The entrances to Faerie (and indeed to other alternate realities and dimensions) had been shrouded in disbelief for several centuries, but times were changing and the fog of scepticism was dissipating, evaporating like river mist on a hot summer morning. Looking for the entrances deliberately, Blithe found, wasn’t the most efficacious method. Sat Nav alone would be unlikely to reveal them, unless the locating device was used in conjunction with impulse and intuition. Any device and method could be used effectively when combined with random impulse, even Google Earth or Google Moon. Blithe’s friend and colleage Dealea Flare was making good use of this device on her travels, using it as a personal non physical airline and space shuttle service. Dealea could get from A to B and back again in no time at all, or even from A to well beyond Z and back again in no time at all using this device in conjunction with impulse and large dose of intention and focus. Blithe had the impulse down pat but still had difficulty with the focus, which was largely a case of having too many intentions at once, most of them somewhat vague.
The more random and impulsive Blithe was, the better her investigations went, often leading her into a new and exciting exploration which may or may not be linked to the current intention. Such was the case when she went on a mundane shopping trip to the Rock of Gibber. As she sat sipping coffee at the Counterpart Cabana sidewalk cafe listening to the locals conversing in Gibberish, she noticed the extraordinary tangle of pipework on the building opposite. It reminded her of the steampunk world she had been investigating in her spare time. The text book steampunk world was intriguing to say the least, but rather grim, and tediously full of victims and fear. The inhabitants always seemed to be running away from someone. The steampunk world she was beginning to sense in Gibber was quite different in that it was a sunny cheerful alternate reality held together with a vast labyrinthine network of water pipes, scaffold, and connecting cables.
Blithe paid for her coffee and strolled off, noticing more and more scaffolding and tangles of pipes as she climbed the warren of narrow winding streets. The air was different the higher she climbed up the winding uneven steps, the sunlight was sharper and the shadows denser, and there was a crackling kind of hush as if the air was shimmering. Cables festooned the crumbling shuttered buildings like cobwebs, and centuries of layers of crackled sun faded pastel paint coated the closed doors. Open doors revealed dark passageways and alleys with bright rectangles of light glowing in the distance, and golden dry weeds sprouted from vents and windowsills casting dancing shadows on the uneven walls.
The usual signs of life were strangely absent and present at the same time; an occasional voice was heard from inside one of the houses, and there were pots of flowers growing here and there, indicating that a human hand had watered them with water from the pipe network. There was no music to be heard though, or any indication that the cable network was in use, and there were virtually no people on the streets. A lady in a brilliant blue dress who was climbing the steps from Gibber Town below paused to chat, agreeing with Blithe who remarked on the peaceful beauty of the place. The lady in blue said “Si, it’s very nice, but there are many steps, so many steps. If you are coming from below there are SO many steps!”
There was a boy watching a white dog watching an empty space on the pavement, so Blithe stopped to watch the boy watching the dog watching nothing. Eventually Blithe inquired “What is he looking at?” and the boy shrugged and continued to watch the dog watching nothing. Blithe watched for a little while, and then wandered off. A small child was giggling from inside a doorway, and a mothers voice asked what he was laughing at. The child was looking out of the door at nothing as far as Blithe could see.
As the sun climbed higher, Blithe began to descend into Gibber town, winding and weaving through the alleys, wondering how she had failed to notice this place half way up the Rock until now. She came to a crumbling wall with a doorway in it that looked out over the bay beyond the town below. This must be one of the entrances, she deduced, to this alternate world in Gibber. “Entrance”! Blithe had a revelation. “I never noticed that the word ENtrance and enTRANCE are spelled the same.” Later, back at the office, Frolic Caper-Belle said she thought it was probably a very significant clue. “I’ll file that in the Clue Box, Blithe”, she said.
Dear OW’s and Favourite Daughter,
I had a dream last night. It went like this . . . . I was in the garden when I noticed an alien space ship coming down from a great height above me. It was humming, humm, hummm, humming. Like that. There was a smell of old cabbages and kitty litter.
It landed a few feet away from me. It was like a saucer and coloured olive green. A door opened on the underside and a ladder lowered. The ladder was made of wood, which surprised me. The aliens started down the ladder. They had no arms or legs. Just heads. They came down the ladder using their lips.
