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  • #6191
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    VanGogh darted toward the cypress fence and when close enough started to bark.

    “Good dog!” said a feminine voice, “You recognised me?” It was Julienne, she was about the same age as Bob and lived in the old vicarage not far from Bob’s house. “I was tending to my raspberry trees and I thought I could bring you some of the offshoots”, she said showing her pink plastic bag. “Hi Clara, I didn’t know you were there,” she added as if she should have.

    Clara looked at Bob. Not a word, he said with his lips.

    #6183
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Nora commented favourably on the view, relieved to have been given a clue about what she was supposed to have noticed.  It was a splendid panorama, and Will seemed pleased with her response.  She asked if it was possible to see the old smugglers path from their vantage point, and he pointed to a dirt road in the valley below that disappeared from view behind a stand of eucalyptus trees.  Will indicated a tiny white speck of an old farm ruin, and said the smugglers path went over the hill behind it.

    Shading her eyes from the sun, Nora peered into the distance beyond the hill, wondering how far it was to Clara’s grandfathers house. Of course she knew it was 25 kilometers or so, but wasn’t sure how many hills behind that one, or if the path veered off at some point in another direction.

    Wondering where Clara was reminded Nora that her friend would be waiting for her, and quite possibly worrying that she hadn’t yet arrived.  She sighed, making her mind up to leave first thing the next morning.  She didn’t mention this to Will though, and wondered briefly why she hesitated.  Something about the violent sweep of his arm when she asked about her phone had made her uneasy, such a contrast to his usual easy going grins.

    Then she reminded herself that she had only just met him, and barely knew anything about him at all, despite all the stories they’d shared.  When she thought about it, none of the stories had given her any information ~ they had mostly been anecdotes that had a similarity to her own, and although pleasant, were inconsequential.  And she kept forgetting to ask him about all the statues at his place.

    Wishing she could at least send a text message to Clara, Nora remembered the remote viewing practice they’d done together over the years, and realized she could at least attempt a telepathic communication. Then later, if Clara gave her a hard time about not staying in contact, she could always act surprised and say, Why, didn’t you get the message?

    She found a flat stone to sit on, and focused on the smugglers path below. Then she closed her eyes and said clearly in her mind, “I’ll be there tomorrow evening, Clara. All is well. I am safe.”

    She opened her eyes and saw that Will had started to head back down the path.  “Come on!” he called, “Time for lunch!”

    #6177
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Grandpa, I can’t get hold of Nora. I keep getting her answer phone.” Clara flicked back through her texts. “Last time she messaged me was to ask if I knew anyone in the Village she could stay with. And I never got back with the details like I was supposed to … I got distracted by Van Gogh going missing and everything … ” She screwed up her face. “Also I couldn’t recall the man’s name.”

    “I’m sure she’ll be fine,” said Bob soothingly, reaching out to pat Clara’s hand.  “She always were a bit unreliable that one, weren’t she?”

    Clara looked like she was about to burst into tears. “Grandpa, I’m such an idiot! What if something bad has happened to her?

    #6174
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Clara breathed a sigh of relief when she saw VanGogh running towards her; in the moonlight he looked like a pale ghost.

    “Where’ve you been eh?” she asked as he nuzzled her excitedly. She crouched down to pat him. “And what’s this?” A piece of paper folded into quarters had been tucked into VanGogh’s collar. Clara stood upright and looked uneasily around the garden; a small wind made the leaves rustle and the deep shadows stirred. Clara shivered.

    “Clara?” called Bob from the door.

    “It’s okay Grandpa, I found him. We’re coming in now.”

    In the warm light of the kitchen, Clara showed Bob the piece of paper. “It’s a map, but I don’t know those place names.”

    “And it was stuffed into his collar you say?” Bob frowned. “That’s very strange indeed. Who’d of done that?”

    Clara shook her head. “It wasn’t Mr Willets because I saw him drive off. But why didn’t VanGogh bark? He always barks when someone comes on the property.”

