The Game's Afoot - By Rosy 

   Detective Inspector Gee and the Queen of Police, Captain Sassy Fat, were having a secret meeting. Brad Puffup had been spotted in lower Elvenstead; a dismal place called juteland because there used to be a lot of burlap made there. Still is, a little, but mostly it's just suspicious warehouses and dark alleys that are all, pretty much, famous for skulduggery. All of the pirates, land-grubbers, nefarious politicians and sundry other evil doers throughout the land came to juteland to visit the famous speak-easy, Grandma's Puddin' & Pies, featuring amazing brownies and Elvenstead's finest biscuits. At least that was the claim for  this was also home to Elvenstead's scoundrel community. All the worst criminal schemes were hatched at Grandma's.         

   Meanwhile, in the secret meeting, there was a large map of the Juteland District on the wall and DI Gee and Captain Fat were both examining it closely. They'd drawn circles and lines on it, along with a few exes. There was a tapping on the door in their agreed upon secret code, so DI Gee went over and opened it. There stood a decrepit looking bum holding a brown paper bag.   

   “Ah, there you are Sergeant,” she smiled warmly, for it was Sgt. Goat in disguise. “Did you get it?” she asked. 

   “Yes, Ma'am.” He handed her the bag. 

   “Thank you, Sergeant. I'd like for you and Sgt. Rover to stand by, for the game is afoot.” She smiled mysteriously. 

  “Yes, Ma'am,” he said, before turning and leaving. 

   She carried the bag over to the map table and dumped its contents onto a clear spot. It sounded like a rock hitting the table although it could've been mistaken for a lovely biscuit, brown on top, crispy layered sides, and a nicely fried base, just like Elvenstead's finest, in the land that loves biscuits. Yet this one seemed hard as glass. 

   “That's a fresh biscuit from Grandma's,” DI Gee said, gravely. 

   Capt. Fat poked at it and it fell over and began to roll, arcing around and falling off the table quick as a flash. With a sound like shattering glass the biscuit broke into a thousand little pieces when it hit the floor. DI Gee and Capt. Fat looked at each other. 

   “That's not fresh,” Capt. Fat remarked. 

   “No ma'am, it's not. Makes you wonder what they do at Grandma's if it isn't cooking,” DI Gee said, kicking at some of the biscuit pieces. 

   “And why would Brad Puffup, arch-criminal, be interested in Grandma's?” Capt. Fat asked. She looked at DI Gee, “Inspector, take your team and get me some answers.” 

   “Yes, Ma'am.” 

   Soon DI Gee and Sergeants Goat and Rover were sitting in their unmarked police waggal, watching Grandma's Puddin' & Pies from an inconspicuous spot across the street. The place was an old one story house, broad, with an overhanging roof and a big covered front porch. There was an OPEN sign hanging crookedly on the door but none of the lights were on so that, despite it being mid-morning, it was dark and gloomy inside. On the porch a hillbilly dark-elf was stretched out, asleep in a rocking chair, his hillbilly hat covering his face. Just then, Brad Puffup stepped out onto the porch, smiled, and waved at them. Then the dark-elf lifted his hat and stood up, revealing Murgin Growl, arch-accomplice, who also smiled and waved. 

   Sgt. Rover began barking in the back seat as Sgt. Goat jumped up, bumping his head against the waggal top, before scrambling out and running across the street yelling “Stop miscreants! Stop instantly! Stop . . .” He trailed off as he realized the figures, while still smiling and waving, were fading, that he could see through them, that they were becoming invisible before his very eyes, slowly fading, smiling, waving, fading until they were gone. Sgt. Rover came bounding across the street, barking loudly. He leapt onto the porch and scrambled all around where the villains had stood, but there was nothing there. They were gone, if they had ever there at all, DI Gee thought. She stepped onto the porch and began searching for hidden cameras which might have projected a hologram of the arch-criminals. She just hated the thought that they could levitate or disappear.  

   She noticed a shadow form moving inside and looked at Sgt. Goat. “Take Rover and go inside and check the place out, Sergeant, see who all's in there,” she told him as she continued her search for hidden cameras. Sgt. Rover had been sniffing around the porch and followed Sgt. Goat inside.          

   The room was very dark with all the drapes down and the lights off. As their eyes adjusted shadowy figures began to emerge, lurking in the corners. 

   “Hello villains. We're looking for the arch-criminal Brad Puffup and the arch-accomplice Murgin Growl,” Sgt. Goat announced in a loud voice. “Anybody know where they're at?” The room was silent. Sgt. Rover began opening the drapes and several of the shadowy figures fluttered away like bats. “Darn it, Rover! This here's a vampire den! Run!” They both scampered quickly out the door where DI Gee stood watching them with a scowl. 

   “Vampires, huh?” she asked. They both nodded yes with wide eyes. “Good thing it's daylight,” she said, watching someone inside pulling the drapes shut. “I found the hologram projectors, by the way, well-hidden I must say.” With a relieved smile she pointed at a couple dark corners. 

   Just then Brad Puffup drove up in a late model waggal, little sports job, classy, fast with lots of power. He smiled and waved at the Inspector and her intrepid Sergeants standing, gaping, on the porch of Grandma's Puddin' & Pies. Beside Brad sat Murgin Growl who was also smiling and holding a large bag full of gold labeled “Royal Treasury.” They pulled leisurely away, allowing the crowd of palace guards running behind them, clacking their swords against their shields, and yelling things like, “Stop thief!” to catch up before Brad floored it. His waggal zipped away like a speeding bullet. The palace guards were calling insults and shaking their fists at the sky, which is where the nefarious Puffup Gang was last seen, when DI Gee, Sgt. Goat and Sgt. Rover came zipping by in hot pursuit. 

   Brad's taillights were in the far, far distance. “Faster, Sergeant, faster!” DI Gee yelled, as Sgt. Goat pushed his foot harder against the floor. Then he pulled the overdrive lever and with a shudder their specially equipped police waggal shot into space, following Brad Puffup at warp speed. Still, this was not enough. Brad's taillights remained far, far ahead. Curiously it was really loud and windy inside the waggal and DI Gee looked around to see Sgt. Rover had his window down and his head sticking out with his tongue flapping behind, so that his ears snapped and his lips made a blubbery clapping noise. 

