The Troll

It all started just like any other day…

OK, stop.

Thanks for choosing to read my new short story, “The Troll“, but before you read this story, you must be listening to the song “Bananaphone” by Raffi. Go and start that up now.

Excellent, you should now have “Bananaphone” by Raffi playing through your headphones or speakers.

I should explain: Listening to this song while reading this story is mandatory as it is intrinsically linked to the content, mood and overall flow of the story and so if you read “The Troll” without “Bananaphone” by Raffi playing, you’re only getting half of the intended experience.

So if you aren’t able to listen right now, if you’re at work and aren’t allowed music or you’re out and don’t have headphones or whatever, then stop reading here. Come back later. The story will still be here waiting.

It’s on Spotify, by the way, “Bananaphone” by Raffi. It’s also on Youtube. I think I’ll be able to put links up at the top for you to use, so if that works, you should be able to see them up at the top of the page there. In fact yeah, I’ve just done that. I’ve included the youtube video with lyrics, just in case you want to come back at a later date and sing along. However, this will not be necessary while reading the following story.

OK, so at this point you should be in a position where you can listen to “Bananaphone” by Raffi. Have you got it ready? Don’t start it yet, just have it ready. I’ll tell you when to start it. Shit, I already told you to start it, didn’t I. Sorry about that, just pull it back to the beginning for me really quick. In fact you can start it now, we’re ready.

For fucks sake, it actually turns out we need to wait a second, because at this point I know that there are still a couple of you that are just not taking me seriously. I see you. “Fuck that, I can’t be arsed”, or “Fuck that, I don’t like that song”, or “Fuck that, old man Franjo’s not serious when he says this stuff”.

I cannot stress enough how integral this song is to this story, so I really, really am serious about this: Stop messing about and load the song up, or fucking leave.

I’m serious, if you’re not going to show me the respect and do me the courtesy of taking this seriously, close this story down now. I take pride in this shit, you know. I take it very fucking seriously. Now get on Spotify or get on Youtube and load up “Bananaphone” by Raffi.

Thank you. I’m sorry about that. And I’m especially sorry to those of you who’ve had “Bananaphone” by Raffi loaded from the very beginning when I first asked you to. The above section wasn’t for you, there’s just a lot of time wasters out there, you know? Right, let’s begin. Oh shit, if you’ve had the song playing all this time, just bring it back to the beginning and press play for me. Right, here we go:

In fact, I’m so sorry, one last thing: I just need you to crank the volume on your device of choice up a smidge, just so that it’s “loud”. BUT not to the point that listening to “Bananaphone” by Raffi is in any way painful or uncomfortable for you. I do not want you to hurt yourself, it’s just that for immersion purposes I need you to have the song on nice and loud. But be safe and be comfortable. OK? Sorted? Right. Bloody hell this has turned out to be a lot of preamble. And I’ve left the song running again haven’t I, for fucks sake. In fact, it should still sync up fine, so just leave it running at this point. Lovely stuff.

Right, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, please immerse yourself in the rich tapestry that is the story of…

The Troll

It all started just like any other day…

Oh no. I’ve gotta split, sorry.


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My original short story.

Side note – It took a lot of scrolling through reddit to find this one. Picture the scene – It’s February (I think) 2017. Hungover as I’ve ever been in my life the morning after a family wedding, I can’t be arsed to listen to music or podcasts or play games on the long train home and my other half at the time isn’t in the mood to talk because of the aforementioned wedding alcohol and the dickheadishness that followed, so I start writing a story. It’s pretty dark, probably reflecting how near death I felt at the time, but I’ve been writing ever since because of this story. One of the better decisions I’ve ever made. I hope you enjoy, despite the fact that it’s a little rough around the edges.

A creaking floorboard makes me jump. I stay frozen just for a second and then check the clock on the wall; 2:46am. Another creak and i instinctively snap my eyes towards the stairs, scanning the inky darkness for any sign of movement.

My heart is hammering itself into my ribcage like its trying to escape. Who’s there? Do they know I’m here? Are they asking themselves these exact questions too?

Another creak, and another. Footsteps now, and I dash towards the cupboard, gently open the door, climb inside, and close it again. A moment ago the house was silent but now all I can hear is my heart thumping in my chest. It’s deafening.

