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  • #4543

    In the white silence of the mountains, Rukshan was on his knees on a yakult wool rug pouring blue sand from a small pouch on a tricky part of the mandala that looked like a small person lifting his arms upwards. Rukshan was just in the right state of mind, peaceful and intensely focused, in the moment.
    It was more instinct than intellect that guided his hands, and when he felt inside him something click, he stopped pouring the sand. He didn’t take the time to check if it was right, he trusted his guts.
    He held the pouch to his right and said: “White”. Olliver took the pouch of blue and replaced it with another. Rukshan resumed pouring and white sand flew in a thin stream on the next part of the mandala.

    After a few hours of the same routine, only broken by the occasional refreshments and drinks that Olliver brought him, the mandala was finished and Rukshan stood up to look at the result. He moved his shoulders to help relieve the tensions accumulated during the hard day of labor. He felt like an old man. His throat was dry with thirst but his eyes gleamed with joy at the result of hours of hard concentration.

    “It’s beautiful,” said Olliver with awe in his voice.
    “It is, isn’t it?” said Rukshan. He accepted a cup of warm and steaming yakult tea that Olliver handed him and looked at the boy. It was the first time that Olliver had spoken during the whole process.
    “Thanks, Olli,” said Rukshan, “you’ve been very helpful the whole time. I’m a little bit ashamed to have taken your whole time like that and make you stand in the cold without rest.”
    “Oh! Don’t worry,” said the boy, “I enjoyed watching you. Maybe one day you can teach me how to do this.”
    Rukshan looked thoughtfully at the boy. The mandala drew its power from the fae’s nature. There could certainly be no danger in showing the technique to the boy. It could be a nice piece of art.
    “Sure!” he said. “Once we are back. I promise to show you.”
    A smile bloomed on Olliver’s face.

    :fleuron:

    In the white silence of the mountain, Lhamom sat on a thick rug of yakult wool in front of a makeshift fireplace. She had finished packing their belongings, which were now securely loaded on the hellishcarpet, and decided it was cooking time. For that she had enrolled the young lad, Olliver, to keep her company instead of running around and disturbing Rukshan. The poor man… the poor manfae, Lhamom corrected, had such a difficult task that he needed all his concentration and peace of mind.

    Lhamom stirred the content of the cauldron in a slow and regular motion. She smiled because she was also proud of her idea of a screen made of yakult wool and bamboo poles, cut from the haunted bamboo forest. It was as much to protect from the wind as it was for the fae’s privacy and peace of mind.

    “It smells good,” said Olliver, looking with hungry eyes at what Lhamom was doing.
    “I know,” she said with pride. “It’s a specialty I learned during the ice trek.”
    “Can you teach me?” ask Olliver.
    “Yes, sure.” She winked. “You need a special blend of spiced roots, and use pootatoes and crabbage. The secret is to make them melt in yakult salted butter for ten minutes before adding the meat and a bucket of fresh snow.”

    They continued to cook and talk far all the afternoon, and when dusk came Lhamom heard Rukshan talk behind his screen. He must have finished the mandala, she thought. She smiled at Olliver, and she felt very pleased that she had kept the boy out of the manfae’s way.

    :fleuron:

    Fox listened to the white silence of the mountain during that brief moment, just after the dogs had made it clear, despite all the promises of food, that they would not help the two-leggeds with their plan.

    Fox sighed. For an instant, all felt still and quiet, all was perfectly where it ought to be.

    The instant was brief, quickly interrupted by a first growl, joined by a second and a third, and soon the entire pack of mountain dogs walked, all teeth out, towards a surrounded Fox. He looked around. There was no escape route. He had no escape plan. His stomach reminded him that instant that he was still sick. He looked at the mad eyes of the dogs. They hadn’t even left the bones from the meat he gave them earlier. He gulped in an attempt to remove the lump of anguish stuck in his throat. There would be no trace of him left either. Just maybe some red on the snow.

    He suddenly felt full of resolve and camped himself on his four legs; he would not go without a fight. His only regret was that he couldn’t help his friends go home.
    We’ll meet in another life, he thought. Feeling wolfish he howled in defiance to the dogs.
    They had stopped and were looking uncertain of what to do next. Fox couldn’t believe he had impressed them.

    “Come,” said a voice behind him. Fox turned surprised. On the pile of his clothes stood Olliver.
    How did you,” he yelped before remembering the boy could not understand him.
    “Hurry! I can teleport us back to the camp,” said the boy with his arms opened.

    Without a second thought Fox jumped in Olliver’s arms and the next thing he knew was that they were back at the camp. But something was off. Fox could see Rukshan busy making his mandala and Olliver was helping him with the sand. Then he could see Lhamom cooking with the help of another Olliver.
    Fox thought it might be some case of post teleportation confusion. He looked at the Olliver who helped him escape an imminent death, the fox head slightly tilted on the side, the question obvious in its eyes.
    “Please don’t tell them,” said Olliver, his eyes pleading. “It just happened. I felt a little forgotten and wanted so much to be useful.”

    Fox turned back into a human, too surprised to feel the bite of the cold air.
    “Oh! Your clothes,” said Olliver before he disappeared. Fox didn’t have time to clear his mind before the boy was back with the clothes.

    #4520
    AvatarJib
    Participant

      Fortunately the aging spell didn’t last long and they returned to normal.
      Almost.
      The missing teeth had not grown back, but Liz had had perfect new teeth installed in place of the old ones. They were shinier and could even sparkle under full moon light. Of course, Godfrey told her the dentist was a fan of Tolkien and found inspiration from the elven magical artefacts.
      At the time Liz almost canceled her appointment because she didn’t want disco teeth in her mouth that could distract her audience. But she had been seduced by the bubbly personality of the dentist, and though she did not admit it as it was not proper, she rather liked going to him.
      Liz grunted unladilikely as she opened her lips wide like a horse, trying to see if they would shine under some bathroom LED light. But the glitter only came from the beads and sea sparkles of her bathroom mirror and vasque, the bottles of shampoo and her new rejuvenation stem cell cream she had just put on her face. The teeth, they looked perfectly normal.
      What a disappointment, really, she thought.
      She had to ask Godfrey when was the next full moon. Would the treasure in her mouth only shine under moonlight or would it shine also indoor? She wondered. She might as well have to have special mirrors installed to redirect all the light in the new ballroom.

