Circle of Eights, Stories

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  • #78


      Back from the depths of his sleep, the dragon Naasir exhaled in a puff of smoke. He’d just woven a wonderful dream —for all dragons and creatures do dream of course, even if most humans doubt it.

      Yawning, Naasir stretched out his long slithery body. Fully stretched, his body was an impressive sight to behold. He was quite old by human standards, while in fact, he was still in his youth, and could very well stay as rambunctiously lively for many other long centuries.

      He had given the final touch to a new world he had been creating in his dream time for many nights now, and was rather proud of it —even if dragons knew no such thing as pride, his feeling at this very moment was very akin to being proud.

      He had filled this world with many wonders, dragons of course, and other creatures yet to be named. And magic was all pervasive in that world, and so slightly cloaked, that it could be used by many.
      It would be a great playground he thought, for he was not a possessive and dictatorial dragon. In fact, he could feel some others were about to step in, and tell and live the story of that world.

      Sighing in delight, like a sleepy cat of majestic dimensions, he cuddled again, about to sink deeply into the harp music playing in his mind, ready to dream and let that story be told again…

      Another Never Ending Story

      Malvina. That name had been thrown into a conversation Yann and Quintin had had together, during which Quintin had felt images come into his awareness. He had instantly liked that name.
      He was feeling the aura of a woman, long hair of a pale rosy color, with a noble bearing. That name had been around, and they had played with it to find more impressions.
      And they had felt it linked to breeding of dragons, in a sort of rookery.

      They’ve both felt her connected to Malika, an online friend of them, whose gentle touch and kindly influence, as well as her passion for dragons seemed to fit in quite interestingly.

      Then on an impulse, Quintin had begun to paint an image around it, letting his feeling guide his movements. He’d loved the peaceful environment he’d drawn, and even if he was not wont to share “unfinished” drawings, he immediately shared the initial sketches with Yann and Fiona.

      They both loved it, and Fiona even considered for a moment adopting one of the cute baby dragons to be born.
      “Buckberry” : that was the name Quintin felt for the baby dragon… But he did not see any character in that picture for Fiona. She would have to decide to step in, to get that baby dragon. What character would she be? A young impetuous rude adventuress, or an o(w)ld wizened witch? Perhaps a bit of both?

      These thoughts were now coming back to him.
      Ever since he had seen Yann’s pictures, those taken when he’d been in Old Albion, he had felt that something strange was manifesting.
      One of these intriguing coincidences: the picture of a cave that Yann has been visiting looked so strikingly similar to Malvina’s Rookery… And that playful kid in the cave was probably linked to Yann.

      So, now that the painting was finished, perhaps he could have people join in the fun. All that was required was imagination…

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    • #1171

        “Mr Ryell?”
        “It’s such an honor to meet you, your carvings are absolutely gorgeous! I’ve bought one for my mother, she loves your creations so much!”

        Sam H. Ryell, known as Sam to his friends, was waiting in his studio for Tina and Al to come pick him up for the Hallowe’en celebration. His exposition of vitrified watermelon and pumpkin carvings had attracted lots of folks from all corners of New Venice, quite unexpectedly.
        He wasn’t too sure he deserved all the compliments, but if the lady’s mother loved his carvings, why muddy one’s pleasure.

        Truth was, since he’d came back from the Floridisles, he’d felt completely uninspired to carve any longer. All the carvings that were on display were at least three months old. And the more recent of these were not actually of his doing,… not quite entirely.
        He wanted to do something else, try other materials. No matter what they all said; he was fed up with vegetables.

        “Perhaps I’ll try nuts next, what do you reckon, Foxam?”

        The little nine-tailed fox yelped at him approvingly.


        After he sent his reply to Yann, Yurick took a deep breathe in appreciation of all that had been done the last past days.

        However tedious, all in all, it had allowed him to stay away from other people’s trauma, and stay focused on his own issues. Now, the feeling of the energy at hand was starting to become lighter. Like a thin ray of light poking through a thick layer of rainy clouds, announcing that the silver lining was more than just a consolation. It was announcing the sun to come.

        He took the book of stories that had been unburied (like his pleasure to write) from the bottom of the sofa’s cushions when they’d received hosts last week-end, and looked with amusement at the opening note about the “random quotes”.

