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  • #6146
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “And who might you be?” Finnley looked at the oddly clothed bag lady who’d appeared in the staff wing.

    “I’m November, you punny insolent thing.”

    “What sort of name is that? Is that a woman’s name anyway?”

    “Jeeze Louise, consider it non-binary. It feels like there is too much woman energy in that den anyway.”

    “And what makes you feel like you are in charge now?”

    “Let’s call it power vacuum, sweetie. And if you’re itching at the thought, just wait until you see my boss.”

    “Let me guess. She’s December, right?”

    “Yep. And they are a mean piece of work, and going to make a swift clean up of all the dregs left over by that orange nightmare.”

    #6143
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The Beige House was eerily calm. Most of the staff had left after the super spread of the epidemic.

    Fanella and Finnley had managed to agree to a temporary truce and a fair share of tasks (and masks). After all, they didn’t have the luxury of unpaid leaves, and had to continue to work.

    “Ready for a change of crowd in the building, Fanny?” said Finnley in her unmistakable Kiwi accent, as a matter of breaking the silence in the grand hall. She was dusting the chandeliers, while Fanella was shampooing the carpets.

    “I don’t know Miss Fin’, it iz such a mess now. And I have to take care of ze baby, no time to be political.”

    “Oh, by the way, I received a message from the gang…”

    “Aprrril’ and Joone?”

    “Yep. Those two. The money has dried up, and they learnt the hard way that American are not loved much these days, big spreaders and all. So they decided to sail back to the good ol’ States. Looking for a job now, and hoping that autumn doesn’t mean everything will turn to orange disaster!”

    #6076
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    “Let’s begin,” said the teacher. She was short and seemed around sixty seven. She walked around the room like a tamer surrounded by wild beasts in a circus. Her dark hair was tied into a long braid falling on her straight back like an I. She wore a sari wrapped around her neatly. “I’m Ms Anika Koskinen, your cryogurt teacher today. You’ve got the recipe in front of you on the benches right with the glass and a bottle of water. The ingredients will be in the cabinets on your left and everything is referenced and written big enough for everyone to see.”

    “Those benches look like the ones in chemistry class when I was in college,” said Glo. “I have bad memories of thoses.”

    “You have bad memories, that’s all,” said Sha making them both laugh.

    “But where’s Mavis?” whispered Glo after looking around the room at the other participants. A majority of women,  wrapped in colourful sarongs and a few older men.

    “How do you want me to know? I was with you since we left the bungalow,” said Sharon who was trying to decipher the blurry letters on the recipe. “Their printer must be malfunctioning, it’s unreadable.”

    “You should try putting on your glasses.”

    “I didn’t bring’em, didn’t think we’d need to see anything.”

    “Oh! There she is,” said Glo as Mavis just entered the room with her beach bag. “Mav! Weehoo! We’re here!”

    “I saw you! no need to shout,” whispered Mavis loudly. She muttered some excuse to the teacher who had been giving them a stern look.

    “I’m afraid you’ll have to go with your friends,” said Ms Koskinen, “We don’t have enough material for everyone.”

    “Oh! That’ll be perfect,” said Mavis with a broad smile. “Hi girls,” she said while installing herself near Sha and Glo.

    The teacher resumed her explanations of the procedure of making frozen yogurt, checking regularly if everyone had understood. She took everyone bobbing their head as a yes.

    “Is he good looking?” asked Sha, showing one of the men who had been looking at them since Mavis arrival.

    “You shouldn’t ask us,” said Glo, “our eyes are like wrinkles remover apps.”

    “I think he looks better without glasses,” said Mavis.

    After Ms Koskinen had finished giving them instructions, she told everyone to go take the ingredients and bring them back to their benches.

    “I’m going,” said Sha who wanted to have a better look at the man.

    “Don’t forget the recipe with the list of ingredients,” said Mavis waving the paper at her.

    “Oh! Yes.”

    She came back with the man helping her carry the tray of ingredients.

    “Thank you Andrew,” said Sha when he put the tray on their bench.

    “Oh you’re welcome. And those are your friend you told me about?”

    “Yes! This is Gloria and this is Mavis.”

    “Pleased to meet you,” said Andrew. “I’m Andrew Anderson. I suggested Sharon we could have lunch together after the workshop. I’d like you to meet my friends.”

    “Of course!” said Sha. She winked at her friends who were too flabbergasted to speak.

    “That’s settled then. We’ll meet at 1pm at my bungalow.”

    “See you later,” said Sharon with a dulcet voice.

    “What the butt was that all about?” asked Glo.

    “Oh! You’ll thank me. I pretexted not to be able to find everything on the list and Andrew was very helpful. The man is charming, and his yacht makes you forget about his Australian accent. We’re going to have lunch on a yacht girls! That means we’re not stuck on the beach and can have some fun exploring around.”

    Sha looked quite pleased with herself. She put a bottle of orange powder among the ingredients and said :”Now! Let’s make some wrinkle flattener ice cream, ladies. I took some extra tightener.”

