Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Serial: #2 The Rolling Trolls

Episode #2: The Rolling Trolls
By Bella Vida and J.R. Turner

When last we left Julie, she had opened a Northern portal to the 5th Direction for the fairies. As the portal closed, the icy wind began forcing her across…

My face grew numb and I tasted ice in my mouth. Arms shaking, weakening, I wanted to cry but the tears froze before they fell. My feet lifted off the ground.

What felt like a tree branch wrapped around my waist and yanked me hard. My ears rang with a loud pop as my head pulled free and the portal snapped shut. On my back, on the ground, my frozen hair thawed and blue water stained my shirt.

A rotten stench came from behind my line of sight. I tilted my head and even upside down, he was the grossest creature that ever lived.

Tattered as flags in a storm, a pair of boots oozed yellow goo from every hole. Tools, a pot and an animal horn hung from a belt. Above a gray shirt that might have once been white, a long nose stuck out further than his beach-ball belly.

This is my hero?

Ugh. Grandma taught me better than to be rude though. “Uh, thanks, I think? Who are you? Or what are you?”

“I Kahn. I troll. Hungry. I hungry. Hungry!” He burped and his orange hair wavered in a cloud that smelled like rotten garbage.

Hair dripped cold water down the back of my arms as I sat up. Something rustled in the brush and a raccoon peeked out between the leaves, sniffing the air.

In a swoop more graceful than a ballerina, Kahn captured, then shoved the raccoon into his mouth and swallowed it whole.

I leapt to my feet. “Why did you do that? That’s so gross! And…and mean!”

“I hungry.” He belched and green gas floated in the air between us. His eyes, shiny and beady in the deep folds of his warty face fastened on me, like he wondered if I would fit into his mouth.

“That raccoon didn’t do anything to you!” I yelled, more angry than scared. I didn’t want all this crazy stuff and turned to hurry back to the house. I just wanted Grandma back.

He grabbed my wrist and said again, “I hungry.”

“You just ate, you nasty thing!” I twisted out of his grip.

His belch this time came with a strange sound, like an angry, hoarse cough. I stopped as the troll heaved, bending forward, a battered bag shifting on the hump on his back. His chin slammed the ground with a crack. The raccoon forced his way out with an angry chitter. Covered in slime, it ran into the woods. I didn’t blame him and started home, too.

Kahn followed me. “Take me to hills now. Mercy said you know.”

“Go away. I don’t know what you mean.” Arms crossed, I stomped over weeds. I should never have read Grandma’s private pages. Tears pricked my eyes, the way they did all the time now. One minute I couldn’t cry if I wanted, then bam! When I least expected, they came back for no good reason.

He didn’t listen.

I turned, hands on hips and yelled, “Go away, now!”

His furry brows puckered. “Mercy said you know. I hungry!”

“Who is Mercy?”

“Mercy rules Caveworld.”

Okay, that totally didn’t help. An idea popped into my head and I pointed in a random direction away from the house. “That’s the way, then.”

He spun and walked away, pot thunking against the horn on his belt. I hid my smile as I crossed the lawn. A raccoon, fur sticking out like he’d been scared stiff, waited for me on the back porch. I stopped. Everyone knows rabies can make even a nice animal go nuts.

He looked up at me. “You did a bad thing.”

“You talk?” Great, just what I needed, a talking raccoon.

“It’s you who can talk now.” He looked down his nose at me.

“Do I sound like a raccoon?” No, I sounded like me, as always. Maybe not to him, but at this point I didn’t much care. My tummy growled for the sandwich Mom had made for my lunch. “Whatever.”

The screen door slammed loudly behind me and I went straight for the fridge. My dad came into the kitchen and smiled. “Glad to see you eat, honey. Your mom needs some stuff from the store and I have to pick up a few things in town. You want to come?”

“Nah.” I closed the fridge and took the bologna sandwich out of its plastic bag. “Just gonna hang out here.”

“Okay,” he said and kissed my forehead. “See you in a few hours then.”

I waved and ate my sandwich, trying really hard not to think of Kahn the Troll gobbling up the raccoon, and even worse, puking it back up. When I finished, all I wanted to do was box up the letters and put them back.

Wish you were here, Grandma, I need you so much.

Upstairs, I ignored the fairy mess, repacked the box, and on my way out, fell over my funeral shoes. The box clattered loudly across the hardwood floor. The clack continued even after it stopped moving. But it wasn’t upstairs, it was downstairs now.

Oh, no!

I leapt up and hurried to the kitchen where the noise came from. I swung the door open and propelled a rolling container of oatmeal across the tiles. A bag of flour exploded in a cloud of white against the wall by my head. Orange-haired trolls were everywhere.

Mom’s going to kill me!

Gooey egg yolk dripped from the ceiling. Cupboards hung open, their contents all over the floor and counters. Ripped boxes, bags and containers lay in piles next to every troll.

I grabbed the broom. “Get out! Get out!”

Swinging wildly, I flipped two trolls off the table and went after the ones on the counter. I slipped in a puddle of corn oil made by the troll guzzling down a big bottle of Crisco.

My crazy dance to stay on my feet failed and I fell with a thud on my tailbone. “Ow!”

They laughed until it became a chant as they gathered around me. Beady eyes glittered over huge noses and thick flapping lips.