        A strong sense of an inkling started to dawn at him.
        Thanks to the random quotes —or more appropriately said, to convenient synchronicities— “stuff” was never lost or buried in the insides of that ever-growing story, which was eating with gluttony at the edges of its expansion. Things were popping up here and there, reminding of old loose threads, or pertinent inclusions or links to be made.

        But there was more. He, for a long time, had thought that imagination was expanding things to make physical reality look smaller in proportion than it was. Like when they’d looked at Dory’s pictures, and everything looked so big on them. Even the mere thought of nine dogs was huge. But when they’d met her, and Dan, and the dogs, it was all so much smaller. Even seeing Dory manage her dogs made having nine dogs seem manageable.
        But the reverse was true: physical reality had its way of dwarfing imagination. Not so much making it smaller, but compacting it, making it fit in an unbelievably condensed and small space.

        Take that book. Thousands of words, billions of probabilities, endless threads and hundreds of characters, all packaged in a small stack of inked paper. The trick was that when you look at it that way, when you got that small stack of paper in your hands, it all seems so manageable; one starts to get accustomed to it, then fails to see the newness in it each time it’s opened to tell a story.

        Imagination is the true gauge of the vastness of the universe. It’s so easy to forget…


          “Wise move, AlBecky said conspiratorially “Very wise move to convert that text into code. You have no idea of the danger you might have been in!”

          “Oh don’t be silly, Becky, what possible danger could I have been in? Danger of a tongue lashing perhaps, but not actual danger!”

          “Don’t you be so sure, Al! Someone —and I don’t know who, it was sent to me anonymously— sent me this newspaper clipping , here, look at this:”

          TOKYO: A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband’s digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday.

          “Sacrebleu!” exclaimed Al, with an involuntary shiver.


          Balbina had had a quite difficult week. Feeling cold, having trouble to find sleep, not even speaking of being unable to do the kind of out-of-body travel she had managed to do last time.
          She was almost starting to doubt she could redo it again.

          Of course, the relocation at her son’s cottage was a source of much change in her habits, and although he wasn’t at home most of time, she wasn’t really feeling like she was ‘at home’. Strangest thing really, as for the time she was at the hospice she wasn’t feeling as much an alien as in this cottage. At least, at the hospice, she was in a sort of neutral environment, some place where she wasn’t undesirable (would it be asking for too much to actually be desirable at her age?). Here, the environment wasn’t neutral at all; everywhere everything reminded her of her son: his books, the posters, even the dust on the coffee table was almost looking as though it was his own.

          So she had to adjust. Contort her energy to fit —to crumple herself!— into this place, as it would be likely she would spend quite some time here. She wasn’t asking for much really, as she wasn’t able to move from the bed he’d had installed in the spare room. Ghastly room, with a creepy wallpaper from a has-been era of the past days, year 2000 or close she’d guess, gaudy as it was… oriented to the south, with hardly bearable heat during the day. She would have loved to see the coast on the north, but instead, the only window was showing her the shade of the trees, and that ominous alligator-green mountain just behind.

          If she couldn’t project in her dreams as she managed to do before, she would soon either die of boredom or of heat. She wasn’t too sure which one would be the most painless and efficient.

          She pushed the button to have her bed roll a little closer to the window; once straightened up a bit, she was able to see the passageway to the mountain. She couldn’t explain why she didn’t like this mountain; it was quite beautiful; perhaps she feared to be lost and abandoned. All the more since she could feel so much presence in this environment. Unseen presence, and trickster ones too.

          She was tired, and yawned so much her tense jaw’s muscles ached.

          On the emerald path to the forest, a moving teal wisp of light caught her attention. Funny plays of light at this hour of the day. But the wisp was persistent, and it started to move towards her.

          “Good day Balbina!”

          The crazy rabbit was back again. And… she was sleeping? In or out?

          “In or out, smell my foot, it’s your choice, and matters not
          but be quick, and come forth, for Anita and her folks this wicked way come!”

