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  • #5954
    prUneprUne
    Participant

    Summer is slowly ending from our side of the planet. Despite the onslaught of depressing daily news, it makes me wonder if everyone suddenly became concerned for Mater for reason:

    a. because she’s at risk not to become centenarian in time to get the medal of enduring persistance
    b. because we should now cancel the expensive party we had all started to plan with great pain
    c. because the longer we search, there’s still no telling who and where is Jasper and whether he’d be there even for a remote party behind screens…

    Some idiot has disabled or smeared all my cams on the Inn, so I only can spy with the sounds now, it’s a bit jarring at times. I thought I heard Bert cough a few times.

    Maybe it’s just code…

    #5654
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “What do you think about that last one?” Miss Bossy handed the scribblings to Ricardo.

    “Mmm, it might be a hit. Sophie’s remote viewing has been right on spot even if odder and odder. I guess it fits with the intent of our… I mean your newspaper, doesn’t it?”

    Miss Bossy glanced at Ricardo sideways, and adjusted her corsage with an élan of coquetterie she found very French, even for her repressed tastes. “You should get on it then, Ric’.”

    Ricardo looked surprised. Was it the recognition he was waiting for all these past months working hard behind the scenes. Not a promotion yet but… Or maybe, just because the usual writers Connie & Hilda weren’t around, off to somewhere only they had the secret.

    “Still, you must admit, investigating an alcohol made of rillettes does sound rather ludicrous, even for this newspaper, or even for Sweet Sophie.”

    “There might be more to cover, a tree hiding a forest. Besides, she was right about the reptiles falling in Miami during the cold snap! We missed that story… If only we’d jumped on it right away!”

    “What else you need? I told you to get on with it, chop chop!”

    “Maybe a promotion?…” he added tentatively.

    “You’re already staff writer by default dear…”

    “A raise then?”

    “Don’t push you luck. And you’ll book those tickets to Chickasaw, Alabama in charter. We’re not rolling in the dough, like the Yanks say.”

    #5636

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “We’ll start as soon as we get our first client, Tara,” replied Star, “And don’t keep calling me a tart. You had better get out of the habit or you might do it accidentally when we’re working on a case.”

    “What if we don’t get any clients? We’ve advertised everywhere we can think of. Once we get started, we’ll get recommendations, we’ll probably have to take on staff, we’ll be so busy.” A wistful look crept into Tara’s eye. She’d never been a boss, never been in the position of telling a subordinate what to do. It had a certain appeal.  “Anyway, you are a tart.”

    “Was, Tara, was. We are not tarts now, and nobody needs to know what we did for a living before.  Nothing shameful in it of course, but people have such antiquated ideas; it might put them off. They don’t need to know that we might be able to use our skills to our advantage to solve cases.”

    “I’d rather solve cases with our new skills,” said Tara.  “Remote viewing, out of body travel, lucid dreaming, that sort of thing.”

    “Never a bad thing to have an assorted tool box,” replied Star. “We have unique skills compared to most private investigators. Just thank your lucky stars that we escaped the eagle eye of Madame Limonella.  She’ll never think to look for us in here in Melbourne, she’s probably thinking we’ll fetch up in some back street dive in Perth, desperate for our jobs back.”

    “Well it might come to that if we don’t get any cases to solve,” Tara said glumly, “And on less money too, we’re not spring chickens any more.”

    “Don’t be silly,” Star snapped. “We’re not even 40 yet. If we were too young we wouldn’t be taken seriously.”

    “Not even close to 40,” replied Tara, who was 33. “You are, though,” she said to Star, who was sensitive about being 39.

    Star was just about to call her a rude tart when the phone rang.

    #5627
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Don’t you realize we’re in trouble June?” April had sobered up quickly. June looked at her suspiciously, it’s been months she suspected April to swap her vodka drinks with plain water to avoid getting drunk.
    “June! Are you listening?!”
    “Of course I am, stop bawling like that horrid baby, I’m no deaf.”
    “Speaking of which, I’m glad we’re rid of them. Leave it to May to handle, or the new maid?”
    “What new maid?”
    “The one who’s been pillaging your cognac’s stash, I though you knew her?”
    “No I don’t. She’s been way too cosy here… you know her? She some of August’s little afternoon delights?”
    “Stop with that, you know August is a married man, his wife’s so scary he wouldn’t…”
    “Must you always kill the mood April, let me enjoy a little sneaky gossiping.”

    April looked at June all serious.

