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It's A Dog's World

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October 27, 2019

Lillow Gladstar

     My job was to howl at the moon and bark at the stars. I'd been performing it diligently and assiduously since its inception, which is also my earliest memory. The only time I had off was a few days each month around the new moon, although I still barked at the stars. There's just so many! I've been awarded the title Good Dog despite various attempts to curb my barking, my sleeping habits and my somewhat overzealous dietary adventures, to the point of sometimes even utilizing Bad Dog warnings. I remained, nonetheless, a Good Dog, and my name is Rover. You may think the name common but in fact, I have never met another Dog named Rover. Not ever, and I have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, many of whom are actual Dogs. My neighbor Spike is one such who also has a unique name. That was probably what sparked our friendship, the name thing. I mean we were surrounded by Charleys, Sams, Lorettas, Olivias and all the other names that were common to both Dogs and Humans, but not me and Spike. Oh, no, very few others used our names.

   Spike and I grew to be steadfast friends, despite our other seeming differences. For example, while Spike enjoyed howling at the moon and barking at the stars, it was not his primary employment. Rather Spike was engaged in eating and tail wagging, traits he claimed were derived from being part of a multidimensional being named Sugfissel. Spike was purportedly the stomach and tail of Sugfissel and thus his employment involved eating and tail wagging.

   Diligence is a trait we shared and over time my barking and howling, along with Spike's eating and tail wagging, became works of art. Performance art I guess you could say. We were masters. We performed at various venues, but I think our favorite was behind the manor where Spike lived because there were fewer interventions. There was another guy living at the manor named Alley, but he never barked or wagged his tail and worse, was reported to be a finicky eater. Yet we all became friends anyway. Sometimes Alley would yowl when Spike and I were howling, especially when the moon was full and I must say, we sounded good. Very good. Eventually we formed a trio, The Doggone Three. We hired a Monkey who lives at the manor to be our drummer and sweet Loretta, a Poodle from mythical Gresham, as rhythm yipper. Oh, we were something! We had sold out shows all the way from Here to There! Before we knew it we were big stars performing at Doggywood. We were called before the King to receive the Royal & Well-Marked Medal of the Good Dog! Alley and that monkey, a kid named Ishytoo were, amazingly enough, unsure if they wanted to be known as Good Dogs, but we were finally able to convince them, and we all became proud members of the Royal Good Dog Society. We have paw prints in the Big Star section of sidewalk by Gladsheim Palace and we were recognized everywhere we went.

   When the group finally broke up, it was due to irreconcilable gastronomical differences. Ishytoo and Alley just did not like Dog biscuits. Ishytoo preferred those biscuits of flour and butter like what Witches make, while Alley preferred some fishy biscuits with cheese and butter, also made by Witches. It got to the point that neither one would even touch a Dog biscuit! What manner of beings are these? Spike and I are seriously confused, and Loretta's with us on this, I mean, how could anybody not like Dog biscuits?

An Autumn Night

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October 2, 2019

Lillow Mi Gladstar

      It was late and I was hurrying home. The evening was already dark with gusty breezes and it was becoming quite cold for this early in the season. My path home led through a small forest, well, a large grove really, and my home is just beyond. I live alone outside our small village and, at 83, I am considered a Crone. A Witch many would say, but I've encountered no unpleasantness from that appellation, so I'll neither deny nor announce it. As far as I'm concerned, I am simply Mrs. Raspberry of the Rahs-burra faction in southern Lowsy Ella, down south of the bayou a ways. I lost most the accent early on and have settled all these many years in this northern clime, accommodating and acclimatizing myself easily to this rain forest where I blend in nicely. I am content, dare I say happy? I rarely go abroad when it's late, especially after dark, which ought to argue against my witch status except that I am solitary by nature. I like being alone. That itself is, perhaps, witchy. I do have a curious connection to other-worldly events, and I do dabble in certain esoteric herbal concoctions, still, I do not care for the negative aspects of witchery and disdain the association. In any case I digress. I was recounting my experience;

   I was out late. I had been to the foothills a few kilometers the other side of our village looking for various herbs. Those hills are heavily wooded and yield a marvelous array of herbs and I've spent a lot of time there. I had been collecting in a small meadow that I frequent, rich and verdant, that was surprisingly isolated. When I'd collected my herbs I sat on a flat rock to rest and enjoy the warmth of the sun on my back. It is remarkably nice on a cool Autumn day to sit with the sun on your back. One could become immersed in the experience and lose track of various mundane trivialities, such as time. Which is what I did. So when I was, well, awakened to my too-late predicament by a strange soulful horn playing somewhere out of sight, I quickly jumped to my feet, climbed on my bicycle and began hurrying home. I gave the horn no thought. The going was rough at first and I made poor time, especially in the fading light. The trail is narrow and winding, and I must dismount and walk my bike at times, so it is almost full dark when I reach the road going to the village. Despite the dark night and my lack of lighting, I now make pretty good time. The road is paved, there is little traffic and the moon is full.

   Soon I come to the village's sole traffic light, marking the center of the village where two roads cross. The road I am on has more traffic, being the main highway, so the light is usually green. Tonight it's green until I'm about half a block away then it turns yellow and is red when I arrive. I cruise to a stop and see what appears to be a funeral procession crossing in front of me. My first thought was, whoa, who's having a funeral at night? But as I gave it closer scrutiny, I realized it was probably not a funeral. First there was no hearse at the beginning, and second, all the cars were black with black tinted windows. Okay, maybe that was like a funeral. How on earth do they see anything? But what made it definitely not like a funeral was the music. There was a kind of jazzy horn playing. Maybe a clarinet or a saxophone. Or a trumpet. Like a muted trumpet. Well, whatever, it was not a normal funeral sound. When the last car was past, and the light changed green I resumed pedaling. I was quickly through the village and approaching the grove, when I heard the horn again, only this time I could see the player. He was dressed in black, very thin and wore a tall top hat that swayed as he played. He was playing a small saxophone, dancing and swaying as he moved through the grove. I stopped and watched, mesmerized. This grove is usually empty at night, but as I watched a girl appeared, standing on a large flat rock, and started tap dancing. Clickety clack clicka clack clack as the horn wailed plaintive and beseeching melodies.

   I was enthralled. Then a choir of women in long white robes appeared and began singing a choral piece that was full and expressive. Their voices floated above and around the horn's soulful expressions while the clickety clack clicka clack clack continued, keeping its own time. I moved closer and could see the women all had wings and appeared to be floating just above the ground, singing with their eyes closed and their hands together, as if praying. The horn player danced around them blowing a different song than they sang, yet without being discordant. Like somehow they fit together without meaning to, even the tap dancer. I heard a rumbling behind me and turning I could just barely make out the shapes of the black cars approaching with their lights off. The music and tapping quickly built to a strong crescendo behind me then stopped. I spun back around to an empty grove with a sort of sparkling overtone that was quickly dispersed by the black cars racing by.

   I stood for a while, holding my bike and wondering what had just happened. Then I rode the rest the way home. I put my bike in the shed and walking to the house I could see my breath. It was a cold fall night, there was definitely magic in the air, and I, reveling in the mystery, was content, dare I say happy?

A Rainy Day

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Lillow Mi Gladstar 

   “It's rainy and cold,” I groused, looking out the window. How does one cope with the overreaching burden of inactivity and gloom that winter and her inclement weather impose? “How?” I said aloud.

   “Wazzat?” Ishmael said, stirring from his nap.

   “I said, how do you ever manage to sleep in that chair?”

   “I like sleeping in this chair,” he said, stretching mightily then leaning back and closing his eyes. “It'seazy,” he slurred.

   “He likes to sleep,” Lorna said, wandering around, feeling a little restless.

   Holly was lying by the fireplace reading a book that she said was really exciting. She looked up and said, “I think Lillow's a little cranky in this gloomy weather.”

   Lorna looked confused. “This is gloomy weather?”

   “It is if you're a Fæirie, and I'm half,” I said, giving her a hard look.

   “Not so easy on Witches either,” Laura said, sitting by the fire near Holly.

   “And my other half is Witch,” I said, with a feeling of vindication.

   “Is it wet?” Lorna asked, looking out the window.

   “Yes, it's wet!” I say, unnerved by her happy countenance.

   “Well ain't that something,” she murmured, going over to the darkest, dampest corner of the room, and sitting down with a smile.

   “Takes all kinds,” I mutter.

    “I heard the Dwarves were holding their Gottrocks Festival today,” Nonesuch said as he painted a watercolor by the window. Gladlee and Elvenjoy were playing a card game, lying on the floor, and I saw them exchange a curious glance, with a hint of disdain, perhaps.

   “It's underground, isn't it?” Lorna asked.

   “Yeah, over in Darkenvolt, is what I heard,” Nonesuch answered.

   Gosh, Darkenvolt. I've never actually been there, but I've heard stories, you know, same as everybody, and it seemed a bit spooky. A dark place where armed Dwarves guarded their hoards, openly carrying guns and swords amid unsavory goings on. I'd heard that rival Dwarf gangs would attack and raid each other's hoards, attempting to amass the greatest fortune and thus, in their eyes, be the greatest Dwarf. It sounded frightening.

   “Sound exciting?” Nonesuch asked.

   I looked up and saw that he was watching me.

   “Well yes, exciting, but . . .”

   “I knew you'd want to go. So, who else? Who wants to come with me and Lillow to Gottrocks?”

   “I'll go,” Ishmael said, through half lidded eyes.

   “Me too!” Holly and Lorna chirped at almost exactly the same time. Well sheesh! Looks like I'm going to Gottrocks. At Darkenvolt no less. Gosh.

   About an hour later we were tying up our brooms at the gate to Darkenvolt. The entrance was dark, and I could hear a deep drumbeat deep inside. I saw a torch further in.

   “Okay guys. All here? Let's do Gottrocks,” Nonesuch said, in an annoyingly cheerful voice leading the way in. We dutifully followed. He led us through the cavern, sparsely lit by sputtering torches, into the main hall. There was a big sign that said, “See the Monster that guards the great Rockabub fortune!” Gosh, I'd heard of the Rockabubs. They're rich. I mean, talk about Gottrocks! We all wanted to see this. We boarded a small boat at the entrance and floated in a canal, around a corner and there it was. Huge! Two giant red eyes watched as we floated nearer.

   I nudged Ishmael, “Uh, we seem to be headed right to the monster. Is, uh, is that right?” He looked at me with wide eyes but said nothing. We got closer and closer. There was another tourist boat behind us and when we were so close to the monster that I thought we'd bump, the giant mouth opened. We were sucked inside! I could hear Lorna screaming and Holly mooing as we slid down that gaping throat. Then, with a splash, we landed in a river inside a canyon. A canyon with ribs, like being inside ... yikes! I suddenly realized we were inside the monster. This was its stomach. I could hear inarticulate screaming that I slowly realized was me. And Lorna. We floated for a long ways, seeing skeletons and boat wrecks, and hearing moans and gurgling noises, until finally we saw an exit sign. We were all so relieved that smiles broke out everywhere. Below the sign was a smaller sign that said, to exit, please sit on an exit valve. There were about a dozen protuberances sticking up from the floor beyond where the boats grounded. Like little stools with a small opening in the middle.

   “These must be the exit valves,” Ishmael said, walking over and sitting on one. As we watched there was a sucking noise and a bubble formed around Ishmael then he slowly floated to the roof inside the bubble. There was a sphincter looking circle up there and when he got close, it opened. Then there was a loud thop sound and Ishmael and his bubble were gone! Followed by a dry hissing, like escaping air. We stood, dumbfounded, looking at each other. One of the tourists from the other boat, a young Elf, shrugged and sat on one of the protuberances and the same thing happened. He was gone, and we sort of collectively shrugged and began methodically sitting on the stools. When it was my turn, I sat, feeling a strong apprehension, as the bubble formed around me. Then I was floating upward and soon was at the sphincter. I watched with a sense of dread as it opened and, with a sudden lurch, I was inside then out again, floating in the air above a sort of staging area. I could see Ishmael watching as a bored looking Dwarf, wearing a gas mask, came over and popped my bubble with his sword. I plopped down on the floor and Ishmael came over, looking a little green, and helped me up. Nobody said a word, as if trying not to breath the air. When we were all assembled, we quickly departed.

   Back in the main hall, we decided to just sit for a while before checking out any other attractions. We all sat, taking deep, slow breaths, enjoying the clean air, and soon we were feeling our old selves. We started walking again and soon came to a booth. In front was a small Panda Bear, about Ishytoo's size, and he was holding a large gold coin. As we watched, he squatted then jumped up, all the time staring at a bucket at the back of the booth. With a grin and a wink, he tossed the coin in a graceful arc toward the bucket. Several chord-like straps leapt out from the sides trying to get the coin, like tentacles, but it continued to float through the air until it went into the bucket with a loud ding. Suddenly bells began clanging, buzzers buzzing and bright lights in many colors began flashing. Then from a puff of smoke a grinning Dwarf walked out carrying a big basket of gold coins. As he handed it to the bear, they both looked over at us with inviting smiles. Then the Panda bear, wearing a big winner smile, walked away. The Dwarf, smiling at the departing figure, sat down on a stool beside the booth.

   “Care to give it a try?” he called over, casually looking at his fingernails. I could tell Ishmael wanted to try but I had an odd feeling and told him to wait a bit. Then, a young Dwarf who had seen the Panda with us stepped up and bought a gold coin. He winked at us, then following the same routine as the Panda, tossed his coin. There was a loud thap as a tentacle flashed out and grabbed the coin. Just one, I noticed, where the Panda's coin had drawn several. The poor Dwarf looked confused and left sheepishly. The Dwarf running the booth was nowhere to be seen.

   Ishmael called out, “Hey! It's my turn. Where'd he go?” I grabbed his arm and pulled him aside.

   “Ishmael!” I hissed. “This thing is rigged. Let's get out of here.”

   He looked confused but followed as we walked away. “I coulda made that bucket, easy,” he muttered, but I knew he couldn't have. We went to a food booth and got some potatoes and carrots, prepared from a secret Dwarf recipe that was millions of years old. They weren't bad, pretty much, and we drank some grog with it, so we couldn't really taste anything anyway. We decided to leave after eating. There were more attractions, but we were tired. Maybe next year, I thought. As we were leaving, we saw the Panda sitting with the Dwarf at their booth, waiting for the next suckers. I figured when Ishmael saw them together like that, he'd realize it was rigged, but then he muttered, “Next year I know I'll get a coin in that bucket.” I could only shake my head.

The Pond

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 August 9, 2019 C.E.

Lillow Mi Gladstar

Beyond what we could see was another place, a place we hadn't been to before, so we decided to go see it. But since we couldn't see it we weren't at all sure which way to go to get there. I usually followed Ishmael because he always ends up someplace interesting, but his time he declined the lead, saying he didn't have any hunches to go by. Nothing. Holly and Lorna pretended to be busy at something so there was only one left to lead. Me. Okay then.

   I could go this way or that way or even the other way. Just ahead was a highway and there a low way and a ways beyond that there were more ways. I decided to give it no thought and set out with high hopes. I'm pretty sure this is how Ishmael does it too. I followed the paths that were most inviting, which were mostly the smoothest and the brightest. After a ways we came to a pond that seemed to be very deep and settled down in a pleasant spot to rest. I wondered if this was the place.

   I was near to drowsing when Lorna walked up with a worried look, and said, “There's no bottom, Lillow.” 

   “Huh?” I said, coming fully awake. “No bottom on what?”

   “That pond.” she nodded her head at the small pond, “It's got no bottom.”

   “What do you mean, no bottom?”

   “It goes down forever. No end except maybe someplace millions of kilometers away.” She gazed at the pond with a frown.

   “How do you know that Lorna?”

   “I just do. I'm a Loon you know, and we know water. I'm telling you, that pond has no bottom.”

   I looked at the pond which had just gone from being an innocent puddle to a bottomless chasm in the blink of an eye. I saw that Holly and Ishmael were both watching us.

   “That's kind of scary,” Holly said, looking at the pond. Just then we heard a splash and a gray eye rose up in the pond's center. It swung around and stopped when it saw us gaping at it. Then it rose some more and a tower appeared followed by a full submarine, water whooshing down its sides. It bobbed in the pond for a moment before a hatch opened on top and a bird flew out. It circled the pond three times before it came to land in front of us.

   It looked around before speaking, “You guys seen any angry sailors?”

   “Uh, sailors?” I asked. “Just you, I guess.” I could see he was a Pigeon and I doubted he was a sailor.

   “They're chasing us,” he said, looking around, “The angry sailors, and it's 'cause we stole their boat.” I saw another Pigeon sticking its head out the hatch.

   “All clear Henry?” it called.

   “Yessir! No sailors, just these guys here.” Then quietly he hissed, “You're not sailors, right?” We shook our heads no. “All clear Commodore.” he shouted. Then the Commodore and a dozen other Pigeons came fluttering and flapping out the hatch. Soon they were gathered around us, strutting and preening.

   The Commodore came over to me and puffing his chest out, said “I'm Commodore Fipp, commander of that fine craft you see over there in that pond.”

   “Oh, uh hi. I'm Lillow. Uh, nice craft.”

   “Thanks! Nice to meet you Lillow.” then I introduced Ishmael, Holly and Lorna.

   “We've just stopped here for a break from our secret mission.” the Commodore continued.

   “What mission is that?” Lorna asked.

   “We're going around the world under water!” He answered, seeming to swell with pride.

   Another Pigeon, Henry I think, who was jumping and skittering nearby spoke up, “We'll be the first Pigeons in the universe to go around the world underwater!”

   “That is amazing.” Ishmael said, nodding agreement.

   “I'll say.” the Commodore agreed, “A new record.” he gazed into the distance, and spoke with reverence, “A World Record.” Then his eyes went wide, “Oh crap!” he squawked, walking quickly away as a helicopter from the mythical world appeared. It came in very fast and soon hovered above us. The Pigeons were running in circles chirping their distress but unable to fly due to the helicopter. Then a Human with a broom jumped out and began shooing them away from the pond. The helicopter flew over to the sub and two more Humans jumped out onto it and climbed down the hatch. The Pigeons were all running away until they could fly, then flying up and perching high in the trees, glaring at the Humans, who I believe were angry sailors. With a whoosh and a splash, the sub disappeared into the pond.

   The Human with the broom looked at us, “Those darn birds stole our submarine! I'm telling you, they're crazy!” Then he grabbed the rope ladder from the helicopter, climbed up and they flew away.

   I looked up at the Pigeons, but they were already flying away, angrily dispersing.

   “It's gonna be hard for them to finish their mission.” Ishmael said, watching them go.

   “See there Lillow?” Lorna asked, “That pond's got no bottom, just like I said.”

    I'd been watching the birds but now I looked at the pond, “No I guess not Lorna. Gosh, I wonder where the other end is at?”

   Just then there was a loud whoosh with lots of splashing and I saw a flying saucer streak from the pond and disappear into the sky.

   “What was that?” Holly yelped, turning around to look. Both Holly and Ishmael had been looking the other way, so it was only me and Lorna who saw it. 

   “That was a flying saucer.” Lorna said, with a sense of wonder.

   Holly and Ishmael stood gazing into the sky where Lorna and I had been looking but there was nothing left to see. Lorna and I moved a few steps closer to the pond, both of us gazing into its depths.

   “Gosh, that pond is so deep it goes to other planets,” Lorna murmured.

   “That's crazy!” I said, “How's it gonna pass through space?”

   “Dunno. Probably magic,” she answered.

   “That'd be the only way,” I said, trying to imagine a stream of water going through space. But I could see the sparkle in her eye that told me she was already traveling through space in a stream of water.

   “Holly's flying spell would keep us warm and provide breathable air,” she enthused. I could see she was getting more excited.

   “What's this about my flying spell?” Holly asked, as she and Ishmael joined us.

   “Lorna wants to go through the pond using your flying spell,” I said. “See where it comes out at.”

   “Holly it'd be fabulous because we could travel through space in water!” Lorna gushed. She does love water. Part of being a Loon, I guess. I could see Holly was considering the suggestion, and when I looked at Ishmael, he had the same gleam in his eye that Lorna had. It did sound fascinating though, I had to admit, traveling through space in water.

   With a big smile Holly announced, “I think we should try it.”

   We decided to have Holly ride center with Lorna on her back while Ishmael and I would ride our brooms close on either side adding our flying spells to Holly's. We entered the pond in the center and proceeded downward. It wasn't long before there was no light, so Ishmael used one of his light spells to illuminate us and a good deal of our surroundings as well.

   Soon we were moving through the water cavern horizontally instead of downward and we saw a large side tunnel, which we took in the spirit of exploration. As I suspected it led to an ocean, and when we surfaced, we could see the dock where the submarine was resting. We floated for a while, watching as the Pigeons and the angry sailors squabbled with each other while the Sea Gulls remained aloof. As we were leaving, I saw a flying saucer land by the pigeons and just before we entered the water they seemed to be climbing on board. Curious, I thought, who would want a bunch of Pigeons in their flying saucer? You never know with aliens though. Anyway we returned to the water cavern and continued on. The next side tunnel was much more interesting.

   After going a fair ways, we came to an undersea city, populated by Merpeople. We must have presented quite a sight entering their main square in a bubble of air like we did, because everyone stopped and stared. Ishmael turned his light off and the city was illuminated with a green flowing iridescence. The people were pretty normal looking except they had green skin and a tail instead of feet. No one said anything until an important looking Walrus pushed his way through and stood looking at us curiously.

   “You must be from up above.” he said.

   “Uh, yes I think so.” I answered, “If you mean up above on the surface?”

   “No, no surface, up above.” he pointed upward.

   “Well, I guess that's right, we are from up above.”

   “So why'd you show up from down below?”

   “Oh. We followed the way from a pond in Elvenstead.”

   “Ah, the pond. You're aliens then. It's used a lot by aliens. They pass by here all the time, but your craft is new.” He peered at our bubble. “It's magic isn't it?”

   “Yes. We used magic to get here.”

   “Nice job! Well, you better come meet our king. He'd be angry if he missed meeting aliens like you with your invisible craft.”

   Floating in our bubble, we followed him through a series of passages and into a large room where a stately Merman was puttering around on a crowded worktable. He was humming and seemed very happy. 

   He looked up as we approached. “Ah, new aliens! So glad to meet you!” He smiled warmly.

   “Glad to meet you.” I answered, “I'm Lillow and this is Holly, Lorna and Ishmael.”

   “Oh, how wonderful! And you're all so … well, different.” He looked curiously at our bubble. “And that's a marvelous craft you have. Do you have to stay in it all the time?”

   “Yes. We can't breathe under water, and this craft, bubble actually, provides all we need.”

   “Wonderful, wonderful. Well I am King Minoah and this is Wettville,” He gestured widely to include all our surroundings, “capital of our lovely country Wata.”

   “It's a wonderful place King Minoah. We're from Gladstar Farm.”

   He gave me a curious look, “Can't say that I've heard of it.”

   “It's sort of in Elvenstead. Elvenstead's pretty much the western part of the land and it's also the name of the capital.”

   “Ah Elvenstead. Yes, I've heard other aliens speak of this place, but you're the first I've met from there.”

   “It's up above, on the surface.” I added.

    He raised his eyebrows, “Surely I would know of it if that were true. All the surface lands that I know of are occupied by Dinosaurs and Dragons. No one else lives there.”

   “That doesn't sound like Earth.” I said.

   “No, of course it doesn't. We're not on Earth, we're on Eridonis. I think Earth is a few zillion kilometers that way.” He pointed upward.

   I looked at Lorna whose eyes were as wide as saucers. “Looks like we traveled through space in water after all, Lorna.”

   She looked at me with wonder, tilting her head, “I guess we did Lillow. Gosh. I guess we did and we didn't even know it.”

   “Looks that way.”

   King Minoah ordered a feast in our honor, wanting to introduce the new aliens (us) to his people. We met Queen Estamal, and the Walrus, who was the Police Captain, showed us around. His name was Henry, and his official title was Constable Henry. I thought immediately of the Commodore's lieutenant whose name was also Henry. Gosh, what a coincidence. Wata was a vast kingdom and the water cavern had brought us to its very heart.

   The city was beautiful. As we cruised through the boulevards, I saw fish flitting around overhead, just like birds do on Earth. There were seaweeds of every imaginable type, and the homes were open areas with meter high walls and hammocks stretched out inside. We saw a school, where all the children, who they called minnows for some reason, swam together in perfect unison. Some of the seaweeds were as tall as trees and they swayed gently in the currents.

   “It never rains here.” Henry boasted. That made sense.

   The feast consisted of a dozen different kinds of seaweed prepared in marvelous ways along with breads and pastries made from seaweed flour that's boiled instead of baked. Afterward we watched a movie about a Merman who displayed amazing perseverance and tenacity through horrible trials and tribulations. He became something wonderful in the process, but I wasn't sure what it was. We spent the night in the palace at Wettville and the next morning we saw a little of the Wata countryside before heading on. There were seaweed farms and open range land where herds of seahorses could be seen running, or swimming or whatever they do. It was a beautiful country. We left around mid-morning. King Minoah was busy, as kings do, but Constable Henry and a few Merfolk came to see us off. We decided not to go back to Elvenstead just yet and headed further down the water cavern.

