Monday, November 17, 2014

Hate to Say I Told You So: Part 7

Part 7:  Follow the Lollypop Guild

"Where are we?"  Abby asked while lying on her back in the middle of a green field of grass beneath a bright blue and white sky.  She was still dizzy from the transport and the kaleidoscopic colors still danced at the corners of her eyes.  Her ears still rang with, "miles and miles..."

"Shh,"Troy Green, Associate Professor of Ethnology and Comparative Religions scolded his buxom companion, Abby Bancroft, Krav Maga instructor, "We might be on the ramparts of the Wizardess' fortress."

Dartegnan Pneumann, father of abducted daughter, Susan,  managed to stick his head up.  With his long neck he managed to barely glimpse over the tops of the grass and saw an adorably quaint village to his right, "Do you think her fortress is in that village?"

"What?"  Troy sat up and immediately wished he hadn't.  "That's the last time I pick a song spell from the 60's" he moaned and flopped back down.

"Troy," Abby said with some urgency.

"No, leave me be a moment.  My head is spinning, but the kids will be alright."

"Troy," there was even more urgency and Dart had joined in.

"No."  Troy said emphatically and managed to slur the short word, "I need rest.  The Wizardess' fortress is in fact a castle, which is, as I saw from my very quick, but thorough, long distance recon, all the way over there."  He waved over his head in the opposite direction from the village.

"Troy, the village is - "

"Of no concern to us.  Our goal is the castle, though I admit I expected it to be much closer."  He propped himself up on his elbows, but let his head hang down to look backwards as the castle.  "Much closer and less pink."

"Troy!"  Both Dart and Abby yelled.

"Troy?  Troy Green?"  A small, high, wizened voice crackled.

"Where?"  Troy sat up.  "Who else has my name?"

"Who else indeed?"

The trio all sat up and looked around themselves.  They were surrounded by small people, each carrying a drum or flute.  They looked ready to use them.

The musically armed posse were each brightly dressed in shades of a single color, but none exactly like another.  One particular drummer seemed better fed and perhaps more muscular than the others.  He wore a star on his blue jacket.  The woman beside him carried a pan flute and wore a red sash over the red jacket of a reddish suit.  Beside her was another woman, taller, thinner, younger, with wild blond hair all dressed in yellow.  She alone had a national guitar.

It was from behind these three that at elderly voice came, fragile yet playful.  It laughed.

"Who are you and why did you come here?"  The man in blue demanded.

"Troy Green, I told you," the still invisible voice said.

Troy got to his feet slowly and cautiously, more because that was the only way he could move than from a fear of the villagers.  He looked around the field they stood in, "This is public land, isn't it?"

The woman in red puffed her chest and looked sternly.  The woman in yellow arranged herself like she was about to do a Pete Townsend windmill and lay some serious power chords on them.  The man in blue looked irritated and hooked his thumbs in his belt, "Listen here.  I'm Sherriff Rufus and this is Mayor Sallee and Wizardess Areelee.  Although you are on public land we reserve the right to question any transdimensional travelers within a five mile range of our village.  Who are you and why are you here?"

"Troy Green!"  The invisible voice shrieked.

"Sherriff Rufus, I am indeed Troy Green, and my companions are the lovely Abby and the dashing Dart."

"Why are you here?"

"Let me ask you a question, if it has nothing to do with your village then why do you care?  Why the armed band, what has you so concerned?"

"Do you know where you are?"  Rufus asked.

"Some land primarily administered by the Brixies, I imagine a valley tucked away somewhere.  It's delightful by the way."

The mayor smiled and said, "Thank you," before she regained her composure and returned to her stern gaze.

"Is that the way it works?"  Dart asked.

"Primarily," Troy turned to speak to Dart.  He wobbled quite a bit when he did and the group surrounding them all raised their instruments to the ready.  "Sorry," Troy said to them, "I was just going to explain to my companion that most Brixies prefer to keep to themselves in far off corners of the world, either that of hidden parts of cities.  Did you ever notice how most buildings don't have a thirteenth floor?  Or do they?"

