A Taradiddle: The Dog Tales #4 - By Lillow Mi 

Howlers Will Howl 

    It was a dark and stormy night and the moon was full. Spike was out back howling with Alley and his friend Rover when Fido first arrived. Fido appeared between lightning flashes and seemed to glow in the light of the moon, whenever it showed through the violently roiling clouds. You could hear banshees and angry ghosts wailing all around, like being inside a tornado. Spike loved this kind of weather and stood tall, his long Sugfissel tail flapping in the wind, howling with raucous gusto. Alley, who usually sat on top of the wall for these howlfests now sat in a protected spot against it, keeping out of the wind, watching, and adding a yowl from time to time. Being a black Cat he was somewhat difficult to see but you could hear him okay. Rover stood baying his soulful renditions beside and a little back from Spike, keeping his eyes closed against the wind but opening them wide whenever a lightning flash occurred. It was amazing! But all that glorious symphonic howling stopped when Fido appeared. Even the wind stopped and a lightning flash fizzled out halfway down. Now the full moon showed her face, thrusting the simpering clouds aside and making Fido really glow. 

   “Hello,” Fido said quietly. He could be heard now that all the racket, er symphonic harmonies have quieted.   

   Spike, who'd been leaning into the wind, had fallen over when it quit and was now standing up brushing himself off. He was scowling but stopped when he saw how much Fido was glowing. “Who're you?” he asked. Then looking around, “And what happened to our storm?” 

   Fido smiled. He was a small unassuming Dog of Scottish descent and his smile was engaging. “I'm Fido from beyond way over there and I couldn't help but notice your storm and its curious sounds.” He looked around. “It's a calm moonlit night everywhere but here, yet you're all howling up a storm. I just had to look. Why was it stormy?” 

   Spike shrugged, “I dunno. Just seems to happen when we howl.” 

   “It's part of our charm,” Alley added from the darkness. 

   “How come you glow?” Rover asked. 

   “It's part of my charm,” Fido answered smiling, “but really, I don't know. Maybe we all glow in moon light?” 

   “Wow, that's cool!” Alley said, sticking his paw out into the moonlight and watching it glow. 

   “Yeah, guesso,” Spike said sadly as the clouds dissipated. “But can ya howl?” 

   Fido smiled, stood tall and throwing his head back let loose a howl of flowing beauty with hints of pleading angst intermixed with joie de vivre and the triumph of victory. A soft breeze swirled around, dancing lightly to his howl while his glow seemed to increase. Everyone watched with wide eyes and gaping jaws. When he was done, he sat down and smiled. 

   “Yeah, guessat's okay,” Spike murmured with a worried look. 

   “Oh my gosh!” Alley purred, “That was fabulous! Best howl I've heard . . .” He stopped at Spike's angry look. “I mean it was swell. Not, of course, what we're used to, but uh, it was okay.” He ended with an encouraging smile. 

    Rover just watched, standing back with a concerned look. 

   “So can I join your howl?” Fido asked. 

   Alley was grinning and nodding yes as Spike answered, “Well, I dunno. We are professionals after all. Can't just take on anyone 'at comes along. I mean . . .” 

   “Sounded pretty good to me,” Rover said from the side. Spike looked over with a surprised look. “Real nice actually,” Rover continued, glancing at Alley who seemed pleasantly pleased and was nodding yes. 

   “Real nice?” Spike said quietly. He was realizing that Fido had sounded good. Real good. “Well, okay then,” he continued gruffly. “I guess you can join us.” Then he stuck his head up, “But always remember, I'm the boss. The head howler, you hear?” 

   “Of course,” Fido said, grinning wide. “You're the leader.” Spike briefly looked embarrassed but when the howl continued it was the most beautiful and least disturbing howl they'd ever done.        

Politics - By Lillow Mi 

   “There never was a solid border, you see, and that's why all the confusion, really,” Miss Mars said with a worried look. “It was just that people were going from everyday reality to magical illusion simply by walking along. No signs, you know. Nothing to let 'em know.”  Inspector Widefoot nodded wisely, jotting in his notebook. “I mean you gotta warn 'em, don't ya?” she finished. 

   “Well, yeah,” a Dwarf standing behind them muttered. “'Course ya do. Jess plain common sense anyhow. I mean you coming to a rocky patch, why, you warn 'em.” Miss Mars nodded agreement. 

   Inspector Widefoot looked up from his pad, eyebrows high. “Well, yes,” he replied, smiling, “simple enough really. You just find the border, a border that is always moving as you'll recall, sometimes normal, sometimes magical and then you put up a sign.” He smiled as the Dwarf scowled and Miss Mars looked confused. 

   “Can't you just attach it to the border?” Miss Mars asked. “So that it stays wherever the border goes?” Inspector Widefoot regarded her with wide eyes that slowly became thoughtful. The Dwarf spit on the ground and walked away. 

   Inspector Widefoot jotted a note then slapped his notebook shut. “I shall look into this Miss Mars,” he said with a determined expression. They both gazed in the direction the unsuspecting traveler had gone. A confused looking duck gazed back at them. 

   That duck was a human once, strolling along on his own private business, thank you, when he stepped on something squishy. He knew immediately he had done a bad thing, a really bad thing seeing the magical border whipping around like in a windstorm so he was not terribly surprised to find himself transformed into a duck. He'd known this was disputed borderland so he should have been more careful he berated himself, but it could be worse, he thought. All he had to do was step in that pile again and it would put him right. 

   Then the magical border disappeared, off somewhere else it would seem and he was left a duck. He looked over at what he'd stepped in and saw a large dropping from some animal, likely, that was not only disgusting, but no longer magically imbued. Miss Mars gave him a sad look and with a shake of her head walked away. He wiped the muck off his foot as best he could (curious things these duck feet) then followed Inspector Widefoot back to his headquarters, wondering what he might discover. There seemed no other course available. 

   Widefoot strutted into the headquarters building like a triumphant king entering his palace. Various secretaries and junior detectives suddenly became noticeably busier. 

   “Hardly and Widefoot! Into my office,” he called as he strolled importantly through the desks of his outer office and staff. Chester Widefoot, Detective Chief Inspector Widefoot that is (boss) had been criticized for hiring his son but claimed he didn't know that Chester Widefoot Jr. was his son. He seemed surprised when the similarities of name and family resemblance were pointed out, totally ignoring the woman who claimed to be his wife and Chester Junior's mother. He told the investigators that it was all poppycock, then he waved his hands mysteriously, saying, “Nothing untoward here. No nepotism here. Look away, look away.” And the investigators did just that, so that now Detective Widefoot Jr. is an up and coming member of Chief Inspector Widefoot's staff. His parents are so proud.     

   Chief Inspector Widefoot sat at his desk, sipping the coffee that one of his secretaries had left for him and rustled papers, a practice perfected from his own rookie detective days. Junior was the first to arrive followed quickly by Detective Olive Hardly, a promising young newbie like Junior except she probably wasn't the Chief Inspector's daughter. 

   “Curious case has come up with the magical border over in the disputed lands,” Chief Inspector Widefoot started. “Got another tourist turned into an animal, duck this time, rather routine I'm afraid, but what is interesting is an idea that I had when I was looking into it.” He looked around smugly. “See, I thought, well, why don't we just attach a sign to the border so that whenever the border moved the sign would move with it.” 

   “Brilliant!” Widefoot Jr. exclaimed. 

   “Sounds plausible,” Detective Hardly muttered as she jotted in her own notebook. “I'll get the department wizards on it immediately.” She snapped her notebook shut and walked away. 

   Later at the wizard's place, after the wizards had pretty much finished laughing at her, the head wizard explained, “See here detective, this problem is millions of years old and every possible solution has been thought of and tried already, many of them two or three times.” 

   Detective Hardly looked surprised then turned and stepped away, muttering, “DCI Widefoot isn't going to like this.” 

   “That disputed border's always been a headache,” Miss Mars, who just happened to be near, uttered sadly. “Looks like it's gonna stay that way now,” she finished with a sigh. 

   “It's been a real problem in my family,” said the duck, a familiar looking, though it's hard to tell with ducks, duck who also just happened to be near. 

   “Widefoot isn't gonna like this at all,” Detective Hardly repeated with a worried look as she left the wizard's place. Miss Mars and the duck followed. When they got to headquarters Detective Hardly pushed quickly in and they stood outside wondering what would happen next. Soon Chief Inspector Widefoot appeared and seeing them he stopped. 

   Clearing his throat and looking as dignified and important as he could, he spoke, “Ahem. I'm sorry to inform you, Miss Mars, but your fanciful idea about signs being attached to borders is the complete poppycock that I always thought it was, from the first, although, for your sake, I submitted it anyway.” He sniffed, shaking his head sadly as Miss Mars and the duck watched, expressionless. “They said no, of course, said it couldn't be done, silly idea really, so from now on we'll have no more foolishness on my watch! You understand? No ma'am, no more foolishness at all, by golly.” With that he strutted away, followed by Detective Widefoot Jr. and Detective Hardly who both sneered at her as they passed. No one noticed that the duck had already left. 

   Later that afternoon the magical border was back, moving slowly across the disputed lands with a rather obvious warning sign attached to it and moving along with it. A duck followed behind the sign and when it crossed a pile of something nasty that someone had stepped in earlier, why he just walked over and put his foot right in it and hey, presto, zap! There stood an ex-unsuspecting traveler who smiled brightly and walked away.

A Taradiddle: The Dog Tales #3 - By Lillow Mi 

   I'm a Hound Dog and my job is 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 often 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 receiving Bad Dog warnings. I remained, nonetheless, primarily 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's main activities were 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. Fortunately he was also a darn good howler. 

   Diligence is a trait we shared and over time my barking and howling, along with Spike's eating, howling 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, Dog Planet and more! 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, I mean we were big! We were recognized everywhere we went. 

