In the Eights’ Shift saga, Continuity Classes flunkers Ann, Lavender, Phenol et al.
So the Story goes...
“It may have been the sudden change of environment, but Leörmn had great difficulty at staying focused.”
Aspidistra Merryweather, suddenly disconcertingly finding herself in a completely different place, with a new name and an unfamiliar body, was marginally relieved to discover that the wonderful synchronicity of the random quote selector hadn’t changed.
“Thank heaven for small mercies” she muttered to herself, fully aware that mercies and heaven were self made, as were sudden changes of environment. “I’m not called Aspidistra for nothing, after all. I have in built capablities for growing well in the dark”
Aspidistra’s parents had thought long and hard about what to call her. In fact, until she was 5 years old they referred to her simply as “the sprog”. One day Mrs Merryweather, a keen gardner, was admiring her Aspidistra elatior plant which seemed to grow so abundantly despite the most adverse conditions. She mentioned this to Mr Merryweather in passing.
Just like our Sprog, he chuckled, look at her. She is twice the size of the other kids her age, and we don’t hardly have to feed her at all.
It was years later that her ability to glow in the dark was discovered.
Of course Aspidistra’s qualities, although unique, were not particularly useful when it came to gaining paid employment. She lamented this fact at some length to her best friend Dick Tator. Dick did his best to console the distraught Aspidistra, even offering to teach her to speak in a more posh accent, but to no avail. She was inconsolable.
I am going to hell in a handbasket! she cried. I am completely unemployable! Will I sink to the lowest level of society? To a world without money or moral obligation?
It seemed decidedly odd to Dick that his friend believed that she created the very heavens, yet could not create a job for herself.
What is it you would love to do above all else, dear Aspidistra? asked Dick gently. For he was a kind hearted soul, deep down.
Without hesitation Aspidistra replied, I would like to sing songs! songs of joy! songs that make people dance!
When Aspidistra woke early the following morning she lay still in the darkness. Holding up her arm she used the faint golden glow her skin gave off to read the time on her bedside clock. 4.44 am!
She remembered the advice Dick had given her when she shared her dream. Dear Dick, she had fully expected him to laugh at her foolish fancies.
When you wake up in the morning, take a deep breath. Sing the song of joy that you are here! Dick Tator
Feeling a little foolish she took a deep breath, opened her mouth wide and ….. out came a high pitched shriek.
I sound more like a squawking magpie than a song bird, she thought disconsolately.
Gloomily she switched on the television where a muscular looking man was attempting to balance an oven on his face.
Unfortunately Aspidistra couldn’t remember the dream that she had told Dick. I wish I could remember it, she muttered to herself. I suppose if Dick suggested I sing the joys of life upon awakening that it must have been an unpleasant dream, she mused, and as such it’s perhaps not terribly important that I recall it.
“What are you mumbling about now, Aspidistra?” groaned Philodendron, her sister. “It’s hard enough to get some sleep as it is with you glowing all the time; if you’re going to keep mumbling as well, well, it’s just not fair!”
“I wasn’t even speaking aloud, Phil!” retorted Aspidistra, stung at the unfairness of the accusation. “You shouldn’t be listening in to my thoughts in the first place, you nosey parker.”
Philodendron sighed and rolled over, pulling the blankets over her head in an attempt to block out the glow and the mental chatter bombarding her from every direction. I really need to learn how to block all this, she thought, I can’t seem to get a moments peace anymore.
“You’re right, you do, Phil” replied her sister.
“AARRGGHH!” Phil shouted. “Don’t keep answering my thoughts, they’re private! Bugger off!”
I don’t remember dreams at all unfortunately, she confided, her voice lowered. But, on the bright side, the DMT I have been taking is helping me to see aliens and little people.
Her close friend Harvey Norman, circus performer and proxy dreamer in his spare time, nodded distractedly, not really listening. He was more concerned at that moment with investigating any visible damage to his precious nose. Freakin heck! a freakin oven! what would the producers come up with next?
Oh you know what! she continued, unperturbed by Harvey’s lack of attention. I’m pregnant! I’m so excited. I have a name picked and everything. I am going to call it Essence. The Fellowship said I could pick it up next week!
Oh yeah? The Fellowship said next week? That’s pretty cool. Didn’t know you were after a baby. They are a bit hard to come by now aren’t they? So who is the father donor?
