art by Jonathan Westbrook
This Is Your Problem, Right Here
by David Steffen
"This is your problem, right here." The plumber's deep voice resounded from beneath the maintenance hatch by the main pool at Cascade Reef waterpark. "You've only got one troll left. For a pool this big, you need fifty minimum, seventy-five if you want everything to run smoothly."
"Pardon?" shouted Anita Westegard, the owner. "I only have one of what left?"
The plumber appeared beneath her. His arms were covered to the elbows with green slime. "Trolls. See?" He held one grimy hand up toward her holding a tiny skull. It was almost human in shape, with two thick tusks and curved ram's horns. "Poor things must have been starved to turn on each other like that."
"Trolls?" Anita said. "As in monsters that live under bridges and eat goats?"
The plumber tossed the skull aside onto the concrete where it landed with a clatter. "You're going to have trouble finding new trolls the way it is. If the Troll Council hears that you've been making racist comments, you'll have no chance at all. You'd have to shut this place down."
"I've done nothing wrong!"
"Did you leave them down there all winter without any food after you shut down last year? I thought so. Trolls are tough, but that's too much even for them. You're lucky even one of them survived. How long have you owned the place?"