Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 3

Thistledown Girl

Alex Iby, Unsplash

Update: The time limit for the lightning contest has now expired. I’ll announce the winners when I post Episode 4. Hugs!

Welcome back one and all!

Writing Process

I really do intend to promote everyone who named a character for this serial.  Yes, that’s a lot of characters… but I will try to do it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse the story.  I hope to avoid reader-overwhelm and character chaos as much as I can.  

In fact, I’m adding a page with very brief information about each character.  I’m not happy with the page, but you might find it minutely helpful, so I’ll go ahead and post it.  I hope to update the page and improve on it.  However, I gave it too much writing-time this weekend. Apparently the free version of WordPress I use isn’t compatible with table apps…  but here goes nothing.

I’m not delaying the disclosure of Bedlam’s story-opening, big, trouble-causing vision as part of a strategy.  I’m flying by the seat of my pants (too bad I don’t have wings, huh?), and the story just hasn’t worked around that way, despite my initial intentions.

About This Episode

This time we see a snapshot of that other, darker faery-verse.  Bedlam’s visions seem to become more real to her as they progress.  

If you’re playing catch-up, click here for the first episode.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Boy field smoke-ball aziz-acharki-290990

Aziz Acharki, Unsplash

Another Vision

The ringing in my ears overwhelmed everything else.  I could hardly breathe.  The room swayed.  The people I respected most in all of Thistledown were gathered in the kitchen of Peaches Dragonfly.

I was shocked by their unexpected presence.  I was awed and horribly embarrassed.  Then foolishly, I let my wing get caught on something — a child’s mistake.  So I was also in both physical and emotional pain.  Embarrassed was a far from adequate description.  I was mortified.  I jumped to my feet quick as lightning.

When I got up so fast, the kitchen seemed to tilt.  Large black spots danced before my eyes.  The ringing in my ears became a roar.  Abruptly everything stopped.

Everything was gone.  Light.  Sound.  Pain.  But not fear.  I strained my eyes to see in the sudden advent of a dank gray world.  In my mind I squirmed.  This colorless place was familiar.  The awful vision that brought about my situation — was I having it again?  I was sure it was the same place.  However, this felt even more real than my vision.

A shaky breath crept into my lungs.  I blinked trying to clear my eyes.  The blurring left my sight, but the world around me was still murky.  Tan would have been a bright color in that place.

Abbey,_Edwin_Austin_Fairies

Edwin Austin Abbey, Fairies, circa 1900

Someone was talking to me.  I knew that voice well, although it had a different edge.  I swayed as I turned toward the voice.

Dah-le!  So you made it back, did you?”

My vision was blurry, but I saw black clothes relieved only by a scarf and boots in bright purple.  My eyes found the hazy face of River Mindshadow.  However, something was not right.  I blinked hard and looked at her again.

“What?  You’re not River!” I exclaimed, feeling more alert.

“Hahaha!” she barked a guffaw that was unlike the lilting laughter of River Mindshadow.  “Who?  It’s me, Rotten!  It’ll hurt my feelings if you forgot me so fast.  So, did you come back to tell me more of your saccharine dreams?  I admit they were entertaining.”

“I remember.  You’re called Rotten Soulfire.  You were in my vision,” I recalled, and she gave another harsh laugh.  “You’re like my friend River Mindshadow — but, but not.  You aren’t exactly opposites though…  It’s as though one of you is from sunlight and the other is from shadow,” I said without thinking, and then I worried that she, Rotten, would be offended.

“Does everyone in your dream have a counterpart in reality?  Oh, you look confused.  Should I say in my reality?” Rotten asked in a playful voice, but there was a wicked gleam in her eyes.  “I wonder if we could get the two together.  That sounds like a ton of fun!  I mean, can you imagine the looks on all their faces?  The self-important snots here and the goody two shoes you told me about?”

Rotten leaned closer and looked at me curiously before continuing, “I’ve been looking around since the other time I saw you, Bedlam Thunder.  Far as I can tell, you don’t exist,” she commented in a pointed tone that was speculative but somewhat suspicious.  “So maybe you really are from some goody-goody faery-verse.  But maybe you really belong here instead of in your home.  I mean a moniker like Bedlam Thunder?  That’s not a sweetness and light name like the ones you’ve mentioned.  It seems like you should have been called something sugary like Fleur Rainbow!” she said and collapsed in a gale of laughter.

Her brows knitted and she added, “You don’t look so good.  Hold on, what’s that on you back?  Holy moma!  Wings?” she asked, still laughing.  “You been to a cos party?”

Then Rotten’s face transformed in an expression of confusion and concern.  She hesitantly pushed away the flap at the back of my dress that allowed for wings to unfold.  It was a typical fashion among the faeries of Thistledown.  Faery clothes were often backless, to allow for wings.  However folks in Thistledown were quite modest so flaps or even caplets were attached to cover the back.  Plus flight was mostly a means of traveling.  We didn’t go zooming around willy-nilly instead of simply walking.

1 Butterfly wing

“There’s a little blood here,” Rotten commented, still sounding puzzled.”

Then she touched the joint where my wings depended from my back.  Rotten quickly drew back her hand and gasped.  She looked at me with bulging eyes.

Holy moma—  Oh sweet—  Holy—  They’re real?  They’re real!  Oh my God!”

My grand-uncle once told a story of a place where faeries had no wings.  I thought it was just meant to frighten us.  Could it be that this girl had no wings?  That was hard to imagine.  However, her shirt was tailored to her body.  It couldn’t have been comfortable.  It would have been too confining across the shoulder and wing area.  Were wings something strange and alien to her?

I looked at Rotten in consternation.  I didn’t know what to say.  Finally I told her I had caught my wing and made a small tear.

Ouchers!  That couldn’t have been fun,” she commented, regaining her composure but still sounding tentative.  “Tell ya what.  You ran off pretty quick last time.  Why don’t you stick around?  Come and meet some friends.  We’ll see what trouble we can get into,” she offered to my surprise.

I would have been amazed by what had to be a quick recovery, if indeed Rotten was from a place where folk didn’t have wings.  However, she was clearly unsettled.  I believed she was trying to hide her uncertainty.

“Hey!  Rotten!” came a new voice.  “Oh, there you are.  Dah-le!  Who’s this?” she asked.

As the owner of the voice came into my field of vision, I realized she wasn’t alone.  Another girl, also about my age was with her.  Her long hair was dark, but I noticed several rainbow colored strands discretely tucked behind her ears.

“Come on with me Sat, don’t be shy.  Wow!  You two been having a smack down?  She looks a little rumpled.  Wait a minute.  That looks like a wing,” commented the newcomer, abruptly perplexed.

I noticed that her clothes were mostly dark, similar to Rotten’s apparel.  Her hair was as black as her leather jacket.  I wondered if the dullness of this place influenced everything about the people, even the clothes they wore.  She did, however, have a bright pink top under the jacket.

“Hey Desert.  Love the shirt!  That must have gotten you a shocked look or two.  I’ll bet that’s Satellite with you,” Rotten greeted the girls, and the one with rainbow streaks gave a mischievous grin in return.

“Great timing,” Rotten added with a nod to me.  “This one is called Bedlam Thunder.  You should hear some of the stuff she babbles when she’s knackered.  I ran into her once before,” Rotten told the girl as she poked my side with her elbow.  “Bedlam Thunder, meet Desert Firesong and Satellite Frostbite.” 

Dah-le, Desert.  You didn’t tell me you had polite friends.  I’m not sure that’s socially acceptable,” Satellite joked.

“Woah!  What’s up Bedlam?” Rotten Soulfire cried.  “You having a seizure or something?  Bedlam?  Bedlam!

***

I sneezed so hard it felt like my head would come off.  The voice of Rotten Soulfire still echoed in my mind.  I sneezed again.  And again.  My nose, mouth, and even my ears felt like they were on fire.  I sat up on my elbows, but I think my sneezes had brought me upright.

“Lie back down.  You just got up too fast.  You don’t want to faint again do you?” I heard Peaches Dragonfly tell me in a voice that seemed far away.

Everyone thought I had simply stood up to fast.  Didn’t they know that I had been somewhere else?

Maybe my body hadn’t left, I thought.  My grand-uncle had told me about that kind of vision.  The mind went to one place while the body stayed in another.  The passage of time in the two planes could differ.  Was that what happened?

“Thank goodness you got here when you did!  I’m glad Field found you,” a voice said to someone else.

My face was squeezed up for another sneeze, but I forced one eye open.  The speaker was Ember Beamwitch.  The present rushed back into my awareness.  My eyes followed Ember’s gaze.

