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      The garden was becoming too small for Gorrash. With time, the familiarity had settled down in his heart and he knew very well each and every stone or blade of grass there was to know. With familiarity, boredom was not very far. Gorrash threw a small pebble in the pond, he was becoming restless and his new and most probably short friendship with Rainbow had triggered a seed in his heart, the desire to know more about the world.

      Before he’d met the creature, Gorrash could remember the pain and sadness present in the heart of his maker. He had thought that was all he needed to know about the world, that mankind was not to be trusted. And he had avoided any contact with that dragon lady, lest she would hurt him. He knew that all came from his maker, although he had no real access to the actual memories, only to their effects.

      Gorrash threw another pebble into the pond, it made a splashing sound which dissolved into the silence. He imagined the sound was like the waves at the surface of the pond, going endlessly outward into the world. He imagined himself on top of those waves, carried away into the world. A shiver ran through his body, which felt more like an earthquake than anything else, stone bodies are not so flexible after all. He looked at the soft glowing light near the bush where Rainbow was hiding. The memory of joy and love he had experienced when they hunted together gave his current sadness a sharp edge, biting into his heart mercilessly. He thought there was nothing to be done, Rainbow would leave and he would be alone again.

      His hand reached in his pocket where he found the phial of black potion he had kept after Rainbow refused it. He shook it a few times. Each time he looked at it, Gorrash would see some strange twirls, curls and stars in the liquid that seemed made of light. He wondered what it was. What kind of liquid was so dark to the point of being luminous sometimes ? The twirls were fascinating, leading his attention to the curls ending in an explosion of little stars. Had the witch captured the night sky into that bottle?

      Following the changes into the liquid was strangely soothing his pain. Gorrash was feeling sleepy and it was a very enjoyable feeling. Feelings were quite new to him and he was quite fascinated by them and how they changed his experience of the world. The phial first seemed to pulse back and forth into his hand, then the movement got out and began to spread into his body which began to move back and forth, carried along with this sensual lullaby. Gorrash wondered if it would go further, beyond his body into the world. But as the thought was born, the feeling was gone and he was suddenly back into the night. A chill went down his spine. It was the first time. The joy triggered his sadness again.

      The dwarf looked at the dark phial. Maybe it could help ease his pain. He opened it, curious and afraid. What if it was poison? said a voice of memory. Gorrash dismissed it as the scent of Jasmine reached his nose. His maker was fond of Jasmine tea, and he was surprised at the fondness that rose in his heart. But still no images, it was merely voices and feelings. Sometimes it was frustrating to only have bits and never the whole picture, and full of exasperation, Gorrash gulped in the dark substance.

      He waited.

      Nothing was happening. He could still hear the cooing of Rainbow, infatuated with it eggs, he could hear the scratches of the shrews, the flight of the insects. That’s when Gorrash noticed something was different as he was beginning to hear the sharp cries of the bats above. He tried to move his arm to look at the phial, but his body was so heavy. He had never felt so heavy in his short conscious life, even as the light of the Sun hardened his body, it was not that heavy.

      The soil seemed to give way under his increasing weight, the surface tension unable to resist. He continued to sink into the ground, down the roots of the trees, through the tunnels of a brown moles quite surprised to see him there, surrounded by rocks and more soil, some little creatures’ bones, and down he went carried into hell by the weight of his pain.

      After some time, his butt met a flat white surface, cold as ice, making him jump back onto his feet. The weird heaviness that a moment before froze his body was gone. He looked around, he was in a huge cave and he was not alone. There was an old woman seated crosslegged on a donkey skin. Gorrash knew it was a donkey because it still had its head, and it was smiling. The old woman had hair the colour of the clouds before a storm in summer, It was full of knots and of lightning streaks twirling and curling around her head. Her attention was all on the threads she had in her hands. Gorrash counted six threads. But she was doing nothing with them. She was very still and the dwarf wondered if she was dead or asleep.

      What do you want? asked the donkey head in a loud bray.

      It startled the dwarf but it didn’t seem to bother the old lady who was still entranced and focused on her threads.

      Nothing, said Gorrash who couldn’t think of anything he would want.

      Nonsense, brayed the donkey, laughing so hard that the skin was shaking under the old lady. Everyone wants something. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want something.

      Gorrash thought about what he could want, what he had been wanting that night. He remembered his desire to get out of the garden.

      And there you are, brayed the donkey head, that’s a start. What do you want then?

      Getting out of the garden?

      Noooo! That’s a consequence of a deeper desire, but that’s not what you want.

      I have never thought about desires before, said Gorrash. It’s pretty new to me. I just came to life a few weeks ago during a full moon.

      The donkey head tilted slightly on its right. No excuses, it spat, If you’re awake, then you have a desire in your heart that wants to be fulfilled. What do you want? Take your time, but not too long. The universe is always on the move and you may miss the train, or the bus, or the caravan…

      As the donkey went on making a list of means of transportation, Gorrash looked hesitantly at the old lady. She was still focused on her six threads she had not moved since he had arrived there.

      Who is she? he asked to the donkey.

      _She’s known by many names and has many titles. She’s Kumihimo Weaver of Braids, Ahina Maker of Songs, Gadong Brewer of Stews…

      Ok! said Gorrash, not wanting the donkey go on again into his list enumeration pattern. What is she doing?

      She’s waiting.

      And, what is she waiting for?

      She’s waiting for the seventh thread, brayed the donkey head. I’m also waiting for the thread, it whined loudly. She won’t leave my back until she’s finished her braid. The head started to cry, making the dwarf feel uncomfortable. Suddenly it stopped and asked And, who are you?

