White Cats, interlude

..When I was young, my grandfather never liked cats. He didn’t mind me having a dog though. But I was more fond of cats. I asked him one day why he felt the way he did.

“…Because dogs keep the mad scientists away,” he said.

..It took a few minutes to get him to explain what he said…

“..When I was young, I thought I could go into the state park at night. I didn’t fear the dark, didn’t know the danger that stalks…

“You’ll never see the white fur which seems to glow in the dark, or the eyes that reflect your flashlight,” he said, “You will hear neither the purring that comes down from his perch, nor smell the ammonia stench of his white lab coat flowing.. You won’t feel the prick of the blow dart or be aware of where you land…

“You won’t recall the taste of dead leaves upon hitting the ground, or see Dr.Winter, the large green eyes, watching and making his plans…

“So don’t find yourself in his laboratory. Be careful when you venture at night. Always be watching the trees. For you don’t know when Dr. Winter is watching. Be careful when you hear the breeze…

“He’s always looking for new test subjects, he watches, waits for the unwary…

“So get a dog, get a dog, grandson, and keep Dr. Winter at bay.”

–from “The White Cat of the Labyrinthine Woods” by Tyger G. Caterwauling, Summer Sunny Squashmare Publishers, Topeka, Kansas 1985.

No Room for Reporters, Interlude

The Berenson Times was a student-run newspaper. Covering everything from sports highlights to who made the honor roll, the weekly paper addressed various school topics.

The latest topics this week were Miss Long’s new hairstyle, the new addition of “breaded pork fingers”(also known as “Mystery Meat Special”) to the hot lunch menu, and frightening proof the cafeteria was haunted.

The Berenson Times was headed up by the 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Eweson. Her love for all things ice cream showed in her writing, in her choice of stickers when grading, in the posters on the walls of her classroom, and in her dress size.

“So you wanna work for the Times, huh?” said Mrs. Eweson as she adjusted her glasses.

“Yes Ma’am,” said Roger.

“You’re rather late in the season to be applying. We’re full for the quarter. If you apply in January, we can have you on full time. But we can always make room for part time, volunteer, reporters,” said Mrs. Eweson, “Tell me why you want to write for the Berenson Times?”

“I want to explore topics and places in the school normally not covered.”

“And what do you have in mind?”

“I want to cover what other places around the school might be haunted,” said Roger.

“Now we’re not in the business of ghost hunting,” said Mrs. Eweson, “And we’re not a tabloid.”

“That’s fine, just let me write,” said Roger.

“However,” said Mrs Eweson, “You are in eighth grade. And you’re making straight A’s in my classes. I can make an exception for you in that regard.”

She smiled a knowing smile to Roger. Mrs. Eweson was one of the few teachers who approved of Roger’s sneaking into the cafeteria to prove it was haunted.

“What are you saying, Mrs. Eweson?”

“I’m saying write what you wanna write, kid!”

Roger was estatic.

“But first let me know what you’re covering.”

Roger walked away with renewed vigor, staring at his newly issued Press Pass. As long as he had this, and it was relevant for a story, he could go places others could not tread.

 

Principal Gordon Luthar was reading a newly pressed copy of the Berenson Times. There was an article here written by some Mr. Roger Flair. Hmmm. Was that the guy who trespassed into the cafeteria? It must be. He wrote about his findings about the Red Veil Phantom. And about, who was that? “Hector Hundred?” Blood on the walls? How barbaric. It shouldn’t be in a school paper, relevant or not.

Principal Luthar looked at his watch. It was Monday. Almost that time again to make an appearance. Visiting her was a random visit. He made sure, every quarter, to visit the others and remind them to who it was that put them there. He never predicted that his appearance would be witnessed, or that the witness had on hand, of all things, a mirror. Who could have guessed that he’d get caught by a student? He thought detention would make him not do it again and keep quiet. Now he’s writing about it in the newspaper?

Principal Luthar got up from his desk and addressed his secretary.