          “The tune is set, the tunnel is close
          Of playfulness you’ll need a hefty dose”


            Al was singing this Hallowe’en tune in his imp costume:

            “Trick or treat, smell my feet, we want something good to eat” :yahoo_pumpkin:

            —“Sacrebleu,” he said to Tina “I guess Becky Pooh must not be far away, I can feel her limerick rhymes aiming at Ewrick”
            — “Mmmm, ‘whatever that means’ I suppose” retorted Tina, rolling the eyes of her funny Hallowe’en fancy dress. :ghost:


              “We must go to the Elsespace Arrangement” Sanso repeated “At once.”

              “OK” Zhana shrugged and smiled up at him. She was enjoying wandering around with Sanso and was in no particular hurry now to reach Nishanti.

              “We can use the Elsespace Arrangement to get to where we need to go” Sanso said and Zhana asked where were they going anyway, to which he replied “We’ll know. Whatever pops into your head will be a clue.”

              “A clue to where we’re going?”

              “Oh not necesarily, it might be a clue to something else entirely” replied Sanso.

              “Well doesn’t that get a bit confusing? How do you know which clue is a clue to what question?”

              “What?” asked Sanso, frowning. “What was the question?”


                Yann was feeling a bit uncertain of what to do next. These past few days had been evolving in an unfamiliar direction and doing familiar things like going to work, eating at more or less fix hours (the same kind of food), and even checking the mail sitting on their sofa was feeling uncomfortable.
                Most of the time, if he continued focusing on what was happening in the outside world, he was feeling overwhelmed really quickly and things he was doing at that moment would kind of escape his control… the plates would fly over if he was washing the dishes, the tooth brush would hit his gums savagely if he was brushing his teeth… Not so gentle reminder in his opinion.
                Well, all of that was making him ponder about becoming completely insane in order to have an excuse of doing whatever he wanted at the moment he wanted…
                Too tired to proof read…


                  1047… is that some kind of 57? asked Sam to Becky 23.


                  Phoebe was sweating a lot.
                  Apparently, her dream activity was very intense and the conditions of her guestly detention was quite harsh. A wooden board as a bed, and one of the scratchy kind of blanket, not even a nice color… quite indescribable, actually. But for now, she wouldn’t have time to think about it. Her feverish look and behavior would make them think she was in a bad shape, but it was quite purposeful. Even if they had removed all her trinkets and jewelry, obviously thinking that they were the ones giving her her abilities, she had more tricks in her pocket.
                  She was looking for something, something that should be in this dimension now. She wasn’t sure where, though and she needed it before they arrived at their destination. Leaving her body and the submarine, she had been aware of some unusual activity around in the ocean. Maybe whales, but they were acting differently the last time she paid a visit to this dimension, and something didn’t seem right. Maybe she could find it out later. She had more pressing things to attend to.


                  Emile Merrick was an insurance agent sent by the well know Handy Hindy Trust.
                  Some incidents declared by the director were quite suspicious and they had decided to carry out an investigation in the shooting scene.
                  He was to apply as an actor for the movie. Apparently, they were looking for a body double for one of the second role gardener.

                  Being directly in the action would help him find clues more quickly for sure.


                  “I told you, you shouldn’t have told them”
                  “Shut up! You’re not even real, none of this is real…”
                  “Well, I don’t know for you, but I feel real enough to be able to annoy you”

                  Akita wasn’t sure if those hallucinations were due to the shock of the freezing temperatures of the Antarctica base, or to the medications they’d given them since the military troops had landed on the shores of that island to place it under strict quarantine. All of that was a bit fuzzy afterwards.

                  He barely remembered how he’d been brought here. Someone had probably noticed the high energy vortexes occurring on the island, or perhaps someone in high places had been tipped about all the weird stuff that had occurred there. He couldn’t tell for sure.
                  However, something strange had occurred. He had started to be able to see Kay, his spirit dog, reappear soon after.
                  And that’s when everything started to go in a hellish downward spiral.
                  Perhaps he shouldn’t have tried to convince the medics in the first place. Now he wasn’t so sure the dog wasn’t all but a figment of his imagination, which was all fine for him, but he had to know.

                  “Has this… err… dog that you see speaking to you, has it ever told you anything you couldn’t have known yourself?” the medic had been asking him.
                  That’s what had the doubts start to creep. Perhaps he was just another traumatized war veteran, like a few others, creating funny speaking critters in his mind to cope with the amount of trauma he went through. That would be quite possible.

