Solve a murder, save her mother, and stop the apocalypse?
She has a foul-mouthed troll on her side.
Suddenly, a small green streak of hair zipped past her and her eyes opened wide, as the little green troll ran past her. “No… fuck! I’ve got to get to work!”
She lunged for the small miscreant, chasing it around the room. Small, like five-inches small and almost nothing to grab onto, especially when it was moving in such a hurry.
The tiny creature was always in a hurry. “Come here, you pain in the ass! The weekend was hard enough already!” Leira picked up the cardboard shoe box she was using as his bed as the box fell into pieces. She threw down the small back piece of the box that remained in her hands. The washcloth she gave the troll for bedding was in strips, shredded among the remains of the box.
“Good to know. Little demon can cause some damage.”
Leira lunged again for the troll but came up empty, her fingertips just brushing the wild tuft of green hair.
The troll did a neat bounce, and a tuck and roll off the couch, landing on its feet. He zipped into the kitchen, leaving her impressed and frozen for a split second.
“Well, damn…” Her eyes narrowed as she heard a crash from the kitchen. “Fuck!” she yelled, as the frustration returned.
“Fuck!” chirped the five-inch creature, followed by a trail of laughter as Leira scrambled to move her ass into the kitchen.
“Great, your first Earth word,” she muttered, as more drawers opened and slammed shut. She got to the kitchen just in time to see a green streak slide neatly into her silverware drawer and close it tight.
She went and stood in front of the drawer. “I have to get to work, you little green pain in the ass!” She used her best detective voice, her heart pounding.
Damn, Lavender Rock did something to me. Still a buzz going right through me. That’s it! Everyone there looked like they were absorbing something…
“Double fuck Monday mornings.” She jerked the silverware drawer open. The troll stopped biting one of her spoons long enough to look up at her. There were tiny dents in the spoon from his sharp little teeth.
He jumped to the counter and banged headfirst into her honey pot-shaped cookie jar. The troll shook its head, dazed, teetering on one foot, its eyes not focusing very well at all.
Leira glanced at the time flashing on the microwave. “This is why I don’t have a roommate or a pet.” She ran to her bedroom for another shoe box.
Temporary fix will have to do.
“Hagan’s coming back to the squad room today. Fuck, I’m talking to the troll.” The troll stood still for a moment and looked up at her.
“Are you actually listening?” She arched an eyebrow, her hands on her hips and looked directly at the troll. “I need to be on time. Wasn’t your behavior last night bad enough?”
She had spent the day checking on Hagan. He was back home after only one night in the hospital. Leira told him to take a few days off until she realized she was only raising his blood pressure.
“It’s just a goddamn flesh wound,” he yelled.
“Passed right through some auxiliary flesh,” said his wife, Rose, patting his arm.
He grumbled but smiled. “She means fat. I’ll be at my desk tomorrow, ready to go. Cleared by a doctor, no less. A pile of paperwork awaits.”
Leira was worn out by the time she got home. Her mind was buzzing with everything that had happened in the past few days. Still floating from the after-effects from the rock.
She only made it as far as the couch, drifting off to sleep with the troll snoring happily from the inside of his box on the floor next to the couch. That night, she dreamed about magical Elves with balls of light and plants that moved to the sound of her voice.
But Leira was a light sleeper and the sound of loud rustling in her closet, or her trash can tipping over ripped her out of a dream and she leaped up from the couch to go find the troll.
It wasn’t until five a.m. and she found him in the recesses of her underwear drawer, turning in circles before settling down in a pile of cotton underwear.
He finally drifted off to sleep curled up in a furry ball.
She was tempted to reach out and pet the little guy as it shut its eyes and smacked its lips, satisfied to have finally found a nest.
She remembered the sharp, pointed teeth and how fast the troll grew into an oversized version of a dog when Mitzi casually knocked on her door.
Nope, please keep all fingers and other soft and crunchy bits away from the mouth of sir lots-of-teeth. She went back to the couch, her gun nearby.
Leira grabbed a couple of hours of sleep before her alarm went off, startling both herself and the troll who angrily banged against the walls of her dresser before taking off to explore the kitchen.
Apparently, this magical creature doesn’t like to get up early. Leira rubbed her eyes and followed the troll into the kitchen.
She could still feel the remnants of a buzz. Maybe that giant rock is giving off some kind of odorless gas. “Hey!”
The troll leaped behind her coffee maker, pushing it toward the edge of the counter.
“Not the coffee!” she yelled. She lunged for the glass carafe, catching it just in time and flashing the troll an ugly look. “That’s messing with my lifeblood.” She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and ran a hand through her short, dark hair.
Wish I had time to throw some water on my face. Trying to catch a five-inch troll is a sonofabitch.