      The question resonated in the cave and in his ears, taking Gorrash by surprise. He had no answer to that question. He had just woken up a few weeks ago in that garden near the forest, with random memories of a maker he had not known, and he had no clue what he desired most. Maybe if he could access more memories and know more about his maker that would help him know what he wanted.

      Good! brayed the donkey, We are making some progress here. Now if you’d be so kind as to give her a nose hair, she could have her last thread and she could tell you where to find your maker.

      Hope rose in Gorrash’s heart. Really?

      Certainly, brayed the head with a hint of impatience.

      But wouldn’t a nose hair be too short for her braid? asked the dwarf. All the other threads seemed quite long to him.

      Don’t waste my time with such triviality. Pull it out!

      Gorrash doubted it would work but he grabbed a nose hair between his thumb and index and began to pull. He was surprised as he didn’t feel the pain he expected but instead the hair kept being pulled out. He felt annoyed and maybe ashamed that it was quite long and he had not been aware of it. He took out maybe several meters long before a sudden pain signalled the end of the operation. Ouch!

      hee haw, laughed the donkey head.

      The pain brought out the memory of a man, white hair, the face all wrinkled, a long nose and a thin mouth. He was wearing a blouse tightened at his waist by a tool belt. He was looking at a block of stone wondering what to make out of it, and a few tears were rolling down his cheeks. Gorrash knew very well that sadness, it was the sadness inside of him. Many statues surrounded the man in what looked like a small atelier. There were animals, gods, heads, hands, and objects. The vision shifted to outside the house, and he saw trees and bushes different than the ones he was used to in the garden where he woke up. Gorrash felt a strange feeling in his heart. A deep longing for home.

      Now you have what you came here for. Give the old lady her thread, urged the donkey. She’s like those old machines, you have to put a coin to get your coffee.

      Gorrash had no idea what the donkey was talking about. He was still under the spell of the vision. As soon as he handed the hair to the woman, she began to move. She took the hair and combined it to the other threads, she was moving the threads too swiftly for his eyes to follow, braiding them in odd patterns that he felt attracted to.

      Time for you to go, said the donkey.

      I’d like to stay a bit longer. What she’s doing is fascinating.

      Oh! I’m sure, brayed the donkey, But you have seen enough of it already. And someone is waiting for you.

      The dwarf felt lighter. And he struggled as he began levitating. What!? His body accelerated up through the earth, through the layers of bones and rocks, through the hard soil and the softer soil of years past. He saw the brown mole again and the familiar roots of the trees of the garden in the enchanted forest.

      Gorrash took a deep breath as he reintegrated his stone body. He wobbled, trying to catch his ground. He felt like throwing up after such an accelerated trip. His knees touched the ground and he heard a noise of broken glass as he dropped the phial.

      “Are you alright?” asked a man’s voice. Gorrash forced his head up as a second wave of nausea attempted to get out. A man in a dark orange coat was looking down at him with genuine worry on his face.

      “I’m good,” said the dwarf. “But who are you?”

      “My name is Fox. What’s yours?”


        Yorath led the way down the forest path. Eleri followed, feeling no urge to rush, despite the sense of urgency. Rather, she felt a sense of urgency to linger, perhaps even to sit awhile on a rock beneath an old oak tree, to stop the pell mell rush of thoughts and suppositions and just sit, staring blankly, listening to the forest sounds and sniffing the mushroomy mulch beneath her feet.

        The compulsion to be alone increased. Unable to ignore it any longer, Eleri told Yorath that she would catch him up, she needed to go behind a bush for a moment, knowing quite well that there was no need for the excuse, but still, she didn’t feel like explaining. Talking, even thinking, had become tiring, exhausting even. She needed to sit, just sit.

        She watched his retreating back and breathed a sigh of relief when his form disappeared from view. Much as she loved her dear old friend, the absence of other humans was like a breath of air to the drowning. The rustlings of the living forest, the dappling shadows and busy missions of the insects was a different kind of busyness, far from still and never silent, not always slow or sedate, not even serene or pleasant always, but there was a restful coherence to the movements of the living forest.

        Leaning back into the tree trunk, her foot dislodged a rotten log from its resting place among the leaves ~ crisp and crunchy on the top, damp and decomposing beneath the surface ~ revealing the long slim ivory of bone contrasting sharply with the shades of brown.

        Bones. Eleri paused before leaning over to touch it gently at first, then gently smooth away the composting detritus covering it.

        Bones. She held it, feeling the hard dry texture peculiar to bones, loving the white colour which was more than white, a richer white than white, not bleached of colour, but full of the colours of white, and holding all of the colours of the story of it.

        The story of the bone, the bones. She knelt, carefully brushing the leaves aside. Bones never rested alone, she knew that. Close by she knew she would find more. She knew she would take them home with her, although she knew not why. Just that she always did. A smile flitted across her face as she recalled the horse bones she’d found once ~ an entire, perfect skeleton of a horse. What she wouldn’t have given to take the whole thing home with her, but it was impossible. Perfectly assembled, picked clean and sun bleached, resplendent in the morning sun, it was a thing of unimaginable beauty that morning, reclining on the hilltop. So she took as much of the spine as she could carry, and later wished she’d taken the skull instead. And never really wondered why she didn’t go back for more.

        But that was the thing with bones. You don’t go back. You take what you want, what you can carry, and leave the rest. But Eleri had to admit that she didn’t know why this was so.