   The next side cavern was more obvious due to its glow, but I wondered if we should go down it? I mean, could the glow be dangerous? We found a little side niche where we stopped to ponder our next move. Watching the water rush past when we stopped was a little unnerving, so we just gaped for a few moments. I could see stars dimly through the side wall beside us and I nudged Lorna.

   “Look!” I whispered, and everyone turned to look, gasping at the dim vision of stars just past the rushing water wall. Then I looked ahead at the glow. It was difficult to describe, appearing as a kind of greenish blue haze that suddenly became a flickering red then gold then back to greenish blue. I watched it go through similar combinations several more times before staying at greenish blue. My curiosity was piqued. I looked at Holly who was watching the glow as well.

   “What the heck is that?” she exclaimed.

   “Think we should go look?” I asked, with a smile.

   “I'd like to go look.” Ishmael said from the other side.

   Lorna, still dreamy eyed from seeing the stars, said, “Lights? Oh yeah, let's go look.” She smiled back at me.

   “Count me in,” I said, “And you?” Looking at Holly.

   “By all means, yes, let's go check this out.” We re-entered the current slowly. We'd been seeing various flying saucers and spaceships from time to time and we'd learned to be cautious which was good because just then a space ship went zipping by going toward the glow. We got up to speed and followed in its wake. Once we were away from the wall we couldn't see the stars anymore, but we knew they were there. I smiled, remembering Lorna's delighted look when she saw those stars through the water wall. Suddenly the water cavern ended and there were stars everywhere! We were in space!

   I looked around, amazed to be in space. Behind us I could see a large wavering circle of blue that I knew was the water cavern dangling in space. Ahead was a large blue-green planet with what looked dimly like giant golden towers below its southern hemisphere. I was trying to discern the meaning of the gold towers because they were flashing sun light erratically when I realized the planet was moving. It slowly turned and a giant face was smiling at us.

   “Gosh you guys are small,” a huge voice intoned. “Why I can hardly see you.”

   “Can you hear us?” I yelled.

   He looked uncomprehending but I could tell he could see us flying around. “Go to my ear.” he said in his thunderous voice, so we flew down to what had to be his ear. As we flew, I could see way down below where the golden towers were and was shocked to see that they were a fork and a knife. He was having dinner, and his plate stretched for thousands of kilometers in front of us. What we hoped was his ear was a large canyon with buildings on one side. We went to them, landing on a large platform with a giant funnel shaped thing that seemed designed to amplify sound downward. There was a sign that said, “Little beings speak here.”

   I went over to the mouthpiece of the funnel and spoke, “Hello? Can you hear me?”

   There was a distant rumbling that sounded like, “Yes, I can. How are you?”

   “Fine thanks. I thought you were a planet.”

   A rumbling laugh, then, “Yes, many who see me think so. There are some settlements on my crown and I think my legs and feet might actually be planets. The book of records lists me as the largest being in the universe.”

   “Wow, that's amazing.” I said. Thousands of kilometers away I could see the golden fork rising, holding what look like a tomato. The light glinted red off the tomato then gold off the fork then returned to blue green color as he chewed. It was fascinating to see.

    “Sorry to interrupt your lunch,” I said, “We were just passing through and wanted to say hi.”

   A deep rumbling, “Well I'm glad you did. It's good to see different kinds of aliens.”

   “Thanks! What's your name?”

   “Its Henry, and you?” Gosh, another Henry! Very popular name in the universe, I think. 

   “I'm Lillow and these are my friends Holly, Lorna and Ishmael.”

   “Glad to meet you!”

   “We're glad to meet you! Golly what a big place you have.”

   “Yep. Biggest in the universe, I believe.”

   “Well, we should let you get back to your dinner. Thanks for chatting with us.”

   “You bet! Thanks for dropping by! Come by anytime.”

   “We will. Thanks again! Goodbye!” We flew away, heading for the wavering blue circle.

   I heard a distant, “Goodbye! Safe journey!” just before we re-entered the water cavern. We traveled back to the main cavern then pondered what to do; continue on seeking new adventures or return to the farm. We were tired and we'd had some wonderful adventures, but we also wanted to see more. We were drifting in a quandary of indecision when we saw another side cavern on the other side, so we decided to check it out. It was very dark, and Ishmael had to use his light spell to show the way. Now it felt like we were going upward. After a time, we could see a round shimmering circle and when we burst through, we found ourselves above the pond where we'd started. We settled at our old spot to rest.

   “Gosh, do you think we traveled across the universe?” Ishmael asked, “I heard that if you travel in a straight line through space, you'll eventually wind up back where you started.”

   “I don't know, Ishmael,” I answered. “I mean time and space were totally different in that water cavern, so we seriously could have.”

   “Makes me feel bad for those Pigeons.” Holly said, “They just wanted to go around the world under water and were foiled, while we ended up going around the universe under water.”

   “Doesn't seem fair.” I said.

   Just then a flying saucer whooshed out of the pond and landed a ways from us. We watched as the door opened and a group of Pigeons came waddling out. They waved their goodbyes as the saucer dived back into the pond. Then a haughty looking Pigeon led the flock over to us.

   “Well, well. Imagine meeting you lot again.” the Commodore said as Henry twittered and bounced nearby. “I expect you've been here the whole time. Well, I've led my comrades on an amazing adventure. Not only have we circled the globe under water, but we've traversed the universe under water.” He hopped onto a rock, waving his wings. “It was amazing, and my leadership assured success!” Then he looked to the horizon and spoke solemnly, “A World Record.”

   We applauded. What else could we do?

 

Spike

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July 6, 2019

Lillow Mi Gladstar

Sugfissel is a true multi-dimensional being. The part of him that resides in our dimension is not very impressive next to the totality, being just Sugfissel's stomach and tail, so that he appears to us as a dog. A bulldog named Spike. Being the stomach of a much larger multi-dimensional creature, Spike has a voracious appetite and loves to wag his tail. Having strong but unknown ties to the long-lived Sugfissel, who wanted a better life, Spike also wanted a better life, and tried many different things toward this end. He began his career working as a pet and was employed by two consecutive families before spending years exploring on his own or running and hiding as he tended to think of it. After numerous trials and tribulations, he came to realize that Dogs do not have any freedom at all in the mythical world, so he decided to try the magical world instead. He didn't know you needed to have some magical abilities to enter, or to even know about the magical realms but being ignorantly steadfast, he continued undeterred. He was able to do this because, unbeknownst to him, he did have a dormant magical ability, which must remain unbeknownst to us as well. At least until he uses it. Then we'll see.   

   Not knowing the magical realms, he entered at a random spot and found himself beside a small creek. Following the creek downstream he passed through a Witch's Glamoury Wall, so he knew he was entering a magical place. When he came to a Fæirie Ring he stopped, and lay down for a while in the shade, watching for whatever might happen. He could tell it had not been long since Fæiries had danced here, and he could see some fairly fresh piles of jeewizium across the way. He wondered if there were any dimensional travelers around. Haven't seen any jeewizium in a long, long time, he thought, enjoying the sparkles and colorful auras that surrounded jeewizium. Even though he knew of jeewizium and the dimensions he would not himself ever try traveling them. Way too risky, especially since he was certain he would eventually find happiness here in this dimension. After sitting for a while, he started to feel drowsy and stretched out. He was fast asleep when a curious Duck came waddling up and stopped to stare at him. After a few moments she stepped closer, tilting her head with curiosity. Finally, when she was about twenty centimeters from his face and closing in, he opened his eye. The Duck squawked and jumped back as he scrambled to his feet.

   “Who're you?” they both screeched in unison.

   After staring at each other for a few moments Spike decided, since he was the newcomer, to speak, “Well, uh, my name's Spike.”

   “Gosh, you scared me Spike. I'm Lorna, Lorna Loon. I come down this way to float in Probable Creek,” she said, glancing over at the creek.

   “Oh. That's Probable Creek? It’s beautiful.” he said. “You live here?”

   “Yeah. I'm the soprano with Piffle, who you may have heard ...”

   “What's Piffle?”

   Lorna gazed at him through narrowed eyes, and murmured, “Oh it’s just some singers,” then smiling, she asked, “So what brings you to these parts Spike?”

   “I'm looking for a home.” he said, “But I'm not opposed to Piffle, whatever that is, I mean I'm sure your soprano is for singing but I never ...”

   “That's okay Spike.” Lorna interjected. “Looking for home, huh? Whatya do?”

   “Do? I'm a Dog. I guard places and bark at strangers.” She continued looking at him expectantly. “And, uh, well, I can sit.” and he promptly sat down, “Oh, and I can fetch. Throw a stick!” Lorna stared at him with her head tilted, “Okay, no stick. I can roll over. Watch!” He lay down and rolled over, then sat up, watching Lorna eagerly.  

   “Gosh. None of that seems very magical Spike.” she said with a worried frown, “You gotta have magic to be here you know.”

   “Magic?” he said with a surprised look.

   “Uh-oh.” she said. “You better come with me Spike.” and she started toward the perimeter trail.

   “Watch out Lorna! You're about to step in some jeewizium.”

   She stopped abruptly, “You can see jeewizium?”

   “Sure. Right there. Don't you see it?”

   “Uh, no. I can't see it. Thanks for pointing it out.”

   “Hey, no problem. That stuff's dangerous and I know of others who can't see it, so I speak up. Or bark in the mythical world.”

   Stepping away she gave him a curious look, then continued toward the trail. She led him down the perimeter trail to the mid-meadow trail then up towards Glad Manor. It was a long walk and he had many questions.

   “What is this place?”

   “It's a farm.”

   “A farm? What's it grow? Jeewizium?”

   “Gosh no, that stuff falls from the sky. Lillow and Ishmael gather it and store it at the manor. This farm, called Gladstar Farm by the way, doesn't really grow anything but we do make cheese.”

   “Cheese?”

   “Yeah cheese. We make some from Holly's milk and some Holly brings back from the moon.”

   “Who’s ...”

   “Holly Cow. We go up past her place, maybe you can meet her.”

   Spike could feel the magic in the air and could see the evanescent colors that only magical places have, and he realized he was smiling. When they reached the mid-meadow trail they turned and followed it north toward Glad Manor. Spike could see a large barn-like structure to the right. Seeing his look, Lorna spoke.

   “It’s Holly's Palatial Estate. We'll be going right past it. I hope Holly's home.” Spike raised his eyebrows and gave her a curious look. “Oh, it's our gathering place. There's tea and biscuits and we like to just hang out there, you know?” Spike knew about just hanging out and nodded his approval. As they passed the estate and could see the front, Lorna was pleased to see not only Holly, but Ishmael, Ishytoo, Nonesuch and me, enjoying tea and chatting. We all stopped and stared at the Dog walking over with Lorna.

   “This here's Spike.” Lorna said, “Met him down at the Fæirie Ring and I thought you all'd like to meet him.”

   “Yeah sure,” I said, “Hi Spike! Nice to meet you, I'm Lillow.” This was pretty much repeated as Holly, Ishmael and Nonesuch introduced themselves. Ishmael introduced Ishytoo who was silent, staring transfixed at Spike.

   “Nice to meet you.” Spike repeated to each of us, along with a smile and nod at Ishytoo, then, “I like your farm here. It's beautiful!” 

   “Hey thanks.” I said, “So where you from Spike?”

   “Oh, just out in the mythical world, Gresham mostly. They say I appeared from a mist one day, others that I was born of a mother. I recall none of it, and only remember working as a pet for a Human family with three kids, then for another with two. It was a good life and I was loved, even though I was always restrained.” He looked sad. “But I appear to have some unusual qualities, the most deleterious being that I don't age.” We looked at him with wonder. “Or at least not as fast as others,” he continued, “I sure do feel older, I mean I've out-lived two families plus I've been exploring for a few years, so I expect I am pretty old, but I feel young and spry.”

   “He can see jeewizium too,” Lorna said with a happy smile. 

   We looked at him with pleased surprise. This flat-nosed Dog was getting more and more interesting.

   “You just passing through?” I asked.

   “I'm looking to find my place in the world, Lillow,” he answered. “I'm homeless and unattached, both of which I have found to be unsuitable.”

   “Gosh. Well you could stay with us for a while if you like.” I said. He seemed a nice enough guy, and his abilities intrigued me. I had a feeling there was more to this Dog than meets the eye, so I was pleased when he smiled and sat down.

   “Thanks. Yeah, I think will for a while,” and wagging his tail he asked, “Can I have a biscuit?”

 

The Fallen Star

1 Comments

June 21, 2019

Lillow Mi Gladstar 

   It was late spring, and Ishmael and I were watching the stars, something we both love to do. I don't know the constellations, but I do have a little group of stars that I like, and I look for them every night I'm out. I call them My Little Group of Stars or MLGS. They're so sweet that I can spend hours gazing at them. Those stars are timeless, being zillions of kilometers away mostly, and big, like they're as big as Father Sun, but just so far away, zillions of kilometers and all, that they look small. See I know about physics and stuff. That's why I was so shocked when one of the stars in MLGS, my favorite star in fact, began to wobble. Then, with a pop, it dropped out of the sky and landed in the middle of the meadow! Ishmael and I looked at each other with wide eyes.

   “Whoa, did you see that?” I asked.

   “Yeah I think so. I mean that star wobbled then fell into the meadow. Right?” he squinted, looking into the darkness.

   “Uh, yeah. That's what I thought I saw too.” I looked at the empty spot in the sky where the star had been, then to where the star seemed to have fallen. “But you know, that's just totally contrary to all the laws of physics.” I could see his raised eyebrows even in the darkness. “Okay, so we're not exactly huge followers of the laws of physics here, still, the idea of a star falling out there in the meadow . . .” I stopped as I saw a flickering of light in the meadow, out where something had landed right after the wobbling star dropped. I stared in wonder as Ishmael began walking toward it. I followed, staying behind. Slowly a figure began to emerge. It was a small round creature that glowed faintly like a full moon, only not as bright. It looked up as Ishmael approached. I heard a high-pitched voice.

   “Oh my! You're not supposed to, I mean, I can't be, you can't . . .” It stopped, staring at Ishmael with a very worried look. Ishmael looked at me, but I had no idea what to say or do so I just shrugged.

   “Hello there, are you a star?” Ishmael asked.

   “Yes, of course! Except you can't . . . well, you shouldn't be able to see me.” Ishmael's eyebrows rose. “I mean it's totally contrary to the laws of physics!” Now the creature was standing and waving its arms. Ishmael stepped back. I didn't think citing the laws of physics would serve it any better than they had me, as I could see Ishmael beginning to take exception. I spoke quickly. 

   “What caused you to fall out of the sky?” The creature stopped waving its arms and focused on me.

   “Well to begin with, I'm NOT here.” It scowled at me with its hands on its hips. “Secondly, YOU can't see me!” It looked at me with determination. “Or hear me!” It took a step closer. “Right?”

   He was intimidating like this, I must say! “Oh yes!” I said, nodding my head, “I can't see you or hear you.” I looked at Ishmael. “You can't see it either, right Ishmael? Can't hear it too, huh?”

   Ishmael, looking confused said, “Yes, er, no, I mean I can't, I . . .” He looked at me, but I motioned him to follow as I started backing away. This he understood except he only took a couple of steps backwards before turning and running. That wasn't what I'd meant, and I stood there in frustration. The creature walked up beside me, watching Ishmael run.

   “Gosh, that guy's in a hurry.” Then looking at me, “Do you think he saw me?” I was nonplussed and weakly shook my head no, with wide eyes. “Didn't think so.” it said, “I can't be seen, you know.”

   “But I thought . . .”

   “Nope! Can't see me at all.” It looked very pleased, “Can't hear me either.” I could tell it was proud of these accomplishments, such as they were, even in this dim light. It appeared to be a round ball with spikes all over, almost like a round porcupine, only it had arms and legs, and a small smooth face, wearing a smirk right now. It was kind of a bluish green, almost like the full moon but much dimmer. In fact, I could barely see it.

   “Well, gosh.” I said, “So, uh, what's your name?”

   It seemed to brighten a bit, “Why, I'm Sol, but the people in my system call me Father Sun.” I looked at it a little closer. Gosh, it's male. He was watching Ishmael, who was just disappearing from view, and seemed to be wearing a bemused expression. Then turning to me and smiling he continued, “I've but one life bearing planet, but that one is a doozy, let me tell you!” He swelled his chest, looking at me with pride, “I'm rather proud of it, I must say, and all they've, the people there I mean, the people on my planet, all they've accomplished.”  He was smiling now, trying to look modest, “Wonderful, wonderful stuff. They worship me, you know.”

   “Wow. That's crazy!” I said.

   He looked a little offended, “No, not really. I mean I am billions of years old, and I do inspire and nourish all the life on the planet, called earth by the way, so I am pretty numinous.” I thought of how we, here on earth, I mean this earth … gosh, is that name a coincidence? Probably not. Could be everyone calls their own planet earth. Why I'll bet there's billions of earths out there, probably. Anyway, I thought of how we revered our own Father Sun, also named Sol. What would we do if …?

   “Don't you think they'll miss you? I mean you're the sun for criminy sakes! Come on! We'd be goners without our sun! Jeez, your people gotta be freaking out!”   

  He gave me a worried look. “You think so? Golly, I was just taking an evening off. Didn't seem like much.” Now he was pacing, with his arms behind his back. “I sorta thought, you know, after a billion odd years or so, that an evening off, well a day really, anyway, I thought it'd be okay, you know, no big deal, right?”

   “Sounded reasonable,” I said, “except that you're the sun, and I don' know, but I think that if you're the sun and you go off duty, I mean, if our sun here,” I couldn't point to Father Sun because it was night, so I waved my arms around trying to be all-inclusive “were to fall out of the sky, why it'd be a calamity!”

   “It would, huh?”

   “The worst calamity ever! Major!”

   “Gosh, maybe I . . .” he gave a worried look to the sky, “maybe I oughta think about headin' back, I mean it's been fun and all, but really I should be going.” He walked over to where we'd first found him, in the middle of a parched circle of grass, and looked at me. “If you wouldn't mind? I could use a little help, please.” I walked over and he smiled at me, “What's your name? It's so rare, well impossible really, for anyone to see me, so I thought it'd be good to know your name. Keep track, you know, even though you can't see me.” he winked at me, “Can't hear me neither.” 

   “My name's Lillow.” I answered, smiling back.

   “No one remembers a miracle, Lillow.” Then with another wink he told me to make a saddle with my hands to give him a boost up, then he stepped up and bent his knees and I lifted, and he pushed and zoom! he disappeared into the night sky. I stood and watched as he returned to his spot, wobbled for a moment, then stuck and lit up, just like always, twinkling in MLGS, just like always. I couldn't help but laugh in delight!

   When I got back Ishmael was sitting in his chair like nothing had happened. When I mentioned the fallen star, he looked blank, saying he couldn't remember seeing any falling stars, not lately anyway. I had to smile. It really had been a miracle then, hadn't it?     

 

Lethe

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On the eastern side of Elvenstead is a huge field of white flowers that is a wonder to behold! It is a tourist attraction called the Lethe Fields, where glorious white flowers that lierally glow are arranged in vast fields. We had seen it in the distance as we were flying in. A huge field of stunning white flowers! Ishmael and I determined to go see these famous flowers, so at the first opportunity we walked into Breidablik, an eastern burrough of Elvenstead and caught a bussel to the gardens. We traveled east for about fifteen minutes then we angled southeast and after another five minutes or so we came to a clearing. There was a large building like a tourist lodge and a big sign that said “Lethe Fields”. I wondered what Lethe meant? Probably some esoteric Elf word, I'll have to look it up later.

The bussel let us off at the lodge, but I was immediately enthralled by what lay beyond. A huge field of shiny black flowers! It must be a kilometer across and from what I could see it was even longer lengthwise. I was amazed that these black flowers looked white from a distance. But as I looked I realized the flowers weren't black at all but rather a very dark blue. No wait. They're green. I was confused as I'd clearly seen white. I looked at Ishmael who was staring transfixed at the field. We began to walk slowly toward it, almost in a trance, not noticing the warning signs posted along the way. When we got to the field I opened the gate. In our daze we ignored the large warning sign posted on the gate in embarrassingly large red letters. I just don't recall it at all, and I really felt foolish when it was pointed out to me later. Anyway, I opened the gate and we entered on a small path, or what seemed a path. It was a raised mound that turned and twisted its way through the field which itself was almost a swamp. I could see that the ground, what I could see of it through these amazing red flowers, was damp. And the scent of the flowers was almost overpowering, heavy, intoxicating. We followed the path to a clearing next to a large meandering river and I sat down on the bank and introduced myself.

“Hi! I'm Lillow.”

“Oh, oh yes! Yes of course you are!” answered the river.

“Uh, are you the River Lethe?” I thought it might be the source of the field's name.

“River . . . yes, yes that sounds right, uh, Lethe...uh, that sounds...why, why yes! Yes I am!”

I glanced at Ishmael just as a gust of wind lifted his derby and set it down in a wet spot by the river. He ran over and bent down to pick it up. I heard the river gasp and say, “Uh-oh. I don't think that's good.” just as he put it back on his head. I could see water running down his face and I laughed but he just smiled and looked confused. I wondered what the river meant as I walked over and started wiping his face with my handkerchief. His eyes got round and he reared back like he didn't know me and I stood there with my wet handkerchief as my ears began to buzz and the amazing blue flowers filled my vision. I could see this ape looking at me and I became alarmed. What does he want? He was looking at me with confusion and doubt and I turned and walked quickly back up the path.

When I got to the top I could see what was probably a city with houses in the trees. Like Elves would do. I didn't notice two Witches fly past overhead as I began walking down the lane that was in front of me. It twisted and turned through the trees but maintained pretty much the same direction. West, I think. I walked for about ten minutes and came to an intersection of lanes that was large and had a few vendors spaced around in it. I was listening to an amazing Elf playing a flute with a Fæirie playing some kind of keyboard when a bussel came trundling by. I didn't notice the worried-looking cow on board, but it stopped just a little ways from me and then I saw her! She got off the bussel and started to FLY towards me with a frantic duck at her tail! Yikes! I took off running in the other direction. But as I ran I thought, there's something about that cow. I ducked behind a tree and watched her approach. The duck caught up and I could see her hair was bright red as they landed together in the lane where I had hidden. But I had already moved to the next tree, watching as they looked around the base of the first. Gosh, that red hair. Sure seems familiar somehow.

“Lillow!” called the duck. That voice! Somehow I knew . . .

“Lillow are you there?” called the cow. I knew that voice too. They're looking up the tree now.

“Lillow, we found Ishmael and he's fine but he can't remember anything!” said the duck. Ishmael. Gosh now that's familiar.

“Who's Ishmael?” I said from my hiding place behind the tree. They walked over to where I was, smiling and sympathetic. Then a picture of that ape back by the river appeared in my mind. They saw my puzzled look and said nothing, just smiling expectantly. I sat down on the ground. “Oh my head!” I said. “I keep getting these odd images . . . words, names.”

“Ishmael? Holly? Lorna?” asked the cow.

“Yes! And Witches and . . .” I was startled! “My mother's a Witch!” They just continued to smile nodding their heads. “I . . . I'm . . .”

“Lillow?” said the duck. Lorna.

“I'm Lillow.” I said with a sense of wonder. And I looked at her, “And you're Lorna!? . . . Lorna Loon!”

She began nodding rapidly, “Yes! Yes! That's right!”

And I looked at the cow, “And you're . . . Holly?”

“Oh yes!” she gushed, “You're remembering!”

“She just had a small amount.” said the the duck, Lorna, “It was just on the . . . uh, Lillow, where's your handkerchief?” I started to reach into my pocket, “No!” she said, “Don't touch it!” Then she used a long pair of tongs to grab my handkerchief out of my pocket she put it into a bag that Holly was holding. They then put that into another bag.

“Well that's that! said Holly, “We better get back! They'll be worrying.”

“Maybe Ishmael will start to remember,” said Lorna nodding agreement. She grabbed my hand and pulled me along, “C'mon Lillow, we gotta get back.”

As we walked Holly explained to me, “The Lethe fields are created by the Lethe River which is the river of forgetfulness. The water makes you forget! Luckily neither you nor Ishmael drank any or the memory loss would be permanent. Didn't you see all the warning signs?”

“Well I don't remember any.” I said, doubting the veracity of my memory.

“Well, it all turned out well. The little amount you guys got only lasts a few hours. Did you know they put a few drops in one of the local drinks?”

“I'd avoid that drink, Holly.” Lorna continued. “Anyway, your mom saw the whole thing in the crystal ball at the Witch's Embassy. She sent us to find you after she and Rosy picked up Ishmael and discovered you were gone. He was still in the flower beds, the poor thing, wandering around.”

When we got got back, Ishmael looked at me and smiled. “Lillow.” was all he said. By the next morning we could both remember most everything and returned to the farm, somewhat wiser.

 

A Minimal Intervention

2 Comments

March 24, 2019

Lillow Mi

 

Part One – Finding Out

 

“Well, what if you knew virtually nothing about anything?”

   “You seem to know grammar.” said Lorna, looking at me with wide eyes.

   “Yeah, well I am a writer. Actually, I’m the chronicler, if you’ll recall.”

   “I recall.” said Holly, “So you know about something. Quite a lot I should say.”

   “But that’s it!” I say, “That’s the only thing I know about!”

