The Time-Dragglers’ Extravaganzas

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    “Whatever you proclaim as your identity here in the material realm is also your drag. You are not your religion. You are not your skin color. You are not your gender, your politics, your career, or your marital status. You are none of the superficial things that this world deems important. The real you is the energy force that created the entire universe!”

    RuPaul , Workin’ It!: RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style’

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      Jeremy didn’t understand what “sorry about the Chinese” meant when Sanso and his near naked woman friend had left.
      For one, it was a bit traumatizing to see them shrink again in the fat ugly mess of a cloth that was supposed to look vaguely like a doll of sorts, then disappear inside the map he’d been drawing for them.

      He looked at the map. A precious detailed map of an island, he’d been encouraged to draw for them. As usual he danced in a trance to make it, holding a cucumber in his hand as an anchor, the loon guy had said.
      Frankly, why he’d went along with their nonsense was now a bit beyond him. Probably seeing them getting out of Max had shaken his believability limit to a new level.

      The map was beautiful, drawn in fine green isopleths ; looking like the finest intaglio printing he’d ever seen that seemed to shift and move in gorgeous optical illusion patterns. He couldn’t bring himself to destroy it, as he’d promised them.

      There was a light knock on the door.
      When he saw the man’s face with his round sunglasses though the peephole, it dawned on him what Sanso had meant with his cryptic “sorry about the Chinese”, and Jeremy already regretted, too late, not having destroyed the map.


        “Hence the importance of complimenting a child on his first poops” were the concluding words of the lecture by Choanna Doyle, PhD, under a loud burst of applause.

        Sadie was pleased to have joined the Happiness Institute alumni’s yearly conference and was handling leaflets to the parents who were thinking about enrolling their children.

        When everyone had left the blue and purple amphitheatre, decorated with pink ribbons and heart-shaped reflective balloons, she went back behind the pulpit to gather her bag, only to be startled by Choanna, who was still here while she was expected in the main hall for her book signing.

        “Interesting lecture” Sadie said, as a way to sound polite, as the doctor was probably more used to, and expecting over the top fan reactions.

        “Oh, not that interesting, but thank you for your polite protestations of interest” she said with a soft smile.

        Sadie couldn’t help but blush, being at a loss for words.

        “The crap…” Choanna said
        “What?!” Sadie was confused
        “I guess, that’s the crap that got you off. It does the same for most people. The poop comment is actually quite pertinent.”
        “I don’t doubt that.” Sadie didn’t know what to say, but was sure she wasn’t too keen on more poop conversation. When she’d came back to her apartment after being absent for more than a week in linear time during her network assignment, her pet rabbit had playfully hidden bits everywhere and it had taken her days to get rid ot them, and of the smell.

        But Choanna chose to ignore the cue, and continued “you have to acknowledge this is serious business for the children, it’s their first real creation. This is an important development step for the future adult.”
        Sadie nodded politely, dying to roll her eyes, but sending waves of hearts instead, to cancel out any potential poop jinx.
        “Later, you see, it also will help the adult to not throw in the towel at the first failure. Huhu, I like to quote this analogy, it’s like a sculptor who would throw a lump of clay on the ground and immediately complain that it didn’t turn out well at the first try…”

        Sadie wanted to leave, and butted in a timid “Sorry, but…”

        “Exactly. People are always sorry, but you see, I did something very interesting today. I have decided to only speak of it if it synched with the events of the day, and you provided me with the synch when I saw you flinch at the bottled water earlier during my presentation. Did you know that blind tests of the best tasting water consistently ranked tap water the tastiest ? Now, sewers and poop now seem relevant all of a sudden…”

        “I’m getting late for my signing, that was nice talking to you!” she concluded mysteriously before leaving in a huff “But think about it!”

        What a bizarre yet endearingly odd mad woman this one, bless her heart… was all Sadie could think after the dust had settled in her wake. And that blessed tart conveniently forgot to mention that interesting thing of hers…


          Exhaustion got Lisa some sleep. She was in a black mood after the disappearance of Fanella who all of a sudden seemed to have become her preferred of the three girls, much to Mirabelle’s chagrin.

          As usual, the mood seemed to make things worse, and when Igor had tried to project to gather clues, it landed him in a nest of bees on the orange tree orchard over the fence, and it kept them busy for a while to remove the stings and soothe the poor guy in sea water cold baths poured in the stone coffin re-purposed into a nice bathtub.

          It had been a few sleepless nights, and Lisa managed to keep up thanks to coffee and nicotine patches. And cigarettes of course, which she’d tried to stop, hence the patches, but got confused, started again, and figured that a boost of nicotine gave her wings.

