The Surge Team’s Coils

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  • #107

      For the New Year’s festivities, the Surge Team was readying itself for its shift, taking over the Tw’Elves duties.
      Energy forecast was set on “Mostly Calm with slight chance of Surges”. All of them knew that it was toned down to avoid any panic attack to spread like vegemoth on a buttered toast.
      Sir Ed Steam, toying with his enormous waxed mustache, had give them the usual pep-talk. “Ladies!” he’d hammered “don’t kid yourselves, surges are coming. But we’re ready, we’re always ready. No matter what the forecast says, our job is to be ready no matter what. And don’t forget, especially the young ones: all this tech is nice, but you are the last bastion to hold this mad world together!”
      Yeah, the tech was nice, all those shiny copper coils and batteries; and it’d saved their lives quite a few times. Cornella was proud to wear them and the Surge Team’s insignia. New Year surges were the wickedest, she’d only knew five, and was glad to have made it that far without barely a scratch, but the job was getting tiresome. Every year, it was worse and the stakes higher. She was slightly bothered too, by the fact that they were starting to deviate from their initial role, which was merely to absorb the surges and release them in less dangerous forms.
      Now, Sir Ed Steam had decided to exert more and more control and was lobbying for the Surge Team to get more executive powers. Also, it seemed he had decided to keep some of the surges in stored form “for preventive use”, whatever it means. That much was known by many although not overtly discussed. Covertness smelt of ominousness and destructiveness she thought guardedly.
      Maybe they would soon change their insignia, she wondered, looking at the enameled sponge that graced it.

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    • #2917

        There wasn’t a cloud in the sky over the mudflats of the Guadalquivir river delta. Bob and Dennis were having a late breakfast of tapas on the terrace of a local bar: battered cuttlefish testicles, ensaladilla Rusa, and reindeer meat montaditos, washed down with fino sherry.

        “ We better get back to work, Dennis. I have a feeling we’re very close to finding something.” said Bob.

        “Excuse me, did you mention work?” a voice piped up from a table behind them. “I’m looking for work. Just got out of jail yesterday ~ oh don’t panic!” the man in the scarlet sweater said, noticing their raised eyebrows. “I wasn’t in there for any crime, just for being an illegal immigrant. My name’s Barry, by the way, pleased to meet you.”

        “Well, Barry, this is your lucky day!” replied Bob. “It just so happens we could do with an extra pair of hands today. Nothing permanent, or legal ~ ha ha ~ but a bit of cash in hand might come handy, eh?”

        Barry was well aware of Bob and Dennis’s mission, but he didn’t let on.

        “Be happy to, yes! What kind of work is it?”

        “We’re looking for a p p p p portal, m m m mate” said Dennis.

        ~~~ ~~~

        In almost no time at all during the afternoon work in the mudflats and marshes, Barry shouted “Bob! Dennis! I think I’ve found it!” He was holding a large stone disc , looking for all the world like a Marie biscuit.


          There was a light knock on the door, which immediately alerted Mari Fe.
          Dimming the lights and trying to be as soundless as a mouse scurrying in the middle of sleeping cats and altered mice traps, she leaned towards the peephole (or as the French called it, the judas) at the door.
          “Dammit!” she bit her lip so hard it hurt. She’d hoped it was her friends, but they surely would have used the portal. Instead, her instincts were right. The mutton-chopped figure clad in tweed despite the balmy weather trying to discreetly pick the door lock could be no one else than that daft guy, the auditor Dru something

          F LoveF Love

            Mari Fe waited till Dru was inside before hitting him over the head with the vintage wooden rooster Sir Ed used as a doorstop.

            After considering various flight-or-fight scenarios, Mari Fe decided that a hasty departure was the path of least resistance.


