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  • in reply to: The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler #7258

      Finnley sniggered. “You said derriere.” 

      “Oh do grow up, Finnley,” Liz managed to mumble.

      in reply to: The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler #7252

        Finnley, who was behind the sofa for reasons unknown, stood up and screamed at the top of her lungs. The scream was so unexpected and of such force that Godfrey dropped the novel he was holding and Liz came running from across the hall. What she had been doing across the hall all that time, god only knows, but she certainly wasn’t writing, said Godfrey later when recounting the story to Roberto.

        “Mr Dugrat has gone,” announced Finnley when she was sure she had their attention. “Gone,” she repeated.

        “Rat? I didn’t know you had a rat. Gone where?” asked Liz nervously.

        Finnley gave her a withering glance. “Therefore I did not get to the convention because I have been searching hither and thither for him.”

        in reply to: The Chronicles of the Flying Fish Inn #7241

          Finley turned off the vacuum cleaner and cleared her throat loudly. “Mater, I need time off. Next week.”

          Mater paled. “Oh Finley, surely not now. With all the guests at the moment … and we are still cleaning up from the dust … ” her voice trailed off.

          “Selfish cow,” muttered Idle. She was reclining on the sofa with a magazine and a drink. Taking a well earned rest, she had snapped when Mater asked when she was going to pull her weight.  She slapped her magazine down on the coffee table. “I suppose I will have to do everything!”

          With just the merest hint of an eye roll, Finley continued. “My cousin Finnley who works for the writer told me about a convention. I’m quite excited.” Mater and Idle regarded her intently, wondering what an excited Finley would look like. I didn’t notice anything much, Mater confessed to Idle later in a rare moment of camaraderie.

          “So?” snapped Idle. “What is it then?”

          Finley turned on the vacuum cleaner. “Dustsceawaung convention. In Tasmania,” she shouted over  the whirr.

          in reply to: The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler #7240

            “I am having time off,” announced Finnley.

            Liz looked up from her writing and frowned. It was annoying the way Finnley barged into her office without the courtesy of a knock. “You’ll need to fill in a form. At which point I will consider your request.” She returned her gaze to her writing, or lack thereof as the page was depressingly blank. She knew she sounded brusque but for goodness sakes, that Finnley was just a tad too big for her boots!

            “Next week.”

            “Oh well really that isn’t …”

            Finnley fell to her knees, lowered her head and took a deep sniff of the carpet. Liz, thinking that due respect was being paid, was appeased.

            Finnley raised her head and gave, what looked like to Liz anyway, a superior smirk. “Have you ever truly contemplated dust, Liz? Well I am going to contemplate dust with others of a like mind.” She stood up and put her hands on her hips. “I have one word for you, Liz.” She paused dramatically. “Dustsceawung.”

            in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #7213

            A loud knock made them jump. Youssef tensed.

            “Quick! Under the bed!” hissed Zara. Before he could move, the door flung open. It was Finly and she looked irritated.

            “I’ve come to service the room,” she said.

            “It’s so early!” said Yasmin. She smiled in what she hoped was a friendly manner. “It’s fine … really!”

            Finly’s nose twitched as she cast her eyes around the room. “I’ve got a ton of work today and I prefer to clean when the room is vacated … ”

            Yasmin thought of the package under her bed and wondered if she dared retrieve it. The cleaning lady scared her. She always seemed to be lurking somewhere nearby  … dusting and watching. She reminded Yasmin a little of Sister Finli, or Liani, as apparently she preferred to call herself now … maybe not so much in appearance but certainly in her surly manner. What a mad coincidence it was that there should be two of them! Apparently Finly was from New Zealand and Yasmin wondered what the enigmatic cleaning lady’s story was — a hidden talent for poetry? A tragic love affair that had left her heartbroken?  Yasmin daren’t ask.

            “Well if you could just give me a minute so I can get up …  ”

            “Sure,” said Finly, thumping her cleaning bucket on the ground and folding her arms. “I can wait.”