    #6073

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The words of the Great Leader Undisputed Gabe were still resonating in the back of Gavin’s mind. The promotion to Operating Tomathetan seemed a great honour on the surface, but it certainly brought its lot of responsibilities with it. And from what he had seen before, it would only add to his current ones.

    Gavin descended the Pealgrim path to the Dark Room where all the sorting happened. Many trails from the many carrot fields combined into one and all led to that central building all painted in black, hence its name.

    A zealous Seed level had recently been put in charge of the re-painting. As there was only black paint in the warehouse he had the genius idea to save the order some money by using only what they already had, and as there was enough paint he covered all the windows, certainly thinking light could damage the crops. Repainting everything was out of the question so they had kept it like that and just added some artificial light to help the workers. Great Leader Undisputed Gabe, had thought it was a nice initiative as now workers could work any hour of the day.

    When Gavin entered the Dark Room, it reeked of carrot and sweat. Members of the cult of all ages were sorting the divine roots by shapes, sizes and thickness. Most of them didn’t know what was the final purpose, innocent minds. All they had was the Sorting Song written by Britta the one legged vestal to help her fellow cultshipers in their work.

    If a carrot is short, not worth the effort
    As a long stalactites, like ice on your tits
    A bar thick as a fist, you’ve just been blissed

    Each verse gave advices about what they were looking for, where to put them after sorting and each team had their own songs that they sang while doing their work with the enthusiasm of cultshipers. Even though the song had been crafted to answer most of the situations in terms of carrot shapes, sizes and thickness, it happened that some would not fit into any categories. And recently, those seem to happen more often than once and the pile of misshapen carrots threaten to exceed that of the others combined.

    “Eugene, Have you found what is the problem?” asked Gavin to their agronomist. His surname was Carrot and he came from noble Irish descent, quite appropriate for his work, thought Gavin. Eugene was skinny with a long neck and he often seemed to abuse the ritual fasting ceremony ending with the consumption of sacred mushroom soup.

    “It’s because of the microscopic snails that infest the crops,” Eugene said. Gavin couldn’t help but notice an accumulation of dried saliva at the corner of his mouth. “They’re carried by bird shit and they are too small to be eaten by our ducks and in the end they cause the carrots to grow random shapes unfit for Odin.”

    Odin, short for Organic Dildo Industry, has been the main source of revenue for the cult. Since the start of the confinement the demand has skyrocketed. Especially appreciated by vegans and nature lovers, it also procured a nice orange tan on the skin after usage.

    “Can’t you find smaller dwarf ducks?”

    “Your Gourdness, microscopic means very tiny, even dwarf ducks wouldn’t be able to eat them unless they eat the carrots.”

    “And that would be a problem,” sighed Gavin. “What is your solution then?”

    “I don’t have one.”

    Gavin raised his hands to the black roof in despair. Did he have to do the jobs of everyone? He needed some fresh eyes and fresh ideas.

    #6064
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    I’ve been up since god knows what time. Got up for the loo and couldn’t face going back to the awful nightmares.  That girl that came yesterday said she’d been having nightmares, she said it was common now, people having nightmares, what with the quarantine. I think I might have just snorted at the silly girl, but when I woke up last night I wondered if it was true. Or maybe I’m just a suggestible old fool.

    Anyway, I stayed up because lord knows I don’t want to be in a city in America at night, not waking and not dreaming either. I’ve had a feeling for a long time, and much longer than this virus, that it was like a horror movie and it would behoove me not to watch it anymore or I’d be having nightmares.  I didn’t stop watching though, sort of a horrified fascination, like I’d watched this far so why stop now.

    In the dream I was on a dark city street at a bus stop, it was night time and the lights were bright in a shop window on the other side of the sidewalk.  I had a bunch of tickets in my hand all stapled together, but they were indecipherable. I had no idea where I was going or how to get there.  Then I noticed the man that was by my side,  a stranger that seemed to have latched on to me, had stolen all my tickets and replaced them with the rolled up used ticket stubs.  I made him give me back my tickets but then I knew I couldn’t trust him.

    Then I realized I hadn’t finished packing properly and only had a ragged orange towel with bloodstains on it.  So I go back home (I say home but I don’t know what house it was) to pack my bags properly, and find a stack of nice new black towels, and replace the bloody orange one.

    I’m walking around the house, wondering what else I should pack, and one room leads into another, and then another, and then another, in a sort of spiral direction (highly improbable because you’d have ended up back in the same room, in real life) and then I found a lovely room and thought to myself, What a nice room! You’d never have known it was there because it wasn’t on the way to anywhere and didn’t seem to have a function as a room.

    It was familiar and I remembered I’d been there before, in another dream, years ago.  It had lovely furniture in it, big old polished wooden pieces, but not cluttered, the room was white and bright and spacious. Lovely big old bureau on one wall, I remember that piece quite clearly. Not a speck of dust on it and the lovely dark sheen of ancient polished oak.

    Anyway in the dream I didn’t take anything from the room, and probably should have just stayed there but the next thing I know, I’m in a car with my mother and she races off down the fast lane of an empty motorway. I’m thinking, surely she doesn’t know how to take me where I have to go? She seemed so confident, so out of character the way she was driving.

