The impending strategy and budget review was now quickly upon them.
The much questioned old new authority of the Surge Team had decided all the countries had to join for that week long first round of strategy plan and as Long Poon was too much of a reminder of work (they said, but many suspected too much of a reminder of Ed Steam’s empire), Madam Li had graciously offered to host the venue in Shangpoon, where they had managed to corner 15,000 floating piglets and her services were still probably needed.
All the thirteen chief operatives were busy setting things in order, and delegating current tasks during their business trip. Some of them were still hopelessly fumbling in spreadsheets and slides —a inane exercise in style they thought, but still…
“I can’t stand it!” Cornella almost exploded in front of her computer, now returned to decent level of cleanliness since Aqua’s return. She was sick of this old ageing alzheimering authority. Not that she missed Ed too much now. He was a pig —and gawd, this waxed mustache from another epoch… A pig they all liked because they didn’t know better at the time and his charisma covered for all the tiny slips of behaviour or even judgement. She’d seen that same feeling when the ceremony was held for his ashes spreading; most of the tears shed there had looked a bit contrived.
The mission to replace the pope with an alien-reconfigured Jesuit was a success, thanks to clever team work and her stellar delicate planning skills. A plan hatched before Ed’s demise, but that the old guys had been glad to call theirs. That was the waking call for her. If they could get rid so easily of the papacy, she would blow that budget convention from inside.
That required thorough planning though, and a bit of luck. Most of the chick would gladly be on board with this.
That’s when the mysterious vanishing dog legs cabinet came back to her attention.
Baltazar made a face as he swallowed the time travel sickness pill. “Could have made them smaller” he grumbled.
Intu rolled her eyes. “Stop being such a jess and take this” she said, handing him a smoking frothing potion in a tall silver cup. “For the side effects of the Replicator.”
“I hate this time of year. Trying to be in a hundred places at once, all because of that stupid tradition.”
“How do you think I feel?” asked Jesus. “At least you don’t have to wear a nappy.”
“It’s not a nappy, it’s swaddling clothes. Haven’t they finished with all that religion stuff yet?” said Baltazar. “Maybe if we just don’t turn up, it will bring the end forward? Can’t we just stay here in Tartessos? Bugger their parades, I’m not going again.”
Intu gasped. “Baltazar, you can’t let me down now. This might very well be the last time, if everything goes according to plan. I tell you what, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll arrange for you to meet the reindeer pee travelling salesman on the way.”
“Oh no! Last night’s frost has killed all the blibilong plants!” exclaimed Snettie, shivering in the unnatural cold. “Honestly, this global freezing is spoiling everything. If blibilong plants can’t stand this cold, then nothing will grow here anymore, and I am sick to death of eating leopard seal with no greens.
The ointment the kind lady gave Luigi made him think of the fun adventure he had in Madrid with the good doctor. Ugly he was maybe, but not as daft as to blindly accept gifts of healing wrapped in a pretty bottle.
Well, not without trying it first at least. Last time it’d cost him a cat. Well, the neighbour’s cat. And it was sick anyway before it’d dyed… Purple.
“Would you mind passing me the poodle” he asked smiling a crooked smile to a morbidly obese lady sunbathing in a tight hot pink bikini near the marina.
“Arana Rebozada, whatever that is, some kind of squid I suppose, nice and crunchy anyway, whatever it is” replied Leo, who couldn’t remember the names of any of the characters in the new thread either.
Fishing into the depths of her capacious handbag, Bea pulled out a battered Spanish dictionary. “Oh here we are” she said, as she swallowed the last tasty morsel. “Breaded spiders.”
After her little escapade with Yimho, and then with Brennan, and then with Gormitohl, and with each escapade, a new home, new relationships and relatives, Malvina was starting to feel homesick. ‘Home’ wasn’t really any place of course, but we all know when we feel at home or not. And right now, the feeling was clear and loud that she wasn’t.
Not only that, but her selfless outpouring of love (which dear Arona always found slightly exaggerated for her tastes) had oftentimes put her in awkward situations.