The footsteps are growing louder and louder, closer and closer. I put my hand tightly over my mouth so that my breathing won’t give away my hiding place as the footsteps make their way into the room, probably a few feet away from me. And then they stop.

My eyes widen, my breathing quickens, and as silent as I’m trying to be, I genuinely worry that the sound of my violent heartbeat could give me away at any second.

There are no longer any footsteps, but I hear the breathing of their owner: nearly as quick as mine, but more strained and raspy. I’m trying to keep my head clear but all I keep thinking is one word over and over again: “Survive…Survive…Survive…”

Suddenly a voice pierces the silence. It’s a man’s voice. Low, and raspy like his breathing: “Hello?”

What am I meant to say? Does he know that I’m even here? I don’t know what to do! And all the while “SURVIVE…SURVIVE…SURVIVE”, the word is becoming louder. Bolder. Through the darkness I can see a shadow moving towards the door of the cupboard. He knows. He knows where I am and he’s coming to open the cupboard.

“SURVIVE! SURVIVE! SURVIVE!” Every time my heart crashes against my poor ribcage the word becomes brighter, more saturated, impossibly loud and vibrant and unavoidable. It’s time to take action. I reach down slowly and silently, fumbling and scouring the floor of the cupboard for an ally.

I find one. I caress the outline trying to figure out what I’ve picked up. I can’t make out what it is but it feels heavy, and blunt, and that’s good enough at the minute.

Instantly the cupboard door is thrown open, revealing the outline of the footsteps. The outline of the breathing and the voice. “SURVIVESURVIVESURVIVE”

I grip my new weapon as tightly as I can and hurl my hand towards the top of the outline. With a sickening thud and a loud crack the outline falls and is lost in the darkness.

Without hesitating I sprint to the front door. I know what I’ve done. The footsteps, the breathing, the voice. This is how I know you. And you can never be those things to anyone ever again.

I throw the door open and don’t stop sprinting until I’m well away from the house. I duck into a side street where I can be invisible once more, and lower my rucksack onto the floor. It’s heavy. Heavier than usual. I’ve done well tonight. I probably would have done even better if the old fool had just stayed asleep.


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A poem. Sort of.

“I choose the right”, said One that night, illuminated under light of room where Two had set up three white upturned cups for choosing.

“You idiot!” Two shook with glee. “You only have the choice of three, yet somehow every time we play this game you end up losing!”

“You only cheat!” One stamped his feet, shaking too with gritted teeth. “If I’m to play again, this time you’ll need to keep it fair.”

Two mixed the cups up as agreed. He smiled and gestured to proceed. One said “I’ll have the middle please, I saw you place it there.”

“Again, you’re wrong!” Laughed Two, in song, “Twas in the left one all along, you stupid fucking dick! I just cannot believe you’re blowing it!”

“You’ve swindled me again, you twat!” Said One, his anger rising fast, “Your treachery’s the reason that I’ve got no hope of knowing it!”

“I’ll bet you still can’t even guess” Smiled Two, “Where I will hide it next and please try to arrest the rage, it’s just unsportsmanlike.”

“Well why not just fucking tell me, Steven?” One screamed. “Tell me where the fucking ball is! The fucking ping pong ball! I’m sick of it! I’m sick of this stupid game!”

“Careful there please, One,” Said Two, “Afraid that I must caution you. We’re meant to rhyme, use numbers to preserve our anonymity.”

“I’m sick of the fucking numbers and I’m sick of that fucking rhyming pattern!” Cried One. “Tell me where the fucking ping pong ball is, you arse hole! I’m done! I’m fucking finished! It’s bullshit!”

Two’s eyes grew wide, he licked his lips. “Of course, I’d not begrudge you this. If you concede defeat, promise I’ll show the ball’s position.”

“Right, you win. I lose. Get the fuck on with it.”

Two smiled wide, glad as can be and one by one he took the three white upturned cups so One could see the horrifying truth.

“There is no ping pong ball.” Said One, the fury in his voice now gone, replaced by calm acceptance that – “Stop trying to rhyme with me. Just – Give me a second, let me work this out… So I’ve had zero chance of finding the ball this entire time?”

“This entire time.” Two did confirm. “You useless, pointless little worm. A rat trapped in a maze, you squirmed with no choice but defeat.”