A woman in a red dress smiled brightly.  I recognized the lamp maker, Pepper Stargazer.  Some of the peppers she grew were so hot they (with a touch of fae encouragement) could burst into flame.  She parlayed that talent into making lamps.

“Morning-fire peppers work better than smelling salts,” Pepper replied.  “Are you alright, Bedlam?  Oh by the way, Peaches, I brought the party lanterns.  Anybody want to help me string them up?  Just let me know where you want the lights,” she added.

Pepper Stargazer led the cousins Peaches and Pick Dragonfly, and Ember out to where she had presumably parked her wagon.  I knew it would be filled with pepper fueled lanterns and other party lights for the solstice celebration Peaches would soon host.  Catseye Glimmer held the door for the others, and then gave us a wave before he followed.  I noticed he was much taller than the others.  Catseye was the only person I knew who didn’t have to crane his neck to look up at the furry faery, Field Yewwasp.

Oh, the furry faery had been in the room, I thought. I didn’t see him leave the kitchen with the others.  In fact, I hadn’t seen him since I recovered from my faint.  I mentioned it to Calico Rainbowforest.

“How anyone so large can move so fast is beyond me,” Calico muttered.  “He zipped out of here the instant you hit the ground.  I’m sure he went to meet Pepper Stargazer on her way here, and asked her to come as fast as she could with her swoon-remedy.  He’d be outside with the others.  I doubt he could resist tinkering with the lanterns.”

I nodded mutely.  Then I started sneezing again.  I should probably have thanked Pepper, but I couldn’t stop sneezing long enough.  I thought I was alone, so I groaned about adding inflamed sinuses to my sore wing and bruised pride.

“Maybe those ‘morning fire peppers’ work a little too well,” Calico commented with a wink.

A sneeze that had been painfully slow to come out finally exploded from my mouth.

I found myself telling Calico about the vision that had just overtaken me, despite my fear that my vision would be made public.  She promised not to write about it in the Thistledown Trumpet unless I was ready.

L0059071 Turn pin spectacles, steel wire, eye preservers, double fold

Turn_pin_spectacles, circa 1800

When I finished describing what I had just seen, she took a deep breath and pushed her spectacles back on her nose.  Though I had only told her about the most recent vision, it was outrageous enough.  I didn’t go into the bigger, truly frightening one.

Calico got up and moved to the big sideboard.  She picked up a cut crystal bottle containing a sparkly amber colored cordial and two glasses.

“Here, Bedlam.  This will do you good under the circumstances,” she murmured handing me a glass of the cordial.  “It sounds like maybe you’re ready to tell the full story, but let’s wait until everyone is together.  There’s no point wasting your strength to tell it twice.  I realize it’s traumatic for you to even think about discussing it,” Calico said knowingly.

Calico was right.  I did feel better after drinking the cordial.  The magic Peaches Dragonfly had with baking seemed to work in everything she made.  We went outside to watch as the lights were hung.

Glitter Shimmerling arrived in a small carriage powered by a score of hamsters happily running in their exercise wheels.  To the delight of all, she brought a rose covered chocolate cake and offered everyone a slice. 

She let the hamsters out to cavort with Stellar the cat.  Stellar chased the hamsters then playfully turned and they chased her.

From the moment the vision overtook me, the one that started all the trouble, I had feared it was prophetic.  I couldn’t be certain, but the one I had just seen with Rotten Soulfire and her friends was the same place.  However, it seemed more real, more current.  I shuddered thinking that such a place could be real, that perhaps my home could become such a place.

Even though I felt uneasy with them, Rotten, Desert, and Satellite didn’t seem “bad.”  However, their home surely was a dark place.  Could there be a place where kindness was seen as stupidity and civility was viewed with contempt?  Would that negativity seep into all the people?

Although I didn’t remember it, Rotten Soulfire told me I had described my world as “sugary.” Wherever her world was, nearly everything I saw was dark, dull, or black.  I wondered what Rotten would make of Glitter’s hamster powered carriage or her naturally shimmering lavender hair.

End Episode 3

***

Hypothetically, I’d like to imagine this serial as a TV show.  The mystery folk (the people who named characters) would be actors playing roles in the show.  The new mystery folk who were revealed in this episode:

  • Kathryn of Another Foodie Blogger and Austin Street Tacos
  • Robbie Cheadle of Robbie’s Inspiration
  • Olga Núñez Miret (but this time the dark faery-verse or “scary faery”)
  • Adele Marie Park (a scary faery) of Firefly 465
  • Vashti Quiroz-Vega (another scary faery) of The Writer Next Door

Be sure to come back next time for another episode of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.  It’s only here at Teagan’s Books.  Mega hugs!

 

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 © July 2, 2017 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.

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 2

Welcome back to Thistledown, everyone!  If you are joining this serial for the first time, or if you need to refresh your memory click here for the premier episode.  I also have a category button on the right side-bar of the screen for “Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.”  However, these days I can’t make promises about WordPress behaving as it should. (For several days I found myself unable to comment on any blogs — including my own! WP just told me to email somebody else… Finally and laboriously got it fixed myself.)

Thistledown Girl

Alex Iby, Unsplash

Writing Process

As a writer, I tend to reject rules. (Often things are presented as rules, but feel more like “formulas” than anything else.  I don’t care for formulas either.)  Although, when writing in a genre, (to a degree) I do try to follow some general expectations, for the comfort and understanding of readers.  

So before anyone asks…  When writing fantasy, I’m fond of using archaic forms of words.  Hence my spelling of “faery.”  I followed the lead of Brian Froud.  Many people see him as an expert on fairies/faeries/fae.  If you want to know more about the topic, click here or here.  

I had expected to reveal Bedlam’s vision in this episode.  However, I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  It didn’t work out that way.  That’s all part of pantsering.

About the Episode

The mystery folk from the first episode return for this one.  However, several new characters are introduced.  Be sure to click the links (like this) to reveal the mystery folk behind the character names.

This time we get an idea of what sort of gifts, talents, and magic the faeries of Thistledown might have in their daily lives.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trumpet Vine, by Manu via Wikimedia Commons free media repository

In the Kitchen

Smoke curled from the twin chimneys of the cottage where  Peaches Dragonfly lived.  I could see it a short distance away.  The warm breeze brought the aroma of tarts Peaches had cooking in the oven.  Even though my mouth watered, I couldn’t get my feet to move.

“Come on!” Peaches encouraged.  “Bedlam Thunder what’s wrong?” she asked, letting go of my arm and giving me a concerned look.

My eyes had found the bright yellow flowers of the trumpet vine.  A horrible idea sprang to my mind when I saw the blossoms.  The vine bore the local news.  I touched a petal, fearing it would shout my name.

Extra!  Extra!  Get the Thistledown Trumpet here!” the flower cried.  “Get the time and place of all the best Midsummer parties!  Take a leaflet,” the blossom added encouragingly.

“Oh good,” murmured Peaches as she reached to pluck a curled leaf.  Unrolling the leaf she read the list of parties before commenting, “Good, they got my information right.  They mentioned that Pick is visiting.  They even included that Holly Songbird will be singing!  I had to ask them to update the announcement for that.  I didn’t think I had given them the information in time.  Perfect!”

I was relieved at not hearing my own name or anything about my awful vision.  However, I still couldn’t manage to raise my eyes to look higher than the ground, or lift my feet to follow Peaches.

Crystal Ball Hand_yeshi-kangrang-258234

Yeshi Kangrang, Unsplash

“People are saying that the things in the vision I had will happen because of me — as if I’m going to make them happen.  That it’s my fault.  Or they just make fun of me.  I haven’t been around much of anybody since River Mindshadow and I were suspended.  That was so humiliating…  I just haven’t wanted to deal with seeing anyone,” I explained, eyes still firmly fixed on my feet.  “And I just can’t face River.  It’s all my fault that she got suspended with me.  I should have done something to stop it.”

It was hard to hold back tears.  I was overwrought, I had been for days.  Stellar the cat twined around my ankles consolingly.  However, it took all my concentration to keep my composure, so I didn’t pet her.  I sniffled and swallowed and sniffled some more before I could finally hold up my head.

Both Peaches and River stood watching me impatiently, fists planted firmly on hips.  I was startled because I hadn’t even heard River come up to us.  Peaches was tapping a foot.  River’s wings were unfurled, so I knew she was about to leave.

“Bedlam, I’ve been given a curfew, a truly unreasonable one too.  So I can’t stay, but I want you to know that none of this is your fault!” River told me in a firm voice.  “Especially me getting suspended, or this curfew.  If you say that again, I’ll be insulted.  My analysis of your vision was mine to state.  I made my own choices.  You didn’t make them for me.”

