Saturday, July 23, 2022
You’ve reached The Armadillo Files. There is nothing wrong with your electronic device. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Armadillo Files. Stay tuned for zaniness.
Random Reader Things
Some of you know educator and author, Pete Springer. We haven’t seen him here very often, but when this serial began, he left three really fun random reader things. Pete’s three things inspired three complementary things from Robbie Cheadle. I’ve been holding back until I could use their two sets together. Robbie’s will follow next time. Pete’s things are: brothel, toilet paper, and a B-29.
Previously in The Armadillo Files
Last time we learned that the disheveled brunette was the Calutron Girls’ missing dorm-mom and girlfriend of Harry Morgan, Marie Browning. She identified and confirmed that Klaude Frucht was responsible for abducting the girls (and herself). Sesame disclosed that Fang never met up with her, so his whereabouts remain unknown. Meanwhile, Ali Baba has become as discretely curious about Dilly’s ears as her rear-end… Did she say something about longer?
Are you still with me? If you need to refresh your memory, you can always find all the past chapters by going to the categories on the right side of the screen. Click on Armadillo Files.
32 — Who would do that?
The brunette drew a deep but shuddering breath as she described her ordeal. Marie Browning stumbled upon the kidnappers when she came in from a rendezvous with her lover, Harry Morgan. She tried to fight them off and almost succeeded, but she was outnumbered. Because she was relatively young, and quite beautiful, the villains took her as well.
Marie was unkempt, her victory rolls were in disarray, and she was obviously rattled. I thought she was near her breaking point. However, she steeled herself to appear composed enough. She did pretty well, considering she had realized the young women for whom she was responsible were being kidnapped, one by one, and then had been abducted herself — not to mention being yanked across the world and time.
I tried to calm and reassure her. I looked at Ali Baba and Sesame across the room. The two were making plans. I heard them mention Fang, and something about an auction. However, I couldn’t hear anything else they said. Then the giantess started working on something in the recesses of the cave’s secret room.
Marie began to cry quietly. She covered her face when I turned back to her.
“I’ve been no use at all for helping the girls,” Marie mumbled through tears. “They’ve kept me drugged most of the time. Are those men really going to sell them? As slaves? Oh no… that’s as bad as putting them into a brothel. Who would do that? What kind of monster…”
I didn’t know what words of comfort I could give, but I patted her arm supportively. I told her that we were trying to help. Feeling awkward and ill equipped to handle the psychology needed in that situation, I moved behind a screen and changed into the flowing robes and sirwal trousers Ali gave me from that chest of clothing.
The harem pants were so voluminous that I expected to feel like I was swimming in them. I had never carried my weight in my legs and hips. To my surprise, they weren’t all that huge. I put my hands to my thighs, having the odd feeling that they seemed bigger. Although I didn’t feel any taller, I thought Ali was right that my legs seemed longer in proportion to the rest of my body.
When I came out from behind the screen, Sesame and Ali gave their approval. I went to a tall mirror to see for myself. I wondered about the lamp light. It seemed to cast a reddish glow. In the reflection, my hair looked lighter, a reddish yellow with pale russet highlights on the sides.
Trying to get control of herself, Marie asked if there was a place where she could freshen up. I had been very relieved to find that Ali Baba’s secret cave held some modern conveniences, like plumbing. A moment later I heard Marie exclaim.
“Oh, thank God! There’s toilet paper!” came Marie’s voice.
A loud pop startled me. I turned to see Minu and Musa, and other ferrets chasing balloons. Minu burst one. Sesame chided the animals, saying that we needed the balloons. However, she grinned and tossed them more. Then she filled a large cloth sack with the remaining balloons and brought it to me.
“If you carry this sack, it will give you the appearance of a servant, carrying a heavy burden for your mistress, Ali Baba,” Sesame explained. “But filled with balloons, of course, it will not be a problem for you. Also, you will have a handy sack if needed.”
Marie came out of the bathroom. I opened a root beer for her, hoping the caffeine and sugar would help. As she drank thirstily, she provided unexpected information about the girls. More of them had been taken than I ever expected. Marie had counted a dozen girls that she recognized from the Secret City compound. Not all of them were from her dorm, but she was reasonably certain. Besides, their 1940s American clothing set them apart.
“How could Klaude Frucht have taken so many young women across time? Did he steal a B-29 or something? He would have needed to transport them somehow,” I asked and Ali’s expression became rueful.
“It appears that Tumult has advancements in time transport technology that surpasses that of Prime,” Ali replied worriedly. “Although, perhaps he only transported a few of the girls at a time. That is more likely. I hope.”
♦ ♦ ♦
We left Marie in Ali’s secret cave. The woman protested, but Ali Baba made the excuse to her that someone needed to take care of the ferrets.
I expected that it was actually the ferrets who would look after the traumatized woman. Either Frucht or Cassim, or maybe both had given Marie some powerful drugs, and they were still in her system. She was too unsteady and disoriented to go with us.
Sesame went ahead of Ali and me. The very tall woman had her own contacts and her own way of doing things. I slung the big bag of balloons over my shoulder and followed Ali as she threaded through the bazaar.
“The slave auction is just around that corner,” Ali remarked and pointed.
“Yes, I hear the hullabaloo up that way,” I replied, and Ali narrowed her eyes and gave my ears a strange look, just as she had done earlier. “I’ve always had good hearing,” I murmured because her expression made me uncomfortable.
A commotion came from that direction. Voices rose to shouts. I heard a high-pitched scream. Ali and I hurried toward the ruckus.
On a stage, a burly man had someone across his broad shoulder. All I could see of the person was a pantaloon clad buttocks and wildly kicking feet. Those feet wore bright orange velvet curly-toed shoes.
“Let go of me!” the big man bellowed.
I had thought he was forcing the person on his shoulder. Maybe it had started out that way, but as they drew near the auction block, the captive held onto the man for dear life. I heard that scream again. I looked at those orange shoes.
“Fang!” I cried.
Without thinking, in a single motion I pounced to the top of a railing that was four feet tall.
Below, Ali Baba gave a wordless exclamation. Only when I looked down at her did I realize what I had done. I gave a nervous gulp, despite my concern for Fang. I should have been more careful with that timey-wimey watch-looking thing that was supposed to be a substitute for their high-tech metronome. I blamed myself that a curious weasel had stolen it. Sesame’s explanation came back to me.
“Because the device can only slow the side-effects, it keeps a running count of how much time you have left,” Sesame explained in her ironically shy voice.
The bauble had read 13 O’clock. Ali said that meant I had either thirteen minutes, hours, or days before I fully transformed into some kind of unknown animal. Thirteen minutes had already passed, so did I have hours or days remaining?
My excitability was blamed on the impending transformation. I was progressively jumpier physically too, as I had just accidentally demonstrated.
“Oh God, please don’t let me turn into a frog,” I groaned.
♦ ♦ ♦
Holy Hannah! What a mess Fang has gotten into. And why is Dilly so jumpy… literally? Well, I think we know why, so I guess we should ask what she’s going to be…
Episode 33 — “How much is that?” features three things from Robbie Cheadle at Roberta Writes: wine glass, silk rose, and chocolate cake. Tune in next weekend to see how those things impact the story. Hugs on the wing!
♦ ♦ ♦
Dead of Winter has now concluded with Journey 14, The Veil. It is now available!
Dead of Winter — All the Journeys
Universal Purchase Links
Journey 14, The Veil
Journey 13, The Harbor
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 © 2022 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.