    “We must go to his last known location, find the boy!”
    “Are you kidding? Old South USA? And I thought it couldn’t get worse than Washingtown. And in case you’ve all forgotten, I’m still wanted in so many places, even that splendulous new hairdo isn’t going to hide me forever. And how are we going to hire muscle, genius? As you must have noticed, all his security details have followed Gollump for his impricotment hearings.”
    “I had a brainwave.”
    “Oh, that’ll be grand, do tell. Are you proposing one of your remove throwing session from your little art club?”
    “It’s remote viewing! — and yes,… no! Not yet. I was thinking of his mother, Mellie Noma; she loathes the oaf as much as she loves her spawn. She may lend us some resources.”
    “Yeah, right… And you’re going to bribe her with?”
    “Oh I have the perfect idea. You know how fashion vane she is.”

    June had a realization which turned into a horror face. “No way! Not my pith helmet!!”

    #4823
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Bugger them all then, Lucinda said to herself, I’ll carry on here without them.

    For a time she had been despondent at being abandoned, sinking into an aching overcast gloom to match the weather. Waiting for it to rain, and then waiting for it to stop.

    On impulse, in an attempt to snap out of the doldrums, she signed up for a Creative Writing and Rambling course at the local Psychic Self Institute. Institutionalizing psychic matters had been the brainchild of the latest political party to gain power, and hitherto under the radar prophets, healers and remote viewers had flocked to sign up. The institute has promised pension and public health credits to all members who could prove their mental prowess, and needless to say it had attracted many potential scammers: useless nobodies who wanted to heal their diseases, or lazy decrepit old scroungers who wanted to retire.

    Much to everyone’s surprise, not least their own, the majority of them had passed the tests, simply by winging it: making it up and hoping for the best. Astonishingly the results were more impressive than the results from the already established professional P.H.A.R.T.s ~ (otherwise known as Prophets, Healers and Remote Technicians).

    This raised questions about the premise of the scheme, and how increasingly difficult it was to establish a criteria for deservingness of pensions and health care, particularly if any untrained and unregistered Tom, Dick or Harry was in possession of superior skills, as appeared to be the case. The debate continues to this day.

    Nothwithstanding, the Institute continued to offer courses, outings and educational and inspiring talks. The original plan had been to offer qualifications, but the entrance exams had provoked such a quandary about the value and meaning (if any) of qualifications, that the current modus operandi was to simply offer each member, regardless of merit or experience, a simple membership card with a number on it. It was gold coloured and had classical scrolls and lettering on it in an attempt to bestow worth and meaning. Nobody was fooled, but everyone loved it.

    And everyone loved the tea room at the Institute. It was thought that some cake aficionado’s had even joined the Institute merely for the desserts, but nobody objected. There was a welcome collective energy of pleasure, appreciation and conviviality in the tea room, and it’s magnetic appeal ~ and exceptional cakes ~ ensured it’s popularity and acclaim.

    A small group had started a campaign to get it placed on the Institutes Energetic Cake Connector mapping programme. As Lucinda had said in a moment of clarity, “A back street bar can be just as much of an energy magnet as an old stone relic”, casting doubt over the M.O.S.S group’s (Mysterious Old Stone Sites) relevance to anything potentially useful.

    “In fact,” Lucinda continued, surprising herself, ““I’ve only just realized that the energy magnets aren’t going to be secret, hidden and derelict. They’re going to be busy. Like cities.”

    Several members of the M.O.S.S group had glared at her.

    Lucinda hadn’t really thought much about what to expect in the creative writing classes.

    #4792
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The Doctor was at times confused about his own plan. Well, most of the time if felt clear and perfectly diabolical, and he could easily understand why at times lesser minds could get confused about the twists and turns —and to those lesser minds, it would usually suffice to say “don’t worry, it’s all part of the Plan.” It was difficult to properly phrase the sentence so that the Plan doesn’t get too easily confused with any plan. But he was expert in conveying that it wasn’t a mere plan.

    After having tried and used old or elaborate devices beyond known technology like alleged alien crystal skulls to outcomes of various satisfaction in the past, he’d realized that those so called AI technologies were a silent gangrene for the mind. By becoming more tech-savvy, people lost their savoir and their savour by relying too much on external support. People were becoming malleable, predictable, and replaceable.

    His bloody assistant was a sad testament to the downward evolution humanity was rushing towards. It was a strange and sad irony, that by enhancing their ineptitude, he was actually working to the perfection of the human race.