None other than the great Col Umbro himself! She smiled proudly, anticipating the effect her words would have. She was not disappointed.
Wow! Col Umbro! The Zebra! Harvey stopped the investigation of his nose in order to shake his head in disbelief. How did YOU manage that?
Oh, well you know last week when I had that interview with Ann Tattler? you know, the crazy author who doesn’t write any more, just listens?
Harvey noodded and roolled his eyes disparagingly. Used to be Elizabeth right? yeah sure, who hasn’t heard of her… so, go on …
Well, HE was there, and he suggested I ask him some questions, you know to assess my suitability for the position. Somehow, by some freakin miraculous fluke, I managed to get the questions in the right order .. he is a bit obsessed with the whole order thing …. but I didn’t know that till after … so anyway, he was so impressed with my obvious brilliance that he offered to father a baby for me!
Harvey, rendered momentarily speechless, shook his head again. He had never had much time for babies himself, although appreciated that some people were into
Yeah, I know what you mean, she said, reading his thoughts. Actually I am not sure if I have really thought it through. I might have got caught up in the whole thrill of the moment thing … to be honest, I don’t know if little Essence will fit into my lifestyle. I am supposed to be going to Asgard next week …
Asgard? Really, can you still get through? I thought the bridge was crumbling?
oh really! bugger! … Oh but anyway I am thinking of giving little Essence to my cousin Aspidistra. She is such a funny old thing with her strange glowing skin. A little baby to care for could do her the world of good.
Harvey was thinking if anything had escaped his friend’s keen eye for details…
She was so good at it that his attempt was only futile and hopeless.
He gave a distracted look at the menu of the restaurant.
He’d kept getting the strangest reads recently by “mis-understanding” other people’s words, in an entirely bizarre yet funny and enlightening way. Like when his friend talked about Bifrost, he first thought she was talking about getting roasted beef.
Speaking of which, the menu was saying (so he first read)
“pig bed wonder
hairy expect reason liked universe
behind certain Tina doctor busy light individual”
“Oh, egg Benedict for starters” she said, “sounds just great”
“What? Why did I read ‘pig bed something?’” he muttered to himself.
“Pig?… Did you just say ‘pig’? I am sure that is a synch… can’t remember what though… Piggy I have to remember”
Harvey noticed that he had seen pigs recently as well. The first occurrence was after a crappy condition, about recycling pigs’ waste to make gas; and the other was about a pig feeding piglets on the road.
Oh! That’s right! that’s what I meant to tell you .. she exclaimed.
What? … oh and what IS your name, anyway? asked Harvey. We are such close friends, I sort of feel I should call you something.
Lavender ..funny, I thought you knew that .. well anyway, I forgot to mention, when they asked me what breed I would like for Essence I asked for a piglet. I asked for one with black and white stripes to take after Col. They are so cute aren’t they, and smart too! I hope Aspidistra likes pigs though …
Harvey wondered for a moment why he’d thought he’d heard “Sylvander”… He made Lavender repeat her name to be sure he got it right.
At least, that was easier to remember than Aspooh’s full name.
A striped cute little piggy… He’d heard about those funny Japanese Tokyo X ones. Speaking of Xs, there was a ten steps list to remember to help him out of procrastinating further on his current task that Lavy had kindly sent to him, but bugger if he could remember any one of them…
Now… if that were to be a Japanese pig, they would have to learn how to say ‘Essence’ in Japanese…
Speaking of sex? Lavender’s ears perked up. Oh X! He was speaking of X. Now SHE was mishearing … or mis-mindreading to be more accurate. Pity, sex sounded more interesting than all this X business. She did wish Harvey wouldn’t call her Lavy, for obvious reasons, she would have thought. No wonder in the 6 years they had been friends she hadn’t told him her name.
Speaking of names … do you think Essence is a good name for a pig? she asked, hoping to get Harvey off the rather boring subject of procrastination. She would speak of X later, maybe … if she had time.
Maybe I should let Aspidistra name the pig?
Harvey wasn’t paying attention. He was balancing the waiter on his nose.
You know I might have to go through the portal if the bridge to Asgard has crumbled, Lavender mused, to no-one in particular.
I think Aspooh is too busy mourning her cat which she had embalmed and mummified to pay any attention to the piglet (it be).
“Did you know that ancient Egyptians shaved their eyebrows in sign of mourn when the family cat died?”
