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Deal 1048: Glimpses

spiked all over
hardly any safe approach
unless it’s pumpkin

Facing down the wild porcupine on the patio naturally fell to me, and swiftly became an ad-hoc training exercise. Something unpleasant to do? Let Sydney do it — its probably good for him anyway.

This would have been a lot harder to do if I hadn’t remembered seeing once that they are suckers for ripe squash.

After that, it was nearly docile enough to pick up. But even I’m not quite that stupid. I led it away down a garden path, then to the edge, and beyond with scraps of squash.

calm and collected
washing all the window glass
without any ropes

More exercises!

I guess Gwen had always wanted to wash the upper windows, but never got around to it. Having a student provided the opportunity.

And yet, there was precious little in the way of safety equipment available. I was expected to be graceful, coordinated, balanced, and not miss a pane. Or perhaps, use this as incentive to learn how to access my powers.

rampage and conquer
even strings can’t stop me now
the world will be mine

We agreed not to discuss my one attempt at self-animated puppetry.

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Deal 1029: Trapped in a loop

No matter how far he walked, Sydney did not seem to be getting closer to the distant town. As the road wandered around hills and small woodlots he lost sight of it, but always recovered it eventually. But it was no closer.

This went on for at least nine hours before he also noticed that the sun was still in the same place in the sky. It was as if time was not passing outside of the road he was on.

Then he stubbed his toe on a milestone and realized it was still marked “43”.

Something was definitely strange.

He was on a closed loop of road that was also a closed loop of time. He needed to find the way out.

Since he was at mile “43”, he had a brief snack and a little to drink. Oddly enough, but also handily enough, he still had food to snack on and weak tea to drink.

Beside the road ran a trickle of water, hardly enough to call a creek. The ground was soft and boggy close by, and sitting on a rock in the sun was a large frog. He contemplated the frog, clearly picked out by a sunbeam on a throne-like rock for a bit. Suddenly, he realized why his attention was drawn to the frog. He had to deal with it somehow to break free of his looped path.

“Ribbit”, croaked the frog. But Sydney also heard it saying “It’s about time you noticed me. Sit down. You have a lot to learn.”

By this point, Sydney had given up on his sanity, and was willing to learn from a large sunlit talking frog if that was what it took to get home again.

“The first lesson is that you can’t trust anything I say. Also, trust nothing anyone or anything says. Pretty much, trust no one. Oh, and you might want to take notes. There’s more to tell you, and I don’t want to repeat myself.”

One thing that Syd knew he lacked was a notebook. Or a pen. So he just nodded sheepishly, and listened.

“Have it your way then. Remember, I’m not to be trusted. At all. Except that everything I say was true once. Might still be true. You might even decide to trust me. But don’t. I’m not on your side.”

“The second lesson is that everything is out to get you. There is only you on your side.”

“The third lesson is important. Your goal. Don’t ask why, I’m just the messenger. To get out of this land, you must—”

At that point a giant Raven swooped down from the clear blue sky and snatched the frog, tossing it in the air and eating it as it flew away into the sunset. Perhaps it was the frog that had distorted time and space? Perhaps talking to the frog had been the key to unlock the loop?

He had no real information, but he knew he still needed to find the way out, redemption, revenge, or rebirth. Or perhaps all of those.

Sydney looked around, and saw the fork in the road. There were three paths. One was clearly the loop he had been trapped on. One was very nicely paved and clearly well traveled. The third was barely a cow track.

Sydney took the third path.

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Deal 998: Illusions

The audience quieted (aside from the inevitable heckler) as the curtains opened on a new setting. One thing they were sure of was that something amazing was going to happen. But they saw before them a fairly ordinary set familiar to just about any modern sitcom. The open plan ranch house was mostly represented in photographic drops, but the standard family sized sofa was front and center, complete with an abandoned letter jacket, some sports shoes dropped messily, and a pizza box tossed haphazardly on the coffee table.

But there were not actors to be seen, so they quieted down in anticipation.

Except for the heckler, again.

As the lights came up on this prosaic scene, they noticed that the pizza box was moving. It had started out tossed aside on the table, but turned towards the audience, then canted up a bit and the front row suddenly got nervous. It was looming at them. Then it opened and began to speak. It was using halves of an apple for eyes, and a stale pizza slice as a tongue.

It raised up further as it set out on a bit of classic oratory.

The scene was so outrageous that when discussing it later, people couldn’t agree on what the box had actually said. Everyone was sure it said something, and said it well.

As it spoke, the front row calmed. Not the heckler, though. He got louder, and revealed himself as definitely not the gentleman in the room as he taunted the box mercilessly. The box just turned and stared at him. Eventually he wound down and went silent, and finally sat back down. It was the most professional treatment of a heckler that most had seen.

Finally, some people joined the box on the stage. As they entered, the box seemed to suddenly realize it was an inanimate object, and dropped back down on the coffee table. It didn’t quite remember to pull its tongue back in though.

The couple had a fairly predictable sitcom argument about the mess in the room and junior’s grades. Then the man settled down on the couch, stretched out, and dozed off. That was the wife’s moment to exact her revenge. She pulled out a sheet, tossed it over the man’s legs. He didn’t stir. So she added the pizza box to his belly, then pulled the sheet all the way over him.

He mumbled something inarticulate, but didn’t stir.

Then the whole sheet shifted a little. Then a little more. Then we realized it was lifting up and off the couch.

It raised up to where it’s tails were just dragging on the furniture when the woman suddenly noticed it. She screamed.

The she grabbed at the sheet and just barely caught a corner as it flew up, yanking the sheet away to reveal nothing at all. No lay-about husband. No pizza box. The couch was empty. The sheet was just a sheet.

Finally she balled up the sheet and threw it at the sofa, where it lay still.

Perfectly still.

Everyone held the breath, sure that there was one more twist to come from somewhere.

She stepped back to the couch, picked up the sheet and wrapped it around herself as a cloak, flipping a corner up to hide her hair.

A sudden bright flash and cloud of smoke cleared to reveal the sheet falling to the stage and the woman gone completely.

Then the lights went out.

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Deal 992: The Baron Accepts

Those days in the swamp are behind me now. Years, really.

Call me reformed.

It was a diversion, after several long boring lifetimes, to hang around in the swamps and answer the call when The Baron was needed.

I might have been the real Baron, I don’t really know any more. That was a long time ago, after all, and a long life (of sorts) doesn’t necessarily provide an equally long memory. There are others who may know more than I.

Real or not, it hardly matters. If not I, then the real Baron wasn’t paying enough attention. So I accepted his offerings, answered the occasional prayer as I imagine he would. And most of all, I demonstrated that if you live long enough, eventually even an alligator won’t eat you.

The Raven brought me news. The Owl has been sighted too.

It came to be that my days in the swamp were numbered. And I was ready.

I’ve slipped on the clothes of a new identity, and wandered far away from where I’ve been sighted often.

And I’ve taken to writing a few things down. After all, my memory is clearly not infinite. Even if I cannot remember any longer who I was first. It hardly matters who was on first. He was well before the Baron, and I’m well shut of him now.

Even if an alligator can’t kill me, it isn’t very convenient to run around short a foot or two while the alligator realizes his mistake.

So here I am today, making my way from the deep swamps into the modern city.

I don’t remember a city being here, either. There must have been a fur trading post, I think I remember that much. When was that? When is it now?

Just how did so many years go by while I was in the swamp?

The Raven tells me (not that I fully trust him, of course, but he was right about needing to find the city) that I need to find my way aboard one of those metal birds, and make my way to the west. Going faster than a bird can fly.

I guess it is time I joined our inevitable fray.