   “Close your window, Sergeant!” she yelled. 

   Sgt. Rover pulled his head in and sat up, “Yes, Ma'am!” he barked contritely, rolling the window up. 

   Now they easily caught up with Brad Puffup who did not know about the secret new police much-faster-than-anybody else hypergosh engine. As they zipped by the distraught Brad, Sgt. Rover deployed another new secret device, the hook-end lariat. He was barking and jumping with excitement as he used his hook to snag a hold of Brad's waggal, containing the arch-criminal Brad Puffup, and the arch-accomplice Murgin Growl, who they commenced dragging back to face justice. We hope.           

An Inspector Gee Melodramatic Mystery of Sorts - By Rosy 

Part One: Up There! Can't You See It? 

   Detective-Inspector Gee, Sgt. Goat and Sgt. Rover were strolling along Verdandi Boulevard, heading back to headquarters. Their spirits were high as they have just solved another mysterious case. Suddenly Rover stopped and looked upward.  

   “Whoa! What's that up there?” he asked, looking anxiously at the sky. 

   “What . . .?” Sgt. Goat sputtered. 

   “Up there! Can't you see it?” 

   “Oh yeah. It's a bird,” Sgt. Goat said, squinting upward. 

   “No, it's a plane!” Sgt. Rover exclaimed, staring at the object. “No, wait, it is a bird,” he amended after a pause. Then his eyes went round, “Lookit that! It's Super Bird!” Sgt. Rover was nearly barking with excitement.  

   There was courageous music as Super Bird! a heretofore legendary creature, came fluttering down to a graceful landing, expertly perching on top of the fence. 

   “Good day, Officers,” he said, staring down his formidable beak at them standing on the street below.  

   “Hi, Super Bird!” Sgt. Rover answered, trying to hide his wagging tail. 

   “Good day, Super Bird,” Inspector Gee replied, impassively. “What brings you out our way?” Inspector Gee was proud of her record, keeping criminals at bay most of the time. She didn't see any reason for Super Bird to be here, especially since she hadn't believed in him before, unless he's got relatives or something here. 

   “Officers!” Super Bird said sharply, “I have come to free you of your hideous bondage!” 

   “What bondage is that?” Inspector Gee asked. 

   “Golly thanks!” Sgt. Rover said with a big grin at the same time, then, glancing at Inspector Gee, “Uh, yeah. What bondage you talking about?” 

   “Orders! Reports! Danger followed by endless drudgery!” Super Bird screeched. He seemed indignant. “Fine legal minds like yours sent mucking about for clues, then evidence, then who knows what all else while those wily lawyers twist things around until the vilest of miscreants walks free to commit even graver crimes, always pushing, always coming back!” 

   “Golly,” Sgt. Rover said, his eyes wide. Sgt. Goat looked suspicious. 

   “I would think that detecting and report filing are the natural work of detectives,” Inspector Gee said, her eyes narrowing. 

   “No more!” Super Bird squawked. “I have come to set you free! Now go! Be free! Find a job and pull on your bootstraps! You will find happiness!” 

   Instantly DI Gee knew it was undoubtedly a ruse to distract them, likely to get them out of the way so that real criminal acts could be done. She leaped up, aghast. “You cannot be Super Bird! For you are a knave!” she yelled, running toward Super Bird, brandishing her fists, as Sgt. Rover began barking. 

   “Yikes!” Super Bird yelped as he fluttered clumsily away from DI Gee's fists, tripping over the fence pole. That's when his clever disguise fell off revealing the arch criminal, Brad Puffup! Everyone watching gasped with surprise except DI Gee, who knew all along. 

   “Zounds!” Brad yelled, “Foiled again!” 

   “Stop instantly, miscreant!” Sgt. Rover barked, lunging toward Puffup. 

   “Halt! In the name of the law!” Sgt. Goat yelled, also brandishing his fists. 

   “Ha! You'll never catch me!” Puffup yelled before breaking into his famous deranged villain laugh, “Bwa ha! Ha! Haaaah! I will be back!” he finished, posing heroically before running off, with Sgt. Rover barking at his heels and Sgt. Goat close behind.   

   Inspector Gee waited patiently until they returned. She knew what they were going to say. “Somehow he slipped away,” they reported gloomily. She just nodded. 

   “Now,” Inspector Gee said, in her firmest, most in-charge voice, “we go to the top of Brad Tower.” 

   Ominous music can be heard. Brad Tower is reported, by Brad himself, to be the tallest building in the universe, although this claim is currently being contested by the Vulgarians from across the galaxy, who say they have a building that is taller, so tall in fact, that it connects to their moon. Engineers are working to establish the particulars of this building, like just how tall is it? While other engineers are approaching Brad tower with this same question. Tall building enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the results. 

Part Two: They Survived By . . . 

   Meanwhile, we find the Inspector and her two Sergeants making their way up Brad Tower. They are perhaps halfway, maybe more, but for sure way high up. Each time they come to a new, higher up lobby they wander around, sometimes getting sandwiches and coffee from the lunch counter, or sitting for a bit by a fountain, before finding another elevator going up, which they will take, courageously undaunted by the extreme height they are attaining. 

   Too, they are each wearing space suits that have a built in parachute as well as rocket propulsion for deep space. Sometimes they encounter engineers trying to determine the tower's actual height who also wear space suits. 

   In the second day of their upward ascent it was clear by looking out the windows that they were in space. The air inside was okay and the temperature was comfortable with the patented Brad Corp Gravitons keeping them on the floor. They continued upward. After three days they came to welcome sight. A hotel! It was a Brad Corp hotel , of course, but the rooms were nice. Inspector Gee had a fine view of distant earth from her room while her Sergeants shared a room overlooking the atrium pool. They stayed for a few days, resting up. 

   When they finally reached the penthouse suite, believed by many to be the actual top of Brad Tower, they'd lost track of how long it'd taken. Inspector Gee felt triumphant as she pushed the buzzer to Number One, Brad Tower, albeit light-headed. Same with the Sergeants Rover and Goat, light-headed, dizzy at times. The door was solid gold which is what the legendary criminal's lair is said to be made of. Inspector Gee was confident this was the right place. 

