The South Troll
Captain Oates limped towards the door of the tent. “I am just going outside. I may be some time.” He pulled aside the canvas screen and stepped out into the bitter Antarctic cold.
Captain Scott and his remaining men watched him go with sad eyes. They knew that he was sacrificing himself in the hope that without him they would have enough food reserves to make it to the next supply depot. A noble gesture, but probably doomed to failure, as everyone in the expedition was so weak with cold and hunger that their chances of survival were slim indeed.
From outside they heard a cry of surprise. Oates stumbled back in through the tent flap. “I am seeing things,” he muttered. “Impossible.”
Before Scott could ask him to elaborate the flap opened again and an incredible figure entered the tent. A colossal man, almost seven feet tall, clad in furs and huge boots. Or was it a man? His skin was green, his hair was long and bright orange, and two horns rose from the top of his head.
“Hail, cold ones,” the stranger boomed. “By Odin, I thought I was the only one in this cruel land of ice.”
Captain Scott’s frost-rimmed eyebrows shot up at this amazing sight. “Odin?” he queried. “Aren’t you in the wrong hemisphere?”
“I was banished to this place by a witch,” the creature explained. “She said she would send me to the Land of the Trolls, but I think she that must have sent me to the Land of the Poles instead. Curse her for a fool, miserable wretch that she is! It could at least have been the kind of Poles that have names that cannot be spoken and that eat lots of sausage. It would have been warm there, and there are pretty Baltic women with hips that curve most pleasingly, and the sausage is delicious. There is little to eat in this land except seals and strange birds that cannot fly.”
“Penguins,” Captain Scott informed their visitor. “Who are you?”
“I am Olaf, lord of the trolls,” the mighty creature boomed. “What is your name, puny human?”
“Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Royal Navy,” the explorer told him. “Commander of the second expedition ever to reach the South Pole. Amundsen beat us there by only days. Our mission to claim the glory for England has been a failure.”
“Hah! Bad luck,” Olaf commiserated. “So, you go home now? I will travel with you. I tire of this place.”
“I am sorry,” Scott said, “but I fear that we shall perish here. We are almost out of food and are too weak to walk. We have a store of supplies only twelve miles away, but I don’t think that we can make it.”
“Fear not, Falconscott,” Olaf said. “I have food.” He took a sack from his back and tipped it out onto the floor of the tent. Cans and packages spilled out in a heap. “Yours, I think, for I found them cached in the snow some hours ago. I shall carry those of you that cannot walk, for I am a mighty hero indeed, and strong beyond the measure of humans.”
The explorers seized upon the food eagerly. “Thank you,” Scott gasped. “You may well be our saviour, Olaf. How can we repay you?”
“Introduce me to many fair maidens when we get back to your land,” Olaf said. “I crave the company of women.” He leaned towards Scott. “There were times,” he confessed, “when I was so desperate that I made merry sport with the more attractive penguins.”