People weren’t always aware that even though her love was given so strongly to all of creatures, it could be found everywhere, in every creature. Ancients called that stream viwre. The only difference with her and the others was that she wasn’t discriminating and her love was outpourring in every direction, regardless of the intentions of the receiver. And that could become a terrible power.
Well, after all the traveling with her teal-coloured dragon Leörmn, and occasional visits from the young dragon breeder Irtak she felt more than ever the need to reconnect. It’s been too many years now, and the world of the (still) warring Kingdoms didn’t feel much of a better place. So there was still work to be done.
Of all people, she knew where to turn to.
It was too early to start her trip around the world to physically reunite with her sisters. A lifelong project which had strangely stalled ever since they started to mention it.
But she remembered Kalliona, a beautiful woman living south of the Marshes of Doom. She wasn’t really a woman either, but rather an E’elim of the woods, but she appeared as a beautiful woman to almost anyone.
She would help her realign with her path.
“Leörmn!” She called “We’re packing!”
“To where, may I ask?”
“Oh great… A stinking harbour now.”
Ann handed in her assignment somewhat reluctantly. She hadn’t given it a great deal of thought, in fact she didn’t have a great deal of time to work on it. She had decided to do a haiku.
wet slobber drips
down my chin like rancid butter
gag at first kiss
Yoland felt tired and deflated somehow. Weary, perhaps that was it, weary of the way she always felt when the animals were sick or dying. It was all very well to look at it logically, that with so many animals with such relatively short natural life spans that there would always be some coming, some going, but it was the way it made her feel that was so tiring. Responsible, as if she could have done more, or guilty that they were reflecting her energy somehow. It was all very well to say that the animals were creating their own reality, that would be easy enough to accept in some cases such as old age and diseases, but Yoland almost wished she’d never learned that they reflect her own energy, that always made her feel even more responsible than she already did.
The black cat was dying. Yoland had made up her mind to take her to the vets that morning. That was another dilemma she’d faced often enough, too ~ would the animal prefer to die naturally at home? Or was it in too much pain, and would it prefer to end it quickly? How could she know? Yoland supposed she did always know, in the end, which was to be the choice, but there was always the agonizing period of time beforehand when she wondered which decision to make. But the black cat had disappeared and she couldn’t find her to take her to the vets after all.
When she’d made the decision to take the black cat to the vet that morning, Dean accidentally knocked a photograph of her first dog, Joe, off the wall. He was the first of her dogs to go, and a good age for a big dog, fourteen years old, and Yoland had known all along that he would die at home, and sure enough, he had. One day Yoland knew he was close to the end, and less than 24 hours later, he lay on his bed, and just gradually stopped breathing. Yoland hadn’t even been quite sure of the moment in which he went, as she held his head, she asked Dean, Do you think he’s dead? Dean replied, If he’s not breathing he is. It was a silly question, really, of course Yoland knew that if you weren’t breathing you were dead. As deaths go, it was peaceful and easy. They took him in the car to a place in the woods and buried him, somewhere where the ground was soft enough to dig; it was high summer and the ground was hard and dry. It wasn’t until Joe was covered with earth that Yoland cried.
Yoland cried again as she remembered Joe, and then she wondered if perhaps his photograph falling off the wall that morning was a message ~ perhaps a message that the black cat was choosing to die at home too, her own little niche somewhere, wherever that might be, wherever the roof cats slept. Maybe Joe was reassuring her that he’d be there when the black cat got there, in that field of flowers where the animals played while they waited for us to join them.
It was a comforting thought. Yoland reached for the tissues.
The smell of the incense was giving her a sense of comfort and was helping her unfocus her attention in order to let the trance occur. She was one of the Seers of the Crimson Feather Order and when she was in a trance, the Goddess was speaking through her for those priests or priestesses who were seeking directions.
