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    “Food fight really?” Finnley was aghast. “I suppose, you’re all planning on cleaning up your mess? I’m feeling a little weak in the respiratory department.”

    She placed her elbow in front of her mouth for a dry cough, looking over to see the reactions.

    “I bet cleaning us the lard will get us points for continuity,” mused Godfrey.


    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage


    “Well, that was certainly enlightening.” Star said, once they got out of the bushes where they’d fell.

    Tara looked at the bushes and mused “Must be what they mean when they say it all went pear-shaped from now on…”

    “Nonsense, Tara. At least we now know there’s a good chance the real Vince was planning to spread some pathogen into the cult, got caught and sent into a coma for it.”

    “Shouldn’t we leave Rosamund with those silly conspiracy theories? After all, we were hired to find Basil, not to save the world.”

    “Thank the Mother for that, we’re not equipped, and it can’t afford our saving.”

    “Speak for yourself!” hissed Tara. “So, Basil? Any idea where he might be now?”

    “My guess he’s held prisoner at the cult. We should give it a second look.”

    “Might be tougher now it’s in lockdown.”

    Star grinned widely. “I always knew I’d find good use for those nice fancy party nurse dresses.”


    “Who can that be now!” exclaimed May as she made her way to the back door.  A flustered looking woman in odd looking mismatched clothes was standing on the door step.

    I ’ave come to ’elp Finnley wiz ze bedding!” she said by way of introduction, “But I ‘ave lost my baby, ’ave you seen ’er? My name is Fanella.  I ’ave come to ’elp Finnley wiz ze bedding, but I must find my daughter first!”

    “You’d better come in,” replied May, wondering what to do.  Until the right baby turned up, she could hardly give this woman her daughter back.  But the poor woman was distraught, and May wanted to ease her distress.  She would have to try to delay her somehow.

    “There is no need to worry, er, Fanella, as it happens there is an unexpected baby girl visiting with the bosses son, but they are both fast asleep. They are quite safe, but I am not in a position to disturb them yet. Do sit down, you look exhausted.  Let me get you a drink.”

    May handed her a glass of wine. “How on earth did you manage to lose your daughter?”

    “I was just about to ring ze bell but I was so nervous I ’ad to pee so I ran quickly be’ind ze bushes. And when I ’ad finished, my baby was gone!” Fanella started to weep.

    “Did you say you’d come to help Finnley in the bed?” Suddenly May started to wonder if this was another call girl for Mr August. Was he planning a threesome?

    “Yes, I ’ave come to ’elp Finnley,” Fanella replied, “Wiz ze bedding.”

    “And you brought your baby with you?”  aghast, May wondered what to do next. Maybe this woman shouldn’t be given the child back after all.  It had been a long night, with far too many babies.


    “I have nothing against outrageous clothes,” Liz said, feeling the unspoken murmurs of “we noticed” from the others. She smoothed down the voluminous pink satin of her floor length gown, batting her false eyelashes.  “Life is one long fancy dress party, and one should dress accordingly. Today I am Barbara Tartland,” Liz flashed her long pink nails. “Otherwise known as the Pink Thing.”

    Godfrey replied with some alarm, “You’re not planning on writing soppy romances are you, all with identical plots and predictable characters?”

    “Why Godfrey, I thought you’d be pleased,” Liz said. “You know how they fly off the shelves.”

    “That’s because the characters are trying to commit suicide,” said Finnley.



      There’s no two ways about it: I’ve let myself go. There’s never any excuse for that, even if you are turning one hundred. I’ve always tried to impress this on Dodo, but will she listen? That hair of hers! God knows what’s hiding in it. And those nasty dungarees she likes so much; they’d stand on their own if she ever got out of them.

      Not that I am one for fashion, mind. Last thing I bought was a few decades ago. Some striped pants that one of the twins helped me buy on the internet, on the line, as they say. The legs were that wide I was scared some critter might crawl up to my privates. Don’t want that going on at my age! When Bert said he had a pair like it once, well, that was the last straw.

      One hundred!  Wonder if I’ll get one of those letters from the King. That’s about all the monarchy are good for now. After that debacle back in the 20’s, thought they’d do away with them. But old big ears is hanging in there; reckon he must be nearing his hundredth soon.

      Anyway, the mirror doesn’t lie and what it’s telling me ain’t so fancy. My hair looks like something the moths have had a chew at and I’ve put on that much flab the only thing will fit me is a potato sack. And now Prune’s planning some big birthday bash…I’ve got my work cut out! She thinks I don’t know but there’s not much gets by me. If people think you’ve lost your marbles, they’ll say all sorts in front of you. And since those magic pills the aboriginal fellow gave me, my marbles are all back where they should be, thank you very much! Now I just need some pills for my boobs.