          The grass was covered with frost. Fox growled, curled up in his clothes. He put his tail on his nose to protect it from the cold morning air. He sneezed. The city clock chimed the eighth hour. His fine ear alerted him that the sound was still a tad out of phase, but it seemed better than the day before. It took a moment to his brain to understand what that meant.

          Rats! I fell asleep, Fox yelped. He tried to stood up on his four legs, only to get tangled in his pants and shirt. He growled again, unnerved at the poking of the branches of the bush under which he had waited… slept.

          He froze, alerted by noises from the house. He turned his ears straight toward the building in an attempt to pick up any useful information. His heart was beating fast. With each breath steam was escaping from his mouth. Someone unlatched the door. They were going out.

          Fox panicked at the idea of being seen that way. Agitation was not the best ingredient to facilitate shapeshifting, it could result in unfortunate entanglements of body parts. He breathed deeply and realized he had chosen his hideout not to be seen. He was out of sight. His heart still beating fast, but not quite as fast as before. Fox resumed his watch.

          A woman under a tattered burka got out of the house. She was holding a basket covered by a red gingham cloth. From the tinkling sound, Fox concluded she was carrying small glass bottles among other things. He wondered if that could be the potions that gnome and his strange creature talked about last night. His stomach growled, reminding him he hadn’t eaten in a day. The garden seemed a small and empty place to find food. He didn’t like shrews for breakfast. Furthermore, his previous targets certainly had time to get far away. There was no trace of them in the air or on the ground.

          Never mind. His curiosity picked, Fox decided to follow the woman. He considered his clothes on the ground for a moment. There was no way he could shapeshift all dressed up, and he didn’t want to get his butt frozen in that cold. Human form would have to wait. Still, he adjusted the color of his fur from fox orange to a darker tone before leaving the cover of his bush. He reminded himself to be careful, city people were not known to be fond of his kind except dead on their back.

          The woman was already outside the stonewall surrounding the garden. He caught her scent in the crisp morning air. The cold made him sneeze again. But he would not lose her and could follow from a distance. He went past a small statue before going out of the garden. It looked oddly familiar.


            The North wind was cold on his cheeks. It was almost sunset, which didn’t help with the temperature. Fox was sweeping a street covered in autumn leaves. He couldn’t help but think it was useless. The wind was scattering away the leaves as soon as he had made a small heap. He already missed the quietness of his hut.

            Mr Mole must have misunderstood, he thought, he appointed me caretaker of the city streets.
            Fox took a whiff of city air. The cold bit his nose,but it was not enough to numb his sense of smell. The dragon breath was still there, even though the North wind had dispersed it a bit.
            I’m not sure it will be enough.

            He shivered, he never liked staying outside too long in his human form. Fox looked around. When he was sure nobody was in sight. As the sun disappeared behind the city walls, he allowed his true nature to the surface, just enough to enjoy the warmth of his red fur on his body. It was such a good feeling he almost didn’t stop in time. He touched his face, a moustache had grown on his upper lip, and his ears were a tad pointy. He passed his tongue onto his teeth; the length of his canines reminded him of chicken hunt in the nearby farms.
            Don’t let yourself get carried away by the memories, he reminded himself. He took a deep breath. The smells of the city were stronger now, and it was as if someone had lit a light.

            With his improved hearing, he caught up a strange noise coming from a nearby garden. It was like a faint pulse that was growing louder as the light diminished. A crack as soft as the whisper of stone. And the most unexpected words.

            “Bloody bird shit ! Why do they always pick my nose ?”

            Fox came closer to the small garden stonewall, as stealthily as he could, to see a gnome washing his face in a small basin. He suddenly caught sight of some wavering in the air, coming from a bush. The waves gradually took the shape of a strange animal, still rather translucent. Its fur behaving as if it was immersed into water, all wavy and floating.

            “Ah! You’re here Rainbow,” said the gnome.
            “Mrui,” answered the creature.
            “Let’s get some potion for you, then.”

            Fox looked the two of them walk silently toward the house. He could see the rays of light getting through the spaces of the wooden shutters. The gnome climbed on his friend’s back and took a bit of that translucent quality. He said something but it sounded like gargling. Fox almost expected to see his hair beginning to float in an invisible current. But it didn’t. And then they disappeared through the wall.

            Fox dropped his broom, which bounced on the stonewall before falling on the floor. He waited, half expecting to hear a voice ask about all the noise. But the place remained quiet except for the wind. He jumped over the wall and waited behind a bush, his eyes on the wall where they had entered the house.

            What if they don’t come out? he thought. But he remained there, his gaze fixed. He let his fur grow more. He wanted to be comfortable in the cold night.


              It caressed the bottle it had stolen from the house, purring like a cat. Gorrash had never seen such a being before. Nor had his maker, as far as he could tell from the residual memories of the sculpting process. The creature looked somewhat transluscent and its movements felt unnatural. It reminded him of how water flowed from the surface of his stone skin during a rainy day.

              Gorrash didn’t understand how it got the flask. Its paw had just flown through the glass and brought back its glowing prize without breaking the window. He had blinked several times before being sure the window had been closed.
              That is interesting, Gorrash thought. He had never dared enter the house, fearing to be trapped inside.

              The creature suddenly backed away and hid into a bush. There was movement inside the house. Gorrash returned quickly to his usual spot before she could see him. The human of the house was closing the window for the night. He didn’t understand that either. As far as he could tell, night was the best time of all, especially in winter when nights were longer. A couple of bats flew above him and as they became silent he knew there were a couple less mothes in this world.