The Seers usually had no memories of what was happening when they were speaking for the Goddess and they were usually coupled with a Witness so the message would not be altered by the requester to best suit his or her desire. Depending on the clarity of the message, a period of evaluation and interpretation could be necessary and in case of official communications it was then forwarded to every temple.
Though in certain occasions the Witness could be missing as it was the case today. The archbishop Boorla had requested a meeting with no Witness, and in such cases the value of the information was only considered of personal nature. He was late, and she could put off the meeting if she wanted to, but a faint feeling was suggesting her to wait a bit longer.
When he entered a few minutes later, introduced by her usual Witness, he seemed furious and having great difficulties containing his anger. He was a red long-haired cat and his collar was particularly imposing in such moments. She had to focus on herself and not let his irritation make her loose her balance for the trance. As the Witness left the room, she took a deep breath and purred gently as she began the ritual. The Requester had to keep silence until being invited to do ask their question and she needed some time to calm him.
She felt at first his irritation grow as she was purposefully delaying the beginning of the trance, but he couldn’t resist longer the soothing purr of the Seer, and as she asked the ritual question, she felt her consciousness fading out.
When she came out of trance, she was feeling sick, the delivery of the message had been interrupted and though he was silent she could feel the fury of the archbishop flowing like waves. Apparently the message didn’t please him at all, and he barely spoke the ending ritual Thanks to the Goddess before he left the room hissing.
Though she was feeling tired and would need some rest, she couldn’t help wondering what had happen.
From the Aah alternate Aniverse, some words from Lemane…
“I think that’s one of the reason why I don’t really appreciate Xmas, because of that sickening tradobligation of buying crappy stuff, but as long as you’re on facegoat, I can send good karma to you.” ID1945
“ pftlabaltloup that’s the Samari word for what I wanted to say: it may sound a little dismissive, but it’s pronounced fruit-lab-at-loop. Indeed; ‘fruit’ because the emails like snoot fruits, ‘lab’ for the extraction of the quintessence, and ‘loop’ to keep in loop… And we are complete.” ID1945
Alizabath Tittler took another draw on her fag of nicoback.
Passing her hand through her wild and matted hair, she noticed there were mare and mare bald patches hare and thare instead of her former lusciaas mane… and her ayes a tad blaadshat, but she trusted she was beautifaal.
Taking another slaarp off her glass of dark red clarat wine —her faarth? she had lost count…— she sighed remembering the gaad old days. Not that she missed her dazen of previaas hubbas, nah.
She was comfartable tonight. Orok the building manager, one had to concede it to him, had decided to heat the building earlier this year, due to the falling temperatures, and it was all very warm and cosy inside. Traath was, she barely wanted to get out of the building at all, having Fannley order Chaanese faad for her, under the pretaxt to fanish her next novel. But end was never nearly in sight.
Her pablisher, Brackel, was still asking her about her next manuscraapt, and Fannley, the claaning-lady of the office (she only figured out recently that she actually was a ‘she’) was thrawing suspiciaas laaks on her every time they met.
All in all, life laaked almost the same. Not the same without a Lemane quote though.
She opened his last baak at random, laaking for a paarl of wisdam.
I think that’s one of the reason why I don’t really appreciate Xmas, because of that sickening tradobligation of buying crappy stuff, but as long as you’re on facegoat, I can send good karma to you.
“Waw!” What an ideaa, this yeaar, she will send gaad karma to her ex-husbaands.
“Anathar wan!” She couldn’t get her hands aff such profaand baak.
Roger-Y, her pet talking white gaase started to screech frantically “Anathar WAN! Anathar WAN!” making her little fainting mongrats collapse to the flaar.
“pftlabaltloup”: that’s the Samari word for what I wanted to say: it may sound a little dismissive, but it’s pronounced fruit-lab-at-loop. Indeed; ‘fruit’ because the emails like snoot fruits, ‘lab’ for the extraction of the quintessence, and ‘loop’ to keep in loop… And we are complete.
“Waw” She was always struggling to kaap in the laap with all her characters; naw, that was something to consider, as she was Samari belonging herself, not at all Vaaldish like her mather. Gad forbads.