          The second night in a row without sleep, she was a wreck, and Jack put her in her bed, struggling a bit in the beginning but finally giving in.

          She woke up with the morning light, strangely refreshed and serene. She was pouring her morning coffee when she remembered the dream. Fanella was in it, and she was fine! She jumped off the table in her frivolous night garments to rush and tell the news to the others before she could forget it.


            “Who the fuck stuck all these disgusting patches all over me?” Lisa shouted when she noticed them, and thus promptly forgot her dream. “Why have you gone so red in the face, Jack?”
            In an attempt to deflect the attention from himself, he countered: “Why were you standing on the table?”
            Lisa rose to the bait and replied that she was assessing the possibility of hanging the new map mannequin, the one that wouldn’t stand up on her own, from the beams on the kitchen ceiling.
            “I feel inspired to continue the map collage, now that I have an idea for where to put her when she’s finished.”
            Jack yawned, somewhat rudely.
            Lisa angrily pulled another patch off her left buttock. “You better be wondering what’s in your dinner later, Jack.” she said ominously.


              It came as a surprise to Fanella to discover that she was homesick for the village in 2020 ~ despite that the entire time she had spent there, she’d been homesick for 18th century Paris. If Sanso belches in my face one more time, I’m off! she said to herself. I know I can do it ~ after all, I ended up in London in 1212, so I can do it again. Well, not back to 1212 of course, but somewhere else ~ ideally 2020, back in the comfort and familiarity of Lisa’s kitchen perhaps. Fanella sighed. I can’t even remember where I was trying to get to the last time, maybe I should just go back to the village and think about it. Travelling with Sanso has turned into a confusing wild cucumber chase, and I can’t make sense of it ~ where will I end up next?
              “Umm, where is the loo?” she asked, hoping to find a quiet place in which to concentrate on teleporting out of this cucumber pickle.


                Jack and Lisa sat in dark silence at the kitchen table drinking their coffee, Lisa struggling to recall the dream that had seemed so important, so joyful. Was it something to do with Fanella? But what? Well, maybe there would be some synchronicity later that would remind her, jog her memory.
                “I think I might go for a jog down by the river” said Jack.
                “Suit yourself” replied Lisa waspishly. “How is Igor doing, by the way?” she added, reminded of the poor fellows bee stings.
                “Oh he’s fine, but he’s pretending he isn’t. I think he’s enjoying Mirabelle’s nursing actually. The cucumber treatment seems to have worked, anyway.”
                “And what exactly is that girl doing with a cucumber, in Igor’s bed?”
                “Flove knows, but it’s doing the trick.” As Jack started to push his chair back and get up from the table, a gust of displaced air hit the table with such force it knocked the coffee cups over, and cigarette butts in the ashtray flew across the room.
                “You clumsy oaf, Jack! Steady on!”
                “It wasn’t me! Look!” he exclaimed, pointing up at the ceiling.
                Fanella! What on earth are you doing up there, hanging from that beam!” cried Lisa in astonishment. “And where did you get that unusual map print scarf?”


                  “What the… Poof?” Sanso noticed his young travelling companion had disappeared from the rag, almost knocking him off his trajectory.
                  “Blimey! Steady on Sanso!” he said to himself


                    I’ve been such a fool! Running away like that! Fanella admonished herself, biting her nails and pacing up and down in her room. I wasn’t paying attention! I should have stayed with that funny man, now I feel sure he would have taken me to that island in 2121 if I had just been patient instead of running off like that!
                    Fanella heard a man laughing, and spun around, but there was nobody there. Dear god, I’m hearing things now, she thought.
                    “I’m coming to get you, you daft bint, just hang on and don’t go anywhere!” Sanso told her via telepathic means. “We have a few other calls to make as well, but I will come and fetch you first, even if I have to use every shoehorning trick in the book. Now stop sniveling and I suggest you dress appropriately.”
                    Fanella started sobbing, unsure whether it was relief or apprehension.
                    “There, there,” Sanso said kindly. “You have a good cry, it will do you good.”


                      “Is that… a flying drone?” the woman asked, pointing at the buzzing monster that just flew past them
                      “Nope, it’s a cicada. The ones around here are huge”
                      “No way! That thing was carrying a cat!”
                      “Yep. They tend to get hungry that time of year. The mating and all…”

                      She gasped for air, unconsciously voicing her thoughts “How come those things became so enormous?”

