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      The day after their arrival, Alexandria took Leroway and Jolly on a tour of the abandoned village, inviting them to choose a dwelling for themselves. The other new arrivals had chosen places with the least structural damage, places with roofs remaining, regardless of the size or position, for reasons of immediate practicality. Leroway set his sights on the grandest house just outside the castle walls, perched above the other houses. There was very little roof left, but the thick stone walls were standing firm, and the gaping windows provided impressive views. Jolly was delighted with the spacious inner courtyard and crumbling fountain, picturing the flowering Solandra vines she would plant there once the restorations had been completed.

      Leroway had been making mental notes of salvagable materials as they toured the village, and had soon enlisted the help of Lobbocks and a few of the other young men to drag sheets of corrugated iron from crumbling pig pens and stables and other useable items up the winding streets to the house. To cut a long story short, it wasn’t long at all before Leroway had the new villagers organized into efficient teams, under his innovative direction.

      Trustinghampton started to take shape. More people arrived and joined in the reconstruction process. Shelter, firewood, and food were the priorities, but Leroway had ideas for the future and during the scavenging he started to collect potentially useful items in the barn adjoining his house.

      Jolly and Eleri became friends, and spent much of their days exploring the surrounding countryside in search of edible or medicinal ~ or indeed magical ~ plants. After their walks they conferred with the old woman, Cornelia, showing her the plants they’d gathered and comparing notes on their potential uses. The young women were well versed in plant lore, but the old one had the benefit of a lifetimes learning and experience.

      Cornelia had always lived just outside the village, and had watched the old inhabitants gradually die off or move to the lowlands. The last ones to leave had begged her to join them, but she had refused. She had been born next to the old stones and she would die next to them. Eleri and Jolly had asked her about those strange stones, and Cornelia had enigmatically replied that one day she would tell them the secrets of the stones. When the time was right.


        Yorath awoke with the first light before sunrise. The flowering vine encircling the tree house was vibrating with bees. Sparrows chattered and jostled in the highest branches of the gnarly old tree and small creatures rustled in the fallen leaves below. He leaned out of the window and surveyed Eleri’s homestead spread beaneath the trees. Sprawling vine tangled walls and gables, whitewash shaded in darkest grey and lit with palest rose pink. Patches of tiled floors peeped through the interior meadows. He used the word interior loosely as there had been no roof on the buildings for as long as he could remember but Eleri still used the rooms in a more or less usual fashion, although she housed her occasional guests in the tree house.

        Eleri slept in a thatched outhouse some distance away from the main house, and closer to the river. Or so she said ~ Yorath had never actually seen it. He had watched Eleri disappear into a dense thicket at the end of the evenings, and seen her emerge from it in the early mornings. Once or twice he’d wandered through the woods in search of it, but he had never found it. There was no sign of a path leading into the undergrowth. Maybe she turned into a tree at night, Yorath had wondered. After all, anything was possible here.

        As he gazed into the woods Eleri appeared. Did she simply shimmer into a physical form before his eyes? It was hard to say, but she was carrying a large basket full of mushrooms. Then he remembered that it was wild mushroom season here and he marveled at the perfect timing of his visit. He knew just the person who would welcome a gift of a certain kind of rare mushroom, the special ingredient of THE magical spell.


          Glynis could barely breathe when she thought about leaving the home she had created for herself here in the enchanted garden. Yes, for sure she was lonely and the months … or perhaps it was years … had done little to ease that pain; the birds and other creatures she interacted with on a daily basis were companionship but it was not the same as having friends of her own kind.

          But she had made a life for herself and it was bearable. At times, for example when she was engrossed in learning a new spell, she felt something akin to happiness.

          And she always held the hope that one day she would stumble upon the spell.

          And the alternative … to leave here … she felt ill. But she could not deny the restless pull she was feeling even though she did not as yet understand it.

          Glynis took a deep breath and pulled away the cover she had placed over the mirror in her room; it was actually an old drape she had found in the main house and made from the most beautiful blue velvet covered with little embossed hearts.

          It was a long time since she had looked at herself in a mirror.

          She took a deep breath and willed herself to see.

          Her hair was luscious. It reached to her waist now and was a deep auburn red colour. The rosemary and other herbs she used when washing her hair meant it was shiny and thick. She was tall and slender and the red gown with little pearl buttons down the bodice—she had discovered a whole wardrobe of wonderful dresses in the house—fitted her beautifully.

          Glynis resolutely forced her eyes to focus on her face though they seemed intent on disobeying her. She shook her head in an effort to clear the blurriness and realised she was crying.

          Dragon face.

          That’s what the Sorceror had called her. And certainly, it was an apt description. For Glynis’ face was covered in ugly green scales and a small horn protruded about an inch out on either side of her forehead.

          She’d broken his heart, he had said. And for that she must pay the price.