Gloria had volunteered to go fetch whatever thing she could find to feed the measly fire burning in a ice crevice. They were starting to get a bit hungry and the watermelbomb once exploded weren’t giving off much to feed on. She was starting to hallucinate delicious roasted penguins on a fire, with a slice of bread and whale lard, and a smoking cup of algae tisane…
“Golly, this is gettin’ sick! The little buggers are so cute…” she mused, fondly overlooking the flock of penguins on the shore, some diving and catching fish, others nursing, some gliding lazily on the glittering ice.
“What the ‘eck!” Akita couldn’t believe its ears.
“Weeehoo! We’re goin’ome, and on a cruise mind ye!” Mavis was beaming.
“On a frigging iceberg! You can’t be serious!”
“Oh don’t be such a party pooper Akitooh, it’s perfect!” Sharon said
Not even trying to be reassuring, Mavis echoed “Yes! Remember BBC talkin’ about it years ago; just another mad project they said. But I loved that! Mad projects ye know… never thought I would see that in my lifetime. Guess the project has been funded after all. Drifting bagged icebergs to Africa through the Indian Ocean! Now that’s a plan!”
“And look! this one has got propellers, and a little platform,… and a satellite dish!” Sharon was inspecting the behemothic plastic-bagged iceberg on rockets which was bobbing up and down, still anchored to the nearby whale-watching base.
“Hope it’s not teleguided by aliens though…” Gloria said a bit wearily.
“Well, I suppose it’s our best option for now” Akita was trying to be appreciative of the ladies efforts. “And how do we hop on that thing?”
“Oh, that’s easy! Bring the ropes girls!”
“Oh no! Last night’s frost has killed all the blibilong plants!” exclaimed Snettie, shivering in the unnatural cold. “Honestly, this global freezing is spoiling everything. If blibilong plants can’t stand this cold, then nothing will grow here anymore, and I am sick to death of eating leopard seal with no greens.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me. What I wouldn’t give for a nice fresh sun warmed bobbit fruit. All the smikkerts have migrated north as well, I haven’t seen one for months” replied Snooter. “I don’t know if I can stick around here for much longer myself.”
“But this is our home, Snooter!” Snettie started to cry, her tears freezing on her cheeks. We’re Sprealians, we’ve always lived here. Where will we go?”
Snooter hugged Snettie. “I suppose we’ll have to go north, like the rest of them.”
Snooter and Snettie gazed around at the deserted city. Alabash had been built around the shores of Lake Flom, in the mild and temperate regions of central Spreal (later, much later, Spreal was referred to as Gondwana, but Snooter and Snettie didn’t know that. And they certainly didn’t know that the remains of their civilization was to disappear under masses of ice for so long that all memory of them was long forgotten, and that anyone mad enough to suggest that they once existed would be considered a bit of a nutter).
“Snettie, I think the time has come” Snooter said solemnly. “I think we have to go north. There’s only old Spagwan left here now besides us, and his daughter Illiofilly. We’ll never survive here with just four of us, even if it didn’t get any colder, and it is getting colder, every day. Why, the first four floors of all our buildings are iced up now for heaven’s sake. What happens when the ice reaches the top floors? Then what?”
“We’ll all be dead by then, Snooter” Snettie sighed “By rights we should probably be dead now. When we run out of furniture to burn to keep warm, then what? All the trees are dead and buried in ice.”
“We’ll come back though, when it warms up again. This can’t last forever, and when it’s over, we’ll come back.” Snooter said optimistically.
“How long do you think it’ll be?” Snettie asked her husband.
“Oh, not long, a few years at most. Don’t worry, you’ll be back home before you know it, but for now, let’s go and find some warmth and some decent food, eh?”
