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  • #6137

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Shut up, Tara!” hissed Star, “And keep him singing while I think. This is a monumental clue!”

    “But I can’t stand bloody opera singing,” Tara whispered back, “It’ll drive me mad.  When they said he had a melodious voice I was expecting something more modern than this ancient caterwauling.”

    “Do you want to solve this case or not?”

    “Oh alright then,” Tara said grudgingly. “But your thinking better be good!”  She clapped loudly and whistled. “More! More!” she shouted, stamping her feet. The assorted middle aged ladies joined in the applause.

    Star leaned over and whispered in Tara’s ear, “Do you remember that client I had at Madame Limonella’s, that nice old man with a penchant for seeing me dressed up as a 13th century Italian peasant?”

    “Yeah, you had to listen to opera with him, poor thing, but he did tip well.”

    “Well, he told me a lot about opera. I thought it was a waste of time knowing all that useless old stuff, but listen: this song what he’s singing now, he’s singing this on purpose. It’s a clue, you see, to Uncle Basil and why Vince wants to find him.”

    “Go on,” whispered Tara.

    “There’s a lot of money involved, and a will that needs to be changed. If Uncle Basil dies while he’s still in the clutches of that cult, then Vince will lose his chance of inheriting Basil’s money.”

    “Wasn’t that obvious from the start?”

    “Well yes, but we got very cleverly sidetracked with all these middle aged ladies and that wardrobe!  This is where the mule comes in.”

    “What mule?”

    “Shh! Keep your voice down! It’s not the same kind of mule as in the opera, these middle aged ladies are trafficking mules!”

    “Oh well that would make sense, they’d be perfect. Nobody suspects middle aged ladies.  But what are they trafficking, and why are they all here?”

    “They’re here to keep us from finding out the truth with all these silly sidetracks and distractions.  And we’ve stupidly let ourselves be led astray from the real case.”

    “What’s the real case, then?”

    “We need to find Uncle Basil so that Vince can change his will. It wasn’t Vince that was in a coma, as that hatchet faced old butler told us. It was Basil.”

    “How do you know that for sure?” asked Tara.

    “I don’t know for sure, but this is the theory. Once we have a theory, we can prove it.  Now, about that wardrobe. We mustn’t let them take it away. No matter what story they come up with, that wardrobe stays where it is, in our office.”

    “But why? It’s taking up space and it doesn’t go with the clean modern style.  And people keep getting locked inside it, it’s a death trap.”

    “That’s what they want you to think! That it’s just another ghastly old wardrobe!  But it’s how they smuggle the stuff!”

    “What stuff are they smuggling? Drugs?  That doesn’t explain what it’s doing in our office, though.”

    “Well, I had an interesting intuition about that. You know that modified carrot story they tried to palm us off with? Well I reckon it’s vaccines.  They had to come up with a way to vaccinate the anti vaxxers, so they made this batch of vaccines hidden in hallucinogenic carrots.  They’re touting the carrots as a new age spiritual vibration enhancing wake up drug, and the anti vaxxers will flock to it in droves.”

    “Surely if they’re so worried about the ingredients in vaccines, they won’t just take any old illegal drug off the street?”

    Star laughed loudly, quickly putting her hand over her mouth to silence the guffaw.  Thankfully Vince had reached a powerful crescendo and nobody heard her.

    Tara smiled ruefully. “Yeah, I guess that was a silly thing to say.  But now I’m confused.  Whose side are we on? Surely the carrot vaccine is a good idea?  Are we trying to stop them or what?  And what is Vince up to? Falsifying a will?” Tara frowned, puzzled. “Whose side are we on?” she repeated.

    “We’re on the side of the client who pays us, Tara,” Star reminded her.

    “But what if the client is morally bankrupt? What if it goes against our guidelines?”

    “Guidelines don’t come into it when you’re financially bankrupt!” Star snapped.  “Hey, where has everyone gone?”

    “They said they had to pick up a wardrobe,” said the waitress. “Shall I bring you the bill?  They all left without paying, they said you were treating them.”

    “Pay the bill, Tara!” screamed Star, knocking over her chair as she flew out of the door. “And then make haste to the office and help me stop them!”

    #6107

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Star paused in the lobby. “I need some more persuading,” she said. “What if she dies in that wardrobe? What will we do with the body? Or, worse, what if she doesn’t die and sues us?”

    Tara decided to ignore Star’s dubious reasoning; after all it was late. “She’s probably going to sue anyway,” said Tara morosely. “Another night won’t make any difference.”

    “I’m going back. I can’t leave Rosamund to face the consequences of our drunken stupidity.” Star headed defiantly towards the stairs; the lift was out of order, again. “We would have to be on the eight bloody floor,” she muttered. “You do what you like,” she flung over her shoulder to Tara.

    Tara sighed. “Wait up,” she shouted.

