An Entertaining Afternoon

An Entertaining Afternoon

Miles and I over a cup of tes“Honey, what are your plans for this afternoon?”

My husband handed me a cup of piping hot blackberry tea and beckoned me to sit at the dining room table. He pulled up a chair and joined me.

Writing my blogI took the cup of tea and appreciatively inhaled the fragrant steam. I blew on the liquid to cool it, then took a few sips before answering Miles. “I have to come up with an idea for this week’s blog, but after that, I think I’m free. Why? Did you want to do something today?”

popcorncontroller for DVDMiles sighed. “Well, I’m all caught up on the work around the house, and with the COVID 19 restrictions, I can’t go anywhere or do anything outside the house. So, I was hoping you and I could go on a date. After lunch today, I can make some popcorn and we can watch some old movies on DVD. I think perhaps some fantasy would help lift our spirits.”

Dwarf“Poppin’ corn? Ye be makin’ some poppin’ corn?” My Old Dwarf walked past the dining room table and headed to the adjoining kitchen. I could hear him rummaging around in the refrigerator. When he returned, he had the makings of some sandwiches . . . enough to feed a small army for a week or keep one hungry dwarf from starving in the two hours until lunchtime. As he spread the food out on the table and began to assemble the sandwiches, he gave Miles a hopeful look. “Did ye been sayin’ ye be makin’ some poppin’ corn later this day, laddie?”

Miles and I looked at each other and sighed.Distributed popcorn

Soon after lunch, my characters and I found our seats in the living room, facing the television set. Miles distributed large bowls of buttered popcorn to everyone before he took his seat next to me.

Foreman facing right closeup“Thank you for inviting us to see this movie with you and Mistress Writer, Master Miles. This should be very entertaining.” My Foreman smiled as he took a handful of popcorn and started eating.Elf

“Yes, thank you!” Cleric daintily nibbled a kernel of popcorn. “What is this movie about?”

Dwarf“Be there any dwarves in tha movie?” My Old Dwarf was already half-way through his bowl of popcorn.Elf cleric close-up 2

“Or dragons?” Dragon, in her guise as the maiden Dray, looked hopeful.

Gypsy close-up facing right“Or Gypsies?” My Gypsy lad grinned. “There must be Gypsies!”

 

I laughed. “Well, you’ll just have to wait and see for yourself what it’s about, but I can tell you there are no Gypsies, no dragons, and no dwarfs. There are some witches, and a wizard, along with some flying monkeys and a few other fantastical creatures. I think you’ll enjoy it.”Witches, wizard, flying monkey, and more

controller for DVD 2Miles reached for the remote control for the DVD player and started the movie. Everyone grew quiet.

Just minutes into the film, my Old Dwarf asked around a mouthful of popcorn, “What be wrong wit tha color? It be lookin’ all brownish and muddy-like.”

Sepia 2Miles paused the DVD so I could explain. “This movie starts out in the mundane day-to-day world of the main character, Dorothy. It was filmed in sepia tones . . . what you called muddy brownish color . . . to present a contrast with the rest of the film.”

“Why does it need a contrast?” My Bounty Hunter frowned.

“That will become apparent. Now let’s just watch the movie.” I sighed as the movie resumed.

Things were going well until Dorothy began singing about a storied land Over the Rainbow. My Arrogant One scoffed and sniffed disdainfully. “What is she doing? People don’t just start singing like that!”singing over the rainbow

Miles paused the movie again. “This type of motion picture is known as a musical. As well as being very entertaining, the song lyrics are used to eloquently express important themes and ideas.”

Miles and I exchanged exasperated looks as he hit play on the remote control, and the movie resumed.

TotoClericMy characters seemed to be enjoying the story until Miss Gulch tried to take Toto from the Gales. There were numerous murmurs of alarm among the group, and Cleric leapt to her feet, knocking over two bowls of popcorn. “No! No, she must not be allowed to destroy that poor, innocent animal!”

Miles stopped the video again and cleaned up the spilled popcorn as I tried to calm Cleric. “Relax!” I placed a hand on her shoulder. “It’s make-believe. It’s just a story. The dog will be fine.”

Cleric blushed. “I do know it is not real, but I got so caught up in the story! I apologize for getting so upset.”

Miles went to the kitchen and returned with more popcorn. Once everyone was settled down again, he started the DVD once more.

controller for DVD

Charactersfrequent whispers about the movieThe movie continued with frequent whispered comments from my characters about everything from the realistic portrayal of an approaching tornado (and the unrealistic portrayal of Dorothy up inside the cyclone), to the background music (which some of my characters found distracting), to Professor Marvel’s crystal (Sorceress admired it), to the way Miss Gulch shape-shifted into the Wicked Witch (Dray found it most intriguing).

When Dorothy opened the door of her house to the color and splendor of a different land, all my characters gasped. But when Glinda proclaimed only bad witches are ugly, my characters immediately broke into a loud debate, and Miles paused the movie once more.Dray angry 2

“One’s physical appearance is no clue to their inner virtue or lack thereof.” In spite of the fact that Dragon had assumed the appearance of her alter-ego, Dray, black smoke started to drift from her nose.

Arrogant One full body 2“I am not certain I agree with that.” My Arrogant One stood to face Dray. He drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, grasped his cloak with both hands, and scowled. “Elves are the most beautiful race in any world, and our virtue is legendary!”

