The Trouble of Trolls

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Trouble of Trolls

Whatever you are, be a good one.” –Abraham Lincoln

Trolls are everywhere.  I’m surprised you don’t hear them brought up in conversation more often.  I mean, everyone knows about the trolls that live in the forest and eat misbehaving teenagers.  The police would crack down on those troublesome creatures if they weren’t so darn big.  Sure, they’re good at hiding, but they’re not masterminds.  Besides, have you ever tried to hide a thirty-foot beast somewhere that they can’t be found?  No, you haven’t.  And if you have, you’d be the leader of the trolls.

As it stands, their need for hiding places has made them rather scattered.  It is hard enough to find a place where one giant thing can’t be found, forget about trying to hide an entire clan of them.  Out of necessity, they break up their groups and try to make it on their own.  They’re endangered, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t see them every now and then.  C’mon, all those photos of Niagara Falls and you’ve never seen the troll that lives behind the water?  Clearly, you’re just not looking hard enough.  He’s always there.  See how the falls bulge out a tiny bit?  Yeah.  That’s his nose.  The Niagara Falls creature is one of the lazier trolls. He stands there, not really doing anything.  Of course, the lazier the trolls are, the less often they terrorize us normal folks.  Everybody’s happy.  Nobody makes any waves; let bygones be bygones.  (However, I still can’t recommend riding a barrel down the falls.  It’s not the fall that’ll get ya, it’s the troll that will catch you if you fall right past him.  What, you’re going to pass up a candy bar if it happens to fall right in front of your face?  I didn’t think so.)

Let’s put to rest some thoughts that might be creeping in.  Not all trolls are out to snatch up people and eat them.  Granted, there are a few hairy behemoths that like the crunch of human bones, but we can’t judge a whole group because a handful has poor taste, right?  That would be akin to saying all people are scheming, conniving, trouble-making liars; when really that’s only describing politicians.

There are some perfectly nice trolls out there.  It’s just that the ones eating people get all the attention.  “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” started it all with that cranky troll that tried to eat the three brothers.  Let’s talk about a famous, sort-of deceased troll that “lives” in a place you can safely visit.

Take the Fremont Troll, for instance.  He’s rather peaceful.  Well, now he sort of out-does stoic, but he was rather non-violent in his more mobile days.  See, trolls are nocturnal creatures.  If they stay out too late in the daylight, they get turned to stone.

What’s that?  You think that’s vampires?  No.  What’re they teaching you kids in school these days?  See, vampires have trouble with the sun because it burns.  Trolls don’t burn, they freeze.  Get it?  No?

See, trolls are descended from Gorgons.  Medusa wasn’t the only one in Greek mythology, she had two sisters.  The story goes that one of the Gorgons had a great love affair with a Cyclops.  Have you seen the pictures of Cyclops?  They’re pretty buff.  You can’t really blame the Gorgons for being attracted to them.  Plus, since they only had one eye, the Gorgon’s whole snake/spell/stone thing didn’t have the same effect on them.  Before you know it, one of the Gorgons gave birth to a thousand little babies.  Those little tykes grew up to be the creatures we call trolls.  Because of their parents they have some odd traits.  Some of them have nice hair while others would scare of any stylist.  Many of them have only one eye, but it is located on a side of their faces, not in the middle like their father’s.

That’s probably more information than you really needed, but now it makes sense why trolls turn to stone.  It doesn’t?  Look kid, put down the video game.  This is important stuff.  Here’s the thing, since their mother was a Gorgon, they have some stone-aspects in their genes.  If they spend too much time in the sun, then the bloodline takes over and they turn to stone.  That’s why trolls have such sheltered hiding places.  You know how some people get leathery, craggily skin from being in the sun too long?  It’s the same thing with trolls, except that their skin hardens into stone and it only takes a few moments.  (Apparently they’ve tried sunscreen, but it just isn’t strong enough to work for them.  You should still use it, though.  You don’t want to turn to stone, do you?  Or get sunburned?  I didn’t think so.)

