Pop﹡in People Tribulations

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  • #124
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Yes, dear, it’s all true, you’re dead as a doornail. Now, please take a seat, and be quiet.”

    If not for her rebelling nature, Granola would have left it at that, and would have jumped onto the glimmer train into the light for a happy ever after. But she had to question. “And err… Sir, are there any other options? Ways I could come back, and help?”.

    “Oh dear, don’t tell me you want to be one of them.”

    The disdain in the tone of the white robed dolent man was enough to convince her. She had to be part of them, whoever they were.

    As soon as she had signed the form, everything disappeared.

    She waited,… a long time… cried, pleaded even. Almost prayed, but mostly brayed. A long time.

    And then she lost it.

    And the blue turban guy showed up. * Popped * in.

    “Welcome to the Pop-in Tribe!” he said charmingly. “With a little bit of focus, you will find the essence of it to be not so bitter after all…”

    :bee:

Viewing 20 replies - 41 through 60 (of 111 total)
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  • #4649
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Maeve had left only taking with her the wrapping of the package and had been glad to leave Shawn Paul with its content, especially when she had seen what it was.

    The mysterious thing was heavy, brown and looked a tad like a dry turd. It could hold in Shawn Paul’s hand and it seemed shaped to fit in his closed fist, but the young man hesitated to keep it too long because of the way it looked.
    A note from his mother accompanied it. Who else could have sent a parcel this way? he thought, meaning not through the post office and delivered by a decrepit old man.
    So the thing had been put on top of a pile of his latest scribblings, which was on top of his not so latest scribblings. Before putting it there, he almost saw the interest of a clean desktop or table, but it got lost in the immediacy of the moment and the tiredness caused by his recent fever.

    “I’m sure you’re wondering what this marvellous object is.” the note started. Shawn Paul looked at the thing. It looked like a turd more than ever on all that white paper, so he made his yuck face. What he was wondering was rather why did she send me anything? She lives in an apartment on the upper floor. She could have brought it herself.

    “I found it in a car boot sale,” she continued, her sharp and melodious voice chirping in her son’s head while he read the rest. “I met that old man, Patrick, who will deliver it to you. He’s a dear nice fellow never frugal with his words, and he told me it had been given to him by an Inuit shaman. It’s a fossil bone of the inner ear of a whale when they escaped Lemuria. Can you imagine that? Apparently it will help you develop your psychic abilities. You know how I’ve always known you had such a great potential in that area…”

    Shawn Paul snorted and put down the paper. There was no use keeping up reading. His mother and her crazy ideas. He looked at the pile of papers.
    It’ll do for a nice paperweight, he thought.

    But Granola had not lost a crumble of what the mother had told in the rest of the note. She was lurking at the inner bone and she wondered if she could make herself heard if she merged with it.

    #4650
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Distraction always worked best when one was trying hard not to try too hard, and luckily for Lucinda, it came easy. She was a natural. It wasn’t that she’d forgotten her mission to find out more about those mysterious dolls and the twelve addresses, but the Roman themed birthday party was today, and that gave her plenty to occupy herself.

    The costume was easy, just a folded white sheet and a number of nappy pins. The birthday gift was another matter. She still hadn’t bought one, and had left herself no option but to buy something on the way to the party on the other side of the city. Counting the money left in her purse, she decided to travel by bus rather than taxi. She would have to change at the central bus station, which conveniently had a craft and antique market on in the nearby park. If she left home a couple of hours early, she could have a look around the market.

    Not to look for dolls! she reminded herself, her mind already imagining unlikely scenes.

    Checking the mirror one last time to make sure her toga was securely arranged, Lucinda left the flat and made her way to the bus stop on the other side of the park. She had debated whether to take her costume in a bag and change when she got there, and decided to just wear the toga. It was a diverse multicultural city, and there were often people dressed as if they were going to a fancy dress party, in biblical looking robes and scarves, or exotic coloured sari’s. If anyone wondered about her outfit, they’d probably just think she was from one of those foreign middle eastern places.