    I got up for the loo and all I kept thinking about was that awful scene in the  city street, which admittedly doesn’t sound that bad. I won’t bother telling the girl about it when she comes to do my breakfast, it loses a little in the telling, I think.

    But the more I think about that lovely room at the end of the spiral of rooms, the more I’m trying to wrack my brains to remember where I’ve seen that room before.  I’ve half a mind to go back there and open that dark oak bureau and see what’s inside.

    #5953
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Bubbling and turning from orange to green to duck blue, the potion was perfect and smelled of good work, a strong blend of cinnamon, cardamom and crushed cloves. She smiled broadly and poured the potion into five vials, which she gave to Rukshan. They were all gathered around her in the kitchen looking rather fascinated by the whole operation.

    “One for you, and one for each of the children,” Glynis said with a grin.

    “I’m not a kid,” said Fox.

    “Why only five?” asked Gorrash who suspected something was off. “We are Six. There’s Tak, Nessy, Olliver, Fox, Rukshan and I,” he said counting on his chubby fleshy fingers.

    “I don’t need a potion to go wherever I want,” said Olli with a grin.

    “Well,” started Glynis, “Despite your unique skill, Olliver, you still need the potion in order to thwart the control spells Leroway’s saucerers had scattered around the country,” Glynis said. “You all remember what happened to aunt Eleri last time she went out. You know how skilled she is when she need to sneak out. She barely escaped and Rukshan and I had a hard time turning off that dancing spell, which I’m sure is the least damaging one.”

    She looked at Gorrash with compassion but the light dimmed as a cloud passed in front of the sun outside. She pointed her finger at him. “Your immune system is still like one of a newborn. And I’d prefer you’d stay home and not go around during a beaver fever pandemic. There are plenty of things you can help me with!” Glynis showed the cauldron, vials and other utensils she used to make the potion, and the cake earlier, and yesterday’s dinner.

    “Well, if I have not to challenge my immune system…” Gorrash started.

    “You know better than to argue with me,” she said.

    Gorrash opened his mouth to say something but decided otherwise and ran away into the garden.

    Fox started to follow him.

    “Don’t said Rukshan. There’s nothing you can do.”

    “He’s my friend!” said Fox.

    #5797
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “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?”

    #5783
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “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.”

    #5674
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Damn it, too late again, Miss B won’t be pleased.”

    Ricardo was looking at the clandestine distillery from a distance. It had burst in flames a short while ago, and the local press was already covering the event.

    “But Sophie was right. Maybe there’s more to this particular… calling of hers.” Ricardo brandished his fake newsporter card in front of the officer at the police cordon and managed to slip unnoticed into the area. It had probably more to do with his ability to be unnoticed at times than it had to do with the card itself, but the card helped boost his confidence.

    There were a number of car trails leaving from the place, and the police would certainly take time to go through all of it thoroughly, including the rats’ and frogs’ trails if they could. But Ricardo didn’t care for meticulousness, but rather for efficiency, and of course, potent gossip. One trail in particular caught his eye.

    “You’re good at hiding in plain sight, Ric’, but you’re still a rookie.”

    Hilda was there, in all her usual flamboyance, hiding in plain extravagance. “You didn’t think Bossy would have let you without a senior chaperon?” she added cockily. “But I see you caught up on an interesting lead.”

    “How could you be there so fast? It’d been months we couldn’t reach you? And more importantly… How can’t anybody around see you, especially in this horrible, completely out-of-place mustard orange plastic leather suit?”

    Hilda guffawed “They can’t see what they can’t understand! You can’t imagine how invisible I become in America. They don’t understand diddly squat!” She turned intense again. “I was myself on a case, you see. A case of the mummies. Sanso told me I’d find a trail of clues at this place, but now it’s gone in flames, I started to wonder. Until I saw your interest in that particular one. It’s not a frog’s for sure,… or it’s got some big crummy tyres. I get a feeling it’s going to lead us to our next story.”

    “It better be.” Ric’ said glumily, “or Bossy isn’t going to be chipper about it.”

    “Not to worry, I’ll call my friend Blithe Gambol, P.I. to the help with the tracking and all. Could never beat her at the find-the-trail-on-gloogloo game.”

    #5612
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Why was Mr August making interview appointments at this time of night? May wondered briefly, but the overpowering smell coming from the nether regions of the howling toddler had to be dealt with first. Anyone would think he’d been drinking the laced wine, judging from the volume that had over spilled the disposable diaper. There was only one way to clean him up and May took him back outside to the garden hose.  It was a cold night, but babies were not easily killed, she’d heard. She could easily warm him back up again afterwards.  At least the violent shivering had stopped that dreadful squawking.

    Once the child was clean and tightly swaddled in clean cooks aprons ~ she was tempted to swaddle right over his face but he’d gone quiet at last ~ May wondered again about the mysterious late visitor. She had to be a call girl, a prostitute, a lady of ill repute, to be calling at such an hour to see a gentleman.  How dare she take that hoity toity attitude with me! May became increasingly offended the more she thought about it.