            Liz’ delicate nose quivered at the heavy scent of her mother’s perfume. As long as she could remember, it had created a thickness in the air, moving around in the house, filling in every corner, invading every space.
            Two men, who looked like those magazine top models, followed in with her mother’s suitcases. They put it in the entrance, got out and came back shortly after with other suitcases. Some were black, some were white, creating an ensemble like a chessboard.
            “How long are you staying ?” Liz managed to get out of her lumpy throat.


              Corrie’s findings from elsewhere:

              “Mike wasn’t as courageous as his former self, the Baron. That new name had a cowardly undertone which wasn’t as enticing to craze and bravery as “The Baron”.

              The idea of the looming limbo which had swallowed the man whole, and having to care for a little girl who surely shouldn’t be out there on her own at such an early hour of the day spelt in unequivocal letters “T-R-O-U-B-B-L-E” — ah, and that he was barely literate wasn’t an improvement on the character either.

              Mike didn’t want to think to much. He could remember a past, maybe even a future, and be bound by them. As well, he probably had a family, and the mere though of it would be enough to conjure up a boring wife named Tina, and six or seven… he had to stop now. Self introspection wasn’t good for him, he would get lost in it in quicker and surer ways than if he’d run into that Limbo.

              “Let me tell you something… Prune?… Prune is it?”
              “I stop you right there, mister, we don’t have time for the “shouldn’t be here on your own” talk, there is a man to catch, and maybe more where he hides.”

              “Little girl, this is not my battle, I know a lost cause when I see one. You look exhausted, and I told my wife I would be back with her bloody croissants before she wakes up. You can’t imagine the dragon she becomes if she doesn’t get her croissants and coffee when she wakes up. My pick-up is over there, I can offer you a lift.”

              Prune made a frown and a annoyed pout. At her age, she surely should know better than pout. The thought of the dragon-wife made her smile though, she sounded just like Mater when she was out of vegemite and toasts.

              Prune started to have a sense of when characters appearing in her life were just plot devices conjured out of thin air. Mike had potential, but somehow had just folded back into a self-imposed routine, and had become just a part of the story background. She’d better let him go until just finds a real character. She could start by doing a stake-out next to the strange glowing building near the frontier.

              “It’s OK mister, you go back to your wife, I’ll wait a little longer at the border. Something tells me this story just got started.”


              Aunt Idle was craving for sweets again. She tip toed in the kitchen, she didn’t want to hear another lecture from Mater. It only took time from her indulging in her attachments. Her new yogiguru Togurt had told the flockus group that they had to indulge more. And she was determined to do so.
              The kitchen was empty. A draft of cold air brushed her neck, or was it her neck brushing against the tiny molecules of R. She cackled inwardly, which almost made her choke on her breath. That was surely a strange experience, choking on something without substance. A first for her, if you know what I mean.

              The shelves were closed with simple locks. She snorted. Mater would need more than that to put a stop to Idle’s cravings. She had watched a video on Wootube recently about how to unlock a lock. She would need pins. She rummaged through her dreadlocks, she was sure she had forgotten one or two in there when she began to forge the dreads. Very practicle for smuggling things.

              It took her longer than she had thought, only increasing her craving for sweets.
              There was only one jar. Certainly honey. Idle took the jar and turned it to see the sticker. It was written Termite Honey, Becky’s Farm in Mater’s ornate writing. Idle opened the jar. Essence of sweetness reached her nose and made her drool. She plunged her fingers into the white thick substance.”


              “But wait! What is this?

              Her greedy fingers had located something unexpected; something dense and uncompromising was lurking in her precious nectar. Carefully, she explored the edges of the object with her finger tips and then tugged. The object obligingly emerged, a gooey gelatinous blob.

              Dido sponged off the honey allowing it to plunk on to the table top. It did not occur to her to clean it up. Indeed, she felt a wave of defiant pleasure.

              The ants will love that, although I guess Mater won’t be so thrilled. Fussy old bat.
              She licked her fingers then transferred her attention back to the job at hand. After a moment of indecision whilst her slightly disordered mind flicked through various possibilities, she managed to identify the object as a small plastic package secured with tape. Excited, and her ravenous hunger cravings temporarily stilled in the thrill of the moment, she began to pick at the edges of the tape.

              Cocooned Inside the plastic was a piece of paper folded multiple times. Released from its plicature, the wrinkled and dog-eared paper revealed the following type written words:

              food self herself next face write water truth religious behind mince salt words soon yourself hope nature keep wrong wonder noticed.”


              ““What a load of rubbish!” Idle exclaimed, disappointed that it wasn’t a more poetic message. She screwed up the scrap of crumpled paper, rolled it in the honey on the table, and threw it at the ceiling. It stuck, in the same way that cooked spaghetti sticks to the ceiling when you throw it to see if it’s done. She refocused on the honey and her hunger for sweetness, and sank her fingers back into the jar.”