    “Ah yes! Evolution!” That was his legacy, and he was of course profoundly misunderstood.

    This whole sad business with the chase after the dolls and the keys and the remote control of magpies, and the psychic blasts, beauty treatments and Barbara enhancements, all that made sense once you showed it in the proper light. These were the catalyst to the real and interesting events. The ones which mattered.

    It all started after the Army got him out of his prison rot in exchange for his work on some special science experiments. Top-secret, evidently. His handler, a certain nobody by the name of Fergus, was assigning him the experiments.
    While he was dutifully working on his assigned projects, he quickly realized that he was given vast funding which would have taken him more time to gather on his own, so he did his part, all while experimenting and honing his skills. Clearly, the Army lacked any vision beyond the confines of “find a better way to torture, maim or kill mass amount of individuals.” Primates. Luckily, their experiments with remote control, brainwashing, and body modelage were less gory than the average science experiments, and far more into his own area of expertise.

    It took him 5 years to escape. This plan (a smaller plan, part of the Plan which had not yet fully hatched at the time) — this plan for an escape started to form when Fergus let slip important bits of information, which seemed insignificant taken in isolation, but meant a whole new area of discoveries when put together by a brilliant mind like his own.
    Fergus started to gloat about securing some secrets as a blackmail or fail-safe policy in case the Army’s “hired help” misbehaved. This part was known for a long time, it was what was called our ‘retirement plan’ in the contract we signed. What was more peculiar was when he started to let details slip about the method. All thanks to little doses of hypnotic potion in spiked shared drinks, courtesy of the Doctor. It seemed clear that this elaborate scheming of keys and dolls was child’s play and nothing particularly genius, however what was more interesting was when Fergus started to realize that the dolls his niece had made somehow matched certain persons of interest without her conscious knowing. There was a deeper mystery to be cracked, and even Fergus wondered if the Army had not tempered with his family genetics to induce certain characteristics or something of the like. Well, all ramblings of a simpleton you would say, but maybe it wasn’t.
    After all these searches to externalize certain abilities of the mind, the Doctor was starting to get fascinated by people exhibiting these qualities naturally.

    The appearance of this strange red crystal seems to confirm these doubts. There are untapped forces at play, and maybe doors that could be opened.

    Barbara suddenly irrupted into the room “Our guests are coming, just received a text!”

    The Doctor sighed thinking some doors should remain closed.

    #4791
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Once he’d finished to tell the story, and let the kids go back to the cottage for the night, Rukshan’s likeness started to vanish from the place, and his consciousness slowly returned to the place where his actual body was before projecting.

    Being closer to the Sacred Forest enhanced his capacities, and where before he could just do sneak peeks through minutes of remote viewing, he could now somehow project a full body illusion to his friends. He’d been surprised that Fox didn’t seem to notice at all that he wasn’t truly there. His senses were probably too distracted by the smells of food and chickens.

    He’d wanted to check on his friends, and make sure they were alright, but it seemed his path ahead was his own. He realized that the finishing of the loo was not his own path, and there was no point for him to wait for the return of the carpenter. That work was in more capable hands with Glynis and her magic.

    His stomach made an indiscreet rumbling noise. It was not like him to be worried about food, but he’d gone for hours without much to eat. He looked at his sheepskin, and the milk in it had finally curdled. He took a sip of the whey, and found it refreshing. There wouldn’t be goats to milk in this part of the Forest, as they favored the sharp cliffs of the opposite site. This and a collection of dried roots would have to do until… the other side.

    To find the entrance wasn’t too difficult, once you understood the directions offered by the old map he’d recovered.

    He was on the inner side of the ringed protective enclosures, so now, all he needed was to get into the inner sanctum of the Heartwood Forest, who would surely resist and block his path in different ways.

    “The Forest is a mandala of your true nature…”

    He turned around. Surprised to see Kumihimo there.

    “Don’t look surprised Fae, you’re not the only one who knows these parlor tricks.” She giggled like a young girl.

    “of my nature?” Rukshan asked.

    “Oh well, of yours, and anybody’s for that matter. It’s all One you, see. The way you see it, it represents yourself. But it would be true for anybody, there aren’t any differences really, only in the one who sees.”

    She reappeared behind his back, making him turn around. “So tell me,” she said “what do you see here?”

    “It’s where the oldest and strongest trees have hardened, it’s like a fence, and a… a memory?”

