TOLL THAT TROLL
by Mark David Stallard
Troll lurched down the lane, his clawed feet gouging the hardened dirt. The sun
pounded on his furry back. If he had sweat glands, he would have used them.
It would be cool under his bridge. As long as there was water in the river, it would
be nice and dank.
Three months had passed since he saw his bridge. Then, there were showers
every day. The whole world was dank. He'd seen a lot of the world, even eaten some of
The road was full of elves, imps, and other faery folk going this way and that.
Never had so much traffic been on the road when he owned the bridge.
The new owners had fixed it up, put a cover over it. Cedar shingles. Very nice.
They must be having a feast, all this food crossing over their bridge.
Everyone went onto the troll bridge. They knew it was a troll bridge. There was a
sign. The funny thing was, 'troll' was misspelled.
Troll stood facing the bridge. It was dark and shadowy, welcoming. Relief from
He lurched on. Scrape, scrape, scraping his knuckles on the boards.
"Who's that scrape, scrape, scraping over my bridge?" said a bleating, voice.
"It is only, I. A hot, irritable troll." Troll squinted. "I know you. You're Gruff, the billy
"One of them," said the goat.
"The little one." Troll smacked his lips. He felt like a snack.
"Pay me tuppence and be on your way," said Gruff the smallest.
Troll frowned. "Why should I do that?"
"Because, this is a toll bridge."
Troll chucked. "It's pronounced troll. The sign's spelt wrong."
"The sign is correct." The goat frowned. "The toll is tuppence."
"I'd rather eat you." Troll grinned.
"Sorry, I'll have to call my manager." The goat bleated.
Trip, trip, trip. Another goat walked from the other end of the bridge.
"What's all this?" said the other goat.
Troll cocked a brow. "You're the middle-sized Billy Goat Gruff."
"Pay the toll," said middle sized Gruff.
"I'd rather eat you and your brother." Troll flashed his fangs.
"Then face the wrath of the owner." Gruff the medium bleated. "He's beaten you
The largest Billy Goat Gruff appeared at the other end of the bridge. He
thundered toward Troll, horns down, ready to butt.
Troll sidestepped, grabbed a horn, and spun the goat around.
"You tried that move last time, idiot." Troll snarled and gobbled up all the Billy
Goats Gruff. One. Two. Three. Very tasty.
He reclaimed his bridge and charged those waiting but a penny. And they paid.
And they continued to pay. He knew it was only a matter of time before they realized the
sign was misspelled.
Until then, creatures would pay him to eat them. Life couldn't get much better for
a once hot, irritable troll under his refurbished bridge that was just a little bit dank.