    “You really should tell her about the note,” said Jane. She was perched on the kitchen bench. VanGogh pricked his ears up and wagged his tail as he looked towards her. Bob couldn’t figure out if the dog could see Jane or just somehow sensed her there. He nodded.

    “What?” asked Clara.

    “There’s something I should tell you, Clara. It’s about that box you found.”

    #6167
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Box?” said Bob placing a hand on his chest. “Not the … ”

    “Not box, Grandpa. Crops.” Clara spoke loudly. Poor old Grandpa must be going a bit deaf as well—he’d gone downhill since Grandma died. “His dogs got into your garden and dug up the crops. He says he’ll come by in the morning and fix up the damage. ”

    “No, need to shout, Clara. I swear you said box. I thought you meant the box in the garage.”

    “Oh, no that would be awful!” Clara shuddered at the thought of anything happening to her precious treasure. “Maybe we should bring the box inside, Grandpa? Make sure it’s safe.”

    Bob sighed. Last thing he wanted was the damn box inside the house. But Clara had that look on her face, the one that means she’s made up her mind. He glanced around, wondering where they could put it so it was out of the way.

    “Hey!” exclaimed Clara. “Where’s VanGogh gone? Did he sneak outside when Mr Willets came.” She went to the door and peered out into the darkness. “VanGogh! Here, Boy!” she shouted. “VanGogh!”

    #6164
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    VanGogh was sniffing frantically on the patio outside the house, a usual indication that he’d found the perfect spot for a healthy stool, but this time, as soon as Clara had looked the other way to take care of the sautéed mushrooms on the stove, he darted for the shed where the odd big toy had been unearthed and stored out of sight.

    His tail wagged frantically as he pushed the door open, and slid underneath the tarpaulin behind the sleeping lawn-eater.

    He started to scratch the box, the way he usually tried to open the puzzle ball Clara would fill with some kibble. It didn’t roll like the ball-that-dispensed-kibble. In frustration, VanGogh started to push his paws on the sleek smooth surface, near the curious indentations.

    Something clicked open.

    “VanGogh! Where are you boy?! Come!”

    Suddenly distracted from this puzzling quest, he rushed to the kitchen for dinner.

    #6152
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    By now, the trench had been dug deeply around the mysterious artefact. It was surprisingly not rusty at all, and the box was large and oddly pear-shaped. There was no obvious lid nor hinge. Nothing that seemed ancient per say, and yet, given the depth of the dig, it was probably coming from a past long gone.

    Clara had posted some pics to Alienor, her friend and amateur archeologist, and she’d been immediately intrigued (an slightly jealous at the find). There were still strict restriction in place, so she couldn’t come immediately, but you could hear from the tone of her voice messages, she was dying to become an outlaw to see the wonder in situ.

    “Come on Clare, it’s going to be dark soon, we should go home or you’ll catch a cold.”

    “Alright Granpa, but help me first get that out in the garage, we can’t let it outside unprotected.”

    VanGogh barked approvedly.

    #6151
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Grandpa Bob loved the sound of the kettle whistling. Cheery, he thought as he turned the flame off. Companionable.
    He shuffled to the kitchen door. “Clara, cuppa?” he shouted down the hallway but there was no reply. Maybe she wasn’t up yet—it had been a long trip for her yesterday. Perhaps he could make her up a tray, although she’d probably say he was fussing.
    Just then he heard VanGogh barking from the garden. He drew back the curtain and peered out the kitchen window. There she was! Way down the back digging in the vegetable garden. Bless her soul. Must have got started early on that weeding. She was saying she would last night. Grandpa, you really need to get some help around the place! she’d scolded.
    “Clara, love!” he shouted. Damn dog was making such a racket she didn’t hear him. Nothing for it but to go out there. He chuckled, thinking how she’d probably scold him again for wandering around outside in his pyjamas. Bossy little thing she could be. But a good girl coming all this way to visit him.
    He slipped on his outdoor shoes and slowly made his way down the path to the vegetable garden. VanGogh bounded over to him and Grandpa Bob gave him a pat. “What are you two up to out here, eh VanGogh?” But Clara was so engrossed on her phone she didn’t even glance up. He was about to call out to her again when he saw what she’d dug up and the words stuck in his throat. He let out a small cry.

