Strings of Nines

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    “The dancing class is tomorrow, are you getting the days muddled up again, dear?” Becky gently reminded Tina. “Today is Rhymes Day”


    “I must say, your voice is rather sexy though Tina, very husky.”


    Tina sighed AND rolled her eyes. A charming habit which she was not able to rid herself of.

    Becky, she said in a slow and careful voice. She sighed again. If I may use an expression from my home land of Noo Zooland, trying to keep you on track is worse than herding bloody sheep.


    “I love it when you talk nonsense in that sexy voice, Tina!” said Sam, unexpectedly poking his head round the door. “Say something rude!”

    Tina rolled her eyes again, and harumphed.


    “It’s the 57th Creative Challenge theme, so I have to do it,” Ann remarked to her editor. “Obviously”, she added.

    “What do you mean, obviously?” asked her editor (Ann had forgotten his new name in the second book, and toyed breifly with the idea of making up a new one ~ perhaps Rumbold the Pale?)

    “Well, I would have thought that was obvious, Godfrey!” Ann replied tartly, secretly delighted that she’d remembered the old boy’s name. Notwithstanding, Ann continued to make little ‘cuh’ and ‘tut’ noises, and rolled her eyes a bit, until Godfrey eventually replied.

    “Spiggot on the spike freak, Lingenburg Dash”.

    “I beg your pardon?” Ann looked at Godfrey in astonishment. “Holy Moly, I said that earlier myself, whatever does it mean?”

    “I haven’t got a clue, dear,” he replied. “Just popped into my head, you know, how it does…” His voice trailed off as he stared into space.

    “I’ll google it.” As Ann started the search, she realized she’d completely forgotten that she was doing the 57th Creative Challenge entry. “Blimey O Riley, what am I LIKE” she said to herself, with a wry grin ~ she wasn’t altogether sure what wry meant, but somehow she felt it was wry ~ “Now what was the theme again?”

    “Misery Loves Company” Godfrey piped up. “And dare I say, it’s rather obvious what has occurred here.”

    “What do you mean, obvious?” retorted Ann, somewhat snarkily, although nowhere near as snarkily as Lavender might have said it.

    Godfrey resisted the urge to respoond with a few little ‘cuh’s’ and ‘tut’s’, and chose to simply smile enigmatically.

    Ann scowled at her old freind and said “If you don’t spell it out, you maddening old coot, I’ll write you out of this story. I’ll delete you.”

    “You can write me out of YOUR story if you wish, but I may continue to write YOU into MY story.”

    “Oh Gawd, WHAT?” Ann said to herself. “Where did that come from?”

    “Ann, let me explain.”

    “You sound just like Elias, Godfrey!”

    “Ha! Ha! Ha!”


    “Now shut up and pay attention”

    Elias would never say that”

    “That’s YOU saying that, Ann, to yourself,” said Godfrey.

    YOU said that Godfrey, it’s right here in black and white!” retorted Ann.

    “It’s never black and white, Ann, and it’s only here in black and white as ME saying it because YOU wrote it.”

    “Well there’s no answer to that” replied Ann. She went to put the kettle on.

    Ann returned to her computer with a steaming mug of tea.

    “Now, shall we get back to the point, Ann?” inquired Godfrey, with a wry grin.

    “I must look up that word later”, Ann mused. “I seem to be inordinately fond of the word wry tonight, I wonder why. I Wonder Wry…”

    ANN!” Godfrey shouted. “Back to the point!”

    Ann looked pained. “What point?”

    “The point of this story, and the obvious occurence therein.”

    “Welp, you’ve lost me there, Gordon, there was a point?”

    “Oh My God, this could go on all night” Gordon was wringing his hands.

    “Good God Gordon, didn’t see you come in!” exclaimed Godfrey.

    Ann was giggling helplessly. She was rather pleased with the way she covered her faux pas over the editors name.