The Fremont Troll is one of the nicest trolls that ever lived around these parts.  He was actually very helpful to the settlers when they first started building.  The Fremont Troll only asked that they try to leave him the deep waters as much as possible.  (That’s why the I-90 and 520 both have floating bridges.  Any stabilizing structures underwater would have ruined the Troll’s home.  However pontoons are nothing to trolls.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, The Fremont Troll still tried to avoid the spotlight.  He had all the same anti-social tendencies as most other trolls, he just controlled them better.  If someone fell off of a bridge and ol’ Frem was around, he would certainly fish them out.  After he’d saved them for the watery depths, he’d put them on a piece of wood or whatever debris was around and let them float to safety.  He didn’t want any of these clumsy humans to die, but he wasn’t about to carry them all the way to the shore.  Can you blame him?

Appropriately enough, it was The Fremont Troll’s willingness to help others that got him into trouble.  You see, one early morning a girl named Aurora was walking along the Aurora Bridge.  Oh believe me, I know.  Aurora and Aurora?  What’re the odds?  Somebody must have known this would make for a great story.  Anyways, this girl Aurora is about four years old.  She either wandered away from home or her mom was taking her to visit someone and their car broke down; the story changes depending which local you listen to.  What we know for sure is that the little girl ended up falling over the bridge.

Now ol’ Frem, he happened to be in the area.  It was around sundown and the fella felt like taking a lap or two around the lake.  He was waiting underneath the darkest part of the bridge for the sun to remove itself as a threat.  That’s when he saw Aurora falling.  The girl, not the bridge; but wouldn’t that be a sight to see?

Quick as a flash, without a second thought, The Fremont Troll ran towards the bridge.  He ducked around the concrete supports, he ran down the hill, and just before the land turned into water, he jumped off the top of a colossal tree and dove into midair.  Like something out of the movies, he caught the girl, curled up into a ball, and cushioned her blow as they both landed.  An unbelievable splash flew up into the air as the two cannonballed into the water.

The Fremont Troll knew enough about humans to realize that Aurora wasn’t going to survive for long.  She was young, she was soaking wet, and she was already shivering from the cold.  Staying damp would have meant her demise.  The hairy creature walked out of the water, holding her in the forearm of his right limb.  He let the last rays of sun warm her while he grabbed some trees and collected them in his right arm.

As soon as The Fremont Troll had enough pieces of kindling, he made for the shelter of the bridge.  He knew it was most likely doomed, but he didn’t see that he had any choice.  The Fremont Troll crawled into the most recessed, most sheltered enclosure that the bridge had to offer.  He watched with his one glassy eye as the fire slowly warmed the little girl.

Aurora’s parents, having watched the whole thing in horror, came zooming up in their Volkswagen Bug.  Like any good parent, they wanted to make sure that their daughter was okay.  The two swallowed their fear of the troll and parked right in front of him.  They slammed the doors shut as they ran to their daughter.  At that point, she was almost back to her normal self.  The parents held Aurora close and wept tears of joy.

They turned to thank their daughter’s savior, but it was too late.  The exposure to the sun had done its damage.  The troll felt a sharp pain and he lashed his arm out in anguish.  He clutched the closest thing he could find, the VW Bug, and clenched his long fingers around it as the searing agony took over his body and he was turned to stone.  Oddly enough, due to its proximity to the behemoth, the car was turned to stone as well.

So yes, there are good trolls out there.  Still, we think it makes sense to keep our distance.  Every once in a while, if they’re feeling friendly, the trolls will make themselves known.  But some creatures just have a hard time controlling their desire to eat us.  Live and let live, right?

Oh, and don’t feel too bad for The Fremont Bridge.  There are still people looking for a cure.  Really, all you need is a few red feathers from the wings of a Pegasus.  It may take a while, but they’ll find one.

What’s that?  You’ve never seen a Pegasus?  Really?  Dang.  Kid, we gotta get you out to some bigger zoos.  I mean, that’s just silly.

Shouldering the Burden of the World

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Shouldering the Burden of the World

Who was it who said, ‘Blessed is the man who has found his work’? Whoever it was he had the right idea in his mind. Mark you, he says his work–not somebody else’s work. The work that is really a man’s own work is play and not work at all. Cursed is the man who has found some other man’s work and cannot lose it.” -Mark Twain

Alan’s back was starting to bother him.  He hadn’t expected the assigned task to be so arduous.  As the sun beat down on his forehead, the chore he had been saddled with was becoming irksome.  If Alan were to admit the truth, he wanted to heave the burden off his back and never pick it up again.  However, since he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, he thought that might have some negative repercussions.

