There’s A Goblin On My Sofa by Steven Young

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Narrated by Bob Eccles

There's A Goblin On MY Sofa by Steven Young
Photograph by Eleanor Bennett

I didn’t even notice the goblin when I first got home. I guess I was in too much of a hurry, too immersed in the day-to-day hassles of life.

I’d met Laurie for lunch, and she’d suggested she come to my flat after work. “Look nice for me,” she’d said over her shoulder as she squeezed past the people thronging the café.

But after being held up at work and spending the tube journey home with my face buried in a stranger’s armpit, I was sweaty, tired and running late. By the time I walked through the door to my flat, I did not look nice.

I hurriedly washed, then preened in front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom, trying to make myself look presentable. Then I wandered into the kitchen area next to the living room and grabbed a beer from the fridge.

“Hello,” said a cheerful-sounding voice from behind me.

I jumped and nearly dropped the bottle.

I turned around.

A creature was sitting on my sofa.

It was the size of a cat, with a round body covered in long black and dark green fur, and a face reminiscent of that of a gorilla. It smelled faintly of mildew.

It grinned widely, displaying two rows of long sharp teeth.

I stared at the strange creature. It stared back with red eyes set above a snub nose.

I thought back over my day. Mr Parks had been on my case about the looming deadline for the Layton account. The day had been busy and stressful, but I didn’t think it had been that bad.

I lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. It didn’t help.

“Hello,” I said finally. “Uh, what are you? Are you a figment of my imagination?”

“I’m a goblin,” it said. “And I am entirely real.”

Well, of course.

“How did you get here?”

“I’m a pan-dimensional being from another plane of existence.” It grinned its wide toothy grin.

I hadn’t even started the beer. I took a good long gulp.

“Why are you here?”

“Aren’t we just full of questions today?”

“I still don’t think you’re real. I’m going to get a second opinion.”

I knocked on the door of the lady who lived opposite.

“Mr Gleason. How are you?” she said.

“I’m fine. I’m sorry to disturb you, but I think I can smell gas in my living room. Could you come and check if I’m right?”

It was a weak lie, but I thought it was better than inviting her to come and look at my goblin. I was pretty convinced I was imagining the whole thing anyway.

“Okay,” she said and followed me to my place.

“Hello,” said the goblin.

My neighbour screamed and fled.

“I’m calling the police!” she shouted as she went, slamming the door to her own flat. I heard the lock clicking into place and the bolt sliding across.

“She could see me, no problem,” said the goblin.

“Yeah, I got that. This is just great. My girlfriend is coming around after she finishes work.”

I checked the time and groaned.

“She’ll be here any minute.”

I finished my beer. There was a buzz from the intercom.

“Hi, John, it’s Laurie. Can you let me in?”

I pressed a button. “It’s open.”

A minute later, there was a knock on the door.

“That’ll be her. Can you try and not look so monster-like?”

For the first time since I’d found the goblin on my sofa, the grin disappeared from its face.

“That was uncalled for. You should take a look in the mirror sometime.” It pouted. “A real good look.”

I opened the door. Laurie stood in the corridor, blond hair peeking out from under a pink beanie. She greeted me with a hug and a kiss. I gave her a squeeze in return.

“Hiya, sweetie. I’ve been looking forward to tonight all day,” she said.

“Yeah, me too. Look, before you come in, I need you to promise not to freak out or anything.”

A concerned look crossed her face. “What’s wrong?” She stepped past me into the living room.

“Hello,” said the goblin. It was back to grinning.

Laurie shrieked and grabbed a glass. It was my favourite engraved one, which I had kept from a beer festival at university.

“No, don’t!” I shouted.

Too late. She threw it at the goblin, which ducked aside just in time. The glass shattered against the wall by the sofa. Laurie ran out, crying.

“Don’t go!” I cried after her. I tried to grab her but she pushed me away.

“I’m not staying here with that thing. Let me go!”

I let her go, and she disappeared down the corridor.

I turned to the goblin, furious.