      #4494
      AvatarJib
      Participant

        The entrance to the cellar was in the library, just behind a book shelf that had been pushed away. How convenient, Godfrey thought.
        Roberto has been busy,” he said, appreciating the new little wheels under the elm wood bookshelves. He tried it several times and saw that the wheels were perfectly oiled and made no sound.
        “Too oily,” said Finnley tutting disapprovingly at the stains on the wooden floor. She was already thinking of buying a new carpet, or maybe a new puppy that would help her dust the floor as it followed along. It would have to be small and energetic. Not too energetic though.
        Liz was fascinated by the door. It was an old door, carved certainly in oak wood and painted with oddly hypnotic patterns. She looked at the tonic glass she still had in her hands. “Did you put something in my tonic?” she asked. The glass pigheadedly refused to focus on the bottom of her eye.
        “I think it was empty,” said Godfrey. “Or at least it is now.” He took the glass from Liz and came back quickly, not wanting to miss the opening. He handed a pair of pink and shiny scissors to Liz who glanced at them and then at Godfrey with a puzzled look.

        “Do you expect me to cut your hair?” Liz asked him. “I think you should have your hair cut,” she added because it seemed to crawl and wave on his head. She looked at Finnley. “Yours too, dear, I’m afraid.”
        Finnley’s lips and eyes thinned as she tried her sharp face on Liz who cackled, and Finnley just shrugged and tutted again.

        “Well, use them to cut the red ribbon of course.” Godfrey nodded in the direction of the door and Liz saw that there was a fluffy red ribbon sagging between the side shelves and barring the entrance to the cellar. How come she hadn’t seen it before.

        She took the scissors and winced when the sound of the cutting resounded like nails on a blackboard, and for a moment she shuddered as the face of Sister Clarissa and her magnifying goggles popped out of the door. A horrendous sight, if you asked her. Liz had always suspected that their only use was to traumatise the students. She had forgotten she went to a catholic school.

        The door was finally opened, and Liz hoped what they found downstairs would not bring up more of those memories.

        #4404
        AvatarJib
        Participant

          Liz left her bed at 8:30am, wearing only her pink and blue doubled cotton night gown, a perfect hair and her fluffy pink blue mules. She had been thinking about her characters while the sun was trying to rise with great difficulty. Liz couldn’t blame the Sun as temperatures had dropped dramatically since the beginning of winter and the air outside was really cold.

          When Liz was thinking about her writings and her characters, she usually felt hungry. Someone had told her once that the brain was a hungry organ and that you needed fuel to make it work properly. She didn’t have a sweet tooth, but she wouldn’t say no to some cheesy toast, any time of the day.

          She had heard some noise coming from the kitchen, certainly Finnley doing who knows what, although certainly not cleaning. It might be the association between thinking about her characters and the noise in the kitchen that triggered her sudden craving for a melted slice of cheese on top of a perfectly burnished toast. The idea sufficed to make her stomach growl.

          She chuckled as she thought of inventing a new genre, the toast opera. Or was it a cackle?

          As she was lost in her morning musings, her mules gave that muffled slippery sound on the floor that Finnley found so unladylike. Liz didn’t care, she even deliberately slowed her pace. The slippery sound took on another dimension, extended and stretched to the limit of what was bearable even for herself. Liz grinned, thinking about Finnley’s slight twitching right eye as she certainly was trying to keep her composure in the kitchen.

          Liz, all cheerful, was testing the differences between a chuckle and a cackle when she entered the kitchen. She was about to ask Finnley what she thought about it when she saw a small person in a yellow tunic and green pants, washing the dishes.

          Liz stopped right there, forgetting all about chuckles and cackles and even toasts.

          “Where is Finnley?” she asked, not wanting to appear the least surprised. The small person turned her head toward Liz, still managing to keep on washing the dishes. It was a girl, obviously from India.

          “Good morning, Ma’am. I’m Anna, the new maid only.”

          “The new… maid?”

          Liz suddenly felt panic crawling behind her perfectly still face. She didn’t want to think about the implications.

          “Why don’t you use the dishwasher?” she asked, proud that she could keep the control of her voice despite her hunger, her questions about chuckles and cackles, and…

          “The dirty dishes are very less, there is no need to use the dishwasher only.”

          Liz looked at her bobbing her head sideways as if the spring had been mounted the wrong way.

          “Are you alright?” asked Anna with a worried look.

          “Of course, dear. Make me a toast with a slice of cheese will you?”

          “How do I do that?”

          “Well you take the toaster and you put the slice of bread inside and pushed the lever down… Have you never prepared toasts before?”

          “No, but yes, but I need to know how you like it only. I want to make it perfect for your liking, otherwise you won’t be satisfied.” The maid suddenly looked lost and anxious.

          “Just do as you usually do,” said Liz. “Goddfrey?” she called, leaving the kitchen before the maid could ask anymore questions.

          Where was Goddfrey when she needed him to explain everything?

          “You need me?” asked a voice behind her. He had appeared from nowhere, as if he could walk through the walls or teleport. Anyway, she never thought she would be so relieved to see him.

          “What’s that in the kitchen?”

          “What’s what? Oh! You mean her. The new maid.”

          He knew! Liz felt a strange blend of frustration, despair and anger. She took mental note to remember it for her next chapter, and came back to her emotional turmoil. Was she the only one unaware of such a bit change in her home?

