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  • #6199
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The philodendron leaf was so large that on it’s trajectory towards Finnley it caught a bottle a Bhum on the edge of the desk, causing it to topple onto the floor.

    “Now look what you’ve done, you clumsy thing!” exclaimed Liz.  “That was a gift from Godfrey!”

    “Don’t worry, he’ll never know,” replied Finnley, picking up the pieces.  “And don’t shout at me, after my, you know…”

    Liz softened and said gently, “Well speaking of brushes, dear, you’d be better cleaning that up with a dustpan and brush, or you might cut yourself.”

    #6107

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    FloveFlove
    Participant

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

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

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

    Tara sighed. “Wait up,” she shouted.

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

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

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

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

    “Is it … singing?”

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

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

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

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

    “Yes, what’s it to you?”

    “It was rather… lovely.”

    The woman smirked. “I was rehearsing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #6098
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Liz usually rolled her eyes when anyone said “Do the math!” partly because the correct word was maths, not math, but mainly because, well,  she just wasn’t a maths sort of person.  But when the whale said this, she felt fortified and vindicated:

    “On the 46,741 words which were written here, you have provided 19,821.
    In other words, you have contributed towards 42.4 % of all words spoken on this thread.”

    It remained to be seen what the results of her experimental shift in duties with Finnley would result in.  While surreptitiously dusting Finnley’s desk, Liz had noted the catalogues of holiday cottages prominently placed, and evidence of actual writing nowhere to be found.

    Time would tell.

    #5964
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    They walked through a labyrinth of tunnels which seemed to have been carved into a rocky mountain. The clicks and clacks of their high heels echoed in the cold silence meeting all of Sophie’s questions, leaving her wondering where they could be. Tightly held by her rompers she felt her fat mass wobbling like jelly around her skeleton. It didn’t help clear her mind which was still confused by the environment and the apparent memory loss concerning how she arrived there.

    Sophie couldn’t tell how many turns they took before Barbara put her six fingers hand on a flat rock at shoulders height. The rock around the hand turned green and glowed for two seconds; then a big chunk of rock slid to the side revealing a well designed modern style room.

    “Doctor, Sophie is here,” said Barbara when they entered.

    A little man was working at his desk. At least Sophie assumed it was his desk and that he was working. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and bermudas. The computer screen he was looking at projected a greenish tint onto his face, and it made him look just like the green man icon. Sophie cackled, a little at first.

    The Doctor’s hand tensed on the mouse and his eyebrows gathered like angry caterpillars ready to fight. He must have made a wrong move because a cascade of sound ending in a flop indicated he just died a death, most certainly on one of those facegoat addictive games.

    That certainly didn’t help muffle Sophie’s cackle until she felt Barbara’s six fingers seizing her shoulders as if for a Vulcan nerve pinch. Sophie expected to lose consciousness, but the hand was mostly warm, except for that extra finger which was cold and buzzing. The contact of the hand upon the latex gave off little squeaky sounds that made Sophie feel uncomfortable. She swallowed her anxiety and wished for the woman to remove her hand. But as she had  noticed more than once, wishes could take time and twists before they could be fulfilled.

    “Why do you have to ruin everything every time?” asked the Doctor. His face was now red and distorted.

    “Every time?” said Sophie confused.

    “Yes! You took your sleeper agent role too seriously. We couldn’t get any valuable intel and the whole doll operation was a fiasco. We almost lost the magpies. And now, your taste for uncharted drugs, which as a parenthesis I confess I admire your dedication to explore unknown territories for science… Anyway, you were all day locked up into your boudoir trying to contact me while I just needed you to look at computer screens and attend to meetings.”

    Sophie was too shocked to believe it. How could the man be so misinformed. She never liked computers and meetings, except maybe while looking online for conspiracy theories and aliens and going to comiccons. But…

    “Now you’re so addict to the drugs that you’re useless until you follow our rehab program.”

