A troll finds a new home in the city
|A Bridge Too Far
Mugglegub the troll was in deep trouble. To be more precise, he was in triple trouble.
Most obviously, he was hopelessly lost. He had some idea of how he had arrived at his present position but he had no idea of how to get back. This was a major drawback to hiding from daylight by climbing under a tarpaulin in the back of an ooman’s truck. In his subsequent journey he had cursed himself many times for ignoring the mobility of such hiding places.
His second problem was that, having been delivered to the truck’s destination and the fall of night allowing him to emerge, he found that he was in the middle of an ooman town. In fact, it was the biggest town he had ever encountered. All night he had searched for a way out, sneaking from dark corner to shadowed alley, until he despaired of there being an end to the streets and houses. The number of oomans abroad at night went against everything he knew about them and he had to spend much time hiding rather than progressing with his search.
The third aspect of his trouble became apparent with the lightening of the sky in the east. Dawn was nibbling at the edges of the night and he must find a place to hide for the day. It was important that the oomans not see him but far more immediate and pressing was the need to escape the dehydrating effect of the sun. He had no wish to end up as a withered, mummified bridge troll in an ooman museum.
It was fortunate that the tide of oomans in the streets had died away as dawn approached and Mugglegub was able to use some of the broader streets in his desperate search. His emergence from the houses to an open area fronting a river gave him hope that he might yet survive his troubles.
A river meant bridges and bridge trolls know what bridges are for. Reaching the bank, he looked both ways, upstream and downstream, hoping to see the dark shape of an arch or two spanning the river. He found one, upstream and towering over him so that he almost missed it, taking its looming blackness as a waterfront building. Looking up, he saw the dark arch leaping across the water to another tower on the opposite bank.
This was a palace compared to the simple stone bridges he was used to. Immediately he began to climb the rough surface of the tower and then clambered into the network of metal beams forming the underside of the bridge. Wanting to get far away from any oomans on the bank, he kept going until he thought he was about halfway across the river. Here he stopped, settled himself into a secure corner and he fell asleep as the day arrived to brighten the river and the town. On the bridge above, ooman traffic increased until the world seemed to tremble at their numbers, but still the troll slept.
He was awoken by a great shudder that ran through the bridge as though it were about to fall down. Mugglegub’s eyes grew large as he realised the bridge was moving. Not only was it moving, its speed was increasing with every second. The troll could feel that he was being tipped up so that his head faced down towards the water. He wriggled around to face this new threat.
Still the bridge moved upward, forcing Mugglegub to hold tightly to the scaffolding around him. Up, up he went and now daylight split the darkness to reveal the truth: the bridge had broken in two and both sides were rising like two arms into the sky. Now the sunlight could seek him out and the troll cringed as he felt its full strength illuminate him.
He must be seen, he thought. His hiding place was betrayed. Much worse was that, long before the oomans saw him and came to stick him with their spears, he would be burned and frazzled by the sun into a brittle, dry remnant of a troll, like a dead leaf on the forest floor.
Mugglegub squeezed his eyes tight shut against the glare and prepared to suffer his inevitable fate. He did not see the ship passing through the raised arches of the bridge and the two tall yachts that followed it. He knew only that his expected end was taking a long time to arrive.
Bridge trolls can be extremely brave when pushed and now Mugglegub forced an eye open to see what was happening. His skin showed no sign of the legendary shrivelling predicted by all the tales. Indeed, it displayed a rather attractive green sheen in the sunlight and his warts sparked highlights like jewels embedded in his flesh.
He opened the other eye. It was true; the sun had not dessicated him like a long dead tree and he was quite beautiful in his greenness. Looking around, he could see how the bridge had parted over the sparkling water, how the town seemed less threatening as it basked in the heat. Mugglegub laughed to think of the fear that had been installed in him for so many years. It was all for nothing and he was free at last!
That is how Tower Bridge in London comes to have a resident troll. Few people have seen him for he remains wary of “oomanity” and those lucky few shake their heads and swear to give up alcohol forever. If you ever get the chance to visit the city, go to the north bank where Tower Bridge stands and watch the opposite span when the bridge opens. If your eyesight is sharp and you are very lucky, you will see Mugglegub holding on in a corner of his beloved bridge. But I would warn against getting too close. He is a troll, after all.
Word Count: 985