          “Well, she followed us when we were in India. We don’t know how, but she managed to find a place in one of your trunks. Finnley found her as she had the porter unpacked the load. It seems she wants to help.”

          #4270

          Yorath led the way down the forest path. Eleri followed, feeling no urge to rush, despite the sense of urgency. Rather, she felt a sense of urgency to linger, perhaps even to sit awhile on a rock beneath an old oak tree, to stop the pell mell rush of thoughts and suppositions and just sit, staring blankly, listening to the forest sounds and sniffing the mushroomy mulch beneath her feet.

          The compulsion to be alone increased. Unable to ignore it any longer, Eleri told Yorath that she would catch him up, she needed to go behind a bush for a moment, knowing quite well that there was no need for the excuse, but still, she didn’t feel like explaining. Talking, even thinking, had become tiring, exhausting even. She needed to sit, just sit.

          She watched his retreating back and breathed a sigh of relief when his form disappeared from view. Much as she loved her dear old friend, the absence of other humans was like a breath of air to the drowning. The rustlings of the living forest, the dappling shadows and busy missions of the insects was a different kind of busyness, far from still and never silent, not always slow or sedate, not even serene or pleasant always, but there was a restful coherence to the movements of the living forest.

          Leaning back into the tree trunk, her foot dislodged a rotten log from its resting place among the leaves ~ crisp and crunchy on the top, damp and decomposing beneath the surface ~ revealing the long slim ivory of bone contrasting sharply with the shades of brown.

          Bones. Eleri paused before leaning over to touch it gently at first, then gently smooth away the composting detritus covering it.

          Bones. She held it, feeling the hard dry texture peculiar to bones, loving the white colour which was more than white, a richer white than white, not bleached of colour, but full of the colours of white, and holding all of the colours of the story of it.

          The story of the bone, the bones. She knelt, carefully brushing the leaves aside. Bones never rested alone, she knew that. Close by she knew she would find more. She knew she would take them home with her, although she knew not why. Just that she always did. A smile flitted across her face as she recalled the horse bones she’d found once ~ an entire, perfect skeleton of a horse. What she wouldn’t have given to take the whole thing home with her, but it was impossible. Perfectly assembled, picked clean and sun bleached, resplendent in the morning sun, it was a thing of unimaginable beauty that morning, reclining on the hilltop. So she took as much of the spine as she could carry, and later wished she’d taken the skull instead. And never really wondered why she didn’t go back for more.

          But that was the thing with bones. You don’t go back. You take what you want, what you can carry, and leave the rest. But Eleri had to admit that she didn’t know why this was so.

          #4217

          The fire in the wood stove had gone out when Eleri awoke but she didn’t rekindle it. The dream of the girl with the dragon face filled her thoughts, and the mundane actions of the morning were not a primary interest yet. The face was perfect to replicate into stone, with an interesting texture that would lend itself perfectly to her paint effects, but no extreme protuberances to cause potential problems during the process. The inch long horns would not present too much of a problem, provided they didn’t grow too much. (and what was that in centimeters anyway, she wondered, and why was she dreaming in imperial measures? Perhaps it was a clue to the location of the owner of the dragon face.) But how was she to find that face? And if she found it, would she be able to take a mold of it? There must be a way, she pondered, to take a rubber mold of a dream character somehow.

          Rousing herself, she decided to ask Yorath about it. He was always full of surprises, and knew so much more than one ever imagined about multitudes of diverse topics. Eleri started to become excited at the thought of what this could mean to the development of her project. With the addition of the anti gravity animating ingredient, she could bring dream characters to life in a way never seen before in the physical world.

          And Yorath had returned as promised, and just at the right time. Despite doubting her abilities to use the elerium when he first introduced her to it, she had developed a simple enough technique to incorporate it into the statues.

          It was good to see him again, although she was disappointed to see he was not wearing that red silk jacket this time. But he had the goods, and that was the important thing. And he might have an idea about the dream casting. She would treat him to a breakfast of fresh picked mushrooms and then ask him.

          #4036
          EricEric
          Keymaster

            Ricardo had finished cleaning the tea cups in the empty office. He liked the job alright, it was a bit silly of him to surmise people would clean their own cups, and do their own teas. That was what he’d meant with the team job comment.

            Connie and Hilda were right, totally right about it; he couldn’t expect too much, he’d just arrived, he was just a simple intern in a prestigious journalistic establishment. He’d come here to learn the tricks of the trade, when he’d answered the wanted: secretary and cleaner ad of last week.
            So far, there was only so much golden nuggets of weirdo news he could find. You’d need some serious training to get to the level of Hilda and Connie, the dynamic duo.

            For now, he was content to being put to menial tasks, it helped know the colleagues better, support them as he could with the pressure on the deadlines. And also, improving the typos and legibility by cleaning up the loose letters dropped during typesetting.
            His own headline baiting skill was still rather low —it was an art to create the perfectly sexyied up heading, not too tacky, but enticing enough to captivate the readership’s attention.
            If Hilda was the queen of headline fishing, Connie was undoubtedly the empress of headline baiting.

            #3909
            TracyTracy
            Participant

              Ignoring the peculiar behaviour of Finnley, who seemed to be having a strange turn (Flove only knew what had happened to her during her absence), Liz continued with her explanation.

              “It’s the new exercise in the Mandala of Ascensions group. There are Leader Personalities, and there are Supporter Personalities ~ and let me be perfectly clear, there are no in betweens or other categories in this particular exercise. Members of the group must choose one category only.”

              Liz paused to light a cigarette, and turn down the background chatter emanating from the puerile radio show, which was distracting her from her train of thought.

              #3878
              TracyTracy
              Participant

                Geoffroy du Limon had felt confident that he had the skills to act the new role, considering his notable career in the theatre in the old story. He liked his new name: Miles Fitzroy suited him perfectly; and he anticipated resonating with London (although he would have preferred New Zealand: he’d heard that his old friend Francette Fine had been assigned a new story there). He found himself floundering, however, in unexpected ways.

