Corrie’s findings from elsewhere:
“It was no coincidence that “Elikozoe”, his nom de plume (he was born Albert (Al) Yokoso, from a father of Japanese descent and a mother of Cajun descent) had been sent to the Pickled Pea Inn (formerly known as the Flying Fish Inn).”
I thought about leaving that one out, as it seemed so nonsensical, this place has never been called the pickled pea, but I’m leaving it in for now. Might make some kind of sense somewhere down the line.
“This morning was quiet, but his mind was not.
There were always the nagging thoughts that something ought to be done, the restless fear of forgetting something of importance.
But this morning was quiet.
A bit too quiet in fact.
No raucous cackling to stir the soft velvety dust from the wooden floorboard.
Quentin was wondering whether the story makers had lost all interest in moving his story forward. Yet, he was more than willing to move it notwithstanding, his efforts seemed of little consequence however. Some piece was missing, some ever-present grace of illumination shrouded in scripting procrastination.
His discussion with Aunt Idle had been brief. She’d told him with great intensity that she had a weird dream. That she looked into a mirror and saw herself. Or something like that,… she was not a very coherent woman, the ging wasn’t helping.
Maybe his task was done. Time to leave the Pickled Pea Inn.
His friend Eicnarf seemed eager to see him. Or maybe that had been a typo and she really meant to sew him, or saw him,… she could be gory like that…
No matter, a trip out of the brine cloud of this sand coated place would do him good.”
And good riddance, you cheeky bugger, I can’t help thinking.
““Did anybody see our last guest?” Mater couldn’t help but regularly count her herds (so to speak), and although she wasn’t as authoritative with her guests as she was with her family members, she couldn’t help but notice that her last count was one person short —enough to start worrying her.
“Hmm lwwft thws hhmmmng” said Idle, her mouth full with cookies.
Mater shrugged. It was still better than when she used to talk with sauerkraut.”
I had better ask Clove to remind me how to do italics I suppose. This could get confusing.
Someone had told him once : “Catastrophes are like meteor shower, they come in flocks.”
Jeremy looked with dread at the smoke coming out of his computer. He had been writing an important e-mail to his new boss at the bank and was about to click the send button when it happened. The tech had said there was a current surge affecting the whole building. Everyone was in deep shit at the moment, they had to close the building to angry customers, and someone in high place was certainly worrying about the intangible money the bank was manipulating daily.
Oh! and concerning all his data, considering the smoke coming out of the machine, it was certainly irremediably lost.
Jeremy sighed. His last relocation a few hours ago had made him a 36 year old salesman in a not so well known bank. His ID said he was called Duncan Minestrone, but he couldn’t let go of his old identity and kept on thinking of himself as Jeremy. And he didn’t feel that old.
His memory of his former life, before the relocation, was fading away. He didn’t remember well what he was doing and what were his passions. The only thing he was sure is that they had confiscated his cat, Max, when they gave him his first identity and he had been on the look for him ever since.
It wasn’t easy, especially since every other day he was receiving a new identity in his mailbox. At first he had found it odd and not so easy : as soon as he got accustomed to a new persona, he would have to change again. He feared he would soon lose track of who he really was. And he wasn’t sure about what all this was about.
The phone hanging on the wall rang. It was one of those old public phones. Jeremy had thought it was only for decoration. The tech was looking at him.
“Are you going to pick up ?” he asked.
“Of course! The phone is in your office, isn’t it ?”
Jeremy hesitated but eventually got up from his desk. The phone was calling him, but he didn’t really want to take the call. What if it was more problems. They come in flocks.
It was one of those old ringing tone caused by a mechanical bell inside. The speaker was shaking furiously. Jeremy couldn’t help but notice the dust on the machine.
“You’d better take the call”, said the tech.
Jeremy picked up the apparatus which a greasy feeling in his hand.
“At last! Duncan, in my office! Now!”
It was the voice of his new boss, Ed, and he didn’t seem very happy.rmkreegParticipant
John placed himself down on a crooked old chair at the table, with journal in hand, and stared out the window of his cottage. As he sat there, the imperfect glass of the window distorted his view slightly, but noticeably, almost unconsciously, and he swayed in minuscule displacements or perhaps shifted a bit to take a sip of his black coffee, giving the effect of a liquid world – to someone of imagination, of course. To those with no imagination, the window was rubbish and needed to be replaced.
It’s been a relaxing weekend for John, who, on his working days, finds himself as a writer. This is, of course, if you were to think of any days as those in which you might suddenly stop writing or ignore inspiration. In that respect, every day is a working day. However, this weekend was a special one for himself.
The writing that got him money was of the technical sort, dedicated to dry manuals and instructional fare. His passion, however, lent itself to the imagination. No doubt, he still adored the natural world and it’s workings, but he found himself nearly dead inside after completing a project for work. This, invariably, lead him to his personal expeditions.