   After an interminable wait the door slowly opened and there stood the butler Murgin Growl. Murgin was from a family of cro-magnon magicians who had trouble fitting in. They survived by working as butlers for arch criminals. People who didn't ask too many questions. People like Brad Puffup, arch criminal, CEO and mad scientist. 

   “Yeah? Whadya want?” Murgin growled. “You got an appointment?” 

   They all showed their badges, “Where's Puffup?” Inspector Gee demanded.    

   “He ent home!” Murgin growled. 

   “When's he due back?” Sgt. Rover asked. 

   “Dunno,” Murgin growled. 

   “Well, I guess we'll just wait,” Inspector Gee announced, barging into the spacious solid gold living room and plopping down on the couch. There were  large picture windows overlooking a fine view of the moon which seemed, somehow, to be closer to the earth than they were. 

   “Whatever,” Murgin growled as he left the room. Sgt Rover sprawled in front of a warm golden hearth that had a screen showing burning logs inside, while Sgt. Goat turned on the golden TV. There was a news report about their chase after Brad Puffup, with hourly updates. The last update showed Puffup leaving his Penthouse in a golden flying saucer less than an hour before Inspector Gee and her Sergeants had arrived. 

   “Darn it!” Inspector Gee exclaimed when she saw that. “He's slipped past us again!” Since sound doesn't carry in space Brad had left them a recording of his nefarious villain laugh, which they played several times, looking for clues. Finally, Inspector Gee decided that further waiting was fruitless, that they had to give chase. 

   “We're commandeering your spaceship, Growl!” Inspector Gee announced the next time they saw him. 

   He rolled his eyes. “Whatever,” he growled, tossing the keys to Sgt. Goat. They quickly located Murgin's late model UFO in the garage and were soon in hot pursuit. But no matter how fast they went they could only see Puffup's taillights, never able to get closer. Faster and faster they went, warp eight, warp nine, faster and faster, warp ten, warp suddenly! Puffup's brake lights came on and in a split second they passed him and were a few million kilometers beyond before they could get stopped. By then, of course, Puffup was long gone. 

Part Three: The Crowd's Mood Was Changing 

   Brad Corp, the largest corporation in the universe, began running advertisements for their newest products, all blatantly illegal, assorted police evading devices and various other criminal style products. After they made tons of money on that and got away with it, Brad came on TV and declared Brad Corp was now a sovereign nation called Bradco, and that they were annexing Elvenstead to be their homeland, hereafter to be known as Bradco. This caused quite a stir in the palace of King Overwood who, until now apparently, had been the King of Elvenstead. The fact that these villains could do all this awful stuff and not get apprehended was disconcerting. 

   The Queen of Police, Captain Sassy Fat, realizing the police were looking totally bad, called an emergency meeting in the police auditorium with the entire force attending. 

   “All right people, what're we going to do?” she asked. Just then King Overwood himself appeared, followed by his courtly entourage. Captain Fat, like DI Gee earlier when she saw Super Bird, did not like this one bit, figuring that she had everything already under control and watched quietly, with a stern expression as the King approached the podium. The crowd's mood was changing as they watched their top officer get so easily displaced by the King, a politician who did not know this case, or any case, like they did. 

   King Overwood looked out over the scowling police with a somber expression. “All right people, what're we going to do?” he asked. There was a rustling and stirring. A few of them had actually hoped for a kingly plan or at least words of encouragement but most were not surprised. They were surprised however, with what the King said next. 

   “Brad Corp makes more money than any country, way more than Elvenstead runs on, more than any country, plus Brad has an army.” This was worse than anyone thought. Elvenstead was surely facing her darkest time, a time fraught with peril and seemingly insurmountable challenges. 

   The King looked at the police force with a sinking feeling. This was, for all practical purposes, Elvenstead's army. Inspector Gee and Sergeants Goat and Rover were in the front row, and the King thought none of them, well, maybe Goat, but really none of them were suitable for battle.   

   There was heroic music as the professional heroes Brak and Jant arrived. Captain Fat took over the podium, gently pushing the King aside. 

   “All right people,” she began, “we're going to do something. I have decided,” the King cleared his throat, “I meant the King and I of course, well, we've decided to appoint a committee to take care of this.” She paused, looking pleased as punch. “Detective-Inspector Gee will head the committee and her team will consist of Sgt. Goat, Sgt. Rover and the heroes Brak and Jant.” There was cheering and wild applause. Everyone, especially the King, was relieved to pass the responsibility of defeating Brad to someone else and this committee would do nicely. 

   “This plan is swell!” the King announced then everyone quickly went home. Except for DI Gee, Sgt. Goat, Sgt. Rover, Brak and Jant, who remained in the vast police auditorium, standing alone with dazed expressions.  

   Inspector Gee looked at them, “Okay guys, looks like it's just us. Let's head over to Brad Tower. Sgt. Goat, get an extra-long car out of the garage.” Soon they were standing across the street from Brad Tower. 

   Looking at the first few floors the tower was not terribly impressive, DI Gee thought. It's just that it's so dang tall. That's why it's so impressive, she mused. Even intimidating. They all gazed upward even though they knew it was impossible to see the top from the ground. There was a soldier patrolling around the first floor. 

   “Not much security here, considering they're essentially invading Elvenstead,” Inspector Gee said. 

   “Well, they appear to believe that Brad is basically unreachable up there in his solid gold penthouse, so I think they're just concentrating on taking over, Ma'am,” Sgt. Goat observed. 

   “So it would seem, Sergeant,” she replied. She gazed at the tower for a few moments. Addressing the group she asked, “What do you think would happen if we broke the tower, up a ways, maybe around the sixth floor or so?” 

   “Broke it?” Brak asked. He seemed pleased. 

   “Yeah, you know, make it so it couldn't support the upper floors anymore. Break it.” 

   “Oh yeah,” Brak said. “Now that sounds just fine.” 

   “Real hero work, baby,” Jant said from behind him. The Sergeants were both gazing up at the sixth floor as if seeing it for the first time. 