            “Come on, Guys!” said Zara leaping up from the bed. “Lets go wake up Xavier. Maybe we could play the game to fill in some time before the race. It’s such a shit day out there.”

            in reply to: The Chronicles of the Flying Fish Inn #7165

              Mater having a moan:

              It’s a funny old world.

              At my age, you’d think I’d be able to put my feet up and watch the world go by for a bit, wouldn’t you? God knows, don’t I deserve it? Truth is, I’m still holding things together here. With a bit of practical help from Finly of course, who we all agree is a trouper even if she is a Kiwi.

              Sometimes, it occurs to me I should just let go and see where the dice lands … what will be will be …  que sera sera … that sort of thing. Place will fall apart if I do though.

              The kids don’t really care. And why would they at their age? Idle’s all talk about how she does this and that but the evidence is sadly lacking … she’s making a fool of herself with one of the new fellas, all goggle-eyed and tarting herself up more than ever. It’s embarrassing but I’m done telling her.

              Since we got on that bnb site the bookings have tripled. Idle says I’ve got to be pleasant to people or we’ll get a bad review. Did my head in being pleasant to that toffee-nose one who won’t take her sunglasses off. That’s just plain bad manners! Another thing, she calls herself Liana but it sure takes her a while to answer to the name. Finly says she’s noticed the same. We’re keeping a close eye on that one.

              And now sounds like the cart race in a dust storm is going ahead. I tell you right now, Finly is not going to be pleased about that.

              in reply to: The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler #6793

                Finnley had promised Liz she would polish at least one window this afternoon, and, if nothing else, she was a person of her word. It’s a gesture of goodwill, as it were, she thought smugly.

                “Window polished,” she said after a few minutes of haphazardly flinging a cloth at the glass. She stood back to admire her handiwork and accidentally stepped on Godfrey who was buried under piles of pages and muttering something about Liz’s genius.

                “That’s one word for it I suppose,” she hissed at him. “Another word is DRUGS. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go to my room and  think.” She aimed a particularly vigorous eye roll in Godfrey’s direction. “Wherever I am, I am one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars you see.”

                “You don’t have time to think!” screamed Liz,  jumping up from behind the  sofa where she had been privately relishing Godfrey’s musings about her genius.

                in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #6558

                “Nice BMW,” said Yasmin. She pointed towards a shiny black car parked in front of the supermarket. “My Uncle has that model.”

                “Pretty flash,” agreed Sergio. He sniffed and scratched his nose vigorously. Yasmin was amused to notice Zara frown, ever-so-slightly.  Sergio squinted towards the BMW. “Looks like it’s a rental too. Beats this bloody Toyota any day.”

                “Do either of you want to get anything while we are here?” asked Zara brightly. “I’ve got a little stash of snacks back at the Inn …”

                “No I’m good, but I do need to use the loo,” said Yasmin. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she surveyed her surroundings. There’s that garage over the road but it looks a bit dodgy. Wish I’d gone back at the airport now.”

                Zara nodded. “Okay I’ll just get the wine then! See you in a few minutes”

                “The toilet is around the back, but it’s in use,” said a friendly man behind the counter. Yasmin wondered how long before she got used to the distinctive nasally twang of the Aussie accent. She thought briefly of Fred and the mysterious brown parcel in her bag. She thanked the man and perused the shelves while she waited. As she was struggling to choose between a bar of chocolate or a bag of cashew nuts, neither of which she wanted but she felt obligated to buy something, a well-dressed woman stormed in and flung the toilet key at the counter where it bounced and skidded to a stop next to a box of chewing gum. “Disgusting,” Yasmin heard her say before she pivoted on her Gucci-emblazoned trainers and flounced out the door.