“We hungry, go East
want Rolling Hills.
We eat huge feast,
we gets our fills

We hungry, go East,
want Rolling Hills.”

“Okay!” I shouted. “Stop!”

They backed off as I stood up, towering over them at five feet. I won’t grow much bigger either, as Grandma stood only five-foot-one.

Kahn came forward. “Food now! You tasty—we roast you!” The other’s nod and Kahn starts them on a new chant, stomping in unison. “Food! Food! Food!”

In a flash of dark fur and angry barking, the raccoon raced in, yanked the horn off Kahn’s belt, and rushed through the pack into the living room. Cornered, he backed toward the closed front door as the trolls roared and pounded for him.

He saved me. I couldn’t watch him get gobbled up again. I pushed to the front and got to the door first. We escaped together onto the front porch and I slammed the door closed. We ran across the lawn and into the trees.

“Stupid girl,” the raccoon said as we stopped. “I warned you. I said you did a bad thing.”

“How was I supposed to know? I never met a raccoon who talked.”

“That’s because you never met one who escaped a troll before. Happens all the time. Many of us speak two languages, some even more.”

“What two languages?”

He rolled his eyes. “Yours and Kisawi, the language of Racoons. Kisawi spoken through the universes more than human talk.”

“There’s more than one universe?”


“Jeez, sorry!” I scowled. “Why is all this happening? I came every summer and nothing like this ever happened.”

“Of course not. The queen never allowed such things and you had to go and open the 5th direction.”

“It’s not my fault!”

“Fault doesn’t matter. Your words are now your bond.”


“And you choose that one.” He put a black paw over his face and shook his head. “Great, we’re all doomed. Huh isn’t gonna cut it.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You have to be the most poorly trained…Never mind. Your words have power.” He glanced behind me. “We don’t have much time. You must mean what you say and say what you mean. Without the messages, you’ll be lost.”

“Messages?” I hated how dumb I sounded. “Grandma’s poems?”

His look made me feel two inches tall. “Do you even know where they are?”

“They’re in my room.” The ground vibrated from the trolls marching our way.

“I’ll distract them.” He held up the horn. “Meet you on the back porch.”


He ran fast, a flashing shadow on Grandma’s perfect lawn. The trolls saw the horn and changed direction.

I didn’t wait. I ran inside and dashed up the stairs. There wasn’t time to read all the letters. I had to take the box with me. My blue messenger bag hung on my chair. I slid it on and put the box inside. The pack slapped my hip as I ran to the porch. The trolls closed in and we raced to the woods.

“Take the horn.” He panted beside me. I did, thinking he needed the free paw to run faster, but he said, “They’ll follow you to the hills.”

“Where?” We slowed as the underbrush grew thick.

“Easterly Rolling Hills. East—hills—you know where. It’s Easter every day there.”

I do, but my heart sank. After the funeral I vowed never to return. The only hills to the east are the ones at the cemetery. We buried grandma on top of one.

The raccoon said, “You know what to do.” He broke away, leaving me alone. I wanted to cry. The trolls didn’t see I had the horn and continued after the raccoon. I couldn’t let them eat him again and I blew into the narrow end.

They halted at the nasal hooting noise, lined up and marched toward me. At the far end of the cemetery, a creek, high from the rains, burbled beneath a foot bridge built eons ago. We crossed and trudged up the steep incline. Hundreds of headstones dotted the hills in every direction.

The trolls stood at attention, their fuzzy orange hair bright in the afternoon sun. Orange. The poem wrapped with orange ribbon! I carefully dug out the right message.

In my best voice I read,

“When hunger strikes the beast,
rolling hills bring the feast,
and a dead sea will be found,
by the girl child blood-bound,
to release them into the East.”

The world wavered, the air thick, foggy. I squinted, the cemetery turned into hills that bobbed up and down like an ocean. The lawn turned to Swiss cheese, holes appearing where the headstones were.

The trolls rushed past me, grunting, belching and farting as they burst through the mist. Rabbits hopped from hole to hole. They had the ears, head and body of a normal bunny, but I’d never seen ones with long rat-like tails and talons instead of paws.

The trolls swallowed them whole, big bellies expanding after every one. There were so many, they could have fed for years and not run out.

The hill I stood on dipped sharply, throwing me backward and I fell like a boat capsized in high water. My heart pounded loud with every teeth-jarring thud.

I grabbed grass to stop my fall, but it came out in fistfuls. A ledge above the steep shoreline threw me airborne. The swiftly moving creek sparkled in the sun. I plummeted toward the water, holding my breath as I went under.

I sank like a rock and shoved off the bottom, kicking for the top. Instead of going up, I went sideways. The strong undercurrent trapped me in a whirlwind of bubbles and I lost which way was up. Afraid to scream and lose my air, I twisted, frantic to surface.

Tune in next week for the exciting continuation of Letters to the 5th Direction!


Anonymous said...

The characters and ilustrations are great. Love how the story it turning out...good job you two!

~~ Mari ~~

Anonymous said...

These stories are sooo cool. I would love to see these made into a Saturday TV series.

J.R. Turner said...

Thanks so much y'all!! :)

It would be great fun to see them brought to life on a televeision series. Maybe even as a Pixar-style designed series. I think it would be interesting as far as speial effects go :)