   “So, what you got in mind?” DI Gee asked the heroes. 

Part Four: Platypus Babies Are Called Puggles 

   Brad sat atop his super tall building, out of reach of reprisal while his trolls were far below marching toward Elvenstead. As his troll armies prepared to cross the border into Elvenstead there was a loud humming noise. The armies stopped, because the humming was really quite loud, overpowering and had an ominous, threatening aspect to it. 

   “Why have you stopped?” Brad screamed into his microphone. 

   “Sir, there's a loud humming noise,” the General leading the trolls reported.  

   “You stopped because of a humming noise?” 

   “Oh my gosh! Run!” the General reported. 

   “What's going on General?” 

   “There's millions of elves, faeries, pixies, puggles and who knows what else coming at us with swords and cannons! Run!” 

   “Turn around and fight! That's an order!” Brad yelled into the microphone. 

   There was some odd crunching and popping noises, then, “Oh! Hello? Is this Brad? Hi, I'm leading an Elvenstead Volunteer Brigade and I'm afraid we've just routed your troll army. Have a nice day.” 

   Suddenly Brad's aerial penthouse started to sway, then it swung way back and with a snap it shot into space. Brad Tower had snapped like a whip because Brak and Jant had driven a rocket into it millions of floors below, somewhere around the sixth floor, skillfully avoiding all defense actions then parachuting at the last minute, causing a terrible ripple that slung the upper part into space and collapsed the bottom part. Brak and Jant were jubilant over their success. Meanwhile the people of Elvenstead had risen up on their own, more than even lived there, so many, in fact, that their approach created a fierce hum, and Bradco was defeated. 

   With the collapse of Brad Tower, creating a pile of debris now known as Brad Mountain, and the disappearance of the nefarious Brad Puffup, the source of all evil, who is now believed to be hurtling through space, Elvenstead had cause to rejoice. The King gave medals to the entire committee and Captain Fat talked about the important police contribution, while the people, all the diverse people of free Elvenstead, danced in the streets. 


A Twisty Tale - By Rosy 

   The fact that our spaceship can go under water is something we forget when we're in space, but when we're under water we forget that our submarine can fly. These things are apparently not important enough to lodge firmly into the crew's mind. Perhaps in the Captain's, but not in the crew's. Regardless of whether or not we know how, our craft, the Nauticotta, takes us wherever we need to go in our constant quest to find the fabled Treasure Nest Egg of the ancient Tandy-Dandy Dancers of Mish. 

   Captain dreams of this a lot and says that the Tandy-Dandy Dancers were famous throughout everywhere and that they built a huge gaping fortune, and that they stuck it in a secret Treasure Nest Egg which is where it is hidden to this very day. An odd dream in my estimation but it has caught our attention. We have been diligently seeking hidden treasure ever since, especially with something like the fabled Treasure Nest Egg of Mish before us. We are, after all, a fine and loyal crew. 

   We have been everywhere, already we are twenty years into the search, maybe more, and have yet to approach Mish, the alleged home of the ancient Tandy-Dandy Dancers. But now, suddenly, Captain tells us we must go to Mish, and of course we all jumped to obey, pushing the buttons and pulling the levers to make this happen. This was a superlative decision admired by the entire crew since the treasure did, in fact, mention Mish, the place where the ancient Tandy-Dandy Dancers danced and where their treasure is likely hidden.   

   “Why didn't you go to Mish first?” is what people typically ask. “You know, it is the fabled Treasure Nest Egg of the ancient Tandy-Dandy Dancers of MISH that you are seeking, after all.” 

   Captain replies something like this, “It ain't how the dreams go,” then refuses to talk anymore about it. We, the loyal crew, also refuse to talk about it and have not questioned him on this, due to loyalty. And also because the pay is good, we have comfortable quarters, great food, an easy workload, and paid vacations. Besides, when all is said and done, the Nauticotta is the Captain's ship. He can take it anywhere he wants, as long as we keep finding lost treasures everywhere or get good paying part time jobs. Now Captain is dreaming us to Mish. We land near the western coast, not far from the famous Rainbow Dragon Hold, Regenbeald. 

   “We walk from here,” Captain announced and promptly began walking. We, the loyal crew, followed. “We must find the Twisty Lane,” Captain told us, stopping to gaze into the distance. He looked in several directions then, with a determined expression, he pointed, “There.” We were headed into the wilderness. 

   Captain had a map that he pulled out to show us our route. We could see a big black ex marking the secret hidden treasure and that it was in fact at the end of a twisty lane. There was a red arrow pointing to a small red circle near the map's edge, by the sea, with a legend saying, 'you are here'. This looked good.  

   We set off in high spirits. Surely it will be great to finally encounter the sacred and holy Treasure Nest Egg of the ancient Tandy-Dandy Dancers, hidden by the dancers themselves before they went extinct millions of years ago and undiscovered, until now. 

   Slowly we penetrated the impenetrable jungle, inch by inch, taking turns cutting a path with a big, bold machete that Captain happened to have. The deeper we went, the darker it got until we were in pitch black. We all snapped on our Nauticotta issue flashlights and proceeded with confidence, finally coming to an ancient, probably older, lane, put in by those prehistoric people who enjoyed watching the Tandy-Dandy Dancers dance. We gazed in awe and more than a little anticipation at the entrance. We knew the twisty lane led to incomparable treasure, more than anyone could imagine. It was the twisty lane of dreams, of our dreams, of the Captain's dreams and we moved forward as if in a dream. 

   The twisty lane was clear of underbrush and vines and we were glad when Captain put his big, bold machete away, into an elaborate sheath hanging from his belt. With all our lights on him he looked like a Pirate Captain putting his sword away but we knew he wasn't. Pretty sure. Then he told us to team up and shut off the extra lights, saving their power. 

   We went further and further down that twisty lane but oddly we felt lighter and lighter. Then slowly unseen lights came on, real dim, at about the same time where we were having trouble staying on the floor. Soon, we were somehow walking on the ceiling which was now brightly lit with a nicely tiled floor. We came to an ornate double doorway with what looked like a cartoon image of a Darnalong hanging above it. 