My Gypsy hooted. “Legendary? Your virtue?” He grabbed his sides and dissolved into a fit of laughter.

I stepped in before the altercation could become physical. “Okay, that’s enough. Let’s hold the rest of the comments until the end. Just sit back and enjoy the movie, please.”

Miles and I sighed again, but soon I was as amused by my character’s reactions as by the movie itself.

watching the movieMy characters seemed rather taken with the Munchkins, smiling as the little people sang Dorothy out of their city. They all seemed intrigued by the Scarecrow and the Tin Man, but they appeared unanimously disdainful of the Cowardly Lion.

As we continued watching Dorothy’s journey through Oz, my characters made only occasional whispered comments. I could hear my Young Hero, my Gypsy, and my Foreman oohing and aahing over the horse of a different color, while Dray, Cleric, and Sorceress were enchanted with the Emerald City. They all seemed bored as the Cowardly Lion sang while Dorothy and her companions awaited the return of the guard so they could see the Wizard. And they loudly booed the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz as he tried to intimidate Dorothy and the others.

“Big bully! I would like just two minutes alone with him!” Dray fumed.

As Dorothy and her companions entered the Haunted Forest, you cold have heard a pin drop in our living room. The only sounds were from the movie. But when the Lion started his mantra of I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks. I do — I do — I do — I do — I do, my Old Dwarf loudly harrumphed. “Ye be wise ta be believin’ in ’em, beastie. Ghosties be real!”

“Indeed.” My Young Hero was ashen, with sweat on his brow and upper lip. “I can attest to that fact.”

dwarf attacking tvA look from me silenced my characters again until the witch’s winged monkeys landed in the forest and started capturing Dorothy and the others. Suddenly my Old Dwarf jumped up and brandished his axe and ran right at the television. “I be savin’ ye!”

I yelped. “No! Stop him!”

My Foreman and my Bounty Hunter grabbed him and pinned his arms to his side. Miles and I jumped up and quickly disarmed him.

The rotund figure squirmed away from his captors and sputtered. “But . . . but . . . look!” He pointed to the television. “Them wing-ed beasties be catchin’ Dorothy an’ the others. We gotta be savin’ ’em!”

I scowled. “It’s not real, remember? It’s just make-believe. And they’re not really inside the television. It’s just a movie. You know, pictures that move.”

Dray frowned at the dwarf. “For as many years as we have been here in this world, for as many times as you have watched this magic box Mistress Writer calls a television, one would think you would have a rudimentary understanding of how it functions.”

My Old Dwarf hung his head and shuffled one foot back and forth. “I be real sorry. I been forgettin’. It all be seemin’ so real!”

I nodded. “I understand. But if you’re going to watch the rest of this movie, you have to stay in your seat and not cause any more commotion.”

The red-faced dwarf nodded and shuffled back to his chair. Miles backed up the DVD to the point where the winged monkeys made their appearance. While the dwarf was visibly agitated by the scene, squirming and fidgeting in his seat, he remained silent.

got the broombooingAll my characters were on the edge of their seats as Dorothy’s companions were making their way to her rescue. When Dorothy melted the witch, they broke into raucous cheers and applause. And they booed the Wizard again when Dorothy and the others returned to the Emerald City with the witch’s broom.

“Bully!” Dray glowered at the figure on the television screen.

The Wizard earned more boos and jeers when he was unable to control his hot air balloon and wait for Dorothy.

Sorceress close-upSorceress scowled as Dorothy clicked her heels together and made the trip back to Kansas. “I cannot believe Glinda was so cruel as to make Dorothy and her companions endure that ordeal when she could have told her without delay how to get home.”

Sepia“It be all brownish an’ muddy-like agin,” my Old Dwarf grumbled around his mouthful of popcorn.

“They are back in the mundane world again.” Dray whispered.

As Dorothy proclaimed there’s no place like home, there was not a dry eye among my characters, and my Bounty Hunter seemed to sum up everyone’s feelings. “That is an indisputable axiom.”

Everyone’s feelings, except perhaps those of my Arrogant One. He snickered and raised an eyebrow. “Indeed. Now I wonder why that important theme was not eloquently expressed in song.”

My characters drifted out of the room trying to top each other in creating songs about home, and going home, and how there’s no place like home.Music

Later, Miles and I talked about inviting my characters to watch more movies with us.

“I’m not sure they really understood the concept of the musical, but I think they enjoyed the show anyway. I bet they would love the Harry Potter series, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or maybe The Dark Crystal or even some of the Jumanji movies.” I gave Miles a questioning look as I handed him the dirty bowls to place in the dishwasher.

My husband appeared to consider this as he added the detergent and finisher, and started the appliance. Then he gave me a mischievous grin. “Oh, no, no, no, no! I disagree. The way they all left the room singing, they obviously loved the music! I think we should invite them to watch West Side Story with us.”

West Side Story

 

It’s hard to keep my little band of displaced characters entertained during this time of COVID 19 social distancing. It’s even harder for Miles and me to stay entertained. How are you all dealing with these troubling times? We hope you will return again next week to spend some time with us. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

 

Hot Topic and Chilling Memories

Hot Topic and Chilling Memories

Cleric closeup“Mistress, do you have time to explain some things to us?” Cleric stood at the door of my office, furrowing her brow and fidgeting with her cincture.Me

“I guess so.” I looked at my watch and sighed. “I was going to work on my blog, but I got sidetracked into a discussion on social media and lost track of time. I guess I’ll work on my blog tomorrow.”

