Well, it wasn’t what I expected. but once I got over being slightly miffed that it was all about Mater, stealing the limelight again, I realized that I would get my wish after all, if Corrie and Clove and the others were going to come back for a visit. When they arrived, they could tell me all about what had been happening. The twins and Pan were to set off soon, on a sea worthy raft they’d been working on. It would be a long trip and hard to judge how long it would take. The waters were uncharted in places, Corrie mentioned in the letter, given that the waters had risen in so many places, but it also meant there was a chance of safe passage by water in places that had previously been dry land. Narrow canals had become wide shallow lakes, so they’d heard. Pan would be able to dive to his hearts content along the way, and they were all excited about the coming adventure.
“We will continue to communicate telepathically during the trip, Auntie”, Corrie had written, which gave me a glow of pride and satisfaction. I hadn’t been making it up, we truly had been exchanging messages all along.
I wasn’t sure how easy it was going to be dealing with Mater in the meantime, though. She was demanding plastic surgery now.
“Plastic surgery?” I said, “You can’t even get a decent tupperware these days, lid or no lid. Where on earth are we supposed to get plastic surgery from?”
Almost a hundred years old, and still vain. I ask you. “Do you see me fussing over my looks?”
“Quite” she replied, and pursed her shriveled lips.
I don’t know how I restrained myself from throttling Finly when she finally handed me the letter from Corrie. A whole week she’d had it, and wouldn’t share it until she’d cleaned every last window. Some peoples priorities, I ask you! The funny thing was that even when I had it in my hand I didn’t open it right away. Even with Mater and Bert breathing down my neck.
It was something to savour, the feeling of having an unopened letter in ones hand. Not that this looked like the letters we used to get years ago, all crisp and slim on white paper, addressed in fine blue ink. This was a bundle tied with a bit of wool pulled out of an old jumper by the look of it, all squiggly, holding together several layers of yellowed thin cardboard and written on with a beetroot colour dye and a makeshift brush by the look of it. The kind of thing that used to be considered natural and artistic, long ago, when such things were the fashion. I suppose the fashion now, in such places where fashion still exists, is for retro plastic. They said plastic litter wouldn’t decompose for hundreds of years, how wrong they were! I’d give my right arm now for a cupboard full of tupperware with lids. Or even without lids. Plastic bottles and shopping bags ~ when I think back to how we used to hate them, and they’re like gold now. Better than gold, nobody has any interest in gold nowadays, but people would sell their soul for a plastic bucket.
I waited until the sun was going down, and sat on the porch with the golden rays of the lowering sun slanting across the yard. I clasped the bundle to my heart and squinted into the sun and sighed with joyful anticipation.
“For the love of god, will you get on with it!” said Bert, rudely interrupting the moment.
Gently I pulled the faded red woolen string, and stopped for a moment, imaging the old cardigan that it might have been.
I didn’t have to look at Mater to know what the expression on her face was, but I wasn’t going to be rushed. The string fell into my lap and I turned the first piece of card over.
There was a washed out picture of a rooster on it and a big fancy K.
“Cornflakes!” I started to weep. “Look, cornflakes!”
“You always hated cornflakes,” Mater said, missing the point as usual. “You never liked packet cereal.”
The look I gave her was withering, although she didn’t seem to wither, not one bit.
“I used to like rice krispies,” Bert said.
By the time we’d finished discussing cereal, the sun had gone down and it was too dark to read the letter.
I had a long conversation (in my head, where all the best conversations are these days) with Corrie while I sat on the porch. I think it’s easier to communicate with her because she’s trying to communicate with me too. The others don’t come through so clear, I get images but not much in the way of conversation. Anyway, she said Clove is with her on the raftboat, and that Clove has a little boy now, seven years old or so, named Pan. I don’t know if that’s short for a longer name or if that’s his name. Anyway, he’s a great little diver, she said, can hold his breath for longer than anyone, although lots of the kiddies are good divers now, so she tells me. They send them out scouting in the underwater ruins. Pan finds all sorts of useful things, especially in the air pockets. They call those kiddies the waterlarks, if I heard that right. Pan the Waterlark.
Corrie said they’re in England, or what used to be called England, before it became a state of the American United States. Scotland didn’t though, they rebuilt Hadrian’s wall to keep the Ameringlanders out (which is what they called them after America took over), and Wales rebuilt Offa’s Dyke to keep them out too. When America fell into chaos (not sure what happened there, she didn’t say) it was dire there for years, Corrie said. Food shortages and floods mainly, and hardly any hospitals still functioning. Corrie delivered Cloves baby herself she said, but I didn’t want all the details, just pleased to hear there were no complications. Clove was back on her feet in no time in the rice paddies.
