9 June, 2010 Somehow I seem to have fallen out of fictional inspiration lately, having difficulties finding the time and inspiration to focusing my mind on it. It is still my hope and intention to some day get back to the Wordzzle game and finish off The Slumber Party Mystery story.
Tibetan sky, symbols, won’t you come home Bill Baily, shadow figures, brain cortex, practice makes perfect, life, start of school, lavender, chow down, mental hospital, falling leaves, apple cider, packing crates, clues
The Slumber Party Mystery Chapter 30 – Interview with the General
After leaving Dr Challenge's house, Skittles decided to go to the hospital to check how the Brigadier General was doing. He found the General sitting in his bed trying to chow down his breakfast. He did not seem to recognize Skittles. A young nurse was making up an empty bed next to him, while singing "Won't you come home Bill Baily". The sheets were the colour of lavender. She stopped singing when Skittles entered, and smiled at him while tucking in the last corner. "There, practice makes perfect!" she said. "Are you looking for someone?"
Skittles introduced himself and asked in a low voice if it would be all right if he talked a little to the General. The girl nodded towards a frosted window, behind which some shadow figures could be seen moving.
"You had better ask the head nurse first," she said. So Skittles went out into the corridor, and then into the nurse's office.
"Hm," said the head nurse. "Police, eh? I'm not sure the patient is up to being questioned. He has not been quite coherent. The doctor says the problem is probably in his brain cortex. But all right. You may try. No more than ten minutes, though!"
Skittles went back into the General's room and sat down on a chair beside the bed.
"Good morning, General," he said. "Do you remember me, Lieutenant Skittles? We met yesterday, in your garden, after your" – Skittles made a short pause – "accident."
The General looked sharply at him.
"I'm in a mental hospital, aren't I?" he asked. "Are you here to get me out, or to get me locked up for good?"
"No," said Skittles. "I mean… This is not a mental hospital, it is a regular hospital. You were in a kind of accident and probably had a bit of a shock yesterday. I just wanted to ask you if you remember what happened?"
The General seemed to be thinking hard.
"We were picking apples to make apple cider," he said. "After start of school, but before the falling leaves, you know. But then one of the packing crates fell on me."
Skittles did not know how to respond to this. This must refer to some much earlier event in the General's life.
"Eh… I'm afraid that cannot have been yesterday," he said.
"No?" said the General, looking surprised. "Let me think…" He leaned back on the pillows, and closed his eyes. Skittles was almost sure he had fallen asleep, when he suddenly looked up again.
"Tibetan sky burials!" said the General triumphantly. "I was reading about them, in that magazine with the strange symbols on the front cover."
Skittles sighed, and gave up hope of getting any real clues out of the Brigadier General as to what had really happened the day before.
The words this week were provided by Argent, and made me want to shout AAAAAAAAHRG...ENT… How am I supposed to fit baubles and tinsel into a story that is taking place in the heat of summer?! (LOL) This is what came into my head, and it's not moving my story forward AT ALL, but I do not have time to rethink, so here it is anyway:
The Slumber Party Mystery Chapter 29 – At the Grocery Store
At the store, Saturday morning, William was unloading a lot of goods that had arrived the previous afternoon and had been left outside over night. As expected, his boss, Mr Engine, generally known as just Mr E, was very angry about his late arrival back at the store last night, and did not even want to listen to William's explanation.
"You had better start unloading those fizzing sodas immediately," he said. "They're full of carbon something you know and might explode any moment if they're left out in the sun! It's outrightdangerous, so just get on with it! And when you're done with that, you will have to clear a space at the back of the storage room for those boxes over there."
William had his inner feelers out; he knew that in this mood Mr E was not to be reasoned with, so he shut up, obeyed orders and "got on with it". Mr E, meanwhile, went into his office to make a phone call. William could hear him throught he glass door, yelling something about freight and a ship destined for Hell. Or at least that was what it sounded like.
The soda bottles safely inside, William went over to look at the rest of the goods. He was somewhat surprised to find three boxes marked "baubles", "tinsel" and "evergreen festoons". He looked through the window into the office again. Mr E had put the phone down, and was now taking a drink from a bottle of brown stuff. William recognized the bottle, Mr E kept it in a special cabinet and it was labelled "Universal Medicine". Mr E used it frequently. Sometimes it seemed to calm him down. Sometimes not.
William knocked very lightly on the door, got a grunting reply and stepped inside.
"Excuse me, sir," he said. "Those boxes with Christmas ornaments…?"
"Yes, yes, I know it's still summer!" said Mr E sullenly. "They are bespoke. By Mrs E, for the Christmas ballet. Last year we didn't get the stupid things until New Year, so this year she wanted to make sure! As I said – just clear some space and put them at the back!"
