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    Aunt Idle:

    I couldn’t offer Sanso a drink, as there wasn’t a drop of anything in my room, so I sent him down to the dining room to get a bottle of gin, and a couple of glasses of ice. I was a bit reluctant to let him out of my bedroom at such an early stage of the proceedings, but felt he was a man of his word when he assured me (with an engaging twinkle) that of course he’d be back, in just two shakes of a mongooses tail. Odd expression if you ask me, but then, where does he come from? Hard to say. He had a slight accent, but it was impossible to pin down to a location, and it had a changeable quality, too.

    He wasn’t gone long, and said that the only person who’d seen him was Prune, but that was inevitable, he said. That kid sees everything! She’d be a fount of valuable information, if she didn’t put such a unique spin on everything.

    I sat on the bed, and he sat in the wicker chair by the window, and after we’d clunked glasses and said cheers, he came right out and asked me what my mission was. Well! Mission? I asked. I’d never really thought about it in terms of a mission. Then a funny thing happened. I could hear myself speaking but hadn’t thought about what to say, you know how it is sometimes.

    I said, “my mission is a glorious infinite wandering, threading multicoloured silken skeins of clues and riddles, people and places, weaving them in and out of time and to each other…”

    Sanso laughed. “He said “That’s my mission, too!” and we raised our glasses in honour of that, and then he got serious. No, not like that. I mean, he started going on about the mines, and how we really had no time to lose because there were two daft tarts in extreme danger down there, and they needed rescuing. I rolled my eyes as you can imagine. I’d already started semi reclining in anticipation.

    “It’ll be fun,” he said.


    “So, ‘ow we going to find ‘im then, Glor?” asked Sharon, taking a slurp of thick muddy-looking tea. “Ow! That’s too bloody hot. I’m going to ‘ave another word with the Matron about that Nurse, I am.”

    “You do that, Sha. Nurse Trassie wasn’t it?”

    Sharon nodded and pursed her lips tightly. “Bloody uppity tart. We bloody pay enough to be ‘ere, I reckon. They should get the tea bloody right.” Her eyes narrowed menacingly. “ Anyway, she’ll keep. So,‘ow we going to find ‘im then, Glor?”

    “Whose that then, Shar? Oh, you mean the doctor who does the beauty treatments? I’d forget my bloody ‘ead if it weren’t screwed on, wouldn I!”

    Gloria scratched her head vigorously, perhaps checking it was still there, before taking a moment to examine her fingernails.

    “Wot’d Mavis say then?” she asked at last. “When you did that texting thing to ‘er?”

    “‘Ere let me find my phone and I’ll read it out loud to you. Oh, blimey, ‘ave you seen my glasses, Glor?”

    Gloria’s generous curves wobbled and gyrated as she convulsed into fits of laughter.

    “They’re on yer bloody ‘ead!” she said pointing and gasping for breath. “Oh, I nearly peeed myself, ya blimmen muppet!”

    “Thanks, Glor. Wot I’d do without you, I don’t bloody know. Don’t mean to make you pee yerself though. It’s ‘ard enough getting them nurses to give out them extra thick pantyliners. Blimmin uppity tarts. Expecially that Nurse Trassie. Anyway, she’ll keep.”

    Sharon peered at her phone. “Mavis says: Wot a bloody brainwave! I need a makeover for my new fella!!’ LOL! “ She frowned. “Wot’s that word mean, LOL, Glor?”

    “Oh, it’s text talk. The younguns talk like that now and our Mavis always did like to keep up with trends. Lots of lust it means. That saucy cow!”

    “She always was a saucy one that, Mavis! Look at us stuck in ‘ere and ‘er with a new fella. Lucky sod. Maybe after our beauty treatment, we might get us a new fella too.”

    “I don’t know ‘ow we’re going to track down the Doctor though, Shar. I don’t know ‘ow we’re going to track him down when we’re stuck in this bleedin’ ‘ole.” Gloria shoulders shook and she began to sob loudly.

    “There, there, Glor. Don’t cry,” said Sharon, rubbing her friend’s back. “They’ll put you on more bloody pills if you cry. Oh! I know wot will cheer you up!”

    “Wot’s that then,” asked Gloria, sniffing loudly into her hanky.

    “I’ve ‘ad one of my bloody brainwaves!”

    “I knew you would, Shar! You’ve always ‘ad brains. I’m all agog!”

    “We’ll get Mavis to go to the papers! Put in an advert to find ‘im!”