A great many people left on boats, Corrie said. She didn’t know where they’d gone to. Most of the Midlands had been flooded for a good few years now. At first the water went up and down and people stayed and kept drying out their homes, but in the end people either left, or built floating homes. Corrie said it was great living on the water ~ it wasn’t all that deep and they could maneouver around in various ways. It was great sitting on the deck watching all the little waterlarks popping up, proudly showing their finds.
I was thoroughly enjoying this chat with Corrie, sitting in the morning sun with my eyes closed, when the sky darkened and the red behind my eyelids turned black. There was a hot air balloon contraption coming down, and looked like it was heading for the old Bundy place. Maybe Finly was back with supplies. Maybe it was a stranger with news. Maybe it was Devan.EricKeymaster
WHERE ARE THEY ALL NOW ? 🗻
a.k.a. the map thread, and because everything happens now anyway.
POP-IN THREAD (Maeve, Lucinda, Shawn-Paul, Jerk, [Granola])
🌀 [map link] – KELOWNA, B.C., CANADA
It looks like our group of friends live in Canada, Kelowna.
Kelowna is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. The name Kelowna derives from an Okanagan language term for “grizzly bear”. The city’s motto: “Fruitful in Unity”
FLYING FISH INN THREAD (Mater/Finly, Idle/Coriander/Clove, Devan, Prune, [Tiku])
Though very off the beaten track, the Flying Fish Inn may be located near a location that was a clue left as a prank by Corrie & Clove on the social media to lure conspiracy theorists to the Inn.
🌀 [map link] – SOME PLACE IN THE MIDDLE OF AUSTRALIA, OFF ARLTUNGA ROAD
- Tiku, the local bush lady is living around the place.
- The local shaman who rented the Jeep to Arona & her friends was nearby Uluru ‘s closest airport (Ayer’s Rock, Yulara). 🌀 [map link] : AYER’S ROCK, ULURU
DOLINE THREAD (Arona, Sanso/Lottie, Ugo, Albie)
This one is a tricky geographical conundrum, since the Doline is a multi-dimensional hub. It connects multiple realities and places though bodies of water, with the cave structure (the Doline) at its center, a world on its own right, where talking animals and unusual creatures are not uncommon.
At the center of the Doline is a mysterious dragon named Leörmn, purveyor of precious traveling pearls and impossible riddles. We thus may infer possible intersection points in our dimension, such as 🔑 ///mysterious.dragon.riddle a little North of Hawaii, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
However, the inside of the Doline would look rather like Phong Nha-Ke Bang gigantic cave in Vietnam.
NEWSREEL THREAD (Ms Bossy, Hilda/Connie, Sophie, Ricardo)
It is not very clear where our favourite investigative team is located. They are likely to be near an urban area with a well-connected international airport, given their propensity for impromptu traveling, such as in Iceland and Australia.
As for the Doctor, we strongly suspect his current hideout to be also revealed when searching from his signature beautification prescription that has made him famous in connoisseur circles: 🔑 ///beauty.treatment.shot at the frontier of Sweden and Finland.
LIZ THREAD (Finnley, Liz, Roberto, Godfrey)
We don’t really know where the story happens; for that, one would need to dive into Liz’s turbulent past, and that would confound the most sane individual, starting with keeping count of her past husbands.
As a self-made powerful best-selling writer, we could guess she would take herself to be the JK Rowling of the Unplotted Booker Prize, and thus would be a well-traveled British uptart, sorry upstart, with a fondness for mansions with character and gardeners with toned glutes. Of course, one would need the staff.
DRAGON 💚 WOOD THREAD (Glynnis, Eleri, Fox/Gorrash, Rukshan)
This story happens in another completely different dimension, but it can be interesting to explore some of its unusual geography.
The World revolved around a central axis, and different worlds stacked one upon the other, with the central axis like an elevator.
We know of
- the World of Humans, where most of the story takes place
- the world of Gods, above it, which has been sealed off, and where most Gods disappeared in the old ages
- Under these two, the world of Giants exists, still to be explored.
At the intersection of the central axis of the world and the human world, radiates the Heartwood, a mystical forest powered by the Gem of Creation which has been here since the Dawn of Times, and is a intricate maze, and a dimension in itself. It had grown around itself different woods and glades and forests, with various level of magical properties meant to repel intruders or lesser than Godlike beings.
The Fae dimension is a particular dimension which exists parallel to the Human World, accessible only to Elder Faes, and where the race originated, and is now mostly deserted, as Faes’ magic waning with the encroachment of humans into the Forest, most have chosen to live in the Forests and try and protect them.prUneParticipant
It’s been only a day since I arrived, and I’m already over it. Nothing seems to have changed. What a drag this place is.
Only Mater keeps surprising. She was a bit more emotional and hermitical than usual. Didn’t think those two cursors could move with her, but I guess she’s still has it in her.
Aunt Dido said she’ll croak one day, and we’ll find her having spent her last breath lying in a fresh dug hole in the ground. I don’t know if that was her idea of a bad joke or a veiled menace, there’s no telling when she’s been smoking.
