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  • #6153
    Flove
    Participant

    “That horsetail has such long roots, otherwise I never would have dug so deep,” mused Clara. “Are you okay holding that end? Not too heavy for you?”

    Grandpa Bob grunted. The box was heavy—in more ways than one—but he wasn’t about to let Clara know he wasn’t up to it.

    “Let’s put it down there behind the lawn mower,” said Clara. “Do you think it will be safe there? We could cover it?” She ran her hand appreciatively over the shiny exterior  of the box; her fingers paused inquisitively at one end and she peered closely at the spot. “I think there is something here … an inscription or something!”

    “Probably just some old scratches,” muttered Grandpa Bob. He straightened up with a moan and rubbed his back.

    “No, look!” Clara was shining her phone torch at the area. “Look, it’s definitely letters of some sort. I’ll take a photo for Alienor!”

    #6117
    Tracy
    Participant

    Well. I did it. I made my escape. I had to! Nobody came for three days and I’d run out of biscuits. Thank the lord my hip wasn’t playing up. I decided not to take anything with me, figuring I could just steal things off washing lines when I wanted a change of clothes.  I’ve always hated carrying heavy bags.  I reckoned it would look less conspicuous, too. Just an old dear popping out for digestive perambulation. Nobody suspects old dears of anything, not unless they’re dragging a suitcase round, and I had no intention of doing that. I did put a couple of spare masks in my pocket though, you can’t be too careful these days. And it would help with the disguise.  I didn’t want any do gooders trying to catch me and take me back to that place.

    I had the presence of mind to wear good stout walking shoes and not my pink feather mules, even though it was a wrench to say goodbye to them.  I used to love to see them peeping out from under my bath robe. One day I might strike lucky and find another pair.

    I’ve been eating like a king, better than ever!  I accidentally coughed on someones burger one day, and they dropped it and ran away, and I thought to myself, well there’s an idea. I stuck to random snacks in the street at first and then one day I fancied a Chinese so I thought, well why not give it a try.   Coughed all over his brown bag of prawn crackers as he walked out of the restaurant and he put the whole takeaway in the nearest bin. Piping hot meal for six! Even had that expensive crispy duck!

    Tonight I fancy sushi.  Wish I’d thought of this trick years ago, I said to myself the other day, then my other self said, yeah but it wouldn’t have worked so well before the plague.

    Not having much luck with the washing lines though, lazy sods either not doing any laundry or putting it all in the dryer. Weeks of sunny weather as well, the lazy bastards.  Lazy and wasteful!  You should see the clothes they throw in the clothes bank bins!  If the bins are full you can get your arm in and pull out the ones on the top.  I change outfits a dozen times a day some days if I’m in the mood.   I do sometimes get an urge to keep something if I like it but I’m sticking to my guns and being ruthless about not carrying anything with me.

    #6071

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    Eric
    Keymaster

    “Listen” said Gabe, the cult leader. “How long have you been Gourd level? One year?”

    The other nodded.

    “See Gavin, I think you’re ready to go Operating Tomathetan.”

    Gavin gulped. “But, but… are you sure about such a leap? And… what about…”

    “Oh, don’t worry about him, the yielding of his crops has been written, and it’s not good. Better look toward the future Gavin. And let me ask you something, don’t you think about the future?”

    When the Great Leader Undisputed Gabe had spoken, it was customary to bow and continue listen, in case he wasn’t finished.

    “Is there anything more I can do you for, oh GLUG?”

    “Sure. Get me your proposal for the new organization of the crops. No rush. Tomorrow will be fine.”

    “Your great leaderness is too bountiful.”

    “Of course. Now scram, I have rituals to attend to.” And with that, Great Leader Undisputed Gabe made a hasty retreat into the inner sanctum with his favourite vestal priestess of the moment.

    :fleuron:

    Gavin was flummoxed. It had all been foretold by the heretic Basil. He wondered, should he consult him? The weight of this sudden assignment felt heavy on his shoulders. He wondered how he could solve the mountain of problems that had accumulated like horse shit on a pile of manure.

