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.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Raven's Saturday Wordzzle Challenge # 101

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge #101

smoothness, crafty, purchase, brief, chirping, forever, shift, moonrise, lampshade, stereotype

remembrance, Dr. John, Agent 012, dragons, Fortress

The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 47 - Remembrances

The General shifted position a little in his chair, still looking at his granddaughter. Through the open door to the terrace they could hear birds chirping outside as the rain began to fall.

"Do you know, gentlemen," he said, "my Diana is a very crafty young lady. And then I'm not talking about embroidery," he added, nodding at the sampler Diana was stitching on. "Nor about painting, although she's very good at that too."

"She really is!" said William. "I remember at school...You were phenomenal!" He somehow managed to look admiringly at Diana and triumphantly at Skittles (who was sitting next to her) at the same time. ("Ah, so they know each other since childhood," thought Skittles.)

Diana started to say something, but was interrupted by a sudden noise out in the hall. It sounded like something had fallen to the floor. A moment later, the door opened, and Bumblebee entered carrying a tea tray. William hurried to remove the treasure chest from the table, and Bumblebee put the heavy tray down.

"I'm sorry, sir, miss," he said, turning first to the General, then to Diana. "I'm afraid I happened to knock over that lamp in the hall. My elbow got caught in the lampshade."

The General frowned and looked displeased. "That lamp was quite a good purchase back when I bought it," he said. "Please keep in remembrance that..."

"Oh, never mind the lamp!" said Diana. "It was an ugly old thing. Just serve the tea, please, Bumblebee. We have some things to discuss here and if we don't get on with it we'll be here forever - or, not to use stereotypes, at least until moonrise."

There was a brief silence while Bumblebee, managing to regain his usual butlerish smoothness, poured the tea, and plates were passed around.

"Now," said Diana, when the butler had shut the door behind him again, "will you get on with the tale, Grandpa, or shall I?"

"Yes, that's the question," said the General. "In a way, some of it is really your story rather than mine, isn't it?" Turning again to the police officers and the doctor, he continued: "Diana, you see, has the aspiration to become a novelist. She has always been good at making up stories. When she was a little girl, for example, she used to pretend this house was a fortress, and that I was the dragon guarding the treasures. And the first time Dr Challenge came to visit..."

"Yes, yes, enough about old times!" said Diana, suddenly blushing and seeming a bit embarrassed as she glanced at Skittles. "The thing is, now I'm writing what I hope to be a real detective novel, but there were some details I wasn't feeling quite sure about how they would work out in real life. So, as I already told you, John, I tried some experiments. Of which some turned out more successful than others. No, please don't interrupt - you have not yet heard the full story. Grandpa and I talked it over, and we decided the best thing would be to gather everybody together again who was here on Friday. Of course we hadn't counted on the extra addition of Agent 012 here" (she nodded at Matthew Turtles) "but that doesn't really matter."

Friday, 19 February 2010

Raven's Saturday Wordzzle Challenge # 100

Congratulations to Raven
for having kept this game going for 100 weeks!

Condolences to Betty
on the loss of your husband, and our blogging friend, Dr John.
We will all miss the adventures of Agent 012, 
the extraordinary village life in Pigeon Falls,
and the fiery comments from the Dragons.
Please also read the In Memoriam post at my other blog,
The Island of the Voices!

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge # 100

The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 46 - Sparrow and Little Lark

transfixed, treachery, basics, fragrance, sampler, pregnant, cartoons, lark, spartan
 rapid, camping, blandishments, transitory, plug-ins

They all sat like transfixed while the Brigadier General told them the story about the Indian Chief Baying Wolf and his daughter Sparrow.

Skittles was sitting next to Diana, and every now and then the discreet fragrace of her perfume tickled his senses. She had picked up a piece of embroidery from a basket nearby to work on while her grandfather told the story. It seemed to be some kind of sampler. His colleague and friend Matthew had taken up a notebook and a pencil. Skittles couldn't see whether he was taking notes, or just drawing cartoons (something of a hobby of Matt's).