    “Init been quiet as being caught in the doldruffs, my Mavis?” Sha was sandwiched in the cryogenic apparatus like a tartine in a toaster, with her ample person protruding like cheese squeezed in too much.

    The door flung open.

    “Good Lord, aren’t them splendigious, those little tarts, meringue and all.”

    Berenice, Barb’s niece, trotting in his steps, taking her role as the new temp assistant very seriously was about to voice a response that he quickly tutted away. “I wasn’t talking to you.”

    “Took me a while to find out the thread though, buried through all that poubelle creative thinking and monologues, and bla and bla. Action all gone missing safe for a little excitement in Tik…” He stopped, looking around suspiciously. “They’re here, I know. Stop it, now. Hey. Shut up!”

    He turned to Berenice. “I wasn’t talking to you. Who are you by the way? Has Liz or Lucinda written you in?”

    Sha, and Glo, and Mavis, all squeezed in the cryotanks were not wasting a drop of the show.

    “He’s been acting all strange, since he cracked that red crystal.”
    “Shht, Glo. You don’t want him to get mad and stop all our beauty treatment. I can feel my skin tighten and dewrinkle.”
    “T’is like ironing, fussure. Some steam and a good hot iron to remove the wrinkles.”
    “Ahahah, wrinkles yourself, they’re more like crevices, hihihi!”
    “But first, nuffin like a ice treatment to tighten the glutes.”
    “Oh uhuh, haha, she said glutes like a snotty beauty specialist. Next she’ll say we need to do Pontius Pilates…”

    Berenice couldn’t help herself. She blurted out in one quick sentence “But what are you planning to do with them, Doctor?”

    He paused a moment his conversation with the invisible guests then turned nonchalently at B.

    “But just… perfecting them, sweet thing. Oh, and love what you did with the beehive.”


    WIB (workman in blue) opened his lunch box and unwrapped a sandwich. He sighed when he saw it was cheese and pickle again. It had been cheese and pickle all week, a sure sign that WAH (woman at home) wasn’t giving him the attention he deserved, throwing the easiest thing together day after day instead of planning a nice roast chicken dinner, with the prospect of a couple of days of savoury chicken sandwiches to take to work. She hadn’t even bothered to boil up a few hard boiled eggs for a bit of variety. He loved egg sandwiches. He wasn’t a hard man to please, he ruminated dolefully, chewing the cheese and pickle.

    He reached for his flask to wash it down with a gulp of tea, and noticed with some surprise that she’d bought him a new flask. His old one had a few dents in the screw on cup, and this one looked all shiny and new. Anxious to wash down the cheesy lump in his throat, he unscrewed the cap and poured the flask over the cup.

    But there was no tea in the flask, nothing poured out of it. He peered inside and shook it.

    “That woman’s lost her marbles!”

    It was the last straw. He stood up, shook the flask above his head, and roared incoherently.

    “Everything alright, mate?” asked his work colleague mildly. WIB2 was contentedly munching a juicy pink ham sandwich. He even had a packet of crisps to go with it, WIB1 noticed.

    “No tea? Fancy some of my coffee? Pass yer cup. What’s in the flask then, what’s rattling?”

    WAB1 sat back down on the low wall and upended the flask, pulling at a bit of black stuff that was protruding from the top.

    ““Maybe it’s full of banknotes!” WIB2 suggested.

    “It’s a fucking doll! What the..?”

    “Why did your old lady put a doll in your flask instead of tea, mate? Private joke or something, bit of a lark?” WIB2 elbowed WIB1 in the ribs playfully. “No?” he responded to WIB1’s scowl. “Maybe there’s something stitched inside it, then.”


    Lucinda, where is this going?”

    “I don’t fucking know, Helper Effy.”

    “I thought as much. Perhaps we’d better go back to the beginning.”


    In reply to: The Stories So Near


    Newest developments

    POP-IN THREAD (Maeve, Lucinda, Shawn-Paul, Jerk, [Granola])

    Maeve and Shawn-Paul are travelling separately to the Australian bush, and end up together at the Flying Fish Inn where they discover they’ve been given the same coupons. Maeve is suspicious of a mysterious man following her.
    Maeve has an exchange with Arona, and sketches her and the cat for her collection of ideas for new dolls. They discover that Arona has the key from her doll.
    Little is said of what happened after Maeve’s Uncle Fergus appears in dramatic fashion.
    After the collective black-out, all bets are off as to the next steps.

    In Canada, Jerk is killing time at the mall, and Lucinda is possibly taking care of Fabio who might be distressed as he’s peeing the doormat regularly.

    Granola after hopping between threads and realities, detected a psychic blast from the Doctor and while trying to investigate, ended up trapped in a tiny red crystal at the Doctor’s lair.

