The Fortune of Goblins
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Joshua Cox-Steib
The Fortune of Goblins
Gurgle finished loading the cart, hopped into the low-hanging driver’s seat, and took off down the road, driving away from his establishment. It was the biggest accomplishment of his short life – a goblin with property on Peoria. Right in the heart of the great Mesa-Municipality of Tulsa.
Sometimes he wondered about that. He hadn’t met with the violent antagonism that his clan had warned him of. His new neighbors had been the spirit of hospitality, so far. Gurgle had been worried that he’d stand out for living in his shop, but many of the other store owners in the area lived in lofts above their stores, or attached cottages behind them. All in all Gurgle thought it was by far the best place he’d ever lived.
The cart merged violently into traffic along the busy thoroughfare, honking as needed. He was driving the new model, and you didn’t want to be in the way of one of those when its horn went off. The sonic wave produced was enough to rattle most other carts into broken heaps. He’d gotten the vehicle shortly after moving into the shop. One of his neighbors had helped him with money; definitely the nicest of his new friends. The orc had said that he worked in books. Gurgle hadn’t known booksellers made so much money.
The bookseller, Knuckles, had been by Gurgle’s shop a number of times since then. Admiring his new cart and giving Gurgle meaningful looks. Gurgle in turn admired the distinctive bracelet that the orc always wore. Knuckles was a much better neighbor than the goblins back in the clan had been. None of them would have taken so much time out of their day to make sure that Gurgle had everything he needed. They’d been just as likely to bite him as talk to him.
Yes, this was a significant improvement – Gurgle thought, as he barreled around the last turn, hung the entirety of his small body’s weight upon the break lever, and squealed the cart into a boisterous, smoke-filled halt out front of a large warehouse. Just up the street a dark path of twisted steel burrowed through the perpetual dusk of Mesa-Tulsa. It was part of the rail system. Gurgle shuddered just thinking about it, and the oil barons that worked their dark powers through it.
Not to worry though; he’d paid his dues, and hung the proper charms on his property. Those barons would have no quarrel with him, just so long as he minded his own business. Gurgle closed his thoughts on the matter as he opened the double-wide, steel doors that led into his sanctuary.
Everything that he wasn’t currently selling, or using, was in this warehouse. It was his treasury, and it was the testimony of his life’s work. The location itself was his crowning achievement. It was unheard of for tribal goblins to own property within the city. City goblins – those goblins born to the cities – were different; they were tolerated on a regular basis, though still excluded from much.
That last part was the key to the whole thing from Gurgle’s way of thinking. Who really knew goblins? They barely bothered to tell themselves apart, and the other species of the municipalities usually did their best to ignore them all together.
When Gurgle had moved into the city proper, he had introduced himself as being from Mesa-Boston, having just moved here to settle down and run a business.
In truth, Gurgle had lived his whole life just outside of Tulsa, out in the southern wastes. It started a few miles south of where his shop was located. Past that was a desolate waste-land for miles. Blasted to bits by a riot of madness, hatred, and fear long before Gurgle had been born. Old traces of magic lingered there, like angry echoes of the suffering that had occurred. It did things to the land, and to those that lived there. It changed them.
The way he looked at it, Gurgle was doing his new neighbors a favor with this little bit of deception. He was saving them from all the fuss and trouble that would have ensued had they known his true background. Wasters just weren’t acceptable company. Sure, it was okay to take what meager money they had, in exchange for overpriced goods and poor service, but when it came to every other social arena they were taboo. All sorts of creatures lived within the wastes, and they were all treated with persecution.
Gurgle figured he had it double bad – being a waster goblin.
A snarl interrupted his thoughts. From memory he located a thin, dangling chain and pulled it. Light flooded the warehouse. Cages lined the walls on either side, forming a dark, drain-filled alley of concrete down the center. Gurgle whistled quietly as he walked softly towards the far end of the warehouse, where a large dog sat growling. As the goblin drew closer, growls turned to death promising snarls. The dog began a tense stalk forward – closing the gap. It pounced.
Gurgle hit the floor hard, the weight of the dog pinning him down. He struggled to throw the beast off, but no matter how he wiggled escape was an impossibility. Finally, the assault was too much for him, and he struggled to speak past the large tongue plastering his face. The dog, whom Gurgle had named “Kisses”, gave forth a high pitched whine, but finally settled back onto its haunches – freeing the goblin.
“Time to feed the pets.”
Gurgle went to a large refrigerator along the back wall, and with only a slight grunt of effort, pulled it open. The goblin dug about within the large, steel rectangle, before emerging with an armful of packages, each wrapped in stiff, white paper. Still whistling, he began walking back down the center, tossing packages into cages as he went. He ran out of packages before he ran out of cages, but it was no accident – not everything in there eats.
A myriad of growls, snarls, chomps, and other beatific sounds greeted the feeding. Gurgle’s pets were the heart, as well as the guardians of his sanctuary. There was quite an assortment within the warehouse. Some though, he’d had to leave back in the southern wastes – the ones that couldn’t be contained.
The city didn’t approve of such things. Like the humans that had driven them to live in this condensed caricature of reality, the people of Mesa-Tulsa didn’t consider anything bigger, or more dangerous than a dog to be acceptable. The Lich that had founded this particular municipality had been born a human, and was reputed to have had an inordinate fondness for the favored pets of that species.
Gurgle liked dogs, those that remembered their roots. Domestication had ruined most of the poor creatures. A sad thing, that. Why’d people, fey and human alike, have to go around teaching animals how not to act like themselves? It was bad enough that they all did it to their own young.
He figured that was their business, but it hadn’t stopped him from doing everything he could to unlearn all he could about how to be a goblin. It seemed to be going well. There was the occasional slipup, and some few things that were just too ingrained – things he didn’t even notice. For the most part though, he was having a far easier time getting settled into the city than he’d expected.
Growls followed the goblin as he went back through the warehouse, checking on each of his pets before wrestling open the oversized steel doors, and leaving the warehouse behind – doors open wide, and lights on. A few minutes after the goblin drove off a large dog padded silently out into the dusk-lit city. After a brief pause to sniff the air the dog disappeared into the city’s perpetual shadows.
Impertinent hours passed, and the city life went about its business.
Gurgle was back at his shop, preparing his robot assistant – his shopbot – to handle the customers while he went upstairs to grab some sleep. The dog was watching him from outside. It wasn’t alone. On the sidewalk, just in front of the bush-concealed canine, stood a large-framed man of seven or eight feet – a clear sign of orc heritage. The man was watching Gurgle’s shop, and he was scowling. He started forward with the sudden jerkiness of one harshly divided. A low growl rumbled out from the bush, and the man pulled up short, his expression darkening even further.
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A strangely suspenseful tale of bigotry, guile, confusion, and unusual creatures. This tale features a fictional, condensed caricature of the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma - cast into a setting of mythical creatures, and disturbingly human social issues. "Gurgle was eager to break into the social scene of the city, having overheard much about it from the lady specter that lived behind his shop. She was always out hanging laundry, gossiping away on the phone. Always. Apparently she had died some years back while hanging laundry, and had simply never stopped. She’d slowly gone from zombie to ghost as her body decomposed, and the city let her be. The property had been kept in the family, but was currently being rented to a cute little family of Drow. Well, one was Drow and the other a Duergar; Gurgle had heard all about them. And what he’d heard of their life had him very interested."