"And so because of a white man's treachery," the General continuted, "Sparrow found herself pregnant without a father for her child. And she died giving birth to a little half-blood, who grew up with her grandfather and whom he called Little Lark. But Little Lark too, as she became a grown woman, fell in love with a white man. And when Baying Wolf saw that he could not stop her, he gave her his blessing. But after she had gone away, he felt that his end was coming, and he went up into the mountains to find his final resting place. And there was a terrible snow storm that night, and his remains were never found. But Little Lark inherited his treasure chest. The contents may seem spartan to you, but this is the headband and the feather worn by Sparrow on the day that she gave life to Little Lark, and gave up her own."

"And where do the bones come into it?" asked Matthew curiously. He had in fact been writing down the basics of the story in his notebook.

"Ah, the bones!" said the General. "Yes. What do you make of them?"

All the men leaned over the chest and looked again at the small pieces of broken bones.

"Well," said Adam, who by now had almost forgotten why he had come, and was just as fascinated as the others by the story. "They certainly don't look human to me. I would say bird bones, actually."

"Ah," said the General. "And now you wonder, don't you, how some bird bones came to be seen as holy relics?" He did not wait for their answers, but continued: "You see, among these Indians, there was the idea that when someone died, they took the form of the animal whose name they bore. And these are sparrow bones."

"As I've told you before, I never thought that made any sense," said Diana in the background. "Because it's the soul that's supposed to turn into animal, isn't it. Not the body."

"Now, well," said her Grandfather. "Remember Baying Wolf. His body was never found either."

"So," said Matthew, "you're suggesting some kind of transitory change of body before final death? Don't think I ever heard of that one before."

"I'm not saying I believe it," was the rapid reply from the General. "Just telling you what the legend says."

"It's a remarkable story," said Skittles. "And I'm impressed with your narrative skills. But you have not yet told us how the chest came to be in your possession. Or how you learned about the legend."

"I was coming to that," said the General. "No blandishments needed, but you must have a little patience with an old man. I'm not adapted to this modern plug-in world! I belong to a generation in which the telling of a story was allowed to take time. Especially since I have Indian blood running through my veins."

He looked very pleased with himself when he saw the surprise in the faces of his audience.

"Yes," he said. "Little Lark was my mother. And when I was a young boy, she used to take me camping in the Indian territory up in the mountains where she grew up. Although she married a white man, she never forgot about her roots. She was a wise woman, and she knew much about the old Indian traditions. She taught me a lot more than just legends, too."

He fell silent, and glanced at his granddaughter.
Diana nodded at him, and said: "Yes. Go on. You should tell them."

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Raven's Saturday Wordzzle Challenge # 99

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge # 99

thermometer, Pandora, vivid, langourous, Saturday, pancreas, apple dumplings, watch tower, lichen, sparrow

rigid, spiritual, ribbon, web cam, vitamins

The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 45 - The Treasure Chest

"Excuse me, miss," said Bumblebee, as the ring tone sounded again. "There seems to be somebody at the door. If it is those people from the Watchtower again, shall I just send them away or do you want to talk to them?"

"Somehow I doubt it will be a while before they come back to this house for a spiritual talk," said Diana. "I think it's probably someone else this time."

Skittles in his head got a vivid image of Diana managing to totally confuse the Watchtower people by a discussion about the use of web cams in modern art. (Was it really this Saturday - that is, yesterday - that she had dragged him through the Modern Art Museum?)

Bumblebee disappeared out into the hall. The library seemed suddenly filled with a langourous atmosphere while they all waited for whatever was to happen next.

What happened next was that Bumblebee reappeared to announce the arrival of Dr Challenge. Right behind him, Adam entered, looking rather rigid and confused at seeing so many people assembled in the library.

"Oh," he said. "I'm sorry, I didn't know..." He broke off, needing a moment to take in the situation. What was the police lieutenant doing there again, and who was that other man? He decided for the moment to ignore them, and turned to the General.