“Eugenia, I’m going out for a bit. When I return, have Mrs. Eweson come to the office.”

“Yes, Mr. Luthar,” said Eugenia. “Um, she’s in class right now.”

“She’s in class you say?” he asked, “Fine. Send her in when her class is over.”

Principal Luthar calmly went outside and to his car. In the glove compartment was a syringe full of dark green liquid. He injected the needle into a strange, soft green stone attached to a necklace he wore around his neck. He wore it hidden, under his shirt at all times. The soft stone briefly turned a brighter shade of green and became shiny again.

The Briostone once again showed exuberance. It was a hassle to satisfy. One had to inject ether harvested from other specters, or it would shrivel like a raisin and reveal who he was. But it was one of the few ways to remain physical and among the living.

 

From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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Bogus Childhood Memory, Interlude

Roger was a slow eater. 8th grade at Bernard Berenson Middle was unforgiving to people who didn’t hurry when eating their lunch. So when Roger’s friends from his class finished eating, or turned up their noses to the questionable cafeteria food, they left him by himself to finish his meal.

Leaving a fellow eighth grader behind at lunch is a most cruel thing to do; Then you are at the mercy of underclassmen. Roger searched for another table at which to sit, but the only one open was housed by fourth-graders. Please tread lightly, Roger!

Ah, yes. The boys in fourth grade were not mere children. No, they may not have been as educated or as tall or strong as Roger, but they were street smart. They somehow had more time to watch TV and play video games than those in higher grades, and used the grown up antics not meant for children to their advantage. He caught them in mid conversation.

“Yeah, well I heard her body was found in this cafeteria.” said one boy.

“Nu-uh,” said another.

“Oh yeah? Well put your head to the table, when no one’s around. I was told you can hear her screams if you put your ear to the table when no one is in the room. And, if you are here at midnight when you do it, she may appear.”

“No way! That couldn’t happen, man—-“

The fourth grade boys abruptly cut off their heated dialogue when Roger showed up. They watched Roger reluctantly sit at their table. They cheerfully let him sit with them and introduced themselves.

“I’m Roger. I’m in the eighth grade, and new here.” he said to them.

“Hey, Roger,” said the boys.

“I’m Eric,” said the lead boy, “Where’d you go last year?”

“Autumnway Academy,” said Roger.

Everybody knew that Autumnway was known for its accepting only the future elite from wealthy families. Roger’s parents didn’t have money per se, but his grandparents did and insisted he go. He was there for two years until his grandparents’ death in a car crash. The money left to Roger went to his college fund and he found himself in another preppy Christian school, but more affordable and more accepting to middle class families.

“Have a peanut, Roger,” said Eric handing him a single peanut.

“Wait, did you do anything to it?” asked Roger.

“Nah, it’s clean,” said Eric as the other boys showed him a plastic bag of dry roasted peanuts.

“Um, ok,” Roger ate the peanut. The moment he put the peanut in his mouth the fourth grade boys laughed.

It was a clever joke: drop a snack on the floor in the lunch room, hold on to it, offer it to unsuspecting older students. Unfortunately for Roger, he was not aware of the “dirty nut” trick, a stunt pulled by last Thursday night’s sitcom, “Every Six Months,” a comedy about a small dental practice.

“Dude! Can’t believe you fell for it!” said Eric.

“Fell for what?” asked Roger, “It’s still a peanut. Food is food.”

Roger’s bravery shot new thoughts into Eric’s mind.

“Say, Roger,” said Eric, “We were talking about a school challenge and wanted to know if you were interested.”

All six fourth graders were looking at Roger. One boy shook his head to suggest don’t do it.

“What is the challenge?” asked Roger.

“There’s a school dance coming up this Friday,” said Eric, “It should go until midnight and is in the gym. But have you heard about the ‘Red Veil Phantom?'”

“A ghost? Really?” Roger was skeptical.

“It’s true,” said Eric, “We were just talking about it. Do you want to hear the challenge?”