    FLYING FISH INN THREAD (Mater/Finly, Idle/Coriander/Clove, Devan, Prune, [Tiku])

    After the dramatic arrival of Fergus and the guests, some flirting of Sanso and Idle, Mater’s fashion show, Prune has decided to get back to school after an indigestion of medicinal lizard.

    Some of the guests, namely Connie and Hilda have gone to explore the mines. Possibly with Devan and Bert in tow.

    Fergus has mysteriously disappeared after the black-out.

    DOLINE THREAD (Arona, Sanso/Lottie, Ugo, Albie)

    Arona, Ugo, Albie and Mandrake have left the Australian Inn, after a dramatic chase by unknown assailants, possibly the magpies sent by the Doctor. They reappear in the Doline, in Leörmn’s pool, having managed to get the magpies off their trail.

    NEWSREEL THREAD (Ms Bossy, Hilda/Connie, Sophie, Ricardo)

    The Doctor has managed a psychic event of dramatic proportions. He’s noticed a glowing red crystal that seems to have interfered with his machine. He’s starting to study it, and unravel its secrets.

    Sharon, Gloria and Mavis, the dynamic trio is planning their escape from the nursing home. The psychic blast seems to have alerted Gloria somehow as to the fate of Granola (B), as she somehow guess it’s linked to the Doctor’s experiments (beauty treatments). They plan to go there to investigate (after a fashion).

    LIZ THREAD (Finnley, Liz, Roberto, Godfrey)

    Finnley has disappeared, Liz and Godfrey are to fend for themselves.

    DRAGON 💚 WOOD THREAD (Glynnis, Eleri, Fox/Gorrash, Rukshan)

    Muriel has left the cottage, and our friends are preparing their travel to the Land of Giant, while some tales are told.
    Glynnis is teaching bits to a birds’ choir.


    Aunt Idle:

    I bet you were expecting reports of action and adventure, a fast paced tale of risks and rescues, with perhaps a little romance. Hah! It’s been like a morgue around here after that fluster of activity and new arrivals. Like everyone lost the wind out of their sails and wondered what they were doing here.

    Sanso took to his room with no explanation, other than he needed to rest. He wouldn’t let anyone in except Finly with food and drinks (quite an extraordinary amount for just one man, I must say, and not a crumb or a drop left over on the trays Finly carried back to the kitchen.) I told Finly to quiz him, find out if he was sick or needed a doctor, or perhaps a bit of company, but the only thing she said was that he was fine, and it was none of our business, he’d paid up front hadn’t he? So what was the problem. Bit rude if you ask me.

    Mater had taken to her room with a pile of those trashy romance novels, complaining of her arthritis. She’d gone into a sulk ever since I ruined her red pantsuit in a boil wash, and dyed all the table linen pink in the process. The other guests lounged around listlessly in the sitting room or the porch, flicking through magazines or scrolling their gadgets, mostly with bored vacant expressions, and little conversation beyond a cursory reply to any attempt to chat.

    Bert was nowhere to be seen most of the time, and even when he was around, he was as uncommunicative as the rest of them, and Devan, what was he up to, always down the cellar? Checking the rat traps was all he said when I asked him. But we haven’t got rats, I told him, not down the cellar anyway. He gave me a look that was unreadable, to put it politely. Maybe he’s got a crack lab going on down there, planning on selling it to the bored guests. God knows, maybe that’d liven us all up a bit.

    I did get to wondering about those two women who wandered off down the mine, but whenever I mentioned them to anyone, all I got was a blank stare. I even banged on Sanso’s door a time or two, but he didn’t answer. I made Finly ask him, and she said all he would say is Not to worry, it would be sorted out. I mean, really! He hadn’t left that room all week, how was he going to sort it out? Bert said the same thing when I eventually managed to collar him, he said just wait, it will get sorted out, and then that glazed look came over his face again.

    It’s weird, I tell you. We’re like a cast of characters with nobody writing the story, waiting. Waiting to start again on whatever comes next.


    Granola suddenly popped back in the real world — the one with her friends she meant. Oh, this was all rather confusing. Looking around, she was feeling quite corporeal.

    “That can’t be right!”

    She looked around, feeling herself. That wasn’t her body, it was Tiku’s. Yet, if she was corporeal, did it mean she was in the mental space with the story characters? Boundaries seemed to blur. She took a spin around to get a feel of the space, and fell on her bum with an infectious laughter.
    Tiku was quite pliant and surprisingly accommodating of her in-that-body visits. It was as though they could converse, but it felt like a familiar voice of her own, not someone’s else.