    “You’re a blimmin genius, you are, Shar!”


    “Do you remember when we ‘ad those beauty treatments with that nice doctor, Sha?”

    “Oh, I do, Glor! You looked that drop dead gorgeous! You turned ‘eads.”

    “So did you, Sha! You were a stunner!”

    “Wot was ‘is name again? That doctor?”

    Mavis will know. Why don’t you send ‘er one of those text thingammybobs everyone does nowadays and find out.”

    “Good idea, Glor! Oh, you know wot!”

    “Wot Sha? Tell me? I’m all agog. ‘Ave you ‘ad one of your bloody brainwaves?”

    “I ‘ave! I’ve ‘ad a bloody brainwave … Let’s go for another beauty treatment with him! A touch up sort of thing!”

    “Oh, Sha. Oh Sha! I’ve been rendered bloody speechless at your engineuity!”

    “Wot was that girl’s name? You know, quite bossy … wot was she called again?”

    “Oh, I know who you mean? bloody bossy tart, wasn’t she. And we tried so ‘ard to help ‘er.”

    “We did. No bloody gratitude. Virginia, was it? Started with a ‘V’ I reckon.”

    “Tip of my tongue, it is. I’m that excited about your bloody idea … I can’t remember my own name, let alone ‘er name!”


    For a moment, Granola felt in a dream world. It wasn’t the first time it happened, so she relaxed, and let her consciousness focus despite the distraction from the shimmering and vibrating around the objects and people.

    She was in another mental space, but this one was more solid, not just a diversion born from a single thought or a single mind. It was built in layers of cooperation, alignment, and pyramid energy. A shared vision, although at times, a confused one.

    The first time she’d visited, she thought it was a fun fantasy, like a dream, quickly enjoyed and discarded. But then she would come back at times, and the fantasy world continued to expand and feel lively.

    It slowly dawned on her that this was a projection of an old project of her friends. The more striking was how people in the place looked a bit like Maeve’s dolls, but she could see the other’s imprints —Shaw-Paul’s, Lucinda’s and Jerk’s—, subtle energy currents driving the characters and animating everything.

    It felt like a primordial fount of creativity, and she basked in the glorious feeling of it.

    Once, she got trapped long enough to start exploring the “place” in and out, and it all became curiouser when she found out that the places and the stories they told were all connected through a central underground stream.
    Granola had been an artist most of her life, so she understood how creativity worked. Before she died, she had been intrigued the first time her online friends had mentioned this collaboration game, creating that mindspace filled with their barmy stories. She didn’t believe such pure mental creation could be called real at all.
    Maybe that was the kind of comments that let her friends forget it.
    If only she could tell them now!

    “You could, if you’d hone your pop-in skills, dear”, a random character suddenly turned to her and spoke in the voice of Ailill, her blue mentor.
    “But how can you see me? I’ve tried and the characters of these stories don’t ever see me!”
    “That’s what popping in is all about, justly so!” Ailill had this way of making her mind race for a spin.
    “Now, will you stop hijacking this person, and tell me why you’re interrupting my present mission?” Granola turned burgundy red, increased her typeface a few notches, and pushed her ghost leg vigorously at the story character.
    “Oh, you are right about that. It is a mission.” he smiled, “I think you’d want to go find certain characters, or avatars. Your friends personae are always shifting into new characters, but they hide themselves and don’t progress. Actually, some of them are trapped in loops, and those loops are not happily ever after. You can help free them, so they can recover their trapped creativity.”
    “Well, that doesn’t sound like an impossibly vague mission at all!”

    She was about to continue ranting, but the pop-in effect was gone, and the character was back to his routine, unperturbed by her ghostly agitation.


    Liz, who had been out in the garden, waxing lyrical about the glorious sun for this time of year, the colours of the flowers and at the same time regaling Roberto with tales of the places she had been, paled when she noticed Paul Anna writing notes into his phone.

    She stopped dead in her tracks.

    “It’s that powerful journalist, Paul Anna! I can’t possibly do an interview now!” she hissed at Roberto, “I’ve not even unpacked my case … I don’t have any clean clothes! Where is that maid .. what’s her name … Glynis? Oh no, that’s not right. Ah, Finnley!”

    Liz looked frantically around.

    “Here I am. All ears, as per usual,” said Finnley.

    Finnley!” Liz hissed. “It’s time to do some work for a change. Get me out of this interview and make no bones about it!”

