Jerry and Jacob clean out Gran’s old garden shed to make a den, but on their first late-night walk in the woods behind it, they come across a very strange, grubby little person and their problems begin. A small pile of rags that can talk! The boys want to run away fast, but they take pity on the peculiar, moaning, groaning and very smelly creature. They promise to try and get it back to its own world – GoblinLand. And hiding a goblin in their den is a full time job..!

Chapter 1 – Everybody Needs a Shed

Jerry and Jacob are twins, but they don’t look like each other at all, which they think is just so unfair because they can’t play the usual “twin tricks” on people. Jerry is the curly one and Jacob is the spiky one; Jerry is tough and has clever ideas, and Jacob tags along.

A Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 1 illustration

One of their favourite places to hang out is the rickety old wooden shed at the end of Gran’s garden. She doesn’t use it much, just to store the garden things and other junk in winter.

Mum is away quite a lot, and then the twins stay at Gran’s, not so far away, just like the other week.

“Gran never ever lets us do anything dead exciting!” Jerry moaned, punching the air as he walked around the garden shed.

Jacob grinned. Yes, Gran always shook her head and laughed. Gran was always busy doing things, like baking or gardening, but she enjoyed having the twins to stay with her, and liked them to play ‘out of her way’ too!

But Jerry was feeling brave and decided to ask, “Gran, can we turn the old shed into a secret den, just for us?” He said ‘secret’ again, a bit louder, just in case Gran hadn’t got the message.

“That’s a good idea, boys. It can be your secret summer den, if you promise to tidy it up for me,” Gran chuckled. “But I want it back in the winter.”

“Wow! Thanks a million, Gran.” Jerry smiled and nudged his brother as Gran went back to the house.

“That was too easy, there must be a catch,” said Jacob, shaking his head. “She’ll probably change her mind. Did you understand the tidy up thing?”

“Perhaps she’ll let us camp out there,” Jerry whispered hopefully.

Jacob laughed. “Not without an okay from Mum, but we can work on that.”

The boys looked round the shed again, not quite so sure of the plan now.

“This place is a mess.” Jerry grabbed a handful of cobwebs. “Ugh!”

“Yeah! But we’ll charge Gran a cleanout fee and get cash for the all the den stuff we need,” said Jacob, and pulled another handful of cobwebs from the wall.

Up at the house, the deal was sealed over a sticky banana split.

“You boys do a good job cleaning out the shed and I’ll take you to the shops to get some camping gear,” Gran suggested.

Jerry spooned his ice-cream and looked at Jacob, who looked at their grandmother.

“Did you say ‘camping gear’, Gran?”

Gran nodded, looking at both of them. “I hope I won’t regret this,” she laughed.

Maybe the boys were beginning to regret it, after two days of clearing cobwebs, scrubbing the filthy floor, washing grime from the two small windows and generally getting the place shipshape for the promised camping gear.

“Cleaning out wasn’t supposed to be such hard work,” Jerry moaned.

“Yeah,” Jacob sighed, “this all goes on Gran’s camping kit bill.”

On day three Gran drove them to the department store and they all headed straight to the Campers’ Paradise section.

“Wow!” Jerry picked up a small gas primus cooker.

“No cooking down in that old shed.” Gran put it back right back on the shelf. “Picnic yes, flames and fires, not in a wooden shed! Not for nine-year-olds!”

Jerry pulled a face behind her back. “Almost nearly ten, if you please!”

Jacob shrugged his shoulders and mouthed, “She didn’t say anything about an outside campfire, did she?”

Two hours later they stuffed their goodies into Gran’s small car and lined up for the hot dogs.

Gran was pleased she’d only bought things she thought were good and sensible. Jacob ticked them off on his fingers, “Two sleeping bags, a power torch, paint, floor cushions and a hammock.”

The hammock and the squashy floor cushions were Gran’s idea, not the boys’.

“That’ll make it cosy, and I can borrow the hammock later for the garden,” she’d suggested, and Jacob mumbled, “We don’t want cosy, we want rough, tough, survival camping.”

But Gran wasn’t listening and continued, “I’ve got an old cooler at home. You can use that for storing cold drinks, picnic snacks and midnight feasts.”

“Oh no!” Jerry rolled his eyes, “She’ll want to sleep there too, that’s why she’s so keen on that old hammock thing and the midnight feasts.”

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 1 illustration shed

Chapter 2 – The Shed Takes Shape

The den was slowly being transformed. After the scrubbing with a million buckets of water, came the painting.

“Just white, please.” Gran insisted. “But you can hang up some nice pirate posters and things if you like.”

“Pirate posters, as if,” Jerry mumbled after she’d gone.

Jacob nodded. “It’d be more like Gran’s den than ours. We’ll hang up some of our dinosaur and space monster posters and see how she takes it.”

Jerry grinned as they pinned up their posters, spread out their sleeping bags and scattered the cushions that Gran loved around the floor.

“It’s our den, our place, and I can’t wait to camp out here. Tonight’s the night.”

Even Gran had to agree as she inspected the new shed den.

“That’s what I call a big improvement. You can phone for pizzas. You’ve earned it, boys.”

So Jerry and Jacob ordered their favourite extra-cheesy pizzas before bedding down for the night.

Gran filled the cooler with apple juice and snacks for a ‘Midnight Feast’ and then left the boys to enjoy their first real camping survival night.

“A midnight walk through the scary woods is more like it, eh, Jerry? Not too scary though,” Jacob laughed as he tore into his slice of pizza. “Are the batteries in the torch okay?”

Nervously, Jerry picked up the torch and tested it.

“Yeah, just fine.”

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 2 illustration grandma

Chapter 3 – A Walk in the Midnight Wood

Behind Gran’s garden gate, the trail to the bluebell woods was something the boys knew pretty well – but not at midnight. And that was the real adventure.

“Hey, it’s dead weird and a bit creepy at night,” Jerry whispered, as they slowly made their way along the rough dirt trail.

An owl hooted overhead and a tiny mouse skittered across the path, dazzled by their torchlight.

“Yeah, it’s awesome creepy,” Jacob agreed.

And then, just after the owl hoot, they heard another, even stranger, noise.

“What on earth is that?” Jacob stopped dead in his tracks.

“Sounds like something in pain,” suggested Jerry, stopping too. “Where’s it coming from?”

The boys stood quite still and listened to the whining, wheezy wail, which did not sound human at all, but not quite like an animal either. Sometimes the wailing stopped for a moment and they heard huge sniffing sobs.

“It’s a lost kid,” Jerry frowned.

Jacob shook his head. “No, it’s a puppy dog, lost, hurt or trapped. Kids don’t hang around here at midnight.”

“We do,” Jacob muttered and they continued to listen carefully, until Jerry whispered,

“It’s coming from over there, near that crabby old tree.”

“Don’t want to frighten it, whatever it is. Switch off the torch, Jerry, there’s enough moonlight to see our way.”

Jerry switched off the torch and straightaway Jacob tripped over a tree root.

“Ouch, so much for the light of the moon.” He rubbed his scratched knee.

“Shut up,” Jerry hissed. “We’ll never find it at this rate.”

The boys crouched and listened to the croaky wail. “My life, my miserable life!”

“It’s human,” Jerry hissed.

“It sounds mad,” Jacob hissed back.

“Let’s get back to the shed.” Jerry’s voice wobbled.

“No! Let’s take a look at whatever it is,” Jacob said, sounding so much braver than he really felt.

They crept through the knee-high stinging nettles. Now they could see the bent old tree and the moaning noise got louder and stranger.

Chapter 4 – The Pile of Rags Can Talk

And then, at last, they saw what was making the awful creepy sound. Cowering under the tree, hard to see in the tall grass, was a small, snivelling, greenish-grey object. Jerry looked at his brother in amazement.

“What is it?”

Jacob said nothing, staring in horror at the pile of green rags which seemed to be making the wailing noise. The boys stepped a little nearer to the tiny raggy object.

Jerry summoned up his courage. “Who − who are you?” he gulped and stammered.

Suddenly the pile of rags pulled itself up from its crouched position, which really wasn’t very high.

“And who are you?” it yelled back, in a croaking, angry voice.

“I asked first.”

Jerry felt braver now that he could see that green rag thing was very, very small. Not much higher than his knee from what he could make out, not that he wanted to get too close. That made him feel a lot braver.

“Take a look, shine the torch,” Jacob hissed.

Jerry aimed the torch at the green snivelling thing, which shouted, “Put out that blinding light, you giant monster, or I will kill you.”

The boys stared at the object. Its head and hands were greenish too. The head was bigger than the skinny body and its strange ears were long and floppy, and pointed and green as well.

“What − what are you?” Jerry stammered again, not feeling quite so brave, even if the thing was pretty small.