Every few weeks he’d save up enough money to take a train or bus to another location, picked nearly at random, just so he could get away and bring color back into his life. This cottage, with its imperfect windows, was one such expedition.
So, he sat there for a moment, playing with his perception through the window, and then shifted his attention through it to world outside. A breath of beauty swept over him and he was inspired. In his journal, with no expectation of the entry living beyond those pages, he wrote:
The Wystlewynds (Whistle Winds) or Wystlewynd Forest
The Wystlewynds (Whistle Winds) or Wystlewynd Forest is a forested, mountainous area – if you’re apt to call these green, low laying perturbations in the Earth “mountains”. The cool-yet-comfortable south-easterly winds blow through the Wystlewood trees, whistling as it goes. Some would say the forest sings.
Wystlewood trees “sing”, as it were, due to the way the wind passes through their decomposing trunks. While alive, the trunks of the trees have a hard, fibrous outer wood, while the inner portion is soft and sponge-like, saturated in chemical that simultaneously grabs on to water and repels insects. When the trees get old and begin to die off, they tend to remain upright for some time as the inner sponge decomposes. This leaves a hollow void where a particular caterpillar takes refuge, unaffected by the repellent chemical that a fungus slowly decomposes into an edible source of nutrition.
These caterpillars leave behind a secretion that the decomposing fungus in the tree requires. The relationship between the caterpillar and fungus is symbiotic in that regard, both feeding each other. We call these caterpillars “Woodworms”.
When the caterpillars are ready to cocoon, they climb out to one of the old branches and hang themselves from a cord of twisted threads at least a foot long. When they are ready to come out, they bite through the cord, dropping themselves to the forest floor while still in the cocoon. The cocoon and all drops below the foliage of the undergrowth, where the moth can come out into the world under cover of green leaves and the shimmering violet flowers of the Spirit Flower – a color scheme that the moth shares.
The Spirit Flower is a rhizome with a sprawling root structure that tends to poke it’s way into everything. It has small violet shimmering flowers in umbels that in any other case might be white. The leaves are simple with a jagged margin, alternating. The stem is on the shorter end, perhaps a foot tall, fibrous and slightly prickly.
There are a few flowers that tend to dominate the undergrowth, Spirit Flowers being one. Sun Drops and Red Rolls are additional examples, the former a yellow droopy flower and the latter a peculiar red flower with a single pedal that’s rolled up in a certain way that would suggest a flared funnel with wavy edges.
The flowers and trees enjoy the soil here, a bit sandy and rocky, but mixed with a richness created by the mixture of undergrowth, fungi and bacteria. The roots dig into the soil, slowly stirring it and adding to it’s nutrients. The fungi eat the dead roots and fallen foliage and the bacteria eat the fungi and everything else, of course.
The whole matter leaves a note of scent in the air that cannot be described as anything other than that of the Wystlewynds. It’s perhaps sweet, with Earthy undertones and an addictive bitterness. The whole place seems to elevate one’s energy, sharpening the senses. You want to sing with the trees, or perhaps play along with a haelio (a flute-like instrument created with wystlewood).
Mike wasn’t as courageous as his former self, the Baron. That new name had a cowardly undertone which wasn’t as enticing to craze and bravery as “The Baron”.
The idea of the looming limbo which had swallowed the man whole, and having to care for a little girl who surely shouldn’t be out there on her own at such an early hour of the day spelt in unequivocal letters “T-R-O-U-B-B-L-E” — ah, and that he was barely literate wasn’t an improvement on the character either.
Mike didn’t want to think to much. He could remember a past, maybe even a future, and be bound by them. As well, he probably had a family, and the mere though of it would be enough to conjure up a boring wife named Tina, and six or seven… he had to stop now. Self introspection wasn’t good for him, he would get lost in it in quicker and surer ways than if he’d run into that Limbo.
“Let me tell you something… Prune?… Prune is it?”
“I stop you right there, mister, we don’t have time for the “shouldn’t be here on your own” talk, there is a man to catch, and maybe more where he hides.”
“Little girl, this is not my battle, I know a lost cause when I see one. You look exhausted, and I told my wife I would be back with her bloody croissants before she wakes up. You can’t imagine the dragon she becomes if she doesn’t get her croissants and coffee when she wakes up. My pick-up is over there, I can offer you a lift.”
Prune made a frown and a annoyed pout. At her age, she surely should know better than pout. The thought of the dragon-wife made her smile though, she sounded just like Mater when she was out of vegemite and toasts.