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    This year, Christmas has come a month early for Clara.

    VanGogh, her Malinois with the lopsided ear had dug a hole in the garden of Grandpa’s home in the countryside. She usually wouldn’t have given it second thought, but the hole was big this time, and the dog unusually excited. Looking at it, that’s when she noticed the shiny corner of what seemed to be a very large metal box.

    There was something buried there, apparently since a long time. Her archaeologist senses were all tingly. What, why, how, and how far back in time could she go… She couldn’t wait to tell the others.

    #6087

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “I knew it!” Tara had gone to investigate early, disguised as an elderly jogger in a velvet teal jogging. “Seemed clear enough that that retirement home was a front…”

    Later when she came back to the office, she was quizzed by Star, who was still yawning despite the bright sunlight.

    “So tell me, a front for what?”

    “Can’t you guess?” Tara said, removing her false teeth.

    “Nooo?” her hand flew at Star’s mouth and incredulous face.

    “Yes, hmm-hmm; you guessed right: a time travel agency.”

    “Oh dangit, they stole my idea! After all the virus pandemic thing, they sure know how to surf the crisis to make a buck. The buying carrots alibi traffic, and now that!”

    “Yep, guess that people unable to go anywhere for holidays make up for a good clientele. You can imagine the slogans: Celerity: Why go anywhere? When we can send you anywhen! “

    “And a convenient way of disposing of nosy people too. I hope they didn’t send Uncle Basil to the Dinosaurs, can’t imagine the stench of those Time sewers.”

    “Oh no, don’t think he was affluent enough, you see. Apparently you pay by the time meter. The further in time, the pricier. And I guess the surest way to dispose of someone would be in the past rather than in the future…”

    “So Uncle Basil is in the past!”

    “Exactly.”

    “Well, I could have told you that from the start. No wonder Mr French paid us in advance then, he already knew we’d crack that case. Our first case’s closed, dear! If Mr French ever wakes up and calls, we’ll just redirect him to our Time Dragglers friends in Marseille for their ‘relative lost in time’ retrieval package. Now, anyone for mojitos?”

    #6066

    In reply to: The Pistil Maze

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “It’s funny,” he said, squinting his eyes. “Looks like the maze kind of fades out.”

    “Oh yeah, that happens all the time. People lose interest you see, then it all but vanishes from their experience. Quaint, I know.”

    Kahurangi, nicknamed Kahu, was trying hard to get interested, see if the structure would come back into focus. But there were more fun things around. He asked again to the guy who was selling pop corn at the entrance.

    “T’is normal that people wander around with… well, pets? Look at this guy, with a piglet on a leash. It’s cute, don’t get me wrong, and probably more useful when you’re looking for truffles…”

    “Pretty normal. Seems animal have a sense around this thing, or so it’s believed. Many will bring one and try again. Look, I buried my snake not long ago, it was getting tired I think. Not sure they make the best animals to cover ground there.” He continued “Are you buying me something or what?”

    “Oh sure, give me that, and a bottle of water.”

    He handed a crumpled bill of 5 and thanked.

    “A word of unsollicited advice?”

    Kahu noded “Sure.”

    “See those piles of rocks over there, along the way?”

    “Looks like inukshuks, are they? Strange place to find them though.”

    “Yeah, you’ll tend to see more as you get along. People started to build them to pinpoint places they’d been, but over time, they became encampments, and people lost the will to move on.”

    “So what?”

    “Don’t stay too long around them.”

    Kahu shrugged and moved along. The maze was starting to get in focus again, there was not a minute to spare.

