Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 9

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

Bethany stared after Bryony and Mr Eyre as they were marched away by the strange-looking soldiers in their indigo field dress, their fierce-looking weapons making her fear for her sister and tutor’s treatment at their hands. ‘Where are they taking them, Greta?’

‘Those are the Owl-King’s soldiers, they patrol his Kingdom making sure everyone obeys the laws and rounding up Other-Worlders, they’ll be taking them beyond the Great Divide to the Owl-King’s Palace,’ Greta glanced through the window to where Hans was returning from speaking to Captain Stinger, she sighed heavily and continued in a hollow voice, ‘no-one who has been taken there has ever been seen again.’

Hans stomped through the doorway, taking one last look down the now empty path which led across the forest, ‘I managed to satisfy Captain Stinger’s suspicions, for the time being at least,’ he raised his eyebrows in Greta’s direction, ‘but what we do now…’ his gaze rested on Bethany, his forehead furrowing.

A moment later, a tiny oval-shaped face with pointed ears and piercing blue eyes appeared at the window; Greta flung it open: ‘whatever is it, Lobelia?’

Lobelia’s wings fluttered anxiously, ‘it’s the Shoemaker’s wife, she’s been arrested for Word Singing!’

/….to be continued.


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things ChallengeHOLLOW, SATISFY, FIELD
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: TREATMENT

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and now they’ve got their wish!

More #SixSentenceStories here!

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 8

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

‘What happened to the bracelet, Mr Eyre, I thought it was in one of your pockets?’ Bryony whispered as they were marched away; Mr Eyre winked and whispered back, ‘like any good conjurer, I’ve hidden it up my sleeve.’

‘No talking!’ ordered Captain Stinger; Mr Eyre smiled disarmingly at their captor, ‘I beg your pardon, but my young companion and I were just wondering on what charge you might be holding us?’

‘You have been found in blatant contravention of the Owl-King’s Special Directive on the Unauthorised Possession of the Written Word,’ Captain Stinger prodded Bryony’s shoulder with the blunt end of his segmented stinger.

Mr Eyre and Bryony exchanged a puzzled glance, ‘and where might we be going?’ asked Mr Eyre mildly, seemingly unfazed at being found in breach of such a nonsensical law; the Captain glared back at him, ‘not only that, you are clearly Other-Worlders and not to be trusted, we are therefore taking you to a special secret location.

They tramped on until they came to a rough-hewn wooden bridge leading over a narrow ravine, where the Captain announced: ‘prepare to cross the Divide of the Owl-King!

Heavy hoods were slipped over the prisoners’ heads.

/….to be continued.


NOTE!
If I’ve dropped a like on your response to either of the challenges but not left a comment, please check your spam. For some reason, many of my comments have been swept away there by Askimet this week.

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – SECRET, SEE, SEGMENT
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – VIDEO

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and it looks like they’ve got their wish!

Read more #SixSentenceStories here!

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 7

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

Bethany followed Hans and Greta, who scurried off through the woods, their short legs scuffing up the leaf litter in fountains of foliage. Their house, which Bethany had almost expected to be made of gingerbread, such was the similarity of the pair to the almost-namesakes of her daydreams, soon came into view.

Greta ushered Bethany inside, while Hans pulled the front door closed behind them, leaning back against it with an obvious sigh of relief, ‘you don’t think anyone saw us do you, sister?’ he said anxiously, glancing at Bethany, ‘if Captain Stinger and his patrol…’

‘Hush, brother,’ interrupted Greta; she turned to Bethany, ‘please sit down, my dear, while we decide what’s best to do next,’ she gave Hans a sideways glance, ‘rest assured we will not be handing you over to anyone.’

Hans, alerted by the sound of marching feet, rushed outside to greet the approaching patrol, allaying any suspicions with much bowing and scraping, while beyond the patrol’s line of sight, Greta and Bethany peered from the kitchen window: ‘I pity anyone who falls into the clutches of the Owl-King,’ whispered Greta, noticing the two prisoners.

