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Years ago, when I taught at Ch’ooshgai Community School on the Navajo Nation, the students there had a reputation for playing rough, but when it came to it, they had big hearts. Like students at all schools, they resented the Special Ed students for being given lighter work for the same grades. However when a little Down’s syndrome girl showed up at school, she became a celebrity.
Yvonne was one of the handful of students who stayed in the Special Ed room instead of attending at least some regular classes. In spite if this, like every other student in school, she was supposed to take her seat and stay there when she came to class, and that meant that she was supposed to be in her seat when the door was open and kids were in the hall.
That was an utter impossibility for Yvonne. She was endlessly in the doorway with her hopelessly smeared glasses, swinging her leg like a ballerina at the bar, waving and calling out cheerfully to the passing students. I would hear time and again from across the hall: “Yvonne! Where are you supposed to be?” and, “Yvonne, take your seat!” Kids liked her, even if they did call her names.
One day, she grandly sang out a little rhyme:
“Your butt’s too big, your butt’s too big,
No matter what you do, your butt’s too big…”
“Yvonne! Get to your seat, now!”
But before everyone was in class, I heard:
“Your butt’s too big, your butt’s too big,
No matter what you do, your butt’s too big…”
Soon, passing students were taking up the chant each time they saw her in the doorway. “Whose butt is too big?” became the burning student question. The Special Ed teacher’s? She’s got a big enough butt, they said. No. It had to be the old witch from the Office. Or was it a particular student? They would ask Yvonne.
And her reply was:
“Whose butt’s too big? Whose butt’s too big?
If you don’t know, your butt’s too big.
Your butt’s too big, your butt’s too big,
No matter what you do, your butt’s too big…”
One noon, Yvonne came marching down the hallway with all of the verve and poise of a first string cheerleader, followed by the entire student body, chanting at the top of their lungs, the kids near the walls pounding the locker doors in time:
“Your butt’s too big! your butt’s too big!
No matter what you do, your butt’s too big…!”
The following noon, the Special Ed door stayed closed. There was a brief interlude of students chanting: “Y-vonne! Y-vonne! Y-vonne! Y-vonne!” but every noon thereafter, the Special Ed door remained shut. Even so, I seldom heard a day go by without at least someone chanting a verse of Your Butt’s too Big, all the way to the end of the school year.
So in spite of the best efforts of Special Ed, Yvonne may well have become the most specially remembered of all the students in her class.
Elves, Homo sapiens ginkgoliberiensis R., area race of humans indigenous to the Maidenhair Woods of the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent, characterized
by ivory colored skin, eyes with various colors of irises highlighted with opalescent flashesAn Elf who is 240 years old has the biological maturity of a Human [In our writing, ‘Human’ is a race of human] of about seventeen. therefore, one can multiply the equivalent number of Human years by (240/17) to find how old he would be as an Elf. Elves have annual birthdays as we do, but they also celebrate their “naming day” every 14.1 years. An Elf’s seventh naming day has particular importance and is celebrated on his 99th birthday.
Up until a millennium ago all Elves spoke Old Gwaelic Elven and lived on the western slopes of the Eternal Mountains, with most of them living in or near the village of Baile Gairdin. At that time, nocturnal raids by Gwaelic trolls, Homo neanderthalensis gwaelii R., known to them as Marfora Siofra, drove nearly all of them across the Orin Ocean to the Jutland Woods of the Northern Continent where they live to this day, speaking a nearly unchanged version of their ancestral tongue called Jutish Elven. A handful of Elves stayed behind on the Eastern Continent to flee across the mountains, far out into the table flat grasslands of the Great Strah to a great rock they named Carraig Faire, which kept them out of the reach of the great predatory strike falcons living there. In time, their way of speaking changed entirely into
Benny laughed and sailed up the walk to the neat brick front stoop and the cheerily decorated house before them. It even had fake spider webs all over the bushes near the house and a neat witch decoration on the front door. Benny rang the doorbell and a moment later the boys heard an odd pitter patter coming across the floor inside the house. A few moments later the screen door creaked open a crack and Josh and Benny peered inside, somewhat confused that they at first saw no one and didn’t know why the door had come open. Suddenly, Josh felt something tap on the top of his shoe and looked down to see a disembodied hand motioning him inside. His first reaction was to jerk his foot away from the little horror and get the hell out of there, but Benny was giggling. Josh looked inside again and saw a young boy, Benny’s age, dressed like Count Dracula, himself, remote control in hand, coming towards the door. Beside the little vampire was a beautiful girl, with long, blonde hair, dressed up like Sleeping Beauty. He was sure she had to be close to his own age. Benny’s party shows promise, he thought as their hosts stopped at the door to greet them and bid them enter.