   Holly and Lorna both have surprised expressions. “But you write about so many things!” said Lorna while Holly nodded agreement.

   “All things you guys do or say. I need ideas to write, and you’re my source. On my own I could write nothing, because writing is all I know.”

   The meadow is awakening to her spring time glory and we sit comfortably in front of Holly’s Palatial Estate, enjoying a beautiful day. As the silence prolongs with no rebuttal, I realize it's true. All too true. I know nothing except writing. I see Ishmael walking down the lane from the Manor. He’s a little preoccupied since Ishytoo went off to Keeper School. I know he misses him, and too, that the Light duties grow onerous as he ages. No one speaks as he approaches.

   “Hey ladies1 How’s it going?” and he sits down next to me.

   “Lillow doesn’t know anything.” said Lorna with a worried look.

   “That so?” said Ishmael, giving me a sideways look and smiling.

   “No that’s not right!” I exclaim, “I just don’t know much beyond writing. I mean I know the regular stuff, like what everyone knows. But I don’t know enough about anything else to, you know, write about it.”

   “Hmmm, a quandary.”

   “Not a quandary at all!" said a familiar voice behind me, “Not to one who has the answers.” and Windigale Ossep stepped around and, staring into my eyes, said, “Not to one with all the answers.”

   “Gosh, now who could that be?” said Ishmael, with narrowed eyes.

   “Why it’s me, of course!” said Windy, looking over at Ishmael, “And you knew it, too!” Then, looking back at me, “That right there is why you don’t see any apes on my staff.”

   “Haw!” said Ishmael, “Why, no self-respecting ape . . .”

   “No such thing.” said Windy, with a wave of her hand. “Now Lillow, you listen; anything you want to know, you just ask old Windy! ‘Cause see, I know everything!” Seeing the look of uncertainty on my face she added, “I mean it Lillow! Everything! You just ask! You got that?”

   Knowing that any objection, for which I had many, would be quickly dismissed with specious and circuitous logic, I nodded agreement.

   With a harrumph! she turned and sat down by Holly. “Now that’s what I’m talking about.” but Holly just looked confused, and Ishmael scowled.

   Windy, ever oblivious, began chattering, “I heard there was some trouble up in Blue Valley. You know, up where you met them uni-rats.”

   “Unanimals,” I say , remembering that spring day when Ishmael and I had visited Blue Valley, north of Elvenstead. We sat in on a board meeting where the CEO got everything he wanted, due to the board being comprised of Unanimals who always said yes, no matter what. Well, first the Council of Witch’s in Bluff, then the City Council of Elvenstead, and finally King Dellvan himself, all came out against this practice, saying the Unanimals were not unbiased, nor were they responsible stewards of a company’s well-being. The CEOs appealed, of course, but the decision stood, based on the apparent justification for the complaints after the Unanimals were interviewed. I'd wondered how this would affect the Unanimals, and I listened closely, wondering what Windy might know.       

   “Yes, yes, unanimals, unana-rats, whatever. Anyway, it seems these guys can only say yes! Can you imagine such bone-headedness?”

   I looked at her, “Well, yes actually, I can, I . . .”

   “CEOs didn’t have a chance!” and she laughed loudly. “No way, hokay, and they were forced to create actual boards instead of rubber-stamping yes-boards, and the economy recovered, except there are now a large number of Uni-bears who are out of work.” she stopped and looked around, frowning.  “And they’ve begun migrating south to Elvenstead.”   

    “They’re Unanimals Windy, and you say they’re migrating?”

   “Yes! Lots of them, looking for work.”

   “What kind of work do they do?” asked Lorna.

   “They say yes!” barked Windy, throwing her wings up.   

   “Who’d pay them to do that?” asked Ishmael.

   “No one. Not anymore! That’s the problem. Now that the CEOs can’t legally employ genuine yes-men, the Unanimusses got no work.”

   “Unanimals Windy. There must be something they can do?”

   “They operated Waggels.” said Ishmael, “Remember Lillow? At Elvenstead? Probably Bussels too, although I never saw one.”

   There were a few moments of silence. Then Holly said, “I heard that in the mountains above the Blue Valley is another strange creature.” she looked thoughtful,  “Called Mini-something, I think.”

   “Yeah, seems like I’ve heard of them.” I say, but in retrospect I really hadn’t. I felt something nudging my leg and I looked down to see a Tome. The Tomes are the sacred texts of the Witch’s and they frequently tell me things, so I knew, when I saw it, that it had something to say. I picked it up and set it down on its spine, letting it fall open where it may. It settled about a third of the way through, and the first page was titled: Minimals. I read aloud,

MINIMALS

Found only in Elvenstead, in the BigRock Mountains above Blue Valley, Minimals are some sort of sibling or more likely cousins to Unanimals with some basic differences. First, they are green and much less fish-like than the blue Unaimals. They probably live in caves, but no one knows because they are more secretive than Unanimals. The big difference is, they only say no.                  

 

At this last part everyone sat up attentively.

   “They say no?” said Ishmael, with a curious look.

   “The opposite of Unanimals.” said Windy with a dreamy look.

   “I wonder what would happen if a Unanimal and a Minimal got together?” said Ishmael.

   “Probably annihilate each other.” said Windy, “Like matter and anti-matter. Put ‘em together and BLOOEY!!!” she said the last part really loud and we all reared back. I looked back at the Tome and saw some writing I hadn’t noticed before.

   “There’s more.” I say, then read aloud;

NONCES

When a Unanimal and a Minimal come together they meld, forming their mature form, the Nonce. Nonces are rare, feared to be near extinction. They were revered by the ancients for their wisdom, known as Nonce-Sense. They are brown, like little bears and can fly, having wings like a Fæirie. Found mainly in the northern wilderness where nobody goes, they turn white when the snows come. No one knows this stuff, except, now, you, and whoever else you might tell.     

 

   “I figured that’s what’d happen.’ said Windy, sneering at Ishmael.

   “Could they be going extinct because they rarely, if ever, get together anymore?” asked Holly.

   I think about this, then say, “Yeah, could be. I never heard of Minimals before, never a hint of them in Blue Valley. You ever hear of Minimals Ishmael?”

   “No. And I sure never heard of Nonces.”

   “Yeah, me neither.”

   “Not much we can do about it anyway,” Ishmael continued, ‘this is all happening a long ways from here, four hours by fast broom.”

   “Long ways.” said Holly.

   “Five hours as the crow flies.” said Lorna, then, looking at Ishmael, “They aren’t that reliable, you know.” Ishmael nodded agreement.

Part Two – The Intervention 

   We decide we must act, and soon we are airborne, moving swiftly toward Elvenstead. I had the lead, riding my Damfaster sports broom, with Holly, Lorna on her back, close behind. Ishmael, riding a late model Mjoly, cruised in their wake, and we were in Elvenstead in two hours. We head to Bilskirn and catch a Waggel to Blue Valley. When we arrive, it was just as it was when Ishmael and I had visited before. The slide hill was going but the melt-water lake was getting bigger, and I could tell the slide hill would close soon and the Blue Valley Boat Tours would open. Unanimals were bustling about.

   I asked our Waggel driver, who was himself a Unanimal, about the migration to Elvenstead, and he laughed. “Yes! Only no one goes. Why do we need jobs? Yes! Yes!” and he laughed some more. I could see how that might be misinterpreted. I looked at Ishmael and he nodded for me to continue, so I asked where we could find a guide to the mountains.

   “Why I’m a mountain guide!’ he chirped,  “Where you wanna go/? Huh? I can take you anywhere!”

   I was amazed. What luck! “Well, we’re sure glad to meet you!” I said, “We want to go up to the Minimal territory.”

   He looked shocked, “Yes, go there!” he opened the waggel door, “Now you go. Yes! I”m very busy.” and he left us standing there by the emerging Blue Lake. We waited, unsure what to do. Soon a shadowy figure appeared, a Unanimal in a trench coat, furtively looking about.

   “Heard you need a guide.” he whispered.

   “Yeah that’s right.” I answered. “You know one?”

   He looked around again, “Yes! Heard you wanna go to Greenhome?”

   “Uh, I dunno. We’re trying to find the Minimals.”

   “Yes, that’s it. They’re in Greenhome. You wanna go?”

   “Yes!” I said, and he led us through some trees to his waiting waggel, and soon we were headed up the hill. After quite a long, circuitous ways we stopped.

   “There it is.” and he pointed to a clearing in the distance. “This here’s as close as I get. You gotta walk in.” I could see a longing in his eyes, behind the fear. We dismount and proceed walking. I wonder what he’s so afraid of, and I look ahead with apprehension.

   When we get to the clearing we’re greeted by a strange green figure, like a bear about a meter tall. “Hello. Welcumma Greenome. Whatya want?”

   “Oh! Well hello. I’m Lillow and these are my friends, uh, Holly...”

   “Okay then, nize ah meet you! All you. Now, what you want?”

   “Well, we came to find out why you guys never meet up with the Unanimals any more.”

   His eyes got wide, and he whispered, “Unanimals?”

   I nodded. “Yeah. It seems the Nonce are going...”

   “The Nonce are just a myth! When we meet a blue, we disappear!” and he looked around furtively, just like the Unanimal we’d just left. “No more! You get it?”   

   I looked at Ishmael, “Gosh.” I whispered, “Unanimals and Minimals are afraid of each other because they don’t believe in Nonces.”

   “No such thing!” said the Minimal.

   “What foolishness!” yelled Ishmael. “C’mere!” and he grabbed the Minimal and dragged him back to the cowering Unanimal at the waggel. As soon as they saw each other a brown line appeared between them and began drawing them together. Each went wide-eyed and when they were close there was a loud pop, and then there was only a small brown bear with wings standing there.

   “Oh, that’s always such a struggle.” he said, looking at us with a frustrated expression, “Why is that so hard?” He unfolded his wings, “Well, at least I finally made it.” Then he smiled and flew away.

   “Wait! Wait!” yelled Ishmael, but the bear was gone. “Ain’t that just a snit!” he growled. “How’re we ever going to get them together?”

   I watched the bear fly away. He was beautiful, happy and free, beyond the concerns of those left behind, flexing his muscles and flying! Then I saw a bit of blue and an old Unanimal appeared in the distance, walking slowly, and sat on a bench. As I watched an old green Minimal walked up and sat next to him, and there was a loud pop, discernible even at our distance, and I saw the brown bear appear, and look around. Then smiling, he waved at me before spreading his wings and flying away.   

   “I don’t know Ishmael.” I gazed into the distance where the bear had flown. I was beginning to wonder if we should even be trying.  “I sort of think everything is okay here already.” I say. The others, who had also seen the Unanimal and Minimal meld naturally, as I did, agreed.

   We flew back to the meadow, where tea and biscuits awaited.

 

A New Day

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January 24, 2019

Lillow Mi

Tendile was the Foreman, which meant he was in charge. Completely, since Headquarters was millions of kilometers away. Headquarters was, in fact, farther away than the earth was big, and he pondered that briefly, before letting it go, like so many other things. Didn’t do any good to wonder at such things, not really, because if you do, you’ll likely go crazy. Nothing made sense, except getting rich. Especially since those aliens arrived, those destructive Turble, not since then has anything else made sense. And that’s been what? Thirty years? Yeah pretty much thirty years now. He looked at his crew, awaiting their instructions.

They came in a rush, like a gust of air, making him take a step back.

More of the plenty, a voice at the table, a roof over our heads, our health care enabled . . .

Yes, yes, the usual, he muttered, then smiling, he promised them all would be done. Forsooth. And turning, pursued his own ends, none of which involved any of the Crew’s demands. This is how it’s always been done, and that’s just how I’ll do it, he thought, with satisfaction. He became greater as the Crew became lesser, more financially entrenched, and more subservient.

The Crew worked harder, each day looting more, for looting was their business, millions of kilometers from Headquarters. No one would know just what they did, how each day they’d take more, and cart it away. The freighters they sent back to Headquarters loaded with booty were numerous and profitable, making Tendile wealthy. Very wealthy, until finally he was summoned to Headquarters to become one of the Central Receivers, set to live in luxurious consumption on his own private estate, his every whim made real. The Crew continued on as if nothing had happened, and a new Foreman was dispatched immediately by Headquarters.

The new Foreman, Hedresh, arrived bearing gifts, for he knew he must win the approval of the Crew before he could take command. They were the ones who gave the orders, after all. He found it remarkably easy to win them over and was soon holding the reins of power and raking in the wealth, while promising to do the opposite.

Now, a curious thing happened. The beings, collectively known as Loot, who comprised the otherwise subjugated group being looted, made their presence known. Somehow, they’d banded together and rose up, becoming a nuisance and confusing the crew. Hedresh had but two options; viciously suppress the Loot or move on to easier pickings. He knew the Crew were likely to just run off in the event of a confrontation since they were of Loot stock, so he was predisposed to moving on. But when he gave the signal to move out, he knew immediately that something was wrong. The Crew continued looting as if they’d not heard him, and he could hear the angry voices of Loot all around. When he saw some of the fringe Crew running off, he knew the situation was getting out of hand, and he gave the move out signal again. As if responding to his command, mobs of Loot appeared, running at them from every direction, brandishing spears and rifles, grimacing and screeching, their murderous intent clear. Hedresh activated the escape pod and shot instantly into the air where he watched safely from above as his Crew and the Loot engaged. The Crew were well armed with the latest dark gizmos and devious devices that were the looter’s lot, and held the mob back, inflicting great pain upon the Loot. Yet, in the end, sheer numbers prevailed, and he watched angrily as his Crew was overrun and destroyed by the Loot.

He was angry because he had not yet attained the wealth necessary to ascend to the Central Receivers, and worse, must now find a new Crew. He considered unleashing his entire nuclear arsenal, obliterating the Loot and any surviving Crew. Unfortunately, it would also obliterate him as the pod could not possibly outrun the resultant fireball. But golly it was tempting, and he leered at the carnage below. It’d get Headquarters’ attention, that’s for sure. And really, if life couldn’t give him what he wanted, what was the point? Why not just go out with a bang? Give ‘em something to remember. He smiled at the thought, imagining the blasted craters that would be all that was left of this part of the world, and he began feeling better. He decided against it, for now, and started putting out ads to recruit a new Crew.

Believing that becoming Crew was a pathway to Central Receiving, many people applied, and Hedresh soon had a new Crew. The harsh reality; that no Crew member had ever become a Foreman, the only caste considered for Central Receiving, was a well-kept secret, known only at Central Receiving, and by most Foremen, although it was only by way of rumor for them. But everyone did know, one way or another, that the difference between Loot and Crew was merely in their usefulness, that is, how they were being used by Headquarters, which was billions of kilometers away.

A new day and Hedresh listened, bored by his Crew’s orders, as they proclaimed them. Then with a smile, he promised sincerely to strive for their enactment, warning that while the forces of chaos spread by the Turble have successfully undermined his efforts so far, that he, and he alone had the gumption, drive, and intelligence to lead the fight for their cause. Then, turning away, he did just what he pleased, which was enriching himself, while the crew worked on, looting and pillaging, commendably diligent, no matter what.

A Day in the Woods

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October 23, 2018 Lillow Mi

 

I first heard the call of that wild . . . well okay, I didn’t know what, just some wild, unrecognizable screech in the night, filled with menace, and longing, and, well, when I first heard that, I felt bereft, like, almost like being hopeless, like the howl itself, a hopeless yet fierce longing, and rage, a palpitating rage, that raised the shackles and showed the fangs.

I’d been hiking, coming out from a day trip in the wilderness, and I’d gone further and stayed longer than I’d meant to. Now it was getting dark. I knew I still had a couple kilometers to go, so I was hurrying, perhaps becoming a little careless in my haste. I wasn’t equipped for a night in the wilderness. That’s when I heard it. It came from behind me, off to my left, and seemed a long way off, that impossibly hopeless, raging howl, alone in the night, but with a sense, an inexplicable, yet persistent and strong sense that the creature that was howling knew that I was there. That it knew right where I was, and, that I was frightened. I began to run. The last few kilometers are pretty flat, and the trail is wide and smooth due to all the day-hikers, plus I knew it pretty well, so I was able to run quite fast, despite my difficulty with running. And I did. I was sprinting like I’d never sprinted before. I was in good shape from all my hiking, so I think I was going pretty fast, plus I was terrified. I was in the final stretch to the parking area, when I heard a loud rustling in the underbrush behind me. Like something huge was running toward me, gaining on me. Then, just as I broke into the parking area, it stopped. I was to my truck, and inside it in record time.

I locked the door and sat there panting for a moment before I got my key into the ignition. When my truck started, I was fairly squealing in the gravel in my haste to get out of there. When I got home it was late, but I went around and made sure all the doors and windows were locked. I was too upset to even think about sleeping, so I got my rifle out of the closet and cleaned and oiled it. I had about five rounds, which sure didn’t seem like much, but I wasn’t going to go out again, not  at night anyway. It was in the wee hours that I finally dozed off, and I slept with all the lights on, my rifle nearby.

The next morning, looking out at the sunshine and people going about their lives, I began to wonder if I’d imagined the whole thing. I mean, I hadn’t seen anything. Just heard it. That rustling I’d heard could’ve been from any number of things. Natural things, things that belong in the woods. But that otherworldly howl that I’d heard definitely did not belong there, or anywhere for that matter. I was totally conflicted. I didn’t think that if I reported it to the park ranger, that I’d heard a scary sound in the woods, that I’d be taken seriously. I mean, that’s all I had, except I was terrified. I had that. These woods were like my home. I mean I spent most of my free time up there, camping most weekends, or day tripping like I’d been when I heard that . . . whatever it was. I had to find out what was up there, making those noises, because I was terrified at the thought, even in broad daylight, and with a rifle, I was terrified at the thought of going back, and that was unacceptable. I had to be back in the office tomorrow and for the rest of the week, which meant I couldn’t go back until next weekend, but, despite my urgency, I was okay, even oddly relieved, to have a week to wait.

Friday night and I was ready. I’d done some research in the evenings during the week, but I’d really not found much. No reports of monsters or strange howls in the last month or so. There have been Bigfoot sightings in these woods, but it’s been quite a long time since the last reporting. Could that howl have been the sound of a Bigfoot, finally reaching its wits end? I shivered at the thought. Why would it chase me? I wondered how many incidents had gone unreported, like mine? I had a lot of things to find out. I threw my pack into my truck and headed for the woods, straight to the trailhead of the trail where I’d had my experience.

I was extra cautious from the first, taking my time, being mindful. I soon realized that I should be doing it this way anyway, whenever I came into the woods, or doing anything for that matter, as I felt more alive, intuitive and appreciative of the moment. Enjoying my hypersensitivity, I strolled easily up the trail, constantly checking the sides and behind, even looking above. I figured that along with my heightened sense of smell, I had all the bases covered. So, my complete flabbergast when a large hairy hand landed on my shoulder, could not possibly be overstated. I would have jumped a meter had the hand not held me down. But it did, and unable to jump, my legs gave out and I collapsed, blacking out.

I awoke in a light green room with no windows and sparse furnishings. There was the cot I’d been lying on, a recessed counter on the opposite wall, a chair and a small table. There was no sign of a door or window nor could I tell the source of light, even though the room was well lit. I walked over to the recessed counter and found a sink with hot and cold running water, a small door and a couple of knobs.

In time I learned that the door provided any food I thought of, so that I was never hungry or thirsty. When I needed a bathroom, an opening would appear in the wall and there would be a bathroom. When I wanted to sleep the lights would dim. A small cabinet on the back of the table provided any book requested and a hidden screen would play any movie requested. The room was big enough that I didn’t feel claustrophobic, and even offered large side rooms occasionally for a change of scene.

I have no idea how long I stayed in this room, but I have a feeling it was a very long time, like a really, really long time. Time ceased to have any meaning, and my awake periods were like dreams, surreal yet acutely real. I never felt bored. Or alone.

When I slept, I dreamed of being in the woods, the woods I loved and where I had been when I was . . .abducted? I guess that’s what happened. Anyway, I dreamed of running through the woods, free and powerful. I could smell the night air as I ran, exhilarated by my ease, for running had always been difficult for me. I could smell every tree and flower and grass that grew in that forest, as well as any of her denizens who might have been near. I ran silently and smooth, so that I passed many animals, who regarded me without fear, as I regarded them.

One night I dreamed that I encountered another kind of creature, a creature I remembered somehow. A creature full of malice and greed, fearful and capable of great destruction. I screamed in rage and despair and chased the creature as it fled. But when it entered an open area and ran toward a vehicle I stopped in the shock of recognition. The vehicle was my truck and the fleeing creature was me.

No More Teachers

August 17, 2018

Lillow

Thesaurus was uncomfortable in the garden. There were no other dinosaurs, and the others were strange things like aurochs, which were some kind of ox he supposed by their look, plus some dodos, who he'd rather not look at, not really, a little flock of heath hens who chattered constantly, along with some amazing golden frogs and a pack of weird striped dogs, or maybe tigers. Quite a few other things too, but Thesaurus couldn't be concerned with them. His concern was that there might not be any more dinosaurs, and that was enough. He was starting to worry.

Everywhere he went there was talk of extinction. Why would they talk of that? he wondered. They all looked so healthy, nice little groups really, when it was he who had the real worry, what with there being no other dinosaurs and all. Thesaurus was fearful of being the last dinosaur and would not listen to any extinction talk.

As time went on the animals changed. He didn't know where they went after they shuffled through the exit gate, but other animals took their places. Things like spotted owls, but Thesaurus no longer kept track. He'd heard, surely just a silly rumor, but he'd heard that the dinosaurs had already been extinct for 65 million years! He'd been shocked to his core when he heard this, and in total denial and unable to think, he'd stumbled around without even knowing where he was. Finally, he slept, and when he woke, he was near the entrance gate. He could see the new animals coming in, wearing sad resigned looks. Then he noticed another group who had just been admitted, cowering and keeping separate. They seemed more stunned, confused and disconsolate than the others, and, strangely guilty. Even stranger, he felt connected to them. That somehow his future and theirs were intertwined. As he approached he could hear their laments. Why did we not see this coming? How could we let this happen?

Thesaurus was puzzled. This group seemed to feel culpable for their situation. As if they'd had some control. All the other animals had railed against the changing environment, or the overwhelming predators, but none had exhibited any real signs of ever having much control. Until this bunch. They considered themselves masters, yet they were extremely disconsolate, already lost, declaring that many, perhaps most of their kind were unaware of the coming end, and worse, did not care. Here was a race committing suicide. How could I be caught up with this crowd? thought Thesaurus. He began seeking alternatives. Crush, drove, flock, herd, horde, host, legion, mob . . . none of these seemed better. He looked further. Bunch, circle, clan, clique, community, coterie, coven, gang... gosh. Community didn't sound too bad. Still, this particular “community” didn't seem any better for it. How'd I get involved with this crowd? he thought, with a scowl.

He watched with dismay as they proceeded across the garden, toward the exit gate. Instead of rallying to overcome this ending, instead of using their obvious intelligence to change their course, they fought each other, called each other names, and continued morosely toward the exit gate. As he watched, he realized his cause was lost, for it became apparent that this group was not going to save themselves or anyone else, and further that he was indeed inextricably connected. He now knew that he was, in fact, their creation, their lost glory in learning, and that their end was his end.

 

 

 

Windy and The Wind.

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   July 13, 2018

Lillow Mi

 The Meadow was roasting, as Father Sun had gotten too close again, and had let his warmth get out of hand. I could smell the arid heat as it dried and crisped the flora and fauna. We staggered about, barely comprehending what had overtaken us, looking for shade, looking for cool, and wallowing in whatever clear, cold water we could find. Any surcease from the unrelenting heat, that was our constant thought.

   I was in the meadow, resting under some marvelous dappled shade, sipping an iced tea. Ishmael was lying under some bushes nearby and we could barely hear Ishytoo and Lorna splashing in the water way down in Probable Creek. Lorna would fly over from time to time and splash us with cool water, and we were grateful for that. It was amazing how much water her feathers could hold! Holly was lying in the shade of her Palatial Estate and I wasn't sure if she was awake or not, so I was trying not to disturb her. We had achieved a damp torpor that was sufficiently relaxing despite the blazing inferno that surrounded us, and I felt a wave of contentment. I was not too surprised to see Windigale Ossep trotting up the cross-meadow trail as if it were a cool day, and I watched her approach through slitted eyes.

   “Hey, Lillow!” she called as she got near, and settling down by my side, asked, “Hot enough for you?” Her eyes were bright, and her smile seemed benign, almost friendly, and I couldn't help but wonder, what was wrong with her?

   “What do you mean 'hot enough for me?'” I snapped, “How hot do you think I want it, lying here near comatose from the heat already? Huh?”

   “Hey, Ishmael!” she said, spotting him under the bushes.

   “Windy. Too hot for me,” he answered in a muffled tone.

   “Lillow, I have seen the most marvelous thing!” she said, turning back to me. I tried not to look upset, and even tried for a cheerfully inquisitive look. “Oh, Lillow! Don't worry! This is fabulous, really!”

   “What is it, Windy?” I said, trying to smile.

   “Don't grimace, Lillow, you look like you're going to cry.”

   “What'd you see?” I growled, trying to grimace.

   “Oh!” She gave me an odd look, “Well, yes. Of course! Lillow, there's a Dust Devil visiting the Dry Pond!”

