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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      The search was for naught, the crystal conch had disappeared.
      Belen and Peetee were so busy getting the Santa Rosa back afloat, and out of sight of most of the humans around, that they had for a moment lost sight of it.
      During the crash, there was a moment of overlap in time and dimension that had created a bridge so to speak, and some of the sailors had found way on the old ghost whaler.
      Usually, they wouldn’t be able to go past the birds’ fierce guard, but most of them were in disarray, scavenging the nearby beach and distraught.
      Belen had quickly reorganized the tile patterns from the backup grid when she’d realized one from the usual one was dislodged, and in a flash, all the intruders were back were they belonged.

      After a week, most of the ghost birds and live ones that wished had rejoined the deck, the main damages were repaired with some blue light energy, and the Santa Rosa was moored near the village.

      “Without the conch, no tide” Peetee Pois said ominously. “We better remote-view its position, as I suspect someone may have taken it. And we’re still in 2020!”


      Sadie stared for a long silent moment at the odd looking guy, wondering how whatever he could say could help her on her path.

      She was about to decide it was a fruitless quest and leave the girls waiting behind have a crack at him, which would be easy given his desperate lack of style and fashion and need for a manicure. But then, the techromancer broke his meditative silence and said in a very loud voice:

      GOOD day to you! You KNOW very well you are only going to get an ANSWER if you ask your QUESTION, and that getting back without asking it, is not ACTING on your EXCITEMENT. So, what is your STORY, HERE in the 2222 NOW?”


      Jonbert’s robot had easily found the location, but it was in standby in a cafe near the techromancer’s hut, posing as a tourist in a flower shirt with a straw hat and a glass of coconut oil.

      Jonbert had received additional information about the whale network which seemed to change slightly his plans. The Ghost Whale who was supposed to preside over the rituals was apparently delayed in Time, making the retrieval of the second key problematic.
      He would have loved to rudely prompt Linda Paul to get her Queens in alignment, but for now, there was no point to that yet. He’d better leave them at their little escapade, under close surveillance from his robot.
      In all cases, they would all have to wait more in the nexus of times.
      Using his ivory carved forking long shoehorn, he scratched his itchy back. It was for him rather infuriating to be stuck, he sighed “Stuck in 2222!”. The robot bearing those news had learnt it the hard way.

      He stroked distractedly his luscious mane of red hair. At 153, thanks to regular nano-implants, Jonbert was incredibly healthy, in a very healthy and hairy manner, unlike many others he wouldn’t name.


      Lisa was delighted when she woke up the next morning recalling a dream. She had just joined the new dream group despite hardly ever remembering dreams in the hopes that the pooling would improve her recall. In the dream she had been going on a trip with a few friends, and was waiting for the ferry to leave. The boat was on the beach instead of in the water, and there was thick fog but a number of people on the beach, so she went for a wander around and saw a man stretched out on his back, fully clothed, reading a book, the surfboard gently rolling in with the tide, and out with the tide, and back again. When she returned to the ferry it had turned into a building, the interior quite different from the ferry, and her friends were gone. Lisa checked her bag for tickets and camera, but they were missing, and the bag was full of plastic forks and spoons instead. Bloody Adeline! she thought. Plastic spoons and forks but no camera and no tickets!