    “Interesting.” She said “What you say is true, it’s memory, but it’s not dead like you seem to imply. It’s hardened, but very much alive. Like stone is alive. The Giants understood that. And what are you looking for?”

    “An entrance, I guess. A weak spot, a crack, a wedge?”

    “And why would you need that? What if the heart was the staircase itself? What if in was out and down was up?”

    Rukshan had barely time to mouth “thank you” while the likeness of the Braid Seer floated away. She’d helped him figure out the entrance. He touched one of the ring of the hard charred trees. They were pressed together, all clomped in a dense and large enclosure virtually impossible to penetrate. His other memories told him the way was inside, but his old memories were misleading.
    Branches were extending from the trunks, some high and inaccessible, hiding the vision of the starry sky, some low, nearly indistinguishable from old gnarled roots. If you looked closely, you could see the branches whirring around like… Archimedes Screw. A staircase?

    He jumped on a branch at his level, which barely registered his weight. The branch was dense and very slick, polished by the weathering of the elements, with the feel of an old leather. He almost lost his balance and scrapped his hands between the thumb and the index.

    “Down is up?”

    He spun around the branch, his legs wrapped around the branch. He expected his backpack to drag him towards the floor, but strangely, even if from his upside-down perspective, it was floating above him, it was as if it was weightless.

    He decided to take a chance. Slowly, he hoisted himself towards his floating bag, and instead of falling, it was as though the branch was his ground. Now instead of a spiral staircase around the trees leading to heavens, it was the other side of the staircase that spiraled downwards to the starry night.

    With his sheepskin and back still hovering, he started to climb down the branches towards the Giants’ land.

    #4772
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    It was ridiculous, outrageous even: trapped in a fictional story… Granola couldn’t believe it at first. But the facts were plain and simple. The walls of the glowing red crystal albeit slightly elastic wouldn’t let her pass.

    It all started when the Doctor launched his experiment, or at least that’s what she surmised from the past few days of observation from inside the crystal. She got to admit the vantage point was interesting, were it not for the red hue tinting everything in her sight. The Doctor was madder than a mad hatter, and kept very strange company.

    At first, she thought it was all inside of a story made up by her friends and that she was safely within the story realm, but of late it seemed it wasn’t as clear cut as it used to be. The Doctor lived in the same dimension as her friends after all; maybe he was the one who’d managed to voyage through dimensions. But Maeve, Shawn-Paul were still in their Australian adventure, at risk from the magpies, and the remote brainwashing; only Lucinda and Jerk were more or less safe for now, but they were trapped in their rut and lacking of inspiration.

    When it started, she had immediately noticed the huge bursts of energy, like waves of dark light, and had wished herself at the source of it, to see what was targeting her friends. In turn, it disrupted the evil machinery, and trapped her in the crystal.

    Mad as he was, the Doctor wasn’t lacking brains. He’d already figured out there was something special about the crystal, and was spending his days observing it ignoring the distractions provided by his beehived coiffed servant.

    She didn’t want to call Ailill for help, this one she’d got to figure out on her own, and fast, or else her friends may soon be in more dire situation.

    #4771
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The Doctor smiled gleefully, rubbing his hands together.

    His new invention was showing promising results. Minds were being wiped clean, and foggy somnolence was enveloping characters without well-defined characteristics.

    Better still, he’d found something interesting trapped inside of his Remote Brainwashing machine, crystallized and trapped in a nugget inside one of the vials. It was glowing faintly and had tried to derail his experiment. A little sprite of some kind, or maybe a rebel soul .

    #4766
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    There had been no communications from either Connie or Hilda for some time. Ricardo went down the usual route of worrying that something had happened to them, and then it occurred to him to try out the remote viewing he’d been practicing. It was too easy to rely solely on technological means, he reminded himself, AI (short for Abnormal Intrusions) or no AI.

    Ricardo found himself in a moonlit sweeping landscape, with some dark indeterminate built structure shapes. Oh, very helpful, he snorted, and then reminded himself to simply observe. Then he saw the woman, dressed in gauzy floating white, and found himself sneering at how corny the image was, like a new age art poster woman, beautiful and ethereal in a moonlit scene.

    Stranger still was the next thought to waft through his wandering mind. Maybe he inserted that corny woman to distract any remote viewing spies, and throw them off the scent? Suddenly there was a crash behind him. Another picture had fallen off the wall, he assumed. But nothing was out of place. He looked again, sure that something had fallen to the floor to make such a noise. But there was nothing to see. He shrugged.

