Saturday, February 12, 2022
You’ve reached The Armadillo Files. I’m sorry that I’ve been absent from your blogs and social media. Similar to most of my characters I have… issues. Lately it’s been harder than usual for me to deal with them. Thanks to those of you who asked offline about me and about Crystal. The vet said she looks great for 15, but that her bloodwork showed early onset of kidney disease. I will keep a close eye on her, to make sure that she continues to feel okay and have a good quality of life. It’s not something I will mention again — that’s one of my issues. Onward.
Random Reader Things
Today’s random reader things are from a marvelous reader — Ginger. She doesn’t have a blog, but she’s great about being part of my serials. She left a few sets of “three things” for me. Here are the ones that drive this episode: ballet flats, poodle cut, and The Old Man and the Sea (by Hemmingway).
Previously in The Armadillo Files
Somebody somewhere messed around with history. Fang started fading in and out of existence. The feline pilots took Dilly and Fang back in time where they hope to restore the timeline. TROLLEY had said that Henry Apesly was their only hope, but Henry has issues aplenty of his own. We left Fang and Dilly somewhere near Martinsville, West Virginia, not long after the Great Railroad Strike. You can find all the past chapters by going to the categories on the right side of the screen. Click on Armadillo Files.
22 — What are you doing?
Leaving the gazebo, we all hurried back to barn. Henry Apesly had been in that era for quite a while, but Fang and I needed to change clothes before we went any place where we might be seen.
Other than the corset, which I let Fang have, I had to admire TROLLEY’s fashion choices for 1877. I chose a pinstripe button-front top that had a center panel of solid periwinkle blue and ruffles at the elbow length sleeves. The skirt was made of the same pinstripe fabric, with a deep flounce around the hem. Thankfully there was a big fluffy periwinkle bow in back rather than a bustle.
I found a pair of button boots in the pile of things Fang removed from the roadster before the feline pilots left for parts and times unknown. I yelped when I stuck my foot into the narrow boot. My ballet flats were not appropriate to the era, but they would have to suffice. No one would see my shoes under that long skirt anyway.
After hitching the horses to a wagon, Henry settled down into a corner of the barn for a nap. He grumbled that he hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before. Based on the distant sounds of gunfire that had come with him when he made his dramatic entrance into the barn, I figured that was true.
“Fang, where is that garter-transponder doohickey that TROLLEY said I should keep with me?” I asked quietly, not wanting to disturb Henry. “Fang?”
Turning, I saw Fang bend over Henry’s snoozing form. He held a curling iron and scissors.
“What are you doing?” I whispered in a hiss and Fang giggled.
“I’m giving Henry a poodle cut. I know, I know. It’s not appropriate to the era,” he replied, and I groaned. “But it will look darling on him,” he added with a wicked gleam in his eyes.
Henry came awake with a snort. Fang darted away, pretending he had been at the pile of clothing all along, and started changing. Apesly didn’t seem to know anything had happened. I decided the best thing I could do was keep quiet and hope he didn’t see his reflection anywhere.
“I guess we’d better get going,” Henry stated with a yawn, but he gave me an appraising look. “I see you changed. May I say that you look Dilly-ightful?” he punned, and I decided that he might deserve the poodle cut.
“Ouch. I’ve got a crick in my neck,” he went on, and felt around in the pile of straw until he pulled out a book. “Guess I fell asleep reading. Can’t be leaving this behind.”
“More contraband?” I asked with a conspiratorial grin and he nodded.
He handed me the volume. I had to smile. Henry looked like an ape, but he certainly liked his stories. The ragged dustjacket showed a boat on the water. Bold lettering identified the novel as The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. I shook my head, knowing it wasn’t published until 1952.
“How long will it take us to get to Sweetwater, Tennessee?” Fang asked quietly.
My stomach lurched when I saw that he was transparent again.
“Maybe too long,” Henry whispered. “We’d best get going,” he added in a normal voice.
♦ ♦ ♦
We bumped along in the wagon for several days, although it seemed like months. Although based on how sore I was from the rough travel, I would have said it was years. Worse, Fang was going “transparent” more and more often. Once I thought he might fade out completely.
I tried to focus on my relief that no one had bothered us in all that time. Although it was difficult to put the discomfort out of my mind. How had the pioneers ever traveled across the whole country in horse-drawn wagons?
Finally, Henry said we were outside Sweetwater, Tennessee. Our destination, known as the Lost Sea was nearby. We passed a blacksmith shop. In the distance I saw a wooden water tower.
Between bounces, I had to admit that the countryside was beautiful. It was thick with trees. White pines and hickory trees towered over tulip poplars and what I thought were dogwood trees, though they weren’t in bloom. There were sugar maples and hollies… Remember, I’m a botanist. Of course, I was looking at trees and other plants.
Stopping the wagon, Henry hopped out and nimbly scampered up a very tall pine.
“What are you doing?” I called up to him.
“Looking for a trail wide enough for the wagon. Most of them are just pig trails. Ah! There’s what I want,” he said.
A moment later, Henry was in the wagon, clicking his tongue at the horses. We threaded our way along a tight path. Fang brightened, but he had a look that I could only describe as… less. He was not his vivacious, fun-loving, silly self. He was also very quiet. Everything about him was less than it normally was.
After a while, Henry grunted and jumped down from the wagon and ran into the woods. I heard underbrush crashing and then a satisfied nonverbal exclamation.
Fang climbed eagerly from the wagon. He seemed strong enough, despite the vague details that worried me — and the frequent episodes of transparentness.
When we caught up with Henry, he was pushing aside some thick juniper bushes. The prickly foliage didn’t bother him the way it irritated my skin. He revealed what was either a huge boulder or a natural stone wall. However, he shifted his stance oddly. I couldn’t see what he was doing.
Abruptly, I heard a noise like rumbling stone. I flinched and looked upward. The sound made me worry about a landslide. Henry chuckled at me. He gave me a toothy smile as what looked like a slab of rock moved aside.
Apesly walked into the black opening. Fang took my hand and pulled me along into the dark unknown.
♦ ♦ ♦
I love to add a freebie when possible. Today I have a link to the full audio book of The Old Man and the Sea.
Fang is not getting any better. Actually, I think he’s getting worse. Henry used to bully Fang when they were rookies for Prime. Now he’s led our friends to something hidden, and dark. Do we trust him? Tune in for more next weekend.
Elsewhere in the Teagan-verse,
I’m still working on “Dead of Winter: Journey 13,” doing the best I can.
With Valentine’s Day close at hand, if you haven’t read it already, you can get into a very whimsical romantical spirit with “Fiona Finch & the Pink Valentine.” It’s not too late to send Valentines in the form of an e-book.
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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