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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        About a week ago, in the reserved section of the Storehouse of Exoteric Artefacts of Karmalott, Obax Winken was pondering in silence for the last hours over the nature of one of them.

        Any artefacts found down there, in the Fog Abyss, was tightly controlled by the P’hope. Nobody wanted an alien object to unbalance the delicate structure of mass beliefs by prematurely introducing abrupt changes coming from visitors, stranded travellers of other times and realities.
        Obax, as an erudite versed in interpreting the meaning of these objects, was entrusted with the classification and gauging of the danger that those objects could cause to the belief construct.
        If an object was deemed troublesome, it would be tentatively destroyed, or if that failed, stored in the forbidden section. But in most cases, objects left by travellers would disintegrate if just a thought projection, and those objects that came with them usually didn’t pose much threat.

        The one he was looking at looked like a strange mask, designed to be blown. He believed it was a cursed horn and couldn’t decide if it was in the interest of science to shelf it with its cursed energy, or remove the curse and release it to the masses for them to enjoy a swimming revolution…

        “Lucius!” he called to his assistant. He was a bit deaf in one ear. LOGSBOTTOM! he called again.
        “How would you call that strange trunk-like apparatus?”


        If the sabulmantium was to be trusted, the beanstalk was a tangle of many paths, and the main and easiest accesses down its dangling twirly greenish tentacles were all outside of the city walls, in a zone where some lords managed to rule pockets of mass beliefs and a bunch of unattractive mongrel mobsters.

        “Sounds potential adventure material” Mandrake had had the nerve to say when they’d packed.
        “No it isn’t” Arona had said.
        Then with more gusto “NO IT ISN’T” as though to convince all the sleepy tarts of the nymphouse below her rented room.

        More doubts had sunken their claws in her tender heart, and a gulp of whatever astral cup didn’t seem in hindsight a worthy deal for all her troubles. Nonetheless, she was a woman of her word, which was probably why she wasn’t of many. Too much trouble being of all of them, whatever that meant.

        “Honestly Mandrake, keeping you on track is worse than herding… dragons.”
        She would have said sheep, but she wasn’t so rude yet. Mandrake could have taken that too badly, and he would again prove useful to distract the guards of the Southern Post. That’s where she decided to go, as with all the heat, it had to be the one less guarded.

        Indeed, when she arrived, as planned, the gate was badly manned, and sleepy soldiers where reaching for the rare spots of shadow.
        She decided to make a run for it. The soldiers didn’t look very fit. She started to go, thinking about zigzagging between the air bottles littering the plaza, when she felt a tug pulling her back by the cloak, almost sending her flying off her butt.

        FUCK!” she shouted as silently as she could. “You again! I thought I told you not to follow me! Mandrake, attack! Go for the balls!”

        She was in a fury, but Mandrake licked his paw with a disgusted look on his face that meant “Hnhn, not going for that, sweetie. You’re on you own to herd that dragon, my lovely pooh.”

        “Shhht!” the guy said with a bit smile.
        “Don’t shush me, you… ninnyhammer!”
        She didn’t know where the last word came from, but they sure felt good, although not quite rude enough.
        “Oh, the lady is a pirate who knows her insults.” he answered with his cocky smile.
        “Don’t mock me, you mooncalf”
        “You were trying to sneak out, were you?”
        “Why do you care, hobbledehoy?”
        “The guards have aircon chain-mail and armours, see, look at those bottles on their backs… How could you beat them running with your heavy cloak?”
        “Maybe Mr Snollygoster has a better suggestion?”
        “Of course I have, if you care to follow me, Ms Mumpsimus.”

        Arona was almost speechless. Not keen on following any stranger, she asked her guts, and they seemed to have a liking for the handsome fellow. It stirred old remembrance of going with the flow tactics, and when she did actually follow him, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he and Mandrake were already ahead in one of the alleys.

        “Oh, no, let him have the keys to some secret tunnel, I won’t go for another sewer escape!”
        As if her guardien angel has heard her secret prayer, it happened that the stranger had some strange stone key in his bag, opening a secret wall entrance.

        “Oh.” was all she conceded to the stranger.
        Nonplussed he offered her his hand “George” he presented himself still with the same broad smile.
        She took his hand haughtily, and entered the vaulted tunnel, not telling him yet her name, in case she felt like choosing a sexy and mysterious code name. She could trust no one…

        “Traitor” she hissed at Mandrake who was purringly looking at the strangers’ boots.


        The tunnel went on forever, forcing them to duck frequently and wriggle around in exiguous places. To make it worse, it wasn’t even fresh under, and the heat carried on as they went further inside. At times, Arona started to have anxiety flashes, as she was reminded of the labyrinthine tunnels of the dragons of old.