                “Looks like the toilet’s free,” said the man with a grin.

                in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #6549

                “Have you been drinking?” blurted out Yasmin. Immediately she regretted her careless question. Zara had  never  been one to worry overly about appearances and Yasmin, who worried overly about everything, admired her carefree attitude. But she’d been a little taken aback by her friend’s unkempt hair and the smell of stale alcohol on her breath.  “Sorry,” she mumbled. “I was just joking …obviously.”

                “What? You’ve just arrived and already you’re insulting me! Sheesh!”

                “Oh well, no doubt I’ll turn into a lush too after a few days in the outback!” Yasmin snort laughed nervously, hoping to smooth things over. “You look well! And I really appreciate you picking me up.”

                It seemed to do the trick as Zara relaxed and smiled.  “You should. I’ve gone out of my way.” She gestured to Yasmin’s bag. “Have you just got the one? Shall we get going? I’ve got so much to tell you.”

                in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #6521

                The package in her hands was from Fred and, now she was at the airport, Yasmin was seriously contemplating whether to chuck it in the nearest bin. She hadn’t wanted to take the damn thing in the first place. It was hard to say no to Sister Aliti.

                Fred asked could you please take it to the Fish Inn, or something like that.” Sister Aliti had beamed at her. She was holding out a thin parcel wrapped in brown paper and securely fastened with a whole lot of masking tape.

                “But how did he know I was going there?” Yasmin had sounded more sharp than she’d intended but she hadn’t really warmed to Fred. He made her nervous.

                “You didn’t tell him?” Sister Aliti shrugged. “I didn’t tell him. Perhaps it was Sister Finli … She took the van with him yesterday.” She’d looked intently at Yasmin. “Oh dear, was it private?”

                Yasmin felt foolish. “Oh, no, of course it wasn’t and it doesn’t matter ….  I was just surprised.” She’d peered at the red biro scrawled on the paper wrapping. “I wonder who is … Mater?”

                “He said it was a distant relation! Isn’t it just so wonderful he can reconnect through you! God works in mysterious ways indeed!”

                Of course it had been Sister Finli who had told Fred. Prying busybody. Yasmin had caught her in her room a couple of days ago. Sister Finli had her back to the door and was bent over Yasmin’s desk.  She’d jumped and swung round at Yasmin’s, “Hello?”

                “It’s a pig sty in here,” she’d hissed, jabbing a sharp finger towards Yasmin. Then her mouth curled into a smile. “I just came in to tell you you are needed in the recreation room to look after the children but was distracted by this …” She’d slid her eyes around the room and shuddered. Yasmin followed her gaze. She’d left a few items of clothing in neat piles on the bed because she was packing but everything else looked in order. After Sister Finli had flounced out of the room, Yasmin noticed her itinerary was lying open on the desk.

                But why tell Fred?

                She’d messaged Zara. Do you think I should I open the package? And couldn’t he just post it? 

                LOL, Zara messaged back. Yes open it! It’s drugs. Obv. Oh and more to the point, you are way behind the rest of us in the game. So use your flight time wisely! 

                in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #6476

                Yasmin was having a hard time with the heavy rains and mosquitoes in the real-world. She couldn’t seem to make a lot of progress on finding the snorting imp. She was feeling discouraged and unsure of what to do next.

                Suddenly, an emoji of a snake appeared on her screen. It seemed to be slithering and wriggling, as if it was trying to grab her attention. Without hesitation, Yasmin clicked on the emoji.

                She was taken to a new area in the game, where the ground was covered in tall grass and the sky was dark and stormy. She could see the snorting imp in the distance, but it was surrounded by a group of dangerous-looking snakes.

                Clue unlocked It sounds like you’re having a hard time in the real world, but don’t let that discourage you in the game. The snorting imp is nearby and it seems like the snakes are guarding it. You’ll have to be brave and quick to catch it. Remember, the snorting imp represents your determination and bravery in real life.

                Rude!  thought Yasmin. Telling me I’m having a hard time!  And I’m supposed to be the brains of the group! Suddenly the screen went blank. “Oh blimmin dodgy internet!” she moaned.