"This is not a valley, or even Earth."  Wizardess Areelee said, he voice was surprisingly beautiful and musical despite her look which conjured up images of a screaming banshee.

The old voice finally broke through the three officials and he brought a face with him.  An ancient looking Brixie poked his mostly bald head between the hips of Mayor Salee and Wizardess Areelee, "It's a pocket universe, created by the Witch," the old man pointed a crooked finger toward the castle, "Hello Troy, my boy.  Good to see you again."

"Bukus, my dear old friend!"  Troy scrambled over and got on his knees to hug the old Brixie.  "How did you get here?   I thought you were living in Patagonia like a king."

"I was, but the village here needed help so I followed them here, though they don't appreciate my help."  He shot a sneer at the Brixies around him.

"We don't need another Wizard," Areelee said.

"It's not like you've been any help anyway.  We're still here," Mayor Salee said.

"Where is here, what is here, what's a pocket universe and why are you in it?"

"A while back the Witch created this pocket universe as her own personal domain."

"Or discovered it," Areelee said.

"The Wizardess has her own theories, which may very well be valid.  Regardless of the universe's origin, the Witch has made it her headquarters and fortress.  She ripped a chunk out of Earth to make it more habitable and stole this village to help keep the land."

"To be her slaves," The mayor said.

"More like serfs," Bukus said.

"But why?"  Abby asked.

"We think she's in league with the Guns of Brixton."

"Isn't she human?  What do the Guns want from a human witch?"

"She has a very powerful army -"

"See!"  Dart said, "She she's probably kidnapped Susan to try to get the Hammer of the Gods.  I'll be she doesn't even want you."

Troy shrugged, "Some women do."

"There's another thing, "Sherriff Rufus said, "She has a fleet of flying monkeys."

"Of course she does," Abby said.

"Flying monkeys?"  Dart asked.

"Yes," Bukus said, "Just like those." He pointed to the group flying in tight formation from the castle.

"That looks bad," Troy said.

"It is," Rufus said, "Run!"   

As they were running the villagers played their instruments haphazardly.  It was more cacophony than music and had little effect.  Before they made it to the village the monkeys were above them.  Rather than having separate wings they looked like a cross between flying squirrels, bats and baboons.  They all wore helmets with spikes on them.

One of the monkeys had three bright metal pips on his helmet.  He carried what looked like a megaphone.

"I see you're prepared to pay my ransom, even though I hadn't told you what it was," a woman's voice came from the megaphone.

"In case you didn't know, this is the Witch, Kirke and I am very pleased with my ransom reward, however since you did not pay him to me you forfeit your daughter."

Troy pulled out an harmonica while he ran.  He turned and planted his feet to play, but as he took a deep breath a monkey swooped down and knocked it out of his mouth.

Dart drew his sword.

Another monkey hit Troy in the chest and knocked the wind out of him before he could even sing.

Two more hit Dart and Abby in the back, tumbling them to the ground in surprise.

Three monkeys swooped onto Troy before he fell and carried him away, one on each arm and one holding his mouth.

The megaphone laughed, cackled a moment, then resumed laughing as Troy was flown off in the direction of the castle.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Autumnal Cthulhu

I just made a submission to Lovecraft eZine's anthology AUTUMN CTHULHU.  With any luck I'll be letting you readers know that I've been accepted and how to get copies of the book.

Failing that I may post the story here.  I really like it and think it is unique in a couple of ways.  I'll let you know more in the next couple of months as I find out.

It has been a real struggle to get it done in time and I only submitted it with 45 minutes to spare.

Being ill and several other priorities have kept me from writing as prolifically as I wanted.  My number one priority is still learning Greek.

I also wanted to post to give you one last Cthulhu, thought I had decided that this is not he place for it this year.  I'm regretting that decision and will reverse it for next year.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oh Dear Cthulhu, What Have I Done?!

I made a decision at the beginning of this month with which I am very uncomfortable.

I decided that I should celebrate Cthulhu Month on Flowers of Mundelein.  I feel this is very inappropriate, and the Flower Followers (I just coined that, you like?) are just not ready for such raw cosmic horror and insanity.