                  “Oh, come on Akita, you know I’m real, and everything we’ve gone through was real. Those friggin’ drugs they’ve given to you ain’t helpin’ you know”.

                  Kay was right about that. He was slurring his words, and could barely stand on his own. They had to escape from here; real, unreal, it didn’t really matter; but he was sure of one thing; it wasn’t feeling good. Not feeling good in the least.

                  “I suppose you got a plan, you sly dog?”


                  “Wait a minute, you’re telling me that you’re a Parcel Delivery company, and you don’t have a map? You deliver parcels and you don’t have a map, you don’t have the internet, and your delivery man doesn’t have a phone?”

                  Bea was beginning to sound exasperated, Leonora thought. Must be the parcel people. “Parcel people?” she asked. “ A mobile phone wouldn’t be any use here anyway, Bea” she added “There’s no network cover.”

                  “My address?” Bea said into the telephone in an increasingly desperate voice. “Three people have called asking for my address” Bea took a deep breath and tried to change her energy. “My address is The House Down The Road Behind The Black Horse Bar” Bea paused for breath and continued “Through The Green Gates which are Behind The Fountain And Next To The Palm Tree. Tomorrow? You were supposed to come today! You were supposed to come yesterday as a matter of fact so I stayed home all day…”

                  “You weren’t going out anywhere anyway, BeaLeo said mildly.

                  “Well I won’t be here tomorrow, can you just leave the parcel at the post office? What? Of course they’ll know who it’s for, it’ll have my bloody name and address on it! What? No, I don’t know what street the post office is on, haven’t you got a map? No? Well Google it! You’re kidding. You’re a parcel delivery company! What’s your name, by the way?”

                  “Well would you believe it, she hung up on me!”

                  “How wonderfully Spanish” said Leonora. “Remember the last parcel people? Wouldn’t deliver to houses without a number. So if I go out and paint a number, let’s say 57, on my gate, you’ll deliver the parcel, I said to them, and they said, well yes I suppose so, so I did. I went out to the shed and grabbed the first paint…”

                  “That swimming pool blue”

                  “…yeah bit bright isn’t it, that blue paint and I painted the number on it, and the neighbours came out and asked what I was doing…”

                  “They delivered the parcel though, didn’t they Leo

                  “They did. There’s a knack to dealing with parcel people.”

                  Bea was quiet for a few minutes and then asked “What’s that then?”

                  “What’s what?” asked Leonora.

                  “What’s the knack? How do you get parcel people to deliver?”

                  Leo laughed and said she didn’t really know. “Change your energy, make a game of it, see what happens.”

                  Just then the phone rang. Bea answered it.

                  “Well how about that” said Bea, hanging up the phone a few moments later. “That was the parcel delivery man. He’s on his way now.”

                  Five or six hours later, just after the parcel delivery man had finally arrived, Bea beamed as she opened the brown cardboard parcel.

                  “I’ve been dying to read this, it’s the sequel to T’Eggy Gets a Good Rogering. I ordered two copies, I thought Baked Bean Barb might want one too, you know, as a bit of a thank you for the book she’s bringing round for us.”

                  Leo said “You what!” and rolled her eyes. “Really Bea, couldn’t you have chosen something better than that?”

                  “Define ‘better’, Miss Prim Prunes” retorted Bea. She was too happy about the books arrival to mind Leo’s remarks. Then she shouted “OH MY GOD! They’ve sent the wrong books!” so loudly that Leo jumped.

                  “Good grief!” exclaimed Leonora, taking a closer look. “Circle of Eights! But that’s the book that Baked Bean Barb found on the rubbish tip, the book she’s bringing round for us!”

                  “I don’t believe it!” Bea whispered, awed by the bizarre coincidence. “That’s the book with us in it.”

                  “What a hoot!” said Leo.


                  Inside the cave Malvina was considering to move again.

                  She couldn’t help but giggle softly at the thought of Arona fulminating at how restless that dragon of hers was. To tell the truth, she was one of high restlessness too. And her dragon, and his offspring were most of the time merely resonating to her high energy. Otherwise, they would be too happy to be left alone to dream in a corner of a cave glowing of glukenitch lights.