              Gorrash was still curious about the creature. He went to the bush near the window; you would be surprised how silent a stone dwarf could be. He moved the leaves apart and saw the flask on the ground. It was unopened but empty. The dwarf picked the bottle up from the ground. It was kind of wet. But no sign of the creature. He looked around the garden, with the moonlight it should be easy to spot. But the night was quiet and empty.

              As he walked under the old oak tree, a satisfied purr from above attracted his attention. Gorrash looked up and there it was glowing and pulsing with flowing patterns of colors perched onto a branch like a christmas decoration.

              Gorrash scratched his stone beard with its tiny hand. It was high for a dwarf. He had never climbed onto a tree, and he doubted he could do it one day. Mostly he feared the fall.

              “Hey”, he called. The creature continued to purr and glow as if it heard nothing.
              “Hey”, he called again. The creature continued to ignore him.
              Gorrash looked at his feet and found a few pebbles. I hope it does not hold grudges, he thought before throwing the first stone at the creature.

              It flew right through the creature’s body. Gorrash shivered thinking it might be some kind of ghost. He hesitated a moment, considering his options. But he had been alone for too long, even a ghost would be good company. He threw the other pebble which flew right through the creature again but this time he had calculated so that it would also bump into the bark of the tree.

              It was enough to get its attention. The patterns of colors were pulsing more quickly, but were still harmonious.
              “Hey! I’m down there”, Gorrash said. This time the creature looked down. The dwarf waved his hand. He was not sure but the rainbow creature looked a tad drunk. He wondered what was in that empty flask.
              “You care to get down a moment ?” he asked.
              “Mruiiii”, answered the creature with what looked like curiosity.


                Glynis likes to light candles before dark. She has a trail of candles leading from the kitchen to her small bedroom down the hallway. She made the candles herself by extracting the wax from the bayberries which grow with wild abandon on the bushes in front of the house. The candles burn cleanly and have a beautiful scent which helps her drift to sleep at night.

                Glynis is in the portion of the house which was once the servants’ quarters. Part of the main house was destroyed in a fire many years ago and seemingly abandoned for good. There are acres of garden, once beautifully manicured, now overgrown and vibrant with life.

                She is not sure how long she will stay here and lately has felt a restless pull to move on. Where? She is not sure. So for now, she practices her magic arts and knows she has much to learn.

                Glynis is about to retire for the evening when something catches her attention. A flicker of light at the window. When she looks again there is nothing there. But something else is amiss; she can sense it.

                “Oh, what is this? Eleven jars of potion? Darnit! I’m sure I made a clean dozen!”


                  That’s funny, Roberto thought, a bunch of nonsense.
                  “What’s that ?” asked Liz, her curiosity picked by the alluredness of a strand of words.
                  “It just fall off your hat”, said the gardener. He looked at the woman, thinking about what Godfrey had told him. The sunlight certainly made her look radiant. He noticed that the red of her lips was the same as the red rose bush he was just taking care of.
                  Liz took the paper.
                  “Be careful, It’s sticky”, said Roberto.
                  “Say something I don’t know, dear.” She tried to get rid of the paper, tearing it in several pieces in the process.
                  “I wonder…” she began, “Finnley”, she called waiting for her help. She would certainly know. She had a habit of sticking her nose everywhere.


                    Liz wandered out into the garden. There was a stiff breeze but the sun was shining and the sky was a dazzling blue. She spied Roberto bending over a rose bush, secateurs in hand, revealing a tantalizing glimpse of buttock crack. Liz laughed out loud. Tantalizing? She must be getting quite desperate if the sight of a gardeners bum crack appeared tantalizing. It had taken her mind off the others momentarily though, and her impatient thoughts of writing them all out of the story.

                    It really was a most splendid day.


                    In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


                      The chair in the center of the bare white room was shaped like an egg. Kale wasn’t a big fan of the current trend in zen minimilism; he stood up and wandered around restlessly.

                      He hadn’t been going to take the job, no matter how much data about unemployment and job probabilities Flynn ranted on about.

                      But then he had seen her again. The dark haired woman. Just call me Agent T, she had said mysteriously when he asked her name.

                      He had been putting out the garbage—Flynn’s job but he was still sulking about the job situation—when she, Agent T, popped out from behind the purple Amelia bush.

                      “Please take the job,” she had said pleadingly. “It’s my first job and if I stuff it up they won’t give me another one. And it really is important. And all you have to do is play along and do what they say and wait for instructions from us.”

                      She had refused to give any further details about who “us” were, but Kale’s curiosity was well and truly piqued.

                      He was thinking about this when the wall slid open and a gorgeous creature appeared before him.

                      “You must be Kale.” she said in a silky voice. “I am Fin Min Hoot. How good of you to come.”


                        There is something creepy about that new maid.
                        “I think she’s got a crush on me”, I said to Joe the other day. “That bush pig’s putting porn red lipstick when she knows I’m coming to the Inn.”
                        Actually I hadn’t really noticed it until Prune mentioned it. Not with those words, of course, she’s too sophisticated to use such words. I used them because I knew it would catch Joe’s attention and make a better story. But truth is, there was not much of a story to tell.
                        T’was pathetic and oddly arousing at the same time to pretend I would be interested in catching the maid in the laundry room and give’er the bone on the washing machine.
                        “She’d slap my face with her feeders…” You know how boys are. We can be stupid when excited.

