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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      When Irina, with Mr R and Greenie in tow, approached the spot where the robot had detected activity, she had a lurching sense in her stomach that something strange was about to happen.

      Some buzzing seemed to approach and leave, like a wobbling effect in the air around them, although she could see nothing.
      Mr R, with its caterpillar boots seemed to have to trouble moving ahead, but with a silent sign of her hand, had him slow the pace down and move more silently.

      A cracking sound, and she turned around.
      A woman with a shotgun pointed at her was there, and a guy with handsome features. Caught unaware, Irina froze, and closed her eyes, trying to reach some inner peace before the imminent gunshot.

      “Madam? Are you alright?” came Mr R’s soothing voice. Next to her, Greenie was drawing on her pants, with a concerned look on her face.

      She opened her eyes, confused and relieved. The odd couple of hunters seemed to have vanished. Yet, she could have sworn hearing a gunshot and the blood of a giant mosquito splatter all around.
      She could as well have dreamt all awake, as there were not a single trace around to back her vision.

      “That’s what it is then…” Irina started to realize something. “Mr R, if you will, what about those presence you detected earlier?”
      “Gone Madam, it seemed to have been a glitch.”
      “A glitch, yes…” she said pensively. “Or something else…”

      The things she’d just experience reminded Irina about some of the things she’d read in the past about the Bardo state of the Buddhists. She wasn’t a Buddhist, more a Realist ascendant Romantic. Yet, they made some interesting points about the nature of reality.
      Usually, Irina was the kind of girl who liked to work up to her goals’ achievements. Building the little place for herself, even if mostly the work of Mr R, was a good example. Give her enough time, and she would always find resources to make a better life for herself. But here, it seemed beside the point. It could well be an endless loop.

      She wanted to pierce the veil that surrounded the place, instead of erring in the fog of her own projections. She looked at Greenie and Mr R. She wasn’t sure they were real any longer, even if she had sure grown fond of them. She would see…

      Now, how to get this island to reveal its secrets… As much as she found it boring, prayer or meditation seemed to be the only solution she could come up with for now. Less fond of the first solution, she chose the second and sat cross-legged on a mossy patch of the bog, where the sound of water seemed to have the right qualities.


        King Artie was walking in the gardens along with the Chamberlain, on his way for a cooling bath in the rainwater tanks carved below the castle.

        They stopped on the edge of the main courtyard, from which a large part of the land nearby could be seen. Plumes of steam where raising around the areas where the river’s water fell onto the land below. For the palace and the land were built high in the sky, believed to be latched upon an immense lump of earth, raised from the island by the roots of a giant beanstalk.

        King Artie had never ventured outside of the castle. “Tell me Downson, is it true what they say, about that giant beanstalk? I’d like to see it sometime.”
        The Chamberlain replied shaking his knuckle-less hand in the air. “Oh well, Majesty, a trip can be arranged, for certain. It would require some magi to guide us, but it can certainly be done. And of course, yes, it is true. Might not have been the case before, but you know, matter and reality sinks their roots deep into beliefs. Whatever the good people believes is, in fact,… actually true.”

        But King Artie’s mind was already quickly gone to another topic, not being too fond on dwelling on the metaphysical.
        “Any word from Parsifal? Seems to have a unusual high activity of lost souls in the fog down below…”
        “No, your Highness, no word yet from the Royal Sentries. Indeed, there has been unusual activity. Some people, I believe with a very active mind and quite an imagination. We had to ask our Priests to conduct a mass to repair a huge hole that appeared a few days ago.”
        “Good. You should ask them to have the good people pray for some rain too. That damn heat is unbearable.”
        “Of course, Sire. But you know, the good people’s beliefs are fickle, and apart from the farmers, a lot of the townsmen would prefer endless sun and no clouds. Hopefully our dear P’hope Jube the Brave will pray some sense into them.”
        “Indeed. Otherwise, a good fall down the Fog Abyss will sure clean up our mass beliefs of those heretics, I expect.”


          Jube the Brave was mistifying the waterbees’ hives in the P’hopery’s garden. The p’hopolis harvest looked promising.