    :fleuron:

    “You’ll see, it’s all connected.” Star signaled Tara when they were ushered into the inner sanctum. “I’m sure all the trail of clues have led to this for a reason. Have I told you about my theories about multiple timelines and probable selves? Maybe the Vince who called us called us from a different probability…”

    “You probably right, but that nurse outfit is really too tight.” Tara wiggled impatiently on her chair.

    “AH! There you are!” a manly voice behind them. “Welcome, welcome, young fresh divine sprouts.”

    “Did he call us prouts?” Tara almost tittered. “Sshtt” Star elbowed her.

    Gabe took a while to observe them, then made a face. “Not the freshest batch I had, I must admit, but that should do.”

    He clapped his hands, and a woman entered. “Get those two well anointed, and prepared in the art of leafing.”

    Tara and Star looked at each other with an air of utter incomprehension on their faces, but decided unanimously to just go with the flow. Who knows, if all was indeed connected, it would probably bring them one step closer to Uncle Basil and the solving of mysterious comatose Vince.

    #5955
    Jib
    Participant

    It wasn’t such a bad day, thought Olliverand it might even be a good day. The birds are singing, we saw a boar and a few deers already. Animals are getting back and they don’t seem to fear the humans so much.

    Rukshan was walking first and Fox was following him with a heavy backpack. Tak and Nesy were mostly playing around and marvelling at everything their path crossed. Olliver envied their innocence, the innocence he had lost not so long ago.

    Except the animals and the two guards they had to hide from, the day had mostly been uneventful and Olliver’s mind was wandering off into the mountain where he could feel useful and strong. He felt strangely blissed and suddenly had the impulse to walk toward a patch of yellow flowers.

    “STOP! Pay attention where you walk,” said Rukshan. “Come back to your left two feet and walk straight. I told you to follow my every steps.”

    “Okay, uncle Ruk!” said Olliver a bit ashamed to have been caught not paying attention.

    “I don’t understand,” said the Fae. “Glynis’s potion doesn’t seem to work for you. The aetherical tentacles around the traps don’t seem to detect us but only you, and you also seem susceptible to their power to attract you. It’s not the first time I had to warn you.”

    The Fae could see the etherical traps and especially the free flowing tentacles or the tension lines attached to trees, stones, wooden posts, anything that would cross a trail at different heights. With the potions they should be impervious to detection and affections by the traps. Olliver hadn’t thought that far. He had thought that by following them he could manage not to be caught. Right now, he feared more Rukshan’s piercing eyes than the traps. He looked at Fox involuntarily.

    “It’s my fault,” said Fox looking a bit contrite. Sweat was pearling on his face. “It’s becoming too dangerous for Olli so I must confess something.” He put his heavy bag on the floor and opened it and a dwarf’s head peered timidly out.

    “Ohh!” said Tak and Nesy together. They looked rather happily surprised but looked at Rukshan’s waiting for the storm.

    “Are we already there?” asked Gorrash, his face rendered a bit red by the lack of breathable air in the bag. When he saw the anger on Rukshan’s face he stopped talking.

    “By the fat belly of the giants! What made you do such a stupid thing?”

    “We thought that it would be enough to follow you for Olli to avoid the traps,” said Fox.

    “You didn’t think at all!” said the Fae. “The potions were not just for the fun of drinking something pungent and bitter with the taste and texture of yak wool.”

    “Please! Don’t make me and Gorrash teleport back to the cottage,” said Olliver.

    “Leave me out of this teleportation stuff!” said Gorrash.

    “What an idea! But I already thought of that my little friend. You two are going to to back.”

    “No we’re not! If you make us go back we’ll follow you from a distance.”

    “You know the boys,” said Fox putting a hand on Rukshan’s arm.

    “Oh You, I’m sure it’s your idea,” started Rukshan.