                        It was something to make jokes about it in the barn with Joe, but I had a hard time at Christmas trying to avoid her. I caught more than once an amused look on Prune’s face when Finly would bent over lower to serve me some stuffing. I’d swear she had no bra and no knickers. It could have been exciting but her armpits smelled of fried onions, barely masked by her cheap perfume.

                        After diner, I pretended a headache and went to my room. That’s when I heard that strange noise in the corridor. It was coming from room 8.



                          I am concerned about Dido. The silly trollop has taken up drinking again—in front of the kids too. Mark my words, she will end up back in rehab if it goes on. Like last time. And then where will we all be? Those poor little mites without a father or mother and their Aunt fast turning into a crazy slush. There’s no telling her though. God knows I have tried in the past.

                          I can only hope she will settle down when that kiwi friend arrives—Flora someone. Though I don’t hold out much hope really. I have not met a kiwi with a half a brain in their head yet. And that awful accent! I don’t need this aggravation at my age.

                          Calm down, remember what Jiemba told you.

                          I have not told you yet about my visit to Jiemba, have I? There has been so much going on here, what with the fish going missing and that odd guest staying in Room 8 and Dido’s antics, it nearly slipped my mind.

                          It was Prune who hid the fish, of course. Sensitive wee thing — she has always had a particularly strong dislike of the awful old relic and I can’t say I blame her. Dido went ape when Prune eventually confessed, but secretly I found it rather amusing.

                          I digress, yet again.

                          In the end it was Bert who helped me more than Jiemba. The dear man waited out in the truck for me while I kept my appointment with Jiemba. And he held my secret safe from the others. I am grateful to him for that. It felt nice to have someone who would do that for me. On the trip back home he opened up and told me stories about the town. Apparently in its heyday it even had an ice-cream factory; I hadn’t heard that before. Nor some of the other stories he told me. There are not many left around here with the knowledge Bert has. I feel I may even pluck up courage to tell him what I have seen at the Inn. Perhaps he may have some thoughts on it.

                          But not just yet.

                          Jiemba gave me some salve made from native bush bark for my aches and pains. It seems he is more modern than his father—things change I guess. I wanted to ask him about the ghost, but what with the dogs and kids running around outside and the heat and the baby screaming in the house somewhere, I could not bring myself to do it. But one thing he said to me has stuck.

                          “Live from your heart”.

                          It was the way he said it. Very intense. He went quiet and stared at the floor for a long time while I tried not to fidget. As though he was communing with some spirit world I could not see. Though I would dearly love to. I have thought about those words since then, trying to figure out what they mean.

                          I’m not sure I can even find my heart, let alone live from it.


                            I noticed when Mater left the house early and discreetly. I know all the sounds of the house, and even the light footsteps of my grandmother couldn’t avoid making the floor creak.

                            I’m mildly curious, as it isn’t every day Mater leaves the house, besides for the Sundays’ mass. She always complained about her cracking joints, and plenty other pains. Must be why she liked to threaten everyone with inflicting some.

                            She had looked genuinely sad when the furball had died, though. I was too, but my eyes are set on one of the new spaniel pups from a litter that Battista and Gerardo, the funny Italian couple with the pizzeria next door just had.

                            Battista promised to keep one for me. I lied of course, told her that my aunt had agreed to it. By any rate, Aunt Idle wouldn’t remember giving her approval or disapproval, and would most probably fall gaga for the little puppy. So it would just be a little white lie.

                            I was about to fall back asleep when I hear the door creak open. My first thought was that it was Mater who’d forgotten her keys, but the loud footsteps weren’t hers.

                            My heartbeat raised a little while I jump out of bed full of hope.

                            “Papa Fred!” I almost cried out while flying down the stairs, but then I stopped in mid sentence.
                            The man in the entrance isn’t father.

                            I would have cried for help, but Aunt Idle and my sisters have a very loud sleep, and I don’t want to look afraid. Father had taught me to stand my ground with wild animals.

                            “Who are you?” I ask the dust covered man. He had a broad hat, and a thick bushy beard. His coat was covered with cracked mud and dust from the road.

                            “Apologies for my intrusion young lady. Is that the Flying Fish Inn? Someone told me I could stay there for a while.”


                              By the time Mirabelle and Igor had recovered from physical effects of the abrupt emotional catapult during their teleport to find Lisa, Fanella, Ivan and Sanso, they found themselves alone on the sandy beach. Bewildered, they looked around but could find no sign of the others that they had momentarily seen as they landed, before collapsing in bodily distress.
                              Weakly, Mirabelle sank down onto the sand, and looked at Igor questioningly. “What do we do now? My head is spinning still and I need a drink of water. Where are we?”
                              Igor, drained of energy and just as puzzled, straightened his back and tried to sound reassuring.
                              “Something very peculiar has happened. See these mangrove trees? They have grown at least a meter taller since a few minutes ago when we landed. And see this log here, this wasn’t here a few moments ago. It can’t have washed up while I was having a crap behind the bushes. Something has happened to time.”
                              “You mean we’ve time traveled again? I don’t think I can stand much more of this,” replied Mirabelle, starting to weep.
                              “Come now Mirabelle, sitting here sniveling won’t help. On your feet, girl, we will walk until we find some kind of civilization.” Igor pulled her to her feet, scanning the surroundings. “This way,” he said firmly, setting off along the beach. “I have a feeling there is something over there,” he said, pointing towards the east.