Next year Cthulhu month will return to Illini6.  For now, like being on a rollercoaster the only thing we can do it hold on and get through it.
They just weren't ready

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hate to Say I Told You So: Part 6

Part 6:  Over Hills and Far Away

"Could I have a glass of water?"  Senaka Lincoln asked Maggie Pipp.  She stood shakily from casting her singing spell over the tiny droplets of blood.  Each droplet seemed to be vibrating in rhythm and Maggie wondered if it wasn't her imagination that she could hear the music they made.

"Were you successful?"

"I think so, but making magic always dries my mouth so."

Maggie fetched a glass of water from the kitchen.  When she brought it to Senaka the darker woman had been joined by the heavyset Jonny, the androgynous Sailor and a withered old man with dark leather skin and a ring of pure white around the back of his head.  He wore thick glasses and carried an ancient acoustic guitar.

"Ole-Man Rivers I'd like to introduce Margaret, "Maggie" Pipp, private detective and bedmate of Troy Green." Senaka said.

Ole-Man extended his hand and smiled broadly.  He had a full mouth of yellow, but straight, real teeth.  "Delighted to meet you Ms. Pipp.  They call me Ole-Man, though I've no idea a'tal why.  Ole-Man Rivers, and I must say it is a pure pleasure to meet someone so lovely as you, absolutely a pleasure."

"Thank you," Maggie took his rough and hard hand in a strong shake.

"Whelp, might as well get to hunting.  Where we headed?"

"I've cast a spell on the blood, I suspect it will lead us to the hospital or aid station they took the Gun."

"Guns, eh?"  Ole-Man adjusted his guitar on his chest and played a few notes.  "What tune we using to hunt them?"

"I was thinking of 'Further On Up the Road.'"

"Johnny Cash or Robert Jordan?"

"Why do you even have to ask?" Jonny said.

"Cash's tune is a good one, full of pain and longing, traveling and meeting."

"No magic stronger than Robert Jordan's," Sailor said.

"True, but I didn't want to assume nothing."

"Did you know Robert Jordan?"  Jonny asked with a smile.

"Stole this here guitar out his dead hands," Ole-Man quipped back and started strumming a blues progression.

Senaka touched Maggie's arm, "We're all going to cast a spell and travel by magic.  Do you have any weapons?"

"Um, some pepper spray I guess.  I'm not really that kind of detective.  I'm more the computer intelligence gathering type."

"That's fine.  Can you sing?"

Maggie's eyebrows did a bit of a dance as she struggled to decide how to answer, "Yes?"

"If you can harmonize and you know the tune then join in, but if you don't think you can, it's find you don't.  We'll all sit in a circle around the drops and hold hands.  No one will get lost."

They did exactly like Senaka described.  Jonny helped Ole-Man to sit.  They all crossed legs and took each other's hands except Senaka and Jonny on either side of Ole-Man each grabbed a belt loop so his hands would be free to play.

"Ready," Maggie said, but none seemed to be listening.

The song began.

Maggie was not that familiar with Robert Jordan.  She knew that he was a famous Blues musician who was rumored to have sold his soul to the devil for musical talent.  Maggie was only familiar with the Eric Clapton version of the song.

As Ole-Man played, Maggie wondered if he hadn't sold his soul as well, the music was every bit as good as Clapton and maybe even better.  When it was time for the singing part though, it was Jonny that actually led the group.

"Further on up the road
Someone's gonna hurt you like you hurt me.
Further on up the road
Someone's gonna hurt you like you hurt me.
Further on up the road,
Baby, just you wait and see."

His voice was soulful, throaty, manly and lusty.  On the second stanza Senaka joined in.

"You gotta reap just what you sow;
That old saying is true.
You gotta reap just what you sow;
That old saying is true.
Just like you mistreat someone,
Someone's gonna mistreat you."

The room started to vibrate.  It flowed like a hot breeze rising from the delta, swirling around, through their hair, through their clothes, into their souls.  It made Maggie feel lightheaded, but she bounced and swayed to the rhythm, just like the others.