The thing shielded its eyes from the torchlight.

“I am Hob. Now answer my question – what are you? Are you giants?”

“Hob, what kind of name is that?” muttered Jerry, and quickly Jacob said,

“I’m Jacob and this is my brother Jerry. We’re twins.”

“Huh! What kind of names are those?” The little green thing spat out angrily. “And what is twins?” The creature’s voice was rough and rasping, like he had a bad cold.

“But what kind of creature are you?” Jerry tried again.

“I am Hob, a brave and speedy goblin.” The goblin, if that is what he really was, folded his green arms and stood up straight.

“A goblin?” Jacob’s jaw dropped.

Hob raised a finger. “Yes, a goblin, we are a proud and brave folk.”

“Where are the rest of you, then?’ Jerry asked, looking around.

The goblin took a long, long time to answer.

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 4 illustration goblin

Chapter 5 – A Lost Goblin

“I am not sure, I am lost, I think” Then he sat on the grass with a bump. “I do not know what happened. I fell and fell, down and down, then there was a great sound of wind and I landed here, bang, and now I am hurt all over.” He pointed at the ground with his long, bony finger. “I think I fell through a long, dark hole.”

Hob shook his large head and his floppy, greasy hair shook with it. He said nothing more but made a few gasps and a coughing noise.

“Can we, er, help you look for that hole?” Jerry wasn’t sure what else to say. “And, um, help you back through it?”

The goblin took a while to answer, then he sniffed, “Yes, that is a good plan.” He pulled out a filthy green handkerchief and blew his nose long, loud and hard.

“We’re not going to find that hole now, Jerry, not in the dark,” Jacob whispered after they had crawled around, hole-searching. “What do we do with him until it`s morning and we can go hole-hunting proper?”

The twins looked at each other and shook their heads.

“We’ll have to leave him here. No way are we taking him back to the shed with us.” Jacob kept his voice low.

“Yeah, but look at him. What harm can he do, he is pretty small?” Jerry felt a bit sorry for Hob, snivelling in his rags.

“And what’s Gran going to say?” Jacob still wasn’t sure.

“Well, she always tells us to help people,” Jerry grinned.

“Yeah, people, not lost goblins.” Jacob shook his head. “And just where’s it going to sleep?’

Jerry laughed. “In the hammock, looks like his size?”

Jacob still wasn’t convinced, but they both laughed and told Hob that they would take him back to their den and the next day would help him find the hole he had fallen through … that was the plan.

“Better mark this spot, the hole must be nearby,” Jerry said, deciding to be practical, so they found a few stones and placed them in an easy-to-find circle for when they started the search in the morning.

Walking back didn’t take as long as the boys had thought – if there’s one thing a goblin’s very good at, it’s running. Well, chasing actually. That’s what goblins do – they chase, they are world-class chasers − and Hob chased along behind or in front of them, at full speed. He disappeared only once when he chased after a squeaking mouse, but the mouse fled into thick nettles and Hob started whistling an eerie, tuneless goblin song.

Chapter 6 – Minding a Goblin Is Not Easy…

Back at the shed the boys told Hob that the hammock was his, just for one night.

Hob looked pretty ragged – and he was quite smelly too, in fact, stinky was the word! Jacob flopped onto his sleeping bag.

“Boy, I’m starved. What’s in the cooler?”

Jerry looked inside at Gran’s Midnight Feast.

“Jam tarts, a couple of muffins, chocolate biscuits and crunchy chocolate nut bars,” he laughed. “All Gran’s favourites!”

“Are you hungry, Hob?” Jacob remembered his manners.

Hob nodded and his scrawny hand stretched out to grab, well, snatch the jam tart Jacob held out to him. There was no ‘thank you’ – that was clearly not a goblin thing.

Hob gobbled and made snorting noises as a mass of crumbs disappeared down his throat and sprayed out all around him.

“Not hot on table manners, these goblins.” Jerry pulled a face at his brother.

“Table? What is table?” Hob asked and half the jam tart crumbs fell out of his mouth. He scooped them back in. “This is good. Very good.” He nodded vigorously while his hand grabbed a chocolate biscuit and shoved the whole thing into his mouth.

“Do you think ‘goblin’ comes from ‘gobble’?” said Jerry, deciding to move the packets of biscuits out of goblin reach.

“Sleep now, Hob,” Jacob announced. “We’ll go back and find the hole in the morning, just like we promised.”

“And shove Hob right back into it,” Jerry mumbled as he turned in his sleeping bag and went to sleep.

They were woken up next day by Gran’s cheery, “Breakfast for campers.”

She placed a basket of croissants and a jug of hot chocolate on the floor near the hammock, where Hob was still fast asleep, snoring rather noisily. Speedily Jacob threw a cushion on top of him, which muffled the noise and hid the horrid sight of the sleeping, dribbling goblin.

Gran looked around, a little alarmed.

“What’s that noise, can you hear it?”

Jerry was quick. “I left my old Game Boy on, Gran. It makes noises like that when the battery is running low.”

She glanced curiously at the cushion where the rattling noise was coming from.

“It vibrates too,” Jacob added, quick as a flash, and hurriedly stood in front of the hammock to block Gran’s view.

“You’d both better shower at the house. It’s really very smelly in here.” Gran sniffed and opened a window as she left.

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 6 illustration mouse

Chapter 7 – The Trouble With Goblins Is …

“She’s right there. Old Hob does pong a bit,” said Jerry, helping himself to a croissant and a mug of hot chocolate.

The goblin sat up and rubbed his eyes. “Where am I?”

“Good morning, Hob.” Jerry handed him a croissant which Hob grabbed and stuffed into his mouth.

“We’re going up to Gran’s house to shower,” Jacob informed Hob. “Do you want us to bring you a bowl of water to wash?” he ventured as the goblin snatched another croissant.

“Wash?” Hob spluttered through a shower of flaky croissant crumbs. “What is that?”

“Thought as much.” Jerry grinned at Jacob.” We’ll be back in half an hour. Don’t touch anything. Then we’ll go off and find your hole, goblin’s honour.”

‘Don’t touch anything’ was a bit optimistic. When the twins got back, Hob had eaten the remaining contents of the cooler, spilled most of the hot chocolate, broken a plate and pulled all the monster posters off the walls.

“Don’t like,” was Hob’s only explanation about the posters he had torn off the wall and ripped up.

“Thanks Hob, we knew we could rely on you to make a mess,” Jacob muttered as he quickly cleaned everything up and then pointed a finger at the goblin. “Let’s get going back to the woods to find that hole.”

Hob scratched his head, looking unhappy, but you can’t always tell with goblins, they are always scowling.

“If anybody comes, you hide dead quick, over there in the brambles, okay?” Jerry told Hob.

Having a goblin chasing along behind you might not be easy to explain to any neighbours jogging in the woods. When they got to Hob’s tree they easily found the small ring of stones., which was a nice surprise.

“Now tell us where you landed, the hole must be nearby.” Jacob looked around for anything promising.

Hob scratched his head and screwed his face up in a kind of ‘trying hard to remember’ glowering frown.

“I bumped my head and then I walked around in the dark, like this.”

The goblin began staggering around in crazy circles, this way and that, all over the place.

“Great,” Jerry muttered. “That means the hole could be anywhere within ten metres.”

“What about checking rabbit holes?” Jacob suggested.

Chapter 8 – Finding Hob’s Way Back Home

And so the big ‘hole search’ began. They peered between the roots of the trees. Hob even scrabbled down the one and only rabbit hole they found. He came out filthy, covered with clods of damp soil, and said, “Not long dark hole.”

“Perhaps the hole is not down. Perhaps it’s up.” Jacob stroked his chin. “Hob said he fell, so he must have fallen from somewhere higher up, you fall down − don’t you?”

“Good thinking,” agreed Jerry and they began peering up into the branches of nearby trees.

“Where is he?” Jacob looked around. “It’s his problem. You’d think he’d help.”

The twins stared in surprise as they spotted Hob in a pretty grassy clearing tearing up wild flowers, jumping up and down and stamping on them, all the while singing very tunelessly, Ha ha ha, there you go, that’s the end, hee hee hee.

“Hob!” shouted Jerry. “You are supposed to be helping us.”

Hob stopped flower-mangling and ran into the brambles, yelling, “Little mouse, little mouse, I am the fastest.”

“Why are we bothering? Hope he doesn’t catch that mouse,” Jacob grumbled.

“Because we want him to go back where he belongs.” Jerry was thoughtful. “He can’t stay here, this is not goblin territory and, if he stays longer, how can we explain him to Gran?”

When Hob came back out of the brambles even dirtier, he flopped down on the ground and began to writhe in agony.

“I shall die, Hob shall die. It is so terrible.” The goblin’s voice trembled and he rolled over and over clutching at his belly.