I drew back.  River’s reaction was not what I expected.  I started babbling an apology, but she cut me off with a smile and a wave of her hand.  Then she nudged me with her elbow.

“It’s alright.  Go on inside and get a slice of tart.  Pick Dragonfly already had two slices,” River said in a kinder voice before she zipped into the sky.

“Ha!  My cousin has been accused of having hollow legs, a slim guy who is always hungry,” Peaches commented fondly as she waved to River.  “He’s actually a good cook.  That more than makes up for it.”

Bird Cherries tree vincent-van-zalinge-38365

 Vincent Van Zalinge, Unsplash

Peaches drew me toward her cottage.  Blackberry vines covered the roof.  It was dotted with berries in various degrees of ripeness, white, red, purple, and black.  The kitchen windowsill was lined with bread and pies set there to cool.  The aroma of desserts in the oven was irresistible.  The pink haired faery did not spare the ovens for her solstice celebrations.

As we neared her home, we had to stop for something most people would find unusual.  A long line of red cherries rolled from the other side of the orchard.  The cherries tumbled along, in single file across our path and through the open front door of her cottage.

Peaches shook her head and made a wry face.  That was how her cousin Pick took care of the cherry picking chore when he visited.  It was part of Pick’s gift, convincing the cherries to leave the tree and come to him.

“If I find a single bruise on those cherries…” Peaches muttered.

Different faeries had different talents or magical abilities, and to varying degrees.  The school was meant to help us, from an early age, to develop our apparent talents, and to uncover hidden gifts.  Some faeries had hardly any magic at all.  Like me.  I didn’t see my visions as any sort of talent, and they certainly weren’t magic.

I had hoped that going to the school would cause me to manifest a better talent.  However, before my freshman term of senior level was finished, my visions got me suspended.  I sighed without meaning to make a sound.  Peaches gave me a sympathetic look before we went inside her home.

Her cottage had a huge kitchen — the largest room in the house.  The way Peaches baked, that was a necessity.

Across the room, the first thing I saw was a uniquely lovely flower arrangement.  It contained the most unexpected combination of things, with all manner of wildflowers, and even stems of cotton bowls.

Cotton plant painting 1901

Cotton plant circa 1901, Wikimedia

However, I stumbled to a halt the moment I stepped through the doorway.  The cherries continued to roll until they went into a basket beside the sink.  Pick Dragonfly carried not just one, but three plates to the sink.  Yet none of those things were what caused me to stop in my tracks.

I faced the long kitchen table, mouth agape.  All of the people I admired most in Thistledown were gathered in my friend’s kitchen.  They weren’t the official council, but they were highly respected people.

The fae at the other end of the table sat head and shoulders above the rest.  He was known far and wide as the furry faery, Field Yewwasp.  The huge table looked ordinary next to him.  I knew the large top hat on the coat rack had to belong to Field.  Wire rimmed spectacles with rose colored lenses sat on his nose.  The red jacket he wore was perfectly tailored for his large frame.  I supposed that if your size and hair automatically drew attention to you, then you would want to be well dressed.

Ember Beamwitch sat at Field’s left.  The flowers in her hair bobbled when she looked up at us.  The fiery colored print of her dress had a soft radiance even in the daylight.  After dark it would give a fanciful glow.  A voluminous sleeve swayed gracefully when she raised her hand to wave at me.  Ember would judge the dance competition that Peaches planned to include in her Midsummer celebration.

One of the spectacles of the Midsummer gathering would be worked by Catseye Glimmer.  From practically nothing, Catseye could create fun and useful things.  I suspected that he would somehow make the dance floor, and that his creation of it would kick-off the party.

At seeing these enormously respected fae, I was a nervous wreck, on top of being an emotional basket case.  My eyes were wide with shock.  I stood speechless even when someone bade me sit down at the table.  That’s when I had one more shock than I could handle.  I dazedly realized the person offering me a seat was Calico Rainbowforest.  She ran the Thistledown Trumpet News!

Oh no, I thought.  This is horrible.  What if she puts my vision in the news?  She’ll probably agree with everyone else.  What if she blames every bad thing on me, like some people are doing?

“Oh dear.  You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Calico spoke in a kind voice.  “Poor Bedlam, I know what you’ve been through.  Did you know that the Readings Master suspended me once too?”

That admission got my surprised attention.  I couldn’t imagine Calico Rainbowforest getting into trouble at school, but she grinned and nodded.

“It wasn’t that long ago, you know.  I believe you and I are more alike than you’d expect.  That man just seemed to take an instant dislike to me.  Anyway… I would very much like to hear the story in your own words,” she requested and paused as if waiting for my answer.  When I didn’t speak she continued, “Whenever you’re feeling ready to talk about it.  I’d just listen, mind you, nothing more.  Then if everyone here agreed that it was safe to share with Thistledown, only if you approved would I put it in the Trumpet.

At that moment I knew Calico was saying something, because I could see her mouth moving.  However, I was already intimidated by the individuals who sat around Peaches’ table.  Plus I was downright paranoid about the Trumpet.  I was slow to absorb Calico’s words.  It seemed like I heard her voice from far away.

Fairy_Islands_1916_by_Ida_Rentoul_Outhwaite

Fairy Islands, 1916, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Wikimedia

Faeries have a fight or flight reflex — quite literally.  Mine abruptly kicked-in, and my wings unfolded before I knew what was happening.  My wayward wings knocked a honeydew melon off a sideboard.  The honeydew hit the floor in an explosive crash of seeds, juice, and melon flesh.  It splattered half the people at the table.

I jumped backward in my agitation.  One of my wings caught painfully on the doorjamb.  I gasped and turned, not understanding what was causing the pain.  My wing started to tear as I moved.

In the recesses of my mind I heard more than one person scream “No!”  They could see what I was too distressed to understand — that I was about to do serious harm to myself if I moved.

I was vaguely aware of seeing Catseye Glimmer stand.  He turned to the unique flower arrangement behind his seat.  Quickly he picked a stem with several cotton bowls.  He whispered to the plant and flexed his fingers in an impossible looking motion.  Then he threw it toward me.

The stem sailed past, an inch from touching me.  It transformed to a soft cushion the size of the doorway, gently preventing me from moving or doing serious damage to my wing.

“Goodness, she looks like she’ll swoon!” Ember Beamwitch exclaimed.  “Here Bedlam, sit down.”

As if he had the same thought as Ember, Pick Dragonfly handed me a glass of chilled water.

Ember put the first two fingers of her right hand to the “third eye” area of my forehead.  A soft glow emanated from her hand.  After a second I felt a wonderful cool sensation and I no longer felt faint.

I was suddenly aware of Field Yewwasp bending over me.  Everyone else had been between the furry faery and me.  How could someone so large move so fast that I didn’t even see him?  As I looked at him in confusion, he asked if I was all right.

“You’d best stay earthbound, rather than fly, until that heals,” Field advised.

The big pain in my wing seemed disproportionate to what was actually a small tear.  Calico unexpectedly drew a tiny jar of ointment from her pocket.  She gave me a sardonic smile.

“Bedlam, my flight skills aren’t any better than yours.  I’ve learned to keep first aid with me,” Calico confessed.  “May I?” she asked indicating the ointment.

I nodded, still mute.  The ointment did lessen the pain.  I drank from the water Pick gave me.  Wide-eyed, I gazed in amazement at the kindness of the people around me.  However, a most unpleasant sensation reverberated through my head.  I shook my head to clear the ringing, but it wouldn’t stop.

Fairfacefairy_2

Wikimedia

***

I hope you clicked the links to reveal the mystery folk. Additions to the cast for this episode include characters named by Hollyberye, Colleen Chesebro, Chris Graham, Mary J. Mccoy-Dressel, and Tim Price.

Fly back to Teagan’s Books next time to reveal new mystery folk and see what happens in episode three. 

 

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 © 2017 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.

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 1

Midnight moon farie

Welcome everyone, to the beginning of an all new serial here at Teagan’s Books!   This one is not a “three things” story, but it is still a pantser tale.  I’m flying by the seat of my pants again!  As I’ve done with other serials, I will promote bloggers each week.

Many of you will know that last weekend I issued a call for characters (for bloggers who wanted to be associated to a character), here and at Facebook.  Well, let me state a big disclaimer about that part.  The characters do not represent the person for which they are named. That is only a means of promoting the person.

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.

Each week, you will see brightly colored faery names (like this) which will be links.  Click on the link to reveal a mystery blogger.  