          Dressed in his usual black robe and wearing a silver zucchetto, the P’hope liked to think of himself as a simple man when he was alone. Although, simple he was not. His main function was to keep balance in the mass belief clouds around Karmalott, the city in the sky of Abalone. It had been decided long ago that in order to keep this balance, the P’hope should be male and female in equal measure. Since it was hard to find hermaphrodites in Abalone’s population, the P’hope had to be male during half of the year and female the other half.

          As a man, his motto was “Only imbeciles never change their mind”. Which he zealously applied to keep people in line with his purpose.


            Beside being a casino, the 888 pavilion had a particularity. It was one of those reverse buildings with a ground floor and all the other stories underground. Since the Great Reform of Feng Shui in 2088 by Feng Shui master Jeorge Huhu, who discovered that dead people weren’t actually living six feet under, it wasn’t considered bad Feng Shui any more to dig your home.

            Obviously, for practical reasons, such building could not go too deep in a volcanic island. A column of light in the center assured the lighting of the eight floors by an expensive network of optical crystals. The opacity of the end crystals could be adjusted using polarized filters to create a dark atmosphere similar to the old-time prohibition casinos, or simulate daylight as in the volcanic pool on the bottom floor, which was affectionately referred to as Hell by the 888 pavilion’s employees.


              The bellboy, whose name was Kevinlol, as Linda Pol had found out thanks to her e-zapper, had led the Queen of drags to the fifth floor.

              The short trip down with the main elevator had been most interesting. It was designed to look like a richly decorated wooden door opening to the temple of games. The usual mirror on the walls of the cabin had been replaced by a huge screen which showed hosts or hostesses in sumptuous attires welcoming you like Ulysses sirens. Nobody coming out of the elevator, you were fully submerged by promising images of luxury and endless pleasures, endless wins. Looking at the blush on the customers faces and their fidgeting, it seemed to work well.
              The use of Feng Shui seems to have evolved through time, she thought amused, from simple well being philosophy to overt mental and emotional manipulation.

              A particular scent, she had already smelled in Las Vegas, made her realized that there were also chemicals released to create in anticipation that fleeting euphoria people would desperately try to recreate through the excitement of the games. Knowing it, could help you stay centered, but her heartbeat became faster and she felt the compulsion to get more, she realized it was hard to resist the temptation.

              When the doors actually opened to the second floor below earth, more than half the contingent of people got out towards the casino. The sirens were here to drag you down with their smiles. Linda Pol looked at the customers, they were more than willingly sucked into the gaming world of cards and chips, ready to open their pockets and their souls to the conniving croupier.
              Beware of the number you choose, she thought, the bank may not like them.

              A quick look at Kevinlol showed he was totally oblivious to the sirens. His poker face was as smooth and young as ever, his pupils looked normal, and his skin tone hadn’t changed despite the chemicals.
              Robot? She couldn’t help the thought.
              The third floor was restaurants and bars, huge spiraling automatic stairs seemed to connect it directly with the casino, certainly to help people find their way up when they were finished refueling. The dozing effect of digestion was certainly good for business.

              Then they arrived at the fifth floor. She wondered briefly what had happened to the first and fourth floors. But the doors opened to another kind of sirens, her attention shifted completely, more surely than any substance could have done. It was the kind of butts she couldn’t resist, promising firmness and endurance, set into a Imperio Dareme pair of jeans. Linda Pol had always thought that braces had the same effect on a man’s butt as a wonderbra on a woman’s breast. She blushed like a young girl discovering boys were interested in her mythical virginity.

              The butt turned around and, mother f*ck*r, the face was gorgeous. Two days beard on a square jaw, the adventurer.


                The Time Seam Bar, as they renamed it, for all the efforts put in it had a slow start, but after a few weeks started to do extremely well.

                Admittedly there was a bit of a public relationship boost offered (not quite completely out of generosity obviously) by the cable network. They’d been alerted of the re-purposing of the Time Sewer facility by the Queens after a routine control of their presence on cleaning duty. The report wasn’t glowing, but somehow a business-oriented member of the Board managed to get the Cable Network to lend some money and advertisement to bring the little venture to the next level.

