Before the quizzical look of April, she ventured “Thought I’d forgotten all about that dolls mystery on that weirdo website, have you?”
April yawned. “Well, beats the daily boredom for sure. Wait,” she added with a second thought “how are you sure the carotene virus hasn’t travelled the Sarcastic Sea?”
“Ella Marie was formal about it, her voodoo isn’t that out of touch, you know.” She mouthed detaching all the syllables “Nothing harmful ever ventured past the Bermuda Triangle.” June was beaming. Then, she thought again. “Unless she said the contrary, you silly tart, you’re making me doubt now. No matter, it’ll just be a quick touch and go.”
“Touch and go, it is then.” pouted April not all too sure where that next chapter was heading to.
“This is the life, eh!” June said, stretching out on the sun lounger sipping a fruity cocktail. “Turquoise sea and a salty breeze, this is the life for me!” she said, kicking off her new deck shoes in nautical blue and white, and hitching her dress hem up to expose her thighs to the sun.
The skipper raised an eyebrow and smiled sardonically, while simultaneously averting his eyes from the unappetizing sight of the doughy flesh. He could imagine this one rolling around below decks looking green as soon as the weather changed.
“Sure beats that jail. That had me worried, I’ll admit it. I wasn’t sure we were ever gonna make it outta there,” replied April, smiling fondly at Ella Marie and giving her hand an affectionate squeeze. “You saved our bacon, honey.”
“If it weren’t for that there Lord Wrick turning up, even the money might not have got you out.” Arthur chimed in. “Promising ole president Lump that land for the golf course if’n he pardoned you. Jacqui, you done wonders there.”
“Ah well, the young Lord Wrick owed me a favour, you might say. But that’s another story,” Jacqui replied. “The main thing was we had to get out of the country fast before Lump finds out about that land in Scotland.”
June sniggered. “Can’t imagine him in a kilt, can you? I wonder if he’s orange down there as well.”
“Oh, please! You really know how to lower the tone, dontcha? Gawd, what a thought!” April started to feel queasy. Changing the subject, she said, “Hey, did I tell you our Joanie’s going to meet us in Australia too?”
“How in tarnation did ya do that?” Arthur looked at his wife suspiciously.
“Do what, honey?” Ella Marie replied, feigning innocence.
“This here lottery win! How did you do that? You aint been doing them there voodoo tricks again, have you? You promised…”
“Oh heck Art, it’s pure chance, a million to one, you know that! We just got lucky, is all.” But she couldn’t meet his eye. “Well I had to do somethin’! It aint for us, it’s for those friends of Jacqui’s. When I heard they’d been locked up in jail on cooked up charges, after being so excited about visiting the family, well I couldn’t bear it.”
“You promised you wasn’t gonna do that hokey pokey stuff no more,” Arthur said.
“Yes but it aint for us. This is different, just a one time thing, helping out friends. We can pay the bail money for ’em now and get ’em outta that stinking hellpit. Aint no place for decent ladies, Art.”
“They’ll need some darned expensive lawyers to fight the Beige House, and fat chance of winning.” Art looked doubtful.
“Oh they won’t stick around to fight the case. I had this idea,” Ella Marie had that old twinkle in her eye that used to get Art all fired up, back in the day. “We’re gonna buy them a boat. I been talking to Jacqui ’bout it. An old flame of hers turned up who can sail the boat for them.”
“How big’s the boat?” asked Art, an idea brewing in his head. He’d always wanted to sail around the world.
“Well we aint bought the boat yet, Art, the lottery check only just arrived. How ’bout we go down to Orange Beach Marina and see what’s for sale? We could have a seafood lunch, make a day of it.”
A big smile spread across the old mans face. ” Well, hell, Ella Marie, I guess we can do whatever we darn well please now! Let’s do it! And,” he added, planting a loud smackeroo of a kiss on her forehead, “Let’s get a boat big enough for all of us. I’ve got an adventure in me, afore I pop my clogs, I sure do.”
Ella Marie looked at the peculiar child sitting on the car seat next to her. This was no normal kid, she knew that much. Looked like one, except that expression on his face, well! That was no baby looking out of those eyes. And the thoughts she was hearing coming from him! Ella Marie shivered and gave him another sidelong glance. He caught her eye and winked. Winked!
“Well if this all aint the darnedest thing,” she said aloud.
Echoing her thoughts, Jacqui agreed. “In all my years as a nanny I’ve never seen a wee bairn like this. He’s giving me the creeps.”
“Rude old bag,” thought the child, his face reddening. “Take that,” as he filled his disposable diaper.
