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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

A Sherlock Holmes Fan Fiction… thing? IDEK

November16

So apparently at one point I commenced writing a Sherlock Holmes fan fiction. I found it in my google drive while looking for Secret Chicago stuff. I have no idea where I was going with this, but it’s a big of brotherly bickering between Sherlock Holmes and his eldest brother Sherringford. What was I leading up to? Why is Sherringford wearing dark glasses? What’s happening? What’s Mycroft doing? Is this before Watson (probably)? Was I… was I going to discuss their parents here? Is this even based on the BBC tv show? I can’t remember now.

“Sherry!”
“I’ve told you, SHIRLEY, don’t call me Sherry.”
“But your name’s so long and it saves so much time!”
“It’s disrespectful.”
“It’s a nickname. It’s done out of fondness and brotherly love. How can something so tender and respectful and loving be disrespectful?”
“Because I don’t like it and you know I don’t like it. I’ve asked you to stop calling me that and you are disregarding my wishes… disrespecting them, if you will. It’s disrespectful because you are purposely doing something I dislike. Ass.”
“But it’s respectful to call me an Ass?”
“I call them as I see them, Sherlock.”
Sherlock huffed and flopped onto Sherringford’s bed, sprawled on his back.
“If you dirty my coverlet with your muddy boots, I will flog you.”
“That is an empty threat.”
“Are you willing to test me?”
Sherlock sighed and inched downward a bit, resting his heels on the foot board of the bed. Sherringford shook his head and removed his dark glasses, polishing the lenses on his special glasses cleaning cloth.
“That isn’t much better. Where is Mycroft? I thought you were tagging about after him today.”
“He’s out. He wouldn’t say where he was going.”
“I imagine he’s with a girl, then.”

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100 Words: Duck Burger

September2

Doyle leaned against the counter and wiped his forehead on his arm, which didn’t help because his forehead was wet with sweat and his arm was wet with sweat, so nothing got absorbed. It just got moved around. Redistributed. Kory tossed him a paper towel and he dabbed at himself while Alma busied herself with drinking Gatorade.

“So I guess we’re done for now. Everything’s moved in, the bed’s set up, boxes are all in their right rooms… wanna get a pizza?”

“Pizza gives me heartburn,” Kory put in.

“What? No. What are you, an old man?”

Kory laughed, shaking his head. “It’s the tomato sauce, man! I guess I could get a white pizza or something…” he leaned over and opened the fridge, taking out a coke. He held it against the back of his neck for a moment before popping it open and taking a drink, then held it against his forehead. “We could go to Duck Burger.”

“Ah, no!” Doyle laughed, shaking his head.

“Duck Burger?” Alma looked up, curious. “What’s that?”

Doyle held up a hand.

“It’s just a burger place, nothing special.”

“But why’s it called Duck Burger? Is that just like… a family name or nickname? Do they use duck fat for the fries or something?”

Kory started laughing so hard he almost dropped his soda.

“No… no! It’s just… it’s just burgers and fries. Just a burger place. It’s not even really called Duck Burger, that’s just like a joke name Kory calls it. It’s really called McNally’s on account of it’s owned by a dude named Jim McNally.”

“Well, are they like… shitty burgers?”

“Nah, well, not shitty. They’re ok.”

“I could really go for a burger, actually.”

Kory started laughing again.

“What? What’s so funny, Kor?”

“Don’t even ask him. He’s twelve. Y’hear that, Kory? You’re immature!”

Kory wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

“Whew. Well. Let’s clean up and go. They keep the air on real low, it’s nice there when it’s hot.”

The three of them cleaned up, and went to Duck Burger. As Kory said, the air was real low. The cool air felt good after a long day of lugging furniture and boxes and cleaning. The burgers were good, the fries a little mushy, the cole slaw fantastic. They lingered a bit over cake and coffee, tired to the bone, overly full, not ready to move yet. And then they got up, paid, and parted ways. Kory went home and Doyle and Alma headed back to their new place. They watched a little tv while unpacking a few boxes, and then turned in to bed. As they lay there, cuddled up between clean sheets, getting used to the new space and its shadows, Alma felt a pressure in her lower abdomen.

And then she heard it.

Quaaaaaack.

Quaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

“Scuse,” said Doyle.

And then she smelled it.

“JESUS GOD,” she said, clapping a hand over her nose, and Doyle started laughing and then she started laughing and then it was her turn to fart, long and sustained.

Quaaaaaaaaaaack.

“Oh Goddddd I get it now. You guys are so nasty!”

“Hey, it could be worse,” he said. “We could call it–”

“Don’t say Fart Burger. Don’t. Do not.”

He started laughing again, and she did too, comfortable together.