“I want you out!” I shouted. “Now I have to make up with Laurie, and that’s sure not going to happen with you hanging around.”

The goblin jumped off the sofa, leaving behind a slight green discolouration.

“All right, if that’s what you want. But you’ll need me around soon enough.”

“I doubt that very much.” I gestured to the door.

It hopped out of the flat on four stumpy legs. Once in the corridor it looked back at me. It was still grinning, but despite that, I thought I detected a note of sadness in its voice.

“You’ll need me around soon enough,” it repeated.

I closed the door.


The police arrived about an hour later. I had just finished trying to phone Laurie, who wasn’t picking up, when I heard a knock on the door. I opened it to find two police officers, a man and a woman, standing in the corridor. White lettering on their uniforms identified him as Police Constable Robinson, her as Police Constable Wilkes.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we have received a complaint about a disturbance at this address,” said PC Robinson. Over his shoulder, I could see my neighbour looking at me from her open doorway. She glared then shut the door.

“Could we come in please? We just need to have a look around and ask a couple of questions,” said PC Wilkes.

“Of course.” I stepped aside as they entered my flat. “I don’t really know anything about any disturbance, though. I had an argument with my girlfriend. Maybe that’s what you mean.”

“Where is your girlfriend now?” asked PC Wilkes. PC Robinson took out a notepad and started looking around, taking notes.

“She left.”

“I see. Tell me, do you have a pet of any kind?”

“No, nothing at all.”

“It’s just that the complaint mentioned something about a strange creature on the premises.”

“No, I’m sorry, I have no idea what that could mean.”

“Apparently it talks.”

“Like a parrot?”

“Not according to the description I have.” She smiled slightly. “Well, I think we’re done here. I’m sorry to have disturbed you, but we must be seen to take all complaints seriously, you understand?”

“Yes of course. I’ll be sure to let you know if I find any strange talking creatures in my flat.” I smiled back at her.

They turned to leave. As I held the door open, PC Robinson, who had spent most of the time quietly jotting into his notepad, pointed at the stain on the sofa.

“I would clean that up if I were you.”

I nodded. They left.

I tried to phone Laurie as soon as they were gone. No answer. I opened a beer and drank it. Throughout the evening, I tried and failed to talk to her several more times, and drank several more beers. Finally, I went to bed in an alcoholic gloom.  As I was drifting off to sleep, my phone beeped as it received a text. It was from Laurie.

“Sorry I ran away like that. See you tomorrow for lunch?”


It had been a particularly hectic morning. Half the office hadn’t turned up and the rest of us picked up the slack. To Mr Parks’ fury, I slipped away at lunchtime to meet Laurie at our usual sandwich shop. It was quieter than usual and a pretty, dark-haired waitress served us straight away.

We sat there for a few minutes eating tuna and mayo ciabattas, making small talk, until I could no longer avoid the issue.

“Look, about yesterday,” I said.

“I’m sorry about that,” said Laurie. “Seeing that strange monster frightened me.”

“It called itself a goblin. It said it’s a pan-dimensional being from another plane of existence. But I made it leave. I don’t think I’ll be seeing it again.”

She shuddered. “I didn’t like it.”

“It didn’t seem like it meant any harm. You know I had a visit from the police after you left? They said they’d had reports of a disturbance, and they asked about a strange talking creature on the premises.”

“Well, I didn’t say anything about it. Did anyone else see it?”

I nodded. “The lady who lives opposite. I guess she reported it.”

Laurie looked up at the clock on the wall.

“Is that the time already? I have to go.” She grabbed her purse and stood. She leant down and kissed me. “I’ll see you tonight.”


She smiled and left. A minute later, I settled the bill and returned to work.


I left work late, as usual, and caught a surprisingly empty tube home. Once home, I wearily opened the door and stepped inside.

“Hello,” said the goblin. It was sitting on the sofa, grinning its wide toothy grin.

“You again! I asked you to leave yesterday. How do you keep getting in?”