    #4666
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Granola, with all the expounding of new information felt a bit dizzy and in need of a quiet recap.
    The squishy giraffe was a place as good as any for a bit of rest, but to be perfectly honest, the pets around the place didn’t make the greatest conversationists. And she didn’t want to look like she didn’t do her homework and get admonished by her bleu friend.

    “Think,” she said “by now, you can go about any place in their expansively creative stories.” —which was actually, like travelling inside her friends’ memories, considering the time they all spent in these universes, they were almost real, quite tangible.
    “Think about one of their character, one who always seems to hold answers…”

    Bam swoosh

    “It didn’t take long.”

    She could squint in the dark and see a faint glow. “Wait… Don’t tell me I’m in one of these… kluknish… what’s these bat things with the impossible name…”

    It’s glükenitch actually the voice was coming from below, but speaking directly in her head. And you don’t have to hide in one, really. Don’t you have some better character to be?

    She recognized the dragon. “Shit,” she muttered, “that’s not the one I was thinking about; always answering in riddles, that much I remember; don’t need to add more confusion! As if speaking through the whale last time wasn’t messy enough.”

    True, but you got a glimpse of one of the keys, haven’t you?

    She froze in her tracks. “What do you know about these keys?”

    Not much, I’m loath to say. Besides, what should I know about it, I’m not from this world, am I now?

    “Damn riddles,” she said. But the dragon had a point. She wasn’t in the right world to check on her friends.

    “Can you tell me something useful at least?” she asked the dragon before deciding to pop-out.

    Maybe, yes… See, you pop-in naturally where the action is. It’s only natural that the bigger the action, the stronger the pull…

    Granola hadn’t thought of that. She had been a bit too focused in getting more physical and interacting outside. But the last week (in her friends’ time continuity), there has been more targeted jumps, less chaotic, and more frequent. It’s like she could tune in.
    And for now, the pull was in Australia.
    Come to think of it, she may have had a concurrent focus there. She only had to believe she could be there, right place, right time, right person… An Aboriginal woman, what was her name?

    Tiku

    #4668
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    She needn’t have worried about being distracted by dolls at the market, as there were no dolls there anyway. Lucinda chose a statue for her friends birthday present, a squat grey character with gargoyle features. She heartily regretted her choice, for the weight of it was not inconsiderable, and she had a further two bus journeys to make, and then a walk of some distance.

    What she hadn’t expected was to find another doll at the party. Lucinda nearly choked when the birthday girl opened the long soft present wrapped in shiny silver foil.

    #4691
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The day had started uneventful, the perfect kind of day for Shawn Paul to write his novel. He had been quite productive concerning the numbers of characters written in total, but after a few erasing and correcting only one paragraph of a few lines remained. But he was very satisfied with what he had written.

    Perfection will kill me, he thought. Looking at the piles of documents on his table, he felt tired. He looked at the unremarkable clock on his wall. It was eleven in the morning. Time for a tea. He got up from his desk carefully. He missed a step and inadvertently hit the wrong key combination on his keyboard. It closed his writing app without saving his work. Shawn Paul started panicking when the bell rang. Déjà vu.

    This time it was the mailman.
    “You’re a lucky winner. I need a sign.”
    Shawn Paul signed and was handed a big envelop written “LUCKY WINNER!” all over it. There was barely enough room for his address. The young writer, almost author, feared to open it. It was reeking of distraction potential and it could put his novel in danger when it needed loving care… and a lot of discipline.
    “Look,” said the mailman. “I have another one for your neighbour.” the man knocked at Maeve’s door and gave her the envelop in exchange for a signature. The young woman had no qualm about it and tore open the envelop. It was hard to read her expression when she got a plane ticket out and read the short accompanying note. She almost looked asian poker face at that moment. Her eyes went to the envelop in Shawn Paul’s hands, and he understood the question she hadn’t formulated.
    He felt forced to open his own envelop and it was as agonising as tearing apart the last chance to write his unborn novel.

    “What’s inside?” asked the mailman who was a curious fellow.