The troll crawled into a bag of stale popcorn, happily munching its way to the bottom, scattering kernels everywhere.
“You’re cleaning that up.” Leira put the carafe back on the counter. “Look… we’ll get along a lot better if you never fuck with my coffee, my gun or my running shoes.” She took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. “Ever.”
As she let out the breath, the troll popped up at the top of the popcorn bag. He relaxed, dropping his shoulders, and smacked his lips, rubbing his belly, lazily looking up at her.
“Oh no…” A thought came over her. “Your emotions are connected to me?” She bit her bottom lip trying to come up with a way to prove her theory.
“Now!” Leira let out a roar, stomping her foot on the linoleum floor and glaring at the troll. He stirred in the popcorn bag, looking up at her, puzzled. “Okay, pretending is a no go.”
She let herself think of Prince Rolim as the knife went deeper into his body and his eyes widened in shock and pain.
The anguish on Queen Saria’s face flashed in Leira’s mind as she balled her hands into fists at her side and her anger grew at the thought of such a senseless death. Worse, the killer had gotten away and was somewhere here on Earth.
“Dammit,” she hissed.
A surge of anger flowed through the troll and he stood up straighter, leaping nimbly from the drawer to the floor, getting larger at an alarming rate. Leira watching in wonder until the green tuft on his head was brushing the ceiling.
He let out a growl, baring his teeth, and stomped the floor in a nice imitation of Leira.
“Fuck me, it’s true!” She looked up at him. “You feel what I feel.” The troll’s head brushed against the oversized brass lamp that hung in the center of the room, sending it swinging and raining dust down on everything.
“Gross, this is not good.” Leira covered her face with her hands and shook her head, trying to keep the dust from settling on her.
“Who knew there was so much crap up there?” She reached for a dish towel to wipe her mouth, trying to ignore the gritty taste.
The troll growled again, a low rumble that rattled the dishes in the sink.
“That was intense.” Leira stood still, keeping eye contact with the troll and assessing the danger.
“You don’t know this about me but I don’t run.” The troll growled, looking around the room for any approaching trouble. “Hang on, you’re not growling at me… You’re looking for danger… Damn, you’re trying to guard dog me…”
What had that Light Elf told her? Trolls bond with beings that help them. Bonding has to be a good thing, she thought. “I did save your life. That’s good, right?” She looked up at the troll, towering over her.
“Clearly I’m starved for conversation. I’m chatting with a giant troll in my kitchen covered in old bug dust.”
She sighed and tried to think of a happy place.
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” she muttered. “What’s happy?” She glanced at the huge troll. “Hanging out at the bar? No, not really. Going for a run. Maybe. Damn, why has this never come up before?”
The troll felt her growing anxiety and screwed up its face to roar again. He turned in a circle, stomping his feet, and bumped into Leira. “Son of a bitch!” She stumbled into the lavender quartz countertop, banging her hip.
“Dammit! Okay, okay, I admit it.” She brushed her hair out of her eyes. “My happy place is running someone down. A nice tackle and the sound the handcuffs make. There, you happy?”
The troll stopped stomping and trilled at her, cocking its head to the side. “I have my own personal Yeti. Look kids, Bigfoot…” A rumble passed through the troll’s chest. Leira could feel it under her feet. “Okay, okay. Happy places.”
Leira looked up into the troll’s eyes, staring down at her. “Looking over a murder scene with Hagan. Knowing someone is lying in an interrogation and getting in his face. These are a few of my favorite things.”
The troll shrunk down, shaking all over like a dog. Leira reached down to the floor and put out her hand. The troll leaped on, fitting neatly in the palm of her hand and promptly curled up into a ball.
“That wore you out,” she whispered, as she watched him get comfortable. “Interesting. Thank goodness you can’t say much besides fuck yet.” She pursed her lips and shrugged. “And can’t tell the world I’m happiest in the middle of mayhem.”
She sighed as the troll opened one eye and looked up at her. She gave him a crooked smile and he trilled softly, closing his eye.
She looked around the mostly clean kitchen. “This is going to be a long week at work. I’ll clean this up later.”
She walked to the couch and slid the sleeping troll into the roomy pocket of her favorite black leather jacket. The troll’s head popped out of the pocket and he looked around the room, stretching his arms.
“Stay put!” She went to grab a pair of her underwear, stuffing them carefully into the pocket, tucking the edges around the troll. “Those can be yours now. No need to give them back. Not sure Tide is equipped to get out troll.”
The troll closed his eyes and settled back down.
“At least we know your happy place now. Curled up in my underwear in a small, dark place. Turns out, the first word you learned was appropriate after all.” she said quietly.