                The most unsettling factor was the absence of a back story. Without associations or automatic habits, he was unsure how to play his personality. Without triggers, where was the humour? There was simply nothing dramatic, comedic or tragic, nothing to make the play thrilling, exciting, or enticing, if everyone was an innocuous beige blob. A present beige blob is still a blob and not very interesting.

                Roll up! Roll up! Come and see the show! Watch the cast focusing on themselves and not reacting to triggers! Nothing to judge here, folks, Roll up!

                Geoffroy had no idea that having so few limiting guidelines could be so difficult. One had always assumed that it was the limiting guidelines that boxed one in, held one back, he mused, not the other way round. It was indeed a challenge, and he found himself feeling nostalgic for the old story.

                #3819

                “Oh, what a perfectly splendid idea.You are a genius.” Evangeline smiled to herself as she imagined Ed fingering his moustache—a sweet little habit he had whenever he felt embarrased— and blushing at her praise.

                “Well I don’t know about that; let’s see if it works first,” said Ed gruffly. “Insanitization en masse at a bake sale is no piece of cake.”

                He paused significantly but when nothing was forthcoming from the lovely Evangeline he added a little impatiently: “No piece of cake. Get it?”

                Evangeline (who had not got it) quickly tried to make amends. “Hahahahahaha you are a droll fellow!” she chuckled, just a tad too loudly. It almost sounded like a cackle and if there was one thing Ed Steam was renowned for it was his ability to sort out the chuckles from the cackles.

                There was a strained silence.

                “Anyway, Evangeline, who made this latest cackling complaint? Are they going to cause any trouble or are they just your usual run of the mill cackle complainer?

                Bea somebody. She just moved to Cackletown recently and we don’t know much about her yet. Or what she is capable of. I think we need to keep a close eye on that one.”

                #3815
                F LoveF Love
                Participant

                  “We have registered your complaint and our Noise Control Officer will be around shortly.”

                  The smooth voice of the woman on the other end of the line did little to placate Bea. In fact, she could feel herself working up to a frenzy.

                  “The damn officer will come around and that cackler will stop cackling and your officer will say: we can’t do anything about the cackling if we don’t hear the cackling for ourselves. Because we have to measure the decibels of the cackle and we have to ascertain the cackle is indeed loud enough for us to warrant confiscating the cackle.

                  Bea knew she was getting agitated and took a deep breath. Just breathe. Calm down.

                  “It really is most annoying to be woken up continually by cackling. What would you do in my situation? she asked, miserably imagining the red manicured fingernails and perfectly coiffured hair which surely must be attached to a voice this calm and imperturbable.

                  “Have you tried talking to the Cackler? It’s always best if people can work it out between themselves. Point out to them how their cackling is impacting on your quality of life. I am sure they will be reasonable.”

                  #3789

                  In reply to: The Hosts of Mars

                  EricEric
                  Keymaster

                    When Eb woke up, there was a dozen messages left on his phone.
                    He didn’t have to check to know.
                    His mother wasn’t too subtle when he missed their weekly call.

                    She now lived in a modest retiring home in Mississippi, spending most of her time on social networks exchanging links about anything from politics and revolution and anarchy, kittens and drugs. Oh, that, and politics too. And revolution.
                    She was suffering from early stages of Alzheimer, but called it “transition” as the old-age hype advertised some decades earlier, and due to her refusal to take her prescriptions, it wasn’t improving much as time went by. But Eb’s prognosis was more like “selective Alzheimer”, as she would perfectly recall when (and how many times) he had missed their weekly calls.

                    He could already hear her complain about how she was left out of the loop, that the world story would be over by the time she catches up with all the gossips they’d hidden from her. Often, she would become so agitated that Fancy, her nurse would come help her relax and stop waking up the others. Everything was much less confusing thanks to Fancy.

                    After all that is said, he loved his mother deeply. She was always full of extravagant ideas and when she stopped doubting herself, she had her moments of sheer brilliance.

                    Being his only son, that she’d taken care of as a single mother most of her life, he felt tremendous pressure to be worthy of her sacrifices. So talking about his job wasn’t really something he liked to explore with her. If she’d known what he did for a living,… he couldn’t bear to imagine the look of crushed hopes and expectations on her devastated face. Well, suffice to say her face needn’t any of it.
                    Instead, he’d told her he was working in a tree nursery, working on pest control, with humane and eco-conscious methods. Which actually wasn’t too far off the truth. The pests were the glitches of the program, and the vegetables… well, that didn’t need much explaining.

                    “Tricia speaking, who’s this?” Eb knew she knew perfectly well it was him, but the game was ever the same
                    “Mother, it’s Eb”
                    “Ebenezer, my dear boy, how kind of you to remember your old mother. What have you been up to? So many things happened here, with that new batch of decrepit old farts who arrived last month, so much drama. But you should tell me about you. Oh, makes me recall that stupid incident, a synch! I should tell Fancy about it! Fancy, Fancy!
                    Oh dear… She’s gone cleaning up again. The last one who came in is a Chinese, and all his family is there, I bet she’s cooking some rice now, it smells funny. Fancy! Mind the rice! So well, it’s like the twins I talk with on the Internet, with funny names, Cilantro and Nutmeg, something like that, well, they have so many funny stories, like that meteor that dropped on Mars and blacked-out the TV show, they think it’s all bollocks. I told them I’d ask you about this, after all you did some studies in physics before becoming a gardener, you’ve always been the clever one in the lot, always helping with the dust stuck in my keyboard, and other IT problems. Oh dear… that was fun, but I think I must go, Fancy is waving at me, she says hello by the way! Oh, she rolls your eyes at you, how cute! Time for my siesta, … what? Oh, and change my nappies too, thanks Fancy, you’re precious, I keep forgetting everything. Talk to you soon my boy!”