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Hansel and Gretel

March27

I have a four year old and he is an avid story-hearer. He loves when I tell stories “out of [my] own head” so lately I’ve been obliging with retellings of Fairy Tales. Here is what we’ve settled on for Hansel and Gretel.

Once upon a time there was a family that lived at the edge of the woods. There was a mama and a tata and a boy named Hansel and a girl named Gretel. Their papa was a woodcutter, and he cut firewood and sold it, and made charcoal, and he made furniture. In good times, people from the village bought his firewood and charcoal and furniture and they lived a very good life indeed. But times had been hard lately, and the villagers did not have much money to spend on luxuries like firewood cut by somebody else, and new furniture. So the family had been tending their little garden and hunting in the forest, but their food was running out and winter was coming.

Hansel and Gretel had a long talk one night and decided that the next morning they would go into the forest to seek their fortune, or at least have an adventure. Maybe they would find a treasure, or a would rescue a prince, or would find a berry bush ready to be stripped of berries. They set out early the next morning with their pockets full of small white pebbles, and a hard boiled egg and piece of bread each for breakfast. They munched on their egg and bread as they walked, and dropped pebbles behind them to mark their path, so they wouldn’t get lost on their way home. However, before they found their big adventure, they ran out of pebbles. They decided to keep walking, going deeper and further into the woods.

They were hungry and tired and thirsty and very lost when they came upon a small clearing in the forest. In the middle of the clearing, in the thin light of the setting sun, was a small house that looked like it was made entirely of candy and cookies. They were surprised! Was it a real house, or were they imagining it? Was it real candy, or just something that looked like candy? Hansel and Gretel crept close and found that it was a real house. They touched it, and sniffed it, and licked it, and found it was real candy! They were so hungry that they started eating the house, nibbling on chocolate and cookies and gum drops.

Suddenly, they heard a creaky wavery voice calling out “Nibble, nibble little mouse… who’s that nibbling on my house?”

Hansel panicked and called out “It’s ooooonly the wiiiiiiiiind.” Gretel glared at him. “Only the wind?” she hissed at him. He shrugged. They heard a laugh from inside the house, and the front door swung open. A tiny woman with a crooked back tottered out, leaning heavily on her cane. She had long white braids down to her knees, and a long nose that curved down and a long chin that curved up. She squinted at the children and they gathered, ashamed and afraid, in front of her.

“Now, children, why are you eating my poor little house?”

“Oh, grandmother!” they said. She wasn’t really their grandmother, but she was so old they called her grandmother. “Oh, grandmother! We were just so hungry and tired that we couldn’t help it. We didn’t think anyone lived here. We’re so sorry.”

“Ah, now, children, if you are that hungry you are welcome to come in and share my dinner with me. I have more than enough for the three of us. Come in, come in.” And she gathered them into her snug, well-lit house.

Once inside, the children fell on the food she gave them and devoured it all. They hadn’t eaten so well in months! She served them beef stew and fresh made bread with butter and yellow cheese and cherry pie. They ate until they couldn’t eat any more and she showed them a soft feather bed with big fluffy pillows. They fell asleep immediately on lying down and didn’t wake up until morning.

The next morning they woke up feeling very well rested. Hansel helped the old woman cut wood and weed her garden while Gretel helped dust the house and do the other fine chores the old woman couldn’t see to do well. As they were finishing, the old woman finished making breakfast. She put bacon on the table, and eggs, and biscuits, and cold fresh milk, and roasted apples.

“I suppose your parents will be worried about you,” she said as they ate. They used much better manners this time because they weren’t as hungry.

“Yes, we didn’t tell them we were leaving.”

“Oh, they must be very worried indeed!” she said. “I know I would be, if my darling children vanished.”

“We thought we could find treasure for them, or some food. We’ve been so hungry.”

“I have just the solution for that,” the old woman said. “Gretel, go into the pantry and bring me the big iron pot with a lid on the second shelf.”

Gretel did as told and went into the pantry. She pulled the heavy iron pot with the lid off the second shelf and brought it to the table, where the old woman fussed with it and dusted it with the corner of her apron.

“You must take this pot home with you. It is a magic pot. When you are hungry tap it three times and say “Food please, pot!” and when everyone has eaten you must tap on it once and say “stop, pot, stop!” Do this and you will never be hungry.”

The children were amazed and exclaimed over this, and Gretel said “I am sure we can’t accept such a valuable gift, grandmother.”

“Nonsense,” said the old woman. “Take it and use it and think of me when you do. I hate to think of you going hungry when this pot could help you. Now, you must be on your way home. I will call my brother Wolf and he will escort you. It is a long way and you are deep in the forest. He will see you home safe.”