“But wait a second, Two,” Said One, “If all this time you’ve lead me on with your game that just can’t be won, then right from the beginning…”

“What are you doing?”

“I’ll tell you what I’m doing, dick! If regardless of which cup I pick I’m achieving all I can, your trick’s backfired! Two, I’m winning!”


“I’ve won your crooked little game…”

“… Joel, please…”

“…Each and every time we’ve played, achieved the highest marks I may and that’s why you’re a bell end, Steven! And I win! Me! End the poem!”


Three 2

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Blue Eyes

Their whole life through


Amy adjusted her contact lenses. She hated her contact lenses. Her eyes had started to water, but not because she was particularly upset… Embarrassed, yes, but not upset. Her eyes tended to water like this whenever she found herself in stressful situations and that made her contacts slip, so she preemptively adjusted them mainly out of habit. Sadly, as much as she hated them, the lenses were very much a necessity in Amy’s life. Not because of her vision, no, that was fine. She had to wear her contact lenses, her green contact lenses, because Amy had blue eyes.

Amy wished she had green eyes, just like those of her mum and sisters and some of her friends. Or brown eyes, like those of her dad, brother and a few more of her friends. But Amy had blue eyes. Throughout her life, she had met more people than she could possibly ever count; People of different races, ethnicities and cultures, people of different shapes and sizes. But she’d never met another with blue eyes. Not one person. It made Amy feel extraordinarily isolated. She felt almost freakish, like she was the only blue eyed person on Earth. More than anything, Amy longed to meet someone who shared her affliction and who understood what she was going through, but for now she was alone, so she kept them hidden.

Amy sighed and reached down to pick up her shopping. In her haste to get up from her seat on the bus, she’d upended the flimsy plastic bag and spilt the contents onto the floor. The next stop was hers, so the pressure was very much on to gather her things and get to the door. As her face started to flush, Amy began to pick up the items and haphazardly stuff them back into the bag, keeping her eyes down so as to avoid eye contact with the other commuters. She knew that they were watching her, awkwardly wondering whether to help while simultaneously trying to ignore the fact that anything had happened at all. She could feel dozens of pairs of green and brown eyes all fixed on her and it made her face burn brighter still.

As the bus approached her stop, Amy saw a pair of legs appear in front of her. She started to move out of the way in order to let them pass, but they stopped moving and started instead to bend at the knees. Keeping her eyes on the floor, Amy continued to hurriedly put away her shopping as a pair of arms and wrinkled hands appeared and began to help.

As the bus rumbled to a stop, Amy’s stop, the hands put the last item of shopping into her bag. Amy grabbed the handle and looked up to see the kindly face of an old man looking back at her. His deep brown eyes met with hers for a moment before the sound of the opening bus doors made her leap to her feet.

“Thanks.” Amy muttered, before hurrying to the front of the bus and out through the doors.



Jack watched the poor young girl scrambling about on the floor of the bus a few rows down, bundling packets of rice and cheese and who knows what back into her carrier bag. Her face, partially obscured by her seat, had very obviously turned bright red and Jack felt quite sorry for her. Nobody was helping. Not one person. They were all pretending not to notice. After a moment of deliberation, Jack eased himself to his feet and walked over to the girl.

The bus was slowing down to stop as Jack bent down, silently started to pick up the former contents of the plastic bag and hand them back. Finally the bus lurched to a stop, just as Jack placed the last remaining item back into the bag. Jack looked up to see the red face of the girl looking back at him. Her bright green eyes locked with his just for a moment, before she sprang to her feet, said something inaudible to Jack and scurried off the bus. After a moment, he carefully got to his feet, made his way back to his own seat and sat back down.

With a sigh, Jack adjusted his contact lenses. He hated his contact lenses.


Based on Shel Silverstein’s “Masks”


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A Limerick

Based on a true story, but only half-serious. Ish.

There once was a stock trading company,

Whose services were of no use to me,

But as if unmoved

By my not being enthused,

They kept showing me their adverts constantly.


I could’ve just gone and got adblock,

Were I watching youtube on my laptop,

But an Apple TV

Was the option for me,

So the adverts were fixed with a padlock.


I would always skip after five seconds,

And I hoped after time that they’d reckon:

“This lad’s glazing over,”

“He’s just not a broker!”