   But the group finally broke up due to irreconcilable differences. Ishytoo and Alley just did not like Dog biscuits anymore. Dog biscuits were an understandable staple in the Doggone Three's menu. We got 'em everywhere we went. But 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 where neither would even touch a Dog biscuit! What manner of beings are these? Spike and I are seriously confused, and Sweet Loretta's with us on this, I mean, how could anybody not like Dog biscuits?

A Taradiddle: The Dog Tales # 2 - By Lillow Mi 

A New Farmer – A Cat arrives 

      It was early summer and the meadow was wearing her warmest and most vibrant hues. We sat entranced and beguiled, savoring each sweet moment. I knew the afternoon would be hot, but not too hot, and though the humidity was high from the recent rains, I foresaw a very pleasant day unfolding. Everything was so perfect, in fact, that I became uneasy. It seemed too perfect. So I was not surprised when I saw the famous Darnalong, Windigale Ossep, prancing down the mid-meadow trail. I heard Ishmael snort, stand up and walk away. He and Windy do not get along. I watched as he proceeded south toward Probable Creek then I turned to watch Windy's arrival from the opposite direction.  

   “Oh Lillow!” she gushed, walking up, “This is such a lovely spot and you all look so content and happy here!” I heard Holly exhale sharply and Lorna's feather's ruffle. Windy, besides being overweening has a reputation for bringing bad, sometimes horrific news, and few are glad to see her, or any Darnalong for that matter, which is an effect that all Darnalongs are curiously blind to. Yet she has brought us news that we'd needed to hear in the past, so we've always grinned and bore it, so to speak. And in spite of everything, I did like Windy. 

   “Hi Windy!” I answered, smiling at her. “Yes, it is a lovely spot and a beautiful day! Come sit with us.” I pointed to a nearby chair, amid desultory “Hi Windy's” from Holly and Lorna. 

   “Yes, yes hello,” Windy chirped as she sat down. “Lillow, I have seen the most amazing thing!” Being the sort, she leapt to her feet again and facing me, began doing a sprightly little jig. “I've seen the most  amazing thing! An amazing thing Lillow, why I don't believe I've ever seen such an amazing thing, not ever, not ever before!” She stood still for a moment, looking away. “Not that I can remember anyway. Well maybe that Dust Devil … ” Then, looking back at me, “No, this tops that! Really, you just won't believe it!” 

   “Windy! What is it?” I'm always surprised when Lorna speaks up like that. 

   “Yeah, what is it?” I add. 

   “Well I must say! I've never heard such ingratitude coming from the possible recipients of fabulous news!” Windy snarled, looking first at Lorna, then me and finally Holly. We all wore innocent expressions, as was our right. 

   That was when I noticed another odd figure coming down the mid-meadow trail. It seemed to be entirely black and walked on all fours like Holly does. It walked serenely, languorously swaying, its tail held upright from its behind. By now we're all watching, Windy's 'fabulous news' gone to a back burner. 

   I knew what this creature was and I stared in fascination as well as vexation. It was a cat and I knew I'd been remiss in not including cats, er I mean Cats, in my stories. One Cat at least, I thought with a pang. The Cat, who wore a pointed hat with the sides folded up between black, pointed ears, had arrived and, sitting down on its haunches, began licking its forepaw. It seemed unconcerned at our gaping. Then it stopped licking and holding its foot in place, looked up at me with a wide smile. 

   “Lillow, I've been reading your stories and I am shocked that not once, in a story about Witches no less, that not once have you mentioned or even alluded to the presence of a basic and most necessary member of any Witch's entourage, that being, of course,” it lowered its foot, “the humble Cat.” Its chest seemed to swell. “Well known for their prestigious work as familiars, Cats are also invaluable and loving companions.” It briefly looked at Holly and Lorna out the sides of slitted eyes. Then, looking back at me with a guileless expression, it continued, “We are generously endowed with soft, shiny, and eminently pet-able fur.” Its shoulders swayed, like an invisible hand was gliding down its back. I stared in awe. What an astonishing performance! It lifted its head, and gazing at me past long lashes, it asked, “Why Lillow? Why no Cats?” 

   I didn't know what to say. I heard Windy snort then mutter, “Well, the nerve.” I looked at her. 

   Looking back at me with indignantly stricken eyes, she whispered, “That was my fabulous news, Lillow. That, that thing there, who I saw first remember, that was my fabulous news.” I watched a tear form in her eye then roll to the ground. 

   “Gosh, I'm sorry Windy. I guess you just didn't have time?” I offered. 

   “No Lillow.” She's speaking louder now, “I had more than enough time. It was just that Ishmael …” She looked around as if just realizing that Ishmael wasn't here. 

   “Ahem!” the Cat said, looking sternly at us. “Please ladies, if you would be so kind as to keep your squabbling to your own time?” It paused, then smiling it stood and spread its arms wide, “Can you not see? I have arrived!” Windy backed up a step, frowning fiercely.  

   “Gosh, I'm sorry Cat,” I said, honestly feeling remorse, “there were just never any Cats around when I was writing.” 

   “I'm here now.” 

   “And you're in a story now. It's this story, the story about how you arrived. What's your name?” 

    Returning to four feet, it padded closer, with willowy movements and smiling face. “I am called Alexander. After Alexander the Great, and my middle name is Winnefred (win-ferd) after Winnefred the Great and my other middle name is Cornelius ...” He paused. 

   “After Cornelius the Great?” I asked, feeling clever. 

   His eyebrows shot up, “Why no! Gracious sakes no, now why would you think that?”  

   “Oh!” I was surprised. “I just thought that since the first two were great and I'd never heard of Winnefred or ...” 

   “No, no no, oh my no!” he uttered with a wounded look. I thought his histrionics were reminiscent of Windy’s and looking around I realized she was gone. With a huff Alexander continued, “Winnefred was in fact great and many thought him the greatest of all,” he gave me a sly look, “in Cat Land.”  

   Well, of course. I'll admit I do not know the greats in Cat Land, so I nodded my acceptance, saying, “Well okay then. Winnefred the Great. And Cornelius?” 

   “Ah Cornelius. Mum just liked the name and threw it in.” He smiled, sitting again on his haunches, and waving his tail.  

   “Well I'm glad to meet you Alexander Winnefred Cornelius Cat. I guess you know our names from reading the stories?” 

   “Indeed I do, Lillow Mi.” Then looking at each and tipping his head, he said, “Lorna, Holly.” 

   “Hello Alexander Winn ...” Holly began. 

   “You can call me Alley,” he interrupted. 

   “Hello Alley!” they both chimed in. And that is how Ally Cat came to the farm. 

 

A Taradiddle: The Dog Tales #1 - By Lillow Mi 

I have been writing stories (taradiddles) about the Dogs on the farm and have amassed fifteen so far in a collection that I call the Dog Tales. I have put some on Facebook but I would like to present the entire collection here now, three at a time, in their correct order. The first is about our hero Spike's interesting life and his arrival on the farm. Next is Alley Cat's arrival and number three is about the group Howl that Spike orchestrates. I hope you enjoy them.  

A Taradiddle – the Dog Tales # 1

Spike – A Dog arrives 

   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 yet slightly known 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 have very little freedom in the mythical world of commerce and technology, 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 magical ability, which must remain unbeknownst to us as well. At least until Spike finds out about it. Then we'll see.    

   Not knowing the magical realms, Spike entered at a random spot and found himself beside a small creek. Following the creek downstream he passed through a rather frightening 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. 

   Spike could tell it had not been long since Fæiries had danced here, there being lots of glitter and sparkle about. On the other side of the Fæirie Ring he could see some fairly fresh piles of jeewizium tucked in corners and under ledges the way it does. He wondered if there were any dimensional travelers around to use it. Seemed odd to let it just lay there, even though most people can't even see it or use it. Haven't seen any jeewizium in a long, long time, he mused, enjoying the flashes and colorful auras that surrounded jeewizium. They were playing nicely with the glitter and sparkle of the Fæirie Ring. 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. He wondered if someone would come around to collect the jeewizium and decided to wait awhile. 

   After sitting for a time, 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 first, “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 announced, glancing over at the creek. 

   “Oh. Probable Creek is it? It’s beautiful,” he said. “You live here?” 

   “Yeah. I'm the soprano with Piffle, who you've no doubt heard of. Big deal in these parts, so I am quite a . . .” 

   “What's Piffle?” 

   Lorna gazed at him through narrowed eyes for a moment before murmuring, “Oh it’s just some singing group.” 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 heard of it so I . . .” 

   “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.” He promptly sat down. “Oh, and I can fetch. Throw a stick!” he prompted. 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-huh,” she nodded. “You better come with me Spike.” She started toward the perimeter trail. 

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

   She stopped abruptly, “You can see jeewizium?” 

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

   “Uh, no. I can't see it. Thanks for pointing it out,” she answered, walking around the spot he'd pointed to. 

   “Hey, no problem. That stuff's dangerous and I know of others who can't see it, so I speak up. Or bark up 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 is Holly?” 

   “Holly Cow. We'll be going 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, “Its 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 the front lawn became visible and 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 grin and nod at Ishytoo. He was wagging his tail and with a smile added, “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 troublesome 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. Also, I am part of a multi-dimensional creature, Sugfissel by name. My understanding is that I'm the stomach and tail of Sugfissel so I have a nice appetite and a vigorous tail wag.” He smiled proudly. 

   “He can see jeewizium too,” Lorna said with a happy smile. She looked at me, “Oh, by the way, there's some down at the Fæirie Ring right now.”  

   I nodded thanks to Lorna for letting me know about the jeewizium then looked at Spike 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, a place where I can stay in peace,” he answered. “I'm homeless and unattached, both of which I have found to be unsuitable.” 

   “Gosh. Well you could stay with us, see what you think. It’s safe and secure and if you like it you could stay permanent,” 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 I would like to stay awhile.” Wagging his tail he asked, “Can I have a biscuit?”