“What’s the matter now?” Jacob frowned as they knelt next to the rolling, smelly Hob.

“It is the terrible hunger, I shall die!” The goblin continued to clutch himself, writhing.

“But you scoffed everything in the cool box!” Jerry raised his eyebrows. “Everything, Hob, every single crumb.”

The twins agreed all this wailing and rolling could not go on. They promised him a huge meal if he shut up and followed them back to the shed.

“Now, don’t move out of that hammock, or you get nothing to eat, do you understand? Nothing! Nowt, or whatever you say in GoblinLand.”

Jerry raised a finger at the goblin who was now rolling round in the hammock.

“Yeah, Hob, we’ve got the message. You’re hungry. Just stay put.”

The twins shut the shed door and marched up the garden path to the house. Gran was in the kitchen.

“We’re starving, Gran,” Jerry announced. “We thought we’d make some sandwiches.”

Gran frowned.

“It’s only eleven and you had half a dozen croissants for breakfast.”

Jacob said at once, “We’ve been tracking in the woods, makes you hungry, Gran.”

“Alright then, but I’m making spaghetti for lunch, so go easy on the sandwiches.” Gran turned her back and was busy sorting out her cupboards. The twins shoved as much bread, tomatoes and cheese as they could into their pockets.

Then Jacob carefully buttered a few slices of bread to make peanut butter sandwiches, making a fuss of showing Gran they hadn’t made too many.

“Oh Jerry, put these old pasta packets in the bin, will you? They are all past the sell-by date, so just throw them away for me, there’s a good lad.”

Gran smiled and handed him the old pasta boxes, adding, “Make sure the bin lid is closed. Mr Roper thinks we’ve got a fox at the back of the gardens, says he can smell it.”

“Will do, Gran.” Jerry grinned, then winked at his brother.

“So, spaghetti at one. You’ll eat up here in the kitchen, though. There’s a very strange smell in that shed, it’s probably the drains, or maybe a fox.” Gran frowned.

“Skunk, more like, and we’re stuck with it.” Jacob hissed under his breath.

As Gran turned to watch them go, Jerry hoped she didn’t notice their bulging pockets.

“Great,” said Jacob as they carried the boxes away, “if all else fails, we can stuff him with old pasta. Maybe that’ll keep him quiet.”

The boys were not surprised to find that the Goblin had made a new mess and that he’d also ripped up all Gran’s flowers around the shed.

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 8 illustration badger

Chapter 9 – Feeding Hob is a Full-Time Job

“Here, Hob, eat these sandwiches, and make them last.” Hob stuffed the food into his mouth with a huge slurp and a gulp, and then it was all gone.

The boys were awestruck but fascinated by the goblin’s greed. Jacob said, “Gran will catch on to all the food raiding soon. Better keep the P- A- S- T- A for later.”

Then a thought struck him and he looked at Hob warily. “Er, can you read and write and spell?” he asked the goblin, but Hob’s mouth was too full for him to reply.

“Don’t you chew anything?” Jerry frowned, but he already knew the answer.

“Chew? What’s that?” Hob spluttered out a storm of breadcrumbs.

Jacob eyed up the goblin. “Now, Hob, let’s get down to business. Tell us exactly how you fell. What were you doing? It may help us to get you back home.”

Hob stared back.

“Doing?” he grunted.

“Yes. What were you doing before you fell? What was happening?” Jacob repeated the question nice and slowly.

Hob screwed up his face as if remembering.

“It was those elves,” he grunted. “Yes, I caught one of those sneaky, twisty, nasty little elves.”

“You were chasing elves?” Jacob asked, shaking his head.

But Hob stared as if Jacob were stupid.

“Chasing elves, yes, that’s what you do with elves, chase them, and catch them and poke them and bite them.” Hob was enjoying himself and but he shook his head as if to say, everybody knows that.

“Okay,” Jerry chimed in. “Just tell us what happened, please.”

Hob scratched his chin.

“I caught one of those twisty little ones and I bit his toe.”

The boys looked at each other, but said nothing as Hob added, “Yes, I bit his toe and the nasty little elf screeched and screeched and screeched and …”

Hob hopped around, holding his toe, screeching to tell the story better.

“We get the picture, Hob. What happened then?” Jerry said impatiently.

Hob stopped dancing around on one foot.

“Well, then his horrible little elf shoe came off and I grabbed it and ran away, fast like the wind. And then I fell, bump, bump, bump and hurt myself.”

The boys looked at each other again.

“Maybe this elf’s shoe is important,” said Jacob, watching Hob. “Are elves magic at all? Could it be that this elf didn’t like you pinching his shoe?”

Jerry grinned. “Never mind biting his toe. Perhaps he was very angry?”

Hob grinned to himself, “Oh yes, he was hopping mad. He screamed and yelled at me.” And Hob hopped around, yelping to give the story a bit more drama.

Jerry tried again. “And magic? Are elves magic?”

Hob shrugged. “They are stupid, not like goblins, but they do magic things too.”

“Now we have it, Hob,” said Jacob. “You got on the wrong side of an elf, bit his toe, pinched his shoe and he put some kind of ‘go away’ spell on you!”

Jerry was thoughtful. “Where is that shoe, Hob?”

“When I landed with a bump, I threw it away, I don’t want a stupid elf shoe,” Hob grumbled.

Jerry looked at his brother,

“We’ve got to find that elf’s shoe, that’s how to get him back. Beam him up holding that shoe, sort of thing.”

“So, one last question, Hob. What colour is that elf shoe?”

Jacob had a horrible feeling he already knew the answer as Hob looked at him as if he were completely daft.

“Green. That is the colour of an elf shoe.”

Just at that moment they heard Gran approaching the shed.

“Spaghetti, boys!” she yelled, and Jerry opened the shed door as Jacob hissed at Hob, “No nonsense in here, or you won’t get any lunch!”

“Don’t you even think of touching a single thing.” Jacob waved a finger at the goblin. “Goblin’s honour, if there is such a thing, okay?”

Hob jumped, sulking, into the hammock, mumbling to himself about unspeakable goblin things – biting elves and chasing creatures, lighting blazing fires, but Jerry and Jacob didn’t wait to hear more about that one. They closed the door on him and ran to meet Gran as fast as they could.

In the kitchen, Gran’s spaghetti was steaming and her famous tomato sauce was bubbling in a pot on the stove.

“Wash your hands first, boys.”

She sat at the table and ladled large portions onto their dishes. After washing his hands, Jacob looked under the kitchen sink and saw a small yellow bucket. He slipped it between his knees as Gran lifted the pans onto the table for everybody to help themselves to seconds.

“Oh, I nearly forgot the cheese.” She shut the fridge door. “Be careful if you see any animals in the garden. Mr Roper is talking about a fox, or even a racoon, now.”

As Gran stood at the fridge, Jerry slipped a pile of spaghetti into the yellow bucket and Jacob quickly ladled some of the tasty red sauce on top. When Gran handed them a slab of cheese to grate onto the spaghetti, Hob’s portion was safe between Jacob’s knees.

“We’re learning about, um, tracking. Maybe we’ll find Mr Roper’s fox, smelly things, foxes, aren’t they?” Jerry shook his head when Gran asked what they were up to in their new den.

Luckily, after their lunch, she was bending down with Jacob to stack things in the dishwasher and didn’t notice Jerry carrying a yellow bucket with him back to the shed. Jerry saw at once that Hob had been busy – this time in the wood pile at the side of the shed, which was no longer a pile, but spread all over the place.

“Looking for bad creatures,” Hob explained.

Jacob, who had just finished helping Gran and had arrived at the shed, shook his head.

“The only bad creature around here happens to be you, Hob.”

“Don’t understand silly words,” the goblin chuckled, just as Mr Roper’s dog Flash growled through the fence. Hob puts his fists up for a fight but Jacob steered him into the shed away from the snarling dog. Hob seemed pretty disappointed.

Jacob groaned. Perhaps he wasn’t as simple as they’d thought. Inside the shed with the door safely shut, Jerry handed Hob the yellow bucket.

“Here. I hope you like spaghetti?”

Now, everybody knows that spaghetti is not easy to eat and that sometimes you get a few splashes of tomato sauce on your T-shirt. Hob’s case was different though. He ignored the spoon Jacob held out and dived head first into the bucket. Hob slurped and gobbled and sucked with all his might, licked his green lips and dived in again. The goblin loved spaghetti, that much was clear. In between his slurping and swallowing and gobbling, he yelled, “Good, good, good.”

Within a couple of minutes, the yellow bucket was licked sparkling clean – which is more than could be said for Hob. He’d already been messy from the bramble berries and smeared with brown clods of earth and streaks of grassy stains from the rabbit hole and now, added to this, he’d covered himself from head to toe in bright red tomato sauce.

