Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gnarli Remains Chased

Running! A Protohare hot on my heels, I run forward, through forest and clearing it bounds behind, ever nearing!
I urge myself on:

"Oh jeez, oh jeez, oh jeez!...great oogiley-boogily! It's still there! Puff, puff..."

"Maybe be...friends? Huff...huff.."

"RaWWWWrRRRRRR!!!" it intoned.

"No, ...bad idea...!..pant, pant..."

"Climb...climb..climb...Cough! Bunnies can't climb!...*sputter*."

"It's jumping!!! Duck!!!"
The great beast drew back and jumped- it long furry body barely grazed mine as it sailed over my bent form.. Overshooting, it fell in a slow spiral down the other side...

Plummeting with a flare and hiss into the lava flows far below.

Slowly, I caught my breath and descended again to the forest. Another hare passed in the distance, heading towards the beach. I hesitated as it passed, then set forth again into the dense foliage.

As I drew nearer the beach, who should come bounding out but my dear Kiralette! We took a happy shelter in a safe glen as she told me of the appearance of a group of savages at the beach, and the plight of our fellow adventurers. We considered how we might effect their rescue, and what our next move might be. Long minutes we spent thankful for each other's safety and pondering..

Suddenly, I felt a familiar warm wetness on my calf as my trusty Pengi Conseil made his presence known, in a most agitated and animated way...

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Fossil-Hare

Dispatch by Carrier-Bird

Dear Miss Connolly

I'm sure you will be grateful to hear we have achieved landfall, if in a rather sudden way, and have succeeded in erecting a base camp on this beach before venturing into the interior. As a rather surprising turn of events, we have discovered a stowaway- Miss Kiralette could not restrain from attending such an adventure, and made her presence known at landfall.
While I am fearful for her safety, I am gladdened she is near, in this, the final days of Caledon should we fail to discover the secrets of this island's appearance, and how to address the damage a vast volcanic explosion is likely to cause.

Several huts have been erected to stow our equipment and provide needed shelter once the boat departs to a safe distance, which it seems is the intention of it's captain, come the favorable tides and repair of the inadvertent damage it's sudden landfall wrought on the hull.

That the craft was being piloted by a Pengi, I will admit, for often I let the birds mimic my steering on the Steamboat at home- note that boat though, is land-locked, lacking an engine of yet, so I'm sure the bird in mimicking my actions at home had no expectation of a crash, or even control of movement of the craft, but only intent to help the captain by holding and turning the big wheel in his absence. Be that as it may, a the crash did occur, luckily no-one was hurt.

The Pengis have been uneasy of late, and one seems to have utterly disappeared the first night- I assume the burden I had given it sapped it of the will to journey, and over side it went to swim home. This is unusual for the character of these birds, who are usually steadfast and hardy, but I see no other explanation. This second night, they did not wish to be bedded down, clucking nervously as I left. One even ventured out of the hay-bed, and ended up seeking the company of Duchess Eva, who was startled in her sleep by the unexpected hronking.

The remaining birds have been brought ashore, and, after regurgitating on my leg in their peculiar method of thanks, seem much more content in these surrounding, as dangerous as they may seem.

I must not omit a discovery made by the professor at our land-fall, that of enormous depressions in the earth which he ascribes to rodents of extraordinary size. None have been spotted and However large, I trust our fire will keep them at bay for the night.

Evening- a fitful sleep due to gaseous rumblings and noxious gasses present here. No names.

Dawn- I awake to find another Pengi missing, the others in a fright- they screech as Bardhaven approaches, but I find nothing unusual in this. I move into the forest, where it has likely fled, penetrating the ferny brush, There on the ground I see a vegetable, a carrot of extraordinary size! Clearly as large as small-bore cannon. Half nibbled, and discarded, as I move to touch it it gives off an uncommon heat, so I leave it for the professor to examine in situ. I continue into the verdant rain forest, and reach an escarpment- Looking down i am amazed by the sight in front of me.