    “A plane to Australia, and a voucher to the Flying Fish Inn.”

    “Oh! I know that place, it was all over the news a few months back,” said the man. “I don’t need to envy you then,” he dropped before leaving Shawn Paul and Maeve in the corridor.
    Her cat showed up and meowed. It was clear to the young man there was an interrogation point in its voice.

    #4695
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The note had troubled Maeve. It was different than the one Shawn Paul received, not only because it was handwritten and very long, but also because it implied someone, potentially even several groups, were after the dolls and the keys.
    “You have to retrieve them,” the note eventually said, “and use the clues they hide to find the important people they protect.”

    There was no signature, but it sounded so much like uncle Fergus, oddly wordy and mysterious. Was he still alive after all this time? Did he still ride his Harley?

    Maeve’s first thought after the surprise was that she needed someone to take care of Fabio. The next thought felt like a brilliant idea. Lucinda. Maeve would go ask her to take care of Fabio during her vacation to Australia and would use that opportunity to spirit away the doll. She had the intuition she might need it afterwards.

    So she prepared her luggage and cuddled Fabio who knew he wouldn’t be part of the trip.
    “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I need you to keep that sad face of yours when we go see Lucinda.” In response, Fabio wiggled his tail happily and tried to lick Maeve’s face. “No! Keep the face,” she mimicked what she thought was a sad face.

    After all was packed she went to Lucinda’s with Fabio and her luggage.
    “I’m sorry, I’m going on a trip and I need someone to take care of Fabio,” Maeve said. As she had imagined Lucinda was moved by Fabio’s look and couldn’t refuse to take car of him.
    “Of course! He’ll be well treated here with my new parrot.”
    Huhu,” said the colourful bird.
    “I think it comes from New Zealand,” said Lucinda. “It flew in yesterday and had not left ever since despite me not putting it into a cage, so I’m buying it food. It seems particularly fond of that doll I told you about the other day.”
    Indeed, the parrot was on the sofa, trying to open the doll’s head. That’s when Fabio jumped and tried to catch the bird. He clearly didn’t like it and the parrot flew away to a higher ground on an old grannies’ Welsh dresser, making a few glasses and china fall down in an awful breaking noise. Lucinda tried to catch the bird or the china or Fabio, but could do neither of the three.

    Seizing that as an opportunity, Maeve put the doll in her messenger bag.
    “I don’t want to bother you longer, I have a plane to catch. Bye,” she said, and she left with bags and luggage without checking if Lucinda had heard.

    At the elevator, she met with Shawn Paul.
    “Hi.”
    “Hi. I’m going to the airport,” the young man said. “Australia. Like you?”
    She felt uncomfortable. The note hadn’t mention anything about him. Unless he was part of one of those groups who were after the dolls. Maeve grumbled something while holding her bag closer. She didn’t know if she could trust him.

    #4697
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    During summer, activity was slow at the mall in Kelowna, BC, so Jerk had a little more time to check on his other pastimes. Interestingly there seemed to be a lot of unusual activity on the findmydolls group.

    He was also tinkering with a home brewed AI, and launched the program.

    “Trancie are you awake?”
    “Did I fall asleep?” the AI answered back.
    “For a little while, yes. Trancie, analyse logs from findmystuff website, check group findmydolls.”
    “A moment. A moment. A moment. Analysis complete. Activity spike 57.21% increase.”

    This was quite unusual, but he wasn’t sure were to look. He looked at his administrator box, in case another message had required moderation. The filters triggers were not too sensitive, so there wasn’t a lot of messages.

    One in particular had triggered the system.

    “Trancie, read message in moderation queue #5363.”
    You need to come for information. Am sending you tickets and instructions for hotspot, so it won’t cost you a bomb. hashtag flagged for terror threat. D for Destroy, A for Approve.”

    That was obviously amateur work, Jerk thought. Criminals nowadays were much more careful.

    “Trancie, Approve.”

    Another thought crossed his mind.

    “Trancie, plot past month activity by geolocation on mapearth.com”

    It took a few minutes to refine the query so he could check the heatmap, and remove the background noise.

