13 July 2014

Short Story: Goblin Offerings

Don't you just hate it when real life gets in the way of you spending all day in Starbucks rattling away on your laptop writing stories? Ugh.

Over the last month I've been organising a move across the country, and have by some miracle managed to find employment and a place to live whilst being over two hundred miles away. Safe to say it hasn't left a lot of time for writing and/or blogging...

I don't want to neglect my little piece of internet though, so thought I'd post a pre-written story that I actually quite like. It's part of a growing collection of short supernatural stories, the rest of which you can read on Wattpad.

A few people have cited this one as their favourite, so I hope you enjoy it!

*   *   *   *

“Is it safe?”

Aisling sighed at her brother’s hesitance. She steadied her dark gaze in his direction, eyeing the back of his straw-blonde head as he peered into the swirling depths of the creek.

“Of course it’s safe.” Aisling gathered handfuls of her dress and stepped up beside Patrick on the wide, flat rock that protruded out over the water. The creek lapped hungrily at the edge of the rock, catching the toes of Patrick’s boots and causing him to squeak and jump back. Aisling rolled her eyes and caught him by the collar, hauling him back up beside her. 

“Don’t be such a baby,” Aisling snapped. Patrick shivered beside her, held in place by his sister’s rough grip. He turned his round baby-face towards her, eyes pleading.

‘Don’t make me do it, Aisling.” His voice came in a whimper, previous bravado gone.

“I thought you wanted to help?” Aisling sneered. “I thought you wanted to be the big man and bargain with the water goblins?”

“I’m scared,” Patrick whispered. “I don’t want to.”

“You’d let the family go hungry because you’re a frady-cat?” Aisling laughed cruelly. “Traipse home to mother and tell her the crops won’t grow a harvest because you were scared?”

Patrick wriggled out of Aisling’s grasp. He shrugged his skinny shoulders inside the oversized shirt, the thick cotton browning at the edges with age. It had belonged to their brother. Whilst not a large boy, his hand-me downs drowned Patrick’s starved, six-year-old frame. 

“Why can’t you do it?” Patrick shuffled back from the edge of the rock.

Aisling rolled her eyes again. “Because the goblin’s don’t accept offerings from human girls,” she said witheringly. “I told you. I’d have been in and out by now if I could have done it myself.”

Patrick sniffed loudly. “Why not?”

“We don’t have time for this,” Aisling hissed, stamping her foot with impatience. “The sowing is tomorrow. We’re losing the light. If you don’t do it now we’ll go hungry for another...”

“Alright.” 

Aisling stopped. She knelt a little so her eyes, dark as witching hour, were level with Patrick’s. Twin pools of deep green stared back at her, brimming with unspilt tears. 

“So you’ll do it?”

“Yes...” Patrick replied hoarsely. “I’ll do it.”

“Good.’ Aisling straightened, turning to face the river. “You’ve still got the offering?”

“Yes.” Patrick dug a shaking hand into the pocket of his trousers. He pulled out a badly wrapped brown package tied with string. Aisling took it and deftly untied the paper, pocketing the string in her pinafore. She held out the package’s contents; a roughly hewn wooden box, which gave off a faint scent of lavender and thyme. 

“Don’t let go of this until you see the goblins,” said Aisling. Patrick’s trembling fingers closed around the box. Aisling held tight, forcing Patrick to look up at her. “I mean it,” she instructed. “Let this wash away downstream and you’ll have nothing to bargain with, and you’ll have disturbed them without cause.” Her eyes narrowed. “You know what will happen then, don’t you?”

“Yes.” The tears in Patrick’s eyes finally spilled, cutting a line through the dirt smudged across his face. Aisling reached out a hand, uncharacteristically gentle as she brushed the tears away. She smiled, the love on her lips not reaching the cold of her eyes.

“You’ll be fine,” she cooed, guiding Patrick closer to the water’s edge with her hand placed firmly between his shoulder blades. “You’re a strong swimmer, and we’re not asking for the world. Just favourable weather and good soil for the sowing.” She bent her head and kissed the top of Patrick’s hair, before pushing him swiftly into the churning creek.

Patrick’s body was enveloped in ice. The winter chill had not yet faded into the warmth of spring, and the creek was forever in the shadow of the forest that surrounded it. The precious air stored in Patrick’s lungs was sucked out in a sharp gasp as the cold gripped him. His muscles tensed, his limbs clenching close to his body in a feeble attempt to conserve warmth. Patrick felt the fierce currant tug him mercilessly downstream. He let out a gurgled scream, sacrificing more oxygen as he cried to Aisling for help. In the struggle with the water, his finger’s lost purchase on the goblin’s offering. 

Panic surged through his frozen body and he reached out to snatch the box back from the creek. But direction eluded him as he as he spun through the water, and his hands caught nothing but reeds and mud. He wailed, his mouth filling with water as slimy hands curled around his body and dragged him down, down, down...

Sat cross-legged on her platform of rock, Aisling was humming to herself. The gentle tune was lost to the scream of the creek as it hurtled south over the rocks that littered the waterbed. She pulled the length of string from her pocket and twirled it around her fingers, lazily watching dragonflies skit over the water. She waited.

Before long she sensed a presence. She lifted her head and peered across the creek, searching. Her sharp eyes caught movement over in a patch of shrubbery. Her lips curled into a wicked smile.

“Good afternoon,” she said quietly, her voice barley carrying across the creek to the paid of bulbous green eyes that regarded her shrewdly. 

“Good afternoon,” croaked the goblin, emerging from the greenery. “We have accepted your offering. How may we help you?”


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