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    Rukshan went into the forest and looked carefully for a particular creature. It was almost nightfall and there should be some of them already out on the branches. The air was cooler in the evening, thanks also to the big trees protecting them from the scorching sun, and Rukshan couldn’t help but think that the climate was really going haywire. One day cold, one week hot and wet. And this bad omen feeling that everybody seemed to get recently. He knew it was time to go, and despite the comfort of Margoritt’s cottage, he was starting to feel restless.

    He was making a lost of noise, stepping on every dry twigs he could find. A couple of rabbits and the crowd of their offsprings jumped away, a deer looked at him as if he was some vulgar neighbour and the birds flew away, disturbed during their evening serenades. But this was the kind of noise that would attract the telebats, small nocturnal animals that you could use for long distance communication.

    He found one on an old oak tree. It seemed to be in resonance with his cracking twigs. Rukshan hurried and caught it before the spell of his steps would dissipate.

    Rukshan to Lhamom: Hope everything’s fine. Stop. Something happened. Stop. Need help organise trip to mountains. Over,” he whispered in the sensitive ears of the small animal. The telebat listened carefully and opened its little mouth, making sounds that no normal ears could hear. Maybe Fox could have, but he would have found it as annoying as the cracking twigs. Then Rukshan waited.

    The answer wasn’t long to come. He knew it because the ears of the creature vibrated at high frequency. He listened into the creature’s left ear where he could hear the answer.

    Lhamom to Rukshan: Father not well. Stop. I’m worried. Stop. Have to go home take care of him. Stop. I send Drummis to help you. Over.”

    Rukshan responded with “Thanks. Stop. Hope everything well with Father. Stop. Have safe trip home. Over.”

    He hung up the telebat on the branch where he found it, and gave it a moth that he had found on his way.
    Rukshan frowned. He have never met Drummis. He wondered if he could trust him.


    That sunny day would be remembered as the day the doline shook and trembled.

    The geckoes fell from their rock, cutting all communication between the inhabitants of the hidden world. The vibrations coming from leperchauns know where had swiftly spread into the walls down to the deepest cracks and hidden chambers of the back cave far deeper than any of the inhabitants of the doline dared to show their noses. And Most of them weren’t aware at all of all that empty dark and cold and wet space. At some point, the vibrations gathered and rebounded into the bottom of the deepest caves and came back out in a roar that might have take the inhabitants’ hats off, if they wore hats.

    The bats flew away into the sunlight, blinded and deafened, bumping into each others as their fabulously acute sense of hearing was overwhelmed by the vibrations and the rich harmonics generated in the crystal chambers down below. Some fell, spiraling down as if they had been shot by some anti aerial defense. They fell in the cockroach arena and into the reservoir of dung gathered by the dung beetles, almost crushing Daisy in the process. Her father caught her safe and rolled her like the little dung beetle she was.

    The rats ran away spreading panic like plague, and while some tried to take advantage of the confusion to steal others food, when the vibration kept on shaking the ground around them and stalactites fell like fringe hail exploding into thousands projectiles, they began to fear.

    It took some time for the dust and noise to settle down, long after the vibration had ceased. All the inhabitants of the doline had gathered on the edge of the entrance, not knowing if it was safe to go back home.

    Hugo the Gecko wondered like many of the others.

    What just happened? What if it happened again? Somebody had to volunteer to go see what it was that made that noise.

    But no one came forth, all too shocked by the recent events. You could even hear some calling their families or friends.

    Hugo didn’t feel up to the task, he was too small and fragile. What if another of those big rocks fell on his soft and elastic body? It would explode like a water bomb. Except the puddle would be red. Yet, when he saw little Daisy desperately looking for her mother, something rose in him. Something he had never felt before. Some might call it courage, but Hugo didn’t have a name for it. All he knew was that he entered the doline and went down to the flat stone, calling his gecko friends on the way to follow him. Dragged along by that strange emotion that was moving their friend, they followed and listened to him when he gave them a few instructions. They resumed their place on the stone, except this time Hugo was at the center and began to draw something.

    The inhabitants of the doline had looked not understanding what the geckoes were doing, calling them reckless idiots to venture back into the broken world. But they looked at the strange shapes appearing on the flat stone at the center of the doline.

    Suddenly a voice came out of the crowd. “It’s me! I’m here!” she said and waved her little beetle legs. “Daisy, Mummy’s here!”

    Then everybody wanted to pass a message and the geckoes felt they were making a difference.

    Despite the agitation, Hugo kept wondering. What happened? Someone has to go and see.


    He took the road again not much later after a light breakfast.

    The potion hadn’t seemed to bring about immediate noticeable changes. It told Rukshan something about its maker, who was versed enough in potions to create gradual (and likely durable) effects. Every experienced potion maker knew that the most potent potions were the ones that took time, and worked with the drinker’s inner magic instead of against its own nature. The flashy potions that made drastic changes in nature were either destructive, or fleeting as a bograt’s fart in the spring breeze.
    If anything, it did give him a welcome warmth in the chest, and a lightness on his back and shoulders.

    The Faes had been generous with him, and he had food enough for a few days. Generous may not have been the right word… eager to see him scamper away was more likely.