    “Oh okay, If i must,” said Finnley. She had been looking forward to the interview. She well remembered the last interview when Inspector Olliver had come to question Liz over the missing maid in the suitcase misadventure. Most entertaining.

    She cleared her throat dramatically. “Oh Madam Liz!” she said loudly. “Your Great Aunt Lottie is on the phone and it’s very urgent indeed.”


    In reply to: Mandala of Ascensions


    Frowning, Dispersee pondered the latest impulse and hesitated before including it in her report. The imagery had shifted from pools, to bubbles, to vapourous mist rising in shafts of sunlight, which sounded dangerously akin to ascending into the light, and that would never do. There was already far too much mumbo jumbo circulating about ascension and light, and altogether too many people sitting around on gluten free arses, ignoring everything, waiting for the shifted salt free shaft of the rapture to beam them up to the higher realms.

    No, it was no good, she couldn’t possibly share the new imagery, it would be misconstrued and counterproductive. Dispersee waited for the next strange impulse, and further clues.

    She didn’t have to wait long: the next morning, seized by another compulsion, she slipped out of the house into the dense swirling fog. Normally a big fan of bright contrast and intense colours, the diffused monochrome scenes were somehow restful to her senses. Water droplets danced in the air like common eye floaters, gathering on her skin and hair, wetting her as effectively as a dunk in a pool, but without the sudden shock of a plunge. It was insidious, almost sneaky, the way the mist pretended to be air but was mostly water. The fog connected everything in its path with its swarms of moisture droplets, drenching everything. Dispersee wondered if her wellington boot had sprung a leak as her left sock became coldly saturated, but it was the rivulets of clinging fog dribbling down her trouser leg.

    The bucolic scenery in shades of grey reminded her of the common phrase “it’s not black and white” which had been much bandied about of late. No, it’s not, she mused, it’s shades of reflected dispersed fluid, masquerading as spaces and solid matters. Poised to take a snapshot of a particularly large dewdrop which was reflecting an interesting twisted sapling, Dispersee blundered into the stalk of the plant, causing a furious shivering along the stems and seed pods. She watched with a feeling akin to fascinated horror as the glorious individual droplets merged into a channel of least resistance, spilling down in streams to gather in the mud.


    Flanella decided to give Glustave the slip. He was welcome to Blea and Clonsuela, she had her eye on Iglor and Bloris.

    “That’s your flucking flault, Lal” Becky said tartly.


    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


    red bag looking party
    tried ancient wonder
    met gloria
    sometimes wait dark
    herself key fresh explore
    finly story heat comes check


    In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


    Mother Shirley, the head of the Covenant, was smoking in her private capsule despite the strict restrictions and despite the health risks, at her ripe age of 99.

    She liked to quip that nobody had ever told her what to not do and lived to say the tale. She had smoked since age 45, after the death of her third husband, the only one she had shed a tear for. Never turned back since, and maybe it was the reason she was still alive after all. Smoked like a mighty salmon.

    She grinned painfully at her reflection. Ugh. Despite all the beauty treatments, she was starting to look like a decrepit mummy. No amount of wariki body butter and ant royal geel would do the trick now. She had to resort to more extreme measures after no doctor would dare to try a peeling on what skin was left on her face.

    The acrylic mask was always prickly at first, and took a few uncomfortable seconds to adjust. It was now firmly set, and sure, it restrained a bit the movements on her face,… well, she was never one for laughs out loud anyway.

    With her shaking scrawny arms, but her grip strong as ever, she attached the limbs of her exoskeleton, and with now more assurance, finished to dress in proper garments on top of her fishnet corset.

    She was all set for the morning sermon. She would have to strain her voice a bit, and for that the smoke had helped too. She had a lovely raucousness in her vocal chords that made all the old farts of the Covenant thrilled by what she said in hypnotic stances.

    After that would be done, most importantly, they would go forth to the promised land, and she was to spend her glorious next century on a new empty planet she could mould to her vision.


    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.


    Sharon, Gloria and Mavis continued to transition at various locations on the island, making very little progress in linear terms with belief shedding, as they were having so much fun conjuring up handsome Russian men, and then disappearing them when they were done.


