Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Welcome back to Hidebound Hump Day, my chuckaboos! Right now, I’m sitting in the floor, surrounded by boxes, trying to lasso all the phone calls I need to make, and accounts that need address changes, and… I can see that it is more than I can do in the next three days, when I combine it with the other details of moving house.
Of course Murphy’s Law is in full force and the insurance agent screwed up something, getting my insurance cancelled and so getting me in trouble with the mortgage company for my long awaited home.
I thought I would hit the 2,000 mile highway this weekend, but there is snow in my weather forecast again. My agoraphobic self is teetering on the edge of the very tall cliff of a big freak-out. That said, as much as my spirit needs your comments, I had to close them today, because I can’t answer them and handle the mountain of moving tasks that is about to tumble down onto my head.
So, let’s get straight to the #steampunk submarine.
Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers
Chapter 30. Cal Hicks, the ape version of Calvin Hixon, showed our heroes to the laboratory of the purple world’s Cornelis Drebbel. Just before they went inside, the bloodcurdling hunting call of the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater was heard. They ran to the laboratory to hide.
Chapter 31. Viola, Cal’s housekeeper, echoed the amethyst ape’s sudden inhalation, putting a hand to her mouth. “No. You can’t mean that very small green creature is going out to confront the giant one eyed one horned flying purple people eater!” the violet chimpanzee housekeeper exclaimed. “Why the poor little thing won’t last a minute. Please! Can’t you call him back?”
Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers
32 — Silver Locket, Green Chartreuse, Salmon Coulibiac
Cornelis Drebbel wore a grave expression as Absinthe popped off to confront the Purple Fairy — also known as the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater. Our ape host and his housekeeper continued to murmur worriedly about the safety of the tiny Green Fairy.
I looked at the Dutchman. His mouth twitched. Then he smirked. As I drew a breath to ask him what the devil he was thinking, Cornelis burst out laughing. What preposterous behavior! I was speechless, my question utterly forgotten.
Viola clutched a silver locket suspended from a chain around her neck. A tear from her good eye trickled down her cheek. She looked like she might swoon again. Cal Hicks patted her shoulder, trying to comfort the violet chimpanzee.
She was so distraught that I said the first thing that came to my mind, meaning to distract her.
“What’s that pretty thing you have there?” I asked, meaning the locket she held tightly.
Viola sniffled and nodded as if she acknowledged the fact that she should compose herself. Then she opened the locket. Within was a narrow plait of reddish purple hair.
“It belonged to my son. He perished that day,” she explained softly and touched the corner of her glass eye. “I wasn’t able to protect him!” she added on a wail. “Oh that lovely fluffy green fae, so unique and beautiful. And he’s so noble too,” she said with a glare at Cornelis who was still chuckling.
I was stunned that the alchemist would laugh when Absinthe had left in such a state. Could the Green Fairy really mean to sacrifice himself, as Viola and Cal assumed?
Cal Hicks cleared his throat. A parade of expressions marched across the amethyst ape’s face. He looked confused, then appalled, and then scandalized before his features turned again to a perplexed expression.
“Lord of Alchemy,” the ape began but stopped to clear his throat again. “Is the Green Fae so powerful that you have no concern for his safety?” Cal asked sincerely. “Even against the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater?”
“The little fellow’s poots are perniciously powerful!” Cornelis exclaimed with delight, but no one laughed. “Absinthe is—” Cornelis paused as if he chose his words carefully. “Absinthe has encountered the Purple Fairy before. He’s well aware of the creature’s capabilities.”
“That would explain why the poor little thing seemed so sad!” Viola exclaimed in a sarcastic and irate tone before sinking back into her usually reserved manner.
The Dutchman laughed again, but he finally seemed to grasp how truly dismayed Cal and Viola were. His mouth twisted any number of ways as he fought unsuccessfully to contain his mirth. I thought he was about to explain his incomprehensible attitude. However, he became serious immediately when he turned to see the reason for a loud behhh from the lavender alpine goat.
Copper had said she wasn’t feeling well, and neither was I. Cornelis said it was the physical effect of our doppelgängers being too close. In the scant moment since the girl sat down on the floor, she had completely lost consciousness. The lavender goat made a sound that was very similar to a baby’s cry as she nuzzled Copper’s bright new-penny colored hair.
I sank to the floor beside Copper. The truth is I meant to kneel beside the girl, but I was in a poor state myself. Once my body started downward, I had little control over it. I put my hand to Copper’s forehead. However, she seemed neither warm nor cold. Abruptly I realized that we both had the same condition, and perhaps we also had the same temperature, whatever that was. My thinking was foggy and I found it irritating to try and reason out the situation.