    Star was relieved that Tara decided to follow. The building was scary at night – the few tenants who did lease office space, were, much like themselves, dodgy start-ups that couldn’t afford anything better. Missing bulbs meant the lighting in the stairwell was dim, and, on some floors, non-existent.

    “I’m amazed they managed to bring that wardrobe up,” puffed Tara. “Just slow down and let me get my breath will you, Star.”

    “My gym membership is really paying off,” said Star proudly. “Come on,Tara! just one floor to go!”

    As they approached the door to their office, they paused to listen. “Can you hear something … ?” whispered Star.

    “Is it … singing?”

    “That’s never Rosamund singing. She’s got a voice like … well let’s just say you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.”

    “I’m going in,” hissed Tara and flung open the door.

    “Don’t come any closer!” cried a woman in a mink coat; she did make a peculiar sight, surrounded by empty pizza boxes and brandishing a broom. “And you, shut up!” she said reaching out to bang the wardrobe with her broom. There were muffled cries from within, and then silence.

    “Was that you singing?” asked Star in her most polite voice.

    “Yes, what’s it to you?”

    “It was rather… lovely.”

    The woman smirked. “I was rehearsing.”

    “We are awfully sorry about locking you in the wardrobe. We thought you were a masked intruder.”

    “Well, I’m not. I am Rosamund’s Aunt April, and you …” she glowered at Star … “should have recognised me, seeing as how I am your cousin.”

    “Oh!” Star put her hand to her head. “Silly me! Of course, Cousin April! But I have not seen you for so many years. Not since I was a child and you were off to Europe to study music!”

    Tara groaned. “Really, Star, you are hopeless.”

    Loud banging emanated from the wardrobe followed by mostly unintelligible shouting but it went something like: “Bloody-let-me-out-or-I-will-friggin-kill-you-stupid-bloody-tarts!”

    “It wasn’t really Rosamund’s fault,” said Star. “I don’t suppose we could …?”

    April nodded. “Go on then, little fool’s learnt her lesson. The cheek of her not letting me have pineapple on my pizza.”

    “About bloody time,” sniffed Rosamund when the door was opened. She made a sorry sight, mascara streaked under her eyes and her red fingernails broken from where she had tried to force the door.

    “Now, then,” said Tara decisively, “now we’ve said our sorries and whatnot, what’s all this really about, April?”

    April crinkled her brow.”Well, as I may of mentioned on the phone, my husband, Albert — that’s your Uncle Albie,” she said to Rosamund, “is cheating on me. He denies it vehemently of course, but I found this note in his pocket.” She reached into her Louis Vuitton hand-bag and pulled out a sheet of paper. “That’s his handwriting and the paper is from the Royal Albert Hotel. He was there on a business trip last month.” Her face crumpled.

    “Chin up,” said Tara quickly, handing April a tissue from the desk. “What does the note say?”. Really, this case did seem a bit beneath them, a straightforward occurrence of adultery from the sounds.

    April sniffed. “It says, meet you at the usual place. Bring the money and the suitcase and I will make it worth your while.”

    “Let me see that,” said Rosamund, snatching the note from April. She reached into the front of her tee-shirt and pulled out another crumpled note which had been stuffed into her bra. She smirked. “I found this in the wardrobe. I was keeping it secret to pay you back but … ” She brandished both notes triumphantly. “The handwriting is the same!”

    “What does your note say, Rosamund?” asked Star.

    “It says, If you find this note, please help me. All is not what it seems..”

    “Wow, cool!” said Tara, her face lit up. This was more like it!

    Star, noticing April’s wretched face, frowned warningly at Tara. “So,” she mused, “I suggest we explore this wardrobe further and see what we can find out.”

    #6076
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    “Let’s begin,” said the teacher. She was short and seemed around sixty seven. She walked around the room like a tamer surrounded by wild beasts in a circus. Her dark hair was tied into a long braid falling on her straight back like an I. She wore a sari wrapped around her neatly. “I’m Ms Anika Koskinen, your cryogurt teacher today. You’ve got the recipe in front of you on the benches right with the glass and a bottle of water. The ingredients will be in the cabinets on your left and everything is referenced and written big enough for everyone to see.”

    “Those benches look like the ones in chemistry class when I was in college,” said Glo. “I have bad memories of thoses.”

    “You have bad memories, that’s all,” said Sha making them both laugh.

    “But where’s Mavis?” whispered Glo after looking around the room at the other participants. A majority of women,  wrapped in colourful sarongs and a few older men.

    “How do you want me to know? I was with you since we left the bungalow,” said Sharon who was trying to decipher the blurry letters on the recipe. “Their printer must be malfunctioning, it’s unreadable.”

    “You should try putting on your glasses.”

    “I didn’t bring’em, didn’t think we’d need to see anything.”

    “Oh! There she is,” said Glo as Mavis just entered the room with her beach bag. “Mav! Weehoo! We’re here!”