It is a rabbit in form, but an elephant in size, It sits amidst a field of ferns- wait, not ferns, these are carrot-tops of the size seen earlier, springing haphazardly from the soil, which is also strewn with overturned canisters, barrels of metal, with strange glyph-markings on the sides. This Beast does not see me as it sits in its field, waiting, perhaps tending. It sits 12 foot tall at the shoulder, its plush fur interrupted by enormous fangs protruding form it's whiskered head.
This, then, is the lepus Giganticus, the Proto-bunny, who has not walked the earth these 10,000 years, patiently minding it's garden!

I find charcoal and my journal and quickly begin to sketch in my seclusion, noting it's features, eager to return this back to the Professor for study. As I draw I am thankful that this monster is a herbivore, content with the giant carrots in abundance. I sketch on, when I see a wild boar slowly near the field, grazing at the carrot-tops, ignorant of the stone-still Paleobunneh in it's path. With a swoop, faster than my speed of sight, and but a horrible blur, the Protohare swoops up this boar in it's great clawed paw, picks the boar up and pops it in his mouth, where it is munched quietly.

I can but gasp!

Later- Running and Hiding

It has seen me! and is close behind, I must make for camp, even should it follow... I hope you receive this missive safely, pray for my safety, too! I must hurry!

G. Abel


Summer Pilots

Scene: A Corporate Boardroom at SLTV

Chairman: Gentleman, I've called you here because, as you know, numbers are slumping for the "Journey to 20,00 Leagues Beneath the Center of The Mysterious Island" Miniseries- we're at risk of losing sponsors, boys, let's salvage this thing! We've got plenty of footage, I want Ideas!
Ok, Johnny, what have you got?

Executive Johnny Bravo: Ok, in a nutshell- Rebrand and Retool! I've been tinkering with the formats and, boy, have I got winner in there somewhere!

Chairman: Let's see 'em.

Bravo: Ok, -now we're stuck on this Vernian steampunk kick; here's an alternative-- Tikipunk!!

Chairman: Tikipunk?

Bravo: Keep your eyes on the screen...ok, we open with a catchy sea shanty-type jingle..

Oh, sit right back and you'll hear the tale of of this Gnarlihotep dip..
He started from old Cal-e-don upon this Pirate's ship..
A Three hour tooooourrr...

Really catchy tune, explaining all the characters so no-one has to read the profiles, its all there..

With Gnarligannnn..a Duchess or twoooo
The Darkling muse..and her Kniiife
Mr Bardhaven (Woo-oooo)
The Professor and Terry and
Amber and Kira are


Bravo: Episode 1
Gnarligan finds some radioactive carrots after foll0wing giant rabbit tracks- He takes them to the gorgeous Amber who is busy summoning a spirit (likely an expensive Vodka) and she suggests he advise the professor. Gnarligan is hypnotised by her heaving breasts, but tears himself away and stumbles on, the laugh-track following..

The Professor is hard at work on an arcane bit of scientific invention, when Gnarligan interrupts, The Prof. asks him to wait patiently, and moving backward Gnarligan sits on the etheral travel cabinet which collapses with a crunch. Big laughs! The professor grimaces and shouts Gnarligan off..

Gnarligan takes his news to Mr Bowelhaven instead, who guffaws at him derisively, and demands more Penguin-cream pie, before smacking him on the head with his lead-weighted smacking-cap, the laugh track goes crazy!!

Chairman: Stop! No, this won't work. We've got 3 Mary-Annes and 3 Gingers! How are we gonna work the screen time? No go. Next idea!

Bravo: Ok, scratch that. Let's talk value, bang for your buck! Screw the unions, we can do a reality show- edited nastiness and sex throughout, interviews, starvation, injury, and shivering misery on a sunny island, it's what the people want! It'll be great! Gentlemen, Behold...SURVEYOR : Mysterious Island!!!

