The Chronicles of the Flying Fish Inn

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      I never could stand the sight of it. For as long as I remember, which is no more than 6 years, admittedly, the odd-looking fish had been preserved and placed above the fake stucco fireplace. It’s been here for much longer, though. You can tell by the thickness of the dust covering it. My friend Bert, that old chap, told me so.
      He has told me many other stories about the town, about my family, and their glorious past. It could just have been no more than stories, but I believe him —for no reason, really. Maybe only because my sisters find him slightly creepy and old. Anyway, I like him.

      In his stories, the fish had fallen many years ago from the sky. There had been rain this summer day, which was, in itself, even less believable than some oddly shaped flying fish falling from the sky. And that fish had fallen in front of what was the private mansion of the Curara family. Our ancestor found it, and decided to take it as a sign of the Almighty that they would be blessed with abundance forever after… But then, everything went downside with fantastic speed. The gold rush stopped in its tracks, the town slowly got deserted, and since then, our family started to believe that it was more a curse than a blessing. However, nobody ever bothered to get rid of the fish that once flew.

      Maybe they were waiting for another one to appear to break the string of unfortunate events. I always think of all the amusing ways I could get rid of it without anybody noticing. April’s fools wouldn’t do… Too easy. But having it served at dinner would be a start. Sadly, with Aunt Idle’s poor cooking skills, there was no chance a fish could come unnoticed.

      So it was on that particular day when I’d found and written down on my secret diary a 222nd way of getting rid of the fish, it was on that particular and fateful day, that everything changed again for the Curara family.

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        I showed Finly to her room. I have put her in room 10 — opposite Mr What’s-his-name, the guest — which is the nicest guest room in the house and one of the few which Fred got round to doing up before he left.

        On the spur of the moment I asked her if she believed in ghosts. She looked at me intently and said “There’s a lot we don’t understand. I can’t say I believe or disbelieve.” And that was it. I didn’t press it further. She is a serious girl but her references were excellent and I think she will be a hard worker. Not one to take nonsense from anyone.

        I asked her if she would like the day off tomorrow to settle in and suggested she could start her duties on Wednesday.

        “I can see I have my work cut out here,” she said. “The sooner I get started the better.”

        And dear God we need some help around here, I thought.

        The other day I caught Dido throwing gin all over herself and laughing. I am concerned I will need to call mental health services soon. I didn’t say anything at the time — I don’t think she saw me. I have been annoyed with her in the past for her lackadaisical attitude towards caring for the kids, but when I saw the poor demented thing throwing gin at herself, well, for the first time I felt really sorry for her.


          I don’t know what possessed Mater, but I like the new version of her.
          She’s a true inspiration. The way she commandeers, how she pays attention to the little things. If she wasn’t so wrinkled, I’d want to become her.
          She doesn’t seem to need anyone in her life, maybe that’s why she’s so strong.

          I don’t know how this all happened, but we now seem to do well enough. We have one paying guest (he seems to pay on time too, I don’t know where he gets that kind of money around that place), and it seems we can afford some manservant. Well, that’s something Aunt Idle would call that nice lady, surely not Mater. She was very kind to her.
          Hope she doesn’t get funny ideas like she should become some sort of Mary Poppins or the like.

          The way Mater was sad after her piggy passed, I realized having a dog is a huge commitment. I told Battista I lied and I was sorry, but we couldn’t have the puppy. I knew she wouldn’t mind, she likes to keep dogs around.

          Instead, I thought I could start breeding guinea pigs; they don’t live too long. Everybody thought stealing the fish was just a prank, but I wanted to pawn it to kick-start my business. The sad truth is that it isn’t worth a dime.
          Luckily, Bert who noticed me, said he would help.
          I wonder why the only persons I can relate to are more than ten times my age… Sometimes I’m like an alien in my own family.


            Working at the gas station was the only way I found to get away of that dead fish Inn. That and hockey.

            Ever since Jasper died, I’ve tried to escape the stifling atmosphere of the family. I felt barely annoyed when mother left, I was already empty.
            I tried to come back a few times, but it was too hard to look at the twin girls growing together, whereas I was denied this chance with my brother. Oh! I didn’t have anything against them, I would play the role of the caring and protective brother whenever necessary at school. But it was easier to stay outside and play hockey with my best buddies Joe and Callum.