The party was amazing and both Josh and Benny were having the time of their lives. The costumes were the most realistic either boy had ever seen. The beautiful teenage girl turned out to be Mindy Cates. “Moving back to this very spot and even having this party was my idea,” she explained to Josh. “Well, and my therapist’s, too. He felt that I must confront what had happened to me. You know, that was ten years ago on Halloween night on this very spot,” she confided. “The doctors hope that I might finally free myself of my horrible nightmares of what happened that night.”
It seemed a bit extreme to Josh, but hey, what did he know about psychology? Soon he found himself dancing to crazy Halloween tunes like The Monster Mash and having the time of his life. When Michael Jackson’s Thriller began to blare from the CD player the partiers got into place and began an incredible imitation of what the boys had both seen Jackson and his incredible dancers do in their music video. To Josh’s surprise, they pulled him into it. He was having such a riot he never even noticed when Mindy, Damon and Benny disappeared from the room.
Mindy and Damon led Benny to a quiet little room down a long hall that was completely empty save for three chairs. Mindy indicated he should sit with a wave of her hand. Once he had complied she and Damon took the other two chairs.
“So,” Benny said after a moment, “is this some kind of game?”
“No,” Mindy said, sharing a quick look with Damon, “this is quite real and quite serious, Benny. You see, Damon and I want to help you…if you will let us?”
“Help me? I don’t get it. Help me what?”
“Heal your body and your sad heart,” Mindy replied in almost a whisper.
Benny’s eyes widened. “How? The doctors said it will take years of surgery…and even then, I won’t be the same as I was before the accident.”
Mindy chewed her bottom lip briefly and studied Benny’s face. “Look…you’ve nothing to be afraid of and this is all…complicated. So, I’m going to ask you to just trust me and do what I ask. I promise I won’t hurt you and when it is over, you will look exactly as you did before your accident…if that is what you want?”
Benny sat back in his chair and looked questioningly at Damon, who nodded his reassurance. “OK,” he replied. “What do I have to do?”
“Close your eyes tight and keep them shut, no matter what, until I tell you to open them,” Mindy instructed. “Will you do that?”
“All right,” Benny said after one more quick glance at Damon. Then he squeezed shut his eyes and waited. A moment later he felt something quite cool, but very soft, brush across his neck, and pause there.
“You can open your eyes now, “ Mindy said in what seemed to Benny to be only a few seconds later. “All done.”
Benny blinked. “That’s it? Now I’m magically transformed into my old self?”
“Yeah, all transformed…only, we’ll have to do this again every year on Halloween until you become eighteen. Then…you decide if you want your healing to remain permanently, or return to what you were before I…helped you,” Mindy said.
Benny frowned. “I’m confused. What exactly did you do and how do I even know that you did anything?”
Damon jumped up and hurried over to a door on the far wall and jerked it open, revealing a full length mirror attached to the backside of what Benny could now see was a closet door. “Come take a look,” he invited.
Benny strode quickly to the door and gasped when he saw his flawless reflection. Then he reached up in wonder and felt his now baby, smooth skin. Tears of joy and gratitude sprang into his eyes. “But…how?” he asked as he turned back to Mindy, who had come over to stand by him and Damon.
“I…shared my regenerative powers with you,” she said, “but when you become 18 you will have to either become fully like me or become as you were.”
Benny reached slowly up and touched the place on his neck where he had felt that cold, soft touch. Mindy nodded at the realization she saw in the young boy’s eyes. “Yes, Benny, I am a vampire. But you are not…yet…as I am. I will come to you every All Hallows Eve until your appointed time. No matter where you go, I will find you. But the final choice will be yours. Do you understand?”
Benny glanced at his image in the mirror once more then back at Mindy and nodded.
“Good, then we should return to the party, I expect it is nearly over and you and Josh must return to your lives while Damon, I, and our friends return to ours. You will not remember how you were transformed this night, until we meet again, next Halloween. That is both for your own protection and ours,” she said. Then she led him back to the party that did, indeed, come to a conclusion, almost as soon as they re-entered it.
Time somehow seemed to stretch and then shrink and become all fuzzy. The next thing Benny knew he and Josh were standing back in their own kitchen and their Mom was coming through the kitchen door.
