Friday, 19 January 2018

Slush, salt and puddle jumping

Yesterday’s walk to fetch the daily paper. But later the sun came out and to have colour after days of grey was a bonus. And yet, this week I found myself most appreciative of the different brands of horror so many of you deliver on a regular basis.

Patricia deserves a mention twice over: one for the telling of the fascinating  real-life background to ‘Divisible by One’ and another for Heteropaternal Superfecundation – whose ‘I won't bore you with the details.  ending deserved a slapped wrist.

And though I do try to name but a single winner, this week the honours have to be shared between Jim E Deegan (appearing as Anonymous) for his untitled piece and Jerry for ‘I See Red’

Words for next week:  collapse sauce tumbrel
Apologies - a last minute change of mind (from 'tendril') and I forgot to check the spelling

Entries by midnight Thursday  25th January winners and words posted Friday 26th


Usual rules: 100 words maximum (excluding title) of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir. Serialised fiction is, as always, welcome. All variants and use of the words and stems are fine. Feel free to post links to your stories on Twitter or Facebook or whichever social media you prefer.

85 comments:

  1. Congrats to both winners! Superb writing, which is one reason my stand alones have been missing lately, can't compete!
    For the peace of mind of Sandra and Patricia, what Leonardo meant was, he would be leaving me last night so I could work on with the 'last gunslinger in the west' - JFK who, after a hiatus (?) of some two years, is back to finish his book. At least, I hope he is. I know brother Robert is around so someone's pushing Jack to get on with it. I need to finish something, so why not one of the most famous names in recent history? This book is not about his career, it's about his feelings through his life. Some of it is very revealing. We just got past the Cuban crisis. So, no worries, Leo will be back next week, it's just that this week the shenanigans in parliament have enraged him so much he would be spilling vitriol.

    Again for our new members, I regularly walk and talk with the rich and famous from our past, it's my life's work to write their books for them, putting the record straight in many instances. Like my Cro-Magnon book which throws much of the archaeologists' nonsense clean out of the cave.

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  2. Provincial Woes

    The trumbiller swatted at non-existent flies as he quaffed ale. The smith talked vociferously with the miller about the saucy affair the cooper was conducting with Dame Lesterfield. The Duke, it seemed, didn’t care, but then, he had the shoemaker’s daughter to warm his bed.

    The barkeep filled their mugs and kept tally with bits of stone. The masons barged in and all went silent, except the snores of the hangman who’d collapsed on his stool. It was apparent the masons, both free and indentured, were conducting secret meetings. Once again, the integrity of the savior was in jeopardy.

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    1. DAN COMMENTED AS FOLLOWS BUT BLOGGER MUST HAVE 'LOST IT' -
      "A good title for a great story. A world of interactions opened up in only 100 words. Each sentence a little vignette. Nice work, John. Awesome.

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    2. Beautiful use of language, John. Every sentence creates a clear, vivid picture. Nicely done!

      J.E. Deegan

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    3. it's a setting out of an outline for a much bigger work, John, go for it.

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    4. Put me in mind of a Brueghel painting - so colourful and full of individual action.

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    5. This was a magnificent character study. I immediately thought of "The Canterbury Tales," even though I've never actually read it. I think it was the reference to the different occupations that sent me down that path. Loved the image of a hangman snoring while perched upon his stool. Great use of the prompts.

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    6. It felt just like a painting, as Sandra mentioned, with every character rich and intriguing.

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  3. Many congratulations to Jim and Jerry (sounds like a pop duo or ice cream makers) for exceptional treats last week. I think, on a personal level, I'm going to have some trouble in the incorporation of "tumbril" relating to my offerings....but we'll see what transpires. And to Antonia, a huge sigh of relief that the Mad Italian has not yet deserted us.

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  4. The Collapse of the Automatocracy

    The tumbril had been constructed from the rusted chassis of an old Ford transit. It was being hauled by a rider on a reconditioned Harley.
    “How many in the back?” asked the blind woman as it trundled past.
    “Four,” said her husband. “Pretty bashed up by the looks.”
    “Machine heads will roll,” she cackled. “Lots of sauce on the cobbles. I love the smell of spilt oil and coolant.”
    Her husband sighed.
    “Who’d have thunk we’d live to see the collapse of the automatocracy?”
    The blind woman sniffed.
    “You’ll see it. I’ll just smell it.”

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    1. I like this. The characterization is rich and we'll written here. I can picture these people.

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    2. I can see the reconditioned Harley pulling the makeshift people hauler. Kind of a steampunk setting. Very enjoyable.

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    3. A marvelously original approach, David! Well done!

      J.E. Deegan

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    4. a different look to an old story, death and destruction, good one!

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    5. What an original and interesting use of tumbrel - excellent.