   Darnalongs are rare and offensive birds, quite large with stick pole legs and body feathers of wild and crazy colors. Except all the Darnalongs that we knew about delivered bad news in Elvenstead. Why would they have a cartoon drawing of a Darnalong here in the ancient ruins, buried deep in the wilderness jungle, of Mish? 

   Captain seemed to be gaping and we nudged him along. Beyond the double doors was a ticket taker. We had to go back and find the hidden ticket booth to buy tickets before we could go in. Captain grumbled about how expensive the tickets were so we figured it must be a classy show. First Mate told us once that classy shows were high priced and we entered with eager anticipation. 

   When the lights went down an amplified voice announced, “Welcome! Jungle creatures of all persuasions! Welcome to the Treasure Nest Egg Theater! Home to the amazing Tandy-Dandy Dancers! And he-ere they are!” 

   Amid a wild and raucous applause, the stage was quickly filled with poorly drawn Darnalongs, all dancing. I could hear Captain groaning but we stayed for the whole show. All things considered it was pretty good. 


 The Necessary Stream 

Sometimes, at times, I wonder at this constant stream of words, 

and at those times when no one's at the wheel, despite 

another shade of meaning from each new word the stream affords. 

Or perhaps you could say deeper, inward if you like, 

this stream of words goes on, no doubt, well into the night.

Hello, We're Not Home - By Rosy 

      There is a land called Faraway where no one is ever home. Ever. The people of Faraway are as far from any sort of reality as they are from us which maybe isn't far enough. In any case, never being home became their national motto rendered as; “Hello, we're not home.” 

   A native Farannadan, which is how the people of Faraway are called, typically has only seen their home once, years ago when they first bought or rented it. They keep paying mortgage or rent but move on, having their mail and calls forwarded to wherever they're staying now, while someone else occupies their old home. 

   The Farannadans need to move every so often, much more often than anyone would think or want. They just need it. In fact, they move to a new residence once every three days, on average, bringing their family, if they're still together, with them. They just need to move, and since it's such a basic and primal urge the Farannadans have streamlined their system so that the entire forwarding process is accomplished by simply writing their name on a card, provided at every residence, and popping it in the mail, no postage necessary. The only requirement for occupying a new home is that no one be home. There is no homelessness in Faraway nor are there palaces. 

   People who, for whatever reason, immigrate to Faraway, a move all the brochures urge you not to make, think that they can remain rooted. They, being foreigners, need not comply with the custom that they move, then move again and again, no, rather they can remain in one spot. They plan to shrug and say, “Oooh, we did not know,” or some such rubbish and stay right where they're at. No moving for them.   

   Newcomers usually remain resolute until one fine day when somehow this urge sort of hits them, whole families even at first, just hits them slow and easy, got them noticing empty houses that look nice, then nicer. Curious, they think, then go home, except home is oddly uninviting. Your family seems somehow surprised to see you, very subtle, and you realize this group doesn't fit here anymore. Not your style at all so you just pick up and leave. Go to that place you liked across town, walk in and stay. Most your family will probably follow for a while. Families stay together longest, sometimes up to a year, long enough to procreate anyway, before wandering off in different directions. People would find out the names of previous tenants when other people would drop by to visit them, not realizing they were already not home.  

   Everyone continues doing their jobs or going to school or whatever they do but just constantly coming from different directions. They use a backpack common to all, called the Farannabag which is a small and unassuming backpack easily able to hold all that is deemed necessary, and can be carried constantly. It is actually strange to see someone without their Farannabag, they are so stylish and sensible. 

   An odd thing in Faraway, about the rare cousin of the blue-footed dooble dogs from Wayfar Intherwud, Faraway's next door country, is that the dooble dog cousin is curiously not a dog at all, rather she is a small blue-footed monkey. She is the only one in the world that we know of, and she lives in Faraway. Her name is Eunice Bullfarb and she runs a coffee shop called Ed's Tires & Brews. 

   Now here's the odd part; Eunice has super powers! She can fly! She's stronger than an ox and has real X-Ray vision, plus more. We think she has some goddess blood or something. She doesn't brag though and gets along with the neighbors pretty well. Eunice loves her dooble dog cousins and would have them over to visit more often, except she's never home.       


Rumors of War - By Silver 

   We are all so gay and carefree. Sophisticated, healthy and kind. We love each other and our blessed estate high atop this mountain. Below us, in the valleys, rolling hills and fruitful plains live many creatures whose lives can be affected by us, by our decisions, by our very way of being and we try to be mindful of them. 

   Father Sky commands peace, while secretly Beauty enjoys creating rivalries, Thunder cannot help but roar and flash while War paces irritably beyond Father Sky's sight, preparing both sides against the other, out of sight, he believes. Huntress watches, amused as the predators become prey in War's machinations. Ocean knows of these things, having seen their mad battles both afloat and along his shores but remains silent as does Dark, staying below, staying silent, seemingly neutral. Mother Earth does not speak at all, except in secret tongues. 

   It is said that these creatures below us, many like ourselves in form, die. That the animation of their bodies ceases with time, disease, accident or violence, and that this animation continues on as shades that dwell in Dark's nether world. It is whispered that Dark must know all of War's treacheries, seeing the numberless shades that War has sent him, but in fact, no one can tell what Dark knows or what Dark sees. No one living and not even us from whom all things flow, not even we know of these things. War knows not, nor cares, what becomes of his fallen warriors, needing only the passion and violence, the anger and madness that is warfare, feeding, drunk on vengeance and blood-lust. None of us like being around War, but he is our brother, born of Father Sky and Mother Earth, just as we all are. 

   I stay apart when there's scheming and plotting for, I am Love and naught of War's doing is done in my name. I am uneasy when I see Beauty and War together,  knowing of Beauty's desire for conflict. I find myself standing apart more often than not. Still, Fast will always find me to deliver each pronouncement, each call to attend the high throne. Now Father Sky has said he wants peace, then says no more. It is to us to deliver and War is furious, of course. We never really see Dark but his presence is unmistakable, and I know he is consoling War. Sometimes before, Thunder would join War, both enjoying their shock and awe moments, but this time, well, Father Sky has spoken and Thunder restrains himself. 

