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Category: Shim Shoy Folktales

The Bucket

The Bucket

A Shim Shoy Folktale

In another time, at a different place, there was this great little farm on the edge of a vast forest. Little Alice lived there. There weren’t any other little girls around to play with, so she often went off exploring the woods alone. One day out there in the woods she crossed paths with another little girl. Her name was Annie, and she had been lost in the woods for days.

Alice took her back home with her, where Maw fed her, while Alice heated water for a bath. Annie then slept in a nice soft bed for three days and nights.

While she slept, Paw and Alice’s brothers asked all around, but no one knew anything about a little girl named Annie that had gone missing. So Paw said,

-Well, her people will come for her, if she’s got any. In the meantime, if she ever wakes up, and she can do her bit around the farm, we’ll keep her ’round here as one of our own.

When Annie did wake up she showed herself to be a fine and pleasant worker, and she and Alice became close fast friends.

But Annie did not like to go play in the woods, and she would never say why.

So Alice stopped exploring the woods, always her favorite thing to do, and it remained so, even though she didn’t do it anymore.

By the time the girls grew into young ladies, Alice had forgotten how she used to love the woods, and Annie had forgotten how she feared it. All there was now for them was a vague curiosity, and so of course they started taking longer and longer walks into the woods.

On one such walk they came across such vast and sprawling ruins that the sun set long before any thought of heading home could infiltrate their bristling, buzzing minds.

They slept there under a great fallen stone arch, and as they slept, a witch riding the air on a flying broom circled around them, lower and lower, and hovering close over them, said,

-So you’ve forgotten me at last, little Annie, and returned to me, as I knew you would. And you’ve brought a friend, as I hoped you might.

And she threw witches powder over the girls, so they wouldn’t wake up, and summoned her creatures, who carried them through night and forest to the Witches house.

When Alice awoke, she was tied to the post of a small wooden pen, which was inside of a larger pen, with nine horny goats milling about inside of it. There was a wooden bucket in the little pen with her.

She looked up, and saw that she was in a deep ravine somewhere in the forest, on the grounds of a great house of ramshackle stone and wood, built, grown into the side of the ravine. She looked across, and saw her dear friend Annie, her arms outstretched, tied by ropes to two trees, her head hanging limply.

Alice called out to her, and Annie woke up, and as she looked around, a great remembering came over her, and then a great fear.

The witch came out of her house then, floating out the top floor window upon her flying broom and plummeting to the ground with a nerve tweaking mastery of quickness and power, slowing to a silent hover just above the ground and then back up a bit, to better take in the setting, and laughing, a long cackling howl, the joy of a witch in the attainment of her goals.

Hovering over Alice in the pen within a pen, she said,

-You’ll fill that bucket with tears, or you’ll be sorry!

Then the witch rang a little bell, and the goats in the pen started going real crazy, and they tried to get at Alice, ramming her little pen, smashing in the wood with their horns. But the wooden rails of her pen were enchanted by the witch, and they repaired them selves instantly, though this did not deter the goats. Every time a goat rammed into the little pen, fresh tears
welled in Alice’s eyes. The witch cried out,

-In the bucket! The bucket!

One of the goats started gnawing on the rope that bound Alice to the little fence, but it was enchanted, and it sprouted sharp thorns, not only at that end, but at the ends around Alice’s wrists, and as she was pierced by the thorns, fresh tears flowed, and she hung her head over the bucket and cried and cried. The witch cackled,

-Yes, yes! That’s it! Ahahahahahaaaaaaa!

As the goats went on ramming the little pen with ear splitting cracks, the witch flew over by Annie, whose eyes were filled with compassion for her friend, though dry. Not one tear flowed from Annie’s eyes. The witch said,

-No tears for your friend, eh? You might, I suppose, but I took them all from you years ago, when you were just a little girl!

The witch hovered in close, right up in her face. She said,

-You forgot about me. I made you forget. Everything but your fear. Fear takes the longest, and so I let you forget it on your own. And when that final forgetting was complete, you came back to me, exactly as my spell was constructed! It makes me… So happy! And you’ve brought a friend! I knew you would be drawn to another with the inner fires burning bright. And such fires in her! She could have been a great magician, but instead she will fill my bucket, and you will help her, little Annie.

-I won’t help you hurt her!

-You will, you will.
And she flew up on her broom, up out of the ravine and into the trees of the forest.

As the sun was setting, the witch returned. She rang her little bell, and the goats all calmed down again, and they all collapsed in exhaustion, their long weird tongues lolling out of their mouths, frothy and bloody. She said,

-I see you have filled the bucket.

She floated down and grabbed up the bucket, and dropped a jug in the pen. She held the bucket close and inhaled deeply the salty metallic smell. Then she looked back at Alice and said,

-Drink it all, or you’ll be sorry!

The Witch flew around over the goat pen. She pointed at one of the goats and shouted,

-This goat is dead! A fine feast he will make for me!

She floated down and picked up the dead goat by one of its horns, and hurled it to the middle of the yard. She rang her little bell, this time with a different rhythm than she rang at the goats, and her slave creatures emerged from hiding. One of them skinned the goat expertly while the others built a great fire and a spit for roasting upon it.

The Witch sat upon her floating broom, chomping and chewing and slurping and sucking the meat and bones of the goat, washing it all down with great swallows of Alice’s tears, which she scooped from the bucket with a golden chalice. Hers was a sorcery of sorrow, and the liquid misery of a young magician was the greatest of all possible consumptions.

In the dark of night the firelight gleamed in the eyes of the Witches prisoners, Annie, Alice, the goats, the slave creatures. They all looked upon the gruesome scene unfolding in silence, until sleep overtook them all.

The second morning, the Witch descended to inspect the jug. Alice had drunk it all. She nodded and swapped the bucket for the jug. Then she rang her little bell, and flew off, and the goats went crazy again, this time kicking at the little pen with their hind legs, and sticking their heads in to get at her skirt and sleeves, so she had to stay exactly in the middle of the pen. However, she did not cry any tears. She had hardened herself to the fear of the goats.

When the Witch returned and saw the bucket was empty, she said,

-So you think you’re tough, eh? Not even one tear in the bucket for me! We’ll see about that before the sun goes down!

The Witch flew around, hovering behind the trees that Annie was tied to. She muttered a spell, and a long nasty whip appeared in her hand. She whipped Annie mercilessly, who still shed no tears, though Alice soon filled the bucket again with tears for her friend.

The Witch rang her little bell and the goats settled down, and another one fell down dead. She swapped the bucket for the jug, both full once again, and feasted as she had the night before, and the next night and the next.

Whenever Alice’s tears dried up, the Witch used some new method to provoke her. She looked in Alice’s mind, and created illusions of her parents. These phantoms tricked Alice into believing they had come to rescue her, only to be captured by the Witch, who imprisoned, tortured and killed them over the course of the days. Every night a goat died, and every night she ate the goat and drank Alice’s tears, and each day her body grew younger, and the bone pile got higher.