    “No, it’s mine,” said Olliver. “Uncle Fox had almost convinced Gorrash it was better to stay, but I couldn’t let him be stay behind after just being reborn. You said it once, we don’t leave our friends behind.”

    “I’m sure it was under another set of circumstances,” countered the Fae.

    “Anyway you see the traps, I can follow your instructions. And if there is any fever problem I can teleport Gorrash back to the cottage.”

    “I do not totally agree with you but I see you have learned to make an argumentation.”

    Fox felt the Fae relax. “Agreed, you come with us to the Great Lakes to meet the Graetaceans and you’ll follow what I tell you to do from now on. I’ll treat you as a responsible adult.”

    “Yay! We’ll meet the Graetaceans!” said Nesy.

    Olli and Gorrash will stay with us,” said Tak jumping around his friends with such a broad smile. Rukshan thought he was growing too soft on them all, with the new generation growing he started to feel his own age.

    #5826
    Eric
    Keymaster

    Day 12

    What was I thinking. That all will be good and all, and forever after.
    Lord, sometimes I miss that bloated boat, and its ordeal felt like an old familiar pain that distance makes bearable in retrospect.
    A week back into life, and all goes to hell. Good thing I’m not a trader, looking at the stock market would make you want to jump from a tall building.
    Since all is in chaos, I’ve been noticing them more. The synchronicities. Seems like the voices have found other ways to reach at me. Talks of forest and trees, arcane words spoken in different contexts.
    If only I weren’t paying attention. But then there are the dreams. Last ones have been insane. And not just those after a heavy meal, you know. The kind that gets you more tired when you wake up, as if you’ve spend the whole night piling up mountains upon mountains.
    I’d rather just pop a pill and see the elephants dance from branch to branch, if you see what I mean. But the voices wouldn’t let me go. Now they are egging me on to do something I don’t want to do.
    A book opened at random, summarizes it all: “Our heart is anxious about being sent here.
    Next line is a tease: “Gathering the resources of all under heaven as in a storehouse.
    But when did I sign up to be the bloody storehouse manager?

    #5818
    Flove
    Participant

    Dear Diary

    Cousin Lisa came calling yesterday morning and she tells us there’s some in the Village have come down with sickness. Of course it would be Lisa being the bearer of such news, her face lit up when I tell her I have heard nothing. Cook, over hearing our conversation, which was private but Cook is always sticking her great nose in where it is not required, she’s hung braids of garlic at the front door. I caught her telling the children it was to keep away the evil spirits that brought death. Poor little Jimmy couldn’t sleep last night he was that afraid of the spirits bringing death in the night. He asked endless questions,  how will the garlic stop them? Can the spirits get in through a window instead? He got his sister afraid also and the pair of them wouldn’t sleep then for crying in fear. I told Cook off roundly this morning for speaking to them thus.

    The master came home filled with drink, crashing around like the damned drunken fool he is nowadays. He shouted at the children for their crying and shouted at me for not keeping them quiet. At least he did not raise his fists for he wanted to lie with me and I nearly retched with his stinking breath coming close and thank God for His mercies that the fool passed out before he could do the deed. I may have done harm if he’d tried for the brass bell was sitting there on the table (and it is a heavy thing) and I was seeing at it as he came close and there was a moment I could have picked it up and crashed it to his skull. May God forgive me. 

    He makes my skin crawl for I know what he has done that he thinks I don’t know. But all will come to light if not in this world then the next. I am more sure than ever I must get away and the children with me.

    #5657
    Jib
    Participant

    “So, what do we do now?” asked Fox. Call it a sixth sense or a seventh sense, but he knew before he got the answer that he was going to regret it somehow. He had always been too quick to ask questions, and his years at the service of Master Gibbon apparently hadn’t made this habit go away.

    “Well dear assistant. You can start with the dishes,” said Kumihimo with a broad smile, “and then clean the rest of the hut.”