At the Damfaster Master Caster Class, A Taradiddle - By Lillow Mi 

A Taradiddle 

At the Damfaster Master Caster Class 

   “If one ever hopes to become adept at flying a Damfaster Sports Broom, then one must always go in the right direction. The training for this attainment begins early, right after birth or within sixty or so years of it, first by walking, always in the right direction of course, and on your feet, which is the right goal for most crawlers. Once right walking is achieved, advancement is rapid, first by short hops, like a bicycle or skateboard would do, being careful of course, to always go in the right direction. Then by running and flying, especially by flying learner brooms, you know, those brooms with the little broom attached to the side. Again, choose directions wisely. Listen to the squawk of this Old Thang over here and go in the right direction, for gosh sakes.”    

   This Old Thang stopped her lecture and sat down, feeling world-weary as she eyed the meager group gathered before her. Four today; two Bright Eyed and eager to learn, one reeking of Privilege and disdain and one who watched her curiously, then gazed into space, then watched her again then closed his eyes and slumped over, apparently asleep. Then he'd jerk upright and repeat it all again. Now she watched as he dropped off to sleep for the third time. 

   One of the Bright-Eyed Pupils raised her hand, “Miz Old Thang, how do you know which way is right?” 

    “Ahh,” she said, standing. “Now that's the question, isn't it?” She strolled across the room and stopping in front of Sleeping Pupil she clapped her hands together above his head. There was a loud crack, much louder than one would expect, and Sleeping Pupil immediately jerked upright, giving her a curious look. 

   “You know, of course,” she continued, “that 'right' in this context does not refer to the opposite of left, nor does it necessarily mean the opposite of wrong, except it does generally work out that way. It definitely does not refer to the political belief of preserving and elevating class privilege. So, how do you know the right way?” She'd started pacing casually in front of the class, but now she stopped, standing squarely in front of Sleeping Pupil again, himself oblivious, gazing off into space.        

   “So how do you know, Sleeping Pupil?” she demanded loudly, hands on hips and glaring intently at him. 

   Sleeping Pupil gave this Old Thang a vacant look, becoming increasingly droopy eyed until, ker-plop! He fell asleep. 

   This Old Thang sat down again, wondering how to explain it. “See here,” she continued, “it isn't about making choices, it's about being. I think you all want to be better people, right?” She stood and looked questioningly at Privilege, who was involved with her nails and appeared unaware of this Old Thang's attention. This Old Thang spoke again, with feeling, “Flying a Damfaster is an accordance with nature!” Sleeping Pupil woke and sat up, watching her with curiosity as she spoke. She continued, “But not in defiance of one's own nature, for everything is a part, and it all functions nicely, as long as it's right.” She smiled at them. “When these principles are diligently applied the right course becomes pretty much anything that sustains and furthers the Great Wheel of Life.” 

   Sleeping Pupil said, “Sounds like transformation with a do-no-harm positive bias.” 

   “Yep,” this Old Thang whispered. “Yep, that's about it alright.” 

   Privilege spoke up, “The only good change is that which makes me richer.” 

   This Old Thang smiled sadly at her while the two Bright Eyed Pupils seemed to be considering what Privilege had said. Sleeping Pupil was staring into space as the gong sounded and the class ended.   

   “Tomorrow we fly!” this Old Thang yelled at their departing backs. She had to grin thinking of Privilege riding a Damfaster. When the door closed, she laughed out loud.  

Going To Shwarga 

               I've come to a crossing but I see it's three way, something I didn't expect, leaving me facing two choices, one right and one wrong. I whipped out my map. Uh-huh, mmm, just as I thought. There's no fork in the path here. Not supposed to be anyway. My feeling is if it's not on the map then it doesn't exist, so I was stymied. I sat down. I was told that this was the path to Shwarga, which is where I wanted to go and that this map would take me there. 

   As I sat pondering an old hag dressed in black and wearing a tall pointed hat appeared. She was in fact the stereotypical image of a witch and I gaped in surprise. 

   “You sitten' on the crossroad girl. You come for me?” she asked in a low and feeble sounding voice. 

   “No ma'am,” I answered. “I'm trying to find Shwarga.” I looked at the two paths and pointed at them, “You know which one of these paths'll get me there?” 

   “Why it's the High Road, dearie,” she sang out. When I looked back, she was gone. I did a complete circle but she was nowhere to be seen. That was kind of creepy. I looked at my two choices again and realized I didn't know for sure which two they were as all three looked alike and I had just spun around. There definitely wasn't one that seemed higher than the others or different in any other way. I sat down again. 

   After a while, a red man appeared. Like the hag I did not see his approach. He was crimson red with short horns and a tail that was pointed on the end. He was smiling at me with a hungry look. 

   “What is your greatest wish?” he asked. He began hopping back and forth and I realized his bottom part was like a goat and that he had hooves. 

   “My greatest wish?” I stammered. I hadn't expected any of this. “I was just trying to get to Shwarga.” 

   He scowled at me and pointed to a path. I faced the path and when I looked back, he was gone. Just like the hag but this time I didn't spin around, just stood facing the indicated path. Looking back again, I shrugged and proceeded down the path.   

   I had gone for quite a ways when I saw something that seemed familiar. A small grassy knoll with an apple tree on top. I had sat under the shade of an apple tree just like this earlier, going the other way. I could see a spot that looked like it had been sat on recently and nearby, exactly as I'd left it, was an apple core someone had tossed there. I looked around with a bad feeling. I was becoming increasingly aware that I've been going in the wrong direction. I reached up and pulled an apple from the tree then sat in the spot, each movement reinforcing my deja vu. I ate the apple, throwing the core over with my earlier core and rested for a while. I put a couple apples in my pack then headed back the way I had come.      

   When I got to the crossroad, I scratched big exes on either side of the path I had arrived on. Okay, I thought, I won't be going that way again. I turned and now I was faced again with my original choice between two paths. I sat down facing them. It was starting to get dark so I pulled my blanket out of my pack along with a sandwich and one of the apples that I'd brought from the tree. I ate the sandwich and apple, tossing the core behind me. I decided to sleep between the two unknown paths across from where I sat. When I walked over, I noticed that the spot wasn't quite as smooth as on the other side but my intuition told me to stay and I listened. I slept with my head facing the path I'd arrived on. I was surprised to find that the uneven ground conformed nicely to my body and I slept well.  

   I was awakened just before dawn by a light drizzle of rain that was slowly getting heavier. I sat up and quickly rolled my blanket, grabbed my pack and ran to a nearby thicket of trees just as a fairly heavy downpour began. I sat under their protection while it rained, taking frequent catnaps to help while away the time. It rained until about midday, sometimes quite hard, but I managed to stay fairly dry. When it finally stopped, I walked over to the crossroad and was shocked to find that the rain had washed away the exes I'd scratched in the ground. The three paths all looked alike again and I groaned with despair. I was ready to give up and return to where I'd started if I just knew which way that was. I was loath to do that though as I knew my family, who I haven't seen in a long time, awaited me in Shwarga. I sat, contemplating my dilemma. I still had a couple apples that I'd brought from the tree and I pulled out another and ate it, thankful that I'd thought to bring them.   

   When I finished, I tossed the core across from where I sat. I looked at it for a moment, then got up and walked over to where it lay. From there I started walking a large circle, keeping the crossroad at the center. I soon came across yesterday's apple core half buried in the mud which meant that my way was in the opposite direction, as I clearly remembered tossing it behind me. 

   I was so thrilled at figuring this out that I didn't give my dilemma another thought. In joy and appreciation, I gazed at the two paths facing me without actually seeing them. I was happy and grateful just to be here. As I focused, I looked again at the paths ahead. Both paths seemed equally bright and promising, but as I stared the path on the left began to glow just a little brighter. I looked closer and now, somehow now, it was becoming the apparent high road. I eagerly followed it as it rose higher and higher until I reached Shwarga. And there, just past the large gates, stood my family home. Going inside I met my family, smiling and welcoming me home.       

Meadowcentric, A Taradiddle - By Lillow Mi 

Part Four 

   We were lost on a strange planet in another galaxy and were just about to turn back when my voice, somehow controlled by the beings here, transmitted another message asking us to wait for someone or something that wanted to talk. So, we waited, sitting for quite a while, even napping at times. There was little change except the giant greenish tinted sun had set, and another large blue star had risen. A medium sized yellow sun was approaching the horizon. The surrounding country went through astonishing transformations with each new color. The blue light especially, showing huge blue glowing columns that jutted up here and there. They were invisible without the blue light and I think insubstantial as well. I saw a large flock, or is it herd? Well anyway, a large group of black dots that approached and stopped a ways from us. Then one disconnected from the group and came over, hovering a few meters in front of us. From out of nowhere a small bush appeared and began spinning, throwing off dark multi-colored streamers that dissolved after about a meter. Then a screen appeared, like a liquid movie screen and it showed a mushroom become a ball and start rolling. It rolled and rolled, always right at the camera, or whatever was recording this, until with a loud ringing tone and a pop the screen disappeared and there sat a red ball that quickly became a mushroom, standing as though it was looking at us. I think. 

   My other-controlled voice spoke, saying, “Greetings at them. We are glibbel, then glibbel can be.” There instantly appeared a forest of mushrooms in every color, some with polka dots, some with stripes and some of a solid color that changed every so often. “Zurssel be,” my voice continued and five bushes marched over and began circling in front of us, all spinning and throwing off streamers of color. Then rapturously I yelled, “Gliggits! Gligorats! Glibbel!” I didn't know what I was saying but I felt like I was saying it quite well, certainly with passion. I could see my friends watching me with round eyes. Suddenly I felt very tired and sat down. All the strange things around us slowly started drifting away, bit by bit until we were alone in an endless glass-like plain dotted with weird blue columns. Soon the yellow sun set and there was just the large blue star giving its scant light and other stars appeared in the distance. It seemed darker and gradually we fell asleep.       