                      The guy replied calmly “There’s a theory… That gaping hole…
                      “The one that appeared in the ground a few weeks ago, the size of a football field?”
                      “Yeah, that one…”
                      “I thought it was the reason why they called the Surge Team, although it’s a bit late, now. What about it? “
                      “It’s not really the reason why we called you. The hole was benign, the region was inhabited for years. But it released cubic tons worth of oxygen in the atmosphere.”
                      “So what?” she was puzzled.
                      “Well, that theory states that insects size is proportional to the amount of oxygen in the air… Supposedly the reason why there were giant insects in the prehistoric ages…”
                      “Yep,… wait till you see the size of the mosquitoes”, he said handing her a shotgun.


                        “I don’t know!” Jeremy shouted at the guy with the round spectacles and the Chinese traditional garments full of intricate Chinese button knots.

                        The guy showed no sign of losing patience although they’d asked him the question whole morning long.
                        “That is unfortunate, Jeremy” the guy in charge said slowly. He was stroking Max in long broad stokes, flattening the ears with his palms, while the cat was purring like an engine oblivious to the danger in the room. “As you know, there are many ways to skin a cat…”

                        “Don’t you dare harm Max!”

                        “So let us recap from the start” the Chinese man said. “You told us you don’t know the man, or his companion. That they appeared and disappeared in a rag, to destination unknown.”
                        Jeremy nodded, trembling of rage at the way the man was holding his cat.

                        The Chinese man gave a brush of hand, which all the goons in the apartments took as a cue to leave them two alone.
                        When they were all gone, he tightened his grip around the cat’s soft neck, and leaned closer to Jeremy:

                        “My friend, the trace we left in our fugitive’s stomach led us to your place, so there is no doubt he was there. How he disappeared again is a mystery you will help us solve, whether you want it or not.”

                        Jeremy looked at him quizzically “so why don’t you use your trace to locate him again?”

                        “The problem is, by now, either he’s digested and dumped it somewhere in a hot steaming pile of shit, or he’s managed to cloak the signal. Those things were to be expected. I guess he went to you for a reason. He wasn’t able to locate our thief’s location without your help. So now, you will help us do the same.”

                        Jeremy protested “But we tried it already, with the cucumber and all, but it didn’t work!”
                        Somehow, a thought came with brief and intense clarity to him. The Chinese man noticed the glimmer in Jeremy’s eye and smiled thinly.
                        “What is it?”
                        “The map was working for him, as well as the cucumber, for some unexplainable reason. But not for you or me, it doesn’t mean anything! Of course! We have to try something different, focus on finding the person or thing you want, and let me draw another map.”

                        Cheung Lok was starting to feel closer than he had been in months. He untied Jeremy, and gave him the cat. “Do it, do it now.”

                        Jeremy lifted Max, tenderly wrapping the cat’s soft body like a scarf on his shoulders. He reached for the wall and took a coloured pin off the cork-board.

                        While the Chinese guy was busy calling back his goons, Jeremy quickly started to draw on the skin of his arm a symbol with swirly lines, and going in a trance, started to dance into a swirling vortex.

                        “He’s escaping!” Cheung Lok shouted in Chinese to the others, “Catch him!” he said, striving, but only too late, to catch the youngster who had just disappeared with his cat inside the vortex which was already rapidly closing around them.


                          King Artie yawned, sitting in a slumped posture in the throne room, where the mother-of-pearl columns were shining with the morning light’s long shadows.
                          As usual it was empty at this early hour of the day, and he was supposed to have a his weekly review with the castle’s chamberlain.

                          The chamberlain was a little stunted man, with some missing knuckles on his left hand and a broad unwavering smile firmly planted on a big round head with large ears, no matter the topic of discussion.

                          “Shall we commence, your Majesty?”
                          “Whatever…” The King was still hungover from the last night’s party and the voice was ringing unpleasantly in his ears.
                          “To make it short, I’ve narrowed down the topics to a few.
                          “Very well…”
                          “Firstly, shall we talk of the new comers on our lovely island of Abalone?”
                          “yes, how come I haven’t met them already?”
                          “Well, they are still adjusting, you know how Abalone’s magic works… Power of positive anticipation, etc. it takes a while to adjust and discover the city, a lot of people never get around it without some help actually, depending on how permeable their current worldview’s beliefs are…”
                          “Well, keep me posted when they get there.”
                          “Very well, Sire. And… on the topic of finding you a Queen…?”