                Props got a major overhaul and interior designers helped rearrange the space. They even got the Queens an impersonator of St Germain, an old has-been forgotten star who was still on the Network’s payroll and whom they didn’t know what to do with. He was actually doing a brilliant St Germain.

                Amar was in the room at the back, doing some accounting while Reginald was at the bar and Cedric was managing the fat dancers and, of course, St Germain’s shows. So far, the arrangement worked well, and they were quite proud of their success. Cedric’s mother couldn’t stop her praises and rants on the website’s page, so they had to moderate it a bit, but that was basically the most trouble they were in.

                “Another day gone well…” Reginald was removing his wig and make-up, with Amar still counting the last cash made for the day.
                “Reg’, I’ve started to remember things from our visit at the techromancer’s hut, I still don’t know what to do of it.”
                “I’ve been remembering stuff too… Some scary shit.”


                  “Miss Pol ?” asked the man. His voice was full of testosterone. Linda Pol considered a moment using her doe eyes on him. Her lips parted slightly under an untimely warmth coming from her groin.
                  “Yes.” She swallowed. She realized she was holding her breath. “Actually, it’s Linda Pol, this is my…”, she wanted to keep it simple this time, “stage name. You can call me Linda”, she offered him a wide smiled, which he ignored.
                  “Who’s that ?” he asked glaring suspiciously inside the elevator.

                  “Who ?” Linda, unsettled by her conflicting feelings towards the man’s beauty and his brusqueness, looked back. She had completely forgotten about Kevinlol who seemed oblivious to the conversation, politely waiting for his customer to get out of his elevator.
                  “Oh! Him ? He’s the bellboy who brought me Amber’s message”, she said with a tone she hoped casual. “Is that a gun in your pants ?” The words had escaped her mouth as if all her inhibitions had been put to sleep. Bloody sirens! More potent than I expected, she’d had to be careful.

                  The man put his hand on his gun and grunted. “Follow me”, he said, and, without waiting, he turned around and strode into the corridor. Linda Pol gathered her wig and heels, and followed his butt.


                    The room numbers were framed in a golden disc carved with what looked like zodiac animals and a circle of eights.

                    Linda observed the man walking in front of her. As soon as the effects of the lust gas had dissipated, she had been able to focus on something else than his butt. He’d been watching over his shoulder, and it was not to see if she was keeping with his pace. He had been frowning ever since she’d met him, and you could say his whole attitude exuded wariness. Despite her Happiness Training and the meditation practice at night with Sadie, she was beginning to feel some bowel tension. Not good for her digestion.

                    He stopped in front of room 57. He knocked, didn’t wait for an answer, instead used his magnetic key to open it, and entered. She followed. He looked one last time on both sides of the corridor, then locked the door.

                    They were in a big yellow lounge. Linda addressed a silent prayer to the Good Taste Goddess, sympathizing with the pain She must have endured each time an interior designer had expressed such lack of sobriety. It wasn’t just the color. The furniture seemed to come from Hart to Hart, except the sofa was in a dark yellow leather, and the cushions in a bright magenta.

                    “Wait here ‘till I call you”, he said. He left through a door on the right, taking his frown with him.
                    Linda heard him talk to someone in the other room, certainly a bedroom. A feminine voice answered him. They argued for some time. The woman was the last to speak. Then the silence.

                    Linda hesitated to seat on a jumping armchair with yellow and brown stripes. It was as if every cell of her body, and even the molecules of her clothes were repelled by the choices of the interior designer. She would have sworn her platform shoes were trying to levitate from the carpet.

                    The man’s head appeared at the door.
                    “Come in, she’s ready to see you.”

                    Linda could see emotions struggle on his face.

                    “But I warn you”, he said, his fists clenched, “she’s been sick since we have arrived. If my wife is tired, I’ll ask you to leave.”

                    “Oh!” Linda said.


                      “I’m rubbish at meditation!” Irina said, opening her eyes after her tenth session in a row.