   I wonder though. Something happened at Beauty's grand soiree, something that has caused a young and foolish mortal to abscond with a king's wife, believing that I, of all people, wanted it so, promised her in fact as a reward for naming me the fairest of them all. What foolishness. I needed no contest to know that I am the fairest of them all. Everyone knows it. I took the apple and left, as was my right. I knew that shrew Whiner had sent the apple with the note, For the Fairest of Them All, because she wasn't invited to the party and she knew it'd disrupt things. So I just grabbed the apple and left. Later I asked Beauty why she hadn't invited Whiner. 

   She gave me an angry look, “I didn't invite her to my party because I could not stand the thought of hearing her whining all night. No one can, and no one blames me.” She stormed away. She was right, of course, no one can stand Whiner's whining and I for one was glad she wasn't at the party. Still, that young man making off with that king's wife, that can't be good. Got the royal treasure too is what Fast told me. Rumors abound that I helped with a magic fog. What madness! Sounds like something Thunder might do with his roiling clouds. War looks very pleased; Thunder seems poised and Huntress smiles slyly. Oh, I cannot bear these squalid deceits. I shall stand apart, for in all these squabbles there is naught of Love

The Red Gate - By Rosy 

   The Gate To Heck is famous throughout Elvenstead and, while quite scary, is nonetheless considered a major tourist attraction. You haven't seen Elvenstead if you haven't seen the Lethe Fields, the Blue Mountain Unanimals, and the Gate To Heck. Located in scenic Crater, which is a steep sided crater with a lake and a ranch at the bottom, the Gate to Heck has been scaring elves, faeries and humans for millions of years. The ranch, Mayday Ranch, is run by Madelyn Mayday, and the lake, called Lake Crater, reportedly has no bottom. On the north face of the crater wall, in perpetual shade or dark, is the Gate to Heck, pulsing purplish-red inside and emitting dark thoughts. The deepest part of the lake laps at its base while Mayday Ranch sits across the lake, on the shallow side. The Gate To Heck is super scary and no one gets very close, rather enjoying the frightening view from across the lake in safety, one would hope, at the ranch. 

   Mayday Ranch's primary revenue comes from these terror seeking tourists, who come in groups usually, to gaze in horror, perhaps even hike around the lake and try to get closer, thrilled at being so near to danger. 

   This darn scary Gate to Heck is known throughout Elvenstead, but what most don't know is that there's another gate over on the sunny side of Crater. You just keep to the sunny side and you'll probably see it, if you look. It's called the Red Gate and it is believed by many, especially among the locals, and by pretty much all the Lennards, who lead the Lenfast believers everywhere, that the Red Gate leads to another dimension or a parallel universe, or, well, to somewhere else, whatever you want to call it. It is purported to transport anyone who has the courage and/or stupidity to go through it to somewhere else. Someplace we didn't know about. Still don't know about as no one's come back who's gone through it. Pretty sure. Or they just don't talk about it. Could be that. Anyway, it was time for a hero. Someone with the fortitude, strength, and tenacity to go through the Red Gate and return with a full report. That at least, was clear.  

   Brak and Jant Rivitir were a husband and wife team specializing in hero work that involved great daring do and they applied for the job. 

   “We'll be glad to go through that gate and attempt to return with a full report,” Brak bravely told Madelyn Mayday and her team of witches. 

   “We do expert hero work, Ma'am” Jant supplied. 

   “Well then, get to it,” Madelyn told them and they did. They got themselves supplied with a month or so of provisions, backpacks, tents, rifles and whatever else they could carry that they felt they might need. Then, with barely a backward glance they marched stoutly through the Red Gate. 

   For the first hundred meters or so they kept talking with Madelyn, who everyone calls Maddy, using radio phones, but when the expedition passed a certain point, all communications ended. Radio silence. All Maddy and the witches could do was wait. 

   Meanwhile Brak and Jant had entered an earthly paradise. A land that most would describe as heaven. Everything you always wanted and more. They were thrilled and enjoyed a fabulous few days before remembering their promise to return with a full report. But where was the Red Gate? 

   They spent a couple weeks looking everywhere for the Red Gate, fully intending to return and report. They earnestly gave it an honest, thorough search before finally succumbing to the luxurious life, finally deciding that the Red Gate was one-way after all and that really, even if they could, why would they want to return? They sure didn't want hordes of people to follow them and make a mess of the place, plus the money they would earn if they returned would nowhere near supply the life they had now, in this other place.   

   Back at Mayday Ranch life continued on, nothing changed except, due to the Rivitir's silence, the mysterious Red Gate is becoming as frightening as the Gate To Heck, much to Maddy's delight. Business is good. Though sometimes she wonders sadly, whatever became of Brak and Jant, those brave heroes?

A Small Suitcase In Time - By Rosy 

   When Pernickul left the tavern, it was nearly three a.m. Many times he and the boys would greet Father Sun from the tavern's balcony above the huge wooden door, singing joyously with drunken abandon all night long, but today, well, this morning really, he felt like leaving early. He was home by a quarter after and when he entered the house, he tripped over something in the dark and awakened his wife who shrieked and fainted dead away because she thought he was dead away. You see, unbeknownst to Pernickul and his pals, this latest party has mysteriously lasted eight years, so instead of getting home early, he was getting home late. Very late. The late Pernickul, completely befuddled, stared at his wife lying on the floor, also completely befuddled and rendered senseless. 

   When her new husband Goodox came out from the bedroom he shrieked and turned white but did not faint dead away. Having moved in last year when Pernickul was declared legally dead after seven years, he was shocked through and through. Pernickul's death had cleared the way for Goodox and Jasinna Pernickul to fall in love, marry and have two kids. Linear time is not a big player in this story. Anyway, the sight of Pernickul after all this time was disconcerting, enough to cause Goodox to turn and run, leaving Pernickul and his unconscious wife alone. Well, except for the two kids, Windy and Addy, along with six dogs, fifteen cats and two love birds who weren't getting along. 