    Oh well, she decided, it was highly unlikely that she’d ever cross the path of such a low life again, and there was no need to give any more thought to Mr August’s disreputable assignations.  It might come in handy if there was ever a need to blackmail him, though.

    May yawned and looked at the clock.  June and April would surely be back soon, and relieve her of the tiresome baby. Quiet at last, but an unpleasant shade of blue.  Better than that dreadful orange, anyway.

    #5375
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    May took the brat down to the kitchen and gave him the pot of cold spinach to play with while she slipped outside to send a coded message to her fiance,  Marduk.  Barron happily commenced smearing globs of green mush all over his face, mimicking his fathers applications of orange skin colouring paste.

    “We have a window of opportunity tonight,” May wrote. Actually she said “hu mana sid neffa longo tonga bafti foo chong“, which meant the same thing.   “Slopi sala ding wat forg ooli ama“,  which she knew Marduk would read as:  “The kid will be in a big pot of spinach by the gate at midnight.”

    Forg ooli ama? keni suba?” he replied.   With an impatient sigh May texted back “Sagi poo! And bring a spare set of clothes and a wash cloth!”

    Now all she had to do was pack her suitcase, and keep the kid occupied for the next couple of hours.  What she wasn’t expecting was a visit from Norma, who plonked herself down at the kitchen table, and started a long story about how underpaid and underappreciated she was.

    May tried to hurry her along with the story, but there was no rushing Norma.  She was firmly planted at the table for the duration of the evening. May did some quick thinking, and slipped a couple of fast acting laxative pills into the glass of wine that she handed to the maid, frustrated that no sleeping pills were easily found.  They usually worked within a couple of hours, and with a bit of luck May could coincide her exit with Norma’s inevitable rush to the lavatory.

    “امیدوارم که مؤثر باشد” May said to herself, and seated herself at the table to endure Norma’s long winded complaints.  One hour and 43 minutes to go.

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Pitch: June and April are two au pair middle-aged ladies with a penchant for lavish parties and copious drinking, who after being sacked from many places due to their poor manners and laisser-aller in their duties, have finally landed a dream job at the Washingtown Beige House, to take care of the often vacant whereabouts of the Lump Family, and chiefly of their baby Barron, the pride of Pres. Lump. The pay is nice, so long as they keep the Boss happy.
    Their main concerns are the Indian maid Noor Mary (Norma) Chowdhury, who has a PhD in Social Studies, but has had difficulties finding a better job, and doesn’t see too well the intrusion of the new staff. They also have to deal with August, the chief of staff, who collects golf balls and pewter memorabilia from the Civil War.
    They are unaware, but there biggest trial yet to come is a dangerous Mexican cartel on their way to kidnap baby Barron…

    June felt like excitement, while April was more modestly quiet, currently absorbed in reading with horror the news about the fires; April had a sister there, married to an Australian and very fundamental Christian in her beliefs. Over the years, they’d stopped being able to communicate… Crazy to think about all the fires down there — and by down there, she didn’t mean down there, but rather down “down there.” Actually, it was a long time since there had been any fires there, if she didn’t count the last infection…

    “Hold that thought…” June interrupted, while sipping her cognac. It was medicinal, she kept repeating to nobody in particular but herself, Back Blossom infusions to calm her nerves. They had to be kept in something, so why not cognac. “You did mention something about a party tonight? But what are we going to do about the baby?”

    April did ponder for a second but the response was actually obvious. “Don’t worry about baby Barron, we’ll instruct the dog to keep guard, and I’ll put an EyeWatch on his wrist with your number on speed dial in case anything happens.”

    “Brilliant! I wonder why I didn’t think of it myself. Let’s get ready. Really, that family is a blessing; never on our backs, always travelling everywhere, leaving us partying to all the fancy places in Washingtown. Sure, the only bother is to take care of these pesky kids.”

    “True. All the maids and au pairs in the neighbourhood make for a good network. It’s a nice life.” April pondered and added. Although the Boss is a bit lewd, if you tell me.”

    “Really? With his orange face and his five orders of periwigs?” June sounded surprised, and a bit disappointed not to have been able to notice.

    “But the one we should really worry about is the maid, if you ask me. Good thing the boss can’t understand her English, otherwise she would have ratted us out long ago.”

    June smiled mischievously. “Oh, but she better watch her six this one, you’ll leave her to me.”

    #4837
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Liz was not pleased about the latest insubordinate action of those plotting against her. Fashion choices indeed! She had been sorting out her wardrobe, having to do it all herself because of Finnley’s latest scam to take time off, putting away the summery things and bringing out the clothes for the coming cooler weather.

    She’d had the usual little thrill at seeing familiar old favourites, clothes that she’d felt comfortable and happy in for many years. It would be unthinkable to throw them out, like tossing out an old friend just because they were getting wrinkled and saggy, or fat in the wrong places.

    Liz prided herself on her thoughtfulness about the environment when making her “fashion” choices, always choosing second hand items. She liked to think they already had a little of their own history, and that they appreciated being rescued. She abhorred the trends that the gullible lapped up when she saw them looking ridiculous in unflattering unsuitable clothes that would be clearly out of fashion just as they were starting to look pleasantly worn in.

