Hello everyone. Welcome back to my rerun of last year’s mini-series, in support of Get Caught Reading Month. It’s about the escapades of our intrepid band of bloggers and their pets. Who could resist those fur babies?
If you were here last year, I’m delighted that you’ve stuck with me. If this is new to you, then hang onto your hats, because it’s a wild ride! I hope you’ll visit the bloggers included in this post. Now for the rerun. Enjoy!
Wow! May is nearly half over already. However, it’s still Get Caught Reading Month. Welcome back to the zany and bizarre story I’ve been writing to encourage people of all ages to read. As many of you know, a few elite bloggers (and their pets) banded together with one quest — catch the Story Reading Ape reading.
When we left our heroes…
During the first chapter, I found a shimmering airship outside my window. The pilot looked suspiciously like Cornelis Drebbel. Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the Story Reading Ape reading.
Last time Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen and I met a number of author-bloggers (and their pets) who joined the quest to catch the illusive Ape. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel (Cowboy Boss and His Destiny), Christoph Fischer (The Gamblers.), John W. Howell (John J. Cannon Trilogy,) and blogger Dan Antion.
This time a new duo gets added to the intrepid band of bloggers – Hugh Roberts and Toby. Now, let’s join our adventuring bloggers.
Sign of the Ape 3
Image courtesy of Chris Graham
I couldn’t see anything when I looked out the portholes of the dirigible. No, I don’t mean that it was nighttime. There was nothing to see, just flat blackness. I supposed it was just as well. The airship was traveling outside the laws of nature with the alchemist, Cornelis Drebbel, at the helm.
That gave me a very unsettling feeling. However, the steady whir of the engines was comforting. The sound was almost hypnotic. I wondered aloud how long it would take us to get from New York to Tokyo, even with the magic Cornelis used.
“I don’t feel very well,” Mary J. McCoy-Dressel murmured, and her fur baby, Kasha, put her head on Mary’s knee.
“Air sickness, Mary?” Suzanne DeBrango asked the author in a concerned voice, but Percy the Pug barked a decisive yip.
Tilting my head, I studied the little dog. It seemed like he sensed something, but we humans were not picking up on it.
Suzanne made a face. “Now that you mention it, I don’t feel quite right either. Maybe it was the hors-d’oeuvres back at the Fictional Heroes exhibit,” the blogger-chef suggested. “My stomach feels all wrong, but then so does my head.”
Abruptly we experienced a sharp bump, an air pocket, I thought. However, the pressure inside my ears immediately did something strange, causing me to shake my head. With a sinking feeling I knew that was no air pocket. It was the blasted alchemy going awry.
“Cornelis Drebbel!” I shouted, much as Felicity, the woman in trousers, would have. “What have you done?”
Before the words had left my mouth, I felt the sensation of horrible pressure. It was like having a giant vice in front and in back, pressing hard against me from both sides. I thought my head might explode, but my ears finally popped, giving me some relief. It effected my eyesight as well. Everything blurred and twisted. Then my eyes bulged painfully, so I squeezed them shut.
After a moment I the dirigible bumped lightly. I heard soft groans from my companions. Snuffling sounds told me Kasha and Percy were sniffing everything excitedly. My eyes were still closed against all the unpleasant sensations I had just experienced, but I felt a little paw on my knee. I put my hand out and knew it was the Pug’s sturdy little body, so I petted him. Then he ran back to Suzanne.
Finally I opened my eyes, but I had trouble focusing.
“Teagan, are you okay?” Mary asked. “You know, I never realized how huge your eyes were before,” she commented in a puzzled tone.
Or at least it sounded like Mary. Her hair was blond, but there was something different about it. When she moved I realized that her hair flowed almost to the floor. Something else wasn’t wright, but everything was still blurry.
“I think I’m okay,” I told Mary. “I’m having trouble getting a deep breath though.”
She and Suzanne helped me stand. Suzanne led us to the portholes.
“Look at the lights,” Suzanne exclaimed. “It’s Tokyo! We’re there.”
Cornelis called out that we should sit down. The airship was about to land. The three of us staggered to our seats. Apparently I wasn’t the only one experiencing my unfortunate symptoms.
“Teagan, could I ask you something?” Suzanne began hesitantly and my affirmative came out as a groan. “Oh, here – these might help,” she added handing me my glasses. “Are you feeling a little… deflated? Because I sure am.”
Putting on my glasses I looked at Suzanne. I was speechless. Her hair was suddenly short and bluish-green. She was dressed in a turquoise metallic futuristic outfit with matching tall boots. There was one other thing. Suzanne was flat. So was Mary. So were the dogs! They all looked like anime characters. I started to hold my hand up in front of my face to see if I had been effected, but I was afraid to look.