    The last messages all seemed to concentrate in the middle of nowhere in Australia.

    “How odd. So glad I’m not an investigative journalist, that place must be crawling with nasty things, scaly and poisonous and downright deadly.”

    Interestingly, a second point on the map was close to Kelowna. Actually, although it could just be narrowed down to a 5 kilometer radius, it looked ominously close to where he lived.

    Shivers started to run down his spine. Maybe he’d just stumbled onto a dangerous conspiracy. Dolls could be a code word for horrible things, possibly even human trafficking.

    He closed the laptop suddenly, his mind racing. What if they were onto him? He struggled for a moment with the urge to destroy his laptop and burn down the place and disappear off the grid, but he remembered he needed to breathe, so his rational mind could be oxygenated and think properly.

    “I may be a tad on the paranoid side.”
    But it ain’t paranoia, if they are trying to get you.

    He looked around. He was already as close as possible to off-the-grid without vanishing out of society. The place was deserted, and only a janitor was roaming the place mindlessly on his cleaning car. There was zero chance he could be a target.

    Yet.

    “Oh shut up!” he exclaimed out loud.

    He was intrigued by the mystery, but for now, he wanted to let it play out. He needed more data points to have Trancie plot a heuristic pattern. Well, to make sense of it, while he was working on her personality.

    #4703
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Sweeping the shards of glass and pottery into the dustpan, Lucinda was focused the floor, and keeping the little dog away from the shattered pieces, so she didn’t notice immediately that the doll was missing. As soon as she did, she ran to the door and looked down the hallway but Maeve had gone. How rude she’d been!

    Shawn Paul was looking flustered while locking his apartment door. “Have you seen Maeve a few minutes ago?” she asked.

    “Forgot my toothbrush, had to dash back and fetch it,” he said, fumbling with his key and looking nervous. “Oh, Maeve? She’s gone to Australia.”

    “She’s gone to Australia?” I parroted stupidly, my mind whirling. Shawn Paul tittered nervously and said nothing, turned on his heel and loped off down the hall to the stairs.

    “What the dickens is up with him?” Lucinda muttered, but she had more important things to think about. She dialed Hilda’s number.

    Several hours later she was still trying to reach Hilda by phone. Reluctantly, Lucinda wrote a message.

    “doll stolen tart next door teafed it and is on way to oz but seen another one call me asap need 2 talk”

    #4714
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Fourty four hours and 3 stopovers later, Maeve was glad to have arrived at Alice Springs airport. It was fun to see that the further she went, the smallest the aircraft became. Until it wasn’t too funny, and got almost downright scary with the last small propeller plane, that shook so much it seemed out of an old Indiana Jones movie, sans flying chicken.
    The airport was quaint and small, the way she liked, with a passageway shaded by large swathes of fabric reminiscent of Seville’s streets. The air was surprisingly fresh, and she wondered if she’d been too optimistic about the weather and her choice of clothes, considering it was still winter down here.
    While she was waiting at the luggage belt, she discreetly observed the other waiting people.
    Uncle Fergus always said she had to be observant. Besides, she had a natural eye for details.

    Apart from the few Crocodile Dundees that screamed tourists who were waiting for their oversized luggage, she could spot a few out-of-place people. One in particular, that seemed to have followed the very same route since the first layover in Vancouver. Too strange a coincidence, and the fellow was too unassuming too.

    Maeve! MAH-EH-VEH” She jumped at the sounds. Almost didn’t recognized her own name, if she hadn’t recognized her neighbour’s voice first, and his peculiar way to pronounce it like she was a precious wahine.

    Shawn-Paul?! What on earth are you doing here?” She frowned at him “Have you been stalking me?”
    “No, no! It’s not like that! I’ve received those funny-looking coupons, you see…”
    “What? You too?”

    Now, a second person following on her tracks even through a different combination of flights was more than a coincidence. It meant danger was afoot.

    “Shouldn’t we carpool? I looked up the trail to the inn, it’s a long drive and by the looks of it, not at all too safe for a lone woman travelling.”