On the ninth day, the last goat could hardly stand, Annie was a covered in long wealing scars, and Alice was deep, deep, and deep inside herself. When the Witch descended from above and surveyed the pathetic scene, she said,

-There’s only certain, special tears left in you, my dear. That is why when I return tonight, I am going to kill Annie. And once I’ve drunk those tears, I’m going to untie you, and let you go.

And she flew off, as she always did, except that this time she did not ring her little bell, and so the last goat was spared the madness. The goat went slowly over to Alice, who was slumped agains the walls of her little pen, and licked gently at her hands, which were dirty and cut up and bloody, and licked them clean. Alice did not even react.

Annie, however, was moved. She had been biding her time these nine days, exploring her regained memory. The Witch thought she had drained all of Annie’s magic out of her those years ago, but where there is life, there the inner fires burn, and the love of Alice and her family fed Annie’s own inner fires back to their full strength, although she didn’t even recognize it until now, because of the amnesia spell.

But magic requires mastery or quiet. Here in this first quiet moment in nine days, Annie cast her first spell. She said,

-Bucket, Bucket, your well is dry, come to me, and I will try.

And the bucket floated up into the air and over to Annie, who turned her head and cried tears of joy into it. She said,

-Tears of joy do not fall slow, make a river of your flow.

And a river of tears filled the bucket, and when it was full, she said,

-Bucket, bucket, back with you, be as if you never flew.

And it did, and Alice looked at it blankly. The goat reached in a hoof and splashed Alice’s face with the tears in the bucket. That woke her up a little bit. She tasted the happy tears. Then she started drinking the tears from the bucket. Annie called out to her,

-No, Alice! The bucket has to be full!

Alice stopped drinking, and very simply nodded.

When the sun began to set the Witch returned to find Alice with her head hung over a bucket full of tears. She hovered grimly over her. She did a spell, and the thorny rope fell away from Alice and pen alike. She leaned in and scooped her chalice full of the tears within the bucket and said,

-These then be the tears of quiet surrender, the sweetest to me. Here is to the ninth straight night of tears, youth and power for nine more years!

She drank it down in a gulp. Her eyes grew wide, and she made a great gasping sound. She started to choke and gag, and lose her balance on her broom.

Alice jumped up and grabbed the Witch by her cloak, and pulled her off of her broom and onto the ground, where she howled in piercing agony. She tried to get up, but the goat rammed into her and sent her sprawling, and she dropped her little bell.

Alice picked up the bell and rang it that certain way, and the slave creatures emerged to do her bidding. Alice called to them,

-Build the fire for a feast of your own, and be forever free!

And they did, and they were.

Alice, Annie, and the Goat all went together from that hidden place, back to the family farm.

There was no going back to the way things used to be. After the defeat of the Witch, Alice retreated back to a deep place inside, and never came out. She never spoke, and required constant care. Annie devoted herself to this care of her friend.

Though her body was covered in scars, Annie had a pretty face, and she only got prettier as time went by. She had many suitors from town and country, but she refused them all, as she was committed to the care of her friend. Even a dashing young prince sought her for his bride. He promised that Alice could come live with them at his castle and she would have the best of care.

Annie said to him,

-But it is here that she must recover. With me. With the family. This place is our home. No other care will do.

And so the years passed, and little bit by little bit Alice came back to herself. One night, as she was heating a bath as a surprise for Annie, she remembered that long ago day when she did the same for the little girl she found lost in the woods. As she tested the water with her fingers, she cried some happy tears into the bath.

And when Annie got in that hot bath, the long painful pinching scars that crisscrossed her poor body for so long softened and fell away and she was made fresh and clean and soft.

Thank You For Reading Shim Shoy

More Intriguing Sorcery

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Hidden Cities 15.1
The Recap Continues

Like all cities, Chicago has a Hidden City, and even in it’s suburbs, there were hidden suburbs. Ignatius Black, called Nash by those close, left the Hidden City of Chicago and settled and started and sustained his family in one such place on the overlap of hidden and apparent called Rauhoof Park. The Blacks were a long standing and highly respected family line of Magicians of the Hidden Cities, rarely leaving them for the apparent world, but Ignatius was what is called a Small Magician, born with small inner fires, and thus free to detach himself if he so desired, and he did, leaving behind, among other things, his brother Grissom, whose inner fires burned bright and hot, and whose scholarly aptitudes were making him a great Magician.

Ignatius Black knew some damn scheming and selfish magician had tampered with his son Greene, he could tell that much with his magical senses, but that was all. The boy wasn’t hurting from it, so he tolerated it, seeking avoidance of the hidden world and those that live there.

But when Greene was twelve, the sorceress who had tampered with him captured an entity that had spent some time in his empty head, and so she learned she had succeeded in creating an attractor of hidden forces. The Entity did not just tell her this, she tortured it for the information.

Using her Ravenheads, she brought about the tragedy that made Greene Vardim Black an orphan with nine and a half fingers. She kept a close eye on Greene during the year he spent as a high functioning catatonic at The Deitch Center. She was about to make her final move to make him her own when Grissom Black showed up suddenly and took him to Chicago.

More of what you have already seen but didn’t know about the life of Greene Vardim Black in the next installment of
Pat Coughlin’s Blog, your home for Shim Shoy!

Thank You!

The Return of Pat Coughlin’s Blog

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Hidden Cities 15:
What we’ve encountered but haven’t yet
learned concerning Greene Vardim Black

Greene Vardim Black was dosed in the womb with certain alchemical essences that created a vast void in the space between his brain and the inside of his skull. It was a sorceress of the Hidden City who did it, and no one ever even knew it happened. She hoped to create an attractor and reservoir of the sources of magical energies, namely those infra-reality sustaining arteries of the multiverse called Flows, and the Entities, which are known by too many names to list here. The dose was also meant to make Greene a vegetable, his mind too far away from his body to access it at all. She was successful in one way, as many wayward Entities found their way into the empty head of Greene Vardim Black the very day he was born, and more and more as he went along, though again, no one knew about it. But she failed in the other, as little Greene was just fine. Prone to space-staring, perhaps, a little bit forgetful of details, perhaps, but for the most part okay, and this everyone knew about, including the sorceress, who figured she had failed, and left his family alone.
Until Greene turned twelve, and she realized her scheme had only half failed, after all.

This Chapter to be continued in the next installment of Hidden Cities at Pat Coughlin’s Blog!

P.S. For the interested, Hidden Cities chapters 1-14 can be found at my other blog, shimshoycapsula, at shimshoycapsula.tumblr.com . From now on I will be posting all new stories both here and there.