    “‘Ann was giggling helplessly’; you see Ann, there is your clue!” Godfrey said excitedly, as he read aloud what Ann had just written.

    “OH! NOW I get it! D’oh! Nonsense loves company! Giggling loves company! No wonder I couldn’t stay focused on misery!”


    Godfrey resisted the urge to respoond…”

    Ann was initially horrified to notice the Ooh dimension bleethrough manifested in an errant vowel.


    Then she saw the funny side.


    When she’d finished seeing the funny side she noticed the time was 1:11


    “You mean you’ve finished seeing the funny side?” asked Godfrey and Gordon in unison.

    NEVER!” replied Ann firmly.


    “Well, you’re not going to make Franlise believe you outdid yourself in Continuity Course by stringing a slew of comments all made by yourself in less than an hour darling” Godfrey said Ann, wishing he would have briefed her more about being an infallible agent-double for the Fellowship

    “And there are risks you know” he said lowering his voice “if they unmask you, they may do something dreadful, perhaps even go as far as a character annihilation…”
    “Sometimes I fear you take our reality just too lightly” Godfrey continued with a misery look on his face. “If you really want to bring down the Fellowship, you got to be more cautious to first understand how they work.”

    Godfrey didn’t know why, but it suddenly felt as though all the subtleties of the dangers involved in this mission somewhat (if not completely) eluded the befuddled Ann.


    “Never mind the Fellowflip now Gordon” Ann said exitedly, brandishing a letter. “Or are you Godfrey? Well, whoever you are, look at this! It’s a letter from that fat A. Morgana from Anatrica!”

    “And where, pray tell, is Anatrica?”

    Ann looked shocked. “Why, it’s south of Antartica, eveyone knows that!”


    Ann opened the letter from Morgana and read:

    “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.”

    “Good God” said Ann, momentarily nonplussed.


    The newly deceased Shar and Gor

    “Shouldn’t he say something less grim you think?”
    “I definitely agree my dear Shar
    “Something like in-ceased, or up-ceased… We’re ascended after all!”
    “I’m not so sure it sounds better, but…”

    Well, them being up-ceased, involved a new challenge for the writer(s) of this story, as the two blusterously boisterous ladies were in a desperate move to attempt sending communication to the objective world —officially to discover the extent of their influence. Their new-found access to the collective subconscious made them all the more a trouble for the writer(s).

    Anyway, as we speak, Shar and Glor, were… or are actually trying to influence some characters and hence co-authors of this work of fiction to test their own ability to manipulate some of these individuals.

    So far the extent of their experiments had fared tepid results.

    “OK. Let’s try with these two. I’m beaming something down to them!”

    To which, moments and some non-physical sweating on Glor’s brow later, one of the two subjects of this experiment (the blond one) blurted out without knowing from where it came: “Spiggot on the spike freak, Lingenburg Dash

    “What the hell was that Glor?”
    “Good Lord, I don’t have any idea!”
    “What was it supposed to be then!?”
    “I just beamed them ‘Speaking now without mike – leap if you ain’t dead’!”
    “Good grief… Those two might as well be hopeless…”

    Of course, unbeknown to them, in other potential realities, what she really beamed to them was entirely different; something like ‘Speaking now – dead to the living – leap and bound if you catch’… Subsequently, Ann’s catch was in fact an indication of great disposition to tune into more than one probabilities at a time, the benefits of which were lost to the poor dabbling souls.

    But this point notwithstanding, as they were speaking, another potential just appeared at the horizon. A woman named Yoland, with an improbable ability to express strings of thoughts inspired from above (anywhere that ‘above’ might be) without much distortion.

    “Have to tread carefully with that one, Glor
    “Yes, I reckon dear…”
    “We could even manage to fully channel her body, she seems a perfect candidate!” Sharon would have rubbed her hands with glee if she’d had hands still.
    “Innit a bore though that she would ask for such grand truths…”
    “Not to worry, we’ll invent them as we walk. I’ve even got an idea for session one with her: the great cluster of Mamarose of energy essential oils.”