“Hi guys!” Jean said breezing into the kitchen, “how come you’re both still up? You didn’t just get here, did you?” she asked as her eyes narrowed and her gaze darted to the bold-faced kitchen clock. It clearly read 12:15. She placed her hands on her hips and turned back to wait for a reply from her sons. Suddenly she gasped and nearly fainted as she finally got a clear look at Benny’s no-longer ruined face. She stared questioningly at Josh, who shrugged and shook his head. Benny just beamed and threw himself into his Mother’s arms.
The next morning, Jean packed her two sons into the car and drove to 666 Mockingbird Lane, determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious healing of her precious young son and also to thank whoever had been responsible for this amazing miracle. The family piled quickly from the car the moment Jean turned off the ignition and hurried to the narrow sidewalk between the tall hedge…and stared in amazement at the empty lot beyond.
Benjamin Burns sprang off the last step of the school bus and rushed up the walk and into his house. And he did so with a happy bounce to his step for a change. After all, it was Halloween and he had just made a new friend at school. But, most of all, his new friend had invited him, him, to a costume party at his house this very night! (After he had finished trick-or-treating, that is).
“Hi Mom!” Benny sing-songed as he fairly skipped into the kitchen where his mother was already preparing supper.
Jean Burns turned from the sink where she was peeling potatoes curious to learn why he seemed so happy and excited, and smiled brightly at her precious younger son. She hadn’t seen him show this much enthusiasm since before the accident. The accident where she nearly lost him. The horrible car crash that stole away her beloved husband, Robert, and left her eight-year old boy scarred and disfigured, possibly for the rest of his life. The semi driver had fallen asleep at the wheel and crossed over into the oncoming lane. Bob had been killed instantly, but Benny was critically injured when the car flipped over four times before it came to a stop upside down in the ditch and caught on fire. Benny was wearing a seat belt, but he had first, second and third degree burns over most of his body, before he was freed from the wreckage. He had hideous burns on his face and had lost his sight in his left eye.
That was two years ago, but since Benny had returned to school he had been depressed. The children at school treated him differently now and did not play with him unless they had no choice. Benny no longer had any friends. He said the kids didn’t like him because he was ugly now. He was convinced that many of them were even afraid of him. It broke Jean’s heart. She had gone to school and explained to all his classmates about the terrible accident Benny had been in, hoping the children would understand and begin including her son in their play once more. But it hadn’t happened. A few girls did try to talk with him and include him, but Benny stopped playing with them after a few days. When Jean finally coaxed him to tell her why, she had been horrified to learn that the girls wanted him to be the scary monster and chase them.
Today was the last day she expected Benny to come home fairly bursting with energy and excitement. She had almost kept him home from school this morning because last year some cruel boys had told him that he could trick-or-treat without a costume. He had come home devastated.
Jean bent over and kissed her son on the top of his curly brown mop of hair. “So, you gonna tell me what has you all excited?” she asked.
Benny nodded and pulled a small envelope from his pocket and handed it to her, then waited as patiently as he could while she read it. As soon as her bright blue eyes shifted from the party invitation in her hands to his own sparkling brown one’s he blurted, “So, can I go Mom? Please?”
Before Jean could open her mouth to form a reply, his teenage brother, Josh, strolled into the kitchen. “Can you go where, squirt?” he asked as he studied first his younger sibling’s imploring face and then his mother’s bemused expression and noticed the party invitation in her hand. “Oh! So you’re invited to a Halloween party, huh?”
Benny beamed and nodded and Josh looked back at his mother. “Hey Mom, don’t sweat it, I’ll take Benny to the party if you have to work tonight.”
“Thank you, Josh,” she said, handing him the invitation to his momentary surprise, but he quickly realized she must have done so because he would need to know the time and location of the party. He glanced quickly at the invitation, read the time and address, then started to hand it back to Benny…but froze with the card still in his hand and met his mother’s eyes before taking a better look at the card.
“Hey! What’s goin’ on?” Benny asked, as his excitement of a moment ago began to turn to fear that he was not going to be able to attend the first fun event he had been invited to since before his accident. “Can I go or can’t I?” he added, confused by the odd turn of events. He had thought his family would have been just as happy and excited as he was.
His mom and Josh exchanged a look over top of his head. “Look, sweetheart, you go get your homework done and we’ll talk about it over supper, OK?”
Benny looked from his mother to his brother, then down at the floor. “Yeah, sure,” he mumbled sullenly and trudged to his room.