   I dreamed as I have never dreamed before and always of the meadow. I kept waking up in agitation, and I noticed the others were restless as well. Each time I'd fall asleep the dreams would start, sometimes continuations of earlier dreams, but always and from every conceivable angle, about the farm and especially about the meadow. I saw mom and the Witches thinking of us and fruitlessly trying to find us in their crystal balls and tomes. I awakened to such a pang of homesickness that I nearly swooned and sat up, no longer interested in sleeping. 

   Ishmael was behind me and now he spoke, “Can't sleep Lillow?” I was too logy to be startled and shook my head no. “Me neither,” he continued. “Can't stop thinking about the meadow and the farm.” 

   “Yeah, me too,” came from several voices, including mine. I could see the giant green-tinted sun rising on the horizon just as the blue star was setting. Dozens of blue columns that were standing around us slowly disappeared. 

   “Well,” I said loud enough for everyone to hear, “it seems to me we need to get back. Something in us is pulling us back and pulling strong.” There were sounds of agreement. I looked at the rising green sun, trying to remember where it had set last night, and determined a reasonable direction to go in order to find the crystal ring. We set off resolutely, motivated in our cause. I think we'd all figured that we weren't learning anything about this galaxy and that perhaps we weren't even able to, it being too different and too distant. Right now, all I know is it's totally strange, almost I think, stupidly strange and that was pretty much it. I was ready to go home. 

   After walking for hours, we sat down to rest. Around us was nothing but flat featureless plain. I couldn't see any signs of the hills or the huge chunks of crystal we'd circled around coming in and I had a bad feeling that we were going the wrong way. I was hiding it though so that the others wouldn't worry. 

   “We're lost, huh Lillow?” Tink asked, with a worried look. 

   “Gosh, Tink. I think we . . .” 

   “Lillow, I just discovered that my flying spell doesn't work here,” Holly announced, walking up to us before I could finish answering Tink. 

   Lorna spoke from my other side, “It's so dry here Lillow. There's no water anywhere, you notice that? No water. I mean, how can that be?” 

   “We are lost, aren't we?” Nonesuch asked, looking over Tink's head at me.  

   I looked at him with a blank face, “Yes.” I felt overwhelmed. 

   “I knew it,” Gladlee hissed at Tink, who was looking at me with a stricken expression.  

   “I don't know what to do,” I continued, feeling hopeless. “I'm open to any suggestions or ideas you might have.” I looked around hopefully, but no one responded. 

   Then my other-controlled voice spoke. “You must orange, go way.” My arm lifted of its own accord and loosely pointed. When my arm dropped, we took off in the direction indicated without another word. After quite a ways we came to a mushroom forest and stopped, wondering what to do next. I noticed a large orange sun was rising on the horizon and gradually, just past the mushroom forest, a circle of orange crystal began to appear. We walked toward it slowly, realizing that it became more substantial as the sun rose. We wanted it to be solid when we got there and it was. The jeewizium glowed softly in its center. I was overjoyed to see it, and together, hands, wings, etcetera, joined, we stepped into the orange crystal circle. 

Part five 

   We'd finally found the orange crystal circle with the jeewizium and together we stepped onto it. The passage was definitely different this time. We barely heard or saw the chaotic colors before we entered a giant swirling maelstrom that seemed to be circling a vortex at its center. The vortex had a bright beam of light coming out of it while everything else was whirling in. I didn't like the looks of this but could see no way of altering our course. In a very short time, we arrived at the vortex and with a ker-plump we fell in. 

   We were floating downward in a thick, viscous material that was invisible yet strongly felt. I could see the others and we all seemed to be moving in slow motion. There was no sound at all. I was surprised to have no trouble breathing but no matter how I twisted I could not see where we were going. After a long while we landed with a thump on a wooden surface, having suddenly been ejected from the slow-motion area. The air seemed normal and I could see that we were on the deck of a boat at sea, with no sight of land in any direction. I said, “Gee Whiz.” and I heard the others saying it too. 

   The deck rocked slowly on the waves, and I had a sense of emptiness, like there was no one on this boat but us. I checked to make sure we were all present then we decided to explore the boat. The others teamed up and went in several directions, each drawn by different concerns. Ishmael and I headed for what I believed was the bridge and found it empty, as I'd expected, although I still felt let down seeing it so. I walked over to the tables looking for charts or any kind of clue about what this boat was or where we were, while Ishmael searched the rest of the bridge, but we found nothing. The logbook was blank, apparently waiting for its first entry. 

   I stood behind the giant wheel used for steering and gazed ahead at the endless ocean. Like looking across that endless plain on the Mushroom planet. Golly I was getting a little tired of these endless horizons. The others were exploring the rest of the boat which was quite large with several decks. There was a lever by the side of the wheel and looking closer I saw a small chart that had a dot, then an arrow pointing forward, then two arrows pointing forward then three. The lever was set at the dot and I nudged it forward into the single arrow spot. Immediately the boat began moving. 

   Ishmael walked over and looking out the front window asked, “So, uh, where we going?” 

   “Dunno,” I replied, “but it seems better than just sitting there.”      

    Then Tink came fluttering in, “Lillow, I've been to the highest place on the boat and there's no sight of land in any direction.” 

   I nodded, unsure how to respond. “Thanks, Tink.” 

   Then Lorna, Holly and Gladlee arrived. “We looked around below deck,” Holly said. “The boat's for sure empty but it's very interesting down there. Doesn't seem to be any labels on the doors, so we just barged in and sorta figured it out as we went.” 

   “Looks like it might be a cross between a passenger ship and a freighter,” Lorna added. “Didn't see any sign of an engine or fuel tanks, so I don't know how we're moving.” 

   “Comfortable cabins and a marvelous kitchen with a well stock larder,” Gladlee continued. “I don't know what the food is though, because it's all unlabeled but it sure looks delicious.” 

   “Doesn't seem to be any writing of any kind here,” I said. “Just symbols like this.” I pointed at the arrows by the lever. 

   Ishmael looked at the symbols then looked outside. The sea was calm and the sky was blue. “Let's try three arrows, Lillow.” 

   I looked around. Ishmael sat down while everyone else had found a chair and we all seemed pretty secure. “Okay you guys,” I said loudly. “We're gonna crank this baby up, so hang on.” I pushed the lever forward, hearing a click at two and another at three arrows. There was a low thrumming noise and the front of the ship lifted and I could feel the push of high acceleration. The ship was soon skimming the tops of the waves, bouncing lightly like a flat pebble bounced across a pond. Looking ahead I could only see where we were going when the ship did a down bob. My chair, like the others, was bolted down and I swiveled around to look out the back window and saw a huge frothy wake, way too fast for a water skier I thought. 

   “Everybody okay?” I called out. I got affirmative responses from everyone then continued, “So I guess we'll just buzz along like this for a while if it's okay with you all. I mean there's no sight of land anywhere, we don't know how this boat moves or how long it will keep moving so I figured our best bet was to pick a direction and just go for it, you know?” Everyone agreed, marveling at our speed. 

   “Seems like a good plan, Lillow,” Ishmael said. “But I don't think we can go this speed for too long. I mean it's almost impossible to walk when the ship's bobbing like this.”  

   It was easy to see the truth to that. We were skimming the water at unheard of speeds for a boat this size. It was a bumpy ride just touching the water rhythmically. After a couple hours I pulled the lever back to two arrows and we slowed to a somewhat brisk pace. It was fairly easy to walk at this speed. Everyone but Ishmael and Tink went off to other things. I had found a little hook to hold the wheel steady in one direction and we've settled in, watching the horizons. 

Part Six 

   Having found the orange crystal ring we left the Mushroom planet and have landed in the middle of a vast ocean on a boat that moves apparently without need of fuel or engine. Our hope is to go in a straight line so that eventually we'll come to something. And we will if this is Gaia.   

   We've been cruising in the same direction for six days now with still no sight of land. We've settled into a routine with me, Ishmael and Tink on the bridge, Holly and Gladlee in the kitchen and Lorna and Nonesuch wandering around being helpful wherever they can. At night we keep moving with the lever set on one arrow, then in the morning we go to three for a couple hours then the rest of the day on two, with the wheel always locked in the same direction. We've seen nothing flying in the sky and just a few murky swimmers under the water, barely seen. They've been uncommunicative. 

   I'd been drowsing in the pilot's chair, as we've all taken to doing. Between catnaps and visual meditations, we three manage to keep a pretty constant look out. Tink likes to spend time up in the high spot as she calls it, which is a basket attached to a tripod that's balanced on the roof of the bridge. It is good for seeing further and all around but it's also open to the weather. Even with the sunny blue sky we've had it is difficult to sit in that basket for very long. Tink found an umbrella to use, but for sure, the most comfortable viewing is from the bridge. There's a room behind the bridge with a sink and shower that's big enough for a couple cots so we take turns sleeping in there, but today Ishmael is stretched out asleep on a side couch and Tink is up in her basket. 

   I shook my head and stood, standing by the windows in front of the stationary steering wheel when suddenly Tink comes rushing in. “I seen a boat!” she yelped. 

   Ishmael jumped up. “Where?” we both asked. Ishmael and I were looking in every direction but seeing nothing. 

   “Up there!” she pointed frantically upward. We ran out to the walkway around the bridge and looked up. I could see a dark boat shaped spot way up high floating slowly downward, like we did when we first arrived. As it got closer it began to look familiar but then it started falling faster and faster and dropped the last bit with nothing slowing it down. It hit the water with an astonishing ka-thump that sent huge waves rippling outward. A lot of water washed over our bow and we were all knocked over. I'd recognized it before it hit though and was again shocked to find myself looking at the Flightless Grace, bobbing in the waves. We all scrambled down to the deck. Now I could see Henry standing on the front waving at us. I'd shut our engine off and the big paddle wheeler was drifting our way. Now both boats glided slowly and easily together with a soft bump. We quickly tied them together, leaving them in opposite directions, so that we were now a two-boat island in the middle of a vast endless ocean. 

   Henry hopped over to our boat, “Lillow! Wow! And all you guys! Gosh, how did . . . uh, where . . .” 