    When Phoebe had recovered all her memories she’d felt particularly annoyed at the Baron snatching her prize from her.
    So far, that crystal skulls quest had been only a disaster. She’d been warned, but the temptation had been too great for her.

    Now, she wanted to get back as soon as possible (which was her nicest way of saying “NOW”) to her dimensional interstitial home —that place that uninformed people would have called her evil lair, but that she preferred to think of as her little cottage.

    However, to be able to travel through interdimensional puddles would have required to gain some speed, and without something like a tuned motorbike, it wouldn’t be easy nor practical. She hadn’t got that much time to spend on recreating her tools from scratch.
    Brilliant as she were, it would still have required at least a few weeks, and the days she’d spent at this place had already been far too much to her taste for her to suffer one more —handcuffs entertainment notwithstanding.

    Her hopes were high that Vincentius, her talking parrot would find her and bring her the key that was needed.

    Then she would focus on her next quest. The artifacts of Rumbold the Pale, the famous Byzantine architect from the Renaissance.


    Yoland awoke feeling disgruntled. The uncomfortable dreams of feeling left out, left alone and bored beyone endurance lingered throughout the morning. In a peculiar melding of dream and reality, Dan had woken her requesting her assistance in his preparations for a days outing, which didn’t include Yoland. The dream details were already vague, but the feeling was strong, the feeling of being bored and alone ~ wasted somehow, as if all her lust for life was withering away on a back burner, evaporating, as she mooched through her days, accomplishing little (or so it seemed), endlessly frustrated with the clutter and disorganization that was her world, yearning for the life, LIFE that was full of LIFE, that she used to have. What had happened to her sense of adventure? Where had all her fun friends gone?

    “Eh Sha, emergency transmission required ‘ere pronto!” Gloria shouted to Sharon. “Yoland needs some inspiration, toot sweet, get yer arse in gear!”

    “Oh bloody ‘ell, Glor! Not a-bloody-gain! Not ‘er, she never bloody listens anyway, that one!” replied Sharon, disgruntled. “This isn’t as easy as I ‘spected it to be, getting the messages through, is it?”

    “Well, why don’t you look on it as a challenge?”

    “Pfft, more like ‘ard bloody work, if you ask me.”

    “Eh, you daft tart, you’re channeling HER! You’re sposed to be sending HER some words of inspiration, not the other bloody way round!” Gloria exclaimed. “Beats me how you ever got your ascension pass, how you got through I’ll never know.”

    “Oh they let any Tom Dick or Harry in these days, Glor, they relaxed the rules you know, well did away with the rules, and what happens when you do away with the rules? Floundering, that’s bloody what. Floundering.”

    “Is that a fish sync?”


    The word flounder popped into Yolands head, and for want of the inspiration to do anything meaningful, or even useful, she googled flounder. She was astonished to find so many varieties of flounder, and recognized that she was counterparting with quite a number of them.


    There was the Crosseyed flounder that she felt an affinity for, at the end of an evening of trying to sort out her photos; Alcock’s narrow-body righteye flounder, which was what she felt like in a bed full of male dogs every night, and she could relate to the Antarctic armless flounder when she couldn’t keep track of the Antarctic thread. Barfin flounder reminded her of the green icon and her friend Finn; Bigmouth flounder ~ Yoland sighed, she definitely felt a connection to that often enough. Blotched flounder, well that sounded a bit like botched ~ there were many occasions when Yoland felt that everything she did was botched, half done and messy. Chain-mail wide-eyed flounder when she dabbled a bit in past lives, and the Disc flounder when she got her music in a muddle. The Dark flounders were the worst, when everything seemed to take on the tone of a horror movie, but they were often followed by a Deep flounder, which sometimes contained a few insights, more often than not promptly forgotten.