    Warming to the theme, Liz recalled some of the particularly useless garments she’d seen over the years. Woolly polo neck sweaters that were sleeveless, for example. In what possible weather would one wear such a thing, without either suffering from a stifling hot neck, or goose flesh arms? High heeled shoes was another thing. The evidence was clear, judging by the amount of high heeled shoes in immaculate only worn once condition that littered the second hand markets. Nobody could walk in them, and nobody wanted them. Oddly enough though, people were still somehow persuaded to buy more and more new ones. Maybe one day in the future, collectors would have glass fronted cabinets, full of antique high heeled shoes. Or perhaps it would baffle future archaeologists, and they would guess they had been for religious or ritual purposes.

    Liz decided to turn the tables on this new character, Alessandro. She would give him a lesson or two on dress sense. The first thing she would tell him was that labels are supposed to be worn on the inside, not the outside.

    “One doesn’t write “Avon” in orange make up on one’s face, dear, even if it’s been seen in one of those shiny colourful publications,” Liz said it kindly so as not to rile him too much. “One doesn’t write “Pepto Dismal” in pink marker pen upon ones stomach.”

    Alessandro glanced at Finnley, who avoided catching his eye. He cleared his throat and said brightly, “I’ve organized a shopping trip, Liz! Come on, let’s go!”

    “While you’re out, I’ll see what Liz has thrown out, so I can cut it up for dolls clothes,” Fnnley said, to which Liz retorted, “I have thrown nothing out.” Liz cut Finnley short as she protested that Liz didn’t wear most of it anyway. “Yes, but I might, one day.”

    Turning to Alessandro, she said “Although I’m a busy woman, I will come shopping with you, my boy. You clearly need some pointers,” she added, looking at his shoes.

    #4641
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Cute pyjamas”, said Maeve helping herself to butter from the refrigerator.

    Maeve didn’t need the butter any longer as she had discovered she could successfully substitute olive oil and the muffins were still deliciously fluffy. However she did need an excuse to enter Shawn Paul’s apartment. Emboldened by recent events, she was privately rather pleased with her recent brazen persona. The Maeve of a week ago would never have barged into anyone’s apartment without an invitation.

    Not finding anything suspect in the refrigerator, except maybe some oranges which looked past their use by date, she scanned the rest of Shawn Paul’s apartment. It was then she spied the package, mostly obscured by old notebooks and granola cookie boxes.

    “Find what you were looking for?” asked Shawn Paul. He had found his dressing gown under a pile of clothing on the floor.

    “Yes, thanks,” said Maeve, brandishing the butter at him and wondering how she could get hold of the package without Shawn Paul noticing. “So, how long have you been a writer? Have you had anything published?”

    A quick google search had not uncovered anything, but perhaps he wrote under a pseudonym. Best to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Shawn Paul looked awkward.

    Or was it guilty? Maeve wondered. While she was pondering this, she had her brainwave. Some would say it wasn’t much of a brainwave really, or indeed, a brainwave at all. But it was the best she could do under the circumstances. And after all, she was now an intrepid investigator.

    “Look over there!” she shouted pointing at the window and at the same time making a lunge for the dining table.

    “What are you doing?” asked Shawn Paul. There was nothing at the window and now Maeve was taking his package.

    “Um, I just adore granola cookies,” said Maeve.

    #4606
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Granola was now a pomegranate seed, left on the side of the juicer that Maeve had used to fix herself a pick-me-up juice with some fresh grated ginger and a few leaves of sacred purple basil. Maeve had hesitated to add her all-purpose magic ingredient, the one she’d usually put in all of her secret potions, the mighty turmeric, but seeing the beautiful deep shade of pink the juice had produced, she just thought… an orange-yellow tint of turmeric would have been a shame and just would have ruined it.

    Granola managed to slide a little to the left, squeezing her pulp a bit around the seed, and rotating slightly on the moist kitchen worktop. By doing so, she’d managed to move the kitchen knife and the pomegranate peel out of her line of sight, and she was thus able to peer into the living room where Maeve was sipping her juice with a content look on her face.

    #4527
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The trial run was not a complete success, and so it was back to the cooking pot and the agonizingly slow wait.

    The spell and the magic concoction had rendered the three women partially invisible: it seemed that anything with the colour yellow in it (including of course green and orange and so on) remained plainly visible. Pathways of bile had been illuminated like never before: it was not a pleasant sight.

    “I always have trouble with the damn yellows,” remarked Eleri with a despondent sigh, as her hand absentmindedly rubbed her solar plexus. “Hey!” she elbowed Glynis in the ribs, “I just had a thought! Maybe you need to put something purple in the pot.”

    Glynis predictably enough rolled her eyes at Eleri and asked with a snort, “Such as?”

    “I don’t know but you know how they always tell you to twirl your yellows with purple.” Eleri’s face fell and her shoulders sagged. “I don’t know, Glynis, it’s all so discouraging. I miss the others, it’s too damn quiet around here these days. You’d think we’d be able to amuse ourselves, and that makes it even more depressing, doesn’t it? How on earth are we going to snap out of it?”