                    Well… If he hadn’t been so hungover, he probably would have tried to place some funny comments, or at least a well-meaning “hmmm hmmm”, to let her know he wasn’t just letting her monologue. Today was a good day notwithstanding, she hardly had a complaint. He should remember to send Fancy a card and a nice honey pot like he did every year, she was doing wonders at pacifying his mother.

                    #3640
                    AvatarJib
                    Participant

                      Liz went to the patio followed by her rat poodle who was wearing a pink adidas jacket matching perfectly with Liz’ pink rabbit sleepers.
                      “Oh gosh, I forgot the little dirty thing”, she said rolling eyes.
                      Sonia, that was the dog’s name, barked like only rat poodles know how to bark, with a classy snappy high pitched tone.

                      #3568
                      TracyTracy
                      Participant

                        Flora came to her senses muttering something about a coachload of American tourists in Italy. Bert had been the first to arrive at the scene of the accident. Not one to flap in a crisis, he calmly picked up the injured woman and carried her to the sofa in the living room, instructing Prune to fetch the mop and clean the blood off the floor. By the time Bert had seen to the wound on Flora’s head, she was starting to come round, muttering gibberish and apparently confused.

                        “Where am I? Is this Florence or Rome? Am I late?” she asked, telling Bert she was perfectly alright now thank you, although she clearly wasn’t.

                        “No, you aint late, dear, it’s still quite early,” Bert replied soothingly.

                        “But I must get to the Vatican Library, I must be getting on now,” she said, trying to stand up.

                        Bert gently but firmly pushed her back down, saying, “Have a nice cup of tea first, plenty of time for that later.”

                        “What the dickens is going on now?” asked Mater. “What’s all this about Rome? Anyone seen my reading glasses?” she asked, peering around the room from the doorway.

                        Bert explained briefly, and asked Mater to sit with Flora while he went to make the tea.

                        #3526
                        TracyTracy
                        Participant

                          Another bang on my bedroom door, my hands suspended over the keyboard. “Go away Prune!” I shouted, exasperated. “If you bang on my door again, I’ll come out and give you such a wallop, now bugger off, will you!”

                          “It’s me, Corrie” came Clove’s voice. Walked over to the door and unlocked it. A chat with my sister might help me with this project. Unlike Prune, who would be guaranteed to disrupt my train of thought.

                          Locking the door again I tell Clove what I’m writing about. We don’t go to school, me and Clove, we’re what they call “homeschooled” but what that actually means in our case is that we’re left to our own devices most of the time. Aunt Idle asks us (when she remembers) what we’ve been working on, and as long as we’ve been writing something or researching something, she’s happy.

                          So when I saw the group project about alternative timelines to avoid the disaster timeline, I had some ideas. Well, to be honest, I didn’t have any definite ideas until I saw the other suggestions. All Americans, and all of them talking about changing the timelines by changing the results of presidential elections!

                          “Not much chance of a different timeline there then!” remarked Clove astutely.

                          “Exactly!” I knew Clove would get it, she knows were I’m coming from, but then, everyone knows twins are like that.

                          “So this is what the plan is, right: “The goal of this exercise is to discuss amongst the group and choose significant past moments, and then As a Group, focus on creating alternate histories, thus sparking alternate timelines. We should vividly imagine moving forward from those probability forks and creating a more viable and desirable future.” Oh, and this bit here: “ our current timeline is convoluted to the point where many probabilities are leaning towards a disaster scenario simply to shake out of the current focus.” And then all these suggestions about different presidents, and then this: “My suggestion would be also to consider how we would like our current time frame to appear,” so I’m thinking…”

                          “I’m thinking” interrupted Clove, continuing my train of thought, “Of all those states and communities that got with the programme ten years ago, and took their kids out of school and built those Earthships so they didn’t need money for water and electricity..”

                          “And started cooperative worker owned businesses like they do in South America….”

                          “And they all started a guaranteed basic income years ago, so everyone was doing what they did best, especially the kids, cos they had such great ideas and weren’t stuck in boring schoolrooms…..”

                          “and there was no poverty, and nobody without a home…”

                          “Yeah, and they all stopped paying taxes so there was no money for the military, and then loads more people stopped paying taxes too…”

                          “Good one, Clove!”

                          “So nobody gave a fuck what president was elected anyway, because they were all sorting themselves out, and those states and communities were doing so well…”

                          “Because they’d already been doing it for years” I added.

                          “…that other states and communities started doing it too.”

                          “So that it snowballed, like dominoes, and there were more and more of these places..”

                          “And they had exchange students and stuff like that to learn from each other, and shared stuff online..”

                          “So when the disasters struck, it wasn’t half so bad because there were already a bunch of people managing perfectly well without dollars or oil, and they could help the people in the disaster. Makes more sense that electing another blimmin president, huh?”

                          “Bloody obvious if you ask me” replied Clove. “Pity we don’t have basic income, did you see Mater’s face when she was talking to that debt collector?”

                          That made me laugh, remembering her waving the stick around. “Her face was as purple as her cardigan.”

                          In unison, we both starting singing Start Wearing Purple and dancing around, acting the fool. I had a purple wig hanging on the back of my chair, so I put that on, and Clove grabbed a purple feather boa off the coat stand. No shortage of wigs in this town, though god only knows why. Just about every damn trunk in every empty house is full of wigs.

                          #3481
                          AvatarJib
                          Participant

                            Second Journey ~ August 24th, 2014

                            Duration 24 minutes

                            Directions : Meet with your power animal, ask them to lead you to the upper realm to meet with your guide. Ask the name of your guide and what they will be likely helping you with. Ask them for your personal symbol and how you can use it. Then follow your power animal into showing you the potential development for the stories.