    “I saw you! no need to shout,” whispered Mavis loudly. She muttered some excuse to the teacher who had been giving them a stern look.

    “I’m afraid you’ll have to go with your friends,” said Ms Koskinen, “We don’t have enough material for everyone.”

    “Oh! That’ll be perfect,” said Mavis with a broad smile. “Hi girls,” she said while installing herself near Sha and Glo.

    The teacher resumed her explanations of the procedure of making frozen yogurt, checking regularly if everyone had understood. She took everyone bobbing their head as a yes.

    “Is he good looking?” asked Sha, showing one of the men who had been looking at them since Mavis arrival.

    “You shouldn’t ask us,” said Glo, “our eyes are like wrinkles remover apps.”

    “I think he looks better without glasses,” said Mavis.

    After Ms Koskinen had finished giving them instructions, she told everyone to go take the ingredients and bring them back to their benches.

    “I’m going,” said Sha who wanted to have a better look at the man.

    “Don’t forget the recipe with the list of ingredients,” said Mavis waving the paper at her.

    “Oh! Yes.”

    She came back with the man helping her carry the tray of ingredients.

    “Thank you Andrew,” said Sha when he put the tray on their bench.

    “Oh you’re welcome. And those are your friend you told me about?”

    “Yes! This is Gloria and this is Mavis.”

    “Pleased to meet you,” said Andrew. “I’m Andrew Anderson. I suggested Sharon we could have lunch together after the workshop. I’d like you to meet my friends.”

    “Of course!” said Sha. She winked at her friends who were too flabbergasted to speak.

    “That’s settled then. We’ll meet at 1pm at my bungalow.”

    “See you later,” said Sharon with a dulcet voice.

    “What the butt was that all about?” asked Glo.

    “Oh! You’ll thank me. I pretexted not to be able to find everything on the list and Andrew was very helpful. The man is charming, and his yacht makes you forget about his Australian accent. We’re going to have lunch on a yacht girls! That means we’re not stuck on the beach and can have some fun exploring around.”

    Sha looked quite pleased with herself. She put a bottle of orange powder among the ingredients and said :”Now! Let’s make some wrinkle flattener ice cream, ladies. I took some extra tightener.”

    #6071

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Listen” said Gabe, the cult leader. “How long have you been Gourd level? One year?”

    The other nodded.

    “See Gavin, I think you’re ready to go Operating Tomathetan.”

    Gavin gulped. “But, but… are you sure about such a leap? And… what about…”

    “Oh, don’t worry about him, the yielding of his crops has been written, and it’s not good. Better look toward the future Gavin. And let me ask you something, don’t you think about the future?”

    When the Great Leader Undisputed Gabe had spoken, it was customary to bow and continue listen, in case he wasn’t finished.

    “Is there anything more I can do you for, oh GLUG?”

    “Sure. Get me your proposal for the new organization of the crops. No rush. Tomorrow will be fine.”

    “Your great leaderness is too bountiful.”

    “Of course. Now scram, I have rituals to attend to.” And with that, Great Leader Undisputed Gabe made a hasty retreat into the inner sanctum with his favourite vestal priestess of the moment.

    :fleuron:

    Gavin was flummoxed. It had all been foretold by the heretic Basil. He wondered, should he consult him? The weight of this sudden assignment felt heavy on his shoulders. He wondered how he could solve the mountain of problems that had accumulated like horse shit on a pile of manure.

    :fleuron:

    “You’ll see, it’s all connected.” Star signaled Tara when they were ushered into the inner sanctum. “I’m sure all the trail of clues have led to this for a reason. Have I told you about my theories about multiple timelines and probable selves? Maybe the Vince who called us called us from a different probability…”

    “You probably right, but that nurse outfit is really too tight.” Tara wiggled impatiently on her chair.

    “AH! There you are!” a manly voice behind them. “Welcome, welcome, young fresh divine sprouts.”

    “Did he call us prouts?” Tara almost tittered. “Sshtt” Star elbowed her.

    Gabe took a while to observe them, then made a face. “Not the freshest batch I had, I must admit, but that should do.”

    He clapped his hands, and a woman entered. “Get those two well anointed, and prepared in the art of leafing.”

    Tara and Star looked at each other with an air of utter incomprehension on their faces, but decided unanimously to just go with the flow. Who knows, if all was indeed connected, it would probably bring them one step closer to Uncle Basil and the solving of mysterious comatose Vince.

    #6066

    In reply to: The Pistil Maze

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “It’s funny,” he said, squinting his eyes. “Looks like the maze kind of fades out.”

    “Oh yeah, that happens all the time. People lose interest you see, then it all but vanishes from their experience. Quaint, I know.”

    Kahurangi, nicknamed Kahu, was trying hard to get interested, see if the structure would come back into focus. But there were more fun things around. He asked again to the guy who was selling pop corn at the entrance.

