Saturday, August 6, 2022
Welcome. You’ve reached Teagan’s Books. The Time Manatees have intercepted your transmission. There is nothing wrong with your electronic device. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. The Forty Ferrets are controlling this 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
This serial is almost finished. To give myself a change, my next project involves images, rather than “things.” Recently I asked photographers and artists to send me (via email or through links where the images are posted) three images that are “generally related” one another (unlike the randomness of the reader things I need for serials). I’ll use them to inspire short stories. Resa McConaghy responded with several, including the one above. I can imagine this fountain near the bazar where we left Dilly, Fang, Ali Baba, and Sesame. However, we’ll see what new story her photos inspire.
I’m still accepting images to inspire the upcoming series of short stories.
Resa is a multi-talented designer, artist, and finder of fabulous murals. She shares some of her lovely things at Graffiti Lux Art & More. Resa’s three random reader things to drive this episode are: Purple Heart, aerosol hairspray, and 45 RPM record.
Previously in The Armadillo Files
Previously, Ali Baba and Dilly found Fang on stage, at the auction block, in deep trouble. Sesame came to his rescue, and believe me — nobody was going to mess with her. Meanwhile Dilly hasn’t exactly jumped out of her skin, to transform… but she seems to be getting a lot closer. And what about the kidnapped Calutron Girls?
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.
34 — Why do you have that?
Glaring and snarling, Sesame faced down the villains. Even the tallest of men could have stood under her armpits. Although I doubted that any of them would have willingly confronted anything so fierce and angry, no matter her height.
Fang hung limply in the arms of the giantess. He appeared to have fainted when Sesame bounded onto the stage and swept him away from the slave auction block. I couldn’t help wondering if he was well. It could be hard to tell when he got overly dramatic.
If he was injured, then he deserved a Purple Heart for going into harm’s way alone, trying to help the kidnapped girls — no matter how foolish it had been.
“Quickly, while all is in confusion,” Ali told me, motioning for me to follow her.
We made our way through the crowd. Ali slowed for me to catch up when the cloth sack of balloons I carried was too big to easily go through a tight spot. We hurried to the back of the building.
I gave a sigh of relief when I saw that Sesame stood there, arguing with Fang. He told her that we had to get the captive girls away from the place. She looked extremely put out, but the giantess relented.
“Did you do something to your hair, Dilly? I like the lighter color, but the way you styled it makes your ears look too big,” Fang remarked, but Ali Baba didn’t give him time for chitchat.
Muttering a curse, Ali pointed at an unsavory looking man. She identified him as one of Cassim’s henchmen. She urged us to get on with it. However, the bag holding the balloons got caught on a nail. At least it didn’t pop any of them. That would have drawn attention to us.
“Leave it,” Ali stated. “That part of your disguise is no longer needed.”
When I let go of the cloth bag, all the balloons fell out. They bounced and scattered across the floor. Sesame’s previous remark about a sack being handy came back to me. I turned back, grabbed the cloth and gave it a hard yank. The bag tore free of the nail. I jumped. At that point, any little thing startled me. I hurried to the others.
I heard the sounds of footsteps. Cassim’s men were undoubtedly coming to investigate. Then the balloons started to pop as the men blundered into them. It provided a good distraction. We ran.
“Come with me. If the girls are as drugged as their dorm mistress, then it will take all of us to get them to safety,” Ali directed as she nudged me and motioned to Fang and Sesame.
At first, we tiptoed inside the building. However, hardly anyone was about. Those who were, bustled around with tasks for the auction outside on the stage.
Fang paused to get a pebble out of his crazy orange curly-toed shoes. When he straightened, I noticed that his pink hair was perfectly in place. With my unruly locks, I couldn’t help asking how he managed it.
He reached into a big pocket in his pantaloons and took out a can of aerosol hairspray.
“Why do you have that?” Sesame hissed. “You know it is not allowed in this time.”
Fang grinned mischievously. He pointed the spray can right at my face. I gave him an irate look, expecting an ill-timed prank that would leave me with blind, stinging eyes. However, he told me to duck. Realizing that his gaze went behind me, I did just that.
A guard lumbered up to us, loudly demanding to know what we were doing. Before he could raise an alarm, Fang sprayed the Aqua Net in his eyes. Sesame leaned down and caught the guard’s neck in the bend of her arm. She held him tightly until he became unconscious.
“Nice sleeper hold, hon,” Fang told her, but his attitude altered when he bent for a closer look — and sniff at the man.
“Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if he ain’t that crazy-eyed, Bible-thumping teetotaler from Oak Ridge. Dick Potts, that was his name. Klaude Frucht must have recruited him,” Fang added in astonishment.
