Saturday, January 8, 2022
You’ve reached The Armadillo Files. Stand by for zaniness. I think a new character is on the horizon.
Random Reader Things
Today’s random reader things are from Pat at eQuips blog. They are Pigtails, Saddle Shoes, and Corset.
Previously in The Armadillo Files
Marie Browning’s name disappeared from the employee list for the Secret City. Then Fang started to fade in and out of existence. This strange trip started in 1959, but then they were sent back to the early 1940s. Now they’ve gone even farther back… but when and where? The feline pilots returned, and now we don’t know where, or when they took Fang and Dilly. You can find all the past chapters by going to the categories on the right side of the screen. Click on Armadillo Files.
19 — When is here?
The tumbling, whirling sensation dissipated. I wasn’t sure about the ropes of light, because all I could see were brightly colored spots. Emphasis on bright. I rubbed my eyes, but large multi-hued spots covered my vision.
My nose detected a rather pungent odor. It triggered an image of a girl with pigtails flashed through my thoughts — my cousin. Then the childhood memory of visiting her grandparent’s farm came to mind. Yes, a farm. Hay?
The ginger kitten on the seat beside me started to pace. Frances mewed in a questioning tone. The feline pilot, Peggy Sue meowed shortly. The multi-colored lights winked out and the kitten jumped from the alien machine that looked like a roadster.
A moment later I heard faint sounds of scratching in the hay. Then the kitten zoomed back to the car, tail arched as she ran. It reminded me of the way cats sometimes run pell-mell out of their litterboxes.
Frances hopped onto the front seat, right into Fang’s lap. She mewed at him as if demanding the seat. Peggy Sue’s tail lashed, and she gave me a stink-eye glare that I took for an order to vacate my seat.
Fang looked thin. I don’t mean that he had lost weight. On and off, he sometimes seemed… transparent, to varying degrees. I gulped back my worry.
“Is he going to be okay?” I asked the Peggy Sue.
“Dilly Faraday, this is the only chance we have to keep him on our plane of existence,” came the voice of TROLLEY from the radio. Or at least it looked like a car’s radio.
“This mission is not in compliance with the edicts of Prime. I could be deleted for instigating it. Such is the price of independent thought,” the artificial intelligence said softly. “Peggy Sue and Frances could also face grave consequences. Therefore, my ability to communicate with you while you are in this time will be virtually nil,” TROLLEY continued. “If this unofficial mission is successful, then operative Pinkerton will be fine. Prime will not punish anyone for a success, regardless of human perceptions of hypocrisy.”
“Inside the trunk of the roadster you will find clothing appropriate to this era. Dilly Faraday, your saddle shoes and frock will not be suitable. There is also a transponder attached to a garter. Keep it with you at all times,” TROLLEY went on. “Activate it when the mission is complete — or if operative Pinkerton ceases to exist, and the physical support auxiliary pilots will return for you.”
“Wait a minute!” I cried. “You can’t mean to leave us alone here. And when is here anyway?”
I glanced worriedly at Fang. It was unlike him to be silent, particularly considering what TROLLEY had just said. Ordinarily, he would have made some kind of sassy comment. However, he had quietly gotten out of the roadster, and sat disconsolately on the floor. Or was it ground? A straw covered floor, I realized after the spots left my eyes. We were in a large barn.
“I realize you need help,” TROLLEY replied. “It is unfortunate that I only had one resort, given the impropriety of our situation. Your only hope is Henry Apesly.”
“What? TROLLEY, you can’t be serious. Henry never liked me. When we were in training together, he stuffed me into a locker or dunked me in a toilet at least once a week!” Fang protested in a burst of energy that was more like his usual manner. “I thought he was dismissed from Prime. Why would he agree to help me?”
“Operative Apesly’s dismissal was an erroneous rumor, one that was probably started by Prime. There was a glitch, and he was stuck in mid-transformation. Prime decided it was best to leave him in the time period of that aborted mission. I have agreed to do all I can to help him become fully human again. In return, he must help you and Dilly Faraday,” TROLLEY explained.
Meanwhile the feline pilots had dug the clothing and other items out of the roadster’s trunk. Everything lay in a big heap amid the straw.
Fang glared accusingly toward the car. He grabbed the pile of clothes, so large that it trailed on every side of his arms. With his elbow, he urged me away from the car. An instant later the multi-colored ropes of light erupted from nowhere, enveloping the roadster, beginning this time at its frontend. In a moment of blinding brilliance, the car disappeared.
Pink-haired head bent over the bundle, Fang began looking through the clothing, muttering as he picked up each article. He held an old-fashioned whalebone corset against himself, looking down as if he imagined whether it would be flattering.
“I think that’s probably meant for me, but you are more than welcome to it,” I muttered wryly.
Rather than making a sarcastic retort or playful remark, he sank down to the floor. He gave me a sad puppy-dog look.
“This is terrible. It would be better to just fade away,” he complained. “Henry… How could TROLLEY do such a thing to me? If he’s stuck in mid-transformation, there’ll be no end to his monkeying around.”
Discretely I tiptoed to peer out a window. I wondered where, and more importantly when we were. The assortment of clothing TROLLEY gave us had me worried. How far back had we gone?
The view beyond the window didn’t enlighten me. All I could see was empty countryside. We were in a barn, so there must be a house nearby. Maybe it was on the other side of the barn.
“I get that he bullied you, Fang, and I’m sorry. That’s inexcusable. But other than that, why are you so distraught? Although meeting up with anybody who has bullied you is plenty to be upset about. I promise you that he’ll have to get through me first if he tries to mess with you again,” I remarked firmly. “At least we’ll have some help. Stuck in mid-transformation?”
I pondered how that would look. After Fang changed from the pink fairy armadillo, for a while he was a little shorter, and he had the armadillo tail. Although I had the feeling that the tail could come and go as he wished.
“So, this operative… what form was he stuck in? Or part-way stuck?” I asked, suddenly feeling uneasy about the myriad possibilities that ran through my mind.
A distant bang interrupted whatever Fang would have answered. It was followed by more bangs, each of which sounded closer. Then thundering hooves could be heard, closer and closer. I glanced apprehensively at Fang.
Abruptly, the barn door crashed open. A horse galloped inside. It reared as it skidded to a stop, hay flying into the sun light that came with the opening of the door.
Silhouetted by the light, a stocky figure crouched over the horse’s arched neck.
Gradually, my vision adjusted to the light. Eyes bulging, I sucked in a noisily sharp breath!
♦ ♦ ♦
Our heroes seem to be in a real pickle. TROLLEY has put herself in danger of “deletion” and their only possible help used to be hateful to Fang. Plus, that person is stuck part way between human and… what? Does that make him less useful? Maybe even a liability? Tune in for more next weekend. Hugs on the wing!
The history, particularly military aspects of this story probably make it difficult… However, this story isn’t really about religion or politics. So, please remember that this is my sanctuary — a place for all of us to be safe and away from political and religious commentary. Kindly keep that in mind with your comments.
Journey 12 of Dead of Winter is now available.
Dead of Winter — All the Journeys
Universal Purchase Links
Journey 12, Goddesses
Journey 11, the Sumelazon Escarpment
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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