    “They said seventeen seconds, but I never would have believed it! Did you see that?”
    “Seventeen seconds to barbecue a fish that size? Take a bit longer than that, Sha” replied Gloria.
    Sharon rolled her eyes and turned to Mavis. “See that, our Mavis? See how that fish landed right on our barbecue?”
    “Another trick out of that book you’ve been reading, was it?” Mavis replied. “Not bad really, but why were you asking for a fish? None of us like fish.”
    “Ah, well….I wasn’t asking for a fish exactly, no. But the way it landed seventeen seconds from when I changed my energy, well…”
    Gloria rolled her eyes and yawned. “When you work it out, I’m sure you’ll let us know. What did you ask for, anyway?”
    Sharon blushed. “Remember that hot Russian guy I had a dream about the other night?”
    Mavis and Gloria looked at the fish, looked at each other, and burst out laughing. They were still laughing when Igor landed in the strawberry pool just a few feet away from where they were sitting, soaking them to the skin. The barbecue took a direct hit from the pink deluge, and hissed.
    Igor took a deep breath and dived under the water as Sharon staggered into the pool, while Mavis and Gloria hooted from the shore.


    Rene has been lonely. He stopped counting the centuries long ago, long after his creators had left Abalone. Long before the first settlers arrived and began to plant seeds of discord. He had been appointed by his creator to be the guardian of the threshold. He had long forgotten what it meant. He only wanted friends.

    When the first humans arrived, it seemed that they could be great friends. But they didn’t see the beauty of the temple, only its ruin. Which was sad, very sad. And so Rene stood alone in the old temple, the new temple, the middle aged temple, depending on the time corridor he took.

    Now, for the first time in eons, people were on their way to the temple. He would meet them with might and glory. He seemed to remember that most humans revered unicorns as symbol of purity and fairy tails, at least that’s what Rene heard from the mind of one of the newcomers. Lost in between aphids, Jack and asses. He didn’t know who was Jack. Anyway, he had chosen his sphinx shape. Rene would be a unicorn.


    “How about this one, it looks like one of them safari parks or petting zoos” said Sharon, pointing to a photograph of El Refugio in the Abalone blurb.
    “Those little cabins look cosy” agreed Gloria. “And all them animals to take photos of.”
    “On the coast too, the beach looks nice,” added Mavis. “Are we all agreed then? Shall I book the flight?”


    “…you will find out that the island named Abalone has some unexpectedly aware people tucked away in secluded pockets of their own dreamlike experiences…”
    “Oooh, I like the sound of that one, Sha, and it looks like it’s got plenty of attractions and theme parks; we might get bored with the secluded pockets.” Gloria replied.


    “It’s been years since we ‘ad a bloody ‘oliday Glor, fancy a nice vacation somewhere?”
    Sharon and Gloria were watching a documentary about changing landscapes ~ lakes appearing in the desert, islands emerging out of the sea, giant holes appearing in the tundra, rivers coursing along new and unexpected routes and other such things that were appearing with increasing regularity. So much so, in fact, that there was enough material to have a weekly programme on the topic. It was Gloria and Sharon’s favourite show, and they always made a point of sitting down together to watch it.
    “Oooh I dunno, Shar, me back’s always playing up these days, what if I ‘ad a bad turn in some foreign place miles from anywhere?”
    Sharon nodded in sympathy. “I know what you mean, it’s like me and my night turns. I have to get up in the night and eat ice cream and walk about a bit, bit awkward when you’re away.”
    “Like me and my stomach” piped up Mavis, poking her head round the door.
    “What oh, our Mavis! Didn’t ‘ear you come in. How about you, fancy an ‘oliday?”
    “Wouldn’t dare, not with my stomach, I have to have special foods, and what if I had a trapped wind while I was in a strange place with nowhere to go?”
    “Listen to us!” shouted Sharon, suddenly standing up and glaring at her friends. “Just listen to us, will yer? What’s become of us!”
    “Age?” asked Mavis drily.
    “Are we washed up then, over the hill, is that it, is it? Too old for a bloody holiday? Well, I tell you, I’m not done yet, oh no! I’m going on a holiday, even if I have to go on my own!”
    “Calm down, Sha, bit emotional, int yer?”
    Sharon sank down onto the sofa again, and replied quietly, “I been thinking about it a lot just lately. Wondering where my get up and go went. We used to do so much more!” She looked imploringly at her friends. “We was always off galivanting and ‘aving adventures.”
    “Yeah, and remember what you said after the last one? Never again?” Mavis reminded her.
    “I think she’s right,” Gloria piped up. “I think we should give it a go. What’s the worst thing that could ‘appen? And what difference does it make where it ‘appens?”


