Flash Friday 16/01/2015: Pay The Toll
Anastasia and Tim had only heard tales of the Name Trolls. They believed they were a wives’ tale to stop kids from crossing Honour’s Bridge during night-time. The trolls in front of them were nothing like the stories. They were far uglier.
The trolls stood on the bridge; tall and green, they had a head that looked too heavy for their bodies. They had a tuft of brown hair on their head, and their noses looked like eggplants. One of them was larger than the other, and had a much deeper voice. They smirked at Anastasia and Tim as they approached.
“Woss this then, eh?” the tall one said. “Kids finking they stronger than us? Kids don’t have sharp metal sticks like the adults do. You’re nuffink, you are.”
“I’m sorry,” Anastasia said, slowly backing away with Tim. “We didn’t mean to alarm you.”
“Oh, is that so?” the younger one said. “Nobody means to alarm us, you know. Nobody gets away from us, also. Now, pay the toll.”
“The toll?” Anastasia said.
“Yeh,” the large one said. “Us Name Trolls, don’t take no stinking gold. No use for it. Can’t use shops. But! What we likes us some, is some names, thassright. We eats ’em, and then we adds ’em to our own names, see. My name is Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina, and my friend ‘ere is Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill. I’m the better one, ‘coz my name is longer, see?”
Anastasia nodded. “Well, it’s, uh, nice to meet you, Susanna.”
Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina growled. “Say it all!”
Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina nodded. “Thass more likes it. Now, then, you’ve gots to pay your tolls, whether you wants to cross our bridge or not. We want long, juicy names.” The troll pointed to Anastasia’s friend. “Whassname?”
Tim gave a small bow. “My name is Tim, and I–”
Tim was interrupted by an awful gagging sound. Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill appeared to be dry-heaving, while Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill had his tongue hanging out, rubbing it with the back of his hand as if he ate something awful.
“Pteh!” Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill spat. “What kind of name is that?”
“Ugh.” Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina frowned at Tim. “Awful name. Awful, awful name. Whassat, three letters? I ain’t eatin’ a three-letter name. Rather eat sewage.
Tim blinked. “I quite like my name, actually.”
“You would do, wouldn’t you? You humans give each other disgusting short names, like…like Bob, and Dan, and stuffnames. We’ll deal with you later, Tim. For now, we’ll be dealin’ with your friend ‘ere. So, whassname, eh?” Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina leant fowards towards Anastasia. “Go on, whassname?”
“My, er.” Anastasia panicked. If they knew how long her name was, she would be left nameless forevermore, such was the nature of the Name Trolls. She covered the left spot on her chest, where her name was embroidered on her shirt. “My name, er…it’s, er…it’s…Anna.”
“Anna?” Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill said, sneering. “That’s no good. Anna’s an average name. We got bigger morsels to eat than Anna, boss. Let’s let these kids run home.”
“Shaddap!” Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina clouted his companion across the back of his head. “Don’t be an idiot! Don’t you see? This girl brained her name! Nobody brains their name, do they? You just say it, doncha?”
“Ohh yeaaaahh,” Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill said, a light-bulb turning on inside his head. “She brained it, didn’t she? Properly brained her name. Who brains their own name?”
“She’s hidin’ it. I bet she’s got a longer name than Anna. A nice, big, juicy name for me to eats. And look, she’s trying to sneak something.”
The larger troll grabbed hold of Anastasia’s concealing arm. Lifting her off the ground, he peered at the embroidered name on her shirt. “Ah, see? Sez ‘ere it’s Anastasia. Anastasia! What a nice name that is, eh?”
“Anastasia,” Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill said with air in his voice. “What a lovely name that is! I can’t wait to eat that name up and make myself even more powerful!”
“Whassat?” Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina turned to his companion. “You’re not ‘aving any of it. I saws her name, I gets to eats it.”
“Shaddap. Your name is long enough to take someone’s eye out. I wants her name, I does.”
“You shaddap! I’m the boss around here, I gots the longer name! I says what we do with her, alright?”
Anastasia’s mind was racing. She didn’t want to wait around to find out which troll would eventually lay claim to her name. The big one wanted more power, but the little one wanted a longer name. Whose name could she tempt the little one with to get the scent off of her?
“Excuse me,” Anastasia said. “Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill?”
“I was just wondering…if you want a longer name so badly, why don’t you eat the name of Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina instead?”
“Hah!” Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina grinned. “Nice try, but us trolls gotta pact, you see? ‘Nevvur evvurr eats anuvver trolls names’, it sez. Us, we’re like brothers, we are. An’ we’ll never breach that pact, or else me name ain’t…ain’t…”
Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina blinked. He was having a great difficulty trying to say his own name. When he turned to Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill for help, he instead saw the tell-tale sign of a name consumption — a green mist leaving the larger troll’s skull, and entering the open mouth of the smaller one. When the last of the mist had been consumed, the smaller one licked its lips.
“Wow,” Chris-Luke-Percy-Bill-Susanna-Alexander-Jennifer-Christina said. “My name’s extra big now! Now I bets I can rules over the lot of ya! You there, troll with no name! Bow down to me or else I’ll do yer head in!”
“I’ll bow to you when I’m dead!” the enraged nameless troll said, throwing Anastasia to the floor and storming towards the name thief. The fight that occurred between the two was so loud, the whole town would be awoken by their yelling and screaming. But nobody noticed the two shadows slinking past the fight, over the bridge and out of the town as they ran.
“Maybe I should go with ‘Timothy’ instead,” Tim mused as they fled the town.