Jerry and Jacob didn’t know about other goblins, but surely this one had to be the messiest and greediest of them all. The boys had simply sat and watched in amazement. Hob didn’t pause for a single breath, slurping up the spaghetti just like a high power vacuum cleaner.

Chapter 10 – Finding Out About Hob

“Wow, what a performance,” said Jerry “Are they all like you in your family, Hob?”

“Family?” Hob looked puzzled.

Jacob tried again. “Have you got brothers and sisters, Hob?”

The goblin seemed to understand this time.

“Yes, brothers and sisters.” Then he looked sad for a moment: even a greedy, grubby goblin misses his family.

Jerry felt a bit sorry.

“What are their names, Hob?” He sat down beside the messy little creature.

Hob thought for a minute and then rattled off, “Rob, Tob, Dob, Sob, Bob, Cob, Lob and Fob.”

Jerry and Jacob looked startled.

“Wow! Eight brothers,” said Jerry.

“One’s enough for me,” said Jacob, grinning.

Hob frowned. “No, no, one is a sister, girl goblin. Bob is a girl.”

Jacob laughed.

“That figures. Poor old Hob, I bet you miss them. Anyhow, we’d better start on the shoe search. Goodness knows how long it is going to take to find a tiny green elf shoe in all that lovely green, green grass,” said Jacob.

Jerry agreed. “Yes, it’s probably about the size of a tiny doll’s shoe, and Spaghetti Hob here can’t even remember where he dropped it.”

Hearing the word, Hob jumped up to join the boys. “I like spaghetti – it is so good.”

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 10 illustration spaghetti goblin

Chapter 11 – Getting Hob Back to GoblinLand

“We can see that,” Jerry laughed as they walked back to the woods.

The Elf Shoe Search took ages and ages and there was still no sign of a little green shoe anywhere.

“Let’s try again.” Jacob turned to Hob, who wasn’t really helping at all, but rushing round madly, swiping at butterflies; luckily the butterflies were faster.

“Hob, listen carefully.” Jacob fixed the goblin with a stare. “Was there anything different about this shoe, something that you noticed, that could help us find it? Please think hard, Hob.”

Hob stared right back.

“No, it is just a stupid elf shoe.” He scratched his grubby chin. “I have said. It is green and it has a silver tinkle bell.”

At this, Jerry slapped his hand on his forehead. “A silver tinkle bell, Hob? You never mentioned that before, not once.”

Hob frowned at Jacob. “All elf shoes have silver bells, everybody knows that. Elves like stupid things – bells, flowers, moonbeams – uugh.” Hob made a retching sound and blew his nose into his blotchy, stained, green hanky.

Jerry said impatiently, “Now the little squirt tells us. But silver might be easy to spot if the sun glints on it. At least, easier than looking for a green pea in all this grass. Let’s go.”

Spotting a tiny glint of silver might sound easy – but it wasn’t. Also, the fact that an elf shoe is just a bit bigger than a peanut, didn’t make it easier.

The boys crawled carefully on their knees, taking care to go inch by inch across the area where they had found their little green goblin. No surprise, Hob’s help was minus a hundred. He jumped, chased and trampled. The boys were waiting for the usual I will die of starvation act, so they had a pocket full of crumbly old pasta at the ready! And then, Jerry suddenly yelped, “I think I’ve found it!”

Jacob peered over his brother’s shoulder at the tiny object. Actually, they were both a little scared to touch it, but there it was: a crumpled green doll’s shoe with a pointed toe and the tiniest of silver bells at the very end of the point.

“What now?” Jerry whispered. “Can we touch it or will we disappear in a puff of smoke? What do you think?”

Jacob gulped. “Dunno. But that’s the elf shoe alright.”

Jerry glanced across at Hob chasing around with a stick and trying to whack some poor insect.

“It’s his only chance to get back. We’d better pick it up.”

Jacob nodded. “Yeah, it’s no good him staying here. We couldn’t keep him, even if we wanted to.”

“Which we definitely don’t.” Jerry looked at the goblin again. “Who’d want to keep a goblin?”

Jerry felt brave and picked up the tiny shoe carefully, between his thumb and finger.

“Hob,” he called, “we’ve found the elf shoe, come and take a look.”

Hob stopped chasing the insect and peered at the shoe.

“Yes, stupid elf shoe. I shall bite it.”

“Please don’t.” Jerry pulled the shoe away from the goblin. “This is the key to you getting back to GoblinLand, so just be careful.”

The boys sat quietly under ‘Hob’s Tree’ – which was what they called it now.

“What’s the plan, brother?” Jerry asked.

“Dunno. You’re usually the one with the ideas.” Jacob was thoughtful, then he said, “Well, we found him at midnight and there was moonlight. So, I’ll say that’s how he has to go back.”

“Yeah!” Jerry said hopefully. “How about this? We’ll make him hold the elf shoe and concentrate on going back.”

“Sort of – if he can,” Jacob nodded in agreement. “But concentrating isn’t exactly a goblin talent, if you see what I mean.” Jacob nodded in the direction of Hob, who was ripping up a few wild flowers for goblin entertainment.

“We’ll train him,” Jerry said in a strong voice. “We’ll train him like a circus lion or − or something.”

Both boys burst out laughing – their circus lion was now rooting down a rabbit hole, getting filthier by the minute.

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 11 illustration elf shoe

Chapter 12 – The Plan!

Twenty minutes later, back in the den, Hob was fed on the old pasta. He didn’t complain, though he liked jam tarts better – but for a goblin food is food! Have you ever trained a goblin to concentrate on one single thing? No? Neither had Jerry and Jacob.

“Now, Hob,” Jerry began, “you hold this elf shoe nice and tight and think about going home, like this.”

Jerry demonstrated, holding the shoe tight to his chest. He closed his eyes and said slowly, “I want to go home. I want to see my mother, I want to see my brothers, I want to see my Gran … Okay, Hob, now you.”

Jerry handed the grimy goblin the tiny green shoe. Hob sniffed and frowned. He held the shoe just like Jerry showed him and started, “You want to go home, you want to see your mother, you want to see your brother, and you want to see your Gran …”

Jerry shook his head.

“No, Hob, you want to go home. You want to see your brothers Tob, Sob and the rest of them. You!” Jerry wondered how long this was going to take.

Jacob wondered, “What if the magic works now and we don’t need moonlight?”

Jerry gave his brother a puzzled look.

“What’s wrong with that? If he disappears now in a puff of smoke, are you going to cry?”

“True,” Jacob agreed. “Now, Hob, try again. Think of your family.”

Hob mumbled, “But I don’t like Bob. Do I have to say Bob?”

Jerry laughed. “No, just think of all the nice things you miss at home. Try to picture them in your head.”

Hob nodded in agreement. “Yes! I do want to go home, I want a big, big pot of goblin guzzle, I want to bite elves and frighten stupid fairies. I want −”

Jacob laughed again. “Goblin guzzle? What’s that, Hob?”

Hob looked surprised.

“You throw everything into the big black pot on the big fire, mix it up and guzzle it down.”

Jacob turned to the goblin, thinking, ‘Why did I even ask?’ But he said aloud, “Great, Hob, that’s fine. Keep saying things about your home and hold that shoe nice and tight.”

The boys were not at all sure the ‘Beam me up while clinging to an elf shoe’ thing was going to work, but they were determined to try.

“Midnight it is then.” Jerry shrugged his shoulders.

“But how do we keep him fed and quiet until then?” Jacob was worried.

“Let’s teach him some games!” suggested Jerry. “Perhaps we could teach him cards, or boy, girl, fruit, or something like that.” He frowned. “But he can’t read or write, so we’d better try him on cards, or snakes and ladders, I’m sure he can throw a dice.”

Jacob went up to Gran’s house to look for suitable old boxes of easy games while Jerry asked Hob a bit more about GoblinLand.

“Do you play games, Hob?” he said.

“Games, what is that?” responded the goblin.

“Well,” said Jerry slowly, “if you’re in the woods you can play hide-and-seek. One person, or goblin, counts to a hundred and everybody finds a good hiding place. I bet you goblins play that.”

“Oh yes, we play that game.” Hob grinned in his odd way. “We call it Bite You, Goblin, and when you find a goblin you can bite him.”

“And do you count to a hundred while all the goblins hide?” asked Jerry, interested.

Hob frowned at this question as if unsure, then said, “We shout a goblin shouting song – Get Away, Get Away, Get Away.”

“That figures.” Jerry gave up on the games. “What about special days? Do you have special days like we have birthdays, when you get presents and have parties and things?”

Hob shook his head and looked a bit miserable.

“What is this presents?” he asked.

Jerry felt a bit miserable too, and then he said, “We’ll give you a nice present before you go back, then you’ll see.”