“I’m a pan-dimensional being from—”

“Another plane of existence. Yes, yes, you’ve already said that,” I snapped. “So that means you can just pop into being inside my flat whenever you feel like?”

“It’s more that I am always here. Just that you aren’t always aware of me.”

“But why?”

There was a knock on the door.

“Damn,” said the goblin.

I opened the door. Laurie was standing there. She threw her arms around me.

“The door to the building was already open so I came right up,” she said.

She looked across the room and saw the goblin sitting on the sofa. She screamed and grabbed a glass. It was my favourite engraved one, which I had kept from a beer festival at university.

“No!” I shouted as she threw it at the goblin.

As the glass shattered against the wall, she turned to me. “You told me it had gone. You lied to me!”

She shoved me, hard, and ran out into the corridor, crying.

“Laurie!” I shouted after her, but to no avail. I listened as the sound of her footsteps on the stairs gradually receded.

I rounded on the goblin.

“You’ve scared my girlfriend away twice now. I don’t get why you keep doing this. Why won’t you just leave?”

“I can’t stay if you don’t want me to, but I am here to help you.”

“You’re not doing a very good job. I’ll be lucky if I ever see her again. Please, just go.”

“Okay,” the goblin sighed. It jumped off the sofa and hopped to the doorway. “You should take a look in the mirror, though. Take a real good look at yourself.”

“I don’t have a mirror,” I said irritably.

“Don’t you?”

I closed the door. I had a quick look around the flat. No mirrors.

There was a knock on the door.

“What now?” I said to myself.

I opened the door. PC Robinson and PC Wilkes were standing there.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we have received a complaint about a disturbance at this address,” said PC Robinson.

“Weren’t you here yesterday?”

“I don’t think so, sir,” said PC Wilkes. Her brow furrowed in confusion. “Could we come in and ask a few questions?”

“Was it the lady opposite who made the complaint?”

“The lady opposite?” asked PC Robinson. I looked past him, across the corridor. Where there had been a door, there was now a blank wall. I pushed past the two police officers, went to the wall, and ran my hands over it.

“Where did the door go?” I said. I turned to face the police officers. “There was a door here. There’s always been one! There was a lady living here, opposite me. What happened to her?”

“I don’t know anything about that, sir. Could you please step back inside your flat and help us with our inquiries?” said PC Robinson.

Numbly, I returned to my flat, the police officers following.

“Tell me, do you have a pet of any kind?” said PC Wilkes.

“You asked me that yesterday. No, I don’t.”

“It’s just that the complaint mentioned something about a strange creature on the premises.”

I laughed, slightly hysterically.

“Yes, there was one. It was here just a minute ago. I’m surprised you didn’t see it on your way in.”

“I see.” PC Robinson started jotting things down in a notepad.

“It talks, too,” I continued. “I said I would tell you if I saw any strange talking creatures last time we met.”

Neither of them appeared to have heard my last comment.

“Do you recall what it said?” asked PC Wilkes.

“It kept telling me to look in the mirror.”

“That might be sound advice. We all need to take a good look at ourselves sometimes, sir.”

I frowned at the strange turn in the conversation. “Well, I don’t have a mirror anyway.”

“Are you sure about that? That’s quite unusual. Most people have a mirror somewhere around.”

“Yes, I’m sure,” I snapped.

“Did anything else happen?”

“Well, it scared my girlfriend away. Twice. She threw a glass at it and ran away. The pieces are over there, on the floor by the sofa.” I pointed.

PC Wilkes walked over to the sofa and looked down.

“I don’t see any broken glass here,” she said.

I looked again. The floor was bare.

“I . . . I don’t understand. It just happened. I haven’t had a chance to clean up yet.”

“Is this the glass you meant?” PC Robinson said from behind me. I turned. He was in the kitchen area, holding a glass. It was my favourite engraved one, which I had kept from a beer festival at university.

“Yes, that’s the one. I’m sure my girlfriend broke it.”

“Memory is a funny thing. It can play all kinds of tricks on us. That’s worth considering, sir,” he said. “I think we are done here now. Thank you for your time.”