Thank You and a fine Shim Shoy! P

Isberian 2

Isberian
Chapter 2
The Magician’s Way

Isberian was born with two kinds of magic inside of her. From her father, Aldo the Awesome, she inherited the Small Magic, which is the lightest of all kinds of magic, the magic of illusion. From her mother Amalia, she got the most potent and rare of all magic, and that is the Healing Magic.
Isberian didn’t know it, but Amalia had forbidden Aldo, the more active of the two parents, to encourage Isberian in the development of the healing magic within her, and even to forestall it’s discovery. Amalia was made a prisoner because of her healing magic, and as she knew her jailor, King Caster, would have covetous eyes on little Isberian to see if she too had a deeper magic than Aldo The Awesome’s illusions. Magic he would imprison her for so as to have it all his own.

And so it was, Isberian was raised as a small magician, in the world of entertainment and storytelling, and she was a most capable assistant and pride and joy to Aldo The Awesome. She became an actor of deep and varied nuance, and performed so convincingly as Aldo weaved his story and philosophy based “Magic Tricks”, becoming any and all characters featured, using her own small magic to enhance the illusions, that she became a star in her own right, and Aldo and Isberian, the Father and Daughter magician team, came to be in high demand, and commanding of the highest prices, in many cities.

As Isberian grew into a young woman, men and boys old enough to looked on her with covetous ardor. It was not something Isberian liked, and she sometimes was afraid of them, though Aldo was ever there to protect her, and so she took to dressing and keeping her hair like a boy, using her small magic to complete the illusion. By this practice, and by the way she used her small magic on the stage, Isberian became quite adept at changing her form and face and voice. It was her specialty.

So-called Small Magic can be developed by the insightful and masterful in nature to achieve depths as great as any Wizard or Sorceress of the higher or nobler magics. All with wisdom know this to be true, but the scarcity of such practitioners, coupled with simple prejudice, are what made the majority of magicians of the Hidden Cities to be scornful of all “Small Magicians”. Aldo and Isberian were, in fact, two of the greatest magicians to ever live, small or otherwise, such was their mastery of their own inner fires. Of course at this time, young Isberian was still just starting on the path to this destiny, and it is our privilege to go along with her.

For Aldo had filled her head always with the way of the magician, and that way had a fundamental feature, that of striking out on your own. She waited until the last night of the summer visit to Mother Amalia at
King Caster’s castle to do so, taking only her own fast little horse, and leaving a note for her loving parents. She did not want to leave Aldo, but she knew he had come to expect it, and accept it. She was used to leaving Amalia, and felt that she knew only that she would see them both again someday.

Her heartmind had always been stirred by talk of The World Mountain and that was the direction she traveled, to find her wondrous way in the world.

Isberian (1)

Isberian
A Shim Shoy Folktale
Of The Klutens Variety

Isberian was a girl who grew up in one of the fallen cities, far from the Great Forested Mountain, which was known in her city as The Mountain of The World. She had always lived in The Hidden City there, as she was the child of magicians. Gather ’round this spot and learn how she came to be.

Isberian’s fallen city was ruled by a fallen king, King Caster, and this king found out about a young sorceress, gifted in healing, who had been coming into the city apparent to treat the citizenry, as sickness was rampant there. Her name was Amalia. King Caster found her, and took her, and kept her in service to the royal family in the castle, not kept behind bars, or in chains, but imprisoned all the same.

An Illusionist, one of those performing magicians that Hidden City magicians call small, came to entertain Caster, the fallen king, at court. He said,

“Call me Aldo The Awesome, for that is who I am. I have come to blow the mind of the King with wonder, and any other else who would dare to witness… The deduction! Of the mystery! Of the cosmos!”

He spoke these words with great flair, and frequent dramatic pauses, and King Caster was mightily intrigued, for like him, his court was a dreary, depressed kind of place, and anxious, too.

Amalia was there at court, and her heartmind stirred itself mightily, for her magical senses felt the true magic within this apparent showman, and he was handsome, and his eyes were looking at her, and while he was speaking so dramatically to everyone, she felt he was speaking to her simply and directly, in a way and with words the others could not perceive.
And he was indeed awesome. He had a small golden bowl, empty, that he would turn up, and magical waters would pour out that took on shapes and moved about the court. A water cat chased a water mouse, that changed color and swam around in the cat’s belly when it was caught. Then the cat jumped into King Caster’s lap, and when he petted it, the water cat turned into a cloud of delicate shimmering snow and then disappeared completely.

The King asked Aldo,

“How many tricks do you know as good as that one?”

“Of my very best tricks, there are seven, your majesty.”

“Then you shall stay with us seven nights, magician, and you will spread your show across them. Such entertainment is rare, and we would not like for ours to be so short lived.”

And so it was. When the seventh night came Aldo performed his most awesome illusion, which was to slow time itself to stillness, except for he and the king, and together they pinned flowers to everyone at court, and the king laughed mightily at the looks on everyone’s face as the effect wore off and they were all so amazed and perplexed, laughed loud and hard, in such a way as he had not laughed in so long. He said to Aldo,

“You have illuminated wonder here, Aldo, a light that has been dim indeed for us, and you have stayed with us as we asked, though staying is difficult for your kind. And so you may name your reward.”

Aldo replied humbly,

“Your Majesty, there is only one circumstance I crave, and more, fear that I could not live without.”

“And what is this circumstance?”

“For the Lady Amalia to be my wife.”

King Caster started laughing again, and said,
“The Lady Amalia is a precious prisoner. We could not tolerate her absence from our company. Yet you have named your reward, and it must be given. Seven days and nights you have illuminated us, so for seven days and nights shall you be illuminated, with Amalia as your bride.”

And so Aldo and Amalia were married. Aldo had a little house by the side of a little lake where he took his bride and there they delved deep into the magical waters of their love. When the seven days and nights had come and gone, they went back to the king’s castle, for they had both given their word that they would. Aldo wanted to flee far, but Amalia insisted upon returning. She knew there would be suffering if they broke their word, and she believed in her heartmind that King Caster would release her someday.

King Caster thought long and hard while Amalia was away, all the while hoping that she would return, that he would not have to chase after her. When they did return, he said to them,

“You must go now, Aldo, we cannot share Amalia with a husband. However, once each season, for seven days and seven nights, you may have her for your wife, and she may have you for her husband at your little house by the little lake.”

And so it was, and come their first week of winter together at the little lake house Isberian was born.

There is so much to tell in this story of Isberian!

To Be Continued

Thank You

The Mannersword 2

Left To It

It is not unusual among the tinkers for families to be large, which is neither to say that it is usual, some have many some have few, some even have none, just as I have found it to be with the people in the settled places, all though not all of them, that must be said as well. That said, in my family, I was younger to four and older to two at the time of the onset of my first long walking. There was and (I persist) is a sister who is oldest who I never met for she had the fitful foot as well, and had commenced her long walking some years ahead of my being born on the move.

Speculations on the nature of her present status and possible past adventures was always a foregone conclusion as to the question of my and my siblings preferred subject for storynod, as well as a converstion topic any old time, but sometimes the Old Boy would get that sad old faraway wandering heart look in his eyes, and he would make that long slow cluck lowly, and Mother Dear would cross the table and place her gentle hand on his arm and our wandering sister would not be spoken of for a time after that happened.  To spare the Old Boy the stinging. You know.