                            Accounts

                            Eric
                            My snake animal guide appears very fast, I see its eyes first. It shifts into a powerful cobra, and fans out its hood into multiple heads, like Ananta (Shesha Naga), and says I can call him Nagini (like in Harry Potter, that’s also the playful name I give to the plush snake at our doorsteps).
                            It wraps its multiple heads around me like a ball, and we woosh into the ground to what I guess is the underworld, it seems like a long coiled path around a sort of vortex, after a few moments in a sort of crystal cave, I’m a bit skeptical what we’re doing there, I catch a glimpse of a white horse from the back, so I guess Jib’s Conan is checking on us, and restate my intent.
                            I go though the light of one of the brightest glowing crystals, and the travel resumes, this time like the giant snake wraps ourselves in coils around a column of rocks, and we climb that high mountain very fast. It reminds me of Mt Meru in Buddhism or the Immortals palace in the Chinese Buddhist tales (like in the 2014 movie The Monkey King).
                            The place is like a beautiful platform/palace of giant proportions, with a golden light. When we arrive, the snake becomes much smaller, and golden too, and wraps itself around my left arm. It guides me to explore different places, a temple, a place over the clouds where there are dances, etc. I decide to rest under a tree and meditate and be open to possibilities.
                            The snake shifts around in various forms as if to reflect the nature of my mind, a giant parasol, or a stream of many paths at my feet. It connects me to a picture I saw of a Buddhist painting where the mind represented as an elephant is led by the monkey brain around a snake-like path. I realize the person I saw briefly earlier is the guide that helped Sunwukong (the monkey king) and seems to be the guide I’m looking for.
                            (I find the name later is Puti or Subhuti).
                            When I mentally ask for a name, the name Pachacamac comes strongly. He shows me many things related to my symbol. As a spinning cube with the floating feather in the middle and the arrow pointing towards the heart. The spin of the cube creates illusion within illusion, the arrow wobbles but stays towards the heart.
                            He shows me a chasm and how to create a bridge over the clouds, by showing me the mirror image in my heart chakra. The bridge is built inside. At the same time, I was trying to focus on the music to deepen the trance, and realized outside (one storey below) was Jib’s music played on the speakers, aligned with the one playing in the headset, although a few seconds off, the rhythm was perfectly in synch…
                            He also shows me another image, of a deep well deep inside the mountain that we can see from above the clouds. The image inside is dark and fluctuates with the water’s surface, and also reflecting quite a small portion of the beautiful landscape around.
                            He explains that the well is the world we create, the mind and the perception is the water’s surface. It’s the external world, while the heart is all that we perceive as we discuss.
                            There are other things shared at a subjective level.

                            Francie
                            After I connected with my power animal, we went to the upper world. We went through water to get there until we came to land.
                            I asked for my main guide.
                            I think I took on the characteristics of my guide. by that I mean I felt myself become a different being, and then switched back and forwards between myself and the other. It was very clear. The other was masculine, strong, very alert, very watchful, powerful.
                            I asked for the guide’s name and received the answer, Carlos.
                            I asked for the area which the guide would work with me. I have had a sharp pain in my left abdomen under my rib for half an hour. I felt my guide reach in and do something energetically in that area. The pain left and has not returned.
                            I asked for a symbol and saw what looked like a key-hole shape.
                            There was a key too.
                            It was a very particular shape.
                            There was a door. And the key hole was up very high in the door.
                            I had to reach up high to get to it. And I put the key in.
                            I wasn’t sure if those were symbols.
                            The key hole and the key were shapes.
                            I was tracing them with my hand.

                            Jib
                            I settle in myself and arrive directly in a kind of lava world. There are stalagmites and magma puddles, it’s very fiery and earthy. Then I call my horse who just nudge my left shoulder, he was already there.
                            I ride him first and take time to bond with him. Then ask him to take me to the upper realm to Michel. Without much transition I am there, I feel a definite difference of feeling and texture. I say hi and ask Michel if he can show me the use of my personal symbol or particular aspects to it.
                            The he focuses my attention to the octagon and the connection with the number eight. He shows me how it connects with the musical octave and sounds as a resonator. It can also be used like the shamanic drum. The coil inside is connected with the circle, the spiral and the labyrinth. My symbol is a kind of labyrinth with the diamond representing the central room where the graal is, so to speak.
                            He shows me other stuff that I don’t recall at the moment.
                            When I realize that it will be all, I ask my guide if he can introduce me to another guide that can help me with the use of my symbol. He sends me in a direction that goes up in a cave world. There are faceless figures, I don’t pay much attention to them. When I arrive, the guide sits me on the ground and a journey inside my symbol begins. With the octagon connecting quite strongly with the lava and earth again. I am in a lava world again, which is strange. I ask the guide what is his name and I suddenly understand it is Athumbra the Dreamwalker from whom I’m fragmented.
                            He shows me the connection of my symbol to the fire and earth, and the depth of the world. He suggests me that instead of focusing on the shape of the symbol I connect with how the different parts connects together and to other aspects of consciousness, and how they are representative of my own energy personality. Not try to look outside for an answer in a way at the moment.
                            So I begin to experience the shapes, and it turns like a clock, take different colors, etc.
                            This will be something I’ll have to do again.
                            Then I ask my power animal to show me what would be interesting to me to explore in the story now.
                            He shows me a nest and I connect it with the stork nests I’ve been talking about in the last comment and that I used in the quote of the week picture. Without consciously connecting the two. I’ve written the comment before making the picture.
                            It will have to do with how the nest is comfortable but don’t make you learn much about life and your potentials.
                            Then he showed me something related to ants and colonies, that I connected with Mars, the colonies of Mars. There is something about community and social network for me to explore.
                            Then I asked him to help me decipher the energy transmission Eric sent to me the other day, and it had something to do with networks again and how we create a space of something through our relationships, the space of love, the space of friendship, and we create fields and connective tissues that we nourish through experience and attention and involvement.
                            At some point in the beginning I briefly wondered what was happening with you guys and felt propelled into something like water and impression of struggling with current, there were two moon crescents holding together by their “backs”, and purple or pink colors.

