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  • #5951
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The latex rompers were shaping her old body in a way she quite enjoyed. It was like being back in her… she counted on her fingers to be sure. To be even surer she counted twice. Yes! It was like being back in the sixties, especially with the choice of colours that had been made by whomever had made the rompers. Her silhouette looked gorgeous, if you didn’t pay too much attention to the bingo wings and the pelican throat. She laughed. It was like seeing a superposition of a younger and an older self. She would have loved the face of Ricardo if he saw her like that. And the beehive haircut, it certainly was a good idea. She wondered if she was still under LSD. But the walls and the beehive hair seemed too solid for that.

    A sliding door that she had not noticed before opened.

    “Good to see you’re settling in,” said the woman who entered with a puff of bacon smell. “I’m Barbara.” She was holding a tray with a steaming plate of sweet peas and carrots. Sophie always had a sharp eye but couldn’t see any real bacon among the peas and the carrots. She smiled to the newcomer anyway. Barbara had the same latex rompers with the same colours. And she had a beehive haircut.

    “Hello! Barbara,” said Sophie. “I like that name. I knew a man once… well not that you’re a man. Are you? Anyway I see you have a beehive haircut too. Am I back in the sixties?” She realised she was a bit confused, not able to finish one sentence or follow a single narrative. But the smell of bacon was so unnerving.

    Barbara put the tray on the table.

    “Well, no,” she said to Sophie. “It’s just a haircut that I like and it’s very practical for all sort of things.” She reached into hers and got out a pen and a notebook. Sophie lifted her hand to her haircut.

    “Do I have?..”

    “No dear. But, I need your sign here… just a formality.” Barbara smiled and handed the notebook to Sophie along with the pen. Then she crossed her arms waiting. Her fingers were drumming on her soft pale skin and Sophie couldn’t help but notice that Barbara had six fingers on one of her hands.

    “Where am I?” she asked.

    #5949
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Miss Bossy looked gloomily at the figures.

    Newsreel sparklines

    “Our paper was already hanging by a thread, but if we want to survive we’ll have to shift completely to digital.”

    “That, or we can go into selling recycled bog rolls…” Hilda started to laugh heartily on her Xoom screen.

    She was soon followed by Connie. “Can’t let good paper go to waste, can we?”

    “How’s your coverage of confinement in Wales, Continuity?” Miss Bossy asked.

    “Gorgeously! We were expecting zombies, but we got an invasion of daring goats. Been trying to snatch pics all morning.”

    A repressed giggle started to be heard.

    Miss Bossy rolled her eyes. “Mute if you don’t speak, guys.”

    Hilda ventured “Maybe it’s the whale?”

    The giggles continued to add to one another.

    Ricardo moved his webcam to remove the glare from the ceiling light causing a sudden roll of laughter from Connie who remembered a video with a lady streaming unwittingly from her loo break during a very formal videoconference with shocked pause on all her colleagues’ faces before she realised to shut down the cam.

    It was only at the mention of carrots that Miss Bossy started to lose it too, confirming the start of a laughter epidemic.

    #5761
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Curiouser and curiouser” said Blithe after Hilda and Ric’s call led the improvised investigation to the doors of the Beige House. “It’s like those huge bills, I tend to find myself at the places I hate the most.”

    The clue trails were solid. Track marks led to the Carpet cleaning business, and by following the plates of the van, and interrogating the suspicious yet gossipy neighbours (once she produced her P.I. badge), it was just a matter of time before they tracked the van’s whereabouts into Washingtown.

    “I wonder what business they could have had there…”

    Ricardo was doing his part too, tracking the social media feeds for anything hashtagged. Difficult to sort through, yet something came up.

    Hilda, what do you think?” he showed the distracted journalist his finding. “Two au pairs arrested for credit fraud and a French maid wanted in relation with illegal immigration & anchor baby case.”