              “Where the frick is Ed?” mused Pearl looking at the mess of bodies behind the opened door. How unprofessional of Mari Fe, typical of her to leave a trail of evidences like this…
              “Maybe we should call her” ventured Janet.
              “Oh, forget about it, let’s make those bodies disappear through the portal anyway, and go for a snack. I’m having the silliest cravings for onion buns lately.”
              “What about that man with slim lips?” Janet was always the careful meticulous one, to the point of being annoying. “That sounds silly, but he does look a bit like Ed, if you squint a little. Maybe we could use him as a decoy?”
              “Oh don’t be silly, Ed without a waxed moustache, that’s about as impossible as a hairless Santa.” Pearl’s reasoning as usual was irrevocable. “Let’s flung that one too, grab onion buns, and look for Chicken Little, and that elusive bugger of an Ed Steam. And don’t keep that moonshine bottle all for yourself!”

              F LoveF Love

                “Bugger!” exclaimed Pearl. “There is a Portal Worker in the bathroom. He says the portal is temporarily closed for repairs. He says there was a surge of unprecedented proportions, and they have to check all the portals before they are used. It is just routine procedure, he says.”

                Janet smelt a rat. “Hmmm, how very strange. I have never heard of portals being repaired before and what would cause such a huge surge?”

                (aside from the writer: what is a surge?)

                “I know! weirdo. So, I asked him if we could stick a few bodies in the portal anyway, but he said he couldn’t guarantee where they would end up, and it was against company policy. What shall we do? Slim Lips is starting to come around”.


                  “Not to worry” said Janet, who smacked Slim Lips repeatedly on the head with a duck shaped chamber pot from the nearby loo.
                  “There, let me think…” Then, looking at the oddly shaped tool of fortune with an askance glance. “Who knew Ed has such tacky tastes for furniture, like that bloody rooster over there…”


                    Janet took a heavy stickman and smashed it on the worker’s head.

                    “Damn it! Janet! What have you done ?” Pearl was beginning to wonder about that hit and smash epidemy. Would she be the next to succumb ? She resisted a strong impulse to smash Janet’s head with what appeared to be a wooden hyppopotamus and took a deep breath.

                    “I don’t know”, Janet said with a little girl’s voice.
                    “Oh! Be serious for a moment and stop breathing your helium balloon for Roaster’s sake!”
                    Janet continued with the same voice, “At least we can throw them all through the portal now, can’t we ? Sorry, I won’t do that again…”

                    “Roaster! That man with the vermillion robes is so heavy”, complained Pearl.
                    “Maybe we can throw the portal at them and see what happens”, said Janet.

                    Pearl considered the idea for a few seconds, it was very tempting, but also so contrary to what they have been taught about portals, that it gave her chills. It could swallow the entire village, and the two Chicks in the same gulp.

                    “The story has just begun said Pearl, we can’t do that.”


                    Sanso rubbed his sore head.

                    “Oh well, just one of the hazards of the job, I suppose.” he said philosophically.

                    “Okay, coast is clear,” he whispered into the portal.

                    One by one, Arona, Vincentius and Yikesy piled into the small bathroom.

                    “Don’t forget me!” hissed Mandrake.

                    “You know,” Mandrake continued, snootily, “there are some who will say we should not be here. There will be some who will be tsk tsking for all they are worth.”

                    “Positive energy, please Mandrake.” smiled Arona. Mandrake rolled his eyes.

                    “It will be fine, just remember: nobody must know who we are or why we are here, and positive intentions at all times.” Sanso was tremendously excited. It was a long time since he had had such an exciting mission.

                    “Why are we here, again?” asked Vincentius, in his deep melodious voice.


                      On their way to the car for more convenient tools for the job, Janet continued to counter Pearl’s objections: “Oh, let’s do it and be done with it, we’ve got other fish to fry. Now that the plan to make Ed disappear and extort all his secrets from him is nothing but a fiasco, we’ve got at least to cover our tracks. ‘No guarantee where they’ll end up?’ Fine! Works great for me if you should ask! Wonderland? All the better!” Janet vituperated.
                      “Yeah, you probably right. Better be done with it before the next surge…”
                      “Shall you elaborate?”
                      “No time for this, deary, we’ve got work to do, bring on the pocket-sized forklift before others come out of this bleeding-though portal!”