   I tried not to look shocked. Dust Devils were fairly rare in these parts, coming mainly in the dry heat, also rare, like today. They are short-lived when they're in the mythical world, but here, on the farm? They can last for hours by absorbing magic, which they are inclined to do, being energy beings. They can even become tornadoes. We've had some interesting conversations with them in the past, but I couldn't really say that I liked them, as they are impulsive and have little regard for property. Flitting about, knocking things over without notice, and darting toward anything that interested them, they could be very destructive. We've found that engaging them in conversation was a good way to minimize these destructive behaviors, and have had, as I said, interesting conversations. But this effort would become tedious after a while, so when a Dust Devil occurred, we all tried to rally around. Keep the conversation going and minimize the damage, you know? 

   I glanced over at Ishmael, who was standing up, and Holly, who was already up and walking toward us with a worried look. “Did I hear Dust Devil?” she asked.

   “Yeah,” I said, “down in the Dry Pond.” We three immediately began walking briskly toward the cross-meadow trail. With a curious look, Windy followed. Going south on the trail we were soon at the Dry Pond, which was just across the perimeter trail from Probable Creek, and we could better hear Ishytoo yelling in the distance, followed by a loud splash.

   Then we heard Lorna. “Good dive, Ishytoo! Wahoo!” followed by another large splash, then more splashing and giggling.

   I looked around and there, across the dry pond, was Jack Ass facing the Dust Devil and chattering away. The Devil looked annoyed and was dancing about like it was anxious to leave, raising a lot of dust.

   “Hi, Devil!” I said, walking over.

   With a grateful look, Jack turned and said, “Hey you guys! Meet Whirley, the Dust Devil,” and he indicated the Devil with his nose.

   “Hi, Whirley!” I said, waving. I hoped I was smiling. All the Dust Devils called themselves Whirley, but I didn't say anything about that. Maybe there was only one Dust Devil that kept recurring, but I thought it more likely that each was new, and they just didn't know about each other. They weren't all that bright actually, something they made up for with their deleterious and boisterous natures.

   “Oh great!” it growled, looking at us, “More gabbers!” It began drifting away toward the lower meadow. “I got things to do!”

   “Wait, Whirley!” I called out, “I've got stuff to tell you! Important stuff that you should know!” and it held still, scowling.

   “What you got?” it howled, its winds magically maintained.

   “Well, first off, you should know that if you keep going in that direction you'll get trapped in a forest glen that will dampen your winds.” I looked at Holly. If it kept in that direction it would also hit Holly's Altar. I looked back at Whirley, who seemed to drift north now, toward Glad Manor.

   “I heard there was a big wall in that direction,” said Holly, looking north. “The kind of wall that stops wind,” she added. The Devil faltered.

   “Why'zit so hard'a have fun here?” it howled, knocking Ishmael's hat off.

   It's going to be tricky keeping this guy talking, I thought. I looked at Ishmael dusting his hat, and he returned my worried look. Windy was watching with big round eyes, and Jack had gone off in the distance, peering at us from behind some trees.

   “Maybe this just isn't a good place for Dust Devils,” I said, hoping to convince it to cross Probable Creek and blow itself out on Jenny Butte. I knew it was an unlikely proposal, as water was anathema to Dust Devils, unless there was lots and lots of water, so that the Devil could suck it up and get stronger. But a little water, like a creek, would more'n likely dampen and diminish it.

   Ishmael, reading my mind, said, “That butte up there sure looks like good blowing ground!” He pointed south, trying to ignore Probable Creek's presence. The Devil bounced back and forth looking at the butte, then at the water. I could see it getting more agitated until it suddenly whipped around, looking north again.

   “How big's 'at wall?” it growled, hissing and whistling.

   Suddenly there was a loud flapping of wings and Lorna appeared from behind, splashing water everywhere. The Devil faltered, wavering in the splashing water, as Ishytoo, dripping wet, came walking right through it, grinning at us. Lorna splash-landed where the Devil had been, dwindling it into just a puddle amidst rapidly dispersing winds.   

   “What're you guys doing here?” she asked with a wide grin. Ishytoo stamped his foot in the mud and laughed. Windy looked at them with amazement but said nothing.

   “Just taking a walk,” said Ishmael, putting his hat on.

   Holly and I both laughed, “Out enjoying the weather.” I said.  

       

     

I am curious about . . .

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June 29, 2018

Lillow Mi

Fauna Radio

Windigale Ossep, the famous advice columnist, is taking a vacation. I am curious about how Darnalongs spend their vacation time and, well, really about how they spend any of their time, so I arranged an interview with the famous sisters, Windigale and Addagale Ossep. We are meeting at the exclusive Darnalong Resort, Tailfeathers, in the beautiful Thagwood Forest, broadcasting on KGLD, Fauna Radio, your local source for news and weather. 

Announcer: Here is another fascinating episode of Darnalong Discoveries, with your host, Lillow Mi. Today's episode: An interview with the famous Darnalong sisters, Windigale and Addagale Ossep. And now, your host, Lillow Mi.

Lillow: Good day ladies. Thank you for joining me here today.

Addagale: Gladda be here!

Windigale: Hey Lillow! Gladda be here too!

 Lillow: So, the reason I asked you here today is because we, all your adoring fans, are curious to know how you spend your free time. Windy, you've just started a vacation. What will you do?

Windigale: Well I do have a full-time job managing Joe's Carpet and Broom Emporium, but I will take some time off to travel this year. Between the Emporium and the column, I've been running myself ragged. I think I'll spend some time at our condo in the Swamp of Doom.

Addagale: Oh, I've been thinking about the swamp! Any way I can come along?

Windigale: Absolutely! Why, I was going to ask you!

Lillow: You vacation in the Swamp of Doom?

Windigale: We have a condo there. East end where the jungle begins. A lovely spot.

Lillow: The swamp is...

Addagale: It's swell, Lillow!

Lillow: Swamp-gas, bugs, alligators, dinosaurs, I mean...

Windigale: The best in the world, Lillow!

Addagale: You'd have to travel the ends of the earth to find creatures of this quality, Lillow.

Lillow: I, uh, well I guess I haven't thought of it that way before. The dinosaurs certainly look fit. The alligators do seem healthy.

Windigale: Last year we went to Joten, stayed in Chuckette at the Boar's Bore. Real Trolls, Lillow!

Lillow: I know about Trolls, Windy.

Addagale: Remember the Dwarves Windy? Remember little Dunnet, hmmm? Hmmm? Noxious little thing, wasn't he?

Lillow: Are you blushing, Windy?

Windigale: Lillow, I have to go. Bye!

Lillow: Huh? Oh, well thanks, Windy. Addy, you too?

Addagale: I'm just checkin' on Windy.

Lillow: Oh, okay. Well, let's take a short break. Have you all heard about Momma Dollops Biscuit Bonanza? It's just the best when you're shopping for biscuits! Flaky and buttery, biscuits full of love! Remember Momma Dollop when you think of biscuits. {long pause} Hello? {another pause} Addy?

{Faintly, in the background, 'Hey, Lillow. She'll be okay.' Then back on the microphone.

Addagale: Hey, I'm back. Windy'll be fine. She'll probably be back in a minute.

Lillow: Okay good. Let's continue, shall we? So, Addy, how do you spend your free time when you're in town?

Addagale: Well Lillow, I'm an amateur heckler, as you may have heard, and I like to attend all the lectures, and comedy shows.

Lillow: You're a heckler?

Addagale: I'm good, Lillow. Why I've . . . oh, here's Windy.

Windigale: Hi, Lillow, I'm back. Sorry, I just needed a moment. I don't know any Dwarves.

Lillow: Welcome back, Windy. We were just talking about your free time in town. What do you like to do?

Windigale: I don't know any Dwarves.

Lillow: Uh, yes. You mentioned that.

Addagale: You don't remember . . .

Windigale: No! I do not. I don't know any Dwarves.

Lillow: Yes, of course. You don't know any Dwarves. Wait. What about...?

Windigale: No Dwarves!

Lillow: Right then, so, uh, how do you like to spend your free time?

Windigale: Well, I don't spend it with any Dwarves, that's for sure.

{Addagale giggles}

Oh yeah? Well how about Dwimble? Huh? You think we didn't notice?

Addagale: We're just friends.

Windigale: Sure. Sure.

{Windigale jumps up and stands on the table, marching back and forth, knocking things off. The radio emits crashes and stomps, then, along with the stomps,} Dwimble and Addy under the tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

Addagale: Hisses loudly.

{Addagale stands on her chair, jumping up and down, the radio emits loud thumps, along with,}

 Did not! Did not! What about Dunnet? Huh? Huh? Huh? Dunnet was the runt that Windy did the...

{There is a loud click as the sound is shut off. Static for a moment, then a smaller click}

Announcer: Well, this ends our interview with the famous Ossep sisters. Our heartfelt thanks to Windigale and Addagale Ossep, along with our host, Lillow Mi, for today's informative interview, and thank you to all of our listeners, we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you! This is KGLD, Fauna Radio. You have been listening to Darnalong Discoveries.

And remember! When it comes to biscuits, Momma Dollup's are the bestest!

Next up, the Grover Grosbeak Show, so stay tuned. 

 

 

Experienced

1 Comments

June 10, 2018

Lillow Mi

Skidbladnir = a ship made by the Dwarves that was so large it could contain all the deities, with their war and household implements, but so skillfully wrought that when folded together it could be put into a side pocket

   Burl Eugene Rider was an adrenaline junkie. He loved the thrill of close calls and near hits, and especially, what he loved, was going fast. Real fast, didn't matter how, just pedal to the metal, as they say. Max it out, show 'em what, whatever you're in, can do! Just go!

   He'd always seemed a blur to me, as I watched him get faster over the years. High school he'd had a hot rod and was a drag racer down Main Street. Somehow, he always managed to evade the police, even though they kept a constant watch. He was just fast.

   After High School, he joined the military, and even there he managed to go fast. Somehow, despite his lack of education he became a jet plane pilot and flew missions, dangerous missions over enemy territory. He stayed with the military when the war ended, and continued to fly fast, but it wasn't the same. He realized that he missed the enemy trying to knock him down as he flew his missions. He missed the danger, and the way he felt when in danger. He missed the not quite total relief when he was safe again, an endorphin rush that was already looking for its next fix, already craving the next danger, and its subsequent relief. Or not. He applied for and got a posting as a test pilot, risking his life to test new aircraft being produced. When he was promoted, he found himself increasingly behind a desk. This was a situation he found intolerable, so he transferred to training and teaching the new pilots the ways of military flying. 

   Finally, inevitably, the military said he had gotten too old, that he no longer had the reflexes, the sight, or the stamina to fly the missions. There was a new generation eager to fight the new wars, eager to take their places in our county's defense. Unwilling to take a desk job, he was pensioned out.

   He came back home where he'd grown up. At first, he tried the retirement life, taking it easy, hanging out at the pool, people watching, reading, doing as he pleased. But after a few months he knew he needed his fix. He was too young and vibrant to be put out to pasture.

   Disdainful of the safe and tame schedules of commercial aircraft, he began exploring the possibilities in smuggling, but was soon discouraged from that field. He was not meant to be a criminal. He began to feel despair. How was he ever going to attain the hair-raising speeds he needed to be happy? Growing increasingly despondent, he began spending his evenings in bars, drinking his need away.  

   There was one bar called the Galaxy Lounge that eventually became his favorite. He liked the ambiance, quiet, unlike so many bars with their loud, pulsing music. It was in his neighborhood and was dark and mysterious, features he found very attractive. A person could be totally behind-the-scenes here, he thought with satisfaction, unobtrusive, unnoticed. Sipping his drink, he leaned back, watching the activity around the front door, far removed from his safe haven.   

   He had gotten kind of dreamy and lost track of the front door, who was entering and who was leaving, so he didn't notice when the Crone came in, stood just inside the door looking around, and spotting him, marched over and plopped down in the only other chair at his small table. This last action brought him to awareness, and he sat up.

   “Hey Rider! Mind if I sit here?” she said, signaling the bar hop for drinks.

   Bemused, he muttered, “No, I don't mind. Go right ahead . . .” and stopped, realizing that she had called him by name. Could he have misheard?  With a confused look he asked, “Do I know you?” He watched her closely, looking for clues, as she leaned back, surveying his table's view with approval. 

   “Heard you like to go fast.” she said, without preamble, looking toward the door, ignoring his question.

   “Huh? Where'd you hear that?” he asked, suspiciously.

   Just then, the barhop brought their drinks. His was the same but hers was something odd, with many swirling colors. He was getting confused, as he couldn't recall either of them actually ordering anything. She picked up her drink, and grinning at him, took a long swallow. When she set it down, she was looking away again.

   “Fast and dangerous. 'At's what I heard.”

   He was having trouble focusing. How could she know that? “Who are you?” he managed.

   “Maybe I'm some'un needin' a pilot.” She looked sideways at him, “Maybe a pilot who could go reeel fast.” and she turned away again, adding quietly, “Maybe a fast pilot who would take a few risks.”  

   She picked up her drink and took another long pull, nearly emptying her glass without looking at him. He took a sip of his drink, wondering if coffee might be a better choice. He was definitely feeling befuddled

   She slammed her glass onto the table. Standing, she leered at him, “So you let me know what you decide.” Laughing, she walked briskly out the front door. After staring at the door for a few moments, he decided coffee was not what he wanted. Finishing his drink, he picked up the new one.

   The following morning, feeling somewhat hung over, he wasn't at all sure whether the encounter had even happened. It now seemed like a bad dream, hazy, with no real-world meaning, or consequences. A few days later, he was padding around the house feeling restless. He considered going out to the bar, but he was beginning to realize that his drinking was getting out of hand. He'd put on the T.V., only to shut it off minutes later, unable to concentrate on the program. The thought of another evening just hanging out with no prospects filled him with dread. He glanced nervously at the door.

   Suddenly the T.V. came on by itself. He looked at it with consternation that turned to shocked dismay as the Crone appeared, glaring at him, “Rider! What are you waiting for? Do you want the job or not?” She gave him a sideways look, “Worried about the money?” She named a figure that made his eyes bug out. “So quit fooling around. A simple yes or no is all I ask.” and the T.V. shut off.

   He stared at the dark screen for a moment, then, with a slight shake of his head, whispered, “Yes.”    

   “Now that's more like it.” said the Crone, strolling into the room.

   He gaped, open mouthed, “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he said, putting his hands up, palms out. “How'd you . . .”

   “Calm down, honey, I got everything we need right here.” She patted a large leather bag at her side. “C'mon. I'll show you.” She gestured for him to follow as she headed out the back door. He watched her without moving for a few moments, then got up and followed her into the back yard, where she stood, in the middle grinning at him. He stepped outside the door and stopped, watching her warily.

   She took the bag that had been at her side, and holding it out, said, “Skidbladnir.” He gave her a questioning look. “Made by the Dwarves, eons ago.” She opened the top and a curious thing happened.   The bag started to unfold. And it continued to unfold, then unfolded some more, until there was a sizable ship, like a space ship, sitting in his yard. He approached it slowly with wide disbelieving eyes. A door opened on the side and the Crone stepped out. “There ya go, Rider.” She gestured into the craft, as if to invite him to enter. “This puppy is fast! Plus, you got to watch out for the Air Force and whatever else is looking for you.”

   He looked at her with wonder, and a dawning understanding. “You want me to pilot a UFO?”

   “Thas right, Rider! You want it?”

   He looked thoughtful, then smiled, “Yes. I'll take the job.”

Dear Windy 6

 June 20, 2018

Lillow Mi

 All the mysteries of the Universe, solved! By Windy! Plus, sound advice! Presented here, in living color and adapted to fit your screen, as Windigale Ossep once again wrings order from chaos, and meaning from madness, one letter at a time!

Remember: Windy knows LOTS of stuff. 

Dear Windy,

   I hung a sign outside my China shop window saying, “No Bulls Allowed,” and now I'm being sued by the ground beef industry. Is there anything you know that can minimize my damages?

     -Signed, China shop owner

Dear China,

   I was shocked to hear of this 'ground beef industry' that brings litigation! But when I asked Holly Cow, she said, “Don't worry, ground beef are just cows that don't fly.” I'm skeptical of this and fear a darker meaning. In any case, keeping the Bulls out is indeed a sound practice for China shops, and I concur, but perhaps you need to add, “or Ground Cows” to your signage. Keeping them out should minimize your damages.

 Dear Windy,

   I am a Dingbat. My mother is a Dingbat, and her mother was a Dingbat. I'm from a long line of Dingbats and, being maternal, we are immaculate, unburdened by knowledge of any sort. Recently, I realized I wanted to know something, but please, I must remain anonymous. Where do Dingbats come from?

     -Signed, Going Rogue

Dear Going,

   Dingbats just fall from the sky, like manna, or flying cabbages, or boomerangs. They're not something you expect, they just happen, and, I've heard, there's millions of them. Your species is certainly not in any danger of going extinct any time soon. Congratulations, Going! Well done!

Dear Windy,

   I like it when my wife uses big words I don't understand to describe me. Yesterday she said I was feckless. What she means, I think, is that I am so generous that I would give one if I had one, which I don't. Am I on the right track here?

     -Signed, Not too bright in California.

Dear Not,

   Absolutely, Not! You're spot on. And if you ever got one, I'm sure you'd immediately give it away! Bravo! The world can only benefit from less fecks, of this, I am sure. Oh, and listen to your wife.

Dear Windy,

  My dog Spot has developed a stripe. Inside the stripe is some writing that says, “For a good time call: 155-899 and ask for Snookums.” Well, there's a poodle down the street named Snookums who seems, shall we say, loose? Should I be worried for Spot?

     -Signed, Prudent parent

Dear Prude,

   Don't worry! Snookums puts that stencil on all her clients. Spot just needs a good bath and he'll be Spot again, good as new and ready for another night on the town!  

That's all for now. I'll be taking a vacation, likely a long vacation, but I'll gladly accept knew queries to file toward my return. Thanks for listening! Remember: Windy knows LOTS of stuff.

Dear Windy 5

2 Comments

May 15, 2018, Lillow Mi

Solving all the world's problems one question at a time, Windigale Ossep, will solve all your problems too, with just a simple card or letter. Write now, and you'll get real advice shoveled the old-fashioned way! Remember, Windy knows LOTS of stuff. 

Dear Windy,

My dad asked me to go into the crawl space under our house today. I saw things that wriggled, squirmed, skittered, skulked, slinked, scudded, slithered, and one thing that even scooched. But not one thing crawled. Is there something I'm missing?

     -Signed, Doubting the Crawl.

Dear Doubting,

As you crawled along you saw nothing crawling? Now that is mysterious! Perhaps you crawled into another dimension, like Lillow's dad. Don't worry, you'll probably come crawling back. Meanwhile you should petition for a name change. Maybe something like wriggle room, slinky place, or scooch under.

Dear Windy,

Why is the moon called the moon, when it doesn't even look like a butt?

     -Signed, Mooned again.Dear Mooned,

This was done by the ancients, intentionally, just to confuse you and others like you, affectionately known as the herd. Disregard these nomenclature abuses, we know what's right! A butt is a butt and a butt is a moon!   

Dear Windy,

So, is the moon actually a star, then?

     -Signed, Dazed by the light.

Dear Dazed,

Probably, since it's not a butt. Be cautious and never look at it without protection.

Dear Windy,

When I travel I like to go 'as the crow flies.' Despite the superiority of direct-line travel, there are problems, especially when I have to go through people's houses. How can I minimize these obstacles?

     -Signed, Straight arrow 

Dear Straight,

Well you're not really going 'as the crow flies', now are you? You're going 'as the crow would go if the crow couldn't fly.' And had no sense. See? You gotta fly, AS the crow flies. Now hit the air bub and quit your whining.

Dear Windy,

I have a Damfaster Sports Broom that is so fast that sometimes, at top speed, the bristles are faster than the stick, and it rotates around, putting the bristles in front. When this happens the broom immediately jets off in the opposite direction, leaving me to sail through the air unassisted, usually going a kilometer or more, before I land.  Is there a way to prevent this?

     -Signed, Flying free.

Dear Flying,

The Damfaster, being a smart broom, knows where you're going, even if you don't. Rubber bands are the answer. Get a BIG rubber band, attach it to the broom, and hang on tight!  

Dear Windy,

I recently moved to a new neighborhood. Last night I was relaxing, enjoying a smoke, when suddenly this wild-eyed Witch came crashing through my window. She claimed she'd been abandoned by her broom, and, with a curse, left. Is this normal?

     -Signed, Windows aren't cheap. 

Dear Windows,

While these things do happen, they cannot be called normal. Perhaps amazing, wondrous, or freakish, but certainly not normal. Thing is, other landings are available, but she chose your window, allowing you to witness a rare event, what the scientists call an anti-defenestration. I congratulate you on your good fortune!

Well, that's all for this time. Remember, Windy knows LOTS of stuff, plus she's beautiful, and wears stylish plumage. So, send your queries today, and you too can get fixed by Windy!      

The Pet

0 Comments

May 15, 2018  Lillow Mi

The meadow has taken on a lot of its summertime airs, while yet glorifying the pastels of spring. The day was hot for this early, a day wherein I imagined the famous flowers of May were grown. It was late in the day, that curious time between afternoon and dusk, and the air was almost sultry. I was reclining in the shade with an iced tea when Ishmael walked up and sat in the chair next to me.

“Hey, Lillow!”

“Hey, Ishmael.”

“So, you remember how you were telling me about pets? How in mythical Gresham the dominant species keeps other species as pets?”

“Mmm. Yeah. I remember. It's 'cause they can't talk. The pets, I mean. They can't talk, so they're subjugated.”   

“Yeah, that's it! But you remember you said something else?”

“Hmm. No, that was it. The gist of it anyway.”

“No, there was more. Wasn't it about how they'd adjusted? How they seemed to be a natural fit?”

“Oh yeah. That's right. I thought it was darn curious, actually. Like these guys are totally enslaved, yet they seem happy, ecstatic even!”

“Yep.”

“Why Ishmael, this is probably the greatest mystery of our time!”

“Well, Lillow . . .”

“You know, I've spent many hours pondering this very thing.”

“Uh-huh, that's why . . .”

“Ronk. Ronk. Ronk.”

“What was that?”

“Well I was hoping to introduce you under better circumstances,” and he gestured at the ground behind him, where sat a square thing with six legs, three on each side, a face attached to the front top, like a melon, that looked shockingly human, except     it had long, floppy ears and a gaping smile under a mop of unruly red hair. On the back of the square body, a, protuberance? that was waving back and forth rapidly.

“Ronk, meet Lillow. Lillow, Ronk.”

“Ronk. Ronk-ronk.”

“Ronk?” was all I could say.

“Yes, Lillow. Ronk.”

“What is it?”

“Oh. Well, that part is unclear.”

“You mean you don't know what it is?”

“Just look how cute it is!”

“What does it do?”

“Do? Why it doesn't do anything. It's a pet.”

“Huh? What do you mean it doesn't do anything?”

“Well, it loves you! Just look at how adorable it is!”

“It loves me?”

“You can teach it tricks, Lillow.”

“Really? What kind of tricks?”

“Watch this! Fetch!” and he threw a stick halfway across the meadow. The pet watched it, wagging its protuberance, then it sat down and smiled at Ishmael, who, smiling back, went bounding across the meadow where he grabbed the stick and came running back.

The thing stood up on its two back legs, and with a big grin, patted Ishmael on the head. Ishmael grinned back and dropped the stick. This didn't seem right to me.

“Watch this, Lillow! Ronk! Roll over!” and Ishmael fell to the ground and began rolling. He rolled over maybe four times. Then he sat up with a big smile, while Ronk scratched him behind his ears. “See how it does extra Lillow? Five rolls!”

“Looked like four to me.”

“Speak! Ronk! Speak!”

Ronk looked uncertain, then, with a pleased look it stood up, on its hind legs, “Thank you!” it said, “Thank you very much! I'm most pleased to be here!” It was waving its four upper legs around like arms, being expansive in its rhetoric. “When I was first invited to speak, oh, maybe a minute ago, I was unsure. Did I want to speak to this group? I mean, would you just look . . .”

“Thank you, Ronk.” said Ishmael with a scowl. “I'm sure we've all benefited greatly by your words.” and he walked away. I looked at Ronk, who looked back, and, with a shrug, also walked away. I sipped my iced tea.

 

The Visitor

2 Comments

Meadow-centric. That's what we are. For it is the meadow around which our lives revolve, specifically, the meadow at the heart of Gladstar Farm. Wide and green, abundant with flowers and copses of trees, it is peacefully abuzz with the currents of life. To be there is bliss, a haven, a safe place, where one can be, and aspire to what heights one will, as long as no one is harmed, of course. Sometimes, that's a difficult maxim to uphold. Harm is not always judged the same.

   Eldolph Sparkle was an Elf from far off Alfenheimr, who had come west seeking his fortune, having had none at home. He was burly, for an Elf, more like what you'd expect in a Dwarf, and could be contentious. As such, and in keeping with the ways of the Elves in Alfenheimr, he was dark red, so that any who saw him would understand his nature and be careful not to cross him. He arrived in the early spring, when the air was brisk, and the buds were new.