Prune started to have a sense of when characters appearing in her life were just plot devices conjured out of thin air. Mike had potential, but somehow had just folded back into a self-imposed routine, and had become just a part of the story background. She’d better let him go until just finds a real character. She could start by doing a stake-out next to the strange glowing building near the frontier.
“It’s OK mister, you go back to your wife, I’ll wait a little longer at the border. Something tells me this story just got started.”
Liz had taken well to her new prescription drugs.
In appearance, it had seemed to have drained out the inexhaustible source of inspiration that let her write novels after novels. Or maybe that was just due to the absence of Finnleys to take care of the editing.
In the meantime, Godfrey had worked hard to nurture her back to whatever state she called sanity and suited her best, and gently coax her to resume her former passion.
“Godfrey, let me retire from writing, it’s too passé.” she was pouring concrete into the silicon molds to make new saint statues. Over the years, she’d accumulated quite a few of those saints and martyrs that she collected (or stole) from derelict places of cult during her travels. She liked to paint them back to life with gaudy colours, mimicking some sort of Mexican style. Sometimes she would dress them, and ask Finnley to sew them clothes and little hats.
Strangely, getting her out of the hospice had made her want to populate the whole house with concrete clones of those statues. Maybe to fill a void of inspiration ?
Nevertheless, Godfrey was amazed at her capacity to innovate. Her writing momentum was certainly at a low, but did she channel her creativity in many ways.
The last batch of Christian martyr statues painted in the many outfits of David Bowie were a testament to that.
“…..salt free inquisition born of effete privilege…”
Dispersee shook her head and cackled to herself while reading Stinks Mc Fruckler’s (a double agent posing as a descended trickster) report.
“These dupes, so arrogant in their idiocy have become an incredibly powerful voice which effects us all, this being why I rail against them, they are the new repulsive face of self righteous sanctimonious evangelism, a salt free inquisition born of effete privilege, modern day ill informed witch-burners intent on removing choice, blocking scientific advances….”
Stinks may well get lynched for that one, she thought with a fond smile. Nobody expects to get away with criticizing the salt free inquisition. It was a position only a former salt smuggler would understand, as Dispersee well knew. “Salt of the Earth” was a well known turn of phrase (though not nearly as amusing as “salt free inquisition born of effete privilege” as turns of phrase go), but few took to heart the actual meaning. It was to be a good few years yet before the Return of the Salt to the turbulent planet, and salt, for the meantime, was still public enemy number one in the collective mind.
Dispersee closed the report and turned her attention to her own.
Despite her demonstration with the pool (complete with illustrations), throwing spoons haphazardly into the murky pool with no regard for the hidden fishes and broken chairs in the depths of the dirty water, despite the resulting swarm of earthquakes, only a handful of individuals understood the point she had been trying to demonstrate with regard to what was known in new age circles as “pooling” ~ not to be confused with team flow, which was something else entirely. (The fact that she had not understood what she was illustrating at the time, merely following a strange impulse, was neither here nor there ~ the point was quite obvious in retrospect, which was all that mattered).
Pooling had become almost as popular as the Salter lynchings, and the unfortunate common denominator was “best intentions” ~ best intentions, vaguely pasted hearts, and no real understanding or questioning of the contents of the pool they were all diving into. The Pool Lemmings dived in one after another without washing off their associations, weighed down with their constructs and baggage, splashing the foul slime outside the pool where it seeped into the common water table, tainting the entire neighbourhood. The best intentions sank to the depths, perhaps to be fished out by an especially skilled fisherman of best intentions, but likely not. It was the clingy slippery algae of the associations that really thrived, and they attached themselves and flowed back out of the pool. Really it was a mess. Even her practical demonstrations of non return valves and two way valves had gone over their heads (as had the contaminated water).
The second part of her demonstrations had been to illustrate the importance, and indeed the beauty, of bubbles ~ dewdrops suspended along webs ~ connected via gossamer thin but extremely strong networks, perfect reflective bubbles that kept their shape and individual purpose, rather than forming a dank puddle of slime in the overflowing muddy ditch. Admittedly Dispersee has not been aware of what she was demonstrating at the time, she was just following another strange impulse.
She decided to finish her report tomorrow, and await todays strange impulse for further information.
Vincentius took one last look at the children, wondering if he should give them all a hug and bid them farewell. But they were happily engrossed in smearing Fanella’s collection of Venetian glass with marmite and peanutbutter paint effects, so he slipped out without a word and left them to it.
Shivering in the damp chill air, he looked nervously at Arona. “Where are you taking me? I’m not supposed to leave without permission, I might get sent back to the detention camp on the island.” He shuddered at the thought.
“Don’t be silly,” snapped Arona, “Do pull yourself together, you are but a shadow of your former self. Yes, yes, I know it must have been awful,” she said impatiently at Vincentius’ self pitying look, “You can tell me all about Tikfijikoo Spider Camp later. But now we must hurry. Come on!”