Bert was all busy with things to repair and prepare, we barely had time to talk since I arrived. What a crowd-pleaser he’s become, don’t know what he gets out of this one-sided deal, with Dido having him wrapped around her fingers like this.
That funny Dido is all over the place, and nowhere to be found, as usual. She said we’ll be expecting guests. She probably was high as a kite. Would be a first since ages.
I wonder what would drag people here, it’s not like the place is on any maps, or on the way to a tourist spot. But who knows what instant instapound fame can do to lure people in the oddest spots… Been reading articles about those nincompoops going to severely polluted place to take selfies in front of azure acidic water pretending to be on Bora Bora. Wouldn’t be surprising if Clove or Corrie had started a trend on flabber just to prank us. Like using ///digger.unusually.playfully to send people in the middle of nowhere in search for gold…
There were some leftovers in the fridge. I was ravenous, and almost ate all of the funky shredded chicken. Smokey taste, but okay. Finly had an horrified look on her face when she came back with the supplies, probably the shock of seeing me all grown up now.
The house is empty. Perhaps it is more correct to say I, Mater, am the only one home, for the emptiness which envelops the house so strongly has its own presence.
The family have all left on their respective pursuits.
Dido is off following another guru. I forget who it is …someone she had read about on the damned internet thing they all spend so much time on — I’ve still not come to grips with it but suspect it is time I did. I had hoped Dido would stay home longer this time — there is so much work to be done around the place and I am not feeling any younger. “Just for a week!” she told me excitedly as she left but it has already been nearly two.
Prune, unique child that she is, always had such trouble making friends with others of her age however recently she made the acquaintance of a new girl at school who shares her predilection for unusual interests. Prune is staying at her new friend’s house for the weekend. I smile, feeling more than a little sympathy for the parents.
I have not seen or heard much from Devan for a long time. He is in Brisbane, last I heard anyway.
The twins, not my twins but the other twins; Sara and Stevie, decided they could not leave their mother. Not now. Not while she is in hospital and so poorly. The right decision I feel though I am also disappointed. At Clove’s insistence, Corrie has gone to visit with them. Clove and Corrie don’t know yet … Dodo and I talked about it and decided Fred should be the one to tell them.
Goodness only knows where Fred is now.
I decide I will try and get acquainted with the emptiness. Maybe even make friends. Thought this doesn’t feel likely at the moment.
“Hello,” I say quietly. I can hear the question in my voice. The doubt. Clearly this won’t do. “One has to believe,” I admonish myself sternly. I try again:
“Hello Emptiness. What is your name? I can’t call you Emptiness all the time. My name is Mater and this is my house”.
I say this firmly. Much better.
I notice that sunlight is attempting to enter through the kitchen blinds and I throw them open. It is a beautiful day. I see that Bert is already up and working in the garden. Planting something. I remember now, he told me he was going to start another vege garden, nearer the house than the other one.
I offered to help Stevie go through her mum’s things expecting her to refuse on the grounds of it being private, but she said, Yes, you do it and I’ll watch, it will be easier that way. Stevie wanted to do it all methodically and start with the drawers, and I said no, that’s silly starting in the least likely place.
So we did it my way, and haphazardly followed random impulses. I’m not sure whether it was successful or not, because Stevie didn’t find what she was looking for (not forgetting that she didn’t know exactly what she was looking for anyway) but we did find something interesting. If I wasn’t going home soon, I’d have sent a message to Corrie right away, but I decided to keep it to myself for a bit, I don’t know why.
The elephant in Sue and John’s bedroom caught my eye, one of those big ceramic Indian ones with a flat saddle to put a spider plant on. It weighed a ton, but we managed to turn it over without making too much of a mess of the spider plant, which we forgot to remove first, and sure enough it had a cavity inside and there were some papers wedged up there.
Stevie got excited and started making squeaky noises and telling me to be careful. I gave her a look, and pulled them out and handed them to her. They weren’t like documents or anything, they were torn up maps with some little bits cut out where the letters of the names of the places were.
“Just a load of old rubbish! It must have been in there when she bought it, I can’t see Mum shoving rubbish up there. How exasperating, I thought we were on to something!”
“Let me have a look at them, Stevie,” I said, slowly reaching out for them. I was starting to have a funny moment, trying to remember.
It took me a minute or two, but I did remember. Although I can’t imagine how it could be connected. But still, it was a bit odd. It reminded me of what we’d found at the Brundy place that day, me and Corrie.
“She started going a bit gooey looking last night when she was grilling me about the twins that Clove’s bringing with her when she comes home,” she replied.
“Is she going senile?” I asked.
“She’s no worse than usual, Auntie. She does seem overly interested in those twins, though. I wonder why?”