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    6. I totally agree with John regarding the steampunk flavour of this piece. It was so inventive. Great use of descriptions via the husband to the blind wife. It's so easy to get bogged down in the customary use of descriptive offerings...not so in this case.

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    7. You've presented a unique world here, and I can practically smell the oil along with the blind woman. I loved the imagery of the tumbrel.

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  5. Café Tricoteuse

    When she could afford it, Grace had dinner at the Café Tricoteuse. The themed restaurant was charming with serviettes stacked in miniature tumbrils and candle holders in the form of tiny guillotines. Even the salt and pepper shakers wore the Phrygian cap.

    Grace preferred a secluded table-for-one where she could enjoy the house specialty -- sea bass with a chive velouté sauce -- and work on her dissertation entitled "Collapse Of The Ancien Régime", while picking the brains of the preserved aristocratic decapitations which lined the shelves along the back wall.

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    1. I wonder at Grace's preference to pick the brains of the preserved decapitations. This is some cafe. The name of the cafe is brilliant. I'm glad I looked it up. I'm always amazed by your wording.

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    2. Your grand description of the restaurant, Patricia, makes me want to visit it. Good work!

      J.E. Deegan

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    3. this is clever, in every way, as well as having that slight chill that comes with the overtones of horror.

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    4. And yet another soaringly imaginative take on the prompt words.

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    5. A clever and gripping setting in which to get some writing done as the character. I'm both fascinated and a little horrified by the decapitations lining the shelves. Brilliant.

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  6. From the kitchen doorway [Threshold 194]

    A rumbling which, since it put me in mind of tumbril wheels bumping over cobblestones (doubtless due to my reading about Joan of Arc last night, one of several hundred books tumbled to the floor in the library thanks to the collapse of an overloaded shelf), threatened my sense of well-being.
    I sought its origin, my inability to remember the components of what exactly I had heard not helping its identification then a sudden chill alerted me to the disappearance of the sun; an inky sauce of dark blue cloud spreading over brightness.
    Behind me, Raven shouted, urgent and incoherent.

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    1. The setting here is very well done. The disappearance of the sun certainly contributes nicely to the sense of urgency that is popping up rather quickly. This may very well be the end of these too... unless

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    2. "...an inky sauce of dark blue cloud..." Marvelous image, Sandra!

      J.E. Deegan

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    3. good descriptions and a very good continuation of the story.

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    4. This comes across to me as a very ominous installment, triggered no doubt by the excellent description of the sun's disappearance and the absolutely wonderful: "inky sauce of dark blue cloud." That could easily be part of the opening line of a classic poem. As always, this serial intrigues and fascinates.

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    5. I loved the description of the sun's disappearance - 'an inky sauce of dark blue cloud spreading over brightness'.

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  7. So, the word is either "tumbrel" or "tumbril"? I understand they're simply different spellings for the same word, which means the tale I've submitted thus far is still good?

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    1. I'm assuming so (certainly allowing!!) - I was surprised to find it not in my OED at all.

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  8. In Death..
    Jerry Gaither

    The tumbrel bumped over uneven ground, carrying the reluctant passengers to the guillotine. One of them, a young girl of seventeen, seemed unaffected. While others sentenced to death by beheading would've collapsed, she remained silent.

    Even during their last meal, some chunk of meat in a questionable sauce, she ate heartily. The others resented her. In the cart, they kept their distance from her as best as they could. Something was not right about her.

    As they crested the hill, the sun reflected off the waiting blade. Fear swept through them but not her. They noticed she was smiling.

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    1. Very intriguing. Either the girl has a death wish or she (or someone) has something planned.

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    2. It indeed seems this young girl, or some allies, has something up her sleeve.

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    3. open ended, we can spend time thinking about this one, there are so many reasons she would smile... great!

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    4. Yes, this leaves the story in the reader's mind, to ponder on.

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    5. Love the enigmatic feel to this little tale. Why is the young girl so unaffected? And why was she smiling on the way...at the risk of sounding melodramatic...to her doom? The stoic demeanour reminded me of the stories I've read regarding those incredibly young freedom fighters who faced death so bravely during World War II and refused to compromise their beliefs even though the outcome was inevitbable.

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    6. The girl instantly fascinated me with her actions in contrast to the others in the cart. I found myself asking the same questions as Patricia, and wondered if perhaps the girl knows something the others don't? I loved the imagery of the line 'As they crested the hill, the sun reflected off the waiting blade.'

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  9. Change of focus [265]

    With a peal of laughter cruel as a sauce concocted from the sap of bitter aloes she collapsed back onto the pillows. ‘Oh John, if you could see your face! Is incest, in your world, so frowned upon you fear being carted naked to your death?’
    Recognising a shallowness of character not apparent in the dark, John Pettinger’s smile combined pity with a sour amusement.
    ‘You see me being tipped from a tumbrel? Is that it? Rest assured I’ve sinned enough in that direction not to fear.
    ‘But have your sins been filmed before? Streamed live to your superiors?’
    ‘...Possibly.’