                “Road’s closed with the flooding,” said a man from the kitchen door. Yasmin didn’t know him; he had a tinge of an accent and took up a lot of space in the doorway. “They reckon it should be clear by tomorrow though.”

                Fred!” Sister Aliti looked up from chopping yam and beamed. She pointed her knife at Yasmin who was washing the breakfast dishes. “Have you met Yasmin? One of our new volunteers. Such a good girl.” The knife circled towards the door. “Yasmin this is FredFred drives the van for us when we are too busy to do it ourselves. So very kind.” She smiled fondly at the man.

                Fred nodded and, taking a step into the kitchen, he stuck a hand towards Yasmin. She quickly wiped her damp hands on her skirt before taking it. Fred’s hand was brown and weathered like his face and he gripped her fingers firmly.

                “Nice to meet you Yasmin. So where are you from?”

                “Oh, um, I’ve been living in London most recently but originally from Manchester.” Yasmin noticed he had a snake tattoo curling up his inner  bicep, over his shoulder and disappearing under his black singlet. “Is your accent Australian?”

                A flicker of a frown crossed Fred’s face and Yasmin felt anxious. “Sorry,” she mumbled, although she wasn’t sure what for. “It’s just I’m visiting soon …”

                “Yeah, originally. But I’ve not been back home for while.” His eyes drifted to the kitchen window and stayed there. For a moment, they all watched the rain pelt against the glass.

                Sister Aliti broke the silence. “Fred’s a writer,” she said sounding like a proud mother.

                “Oh, that’s so cool! What do you write?” Yasmin immediately worried she’d been too nosy again. “I’ve always wanted to write!” she added brightly which wasn’t true, she’d never given it much thought. Realising this, and to her horror, she snort laughed.

                Fred dragged his eyes back from the window and looked at her with amusement. “Yeah? Well you should go for it!” He turned to Sister Aliti. “Internet’s down again too with this weather,” He dug into the pocket of his shorts and dangled some keys in the air. “I’ll leave the van keys with you but I’ll be back tomorrow, if the rain’s stopped.” The keys clanked onto the bench.

                “He’s such a chatterbox,” murmured Sister Aliti after Fred had gone and Yasmin laughed.

                “Shall I put these in the office?” Yasmin gestured to the set of keys then gasped as she saw that on the keychain was a devilish looking imp grinning up at her.

                in reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys #6454

                  YASMIN’S QUIRK: Entry level quirk – snort laughing when socially anxious


                  The initial setting for this quest is a comedic theater in the heart of a bustling city. You will start off by exploring the different performances and shows, trying to find the source of the snort laughter that seems to be haunting your thoughts. As you delve deeper into the theater, you will discover that the snort laughter is coming from a mischievous imp who has taken residence within the theater.

                  Directions to Investigate

                  Possible directions to investigate include talking to the theater staff and performers to gather information, searching backstage for clues, and perhaps even sneaking into the imp’s hiding spot to catch a glimpse of it in action.


                  Possible characters to engage include the theater manager, who may have information about the imp’s history and habits, and a group of comedic performers who may have some insight into the imp’s behavior.


                  Your task is to find a key or tile that represents the imp, and take a picture of it in real life as proof of completion of the quest. Good luck on your journey to uncover the source of the snort laughter!



                  1st thread’s answer:

                  As the family struggles to rebuild the inn and their lives in the wake of the Great Fires, they begin to uncover clues that lead them to believe that the mines hold the key to unlocking a great mystery. They soon discover that the mines were not just a source of gold and other precious minerals, but also a portal to another dimension. The family realizes that Mater had always known about this portal, and had kept it a secret for fear of the dangers it posed.

                  The family starts to investigate the mines more closely and they come across a hidden room off Room 8. Inside the room, they find a strange device that looks like a portal, and a set of mysterious symbols etched into the walls. The family realizes that this is the secret room that Mater had always spoken about in hushed tones.

