Liz Pierce writes "suburban fantasy" – stories that blur the boundaries between the real world and the fantastical, but are lighter and less edgy than their urban cousins. In her Suburbia series, goblins, trolls, dwarves, elves, and even zombies are just trying to figure out how to cope with their human neighbors and everyday life in the Real World – often with unexpected results. You can find more of her work at

Just Another Day in Suburbia by Liz Pierce

Forest Glen, Pennsylvania. A peaceful suburban neighborhood where nothing unusual ever happened – until the day Masaman the Troll moved out from under his bridge and bought the old fixer-upper on Oak Tree Lane.

Now goblins swarm the neighbor's front porch and kitchen windowsill in search of freshly baked pies and cookies; a cat-food eating zombie canvasses the residents, looking for landscaping and interior decorating opportunities; and a dwarf takes time out from Poker Night to investigate the rash of burglaries that suddenly plague the neighborhood.

And the Neighborhood Watch has no idea who it should be watching.



  • "…An original and very funny take on what happens when "mythological" creatures, such as trolls and goblins leak into our world. And then there's the zombie. . . Charming, witty, and loads of fun.…"

    – Sue Hidley (Amazon review)
  • "…The characters are not off-the-shelf trolls and dwarfs and goblins – and Muzak is about as charming a zombie as you'll ever meet. …"

    – Anonymous (Goodreads review)
  • "…A crazy rollercoaster ride of a story, with many moments that made me laugh out loud.…"

    – Julia (Goodreads review)



Chapter 1: A Respectable Bridge

Masaman was beginning to regret saving Fred Fernley's life.

Still, as a city-dwelling troll, and long-time resident of Philadelphia's 34th Street Under-Bridge (at the base of the South Pier footing, just across the river from the University of Pennsylvania's baseball diamond), saving the guy's life had been less a humanitarian gesture, and more a matter of practicality.

As soon as he saw the would-be jumper clumsily pulling himself onto the railing on that sweltering afternoon in late June, Masaman knew that it just wouldn't do to have a dead body wash up under his bridge.

Even after ten years of being out in the open, public sentiment was still a little "iffy" when it came to trolls.

So he'd pulled himself up to his full ten-and-a-half foot height, took a deep breath, and let out a huge bellow, blasting the poor jumper off the railing and back into the pedestrian walkway.

He then scrambled up the side of the pier, King-Kong-style, bringing his huge head just even with the railing.

The jumper had gotten his wind back, and was getting to his feet. When he picked up his briefcase and reached for the railing a second time, Masaman growled.

That got the guy's attention. He looked over, and his eyes grew wide when he saw the troll's greenish-brown face only a few feet away, lips curled back in a tooth-bearing snarl. For added effect, Masaman raised his hackles, the deep green leathery spikes rising slowly like a bird's crest to tower a foot and a half above his massive head.

He briefly considered allowing a bit of drool to drip down around his lower tusks, but discarded the idea as overkill.

"No jumping allowed here," Masaman said, his voice low and rumbling, not unlike the sound of a passing semi. "This is a respectable bridge. We don't tolerate that kind of nonsense." He gestured with a nod of his head, leathery hackles swaying with the movement. "You really wanna jump, go downriver. There's plenty of bridges in the industrial sector where you can jump without bothering anyone."

The jumper just stood there, gawking, his mouth opening and closing like a gasping fish for a moment before any sound finally came out of it.

"I… I'm sorry," he stammered. "I didn't know… didn't know anyone… anyone lived here."

"Yeah, well look around before you pick your next jump spot," Masaman said. "No telling whose living room you're about to splatter yourself all over." He reached up with his free hand and scratched behind an ear. "Why do you want to jump, anyway? It can't be that bad."

"I've lost everything," said the jumper.

Masaman had heard that story before – accompanied by the same dejected tone of voice and weary slump to the shoulders.

"I don't have anything," said Masaman, his voice softening to a more conversational tone. He relaxed his hackles, letting the deep green spikey crest lie hair-like along the back of his head in an effort to appear less menacing. The jumper was obviously worked-up enough as it was. "But you don't see me jumping. Or any of my neighbors, either. Not a penny to their names, most of them."

He stopped talking as a stray breeze caught his attention. He sniffed the air, sifting through the scents of diesel fumes drifting off the roadway and brackish water swirling around the base of the bridge, to discover the faint scorch of an overcooked curry wafting up from below.

"Gotta go," Masaman said abruptly. "My supper's starting to burn. Want my advice? Re-think the jumping thing. Just my opinion, but that's probably not your only option." With that, he nodded to the jumper and climbed down the pier.

He had a bubbling pot of billy goat curry that needed rescuing.

That was three days ago.

The jumper – whose name turned out to be Fred Fernley – had taken Masaman's advice and changed his mind about jumping.

But instead of going back to wherever he'd come from, Fred Fernley had scavenged a beat-up old washing-machine box and tattered blanket, and moved into the homeless colony at the foot of Masaman's bridge.

As if it wasn't already crowded enough under there.

There had only been a handful of wretched folk living under the 34th Street Bridge when Masaman stepped out of the shadows of the Faerie Realm, ten years before, and claimed his space in the Real World.

Some of the residents fled in terror, preferring to take their chances elsewhere rather than share space with a troll. But a few had remained. Eventually, as they grew more accustomed to him, they realized that Masaman's presence under the bridge was actually to their benefit – the troll was a good neighbor, he kept the rodent population down and shared his garden space, but otherwise mostly kept to himself. Most importantly, he absolutely refused to put up with any sort of crime or violence under his bridge.

Steal from another resident, Masaman would shake you down to recover the stolen goods, then, quite literally, kick you across the river. Harm another resident, and you'd quickly find a ten and a half-foot troll looming menacingly over you, hackles raised, fists clenched, fury in his eyes.

Word got around Philadelphia's homeless population. The 34th Street Under-Bridge wasn't the Ritz, but it was safe.

Over time, the ramshackle collection of makeshift cardboard-and-canvas dwellings had become a neighborhood of sorts. A neighborhood with a shared vegetable garden and even a co-op daycare tucked safely under the sheltering overhang of the bridge, near the troll's personal spot. A neighborhood with privies provided by a charitable organization, a bus stop with a covered bench, and a shared mailbox.

A neighborhood where people swept their dirt paths with pride, threw out garbage that couldn't be recycled into anything useful or burned as fuel, and made the best of living in cardboard shanties instead of more conventional homes. A neighborhood that, at nearly thirty families, was outgrowing the limited wedge of space between the river and the road.

Masaman was constantly having to chase newcomers out of his space – the old-timers knew better than to encroach on the troll's territory – but Fred Fernley didn't seem to get it. He'd parked his washing-machine box on top of the large, flat rock that was Masaman's Sitting Stone, his favorite spot for unwinding after a long day being cooped up in his taxi, reading a comic book, listening to the baseball games being played across the river, enjoying his dinner, or play poker with his buddies when it was his turn to host their weekly poker night.

For all intents and purposes, Fernley had parked his box in the middle of Masaman's living room.

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