There is was again, nagging at my brain to remember. The image of Fred standing beside my bed popped into my mind. Suddenly the penny dropped. Surely it couldn’t be!
The room was dark, save for a sliver of light coming in through the curtains where I had not quite pulled them together. The rain started this evening bringing much needed coolness with it. I lay in bed and smiled thinking of the funny twists and turns life can take.
I had asked Corrie a few more questions but they were more a formality to reassure my brain that I was not going crazy. In my heart I knew. It is hard to find the right words to describe the state which came over me while Corrie was talking; it was as though the air around me had become lighter — so much so that I could almost see it shimmering — and a great … peace … I think the word is peace … had enveloped me.
I just knew it was them.
What a remarkable coincidence!
No, no, not coincidence. I know better than that. It’s magic!
Magic. I smiled again into the darkness. One needs to be reminded of magic at my age, where with every creaking, aching joint one can no longer be distracted so easily from the steady and inevitable propulsion towards death. A sort of reassurance in the presence of supernatural forces and perhaps a hint that there may be a purpose to my small little life. Dare I believe that I am worthy of magic?
Ah, perhaps I have not explained that well. Is it love? Is love the word I am looking for? When I felt the lightness, the magic, I felt expansive and loving. All the irritation of the morning was gone. And I felt loved in return by forces I could neither see nor explain. Not in my head, anyway.
Yes, and it was even nice to see Idle, though she was so full of rambling talk about Iceland and her trip that I had to excuse myself on the pretext that I had laundry to get in before the rain started. One can only take so much chatter.
I jumped as Corrie burst into room.
“Hey, Mater, guess what?” she called out with, in my opinion, unnecessary exuberance.
I had been looking out the window and ruminating on my vegetable garden — the tomatoes didn’t seem to be growing this year — and felt a little irritated by the invasion. Irritated by the children in general that morning, I guess. I had just asked Prune if she could help me with some chores and had been informed that she was unavailable as she was communing with future Prune on Mars. I suppose as excuses for chores go, it was at least inventive.
“What is it, Corrie?”
“Clove is coming home! And she is bringing some twins with her.”
Feeling suddenly tired, I sat down on the sofa.
“The twins at the place where she is staying. Sara and Stevie, or something like that. Woo hoo, can’t wait to see her!”
I didn’t know much about Clove’s living situation. She communicated frequently with her sister but correspondence with the rest of the family was sporadic.
Another thing which irritates me.
Sara and Stevie … my mind flittered through the years to rest on some other twins. Same names. Twins I had only met once — many years ago — but nevertheless thought about at times. Wondered how they were getting on in life. I wondered if Fred ever thought about them, or regretted his decision.
Of course there was no connection, but I felt compelled to ask.
“How old are Sara and Stevie?”
“Oh, I dunno … old I think. Maybe about 30?”
Clove: there’s something weird about this place
Corrie: too boring?
Clove: no, its not that. Something fishy going on, something strange happened to the other lodgers
Corrie: they all died of boredom? LOL
Clove: it’s not funny, I think something nasty happened to them
Corrie: pmsl I thought you said the family were all dead boring, you trying to liven things up a bit by imagining mysteries?
Clove: I think they’re hiding something and no I’m not imagining it
Corrie: go on then, tell me what’s been going on
Clove: well nothing, as usual, but John said something to me, he said “You watch yourself or you will end up the way of the other lodgers.”
Corrie: well that could mean anything
Clove: talk to you tomorrow, gotta go now. John turns the internet off at 11
Corrie: what on earth for?
Clove: says it’s unnatural
Corrie: no wonder the other lodgers left
Meanwhile, Clove was wondering if she had made the right decision to lodge with the most boring family on earth. True, there had been times when life had been somewhat boring back home, but nobody could accuse her family of being boring.
But the Smith family! why, even their names were boring. John and Sue had spawned a small tribe of boredom: Sara and Steve, the unidentical, uninteresting and unemployed twins, still bored at home at the age of 27; Jason, an ordinary ten year old who wasn’t even autistic or allergic to anything, and a particularly unprepossessing three year old called Jane.
I’m getting a bit worried about Aunt Idle, she’s been in Iceland ages and we haven’t heard from her, and nothing on her blog for ages, either. When I found this, I did a bit of research into the Bronklehampton case. That’s another story.
“Aunt Idle was going to visit her old friend Margit Brynjúlfursdóttir. It was all very hush hush: Margit had intimated that there was to be a family reunion, but it was to be a surprise party, and she mustn’t breathe a word of it to anyone. Margit had sent her the tickets to Keflavik, instructing her to inform her family and friends that she had won the trip in a story writing competition.
It was Idle’s first trip to Iceland. She had met Margit in a beach bar near Cairns some years ago, just after the scandalous expose on the goings on of a mad doctor on a remote south Pacific island. The Icelandic woman had been drowning her sorrows, and Idle had been a shoulder to cry on. The age old story of a wayward son, a brilliant mind, so full of potential, victim of a conniving nurse , and now sadly incarcerated on the wrong side of the law.