    “I’m not sure, usually I would have jumped at the occasion…” Hilda was showing unusual restraint. Maybe the perspective of US prisons…

    Thankfully Blithe Gambol raised to the challenge. “Of course, we must check that out. Can’t be a coincidence. Just… Remind me what the case was already?”

    #5674
    EricEric
    Keymaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #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.”

    #4867

    In reply to: The Stories So Near

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    As it happens…

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

    Maeve and Shawn-Paul have left the Inn in Australia to travel to Tikfijikoo. What they are still doing there is anybody’s guess. Might have do with dolls, and rolling with it.

    In Canada, Lucinda has enrolled in a creative fiction course, and is doing progress… of sorts.

    Granola managed to escape the red crystal she was trapped in, after it cracked enough due to the pull of her friends’ memories.

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

    The Inn is back to its normal routine, after the bout of flu & collective black-out.

    Connie and Hilda have come out of the mines.

    The others, we don’t know.

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

    In the Doline, Arona has reunited with Vincentius, but is not ready for a family life of commitments.

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

    Sharon, Gloria and Mavis, are undergoing some cool fun in the cryochambers for beauty treatments.

    Ms Bossy & Ricardo are speechless. Literally.

    LIZ THREAD (Finnley, Liz, Roberto, Godfrey)

    There’s always something happening. Listing it is not the problem, but keeping track is.

    DRAGONHEARTWOOD THREAD (Glynnis, Eleri, Fox/Gorrash, Rukshan)

    Rukshan is in the doldrums of the land of Giants’, an unexplored parallel dimension.
    Gorrash has started to crystallize back to life, but nobody noticed yet.

    Cackletown & the reSurgence (Bea, Ed Steam & Surge team, etc.)

    Ed is back to the Cackletown dimension after some reconnaissance job on the whole dolls story interference. Might have spooked Maeve a little, but given the lack of anything surgey, have sort of closed this case and gone back to HQ.

    #4781

    In reply to: The Stories So Near

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    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.

    #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?

    #4747

    In reply to: The Stories So Near

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    WHERE ARE THEY ALL NOW ? 🗻

    a.k.a. the map thread, and because everything happens now anyway.

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

    🌀 [map link] – KELOWNA, B.C., CANADA

    It looks like our group of friends live in Canada, Kelowna.

    Kelowna is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. The name Kelowna derives from an Okanagan language term for “grizzly bear”. The city’s motto: “Fruitful in Unity”

    Interestingly, Leörmn the dragon from the Doline may have visited from time to time : Ogopogo / Oggie / Naitaka

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

    Though very off the beaten track, the Flying Fish Inn may be located near a location that was a clue left as a prank by Corrie & Clove on the social media to lure conspiracy theorists to the Inn.
    🔑 ///digger.unusually.playfully

    It seems to link to a place near documented old abandoned mines.

    🌀 [map link]  – SOME PLACE IN THE MIDDLE OF AUSTRALIA, OFF ARLTUNGA ROAD

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

    This one is a tricky geographical conundrum, since the Doline is a multi-dimensional hub. It connects multiple realities and places though bodies of water, with the cave structure (the Doline) at its center, a world on its own right, where talking animals and unusual creatures are not uncommon.

    It has shown to connect places in the Bayou in Louisiana, where Albie & Mandrake went to see the witch, as well as the coastal area of Australia, where they emerged next in their search for Arona.

    At the center of the Doline is a mysterious dragon named Leörmn, purveyor of precious traveling pearls and impossible riddles. We thus may infer possible intersection points in our dimension, such as 🔑 ///mysterious.dragon.riddle a little North of Hawaii, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

    However, the inside of the Doline would look rather like Phong Nha-Ke Bang gigantic cave in Vietnam.

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

    It is not very clear where our favourite investigative team is located. They are likely to be near an urban area with a well-connected international airport, given their propensity for impromptu traveling, such as in Iceland and Australia.