    Enhanced by the potion’s warmth, the Queen’s words were starting to shake some remembrance back to him, melting away a deep crust of memories he had forgotten somehow, pushing against the snow like promises of crocuses in spring. The core of the Dragon Heartswood was very close now, a most sacrosanct place.
    Faes were only living at the fringe, where life and magic flew, running like the sap of an old tree, close to the bark.
    Inside was darker, harder to get to. Some said it was where life and death met, the birthplace of the Old Gods and of their Dragons guardians before the Sundering.

    His initial plan was to go around it, safe in Fae territory, but after the past days, and the relentless menace of the hungry ghosts on his trail, he had to take risks, and draw them away from his kin.
    The warmth in his heart was getting warmer, and he felt encouraged to move forth in his plan. He gave a last look at the mountain range in the distance before stepping into the black and white thickets of austere trees.


    The cry startled Lobbocks, who had been enjoying the long peaceful walk home through the forest, and instinctively he dived behind an uprooted tree stump. Peering between the fungi sprouting on the rotting limbs, he felt a moments disorientation as he identified the clumsy giant of a man as the statue of Hasamelis that stood opposite the town clock.

    For a moment he felt mildly irritated at the interruption. Lobbocks always found solitary walks soothing and beneficial, despite his sociable personality, and was by no means averse to chance encounters and surprises. But this felt a bit different, even before Lobbocks had identified the intruder into his forest space. Whatever part of the woodland paths he was on, he considered his forest space. He didn’t tend to think much about the rest of the forest, just the space he was in. But usually the surprises and encounters glided in, or flew in, to his space ~ this one had dive bombed in, somehow. And who was the lad with him? The lad seemed to have glided in, but the statue crash landed.

    For reasons he couldn’t fathom, although he didn’t wonder why at the time, he remained hidden. It simply didn’t occur to him to announce himself cordially, and simply ask a few questions of the fellow travelers, in an attempt to deduce the meaning of a statue relocating ~ and animating ~ in the middle of the forest.

    Lobbocks breathed a sigh of relief as they lumbered off back down the hill, in the opposite direction to his journey home to the mountain village. The last thing he heard before they moved out of earshot was: “That woman who turned me to stone, she was down by a river, down in the valley….”

    Aghast, Lobbocks started to understand why Hasamelis had felt so repellent. He was on a rampage of revenge and he blamed Eleri.

    Should he follow them, try to over take them somehow, and warn Eleri? Or go back to the village and confer with the others. Lobbocks didn’t know a thing about magic, but some of the others did. And this might be one of those kind of things. Not like intercepting Leroway, back in the old days, so Eleri could slip away….

    Lobbocks quickened his pace. Someone in the village would know what to do.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    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?”


    “Seeing Dido eating her curry cookies would turn Mater’s stomach, so she went up to her room.

    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.

    looked forgotten rat due idea half
    getting floverley comment somehow
    prune hardly wondered eyes great
    inn run days dark quentin simulation

    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.”


    The following is an e-mail from the past, composed on July 01, 2010. It is being delivered from the past through

    Dear FutureMe,
    The Absinthe Cafe
    Dawn and Mark had a bottle of Absinthe (the proper stuff with the WORMwood in
    it, which is illegal in France) but forgot to bring it. Wandering around at
    some point, we chanced upon a cafe called Absinthe. Sitting on the terrace, the
    waitress came up and looked right at me and said “Oh you are booked to come here
    tomorrow night!” and then said “Forget I said that”. Naturally that got our
    attention. After we left Dawn spotted a kid with 2016 on the back of his T
    shirt. We asked Arkandin about it and we have a concurrent group focus that does
    meet in that cafe in 2016, including Britta. Dawn’s name is Isabelle Spencer,
    Jib’s is Jennifer….
    The Worm & The Suitcase
    I borrowed Rachel’s big red suitcase for the trip and stuck a Time Bridgers
    sticker on it, and joked before I left about the case disappearing to 2163. I
    had an impulse to take a fig tree sapling for Eric and Jib, which did survive
    the trip although it looked a little shocked at first. As Eric was repotting
    it, we noticed a worm in the soil, and I said, Well, if the fig tree dies at
    least you have the worm.
    At Balzacs house on a bench in the garden there was a magazine lying there open
    to an ad for Spain, which said “If you lose your suitcase it would be the best
    thing because you would have to stay”.
    Later we asked Arkandin and he said that there was something from the future
    inserted into my suitcase. I went all through it wondering what it could be,
    and then a couple of days ago Eric said that it was the WORM! because of the
    WORMwood absinthe syncs, and worm hole etc. I just had a chat with Franci who
    had a big worm sync a couple of days ago, she particularly noticed a very big
    worm outside the second hand shop, and noted that she hadn’t seen a worm in ages
    ~ which is also a sync, because there was a big second hand clothes shop next to
    Dawn and Mark’s hotel that I went into looking for a bowler hat.
    Arkandin said, by the way, that Jane did forget to mention the bowler hats in
    OS7, those two guys on the balcony were indeed wearing bowler hats, and that
    they were the same guys that were in my bedroom in the dream I had prior to
    finding the Seth stuff ~ Elias and Patel.
    Eric replied:

    And another Time Bridger thing; a while ago, Jib and I had fun planting some TB stickers at random places in Paris (and some on a wooden gate at Jib’s hometown).
    Those in Paris I remember were one at the waiting room of a big tech department store, and another on the huge “Bateaux Mouches” sign on the Pont de l’Alma (bridge, the one of Lady D. where there is a gilded replica of Lady Liberty’s flame).
    I think there are pics of that on Jib’s or my flickr account somewhere.
    When we were walking past this spot, Jib suddenly remembered the TB sticker — meanwhile, the sign which was quite clean before had been written all over, and had other stickers everywhere. We wondered whether it was still here, and there it was! It’s been something like 2 years… Kind of amazing to think it’s still there, and imagine all the people that may have seen it since!

