Board 9, Story 3
Idle had licked the skin of the lizard Tiku had brought her. She wasn’t expecting a rainbow and a leprechaun but is glad to have found the treasure at the end of it. She already has ideas to revamp the Inn.
What was I thinking. That all will be good and all, and forever after.
Lord, sometimes I miss that bloated boat, and its ordeal felt like an old familiar pain that distance makes bearable in retrospect.
A week back into life, and all goes to hell. Good thing I’m not a trader, looking at the stock market would make you want to jump from a tall building.
Since all is in chaos, I’ve been noticing them more. The synchronicities. Seems like the voices have found other ways to reach at me. Talks of forest and trees, arcane words spoken in different contexts.
If only I weren’t paying attention. But then there are the dreams. Last ones have been insane. And not just those after a heavy meal, you know. The kind that gets you more tired when you wake up, as if you’ve spend the whole night piling up mountains upon mountains.
I’d rather just pop a pill and see the elephants dance from branch to branch, if you see what I mean. But the voices wouldn’t let me go. Now they are egging me on to do something I don’t want to do.
A book opened at random, summarizes it all: “Our heart is anxious about being sent here.“
Next line is a tease: “Gathering the resources of all under heaven as in a storehouse.”
But when did I sign up to be the bloody storehouse manager?
“How in tarnation did ya do that?” Arthur looked at his wife suspiciously.
“Do what, honey?” Ella Marie replied, feigning innocence.
“This here lottery win! How did you do that? You aint been doing them there voodoo tricks again, have you? You promised…”
“Oh heck Art, it’s pure chance, a million to one, you know that! We just got lucky, is all.” But she couldn’t meet his eye. “Well I had to do somethin’! It aint for us, it’s for those friends of Jacqui’s. When I heard they’d been locked up in jail on cooked up charges, after being so excited about visiting the family, well I couldn’t bear it.”
“You promised you wasn’t gonna do that hokey pokey stuff no more,” Arthur said.
“Yes but it aint for us. This is different, just a one time thing, helping out friends. We can pay the bail money for ’em now and get ’em outta that stinking hellpit. Aint no place for decent ladies, Art.”
“They’ll need some darned expensive lawyers to fight the Beige House, and fat chance of winning.” Art looked doubtful.
“Oh they won’t stick around to fight the case. I had this idea,” Ella Marie had that old twinkle in her eye that used to get Art all fired up, back in the day. “We’re gonna buy them a boat. I been talking to Jacqui ’bout it. An old flame of hers turned up who can sail the boat for them.”
“How big’s the boat?” asked Art, an idea brewing in his head. He’d always wanted to sail around the world.
“Well we aint bought the boat yet, Art, the lottery check only just arrived. How ’bout we go down to Orange Beach Marina and see what’s for sale? We could have a seafood lunch, make a day of it.”
A big smile spread across the old mans face. ” Well, hell, Ella Marie, I guess we can do whatever we darn well please now! Let’s do it! And,” he added, planting a loud smackeroo of a kiss on her forehead, “Let’s get a boat big enough for all of us. I’ve got an adventure in me, afore I pop my clogs, I sure do.”
I had a long conversation (in my head, where all the best conversations are these days) with Corrie while I sat on the porch. I think it’s easier to communicate with her because she’s trying to communicate with me too. The others don’t come through so clear, I get images but not much in the way of conversation. Anyway, she said Clove is with her on the raftboat, and that Clove has a little boy now, seven years old or so, named Pan. I don’t know if that’s short for a longer name or if that’s his name. Anyway, he’s a great little diver, she said, can hold his breath for longer than anyone, although lots of the kiddies are good divers now, so she tells me. They send them out scouting in the underwater ruins. Pan finds all sorts of useful things, especially in the air pockets. They call those kiddies the waterlarks, if I heard that right. Pan the Waterlark.