            When dad left, I felt betrayed. I still wonder why he didn’t take me with him on his adventures. Jasper says I’m better here at the moment. I don’t know what’s better, but that’s the only place I can be with no money and no education.


              Yogi’s teleporting classes in Camden Town had been going on for about 6 months, a small group of people determined to master the art, each member dedicated to the pursuit for particular reasons of their own.

              Freya wanted to be able to travel, but was restricted because of her dogs and cats. He aim was to “lunch travel” and have lunch in a different country every day, being home in the mornings and evenings to look after her pets. John wanted to retire to the south of France, but keep an eye on his book shop in London, without the tedium and expense of airline flights. Justin, however, was a black bloc anarchist, and wanted to be able to teleport to protests all over the world, and be able to evade police kettles, and escape from Jail should he ever find himself in that position. Samantha was writing an exposé on the nefarious goings on of government ministers, but was for obvious reasons denied access to the places and documents that she needed to see. Fred missed his children and wanted to visit them, an impossibility in his current homeless destitute situation. Luckily for Fred, Yogi didn’t charge a fee for the classes, more interested in determination and commitment than monetary rewards.

              Fred had managed on several occasions to project his awareness to the Flying Fish Inn, but had not yet achieved a full physical materialization. He had blinked in and out a couple of times, but had become nervous of frightening the children when he’d unintentionally startled Mater.



                I am beginning to think the Inn may be riddled with ghosts. Or is it me who needs to go to mental health services? Perhaps I really am losing my marbles?



                  I woke up this morning with an idea in my head, and I don’t know if I was dreaming about it or if it just popped in, in the brief moments between sleep and waking. I made a connection with the topic I was doing an anthropology report on, and something I’d forgotten. No, not forgotten, it wouldn’t be true to say I’d forgotten it as it was always there at the back of my mind niggling at me that there was more to it somehow, but I hadn’t made the connection so obviously with the current project.

                  My research was about disconnection, and the separation agenda of the American channeling dream. At first I felt driven to explore particular areas and then piece by piece the puzzle that had nagged at me for years ~ I say years, it felt like years, but maybe it wasn’t so long ~ started to fall into place.

                  At first when I woke up the idea of censorship was in my head and the idea to start a petition and public awareness campaign about certain channeled texts that were withheld from public viewing, despite repeated requests for them to be public along with all the other texts. But then it occurred to me that censorship and omission wasn’t always deliberate. I mean, not a conscious choice to keep information secret, but something else. Almost like a case of some information not being seen clearly through the filters, yet for some reason dismissed as not fitting, and pushed away, almost unconsciously, and suppressed.

                  The text was about disconnect mainly, and there was some stuff about Nazi’s although the part about animals was the part that had stuck in my head, probably because I felt more connected to animals than Nazi’s. There were more animals growing up here than Nazi’s after all, Nazi’s was only something I’d heard about. But then it occurred to me that I’d been hearing more and more about Neo Nazi’s, in Europe mainly, forming groups and having protests. So that got me wondering about that too.

                  Anyway, the disconnect part: it was the reaction on the American channeling forums to the Ferguson riots that started me on this project, and Aunt Idle was full of encouragement when I started to explain to her what I was noticing. She said she had noticed similar things in her remote viewing circle online. Everyone seems to think Aunt Idle is losing her marbles, but don’t you believe it. She seems vacant and scattered but that’s only because her mind is occupied elsewhere.

                  The gist of this suppressed text was extreme separation, but it was the part about using words to seem enlightened to hide extreme disconnect that seemed to fit my project.

                  I did have to chuckle though, I wondered if I was being a racist by calling Americans disconnected as if it was a racial characteristic. More of a cultural thing, I suppose, can one be called a culturalist as if it’s a bad thing? I don’t see how you can study anthropology without a certain degree of separating into cultural groups though, even if it is shift anthropology. I’ll think about that a bit more later.


