Saturday, October30, 2021
You’ve reached The Armadillo Files. Stand by for spook-tacular silliness. Yes, I know I’m late. I think all your good wishes brought back my unreliable Internet. Sort of like clapping for Tinkerbell and chanting “I believe in fairies!” In this case, pink fairy armadillos.
The past few episodes of The Armadillo Files started as a promotion last time for Teri Polen’s yearly October festival of horror and suspense. Here’s a link to my visit with her at Bad Moon Rising. However, I decided to have my own three part Halloween celebration. Today we have part 3.
Three Random Reader Things
I’m using more sketches and photos from the wonderful Resa McConaghy. The inspiration driving this chapter comes from Resa’s work as well as a set of “3 things” from another marvelous author, Christine Robinson. Christine’s random reader things for today are Cat-eye glasses, Guitar, and Lemon cottage cheese cake.
Tidbits of Truth
Cottage cheese was a big deal in the World War II Era. It was a great alternative source of protein when meat was in short supply. Learn more about that here. Yes, sometimes cheesecake is made with cottage cheese, especially back then. Here’s a vintage recipe.
Previously in The Armadillo Files
Last time Dilly went exploring, and let us know some details of the World War II Era setting where our heroes have been sent, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Fang was recovering from his encounter with the owl, but then he got worried about supernatural beasts, and ran back inside the trolley-car looking spaceship. You can find all the past chapters by going to the categories on the right side of the screen. Click on Armadillo Files.
Like I said, I know this is late. It’s “fresh off the presses,” and I haven’t even proofread it. So ignore any mistakes and enjoy the story. Without further ado…
11 — Who said I was scared?
Adding an invigorating aroma to the air in the crew quarters, TROLLEY waited for the operative and the human woman to rouse. No wakeup order had been given.
It had been a long time since TROLLEY had developed the capacity for intuitive thought. The artificial intelligence recognized both the desire of occupants to sleep, as well as the inconvenience and lack of efficiency that could result. Adding a stimulating scent to the atmosphere was TROLLEY’s compromise.
TROLLEY soon detected activation of the sonic shower. Then there was humming from the human, Delilah Faraday.
Dilly, TROLLEY reminded itself.
“Get out!” the irate scream resounded from the human.
The operative had disobeyed the woman’s order to stay out of the sonic shower while she used it. TROLLEY controlled the sudden urge to electrify the floor where Pinkerton stood. That would remind him. However, doing so was questionable protocol.
Tatu Pinkerton stumbled into the cabin he called the kitchen. He walked right into a chair, murmured “Excuse me,” and then began going through the upper cabinets. He opened a container, dumping some of the contents directly into his mouth.
“Bleh! Uncooked oatmeal,” he complained. “TROLLEY, why aren’t my lenses back online yet. My nearsightedness side-effect hasn’t gotten any better.”
“As previously stated, replication resources have been reallocated to essentials,” TROLLEY replied. “Try these spectacles.”
A half-sphere cover rose up from one counter. Pinkerton lifted it to reveal a pair of wire-rimmed eyeglasses. He affixed them to his face. Meanwhile Dilly Faraday came into the kitchen, unnoticed by the operative.
“TROLLEY, honey… These don’t seem to be much of an improvement,” he protested. “Everything looks weird.”
“If you’re half blind when you keep walking in on me in the shower, then I could almost forgive you. Almost,” Dilly said from right behind him.
Startled, he turned. Then he screamed a long wail.
“Sweet Time Manatees! Dilly, you scared me to death! Your face is all wavery. One eye is higher than the other, and drippy looking. Holy Venusian snails,” he exclaimed, hurriedly taking off the eyeglasses.
“Your eye prescription must have changed while you were disguised as an armadillo of the pink fairy species. Try these,” TROLLEY suggested.
The rounded covering lowered beneath the counter. Seconds later it rose up again. Curiosity painting her face, Dilly lifted the cover. She picked up the cat-eye glasses that TROLLEY carefully selected to complement the operative’s preference in clothing.
“Aren’t those women’s glasses,” Dilly asked, touching the clusters of rhinestones at the corners.
“Huh? Oh, who cares. They’re stunning. And I can actually see now,” the operative replied. “Thank you, TROLLEY.”
“Time Rate Oscillation Lithium Link Enabler Yttrion, TROLLEY, awaiting instructions.”