    “T’is normal that people wander around with… well, pets? Look at this guy, with a piglet on a leash. It’s cute, don’t get me wrong, and probably more useful when you’re looking for truffles…”

    “Pretty normal. Seems animal have a sense around this thing, or so it’s believed. Many will bring one and try again. Look, I buried my snake not long ago, it was getting tired I think. Not sure they make the best animals to cover ground there.” He continued “Are you buying me something or what?”

    “Oh sure, give me that, and a bottle of water.”

    He handed a crumpled bill of 5 and thanked.

    “A word of unsollicited advice?”

    Kahu noded “Sure.”

    “See those piles of rocks over there, along the way?”

    “Looks like inukshuks, are they? Strange place to find them though.”

    “Yeah, you’ll tend to see more as you get along. People started to build them to pinpoint places they’d been, but over time, they became encampments, and people lost the will to move on.”

    “So what?”

    “Don’t stay too long around them.”

    Kahu shrugged and moved along. The maze was starting to get in focus again, there was not a minute to spare.

    #6029
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Based on post #5959 in The Whale’s Diaries Collection.

    As soon as Charlton finished editing his journal entry, someone knocked at the door. It was Kady in a red dress. She looked different than his dream. For starter she was not restless and she had some kind of self-assurance that she didn’t have before.

    “Oh! Hello,” Charlton said. “Are we going to the pistil?”

    “So you got the dream I sent you. It’ll be easier. I’m not against a cup of tea. It’s been a long time since I could enjoy one in a couch.”

    Charlton made some rare Da Hong Pao Chinese tea, the one called Big Red Dress. A warm and rich aroma steamed out of the purple clay teapot he had brought from a trip in China. He thought the tea was a nice touch considering his friend’s garment.

    “So, where have you been?” he asked.

    Kady brought up the little cup to her nose and smelled the tea.

    “Oh! You truly know your shit, Charlton.” She took a sip before continuing. “The pistils, they have been around for longer than everybody think. We call it the Pistil Maze,” Kady said. She looked at him with hesitation in her eyes. “You may not believe me, but aliens put it there, you know. Who else? But most of the people they don’t understand. They don’t want to. It’s too frightening for their little comfort. People are perceiving them now because of the virus. It’s making them able to see their frequency when they weren’t able to before. But they have been there for a long time.”

    Then Kady told Charlton about an ancient alien race from another dimension that was bringing a power, a treasure of knowledge and abilities, but that current humans bodies were too weak to bear its intensity, and that people had to somehow upgrade before they could. The pistils, they were a series of mazes, a path to transformation. People had to follow it in order to change themselves and there was not just one path. Everyone had to follow their own.

    The whole story about the pistils fascinated Charlton, especially after his dream. It didn’t took him long before asking his next question.

    “Do I need to pack up special things for the trip?”

    “Actually you don’t. We’ll find all that we need inside.”

    #5818
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Dear Diary

    Cousin Lisa came calling yesterday morning and she tells us there’s some in the Village have come down with sickness. Of course it would be Lisa being the bearer of such news, her face lit up when I tell her I have heard nothing. Cook, over hearing our conversation, which was private but Cook is always sticking her great nose in where it is not required, she’s hung braids of garlic at the front door. I caught her telling the children it was to keep away the evil spirits that brought death. Poor little Jimmy couldn’t sleep last night he was that afraid of the spirits bringing death in the night. He asked endless questions,  how will the garlic stop them? Can the spirits get in through a window instead? He got his sister afraid also and the pair of them wouldn’t sleep then for crying in fear. I told Cook off roundly this morning for speaking to them thus.

    The master came home filled with drink, crashing around like the damned drunken fool he is nowadays. He shouted at the children for their crying and shouted at me for not keeping them quiet. At least he did not raise his fists for he wanted to lie with me and I nearly retched with his stinking breath coming close and thank God for His mercies that the fool passed out before he could do the deed. I may have done harm if he’d tried for the brass bell was sitting there on the table (and it is a heavy thing) and I was seeing at it as he came close and there was a moment I could have picked it up and crashed it to his skull. May God forgive me. 

    He makes my skin crawl for I know what he has done that he thinks I don’t know. But all will come to light if not in this world then the next. I am more sure than ever I must get away and the children with me.

    #5812
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    They keep calling me Belinda, I don’t know why.  They’re all nice enough, the ones who come and bring my meals and keep the place tidy, so don’t make a fuss when they do. If I’m honest, I don’t always remember their names either.

    Today they had white paper face masks on, which seems a bit rude if you ask me. I asked the morning one, do I smell or something? and she said, no, it’s the bolona virus, hadn’t I seen it on the news?   My dear, I said, if you only knew how many times I’ve died of the plague!  She laughed at me and said don’t you worry, you’re not dying of the plague, as if I didn’t know that. They sound patronizing at times but they do it to cover up how dense they are, some of these helpers.

