📚 › Cackletown

A town going upside down, reality shook by strange cackling, and a woman with a strange power to unwittingly reshape reality, creating chaos and personality shifts all around. Can the Surge Team keep up with this impossible situation?

Strange cackling occurrences rip through the fabric of realities, and seem to impact every story characters.
Story refugees appear and disappear unexpectedly, and the ones that are here to stay must be given new identities, roles and purposes.
After much confusion, Ed Steam manages to track the source of it all to a not so innocent Bea, whose self-realization and disappearing ego has launched the whole Universe on a nonsensical spin.

Could Ed and other unexpected allies bring back the balance to the verse?

So the Story goes...

Viewing 25 replies - 76 through 100 (of 114 total)
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  • TracyTracy

      “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.

      F LoveF Love

        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.

          F LoveF Love

            “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!”


                Then she collapse, her body rigid like stone. Actually her skin began to take on a shade of grey, and several colonies of moss found their way into the wrinkles and meanders of the granite like hair.
                Mater arrived at that moment.
                “Oh! my! Dido, what did you do ?”
                The old lady looked at the table, saw the empty jar, the lines of ants already pillaging the sweet spots on the table and on Idle’s fingers. Some of them had already turned into stone. Mater tried to forage into the jar to find the small package. It contained the mantra to release the hungry ghost from the stone trap of the termite honey.
                The jar was meant for rats, Mater would feed them with termite honey to change them into stone and sell them on the market. A little hobby. She would never have thought Idle would eat that stuff. It smelled quite awful.


                  “Well thank goodness for that!” exclaimed Liz, heaving a sigh of relief. “The teleport thread jump was a success, and Aunt Idle is safe.”

                  “What are you doing here?” said Mater, aghast.

                  “I might ask you what YOU are doing here, Mater, I left you under a sapling in the woods not a moment ago!” retorted Liz.


                    “Are you following me, cousin ?” added Liz with a snort. “I never understood why you chose to hide yourself in that stinky town with your dead fishes. Maybe you are looking for a way out. There is nothing for you where I come from. I’ll never give you the teleportation ab-original codes.”
                    “Oh you never understood anything about me, or did you ?” said Mater, “You were too preoccupied by your followers. Is Big G still with you ? And that suspicious maid of yours. Is she still moulding dust critters ?”
                    “Dust critters ? What are you talking about?”
                    “What codes ?” asked Mater, squinting her eyes.
                    “Nothing,” said Liz, realizing she might have talked too much. But she couldn’t help it, her body was unable to contain all the words in her mind, they had to get out. She tightened her lips, trying to resist the outburst.
                    “What was that ?” asked Mater looking around, “did you hear that noise ?”
                    “Nope”, said Liz, “maybe an earthquake, or a storm approaching.” It had to get out one way or another she thought.
                    “Don’t talk nonsense with me, I tell you I heard something.”
                    Devan interrupted them. Liz looked at the young man, her cougar senses on alert.
                    “I got the paper”, he said.
                    Paper, with words.
                    “May I ?” she asked, showing the paper.
                    “Don’t try to seduce my boy”, said Mater, “I know you.”


                      Bea couldn’t contain a hearty cackle issuing forth at the dire straits of the thread entanglement situation. It was hard to know what to say, and where to say it.

                      Or was it?

                      Ed Steam was all but overwhelmed by the complexity of the situation.

                      He was up to his moustache in paperwork as he attempted to resolve the thread entanglement dilemma. At the same time he was striving to keep tabs on the various cacklers and manage the PR for the crowd gas experiments.

                      “What a jolly brouhaha,” he moaned.

                      “I am sorry to add to your woes,” said Evangeline cheerfully, “but there have been recent reports of a Cautacious Cackler cackling in various threads, although this may just be a typo for the Audacious Cackler or another strong possibility put forward by the experts is that the Cautacious Cackler has been confused for the Contumacious Cackler.“

                      She paused to see the effect this information was having on Ed, noting with pleasure the drops of sweat forming on his brow. She leaned over the desk and gently mopped them away with her handkerchief.

                      “And there have been unverified reports of a possible granite termitation on this thread,” she said softly.

                      It was too much for Ed.

                      “I want you to trace it back to when the first signs of entanglement began,” he screamed at Evangeline.

                      Jolly glad Evangeline’s not my character, Liz said, to nobody in particular.

                      “Well, it’s a bit tricky, Ed,” replied Evangeline. “I’m moving to another thread, had you forgotten? Today is my last day. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about my leaving party this evening!”

                      Ed was speechless.

                      But he was not speechless for long.

                      “Or was he?” asked an irritating voice from seemingly nowhere.

                      Because as luck would have it, Funley the cleaner popped her head in the door to see if the bin needed emptying and overheard Evangeline’s ill-timed and thoughtless words.

                      Snooty tart and what a bloody mess there will be to clean up tonight after the party.