    The Flights

    I wasn’t all that keen on flying and procrastinated for ages about the trip. I
    flew with EASYjet, so it was nice to see the word EASY everywhere. I got on the
    plane to find that they don’t allocate seats, and chose a seat right at the
    front on the left. The head flight attendant was extremely playful for the
    whole flight, constantly cracking up laughing and teasing the other flight
    attendants, who would poke him and make him laugh during announcements so that
    he kept having to put the phone down while he laughed. I spent the whole flight
    laughing and catching his mischeivously twinking eye.
    I asked Arkandin about him and he said his energy was superimposed. I got on
    the flight to come home and was met on the plane by the same guy! I said
    HELLO! It’s YOU again! Can I sit in the same seat and are you going to make me
    laugh again” and he actually moved the person that was in my seat and said I
    could sit there. Then he asked me about my book (about magic and Napolean). He
    also said that all his flights all week had been delayed except the two that I
    was on. He wanted to give me a card for frequent flyers but I told him I
    usually flew without planes ~ that cracked him up ;))

    The Dream Bean

    Eric cracked open a special big African bean that is supposed to enhance
    dreams/lucidity so we all had a bit of it. The second night I remembered a
    dream and it was a wonderful one.
    (Coincidentally, on the flight home I read a few pages of my book and it just
    happened to be about the council of five dragons and misuse of magical beans)
    In the dream I had a companion with magical powers, who I presumed was Jib but
    it was myself actually. It was a long adventure dream of being chased and
    various adventures across the countryside, but there was no stress, it was all
    great fun. Everytime things got a bit too close in the dream, I’d hold onto my
    friend with magical powers, and we would elevate above the “adventure” and drop
    down in another location out of immediate danger ~ although we were never
    outside of the adventure, so to speak. At one point I wondered why my magical
    freind didn’t just elevate us right up high and out of it completely, and
    realized that we were in the adventure game on purpose for the fun of it, so why
    would we remove ourselves completely from the adventure game.
    In the dream I remember we were heading for Holland at one point, and then the
    last part we were safely heading for Turkey…..
    The other dream snapshot was “we are all working together on roof tiles” and
    Arkandin had some interesting stuff to say about that one.

    There were alot of vampire imagery incidents starting with me asking Eric if he
    slept in his garden tool box at night, and then the guy who shot out of a door
    right next to Jib and Eric’s, in a bright orange T shirt, carrying a cardboard
    coffin. He stopped for me to take a photo (and Arkandin said it was a Patel pop
    in); then while walking through the outdoor food market someone was chopping a
    crate up and a perfect wooden stake flew across the floor and landed at my feet.
    The next vampire sync was a shop opposite Dawn and Mark’s hotel with 3 coffins
    in the window (I went back to take a pic of the cello actually, didn’t even
    notice the coffins). Inside the shop was an EAU DE NIL MOTOR SCOOTER Share, can
    you beleive it, and a mummy, a stuffed raven, and a row of (Tardis) Red phone
    I had a nightmare last night that I couldn’t find any of my (nine) dogs; the
    only ones I could find were the dead ones.

    Balzac’s House

    The trip to Balzac’s house was interesting, although in somewhat unexpected
    ways. (Arkandin was Balzac and I was the cook/housekeeper) The house didn’t
    seem “right” somehow to Mark and I and we decided that was probably because
    other than the desk there was no furniture in it. Mark saw a black cat that
    nobody else saw that was an Arkandin pop in (panther essence animal), and Dawn
    felt that he was sitting on a chair, and Mark sat on him. (Arkandin said yes he
    did sit on him ;) The kitchen was being used as an office. Jib felt the house
    was too small, and picked up on a focus of his that rented the other part of the
    house. (The house was one storey high on the side we entered, and two storeys
    high from the road below). There were two pop ins there apparently, one with
    long hair which is a connection to my friend Joy who was part of that group
    focus, and I can’t recall anything about the other one. Dawn was picking up
    that Balzac wasn’t too happy, and I was remembering the part in Cousin Bette
    that infuriated me when I read it, where he goes on and on about how disgusting
    it is for servants to expect their wages when their “betters” are in dire
    straits. Arkandin confirmed that I didn’t get my wages.
    The garden was enchanting and had a couple of sphinx statues and a dead pigeon ~
    as well as the magazine with the suitcase and Spain imagery. Mark signed the
    guest book “brought the cook back” and I replied “no cooking smells this time”.


    “Did you have to come out here and interrupt my quiet reverie on gardeners nether regions, Godfrey?” Liz said crossly. “And what is that on your head? Your bald spot is covered in dried spaghetti.”

    Guiltily, Godfrey tried to remove the debris from his pate.