Bethany gasped: ‘those two prisoners are my sister and our tutor!’

/….on to episode 8


Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – LITTER, PITY, DREAMS
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – FOUNTAIN

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and it looks like they’ve got their wish!

More stories here!

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 6

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

Although their previous dalliance with other-worldly travel had led to a certain equanimity in how to handle unfamiliar situations, nothing had quite prepared Bryony and Mr Eyre with the sight which confronted them now.

They were surrounded by a small group of black-bearded fellows, dressed in indigo army fatigues and wielding weapons reminding Mr Eyre of the stingers found on wasps and other vespids; the overall effect would have been rather intimidating but for their small stature and the incredibly large pointy ears poking out from beneath their caps.

‘Other-Worlders!’ exclaimed one who, from the elaborate insignia adorning his cap, must be the captain; he craned his neck in an attempt to look Mr Eyre in the eye, ‘ready your weapons, men,’ his eyes switched back and forth between his prisoners, ‘these could be tricky customers.’

Six stingers began to buzz; the captain pointed first at Bryony and then Mr Eyre, ‘Turn out your pockets!’

Mr Eyre offered Bryony a reassuring nod before emptying the pockets of his tweed jacket of everything from bus tickets to bits of string; Bryony pulled her notebook from her pinafore pocket and held it out.

 ‘Word-Peddler, eh?’ said the captain with a sinister smirk.

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – DALIANCE, BUZZ, CRANE
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – HANDLE

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and it looks like they’ve got their wish!

More #SixSentenceStories here – don’t be shy, add one of your own!

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 5

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

Bethany stared at the green-clad brother and sister who had turned away and retreated a few steps to confer in private, she strained her ears but her grasp of their conversation was limited to what she took to be oaths and exclamations; whatever could be the matter?

She surveyed her surroundings, as she retrieved the memory of her previous encounter with an ‘other world’; by whatever method she had been transported to this unfamiliar place, it was important to commit the exact location of entry to memory in order to find the way back.

Their discussion over, the green-clad man marched back to Bethany and stared up at her, ‘Greta and I have decided, we have to hand you over to the Owl-King, we don’t want to, but…’ he paused and took a breath, screwing up his eyes, ‘it’s the Rules.’

Greta hurried over to join them; taking her brother’s arm, she whispered, ‘Hans, there’s no need to frighten her,’ she stared around with anxious eyes. ‘Anyway, we haven’t decided; we’ll go back to the house and then we’ll decide.’

Although Bethany still had no idea what was going on, she was certain that this Owl-King was someone best avoided.

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – PRIVATE, LIMIT, RETRIEVE
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – METHOD

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and it looks like they’ve got their wish!

More ‘Sixes’ here!

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 4

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

‘Perhaps this landed in the bush when Bethany fell?’ suggested Mr Eyre, holding out the object which he’d just lifted from the buddleia bush.

Bryony shook her head, ‘I don’t remember Bethany having a beautiful bracelet like that, in any case, it’s not the sort of thing people wear unless they’re going somewhere special,’ she took the bracelet from him and held it up to the light, gently unfastening the catch.

The bracelet fell open into two half-moon sections, an inscription ran around the glossy inner rim, written in a language which Bryony didn’t recognise; Mr Eyre peered over her shoulder, trying to decipher the strange script; then it dawned on him: ‘it’s mirror writing, Bryony, look!’

Mr Eyre took out his pocket-watch and opened it, tilting the inside of the shiny silver casing so they could read the inscription: to faraway lands, travel you may, now seek and you will find; Bryony looked up at her tutor, eyebrows raised, ‘What do think, Mr Eyre?’

The bracelet began to vibrate and Bryony began to shake with it; Mr Eyre held onto on her shoulders to steady her.