    Maeve shrugged. That may keep the other creep off her trail. “I don’t mind, but if you insist on being so chivalrous, you’re paying for the taxi.”
    Before he could say anything, she handed him her piece of luggage to carry.

    #4729
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The room was not oversized and not to bright despite facing south. It had the oddest strange decor Shawn Paul would have expected from that place. It seemed to come right out of a Victorian movie with the heavy furniture that took all the space in the room and the dark and overloaded wallpaper that sucked up the light coming through the velvet curtains.

    Shawn Paul sneezed. It didn’t as much feel dirty as it felt old like his grand parent’s house. He wondered how often the Inn’s staff cleaned the room. He had to move his luggage in order to open the window to get some fresh air. It was so hot and dry. There was a drug store on the other side of the dusty road and a strange man was looking at him. A feeble wind brought in some red dust and Shawn Paul sneezed again, reducing the little enthusiasm he could have had left to nothing. He imagined his clothes covered with red dust and quickly closed the window. As the man was still looking Shawn Paul shut the velvet curtain, suddenly plunging the room into darkness.

    His fear of insects crept out. He had no idea where the light was so he reopened the curtain a bit.

    He then checked thoroughly under the pillows, the bedcover and the bedsheet, behind the chairs and in the wardrobe. Australia was know for having the most venomous creatures and he didn’t want to have a bad surprise. He looked suspiciously at a midge flying around not knowing if it was even safe to kill it. Shawn Paul had never been the courageous type and he began to wonder why on earth he had accepted that trip. He had never traveled out of Canada before.

    Needing some comfort, he looked frantically into his backpack for the granola cookies he had brought with him. With the temperature the chocolate chip had melted and he wondered at how to eat a cookie without dirtying his hands.

    Someone knocked at the door making him jump with guilt like when he was a kid at his grand parents’ and would eat all the cookies in his bedroom without sharing with his cousins.

    “Lunch is served,” a woman’s voice said from the other side.

    Shawn Paul remembered having said with Maeve they would meet at lunchtime so he closed his luggage with an extra padlock and made sure his door was safely locked too before going downstairs.

    Anxiety rushed in when he saw all the people that were already seated at the only table in the lunch room. He might have gone back to his room if Maeve hadn’t come from behind him.

    “Let’s go have a seat.”

    He read between the lines what he was thinking himself: Don’t leave me alone. Whether it was truly what she had meant was not important.

    #4731
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    “Could you pass me the butter?” asked a strange fellow seated on Shawn Paul’s left. The man was odd, a bit looking like Captain Sparrow with his black jabot lavaliere shirt and golden earrings.

    Shawn Paul felt awkward, the kind of awkwardness cultivated for many years with shyness and fear of social interactions. No wonder I wanted to be a writer, he thought. Nonetheless he handed the butter to the stranger. Could he be daring for a change and talk like his grandma always pushed him to do? The best remedy to shyness is to talk. Start by saying your name Shasha!

    “My name is Shawn Paul,” he said, feeling the heat rise to his face. He gulped, unsure of what to do next. Should he talk about the morning weather?
    “My name is Sanso,” said the man. “At your service,” he added waving his puffy sleeves. “Have you read the last article on _whateveralready_?
    The cat behind them snorted. Shawn Paul looked at it. It looked grumpy and ready to talk.

    “Don’t send Mandrake any food,” said one of the other guests, a woman wearing an indian looking outfit with a scarf hiding her hair. Something moved under the head scarf and a strand of red hair ventured timidly outside, soon followed by a lizard’s head. The woman pushed it back under her hood and emitted a disgusted grunt when she saw the meat dish brought by the maid.

    “I’m not a maid,” muttered Finly to whomever could hear/read her, or to the writer. “It’s good liz… chicken,” she said. No need for the long faces.”
    “But it’s dead, dear,” said the woman with the veil.