    “A rehab program?” asked Sophie, her voice shaking. “But…” That certainly was the spookiest thing she had heard since she had arrived to this place, and this made her speechless, but certainly not optionless. Without thinking she tried a move she had seen in movies. She turned and threw her mass into Barbara. The two women fell on the cold floor. Sophie heard a crack before she felt the pain in her right arm. She thought she ought to have persevered in her combat training course after the first week. But life is never perfect.

    “Suffice!” said the Doctor from above. “You’ll like it with the other guests, you’ll see. All you have to do is follow the protocol we’ll give you each day and read the documentation that Barbara will give you.”

    Sophie tried a witty answer but the pain was too much and it ended in a desperate moan.

    #5834
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Shaking, Liz wiped the egg yolk out of the corner of her eye. The beer that was gluing her hair into sticky clumps would have to wait. She flicked a half sausage off the corner of her desk with a tremulous sigh and sat down. Her noble features creased into a momentary visage of despair when she saw the bacon, but her natural stoicism corrected her expression as she picked the rasher up between her thumb and finger, removed if from her keyboard and blithely flicked it over her shoulder.

    Roberto, standing silently behind her, ducked nimbly as the greasy slab flew past.  It stuck to the French window briefly and then slithered down, leaving a snail trail of lard.

    Liz cleared her throat and looked sternly at each of them in turn.

    “What,” she said, her voice cracking, “What next? Whatever next?”

    “A whale, maybe?” asked Godfrey with a lop sided smirk.

    #5747
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Where the devil is Finnley, have you seen the state of my desk?”

    #5644

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “You are so bloody childish, Tara” said Star. She slammed her cup of coffee on the desk so that it slopped over the sides.  “Damn,” she said, wiping it up with her sleeve.

    “It was my idea and you’ve just taken over. The way you always do.”

    “Your idea? What are you? Three years old?”

    With dignity, Tara rose. She closed her laptop, straightened it on the desk so it ran parallel to the sides, and, using a cloth made for that very purpose, dusted it. “I’m going out for some fresh air. ”

    “Well you won’t find it round here. It’s worse than China they said on the news today. Oh, OKAY, Tara. DON’T GO. The business was your idea and I promise I won’t treat you like a secretary. Happy?”

    Tara smiled sweetly. “That’s all I need to hear.” She rubbed her hands together. “Right, time to find Uncle Basil. Last night I had a dream…”

    “Ooooh, do tell, Was Mr Sexy voice in it?”

    “No, but Uncle Basil was. And he said, cold snap and falling reptiles.”

    Star furrowed her brow. “Okay, well … we shouldn’t discount anything at this stage.”

    “It’s bound to be a clue. Speaking of secretaries … I have a niece, Rosamund. She a bit rough around the edges but I’m sure she could answer phones and make our coffee.”

    “Great idea, Tara! As usual. Get her to come in and do a trial.”

    #5624
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Finnley

    It’s a funny thing what tiredness can do to a girl. I could have sworn it was daytime when I knocked on Mr August’s door. Turned out it was nearly midnight and Mr August wasn’t best pleased to see me. Judging by the giggling I could hear and the way he was trying to barricade the door, he already had company. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was a bit of a ladies’ man with his smooth chest and satin bath-robe. (Although, if you ask me, the embroidered dragon down the front is overkill). Mr August snapped at me that I had the job and he’d get the paperwork sorted tomorrow. The mix-up worked out in my favour; he was that keen to get shot of me and back to business.

    Not knowing what else to do, I made myself a possie under a large desk in the hall and tried to get comfy. Anyway, that’s when the fun really started. The maid, the rude one who took the baby, came tiptoeing out of her room wringing her hands and muttering that she had a doubt. Not long after that, two middle-aged ladies barged in, both off their faces I would say. “I’ll give that maid Alabama if anything has happened to our Barron!” shouted the short one, and they lurched their way into the baby’s room.