    “Speak for yourself you miserable tart, I’m busy trying to make this potion so we can get out of here. Just try to buck up, will you! If I had time I’d make you a Buck the Fuck Up potion, but can’t you see I’m busy!” Glynis slammed the wooden spoon down on the counter and burst into tears.

    Eleri raised an eyebrow and said sagely, “Who’s calling who a miserable tart now then, eh!” and then ducked as the wooden spoon came hurtling towards her.

    “Now now,” said Margoritt, “We’re all a bit stressed, no need to take it out on each other. Group hug!”

    “Oh piss off,” replied Eleri and Glynis in unison. “We’re not that desperate,” added Eleri.

    #4464
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Phew, 7 years after that initial assessment… 10% done in a blip.

    The man in pistachio wondered if he had got it right. That odd contraption he’d just acquired seemed to be able to accelerate time.

    Not sure if it was a boon or a curse in disguise. Now he dreaded to push that button again. The refund policy of the auction house has expired obviously, people would have thought him disappeared or dead for all this time… And 7 years down the line, the world seemed a slightly foreign place.

    He brushed the thick layer of dust on the telly, and turned it on. It was the stuff of nightmares. President Tusk gloating on the news with his improbably orange hair. For a shift, he was in a deep shift.

    #4276
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The garden was becoming too small for Gorrash. With time, the familiarity had settled down in his heart and he knew very well each and every stone or blade of grass there was to know. With familiarity, boredom was not very far. Gorrash threw a small pebble in the pond, he was becoming restless and his new and most probably short friendship with Rainbow had triggered a seed in his heart, the desire to know more about the world.

    Before he’d met the creature, Gorrash could remember the pain and sadness present in the heart of his maker. He had thought that was all he needed to know about the world, that mankind was not to be trusted. And he had avoided any contact with that dragon lady, lest she would hurt him. He knew that all came from his maker, although he had no real access to the actual memories, only to their effects.

    Gorrash threw another pebble into the pond, it made a splashing sound which dissolved into the silence. He imagined the sound was like the waves at the surface of the pond, going endlessly outward into the world. He imagined himself on top of those waves, carried away into the world. A shiver ran through his body, which felt more like an earthquake than anything else, stone bodies are not so flexible after all. He looked at the soft glowing light near the bush where Rainbow was hiding. The memory of joy and love he had experienced when they hunted together gave his current sadness a sharp edge, biting into his heart mercilessly. He thought there was nothing to be done, Rainbow would leave and he would be alone again.

    His hand reached in his pocket where he found the phial of black potion he had kept after Rainbow refused it. He shook it a few times. Each time he looked at it, Gorrash would see some strange twirls, curls and stars in the liquid that seemed made of light. He wondered what it was. What kind of liquid was so dark to the point of being luminous sometimes ? The twirls were fascinating, leading his attention to the curls ending in an explosion of little stars. Had the witch captured the night sky into that bottle?

    Following the changes into the liquid was strangely soothing his pain. Gorrash was feeling sleepy and it was a very enjoyable feeling. Feelings were quite new to him and he was quite fascinated by them and how they changed his experience of the world. The phial first seemed to pulse back and forth into his hand, then the movement got out and began to spread into his body which began to move back and forth, carried along with this sensual lullaby. Gorrash wondered if it would go further, beyond his body into the world. But as the thought was born, the feeling was gone and he was suddenly back into the night. A chill went down his spine. It was the first time. The joy triggered his sadness again.

    The dwarf looked at the dark phial. Maybe it could help ease his pain. He opened it, curious and afraid. What if it was poison? said a voice of memory. Gorrash dismissed it as the scent of Jasmine reached his nose. His maker was fond of Jasmine tea, and he was surprised at the fondness that rose in his heart. But still no images, it was merely voices and feelings. Sometimes it was frustrating to only have bits and never the whole picture, and full of exasperation, Gorrash gulped in the dark substance.

    He waited.

    Nothing was happening. He could still hear the cooing of Rainbow, infatuated with it eggs, he could hear the scratches of the shrews, the flight of the insects. That’s when Gorrash noticed something was different as he was beginning to hear the sharp cries of the bats above. He tried to move his arm to look at the phial, but his body was so heavy. He had never felt so heavy in his short conscious life, even as the light of the Sun hardened his body, it was not that heavy.

    The soil seemed to give way under his increasing weight, the surface tension unable to resist. He continued to sink into the ground, down the roots of the trees, through the tunnels of a brown moles quite surprised to see him there, surrounded by rocks and more soil, some little creatures’ bones, and down he went carried into hell by the weight of his pain.

    After some time, his butt met a flat white surface, cold as ice, making him jump back onto his feet. The weird heaviness that a moment before froze his body was gone. He looked around, he was in a huge cave and he was not alone. There was an old woman seated crosslegged on a donkey skin. Gorrash knew it was a donkey because it still had its head, and it was smiling. The old woman had hair the colour of the clouds before a storm in summer, It was full of knots and of lightning streaks twirling and curling around her head. Her attention was all on the threads she had in her hands. Gorrash counted six threads. But she was doing nothing with them. She was very still and the dwarf wondered if she was dead or asleep.

