Hello everyone — I’m delighted that you’ve come back to Thistledown for another episode of my serial. I have another special guest today. Some of you know him. If not, then let me introduce Tim Price. Tim takes marvelous photos, with a “focus” on things and people in the southwest. There are great examples online at T & L Photography, Inc. If you click on any of Tim’s photos here, it will take you to a related post at his blog.
What you might not realize is that Tim is also a fantastic storyteller. You can see that at his blog, Off Center & Not Even, where he often combines an entertaining narrative with his photo post. I recommend you check out the tab for “Tales from My Youth.” If you’re an animal lover you’re really in for a treat with plenty of pictures of the kitties and parrots who own him and his wife Laurie.
About This Episode
Tim had several photos that reminded him of the colorless world I described for the other faery-verse. He kindly agreed to let me use them. He describes one as “The Undertaker and the Cranes” at his blog. It’s a fun post. I hope you’ll take a look at it and others when you visit him. Naturally it inspired me, but the image took me to my own story.
However, we begin this episode with a more colorful scene. It also introduces new mystery folk. So click on the links to reveal the people who named these characters.
We now return to Thistledown…
Midsummer Bedlam 6
Powderpuff Sheep and Cranes
Update: I had to include this wonderful creation from Robbie Cheadle. I’m honored that she was inspired by this story.
Poppy Songbird called my name. I heard her loud and clear, but I didn’t see her. She chuckled when I turned a full circle looking for her.
“I’m up here, Bedlam,” she called from high atop the stone wall. “I have to mind the powderpuff sheep. You’re free aren’t you?” she asked, pushing her flower-shaped spectacles back on her nose.
My face flushed. Everybody in Thistledown must know that I was suspended from school. Poppy seemed to realize where my thoughts had gone.
“Oh… Sorry, Bedlam. I didn’t mean anything. It’s just that I have to deliver a message, but I got stuck minding the sheep.”
The extra fluffy sheep on the other side of the wall bleated. I knew it was a big responsibility to tend them. When the direction and velocity of a breeze was just right, powderpuff sheep could get airborne. Unfortunately they had no ability to control their flight. The wind might take them anywhere. Looking after them required a strong weather sense, to pick up on minute atmospheric changes. If a powderpuff got into the air, retrieving it took a very dexterous flyer who could anticipate changes in the air current.
“Don’t worry, Poppy. I understand.”
“How’s the wing? It looks like you’re still grounded, huh?”
“My wing is getting better. It doesn’t hurt now, unless I unfold my wings in a breeze. So, what’s going on?” I wanted to know.
“I met up with my cousin Holly last night while she was on her way to her next gig. She asked me to take a message to Carver Eastdoor. Holly is coordinating with him for her grand entrance for her Midsummer performance at the orchard,” Poppy explained. “I promised I’d get her message to him first thing this morning, but I didn’t know I was going to have to tend the sheep.”
My friend Peaches was excited that Holly Songbird, and her band Dragon’s Nest, would perform at her solstice party. So of course I agreed to deliver the message. Poppy dropped a paper folded in the shape of a bird and it floated to my hands.
Poppy said that Carver was planning something spectacular of his own as an introduction to the musical performance. I knew that Carver had the talent to shape trees as they grew. I couldn’t imagine what marvel he might create for the Midsummer party.
I headed toward the home of the Eastdoor family. It would be fun to see their baby daughter. The last time I saw her, she was toddling around, using her tiny wings for balance.
The problem was the Eastdoor home wasn’t exactly close, and with my injured wing, I still couldn’t fly.
A foreboding feeling, caused by the dull colored fish and the dank thicket Peaches and I saw the day before, was still partly on my mind. However, it caused an inspired thought. If I cut across the orchard near the pond, it should save me a good deal of time.
As I neared that area the sky began to darken. It’s a good thing Poppy stayed with the powderpuff sheep, I thought, although bad weather was not expected.
Uncle hadn’t said anything about a storm being on the way. My grand-uncle’s ability as a seer included the weather. Gazing heavenward, I realized that there were no storm clouds. It was more of a thick haze. That happened, although rarely. However, when that kind of haze came to the sky it was usually at the end of summer. We had not yet reached Midsummer.
Assuring myself that there was no storm about to break, I moved into the heavier vegetation. Quickly I found a deer trail. I knew it would lead toward the pond, near where Peaches and I found the odd little dog she called Pucker.
The snapping of a twig caused me to stop and look into the brush. After a moment I spotted a pair of tall sandhill cranes. It seemed so odd that the cranes should be there that I decided to follow them.
There was even less light away from the trail. I could tell the tall birds knew I followed them, but my presence didn’t seem to make them nervous. After a while the ground became wet. I walked in ankle deep marshy water. The area reminded me of the thicket that had formed on the east bank of the pond. However, the direction I walked should have taken me beside the pond, not into it.
The sandhill cranes walked up to a gray heron that poked its long beak into the shallows, looking for food. It stretched a sinuous neck to look at me. Something seemed to pass between the heron and the pair of cranes. All three looked back at me, and then moved to dry ground. They looked over their shoulders as if expecting me to go with them. I followed the large birds to a patch of sunlight.
A tall, lanky man stepped out from behind a tree. On thin stalk-like legs, the heron walked up to the man to have its head scratched.
To say I felt uneasy was a vast understatement. However, I relaxed when the man turned his face toward me. Nothing in his manner was like the man I knew, but the face I saw was Catseye Glimmer.
The fleeting smile left my lips when I realized something was very wrong.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he told me.
“Royal Chimera!” a woman’s voice called from far away. “Where are you off to now?”
The man turned at the sound of the odd appellation, but apparently it was his name.
“Coming,” he called in return.
“You should not be here, Bedlam Thunder,” he told me with a frown. “Find your way back home. You’re a creature of color and sunlight. Leave this place before it’s too late,” Royal Chimera warned.
The gray heron stood to his full height and extended amazingly long wings. The beat of the large bird’s wings had a hypnotic effect. With the rhythmic movement of the heron’s wings, the air pressure surged and receded. Light blared and then went dark again. The sensations repeated, making me dizzy. It continued until I could no longer stand.
I swayed. My eyes blurred. Finally I was able to focus. The birds and Royal Chimera were gone, but his warning rang in my ears. I turned back to face the marshy bank. I found three doors where the marshland had been. In that nearly colorless world, the doors glowed with blue light.
Am I to choose a door and enter? I wondered.
Overwhelming ringing filled my ears, just as had happened at the cottage where Peaches Dragonfly lived. I stared at the doors, trying to understand what I should do. The ringing was so loud, I became dizzy.
Large black spots danced before my eyes. I knew I was on the verge of losing consciousness. Although I wasn’t sure why I would move forward or turn back, I stumbled blindly toward the doors. My fingers met the cool surface of a metal doorknob.
Not knowing which of the three doors I touched, I turned the knob.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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