It wasn’t my intention to tell you of our older sister the wanderer today, but I suppose she was wandering around my heart, as she tends to often, and so she has shown up here as well, as is only natural.

I was going to tell you, beloved eyes and ears of the heart, of the time I first walked long. And so I shall do.

It was a morning, sunny and green, not many days after the Setceles for my fifth birthday I woke and found myself in a place which was different from where I had fallen asleep. I did not know it fully comprehensible yet, at the time, that is, but it was the first time my fitful foot had carried me away without my permission.

Not that memory dictates it but rather circumstances of this time and place we share together my friend, that allow me to tell you how I looked around me on that sunny morning, casting for a glimpse of the caravan and the cart, my thoughts and voice acted as one and I said;

– But, if I’ve walked away from them, they’ll leave me to it!

To understand this sad and unavoidable thought made sound, hark to the flow of this talk I had with the Old Boy one night by the set’s big fire. I had asked him why, if it made him sad and put the look of the faraway wandering heart in his eyes to think on our wandering older sister, why he did not go a’looking for her?

-I must leave her to it. We must all leave her to it. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s got to be. You know there is law, and by tinker law no long walker may be interfered with.

-What if the caravan and her bump into each other?

-That would be a happy day, indeed.

-Could she walk with us then?

-Yes. For as long as she wanted. But we could not make her stay.

-Will I go long walking, Old Boy?

-I don’t want you to, my Boose.

-But will I?

-I think you might.

-Will you leave me to it, too? And Mother Dear?

-We will.

-I don’t want you to!

-When it happens you will. Among all the different kinds of people in the wide world, unhappiness is most rare among the long walkers. They are favored by the mysterious force…

As I stood there in the unknown place I said it again; “They’ll leave me to it!” though my voice raised considerably this time and big globby tears soaked my cheeks and dropped of my chin in a tiny rain. Then I heard an odd sound;

-Shim-Shoy.

I spun surprised at the sound, and my eyes beheld their first truly unusual sight.

Well, to be specific, two truly unusual sights, one a thing, the other a person, but as the two are so unified…Well, you’ll forgive my despicable tendency, or to put it more sincerely, flaw in my storytelling to follow these inconsequential via obviousness of detail, details branching constantly , but hold no real interest toward our purposes here, which is to say we can see these things well enough should we wish it so or even if we cannot help but do so and there is no need to discuss them.

So, the sight, from the ground up. Green grass, the invisible air above the grass, then a great block of stone floating in the air, topped with what can only be described as the block’s rider, a curiously amused looking smooshy kind of fellow with big bright eyes on a softish cleanish baldish dome of a head floatily emerging from the stiff high collar of his shiny silky robe of red the style of which I’d never seen.

-Shim Shoy.

He said again, and put an amply fingered hand to where his mouth would be below and behind that collar, giggling strangely, though not in any way to make me take caution, on the contrary he laughed like baby sister laughs. The strange boy pointed, and giggled some more.

-Shim Shoy.

I looked to where he was pointing, and saw something yonder way. I walked to it and found a mysterious mess. It was a tangled clothesline with all sorts of odd things caught up in it as if it had been dragged cross country and many different yards until finally disengaged. Indeed, the furthest point the clothesline traveled held one of my socks in it’s knotty grip.

-Shim-Shoy!

He was telling me my unconscious adventure had caught his eye, and had clearly been filled with gleeful delight at the entertainment. I pulled my sock free and put it back on. I remember it was wet with dew. I waved to him then and said;

-Well, see you later Shim-shoy.

And I started walking.

I could tell the Shim-Shoy Boy (I call him the Shim-Shoy boy because he seemed more like a boy than a man, but he was so unusually alien he…. well, it was his eyes, really. They put one in mind of both a lively curious kitten and a great old tree at the same time, if that makes sense), I could tell he was following me, floating along behind. I continued on until I heard once more;

-Shim Shoy.

I turned and looked at him again. He had stopped short some steps of mine back and was a little sad now. I told him;

-I can’t play with you, Shim-Shoy. I have to walk long now, and must be left to it. You can come along if you want.

He floated back a little on his stone block and with a determined look shot forward again but could not progress past the point where he was before. He did it again to show me. I asked;

-You’re stuck?

At this, he brought his big eyelids and big hands down slowly, and the stone block came gently to ground. When it did, the block suddenly glowed brightly to my eyes, and I could see inside of it somehow and there were mazes inside of it. There was also a rope around it I could not see before. I walked along the length of the rope, noticing that everything in the world had turned different colors. I found the other end of the rope buried in the ground. there was a garden shovel tangled in the clothesline I snagged and dragged through the night and the world, and as I ran to get it, I took in more keenly the color shift, and saw that the Shim-Shoy boy still sat quiet and still where his now blazing brightly stone block rested aground. I could not tell if he was looking at me or not, but I waved to him with the now oddly colored shovel in my hand, saying;

-Don’t worry, Shim-Shoy!

I dug up the ground where the rope was buried. I found the other end finally, tied about a piece of heavy metal far larger in size than my modestly dug hole could reveal. I could not untie the knot, so I tried to cut it with the shovel, which ended with me conkin’ my own noggin good. Frustrated in failure, the story about the Mouse, Vehn Rous, came into my mind and I set to gnawing at the rope with my own gnashing teeth. Chomping mightily, the rope become cut, and as it did it just melted away suddenly, poof! The whole rope! Suddenly everything was it’s good old colors again, and the loudest sound I ever heard shook the world;

-SHIIIIIIIIMMMMMMM SHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!

I looked up, and up, and up, for that is where the Shim-Shoy boy was flying, leaving neat, gently poked little holes in clouds as he shot through them on his stone block, and a great feeling was all over me and inside me as I beheld the sight.

When he did not come back down, and the little cloudholes closed up, I was about to call to him, but my foot fluttered, and I realized that I was wrong about the Shim-Shoy Boy. It was not companionship he sought, but rather, like my own fitful foot, the freedom to move, and now that he had it I would have to leave him to it. Perhaps it is likely that my young thoughts were not were not so well elocuted (if they are now), so here we are reminded of the unique luxuries of this time and place.

And so I followed my foot, my fitful foot, as the song goes, and let it take me where it would that first day of my long walking.

Contoonaloos!

P.S. In case you were wondering, this is not the last time I would encounter the Shim-Shoy Boy. I like to see you squirm in anticipation, my most highly estimated fellow traveler, but it would be cruel to withhold such information, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Love, Boose

The Mannersword, Chapter 1

The Long Walking of Wilma Baranabussey “Boose” Walksler

Or

The Mannersword

Boose Walksler was, and is, one of the tinkers, who are all ready known in particular for their aspect of impermanent settlement, which is to say, naturally, that they move around a lot, but not to say that they don’t stay, here and there, as they may, or as they will.