Ella Marie gasped, reading his mind.
Arthur was driving the minivan. It was an old Chewy Express van with the big bold “DRAPES CLEANING” sign on it that he’d repainted by himself over the years. The business wasn’t doing great, truth be told, so he’d cut down the marketing costs, which according to Ella Marie wasn’t a bright idea. “You never know where you next patrons could hide.” She’d said, and then had him hooked up on some social website to post random things and get some likes and thumbs up. He’d come a little late for the new century’s game and couldn’t see any of the appeal, but he’d learned over the years never to make the missus irate.
He’d been so glad when she’d come back from the floods, unscathed and full of completely batshit crazy stories. Mummies and stuff. Sounded like being rolled in shredded drapes fanfiction to him. Complete garbage, but you can’t tell people they’re crazy, they’d hate you for it, and in truth you may be wrong. You might be the one crazy and all the others the sane ones. How’s that for a thought.
Anyway, he loved his Ella Marie dearly, and had learned not to sweat the small stuff. Like this night drive to a funny place she’d just received coordinates from an acquaintance on the Net. Those were mad times, mad times indeed. At least, she could have told him she wanted to catch a new rare pokemeon go! in the dead of night, and it might have sounded… well, just as mad probably.
They were driving steadily, being careful about the road signs; the van wasn’t much for crazy stunts anyway.
“How far is that?” he asked the wife, who was busy on her phone tracking the route and chatting on the thing with her friends imaginary or else.
“Not far, luv’. Next turn right, then left, then right and we should be there.”
The last turn took them off the road, and Arthur started to wonder if that wasn’t another “turn left at your peril” GPS experiment, where they’d have to haul the van out of a tar pit, but it seemed fine so far. The place looked ominous, and full of croaking noises 🐸🐸🐸🐸.
He killed the headlights, and moved in the parking lot at a crawl. There was no point in alerting whoever was there of their nocturnal visit. A barn owl flew straight in front of the van, scaring them.
“STOP!” jumped Jacqui, who’d been sleeping the whole time, and woke up to a frightful sight.
Arthur pushed on the brakes that gave off a screeching sound that would wake up a mummy.
“Och aye, now that’s intriguing,” remarked Jacqui, looking up from her phone. “Well I’ll be darned.”
“What’s that, honey?” asked her friend Ella Marie, looking up from her needlepoint. She was working on a cushion cover with an Egyptian theme.
“How far away is Chickasaw?”
“Why, that’s not far away at all,” Arthur said, and then went into some detail involving road numbers that neither of the ladies paid attention to.
“What all is a happening over there in Chickasaw anyway?” asked Ella Marie.
“Can you drive me over there? I have to kidnap a baby,” said Jacqui.
Noticing the astonished looks on her friends faces she hastened to add, “Oh it had already been kidnapped. I just have to kidnap it back, the mother misses it.”
Arthur and his wife said “Ah” in unison, recalling the time when the divorced father had snatched the neighbours children, causing poor Mary Lou no end of grief.
“Of course we’ll help you, that child needs his mother,” Arthur said. “Where in Chickasaw are they holding him?”
“That’s the tricky part, Art. The exact location isn’t known. In fact, ” Jacqui said, “In all honestly I don’t quite know where to go from here.”
Realizing that she had to come up with a plan quickly to distract April from taking her pith helmet, June took a few deep breaths and calmed herself. It was true she was often flaky and disorganized, but in an emergency she was capable of acting swiftly and efficiently.
“Remember Jacqui who we met in Scotland at the Nanny and Au Pair convention? Called herself Nanny Gibbon and tried to pass herself off as Scottish?” April frowned, trying to remember. Europeans all looked the same to her. “Ended up with that eccentric family with all the strange goings on?” June prompted.
“Oh yes, now I remember. Wasn’t there an odd story about a mummy that had washed up from, where was it?”
“Alabama!” shouted June triumphantly. “Exactly!”
“Well excuse me for being dense, but how does that help?”
June leaned back into the sofa with a happy smile. April had forgotten all about the pith helmet and was now focused on the new plan. “Well,” she said, rearranging some scatter cushions behind her back into a more comfortable position, “Do you remember the woman who arrived with the mummy, Ella Marie? She stayed with Jacqui for a while and they became good friends. Apparently she loved that crazy Wrick family; Jacqui said Ella Marie felt right at home there. She would have stayed, but she missed her husband in the end and felt guilty about leaving him, so she went back to Alabama.”
Aprils eyes widened slightly as she started to understand. “Did they stay in contact?”