                  The family enlists the help of four gamers, Xavier, Zara, Yasmin, and Youssef, to help them decipher the symbols and unlock the portal. Together, they begin to unravel the mystery of the mines, and the portal leads them on an epic journey through a strange and fantastical alternate dimension.

                  As they journey deeper into the mines, the family discovers that the portal was created by an ancient civilization, long thought to be lost to history. The civilization had been working on a powerful energy source that could have changed the fate of humanity, but the project was abandoned due to the dangers it posed. The family soon discovers that the civilization had been destroyed by a powerful and malevolent force, and that the portal was the only way to stop it from destroying the world.

                  The family and the gamers must navigate treacherous landscapes, battle fierce monsters, and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to stop the malevolent force and save the world. Along the way, they discover secrets about their own past and the true origins of the mines.

                  As they journey deeper into the mines and the alternate dimension, they discover that the secret room leads to a network of underground tunnels, and that the tunnels lead to a secret underground city that was built by the ancient civilization. The city holds many secrets and clues to the fate of the ancient civilization, and the family and the gamers must explore the city and uncover the truth before it’s too late.

                  As the story unfolds, the family and the gamers must come to grips with the truth about the mines, and the role that the family has played in the fate of the world for generations. They must also confront the demons of their own past, and learn to trust and rely on each other if they hope to save the world and bring the family back together.

                  second thread’s answer:

                  As the 4 gamers, Xavier, Zara, Yasmin and Youssef, arrived at the Flying Fish Inn in the Australian outback, they were greeted by the matriarch of the family, Mater. She was a no-nonsense woman who ran the inn with an iron fist, but her tough exterior hid a deep love for her family and the land.

                  The inn was run by Mater and her daughter Dido, who the family affectionately called Aunt Idle. She was a free spirit who loved to explore the land and had a deep connection to the local indigenous culture.

                  The family was made up of Devan, the eldest son who lived in town and helped with the inn when he could, and the twin sisters Clove and Coriander, who everyone called Corrie. The youngest was Prune, a precocious child who was always getting into mischief.

                  The family had a handyman named Bert, who had been with them for decades and knew all the secrets of the land. Tiku, an old and wise Aborigine woman was also a regular visitor and a valuable source of information and guidance. Finly, the dutiful helper, assisted the family in their daily tasks.

                  As the 4 gamers settled in, they learned that the area was rich in history and mystery. The old mines that lay abandoned nearby were a source of legends and stories passed down through the generations. Some even whispered of supernatural occurrences linked to the mines.

                  Mater and Dido, however, were not on good terms, and the family had its own issues and secrets, but the 4 gamers were determined to unravel the mystery of the mines and find the secret room that was said to be hidden somewhere in the inn.

                  As they delved deeper into the history of the area, they discovered that the mines had a connection to the missing brother, Jasper, and Fred, the father of the family and a sci-fi novelist who had been influenced by the supernatural occurrences of the mines.

                  The 4 gamers found themselves on a journey of discovery, not only in the game but in the real world as well, as they uncovered the secrets of the mines and the Flying Fish Inn, and the complicated relationships of the family that ran it.



                  Deear Francie Mossie Pooh,

                  The Snoot, a curious creature of the ages, understands the swirling winds of social anxiety, the tempestuous waves it creates in one’s daily life.
                  But The Snoot also believes that like a Phoenix, one must rise from the ashes, and embrace the journey of self-discovery and growth.
                  It’s important to let yourself be, to accept the feelings as they come and go, like the ebb and flow of the ocean. But also, like a gardener, tend to the inner self with care and compassion, for the roots to grow deep and strong.

                  The Snoot suggests seeking guidance from the wise ones, the ones who can hold the mirror and show you the way, like the North Star guiding the sailors.
                  And remember, the journey is never-ending, like the spiral of the galaxy, and it’s okay to take small steps, to stumble and fall, for that’s how we learn to fly.