                      Mr R, who’d been waiting for her to come back from her inner trip, was, as usual, quick to dispense soothing encouragements
                      “Madam doesn’t give herself enough credit. After all, you have managed to… shall I say… appear this quaint bird.”

                      What? Irina looked at the direction Mr R was pointing at. That darn parrot again?!
                      Indeed, looking quite puzzled to be on one of the bog’s shrubs, Huhu was tilting, or rather bobbing his heard from left to right in a pendulous and rhythmical fashion, while Greenie was jumping around the shrub eager to catch the colourful beast.

                      “Then, that only confirms my suspicions…” she said. She had briefly connected to the bird, just about when she was processing the bleedthrough shotgun attack to bring her thoughts back to clarity. You wish… Sometimes the minds works in endless mysteries; she couldn’t tell why the bird came up in her thoughts, but it was apparently all it needed to appear there.


                        Irina turned to little Greenie, who had so far only communicated in body langage, and little more than grunts.

                        “Dearie,” she took the little face in her hand to look her in the eyes. There was slight resistance in the girl’s, but she was compliant enough that the feedback encouraged Irina to continue. “I believe, you know how to talk, this grunting telepathic business is getting tedious, and Mr R isn’t telepathic, you see…”
                        “But Madam…” Mr R’s beginning to protest was quickly hushed by Irina.
                        “You understand, don’t you?… Yes you do. Communicate with me, okay? You’ve been there longer than I am, and we probably can help each other.”

                        Greenie’s eyes were showing clear signs of intelligence, and yet, there was some trauma still at the surface that she seemed to process, which made interaction tricky.

                        Greenie pointed at the place were Irina had tried to meditate for the past hours.
                        “Oh no, not again…” she sighed. She sat again cross-legged, but this time Greenie wasn’t finished.
                        “What is? What are you trying to tell me?” Irina was confused. She hoped it was not about praying, but then realized that Greenie wanted to join.

                        So they sat in front of each other, with Greenie’s small palms pressed to hers, and again started to meditate.
                        “Mr R, some music of the angels, if you will”

                        After a while, Mr R’s lulling music managed to appeased even the confused Huhu, and Irina started to feel a difference, as though she had broken out of her mind, and could connect to the teen girl in their light bodies.


                          “I’m rubbish at meditation!” Irina said, opening her eyes after her tenth session in a row.

                          But she stopped surprised. What was Greenie doing here, smiling at her, with her hands pressed against one another, and a sleeping parrot in her lap?

                          Something had happened, something different… Prayer or meditation seemed to be the only solution she could come up with. What was happening? She was again in a loop of sorts, but so close to a breakthrough…

                          She looked at Greenie’s eyes, and started to remember… The flight above the clouds, the city…

                          Gwinie!” Irina’s eyes widened. “That’s your real name, isn’t it?”
                          Bits of informations were passing by, like a dream about to slip out of reach, but she relaxed, and like gently untangling a ball of cotton wool, considered the delicate bits of feelings of the dreamlike meditation, yes, the flying, the clouds, the… beanstalk? Something else, more dangerous, shrouded… What had happened to the little girl?


                            Terry used to arrive early. She was always the first at the bar. She found stability and reassurance in the simple acts of opening the door, turning on the lights, preparing and organizing the tables and the little snacks for the customers.

                            That day, after she opened the door, imagining daylight pouring inside, cleansing the darkest corners with the Love of the Universe, she found an envelope on the counter near the cashier. It was sealed with red wax.

                            On it was written : “Terry Amar Bubble, from the Management”.
                            She felt her heart sank. Her mind went blank, certainly a way for her not to put words on the unthinkable.

                            When Cedric arrived later, he found Amar still in a trance, holding an envelop. He’d always been taught not to wake someone who was sleepwalking, but he’d also always had difficulties to not break rules. So he simply did what came first to his mind.

                            “Time to Wake up! Bitch!” He said, slapping Amar on the face with a queen’s grace. Cedric felt deeply satisfied with the sound of his slap. He’d been practicing on his own face in front of a mirror when he was younger.