   Now, all of the Elves on the farm, with the exception of Brighter, are Forest Elves from Elvenstead, and they are thus a light green color, being masters of the flora. Elvenstead Elves are renowned in the ways of plants and the growing of them, so they tend to be green, usually a pale green with brown feet, to keep them from taking root. 

   Brighter, like Eldolph, was from Alfenheimr, and is a pale blue color, befitting her airy nature, and, being of the Ljossálfen, she could fly like a Fæirie. She watched, hidden in a thicket of trees in the meadow, with a sense of concern, as Eldolph made his way through the Glamoury wall. She'd not seen this color before, this ruddy red, like smoldering coals, and she was unsure what to make of it. She felt a slight unease, as she watched him enter the meadow, and approach Holly, who smiled and offered him tea. She was disconcerted when he sat down and began sipping the tea and chatting with Holly. He left, after a short time, and began walking toward the main drive and the Golly Orchard. She hurried down to where Holly stood, idly chewing some grass.

   “What'd that red guy want?” she demanded.

   “Well, hello Brighter.” said Holly, smiling at her. “Do you mean that Elf who was just here?”

   “Yes! That's the one! Oh gosh, Holly! Did you see his color?”

   “Well, yes, I did notice his color. A fine tawny I would say.” and she looked off, musing. “Perhaps a little to the red side, maybe ochre...”

   “He was red, like burning coals, is what I saw.” said Brighter, squinting towards the orchard with a worried expression.

   Holly looked at her with concern, “Oh dear. So, is that bad?”

   “Svartálfen.” she whispered.

   Holly was disconcerted. “What is that?”

   “Dark Elves. They are often red or dark brown.” she looked back at Holly, “They seek gold. Wealth and power, for they are creatures of darkness, and greed.” looking back toward the orchard, she murmured, “They hoard treasure.”

   Holly looked at her with wide, round eyes.

   “Sure to be trouble.” she finished, and walked away, leaving Holly totally bemused. A few minutes later Ishmael arrived.

   “Hey, Holly.” he said, sitting down. Holly, still round eyed, stared at him.

   After an uncomfortable moment he asked, “Holly?”

   She shook her head, then with a glance toward the orchard, “There's a renegade pirate on the farm!” Ishmael stood up, “What?”

   “You heard me. Trouble. Pirates!”

   “Pirates?”

   “That's what I heard.” said Holly, walking away and shaking her head.

   “Did I hear Pirates?” asked Lorna, walking up just then.

   “Yeah. You did. I just learned that a band of thieving pirates, with cannons and bombs, are attacking the farm.”

   Lorna looked around, “Really? When?”

   “I think it's going on right now.”

   “What's going on?” asked Windy, herself just arriving.

   “We heard the farm was under attack.” said Lorna with a dark look. Ishmael nodded agreement. “It seems a band of renegade wizards and warlocks are bombarding the perimeter.” and they both looked around.

   “Holy criminy!” said Windy, “We got to spread the word!” and she ran off in one direction, while Lorna, squawking loudly, ran off in the other. Ishmael stood a moment then ducked down, under the table, while Holly returned with fresh tea.

   “What're you doing down there?” she asked.

   “I think we're getting attacked by mythical Gresham's army, who're in cahoots with terrorists!”

   “Oh my gosh! I knew that swartle guy would be trouble!” and she ran to hide in her palatial estate. Soon there were hundreds of frightened fauna in the meadow. They quickly rallied, as various people spoke their fears, becoming angry and defiant. Then they marched toward the main gate, with makeshift banners and war-hoops, and they set up a defensive line. As they were working Brighter saw Eldolph, carrying a sandbag.

   “What're you doing here?” she demanded.

   “Huh? I'm helping defend my new home. I heard armies were coming.” and he glanced nervously toward the gate. Brighter just stood there gaping, so he shrugged, and continued on. She sat down and watched the frantic assembly with dispassionate eyes, while her insides quaked with new fears.

   By noon the next day everyone had calmed, and there was talk of a false alarm. No one could figure out who or what had started it, and by evening they were all back to their homes. Brighter never spoke of it and avoided Eldolph, who left for Elvenstead soon after. 

My New Job

1 Comments

I had been out of work for several months when I finally landed a job in the Defenestration Department at the Bigfast corporate headquarters, which is in my town. I had no idea what went on in the Defenestration Department, but I was darn glad to get a job.

   I reported to work bright and early on the following Monday at 8 a.m. sharp. The supervisor, Chuck Dalott, greeted me warmly, welcoming me to the team. He introduced me to the other new hires, Jimmy Klufree and Clarence Dunnoe, who were filling out forms. He gave me some forms and led us to a room in the back for training, where he introduced us to the instructor, Flash Tosser, a burly and energetic man who grinned at us in an odd way. Mr. Dalott left, and Flash took over. He gave us an invigorating pep talk, then had us do some physical exercises.

   After a short break he led us to another room with a large square wooden frame set up about a meter above the floor. I looked at it with curiosity, as did Jimmy and Clarence. Apparently, none of us knew what the job entailed.

   Mr. Tosser told me to stand in front of the square frame, then he instructed Jimmy and Clarence to watch closely, as two workers entered the room and stood on either side of me. Then they each hooked one hand onto my belt in back, and with the other they clutched my elbows. Mr. Tosser did a quick, one, two three, and I was airborne! Those two workers chucked me right through that square! I was shocked, and sat up from where I'd landed on the floor.

   “This is the way it's always been done.” said Mr. Tosser, with a stern look. “I expect you to follow this exact procedure with every client who walks through our door. Now go ahead and practice with each other for the rest of the day. Tomorrow you start with real clients. Good luck!”

   We practiced diligently for the remainder of the day, and when we started the next morning, we began throwing confused and angry clients through actual windows! I found it to be exciting and fulfilling work, and today I am proud to be the head of the Bigfast Defenestration Department.

  

Unanimals

1 Comments

The meadow is the center of our universe. It is from here that all blessings flow, so to speak. I have met many strange creatures in the meadow, but it was away from the meadow, in Elvenstead, where I met the strangest creature of all. I had gone with the family to Elvenstead, right after the Drumf was deposed, for King Overwood's coronation, and while there, Ishmael and I made a trip up to the Blue Valley, which is a couple kilometers north of Elvenstead, in the Bigrok Mountains.  There we met the Unanimals.

   Unanimals are creatures like Sasquatches, only much smaller. They're either a kind of bear or a furry fish, stand about a meter tall, and are covered top to bottom in a light blue fur. They're only found in the Blue Valley, and then only if they want to be found. The Blue Valley is snow covered in the winter and offers a marvelous sliding hill, while in the summer it's a beautiful blue-water lake, which is where it is believed the Unanimals live in the summer, like fish, underwater. Their winter habitat is still a complete mystery, maybe a cave somewhere, no one knows, and the Unanimals keep it that way. They run a sliding business in the winter and a boat excursion business in the summer. Blue Valley Sliding to Blue Valley Boating. The sliding business was going when we got there, and the hill looked good, snow covered and icy, even though it was late in the season. But I could see a small thaw-water lake already forming in the lower valley.   

   Here's the curious thing about Unanimals. They always agree. No matter what, they agree. Don't even bother asking, because the answer is yes. They are the number one choice of C.E.O.'s and president's everywhere, for all appointed positions and board memberships, which is amazing, considering there aren't any Unanimals, none at all, outside the Blue Valley. Several corporations and countries hold board and cabinet meetings here, packed with smiling and eminently agreeable Unanimals.  They get things done. Due to zoning restrictions there are no buildings or structures of any sort, and since no one knows where the Unanimals actually live, the meetings are held in tents, and summers along the Blue Valley shorelines are colorful and lively. People put up banners and flags atop multi-colored tents, and there is an air of carnival and celebration. But the law is clear; there must be no sign of the tents ever having been there in the fall, which meant they had to be moved somewhat regularly, so that the grass underneath wouldn't die. 

   We got to know a couple Unanimals during our visit. Dee Vergent, a Unanimal, ran several waggels on the Blue Valley franchise, and he took us on a few trips up the sliding hill. Waggels are magical crafts that are spelled by their drivers to carry passengers and freight and are common in Elvenstead. Seemed like every time we slid to the bottom of that hill, there he was, waiting to take us up again.

   “That was a good slide, Dee!”

   “Yes, it was! The best I ever saw! Yes indeed!” he'd say. Since he said this every time we just smiled, and nodded agreement.

   It was the Unanimal, Smart Cookie, who invited us to a board meeting. She told us not to use her first name, as it often seemed satirical somehow, and that Ms. Cookie was just too formal.

   “. . . so please, just call me Cookie!” she finished.

   “Hi Cookie! I'm Lillow and this is my friend Ishmael.”

   “Pleezameetcha! Would you like to go to a corporate board meeting, as my guests?” We both gaped, round-eyed, unable to respond.

   “I'm the secretary of the BigFast Corporation's board of directors. Big stuff. Important, you know? You wanna come and watch?”

   I looked at Ishmael, who shrugged, “Sure, why not?”

   “Yeah, we'd love to go.” I said, my curiosity piqued, “Is it near?”

   “Just over there.” and she gestured at a brightly colored tent that was erected on a wooden platform, with the growing thaw-lake close behind.  “C'mon. The melts getting close, we gotta hustle.”  and, with a concerned look at the sun, she scurried off, with us hurrying behind.

   Inside the tent was a large table, with the corporate logo of the BigFast Corporation in the center. There were nine other Unanimals seated around the table. Cookie showed us to the audience chairs, then took a seat at the table. There were some Elves and a couple Fæiries sitting with us, watching. I think a couple of them were reporters. Soon an important looking Human came in, with another equally pretentious Human, and they both took seats at the head of the table.

   The first picked up a gavel, and with one solid thump, began the meeting. “This meeting of the BigFast Corporate Board is called to order. All in favor of dispensing with all preliminaries and getting right to the heart of the meeting, say aye.” there was a thunderous roar of “Ayes” from every Unanimal at the table. The Unanimals were unanimous! The second Human wrote in a notebook. I could hear the water from the thaw-lake lapping against the wooden platform.

   “Motion passed. So, we're here to vote on an important matter.” he looked sternly at the smiling Unanimals, “That is, should all BigFast executives get a big raise, and a massive bonus? All in favor say aye, all opposed say...” he was unable to finish, as there was another huge, thunderous roar of ayes, many saying aye two or three times. There was another thump of the gavel, and then silence.

   “The ayes have it. The motion is carried.” he paused as his companion wrote quickly in the notebook, then he thumped the gavel again, “Meeting adjourned. As usual, my warmest thanks to all you guys!” and he gestured at the Unanimals at the table, “Your checks are in the mail. Now I must hurry and inform the paymaster.” and with that, he and his silent companion hurried out. We quickly followed, as the wooden platform was starting to bob in the water. Then a group of Elves pulled up, and began tearing the tent down, and hauling the furniture out.

   Since it was late, we decided to head back. It had been a marvelous and informative trip! We thanked Cookie and Dee for a wonderful time and caught the Bilskirn Waggel, back to Elvenstead.   

Dear Windy: Four

March 9, 2018  Lillow Mi

Dear Windy

 

   Is the world confusing? Are you troubled by the things you see and hear? Is your life a mess? Are you angry because you don't know what you're doing? Don't worry! Ask Windy! She knows what you're doing. She knows a LOT of stuff. Write Windy and all your troubles will be over!

 

Dear Windy,

   Every time there's a full moon my hair and nails grow, and I end up on our roof, howling at the moon. The howling is intense. Can you recommend a good throat balm? Perhaps a tea or a gargle?

     -Signed, Sore throat morning.

Dear Sore,

   Why, yes I can. It's mosquitoes! Crunch 'em up and make a smoothie. All the birds swear by them. Eat as many as you can, all summer long. In fact, you can start in my back yard. Happy howling!

 

Dear Windy,

   I recently ran for the Senate. It was a long, yet marvelous, race! Since I didn't see any other runners, I figured I'd won. But when I got there, they turned me away, with some nonsense about voters and ballets. Is the government collapsing?

     -Signed, Fast winner.

Dear Fast,

   Sure sounds like it. No other runners, huh? Must mean we've all lost faith, and the end is near. But it does seem like Senators are always the last to know, so in a curious way, you probably did win. Congratulations!     

 

Dear Windy,

   I like to stand in the town square. Been doing it for years. Recently I discovered that I'd taken root, and couldn't move. Is this bad?

     -Signed, Standing firm

Dear Standing,

   Not at all! Why, by taking root, you've become a pillar of the community, a handy place to post notes, and a shady place in the summer. You should be proud! Everyone will look up to you.

 

Dear Windy,

   Last week I was abducted by aliens, and they did a brain transplant upgrade, along with changing all my parts for superior robot parts. Should I ask for a raise?

     -Signed, Wait, who was I again?

Dear Wait,

   Your name says it all. Wait. If you ask now, they might refuse to oil you, and you've heard of the Tin Man, right? Try not to be too brilliant, and give them time to adjust. Oh, and you were Joe, the carpet guy

 

Dear Windy,

   My cousins are twins. But one says they are 74 years old, while the other twin says they are 39 years old. Who do I believe?

     -Signed, Confused

Dear Confused,

   Clearly they are both right. This is a classic example of time's marvelous, and rightfully famous, relativity, wherein 5 minutes waiting for a treat is quite different than 5 minutes with a treat. And that's just the start! Why, Lillow is 85, or 23, or even just a few years old, depending on her effect, and they're all correct!

 

Dear Windy,

   I have been indeterminate for most of my life, which status I am determined to maintain. Could I have slipped into determinacy?

     -Signed, Pending

Dear Pen,

   In as much as I was unable to determine your answer, I sought further expert advice, who were themselves unable to determine, so no, you probably haven't. Pretty sure. It's indeterminate. 

 

.Dear Windy,

   I recently found the famous 'Stairway to Heaven.' But when I climbed the stairs, I found myself in the upper parking lot. Is that heaven?

     -Signed, Confused in space 47K

Dear Confused,

   It should be, given the stairway and all, but really, it doesn't sound like it, so I'm gonna say no. Unless you're a car.

 That's all for now! Remember, Windy knows a LOT of stuff!

Dear Windy: Three

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February 14, 2018, Lillow Mi

Well now, this is exciting! Windy here, returning with my third column, wherein I offer sage advice and lofty ideals, tempered by my awesome natural humility. I believe that what I believe is my heartfelt belief, and I have built my empire on this belief! Pretty sure.

In any case, here it is! My third column: 

Dear Windy,

 I keep dinosaurs in my yard. They're marvelous pets! Anyway, sometimes people get too close and they get eaten. Is this bad?

 Signed, Good neighbor

Dear Good,

No, this is normal. Don't let them have too many though, as tourists tend to be high in fat and sugar while being low in vitamins.

 

Dear Windy,

Them hifaluten what'cha macall'ems at the thingamabob really tick me off! What can I do?

 Signed, Calling them out!

Dear Calling,

I have found that a good hoozat', followed quickly by a well placed cockadoodle, is usually enough to subdue them what'cha macall'ems. Jiggle the thingy. That helps.

 

Dear Windy,

 Sometimes, when I'm walking or flying my broom, I'll hear a high-pitched whistle, and I think it's beautiful. But I can only hear it when I look to one side, or the other. Why is that?

Signed, Music lover

Dear Music,

That lovely whistling is just the wind blowing through your ears. In one and out the other! I, too, love the whistling as the wind passes through. You'll find that marvelous arrangements can be made by tilting your head back and forth. On a windy day people nearby can hear the whistles! It is truly beautiful!

 

Dear Windy,

My husband and I went out last night, and we decided to have a cup of Ishmael's Wonder-Punch. I awoke this morning in the back of a hay wagon, and in my surprise, I fell off. And there, standing on the corner, was my husband, in his underwear, wearing a lamp shade for a hat. Did we have fun?

Signed, Conservative wife

Dear Con,

Did you have fun? I'll say! Woohoo! I've never seen anything like it! But don't take my word for it, you'll be able to watch the entire sordid affair on the evening news tonight at six. So far, no one's identified you, so just lay low for a while and you'll be fine. The whipped cream was brilliant! I salute you!

 

Dear Windy,

I walk to town most days, and I always take the same road, except last time, when I took the road less traveled. Instead of the usual 45-minute trip, it took two and half days! Then it turned out I was in the wrong town. Now I can't find my town at all. Do you know where it's at?

Signed, Lost walker    

Dear Lost,

The best thing you can do in this situation is find someone who looks like they know where they're going and follow them. Be sure to pack a lunch and wear a warm sweater. I'm sure you'll be home soon!

So that's all for now. Keep those letters coming, and remember; Windy knows a LOT of stuff!

 

 

Dear Windy: Two

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Jan. 28, 2018

Lillow Mi

Windigale Ossep here, and I've answered another batch of queries. A quiet time on Gladstar Farm, we are in the mid-winter doldrums. And speaking of winter;

 

Dear Windy,

   I've always loved the winter! To me, a frozen landscape is very endearing. Sometimes I freeze solid, and when I do, I usually need help to thaw out. Do you know anyone who does this kind of work?

     -Signed, Frozen again.

Dear Frozen,

   Basically, all you need is someone with a hand truck, who can wheel you to a warm place. I'll check around, see if I can find somebody.

 

Dear Windy,

   I have been to mythical Gresham, and everything seemed real. Am I okay?

     -Signed, Challenged by reality.

Dear Challenged,

   No, you're not okay. When the mythical world starts to look real, you've got trouble. And that starts with T and it rhymes with C and that spells Cah-razy!  C-R-A-Z-Y, you're crazy!  But don't worry! If you can get certified, there are many career options available. Unfortunately, you'd have to stay in the mythical world, but you seem okay there.

 

Dear Windy,

   What is the light pulsating on the side of my head?

     -Signed, Confused, and maybe worried.

Dear Confused,

   It's because you've unknowingly joined that elite corps of emergency beacons, known as the Standby's, who are, well, standing by. Good luck sir or madam, I salute you!

 

Dear Windy,

   Recently the Flying Monkeys raided my place and took my Dad. What can I do?

     -Signed, Am I the boss now?

Dear Am I,

   In order to stop Flying Monkey attacks, you need to call 972-75-55 and get on the 'do not attack' list. Meanwhile, you should wait a few days, as they usually return these types of things. If your dad doesn't show up, you're the boss. Do you have a hand truck?

 

Dear Windy,

   I went out for a walk the other day and there was a bucket in the trail, so I kicked it. Does this mean I'm dead?

     -Signed, Feeling light headed.

Dear Light,

   Yes, you're dead. Keep your eyes open for the handbasket that'll carry you to the next stop.

 

That's all for this time. Keep those letters coming! Remember, Windy knows a LOT of stuff.

Curious Darnalong Facts

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January 16, 2018

Lillow Mi

The Darnalongs are an odd breed of bird that are infamous for bringing bad news. Usually, when you see a Darnalong coming at you, you know bad news is nigh. And if you see a group of Darnalongs, called a murder, you knew the news would be horrific. My friend, Windigale Ossep, is a Darnalong.

   I'd always wondered how Windigale was able to wear a large orange feather straight up from the top of her head. I don't think that a feather growing up out of one's head, like a banner, is normal for Darnalongs, or for anybody, for that matter, as I'd seen other Darnalongs without the feather. But, now that I think about it, they did seem to have other things sticking out of the tops of their heads, usually.

   We were in the meadow, enjoying tea, on an unusually nice day, for winter. We were in sunlight, and there was no wind blowing, and we luxuriated. I could see Windigale walking down the path towards us. I turned to Holly Cow.

   “How do you think Windy keeps that feather on top of her head?”

   “Hmmm,” she said, watching Windy approach, “You know, I haven't thought much about it, but it is peculiar, now you mention it.”

   “It's like it's jammed into her head.” said Ishmael, who was sitting by Holly.

   “I've seen birds with crests on top of their heads,” said Lorna Loon, on my other side, “but I've never seen birds with feathers sticking up from the middle of their heads before.”

   We remained silent as Windy approached. Her body feathers were bright purple, and her wings were scarlet red, with blue tips. All the Darnalongs had a curious fashion sense. I'd always thought they dyed their feathers those outlandish color combinations, but sometimes I had to wonder. Even though they were all different, could that be their natural coloring?

   “Hey everybody!” Windy called out when she reached us. “Ain't it a grand day? Not a bit shoddy, is what I say!'

   And talking in rhyme. I've heard other Darnalongs do this, and I'd thought it a curious affectation, but, listening to Windy's casual chatter, I wondered.

   “I loved your column last week.” I said, after she sat down. Windy had started an advice column, and so far, it was a hit.

   “Me too.” said Holly, handing her a cup of tea.

   “Thanks!” she chirped, “I had fun doing it, and quite a lot of people have seen fit to tell me so. I've gotten more mail, so perhaps I will give it another go.”

   That can't be natural I thought, as Holly gushed, “Oh, I'm so glad! I can't wait to read it!”

   There were a few moments of silence, then, with my curiosity totally piqued, I said, “Gosh Windy, I've always loved that orange feather on your head. The way you wear it is stunning!”

   “Thanks, Lillow!” she said, grinning widely, with bright red lips painted on the end of her beak. But as I watched her smiling, I began to wonder at this too. Because they seemed like natural lips. On the tip of her beak.

   “So, I was wondering, you know, I hope you don't mind, but really, how do you keep it there?” I pointed to the feather, “Straight up from the top of your head?”

   She looked at me like she was pleasantly surprised. “Why Lillow, I put it into the hole that's on top of my head. Look.” and she turned her head and pointed at a round hole on the side, that I had always assumed was an ear. I looked, and she could see my perplexity.

   “Closer! Get up close and look inside.”

   So, I got up and went over and peered into her ear. Only it wasn't an ear. Not like you'd think anyway. It was an opening into a large space that was dimly lit. As I looked closer, I could make out a thin, perpendicular shaft, and I realized it was the shaft of the feather. I was shocked and took a step back.

   “Ain't it grand?” she sang, her eyes sparkling through her bright red cat-eyed glasses, “My head's a darn fine stand, holds the feather real tight, and it's a glorious sight!” Now she was standing on her chair, waving her head feather back and forth, chanting, “It's a damn fine sight, holds the feather real tight! Woohoo! It's grand, it's grand it's a damn fine stand! Holds the feather just right and holds it tight!”

   I could see that the feather was staying firmly in place, despite all her antics. All I could do was sit down and gape, somewhat flabbergasted. It would seem, that when you get an answer to one Darnalong mystery, it creates a dozen more. I decided I didn't really want to know about all the other odd colored feathers that adorned her body. Not today, anyway.

Dear Windy

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Lillow Mi

The denizens of Gladstar Farm have always taken a keen interest in the news, especially the local news, which is not dominated by monsters. But what we like best is hearing about each other. I am loath to call this gossip, as are others. Toward this end, Windigale Ossep has started an advice column, called, 'Dear Windy.'

Dear Windy,

We have been having problems with frogs from the Swamp of Doom. They come around acting just like people we've known. It's totally embarrassing. I mean frogs, right?

Signed, Tired of frogs that whine.

Dear Tired,

Well, they act like people because they were people until Silvia turned them into frogs. Be careful around that swamp, you knucklehead.

Dear Windy,

My boyfriend pulls the blankets over at night, and sometimes he takes them all. While he's asleep, I mean, he even gets the sheets, top and bottom, plus the pillow case, and my pajamas. I awaken naked on the mattress, while he snores, completely wrapped in the bedding. What can I do?

Signed, Naked and cold

Dear Naked,

It sounds like your boyfriend might be a Sasquatch. You can have him tested by the Witches. If he's Sasquatch, then I suggest you keep extra blankets handy. Otherwise, just grab the blankets and pull, until he's spinning like a top.

Dear Windy,

Every time I fly my broom, it stalls when I get up to 10 kilometers high, and I plummet to the earth. How can I make this stop?

Signed, Flattened too often.

Dear Flattened,

Are you flying an old Mjolnir Besom? One of the 100 series, I'm thinking. Wait. Is this Oxxy? Oxxy Moran? Honey, you know I told you long ago to trade that old wreck in! No one should be flying such antiquated brooms, really, no one. Now you get your stubborn butt over to Joe's Carpet and Broom! Have I got a deal for you!

Dear Windy,

I have noticed a lot of small rainbows floating across the farm. I think they look cool, but they have an unusual smell, not very pleasant, you know? Are they dangerous?

Signed, Holding my Nose.

Dear Holding,

Those are just Goodable farts, from the Goodable Herd in the upper meadow. They're caused by some negative energy or event, like someone falling 10 kilometers, or waking up naked. That sort of thing. Upsets the Goodables and they fart. What you need to remember is that they only smell when they're popped, so just stay away when they start popping.

In Golden Glow

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High in the mountains, high where nobody could get to, was a place we called the Palace of Golden Glow. Everyone knew it had to be a great palace, even though no one had ever actually seen it or been there. But we could see, in the evening as the sun set, something wonderful, glowing and golden. We all knew there must be a great monarch ruling up there in Golden Glow, and that he had untold riches. We imagined a prosperous village below the palace, and figured they had everything they needed, and more! We hoped.

   We ourselves were fairly prosperous, not rich by any means, but we'd gotten along okay. There was a nice river that ran through our valley, flooding every spring so that our crops were rich and abundant, and we'd been content. Still, we'd wondered about the Palace of Golden Glow. There were lots of wild ideas, like maybe there were gods or angels living there. Or perhaps enlightened monks. And all this glory created the Golden Glow. I remember hearing one guy claim there were aliens from another world, and that the Golden Glow was a spaceship. But you know, everyone knew spaceships were silver, so that idea didn't last long.