Corrie said they’re in England, or what used to be called England, before it became a state of the American United States. Scotland didn’t though, they rebuilt Hadrian’s wall to keep the Ameringlanders out (which is what they called them after America took over), and Wales rebuilt Offa’s Dyke to keep them out too. When America fell into chaos (not sure what happened there, she didn’t say) it was dire there for years, Corrie said. Food shortages and floods mainly, and hardly any hospitals still functioning. Corrie delivered Cloves baby herself she said, but I didn’t want all the details, just pleased to hear there were no complications. Clove was back on her feet in no time in the rice paddies.
A great many people left on boats, Corrie said. She didn’t know where they’d gone to. Most of the Midlands had been flooded for a good few years now. At first the water went up and down and people stayed and kept drying out their homes, but in the end people either left, or built floating homes. Corrie said it was great living on the water ~ it wasn’t all that deep and they could maneouver around in various ways. It was great sitting on the deck watching all the little waterlarks popping up, proudly showing their finds.
I was thoroughly enjoying this chat with Corrie, sitting in the morning sun with my eyes closed, when the sky darkened and the red behind my eyelids turned black. There was a hot air balloon contraption coming down, and looked like it was heading for the old Bundy place. Maybe Finly was back with supplies. Maybe it was a stranger with news. Maybe it was Devan.
Bert tells me it’s Christmas day today. Christmas! I just looked at him blankly when he told me, trying to bring to mind what it used to be like. I can’t remember the last time Christmas was normal. Probably around fifteen years ago, just before the six years of fires started. It’s a wonder we survived, but we did. Even Mater. God knows how old she is now, maybe Bert knows. He’s the one trying to keep track of the passing of time. I don’t know what for, he’s well past his sell by date, but seems to cling on no matter what, like Mater. And me I suppose.
We lost contact with the outside world over ten years ago (so Bert tells me, I wouldn’t know how long it was). It was all very strange at first but it’s amazing what you can get used to. Once you get over expecting it to go back to normal, that is. It took us a long time to give up on the idea of going back to normal. But once you do, it changes your perspective.
But don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all bad. We haven’t heard anything of the twins, not for a good ten years or more (you’d have to ask Bert how long) but I hear their voices in my head sometimes, and dream of them. In my dreams they’re always on the water, on a big flat raft boat. I love it when I dream of them and see all that water. Don’t ask me how, but I know they’re alright.
Anyway like I said, it hasn’t been all bad. Vulture meat is pretty tasty if you cook it well. The vultures did alright with it all, the sky was black with them at times, right after the droughts and the fires. But we don’t eat much these days, funny how you get used to that, too. We grow mushrooms down in the old mines (Bert’s idea, I don’t know what we’d do without him). And when the rains came, they were plentiful. More rain than we’d ever seen here.
Prune’s been back to see us once (you’d have to ask Bert when it was). She was on some kind of land sailing contraption, no good asking me what was powering the thing, there’s been no normal fuel for a good long time, none that’s come our way. Any time anyone comes (which is seldom) they come on camels or horses. One young family came passing through on a cart pulled by a cow once. But Prune came wafting in on some clever thing I’d never seen the likes of before. She didn’t stay long, she was going back to China, she said. It was all very different there, she said. Not all back to the dark ages like here, that’s what she said. But then, we were here in the first place because we liked a quiet simple life. Weren’t we? Hard to remember.
The sense of being left behind had deflated Lucinda. Everyone off having adventures, and here she was left minding the dog. She liked the dog, but not the feeling of missing out on the excitement, and the clues she received were few and far between.
It was a particularly muggy day and not ideal for a long walk. She felt listless and heavy in the humid air. Before walking very far at all along the riverside promenade, she felt clammy and tired, and found a bench under a shady tree to sit on. Fabio cocked his head to one side and looked at her. Lucinda closed her eyes for a few moments, and started to admonish herself for her lack lustre and frankly boring state. “Buck up, for Pete’s sake!” she told herself, but was interrupted by Fabio’s frantic barking and pullling at the lead.
A man on stilts was coming towards them, wearing long shiny trousers in black and white vertical stripes. Lucinda started at him openly, somewhat shaken, but curious. She could have sworn she’d seen him in a dream the night before.