“Maybe they can find that baby for us,” April said, looking relieved. “Or at least swap it for that girl baby. Where did that come from anyway?”
“Oh Patty, you naughty ratty!” exclaimed Bea, as she trundled into the kitchen to make her morning coffee. “I left you your marie biscuit on top of the microwave as usual and you haven’t even touched it. But look at my banana!”
The banana had been dragged from atop the bowl with the oranges, across the kitchen counter to nestle between the greasy gas cooking rings, the skin neatly opened in a perfect square cut.
“I was going to have that banana on my toast this morning,” Bea grumbled crossly. “You are overstepping the line now, Patty Ratty.”
“But Bea,” replied Patty, “I’m a new age ratty, a healthy ratty and a global warming conscious vegan ratty, and I do prefer a nice banana to a lousy factory made cheap biscuit, don’t you know.”
At least, that is what Bea imagined the rat might say, if it could speak. Everyone knows rats don’t speak. And notwithstanding, the rat had retired for the day and wasn’t in the kitchen anyway.
“I’m a raw food vegan gluten free health food rat!” shouted Patty from under the wood pile just outside the kitchen door. “You’re trying to kill me with that crap food!”
Momentarily speechless at the audacity of the uninvited guest, Bea struggled quietly with her roles and responsibility beliefs. Should I serve the food the uninvited guest prefers? Or should the gatecrashing rat be grateful for the food it was given?JibParticipant
Sadie almost had a fit when she received the models for their party attire. Blue, Red and Yellow, cork bums bigger than whales’ head and, that was a surprise, instead of wigs, three cornered hats looking like a galley with oars. She sent a message to Linda Paul.
“There must be a mistake, we are supposed not to create ripples through time by introducing…” she thought about the right words… “new fashion trends”.
The e-zapper buzzed as the answer arrived.
“Sorry sweety, those were the only outfits available at the moment. They came directly from China. Cheap, cheap. Crisis for everyone. I’m sure you understand, Sadie darling.”
Sadie thought of a diplomatic way to tell the news to her proteges. The hell with China, she thought. They were in the very time period that inspired the Queens for all the wigs and the fancy dresses that would come with Marie-Antoinette. They just had to be creative and follow the thread of maids to help them steal some more interesting clothes.
Queen Marie, Our Good Queen, as the little gents liked to call her, had not been as excited at the prospect of the salon since a long time.
She ringed the bell for the servant girl to bring more wood, as drafts of chilly air were coming from outside. Although quite modern and shiny, the palace was not as equipped for the cold season as the old castles from her mother land. Worse, with age and soft weather, she’d grown accustomed to being warm, and couldn’t bear the cold any longer.
The crackling sound of the pine wood inside the small chimney was comforting and brought her back to her thoughts. A salon, full of delightful witty people, with laughters and costumes, entertainment and champagne wine. She’d heard a special batch of barrels from la Maison Ruinart would be brought especially for the Royalties. Of course, she knew most of those were small favors for the King’s mistress, Reinette, but she didn’t care. Oddly enough, she didn’t mind the woman, who had been always very delicate and considerate towards her, almost affectionate. To be honest, she was a blessing, as the inextinguishable appetite of the King for the flesh and woman beauty was now too hard to bear.
The servant had finished to dress her for the night, putting her new powdered wig on the parakeet shaped wig-holder. She’d bought the wig with its lacquered holder in the morning from a small shop in Paris, which was had quite an aura of mystery she’d heard. Naturally she’d wanted to see for herself.
The wigmaker was a gaunt and unassuming young man who notwithstanding made an impression on her. Jean-Baptiste’s wigs were simple and elegant, albeit not terribly inspired. His eyes, on the other hand, had a piercing yet soft gaze about them, and didn’t seem embarrassed to look at her, almost through her, as if she were a person, instead of the Queen surrounded by a retinue of bland people eager to please.
“Let me draw you some fingers” he’d said to her, changing abruptly the topic from his rambling about books he was inspired to write about symbols. He’d forgotten the traditional address of “Your Majesty”, yet wouldn’t be stopped —regardless of the shocked expressions on the people’s faces.
“You see, I love symbols, and when I draw people’s fingers, I can foretell events to come”.
So that was it, she’d thought, the reason why everyone was ranting about him. He’d better be more inspired at that than wigs, as her patience was wearing thin.
She’d had fortune tellers draw her cards a few times, but the fingers drawing part was curious enough to entice her into removing the glove off her eburnated fingers and letting him do his trick.
An eldritch feeling crept though her spine as he was uttering words for each of the fingers he drew on with a slight pull of his hand, just enough not to crack the joints.
