This project began with this single photo by Victor Garibaldi:
The Goblin Tunnels are underground portals belonging to another dimension. Different creatures live in them and they enter our world to cause havoc and to bring things, and people, back into the Goblin Tunnels.
Warning: Here is the latest installment but to better understand the following story, please read "Resurgence" first.
IN MEMORY OF DAVID BOWIE: 1947-2016
The Goblin Tunnels: Hail to the King (and His Final Moments)
He watched his followers invade the other world. He waited for the last of them to exit the atrium before he withdrew into the Goblin Tunnels.
The Goblin King meandered ponderously into the hallway. His feet were silent against the cold cement floor. After delivering his speech, his blood was beginning to cool, the heat soaked up by the architecture around him.
Wires were a major decoration of the Goblin Tunnels. They snaked the floors, ready to catch the clumsiest of creatures. In some of the smaller hallways, such as this one, there was an abundance of wires hanging down; a couple of them were looped and camouflaged in this rubber jungle so the few creatures who would blindly run through would be caught by the neck thereby thinning out the herd.
The Goblin King pushed aside wire after wire. He knew the locations of all the traps since he had helped build many of the Goblin Tunnels. He was also very curious as to how things worked and he liked being several steps ahead of his enemies as well as those who were not his enemies. The only creature you could trust was yourself.
The Goblin King ascended the staircase and stood before an immense in-ground pool of light. Thin wisps of heat were emitted by the lights, encompassing the Goblin King in a warm fog; he felt shivers slithering across his body.
Normally, he would have gone with his followers to the human world. Normally, the Goblin King enjoyed watching what his words caused his devoted creatures to do in the name of fear and havoc. But on this occasion of the empty Goblin Tunnels, he just wanted to listen to the silence. As he did, the shadows in the corners seemed to grow and the expanse of the room seemed to gradually shrink. With his every breath, the Goblin King had the sense that the room wanted to swallow him and for the first time, the Goblin Tunnels reminded him of a tomb. He hurried out into the hallway, his heart hammering wildly. Looking back into the room, all was as it should be.
Continuing down the hallway at a slow pace, the Goblin King took deep breaths. The path he took twisted and turned. It was for some time he walked and he would have continued on uninterrupted had it not been for a sudden light appearing in the corner of his eye. Turning, he knowingly stared at that portal, remembering the shock and fear. The Goblin King had gone through that portal as a lad. And through that portal were steam pipes.
It had only been a few months since the Goblin Tunnels had acquired him, but he had already grown accustom to his new way of life. The physical and physiological changes had already begun and he had gone through many portals prior to this one. There had been nothing to worry about; however he was alone this time. The young Goblin walked through the faint, pulsating light that signalled the existence of a portal and he was immediately hit with a heat wave.
"That place was welcoming", recalled the Goblin King, "Until those pipes emitted that... sound. That cursèd sound."
The young Goblin had frozen in panic as the piercing, high-pitched whistle blew. The familiarity of the sound had shocked his mind and caused him to flee back into the safety of the Goblin Tunnels. The Goblin King turned abruptly, continuing down the hall for the memory of her voice to return to its grave in the steam pipes.
He entered a storage room with square shelving built into the walls. The Goblin King had been exceptionally proud of this project, for who would have thought to organize chaos? He ran a clawed hand over the glittering green limestone and when he came to a smooth patch, it gave him reason to pause. The Goblin King now had a clear view of his appearance. There was that human face of his staring back. He had never fully turned into a goblin and he never understood why that was, however, he had been accepted despite this abnormality. After several years had passed, he had earned the title of King for his visionary outlook and his service to the Goblin Tunnels.
The Goblin King ran his eyes all over his reflection in wonderment. He couldn't remember if his eyes had always been two different colors or if his nose had changed shape. Really, all that the Goblin Tunnels had done to him was exaggerate his own features: a few teeth had transformed into fangs, his finger and toe nails had elongated into claws and the hair on his head and chest had grown three times longer from their original length (whatever that had been). As he stared at his unchanged face, the question turned round his mind. As if in defiance, he dragged his claws across his reflection, pleasurably cringing at the sound they made on the stonework before he left the room.