    For all we know, they could be settled in Germany: 🔑 ///newspapers.gone.crazy
    or Denmark 🔑 ///publish.odds.news

    As for the Doctor, we strongly suspect his current hideout to be also revealed when searching from his signature beautification prescription that has made him famous in connoisseur circles: 🔑 ///beauty.treatment.shot at the frontier of Sweden and Finland.

    LIZ THREAD (Finnley, Liz, Roberto, Godfrey)

    We don’t really know where the story happens; for that, one would need to dive into Liz’s turbulent past, and that would confound the most sane individual, starting with keeping count of her past husbands.

    As a self-made powerful best-selling writer, we could guess she would take herself to be the JK Rowling of the Unplotted Booker Prize, and thus would be a well-traveled British uptart, sorry upstart, with a fondness for mansions with character and gardeners with toned glutes. Of course, one would need the staff.

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

    This story happens in another completely different dimension, but it can be interesting to explore some of its unusual geography.

    The World revolved around a central axis, and different worlds stacked one upon the other, with the central axis like an elevator.

    We know of

    • the World of Humans, where most of the story takes place
    • the world of Gods, above it, which has been sealed off, and where most Gods disappeared in the old ages
    • Under these two, the world of Giants exists, still to be explored.

    At the intersection of the central axis of the world and the human world, radiates the Heartwood, a mystical forest powered by the Gem of Creation which has been here since the Dawn of Times, and is a intricate maze, and a dimension in itself. It had grown around itself different woods and glades and forests, with various level of magical properties meant to repel intruders or lesser than Godlike beings.

    The Fae dimension is a particular dimension which exists parallel to the Human World, accessible only to Elder Faes, and where the race originated, and is now mostly deserted, as Faes’ magic waning with the encroachment of humans into the Forest, most have chosen to live in the Forests and try and protect them.

    #4744

    In reply to: The Stories So Near

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Newer developments

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

    Granola is popping in and out of the stories, exploring interacting more physically with her friends through Tiku, a bush lady focus of hers.
    Luckily (not so coincidentally) Maeve and Shawn-Paul were given coupons to travel from their rural Canada town to the middle of Australia. Maeve is suspicious of being followed by a strange man, and tags along with Shawn-Paul to keep a cover of a young couple. Maeve is trying to find the key to the doll that she made in her secret mission for Uncle Fergus, which has suddenly reappeared at her friend Lucinda’s place. She’ll probably is going to have to check on the other dolls that she made as well.
    Jerk continues to administrate some forum where among other things, special dolls are found and exchanged, and he moderates some strange messages.
    Lucinda is enjoying Fabio’s company, Maeve’s dog, that she has in her care while Maeve is travelling.

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

    The mysteries of the Flying Fish Inn seem to unravel slowly, like Idle’s wits.
    Long time family member are being drawn inexplicably, such as Prune and brother Devan. The local bush lady Tiku is helping Finly with the catering, although Finly would rather do everything by herself. The totemic Fish was revealed to be a talisman placed here against bad luck – “for all the good it did” (Mater).
    Bert, thought to be an old flame of Mater, who’s acted for the longest time as gardener, handyman and the likes, is revealed to be the father of Prune, Devan, Coriander and Clove’s mother. Mater knew of course and kept him around. He was trained in codes during his time with the military, and has a stash of potentially dangerous books. He may be the key to the mystery of the underground tunnels leading to the mines, and hidden chests of gold. Devan is onto a mystery that a guy on a motorbike (thought to be Uncle Fergus of Maeve’s story) told him about.

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

    Mandrake & Albie after a trip in the bayou, and looking for the dragon Leormn’s pearls and the sabulmantium, have finally found Arona after they have emerged from the interdimentional water network from the Doline, to the coast of Australia in our reality, where cats don’t usually talk.
    Albie is expecting a quest, while the others are just following Arona’s lead, as she is in possession of a mysterious key with 3 words engraved.
    After some traveling in hot air balloon, and with a local jeep, they have arrived at a local Inn in the bush, with a rather peculiar family of owners, and quite colorful roster of guests. That’s not even counting the all-you-can-eat lizard meat buffet. What joy.