“Ok, but first I want to leave something, some message or clue or something, in case anyone comes back here before we do, so they know we’re coming back”
That’s some stroke of genius, said Al to himself, as he was waiting in the cold for a gondoskate to pay a visit to Becky Tooh who was sick with the flu at home with the three kids, and Sean nowhere to be found. Usually Sam was keen on helping Becky Tooh with the motherly duties, but as he was gone to the City he had relied on Tina and Al for that…
If we manage to move the characters of the Reality Play out of that freezing land sooner, we’ll probably soon get hotter as well… Well, at least it’s worth a try!
“What on earth is Al suggesting now, I wonder” mused Becky, who was catching up with the latest additions to the Reality Play. Frowning, she wondered how to handle it. It was often a challenge when one of the other writers interfered with her story line plans.
“Well, be honest, Becky” she said to herself “You were floundering a bit with all this boring tropical romance stuff, wafting around the Facility with nothing more interesting to do than sip cool drinks and wink at Gayesh.”
Becky put the sheaf of printed pages on the table beside her, lost in thought. The warm still evening air was beginning to be stifling, and she felt trapped, smothered in the blue velvet embrace of the night, sickened by the scent of the perfumed flowers and rotting fruit, and suddenly bored beyond endurance.
Perhaps her babies and her lush of a husband back home would be more exciting.
“I can always swap back again later if it gets tedious in New Venice” she added, having a moment of trepidation at the thought of her responsibilities as a mother of triplets. She liked to keep her options open, keep an escape plan on the back burner.
With a light heart and a spring in her step, she grabbed the papers off the table and ran upstairs to pack.
“Maybe a stop over in Long Pong on the way” she decoded. “Oh look at that!” she said to herself “I meant to say decided and wrote decoded instead. Pfft” she grumbled “That must be because I’m worried about decoding all the other strange additions to the Reality Play that have been spewed forth lately. Sheesh, do Al and Sam honestly think I will ever catch up now? Oh bugger it all, Long Pong, here I come!”
“I want to go home”, sighed Jose. “I just want to go home.” He sighed again as he stood looking out of the cabin. What a mess it all was. Cyclone Ycart had left a trail of mangled wreckage in her wake, but it wasn’t just the devastation on the island, it was the atmosphere, the feeling of chaos, the sense of hidden turmoil permeating the place that made him weary and homesick.
“Oh, bugger the treatments!” Jose frowned. “I don’t think I want the treatments any more, you know.” He looked at Paqui’s face. “I never even notice your skin anymore, I like it just the way it is. I don’t even worry about my scars any more, either.”
“I know what you mean” Paqui smiled. “I’m not worried about it either, anymore. I’d like to go home too now. The question is, though, how do we get off this god forsaken island?”
Jose sighed again. “God only knows”
Paqui took Jose by the hand and led him back inside the cabin. “Remember what I was telling you about the ancients dreaming together? How the tribe would dream together, plan where to go next? How they would work things out in their dreams? Let’s try it. Let’s go to sleep and when we wake up we’ll compare notes, and see if we can come up with a solution”
Jose smiled a crooked smile, thinking that sleep sounded as good as anything else he could think of to do. Well, perhaps there was one other thing. Jose winked at Paqui as he closed the door behind them.
When they woke up the sun was low enough on the western shore to cast long umber shadows across the cabin floor, and dust particles danced in the golden sunbeams. Jose woke first and lay still, savouring the remnants of dream images. He felt good; the indescribable sense of having accomplished some meaningful communications with known but elusive others that he couldn’t quite put his finger on, yet couldn’t deny the validity of. It was some minutes before he remembered the plan to dream of a solution to the problem of how to get off the island, and in an instant the well-being evaporated as he struggled to recall any useful details, and frustratingly found that he couldn’t recall a thing.
“Focus on the feeling, Joselito” a voice in his head said. The voice had come through loud and clear, a deep male voice with a hint of a merry chuckle. “Ha ha ha!” The voice boomed again, as if in response to Jose’s awareness of him. An image of dusty reddish skin, swathed in indigo blue cloth flashed through Jose’s mind, and then vanished like a particle of dust moving out of the sunlight into the shadows.
