Sunday, December 4, 2016

Enchanted Letters and Kittens On The Prowl


“Thank you Damon.” Diomedes says, accepting the letter. It is wrapped in a heavy parchment envelope and has been secured with a wax seal. The seal pulsates with a strange pink glow.
Dylan climbs up on to the couch to get a closer look. “It's glowing,” the tow haired boy says.
Peter and Paige make their way to Diomedes' other side to inspect it. Furnatche runs over to Diomedes and whimpers until someone picks him up. The baby dragon sniffs at the envelope intensely and begins to purr. His fur begins to glow in the same pattern as the wax seal.
“I didn't know that you could do that.” Dylan says reaching out to pet Furnatche.
“He is a magical creature. He is simply recognizing the power of other magical creatures.” The seven foot dragon says.
“He doesn't glow for you.” The four year-old points out.
Diomedes smiles gently. “The magic of Faerie travels along a wide range of wavelengths. Clearly, I am from a different part of Faerie than Furnatche is. This letter must have come from a place very close to Furnatche's home.”
Dylan looks down at Furnatche and says, “Maybe it's for you.”
“Let's see, shall we?” Diomedes suggests, breaking the seal on the letter, and opening it.

Diomedes,
If you are reading this something has gone horribly wrong. That last sentence sounds a bit clichéd doesn't it? Unfortunately it is the truth. Something has gone wrong. Well, I'm stuck, in Faerie. I don't know that I'm stuck but I am in Faerie and since it is a magical place existing in another dimension and I don't know how to get back home...I'm stuck. I am having trouble recalling many of the specifics of life in Faerie which puts me at a loss of what to do next. Usually someone ends up here and has some kind of fantastic adventure. I have to admit that it has been an adventure so far. Let me get you up to speed.
When we discovered that the house had grown too quiet and parted ways to search for the kittens TP told me that he knew where all of the cats were and he would lead me to them. I could tell from the calls traveling throughout the house that they could not be found. I decided to follow his directions keeping in mind that he is TP and usually up to something. Most definitely up to something this time. I followed his directions to stand in my closet, turn around five times fast, and sing “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry. He promised me cheese puffs and entrance to Faerie. I did it. It was scary, painful to my ears, and lasted way too long. I saw a strange light in the upper corner of the closet. There might be video. If there is please destroy it. Don't watch it if you want to keep your ability to hear...anything. Seriously.
I ended up in a part of Faerie that is amazing. It looks exactly the way I always pictured it. A place of lush, green meadows full of wildflowers, cottages, idyllic villages. It was idyllic until I met the ogre. He cornered me at the entrance to an alley behind the town square. He kept telling me how good I smelled and how I reminded him of a baker he'd had for dinner once upon a time. I asked him if the baker was the guest or the entrée. Damon found me before the ogre had a chance to answer. He has become quite eloquent since we last met.
The point is that Damon got me back on track. Neither one of us are quite sure where that track leads so I left this note with Damon and sent him back the way I came hoping that he would find his way back to you.
I don't know how long I will be gone. Keep things going the way that they have always been for now. Try not to arouse suspicion. Text my folks from time to time so that they don't stop by to see if anything is wrong. I hope to return soon. If too much time passes and the cats return they are going to have to go live with Grandma for a while. Sorry Dobby Cat these things happen. I love you all. Be safe. Take care of each other.

Love,
Writer Lady

“Duuude...this is serious.” Ray says, looking at Damon.
The demon nods his head, toilet paper flutters with each nod.
“There is no need to worry.” Diomedes says reassuringly. “We just need to make sure that we text Grandma. If someone could just tell me, what is a text?”
Everyone looks at each other.
Dylan rolls his eyes and says, “It's okay. I've got this.”


“It looks like he's going to try using one of those flying bubble things.” Spots Wash says.
“He's looking for a way in.” Smudge Mal continues, finishing his brother's thought. “We need to find one of the those bubbles too.”
A bubble passes overhead landing several yards behind them. The kittens watch as the bubble's passenger disembarks. He is a portly elf with a long white beard, wearing shorts and a brightly colored shirt. A long red sleeve trimmed with white fur is tumbling out of a bag that the elf is carrying.
“Wait here. Watch and remember where that bubble goes. I'll be right back.” Smudge Mal says.
Spots Wash watches as Monitor Man walks around the bubble searching for an entrance. Monitor Man starts feeling along the outside of the bubble. His hand stops when the surface of the bubble starts to change color. He smiles. His hand begins pushing through the bubble's perimeter.
“Hey.”
Spots hears him call out.
“Hey!”
The kitten listens as someone approaches and stands on Monitor Man's far side outside Spots' line of sight.
“Something is happening.” Monitor Man says.
Spots listens for an answer from their target's unknown traveling companion. A hawk flies overhead screeching, and drowning out all other discernible sounds.
“I placed my hand on the surface of the bubble, it started glowing, and after a few seconds I was able to push my way through...or maybe the bubble is pulling me in. I can't tell. Try it.” He says. “I'll wait for you.”
At the same time more and more of Monitor Man's arm enters the bubble.
“Hurry.”
A slit glows along the outside of the bubble traveling down from where his arm has entered. A tip of one foot begins edging towards the slit.
“Things are starting to speed up here. Hurry.”