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

    Ms Bossy is looking to uncover the Doctor’s surely nefarious plans while her newspaper business isn’t doing so well. She’s got some help from Ricardo the intern. They have found out that the elderly temp worker who’s fascinated by the future, Sophie (aka Sweet Sophie) had been the first subject of the Doctor’s experiments. Sophie has been trying to uncover clues in the dreams, but it’s just likely she is still a sleeper agent of the Doctor.
    Despite all common sense and SMS threats, Hilda & Connie have gone in Australia to chase a trail (from a flimsy tip-off from Superjerk that may have gone to Lucinda to her friend journalist). They are in touch with Lucinda, and post their updates on social media, flirting with the risk of being uncovered and having trouble come at their door.
    Sha, Glo and Mavis are considering reaching out for a vacation of the nursing home to get new free beauty treatments.
    In his secret lair, the Doctor is reviving his team of brazen teafing operatives: the magpies.

    LIZ THREAD (Finnley, Liz, Roberto, Godfrey)

    Not much happened as usual, mostly an entertaining night with Inspector Melon who is quizzing Liz’ about her last novel about mysterious messages hidden in dolls with secret keys, which may be her best novel yet…

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

    Before Rukshan goes to the underworld land of Giants, he’s going to the cottage to gather some of his team of friends, Fox, Ollie etc. Glynis is taking care of Tak during Margoritt’s winter time in the city. Margoritt’s sister, Muriel is an uninvited and unpleasant guest at the cottage.
    Tak is making friends with a young girl who may have special powers (Nesy).
    The biggest mystery now is… is the loo going to get fixed in time?

    #4739
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Hilda:

    I had my doubts about them deciphering the clues I’d sent, but pinned my hopes on Ricardo. “Unknowingly foci of arachnid so I…..” Made a really clever anagram I did, “Ahoy Inn Food Awful Sick Icon Grin”, in fact I was worried that it looked so legit that it would be taken at face value. The food was truly awful. Anyway, that was the first part. I wasn’t going to write the whole thing in the same message, obviously. And if Ricardo didn’t get it, well, maybe Lucinda would. I’ve been sending her messages as well. Keeping my options open, you could say. I wasn’t at all sure where this story was going, but it felt like a big one. Or even more than one. I think what I’ve been doing, truth be told, is tossing clues to the wind in the hopes that the answers may seed themselves along the way. Toss them here and there and see what comes back.

    #4738
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Perhaps it’s an anagram,” Ricardo ventured tentatively, “Look: INNFOODAWFUL is an anagram of “I found lawn of”, see?” He cleared his throat nervously, demoralized by the agitated energy in the room. Everyone was looking at him expectantly, so he bumbled on: “All we need to do it work out the rest…”

    Exasperated looks were exchanged around the room, making Ricardo feel a fool. He was just about to excuse himself for a trip to the lavatory to wring his hands in private (hangovers always had that effect on him), when Miss Bossy tart herself piped up excitedly, “Wait a minute, by George I think he might be on to something!”

    Sophie cast a skeptical eye in her direction, as Ricardo plopped back down in his chair with an audible sigh of relief. He reached for his water bottle with a trembling hand and took a swig. God, his mouth was dry.

    AHOYSICKICONGRIN is “shack in Congo!” the Boss Tart continued. “Of course!” she said, slapping her forehead.

    Ricardo tittered.

    #4736
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “UN-BE-LIE-VA-BLE!” Miss Bossy was flustered. “The cheek of those two!”

    She was ranting, rather elegantly, with lipstick and all, as she’d found a little agitation to go a long way in expelling the sluggishness. Her meditation teacher, Lim Monk had told her “Abundance of quantity isn’t going to tempt you into a frenzy of delete, so long as you keep trying”; so she felt compelled to meditate the funk out of this no man’s plot.