Jerry felt better when he told Hob this, and even better when Jacob marched in with an armful of old games.

“I had to tell Gran we’d have a games night tomorrow and then she can join in. I told her we’re sorting out old games first, but I don’t think she believed me.”

Jerry rolled his eyes. “We’ll just have to hope she did. I love Gran, but she often seems to guess things, if you know what I mean.”

He began sorting through the games Jacob had brought.

Chapter 13 – A New Game

“Okay. Now, Hob, we’ll sit in a circle and try a few of these.” They made a start with Connect Four and Jerry encouraged the goblin along. “This game’s easy, Hob, just slot your yellow disc in and I’ll slot in my red ones. The first to get a row of four wins. Do you get it, Hob?” Jerry beamed.

But hope turned to despair as Hob ate all his yellow discs.

“These cakes are too hard!”

He spat out a mangled mess of yellow plastic and Jerry and Jacob just stared at the ruined pile of discs. Jerry swallowed hard.

“Let’s try snakes and ladders, Jacob, that’s really easy. But make sure he doesn’t eat his token.” Jerry turned to the goblin, holding up a small red disc. “Hob, this is not for eating. We are playing a game. Just watch us and then you can join in, okay?”

Hob stared at the board. Jerry and Jacob showed him how, and Hob loved rattling the dice, but that was it: he just kept on rattling and rolling the dice.

“Well, it’s a start, for a goblin,” Jacob laughed.

The only game that worked, well, with goblin rules, was snap! Hob yelled, ‘Snap’ all the time. His version was ‘yap’, though at least he learnt how to slap his card on top of the pile. Yap, yap, yap. Hob won every single time, yelling, ‘Yap’ and grabbing up all the cards.

“We’ll call it ‘Goblin Yap’ − the new version of snap,” Jerry grinned.

The boys spent some time at Gran’s house after their supper of chilli wraps – and managed to hide a pile of the leftover wraps and mince, which they hurriedly stuffed into a plastic bag for Hob – a goblin doesn’t worry at all about how food looks!

“Tomorrow night we can have a TV or a games evening, if you like,” Gran announced.

“Yeah, that’s great.” Jerry winked at his brother. “We’re practising new games this evening, Gran.”

As they walked back to the shed, Jerry turned to his brother.

“What if it doesn’t work, Jacob? What if we can’t get Hob transported back to Goblinland? What if we have to keep him here?”

“That’s a horrible thought.” Jacob shook his head. “Imagine if we had to introduce him to all our friends at school, never mind what Gran and Mum would say.”

“It’s got to work,” Jerry said in a growling voice. “Goblins are really hard work and having one as a kind of brother, no way!”

When they opened the door of the shed, they were not in the least surprised to find their pile of games in chaos, and what hadn’t been ripped up had been eaten!

“Enjoyed the Monopoly, I see, Hob. Do the notes taste good?” He dumped the bag of mangled chill wraps in front of the goblin, who did not hesitate to dive in.

“Good eat!” Hob slobbered over the wraps. “That not good eat.” He pointed at the half-chewed Monopoly money.

“You don’t say,” said Jerry. “Anyway we need to practise his midnight party piece before we go back to his tree. How’s the moonlight?”

Jerry looked out of the little window at the evening sky. “Hmm – it’s hard to tell, but perhaps moonlight isn’t so important. The elf shoe and Hob’s wish are more important.”

Chapter 14 – A Puff of Magic

Later that night, the moon was bright and Jerry and Jacob began to feel nervous.

“What if we’re stuck with him forever?” Jacob couldn’t help feeling worried.

“Don’t even think about it,” said Jerry, secretly worrying himself.

Soon after, they were standing in the moonlight under Hob’s tree.

“Here’s the elf shoe.” Jerry thrust it into Hob’s grubby hand. “Oh, and I nearly forgot,” Jerry grinned. “Here’s a present for you as well. You wanted a present, remember?”

Jerry pushed a small red parcel tied with a blue ribbon into the goblin’s other hand. Hob stared big-eyed at Jerry and then at Jacob

“A present for me?” The goblin had a tear in his eye. “That is a good thing,” the goblin stammered. Thanks was still an unknown goblin word.

“Yeah,” Jerry smiled. “It’s something for you to play with your brothers in Goblinland.”

Jacob ran his hand through his hair.

“It’s time, Hob.” He glanced at his watch. “Now hold that shoe tight and wish for Goblinland with all your might. Come on, Hob, think really hard.”

The goblin stood there quieter than he had never been before, his eyes bright with teardrops, his right hand clutching the elf shoe and his left hand grasping his tiny red present.

“Think it, Hob,” Jerry muttered under his breath. “Think about your family, please, Hob, please!”

The goblin stayed still, gazing up into the bright face of the moon. He blinked, looked at the boys, and then he was gone! There was no flash, or noise or magic smoke – one second he was there and then, in the blink of an eye, Hob the goblin was gone.

The boys said nothing for a few moments

“It worked,” Jerry said at last. “It actually worked. I wonder what he was thinking about?”

“Chasing elves, probably,” said Jacob. “I expect that elf wanted his shoe back.”

Jacob laughed a bit, but didn’t sound very happy. Then, more cheerfully, he asked, “Hey, Jerry, what was the present?”

Jerry grinned as they began to walk back along the path.

“Remember that tiny pack of Snap cards we got in a Christmas cracker? We all laughed because they were too small to play with. Gran said, Snap cards for little people. So I thought – perfect for Hob and his family!”

The boys looked up at the clear moonlight sky and glanced back at the dark shadows of the woodland trees.

“That’s one place we don’t need to visit for a while,” Jacob groaned as they turned into the path leading to their garden. “I could sleep for a week. Being a goblin minder is hard work.”

“But I suppose we’ll miss him, in a funny sort of way.” Jerry glanced down at the spot where Hob had been standing just moments ago. “Looks like he has left us a goodbye present too.”

Jacob smiled as he picked up the dirty green scrap of rag that Hob had used as a hanky.

Back in their shed, Jacob found a small bag and carefully placed the rag inside it. Jerry smiled at the empty hammock before he fell asleep. “Maybe we’ll even miss him.”

The boys slept and slept. It was very late when Gran bustled in with a breakfast basket of rolls, yoghurts and orange juice.

“What on earth do you two do at night that makes you so tired? Well, it’s breakfast time. If you sleep any later, it’ll be time for lunch!” She opened a window and sniffed. “At least that awful smell seems better today. I wonder what it could have been?”

Chapter 15 – Missing Hob?

Gran insisted they had a Games Evening at the house and slept in a proper bed for a change.

“You can overdo this camping adventure stuff, you know.” Gran declared. “I really can’t understand the attraction of camping out in a smelly old wooden hut.”

Gran’s treat was a scary Goosebumps film and homemade pizza.

“Let’s play something,” Gran said, when the film had finished.

“We’ve got a new snap game here, Gran. It’s called ‘Goblin Yap’. We’ll show you,” said Jerry.

Gran watched the boys play and then announced, “I’ve never seen such a silly game in all my life. It has no point at all, just yelling Yap yap yap and grabbing all the cards. Whoever thought of such nonsense?”

Jerry winked at his brother.

“Yeah, you’re right, Gran. ‘Goblin Yap’ really is nonsense. I can’t imagine it will ever catch on.”

Gran nodded. “I agree. I’ll make some cocoa and maybe we can play monopoly before bedtime. Or even better, I’ve got an idea, how about a late night walk in the woods? We might hear owls or see foxes. It’s another moonlit night and I need some fresh air. I must say I was a bit worried about your shed camping, I had a very strange idea that you had adopted a stray skunk!” Gran smiled at the twins. “What do you think, then, how about a night walk in the woods?”

In unison, Jerry and Jacob said firmly, “Monopoly, Gran!” Jerry added, “We’ll save the walk in the woods for another night.”

Later, as the boys snuggled down in their cosy beds, Jacob looked nervously at his brother and placed Hob’s ragged hanky under his pillow.

“He is gone, isn’t he? You know, biting elves and guzzling his favourite guzzle tonight back in good old GoblinLand? I wonder if he is telling his brothers about us? Mmm, sleeping in a proper bed is quite nice. It’s not that I didn’t like him, well apart from him biting, guzzling and chasing everything, but too much Hob can drive you nuts. And this hanky still pongs a bit …” Jerry coughed and glanced impatiently over at his brother, who had finally stopped his chatter and fallen asleep, clutching Hob’s hanky in his hand. Jerry had had quite enough of Hob, but he was gone now, and that was that!

Or was it …?

Chapter 16 – Jacob Has a Funny Feeling

Jacob woke up the next morning, feeling a bit funny; he looked at his hand, which was still holding Hob’s dirty green rag, but it had slipped out of its little bag.

