Saturday, December 31, 2022
Welcome back, everyone. I hope you’ve had a brilliant holiday season and that you ring in a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year.
It seemed like a great way to cap off the year when Dan Antion asked me to collaborate on a post. He wanted his bartender character, Skippy, to run into my unflappable flapper, Lulu, in a dream-that-wasn’t-a-dream. You see, Dan had a huge achievement in 2022 — he published not just his first book, but a trilogy. (More on Dan’s books here.) That storyline involves lucid dreaming.
Also, Dan was one of several terrific bloggers who hosted me in 2020 for the launch of my zany 1920s novel, Hullaba Lulu: a Dieselpunk Adventure. Dan held a party at his virtual bar, and Skippy and Lulu really hit it off. Naturally I couldn’t resist.
A few of you may know from Facebook that I was working on a long Lulu short story for Christmas. This vignette has nothing to do with that story. I’ll hold Lulu’s Christmas story for next year.
Click over to Dan’s blog for his companion post to this one. Now here’s my tale of how it came to pass that Lulu ran into Skippy again.
Lulu Crashes Skippy’s Dream
A Wrong Turn
Back at the abandoned subway tunnel, where I had my “hideout” in an erstwhile station master’s office, I looked disdainfully at the thick coating of dust on the floor. That used to reassure me that nobody else knew about my secret place. The only footprints that had been there were my own.
That ended when Valentino discovered the place. Then Gramps found it… and since my adventures began, any number of gold automatons had been in and out of my hideout.
“Maybe I should go ahead and sweep the floor,” I muttered, but cringed at the inevitable giant cloud of dust which would result. “Or maybe I should get one of the angel-bots to do it. The dust doesn’t bother them.”
I had termed the golden automatons from Valentino’s amazing train “angel-bots” because of their resemblance to a gold angel statue. The statue was actually an advanced machine that was part of the navigation system of the train. The train worked via technology I couldn’t get my head around.
Speaking of gold automatons, Boom-boom danced into the room, carrying a crate that would have been too heavy for me.
I do mean danced too. Dynamite had been teaching him to speak flapper, and I’d been teaching him a few modern dances. Boom-boom had a posh British voice, and his staid personality usually matched it. He swayed past me, doing the Tango with his crate. He was getting pretty good.
“What-cha got in the crate, Boom-boom?” I asked the automaton, as I stretched to look.
“Just some light reading, Miss Lulu,” he replied and sat the crate on the counter.
My eyebrows climbed at his idea of light reading. Among several encyclopedic looking tomes, I saw Carl Jung’s “Red Notebook” which I remembered Valentino having. The crate also held an ancient looking book. I couldn’t make out the faded title on the cover. The angel-bot said it was The Rosarium Philosophorum.
“It’s also known as ‘The Rosary of the Philosophers.’ The original book dates back to 1550,” he explained when he saw my mouth twist as I tried to get it around the Latin words. Together with Jung’s Psychology of the Transference, I have begun to speculate on using lucid dreaming in conjunction with the transportation systems such as Valentino’s train,” he finished with the sound of whirring gears.
“Uh…” I began, but it was taking my brain a minute to catch up with his mouth.
“You see,” Boom-boom went on. “Jung mentioned the lucid dream in accordance with alchemy. He also included alchemical emblems from The Rosarium Philosophorum,” he paused to make sure I was still with him.
I sort of understood what he was saying. Although as I had often thought, it was hard to fake understanding anything the bots explained, when they didn’t have to stop for breath! He sped right along.
“Unfortunately, I suspect that like the theremin, these alchemical symbols might require a human essence to function correctly,” he finished in a dull tone.
A theremin was an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the performer. One had been useful in healing Valentino when he fell ill. The angel-bots had been upset because their mechanical bodies wouldn’t work with the instrument. I ended up playing it, and thank goodness, it worked out. Although, with the theremin, I didn’t have to touch anything…
Boom-boom picked up his crate and started off with it. I put out a hand to stop him.
“Don’t blouse yet,” I said. “Can I take a look at that alky one?”
“Alky? It has nothing to do with alcohol, Miss. It’s alchemy. Although it would be good for you to read something more than those scientifiction magazines you like. Very well then. However, in regard to the alchemical symbols — don’t touch anything, Lulu,” Boom-boom admonished firmly.
He gently placed the two books on the counter. When he turned to walk away, I stuck my tongue out at him. Modern slang and dancing hadn’t loosened him up enough. Not yet anyway.
“The Psychology of the Transference,” I muttered. “I wonder if there’s anything to this alky stuff. Even if it isn’t hooch, the word has a fun ring to it. Besides, I don’t have any way of getting around. I don’t have a fancy-smancy train like Valentino or even his Rolls-Royce… I need some… suitable transportation. Although that doesn’t seem to be what Jung had in mind.
I started thumbing through the Jung’s book. I found the pages where he included alchemical emblems from the Rosarium Philo-whatsit. On impulse, I traced the symbols in the dusty floor of my hideout. However, me being me, I touched the wrong thing, and it all went sideways.
My head started spinning. It reminded me of a time when I got some bad giggle water at the Cotton Club. This alky stuff must have something to do with alcohol, no matter what Boom-boom said! Everything looked like the wavy mirrors in a funhouse. The tilt-a-whirl inside my head finally stopped. I wasn’t in the abandoned subway office any more.
“Jehoshaphat Jenkins!” I muttered. “What speakeasy is this? I was aiming for the Cotton Club… Hang on a minute I know you,” I exclaimed when I recognized a young man who dozed with his head resting on the bar. “Skippy!”
Skippy came awake with a surprised snort and wiped the drool from his face.
“Lulu!” he cried. “I must still be dreaming.”
“We sure had fun before,” I said. “You’re a regular Oliver Twist on the dance floor.”
Then I clammed up, because I couldn’t figure out how to explain the way I had gotten there. So, I went along with what Skippy muttered about dreaming.
“My favorite goof! How about making this flapper a bloody mary? You’ve got plenty of horseradish, don’t you?” I asked.
When I took a step forward, my two-tone oxfords smeared one of the symbols.
“Lulu?” Skippy called. “Lulu?”
The whole funhouse mirror and tilt-a-whirl shebang started up again. The next thing I knew, I sat in a heap on the dusty floor of the abandoned station. My stomach heaved, and I upchucked like I’d had some really bad hooch, the kind you go blind from drinking.
“Miss Lulu, where have you been? It’s past time for dinner,” Boom-boom asked.
I noticed that he didn’t mention the fact that I had pulled a Daniel Boone on the floor. He probably just assumed I had been boozing.
“You touched something, didn’t you,” he stated shrewdly.
“Just take those books away,” I groaned. “I’ll stick to my Weird Tales magazines. Alky-whatsit… I’m better off on my own two feet.”
* The end *
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Universal Purchase Links for Hullaba Lulu: a Dieselpunk Adventure
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Now, here’s some shameless self-promotion for Hullaba Lulu. Happy New Year!
The Hullaba Lulu character and any other characters in the related books and stories are the exclusive property of Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene. 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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