        The dogs barking woke Lisa up; at first she assumed she had woken up disorientated and disgruntled because of that, but then she recalled all the screaming, no, more like bellowing, she’d been doing in her dream. Intense passionate bellowing howls, like an expulsion of pained frustrated energy, of outrage. Frustratingly, she recalled no details. There had been a similar dream the previous Easter when she was sick ~ the same kind of howls, and she had felt much better afterwards, but she wasn’t sick now ~ in fact, she had been feeling better than she had in a long time.
        Sipping her tea and still feeling cranky at being woken up, Lisa recalled the strange phone call she’d received the night before, and had a feeling it might be an element of her dream. One of her neighbours from just outside the village phoned, Clarissa. Clarissa was a young widow; since her elderly husband had died some months ago, and she had lived alone with her eight dogs. There had been nobody to ensure she took the medication she needed for her condition, which had resulted in a series of challenging episodes, alarming the locals. A few weeks ago, one of Juan’s sheep had been talking to her and wouldn’t stop, so she killed it in the lane outside her house. The sheep kept talking to her, so she cut it’s head off (a gruesome struggle by all accounts, although thankfully Lisa hadn’t witnessed it herself). The severed sheeps head continued to talk to the troubled Clarissa, so she kept the head on her verandah. That was the last thing that Lisa had heard when she received the unexpected phone call.
        Clarissa was polite and friendly on the phone, inviting Lisa and Jack over for drinks ~ insisting really with an edge of desperation in her voice. Lisa declined the invitition, and omitted to mention that Jack was out playing poker. If it had not been for the sheep incident, Lisa might have responded differently, but her sense of responsibility to her own animals made her cautious. Then, to her horror, Clarissa offered to come round and feed Lisa’s dogs.
        As soon as the long and insistent phone call ended, Lisa gathered all the dogs up into the gated top patio; a little later she was gratified to hear a noisy game of football going on in the street outside. Had she over reacted? Should she have had more compassion for the distressed young woman? Lisa lit another cigarette, feeling confused. She had only met Clarissa once, many years ago, and had no idea why she had called her, or where she got her phone number from. She knew of her because of the convoluted connecting links between them ~ Clarissa’s husband had been her own friends father. And she had heard about the various incidents since he had died from other neighbours.
        Lisa had the unsettling feeling that she had refused a call for help. On the other hand, she felt that she had responded to the call for help in merely speaking to Clarissa on the phone. Lisa had been kindly towards her, although not encouraging of any physical contact.
        Lisa sighed. She felt a stronger connection to Clarissa now, but was unsure what it would entail.


          “Tuna wars!” Jack said as the alarm clock bleeped. “Tuna wars?” asked Lisa, but got no response; Jack was still asleep.
          There had been an impromptu gathering the previous evening, various friends had unexpectedly called round, some bringing their holiday visitors with them and they had sat drinking beer and wine on the patio until well after midnight. Lisa started clearing away the ashtrays and bottles, noticing the racket the sparrows were making ~ they seemed unusually agitated this morning, darting between the overgrown foliage flapping and shrieking. When Lisa had finished clearing up the debris, she kept looking around, wondering what was missing or out of place. Something didn’t seem right. What was it, what was missing?
          The tile! That strange convoluted tile shaped rock that she’d found on the beach was gone!


            “This stuff’s worth a fortune! We can sell it on Eplay. It’s ambergris, whale vomit
            “Sells for astronomical amounts, it’s very rare, and this piece must weigh close to five kilos, we’ll be rich!”
            “I can’t believe you stole it, Frank” said Molly, “From those nice people we met last night.”
            “Oh, they’ll never notice it, did you see how many rocks and bits of driftwood on that patio? Nobody will miss it. If they knew it’s value it wouldn’t have been sitting there on the patio, would it?”
            “I suppose not” Molly replied doubtfully. “There were so many people there than nobody would suspect us anyway. How much did you say it was worth?”


            It started raining lightly on the hut and the queens found themselves woken up from what had seemed a very long dream conversation.
            “What just happened? What did he tell you?” Consuela asked.
            “All in good time” Sadie answered still processing the information.
            “Let’s go back to the beach, we will be late for the wetsuits fitting.”

            The ezapper’s GPS started to send new instructions. “In 10 meters turn left…”
            Then it added ominously “… at your peril”.


            “Raining?! At this time of year?” cried Lisa in alarm. “I will have to rethink my packing now!”
            Using her telepathic skills, Lisa was pretty certain that Frank and Molly were in Lisbon ~ and that they had been the ones who had stolen the whale vomit tile. Packing her case quickly and booking a flight, she was almost ready to set off to track them down. She remote viewed them again before setting off, and spotted them on a bridge near the Belen Tower, slick with rain.
            Mirabelle, grab an umbrella, and get in the car. A change of scenery will do you good. No arguments!”
            What a bossy cow, thought Mirabelle, and they call ME a bossy tart!


            Ten meters in the aforementioned direction, after the light drizzle had stopped back to a wondrous sunny blue sky and slight freshening breeze, the robot was waiting for them.