Aunt Idle didn’t immediately make a connection between the name Brynjúlfursdóttir and Bronklehampton, indeed it would have been impossible to do so using conventional means, Icelandic naming laws and traditions being what they were. But the intuitive Idle had made a connection notwithstanding. The maudlin woman in the beach bar was clearly the mad doctors mother.
Idle had invited Margit to come and stay at the Flying Fish Inn for a few weeks before returning to Iceland, a visit which turned out to last almost a year. Over the months, Margit confided in her new friend Idle. Nobody back home in Iceland knew that the doctor in the lurid headlines was her son, and Margit wanted to keep it that way, but it was a relief to be able to talk about it to someone. Idle wasn’t all that sure that Margit was fully in the picture regarding the depths to which the fruit of her loins had sunk, but she witnessed the womans outpourings with tact and compassion and they became good friends.
The fasten your seatbelts sign flashed and pinged. The landing at Keflavik was going to be on time.”
Margit looked at her friend quizzically. “What makes you think there’s a fancy dress party?”
“Why, all the beehive hair do’s! It’s the only explanation I could think of. If it’s not a 60’s party, then why…..?”
Idle noticed Margit eyeing her long grey dreadlocks distastefully. Self consciously she flung them over her shoulder, inopportunely landing the end of one of them in a plate of some foul substance the passing waiter was carrying.
Margit jumped at the chance. “Darling, how horrid! All that rams bottom sauce all over your hair! Do try the coconut shampoo I put in your bathroom.””
And that was the last I’d heard from Aunt Idle.
Corrie’s findings from elsewhere:
“Then she collapse, her body rigid like stone. Actually her skin began to take on a shade of grey, and several colonies of moss found their way into the wrinkles and meanders of the granite like hair.
Mater arrived at that moment.
“Oh! my! Dido, what did you do ?”
The old lady looked at the table, saw the empty jar, the lines of ants already pillaging the sweet spots on the table and on Idle’s fingers. Some of them had already turned into stone. Mater tried to forage into the jar to find the small package. It contained the mantra to release the hungry ghost from the stone trap of the termite honey.
The jar was meant for rats, Mater would feed them with termite honey to change them into stone and sell them on the market. A little hobby. She would never have thought Idle would eat that stuff. It smelled quite awful.”
“What are you doing here?” said Mater, aghast.
““Are you following me, cousin ?” added Liz with a snort. “I never understood why you chose to hide yourself in that stinky town with your dead fishes. Maybe you are looking for a way out. There is nothing for you where I come from. I’ll never give you the teleportation ab-original codes.”
“Oh you never understood anything about me, or did you ?” said Mater, “You were too preoccupied by your followers. Is Big G still with you ? And that suspicious maid of yours. Is she still moulding dust critters ?”
“Dust critters ? What are you talking about?”
“What codes ?” asked Mater, squinting her eyes.
“Nothing,” said Liz, realizing she might have talked too much. But she couldn’t help it, her body was unable to contain all the words in her mind, they had to get out. She tightened her lips, trying to resist the outburst.
“What was that ?” asked Mater looking around, “did you hear that noise ?”
“Nope”, said Liz, “maybe an earthquake, or a storm approaching.” It had to get out one way or another she thought.
“Don’t talk nonsense with me, I tell you I heard something.”
Devan interrupted them. Liz looked at the young man, her cougar senses on alert.
“I got the paper”, he said.
Paper, with words.
“May I ?” she asked, showing the paper.
“Don’t try to seduce my boy”, said Mater, “I know you.””
Corries further findings from elsewhere continued HERE
Corrie’s findings from elsewhere:
“Mike wasn’t as courageous as his former self, the Baron. That new name had a cowardly undertone which wasn’t as enticing to craze and bravery as “The Baron”.
The idea of the looming limbo which had swallowed the man whole, and having to care for a little girl who surely shouldn’t be out there on her own at such an early hour of the day spelt in unequivocal letters “T-R-O-U-B-B-L-E” — ah, and that he was barely literate wasn’t an improvement on the character either.
Mike didn’t want to think to much. He could remember a past, maybe even a future, and be bound by them. As well, he probably had a family, and the mere though of it would be enough to conjure up a boring wife named Tina, and six or seven… he had to stop now. Self introspection wasn’t good for him, he would get lost in it in quicker and surer ways than if he’d run into that Limbo.
“Let me tell you something… Prune?… Prune is it?”
“I stop you right there, mister, we don’t have time for the “shouldn’t be here on your own” talk, there is a man to catch, and maybe more where he hides.”