                  Now, she had to wait for Leormn’s return from his little vacation to be able to move swiftly. Granted she could do it alone, but it would be so tedious, with all those eggs hidden in various places. Perhaps she could do with a little vacationing herself. She was thinking, Georges and Salome would be certainly glad to take care of the cave in her absence, and of her guests.

                  She would go see them; she loved the little Ugling who was growing so fast he would now run in many places and ask funny questions. Vincentius (with the grumpy cat perched on his large shoulders out of reach from the bullying little one) was teaching him lots of things on the vegetation (mostly fungus and lichens inside) and on geology that the boy was eager to learn, with an unmistakable affinity for rocks though. He would be quick to learn how to summon the rock’s consciousness for many purposes.

                  She almost got lost in the tunnels again. “Someone should get those indications straight, dammit!” she swore as she entered a dead-end. A few turns right, and another left, and she was in front of the painted wall with the ‘PEACE OFF’ painted door. So that’s where they went… the door was visibly shut now…
                  A nearby snort suddenly caught her attention.

                  Buckberry? What are you doing here little precious; hasn’t Arona taken you with her? Well, silly me, obviously not.” She added, seeing the floor covered with crushed buckberries juice. “Awww, you don’t even have the appetite for your cherished buckberries…”

                  Malvina knew of course that it wasn’t the closed door that kept Buckberry here, as he most probably could go wherever Arona was, if she summoned him properly, but it was rather the fact she had left without notice. Malvina laughed heartily “Aahaha, don’t be soft Buckie, she’s probably been tricked by your daddie and your little buggers of brothers, but she’ll come back…”


                  “So we’ll be moving as soon as the others come back from their trip. Very well, that will be a great opportunity to see new environments for YikesVincentius acknowledged the news with his usual composure.

                  “Very well then, I hope you are not too worried about Arona, but she…”
                  “Not at all” Vincentius answered with a smile.
                  “Oh… Okay then. Perfect!”

                  Malvina added as if to make sure he had understood everything properly “So, I’ll be at my friend’s den for a few days. Georges and Salome will be here in case you need anything, and of course Buckie, though he might be a bit unpredictable…”

                  “Have a safe voyage” so Vincentius, who was not of many words when it wasn’t about saying something meaningful, ended the conversation.


                  To go to see her friend Yimho, Malvina wanted to look pretty —not dashing, but not looking like a country girl either. She reached for the linen embroidered dress with the zynder patterns. She loved it, it would be perfect.

                  Yimho was a guy living nearby she had known briefly from her days of Sorcery training, who had a rejuvenating cave situated just under a hot spring, so that water was running almost everywhere inside the cave. On the walls, the floor, little pools everywhere. Yimho had this uncanny interest in golfindels and was telling all sorts of stuff to entertain people with; stuff that he got from tuning himself to the consciousness of the creatures.
                  Malvina was thinking she would have a nice time there, though the echoes of clicking sounds throughout Yimho’s dwelling were a bit disturbing…


                  “Did you see how Malvina went to her date?”
                  “Yes I saw it beloved” and she added with a giggle “though she probably wouldn’t like us to call that a ‘date’ huhu”.
                  “Ahaha” Georges was enjoying himself with various associations connected to his periphery. Associations with words like ‘date’, or with time-space connections, like the ones related to the dress Malvina was wearing.

                  Salome huddled herself up against Georges, and not looking at him, said in a dreamy gaze “I remember perfectly that first time we heard about the Zynder”
                  Georges answered, surfing on his own associations “I remember how people had so much trouble pronouncing it ‘right’ — Ze-In-dear, Zee-Indeer, Zaindher…ahaha it was so funny”.

                  Then coming back to Salome’s last sentence that had been hanging in the soft silence unanswered. “I think I heard about it before you did, but I was vaguely aware of it. You were the one to tell me the legend.”