    “The Godfrey silently prayed under the third moon,” was saying Sanso who didn’t seem to mind that Shawn Paul was not listening to him. “And he entered late inside the lake wearing a funny blue toge. Sanso realised Finly was looking at him her mouth reduced to a tight line. “And I followed with opened hope,” he finished before gulping a spoonful of butter.

    “Do you happen to have a lock in your bedroom?” asked Sanso. The woman in the scarf looked at him with dark eyes. The lizard, seizing the opportunity to be free, jumped from under her scarf and landed into the gaspacho, splashing all the guests with a bit of red.

    #4746
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The sense of being left behind had deflated Lucinda. Everyone off having adventures, and here she was left minding the dog. She liked the dog, but not the feeling of missing out on the excitement, and the clues she received were few and far between.

    “Come on, Fabio,” she said, and the little dog looked up expectantly and wagged his tail. “Let’s go for a walk down by the river. We can pick up some granola cookies on the way back.”

    It was a particularly muggy day and not ideal for a long walk. She felt listless and heavy in the humid air. Before walking very far at all along the riverside promenade, she felt clammy and tired, and found a bench under a shady tree to sit on. Fabio cocked his head to one side and looked at her. Lucinda closed her eyes for a few moments, and started to admonish herself for her lack lustre and frankly boring state. “Buck up, for Pete’s sake!” she told herself, but was interrupted by Fabio’s frantic barking and pullling at the lead.

    A man on stilts was coming towards them, wearing long shiny trousers in black and white vertical stripes. Lucinda started at him openly, somewhat shaken, but curious. She could have sworn she’d seen him in a dream the night before.

    The peace shattering sound of a loud motor boat engine intruded into the scene, and when Lucinda looked back to the stilted man in stripes, he’d vanished. The sound of the outboard motor receded as the boat disappeared around a curve in the river; the waves it created splashing on the river banks long after it had disappeared.

    #4755
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Welcome, Everyone!” said Mater. She had entered unnoticed and was standing in the doorway regarding the assembled group and looking rather more lewd than welcoming. She had worn a pantsuit for the occasion, a relic from the 70’s made of red garbardine. Fortunately, the forgiving nature of garbardine added a little stretch, but even so the cloth clung rather too tightly to Mater’s curves.
    “Oh, lord love ya! “ said Finly. “Look at you! You’ve not dusted that pantsuit off since you got it out of the chest, have you!” She hit Mater with her duster and a cloud of dust enveloped her.
    “Way to go, Mater!” said Devan.
    “What are you doing, crazy old woman?” shrieked Dodo. Unfortunately her mouth was full of bread roll and it sounded more like, “Woowawuooingwazyolewoom?”
    “She’s aboriginal?” asked Sanso looking at Dodo with interest.
    Prune snorted. “We aren’t quite sure where she is from but she is an interesting specimen.”
    “I expect she is rip snorting drunk again,” said Mater after the dust had subsided. “Anyway, I just want to say it is a pleasure to have you all here. I hope you are finding enough to eat. If you need anything, Bert here is your man.”
    “Thanks ever so much,” said Arona, smiling charmingly and gently wiping the lizard with her paper table napkin before popping it back under her turban.
    Bert grunted and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “We aren’t used to this many folk staying at one time,” he said. “But yeah, welcome all. So, what are you all here for?”
    “It’s to do with a doll, actually,” said Maeve. Shawn Paul looked at her, impressed with her boldness.
    “A key,” said Arona, waving the key in the air.
    Mater stumbled and reached out to the door frame for support.
    “Bloody hell,” said Bert.

    #4757
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The loud throbbing of a Harley Davidson interrupted the unexpected revelation moment.
    A few seconds later, the door banged open and a man with a long moustache, thick eyebrows and a rather bushy hair entered the Inn.

    Fergus?” said Mater, frowning.
    Uncle Fergus?” said Maeve.
    “You old bastard!” said Bert.

    Devan didn’t know the name of the man, but he did manage to infuse his wide open mouth with an interrogation.

    “Who’s Fergus?” asked Dodo, who didn’t want to be left behind.