I put my fingers to Copper’s wrist, feeling her pulse. It was very slow. Cornelis deduced something with a single glance. The alchemist vanished with a sharp pop, but he reappeared almost immediately.
He knelt down beside Copper. Cornelis produced several crystal shot glasses and a bottle of liquor. He poured green liquid into three of the shot glasses, handing two of them to Cal Hicks and Viola.
“Go ahead,” the Dutchman encouraged them. “Drink up. It will set you straight — fortify your nerves,” he added and they obediently drank.
He offered me the third glass. I felt woozier by the minute. Adding the effects of alcohol seemed like a bad idea.
“What is it?” I inquired.
“Green Chartreuse,” he supplied the name of the liquor. “Um, maybe you’re right,” Cornelis muttered as if he knew what was on my mind, and then he upended the shot glass of green spirits himself.
“Ah yes…” Cornelis sighed. “That’s better.”
The alchemist asked Cal Hicks for the ape’s harmonic tuner. It was similar to the one Copper cherished as a gift from her father, except Cal’s tuner didn’t have three mystic monkeys postured to see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil. Rather it had three mystic humans in the poses.
Cal Hicks wore a worried but excited expression as he handed the alchemist the mystic humans tuner. Cornelis examined the ape’s tuner and a bemused expression briefly came to his face. He poured another glass of the Green Chartreuse. Then he held the device over the liquor and delicately flicked the harmonic tuner with his fingernail.
The tuner produced a very quiet sound that steadily grew in volume and resonance. The glass of Chartreuse vibrated until the tone from the crystal shifted to match the tone from the harmonic tuner. I saw a green aura surround the glass.
Giving my head a sharp shake to clear it, I nearly fell over. Cornelis glanced at me briefly, still intent on the glass of green liquor. The vibration stopped as the tone dissipated. Cornelis took a spoon from his jacket pocket.
I blinked hard, thinking something was wrong with my vision — after all, the effects of my amethyst world double being nearby wreaked havoc with all my senses. I started to think the green aura was actually the color of the sound produced by the tuner! It seems strange to say, but I could also taste the sound. It was like coarsely ground raw sugar.
The alchemist started to speak to me but twisted his mouth in a derisive expression.
“Never mind,” he commented though he hadn’t said anything else to me. “Your hands won’t be steady. Cal, could you get Copper sitting up and help me get two spoonsful of this into her?” he asked, meaning the alchemically treated Chartreuse.
“I’ll do it,” Voila insisted, following Cal Hicks to the girl. “Sometimes a small medicinal dose of spirits can benefit a child.”
The alchemist’s eyes were still on the green liquid when he replied to Viola.
“It is liquor no longer. The vibrations from the harmonic tuner have transformed the green Chartreuse,” Cornelis informed us.
In a moment Copper was resting unconscious in Viola’s lap as Cal held her mouth open. Faster than humanly possible, Cornelis had two spoons of the green liquid in her mouth. Viola pushed the girl’s mouth close, and gently stroked Copper’s throat, easing the liquid down and into her system.
“Felicity, drink the rest of it,” Cornelis instructed, handing me the shot glass of special Chartreuse.
I’ve described the effect of my doppelgänger being too near as a combination of lightheadedness and an odd hollow feeling at my heart. My hands really were shaking, that hadn’t just been Cornelis taking a jab at me. I tried not to spill the green liquid down my chest — I had only packed one other shirt.
I downed the contents of the crystal shot glass. At first I felt nothing from it. I looked at Copper. She was still unmoving in Viola’s care. After a moment I saw the girl’s hand move. However, I looked away when something suddenly surged up inside me. The hollow feeling at my heart seemed to stretch, becoming bigger and longer until it was pulled outside of me. I staggered and found myself prostrate on the floor.
Yet within seconds my head felt clear. The hollowness was gone and I felt solid, complete inside. I turned to see Copper. The girl was sitting up petting the lavender goat.
“Copper, thank goodness,” I murmured. “How are you feeling?” I asked.
She looked at me as if she was about to say something that surprised her.
“I know it hasn’t been long since we had that very nice tea, but I’m hungry,” she said emphatically.
My stomach growled as if in answer and I realized that I was famished too. Cornelis smirked and raised one bushy blonde eyebrow at the sound from my tummy.
“It’s a side effect of that particular alchemy. Everything you’ve eaten today was consumed by the spell,” he informed.
Viola smiled broadly. She may have been helpless to cure our condition a moment before, but she knew how to remedy an empty stomach.
“I have a lovely salmon coulibiac waiting. We can have dinner early,” the violet chimpanzee said, sounding very pleased with herself.
Everyone smiled and laughed. However, the moment of relief was cut short.