    “I’m in the magical thread of their story, am I not? It’s all in their head…” She thought. She could feel Tiku’s mind there, laughing and answering back something about the Dreamtime, that it was all the same and connected anyway.
    “But it’s confusing as hell!” She liked a bit of order, and explanations in big bold letters.

    A jeep coming out from the horizon followed by dark billowing smoke braked noisily in front of her.

    “Hello there!” A girl was driving, wearing a sort of loose grey hijab, smiling at her.
    Tiku-Granola waved as her, still sitting on her butt.

    “Are you in trouble? No? Great. Listen, we’re looking for an Inn, it shouldn’t be very far from here. Our GPS is a piece of rubbish and is making us turn in rounds… Could you point us there, I’m afraid I took a wrong turn at the last fork in the road.”

    Granola left Tiku to reply, as she seemed to know exactly what to answer.
    “No Miss, you’re on the right road, it’s just a little ahead, you’ll find the old washed-out sign that points to the mines. Follow the sign until you reach the little brook, cross it and it’s on the left, 2 miles, then right, then…”

    Arona stopped the lady.

    “It seems a bit complicated, and my copilot here isn’t that good with memory riddles” she added pointing at Sanso. “Would you care to join us for that last mile.”

    “Sure, of course, I was planning to go back there anyways. Never seen such activity in a while. Seems they’ll need a bit of help there, with all the guests coming.”


    In reply to: The Stories So Near


    Some updates on the Heartwoods Weave

    So far, there were loosely 2 chapters in this story, and we’re entering the 3rd.
    Let’s call them:

    • Ch. 1 – The Curses of the Stolen Shards
    • Ch. 2 – The Flight to the Desert Mountains
    • Ch. 3 – Down the Lands of Giants

    Ch. 1 – The Curses of the Stolen Shards

    In Chapter One, we get acquainted with the main characters as their destinies intertwine (Rukshan, Glynis, Eleri, Gorrash, Fox, Olliver and Tak).
    In a long past, the Forest held a powerful artifact created and left behind as a seal by the Gods now departed in their World: a Gem of Creation. It was defiled by thieves (the 7 characters in their previous incarnations of Dark Fae (Ru), Toothless Dragon (Gl), Laughing Crone (El), Mapster Dwarf (Go), Glade Troll (Fo), Trickster Dryad (Ol), Tricked Girl (Ta)), and they all took a shard of the Gem, although the innocent girl was tricked to open the woods by a promise of resurrecting a loved one, and resented all the others for it. She unwittingly created the curse all characters were suffering from, as an eternal punishment. Removing the Gem from the center of the Forest and breaking it started a chain of events, leading to many changes in the World. The Forest continued to grow and claim land, and around the (Dragon) Heartwoods at the center, grew many other woods – the Haunted Bamboo Forest, the Enchanted Forest, the Hermit’s Forest, the Fae’s Forest etc. At the other side, Cities had developed, and at the moment of the story, started to gain control over the magical world of Old.
    From the special abilities the Seven gained, some changes were triggered too. One God left behind was turned into stone by the now young Crone (E).
    Due to the curse, their memories were lost, and they were born again in many places and other forms.
    During the course of Ch.1, they got healed with the help of Master Gibbon, and the Braider Shaman Kumihimo, who directed Rukshan how to use the Vanishing Book, which once completed by all, and burnt as an offering, lifted the curse. Tak (the Girl of the origin story), now a shapeshifting Gibbon boy, learned to let go of the pain, and to start to live as a young orphan under the gentle care of the writer Margoritt Loursenoir and her goat Emma, in a cottage in the woods.
    Glynis, a powerful healer with a knack for potions, still haven’t found a way to undo the curse of her scales, which she accepts, has found residency and new friends and a funny parrot named Sunshine. Eleri besides her exploration of anti-gravity, learnt to make peace with the reawakened God Hasamelis no longer vengeful but annoyed at being ignored for a mortal Yorath. Eleri continues to love to butt heads with the iniquities of the world, which are never in lack, often embodied by Leroway and his thugs. Gorrash, who adopted the little baby Snoots activated by Glynis’ potions seemed simply happy to have found a community. Fox, a fox which under the tutelage of Master Gibbon, learnt to shapeshift as a human for all his work and accumulation of good karma. Olliver, a young man with potential, found his power by activating the teleporting egg Rukshan gave him. As for Rukshan, who was plagued by ghosts and dark forces, he found a way to relieve the Forest and the world of their curse, but his world is torn between his duties towards his Fae family in the woods, his impossible love for his Queen, and his wants for a different life of exploration, especially now knowing his past is more than what he thought he knew.
    At the end of the chapter, the Door to the God’s realm, at the center of the Forest seems to have reopened.