    “They’ve been there for THREE DAYS, three bloody full days, with wifi and access, and they are only sending news now!”

    Ricardo was looking mutely at the scene, not daring to move a muscle.

    “Can you believe it, and to say I almost got worried about them!”
    “…”
    AND Look at the cryptic sheet they send me: QUOTE “Ahoy! Inn food awful, sick icon grin.” UNQUOTE. Now, what should I make of that?”

    She walked energetically to Sophie and planted her arms in front of her desk, waking up from her nap.

    Sophie blinked twice, and said:
    “I know you’re like me, fond about old-fashioned technology, but you should really consider throwing your pager to the waste bin; if you’d been on faecebrook, you’d see Hilda and Connie’s blog is pretty active. Look! They can’t stop posting stuff there, even when they were in the plane…”

    #4715
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Miss Bossy Pants was losing patience. If it weren’t for the heat spell that made her cat-like reflexes duller than usual, she would have shredded the hippie yurt that Ricardo had built for Sophie, that useless temp too fast promoted.

    She had to reason with herself, although she didn’t like that. Mostly because she always agreed with the devil on her shoulder. “OK, I’ll give them a chance to fish for key information.”

    Truth was, there was already enough evidence that Sophie’s brain was mush, and probably heavily tampered with by the Doctor. Who knows what that maniac might have planted as post-hypnotic suggestions in such a suggestible mind. There was little doubt that if she’d escaped, she was actually probably still a pawn he could control.

    She liked a worthy opponent. It would be so much more satisfying to crush him in the end.

    Her phone buzzed.
    “in oz, on ourwya to hippicenter gto grdbraeknig inforamton keep cool hilda &c.”

    Well there was good news after all. She started to list them to give her heart:

    1. Hilda remembered how to spell her own name
    2. She had not lost or broken her company phone
    3. They were not dead or maimed or enhanced yet, so clumsy as they were, they’d probably managed to stay off the radar of the Doctor.

    Of course, the other things she’d learned in that short moment was probably outweighing the silver lining:

    3. She had probably an insane roaming bill to the company phone
    4. They’d continued to max out the credit card to pursue the topic
    5. Clumsy as they were, it was surely a matter of time before they alerted the Doctor to their investigation.

    She thought quick and fast, while waving her fan figorously (it was a modesty hiding fan). Punching the screen of her phone, she typed.

    “Had breakthru too. Sophie was one of the dolls – need to find keys to dirty secrets & coded map to intercept = hashtag bigger than wee key leaks.”

    There, that should keep them occupied and well on track with the wild goose chase, while she devised a plan B.

    #4696
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Ricardo!” Miss Bossy shouted from her office she was rearranging into an office cum interrogation room.

    “Yes, M’am!”

    “Any news from our two insubordinate scouts?”
    “I’m afraid not M’am. Phone coverage isn’t that good in the bush I hear.”
    “Stop that nonsense! What tells you they’re aren’t just squandering my newspaper’s money over unearned mojitos doing precious nothing like gator’s watching on a beach, hmmm?”
    “I think they’d call that gathering clues M’am.”

    If Ricardo hadn’t be so earnest, she would have slapped him in the face for his attempt at humour, but he was blissfully unaware of the unwanted irony and impertinence of his retort.

    You’re going soft… she mused to herself, while snapping electrical wires together making a splash of sparkles in the air. The makeshift interrogation room was ready.

    Ric’! Bring Sweet Sophie!”

    #4687
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Ric was confused as to why he found himself flushed and vaguely excited by Bossy Mam’s sudden and attractive outburst.
    He was so glad the two harpies were off to goat knows where, or they would have tortured him with no end of gossiping.

    Still troubled by the stirring of emotions, he looked around, and almost spilled the cup of over-infused lapsang souchong tea he had prepared. Miss Bossy was the only one to fancy the strong flavour in a way only a former chain smoker could.