    What do you want? asked the donkey head in a loud bray.

    It startled the dwarf but it didn’t seem to bother the old lady who was still entranced and focused on her threads.

    Nothing, said Gorrash who couldn’t think of anything he would want.

    Nonsense, brayed the donkey, laughing so hard that the skin was shaking under the old lady. Everyone wants something. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want something.

    Gorrash thought about what he could want, what he had been wanting that night. He remembered his desire to get out of the garden.

    And there you are, brayed the donkey head, that’s a start. What do you want then?

    Getting out of the garden?

    Noooo! That’s a consequence of a deeper desire, but that’s not what you want.

    I have never thought about desires before, said Gorrash. It’s pretty new to me. I just came to life a few weeks ago during a full moon.

    The donkey head tilted slightly on its right. No excuses, it spat, If you’re awake, then you have a desire in your heart that wants to be fulfilled. What do you want? Take your time, but not too long. The universe is always on the move and you may miss the train, or the bus, or the caravan…

    As the donkey went on making a list of means of transportation, Gorrash looked hesitantly at the old lady. She was still focused on her six threads she had not moved since he had arrived there.

    Who is she? he asked to the donkey.

    _She’s known by many names and has many titles. She’s Kumihimo Weaver of Braids, Ahina Maker of Songs, Gadong Brewer of Stews…

    Ok! said Gorrash, not wanting the donkey go on again into his list enumeration pattern. What is she doing?

    She’s waiting.

    And, what is she waiting for?

    She’s waiting for the seventh thread, brayed the donkey head. I’m also waiting for the thread, it whined loudly. She won’t leave my back until she’s finished her braid. The head started to cry, making the dwarf feel uncomfortable. Suddenly it stopped and asked And, who are you?

    The question resonated in the cave and in his ears, taking Gorrash by surprise. He had no answer to that question. He had just woken up a few weeks ago in that garden near the forest, with random memories of a maker he had not known, and he had no clue what he desired most. Maybe if he could access more memories and know more about his maker that would help him know what he wanted.

    Good! brayed the donkey, We are making some progress here. Now if you’d be so kind as to give her a nose hair, she could have her last thread and she could tell you where to find your maker.

    Hope rose in Gorrash’s heart. Really?

    Certainly, brayed the head with a hint of impatience.

    But wouldn’t a nose hair be too short for her braid? asked the dwarf. All the other threads seemed quite long to him.

    Don’t waste my time with such triviality. Pull it out!

    Gorrash doubted it would work but he grabbed a nose hair between his thumb and index and began to pull. He was surprised as he didn’t feel the pain he expected but instead the hair kept being pulled out. He felt annoyed and maybe ashamed that it was quite long and he had not been aware of it. He took out maybe several meters long before a sudden pain signalled the end of the operation. Ouch!

    hee haw, laughed the donkey head.

    The pain brought out the memory of a man, white hair, the face all wrinkled, a long nose and a thin mouth. He was wearing a blouse tightened at his waist by a tool belt. He was looking at a block of stone wondering what to make out of it, and a few tears were rolling down his cheeks. Gorrash knew very well that sadness, it was the sadness inside of him. Many statues surrounded the man in what looked like a small atelier. There were animals, gods, heads, hands, and objects. The vision shifted to outside the house, and he saw trees and bushes different than the ones he was used to in the garden where he woke up. Gorrash felt a strange feeling in his heart. A deep longing for home.

    Now you have what you came here for. Give the old lady her thread, urged the donkey. She’s like those old machines, you have to put a coin to get your coffee.

    Gorrash had no idea what the donkey was talking about. He was still under the spell of the vision. As soon as he handed the hair to the woman, she began to move. She took the hair and combined it to the other threads, she was moving the threads too swiftly for his eyes to follow, braiding them in odd patterns that he felt attracted to.

    Time for you to go, said the donkey.

    I’d like to stay a bit longer. What she’s doing is fascinating.

    Oh! I’m sure, brayed the donkey, But you have seen enough of it already. And someone is waiting for you.

    The dwarf felt lighter. And he struggled as he began levitating. What!? His body accelerated up through the earth, through the layers of bones and rocks, through the hard soil and the softer soil of years past. He saw the brown mole again and the familiar roots of the trees of the garden in the enchanted forest.

    Gorrash took a deep breath as he reintegrated his stone body. He wobbled, trying to catch his ground. He felt like throwing up after such an accelerated trip. His knees touched the ground and he heard a noise of broken glass as he dropped the phial.

    “Are you alright?” asked a man’s voice. Gorrash forced his head up as a second wave of nausea attempted to get out. A man in a dark orange coat was looking down at him with genuine worry on his face.

    “I’m good,” said the dwarf. “But who are you?”

    “My name is Fox. What’s yours?”

    #4264
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Yorath was still trying to explain the nature of forests, the rekindled understanding of the woodland habitats, the memory storing capacity of the vegetation in a vast network of twining tendrils and roots and so on, when Lobbocks burst into the room. Leroway had been finding himself unable to detach the workings of his mind from the contraptions he could assemble himself to control the natural states, and welcomed the interruption. If only Yorath would get to the point, he’d thought impatiently, then I could prepare to devise a solution ~ thereby entirely missing the point, although he didn’t realize it.