Boose tended to admire all things, including people, on first encounter. This quality lent itself, and continues to lend itself to friendly relations all around, thus the reputational moniker of “The Traveling Mutual Admiration Society” however although my given moniker is a mouthful of Baranabussey Wilma Walksler I remain as always persistent that I be called simply Boose.

My short subterfuge at an end, I admit that it is my voice you hear, and I, my friend, for whom my affection is an eternal humpback whale swimming the surface and depth of the oceans that cover the world, am Boose. Here, by your leave and hopeful encouragement, to tell the tale of a long walker and the world walked.

Like all societies, there are among the Tinkers certain types of individuals whose behavior or maybe leanings it might be better said lies outside what might be considered normal, which is to say, that even the Tinkers, who are considered strange to the more populous populations of the wider world, are host to their own intrinsically conceived strange, which is to say that the strange among the tinkers comes from within the tinkers, and rare as these be they are treasured and loved and held to unflinching standards of tradition. As you may be suspecting, my shrewd listener, I, Boose, was and continue to be one such strange among strange.

 As the story goes I was born as many tinkers are, on the travel, which is to say in the back of a cart with wheels a’movin’. I cried as all babes cry when delivered, though following my first feeding I was contentedly and consistently quiet, and remarkably peacefully so, even. Upon the caravan’s, and consequently, the cart’s first ceasing of motion, as a goodspot had been found to strike for a time, however, I unleashed all manner of awful bawling and painful piercing squealing the likes of which I’ve since been made to understand that all though I may have heard it, since I made the racket, I could never  remember since I was but a babe, and truly this is true, nor could I dare to imagine myself capable of imagining such a terrible sound, for it was a strange sound, and not to be encountered in the usual experience. It was soon deduced that the absence of forward motion caused me inconsolable distress. It was and is a sign of what the tinkers call a fitful foot.

 The tribe decided not to cause my family to travel apart, but to enter into a long travel, until the day my reasoning mind dawned, or until my fitful feet could propel me independently and of my own will. Both circumstances developed naturally, naturally, though I admit I couldn’t say with any certainty which day dawned first.

Continuama!

Vehn Rous and The Strange Visitor

VEHN ROUS
AND
THE STRANGE VISITOR

One day Vehn Rous, who is known as The Mouse, shortly after his inheritance of the scavenger’s cart, and some short years before his long imprisonment by his enemy, the Syntian King, was scavenging a spent battlefield when he came upon a soldier who looked dead, was truly all but dead, but was still a little bit alive.

Summoning his scavenger’s cart to his side, he loaded the poor bastard in and left that
place for healthier climes, a grassy spot next to a cold mountain stream, and sunny. Here the soldier’s fleeing life was encouraged to return by Vehn Rous, who was skilled in the Auslangie healing arts. Those known as scavengers in Vehn Rous’ time were in other times known as Auslangie.

The wounded man was nearly back in the pink when he was suddenly gripped by a fierce burning fever, and he told Vehn Rous about a secret hidden treasure he alone knew about, and with trembling fingers traced a crude map in the dirt.

Vehn Rous tied a rope around the two of them and the other end to the cart, and carried him into the cold waters of the stream, which had become quite powerful in it’s flow over the recent days. It was a brief battle between heat and cold, but the universal element overcame the human, and the soldier escaped death yet again.

That night Vehn Rous built his fire high and bright and hot, for he had been chilled to the bone of the bones. When he had warmed himself enough to feel a moment of Tinker pride in his fire, he saw he was not alone.

The strange visitor was sitting next to him, calm and quiet, and said,

– It is a warm fire. Auslangie always build the warmest fires.
– Have you visited with many?
– Many. Eventually all, of course. Always the best fires and the best food and the best conversation.
– Are you hungry?
– Not at the moment.
Then, regarding the sleeping soldier, the visitor said,
– I have come twice now for this one! I thought perhaps I was late, but no! It’s just that you have beaten me to him. Twice now.
– I’m sorry to put you out.
– It happens. All completely legitimate. Human beings are fully entitled to save each other’s lives. In fact, it is an act highly regarded by all. But I thought I would tell you some things you’re not aware of, and normally could never become aware of until it’s too late, unless I told you.

Vehn Rous was tempted to speak but bit his tongue, as he knew that was best. The visitor went on,

– First, as with all things, the third time’s the charm. When you save a person’s life three times, their life becomes yours. I can be summoned at any time to collect it, or never, but when you die, they die, no matter what.

The strange visitor went on,

-This man, whose life you have saved two times, is a dangerous person. His name is Maravo Murk. He murdered and stole to attain the treasure he drew a map of in the dirt.
– The map! I forgot! I built the fire so big I covered it up!
– When you sweep the ashes away in the morning, the map will still be drawn in the dirt.
– Why are you telling me this? These things I could never normally know?
– Because I’ve always liked you, Vehn Rous, and I always will. And I was already here so why not have a chat for once? it’s been a pleasure. I’ll se you around.

The flicking of long black fingers, the ringing harmonic hum, and the visitor is gone.
Vehn Rous fell asleep next to the fire, where on fact the strange visitor had hidden himself. As always the golden porcelain bowl is visible, but hidden among the flames so you can’t see it.

Maravo Murk woke first, and taking his knife, walked rather unsteadily over to the sleeping Mouse, and raised his knife, it’s point aimed for the heart. As the blade plunged, Maravo Murk froze in pain, dropping the knife and clutching at his breast as if he had been stabbed in the heart. The pain passed, and Murk, bloodshot eyes bulging wide in confused fear, backed away from Vehn Rous, who remained undisturbed, deep in the waters of dream.

Maravo Murk tried to steal Vehn Rous’ cart, but as we here together know, the cart is alive in it’s own fashion and does not allow interference. Murk was lucky to have intelligence enough to recognize it. However there were some horses Vehn Rous had taken under his wing from the battlefield and Maravo Murk took them, as well as the only food that lay outside the cart, a big bunch of bananas, and took off quiet as he could.

Vehn Rous sussed it all out soon after waking, except of course the attempt on his life and the strange circumstance of it’s thwarting.

– Nelly Nose! He took the bananas! Ahh! They were perfectly ripe, too! That ungrateful… Well, I guess that it’s bacon and biscuits again! Don’t even have one egg!

After breakfast, and packing up, Vehn Rous brushed the smoldering coals away, and saw the shakily drawn treasure map there in the dirt, frozen in time. He made a quick copy of the map on paper, and climbing into the driver’s seat, set off in the cart in the direction indicated by the treasure map.

As he rumbled along he rambled on, though no one was around to hear, except the creatures in the cart and we here together of course, as is the habit of Vehn Rous in these times when he is a solo wanderer. He was saying,

– He’s a fool! I would have given him any help he asked for! Did he think I’d want his hidden treasure? He gave me the location before I saved his life! Again! I could have just let him die and found the treasure on my own if that was what I wanted! I guess it didn’t occur to him! What’s the matter, not enough treasure to get your own bananas? PERFECTLY RIIIIIIIPE?