                            Tracy
                            The Zebra walked towards me across a grassy plain then I circled him, floating, and we went down a slope through the trees, an old road paved with stones. We wound down and came to a great expanse of metallic pink water, like a wise (typo! wide) river.
                            There was a guy in much heavy stone coloured rough clothes on with a very old face who didn’t look at me, he was on a raft with a long pole for steering. Asked his name and got Frudo. (was slightly skeptical that I got the name right) The symbol was like a clubs of cards, 3 circles interlocking with an in flow of the stem part. Domain was water, flow and fluidity (and dams, apparently).
                            We went down with the raft on the wide pink river, and the pace increased and there were people of all kinds lining both banks, watching. The wide river came to an immensely steep and deep waterfall, but there were pools and much smaller waterfalls on either side of it. All the water was pink.
                            We navigated from pool to pool on the right of the waterfall mostly, each pool had people, some of the pools were dammed, and some were more open and easily flowing to the next pool. Some dams were high and some pools had people looking over the edge at the waterfalls below their pools.
                            In a pool on the right, a very fat pink baby was sitting in the middle, I picked him up and held him and asked his name and it was Ezekial.
                            Then a fly landed on my right shoulder and I looked to the right and saw a scrunched up face of my mother, with a tight smile. My breathing started to get constricted and I saw mustard yellow mangle of tubes like intestines in that pool.
                            Then there was a lot of fingers stroking and pulling threads out of the dam around that pool, like pulling soft pink wax. Breathing continued to be restricted, and some becoming vapour or mist stuff that wasn’t very clear or droplets leaping from pool to pool as an alternative route to surface pools and waterfalls….
                            Then went down down down into a vast pool of pink water, faster and faster towards a narrow tube at the bottom, and then flipped over onto my back and saw the sun far above and rose slowly floating towards the surface.
                            Several times I saw purple and light green.
                            The breathing thing was interesting if not so pleasant.
                            The personal symbol may be connected to the flow from pool to pool somehow.

                            #3381

                            Lazuli Galore looked back over his shoulder to make sure that the three travelers were following him. He retained his shapeshifted elephant form for the time being for high visibility purposes in the fog, and so as not to confuse the new arrivals with a sudden change of appearance. The first thing was to gain their trust and ensure that they followed him. His job was to monitor new arrivals and escort them inside the walled city of Gazalbion before they could start any more settlements in the free zone. The problem of new arrivals had escalated post 2014 as more and more people developed the art of teleporting, and the island to many was considered a promised land, a land of wine and cucumbers, attracting the world weary and the bored, the adventurous explorers, as well as the merely curious day trippers. Had they all been regular tourists of the old fashioned kind, who came for a determinate short stay and spent lavishly on the resident occupants provisions, it would not have been a problem, it would have been welcomed. But these people were staying, leaving only for brief trips back home to attend to their responsabilites there, and returning, bringing ever more people with them to settle in the free zone. They were arriving in droves, and it was of paramount importance to contain them, and shield the free zone from their incursions.

                            Lazuli Galore was pleased to see that the three travelers were running to catch up with him. The other one would have been more trouble, and Lazuli knew he was right to despatch him to the elsespace arrangement with a perfectly executed parachute drop. It was the first time he had tried the novel approach of a parachuting elephant and was pleased with the result. It would not be long before that guy found his way out and came looking for his companions, but Gazalbion wasn’t far and Lazuli was confident that the three would be safely locked behind it’s walls before he reappeared.

                            #3324
                            EricEric
                            Keymaster

                              Irina gave an appreciative look at the holographic map that Mr R had made of the island.
                              By a simple triangulation technique combined with sophisticated echolocation, the robot had managed to come up with a rough estimation of it, even though scattered patches were black, representing the blind spots, apparently due to the abundance of water bodies on the island that created interferences.

                              “Well, it actually looks better than I expected, the coast is a bit rocky, but probably more temperate and less humid than here. Some of those spots here seem to hint at habitations…”
                              “Madam is absolutely right” Mr R opined with confidence, and a glimmer of pride in his forehead interface.

                              “When the girl is well enough to travel, we’ll leave.”
                              “She’s still a bit cold and delirious.” The robot assessed, “Her condition has improved steadily, if not quickly. There is a good chance the green won’t go, but she will live.”

                              “Have you finished the sentinel?”
                              “Yes, Madam. It is complete and will serve well in monitoring the gate. Besides water rats and wrecked boats, not much seems to have went through recently. Although…”
                              “Yes Mr R?”
                              “I’m not quite certain Madam, which is confusing for me, but there was a moment were my sensors noticed a presence of a young person, but it lasted only for a few nanoseconds in a row, then I could not perceive it… It probably was a malfunction of my sensors Madam, I apologize, but the humidity…”
                              “I don’t believe your sensors malfunctioned Mr R. I do believe someone’s been trying to phase in, but didn’t succeed. Make sure your sentinel can detect such things…”
                              She went on: “Another thing, before I go for my astral meditation. Did you manage to get me a date? I’m no rocket science expert, but it sounds easier to get than your quite astonishing map Mr R.”
                              “Madam is too kind. And as as always, perfectly astute. This should be easy, but again this modest robot has run into a profoundly perplexing paradox.”
                              “A paradox, how exciting. What is it?”
                              “According to the shifting position of constellations during the nights and the sun’s elevation, the results differ from one day to another. We have to run a few more test to be conclusive…”
                              “Is is a local occurrence?”
                              “It seems to be true for the whole island, Madam. It is currently fluctuating between a series of years, some of which I mapped to the following years, in no particular order: 555, 777, 888, 1010, 1111, 1212, and so on until 2121, and as well, a series of related geographical points on the Earth.”
                              “No wonder it seems to be the garbage collector of the entire universe”, she sighed.