              “The paper fell from the ceiling on to Dido’s head. She was too busy stuffing herself full of honey to notice. In fact it was days before anyone noticed.”


              “The honeyed ball of words had dislodged numerous strands of dried spaghetti, which nestled amongst Aunt Idle’s dreadlocks rather attractively, with the paper ball looking like a little hair bun.”


              ““Oh my god …. gross!“ cackled the cautacious Cackler.”


              ““Right, that does it! I’m moving the whole family back to the right story!” said Aunt Idle, invigorated and emboldened with the sweet energy of the honey. “Bloody cackling nonsense!””


                Aunt Idle was craving for sweets again. She tip toed in the kitchen, she didn’t want to hear another lecture from Mater. It only took time from her indulging in her attachments. Her new yogiguru Togurt had told the flockus group that they had to indulge more. And she was determined to do so.
                The kitchen was empty. A draft of cold air brushed her neck, or was it her neck brushing against the tiny molecules of R. She cackled inwardly, which almost made her choke on her breath. That was surely a strange experience, choking on something without substance. A first for her, if you know what I mean.

                The shelves were closed with simple locks. She snorted. Mater would need more than that to put a stop to Idle’s cravings. She had watched a video on Wootube recently about how to unlock a lock. She would need pins. She rummaged through her dreadlocks, she was sure she had forgotten one or two in there when she began to forge the dreads. Very practicle for smuggling things.

                It took her longer than she had thought, only increasing her craving for sweets.
                There was only one jar. Certainly honey. Idle took the jar and turned it to see the sticker. It was written Termite Honey, Becky’s Farm in Mater’s ornate writing. Idle opened the jar. Essence of sweetness reached her nose and made her drool. She plunged her fingers into the white thick substance.


                In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


                  Eb was rendered temporarily speechless by the milling throng of rainbow blue aliens he was viewing through the monitor.

                  “So they …. so they have been built to be aware of themselves as aliens?” he eventually managed to ask.

                  “Correct. It is very sophisticated technology, but to put it in the simplest of terms” — Finnley 22 stopped short at adding even a simpleton like you could understand —“a whole history on the planet Thereon from the galaxy Cosmos Redshit has been programmed into their memory banks.”

                  “Wow. And what about the different shades of blue?”


                  “Ranking?” repeated Eb quizzically when no more information was forthcoming. “I am not sure I follow.”

                  Finnley sent an amused eye roll through the network.

                  “Let’s just say that creating hierarchy is an elegant way in which we can maintain order within the group.” She gave her trademark immodest smirk. “And of course, the various shades of blue are so creative and attractive, if we may say so ourselves.”

                  “Oh yes, beautiful. Fantastic. Absolutely phenomenol.” Eb wondered if he was laying it on a bit thick, but he was anxious to atone for the termitation fiasco. To be honest, he found the mass of blue creatures a little disquieting. He was also a little puzzled by something but knowing the Finnleys’ propensity for succinctness—and Finnley 22 in particular was renowned for her impatience with foolish questions— he wondered if he dared ask.

                  Deciding it would come back to haunt him if he did not find out now he plucked up courage.

                  “And … just one more thing … why are they bending like that?”


                    The blast ricocheted throughout the town. It set the dogs barking, chickens squalking and babies crying. Folks dropped what they were doing, in many cases literally: dishes and beer bottles crashed to the floor, as the towns people ran outside to find out what was going on, or ran for cover.

                    Bert, sitting on top of Plater’s Rock watching it all, slapped his thigh, whooped and then laughed until the tears ran like rain season creeks through the desert dry creases of his face. The unaccustomed unbridled mirth provoked a coughing fit: Bert balled up the phlegm that rose in his throat and catapulted gobs of it towards the creek below.

                    Well, that’s finally got that off my chest, he said to himself with another choking cackle.

                    The creek itself after the explosion was obscured from his sight by a thick pall of smoke, but the sputum projectiles were aimed with deadly accuracy at the bridge ~ or where the bridge had been.

                    There was no bridge there now though, not that anyone would have noticed its disappearance if he hadn’t made sure they did. Years he’d spent making that bridge, a bit at a time, with what he could find or chance upon, working on it as often as he had time for. He’d found what he could only describe as a “special place” over on the other side of the creek, it spoke to him and seemed to call on him to bring others. The only way to it from the town was to swim the creek, or drive almost 200 miles by road, via the closest bridge at Ninetown. So Bert decided to build a bridge across, so people could go back and forth with ease and enjoy the place on the other side.

                    Bert had finished the bridge three years ago during the dry season, and invited everyone over upon it’s completion. Four people turned up, even though he’d set up a picnic and brought coolboxes of champagne and beer, and a big bag of weed. Less than a dozen people used Bert’s bridge in the first two years, and he was the only one to cross over since the last dry season.