Maravo Murk, meanwhile, had found his treasure, a fortune in blank, pure gold coins. It was hidden in some ancient ruins, and Maravo Murk sat himself down on a moss covered foundation stone and set to devouring Vehn Rous’ bananas.

He felt so triumphant, and the bananas were so perfectly ripe and delicious, he was bolting them down, so that when he heard Vehn Rous’ rolling up in his cart, he started choking on a chunk.

By the time Vehn Rous reached him, he was just about dead, his face blue and puffy, his arms frozen in a pleading gesture. Mouse hopped down from the cart and popped him in the solar plexus just so, and out sailed the banana chunk and in flowed air and color and life.

Maravo Murk was a quivering lump of a man at this point, but Vehn Rous finally realized he trying to say thank you.

– So now you’re grateful. Let’s have a look at this treasure you’ve found. Pure gold coins, blank. This is scavenger coin. Which means that this is the secret stash of an Auslangie, like me. I know you stole and murdered for it’s location, which means you murdered one of my rare and gentle kindred. Third time’s the charm, Maravo Murk. I’ve saved your rotten life three times and your life is mine now. I can summon your death anytime I wish, and also, when I die, you die.

Maravo Murk remembered the pain he felt when he tried to do in the sleeping Mouse, and knew he was hearing the truth, and he was afraid of it.

There is always one minted coin in an Auslangie’s secret stash. The mark on the coin identifies the owner’s Tinker tribe. Vehn Rous found it, and a stern look crossed his face as he read the name. He took the singular coin, picked up what remained of his banana bunch, and got back up in the cart. He said to Maravo Murk,

– If I see you again I won’t hesitate to summon the strange visitor to collect your life!

He could not speak, but Maravo Murk gathered up handfuls of gold and, lurching to the cart, shoved the coins at our boy Mouse, who became infuriated and jumped down from the cart and began to throttle Maravo. He stuffed his mouth with gold coins and then belted him good, so that gold coins, white teeth and red blood scattered upon the ground. Maravo just stood there stupidly. Vehn Rous warned him again,

– You’re really pushin’ it, Murk!

Maravo Murk could only moan raggedly, pathetically, as Mouse set off once more, leaving him there with his ill gotten gains, minus the bananas, horses, and the single marked coin.

Maravo Murk went a little mad after that, holeing up in one of the lost kingdoms, becoming addicted to harmful, deleterious substances that dulled the pain brought on by his villainous life. Filthy and half conscious in a dank alley, his wretchedness caught the eye of a Grandma Tinker passing by. She offered to help him, but all he could do was place in her hands a dirty sack filled with pure gold coins, and breathe his last, gathered finally into the golden porcelain bowl of the strange visitor.

Thank You

Epilogue
Or,
What Happened Later

The minted coin from the stash told what Tinker Tribe the murdered Auslangie was from, and one day, Vehn Rous happened to cross paths with their caravan, as is the only way you can find a Tinker Tribe, of course.

They were a small group, The Foxtail Tribe, having been reduced some years ago in a marauder attack. Their Chief was a woman of great and fiery beauty and bosom who, although he was the bearer of sad tidings, welcomed Vehn Rous with great joy, and that night around the great fire all the Tinkers listened to Vehn Rous tell his story of Maravo Murk and the Auslangie gold and the strange, all knowing visitor to his fire.

There was a silence following the story, that particular silence so sweet to the successful teller. In this sweet silence Margaret, the Chief, stood tall and asked Vehn Rous, so that all could hear,

– Mouse, what is your tribe?
– Turtle Root. Fira is my Grandfather.

Excited murmurs raced through the Foxtail Tinkers, silenced by Margaret’s raised hand.

– Then you are cousin to many of us Foxtail, including myself.
– This I am honored to already know, Chief.
– Of course. Are you the Turtle Root Tribe’s Auslangie, then?

Vehn Rous hesitated a moment, then,
– No. They have their own Auslangie. I was separated from my Tribe long before I took on the coat and the cart.
– So you are an Auslangie without a Tribe, and we are a Tribe without an Auslangie. Will you be ours, Mouse? Can we be yours? Will you tell us the stories lost to us when we lost our Elders? Will you instruct us in the healing ways? Will you consider our caravan your wandering home?

He didn’t take half a moment to stand tall and say,

– I will!

And the Foxtail Tribe assembled gave collective shout for joy that swelled Vehn Rous’ heart so that tears of joy fell from his glistening firelit eyes.

That night Margaret took him into her cart and into her bed, and the Fira flames burned hot in flesh and bright in eyes. And he shared with her his real name of Vehn Rous, as is the way of Auslangie and Chief. And he told her the danger of knowing it, which she accepted without hesitation, there in his arms.

So Vehn Rous took his place at the end of the caravan and rambled with his new Tribe, and told the old stories and secrets, and taught them the Auslangie healing arts, and he considered the Foxtail Caravan his wandering home.

As the Auslangie do, Vehn Rous left his Tribe to be about his business.

But he would return to them, when their paths happened to cross, which is the only way you can ever find a Tinker Tribe, or an Auslangie, and most particularly Vehn Rous, known as The Mouse.

Thank You Again

Rooster, The Man -A Story Challenge Story and Shim Shoy Folktale-

There’s a song the children of the town sometimes sing as they play about;

Rooster didn’t have a tongue

The Good Lord didn’t give him one

Or someone cut his tongue away

It’s just impossible to say

Rooster was born in an asylum, where his little tongue was taken out by a crazy person.  Still, he turned out okay.  He was big and strong and smart and skillful, though his whole life there were people who considered him a grunting misborn idiot, and a certain percentage of these always treated him with a cruelty.  Still he learned patience and the fine art of listening and learning, and so he turned out okay.

At the orphanage, no one adopted Rooster, nor would they, this big strong boy gesticulating strangely with his hands and grunting.  So the Friar  educated Rooster himself, in scholarly fashion and criminal.  Something of an artist of open minded living, the Friar  fashioned an ingenious little lockbox that fit snugly in Rooster’s vacant jaw and started a smuggling venture and secret message service, all very ingenious and clandestine.  Thus did young Rooster range daily all about the town, subtly delivering secret things, often stopping to lend his strength to tasks and people in need of it along the way.  In this way Rooster gained a small reputation of strength and goodnaturedness.

A kindly Farmer would send for Rooster occasionally, sometime for weeks at a time during the harvest.  When the Farmer wanted to build, Rooster showed a talent for carpentry, and his education provided him with the knowledge of architecture, and he designed and built for the Farmer a barn, grain silo, and windmill.  These structures were impressive, and people came to know about them and Rooster’s skills.

The Farmer had a sweet natured daughter, and Rooster loved her more than anyone or anything else in the world, and passionately, too.  He knew he could never have her if he remained silent, so he wrote her a love letter of exquisite beauty that woke her to the true depths of his heartmind, and she found herself deeper in love than she could say. Rooster wrote another letter of stunning elegance, this one to the farmer, asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage, to which the stunned Farmer and his Wife agreed, for they were folk who prized nature of character over the circumstances of the material world.

