Saturday, August 15, 2020
Forgive my hasty intro, my chuckaboos. I hope you can also overlook the lack of illustrations. They are usually a big part of my posts. However, my “technical difficulties” made it more than hard enough to even post a chapter.
This week’s things:
Influence of the Delta Pearl from Dan Antion https://nofacilities.com/
Purdonium from Barb Taub https://barbtaub.com/
Without further ado…
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 45 — Intone
Victor T. Elam scooped up Cal, where the clockwork horse repeatedly walked against the boiler room door. I threw the lever and opened the hatch. The reverberation of the ancient tones engulfed us.
“What ever you do, don’t sing!” I told Victor.
“My voice isn’t all that bad,” he defended himself. “Besides, I don’t know the words anyway.”
“There aren’t words. Just don’t make any singing sounds,” I snapped.
It was rather similar to walking into an opium den, but the drug was music. Although, I wouldn’t want the Captain to know I had any idea what such a thing was. He might not believe that my only knowledge of that depravity came from reading books.
That was not ordinary music. You could see the music. It was a biproduct of the riverboat’s magic. Blue John’s tuning forks vibrated and glowed in a rainbow of cascading colors that shot across the room. There were no instruments, only voices.
A small group of crewmembers sat in the midst of the colors, surrounding the tuning forks.
I should not have been surprised to find Jet Fischer there. I knew that he would be bonded to the Delta Pearl eventually, but I never expected it to happen so soon. That was a tremendous decision for the erstwhile librarian from Cairo, Illinois. The influence of the riverboat was such that the connection would last a lifetime ― sometimes more.
With each line, the six-tone scale escalated one degree higher. The tones didn’t feel complete to me. Captain Cecil Perlog’s resounding bass was missing.
(The Captain had gone ashore to get Eliza Needleman released from police custody. Eliza was arrested when she flaunted her soaking wet, pantaloon-clad person as a means of diverting law enforcement’s attention from Alison Ritchie, the runaway wife. The passengers and most of the crew knew her as the boy, Alex.)
In addition to Blue John Boulton’s perfect pitch, the Dealer was there. His voice was so versatile that he could hit most notes, high or low. However, his bass didn’t have the wholeness of the Captain’s song.
Rich, pure, and high, like a spoon striking a fine crystal goblet, Opal’s voice complemented the sound. The ancient woman rarely left her work. For more years than anyone aboard could remember, the fragile, almost ethereal looking woman had kept the secrets of all the artifacts of the riverboat, including the clockwork creatures.
Her cloud of loosely held silver hair shifted as she stood. She moved to the furnace where Obsidian Durango took coal from an elaborately decorated purdonium. Opal opened the furnace so the Cadet could add the fuel.
“Émeraude!” Sid exclaimed, suddenly noticing me. “What are you doing bubbling around in your nightgown?”
The confluence of rivers had a profound effect on the Delta Pearl. I knew she had been exposed to it for too long if the paddlewheel needed the coal to supplement its power. Regardless, we could not leave until the Captain returned.
My mind plodded past the overwhelming power of the tones. I scanned the room for the tiny copper scarab. A glint of purple drew my eyes to the ceiling. It was Amethyst. I wasn’t surprised she had gotten there ahead of us.
The copper pest darted above my young inventor’s head. It flew toward the tuning forks.
Victor stood entranced by the music. Despite my warning, the inventor started to hum. It was an unconscious thing, not a deliberate action. I tried to shush him, but he was beyond any state where he could hear my voice.
“Crazy Horse” Cal broke free of his grasp and bounded to the floor, in pursuit of the tiny clockwork scarab.
Amethyst swung from a fine silver thread. She did not catch the miniature scarab, but she did knock it off course.
Opal’s languid eyes became intense as they locked onto the scarab. She shifted her stance to the other side of the furnace door.
Cal chased the scarab, leaping up from the floor as he snapped at it. Amethyst swung again, knocking the copper bug into the furnace. The clockwork horse was right behind the scarab.
Opal slammed the door shut with one hand and twitched her heavy skirts out of the way with the other. A sizzle-pop sound came from beyond the furnace door.
“Cal!” I cried.
Opal shot me a warning glance. I knew it would be dangerous, particularly for Jet, if I did anything to disrupt the bonding.
The elderly woman took the Cadet’s hand and pulled him with her, back to the other singers. While I merely assumed more voices were needed, I was certain that Opal knew what she was doing.
Obsidian’s expression looked foggy but bemused, as if he was arfarfan’arf. Such was the effect of the ancient tones. Sid was as much a part of the crew as any of the singers, but he was not usually part of the circle. He was unaccustomed to functioning with the musical presence.
Where the singers circled the tuning forks, the colors of the music streamed wildly. Jet Fischer tilted his head back, as though he could see the heavens. A rich note emanated from his mouth and it became an iridescent flow of color, but dark like the jet gemstone for which he was named. While black was the absence of all light, it was the presence of all color. The dark rainbow rose up to join the other colors that filled the boiler room.
Victor’s hum became fully intoned notes from his tenor voice. He stepped into the circle. Like the gemstone earring in his left ear, strands of vibrant shades of blue emerged from his mouth, joining the rest of the music.
Then I remembered his middle initial. The T was for Topaz.
Opal’s voice shifted a degree higher. At first, I thought she took a step to the side, but she had not. However, her velvet skirt moved even though she remained still.
End Chapter 45
I hope you’ll take a moment to leave a friendly comment. Although, as things are, I’m afraid I’ll be slow to respond. Be well, be happy, my chuckaboos.
This serial is made possible in spite of (not because of) the deplorable lack of Internet service from TDS Telecom. They are even worse than the government about claiming no problem exists in the face of failure. TDS Telecom meets every complaint and service call by saying they find no problem. Their technicians come to my home and refuse to do any work or replace equipment, even when their offsite managers have instructed them to do so. They brought equipment that they openly state does not work properly. They refuse to let me talk to a manager. They refuse to promise to send someone other than the previous do-nothing tech. They refuse to make sure the technicians have working hardware with them. My letters, emails, and tweets go unanswered. Dear readers, please do not comment here in response to this paragraph. Just be aware of my awful experience with this so called provider.
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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