    Ch. 2 – The Flight to the Desert Mountains

    In the second Chapter, strange sightings of light beams in the mountains prompt some of our friends to go investigate, while in the cottage, the others stay to repel encroachments by brutal modernity embodied by Leroway and his minions. Glynis has found a way to be rid of her scales, but almost failed due to Tak’s appetite for untested potions. Remaking the potion, and succeeding at last, she often still keeps her burka as fond token of her trials. Eleri is spreading glamour bomb concrete statues in the woods, and trying her hand with Glynis supervision at potions to camouflage the cottage through an invisibility spell. Muriel, Margoritt’s sister, comes for a visit.
    In the mountains, the venturing heroes are caught in a sand storm and discover spirits trapped in mystical objects. Pushing forward through the mountain, they are tracked and hunted by packs of hellhounds, and dark energy released from an earthquake. Rukshan works on a magical mandala with the help and protection of his friends. Olliver discovers a new teleportation trick making him appear two places at once. Kumihimo rejoins the friends in trouble, and they all try to leave through the magical portal, while Fox baits the dogs and the Shadow. Eerily, only Fox emerges from the portal, to find a desolated, burnt Forest and his friends all gone. They had been too late, and the Shadow went with them through the portal instead of being destroyed. Luckily, a last potion left by Glynis is able to rewind Fox in time, and succeed in undoing the disaster. The beaming lights were only honeypots for wandering travellers, it turned out.
    Shaken by the ordeal, Rukshan leaves the party for some R&R time in the parallel world of the Faes, which is now mostly abandoned.

    Ch. 3 – Down the Lands of Giants

    In Chapter 3, which has only just begun, some time has passed, and Margoritt has come back to the City, at the beginning of winter for some special kneedle treatments. Glynis and Margoritt are in turn taking care of Tak, who has joined a local school, where he seems to have befriended a mysterious girl Nesingwarys (Nesy). Gorrash seems to have been hurt, broken whilst in his statue form by Leroway’s thugs, but the Snoot babies are still staying with him, so there is hope. Fox is always hungry, and helps with the reconstruction work for the cottage, which was damaged in a fire (we suppose during Leroway’s men foray in the woods).
    Rukshan emerges from his retreat after an encounter with a mad Fae, babbling about a Dark Lord’s return. Piecing clues together, he finds a long lost World Map and connection with a renegade magician who may have been the Maker of Gorrash (and maybe linked to the trapped spirits in the mountain after all). He sends a pigeon to his friends before he returns to the thick of the Heartwoods.
    Now, it seems the Door to the God’s realm has reopened the ancient Realms of the Underworld too, all accessible through the central pillar of the World, intersecting their World precisely at the Heartwoods, were the Gem of Creation originally was. He’s planning to go to the long lost Underworld of the Giants, were he suspects the so-called Dark Lord is hiding.


    “Funny how time goes or seem to not exist at all, when you are popping in and out” mused Granola.
    It felt a few seconds since she’d left the sheen of Ferrore wrappings, but with her mind racing in all sorts of places, she’d somehow would appear in another tranche of life months apart from the last sequence she was in.
    Truth be told, she had almost forgotten about the past circumstances, or how the story was unfolding, like waking up from a dream, and barely remembering the threads of the night’s activity all the while knowing you were totally absorbed by them a few blips of consciousness ago.
    If she’d learnt something, that was to go with the flow, and start from where she was. Clues would light the way…


    Since they’d moved him (promoted, they said) to the new store in the posh suburbs, Jerk’s job had taken a turn for the worse. One thing was clear, they put him in charge because they had clearly no idea who to put there.
    He’d liked enough that the thing basically was running itself, and he didn’t have much pressure to perform for now. But honestly, these parts of the city were much less exotic to say the least. More drones consumers, bored mums, noisy kids, all day long…

    With the new schedules and the commute, it wasn’t as easy to have a social life; not that he cared too much, but he’d started to bond a bit with the funny neighbors some time ago. With the return of summer, he was thinking of having a rooftop party at their appartment’s building, but for some mysterious reason, time was passing without having even set a day for the event.

    “Less planning, more doing”, something said in his ear, or so he thought.

    “Couldn’t agree more” he said, taking his bag discreetly as he made an early exit for the day.


    Devan came back from Brisbane to help them plant the sale sign in front of the Inn. He was not sure how his sisters would take the thing, but the twins have been gone, and Prune was planning to go to Mars, her latest fad since she had seen a TV program about the Mars mission. Devan couldn’t believe they were talking about colonising Mars, but he couldn’t believe his family has stayed so long taking care of the old Inn.


    “What are you doing!” Liz’ cried in anguish. “Not my plants!”