Duchess Gabrielle: I was surprised that on our first day here we faced a team challenge, it really got started fast. The challenge was to eat the most repulsive mess you ever saw, we tried hard to choke it down for the team, but I must tell you, it was most insistent on returning, and did so very quickly in my case.

Baron Bardhaven : I have suffered, and caused suffering in my time, but never in quite so perverse a way as the foul feast we were challenged to consume. This shall be a difficult month if this is the level of the challenges, truly!

Kiralette Kelly: I...I..Don't want to talk about it....Don't make me....or I'll kick your shin.

Terry Lightfoot: I don't appreciate being dragged here and disgusted in that way, my goddess! I've lived for hundreds of your earth years and It's been a long time since something that disgusting passed my lips! (Don't you say a damned word, Bardhaven, I'm warning you..!)

Gnarlihotep Abel: Well..I tried to make dinner for everyone the first night, but I don't think it went well...

Giant Killer Bunneh: I just want to get to the killin', myself.

Chairman: Too Cerebral!

Bravo: ?!

Bravo: Ok, here we go, last one-- The castaways wake up stranded on the, time to explore and survive...

Gnarli: Wow, I feel weird- I coulda swore I saw that brush moving...Maybe I should go find Kiralette..

Duchess Eva: I've got a bad feeling about this Island. First the Penguin dream, then the giant killer Rabbits, The Lavaflows, and likely fierce lurking natives...Let's face it, this expedition is.....

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Into the Jaws of Adventure

With fair winds behind us, the Arronax sped quickly to her destination, The Isle of Phillip. The hearty adventures aboard settled in, securing stateroom or cabin as class dictated. I noted that I was the only traveller who had thought to bring a pack-animal (save Baroness Amber, who had brought Millie) and thought this boded ill for my feathered friends, who may now be expected to bear all means of trunks, instruments, and minibars for the more negligent journeyers. But this I consented to, with care for the expedition. Just after my Tribune dispatch was completed, and was safely sent off by pigeon, I heard the short bells calling us to mess.

The Captain, a Frenchman, of most swarthy and unkempt appearance, had invited the nobility to dine; and there, in the captain's mess, gathered the noble gentles for a fine repast, (so I am told.)

The "Salt of the Earth" were relegated to another mess room. Although I had paid the sum requested by Bardhaven (the Commoner's Fare, he called it) the food was unsavory and disappointing. I made conversation with Dr. Sputnik, Miss Lightfoot being away from table, examining the mealy hardtack that we had been apportioned.

The species of weevil represented here amazed me, had I not undertaken this journey, I would likely never have encountered such a variety of parasitic life! There was a fiery Red Flour beetle. These beetles are about 1/8 inch long and reddish-brown in color. Females may live a year or more, dropping up to 500 eggs on infested foods. Small, white worms (larvae) hatch from these eggs and they feed until they're about 1/6 inch long. Under ideal conditions, development from egg to adult takes about two months. This gigantic specimen wriggled with great agility, half buried in the tack.

I looked on with delight as Dr Oolon identified several other fellow travellers in this infestation, noting a Sawtoothed Grain Beetle, Indian Meal Moth larvae, and several variety of Dermestid worms which cavorted amongst the fungus of the hardtack like large legless deer in green swards. The learned Doctor gave classification for each loitering beast as he described their metamorphic habits and unique deviances, and this passed the time well.

Seeming to tire of this taxonomy, I noticed Dr. Oolon staring at my grey shocks of hair and I thought to alieve him of what might be a difficult question to ask, by stating: "I see you are curious about my grey? It is unnatural for one so young, yes, I shall tell you the story of how I came to have it?"

I ignored his "Truthfully, I was staring at a zit.." and I continued. "These shocks were received one terrible night while serving as a sailor on the good ship Boondocks."

"You were on the Boondocks?" He said, interest perking slightly.