    Good grief.

    Finally, the maid tiptoed back to her room and the ladies went back to whatever hole they’d crawled from and I hoped that me and the baby would be able to get some sleep at last. Who was I kidding? I nearly managed to drop off when the doorbell rang again. The maid answered it—I’m starting to understand why she is so ill-tempered; she never gets any sleep. This time it’s some crazy looking lady who said she had come to help me! But I’ve never seen her before in my life!

    Weirdo, right?
    ,
    I’m pretty flabbergasted by the lack of security and all the comings and goings. Things are going to be a bit different from now on, I can tell you that right now.

    #4782
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Who wrote this into the story?” Liz peered over her spectacles at Godfrey, who was twitching nervously. “I thought we agreed on no more thread crashing?”

    “I didn’t have any choice, Liz,” he replied, red faced. “Finnley said she’d leave the script altogether and find another story, if we didn’t send her to another thread for a holiday.”

    “She threatened to do what!” gasped Liz, incredulous. “Really! You just can’t get the…”

    “Please!” Godfrey held his hand up. “Please, don’t say it again!”

    “If I say it again, you can always edit it out,” replied Liz tartly. “Where did you send her?”

    “She said she wanted to go and see her cousin Finly, in Australia.”

    Liz sighed. It wasn’t such a bad idea, but who would do the cleaning while Finnley was away? Then she had an idea.

    Godfrey, send me those French maids. I can’t remember their names, was it Mirabelle? Franola? No, that’s not right…”

    “But they’re in another thread Liz, it was you who said…”

    “No arguments!” Liz slammed the red pen down on the desk. “One needs cleaners!”

    And French pastries, thought Godfrey, warming to the idea.

    #4736
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “UN-BE-LIE-VA-BLE!” Miss Bossy was flustered. “The cheek of those two!”

    She was ranting, rather elegantly, with lipstick and all, as she’d found a little agitation to go a long way in expelling the sluggishness. Her meditation teacher, Lim Monk had told her “Abundance of quantity isn’t going to tempt you into a frenzy of delete, so long as you keep trying”; so she felt compelled to meditate the funk out of this no man’s plot.

    “They’ve been there for THREE DAYS, three bloody full days, with wifi and access, and they are only sending news now!”

    Ricardo was looking mutely at the scene, not daring to move a muscle.

    “Can you believe it, and to say I almost got worried about them!”
    “…”
    AND Look at the cryptic sheet they send me: QUOTE “Ahoy! Inn food awful, sick icon grin.” UNQUOTE. Now, what should I make of that?”

    She walked energetically to Sophie and planted her arms in front of her desk, waking up from her nap.

    Sophie blinked twice, and said:
    “I know you’re like me, fond about old-fashioned technology, but you should really consider throwing your pager to the waste bin; if you’d been on faecebrook, you’d see Hilda and Connie’s blog is pretty active. Look! They can’t stop posting stuff there, even when they were in the plane…”

    #4709
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The vibration of the phone on the table made Barbara jump and she almost deleted her report. Her heart was racing at the thought of erasing what took her an hour to write. She reminded herself to breath like she had learned during her hot yoga class the previous week. It quieted her heart a little and she checked her hair out of habit and winced when she felt the short haircut. She checked her phone.

    “Wonderful!” she said readjusting her glasses. A new acquisition, big and cat eye like, the brim covered with colourful strass. She couldn’t resist.
    She got up from her desk and adjusted her skirt with her six fingers hand. She went to the Doctor’s office and knocked three times on the door. A sleepy voice, a tad angry, asked from the other side: “What?”

    “It’s Barbara. Our undercover agent sent me a confirmation that the Dreamcatcher operation is a success. Subject zero has been activated unaware that you are manipulating her dreams.”

    #4691
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The day had started uneventful, the perfect kind of day for Shawn Paul to write his novel. He had been quite productive concerning the numbers of characters written in total, but after a few erasing and correcting only one paragraph of a few lines remained. But he was very satisfied with what he had written.