What do you think of “Cellar door” as a name? Some eminent linguist has proposed it was the most beautiful association of nouns in the whole English language…
Now, Lavender was puzzled; why in the name of all the angels’ choir, Harvey was speaking of nun associations? Soon he’ll be talking of peanuts at that rate…
This whole Shifting business was definitely taking its toll on uncanny understandings…
Lavender stared at Harvey in alarm. He had put the waiter down and was rambling incoherently, head jerking in small sharp movements, eyes too shiny.
His eyes. Something dark seemed to be emerging from his eyes.
Lavender threw herself at him, and grabbing his massive shoulders attempted to shake them vigourously. In actual fact he didn’t budge.
GET OUT OF HIM! she shouted instead.
What are you doing? asked Harvey after he recovered from his initial shock.
Oh sorry. You sounded weird. I thought you might have been taken over by aliens.
Harvey, okay this is weirdo question, but is that a pink elephant which has just walked into the restaurant?
What? … Where? Harvey looked around and shook his head with a laugh. No, that’s just an apparition, a miracle of genetics not to be believed. Freakin heck Lavender, first of all aliens, now pink elephants… maybe you should cut back on the DMT.
“Hey, Asp” Phildendron was still chuckling at her sister Aspidistra’s reaction to the piglet news “Why don’t you make a deal with Lavender, tell her you’ll only accept the piglet if it comes with a years supply of that DMT stuff.”
“So I can share it will you, Phil?” Asp raised an eyebrow. “I don’t like haggling though, you know what I’m like. Looking a gift horse in the mouth and all that, no accidents and all the rest of it. I mean, I must be creating this piglet gift myself, and acceptance is key, is it not?”
“Acceptance doesn’t mean literally accepting gifts of piglets, silly!”
“Well what DOES it mean then?”
“It means accepting that everything is fine, whatever you choose ~ whether you say yes to the pig, or no to the pig, you’re supposed to accept that it’s the perfect choice.”
“Well how the devil is a person to know which is the right choice then?”
“Well that’s just it, it doesn’t matter which choice you make. Not only that, it’s not a case of just one choice, either.”
“So what you’re trying to tell me, which sounds like absolute nonsense, is that if I choose to accept the pig gift now, I would have to choose tomorrow that I accepted the pig gift today, otherwise I would be choosing…..” Asp’s voice trailed off as she lost her thread.
“Yes! And not just once tomorrow, but in every moment you would have to choose that you chose the pig gift ~ otherwise you’d be choosing that you didn’t accept the pig ~ and that would be a choice too.”
“Oh don’t be silly, Phil, with so many choices to make in each moment you wouldn’t ever be finished choosing before it was the next moment, then you’d have to start choosing again ~ You’d never get anything done!”
The Fellowship wish to extend our greetings to you young lady, and to thank you most sincerely for gracing us with your delightful presence.
Lavender smiled encouragingly at the pointy headed gentleman who was welcoming her so warmly. Still, she was wondering anxiously why she had been summoned to this meeting of the Fellowship, when her little Essence was not due for another two days.
Thank you, it is I who am honoured to be here. she responded politely.
The Speaker smiled benignly at her. I sense your anxiety. Let me assure you there is no reason for concern. We are very happy with your pregnancy. However we did encounter some unexpected challenges. Perhaps, it is best if you just see for yourself.
He nodded to one of the Helpers, who waited like silent black shadows around the edges of the room. The Helper disappeared, and returned a moment later carrying a large bundle, which appeared to be wiggling vigorously. The Helper laid the bundle gently at Lavender’s feet and unwrapped the cover. Three little striped piglets emerging, squealing indignantly.
Yes, smiled the Speaker. We are delighted to inform you that your pregnancy has resulted in triplet piglets. I am sure even though this is unexpected, you will be as thrilled as we here at the Fellowship are.
Lavender hoped Aspidistra liked piglets as much as the Fellowship clearly did …
“Why don’t you just gloogloo it?” Harvey asked Rodent Enron
“you know, gloogloo dot com, the first search engine on all things Turkey? Don’t tell me you’re chicken on that too, after the fail attempt to cross the wiggling bridge?”
A second Helper materialised, with another squirming bundle.
Yes, as well as the triplet birth of black and white striped piglets, the pregnancy also resulted in a quadruplet birth of miniature pink elephants. A very successful pregnancy. You will appreciate the significance of the seven of course?