The peace shattering sound of a loud motor boat engine intruded into the scene, and when Lucinda looked back to the stilted man in stripes, he’d vanished. The sound of the outboard motor receded as the boat disappeared around a curve in the river; the waves it created splashing on the river banks long after it had disappeared.
Despite the underground currents, following the trail of blue glow from the glukenitches’ droppings was easy; far less subtle than old fashioned glow worms starmap reading…
Mandrake was alerted to a sudden drop when the trail started to disappear abruptly, indicating the strong possibility of a chute of some kind.
He only managed to catch Albie’s pants before he fell right in, and pulled both of them back to the shore. He had to be sure.
“Good thing, that slimey dragon managed to power back the sabulmantium, we may get a hint of where we’re headed to.”
“There’s no other way than the waterfall, is there Mr Mandrake?”
“Shht. Let me concentrate, this thing is sensitive.”
Under the paws of the cat, the sand inside the clear sphere started to move in shapes and describe a living story.
“Mmm. Seems he wasn’t joking, never seen this thing behave so strangely before.”
“What is this?”
“It looks like something that I have seen a long time ago, but that wasn’t in this dimension… I guess we won’t know for sure until we get there. Ready boy for the dive of your life?”
Albie didn’t have time to answer, as the cat wasn’t waiting for him.
The fall seemed to last forever. But then a light appeared, and they started to float up, up, up.
When they emerged, they were clearly out of swamp waters. Salty water was all they could see for miles around.
“A blessing you had an inflatable zodiac in your purse, Sir.” the boy said to the cat once they were up on the boat, waiting for a sign as to where next.
“Whales! Whales!” the boy shouted excitedly, pointing to the shapes moving under their boat.
“Ah, finally, someone with some wits about that can tell us some valuable information.”
It didn’t take long to Mandrake to grab the attention of one of the belugas and engage the conversation; it didn’t seem particularly long to Albie, but it seemed like a lot was exchanged.
“We’re on the Gold Coast of Australia” Mandrake said. “That dimension is a bit tricky for my species, humans here take us for lazy playthings and don’t really understand us, so I may have to rely on you for some of the talking, boy.”
“For sure, Mr Mandrake. Did you get any news as to where Ms Arona might be?”
“Might be. That whale started to babble thing about granola cookies and dolls. I have no idea what she meant, she might have been popped in by some alien force. Luckily whales are used to manage multiple personalities well, so I managed to get the rest of the navigational hints once she got her channels back in order.”
“So where to now?”
“Starboard, son, starboard!”
I dozed off while sitting under the Kurrajong tree this afternoon and had a strange dream. I was in a Tardis and it had landed on an expanse of sandy coastal scrub land. There was nobody else in the Tardis except me, and as the door swung open, I could smell the smoke, acrid and eye watering, and I could hear the snapping and crackling of the flames on the dry brush. The Tardis had landed in between the advancing flames and the sea. I ran back in the Tardis and looked around wildly at all the controls, wondering how to operate the thing. How the hell was I going to get out of here before the fire engulfed us? I ran back outside and the flames were roaring closer by the minute; panicking, I ran back inside, ran out again, and then ran as fast as I could away from the approaching fire until I came across a little blue row boat, rotting away on dry land, right next to a crumbling pyramid. I climbed into the boat, sitting on the bench seat between the dry thistles, thinking with relief that I would be safe in the boat. In the dream, I relaxed and closed my eyes and started to hum My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, and then I felt the heat, opened my eyes, and saw showers of red orange sparks like fireworks all around me, and then flames ~ I was surrounded by the wild fire and couldn’t see the Tardis anymore for the flames leaping and dancing around me. I held my head in my hands, weeping, waiting for the inevitable ~ and then I noticed a sapling growing in between the rotten boards at the bottom of the boat. It was growing so fast I forgot the sizzling heat around me and watched it grow, the side shoots bursting forth and the wood of the boat splintering as the trunk grew in girth. When a dried seed pod dropped onto my head ~ that’s how fast this tree grew, when I looked up it was fully mature, and I was sitting in the cool green shade ~ I looked around, and the sandy coastal scrub had gone, and I was sitting on a stone bench in the middle of a plaza. The smell of burning brush was gone and the stench of garum fish paste filled the air. A handsome fellow in a crumpled linen toga was sitting beside me, elbowing me to get my attention…
“I made you a tuna sandwich, Auntie,” Prune was saying, prodding me on the arm. “Did you know that Kurrajong trees are fire retardant plants, and they start to send out small green shoots from the trunk within a fortnight of being burnt?”