    Later, he wondered: what had made that noise?

    #4725
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    A wild eyed crow was cawing relentlessly since the wee hours of the dawn.
    Nothing much had moved since everyone arrived at the Inn, and in contrast with the hot days, the cool night had sent everyone shivering under the thin woolen blankets that smelled of naphthalene.
    Deep down, Bert was glad to see the old Inn come back to life, even if for a little while. He was weary of the witch though. She wouldn’t be here without some supernatural mischief afoot.
    He glanced in the empty hall, putting his muddy pair of boots outside, not to incur the fury of Finly. He almost started calling to see if anybody was home, but thought better of it. Speaking of the devil, Finly was already up and busy at the small kitchen stove, and had done some outstanding croissants. In truth, despite all her flaws, he liked her; she was a capable lady, although never big on sweet talks. No wonder she and Mater did get along well.
    Bert started to walk along the hall towards the hangar, where he knew old cases where stored, one with a particular book that he needed. It was hard to guess what would happen next. He found the book, that was hidden on the side of the case, and scratched his head while smiling a big wide grin.
    He was feeling alive with the kind of energy that could be a poor advisor were his mind not sharp as a gator’s tooth.

    The book had a lot of gibberish in it, like it was written in a sort of automatic writing. For some reason, after the termite honey episode, Idle had started to collect odd books, and she was starting to see spy games hidden in the strangest patterns.
    Despite being a lazy pothead, the girl was smart, though. Some of her books were codes.

    Bert’s had his fair run with those during his early years in the military. So he’d hidden the most dangerous ones that Idle had unwittingly found, so that she and the rest of the family wouldn’t run into trouble.
    Most of the time, she’d simply forget about having bought or bargained for them, but in some cases, there was a silly obsession with her that rendered her crazy about some of those books. Usually the girls, especially the twins, would get the blame for what was thought a child’s prank. Luckily her anger wouldn’t last long.

    This book though was a bit different. Bert had never found the coding pattern, nor the logic about it. And some bits of it looked like it talked about the Inn. “Encoded pattern from the future”, “remote viewing from the past”, Idle’s suggestions would have run wild with imaginative solutions. Maybe she was onto something…

    He looked a two bits, struck by some of the parts:

    The inn had been open for a long time before any of the tenants had come, and it had been full of people once it had been full all day long.
    She had gone back after a while and opened up the little room for the evening and people could be seen milling about.
    The rest of the tenants had remained out on their respective streets and were quiet and peaceful.
    ‘So it’s the end of a cold year.’
    The woman with golden hair and green eyes seemed to have no intention of staying in the inn as well; she was already preparing for the next year.
    When the cold dawn had started to rise the door to the inn had been open all night long. The young man with red hair sitting on a nearby bench had watched a few times before opening his eyes to see the man that had followed him home.

    There was a young red hair boy that had arrived. He was curious as to the man following.

    The other random bit talked about something else. Like a stuff of nightmares. And his name was on it.

    The small girl stood beside him, still covered with her night clothes. She felt naked by the side of the road. There was nothing else to do.
    In the distance, Bert could faintly hear the howling of the woods, as two large, black dogs pounced, their jaws ready to tear her to pieces. The young girl stared in wonder and fear before the dog, before biting it, then she was gone. She ran off through the bushes. “Ah…” she whispered to herself. “Why am I not alive?” She thought to herself: this is all I need.
    If I am here, they’ll kill or hurt my kids. They won’t miss me for nothing.
    She ran the last few kilometers to her little cottage; not long after, Bert heard the sound of the forest. He was glad it was.

    Maybe the witch was not here for nothing after all.

    #4711
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The aircon was buzzing and Sophie walked in her pajamas through the open space to reach her dreaming base. That’s how she secretly called it. She could feel the eyes of her colleagues following her, and as usual she felt proud to be the center of attention. It didn’t matter that it was jealousy or anything else. People were looking at her and she was doing something different.

    Once in her base of operation, she settled on the couch and looked at the brew that had been brought for her. It was her second attempt at remote viewing the Doctor and this time she had requested a bucket and some padding around the sharp corners. She feared a little the unleashing of her wild nature, but in truth she had no idea what to expect. She had read on the Internet that there was nothing to fear and that there would be no side effects, and usually with her natural paranoia she would have double checked before using the drugs, but her obsession with the Doctors had rendered her a little bit… more reckless.