Sailor joined in song, and Ole-Man hummed along, his guitar driving the tune, rippling through reality, opening eyes and minds and doorways.

"Further on up the road."

There was a road.  They spun round in their circle, cross-legged by floating on the music rather than sitting on the floor, the road stretched before them, but they moved along it, bouncing and sliding.

The road seemed to lead right into a room.  Their dirt country road spilled itself onto the wooden floor of a large bedroom.  The circle of singers suddenly found themselves seated cross-legged on the floor.

The room was full of Brixies.  Some were being bandaged, some bandaging, and others questioning the bandagees.  The questioners were the first to spot them and they did not look happy.

Maggie's head was full and wavering, like she had just had a very strong drink.  Senaka struggled to unfold her legs and stand up, cursing lightly under her breath.  Sailor and surprisingly Jonny sprang to their feet, seemingly ready for a brawl.

None of the Brixies were lavishly dressed, but one seemed more put together, cooler and more powerful than the others.  He turned slowly to look at the newly arrived, his arms folded.

Ole-Man had stopped strumming, but had made no attempt to rise.  He hung his head and said, "Too close, far too close.  Damn we're too good for our own good."

The Brixie leader gave a Shere Kahn smile, "So it would seem interlopers, so it would seem."

Friday, October 03, 2014

OMC - I Almost Forgot Cthulhu Month!

Oh
My
Cthulhu!

Here it is the third of October and I almost forgot Cthulhu month this year.  I'm so focused on learning Greek.

What a tragedy, a Greek tragedy.

I'll have to rectify that right now and catch up.  Here are three images to get you started.  I grabbed these pictures associated with H.P. Lovecraft's story, "From Beyond" because I am working on a story for an anthology based on this story.


These great pictures were the work of Christian Bravery.  He posted them on the Lovecraft Literary Podcast.  You should go to his site and check out all the other cool stuff he has done.  While you're there ask him to forgive Inner Prop for using his images.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hate to Say I Told You So: Part 5

Bigger Hole to Fill

"I like that attitude, girl," Senaka Lincoln told Detective Maggie Pipp.  "Troy, did they bleed?"

"I'll show you," Maggie said.

"Sailor, go get Ole-Man up here, we're hunting Brixies."  Senaka instructed the androgynous person of their group who nodded and dashed off.

"Are just the four of you going to go after them?  There were a dozen of them and I'm sure there were more where they came from.  What about the rest of the band?"

"We'll keep them on call, just in case.  Jonny, would send the little bird?"

The flush heavyset young bald man nodded and pulled a ceramic bird from inside his jacket.  He held it close to his mouth and began to whistle.  The song was intricate and beautiful, whistled incredibly well by a master, but it was dark and full of menace.  Maggie had never heard a whistle with so much ill portent.  As the song grew Jonny's eyes seemed to take on that shine a drunkards do when he begins a bottle.

Eventually the bird sounded like it was echoing the song, in a hollow, clear flute of its own.  It matched Jonny's song until it began to move and floated out of his hand.  On a rainbow of music the porcelain bird darted out the window and into the sky.

"Homing pigeon?" Maggie asked.

"Something like that," Senaka said.  "When the others get up here we will circle some of the spilled blood from the Brixies and begin the spell that should take us to them."

There wasn't much blood, just a few tiny drops here and there, mostly from Dart's strikes to heads or from mouths struck by Abby.  Maggie let them to the only drop that still seemed wet.

"If it takes us right to them, won't they be expecting us?"  Maggie asked.

"They'll be expecting us to track them through the Hammer itself, still we will have to be very careful about our song so that we harmonize, not chorus.  Please be quiet now," she bent over the drop and began to sing softly to it.  It was a quiet call and response.  Senaka would sing and listen to the response.  She swayed as she did it and Maggie could see her lips move, but she could hear almost nothing.

"Right, "Troy whispered, "We'll have to do something along the same lines.  Abby, why don't you get dressed and meet Dart and me in the office?"

She nodded and was gone in a flash.