Well, I just looked at her, with my mouth hanging open in astonishment. Then the horrid child shoved the tuna sandwich in it, and then scampered off before I could slap her.
Godfrey was impressed. “Might be the wisest things you said ever, dear.” he chuckled.
Then, looking around, he whispered back with a mischievous smile
“What about the windows ? They do look a bit foggy, and there is this old bosun’s chair in the attic I’ve been dying to have tried for some time now…”
Lazuli Galore in the shape of the mandarin duck looked over his shoulder, grinning mischievously at his passengers.
“Fasten your seat belts!” he shouted.
“What bloody seat belts?” asked Lisa. “Hey! Steady on!”
Lazuli the duck accelerated like a speedboat, ripping across the tops of the swelling waves and performing eye watering figure of eights, tilting the passengers first this way then that way as they held on to the feathers with all the strength they could muster, fearing for their lives, yet wildly exhilarated.
Lazuli whooped with the exuberance of wild abandon, failing to notice that Fanella had slipped off his back into the brine, and unable to hear the cries of the others amid his own gleeful shouts and the roar of the wind rushing past.
Fanella rolled and flailed in the backwash, eventually surfacing and gasping for breath. In vain she looked for the duck but it had disappeared from sight. The shore looked too far to swim to, but she knew she must try to reach it. Holding down the panic as best she could, she started to swim towards the mangrove trees lining the beach, barely visible in the descending fog. The striped shadows shimmered in the mist; was it an optical illusion of stripes and mists that it seemed as if a section of shadows was heading towards her? The zebra waded into the breaking waves, and calmly and purposefully swam towards the drowning girl.
Trudging along being Sanso and the others on the way to the coast, Lisa’s feet began to blister. “Lazuli, how much further is it? What I don’t understand is why aren’t we teleporting there? I mean, why are we walking when we could just teleport?”
“Yeah!” agreed Fanella, limping from the dog bite on her foot. She had accidentally trodden on the little mongrel while traipsing around the ruins of the tile factory. “Why aren’t we teleporting?”
“That’s a good question!” answered Sanso. “And there is a very good answer! If we teleported everywhere, we would never encounter strangers on the journey, nor would be find any unexpected clues.”
“Not only that,” added Lazuli, “We will soon be coming to some watery lowlands with plenty of bamboo growing, and we need some sturdy canes to make a raft to sail across the bay.”
“I thought we’d just hire a boat!” said Lisa with some surprise. “We have to make our own raft? I’m starting to wish I’d stayed home.”
“You can teleport back home whenever you want to, Lisa” said Sanso. “But then, your island game would be over. Are you finished playing yet?”
Lisa thought about it. Eventually she replied: “ No. But I’ve had enough of all this walking. Why don’t you and Lazuli shapeshift into something useful that Fanella and I can ride?” and continued to mutter something under her breath about chivalry and the good old days.
There was a slight disturbance like a whirlwind of dust, and then Fanella clapped her hands in delight. “What a lovely pair of asses!”JibParticipant
Dark clouds had gathered in the sky, the temperature had dropped of several degrees, making the breeze feel colder. The group had been walking for hours in the bog toward the elusive temple. With the darkness of the clouds, its mirage had begun to fade away. Greenie had said they’d better stop when the image was gone because they could become lost.
They had managed to make a wet campfire, and were trying to get warmth from the fleeting flames.
