Monday, December 29, 2008

swelled as the women turned on the Captain. 'I don't understand,' her eyes narrowed. 'In all the books when you kill the vampire that infected the rest, they all lose their powers ...' She cocked her bespoke Remington 870 Police Combat rifles and checked the magazine tubes. There was no way she had enough silver bullets left for all of them. Her hand shook slightly on the trigger. 'It wasn't him Joe, we've been tricked,' she yelled over her shoulder. He held her gaze for a moment, remembered that summer they had spent training in the desert together, the nights huddled close for warmth on the frozen sands beneath a sky of endless stars. 'Go,' she said. 'Find him ... or her ... find the one who started all this.'

'I can't leave you,' Joe broke off a chair leg and drove it through the back of Dilys from the bakery as she reached hungrily towards the Captain. She disintegrated just as one immaculate hand touched her arm.

'We've been in worse situations than this,' the Captain raised her chin, smiled briefly. 'Trust no one but the dwarves. Go with them, Joe, save the boy. You need to find the person who started all this.' Her eyes narrowed as the women closed in. 'Don't worry about me, I can handle this ...
His inhumanely beautiful eyes danced with the light of the burning flames.

"You have lost, my Giant Queen. We will conquer the world, my beautiful slaves and I."

The Captain spared no glance for the marauding vampires. "Fuck that," she said, and blew a hole through his head with a silver bullet. Then, she stepped up closer, and brought her second gun to bear... blowing what was left of his head to a fine mist of red.

His body slumped to the floor, and the blood frenzy throughout the room

Fire


As Violet's body slumped in Monsieur's arms, flames engulfed McGilligans. The dwarves ran for the exit, clambering over Randy's body. Joe watched in horror as his father transformed from a wild eyed drunk to a bloodthirsty vampire in his arms. The Captain swung her pistols in a slow arc around the bar, uncertain where to shoot first as the women turned, howling with blood lust, clawing their way towards the dark Master. The Captain needed Joe now. As she cocked her pistols he yelled 'No!' releasing his hold on his father. Bill leapt forward towards her with superhuman strength. The bullet caught him mid-air. Joe staggered to his feet as his father fell to the floor, turning to dust before his eyes.
Magdalena caught at his sleeve as she ran for the door. 'Come with us, there's a boat waiting' she said. 'Jack has the boy, you must save your son!'
'But Violet!' he cried.
'It's too late, boy. She was a half blood. Only dwarves are immune to the power of the dark mask.'
Joe's face crumpled. 'I don't understand ...'
'I'll explain later.' She took Joe's hand dragging him from the bar. 'Don't you see? She's sacrificed herself for her child. She always said she would if it came to it. The Captain and her troops will sort this lot out. Only we have the recipe, and only James has the ability to save the world from this ever happening again. We need you to protect us.'
Joe's crazed eyes flickered from Swotsy where she straddled some poor man by the bar, feeding hungrily, his limp body jerking beneath her. He took one last look at Sister Margaret who was on her knees praying by the pool table, fighting the blood lust with every ounce of her beautiful soul.

Violet's arms hung limp now, and Monsieur raised his face towards the Captain ...

That was when Violet awoke from her delirium caused by the rapid healing of her bullet wound, too see all the beautiful women around the bar, the dwarves and their precious blood, and the police, stunned by these revelations.

It had been a dream.

But the Monsieur was not.

"It IS all about belief," she said. Glancing quickly at Magdalena and remembering all her lessons about the power of dreaming, and how answers can come in the most seemingly ridiculous moments.

She stood up and she was strong. The only evidence of her bullet wound the jagged hole in her red dress, and the dark stain down her front.

She stepped towards The Monsieur.

"Belief," she said. "You had us believe that you had power over us. But you do not."

"Out of the way, girl!" The Amazon captain growled.