                    When I left the Inn this morning, Mater seemed upset. I regularly kisses her on her forehead before going to the gas station, as I know it pisses her off, but today she seemed lost in her thoughts and she called me Fred. I don’t like it when she does that, it gives me the impression she’s losing it. I wonder who’s going to hold that crumbling place when she’s gone. Certainly not Dido, she can’t focus her mind on a project for more than a few minutes, and it usually does not pass the stage of smokey ideas. I see clearly her game, she’s messing around with Mater for God knows what twisted reasons. They never seemed to appreciate each others much, and I’ve only known them for eighteen years. Looking at how it didn’t evolve much during that time, I bet it had been like that for quite some time. Family relationships are boring, and usually quite messy.

                    Take Joe for example, he’s crazy. His father is crazy, and his grand-father well he spent so much time in the mines that his family didn’t really miss him when one of the tunnels collapsed while he was inside. They never found the body. The Mining company gave the family a ridiculously small amount of money as an indemnification. Joe’s father lost it in some fracking wallaby race. Bad luck had stuck to him his whole life. Jasper once told me to avoid him. I would have, even if it was not for my dead brother’s warning.

                    Joe’s working at the gas station with me. He had been working there since he was sixteen when the school told his parents it was a waste of time [for them] to try and teach him anything valuable. His father beat him to keep up the appearances, but they were glad they could put him to work to bring in some more money.

                    Joe is nuts, but he’s not dumb. He just likes to experiment. He must have a good star watching upon him, unlike his father, because each time he manages to make something explode or break in a real bad way, but he always gets out without a scratch. He’s excited, he’s finished working on his last project. He wants us to borrow a gas tank and go to his place after work. I’ve rarely seen him so excited. We’ll have to put off the hockey with Callum.


                      Deep in thought, Devan didn’t notice Finly watching him from the end of the porch. As he clumped down the steps and made his way towards the clapped out banger that served as transport to work, she weighed him up, pausing for a moment with the window cleaning cloth poised in mid air.

                      He was young, but then, she liked them young. Virile, energetic, easily controlled. The rebellious ones were not so rebellious towards an older woman of experience in their bed. Not that she was all that much older than he was, but the difference in age was enough to create an air of experience. Finly liked to keep on top of things ~ both her cleaning duties, and her young men.

                      Nice ass, she said to herself, with a warm tingle of anticipation, rubbing the windows with renewed vigour. She licked her lips, smirking at her reflection in the glass, and then blew herself a kiss. A slight movement caught her eye. Prune bobbed her tongue out, and then disappeared from view.


                        The blast ricocheted throughout the town. It set the dogs barking, chickens squalking and babies crying. Folks dropped what they were doing, in many cases literally: dishes and beer bottles crashed to the floor, as the towns people ran outside to find out what was going on, or ran for cover.

                        Bert, sitting on top of Plater’s Rock watching it all, slapped his thigh, whooped and then laughed until the tears ran like rain season creeks through the desert dry creases of his face. The unaccustomed unbridled mirth provoked a coughing fit: Bert balled up the phlegm that rose in his throat and catapulted gobs of it towards the creek below.

                        Well, that’s finally got that off my chest, he said to himself with another choking cackle.

                        The creek itself after the explosion was obscured from his sight by a thick pall of smoke, but the sputum projectiles were aimed with deadly accuracy at the bridge ~ or where the bridge had been.

                        There was no bridge there now though, not that anyone would have noticed its disappearance if he hadn’t made sure they did. Years he’d spent making that bridge, a bit at a time, with what he could find or chance upon, working on it as often as he had time for. He’d found what he could only describe as a “special place” over on the other side of the creek, it spoke to him and seemed to call on him to bring others. The only way to it from the town was to swim the creek, or drive almost 200 miles by road, via the closest bridge at Ninetown. So Bert decided to build a bridge across, so people could go back and forth with ease and enjoy the place on the other side.

                        Bert had finished the bridge three years ago during the dry season, and invited everyone over upon it’s completion. Four people turned up, even though he’d set up a picnic and brought coolboxes of champagne and beer, and a big bag of weed. Less than a dozen people used Bert’s bridge in the first two years, and he was the only one to cross over since the last dry season.