    “Why, you old rascal! You’ve been a peeping tom again, skulking around in someone elses thread!” Liz shook her head and tut tutted. The head shaking dislodged a crumpled ball of paper from her straw hat, which flew across the lawn in the breeze and landed at Roberto’s feet. The handsome gardener bent down further to pick it up, revealing more buttock.


    Seeing Dido eating her curry cookies would turn Mater’s stomach, so she went up to her room.

    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.

    looked forgotten rat due idea half
    getting floverley comment somehow
    prune hardly wondered eyes great
    inn run days dark quentin simulation

    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.


    Al’s gone too far this time, TinaBecky said, perusing the latest installment of the Reality Play. “He’s just adding old characters willy nilly now!”

    Tina just looked at Becky for a moment before replying quietly, “Isn’t that the point?”

    Gripping Tina’s shoulder firmly and giving her a little shake, Becky continued, “It’s getting serious, Tina, can’t you see the danger we’re in? Fictional characters are coming to life all over the planet, demanding birth certificates and passports and refugee status. Insisting on continuation, more detailed back stories; some are even demanding therapy for what the authors have put them through!”

    Tina looked shocked. “Is it really as serious as that?” she asked. “I had heard about it, but, well, I didn’t like to think too much about it…” her voice trailed off, hoping that Becky would drop the subject so she didn’t have to think about it any more.

    “It’s the Imagination Wave, Tina. We’ve never really understood Imagination or how to use it. During this wave, we’re going to find out, and it’s going to be messy, believe me! It’s not just the characters we’ve made up, it’s the land mass. Characters are looking for their lands, demanding compensation for missing islands…”

    “What are we going to do?” Tina whispered dramatically. “We’ve been churning out characters and littering changed landscapes with them and then just leaving them stranded, for nine years!”

    “And we can’t even get away from them all if we flew to Mars, either,” added Al, who had been eavesdropping from behind the door. He joined them and pulled up a chair. “Seriously, girls, we need a plan. This is our most important mission of all.”

    “Should we kill them all off?” asked Becky, wincing as she said it. “I didn’t mean that!” she added hastily.

    “Oh, you don’t want to do that!” Al replied quickly. “Some authors have done that and have been haunted by dead characters something awful! Dead characters are a worse nightmare than characters coming to life, believe me!”

    “Well I didn’t really mean it,” Becky said sheepishly.

    “Let’s ask Sam,” said Tina.


    Aunt Idle:

    “Don’t look so grim, Idle, we’re not staying,” Liz said, “We only came for a mince pie. We’ll be off in a minute but first I must have a word with Godfrey in private.”

    What a relief, I can tell you! “I’ll go and get him, shall I?”

    “No, I think I’ll have a word with him in his room, if you don’t mind,” she replied. “I think he has something to show me.”

    Curiosity over ruled any shreds left of anxiety, and I had to bite my tongue not to ask straight out, not that she’d have told me. Always full of enigmatic little secrets, she was, always had been. It was never a hundred percent clear if she knew what she was talking about and was very clever, or if she hadn’t got a clue what was going on and was winging it. Anyway, the main thing was that she wasn’t staying long, so if we got through the next half hour without any more confusion ensuing, we’d be laughing. Feeling more inclined towards gracious kindness than previously, I beamed magnanimously at her and politely ushered her down the hall to room 8.

    “Mr, er, Cornwall,” I didn’t know whether to call him Godfrey, and decided against it. His bill was in the name Crispin Cornwall, and I wasn’t about to have him flitting off with Liz and her entourage without paying it. “Elizabeth would like a private word, if you wouldn’t mind.”

    “Bloody Liz Tattler’s the last person I wanted to see,” he said. “Trust her to just happen to land on my secret hideaway.”

    My hand flew to my mouth. “Did you say Tattler?”



    “Get away from that door Prune, you nosy parker!” It wasn’t the first time I’d caught her eavesdropping outside room 8.

    “Begone, thine tawdry wench, spaketh not thus to thine majesty or I’ll have thee hung drawn and quartered!” she replied in a whisper as she slid past me and ran down the corridor.

    It suddenly dawned on me that this funny speaking Prune had been doing lately was something she was picking up on from behind that door. I inched closer to the door, bending down to press my ear to the keyhole. I was slightly off balance when the door flew open suddenly, causing me to stagger right into the room. Caught red handed, I could feel the blush rising as my hand flew to my mouth. There sitting on the end of the bed was what can only be described as an Elizabethan wonder woman superhero.

    I backed out of the room quickly, but not so fast that I didn’t see what was on the bed behind the woman. It was the flying fish that had gone missing from over the fireplace.


    Aunt Idle:

    Tattler, Trout and Trueman. Where had I seen that before? I squinted at what was left of the business card that Flora had been ripping up to use as roaches last night. I could make out tel: 88 , but the rest of the number was missing. There wasn’t much left of the card, no other writing left to see. But where had I seen that name before?

    I shivered; there was a rising mist and it was damp and chilly on the veranda, gloomy as the sun hadn’t quite risen yet. I like it first thing, before anyone else is up. Bert’s usually up, but I never see him, he goes off out the back somewhere. I stood there for awhile watching the mist rise and wondered whether to go and fetch the camera.

    And that’s when I remembered where I’d seen Tattler, Trout and Trueman. It was on that note that I’d hidden inside the camera manual.