"I just thought I'd come by to see how you are feeling, sir," he said to the old man. "I contacted the hospital, but they said you had been sent home already. I have to confess I'm rather surprised at your quick recovery."

"Ah," said the General. "You would be, I imagine. But it was just a spot of trouble with the pancreas."

"What?!" said Adam, obviously bewildered. "But..."

Bumblebee made a discreet cough and said, turning to Diana: "Excuse me, miss, but may I suggest apple dumplings for tea?"

"Absolutely," said Diana. "And don't forget Grandpa's vitamins, please."

Bumblebee left; and at the same time William entered, carrying a small wooden chest.

"Here it is," he said. "Baying Wolf's treasure chest. Where shall I put it?"

"On the table, please," said Diana. "John, you go ahead and open it!"

Everyone seemed to have forgotten about Adam. They all gathered around the table, except the General who was just leaning back in his chair nodding to himself with a smile.

The chest looked very old indeed. It seemed to Skittles that it even had lichen growing on it. But on the lid there was some kind of golden animal picture engraved.

"Go on, young man, open it!" said the General. "It's not Pandora's box, you know," he added in an amused tone of voice. "Nothing in there that will come out and bite you."

Skittles lifted the lid. At the bottom of the chest lay some very small pieces of broken bones, some kind of ribbon, and a small feather.

"Now we have a doctor in the house," the General said, turning to Adam again, "perhaps you can affirm that there is no thermometer that can measure wind chill, right?"

"Eh..." said Adam, not having the faintest idea what this was all about. "I suppose..."

"Now sit down, all of you," commanded the General, "and I'll tell you the story of how this treasure chest got into my hands. You see, there was this Indian Chief named Baying Wolf, and he had a daughter called Sparrow..."

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Raven's Saturday Wordzzle Challenge # 98

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge # 98

treasure chest, idiom, pantry, crippled, baying wolf, wind chill, time, angel, salamander, laundry list

risque, radish, ring tone, ravishing, ruler

The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 44 - Baying Wolf

"Well, Grandpa," said Diana, "I was just talking to the guys about those ancient relics of yours, and they're just dying to take a look at them. You don't mind, do you?"

"Of course not," said the General, handing the two kittens over to his granddaughter. "Here, take these for me, will you."

Diana had changed into a radish red dress before lunch and was looking absolutely ravishing bordering on risque. She did that in any color though, Skittles thought to himself.

Kneeling down on the floor to play with the kittens, Diana turned to William and said: "Will, please be an angel and fetch Baying Wolf's treasure chest for us. You know the one I mean. With the golden salamander on the lid."

"I know," said William, and trotted off out into the hall. Skittles, trying to collect his thoughts again, noted that it sounded like the young man went up the stairs. How come this young man was so familiar with the house that Diana even sent him to fetch valuable items from another room?

"Baying Wolf's treasure chest?" said Matthew. "That sounds intriguing."

"It is indeed!" said the General in an excited voice. Skittles couldn't get over his astonishment how remarkably less crippled the old man seemed today than yesterday at the hospital.

"You know," continued the General, "I read a most interesting article only last week about the wind chill factor up in those mountains."

Matthew raised his eyebrows, and Skittles sighed. Obviously the old man's mind was still confused. Diana did not show any reaction, though, and the General continued:

"Baying Wolf was an Indian Chief, you know. Rumor had it he froze to death, and with him died the secret where all the bodies were buried."

"But Grandpa," said Diana. "You know that's just an idiom. It can mean anything, not necessarily skeletons."

There was a discreet cough coming from the doorway. Bumblebee, the butler, had suddenly appeared, carrying a tray with a ruler and a piece of paper on it. "Excuse me, miss Diana," he said. "Here is the laundry list you asked for earlier. And the ruler."

"Thank you," said Diana. "I just can't seem to make a straight line without one," she remarked to no one in particular. "And Bumblebee, I think it is time for afternoon tea soon, don't you? I hope you still have some of that delicious jam of yours left in the pantry."

Somewhere in the house, a ring tone sounded. Skittles could not determine whether it was a telephone or a door bell.