Here’s a little extra to get this premier rolling:

Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, I present to you the opening episode…

Thistledown Girl

Alex Iby, Unsplash

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Beginning

Fragrances whispered to me of the past as they wafted on the twilight breeze.  Above, clouds from a distant storm moved aside, no longer obscuring my view of the stars. 

Moonstones mirrored in the reflection pool. I gazed at the images reproduced in endless repetition.  It was the memory of a long ago Midsummer.  Could such a time happen again?  I shuddered.

A faraway rumble came to my ears, reminiscent of my name.  Bedlam Thunder How, could anyone have expected me to fit in with such a name?  However, my grand-uncle had a vision and insisted that I bear a name of chaos among a race of people who were known for being goody two shoes.  My grand-uncle was a seer, so even his whims carried weight.

He insisted that I had the sight.  Some of the oldsters agreed with him, though they shook their heads and tut-tutted at the mention of my name.  They weren’t wrong, but I wasn’t the same kind of seer as my grand-uncle.  I could see around the odd corner or three, but I never saw anything good.  I never saw the healthy birth of a babe or who someone would marry.  I didn’t see anything anyone wanted to know.  Instead I saw things the existence of which my people denied.  Paranormal things — impossible places, creatures, and events.

However, in my younger days I had yet to fully realize those gifts.  When visions randomly bubbled to the surface, so to speak, they were more curse than gift.

My eyes shifted again to the reflection pool.  The vision remained.  Heaving a sigh, I sat down beside the pool to watch the mirror image of the stars gliding into place for the summer solstice.  It seemed that I must endure the replication of the past.  Perhaps I would find some enlightenment in it.  I allowed the reflection to flow into my consciousness, and my mind to merge with the vision.

Crystal Ball Hand_yeshi-kangrang-258234

Yeshi Kangrang, Unsplash

***

Morning’s blush still pinked the sky, but the fae of Thistledown were early risers.  The Opal siblings hurried past me, calling cheerful taunts at one another about who would get into the most trouble for being late for school.  I didn’t think their grand-aunt Willowtree would be too upset with them.

Folk of my age were on their way to school, beginners, intermediates, and seniors alike.  Except for me that is.  A week before the end of first term my friend, River and I had both gotten thrown out of freshman studies.

River Mindshadow was a free thinker.  That wasn’t something the schoolmasters appreciated.  The fact that she had no compunction whatsoever about sharing her thoughts and questions was the bane of their existence.

Me?  My visions were beyond the reckoning of the masters, or anyone else for that matter.  I had stopped presenting them in class, pretending that I’d had none.  Then came the day the Readings Master knew full well I’d had a vision and he demanded that I share it for the class to interpret.

The vision had been particularly chaotic and disturbing.  Knowing the contemptuous reaction it would receive from my classmates and the master, my face heated.  I begged to be excused, but the Readings Master would have none of it.  So I described my frenzied revelation as well as I could.  The class erupted in disorder, but the master brought everyone back to point.

River chose that moment to voice her thoughts.  The Readings Master interrupted her.

“Miss Mindshadow,” he began but turned to include me in his warning,  “and Miss Thunder, I’ve had more than enough of either of you.  Think twice about challenging common sense in my classroom!”

At his words, I tried to shush River.  She rolled her eyes at me and relentlessly continued.  River’s analysis of my vision was creative yet logical.  Of course the “creative” part was not well received by the master.  The sniggering from the other students brought the classroom to the edge of disruption.  

We might have come out of it unscathed if she had stopped there.  However, River closed her interpretation with a dire warning of what the vision represented.  Her reading resonated with me, and I vehemently defended my friend’s analysis.  Everyone else objected.  Then, suitably for my name, bedlam thundered in the classroom.

The Readings Master practically dragged River and me to the Headmaster’s office. 

“The loyalty of friendship is a beautiful thing, but…” the Headmaster said before I interrupted her.

We were in her office for all of five minutes before we both were suspended for the rest of the term.  River unfurled her wings and zipped away in righteous indignation.

River did will in flight class.  I was not so proficient.  My wings remained smoothly tucked away.  (Wings of the faeries of Thistledown were not apparent until needed.  It was a matter of convenience that became custom.  Imagine the amount of space that would be taken up by roomful of faeries in full winged glory.)  I was better off on the ground, so I contented myself by leaving at a slower, dignified pace.

Hand Rock BW_brina-blum-112497

Brina Blum, Unsplash

I stumbled over a rock.  That brought my young thoughts back to the moment.  It seemed I wasn’t much more graceful on the ground than in the air. 

A group of children laughed at me.  The adults minding them whispered to one another and smirked.  Word of my suspension from school got around almost as fast as the tales told about my chaotic vision.

“You’re a fine one to laugh, Sprite.  You fell out of your own bed last night,” a woman told him.

The boy glared at me, but looked suddenly inspired.

“It was because of her!” he accused, pointing at me.  “She sees bad things.  She must make them happen too!”

The woman made an exasperated sound at Sprite, and made an admonitory face him.  However, she turned a speculative look at me just the same.  It was not the first time I had seen that kind of expression on a faery face since my suspension.

Part of me knew it would only make them laugh harder, but in a fit of youthful emotion, I unfurled my wings and jumped into fumbling flight.  It wasn’t the first time I had been blamed for things that went wrong, things beyond my control.  However, I had the feeling this time it was going to get a lot worse.

I had no idea where I meant to go.  Even if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to see the way through my tears.  After a while, I managed to get myself tangled in the branches of an exceptionally large plumb tree.  A surprised cat, lounging on the next branch, meowed at me. 

Stellar?” I asked the meowing feline.

Even if I had not recognized the cat and the unusually big plumb tree, the delicious aromas of baking would have let me know where I was.  It was the orchard that belonged to Peaches Dragonfly.

“Bedlam?” I heard the astonished voice of the baker, just before I tumbled to the ground.

As Peaches pulled me to my feet, I noticed the ground was littered with plumbs.

“What’s all this?” I asked even though I was afraid to hear the answer.

She pushed her lovely fluffy pink hair away from her forehead, and looked wryly at the plumbs.

“Rotten,” she said, shaking her head.  “This season half the fruit is rotting as it grows.”

“Oh Peaches, I’m so sorry!” I apologized, as my tears flowed again.

Peaches started out in the same class as River and me.  However, Peaches proved to be a prodigy in persuading fruit trees to produce.  What she did in preparing the fruit was pure magic, even when no magic was involved.  She graduated three full terms early.

“What?  Oh, I see.  You’ve been listening to the wrong people, my friend.  River told me all about your vision, and her reading of it.  I’m in complete agreement,” Peaches said to my great relief.  “I have some free-thinking friends coming to lend a hand with my solstice preparations.  They will want to talk to you, hear what you have to say first hand.”

I gave Peaches a wide-eyed, doubtful look and murmured that I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea.

“All of Thistledown is already talking about your vision.  It gets more twisted with every telling.  So don’t you think you should discuss it with a few people who are willing to listen?  Tell it the way you saw it?  Now, come with me.  You need pie,” she told me.  “Come on, my cousin Pick is back.  River is here too.”

Pick Dragonfly was the only person I knew who had traveled beyond Thistledown.  He was almost a legend locally.

“Oh!  I should have known Pick was back when I saw Stellar in the tree,” I commented, feeling a touch better about the situation already. 

Cat silhouette Tree_saso-tusar-130051

Saso Tusar, Unsplash

***

End Episode 1

I hope everyone clicked on the links to reveal this week’s mystery bloggers.  Pay them a visit and leave a comment.  We love comments.  

Thanks to the mystery folk of this episode:

  • Barbara Murray (along with Zen and Zasha)
  • Olga Núñez Miret
  • Suzanne DeBrango
  • John W. Howell

Stay tuned to learn just what kind of disturbing vision Bedlam had.  I hope to see everyone again next week in Thistledown.  Mega hugs,

Teagan 

 

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 © 2017 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 4 (2016 Rerun Conclusion)

Atonement bookshelf

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

     Welcome, one and all — to this re-run of last year’s Get Caught Reading mini-series.  Without further ado, here’s the conclusion!

***

It’s been fun participating in Get Caught Reading Month.  I hope my zany and bizarre story encouraged people of all ages to read.  Last week my real-world schedule caused me to put blogging on the shelf.  But look what grand company I had, thanks to Chris Graham!  

When we left our heroes…

As many of you know, a few elite bloggers (and their pets) banded together with one quest — catch the Story Reading Ape reading.  During the first chapter, I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the Story Reading Ape in the act of reading.

In Chapter 2  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen and I met a number of author-bloggers (and their pets) who joined the quest to catch the illusive Ape. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel , Christoph Fischer, John W. Howell, and blogger Dan Antion.