    Yoland sighed. Imagine counterparting with just about every flounder known to man! She decided she wasn’t the only one counterparting the European flounder, which was a releif, nor was she the only one counterparting the Fantail flounder, although at least it could be said that she wasn’t a complete fan of anyone in particular, dead or alive, she was a fantail of quite a number. There were long spells of resonating with the Finless flounder; Finn was always disappearing, or so it seemed to Yoland. Very rarely she felt an alignment with God’s flounder, thankfuly she wasn’t often prone to dwelling on God things.


    Ah, the Gray flounder, yes she’d had a bit of a flounder when Gray sent all those photos of the Beltane Dance, she’d had a flounder for sure in amongst all those. Looking back though, she’d had fun with the mummy and Ella Tindale in the Gulf flounder…


    Yoland had to laugh when she came across the Intermediate flounder. Yoland wondered if the majority of her foundering was counterparting with the Intermediate flounder and decided she was probably too intermediate to work it out objectively anyway. She often had a tussle with the Large tooth flounder, lordy, she was always floundering with dental issues. And the Largescale flounder, that really was the biggest ongoing flounder of them all, the sheer vastness of everything.


    Every now and again, less than previously though, Yoland had a Melbourne flounder on Saturday nights, and rather enjoyed it, but not as much as she enjoyed a good old New Zealand flounder.


    Another flounder Yoland always enjoyed was an Olive wide-eyed flounder, roaming around the ancient olive trees of Andalucia, wide eyed and awestruck with the beauty and history of the place. She also enjoyed a Peruvian flounder on occasion, too ~ she’d even had a dream recently about floundering around by the mysterious doorway of Amaru Muru. The next night she’d had a River flounder, dreaming of the river in the Grand Canyon.


    Sand flounders were the best of all though, Yoland recalled many happy flounderings in the world of sand and all its Subulmantium configurations. The trouble with the sand flounder was that it often morphed into the largescale flounder, and got quite out of hand.


    Yoland sighed, it had been ages since she’d felt connected to the Seven pelvic ray flounder, what with Dan working nights. She was beginning to feel like a Shelf flounder. However, at least thanks to her new diet of replacing meals with flans, chocolate mousses and ice cream, she was closely aligning now with the Slender flounder.


    The ongoing slug issue with the cat food was obviously because she was still strongly aligned with the Slime flounder. Notwithstanding, Yoland was rather pleased to note that despite her morose and petulant mood this morning, it had to be said that she often counterparted with the Smooth flounder; although that was easy to forget in moments of quiet desperation when the floundering got out of proportion.


    Smiling, Yoland remembered the dream of feet touching when she noticed there was a Sole flounder too. And how often the Spotted flounder popped up, she was always spotting clues. Well spotted! she would tell herself. Oh, and the Stone flounder, wasn’t that the truth! Yoland was aligning strongly with that lately, smoking more than ever, somehow striving for either inspiration, or perhaps oblivion.


    Oh well, I guess this is just a Summer flounder, it will pass, Yoland decided (who was secretly glad that she was nearing the end of the list of flounder names). And sure enough, the next on the list was the Three spotted flounder, surely a good sign! A probability change perhaps! As if to validate Yolands impression, she noticed the Tile-colored righteye flounder. There was even a Warthog flounder, which seemed to ring a bell with a recent entry to the Reality Play.


    Best of all was the Windowpane flounder, Yoland felt she would even go so far as to say that this was her new focus animal. Well, she thought, if I am making this all up, I can make that up too!


    Thankfully Yoland reached the end of the flounder list, rather pleased that it had ended on such an amusing and encouraging note.

    Being closely aligned with flounders wasn’t such a bad thing after all.



    “There!” announced Sharon triumphantly. “‘Ow was that, then?”

    “‘Ow was what, Sha?” asked Gloria, frowning.

    “I inspired ‘er, I got the message through!”