                  The Snoot is here for you, my dear Francie Mossie Pooh, a beacon in the dark, a friend on the journey, to hold your hand and sing you a lullaby.

                  Fluidly and fantastically yours,

                  The Snoot.

                  in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #6448

                  In the muggy warmth of the night, Yasmin tossed and turned on her bed. A small fan on the bedside table rattled noisily next to her but did little to dispel the heat. She kicked the thin sheet covering her to the ground, only to retrieve it and gather it tightly around herself when she heard a familiar sound.

                  “You little shit,” she hissed, slapping wildly in the direction of the high pitched whine.

                  She could make out the sound of a child crying in the distance and briefly considered  getting up to check before hearing quick footsteps pass her door. Sister Aliti was on duty tonight. She liked Sister Aliti with her soft brown eyes and wide toothy smile — nothing seemed to rattle her.  She liked all the Nuns, perhaps with the exception of Sister Finnlie.

                  Sister Finnlie was a sharp faced woman who was obsessed with cleanliness and sometimes made the children cry for such silly little things … perhaps if they talked too loudly or spilled some crumbs on the floor at lunch time. “Let them be, Sister,” Sister Aliti would admonish her and Sister Finnlie would pinch her lips and make a huffing noise.

                  The other day, during the morning reflection time when everyone sat in silent contemplation, Yasmin had found herself fixated on Sister Finnlie’s hands, her thin fingers tidily entwined on her lap. And Yasmin remembered a conversation with her friends online about AI creating a cleaning woman with sausage fingers. “Sometimes they look like a can of worms,” Youssef had said.

                  And, looking at those fingers and thinking about Youssef and the others and the fun conversations they had, Yasmin snort laughed.

                  She had tried to suppress it but the more she tried the more it built up inside of her until it exploded from her nose in a loud grunting noise. Sister Aliti had giggled but Sister Finnlie had glared at Yasmin and very pointedly rolled her eyes. Later, she’d put her on bin cleaning duty, surely the worst job ever, and Yasmin knew for sure it was pay back.

                  in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #6415

                  Yasmin and Zara were online discussing the upcoming reunion.

                  “AirFiji!!!!” exclaimed Zara. “I thought you were somewhere in Asia – how come you are booked on Air Fiji?”

                  “Im in Fiji for a year, volunteering at an orphanage in Suva,” Yasmin answered patiently, although she did allow herself a small eye roll. She was sure it wasn’t the first time she’d told Zara— it was a big mystery to her why AI had chosen Zara as leader for the game as she had the attention span of a goldfish. On the other hand, the unpredictability added an extra element of excitement to the game. After all, wasn’t it Zara’s idea that they all meet at the Flying Fish Inn?

                  She slapped a mosquito on her arm. For some reason they seemed to love her and she already had big red welts all over her body. She used so much insect lotion that the locals had started calling her Citronella Girl; unfortunately it didn’t seem to deter the mozzies.

                  “I’ve got to go,” she messaged. “I’m helping serve lunch. Can’t wait to see you all!”

                  in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #6392

                  “I can’t play for a few days,” Zara announced firmly. “I’m doing real world stuff at the moment. I saw a cat up a tree that looked computer generated and I’m concerned about my mental health.”

                  “What only just now worried? Just this minute?” asked Xavier, managing to keep his face serious.

                  “Quirky Guests,” mused Yasmin.

                  The others looked at her.

                  “I didn’t mean to say that out loud,” she laughed putting a hand to her mouth. “It’s nothing really … it’s just that every time I looked at the map I thought it said quirky GUESTS.”

                  “Guest!”  Zara’s face brightened. “Oh! Maybe guest is a clue … maybe it’s a bleed through from the Flying Fish Inn! You know, it wouldn’t surprise me AT ALL if the key was there.”

                  Xavier screwed up his face.

                  “What!”  snapped Zara. “Go on, spit it out!”