In the bed warmed to a delightful temperature by the bouillotte, she began sliding into deep sleep, while a mixture of words half-forgotten or half-remembered danced around in her mind like the swirls of snowflakes dying on the warm window of her chamber: “funny moment, cold diversion, dream parade, house moustache pink, blue wonder carpets, possible king turned, green mirror travel, understand whole large parade”…
Sadie had guessed right, that there was something off, which was soon confirmed by her all-purposes e-zapper. The date and place were both wrong by a smidge. They were sent off in the Champagne area, a few hundreds of kilometers off Paris and their royalties, and the date was 1757, a hundred years or so later than expected for a musketeer adventure…
Different time, different Queen. They’d better hope to find a nice ride to get the treasure hunt going.
Good thing was that the Dragcorp had outlets posted in advance, they would probably have something ready for them.
“Listen ladies,” she said as they went out on the open to find out the night wasn’t ripe with opportunities in the little provincial town. “Let’s call it a night and get out of those garbs… “
Terry pointed to a sign in the empty cobbled street and rudely interrupted “CHAMPAGNE, champagne for everyone!”
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky over the mudflats of the Guadalquivir river delta. Bob and Dennis were having a late breakfast of tapas on the terrace of a local bar: battered cuttlefish testicles, ensaladilla Rusa, and reindeer meat montaditos, washed down with fino sherry.
“ We better get back to work, Dennis. I have a feeling we’re very close to finding something.” said Bob.
“Excuse me, did you mention work?” a voice piped up from a table behind them. “I’m looking for work. Just got out of jail yesterday ~ oh don’t panic!” the man in the scarlet sweater said, noticing their raised eyebrows. “I wasn’t in there for any crime, just for being an illegal immigrant. My name’s Barry, by the way, pleased to meet you.”
“Well, Barry, this is your lucky day!” replied Bob. “It just so happens we could do with an extra pair of hands today. Nothing permanent, or legal ~ ha ha ~ but a bit of cash in hand might come handy, eh?”
Barry was well aware of Bob and Dennis’s mission, but he didn’t let on.
“Be happy to, yes! What kind of work is it?”
“We’re looking for a p p p p portal, m m m mate” said Dennis.
In almost no time at all during the afternoon work in the mudflats and marshes, Barry shouted “Bob! Dennis! I think I’ve found it!” He was holding a large stone disc , looking for all the world like a Marie biscuit.JibParticipant
Terry was a bit confused by all these blinks in and out. He needed some cheese and decided to focus the multronic stream of his TTI (Time Travel Implant) to a fridge in the region called Spain.
Unfortunately, the flux went right through a mousehole and he didn’t quite get to Spain. He was in a dark room. Noises were muffled here and there was no smell he could recognize. Before doing anything foolish, he turned on his night vision and everything appeared with cartoonish colours and enhanced black edges. It was the only one available when he borrowed it from Dr Frankenlaughner’s lab. You got used to it, eventually.
The room was still dark, but a cartoonish dark. That was mysterious. A squirking sound, like an amazonian squirrel, startled him. His curiosity was picked. He took a piece of what was left of his Marie biscuit and began to walk as silently as he could toward the squirrel sound.White PantherParticipant
The time travel mouse seemed rather anxious as it nibbled its Marie Biscuit: its long and coily whiskers were vibrating rather lazily, and he seemed to have been receiving transmissions from another dimension of time travelling.
“Oh dear,” it squeaked to Mari Fe. “It seems like I shall have to postpone our little nibbling, a task does call me.”
With that it disappeared. Mari Fe wondered what could’ve happened if she reversed time and revisited some memories. She decided to call upon the services of Terry, the time travel mouse, and he appeared.
“Hello,” he warmly cooed.
“Terry, I need you to take me to a memory.”
“And how does this memory play out?”
“Well,” she began.
The ten dogs circled the round kitchen table, all the eyes were focused on the left over roast potatoes including Mari Fe’s. Suddenly there was a little bang just in front her and she froze and glanced up. A mouse had appeared on top of the microwave, and he froze too, and stared at Mari Fe. Time stood still for a long moment as they looked at each other. Mari Fe wondered if he would like a Marie biscuit, remembering the last time he was here, and how he would only nothing else.
It wasn’t until later that she began to wonder if anything had gone wrong with the teleport arrangements with Baltazar. It was a remarkable coincidence, the time travel mouse popping in like that unexpectedly, after such a long absence.
Marie put the the perfect husband down. She was looking for a rope and tied it to the door handle while she went for the knees, thankful for the power.