A moment later they vanished, leaving the buddleia bush swaying silently behind them.

on to the next episode…


Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – GLOSS, PEOPLE, REMEMBER
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – ISLAND

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and it looks like they’ve got their wish!

More stories here and we’d love you to join us… just follow the link!

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 3

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

Bethany rubbed her ankle, although the soft moss beneath her had cushioned her fall, she’d still landed awkwardly; she stared wide-eyed at her surroundings: a swathe of swaying bluebells within a woodland glade, each painted with glassy dew; one thing was certain, she was no longer in the London garden where she and her sister, Bryony had been looking for the little folk.

Hearing voices, Bethany looked around to see two small figures, clad entirely in green, approaching – ‘look, brother,’ one said, ‘the golden-haired child, after all this time’ – the other replied, so quietly that Bethany could barely hear him, ‘hush, sister, wait until we’re sure what we’re dealing with.’

Bethany slowly rose to her feet, thankful that her injured ankle was stable, and took a few steps towards them, ‘I think I’m lost, can you help me please?’

The green-clad man glanced up at her and murmured, ‘if she’s come from Other World, we must tell the Owl-King.’

‘Other World? Owl-King? I don’t understand,’ Bethany held up her hands in confusion; she frowned, seeing them staring at them, ‘what’s wrong?’

‘She can’t be, brother,’ the green-clad woman’s face fell, ‘she isn’t wearing the travelling bracelet we left for her.’

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – GLASS, CUSHION, TABLE
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – DEAL

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and it looks like they’ve got their wish!

More great stories here!

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 2

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

‘Really, Bryony, people don’t just disappear into buddleia bushes,’ Bryony’s papa frowned his irritation, ‘I always thought you were the sensible one,’ he tapped his cane on the floor, something he did when he was unimpressed, ‘stop playing games and tell Bethany to come out from wherever she’s hiding.’

‘You believe me, don’t you, Mr Eyre,’ pleaded Bryony, watching Papa glare at her tutor. Mr Eyre was about to speak when Papa, Donald Goodwin of HMDS*, cut in: ‘and I’d thank you not to encourage such nebulous ideas in the girls, Eyre,’ he growled, stalking into the hallway.

‘Come, Bryony, if we’re going to search for young Bethany, we should start from where you last saw her,’ Mr Eyre extended an arm to shepherd his charge out into the garden, grabbing a cane from his employer’s collection, which was stored in an elephant foot stand, a souvenir from Goodwin’s service in India.

Mr Eyre advanced across the lawn and began to poke about in the buddleia bush; the cane snagged something in the undergrowth and he crouched down, reaching into the foliage. ‘Aha, what have we here?’ he swiveled round and proffered the object to her.

Bryony eyes lit up.


*His Majesty’s Diplomatic Service (the year is 1912).

on to the next episode…

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – POKE, TAP, PRESS
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – NEBULOUS

Bryony, Bethany and their wonderful tutor, Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and it looks like they’ve got their wish!

Your portal to more Six Sentence Stories awaits you here!

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode one

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

‘It’s probably too noisy here in London,’ Bryony whispered, straining her eyes in the pre-dawn darkness to see deeper into the shrubbery, ‘it’s not as if this is Bluebell Woods where we used to live.

Bethany shivered slightly, the early spring frost was creeping through her sandals and pricking at her toes, as she crouched beside her elder sister, peering into the flower bed; nevertheless, she was determined not to give up yet.

‘Just because you read about them in your new poetry book, doesn’t mean they exist, especially at the bottom of our garden,’ Bryony hissed, ‘and I really don’t imagine it’s going to be like last summer after we read ‘Alice in Wonderland’ together.’

Undeterred, Bethany crept a little closer trying to avoid trampling the pretty patch of primroses which lay in her path, ‘look,’ she exclaimed delightedly, ‘here’s a perfect little glade for them to skip about in… oh! oh! oh!..’ she cried out, losing her balance and tumbling into the arching foliage of an unruly butterfly bush.