    The plague was long a-coming to our parish, I said, ignoring her remark, and when it did come, there was no parish in or about London where it raged with such violence.  By the time the cart came for you to dump you in the pit, you were glad to be out of it, I tell you.

    She gave me a funny look and reminded me to eat my toast.

    #5806
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Day 1 of the Experiment

    There is comfort in an empty page; ideas seem to recoil at its touch. It quiets the voices, all of them vying for a place in the mind, eager to start and conquer this new expanse.
    So this is an experiment, to bring in some of the voices, maybe one at a time. Writing them down levels the ground, they have to pause. And wait for the ink to dry.

    I’ll burn those pages once I write them down; can’t risk any of them leaping off the pages and taking a life of their own… That’s the reason I’m not using one of these fancy electronic typewriters. They’re all connected now. They could escape through the wires.
    So I’ll burn these pages. But not yet. I have to lure them out first. With a promise of an escape. And to finally drain them out, one by one.

    Someone is coming. Will resume later.

    #5670
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    “Crocuses in meadow, Flower, Flower”, was singing Eleri. Humming was more accurate, she didn’t recall much of the lyrics, but the tune was easy to follow. She was quite fond of that popular song and liked to sing it whenever she was going to town in her flower dress floating in the wind. She had thought it nice if Gorrash woke up with a festive atmosphere. It would certainly be a shock already that so much time had passed since he was last awake. She wondered if he would remember anything from his broken time. She hadn’t talked much with him before, especially about his day-slumber time.

    “Chestnut in the woods”, she continued. Crack, crack made the dry twigs she walked on on purpose. It made her laugh and snort. She liked playing with her environment and made it participate in her own expression, it was like she had many voices and she could hear herself everywhere. She picked up a few chestnuts because she knew Fox was crazy about them. It was a blessing that the enchanted forest would still produce them out of season.

    When she arrived in town, Eleri didn’t waste time. She wanted costumes and props for the party, so she went directly to the Jiborium’s Emporium where she was sure to find everything she needed, and more. There was a crowd blocking the entrance, but it didn’t deter her from her idea. She elbowed her way up to the door where a man in a wheelchair was complaining about having not enough room to go in. Still in a jolly mood, Eleri found it funny that the man who took so much space with his cumbersome vehicle was asking for more room.

    “Move already”, she joined her voice to the man’s complaint and managed, Flove knows how to make the crowd part away enough so they could both enter the shop.

    “Thanks, young lady”, said the grumpy man. “It’s a hassle sometimes you know to move in this town. People with good health they do not realise.”

    “Oh! I know”, said Eleri. “My ankle just got better, but it was such a pain to move. I would have loved to have a chair like yours to move around, but alas I live in the forest most of the time and I’m not sure the chair would last long in there.”

    “Oh! but it would! They have the cross-country model here, on the fourth floor. Powered by lightning battery.”

    “Really?” said Eleri more to herself than for the man. Her mind was already elsewhere. “Thanks!” She kissed the grumpy man on the forehead and left, thinking of costumes and confetti. A cross-country wheelchair would be nice to bring back all of those. They might even need it for Gorrash if he needed recovery time.

    #5575
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    “What are we waiting for?” asked Fox. “Let’s do it now. I’ll gather his blocks and pieces together before night falls.” He left the house before anyone could say anything and left the door open. The afternoon was near to its end and the light was dimming fast. Glynis, Rukshan and Eleri soon could hear the cyclical grating noise of the wheelbarrow and the thumping noise of the blocks being loaded.

    Glynis sighed.

    “I don’t have all the required ingredients,” she said, “That pink clay from Sina, I used it all to lift the jinx on the loo.”

    Olliver appeared at that moment. “You need my help?”

    “We would if you could go somewhere you have never seen before,” said Rukshan. His panda eyes gave him a really tired look.

    “Oh but I can, now,” said Olli. “If you’ve been there, I just need you to say the name and I can follow the vibration back to its origin.”

    “My, What have I missed? I’ve been away far too long,” said the fae.

    “You certainly have,” said Fox who was back and waiting at the door. The baby snoots, who were never far from the dwarf, had followed and their colourful glows brought an interesting set of nuances to Fox’s aura. “Can someone help me bring all those blocks into the house?”

    Eleri would have helped of course, but pain you know, her ankle was so bad at the moment, she couldn’t risk making it worse. Glynis cleared a space and put a table cloth on the floor. “Don’t you make a scratch on my new wooden floor,” she warned the boys who brought the pieces together.

    “Wow, the blocks are like magnets, but also different,” said Olliver, “It’s difficult to take one away because they attract each other, but if you bring them too close they repel each other. I can feel it.”

    “Yes,” said Rukshan, “the Master creator told me we can’t force the process without the proper requirements.”