    A bonfire was in full blaze, and Felicity relished in the view. “Don’t listen to her Leo, get rid of those nasty things — no bloody wonder she can’t see reality for fiction.”

    Liz’ was appalled at the sight of the stash going in flames. “That’s it, I’m going to call the police!”

    Godfrey had to rein her and her fury in, while her towel unravelled making her look madder by the minute. “Liz’, calm down, please. Don’t make it worse, I’ll help you get rid of her, if only for your peace of mind.”
    “You snake!” She hissed, “I’m sure your in cahoots with her, she’s been planning her revenge ever since I gave all her suitcases of clothes to charity.”
    Liz’, please, listen to yourself, you’re not making any sense. Let me get you a coconut avocado smoothie to soothe your nerves. Finnley!”


    Aunt Idle:

    Flora arrived, hot and dusty from the travelling, in the late afternoon. A shower and a well iced gin and tonic soon revived her, and I got the girls to see to supper and the oddball in room 8, and asked Bert to keep an eye on them while Flora and I sat on the porch. It did me a power of good to sit chatting and joking with a friend, a woman of my own age and inclinations, after the endless months of nothing but the company of kids and old coots.

    She looked pretty much the same as I’d gathered from the videos and photos online, although her bum was a lot bigger than I expected considering her slender frame, but she was an attractive woman with a merry gurgle of a laugh and warm relaxing energy.

    I asked her about the video she was planning to make, but it all sounded a bit vague to me. “Frame” it was to be called, and there were various period costumes involved and a considerable amount of improvisation, from what I could gather, around the theme of “frame of reference”. What that meant exactly I really couldn’t say, but she said we were all welcome to play a role in it if we liked.

    We’d been sitting out there until well past sundown, enjoying the cool evening air and a bit of Bert’s homegrown pot, posting selfies together on Spacenook and giggling at the comments, when we heard an ear splitting scream coming from an upstairs window. Flora looked at me with a raised eyebrow, and I just cracked right up for some reason, don’t ask me why. I laughed until the tears were rolling down my cheeks, and my ribs ached. I tried to stand up and fell back in the chair, which made me laugh all the more. I was wiping my eyes with a paper hanky when Clove appeared, saying Prune had had a nightmare.

    “Oh thank goodness for that!” I exclaimed, which set me off again, and this time Flora joined in. I did wonder later when I was getting ready for bed what she must have thought about it all, me having hysterics at the sound of a screaming child. But it did me a world of good, all that laughing, and I was still tittering to myself when I lurched into bed.


    It was the first of September and everyone in the village breathed a sigh of relief. Miraculously, it already seemed cooler, although it probably wasn’t, but the promise was in the air. Jack and Lisa stood on the roof terrace watching the migrating vultures glide past on their way to a new story for the winter, exerting little effort as they sailed on the thermals.
    “They never flap, do they?” remarked Lisa. “No frantic flapping or struggling to beat back the air, they just float, and steer.”
    “I wonder why they always circle our village before continuing south?”
    “They’re saying cheerio to us, Jack, although I’m sure you’d prefer a more logical explanation. It’s a reflection that we stopped flapping around with all that teleporting lark, and that we’re all back home now.” Lisa sighed with relief and hugged Jack. “I’m glad you banned teleporting for a year.”
    “I didn’t ban it!” Jack said, not wanting to me misunderstood. “You make me sound so dictatorial and bossy. I merely suggested it. Strongly suggested it,” he added. “We all need a bit of no nonsense plain old grounding and balance. It was getting ridiculous, all the drama and comings and goings.”
    Mirabelle says she wants to write a book about it” remarked Lisa. “Which is marvelous really, considering the trouble she had at first with the language. And Fanella’s studying archeology and plans to travel ~ she’s fascinated with sphinxes, not surprisingly, after leaving an energy fleck in that one on the island; not sure how much she remembers about that now though. Adeline has an exhibition coming up in Paris ~ she’s looking forward to that.”
    “I think they’re all planning on going to that, even the Russian lads. A trip down memory lane I suppose, but I expect they’ll notice some changes. But that’s another story.”


    Bullet-proofed Summary of the latest instalments of the Abalone adventures

    Most of the key characters find themselves mysteriously drawn to the ancient Temple, a place of power forgotten by most. There, many experience under a form or another the presence of the sphinx / Rene a mysterious presence left as a Guardian of the Temple by the ancient builders of the place.