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Getting Sucked In


“Duuuude...what are you doing in the bathroom?” Ray asks. He turns and looks at the sea of faces watching him curiously. He smiles. Ray turns back to the bathroom and enters. His voice fades as he says, “Long time no see man,” and closes the door behind him. He emerges minutes later with Damon following close behind. The demon has toilet paper hanging off of both horns and his mouth is coated in mauve lipstick. He is dressed in jeans and a t-shirt that reads “Visit Faerie. Enchantment Awaits.” Damon follows Ray into the living room eagerly, smiling as he looks around at all of the familiar faces. His eyes stop. His smile disappears. The demon walks straight to Diomedes and hands him an envelope.

Writer Lady and Monitor Man keep low. They make their way through the rain forest using every caution. After verifying that they have lost their pursuers, the two find their way to the bubble landing site. Hiding behind...what else? Trees, the pair watch as a family of platypus leave their abandoned bubbles and head into a stand of trees in the distance. The bubbles darken slightly and the noise level lowers to a quiet hum.
“What's happening?” Monitor Man asks.
“I think that they may be shutting down. No...wait...the bubbles are still humming. They must be in quiet mode? Why?” She responds.
“They're waiting for new passengers.” He suggests.
Writer Lady and Monitor Man look at the empty bubble, look at each other, and smile. Each make their way to a bubble.
“How do we get inside?” He asks.
“I don't know.”
Something rustles among the trees. Both look in the direction of the sound. A lioness emerges from the shadows with a house cat following close behind.
“Can't we ride the bubbles Mom?” The cat asks.
“Not this time dear. We need to get home. Your father is already on his way back from the canned fish convention.”
“If we take bubbles won't we get there faster?”
“We're practically home now.”
“Mo-om.” The cat whines.
“Maybe next time dear.”
“Mom...I promise not to break another one.” He says, trying again.
“You have better control of your claws?” The lioness asks.
“I practice every day. I remember what Dad said too, 'If you knead you can't fly with speed'.”
“That's very good.”
“Let me show you.” The house cat presses.
“Next time.”
“Pleeeaase?”
The lioness smiles, she blinks, and answers patiently. “Next time.”
“O...kay.”
“A lioness and a house cat.” Monitor Man says, watching as they continue their journey.
“Yeah.” Writer Lady says, returning to the task at hand.
“Did you hear me? A lioness and a house cat?”
“Faerie? We're in Faerie. We are going to see things like that. Can you help me get one of these bubbles moving or do you need to be shot at before motivation kicks in?” Writer Lady asks, crossing her arms.
“Asks the cranky woman.”
“Excuse me.” She says, pointing to the target on the front of his t-shirt. “I am traveling in another dimension with a moving target and an unknown assailant. It makes a woman cranky.”
There's a rustling noise in the trees. Both Writer Lady and Monitor Man look in the direction the sound originated.
A second louder sound echoes through the open expanse. An orange monkey screeches as it travels through nearby branches.
“Maybe now is a good time to get going. We're too visible here.” Monitor Man says.
“Ya think?”

Spots Wash looks through the trees and watches Monitor Man as his eyes follow the lioness and house cat walking past him. He starts talking the moment that he senses Smudge Mal behind him.
“Am I still your useless little brother? I found him.”
Smudge Mal looks at what Spots Wash is looking at. “I'll be...”
“darned.” Spots says finishing his brother's sentence.
“Finally...things are gonna get interesting.”

“Help!” Carp calls into the vastness that is Faerie.
“Here comes another one.” Tinkletoes says. “Be more aggressive.”
“Remember that in Faerie everything can sense your emotions and can reject you at any time because of them.” Black Buck coaches.
A bubble zips across the meadow, skirting over grasses and flowers.
“Here it comes.” Black Buck says.
“Take control.” Tinkletoes says, looking at Carp. “You're a soldier.”
Carp looks at Tinkletoes and nods. Facing the bubble, he raises both hands indicating that he is the one in need of a ride. The bubble floats to Carp, immediately reversing within inches of the self-trained assassin.
Carp looks at Tinkletoes with uncertainty.
“I won't let you fail.” Tinkletoes says, turning to the bubble. “Hey!” He yells. The bubble pauses its retreat.
Black Buck and Carp look at each other.
“Come on.” Tinkletoes says, looking at Carp.
Carp makes his way over to Tinkletoes and the bubble. He reaches out and bubble starts backing away.
Tinkletoes walks around the back of the bubble stopping behind it. The bubble stops moving.
“Try again.” Tinkletoes says.
Carp raises his hand again, as the bubble floats back Tinkletoes stops it with his own hand. The spot where Tinkletoes' hand meets the surface turns green. The bubble begins warming.
“I have seen that before.” Black Buck says.
As the bubble warms, Tinkletoes' hand pushes its way through the bubble's membrane.
The bubble moves closer. Slowly, more and more of Tinkletoes is surrounded by the sphere.
“Whoa.” Tinkletoes says. “Slow down. I'm not getting inside. Carp is.”
The bubble continues inching its way forward engulfing the self-proclaimed mercenary's arm to his shoulder.
“I said, Whoa.”
The bubble glows, turning red. It begins to back up. Beep...beep...beep...
“Hey...Hey!” Tinkletoes yells.
The bubble stops.
Tinkletoes looks at Carp and Black Buck, standing tall and muscular with a floating bubble half engulfing one forearm.
“I think that the bubble disagrees.” Black Buck says.
I didn't ask the damn thing what it wanted.” He responds glaring at the bubble. Tinkletoes looks at Carp. “You...get over here.”
Carp makes his way to Tinkletoes.
“Get in.” Tinkletoes says.
The bubble begins floating back and forth.
Carp reaches up to steady the bubble. A sheet of bright light travels along the outside of the bubble illuminating and electrifying its surface. “Ouch.” Carp says removing his hands.
The light disappears. The bubble adjusts its position inching closer and closer to Tinkletoes. There is a loud sucking sound. The self-proclaimed mercenary is surrounded.
“I have never seen that before.” Black Buck says.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Where There Are Bubbles...