“Little girl, this is not my battle, I know a lost cause when I see one. You look exhausted, and I told my wife I would be back with her bloody croissants before she wakes up. You can’t imagine the dragon she becomes if she doesn’t get her croissants and coffee when she wakes up. My pick-up is over there, I can offer you a lift.”
Prune made a frown and a annoyed pout. At her age, she surely should know better than pout. The thought of the dragon-wife made her smile though, she sounded just like Mater when she was out of vegemite and toasts.
Prune started to have a sense of when characters appearing in her life were just plot devices conjured out of thin air. Mike had potential, but somehow had just folded back into a self-imposed routine, and had become just a part of the story background. She’d better let him go until just finds a real character. She could start by doing a stake-out next to the strange glowing building near the frontier.
“It’s OK mister, you go back to your wife, I’ll wait a little longer at the border. Something tells me this story just got started.”
“Aunt Idle was craving for sweets again. She tip toed in the kitchen, she didn’t want to hear another lecture from Mater. It only took time from her indulging in her attachments. Her new yogiguru Togurt had told the flockus group that they had to indulge more. And she was determined to do so.
The kitchen was empty. A draft of cold air brushed her neck, or was it her neck brushing against the tiny molecules of R. She cackled inwardly, which almost made her choke on her breath. That was surely a strange experience, choking on something without substance. A first for her, if you know what I mean.
The shelves were closed with simple locks. She snorted. Mater would need more than that to put a stop to Idle’s cravings. She had watched a video on Wootube recently about how to unlock a lock. She would need pins. She rummaged through her dreadlocks, she was sure she had forgotten one or two in there when she began to forge the dreads. Very practicle for smuggling things.
It took her longer than she had thought, only increasing her craving for sweets.
There was only one jar. Certainly honey. Idle took the jar and turned it to see the sticker. It was written Termite Honey, Becky’s Farm in Mater’s ornate writing. Idle opened the jar. Essence of sweetness reached her nose and made her drool. She plunged her fingers into the white thick substance.”
“But wait! What is this?
Her greedy fingers had located something unexpected; something dense and uncompromising was lurking in her precious nectar. Carefully, she explored the edges of the object with her finger tips and then tugged. The object obligingly emerged, a gooey gelatinous blob.
Dido sponged off the honey allowing it to plunk on to the table top. It did not occur to her to clean it up. Indeed, she felt a wave of defiant pleasure.
The ants will love that, although I guess Mater won’t be so thrilled. Fussy old bat.
She licked her fingers then transferred her attention back to the job at hand. After a moment of indecision whilst her slightly disordered mind flicked through various possibilities, she managed to identify the object as a small plastic package secured with tape. Excited, and her ravenous hunger cravings temporarily stilled in the thrill of the moment, she began to pick at the edges of the tape.
Cocooned Inside the plastic was a piece of paper folded multiple times. Released from its plicature, the wrinkled and dog-eared paper revealed the following type written words:
food self herself next face write water truth religious behind mince salt words soon yourself hope nature keep wrong wonder noticed.”
““What a load of rubbish!” Idle exclaimed, disappointed that it wasn’t a more poetic message. She screwed up the scrap of crumpled paper, rolled it in the honey on the table, and threw it at the ceiling. It stuck, in the same way that cooked spaghetti sticks to the ceiling when you throw it to see if it’s done. She refocused on the honey and her hunger for sweetness, and sank her fingers back into the jar.”
“The paper fell from the ceiling on to Dido’s head. She was too busy stuffing herself full of honey to notice. In fact it was days before anyone noticed.”
“The honeyed ball of words had dislodged numerous strands of dried spaghetti, which nestled amongst Aunt Idle’s dreadlocks rather attractively, with the paper ball looking like a little hair bun.”
““Oh my god …. gross!“ cackled the cautacious Cackler.”
““Right, that does it! I’m moving the whole family back to the right story!” said Aunt Idle, invigorated and emboldened with the sweet energy of the honey. “Bloody cackling nonsense!””
Corrie’s findings from elsewhere:
“On the empty road, Quentin realized there was something different in the air.
A crispness, something delicate and elusive, yet clear and precious.
A tiny dot of red light was peeking through the horizon line.
It was funny, how he had tried to elude his fate, slip through the night into the oblivion and the limbo of lost characters, trying so hard to not be a character of a new story he barely understood his role in.
But his efforts had been thwarted, he was already at least a secondary character. So he’d better be aware, pretend owl watching could become dangerously enticing.”
““There hath he lain for ages,” Mater read the strip of paper, “And will lie Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep..” Buggered if I know what that’s supposed to mean, she muttered, continuing to read the daily oracle clue: “Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die…..”
Mater had become increasingly irritated as the morning limped on, with no sign of Prune. Nobody had seen her since just before 3:00am when Idle got up for the loo and saw her skulking in the hallway. Didn’t occur to the silly fool to wonder at the time why the girl was fully dressed at that hour though.