    She pinched her nose and swallowed the brew. One gulp. But some of it stayed in her mouth and nausea followed. She didn’t like the taste at all. Then she laid down the couch and waited. The effects weren’t long to come. Space lit up, soon followed by the usual geometrical dynamic animation and the strange floating spirits. One of them looked like her old nanny. She had a hair on her chin and Sophie couldn’t focus on anything else. The hair grew and multiplied on the face, it was soon a forest of wiggling glowing worms growing indefinitely.

    After what seemed an eternity to her, she saw the doors. A huge circle made of doors like a giant neckless. Sophie giggled at the typo especially that she could see the neckless giant now below the doors. It was definitely a male, with boobs covered by skulls.

    Find the door, she reminded herself. Her thought took the shape of a butterflowck —understand a flow of a flock of butterflies— that rippled in a pond of honey… suckles.

    It reached the door and she was sucked in.

    :fleuron:

    “Why are they doing this?” asked a male voice behind her. “They’re supposed to be magpies, not monkeys.”
    “I’m not sure,” said a bald woman with six fingers and an ethereal beehive hairdo. The strange thing was that she had a beard.
    “Do something quick. I need them operational soon” said the man, “You’re the one controlling them after all,” he added with poison in his voice.
    “Yes, Doctor.”

    Sophie startled at the name. She turned around and tried to look at the man, but he was headless, or rather pixelated. Shit! I watch too much science fiction, she thought.

    “Anyway,” he continued. What are the news on the dolls’ front?”
    “We are closing in on the next target, Doctor. It’s a small Inn in Australia where the vortex or probabilities converge. I took the liberty to send another sleeping agent there to steal the key and the list of other addresses from the dollmaker. He’s taking the same airplane as she is.”

    #4676
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    When Hilda received the message from her old friend Lucinda her first thought was Miss Bossy Pants award for the “Most Stylistic Synchronistic Article”. There was already a synchronicity because she’s also had a tip off from some guy calling himself “Superjerk”, which was also about dolls. If she followed the lead about the doll stories, and managed to connect them together, it could be the scoop of the year ~ whether or not there was an actual connection between them.

    Hilda had made copious notes from the long and garbled telephone conversation with Lucinda about everything she knew thus far, and where she was stuck. Clearly the poor dear needed Hilda’s special expertise in following a lead and putting the clues together to form a picture. Admittedly Hilda didn’t always stick to facts ~ who did in journalism these days anyway! But she had an intuition that this was just what she needed to get her teeth into. It had been a boring year in the extreme reportage department. Extremely boring.

    It had been years since Hilda had been in contact with Lucinda, and that had been on a remote viewing forum. Neither of them had been much good at it, but some of the other members had been brilliant, so it came in useful at times to use their expertise. Hilda made a mental note to rejoin that forum, if it still existed, or find another one. She changed her mind about the mental note, and jotted it down in her notebook. It was a good idea and could come in handy.

    The short and cryptic note from the guy calling himself Superjerk didn’t provide much information other than the synchronicity, which was of course noteworthy. And he had provided the link to that website “findmydolls.com”. The story was already starting to show promising signs of weaving together.

    Not wanting any of the other staff to cotton on to her new thread, Hilda told Miss Bossy Pants that she was going to investigate the “hum” in Cadiz. That peculiar Horns of Gabriel phenomenon that occurred randomly around the world had been heard over a wide area of Cadiz and Seville. Hilda had another old friend in that neck of the woods; so she could easily pretend she was there covering that story, with a bit of collaboration from her friend, while she embarked on the real journey to the Flying Fish Inn, in some godforsaken outpost of the outback.

    That nosy Connie had somehow managed to find out about the whole thing, eavesdropping again no doubt, and Hilda had no option but to come clean with her and ask her to join her in ironing out the story. They would have to deal with Miss Bossy Pants later. If the scoop was the success that Hilda anticipated, then they would be getting an award, not a reprimand.

    It was worth it. Hilda felt more alive than she had done in a long time.

    #4657
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Fortunately, Mandrake had a rope ladder which, with the assistance of a small remote control pigeon, he was able to throw to Arona.

    “Cool pigeon,” said Arona when she was safely onboard and appropriate introductions had been made. “Mr Jiboriums’s Emporium?”

    “Indeed! it really is a wonderful place,” said Mandrake. “Now, stop all that fussing, you will mess up my whiskers.”