    “That aint proper inspired channeling, you daft cow, that’s nonsense! Yeah, you got a message through, but talk about distortion! Blimey, Sha, that aint enlightened channeling, that’s just more rubbish!” Gloria said, disparagingly.

    “I ‘ate to tell you this, our Glor, but it’s YOU what aint enlightened. That was me new Distraction Tactics, and if I do say so myself, it worked a treat.”

    “Distraction Tactics? Aint she scattered enough already? It’s direction and focus what she wants, not more blimmen distractions!”

    “You just aint getting it, are you, our Glor?” Sharon replied. “Answer me this, you enlightened tart, how’s she supposed to find any focus or direction if she’s pushing her energy in a hundred directions at once looking for meaning? Wait a minute, I tripped meself up there,” Sharon corrected herself, “What I meant to say was, why would she need a direction in the first place? She’s going where she’s going, and that’s direction enough.”

    “Well you answer me this then, if the direction she’s going in is enough, why did she wake up disgruntled?” Gloria retorted, adding “Rude tart” under her breath.

    “I ‘eard that!”

    “Well? What’s yer answer to that then, eh?”

    “‘Ang on a minute, lemme see if I can channel God’s Flounder fer some answers.” replied Sharon, closing her eyes, and starting to breathe noisily and purposefully.

    “Oh fer Gawds sake, Sha, not that bloody breathing again. We all knows ‘ow to breathe already, honestly, it’s as if breathing’s just been invented or something. And not only that” she added “You’re dead, why are you breathing anyway?”

    “Eh, good point, our Glor” said Sharon opening her eyes. “I’m wondering now if the dead are supposed to channel for answers, aren’t we supposed to HAVE all the answers?” Sharon was confused.

    “Well I dunno about HAVING all the answers, Sha, but we’re supposed to be able to access them, aren’t we? Then pass ‘em on to the living ~ those what’ll listen, that is.”

    “I think we’re making a mistake here, Gloria, but I can’t put my finger on it. Who’s our Oversoul anyway? Aint they supposed to be guiding us here?”

    “I think we’re both focuses of the Great Flounder, our Sha.”

    “Oh blimey” her freind replied. “P’raps we aint been dead long enough yet, to know what we’re doing, like.”

    “How can you be ‘long enough’ if there aint no time anyway, that’s what I want to know.”

    “Well there’s one thing I do know about being dead” said Sharon, brightening up, “We can ‘think’ ourselves anywhere at all. So whatddya say we go somewhere else and forget all this floundering?”

    “Bloody good idea, where shall we go?”

    “Oh dear, unlimited choices are so difficult, aren’t they? I don’t know where I want to go!”

    “Follow me then, Sha!” Gloria suggested, and in an instant the pair of them were standing in a field in Dyffryn .


    “Oops, I got me directions wrong again” said Gloria, “I think we’re a trifle overdressed. I weren’t aiming fer the nudist beach, I was aiming fer the prehistoric cairns.”

    “Trust you to land us ‘ere, Glor!” Sharon replied, averting her eyes from the spectacle or milk bottle white flesh and unappetizing dangly bits. “Speaking of tea bags, I fancy a nice cuppa.”


    “No bloody tea bag icon” grumbled Gloria.


    As soon as Yoland finished the flounder list, her phone rang. It was her mother, Gretchen, calling from Wales to tell her about the cottage in Dyffryn she was thinking of buying. Yoland googled Dyffryn, and was intrigued to find numerous prehistoric cairns in the vicinity.



    Franlise was unusually despondent. She flicked half heartedly through the last pages of Ann’s novel, looking for some sort of common thread which she could cleverly take hold of and expand upon, in order to provide the necessary continuity.

    Daunted by the formidable proportions of her task, her thoughts turned instead to the strange man who had followed her that afternoon. Her attempts to lose him had failed, and, in the end, she had thought it best to delay her appointment with the Fellowship. Perhaps the man was just lured by her beauty, but she knew she could not risk exposure.

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