   The birds, named Eunice and Cuthbert had been arguing all night and the cats were angry. They'd had enough and eyed Pernickul through slitted eyes, their tails swishing back and forth, emitting low growls. Two of the old-timer dogs remembered Pernickul and ran up with tails wagging while the other four, who had no idea who this character was, began barking. Jassina, who had taken her new husband's name of Jones, remained unconscious. Near as anyone could tell anyway.        

   Pernickul, himself experiencing increasing levels of befuddlement, began to notice differences; different furniture, different kids, although in truth he and Jasinna never had kids, and different wall papers. He became even more befuddled. Just then Goodox returned with the police. Pointing dramatically at Pernickul he cried out, “Fie! Fie!”, while making obscure hand gestures. His claim was illegal resurrection or something like that. The police, themselves shocked to be facing the man they'd spent years searching for, who hadn't, in fact, changed one bit, were glad to arrest him. Keep him here if nothing else. 

   With Pernickul locked up and out of the way, the evil wizard Brad Puffup, the perpetrator, angry at Pernickul over an insult that a much, much younger Pernickul had made, decided to release the tavern and Pernickul's drinking buddies from his time/stretch spell. When the buddies began showing up all willy-nilly, the police, now as befuddled as Pernickul, began circling around, like sharks, eyeing everything and each other with suspicion. In fact, every other person on earth was now a suspect, and their circles widened. This was when the tavern, reported missing eight years ago, was discovered. While happy to report another case solved, a rather major success involving real estate, the police were, nonetheless, even more befuddled.     

   Meanwhile the evil Brad Puffup puffed up with pride at his 'justice' having been dealt and laughed maniacally like these guys do. He placed Pernickul's story into a small suitcase and forgot about it. Later, as he flew away, he carelessly tossed it into the sea along with his garbage and whatever else he didn't want to pack out. It wasn't until a year later, when a small suitcase floated onto the rocks, that the case was finally solved. Unfortunately no one knew where Brad Puffup was at, so that part remains unsolved. 

   Goodox took his brood off somewhere, probably far, far away as soon as they were no longer suspects, Pernickul was finally released from jail and, vowing to never insult a wizard again, he and his drinking buddies started new families, none of whom cared much for drinking parties anymore and Brad Puffup ended up falling into a well. 

A Rambling Conjecture - By Silver 

      So I was at the word mill recently, browsing like I do, viewing the stacks of words, marvelous words as well as despicable words, all there to see, when I realized I was not following even my own constantly evolving script, rather I was going all willy-nilly, a phrase I enjoy, using it often, willy-nilly or off the rails, as has been suggested before. Where might this lead? 

   Perhaps to what has been called stream of consciousness writing? Wringing out as much usable content as you can from the piles of garbage that so easily accrue. Every hang up and folly that's going through your mind written while it's still going, still dropping, no need to clean up, not now anyway. 

   Soon I'll go walking in the city of my dreams.  All of my dreams are allegedly waking dreams, dreams of a consciousness that is, on so many levels, unconscious. Unconscious enough to dream and dreaming dreams while seeing, smelling, and feeling things that seem to be co-creators of my awake dream so that nothing really is what I think it is. Certainly not what I'd been taught, although I must admit I hadn't actually been listening, but still. Things I'd heard by chance, perhaps. 

   The only actual career I've ever had was being retired and making up silly stories like this. Prior to retirement I worked at various jobs, certainly nothing like a career. Now I no longer represent value to the system, not that I ever did, not much anyway, but now it's zilch, nothing at all here, in my only career, for the rich. I feel bad for them and wonder if I should have chosen another career? I suspect this is merely a dream, another of my waking dreams that has nothing to do with whatever I was talking about. Never does. 

   Meanwhile, all along the vast walls, streets, and grottos where the unwashed cower, there's a new song a singing with everyone singing along, all along. And all our careers were just places they've put us, keeping us docile, giving us treats here and there, letting us scrap and bite each other so maybe it'll all somehow seem real, like something we'd all agreed on, like the dream was the real deal, like there could be heroes. 

   Soon I'll go walking in the city of my dreams.    

The Ticket Master - By Rosy 

   Hello. Now listen: I'm Traffic Control Agent Jant Rivitir, Parking Compliance Division. My people are called PCA's; Parking Compliance Agents and we'll ticket you faster than that, even faster if we have to because we're tough, dedicated professionals, impossible to bribe so don't even try. 

   Our job is why we're tough, because it's a tough job. Each lane and byway in Elvenstead is lined with parked waggals, brooms, rolled up carpets, bicycles, tricycles and cycles without wheels, umbrellas and whatever else people use to get around with. Just sitting there waiting for their masters to return and all this must be regulated and paid for. That's a tough job and it's my job. I make my rounds on a small service broom, a practical Damfaster with a little robot ticket-wizard floating along behind. Soon as your time is up, believe me, I'm there. Or one of the other PCA's patrolling Elvenstead's streets. Our division isn't very big so if we're not there right away, please just wait a bit, we shan't be long. 

   Today I'm patrolling South Elvenstead along Weevin Boulevard and down to Rattern Way, that whole area. Considered a poor part of town with grog and mead dens, rundown rentals and a lot of poor people, dwarves mainly but elves, faeries, humans, trolls, all are here, even an orc or two no doubt, and all park their 

mobiles along the boulevard. Whenever someone has overstayed their time, their space begins to glow red. That's when I show up, issue a ticket and justice is served. It's an implacable process. 

   I see a space glowing red a ways up the boulevard and accelerate my Damfaster swooping down on the malefactor's space. It contained an ancient Besom 100, a broom I haven't seen since I was a kid, and they were ancient then. I stared in fascination as my ticket-wizard printed the citation, which I reverently stuck to the broom. Just then the next space started glowing red. 

   “What's going on here?” a loud voice spoke behind me. 

   I turned to see two elderly types, stylish elves who evoked a lost era of grace and dignity. 

   “Good morning, sir. I'm ticketing these two spaces for being past due.” 

   “That's preposterous!” the old gentle-elf exclaimed. “It could not have been more than a few seconds past, a minute at most.” 

   “Past due is past due,” I stated, trying to be nice. “Ticket-Master,” I said to the ticket-wizard, “the past due time please.” 

   “Fifty eight seconds, Ma'am.” 