                    Finding the dynamite in the old mine shaft a few months back had given him the idea. An impulse had seized him after the unexpected encounter with Elizabeth. He blew the bridge up. It was over. He could breathe again.


                      “One moment I was on my way to get coffee; the next I was up there on the ceiling. I looked down and saw a lady lying on the ground with blood oozing from her head and I was thinking ‘someone should help her!’ and then I realised with some surprise it was me laying down there on the ground. ‘How could that be?’ I asked myself. I realised that I must have died. And, do you know what? I didn’t care. I felt amazing. For the first time in my life I felt truly free. I felt no more attachment to the body on the ground than I do to this … “

                      Flora paused to look around and her gaze finally settled on one of the sofa cushions — a dirty looking thing which was decorated with an embroidered kangaroo.

                      “… this cushion here.”

                      She hit it to emphasise her point and a cascade of dust rose in the air. She looked at Mater sadly and continued softly:

                      “Then I heard a voice telling me it was not my time and next thing I knew I was back in my body with this pounding great headache.”

                      Flora paused reflectively for a moment while she sipped on the cup of tea Prune had bought her.

                      Mater, this experience has changed me. I thought I had it all before: good looks, a fantastic figure—especially my butt—a successful career, but now I realise I was in penury. Trapped by my own brilliance into a shallow empty existence.”

                      “What’s that you say?” asked Mater, struggling to follow Flora’s very thick New Zealand accent. “And who the devil is Penny?”

                      She wondered where Bert had got to. One moment he was there and the next he just seemed to disappear.


                        I noticed when Mater left the house early and discreetly. I know all the sounds of the house, and even the light footsteps of my grandmother couldn’t avoid making the floor creak.

                        I’m mildly curious, as it isn’t every day Mater leaves the house, besides for the Sundays’ mass. She always complained about her cracking joints, and plenty other pains. Must be why she liked to threaten everyone with inflicting some.

                        She had looked genuinely sad when the furball had died, though. I was too, but my eyes are set on one of the new spaniel pups from a litter that Battista and Gerardo, the funny Italian couple with the pizzeria next door just had.

                        Battista promised to keep one for me. I lied of course, told her that my aunt had agreed to it. By any rate, Aunt Idle wouldn’t remember giving her approval or disapproval, and would most probably fall gaga for the little puppy. So it would just be a little white lie.

                        I was about to fall back asleep when I hear the door creak open. My first thought was that it was Mater who’d forgotten her keys, but the loud footsteps weren’t hers.

                        My heartbeat raised a little while I jump out of bed full of hope.

                        “Papa Fred!” I almost cried out while flying down the stairs, but then I stopped in mid sentence.
                        The man in the entrance isn’t father.

                        I would have cried for help, but Aunt Idle and my sisters have a very loud sleep, and I don’t want to look afraid. Father had taught me to stand my ground with wild animals.

                        “Who are you?” I ask the dust covered man. He had a broad hat, and a thick bushy beard. His coat was covered with cracked mud and dust from the road.

                        “Apologies for my intrusion young lady. Is that the Flying Fish Inn? Someone told me I could stay there for a while.”


                        I never could stand the sight of it. For as long as I remember, which is no more than 6 years, admittedly, the odd-looking fish had been preserved and placed above the fake stucco fireplace. It’s been here for much longer, though. You can tell by the thickness of the dust covering it. My friend Bert, that old chap, told me so.
                        He has told me many other stories about the town, about my family, and their glorious past. It could just have been no more than stories, but I believe him —for no reason, really. Maybe only because my sisters find him slightly creepy and old. Anyway, I like him.

                        In his stories, the fish had fallen many years ago from the sky. There had been rain this summer day, which was, in itself, even less believable than some oddly shaped flying fish falling from the sky. And that fish had fallen in front of what was the private mansion of the Curara family. Our ancestor found it, and decided to take it as a sign of the Almighty that they would be blessed with abundance forever after… But then, everything went downside with fantastic speed. The gold rush stopped in its tracks, the town slowly got deserted, and since then, our family started to believe that it was more a curse than a blessing. However, nobody ever bothered to get rid of the fish that once flew.

                        Maybe they were waiting for another one to appear to break the string of unfortunate events. I always think of all the amusing ways I could get rid of it without anybody noticing. April’s fools wouldn’t do… Too easy. But having it served at dinner would be a start. Sadly, with Aunt Idle’s poor cooking skills, there was no chance a fish could come unnoticed.

                        So it was on that particular day when I’d found and written down on my secret diary a 222nd way of getting rid of the fish, it was on that particular and fateful day, that everything changed again for the Curara family.


                          “Madame, a message from your mother. She’s waiting for you in her room.”