“What’s in it for me?” asked Roger.

“At the end of the dance, right at midnight, sneak in here. Put your head to this table and listen. You should see her blood stained veiled ghost. And hear, through the table, her distant screams that can still be heard from when she was murdered in this very room. At this very table.”

Roger took a last bite of his sandwich and wriggled his hands like he was a ghost. “OOOOOh. That sounds exciiiiiiting! What’s in it for me?”

“Well, we thought you were brave enough to try it.”

“Have you done it?”

“Shoot, I’m not doing it,” said one of Eric’s friends.

“Look, if you do it, I’ll give you a dollar.”

“Nah.”

“Five dollars?”

Roger kept refusing until Eric was at ten dollars.

“C’mon, ten is a lot.”

“Um, ok.”

“No way!”

“But are you going with me?”

“No, the challenge is you gotta go alone, at midnight. You have to stay there for twenty whole minutes. And you have to make a recording with your phone or something as proof.”

Roger was hesitant.

“Alright.”

Roger and Eric shook on the agreement to make it real. Roger thought about what he had done all day. Was this really a wise idea to have accepted the challenge? What was the worst thing that could go wrong? The ghost shows up and kills me? No, that nothing happens and I get caught where I’m not supposed to be!

 

The next day was the day of the dance. Roger had fifteen minutes left to eat before recess started. He was about done eating when Beth and Angie, two of the eighth grade girls, sat down at his table.

“We overheard about the bet tomorrow night,” said Beth. “Good luck with the dare. I just hope you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

For the briefest of moments, Roger’s heart both fluttered and skipped a beat.

Excerpt from “Fall from Autumnway”
from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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Illustration of Dr. Winter

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In case you are wondering what Dr. Winter looks like in my mind, here is an idea. He’s a human scientific genius trapped in a white cat’s body. Blame it on a flaw in his intellect which caused an accident in one of his mad experiments. He wears a lab coat because he refuses to let go of his humanity.

The bamboo blowgun is equipped with poison darts made for various purposes. Much of it is used to acquire new test subjects. Or to create a diversion to throw the park rangers off his scent. The bamboo comes from within the park. Possibly from within the Labyrinthine Forest.

Dr. Winter appears through out this blog. Do not be fooled in thinking he may have a good side to him. His schemes are self centered, partly because he wants to control the park. Partly to acquire the jewels hidden within the park, and partly to return to his human form. The latter may never happen on a permanent basis.
If you have fan art of Dr. Winter, I’d love to see it.

Unexpired Path

You go first, I’ll just stay here.

 

You choose to continue your hunt for the remaining jewels. Once found, then you can answer the message of the person calling for help in the Labyrinthine Woods. The white cat in a lab coat casually goes around the corner of the mansion. What’s around that corner?

You already know the cat is able to use poison darts from a bamboo blow gun he stores in his lab coat. Cautiously you sneak around the corner. No sign of the cat. It’s worth the risk. To your left is a stream that runs along a dug out gully. There is a bridge roughly 200 meters. To your right is the back of the mansion, just a wall of marble stone slabs bonded by mortar. In front of you is a path that leads to the Labyrinthine Forest. It’s a path you have never explored.

Oh, look, it’s that cat in the lab coat. Never mind him. Cover your neck, maybe he won’t shoot you. You move along toward the bridge. Uh oh. There’s another cat in a white lab coat. You run into the forest even as poison barbs fly all around. Once in the Labyrinthine Woods the barbs are no longer being shot. You turn around. The real white cat in the lab coat watches you but does nothing.

 

 

He’s waiting.

The path here has a sense of brooding. You hear rustling in the trees. You keep moving on the trail but it gets darker further inside the woods.

You hear an owl. Another owl answers the first owl’s call. A third, then a forth answer the first owl’s call. You look up expecting to see all these large birds, but instead it’s as if night has come early. The night sky, in this particular section of forest, has no stars. And the sky moves. Like ripples in a pond. Why does the sky move like that?

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