Then last time a new duo was added to the intrepid band of bloggers –  Hugh Roberts and adorable Toby.  But to the astonishment of our intrepid band, everyone became anime characters when Cornelis Drebbel’s alchemy went wrong.  Now for the conclusion of The Sign of the Ape.

Sign of the Ape 4

Ape London Atonement

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

Toby barked frantically at the pavement and scratched at it with his little paws.  Doubtless, the dog could hear  John W. Howell, Dan Antion, and their pets in the tunnel beneath the street.  Finally, Hugh couldn’t take seeing the Corgi so upset. He jumped back onto the big construction loader and started digging a hole in the road — much to the dismay of the drivers in the area.

Annette Abens Cats

My phone buzzed at me.  When I answered, I was greeted with a loud chorus of meowing from  Annette Rochelle Aben’s cats.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  And yes, that did remind me of the fuzzy ears and long tail that came with the anime version of me.  I shot Cornelis Drebbel a nasty look and muttered that I’d get him for it.  Then a second call got patched onto the meow-wow.  The four naughty chimps  translated for Annette’s kitties via text message.

“You’ve got to figure out how to get to London. The Story Reading Ape is there.  He left Tokyo before your airship even touched down!” came the message from the chimps.

London?  Well the chimps should know.  They were tight with the Ape.  But London?  I hadn’t figured out how to stop being an anime yet!  How could I possibly get to London?  I sure couldn’t go as an anime — and especially not in that horrid schoolgirl uniform!

Although I was rather shocked that  Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  and Suzanne DeBrango  seemed to take their cartoon situation in stride.  Their dogs, Kasha and Percy, didn’t seem to think it was worth barking about.  Maybe I would feel differently if I were a beautiful goddess or a cute giant-robot-driving future girl, I thought.  I steamed and stewed… I’d never forgive Cornelis for putting me in such an outfit.

Toby reading Hugh

Toby caught reading

Toby gave an excited yip and Hugh turned off the loader.  Once again I heard that crazy, funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme.  Then a sports car roared up through the big hole dug by the construction loader.

Atonement Hot Rod

Thanks again Chris!

John W. Howell  and Dan Antion, along with dogs Lucy and Maddie, and MiMi the tuxedo cat were in the sports car.  Oddly I could have sworn I saw the Boxer, Lucy driving the car.  But who am I to say that was strange. After all, I was an anime schoolgirl with cat ears and a tail…

Lucy close up_John

Lucy, who owns John W. Howell

I could see Dan wave from the back seat that everyone in the car was okay.  John leaned out of the passenger window.  He had a weird looking guitar.  I asked where he got it.

maddie_26502383972_o

Maddie who owns Dan Antion

 

MiMi reading_Dan

MiMi caught reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A strange taxi driver with bushy eyebrows gave this guitar to me,” John told me.  “But no matter what notes I strum, it will only play that James Bond theme,” he added and played the chorus to demonstrate.

However, the music abruptly changed to the Goldfinger theme.  Glittering clouds of golden dust formed in the sky.  John put down the guitar, but it continued to play.  The golden dust settled on everyone (and every pet) who had become anime.

I felt my stomach expand and contract like the beginning of a very unfortunate gastritis attack.  The most embarrassingly loud belch escaped my lips.  However, everyone else produced similar burps, so I was a little less mortified.  We were anime no longer, but the dratted costumes remained.  I muttered a new curse to Cornelis Drebbel about my uniform.

“Thank heavens you’re a redhead again,” John Howell commented.  “The raven locks were nice, but it just wasn’t right.”Animated Teagan book

Then with sharp popping sounds, one by one, my friends began to disappear. Frightened beyond reason, I screamed at the alchemist for an explanation.

“My dear, do calm down,” he said in that droll voice.  “Everyone is perfectly safe.  I sent each of them directly to their homes,” the alchemist explained as I stammered and tried to ask why.  “Darling, remember it is Get Caught Reading Month.  May is almost over!  How can they read anything if they are trotting around the globe with you?  And you still haven’t finished “The Sign of the Four” for that matter,” he told me, adding a tsk-tsk sound for good measure.

Cornelis took my hand and suddenly we were inside the giant robot.  “I’ve always wanted to pilot one of these,” he confessed with a giggle.  “Next stop, London!”

As Cornelis flew the alchemically powered robot, I wandered, exploring the many nooks and crannies.  It was more spacious than I expected.  The sound of deeply pitched chuckling caused me to stop in my tracks.  I strained to hear.  It seemed to be only one voice, like someone talking on the phone.  Ever so carefully I moved closer.Naughty Chimps

“You four truly are naughty,” the voice rumbled.  “Sending all those bloggers on such a wild goose chase.  Although I must admit, a free ride back to London in a magical giant robot is a memorable adventure.  I will see you naughty rascals when I get home, but for now I have reading to catch up on.  I think Gwydion may have just gone too far for Ralda to forgive him.  I really must see what happens next in Atonement, Tennessee

With a silent gasp I realized the Story Reading Ape was hiding right under my nose!  I removed my cell phone from my skirt pocket and switched on the camera.  I crept around the corner… Gotcha!

Ape Caught with phone

As I checked the image, the spoils of my victory, my long tail swished in a self-satisfied rhythm.  

…Tail?  I looked behind myself.  The tail was still there…

“Cornelis Drebbel!”  I yelled.

Here ends The Sign of the Ape.

***********************

Thanks to all of you for tuning-in for this zany chase.  I’m glad you were “caught reading” here at Teagan’s Books.  As you know, this is a workday, so I might be delayed in answering comments.

Special thanks to all the bloggers who participated in this madcap adventure — and to their pets as well!

 

GCR pets

The Sign of the Ape, furry family cast

Row 1:  Percy, Crystal, Lucy, Kasha

Row 2:  Claudius, Oh Kitty, and Sweeney, and Toby

Row 3:  Wilma, Greta, Maddie, MiMi

 

Copyright © 2016 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Special mention to Christopher Graham for the marvelous “Atonement, Tennessee” images.

Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 3 (2016 Rerun)

 

Crystal Reading Atonement

Crystal pointing to a clue

Hello everyone.  Welcome back to my rerun of last year’s mini-series, in support of Get Caught Reading Month.  It’s about the escapades of our intrepid band of bloggers and their pets.  Who could resist those fur babies?  

If you were here last year, I’m delighted that you’ve stuck with me.  If this is new to you, then hang onto your hats, because it’s a wild ride!  I hope you’ll visit the bloggers included in this post.  Now for the rerun.  Enjoy!

***

Wow! May is nearly half over already.  However, it’s still  Get Caught Reading Month.  Welcome back to the zany and bizarre story I’ve been writing to encourage people of all ages to read.  As many of you know, a few elite bloggers (and their pets) banded together with one quest — catch the Story Reading Ape reading.

When we left our heroes…

During the first chapter, I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the Story Reading Ape reading.

Last time  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen and I met a number of author-bloggers (and their pets) who joined the quest to catch the illusive Ape. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  (Cowboy Boss and His Destiny), Christoph Fischer (The Gamblers.), John W. Howell (John J. Cannon Trilogy,) and blogger Dan Antion.

This time a new duo gets added to the intrepid band of bloggers –  Hugh Roberts and Toby.  Now, let’s join our adventuring bloggers.

Sign of the Ape 3

Ape in Tokyo

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

I couldn’t see anything when I looked out the portholes of the dirigible.  No, I don’t mean that it was nighttime.  There was nothing to see, just flat blackness.  I supposed it was just as well.  The airship was traveling outside the laws of nature with the alchemist, Cornelis Drebbel, at the helm.

That gave me a very unsettling feeling.  However, the steady whir of the engines was comforting.  The sound was almost hypnotic.  I wondered aloud how long it would take us to get from New York to Tokyo, even with the magic Cornelis used.Kasha reading

“I don’t feel very well,” Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  murmured, and her fur baby, Kasha, put her head on Mary’s knee.

“Air sickness, Mary?” Suzanne DeBrango asked the author in a concerned voice, but Percy the Pug barked a decisive yip.

Tilting my head, I studied the little dog.  It seemed like he sensed something, but we humans were not picking up on it.

Suzanne made a face.  “Now that you mention it, I don’t feel quite right either.  Maybe it was the hors-d’oeuvres back at the Fictional Heroes exhibit,” the blogger-chef suggested.  “My stomach feels all wrong, but then so does my head.”

Abruptly we experienced a sharp bump, an air pocket, I thought.  However, the pressure inside my ears immediately did something strange, causing me to shake my head.  With a sinking feeling I knew that was no air pocket.  It was the blasted alchemy going awry.