                          Linda Pol, ensconced in a lumpy chair at the hotel bar, got confused at the mention of her mother. She had forgotten for a moment that it was the code for her meeting with Amber Graystone. The boy was wearing the hotel livery, the fur was a perfect fit on that young body. He must have been eighteen, at least, it was illegal in most states to employ underage personnel. He was presenting her a folded paper on a silver plate. That was so cliché, the Management should keep up to date with the latest unusual methods.

                          She took the paper delicately. Thick, three hundred grams at least. Grainy yet satin-smooth. She thought the Management had money issues. She opened it and saw a single number inside. 88857.

                          “There must be a mistake, mon ami. Certainly your hotel is big, but it doesn’t have so many stories.”
                          The boy smirked.
                          “Please follow me, I’ll show you the way. Oh, and keep the card with you.”

                          Linda Pol had become cautious with age, but she had to admit the thrill of adventure and mystery was exciting. Especially presented on a silver plate by such a gorgeous minion. Something she hadn’t felt often lately.

                          She smiled, stretched her left arm and fluttered her fingers. Those chairs were so deep that you could’t get up without looking like getting out of the armpit of a gorilla. The boy helped her out, a surprised look on his face when she appeared to spring on her feet like a young damsel. Those morning fitness sessions were paying off after all.

                          “Show me everything”, she said with her best doe eyes.
                          Come on, Pol. He could be your son, she thought. The youngest, added her mother’s disincarnate voice.


                            Lisa was delighted when she woke up the next morning recalling a dream. She had just joined the new dream group despite hardly ever remembering dreams in the hopes that the pooling would improve her recall. In the dream she had been going on a trip with a few friends, and was waiting for the ferry to leave. The boat was on the beach instead of in the water, and there was thick fog but a number of people on the beach, so she went for a wander around and saw a man stretched out on his back, fully clothed, reading a book, the surfboard gently rolling in with the tide, and out with the tide, and back again. When she returned to the ferry it had turned into a building, the interior quite different from the ferry, and her friends were gone. Lisa checked her bag for tickets and camera, but they were missing, and the bag was full of plastic forks and spoons instead. Bloody Adeline! she thought. Plastic spoons and forks but no camera and no tickets!


                              “I’m looking for crew” the stranger said with a thick Russian accent as he bought all the men in the bar a beer, “No experience necessary! I need strong young men to help me sail to the Big Island.”
                              Igor had no idea where the Big Island was, or indeed how to sail a boat, but he felt a strong overwhelming urge to accept the strangers offer. “Count me in!” he exclaimed in Russian. What a relief it would be to speak in his native tongue. Russia seemed so very far away, both in distance and in time. There was something timely about this mans unexpected appearance in the village bar, something fortuitous. Igor felt it, but couldn’t explain it. All he knew was that he was destined to sail away with this stranger.
                              In truth, Mirabelle hardly crossed his mind. Leaving her would not worry him, although telling her he was leaving worried him a great deal.
                              “We leave now” explained the stranger, much to Igor’s relief. “No time to lose, the winds are favourable tonight. Let’s go!”
                              And with that, Igor left the village, without looking back.


                              In reply to: Tales of Tw’Elves

                              AvatarWhite Panther

                                Petronella had attended many “Occupy Movement” gatherings- she was one of the first to shuffle eagerly to Wall Street when the Yankee Americans were finally awakened from their stupendous slumber, and when the Spanish were shouting “Viva la Revolucion!” she was silently there, capturing every movement with her Canon IX-25 14.0 Megapixel camcorder and reporting to the rest of the world the rumblings of the impending revolution. This occupation was different, felt different, and conducted in a different manner.

                                She dusted the dirt off the book, looked around to see if nobody spotted her picking the book up, and retreated back into her tent. She brew a fresh pot of coffee, bundled herself in her tiny, yet thick and warm blanket and set the book before her. It was an odd-looking book, none like the books she’d encountered- and she encountered many books! Its cover was plain, covered in a velvet cloth with the title written plainly and boldly on the cover: CANARIA. The name rang a distant bell, but she shook the afterthought and proceeded to open the book. As she opened the first page, another beam of bright energetic light- this time it was blue- swept past her like a hurried flock of bees. This was the fourth beam of light she’d witnessed in the past twelve hours, and she was beginning to think she was going crazy. What made the whole matter even more crazier was that these beams of light seemed to be WHISPERING AND GIGGLING, almost as though they were forlorn inhabitants of the vatican. She ignored the beam of light- yet again- and resumed with her book. Just then, a blip sounded from her tiny Lenovo notebook: Kerry had sent her an instant message on Facebook chat. Slightly chagrined, she leered over and grabbed her notebook, settling the book next to her. Kerry was offline, but she had left a link to a website. Petronella clicked onto the link, and an article popped up on the screen. She skimmed by, having little interest in Kerry’s New Age nonsense. She was just about to close the webpage when a sentence caught her attention: “When you practise remote viewing, you will be accorded a beam of light with its owwn colour that’ll identify with you.”
                                The mentioned beams of light the sentence mentioned were the same she’d been witnessing, so she silently read on.