                              In reply to: Snowflakes of Tens


                                It was hot, although not as hot as usual for the month of August on the southern slopes of the Serrania de Ronda. It had rained, the black clouds and thunder a welcome respite from the searing dry heat of an Andalucian summer, plumping up the blackberries and washing the dust from the leaves of the fig trees. Blithe Gambol hadn’t seen her old friend Granny Mosca for months, although she wasn’t quite sure what had kept her from visiting for so long. Blithe loved Granny Mosca’s cottage tucked away in the saddle behind the fat hill and there had been times when she’d visited often, just to drink in the magical air and feast her eyes on the beauty of the surroundings. Dry golden weeds scratched her legs as she made her way along the dirt path, and she was mindful of the fat black snake she’d once seen basking on the stone walls as she reached into the brambles to pluck blackberries and take photographs.

                                Rounding a corner in the path she gasped at the incongrous and alarming sight of a bright yellow bulldozer just meters from Granny Mosca’s cottage. The bulldozer was flattening a large area of prickly pear cactuses. Unfortunately for the cactuses, it was fruiting time, and Blithe wondered if Granny Mosca had first picked the fruits and suspected that she had, those that she could reach. Nothing that could be eaten was left unpicked ~ Blithe remembered the many sacks of almonds that Granny had given her over the years, very few of which she had bothered to shell and eat.

                                The bulldozer was making an entranceway to the tiny derelict cottage that was situated next to Granny Mosca’s house. Granny had asked Blithe if she wanted to buy it, and she had wanted to buy it eventually, but the purchase of a derelict building hadn’t been a priority at the time. Now it looked as if she was too late, that someone else had bought it, perhaps to use as a holiday home. Horrified, Blithe called out for Granny, who was often in the goat shed or away across the hidden saddle valley cutting weeds to feed the poultry, but there was no sign of her. Two alien looking turkeys gobbled in response, and the black and white chained dog barked menacingly.

                                As Blithe retraced her steps along the dirt path it occured to her that whoever was planning to use the derelict cottage might be a very interesting person, someone she might be very pleased to make the acquaintance of in due course. After all, she had noticed that the holiday guests staying at the casitas on the other side of the fat hill were all sympathetic to the magical nature of the location, many of them arriving from a previous visit to a particularly interesting location in the Alpujarras ~ a convergence of ley lines. When questioned as to why they chose the fat hill casitas, they simply said they liked the countryside. Either they weren’t telling, or they were simply unaware objectively of the connection of the locations. Blithe could sense the connections though, both the locations, and that the people choosing to vacation at the fat hill were connected to it.

                                For one hundred and forty seven thousand years, Blithe had had an energy presence at the fat hill, although it was half a century of her current focus before she remembered it. She had felt protective of it, when she finally remembered it, as if she had a kind of responsibility to it. This place can look after itself quite well on its own, she reminded herself. The fat hill had watched while Franco’s Capitan looted the Roman relics, and watched as Blithe stumbled upon the remains of Roman and Iberian cities, and the fat hill had laughed when Blithe first tried to find the entrance to the interior and got stuck in thorn bushes. Later, the fat hill had smiled benignly when Granny Mosca led her to the entrance ~ without a thorn bush in sight. The cave entrance had been blocked with boulders then. Blithe had given some thought to an excavation, wondering how to achieve it without attracting the attention of the locals, but now she wondered if one day, when the time was right, she would find the entrance clear, as if by magic. Magic, after all, was by no means impossible.

                                {link: feast for the birds}


                                In reply to: Snowflakes of Tens


                                  Yann had been in a box for quite some time, and the feeling was really not one of comfort. He wondered about the reasons for a moment but it seemed his mind was more on his new acquisitions, the bee hive and the sunflowers, they were quite busy and buzzy of course, but it was giving him a sense of warmth and of comfort he’s been lacking for so long.

                                  He’s seen his sister the other day and she’d told him that she’d been on a revolution lately, she’d been throwing books away, something hardly possible to think of before, as books represented knowledge and were mostly revered in her family. That had made him think of his own rampages when he was young and the high respect and almost awe that he’d had about them before. But well it suddenly ended one day when he’d bought a book about biogeology… reading that book was one of the most wonderful experiences he’d had, very empowering actually. The content of the book was quite inept in itself, if you’d ask him, and he was so upset and angry that he’d bought that book that it gave him the guts to tear it apart and express those feeling of rage he’d been holding. He’d felt forced to adore books and show some respect for too long. Well that was old memories and now Yann was more in tune with what he wanted to read or not and also was more accepting of the myriad of opinions and ways of expressing them too.

                                  He was looking for more creativity in his life and the hive was reminding him of that, a constant activity and buzzing, no question, but action… and that strong feeling of warmth and honey.

                                  Quintin has planted some lavender too and a bush which name was like the word choice in French… very symbolic maybe, and also connected to his past. The very fact that he could allow his friend to plant that bush in their garden was a good reflection that he’s been more accepting of all the connections and that they existed and didn’t need to bear a strong influence on his actions now.



                                  In reply to: Snowflakes of Tens


                                    The leaves were dry. They’d started to change to a brownish hue at the tip, then rapidly withered. They’d hoped it wouldn’t affect the whole crop, and when the first tea bush went down, they quickly uprooted it, for fear it would spread to the whole hill.
                                    But despite their best efforts, the tea bushes went down, one by one, as though engulfed by a deadly plague. He and she were worried for their next year income, as their tea field was their main source of revenue. The highlands had always been favourable to them, and it seemed such an unlikely and truly unfair event given that the beginning of the year had brought an unexpected bounty of huge tea leaves.
                                    What had happened? He was quite the pragmatic about it: disease, pests, too much sun, over-watering, over-pruning… nothing extending outside the visible, the measurable. She was the mystical: core beliefs, did she worry too much about that sudden wealth and made it disappear, the evil eye, greed and covetousness, celestial punishment.