    Once every pieces were on the table cloth, they all gathered around, even the baby snoots, and they looked at the rocks for a moment. Glynis had lit a few candles since the night had fallen and the light was painting dancing shadows on the walls. Fox’s stomach growled but his attention was all on what Rukshan would say next. They all were.

    “So where is this pink clay?” asked Olli who couldn’t wait longer.

    #5375
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    May took the brat down to the kitchen and gave him the pot of cold spinach to play with while she slipped outside to send a coded message to her fiance,  Marduk.  Barron happily commenced smearing globs of green mush all over his face, mimicking his fathers applications of orange skin colouring paste.

    “We have a window of opportunity tonight,” May wrote. Actually she said “hu mana sid neffa longo tonga bafti foo chong“, which meant the same thing.   “Slopi sala ding wat forg ooli ama“,  which she knew Marduk would read as:  “The kid will be in a big pot of spinach by the gate at midnight.”

    Forg ooli ama? keni suba?” he replied.   With an impatient sigh May texted back “Sagi poo! And bring a spare set of clothes and a wash cloth!”

    Now all she had to do was pack her suitcase, and keep the kid occupied for the next couple of hours.  What she wasn’t expecting was a visit from Norma, who plonked herself down at the kitchen table, and started a long story about how underpaid and underappreciated she was.

    May tried to hurry her along with the story, but there was no rushing Norma.  She was firmly planted at the table for the duration of the evening. May did some quick thinking, and slipped a couple of fast acting laxative pills into the glass of wine that she handed to the maid, frustrated that no sleeping pills were easily found.  They usually worked within a couple of hours, and with a bit of luck May could coincide her exit with Norma’s inevitable rush to the lavatory.

    “امیدوارم که مؤثر باشد” May said to herself, and seated herself at the table to endure Norma’s long winded complaints.  One hour and 43 minutes to go.

    #4954
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    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.

    Well I could go on, but like I said, it’s Christmas day according to Bert.  I intend to sit on the porch and try and bring Prune and Devan and the twins to mind and see if I can send them a message.

    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.

    #4837
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Liz was not pleased about the latest insubordinate action of those plotting against her. Fashion choices indeed! She had been sorting out her wardrobe, having to do it all herself because of Finnley’s latest scam to take time off, putting away the summery things and bringing out the clothes for the coming cooler weather.

    She’d had the usual little thrill at seeing familiar old favourites, clothes that she’d felt comfortable and happy in for many years. It would be unthinkable to throw them out, like tossing out an old friend just because they were getting wrinkled and saggy, or fat in the wrong places.

    Liz prided herself on her thoughtfulness about the environment when making her “fashion” choices, always choosing second hand items. She liked to think they already had a little of their own history, and that they appreciated being rescued. She abhorred the trends that the gullible lapped up when she saw them looking ridiculous in unflattering unsuitable clothes that would be clearly out of fashion just as they were starting to look pleasantly worn in.

    Warming to the theme, Liz recalled some of the particularly useless garments she’d seen over the years. Woolly polo neck sweaters that were sleeveless, for example. In what possible weather would one wear such a thing, without either suffering from a stifling hot neck, or goose flesh arms? High heeled shoes was another thing. The evidence was clear, judging by the amount of high heeled shoes in immaculate only worn once condition that littered the second hand markets. Nobody could walk in them, and nobody wanted them. Oddly enough though, people were still somehow persuaded to buy more and more new ones. Maybe one day in the future, collectors would have glass fronted cabinets, full of antique high heeled shoes. Or perhaps it would baffle future archaeologists, and they would guess they had been for religious or ritual purposes.

    Liz decided to turn the tables on this new character, Alessandro. She would give him a lesson or two on dress sense. The first thing she would tell him was that labels are supposed to be worn on the inside, not the outside.

    “One doesn’t write “Avon” in orange make up on one’s face, dear, even if it’s been seen in one of those shiny colourful publications,” Liz said it kindly so as not to rile him too much. “One doesn’t write “Pepto Dismal” in pink marker pen upon ones stomach.”

    Alessandro glanced at Finnley, who avoided catching his eye. He cleared his throat and said brightly, “I’ve organized a shopping trip, Liz! Come on, let’s go!”

    “While you’re out, I’ll see what Liz has thrown out, so I can cut it up for dolls clothes,” Fnnley said, to which Liz retorted, “I have thrown nothing out.” Liz cut Finnley short as she protested that Liz didn’t wear most of it anyway. “Yes, but I might, one day.”

    Turning to Alessandro, she said “Although I’m a busy woman, I will come shopping with you, my boy. You clearly need some pointers,” she added, looking at his shoes.