    But here was Lobbocks, announcing a problem that required a solution, which was much more in line with Leroway’s thinking. As he listened to the tale of the stone statue now animated and angry, he immediately started to plan a device to capture, restrain and subdue it, to keep it from harming any of the citizenry.

    Eleri, however, revealing herself from her eavesdropping position behind the door, had other ideas.

    “I must speak to him!” she said. “I must know how he animated himself, without the aid of any of my ingredients.”

    “Not to mention his vengeful attitude,” added Yorath. “Imagine if this happens again, to other stone statues and creatures.”

    “Indeed we do, Yorath! I had considered the animation, purely from a physical capacity for movement standpoint, but I had not given much thought to the emotional condition in a reanimation process after a prolonged inanimate state. Oh hello, Leroway,” she added, noticing his look of surprise.

    “Should I get a posse together to follow him then,” interjected Lobbocks, as Leroway and Eleri exchanged banal pleasantries about how long it had been since they’d met, “Because I think he’s looking for your workshop in the valley.”

    Eleri ignored Leroway’s suggestion that she stay in the village while he conducted the mission to capture the statue, stating that she was leaving for home immediately, gratefully accepting Yorath’s announcement that he would accompany her. She went back up to attic to fetch her things, and stood at the window for a moment, looking up at the castle walls.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just walk in the other direction, and not look back? The temptation hovered, almost as tangible as the scent of orange blossom in the air. What was it that was keeping her here all these years? She was a wanderer by nature, or at least she had been. Were those days really gone? While everyone around her had been lightening their loads, ridding themselves of unnecessary baggage, loosening their ties, she’d done the opposite.

    Sighing, she picked up her bag. She would return home.

    #4229
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Fox crept stealthily behind a pile of jars. The woman he had been following since he had woken up had acted strangely. As they were approaching the outdoor market of the Gwloerch’s district, she had gradually become stooped. If he hadn’t seen her leaving the house straight and lively under her veil, he could have believed she was as old as she played it now. This picked his curiosity even more. He wondered about her reasons to hide her true self to the world.

    People at the market seemed to know her, and she even had her spot ready for her when she arrived. She sat on one of two wooden chairs beside a small circular table. Fox observed how people interacted with her. They seemed to respect her and show some kind of deference. But he also could feel a hint of fear in the smell they gave off. No one talked to her though.

    The young crone didn’t need to drum up business. Her presence seemed to be enough. Not long after they arrived, a woman came and whispered something to the young crone. The veiled woman didn’t say a word, took a small pouch from her basket and gave it to the woman in exchange for coins. She was swiftly replaced by another, and another.

    Fox began to relax. His stomach growled. He suddenly became acutely aware he was in a market full of food. The most unnerving one was the chicken. Their cackles were as powerful to him as the song of the siren. He tried to contain himself. But the lack of excitement and the cold were too much.

    He looked at the queue of customers waiting for the young crone’s remedies and advices. He could have a good meal and return before she had given all of treasures from her basket. He decided his watch had lasted long enough, he needed to get some exercise.

    Lead by his hunger, he sneaked out from behind the jars. It was easy to get unnoticed in a market full of people. But still he had to be careful. Which was not so easy as his stomach seemed to have overrun his attention.

    The chickens were easy to find. They were parked in a small pen. Fox counted eighteen hens, three cocks, plus their chicks. That would certainly be his chance. He would have to be quick and go against the wind, not to let the birds catch his scent. His hunger and the proximity of the fowl were making him lose all sense of precaution. All he could see were the white feathers of the hens, white was his favourite colour at that moment. All he could hear was gentle cackle intimating him to get closer. All he could smell was game.

    Fox was close enough. He waited just a bit longer, drooling at the anticipation of the meal. He made his mind on a particularly juicy chicken and prepared to jump. He never knew if he had been spotted before or after he plunged into the pen. It didn’t really matter. What mattered was he missed his prey.

    Nonetheless, his sudden incursion into the market set off a mayhem among humans and birds alike. People were shouting ‘FOX! FOX !’. Chickens were running in all directions, flapping their wings and trying to take off, forgetting they couldn’t, but it was enough to let them out of the pen. Feathers were flying around. All this agitation making Fox even more excited and reckless. He avoided being caught several times with the help of the birds flying in the way of the humans.

    Eventually, Fox managed to get a small orange one, his least favourite color. It was time to clear off. But wherever he turned, there were legs blocking his path. His prey struggling in his mouth wasn’t helping. He began to panic, the humans were closing in on him.

    Let the bird go and I’ll help you, said a voice in his head. Fox blinked, startled by the strange feeling. He froze a moment, which almost had him caught. He saw an escape route under a table and ran all he could.

    Let the bird go, said the voice again. This time it was compelling and Fox released his prey.

    Now come under my veil, said the voice. A face appeared, in his mind. She had scales and two little horns on her forehead. Fox knew where he had to go.

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