    Could it be a coincidence? Should I ask Flora where she got the card, whose card it was? Or did Flora have something to do with the note?

    My hand flew to my mouth. Automatic reaction so you don’t suck any flies down with the sharp intake of breath.

    “Got toothache, Aunt Idle?” asked Prune.

    “Jesus Christ, Prune! You made me jump out of my skin! What are you doing up so early?”

    “Who is that man your friend brought with her? Is he from the desert?”

    “What man? She came on her own.”

    “Well who’s that tall man in the blue robes then? He said his name was Sanso.”

    WHO?” I could almost hear myself say that in italics. “Where? Where did you see him?”
    What did he say?”

    I could see Prune was weighing this up, she wasn’t called shrewd prunes for nothing. I wasn’t at all surprised when she said “He told me not to tell you anything,” and ran back inside, slamming the door behind her.



    Aunt Idle had passed out in the armchair drinking her sherry last night when I went to show her what me and Clove found online when we were googling map stuff, mumbling she was and dribbling a bit. Prune said something peculiar, but when pressed she wouldn’t explain what she meant. Something about Aunt Idle speaking in the same funny accent as Grace, though gawd knows who Grace is, Prune wouldn’t say. Secretive little bugger, our Prune.

    After breakfast Aunt Idle asked how our home schooling was going this week, so I told her we’d been exploring geographical anomalies and rare maps. She had an impressed look on her face; that is, until we showed her the link we’d found about the mysterious box full of maps and diagrams. That’s when her hand flew to her mouth, just like the other day when she saw us carrying that map covered mannequin up the drive.

    “1977! Oh my god!” she exclaimed, and then “Tampa! Florida! of course!” and then infuriatingly, wouldn’t explain what she meant.



    It was the look on Aunt Idle’s face when she saw them that scared me. There’s something strange going on, and not just everyone acting weird, that’s pretty normal around here, but this was a different kind of weird.

    When Aunt Idle nearly suffocated me with that big hug while she was trying to hide that piece of paper, I didn’t think anything of it. Probably hiding another bill I thought, not wanting us to worry about the debts piling up. Mater wandering off like that was pretty strange, but old people do daft things. I knew all about it because I’d been reading up on dementia. They imagine things and often feel persecuted, claim someone stole their old tea set, things like that, forgetting they gave it away 30 years ago, stuff like that. So I wasn’t worried about either of them acting strange when Clove and I decided to go treasure hunting in the old Brundy house, we just decided to out and explore just for the hell of it, for something to do.

    The Brundy house was set apart from the rest of the abandoned houses, down a long track through the woods, nice and shady in the trees without the sun glaring down on our heads. Me and Clove had been there years ago but we were little then, and scared to go inside, so we’d just peeked in the windows and scared each other with ghost and murderer stories until we heard a bang inside and then ran like hell until we couldn’t breathe. Probably just a rat knocking something over, but we never went back. We weren’t scared to, it was further to walk to the Brundy place and there were so many other abandoned houses to play in that were closer to home.

    We weren’t scared to go inside this time. It was a big place, quite grand it must have been back in the day, big entrance hallway with an awesome staircase like in Gone With the Wind where Scarlett fell down the stairs, but the stair carpet was all in shreds and some of the steps banisters were broken, but the steps looked sound enough so up we went, for some reason drawn up there first before exploring the ground floor rooms.

    Clove turned left at the top of the stairs and I turned right and went into the first bedroom. My hand flew to my mouth. I wonder why we do that, put a hand over our mouth when we’re surprised, well that’s what I did when I saw the cat mummy on the bed. I didn’t scream or anything, not like Clove did a minute later from the other side of the house. It wasn’t a mummy with bandages like an Egyptian one, it was just totally desiccated like a little skeleton covered in bleached leather. It was a fascinating thing to see really but the minute I heard Clove scream I ran out of the room and down the landing. It’s not like Clove to scream. Well who screams in real life, the only time I ever heard screaming was in a movie. People usually say what the fuck or oh my god, they don’t scream. But Clove screamed when she saw the room full of mannequins because to be fair it did look like a room full of ghosts or zombies in the half light from the shuttered windows. She was laughing by the time I reached her, a bit hysterically, and we clutched each other as we went over to open the shutters to get a better look. It was pretty creepy, even if they were only mannequins.

    They were kind of awesome in the light, all covered in maps, there were 22 of them, we counted them, a whole damn room full of map covered mannequins in various poses, men, women and kid sized. Really clever the way the maps were stuck all over them, looked like arteries and veins, and real cool the way Riga joined up with Boston, and Shanghai with Lisbon, like as if you really could just travel down a vein from Tokyo to Bogota, or cross a butt cheek to get from Mumbai to Casablanca.

    We hadn’t noticed at first that we’d been shuffling through a load of paper on the floor. The floor was covered in ripped up maps, must have been hundreds of maps all torn up and strewn all over the floor.

    “There’s enough maps left over to do one of our own, CorrieClove said, reading my mind. “Let’s take some home and stick them all over something.”

    “We haven’t got a mannequin at home though” I replied, but I was thinking, why not take a mannequin home with us, and some maps, and decide what to do with them later.