“Cornelis Drebbel!” I shouted, much as Felicity, the woman in trousers, would have.  “What have you done?”

Before the words had left my mouth, I felt the sensation of horrible pressure.  It was like having a giant vice in front and in back, pressing hard against me from both sides.  I thought my head might explode, but my ears finally popped, giving me some relief.  It effected my eyesight as well.  Everything blurred and twisted.  Then my eyes bulged painfully, so I squeezed them shut.Anime eyes Kagome

After a moment I the dirigible bumped lightly.  I heard soft groans from my companions.  Snuffling sounds told me Kasha and Percy were sniffing everything excitedly.  My eyes were still closed against all the unpleasant sensations I had just experienced, but I felt a little paw on my knee.  I put my hand out and knew it was the Pug’s sturdy little body, so I petted him.  Then he ran back to Suzanne.

Finally I opened my eyes, but I had trouble focusing.

“Teagan, are you okay?” Mary asked.  “You know, I never realized how huge your eyes were before,” she commented in a puzzled tone.

Or at least it sounded like Mary.  Her hair was blond, but there was something different about it.  When she moved I realized that her hair flowed almost to the floor.  Something else wasn’t wright, but everything was still blurry.

“I think I’m okay,” I told Mary.  “I’m having trouble getting a deep breath though.”

She and Suzanne helped me stand.  Suzanne led us to the portholes.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

“Look at the lights,” Suzanne exclaimed.  “It’s Tokyo!  We’re there.”

Cornelis called out that we should sit down.  The airship was about to land.  The three of us staggered to our seats.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one experiencing my unfortunate symptoms.

“Teagan, could I ask you something?” Suzanne began hesitantly and my affirmative came out as a groan.  “Oh, here – these might help,” she added handing me my glasses.  “Are you feeling a little… deflated?  Because I sure am.”

Putting on my glasses I looked at Suzanne.  I was speechless.  Her hair was suddenly short and bluish-green.  She was dressed in a turquoise metallic futuristic outfit with matching tall boots.  There was one other thing.  Suzanne was flat.  So was Mary.  So were the dogs!  They all looked like anime characters.  I started to hold my hand up in front of my face to see if I had been effected, but I was afraid to look.

I turned to Mary, who was shifting uncomfortably in her seat.  Mary made a complaint to that effect.  She wore a flowing airy gown.  Indeed there was something that prevented her getting comfortable.

“Erm… that might be because of your wings,” I told her.  “I think maybe you’re some sort of goddess character.”

Mary reached frantically behind her and gasped when her fingers came into contact with her wings.

For a moment I studied Suzanne in that futuristic outfit.  I asked her if she thought perhaps somewhere nearby there was a giant robot that belonged to her.  The oddest expression came to her face.Eureka

“I know it sounds crazy,” Suzanne admitted.  “But I think maybe there is!”

“Don’t you all look delicious?” Cornelis exclaimed as he strolled into the area. 

He was dressed as a Victorian gentleman, but that would not be unusual for him.  However, it was certainly odd that he looked like an anime Cornelis Drebbel.  He reminded me of one of the male characters I might see on the Black Butler series.

“Am I supposed to be some kind of goddess?” Mary asked the alchemist.  “These wings!” she added, still uncomfortable in the seat.

“Darling Mary, all women are goddesses,” Cornelis replied slyly with bobbing eyebrows.

“But what about you, Teagan?” Suzanne asked worriedly.

Inuyasha vol-1 1997

Inuyasha (& Kagome) manga, v. 1, 1997

Looking down, I saw that I wore loafers and knee socks.  I was dressed in a pleated skirt, and white blouse with a sailor collar.  It was like an anime schoolgirl uniform.  I groaned even louder than I had when the air was squeezed out of me.  I was barely aware of hearing a rhythmic thumping sound.

“Cornelis Drebbel,” I growled pushing my skirt into place.  “You’d better be glad this skirt was not a mini!  Else you’d be a dead man.”

“I don’t mean the outfit,” Suzanne told me as she gestured to her head, just above her ear. 

Moving a strand of my hair, I realized it was long and black.  I gasped, but apparently that wasn’t the full extent of my transformation.

Finally Suzanne added, “Ears?  Tail!

I put my hands to the top of my head and felt two soft furry ears.  The thumping sound grew faster and louder.  I put a hand to my backside.  The noise was coming from my anxiously swishing, thumping tail!

“Your character may have gotten a little… crossed,” Cornelis said in a droll voice.  “You were actually supposed to be a Neko character.”

Percevil Ulysses Holmes

Percevil Ulysses Holmes

“Come along.  There’s a city square we must get to.  It has a number of billboards bearing images of our quarry.  We can take the giant robot as transportation, if Suzanne will kindly drive him,” Cornelis told us all, with a bow to the blogger-chef.

The turquoise anime version of Suzanne scrambled to the porthole and gasped in excitement.  I followed and my tail swished, knocking over a small table.  Mary glanced at her wings, murmured something about what damage she might do with her wings, and stayed in her uncomfortable seat.  When I reached the window, I saw a huge flatbed being pulled by a heavy duty construction loader.  Stretched out on the flatbed was a giant flying robot.

Cornelis moved to help Suzanne and Percy as they disembarked the dirigible, though they both scampered down the gangway without need of assistance.  Mary’s wings presented more of a problem.  A gust of wind caught her and she was lifted into the air.

“Mary!” I screamed and Kasha barked.

A thread of magical glowing green shot from the alchemist’s hand and wrapped around Mary’s ankle.  Cornelis and Kasha walked down the ramp, with the anime version of Mary in tow via the magical lead.  Once safely on the ground, Cornelis helped her touch down.

My tail swayed as I descended.  It was amazingly useful for balance.  Then my cat ears picked up a familiar voice and barking.  Kasha and Percy also heard it and barked their replies.  A man and a Corgi hopped out of the construction loader.  It was Hugh Roberts and Toby.

Toby reading Hugh

Toby caught reading

Moments after I introduced everyone, my new cat ears picked up muffled sounds.  It was the same music I’d heard back at the wax museum.  I heard the funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme, and I remembered the tunnel back at Time Square into which John W. Howell, Dan Antion, and their pets had gone.  It seemed impossible that it could be them.  Then I heard two dogs barking and a cat’s meow.  It had to be Lucy, Maddie, and MiMi.

Finally the sounds grew loud enough for the other humans to hear. 

“Isn’t that ruckus coming from below ground?” Hugh commented in surprise.

“Yes.  It sure is,” I replied, feeling very worried.

End Chapter 3, The Sign of the Ape

I begin to think the Ape won’t be caught until he simply allows us to do so.  Now that I’ve seen his image all over billboards in Tokyo I think maybe he’s in charge!  Stick around to see what happens to our intrepid bloggers next week!

By the way, it is a work day, so forgive me if I’m slow to answer comments.

GCR pets

 

The Sign of the Ape, furry family cast

Row 1:  Percy, Crystal, Lucy, Kasha

Row 2:  Claudius, Oh Kitty, and Sweeney, and Toby

Row 3:  Wilma, Greta, Maddie, MiMi

 

 

Copyright © 2016 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Special mention to Christopher Graham for the marvelous “Atonement, Tennessee” images.

Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 2 (2016 Rerun)

#GetCaughtReadingMonth

Hello everyone.  As you may have noticed I’m rerunning last year’s mini-series.  It’s about the escapades of our intrepid band of bloggers and their pets.  That was how I participated in Get Caught Reading Month.  After May I’ll get back to my usual posting schedule.

This when I’m not working at my “real” job, I’ll be working on a short story to follow-on the story Chris Graham shared with us in my previous post.  So, I’ve disabled comments today. The comments from last year are still there.

I hope you’ll visit the bloggers included in this post.  Now for the rerun.  Enjoy!

The month of May is a lovely time of year.  It’s also Get Caught Reading (GCR) Month.  As many of you know, I’m doing a midweek mini-series in support of this public service campaign.  The intention of GCR is to encourage people of all ages to read, and that is what bloggers do with every post.  So this fictional, fanciful story includes an intrepid band of bloggers.

Have you caught me reading any sort of novel?  Why yes you have — the novel that inspired the title of this mini-series, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four.  The plot has nothing to do with my story though. I was not ambitious enough to try and follow the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes.  You can get The Sign of the Four free here.

Last Time

During the first chapter I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like  Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the  Story Reading Ape reading.

At Times Square I glimpsed something very large and very furry carrying a book.  He bounded around the corner.  I ran to the spot, but he was long gone.  Then on the sidewalk I saw a banana.  It had to be the sign of the ape.