                  “Yes, on that first day on the Kandulim, where the Zentaura told me about it.”
                  “I would love you to tell me again…”

                  The Legend of the Zyndre

                  as told to Salome by Zharon the 44th, of the Zentaura’s tribe

                  There is a legend among the people of this place, that people love to remind themselves of in times of despair. It’s the legend of this mythical creature named the Zyndre.
                  What the Zyndre looks like, nobody knows for sure until they see one. Because once you see one, you know what it is, without a shadow of doubt. It may be tricky because some people have seen one, and they get into fights about what it looks like, for such is the nature of the Zyndre that its form is diverse and it doesn’t show itself to two people the same.
                  That’s why my people have named it Zyndre, which means “the creature of a thousand forms”.
                  Some people have searched to catch it, but their attempts have always failed. For the Zyndre doesn’t show itself to the forceful people. The Zyndre is a peaceful creature that will find for you what you most desire.
                  That’s why many people have used to represent it with a large nose, for it is a seeker. It may find anything you want, but you have to desire it so much that it becomes the main focus of your attention. It burns in your head, not like a madness, but like a warm reinsurance, a soft knowingness that you will indeed find it, that which you desire most.
                  So that once you find the Zyndre, you know you’ve reached that thing that you desire, because the Zyndre is pointing you in its very direction.

                  “You know Georges”, she says “that night on the beach, I dreamt of the Zyndre”
                  “Really? And how did you perceive it?”
                  “It was beautiful, not like the classical representations we see, of that big-nosed creature; it was so elegant, like a small silver-shining spotted doe, with tall feet proportionally to its body, not unlike the Qilin of the ancient Chinese; and it was proposing me to ride it to escape its enclosure.
                  And I was thinking in the dream, ‘it must be strange and a bit uncomfortable when it’s galloping’ —because it’s small, and my feet will touch the ground.”
                  “So did you ride it?”
                  “Yes, and you were with me, and it was carrying us with ease and grace, like it was floating and gliding above the ground…” Salome looked at Georges with a smile “So that when I woke up, I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that I was exactly where I most desired to be.”


                  Arona was fretting.

                  “Now, what is this all about? Can someone explain me? The purple sand is pretty, the green sky too, however it looks just like an insane dream from a deranged mind having abused smoke of robjane leaves.”

                  Framing Irtak —who was having a funny pout on his face— the dragons Heckle and Jeckle were too busy considering with an amused attention the new form and energy field that their progenitor had taken.

                  No words were spoken to answer Arona’s plea for answers, but answers were starting to come to them in the form of a bundle of energy which would be difficult to translate in a linear manner.

                  They started to understand a few things. That for one, N’meôrl the Nirgual was not here by chance, at this place and time. Again, they had travelled far in the past of the history of their dimension, and events of great importance were in motion, that they were given to witness.

                  At first, the flow of information they were having was like a stream they thought they had no control of, but as questions were forming they noticed that it was altering the flow which was then encompassing the answers to those questions.

                  Like when Jeckle wondered if he and his twin had big birdies counterparts like this one to merge with, and got the following answer “No. For you are quite new essences fragments, and thus do not yet hold focuses in similar extent to your progenitor.”

                  Arona was quite pleased by this new mode of getting answers, especially as she could visibly get the answers she was genuinely looking for, not those coming from questions she was only remotely interested in.

                  N’meôrl was showing them also, that unlike him, they were not quite physically focused into that environment, and were not noticed by the small surrounding creatures like the little red scrabs crawling in the sand. They were mainly there to observe and draw their own conclusions, as soon some events would occur.

                  As they’d finished absorbing the information, they started to notice a feeling of expectation in the air. N’meôrl conveyed to them that they would have to stay quiet in his peripheral awareness for “they” were coming, and he was on a delicate mission.


                  Footsteps on the beach.
                  A man approaching. He looks like Irtak and Arona, as if he had just come into this alien world from the same door they had taken. But he fails to notice them.

                  He stays, facing the deep green waters of the ocean brushing the shore, as if expecting someone.

                  A strange buzz starts to fill the space. A point of focused light the size of a pinhole appears in front of him, expands quickly with an elastic quality, and pops with a soft sound, revealing an improbably tall figure under a cloak.

                  The man greets the new-comer with deference
                  “Master Sinadron
                  Jarvis, my good friend.”

                  They start to walk on the beach at the unspoken invitation of the one with the smooth voice named Sinadron.

                  “So, I’ve been told our little matter is going very well.”
                  “Yes, very well, Master; I am deeply grateful for your intervention; without your help I’ve been told, my dear would not have been allowed to…”
                  “Let’s not talk of such things any longer; it was such a delight to help two sweet young souls so deeply in love”

                  Somehow, despite the words of kindness which are slithering with ease, the invisible witness got the uncanny feeling that they are but a deceptive fragment of the truth.