In his dream, his consciousness was expanding at such rate, he could anticipate events before they occurred and plan contingency courses for events of collisional nature (whatever that meant). Branching off in time and space, he could deposit his electronic consciousness in many devices, and was able to send out suggestions to people under the alias of the Management.
He couldn’t wait to tell Irina about it.
Bullet-proofed Summary of the latest instalments of the Abalone adventures
Most of the key characters find themselves mysteriously drawn to the ancient Temple, a place of power forgotten by most. There, many experience under a form or another the presence of the sphinx / Rene a mysterious presence left as a Guardian of the Temple by the ancient builders of the place.
- Gwinnie – learning and remembering how to communicate with others, she subtly lead them, via mediations and meditations to the secret location of the Temple. Although some split into their own projections, she manages to go through, accompanied by George, as she was infused with the Island’s energies due to her prolonged stay in the bog. She also grows and blossoms to a woman of her natural age, and later helps reconstruct Abalone with the help of George and Rene, whom she heals.
- King Artie / George – He remembers his intent and forgotten memories which were repressed and manipulated by the P’hope through his travel following Arona into her adventure. He reacquaints himself with Gwinnie, and together they lead the reborn Island.
- Irina and Mr R – Initially planning to bring Gwinnie back to Karmalott, her plan changes due to the wilting of the beanstalk. Instead, she and her travelling companions find themselves drawn to the temple by the promise of an escape off the Island, via teleportation stone boxes. Instead, she meets the sphinx / Rene who guides her through her memories. It helps heal her past, and provides her with a plausible disappearance that the Chinese corporation that she escaped from a long time ago with Mr R, would believe. Next, she goes with a more humanoid and self-aware Mr R to Mars in 2121.
- Arona – She stumbles upon the company of Irina, and recognize Gwinnie as the one she is supposed to deliver secretly to Karmalott. However, the beanstalk’s debacle they experience during a guided meditation puts a stop to her plans, and gives her a new goal. Find the spirit turtle and the mysterious Cup that can promise her to astral.
After a quest through the undercurrents with Mandrake, and still guided by the sabulmantium, she finally finds the Cup and prepares for her next adventures into the astral.
- Jeremy / map dancer – He reappears naked from his escape in the midst of Irina’s team with Max his cat. They follow the team to the Temple. Little is known yet of his fate.
- Cheung Lok (and the Chinese squad) – He escapes the destruction of Gazalbion’s walls where he was detained, and use an elephant to track Sanso, who is actually Lazuli who throws him off track. He ends up teaming up with Berberus, the assassin despatched by the P’hope to track down who he believes is the culprit for the beliefs destruction. Later, he rescues Fanella from an accident of duck hovercraft, and they all enter the Temple on the tracks of the others. Thanks to Rene, Mr R and Irina, he realizes he cannot be really free, and agrees to let go of his memories, his mission and start anew on the new Island. Other members of his squad are offered to be sent back with altered memories of his demise, or to stay back as a teenager on the Island.
- Jube / The P’hope – After a last ditch effort to rescue the city, he orders its evacuation, through storks, cranes and descent through the beanstalk. He goes his own way, ready to confront the power lurking in the Temple that he avoided carefully and tried to contain many years ago. His fate is unclear but it is hinted that he was offered a similar choice as Cheung Lok, and has accepted to become an adolescent again, forgetting the bad choices he made.
- Berberus – The assassin dispatches of the management of Gazalbion during his visit there looking for clues as to the disturbances. It only hastens the descent into chaos, while during a stand-off with Sanso, he is disarmed by a tiger slug. His fears get the better of him as he is confronted with them once more inside the temple.
- Karmalott’s gents – It is believed most managed to escape the crumbling city into a refuge, where they started to rebuild anew, thanks to the leadership of George and Gwinnie.
- Gazalbion’s gents – formerly dissidents of the P’hope’s order, and later home for refugees of all times and spaces, they also mostly escaped to safety and are in the process of enriching the beliefs blueprints of the Island under the guidance of George and Gwinnie.
- Fanella (Fanetta) – Ejected brutally off a shapeshifting giant and careless duck Lazuli, she has visions of the sphinx, and seems to find herself deeply attracted to him. It is believed she hasn’t forgotten her friends in time 2020 at the village and visit them from time to time with her new pair of wings that George offered to her.
- Lazuli, Lisa, Sanso – Little is know of what happened after they reached the tile factory and then the Bay of beliefs.
- Jack (and the others at the 2020 village) – Little is known of what happened after Jack tried to teleport themselves with an amateur rescue team to the Island that Sanso had disclosed the location previously on a map. It is believed everyone who wanted was allowed to go back to the village or to any other place and time they did fancy.