   Anyway, I wasn't surprised when the First Church of the Golden Glow opened its doors down the lane. I'd learned of it when there was tapping at my door, and a couple of enthusiastic young women in bonnets and blazing eyes confronted me with, “Do you have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Golden Glow?” 

   “Huh? Howzat?” I muttered.

   “Golden Glow?” one repeated.

   “Our Lord and Savior?” said the other, “Have you been saved?” she continued, looking at me with concern.

   “Huh? Saved? What'ya mean? Saved from what?” For some reason, I was beginning to get upset.

   “Saved from death! You can live forever in Golden Glow! Just accept the Glow into your heart!” I backed up a step, and they seemed to move forward.

   “Nothing lives forever.” I growled. I hadn't thought much about it, but I didn't think I wanted to live forever.

   “But do you know where you're going when you die?” asked the first.

   “What? No. Of course not. Nobody does.”

   “We know,” and they both beamed charming smiles. I just looked at them, silent.

   “Because we've both accepted our Lord Golden Glow into our hearts, we're going to live in Golden Bliss forever! After we die!”

   I smiled at them, “Well, golly, that sure is swell. I wish you both the best of luck!” and backed up and quickly shut the door. Holy crap! What was that all about? They continued tapping for a few moments.   I could hear one calling, “Ma'am? We've got more good news! Ma'am?” I went into my kitchen and started some water boiling and began peeling some potatoes. When I came out later they were gone. 

   Soon, competing churches appeared, churches like, “The Holy Church Of Pure Glow” or “The First Church of the Revised Golden Glow” or the latest, “The Protestant Glowers.” 

   When the Glow Wars began, I remained neutral, a position that was, at times, difficult. We could hear when the militias clashed, and there seemed to be wounded soldiers everywhere. It was horrible to watch, and caused great fear amongst the people.

   This morning was a rare time of quiet, and remained so throughout the day. We had a lull in the fighting, and there existed a semblance of peace. I was sitting on my back porch, enjoying the calm as the sun set. Soon Golden Glow would begin, and worship in dozens of forms would ensue throughout the valley. I gazed at the spot, and the Glow began. Suddenly, something happened that had never happened before, ever. The Glow rose up, and looking like two solid gold saucers welded together, darted off at an incredible speed into space! Gosh! Well, what'ya know? Turned out it was a spaceship after all.

 

A Taradiddle: Red Flower Power

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Lillow Mi

Jack Ass had always worked hard at keeping the meadow looking trim and neat. His method, known as the 'nip, chew, swallow,' technique had been a long-standing family tradition. Many generations of Asses have devoted themselves to the practice, becoming renowned meadow keepers, always in demand. We were lucky to have Jack, especially since he's also a famous grass sculptor. His portrait of Lorna Loon in the upper meadow last spring was spectacular and drew fauna from far and wide. And on top of all this astonishing talent, he can sing! He's a superb bass whose basso rumble thrills and amazes. He and Ishmael are the backbone of Piffle, the Farm's premier singing group. Truly an astounding Ass!

   I happened upon Jack working his trade in the upper meadow the other morning, on my way to check the Goodable herd. 

   “Hey Jack! How're you doing?”

   “Hey Lillow, I'm fine, just fine. Heard you and Lorna crowing this morning. Sounded really good!”

   “Thanks, Jack. We put in some new stuff.”

   “Yeah, I noticed! It was marvelous!”

   “You've got this meadow looking good.” I said, admiring the trim edges and the artfully cultivated flower arrangements.

   “Thank you!” he said, puffing with pride. Then I saw, off to the side, almost in the forest, a big band of flowers that seemed...  unruly.

   “What's with those guys?” I said, pointing to the flowers.

   “Don't go over there Lillow. They're renegades.”

   “Huh? What do you mean renegades? C'mon Jack, they're just flowers.” I began walking toward the patch. I heard Jack's sudden intake of breath, and saw the flowers all turn to face me. I'd never seen that in flowers before, so I stopped.

    “What's going on Jack? When'd these flowers start doing that?”

   “Couple of days ago, when I first noticed. And Lillow,” I looked back at him, where he stood, not having moved a centimeter toward the flowers. “they protect themselves.”

   “That's crazy Jack!” I said, looking back at the flowers. They were all bright red and were all looking right at me. Even without eyes I knew they were looking at me. And when I moved to the right or left, they moved, keeping their uncanny gaze on me. And what did he mean, they protect themselves? I moved closer to the flowers and they began quivering, with a low hissing sound. I reached down to pick one and felt a sting on my fingers, and jerked my hand back. “Yikes!” I looked at my hand and the fingertip was bleeding. I took a step back. “Wow. I've never seen flowers like that before.”

   “They're new.” said Jack, still at a distance.

   I saw a butterfly fluttering by and suddenly a long tendril flashed out of the renegade flowers and snapped the butterfly, right out of the air. I took a couple more steps back, gaping in amazement and a dawning sense of horror.

   “These flowers are carnivores Jack!” I said, looking back at Jack, who had himself taken a few steps back.

   “They got a taste for blood Lillow.” he said, quietly. 

   I saw the Goodable herd off in the distance, and I could tell they were intent on what was happening here. I walked back to Jack.

   “Do you think they're dangerous?” I whispered, like I thought the flowers might be listening. I glanced back at them, surreptitiously, and was unsurprised to see that they were watching us.

   “I wouldn't go near them.” he whispered calmly. “Seems like they're okay so long as you don't get near them.” He took another bite of grass and chewing slowly he added, “I sure wouldn't try to pick one or eat any of them.” I could only agree. 

   I told the Witches about this development and they advised me to watch the flowers but take no action. Jack and I began meeting every day in the upper meadow to do just that. Several days passed with nothing happening. We watched as they snatched flies and butterflies out of the air, but avoided Fæiries.  Then one morning we arrived and I heard a strange noise. Like a tiny voice. I walked over, closer to the flowers, while Jack kept a distance. When I was fairly close, I could understand the voice.

   “Lillow? Can you hear me?”

   “Uh, yes. Yes, I can.” Gosh, they've learned how to talk!

   “Lillow, we've decided to accept your unconditional surrender and have magnanimously agreed to allow you and your friends to continue living as you have, on the farm.”

   “Gosh thanks!” I said, I was always on the side of peace.

   “Further, the Farm is henceforth to be known as Red Flower Farm, and everyone must bow down to the king of flowers, Donald J. Flower.” I noticed a big orange flower towering over the red flowers and somehow, I knew that it was Donald J. Flower.

   “I'm sure we can live in peace.” was all I could think to say.

   The voice continued. “Every day someone must come and tell Donald J Flower how great he is and that he's smart.”

   “Gosh. Well okay.” The price of peace seemed high, but we acquiesced. It wasn't much, really, when you thought about how swell peace was. All the rest of that Fall either Jack or myself would go up there and tell Donald J Flower how great and smart he was.

   That winter was harsh and when spring came, none of the red flowers had survived. I felt kind of sad, as I had come to like them, in an odd sort of way, but I was glad we didn't have to lie to Donald J Flower anymore.

Leaving Melkbah

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Lillow Mi

After checking her schedule, she boarded the bus to Toscogie. When I get to Toscogie I'll have a half hour until the bus to Melkbah, then it’s a good four-hour ride to Krikin, and I'll be able to get a nap on the bus, she thought, sure be good to get home. She settled back to enjoy the ride,and was soon in Toscogie. The terminal benches were all full, so she sat her bag next to the wall and, with a sigh, sat on it. It's actually pretty comfortable, she thought leaning back. She glanced at the clock on the wall. Twenty-five minutes more. Gosh, this is going to be a long twenty-five minutes, she thought, closing her eyes. She must have dozed as suddenly she heard a loud voice announce, “Dragon to Krikin, boarding at gate nine.” Gosh, that almost sounded like Dragon, she thought as she joined the line at gate nine, and smiled. Shows how tired I am. She handed her ticket to the ticket taker, who, she could swear, was an ape! Hairiest man I ever saw, she thought, as she walked to the door leading to the bus parking area.

   When she opened the door and stepped through, she was shocked speechless and stopped dead in her tracks, so that a lady, walking behind her, almost bumped into her. Because there, in the bus parking spot, sat a Dragon. A real dragon, huge, with a platform strapped to its back holding several rows of seats. There was a ladder leading to the seats and she watched, dumbfounded, as the lady who had just passed her, put her bag in a large basket by the Dragon and climbed up the ladder. She walked slowly  toward the basket and looked in. There were half a dozen suit cases there already, but still she just stared, unable to actually accept what was happening. Then a man passed her, and giving her an angry look, tossed his bag in the basket, then looked at her.

   “So, you boarding or you just gonna stand there gawking?” and he gestured at the ladder, as if saying 'ladies first.' She set her bag in the basket, without really thinking about it, and with a stunned look, she began climbing the ladder. At the top she stopped again, and the man brushed by her with a scathing look and sat down, buckling his seat belt.

   “First time flying Dragon?” said a friendly voice behind her. She turned around and received a further shock at seeing a Fæirie girl smiling at her.

   “I, uh, you're a . . . oh, a Dragon, I'm oh . . . uh”

   “I'll take that as a yes. Well, there's nothing to worry about! It's the safest and fastest way to travel! Very modern, you'll love it!” and she ushered her into the seat by the angry man. He was reading a magazine and ignored her. Making sure she was safely buckled in, the Fæirie girl went back to welcoming passengers. After a few more boarded she walked down the aisle checking that everyone was secure then sat on a seat at the very front, with another seat right next to it. Then the ticket taker walked out and climbed on board. He was a monkey, she thought, shocked even more. She gaped as he grabbed a rope and hoisted the basket with the bags up, then tied them on with a net over the bags, to hold them in. Then he strolled nonchalantly down the aisle and sat down next to the Fæirie girl up front.

   She smiled at him, turned and called out to the Dragon, “Okay Meshach! All set! Let's go to Krikin!” and with a lurch, they were airborne. At first she was terrified, but then, as they began cruising easily through the clouds, she relaxed and then she was astounded. The astonishing beauty of the skies while gliding on, yes, while gliding on Dragon back was unbelievable. She was exhilarated! This is amazing, she thought, thrilling to the easy flapping of the great wings and the silent countryside speeding by below. Soon, too soon, she thought, they were circling, then landing at the Krikin bus terminal.

   As she got off, the Fæirie girl thanked her for flying Dragon

   “Oh my heavens that was the most amazing experience! Thank you, thank you” she gushed. She retrieved her bag from the basket that the monkey had lowered and entered the bus station, full of joy.

   Next week, when the weekend started she decided it would be huge fun to take the Dragon back to Melkbah. She could go up beyond Toscogie and visit her aunt again, or she had some friends in Melkbah she could visit, well whatever, she thought, I just wanna go fly Dragon again!

   She packed her bag and returned to the bus station. Going to the ticket counter she said, “I'd like a round trip ticket to Melkbah. I'd like to go by Dragon, please.”

   The ticket taker, an ordinary looking man this time, gave her an angry look, “Whadya mean Dragon? This some kinda joke?”

   She was startled. “Uh, no. I flew in last week on a Dragon. I'd like to do it again.”

   “Get out!” he snapped. “I don't have to take this crap from anybody! Get out with your dratted Dragon nonsense!” and he pointed angrily at the door.

   “What's going on Frank?” said another clerk, walking over.

   “Oh this lady is having a prank, only I'm not taking it!” The new clerk looked at her questioningly.

   “I just wanted a ticket to Melkbah.” she said.

   He raised his eyebrows and looked back, curiously at the first clerk. “Of course! No problem, right Frank?”

   “She wants to go by Dragon.”

   “That's right,” she said eagerly, “like I did last week.”

   Now the second clerk was giving her a curious look. “Did you say Dragon?”

   “Uh-huh.” she answered, starting to feel that something wasn't right.

   “Okay, you've had your fun.” the second clerk growled, “Now why don't you just go home, before someone gets really mad. We're pretty busy here you know!” and she could hear people grumbling in line behind her.

  She stepped out of the way, “I, uh, I did fly in on a...”

  “Yeah, I'm sure,” said the first clerk, then, to the next person in line, a friendly, “May I help you?” pointedly ignoring her. She picked up her bag and left the station. Then she walked around the side and looked at the bus parking, but all she could see was a row of buses, ordinary buses, taking on passengers. All of a sudden, the idea of flying on a Dragon seemed absurd, and, embarrassed, she returned home, and never mentioned the incident again. But she'll always remember, with great joy and appreciation, that time she flew on a Dragon.

A Taradiddle: Windigale's Damfaster

Lillow

We were traveling the starlight bridge, floating serenely as a rule, but bouncing like yo-yos when the icy asteroids or fiery meteors came flashing by. I was fairly new to flying carpets, and we were really putting this one through the paces. I noticed that our carpet had several sizable holes in it from the meteor shower we'd just gone through. I find the showers to be refreshing, even electrifying, but they are hard on carpets. I remembered that Joe's Carpet Repair was on a nearby planet and I headed that way. I knew Joe from way back, when he and Ishmael and I used to hang out together. Even then he was a carpet guy. I notice Ishmael is dangling his legs through two of the holes and I have to laugh. Ishytoo is holding tight and looking straight ahead. I think that he's a little afraid of carpet flying, and when we arrive I make an extra smooth landing.

   We strolled into the shop but Joe wasn't there. Instead, behind the counter and smiling brightly at me, stood Windigale Ossep, Darnalong, and bringer of bad news. I was shocked to my core, and stopped so suddenly that Ishmael bumped into me and Ishytoo bumped into him. Then we all three stood gaping, too shocked to speak.

   “Well, Lillow!” Windigale chirped, “So nice to see you!” and she jumped onto the countertop then down to the floor, and began strolling toward us. We instinctively backed up.

   “Wonderful news, Lillow!” she continued, ignoring Ishmael and Ishytoo, who were standing beside me. “I'm running the shop now!” and she began dancing and twirling, chanting “I'm de boss! I'm de boss!”

   “So what happened to Joe?” barked Ishmael. He didn't particularly like Windigale, and stood scowling. She stopped twirling and looked at him, as if just now seeing him, as if just now realizing that there was something unpleasant nearby.

   “Why Ishmael!” she said, with an indignant look, “I am shocked at your insinuations!”   

   Ishmael looked surprised, “Insinuations?”

   “Why to think that I, blessed I, a high ranking Darnalong, would have anything to do with Joe's disappearance is shocking indeed!” and she looked askance at him, nose held high.

   “Joe's disappeared?” I asked.

   Gosh Lillow, you didn't know?”

   “No. We were expecting him to be here.”

   “Well, he's not here.” and she looked away.

   I looked at Ishmael, who was still scowling, and he looked back with a disgusted expression that said just what I was feeling, that this old bird wasn't going to be any help at all.

   “Well thanks Windigale.” I say, backing toward the door. “Just thought we'd pop in to say hi. Congratulations on being the boss.”

   “But Lillow! We're having a super sale!” and she looked out the window, “And I must say, your carpet is looking rather threadbare.”

   “There's a few klicks left on her.” I say.

   “No Lillow,” she says, walking up to the window, “No I don't think so. No, no. That carpet is done!” and she spun around with a huge smile. “But are you ever in luck!”

   “No really Windigale, our carpet is fine.” I mutter.

   “Because we are practically giving these marvelous new carpets away!” and she waved her ruby encrusted wing at a rather impressive display of elegant flying carpets. Her body feathers were dyed a bright florescent green so her ruby encrusted wings were startling. Her head feathers were dyed purple with red tips that went with her red cat-eyed glasses and the single huge, red-orange feather that stuck straight up from her head. She wore a large yellow scarf and the smile on her beak was painted a garish red. The carpets did look good, but really, all we needed was a few patches and we'd be good to go.

   “Why just take a look at this little number!” sang Windigale. “It's certified to be faster than the Damfaster brooms.” and she gave us a knowing smirk as she pulled a carpet down. I was intrigued by the claim. Mom's Damfaster sports broom was easily the fastest broom on the farm, and the envy of everyone, and I watched with interest as she unfurled it. I saw Ishmael looking intrigued as well, but Ishytoo just backed up with eyes wide.

   She woke the carpet by giving it a shake, and I could tell it was interested in us. “Ent she a beauty? Whad'ya say Lillow, give it a spin?”

   “No, really I couldn't...” I felt the carpet rub against my leg, like a cat.

   “Awww, she likes you.” purred Windigale. And before I knew what was happening, I was airborne and jetting around that planet at an awesome speed. Dang, I was impressed. This puppy could move. Before I got back I was in love. This fast little carpet had won my heart. Soon we were departing on my new carpet. Windigale had given us a good buy and a decent trade-in.

   Later I was surprised to see Joe, lazing around the meadow.

   “Hey Joe.” I said walking up to where he was lounging.

   “Hey Lillow, wassup?”

   “Well I'd heard that you'd disappeared, and that now Windigale Ossep owns your shop.”

   “Hmm, that's what you heard?”

   “Well actually I saw her there, at your shop.” He looked at me. “She, uh, she sold me a carpet. Said you'd disappeared and that now she was boss.”

   With this he laughed. “Ent that a hoot!” Then he laughed some more. “And that's what she told you?”

   “Uh-huh.”

   “Well Lillow, she's the best seller I ever saw. Why when I got the chance I put her in charge of the shop and took a long vacation, and been on vacation ever since.  She's been selling carpets like there's no tomorrow! Sold you one! I tell you, she's a natural!” and he laughed again.

   As I floated away, I thought, gosh, who would've thought. Windigale Ossep, master merchant? I was again impressed as my new carpet accelerated quickly from zero to damfast, and I knew she could go faster with ease. Windigale had sold me a carpet that I didn't need, and I was elated. I guess she is a good seller.

Things that Live on Zerox

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Things that live on Zerox copy each other. I think that's why it's called Zerox. Not sure. Anyway, it all started with the florescent green and yellow zebras. The zebras were upset because they had circles instead of stripes, and the zebra union was threatening them with expulsion. I think their colors might have been a sore spot as well, but those circles. That was the breaker. Circles!

   “Like little targets all over their bodies,” the union president groused.

   “A disgraceful miscarriage of design,” his secretary said in a fawning tone.

   The round circle zebras, who called themselves ducks for some mysterious reason, lived apart from the other zebras, maintaining their own village and keeping to themselves. The standard zebras tended toward bigotry when it came to abnormal stripes, and what could be more abnormal than circles on a zebra? Normal zebras called them circle jerks. So, they stayed apart. But now they were facing expulsion from the zebra union! This was big. They'd lose their pensions, as well as discounts on hundreds of fabulous products.

   The head duck called an emergency meeting and all the Ducks gathered.

   “We’ve got to do something!” the head duck shouted, starting the meeting.

   Hundreds of ducks said, “Do what?” or “What can we do?” Things like that.

   The head duck looked confused and just stood there, not answering, until a bizarre thing happened. A bulb appeared over his head and lit up! He smiled slowly.

   “I have an idea.” he said, “Suppose these circles become desirable? Huh? Suppose, instead of inspiring revulsion, these circles inspired envy? Huh? What’ya think of that?” The zebras shuffled around for a bit, looking uncomfortable, until first one, then others smiled in comprehension. Make the circles something to be desired.

   A zebra in the front row spoke up, “Okay, that sounds good. So how do we do that?”

   “Why, we, uh . . ..” He paused and sat down, scratching his head with his right front hoof. Then he smiled again, “We decorate them! We make games with them!” The ducks were transfixed, and stared with round eyes. Then there was a loud snort.

   “Why that's the silliest thing I ever heard!” said the front-row zebra. “What would we paint them? They're already green and yellow. Black and white? And what game are you thinking? Darts?”

   The head duck seemed stunned, and stepped back. “Well, we’ve got to do something,” he said in a small voice and with a stricken look.

   “What about propaganda?” asked another front row duck.

   The head duck gave him a blank look, “What'ya mean by that?”

   “It's marketing, Head Duck.” answered the other front row duck. “Marketing.”

   “Marketing?”

   “Yeah, marketing. Having circles is the product. And striped zebras are the customers.”

   The head duck seemed dazed, but with a slight smile said, “So we sell them on having circles?”

   “Right. Only we aren't honest. It's called propaganda. Getting what you want through innuendo and lies. It's the key to success!”

   “It's legal to do that?”

   “Of course it's legal! It's the bedrock of politics and business. It's marketing, Head Duck. Propaganda is political marketing, and while it's completely immoral, it's totally legal!”

   The head duck gazed at him with wonder. And so, the ducks began marketing. Studies show that proximity to circles can cure many diseases', or Circle zebras live longer because circles purify the air, or Circles are a healthy and natural part of nature, and so on. Their campaign was so successful, that not only did they get to stay in the union, but the animals of Zerox began copying them. Today everyone on Zerox has a circle of some sort; tattoo, pendant, haircut, whatever. Everyone has a circle. And the circles have brought peace. This is why the things that live on Zerox copy each other.

Lame.

I knew when I came on this day that I'd not be writing the traditional way. Some things were different but I couldn't say what, so I sat down and started, just like that. I was thinking of the crossing, the one from here to there, and the adventures that happen, like this one, they happen right here. As the poet once told me, go for it honey!

There was a curious discordance after the poet left. Like the environment couldn't continue the harmony and meter, not on it's own anyway, and we three travelers certainly brought little of poetry. We were sitting, waiting, the lot of travelers it would seem, and eagerly accepted any entertainment, no matter its value, so the poet was nice.

A woman traveling with two men, as I am doing, is, perhaps an oddity, but I felt totally protected, safe, and somewhat gregarious, although not my usual state. My name is Lillow and I'm traveling with my Uncle Ishmael and my husband Nonesuch. We've a layover here of some time and have seated ourselves on a bench outside, under some marvelously dappled shade, on a warm, early summer day. We were all three, I think, fascinated by the passers-by on this busy street.

Uncle Ishmael is playful and inquisitive, a pleasant sort and nice to travel with, not much older than Nonesuch, who is, himself, only a year older than I am. Ishy, my name for my Uncle, is the youngest and presumably the last of my Grandparents' children. He has remained a bachelor, apparently not attracted to either men or women, but we love him, and cherish his company. My musings are interrupted by the arrival of a street musician. He has set up on the corner and is playing a violin. Playing it quite well, actually, and I focus on his performance.

Nonesuch announces that he's going for coffee and asks if either of us would like some. We both respond yes, and say how we take our coffee, as we have our luggage here beside the bench, and must remain. Nonesuch stands up, gives us a smile, and says, “I'll be right back.” While he's gone, a scruffy looking stranger sits down in his place.

“I'm sorry,” I say, “I'm holding that spot for my husband. He''ll be back in a minute.”

“Zat so.” the stranger mutters. Then, after a moment's pause, “Okay, Tell me when he comin'. I'll move.” and he relaxes back. I look at Ishmael, who shrugs a 'what can we do' shrug, and I decide to do nothing and see what happens.

When I see Nonesuch approaching with a cardboard tray and three cups I say, “Here's my husband now!” The stranger is slouching back and has his eyes closed. I wonder if he's fallen asleep? “My husband is here!” I say, louder. With a quick shake of his head he opens his eyes, and looks at Nonesuch walking up.

“Dat him?”

“Yes. That's my husband. You said you'd move.” He sits up and slides over, close to me. I involuntarily move closer to Ishmael, who also moves a little, but the stranger slides some more, staying close.

“Dere. He got room now.” and he put his arms up on the bench so that one was behind me and the other would be behind Nonesuch, if he sat down. Nonesuch, meanwhile, had arrived.

“Excuse me, that's my wife you're sitting next to and I'd like to sit by her.” he said.

“Dis your wife?” the stranger said, acting surprised and putting his hand on my shoulder. I reached up and removed his hand, but he kept tapping the back of my shoulder, so I stood up. Nonesuch handed the coffee to Ishmael and put his hands on his hips. The stranger smiled. A dangerous smile, I thought. Looking at the window behind us, I wanted to defenestrate this guy!.

“Dat coffee look good.” he said, looking at the coffee.

Ishmael smiles at him and says, “Yeah sure, you can have a cup.” and hands his cup to the stranger. The stranger seems taken aback, and looking at Ishmael warily, accepts the coffee. He sits back and pops the lid off and takes a sip. Nonesuch and I are standing, watching, but he seems oblivious to us.

“Man dat good!” he exclaims. He takes a couple more sips and looks up at us, standing there. “Oh! Am I in the way of you lovey birds?” I feel Nonesuch tensing. “Well exc-uu-use me!” and he takes a couple minutes putting the lid back on the coffee cup. I pull Nonesuch over, next to our luggage, keeping us both calm, while Ishmael remains sitting, holding our coffee. The man stands up slowly, nods at Ishmael, and walks lazily away.   

We sit down, glad to see him gone, and sip our coffee. I share mine with Uncle Ishy. Nonesuch glances at his watch and announces another hour before our bus arrives.  We decide to go in and check in our luggage. I look at Nonesuch and say, “Seriously, where can this story go?”

Nonesuch smiles and says, “Painted us into another corner, hasn't she? I had a hunch, with that lame beginning.”

“Maybe she'll try a spaceship. You know, aliens always spice up a story.”