Supper was a quiet affair until the dishes had been cleared away, then Jean and Josh took turns explaining to Benny that they both wanted more than anything for him to go to his new friends party and have a wonderful time…but the problem was that the address on the invitation said the party was to be at 666 Mockingbird Lane at the Cates’ residence and as far as they both knew, there no longer was a house at that residence. The Cates family that had once lived there were all now deceased.
Benny listened to this information and nodded, a relieved, but knowing look on his young, disfigured face. “I know all of that,” he said impatiently, “but now there is a house there again. It was moved there from Grangerville just a few days ago. My friend, Damon’s family got the place real cheap because the people who owned it had both passed away. They had no family so the city council wanted the land for a parking lot. But they decided that maybe they could make a little profit on the place if they sold it instead of having it demolished.
“Damon also told me that his Uncle John and Aunt Marie’s family lived in the house at the address where his house sits now. They were all murdered by a madman. All except his cousin Mindy, that is. She was only badly wounded and left for dead. The cops had the newspapers report the whole family had been killed because they were afraid that the murderer might try again to kill her if he found out that she was still alive and might be able to identify him. So, when she was well enough, Mindy was sent to live with Damon’s parents, Wolfgang and Elvira Cates,” he added this last with a great sigh and a hopeful expression cast first at his mother, then his big brother, who immediately exchanged a look across the table.
“That is quite a story, young man,” Jean said with a look on her face that Benny knew quite well meant she was not entirely convinced it was all true. Oh, not that he was lying, just that he might not really have been told the truth by his friend, Damon. Still, Benny could tell that the imploring look on his disfigured young face was winning her over, nevertheless. “So…I’ll tell you what. Even though I’m not sure I buy the whole thing I’m going to take a chance and say that you can go…see about this party. Your brother will take you there after you finish with what trick-or-treating you wish to do. If there truly is a house at that location now and your friend and his family are there having a party, you may attend it until ten o’clock. No later. Understood?”
Benny grinned and nodded his head up and down enthusiastically.
“Good,” Jean said, then cautioned. “However, if, as Josh and I fear, there is no house in that location, you will come straight home and do your very best not to feel too bad. You know that there are people out there who are unkind and even cruel to people who are …different…than they are.”
Benny thought this over for a few moments before he slowly nodded. He knew all right. He had been the victim of such cruelness far too often since the accident.
“Then run and get your costume and I will help you get ready before I leave for work,” his mother said. Benny grinned happily and flew to his room to gather up his costume.
Jean bent over and tied a neat bow at the neck of Benny’s faux fur prince cape and then set the shining gold plastic crown with the big pretend jewels upon his curly head and kissed his scarred forehead. “Have fun trick-or-treating, and remember…”
“Don’t eat anything until I get home and you or Josh inspects it for signs of tampering,” Benny said before she could.
Jean smiled and nodded. “And…don’t be too disappointed if your party…doesn’t work out.” Benny nodded solemnly and Jean’s mouth spread into a smile once more. “OK, I’ll see you later, then, sweetheart.”
Benny smiled back and waved as he followed Josh out the door and spent the next two hours merrily trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. But now they had finally arrived at Mockingbird Lane, and Benny was anxious to get to the party, though his brother insisted they might as well trick-or-treat the houses along the way.
“Come on, Benny,” Josh said, “at least if it turns out there isn’t anything at 666 we’ll have something to show for coming all the way here.”
Benny agreed, but just to keep Josh off his case. Teenage brothers could be such a pain if they didn’t get their way!
It seemed like time had slowed down, though, and Benny was beginning to feel like they would never reach the end of the block where Damon said his house was. What was more ominous, though, to Benny, was that it was pitch dark at the end of the lane where the Cates’ house should be. He began to feel disappointment and betrayal creep over him the closer they approached to that lightless spot. He trudged downheartedly from the brightly lit porch of 665 beside Josh who cast him a truly apologetic look, as they began to cross the street to go 667 and back up the other side of the lane.
There was a foreboding thick hedge in front of the property at 666 at the end of the lane, broken only by a narrow sidewalk that split the hedges in the center and ran on up into the darkness. By some unspoken agreement, both boys stopped outside the hedge and stared into the inky blackness towards where the narrow sidewalk ended. Suddenly a great many lights flared all at once, illuminating the house that now resided on the property. Josh and Benny both started in surprise, then exchanged looks of wonder.
“Well little brother,” Josh said with a grin, let’s go see about this party, shall we?”