I put my computer into sleep mode, stood up, and stretched. “Now, who is us, and what do you need me to explain?”

Conference room gathering“Well, us is all of us – me and all my companions, all your characters.” Cleric beckoned, and I followed her upstairs to the living room, where the rest of my characters sat waiting. “We have been watching your magic box, the one you call a television, and we have some questions.”

I settled into an empty chair and nodded. “Okay. What’s bothering all of you?”

news alertMy Old Dwarf spoke up, talking around a mouthful of food. “Wale, we been watchin’ a bunch o what ye be callin’ news alerts, what been breakin’ inta tha programs we been watchin’. There be some kind o malady thet be scarin’ everybody.”

Ignoring regulationsgovernment regulationsMy Young Hero nodded. “But the reports were confusing. Not everyone seems worried. Some people are complaining about the inconvenience and questioning the necessity of the restrictions that governments are placing on people. Many people are apparently ignoring the directions to avoid contact with others.”

“Yes, the danger of this disease seems to be questioned by a number of people.” My Gypsy leaned forward in his chair. “Many are saying that only a relative few people have succumbed to this, compared to the flu that emerges each year in your world and kills many more people than this disease has.”

“Can you explain everything to us, Mistress?” Sorceress looked pale, and she was fidgeting as badly as Cleric. “What is this sickness, where and when did it start, and it is really dangerous?”

COVID 19 Corona VirusChina is a long way from hereI sighed. “This is very hard to explain to anyone who has not followed it from the beginning, but I will try. The disease, which is now known as COVID-19 or the Coronavirus, first emerged late last year in a country called China. That’s a long way from here.”

I paused, trying to decide how much detail they really needed. I decided on the short version. “From China, it rapidly spread to other parts of the world. Right now, there is no known cure, and no vaccination.”

“What be a vak-see-nay-shun?” The dwarf was listening so intently, he had stopped munching on his sandwich.

vaccinationI raked my hand through my hair. How do you explain modern medicine to a bunch of medieval characters? “Well, a vaccination is an injection that is given to a person to help prevent them getting a specific illness. You remember that Miles and I get a flu shot each year? That is a vaccination to prevent us catching the flu.”

“The flu is the illness that many people are citing as more dangerous than this Coronavirus.” My Foreman shifted in his chair. “Is it?”

I sighed. “That is the topic of some debate. There is an agency in this country known as the Center for Disease Control. They track information like this.” I got up and grabbed my laptop. “I was just reading some figures on this the other day.”

virusMy characters waited patiently as I brought up the web site with the information. “Ah, here it is on the CDC’s website. The Center for Disease Control (the CDC) estimates that influenza – what we commonly call the flu – has resulted in up to 45 million illnesses and up to 61,000 deaths annually for the past ten years in the United States.”

I brought up another website, a site that provides live updates on Coronavirus numbers. “Now, according to this website, the Coronavirus has resulted in fewer than 500 deaths in this country so far. So, it would seem as if the flu is far more dangerous, right?”

My characters all nodded.

I shook my head. “That’s what a lot of people believe, but it’s not necessarily true. The flu has resulted in more than 60,000 deaths a year in this country, despite many people being vaccinated. There is no vaccination yet against the Coronavirus, and if it goes unchecked, it could be far worse than the flu. We have no way of knowing yet. That’s why other methods are being used to prevent the spread of this disease. That’s why the government is limiting large gatherings and closing nonessential businesses where people tend to congregate in large numbers, like libraries, museums, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Even schools have been closed, and services have been canceled at places of worship. Everyone is supposed to avoid crowds and stay at home as much as possible, away from other people who might infect them, or who might be infected by them.”avoiding infection

My Foreman furrowed his brow. “So, while waiting for a vaccine to be developed, these other measures are being used to keep the disease from spreading?”

respiratorI nodded. “If COVID 19 was left to spread, unchecked, it could result in a catastrophic number of cases. Hospitals would not have enough room or equipment to treat everyone. This disease affects the respiratory system. There are only a finite number of respirators available for treating the sick. If the disease was allowed to spread unchecked, hospitals wouldn’t be able to treat all those who become sick. Many more deaths would occur.”

“So, the regulations that the governments are putting in place are to prevent the spread of the disease, for the safety of everyone.” Dragon nodded her approval.

My Bounty Hunter cleared his throat. “But according to some reports we have seen, many people who have contracted the disease have recovered with little or no treatment.”

I nodded. “That’s true. Many people catch the flu each year, too, and recover with little to no treatment. But they are the lucky ones. COVID 19 has already caused more than 13,000 deaths worldwide, and that number continues to rise despite the extraordinary efforts to control the spread of the virus. It has increased by more than2,000 deaths in just the last 48 hours. Think what that number might be if we all just went about our business as usual.”

My Cleric spoke again. “Mistress, is it possible for us to get this disease?” She gestured to herself and her fellow characters.

I shrugged. “I wish I could give you an answer, but I have no way of knowing that. You have all remained fairly healthy in the years you have been residing in this world, so I’m not sure how many of the diseases of this world can affect you.”Dragon with smoke bubbles

“Yes . . . fairly healthy. Except for that incident two years ago, when seven of the nine of us lie comatose from an unknown ailment.” Dragon turned pale blue and smoke bubbles dripped from her snout.