    The fact that Mater was the first person to pronounce the name of the man didn’t escape Prune’s shrewd mind.
    “How do you know him?” she asked Mater who blushed and used another puff of dust to cough and avoid the question.

    But one surprised all the others, even Fergus.
    “My long lost brother!” said Sanso. He moved forward and hugged the newly arrived man. Truth be told, there was some ressemblance between the two of them.

    Mandrake was looking at Ugo who seemed rather focused on the scene. Something was off, he could feel it. He should warn Arona, but the darn lizard never left her side, or her hair. It was pretty annoying since she would not brush his fur very often now, and he certainly needed some refreshing with all the knots caused by the dryness of the climate.

    #4758
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    It took a while for Franola to get back to the sudden surge of activity. She had to use Finley as an anchor for awhile, since Tiku seemed to have moved out of the picture.
    Franola shook the typo mergence out of her dusty cloud, and resumed being Garnola — — well, Granola.

    She’d picked up interesting stuff on her way to the now overcrowded inn.
    Bits and pieces of a ragtag team of mag’spies on their way to fetch the engraved key, but they seemed to have been distracted by promises of gold on their way from their last known location. She hadn’t stayed too long to check on them, as she’d felt a sudden telepathic attack from the Doctor, and had simply popped out to avoid attracting him into her safe mental spaces.

    Well, without Tiku around the Inn to lend her body for spirit possession, it would be more difficult to verbally warn her friends Maeve and Shawn-Paul, especially caught up as they were in all that dramatic tension.
    She quite liked her new vantage point though. Fisheye view, literally. She could see the whole company, hidden in the eye of the strange fish hanged on the wall.

    A mean looking cat was starting to hiss and snarl at her though. Or maybe that was her mind playing tricks. After all that backstage exploration, she might have been confounded as to whom was doing the snarling.

    #4767
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Jerk was back at the mall from a week’s holiday break. He was surprised to notice the moderation queue to be almost empty. Usually, he would have found AT LEAST three comments a day to moderate.

    “Well, pity that.” he said, sipping his cold peppermint tea. “Summer is a slow season.”

    All his neighbours seemed still gone to some far away places, the residential building was almost empty, if not for the Pekinese dog regularly peeing in front of Lucinda’s door. He’d heard it was probably the stress of his owner being gone for so long. Lucinda didn’t seem to mind the piss stench —her mopping was overall quite modest.

    Good thing there was a misplaced comment. In two clicks, it was promptly rethreaded to the proper place. Of course the author of said comment would have argued with the whole logic, but she probably wouldn’t notice.

    #4772
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    It was ridiculous, outrageous even: trapped in a fictional story… Granola couldn’t believe it at first. But the facts were plain and simple. The walls of the glowing red crystal albeit slightly elastic wouldn’t let her pass.

    It all started when the Doctor launched his experiment, or at least that’s what she surmised from the past few days of observation from inside the crystal. She got to admit the vantage point was interesting, were it not for the red hue tinting everything in her sight. The Doctor was madder than a mad hatter, and kept very strange company.

    At first, she thought it was all inside of a story made up by her friends and that she was safely within the story realm, but of late it seemed it wasn’t as clear cut as it used to be. The Doctor lived in the same dimension as her friends after all; maybe he was the one who’d managed to voyage through dimensions. But Maeve, Shawn-Paul were still in their Australian adventure, at risk from the magpies, and the remote brainwashing; only Lucinda and Jerk were more or less safe for now, but they were trapped in their rut and lacking of inspiration.

    When it started, she had immediately noticed the huge bursts of energy, like waves of dark light, and had wished herself at the source of it, to see what was targeting her friends. In turn, it disrupted the evil machinery, and trapped her in the crystal.

    Mad as he was, the Doctor wasn’t lacking brains. He’d already figured out there was something special about the crystal, and was spending his days observing it ignoring the distractions provided by his beehived coiffed servant.

    She didn’t want to call Ailill for help, this one she’d got to figure out on her own, and fast, or else her friends may soon be in more dire situation.