    • Gwinnie – learning and remembering how to communicate with others, she subtly lead them, via mediations and meditations to the secret location of the Temple. Although some split into their own projections, she manages to go through, accompanied by George, as she was infused with the Island’s energies due to her prolonged stay in the bog. She also grows and blossoms to a woman of her natural age, and later helps reconstruct Abalone with the help of George and Rene, whom she heals.
    • King Artie / George – He remembers his intent and forgotten memories which were repressed and manipulated by the P’hope through his travel following Arona into her adventure. He reacquaints himself with Gwinnie, and together they lead the reborn Island.
    • Irina and Mr R – Initially planning to bring Gwinnie back to Karmalott, her plan changes due to the wilting of the beanstalk. Instead, she and her travelling companions find themselves drawn to the temple by the promise of an escape off the Island, via teleportation stone boxes. Instead, she meets the sphinx / Rene who guides her through her memories. It helps heal her past, and provides her with a plausible disappearance that the Chinese corporation that she escaped from a long time ago with Mr R, would believe. Next, she goes with a more humanoid and self-aware Mr R to Mars in 2121.
    • Arona – She stumbles upon the company of Irina, and recognize Gwinnie as the one she is supposed to deliver secretly to Karmalott. However, the beanstalk’s debacle they experience during a guided meditation puts a stop to her plans, and gives her a new goal. Find the spirit turtle and the mysterious Cup that can promise her to astral.
      After a quest through the undercurrents with Mandrake, and still guided by the sabulmantium, she finally finds the Cup and prepares for her next adventures into the astral.
    • Jeremy / map dancer – He reappears naked from his escape in the midst of Irina’s team with Max his cat. They follow the team to the Temple. Little is known yet of his fate.
    • Cheung Lok (and the Chinese squad) – He escapes the destruction of Gazalbion’s walls where he was detained, and use an elephant to track Sanso, who is actually Lazuli who throws him off track. He ends up teaming up with Berberus, the assassin despatched by the P’hope to track down who he believes is the culprit for the beliefs destruction. Later, he rescues Fanella from an accident of duck hovercraft, and they all enter the Temple on the tracks of the others. Thanks to Rene, Mr R and Irina, he realizes he cannot be really free, and agrees to let go of his memories, his mission and start anew on the new Island. Other members of his squad are offered to be sent back with altered memories of his demise, or to stay back as a teenager on the Island.
    • Jube / The P’hope – After a last ditch effort to rescue the city, he orders its evacuation, through storks, cranes and descent through the beanstalk. He goes his own way, ready to confront the power lurking in the Temple that he avoided carefully and tried to contain many years ago. His fate is unclear but it is hinted that he was offered a similar choice as Cheung Lok, and has accepted to become an adolescent again, forgetting the bad choices he made.
    • Berberus – The assassin dispatches of the management of Gazalbion during his visit there looking for clues as to the disturbances. It only hastens the descent into chaos, while during a stand-off with Sanso, he is disarmed by a tiger slug. His fears get the better of him as he is confronted with them once more inside the temple.
    • Karmalott’s gents – It is believed most managed to escape the crumbling city into a refuge, where they started to rebuild anew, thanks to the leadership of George and Gwinnie.
    • Gazalbion’s gents – formerly dissidents of the P’hope’s order, and later home for refugees of all times and spaces, they also mostly escaped to safety and are in the process of enriching the beliefs blueprints of the Island under the guidance of George and Gwinnie.
    • Fanella (Fanetta) – Ejected brutally off a shapeshifting giant and careless duck Lazuli, she has visions of the sphinx, and seems to find herself deeply attracted to him. It is believed she hasn’t forgotten her friends in time 2020 at the village and visit them from time to time with her new pair of wings that George offered to her.
    • Lazuli, Lisa, Sanso – Little is know of what happened after they reached the tile factory and then the Bay of beliefs.
    • Jack (and the others at the 2020 village) – Little is known of what happened after Jack tried to teleport themselves with an amateur rescue team to the Island that Sanso had disclosed the location previously on a map. It is believed everyone who wanted was allowed to go back to the village or to any other place and time they did fancy.
    • Sha, Glo, Mavis – Believed still under a very long death transition, they project to the Island, where they bump into Fanella and her new duties as a sphinx. She leads them to a new incarnated life of their chosing.

    When Jack had sent Lisa a message to ask if Fanella had joined her and Mirabelle in Portugal, she was worried.
    Mirabelle, Fanella has disappeared, do you know anything about it?” asked Lisa. “Did she say anything to you that might give us a clue? Was she planning on going anywhere, did she have any friends outside the village? I know she homesick for 18th century Paris, but she couldn’t possibly have gone back ~ or could she?”
    “Bit of a dark horse, our Fanella,” replied Mirabelle. “Always down by that river on her own, reading that strange old book.”
    “Not Circle of Eights and Other Stories!”
    “Yes, that’s the one. She was practicing projecting to the places in the book.”
    WHAT?? Mirabelle, there’s no time to lose, we must go back to the village at once. If Fanella has been doing that, she could be anywhere, anywhere at all ~ and the trail will be a hard one to follow!”
    “But what about our holiday? And not only that, what about the strange tile that was stolen that we’re supposed to be looking for?”
    “The damn tile can wait.” snapped Lisa. “But I haven’t forgotten your arousing arms,” she added, her voice softening. “But we must find Fanella first.”