“I had a strange dream last night”, said George to Arona who was sitting next to him.
She smiled politely, not sure she wanted to hear about the winged man dreams. She considered standing up and being rude.
“I was a teenager”, he continued, wrapping himself into his wings.
Arona rolled her eyes inwardly, looking around for help. Mandrake was sleeping under her cape.
“An island appeared one day on the coast, people thought it was an ancient magic island and feared to approach it. It was visible only for a couple of days. It was such a weird dream.”
“Maybe you should write it down”, said Arona.
“Oh! Probably not, if the P’hope gets hold of it, I have the feeling it’s not in my interest.” He grinned like a kid. “Anyway, I knew in the dream that the island was still there, it was still reachable. So one day I took my father’s boat. It was a small boat, not made to go too far from the coastline. I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. I went into the mist, completely trusting I would find this island that everybody feared. It was rising tide, and I had to fight the current pushing me to the shore. I think it’s a dream who brought me there, a dream of a girl calling me in a garden. George”
“Is that all?” asked Arona after a moment of silence from George.
“Yes, it’s most certainly a silly dream, I’ve lived in Karmalott my entire life.”
“You’ll have to work on your dream telling, pal”, said Mandrake, “the punchline is missing.”
Nobody noticed how the flames of the fire were dancing into the green girl’s eyes.
Irina gave an appreciative look at the holographic map that Mr R had made of the island.
By a simple triangulation technique combined with sophisticated echolocation, the robot had managed to come up with a rough estimation of it, even though scattered patches were black, representing the blind spots, apparently due to the abundance of water bodies on the island that created interferences.
“Well, it actually looks better than I expected, the coast is a bit rocky, but probably more temperate and less humid than here. Some of those spots here seem to hint at habitations…”
“Madam is absolutely right” Mr R opined with confidence, and a glimmer of pride in his forehead interface.
“When the girl is well enough to travel, we’ll leave.”
“She’s still a bit cold and delirious.” The robot assessed, “Her condition has improved steadily, if not quickly. There is a good chance the green won’t go, but she will live.”
“Have you finished the sentinel?”
“Yes, Madam. It is complete and will serve well in monitoring the gate. Besides water rats and wrecked boats, not much seems to have went through recently. Although…”
“Yes Mr R?”
“I’m not quite certain Madam, which is confusing for me, but there was a moment were my sensors noticed a presence of a young person, but it lasted only for a few nanoseconds in a row, then I could not perceive it… It probably was a malfunction of my sensors Madam, I apologize, but the humidity…”
“I don’t believe your sensors malfunctioned Mr R. I do believe someone’s been trying to phase in, but didn’t succeed. Make sure your sentinel can detect such things…”
She went on: “Another thing, before I go for my astral meditation. Did you manage to get me a date? I’m no rocket science expert, but it sounds easier to get than your quite astonishing map Mr R.”
“Madam is too kind. And as as always, perfectly astute. This should be easy, but again this modest robot has run into a profoundly perplexing paradox.”
“A paradox, how exciting. What is it?”
“According to the shifting position of constellations during the nights and the sun’s elevation, the results differ from one day to another. We have to run a few more test to be conclusive…”
“Is is a local occurrence?”
“It seems to be true for the whole island, Madam. It is currently fluctuating between a series of years, some of which I mapped to the following years, in no particular order: 555, 777, 888, 1010, 1111, 1212, and so on until 2121, and as well, a series of related geographical points on the Earth.”
“No wonder it seems to be the garbage collector of the entire universe”, she sighed.
Then, something hit her.
She smiled to herself, brushing off the notion. Irina, you’re such a hopeless romantic…
“Yes, I could be able to plot a new course, without doubt, even with that tile missing” Belen said to one of the dolphins of the neighbourhood who had come for an update on the stranded ghost galleon.
I was weeks of Simultaneous Time, and being stranded was particularly difficult for a Conscious Breather such as Belen, even if the ghost whale now didn’t really need to breathe, the force of habit was strong.