   “Hold up Henry,” I said smiling at him. “Gee the last time I saw you, you and the Commodore were tipping over the edge of the world.” 

   “I know, right?” he looked at me strangely, “And you guys were right behind us in the bridge.” 

   “Yeah, I remember.” I paused. “I gotta tell you Henry, that scene didn't look too good, you know? Falling off the edge of the world wasn't the adventure we'd hoped for and we sorta ducked out. So, how'd that end up anyway? You know, the falling off?” 

   “You just saw it, Lillow.” I must have looked stunned. “Just now is how it ended. We fell and we fell, been falling for a month I think, and then suddenly here we are, just landed.” 

   “Splash down, I'd say, Henry” an authoritarian voice behind us spoke. We turned around and there stood the Commodore, watching us over the boat rails. “More like a splash down than a landing then, wouldn't you say?” 

   “Yeah, I'd say,” I agreed. 

   “Yessir, a splash down it was sir!” Henry saluted. 

   “They'll be calling it 'The Big Splash Down' in the history books, I expect,” the Commodore spoke with reverence. Then he looked at me, “I figured you guys had taken the magic door out. Told Henry that a long time ago. Isn't that right, Henry?”  

   “Yessir, you did. I remember it well. You said they'd scurried through that door like . . .” 

   “Ahem,” the Commodore interrupted. “I remember what they were like, thank you.” He turned to me, “In any case the door won't work Lillow. Ever since you guys ducked out, it won't open.” 

   “We must a tried a dozen times,” Henry piped up, then stopped at seeing the Commodore's icy gaze. 

   “We did try on several occasions,” the Commodore continued in crisp tones. “But it's quite stuck and not a one of my crew have been able to un-stick it.” 

   “You slammed it pretty hard, Lillow,” Henry chirped. The Commodore and I both gave him a stern look. 

   We decided to try the door again now that we've all settled, so to speak. We weren't doing anything else and it did seem like a nice way home if it worked.   

   We all gathered around the door in the back wall of the Commodore's ship. It was a pretty good-sized group with the seven of us along with the Commodore's Pigeons, maybe a dozen or so. No way to be sure. Suffice to say it was a pretty good-sized group. 

   Ishmael, being the strongest out of both groups walked calmly up to the door and grabbed the wheel with both hands and twisted. Tried to twist I should say as nothing budged. He tried it again this time seriously putting his back into it. Nothing. I was considering what to do next, maybe a few of us on it or perhaps a crowbar or lever of some sort when I spotted a bent crowbar in the corner. 

   Seeing my look, the Commodore spoke, “We've tried everything I could think of Lillow, including crow-bars and levers. Why I even considered asking a crew member.” He gave his crew a dubious look, as they skittered around, oblivious to his comment. 

   Just then Tink walked up to the door. She concentrated for a moment, then felt around under the wheel. “Oh my,” she muttered. 

   “What?” I asked. “What'd you find?” 

   “It’s got a lock Lillow.” 

   “Huh? I never heard of any of these doors being locked before. What's going on Tink?” 

   She gave me a worried look, “It's Cosmic Lillow. You remember Cosmic Law from Fæirie School, don't you?” 

   I did but just barely. “Remind me,” I said. 

   “Well, if your portal goes outside the universe it'll lock. It's automatic to make sure there's no way back.” She gave me a worried look. “It's 'cause portals outside the universe are dead, I think.” 

   “Oh, well,” I said, “we never left the universe. Just the galaxy. Try it again.” 

   “No, we're outside the universe Lillow.” She looked somber. “It's definitely locked.” 

    

Part Seven 

   Hoping to escape this vast ocean we found ourselves in we tried the magic door that's in the back of the bridge on the Flightless Grace, the Commodore's boat but couldn't get it to open. Tink said it was locked because we were outside the universe. Well I did not like the sound of that, being outside the universe and all, so I asked Tink, “What does that mean? I mean how do you get outside the universe?” 

   “Didn't think it was even possible,” Ishmael muttered. “Not while you're alive anyway. I mean the universe is life and . . .” he stopped, realizing what he was saying. We all looked at each other with very wide eyes. 

   I looked at Tink, “Okay. How do you know it's locked? Show me.” 

   She walked up to the door and put her hand on a spot under the wheel, a spot that wouldn't be visible at a casual glance. “Right here,” she said, moving here hand back and forth over a small area. I put my hand on the spot and could just barely feel a slightly raised circle with a slash across it. Like this Ø. It was not really visible without close scrutiny and physically touching it. 

   “That's the lock?” I asked. 

   “No, it's just the sign. You know, like a warning light that tells you the door is locked.” I must have looked confused. “The actual lock” she continued, “is a natural thing that occurs whenever something leaves the infinite universe.” 

   I think I was more confused than ever, “How can you go past infinite?” I asked. She just shook her head. Well, I wasn't going to accept getting locked out. That was all there was to it. 

   “Commodore, could I have a word? I asked. 

   “Oh, well yes, of course Lillow. What's on your mind?” 

   “Getting home, that's what. We gotta figure a way to do it but I just can't see any way right now. I'm not getting any ideas. How 'bout you?” 

   He scowled, “I've been thinking of that very thing for the entire month we were falling through that interminable ether.” He looked out the bridge window. “Now we're in the middle of a giant ocean. Everything's changing all the time, Lillow.” He shook his head. “Just how big's this ocean anyway?” He looked at me, “You guys been here long?”  

   I told him everything that had happened, starting with the jeewizium at the Fæirie Ring and concluding with their falling out of the sky. 

   “Hmm. Doesn't sound good. Six days speeding in the same direction, you say?” I nodded yes. “Pretty big ocean,” he muttered. “Always changing, Lillow, always changing. I needa think on it.” I nodded and led our group back to our boat. 

      I'd been watching the clouds gathering on the horizon with interest. This was the biggest cloud accumulation I'd seen since we've been here. I was interrupted by Henry who came to tell us that the Commodore wanted us moving again, if possible, in the same direction we'd been going. I thought that'd be easy as our wheel was locked. We just needed to turn the Flightless Grace around, match speeds and away we go. Simple.  

   We started unfastening the ropes that held us together. Our plan was to have the Commodore drive the Flightless Grace in a big circle and come along beside us so we could continue in the same direction. I hope we haven't drifted too much from our course, but really, would it matter, I thought? Any direction is good when nothing's in sight. 

   We got the Grace free and pushed her away. I was watching the big wheel in back slowly begin to turn when I was pushed back by a strong gust of wind. Then the clouds covered the sun and the day turned dark and very windy. I could hear it whistling past us. Suddenly a huge flash of lightning erupted nearby with a thunderous crack and it began to rain hard. We hurried inside to watch the Flightless Grace turn around except it was getting hard to see with this wind kicking up the water. Then we saw a giant wave wash over the Grace's decks and she began to flounder. It quickly became apparent that she was sinking and we soon had bedraggled Pigeons landing on our deck. We helped them inside amid a battering rain and howling winds, then watched as the Flightless Grace slipped down into this fathomless sea. 

   Fifteen minutes later the storm died out and the skies turned blue. Now with the Commodore and his crew added to our group we proceeded to travel in an unwavering straight line to who knows where? Henry and the Commodore began spending their time with us on the bridge while their crew stayed with Holly and the rest in the passenger areas. 

   I was watching the horizon when I thought I saw a speck of blue move in the blue sky. Then it came closer until I could see it was the giant World Bird, Avis the Bluest of Blues, winging easily across the sky. He's very hard to see as he's exactly the same color as the sky. Even his feet and beak. All blue. But I knew it was him. Who else could it be? We'd worked with Avis once a long time ago in Joten. None of us know for sure but we all pretty much think he's some kind of god, so seeing him here was little disconcerting but heartening at the same time. It was difficult seeing where he flew, matching the sky color like he does, but I do think he circled overhead at least once. Then nothing until I noticed a flicker of blue in the distance, off where I'd first noticed it. After a short while I began to think I'd imagined the whole thing. 

   Later when Ishmael and the Commodore were with me on the bridge, I noticed the flicker of blue again in the distance. I nudged Ishmael, “You see anything blue flying up there? I was thinking it might be Avis.” He squinted his eyes and peered at where I pointed. 

   Then I saw a flicker of movement a little lower on the horizon. “What's that?” I yelped. 

   We forgot about the blue Bird and focused on the dot, which soon became apparent. It was a Bird, just a silhouette, but a Bird, and it was flying our way.      

Part Eight 

  We have been stranded on an endless ocean in a place that is somehow outside the universe. I noticed a flickering on the horizon and it soon became a Bird's silhouette coming our way. We hurried down to the deck to watch the distant Bird approach. Its flight was like a dream with images repeated and movements made hazy. By the time it landed we all knew who it was, as would anyone from Elvenstead. It was the Dawn Robin Redbreast, glowing in waves of silver, blue and white. She sat serenely smiling. Then she spoke. 

   “Oh, my farmers, brought here 'cross the border, here to the waters where the great ones sleep. Eternal these waters that hold you afloat there, eternal the dreams that flow from this deep. 

What hast thou my troopers, gone roaming sublime? What hast thou that come here, it's long yet your time?”    

   As usual I wasn't totally sure of what she said, but I think she was basically asking why we were here. 

   “Uh, hello,” I said, “Well, uh, gosh, we just kind of fell here while jeewizium traveling from another galaxy.” I hoped that was okay. She was silent for a very long time and seemed to be concentrating. Then she spoke again. 

“I have prepared a passage to where you belong, next time you're here is when you're all done.” 

   Then she disappeared. We stood there, gently swaying on the bobbing deck, awash in amazement and wondering what had just happened and what would happen next. Well, if next was anytime during the rest of that day, the answer was nothing. We went to sleep that night with no answers. Despite our predicament and unchecked curiosity, we all fell easily asleep. I knew this because I was one of the last awake, finally feeling a deep sleep overtake me. Since we'd stopped moving and the water has been calm with no land in view, we've posted no watch and everyone slept that night. 