                        Finding the dynamite in the old mine shaft a few months back had given him the idea. An impulse had seized him after the unexpected encounter with Elizabeth. He blew the bridge up. It was over. He could breathe again.


                          It’s like a freaking ghost town around here, thought Finly.


                            Aunt Idle:

                            I noticed a change in Bert after the explosion. He seemed more reckless and carefree, more jovial, unlike his usual terse martyred demeanor. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked him about it, one day while we were in the garden picking tomatoes.

                            I had a sudden pang of guilt when he told me all about it because it rang a bell, a dim and distant bell, that I’d known about the bridge that he built but had forgotten all about it. Always so many other things to think about every day, and yet now, I wish I’d found the time to cross that bridge and explore the other side, or just sit there and think of nothing, and relax. But I didn’t, and now the bridge was gone.

                            After the explosion, people said it must have been an accident, some buried mining explosives set off by a wandering animal. I don’t know how many people knew about Bert’s bridge, but none seemed to recall it after the explosion. It was as if it had never existed.

                            It was a funny thing though, now that the bridge was gone, now I knew the story, I wanted to see what was on the other side. If I had to drive all the way up to the bridge in Ninetown to cross the river, then so be it.


                            Aunt Idle:

                            Bert came with me. Usually one of us always stayed home to keep an eye on Mater and the kids, but now we had that capable girl, Finly, to keep an eye on things.

                            It was good to get away from the place for a few hours, and head off on a different route to the usual shopping and errand trips. The nearest sizable town was in the opposite direction; it was years since I’d been to Ninetown. I asked Bert about the place on the other side of the river, what was it that intrigued him so. I’ll be honest, I wondered if he was losing his marbles when he said it was the medieval ruins over there.

                            “Don’t be daft, Bert, how can there be medieval ruins over there?” I asked.

                            “I didn’t say they were medieval, Idle, I said that’s what they looked like,” he replied.

                            “But …but history, Bert! There’s no history here of medieval towns! Who could have built it?”

                            “That’s why I found it so fucking interesting, but if it doesn’t fit the picture, nobody wants to hear anything about it!”

                            “Well I’m interested Bert. Yes, yes, I know I wasn’t interested before, but I am now.”

                            Bert grunted and lit a cigarette.


                            We stopped at a roadside restaurant just outside Ninetown for lunch. The midday heat was enervating, but inside the restaurant was a pleasant few degrees cooler. Bert wasn’t one for small talk, so I picked up a local paper to peruse while I ate my sandwich and Bert tucked into a greasy heap of chips and meat. I flicked through it without much interest in the mundane goings on of the town, that is, until I saw those names: Tattler, Trout and Trueman.

                            It was an article about a ghost town on the other side of Ninetown that had been bought up by a consortium of doctors. Apparently they’d acquired it for pennies as it had been completely deserted for decades, with the intention of developing it into an exclusive clinic.

                            “There’s something fishy about that!” I exclaimed, a bit too loudly. Several of the locals turned to look at me. I lowered my voice, not wanting to attract any more attention while I tried to make sense of it.

                            “Read this!” I passed the paper over the Bert.

                            “So what?” he asked. “Who cares?”

                            “Look!” I said, jabbing my finger on the names Tattler, Trout and Trueman. Bert looked puzzled, understandably enough. “Allow me to explain” I said, and I told him about the business card that Flora had left on the porch table.

                            “What does Flora have to do with this consortium of doctors? And what the hell is the point in setting up a clinic there, in the middle of nowhere?”

                            “That,” I replied, “Is the question!”