There were eight of them. The leader (at least I took it to be their leader as he had the biggest head) approached me. He said “Where can we get some hats ?”
Next thing I remember I was in the back of a pickup truck eating a prawn cocktail. Next to me sitting on some old sacks was the head alien slurping down uncooked carrots direct from the tin.
He said to me “We would like you to make a tv commercial for us”.
Then I woke up.
I’m afraid to report this encounter with the third kind to the authorities in case they just laugh at me.
I need your advice on this one. What should I do ?
“Well, bugger all that good sense my lads! Eighties, here we come!” Pee Stoll exclaimed (quite bravely we shall say, although a bit foolhardily) after the bird’s singing had opened the Old Portal in front of them.
“Maybe we’ll soon learn how to cure Peasland of our blubbits misery!” sighed Auntie Looh —short for Dolores (de la Cabeza).
“Well, good thinking you’ve got me to remember anything of the cure, if it exists at all!” snickered Auntie Toot —short for Patou (Mac Assar, née Patou Tsweet).
Seeing his aunts started for another longwinded and pointless argument, Pickel took his S’illy sister by the hand, and jumped headfirst (in a manner of speaking) into the transparent liquid film which had appeared at the birds’ summoning.
Pee seeing that he could not place it any politer, kicked the ladies’ way through the Buttal… err Pothole, aaah Portal! then followed with the bird which closed the gate again, leaving Bentworth Sadnick all panting at the unusual and exhausting amount of activity the day had brought to him.
Dolores de la Cabeza came from St Andrex of Sauce, in the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands were so named because of the preference of the population for the colour yellow. Needless to say, this did have rather a curious effect on their perception when exposed to other colours, which was inevitable when travelling abroad.
“Now, steady on, folks! There’s no need to be rushing headlong into this, I think a little tete a tete is in order here before we all lose our heads completely.” Aunt Dolores de la Cabeza had arrived unexpectedly, and not a moment too soon. “Possibly a tad too late” she muttered, glancing around at the headless New Peaslanders and Saucerers. “This is a fine pickle, I must say.”
“is that a fact, young lady? And since when do girls have blubbits in their knickers, hmmm?” replied Dolores tartly.
Pickel flushed with pride.
When Harvey Tater left Idaho, he left his childhood sweetheart Goldie Cabillaud behind. Goldie was distraught, having been led to beleive that a lasting union for the pair would result from the many years they had been freinds. There were aspects of Harvey that stayed in Idaho, or probable selves, and some of those probable selves did indeed wed the young Cabillaud girl; however, so as not to confuse the reader, we will henceforth concern ourselves with the Goldie Cabillaud that wept as her beau, Harvey Tater, boarded the FlyBoat at Gibbonsville , for parts unknown.
“Any idea what this is all about?” Beattie asked, to nobody in particular. A crowd was gathering at the crossroad.
The crossroad reminded Bea of a movie she’d watched some years previously, called, coincidentally enough, Crossroads. A symbolic sort of place, although real enough, a junction seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There was a large oak tree looming above the intersection, but nothing else could be seen in any direction but endless expanses of fields. There was a wooden signpost, the old fashioned kind, with two slats of wood pinned crosswise in the middle to a leaning post, but the place names had long since weathered away.
It was an odd sort of place and not much traffic passed by. In fact, the only traffic to pass by the crossroad stopped and disengorged itself of passengers..
“Well alright, but I don’t suppose it will have much effect on the making sense aspect, either way. Do continue.”
To say it was a motley crew gathering would be an understatement.
“You got that right,” Leonora said, sotto voce, surupticiously scanning the assortment of individuals alighting from the rather nautical looking yellow cab. Bea glared at Leo. “I suppose I’ll have to include your interrupions as a part of the story now.”
“Good thinking, Batman!”
“Oh for Pete’s sake, Leo, don’t go mad with endless pointless remarks then, ok? Or I will delete you altogether, and that will be the end of it.”
“You can’t delete me. I exist as a character, therefore I am.”
“You might have a nasty accident though and slide off the page,” Bea replied warningly.