    #6024

    In reply to: Story Bored

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Story Bored 8

    one

    Liz was waxing hysterical to her publisher. “I tell you, Bronkel, you complain of the loose threads wandering into nothingness, the deranged and meaningless story lines … turns out it isn’t a personality flaw; it’s those lonely vacations in the desert where I was forced to be the boy my mother always wanted.” 

    two

    (plagiarised)

    “Oh that’s a fantastic idea Becky!” encouraged Tina (anxious to divert attention from the fact her egg shampoo had turned her own hair green) when Becky suggested tentatively that perhaps she could try Al’s advanced visualisation techniques to turn this disastrous start to her wedding day around.

    “Yes, imagine it as you would like it to be, no matter how unrealistic it may seem. Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing your skin glowing like a glowing diamond. After all, you have nothing to lose Becky-pooh.”

    three

    Tifikijoo Island has been a casualty of rising sea levels. The question is, who is seeking to repopulate the island with giant spiders?

    #5995
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Fanella was frantic, trying to think of a way to escape with her baby.  The atmosphere in this city was unbearable at the best of times, and especially in this house, but now it was excruciating. It wasn’t that she was afraid of the plague that was terrorizing people, it was the way the people were reacting that was so alarming.  They were howling like wolves, a sure sign of lunacy since time immemorial. The sound of it made her blood run cold.

    Nobody had seen the president for over a week and rumours were rife. Many said that he’d died, and they were keeping it secret to avoid civil unrest.  An office junior was continuing his tweets to the nation, using a random predictive text algorithm. Nobody had noticed. That wasn’t strictly true of course as many had commented that the messages now made marginally more sense.

    Fanella could sense the swelling chaos in the air, both inside the house and beyond, in the city and in the nation. Everyone was losing their minds. She had to escape.

    She consulted the U Chong:

     (Chin / Jin) : Progress / Advance. It represents Prospering, as well as Progress. It is symbolic of meeting the great man.

    The great man! Of course! Lazuli Galore would come to rescue her! But how would he know where to find her? Would he be able to travel freely? He’d find a way, surely! But how would he know she needed help? It was so complicated. So hard to know what to do!

    But first things first. Fanella crept down to the kitchen, in the dead  of the night while everyone was tucked up in their beds with their fitful nightmares, and filled a rucksack with provisions. Then she crept up the back stairs to her hideout in the attic of the west wing.  The baby was still sleeping soundly. Fanella lay down and pulled a blanket round them both. Maybe the answer would come in a dream. If not, she’d think about it again tomorrow.

    #5957
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Nobody came at all yesterday, not to get my breakfast and leave my sandwiches for lunch and a tea flask, and the evening one didn’t come either. I didn’t have a cup of tea all day long, good job I found that bottle of sherry in the cabinet or I’d have been parched.  I found a half eaten tin of assorted biscuits left over from Christmas, and had to make do with those. Not very nice because they were all the ones I don’t like, which was why I’d left them in the first place. I wasn’t too hungry to sleep though, not after all that sherry.

    A woman came this morning, one I hadn’t seen before.  I didn’t recognize her anyway, which doesn’t tell you much I suppose.  She seemed distracted, and did a very shoddy job, I must say, lumpy porridge, burnt toast with no jam, and she forgot to put sugar in my tea as well.

    You just can’t get the staff these days.  No character to them anymore, just a series of faceless drones, it never used to be like that. The staff didn’t used to come and go and flit about like these lot, they were always there, as long as you could remember, part of the household.   It all changed during the war though, the horrors of servantlessness. That was a rude awakening, having to do our own cooking and laundry. I’d have given anything to see even that feckless lazy Annie Finton, even if all she did was the ironing.  The old boy turned out to have a knack for cooking and quite enjoyed it, so that was a blessing. Darned if I can remember his name though.  Truth be told, he was better than cook had ever been. He wasn’t afraid to experiment a little, diverge from the traditional.  I think the trouble with cook was that she hated cooking all along.  She never came back after the war, she got a job in a factory. Liked the freedom, she said. I ask you! No accounting for taste.