    #4779
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Jerk was waiting for the courrier to pick-up the documents and deliver the mail before closing down, and while the mall’s activity was still painfully slow, he was observing the tos and fros of the few people outside.
    Summer was on its last leg, and there were signs that the city workers would soon come back. Nothing like cranky business people in addition to cranky old people to spice up your day.

    Maintenance had not come yet. He’d noticed his dead pixel had stopped blinking anyway. Instead it was showing a single red dot.

    The courrier guy arrived at last. “Never a quiet time, man!” he said maybe as a sort of excuse for his tardiness. Maybe Jerk needed to change his own line of work, since the other’s job looked so thrilling. He signed the documents distractedly, and was ready to lower the iron curtain to close the shop when the guy called him back. “Oh wait, I forgot to give you that.”

    Jerk looked at the letter, and opened it to find a postcard. That’s when he remembered he’d given the address of the mall to the mysterious Ms M. from the findmydolls forum. Couldn’t be too careful, there were so many weirdos on the Internet.

    It came from Australia? Half a cup of blue sand was enclosed in a clear plastic wrap bag, along with the postcard.

    The postcard wasn’t saying much, but it was intriguing.

    “No network there, so I’m sending a card. Hope it will reach in time. You must flood your group with fake addresses of dolls. It’ll send mysterious nefarious parties off-track and avoid casualties. Otherwise, lovely weather, beautiful scenery. Ms M.
    PS: Do what you want with the blue powder, I just found it too lovely not to share.”

    #4785
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Not knowing what to do with the powder, Jerk pondered for a moment, then recalled a tradition from India that he’d seen on a documentary or in a magazine; taking the blue sand, he started to pour it on the ground to draw a rangoli in the shape of a feather. He clearly wasn’t very experienced at sandpainting, and the drawing looked more like a stick in an old worn sock, but he was glad that it could illuminate somehow the bland and cold fake marble at the entrance of the mall.

    :fleuron2:

    Granola was starting to get anxious in her red crystal. It wasn’t very comfortable. She thought she could just adjust her mental size to make it more spacious, but it was automatically adjusting. She was starting to feel desperate when she noticed a blue thing with the shape of a deflated condom glowing on one of the sides of the crystal.
    The imprint of a magical act of grace she could hear vibrating. The vibration was slow and steady. She could guess she needed two, or maybe three, more of these symbols to resonate properly and break the crystal open.

    #4786
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Shawn-Paul was quizzing Maeve who remained silent as a dignified statue of old, full of inscrutable enigma.

    “Come on Maeve, you know you can trust me. These secrets are killing me! It’s not like I’m going to write them immediately in my book you know. Believe me I’d like to, but I’m probably going to procrastinate anyway, so telling me is like going to a priest, your Uncle’s secrets are going to be safe.”

    She chuckled against her will. There was something endearing in the awkwardness of Shawn-Paul, and if anything he’d been a complete gentleman throughout their stay in the shabby Inn.

    She didn’t trust the paper-thin walls however. And especially after the incident where they all blacked out, she wasn’t sure whom to trust. Some of the guests had disappeared too. Highly suspicious.

    She’d decided to pack early. She’d found out later after the accident that her Uncle had managed to slip 2 new coupons for their next destination. One extra, in case she wanted to bring someone in.

    Two tickets, each one way to Tikfijikoo. Most probably the way to a second doll and its key.

    She wondered why it was at all important, she knew all the dolls and what they looked like. She’d made them!

    She realized, looking back at the doll she’d managed to steal back from Lucinda, that this particular doll… was not at all imaginary! She had in fact been standing right in front of her all along these past days before leaving off to the mines and disappearing with Mr Sanso: It was a spitting likeness of Ms Idle, the dry drunk hostess of the Inn!

    It seems… It was folly to imagine, but… Did she have the power to activate these dolls she’d made, and somehow materialize them?!

    She had to be sure.

    “Pack your bags, SP, and meet me in the lobby in ten minutes. The cab is picking us up to our next destination. Maybe you’ll get your novel done after all”, she added, with a wink.

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