    Fox swallowed. He looked at the piles of stuff everywhere. What had seemed fun a moment before, playing with Kumihimo’s recipes and what he still thought of as her power toys, had turned into a chore. Though, his eyes stopped on a paquet he hadn’t notice before. It looked heavy and wet. The wrapping was not completely closed on the top and he thought he could see pink. That renewed his energy and motivation. Thinking that afterwards they would revive Gorrash suddenly made him feel the cleaning would be done in no time. He simply needed to be methodical and tackle each task one by one.

    First the glassware, it was the most fragile and took most of the space outside.

    Fox didn’t know how long he had been at it. He had been so engrossed in the cleaning, that he hadn’t paid attention to the others who had been talking all along. He felt a little exhausted and his stomach growled. How since he last ate. His body was stiff with all the movements and carrying stuff around. He was about to ask for some food when he noticed Kumihimo and Rukshan were still talking. The Fae looked exhausted too, he had his panda eyes, but he seemed captivated by their discussion.

    “Things are going to get worse,” was saying Kumihimo, “We need everybody ready for what’s coming next. The fires were just the beginning.”

    “Do you have anything to eat?” asked Fox not knowing what else to contribute to the conversation. But he knew he wouldn’t be of any help if he didn’t eat something first.

    #4759
    Eric
    Keymaster

    While she was posing for Maeve’s sketches this first afternoon before the Landlady’s theatrical entrance, Arona had felt her usual distrust towards strangers melt.

    Her magical senses told her she could trust this girl. Maeve herself seemed still a bit on the fence, as though she was guarding a heavy secret, but she seemed to have moments of unexplained boldness and was not shy to engage either.

    Without thinking twice, Arona had drawn her key out, and produced it in front of Maeve’s almond shaped eyes.

    “Something tells me this is familiar to you; me and my friends are looking for what it is locking away.”

    Maeve initial reaction was shocked and her composure seemed to be shaken for a moment.

    Mandrake, be nice to Maeve!” Arona called, as the cat had jumped on Mave’s lap and was starting to pur.

    “Don’t worry, I’m going to relax this precious moppet.” he replied back in purring meows only Arona could understand. “I heard that’s what cats do in this dimension when they don’t sleep.”

    Maeve replied “Don’t worry, I quite like animals, he seems well behaved too. And he’s so cute with his tiny boots.”

    Only momentarily distracted, and mildly relaxed by the cat’s purring, Maeve asked “how did you come by this key? It was not supposed to be found. I don’t know what it’s supposed to open, I suspect it was a fail-safe for my uncle, and I hid them in my dolls for safe-keeping.”

    “Them?” Arona asked, rather as a validation to herself.
    “As you suspected. There are more.” purred the cat harder.

    Maeve leaned in close, almost dropping her sketchbook’s coloured pencils on the floor, “I think some bad people are after it. I suspect that my Uncle sent me those tickets to Australia so I could retrieve this one before the bad people arrive to snatch it.”

    She jumped a little, realizing too late. “Wait? You don’t seem to be one of them… But what about all these other guests?”

    #4746
    Tracy
    Participant

    The sense of being left behind had deflated Lucinda. Everyone off having adventures, and here she was left minding the dog. She liked the dog, but not the feeling of missing out on the excitement, and the clues she received were few and far between.

    “Come on, Fabio,” she said, and the little dog looked up expectantly and wagged his tail. “Let’s go for a walk down by the river. We can pick up some granola cookies on the way back.”

    It was a particularly muggy day and not ideal for a long walk. She felt listless and heavy in the humid air. Before walking very far at all along the riverside promenade, she felt clammy and tired, and found a bench under a shady tree to sit on. Fabio cocked his head to one side and looked at her. Lucinda closed her eyes for a few moments, and started to admonish herself for her lack lustre and frankly boring state. “Buck up, for Pete’s sake!” she told herself, but was interrupted by Fabio’s frantic barking and pullling at the lead.

    A man on stilts was coming towards them, wearing long shiny trousers in black and white vertical stripes. Lucinda started at him openly, somewhat shaken, but curious. She could have sworn she’d seen him in a dream the night before.