    #5808
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Truth be told, April was missing the US. She missed all their little coterie of maids living in the shadows of the powerful. Missed the drama most of all.

    She’d been secretly texting Norma and May, while June was lazily sipping mojitos with Jacqui.
    Norma was fine, but May and the other alien staff had suddenly disappeared when the Secret Services had started to investigate more deeply into the staff’s backgrounds after all the kidnapping fiasco. At least, August had been covering for Norma, such kind soul he was. Besides, the President’s wife could no longer live without her butter chicken. But May and the others couldn’t face the music apparently. Funnily, they couldn’t find “real” American maids nowadays suited to replace them. Good luck with that!

    April couldn’t tell June, obviously, since her friend harboured such hatred for the system that had them put in jail. As for herself, she couldn’t argue with the fact they’d deserved it. Nothing a good lawyer couldn’t fix though. That’s why she loved the idea of America. Guilty as charged, indeed. Those charges now vanished.

    She’d thought first that it would fuel her inspiration nicely, but it was the opposite. The sudden extra time had distracted her entirely, and her inspiration seemed inaccessible.

    She was starting to make up her mind. She would go back, to her family in Arkansas. That could only be temporary of course, as her mother, bless her soul, would start to have her meet all the gents in the neighbourhood in the hopes to finally get her only daughter married. Talk about drama. If that doesn’t kick-start her inspiration engine, nothing would.

    Problem was, with the virus around spreading mass panic, there seemed to be no sure way to fly back. She would have to devise some circuitous plan.

    #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?”

    #5751
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Why are you looking guilty?”  It was impossible for Godfrey to hide anything from Liz. She noticed at once the nervous tic in his left eye, and the way he was shuffling his feet around.  He was clearly rattled about something.

    “I’ve g g g ot a confession to m m make,” he stuttered. Liz had never heard Godfrey stutter before, and it was unheard of for him to make confessions.  Something was troubling her old friend greatly, and she was concerned.

    Liz sighed.  If only Finnley were here.  God knows where she was, gallivanting around and leaving Liz to deal with a demented Godfrey on her own, when she had so much writing to do.

    Moving the bowl of peanuts out of Godfrey’s reach, in case he choked on them in his stuttering condition, Liz gently suggested that he spill the beans and tell her all about it.

    “I put two of your characters in jail.”

    Liz gasped and her hand flew to her mouth.

    “And now,” Godfrey’s voice caught on a little sob,  “And now, I have to pay the bail money to get them out.”

    “Why not just get Mr August to talk Mellie Noma into paying it? She got the kid back ~ mysteriously, I must say, quite a gap in the tale there..”

    “Well it’s your book, so it’s your gap,” Godfrey retorted, reverting back to his old self.

    “Then what were you doing in it, putting my characters in jail?” Liz snapped back. “Go and get that bail paid so they can go to Australia. Otherwise you’re going to muck up another book.”

    #5742
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The clay mixture was giving off a golden hue. Everyone had gathered to look at the miracle happen, especially the two kids and their Snootish pets.

    “I think there’s a word in the old language for what we are,” mentioned Glynis feeling that pregnant silence was too dangerously promising of unsilent babies. She was looking fondly at the odd looking family. “Tūrangawaewae. They are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home.”

    Eleri whistled a tentative “whoohoo to that!” but she was starting to get inebriated with the fermented goat milk, and was wondering what it was all about.

    “We’re reviving Gorrash!” the kids Tak and Nesy were chanting, like a sort of strange memory spell for her.

    “I got news from Mr Minn,” Glynis said “Margoritt is going to be back for a few days. She said she wanted to write a novel about weaving clay and had to gather some proper material.”

    “Good for her,” said Eleri “although I wished you’d kept some of that magical clay for me, had experiments to make on that. Could help in the great fires recovery process down under.”

