through the day. Sometime soon, instead of waking with a brand new tune in his mind, I think he’ll find he’ll wake up dead. Do you know the goblin named Karl? He paints animals on the stone walls and some are short but more are tall and some are wide but more are thin; yet he takes great pride in all equally. Except for a cat that looks like a bee. Kushy is a pushy goblin, apparently; if he ever unlocks doors with a key he never pulls them open but only ever pushes, his expression so brave, and groans when he snaps the hinges. Luckily there are no doors in the cave. Prude is a pure mathematician and also the king of the tribe. He has taught arithmetic to all so that they have no need to hide from quantities and sums; there’s only one who fails to understand. Abacuso is the one who can’t count; his face and neck are bottle-green. Only eighteen goblins are allowed in the cave but he is goblin nineteen.
Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.
PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL
Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles
Click here to access Monalisa No Longer Smiles on Kindle Amazon International