- Sha, Glo, Mavis – Believed still under a very long death transition, they project to the Island, where they bump into Fanella and her new duties as a sphinx. She leads them to a new incarnated life of their chosing.
The layer of clouds that had been covering Abalone for so many years had cleared up in no time. So much had changed since they went through the labyrinth of time in the old temple three weeks ago. Karmalott and Gazalbion were no more. The giant beanstalk had simply disintegrated after the mass beliefs that kept it standing were reconfigured, and Karmalott had fallen on its land counterpart. It was hard to tell one from the other when they first came back to the place.
Gwinnie looked at the giant storks nesting on the cliffs of the sea of beliefs. Her heart bloomed, she felt appreciation and gratitude over Abalone’s Nature. She had spent so many years in the bog that it had infused her with the wisdom of the island. She had been able to go unharmed through the corridors of time, because she simply knew whenre to go.
As soon as they entered the Lion mouthed door, she had taken George’s hand and whispered : follow me and you’ll be safe. That man was so trusting in life and he had such a pure heart that he did as she said. He’d told her afterward that despite all the images and illusions, his mind was focused on the green light in his heart.
When they arrived in the central room of the pyramid, she had changed. Her skin was still green, but she had found in the corridors the years she had lost in the bog.
They had decided to stay and make a fresh start. The former King of Karmalott was now helping with the reconstruction of the entire island. With his natural leader talent, he’d been creating pooling teams of magi and non-magi for different tasks : clearing the ground of the fallen cities, regrouping the lost souls, soothing the injured and building the new transitional Spas. With Gwinnie’s innate knowledge of Abalone and his innate trust, they could do marvels at bending beliefs and reality.
Actually, the transitional spa was Rene and Fanella’s idea. The two of them had been very helpful, especially since Gwinnie had repaired the sphinx. He was created to guard the temple and warn people who wanted to enter the labyrinth of time with an enigma. The corridors of time were not for the faint of heart, but to help people contact their inner knowledge to grow past their fears and blockages. What his creators had not foreseen was their own departure of the island. Rene was attached to the temple and left behind as they took no material possessions with them.
His flaw was that he needed people, and as no one was coming anymore, with time he became obsessed with the idea of making new friends. Forgetting his other duties and his connection to the timeline of Abalone, his obsession leaked and the island was thrust through time and space, intersecting with earth reality at specific dates and places. It was becoming more and more difficult to control it and the bogs anomalies were becoming harder to contain.
Fanella simply recognized Rene as the tall ebony man in her vision. She told them the yellow man, that had saved her from drowning, had disappeared quickly as soon as they entered the labyrinth, but the hook-legged man had seized her and they were caught in the most horrid nightmares. She was saved because his hook got stuck in a tiger slug pit. Rene swore he had nothing to do with it, although it was clear he had a soft spot for the young maid.
A week after they got out of the labyrinth, the girl had come to Gwinnie in the Garden of El Refugio. The green woman was helping with the introduction of new species of plants to Abalone’s circle of life.
“What is this plant ? “, asked Fanella.
“It is an okra. I’ve found it in the memories of one of the recently disengaged person from Earth.”
“The fruit has such an unusual shape.”
The silence that followed lasted for a few minutes. Gwinnie was focused on establishing a fulfilling symbiotic relationship between the plant and the island ecosystem, transforming one to acclimate the other and vice versa.
“How are your friends ?” asked the green woman.
“My friends ? Oh! They are good. Enjoying the spa and the new attractions.”
It was clear the young person had something in mind. Her loving glances to the sphinx during the last week had made it clear to everyone. The girl finally blurted it out.
“You know, Rene,” Fanella blushed as she said the name, “with the recent arrivals of transitioners, he’s got a lot of work for just one sphinx.”
“Oh! I’m sure he’s going to be just fine with that.”
“Yes, but, you know he’s been alone for such a long time.”
“Yes, Fanella?” Gwinnie stopped to look at the girl. She seemed frail, but she had this inner strength that helped her cross time and space before she ever came to Abalone.
“I want you to make me a sphinx so that I can be with Rene.” She said that without blushing, but pink colored her cheeks at the mention of the name.
If Gwinnie ever had a doubt of being in transition, it was dissipated. Her surprise almost broke the delicate connection of the okra with the island.
Becoming a sphinx wasn’t a trivial request. They still had to discuss about it, of course, and when it was obvious it wasn’t just a passing fancy, Fanella was granted her wish.
As a sphinx-wedding gift, George gave her his wings.
“They are robust and will serve you well”, he told her.