            “Ms Merrie, I am your hosts’ robot, also at your service for the duration of your stay in 2222.”
            Maurana whispered not very subtly “and how are we supposed to call the tin can?” unaware of the sensitive remote hearing function of said tin can.
            “Monsieur can call me anything he likes, but my master usually calls me among many rude manners simply Varjis.”
            All three queens looked a bit offended
            “Did it call you Monsieur? How rude, your queen bikini was so fitting.”

            “As Ms Merrie mentioned, we will be late for the wetsuit fitting and the soirée on the coast, before our trip on the master’s submarine. If you would follow me.”


            By the time Lisa and Mirabelle arrived in Lisbon, it was too late. Frank and Molly were already heading south in a stolen car, the whale portal tile on the back seat, next to an assortment of other tiles of various colours and sizes. They were approaching a small town not far from the coast when Madam Li the navigation robot said turn left at your peril in Chinese. Frank hadn’t mastered the arts of intonation fully in his efforts to learn the language, and merely heard “turn left” and something else as incomprehensible to the ear as any other Portuguese town, and besides, the narrow goat track looked marvelously less traveled and enticing.


              Linda Pol was struggling with the contracts formulation. Things had evolved almost too swiftly in the past —or should she say future, it could be confusing at times—, and now they had to rephrase a few paragraphs. Of course, the herd of lawyers were doing all that, but she had to check after them, she had to be sure they didn’t make a mistake.

              The e-zapper buzzed. First, Linda Pol dismissed it as she would have done with a fly of no importance. But you know how flies of no importance can really bother you when they keep buzzing around when you are trying to focus on something arduous. The fly kept buzzing until Linda Pol couldn’t stand it anymore. She looked at the name on the transparent screen and caught herself whining inwardly.

              It was her mother.

              She breathed deeply twice and prepared herself. All that took a lot less time that it took to write it. She answered with a deep male voice.

              “What do you want mum ?”

              “Your father and I…”
              Linda Pol shrieked silently. It wasn’t good when her mother began her conversation with those words. But she waited patiently.

              “… have been discussing about this book you told us to read. The Sands of the Species I think it was.”

              “Spices”, Linda Pol corrected automatically. And she winced about that. She could see her mother smile triumphantly. She had her son’s attention.

              “Well, that’s what I said.”
              No point arguing with that, Linda thought, _you know that’s what she’s looking for.

              “Anyway”, continued her mother after a pause, “your father and I have been discussing about who the grand-father really is. He thinks that it’s the main character’s mother after her operation and time travel, but I’m sure it’s his second grand son that was also his uncle and his niece.”

              Linda sighed, they already had that conversation before, and he struggled not to use that excuse with her mother, which would certainly start an argument, and he didn’t really had time for that with the new contracts. His mind noticed that it had started to rain. The drops rhythmically punctuating her mother’s sentences at the beginning, and then as the one way conversation went on, one drop per word. She always had a sense of rhythm, it was in her genes. Or that’s what people said anyway. Unfortunately, with his mother, that sense was mostly coupled with irritation and restraint.

              But the brain works in almost magical ways, and the rhythm of the drops associated with his assistant’s bum made him thought of something.

              “Mum”, she said when she could place a word, “I’m sending you a link that explains it all. Sweet dreams, I love you too.” She hanged up quickly. Don’t let her place one more word.

              The drag asked her e-zapper to find the link and send it to her mother. It’ll keep her mother busy for a moment, enough for Linda to finish her reading the contract. She realized that it made a lot more sense now.


              “You look just like your father” was Lisa’s mother’s only remark when Lisa had thoughtfully sent her a couple of photos from Portugal. No compliment coming from her, thought Lisa, rolling her eyes. And it wasn’t even true ~ she looked nothing like her father, something else must have triggered her mothers comment, some other association.
              “Remember your new policy, dear, don’t take it personally” Mirabelle reminded her. “Just another cranky old crone stewing on an old trigger. Besides,” she added, “What about Frank and Molly? Can you get a more specific remote view? Stuck in a carob tree could be almost anywhere.”
              “You’re rather sweet for such a bossy tart” replied Lisa with a grateful smile. “Shush now then while I access their location.”
              Lisa closed her eyes and waited for the images to appear. There was an explosion of purple and a great deal of static before an image began to appear of carob pods on a car windscreen. As Lisa viewed the glass a strange thing began to happen and she started to focus on the reflections. There were dozens of people approaching, all wearing brilliant white robes trimmed with gold. The robes were short, and revealed a considerable amount of tanned muscled leg, and a murmur of appreciation escaped her lips. What handsome fellows, she thought, but there’s something odd about them. Either this is a fancy dress party on a dry dusty hill, or another time zone.