Peter, his usual jovial self had said nothing, and had merely enjoyed some forays inland, looking for the tile and the conch, occasionally bringing news from the strange neighbours of the nearby village.
In the end, Belen couldn’t really remember who was who in the strange tales he made of it, there were so many humans involved and truly, their earthly concerns weren’t relevant to hers, and there was only little they could do to help with the situation.
The Harmonium Convergence was about to start, the crystalline aquatic organs would start to play the tunes for the new dreams of the new era to be sung.
And yet, the so-called magical conch was still missing. Belen dreaded coming back ashamed to the Youngers without the ancient divination tool. Frankly, it was more of a permission slip, as her orca friend Batshatsassani called it. She would say to her that “every modality, every ritual, every tool, every technique is a permission slip that allows yourself to give you permission to be more of who you are.”
She knew she didn’t need it really, but she liked the rituals of old, and to be honest was a bit fearful of not only revealing they were not that important, but more, introducing new ones… Would the whale and whole cetacean family be ready for such an end to the religious era?
While she was struggling with the thoughts, she managed to guard them from the psychic prying of her dolphin friend, by misleading him on meanders of the endless memory halls that she was guardian of.
Peter suddenly appeared with a popping sound. “I think I found the conch!” he exclaimed with glee in his eyes. “Yes, it’s Igor, you know Igor…”
“What about Igor, darling, you know I lost complete track of all these landers strange names”
“He’s the guy who stole the…” Peter stopped realizing this wasn’t really a question about Igor. “The conch, he brought it back with him!”
Then to his and her own surprise, Belen replied
“Forget about the conch, darling, I’m sorry I’ve led you to believe it was important, but it’s not, not really. It’s just a ordinary object to lead the philistines astray. It’s not more powerful than the whiffling of a shillelagh. The true treasure is always within ourselves.
Gather the birds, and let us prepare to leave in the next hour, the Harmonium Convergence is about to start in 2222, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Baffled by the revelation, Peter knew enough to not contradict his whale partner, and went merrily with the new flow which seemed so full of excitement and potential new science revelations.
Belen had a thought “Actually Peter my dear, any other conch we can find will do just as well. Just pick one on the beach before we leave. Dipping it in the Time stream will crystallize it just as well.”
Just as a thought of love for the gift of such inner revelation, before she left the nice spot of the Spanish coast, Belen cleared her throat and retched the most lovely green scented blob of ambergris on the beach, next to the spiral made of broken white shells that some drifters had drawn on the beach a few days ago.
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!
Her initial plotted course to jump from Bay of Biscay 1757 to Hawai’i 2222 was almost whale calf’s play. Relying on the tiles beacons, it was easy for her to hone to an intermediate time, at the same location, from where it would be easier to navigate the ghost whaling boat. 2222 customs clearance was always a bother, as soon as human had started to time-travel, they had put unnecessary barriers around some key timezones such as this one.
Her favourite stopover was on the other side of Galicia on the Mediterranean coast del Sol 2020, but then…
Peetee Pois as Peter was affectionately called by Belen was the first to notice the sails of Барк Крузенштерн, the Krusenshtern swollen by the wind, seconds before they came crashing onto it, launching all the birds in a massive flock around the town that the tall ship had just left (coincidentally with Igor on board as one of the newest recruits of the Russian sail training ship).
“I’m looking for crew” the stranger said with a thick Russian accent as he bought all the men in the bar a beer, “No experience necessary! I need strong young men to help me sail to the Big Island.”
Igor had no idea where the Big Island was, or indeed how to sail a boat, but he felt a strong overwhelming urge to accept the strangers offer. “Count me in!” he exclaimed in Russian. What a relief it would be to speak in his native tongue. Russia seemed so very far away, both in distance and in time. There was something timely about this mans unexpected appearance in the village bar, something fortuitous. Igor felt it, but couldn’t explain it. All he knew was that he was destined to sail away with this stranger.