    “As a matter of fact, there was some left that I kept for you.” said Glynis. “I’ll give it to you later, but for now, just shush, and let the process unravel, or we’ll never catch up.”

    Indeed, the protective golden carapace around Gorrash embued with rebuilding powers was finally starting to crack as the last ray of light of the day were vanishing behind the horizon.

    #5673
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The few cars on the dark road were flying past him at speed, sometimes honking in alarm when abruptly realizing he was there at an inch of being run over. But none had stopped so far. Might have been they couldn’t see his little thumb up.

    “Hitch-hiking my way back isn’t doing so well for me.” reflected Barron after a while. Oh, you may wonder how he escaped from his captors. Simple answer was he got bored waiting and he saw an opportunity.

    In reality, it was an elaborate plan, and the screeching sound of a nearby car had provided the right amount of distraction for him to make a run for it. Well, not run really, more like a patient and careful tumbling around. The sound had been alarming enough for most of the forces present to run for the potential intruders without caring to leave someone to watch over the innocent sleeping baby (that was him, but he wasn’t really sleeping).

    Anyway, he hadn’t made it very far outside the clandestine distillery at the back of the Motel, and was about to abandon all hope and phone his half-sister Yvanevskaia for help, when an old DRAPES CLEANING van suddenly braked to a screeching halt just in front of him.

    “Why d’ya stop Art’! They’re still after us, those maniacs!”

    “A baby honey! I almost ran over the baby!”

    “That’s a big ass baby, it’s almost a kid, and what is it doin’ hitch-hickin’ in the dead of night?”

    “I dunno my sweet cotton-candy luv,… maybe he got bored or sumthin’…”

    “So what are you waiting for? Just damn’ take it, and let’s pump gas and put some distance between us and these gangsters!”

    Barron was all too pleased to oblige, and as a matter of fact, had already managed to sit in the back with the funny looking lady with the long face.

    “Go!” he cooed at Arthur, who pushed the engine back into a roar.

    #5671
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    With her pink glove on and her lips apart, Liz passed her finger on the bookshelf. Making the most of the opportunity of Finnley’s excursion outside, Liz had pretexted she wanted to show Roberto how to check for dust. In truth, but she would never confess to it, except to Godfrey after a few drink and some cashew nuts later that day, in truth she had bought a new pink uniform for the gardener/handyman and wanted to see how it fitted him. Of course, she had ordered a few sizes under, so Roberto’s muscles bulged quite nicely under the fabric of the short sleeves, stretching the seam in a dangerously exciting way.

    “What’s this book?” asked Roberto.

    “What?” asked Liz who had been lost in one of the worst case scenario. Why would Roberto talk about something as undersexying as a book? Nonetheless, without wanting to, her eyes followed the gardener’s sexy arm down to his sexy finger pointing at the book spine and her brain froze on the title: “An Aesthetic of the Night Mare“, by Vanina Vain.

    “What’s this book doing among my personal work?” she asked, all sexying forgotten.

    “Don’t you remember?” asked Godfrey who happened to pass behind her. “Years ago when you still read your fanmail you answered one from a young girl wanting to follow in your footsteps. You sent her a handwritten copy of Rilke’s letter to a young poet. I wrote it myself and Finnley signed it for you. She’s so good at imitating your signature. Well anyway a few years later that girl finally published her first book and sent you a copy to thank you.”

    “Have I read it?” Liz asked.

    “You might have. But I’m not sure. It’s quite Gothic. The girl takes advantage of her sleep paralysis at night to do some crazy experiences.”

    Liz had no recollection whatsoever of it, but that was not the point.

    “Tsk. What’s it doing among my personal work bookshelves? Don’t we have somewhere else to put that kind of…”

    “The trash you mean?” asked Finnley.

    “Oh! You’re back”, said Liz.

    “Tsk, tsk. Such disappointment in your voice. But I’m never far away, and luckily for some”, she added with a look at Roberto who was trying to stretch the sleeve without breaking the seam.

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