“I had a very creepy dream.” He turned to his brother Jerry, who yawned and glared at the green rag, holding his nose.

” I’m not surprised, with that smelly old thing in bed with you.” Jerry yawned again and turned over in the soft bed. “A nightmare about Hob, was it, were we all drowning in a pot of spag bol?”

“Well, no.” Jacob sat up. “I dreamt that he was back here, but not quite his old self. Hard to explain really, a bit quieter and not quite so greedy.”

“But still smelly, I expect.” Jerry stretched out. “A reformed Hob, that I’d like to see, or maybe not.”

The boys remembered all the ripped-up games and Hob eating everything he could get hold of. “That was a nightmare, brother.” Jerry shook his head. “No more goblins, please, and Hob really was a bit of a slob.”

After breakfast they went back down to their hut. Gran had now filled it with air fresheners so it smelt flowery… Jerry sniffed.

“Not sure which is worse. Hardly a goblin pong, is it? Hob would probably eat those plastic air fresheners!”

Jerry and Jacob sprawled in the big floor cushions and wondered what Hob had told his brothers and one sister back in GoblinLand.

They would not have been at all surprised to know that his story was very, very different to what really happened, more of a Hob the Super Goblin story than the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Chapter 17 – Hob Tells His Story…

When Hob landed back home, it was right in the middle of a guzzle feast. All the other goblins had gathered around the crackling fire and goblin guzzle bubbled in the huge black pot, but not for long – goblins like their food fast, they invented fast food – and now they all listened wide-eyed to Hob the Hero telling his tale.

“That mean elf SilverToe put a curse on me and I flew spinning through long black tunnels. I was broken and battered when I landed in the Land of the Giants, and then they tied me up with ropes and beat me. The two Giant Kings never stopped beating me with big sticks and they threw me into a dark, cold prison, with no food or water for days and days!”

Hob’s sister Bob sat and listened to this long tale of beatings and hunger and asked,

“Well, how did you get away if they imprisoned you and tied you up? You never were any good at magic; you can never remember any spells.” She shook her green goblin head. “Not even the easy ones.”

Hob was not having this from his stupid sister, but he ignored her and turned to the other goblins, all still listening, wide-eyed in amazement.

“Well, I did my magic.” Hob looked around. “I waited till those two giants slept and then broke out of my heavy chains and stole the elf shoe and this present, that’s what they call it, present is a magic word for Giants.”

Bob smiled and walked away from the circle of goblins.

“Magic word for giants?” she smiled. “This story my brother is telling is a Hob sob story, first he is tied with ropes and then it is chains but, for brother Hob, it is much better than his usual guzzle stories.”

Hob’s storytelling went on late into the night, until all the other goblins had heard enough of beatings, starving and the great escape of Hob the Hero. They all yawned and found grassy sleeping places to sleep off the enormous feast of guzzle − and headaches from Hob’s endless tale.

When all the goblins were fast asleep, the snoring was so loud that the trees were shaking, Bob crept back to her sleeping brother and whispered,

“I don’t believe one single word,” as her hand slipped under the mossy pillow he had made. Then she quietly put the elf shoe and the present into her pocket before she crept off to where her other brothers were sleeping.

Bob thought long and hard. She knew that her magic was a million times better than her brother Hob’s and, in any case, Hob didn’t look even one tiny bit beaten or starved. Bob smiled. “In fact he looks a bit fatter than when he disappeared just a couple of days ago.” Bob turned over the elf shoe. “And his clothes are smudged with what looks a bit like red food, it smells like food, too.”

It was then that Bob decided that she would go there also, wherever it was. If Hob could get back unharmed, then so could she!

Bob slipped out of the goblin area to the place where Hob had told them that the ‘elf curse’ had happened.

“I don’t need an elf curse,” Bob said to herself. “I have got the shoe and the giant’s magic present and they will take me to that place.”

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 17 illustration mouse placard

Chapter 18 – Bob Takes a Look at the Giants

And that is how, just minutes later, when the twins were sleeping in their beds, Bob landed in the garden shed, which had been Hob’s terrible prison.

“Is this the prison?” Bob laughed out loud. “It doesn’t look like a prison to me.”

Bob tried out the hammock and fell into the squashy cushions. “Mmm, nice prison!” she grinned. “Your prison, my goblin brother, is not like your story.”

Bob walked around the little hut and looked out of the window towards the big, dark house. “Now that looks a bit more exciting.” She smiled, tucked the elf shoe and the present deep into her pocket and, with a twitch of her floppy goblin ear, she made herself invisible. “Better be safe than sorry, if there are giants out there, ready to beat and starve me. Hob never did manage invisible at goblin school…” She laughed as she crept up through the garden to the kitchen door. “Hob spent most of his time at goblin school in the nitwit corner.”

Opening the kitchen door was no problem for Bob and she was in before you could say goblin guzzle.

Bob tried not to be too noisy and wake up those Giant Kings, but she giggled with delight as she opened the fridge and the light came on to show her amazing piles of strange food.

Bob was not quite as greedy as her brother, but she still tasted everything in the fridge with her long goblin finger. “Mmm,” she murmured as she sampled big finger dollops of strawberry jam, orange marmalade, chocolate spread, cream cheese, pickles, peanut butter, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, potted meat, fishy spreads. She unscrewed all the jars and, being a goblin, didn’t remember to put any of the tops back on. Well, a goblin is always a goblin. The only thing she spat out was the Marmite. “Ugh, don’t like.”

Exploring the kitchen was fun, so Bob decided to try some other rooms and crept upstairs where she stumbled into the bathroom. Bob loved the bathroom as soon as she saw it. Shiny and very different to anywhere she had ever seen, what a very strange place. The toilet flush she found by accident and pressed it again and again until it stopped working; switching the taps on and off was just as much fun, too, but tasting the pots of creams and powders wasn’t so enjoyable, and the soap made her spit and dance.

“Aargh, horrible, awful food,” she shouted, but then remembered to try to be quiet before the Giant Kings captured her and tied her up too.

The next room she crept into was the boys’ bedroom and she stared at the two sleeping boys and whispered, “The Giant Kings? Not so terrible and not so big!”

Then Bob spotted what Jacob was clutching in his hand. She crept up close and touched Hob’s raggy cloth. “They are the terrible giants.” She smiled a quick goblin smile and yawned. All that testing and tasting was tiring, so she curled up in small chair and pulled some of the twins scattered clothes over her and fell fast asleep.

Bob was still sleeping deep and quiet, for a goblin, when the boys went downstairs for breakfast to find Gran in a very bad mood and telling them how messy it was to leave the tops off jars.

“But we didn’t, Gran, truly,” Jacob began, but something stopped him as he looked at all those opened jars of jam. Did he spot a finger mark? No, of course not, but he looked around the kitchen for any new clues.

Chapter 19 – Is Hob Back?

Later, the boys sat in their den and wondered.

“Hob wouldn’t have just tasted the jams,” Jacob frowned, “he would have eaten them clean and swallowed the jars whole.”

Jerry laughed.

“Too right. Let’s stop thinking spooky thoughts about that smelly old goblin being back. No way, we would have smelt him by now, for sure.”

The boys decided to continue working on their huge unfinished roller coaster model in the garage; Gran wanted to take them to the shops later to buy some new clothes.

Gran was comfy in the kitchen before starting on lunch and she fell asleep watching Bake It-Cake It, her very favourite morning TV show, now that wasn’t unusual. But she woke up surrounded by empty crisp packets, sweet papers and watching CrazyKids Cartoons instead, with the remote control on the floor. Now that, she scratched her head, was very, very unusual. When the boys strolled into the kitchen, Gran was sitting at the kitchen table looking very worried.

“I think I am ill.” Gran shook her head. “Maybe I have got Sleep Eating, look at all those empty packets of crisps − and I can’t even remember eating them.”

The boys looked at each other and then, upstairs, they heard the toilet flush.

“Oh no!” said Gran “Not that again, that toilet has been flushing all the time, all on its own. Mr. Roper is coming to take a look, but he says he has never heard of toilets flushing themselves.”

This time Jerry and Jacob looked long and hard at their grandmother.

Jerry started.

“Gran, we have got something to tell you. Jacob, let’s make Gran a nice cup of tea …”

Chapter 20 – Explaining a Goblin to Gran

The boys made Gran a cup of tea, whispering, “It can’t be Hob, he’s got a water allergy.” Jacob was puzzled.

“Yes, but not a crisp allergy. I think it is time to tell Gran the truth. Whether we like it or not, there’s a goblin in the house!” It was Jerry’s turn.

And so the boys told Gran the story, starting at the very beginning with their midnight walk in the woods. This seemed to upset Gran the most.

