Jack Arcton leaned back in his chair, putting his feet up on the table in front of him. Business at the bait shop had been slow, but in only a few hours he’d get to go home. The shop was more of a shack, tightly cramped and smelling strongly of raw fish, which was causing Jack to feel sick.

He looked around the shop. He’d already sorted the lures and put the new fishing rods on display. They were strange, old-fashioned, wooden poles that the owner, Kipp, had made himself. He’d brought in big planks of wood and used the log lopper in the shop to shape them into rods. Jack also suspected that Kipp had carved some runes in the rods as well, given the price he was trying to charge for them. Though, with only a couple customers coming in every day, Jack wondered how long they would take to sell.

Jack’s thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of a bell, signalling that someone had opened the door. He hastily pulled his feet off the table and attempted to look professional as he greeted the customer.

“Hello,” he said, “Welcome to Kipp Keppler’s Bait….”

His voice trailed off. The door had swung open and closed, but there was nobody there. Jack was unsure what to think of this, but only a few moments later he heard a soft tapping at the front of the desk. He stood up, and leaned over to look down at the front of the desk.

It was the strangest thing Jack had ever seen. There was a figure about half his height standing in front of the desk, knocking on it to get his attention. It was wearing a huge coat that touched the floor and a winter hat that hid most of its face, despite the warm summer weather. Cleary, it had put a lot of effort into hiding its identity, but Jack noticed that its hands were green, and the long, crooked nose sticking out from under its hat. Jack knew immediately that it was a goblin. But the question was, what on earth was a goblin doing in the bait shop?

“Umm..Hello there,” he said, “Uhh.. welcome to Kipp Keppler’s Bait Emporium. How can I help you today?”

He decided that the best way to proceed was to just try and find out what this goblin wanted. He had never met one himself, but he’d heard about them. Some people in town were scared of them. But Jack had been assured it was just their inventions that were dangerous, not the goblins themselves.

“I need a net!” It had a deep, rough voice. Though Jack had never heard a goblin speak before, he felt that he could safely assume that this one was male.

“You’re shopping for a net, sir? Can I uh… get your name?”

“I am Darik Lugor. I need a big net. A big net to catch fish.”

This had to have been the strangest day at work that Jack had ever experienced, and it was only just getting started. Still, he tried to keep his composure. He knew that the goblins lived up in the mountains, on the outskirts of town. If Darik had come all the way to the bait shop, he probably wasn’t going to leave empty handed. Evidently, he had gone through the trouble of disguising himself under that giant coat.

“Ok then,” said Jack, “How big of a net were you thinking, what are you trying to catch?”

“I want the biggest net,” Dirak responded. He took off his hat so he could get a better look at Jack. “I want to catch every fish.”

Jack wondered if the goblin was trying to be difficult on purpose. But then he remembered something he had heard from those in town who had made contact with the goblins.

“Hang on a second, Dirak,” he said, “Don’t you goblins have farms? You grow mushrooms underground right?”

Dirak scoffed at this, “Yes, goblins have mushroom farms. But mushrooms taste bad, and make breath stink. I’m going to eat fish instead.”

Jack never liked mushrooms, so he felt a certain level of understanding for Dirak’s situation. Jack walked over to the corner of the shop where the nets were kept, and started looking through to find the largest one. As he was looking, another question popped into his head.

“Dirak, how are you even going to use this net? Do goblins build boats?”

Dirak shook his head.

“Goblins don’t. But I have a plan. Human ferry boats leave and come back during the day. I will fish from the ferry boat.”

Jack eventually found the largest net in the store. It was old and ripped in some places, but it would probably be good enough for Dirak’s purposes. He brought it back over to the center of the shop and set it down on the counter. Before he even read off the price, Dirak was already reaching his green hands into his coat pockets. He pulled out fistfuls of shiny rocks and laid them down on the counter.

Jack gave Dirak an incredulous look.

“Dirak.. What are you doing?”

“Shiny rocks!” Exclaimed Dirak, “You’ll like them. Found them myself in the tunnels.”

“Dirak,” said Jack patiently, “I can’t accept this.”

Dirak’s response was to reach into another pocket and pull out even more rocks.

“Fine, fine. Here, these are very shiny rocks, very rare, you’ll like these.”

There was now a small mountain of rocks on the countertop. Dirak was looking at Jack hopefully. He kept glancing at the net that he wanted so bad. Jack figured that the rocks were the goblin’s currency. He guessed that Dirak was probably making him what he considered to be a very generous offer. He looked at the net. It was fairly low quality, the ropes were fraying in many places. Would Kipp really notice if it was gone?

“Tell you what, Dirak,” he said after a while of thinking, “Why don’t you keep those rocks. I’ll let you have that net, but only if you let me keep some of the bait fish you catch. They’ll be the small ones, so you should still have plenty of food. What do you say?”

Dirak’s eyes lit up and he began to do a dance of joy on the spot.

“Very generous of you! I will accept that deal!”

Jack smiled, “Alright, just remember. Only come in here while I’m working, I’m not sure how the owner would react to seeing a goblin in his store.”

“I will,” said Dirak, “And I will give you the smallest fishes as part of our deal.”

Dirak began shoveling the shiny rocks back into his coat pocket. Jack handed him the net, and with a wave, the goblin hobbled out of the bait shop. It had certainly been a strange day for Jack, but he felt somewhat happy about it. He smiled as he watched through the window as Dirak attempted to sneak over to the Half Moon Bay Ferry Service. He wondered if the goblin’s plan would work. Jack couldn’t see why some people in the town didn’t like goblins. The exchange with Dirak had made his day.