                                In reply to: Strings of Nines


                                  They were thick as theives, freinds for thousands of centuries, or even more; sometimes thick, sometimes theives, and anything else you might imagine. They got together again and again in this time and that, here, there and elsewhere, just for the fun of it. There was nothing they liked more than a puzzling occurance, or a riddle, or a basket full of clues to ponder over, unravel, and turn around and around, toying with meanings until they found one they liked. They had a home in The City, sort of a home base so to speak, where they met regularly each night in the dream state, regardless of which time or place they spent their waking hours. It was sometimes a releif to meet up at home in The City and always a pleasure: sometimes it was hard to stay under the radar back down on the ground, it was part of the job to stand out in the crowd, which often resulted in a lynching, or a ducking, or the stocks, at the very least. All too often it ended up on top of a bonfire, tied to a stake.

                                  One day in one of the Decembers, in amongst all the sweet dreams they often shared, they started having some unsettling group dreams, where they all felt like they were betwixt and between, falling through the cracks you might say. It was a feeling similar to dying of thirst, although it wasn’t really a physical thirst, it was more than that, a hungry yearning sort of thing. Some of them had strange nightmares, of a monstrous beast, and some of them actually saw beasts in the daytime too, especially on those falling through the cracks days. When they met up at home in The City, they compared notes about the beasts, and not always, but sometimes they found they were mirroring each others beasts. That often ended up in a heated debate, because the more mirroring that occurred, the more real the beast seemed. Some said that the beasts that appeared when you fell through the cracks were in a deep ravine, in a manner of speaking, and not of this plane at all. Others argued that if the beasts appeared through the cracks, then they were on this plane.

                                  And so it went on, and on. There were many more puzzling occurances to come, and lots of meanings to be considered, rejected, or taken on board for the friends, as thick as thieves, to turn around and around, and hold up to the mirror for closer inspection and dissection. They were making a tapestry, a huge rich colourful tapestry, and all the puzzling occurences, and even the beasts, were depicted in the colourful threads and patterns. They were the warp, you might say, of the weave. Love was the weft.

                                  “Congratulations, LizGodfrey remarked drily. “Are you supposed to use three months worth of creative writing challenges in one entry?”

                                  “Don’t be silly, Godfrey, of course not. Rules are meant to be broken, that’s what they’re for.”


                                  In reply to: Strings of Nines


                                    Ann wasn’t altogether sure what Godfrey meant when he referred to her new interest in continuity. Ann had always been interested in connecting links, yes, of that there was no doubt, but with so very many connecting links, and so many possible strings of connecting links, with so many possible divergences into yet more strings of connecting links, Ann really couldn’t fathom how anyone could possibly keep track of all those threads of continuity. Even a seemingly discontinuous assortment of unconnected links, once connected into a nonsense thread, became another continuity string. Furthermore, Ann continued ~ in a continuous fashion ~ to ponder, if everything is connected, then what, in actuality, was all the fuss about continuity? What exactly then WAS this concept of continuity? It seemed to Ann to be more like a string of barbed wire, or one of those flimsy but effective electric wire fences, boxing in the free flow of continuity, so that the objectively perceived continuity stayed rigidly within the confines of the preconceived tale. The inner landscape knew no such boundaries, although admittedly the inner landscape was far too vast to map.

                                    Ann smiled to herself as she imagined trying to push pins into various inner landscape locations, tying strings from one to another, in an effort to map and label the inner continuity connections. Of course she was imagining it in a visual manner, because it was hard to imagine all those connections and strings being invisible and not taking up any space, and before long Ann’s inner map of pins and strings quickly resembled a tangle of overcooked spaghetti, perilously speckled with sharp pointy pins.

                                    The image of the glutinous tangle dotted with sharp shiny pointers led Ann off on another tangent, but it was a tangent that soon became utter nonsense. Or was it, she mused. Perhaps it was those symbolically sharp pointy bits that in fact pointed out the immense variety of potential other continuity threads to choose from. Indeed, it could easily be said that having one of her characters dumped in Siberia in the previous story, painful though it was, was not unlike being pricked by a pin amidst the tangle of sticky pasta, a brilliantly effective pointer towards unlimited new directions.

                                    Whichever way she looked at it (and Ann was aware that she might have gone down a side string) she simply couldn’t comprehend how anyone on this side of the veil could possibly even begin to understand the ramifications of the concept of continuity at all. Or how there could ever conceivably be a lack of it.