“Boys, that’s dangerous, out in the wood on your own, you could have met some very odd types.”

Jerry sighed. “Yes, we know, Gran, we did, a very, very odd type.” He continued the story, describing finding Hob and then hiding and feeding him in their den.

“Are you really sure it was a goblin?” Gran shook her head for the hundredth time as they continued the story. “It could have been one of your friends, dressed up for a trick?”

Then the toilet upstairs flushed again and Gran shook her head for the hundredth-and-first time.

“So, you see, Gran, we think Hob is back, that would explain all the crisp packets and the opened jars in the fridge.” Jerry spread his hands and shrugged.

Now it was Gran’s turn. “Well, if he is a friend of yours, as you say he is, why doesn’t he simply show himself and say hello, boys, I’m back for a visit?”

This seemed to make sense, but Jerry added, “If it is Hob, I can’t understand why he’s playing with water, it doesn’t seem quite right.”

Jacob had been thinking hard. “We’ll set a trap. What’s for lunch, Gran?”

Gran laughed. “Is that all you can think about? We’ve got a strange thing in the house determined to break the toilet flush and you are thinking about your lunch.”

Jacob explained his plan. “What is the one sure thing to bring Hob out into the open? Food! And what is one hundred percent the right food to put in our trap? Gran’s spaghetti bolognese. Gran, he loved it… you should have seen him get stuck into a bucket of spag bol, head first, it was awesome.”

And so the plan was worked out. A big steaming bowl of spag bol on the table, doors opened so that the delicious smell would waft right upstairs to the bathroom. Then the three would pretend to be sleeping and a giant beach towel was at the ready, to throw over the gobbling Hob! It all sounded so very simple.

Chapter 21 – The Spag Bol Trap

“I had planned macaroni cheese…” Gran grumbled as she stirred a tin of tomatoes into her special spicy recipe.

The three of them sat at the table with the big steaming bowl of spaghetti in the middle, the wide open door hopefully sending the delicious spicy smells up the stairs to the open bathroom door.

Jerry squinted through his half-closed eyes and saw a telltale tiny movement of the kitchen door. The others twitched: they had noticed it too.

Jacob waited until he saw a movement in the bowl of spaghetti, a bit like a careful finger test in the red sauce. He waited for a moment until he thought that the red sauce seemed to be disappearing as if being sucked up. He stumbled, but was quick enough to throw the bath towel over the bowl and whoever or whatever was tasting it.

The beach towel was moving now and something underneath it was wriggling like mad, squealing, “Aargh, don’t beat me… Aargh!”

Jerry began with a question as they all held down the corners of the beach towel so that the wriggling monster or goblin could not escape.

“Who are you? You are not Hob….so WHO are you?”

The voice under the towel blurted out, “Bob, I am Bob, don’t beat me like you beat my brother Hob.”

“Beat you?” Jacob shouted at the wriggling towel. “We never beat Hob, ever, we gave him food and helped him get back to GoblinLand. Are you really Bob? Hob’s horrible sister?”

The towel then stopped wriggling “I am not horrible, it is Hob who is horrible and he told us that you starved him and tied him up in chains, or was it ropes.”

Jacob and Jerry exchanged looks and Gran held the towel down with all her mighty strength. She was starting to believe in Hob, and she had no wish to see Bob, or whatever was wriggling like mad under the towel.

Jerry gulped. “Tied him up in chains?”

Jacob continued, “Starved him? We fed him pretty much non-stop. What an ungrateful, squirty little goblin he turned out to be.”

The muffled voice under the towel growled, “And a great big fibber…”

Jacob said slowly, “Look Bob, if that’s who you really really are, we can let you go, but don’t run away, please.”

Gran added, “And leave that toilet flush alone,” added Gran, as she kept the towel in a no escape hold.

After making Bob promise not to run away, Gran and the boys slowly let go of the beach towel, to reveal a not-quite-so-grubby, smaller version of Hob, although now splattered with red spaghetti sauce – which made her a bit more Hob-like.

“So Hob got back all right did he? He didn’t send a postcard,” Jerry began

“Yes.” Bob squinted around her “He escaped from your prison and used magic to get back, all by himself.”

Jacob shook his head. “Is that what the little squirt said? Did he say how long it took us to find that tiny little grass-green elf shoe and how he didn’t help us at all, not one little bit?”

“That was not Hob’s tale.” Bob licked some of the spaghetti sauce from her fingers. “This is really good. Are you the Giant Queen?” Bob turned to Gran who was staring rather rudely at the little visitor.

Bob then told the speechless boys Hob’s hero tale, as Gran served up four bowls of the cooling spaghetti. “Pity to waste it!” She did not take her eyes off the little goblin for one second. “You can have some ice cream if you promise not to touch the toilet flush or taps again.” Gran was feeling better now and Bob was so small she could hardly be dangerous.

Bob told the boys, and Gran, that she only came because she didn’t really believe her brother’s tale and that she liked it here in GiantLand, so maybe she would stay for a day or two. That wasn’t a question; the boys looked at each other – add bossy to the goblin list of messy, greedy and smelly!

“Hob never told us about goblins being able to work magic or to become invisible.” Jerry turned to Bob as she licked her ice cream bowl cleaner than clean.

“That’s because he can’t,” Bob explained with a huge grin. “Hob was never good at goblin school. He spent most of his time in the nitwit corner catching spiders and the only thing he was ever good at was chasing.”

Jerry smiled. “Ah yes, he is pretty good at chasing, we noticed that.”

As Bob now began to lick the ice cream carton clean, Jacob whispered to his brother, “Guess that brother and sister don’t get along too well.”

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 21 illustration girl goblin

Chapter 22 – A Bit of Shopping With Bob

Gran came up with the suggestion after lunch. “Well, Bob, as you want to see a bit of GiantLand, ha ha, maybe we could take you around and you can see a few things. Only, of course, if you stay invisible, we don’t have many goblins around here, you see.”

And so it was decided to take the invisible Bob on their shopping trip after she had sworn goblin’s honour not to touch anything or give herself away, but Jacob whispered to Jerry as they climbed into Gran’s car, “And we know all about goblin’s honour, don’t we? It doesn’t exist.”

“I am sorry, Bob, I don’t have a goblin seat belt. Just hold tight, will you, dear?” Gran was quite enjoying herself.

Bob loved the car. “Faster than a fairy chariot,” she squealed, “but a lot noisier.”

Bob had great fun in the supermarket where they went first – Gran didn’t.

Bob loved the huge piles of fruit and vegetables. The boys heard her laugh and then they saw tiny bites marks appear in the rows of apples, pears, tomatoes, oranges, everything, in fact!

“Ooops, let’s leave.” Jacob told Bob to follow them quickly, but not before she had pulled out an apple from the bottom of the pile and the whole lot came crashing down.

Did any of the customers notice the two boys being followed by a bobbing apple? And an older lady muttering, “I knew this was a mistake – goblins just don’t know how to behave.”

Gran hurried them out, but not before Bob had taken a bite out of a row of jam tarts in the baker’s shop.

“I’ll come back later, and shop on my own.” Gran mopped her brow as the woman next to her nudged her and said, “Look at that, there are mouse bites in those tarts, mouse bites, that’s disgusting.”

“Let’s go to Rainbirds and get your new sweatshirts.” Gran suggested. “There is no food there, so we should be safe. Now, Bob, we want to show you around, but you have to behave.” Gran had taken over. “Do you have shops in GoblinLand at all?”

Bob, now her visible self, smiled. “No shops, but I like shops a lot.”

Jacob helped Gran out. “Well, there are rules. You must not touch or take things. You need money to pay for things too. Do you have money in GoblinLand?” Jacob held out a handful of coins for her to see.

“Oooh, is that money?” Bob asked. “I like it, it is nice and shiny, like golden elf chariot wheels”

Gran pulled up outside Rainbirds and announced to Bob, “Please don’t touch anything and if you are a very, very good little goblin girl, I will buy you something nice.”

Bob behaved herself as the boys got their new GAP sweatshirts. “Maybe we can change GAP to GOB for goblin?” Jerry grinned as Bob seemed to tug at Gran’s hand and led her off to the small children’s department.

Gran returned carrying a pink glitter T-shirt with a princess crown on the front, a bright bead necklace and a cute Kitty Katty backpack. “They should all fit, they are for three to four-year-olds, pity we can’t try them on.” Gran had a wide grin: she loved the things that Bob had chosen.

The boys looked at each other and scratched their heads as Gran marched off to pay, with an apple still bobbing behind her as if by magic – invisible goblin magic.

“And now we’ll drive to the lake for a walk and an ice-cream, I am sure Bob has seen enough shops for one day.”

Bob said no, she liked shops, but maybe she’d like lakes, too!