"Yes, steaming out of Galveston with a fine load of fish oil destined for Florida, and on a warm July morn, in the Gulf, the boilers blew. 700 men went into the water... the vessel went down in 12 minutes, the ocean slicked by the fishy oil, coating our skin as the clothing was shred from our bodies. Didn't see first Dolphin for about half an hour. Bottlenose, 6-footer. You know how you know that, Dr.? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail. Well, we didn't know. 'Course our Fish-oil mission had been so lucrative, no-one had been told we were out there."

I took a drink of water and continued..

"They didn't even list us overdue for a week. The very first light, Dr, the Dolphins come a-cruisin' -this was their mating ground, and the fish oil slick only made them randier..we tried forming into tight groups, kinda like old squares in the calendars, like at the battle of Waterloo? Where the idea was, Dolphin rubs against the nearest man, and the man managed to pound and hollar and scream...and sometimes the Dolphin'd go away...and sometimes he wouldn't go away, sometimes the dolphin'd look right in your eyes...

You know the dolphin's got purty blue eyes? Like a lamb in softness and sweetness? Those eyes look right into you, well, until they start their rubbing...Savaging... when those eyes narrow and squint with dastardly delight...the men commence a' yelling, and with the beating of the flippers and arms, the ocean turns foamy, and what with all the pounding and the hollering the bottlenoses all come in...and their bottlenoses go where bottlenoses should not venture...

On Thursday morning I bumped into a friend of mine, Harry Roberts, out of Altoona.. Slingo player, Bosun's mate..I thought we was asleep..reached over to wake him up, he just nodded and bobbed up and down, smiling...well...he'd been nuzzled, below the waist. At noon the fifth day a tugboat passed along, a young pilot, much younger than Baron Zealot, happened along and collected us- we had to restrain him from getting in the water too...he was a odd chap, that. Maybe it was the Baron? No...Well, that was the time I was most frightened, seeing that pilot stripping to jump in the water...waiting for my, to get out. Since then I've borne these grey shocks!"

"You were savaged by dolphins?" asked the doctor.
"Nearly, yes...and I have often considered directing my vengeance against the critter that that nearly had me..but I ask myself..

To what Porpoise?"

The doctor paused a moment, then replied "Mr Abel, I must say, conversation with you reminds me of a particular chum."

"Oh? Which chum is that?

"Examine the bucket behind you."

Monday, August 6, 2007

To the Cay

Dispatch- By Pigeon courier

Miss Connolly, I hope this message comes quickly and finds you well.

My trip to Caledon was speedy and safe, and soon I set out with my fowl-of-burden to join the voyage of discovery to the new isle of Phillip.

I paused before leaving Kittywickshire at Kittyswitch, residence of the beautiful former ward of the Bardhaven estate, Miss Kiralette Kelley. I had hoped to see her before I begun the long journey, unfortunately, she was nowhere to be found. I left a note explaining my journey, and conveyed my most tender sentiments and hope for her safety. How I shall miss her!

I pressed on through Caledon's highways, to Mayfair, where, at the Bardhaven house, again I searched for Miss Kelley to no avail. Baroness Bardhaven looked slightly unnerved by the emergence of Phillip, but seemed oddly glowing despite this, and politely offered me a spot of tea before I joined the Baron, who already departed for the Cay to ready the ship for our voyage. I declined, and pressed the wagon on to the Cay.

The ship lay waiting, the loading of provisions having begun, there I found my fellow journeyers- The Noble Duchesses of Carntraigh and Loch Avie, Their Graces Gabrielle and Eva; The Baronesses Amber and Darkling (although the last is a foreign title, I understand), and together with the Baron Bardhaven this formed a very Noble company, indeed. The learned Doctor Sputnik attended as well, with his companion Miss Lightfoot and we together formed the common element of this voyage of discovery. Barnss Amber has brought a decrepit maid-servant, much advanced in years and of questionable reliance.

I summoned my pack-bearers forward, and they seemed to draw much amusement from the onlookers- I took no notice of this, knowing their true worth and usefulness.

Baron Bardhaven deigned to converse with me by asking what wine I would drink with a penguin, I was about to answer that the penguins preferred rum to wine, when our attention was distracted by some fine barrels of provisions coming aboard.