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    1. Without filming people's sins, there'd be very few interesting movies to choose from. This movie, though, would be quite the thriller.

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    2. agree with John 100% on this one!

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    3. Oh that Pettinger!!! The more we find out about him, the more we realize what a rascal he is. One of those rogues that we can't help but like. Well, I can't anyway. I always look forward to finding out what Pettinger will get up to next.

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    4. Pettinger continues to be absolutely fascinating. Loved the imagery of that first line comparing laughter to a bitter sauce. Clever!

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  10. Kursaal (Episode One Hundred Four) - "What Nellie Knows"

    Nellie Hubbard loitered outside the "Scorned Sisterhood" gathering. Like a hook-nosed biddy waiting for the symphony of rolling tumbrils and falling blades, all she needed was a skein of wool and pair of knitting needles to complete the picture. Not one of Arby's women -- "More's the pity!" -- she didn't participate in the castigation.

    Nellie watched the shadowy figure hurry away after delivering the pointed barb at the assembly. She knew the identity immediately. She chortled. She cackled. She held her ribcage for fear it would collapse from such violent merriment.

    "What's sauce for the goose..." she wheezed.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale, please visit:
    http://www.novareinna.com/kursaal.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    NOTE: Nellie Hubbard, proprietress of "Playpen" (the park's temporary creche for toddlers), has featured in previous episodes.



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    1. as usual, there's a lot going on here, hinted at through the limited words. Nellie is one potent character.

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    2. I'd forgotten Nellie but am impressed with the setting of the scene. And her resourcefulness.

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    3. Loved the phrase 'She held her ribcage for fear it would collapse from such violent merriment', and the description of the 'scorned sisterhood' gathering through Nellie's eyes.

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    1. I believe this story to be fictional because I had an uncle on my father's side who would've sent me a "Wish You Were Here" postcard if he could've. This story is very clever and really enjoyable. I particularly liked the opening line, the middle and the closing line. I did wonder about a helter skelter as a mode of transportaion... likely a state-of-mind thing.

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  12. The Hand J.E. Deegan

    I awoke groggily, my head a severely abused wrecking ball. Got to lay off the sauce, I chided myself yet again. Through blurred eyes I found myself behind a wooden cart – a tumbril to some. What the – fell from my mouth when I saw the bloody heads, feet and hands piled in the cart like ingredients in a zombie stew.

    Fingers twitched; a hand in the grotesque pile moved then launched itself to become a vice around my neck. Choking uncontrollably, I collapsed.

    I awoke gasping for breath. My right hand flew to my throat.

    A hand was already there.

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    1. Nice horror writing. What a concept of the hand launching itself from a pile of body parts. Nicely done.

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    2. Gripping indeed!! [sorry - could not resist]. Great opening sentence.

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    3. And if that isn't a perfect example of true horror, then I don't know what is! How terrifying to wake up from a nightmare only to find you're smack in the middle of a real one. This is very pictorial and with a little added content would make for a great "Twilight Zone" type episode.

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    4. Patricia said it well with having a nightmare only to wake up still inside one!

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  13. It's The Thought That Counts

    Izzy sold souvenirs outside the Gates of Hell. It was the last chance to purchase personal items and maybe something for delivery to a loved one (or otherwise). She also enumerated differing modes of transportation available for the final descent, from traditional ferryboats to freeeeeee-fall elevators to authentic tumbrils...and everything inbetween.

    Merchandise selection, though limited, was fitting. Among the most popular were giant buttons with the saucy proclamation of "I'm A Little Devil" and colllapsible toasting forks guaranteed to be fireproof.

    But Izzy's best-seller was a panoramic postcard of the Infernal Pit itself that declared:
    "Wish You Were Here."

    (Revised version 'cos I wasn't happy with the original...)

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    1. more clever writing - the whole idea of someone selling souvenirs outside the Gates of Hell has amused me so much!

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    2. Whatever you are on this week, Patricia, I'd like some of it. The giant buttons really tickled me,

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    3. Patricia, my comment to this ended up somewhere else. Scroll up if you don't mind.

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    4. No worries, John. Your comment above was actually in response to the initial version of this tale, which I later deleted in favour of this second version. So, my bad...not yours!!! :)

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    5. Clever, hilarious and unique. Loved the modes of transport, as well as the popular gifts. Brilliant!