“Uh, right.” They left and I closed the door behind them.


I looked in some confusion at the tuna and mayo ciabatta in my hands. It was half-eaten and I could taste tuna in my mouth. I didn’t recall ordering it.

“John, are you all right?”

I jumped slightly at Laurie’s voice. She sat across the table from me, a look of concern on her face.

“Sorry, I just don’t remember coming here.” I looked around.

We were in our usual sandwich shop. Aside from Laurie and me, it was completely empty. I couldn’t even see any staff.

“Did we arrange this?” I asked.

“Yes, of course we did! I sent you a text last night.”

“Oh.” My mind was in a fog. “I remember last night. You ran away when the goblin turned up again.”

“That nasty thing.” Her upper lip curled in disgust. “Did it say anything to you? Don’t believe anything it tells you, all right?”

“It just kept on telling me to look at myself in a mirror.”

She frowned. “What’s a mirror?”

“It’s . . .” I faltered. “I don’t know. It seemed quite insistent, though.”

“Well, that just goes to show how you need to ignore it. Giving you nonsensical advice like that.” She rolled her eyes. “Anyway, you were telling me about your day.”

“Was I?”

“Yes. How insane everything is at work because of the Layton account, and Mr Parks is giving you grief all the time.”

I had dim memories of an office, spreadsheets on a computer screen, Mr Parks barking instructions, but it was all a blur.

“I suppose I was?” It came out more question than statement.

Laurie reached across the table and rubbed my arm soothingly.

“Aw, poor baby. It’s probably all that stress that has been making you so absentminded recently. You really ought to see a doctor.” She glanced at the time. “I’m sorry, I have to go now, but I’ll see you tonight.”

I nodded as she gave me a kiss on the cheek and left. A moment later, I left, too.



“Hello,” said the goblin as soon as I stepped through the door. It was sitting in its accustomed place on the sofa, grinning its wide toothy grin.

“I’ve started to expect you now. How long are you going to keep doing this?” I said.

“Not for much longer. Just until you take a good look in the mirror.”

“I don’t know what you mean by that.”

“It will help you realise what is real, and what is not.”

“I can’t remember much of anything at the moment,” I admitted.

“Just you being here and Laurie and . . .” I paused for a moment.

“I guess Laurie will arrive soon.”

As if on cue, there was a knock on the door. I opened it to Laurie.

“John! Sweetie!” She smiled and kissed me. Dully, I kissed her back and let her in.

“You know, the goblin is here again,” I told her.

“Hello,” said the goblin.

Laurie’s eyes widened in horror. Before she even reached for the glass, my favourite engraved one, which I had kept from a beer festival at university, I could see it arcing through the air toward the goblin, the goblin ducking aside just in time, the glass shattering into a thousand shards against the wall. Through the cloud obscuring my mind, this tableau stood out with uneasy familiarity.

“Don’t believe anything that thing says to you, John!” Laurie shouted at me. She moved toward the door. PC Robinson and PC Wilkes stood in the doorway, blocking her exit.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we have received a complaint about a disturbance at this address,” said PC Robinson.

“You’re early,” I said, a touch sardonically. “Everyone else is still here.”

“Officers, there’s a monster on the sofa,” said Laurie. She seemed to have composed herself.

“I’m just here to help him realise what is real, and what is not,” said the goblin.

“That seems an admirable goal to me,” said PC Wilkes.

Laurie turned to me. “Sweetie, you know what’s real, don’t you? Me. Your friends and family. Your job.”

I shook my head. “No, I’m sorry, I just don’t know anymore. This is getting to be too much.” I lit a cigarette and opened a beer. I poured the beer into a glass. It was my favourite engraved one, which I had kept from a beer festival at university. I took a good long gulp.

“How many of those glasses do you have?” said the goblin.

“Just the one,” I said.

“Laurie smashed it a minute ago. How is it possible that you are now drinking from it?” said the goblin.