“Yes, I know who you are,” Tatu Pinkerton snapped.
♦ ♦ ♦
Watching Fang in those cat-eye glasses, I had to shake my head. The artificial intelligence thingamajig was right about them matching his misguided fashion sense. Though the zoot suit was actually appropriate to the time. Then again, I had my doubts about how many men around Oak Ridge, Tennessee would wear such a getup.
I spent most of the day trying to figure out how to make sure the transformed spaceship would look like trolley cars converted to an “entertainment establishment.” It wasn’t that I didn’t trust the information from which the TROLLEY worked. It was just that I had seen that it could easily be… applied incorrectly.
My first task was a menu. I confirmed that TROLLEY could produce a range of food and drinks on a moment’s notice. Even so, I decided it was best to keep the menu limited.
I was a child when World War II ended. I didn’t really remember the rationing, and my knowledge of foods of the day was limited to things my family ate. I would have to cross my fingers, and depend on TROLLEY’s guidance.
One thing I did remember was cottage cheese. I actually still had yen for it occasionally. The first dessert I wanted on the menu was a lemon cottage cheese cake.
TROLLEY produced a sample. Greedily, I cut myself a generous slice. Then Fang proceeded to cut one three times that size.
Later we sent him outside to select places for signs, leading the way to the bar.
“Save this one to go up on the roadside,” I suggested.
“Now Open, The Pink Armadillo,” he read the sign aloud. “Why I’m touched. I wonder whose idea it was to name it after me?”
It was late afternoon when I heard Fang outside, hammering the last sign into the ground about a hundred feet away from the door.
Just as I heard him shriek, I heard the sounds of young voices calling, “Trick or treat?”
TROLLEY quickly produced a tray of candied apples. I headed for the door, carrying them. Fang was halfway up the stairs, stumbling repeatedly.
I beheld three costumed children. A short Frankenstein laughed at Fang’s silliness. A little singing cowboy, complete with toy guitar, took it too seriously and started to cry.
Then I saw the reason for Fang’s panic. The third trick-or-treater wore an owl costume. It was an owl mask with a robe that had wide kimono sleeves. When the kid held out her arms and flapped them, the sleeves were actually pretty good wings. Someone had painted feather designs all over the robe.
“Calm down. It’s not a real owl,” I caught Fang’s arm and whispered.
“Ha! So you say. What makes you so sure?” he asked indignantly.
“It has human feet,” I replied pointing at the saddle oxfords.
As I passed around the candied apples, I considered how far off the road the “Pink Armadillo” was. I remembered the location of the recreation hall inside the Secret City. There was probably a Halloween party there for the kiddy club. Those three were a long way from where I would have expected to find them.
“You kids aren’t out here by yourselves, are you?” I asked, peering into the encroaching twilight, hoping to spot an adult chaperone.
“Whoo-who wants to know?” asked the owl, in character.
Fang jumped backward about six feet.
“We got lost,” said the cowboy, starting to cry again.
“My big sister was supposed to take us around,” Frankenstein replied, caramel stuck to the green face-paint of his nose. “She told us not to move, and then headed into the bushes. I figured that she needed to tinkle… but she didn’t come back when I called out. So we started looking for her. Then we got lost…” he trailed off, and I thought he might cry too.
“TROLLEY might be able to locate the sister,” Fang whispered, and I nodded.
“Are your parents back at the rec center?” I asked and was rewarded by eager nods from all three kids. “Okay then, let’s take you back there. Mr. Pinkerton will start looking for your sister,” I told Frankenstein. “Don’t worry. I’m sure she’s fine.”
Fang and I exchanged an uneasy look. I didn’t think the older girl would have left the children alone. There might be more than one kind of boogie man in those woods.
♦ ♦ ♦
Glen Gray – Boogie Woogie Man
♦ ♦ ♦
Happy Halloween! May the boogie man be good to you. Hugs on the wing!
♦ ♦ ♦
In other news, the October issue of Dead of Winter is now available. Here are some of the characters.
Dead of Winter — All the Journeys
Universal Purchase Links
Journey 10, Pergesca
Journey 9, Doors of Attunement
Journey 8, The Lost Library
Journey 7, Revenant Pass
Journey 6, The Fluting Fell
Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls
Journey 4, The Old Road
Journey 3, the Fever Field
Journey 2, Penllyn
Journey 1, Forlorn Peak
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 © 2021 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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