The oracle sounded ominous. Mater wondered if it was anything to do with the limbo of lost characters. She quickly said 22 Hail Saint Floverly prayers, and settled down to wait. If Prune had accidentally wandered into the lost characters limbo, battening upon seaworms would be the least of their problems.”
“You should have thought about it before sending me for a spying mission, you daft tart” Prune was rehearsing in her head all the banter she would surely shower Aunt Idle with, thinking about how Mater would be railing if she noticed she was gone unattended for so long.
Mater could get a heart attack, bless her frail condition. Dido would surely get caned for this. Or canned, and pickled, of they could find enough vinegar (and big enough a jar).
In actuality, she wasn’t mad at Dido. She may even have voluntarily misconstrued her garbled words to use them as an excuse to slip out of the house under false pretense. Likely Dido wouldn’t be able to tell either way.
Seeing the weird Quentin character mumbling and struggling with his paranoia, she wouldn’t stay with him too long. Plus, he was straying dangerously into the dreamtime limbo, and even at her age, she was knowing full well how unwise it would be to continue with all the pointers urging to turn back or chose any other direction but the one he adamantly insisted to go towards, seeing the growing unease on the young girl’s face.
“Get lost or cackle all you might, as all lost is hoped.” were her words when she parted ways with the strange man. She would have sworn she was quoting one of Mater’s renown one-liners.
With some chance, she would be back unnoticed for breakfast.”
“Prune turned to look back at Quentin as she made her way home. He’d have been better off waiting for a new chapter in the refugee story, instead of blundering into that limbo with that daft smile on his face. What a silly monkey, she thought, scratching under her arms and making chimpanzee noises at the retreating figure. Look at him, scampering along gazing up into the treetops, instead of watching his step.
A deep barking laugh behind her made her freeze, with her arms akimbo like teapot handles. Slowly she turned around, wondering why she hadn’t noticed anyone else on the track a moment before.
“Who are you?” she asked bluntly. “I’m Prune, and he’s Quentin,” she pointed to the disappearing man, “And he’s on the run. There’s a reward for his capture, but I can’t catch him on my own.” Prune almost cackled and hid the smirk behind her forearm, pretending to wipe her nose on it. She wondered where the lies came from, sometimes. It wasn’t like she planned them ~ well, sometimes she did ~ but often they just came tumbling out. It wasn’t a complete lie, anyway: there was no reward, but he could be detained for deserting his new story, if anyone cared to report it.
The man previously known as the Baron introduced himself as Mike O’Drooly. “I’m a story refugee,” he admitted.
“Bloody hell, not another one,” replied Prune. Then she had an idea. “If you help me capture Quentin, you’ll get a much better character in the new story.”
“I’ve nothing left to lose, child. And no idea what my story will be or what role I will play.” Perhaps it’s already started, he wondered.
“Come on, then! If we don’t catch him quick we might all end up without a story.”
Corrie’s findings from elsewhere:
“You can’t leave without a permit, you know,” Prune said, startling Quentin who was sneaking out of his room.
“I’m just going for a walk,” he replied, irritated. “And what are you doing skulking around at this hour, anyway? Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
“What are you doing with an orange suitcase in the corridor at three o’clock in the morning?” the young brat retorted. “Where are you going?”
“Owl watching, that’s what I’m doing. And I don’t have a picnic basket, so I’m taking my suitcase.” Quentin had an idea. “Would you like to come?” The girls local knowledge might come in handy, up to a point, and then he could dispose of her somehow, and continue on his way.
Prune narrowed her eyes with suspicion. She didn’t believe the owl story, but curiosity compelled her to accept the invitation. She couldn’t sleep anyway, not with all the yowling mating cats on the roof. Aunt Idle had forbidden her to leave the premises on her own after dark, but she wasn’t on her own if she was with a story refugee, was she?”
Good riddance she thought, one less guest to worry about.
Not that she usually thought that way, but every time the guests leaved, there was a huge weight lifted from her back, and a strong desire of “never again”.
The cleaning wasn’t that much worry, it helped clear her thoughts (while Haki was doing it), but the endless worrying, that was the killer.
After a painful ascension of the broken steps, she put her walking stick on the wall, and started some breathing exercises. The vinegary smell of all the pickling that the twins had fun experimenting with was searing at her lungs. The breathing exercise helped, even if all the mumbo jumbo about transcendant presence was all rubbish.
It was time for her morning oracle. Many years ago, when she was still a young and innocent flower, she would cut bits and pieces of sentences at random from old discarded magazines. Books would have been sacrilegious at the time, but now she wouldn’t care for such things and Prune would often scream when she’d find some of her books missing key plot points. Many times, Mater would tell her the plots were full of holes anyway, so why bother; Prune’d better exercise her own imagination instead of complaining. Little bossy brat. She reminded her so much of her younger self.