Meri Greenwood (Dyn Gwyrdd in Old Niarg Standard) was the oldest of all Fairies. He became the husband of Celeste after aeons of courting her, and though he may not actually be Talking Father himself, he was unquestionably tramping about a good ten thousand years before Spitemorta’s time, paying visits to Calon Fforydd, the Heart of the Forests in the Great Stone Tree, which the First Wizard chiseled out and took away from the world of trees for his own as the Heart of the Staff.
In Good Sister, Bad Sister he gives a magic stick to Ocker the raven and brings tidings to the wizard Razzmorten that the evil sorcerer Razorbauch has changed the entire Forest Primeval into the Chokewoods. In The Burgeoning, he leads King Neron and his Elves through his ring of mushrooms to safety in his underground village, Gerddi Teg. He marries Celeste in The Reaper Witch, and readies Ariel and Daniel to fulfill the Elven Prophesy in Doom.
Meri returns in WHAM! and THEN… as Kellen Greenwood’s father and grandfather to his two children, Tess and Nia, when first Tess, and then Tess, her father and friends enter the Fairy Ring and travel the Fairy Paths to the past.
The Maidenhair Woods of the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent has the following indigenous tree and fern species of essential importance to the Gwaelic Elves who still live there (Stone Heart and Elf Killers) and to the Jutish Elves who fled to the Northern Continent with starts of each of them one thousand years ago
blue maidenhair – Ginkgo cyanophyllum R. is a twenty to sixty foot tall broad leaved
evergreen gymnosperm with chalky blue-green leaves, living on the mountain tops up to the tree line of the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent. It is amongst the oldest living things, with some trees having been found with over 16,000 annual rings. The wood is so dense that trees felled next to water have been known to sink as though their trunks were made of stone. The dried leaves, which are drunk as a tea by the Elves, contain ginkeine, an alkaloid complex which includes caffeine and other phytochemicals, some of which may induce DNA repair.
fringed maidenhair – Ginkgo fimbriflabella R., is a deciduous gymnosperm that lives in waste and burnt over areas where woods meets grassland. It seldom grows taller than 35 to forty feet. Its leaves are deeply lobed with closely spaced fingers, scarcely broader than one mm, giving the tree its name. Its wood is almost white and very soft, and it seldom lives more than 65 to 75 years. Along with plums, crabapples and hawthorns, it is amongst the first woody species of trees to invade after a section of forest is completely burnt off by fire.
maidenhair tree – Ginkgo biloba ingentissima R. (The Sacred Maidenhair of Oilean Gairdin is a G. biloba ingentissima) are broad leaved deciduous gymnosperms. These are the tallest living trees on earth with mature specimens towering from 375 to over 400 feet. The largest individual known, living near the bottom of the slopes of the
Pitmaster Gorge in the Maidenhair Woods, measures 427 feet and is estimated to be well over 7000 years old. They are indigenous to the Maidenhair Woods of the western Eastern Continent where they are the dominant tree, forming the canopies in the deep valleys and steep slopes of the Eternal Mountains up to about 6500 feet. They are amongst the oldest living things on earth with some trees having nearly 10,000 annual rings, though the record for age is held by the very much smaller blue maidenhair, Ginkgo cyanophyllum R., of the mountain tops and tree line.
red maidenhair – Ginkgo erythrofolium R. is a deciduous broadleaved gymnosperm living throughout the Maidenhair Woods in the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent where it overwhelmingly predominates at elevations below 8000 feet. It ranges in height from sixty to ninety feet, the taller trees occurring in low places. It has the interesting ability to thrive under the canopy of the maidenhair trees, Ginko biloba ingentissima R. where the two species overlap. The red bottom surfaces of its leaves are thought to enable it to thrive in low light conditions. Its dried leaves bear alkaloids, which when chewed by the Elves like tobacco, steadies their nerves.
silver maidenhair – Ginko genetrex-argenteus R. also called “mother tree” by the Fairies and Gwaelic Elves, its leaves and stems are covered with a silver colored cuticle, hence its name. It lives in symbiotic association with the mycelia of Fairy ring mushrooms, and whilst its leaves, stems, fruit, bark and roots are each said to have potent medicinal properties, the tree’s great rarity has prevented substantial empirical study.
maidenhair fern – Adiantum capillus-veneris R. is the commonest of all species of fern occurring in the Maidenhair Woods of the Eternal Mountains of the west coast of the Eastern Continent, where it forms rank growths along streams, in deep loamy gorges and blankets the north-facing slopes of hills and sandstone bluffs. Its fan shaped leaves resemble the leaves of the maidenhair tree. It grows from six to eighteen inches in height from creeping rhizomes, six inches to six yards long. It is a major part of the diet of the maidenhair red deer, Odocoileus rufi-ginkgus R., and is the likely reason for the animal’s meat having its renowned woodsy flavor.