                              I found Joe near the fallen bridge. He was sobbing. I approached silently and put my hand on his shoulder.
                              “Are you alright, mate ?”
                              “Yes I’m alright”, he snorted. “You remember when we used to play there ?”
                              Of course I remembered, we called it the bridge to nowhere. I’ve never really understood why Bert had built that bloody bridge. Jasper told me after the blast that the old man also made sure nobody could use it again. That was no surprise. Old Bert was a tight as a duck’s ass when it came to his craft. That’s why he never could make it in his trade, if he didn’t like what you did of one of his creations he’d rather smash it up so that no one could use it afterward. Always the sneaky one.
                              “I remember”, I said. “Your face looks like a Panda.”
                              He snickered. “You know my father. He’s got a liking for China.” He laughed, but it felt forced. Anyway, I laughed with him. There was no point in bringing up the gloom, we needed fun.
                              “Let’s take a dive!” I said. Hoping to change his mind. He tried to smile but cringed as his face must have hurt badly. When he removed his shirt, my heart sank as I saw the dark marks on his chest and back. No pushing him in the water.
                              “Last one to reach the other side of nowhere!” he shouted before jumping in the cold water.
                              “That would be you!” I roared. Naked in the wild, at least as close to the wild as you could have here, I felt like a lion, full of strength, dangerous.


                                Aunt Idle:

                                Trying to get a conversation out of Bert was like trying to prise a can of beans open with a nappy pin. If he’d been a bit more willing to discuss it with me I might have told him about the note, but I didn’t. I suppose he was disgruntled because I was more interested in that medical team buying up ghost towns than his bridge, so we sat in silence for the rest of the trip. Not that I wasn’t interested in the place on the other side of the river, but there was something very odd going on, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. That note, made from old maps at the Brundy place, then Flora’s card with the same name on ~ what the dickens was going on? Should I ask Flora point blank, or would that alert her that I was on to her? Might be better to be more subtle, see what I could find out before confronting her. I even thought of getting the remote view team to see if they could find anything out ~ although the results were so sketchy that might just be a wild goose chase, lead me off in the wrong direction.

                                “Take the next left, Idle, down this here track,” Bert said.

                                Miles away I was, so I didn’t hear him at first and had to slam the brakes on a bit sharpish. I caught Bert rolling his eyes at me and glared at him.

                                The track hadn’t been driven on for months, if not years ~ that much was obvious. We bumped along kicking up a cloud of dust for a few miles before the river came into sight, then the track followed the river for another half a mile or so, eventually petering out.

                                “We’ll have to walk from here,” said Bert, getting out of the car. I passed Bert the rucksack with the bottled water and locked the car. “You don’t need to lock the car here” Bert snorted.

                                “Habit,” I snapped, “Lead the way.”


                                Mater was more relaxed now that Finly had everything run smoothly at the Inn.

                                Granted, not all was to her liking, such as her choice of marmite against the usual favourite vegemite, but if you had to make some concessions to retain the staff, what the hell.

                                Finly had set up more strict rules for the children, which was a necessity. No parents, an irresponsible aunt, and frankly, herself was at an age where she had done her share of chores.

                                She wondered if the girl was not secretly trying to bribe her with the right mix of strength and kindness. After all she had offered to do her a facelift mask with manuka honey from her hometown. As if she would fall for that. At her age.

                                She had answered to her quite firmly to make things unequivocal And then, are we going to braid each other’s hair? The poor girl had looked a bit confused, but then very quickly went back to her tasks after muttering some sort of apology.

                                “While you are doing the upper floor,” Mater added with some afterthought “you should have a look at the attic, there seem to be a strange racket…”

                                “Yes, M’am, certainly. Probably rats. I’ll call the exterminator, M’am.”

                                If only that were so simple… Mater thought to herself.


                                  “If anyone needs exterminating,” muttered Clove under her breath when she heard Finly on the phone, “It’s you, you fucking Nazi.”


                                    “Just ignore her, Clove,” replied Corrie. “She’s only a maid, she can’t tell us what to do.”


                                      Christmas has always been a strange tradition in our family.
                                      Maybe because first and foremost, Christmas is all about family. Besides the twins and their bond, sometimes I wonder what makes us a family at all.
                                      It doesn’t help that we can never get snow around this place, and dressing in red and white fluff is not going to make things suddenly magical.

                                      It was comical to see the exterminator come with a red bonnet, panting and all red himself, as if he were some genial Santa bringing gifts of death to our yonder’s rodents residents.
                                      He didn’t catch a rat, but got himself a fright. Thanks to Mater, when she erupted in the attic in her white hanuka honey cream face-lifter mask. I think that sneaky Finly got to her in the end.
                                      The mystery of the strange noises in the inn is not going soon, apparently.