She went to the front door and opened it and howled a long and shivery howl that made the hair on the backs of Hansel and Gretel’s necks stand on end. Soon a wolf, the biggest grey wolf the children had ever seen, padded silently into the kitchen. The old woman stood.

“Brother Wolf, these are my friends Hansel and Gretel. Their father is the wood cutter who lives in the grey house at the edge of the woods. Please help them safely home.”

He dipped his big head to her and she fed him the last of the bacon and he licked his chops and then walked out of the house. The children quickly hugged the old woman and then ran after the wolf. He lead them quietly along a narrow path through dappled sunlight. They walked and walked through sun and shade, beneath whispering leaves, until they caught sight of their home. They smiled when they saw it, and when they looked for the wolf to thank him, he was gone. They ran as quickly as they could to their house, carrying the pot between them. Their parents were so happy to see them, and hugged them and kissed them and scolded them for running away, and then hugged and kissed them again. Gretel put the pot on the shelf and almost forgot about it as she and Hansel helped their parents with chores.

Night soon fell, and it was time for dinner. All they had was a bit of oatmeal and some dried apples. The family was very hungry and sad at how little food there was. then Gretel remembered the magic pot.

“Oh, we have the magic pot!” she said. Her parents asked her what she was talking about. “We met an old woman in the woods who fed us and gave us a safe place to sleep, and then gave us a magic pot. It creates food.”

Her father scoffed.

“There’s no such thing as magic,” he claimed. “That’s just an old iron pot.”

“No, no,” she said. “It’s magic. I’m sure of it. She wouldn’t lie about magic.”

“Old women are frequently confused. She probably just thinks it’s magic.”

“No, no. It’s magic, I’m very sure,” said Gretel. And she took the pot and set it on the table and tapped it three times. “Food please, pot!” she asked. And very soon good smells filled their kitchen. Gretel whisked the lid off the pot, and it was filled with thick beef and barley soup. Her parents exclaimed happily, and they all ate several bowls. The pot filled itself up each time. When they had eaten their fill, Gretel tapped on the pot and said “Stop, pot, stop!” and when she peeked inside the pot it was empty and clean. Hansel cleared the table and washed the dishes, and the family slept well with full bellies that night.

In the morning, the pot produced oatmeal with apples and walnuts and again they ate their fill. And then Gretel thought of the people in the village. If their family was suffering hunger, surely others were as well? She and Hansel had a long talk, and they took the magic pot into town where they fed everyone who came and asked for food.

They did this every day for months, through all of the long cold winter and into the spring. As summer came, the situation of the village changed for the better. As the villagers had more money to spend they remembered the kindness of the wood cutter’s family, and they went back to buying their fire wood and charcoal from them, and getting new furniture from them. Good times returned to the wood cutter’s family and they were comfortable till the end of their days.

The End

Faerie World Building: Cat Sidhe

January2

The Cat Sìth (Scottish Gaelic: [k?aht? ??i?]) or Cat Sídhe (Irish: [kat?? ??i?]) is a fairy creature from Scottish mythology, said to resemble a large black cat with a white spot on its breast. Legend has it that the spectral cat haunts the Scottish Highlands. Some common folklore suggested that the Cat Sìth was not a fairy, but a transformed witch.

The myths surrounding this creature are more common in Scottish Folklore, but a few myths occur in Irish folklore as well.

From Wikipedia.

The Cat Sidhe, in Faerie, has two forms: a stocky, powerful, bipedal fur-covered form with large teeth, claws, and tail; and a large stocky mountain cat type form. Cat Sidhe are skilled trackers, hunters, and guards who live in the Winter Court. Like most Fey in the Winter Court, they are more reserved than the Summer Court. Unlike most Fey, the Cat Sidhe are not immortal. They have long life spans, but they still age and die. Further, Ice Trolls (which do not live in Faerie) prize their pelts and hunt and kill them when they can.

When Cat Sidhe cross Iron Side, they are consigned to either a fully human looking form (bipedal, no fur, no fangs, no claws, no tail) or fully cat. They tend to prefer the cat form, as the human form leaves them feeling naked and defenseless. The longer they spend Iron Side, the more likely they are to be stuck in that form. As a human shaped Cat Sidhe cannot cross back into Faerie, this poses a problem.

Cat Sidhe do not tend to take part in political intrigue. Although intelligent, they are not devious or overly secretive (any more than any other feline influenced race).

Cat Sidhe, with their limited life span, do experience pregnancy– which is rare among Faerie. Females have 1-3 litters in their life time, of 3-7 kits. Generally, more males than females are born and survive. Cat Sidhe are able to interbreed with other fertile Fey creatures and humans, although it’s unlikely. Their offspring generally take after the non Cat Sidhe parent, although this is not always true, and are usually sterile.

