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Deal 1018: Strung Imaginings

I have a piece of string and an imagination.

The string could be used to sketch many things. The light color stands out on this black cloth, and easily forms words and figures. Their clarity depends on my artistic skill, of course, as much or more than imagination. Skill or not, string is forgiving. I can lay it down as a rabbit, and then as a carrot, and with a little practice and better vision, a rabbit again that we all agree is probably representative of a rabbit.

But a carrot is easier. And before griping about the color, there are heirloom carrots that are nearly as dark as this black cloth, or nearly as white as this string. And of course there are always parsnips, which I personally like more than carrots.

In fact, I will bravely state that there is little better in the root vegetable space than a pile of buttered roasted parsnips and carrots. Add a little salt and freshly cracked pepper, and you have a thing of beauty that is unsurpassed.

Of course, parsnips are completely out of fashion, and as a result are often only found in the sort of market that you have to save up for before you risk opening their doors.

Out of fashion or not, the parsnip stands the test of time. So this figure is a parsnip, and it is proud.

Imagine if you will the noble root standing proud in the soil, broad leafy greens standing up in the sun, driving sugars into the root as it sinks deeply into the soil, seeking water and other nourishment.

Close your eyes, and paint that picture on the inside of your eyelids. You can feel the coarse soil. You can smell it as you break the root free. You can vividly remember the first time you pulled a root from the soil. So vividly that you wish that root was here in your hands, to wash, peel, roast and eat.

That would be something, of course. But there are always obstacles. Tangles in the memories. Scent is an especially powerful window into your past. You imagined a vivid memory and could almost smell it. Close your eyes again, and do the same with a different memory. Some of you might imagine your first kitten. You can hear it’s plaintive “mew” as chases a string. You can smell its fur. It is that vivid.

Others might have chased frogs into a swamp and can remember the sounds of the birds crying out warnings, the feeling of nearly losing that new boot in unexpectedly calf-deep muck, the smells of the standing water and the swamp plants, the splash that a frog makes as it escapes your grasp, the larger splash that you made when you over-committed to catching the frog. I’ve been in swamps where absent a near perfect sense of direction your best hope for being home for dinner would be to unwind a ball of string behind you.

So from our tangled paths and memories, we come full circle. We have a circle of white string. And with a little imagination it can become anything at all.

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Deal 999: Lifted

The dirty rat just stood there and stared. At first, we worried that we had bitten off more than we could chew, but as we circled him and stared, we began to envy his cool demeanor. He didn’t flinch. Nor did he seem easily distracted. Not that that prevented the lightest fingered among us from relieving him of his wallet, watch, and gun.

Gun. Now that was a surprise. Someone carrying a concealed handgun and seemingly unaware that a pack of feral kids might be willing to risk lifting it. Clearly it wasn’t serving the only role he was putting it to: protection. Clearly it deserved a more careful owner too. We are happy to provide that service. For a time, at least.

At some new point in time his hand-axe was going to get too hot to handle, and would need to be artfully transformed into a weapon with an entirely different serial number. For the gun, a rebirth of sorts. And for our gang, a chance at survival for another day.

At least.

We ought to be able to live on the take from lifting that gun for a few weeks.

And the tale will be worth a few beers after that.

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Deal 995: Eye Knows All

It always begins with a fount of knowledge. The all-seeing eye that watches and records, and the leak from it back into the mortal world.

Leaks always seem like a good idea at the time.

Some over-confident blowhard is brought down by a well-timed leak. The gods are keeping useful things like “fire” to themselves, but a gutsy mortal, acting on a leak, can steal it.

But all too often, the result of a leak is more scandal, and punishment of the source.

That is partially why Sisyphus is still pushing that boulder, after all.

And even though he has since learned to apply tools to his problem and shave years off his sentence, math tells us that his sentence is still forever. He’s also learned that magic such as levitation is considered cheating, and didn’t earn him any goodwill. Cheating was the larger part of why he was condemned to that boulder in the first place.

In fact, his only way out is to simply endure it, serve his time, and hope that he is laboring in a side timeline that will be looped back into the normal frame of things so that after his infinite service, he returns humbled and can redeem his good name.

They won’t believe the tale he’ll tell, of course.

But the eye will see and they will know.

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Deal 944: Meta-Dreamlands

“As my fingers closed on the handle, I heard the typewriter loudly, and the scene dissolved.”

That was the last line that appeared on the teleprinter before it went silent. That was several days ago, and it hasn’t made a sound since. Until the recent spurt of activity, the printer had been idle for some time. So I’ve asked the rats to keep an ear open, and let me know when it starts back up.

The rats agreed even though they spend most of their time somewhere between my menagerie and Michel’s flat upstairs.

One thing was clear, the old mystery object game had started up again. A previous account of it once became popular literature telling of a little girl’s adventures when she followed a rabbit down his hole. This encounter was eerily similar to one of her scenes.

I’m reasonably sure that the narrator in that scene wasn’t one of our immediate circle, as we are all accounted for. Michel is off here and there but mostly here. And the rats or Otis would let me know if he was involved in anything more dangerous than an occasional bottle of liquor in any case. I know it isn’t me, my menagerie is all present and well, and then there’s Tina. But if Tina were involved, it would be a trap of her creation.

I should just file the transcript until she next drops in for a visit. But there’s something about the shape of the tale that draws my attention.

I try a little elementary divination, seeking to locate the object of power in the tale. I feel some hints, but I don’t have the strength to summon it rapidly, or the endurance to get it by any of the available slow ways. It feels real enough, but it isn’t entirely clear what power it would deliver to its holder, aside from a way to cut the stuff of dreams.

Which leads to a different avenue to consider. Tina won’t admit her standing, but we all know who she was. She’s also not the only one of her kind to continue to poke and prod at mortal lives. Morpheus is around somewhere, probably working as an anesthesiologist as deep sleep is his speciality. His brother Phantasos has a much more direct tie to dreams of the weird or prophetic, and likely is around somewhere too. Directly entrapping a hero is not really either of their styles, but they might have a clue about what this powerful object is, and if it is dangerous to our present day.

I can’t just pick up the phone and call either of them without some help.

As much as the nature of the object worries me, I’m just going to have to let it be for now.