                                    It never occurred to her she could reverse it as easily once she understood what it was all about.
                                    Well, she almost started to get an inkling of that thinking about warts. How efficiently she got those growths when she was so troubled about them, and how they all disappeared when she forgot about them. How not to think about something that’s already in your head? In that case, distraction never worked; it was a rubber band that would be stretched then snapped back at the initial core issue.
                                    Snap back at yourself.
                                    >STOP< – She stopped. Time to read that telegram delivered to oneself.
                                    Everything still, for a moment. Dashed.
                                    She started to look around.
                                    The air was still, hot and full of expectation.
                                    Almost twinkling in potentials.
                                    Like a providential blank page, in the middle of a heap of administrative papers full of uninteresting chatty figures.
                                    The pages are put aside, only the blank page is here.
                                    She can start to populate it with colours, sounds and life, anytime. Lavender maybe. Soon.
                                    But not yet now.
                                    She wants to breathe in the calmness, the comfort of the silence. Even the crickets seem to be far away.
                                    She was alone, and impoverished…
                                    She is alone, and empowered, … in power.




                                      Al woke up deranged. He was in the middle of the bushes, unable to move and scantily clad.

                                      Good thing too that the joggers in the park noticed!

                                      Embarrassing, he reckoned.

                                      Moments later, after some voice messages on his telephone from Becky, he was still incapacitated.


                                      Just as Becky was retorting to Al to please become completely transparent, Becky giggled, suddenly seeing the Wet Tarty Nun.

                                      “My God, what the fuck is that?”


                                        That was it. She had enough for the time being. Ever since the management had agreed to hire him for the new show, the Freakus was not as Fabulously Great as it once was.

                                        Not that he was a bad guy, but he was all so closeted, he was imprinting it to the circus, and she wanted to breathe some different kind of air. Of course, never been a freak himself, Morgan the Mentalist wouldn’t ever come close as to understand what having been closeted your all life would mean. Being the Lobster girl of the show, she knew quite a bit about that.
                                        It had took her awhile to know that there wasn’t anything wrong with her expression, so no one would told her how to express. Not the Mentalist of all others.

                                        Damo, the guy who was setting up the tents had seen her leave the Freakus without a word, her little piece of luggage on her “normal” hand, while her claw-like one was tucked in a glove under her bosom. Sweet-hearted as he was, he had tried to convince her to stay, that surely there was some misunderstanding.
                                        “Lyla, don’t be stoopid, ain’t got nothin’ fur you out there” he’d said to her.

                                        She didn’t know how to tell him that all was good. She didn’t want to tell too much either, for Fama, his teen daughter wasn’t really loving the life at the circus either, and would easily have taken the bait to get out of there too. So she had moved saying that she would come back, “when it’s safe for kids” she’d added mysteriously.

                                        Strange at it seemed, it was like taking a breathe of air, and yet, she couldn’t help but think over and over at how she could have changed anything in what had happened. Perhaps it was just a pretext for her to do her next step.
                                        When Morgan first came to the show, he wasn’t in a good shape, and had begged Pat Elson to hire him. As he was kind of smart guy, he didn’t stay long in Damo’s team of workers. Pat saw his potential as a sort of empathic guy, and devised the Mentalist act with him.

                                        He was good at cold-reading, mostly guessing at people problems; in the beginning, some of the freakus’ people would play a part with him, to amaze the audience, but it became less and less necessary, and he would do a nice job buy himself, with lots of “it wouldn’t happen to be that your mother gave the watch to you? No… not your mother… but someone close… I can feel blah blah” and then picking on the subtle hints the guy was giving off unwittingly.

                                        Lately, he had started to kind of feel stuff for real. And he started to freak out. After all this time, not many people remembered Morgan as he first came to the circus, and for most he was the Outstandingly Great Mentalist. Yeah, he had been pimping up a bit his name too… Those things happen in the milieu.
                                        But Lyla remembered. She was a girl at this time, but your work at the circus starts very early when you’re a freak.
                                        She had seen how he gained a little confidence in himself, as long as it stayed within closed tents and half-lit veils. He was truly a master of illusion games, and he didn’t want people to see him differently than the way he was presenting himself. He’d first tried his little games of séances with some close trusty friends, and Lyla had been quite encouraging; he deserved to blossom his potential; no one deserved to be maintained at a place where you can’t reach your highest.

                                        A few days before, Lyla had had the pleasure of seeing Jenny, who’d been snake charmer many years ago, and had quit to become a singer in a bar: “tired me to travel so much, ya see” she’d said to Lyla “Now my life ain’t so complicated”.
                                        Then Jenny had then asked about the guys she’d known in the freakus, first of all was Morgan the Mentalist. “How’s that old fart of Morgy?” she’d asked with a giggle “still scamming around?”

                                        Lyla had said innocently that he’d been practicing doing it more genuinely, even to some success with local peasants in a few séances. Jenny had greeted the news with a cheer. “Wonderful, hey!”

                                        The next day, Lyla had had the Mentalist erupt in the caravan she shared with Zarafina and Venus, since Twi had gone to sing too. He was looking furious and once they were out of earshot (how could there be any need of making secrets with the others, Lyla had wondered, they shared everything, even the tiny bar of soap) told her with his sweetest voice how he appreciated Jenny. Of course she wasn’t a Mentalist, but she knew when someone was beating around the bush; and she needn’t be Moses to know the bush was smelling of burning.