   “What's going on here? Who's that?” the elderly lady asked. She was squinting through thick glasses and had a cone to her long, pointed ear for hearing. 

   “We were late getting back!” the gentle-elf exclaimed. “Fifty-eight seconds and she's writing a ticket.” 

   “Howzat?” she asked, grabbing her broom from the red glowing spot next to us. It was another ancient Besom 100. Wow. I stared in admiration and well, awe. Awe and wonder. 

   “The meter maid said I was late and gave me a ticket,” the gentle-elf said with a scowl. Wait, what? Meter maid? I was shocked. 

   “I am not a meter maid!” I exclaimed. I couldn't help myself. “I'm a Traffic Control Agent!” I showed him my badge. “Compliance division, and right now you're not complying.”   

   “Is that right?” he said, grabbing his own broom. Both spaces were green now and a waggal was angling into one of them. I was determined to stand firm, but I couldn't help eyeing his broom. I never thought I'd see one again outside of a museum.  

   “How's that broom fly?” I asked, pointing to his Besom. “It looks pretty old.” 

   “Oh uh-huh, yeah she is,” he muttered. Then he focused on the broom. “Ah yes. Yes, she is, she's quite old. She's a rare old flyer, a highflyer of grace and beauty.” 

   “Besom 100, isn't she?” 

   “Why yes, yes she is.” 

   “Old wreck, as far as I'm concerned,” the old lady yelped, “I'm going home.” Then she mounted her broom and with a classic cackle, took off. 

   The old fellow looked at me. “Care to take it for a spin?” he asked with a twinkle in his eye. 

   Would I ever! But I hemmed and I hawed knowing I shouldn't, then, well, I flew that old broom for a few loop the loops, around the block and to the edge of space and back. She handled remarkably well, with a finesse you don't see in modern brooms, even though she was probably hundreds, maybe thousands of years old. Her landing was a bit rough but, oh, what a thrill! 

   I had my ticket-wizard void the old gent's ticket before continuing my rounds. I mean fifty-eight seconds is easily overlooked, am I right?

The VIP Visit - By Rosy 

   Darnalongs are insanely colorful birds with tall thin legs, rather like storks, and long yellow beaks with lips on the end. They are known to be eccentric both in dress and outlook.  

   Windigale Ossep is a famous Darnalong reporter who has many odd Uncles. One particular Uncle named Clankey is a reprobate and a scoundrel. He is also a high ranking member of Darnalong News, Inc. which functions almost like a family. Mainly the Ossep family, I think but I'm not sure, could be a group of likeminded . . . well, let's just say an oddly connected, somewhat disparate group of Darnalongs who identify as members of Darnalong News, Inc. Maybe it's an extended family or maybe they're all just scamming each other. Who knows? Anyway, Uncle Clankey is high up in that thing. Maybe the boss. He usually travels with a marching band who arrive before him so they can musically announce his entrance, whenever possible that is, since Uncle Clankey does not wish to intrude, except whenever possible.  

   Windy and her sister Addagale share an apartment in the Infinite Hallway beneath the Darnalong Stump behind the Golly Orchard. It's a quiet neighborhood, Section 700-051-Golly, and is inconveniently located several kilometers westerly of the lobby, which is under the Stump, with apartments usually about a kilometer or two apart. 

   Windy and Addy's nondescript door simply says 'Ossep' on it in barely discernible letters. They do not receive visitors, at least not well, nor any other kind of correspondence. The Infinite Hallway does not have Wi-Fi nor, as you may have guessed, any other kind of reception. So for Windy Ossep to be a famous reporter for Darnalong News, Inc., a reporter who reports the news, many days without even leaving her and Addy's spacious apartment, which is somewhere in the Infinity Hall, is either amazing or ridiculous or ridiculously amazing. This is causing people to wonder how does she do it? 

   When asked once in a rare interview how she does it she waved a wing nonchalantly and replied, “I just don't think about it, you know I know I just don't know, so when I sing about it, shout about it, how about it goes to show what I don't know then usually, most generally, I mean specifically it's whatever's left that I report.” After a few moments of stunned silence she added, “Not much to see, you see.” 

   Today her report included a story about the impending visit of Uncle Clankey, a story that disturbed her listeners even more than her normally disturbing content. Oh, I forgot to mention. Darnalong News, Inc. is well known locally as purveyors of bad news. It's disturbing and it has many listeners. But Uncle Clankey? That news was worse and most everyone knew it. People tried to prepare as best they could. 

   Uncle Clankey arrived the very next morning, crack of dawn. There was a loud, probably amplified, jazz bugle and violin wakeup call from unseen sources. This was followed by a giant hot air balloon, maybe thirty meters long and twelve or so wide, that came rumbling down Elvenstead's main boulevard, hundreds of lights flashing, buzzers buzzing, pushing aside cars and buses not quick enough to get out of the way, bending or breaking stoplights, utility poles and whatever else was in the way. Then, from the forward compartment with strange lights in the windows, music could be heard. It was the rousing sounds of a marching band playing heroic music and when the balloon came to rest in front of the capital the giant cow catcher in front spread apart, knocking aside several more buses and cars, allowing a ramp to come down and that band marched right out, in step, their music blaring. 

   People stood in stunned disbelief yet were musically roused to solemn, often heroic poses as the band passed by. Then came the great Darnalong himself, Uncle Clankey strutting his stuff. Most the people didn't know who Uncle Clankey was, just that it said in giant red letters on either side of the balloon, 'Uncle Clankey!' and that this personage was arriving in a traffic-crunching balloon with a marching band, well that was enough. Who needed more? This was something they'd all dreamed of doing. Or something like it. They applauded and cheered. Fireworks began popping and fizzing overhead. 

   Somehow a stage appeared and Uncle Clankey climbed solemnly up the steps and walked slowly, amid thunderous cheers and stamping feet, across the stage then, stopping behind a podium, he raised his scarlet and green fringed wings for silence. The marching band stopped and stood at attention. 

   “I am thrilled,” he began, holding a wing over his heart, “absolutely thrilled that you all got to see me today!” Now he blew kisses and stepped off the stage. Again the enormous crowd cheered and cheered.