My Arrogant One shuddered. “I remember. We almost died.”

I nodded. “When my Foreman, my Young Hero, and my Gypsy brought you and your cohort in from where they found you in the shed, I feared you were dead!”

“And no one knew if you and I were in danger.” Miles, who had been standing to the side near the dining room, joined the conversation.

I nodded again. “It was dark times for sure.”

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/are-they-dead/

“Indeed. It spread so rapidly. First there were just two victims – the elf and his cohort. Then the Foreman and Sorceress succumbed. Then the dwarf.” Dragon’s voice cracked and she shivered uncontrollably.

Cleric placed her hand on Dragon’s arm. “Yes. You and I were the only ones spared, along with Mistress Writer and Master Miles, of course.”

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/what-next/

My Old Dwarf chuckled. “An’ ye be tha one what been savin’ us, beastie. Although ye almos’ be kiltin’ me whilst ye be doin’ it.”

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/jest-aboot-in-time-fer-dinner/

My characters sat there, reminiscing, until my Old Dwarf decided it was lunchtime. As we walked to the kitchen, my Foreman spoke to me. “Thank you for explaining things to us, Mistress. I do hope that all of our friends, and all of our readers, are safe from this malady.”

“So do I, my friend, so do I.”

Stay safe and healthy, dear readers, and join me and my little band of displaced characters again next week to see what mischief unfolds. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Eye Think We’re Done Here

Eye Think We’re Done Here

No catching movement out of corner of eyeBounty Hunter flame-cheekedIt had been a good couple of days, at least on one front. No creepy feelings of being watched. No catching movement out of the corner of my eye, only to find nothing and nobody there when I turned to look. I think my Bounty Hunter had gotten the message.

I had seen him moping around several times, but when I approached him to say something, he turned, flamed-cheeked, and walked away. I saw him do the same when any of his fellow characters drew near. I guess it’s embarrassing, not to mention rather ego-deflating, for a bounty hunter to find all his super-sleuthing and creeping about was common knowledge, to find he hadn’t managed to sneak up on anyone.

The eyes were a different story. I thought I had seen them a few times. Each time, they were gone before I was sure I had seen them, before I was sure they weren’t just a figment of my overactive and over stressed imagination.

The eyes were a different storyThe most recent pair may or may not have just been staring at me from my computer monitor. I squinted at the screen, trying to bring into focus what may have been a fading image of eyes behind the words I had been typing. Was it or wasn’t it? I squinted harder.

“Mistress?”Cleric twisting cord belt

I jumped and looked up from my computer to see Cleric poking her head into my office. Her brow was furrowed, and she looked troubled.

I put my computer in sleep mode. “What is it?”

She edged her way into my office and stood there fidgeting with her cincture.

“Well?”

“Well, Mistress, I am not certain, but I think I saw a pair of disembodied eyes watching me from the looking glass in the garderobe.” She fidgeted some more.

“You’re not certain?” I raised an eyebrow.

Cleric blushed deep redCleric blushed and lowered her eyes. “No, Mistress. I had been using very hot water, and the looking glass was steamed up. I am not sure if I saw the eyes, or if it was just a mirage caused by the swirling vapor.”

“I see.” I raked my hand through my hair. “Well, let Dragon know. If there was something there, she will want to examine the area for trace magic. She believes she knows who is behind these apparitions, but she would like to confirm her suspicions before putting her plan in motion.”

Cleric nodded and scurried away.

Murderous lookBefore I could get back to my work, my husband, Miles, walked in. I took one look at the murderous expression on his face and sighed. “What have my characters done now?”Dwarf hacking hole in wall

Miles scowled. “Well, your Old Dwarf hacked a good-sized hole in the living room wall. It may be more damage than I can fix on my own. We may have to hire someone to repair the wall and repaint it.”

My jaw dropped and my eyes grew as big as saucers. “My Old Dwarf did what?” I waved off my husband’s reply. “Why would he do that?”

“He said something about gittin’ them eyeballs.” Miles continued to scowl. “He thought he saw eyes watching him. I know first-hand how disconcerting that can be, but really! Attacking the wall? You need to talk with him.”

I sighed again. “Yeah, I’ll go find him right now.”Conference room gathering

As Miles and I walked down the hall from my office, we heard a commotion in the conference room, so we took a detour to find out what was happening. We found all my characters there, all talking at once.

I had to shout at the top of my voice to get everyone’s attention. “What’s the brouhaha all about?”Angry Dragon

Dark smoke emanated from Dragon’s snout. “It seems everywhere we go in this house, there are eyes watching our every move.”

“Yes. I thought I had seen some. Also, Cleric told me she thought she saw some in the steam on the bathroom mirror, and Miles just told me the dwarf tried to attack a pair he saw on the living room wall.”

DwarfI glowered at my Old Dwarf, who scuffed one foot back and forth on the floor. “Eh, I be real sorry-like aboot thet, lass. I be fixin’ yer wall fer ye right quick-like, as soon as I be gittin some materials.”

I nodded, then turned back to Dragon. “Have you been able to find any trace that would tell you who is behind the surveillance?”

“Not yet, but neither have I found anything to gainsay my earlier supposition.” Smoke continued to drift from the huge reptile’s nose as she narrowed her eyes and growled. “I believe I should implement my plan.”