Getting no response Monitor Man continues, “Monitor Man, it's so wonderful to see you! Pie?” He asks, mimicking Writer Lady. He looks down at an imaginary pie that he is holding. “That looks amazing. I don't mind if I do.” He says. He lowers his head to eat only to have it redirected by Writer Lady as she gives him privy to her view.
“What the...” He says as a pair of giant bubbles zooms by their heads. “What are those things?”
“Bubbles.” Writer Lady says. “Flying bubbles.”
“Something is inside.”
“I think that it might be...” Writer Lady pauses as they watch the bubbles that had just flown past their heads lower to the ground. “...some form of transportation.”
“In this mess?” Monitor Man asks.
“Yes.”
Monitor Man studies Writer Lady looking for more information.
“Haven't you noticed that the rain is not as heavy now?” Writer Lady points skyward. “The vegetation is so thick that we aren't getting drenched like we were when we were out in the open?”
Something disturbs the tree tops behind them. Monitor Man pushes Writer Lady to the ground seconds before bubbles shoot past where their heads used to be.
Writer Lady looks up nearly butting heads with Monitor Man, “See? The bubbles are flying low. They're protected by the trees.”
“If they are a method of transportation...are you thinking what I'm thinking?” Monitor Man asks, standing up.
Writer Lady nods. “We need to find out if they really are a method of transportation and if anyone can use them.”
“If they are then we can get out of here.” He says, offering Writer Lady a hand as she rises from the jungle floor.
Writer Lady looks at Monitor Man and smiles. “Or...” She says raising an eyebrow.
Monitor Man picks up her thought and raises a brow in return. “We can circle back around and turn the tables on our pursuers.”

“This is going to be so much fun.” Carp says.
“What?” Tinkletoes asks.
“Catching a bubble. We can search a lot more quickly with one of those things.”
Tinkletoes thinks for a bit and smiles. “I have to say I like the idea of watching you try to catch one of those things.”
“I am a retired writer. I have an imagination. I am open to other possibilities. I've got this.” Carp says. “It will be more fun watching you try to catch one. Big, thundering, no imagination. Those bubbles are never going to open up to you my friend.”
“That isn't part of the plan.” Tinkletoes says. “My plan is...”
“You aren't coming?” Carp asks.
“My plan is...”
“It won't be the same.”
Tinkletoes glares at Carp. “The plan is: you search by air. I'm staying on the ground. That's where the real searching gets done.”

“She's not in the bonus room.” Paige says, entering the living room.
“Not in the kitchen.” Peter calls, returning with Dylan following close behind.
“She's not in High Command.” Ray says, sniffing at a brightly colored cat toy he returns from High Command with.
“What are you sniffing at?” Paige asks.
“Catnip.” Ray says. He leans in close and inhales deeply. “Good stuff.” He sniffs again. “Not domestic.”
Diomedes looks at Ray, “Imported?” He asks.
“Duuude...somewhere good too. Madagascar? No way man. That can't be right.” Ray sniffs again.
“Why are you sniffing catnip?” Dylan asks thoughtfully.
“I'm the cat.” Ray says, looking down at the tow headed boy.
“Well, Mr. Cat, did Writer Lady leave a note?” Paige asks.
Ray continues sniffing. “What?”
“You were in High Command? With the desk? Paper? Pens? A dry erase board? Did she leave a note saying where she went?”
Ray turns around looking in the direction of High Command, he turns back facing the others. “Um...no?”
Paige looks down studying the clipboard that she's holding. “What is the status of the bedroom?” She asks without looking up.
“All clear.” Mural Man calls, entering the room, and stopping next to House.
“We've checked the kitchen, the bonus room, the laundry room, Writer Lady's bedroom and High Command. That leaves...the bathroom. Who wants to look in there?” Paige asks, looking up and searching the room for a volunteer. “Anyone?”
There is silence.
“Ray?”
Ray takes a step back.
“What's wrong? You're the cat. Writer Lady loves cats. Doesn't she love you?”
“Du—ude yeah. But not in the bathroom. You should never go into the bathroom when a female is doing her...thing.”
“Diomedes?” She asks.
The dragon answers almost immediately, “I do not invade ladies' commodes.”
“The bathroom was the room we found you in.”
“I did not know that it was a lady's commode.” Diomedes counters. “If I had I never would have entered.”
Everyone looks at Dylan who takes a step back stopping next to his big brother.
“Don't tell me that you're scared of that woman.” House says.
“And you're not?” Ray asks. “Dude.”
“The bathroom is part of me, as I am part of it.”
“Then you check.” Paige says.
“No. I don't care where she is. The longer she's gone the easier my life is. When she's gone I can do things with this place.” House says wistfully.
“Aunt Purdy says that doing things behind someone's back is bad.”
“So.” House says.
“I agree.” Paige announces.
“I don't. I don't care what you think either. Who put little Miss Overachiever here in charge?” House asks.
A strange noise is heard coming from the bathroom. Everyone turns to look at the bathroom door.
“What was that?” Peter asks.
The noise grows louder.
“Dude...that bathroom is haunted man.”
The noise repeats louder accompanied by the sound of glass breaking.
“It sounds like someone is going to have to go in there.” Paige says, looking at the group.
More glass breaks as the floor shakes beneath them. House cries out in pain.
“That's it.” Mural Man says. “I'm going in.”
“No way man. You'll get wet and dissolve.”
Ray looks at the cat toy he is holding, he takes one last inhalation. “It's okay man. I've got this.” Ray places the toy on an end table and makes his way into the hall stopping at the bathroom door. The door opens, a bright light radiates through the hallway and into the living room. “Duuude....”