                                      Bert and Aunt Idle got back from their trip in the evening. Apparently Bert had insisted to bring some sort of shrub to make a Christmas tree in the great hall (it’s not so great, but we call it that). Finly didn’t seem pleased too much with it. Raking leaves in summer, bringing pests inside… she didn’t have many kind things to say about it. So Mater sends her to cook a “festive dinner”, that’s what she said. I heard Finly mutter in her breath something about kiwi specials. I like kiwis. Hope she’ll make a pavlova… just, not with Mater’s face cream!

                                      It seems that giving small gestures of appreciation got the mood going. Aunt Idle is always very good at decorating with the oddest or simplest of things, like rolls of TP. Sometimes she would draw nice hieroglyphs in the layer of dust on the cabinets, it gives the furniture a special look. Mater always says it’s because she’s too lazy to do some cleaning consistently, but I think it’s because cleaning is not creative enough for her. Can’t believe I just said nice things about Aunt Idle. Christmas spirit must be contagious.

                                      Then, Devan came home with some pastries. It’s not often I see Devan these days, and usually he’s always brooding. I would too, if I had to come back home when I could just start my life away from there. Finly was all eyes on him all of a sudden. Seems nobody noticed, not even the twins, too busy being snarky while playing on their phones,… it looks like there is some strange game between these two, my brother and our Finly. I think Finly makes a lot of efforts to look younger with him, I can see when she fiddles with her hair. They would make good friends, and I’m sure Devan doesn’t mind the accent.

                                      As always, it’s not about how pretty the tree is, or how good the food is, or how big the gifts are… It’s more about being together, for better or for worse. And Dad, and Mum are always out of this almost nice picture, but somehow, it matters less today.

                                      There’s a good thing about that Christmas spirit. It gives you the weirdest ideas. To be nice, I asked Mater if we should invite the guests to our festive dinner, and probably lifted by the mood, she said yes, of course. When I went to the closed door to invite the guy, I thought a random act of kindnes is a perfect occasion to learn more about our mysterious resident stranger… Maybe that’s what the adults mean in church when they say you should always be kind to each other.



                                      I was offering the plate of mince pies to Mr Cornwall, who had been coaxed out of his room for the first time in ages and was sitting next to the gum tree sapling that Aunt Idle had strung with fairy lights in lieu of a Christmas pine, when they arrived. We were all surprised to hear the taxi hooting outside, that is, except Bert. I heard him mumbling something about “She bloody meant it, the old trout,” but I didn’t remember that until later, with all the commotion at the unexpected guests.

                                      “Here, take the lot,” I said, shoving the mince pies on the old guys lap, as I rushed to the door to see who it was. A tall autocratic looking woman swathed in beige linen garments was climbing out of the front seat of the taxi, with one hand holding the pith helmet on her head and the other hand gesticulating wildly to the others in the back seat. She was ordering the taxi driver to get the luggage out of the boot, and ushering the other occupants out of the car, before flamboyantly spinning around to face the house. With arms outstretched and a big smile she called, “Darlings! We have arrived!”

                                      “Who the fuck it that?” I asked Clove. “Fucked if I know” she replied, adding in a disappointed tone, “Four more old farts, just what we bloody need.”

                                      “And a baby!” I noted.

                                      Clove snorted sarcastically, “Terrific.”

                                      Suddenly a cloud of dust filled the hall and I started to cough. Crispin Cornwall had leaped to his feet, the plate of mince pies crashing to the floor.

                                      Elizabeth! Do my eyes deceive me, or is it really you?”

                                      Godfrey, you old coot! What on earth are you doing here, and dressed like that! You really are a hoot!”

                                      “Why is she calling him Godfrey?” asked Prune. “That’s not his name.”

                                      “He obviously lied when he said his name was Crispin Cornwall, Prune. We don’t know a thing about him,” I replied. “Someone had better go and fetch Aunt Idle.”

                                      F LoveF Love

                                        “Hmmm, I must have miscounted, three more old farts and a baby,” said Clove sounding slightly perplexed. “It is still way too many though.”

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