    “I can’t help it. I am so pleased to see you, you cuddly old grump,” said Arona, ruffling Mandrakes head again. “Are those grey hairs I see?”

    Mandrake snuffled and slapped her hand away with a paw.

    “Do you care to stop all that nonsense and tell us what you are doing floating around in a hot air balloon?’

    Arona rolled her eyes. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a key.

    “I am looking for the doll which goes with this key,” she said.

    #4627
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Jerk looked puzzled at the screen.
    As his side job, he was managing the maintenance of a popular website findmystuff.com where people where posting lost&found items, which had turned into a joyful playground at times for groups of pranksters as well as good samaritans leaving stuff for people to find. Monitoring and curating the content was mostly done by an AI these days, but now and then the flagging seemed to require a human analysis, to check if it was a false positive or not.
    Right off, there were some odd blinks on his screen, but if that hadn’t caught his attention, the details of this case certainly would have.
    It was a particular group, not specially overactive, the quiet under the radar group catering to less than a few hundred people at the time, but picking up strongly over the past few days. The group was called “findmydolls” and there was a comment which had been flagged as “fake news”.
    He had to decide to “moderate” (read “delete”) the comment or not, but he couldn’t decide about it.

    Have found one of your dolls, Ms M. Brilliant hiding! During the last Aya trip, I was teleported to some place that looked like Australia’s dream time, and there was your doll. I’m sure it’s there in Australia, a remote place in the middle of the bush, there’s an inn with a flashy fish neon sign over it. Your doll was there, and there was a message. PM for details.

    He shrugged. The rules of the board didn’t explicitly forbid “remove viewing” as a source of clues, nor an astral view was any less flimsy than a vague visual report from the streets.

    He clicked on “approved”.

    #4125
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Corrie:

    I’m getting a bit worried about Aunt Idle, she’s been in Iceland ages and we haven’t heard from her, and nothing on her blog for ages, either. When I found this, I did a bit of research into the Bronklehampton case. That’s another story.

    Aunt Idle was going to visit her old friend Margit Brynjúlfursdóttir. It was all very hush hush: Margit had intimated that there was to be a family reunion, but it was to be a surprise party, and she mustn’t breathe a word of it to anyone. Margit had sent her the tickets to Keflavik, instructing her to inform her family and friends that she had won the trip in a story writing competition.

    It was Idle’s first trip to Iceland. She had met Margit in a beach bar near Cairns some years ago, just after the scandalous expose on the goings on of a mad doctor on a remote south Pacific island. The Icelandic woman had been drowning her sorrows, and Idle had been a shoulder to cry on. The age old story of a wayward son, a brilliant mind, so full of potential, victim of a conniving nurse , and now sadly incarcerated on the wrong side of the law.

    Aunt Idle didn’t immediately make a connection between the name Brynjúlfursdóttir and Bronklehampton, indeed it would have been impossible to do so using conventional means, Icelandic naming laws and traditions being what they were. But the intuitive Idle had made a connection notwithstanding. The maudlin woman in the beach bar was clearly the mad doctors mother.

    Idle had invited Margit to come and stay at the Flying Fish Inn for a few weeks before returning to Iceland, a visit which turned out to last almost a year. Over the months, Margit confided in her new friend Idle. Nobody back home in Iceland knew that the doctor in the lurid headlines was her son, and Margit wanted to keep it that way, but it was a relief to be able to talk about it to someone. Idle wasn’t all that sure that Margit was fully in the picture regarding the depths to which the fruit of her loins had sunk, but she witnessed the womans outpourings with tact and compassion and they became good friends.

    The fasten your seatbelts sign flashed and pinged. The landing at Keflavik was going to be on time.”

    ~~~

    ““I wish you’d told me about the 60’s fancy dress party, Margit, I’d have brought an outfit with me,” said Idle.

    Margit looked at her friend quizzically. “What makes you think there’s a fancy dress party?”

    “Why, all the beehive hair do’s! It’s the only explanation I could think of. If it’s not a 60’s party, then why…..?”

    Idle noticed Margit eyeing her long grey dreadlocks distastefully. Self consciously she flung them over her shoulder, inopportunely landing the end of one of them in a plate of some foul substance the passing waiter was carrying.

    Margit jumped at the chance. “Darling, how horrid! All that rams bottom sauce all over your hair! Do try the coconut shampoo I put in your bathroom.””

    ~~~

    And that was the last I’d heard from Aunt Idle.

