For a long time Pernille stared at the blank computer screen in front of her. The cursor was blinking, waiting for her to put down a lyric to its rhythm. But she couldn’t think of anything to write. “How can I?” she thought. “How can I write about a country I have never visited and people I have never met!”
The notice on her school board had read – “inviting entries for a fiction writing contest from all students. No age limit. The only criteria is that the story must be based in Norway. First prize – a trip to Norway. Word limit – 5000 words. Entries must be submitted by December 31.”
As she read the notice Pernille’s heart began to race, her pupils dilated and her lower jaw dropped just a little. “Norway!”she thought, “where my grandmother was from! Norway! The land of the northern lights, the land of fjords and waterfalls and… the land of Trolls!”
Of course being a grown up girl of twelve Pernille knew that Trolls were only mythical creatures, yet they were such a big part of her growing up that she wanted to believe that they were real. Pernille’s grandmother was Norwegian. When Pernille was a little girl, her grandmother used to narrate stories and fables and many of them were about trolls. Grandma (or mormor as she was lovingly called) also had a collection of troll dolls in many different sizes and colours. After her passing away, Pernille inherited them all at the age of six. Pernille inherited more than just the dolls from her mormor; she gave Pernille her own name. Mormor told Pernille that her name meant – “‘a strong girl”. Apart from her name Pernille also had mormor’s light green eyes, freckled skin and auburn hair.
She thought that if she could win this contest then she could finally visit mormor’s homeland. Her father was too busy to take her there. And her mother had been bed-ridden due to a chronic illness; traveling was very difficult for her. Therefore it was always mormor who would visit them from Norway. Pernille had seen Norway through her eyes many times.
Pernille’s imagination got activated every time mormor told her stories of the many wonders that Norway is. She pictured Norway, in her head, as a land of endless adventure. A place where she could ski, ice skate, ride a sled, see the northern lights and the never ending sunrise! And maybe witness a white Christmas too, which was not even remotely possible in LA where she lived with her parents and younger brother Axel.
Oh! How she longed to go there! Winning this contest was her only chance!
Pernille ran home from school. She was so excited! She couldn’t wait to tell her little brother Axel about this contest.
Just like his elder sister Axel also loved mormor’s troll doll collection. Axel was just five years old but he had already developed a fascination for Norway and for trolls. He would curl his hair with his finger and suck on his thumb, while listening to his sister in awe as she narrated the stories that she had heard so many times from mormor. Axel’s curly hair was also mormor’s influence.
Even at such a young age Axel himself had an imagination that could put Harry Potter’s J K Rowling to shame. Sometimes he would hide under the bed as if trolls were coming to get him, or would be caught in the middle of a chat session with these imaginary creatures.
Only he knows what he chatted with the trolls about! About his favorite games, maybe? Axel was fond of playing hide-and-seek and all the other games that boys his age love, including video games.
But his favorite games were the ones he played with the trolls. He would wrestle with them. Throw them around and kick and punch them too!
The troll dolls were arranged in the room that the brother sister shared; all seventeen of them. Of these, seven were their favourite because they were the most ghastly and colorful of all. These seven would often be victims of Axel’s vicious behaviour. Pernille and Axel had given them names as per their appearance. So they were Rags, Smiley, Baboon, Toothy, Grassy, Woody and Viking.
Rags was dressed in torn clothes. Smiley had a fixed smile on his face that made him appear a little creepy. Baboon looked like an ape. Toothy had the largest teeth that were so big that they jutted out of his mouth. Grassy had a body covered in grass; he was also the shortest. And Viking had a sword in his hand and looked like he was ready to fight at the drop of a hat!
At night Pernille removed an old Norwegian folklore book from the bookshelf and began reading it aloud to Axel to put him to sleep. Pernille read the book from cover to cover. The book was about how trolls turned into rocks when sunlight fell upon them. This was a reason why Norway had such a rocky landscape. Pernille read well past their bedtime, under the covers, with the help of a flashlight so that her parents don’t find out. Axel curled his hair and sucked on his thumb.
After some time Pernille realized that Axel had fallen asleep. Before calling it a day herself, Pernille recalled what had happened in her Geography lesson that day. The teacher had caught her day-dreaming and asked her – “Pernille what does the term ‘fjord’ mean?”
For a second Pernille couldn’t believe her ears. Why was the teacher asking her about fjords? Did she know what was going on in Pernille’s head? Was her teacher a magical troll disguised as a human being? Pernille stood up and gave the correct answer to the teacher’s question – “Fjords are narrow strips of sea water found abundantly in Norway!” The teacher was satisfied and asked her to sit down. Pernille took it as a sign and from that moment on she was convinced that she was definitely going to Norway.
With this thought in her head Pernille dozed off into the land of faeries and sweet dreams.
Now both Axel and Pernille were fast asleep.
Next morning Pernille’s father woke her up anxiously.
“Pernille! Pernille! Wake up!”
Her brother Axel was nowhere to be found. The whole house had been turned upside down and the whole neighbourhood had been alerted. As Pernille joined her father in the search for her brother she was stopped in her track by a message flashing on her computer screen – Axel is with us. We are taking him with us to Norway. If you want him, come and get him.
Who could’ve typed this message?
Nothing was making any sense! Pernille thought that maybe Axel was playing a prank; but he didn’t know how to use a computer. Suddenly, Pernille saw that the seven favourite troll dolls were also missing from their place.
So, Axel was missing, and so were the troll dolls. Hmm….
What could be the connection?
“I must show this message to my father” said Pernille to herself.
But before she could do that, she noticed something else on the computer screen. A small icon was blinking away on bottom right corner of her computer screen. It was the icon of a doorway; like the ones made out of thick wood with metal hinges and in the shape of an arch. Pernille clicked on it and the sign stopped blinking. Pernille’s heartbeat increased as she waited in anticipation. Then suddenly the door opened and a wave of bright light swept across Pernille and filled the room until nothing else was visible…
Sorry, I hate to interrupt your reading. But this story is soon to be published. I am eagerly awaiting the published version of the full story and will share it with you, my dear reader, as soon as I have it.