Deal 1308: Ribbit?

Jewel had a lifetime of training behind her. But that never really made what she had to do easier. Each time was as difficult as her first.

By this point she went through the motions without thinking and the results were all she could hope for.

But this one turned orange.

No, orange was not the expected color. Aside from color, it seemed perfectly happy.

But then, who could really tell?


Deal 1293: Cluck?

People wonder about the abandoned house next door. It sits on a vacant lot, overgrown with what may have once been neatly kept landscaping. The house itself is in bad shape, with missing patches of roofing and siding that is more wishful thinking than air or water tight.

Or at least that is how the house appeared for decades.

But it isn’t that way any more.

Neglected by its owners, it sunk into the background on the block, and is generally ignored by all and sundry.

Then we noticed it one day, spruced up and looking livable. But we never saw anyone at work.

The only reasonable explanation is Brownies, but aside from the sort that aspire to sell cookies some day, there is no such thing as Brownies. Or, maybe there is. It certainly can’t be the flock of feral chickens that settled in the yard. Everyone knows that chickens don’t build houses.

But they do live in coops. And what is a house other than a really nice coop?

Simply coincidence that the chickens moved in, and six months later the yard is neatly kept, the paint is fresh, the roof is repaired, and the house is on the market.

At an asking price that is chicken feed.


Deal 1286: Walks

We took the same walk every day. Down the hill to the lake, past the cemetery, through the woods, back past the school yard, and finally down the hill back to the house. Rain or shine, we walked.

Over the years, we saw changes around us. The school was the first to show it. Broken windows. Graffiti. Weeds in the yard. Clear signs of gangs. And even a few patches of illicit plants.

The woods and lake too showed changes, as the community stopped valuing their presence. We used to try to pick up the rare pieces of litter we encountered. But the litter became so commonplace that we would have needed to carry a large back on every walk.

The cemetery too showed signs, beginning with weeds but including vandalized graves and mausoleums.

That was when the trouble really began in earnest.

That cemetery was more important than most, and those who knew its secrets had neglected to pass them down and ensure that certain graves were never disturbed.

The people we encountered on our daily walk began to look haggard and afraid. The stories of strange things wandering at night began to be common, and to carry added twists from personal witnesses rather than the usual friend of a friend heard a rumor sorts of tales.

Then we saw him ourselves.

I don’t think he saw us, and we followed. He was clearly searching for someone, a long past love most likely. He didn’t seem to know that he was dead, or that centuries had passed him by while he was locked in the broken mausoleum. He searched the town, seemingly puzzled by the changes brought by time. Then he searched the cemetery.

We were there when he found her grave.

He turned at that moment from a sad walker on a mission into a monster. He ransacked the cemetery and tore into the town. He terrorized those he encountered. He picked on one particular property, and went door to door demanding to know why nothing was done. He was inconsolable, and refused to believe that she had lived a long and quiet life after his capture and internment.

If anything, stories of her place in the community all those years ago made him even more angry.

She had moved on, married another, and had a daughter.

That sank in, he tried to find the daughter. But she too was long since dead and buried.

But that provided the distraction needed to solve our problem. We used his irrational quest against him, and lured him back into his mausoleum. The repaired tomb closed easily, and the seals were restored behind him.

Since that day, we include his tomb in our daily walk. At first, we could hear him pounding on the door. But as the years wore on, he returned to the uneasy sleep of the not completely dead.


Deal 1277: Symbolic

The first thing you notice is the overwhelming amount of purple around you. The rugs are patterned from several shades of purple. The walls are painted a light lilac. Every piece of furniture has elements that are colored purple. That makes the use of strong contrasting colors pop with a hint of surprise.

The second thing you notice is the background music. Held at a level that is just barely louder than subliminal, you can almost identify it, then it changes and you realize it got you again.

Stuck in this space, the bowl of perfectly ripe oranges looks out of place. On closer inspection, each of the oranges is tied down to the bowl and to its neighbors by a cobweb. The spider is nowhere to be seen, but the bowl tells a tale of casual neglect.

A tale that is reinforced by the pile of broken technology in the corner. Some of that almost looks rusty, as if it had been rained upon.