        To give herself more heart, she put her efforts in continuing exchanging niceties and other manners of rude elaborate insults with the stranger, who surprisingly was a match to boot.

        “Stop glumping, we’re almost there” he said to her, showing a final passage on a narrow ledge above crystal clear waters.

        She was too exhausted to retort something witty, but took a mental note that he deserved one more of what she had.

        When they emerged, the sun was almost set. The tunnel came out right at the rim of the floating land, and a tight network of ropeways were stretched under the tangled tentacles of the giant beanstalk, which kept the whole city and its neighbourhood afloat. More gymnastics in perspective she thought, but she was prepared for that.

        “Don’t go too close, you’ll fall to your doom…” It was the first time the stranger’s voice hinted at some fear.

        Arona smiled as elegantly as she could, despite being out of breath and red as a purpato. Lifting a limp Mandrake from the ground, she suddenly unwrapped her heavy cloak and lunged into the void below, the wind blowing in her strange mouldy wings.

        “Follow me if you dare!” she shouted to the stranger, while struggling to navigate the downward spiral like an oversized flying squirrel.


          Around 3:37pm, the three queens heard a loud noise coming from the street that lasted for about five seconds.
          “What was that ?” asked Terry.
          “It sounded like a fucking coughing ass”, said Consuela.
          “It sounded more like someone grinding the pavement with sandpaper”, said Maurana.
          Her two friends looked at her with an air of wtf.
          “You remember my Uncle Bog, the sculptor ?” she continued. “He used to spend hours polishing granite with sandpaper. My father said he was just too lazy to get the job done. Well, it sounded a bit like that. Except louder.”

          Terry ran to the door and looked outside. She wanted to be the first to know.
          “Oh My God! It’s her”, she said, her voice shaking. “She drives a Harley, and I think she just braked with her platform shoes. They’re still smoking.”
          She turned and looked at them wide-eyed.
          “She’s a dwarf queen.”


          The sweltering hours of the afternoon limped along, and despite the lack of comfortable furniture in the Processing Department, Lisa and her two companions dozed off. Lisa dreamed of a folly in the City, and met a woman called Pseu who she was explaining her predicament to. When Lisa became lucid, she called Fanella and Ivan into the dream, while they discussed the situation.

          Pseu expressed a strong interest in meeting them inside the walled Gazalbion when they awoke. She had coveted some coordination point tiles from the ruins of an old temple long buried, and then rediscovered, in one of the tunnels.

          Visibly relieved, Ivan remarked “If you know where the tunnels are, then we can escape!”

          “Oh, we won’t escape through that tunnel, that tunnel leads down into the cities below. I have a better idea, leave that to me. I’m thinking of parachuting elephants landing on the wall itself, that was rather clever of old Lazuli Galore. Very creative, we’ll explore that idea further when the time comes.
          But first we must find the tunnel and the tiles. When you awaken in the Processing Department, look out for me, I will be shapeshifting according to the circumstances. Only you will notice me, but do pay close attention to the messages I am conveying, and follow me to the tunnel.”


            The giant beanstalk was wilting alarmingly due to a severe infestation of wooly aphids.. If the aphids were not brought under control, and fast, it would be catastrophic.


              Large crumbling pieces of earth released by the giant wilting beanstalk started to rain menacingly over Gazalbion.


                Seeing her protégés risking being horribly crushed under piles of rocks, Pseu immediately teleported an ant and decided to queen it to ensure it would successfully thrive and farm those wooly aphids to halt the wilting process.


                Lisa awoke first, sticky with sweat. Quietly, she jiggled her leg which was dead from lack of circulation, letting the others sleep. There may not be much time for rest, she reasoned, we know not what the next chapter will bring, or where it will lead. She closed her eyes again, and contemplated the feeling of restriction, thinking about other times when she had felt restricted or blocked.

                There was that time when she joined the creative collaberative writing group many years ago, with the intention of developing a free flow of inspiration and imagination. Indeed that was what the advertising bumph had professed, that it was to assist people to release themselves from their writers blocks, unleash their imaginative potential, free their souls to express themselves unhindered by protocol or hidebound tradition. It had all seemed like just the ticket, just what she wanted, and she had dived into the project and gloried in the unexpected things that were born from simply letting the words flow. But then a strange thing started to happen. Every time she went to the class, her contributions were criticized, scoffed at for not following the plan, despite that there was no plan ~ no plan had been mentioned in the small print when she signed up, anyway. But other people had made plans for what she was to write, and it confused her greatly. It was troublesome because the more she enjoyed the process of writing itself, the more discouraging the group became with it’s constant criticisms of the right way to approach the process. Instead of promoting less restrictions, it was constantly advocating more restrictions, more rules to follow, endlessly complicating it all. What made it all the worse was that she so enjoyed it, looked forward to it, and benefited so much from it. Well, she had used the experience to practice not minding about other peoples opinions and to carry on regardless, not restricting herself to acquiesce to other peoples expectations, exploring her own stories and connecting links and layers with other stories ~ wasn’t that what life was all about? take what you want, and leave the rest? Steer your own ship?