                            Fanella took Sanso’s advice and sobbed heartily. It released vast misty clouds of yellow and green energy that she had been bottling up during the recent traumatic experiences with teleporting. The coloured mist filled the room and poured out of the open window, tinting the sea mist pea green and bile yellow. Fanella was still hiccuping and blowing her nose when Sanso arrived, displacing the yellow green mist with a gust of orange red, and a foul odour.
                            “Excuse me for a moment dear” he gasped, doubled over clutching his abdomen. “One can only cloak a signal for so long before it goes into spasm.”
                            Fanella forgot her crying bout at the sight of Sanso on the floor imitating a sagging cow, but was glad she had a tissue handy to cover her nose with when the room suddenly filled with noxious orange gas, expelled with a trumpeting sound equal to the horns of Gabriel.
                            AHHHHH” he said, smiling broadly. “I think we should get out of here now.”
                            “Yes, let’s!” replied Fanella, trying not to choke.
                            “What a relief! I wasn’t feeling my usual self, trying to digest that signal. Now I feel back to my usual stalwart and trustworthy self.”
                            “Thank Flove for that!” responded Fanella, also feeling very much better, and ready for the next adventure.


                              “He’s escaping!” Cheung Lok shouted in Chinese to the others.

                              It seemed the scene had already played thousands of times in his mind, with various outcomes and different potential scenarios.

                              Cheung Lok was struggling to understand why his choice of potential had finally left him in that New York apartment littered with maps, instead of following Jeremy and his strange cat to wherever they had disappeared.
                              Somehow, it felt as if he’d been there, but had rewinded the action and chosen a different outcome.

                              Not afraid of a good Chinese puzzle, he’d decided to meditate on it. He’d sent his henchmen back to the Corporation, so there was no distraction in the apartment. The summer heat was receding slowly with the sun setting, and a soft breeze made the paper blinds rustle to an irregular tempo.

                              There was no point focusing on the tracking bug’s signal which he’d served in the sea cucumber dish to his guest, as its signal was now gone, and not even reliable. He even started to wonder if following such a fickle and capricious man was his way to the lost robot prototype.

                              The meditation was soothing, if anything else, and his mind felt at peace for a while. Gone was the pressure of performance and success, gone were the merciless and faceless bosses to whom he reported. He was at peace. With the world, with himself, his choices, and even his vanished adversaries.

                              When he opened his eyes, only a small ray of sunlight was left in the room, falling on a piece of lintel that seemed off.
                              He sprung to his feet with the agility of a leopard, and with a swift and precise movement of his hand, removed the piece of sky blue panel. Under it, well hidden in a dusty corner, he found a crumpled bit of green paper that was probably hastily placed here before his team rammed the door open.

                              Unfolding the paper, he smiled as it revealed a wonderfully drawn moving map.


                                “I think we should get out of here now,” said Sanso, opening Fanella’s bedroom door.
                                “Where are you going?” she asked in surprise, not expecting such a mundane exit. “Aren’t we teleporting?”
                                “My dear child!” laughed Sanso, “Why teleport for coffee when there’s a kitchen just down the hall?”
                                Fanella accompanied Sanso to Lisa’s kitchen, wondering how she would explain his presence, but she need not have worried. As soon as Lisa saw him her previously disgruntled countenance shifted, and beamed in welcome recognition. “Sanso! How marvelous to see you again!”
                                It wasn’t until later that Lisa realized that she had never met Sanso in person, not until that moment.


                                  Drawn magnetically towards the mannequin stretched out on Lisas’s kitchen table, Sanso forgot all about coffee ~ or indeed polite small talk. As Lisa prattled on, disjointed snippets interspersed with snorts and raucous laughter, Sanso inspected the map covered body before him, and the sea of torn maps underfoot. He circled the table, examining the body and scattered detritus from all angles and perspectives, his mind firing (and sending sparks to relevant departments) at all the connecting routes that caught his attention of particular or potential interest to the current thread of events.


                                    “And Fanella! How marvelous to see you again too!” Lisa’s beam grew even bigger, if that were indeed possible.
                                    Fanetta rolled her eyes and reminded Lisa, for the umpteenth time, of the correct pronunciation of her name.