I nodded. “You should do it at your earliest convenience.” I started to go but turned back. “Oh, don’t forget the next meeting of Lost in the Words is tomorrow night.”

Dragon nodded and grinned, revealing her terrible dagger-like teeth. “I have not forgotten.”

The Local Coffee ShoppeElf cleric close-up 2The following evening, Dragon and I arrived at The Local Coffee Shoppe well in advance of the writers’ club meeting. Dragon was in her preferred guise of Dray, a beautiful elf maiden. Her delicate features, slanted eyes, and slightly pointed ears gave her an exotic look, but she easily passed for a human female and raised no eyebrows from the café patrons. At the counter we ordered our beverages – a spiced tea for Dray, and a hot chocolate for me. Then we made our way to the large alcove where tables and chairs were already set up in anticipation of the meeting.Griff2

CrawfordCrawford and Griff were already there. Griff jumped up to greet Dray and pull out a chair for her next to him. I slid into the seat next to Crawford.

Crawford leaned close to me and spoke in an urgent whisper. “Have you figured anything out yet?”

The walls were watchingCrawford and Griff had been with me at the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store when multiple pairs of eyes appeared all around us. Crawford was the one who suggested we were, in his words, barking up the wrong tree when we suspected our young neighbor, Marisol, to be the perpetrator.
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/01/26/the-eyes-have-it/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/02/02/eye-eye-eye/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/02/09/eye-dont-know-whats-going-on/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/02/16/eye-may-have-to-reconsider/

MarisolArrogant One full body“Well . . .” I sighed and raked my hand through my hair. “We’ve discovered who is not behind the eyes. It’s not Marisol, and it’s not my Arrogant One or any of my other characters who practice magic. Dray believes she knows who is responsible, and she has a plan to deal with the perpetrator.”

Crawford looked questioningly at Dray. “Care to share your plan?”

Dray narrowed her eyes and a smile tugged at her lips. Before she could answer, however, the other members of Lost in the Words joined us.

Didi“Hey, strangers!” Didi slid into the chair next to me, and other members took their places around the table. “I was beginning to think you had fallen off the face of the earth!”

I smiled ruefully at the young journalist and aspiring cozy mystery writer. “Been busy.”

Robaire - fantasy“Say, did you ever figure out that problem you were having with the magic system and that strange character in your WIP?” I recognized the person leaning across the table to talk with me as one of the fantasy writers who had been at the last meeting Dray and I attended. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/09/01/still-searching-for-answers/

Arthur, angry face“We can discuss works-in-progress at the appropriate time during the meeting.” Arthur, the writers’ club president, cut off the conversation as he took his chair at the head of the table and called the meeting to order. “I see you’re back.” He glowered at me. “If you plan to join our group, you’ll have to apply for membership. We can’t have people just dropping in willy-nilly whenever it suits them. We have an agenda to follow.”

Without waiting for me to reply, Arthur addressed the meeting. “Since everyone here tonight was in attendance last time our two . . . guests . . . intruded on our meeting, there is no need for introductions. Let’s begin.”

Two hours later, four members of the group had read selections from their works in progress. Each in turn got excellent feedback and gentle, constructive criticism from the rest of the group before Arthur wielded his verbal scalpel and viciously shredded their WIPs.

When no one else had a WIP they wanted to share, Arthur turned to me and sneered. “I don’t suppose you have anything worth sharing?” He sneered and waved off my response. “No, of course not. I don’t know why you’re here. This is not a social club.”

Art - leader - multi-genre (2)Without taking a breath, Arthur launched into the announcements – a few writers’ conferences he was endorsing, a few new releases by MN authors, and several newspaper and magazine articles of interest to the local writing community. Finishing up, he reminded everyone of the date for the next meeting and gave a stern exhortation. “Please spend more time at your craft. Much of what was shared tonight was a waste of our time.”

Crawford rolled his eyes. “Arthur’s just so inspirational, isn’t he? A regular breath of fresh air.” His lips twisted into a sardonic smile.

I laughed, then excused myself. Motioning to Dray to accompany me, I approached Arthur as he wordlessly stuffed his notes back into his battered briefcase.

Arthur, angry faceLooking up at the two of us, Arthur grimaced. “I presume you wish to apply for membership.” He checked his watch. “I have some time now. I could conduct the requisite interviews immediately and save you the need to fill out the application.”

“You’re assuming they won’t meet your standards, Arthur?” Crawford raised an eyebrow at the other man.

“That is a distinct possibility.” Arthur’s expression was as sour as his words. “Come along now. I don’t have all night.”

Dray smiled. If someone knew her as I did, they would have recognized the feral smile as a sign of impending danger. Unfortunately for him, Arthur didn’t recognize it as such.

“We should move to a more private area.” Dray’s smile seemed more menacing as she pointed to a table in the corner that was well away from the other patrons. “I will get us some refills. Arthur, what were you drinking?” She gestured at his empty cup.

I waved to Crawford and Griff and bade them goodbye as Arthur and I made our way to the other table, and Dray went up to the counter to get the refreshments for the three of us.Art - leader - multi-genre (2)

With no preamble, Arthur demanded, “Why do you want to join Lost in the Words? How do you think our group will benefit you, and how do you plan to bring value to our group?”

Placing his drink and a large apple in front of Arthur, Dray slipped into the chair next to me, facing Arthur. While Arthur’s attention was on me, I saw Dray make a few arcane gestures, and I knew our confrontation with Arthur would go unnoticed by the other patrons.