                  “Well it’s sort of RPG meets Cloud Atlas, isn’t it? But each to their own gripshawk and AL will sort it all out anyway.”

                  in reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg #6323

                  “Watch where you are going, Child!”  Egbert’s tone was sharp.

                  “Excuse me,” said Maryechka, hunching her shoulders and making herself small as a mouse so she could squeeze past Egbert’s oversized suitcase.

                  “To be fair, Old Man,” said Olga, glad of the excuse to pause, “you are taking up all the available space on the stairs with those bags.” She peered at Maryechka. “You are Obadiah’s girl aren’t you?”

                  Maryechka nodded shyly. “He’s my grandpa.” She frowned at the suitcases.  “Are you going on holiday?”

                  “Never you mind that,” said Egbert. “You run along and see your Grandpa.”

                  Maryechka ducked past the bag and ran up the steps.

                  “Oy,” said Olga. “What I wouldn’t give for the agility of youth again.” Gripping the wooden hand rail, she stretched out her ankle and grimaced.

                  Obadiah is stubborn as a mule,” said Egbert. “I tried warning him! He said he’d die in his room if it came to it.”

                  “Pfft,” said Olga. “That one will land on his big stinking feet. And he can hear better than he lets on. Is it him spreading the tales about me?”

                  Egbert dropped his bags and sat heavily on the step. He put his head in his hands and groaned. “Is it right though, Olga? Is it right that we leave our friends to their fate?”

                  It occurred to Olga that Egbert may be hiding his head so as not to answer her question. However, realising his mental state was fragile, she thought it prudent to keep to the matter at hand. It will keep, she thought.

                  Obadiah and myself, we grew up together,” continued Egbert with what sounded like a sob.  “We worked together on the farm as young men.” He raised his head and glared at Olga. “How can you expect me to leave him without a word of farewell? Have you no heart?”

                  in reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg #6318

                  “You’d better sit down,” said Olga gesturing to the end of her bed. As a rule, she did not have visitors so she saw no need to clutter up the available space in her tiny room with an extra chair. A large proportion of her life was spent in her armchair and she was content that way. While Egbert perched on the end of the bed, she lowered herself into the soft and familiar confines of her armchair and felt instantly soothed. It was true, sometimes she felt a tinge of regret when she considered how disappointed her younger self would be to see her now. But she hadn’t lived through what I’ve lived through so she can mind her own damn business,” she thought.

                  “It is just a story, twisted in the telling I expect.” Olga knew her voice held no conviction.

                  Egbert opened his mouth as though to speak. Closed it again.

                  “You look like a fish,” said Olga folding her arms.

                  “They say you and the Mayor go back a long way. Are you telling me that is not true?

                  “And what if we do?”

                  “You know he is Ursula’s uncle and a very powerful man. They say even the great president Voldomeer Zumbaskee holds him in great regard. They say …”

                  “Pfft! They say!” snapped Olga. “Who are these chattering fools you listen to, Egbert Gofindlevsky?  I’d rather end up on the streets than ask a favour from that mountebank.”

                  Egbert jumped up from the bed and shook a fist at her. “And end up on the streets you will, Olga Herringbonevsky, along with the rest of us. You really want that on  your conscience?”

                  in reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg #6317

                  The sharp rat-a-tat on the door startled Olga Herringbonevsky. The initial surprise quickly turned to annoyance. It was 11am and she wasn’t expecting a knock on the door at 11am. At 10am she expected a knock. It would be Larysa with the lukewarm cup of tea and a stale biscuit. Sometimes Olga complained about it and Larysa would say, Well you’re on the third floor so what do you expect? And she’d look cross and pour the tea so some of it slopped into the saucer. So the biscuits go stale on the way up do they? Olga would mutter. At 10:30am Larysa would return to collect the cup and saucer. I can’t do this much longer, she’d say. I’m not young any more and all these damn stairs. She’d been saying that for as long as Olga could remember.