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  14. The Mad Italian 39.
    It was flattering to see you were afraid I would not be here with my comments. I am planning a goodly number of contributions in the future; I believe it adds sauce to the daily round this channel lives. I see one particular party is on the verge of collapse, the rumbling of the wheels of the tumbrel can be clearly heard above the chattering accusing voices. There is foolishness abounding in your social media. It is true that sometimes something has to be disbanded for something better to take its place. In this instance that would not be difficult…

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    1. When you hear the rumbling wheels of the tumbrel, does that mean heads are about to roll? The Italian is confident and charming today. Can't get enough of him.

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    2. As Sandra observed, this was incredibly sharp. I'm glad the Mad Italian plans on a "goodly number of contributions in the future." I think there may be interesting times ahead and who better to give us such valuable insight?

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    3. Definitely a promise of something to come with 'the rumbling of the wheels of the tumbrel can be clearly heard'.

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  15. Deception.
    Mules towing tumbrels stuffed with robots rattled through the streets. Sauce was thrown, birds squandered airborne safety to scavenge. Local cats , ever keen to take advantage, stalked the feathered creatures. Dogs, ever resorting to type, began the inevitable chase.
    The Mayor watched the procession with increasing impatience. ‘No respect,’ he muttered. ‘These are supposed to be people –‘
    ‘Quiet, sir,’ his aide tried to stop the outburst. No one was supposed to know this was nothing more than a fun afternoon in the sun. The real procession would take place at midnight… when the sauce would be blood.

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    1. Oh, lord, I should have been better prepared for that!

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    2. Count me in for the midnight show! Nice piece of writing.

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    3. Ooh, this is good. Loved how the aide had to shush the major from spilling the beans. I also liked how the first paragraph proceeded like a morbid house that Jack built.

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    4. Chilling and spine-tingling. Wonderful descriptions that puts the reader right in the middle of the action from the get-go. Your stand-alone talents have returned with a vengeance.

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    5. I also loved the interaction between the aide and the mayor, and that final line was chilling!

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  16. Cripplegate Junction/Part 129 - Smoke And Mirrors

    After he'd collapsed into the hibiscus border of the Sanitarium garden, Hamnet, delivery boy for Elsie's Dairy, floundered in a dazed state where commonplace became peculiar.

    His trolley converted to a trundling tumbril on its way to.... He didn't ponder where! Two young ladies playing a board game on the lawn transformed into giant chess pieces. White Queen. Red Queen. And a blurred image of the Crossing Canteen waitress demanded milk to make caramel sauce for her gingerbread cake.

    When Hamnet regained his senses, a congenial cat was nudging him with an inquiring nose and regarding him with unbridled amusement.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale please visit:
    http://www.novareinna.com/cripplegate.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    1. I've always had a soft spot for Hammet ... and now a shopping trolley conversion!

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    2. That first sentence was amazing... how do you think of these things. Very nice writing with whimsical aspects that I really enjoyed.

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    3. Beautiful writing, Sandra...delightfully pulls the reader along!

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    4. I agree with John - that first sentence is excellent! Your scenes are always so clever and vibrant. I always feel like I can actually see them taking place before me.

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  17. A Tithe in Flesh

    Someone is groaning pitifully. I try pursing my lips to shush them, but I can’t feel my mouth. Well, shit. I am sauced, again.

    I force open an eyelid, and the moan cuts off, as the sun drives a fiery spike down into my brain. Hissing, I shut my eye.

    I remember collapsing on the way to the temple. I remember laughter. I remember rough hands lifting and pushing me onto the tumbrel. I remember prayers and…screaming. I…remember…

    I try to wiggle my toes, but feel nothing. I cannot feel my hands.

    The gods have taken their tithe.

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    1. I'm glad I'm reading this way before it's my bedtime. It's the suggestions and insinuations that make this tale so intriguing. We are left to our own devices to figure out exactly what and will happen. Absolutely delicious stuff!!! But then, to be honest, I have come to expect no less from your talented plume.

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    2. Ooh ... as ever you have landed me in the midst of something rich and strange and, as ever, I want to know more. That second sentence is amazingly powerful.

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  18. Almost on time!

    The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #113
    The Perks of Flying


    Dear Georgiana,
    I saw the strangest thing the other day: a locomotive pulling a train of tumbrels on flat cars! They seemed to be headed to the Land of Rainbows, though I bet they haven’t heard about the border tunnel that collapsed a week ago. We flew over it two days into this journey. By the way, we’re only a few days out from Cecily’s castle. I hope you didn’t use up all the hot sauce, I want peanut butter hot sauce oatmeal.
    -Rosebud
    P.S. Have you found Cecily’s doll yet?

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    1. Superb, as ever. Especially enchanted by the P.S.

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  19. As ever, this is such a delight and such a charming difference from anything else offered here. I believe I've said it before, but these little tales would truly make an enchanting picture book. Can't believe we're up to 113 installments already.

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    1. I agree with Patricia - this story would indeed make an excellent picture book! There is something so magical about all of Rosebud's adventures.

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