“Why don’t we stop doing his head in?”


I imagine by now you’ll intuit,

My annoyance is peaking a little bit,

So this plea’s to you

Trading 212,



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Steve Walked To Town

Not much of a story.


OK, here’s one, right:


Steve Walked To Town

Steve walked to town.


Not much of a story actually, is it? I’ll hold my hands up to that one. Ok, bear with me though, let me try again:


Steve Walked To Town

Steve walked to town. He bought some milk and came home.


Yeah, still not great, is it? Better though? We can agree that that one was at least better? Alright, let’s go again. I can do this:


Steve Walked To Town

Steve walked to town. He needed some milk, so he went to a local supermarket and he bought some milk. It was a beautiful day, so he took the scenic route home through the grassy park.


Now we’re talking, aren’t we? I’m not one to toot my own horn, but that’s a fucking story right there. Adjectives, nouns, vowels, milk, it’s got them all. I can tell that you’re still not impressed though, so just for you, I’ll give it one more shot.


Steve Walked To Town

Steve walked to town. He was all out of milk would you believe and he couldn’t eat his morning cereal without it. But it was a beautiful day, so Steve absolutely didn’t mind walking to town to get some. He went to a local supermarket and bought some milk using the spare change that’d built up in his pocket during the week, thanked the cashier cheerily and started to make his way back home. As it was such a beautiful sunny day, Steve decided to take the scenic route through the park, so that he could listen to the singing of the birds and watch the squirrels scampering about across the grass and through the trees. When he arrived home, Steve enjoyed his cereal tremendously. After all, he’d earned it. 😎


And that’s how you write the perfect story. Thank you and good night.

You can’t be serious. Still nothing?

That was good! That was really, really good! Look at the detail, the call back to the “beautiful day” bit, I even put in a happy ending and a cool emoji for the kids! There’s something for everyone! It’s a good story! A classic! There was even a whole cast of characters – Steve, the cashier… You know, the squirrels and shit…

It’s actually quite annoying at this point that you’re still not satisfied. In fact, I’m starting to think you’re just pretending not to be impressed just to piss me off. But alright. OK. Fine. Here we go, your majesty. Let me try AGAIN:


And remember that you did this, by the way. This one’s your story. It’s not on me. You made me do this. I wrote an actual good story, but you had to… Right, here we go:


Some actually called it “perfect” if you recall, but… Here we go:


Steve Walked To Town

Steve happily walked briskly to the thriving town. He horrifyingly was completely all out of his bottles of cow’s milk for his sugary breakfast cereal that he wanted to eat would you believe and he absolutely couldn’t gluttonously eat his nutritious morning cereal without more of it. But luckily it was at least a beautiful blue-sky summer day of the month, so clever Steve absolutely didn’t not not mind walking quickly to the bustling town to finally get some more milk with money.




He cautiously went fast to a big local good value supermarket that was nearby and merrily bought some extra milk bottles using all of the metallic spare change that’d sneakily built up a lot in his deep silken pocket material during the current and preceding week of the year, angrily thanked the shitty cashier cheerily and somehow started nobly to make his slow way backwards.




Thankfully as it was definitely such a big beautiful sunny weather daytime, fat Steve surely decided on the spot to stealthily take up the long shadowy scenic route home almost throughout the green dirty park, so that for some reason he could and should barely listen up to all the nice singing out of most of the yellow birds and also carefully watch the thieving fucking squirrels gleefully scampering merrily about across the dead grass blades and also up throughout the tall green trees too.




Whenever he legitimately arrived all the way home today, carnivorous Steve extra enjoyed his cereal really tremendously and the milk from a cow in it. Afterwards all, some say he’d probably earned all of it through feats of physical labour. 😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎




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Listen To This

This is mental.

Listen to this right, this is mental:

So I’ve got this friend called Ben. Ben’s a nice guy. Just a normal guy. He works in retail somewhere in town: Minimum wage, 0 hour contract sort of job. I forget which shop, but that’s not the interesting part anyway.

So Ben’s got a sister. Well, I think 2 sisters. And a brother. But that’s not the point. So Ben’s… I think older sister? I think that’s right… Younger sister, younger brother, older sister, yeah that’s right. So Ben’s older sister Sarah, or possibly Sara? I can never remember whether she’s a Sarah with the H or a Sara without, because confusingly enough, Sarah or Sara has a friend named Sara or Sarah! You know, the other spelling! So I get them confused. Anyway I’m fairly sure Ben’s older sister is Sarah and then her friend is Sara, so let’s go with that. That’s not the interesting part anyway.

