“They can’t stand to spend even a moment in the sun.” I heard again the authoritative voice of my Goblopology Professor, deep and sonorous, holding court as beside him a near-naked, shivering goblin squatted in chains. It was pale, like a cave-fish, squinting beneath the bright lights of the lecture hall, cowering away from the flashing eyes staring down at it. “Now Goblins are interesting – how does a once social creature devolve into this? They have no concept of freedom, no concept of work or imagination. They haven’t even mastered basic agriculture. Perhaps the Goblin is a warning to mankind…”
Off the record, he was a pompous twat. Especially in my memories.
On the record? He was the best. But I had to know – had he ever ventured this far west?
He was wrong about so many things.
The voice of the sea murmured as if in prayer, a low whispering promise, luring the sun from its palace beneath the waves. Long, golden fingers stretched out from the horizon, and the bird-song chant of goblins rose alongside the susurrus of the waves as the troop climbed down the cliff-faces and scrambled onto the beach. Goblets dashed ahead of their parents, cavorting in the surf, while their parents watched on with careful and practiced patience, collecting the molluscs and sugar kelp left stranded by the tides, crawling over the stones that jut from the beach like teeth.
Their religion is convoluted, a confusingly knotted rope. Their social hierarchy is possibly even more indecipherable than their pantheon of gods and goddesses – in my mind I run through my first contact; I cannot count how many times I’ve gone over our meeting, again and again and again. For six days I’ve been bound to these stones, watching the tide rise and fall, inching ever closer. I see the high-water mark on the cliff-face that soars above me, like a giant hand enclosing the cove. I see the brilliant dazzle of the sun, painting the blue-purple-black ocean golden and blinding.
Last night I saw the moon, near-full.
The goblins chatter and bark around my feet, tightening the ropes that bind me, their high priest jabbering and gesticulating with his knife, pushing a wet sponge against my lips – I spit salt water and tears. The collectors pay me no mind, working around me, gathering the fleshy molluscs from my rock. The goblets are forbidden to look at me, and I see them sneak little stolen glances. I poke my tongue at them. The high priest rewards me with a slap.
Still the collectors wade between the rocks.
And the day marches on, toward night.
Written for Goblin Week, inspired by the beautiful sketch by Killian Czuba above, and using two of this week’s BeKindReWrite prompts: Moment in the Sun and Off the Record. Comments and criticism always welcome!