Lavender didn’t have a clue, but as she had been rendered speechless, decided just to nod anyway.
Oh and one last word of advice – if you need any assistance in caring for your new born, we suggest you use gloogloo as a reliable source of seeking information. This is the Fellowship’s search engine of choice.
Harvey was pretty disappointed; he would have preferred a cute pygmy hippo rather than the squealing little litter of pigglets. Granted, he would have had to change the bathtub to an Olympic sized pool, but rather that than having to build a barn for elephants.
The silver lining was that the elephants were water-hosing the pig’s pooh outside very efficiently.
Oh! they are so cute! Aspidistra was almost overcome with emotion at Lavender’s generosity. You are such a dear, thoughtful, kind person Lavender.
It all kept getting stranger and stranger to Harvey —or aliener and aliener, he would have been tempted to say.
Maybe that was because of the ash blue giant aliens he’d made contact with recently. They were nice though; slender body and ample slow movements, but despite all feelings of eeriness, they appeared to be kind and loving beings. Of course, when he had told the others about it, all they had wanted to know was how many boobies they had, and whether their appendices were proportionate to their heights. Harvey couldn’t help but roll his third eye (he was tempted to wink it at first, but remembered how he failed to convey anything like this, people not knowing whether he was winking or simply blinking…).
Funny thing was that now he was getting distorted and disrupted (or so he thought) communications even in broad daylight.
The last one, when he was reading Grips, his favorite newspaper’s headlines on the newsstand went like:
Yesterday, after having being woken up by the squealing little piglets during the storm, he’d loitered around the neighbourhood in search for sleep, and found himself wanting to declaim nonsensical words about a girl gloogloo-dancing under the sun of Androoloosie (that’s the name he got, from some distant parallel reality).
Perhaps he should make some podcasts out of this, they may well be the sign of a vastly intelligent design the code of which some erudite researchers could crack up thanks to his contribution.
Yeah… crack up… They would…
Oh bugger this Harvey pestered against his pinhole third eye monocle which had just fallen again in his tea.
He’d developed a strange case of telepathy myopia —which he had hoped to alleviate with the monocle— that prevented him to hear the thoughts of the others when they weren’t as close enough a distance.
Doc Limure, a strange fellow, had diagnosed him when he had told about the strange symptoms and advised him to carry the pinhole monocle for awhile. But it wasn’t really practical at all to maintain before his eye; he had to keep his telekinesis in check, and as soon as he let his thoughts drift away, the thing would fall.
He started to wonder if Dr Limure had not made some practical joke on him.
“Did you know there was 57 known races of NNH?”, Harvey told Aspidistra.
But she was too busy washing the piglets to notice.
Decimus! Yoo Hoo! OH MY GOD! how wonderful to see you here. What are YOU doing in Manilva? Is Antonio here too?
LAVENDER! How great to see you!….. Oh Antonio, Decimus shook his head, his joy at seeing Lavender quickly replaced with sadness at the thought of his Beloved. I have not seen her for many months. Only in my dreams does she visit me, and there she is doing the strangest of things. Things no man can decipher. It is strange times indeed Lavender. Decimus sighed heavily, then rubbed his eyes and scratched his head. God, he really needed to get some help. He wondered if the great Dr Limur might be able to help him get rid of these nervous twitches. Ever since Antonio had been gone he had been rubbing, sighing, scratching! It was driving him mad. And the odour of fermented fish which constantly plagued him! Dear God, what had he done to deserve this.
Lavender regarded her friend with compassion. Poor fellow, he really was behaving oddly. However, recalling her recent rather embarrassing encounter with Harvey, she decided against trying to rid Decimus of any potential lurking demons. Perhaps it was better to try and emulate the famous Tattler twins, Ann and Sally, and simply listen, rather than trying to jump in and help all the time.
Anyway my dear Lavender. What brings YOU to this god forsaken place?
I have an appointment to see Annabel… um, hang on I can’t remember her name .., Lavender rummaged in her purse. Oh that’s right, Annabel Ingram. She is a certified dream navigator. I found her on gloogloo when I was searching for some help with my seven new born … anyway, long story … Aspidistra has them now so that is okay … and then… the strangest thing! I found 57 of her business cards in my mail box. Isn’t that rather odd Decimus?
Decidedly odd indeed, replied Decimus, with a sigh.