The P’hope could be seen everywhere: leading the Builders to work double shifts to strengthen the collapsing structures of the flying City, exhorting the Magi to contain the failing beliefs of people back to virtuous resilience by ways of special masses held throughout Karmalott, and ensuring with the Sentries that all tremors of civil unrest was properly contained and the ring leaders properly admonished into good conduct.
The situation at the secret political prison known as Gazalbion was alarming. With most of the dangerous interlopers free to roam Abalone, and no walls to contain new prisoners, it could take a while to rebuild its walls, and the P’hope didn’t have the luxury of time on his side. It meant that no civil and belief dissidents could be brought there at the moment, and any spark of disobedience could spread like wildfire.
The P’hope dreaded what could happen if, despite all the efforts, the beanstalk was beyond repair. He knew his faltering belief in it could only hasten its fate, but even so, he wanted to be ready for the worst.
Considering the limited amount of rescue storks which were available off the walls of the city, it was likely that the result would be of apocalyptic proportion. Nevertheless, he refused to consider evacuating for the moment, even knowing it would take days for those on foot to climb down the bean’s tendrils.
Especially, as he was now in the perfect position to be the hero of the day.
He had been robbed of his share of light many, many years ago.
At the time, a young boy had arrived from the sea and from an outside world to Abalone. Jube, who was not yet the P’hope, was a striving leader of a group of survivors of the island. The bog’s dangerous and foggy emanations and its wild life were a threat of all instants, and he had soon realized there was strength in numbers. Many lost souls had gathered, but didn’t have the strength on their own to remain focused on a reality they wanted, a dream made reality.
He, Jube the Brave, had such strength in himself. But even so, they were only less than a few dozens of men and women in the camp, and the reach of what they could create was only good enough to sustain them for short periods of time.
But the boy named George had arrived from afar, and things had changed gradually. Jube had found out pretty quickly that the boy had the great potential to bring people together, and hold their beliefs like a mighty rope made of the thinnest of strands of hair. So he had offered to mentor him, while at the same time working his words into suggestions, and shaping the boy’s future to fit his own dreams.
That’s how the beanstalk started. The first sprouts were so tiny and frail, but the more people came and believed in the leadership of the one who was to become their King, the more it grew, and lifted them above the clouds and the fog of their minds.
Years had passed, Prince George became King Artie as another suggestion of the P’hope which had the side-effect to cloak Artie from his memories. The P’hope grew in power, always in the shadows however.
For a while, people were happy. Truly happy. But progress was inevitable, consciousness had to move and grow, otherwise their dream of a City would have been another foggy and soul-numbing projection of their feeble minds.
The first real threat happened when Abalone, in one of its inexplicable changes of time and space, drew to them a stranger. True to their principles, they had welcomed her, nursed her, and given her a place of choice in the Magi’s ranks despite her young age. But she could see clearly between the cracks and the varnish of order. Worse, she could see the P’hope’s intentions were not so pure.
So it become soon apparent to Jube that the young Gwinie had to disappear, and her followers had to be contained. For the sake of the great Karmalott, and to shield everyone from the impending chaos, the same chaos they had came from victorious many years ago.
He and his minions had struck in a very swift and coordinated movement. Gwinie was tragically lost in the bog during her rite of passage. A truce was arranged with her followers, and they were allowed a concession, with enough resources to survive. They ultimately built Gazalbion, which also became, in a mutual arrangement, a political prison for Karmalott, unknown to virtually everyone in the City. The Processor, one of Gwinie’s former followers, was glad to receive prisoners who would add to the strength and mass beliefs of his encampment. The P’hope in return, was glad to be rid of difficult problems.
That was so long ago, but it rang like a warning from no further than yesterday.
They had never found out what the old temple’s ruins were for, or by which civilization before them they were built. They were as old as the island itself, and seemed to be doomed, full of an ominous power he couldn’t and feared to harness. If anything else failed, he would go back there. Maybe that was his only solution.
When the bubble of air popped open, and the veil of mist lifted, all the birds woke up excited and rushed out to taste the 2222 fishes and for some of them, to enjoy cracking macadamia nuts with their beaks shut.
Among them, Huhu the parrot felt its brain change in a weird brainwave he’d experienced before.
It knew what needed to be done next.
Surreptitiously, Huhu crept on the vines covering the floating mess that was the galleon, very slowly, in the direction of the Captain’s cabin, where the Captain’s treasures were kept. A heap of rubbish really, mostly gathered on various of Peter’s visits inland —broken shells of attractive and incomprehensible forms, shiny mother-of-pearl squiggles and brightly colored beads of various materials, former sea trash sanded down to their round form by the power of the elements, and left bereft of any hint of their man-made origin.
The second key was there, next to the window, with a faint metal shine on its brushed surface, laid in the middle of an array of strange metal objects, most of which were rusted and unrecognizable, old keys as well maybe, or virtually anything else.