At first, Alan thought he could handle doing this favor for the animal with no problem.  If a turtle; or was it a tortoise?  Alan couldn’t tell.  Whichever one it was, Alan felt sure that if this little creature could carry the world and all its contents on its shell, then certainly Alan could pull it off as well.  Now Alan was starting to wonder if the turtle’s four legs hadn’t made things a bit easier for the animal.  In addition, Alan wondered if the turtle hadn’t over simplified things.

It had started out so innocently.  Alan had been sitting by the water fishing.  His pole wasn’t technically in the water and there wasn’t really any bait on the hook.  Alan didn’t feel the need to exert much effort since he never caught fish when he tried.  Then out of the water came an interesting shape.  As it moved toward him, Alan noticed that there was a turtle emerging from the water.  Sure enough, on its back was the whole wide world.

The turtle, being the calm and conversational sort, started off with a very slow and relaxing salutation.  It bobbed its head along slowly as it took a step here and a step there.  Its mouth opened and closed with a leisurely air.  He asked Alan how life was treating him.  Alan replied that he had no complaints, and then made the mistake of asking the turtle how it was.

The heavily-laden turtle sighed loudly.  It launched into a tale of woe about its lot in life.  Some creature had to hold the people, the animals, nature, and take care of it all.  The turtle understood that each creature in this life has their troubles, but it had been many millennia since anything resembling a break had been offered.  The turtle wondered if Alan might possibly take over for it.  The turtle had a long list of errands it had been putting off, plus it wanted to explore the world a bit.

Now, to some people this would all sound rather absurd.  How could the turtle be walking around on the very ground that it is carrying?  How could there be an Earth on the turtle’s back if it is traveling on that same Earth?  Alan thought about making a logical argument, but then the truth hit him.  If an animal has been given enough power to carry all of creation around on its shell, then surely that same animal would have enough power to make mini-turtle selves to chat with simple folks.  Alan pondered the turtle’s predicament.

On the one hand, Alan was no fan of taking on extra work.  He was quite happy not having any problems, let alone carrying around everyone’s.  Yet, as any fool knows, mythical creatures get checked in on by their supervisors whenever there is a blue moon.  Everybody has a higher-up to answer to, and these powerful beings are no exception.  Also, Alan was assured by the turtle that while it couldn’t promise anything specific, the universe would remember any act of kindness that Alan showed.  Deciding that having the universe owe him a favor could only help him in the long run, Alan took on what he assumed would be a short-term chore.

As the hours passed at what seemed like an incredibly sluggish pace, Alan continued to question the wisdom of his confusion.  First and foremost the world was heavy.  Alan had once lost a giant tree in his yard and it had taken him a week to cut up the lumber into small enough pieces that he could manage.  Now he was in charge of countless trees of seemingly endless varieties.

Then there were the rocks.  Oh, the vexing rocks.  Alan wished it was the warm core of The Earth that was against his back.  Instead, he had cold, often jaggy peaks and glaciers stabbing at him.  Plus he was always wet.  If it wasn’t the ocean it was a waterfall.  The lakes, the rivers; the moisture seemed to get in every nook and cranny that they came across.

Of course the discomfort of the terrain itself was not Alan’s only problem.  Humans, being the demanding sort that they are, just kept wailing out with complaints.  Alan had one bad day of dandruff and he didn’t hear the end of it for weeks.  Everyone from Australia to India, including the Philippines and all their island neighbors, cried and vented to the skies about the snowfall.  The blanket of whiteness that crushed their homes and made their homes treacherous was somehow all Alan’s fault.  How was he to know that not using the right shampoo would completely disrupt billions of lives?

Alan no longer knew how many days had passed.  It was hard to keep track of the entire Earth-Sol rotation mathematics when one of the two variables in the equation was pinching his spinal column.  For all he knew, the turtle could have gone for three months, or three days.  Alan simply didn’t know.  He considered turning around and around in circles to speed up the passage of days.  However he assumed that doing such would throw off the Earth’s gravity and possibly the magnetic poles.  Alan was impatient, but he didn’t need that kind of hassle.

In the end, Alan did what he did best.  He lay down and took a nice long nap.  The seasons lasted a little longer than usual that year.  The world waited for fall to come or spring to arrive, but Alan was in no hurry to move.  He simply flopped down on his belly, closed his eyes, and waited for the blue moon to come and the turtle to take back its responsibility.

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