Impatient, Arthur repeated his question. “I asked you why you want to join Lost in the Words. How do you think our group will benefit you, and how do you plan to bring value to our group?”

“Oh, trust me, Arthur. We can bring a great deal of value to this group.” Dray leaned forward. “And we can bring a great deal to you specifically.”

“What do you mean?” Arthur scowled. “Are you actually trying to gain admission to this group through bribery?”

“No, Arthur. We seek a different sort of admission. The admission we seek is from you, owning up to your recent deeds.” Dray fixed him with a cold stare.

Arthur squirms and stammers“Wha . . . what do you mean?” Arthur squirmed in his seat, and beads of sweat formed on his forehead.

I cleared my throat. “Arthur, we believe you are behind some recent, unsettling events. Do you care to guess to what I am referring?”

“I . . . I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He reached for his briefcase. “I have no time for such absurdity. Good night!”

But as he tried to push his chair back from the table and leave, he found it stuck fast to the floor.

“Arthur.” Dray spoke in a soothing voice. “You see, Arthur, ceilings, walls, doors, mirrors, and computer monitors are not the only things with eyes, Arthur.” She gestured to the piece of fruit on the table in front of him.

Arthur gaped at the apple, which now sported a pair of eyes.Apple with eyesDray continued, her voice still calm and melodic. “And eyes are not the only features that things can have, Arthur.” She gestured again, and the color drained form Arthur’s face as the apple bared a set of fangs.Apple grows eyes and teeth“Arthur, if a pair of eyes should ever again appear near us, you will find apples are not the only things with teeth. Do you see, Arthur? Do you understand?” Dray pointed to the wall next to Arthur.

Arthur started to hyperventilate as the image of a fanged monster appeared on that wall.

Teeth

Do you understand, Arthur?” Dray morphed into her true self and roared at Arthur. The man’s eyes looked as if they would literally pop out of his head, and his jaw almost hit the table as he gaped at the snarling beast.Warning from Dragon 2

“Arthur? Do you understand me, Arthur?” Dray spoke softly.

Elf cleric close-up 2

Arthur nodded. He could barely speak. When he finally found his voice, he stammered hoarsely. “How . . . how did you do . . .?” His voice cracked and he trailed off. Licking his lips nervously, he tried again. “How . . . how did you know it was me?”

“Oh, something someone said.” Dray narrowed her eyes and her lips slowly spread in a tight smile.

The color gradually returned to Arthur’s face, his ragged breathing slowed to normal, and he regained his composure. Slowly, his eyes narrowed as he took Dray’s measure. “So, I was right about you. I knew you were more than you appeared to be, you and the rest of your friends.”

“Yes, you were right.” Dray nodded and took a sip of her spiced tea. “You have that knowledge now . . . knowledge that you will neither share nor use in any way.”A toothy grin

Dray shimmered. “Unless you would like to have first-hand knowledge of these teeth.” Dragon flashed a toothy grin at Arthur.

Arthur jumped and rubbed his eyes. He furrowed his brow at Dray, calmly sitting next to me and sipping her tea.

Dray put her cup on the table and raised an eyebrow at Arthur. “Well?”

Arthur nodded. “I see that I have no choice. Your secret will remain undisclosed.”

“Good. Then I think we’re done here.” I smiled.

“But do not forget our applications for membership in Lost in the Words.” Dray’s eyes twinkled as Arthur scowled.

I have a feeling we’ll have no more problems with Arthur. I hope you’ll join us next week and see what’s in store next for my little band of displaced characters. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Eye Think We’re Getting Closer

Eye Think We’re Getting Closer

It was déjà vu.

in officeEyesAll morning long, I had had the feeling of being watched. It was unnerving, especially considering recent events. I couldn’t concentrate. I kept looking up from my computer, expecting to see one of my characters at the door, ready to barge in and disturb me at my work . . . or worse, still, a disembodied pair of eyes watching me. Each time I looked, there were no eyes and there was no one at the door, although several times I swore I saw a quickly retreating shadow.

It was almost lunchtime. I had just looked up from the computer and I had seen it again – just a shadow moving by the door. Suddenly, there was a commotion in the hallway.

“Ye jes’ be commin’ along quiet-like, now. Tha lass’ll be wantin’ ta be knowin’ wat ye been doin’ oot here.”

Dwarf and Bounty HunterMy Bounty Hunter balked at the door, but my Old Dwarf pushed him into the room. The rotund figure followed, axe in hand, smacking the flat of his axe blade into the open palm of his other hand in a threatening gesture.

“What’s going on?” I glared at my Bounty Hunter, who brushed himself off, straightened his tunic, and quietly regained his composure.Dwarf facing right

When it became obvious that the man was not going to respond, my Old Dwarf spoke up. “I be seein’ thisun oot here tippy-toein’ around by yer door. He be lookin’ liken he be spyin’ on ye.” The dwarf gave the man another shove. “Why do na ye be tellin’ tha lass jes wat ye been doin’?”

I looked questioningly at my Bounty Hunter, who remained silent. I could feel my anger rise.

“It was you!” I sputtered. “You . . . you have been spying on me! And I suppose my Arrogant One was responsible for the eyes.”

“No!” My Bounty Hunter glared at me.

The dwarf scoffed. “Now, do na be tellin’ tha lass no fibs. I be catchin’ ye in tha act.”