    Lisa awoke first, sticky with sweat. Quietly, she jiggled her leg which was dead from lack of circulation, letting the others sleep. There may not be much time for rest, she reasoned, we know not what the next chapter will bring, or where it will lead. She closed her eyes again, and contemplated the feeling of restriction, thinking about other times when she had felt restricted or blocked.

    There was that time when she joined the creative collaberative writing group many years ago, with the intention of developing a free flow of inspiration and imagination. Indeed that was what the advertising bumph had professed, that it was to assist people to release themselves from their writers blocks, unleash their imaginative potential, free their souls to express themselves unhindered by protocol or hidebound tradition. It had all seemed like just the ticket, just what she wanted, and she had dived into the project and gloried in the unexpected things that were born from simply letting the words flow. But then a strange thing started to happen. Every time she went to the class, her contributions were criticized, scoffed at for not following the plan, despite that there was no plan ~ no plan had been mentioned in the small print when she signed up, anyway. But other people had made plans for what she was to write, and it confused her greatly. It was troublesome because the more she enjoyed the process of writing itself, the more discouraging the group became with it’s constant criticisms of the right way to approach the process. Instead of promoting less restrictions, it was constantly advocating more restrictions, more rules to follow, endlessly complicating it all. What made it all the worse was that she so enjoyed it, looked forward to it, and benefited so much from it. Well, she had used the experience to practice not minding about other peoples opinions and to carry on regardless, not restricting herself to acquiesce to other peoples expectations, exploring her own stories and connecting links and layers with other stories ~ wasn’t that what life was all about? take what you want, and leave the rest? Steer your own ship?

    Her meandering thoughts led her to the words of the old dead guru, Elbutt. Love doesn’t mean liking every comment, he had said, Love means knowing and appreciating the whole story, the whole scenario. It didn’t mean you had to find something likable about each and every role, but to acknowledge and appreciate the whole and that the roles that were played within it were a part of that whole, regardless of whether you liked them or not. That definition of love had made a great deal of sense to Lisa, who was not one to use the love word overmuch.

    A cockroach climbing on her foot distracted Lisa from her thoughts, and she absentmindedly brushed it off. The cockroach was not deterred, and returned to climb on her foot repeatedly until Lisa suddenly remembered Pseu. The cockroach, once it was sure it had Lisa’s attention, scurried out into the courtyard adjoining the Processing department waiting room, stopping on a manhole cover, and then returning to Lisa’s foot, and then returning to the manhole cover.

    “Are we to go down there?” whispered Lisa, pretending to cough as a guard walked past. The cockroach did a pirouette as if to confirm. Lisa furtively looked around. The guard had gone; it was time to wake Ivan and Fanella.


    When Igor read about the three women, Gloria, Sharon and Mavis, he had a sudden inspiration that they were connected to the three maids in some way. Yes, surely there was a connecting link. Perhaps it would provide a clue, a direction to start his search. But what would Fanella be doing in a military hospital in Antarctica? It didn’t sound like a good place to be, but it did sound like a marvellous place to be rescued from. Igor closed the book with a decisive snap. Snap! he exclaimed. The SNAP projection technique will get me there, thank goodness I read about that on the loo this morning.


    Without Mirabelle and Lisa around, trying to encourage her all the time but succeeding merely in making her feel harassed, Fanella had relaxed enough to achieve a remarkable degree of success with her teleport and projection practice. Projecting had been easy enough actually, but a full teleport was another matter. But she was encouraged by her successes with the projections, and the few seconds of full body teleporting here and there that she had managed.
    Her attempts to return to her original physical focus timeframe had been futile; there were mental and emotional blocks and too much associated baggage getting in her way, and her lack of a specific intention with other timeframes had led not unsurprisingly to random times and places which had been unsettling ~ at times alarming ~ resulting in her finding herself back where she started in no time at all.
    Fanella decided to pick a date and a location and be firm about it and unwavering.
    She chose a date and a location based on an old battered book she had found on the shelf in Lisa’s house. It was called Circle of Eights and Other Stories. Many a happy hour had she spent reading the book down by the river, a gloriously feast of imaginative tales, with no dull steadfast tiresome normal plot or structure. It had appealed to her greatly, and sparked many fantastic ideas and wonderings. She felt particularly attracted to the tale about the island in 2121, and decided to make that her specific teleport destination.


    The bright side is only the bright side because there is a shadowed side, soon to be revealed in all it’s mysterious glory and flowery nuances

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