by Trevor Hopkins

The following morning I woke early, alert and refreshed and, perhaps surprisingly, without even the suggestion of a hangover. It wasn't a late night, as one would expect when being entertained by a frail old lady. And the wines were of the finest quality. Showered, breakfasted and fortified by much strong coffee, I set out for the surface.

Getting to the upper world is much less of a problem for Goblins than humans might imagine. Although most of our caverns are many miles underground, there are plenty of entrances and exits. Most are the vertical equivalents of the travel tubes which link the caverns together, and these take no time at all to convey one to the surface. True, there's a certain amount of faffing around required with the border guards and customers officials who are there to keep out undesirables - which is more or less nugatory, since even humans can and do visit the Lower Realms - and, more importantly, to ensure that proscribed goods are not exported. Oh, and to ensure that import duty is levied on anything which is brought into the caves.

Getting about on the surface without being noticed is a bit trickier. There are basically two approaches. The first is to use the Goblin's natural talent to move silently and swiftly, taking advantage of shadows for concealment and the ability to see in the dark. Of course, it is possible to enhance all this with concealment glamours of various kinds, although such magic is a bit expensive for my wallet. The main problem is the time it takes to get anywhere while remaining concealed; it is so difficult to remain hidden on the forms of transport preferred up there.

The approach I prefer relies on the fact that I am large for a Goblin. Over the years, I have perfected a disguise which will convince most humans, at least in the gloom that they persist of thinking of as darkness. It's okay from a distance too, provided I don't get too close. This allows me to use buses and trains without difficulty, especially as I speak several popular human languages with a fair degree of fluency.

So when I left my apartment this morning, I was wearing lift shoes to add a few inches to my height, a long overcoat with an upturned collar to hide the shortness of my legs - and with plenty of inner pockets for essentials of all kinds - and a brimmed hat to disguise the baldness of my head, and the long and pointed nature of my ears. To this ensemble, I added a pair of dark glasses, partially to shield my eyesight from the glare of the sun but mainly to hide my eyes, which are large and green.

Underground, my travel consisted of walking a few blocks and a couple of changes on the transit tubes. After minimal formalities at the border - I just flashed my wallet with my PI buzzer at the customs official - I was on my way up to the surface.

Part 8 Part 10