“Oh I thought it was sunny” said Leonora, taking her sunglasses back off again. “You hadn’t mentioned weather.” She put her sunglasses back on again anyway, the better to secretly examine the others assembled at the crossroads.
“Why don’t you go and introduce yourself to them and see if anyone knows why we’re here, Leo, while I get on with the story.”
“Who will write what they say, though?”
“I’ll add it later, just bugger off and see if anyone knows who sent us that mysterious invitation.”
Dear god, thought Beattie, I wish I’d never started this.
Meanwhile, back in the Elsespace Arrangement, another probable Becky was pushing coloured pins in a map of the known physical world in an attempt to plan her next possible probable journey. The first pin had landed squarely on New York, but the pin had inexplicably promptly fallen off the map, landing in the dark green foliage of the potted Aspidistra. Probable Becky had a box of 100 little coloured pins, so she chose another pin, closed her eyes, turned round three times, and stuck another pin on the map.
Largely concealed by his trenchcoat and his large pinhole glasses, peering through the other pinholes he’d made in his copy of that outdated rag of the Old Reality Times newspaper in front of him, Godfrey was spying on Franlise who he could see trotting on the cobblestone pavement at a fast pace —and rather elegantly for a cleanlady, he should add.
She was wearing a pair of posh fishnet stockings which would on occasion raise a few whistles from the bystanders. All of which was making his staying incognito rather impracticable.
Maybe she had detected something, but suddenly as well as inexplicably, she altered her course to dive into a dark alley on the side of a tall building. From there, she seemed to have vanished. She was certainly inside that building… all of this was getting suspicious and suspiciouser.
Godfrey decided to wait patiently for an hour or so. After all, the autumn breeze of Hoowkes Bay was doing good to his flooh. He ordered a coughee latte at the terrace of a nearby café, throwing occasionally a few side glances in case the mysterious inner-lovely cleanlady would suddenly reappear. He was quite enjoying being here, taking a break from Ann’s often incoherent streams of thoughts his flooh was giving him a hard time to piece together. He’d been better at that than he was now, he was the first to admit.
Now, he wondered, why was he continuously attracting such extravagant authors such as Elizabeth and Ann. Perhaps he loved the thrill posed to him by the labyrinthine tendrils of imagination these two had the curious ability to spread afar and entangle beyond hope… Or perhaps it was simply a curse.
A that point, the screech of a magpie pierced the mid-afternoon sunlight bathed and calm balmy air, interrupting his thoughts. An omen?
Maybe also, and more simply, he was taking a liking to the mysterious cleanlady and was envying her apparent natural ability at streamlining those nuggets of thoughts into seemingly coherent patterns. If such a thing as a Fellowship of Unification and Continuity in Knowledge existed, it couldn’t really be a terrorist organisation… it seemed more like a flovesend relief group to him.
But frankly, he didn’t even know what he was talking about.
Ann wasn’t altogether sure what Godfrey meant when he referred to her new interest in continuity. Ann had always been interested in connecting links, yes, of that there was no doubt, but with so very many connecting links, and so many possible strings of connecting links, with so many possible divergences into yet more strings of connecting links, Ann really couldn’t fathom how anyone could possibly keep track of all those threads of continuity. Even a seemingly discontinuous assortment of unconnected links, once connected into a nonsense thread, became another continuity string. Furthermore, Ann continued ~ in a continuous fashion ~ to ponder, if everything is connected, then what, in actuality, was all the fuss about continuity? What exactly then WAS this concept of continuity? It seemed to Ann to be more like a string of barbed wire, or one of those flimsy but effective electric wire fences, boxing in the free flow of continuity, so that the objectively perceived continuity stayed rigidly within the confines of the preconceived tale. The inner landscape knew no such boundaries, although admittedly the inner landscape was far too vast to map.
Ann smiled to herself as she imagined trying to push pins into various inner landscape locations, tying strings from one to another, in an effort to map and label the inner continuity connections. Of course she was imagining it in a visual manner, because it was hard to imagine all those connections and strings being invisible and not taking up any space, and before long Ann’s inner map of pins and strings quickly resembled a tangle of overcooked spaghetti, perilously speckled with sharp pointy pins.