                      “Right oh, Chaps” said Sanso cheerily, “Everyone put on your invisibility cloaks and heave ho and off we go. Chop chop!”

                      Arona sniggered. “Are you sure your head is okay, Sanso?”


                        Aqua Luna was listening to her favorite channeler on the radio. He spoke for Glasnik, a being from another dimension where people were more like translucent snails. She had always loved the way the man came into a trance, he was snorking and sneezing while moving his head up and down, and quickly bouncing between right and left.

                        This particular channel was about new crystaline portals. She didn’t understand all that he was saying, she was not very clever her mama had told her so many times. But listening to the message was giving her the sense of being part of some huge secret and she could still quote his words. That part about crystalline portals was giving her creeps, it was hard for her to imagine what would beings from other dimensions look like. Except for a snail, of course.

                        “So this is all about mystery and watermelon seeds. (laughs from the audience) Does that help you ?”

                        Aqua Luna was even more confused. It was the end of the channel and she couldn’t listen back. She passed her frustration on Cornella’s keyboard, rubbing vigorously between the keys. Indeed, mysteries are countless in this dimension as she inadvertantly found the right password to unlock Cornella’s computer. The machine bipped and she was logged in.

                        She was so startled by the sound that she bounced back and fall on her butt. She got up as she could, she was not a sportswoman, rather the contrary. She was ranting in her mother tongue when she realized the screen was different. It looked like a kind of map, with little dots blinking on it.


                          Janet heard a door squeak like an agonizing mouse. Her heart jumped in her chest when she recognized the half bald man who came through… and the implications. The old clock rang. Janet didn’t know Mari Fe had such an antique in her house. Maybe it was on the other side of that door.

                          Riff Raff… “, she said. Her throat was suddenly tight and she could barely swallow. “What are you doing here ?”

                          “It’s astounding, time is fleeting
                          Madness takes its toll
                          But listen closely, not for very much longer
                          You’ve got to keep control”

                          “Who’s that man,” asked Pearl, “he’s ugly. And why is he singing… and sweeping the old clock ?”
                          “I think we’re in a time wart, again”, said a crestfallen Janet.


                            “It’s just a jump to the right, Mari Fe” whispered Bee, trying not to giggle. Mari Fe was giggling so hard the tears were rolling down her face.
                            “Give me a minute Bee” she gasped, wiping her eyes. “I need to get a grip before I can continue.”
                            SHHH! they’ll hear you! They don’t know you’re in here!”
                            “In ~ where are we, Bee?” asked Mari Fe, looking around at the strange dimensions and shape of the room. “Where are we?”


                              “Honey, we’re shrunk!” explained Bee. “Remember that jelly baby I gave you half an hour ago? It was a miniaturizing potion. We’re inside the Magpie shaped teapot on the shelf in the kitchen.”

                              “That would explain the strange shape of this room and the curved chimney alright, but what to we do next?”

                              “Well, there’s a snag.” said Bee. “The re-enlargement jelly babies are still in the bathroom. We’re going to have to find a way back there.”

                              Just then the sound of muffled voices became louder and closer. “Anyone fancy a cuppa?” they heard Pearl asking.

                              And then the earth moved. Bee and Mari Fe were hurtling from one side of the teapot to the other, crashing into each other, trying to find something to hold onto on the slippery walls.


                              Arona, look at that old parchment”, whispered Vincentius with his melodious voice, “I think it can be of help, it looks like a map. I grabbed it when we went out of that portal.”


                                Janet picked up the fallen crest and put it back on her head. “A cup of tea sounds great, but I think there’s a mouse in that teapot. Listen! There are scrabbling sounds inside, can you hear?”


                                Sanso loved old maps, and was eager to help Vincentius spread the map out on the living room floor and have a closer look. It extended to a full 8 meters in length when it was rolled out, and Sanso and Vincentius had to kneel down and crawl over it to examine it. The map was like nothing they’d ever seen before, certainly it didn’t resemble the current state of the globe, although it had confusing similarities in places. Some of the names were familiar, but not in the usual locations, and there were some familiar land masses, but many were quite different.