Sunday, October 2, 2016

Faerie Lands and Good Friends


Carp reaches out and touches the antelope's offered hoof.  Hey it's a hoof.  The closest you can get to a hand shake is a fist bump.  You think that I make this stuff up as I go along?  So, Carp reaches out and touches the antelope's offered hoof.  “Carp.”  He says introducing himself.
“The writer with the bows and arrows.”
“With terrible aim.”  Tinkletoes says, bumping his fist against Black Buck's hoof. “Tinkletoes.”  He says introducing himself.
“The Great Ninja-Zombie Slayer.”
“And the next President of the United States.”   The self-proclaimed mercenary adds.
“Yes of course.”  Black Buck agrees.
“How is your campaign going sir?”
“Well...um..things have been better.   My VP disappeared on me.”
“Monitor Man?  That's not good.”
Carp watches Tinkletoes and Black Buck as they talk.   “How did you know about us?”   Carp asks looking at the antelope.
Black shifts his gaze to Carp and smiles.  “TP visits quite frequently to share the details of his adventures among all of the silly humans.  He is popular here.   So popular that the other faeries refer to his stories as 'The Silly Human Chronicles.'  You should have seen the group of listeners during his last visit.”
“TP's always with us.”  Tinkletoes says.
“Remember, time moves differently here.  TP can come and stay for many hours but in our world only a snippet of time has passed.”
Tinkletoes nods.
“All of the stories that I've read describe it as working in the opposite manner.” Carp says.
“It is actually quite different.  Did you know that faeries can work together to not only control time but things like details of their geographical setting and the weather?”
“The weather?”
“We all have our favorite settings...our optimal climates for survival.   They just decide what they want and run with it.”
“Like one minute we are in a sunny, meadow and the next we could be in...”
“A desert.”   Black Buck says, finishing Carp's thought.
“That doesn't sound like a good idea.”
“Not for us Earth creatures it isn't.”  The antelope continues.  “One time I was visiting, it was a sunny day.  A climate much like this one.  Two faeries showed up.  They each wanted a different climate and could not agree on one.  One of them wanted a tropical climate, the other an icy tundra.”
Carp takes out a pad and pen.   He starts scribbling.
Black continues, “They threw spells around for hours until two spells converged and hit the atmosphere as one.  I found myself in an Amazonian rain forest during a hurricane.   The two faeries got out their raincoats, hats, and galoshes. The played in the storm for what seemed like an eternity.  I nearly drowned.”
“What happened when the faeries got tired of playing in the rain?”  Carp asks.
“They left.”
“What happened to the rain forest?”
“Once an environment is changed by magic it remains until another faerie or magical being comes along and changes it.   So I waited for the next transport and left.”
“Transport?”  The assassin-in-training asks.
Black Buck looks between the pair of interested faces and smiles.  “Yes.   The transports are being size bubbles that float.”
“How much?”   Tinkletoes asks.
“This is Faerie.  Money doesn't exist here.  They are free for anyone to use.  You two would have to catch yours first, place the palm of your hand on to the bubble and hold it there until your heat signature is absorbed and added to the data base.”
“Heat signatures aren't unique.”  Tinkletoes points out.
Black Buck looks at Carp and asks, “Has he been listening?”
“Everything is a little bit different in Faerie.”  Carp repeats.
Tinkletoes nods.  “Then what?”
“The bubbles are permeable.  After the bubble has accepted you then you step inside.”
“No thanks.  I'll walk.”
“You don't have ride inside.”  Black Buck offers.  “You could just hop on.”
“Hop on?”   Tinkletoes asks, jaw clenching.
“Sit on top.”   The antelope explains.
Carp shakes his head,  “Tinkletoes doesn't ride around inside giant bubbles or on top of them.”
“Real Men Don't.”   Tinkletoes announces.
Black Buck looks at Carp and finishes sharing the details.   “Transports come through based on the number of souls counted.  They come through this meadow twice a day.  Remember, they never use the same route.”
“How do these transports know where to go?”  Carp asks, pen poised and ready for more.
“They can hear lost souls calling out to them.”
“Help!”
Tinkletoes turns his head listening for the calls origin.   “What the...”
“HELP!”
The group looks to the west and finds a family of platypuses calling out and waving. “HELP!”
“See.”  Black Buck says, nodding towards the horizon.
Four bubbles, one for each puss, comes floating over meadow grasses and stops. The group watches as each platypus takes their place in or on his or her personal bubble.
“Look Mom.  I'm riding on top.”  A smaller platypus calls out.
“Not today.  Your father is in a hurry.  Get inside.”
“Mo-om.”
“Don't argue with your mother.”  The largest platypus calls out.
“O-kay.”   The young platypus slides down the outside of his bubble and climbs inside.
The largest platypus calls out, “Pixie River.  Step on it!”
The bubbles take off, whizzing over the men's heads and the antelope's horns as they pass.