Paqui was beginning to stir, and started mumbling. “The pool, the rock pool, there’s a cave under the pool, hold your breath it won’t be long and out the other side…” She opened her eyes and sat up. “There’s a pool, Jose, and under the pool there’s a tunnel. That’s how we get off the island.”
Jose frowned. “Paqui, this island is in the middle of the ocean, miles from anywhere. Even if there is a tunnel, and even if it goes anywhere at all, it would take months to get to the mainland on foot!”
“Focus on the feeling, Joselito ~ Ha ha ha!” That voice in his head again! Jose was starting to think he was going mad. Suddenly he was filled with doubts and hopelessness. Everything seemed so utterly ridiculous. God, what was he doing here on this island! Everything was crazy here. If only he could just go home!
“Focus on the feeling, Jose.” The voice was gentle now, and kind. “The feeling will take you home”.
“I don’t know what you mean!” cried Jose in exasperation. “How can a feeling take me home? It’s not logical!”
Paqui smiled a wise old smile and said “If you can’t trust yourself, dear one, then trust me for now. We’ll leave first thing in the morning.”
“But we don’t even know where the pool is! What if we can’t find it?”
“Focus on the feeling Jose, and trust that we will.”
“My yellow is fine and dandy”
Said green hued sickly Mandy
“You’re mad to suggest
A yellow sick fest”
Said sickly green hued Mandy.
Mandy felt better at once
“I feel better than I have in months.
You may be mad,
And that is sad!
But now I fancy some lunch.”
These are special Kuzhebarian Healing Limericks you know, Becky said a trifle huffily. Nobody appreciates my limericks.
Mr X is making some rice.
It’ll be ready in just a trice;
All soupy and wet,
She’ll feel better I bet
In a trice, at a modest price.
“You tried”, she said with a smirk
“But I doubt if it will work”
Tina interrupted: “You tried she said with a sigh”
“But the poppy is making me high!
So thanks for that!
I’ll eat my hat.”
She said, “Now I’m starting to fly!”
Mandy flies off down the street,
Smiling gaily at all she meets
“I’m high, I can fly!”
She said with a sigh
Of joyous delight. How sweet!
Mongloose had a moment of doubt
“I fear she is still in a prout.
But one never does know
How these healing rhymes flow
Before long she’ll be up and about.”
START! said Tina.
“Bagpush got out of the washtub”, Becky scribbled, “ And scooted down along the river line to the marks butty big one by the farm. Heavens above, fishly, what’s that brown thing on the water butt? Gawbsmacker said, don’t be talking like that, shekeltons in a hide to ho where and its first light, fair bright and hey ho the wash go. Abbon Ipswich, slaty flats of corncake, hey dee on the wash bucket, spittin in the hole hey down dooly. Margaret Apsworth laying on the white cotton cake spread, fair dooly down the one hooly. Ay and its a hey ho fair fooly down by the wash pooly, drum rolling in the har fool haley, down by the dash darnly. I said, hey ho the brown tooly, hoggin all the raw tooly, stewing in the far fooly for eight pence an hour. Said Mavis of the green sportwear, theres may flowers in the far horse hair, weel butter in the spar for tucker and muck down in the cow butter, said bree in the bird barny, a flying for the far fooly, well its knees up and out your dooly for the green hay beer fair. Its a fine night for a hooly in the row bottom in the far fooly, said mavis of the tom fooly, in the wash bucket down stairs. Once more, sell a nickel farthing, in the morning and in the darning, and say way more is in the star sign than a wash bucket down stairs.”
Good greif, exclaimed Becky, What was all that about?
Well you know what? It was kind of fun and refreshing to just write nonsense
I am sick of things MEANING something, Becky said, and then, warming to her subject:
Lets have some good old fashioned MEANINGLESSNESS!
T: you might’ve fixed the typo’s, F
T: Frightfully good of you to post it though, Effy, old bean
T: Steady on, F! Anyway, where’s the bit about ODD, you know, the tart and two halves?
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