Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Welcome to October at Jazz Age Wednesday. I’ve been so busy, I forgot today was Wednesday! However, I’m here now, with something new for the Pip-verse and I’ve gotten all Halloween-ish!
I was honored when Chris Graham*, the Story Reading Ape himself, agreed to do a short story for one of my Get Caught Reading Month posts awhile back. (Check it out here* ― Chris is a fabulous storyteller, and it could be a prequel for the story below.) When I started writing this adventure for Pip, I just wasn’t “feeling it” until I remembered that story from Chris. With his permission, I decided take a cue from his story and bring in one of his “naughty chimp” characters.
About This Story
This is another pantser tale. Online I found a Pictionary word list for Halloween. I decided to let that be my guide for random “things” to spontaneously write Halloween-ish stories of the Pip-verse. I cut the list into slips for individual terms, put them in a bag, and then drew three slips or “things.” They are: corn maze, autumn, and zombie.
Now back to the Jazz Age!
Pip in the Corn Maze
Trees in their glad rags of orange and yellow leaves lined the dirt road. Granny Phanny maneuvered her cherished Model-T to avoid a hole.
“It’s the Autumn Festival, Pip. Come on. You’ll have a good time,” my grandmother insisted, but I had my doubts. “There will be all sorts of things for young folks to do. Now hang on to that basket,” she cautioned as we rounded a sharp curve. “Those apple pies are for the bake sale. Nobody will want to buy a pie that’s had the juice sloshed out of it.”
I had a hunch that the “young folks” part was a bunch of phonus balonus. Although, I knew better than to voice that thought to Granny. My grandmother slowed the automobile and pointed.
“Oh look! They even made a billboard,” she said as she stopped to admire the sign. “See all the fun things it lists? Apple bobbing, the Sundown Séance, why there’s even a corn maze.”
Bonnie Kittle, Unsplash
“That’s nice Granny, but this is a weekday and it’s the middle of the day too. Everybody is either at work or at school, unless they’re—” I shut my mouth just in time before I said the word old.
Wet blanket wasn’t a name I could be called, but nobody was there but a bunch of bluenose old ladies. Granny introduced me to some of them. It was a combination of fawning over the visiting grandchild and tut-tutting from the ones who knew I was in Savannah with Granny as punishment for an adventure that included a yacht, a circus baron, and a gilded mansion in Sarasota, Florida. I excused myself and wandered aimlessly.
My bored noodle was at war with my sore feet when I came upon the corn maze. It was getting hot in the afternoon sun too. The day before had been downright chilly. Not so a day later, but that was typical October weather for Savannah.
I took a limping step. There was definitely a pebble in my shoe. Propping against the entrance sign for the maze, I untied my burgundy and cream oxfords to shake out the offending stone. I took off the tam I had made to match my oxfords and used it to fan myself.
When I looked inside the maze I saw inviting greens and yellows, and sun-dappled shade. A light breeze brushed my face as it moved into the maze, as if to invite me to the cooling shadows. I really should have known better. I pos-i-lutely have no sense of direction. In no time, I was frustratingly, hopelessly lost in the labyrinth.
Felix Russell, Unsplash
Everything was unnaturally quiet. It got creepy. I jumped at a shifting shadow ahead, then scolded myself.
It’s not as if you’re going to walk into a zombie or something! Get ahold of yourself, flapper!
Sounds of movement reached my ears so I turned left at the next opening. I heard someone yawn. Sheik or Sheba? Who could guess gender from a yawn, but it sounded like a man to me. I was just relieved that there was another person nearby.
Hopefully a living, breathing person, not the walking dead, my inner cynic muttered.
When I rounded the next turn, I stopped in my tracks. That was no man! It was a hairy animal. I tried not to make a sound. I didn’t want to startle a wild animal. I squinted into the shadows. What was it anyway? A baby bear?
It made a harsh, shrill sound. My eyes widened when I realized what kind of critter it was — a chimpanzee!
The chimp stretched and scratched his armpit. He looked at me and grinned! Then to my astonishment he bowed politely and called me by name. That’s right. The chimp talked!
I asked how he came to be in the corn maze. I expected he had gotten lost from a circus somewhere, or maybe a zoo.
Cautiously, I inched closer. It had to be some kind of gag. If I ran out screaming about a talking chimp, there would be twenty people standing there laughing at me, I just knew it. He picked up on my skepticism.
“Pip, I promise you I’m the real McCoy, as you would say. I’m Aristotle, but I hope you’ll call me Artie. I’ve traveled a long way through time and space to meet you,” the chimp explained.
All thoughts of finding my way out of the maze left my mind. Since he could talk I figured I might as well beat my gums with the little hairy guy. But wait a minute… did he say through time?
“You traveled through t-time?”
To my increasing astonishment, Artie explained how he got there all the way from England. He had invented a time machine — a for real time machine! However, at first it would only go forward, not back to another era. It also tended to land about 19 miles to the west of where he meant it to be. Finally Artie fixed the machine so it would go backward in time. Although he still hadn’t worked out the location problem. That was why his time machine landed in the corn maze, not at Granny Phanny’s cottage.
“You honestly mean to tell me that you came here specifically to meet me? Me?” I asked.
“Paisley Idelle Peabody,” he began and surprised me even more by knowing my full name. “Your adventures are known far and wide — at least in my time. The world hasn’t always known your story, but once it was unearthed, you became rather famous,” he assured me.
The corn maze was so cool and quiet that Artie sat down for a “ponderating moment” — in other words, he took a nap. I figured the little guy was pretty tired if he traveled both across the ocean and through time. I eased away quietly because I didn’t want to disturb him, but I pos-i-lutely had to tell somebody about him.
I managed to find my way to the entrance. Only then did it occur to me that I hadn’t seen Artie’s time travel vehicle. I turned to go back. Suddenly it seemed important that I get a look at the contraption.
A loud metallic screech made me cringe. It was followed by a loud whirring sound.
“Artie?” I exclaimed worriedly as I rushed to retrace my steps.
“Oh no! Not yet. We’ve only just started getting acquainted!” Artie cried.
It only took a moment for me to reach the spot where I’d left the chimp, but he was gone. I looked all around. When I went around the next corner I found a big area where the corn was flattened and the ground felt hot to the touch. My shoulders sagged.
The Halloween story of the century and I can’t tell a soul. They’d cart me off to the looney bin if I did.
Would you like to continue the 1920s mood? Did you notice the magazine image at the beginning? It mentions Edith Wharton having a “new” novel. She was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. Wharton was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930. While I didn’t find a free version of “Twilight Sleep” for you, some of her books are free at Project Gutenberg*!
Have you visited author Teri Polen’s Bad Moon Rising event? Leading up to Halloween, author Teri Polen hosts Bad Moon Rising. It’s her yearly celebration of suspense and horror. Each year more than 30 horror/thriller indie authors are featured throughout the month of October on her blog, Books & Such. I was there earlier this week! (Click here if you missed it.)
At Teri Polen’s Books & Such
In honor of Bad Moon Rising, through October, I’ve priced the Kindle version of my debut novel Atonement, Tennessee at just $1.00.
Now I engage in more shameless self-promotion… Here are links to the books about Pip and her friends.
Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I
Thanks so very much for visiting. You’re the cat’s pajamas!
Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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