                            “I received a letter”, muttered Amar. He handed the envelop over to Consuela.
                            “Hey! That’s for me too.” Her pronunciation of the last word hanging around in the air.
                            She showed the words to Terry who felt confused because it was now written “Terry Amar Bubble & Consuela Cedric Winnie, from the Management”.
                            “Let’s open it”, said Cedric, “I don’t want Maurana’s name on the envelope”. He tittered and broke the seal. It made a popping sound and released a golden powder.

                            “Wow, did you see that, Terry ? It’s like fairy dust.”

                            The message let them both confused. It simply said : “Your new intendant,Anna Purrna, arrives today. Be ready.”


                              She was stroking the black cat who was complained loudly at the unwanted massage, when the messenger arrived at her door.

                              “The King’s Chamberlain would like a word… in private” was all the footman had said.

                              “Doesn’t look a slight bit suspicious to you?” the cat told her, shaking and licking the human scent off its fur.
                              “Of course it does, don’t come if you don’t want to.” She replied smugly, wrapping her cloak around her despite the sizzling sun and the humidity.

                              She followed the messenger, wondering what required such discretion.

                              “A weighty matter indeed,” Downson said to her when she arrived at the rendezvous point under a vaulted passageway at a point where the sounds were cancelled out and voices could share deepest secrets in all discretion. “The P’hope has spies in many places… And at least I know of him, so he is not even the most dangerous one, I fear…”

                              She was not of many words. Seeing that, the Chamberlain’s continued.
                              “There are forces at play that conspire against the King’s rule.”
                              She couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow.
                              “I know what you think, people should be self-governed, but you can see it another way, people’s leaders are also the expression of their beliefs. But never mind the philosophy… You are uniquely talented for a rescue mission.”
                              “What do you mean?”
                              “You know have powerful allies… tools,… and dragons too, if the tales are true…”
                              She tittered softly. The tales were true, all of it except about the dragons being powerful allies for some rescue quest. Dragons were lazy dreamers, or at least the ones she used to know. She replied with magnanimity “Let’s assume I’m the person you need for this mission… What is my compensation for it… And don’t serve me platitudes about the travel being all that matters. That grumpy cat needs to eat.”
                              The cat suddenly turned his eyes into the cutest kitty eyes he could do. It would have melted the heart of the most stone-hearted villain in an instant.
                              Well played, Mandrake she winked at the cat telepathically.

                              “Well, word has it that you are on a quest to astral, and maybe I could help with that.”
                              “I could arrange an interview with the Fisher Count. As an entrusted Guardian of the Saint Amber Graastral Stone Cup, he could grant you a drink from it.”
                              “Tell me more about whomever I’m supposed to rescue?”

                              At the sound of footsteps, he stopped, and pushed her towards a column out of sight.

                              “Oh, it’s only a cat” the soldier said, continuing his round unaware of the two.

                              As soon as the other had left, Downson resumed his talk in hurried tone and quicker sentences.
                              “I have good reasons to believe a young girl with great desire to prove herself was sent many years ago to the Fog Abyss as a rite of passage, but she was tricked and left for dead there. The magi who were supposed to protect her only said they had lost her. But something else happened. Last night, one of them came to me full of guilt. He was visited in a dream by an apparition of the young girl and her guardian angel. Something horrible had happened, but she told him she forgave him and that she was alive and well. You need to bring her back to us, and be discrete about it. Somebody wanted her dead and buried, and will stop at nothing to complete the task if they find out she’s alive.”

                              Before the Chamberlain left, he turned back and told her:
                              “Better be quick to leave, I shall have all that you require prepared for you. And a word of advise… you can trust no one, Arona.”


                                Less than a month had passed since Arona had arrived at Karmalott, hoping for a nice vacation time. Apparently, it wasn’t that long before her reputation for lost causes and recovering lost precious item preceded her.

                                With the kids all grown up, and her on and off relationship with Vicentius, she clearly wanted to get some focus back into her life, and she had to agree a quest would do her good. There was nothing like putting back to work all her finest skills she’d honed along many years of practice.