I remembered that moment when TROLLEY had just converted itself to look like either a bar-and-grille or a nightclub, which was to be Fang’s cover operation. The man was a fanatic. He brought a group to our door before we could even open as a business. When I asked if they had any news about the missing women, he had spewed against women and all sorts of things as being of the devil.
“Godfearing women wouldn’t do a man’s work. Women have to know their place. And not in a place that has to hide behind fences and gates. Their secrets must be the devil’s work! They get no more than they deserve,” the wild-eyed man had sneered.
Another ruffian attacked Fang from behind. I whirled and put the sack over his head. Ali took a cudgel from the folds of her billowing clothes and clobbered him.
Sesame dragged the unconscious guards to a dark corner and tossed a few heavy bags of oats on top of them.
“They are here!” from the opposite direction Ali’s voice chimed.
We rushed down the hallway toward her. She stood at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Motioning for us to follow, Ali ran up the stairs.
It felt as though I was more nervous than I should be. Shouldn’t I be getting used to this kind of thing? My thoughts wouldn’t focus. They were a jumble, and I didn’t feel right physically either.
When Ali called for me to hurry, I gave my head a sharp shake. Unthinking, I didn’t run. Rather, I sprang. My feet alighted on a step halfway up the staircase and another jump took me to the top. I hit the ground running, and immediately caught up to the others.
Did I just do what I think I did? I wondered with a backward glance over my shoulder.
Carefully opening a door, Ali went into a large room. She smiled at the dozen girls inside. I could tell that she was making an effort to act normally and not alarm them. The young women were woozy, but mobile.
“Ears…” one of the girls mumbled in a drugged giggle as she looked up at me. “They’re cute.”
At the other end of the room, curtains billowed in a breeze. Fang pushed them aside, revealing a double door. Though it was done in intricate lattice, it looked like sturdy iron. Beyond the doors, broad stairs led down to the alley. It would have been the perfect exit for us, but we’d never get that door open.
Or so I thought…
Sesame strode to the door. It took her a few tries to get the right hand and finger holds between the filigree designs. Then she made a face, braced her legs, and heaved. With a wrenching groan, the door came open.
Footfalls could be heard heading our way. Fang went to the door through which we entered. He moved a stone vase from a heavy decorative plinth. Then he and I dragged the column a few feet and propped it against the door.
Right away the men in the hallway began pounding at the door.
The four of us started guiding the disoriented girls down the back stairs and to the wagon that Sesame had waiting for us.
Meanwhile it sounded like the men were throwing themselves against the door. We were almost finished when I heard a man yell.
“That’s Cassim!” Ali Baba hissed her brother’s name. “They’re getting a battering ram.”
At that news, Sesame bounded back up the stairs and across the long room. Effortlessly, she pushed the heavy plinth aside. She used her strength drag a huge cabinet to block the door and keep it closed against the force of the attack.
Unreasonably frantic, I abruptly realized that I was perched atop the plinth with the heavy vase in my hands. I was waiting to bean the first goon who came through the door.
Sesame grinned approval at me. A rope-like something was swishing behind me. I glanced over my shoulder, trying to see what it was. It looked like a fur-covered rope with a dark tuft at the end. I didn’t have time to think about it though, as long as it wasn’t something bent on attacking us.
“Stop wasting time here. Go to the back of the building. They’ll try to leave that way,” a different voice shouted from beyond the barricaded door.
I scratched behind my ear as I thought. The voice had a German accent. It was Klaude Frucht, the traitor who joined with Tumult to kidnap the girls!
Belatedly it occurred to me that my ears felt all soft and… wrong. Just as I was about to put my hand back to my ear, Fang burst in calling for Sesame and me. He recognized the voice too. The can of aerosol hair spray was in his hand, ready to spray a villain.
“Come on. We have to hurry. All the girls are in the wagon now,” Fang told us.
“Tatu, my habibi, do you have any of those thin black chakrams hidden in your pockets?” Sesame purred.
“Not my 45RMP records!” he cried.
“They are after all, contraband,” Sesame chided.
With a sniffle, Fang reached into the voluminous pockets and produced a stack of 1950s records.
“I know it’s only rock n roll, but I like it!” he whimpered.
♦ ♦ ♦
Poor Fang… he’s so starved for his music. Great that his priorities are in order… (eye roll) But why does Sesame want his records? What is a chakram? Not the same as a chakra I think. We’ll figure that out next time.
Episode 35 — “Where do we go from here?” will conclude this spontaneously written serial. It features three things from GP Cox, at Pacific Paratrooper. Those final things are: grenade, mousetrap, and teddy bear. Tune in next weekend to see where those things take the story. Will the things lead to a rescue? 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
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