"What's in the office?"  Dart asked.

"It has soundproofing.  I trust you have something of your daughters by which we can track her?"

"I have photos, I don't think anything else."

"Digital photos are far less than ideal, however she has half your genetics, that should help."

"Just the three of us are going after a wizardess and a pack of goons?"

"She is after me, Dart, so I suspect she will not anticipate my getting closer to her, also, I am a very powerful wizard, very powerful indeed."

"Yes you are," Abby had returned and nuzzled him close to him from behind.  Troy turned to admire her.

She wore her medium length hair in a wide violet ribbon and a summer dress different from the long black dress she had worn to the wedding the previous night.  She had replaced her heels with ballet flats, and carried her purse.

"You are quick.  Where did those clothes come from?"  Troy smiled.

"I was a Girl Scout, don't you know," she patted her purse and kissed him.  He returned her kiss a moment before he continued speaking to Dart, "Finally, you are quite handy with the stick and Abby is a mistress with the kicks.  I've no doubt of our success."

He held the office door open.

"I did mean to compliment you on that hockey-stick play this morning, "Abby said impressed.

"Well," Dart shrugged, "With a name like D'Artagnan you'd better be able to handle a sword.  I started with high school fencing, then kendo, then medieval swordplay, quarterstaff, bo, hanbo, and finally a little hockey.  I've never seen moves like you pulled this morning.  That was truly amazing and stunning to watch."

Abby smiled, "In addition to aerobics, yoga, Pilates and tai chi; I teach jujitsu and krav maga."

"Impressive," Dart said.

"Very impressive," Troy added and kissed her on the neck.

"And you are sure this wizardess wants you as an erotic toy; there could be no other motive?"

"No," Troy kissed Abby on the lips, "It is plain as day, which is why we specifically must be the ones to go after her."

They were just entering the office, but from across the room Senaka snorted derisively.  Laughing she lifted her head from her song-spell, "Won't you get a room, all these jokes are breaking my concentration."

"She doesn't think it could be that," Dart said.

"She's jealous," Abby said.  Dart remained unconvinced.

They entered the office and closed the door firmly.  Troy went to a wooden display case next to the one that had held the Hammer of the Gods.  He handed the contents, a sword and scabbard to Dart.

Dart took them and looked the sword over.  It was a plain and simple yet elegant and exquisite small-sword.  He gave it two practice swings and two perfect tones sang from it, as if the greatest soprano were singing to her lover, or angels were blowing across the strings of a Stradivarius.

"It's a singing sword," Troy beamed.

"Really?"  Dart sheathed the sword.

Troy shrugged, "I'm a collector."  He looked around the room and clapped his hands.  "You can both sing, right?"

Dart and Abby nodded.

"Hmm, we need something strong, powerful, demanding, something we three can sing, I believe rock, hard, metal, yes, I think I have the appropriate song.  Do you both know, 'I Can See for Miles' by The Who?"

"Yes."

Troy didn't say another word, but belted out the opening line, "I know you've deceived me, now here's a surprise.  I know that you have 'cause there's magic in my eyes."

They all joined in, "I can see for miles and miles and miles..."

The song went on, winding around them.  It didn't take long before the room was spinning psychedelia.  A kaleidoscopic tube grew round them opening on a scene of green and blue and white, gold and silver, ivory, ruby, emerald, sapphire.

The song twisted and turned for, "Miles and miles and miles and miles" as they slid through the tube of color and music up and down, round and round until the tube ended, gently dropping them through the hole at the end into a whole new world.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hate to Say I Told You So: Part 4

Join Together With the Band

"What is that?"  Dart insisted as all the doors and windows of Troy Green's apartment suddenly, magically flew open.

"Hello in the house!"  Called an alto woman's voice, clear and melodic.   Then came a chorus of at least three harmonized voices, "Is everything alright?"

The four at the breakfast nook, Troy, Abby Bancroft, Maggie Pipp and Dart Pneuman suddenly felt safer and happier than they had before the doors had opened.  They followed Troy as he got up and all closed doors and windows as they moved to the front door.