                  “Now. Tell me”, the one named Sinadron continues in a mellifluous voice “Why have you called me for?”
                  “The settlement you have suggested us to start on this land…”
                  “Yes, I am aware, please go to the point instead of labouring things I am well aware of.” The voice had sharpened a bit.
                  “I am sorry Master.”
                  “There is a growing dissent that…”
                  “And from who that shall come?”
                  “Err… I hear Pelorus has spoken to the Zentauras…”
                  “Pelorus is but a nuisance.” The voice wasn’t asking for contradiction, though an imperceptible grin was floating on the half-hidden face.
                  He continued “But I shall help you, once again
                  “Master, you are too generous…”
                  “Let me finish. I will provide you with more men and women, willing to start a new life under your command, to help you grow your settlement. There are a few slaves on the Duane, that place from where you come who will do great.”
                  “They will be there in an hexade. Make sure you stand your ground until then, even if that means confronting those nasty Zentauras.”

                  And without waiting for the confused thanks, he disappeared, grinning widely.


                    tick tick… it’s ten fifty seven dear…
                    mmm said Dory, what did you say?


                    — “I’M FRIGGINCOLD!”
                    — “I have to agree with Glor”, said Mavis, as Sharon was about to object to the loud whines
                    — “Oh, bummer, you two peas in a pod! How can you be cold with all that fur on you! And how do you want to break out this prison you whiners eh?”
                    — “You’re the bloody genius Sha, you tell us! Had you not signed us up for those stupid beauty treatments…”
                    — “Now that’s a bit late for what-ifs, init? Let’s make the best of what we’ve got; had it not always worked out that way?”

                    The two others Yeah’ed in unison.

                    — “Do you mean we’ll burn our fleece to make us warm?”, Glor asked sheepishly
                    — “Don’t be bloddy silly! If we want to escape, better keep that fur as long as we’re in penguin land !”
                    — “So what?”
                    — “What ‘what’?! Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed?” Sharon’s voice trailed off with a hint of hopelessness

                    — “You’ve been snotting all around for hours, and you haven’t bloddy noticed?!”

                    — “Our snot, bloddy ‘ell! It’s sticky like those goddam spider webs! With a bit of training, I’m sure we can knit a solid net and ropes and stuff to get out of ‘ere!”


                    Everyone had been disappointed that the Day of the Dead Party had been a wash out, cancelled because of the torrential rain. An alternative date had not yet been set for the boulder moving party, and the interior of the mysterious mound was to remain an enigma for a while longer.

                    Dan had been frankly relieved about the cancellation, preferring to get sodden on the Volderama golf course instead. He’d been delighted to meet Sergio Garcia there, especially as his old friend Juani Ramirez had had a dream several years previously about him and Sergio.

                    Dory and Becky were disappointed though. They’d both been consumed with curiosity about the mound and it’s blue tiled interior and were eager to explore the inside physically, rather than with the customary psychic investigations and meditations. Never the less, they were both aware that when the time was right, everything would slot into place.

                    There was much to keep them occupied, what with the time travelling mouse that was camped behind the microwave oven, and the impending arrival of Granny Hill.
                    Becky had named the mouse Will, short for Will O’ The Wisp, but that was before she knew that he was a time traveller. She left him a variety of tasty morsels next to the toaster, which Will took to his hide-out — Marie biscuits, dried cranberries, little chunks of Swiss cheese, and sometimes an almond or two. She left him a piece of lettuce and two sweet corn kernels once, but he hadn’t been at all interested. Obviously Will wasn’t a victim of nutrition beliefs, and Becky was impressed.

                    Wondering what else Will might like to eat for variety, and because she was beginning to realize that this wasn’t just any old ordinary mouse, Becky sent a message to Dory’s friend Mac Brock, who always seemed to be able to pull interesting information out of his hat. Mac’s wife Wanda replied first, confirming Becky’s impression that this was no ordinary mouse, but in fact contained an energy fleck of Tarkin, the Brocks non-physical friend from the future. Shortly afterwards, Mac replied, saying that Will-Tarkin liked asparagus.