036 Black Cat

December17

There’s a small elementary school not far from Balmoral Race Track, in the distant South Suburbs of Chicago, not far from Indiana. Near that school was an abandoned church, which was torn down in the late 1990s after a series of disturbing events.

During the late 1980s and very early 1990s, locals were very disturbed to find cats nailed to the door of the church on what seemed to be random dates. Concerned parents set themselves up in deer blinds to try and catch the perpetrator or perpetrators, however no one was ever caught in the act. Further, nobody in the vicinity ever reported their pets going missing, leading some to deduce that the perpetrators were either using barn cats or feral cats (tricky animals to catch), or else importing cats from miles away.

Parents and teachers admonished local children about witchcraft and satanism, warned them to stay away from grave yards and strangers, and chalked the proceedings up as an unsolved mystery.

One bright autumn morning in 1991, two teens walking through the woods found a wallet. Opening it, they found no ID or credit cards, but they did find money and condom still in its wrapper. One of the pair took out the money and then pocketed the wallet, resolving to turn it in to the cops after their walk– a walk that was interrupted by them tripping over what turned out to be the nude, half-eaten corpse of a young man. Most of his face was gone, as were his hands, making indentifcation difficult. The forensic examiner determined that the majority of bite marks on him were feline in nature, but was unable to determine cause of death. No more cats were found nailed to the church door, and it stood abandoned until it began listing to one side, under the effects of winter and neglect.

It took a while to resolve ownership of the building, but it was condemned and torn down. The small cemetery attached to it remains, and continues to be a local hang out for teens escaping parental supervision.

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035 Organ

December15

The stretch of houses on St. Louis between Lawrence and the River is primarily brick two and three flats. One of these, a dark red brick two flat with the front porch converted to an enclosed sun room, and blown roses leaning limply against the iron fence, is frequently host to odd music. Passers by notice this music at random hours of the day and early evening, rarely at night. It sounds like a polka played one and a half times normal speed, on an organ. Nobody in the neighborhood plays the organ, and although pedestrians and neighbors pinpoint the music’s location consistently as being this particular house, those within the house claim never to hear it while indoors.

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Secret Chicago/Fiction updates

December15

I’m cutting back Secret Chicago updates to twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I just couldn’t maintain an every day schedule… the ideas clogged up in my brain arteries. The habit of writing at least 100 words every day was a good one, though, and one that I need to continue.

Does anyone have suggestions for short story publications, especially horror, that I can submit actual short stories to? I’ve been doing research on my own, but do you have a favorite magazine or webzine that you read or submit to? If so, please comment with links/info.

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034 Zebra Mussels

December4

In 1988, a Russian vessel mistakenly emptied its bilge into Lake St. Claire. The living contents of that bilge water migrated through the great lakes, some of it ending up in Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

Every few summers since then, residents of Chicago notice that the water, which comes from the Lake, tastes odd. Some describe it as “greenish” tasting, or “almost grassy.” The City issues bulletins and news casters make announcements. The water is safe to drink, the water is perfectly fine. There is simply an overgrowth of zebra mussels, which affects the water’s taste but nothing more.

While zebra mussels are an invasive species that have fundamentally changed the nature of the lake, and while they do have life cycles that rise and fall, it is not the zebra mussels that change the taste of the water.

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033 CTA

December3

It is somewhat surprising, perhaps, that despite the large number of deaths due to accident, murder, and suicide, that the CTA trains are not thickly haunted. Some theorize that the electrified third rail keeps spirits at bay, the live electricity having the same effect running water is said to have on supernatural entities.

Buses, however, are a different matter.

Henry Collins had the night route for the 92 Foster bus. It was a nice night, clear and calm, and ridership was low. He was heading westbound when he pulled over for someone waiting at Pulaski. The passenger boarded the bus, a girl “about 11 or 12 years old,” wearing a red pea coat, dark grey pleated skirt and knee socks, black shoes, and no hat. She laughed and dashed down the aisle, ignoring his “fare, miss.” and taking a seat at the back of the bus. Mr. Collins, a large man, stood up and went down the aisle after her. She startled visibly as he approached her, and to his utter amazement, vanished.

Although he kept his eyes open, Mr. Collins never saw his ghostly rider again on the Foster route.

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032 Knock

December2

The unseen preys most heavily on those who are alone: those who are alone for the night, and those who spend their lives alone. Prey animals are most vulnerable when separated from the rest of the herd, after all.

When alone, one might barely hear a soft knock at the door. The sound is so faint that one will pause and listen again. It is odd, how so faint a sound can carry through whatever else one is doing. The knock will come again, weak, slightly louder. There may be a compulsion to check the door, to check the lock, to check the chain. There may be a compulsion to open the door and see what brushes against it.

Do not open the door.

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