“Did you find anything?”  Monitor Man asks, stopping behind Writer Lady.
“Shhh.”
“Have you noticed how much you have been shushing me lately?”  He asks.
“Shhh.”
“No.  I didn't think so.  Do you remember that time that I came to visit and you hung my every word, laughed, smiled, and offered me pie?  I miss those days.”
“You also left, shacked up with Incredibly Hot Woman, then returned only to drag me into a war with Ninja-Zombies since then.”
“It was a slight disagreement.”
Writer Lady turns and looks at Monitor Man.
“An inter-dimensional incident?”
She doesn't falter.
“You didn't have to come and get me out.”
“Leave you and forever be known as the woman that let Monitor Man become a zombie?”
“A Ninja-Zombie.”
“The end result would have been...”  Writer Lady rolls her eyes upward, holds out both arms, and starts groaning.  “No.  I would have been killed by your adoring fans within the week.”   She lowers her voice.  “Besides, you're too cute for that.  It would have been such a waste.”
“I'm cute?   Am I sexy too?”  Monitor Man asks.
“Shhh!”
“And we're back to square one.”

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Exploring A New Dimension Without A Guidebook


 
“Maybe if I walk backwards.”   Carp says turning around to face the road already traveled.
“What are you doing?”  Tinkletoes asks.
“The cat and the lioness came from behind.  What if there's more and it's on its way?”
“Okay.”  Tinkletoes says continuing his hike.   The self-proclaimed mercenary sees something ahead, processes what he sees and smiles.   “The interesting stuff is in front of you.”
Carp turns around, there is a sharp intake of breath.  The assassin in training stops and stares.  “It's an antelope, blocking the road.”  Carp says looking at Tinkletoes.   “And he's meditating.”

Spots Wash watches the space recently abandoned by their target's unknown ally.   The sound of their footsteps grow fainter and disappear into the darkened trees.
“Should we split up?”   He asks.
“No.”  Smudge Mal says. “We follow Monitor Man.”
“What about the other guy?”
“We stick to the mission.”
“What if the other guy comes along and saves Monitor Man?”
“He can't.”
“What if he can?”
“He won't.”
“What if...?”
“We are Browncoats.”  Smudge Mal says looking at his brother.  “We took the job.  We finish the job.  That's it.”
Spots Wash walks around Smudge Mal in a circle, thumping his tail behind him as he walks.
“I'm older and what I say goes.”   Smudge Mal says.  “So don't challenge me on this.   You won't win.”
“If we don't do something about the other one you won't win either.”
“Don't worry lil' brother.  I have already made adjustments to the plan.  I have already made adjustments.”

“Psst.  Psst.  Psst!”   Writer Lady whispers from a few feet behind Monitor Man.
“What?”   Monitor Man whispers.
“Do you see anything?”
“No.  I don't think that it worked.  What are you doing back?  You've only been gone for a few minutes.”
Writer Lady continues closing the distance between them.   “You said, 'Walk over there.' ”   She says gesturing with a nod of her head.
“Was I a little bit short with the instructions?”  Monitor Man asks.
“Ye-ah.”
Monitor Man attempts to explain his instructions.
“Shhh...”
Monitor Man looks at Writer Lady.
“I heard something.”
“You heard something?”
“Didn't you?”  She asks.
He listens more closely then shakes his head.   “I hear nothing.”
“You can't hear that?”
He shakes his head.
Writer Lady looks at Monitor Man, “When you get back home you might want to get your ears checked.”  Writer Lady turns her head and listens again.  “It's getting closer.”  She whispers and slips off towards the phantom sound.
“I'm getting a dog whistle.  How about that for a hearing test?”
Writer Lady turns around, “What? Why?”
“It's a gift?   My friend just bought his first dog.”  He answers weakly.
“Oh.  Why are you thinking about that now?”   She asks with a puzzled look.
“I don't know.”  Monitor Man says.   “It just popped in there.”  He elaborates gesturing to his head.
Writer Lady looks at him for minute and continues her pursuit.
“I'm getting a dog whistle and she might want to get her head examined.”
“I heard that!”
“You have a useful, yet dangerous talent.”  Monitor Man says quietly as he watches Writer Lady make her way deeper into the jungle.

