A short while ago a group of authors got together to write an anthology of humorous and dark work, called For Whom The Bell Trolls. The authors receive no financial reward for their work. Net profits go to the charity, Equality Now. However, that’s not the reason to read this book – the reason to read it is because it is hugely entertaining and brilliantly illustrated.
Each story or poem is based around the theme of trolls. You will find some great writing inside, trust me on that. Here is a snippet of my own short story, Boiling Point, which I’m proud to have had included in this great ‘antrollogy’…
troll noun: troll; plural noun: trolls (in folklore) an ugly cave-dwelling creature depicted as either a giant or a dwarf.
John Darby stood by the front door and steeled himself for the weekly ordeal. He adjusted the peak of his baseball cap and waited, trying to still his breathing and control the shake in his large hands. When he was ready, he opened the door and stepped out onto the pavement.
It was dark. The moon was hidden behind a thick bank of cloud, and for that John Darby was grateful. The streetlights had long since ceased to work. Well-directed stones from the gang of teenagers who hung out in these parts had seen to that. And Darby was glad of that, too, because the darkness covered a multitude of sins.
He shuffled towards the dim speck of light in the distance, the sack he held in one overlong arm trailing on the ground behind him. Darby’s breathing was laboured; it always was ever since he’d been a boy, back in the day. He could feel the mucus heavy on his chest. He tried to clear it but couldn’t, so he huffed his way towards the light of the supermarket.
It was nice to have these few moments of peace, to feel the light breeze on his face as he walked unmolested. It wouldn’t last. It never did.
He saw them up ahead, waiting — the boys gathering for the show. He kept moving, head down, his large shoulders slumped forward. With each step the tension grew, but he kept going; he had to.
There were six of them, sitting on the low wall of what had once been the Mason family home. He could see the red glow of their cigarettes, like tiny warning beacons in the night.
As he came parallel the abuse began.
“Oh man, look at the head on him… Jeeze put a bag over that thing would ya, it ain’t Halloween.”
Cackles from the others, but he kept moving.
Hoots this time.
One of them walked alongside him, but not too close. They weren’t stupid. The boy contorted himself and dragged his leg like it was a heavy log. “I’m not an animal… I’m a human being.” He slobbered out the words as his friends fell about laughing.
Darby had heard that one before. It was a poor imitation of Joseph Merrick — the so-called Elephant Man.
He felt a sharp sting in his thigh as a coin was flung at him — then another. Ten cent coins hurt.
“Go on Sasquatch… get your food. It’s feedin’ time at the zoo!”
“Man, he’s pig ugly… Can you imagine what his mom musta looked like? I wouldn’t hump her with yours Freddie!”
That hurt. Darby tensed his muscles. He could snap these boys in half like twigs, but what good would that do? It would only bring more trouble on his head.
He reached the supermarket, making sure to pull the rim of the baseball cap lower over his eyes. He didn’t want to scare anyone. Mr. Pargeter gave him a troubled nod as he swung the door open and shuffled inside.
This wouldn’t take long. Pargeter was a helpful man that way. He always made sure to have the order ready — ten tins of meatballs, eight tins of beans, fourteen mini pizzas, a tub of condensed milk and two slabs of Coke, his weekly ration.
Darby paid the bill, noting how the storekeeper avoided looking at him throughout the entire transaction. Then he filled the huge sack with the rest of the items, tucked the slabs under his arm and went back outside.
He waited for the taunting to start up again, but everything was quiet. The boys had gone.
Darby made his slow progress down the ruined streetscape towards home. Home… an ill-lit hovel that had somehow survived the developer’s wrecking ball… for now. His was the only house left on the row. A colony of bats had taken residence in a huge old shed out back and had saved him the inconvenience of moving. The regulations said that they could not be disturbed, so Darby stayed, too.
He opened the front door and stepped back into the welcoming darkness. He didn’t notice the smell; it had been there for so long. Around him the detritus was overwhelming, but he didn’t see it. All Darby saw was his La-Z-Boy amid a mountain of magazines and old newspapers. There was a coffee table somewhere, too, surrounded by dozens and dozens of plastic bags stuffed to the brim. They engulfed him like a comfort blanket, blocking out the world beyond.
He heard giggling. Darby stiffened. He was tired and it was one thing for them to jeer him in the street, but this was his home so he let out a roar and smiled as he heard their panicked cursing, their mad scramble as they tripped through his hoarded life and struggled out the back door.
You’ll find the rest of the short story here… http://goo.gl/DmnONk
The good thing is that all net profits from the ‘antrollogy’ go towards Equality Now.