    Thankfully, she was still glaring at the window, and while he had no doubt he couldn’t hope to give her the slip for that sort of things, she probably had decided to just let it go.

    He took the chance to run to the archives, and started to dig up all he could on the Doctor.
    Sadly, the documents were few and sparse. Hilda and Connie were not known for their order in keeping records. Their notes looked more like herbariums from a botanist plagued with ADHD. But that probably meant there were lots of overlooked clues.

    He flipped through the dusty pages for a good hour, eyes wet with allergies, and he was about to bring Miss Bossy the sorry pile he had collected when a light bulb lit in his mind.

    How could I miss it!

    He’d never thought about it, but now, a lot of it started to make sense.

    Thinking about how Miss Bossy would probably be pleased by the news, he started to become red again, and hyperventilate.

    Calm down amigo, think about your abuela, and her awful tapas,… thaaat’s it. Crème d’anchovies with pickled strawberries… Jellyfish soufflés with poached snail eggs on rocket salad.

    His mind was rapidly quite sober again.

    Taking the pile of notes, he landed it messily on the desk, almost startling Miss Bossy.

    “Sorry for the interruption, M’am, but I may have found something…”
    “Fine, there’s no need for theatrics, spill it!” Miss Bossy was ever the no-nonsense straight-to-business personality. Some would have called her rude, but they were ignorants, and possibly all dead now.

    “There was a clue, hidden in the trail of Hilda’s collection. I’m not sure how we have missed it.”

    “Ricardooo…” Miss Bossy’s voice was showing a soupçon of annoyance.

    “Yes, pardon me, I’m digressing. Look! Right here!”

    “What? How is it possible? Is that who I think it is?”

    “I think so.”

    They turned around to look across the hall at Sweet Sophie blissfully snoring.

    “I think she was one of her first patient-slash-assistant.”

    “How quaint. But, that explains a lot. Wait a minute. I thought none of his patients were ever found… alive?”

    “Maybe she outsmarted him…”

    They both weren’t too convinced about that. But they knew now old Sweet Sophie was probably unwittingly holding the key to the elusive Doctor.

    #4662
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “I have to say,” Miss Bossy Pants took a dramatic pause for maximum effect “that you all have been incredulously industrious.”

    “Is she insulting us again?” Hilda hissed at Connie.
    “Shht! There’s no tellin’ with her…” Connie replied, as baffled as the other by the impromptu award ceremony.

    “Ahem-hem-hm!” Miss Pants melodiously hummed and cleared her voice making sure she had everyone’s attention, which was quite a challenge, if you’d asked her. Of course, she relished a challenge.
    “As I was saying, you all have been busy, and delivered well…”

    “Aaah, that’s what she meant!” whispered Connie
    “She should have said so, why all the confusing pistache?”
    “You mean panache?”
    “No, although I’d fancy a nice beer and lemonade.”

    Once they had finished their sideways discussion, Miss Bossy had already gone to explain the first award category : “Most Stylistic Synchronistic Article”.

    “It’s going to take a while” Ricardo winked at them, “considering all the articles you’ve produced this week only. But I wouldn’t discard the possibility of Sophie winning one yet.”

    Both Connie and Hilda’s faces turned woebegone.

    #4654
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The door snapped open and made a hole on the wall. Sophie entered shaking plane tickets she brandished like a Viking trophy. She paused, looked at the wall and said :
    “Oops! Sorry for that. I don’t know my strength since that Doctor experimented on me. I never asked for that,” she added trying to put on a sorry face, but her shining eyes betrayed her mercilessly.

    “Well, what about those plane tickets ?” asked Miss Bossy. “I don’t recall validating the expense.” She kept her lips tight and didn’t say for you but thought it very hard.

    “You didn’t need to, someone sent them to me. Apparently they want me to investigate the China doll production and are sending me to…” she paused and looked at the destination. Her excited look faded away so fast that Ricardo and Miss Bossy looked at each other from the corner of their eyes. It was hard to maintain, but not impossible if you practiced yoga regularly.

