A few weeks later I had reached the point where I thought this had just been a weird dream.
I was woken up in the middle of the night by a knocking sound on the French door of the first floor balcony. It took me a moment to realise what the noise was and to stumble out of bed, switch the bedside light on and make my way on the landing.
I noticed the small silhouette before I reached the door. The moment I opened it, the creature launched itself at me, grabbed my legs and held on tight, shaking.
“There, there. You’re safe.” I patted it on the back and attempted to unhook its arms. The creature let out a long wail and I felt a wave of panic hit me.
“I’m not trying to send you away; I just want to carry you in my arms so I can move! Like that” I bent over, took one arm and put it on my shoulder, then did the same one the other side. It held on around my neck and put its legs around my waist when I lifted it off the floor.
“There you go.” I rubbed its back. “Now, are you hungry, thirsty, hurt?”
The creature made several small noises so I took it step by step.
“Ok, I’ll go slower: are you hungry?” No reaction
“Are you thirsty?” lots of small noises “I take that as a yes then. Are you hurt?” No answer.
I turned on the light on the landing so I could see my way to the kitchen downstairs and got my first look of the creature. I immediately thought of the little people talked about in fairytales: it was small with thin arms and legs, tiny eyes and pointy teeth. It could have looked “dangerous” if it hadn’t been for the way it clutched at me and the waves of panic I could still feel coming from it.
“Right, let’s go get you some water shall we?” More little noises met that question and we made our way to the kitchen, where I took a glass out of a cupboard whilst trying not to bang or drop the creature.
“It would be easier if you agreed to sit here whilst I fill the glass and you drink.” I said, sitting the creature on the counter. It agreed to let go of me but kept its eyes on me at all time whilst I filled the glass.
I approached it to its mouth “There, I’ll help you” and got it to drink. Soon, its tiny hands were on mine around the glass and that’s when I noticed its sharp nails. How a creature who visibly had means to defend itself ended up so scared?
Once it had had a couple drinks, the creature seemed to calm down a bit. I picked it up again and went to my office – I work from home – thinking I should send an email to Declan. I settled at the chair whilst the PC switched on, getting the creature to sit on my lap. Looking at the screen turning on, I got an idea: taking a picture of the creature with the webcam might be even better than sending a description.
I sent the picture of a curious-looking creature nestled against an out-of-bed looking human along with a short email stating what had happened. By the time I had switched off the PC and taken both of us upstairs back to my bed my mobile was buzzing with a message:
“I’ve never seen a Hobgobelin being close to a human voluntarily before. Can you bring it to the sanctuary? I’ll send the plane to you tomorrow. D.”
Reply: “Yes, just tell me how long I’m staying so I can pack accordingly. Oh, and where to go to get the plane ride. M.”
“As long as you want. Perpignan, I email you the papers you’ll need. D.”
“Hey mum, can you come around today, I have something to ask you? […] Erm, no, I really need you to come if that’s ok? […] Thanks, great, see you soon. Bye!”
I had printed Declan’s email, with the number of the flight and the papers to show at the airport. I wasn’t to worry about the creature; the pilot from the plane would get us through customs and deal with everything.
Mum got to my place as I was packing and chatting to the creature who replied with chirps much happier sounding than the previous night.
“I’m upstairs, in my room!”
Mum stopped at the door “You’re packing? And what is this?”
The creature rushed to me and hid behind my legs.
“I am packing some clothes because I’m taking this scared little critter to London’s Sanctuary. It came to me last night and was terrified, according to Declan they never get close to humans so he’s asked me to accompany it there. He’s sending the plane for me this afternoon, can you take us there?”
Mum had made her way to the bed, sat and was now trying to convince the creature to come out from behind me. It was looking at her but not moving so far.
“Remember to breathe when you talk!” she said teasingly “Yes, I’ll take you there, how long are you going for?”
“I don’t know, he said as long as I want. I’m thinking I’ll pack about 5 days worth of clothes and see what happens once there. I haven’t been to Britain in years and even longer to London, I might take the opportunity to visit the town a bit.”
“Good idea. Let me know when you know so I can plan to come pick you up. How are you going to do for the creature at the airport?”
“Declan said the pilot will sort it out. I thought if I put a shawl around my shoulders and around her it should be fine.” That’s when I realised the creature was a girl, or so it “felt” like it. “I think she’s called Lea.” At that statement, excited chirps burst out.
“I think she agrees!” Said mum, still trying to convince her to come out of her hiding place, behind me.
“Lea, you can go with her, you know. That’s my mum, she’s nice.” To my mum “It’ll be easier to pack if she agrees to sit with you…”
I hadn’t finished to say it that Lea was tentatively coming out of hiding and making her way towards my mum, who held out a hand. Lea took hold of it and sniffed it like a cat. Mum and I held our breath until she climbed happily on her knees, chirping away.
“I guess you smell nice… or she can tell we’re related.”
As I finished packing, mum got an idea “I should go buy her a couple of outfits, it’ll be easier for you at the airport or if you go into town when in London.”
“That’s a good idea, but what size does she need? I’ll measure her.”
After the fun experience of trying to measure a hobgoblin behaving like a 3 years old, and doing about the same size, we had the fun “dress a wriggling 3 years old” experience when mum got back. Once Lea was dressed with pants and a t-shirt – I hoped we wouldn’t have any “wet pants” incidents – and our bag was done, I tried to carry her with a scarf. I know you’re meant to use a special scarf for this but I didn’t have one so I took the longest and widest I had. I made a sort of sash out of it so I could carry Lea on my hip. It worked well enough, considering she kept holding on to me too, but it did sort of hide her a bit away from prying eyes.
Once at the airport, we had to find the desk that deals with private flights. Unlike companies’ ones, it’s a discreet one so I had to ask. At the desk, the lady checked my passport and flight papers before mentioning she had been asked to call the pilot. I was fine at that and was looking forward to meeting him as it meant getting through customs unhindered.
A tall man, dark haired, came to meet us.
“Hi, Miss Robin?”
“Yes, Hi! I’m Marie and this is Lea, whom I am to take to the sanctuary.”
“OK, are those your bags?” He took them from my mum “Please follow me.”
I hugged my mum, she said goodbye to Lea too whom “I’m sure I’ll see again in a few days” and I followed the pilot, Lea still clinging tightly to me and hiding in the scarf.
He talked to the security guy at customs and they only looked at my passport, never asking about Lea.
Then we made our way to the plane, quite small. I took a deep breath before climbing the stairs.
“Yes, I’m not fan of flying, I prefer having my two feet on the ground, or sailing, that’s fine.”
“Don’t worry, the trip will be short, you’ll be back on the ground before you know it.”
The plane was quite roomy inside, since there weren’t that many seats. I picked the four seats facing each other on the right and I got Lea into the one next to the window.
“There, climb out of the scarf? That’s it. You take that seat, that way you can look outside when we fly, it’s really nice.”
She was standing on the seat, looking everywhere and chirping happily.
The pilot had left my computer bag on the seat in front of me and the small suitcase in the locker above. I took a soft toy out of the bag and placed it under my seat, before finally sitting down and trying to convince Lea to do the same.
We had just snapped our safety belts on when the engine came on and the pilot announced the beginning of the procedure before take off.
We held hand during take off and then we were up. She was fascinated by the view from below, the clouds, everything. Going to the toilet and back turned into a complete adventure and when the pilot came to invite us in the cockpit, it was like watching a child open their Christmas present. Lea also discovered fruit juice and liked it.
The flight did go very fast and suddenly, we were landing in London.