Puzzled by the sudden silence, Bryony rose to her feet and stepped into the shrubbery, parting the waving fronds of the foliage.

There was no sign of her sister.


Next episode

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – FROST, DAWN, SKIP
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – TRAIN

Some of you will remember these two plucky young heroines from my historical fantasy fiction novel, ‘Following the Green Rabbit’, which celebrates its second book birthday today. To celebrate, and in a shameless bit of book promotion, I’m offering the Kindle version at the special price of $2.99 (or your local currency equivalent) until the end of August. You can find it here: mybook.to/GreenRabbit

Read more Six Sentence Stories here

Planet Earth: Restart (again)

Great Being Five had been practicing mindfulness while idly airbrushing some of the scenery on Orea, her second favourite planet, when a Thought Bubble popped up in the corner of her monitor. It was her friend and protégé, Great Being Nineteen. His Bubble glowed amber with agitation.

‘It’s Planet Earth. Something’s wrong!’

Five flicked a switch and focused her Third Eye on the spiral galaxy that contained her most beloved planet. Nineteen was right. Planet Earth was behaving very oddly. The whole world was flickering, like one of the earthlings’ little light bulbs when it was about to go out. Her Eye roamed around the screen. The stars in the Milky Way were shifting and shimmering ominously.

‘I think it’s the Time Grid,’ Nineteen yelled. ‘Something has gone wrong with the reset on Planet Earth1. Do something, Five!’

On the far side of her screen, a large chunk of the Milky Way blinked off and on.

A bolt of alarm shot through her. What had gone wrong? All she’d done was turn back Time a little bit in that small corner of the galaxy, so that the little humans could have a major re-think and cease their wanton destruction her lovely blue planet.

And it had all been going so well. The little earthlings had emerged from their planetary pandemic a reformed race. They’d been caring for the planet so well.

‘Shut the planet down!’ bellowed Nineteen. ‘Earth is compromising the whole galaxy!’

‘I can’t do that after all we’ve done,’ snapped Five, anxious to protect her little humans. She took a moment to focus. ‘There’s no need to panic.’

Nineteen’s Thought Bubble eye-rolled.

Five started scrabbling at the keys. She’d just have to reset the Timer again. Go back to the previous setting. Switch it off and switch it on again. Wasn’t that the mantra of every Techbot?

A sudden thought occurred to her. ‘What about your Mind-Set Program, Nineteen? Can you replicate that?’

Nineteen’s Thought Bubble made a thumbs up sign.

Five aligned the Time-Grid counter to its previous setting: 01.01.2020. She took a deep breath and pressed the reset button. At least the little earthlings wouldn’t know they’d already been through Nineteen’s Mind-Set Program, and after all, it had only taken a year for the scourge to die down. They’d be fine.

The screen went blue.

Five held her breath.

The image reappeared. Planet Earth and the Milky Way were stable. The Space-Time Balance had been restored.

The Thought Bubble made an apologetic pop.

‘What’s wrong, Nineteen?’

‘Sorry, Five. Planet Earth’s Virus-Settings wouldn’t accept the same program again. I had to opt for a Mutation.’

Five clutched the edge of her keyboard. ‘What do you mean?’

‘The pandemic is going to take a little longer to play out this time.’

‘How long?’

‘Well, there’ll be at least a second and a third wave before it’s over.’

‘And then?’

‘You’ll have your beautiful blue planet back again.’

‘But what about the little humans?’

‘Those who survive: never better.’


It’s been more than a year since we last caught up with Great Being Five in a story I wrote1 shortly after South Africa and many other countries first went into hard lockdown in March 2020. I wrote the story you’ve just read in January 2021, when South Africa went into the second wave of the pandemic but never got around to posting it. Reading it again this week, as the country teeters on the brink of the third wave, it seems even more apt than it did when I penned it.

You can find all the stories featuring Five here.

Photo credit: watercolour painting by Elena Mozhvilo