    The peace shattering sound of a loud motor boat engine intruded into the scene, and when Lucinda looked back to the stilted man in stripes, he’d vanished. The sound of the outboard motor receded as the boat disappeared around a curve in the river; the waves it created splashing on the river banks long after it had disappeared.

    #4742
    Tracy
    Participant

    “Psst|! Glynis!” the muffled voice seemed to be coming from behind the smugwort bushes.

    With a sigh, she plonked the unappetizing looking casserole on the table, making it look heavier than it was. Sighing again, Glynis made her way out of the open kitchen door with a slow heavy tread. There it was again: “Glynis! Shhh! Over here!”

    For a brief moment she forgot all about feeling like a sloth in a concrete overcoat, and succumbed to a mild feeling of curiosity.

    “Who’s there?” she whispered, peering into the moonlit bushes. “Oh, it’s you|! Eleri, what the dickens are you doing lurking around in there?”

    “I’m, er, undercover,” Eleri replied. “Just tell me what’s going on, and be quick about it! I’m expected in another story any minute!”

    #4729
    Jib
    Participant

    The room was not oversized and not to bright despite facing south. It had the oddest strange decor Shawn Paul would have expected from that place. It seemed to come right out of a Victorian movie with the heavy furniture that took all the space in the room and the dark and overloaded wallpaper that sucked up the light coming through the velvet curtains.

    Shawn Paul sneezed. It didn’t as much feel dirty as it felt old like his grand parent’s house. He wondered how often the Inn’s staff cleaned the room. He had to move his luggage in order to open the window to get some fresh air. It was so hot and dry. There was a drug store on the other side of the dusty road and a strange man was looking at him. A feeble wind brought in some red dust and Shawn Paul sneezed again, reducing the little enthusiasm he could have had left to nothing. He imagined his clothes covered with red dust and quickly closed the window. As the man was still looking Shawn Paul shut the velvet curtain, suddenly plunging the room into darkness.

    His fear of insects crept out. He had no idea where the light was so he reopened the curtain a bit.

    He then checked thoroughly under the pillows, the bedcover and the bedsheet, behind the chairs and in the wardrobe. Australia was know for having the most venomous creatures and he didn’t want to have a bad surprise. He looked suspiciously at a midge flying around not knowing if it was even safe to kill it. Shawn Paul had never been the courageous type and he began to wonder why on earth he had accepted that trip. He had never traveled out of Canada before.

    Needing some comfort, he looked frantically into his backpack for the granola cookies he had brought with him. With the temperature the chocolate chip had melted and he wondered at how to eat a cookie without dirtying his hands.

    Someone knocked at the door making him jump with guilt like when he was a kid at his grand parents’ and would eat all the cookies in his bedroom without sharing with his cousins.

    “Lunch is served,” a woman’s voice said from the other side.

    Shawn Paul remembered having said with Maeve they would meet at lunchtime so he closed his luggage with an extra padlock and made sure his door was safely locked too before going downstairs.

    Anxiety rushed in when he saw all the people that were already seated at the only table in the lunch room. He might have gone back to his room if Maeve hadn’t come from behind him.

    “Let’s go have a seat.”

    He read between the lines what he was thinking himself: Don’t leave me alone. Whether it was truly what she had meant was not important.

    #4706
    Eric
    Keymaster

    “You know,” Inspector Melon said, having narrowly missed a peanut threat perniciously placed on top of a carrot cupcake. “I’m most intrigued by that mysterious Management organization that you wrote in your stories. They seemed to steer the plot somewhat efficiently, placing operatives on certain threats…”

    “What’s your question Walter?” Liz was getting tipsy on the rosé bubbly, and she frankly had no idea what he was talking about, clutching at the bottle that Finnley was trying to move out of her reach.

    “Well, somehow the Management, such fascinating and mysterious organization as it is, seems to have gathered an awful lot of information on this world’s arcane mysteries, and let’s not be shy to say, on some of its evils.”