So forget about Sara, she’s not a part of the story, I just have a bit of a brain fart every time I try to remember which one’s which out of her and Sarah. So Ben’s older sister Sarah right, her and her boyfriend Tom just got back off holiday. I think they were somewhere in Greece. One of the islands, you know? Crete or Kos or somewhere like that. In fact no, that’s right, it was Kos. I remember because Ben told me that he’d asked Sarah why they’d chosen to go there in particular and she said “Just Kos” and Ben found it really funny because it’s a nice bit of wordplay on “Just because”, even though it doesn’t entirely work because “Kos” is pronounced with a softer S, isn’t it. You get it anyway, I don’t need to explain it. It’s not even that funny, it’s just sort of goofy, like the kind of thing you’d laugh at not because of the actual joke but at how stupid or cringeworthy the joke itself is. Bloody hell, I’m rambling, sorry! And none of this is even the interesting part.

So Sarah and… Oh shit, no it is Sara after all! I’m having an absolute shocker, sorry about this. I’m sure this time though, I promise. So “Sarah” is actually Sara and “Sara” is actually Sarah, OK? But forget about Sarah, she’s not a part of the story. So Ben’s older sister Sara and her boyfriend Tom just got back from Crete right, but Ben told me that Sara told him that Tom got a call from one of his bosses while he was there saying they needed him to call this potential new client… Bollocks, not Crete, it was Kos! We’ve covered this. Sorry. So yeah Tom had to call this new client. I’m not sure what Tom does to be perfectly honest. It’s sales or marketing or something like that. It probably involves cubicles either way, but that’s not the interesting part.

So Tom calls this new client from Kos and they start talking sales or marketing or cubicles or whatever. I think the client’s name was something really generic and normal like “John” or “James” or something like that. Let’s go with John just because I really want to wrap this story up! So Tom and John arrange to meet up when Tom and Sara get back from Kos so that they can talk more face to face. In fact yeah, I think they were supposed to meet up to close a sale of some kind. I’m almost certain that Tom’s in sales. Maybe business to business sales though, but that’s not the interesting part anyway.

So when Ben’s older sister Sara and her boyfriend Tom get back from Kos, Tom goes to meet up with John to talk sales, right? Only thing is, John never shows up! Tom was furious by the sounds of it. I think they’d come back off holiday a day early because the only day John could do was the day that Tom and Sara were flying back from Kos, so Tom and Sara apparently flew back a day early because John’s potentially very important. So yeah, Tom’s livid when John doesn’t show up at the office because he’s cut his holiday short for nothing. But, at about 20 to 10 (And they were supposed to meet at 9 and Tom wanted to get in early, so he’s already been waiting around since about half 8), John phones Tom to apologise because he’s swamped with sales or marketing or cubicles or whatever and says that he’s going to send his assistant over instead. By the way, Tom’s not in his office so it’s not as if he can get any work done while he’s waiting all this time. He’s in a different office that his company owns that’s all the way across town and there’s more meeting rooms or cubicles or whatever at that one, so he’s been stitched right up, but that’s still not the interesting part.

So Tom’s obviously not too happy with John according to what Sara, not Sarah, told Ben, but he sticks around at the office, but not his office, to wait for John’s assistant, who… Honestly I cannot remember her name, so let’s just call her… Jen. So half an hour later (And remember this is about 10 past 10 at this point and Tom cut his holiday in Kos with Sara short to get into the office today for half past 8 so he could be early for the meeting with John at 9), Jen finally shows up for the meeting with Tom. And it’s raining this morning by the way, I forgot to mention that. So John’s assistant Jen shows up and Tom goes downstairs to meet her and she’s got this umbrella up, right? But it’s sort of obscuring her face because she’s holding it really low over her head trying to keep herself dry. So Tom doesn’t get a good look at Jen straight away but when she comes inside the building and lowers her umbrella, he does and he can’t believe it, right:

So Ben told me that Sara told him that Tom told her that his new client John’s assistant Jen…

… She’s got 2 fucking heads.



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