                                Meanwhile, back in the kitchen: “Take the lid off and have a look inside” urged Janet.
                                YOU take the lid off, what if the mouse runs over my hand?” said Pearl. “I know, let’s get Ed to do it.”

                                Janet and Pearl were cackling and bumping into each other, Pearl holding the teapot outstretched in front of her, and neither of them noticed Vincentius kneeling just inside the living room doorway, hidden behind his invisibility cloak.

                                Vincentius looked up but was unable to move in time. Pearl tumbled over his back and the teapot flew out of her hand. Vincentius managed to catch the teapot but the lid flew off and hurtled across the room, catching Sanso on the side of the head. Janet fell over Pearl and landed on Sanso, although of course she couldn’t see him, as he was wearing the invisibility cloak. Vincentius looked on in horror, clutching the teapot close to his stomach, upside down. Bee was able to slide down the spout, straight down into Vincentius’ shorts. Bee let out a long whistle. She wasn’t called Belle Endwhistle for nothing, after all.

                                Pearl sat up and rubbed her knee, wondering why Janet was hovering in mid air, and the tea pot was upside down and apparently defying gravity too. “Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to have a tea break after all”. She wasn’t able to see Arona and Mandrake rolling their eyes, hidden as they were beneath invisibility cloaks. Pearl wasn’t able to see Mari Fe either, as she was too small, and appeared as no more than a dog hair covered bit of chewed up toy goat leg on the floor.


                                Yikesy, who had been quietly observing the assembled gathering, gave a whale-like shout. Fortunately, he had remembered to wear his voice-muter gadget, and for most of those gathered in the room his shout was nearly imperceptible.

                                Sanso, who had his voice-muter-deactivator turned up full volume, leapt up in alarm. In the process, poor Janet went flying, landing on Sir Ed, who had been starting to stagger unsteadily to his feet. The impact of Janet’s ample frame hitting him full-force caused Sir Ed to lose his footing and, in his descent, he knocked his head on a charming wooden replica of a Tahitian dancing girl. (This was actually the same one which had earlier been mistaken for a hippopotamus.)

                                “What is the matter, Yikesy?” asked Sanso, managing to keep a clear focus in the midst of the ensuing chaos.

                                Yikesy smiled smugly. “I knew there was something strange about this map, and I have cleverly worked it out: there are 257 place names and all of them, except 12, have 5 letters and start with the letter E.”

                                “Of course, I should have spotted that!” exclaimed Sanso. “Well done, Yikesy.”


                                  In all that chaos, noboty noticed a strange woman in a red coat wearing sunglasses, and taking pictures of everything. She had just come through the portal, which she cleverly put in the Mary Poppins pocket of her coat.
                                  Not even the cat had noticed her.


                                  Arona felt something was wrong. The invisibility cloack was moving on its own. She looked around and met Vincentius eyes. He seemed as puzzled as her. Actually, the cloack was moving upward. She looked behind her and gasped. Yikesi was almost as tall as herself. Actually, it seemed now that he was a bit taller than her, and he was still growing.

                                  Pearl screamed. She just saw what looked like feet appearing from nowhere, and legs were growing on top of these feet.

                                  Janet fall from Vincentius’ lap, the cloack was now only covering Yikesi’s head, which was big.
                                  Vincentius let the teapot fall on the floor, where it broke into hundreds of pieces. Bee and Mari Fe were upside down, and in all that confusion, the cat who was very specific in his vision spotted them. Despite his intelligence and his other dimensional quality, his instincts, reinforced by thousands of years of habits, influenced him deeply into the natural feelings of the hunter. He began to hiss and prepare himself to jump on his preys. But Arona was pushed by the still growing Yikesi and fall upon him in a ouch.

                                  Mari Fe, totally oblivious to what could have happened with the cat saw the gigantic body of a baby missing its head. The cloack was still big enough to hide it from sight.

                                  “Rats”, she said, “He ate all the jelly babies, we’re stuck into miniatures!”

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