“Hi.” Carp says as he stops in front of the antelope.
“Shhhh...”
“What are you doing?”  Carp asks the antelope who is sitting cross legged in the middle of the road.
“Relaxing.”  The antelope says without opening its eyes, “I find that traveling these roads keeps me on edge.”
Carp looks at Tinkletoes.  Tinkletoes looks at the antelope.  “Why?” He asks. “Is it dangerous?  It doesn't look dangerous.”
The antelope opens one eye and studies Tinkletoes for a moment.   “No.”  He says.  “I find them to be very...busy.”
Both men look at the empty road, the open meadow, all of the wildflowers.
“Where?”  Tinkletoes asks.
“Just wait.”  The antelope says.   “You'll see.”
After several awkward moments Tinkletoes takes over.
“So, you been here long?”   Tinkletoes asks.
The antelope opens one eye, then both.  “I just arrived, although I have lived here forever.”
Tinkletoes leans in and whispers to Carp without taking his eyes off of the antelope,  “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“I think it means that we are in another dimension.”
“This is Faerie.   Time does not exist here the way that it does in our world.”   The antelope looks at Tinkletoes and Carp with amusement.  “Don't tell me that you traveled to another dimension without knowing the most basic details.”   He smiles.  “That would be like going from a city to a tiny jungle village without knowing that the occupants are cannibals.   Neither of you know about Faerie? Isn't this going to be interesting.”  The antelope rises from his seated position to stand on his hind legs.  “And to think...I almost decided to stay in today.”   He leans in closer, gently sniffing at the two newcomers.  “Visitors to On-Ramp. From America.  The central region?  No.  I know that smell.”   He sniffs again. “The Midwest.”   The antelope announces looking at the two men expectantly.
Tinkletoes looks at Carp.   Carp looks at the antelope and nods.
“My name is Buck.  Black Buck.  It's nice to meet you.”   He says offering a hoof.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The On-Ramp To Faerie


“Where's Writer Lady?”   Tinkletoes asks.
“You're not going?”  Dylan asks looking up at Tinkletoes.
“Now way man.”  Ray says.
“This is so typical.”  House groans.
“They're her cats.”  Tinkletoes says.
“Dobby's your friend.”  House points out.
“I'm going.”   Tinkletoes says.  “She should be there.”
“I think we should go.”  Carp says.
Tinkletoes looks at Carp.   “You just want to go so you can see stuff.”
“It is Faerie.”   Carp says.  “We have survival skills.”
“I have survival skills.”  Tinkletoes counters.   “You have camping skills.”
“Whatever.  Let's go.”
“And Writer Lady?”
“Everyone else can look for her while we're gone.”  Carp says looking around the room.  There are nods of agreement.
“I'm the cat.”  Ray says grinning.  “Dudes...she likes cats.”
Carp makes a confused face and thinks about making an effort to catch the train of thought as it travels through Ray's head.
“No.”   Tinkletoes says to Carp.  “Don't get on the Ray train, you'll blow a gasket.”
“Good point.”  Carp agrees.
The self-proclaimed mercenary turns his attention to House.  “Tell us more about this on ramp of yours.”
“What do you want to know?”
“This isn't Twenty Questions.”  Tinkletoes glares at House, then at Carp.   “Get the intell.”
“Let's start with the basics.  How do we get there?”   Carp asks.
“Really?   How do you think you get there, Mo-ron.”
“House, darling, not everyone knows how Faerie works.” Mural Man says. “Even if they do know about Faerie your story has not been added to Lore.”
“Fine.”   She sighs.  “TP made me a gatekeeper to the on-ramp he created.”
“So?”  Tinkletoes says.
“I can get you to the on ramp in whatever way I choose.  You can walk through the pantry, flush yourself down the toilet...”
“Or simply walk through a door that you enchanted...”  Carp suggests.
“Let's go.”   Tinkletoes says.
“I'll go get my gear and we'll be on our way.”
“I'm already packed.”   Tinkletoes says reaching for the front door knob.
“We need a tent, rations, a change of clothes...”
“No we don't.   Let's go.”
“We don't know how long we'll be gone.”
“Not long.”
Carp looks at Tinkletoes.
“We're picking up cats and finding Monitor Man.  It's easy.  Hike down the on-ramp, herd em' up, and move em' out.”
“You do realize that you are talking about herding cats.”   Carp points out.
“Go get your stuff.”   Tinkletoes says.  “We leave in five minutes.”


Spots follows Smudge into the darkened canopy of trees.   Both kittens are on full alert, eyes wide, ears perked, noses sniffing.  They stop a few feet inside to listen and get their bearings.  Smudge hears the rustling first.  Spots hears the second rustle and catches a glimpse of the lower edge of a shoe.
“Smudge.  Over here!”
“What?” Smudge Mal whispers.
“I saw him.”  Spots Wash responds.
“No you didn't.”
“Yes I did.”
“You couldn't have seen him.”
“Why not?”
“I'm lookin' at him.”
Spots makes his way through the mud to where his brother is crouched.
“Look closely.  You can just make out the target on Monitor Man's chest.”
“I saw a shoe.”  Spots says.
“What kind of a shoe?”
“I don't know.  A shoe.”  Spots Wash offers.
Smudge Mal looks at Spots Wash.  “What kind?”
There is more rustling coming from Monitor Man's direction, the two kittens watch as he moves further into the jungle.  Both get a good look at his feet.
“Monitor Man is wearing boots.”
“I didn't see boots before.”  Spots Wash says.
“This hunt just got more interesting lil brother.  Our target has a friend.”