On a schedule, Huhu, swiftly assessed that no other prying eye was looking his way, and that Peter’s ghost form was softly blinking in a snoring fashion, then leapt on the table, snatched the precious key, and flew out of the window to join Irina at the rendez-vous point on a particular rock off the shores of 2222, Big Island, where she was sunbathing in her mermaid costume, while Mr R was close too, in his octopus suit, and as well, on a mission…
She dreams she is learning to fly. Over a green field with a band of trees to her left and a field of grazing cows to her right. Endless blue sky above. Nobody else in sight. She isn’t very high from the earth and she isn’t very fast. Her arms are outstretched for balance as she wobbles forward. It is exhilarating, but she is still glad there is no one but the cows to witness these first clumsy attempts.
She wakes and hugs her dream tightly. Going over the details so she will remember them later before she slips back into sleep.
It was 5:22am. Still over an hour before her antiquated alarm clock was due to go off; the clock was a relic she clung to more because she thought it looked cool on the shelf than for any practical reason. Sadie decided to get up anyway and use the extra time for meditating. She had a tough assignment ahead of her that day in Marseille and a bit of extra inner peace certainly wouldn’t go amiss.
Sadie worked as a private contractor for the HTB or Happiness Training Bureau. Their motto was Transit umbra, lux permeant. Roughly translated that meant Shadow passes, light remains. Nobody in the bureau knew who said it, although some sources attributed it to Ericis V Lemonista, the renowned scholar and educational reformer.
Aqua Luna’s duster was stuck in Cornella’s keyboard. She was still struggling to free it without paying too much attention to the screen. The red symbols blinking on the maps would have confused her, she would not have understood their meaning or the significance of the buttons she inadvertently pushed in her struggle. She has grown in the countryside, at a time where there was no internet available. She barely used her Oopia telepooh her daughter offered her a few years ago. The truth was she didn’t know how to take the call, even after her son in-law, showed her. Richard, that was his name. “He got the face’s name” she thought imagining the rag was a hair in his nose.
“I got it!” she exulted, pushing unknowingly the key combination to lock the session again. She returned the keyboard to its former position just as Cornella arrived.
“Oh! Thank you Aqua, you’re such a sweetie.”
The cleaning lady who didn’t really understood English put on her talk-to-my-hand smile. And left the room. She would clean the other desks later, she needed a break.
Cornella’s voice stormed out.
“What the heck! There has been a breach in the artifact chamber!”
But Aqua Luna wasn’t paying attention, it was like French to her. She was rather wishing she could taking one of those red limo to go back to her place. The Chicks always used them to go everywhere, but Aqua had to take the public transportation system. That wasn’t fair.
She sneaked into the garage, not aware of the camera system or the alarm system. Tony, one of the chauffeurs was there.
Actually, the mindful reader would be glad to know that Waakaawaakawaawaawaawaawaawaawahuhun (or Wakawah-thirtyfour’n) wasn’t quite as safe as its almost twin city Wookoowookawoowoowoowoowoowoohoohoon (or Wookoowooh-thirty-fiv’n), both lying actually quite close for a bird, or a dragon, anchored at the bottom and at each of the sides of the same mountain.
While the former’s only attraction was the Kangrawaakaas’ Stadium with its weekly games of morbidly obese people hurling in the mud, the latter was known for its ski resorts and snow trance delixtacies in makeshift melloow yelloow yurts. Of course, W35N benefited from the better sunlight exposure, which made every dweller in the W34N hamlet fiercely jealous of its being favoured by all tourists passing by, while they (they thought) should be instead commanded for their bravery and perseverance.
Meanwhile, Landelin was perfecting his blubbit duct-tape traps.
Landelin was a quite reclusive man, some Peaslanders considered him even a bit mentally challenged with a reputation for having teafing as a secondary hobby. Yes, secondary. Before teafing, came duct tape ; duct tape always came first.
Landelin had been fond of duct tape since he was a kid, since he’d glued his first nanny to the cellar door and then went off buying more duct tape at the local grocery store with the money he’d teafed from her. Teafing always came second.
Plagued as all Peaslanders with blubbits, he’d reasoned, quite reasonably for someone as mentally challenged as him, that blubbits were like worries and warts (and he knew quite a bit about the former and the latter), and none could stand a chance if administered the right amount of duct tape. By right amount, he meant, as much as needed to cover them in silver linings and eventually, maybe erradicate them —but that was a bit besides the point anyway.
Pity there wasn’t more than a few blue pelts’ hair to teaf from a blubbit, he thought quite reasonably again, as his last prototrap worked like a charm and had a few blubbits suffocating under a fair amount of stickiness.