The image of the glutinous tangle dotted with sharp shiny pointers led Ann off on another tangent, but it was a tangent that soon became utter nonsense. Or was it, she mused. Perhaps it was those symbolically sharp pointy bits that in fact pointed out the immense variety of potential other continuity threads to choose from. Indeed, it could easily be said that having one of her characters dumped in Siberia in the previous story, painful though it was, was not unlike being pricked by a pin amidst the tangle of sticky pasta, a brilliantly effective pointer towards unlimited new directions.
Whichever way she looked at it (and Ann was aware that she might have gone down a side string) she simply couldn’t comprehend how anyone on this side of the veil could possibly even begin to understand the ramifications of the concept of continuity at all. Or how there could ever conceivably be a lack of it.
What was really intriguing Ann at this particular juncture of the experimental exploration of the story was the concept of the World View Library. This wasn’t unconnected to the continuity issue, far from it, it was all tied in (Ann sniggered at the unintentional pun) and connected. There were any infinite amount of potential continuity threads leading from, say, one persons desire or intent, to a particular world view in the library.
AHA shouted Ann, who at that moment had an ‘aha’ moment. Pfft, it’s gone, she sighed moments later.
Ann tried to catch the wisp of an idea that had flitted through her awareness. She had a visual impression of the library, endlessly vast and marvellously grand, with countless blindfolded characters dashing through, grabbing random pages or sentences, bumping into each other, snatching at phrases willy nilly, dropping notes along the way, and racing back out again into the ether. A stray thought here, a picture there, a name or a date, all on separate bits of crumbled paper clutched in the sweaty palms of the blindfolded characters as they rushed headlong back to their own realities to proudly share the new clues. Like magpies they were, snatching at anything that glittered brightly enough.
“I thought you said they were blindfolded?” interrupted Franlise.
Ann ignored the interruption, and continued ~ in a continuous fashion ~ to ponder the imagery of the library.
What the undisciplined purloiners of random snatches didn’t notice on their pell-mell excursions into the library were the characters in the library who weren’t wearing blindfolds. They smiled down from the galleries, calmly watching from above the mayhem that the news of the unlimited library access had occasioned, chortling at the scenes of chaos below. They smiled indulgently, for they too had first visited the library blindfolded, snatching at this and that, and racing home again to inspect the booty; they too had fretted and pondered over the enigmas of the incomplete snippets. Eventually (or not, it was after all a choice), they had bravely removed the blindfolds, slowed the mad race into a sedate stroll through the library, opened their eyes and looked around, sure of the way back home now, and not in a desperate hurry to blast in, snatch anything, and run back home.
After awhile, they began to realize that all the enchanting glittering jewels scattered around to catch their eye would still be there later, there was no urgency to grab them all at once ~ although, as Ann reminded herself, that too was a choice ~ some may well choose to be eternally snatching at glittering jewels.
Ann frowned slightly and wondered if she’d lost the thread altogether, and then decided that it didn’t matter if she had.
It was a choice, therefore, to remove ones blindfold, and stroll through the library ~ a choice to perhaps choose a book, sit down at a polished oak table and open it, a choice to stay and read the book, rather than ripping out a page and dashing back home. That would be one choice of continuity, a coming together of strings.
Ann wondered whether that would then be called a cable, or a rope ~ well perhaps not a rope, she decided, that had other associations entirely ~ but a cable, yes, that had associations of reliable and regular communications. There were always strings of continuity, then, strings of connecting links, between anything and everything, but when one stopped dashing about clutching at the sparkley bits, one might form a cable.
Or not, of course. Thin strings of continuity and connections were not ‘less than’ thick cables of reliable and regular communications. It has to be said though, Ann reluctantly admitted, that thick cables often made more sense.
She decided to hit send before embarking on a pondering of the meaning of Sense.
These past few months away from home had been the occasion for a great deal of introspection.
For one, indulging fully into that somewhat frowned upon habit of his, regarding peanuts, had allowed him to gain a great deal of understanding and acceptance as well. Now his daily ration had dramatically decreased and he didn’t fancy as much as he used to the little round things.