    Perfection will kill me, he thought. Looking at the piles of documents on his table, he felt tired. He looked at the unremarkable clock on his wall. It was eleven in the morning. Time for a tea. He got up from his desk carefully. He missed a step and inadvertently hit the wrong key combination on his keyboard. It closed his writing app without saving his work. Shawn Paul started panicking when the bell rang. Déjà vu.

    This time it was the mailman.
    “You’re a lucky winner. I need a sign.”
    Shawn Paul signed and was handed a big envelop written “LUCKY WINNER!” all over it. There was barely enough room for his address. The young writer, almost author, feared to open it. It was reeking of distraction potential and it could put his novel in danger when it needed loving care… and a lot of discipline.
    “Look,” said the mailman. “I have another one for your neighbour.” the man knocked at Maeve’s door and gave her the envelop in exchange for a signature. The young woman had no qualm about it and tore open the envelop. It was hard to read her expression when she got a plane ticket out and read the short accompanying note. She almost looked asian poker face at that moment. Her eyes went to the envelop in Shawn Paul’s hands, and he understood the question she hadn’t formulated.
    He felt forced to open his own envelop and it was as agonising as tearing apart the last chance to write his unborn novel.

    “What’s inside?” asked the mailman who was a curious fellow.

    “A plane to Australia, and a voucher to the Flying Fish Inn.”

    “Oh! I know that place, it was all over the news a few months back,” said the man. “I don’t need to envy you then,” he dropped before leaving Shawn Paul and Maeve in the corridor.
    Her cat showed up and meowed. It was clear to the young man there was an interrogation point in its voice.

    #4687
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Ric was confused as to why he found himself flushed and vaguely excited by Bossy Mam’s sudden and attractive outburst.
    He was so glad the two harpies were off to goat knows where, or they would have tortured him with no end of gossiping.

    Still troubled by the stirring of emotions, he looked around, and almost spilled the cup of over-infused lapsang souchong tea he had prepared. Miss Bossy was the only one to fancy the strong flavour in a way only a former chain smoker could.

    Thankfully, she was still glaring at the window, and while he had no doubt he couldn’t hope to give her the slip for that sort of things, she probably had decided to just let it go.

    He took the chance to run to the archives, and started to dig up all he could on the Doctor.
    Sadly, the documents were few and sparse. Hilda and Connie were not known for their order in keeping records. Their notes looked more like herbariums from a botanist plagued with ADHD. But that probably meant there were lots of overlooked clues.

    He flipped through the dusty pages for a good hour, eyes wet with allergies, and he was about to bring Miss Bossy the sorry pile he had collected when a light bulb lit in his mind.

    How could I miss it!

    He’d never thought about it, but now, a lot of it started to make sense.

    Thinking about how Miss Bossy would probably be pleased by the news, he started to become red again, and hyperventilate.

    Calm down amigo, think about your abuela, and her awful tapas,… thaaat’s it. Crème d’anchovies with pickled strawberries… Jellyfish soufflés with poached snail eggs on rocket salad.

    His mind was rapidly quite sober again.

    Taking the pile of notes, he landed it messily on the desk, almost startling Miss Bossy.

    “Sorry for the interruption, M’am, but I may have found something…”
    “Fine, there’s no need for theatrics, spill it!” Miss Bossy was ever the no-nonsense straight-to-business personality. Some would have called her rude, but they were ignorants, and possibly all dead now.

    “There was a clue, hidden in the trail of Hilda’s collection. I’m not sure how we have missed it.”

    “Ricardooo…” Miss Bossy’s voice was showing a soupçon of annoyance.

    “Yes, pardon me, I’m digressing. Look! Right here!”

    “What? How is it possible? Is that who I think it is?”

    “I think so.”

    They turned around to look across the hall at Sweet Sophie blissfully snoring.

