Strings of Nines

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        Santiago, Chile, May 2020

        For the last past years, Becky now a pretty young teenager had been traveling from one school to another to pursue her artistic aspiration, but more so to discover as many places as possible. Schools were a necessary evil, for as long as she was too young to choose without her father’s consent, but at least she could choose which one she wanted to go to.
        Although she barely remembered it now, she already did a fair deal of traveling out of the body when she was younger, helping her to map out the places and order in which she wanted to see them later. All of that subjective programming of sorts was now extremely helpful to her forgetful nature, as all she needed do was to trust her impulses to go here and there.
        She would then magically find a distant relative who had been lost in the far ends of the family tree, or a friend of a friend who would accept to host her or recommend her to a friend. From there, her open nature and smiles did the rest to win them over.

        In a month from now, she would be eighteen, and she wanted to go somewhere else, perhaps settle down for a little while. She had taken a world map and thrown a few coloured pins to let randomness choose for her, as she trusted it was her proper way of essence, so to speak. To her surprise, none of the pins seemed to stick but a single one in the vicinity of New York. America wasn’t her natural choice of predilection, but she knew she could trust the random flow of events. And to top that, she knew her aunt Charmille was living there. It would be easy then.


        Charmille was the elder sister of Sabine Baina N’Diaye, Becky’s mother and first wife of Dan. She was a middle-aged eccentric and cheerful lady, who had never married, proudly saying that it was what had kept her young at heart. She was living in Brooklyn with a dozen birds twittering all day, and a few cats and other creatures the neighbours would give her to care for while they were away.

        When she learnt that her niece would come here for three months, she first thought that it was a darn long time to be nice to anybody. But then she smiled and went preparing the spare room and brush the cats’ hair off the sheets.


          Arthur Bickerswell-Snodley had been delighted to receive Ann’s invitation to stay with her at Little Big Hopeswell for the May Day weekend. He hadn’t seen Ann for 570 years, although they had remained in contact through the years, at first by old fashioned handwritten letters, and later by email —as well, of course, by telepathic means and out of body rendezvous— but this was to be an actual physical visit.

          Arthur travelled by train to Chipping Else Hampton, where Jibblington, Ann’s chauffeur and general dogsbody, met him in the old jalopy, a rather grand old Silver Ghost Rolls.
          Jibblington, it must be stated, worked part time for Ann, as did the enigmatic cleaning lady, Franlise — both were merely aspects of much larger personalities elsewhere engaged in myriad pursuits. Jibblington was a much of a mystery to Ann as dear Franlise was, not to mention old Godfrey Pig Littleton. Godrey’s flooh, in point of fact, had been the catalyst behind Ann’s invitation to Arthur.

          While Jibblington and Bickerswell-Snodley glided along the country lanes, cushioned and buoyant in the silver car’s plush, if a trifle vulgar, crimson upholstery, Ann tutted in exasperation as Godfrey pestered her to finish her latest entry to the Play.

          “I haven’t finished it yet, Godfrey, sheesh!” she exclaimed. “OK, OK!” Godfrey was rather rudely drumming his fingers on her desk. “Here, you can read what I’ve written so far.”



          “And leave the boys to Gustav! You’re brilliant Shar!”

          WHAT bloody boys, Gloria?” Sharon replied, scratching her head.

          “Well you introduced them” Interrupted Godfrey.

          To which Ann replied: :yahoo_wasntme:

          “I can’t believe” laughed Sharon “That I forgot all about me ‘usband!”

          “I take that back Godfrey” Ann was always willing to admit when she was wrong. “I did introduce them, and I’d forgotten all about them.”

          Godfrey sneezed, and disappeared from view.

          “So rude the way he just blinks off like that” Ann muttered.


            Meanwhile, back in the Elsespace Arrangement, another probable Becky was pushing coloured pins in a map of the known physical world in an attempt to plan her next possible probable journey. The first pin had landed squarely on New York, but the pin had inexplicably promptly fallen off the map, landing in the dark green foliage of the potted Aspidistra. Probable Becky had a box of 100 little coloured pins, so she chose another pin, closed her eyes, turned round three times, and stuck another pin on the map.



              “Arthur, DAHling, how good of you to come!” Ann hugged her old freind.

              “Ann!” Arthur smiled broadly, his grey eyes twinkling merrily. “You don’t look a day over 3757 years old, how do you do it!”

              “Oh, Arthur” Ann blushed “Go on with you! You’re looking rather sprightly yourself, for an old coot. Come on inside, the new cook’s preparing a snack lunch, you must be hungry after your trip. Tajine von Snork’s her name, and she makes a mean bacon buttie. Jibblington will see to your luggage.”



                It had been rather a bold move on Tajine’s part, especially as she was a new member of the staff at Little Big Hopeswell, but an ingenious one, or so she thought. Tajine always aimed to please; nothing gave her more pleasure than to arrange wonderful little surprises for people based on her assumptions of what would please them. In her few short weeks with Ann, she couldn’t help but notice the disparaging remarks her publisher, Pig Littleon, habitually made about Ann’s work. The last straw for Tajine had been when Godfrey referrred to Ann’s streams of thought as ‘incoherent’, and it was at that point that the plan began to form in her mind.