    “What?” asked Ricardo, a tad irritated by the interruption.

    “Well, I thought they were sending me to China, but apparently they are sending me to
    Finland to investigate the Suomenlinna Toy Museum… about their china dolls… Someone can take my place if they want,” said old Sophie.

    Miss Bossy took the letter and read it quickly as only a boss can do.

    “They specifically ask for you. I’m sorry, dear old Sophie, but we can’t spare our resources at the moment, you’ll have to go alone,” she offered her best bossy smile face ever. Her aunt Marcella would have been proud of her.

    #4653
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Come on now,” said Ricardo. “Nobody has put anything out there about the dolls. Come and sit down on this nice comfy office chair and tell us what is going on. You will do yourself an injury running in those heels. Lovely shoes of course,” he added quickly.

    Miss Bossy Pants glared at him suspiciously but allowed herself to be coaxed to the nearest office chair while Hilda and Connie raised their eyebrows and Sweet Sophie snorted.

    “That’s right,” he said. “Just let me wipe that chair for you before you sit. Now, you tell us what’s going on while I make the tea. One sugar?”

    Hilda and Connie made gagging noises.

    Slimy creep, hissed Connie.

    “No hurry then,” said Hilda. “We’ve only been waiting half an hour for tea already.”

    Miss Bossy Pants wiped her forehead with a tea towel, too relieved to question what a tea towel was doing on the desk. She pulled her phone out and scrolled through her messages.

    “I received this,” she said. “Read it out will you, Ric. I can’t stand to look at it again.”

    “Put a lid on the doll story or you will be sorry. And I mean very sorry Very very sorry,” read Ric. “Hmmm rather unimaginative as threats go, don’t you think?”

    “Scroll through to the next one.”

    “By the way, it’s the DOCTOR sending this, in case you think for one moment this is an unimaginative idle threat.”

    #4645
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    It had been a day of full work for Ricardo, rather than his frequently dull work at the paper.
    Connie and Hilda were crazily busy bouncing off bits of odd news to each other and it was a sort of playful banter that even had Sweet Sophie come out of her pre-lunch-post-lunch slumber that occasionally trailed until tea time.

    News of the Rim had been scarce, there was no denying. Honestly, he wondered how Bossy M’am managed to still pay the bills and their wages, however meager those (or his) were. He giggled thinking about how she probably scared the debt collectors off their wits with her best impersonation of Johnny Depp playing Jack Sparrow playing Tootsie meets Freddy Krueger.

    Speaking of which, he couldn’t help but eavesdrop, while pretending to clean the coffee cups and the butter knives full of vegemite and scone crumbs.

    “Dolls! Are you daft? What about all those crop circles in France instead?”
    “Listen, you decrepit tart, I’m telling you there’s plenty to investigate about this Findmy stuff group. Secret dolls scattered around the world, masonic occult secret symbols…”
    “Hardly matter for an insert on 4th page, dear. While on the other hand, elongated skulls, secret underground bases in Antarctica…”
    “We talked about this! Conspiracy theories are off limits! We only want the real stuff, the odd happenings that hits your neighbour that you wouldn’t have known about without us reporting it! But dolls! that’s something, no?”
    “Flimsy at best…”
    “What else then?”
    “I don’t know, seesh, what about Hundreds attending two frogs wedding in India ?”
    “Already covered, too mainstream…”
    “What about the Mothman of Tchernobyl?”
    “We stopped cryptozoology, remember, after that pathetic chase after the trenchcoat ape that got us torpedoed in the other paper rags when we reported it without checking our facts?”
    “Facts! FACTS! Don’t you get me started about FACTS!”

    Suddenly, they both turned simultaneously at Ricardo, seemingly realizing his presence.

    Ric’, this cuppa isn’t going to make itself, dear.” They both said like a couple of creepily synched automatons.

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