I sensed a familiar scent as it passed, and could not place it though it distracted me greatly.

Unpacking my goods from the Pengis, and relieving them of their burdens, I combed them, then set them to a well-bedded pen, stocked with a bucket of fresh catch, with which they seemed quite content. Finding myself with a bit of time, I lit to the deck and surveyed the Infant Isle closely with a spyglass. Phillip rises into the air from a green, verdant base, a large cone capped intermittently with the flashes of fire that betray looming activity. Rumbles course from the isle, the lands of the Cay echoing it's vibrations in small shocks. Dr Sputnik has advised me the situation is dire, that this activity threatened Caledon as a whole- these calculations have been confirmed by Dr Beaker of the Society, and this danger causes me no little concern.

Around the ring of the base of the Isle I have spied small plumes of smoke that could be taken as campfires and evidence of native presence, but could also be but venting of the volcanic activity, so I draw no conclusions here. Until the isle is set foot upon, we shall not know.

I do assume the isle will not be fit for parcelling, owing to it's unstable and volatile nature. But, then again, I have seen worse lands well-occupied, so we shall see. The Boat now leaves the harbor, and we begin our journey in earnest. As I sit on the barrel of apples that so distracted me, and continues to vex me with a familiar feel, I stare back fondly at the Caledonian shore, wondering if I shall ever see it again...

I close, your servant, etc

G. Abel

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The March to Bardhaven

Packing was completed quickly, assembling weapons, instruments (both scientific and musical) a reference library, stout shoes, food-rations, and many towels. These I shared out to each of my fowly sherpas, not over-burdening their wee frames.

As daylight spread we assembled for the jaunt to Bardhaven's Manse, each bird clucking and chirping happily under their charges, and eager for the journey.

I sped my noble steed, Johnny Thunder, ahead, furiously we charged across the plains and streams of Kittiwickshire, straining forward, unstopping in our gallop, the wind rushing in hair and mane as the yards hurriedly swept underfoot, the quiet morn broken only by a constant thwumping and squealing in our wake...Eventually, I turned to investgate this noise...

The sweet birdy bearers recovered from their bruises and consoled by a fine fish feast, we set out again, this time safely in a Conestoga. I scritched ruffled feathers as we drove along, a cheerful song escaping from my lips, the pengis squwaking along..

"Got a whale of a tale to tell you, birds, a whale of a tale or two-ooo
'Bout the flapping fish and the girls ive met
on days like this 'fore the sun has set
a whale of a tale and it's all true,
I swear by my "hottie" tatoo!

There was dainty Darkling..
twere a mirthsome modelin' maiden
and her eyes so sparkling
evidenced of patience fadin'
Her witchwand quicker than any tombstone gun
when they saw the wand in hand the griefers knew to run

Oh, Got a whale of a tale to tell you, birds, a whale of a tale or two-ooo
'Bout the flapping fish and the girls ive met
on days like this 'fore the sun has set
a whale of a tale and it's all true,
I swear by my "hottie" tatoo!"

(to be continued)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Prologue to Adventure!

My story begins in the bustling town of Tombstone, Arizona. I had returned here, as I often do, to manage certain investments and examine the growth of the town, which is ever-changing and improving upon itself. Not that it is a peaceful or relaxing place; rather, it can be boisterous and murderous if one is thrust into the typical situations of mis-communication that tends to leave slow-to-act strangers either dangling from a rope or staining the street with some bodily fluid or another, too often blood-red, through some misfortune of step or speech. Therefore have I sought a haven from violence here, and found it the reading rooms of the charming and well-armed Miss Connolly, also of Regency, Caledon.

Along with Miss Connolly's station as the editor of the appropriately named town paper "The Epitaph," she also edits a fledgling world-journal of some note "The Connolly Telegraph" devoted to international interest, and covering the doings of many a civilised nation, including Steelhead, Caledon, and others. Above her offices here is a restful library, a den unknown it seems by all but the most erudite locals, and therefore is to me a sanctuary in the storm that Tombstone can be.