    #4072
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle was going to visit her old friend Margit Brynjúlfursdóttir. It was all very hush hush: Margit had intimated that there was to be a family reunion, but it was to be a surprise party, and she mustn’t breathe a word of it to anyone. Margit had sent her the tickets to Keflavik, instructing her to inform her family and friends that she had won the trip in a story writing competition.

    It was Idle’s first trip to Iceland. She had met Margit in a beach bar near Cairns some years ago, just after the scandalous expose on the goings on of a mad doctor on a remote south Pacific island. The Icelandic woman had been drowning her sorrows, and Idle had been a shoulder to cry on. The age old story of a wayward son, a brilliant mind, so full of potential, victim of a conniving nurse , and now sadly incarcerated on the wrong side of the law.

    Aunt Idle didn’t immediately make a connection between the name Brynjúlfursdóttir and Bronklehampton, indeed it would have been impossible to do so using conventional means, Icelandic naming laws and traditions being what they were. But the intuitive Idle had made a connection notwithstanding. The maudlin woman in the beach bar was clearly the mad doctors mother.

    Idle had invited Margit to come and stay at the Flying Fish Inn for a few weeks before returning to Iceland, a visit which turned out to last almost a year. Over the months, Margit confided in her new friend Idle. Nobody back home in Iceland knew that the doctor in the lurid headlines was her son, and Margit wanted to keep it that way, but it was a relief to be able to talk about it to someone. Idle wasn’t all that sure that Margit was fully in the picture regarding the depths to which the fruit of her loins had sunk, but she witnessed the womans outpourings with tact and compassion and they became good friends.

    The fasten your seatbelts sign flashed and pinged. The landing at Keflavik was going to be on time.

    #4053
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Unaware that she’d been spotted at Keflavik airport, a few hours later Hilda was happily sipping a cocktail in the glass-walled Northern Lights bar of the Ion hotel, listening to eerie Icelandic folk tunes and marveling at the mystical ambiance of the place. She was particularly taken with the surreal moss covered lava fields outside, and congratulated herself on her decision to lay low in a remote location for a day or two, while the dust settled, so to speak.

    #3829

    In reply to: Mandala of Ascensions

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Dispersee!” Medlik bellowed “ Dispersee ! You’re late again for your assigned report on the Cackleversity !”

    “You tart” Floverley remote-elbowed her neighbour in spirit. “Pay a little attention, or he’s never going to stop lecturing us.” She rolled her eyes “There he goes…”

    “…important it is? Seriously, that little trick that you call insanitizing could well be a weapon of mass enlightenment! You have to be careful and follow-up.”

    Floverley was always the quiet one, but she wondered at times if she was the only one paying attention in the classroom. Medlik’s exhortations at times seemed so full of contradictions, in a not so enlightened way. She shuddered at the thought that she started to sound so frightfully contumacious.

    Doubt is the light-killer” she admonished herself, reciting the first rhyme of her little litany against doubt that she taught to her devotees. “Master Medlik is just testing our capacities, there is no reason to doubt his intentions…”

    #3783

    In reply to: The Hosts of Mars

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Eb’s dumb phone woke him up. The caller ID showed an unflattering picture of a Tasmanian devil all teeth bared.

    He gathered his wits and answered it as naturally as he could.
    “M’am?”
    “Eb! What is this mess? Has the operation started already?”
    “Err… Well, hmm, sure, there is… a first rehearsal…” he checked nervously on the console, fumbling through the logs of the agenda. His memory was fuzzy, but it seemed that someone… something had moved the timetable ahead without his approval. “… yes, a rehearsal planned today. Be assured that all team is on deck — we’re monitoring the situation.”
    “You better hope so! You know how we say — talking doesn’t cook the rice, so you better go back to cooking.”
    And she hung up.

    He was in desperate need of help. The team he was referring to had been cut by halves every year since the start of the program, and they were now sorely understaffed. Calling it a team was a stretch of the imagination, when so much was done by FinnPrime, the central intelligence.

    He looked upon the stained sheet of printed plastic on his desk. The only application they’d received. Guess there wasn’t as many underpaid starving actors as there used to be. Or maybe too many were disappeared after offering their help to the nation’s Mars broadcasts —then asking inconvenient questions…
    Well, this one would have to do. Eb seriously needed some human help to keep the Finnley intelligence in check.

    He texted to the guy “You got the job. Come early tomorrow morning, or better tonight for the paperwork. EB – The Merry Agency of Remote Spectacles”

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