Another thing that Godfrey had noticed was the reorganisation that had taken place in all aspects of his life, and to be perfectly honest, his life was still a bit messy in places, but he was slowly getting there. How could a publisher publish anything of common interest without a bit of presentation, henceforth order?
Ann wasn’t too keen on the “O” word —especially when doubled— and surprisingly it always managed to give good results so far. So perhaps now he was settling down, and she was getting her own flamboyant creative juices all ablaze, they would manage to get somewhere. Or anywhere, for that matter.
A Tramway to Elsewhere was Ann’s debut novel, and had made her known to Godfrey. It was a brilliant short story about three tourists lost in a huge hotel in Europe, and trying to get an easy escape to Anywhere. And by some uncanny and hilarious succession of events, they were led nowhere but to Elsewhere.
Now, something else was giving him a strange feeling. He didn’t know if that was because of the lack of peanut oil in his bloodstream (or the accompanying whiskeys for what was worth), but he was starting to get slightly paranoid.
He didn’t know where he’d got the idea, but he started to suspect the cleaning lady to not just be a cleaning lady. She was doing her best to keep a low profile, but somehow she wasn’t that good an actress. A thing that started his suspicion was that name… Franlise, eerily reminiscent of the obnoxious yet efficient Finnley in Noo York. Elizabeth had told him they’d suspected her for a long time to have inserted some paragraphs in Elizabeth’s novels, especially the most torrid parts that would have made a pimp blush like a nun. What had saved the cleaning lady was that in addition to being rather forgiving, Elizabeth suffered from frequent strokes of forgetfulness and bipolarity which made the investigation difficult if not moot altogether.
But there, Godfrey was rather surprised at Ann’s sudden interest in continuity. He’d known of a covert organization known in the milieu as the Fellowship of Unification and Continuity in Knowledge.
Over the years, the hearsay had amounted to just a few deranged people, but recently there had been an increase in mentions of such nature in reports of the Guild of Authors. Strangely, there was less and less books that were published which had not an impeccable sense of continuity.
In a way, it had been perceived at first in literary circles as a blessing for the authors who had not to contend with fans and geeks of all kind who were hunting down each and every detail to prove or disprove unsaid theories. But Godfrey was starting to see some not so perfect points in that. It would be like wanting to string together all the eyelets of your shoes even if they do not belong to the same shoe (or the same pair of shoes). Soon, you’d be embarrassed to find a way to walk without looking like a penguin.
Anyway, though all allegations made as to the existence of such secret organization had been mostly derailed as utter nonsense, he couldn’t help but find some inexplicable appeal to them as sound explanations for all the glitches he kept noticing.
He would carefooly spy on Franlise.
“You know what?” Harvey was once again breaking the silence in an awkward manner after being lost in thoughts for what had seemed like eons to Lavender (or was it Lilac?), who was kind enough and certainly wise enough not to interrupt the whatever-was-happening process inside his skull.
“All those piglets, I read an article recently they could be used efficiently as shepherd dogs.”
“Now what? You want us to have sheep now?” Lavender was appalled but displaying still an impeccable composure, thinking it might be another outbreak of being taken over by aliens.
“Nah. Just telling you there would certainly be loonies out there wanting to take pigs as dogs. Perhaps we should leave a few on the doorstep of that mad lady, you know… She looks a bit devastated, and sure a little 200 pounds pig would help her stay grounded”
“Sure they grew big fast those little buggers.”
If “ODD” is a pie and two halves,
then a OO is two pies…
The mag-pie stole the H
from the owl… what a hoot!
Yurick was wondering if this incursion into the meanders of the stories during business hours may take its toll on his remarkable efficiency…
Strangely enough, the random quote, never shy of a wink was indicating that an egg was hatching. He was starting to wonder, after seeing that scientists were planning to grow broccoli and cabbages on the moon, that it was indeed not made of cheese, and that there probably was no more easy escape from the Ooh dimension than there was from the intricacies of their impetuous imagination.
I was about to tell you the same Shar!… i need my beauty kip. Yer niece and nephew… Holly Molly…
Niece and nephew… what you on about? The nephewer the merrier if you ask me
As if we not got enough with them prescription drugs from the bathroom cabinet stopping us from sleeping!