    #4817
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “It was a long and boring flight.” Shawn Paul yawned, happy to finally stretch his legs on the tarmac.
    Maeve rolled her eyes “I don’t know what you are complaining about, at least you managed to sleep throughout the whole thing, even the last bit on that horrid 6-seater plane. I honestly wonder how you managed…”

    Shawn-Paul grinned apologetically, “I think the baby bottles of nhum did the trick.”

    “I saw you glamouring the air attendant, didn’t know she’d bring you the whole inventory. Poor lass’ might have been a bit desperate for attention.”

    A man was at the main door with their names on a sign.

    Shawn-Paul sighed “how can they get it wrong everysingletime…”
    “Look at the bright side, you can still make it out… Shoon Pleul.” Maeve retorted with a bossy glimmer in her eye. “Come now…”

    “Hello Sir, happy to meet you, my name is Shaw…”
    “Don’t bother, SP, don’t you see he’s the driver, he probably can’t understand a word you just said.”
    “Yeah nah, t’is true M’am,” the driver replied. “Your mate’s Canadian accent is atrocious. Haere Mai to Tikfijikoo, right this way please.”

    #4810
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Nurse Trassie sniffed the rubbish can. A day or two at most. The traces were not fresh, but neither were her preys. Yet, there was something unmistakable about the trail the three of them left in their wake.
    The pharmacist had been reluctant at first to share information, but a well-placed arm wrench extracted the truth out of him very efficiently. Those misbehaving lying eloping people needed to be corrected.
    “Yes, yes, I remember them three, very nice ladies!” he said in pleading tones. “They didn’t say where they lived, pleaase! But they were late for their plane!”
    “To where?!” Nurse Trassie was losing patience as much as the plot, and it made her angry.
    “To Finland I think, they were complaining about the cold, and they bought lip balm, and and…”
    Nurse Trassie had heard enough, she could track them through the flight agencies. How these three had managed to take a flight out of the country was a surprise. They’d surely had help.

    She growled to herself “I’m not going to be bested by these decrepit slovens, mark my words. I’ll bring them back to the nursing home by the rest of their hair if I have to!”

    #4786
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Shawn-Paul was quizzing Maeve who remained silent as a dignified statue of old, full of inscrutable enigma.

    “Come on Maeve, you know you can trust me. These secrets are killing me! It’s not like I’m going to write them immediately in my book you know. Believe me I’d like to, but I’m probably going to procrastinate anyway, so telling me is like going to a priest, your Uncle’s secrets are going to be safe.”

    She chuckled against her will. There was something endearing in the awkwardness of Shawn-Paul, and if anything he’d been a complete gentleman throughout their stay in the shabby Inn.

    She didn’t trust the paper-thin walls however. And especially after the incident where they all blacked out, she wasn’t sure whom to trust. Some of the guests had disappeared too. Highly suspicious.

    She’d decided to pack early. She’d found out later after the accident that her Uncle had managed to slip 2 new coupons for their next destination. One extra, in case she wanted to bring someone in.

    Two tickets, each one way to Tikfijikoo. Most probably the way to a second doll and its key.

    She wondered why it was at all important, she knew all the dolls and what they looked like. She’d made them!

    She realized, looking back at the doll she’d managed to steal back from Lucinda, that this particular doll… was not at all imaginary! She had in fact been standing right in front of her all along these past days before leaving off to the mines and disappearing with Mr Sanso: It was a spitting likeness of Ms Idle, the dry drunk hostess of the Inn!

    It seems… It was folly to imagine, but… Did she have the power to activate these dolls she’d made, and somehow materialize them?!

    She had to be sure.

    “Pack your bags, SP, and meet me in the lobby in ten minutes. The cab is picking us up to our next destination. Maybe you’ll get your novel done after all”, she added, with a wink.

    #4775
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The wind swooshed in the garden, making fallen apples roll on the ground. The air had a lively smell of earth and decaying fruit, and the grass was still moist from the morning dew.
    The statue of Gorrash was facing East, and the rising sun was bringing golden hues to his petrified face. Little snoots were curled in glowing colourful balls of liquid fur around the statue, making it pulsate with a quieting purr. Around Gorrash, the slope was peppered with some of the gargoyles rejects that Eleri had made and couldn’t sell at the market. Still, instead of discarding them, she’d arranged a little forest of painted gargoyles as a sort of silent watchful army guarding Gorrash’s sleep.
    Rukshan liked to meditate at the place, it helped with the stress he’d felt at coming back from the last ordeals. He wouldn’t have thought, but his identity had felt more shaken than he knew. He wasn’t feeling at home with the Faes any longer, and there were few people who could relate to his adventures in the villages nearby, where he was nothing more than an ominous stranger. Retreating in the Fae’s dimension, hidden from all and mostly abandoned was a tempting thought, but he’d found it was a lure with empty promises. He still had work to do.