The Slumber Party Mystery Chapter 28 – A Nightmare
Lieutentant Skittles lay awake that night, turning things over and over in his head. He did not usually work on weekends – emergency calls were then referred to the police station in a bigger city - but this Saturday he decided to pay tribute to his own sense of duty and put in some extra hours anyway. He hoped his superiors would see this as a plus in the upcoming promotion talks. The thing was, Dr Adam Challenge had talked of coming down to the police station "tomorrow", but Skittles doubted that he really meant to - and if he did, he would find the station closed, because it was Saturday. But Skittles could go and see Adam…
Adam had not slept well either. He was usually no slave to alcohol, but last night he had got drunk, and in the night he had dreamt very strange dreams, in which he had been running an organic farm growing carrots, which he had then attempted to feed to an alligator. But the alligator had attacked the boat he was sitting in, and had preferred to chew on the propeller; which Adam had then attempted to fix with a chisel, even though it did not really seem like the right kind of tool for the job. Just as the boat was sinking under him, however, he woke up. He fumbled for the alarm clock, but pressing the button didn't help. After a while, he realised that it was not the alarm clock that was ringing – it was the door bell.
Adam, in spite of being saved from drowning, did not feel in charitable mood when he opened the door, and even less when he found Skittles outside.
"Oh, it's you," he growled moodily. "I was asleep, you know. I'm not usually up with the lark on my days off! Is there an emergency?"
Skittles did not answer. "May I come in?" he asked. Adam realized it was no use saying no, and stepped aside to let the lieutenant pass into the hallway.
Skittles looked around curiously and noticed a suitcase in a corner. Had the doctor been making preparations to go away?
"Going somewhere?" he asked, nodding towards the suitcase.
Adam sighed. "I had intended to go up the mountainside to a cabin and do a bit of climbing this weekend," he said. "But that was before I got that possible suicide note from the General. I decided I had to check that out first, and then you know what happened. I'm not planning to run off anywhere now, if that's what you're thinking!"
"Good," said Skittles. "I'm not accusing you of anything, it just struck me that I forgot to tell you yesterday, that I strongly advise you not to leave town."
The two men looked at each other. It was evident that neither of them was exactly in worship of the other.
Back down in the hall, Skittles had intended to leave the house through the front door and go home, but suddenly changed his mind. Instead, he went back into the library, which now lay mostly in shadows. The doors to the terrace were still open, letting an evening breeze in. Outside, he could hear the faint swooshing of the watering device in perpetual motion, still distributing an even sprinkle of water over the lawn. He closed the door to the hall behind him, then also the doors to the terrace before he switched on the light. He went behind the General's desk to have a glance at the books. He was soon able to establish that if they were arranged in any kind of order, at least it was not alphabetical. "Preservation of liberty" he read on the back of one. "Caterpillars in World War I" it said on another. Skittles decided not to waste any more time on the books; it was something else that had made him go back in here. He went over to the ginger jar with the sunflower pattern, lifted the lid and peered down into it. Yes. The letter was still there. He had completely forgotten to ask Diana why she had put it there, he had only remembered it as he came downstairs again. He took the letter out and looked at it. It was addressed to Diana c/o the General's address, and it was postmarked in Miami. He turned it over. Nothing on the back, except for a few ink stains. What was it she had said about the plot in her book… something involving a blackmail letter and postage… and he was sure Florida had been mentioned, too. Skittles weighed the letter in his hand and in his mind for a while. Then he sighed and put it back into the jar. Being intrigued by a young lady's singularity was hardly reason enough for him to open a letter that she claimed to have written to herself. Flattery might be a better way to get her to explain. But not tonight. Skittles put the letter back in the jar, turned off the light, opened the glass doors to the terrace and went out into the night.
Upstairs, Diana had turned her computer on again to print out a copy of her next translation assignment, and was annoyed to find her email inbox full of spam. What she had hoped to be serious job offers turned out to be an offer of cheap plastic surgery, and instructions how to climb a telephone pole. Diana did not consider herself in need of either.
This is a blog where I wrestle with attempts at fiction, and participation in challenges like Wordzzles.
The Slumber Party Mystery
The Slumber Party Mystery is an ongoing story which is based on the Saturday Wordzzle Challenges from the blog Views from Raven's Nest. Each Saturday, Raven provides 10+5=15 words and/or phrases, which you are supposed to weave into a context. You can use either the 10 words, or just the "mini" 5 words, or all 15 together as a mega challenge, as you please.
I have been partaking since April 2009; my first entry based on Raven's Challenge # 57, and originally published at my blog The Island of the Voices.
I did not really have in mind to make it an ongoing story, but somehow it turned into one. From Challenge # 90 onwards, I decided to move the whole story (previous episodes copied) to this blog instead.
If you are new to the story, or feel that you have lost track of it (I don't blame you!), there is a summary.