In exchange for some strange things, it had been agreed that Franiel’s angel met Derwent, a very ordinary mortal. Bit disappointed, she chuckled. Most of the others are lovely and colorful.
With the weak Scottish sun warming their backs, India Louise and Cuthbert made sand castles on the deserted beach. Very few holidaymakers visited The Orkneys in the days when the Wrick twins were growing up (Elizabeth was tempted to add ‘whenever that was’ but refrained) and they had the beautiful sweep of coastline to themselves, all but for their nanny, the eccentric Breton, who was sitting on a tartan blanket in the sand dunes practicing her Scottish accent. Nanny had heard somewhere that a Scottish accent had been voted the ‘most reassuring in an emergency’, and in her position as nanny, she felt it would be an advantage, especially while working for the eccentric and adventurous Wrick family.
Seagulls squawked overhead as she recited “… pRRoid te the lowkel in-abitents und steps av bin tayken in RResunt yeers… to improve the appearance of the city …… impRRoov the appeeRents uv the citay…”
Nanny’s studies were interrupted by shrieks from the two children, who were running down to the waters edge, pointing towards an unusual object which appeared to be floating towards them on the incoming tide.
By the time Nanny reached the children the mysterious floating contraption had beached itself on the sand. As India Louise and Cuthbert paddled over to it, a wizened and emaciated Ella Marie Tindale whooped and cackled “Hooley Mooley, that was quoot a rood!”
“Och aye, ma wee bairns, dinnae tooch it!” shouted Nanny “Ye dinnae ken owt aboot it, och! Oof, and what ‘ave we ‘ere, what eez zeess?” she said, lapsing back into her natural French accent, in a state of shock at what the tide had brought in.
The twins became alarmed immediately, backing away and asking nervously “Is it an alien?” “Is it a ghost?” so Nanny resumed the reassuring Scottish accent.
“Nay ma wee poppets, och and it’s nowt but anoother mummay!”
“I don’t know!” she whispered back “Maybe she heard me telling Bill!”
Nanny gave both of the children a cuff round the back of the neck, reminding them of their manners.
“Help ze lady off and ztop zat rude wheezpering!”
Everyone had been disappointed that the Day of the Dead Party had been a wash out, cancelled because of the torrential rain. An alternative date had not yet been set for the boulder moving party, and the interior of the mysterious mound was to remain an enigma for a while longer.
Dan had been frankly relieved about the cancellation, preferring to get sodden on the Volderama golf course instead. He’d been delighted to meet Sergio Garcia there, especially as his old friend Juani Ramirez had had a dream several years previously about him and Sergio.
Dory and Becky were disappointed though. They’d both been consumed with curiosity about the mound and it’s blue tiled interior and were eager to explore the inside physically, rather than with the customary psychic investigations and meditations. Never the less, they were both aware that when the time was right, everything would slot into place.
There was much to keep them occupied, what with the time travelling mouse that was camped behind the microwave oven, and the impending arrival of Granny Hill.
Becky had named the mouse Will, short for Will O’ The Wisp, but that was before she knew that he was a time traveller. She left him a variety of tasty morsels next to the toaster, which Will took to his hide-out — Marie biscuits, dried cranberries, little chunks of Swiss cheese, and sometimes an almond or two. She left him a piece of lettuce and two sweet corn kernels once, but he hadn’t been at all interested. Obviously Will wasn’t a victim of nutrition beliefs, and Becky was impressed.
Wondering what else Will might like to eat for variety, and because she was beginning to realize that this wasn’t just any old ordinary mouse, Becky sent a message to Dory’s friend Mac Brock, who always seemed to be able to pull interesting information out of his hat. Mac’s wife Wanda replied first, confirming Becky’s impression that this was no ordinary mouse, but in fact contained an energy fleck of Tarkin, the Brocks non-physical friend from the future. Shortly afterwards, Mac replied, saying that Will-Tarkin liked asparagus.
Asparagus! Becky found that quite funny, because ‘asparagus’ had been the code word that the time travellers had said that they would use. She had been looking forward to meeting a time traveller. Little did she know that the first time traveller to come and stay at her house would be a mouse!
Holy Moly, that was quite a ride! whispered a beaming Ella Marie, who had been enjoying herself immensely. The dinghy and its strange cargo drifted on the open sea, the storms passed and the ocean calm and moonlit.
The floodwater currents had swept them along and Ella focused on avoiding obstacles like signposts, feeling exhilarated and alive with excitement.
Oy, we’re in the Gulf of Mexico now! she cackled, Lordy, I wonder where we’ll end up.
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