“That’s obvious.” Laurie interjected. “He’s got several of those glasses. He’s just being silly.” She took me by the arm. “Come on, send the others away, and we can have a nice evening together, and try and forget all this nonsense.”

“How well do you remember all those things Laurie mentioned?” said the goblin. “Your family? Your job? Look outside. You’ll see.”

“You don’t need to do that,” said Laurie, a trace of desperation in her voice.

“The window is just there, sir. What harm can it do?” said PC Wilkes.

I stubbed out my cigarette and moved towards the window. Laurie tightened her grip on my arm, trying to hold me back. I shook her off.

“Don’t do this, John,” she said.

I ignored her, walked across the room to the window and looked out. I gasped and took a step back. Instead of the bustling street I expected, everything was a dull grey colour. No buildings, no cars, no people. Just . . . grey. My eyes began to water. I tore my gaze away and turned to look back into my flat.

“What the hell is going on?”

“This reality, or at least your association with it, is collapsing,” said the goblin.

“Don’t believe it, John. This is just a strange dream. You’ll wake up soon. I’ll do you breakfast in bed, two sausages, bacon and poached eggs, just how you like it. That’ll be nice, won’t it? You trust me, don’t you, John?” Laurie pleaded.

“I wouldn’t believe her, sir,” said PC Wilkes.

“Why not?” I demanded. “She’s my girlfriend.”

“She isn’t your girlfriend. She’s that part of your subconscious that won’t let go of this reality. You have to ignore her, sir.”

“Lies!” shouted Laurie.

I ignored her. “And you?” I asked PC Wilkes.

“We,” she indicated herself and PC Robinson, “are the opposite, that part of you that knows the truth, that knows you must confront it. You aren’t supposed to be here, not in the long term. You’ve become too immersed in this reality. If you don’t pull out soon, you will fade away, consumed by the nothing between realities.”

I turned to the goblin, which had observed this exchange from its place on the sofa.

“What about you? What are you?”

“Take a look in the mirror. That will help you understand,” it said, and grinned its wide toothy grin.

“You keep telling me to do that. I don’t know what a mirror is.”

“You have one in your bedroom.”

Laurie wrapped her arms around me. “You don’t have to do this,” she said. “I can tell you what you look like. You’re gorgeous. You don’t need any stupid mirror to show you that.”

I disentangled myself from her arms. “I’m sorry, Laurie. I have to check this out.”

I walked into my bedroom. Laurie, the goblin and PCs Wilkes and Robinson followed, Laurie all the while pleading for me not to go in.

“There,” said PC Robinson, pointing to a blank area of wall by the wardrobe.

“I can’t see anything,” I said.

“Concentrate,” said PC Wilkes.

I stared hard at the wall. My head swam. Tears formed in my eyes.

“Keep looking.” Though she was standing beside me, PC Wilkes’ voice seemed distant, hazy.

The wall shimmered and wavered as if I were viewing it through several feet of water. Slowly, an image resolved itself, foggy and indistinct, of a man looking back at me.

My image.

“Concentrate,” a voice urged. I could no longer tell to whom it belonged.

My head was pounding. Part of me wanted to look away, but I felt myself being drawn in. The image seemed to melt, resolved into something new. It became clearer.

I knew who I was.

“No!” I could hear Laurie behind me shouting. I looked back. The room was coalescing into a uniform grey. The goblin was gone. Laurie faded, her face a mask of horror. PCs Wilkes and Robinson faded, smiling. As they disappeared, a disembodied voice floated in the air.

“Well done, sir.”

I looked into the mirror. The goblin looked back.

I am a pan-dimensional being from another plane of existence.

My reflection grinned a wide toothy grin.



AUTHOR BIO: Steven Young is originally from rural Norfolk in the UK but currently lives in South London. He is a marine biologist working in the fishing industry and spends much of his time at sea, either in the Antarctic or somewhere very sunny. His fiction has also appeared in Electric Spec.

ILLUSTRATOR BIO: Eleanor Leonne Bennett is an internationally award winning artist. Her photography has  been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. See more of her photography at