                              Then, something hit her.

                              If myths of such places were to be trusted… Could it be… the mythical Avalon ?
                              If that were the case… Who could well be the mysterious resuscitated bog mummy?
                              One of the island’s Queens ?”

                              She smiled to herself, brushing off the notion. Irina, you’re such a hopeless romantic…

                              #3221

                              Mirabelle and Adeline sat in the morning sun on the verandah, appreciatively nibbling the perfectly formed sliced toasted bread and marmalade.
                              Almost six months had passed since they’d been found on the beach, confused and soaked, babbling incoherently. An early morning beach walker had found them (she had wondered if she was dreaming or hallucinating), and had attempted to engage them in conversation. A rudimentary smattering of French acquired during a grape picking sojourn in France many years ago helped. Much of what the bizarrely clad group said was incomprehensible, but it was clear that they were lost and hungry, so Lisa invited them back home with her. They were reluctant to get into the car, fearing a trap, and when she started the engine, they panicked and scrambled to get back out until Boris calmed them down and suggested they had better trust this stranger because frankly, what were their options? She seemed kind and helpful, even if she was shockingly under dressed with her legs exposed for all to see, and had an invisible and very noisy horse pulling her carriage.
                              Lisa lived in a relatively new community of creative and forward thinking individuals who were in the process of renovating an abandoned village in the orange groves. They called the village the Trading Post, a name that was a loose play on words on the social media platform where they had first become acquainted and traded and shared posts. They were a diverse assortment of people from all over the world, united with the common goal of experimenting with a new type of anarchist culture, a novel creative and expansive playful approach that was becoming increasingly popular.
                              Pierre and Étienne’s knowledge of French had come to the rescue upon the first arrival of the group, as they unraveled their strange tale. After much confusing conversation and translations for the rest of the occupants of the village, it became clear that the group were time travelers, although somewhat accidental and clearly unprepared.
                              While the travelers rested after an unfamiliar but welcome meal, the villagers discussed the situation with much interest and curiosity. It was decided that they would keep the news of the travelers a secret for the time being, and gradually assist them with learning about their new timeframe, current customs and the local languages.

                              #3191
                              AvatarJib
                              Participant

                                The next morning, Linda Paul consulted her mailbox. Seventy three messages. She had a nervous laugh. ‘Incredible’, she thought as she sifted through the mails. More and more incompetence, that was all there was in the mails. The maintenance team had been unable to unclog the time sewers. They were writing mails after mails to show that they were working. Linda Paul felt an urge to answer back ‘Stop writing mail and work!’ But instead she remembered the Love and Shine training she went with Sadie last month. “Breath in, deeply, blink three times slowly, and exhale”, she said inwardly. Already she felt better.

                                They didn’t have much time, which was a bit of a paradox considering that they had a time sewer at their disposal, but the more it stayed clogged, the more difficult it would be to find the precise way out.

                                She put on her blue and silver work suit. It really fitted her. Doubled with artificial mouse fur, very warm and good for qi circulation. She had silvery stripes added to make it more queen-like. She chose her platform boots carefully, she didn’t want to get too muddy nor stay stuck in the time muck.

                                The time sewer central hub was not at the bar. This was merely one of the numerous available entry points. It was hidden in the calanques near Aubagne. She had to drive her Subaru SUV to go there. Which was not an easy task with platform boots. When she arrived on site, she realized the work team was not there. She squinted her eyes. That was suspicious. Who was sending the mails if nobody was doing anything ?

                                She went to the hub and almost puked before she could get close enough to see what was inside. The smell was terrible, all the scum of the ages seemed to have disgorged here. She found a gas mask, which fit perfectly once she had gotten rid of her Darco Barbane meringue wig. She saw her face in the side mirror of a truck. She looked a bit like Bobba Fet. She pushed away the irritation to have to go to such length with her pride to have the work done.

                                It was much better with the mask, she realized. So it was a small price to pay to the drag-style. When she arrived to the hub, it looked worse than she had imagined. The edge of the sewer hub was covered in white moss, which seemed to be pulsating slowly. She thanked her Love and Shine training once again, it helped her keep her smile on as she went on. What she saw next alarmed her. A few people were lying there, unconscious. Yet, some of them were wearing masks. Not a good idea to go further.

                                She’d always been proud of her quick wit. It had helped her a lot when guys were mocking her wigs at school. Now she needed it for another kind of life threatening situation. She looked around, trucks, barracks, more people on the floor, a ginger cat licking its balls… she laughed nervously. Strange that the cat didn’t seem affected. She noted that somewhere in her mind, she might need it later. Then she saw exactly what she needed. The dildo truck. She never remembered the real name, but it sure looked like a giant dildo in the front of a truck. She didn’t know what was its real use of course, but years of gauging the size of men’s attributes allowed her to see that it fitted perfectly the sewer hub.

                                “Hard on, ladies”, she thought as she climbed in the front seat, saying a silent prayer to all the Queens of all ages. She started the truck and began to move. She had the weirdest impression to understand what it mean to think with your dick. She stopped the truck, facing the sewer hole with her dildo. She noticed a small red button on the dashboard, it had a tag on it which read “lubricant”. She pushed it several times and nothing happened. Go to hell, she thought.
                                Then the queen revved up the truck. “Love and Shine, biiiitches”, she said as a mantra, and let it all go.

                                The mind has a tendency to forget unpleasant things. All she could remember was that she had to get in and out several times. And that nasty suction noise. But in the end, she could clean wash the white moss with the water jet incorporated in the truck. She turned the sewer back on and threw the gas mask in the hole to check it. As good as new, and the smell was gone too. Her incredible memory allowed her to register that the cat as well was gone.

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