                Her meandering thoughts led her to the words of the old dead guru, Elbutt. Love doesn’t mean liking every comment, he had said, Love means knowing and appreciating the whole story, the whole scenario. It didn’t mean you had to find something likable about each and every role, but to acknowledge and appreciate the whole and that the roles that were played within it were a part of that whole, regardless of whether you liked them or not. That definition of love had made a great deal of sense to Lisa, who was not one to use the love word overmuch.

                A cockroach climbing on her foot distracted Lisa from her thoughts, and she absentmindedly brushed it off. The cockroach was not deterred, and returned to climb on her foot repeatedly until Lisa suddenly remembered Pseu. The cockroach, once it was sure it had Lisa’s attention, scurried out into the courtyard adjoining the Processing department waiting room, stopping on a manhole cover, and then returning to Lisa’s foot, and then returning to the manhole cover.

                “Are we to go down there?” whispered Lisa, pretending to cough as a guard walked past. The cockroach did a pirouette as if to confirm. Lisa furtively looked around. The guard had gone; it was time to wake Ivan and Fanella.


                As soon as Lisa and her companions were safely beneath the manhole cover, Pseu shapeshifted back into her usual self.
                “On the way to the ancient temple, I’d like to stop off at the remains of the tile factory ~ oh don’t worry, it’s on the way!” said Pseu, noticing Lisa’s expression. “We don’t even need to make a detour. And” she added, “You will be pleased to know that there are already some breaches to the walls. There has been some earth shifting due to a beanstalk infestation, fortuitously landing on the wall. As soon as we have collected the tiles, we find a breach and make our exit.”
                “What about Sanso?” asked Fanella. “Shouldn’t we try to find him?”
                “Oh, I heard a rumour that he was in the wrong story. Don’t worry about him, he’ll find a way back sooner or later” replied Pseu. “Come on! This will be fun!”


                  Linda Pol was having an egg shampoo after she’d washed out the blood spattered on her face and hair. It would bring out the shine of her almost naturally blond follicles.


                    Well, thought Sadie philosophically, at least I won’t have to worry about washing my hair for a while.


                    Sadie added the second thought in case there was anyone struggling with continuity and wondering why she was going around with dirty hair.


                    Singing Marlborough s’en va-t-en guerre in the shower, Adeline reached for the bottle of hair conditioner, a special concoction to combat brittleness and to boost strength and durability, according to the label. After liberally covering her long dry hair with the product, she noticed that something wasn’t quite right when she came to drying it with the hair dryer.
                    “Oh no!” she exclaimed, dismayed. “I have accidentally used the resin from my 3D plastic printer.”
                    One look in the mirror and she burst into tears.
                    “I can’t teleport looking like this!”


                    Sadie put on a jacket. She wasn’t cold but she found it fascinating to watch the jacket disappear as it made contact with her body. It wasn’t instantaneous, rather, it seemed to slowly dissolve. The colours faded first and then the fabric began to disintegrate until there was nothing visible. She stroked her arm and was relieved to feel the softness of the fleece jacket.

                    Everything I touch, disappears. But it is still there.

                    She checked her messages. Still nothing.”What the fuck are you doing, Linda Pol?”

                    A soft click of the front door latch alerted Sadie that someone was entering her apartment. It was Finnley, her cleaner.

                    Of course, she is not expecting me to be back yet!

                    Sadie resisted the urge to call out. Finnley was an unusual lady— rumour had it that she had been abandoned by her mother at birth and raised by rats—however she was an excellent cleaner. Sadie watched as Finnley entered the hall, stopped and sniffed, as though aware of her presence. She had a flash of anxiety, wondering if her unwashed hair smelt.


                      The data was encrypted in an old usb key, and no matter how hard she tried to break the code, it resisted her attempts. It even seemed that the harder she tried, the more encrypted it became. There are times when you have to call it a day.
                      Linda had never been very good at computers. Nowadays, e-zappers were doing almost everything for you, except dry your hair or toast brioche slices.

                      The last message from that mysterious Management was to leave the key in a trash can in Central Park. She complied gracefully as usual, glad to get rid off all those troubles. Mr Graystone was not very entertaining after his wife passed away, anyway. I don’t like to take care of people. She shivered at the thought of her old mother. It’s always been her nightmare. She tossed the usb key and the thought, and turned away towards more adventure.