Tess Greenwood is a half Fairy, half Human (here, Human is a race and therefore capitalized), daughter of Kellen and Cait Greenwood, sister of Nia and Granddaughter to Meri and Celeste Greenwood. Tess, one of the two main protagonists in Wham! She is still in High school and is considered rebellious by her teachers and school officials because she refuses to engage in the promiscuous behavior of her peers, even though she has had all her shots and thus will not contract any STD’s or become pregnant.
Tess is quiet and introverted with few friends, and often the brunt of cruel teasing and bullying from her peers. Until her parents and sister are taken in the middle of the night by the brutal Children and Family Services Police, Tess ignores the current fads and fashions of her peers, usually wearing jeans, t-shirt and sneakers while keeping her thigh-length, green hair in a single braid down her back.
After Tess’s family are removed from their home, the bald watcher in her skinny ball (a governmental spying device citizens are forced to keep in every room of their homes) tells her it is her fault they were taken.
Excerpt from Wham!
“Tess,” said the bald man in the skinny ball. “Have you any idea why it was necessary to resettle your parents?”
“I can’t imagine how any thing like that could ever be necessary…”
“They’ve allowed you to become sarcastic and defiant when you should be expressing your respect and gratitude. The teachers and councilors at your school have been concerned. Your parents weren’t managing…”
“No!” she cried out in hoarse anguish, “No! No! No!”
The next day when Tess awoke:
Tess had been asleep for some time when she awoke from a terrible nightmare about the man in the skinny and sat up with a gasp. She could see by the utter blackness that it had not been daylight for hours. There was not even a crack of light from the door to the kitchen. She lay back with a sigh. “Did the school really turn me in?” she thought as she stared at the ceiling which was too dark to see. “Did Children and Family really come for Mom and Dad and Nia because of me? If I were like the other kids would they still be here? And if I start acting exactly like everybody else, would they let Mom and Dad come home?” She threw back her covers and sat on the edge of the bed. “There’s nothing for it. I’m going to Broadstreet.”
Broadstreet is where the troll compound is located and where Tess’s friend, Maxi, has his Barber/tattoo shop. Maxi’s makeover leaves Tess with a Mohawk, a number of piercings and a tattoo. She hopes fervently that her sincere attempt to conform with her peers will lead to the return of her family. It doesn’t take long for her to discover her hopes are all in vain.
Samantha Bodine is the Mistress (or Madam, to put it less delicately) for the girls chosen to service the elite leaders of the World Alliance at the secret undersea capitol of Atlantis. She originally arrived in Atlantis as one of the chosen, but decided to remain and become a Mistress in hopes of helping the girls who were chosen to avoid the pitfalls, and actually survive their 5 year service. Many did not, and Sam wanted to change that. When first meeting a new girl Sam was cool and professional, perhaps even brutal, but she believed each one must completely understand the brutal reality of her new life in Atlantis. Later, as she and her new charges get to know each other she lets them see her softer side and they discover she is their strongest supporter and staunchest ally. And in the case of Nia Greenwood and Jill Macintyre, Sam becomes their dear and trusted friend.
Excerpt from WHAM! :
“So, awake at last!” the shapely thirty-something blonde said, as she glided into the room like a model moving down a runway. “I am Mistress Bodine, but you may call me Sam. That is short for Samantha, of course.”
Nia blinked and tried to sit up on the bed she had recently awoken to discover herself lying in, though she had no memory of how she had come to be there. “An accident or sudden illness?” she wondered as she tried to focus on the older woman’s face. She tried once more to sit up, but discovered she was restrained. A stab of fear ran through her as she turned her panicked eyes to gaze around the room. She noted the pair of guards at the door and her heartrate increased enough that the monitor they had her attached to began to beep. She swung her head back to stare at the blonde woman. “What is this place, and why am I here in these restraints?” she asked, her voice trembling with fear and anger.
“Why, you’re in the Capitol, Nia, don’t you remember being chosen for this honor?” Mistress Bodine said as she reached over and reset the monitor so it ran quietly once more.