The highlight of the afternoon was Bob falling in love with the swans; luckily, there were no people around, so Bob stayed visible and jumped onto the back of a swan. Maybe she used a bit of magic, because the swan swam off gracefully around the lake with Bob seated on his back, laughing, and all the other swans swimming behind.

Later they sat with their ice cream cones on a bench and Bob told them that there were no swans in GoblinLand, and maybe she would take one back.

Gran asked a lot of questions about GoblinLand and seemed keen to know the recipe for goblin guzzle – but there clearly wasn’t one.

Gran plucked up enough courage to ask a question that had been bothering her. “Bob, I know he is your brother, but can you tell me why your brother Hob is so smelly?

Bob politely asked for ice cream number five and began, “Well, he won’t ever have his birthday bath, but it isn’t so bad because we always find him first when we play hiding in the woods. We sniff him out, and he still doesn’t know why. We always get Woz, too, he won’t take his birthday bath either.”

Gran smiled. “Well, that clears that up. Birthday bath, that’s interesting, I’ve got lots of bubbles, if you’d like a birthday bath when we get back.”

Bob smiled and asked, “What’s this bubbles?”

Chapter 23 – Bob’s Goodbye

Gran was really enjoying herself – she had never had goblin visitors before and, now that Bob kept her fingers off the toilet flush, they were best friends.

Gran made up a bed for Bob from a big old washing basket and fluffy baby blankets which seemed to appear from an old cupboard. Bob had a birthday bubble bath, and it wasn’t even her birthday.

They all made pizza together, always a favourite with the boys, each putting lashings of favorite toppings on each quarter … Jerry hated salami, but loved extra tomatoes, Jacob hated onions, but loved extra salami. Gran loved extra cheese and lots of olives, Bob loved absolutely everything, so her quarter of the pizza was piled sky high. She even put jam, peanut butter and pickled onions on top of the salami and cheese!

They played snap…not Hob’s useless goblin yap version, but proper snap. Bob quickly understood the rules and won every single time; maybe she used a bit of magic, but she certainly ate all the chocolates Gran had put out!

“We gave Hob a pack of snap cards as a goodbye present.” Jerry told Bob. “Maybe he has still got it?”

Bob took slipped her hand into her pocket and pulled out the elf shoe and the present, still wrapped.

“Yes, that’s it.” Jerry looked a bit sad. “We hoped he’d play snap with his brothers.”

“Hob told us that it is a giant magic thing.” She looked a bit sad too. “I used it to come here. But now I know it is snap, I can teach my cousins Bab, Rab and Gab.”

“Your cousins?” Gran was curious “It always seems as if there are only brothers and boys back in GoblinLand. Are Bab, Rab and Gab girl goblins?”

“Yes, they are goblin girls” Bob replied. “And Hob always chases and bites them. Most of the girls don’t like Hob much.”

“Hob chases everybody, we did notice. Let’s play Uno now, snap is a bit too easy.” Jerry looked around but Jacob wasn’t there.

“More presents,” Jacob announced as he came back to the table. “Bob, these are throwaway cameras, we got them at a birthday party ages ago.” He held the small plastic box in his hand. “Maybe you could take some photos of GoblinLand for us as Gran won’t let us go back with you for a visit.” Jacob glared at Gran.

Gran repeated the talk they had had eating their pizza. “I only said that it is not a good idea. You two are certainly not magical and your mother would not allow it. Getting there is probably easy, but getting back?” She spread out her hands and shook her head. “Who knows what terrible things could happen.”

Bob quickly understood the idea of taking photos and she even managed a Goblin Selfie!

“There are 20 photos, we’ve taken a few now. Take the rest when you get back to GoblinLand and find a way to send it back to us by magic, we’ll find it somehow, don’t worry.”

Jerry smiled at Bob and they carried on with Uno. She won again, she was probably cheating.

Gran even allowed a bit of late TV before they went to bed, Bob kept looking at her Kitty Katty back pack, but there was no way the TV would fit in. Her little backpack was already full to bursting with chocolates, crisps, snap cards, the camera, a plastic swan that Gran had found, Bob’s beads and T-shirt, friendship bands, crayons, strips of ribbon, a small tube of bubble bath and almost every little thing that Bob picked up, smiled at, and then very quickly stuffed into her Kitty Katty backpack until it was bursting at the seams! Her tiny pockets were stuffed, too.

She even tried to put Gran’s Smartphone in, but Gran was too quick.” No, no, no, my little goblin girl. Not that, I am sure there is no Wi-Fi connection in GoblinLand, so that stays here, if you don’t mind.”

It seemed to be clear, without words, that Bob wanted to go back to GoblinLand after breakfast. “But you are always very welcome to visit,” Gran promised, and didn’t mention the toilet flush or the Smartphone once. “Next time you come I’ll show you how to cook spaghetti, that guzzle sounds a bit boring.”

Chapter 24 – The Throwaway Camera is Back…

“Bob is more like Gran’s favourite goblin, we hardly got a look in,” Jerry complained as they carried on with their model in the garage.

“Maybe both of them will come for a visit one day and then we’ll see how Gran gets on with Hob!” Jacob laughed “That would be pretty awesome.”

Just three days later Gran rushed upstairs and woke the twins with a mighty yell. “The camera is on the kitchen table.” She was out of breath after taking two stairs at a time.

The boys didn’t need a second wake-up call and they bounded down the stairs three at a time.

And there it was – the throwaway camera, sitting in the middle of the kitchen table surrounded by empty crisp packets.

Jacob laughed. “She can’t write, but a few empty crisp packets are as good as any note.”

Jerry picked up the camera, turning it around. “All twenty photos are taken,” he said. “We’ll take it into the photo shop straight after breakfast.”

And that’s what they did; Gran even gave them a few extra pounds for express service photos. She was even more excited about the goblin pictures than they were.

“I wonder if she took a photo of that awful Hob?” Gran wondered. “Not that I want to see him, of course, but I’d like to see the other brothers too and maybe she took a snap of the goblin guzzle, that would be nice.”

The twins left Gran sorting out her kitchen cupboards as they sprinted at top speed to the photo shop to pick up their snaps.

Stinky Goblin middle grade fiction chapter 23 illustration camera

Chapter 25 – Goblin Selfies

“Oh, hello boys!” Mr. Bailey looked serious as they entered the shop. “Your snaps are back, but I am afraid I’ve got bad news for you.” He picked up a piece of paper and read it. “This throwaway camera has probably been incorrectly stored. Extreme heat or cold can damage the film. As a result, the quality of these photographs is very poor.”

Mr. Bailey looked at them sadly. “When I read that, I took a look. Sorry boys, but your Halloween mask party photos are very poor quality indeed.” He handed the boys a packet with their photographs.

Jerry frowned and queried, “Halloween mask party?” as he took the envelope from Mr. Bailey.

“Well, that’s what it looks like,” Mr. Bailey explained “But really, really bad quality. There is no charge.”

Jacob swallowed hard as his shaky hand opened the photo envelope outside the shop.

Then the twins started laughing so loud that inside the shop Mr. Bailey shook his head and wondered what was so amusing about poor-quality photos.

“No wonder Mr. B thought it was a Halloween mask party.” Jerry pointed at the Bob selfie.

“And just look at these, that’s Hob, looking pretty scowly and dead angry.”

The boys went through the rather grey and very fuzzy pictures, most of them were really really bad, but the goblins were plain enough to see, if you knew they were goblins, of course!

“Bob has got a lot to learn about taking pictures.” Jerry laughed at one of just a goblin eye.

There was a very blurry selfie of Bob wearing her new T-shirt and beads, then one of what looked a bit like a group of girl goblins doing a kind of scary thumbs-up pose.

“Oh great, Gran will be pleased.” Jerry tried to make out what a strange photo might be, but then decided, “I think that great big black bucket with stains all over it is a pot of guzzle. One goblin seems to have his head stuck in it, must be Hob.”

“Let’s get these photos back to Gran,” Jacob laughed “She’ll need her glasses to make out what’s on them, but who else has snaps from GoblinLand? Nobody in the whole wide world.”

The twins laughed all the way back to the house, where Gran was waiting for her turn to see the Halloween mask party selfies. She smiled as she stuck a picture of Bob and the other girl goblins onto the fridge, next to the quick snap she had taken of Bob holding her very full Kitty Katty backpack.

“Now, young lady, you’ll see these straight away if you come back again one day, but don’t bring your brother, I haven’t got enough air freshener, or food.”

The boys laughed, and Jacob asked, “Have you got a soft spot for Bob, Gran?”

Gran looked at the boys. “I suppose so, yes, but it was quite nice to have a little girl around for a change, even a goblin girl.”

“Don’t worry, Gran, if she brings Hob next time, you’ll be off goblins for good, I promise you.”

Were they right?

The End