    So that’s what we did. We gathered up the biggest fragments of map off the floor and rolled them all up and used my hair elastic to hold them together, and carried a mannequin all the way home. The sun was going down so we had to hurry a bit down the track. Clove didn’t help when she said we must look like we’re carrying a dead body with rigor mortis, that made us collapse laughing, dropping the mannequin on its head. Once we got the giggles it was hard to stop, and it made our legs weak from laughing.

    We got home just as the last of the evening light disappeared, hauled the mannequin up the porch steps, where Aunt Idle was standing with her hand over her mouth. Well, that was to be expected, naturally she’d be wondering what we were carrying if she was watching us come up the drive carrying a body. It was later, when we unfolded the maps, that the look on her face freaked me out.


    I never could stand the sight of it. For as long as I remember, which is no more than 6 years, admittedly, the odd-looking fish had been preserved and placed above the fake stucco fireplace. It’s been here for much longer, though. You can tell by the thickness of the dust covering it. My friend Bert, that old chap, told me so.
    He has told me many other stories about the town, about my family, and their glorious past. It could just have been no more than stories, but I believe him —for no reason, really. Maybe only because my sisters find him slightly creepy and old. Anyway, I like him.

    In his stories, the fish had fallen many years ago from the sky. There had been rain this summer day, which was, in itself, even less believable than some oddly shaped flying fish falling from the sky. And that fish had fallen in front of what was the private mansion of the Curara family. Our ancestor found it, and decided to take it as a sign of the Almighty that they would be blessed with abundance forever after… But then, everything went downside with fantastic speed. The gold rush stopped in its tracks, the town slowly got deserted, and since then, our family started to believe that it was more a curse than a blessing. However, nobody ever bothered to get rid of the fish that once flew.

    Maybe they were waiting for another one to appear to break the string of unfortunate events. I always think of all the amusing ways I could get rid of it without anybody noticing. April’s fools wouldn’t do… Too easy. But having it served at dinner would be a start. Sadly, with Aunt Idle’s poor cooking skills, there was no chance a fish could come unnoticed.

    So it was on that particular day when I’d found and written down on my secret diary a 222nd way of getting rid of the fish, it was on that particular and fateful day, that everything changed again for the Curara family.


    Soul loss and soul recovery
    Whenever you are in a situation with intense pain, grief, loss, or intense joy, excitement, you may lose part of your soul, or vital energy, it’s also called dissociation by the psychologist. You usually do it to make it stop, or it is an automatic action to stop the intensity of what’s going on.
    You separate yourself form an aspect of yourself, and you are not aware of it, most of the time. It can manifest as chronic fatigue, depression, feeling numb, addictive behavior, etc.
    In order to get back this energy, you have to reclaim it. And as a shaman, you do it through the process of soul recovery. Today you’re going to learn how to do it.
    It is relatively simple. First, you are going to go in the lower world, find your main power animal. Thank it again for all that it does for you and ask them if they are the one to help you in the process of soul recovery. If not, ask them to lead you to your soul recovery animal. When you get acquainted to this new animal, you can ask them their name, and how you can call them when you need them. Thank them for their help and presence with you.
    When you do a soul recovery, you may not know what you are going to recover. You may not really know what you have lost, or you may not be aware of symptoms. Just tell your Soul Recovery Power animal (SRPA) that you want to recover a part of your soul that you are missing at the moment. They’ll guide you through the process. Follow them, trust them.
    They may take you through different places or spaces and times to go find that lost soul piece. It may be from your childhood, from another life, or dream situations.
    You are going to be presented to that piece of your soul and you have to ask them what happen. Most of the time they are frightened and don’t want to come back. You have to convince them, and ask them what you have to do to show them that you’ll not do the same “mistake” that make them leave in the first place. It may require you change something in your behavior, in your attitude toward certain things, it might be simple or huge. Depends on what you find. And it’s up to you to see if you’re up to the challenge.
    you can also take some time with your power animals to get to know them better and learn from them.
    If you don’t know how to manage the situation with the lost piece of soul, you can ask your soul recovery power animal to help you do the “negotiation” part
    but you’ll have to do what’s required by the soul so that it comes back definitively sts
    If you still have time, you can go on a second recovery.
    And remember, this is not a race, take your time, don’t rush, enjoy the journey.