Want to see them comin’ near our beds those!
Oh no, not our beds! Glor recoiled in horror.
Stupid drugs… Better for ‘em not come close when I’m ‘ere, or we’ll have to learn how to sleep standing!
Wouldn’t like to see your hump sleeping standing!
Not hump,… haunch, silly! Wouldn’t be so good anyway covered with blankets… Shar lost her trail of thought in remembrance of her past bedroom encounters.
A sudden crack in the nearby potting shed raised the ample bottom of the one named Glor in alarm.
Yoland was disgruntled. Despite not worrying about money, and regardless of generally feeling abundantly lucky, several large bills had inexplicably all come at once. And then, as if to underline her feeling of losing control, her car skidded badly while she was slowing down for a speed control bump, causing her to career over it at full speed. Rather shaken, Yoland frowned, wondering where she was going wrong. Suddenly she felt a million miles away from ease. Change your energy, she said to herself, but she couldn’t remember how to. She managed to make it home relatively unscathed, and then one of her big dogs accidentally trampled on the new puppy. His squeals of pain as he held up his leg made her even more determined to change her friggen energy, and change it fast. Sheesh, she said. Pfft.
Artemesium Absinthium was a very sought-after trance inducing beverage.
Its secret recipe was traced back from as early as the little known Carpathian Sisterhood, and allegedly written on the prophetic toilet paper scrolls of Dildegarde von Bicken.
It was thought to contain a few identifiable ingredients; mainly: leek and watermelon juice, goatweed and cabbage, and possibly either mushroomic pee or toad warts.
(From The Early Lore of the Carpathian Sisterhood, by Henry Gin)
“Jeeze, with this temperature, they probably will have to get the gondoskaters earlier” Tina managed to say, blowing some air in the hands of her costume. “Well, I’m not sure, though there was some distinct feeling that she was around” she said, going back to the question.
“I don’t know why, but I had that distinct feeling that she was a time-travelling goose” Sam said when their eyes asked about his impressions.
“Well, sounds daft like her, if she tried to pop into that fat lady under the white goose costume with the big watch pocket at the hall” Tina said with a chuckle.
“Don’t laugh at those pop-ins,” Sam said ruefully, “They can really be something!”
“So a goose, eh… why not after all…”
Mademoiselle Mongoose was the Director of Public Relations at the Z.O.O. (short for Zoological Organization of Outcasts) which was no easy task. Her job entailed ensuring that the members remained Outcasts whilst endeavouring to foster an attitude of Acceptance from the general public. The dilemma was that oftentimes, once an Outcast was Accepted, he no longer qualified as an Outcast and according to the rules, was no longer eligible to remain at the Z.O.O.
Mlle Mongoose couldn’t find the new Outcast anywhere. The enormous Anaconda, affectionately nicknamed Nana Croissant, was Absent Presumed Escaped Soft, which was one of Mlle Mongoose’s biggest headaches at the Z.O.O. There seemed to be a disproportionate number of A.P.E.S. at the Z.O.O.
Mlle Mongoose sighed. If Nana Croissant couldn’t be located, Mlle Mongoose would have to report the disappearance to her superior, Sir Raphael Cabra-Chevre. Thankfully the Z.O.O. also had a disproportionately high population of R.A.B.B.I.T.S. (Rare Intermediate ‘Best Bait In Town’ Stars), to cover for the erratic and unpredictable behaviour of the A.P.E.S., ensuring that there was plenty going on for the General Public at all times. (It may be noted by the S.W.A.N.S. ~ Sumafi Workers Affiliated Normal Society ~ that R.I.B.B.I.T.S. would be more technically accurate, however they were generally accepted as R.A.B.B.I.T.S. to Those In The Show ~ otherwise known as T.I.T.S.)
Mlle Mongoose decided to enlist the help of the C.A.M.E.L.S. (Central Agency for Missing, Escaped & Lost Softs) before alerting Sir Raphael Cabra-Chevre.
The Case of The Disappearing Aardvark was another matter, though. Mlle Mongoose decided to call in the M.E.E.R.C.A.T.S. (Missing Entities & Essences Roll Call and Time Share)
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