    “And?…”

    “And, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d decided a “Blow the lid off” type of covert operation, in order to gather KEY evidences of those evils and release all of them simultaneously so that the evil guys can’t get clued to it in time for an escape.”

    “Mmm, of course yes.” Liz replied distractedly, looking at watermelon pièce montée that had just rolled into the room. It had suddenly triggered fond memories of watermelon codpieces she’d written as fashion pieces in one of the novels, that would have been perfect with the theme of the party.

    Walter thought deeply… “Then, that would mean the mysterious Uncle Fergus with the Harley Davidson, may be one of such operative, that could have been compromised and sent the keys as a fail-safe… Now, I wonder what secrets these may reveal.”

    He looked at Liz who was gorging herself on watermelon chous.

    “But of course, you would have thought about all that. I can’t wait to read the rest of it!”

    Of course, nothing of the discussion had been missed by the ever careful Finnley. Sliding behind the heavy curtains, she found Godfrey in the kitchen who was looking for the peanut jar.
    He greeted her with a non nonplussed look. “Hmm, lovely socks.”

    She leaned in conspiratorially: “I think the Inspector knows too much already.”

    #4649
    Jib
    Participant

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #4632
    Eric
    Keymaster

    Sometimes, you have to go underground to uncover the truth.

    Rukshan thought it meant taking the new underground carts once only.

    Frankly, he’d preferred to travel through the familiar Shadow Maps, the ones Dark Faes like him could draw, that would give them access to a secret parallel world of mist and phantoms, shadows and secrets. It was the true world the Faes originated from, long ago, in a time before history.

    It wasn’t used much nowadays, most Centenial Faes having lost the capacity, or the interest in the place, leaving only bitter unsavoury people creeping there, spying on secrets, and trading in for favours, while being too afraid to leave the known parallel world, too afraid that if they left it, they’d lose the way back.
    For Rukshan and a few in the Queen’s lineage, the place was still more or less of a familiar dwelling, a winter residence of sorts, for when solace and retreat was required.

    Only the Shadow Maps weren’t safe any longer, something had crept along the lay lines and was lurking at every corner, keeping guard at most of the known entrances and reporting to some unknown power.

    Few moons back, Rukshan was still meditating in the Shadow world, not very far from the work at the cottage, which he could hear at times through the thin dimensional walls, when he came across Konrad. Konrad, another Fae from the Old Houses, one with a heavy secret. “I’ve hidden her from him” he told him in short broken sentences. “His daughter, Nesingwarys, she is hidden for now, but He’ll be looking for her, once He recovers, and she won’t be safe. He can’t find her, I have to protect her, she holds power to bring his reign of terror back.”

    Truly, it didn’t make a lot of sense, but it had picked his curiosity. Rukshan left the other Fae to his apparent madness, but wondered about the coincidence. That Garl, the name Konrad gave to the dark fallen monarch, according to what he could piece together, seemed to have been vanquished or disappeared about the same time they’d all managed to repel the Shadow in the Forest.

    He would usually have left it at that, but then, a few days later, started to realize something was wrong in the Shadow world, and that this very something was growing.

    “And now, I’m stuck in an underground cart crammed full of people to go to the city. And they call that progress…”

    A bearded guy smelling of piss and wine, was doing acrobatics with his crutches and what was left of his left leg. He was looking at people with a half-toothed grin and a blissful face while muttering things Rukshan couldn’t figure. His face reminded him of a thespian he’d known. Rukshan couldn’t shake the feeling there was message in that. When the underground cart dinged to announce the Grand Belfrey Station, Rukshan was relieved to finally be out for fresh air. Magnificent craftsmanship he would say to the gnomes in charge of the tunnels, but really, underground cart wasn’t his thing.

    #4562
    Tracy
    Participant

    “Aunt Lottie the dwarf, you mean? The one who stole my candlesticks? I don’t want her anywhere close to me!” exclaimed Liz, who was extremely flustered and not at all prepared for the subterfuge.