                The curly beard of one of the men caught Lisa’s attention, and she tuned in to what he was saying, her focus fully on the windscreen reflection now, the car and it’s concurrent timeframe having faded from view. “It’s an honour to be killed by a bull , Intu ,” he said to the woman walking beside him. “Your grandfather’s death is heroic, you will appreciate that in time.”
                “Perhaps in time, Balthazar,” she replied, “But I wish he was still here.”
                Balthazar patted her shoulder, and Lisa noticed his ring ~ two dolphins leaping. With a flash she understood that Intu’s grandfather had refocused as a dolphin, many centuries later in the silk like sea off the shores of Faro.
                “You can write a story about him on a stone tablet when we get to Almodovar. And I promise I won’t give you a hard time about continuity.”
                Intu smiled weakly. She did enjoy writing random stories on stone tablets, often wondering if the people of the future would be able to make sense of them and put the pieces together. She had left tablets of stories here and there as she traveled, sign posts to elsewhere and elsewhen, imprinted with the energy of adventure and mystery, laden with clues for imaginative voyagers to unravel in any way their fancies led them.


                The early morning sea mist was evaporating as Fanella strolled around the village picking up dog shit. She reminded herself to fully appreciate the damp coolness, before the scorching summer sun enveloped them in a bone warming blanket, and then reminded herself to appreciate the bone warming effects of the full sun later. As she retraced her steps she noted how differently everything looked on a return journey, how piles of dog shit had escaped her notice while going one way, but were obvious on the way back. It reminded her of something she’d read recently in one of the books that Lisa insisted she read to improve her English ~ A Field Guide To Getting Lost . Hah! Had there been a cruel irony in that choice of book? Fanella had felt lost ever since she arrived in 2020. But according to the book, getting lost wasn’t a bad thing, not at all.

                To be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery.

                Fanella sighed. All sounds very philosophical, but I’m still stuck in the wrong time zone.
                Another passage from the book popped into her head:

                We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the desire between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing.

                Fanella gazed up at the sky ~ the blue of longing was taking over, as the white wisps of clouds dispersed.

                The people thrown into other cultures go through something of the anguish of the butterfly, whose body must disintegrate and reform more than once in its life cycle…. how often the early stages of change or cure may mimic deterioration. Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar. What you will never find is that mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly….No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.

                Charming, Fanella thought, just bloody charming. Rotting soup of change, that just about sums it up. No wonder I wake up every morning with my bones feeling like mush.


                Mirabelle tapped Lisa’s arm. There was no response, and Lisa had been in a sort of trance for a full 22 minutes. “Lisa! Are we lost, or have you found some navigational information?”
                The interruption caused a bit of interference in Lisa’s remote viewing, crossing her channels somewhat. She started to speak:

                How do you calculate upon the unforeseen? It seems to be an art of recognizing the role of the unforeseen, of keeping your balance amid surprises, of collaborating with chance, of recognizing that there are some essential mysteries in the world and thereby a limit to calculation, to plan, to control.

                “That doesn’t sound all that helpful, frankly” replied Mirabelle.


                But Lisa didn’t hear Mirabelle’s tart retort. Another image was appearing, of a man with a bright orange wig. He was smiling widely, and dancing up a storm (so to speak), and another fellow was gyrating wildly next to him, wearing a top hat and a long curly black wig. Another fellow in a big blonde wig appeared in the scene, and the dancing stopped. “Call out to 2020, emergency mission in the Algarve” he said, tossing his bright pink feather boa over his shoulder.