                                      “Shall I call you Fanny instead then, dear? It seems to be stuck in my head now to call you Fanella (which I do think sounds much nicer actually) but I think I can manage to remember Fanny,” suggested Lisa.
                                      “Call me what you like, I won’t be here much longer” replied Fanella under her breath.
                                      “What was that you said?”
                                      “Coffee, Lisa, would you like a refill?”
                                      Lisa’s reply was interrupted by an exclamation from Sanso, and they both turned their attention to him.
                                      “Here it is!” he was saying. “Look! The island!” He pointed to an area of map collage on the mannequins left buttock, and stroked it gently while explaining. “It’s named Abalone ~ by some of its inhabitants, not by everyone, but more on that later. The fascinating thing about it is it’s mysterious properties ~ and I don’t mean real estate, although there are some VERY peculiar properties on the island! But properties that allow it to appear on the Earth only at certain times and places.”
                                      “Times such as 2121?” asked Fanella.
                                      “Yes indeed, and also times such as years 111, 222, 333 ~ in fact any number that has a particular significance really, it’s a very loose arrangement really, you know what some people are like about numbers, make up all kinds of nonsense about special numbers, but it serves a purpose as a sort of guideline, I suppose.”
                                      “You don’t need to tell me all that, Sanso. I’ve already read the book.”
                                      “Circle of Eights and Other Stories? Ahahahaha! But the stories in that book are forever changing, Lisa. You may have read the book but every time you read it, it’s different. You don’t know everything there is to know about that island just because you read one version of the book at one time!”
                                      “I didn’t say I knew EVERY thing, SansoLisa replied huffily.
                                      “That’s where we’re going next” Fanella interjected. “Sanso is taking me.”
                                      “Really? How exciting!” Lisa’s eyes lit up. “What a trip! I’ve been thinking about a holiday ever since we got back from Portugal. Hey, can I come too?”
                                      Sanso stole a glance at Fanella, who shrugged helplessly. He winked at her and whispered “trust me”.
                                      To Lisa he said “I can’t think of anything I’d like more. Is there anyone you’d like to bring with you?”
                                      “Why yes, there is, how funny you should ask. I’ll ask Mirabelle if she wants to come.”
                                      Fanella rolled her eyes.


                                        Adeline was pleased to see that her fervent prayers to the statue of The Holy Mother of Plastic had been answered, and that Igor had made a full recovery from the bee stings. Mirabelle, meanwhile credited herself with her tender love and nursing and the cucumber cure, while Igor credited himself with his self healing abilities and healthy resilient young body.
                                        When Adeline found out that Igor was going to accompany Mirabelle, who was going with Lisa, who was joining Fanella and Sanso, on a trip to a mysterious island, she was in a quandary. Should she go with the other two maids? Was it important that they stick together? But what about Boris? Should Boris and Ivan come too?


                                          “That bloke is sure talkin’ some bloody nonsense if you tell me, hope you know what you’re doin’” Jack knew that it was no point arguing with Lisa, and had always been anything but supportive of her fads, including her new and strange attraction to the young girl.
                                          “I s’pose I’ll be takin’ care of them dogs, then. When you comin’ back?”


                                            When he arrived at the office, it seemed empty at first. It was late, people usually left at around 6PM, and at 7, it looked like the last one to go home had forgotten to turn all the lights off.
                                            That’s when he arrived at his boss’ office which was the only one without any lights on, that he realized his boss was still there.

                                            “Oh, Sir, I didn’t realize you were still here, in the dark.”
                                            “In the shadows.” corrected Leon Fat Ngoi, a short portly man in his early fifties although he appeared younger.

                                            Cheung Lok realized there was a double message here, and caught his boss’ meaning. In the Corporation, you were expected to know your boss’ intention with the subtlest of indications. Cheung Lok was the one in the dark, but somehow felt his boss knew more, although he wouldn’t tell without being asked. The three words he’d said were the closest he’d get as an invitation.

                                            “Sir, we found this map, and I believe our target went into hiding there. But…”
                                            “Indeed. We know this island. It was purposely chosen to elude us. As you know the People’s Government has laid claims upon various lands and islands over the years, and have believed this particular island to be part of it.”
                                            “So it shouldn’t be difficult to get there and extradite them?”
                                            “You’re missing the point, son. The reason why our Government’s leaders in their immense wisdom claimed this peace of land is because it is documented to have appeared near the coast of China around a series of years —year 999 in particular.”
                                            Cheung Lok pondered, no wonder they liked the idea, saying 999 was like saying forever in Chinese “What do you mean appeared?”
                                            “This island is appearing and disappearing, only to reappear at certain points of time, and always in different places. Owning this island would have provided our Leaders with great tactical advantage…”
                                            Cheung Lok didn’t know how to interpret the silence.
                                            Fat Ngoi continued “I’ve arranged for a flight for you and a small squad to be parachuted over it. You may not see it before you land.”
                                            Cheung Lok took the last sentence as a cue to leave, and bowed out, moving towards the door.
                                            Fat Ngoi exhaled loudly and before Cheung Lok left, added ominously “You better get prepared for anything, even if you get the robot, you may never get away of the place before the next hundred years or so…”

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