    Finnley rolled her eyes, saying cryptically, “It’s early for those trees to be losing their leaves. I wonder if Roberto is nearby with his gardening hands and that new braid in his hair.”

    “I think he’s dealing with those hooligan birds,” remarked Godfrey helpfully, “He’d made a carved decoy, free standing and heavy.”

    The voice of a dog stopped the conversation, a talking dog. “It’s alright. The sadness was just a dream.”

    #4557
    Tracy
    Participant

    “You have NO idea!” announced Elizabeth, dramatically throwing the front door open, “No idea what I’ve been through!”

    “We do have an idea,” replied Godfrey, a welcoming smile playing about his lips.

    “You have NO IDEA!” Liz glared at him. “You think it was all about family, but no! Oh no!” Liz tried unsuccessfully to remove her long purple scarf with a flourish, but it caught on the hook of the hatstand and tightened around her throat. Finnley came to her rescue ~ rather slowly, if truth be told ~ by which time Elizabeth’s face matched the puce of her scarf. Liz coughed, and then took a few deep breaths.

    Roberto, take care of my suitcase will you? It’s heavy. It’s full of gargoyles. Finnley, put the kettle on!”

    #4550
    Flove
    Participant

    There was a knock at the door. It was a tentative knock, 3 small taps really, and It would have been easy to miss if Glynnis and Eleri had not lapsed into an uncomfortable silence and now sat glowering at each other across the kitchen table.

    They turned their heads towards the door in alarm, differences forgotten in light of this new threat. Nobody had knocked on the door of the cottage in the woods for such a long time.

    “It could be one of Leroway’s men”, hissed Eleri. “I wonder how they found the cottage now it is so well hidden,” she added, unable to help herself.

    Glynis went to the window by the front door and peeped out.

    “It’s an old lady,” she said in surprise

    “Could be a trick! Don’t answer it! What’s an old lady doing in the forest this hour of the evening? That’s too strange.”

    Eleri rushed to the door and put her body in front of it, blocking Glynis.

    “She looks a lot like Margoritt, only shorter,” said Glynis. “I don’t sense any danger. I’m going to open it. Get out of the way will you.”

    “Well, I sense danger actually,” said Eleri haughtily but she stood aside and Glynis opened the door carefully, just a few inches at first, peeping out through the gap while Eleri hovered anxiously behind her. A plump little lady wearing a crinkly blue suit and a hat with a bird’s feather on it stood on the front step.

    “Hello, can I help you?” said Glynis

    “Hello dear, I was starting to think nobody was home. Is this where Margoritt lives? I do hope I have the right place. I have come such a long way.”

    Margoritt is out on business at the moment. May I ask what it is you want with her?” said Glynis politely.

    “I’m her sister, Muriel, from the North. I’m sure she must have spoken of me. Do let me in, dears. It is icy cold out here. And I think I may be having one of my turns because your lovely wee house is looking ever so twinkly. It’s the migraine you know … they get me in the head ever so badly now and then. It’s the stress of the long journey I think ….”

    She took a step inside, gently but firmly pushing Glynis and Eleri aside, and entered the room, a strong smell of lavender wafting off her clothes and lingering in the air around her.

    “I am not sure where my case is … I left it in the forest I think. Perhaps one of you young things could find it for me. It was getting ever so heavy. Now, tell me your names and then if someone could make me a nice hot cup of tea, and one for themselves of course!” She laughed brightly and Glynis and Eleri joined in though they weren’t sure why. “And perhaps you could get me a wool blanket for my knees and I expect after a good sleep I’ll be right as rain.” She looked around the cottage with a small frown. “I can see I have come to the right place. I’d know my sister’s tastes anywhere.”

    #4535
    Flove
    Participant

    North South East and West
    I call for those who know the best
    What is lost must now be found
    Take my luck and turn it around

    Though the night air was heavy and still, the lower branches of a nearby Oak rustled and bowed gently before her as though waving her forward. One by one, puddles of dirty grey light on the ground shone brightly, creating the effect of a twinkling, glowing path moving through the darkness.

