The start of the story is here.
The invitation from the Hob Mafia arrived the next morning. A text that said, “The Runt will see you here at 10am” accompanied by set of co-ordinates.
I intended to go alone but when I got off the bus at the nearest stop Chris and Mycroft were waiting for me. Chris had requisitioned a new yPhone so that Mycroft could take over his old one completely. Mycroft was clipped to the strap of Chris’s rucksack and looking like Charles Grey.
“What are you two doing here?”
“We’re coming along . Mycroft spotted your text. ” Said Chris.
“What the hell for.” I said.
“We’re investigating.” Said Mycroft.
“And he needs more field testing.” Said Chris.
“And we want to find out what the stick does.” Said Mycroft.
“Oh good grief.” I said.
Here turned out to be a caravan site on the outskirts of town. At first site it might pass for a Traveler site but it now that I knew what I was looking for I could see the signs. Real Travelers are incredibly house proud and their caravans are invariably spotless but these were battered and dented and old.
The people looked human enough as long as you didn’t look too close but once you did you saw the signs of Hob genetic heritage everywhere. Most of them were short but there were a couple who were unusually tall. There seemed to be no-one of average hight. A look at the faces showed oddly shaped teeth, over sized ears, miss-matched eyes, weird skin tones, strangely proportioned limbs and really bad facial hair. If you’re expecting me say ‘and the men were worse’ then you’re out of luck because I only saw the men.
“I think I hear banjos.” Said Chris. I saw several of the nearer men stiffen.
“Shut up. I think they can hear you.” I said.
“Well their ears are certainly big enough.” He said.
“If you don’t shut the fuck up right the fuck now I am going to throw you into traffic.” I said.
Chris hadn’t noticed but there was a crowd gathering. Misshapen men were climbing out of caravans and beaten up cars and walking out of the trees on the edge of the camp and they were all staring at us.
The guide to field work says, “Always take control of the situation.” So I walked straight up to the biggest guy I could see. He was over six foot tall with broad, bony shoulders and a head that seemed slightly too small for him.
“I’m here to see the Runt. He’s expecting me.” I said.
“Yeah, we know.” His voice was soft and high pitched, almost like it hadn’t broken yet. “You going to take your monkey in with you or do you want me to watch him?” He said, nodding towards Chris.
“Hey.” Said Chris.
“You brought that on yourself.” I said to Chris then, “No he’s coming with me. He tends to get into trouble on his own.”
“Follow me.” Said the tall man.
He led the way to the largest and most tasteless caravan. It was close to the centre of the group at the focus of a semi circle of large, well kept, heavily decorated caravans.
The Caravan was gold and white with purple trim and a wooden set of steps painted bright red with yellow trim. As we approached it a line of tough looking hob men formed between us and the steps. Each one was a mass of muscles, scars and eldrich tattoos.
“I’m here to see the Runt.” I said.
“No one sees the Runt.” Said one of the smaller men.
“Well he seems to disagree with you. But if you want to turn away his invited guests that’s your funeral.” I said.
“Only if he invited you here to talk to you.” Said the man.
“Cutty.” Said Chris. His voice sounded odd so I looked round. The tall man had Chris’ arm twisted up his back and was holding a curved knife to his throat.
“Deary, deary me.” I said.