“The Capitol!” Nia repeated her alarm growing as she struggled uselessly once more against her restraints. “Chosen!” she spat, her lip curling…is that what you people call it when you abduct someone against their will to become a girl toy to the monsters now running the world?”
“I’m glad to see you have some spirit, Nia, but I warn you…never again say anything derogatory about those who run our world government if your life has any value to you. Cooperation and compliance will serve you well here and guarantee that when your short five-year service has ended you will be allowed a most comfortable retirement in the country of your choice. You can even pursue another career at that time, or if you wish, you can marry and have a family.” Mistress Bodine smiled and studied Nia intently making the younger woman feel like a fish in an aquarium. “There is no other vocation in the entire unified world that offers these benefits. Now do you understand why you are called chosen?”
“You people are really incredible!” Nia said. “You almost act as if you truly believe girls have any choice in the matter.”
“Well of course you have a choice,” Mistress Bodine replied with a benign smile. “You can fulfill your service to your government like a good and loyal world citizen, or you can refuse and be executed as a traitor. Her smile widened. “So, now that you understand the terms of your service what do you say I release you from your restraints and I’ll show you around?” Without waiting for an answer, she continued, “ And then after a nice meal somewhere, someone will take you to your quarters and you can get a nice hot bath and some sleep.” she added as she began undo Nia’s restraints.
“Wait,” Nia said. “What makes you think I’ll choose to comply with your terms of service rather than execution?”
Mistress Bodine sighed and sat back to look directly into Nia’s face. “I have been mistress here for twelve years, Nia, and in all that time not a single young lady has chosen execution. Now…I’ll grant you that a fair number of them agreed to service with the idea in their heads to escape at the first opportunity, but they choose service over death initially.”
Nia frowned. “What do you mean…initially?”
Mistress Bodine resumed unfastening Nia’s restraints as she replied, “there is no escape from service in the capitol other than retirement or death, Nia. Remember that. Those who forgot that, paid the price.” She sat back and smiled blandly at Nia once more. “There, you’re free. I advise you to get up slowly. You’ve been unconscious for a while and may suffer a bit of vertigo at first.”
“Unconscious?” Nia said with and eye roll. “You mean drugged, don’t you?”
Bodine shrugged her slender shoulders indifferently. “What does it matter, you’ve been out of it. Now, up you go. Let’s get on with things…I have other things to do today.”
Excerpt from WHAM! :
“So why did you come?” said Nia, now that the room was quiet.
“I had every intention of coming ’round to see how you’d managed,” said Sam, “though I’d have waited until tomorrow so you’d have had time to rest and sort out all this that you’ve just been through.”
“So what came up?”
“Well your watcher contacted me, so I came right over to make certain you didn’t do anything foolish.”
“My watcher? In the skinny?”
“I did think he was kind of an ass,” said Nia. “What exactly did he tell you?”
Sam’s eyebrows went up. “He thought you were contemplating suicide, Nia,” she said. “Was he correct?”
Nia looked away for a moment. “Even if it’s true that we’re retired from this, this service after five years and allowed to live out the rest of our lives as we choose, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “How could it? Everything’s been ruined. It certainly has been for me. After what happened to me last night, I’ll never be the same again. I can’t possibly pick up where I left off with my life and marry and raise a family. I’d be better off dead. And I wish I were!”
“Hush!” said Sam with a stern nod at the door, though her face softened the moment she turned to Nia and the sight of her made her think of a beautiful broken doll. “Nia. I do understand. I went through that very thing myself, years ago.”
Jill Macintyre is a young woman of Beak descent from what was once the Kingdom of Marr, captured by Children and Family Assistance and sent to Atlantis to be a sex slave for the World Alliance. She is a major supporting character and good friend to Nia Greenwood, one of the main characters, and the eldest sister in the Greenwood family.
Beaks are a diminutive people making up the Kingdom of Marr in medieval times, (Heart of the Staff series) who spoke Goblish-Beakish and had scarcely joined the Iron Age. They decorated themselves extensively with blue tattoos which they preferred to enhance with blue woad stain rather than to cover with clothes. They built wooden stockade style castles atop great mounds and made a life of raiding and plundering their neighbors as well as farming. The Kingdom of Marr made up of an extensive region of fens called Beakmore or the Beakmoor, that were known as the Gobbler Marshes (Marshmallow Marshes) during the Peppermint Forest days, which surround a raised pastoral part of the Kingdom known as Caistealbeak, which includes the village of Caistealbeak which surrounds the Beak Castle, known as Caisteal-Beak. Modern day Beaks still favor tattoos, but most speak Modern Niarg speech and dress in the current fashion.