                      Then, she thought about Sadie. It’s been a long time since she had received any message from her. As if to answer, the e-zapper suddenly buzzed like a Tasmanian devil on coke.
                      257 new messages from Sadie ? That girl is on a roll. Oh ! She’s in New York. How synchronistic!

                      One more buzz. “Sorry, we didn’t want you distracted. The Management”
                      She began to suspect the rendez-vous point was not so random after all.


                        “Oh! No more phone calls during work”, said Anna Purrna without looking at anyone in particular. It was at least the 57th rule she had been enacting since her arrival. She seemed to have plenty of them.

                        Maurana and Terry looked at Consuela who was gasping like a fish out of the water, desperately trying to find oxygen in a dry environment. Cedric was used to call his mother several times a day. The numbers varied. Maurana thought there could be a pattern to these phone calls, and she had tried to time the interval between them. She hadn’t found it yet, but she felt she was close.

                        “You can go back to your chores”, said the scrawny little drag. She turned back to Saint Germain’s double, to whom she was sickeningly sweet, as if to make the young queens more miserable by contrast.


                          Consuela has been sneaking out, hoping nobody would notice. And by nobody, she meant that fat short drag of a tyrant. Since the arrival of the dwarf queen, their life has been like hell. She’ve made them scrub the floor several times a day, butt tight and high; she’ve made them move the furniture around, and put it back into place. And with all that they also had to keep on with their usual duties, the fat dancers, the bar and St Germain’s show.

                          “Kittie, kittie, kittie” The voice of the dwarf seemed ominous.
                          Oh! Shit, thought Cedric, I didn’t even have time to call mum. He tried to hide behind the bins but it was too late.
                          “Ah! Little kittie, I found you.” The voice was sweet as a Grannie’s voice, but the face could compete in the category of the evil clowns.


                          Noticing the distinctive odour of unwashed hair, Finnley looked around cautiously. Perhaps there was an intruder hiding somewhere. Of course, Finnley reasoned, it could be that Sadie had returned early, and had brought an unsavoury visitor with her who had left the lingering, but never the less pungent aroma. It surely couldn’t be Sadie, who was usually so scrupulously clean and sweet scented. Unless Sadie was poorly and had been too unwell to bathe.

                          Her concern about Sadie over riding her fear of a possible intruder, Finnley checked the bedroom, calling out softly to Sadie, but there was no sign of her in there. Next she checked the bathroom, tapping gently on the closed door, and then cautiously pushing it open when she had no reply.

                          Eventually, after checking everywhere and finding no sign of Sadie or any indication of an intruder, Finnley decided she was being over anxious ~ Sadie must have had a guest, and they had recently left the building together. She started to clean, methodically and efficiently. But her unease escalated as the more she cleaned, the stronger the smell of unwashed hair grew, and she was unable to pinpoint where the smell originated from ~ it seemed to be moving around, following her.


                            “Why haven’t these windows been cleaned?” snapped the bossy dwarf. “And these mirrors? The mirrors are disgusting, and I can smell unwashed hair everywhere.”
                            “I’m not surprised, with all this housework, we haven’t had time to wash our hair, what do you expect?” retorted Consuela, almost at the end of her tether with the demanding interloper.
                            Anna Purrna glared at her. “How dare you speak to me like that!”
                            Consuela glared back. “Just what gives you the right to come here and start bossing us all around anyway? Where have you come from, who sent you?” Conseula was starting to warm up for a heated exchange. “What gives you the authority to boss us around?”
                            “I am” replied the monstrous diminutive gargoyle, “Your inner dictator, made physical. For your own benefit.”
                            Consuela was at a loss for words.


                            “What a…” King Artie almost lost his smile after being dumped by Arona on the edge of the cliff.
                            Fear not, little chipmunk, I will have you soon wrapped around my finger…

                            He looked inside his bag for the precious bottled elixir. He’d managed to steal it from the P’hope’s apothescary. Among a bizarre collection of dried insects, the P’hope had some vials of pure waterbee’s royal jelly mixed with p’hopolis.
                            Collecting the essence of flowers from all over the kingdom and distilling the mass beliefs into this life-sustaining elixir, the waterbees royal jelly and p’hopolis had many properties, a bit like a wish-fulfilling gem in liquid form.
                            He knew using it would probably trigger some false notes in the mass belief organ of the P’hope, risking alerting him, but he had no choice, the damsel was already getting out of view, and he couldn’t spend days crawling down the shaky beanstalk.

                            “Who said we couldn’t grow wings” he said after a gulp of the precious potion. That was the magic formula he needed.

                            The smile returned as wings started to sprout out of his back, and without a second’s hesitation, he followed the sexy flying squirrel in mouldy cloak-wings.

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