The Sign of the Ape — Chapter 2The_Sign_of_the_Four-_in_Lippincott’s_Monthly_Magazine_1890

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four Chap. 6, p. 111

 

“Percy and I will meet you at Madame Tussaud’s Celebrity Wax Museum,”  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen had promised.

I had thought the blogger-chef was the only person in New York that I knew.  However, at the famous wax museum I entered a gallery with a marque announcing a new exhibit called Fictional Heroes. I saw familiar faces.

Kasha reading

Kasha reading about Michigan lighthouses

The first thing I noticed was a cowboy who seemed oddly familiar to me.  When I saw author Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  I understood why — it was Tristan Carlson, from Cowboy Boss and His Destiny. Or rather it was a wax version of him. 

Excited barking greeted me.  It was Kasha, Mary’s fur baby.  Kasha stopped for me to pet her, but then tried to run out to the hallway.  Mary of course caught her.

However, something four footed may have been what interested Kasha.  In came two large curly haired dogs.  Mary said she wondered what they were.  A smile slowly spread across my face as I recognized another statue — Ben Andrews of The Gamblers. 

“I believe those would be Laboradoodles, and I think you’re about to meet Christoph Fischer,” I told her just as the writer walked into the room.

Greta-Wilma

Greta and Wilma caught reading

Then I heard the funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme.  I looked back at the collection of wax heroes.  Was there a spy or thriller hero among them?  I didn’t recognize the statue at first.  However, Kasha was sniffing at one.  I saw the wax man was the hero of the John J. Cannon Trilogyby John W. Howell.

It was odd about the music… Was it my imagination?  I gave my head a shake.  However, I forgot about it when a moment later, Percy the Pug led Suzanne into the exhibit.  Seeing the blogger-chef reminded me…  The opening of the exhibit was shaping up to be such a great party that for a moment I almost forgot the strange events that brought me there.  

“Did you happen to see John W. Howell, out there?” I asked Suzanne, motioning to the hallway.

Lucy digging_John

Lucy digging

“Oh, that must have been the man with the boxer.  I thought he looked familiar,” she replied.  “They were just outside.  The dog was trying to dig up something.  She was really persistent about it.”

That was odd.  I knew John’s pets were well behaved.  I wondered what was going on with Lucy.  However, my thoughts were interrupted when all the dogs started barking furiously.  Suzanne deftly picked little Percy up in her arms.  The other dogs tore out of the exhibit, their author owners running frantically behind them.

As the dogs left, I noticed it on the floor near the wax figures.  The sign of the ape — a ripe yellow banana.  I picked up the banana, examining it carefully.  I saw nothing unusual about it.  There was no clue or suggestion of where the Story Reading Ape had gone.  I followed the sound of barking to another gallery.

A single display was far larger than all the rest, taking up an entire wall. Everyone was transfixed by that figure.  It was a wax exhibit of the Ape himself.  The dogs stopped barking, but Kasha, Greta, and Wilma sniffed every inch of the exhibit.  Percy struggled until Suzanne finally let him down to join the others.

“What has them so excited?” Christoph Fischer asked as he moved closer to Greta and Wilma to make sure they weren’t at risk.  

I explained to him about the chase to catch the Story Reading Ape reading.  Meanwhile I examined the display closely, or at least as much of it as I could reach.  Christoph, being taller than the rest of us inspected the higher portions.  However, we found no clues, nothing that would lead me to the Ape.  The dogs had stopped their sniffing.  Apparently they had lost his trail.  

Ape Gallery

Christoph’s Laboradoodles moved over to me.  I petted the dogs, amazed by their soft curly fur.  I wasn’t sure which was Greta and which was Wilma, but they were both adorable.  Soon the authors were called back to their exhibit.  I was able to quickly introduce Suzanne to Christoph and Mary before the authors had to return to their exhibit.

I detained them long enough to ask if any of them had met John Howell yet.  Apparently John never came inside the museum.  That made me uneasy, so I went looking for the Texas based author.

To my surprise, Percy followed me.  A moment later Suzanne ran behind the pug to catch him.  As I rounded a corner I all but collided with a tall man.

MiMi reading_Dan

MiMi reading for a clue

Dan Antion?” I exclaimed in surprise.

It turned out Dan was in New York to meet John W. Howell and see his John Cannon wax statue.  Dan carried a small kennel, from which I heard a meow.  I asked if he always traveled with one of his cats.

“MiMi has been acting really clingy and… just strange,” he confessed.  “I could have sworn I heard her meowing back and forth with some other cats, but she was alone.  Then she got one of my books.  She slapped my hand when I tried to take it away from her.  I thought it was best to take her with me.”

I suspected Annette‘s cats had called Dan’s for a meow-wow, just as they had called Crystal.  Then I heard barking from a new canine voice.  Dan looked around worriedly and muttered something I didn’t catch.  Suddenly I realized he must have brought his dog too.

Maddie sniffing_Dan

Maddie on the trail

“Maddie!” he called and then whistled as we all moved toward the barking. 

 Outside the museum was a small landscaped area.  Percy ran to a sizable hole in the ground there.  Dan’s Irish Setter had already gone into the hole, but she ran back out when Dan called her.  At that point I realized the hole wasn’t simply a hole, but a tunnel.

Then I heard it again…  It sounded far away and muffled, but I could hear the funky James Bond guitar music again.  The music seemed to move gradually farther away.  Percy wagged his little tail and gave a yip, as if he meant to say everything was as it should be.  Suzanne and I exchanged puzzled looks.  

“I think John and Lucy are down there,” I told them.

Before you could say boo, Dan along with Maddie and MiMi, went into the tunnel after John W. Howell.  Suzanne tightened her grip on Percy’s leash, but the pug didn’t try to follow the others.

“It might be dangerous — especially for just one person,” Dan called from the tunnel.  “I’d better go after John and Lucy.”

A taxi rolled up.  It was the same driver that brought me to the wax museum, the same driver who looked a lot like the pilot of the airship — I mean the man who looked an awful lot like Cornelis Drebbel.  Suzanne’s eyes widened.

Percy Tie pug hill

Percy reads Pug Hill

“It’s him isn’t it?” she exclaimed.  “It’s the alchemist.  How did you bring Cornelis Drebbel here?” she asked in astonishment.

I told her that he was actually the one who brought me.  At that point I had to admit to myself that the driver/pilot truly was Cornelis Drebbel.  Yes, I had been in denial.  As  Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”  My driver and pilot had been Cornelis Drebbel, the alchemist.

 

Cornelis began to flirt outrageously with Suzanne.  The two were having such a good time, I didn’t mean to be a wet blanket.  However, all I could think about was the fact that I had no idea where to look next for the Story Reading Ape.  Then I realized I still had the banana, the sign of the ape.  I took a closer look at it.  There was a little sticker, a brand mark, but the writing was Japanese.

Cornelis looked askance.  I showed him the sticker.  

“Oh yes, I know this market.  It’s in Tokyo,” he said, but I gave him a blank stare.  “That’s your next clue.  Come along now.  Get in the car.  We need to take the dirigible to get there,” he added and I mutely got into the cab.

“Well m’lady?  May I have the honor?” Cornelis spoke to Suzanne and she and Percy eagerly got into the taxi.  

“Did you say dirigible?  That sounds like a slow way to get to Japan,” Suzanne commented.  “Cornelis, are you going to use magic?” she asked with a grin.

Cornellis merely wriggled his bushy eyebrows.  

I cringed.  This couldn’t be good.

“Where is that blond?” Cornelis asked hopefully.

“Do you mean Mary J. McCoy-Dressel?” I wanted to know.

“Well yes, we have a brunette and a redhead,” Cornelis said as if explaining to a child. “It would work better if we also had a blond too.”

That of course made no sense at all to me.  However, as if on cue, I heard barking and Kasha bounded up to Cornelis.  Mary ran after her dog, but looked at Cornelis Drebbel in shock.

“Is he?” she began and I nodded.

“Cornelis, what would work better?” I demanded as a queasy feeling formed in my stomach.  “Cornelis Drebbel, you’re not planning some complicated alchemy are you?”

The alchemist wriggled his bushy eyebrows again.  This really, really couldn’t be good.

***

End Chapter 2

If you remember Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, then you know Cornelis Drebbel’s magic had a tendency to go awry.  Between the alchemist and the Ape, what will happen to our intrepid band of bloggers in Tokyo?  And what about John and Dan (and their pets)?  We left them in that tunnel.  Come back for the next midweek episode to find out.