                      “Don’t worry, Mr Steam, I will untangle this tangled web of threads for you! And I can mop your sweaty brow,” she added sarcastically, rolling her eyes at Evangeline.

                      “There was one other thing, Your Majesty…”

                      Finnley, what on earth is the matter with you?” Interrupted Liz.

                      “Well, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. I’m going to a party in another story tonight, it’s Funley’s leaving do over on the Cakltown thread. It’s a fancy dress party. The theme is Hierarchy, and I’m practicing groveling.”

                      “But it’s not your night off! You can’t go!”

                      But it was too late. Finnley had already thread jumped.

                      She’ll never be any good at groveling, that one. Far too big for her boots, sniffed Liz.

                      “Well, that does it. I am withdrawing my resignation,” said Evangeline.
                      “Too late,” replied Funley. “But you can have my cleaning job if you want. You’ll have to mind your nails.”

                      That cackle again! Blue Bit Bea was at it again.
                      Ed just had time to recall some of the past clues, fresh from the shower head which had now turned into a big celadon turnip with electric wires.
                      He couldn’t still figure out what caused those surges and reality ripples. That was quite a discomfiture.

                      Ed was still puzzled while he was eating his breakfast, and even more perplexed when he noticed all the blue bits in the confiture he had spread upon his toasted buns.

                      “Clean up the bun crumbs, Evangeline,” said Funley.

                      Evangeline gaped at Funley, who was sitting on Ed’s knee trying to wipe his brow with the bottom of her apron while he was trying to eat his buns.

                      “The crumbs are all over your thighs, Funley,” Evangeline retorted, “Are those blue bits varicose veins?”

                      This scene is getting ridiculous, she thought, and started to cackle at the absurdity.

                      Stung at the cackling, Funley whispered fiercely to Ed, “Sack the impertinent wench, give her the boot!”

                      “He’ll never settle down with the likes of you, Funley,” responded Evangeline, in a desperate attempt to validate the contribution to the furtherance of the plot with a flimsy attempt at continuity.

                      “Poor show!” retorted the erstwhile cleaner. “Increasingly rubbish!”

                      She had a point.

                      Or did she?

                      Final nail in the coffin, indeed.

                      Despite the overwhelmnity of the situation, Ed couldn’t fathom why nobody would take some time to stop and ponder on the incoherences, the gaps in the net, so to speak.

                      It behooved him to do so. The deranged cackler, like a mockery of the divine breath, ruling over the bizarro earth he had been sworn to protect — it had to be stopped.

                      But where was the elusive cackler hiding, he would seemed to appear anywhere and everywhere. And what to make of those cases of mistaken identities, or all the althreadnarrative-realities jumping. The occurrences were piling up. He couldn’t even seem to count on assembling his old fierce Surge Team. All gone bizarro too.

                      Pouring over his copious notes, he remembered how it all started. The strange case of Baked Bean Bea.
                      She seemed to have breached through, and quite frankly shattered in all likelihood some old reality limitation, and somehow, she now was able to unwittingly shape the world to new strange alternate realities at her every whims.

                      He painfully tried to recall, what he was, who he had been in the course of the last months. Blaze, his old genius inventor friend had left him some device, a transfocal whatever thingy. Usually it would change shapes as well, reconfigure itself with each realities. But its function was more or less the same. Reconnect him to his previous alternate realities. Which was handy, when you couldn’t even trust the notes you took. Obviously Bea wasn’t Baked Bean Bea before… or was she?

                      Now the Transfocal Thingy seemed to have relocated in the bathroom. The shower head with the wires seemed a bit of a giveaway.
                      Ed put on the water.


                        Obviously, Baked Bean Bea was a pseudonym for Baked Bean Barb , but it was perhaps too obvious. In fact, the more obvious the clues were, the more invisible they became. It had been plainly stated in the book (although omitted in the movie, as usually happened with movies based on books) that the point of the story was to
                        “broadcast seeds of absurdity in the cornfields and the meadows of the hay hoo down dooly…“

                        The trouble was that not many had ascended to the degree that they could understand the value of absurdity. Absurdity was never disconnected, if one had an eye for the connecting links, and more importantly, it was a thing of joy when approached from the right angle, occasioning an ebullient cackle.

                        It was ironic that the more the inhabitants ascended to jaunty joyful cackling at absurdities, the more the shiftmeisters tried to control them.

                        It didn’t take too long to Ed Steam to find her. By his count, only a few hundred reality reboots.

                        It could have been more, but keeping a steady count of all the trigger-cackles was tricky.
                        He never was quite the same person each time. Hopefully, he’d noticed after the 57th reboot that something new had happened — since that particular reboot, it had seemed easier to keep track of his identity from reboot to reboot.

                        As if Zero-point Bea had realized something, and honed her entangling capabilities.