So she opened her wooden box full of strips of paper. Since many years, Mater had acquired a taste for more expensive and tasty morsels of philosophy and not rubbish literature, so the box smelt a bit of old parchment. Nonetheless, she wasn’t adverse to a modicum of risqué bits from tattered magazines either. Like a blend of fine teas, she somehow had found a very nice mix, and oftentimes the oracle would reveal such fine things, that she’d taken to meditate on it at least once a day. Even if she wouldn’t call it meditate, that was for those good-for-nothing willy-nilly hippies.
There it was. She turned each bit one by one, to reveal the haiku-like message of the day.
“Bugger!” the words flew without thinking through her parched lips.
That silly Prune, she’d completely forgotten to check on her. She was glad the handwritten names she’d added in the box would pop up so appropriately.
She would pray to Saint Floverley of the Dunes, a local icon who was synchretized from old pagan rituals and still invoked for those incapable of dancing.
With her forking arthritis, she would need her grace much.”
Corrie’s findings from elsewhere:
“It was no coincidence that “Elikozoe”, his nom de plume (he was born Albert (Al) Yokoso, from a father of Japanese descent and a mother of Cajun descent) had been sent to the Pickled Pea Inn (formerly known as the Flying Fish Inn).”
I thought about leaving that one out, as it seemed so nonsensical, this place has never been called the pickled pea, but I’m leaving it in for now. Might make some kind of sense somewhere down the line.
“This morning was quiet, but his mind was not.
There were always the nagging thoughts that something ought to be done, the restless fear of forgetting something of importance.
But this morning was quiet.
A bit too quiet in fact.
No raucous cackling to stir the soft velvety dust from the wooden floorboard.
Quentin was wondering whether the story makers had lost all interest in moving his story forward. Yet, he was more than willing to move it notwithstanding, his efforts seemed of little consequence however. Some piece was missing, some ever-present grace of illumination shrouded in scripting procrastination.
His discussion with Aunt Idle had been brief. She’d told him with great intensity that she had a weird dream. That she looked into a mirror and saw herself. Or something like that,… she was not a very coherent woman, the ging wasn’t helping.
Maybe his task was done. Time to leave the Pickled Pea Inn.
His friend Eicnarf seemed eager to see him. Or maybe that had been a typo and she really meant to sew him, or saw him,… she could be gory like that…
No matter, a trip out of the brine cloud of this sand coated place would do him good.”
And good riddance, you cheeky bugger, I can’t help thinking.
““Did anybody see our last guest?” Mater couldn’t help but regularly count her herds (so to speak), and although she wasn’t as authoritative with her guests as she was with her family members, she couldn’t help but notice that her last count was one person short —enough to start worrying her.
“Hmm lwwft thws hhmmmng” said Idle, her mouth full with cookies.
Mater shrugged. It was still better than when she used to talk with sauerkraut.”
I had better ask Clove to remind me how to do italics I suppose. This could get confusing.
Corrie’s findings from elsewhere:
“After a few days, Quentin had had enough already of the food. Pickles, pickles, and more pickles. Pickled cabbage, green or red, gherkins and all sorts and sizes of pickled cucumbers, pickled onions and eggs… There was only variety in the type of thing that weird hostel family was able to think of pickling. Even his beard started to smell of pickles. It was slowing driving him nuts.
That, and the strange random cackling at all hours of day and night, which he’d hoped to leave behind after being a refugee from that dreaded town. It had started again. And it seemed to come from the huge framed pea above the mantelpiece. He smirked at the thought that the only reason that pea was framed was that they didn’t find any fitting jar to pickle it.
He was still waiting for an appointment with Aunt Idle, who apparently had forgotten him altogether. That was no small wonder, as he passed in front of her door with the half-unscrewed sign on her door that said “management”, he could smell she was into another kind of pickling altogether. With moonshine rather than with apple cider vinegar.”
Corrie’s findings from elsewhere:
“The old woman looked him up and down before pushing past him, curtly telling him to knock because they were all asleep. Quentin quaked inwardly. He’d arrived at his new location, a dilapidated old hotel, although not without a certain other worldly charm, at an ungodly hour of the morning. Hovering on the porch, he was unsure whether to risk waking his new hosts. He didn’t want to make a bad first impression. He felt even more dejected and confused when he realized he had no idea what kind of first impression he wanted to make.
His first encounter saddened him, and he hoped they all weren’t as unwelcoming as she had been. He wasn’t accustomed to feeling like such a stranger, or so nervous and shy. What made it even worse was that Quentin was quite well aware that his lack of confidence would be bound to make everything worse.
“You’re not another one of those story refugees are you? Did I frighten you?” the girl asked, as Quentin jumped at her sudden appearance from behind the spider plant.
“My name’s Prune, are you Quentin Quincy? Aunt Idle’s expecting you, but she’s not up yet. Are you going to be in the new room ten story?”
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