    Lisa was not surprised to find on her return to the village that everything had descended into chaos. She knew that her responsibility belief about her herd tribe had something to do with it, and although she detested the word control, she was well aware of her propensity for monitoring and guiding the creatures and characters in her domain. The lifestyle in the village had relaxed her guidelines about fair play to some extent, but by golly some people were lazy slackers at times. But the one thing that got her goat was being kept in the dark. How could she keep a benevolent control if she wasn’t aware of what was going on? When she found out that Fanella had been making a granite box, and that she was the last to know, she was furious.


    Irina buzzed for her robot, Mr R. All the elite class had robots. Most nowadays were barely distinguishable from humans. However, Irina fancied herself to be someone who did things a bit differently. The design of Mr R was fashioned on the robots from classic twentieth century literature: his “head” a glass bubble sensor unit with moving antennae, his trunk-section a rotating cylinder with controls on the front, extending bellow arms that ended with mechanical claws and bellow legs with tread tractor units. He was able to move with deceptive speed and agility. Personality-wise Mr R was programmed to be the epitome of deference and tact.

    “Did you have a pleasant time with Mr Sanso?” inquired Mr R politely. “I believe you have a spot of cucumber on your face. Allow me to remove that for you.” He did this with a deftness belying his dangerous looking extremities. “And how else can I serve you this morning?”

    “Thank you, Mr R. Mr Sanso proved to be inscrutable as always. Please provide scanning assistance. Target 2121 Time travel mission 2222.”

    “Delighted to oblige, Ma’am!”

    Irina scanned the brains of the time travellers. The 3 drag queens were hypnotically sensitive and should be easy enough to manipulate. The girl, Sadie, was more problematic. Her motivation was happiness and her purity of intention meant that she would be difficult to manipulate successfully. Sanso, she knew already, was a law unto himself.

    Irina felt a stab of fear as she thought of the 22nd of February 2222. (Fear was an unusual emotion for Irina—in fact all strong emotion was unusual—and it took her a moment to identify it.) All the 2’s in alignment. If the time travellers were successful in retrieving the crystal and decoding the information before that date, what would that fateful morning look like? Would Irina herself even exist? Doubtful.

    Life was pretty good for Irina. In 2222 the Elite were free to pursue their goals—without the confines of the ethical and economic considerations of the old days. They were not confined to human bodies either; they could be robotic, animal or some other more exotic design or mythological creature. It really just depended on how the mood took them. Irina, with the expert assistance of Mr R, was planning in meticulous detail a mermaid-like body, complete with gills and a tail, so that she could travel to an underwater location for her next vacation.

    It wasn’t like that for everybody though. And this “progress” had not come about without a huge impact on the environment. There were large pockets of people scattered throughout the world who had eschewed the new technology, instead choosing the way of Love.

    “Looooooooove!” Irina rolled her eyes and Mr R chuckled politely on cue.

    If Irina had her way they would dispose of the time travellers the moment they arrived. Or better yet, send a team back to 2121 and dispose of them there. Management had forbidden this route, not for any ethical reasons—there were few moral guidelines nowadays—but out of caution. The vote had been close. Apparently there were some documents from the early channellers foretelling disastrous consequences if the time travellers were unable to return to their century. Management had decreed instead that the time travellers must be diverted from their goal.

    The crystal itself was closely guarded by the whales until the so called Chosen Ones arrived with the key.


    The four thespians from the “Théâtre du Soleil” were delighted to have been hired by the Royal Intendant to be the clou du spectacle. They were planning something sensational.
    Chinese fireworks! And a huge colourful hot balloon, attached to a wicker basket big enough to carry them four acrobats in the air, and to bewitch the noble assembly stunned by their contortions and feats of equilibrium. They would make a fortune that night, and the the weather promised a clear bright sky with an ubiquitous full moon.

    They’ve had last minute doubts about the balloon plan, as their usual supplier of beeswax unexpectedly declined to fulfill the order. The whole town suddenly found itself short of it, and it was thanks to the local lard supplier that they could find a suitable amount of fuel for the hot balloon.

    They parked their brightly coloured theater trailer in the small courtyard in front of the Opera House. The construction rubble was blocking the way, and they would need to enter the Opera House though the Chapel, the Intendant had warned them.

    They noticed a maid, and where about to ask her for confirmation as to the direction, but she was ducking suspiciously as though to avoid being seen, and slid out of view very swiftly.

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