                        Ed had tracked her at the border. Funnily, nowadays she was more or less the only unchanging thing in the whole universe.
                        She had rented a small apartment near the border, and was offering reallocation services on an ad-hoc basis.

                        There were still many characters refugees who were looking for a story placement, and that’s what she provided them.

                        Ed was there for one thing: termitate her. His reality now was quite different from the one he originated, but despite all the changes, he was still in charge of preventing the surges wherever they happened.
                        It was a moral dilemma. Already so many persons had been displaced by the cackling surges and Bea’s uncontrolled shifting realities. Not even a map-dancer could now keep track of all the transfocal encounters and reallocation. The world was a much different place now, on shifting grounds and sandy whorls with no minute of fame.

                        Ed was next in line, dreading that he couldn’t get to her before the next cackling reboot.
                        The success of his mission was paramount to the security of the fabric of reality.


                          Bea had finished taking notes for her last client’s reallocation.

                          Nowadays, she wouldn’t release the cackle at each and every time.
                          It was too time consuming to realign her wits after it shuffled reality, and it was actually more effective to do many changes at once.
                          That much she’d learned. It was like giving dog food to a pack. Much better to give all at once to the hungry dogs, rather than try to organise the melee.

                          She was about to call for the next client, when the walls of her kitchen trembled.

                          The next minute, she was in a labyrinth, dark and comfortable, with a musky smell, and soft sounds of coconuts thumps on a beach faintly in the distance.

                          A looming silhouette was here in the dark.

                          “Hello Bea” it said “welcome to my hut, I am the techromancer.”

                          Someone had told him once : “Catastrophes are like meteor shower, they come in flocks.”

                          Jeremy looked with dread at the smoke coming out of his computer. He had been writing an important e-mail to his new boss at the bank and was about to click the send button when it happened. The tech had said there was a current surge affecting the whole building. Everyone was in deep shit at the moment, they had to close the building to angry customers, and someone in high place was certainly worrying about the intangible money the bank was manipulating daily.
                          Oh! and concerning all his data, considering the smoke coming out of the machine, it was certainly irremediably lost.

                          Jeremy sighed. His last relocation a few hours ago had made him a 36 year old salesman in a not so well known bank. His ID said he was called Duncan Minestrone, but he couldn’t let go of his old identity and kept on thinking of himself as Jeremy. And he didn’t feel that old.

                          His memory of his former life, before the relocation, was fading away. He didn’t remember well what he was doing and what were his passions. The only thing he was sure is that they had confiscated his cat, Max, when they gave him his first identity and he had been on the look for him ever since.

                          It wasn’t easy, especially since every other day he was receiving a new identity in his mailbox. At first he had found it odd and not so easy : as soon as he got accustomed to a new persona, he would have to change again. He feared he would soon lose track of who he really was. And he wasn’t sure about what all this was about.

                          The phone hanging on the wall rang. It was one of those old public phones. Jeremy had thought it was only for decoration. The tech was looking at him.

                          “Are you going to pick up ?” he asked.
                          “Me ?”
                          “Of course! The phone is in your office, isn’t it ?”

                          Jeremy hesitated but eventually got up from his desk. The phone was calling him, but he didn’t really want to take the call. What if it was more problems. They come in flocks.
                          It was one of those old ringing tone caused by a mechanical bell inside. The speaker was shaking furiously. Jeremy couldn’t help but notice the dust on the machine.

                          “You’d better take the call”, said the tech.

                          Jeremy picked up the apparatus which a greasy feeling in his hand.

                          “At last! Duncan, in my office! Now!”
                          It was the voice of his new boss, Ed, and he didn’t seem very happy.

                          Funley sniffed loudly as she unhurriedly emptied the trash can in Ed Steam’s office, pausing to read any interesting correspondence which may have wound up there. Looking over towards Ed and finding that his attention was still fixed on the computer monitor, she followed her sniff up with a small snort and then a throat clearing noise. When her sniffs and snorts didn’t capture Ed’s attention, she proceeded to blow her nose explosively.

                          This did the trick. Ed jumped and looked at Funley in alarm.

                          “Whatever is the matter, Funley? Are you ill?”

                          “Sorry, didn’t mean to disturb you,” apologised Finnley, pulling up a chair in front of Ed’s desk and seating herself comfortably on it.

                          “Actually, if you are not too busy, there is a small problem I’ve been wanting to speak with you about. I promised I would untangle the threads for you however the entanglement situation is worse than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. Or nightmares for that matter. I don’t know who has been doing the record keeping — although I would hazard a guess at Evangeline — but the cross referencing, where it exists, is appalling and … “

                          A tap on the door and the new employee, Duncan Minestrone, popped his head into the office. “You wanted to see me, Mr Steam?” he asked.

                          Funley glanced towards the door in exasperation at the interruption and then her expression changed to one of horror.

                          Jasper Grok!” she gasped. “What are you doing here?”

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