    Magic is pretty easy when your intention is clear, thought Glynis.

    #4523
    Flove
    Participant

    Glynis woke early but did not want to open her eyes. Last night’s conversation had gone on till late and was still heavy on her eyelids. She could hear the kettle whistling in the kitchen and small clinks and clatters of morning activity and some muffled conversation. Margoritt and Eleri were also up early.

    “They can’t do that!” Eleri was saying angrily when Glynis walked into the room. She shook a piece of paper accusingly in Glynis’s direction. “They say we’ve got a week to vacate the cottage before they begin the demolition. A week!” She crumpled the letter and flung it on the table.

    “I know,” said Glynis. “Margoritt showed me the letter last night.”

    “Morning, Glynis,” said Margoritt. “Pomegranate tea?”

    “Yes, thanks.” Glynis sat down opposite Eleri and picked up the letter. She smoothed it out, thoughtful.

    “Well?” Eleri persisted. “They can’t do this. Forcing Margoritt out of her home.”

    Margoritt placed a cup of steaming pomegranate tea in front of Glynis and sat down. Glynis noticed she had used the dainty floral tea set which was kept for “best”.

    “I had an idea in the night,” said Glynis. “It might be crazy but it might just buy us some time.”

    The others looked at her enquiringly. “We are all ears,” encouraged Eleri.

    “I used to make an invisibility potion which would render a person invisible for a time. I think it might be possible to make a stronger brew and cloak the whole cottage. I would need to adjust the spell and we would need huge quantities of the potion but I think it might just work. It might buy us some time till the others get back. They can’t pull down what they can’t find!”

    #4510
    Flove
    Participant

    Maeve sighed loudly—something she had been doing an awful lot of lately—and checked the time on her phone. If she left now and really hurried it would only take 5 minutes to get to the cafe. On the other hand if she took her time … well, with any luck the others would have already moved on.

    Not that she didn’t like Lucinda, on the contrary she enjoyed her neighbour’s gregarious nature and propensity to talk amusing rubbish — usually in public and at the top of her voice which would cause Maeve to look around nervously and lower her own voice in order to compensate.

    Maeve had made peace with her own introversion years ago. In order to survive with a semblance of normality, she had cultivated an outward calm which belied the activity going on in her head. The downside of this was she suspected she came across to others as muted and dull as the beige walls of her apartment. The upside was it allowed her to hide in plain sight; and she considered this to be a very handy trait. In truth, Maeve was one who liked many and few; she would happily talk to people, if she knew what on earth to say to them.

    ‘Anyway,’ Maeve reasoned, ‘I have to finish the doll.’

    She looked with satisfaction at her latest creation; a young boy wearing a vintage style buzzy bee costume. She had painstakingly sewn, stuffed and painted the cloth doll and then sanded the layers of paint till he looked old and well worn. ‘He looks like he has been well loved by some child,’ she mused. There was just one more step remaining before applying a protective coat of varnish and seating him on the shelf next to the others.

    She went to the kitchen drawer. In the 3rd drawer down there was a cardboard box of old keys. Most of the keys didn’t fit anything in her apartment; in fact she had no idea where they came from. Except one. She picked out a small gold key and went to the writing desk in the lounge, a heavy dour piece of furniture with a drop-front desk and various small drawers and cubby holes inside. Maeve unlocked one of these drawers with the key and pulled out a small parcel.

    ‘Only 3 parcels to go,’ she thought with relief.

    A small section of the stitching was unfinished on the back of Bee Boy, just enough to squeeze the package inside and then rearrange the stuffing around it. With neat stitches Maeve sewed up the seam.

    She checked the time. It had taken twenty six minutes.

    “Want to go for a walk to see Aunty Lulu and her nice new friends? See what she is going on about decorating?” she asked Fabio, her pekingese.

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