   The next morning dawned as always. We were skittish, wondering what would happen. The Dawn Robin Redbreast had promised us a passage home and we were eager to go. The Commodore, Ishmael, Tink and I continued to occupy the bridge. Nonesuch and Henry have become friends and wander around together. Two more days have passed this way. On the third something appeared on the horizon. As we approached it got larger but we were unable to determine what it was. I'd stopped the engines and we floated slowly toward the thing. It was brown and resembled more than anything a fat parsnip sticking upside down out of the water. It was sagging a little at its tip but was quite large where it entered the water, maybe three meters across. We sat looking at it for quite a while. How could this parsnip like thing sticking out of the water help us? It was the only thing we've seen so it must be our portal, but how? 

   Ishmael and the Commodore have gotten a dinghy down and were rowing around to view the other side. 

   “There's a door around here!” Ishmael yelled. 

   The Commodore flew back and landed on the deck. “Gotta door around there Lillow,” he reported. I couldn't see any way to get the boat around so all we could do was load everyone into the dingy then row around and try the door. So, we did. The door was a round door like we'd traveled through before. Doors like that usually lead to other dimensions similar to the one by the pantry in our kitchen. I reached up and warily began opening it. What if it wouldn't turn? But it did and opened revealing a staircase leading downward. There was no way to dock the dinghy so Ishmael and I held onto the door frame on either side while everyone climbed in. I was the last one in and quickly looked back before the door closed. I was shocked that there was no sight of our boat or even the dinghy. No way back, I thought. Darn, this better be a way out. I followed the others down the stairs. 

   They had gathered at the bottom waiting for me. When we were all present and accounted for, we set out. We were at the beginning of a long, long hallway, dimly lit by some unseen source. There was no end in sight. Gosh, we must be under that endless ocean with bazillions of tons of water overhead, which means, pretty much, that this has got to be a portal. Feeling hopeful I led the troop at a brisk pace. After a couple of hours, we stopped to rest, then again, a couple hours later. This hall was maddening. It was perfectly straight and absolutely featureless, about two meters across and maybe three high. We could see it disappear into a point in the far distance for as long as we've been walking. After a few more hours we came to a wide place, like a circle with the hall going through the middle. It had chairs and a water fountain and we all gratefully collapsed. I could see that the hall continuing on the other side was as endless as ever, so I proposed we take a long break here, get some sleep if we could. As soon as we were all settled, the lights dimmed of their own accord. I didn't know whether to be upset or not but I was asleep before I could give it any more thought.   

   Sometime later the lights came back on and we awoke. I felt pretty refreshed despite sleeping on the floor. Looking around I could tell the others did too. We were soon underway again. We had traveled around five hours with one break when we came to the first door. There was a strange name on it and we knocked but got no response. Then I tried the knob and it was locked, so we continued on. We passed several more with no one home when we came to a door marked 'Ossep'. I stared in shocked disbelief. That was Windy's name, Ossep, and Windy and Addy lived behind a door just like this in a hallway also just like this. I wondered if we should knock, especially given that if this is Windy's place then the way out was pretty close, and the meadow was just a short ways beyond that. As I pondered, the door swung open and there stood the famous Darnalong, Windigale Ossep, grinning wide with sparkling eyes.    

   “Happy day Lillow!” she chirped. Then looking past me, “Oh! Well, hello you all. Gosh what a bunch.” 

   “Hi Windy,” I answered. “We just got back from a long trip and were passing by.” 

   “Well I'm so glad you knocked!” We hadn't. That I knew for sure. 

   “Gosh, well, just thought we'd say hi! Hi Windy! Good to see you! Well, wouldja lookit the time? Be sure and tell Addy hi! We gotta run!” I started to turn away. 

   Windy grabbed my arm, “Nonsense! Why, you must come in and say hello to Addy.” She turned to the others. “You can all go. Nice to see you, so long.” She pulled me in and slammed the door. “Lillow, Addy'll be so glad to see you and you just wait until you hear . . .” 

   “How long's your hallway Windy?” I couldn't help it. She'd pulled me in and my curiosity was piqued. 

   She stopped and gave me a strange look, “No one's ever been to the end, Lillow. Why on earth do you ask that?” 

   I smiled, “Just curious,” I turned and walked to the door. “Windy, I really do have to go,” I opened the door and there were my mates, even the Commodore and the Pigeons, waiting. “We just got back from another galaxy and I need to see the meadow.” Her eyes got round. “So, come by later, to the meadow, and I'll tell you the whole story.” I closed the door and returned home, to the meadow. 

 

Meadowcentric: A Taradiddle - By Lillow Mi 

A Taradiddle in Eight Parts. 

Part One 

     It's always about the meadow. As I've mentioned before, we are meadowcentric here, it being not only a dubious addition to the lexicon but the very center around which our lives revolve. There are sacred groves in the meadow as well as flora of heavenly design so that in its entirety it is, in fact, a cathedral. There are however no meadow gods, except perhaps the Dawn Robin Redbreast, who is the Goddess of the fauna that reside in the meadow, which includes us. But the meadow itself is either godless or, it is God. We're okay with it either way. 

   It is mid-winter which means, in these parts, wet with periods of rust. It's an old saying that still holds true. Lorna and I are walking across the meadow going from the manor to Holly's Palatial Estate where we will meet up with Holly and Nonesuch then continue south to the Fæirie Ring down by Probable Creek. Ishmael and Ishytoo will meet us there when they return from the Shine, which is their mystical calling; to shine the Light of Love into the world. 

   Anyway, we'd heard last night that some jeewizium had accumulated around the Fæirie Ring, a fairly common occurrence wherein we'd collect the jeewizium and store it in safe jars for future use. As an ingredient for various spells or magical workings it's always in high demand. Well, to continue, everything was pretty normal until about an hour or so ago when a couple of delirious Fæiries, Ebb and Flora, arrived, claiming to have just returned from another galaxy. That they traveled by jeewizium that was inside the Fæirie Ring. Flora said aliens made Ebb talk with flying colors but I think they were just too excited to be making sense. Lorna and I were amazed when we heard this because, while Jeewizium has been used for millions of years to travel between dimensions it has never, to our knowledge, been used to travel between planets or galaxies. This was a whole new thing and we were intrigued. Holly and Nonesuch had already heard from Ebb and Flora who'd passed them on the way to us and were rarin' to go when we got there. I wondered if there were aliens from another galaxy at the Fæirie Ring? This thought gave me a very strange feeling, like they would somehow be more alien than our aliens. We immediately set off for the Fæirie Ring.  

   There were five Fæiries and three Elves standing around the Fæirie Ring when we got there. I recognized a couple of the Fæiries, Astra and Fon but I didn't know the other three. I knew all three of the Elves though, Brighter, Gladlee and Elvenjoy, as they lived at the manor. They were all looking at the ring with curious and even mystified expressions. 

   Brighter saw us approaching and she called out, “Hey you guys! You hear about this?” 

   “Yeah,” I answered. “From Ebb and Flora, a little while ago.” 

   “They're the only one's that done it so far,” Gladlee spoke up. “Been to the other galaxy, I mean.” 

   “How do they know they were at another galaxy?” Lorna asked. 

   “They brought back some souvenirs,” Astra said, with frown. 

   I looked at the three Fæiries I didn't know and smiled. “Hello, I'm Lillow.” 

   “Oh! Sorry Lillow,” Astra said, “this is Alk, Svanat and Tink.” 

   I introduced our group. 

   Lorna tilted her head, “Gosh Tink, are you related . . .”   

   “Don't even say it,” Tink interrupted with a grim smile. 

   Astra laughed, “Oh she hates that similarity. Tinker Bell's just a Fæirie tale, right Tink?” 

   “Darn right!” Tink responded. “Never been to this never place and I never will!” 

   “Hear, hear,” Svanat laughed. “That's why we never say never, huh Tink?”  

   “Darn right!” Tink agreed, beginning to look a little confused. 

   I had to laugh, “We never say never either Tink!” 

   Just then Ishmael and Ishytoo walked up, back from the Shine. After introductions to Alk, Svanat and Tink we filled them in on what we knew. 

   There was a moment of silence, then Lorna asked, “So Astra, what are these souvenirs you mentioned? Do they actually prove they were there? To another galaxy I mean.” 

   Astra smiled and turning she pointed to a bush growing to the side of the ring. I didn't recognize what kind of bush it was and went over to look at it more closely. The bush moved back as I approached. 

   “Oh!” I said. “I see. Does it talk?” Being closer I could see it better and examined it as best I could. 

   “Nuthin' so far,” Elvenjoy answered. 

   “Hmmm,” I said. “Is this all?” looking at Astra. 

   “How 'bout this?” She pointed at a black dot, about 10 centimeters across and floating about a meter above the ground. As I approached, I realized the dot was actually the end of a round tube that seemed to go forever when I looked inside yet remained two-dimensional from the outside. I reached out to touch it and no one said anything so I touched it. There was a blossoming of color that seemed to be the color of the sound I was hearing, which was kind of a whirling 'ing' sound, like when you ring a bell and it goes iiiinnnggg, only it's spinning with mad combinations of color emanating from it. That's the best I can describe it. It held me for a long moment. When I was able, I removed my finger and it stopped. Then the bush began to spin slowly and weird colors, darker colors, started flowing out of it and over me like billowing ribbons of pure color that dissolved about a meter out. I felt oddly energized by this. After a few moments it stopped and there was silence. 

   “One more,” Astra said, pointing to a large white mushroom with red polka dots. I didn't think I could be surprised anymore but this one did. One of the red polka-dots on the side opened and began to speak. 

