Spodge woke to the sound of his mother scrubbing the moss from the bricks with the leathery palm of her hand.
“Mulge, Mulge, Mulge,” she muttered under her breath. Spodge knew better than to interrupt her while she was doing bridgework, so he splashed through the river to where he could usually find his father.
There must have been an early morning traveller, because Splew was gnawing at a torso. He tossed his son a spindly arm, which Spodge chewed on resentfully, feeling the bones splinter between his teeth. He was six now, nearly fully-grown, yet his father still treated him like some ogreling.
“Spodge?” he asked.
“Splew,” answered his father. Spodge didn’t believe him. Their bridge was in the middle of nowhere, between two towns and miles from either; there was no way anyone would come by on foot. He suspected his father of hiding the horse for later.
Once Spodge had finished his arm, he sat and waited for his father to offer him more. He could hear the cracking of ribs and the slurping of Splew’s tongue in the chest cavity, but it was clear he had forgotten about his son entirely.
Spodge had had enough. His blood began to bubble in his veins, hot and roiling. He looked around; there was no shortage of rocks. He smiled.
He returned to the bridge with his father’s newly-concave head dangling from one hand, and the remains of the traveller and the horse (which he had found nearby) dripping from the other. When his mother saw him she showed no surprise; this was, after all, what had happened to her father, and his father before that.
“Mulge,” she shrugged, and started the fire beneath the pot. There was nothing else to say, and besides, it was almost lunchtime.
This was written for, and came third in, February’s Zeroflash competition on the theme of trolls and other mythical or legendary creatures. You can (and should!) read the other entries here – including the winner Troll Farming in Bergen and runner-up How The Hell Do You Think They Pay for Bridge Maintenance, Anyway? here.
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