This week’s writephoto has generated this little bit of nonsense…
‘Ok, sonny, so what speed do you call that then?’
Prendegast Toblerone stared at the uniformed hulk looming on the other side of the battered fence with surprise. He was angry and frustrated and the last thing he needed was some jobsworth stopping him getting rid of some of his overwrought emotions. ‘Where did you come from?’
The huge moustachioed man rubbed his gnarly and apparently granite chin thoughtfully. ‘Just now or originally? Because I think origins are tricky.’
Prendegast stopped himself mimicking the man, dropping his hand from his chin, a chin which, even if he lived 100 years would never be considered to be on the gnarly granite spectrum of jaw apexes. ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend.’
‘You know, I’m sure you’re British and everything and your heritage is your own affair.’
The man nodded. ‘British? Yes well recently that’s true. I’m more an agglomeration than anything else.’
‘An agglomeration? I’ve not heard that one. Is that like a super mixed race, you know with lots of strands?’
The man shifted weight. As he did so, the sound of pebbles falling made Prendegast look round. He’d been warned this place might be dangerous but he hadn’t considered they’d meant at risk of a land slip.
‘Race, you say? Is that why you were going so fast, young’un? In a race, was you?’
‘I wasn’t going fast. Officer.’
The man’s hand, a huge nobbly thing ran through his hair, followed by a deep – the word ‘seismic’ popped into Prendegast’s head, though he couldn’t have said why – rumbling sound that had to be a laugh, if the rather terrifying grin that accompanied it was any clue. Goodness, thought Prendegast, the man has serious teeth, like… well, yes, like gravestones.
‘Me, an officer? I don’t think so.’
‘But the uniform?’
‘Oh that. It’s more your guardian’s clobber, if you get my meaning. The lads thought it added a certain gravitas. I told them that added gravity was what caused my back problem. Just my joke, you know.’
Not really, thought Prendegast but he didn’t feel inclined to argue. That said, if he wasn’t any sort of police… ‘if you’re not an officer, then by what right can you stop me speeding?’
‘You acknowledge you were speeding.’
‘More than that?’
the man pointed at the sign specifying 5 mph in the red edged circle.
‘Well, yes, probably but that’s just an old sign. It doesn’t mean anything. Not anymore.’
The man took a step forward. He really was huge and as he moved the ground shook in a very unsettling way. ‘Why do you say it doesn’t mean anything? You know what this place is?’
The huge man became enormous as he stretched to an unfeasible height and moved beyond looming and entered towering territory. ‘It’s part of the national defences…’
‘Not any more it isn’t.’
The expansion of the man, which Prendegast feared was becoming a danger if he toppled over reversed as quickly as it had started. ‘It ain’t?’
‘You’re thinking about this as an airfield? That ended, what, years ago. In the dark ages. Before Maccy Dees and Strictly.’
More scratching, more disconcerting quarrying sounds. ‘No one said.’
‘You worked here? When it was an aerodrome?’
The man grew a little but stopped, to Prendegast’s relief at merely a small overhang. ‘I was security. No one got past me.’
‘And they left you here? Since what, the 1950s?’
‘Where on earth did you live?’
‘Not so much on as in.’
‘In earth, not on earth. Here,’ to Prendegast’s surprise the man reached forward and ripped out the remnants of the fence and stood back, ‘this way.’
Tentatively Prendegast stepped through the gap. He was always being admonished for his recklessness but curiosity followed him like a sleazy reporter. In the distance, the land spread away across old concrete landing strips, weed blown and crumbling as they were. Immediately in front however was a yawning hole several metres deep that looked like it had just been excavated. The man’s terribly arthritic finger pointed at the chasm. ‘There.’
‘There? You can’t have lived there. No man could survive living in that?’
The man wobbled his head in an acknowledgement of the truth. ‘It’s okay if you’re a troll.’
Prendegast sort of knew laughing at this point wasn’t likely to be welcomed. ‘A troll? The Ministry of Defence employed trolls to guard their aerodromes during the war?’
‘We could hardly fly the planes, could we?’
‘I suppose. And you’ve been here for what seventy odd years?’
‘I’ve no idea. We count in Halleys.’
‘What’s a Halley?’
‘Oh that Halley. How did you survive? I mean food and stuff.
The troll’s shoulders gave way a little revealing a different strata. ‘You think we eat people don’t you?’
‘I.. no… the thing is…’
‘Billy goat gruff?’
Prendegast bowed his head.
‘It’s alright. There are a lot of expectation gaps, aren’t there? You’re just exhibiting some standard flesh and blood privilege. You assume that if you were our size and density we’d have to stick away a lot of carbs, like some pan galactic body builder. As I said I’m an agglomeration thus we’re agglomorants. We survive in substrata and absorb the local rock formations.’
‘Am I boring you?’
‘What, no, not at all.’
‘Good. Originally there were three types of troll. Metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary…’
‘I learnt about them in geography.’
‘They teach trollism?’
‘Not exactly. What are you?’
‘I’m mostly metamorphic. My ancestors migrated on a prehistoric glacier but since I arrived on this landmass I’ve been more and more sedimentary.’
‘I suppose it comes with age. My grandpa is pretty sedimentary these days.’
‘He’s a troll?’
‘He writes pretty stinging letters to the paper about graffiti and the bin collections but he’s not really a troll. What are you going to do? Now you’ve no job?’
‘Oh I expect someone will hire me.’ The troll began to turn away, his rock language suggestion a deep sadness.
The troll stopped. ‘What for?’
The troll raised a hand in acknowledgement. He stepped into the fissure and slowly lowered himself. Before he lay down he met Prendegast’s eye. ‘One question.’
‘At the time, us but looking back, it’s probably a little less easy to say.’
The troll nodded. ‘Perspective. It’s good to have perspective.’ He smiled. ‘There’s hope for you lot yet.’ With a crash he flopped back, the earth and turf displaced by his action falling over him and hiding him completely.
Prendegast straddled his bike. As he peddled away he found himself humming. Odd, he thought that in this day an age it’s a troll who’s cheered me up.