    “I think she was one of her first patient-slash-assistant.”

    “How quaint. But, that explains a lot. Wait a minute. I thought none of his patients were ever found… alive?”

    “Maybe she outsmarted him…”

    They both weren’t too convinced about that. But they knew now old Sweet Sophie was probably unwittingly holding the key to the elusive Doctor.

    #4685
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “I used to win prizes you know,” Miss Bossy Pants sighed and rubbed her hand through her hair, leaving it in further disarray.

    “I’m sure you did,” said Ric with a small smile which could have been interpreted as a smirk. Miss Bossy Pants decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    “For journalism. One year, I received the top journalism prize for my investigative piece about the sausage industry. Cutting edge they called it. And now,” she frowned and looked out the window. “We must get someone to clean those. And now, I am a mere figurehead.”

    Ric opened his mouth but Miss Bossy Pants held her hand up.

    “A mere figurehead. Mocked and deriled. My staff, who I pay, follow whatever goddam leads they want and pay no attention to my explicit orders. You think I don’t know that?”

    She glared at Ric.

    “Quiet!” she said, slapping her hand on the desk and standing up so violently that her cup of tea trembled and sloshed over the sides. She glowered down at Ric, also trembling.

    “This ends now! Get me everything we have on the Doctor. I want names of victims and any poor sod who is still alive you are going to interview! I am going to crack this goddam doll case wide open. He’s the one who is going to be goddam very very sorry.”

    #4653
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Come on now,” said Ricardo. “Nobody has put anything out there about the dolls. Come and sit down on this nice comfy office chair and tell us what is going on. You will do yourself an injury running in those heels. Lovely shoes of course,” he added quickly.

    Miss Bossy Pants glared at him suspiciously but allowed herself to be coaxed to the nearest office chair while Hilda and Connie raised their eyebrows and Sweet Sophie snorted.

    “That’s right,” he said. “Just let me wipe that chair for you before you sit. Now, you tell us what’s going on while I make the tea. One sugar?”

    Hilda and Connie made gagging noises.

    Slimy creep, hissed Connie.

    “No hurry then,” said Hilda. “We’ve only been waiting half an hour for tea already.”

    Miss Bossy Pants wiped her forehead with a tea towel, too relieved to question what a tea towel was doing on the desk. She pulled her phone out and scrolled through her messages.

    “I received this,” she said. “Read it out will you, Ric. I can’t stand to look at it again.”

    “Put a lid on the doll story or you will be sorry. And I mean very sorry Very very sorry,” read Ric. “Hmmm rather unimaginative as threats go, don’t you think?”

    “Scroll through to the next one.”

    “By the way, it’s the DOCTOR sending this, in case you think for one moment this is an unimaginative idle threat.”

    #4649
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Maeve had left only taking with her the wrapping of the package and had been glad to leave Shawn Paul with its content, especially when she had seen what it was.

    The mysterious thing was heavy, brown and looked a tad like a dry turd. It could hold in Shawn Paul’s hand and it seemed shaped to fit in his closed fist, but the young man hesitated to keep it too long because of the way it looked.
    A note from his mother accompanied it. Who else could have sent a parcel this way? he thought, meaning not through the post office and delivered by a decrepit old man.
    So the thing had been put on top of a pile of his latest scribblings, which was on top of his not so latest scribblings. Before putting it there, he almost saw the interest of a clean desktop or table, but it got lost in the immediacy of the moment and the tiredness caused by his recent fever.

    “I’m sure you’re wondering what this marvellous object is.” the note started. Shawn Paul looked at the thing. It looked like a turd more than ever on all that white paper, so he made his yuck face. What he was wondering was rather why did she send me anything? She lives in an apartment on the upper floor. She could have brought it herself.