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

In the Pip of Time & 10 Things Not To Do

Hello, everyone!  We have a guest today.  My thanks to John W. Howell, for agreeing to do a joint post with me, using one of his fabulous lists of what not to do!  Actually, this post is already live at his blog, Fiction Favorites.  Some of you have already visited there, so I thank you and I apologize for giving you a rerun.

John recently re-launched the first book in his “John J. Cannon” trilogy, My GRL.  Click here for details.  He also has the marvelous blog I mentioned above, Fiction Favorites.  John uses a different theme for each day of the week.  Mondays are a fun take on lists with Top Ten Things Not to Do.  So now I present John’s part of this collaboration.  

John W. Howell — take it away, my friend!

Top Ten Things Not to Do If You are Transported Back to the Roaring Twenties

This week’s list is inspired by Teagan R. Geneviene who is working to release her next 1920’s novel. In a discussion, she wondered aloud what it would be like to be transported back to the roaring twenties. My mind went immediately to the Top Ten things one shouldn’t do if transported. You see, I have the belief that Teagan can do anything she puts her mind to doing. I feel it is my job to warn her in case she is successful. So here is the list.

Top Ten Things Not to Do If You are Transported Back to the Roaring Twenties

10. If you have been transported to the roaring twenties, do not try to pay for anything with the money in your pocket. If you do, at best you’ll be a laughing-stock. At worst, you may be charged with counterfeiting. (Nothing like a little time on bread and water to help that waistline huh, Bunky?)

9. If you have been transported to the roaring twenties, do not let anyone see your iPhone or Apple watch. If you do, at best they will think you are from Hollywood. At worst, you might find yourself tied to a stake on top of a very big pile of wood. (That guy with the kerosene and matches heading this way is not the fire chief, Buford.)

1923 Quasimodo claims sanctuary for Esmeralda

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1923) Quasimodo claims sanctuary for Esmeralda.

8. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties do not think you can tell someone how a computer works in hopes of usurping Bill Gates. If you do, at best you’ll have very confused people trying to understand your directions. At worst, that jacket you are being fitted for is not for show. (Does the name Bellevue ring a bell, Buster?)

7. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not try out your Charleston until you see how others do it. If you do, at best those old movies were wrong. At worst, most everyone will assume you have been over-served. (The nice part there are no cell phone videos to go viral huh, Tex?)

6. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not laugh when you are served a martini in a teacup. If you do, at best the bartender will think you are drunk. At worst, the gang may assume you are a Fed and invite you to take a swim while wearing cement overshoes. (Boy, those guys play rough don’t they, Slick.)

bartender-vintage

5. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties do not wave second-hand cigarette smoke away and claim you are allergic. If you do, at best you might be asked to leave. At worst, Tiny the Bronx wrestling champ and the club bouncer might ask you to leave his way. (You were sure that door was going to stop you from hitting the ally weren’t you, Champ. Oh yes. Tiny says you owe him for a new door.)

4. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not grab a megaphone and start singing Winchester Cathedral. If you do, at best you’ll get strange looks. At worst, people will think you have a crush on Rudy Vallee. (You see Ferd, it would be like singing a Bono song. It’s just not done.)

3. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties do not try to pump your own gas. If you do, at best you won’t be able to crank the pump. At worst, the local service station attendant may think you are after his job. (How did that large monkey wrench feel before you passed out huh, Babe?)

1920s Vaudeville Cats postcard

1920s Vaudeville Cats Postcard

2. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not ask for a doggie bag at the restaurant. If you do, at best you’ll get a raw bone. At worst, the chef might assume you felt his food was only fit for dogs. (I would not argue with a guy who has such a big knife, Pard. In fact, I would take off running.)

1. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not use slang until sure of the proper context. If you do, at best you might insult a few people. At worst, you may have triggered a full-blown riot. (Who knew Twenty-Three Skidoo was a code word for a steelworker rebellion. Not you huh, Putz?)

***

Ha-ha!  I love John’s lists.  Another favorite day at his blog is Wednesday Story Day.  (First episode here.) What a whiplash inducing serial that is!

Okay, now for my part of this joint post.  This vignette is set in the Roaring Twenties world of my flapper character, Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip.  (For more about Pip, see The Three Things Serial Story, click here.)

Most of you know that I’m fond of doing “pantser” stories, written spontaneously, according to random things, provided by readers.  This time I took my three things from numbers nine and ten of John’s list:  Counterfeiting, Time, and Hollywood.  I hope you enjoy this impromptu vignette.  Here goes!

In the Pip of Time

Aelita_1924_still_04

“Aelita, Queen of Mars” was playing at the Bijou Theatre.  I was brand new in town and my pal Alastair Wong invited me to go to the show with a group of his friends.  However, the friends cancelled.  To my surprise, Granny Phanny and Dr. Veronica Vale took the tickets.  At first I couldn’t understand why they would want to see a science fiction film about a soldier, an inventor, and a police informant taking the first flight to Mars.

Veronica reminded Alastair and me that she and Granny had been, and basically would always be suffragettes.  They encouraged films with strong female characters.  Of course, in this story, Aelita is not what she at first seemed and things end badly for her.  Nonetheless she was a strong character and the two older women wanted to see the show.

Afterward, Granny and Veronica were still animatedly discussing the story as we walked out of the Bijou.  Alastair and I were fascinated by the Hollywood “movie magic” that created the Martian city and the spaceship.  As you might expect our discussion was more whimsical than that of the older generation.

“What if somebody from Mars came here?” Alastair pondered.

250px-Princess_of_Mars_large

I always got a kick out of Alastair’s mildly British accent.  So I was already smiling when I told him Martians would have a tough time fitting in with humans.  It was doubtful that anybody would think they were the bee’s knees! 

A man wearing a bizarre metal hat and strange clothes burst out of the theater.  He tried to close a fancy briefcase as he ran.  Several bills flew out of it.  He grabbed most of them, but I noticed the breeze took one over to a planter.  The man just kept running until he rounded the corner of the Bijou.

Out of curiosity, Alastair and I followed him to the dead end alley behind the theater.  We backed against the wall, when a moment later a woman ran after him.  She had pointy cone shaped things over her ears.  Though no one was with her, she spoke as if in conversation with someone.  She held something that must have been a large gun, although it didn’t look quite like any shooter I’d ever seen.  She pointed it at the man and yelled for him to stop.

Gods_of_Mars-1918 Edgar Rice Burroughs

Then she fired the gun — I think.  At least she pointed it and seemed to shoot it, but I didn’t see it do anything.  However, the trash can six feet ahead of the guy exploded.  He looked at her fearfully, but he kept running.  So she threw a whirling thingamajig at his feet, causing him to fall.

The woman jumped on him, with her knee in his back, pinning him to the ground.  She muttered something about “low-life securities thief.”  He grunted at the pressure from her knee.

Then she spotted Alastair and me.  We shrank further against the wall.  The odd gun looked even bigger when she pointed it at us.  That bearcat had a fierce glare, I can tell you.  To my astonishment she abruptly started laughing.

Sci Fi Costume 1920s woman.png

“I could warn you not to tell anyone what you just saw,” she stopped chortling long enough to say.  “But if you did, they’d think you were insane.”

Still chuckling, she touched one of the pointy cones that covered her ears.  She and the man disappeared into thin air!  It was as if they had never been there at all — except for the exploded remains of the trash can.

Alastair and I exchanged wide eyed looks, speechless.  He made an obviously uncomfortable attempt at laughing.

“Those Hollywood types.  They’ll do anything to promote a film.”

“But there was nobody to see that but us,” I managed to say, though it was more of a squeak.  “It wouldn’t be much of a promo.”

I headed back around the corner, remembering the paper that fell out of the odd man’s briefcase.  The man had missed one and I saw it land in a planter.  I plucked it out of the greenery.

“That looks like mazuma,” Alastair whispered.  “Cash money!  But it’s not any currency I’ve ever seen.  Maybe it’s counterfeit.”

Inspecting it closely I nodded and turned the paper over to read both sides.  “It says ‘Federal Reserve Note’ but you’re right.  It must be counterfeit.  It’s odd looking, but even if it was from some other country, they’ve got the date wrong.  It says 2419.  As if maybe somebody transposed the date.”

Alastair and I continued to stare at one another.  Now and then one or the other of us would take a breath, start to say something, and then shrug mutely.

Finally I summoned the only words I could.  “I wouldn’t mind getting spifflicated about now.”

Alastair agreed.

The end.

***

1920s Man on Moon Drinking

If you want to know more about the upcoming 1920s culinary mystery, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I, click here.

Thanks so very much for visiting.  Mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2017 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.