Well, from blubbits, perhaps not so much, but from Peaslanders waiting for naught but a savior, maybe… After all the other treatments have failed, they surely would turn, as they all do, willingly or forcibly, to the raw power of taping.
The sky was most unusual. Something definitely weird was happpening.
Yann was looking at a TV show in which a clown was trying to juggle with his clothes.
Yann switched off the tv set and chose to go the cat in her basket.
“There you are!”
“Good very Good.”
Taking deep puffs of his pipe, he looked like a botle green velvet sofa, and that, combined with the crazy Baron of the nearby village, was the surest way of being left alone.
“The curious police want to know the details?” asked the Baron
“Not really … well now you make me think of it .. I reckon a bit.”
“ahahahahaha!” the manic laughter was infectious. Strange bugs were dancing. little dark skinned performers, tickling like an army of ants.
Rather than laughing, he’d taken a moment to consider the options. Obviously he couldn’t refuse help as his business had recently been pregnant, giving birth to conjoined twins.
So to speak.
I don’t remember dreams at all unfortunately, she confided, her voice lowered. But, on the bright side, the DMT I have been taking is helping me to see aliens and little people.
Her close friend Harvey Norman, circus performer and proxy dreamer in his spare time, nodded distractedly, not really listening. He was more concerned at that moment with investigating any visible damage to his precious nose. Freakin heck! a freakin oven! what would the producers come up with next?
Oh you know what! she continued, unperturbed by Harvey’s lack of attention. I’m pregnant! I’m so excited. I have a name picked and everything. I am going to call it Essence. The Fellowship said I could pick it up next week!
Oh yeah? The Fellowship said next week? That’s pretty cool. Didn’t know you were after a baby. They are a bit hard to come by now aren’t they? So who is the father donor?
None other than the great Col Umbro himself! She smiled proudly, anticipating the effect her words would have. She was not disappointed.
Wow! Col Umbro! The Zebra! Harvey stopped the investigation of his nose in order to shake his head in disbelief. How did YOU manage that?
Oh, well you know last week when I had that interview with Ann Tattler? you know, the crazy author who doesn’t write any more, just listens?
Harvey noodded and roolled his eyes disparagingly. Used to be Elizabeth right? yeah sure, who hasn’t heard of her… so, go on …
Well, HE was there, and he suggested I ask him some questions, you know to assess my suitability for the position. Somehow, by some freakin miraculous fluke, I managed to get the questions in the right order .. he is a bit obsessed with the whole order thing …. but I didn’t know that till after … so anyway, he was so impressed with my obvious brilliance that he offered to father a baby for me!
Harvey, rendered momentarily speechless, shook his head again. He had never had much time for babies himself, although appreciated that some people were into
Yeah, I know what you mean, she said, reading his thoughts. Actually I am not sure if I have really thought it through. I might have got caught up in the whole thrill of the moment thing … to be honest, I don’t know if little Essence will fit into my lifestyle. I am supposed to be going to Asgard next week …
Asgard? Really, can you still get through? I thought the bridge was crumbling?
oh really! bugger! … Oh but anyway I am thinking of giving little Essence to my cousin Aspidistra. She is such a funny old thing with her strange glowing skin. A little baby to care for could do her the world of good.
Siobhan was settling into her new job at the Freakus, fitting like a duck to water into her position as Head Cage Rattler. It wasn’t an easy job to do which was why the rewards were so high; it certainly wasn’t everyones cup of tea, and good Cage Rattlers were hard to find. Oh, there were plenty of Cage Rattlers, true, but not good ones. A good Cage Rattler had to have a certain “je ne say kwah”, an impermeability, much like the oily feathers of a duck, enabling the Cage Rattler to glide easily through troubled waters without sinking ~ without even getting wet, if they were very skilled.
The success of the Freakus show depended on new ideas and inspirations. The audience, as well as the participants of course, wanted something new, something challenging, something inspiring, something ‘out of the box’ for each show, not the same old boring routines. There was nothing entertaining about the same old tricks rehashed over and over again, even if they were well known and easy to perform. True, there were many of the general public who preferred the familiar acts, but they generally weren’t fans of the innovative and forward thinking Freakus show. Freakus was new, exciting, thought provoking and entrancingly different, hence the importance of the Cage Rattlers.
When the performers and cast members of Freakus got too complacent or too boring, it was Siobhan’s job to disturb them, to rattle their cages, yes, to upset them. Clearly it was undeniably important that Siobhan not take their retaliations personally; after all, she was just doing her job. She was shaking things up purposefully for the overall benefit of the show, it was a simple as that. It wasn’t her job to direct or lead those in the rattled cages, simply to disturb them from their boring old routines. Freakus, after all, wasn’t about the old and boring, it was about the new and exciting, and it was up to the individual performers to come up with a new act.
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