Every movement jarred Maggie’s leg, and her glasses kept slipping down her face, but she pushed them up, bit her lip, and told herself to be brave. The Goblin was cutting through the forest like a loosed arrow, his feet pattering softly on the ground, his breath deep and steady as a racehorse. They were going faster than her bicycle ever could and —her stomach leapt as he nearly flew over a fallen log—the taste of fear in the back of her throat mingled now with the heady buzz of speed.
Maggie loved going fast, loved the way the wind blew back her long dark hair, loved letting go of the handlebars and flinging out her brown limbs in joy and abandon. But that was what got her into this mess. She’d gone too fast, hadn’t seen the rotting board, and fell straight into the iron grip of a goblin. She scrunched her eyes against the wind and tried to memorize the path they were taking—he was flying on foot and kept to no visible path –sometimes doubling back on himself or stopping abruptly and then changing course completely. But his actions seemed determined and steady, non-evasive. He wasn’t trying to cover his tracks—he was following a path only he could see.
The child’s tiny squeaks pierced the goblin’s ears, boring at his brain. He could feel her trembling; her sweaty little hands were digging into his skin, and he turned his head to snap at her, but thought the better of it. Small things had fast heartbeats, he knew, and the last time he unleashed his fury at something—a badger had attempted to burrow in his territory—his growl had stopped the poor creature’s heart. He needed her to finish his deal. He would be…patient and work to calm her. In a reedy voice he sang:
Let us go to the Goblin home
Where the hills are high, and the rivers deep
And the gold is bright, and the tunnels dark
And the shepherds tender as their sheep.
Let us go to the goblin home
Where foes are fed to the goblin tooth
And the goblin queen on her ruby throne
Leads her folk with claw and lash and truth.
His mother had sung this to him as a little one, its solemn drudging tune reminded him of the warped bells in the Queen’s hall, and he would dream of gold glimmering in torchlight and the queen’s great beauty. Pride and security, that was what put little Goblins to sleep at night. He wondered briefly if it was the same for humans, but put that out of his mind. Humans were a strange race of creatures- more cunning than his normal prey, but stupid all the same.