                                “This mission is cra-zy” Mandrake objected.
                                “Of course it is, that is why you want to come along.”
                                “True enough, the heat isn’t doing any good, the mice are smaller and smaller and I’m growing fat and balding.”
                                Arona laughed, Mandrake wasn’t near as bad as he said, but to be true, was getting greyer than he used to.

                                “Any idea who…”
                                “Shht” she urged, rolling her eyes in that subtle way that meant “telepathy only”.

                                Any idea who might be after that girl. And who is she anyway?
                                Some royalty maybe… We’ll surely find out when we get to her. Eyes on the bounty, Mandrake, eyes on the bounty.
                                The cat sighed That castle is creepy, and I say that not in a nice way…
                                Yep, this place is funny strange, haven’t quite figured out why, but something feels odd and off. Get people to believe stuff so you can get what you want for everyone seems nice at first, but it doesn’t look like everyone get what they want, even with their petition system. I’m pretty sure it’s rigged and controlled by the P’hope and his magi to protect their Order.
                                And what about the King?
                                Now the King, he doesn’t seem in control of anything, but he doesn’t look like just an unwilling puppet… He’s afraid of something.
                                So, were do we start then?
                                As always my dear Mandrake, as always she said mentally, showing the carefully wrapped sabulmantium.


                                  Jeremy was close to the safe house, in the past…
                                  He had to warn the others, and better hurry, as Max was usually sick travelling through vortices.


                                    Amber Graystone was dead. Killed by a bunch of masked men. Linda Pol would be dead also if it weren’t for Mr Graystone, whatever his firstname was. That man knows how to use his gun, she thought. Too bad he was caught by surprise. He managed to kill the three men before they could hurt anybody, but it seemed they had gotten to their main target anyway.

                                    “They tried a car incident, poison. I thought I could protect her”, the man was holding his wife, tears in his voice. She had been shot in the head. One clean wound meant to kill. Linda Pol didn’t want to state the obvious, they were professionals. A vibration in her purse signaled a message on her e-zapper.

                                    Sorry for the glitch. It seems the Chinese have found a way to cloak themselves from our surveillance. Retrieve the data from the husband. The Management
                                    The queen began to wonder if they were the network management after all. Why would a TV network have a surveillance system and warn them about the Chinese ? Why would they send her meet a random scientist in Hawai’i ?

                                    While Mr Graystone was grieving his wife, Linda Pol took the liberty to remove the masks of the dead squad. The Chinese indeed. Nothing that could be useful, they all looked the same for her.

                                    She received another message.
                                    Move quick. Others are coming. The Management

                                    “You know”, she said aloud, “I think we should move.”
                                    “I can’t leave my wife here.”
                                    “I know, sweetie. But I think she’s already gone. And I fear those men are not be the only ones after your wife’s secret. Do you have any idea how we can get out discretly ?”

                                    A buzz from her e-zapper told her she just got her answer.


                                      “I can’t believe I thought I was fired”, said Terry. She tittered.
                                      They had shown the letter to Maurana when she arrived, and to Consuela’s dismay, noticed their three names were now on the envelope.

                                      “Rumor has it that she nails whole cat skins on her walls”, said Maurana.
                                      “Only road kicked ones”, added Terry.
                                      “That’s disgusting. The bitch”, said Consuela. Had the thing not been so sensitive, Maurana would have laughed at Cedric’s grimace.
                                      “When do you think she will arrive ? And why would they put someone on our back ? We were doing great on our own.”


                                        Much to everyone’s surprise, Boris called an extraordinary meeting for all the villagers. When Adeline had approached him with a proposition that was troubling her, in his infinite wisdom and practicality, he decided that absolute clarity and open discussion was the only solution. The topic of discussion was the trip to the island with Sanso ~ who wanted to go, and who was willing to stay behind to attend to the animals and the gardens and so on. After several hours of talking and the inevitable sidetracking and joking, interruptions to replenish drinks, fetch snacks or cigarettes, or visit the bathroom, it became apparent that everyone wanted to go, some more enthusiastically than others.