    Before the music starts, I have the feeling of “Nagini” my snake power animal: it’s looking patiently at me with golden eyes. I also get the first impression of a spirit panda as a soul retrieving power animal. There are two aspects of it, a docile and friendly one, and another more fearsome, they seem to shift depending on his mood. As the music starts, I sift through few fleeting impressions (one of a lemur), then some stronger.
    The panda comes back but I also have other animals who seem to present themselves in order, as if in different directions, and I remember there are no rules as their number, so I let myself welcome them. The panda is on the right, it seems connected to childhood memories, (call it “Panda”) then, on middle right, there is a spider (“Anansi”), it connects to the jumping spiders I’ve seen a few times the past days, and
    one this morning I put outside instead of letting it drown.Middle left, coming from above and perched on a tree, there is a firebird/phoenix (“Fawkes”). There is another one, I remember a bit later that appeared further left, as if from the direction behind me, it’s an ape (“Hanuman”).
    The serpent circles around them. I have the impression I can choose any of them, and they will lead me to different realizations, and I have the impression of the buddhist emanations, where enlightened being manage to split themselves into many as one. So I decide to ride them all at once. Actually, I start with the first three ones, and as I ride on the land, I suddenly remember the ape which was very discrete initially,but seems to be willing to show me stuff too.
    The land we ride into is dark, almost volcanic in nature, as if scorched. There are trails that spread to different directions, and each ride goes down one of them. There are various visions, moments and memories from the past connected with strong emotions.
    At one end, there is a little boy that shoots magma out of his incandescent body. It irradiates the land through veins of lava, and as it cools down it darkens the land even more. He seems to be caught up in a circle of rage or fear, fear of never seeing the light again. I listen to him without words, and realize he’s afraid of letting go.
    I’ll show him the light is covered by his own cinders, and he needs to cool down and let nature grow back again around him, and I’m showing him I’m willing to help. It seems to resolve as light opens in the sky, and a tree starts to grow again… At the end, I seem to connect the scene to certain memories.
    There is another one that comes in, where the ape is doing a certain pose where it walks on its hands. The posture catches my attention, as if to remind me of something. I’m encouraged to turn around to see the world as it sees it. As I do it, the world changes and spins, and the music starts to indicate the end of the trip. I thank the animals and finish with the snake before leaving…
    the end
    well, it’s very condensed, there was lots happening
    It’s like I was doing many stuff at the same time

    (no recollection)

    I have difficulties stabilizing my attention first, there is this kind of veiled perception I’ve been having lately. As I call my power animal for soul recovery I have a strong impression of a bear and then a raven. There is a kind of snake too, and I also feel a wild boar. I refocus back on the whale and say I’ll come back later. The whale leads me in the depth of the earth to a magma chamber. It becomes scrambled again and I just take a moment to refocus on my penguin.
    First soul recovery
    I ask him to find the piece of soul that would be best for me to recover now, and we go fly above something. The penguin flies like a rocket, super fast. I soon find a kid feeling presence. I have no real visual, and I keep having visuals of lemur, or raccoon interfering.
    Then I feel that the presence is also camouflaging behind projections to be left alone. He left me when I was little, around 8 because the world seemed to disappointing. I have some difficulties at first to convince him to come back with me, and I show him what I’m already doing that’s fun and that’s worth doing and exploring. After a while, he agrees and I feel a nice warm feeling inside my belly as he is reintegrating me. I thank him for coming back. The only thing I need to do is take the time to reassure myself when the world seems too dangerous.
    Visiting the bear and the raven
    Then I decide to go back visit the bear and the raven.
    I’ve already seen them before and they seem to be there for me. There is an impression of power with the bear and also mother here for her kids. With the raven, it’s more a mystical stuff, and the power of observation and seeing through things.
    I am offered a kind of raven skull symbol of power and energy manipulation staff or something like that. I take it and it feels quite powerful, I have the impression the energy or the “spirits” would follow it when I demand it. Like make blocked energy move.
    Second soul recovery
    I decide to do a second soul recovery and ask the whale to lead me. I have the impression of changing plane, the focus is different, I am more on the middle world, and we go somewhere icy like Antarctic. Maybe near a shipwreck. There is a man, depressed and gloomy. I begin to ask him why he’s here, but he seems to want to come back and don’t ask anything. I feel very warm and loving. The drums begin to beat the return and I thank everyone for participating and come back. Saying I’ll take time to assimilate.
    Eric’s account remind me of a few stuff
    that reminded me a few stuff too because at one time I had to follow a spider and with the raven I flew over a magma land and the raven became a phoenix to be able to fly because it was so hot
    thanks I forgot that

    went down the stone steps, the unicorns on the left looked up as I passed. Zebra joined me from the right, said thanks but forgot his name! Then a white bear joined me, said his name was Waldo (or at least that name would do for now, impression)
    He was huge but was very light on his feet the whole time. Came to a tall tree with a single very red apple on it. The white bear scampered up the tree and I followed. Various other fruit but mainly the red apple stood out.
    At the top of the tree leveled out to a large plaza with gameboard design, the white bear demonstrated frolicking from one part to another playfully leaping in lightness.
    Flash to me as a small child being woken up in the night by concerned parents for nasty medicine for chicken pox.
    Same house but in the field behind, me as a small child alone by the wigwam of sticks dad made, frowning, alone. Next door to the neighbours pond, frozen over. White bear kept dancing on the thin ice part that we didn’t skate on, huge heavy bear, such a light step didn’t break the ice
    Zebra was hanging around incidentally, kept feeling reassuring warm breath and muzzle on my shoulder. Breathing restrictions started, left the pond, down a path in the woods, came to a fork. Went left ~ papers everywhere, letters, words, snowed under with words and letters, monkeys pulling sheafs and sheafs of letters and papers and words.
    Then a school of tiny silver fishes swan inside me and started chomping at all the letters in my solar plexus and spewing out coloured threads and ribbons from my mouth.
    Breathing difficult. (several times just sank into intense colours for awhile with no imagery, plenty purple and green). I started doing sort of swimming motions with my arms with the breathing and fishes, had a sudden blast of energy in the chest and then later a much stronger one just before the video ended.
    I should add the impression of less thinking/intellectualizing, less buried under a mountain of words, in favour of more purely physical expression