    Tak and Nesy were already awake and were coming back for the rest of the story.
    He’d started to tell them about the Giants, the old forgotten story which he’d learnt many years ago in his previous life as a Dark Fae. Both were captivated at the prowess displayed by the Master Craftsmen, the old Rings of Stones that they built, the Cairns of the Fallen, and the Fields of Chanting Boulders where magic rituals where performed.

    “Tell us more Rukshan!” they said. “Tell us more about the Three Giant Kings.”
    “Do you remember their names?” he smiled back at the children.
    “Yes! There was Ceazar…” Tak started
    “Caesar, yes” he corrected gently
    “… and Archimedes,” Tak continued hesitantly
    “Yes, and who was the third one?”
    “He had a long and strange name! Nesy, help me!”
    The girl tried to help him “It starts with a V”
    “Vergincetorix!” the answer came from behind a bush.

    Fox!” Nesy cried reproachfully. “It’s not even right! It’s Vercingetorix!”
    “Correct Nesy! And Fox, no need to lurk in the shadows, stories are not only for children you know.”

    Fox took a place near the gargoyle army garden, and a baby snoot jumped into his lap, cooing in vibrating mruii.

    “So what about these Kings do you want to know?” Rukshan asked.
    “Everything!” they all said in unison.
    “Oh well, in this case, let me retell you the story of the Golden Age of the Three Giant Kings, and how they saved their people from a terrible catastrophe.”

    #4773
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Albie, wake up, sweetie!”

    “He doesn’t seem to have been hit as hard as the others, yet, he doesn’t look very bright…” Mandrake said to Arona, with a hint of concern behind the usual snark.

    “It’ll take him a day or two to recover. This was a psychic attack the scale of which I haven’t seen before.” Arona was assessing the situation. Luckily for her, the old protective spells woven in the cloak that she’d used to make her hijab had protected her from it. Sanso seemed to have been hit more, although the effects varied and honestly, it was always a bit difficult to be a fair judge of his sanity or lack thereof.

    “Strange things happen around these keys.” Mandrake said pointing at the key that Arona was wearing around her neck. “Are you sure you still want to run around places finding the others? Especially after what Fergus said about them?”

    “I never knew you to pussy out like that” she said with a smile “where’s your sense of adventure?”

    “The point is, I wouldn’t know where to start. It was all supposed to be a simple recon mission, wasn’t it? But that energy surge… Something else entirely; maybe we should leave it to Ed Steam and his team.”

    Mandrake stretched lazily, and continued “I wouldn’t feel bad about them, seems they got the hang of living in a ghost town, they don’t need all the action to feel good. Might end up wake up the underground monsters, if you let them.”

    Arona sighed “You still have a few of these pearls left, do you? Then let’s give Albie a day or two to recuperate, and we’ll bring him back to the Doline.”

    “Oh, that’s smart. From the Doline’s vortex, it’ll be much easier to pick up the energy signature of the other keys, check if they haven’t been moved.”

    “Better pray that they haven’t been moved, or found.”

    #4718
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    “Tsk tsk,” said Rukshan when he heard that the carpenter hadn’t done anything yet.
    “At least the joiner came and fixed the mirror in the bathroom,” said Fox trying to sound positive.
    They were in the kitchen and Glynis was brewing a chicken stew in Margorrit’s old purple clay pot.
    Fox seemed distracted with saliva gathering at the corner of his mouth. Rukshan realised it was not the best of places to explain his plan with all the smells and spells of Glynis’ spices.
    “Let’s go outside it’ll be best to tell you where we are going,” said Rukshan.
    Fox nodded his consent with great effort.

    “If you go out, just tell Olli to bring in more dry wood for the stove,” said Glynis as they left.

    They took the Troll’s path, a sandy track leading in the thick of the forest.
    “Are you sure we’ll find him there?” asked Rukshan.
    “Trust me,” said Fox pointing at his nose.
    “I thought you had abandoned the shapeshifting and using your fox’s smelling sense?”
    “Well if you want to know, Olli is quite predictable, he’s always at the Young Maid’s pond.

    “I realise I haven’t seen the lad in months,” said Rukshan.
    Fox shrugged. “He’s grown up, like all kids do.”

    They arrived at the pond where Olli was sculpting a branch of wood in an undefinable shape. Rukshan had almost a shock when he saw how much little Olli had changed. He was different, almost another person physically. Taller and with a man’s body. It took the Fae some time when he had to tell himself that the person in front of him was the boy that had helped them in the mountain. But Rukshan was not the kind to show many emotions so he just said.

    “You’ve grown boy.”
    Olli shrugged and stopped what he was doing.
    “I’ve heard so,” he said. “She wants more wood?”
    “Yeah,” said Fox with a knowing grin.
    “Okay.”
    Olliver sighed and left with supple movements.

    When the young man was gone, Fox turned towards the Fae, whose eyes seemed lost in the misty mountains.
    “So, what is the plan?”
    “I’m thinking of a new plan that shall make use of everyone’s potential and save a young man from boredom.”

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