                “Compliments to the new cook! I must say, that was the most delicious bacon sandwich I have ever tasted,” remarked Arthur, wiping his lips with a napkin. “You must ask Tajine where she buys her bacon, it has an enticingly subtle hint of peanut, quite delicious!”



                Jane had been found unconscious in a small creek in Australia, with little on her but a few wet dollars, scribbled papers in a plastic bag, and a bank account number that was later found to be in the Cayman Islands. Her real name wasn’t probably Jane at all, but of course amnesiac people had to be called something, and that or Sheila…

                :crystal-skull: During her recovery at the hospital, she’d had flashes of unsettling things that the doctors had told her were certainly repressed memories. Somehow people around her seemed to believe that forgetting everything was a blessing, but to her it seemed it was her bane for a long long time.


                When she opened her plastic bag with the pink fish pattern on it to count how much money she had left to pay for that trip to the Cayman Islands, Jane could have sworn that there was anything else altogether than the last time she’d checked.

                Was her amnesia playing tricks on her? There was now a credit card instead of the wet stack of dollar bills, and a paper with a few numbers jotted down on it in place of the previous account number —maybe a PIN number?…

                Puzzled for a moment, she wondered if that was a sign. After all that thinking she’d had the past night, about what to do, and how she didn’t feel like moving already, there was a new set of possibilities opening for her.
                She was almost done distractedly packing the few personal belongings she had gathered during her weeks of convalescence when somebody knocked lightly on the door.
                Even if she’d not already recognized the footsteps, she knew who it was and blushed spotting in the wall mirror a few wild hair in her otherwise perfect blond hairdo.
                Mark Devoiteur was the man who had found her stranded on the beach, and had taken her to the hospital. He’d been checking on her every day since, and was visibly attracted by her.

                She folded the plastic bag in her handbag and closed the little suitcase. She was ready to go.


                Sheila, hang on a moment will you? There is something I need to tell you. Actually there is no easy way to say this so I am just going to have to blurt it out.

                Go on then … said Jane carefully, thinking how pale and anxious Mark looked, and wondering if she should tell him her name was not Sheila. She resisted a sudden impulse to reach out and adjust the toupee which had fallen slightly forward on his forehead.

                Although, as you will be aware, I am visibly attracted to you .. I am leaving tomorrow on a mission across the ditch to Noo Zooland.

                Noo Zooland! Jane gasped. That godforsaken place!

                Yes, unfortunately so. I have been asked to investigate an outbreak of the flu on a peanut farm. It is dangerous work Sheila, amongst the savages of Noo Zooland, and I don’t know how long I will be away for. The quarantine regulations are ridiculously strict. What else can you expect of a little backwater like Noo Zooland eh?

                So this is goodbye? her voice trembled.

                I am afraid so. At least for now. But I will never forget you, Sheila.


                Visibly a bit distraught for a moment, Jane checked in her handbag what was in the plastic bag. There now conveniently were a few handkerchiefs and a map.


                  Yoland decided to have another go at the Pink Radio Exercise with a few online freinds.

                  (I’m procrastinating over turning this damn radio on…) she typed.

                  ~ special effects from Franz E ~
                  (that’s what I just heard and we didn’t say START yet)


                  (I’m procrastinating over turning this damn radio on…)

                  ~ you see you weren’t listening. I said special effects from Franz E and you stopped listening immediately. ~ (well I was writing it down) ~
                  ~ (mans voice) …, and you don’t know whether or not to listen, do you… I didnt think so, off you go ~ (then a football match can you beleive it, can’t get off the football station) ~ and this is the whether station again, whether or not we want to listen ~ (mind wanders) ~ and the whether is changable ~ (mans voice sounds amused)

                  (Its channel 46 FWIW, I just asked him. And his name is either Roy or Gilroy. Gilroy.)

                  ~ Gilroy Spadhammer ~ (now he’s laughing)

                  (ok lets see if I can move off the whether and football channels…..)

                  ~ the whether is stabilizing ~ GOAL! ~ song: we’re all going on a summer holiday ~ Wakefield Pressman (solemn male voice)~

                  Yoland was sidetracked then by Teleport Moll’s sudden appearance, and forgot all about Wakefield Pressman.


                    ~ “We are broadcasting today from planet Xavier.”~ wrote Rich Kendall, who was also online having a go at the radio exercise. ~ “The Happiness index on the Xavier stock exchange has gone up 75 points. It seems that a fellow named Morris Fishbaum has decided to stop berating himself for his supposed failures in the past, and has embraced a new self image. This change in Mr. Birnbaum has had a ripple effect automatically lifting up many others who also had been dwelling on past “mistakes.” Mr. Fishbaum’s metamorphosis leads analysts to forecast a new all time high for the Happiness Index within the next month. That’s the story from the Xavier financial markets and have a nice day.” ~

                    He continued: ~ “Morris Fishbaum is alive and well and living off the coast of Gibraltar
                    And rumor has it Morris has become very good friends with a local celebrity in Gibraltar that shall not be named except for the initials TM” ~

                    “Otherwise known as Teleport Moll”, Yoland pointed out.