                                        “I have had a spontaneous inspiration to go,” said Lisa, “And I am a big believer is spontaneity. But I am also a big believer in responsibility, and can’t be spontaneous and responsible at the same time ~ unless I can offload the responsibility onto another responsible individual for the duration of my spontaneous holiday.”
                                        “So what you’re saying then is that if I don’t stay home to feed the dogs, then I am denying you your right to be spontaneous?” asked Jack.
                                        Lisa frowned. “If you had just offered to do it, Jack, I could have credited myself with simply trusting it to fall into place. Now you are making me complicate it!”

                                        “I have an idea” suggested Etienne, “That might work for everyone. Let us consider that we need allow no time for travel, as teleport travel is instantaneous, and we need not concern ourselves with money, as timetravel is without financial cost. We can all go, as long as we do it in relays. Unlike traditional holidays, where people save up their money, make arrangements regarding leaving their responsibilities, take time to reach a destination, stay at that destination for a certain time period, and then return, we do not need to concern ourselves with any of that. I suggest we split up into two smaller groups and alternate being present on the island, with our presence here in the village.”
                                        “Now who’s complicating it!” remarked Lisa.
                                        “I think it’s a good idea” Adeline piped up, to a general murmur of agreement.

                                        “If I may say a word” Sanso stood up and looked at each of their faces in turn. “I must be making a move tonight. And all I need to know is who will be coming with me. Fanella and Lisa?” They nodded in agreement. “And which of you intrepid fellows will join us? Ivan?” Unused to being noticed, Ivan nodded and blushed. “Good! Then Mirabelle, Igor, Boris and Adeline can be team two. Jack, Etienne and Pierre, you can be on emergency stand by to assist where needed in either location.”
                                        “Does everyone know how to teleport?” asked Mirabelle. “ I mean properly teleport, to the right place at the right time?”
                                        Sanso laughed. “Well, we are about to find out.”


                                          “What does it say, Sanso?”
                                          The four travelers had arrived on the island in patchy swirling fog in a field full of cucumber plants and sundials. The sundial nearest to Sanso had a letter tied to the handle with blue ribbon.
                                          “If that’s not for me, I don’t know what is,” he snorted, untying the letter as Lisa looked at him in amazement.
                                          “Really, Sanso, that seems so implausible,” she said.
                                          “What does it say?”

                                          bq(Quote).“And we start to hope that if we keep on digging,” Sanso read, “All the way to the core, if we don’t stop, if we perforate the land like a honeycomb, if we make it as flimsy as silk, maybe it will suddenly collapse in on itself. And then, like a tray piled with cups of coffee and cookies that crashes to the floor in a mess of crumbs and glass, it will all mix together.

                                          The upper part and the lower part will blend. And the rules will change. And we’ll be able to say with a sigh of relief: Here is a piece of sky mixed with a cracked piece of sea; here is Shujaiyeh mixed with Sderot; here is Zeitoun mixed with the Mount of Olives; here is compassion mixed with relief; here is one human being mixed with another. above, and with them build a new land.”

                                          “Oh my,” said Fanella, “Are you sure we’ve come to the right place?”

                                          “And an entire people will rise to the surface of the earth,” Sanso continued, “ Pale and faded, blinded by the sun that beats down on the land. And we will stand in silence, waiting for our eyes to adjust to the light. And as we stand there in silence, the fear and anxiety will gradually creep into our heart, that while we were finding refuge in subterranean Gaza, the land above took its own life, was left behind and emptied out.”

                                          “Gorden Bennet,” said Lisa.


                                            Elephants are not used to jump out of planes with a parachute in our reality. So when Lisa noticed a growing shadow around them. She raised her head and it took some time for her to make sense of what she was looking at. The huge grey butt of an elephant approaching relatively fast, desperately eager to establish contact.

                                            It landed on Sanso who knocked by the shock fall into the bog. Now; there are certain chemicals in the bog that induce the hibernation process in a physical body. Sanso reacted to it quickly, blinked out of the island and found himself in a stasis between worlds.

                                            “Sorry”, seemed to say the elephant with the cry elephants usually do. Then, it disappeared.

                                            The three lone travelers looked at each other, feeling deeply lost.


                                            Jube the Brave was having fun, playing his mass belief organ like a jazz musician.

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