A thundering roar split the air. The sound was so loud that the laboratory building shook. Dust motes rained down from the high dome. Whatever made that sound had to be tremendous.
A broad gout of flames shot past the long row of windows, scorching the ground in front of the laboratory. I knew it wasn’t safe, but I couldn’t stop myself from running to the windows. Where the sky had previously been dotted with pastel lavender clouds, now the beast that made that resounding roar took up my field of vision.
For just an instant I thought I saw a sun, but the sun had a black slit in the center. A purple cover blinked down and I gasped. It was a golden eye — a single eye. Its proximity to the window was so close that when the great beast snorted the window shook. It gave another contemptuous snort as it backed up enough for me to see the face of the cyclops-looking creature. On its forehead, above that eye was a fat curved onyx horn.
Flapping broad wings, the creature rose heavenward. The entire sky seemed to be occupied by an immense one eyed one horned purple dragon.
“A dragon?” I gasped.
“It’s the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater,” Viola said with a shudder.
A tiny green blur shot up thirty feet from the ground. Absinthe. The Green Fairy looked too small to even be a snack for the titanic purple dragon.
Although I couldn’t explain what it was about Absinthe that made me believe it was so, he still seemed to be resigned to his fate. The tiny fairy was fatalistically unafraid.
I couldn’t imagine what good it would do for little Absinthe to confront the giant purple fairy. I knew he was able, along with Cornelis, to power the submarine. I had seen him do small magic, like levitating things and making a shield around Copper when the submarine spun out of control. However, I couldn’t imagine how he could hope to fight a huge dragon.
Absinthe must have used some kind of magic to boost his volume, because the little sounds he typically made were easily audible to us inside the laboratory. He shrieked at the dragon in a forceful tone. The beast roared, and its breath blew the Green Fairy back quite a distance.
In a green streak, Absinthe zipped back closer than before to the purple dragon. The chirping from Absinthe took on a consolatory tone. For a moment I thought he was negotiating. A contained rumble came from inside the dragon and I feared it was about to produce another gout of flame. Then I realized it was more of a low growl of anger.
Something in the tones of the two fairies made me believe they knew one another quite well, despite one being tiny and green and the other being huge and purple — and that there was some sort of bad blood between the two. That was even worse. The Green Fairy facing the gigantic purple people eater was horrible, but for the tiny skunk-looking fae to contend with a tremendous creature that was angry with him — that was much worse.
“They know each other!” I exclaimed.
Cornelis nodded his head. I was aghast to see that the Dutchman was once again holding back his laughter.
“Oh yes,” Cornelis said, drawing out the words. “He knows her alright.”
To my consternation, the alchemist even snorted.
“Cornelis Drebbel!” I yelled despite myself. “How can you be so callous? Absinthe has been your friend for centuries!” I cried, but my volume dwindled when I realized there was more to what Cornelis said.
“Wait, wait,” I said, backtracking. “You said she? She! Do you mean to say that is a… a she-purple people eater?” I demanded astounded.
Cornelis twisted his mouth to one side and raised both of his bushy eyebrows.
“Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d. Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d,” he quoted Shakespeare.
The purple people eater flapped her broad wings and arched her back, fiercely roaring heavenward. Then she belched an enormous ball of fire that spread out above her and Absinthe like a lethal flaming dome. Suddenly, both Absinthe and the purple fairy dropped from the sky, the burning dome hurtling downward, ever closer to them.
The fire was so bright that it dazzled my eyes. I could only see glowing spots. As I stood there blinking I felt someone rush past me.
“Lord of Alchemy!” Call Hicks yelled as Cornelis used one of his tricks to run right through the door without opening it.
“Cornelis, no!” I screamed. “You’ll be burned to a crisp!”
Video: Jerry Lee Lewis – Great Balls Of Fire.AVI
Real World Notes
Green Chartreuse. This yellow-green liqueur was made by the Carthusian Monks beginning in 1737. Legend says that only three monks know the recipe at any given time.
Research indicates that the monks made it according to the instructions set out in a manuscript given to them by François Annibal d’Estrées, all the way back in 1605. The liqueur was named for the monks’ Grande Chartreuse monastery, which is located in the Chartreuse Mountains near Grenoble in France.
Chartreuse gets its distinct taste from flowery herbs and roots. Mix it with champagne to give your bubbles a green glow and earthy undertones.
CHANGE Dash my wig: Exclamation of dismay. “Dash my wig! Nothing good will come of that.”
One and a peppermint drop: When a person has only one eye.
Orf chump: No appetite.
Will Cornelis perish along with tiny Absinthe and the one eyed purple dragon? Be at the port when the steampunk submarine docks next time, and find out!
Now some shameless self-promotion.
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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.
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