Troy sang out, "Welcome to the band!"

In the front room, coming in the door were three people who couldn't have been more different.  They were led by a tall, leggy woman with ebony skin and caramel-cotton candy hair.  Her clothes were well tailored, but oddly mismatched in color.  She was followed by a young, but heavy bald man the color of an uncooked crab and covered with acne scars.  The third person was almost indescribable only because it was nearly impossible to say anything definite about the person, not hair, eye or skin color; not height or weight; not shape or even gender.  The only thing that could be said was the person looked healthy in a loose fitting top and jeans.

"This is your band?"  Dart asked.

"Don't I remember it being bigger last night?"  Maggie asked.

"This is just most of the rhythm section.  This is Senaka Lincoln."

The dark woman smiled and said, "Bass."  She held up the electric bass in her hands.

"Jonny Wales, piano," Troy continued.

"Pleased to meet you," the heavy man said in a tenor voice with a Welsh accent and yellow but straight teeth.  The others would have thought of it as a British accent.  He was carrying an amp for Senaka's bass.

"And this is Sailor Yamidori, our drummer.  I imagine Ole-Man Rivers couldn't make it up the stairs."

"He's in the van," Senaka said.  She was watching the women, and smiling at Troy.  "He won't drive it," she explained to them, "but he loves to sit in it."

"We all had attack nightmares and then this morning, we heard the didgeridoo and figured we best come straight away."

"That instrument is strictly defensive, and very powerful," Troy explained.  "We were accosted, but made good account of ourselves until -"

"I think your good account started last night."  Senaka smiled at Maggie and Abby, who both smiled back and each grabbed one of Troy's hands.  Senaka laughed.

"What's an attack nightmare?"  Maggie asked.

"Someone can enter your mind through your dreams and enchant you.  If you are familiar with magic you can defend against it, otherwise you might just wake up with a desire to do something you hadn't thought to do before."

"It's like long distance hypnotism."  Troy said, "What was the nature?"

"Trying to find you I think," Senaka said, the other two agreed.

"I got a feminine sense too," Jonny added.

"Then it's not likely our attackers.  I can't imagine they were only just trying to find my location the night before an attack like that.  They made off with the Hammer of the Gods."

"I thought you made a good account of yourself?"  Senaka was suddenly angry.

"We did," Maggie institsted, "They rescued me and drove off the attackers."

"None of that means anything if they use the Hammer.  Did he tell you about it?"

"He did," Abby said, "and we were just going to go after it."

"And my daughter.  If this attack nightmare wasn't about this Hammer, maybe it was about her."

"Yes," Troy said, his hand on his chin thinking, "Tell me more about the dream."

"Are you kidding," Senaka said, "We need to go after the ones that got the Hammer.

"We have to do both.  Jonny, what was that about a feminine feel?"

"There was desire there, I think, and sexuality."

"You always want sexuality in your dreams," Senaka said.

"I think there were monkeys and dancing."  Sailor nodded behind him.

"That's it, Dart," Troy said.  He turned to the bandmembers, "Dart Pneuman came to me this morning for help, as he daughter was abducted last night at a wedding by a woman and dark henchmen."

He turned to Dart, "The Wizardess has kidnapped your daughter and used the attack nightmares to find me."

"But why?"  Dart asked.

"Isn't it obvious?  She's infatuated with me and wants to trap me into a sexual prison of her own misguided desires."

Senaka laughed and Dart looked confused.  Maggie squeezed Troy's hand, stepped closer to him and batted her eyes while nodding.

Abby looked furious, "I am willing to share, but I will never let you be taken like that.  Just let the bitch try.  We are going after her!"

Senaka forced herself to straighten up and wiped tears from her eyes, "That actually makes some sense.  Jonny, Sailor, Ole-Man and I can go after the Hammer.  You don't know where they took it do you?"

"No, I'm afraid I don't."

"I'm going with you," Maggie said.

"Us?"  Senaka asked, "Who are you?"

"I'm Margret Pipp, Private Detective and I'm the kidnap victim that's going to come back and bite them in the behind."