Part Two 

   Strange creatures that we think are from another galaxy are at the Fæirie Ring, apparently transported by jeewizium from inside the Fæirie Ring, an unheard-of occurrence, so we've come to investigate. The last alien creature I looked at was a white mushroom looking guy with red polka dots. As I watched a red dot on the side opened and spoke. It said, “Pop.” In stereo. Somewhere in the group someone else had said 'pop' at the exact same time. I'd heard it clearly. I looked around and saw Gladlee had his hand over his mouth. He gave me an alarmed look. The mushroom spoke again, “Pop, pip pip.” Someone in the group was repeating the same thing at the exact same time and I could tell it wasn't Gladlee, as he was looking at me with round eyes. So was Ishmael. I looked around and realized that everyone was looking at me with round eyes. I didn't like this. 

   “Why're you all looking at me like that?” I asked 

    “You've been repeating everything the mushroom says,” Gladlee stated. “I was standing right next to you and I clearly heard your voice.” 

   I shook my head. “I didn't say anything.” Then a thought came to me, and heavily compelled, I spoke it; “Yes you did.” I was dumbfounded. Was I arguing with myself? I briefly wondered who would win when I found myself voicing another thought. “We wait for correct frequency, interpret and speak us. We cannot but speak colors.” I was too stunned to say more, after listening to myself trying to explain the aliens. 

   “Are you getting this Lillow?” Ishmael asked with a worried look. 

   “Yeah, every bit, but I don't know where it's coming from,” I answered. Then my other-controlled voice continued, “Fear not, we from distant galaxy Gloxon. These kligorets Zom and Zurssel.” 

   Everyone was silent. For some reason I was feeling weary, like at the end of a long day so I sat down. Suddenly I felt like I hadn't slept in days. In a flash the strange bush was beside me and beginning to spin. Long streamers, like ribbons, came billowing out and I could feel them washing over me, and I could feel my energy recharging until I was my usual self again, then it stopped. I blinked and said, “Gee Whiz.” Then my other-controlled voice continued, “Energy goes from kliggit.” Everyone was staring at me. “We must to Gloxon now. Pull too strong. This place too far, strange. Thanks for wonderful time.” The top of the mushroom began absorbing the stem until it became a ball, then it rolled to the edge of the Fæirie Ring and waited. Meanwhile the bush reached out with one of its ribbons which then attached to the round dot and proceeded to reel it in before rolling over beside the ball mushroom. Then all three rolled or floated onto the jeewizium and disappeared. 

   I stared at the Fæirie Ring. I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if we went to that distant galaxy and someone moved the jeewizium here. Would we ever get back? 

   Just then Ebb and Flora returned. “Them kligorets go back yet?” Ebb asked, looking around. 

   “Yeah they're gone. So just what are kligorets, anyway?” I asked. 

   “Not sure Lillow. That's all we heard. Just Kligorets. They were here when we came back and made me say things with all their flashing lights.” 

   “I think they came with us,” Flora said. “Seems like they did Ebb.” 

   “I couldn't tell. It was a weird trip, that's all I can tell you for sure,” Ebb said, shaking his head. “That galaxy is totally strange.” 

   “Yep it is,” Flora agreed. “I wouldn't want to go back. After that black dot made Ebb talk, we took off to tell you. I think it came here with that bush and mushroom to meet you all so Ebb and me stayed away.” 

   “I didn't like being a mouthpiece, you know?” Ebb said with a grimace. “I mean I was glad they were gone when we got back, even though I was pretty sure they were swell guys, probably. Just sorta seemed wrong, somehow, havin' 'em run you like that.” 

   “They did that to Lillow too. Made her talk for them.” Gladlee said. 

   “Way different than the aliens in our galaxy,” Ishmael added. 

   “I'll say,” Ebb responded. 

   “I think it's the first time we've ever met actual aliens,” I said. “Mom told me long ago that the earth is a living being who she called Gaia and that we were Gaia's eyes and ears, as well as her voice in the cosmos except we don't speak for Gaia, we are Gaia.” It was quiet and I could see everyone was listening. “Well, our cosmos shows us patterns repeated endlessly, as we've all seen in our own lives. Patterns within patterns that tell me Gaia is to the galaxy as we are to Gaia. So, each galaxy must be a living being and all within her are its children.” I paused but no one spoke. “We've used the word universe to describe our adventures many times, but in fact we've never been outside the galaxy. What we really meant every time we said universe was galaxy, which is so big it takes light 150,000 years to cross. Every star we see in the sky is inside our galaxy. That is so big it has always been our universe. Today,” I continued, “we met beings, the children, of another galaxy. They are truly alien and this is a momentous occasion.” I felt historic. 

   Ishmael looked at me with questioning eyes. I knew he wanted to go visit the other galaxy in spite of what Ebb and Flora had said. I glanced at Lorna and Holly and they were watching me and Ishmael expectantly. They too wanted to go. Gosh. Another galaxy. This would be the most unusual and scariest adventure we've ever had! If we do it.   

Part Three 

   I think we all knew we were going to visit and perhaps explore this other galaxy. We just needed a little time to convince ourselves that we knew it. I think. In any case we huddled around the Fæirie Ring and philosophized the rest of the day and finally reached our forgone conclusion that afternoon. Ishmael, Holly, Lorna and I were going to the other galaxy to check it out. We agreed to get a good night's sleep and embark in the morning. I told the Elves and the Fæiries that were still at the Fæirie Ring of our decision, adding that anyone who wanted to go is welcome to join us. 

   Early the next morning Lorna and I did our regular sunrise crow, crowing some of the more traditional Red Rooster crows, like we did in the old days. I wondered if there was anything like rooster crowing in the other galaxy. Then we headed for Holly's Palatial Estate to join Holly, Ishmael and any others who wanted to go. 

   When we arrived, there was only one other who'd opted to join us: Nonesuch! I was thrilled to see him there that morning after he'd been with us last night at the Fæirie Ring. He works for the king and is often unable to join us. Nonesuch and I have been very close for years, having gone to Fæirie School together, despite him being an Elf. 

   So, there were five of us that set off for the Fæirie Ring that morning; myself, Nonesuch, Ishmael, Holly and Lorna. Our spirits were high. When we arrived, we were greeted by two more wishing to join us; Gladlee and Tink. I liked that we had so much diversity within our group visiting this other galaxy. When we were ready, we all joined hands, or wings, or hooves, or whatever and stepped into the Fæirie Ring. 

   I'll always remember the way the wind felt as we crossed the mountains, Dragonback flying with Meshach. Invigorating is the word. Instilling vigor. Yes, that was it. And that time we crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Bifrost, and entered Asgardh to see Avis, the Bluest of Blues along with the Dawn Robin Redbreast, Goddess to the Fauna. There were other celestial beings like Lenfast and Clancy, all assembled in magnificent glory that shone brighter than Father Sun. All these feelings like waves of refulgent energy washed over us yet seemed to be diminishing, smaller and smaller until zap! It ended and there was nothing. Absolute nothing that slowly began to be invaded by something. I had no sense of it, it seeming to be a chaotic kaleidoscope of color intermixed with ringing bell tones. 

   Then we were standing inside a circle of orange crystals that were scattered rather haphazardly around us. We all said, “Gee Whiz!” Then I looked down. I could see for quite a ways, like I was standing on a glass platform that was way high up, but it felt like ground level when I looked around at our surroundings. 

   We stepped out of the circle and could see a forest of mushrooms, just like the mushroom being we'd met in our galaxy so we headed that way. Nonesuch and I took the lead, with Tink hovering between us, Holly with Lorna riding on her back, then Ishmael and Gladlee bringing up the rear. We knew we were in unknown territory and watched carefully in every direction. As we approached the mushroom forest the mushrooms directly in front of us turned into balls and rolled out of the way, parting the forest and leaving a clear path, apparently for us to follow. 

   The sky above was purple with orange and green flowing lines that were thicker in places. Like clouds, maybe. There appeared to be two suns, one huge and pulsing with greenish flames and the other a medium sized orange that seemed to be setting. Even though it was smaller it appeared brighter than the green giant. The air seemed okay so, seeing no other sensible choice, we followed the path.  

   It was a circuitous and seemingly senseless path we followed. Sometimes we'd circle all the way around small hills or giant pieces of crystal yet never encounter any sign of our original trail when the circle was completed. Black dots were passing sporadically in the sky. Every so often they'd clump up, resembling a dark cloud, then off they'd go in every direction and the green flowing lines in the sky would make spirals that slowly drifted past. It was startlingly beautiful. Finally, we reached the end of the mushroom forest and faced a seemingly endless flat plain that was like glass where you could see through for kilometers, except you couldn't see anything that made sense. Walking on this surface was like walking on ground, except you could see through it. Way through it which made walking a little disconcerting. And now this endless plain? 

   I looked at the others, and asked, “What say we take a break here?” Everyone quickly agreed and we plopped down right where we were at; endless plain on one side and a mushroom forest on the other. A forest, I noticed, that no longer had an open path. We'd brought some sack lunches since we didn't figure we could eat anything here and opened them up. I drank some water while the others drank or snacked as was their wont. 

   Ishmael looked at me, “So what're we going to do? Cross that desert,” he nodded toward the endless plain, “or maybe try to go back?” 

   I was a little nervous, thinking how hard it'd be to find that crystal circle again, and didn't really want to go further away from it, yet at the same time we did come to explore. Then I heard a voice speaking, a voice that I was able to discern as my own with some other controlling it, saying, “Wait a time. I come I be. Talk you.” Then nothing. So, we waited, sitting on firm ground that you could see a long ways through, waiting for . . . well, I'm not sure.         

To be continued.

A Good Lot – A Taradiddle, By Lillow Mi 

   We have an afternoon with no rain and Ishmael and I have decided to walk the meadow. We left the manor and turned left toward the main gate, snuggling into our coats against the cold winter winds. We followed the main drive up to the Golly Orchard, admiring the fruits hanging from the trees and the lush vegetable patches. All year round this magical garden blooms and produces! Before we reached the end of the orchard, we left the main drive and turned onto the upper meadow. The main drive is hard packed earth with some gravel on top which is fine for rolling things but not so great for walking so I was glad to be back on the meadow's semi-dormant grasses. The ground was wet but Ishmael and I both wore these fabulous rubber coverings for our shoes that we got in mythical Gresham so our feet were just fine. I smiled at the meadow's expanse opening before us and breathed deeply of her brisk moisture laden air. Raindrops glistened in the barren trees like diamonds and the Goodable herd in the distance was flashing rainbow colors although that was not necessarily a good thing. 