    “I found it in a car boot sale,” she continued, her sharp and melodious voice chirping in her son’s head while he read the rest. “I met that old man, Patrick, who will deliver it to you. He’s a dear nice fellow never frugal with his words, and he told me it had been given to him by an Inuit shaman. It’s a fossil bone of the inner ear of a whale when they escaped Lemuria. Can you imagine that? Apparently it will help you develop your psychic abilities. You know how I’ve always known you had such a great potential in that area…”

    Shawn Paul snorted and put down the paper. There was no use keeping up reading. His mother and her crazy ideas. He looked at the pile of papers.
    It’ll do for a nice paperweight, he thought.

    But Granola had not lost a crumble of what the mother had told in the rest of the note. She was lurking at the inner bone and she wondered if she could make herself heard if she merged with it.

    #4626
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Shawn Paul had decided that this particular day was dedicated to his writing. He had warned his friends not to call him and put his phone on silent mode. It was 9am and he had a long day of writing ahead of him.
    He almost felt the electricity in his fingers as he touched the keyboard of his laptop. He imagined himself as a pianist of words preparing himself before a concert in front of the crowd of his future readers.
    Shawn Paul pushed away the voice of his mother telling him with an irritating voice that he had the attention span of a shrimp in a whirlpool during a storm, which the boy had never truely understood, but today he was willing not to even let his inner voices distract him. He breathed deeply three times as he had learned last week-end during a workshop, and imagined his mother’s voice as a slimy slug that he could put away in a box with a seal into a chest with chains and lots of locks, that he buried in the deepest trench of the Pacific ocean. He was a writer and had a vivid imagination after all, why not use it to his benefit.
    A smile of satisfaction wavered on the corner of his mouth while a drop of sweat slowly made its way to the corner of his left eye. He blinked and the doorbell rang.
    Shawn Paul’s fragile smile transformed into a fixed grin ready to break down. Someone was laughing, and when the bell rang a second time, Shawn Paul realised it was his own contained hysterical laugh.

    He breathed in deeply at his desk and got up too quickly, bumping his knee in one corner.
    Ouch! he cried silently.
    It would not take long he reminded himself, limping to the door.
    What could it be ? The postman ?

    Shawn Paul opened the door. An old man he had never seen, was standing there with a packet in his hands. If he was not the postman, at least you had the packet right said a voice in Shawn Paul’s head.
    The old man opened his mouth, certainly to speak, but instead started to cough as if he was about to snuff it. It lasted some time and Shawn Paul repulsed by the loose cough retreated a bit into his flat. It was his old fear of contagion creeping out again. He berated himself he should not feel that way and he should show compassion, but at least if the old man could stop, it would be easier.

    “For you!” said the old man when his cough finally stopped. He put the packet in Shawn Paul’s hands and left without another word.

    #4579
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Bea absentmindedly glanced over at her trash can as she sipped her coffee. Not much in there to rummage through, just a couple of paper handkerchiefs and several thousand of the minute flying ants that accumulated daily on her desk. No clues in there for nosy staff to sneak a look at, she thought to herself. Wastepaper baskets, what a waste of space.

    #4578
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “What’s the matter with you?” asked Finnley, noticing Liz looking uncharacteristically quiet and pensive. Was that a tear in her eye glistening as the morning sun slanted in the French window?

    “I’ve just had a letter from one of my characters,” replied Liz. “Here, look.”

    Finnley put her duster on Liz’s desk and sat in the armchair to read it.

    Dear Liz, it said.

    Henry appeared on the same day my young niece arrived from Sweden with her grandma. My mother had already arrived, and we’d just returned from picking them up from the airport. A black puppy was waiting outside my gate.

    “We can’t leave him out here,” I said, my hands full of bags. “Grab him, Mom.”

    She picked him up and carried him inside and put him down on the driveway. We went up to the house and introduced all the other dogs to the newcomers, and then we heard howling and barking. I’d forgotten to introduce the other dogs to the new puppy, so quickly went down and pulled the terrified black puppy out from under the car and picked him up. I kept him in my arms for a while and attended to the guests.