I turned to Mary, who was shifting uncomfortably in her seat. Mary made a complaint to that effect. She wore a flowing airy gown. Indeed there was something that prevented her getting comfortable.
“Erm… that might be because of your wings,” I told her. “I think maybe you’re some sort of goddess character.”
Mary reached frantically behind her and gasped when her fingers came into contact with her wings.
For a moment I studied Suzanne in that futuristic outfit. I asked her if she thought perhaps somewhere nearby there was a giant robot that belonged to her. The oddest expression came to her face.
“I know it sounds crazy,” Suzanne admitted. “But I think maybe there is!”
“Don’t you all look delicious?” Cornelis exclaimed as he strolled into the area.
He was dressed as a Victorian gentleman, but that would not be unusual for him. However, it was certainly odd that he looked like an anime Cornelis Drebbel. He reminded me of one of the male characters I might see on the Black Butler series.
“Am I supposed to be some kind of goddess?” Mary asked the alchemist. “These wings!” she added, still uncomfortable in the seat.
“Darling Mary, all women are goddesses,” Cornelis replied slyly with bobbing eyebrows.
“But what about you, Teagan?” Suzanne asked worriedly.
Looking down, I saw that I wore loafers and knee socks. I was dressed in a pleated skirt, and white blouse with a sailor collar. It was like an anime schoolgirl uniform. I groaned even louder than I had when the air was squeezed out of me. I was barely aware of hearing a rhythmic thumping sound.
“Cornelis Drebbel,” I growled pushing my skirt into place. “You’d better be glad this skirt was not a mini! Else you’d be a dead man.”
“I don’t mean the outfit,” Suzanne told me as she gestured to her head, just above her ear.
Moving a strand of my hair, I realized it was long and black. I gasped, but apparently that wasn’t the full extent of my transformation.
Finally Suzanne added, “Ears? Tail!”
I put my hands to the top of my head and felt two soft furry ears. The thumping sound grew faster and louder. I put a hand to my backside. The noise was coming from my anxiously swishing, thumping tail!
“Your character may have gotten a little… crossed,” Cornelis said in a droll voice. “You were actually supposed to be a Neko character.”
“Come along. There’s a city square we must get to. It has a number of billboards bearing images of our quarry. We can take the giant robot as transportation, if Suzanne will kindly drive him,” Cornelis told us all, with a bow to the blogger-chef.
The turquoise anime version of Suzanne scrambled to the porthole and gasped in excitement. I followed and my tail swished, knocking over a small table. Mary glanced at her wings, murmured something about what damage she might do with her wings, and stayed in her uncomfortable seat. When I reached the window, I saw a huge flatbed being pulled by a heavy duty construction loader. Stretched out on the flatbed was a giant flying robot.
Cornelis moved to help Suzanne and Percy as they disembarked the dirigible, though they both scampered down the gangway without need of assistance. Mary’s wings presented more of a problem. A gust of wind caught her and she was lifted into the air.
“Mary!” I screamed and Kasha barked.
A thread of magical glowing green shot from the alchemist’s hand and wrapped around Mary’s ankle. Cornelis and Kasha walked down the ramp, with the anime version of Mary in tow via the magical lead. Once safely on the ground, Cornelis helped her touch down.
My tail swayed as I descended. It was amazingly useful for balance. Then my cat ears picked up a familiar voice and barking. Kasha and Percy also heard it and barked their replies. A man and a Corgi hopped out of the construction loader. It was Hugh Roberts and Toby.
Moments after I introduced everyone, my new cat ears picked up muffled sounds. It was the same music I’d heard back at the wax museum. I heard the funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme, and I remembered the tunnel back at Time Square into which John W. Howell, Dan Antion, and their pets had gone. It seemed impossible that it could be them. Then I heard two dogs barking and a cat’s meow. It had to be Lucy, Maddie, and MiMi.
Finally the sounds grew loud enough for the other humans to hear.
“Isn’t that ruckus coming from below ground?” Hugh commented in surprise.
“Yes. It sure is,” I replied, feeling very worried.
End Chapter 3, The Sign of the Ape
I begin to think the Ape won’t be caught until he simply allows us to do so. Now that I’ve seen his image all over billboards in Tokyo I think maybe he’s in charge! Stick around to see what happens to our intrepid bloggers next week!
By the way, it is a work day, so forgive me if I’m slow to answer comments.
The Sign of the Ape, furry family cast
Row 1: Percy, Crystal, Lucy, Kasha
Row 2: Claudius, Oh Kitty, and Sweeney, and Toby
Row 3: Wilma, Greta, Maddie, MiMi
Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.
Special mention to Christopher Graham for the marvelous “Atonement, Tennessee” images.