Riches would come to Rooster, however, and thusly to the Farmer and his Wife and the Friar, too.

There was a man who had always kept a curious eye on Rooster, since the first time the silent little boy delivered a secret message to him from the ingenious little box in his hollow mouth, and he would always send for Rooster when he needed someone he could trust to make a delivery.  To this man, it was not Rooster’s naturally enforced silence that made him trustworthy, it was just something he knew to be so.  This man was a criminal, and by the time of Rooster’s wedding had become the biggest Boss in town. 

He paid Rooster a huge sum to design and build for him a great mansion, riddled with concealed passageways, secret doors, and hidden vaults to store his fortune in ill-gotten gains.  Here was another who could see Rooster’s value where others did not. Rooster designed and built many such houses for the Boss’s asscociates, and was well paid by them, as well.  Rooster bought the farm neighboring his In-Laws, and built a new little house for his blushing bride, and life was just as wonderful as it can be. 

Some time went on by, and the Boss died.  His son took over.  The Boss’s Son was cruel and always had been.  As a boy there was no greater tormentor of poor misunderstood Rooster as this vile little thug.  As a man he was no better, and life in the town became a grim and nervous affair for many.  He had learned  some things from his father however.  One of these things was the secret value of Rooster.

The New Boss went to the little house and told Rooster he needed him to show him all the secret ways of the house he had built for his father, as they two were the only ones who knew them all.  The New Boss was rude about it, reminiscing on the torments he would inflict on Rooster when they were boys.  He did not bring them up to apologize, he only laughed at them again. 

Rooster went with him and and showed him the secret vaults and and entrances and escape doors.  By the time they were done, Sonny Boy was five times wealthier than he had dreamed, and drunk with a great greed temporarily fulfilled, he shoved a box flowing over with gold coins into Rooster’s arms and sent him away, but Rooster left the gold in the vault when he left.

The New Boss came by again a little later, with the box of gold coins, angrily insulted that Rooster had not accepted it.  Rooster still did not want it, however.  The New Boss tried to elicit some greed from Roster’s wife, but, being a fulfilled person, she was unreachable in this fashion.  Sonny Boy had not seen this quality in a woman in his whole life, because his was a world of crime and criminals and greed.  He didn’t believe it, and it made him even angrier.

He demanded that Rooster show him the secret entrances of his late Father’s associates, which only Rooster knew.  Rooster refused, and enraged, the New Boss pulled a knife and swiped menacingly at Rooster’s Wife.

In his love letters to her and in his heartmind, Rooster refers to his Wife’s cheeks as his own apples of immortality, a god’s delight.  As his eyes beheld the short, thin red line emerge glistening  from his Wife’s cheek, his golden apple’s perfect flesh wounded, a stout locked door deep deep and deep within Rooster fell open without a sound, and an all consuming storm burst forth, filling Rooster.

He grabbed the  New Boss by the arms, pinning them to his sides, and squeezed mightily.  Sonny Boy tried to scream over the sound of his cracking ribs, but his inner mechanisms for such activity were already crushed.  When the knife fell from his hand, Rooster crunch-folded him over one knee and hurled him through the front door, which was closed, smashing it into pieces.  Sonny Boy’s bodyguards, his most vicious thugs,  were waiting outside for him.  They tried to avenge him, but Rooster smashed their heads in with a splintered plank of wood from the shattered door.  He loaded their bodies into their ride, and, setting the the whole thing on blazing fire, sent it down the road to town.

Rooster went back inside and tended to his beloved Wife.  Strong as an iron ox, she had never known his touch to be anything other than gentle and loving, and this moment, in the aftermath of bloody carnage, is no exception. 

Many people in the town were grateful to Rooster for ridding them of such a vile group of gangsters, even though they knew he did not do it for them, and Rooster became something of a living legend. That’s why the children in the town sometimes sing a song when playing about, that always begins

Rooster didn’t have a tongue

The Good Lord didn’t give him one

Or someone cut his tongue away

It’s just impossible to say

 

Thank You

Stanley Squantro, Part 4, Conclusion, Dustup On Chaldean Ave.

As we have been observing Stanley Squantro, the boy who could talk to walls, we have seen him take his seat at the social reject’s cafeteria table with the disgruntled Rod Bodkin and the elfin smartypants Laufey Londgren.  When Stan learned that Rod’s little sister, Lily Bodkin, had gone missing two years ago without a trace, the Squantro family decided to investigate, with Stanley taking the lead. Now, having ditched school alongside Rod, Stan finds himself alone in the walls of House Bodkin, which is one of the houses on Chaldean Avenue, the oldest street in the old town of Rauhoff…

The faces of the walls of House Bodkin were more immediately apparent to Stanley Squantro than any walls of any house he had ever visited, with the exception of the Mayor’s Mansion (A tour of which was the subject of a fifth grade field trip). The moment Rod Bodkin’s eyelids fell shut in sudden sleep, those old walls started talking to Stanley, where often Stan would have to instigate conversation, and their voices were loud and low and rumbling crumbling, like no other wall voice he had ever heard,

WALL TALKER!

STANLEY SQUANTRO!

THE BOY WHO CAN TALK TO WALLS…

-Good afternoon, walls!  I thank you for your hospitality.

IT IS THE GREAT PLEASURE OF THE WALLS TO HAVE YOU INSIDE US

-I’m hoping you could tell me what happened to Lily.

SHE CAME HOME FROM SCHOOL AND NO ONE WAS HOME

MOM AND DAD GOT MIXED UP EACH THOUGHT THE OTHER WOULD PICK HER UP FROM SCHOOL

-What happened then?

SHE WENT TO HER ROOM

A LITTLE MAGICAL MAN CAME INTO THE HOUSE BY CRAWLING THROUGH THE WINDOW

-A magical man?

AN ELF!

AN ENTITY!

HE WENT TO HER ROOM!

The walls of House Bodkin let out a collective wailing sigh of regret.  When the din settled, the first wall began again

HE LEFT CRAWLING BACK OUT THE WINDOW AND WE HAVE NOT SEEN LITTLE LILY SINCE

-But what happened in her room?

YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK THOSE WALLS

So Stanley went around and down the hall to Lily’s room, which had been left untouched in the two years since she disappeared.  The walls of Lily Bodkin’s room told Stanley that Lily was playing with her dollhouse when the little magical man came in, frightening her.  He waved his hand and cast a spell on her.  She shrank down until she was the same size as the dolls she was playing with.  She ran into the dollhouse and hid in it’s secret nooks and crannies, but he shook her out and when she landed on the floor she hit her head and was knocked out.  Then the little magician put her in his pocket and left.

-But who was he?

The walls had no answer.  They were silent.  But Stanley heard something in that silence, a soft calling out to him.  He followed it to Lily’s dollhouse, and looked inside of it, where the miniature faces of the miniature walls within were showing themselves to Stanley as they called to him.