In truth, Mirabelle hardly crossed his mind. Leaving her would not worry him, although telling her he was leaving worried him a great deal.
“We leave now” explained the stranger, much to Igor’s relief. “No time to lose, the winds are favourable tonight. Let’s go!”
And with that, Igor left the village, without looking back.
It was said long ago that the role of the parrot is that of opening communication centers. When this totem appears, one should look to see if one needs assistance in understanding views that are different from one’s own.
Huhu didn’t care about any of these human assigned meanings to its existence.
When the grip of Irina’s mind over Huhu the parrot was suddenly released, it found itself out of sight of the floating balloon and struggled to glide over the oceans’ air currents without losing too much altitude as well as precious degrees.
The air was cold and the ocean had no end in sight, and if a parrot knew despair, Huhu would have succumbed to it already. But it was a brave parrot, as though inhabited by some divine spark, and it continued bravely, only guided by his senses.
When it was about to faint from exhaustion, and dive dangerously close to the sea, was the precise moment when it noticed fumes swirling around in strange vortices erupting from the sea.
A strange boat appeared at the surface with a shining light.
Little did Huhu know, but it was the ghost galleon Santa Rosa which had a special thing for birds in distress, and would appear at times of need, a haven of luxuriant foliage and birds cackle, a benediction of safety in the turmoil of the seas.
Nobody knew clearly when the galleon sunk, one of the last of his kinds in the Old Continent, probably around the early 1111s, but one thing was sure, it was a ghost ship long before Huhu was born and brought to Versailles in 1757.
A ghostly form picked his soft body from the ground, delicately removing the key entangled on its foot, then placed the bird with great care on a bed of moss.
After almost 33 years on the road doing their their show, Geoffroy and the Théâtre du Soleil had had their share of success.
Of course, with an average age of the troupe being close to 66 years old on the eve of July 1789, they were not all young and restless, nor as high on hallucinogenic mushrooms like every other day.
Admittedly, their fate took a turn for the better after that show cancellation at Versailles the day of the attempt on the King’s life. They were stolen a balloon and a tub of lard, but what they gained in exchange was beyond wondrous. Sparks of inspiration had brought the team closer, and even the occasional quarrel between Lison and Francette was a blessing. Now, there was already a new King in Versailles, not better by far, and the wig fashion had improved only so lightly, but it gave good fodder for sarcasm and witty plays.
It wasn’t so much that their play-writing abilities had improved dramatically, to the contrary, but their common hallucination in the Royal Chapelle that day had unleashed their creative power. Their new plays had become famous overnight all over the Europe, liked by peasants who were enjoying its simplicity and nonsensical timing and plots, or even snotty critics all alike, who were somehow discerning artful and intricate royal satire that maybe they’d just invented to sound clever.
Tonight they would play a revival of their universally acclaimed chef d’œuvre, “The whales and the frogs”. With buffoonish wigs and corsets, and their share of heavy compulsory make-up. For some, the frogs were a symbol of the poor people carrying the heavy queens and kings of old, with crazy old Time as a driver, flanked with Janus the two-headed Janitor. Well, that sounded quite erudite and a tad pompous, and frankly for them, they didn’t care what symbol it was, so long as it brought the final money they needed for their retirement plan in sunny Mediterranean where they would take a boat and sail to the new world.
Good thing for Pee and the others deep in the furcano; having no head to start with, they didn’t suffocate from the heinous Mother Blubbit attack.
Nothing of that sort could be said for the adventurer in the Fly Boat, as they sadly had to go back to the heliport, owing to the dreadful weather condition.
“WHAT IN THE NAME OF TARTINUN IS HAPPENING NOW!?” asked in a terribly raucous voice Pee, unable to see his way through the smoke. (Tartinun was the goddess of Peagemite, a holy yeastly paste made of fermented peas, consumed by shamans in order to bridge the gaps to the Great Unhead Aknown).
Unable to withstand the sheer amount of decibels of that raucous cry of despair, Mother Blubbit suddenly drop dead of a spleen failure.
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