                                    What was really intriguing Ann at this particular juncture of the experimental exploration of the story was the concept of the World View Library. This wasn’t unconnected to the continuity issue, far from it, it was all tied in (Ann sniggered at the unintentional pun) and connected. There were any infinite amount of potential continuity threads leading from, say, one persons desire or intent, to a particular world view in the library.

                                    AHA shouted Ann, who at that moment had an ‘aha’ moment. Pfft, it’s gone, she sighed moments later.

                                    Ann tried to catch the wisp of an idea that had flitted through her awareness. She had a visual impression of the library, endlessly vast and marvellously grand, with countless blindfolded characters dashing through, grabbing random pages or sentences, bumping into each other, snatching at phrases willy nilly, dropping notes along the way, and racing back out again into the ether. A stray thought here, a picture there, a name or a date, all on separate bits of crumbled paper clutched in the sweaty palms of the blindfolded characters as they rushed headlong back to their own realities to proudly share the new clues. Like magpies they were, snatching at anything that glittered brightly enough.

                                    :magpie: :magpie: :magpie: :magpie: :magpie: :magpie:

                                    “I thought you said they were blindfolded?” interrupted Franlise.

                                    Ann ignored the interruption, and continued ~ in a continuous fashion ~ to ponder the imagery of the library.

                                    What the undisciplined purloiners of random snatches didn’t notice on their pell-mell excursions into the library were the characters in the library who weren’t wearing blindfolds. They smiled down from the galleries, calmly watching from above the mayhem that the news of the unlimited library access had occasioned, chortling at the scenes of chaos below. They smiled indulgently, for they too had first visited the library blindfolded, snatching at this and that, and racing home again to inspect the booty; they too had fretted and pondered over the enigmas of the incomplete snippets. Eventually (or not, it was after all a choice), they had bravely removed the blindfolds, slowed the mad race into a sedate stroll through the library, opened their eyes and looked around, sure of the way back home now, and not in a desperate hurry to blast in, snatch anything, and run back home.

                                    After awhile, they began to realize that all the enchanting glittering jewels scattered around to catch their eye would still be there later, there was no urgency to grab them all at once ~ although, as Ann reminded herself, that too was a choice ~ some may well choose to be eternally snatching at glittering jewels.

                                    Ann frowned slightly and wondered if she’d lost the thread altogether, and then decided that it didn’t matter if she had.

                                    It was a choice, therefore, to remove ones blindfold, and stroll through the library ~ a choice to perhaps choose a book, sit down at a polished oak table and open it, a choice to stay and read the book, rather than ripping out a page and dashing back home. That would be one choice of continuity, a coming together of strings.

                                    Ann wondered whether that would then be called a cable, or a rope ~ well perhaps not a rope, she decided, that had other associations entirely ~ but a cable, yes, that had associations of reliable and regular communications. There were always strings of continuity, then, strings of connecting links, between anything and everything, but when one stopped dashing about clutching at the sparkley bits, one might form a cable.

                                    Or not, of course. Thin strings of continuity and connections were not ‘less than’ thick cables of reliable and regular communications. It has to be said though, Ann reluctantly admitted, that thick cables often made more sense.

                                    She decided to hit send before embarking on a pondering of the meaning of Sense.


                                      Speaking of toomoorroow, Elizabeth,there is something I have been meaning to say to you for some time now. Godfrey cleared his throat nervously. Somehow with all our deep, and incredibly meaningful philosoophising about life, I clean forgot to mention it.

                                      Clean is hardly the word I would have used whilst anywhere in the vicinity of this ooffice, muttered Finnley, mostly to herself, as she attempted to dislodge a large spooder web from the corner of the ceiling.

                                      Godfrey hesitated. He looked down and with somewhat unusual preoccupation made spiral patterns in the thick layer of dust on the window ledge.

                                      Godfrey, what is it? asked Elizabeth starting to feel some alarm. Oh in the name of Floove, you haven’t found another Felicity have you!

                                      No, nothing like that. The thing is, you see … well …

                                      Spoot it out! You are driving me Madder than Almad! snapped Elizabeth, losing patience, and craving nicobeck. She knew that meddlesome Finnley would take great delight in reporting her to Mr Arak if she smoked in the ooffice.

                                      Godfrey sighed and looked up, directly into Elizabeth’s beautiful violet, albeit rather bloodshot, eyes.

                                      I have been offered a position managing a poonut farm in Noo Zooland. I start immediately. It is a dream come true for me Elizabeth. I had to accept.

                                      No! screamed Elizabeth.

                                      Yes, I am afraid so. Goodbye dear Elizabeth. We both knew I was a rubbish pooblisher. Why don’t you see if that chap Bronkel will come back?

                                      Good riddance I say! said Finnley as Godfrey walked out the door. You two have done nothing but speak noonsense in a hooty tooty accent since that man arrived.