                                        “I greatly appreciate Jenny, but I’d love to choose when I disclose my information to her” that’s what he said. At first, she’d thought, well, why the theatrics? Cool for you guy, peace off now. Then she slowly understood that he wanted to tell her to shut her mouth. How could she know what part to shut and which to tell? She hadn’t done anything wrong did she? Why was he having the same tone than the frigging priests with their sermons telling that you’re sinful, and when you’ve got a crooked arm, it’s because you’re born evil and such guilt shit.”

                                        Well, she didn’t want to stay in a position where she had to figure out which of his sharing was a real sharing or was not. So she better bugger off, take some fresh air.

                                        She thought how she loved to hear the radio, and her lifelong dream was to work there, in a place where people would hear her before judging from her appearance… Maybe she would thank Morgy in the future for giving her the last excuse to do what she wanted.


                                          Were are we Anu? , the mother asked her young daughter trotting in front of her. My, it’s awfully dark in there… Are you sure we’ll find the others here?
                                          — Yes Mum. Anu answered in a soft voice.
                                          — Don’t be so anxious, Lily dear; trust our little girl; after all, she did so bravely well on her own after that plane crash.
                                          — You’re right Aaron, but this place is so… I don’t know, it gives me the creeps. It’s like… I couldn’t tell why, but it’s like we’re not remotely close to the Miami… or even the Sarcastic Sea where we’re supposed to be stranded…
                                          — It’s because we’re not, muttered Anita, more to herself than to her mother. But we’ll be soon enough, she added.
                                          — Sometimes I wonder how can Anu know so well were we are when we’re so lost, her mother mumbled…

                                          Balbina was following the little group as it was heading to the cave where one of the portal’s entrances was located. She could see the entrance clearly, glowing and sending ripples of energy coils, but that was only because she was travelling in her dream-body. While Anita, who was quite tuned into those things, wasn’t appearing to be lost, the parents seemed more than a little in the dark, and not only figuratively speaking…

                                          Balbina turned to the rabbit who was keeping her company.
                                          — And do you know were they’re going to?
                                          And do you like the things that life is showing you? giggled Yuki. Well, more seriously, it depends on what they’re choosing. And it could lead them to a place much more different than the one they expect to go to.

                                          A funny idea crossed the mind of Balbina, so much so that the elderly lady, who was looking rather youngish in her dreamlike appearance couldn’t help but express it.

                                          — Could they come to my place? They seem so charming people, and they seem to come from the same time as I do…
                                          — I thought you would never ask, Yuki smiled at her mischievously.
                                          — Oh, why?
                                          — Don’t you think it’s a funny coincidence that you are to meet them here and now?
                                          — Well… It’s just a dream, isn’t it?
                                          — And what if you could make that dream reality? Prove to yourself that it’s as real as anything else…
                                          — That sounds exciting indeed.

                                          “Here!” Anita was pointing a strange shaped bush of brambles.

                                          Rafaela was standing next to the bushes with Armelle on a tree nearby. “I’ve thought it would be more practical for them than the rock pool”
                                          “Good thinking dear” Yuki answered the goat.

                                          — And now? Balbina asked
                                          — I think it’s up to you and Anita, said Yuki.

                                          “And where are we going from there?” asked Lily to her daughter.
                                          “Not far from here, to a friend’s home, in Venezuela .” answered Anita with a wink which seemed lost to her parents, but not to the beaming Balbina.


                                            The day had been long. Actually, from an outside perspective he had been apparently sleeping almost all of it, so it was not appearing as if it could be a really exhausting day at all.
                                            But Al had been extending his body researches in the subjective. He’d started to play again with his various dream bodies he had known the existence of for quite a while now, though he hadn’t yet found the time to experiment with them fully enough. An idea he owed to Sam, who he had been pleased to hear about his unusual experiences in the Australian bush, or more accurately, in the Dreamtime.

                                            Playing with these various “bodies”, or qualities of attention and perception, he was aware that his thoughts on the recent events occurring in their story was still unfolding in the backstage of his attention. A rehearsal perhaps…
                                            Nevertheless, he was delaying the actual representation, for he felt he was not yet ready for it.
                                            He could feel lots of information waiting for him to download them and process them. But he wanted to do it with clarity.

                                            Last try had not been very convincing… He had dreamt of a midget Tina, in a flowing mauve and lemon chiffon dress. Of course, in the dream he had taken great care of not hurting her feelings, all the more since she seemed so fond of the dress. He couldn’t really tell her that the dress was giving her an enormous butt and that she was rolling her hips comically when she was walking… Impossible…
                                            While dream-Al was searching for words to truthfully convey his appreciation of whatever little thing that could be left to appreciate on that dress, dream-Sam had been quick to tell dream-Tina she looked like fairy Nuf. What had he said! She soon started to weep noisily. Fairy Nuf, as anyone knew, is a purple-clad plump grumpy fairy, with a pointy hat and she couldn’t possibly look that bad.
                                            Speak about clarity…

                                            Al tried again to concentrate. Taking deep breathes.

                                            He could feel more and more clearly the presence of the woman. Her aura was beckoning, and she seemed to want to share information with him —pieces of information he would be free to tell others or not, it didn’t matter.
                                            What mattered was that there was this deep desire for this information which was coming from him; and equally as deep as his, her own desire to share was palpable.

                                            Salome ” he whispered “ I am ready to see
                                            He soon started to fall into another lucid dream…

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