                After they’d jumped in the robot (which had shapeshifted into a sand buggy big enough for them), they had to cling tight to the railing of the light vehicle, as the robot was driving recklessly into a jungle of unexpected leaves and green vegetation tentacles.
                It wasn’t long before they were back on the gorgeously rugged Hawai’ian beach, taken on an unexpected dune racing along the coast.
                The queens looked exhilarated, but Sadie was a bit overwhelmed, especially after what the Techromancer had told her.

                The wetsuits fitting session passed in a blur, as the breathable elastic material was made to adapt to their bodies. Really, the only thing left to choose would have been color, but it was able to change itself at will, with very little shades it couldn’t replicate to perfection, even the Bollywood shine and twinkle that was all the craze in the 2019s.

                “But we’re in the 2222s now!”, Maurana had voiced her disapproval of her choice of glittery fashion. Little did Sadie care about it. Her mission seemed to stretch to sidetracks and unneeded distractions on her path to Great Happiness.

                All four of them clad in their fancy bathsuits and looking more like hippy frogs than sassy mermaids, they followed the robot on the miles-long deck that led to the horizon.

                After half an hour of walking on the narrow bridge, they were at a good distance from the coast and Terry started to pant and breathe heavily in her green sardine scales costume.
                “Stop! I got to catch my breathe, how long it’s going to be now? We were promised a soirée! Not a walk on the wild side!”

                The robot, rolled back a few steps, and turned briskly.
                “Actually, Sir, this is a perfect spot for your whale training”

                And before they realized, the robot had opened the deck under their feet, plunging all of them in the ocean screaming.

                Thanks to her excellent training and natural sharp reflexes, Sadie was the first to realize a few things.

                • They were all alive
                • They were able to breathe underwater
                • Their suit enabled them to talk and understand each other in what sounded like whale-speech.
                • A looming shape was quickly closing on them, looking dangerously like that of a giant toothy white shark.
                • Her mind was a mysterious thing.

                Why? Simply because the previous thought was coinciding with another one which was saying unequivocally that she still hadn’t found a proper dragqueen’s name for herself, and yet another one, even more funny than all others, saying in between bursts of infectious laughter that her last words could well be whale speech, and would make a hell of an epitaph.

                She floated for a time moment stretched into an eternity, weighing all the rippling probabilities and wondered what her next move would be, as she was in the void of creation, hovering under a vortex of thoughts, with a sea of twinkling stars beckoning her further down the ocean’s clear bottomless depths.


                “But we’re on vacation!” exclaimed the fellow with the bright orange wig. “You can’t send us on a timedraggling mission while we’re on holiday!”
                “I’m sorry but there really is no option. The other team is fully occupied in 2222. I did send them a message but they completely ignored it, they seem to be engrossed in a sub aquatic adventure,” replied the one in the blonde wig. “You will receive extra timetravel over timeslip, though” she added.
                “And an extra wig and clothes allowance?” asked the cheeky one in the top hat.
                “Oh, alright then! Now, here’s the situation. You’re to track down the Belen portal tile, stolen by Frank and Molly ~ last seen stuck in a carob tree down a goat track not far from Tavira. You will have to get there before Lisa and Mirabelle, which might not be difficult as they seem to have become sidetracked in the pursuit of Frank and Molly. If they get too close to the tile, send them on a wild goose chase somehow. I will leave the details to you ~ they are not hard to distract. Once you have located the tile, you’ll have to cloak it in the blue of longing, otherwise Lisa will pick up the trail again. Any questions?”


                Adeline, where is Mirabelle? I’ve come back for her again.”
                Igor! Not you again, so soon!” Adeline’s hand flew to her mouth and she flushed in confusion. “She’s not here.”
                “Where is she? I must find her!” He began to wring his hands, or he would have if he knew what it meant. What he actually felt was a yellow knot in his solar plexus tightening, more like strong alien rubber hands wringing his stomach out as if they were squeezing the last drops of water out of a yellow dishrag.
                “Steady on, Igor!” said Adeline, a little alarmed at the unexpected display of passionate angst or anxious passion, or perhaps it was merely fear and exhaustion. Then she remembered her earlier vows and added, “I will pray for you, my friend.”

                Igor rolled his eyes, momentarily forgetting about the yellow dishrag in the warm peach glow of exasperation.

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