                    ~ “Roy Gilroy was also mentioned in an article as to spending lots of time with Morris Fishbaum but that’s a whole other story.” ~


                    “Don’t be silly Phoebe” a voice whispered in Jane’s ear in between a few copious sneezing.

                    Jane didn’t really know why, but suddenly the whole scene about Mark leaving her became essentially a farce. She could feel some sort of burlesque in that whole event that would have been difficult to explain. As though she would never have really cared for the man, or any other man in the world to provide for herself.

                    She was starting to feel different. She could feel a strong assurance building up, and even her body started to feel different.
                    Still, she couldn’t tell who she was; there was still that dark hazy cloud the shadow of which was cast over her memories, but it wasn’t from her memories that this sudden surge of power was coming. It was coming from deeper inside; the very core of her being, and it was making her different.

                    She reached for the pocket mirror in her bag to apply a fresh layer of make-up on her plump cheeks and blue eyes.
                    She didn’t notice the differences right away. One sometimes gets caught in the repetitiveness of usual and mundane actions and really forgets to see. And of course, the mirror’s size and angle was preventing her to see anything but her eyes if she didn’t think to use it differently. But her eyes were now different; not deep blue as before but a subtle shade of ash blue with hints of violet.
                    And then… She noticed the wrinkles. The plump cheeks had left place to a thinner face. Strangely, she found it even prettier.
                    And as she expressed this appreciation of her new features, she noticed that her blond mane was now a little more greyish.

                    She knew it wasn’t aging, and no she wasn’t delusional. She didn’t remember her name, but apparently she knew how to shape-shift.
                    Would it make her quest to remember her identity more difficult? She couldn’t have told, but she knew that something in her never forgot a single bit of her whole self.
                    That new self she was now who felt more like her real self than “Jane” needed a more adequate name.
                    Phoebe definitely had a ring to it that seemed appropriate.


                    Mark knocked tentatively.

                    “Sheila?” he poked his head around the door.

                    “Sheila? … oh excuse me!” he apologised. “I was looking for Sheila. I thought she might still be here ..”

                    His voice trailed off as he looked at the woman standing before him. She looked so familiar and yet he couldn’t for the life of him place her.

                    Bugger! thought Phoebe. This is an entertaining turn of events. What is he doing back here?

                    As if to answer her unspoken question Mark explained that he had missed the flight to Noo Zooland, and knew that he was making an awful mistake he would regret for the rest of his life if he did not find Sheila and see if they had a chance together. Did Phoebe know where she had gone?

                    Phoebe smiled kindly at the anxious and visibly lovelorn Mark.

                    “I think you will find she hasn’t got far. Why don’t you wait here with my parrot, Vincentius, and I will go and see if I can find her for you.”

                    Mark looked expectantly around the room for Vincentius, but failed to see any sign of him. “Your parrot?” he queried.

                    Phoebe laughed. “Silly old me! What am I like eh? Of course, Vincentius has yet to make it through the portal. Don’t worry, he will be here soon.”

                    She chuckled to herself as she left the room.


                      “Now would you believe you were actually worried for her?” she told Georges, raising from the sand of the Kandulim where they were doing some people remote-gazing.
                      “Well, for a moment I was, and you know that Salome. Even if we have not followed the same path, ours have crossed a few times, and I’m grateful for what she taught me in the beginning.”
                      “I know, although I never really got that part of her… well other than from your experiences I mean.”
                      “She even starts to remember her parrot, that was quite unexpected.”
                      “ Do you believe she’ll be able to travel out of that other dimension easily?”
                      “I don’t know… After that bravado escape from the Baron’s submarine, and the rough sea, I supposed she would need more time to recover and bring herself together, but she seems to have taken care of that in an interesting manner.”
                      “Look! Ahahaha”
                      “Did you notice she stole the poor guy’s cufflinks! She’s so mean ahahah, she never got past those magpie’s instincts”


                      Phoebe popped her head back in the room where Mark was waiting.

                      “I am ever so sorry, Sheila must have left for the Cayman Islands already. Anyway, here, I found these lovely cufflinks, but really, as I am sure you will appreciate, have no use for them myself. Would you like them dear?”

                      Without giving the visibly bemused Mark time to refuse, Phoebe was off again.

                      She wondered if she had been wise giving away the cufflinks. Not to worry, she thought philosphically, I still have the handcuffs. They might come in useful at some stage.


                      Georges, I think Franlise is playing again with the script to sexy it up.”
                      “What do you say precious? Have some grogonut juice”
                      “I don’t know… Did I mention anything about handcuffs? My head is in a fog right now about all these details…”



                        F LoveF Love

                          Franlise read the message from the Fellowship with mixed emotions.

                          The Fellowship congratulates and thanks you for your continuity work on the script. We acknowledge the extreme difficulties you contend with as you face erratic forces resistant to any form of continuity and seeking only to create meaningless threads. The Fellowship also advises the script will be even further improved if you could sexy it up a bit.


                            Fell o’ the ship

                            Yann had the strangest impression of a big splash happening somewhere and of seagulls cries.

                            Maybe a mermaid or two could help this one

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