Ishmael laughs and says, “Maybe she'll bring that noxious man back, like make him turn out to be a saint or something?”

“Wouldn't that be something?” I say

“Wouldn't surprise me.” says Ishmael, “I just want to be an ape again.”

“Yeah. Let's go back to the farm. Sometimes a story is just hopeless.” I say, and with a poof we are gone.

The saint stands alone in the square with his empty coffee cup, looking sad. Soon a spaceship lands and he gets on board. With a whoosh, they are gone. Traffic continues unabated on the busy street and the violin plays on.

Leaving Oz

On the advice of those little people we met when we arrived, Munchkins, I think they said, well, on their advice, we started following this yellow brick road. Me and my faithful dog-like companion, Toto, that is. I still couldn't believe that the tornado had carried our house here, and that it had crushed some stupid witch in the process. They made me take her slippers, but I threw them away shortly after we left. Cheap hand-me-downs, I thought. We hadn't gone far when we met a lion, who started growling at us, and waving his claws. Toto began a very convincing yap sound, just like a dog would do, but I just stared. Toto soon tired, and came and sat down by me. The lion continued growling, but kept his distance.

“Something odd here.” said Toto

“I agree. What's up with that lion?” whose growl was getting quieter, and whose eyes began to express worry.

Toto shrugged, and walking over to the lion, began talking with him. The lion eyed him with round eyes and muttered some sort of reply. I could hear neither speaker from where I watched, but I was not inclined to move closer. Soon Toto returned.

“He's got fear issues.” growled Toto, sotto voce, “I think he's looking for some hand-outs.”

I looked over at the lion, who was watching us intently, and I scowled. I couldn't help it, he looked like such a loser, and we knew how to deal with his type, back in Kansas.

“C'mon Toto.” I said, “Let's get outta here.” and we walked briskly past the lion, holding our heads high, knowing that we were helping him, in the best possible way. When we were well past, I shouted back, “Get a job!”

It wasn't long before we came to a tin statue. Seemed to be of a wood cutter, as the distressed looking statue held an axe. I could see rust on parts of it, especially around the joints, then I noticed an oil can nearby.

“Somebody's been slacking!” I say to Toto, pointing to the rust spots, then the oil can.

“Yeah, probably some city employee wasting our tax dollars.” answered Toto. That sounded right to me, even though we hadn't seen any sign of a city.

"Damn slacker!” I say, getting angry, “Let's be sure and report this when next we see an authority.” We walked away, self righteous and full of contempt.

Later, we were passing a lush corn field, which looked near ready to harvest. I eyed the succulent ears and my mouth began to water. “You see anybody around here?” I asked, looking around.

Toto, who did not particularly like corn, looked around, “Naw. There's no one near.” and he sat down with a yawn. I had, meanwhile, gone over to the the fence, and reaching over, grabbed a nicely plump ear and tugged it off.

“Hey!” a voice yelled, “Put that back!”

I hurried back to Toto. “You see anybody?” I ask.

“Still no.” looking around.

“I don't think they saw me.” I whisper.

“Sounded like they di...”

“Naw!” I interrupt, “There's no one near, remember?”

“But still...”

“Let's get outta here!” I say, throwing the corn to the side and walking briskly down the yellow brick road. With a worried look, Toto followed. “They can't prove a thing!” I hiss at him.

 “Hey! Where's that corn? Where're you going? Hey!” the mysterious voice called out as we scampered furtively away.

We're quite a ways from the corn field when I see a green glow in the distance. I was pretty confident that I'd escaped capture, and was strutting proudly, with Toto trotting along beside.

“What's that?” I ask, lifting him up for a better view.

He squinted for a few moments, “I dunno. Some sort of green structure that reflects light.”

Somebody had mentioned an Emerald City, like we ought to go there, so some wizard could save us or something like that.

“Could it be a city?” I ask, “Maybe made of emeralds?”

"Could be” he said, “Let's get a closer look.”

The road seemed to be going in that direction, so we continued on. We soon came to a giant field of flowers that have been neglected, and have been allowed to grow across the yellow brick road, and were, in fact, blocking it. I pause for but a moment, then stride forcefully through the flowers, kicking them aside. I become aware of an intoxicating smell that I knew! Hell, yes! We had this back in Kansas! I  grab Toto and back out in time to collapse on the road, where we stayed sleeping for the next long time. Pretty sure.

When I awoke, I looked out at the flowers. “Damn, that's some good shit.” I mutter.

"Huh? Wazzat?” said Toto, standing up and shaking his head.

“Those flowers,” I answer, nodding toward the field, “must be some sort of poppy. And they are potent!” Toto looks, but remains silent. “I'll bet even a small bunch'd be worth a lotta money back in Kansas.” I continue, dreaming wistfully.

“Yeah, well I'm not going to get involved in any drug smuggling.” growled Toto, walking away, cross country, parallel to the poppy field.

I followed. “Okay. You're right. So where're we going?”

“Gotta get around the flowers somehow.” he muttered. 

We walked for quite a ways before we came to a steep-walled valley. The best way to cross it seemed to be to go down in it, but that required us to move away from the flowers, to where we couldn't see them anymore. We figured that was okay, and walked cautiously down the incline, entering a forest. The trees did not look healthy. The entire forest began to look sickly, like it was dying, and there were large patches of dead growth here and there. It was looking really dark and spooky, when we came to a castle. Soldiers were marching in the field in front, goose stepping and fierce. I was impressed! These guys were hot! I stood behind a rock and watched them with admiration.  Perfect timing, all in step, singing a low and ominous song of war. They were splendid!  We were spotted, of course, and an officer came over and arrested us. I was not surprised, as these were clearly well disciplined, crack troops, dedicated to doing their jobs well, and we neither one resisted. We were left in cages inside the castle. I congratulated the captain on his team's professional demeanor as they were leaving. He turned, and with a curious expression, bowed slightly, then swiveling smartly back, he marched away. I realized that these soldiers were in fact monkeys, and that they had wings! I was even more impressed. What a fabulous operation!

When their queen began descending the spiral staircase, I was prepared to embrace her, and her marvelous world! Until I got a good look at her, that is. She was green! I had been taught, since I was a baby, to hate colored people! So, even though I had never met one, I despised her, for her skin color. I saw her eyes narrow as she watched me. I was unable to hide my feelings, whispering, “Green monster!” The monkey captain came, and snapping his heels together, stood at attention beside her.

She looked at me for a few moments more, then said to the captain, “Take them back to Kansas. They're just bigots who'll impede our work, saving the planet.” I knew she was green! All this talk of saving the planet! Probably hugging trees, too! What claptrap! But Kansas?

“Hold on!” I yelled, “Not Kansas! No, you don't understand! It's all black and white there! No!” But I was quickly ensnared in a pair of powerful claws and carried away, back to Kansas, where I have languished ever since. Toto left me for a west coast family, on the beach, exclusive sort of thing. The guy's a real snob. I've been tipping the bottle and dreaming of my glory days, my adventures, back in Ox, or whatever that place was called. I'd heard that the wizard of Ox, or was it Osh? Well anyway, this wizard had arrived in a balloon. and was running for the senate. I'll vote for him!

A Taradiddle: A Trip To The Moon

The meadow is wet, sodden and mushy after all the rain we've had. Probable Creek is high and thinks she's a river! And wondering why her banks are so narrow, she leaps over them in frustration! Water is today's word and we've got it. The water of life. Mom and I are both Witches of the West so water is our medium. We converse with rivers and streams easily and our intuitions are sharp. Still it's good to be warm and dry on a cold, wet winter day and I'm content yet pensive, watching the rain, the flow, the way of the world and feeling both gratitude and sorrow. My gratitude is always present; for my home, my family, and my life, but today I also feel sorrow. Perhaps it's the gloom of a heavily clouded and rainy day following days of the same. Or perhaps it's the things that I hear of people doing and saying. Truly I cannot say for both are oppressive and I am weary of their weight.

   So I relax into my contentment, hiding in my bubble and I return to the farm. A farm in the wilderness called Gladstar Farm.

   Holly Cow eyes the sodden meadow with mild disdain and says, “You know, Lillow, we haven't been to the Moon in a long time.”

   Emerging from my ruminations I am briefly startled at her statement, “No, I guess we haven't. I haven't really thought about it.”

   “Well we should. It'd do us a world of good! Where's Ishmael?”

   “I think he and Ishytoo are at the manor.” answered Lorna who doesn't mind the cold wet at all and eyes my lethargy with suspicion.

   “Well let's go get them!” Holly says grinning at us. “Hop on and we'll go get them and go to the Moon! What'ya say?”

   I see Lorna smiling and nodding yes as she stands up, “Sounds good to me!”

   I am indifferent but fall in, “Yeah, OK, let's do it.”

   Lorna and I crawl up on Holly's back and she takes off for the manor. Holly has a superior flying spell that keeps us warm and dry as we fly through the rain. Lorna's boyfriend, well Assfriend I guess, Jack Ass, has a good flying spell that he got from Kandoo Quick who used to live here. But really, the better flying spell is Holly's. Keeps you totally warm and dry while Jack's allows a few raindrops through here and there along with an occasional gust of cold wind.

   We get to the manor quickly and Lorna rushes in to find Ishmael while Holly and I wait. I stand close beside her to keep warm and dry inside her magic flying bubble. Bubbles within bubbles and I start to ruminate again. I am leaning on Holly gazing into space when Lorna returns with Ishmael and Ishytoo both grinning and obviously pleased at the invitation.   

   “Hi Holly!” Ishmael calls as he approaches with Lorna and Ishytoo on either side and all grinning, “A marvelous idea! Going to the Moon! Lillow.” and he nods at me, and they step into the the magic bubble.

   “Well hop on then and let's go!” she says smiling back at them. Soon we're all on, Lorna then me then Ishytoo then Ishmael. Holly starts to run and her flying spell kicks in and we're airborne!

   We climb quickly upward  and are soon inside the clouds. Gosh I hope we don't run into a cloud city! But our course is good and we are soon through the clouds and into the bright blue winter sky! Clear and blue above while the cloud floor below is dense, dark and seemingly impenetrable. We continue to rise and I see the Earth's horizon quickly becoming smaller as we fly upward until the sky gets dark and we see stars! Oh this is a magical and scary experience! We aim for the Moon and Holly's magic flying spell kicks into overdrive! Wow! I know we're going super fast as I watch the Earth dwindle behind us and the Moon expand in front of us. The Moon is soon huge, filling our vision from horizon to horizon and we are setting down. Holly has brought us to the Green Cheese Farm which I know is one of her favorite places. We stay on her back for the air until we get to Moon City, itself all underground and filled with air! And it is right next to the Green Cheese farm that harvests the Moon's surface cheese. There are cheese stands in the market along side the famous Moon City mushrooms. Holly and I get a couple of bags of each as Lorna and Ishytoo cavort in the Moon's light gravity. Ishmael laughs as he watches but he doesn't join in. I too am not in the mood for running and jumping as we return to his side.

   “You want to get some tea?” I ask.

   Holly nods yes and Ishmael, smiling at me says, “Yeah, sure.”   

  “Hey, we're going for tea!” Holly calls out to Lorna and Ishytoo.

  “We'll be along in a bit!” Lorna calls out as Ishytoo does a triple back flip. I hear them hooting and laughing as we enter the tea shop.

   The Moon maiden behind the counter looks up, “Lillow?”

   “Hi Trixel!” I say smiling at her. I'd met her before on an earlier trip. “I was hoping you'd be in the shop today!” as she runs around the counter to give me a hug.  For some reason the gravity doesn't seem way less to Moon people.

   “Oh Lillow I'm so glad to see you! And Holly! And Ishmael!” hugging us each in turn. “Sit yourselves down!” and she returned to the counter and filled a large teapot with hot water. “Ishytoo and Lorna aren't with you?” as she threw a handful of tea leaves into the pot.

   “They're outside.” I say, “Frolicking in the light gravity.”

   “Oh sure! I always forget the gravity is different for you guys!” and grabbing four cups she returned to our table and poured before sitting down. From time to time a Moon person would walk in and get what they needed and walk out again. They'd usually smile and nod at Trixel who only got up when a bin needed replenishing.

   “How're things with you?” I ask

   “Fine just fine!” she beamed, “Dradley's mushroom crop is looking to set a record and my shop is doing fine!” She points to a couple walking out the door with a full bag.  “Little Tossidy is starting first grade, and everything is fine! Fine! Fine!” She begins the Moon Dance Of Fineness. Ishmael and Holly join her and I watch, still feeling a little blah. Lorna and Ishytoo walk in and right away they're dancing too. Sheesh! I get up and begin to shuffle listlessly. What is wrong with me? Why can't I shake these blahs?

    I see Lorna watching me and then Holly is too. After the dance is finished and we sit down Lorna whispers in my ear, “What's wrong, Lillow?”

   I look at her and shrug. “I dunno. Just feel sad.”

   “It's because of all the awful things you hear that people are saying and doing isn't it?”    “Yeah. You know . . . yeah.” and I realize I'm losing faith in my fellows.

   “I get it Lillow. I'm disgusted when I see how much hate people have and how ready they are to throw their neighbors under the bus.” I just nod glumly.

   “But there are good decent people left. You're one and I'm one and everybody here is!” and she gestures at the room. By now everyone is silent and listening to me and Lorna.    “I know Lorna. I know... but I can't help feeling sad. I think I hear too much.”

   “Yeah, but we can't listen to the death agents who've made lying a winning ticket. They must fall in the long run!”

   “Really? Must they?   

   “Yes.”

   Now Holly comes over and hugs me. Then Ishmael and Trixel are hugging me. And then everyone is hugging all at once. People start saying “I love you.” to each other and I start to cry.

   “Oh how I love you all!” I blubber through my tears and they hug even tighter.

 

   Later we stroll through the mushroom fields and I can see the Green Cheese farms outside the covered city. Everyone working together for the common good. The mushroom farmers sing as they harvest and I see a well ordered and well functioning society. What's different I wonder? They've only two crops, mushrooms and cheese, yet they're content, if not outright happy, and they all work together. Their children are well educated and their safety nets are impenetrable. None of these things are true of the land surrounding the farm. Why is that? Our group has come to ground in a park by the cheese farm and we're sitting at picnic tables chatting. I feel good in the circle of my friends. My loved ones. Yet there persists in my thoughts a heaviness that is of my homeland.

   “Let's go look at the Earth.” I say to the group. All the Moon's cities and farms are on what is known on Earth as the dark side of the Moon. But that's just the side that never faces the Earth as the Moon always shows us her same face, never her behind face. And there is day and night here on the behind side, just like everywhere else so dark just means it can't be seen from Earth. And the Moon People like it that way.

   So we go to the underground train and ride out to the view port. It's a tourist spot and there are a lot of Moon people there. There is a large open viewing area with a huge curved picture window. Or something up there to keep the air in. And we can see the Earth. It is large and about one third dark. I can see the land masses in the darkness as there are millions of glittering lights, like fireflies on them. A lot of the Earth is covered in clouds and I can see whirlwinds of storms here and there. But even though it is larger than the Moon in our Earth sky it is still small. And distant. And beautiful. All of the history of everything that has ever happened did so right on that little ball.

   I stare transfixed. All the troubles are there too, on that little ball. And I'm way out here in this place of happiness and I still feel the weight of that little blue ball's discontent. And it is beautiful, that little blue ball, despite the weight.

   We return to the city and I know we're all thinking of returning to the farm. I think we need to bring the mind of happiness back with us and I begin the Loon dance of joyful togetherness and appreciation. Lorna immediately joins in and then Ishytoo and soon we're all dancing, grateful to be together and happy for it. We infect each other with appreciation and joy and we all rise up.

   When we leave I wave at Trixel as we go past her shop and she waves back. We are soon airborne and heading for Gladstar Farm. When we land I take our bags of mushrooms and cheese into the kitchen to the delighted ooh's and ah's of Tadfast and Hayu. It is warm and snug here and filled with tantalizing odors! I hug them both! They tuck away the mushrooms and cheese and smiling we three return to the main hall where everyone has gathered with hot tea and biscuits. The Witches are there and the Elves as well and with our arrival the entire family is here. The air is golden and warm and good cheer pervades.  I realize that the farm is an anchor in the sea of chaos, anger and greed that surrounds us. As long as Gladstar Farm exists we will be OK.

A Taradiddle: Beliefs

Lillow Mi

When we arrived at the meadow, Holly Cow was there with Ishmael. I didn't see Ishytoo, but I knew he'd not be too far off. Lorna Loon and I had finished the morning crow, and we're glad to be here for tea and biscuits. I could see Jack Ass lumbering down from the upper meadow, where he likes to spend time, near the Goodable herd, and Suregood Fairhaven is strolling down the mid-meadow trail from the manor. A lively group this morning!

   When all were settled and the greetings subsided, there was a moment of companionable silence.

   Then Ishmael spoke. “I saw the old wizard last night.”

   He meant Mervin Wizard, who had tried to conquer Elvenstead, and perhaps the world, starting with Gladstar Farm. We used Zingellawabix, the magic wand, to contain and shrink his powers out of existence, so that now, he's just another angry old man, unable to hurt anyone.

  “Oh yeah?” I say, “So how's he doing? Turning into a decent human being?”

   Ishmael snorted, “Not likely. He's as angry as ever. Blaming everyone but himself for his current condition.”

   “Yeah, I figured as much.” I said, shaking my head.

   “Is it best to be consistent in one's belief's,” asked Suregood, “or should we change our minds as circumstances change?”

   “You should change if it's an icky belief, like Mervin's” said Lorna.

   Ishmael gave her thoughtful look. “But who decides what's icky and what isn't? I mean world conquest didn't seem at all icky to Mervin.” he paused, “Just to us.”

   “Icky is anything that hurts others!” snapped Lorna, giving Ishmael a contemptuous look.

   I couldn't help but laugh. “That works for me, Ishmael.”

   He smiled and shook his head, “Okay, I'll concede that point.” and smiling broadly, he added “See how I changed as circumstances changed It just makes sense.” Lorna smiled at him.

   “Seems like there's more to it than that.” said Suregood with wry look.

   “How do you know what ideas are okay and what aren't?” asked Holly.

   “That's it!” said Ishmael, smiling at her. “It's your inner knowing. We know right from wrong.”

   “Doesn't seem like Mervin does.” she answered. He gave her a squinty-eyed look, frowning.

    “Maybe it's the intent.” said Suregood, “Maybe that's what matters. You know, love or hate.”

    “And a million points between.” said Lorna 

   “Does seem a little tenuous.” I added.

   “So is there nothing to believe in?” asked Suregood.

    “What a curious question.” said mom, walking up with Rosy Riveter.

   “We're trying to figure if it's good to hold your beliefs steadfast, or change them as circumstances change.” I told her.

   “Ah. And you've reached the point of wondering if anything is worth unchanging devotion. Good, good.” she said, with Rosy smiling and nodding agreement.

   “Why is that good?” I asked, frowning at her.

    “Because you've effectively eliminated the physical world from your considerations.” she answered, with what I thought was a smug look.

   “That's pretty good.” said Rosy, smiling at us. But they could see we were confused.

   “The Witches believe that consciousness is all that exists in the universe.” mom continued, “So that things of the earth, things like loyalty, trust, competition, appearance, power, things of that sort, are not really important”

   “They keep changing.” said Rosy, with a big smile, and a giggle.

   “It's because they come from the ego.” said mom. “Which is a physical construction.”

   “So what's left?” I ask,

   “Consciousness.” she answered, smiling gently.

   “The only reality,” said Rosy, “also known as Love, capital L.”

   “Just so.” said mom, “That is what you hold onto steadfastly. Nothing else.”

   Lorna started to hum softly. I could tell it was her song. The Loon song. I started to hum with her, because I love that song.

   Then Ishmael started singing.

   “It's swell to be a loon!” and we all joined in.

   “And sing a Loony tune!

   In the water in the wet!

   That's what you get,

   When you're a Looooo-ooon!”

   Now all the fauna joined in, and we began to dance as we sang, stomping our feet and flapping our arms, like wings, calling each other Loons, and laughing uproariously. Even the flowers were swaying to the rhythm. I knew then that mom was right. I knew what was important, what endured, and what was worth my devotion. 

The Monster

There's a place. Down the end of the lane, by our apartments. There's this place where nobody goes, ever. Except, I did.

   It was a beautiful day, early spring, slightly chill, yet gloriously warm in the sunlight. There were millions of birds, seemed like, all singing their own songs, all calling out their own messages. Flowers in bloom, and a refreshing, gentle breeze tickling my face. I had been walking down by the creek and when I returned, I decided, because I still felt like walking, and perhaps, because I was curious, to walk to the end of the lane. A dead end, the lane was maybe half kilometer long, for which I would have to backtrack. The tenants along the lane preferred it that way, as it discouraged traffic. The lane was safe, and comfortable.

   I ambled easily along, experiencing the spring energy and beauty. When I got to the end of the lane, a circular area, big enough for a car to turn around, and flanked by a sidewalk with park benches, I stopped, and sat on a bench. It was shaded by a tree, with light green, early spring leaves, giving a dappled shade, and it was delightful. I couldn't help but smile, as I leaned back, meditating. Suddenly I heard a gruff voice behind me.

   “I know someone who knows everyone that you know.”

   I jumped up and turned around, but there was no one there. I looked around, and there was no one  near in any direction. Then I noticed a dark, narrow, shadow on the wall, like an opening, that I was sure hadn't been there before. I walked over to it, and it was an opening. Very narrow, and difficult to see, but an opening, into a dark passage. I peered in but could see little. Now this was curious! Sensing no danger, I turned sideways and squeezed in. The passage was wider, and lit further down by an unseen light source, so I was able to walk down relatively easily. And it did go down. A gradual but discernible slope down. I guess it must go under the freeway, that I knew was on the other side of the lane's back wall. After about maybe ten meters or so it turned sharply to the right, and I could see an opening with bright light coming in, another six or so meters on. This was the unseen light source. There was a gradually noticeable smell, like dirty socks or maybe a skunk that had been here in the last few days, and I hurried to the opening, where I sensed fresh air. The opening was narrow, like the first, and I turned sideways and squeezed through.

   I found myself in a beautiful forest clearing, with a blazing sun in a cloudless blue sky. And it was hot, like mid-summer. I sucked in the fresh air, gratefully, and looked around. This whole thing was impossible, I thought. The lane was in the middle of a large city, where I lived, so this wilderness-looking forest was under the freeway, according to how much I had walked. It just wasn't possible. I could see a path across the meadow, and I walked toward it, my curiosity thoroughly piqued. I didn't sense any danger, and I was relieved to see the opening, still there, behind me, so I walked a little ways down the path, which had entered a thick forest. I wanted to find out what was going on, and decided to continue. The path turned slightly to the left, and I saw a chain link fence on the right side of it. There must be private property that the trail goes around, I thought.

   I could see a wide spot in the trail ahead, like a clearing, and that the chain link fence was now a few meters high. As I approached the clearing I could hear voices ahead, and they sounded like they were on the other side of the fence. I started to walk slowly, stealthily, until I was behind a bush, and able to see into the clearing. I peered around and gasped. On the other side were about twenty or so Bigfoots! Some were sitting, eating, but most were standing, looking at my side. Oh my gosh! This must be a zoo! But Bigfoot? I didn't really think they existed, much less that they were in a zoo. I forgot about being under the freeway, as I gazed at this herd of Bigfoots! One of the members of a group noticed me and pointed, and the group hurried over, watching me intently, from behind the fence. Wow. I was amazed, and walked out into the clearing, to see them better. I hoped I wouldn't scare them away. The ones who were sitting, jumped to their feet, and there was an audible excitement in the entire group, all of them staring at me. Their stares were uncanny, like they were studying me, and I suddenly realized that a couple of them were holding clipboards! Then I noticed benches where the ones that had been sitting, had sat on. I became conscious of the fact that there were no amenities of any sort on my side, just a wide, dirt-floored space. Some of the Bigfoots were holding. Cell phones? I blinked in amazement, as they held their phones high, and began taking pictures of me. I saw a mother Bigfoot pulling her child away, as he stared, wide-eyed, at me. It was like she was fearful, of me! And I realized, I was the zoo!  More Bigfoot were arriving, excited, taking pictures and staring. Terrified with my realization, I backed away, and turning, ran back up the path, the way I had come. I could hear disappointed grumblings behind me, but I didn't stop running until I got to the opening, which I hastily squeezed through, and hurrying up the passage, soon emerged into the lane, on a beautiful spring day. I ran or walked briskly the rest of the way home, glancing furtively over my shoulder as I went. I never returned, nor have I ever again visited a zoo.   

 

Resistance

Lillow M

The Darnalongs are a breed of distressing and shockingly unfortunate birds, whose main purpose, it would seem, is to spread bad news. Was there a wreck, like a really bad wreck? The Darnalongs will be quick to bring the news. So and so split up? Was it ugly? Here's a Darnalong, singing that song.

And we are living in times where even the least diligent Darnalong is kept quite busy. The Darnalongs are totally different from the Goodables, who maintain a sizable herd here on the farm. Goodables, mostly invisible, bring out the urges to goodness. If a Goodable is near, then your highest and purist loving drives kick in, and you are good. Or tend to be. If a Darnalong is near, and they are all too visible, then you are driven to frustration, anger or despair. You wonder, how could such awful things happen? The Darnalong gleefully fills in the details.