In exchange for use of and relief gained by this well-stocked reading room, as shelter to both relax and to review my papers while here, I have agreed to donate time to her International Journal, and aide where suited; and, as this agreement has met with both of our approval, I had once again taken advantage of this offer by stretching out on the library's well-stuffed divan with a volume of Byron, when I heard a summons from Miss Connolly as she worked in her office below..

"Mr Abel??!?"

Hearing the urgent nature of the summons, I quickly trotted downstairs where she bade me sit, with look of import in her expression, she paced a moment, then took seat at her desk across from me. "Esteemed Mr. Abel..." She began.

"Mr Abel, while I do appreciate your efforts and eagerness as illustrator, I really must question the results of your last assignment...Now, you were sent to illustrate the opening of a new haberdashery in town, but the results of this event were...well, not obvious in your depiction. Tell me sir, are you familiar with copper engraving or daguerreotype facsimile?"

I asserted "I am, but did not use that approach for this assignment..."

"Ah, you did use an approach, then?" she rejoined with a hint of sarcasm.

I replied "Yes, Indeed...lately I have been influenced by the schools of Impressionism and Minimalism, and I used a combination of these with my depiction..."

"I see, that explains why the illustration that was submitted to the printer, and reached my readers, of the opening of a hat store...comprised of two small crimson dots in a 6x8 inch square? Frankly, most readers thought they had shut the page on an insect of some sort! Tell me, sir, do you find that depiction to be a clear communication of the Business's opening and products available?" she said, a little testily.

I sputtered a trite "Art...must advance...ummm...see, the one dot was 'commercialism in bondage,' the second represents a great deal on a beaver skin tophat.."

"Mr. Abel..", she interrupted, now caressing her fwc sawed-off shotgun plainly in annoyance. "Mr. Abel, I have a different type of assignment for you that I expect you to be more successful with. I know you are literate, perhaps journalistic record would be more suited to you. Therefore, I have arranged an assignment, and a journey I would like you to partake in."

"Oh?" I said, interested in my life continuing.

"Shocking news has reached us from Caledon, a most unthought-of event has occurred and taken the country by surprise."

"SLRFL is finally over?" I giggled.

She glowered back "SLRFL is a wonderful charity that many people should be thanked for, for working very hard on."

"SLRFL is a wonderful charity that many people should be thanked for, for working very, very hard on!" I agreed instantly.

She continued, "The news I refer to is that a steaming volcanic island has risen from the Sea of Caledon, quite mysteriously, and may contain natives, jungle habitat, and great treasure, for all that is known."

"This is not Regency, then." I spoke, thinking the isle type ill-fitted for a regency romantic theme.

"Not Regency indeed, but a land already dubbed "Phillip" and ready for mapping and inquiry--for, Mr. Abel, --Our readers want to know the vital information! What are the lot sizes and are they pre-booked?!"

I nodded in agreement. "Then you wish me to travel, and investigate, report back, is this right?

"Yes, Immediately. I have pulled some strings with the Caledon Research team to get them to accept, to add your name to their team. You must return to Caledon at once to join them. You will accept this assignment, yes?"

"Certainly," I said "It is the right and good thing to do."

"Bon Voyage, then" she said as I rose and turned for the door. As I stepped outside and mounted my steed, I thought I heard her chuckling evilly, but that may just be the way Miss Connolly chuckles normally, for all I know. Chuckles vary.


I stopped only at the telegraph office to notify the expedition's organizer, Baron Bardhaven, of acceptance and soon arrival, then lit out for a speedy ride to Caledon, to Kittiwickshire to assemble supplies for the journey.

I rode to the north coast and viewed the foreboding new isle, jutting rudely from the placid waters of the Caledon sea. What strange adventures awaited there?

I hurried home, packed a trip-sack, then gathered together my pack-penguins for loading...

Thursday, August 2, 2007