    From then on he followed me everywhere. In later years when he was arthritic, he’d sigh as if to say, where is she going now, and stagger to his feet. Later still, he was very slow at following me, and I’d often bump into and nearly fall over him on the return. Or he’d lie down in the doorway so when I tripped over him, he’d know I was going somewhere. When we went for walks, before he got too old to walk much, he never needed a lead, because he was always right by my side.

    When he was young he’d have savage fights with a plastic plant pot, growling at it and tossing it around. We had a game of “where’s Henry” every morning when I made the bed, and he hid under the bedclothes.

    He was a greedy fat boy most of his life and adored food. He was never the biggest dog, but had an authority over any plates of leftovers on the floor by sheer greedy determination. Even when he was old and had trouble getting up, he was like a rocket if any food was dropped on the floor. Even when he had hardly any teeth left he’d shovel it up somehow, growling at the others to keep them away. The only dog he’d share with was Bill, who is a bit of a growly steam roller with food as well, despite being small.

    I always wondered which dog it was that was pissing inside the house, and for years I never knew. What I would have given to know which one was doing it! I finally found out it was Henry when it was too late to do anything about it ~ by then he had bladder problems.

    I started leaving him outside on the patio when we went out. One morning towards the end, in the dark, we didn’t notice him slip out of the patio gate as we were leaving. In the light from the street light outside, we saw him marching off down the road! Where was he going?! It was as if he’d packed his bags and said, That’s it, I’m off!

    Eventually he died at home, sixteen years old, after staggering around on his last legs for quite some time. Stoic and stalwart were words used to describe him. He was a character.

    A couple of hours before he died, I noticed something on the floor beside his head. It was a gold earring I’d never seen before, with a honeycomb design. Just after he died, Ben went and sat right next to him. We buried him under the oak tree at the bottom of the garden, and gave him a big Buddha head stone. Charlie goes down there every day now. Maybe he wonders if he will be next. He pisses on the Buddha head. Maybe he’s paying his respects, but maybe he’s just doing what dogs do.

    #4577
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Everyone was back, safe and sound from that ghastly trip in space and time.
    Rukshan hadn’t felt the exhaustion until now. It all came down upon him rather suddenly, leaving behind its trail a deafening silence.

    For the longest time he’s been carried by a sense of duty, to protect the others that’d been guiding his every steps, acting through him without doubt or concern. But in the new quiet place they were for that instant, there was no direction.

    Riddles still abounded, and he knew too well their appeal. Knowledge and riddles seemed to go hand in hand in a devilish dance. Lila or Masti of the divine… Or just fool’s errand, enticed by the prospect of some revelation or illumination from beyond.

    There had been no revelation. The blue beams that had attracted them seemed to have come with more questions than answers. Maybe they were only baits for the naive travellers…
    Even the small crystals he’d collected from the trip, glowing faintly, apparently alive with some energy felt as though they weren’t his own riddle to solve. He left the pouch on the desk with a word for Fox, along with the other small gifts he’d left for the others: some powdered colors, a rare vial of whale’s di-henna, a small all-seeing glass orb, and a magical shawl.

    It was time for him to pack. He didn’t like it much, but his only calling at the moment was that of coming home. Back to the land of the Faes. The Blood Moon Eclipse was upon them, and there would be a gathering of the Sages in the forest to honor the alliances of Old. Surely their little bending of time and space wouldn’t have gone unnoticed at such auspicious moment. Better to anticipate their questions than being marked as an heretic.

    And he wasn’t all too sure the Shadow has been vanquished. Its thirst for the power of the Shards was strong, beyond space and time. If it were to reappear again, the Faes skills would be necessary to help protect the other Shards holders.

    “I’ll see you again my friends” he said, as he entered the center of the nine-tiled square he’s drawn onto the ground, and vanished with it.

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