Bounty Hunter full body 2My Bounty Hunter scowled. “All right. As you say, you caught me in the act.” He started pacing. “I often watch and listen to those within this house, unnoticed by the subjects of my observation. It keeps my skills sharp. I am a bounty hunter. I need to be stealthy.” He stopped and faced me. “I was bored on the illusory trip. While my companions were enjoying themselves, I returned here several times to practice, to watch you here in your office. But I acted alone. The elf had nothing to do with this. If he was behind the watching eyes – which I doubt – he acted without me.”

“We’ll see about that.” I nodded to my Old Dwarf. “Bring him. We need to talk to the elf.”

I pushed past the other two and led the way out of the room and down the hall. My Bounty Hunter reluctantly followed, prodded every step of the way by the dwarf. We didn’t have far to go. We found my Arrogant One in the conference room, in heated discussion with Dragon and my other magic users.

The small group of spellcasters – Dragon, Sorceress, Cleric, my Gypsy, and my Arrogant One – fell silent as we entered the room.

Arrogant One full bodyWithout apologizing for the intrusion, I accosted my Arrogant One. “Elf, we need to talk.”

My Arrogant One drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, grasped his cloak with both hands, and scowled at me. “We are busy. Can this not wait?”

“No.”

“Very well.” He frowned and sighed. “Please be quick.”

I glared at the elf. “Your sidekick was just caught in the act of spying on me. He admits he was the one responsible for several incidents wherein I felt as if I were being watched while you were all allegedly on your illusory trip. I want to know if you were with him, if you are the one responsible for the eyes that appeared in various places in this house and in the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store.”

Arrogant One facing rightBounty Hunter head shotMy Arrogant One’s face flamed, and his jaw dropped. He glared at my Bounty Hunter, then turned to me. “I have already told you I am not responsible. Did this miscreant tell you otherwise?”

Backyard 050“No, he claimed he acted alone. He also said he did not believe you were involved in the appearance of disembodied eyes.” I raked my hand through my hair. “But if he was involved in spying on me, it stands to reason that you, his best friend and cohort, would be involved.”

Dragon 2Dragon stepped in front of me. “He was not.”

I scowled. “How do you know? If the one was involved . . .”

Dragon gestured toward my Bounty Hunter. “He frequently spies on us when he thinks we are unaware. He has done this since he fell out of your manuscript and arrived here.”

My Bounty Hunter’s face fell. “You . . . you knew?”

Dragon scoffed. “Of course we knew. We humored you. You really are not very good, you know. I do not know how you survived as a Bounty Hunter in our world.” The beast turned from him and continued. “The Bounty Hunter may have snuck back here during our illusory trip in order to spy on you, but the eyes – whether illusion or something else – were not the work of the elf.”

“And I am tired of the constant accusations.” My Arrogant One’s voice was something between a whine and a threat.

“If you truly were not involved, I apologize for the accusation.” I turned to my Bounty Hunter. “But you are guilty. If you are ever found spying on me again, I will let Dragon and my Old Dwarf deal with you.”

Flame-cheeked, my Bounty Hunter nodded curtly to me, then scurried out of the room.

We are busy“Now, if you will excuse us, we are busy. We have been trying to devise a way to expose whoever or whatever is behind the disembodied eyes.” My Arrogant One unceremoniously hustled my Old Dwarf and me out of the room, slamming the door closed behind us.

dragonWhen they emerged from the conference room several hours later, my little band of magic users seemed in better spirits. Dragon approached me. “We believe we have identified the culprit and have a plan to expose him.” She grinned a toothy grin and rubbed her hands together gleefully as she explained the plan to me.

 

What is Dragon’s plan, and who does she and her colleagues in magic hope to uncover? Be sure to come back next week! We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Eye’m Afraid Eye Just Don’t See

Eye’m Afraid Eye Just Don’t See

tree

“Barkin’ up tha wrong tree? Wat do thet e’en be meanin’?”

We were all gathered in the conference room – me, my husband, and my little band of displaced characters – discussing recent events. My Old Dwarf wore a puzzled expression, and a coating of food particles from the mouthful of sandwich around which he was trying to talk.All gathered

Arrogant One scolding Dwarf“It means, you slovenly ignoramus, that this Crawford person did not believe the child, Marisol, was the one behind the appearances of the eyes.” My Arrogant One wrinkled his nose at the dwarf, who continued to chomp on his sandwich and scatter bits of food over his beard and armor as he spoke.

“Then who do be behind ’em?”

“We do not yet know, do we?” My Arrogant One rolled his eyes. “If you had been listening instead of chomping, maybe you would have heard Dragon say as much.”

Ignoring the elf’s jibe, the dwarf kept chomping on the sandwich and talking. “Well then, iffins we do na be knowin’ who do be behind tha eyes, how do we be knowin’s it do na be tha youngun?”

Dragon scolding Dwarf“Because I just told you she is not.” Dragon snorted dark smoke at her diminutive companion. “I questioned Marisol, and during the questioning I also probed her mind with my magic. The child is not behind the events. She was not even aware of them before I questioned her.”