Excerpt from Wham!
“I’m starting to worry about Jill,” said Nia as she swallowed her last bite. “Should we have the waitress fetch a skinny?”
“She’s right behind you,” said Sam.
“Sorry I’m late,” said Jill, taking a chair. “What’s good?”
“My hamburger and onion rings were wonderful,” said Nia as she poured herself another tea.
“You’re all right?” said Sam as she wiped her mouth and parked her napkin under her plate so that the breeze wouldn’t take it.
Jill rolled her eyes and nodded.
“Well the only problem with your being late is that I have an appointment in twenty minutes,” said Sam as she rose to leave. “I don’t mean to be rude. Now you’re sure you’re all right? And Nia, I’ll be back at your flat in plenty of time for supper.”
“I’ll be there,” said Nia as Sam picked up her bag and stepped between the benches onto the promenade.
“There was something about that which sounded like she’s staying with you,” said Jill.
“Long story,” said Nia. But yeh. Kind of. She came to see how I’d managed after my first assignment, but there’s more to it.”
“Merciment! I forgot about that. Are you all right? Was he really awful?”
” Here came the waitress to take Jill’s order. Nia turned aside and blinked to keep from having tears. “I’ll live,” she said as the waitress left. “But I’m not yet up to talking about it.”
“No problem,” said Jill as she put ketchup and mustard on her hamburger and took a bite. She gave Nia a thumbs up sign as she chewed. “Wow! This hamburger doesn’t taste one bit like old rotten butcher shop filth.” She nodded at Nia’s bag. “Is that a book?”
“You’re asking? You’ve not seen one before?”
“I knew what it was. That’s just the first one I’ve ever seen. Could I look at it when I’m done eating?”
“Sure. But I thought you were taking a reading class.”
“I am. But the teacher has a sublim board. We haven’t got to actual books yet.”
“And you never saw a book back home, either?”
“So what kept you?”
Jill rolled her eyes as she swallowed. “I had an assignment this morning,” she said. “Vile old hog of a banker. He could’ve been my granddaddy. He had a big round belly. I swear! Had to ‘ave been years since he could see his toes or his wee tassel when he stood. But at least I’ll not have to put up with the likes of him again. No one will.”
“What are you saying?” gasped Nia. “Did something happen to him? You didn’t do anything to him, did you?”
“Not the way it turned out. He spared everyone with his heart failure. I think that when he woke up from his nap tied to the bed and saw me in his kitchen cutlery, he couldn’t manage. Really. A man in his shape shouldn’t ‘ave been forcing his awful diddling and bruises on people.”
“Now look!” cried Demonica. “You knocked my flowers into the syrup, fowl!”
“So? Stop waving your swyving arms, then. Besides, I want you to do something for me…”
“I want you to make hit so that I can travel anywhere I want by spell, instead of just to here and back,” he said as he wiped off his beak and gave himself a thorough shake.
“For what? What’s your news?”
“I already gave hit to you when you said you gave me the powers of a swyving hedge wizard…”
“So you suddenly think I should pay you twice, aye?”
“Listen, queinte!” he squawked, thrusting himself up to bristle like a pine cone. “I’ve learnt from a right true source that magic powers can’t be given. You’re either born with them, or you’re not. And I was, so you knew hit when you tricked me.”
“I’ll pay you well for the name of who told you.”
Ocker is the only raven known who is able to use magic. In Good Sister, Bad Sister, he lives with his wife Urr-Urr at their nest atop the great bluff overlooking the keep of the evil wizard Razzorbauch. Based on the behavioral studies of ravens by ethologist Bernd Heinrich and the folklore of Native Americans and Celts, Ocker is a profane, amoral huckster, who is forever wheedling things he wants from powerful people in exchange for tidbits of choice information. He does routine business with Demonica the sorceress as well as Razzorbauch, but he also has occasional dealings with Meri Greenwood the Fairy and the Jutland Elves. When Ocker sells the whereabouts of Greenwood’s lover to Razzorbauch as well as to Greenwood, the lover and her sisters are doomed to live in Mount Bed forever. Even so, it is Ocker who ends up saving the day.
We seldom use profanities in our writing, but Ocker is a most profane character, so we have him swearing exclusively with obsolete English words. The above passage is as foul and graphic as any swearing you’ll ever hear on the street.