Five minutes later, as promised, Tinkletoes stands in the middle of the bonus room, “What now?”  He asks.
“Stand in front of the window.”   House answers impatiently.
“Which window?”  Carp asks, he's wearing his fatigues and is loaded down with gear.
“The one to your left.”  Mural Man answers.
Carp turns right and faces the window.
“Your other left.”  House says.
Carp turns to face the window that Tinkletoes is already facing.
“Hurry up.”   Tinkletoes says.
“Remember.”   House says, slowly.  “I am opening the door not only to another place but another dimension.   If you wouldn't mind showing some patience.”
“I have patience.   This is a rescue mission.  Everything should already be in order.”   Tinkletoes points out.
“Look GI Joe, I'm in charge here.   Get over yourself.”
Tinkletoes' jaw clenches, an eyebrow goes up, and he starts the looking around the room for her mural.
Carp looks at Mural Man, “We'll be sure to do that.”  He says.  Facing the window, waiting, and muttering, “Come on.  Open.  Please.”
The floor moves in one sharp jolt.   Beginning at the lower left, a narrow stream of light is seen moving between the edge of the wall and the frame of the window. The stream of light outlines a large bridge.
“What's that sound?”   Carp asks.
“A zipper.  Opening the door is like opening a zipper for her.”  Tinkletoes says. He mutters, “Vain, self-important...”  The self-proclaimed mercenary looks for another word, not finding one he looks around the room and says, “woman.”
Stopping at the far end of the opening, the bridge lowers to the ground outside. Both men exit avoiding the window because windows cost money and Tinkletoes isn't paying for that.   Writer Lady's backyard disappears and as they take their first steps onto the on-ramp a meadow appears before them, thick with tall green grasses and wildflowers.
Carp thinks of something, he turns around, looks into the house, and calls, “How do we get back...home?”
“How you think you get back inside a building Doofus?  Knock on the door.” House answers with an exasperated sigh.
Tinkletoes shakes his head and keeps moving.  He looks around, paying close attention to the sky as well as the ground.   “Nothing unusual yet.  It's about noon.” He points out looking up at the sky.   Looking at Carp, he says, “We have plenty of time.”
Carp follows closely.  A quarter mile into the meadow both men hear what sounds like chains turning a drawbridge going up.
“Sound effects.”  Tinkletoes says.  “It's too late to fool us.  Women.”
Carp looks at Tinkletoes.
“What?” 
“That's it?”  Carp asks.   “We're already in Faerie?”
Tinkletoes shrugs.
“The door blends in.  How are we going to know where to knock?”
A sign slowly appears that reads: HOUSE.
“Oh.”  Carp says.
Both men turn away from the door and continue forward.
“Not bad.  Not bad at all.”  Tinkletoes says.
Carp sighs.
“The grassy meadow isn't enough?”
“I was hoping to see an elf.  Maybe an ogre.”
“No dragons?”  Tinkletoes asks grinning.
“The two dragons that we know are enough. Thank you.”
“I'm looking for two things.” Tinkletoes announces. “Monitor Man and the cats.”
The meadow leads onto a worn path that becomes a lane and eventually a dirt road.
“It's so empty.”  Carp points out.
“This is the part of Faerie that is accessed through House.”  Tinkletoes says, looking at Carp.   “Not much traffic.”
“Why did TP put it here?'”
“No telling.  It's TP.  Watch out for grenades and traps.  Cause...TP.”
“Do you think that he might have set a trap for Monitor Man?”
“TP?”  Tinkletoes thinks for a minute, "if he did there's more to it than that.”
A cat passes the two men.   No, not one of the ones that they are looking for.  The cat proceeds up the road at a quickened pace.
“There ya go.”  Tinkletoes says.  “You saw something.”
“Something I don't see every day.”  Carp says.
The cat calls behind it, “Mom. Mom!”
Tinkletoes and Carp hear the response come from behind them.
“Coming dear.”
A lioness passes them calling to her charge.  “I'm coming.  You know it's not nice to run away from Mommy like that.”
“Sorry Mom.” The cat says.
“A domestic cat and a wild cat having a mother and son talk. There's something you don't see everyday.” Tinkletoes says grinning.
Carp stands open-mouthed not uttering a sound.
Tinkletoes looks around.  “This is shaping up to be a beautiful day.”  He says and continues walking.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Breached Houses And Jungle Paths


“What did you do this time?”  Writer Lady asks.
“Nothing.”  Monitor Man says.
“Then why am I walking through a jungle, looking for snakes, and pushing away branches?”   Writer Lady asks.
“Wait.”  Monitor Man says.
Writer Lady stops walking.  He keeps walking, passes her, and takes the lead protecting her against snakes and renegade branches.
“I don't know what happened.”  He says. “One minute Tinkletoes and I were looking for Dobby and the next...”
“Your ass is mine.”   She says speeding up to fall into step next to Monitor Man.  “Your ass is distracting.”
“Checking things out?”  He asks with a grin.
“It's right there in front of me.  It's practically talking to me.”  The visual image lingers.  “You were saying...”  She says prompting Monitor Man to continue his story.
“One minute I was talking to Tinkletoes and the next I was here, in these clothes, getting drenched.”
“You sure pissed someone off.”
“I don't know who that might be.”  Monitor Man says, pushing his soaking hair away from his eyes.  He does it again and a third time.
“I can't see anything with this wet hair.  How do I look?”
Writer Lady smiles. “Like a drowned rat.”  She says.
He makes a face.
“We're in a jungle, standing in the pouring rain, does it matter?”
Monitor Man begins to answer, Writer Lady covers his mouth with her hand.   She puts a finger to her lips indicating a need for silence.  “Did you hear that?” She asks.
Monitor Man's eyes shift from left to right.   “I can hear a lot of things right now. Could you be more specific?”  He whispers.
“Something unusual.” She says.
“It's a jungle.  Do you live in a jungle?”
Writer Lady looks at Monitor Man without saying a word.
“You do.  Sort of.  But not one like this.”
“It's all new to me.”  Writer Lady whispers.  “That doesn't matter because something is headed this way.”  She stops talking and listens.  “It has four feet. No six.  Eight?”
“Or whatever it is, it's four footed and there are two of them.”  Monitor Man suggests.
“That's not good.”

