Boarsnout Spinesnapper was having a
devil of a time getting the twenty little goblins in his third period math
class to understand their nine times-tables. Well, seventeen goblins and three humans, he corrected himself. Something he hadn’t gotten used to since the
war ended and integration began. He took
a deep breath and looked out over the room full of shouting, clawing students,
all eager to answer his last question. If the next goblin didn’t get it, Boar swore he’d eat him for lunch.
yellow-haired human boy, Suhz-Eat (or however it was pronounced—human names
were impossible tongue-twisters) raised his hand. Boar supposed it was some human method of
wanting to be called upon, but he decided against letting him try. Humans were terrible at math, and his
principal had made a point of telling the teachers to treat humans with
respect. Boar didn’t want to embarrass
the poor boy.
Boar said, calling on his favorite student, a clever young goblinette with
dung-beads dangling from her ear hairs.
Spinesnapper, could you repeat the question?”
approached and grabbed her by the ear, shouting into it. “What is eight times nine?”
she said, smiling up at him. She had
requested that he yell in her ears, and she always liked when he
remembered. Boar didn’t mind—anything to
make a goblin feel special. That’s why
then? Eight times nine.”
room erupted into chaos, some students cheering for her, others realizing she was
wrong and swatting her forcefully.
Boar said. He was getting upset. Trouble computing eight times three,
he’d understand—goblins of this age were notoriously dimwitted with their
three-times tables. But nines were easy.
Farpisser in the front row pounded on his desk, shouting, but Boar couldn’t
hear him over the noise.
Stab? You have to scream it.” Something he should have known by now. A class troublemaker, Stab never followed the
other kids saw the exchange, though, and quieted down. They liked Stab and wanted to hear what
wisecrack he might come out with.
stared at Boar with one bulbous yellow eye, keeping his other two on his
classmates to see their reaction.
are we ever going to use this stuff, Mr. Spinesnapper?”
“Yeah! Anyway!” another goblin called. Then they all joined in.
stuff is fewmets!”
we learn torture instead?”
teach us about thumbscrews! Something
we’ll actually use!”
was about to praise them for their fine independent thinking when he noticed
the human boy’s face. Little Suhz-Eat
is everything okay?”
froze in his seat, his puny hands grasping the edges of his desk. He nodded vigorously.
my name is Suzette,” he said in a trembling voice.
sorry. I was going by the spelling on my
class roster. Do you know the answer?”
paused and then shook his head. Boar
heard a few snickers around the room, and someone shouted “Dumb human.” Unfortunately, Boar didn’t see whom. His principal said something at the last
faculty meeting about goblins bullying humans. Boar wasn’t going to tolerate that kind of garbage in his classroom.
I need to explain it in a way that you can relate to,” Boar told the
class. He had a plan: if he could get
Suzette to give the right answer, they’d try harder. If a human could do it, they’d realize that
they should be able to, as well.
you just won a battle, and you’re taking spoils,” he said, looking especially
at Suzette. “What are you going to do?”
everyone clamored to give the answer; to his disappointment, Suzette wasn’t
among them. And it was such an easy
their fingers,” Pigface said. “Especially if they were human.”
laughed. Boar, like every goblin, loved
human fingers. Unfortunately, they’d
been hard to get ever since the treaty.
“Yes. But how many fingers will you eat from each
you always leave a middle finger on one hand for good luck,” Pigface chimed in.
“Exactly. So suppose you eat the fingers of eight
humans. How many fingers in all would
when the sound started. Boar stopped
mid-sentence. Green warty heads turned
this way and that, seeking the source.
Boar said, trying not to sound alarmed. “Who’s crying?”
one answered. Boar’s worry grew, knowing
that crying indicated mental disab -- [End of Preview.]