                                        The discussion had been going on for hours. Yann was feeling more relaxed than he had been during the afternoon, he was lying on the sofa, his legs on Yurick’s lap.
                                        It was mostly Yurick who was speaking, Yann was listening and participating in some kind of soft energy exchange :) it was as if his point of view was being reflected by what Yurick was saying and all he needed was punctuate the conversation with ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘Ah’ and ‘mmmm’… well I exaggerate here but most of the time, Yann didn’t feel the need to expand much on any particular subject with words.

                                        Feeling more comfortable and secure, Yann was letting feelings and emotions surface, old memories and associations were swirling around and none of them was particularly appealing for him to mention… except one.

                                        “You know what, Yurick? When I was a kid there was that magician that I was afraid of… Romuald Borax… well he still frightens me.”

                                        Saying that he felt a shiver crawling along his back. Yurick was staring at him, not knowing what to tell and Yann continued.

                                        “He was always trying to demonstrate that people were fake”.

                                        By People, Yann was meaning people involved in paranormal activities such as psychics, channelers, people who pretended to have telekinetic abilities… there was some animal reaction to him, Yann was feeling a deep repulsion and dislike of the man.

                                        “Well, you know, it was also a good thing that he was skeptic…”

                                        Yann wouldn’t listen to what Yurick was saying… that man was really willing to destroy them!!! how could Yurick not see it? These thoughts were like absolutes, thick concrete walls that couldn’t be overridden. Though Yann wouldn’t oppose anything, he was aware that his reaction to the man was triggered by some unclear associations. He couldn’t just evaluate them at the moment.

                                        The day after, Yann didn’t pay attention when Dory mentionned a movie she had been watching called The Illusionist, his attention wasn’t on that aspect then… but another day after, he made the connection.

                                        He realized that he had always been feeling as if he was in danger himself because he wanted to explore these areas. It was as if there was a pending threat upon his life because of his very interests and that if he made them known he would be made fun of and maybe worst, he could be locked up. The realization that Yann wasn’t directly threatened by that individual was enough to let him relax his energy about the man. He could see that he was safe in his exploration and that he had nothing to prove to the world or anybody in particular.

                                        Yann even smiled at the thought that this illusionist wouldn’t realize that he was basing his protocol upon the biggest illusion.


                                          Franiel, dear lad, are you here?”
                                          The voice was sweet yet authoritative.

                                          “Yes, M’am. Is there anything I could do for you?”

                                          Franiel had been at the service of Madame Chesterhope for a few moons, but he felt like it had been his whole life. He quite enjoyed the peaceful life at her mansion, which was interestingly only seldom visited.

                                          He was offered food and shelter for his doing some repair work for Madame Chesterhope when she was requesting it. The rest of his time was free, and he used to go wander in the calm neighbourhoor to observe the nature which was so different from anything he had seen before. It was as though the whole countryside was by eerie mimicry perfectly suited to the strange lady with the foreign accent.

                                          The simple work in communion with this nature had streams of words rise inside him like seeds sprouting after a warm rain. He wasn’t sure he wanted to express them however.
                                          He had tried a few times to tell Lydia, but her merciless laughter alone would have nipped any of his attempts in the bud.

                                          One of his greatest satisfaction was to go to the ‘motorbike’ and try to figure out its functioning. Lydia had laughed at his stubbornness to try to make the old piece of junk work —by her own words, she’d rather delete the whole thing out of reality, if it was for her to decide. Luckily enough, it wasn’t for her to decide, and nobody else really cared for his attempts.

                                          He wasn’t seeing Madame Chesterhope so often, and sometimes she seemed gone for hexades without anyone being able to tell if she was there or not. She simply seemed to have disappeared.
                                          He had been buggered for a while to figure out who the “Others” she had mentioned on their first encounter were, but apparently, had said chatty Lydia who believed the lady to be completely nuts, she was referring to “TEAFERS” (said in a mock-conspiratorial tone). “Teafers?” Franiel had asked puzzled. “Ahaha, you’re so thick sometimes.” had answered Lydia almost chocking herself into gales of laughter “Thieves! She’s obsessed about thieves! I suspect she’s got some precious stuff she would hate to lose. But believe me, to be as obsessed by thieves as she is, she probably hasn’t got all this stuff willingly given to her…”

                                          Anyway, with all that being said about Madame Chesterhope, she remained to Franiel as much a mystery as she was the first day he’d met her.

                                          — “Yes. There is something I’d love you to do, sweetheart. There are people who seem to be coming, and the mansion hasn’t received that many gentlemen for a while, as you can obviously tell. I would love you to assist Lydia in preparing the ball room, and the main hall, do some fixing where it’s needed, that kind of things.”
                                          — “Yes, sure M…”
                                          — “I won’t be there the next days, so be sure to make all things necessary before I come back. I count on you.”
                                          — “Very well M’am.”

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