-Hello little walls!  What are you trying to tell me?

THE LITTLE MAGIC MAN IS A BOY FROM THE NEIGHBOURHOOD.  HE LOOKS LIKE A BOY BUT  HE ISN’T.  HE CAST A FORGETTING SPELL ALL AROUND BUT IT ONLY HIT US A LITTLE BIT. SO WE REMEMBER HIM, BUT NOT HIS NAME, AND LILY KNEW HIM

-A boy from the neighborhood?

YES

Stanley said goodbye to the walls of House Bodkin, and they said goodbye to him, and as Rod was still snoozing on the couch, left by the front door.  He walked down Chaldean Avenue, the light a blanket dapple through the canopy of leaves on the tall trees abounding.  A name jumped off a mailbox at the end of another long gravel driveway.

LONDGREN

Laufey Londgren.  Sits with Rod Bodkin when no one else will.  A little magical man.  Laufey.  Elfin.  An Elf.  Looks like a boy from the neighborhood.  A little magical man in disguise.  Laufey.  Laufey.  Loki Laufeyson.  Laufey Londgren. A little magical man. Walls don’t lie.

These are the flashes of thought that go through Stanley Squantro’s as yet unseasoned deductive reasoners at this moment of looking from the Londgren mailbox to the Londgren house down the long drive , obscured almost completely by the Chaldean foliage.

Stanley walked down the driveway, disappearing from public view behind great unclipped evergreen bushes, up some stairs, and rang the doorbell.  Nothing. Not even a bell.  There was an old fashioned iron door knocker in the shape of a snarling wolf, and Stanley tried it, a fine coat of rusty dust falling on his hand as he banged it three times.  Still no response.  No one home.  To the side of the door was a big window, thick curtains drawn behind it.  some wind kicked up inside, blowing the curtain open for a moment.  In this moment Stan saw two things, a big dollhouse in the middle of an otherwise empty room,and the open window on the inside of the room, through which the revealing wind had entered.

As we can see, Stanley seems to have forgotten the deal he made with his Squantro Kin to share any information before taking action, and he continues to forget as he circles ’round the hidden house of Londgren, and finding the open window, climbs up to and in through it.

There was nothing going on in the empty rooms of the old house.  The only signs of life, light and movement came from within the antique dollhouse in the middle of the front room.  Crouching for a closer look-see, Stanley looked through an upstairs window and within beheld a tiny litle girl sweeping the floors and dusting the corners with a feather duster.  When she noticed Stanley’s relatively huge eye practically filling the window, Kong style, her cry of fright reached Stan’s ear as a pipsqueak of a squeal.

Stanley stood up, and finding the faces of the walls of the Lodgren house, spoke what would become his customary opening inquiry to strange walls,

-What goes on here?

THE SHRUNKEN LILY BODKIN KEEPS THE LITTLE HOUSE

SHE IS HIS SLAVE

-How can I help her?

YOU MUST BEAT HIM

-How can I beat him?

WHEN HE RETURNS HE WILL SHRINK AND PUT THE BULK OF HIS ANCIENT POWER IN A JAR…

Just then Stanwas snapped out of walltalking by the sound of feet on the front steps.  Stan spoke to the walls again,

-Walls!  Help me hide!

With the walls helping him, telling him when and where Laufey Londgren was turning corners, leaving one room and entering another, Stan was able to stay one hidden step ahead of him.  they even told him when Laufey had shrunken himself and gone into the little house, and the coast was clear.  At the time Stanley was on all fours, scrunched up behind an old wooden trunk.  Opting for the greatest possible silence, he crawled carefully back into the front room, where he saw the jar.

Looking into it, Stan saw the jar was filled with fluffy fresh fallen snow, crystalline and cold. A tiny enraged voice startled him!

-Hey!  What the fuck are you doing?

It was a tiny Laufey Londgren, standing on the front steps of the little house, pointing furiously at Stan, who jumped to his feet in a flash.

-That’s mine!  Don’t touch it!

And the tiny little man started to growing.  Stanley lifted the jar over his head, shouting,

-AAAaaaaahhh!! Stop or I’ll smash it!

-Nooooo!!

Laufey stopped growing at about a foot high.

-I’ll be dispersed!

-Let her go, or I’ll throw it right through the window!

-She’s mine!  My servant!  She is what is owed to me!

-Just do it, man!

-You can’t hold that jar like that  forever.  It’s very cold, isn’t it?

It was, and getting colder, it hurt to hold it in his hands, but Stanley stuck in.

-I’ll just smash it, then!

-Noo!!

Stan’s finger’s started really burning then, so cold was the jar of snow, so with a great

-RRRAAAAAAAGH!!

Stanley whipped the jar at the window, smashing the glass of both to bits, the snow within flurrying forth in little snowy tornadoes that zipped all around.  Little Laufey screamed alongside Stan, and he didn’t stop screaming until Stan snatched him up by the ankle with frostbitten hand and whipped him hard against the wall, which knocked him out, to say the least.

In the ensuing silence one of the little snow tornadoes flew into the little house and in a kind of combination twinkling smashing crinklng, Lily Bodkin grew back to her proper size, shattering the little house to splinters as she shot up out of it.

She just ran out of there and straight home, where she shook her brother out of deep sleep and into a tearful reunion while the walls of House Bodkin shouted in their joy.

Stanley Squantro, meanwhile, found an old antique metal birdcage in a room of Londgren House, and scoooping up the crumpled footlong Laufey, put him in the cage and locked it’s litle door.  He tore down one of the curtains and covered the birdcage, then headed home with it.

Know that Laufey Londgren works, among other crafts, in the art of forced forgetting and the tinkering of memory.  It is a skill that has helped him live as incredibly long as he has.

Stanley entered the Squantro House to great inquisition from Ma and Dad.  The Siblings were still at school.

-So what happened? What’d ya find out?

-Are you all right, Sweetpea?  You look a little dazed!

-Whatcha got there?

-Stanley, your fingers!

Stanley’s fingers were frostbitten, and there was a bird in the birdcage, but Stan found he could not explain either circumstance, as he didn’t even know he had forgotten, and soon did not even care. Even for Ma and Dad, any excitement about or in regards to…what was it we were talking about?  In regards to something?  Oh well… (this memory spell had no effect whatever, however, on Ma Squantro’s treatment of Stanley’s frostbitten fingers).

Shortly thereafter, Dad Squantro felt a mysterious urge to free the mysterious bird in the mysterious birdcage that had appeared so mysteriously in his kitchen, and as his innate love of solving a mystery was so mysteriously nullified, he followed that urge, letting the bird fly out and out and away.

So Stan’s fingers would be prone to quick frostbite the rest of his days, and Laufey Londgren got away, and everybody involved forgot about the whole thing, and Lily Bodkin was rescued and reunited with her long anguished family, thanks to the boy who could talk to walls, and the walls that talked to him.

Thank You

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