“Why is there a man crouched under your cloak?”
“What man?” The Goblin King thrust his pelvis out even further, his leather boots creaking with the strain.
“Jareth,” Sarah pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration, “the man who is playing with glass balls.”
“There’s a man playing with my glass balls?” The man in question stood and reached under Jareth’s armpits to glide a pyramid of glittering orbs around his palm, “They are pure crystal, I will have you know.”
“What… wait, you know what, I don’t ca… NO! No, no, no, no! You cannot do that here. Or anywhere else for that matter!” Sarah strode over to the Skeksi/Podling pile up that had jammed in the meeting room door. “I have told you time and time and time again, you cannot fit your oversized thrones in here, and you certainly cannot have the Podlings carry you in on them,” she snarled, “it’s insanely illegal!” She hooked a hand around a huge Skeksi collar and hauled one out. It was a brave move, and one she regretted entirely when her fingers sunk into a rotted rodent snack hidden inside, but it had the desired effect of uncorking the doorway. The rest of the Skeksis surged in, carrying with them the fetid stench of mouldy vegetables and week-old corpses.
Sarah backed off quickly to her position at the head of the table, disguising her nausea with a well-placed hanky, and kicked Jareth out of her seat. There was a spasm at his forehead which she took to mean a raised eyebrow at her insolence, but it was rather spoiled by the thick make-up that already elevated his brows to impossibly high angles. She could not care less. Since returning from the Goblin Castle and its infernal Labyrinth as a teenager, she’d been determined to shrug off her naïve petulance, and part of this grand objective was to do something sensible. The PR firm she had joined was this sensible thing: a guaranteed salary, no one cared if she got a bit wrinkly, and best of all, there were no masks. Apart from the occasional coffee break spent with Hoggle and the rest, life was perfectly normal. Until the Goblin King pranced out of the cleaning cupboard.
Striking a majestic pose in a flurry of glitter and feathers, he had commanded Sarah to turn His Kingdom and that of His Compatriots into Stellar Holiday Destinations. It came as a shock to him when he was shoved back into the cupboard.
The second time he appeared, he bought his so called “compatriots”, and Sarah would never forgive him for it. A screeching, belligerent gaggle of hell-birds descended upon her office, followed by a regiment of slaves hauling along platter after platter of foul and stinking food stuffs, refusing to leave until she acquiesced to their demands. It was mortifying. The poor receptionist still had a nervous tic; her boss journeyed down from the thirty-third floor and promptly threw up; and the cleaners – well let us just say Sarah would have to do her own cleaning from there on in. It only took them two hours to wear her down, but between the crotch twitching and the general gruesomeness of the Skeksi court, Sarah found herself drawing up a contract for them.
If Sarah was honest, it could have turned out much worse. Not by much, but they did pay her generously. Jareth was an egotistical and extravagant moron so it was easy to create a media campaign that showed the sun shining out of his pert arse. And the Skeksis’ land was simply gorgeous, full of the most sensational fauna and flora she had ever seen, so not a lot of work was needed there. But there were some… issues.
“General… GENERAL! Don’t you start screaming at me.” Sarah tried to turn to face the current Skeksi Emperor, but his putrid breath still hung on the air so she ended up taking a strange twisted stance that ostensibly put her body facing him, but kept her nose as much as possible out of the stench zone. “Have you even bothered to read the copy of the Human Rights Convention that I emailed you?”
He stared at her disagreeably.
“Any of the hard copies I gave you?”
He adjusted the fall of lace down his bloated front.
“The man I sent to follow you whilst reading the Convention aloud?”
Here, the General gave a smug shrug and glanced over his shoulder at his court. His less emaciated than normal court.
“You- you- For Christ’s sake! You can’t keep kidnapping people for their life essence! I cannot set your country up as a top tourism destination until you start treating people as people. Not slaves. Not resources. I want my assistant back this instant or I’m ripping up your contract. And you,” she spun towards the snickering royal behind her, “you have no room to talk. I’ve seen the latest reports from my people in the Labyrinth.”
“They managed to escape from the Oubliette? I was going to make them all Knights of the Bog of the Eternal Stench. Such a pity.” He leant over to the General, “So how did you do it?”
“We tricked the spithead into dropping himself into a pit,” the overgrown bird cackled as another tugged out a roll of parchment to write notes, “are you as clever as we?”
“Well, now you see the Labyrinth is my own personal creation. My magnum opus if you will…” Jareth began, his bulge shivering with barely contained delight. A goblin sprung up out the bin with its own notebook in hand.
Sarah watched with dismay as the meeting spiralled out of her control, as the two rulers began exchanging pro-tips for kidnapping and other illegal activities. Her to-do list lay abandoned on the table. There was no way she was going to address the problem of the Fireys bursting into spontaneous song and decapitation in the middle of a tour group. Nor was she going to be able to discuss the cease-and-desist letters from the Gelfling community against the Skeksis. She groaned, feeling the words she promised herself never to say again course up her throat,
“It’s not fair!”
 Though not to anyone else.
 If curiously. She still wasn’t sure what to do the Landstrider coach-and-pair.