“This is extremely disturbing.” My Foreman rubbed the back of his neck. “Did not you magic users weave a spell of protection over this property after someone interfered with one of the elf’s illusions? I thought your spell was supposed to prevent such incidents.”

weaveWeave a new spellDragon nodded. “Yes, after someone wove their magic into one of the Arrogant One’s illusions, a spell that prevented the illusion from being dismissed, we – the elf, the Gypsy lad, Sorceress, Cleric, and myself – spent a great deal of time separating the foreign magic from the spell the elf had cast. We then cast a new spell of protection over the house and grounds, protecting it from outside magic.”                                                           https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/12/15/what-has-that-elf-done-now/                         https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/12/22/tis-the-season-for-cooperation/

My Young Hero frowned and stroked his chin. “And how does that work?”

Dragon with smokeDragon snorted another puff of smoke. “Well, the spell is supposed to prevent any magic user, save we five, from casting any spells on this property, or from adding their magic to any spells we cast elsewhere.” She frowned. “Before we cast the spell, we made certain we were alone, that no other magic user or alien presence was on the property. We also ensured that no spell had been cast by any magician that would compromise, change, or block our efforts in casting a spell of protection. Once we made those determinations, I warded the room where we worked against entry and against eavesdropping, both mechanical and magical.”

My Bounty Hunter lounged against the wall, examining his fingernails. “Tsk, tsk. All your efforts do not appear to have been very effective, do they?”

“What do you know of this?” I rounded on my Bounty Hunter.Bounty Hunter head shot

“Me? Why nothing. Nothing except what you and Dragon have shared with us.” His eyes were wide and guileless, his voice petulant.

“I think it would be better to ask your Arrogant One what he knows.” Miles frowned. “If the spell of protection prevents outside magic, then it must have been someone here.”

“Pfft.” My Bounty Hunter scoffed. “The elf was with us, on our illusory trip, when these incidents allegedly occurred.”

“Yes, I was!” My Arrogant One drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, grasped his cloak with both hands, and sneered. “And I resent being accused! There are four other magic users among us. Why not ask them if they are behind these appearances of eyes?”

“Because you are the only one who consistently causes trouble?” Sorceress scoffed.

I nodded. “She’s right. You are the resident troublemaker.” I held up a hand to prevent the elf’s outburst. “But you are right, too. Perhaps everyone needs to account for their whereabouts during these incidents.”

“Exactly when did they occur?” Cleric blushed and ducked her head. “I know you told us, but could you go over it again, so we can all get it straight in our minds?”Being watched

“Let me think.” I furrowed my brow. “The first incident, the feeling that someone was watching me, and the appearance of eyes in the bedroom, was the first week of January, just the day after you left on your illusory trip.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/01/05/7507/

EyesI raked my hand through my hair. “It was the following week when I saw eyes staring at me from my computer monitor.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/the-eyes-of-the-something-are-upon-me/

Eyes watching from the door

I started pacing as I tried to remember the events. “It had to be another week before Miles and I both saw the eyes on the French doors.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/01/19/eyell-be-seeing-you/

The walls were watchingGriff protects usI frowned. “And the last incident, which occurred in the back room of the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store, was just a week after that. Crawford and Griff were there, and they saw those eyes. So did Christine and Talia.”

More eyes

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/01/26/the-eyes-have-it/ https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/02/02/eye-eye-eye/

“Could any of them be behind these incidents?” My Arrogant One seemed eager to shift the blame to someone else.

“I don’t think it could be Christine or Talia, not only because the last incident occurred in their store, but because they looked genuinely surprised and shook up. And as for the other two, I do not believe Crawford has any magic ability, and Griff would have no reason.” I looked at my characters. “So, that brings us back to all of you. Can everyone account for their whereabouts at those times?”

My Gypsy shrugged. “We were all together, from the time we left on our illusory trip to the time we returned.”

Cleric and Bounty HunterCleric cleared her throat and fidgeted with her cord belt. “Not all of us.” She pointed at my Bounty Hunter and gave him an apologetic look. “There were a number of times during the trip when he went missing. I do not think, however, those times coincide with the incidents in question.”

I confronted my Bounty Hunter. “Well? Would you care to offer an explanation?”

“I do not believe I need . . . what do you call it? An alibi?” He shrugged and studied his fingernails some more. When I did not reply, he looked up and smirked. “In case the obvious escapes you, I have no magic ability. I could not be behind the appearance of the eyes.”

“But with some help?” I gestured toward my Arrogant One.

arrogant one“I did not do this!” The elf turned scarlet. “I am tired of everyone accusing me of every calamity, every disaster, every debacle, every mischief, every mishap that occurs!”

“Wale, elfie, it usually be ye wat been doin’ it!” My Old Dwarf chuckled.

Do not call me elfie!” My Arrogant One shrieked in his glass-shattering tone.

“All right, all right. We’re not accomplishing anything this way.” I raked my hand through my hair again and scowled. “Okay, if it was not Marisol, Christine, Talia, Crawford, Griff, or any of you, then who was it, and how did they get past the spell of protection? How did they cast a spell in this house?”

treeDragon half-closed her eyes and smoke drifted from her nostrils. “Crawford said we were barking up the wrong tree.” She furrowed her brow as if in deep concentration. “That phrase . . . barking up the wrong tree . . . it tickles some memory roaming through my congested and labyrinthine mind. If I could just coax it out, perchance we could identify the culprit.”

Do any of you readers know who might be behind the spying eyes? If so, we would really appreciate your help in solving this mystery! Be sure to leave us your thoughts, observations, and comments, and come back again next week. Maybe we will be confronting the culprit! In any case, we’ll leave the porch light on for you.