Up another set of stairs and the Goblin King was at the entrance to his throne room. With red walls several stories high standing resolutely before him, pride swelled within him. This was his favorite part of the Goblin Tunnels. He believed that the entrance represented his essence. The Goblin King was a sentinel that would lead his creatures out of the Dark Ages and restore the world the humans had destroyed. As a smirk grew on his face, he entered.
The throne room matched the height of the entrance with a golden throne standing at the farthest end; this was where he granted an audience with his loyal subjects and where all gathered after venturing into the human world. He imagined what they would bring back from this particularly passionate attack. The Goblin King stood at the center of the room, turning his back on his golden throne. He was lost in revelry as he admired all that he had done since his succession.
"So this is where you've been all this time."
The Goblin King's body became rigid. It was the voice from the steam pipes. He turned around with dread and saw a young woman sitting on his throne. She was a woman he remembered all too well; she was a woman he should not have remembered at all.
"You shouldn't be here!" he impulsively shouted.
"Is that how you welcome me to your kingdom?" she asked as she rose. He reluctantly eyed her slender, dark skin as she moved towards him like a tiger in her slinky gold dress. Emotions he had buried long ago began to crawl out of their graves and take hold of him.
"No!" he shouted in rebellion.
She stopped, startled, "But, you promised. You said you'd be mine forever," she showed him her hand that had a ring on one of her fingers, "You're my love, my Da--"
He rushed at her and pointed his clawed finger at her neck.
"That is not my name. Don't ever say that name. I am the Goblin King!" he roared.
He struck her across the face, his claws scratching her eye. She fell to the tiled floor and clutched her face. Despite the stabbing pain and blood she felt, the blow had hurt him more.
She began to sob. Without thinking, he knelt down beside her.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," Hot tears blinded him as he put his arms around her, "I'm so sorry."
With his head against hers, he rocked back and forth, "I don't know what I am anymore. I was of your world, then this world and now... I don't know anymore," his body shook as he tried to keep everything in.
She raised her bloody hand to his face, mingling his tears with her blood. Looking up at him, she said, "My darling, you see what this world has done to you, but you don't see that inside, you're still human."
"I don't know what to do."
She turned to face him, still encircled by his arms, "Open up your heart to me once more."
They were inches from each other. He could feel the warmth from her body. The memories were coming back to him, bringing him back to life.
"You haven't changed," she said with a small smile despite the pain, "Nothing could ever make you change."
And with that, he pressed his lips to hers with an almost-forgotten passion that overwhelmed him.
* * *
The devoted creatures of the Goblin Tunnels returned victoriously: many were covered in blood, carrying parts to use in the Goblin Tunnels' expansion and others had new, unconscious recruits slung over their shoulders.
They filed through the portals with cheers on their lips or stories of their moments in battle as they headed towards the Goblin King's golden throne. After venturing into the human world, it was there they always gathered to bring their stolen goods before his worthy gaze.
Through this labyrinth of tunnels, they reached his Royal Highness's throne and upon entering were greeted with a shocking sight. They drew near. Seated on his throne was the Goblin King, his arms open and laying on the arm rests and his head resting against his motionless chest. The Goblin King was still in his war uniform, apparently unscathed. Upon further inspection, one of the creatures cried, "He's bleeding!"
They opened his jacket and saw a bloody, gaping hole where his heart should have been.
"The King is dead!"
"The King has been killed!"
"An intruder! An intruder!"
"Find the intruder!"
Like lightening, the cry spread through the immense crowd of creatures returning from battle. They scrambled to find the intruder, all the while in disbelief that such a thing had happened. None of them had bothered to look at the Goblin King's face; although, even if they had, they would never have understood his expression. The creatures understood very little of the human race.
Out into the labyrinth of tunnels they ran and searched and searched and ran, but they would never find the intruder, if there had ever been one. They would never find his heart either, for although the Goblin Tunnels had claimed the Goblin King's body long ago, they would never have his heart.