by Trevor Hopkins

The disguise turned out to be not too difficult, given we would be visiting a part of the upper world during the hours of darkness. I sent out Campsie to buy a number of items, including the highest pair of ladies stiletto heels she could manage - fortunately, she was already tall for a Goblin and the heels would bring her up to the height of a short female human. She already had a long and voluminous overcoat, realising that this was an essential part of the unofficial uniform of the Private Detective. She also needed to get a large and shapeless hat which would entirely cover her ears, and the biggest pair of sunglasses she could find.

While Campsie was shopping, I dug out the lift heels I wear when I expect to visit the world of the humans. Personally, I always find these to be a pain in the backside, and in the lower thighs too, but unfortunately they are essential to the disguise. I always travel with at least one pair of sunglasses in my coat pocket, and my hat is large enough to cover my ears, so otherwise my ensemble was unchanged.

When Campsie returned to my office, she was already wearing the hat, coat and sunglasses combo, presumably in an attempt to convince me she was ready. Unfortunately, the clothes don't actually make the woman, and I had to spend half an hour drilled her in the art of walking like a human. Goblins of all sexes have an efficient - although rather characteristic - way of walking, while humans - especially women - move quite differently, in a way which would be obvious even with the clothing. Women just swing their hips more than Goblins. To give her credit, Campsie got this and was soon mincing about my office carpet in a suitably convincing fashion.

"Right, that's enough," I announced when Campsie had mastered the walk, "Let's go."

"Okay," she said uncertainly, "But where are we going, and why?"

I grinned.

"Fair questions," I responded, "The place is an apartment in New York City. The reason is to meet with a human friend of mine."

"A human?" she squeaked.

"I take you've not met one before?"

"No!"

"Okay, so treat this is an introduction. My old friend Gumshoe knows all about the Lower Realms. And, right now, I could really do with his advice. So, calm down. I've done this hundreds of times before and, with a bit of luck we'll not encounter more than a couple of humans on the entire trip."

I watched Campsie carefully as I spoke. She was nervous, sure, like almost all Goblins would be at such a prospect. But she was toughing it out, steeling herself to accept the forthcoming encounter.

"So, how's your languages? Can you speak English?" I asked her, switching to my best attempt at American English as a test.

"A little," she answered stiffly, in the same tongue, "I understand more than I can speak."

I wasn’t surprised. Compared with the common tongue of the Goblins, all human languages are simple to the point of moronic. Besides, Goblins are generally good at languages.

"Okay, I'll do the talking," I muttered, "Just keep your mouth shut and follow my lead, okay?"

She nodded, mutely. She'll do, I thought.

Part 12 Part 14