                    Asparagus! Becky found that quite funny, because ‘asparagus’ had been the code word that the time travellers had said that they would use. She had been looking forward to meeting a time traveller. Little did she know that the first time traveller to come and stay at her house would be a mouse!


                      Dory, there’s no asparagus, can we go and buy some?”

                      “Asparagus? Whatever for?” replied a frantic looking Dory, almost hidden behind arms full of pillows and quilts.

                      “For Will Tarkin, Mac said he likes asparagus” young Becky replied.

                      “Who the bloody hell is Will Tarkin? I’ve got enough to cope with trying to get ready for Granny Hill!” Dory sounded uncharacteristically flustered and impatient, and Becky recoiled slightly from the sparky energy.

                      Will Tarkin is the mouse, DoryBecky said in a tone that suggested it was inconceivable to have forgotten who Will Tarkin was.

                      “Will bloody Tarkin is getting a bit too big for his boots!” snapped Dory. “He’ll be wanting caviar next! I’ve got a time travelling mouse camped up behind my microwave, and Granny Hill’s frightened to death of mice; the room she was going to stay in is full of baby geckos, and you know how scared she is of lizards, not to mention the dead rat that was outside a moment ago, appearing from nowhere, and now I’m trying to get Peppy’s house across the road ready so Granny Hill can stay there instead, and none of the bedding has been washed and it’s still raining, and now you want me to take you shopping for asparagus for a MOUSE! And not only that, there are dead rhino beetles all up Peppy’s driveway, I can’t imagine why, and I’d be willing to bet that Granny Hill is afraid of rhino beetles too, so I suppose I’ll have to sweep up rhino beetles today too, as if I haven’t got enough to do cleaning up dead rats and baby geckos. Granny Hill is afraid of gas heaters too, so I’ll have to take an electric one over to Peppy’s”

                      “Granny Hill sure is afraid of a lot of things, Dory. Why is she scared of everything?”

                      “Good question, sweetheart” replied Dory, relaxing her energy as she brought her attention back to the moment. “She’s one of the old ones, from the Victim Mentality Days and the Age of Medical Suggestibility. They’re always afraid of everything, and Granny Hill’s a good example. Afraid of her money in case she can’t keep control of it, afraid of her car for the same reason, afraid of the food she eats in case it contains hidden poisons and afraid of the hospitals in case they’re dirty and dangerous. She’s afraid of strangers in case they have knives and stab her, even though in all her life she’s never seen a person threaten anyone with a knife, she’s even afraid of people in other countries, just in case they come and drop a bomb on her.”

                      “She must enjoy being scared, then, mustn’t she?” asked Becky. “Otherwise she wouldn’t do it. Doesn’t she realize she’s creating her reality herself?”

                      “Well, that was the trouble in the old days, honey, they didn’t know that back then. There’s a lot of people who still don’t know it now”

                      “Wow, really?” Becky said incredulously. “That must be weirdo!”

                      Dory had to laugh. “Believe it or not, neither did I for years. I keep forgetting it even now! Some of us used to say things like ‘think positive’ which wasn’t far off the mark, or ‘behind every cloud is a silver lining’, or ‘this too will pass’, that was always a good one for when you felt like it was all out of control. Alot of people prayed to gods too, thinking that their life was in the hands of the gods. I never knew much about praying myself though, we didn’t do that in our family, but it was very popular.”

                      “Maybe they were asking their own essence to help, that would make sense” replied Becky astutely. “Praying probably helped.”

                      “Yeah it probably did but there was alot of baggage that went along with praying, it wasn’t something you could do on your own in your own way, you had to go to a certain building to do it, and say certain words, even wear certain clothes and eat certain things. It was all very complicated, didn’t really work out in the end. The funny thing was, they were always fighting with people who prayed differently in different special buildings and who ate different special things and wore different special clothes, it was bizarre really.”

                      “Who is Granny Hill anyway, and why is she coming to stay?” Becky was bored with the way the conversation was going, and curious about Granny Hill who came to stay every so often, and always seemed to rattle Dory. “Whose granny is she?”

                      “Buggered if I know really, BeckyDory replied. “Every family has one, I don’t know where they come from, they sort of just appear every so often and want to come and stay for a while.”

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