The Birthday Goblin – by Shanna
The cupcakes sat unsuspecting on the desk, their bright colored frosting and wrappers contrasting with the dull white desktop. The cupcake on the right looked sweet to the touch. It had bright pink frosting swirled around the cupcake top, forming a fluffy sugary dome, a lone white chocolate chip balancing on the top. It may have been strawberry flavored or vanilla with a touch of red food dye. The cupcake on the left was, in contrast, dark. Its dark brown frosting lay like a soft cloud on top of the cupcake, topped by chocolate sprinkles. The cupcakes continued to sit there, on the desk, unaware that they were watched and that a plan was forming…
Allison ducked her head warily as she approached her cubicle. As soon as she had exited the elevator, her eyes were drawn to her balloon filled desk and she knew that her hopes of skating by this year without celebrating her birthday were gone. She narrowed her eyes at the two culprits standing next to her cubicle she assumed were responsible for the garish decorations.
“You guys,” she groaned. “Way to be subtle about my birthday,” She dropped her bag on her chair and stared at the decorations on her desk. In addition to the balloons tied to her chair and the edges of her desk there was a Happy Birthday banner stretched across the right side of her cubicle wall and confetti littered her desk. Two cupcakes sat in honor in the middle of the festivities.
“It’s just cupcakes and a few balloons,” said Emily.
“Right,” scoffed Allison. “Cupcakes, balloons, confetti, banners. What next? Do you have a clown hiding somewhere?” Allison made a show of looking around and under the desk.
Dave laughed. “No clowns,” he said. “But I would be on the lookout for the birthday goblin.”
“Birthday goblin?” Allison snickered. “What is a birthday goblin?”
“You’ve never heard of the birthday goblin?” Dave asked incredulously.
Allison looked to Emily who was staring at Dave skeptically. “No, I’ve never heard of the birthday goblin.”
Dave leaned against Allison’s cubicle. “The birthday goblin is this goblin that loves birthdays and loves playing pranks on birthdays. He especially loves birthdays that have cupcakes. Whenever there are cupcakes around, he appears and steals them.”
Emily laughed. “Sure,” she said.
Allison rolled her eyes. “Well, I’ll be sure to be on the lookout for goblins stealing my cupcakes.”
Dave shook his head. “Oh no. You wouldn’t be able to see the birthday goblin. He only appears to people who believe in him. People who don’t believe can only hear him.” He looked at Allison and Emily seriously.
“Okay, then I’ll be sure to be on the lookout for invisible goblins stealing my cupcakes.”
“Hey, I’m just warning you. You leave your cupcakes out and they might not be there when you get back.” Dave held up his hands and walked back to his desk.
Allison and Emily looked at each other. “Birthday goblin, right,” said Allison. “Where does he get this stuff from?”
Emily laughed and shook her head. “I have no clue. Anyway, Happy Birthday.”
Allison watched Emily walk to her desk, then reached over to turn on her computer. She picked up her bag and placed it on the floor. Sitting at her desk she shook her head again. “Birthday goblin,” she muttered. “What a joke.”
She glanced at her cupcakes and then in the direction Dave had walked. She leaned to look under her desk but saw nothing but wires. She quickly sat up straight and glanced around to see if anyone saw her. Allison shook her head at her foolishness and turned to her computer to check her email.
Seeing no new messages, she grabbed her coffee cup and got up to get some caffeine. Luckily it was still early in the morning so she wasn’t bombarded by people asking her about her decorated desk. She got back to her desk and sat down. As she sat, she noticed something was different. She frowned and looked around her desk. Her phone was in the right spot, and all her papers were stacked together. Her eyes swept to the left and right and then she realized that her Happy Birthday banner had been moved. When she got to work it was on the right side of her cubicle and now it was on the left. “How did that happen?” she wondered.
Allison’s hopes of escaping her birthday were dashed as the balloons around her desk attracted a lot of unwanted attention. All day co-workers stopped by her desk to wish her a happy birthday. Allison thought that their mentalities were nice, however the attention was unwanted and only caused distractions for Allison. She was thinking of this as another well wisher left her cubicle after exclaiming over her balloons and cupcakes.
“So how is your birthday going?” Emily asked as she walked up to Allison’s desk.
“Ugh, don’t ask,” sighed Allison. “The balloons mean that everyone comes over to see what they are for. It’s just been interruption after interruption.”
Emily laughed. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I just wanted to do something nice.”
“It was nice,” said Allison. “I just –“ A noise made her pause. “Do you hear that?” she asked.
“That whispering. It sounds like someone is whispering under the desk.” Allison looked around, but there was no one around talking.
“No, I don’t hear anything,” said Emily slowly. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Allison said.
“If you say so. Come on, we have that department meeting in 5 minutes.”
Allison grabbed her pen and notebook as she got up from her chair. She glanced around as she made her way to the conference room and couldn’t help the shiver that ran down her back as she swore she could feel someone staring at her.
Allison sat in the meeting staring at the wall across from her. The manager’s voice seemed to drone on, to the point that all his words seemed to blend into one another. She sighed and glanced at the clock at the wall, wondering how much longer the meeting would last. She tapped her pen on the tablet on the table in front of her and slowly cast her eyes around the room, observing the other people in the meeting. As her eyes passed over the door, she stifled a gasp as she thought she saw a dark blur run across the doorway.
Emily nudged Allison. “What are you looking at?” she whispered.
“Nothing, I mean I thought I saw, it was nothing,” Allison replied as she turned in her seat to face the front of the room.
Allison walked back to her desk. As she got closer she realized that something was wrong. Something was missing. She looked over her desk. All her papers were in place. Her coffee cup was where she left it. The pictures tacked onto the wall were in place. Even the post it note she had jotted down some notes on was still lying haphazardly posted on her monitor. What was different, she wondered.
She sat in her chair and realized that her balloons were gone. She looked around her desk but there were no balloons to be seen. Frustrated she called Emily. “Did you take my balloons?” she asked.
“No,” said Emily. “Your balloons are missing?”
“Yeah, I came back from the meeting and they were gone.”
“You don’t think…” Allison paused.
“What? I don’t think what?” Emily sighed loudly. “Don’t tell me you’re buying into this birthday goblin crap that Dave has been spewing.”
“Well,” said Allison, “my balloons are missing and I’ve been seeing weird things around the office today.”
“There is no such thing as a birthday goblin! I bet it’s just Dave trying to trick you. I bet if you go over to his desk right now, you’ll find your balloons sitting there.”
Allison got up and marched over to Dave’s desk, ready to tell him that his games were not funny. But Dave was not there and neither were her balloons. She scowled as she walked back to her desk and sat down. Allison reached over to pick up her phone to call Emily and froze. Her cupcakes were gone! Allison looked to the left and right of her desk. A muffled giggling came to her ears. Allison stiffened. It sounded like it was coming from underneath her desk. Her eyes narrowed. Slowly, she pushed back her chair and looked under the desk. No one was down there. She sat back up and scooted in her chair. Suddenly, a hand came rushing towards her from her right and her face was full of cupcake.