   As we walked, I could see Jack Ass a ways ahead. He spends most his days up here in the upper meadow, keeping it trim and neat while watching over the Goodable herd. I was impressed that he had come out on such a brisk and wet day, but I knew this was his favorite place. 

   “Hey Jack!” I called out as we approached. 

   He'd been munching on the grass and looked up, “Oh, hey Lillow! Hey Ishmael! How ya guys doing?” 

   “We're good Jack. Just out for a stroll now as the rain's let up.” I answered. 

   “Rain?” He looked around with a surprised expression. Goodness, I think he's been around Lorna too long. 

   “Been raining all night and most the morning Jack,” Ishmael said. 

   “Zatso? Well, I'll be darned. Rainin' here too?” 

   “Everywhere Jack.” 

   “Well ain't that somethin'.” He looked around, “Yeah I see it now. Wet.” 

   I was curious, “So Jack, how is it that you didn't know about the rain? I mean it's been raining pretty steady for quite a while. Kind of hard to miss.” 

   Jack tilted his head oddly and said, “Gee whiz.” Right away I thought I knew what had happened. Jack must have stepped in some jeewizium and been transported to another dimension. I looked at the Goodable herd and it seemed that the rainbow bubbles were diminishing. There's always tension when someone travels across dimensions using jeewizium until they actually say, Gee whiz. 

   “Okay Jack, were've you been?” I asked.  

   He looked at me with surprise, “Why I was just over there.” He pointed with his nose then began walking toward a small grove of trees. We followed cautiously with me looking every direction for jeewizium, since I was the only one of us who could see it. Jack trundled on while Ishmael followed closely in my tracks. Then we rounded a corner, squeezing between the tight knit trees into a hidden grove and were suddenly in bright sunshine. I looked around in total confusion. I hadn't seen any sign of jeewizium! I looked at Ishmael who was taking his winter coat off with a big grin. 

   “This is nice Lillow,” he said, glancing at me. 

   “Yeah, yeah,” I answered, unnerved at the situation. Everywhere I looked in this little grove it was mid-summer, while outside, I parted some branches, yep, while outside it was cold and wet. Nothing made sense. How could . . . how could . . . I was beginning to spin and I stopped and looked at Ishmael and Jack. Ishmael was lying, stretched out on the grass with his eyes closed and his hands behind his head, wearing a contented grin. 

   Jack was lying nearby munching on some grass and watching me. “Been here all morning Lillow,” he drawled. “Weren't no rain here at all.” 

   I could see the truth of that. While verdant and lush with flowers, the place was dry. I went over to the closely knit trees that made up the grove's wall and parted the branches again. Sure enough, dark, wet and cold. I unfastened my jacket as I was getting too warm with it on. Okay, something was going on here. I mean I don't think dimensions overlap like this, pretty sure. Could this be a dimensional anomaly right here in our own upper meadow? Jeez, what're the odds of that happening? I glanced over at Ishmael who was laughing at something Jack had said. An Ape, an Ass and a Fæirie girl basking in the warm summer sun in a verdant grove on a cold, wet winter day. I'd say there were way better odds of that not happening! My head was spinning. Why was I having trouble with this? Jack hadn't been in another dimension; he'd been right here. So where is here? Without realizing it I had begun pacing. Ishmael and Jack were both sitting up now and watching me.     

   “You seem troubled Lillow,” Ishmael said. 

   I stopped, realizing I was spinning out of control. “Gosh Ishmael. It's just that I've never seen or heard of anything like this before. Have you been here before today Jack?” 

   “Not too much, Lillow. Most days I can't find it, but it was here today.” He smiled dreamily. “Really glad of it too, after seeing how dreary it is outside.” 

   “We are outside!” I said, looking around the grove. Jack looked surprised and I could see Ishmael scratching his head and peering around. I went over and sat beside them. I needed to think. 

   This little grove was so sweet that we all became dreamy as we sat there. Soon I saw flower petals falling from above, but there were no flowers growing overhead. I saw a beautiful Rabbit walking toward us in a kind of cloud. I felt peaceful, loving and grateful watching her. With a smile she sat with us, her eyes radiating pure love, her essence exuding goodness and joy. I smiled at her, then smiled at Ishmael and Jack who were both grinning wide. I think we were on the edge of bursting into laughter when she spoke. 

   “I am so happy to be here with you,” she said, bowing her head in reverence. 

   “I'm happy too,” I said as Ishmael and Jack murmured concurrences. “Is this your place?” I asked gesturing at the surrounding grove. 

   “It is always my place,” she answered with a smile. 

   “Wow, I've never noticed it before,” I said. I was deeply impressed. She had some major magic going on here. 

   “I've only recently begun visiting here,” she answered, then looking at Jack. “I've met you before noble one.” 

   Jack seemed flustered as he nodded agreement. “Yep, I remember. We sang,” he answered with dreamy eyes. 

   “We sang,” she repeated, smiling as if thoroughly enjoying the memory. 

   After a few moments I asked, “What is your name?” 

   Her long ears stood straight up, “Why I'm Reesha, Lillow. Reesha Rabbit. The other Rabbits have spoken well of you and I must say, I am thrilled to meet you!” Then she looked at Ishmael and her smile got wider, “And you my charming prince are Ishmael, Keeper of the Light. I am honored by your presence.” She bowed her head. When she looked up, she looked at Jack with shining eyes and started laughing, “And Jack and I have sung, oh how we have sung, his thunderous braying echoing off the clouds!” Ishmael chuckled and Jack snorted. I felt a joyful peace and love. So much love! 

   Reesha began softly singing and we joined in though we didn't know the words. I sang whatever came to mind and was pleasantly surprised to find I was singing along with her. We all sang, the words somehow appearing in a melody that was as comfortable and familiar as anything I'd ever sang, even though I'd never heard it before. Not that I could remember anyway. As we sang, I realized we were singing praises and gratitude for the rain! Imagine. Then we sat in companionable silence, peaceful in the lulling warm breezes while lounging in the lush green grass. I'm afraid I fell asleep because I was awakened by a splash of cold water on my forehead. I opened my eyes to an overcast and dreary day that was beginning to rain. Another raindrop splashed off my head as I shook Jack and Ishmael awake. The little grove was again just another grove in the meadow, wearing the meadow's winter colors. Ishmael grabbed his coat and quickly put it on while I fastened mine against the cold then we ran for Holly's Palatial Estate and arrived just before another beautiful downpour began. What marvelous luck!

Tomes & Crystal Balls: A Taradiddle - By Lillow Mi 

   We have just left our mysterious encounter with the enlarged Glamoury Wall. We flew our brooms for quite a ways east with still no sign of the meadow. Soon there appeared a dignified looking building with pillars in front and broad marble steps leading to ornate wooden doors. We landed in front of the steps and gazed up at this imposing edifice. Carved into the marble above the doors in flowery script were the words; 

Akashic Records – Tome and Crystal Ball Division 

   I was impressed. I knew the Akashic records contained all the knowledge of the universe and some believe the knowledge of all prior universes as well, but I had no idea how that all worked. But the words Tome and Crystal Ball however, were things I did know and I began to wonder if I was now going to see just how it all did work. We walked reverently up the steps and stood in front of the large wooden door. It was actually two doors that met in the middle of an ornate arch that framed them. Nonesuch and I led the way but before we could knock the doors swung open. An elderly woman (Elf I think but possibly Human) in long brown robes and a smiling countenance greeted us. 

   “Welcome to Akashic Records,” she sang melodiously, or at least that's what I thought I'd heard. I was so intimidated by this experience that she could have just spoken the words, but it did seem like singing to me. 

   “Gosh, thanks,” I answered, smiling meekly. 

   “You're welcome Lillow. Please, come in.” Whoa! How did she know my name? She was definitely singing and the greeting was delivered in such a beautifully crafted and musically sound piece that I felt silly replying in ordinary speech. 

   “Gosh you know my name?” I whispered, then louder added, “I mean I'm so glad to be here, thank you.” 

    She smiled at my question but said nothing. Nodding at my thank you she turned and greeted each of our company in turn as they entered; Holly, Lorna, Ishmael, Ishytoo and Nonesuch, calling each by name and each in an original and finely crafted melodic welcome. We stood together, overawed by her greetings as she strode slowly past, smiling and gesturing us to follow. She led us to a large room with long rows of tables covered with manuscripts, books and other curious items. Scholarly looking Elves either sat or were strolling about, frequently with books under arm. The large tall windows let in shafts of sunlight that made some tables glow in dust mite glory while others languished in shade. The woman led us to a small, empty table and indicated the chairs around it for us to sit on. Our table was brightly lit from an unseen source and when we were all seated she went and stood behind a podium that seemed to be part of the table. 

   “What are your questions?” she sang. 

   I could only stare stupidly and I could see the others were doing the same. Here I was in the seat of all knowledge and my mind was blank! I was flabbergasted. I thought of the woman as She, and She looked at me with a smile and nodded yes. 

   Then She looked back at the group and smiling sang, “I'm not surprised at your reticence, most who find us by accident are speechless, blank minded and innocent.” She laughed, sounding like a harp with 

tinkling bells and continued, “Fear no loss, our Tomes provide, as do balls of crystal and their like.” Then we were immersed in the glory of a full symphony orchestra accompanied by a heavenly choir that slowly reached a shuddering crescendo while showing us images of Tomes, our Tomes like at the manor and crystal balls just like what the Witches used and I opened my eyes and we were standing in front of the building, which seemed further away than before, then further yet and I realized it was shrinking. Soon it was too small to see and there was a pop, leaving us alone in the forest clearing. I looked at the others with nothing to say and I could see they were all like-minded. 

   We mounted our brooms and continued flying east.