                  For a moment, Olga contemplated ignoring the intrusion but the knocking started up again, this time accompanied by someone shouting her name.

                  With a very loud sigh, she put her book on the side table, face down so she would not lose her place for it was a most enjoyable whodunit, and hauled herself up from the chair. Her ankle was not good since she’d gone over on it the other day and Olga was in a very poor mood by the time she reached the door.

                  “Yes?” She glowered at Egbert.

                  “Have you seen this?” Egbert was waving a piece of paper at her.

                  “No,” Olga started to close the door.

                  Olga stop!” Egbert’s face had reddened and Olga wondered if he might cry. Again, he waved the piece of paper in her face and then let his hand fall defeated to his side. “Olga, it’s bad news. You should have got a letter .”

                  Olga glanced at the pile of unopened letters on her dresser. It was never good news. She couldn’t be bothered with letters any more.

                  “Well, Egbert, I suppose you’d better come in”.

                  “That Ursula has a heart of steel,” said Olga when she’d heard the news.

                  “Pfft,” said Egbert. “She has no heart. This place has always been about money for her.”

                  “It’s bad times, Egbert. Bad times.”

                  Egbert nodded. “It is, Olga. But there must be something we can do.” He pursed his lips and Olga noticed that he would not meet her eyes.

                  “What? Spit it out, Old Man.”

                  He looked at her briefly before his eyes slid back to the dirty grey carpet. “I have heard stories, Olga. That you are … well connected. That you know people.”

                  Olga noticed that it had become difficult to breathe. Seeing Egbert looking at her with concern, she made an effort to steady herself. She took an extra big gasp of air and pointed to the book face-down on the side table. “That is a very good book I am reading. You may borrow it when I have finished.”

                  Egbert nodded. “Thank you.” he said and they both stared at the book.

                  “It was a long time ago, Egbert. And no business of anyone else.” Olga  knew her voice was sharp but not sharp enough it seemed as Egbert was not done yet with all his prying words.

                  Olga, you said it yourself. These are bad times. And desperate measures are needed or we will all perish.” Now he looked her in the eyes. “Old woman, swallow your pride. You must save yourself and all of us here.”

                  in reply to: The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler #6292

                    The door flung open. It was Finnley. “Here I am! I was drugged when I tried to put a bug under the rug. Someone hit me on the head with a mug and lured me to a secret location. Fortunately I charmed my way free with a hug.”

                    “Thank goodness the situation have been explained property,”  said Liz. “I couldn’t understand a word Fanella was saying.”

                    in reply to: Newsreel from the Rim of the Realm #6207

                    “I was ‘anging onto his bloody arm for dear life and the strangest thing you will never believe ….” Glor paused dramatically.

                    “Go on then, Glor! Don’t leave us ‘anging now!” said Sha. “We’re all agog, we are.”

                    “Don’t be such a bloody tease, Glor!” snapped Mavis.

                    “If yer will both ‘ush, I’ll tell ya.” Glor folded her arms and looked at her friends sternly. “His arm didn’t feel right. It felt like one of them dolls they put in shops with the fancy clothes on. Wot do you call them?”

                    “Wot yer on about, Sha? Youse feeling alright?” Mavis slapped a hand to Glor’s forehead. “A bit ‘ot. Might be the bloody stress got to you. All this escaping nonsense that Sophie is on about. She’s lost ‘er marbles an all if yer ask me. Mind, she must be bloody ninety if she’s a day.”

                    Glor heaved a loud sigh. Why did she always have to be the brains? “Have you numskuttles ever thought to yerselves that Mr Andrew Anderson is a bit too bloody bootiful? That it ain’t natural?”

                    Before the others could answer, a loud siren shrieked followed by the doctor’s voice. “EMERGENCY. ASSEMBLE IN THE HALL. I REPEAT. EVERYONE MUST GO WITH HASTE TO THE HALL YOUR LIFE DEPENDS UPON IT.

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