My friend, Windigail Ossep, is a Darnalong. Like most of her species, she wears flamboyant plumage, that she accents with shockingly bright accessories. Her eyes positively gleam through her hot pink, cat-eyed glasses, as she recounts the ins and outs of that disastrous fire in the eastern forest last year. Our air was still smoky, days later, a fact that she alluded to frequently. She loved talking of war, another horrendous event, and could talk for hours without repeating one single horror. The war was a Darnalong season for sure.

But the real danger with Darnalongs was when they gathered together. Like Crows, a group of Darnalongs are called a murder. I'm not sure why Crows are considered thus, but it is quite clear why the Darnalongs are. Most people would not survive the massive onslaught of dark knowledge of so many negative events! And then the Darnalongs would gleefully report the details of those losses. I'm thankful that I've never encountered a murder of Darnalongs, but I've heard, way off, southeast of here, that murders exist. I shudder to think of such realities, and I'm glad, in a sad sort of way, that Windigail has no friends. 

We were having our daily meet-up in the grassy area in front of Holly's Palatial Estate. Lorna Loon and I were first to arrive, having just done the Morning Crow. Holly Cow greeted us with cups of tea and biscuits, the perennial farm favorites, and we settled down, as Ishmael and Ishytoo arrived from the Shine, atop Jenny Butte. Ishytoo was bounding about, enjoying the morning sunshine, a rare event this spring, and, spotting Astra over by a patch of flowers, he took off toward her. I could see her flutter with excitement at seeing Ishytoo rushing her way. Who wouldn't? A joyful and handsome young Ape like Ishytoo would stir any young female's heart. Probably. Then Ishytoo and Astra, amidst shrieks and laughter, took off for sundry adventures. 

Ishmael settled gratefully into a comfortable chair and accepted a cup of tea from Holly.

“How was the Shine?” she asked, smiling.

“They seem longer and more intense each day.” he answered, with a sigh.

“Something amiss?” I asked.

He looked thoughtful, like he was remembering something. “I, uh, well, you know, you never can tell for sure with the Shine.”

“You mean you can't tell if something's wrong?” Lorna asked, with a scowl.

 He looked wide-eyed at her, “Of course I can tell!” Then, looking at me, “I just can't tell what. You know, like what might be causing it.”

“But something is wrong?” I ask again.

Looking sad, he frowned and said, “Yes.”

I sit back, pondering this. I hadn't heard any rumors of anything bad. And as I'm thinking about it, I see, approaching in the distance, on the Perimeter Trail, Windigail, and I squint. Could it be? Mmmmm. No, it couldn't be. I, it is! Oh my gosh! It's Windigail AND her sister, Addagail! Addagail Ossep, bringer of the bad, like the worst possible, the worst imaginable, beyond imagination, news! And that's just the news of Addagail Ossep. With Windigail chiming in? I wanted to run. I looked frantically at Ishmael, who, following my gaze, gasped, and flipped his chair backward. Holly looked, as did Lorna, and I heard them both gasp, in unison. By now Windigail had spotted us, and waved, smiling brightly, her glowing orange plumage offset by artfully placed blue feathers. Addagail was grinning wide, herself in day-glow green with purple tufts and glasses. 

Oh, this must be bad news indeed! I thought. Ishmael stood up, and brushing himself off, said, “Oh, this looks bad.” I could only nod in agreement.

“Really bad.” said Lorna.

We waited silently, with a palpable sense of dread, as they approached.

“Maybe they aren't coming to see us?” whispered. Holly I gave her a disbelieving look. We could now hear their excited squeaks and whistles, and soon, too soon, they were here.

“Oh Lillow! Ishmael!” said Windigail, with a huge smile, her eyes sparkling.

“You won't believe!” shrieked Addagail.

“And you guys!” finished Windigail, looking at Holly and Lorna, who weren't in the least bothered that Windigail couldn't remember their names, “Wait until you hear!”

“It's just unbelievable!” said Addagail, barely restraining her mirth.

“Why if it wasn't me telling, I wouldn't believe it!” exclaimed Windigail.

“I dee-clare!” said Addagail.   

“Okay, Okay! Enough. What?” said Ishmael, with a grim look.

Windigail and Addagail looked at him with wide-eyes, reminiscent of the look that he had given Lorna earlier, and Windigail said, “Really Ishmael. With news of this import, one would expect a little decorum.”

“Indeed one would.” said Addagail, with an indignant look.

“Just get on with it.” growled Ishmael.

They both huffed and puffed, and brushing themselves off, as if Ishmael had gotten them dirty, Windigail said, “Well, you remember that Drumf guy?”

“The one you told us you undid?” hissed Addagail, gleefully.

Uh, yeah.” I say, feeling a deep, deep dread emerging, as Ishmael slowly nodded yes.

“Well, he's back!” Addagail all but laughed.

“Oh, my yes, he's back. And stronger than ever.” said Windigail, smiling widely.

“Didn't get undone at all!” said Addagail, dancing happily back and forth.

“Yeah, that's bad news alright.” I say, giving Ishmael a worried look.

“So where's he at?” Ishmael said, with barely controlled fury.

“Oh! Oh! You won't believe!” shrieked Windigail.

Addagail was clapping her wings and spinning in circles, chanting, “You won't believe! You won't believe!”

“What! We won't believe what!?”  growled Ishmael, with a fierce scowl.

The sisters stopped their maniacal dance, and looked at Ishmael with disdain.

“Well, you know them Elves?” said Windigail.

“You know, them Elves up there in Elvenstead.” said Addagail with gleaming eyes. We both nodded.

“Well, they got themselves a new leader.” she continued. Both the sisters were smiling, near to laughing, and their exuberance at this delivery of doom was unnerving. How can they enjoy bringing such bad news? I wondered.

“Yep,” Windigail continued, “fellow by the name of Drumf.” and both sisters looked at Ishmael and me. We both remained silent, as did all those around us. The only sounds were the incongruous, near silent, giggles of the sisters.

None of us who heard the dark sisters' news that day fully comprehended the enormity, and horror, of what we were hearing. Of all the horrible things that one could think of, what would be the worst? This.  

This would be. And apparently is, the worst thing imaginable. For quite a while, no one spoke of it. There was still a chance the sisters had been wrong. A slim chance, but a chance. So, we sent a query to Elvenstead, which had been strangely quiet of late. And when the answer came, when it confirmed our evil fears, there was more stunned silence. The unspeakable had occurred and we were all dumbfounded. What can you say when the sky has actually fallen? Plus, the Drumf had fired Nonesuch! I felt so bad for him. He loved being the liaison and was diligent in his duties. He'd be returning soon.

The Farm is considered to be a part of Elvenstead. Being a distant hinterland to this hub at the center of our world, we are generally ignored, and we like it that way. The Farm is, in fact, autonomous, ruled by Witches, but we retain close relations with Elvenstead. The Witch's, Fæirie's and Loons all have embassys there. Lorna's son-in-law, Larry Loon, is the Loonia ambassador, and he, along with her daughter Lana, and her beloved granddaughter, Lorna Leah, live in Elvenstead. Nonesuch Otherling, who was the King's liaison officer for all of the western Willamette region, had made his base here, so he should've been the first to hear of the coup, if that's what this was. After the five of us, that is. Those Darnalongs are sure efficient, darn it! But Nonesuch was away, traveling, when the news came. When I thought of the Drumf my stomach convulsed with fear and disgust. He had been the demon master of Joten, and oversaw the production of Trolls, those hideous slaves made from the common people. We traveled east; me, Holly, Lorna, Ishmael and Ishytoo with Nonesuch, and we undid the Drumf. He imploded, and the people were set free! Now, it would seem, he is the ruler at Elvenstead; Nonesuch's new ex-boss. Are they making Trolls in Elvenstead? My heart ached at the thought. I remembered our trip there last year with Piffle to perform for King Munchvar and Queen Fairgloe, two beautiful and dignified rulers. What's happened to them? My anxiety was building. How could this happen to a cosmopolitan, and sophisticated society, like Elvenstead? Would we soon again be facing Troll armies?

I watched as Nonesuch carefully rode his waggel down the Main Drive, returning from a trip to Mayday Ranch, one of the Willamette farms or ranches that had been within his jurisdiction. This time he had left with a waggel full of carrots, onions and Oops Cheese, and was bringing back bales of hay and bags of potatoes. Much of the time he acted as more of a trader than an information outlet for the king. And the king encouraged this activity, saying it was good for everybody. At least the old King Munchvar did. King Drumf? I wanted to cry. How could we function with a monster at the helm? And if this was truly the same Drumf, brought back from wherever, then he was a monster indeed. I doubted that he would think of us, and our farm, as anything except his enemies. We did undo him and, as far as I know, Joten is still a free state, so we undid his evil empire as well. But was it still free? I wondered. I mean, if he's running things in Elvenstead, then anything is possible. Anything. I was shaken to the core. It was like all the evil that he's done, and all the evil that was generated by his acts, were rewarded! After years of our fighting and defending from his dark intentions, he ends up with a everything! Like our core beliefs; things like Love, Mindfulness, and Loving Kindness, were meaningless, while his destructive greed and pleasure at the pain of others, were what really mattered, by virtue of their winning in the end. We were devastated, as much at this horrid reality, as by the assault on those things we held to be precious, which this reality represented. There was no consolation.

When Nonesuch arrived, I could tell he already knew. They were quiet and pensive, as he, Jack Ass and the Elves, unloaded the waggel. When they were done, he came over to me, and without saying a word, hugged me. I hugged him back, and we stood like this for some time. Then he whispered to me, “I do love you.” and with a tight squeeze he released me and turned, “See you later.” And he was gone.

 

 

Old Growth

Joe Stedfast was sharpening his axe and saw, unaware that the tree that he had targeted was making its own plans. He had started a good foundation for his cabin, and now just needed a bunch of logs, about that size, he thought, eying the tree. He did not know that this tree was unlike the others. How could he? They all looked alike. Rubbing his palms together, he walked up to the tree, and placed his axe where he intended to strike. Drawing back, he was surprised when the axe came out of his hands, bounced on the ground, hit a rock, and rebounded into his leg, where it gave him a large gash. Swearing, he stumbled back to where he'd left his supplies, and searched his pack for his first aid kit. He pulled his pants down, and poured some whiskey on the cut, near screaming from the pain. Then he wrapped it with strips of cloth, until it stopped bleeding. It had been bleeding profusely, and his torn pants, and shoe, were covered in blood. Pulling his pants back up, he sat on a large rock.

   What rotten luck! He fumed, I'll need a couple days off this leg, and the summer is ending. He cast a worried glance at the sky. Using his axe as a cane, he hobbled back to his camp, and the emerging cabin.

   The tree watched with satisfaction, as Joe left. It had awakened to consciousness last spring, when everything was new and fresh, and life was emergent. It was the first of its kind to awaken from the murky dream of plant life, and looked upon its environment with curiosity. Having watched as many of the moving life forms had passed by peaceably, following their own needs and desires, it was profoundly shocked when a two-legged creature approached it, with murderous intent. Having deflected the murderous tool back onto the creature, it worried, fearing it had not seen the last of it. It called its tenants, some squirrels, and birds, to aid in its, their home's, defense. And they prepared.

   Joe returned a few days later. He'd been to the settlement, and seen a doctor, or what passed for a doctor, and his leg was freshly wrapped. It still hurt like heck, as the 'doctor' had poured more whiskey on it before wrapping it. He knew he had to get his shelter done before winter. He'd gotten a letter from his fiancé back east, and she was eager to join him in the spring. He wrote, and posted a reply, assuring her that all would be in readiness. Now he was ready to get it done.

   Grabbing his axe firmly, to the point of white knuckles, he reared back, and struck, imbedding the axe firmly into the tree, which shook in a curious fashion. Suddenly there was a huge fall of pine needles, and pine cones, and dust, and dirt, that fell from the tree on to his head and shoulders, pushed by the squirrels and birds. Coughing and spitting, he backed up, leaving the axe in the tree, and went over to where he'd left his supplies. Pouring some water from the canteen onto his bandanna, he wiped his face and eyes clean. He sat, and looked at the tree. Something wasn't right here. Looking at his axe it seemed fuzzy, like it was vibrating. He walked back, and upon closer inspection, sure enough, the axe was vibrating. He grabbed the handle tightly, and it almost shook him loose, before he pulled the axe out of the tree.  It resisted, then came out fast, and slipped out of his hands, bounced off the rock, and nearly caught him full in the face. He looked up into the branches, and could see a couple of squirrels running back and forth, throwing anything they could at him, and that the entire tree was vibrating, but seeming to slow down. He backed up, and sat down, watching the tree. Something was definitely going on. With an uneasy feeling, he decided to call it a day, and returned to his camp. That axe had come very close to his head.

   The next morning, he awoke with a sense of unease. He had heard strange screeches, and moans, during the night, and he was loath to return to the tree, but he did. As he approached the tree, he could see it starting to vibrate, as if in trepidation. When he was about two meters from the tree, he stopped. He could see that the wound his axe had inflicted was filled with sap, and starting to harden, like a cut, he mused, like my leg wound is doing. He backed up another meter and sat down. The tree seemed calmer. He looked up into the branches, and could see two squirrels, and a few birds, staring intently at him. At his current three or so meters, he was still under the outer edges of the branches, so he got up and walked further away, until he could see the entire tree at once. The tree seemed still. Deciding not to fool with these strange energies anymore, he returned to his camp, and the next day, he began logging another section of forest, further away, with no ill results.

   He completed his cabin, and surviving the first winter, his fiancé joined him that spring. They were married in the settlement, and started farming their homestead. He forbad his wife, and later his children, to enter that part of the forest, where the tree was, and it became a sacred place for them. Later generations would recount strange happenings there, and it was believed that Fairies, and other earth spirits, dwelt there, and it was considered a sacred place by all. That patch of forest has been protected ever since. Until, that is, a very foolish leader, incapable of understanding, removed its protections, and gave it to the developers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Moon Afternoon

That crystal clarity was so cold,

divine messages left on hold.

We're here to help,

it's why we scold.

You must develop,

you must be bold.

Or so we're told.

 

There's a long cold climb,

to the end of time.

We twist, and tumble, and grind,

each time.

And the timer rings,

oh, you're just fine,

and the choir sings,

it's fine to rhyme!

It's fine, it's fine, it's fine,

each time.

 

Yet still we grumble and groan,

and the movie's not yet shown.

What did you expect,

when nothing's known?

What did you get,

with that ego tone?

And the movie's slow, and slowing,

too soon. Too soon,

it's gone.

My Life At 330 Hz.

Lillow Mi

This is a tale about a magical place called Gladstar Farm, and its denizens: Lillow Mi (half Fæirie /half Witch), Holly Cow, Lorna Loon, Ishmael and Ishytoo (Apes), Suregood Elsewen, Brighter Skyglider (Elves), Jack Ass, Probable Creek, and Jenny Butte.

My Life At 330 Hz.

 

I am the third note on the scale. Do Re Mi mi me! That mi is me, Lillow Mi! And that's an E, and that's roughly 330 Hz. Pretty sure. That's my frequency. As a child, I vibrated in E minor, as a raucous teen I was an E7, and now that I'm old, and wise, I vibrate in a solid E major. And I write music. In the key of E, of course. Here's my song;

A Song in E maj by Lillow Mi:


Lillow SpeaksèEeeee!

 

   In the meadow so merry,

there's Holly Cow and Ishy

tooo-oo-oo-oooo!

Ishmael comes shining,

while Lorna Loon is signing,

like a Loo-ooon! Oooo-ooo!

 

The Witches are casting,

and love is everlasting,

and true-oo-oo-oooo!

We live here with Elves,

and Fæiries that dwell

under the Moo-ooon! Oooo-ooo!

 

It's magic, it's weird,

perhaps it's said Wyrd!

And wyrd is where we belong!

Our adventures are many,

our illusions are zany!

Here, on Gladstar Farm!

 

   Well, as you can see, being an E carries responsibility, and I have tried to be, not just rhythmically responsible, but also, lyrically responsible.

 

   Piffle, which is the singing group on the farm, is made up of Jack Ass singing bass, Ishmael singing bass/baritone, Suregood Elsewen singing Tenor, Brighter Skyglider singing mezzo-soprano, and Lorna Loon singing soprano. Piffle has been performing 'Lillow SpeaksèEeeee!' and the response has been good. So good that Ishmael and I decided to cut a record, and tour.

   Holly Cow seemed surprised when we told her, and asked, “Don't you need more than one song?” 

   Ishmael looked at me, and I looked right back. Yes we do, I thought. “Why uh... yes, I think probably, yes we do.” is what I said, and I looked again at Ishmael, who seemed taken aback.

   “Uh yes.” he said, “Yes of course we do. More than one,” and he cleared his throat.

   No one said anything for a while, and the general chatter resumes. Then Ishmael quietly leaves, and I follow soon after.  I find him at the mid meadow grove.

   “Gosh Lillow I was so excited, I didn't even think of how many songs we had!”

   I nod glumly, “Yeah, me too.” Then I look at him and say, “Well, we'll just have to come up with more songs!” and he gives me a look that says, 'yeah but you're the composer', but I choose not to see it. “Let me know when you have something.” I say, as I walk away. I don't see him roll his eyes.

 

   I didn't have to see to know that he rolled his eyes. I knew. And he was right to roll his eyes. This was on me. I just didn't want to admit it, is all.  Thing is, I didn't have any ideas. 330 Hz is not easy. I decided to go visit Probable Creek.

   “Hey Probable!”

   “Hey Lillow! Happy day! I got the water, I got the flow, and the way is clear, let's go go go!” she sang, bubbling with delight.

   “That's a wonderful song Probable!”

   And she continued to sing;

“The way is clear and my flow is strong,

 there's water! Sweet water to get along!

Stream through the rapids, bubble in the rocks,

there's water, blessed water,

and I'm pulling out the stops!

 

I slosh 'round the corners,

and flash through the straights!

You know this water's gonna

do whatever it takes,

to flow! Flow! Flow!

To Mother Ocean go,

with the flow! Flow! Flow!

   Then the nearby fauna joined in;

Water! Sweet water!

Gonna flow like it ought'er

Sweet water! Sweee-eet water!

 

   The finish was grand, with tweets and honks, and other various sounds. Gosh what a nice song! Later I went up to visit my friend Jenny Butte, a young hillock on the southern edge of the farm. She's young to the mountains, but still millions of years older than I am. Time is very different for her, so when I said hello, it took about half an hour to get a reply.

   “Oh, well hello Lillow!” slow and deep. I heard a rumble, and some vibration in the ground.

 

Oh, the waaa-ay . . . of the hillocks!

   Gosh, she's singing! After about ten minutes, I hear the second line.

We stand in the suuu-un,

   Ten more minutes.

and hold up the treee-ee tops!

   About twenty minutes this time.

Since tiiii-ime . . . begun!

 

   “Gosh that's a nice song!” and I got up to go. I didn't have time for another verse. “Thank you so much for sharing your song, Jenny!” and I head back down the path.

   About halfway down I heard her chuckle, “Anytime Lillow!”

 

   When I get to the mid bridge, I hear Lorna sloshing around, with Probable Creek, and they're playing their float game, and she's singing a Loon song;

 

Well it's swell to be a Loon,

and sing a loony tune,

in the water, in the wet!

 That's what you get,

when you're a Loon,

and you sing a loony tune!

'Cause you're a Loon!

 

Woo Hoooo!  Woo Hooo-ooo-ooo!

That's what you get!

When you sing a loony tune!

In the Water in the wet!

'Cause you're a Loon!

Woo Hooooo!  Woo Hoooo-oo-ooooo!

 

   Then she would laugh, and laugh, splashing in the water, and Probable laughed with her! Gosh, I've heard a lot of really great music today, I mused, as I walked up the mid meadow trail. When I got to Holly's Palatial Estate, I could hear her singing!

 

I eat grass, I eat hay,

I get milked every day!

Hey, hey! The life of a cow is good!

That's what I say,

in the meadow it's good,

just like it should!

And the life of a cow is good!

 

La la! La la!

The life of a cow is good!

 

   She stopped when I came into view, and smiled at me. “Hey Lillow!”

   “Hey Holly! Love your song!”

   “Oh thanks! It's an old cow song my mother taught me.”

   “Well it's lovely. Gosh, I've heard a lot of wonderful music today!” and I couldn't help but think; I need music! I could use the music of the farm. Arrange it for the five voices in Piffle, and there you go.

   “Holly, I got to go. I've just had some great ideas for music!”

   “Go write them down, Lillow!” she said. I smiled at her and waved, as I hurried away. She laughed, and began singing her song again.

 

   That's when I wrote the Glad Farm Chorus. It opens with a rooster serenade to Father Sun, and a moving paean to the Dawn Robin Redbreast, our Goddess. It then moves into the songs of water, and the joy of smooth sailing, along with the songs of the hills, and the dales. Then the Cow and Loon songs of joy lead into the grand finale; Lillow SpeaksèEeee!

   We'll begin touring this spring, so please come hear us, when we're in your town!

   Look for Piffle, singing the Glad Farm Chorus, in E maj.

   Pretty sure.

Miss Wachout

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Carrying a load of anger, she entered the store and began perusing the displays in an airy, offhand manner that seemed contrived, as if she just didn't want to be anywhere at all, thought Flossy as she approached to offer assistance.

   “May I help you?” she asked.

   The woman jumped as if shocked and giving her a forlorn look she answered. “I don't think anyone can help me.” and she gazed off into space whispering, “Not anymore.”

   Flossy immediately felt concerned. She looked so sad, the poor thing. “Are you alright?” she asked realizing that this woman was in fact mirroring her own inner emotions.

   “No. I'm not! And I never will be!” and she turned and stormed out of the store. Feeling helpless Flossy watched as the lady ran across the street, nearly getting hit by a car in her reckless flight. Well there's a lot of that going around she thought thinking of her abusive husband already drunk and angry, and it not yet noon. It's been like this since he lost his last job. Getting worse really. She dreaded the thought of going home at night and put in long days, as long as she could, at the shop. Her husband gave her a vicious beating that night but left her face unblemished like he always does so she returned to work the next day with no sign, just the aches and pains.

   She was stocking a shelf when the lady returned. She seemed more focused today as she walked briskly over to housewares and selected a large chef's knife. Looking at it with a smug look she proceeded to the cashier's station which was empty just then so Flossy hurried over to help her. She rang up the knife and put it into a sack as the woman offered her a credit card. She ran the card noticing that the woman's name was Jezebel W-a-c-h-o-u-t. 

   Handing the card back with the knife in a bag she said, “Thank you Ms. Watch-out.” guessing on the pronunciation.  

   “It's Wahkoot.” the lady said with a sniff and a look of disbelief.

   “Oh, I'm so sorry! Thank you Ms. Wahkoot!”

   “It's Miss!” and she turned and walked briskly out the door and right into traffic where she was promptly hit by a bus which, too late, was screeching to a halt. Horrified Flossy dialed 911 and reported the accident. Two other cars had hit the back of the bus and there was general mayhem in the street. A crowd was gathering on the other side of the bus and soon the sirens announced the ambulance's arrival. There was very little business in the store as everyone was standing watching the grim scene in the street, and Flossy was able to keep up with what was going on. Soon the ambulance drove away without any flashing lights or siren. 

   Oh, my gawd, thought Flossy, that woman has died! And she felt a wave of horrified grief and stood in silent shock for a few minutes. Then shaking her head, she returned to work. She didn't see anything on the news that night about the accident and she would have watched the late news except her husband was drinking again and started screaming at her. When he finally reached a peak in his drunken fury he hit her on the side of the head leaving a rare bruise and she ran back and locked herself in the bedroom.

   The next morning, she returned to work with make-up covering the bruise on the side of her head. She hoped. She was bringing some new stock from the back room when the woman returned carrying a bag. Mary Belle was at the cash register which was good because all Flossy could do was gape in amazement. And a dawning sense of horror. She watched as Mary Belle accepted the bag and looking at the receipt began to ring up the return. The woman turned and looked right at Flossy with a knowing smile. It is her! thought Flossy. It's Miss Wahkoot! Who could forget! And she started feeling very light headed and returned to the back room and sat down.

   She was still sitting when Mary Belle walked in carrying the damaged knife.

   “Jeez would you look at this!” she exclaimed holding the knife up. “I've never seen a new knife get this messed up before ever!” and looking at Flossy, “Looks like it's been hit by a truck!” and she walked over and set it on the desk to deal with later and looking back at Flossy, “I had to replace it. Lifetime guarantee you know.” and she shook her head. “Well it's starting to get busy up front if you're near done with your break” and she turned and walked out. Flossy sat for a minute more then got up and followed her out. It was a busy afternoon and she buried herself in her work for the rest of the day not taking any more breaks and not giving Miss Wachout another thought.

   That night when she returned home she found her husband dead on the floor with a bright new knife sticking out of his chest, just like the one from the store. He'd been dead for several hours, so her alibi was tight. He had apparently been trying to fix a sandwich while drunk and had tripped onto the knife which penetrated his heart so that he'd died instantly. His prints were the only ones on the knife but Flossy knew that they'd not had a new knife in years. She didn't say anything though.  She got a nice insurance settlement and moved to a new city. 

 

 

 

 

 

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