    “How very strange” said Igor, when they eventually reached the waterfall.
    “What?” asked Mirabelle, who was paying more attention to the parrot perched on her shoulder. She tickled him under the chin. “Who’s a pretty boy then? muah muah muah pretty parrot, where have you been?”
    Igor rolled his eyes at the kissing noises. “Look!” he said, pointing at the waterfall.
    “It’s a fucking waterfall, yes, I see it!” snapped Mirabelle. Finding Huhu had distracted her from the discomfort of hunger, thirst and an aching body, but Igor’s questions brought her back to the reality of their situation.
    Then it dawned on her. The waterfall plummeted downwards, in a seemingly infinite series of cascades and pools. It was impossible to see the bottom with the spray and mist, especially in the fading daylight.
    “But we are still at sea level, Igor! The waterfall should be going up, not down. I mean to say, we should be looking up at the waterfall flowing down. This isn’t making any sense. But look” she said, pointing to the first pool on the right. “There is a little hut there and some people. Fat people.” she added. “I bet they will have some food, let’s go and ask.”
    Igor stepped cautiously to the edge and and peered over, looking for a way down. He looked down, then looked back at the little stream they had followed from the sea, and then back down again.
    “This water is breaking all the rules!” he cried. “It’s flowing in both directions!”
    “Don’t be silly Igor, are you delirious? Everyone knows that water flows downhill towards the sea.”
    “See for yourself then, look!” he put a stick in the stream and they watched it flow gently back the way they had come, towards the bay. “Now watch,” he said, as he tossed another stick over the edge of the waterfall. It quickly disappeared from view as it rushed downwards, in the opposite direction.
    “Where is the source? Where is the water coming from?”
    “Those fat people might know. Have you found a way down yet?”
    It appeared that the only way down to the pool of the fat people was via the waterfall itself. There were sheer cliffs of malachite and rose quartz on either side of the waterfall as far as the eye could see.
    “I think we will have to go down the waterfall itself, Mirabelle.”
    She gasped and took an involuntary step back.
    “We will have to steer ourselves towards where we want to go, that’s all.”
    “Oh no, not me, if you think I’m going to just throw myself over a waterfall…Oh! Huhu come back!”
    The parrot flew down to the pool of the fat people, and settled on a banana tree, watching Mirabelle above looking down at him.
    “Fucking parrot,” muttered Mirabelle. “I’ll clip your wings when I catch hold of you, I swear I will. For your own fucking good! Well?” she said, turning to Igor. “Are you coming or what?” and she launched herself over the edge and into the waterfall, with one thought in her mind ~ the bloody parrot.
    With a great splash, she landed in the rose coloured pool, bobbing to the surface like a cork. Disgruntled silvery fish leaped out of the water, one of them landing on the barbecue. Mirabelle waded out of the pool, oblivious to the fish, and the looks of amazement on the faces of the fat people, and walked over to the banana tree.
    Huhu ripped a banana off a ripe yellow bunch and dropped it, squalking in delight as Mirabelle caught it in her hands. When Huhu saw that she was focused on peeling it and eating it, he fluttered down and perched on her shoulder. She gave the parrot the last bit of banana, and then turned her attention to the fat people and the barbecued fish.


    “Is that… a flying drone?” the woman asked, pointing at the buzzing monster that just flew past them
    “Nope, it’s a cicada. The ones around here are huge”
    “No way! That thing was carrying a cat!”
    “Yep. They tend to get hungry that time of year. The mating and all…”

    She gasped for air, unconsciously voicing her thoughts “How come those things became so enormous?”

    The guy replied calmly “There’s a theory… That gaping hole…
    “The one that appeared in the ground a few weeks ago, the size of a football field?”
    “Yeah, that one…”
    “I thought it was the reason why they called the Surge Team, although it’s a bit late, now. What about it? “
    “It’s not really the reason why we called you. The hole was benign, the region was inhabited for years. But it released cubic tons worth of oxygen in the atmosphere.”
    “So what?” she was puzzled.
    “Well, that theory states that insects size is proportional to the amount of oxygen in the air… Supposedly the reason why there were giant insects in the prehistoric ages…”
    “Yep,… wait till you see the size of the mosquitoes”, he said handing her a shotgun.


    Jack and Lisa sat in dark silence at the kitchen table drinking their coffee, Lisa struggling to recall the dream that had seemed so important, so joyful. Was it something to do with Fanella? But what? Well, maybe there would be some synchronicity later that would remind her, jog her memory.
    “I think I might go for a jog down by the river” said Jack.
    “Suit yourself” replied Lisa waspishly. “How is Igor doing, by the way?” she added, reminded of the poor fellows bee stings.
    “Oh he’s fine, but he’s pretending he isn’t. I think he’s enjoying Mirabelle’s nursing actually. The cucumber treatment seems to have worked, anyway.”
    “And what exactly is that girl doing with a cucumber, in Igor’s bed?”
    “Flove knows, but it’s doing the trick.” As Jack started to push his chair back and get up from the table, a gust of displaced air hit the table with such force it knocked the coffee cups over, and cigarette butts in the ashtray flew across the room.
    “You clumsy oaf, Jack! Steady on!”
    “It wasn’t me! Look!” he exclaimed, pointing up at the ceiling.
    Fanella! What on earth are you doing up there, hanging from that beam!” cried Lisa in astonishment. “And where did you get that unusual map print scarf?”

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