The Troll Toll
Synopsis: All who cross the bridge must pay the toll. But, every once in a while, there are exceptions.
Location: Under a bridge
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Object: Weight Scales
“Who is that trit trot, trit trotting across my bridge?”
The four young women stopped, and fell silent. Maeve, Jezebel, Kayli and Stella exchanged nervous glances, before Stella spoke “It’s just us, the girls from the village. We are on our way to Serpent town for the ball.”
“Do you have money for my toll?”
“Then you will not pass!” the voice bellowed.
“Isn’t there another way we might be allowed to cross?” For a long moment there was nothing but silence.
“There is one way….”
Stella sat on a rock listening to the boots of her former companion’s trit trotting as they crossed the bridge and headed into Serpent town. She shivered, rubbing her arms for warmth, listening to the river bubbling a few feet behind her.
The dark shape of the troll stalked to and fro in the bridges shadow. He was just short of seven feet tall and bulged with muscle, bulkier about the torso, neck and arms than a normal man.
“Do you have a comb?” it asked from the shadows “I wasn’t expecting guests.”
“Guest? Is that what I am?” Stella’s cried, her voice raising an octave “I thought I was your prisoner. Some sort of troll toll moll.”
“No need to get snippy.” He growled back. ”Usually when I ask for a virgin sacrifice people just give up and go home. I didn’t think I would actually get one.”
“Yeah,” Stella said with a sigh “we really wanted to go to that dance.”
The troll said nothing. Somewhere in the night a cricket was chirping. Stella sat on her rock fidgeting and shivering, whilst the troll moved back and forth in restless lumbering movements. “So what is going to happen to me?”
“I’m supposed to eat you,” it replied, ”either that or marry you.”
“Oh,” despite the cold, Stella could feel the sweat forming upon her forehead. “I can’t marry you. I just wanted to go dancing. No one said anything about getting married! Where would we live? Under a bridge our entire lives. Besides you’re a troll. An evil goat stealing, smelly, ugly, hideous, bridge troll.”
The shadow moved forward until the light from the moon illuminated its features. Stella had never seen anyone with so much muscle. It was like his body had been attacked by a highly co-ordinated swarm of bees. Sculpting and shaping his form.
His face was squarish, but other than his ears being far too high on his head and the two sharp teeth curling from the lower jaw up and over his top lip, he looked like any other man. By no means was he hideous. He frowned at her with cold eyes and a low and guttural growl escaping his lips.
“Well, that’s what my Pa always said whenever a goat went missing. He would say that trolls must have got ‘em.”
The troll’s large arm shot out, up and over Stella’s shoulder. His forearm was almost as big as her head, and she watched mesmerised as the muscle rippled back and forth. When he pulled back he was holding something in his hand. A set of weight scales.
He placed the scales on the rock next to her. His dark brown eyes never leaving hers. On one side of the scales were a set of weights, on the other a few coins. Not enough to offset the weights. “See this? This is my quota. Every month I work my butt off under this bridge to meet it. I’m not the one trying to get a free ride in the world because I am pretty. I do not steal!
What am I supposed to do with you? If I eat you, do I meet my quota? No. If I marry you, do I meet my quota? No. But troll law says if you take a virgin, you got to eat her or marry her. It is so typical of troll law, it make no sense!”
“So are you going to eat me?”
“I’m a vegetarian.”
“So, marriage then.” Both Stella and the troll exhaled heavily at exactly the same time.
“I don’t want to get married.” muttered the troll.
“But, you do think I’m pretty.”
“I did say that, didn’t I?” the troll looked bashful. It was kind of cute.
Stella smiled “I’m sorry I said you were evil, ugly and hideous.”
“You also said I was smelly.” She shrugged. The troll laughed. “OK , I’ll give you that one. Trolls are pretty awesome, if you give us a chance. Except the ones I know, who tend to be revolting and enjoy beating each other in the face with rocks, so I may be the rather awesome exception to the rule.”
“Hey!” Stella cried, a thought leaping into her head. “If the law says we have to get married, what does it say about divorce?”
The troll looked at her with widening eyes. “Divorce is not unheard of.”
“On the same day?”
“Scandalous, but not illegal.” They both looked at each other and started laughing. “I’ll make the arrangements. If you promise to come back tomorrow, I’ll let you go home. But if you don’t come back I’ll destroy your village and eat all your goats.”
Stella laughed, standing up from the rock. “Thank you.” The troll shrugged.
“Maybe, you could come visit me sometime. It gets pretty lonely here, and I don’t really like a lot of other trolls.” He looked down at his feet and for the first time he seemed almost shy and a bit sad.
“I’d like that.” Stella replied. She started to walk away, but after a few steps she stopped. “Would you like to dance with me?” She asked him.
“I never made it to the ball. You have been pretty nice to me, maybe, if you want, we could dance?”
“But, there is no music.”
”I don’t mind.”
“Why? Because I was nice to you?”
“That, and because I want to.”