The sound of the kittens' footfalls meet with the ground in time to chase music. Because...action sequence...where have you been?  The two Grittiest of Gritty Browncoat Kitties run with an energy that they have never had.   New sights, sounds, and smells fill their senses.  Beckoning them deeper into the unknown. Making their way into a clearing, the kittens stop where Monitor Man landed only moments before.  Smudge Mal inspects the mud in front of him.   “He was here."  He says.  Although rain is pouring, the kittens remain dry thanks to their enchanted hats, thick gloves, and heavy brown dusters.   “Tracks head this way.”   Smudge Mal announces with a nod.
“We're gonna get him.”   Spots Wash says holding up a super capacity water gun.
“What do you think you're gonna do with that?”   Smudge Mal asks.
Force a surrender.   Nobody likes getting wet.”
Smudge Mal holds both paws out, watching as water dances off of his gloves. “He's already wet.”
Spots Wash's smile fades and then returns.  He raises the water gun and blasts a round into Smudge Mal's face watching as his older brother frowns.
“Did you like that?”   Spots Wash asks.
“Does it look like I liked it?”
“I rest my case.”
“We are bounty hunting through a rain forest.  Monitor Man is our prey.   Find something a little bit more...,”  Smudge Mal thinks for a minute,  “...huntery, okay?”
Spots Wash nods and holsters his weapon inside his coat.  He opens the coat from the opposite side revealing a crossbow with sponge darts.
Smudge Mal looks at Spots Wash.   Before Smudge Mal can protest a sponge dart hits him between the eyes.
“Hurts right?”  Spots asks.


“Monitor Man?”   Tinkletoes calls.  He uses a regular tone at first that grows louder with each unanswered call.
“My bridge has been breached!”  House's scream leads the self-proclaimed mercenary back to the living room hoping that this is just one of TP's antics.
“Is that what you two are calling it?"  Tinkletoes asks as he enters the living room.
Carp, Dylan, Ray, Mural Man, and TP are already in the room.
“You have that mixed up.  They call that...” Ray begins only to be interrupted by a tug on his pant leg.
Dylan looks up and shakes his head, “Furnatche's here.  He's too little.” Everyone looks down to see Furnatche curled up by Dylan's feet.
“She is talking about her bridge.”  Mural Man corrects.
“House is a house.   Houses don't have a bridge.”   Tinkletoes points out.
“Castles do.”  TP says.
“Yuh—huh.”  Dylan agrees looking up at Tinkletoes solemnly.
“Her bridge.”   TP giggles.  “Silly human.”
“Something's stuck in her teeth man.”   Ray says.
“Houses don't have teeth.”   Carp says.
“Maybe I should explain.”  Mural Man offers.
“Go ahead.”   TP giggles.
“When a house and a mural love each other very much...”  Carp says.
Tinkletoes glares at Carp.
“Ray can make jokes and I can't?”   Carp asks.
Tinkletoes continues glaring.
“I know, I know.  Shut it.”  Carp says.
“House's bridge is magical.  It leads to enchanted forests, magical lands, and mythical places.  It is bridge between your world and ours.”
“It's an on-ramp to Fae-rie.”   TP announces.
“An on-ramp to Faerie.   Cool man.”  Ray says.  “Can we go?”
“If it's an on-ramp then there should be nothing there.   Just road.”  Tinkletoes says.
“Not necessarily.”  Carp says brightly.   “It is Faerie.”
“TP.”  Tinkletoes says, looking at the faerie.   “What if a guy takes a walk on that bridge?   What should he expect to find?”
“Nothing.   Everything.  Magical lands burst at the seams.  A man would find anything that lingers in between.”  TP giggles.
“He's rhym-ing.”  Carp sings.
“Which means he's hiding something or expecting to see quite a show.”  Tinkletoes says.
“Which one do you think it is?”  The self-proclaimed mercenary asks.
“Expecting to see quite a show.”  Carp says.
“I think he's hiding something.”
Dylan reaches up and pulls on Tinkletoes' pant leg.  Tinkletoes squats down.
“Both.”  Dylan says.
Tinkletoes looks at TP, studies the faerie closely, looks at Dylan and says.  “You know what kid?  I think you're right.  We have two missing kittens, Dobby is gone too, and Monitor Man disappeared right before my eyes.  House says that her bridge has been breached.   TP thinks everything is real funny right now. I think that someone needs to go out on that bridge and take a look around.”