"He is nothing to be afraid of," Violet simply said, and with that, she embraced him as his teeth bit into her neck.



beautiful Swotsy, fleetest of foot of all the Dark Circle became mortal and began to disintegrate before her eyes. Even her size 46s couldn't escape the ravages of time ....

Belief

The Monsieur hissed.
Suddenly the doors of The Neptune Bar [and tea-rooms] opened again and in staggered Bunty with a heavy tray of freshly baked macaroons for the Monsieur.
" What's all this nonsense about a Bog-Unicorn? Everybody knows that the Bog-Unicorn is a mythical creature and that it's blood is made from lemon curd and a sprinkle of nutmeg. The only thing that keeps a mythical beast such as a Bog-Unicorn alive is belief. Belief in the implausible; belief in the impossible."
And as her words registered with the collection of dwarves, humans and the Amazon, all the women began to wrinkle and age . . .
Violet screamed as Swotsy . . .
And then the door to the pub crashed open and in stepped a gloriously blond Amazon, aiming two gleaming silver pistols at the Monsieur. She was at least six foot six, and every curve on her was exaggerated, her tiny rock hard waist, her bountiful bosoms that pulled at the constraints of her button down shirt, her ass, oh her ass with it's firm and rippled glutes that reminded Swotsy of nothing less than a prize race horse. Her muscled shoulders filled the door frame.

All the little people looked up at her and gasped. As did Swotsy. Poor confused Swotsy, her head spun, her loins burned.

The Monsieur, however narrowed his eyes and stalked the floor. Dwarves scattered to all corners.

There was no time for confusion. Swotsy pulled her weapon, as did all the other police in the room and the Monsieur just laughed.

"Those will not harm me." He tossed the nearest police man into the wall, and he grunted and slid down to the floor, unconscious. The hail of bullets that followed, he just laughed off. When it quieted, and the dwarves all peeked from behind their cover,

The blond goddess spoke. "But mine will. They are silver... that would be poison to your system wouldn't it?"

"The Giant Queen!" they dwarves whispered in awe from their hiding places. "The Giant Queen."

From her great height, the Amazon, looked down upon them and the whispers ended.

"I've got your back, Captain Velkiris. I don't know how you knew what was going on, but I'm ready," Joe said, his trusty gun warm in his hand.

"Stand down, Sargeant," she said, her steely eyes never leaving the Monsieur's. "I sent you in here without knowledge and without the proper equipment. Your bullets will just pass through him. If I had prepared you, if you had known, the Monsieur would never have exposed himself by following you in here. I needed you to be too attractive to his needs. I needed you as bait. And he was, wasn't he, Monsieur?"

The Monsieur hissed.

Monsieur

CJ defiantly took a step up his ladder. 'Now see, dwarves and bog unicorns have a symbiotic relationship going back to the dawn of time, we do ...' he glared at Daisy.

'Really ..?' Mr Tweedy chewed the end of his pipe. 'How ... fascinating.'

'Aye,' CJ folded his arms. 'It's like the Masai and their cattle. We take just enough blood to cure all our ills, and in exchange we keep them safe, give them all the food they need. The fact we are eternally beautiful ... well that's just a bonus.' He tossed his head of luxuriant blonde curls.

'Is it true they eat only Northumbrian moss?' the man asked, smoothing his ginger beard.

'Precisely,' CJ waved a perfectly smooth little index finger at him. 'That's why Gideon Stone bought half the county. They're safe there in a secret location known only to our dwarf princes ...'

'Moss my arse,' Bill snarled from the floor where Joe still had him in a headlock. 'Takes too fricking long to pick the stuff. Let the unicorns starve. Much quicker to kill dwarves ...' Joe tightened his grip, Bill's legs writhing in the sawdust.

'No, let the dwarf speak,' Mr Tweedy, slowly placed his pipe on the counter. 'So, where precisely are these unicorns?'

'Now why would I be telling you that ...?' CJ began to say, as the man ran his hands through his ginger hair.

'Because if you don't, the life of every dwarf man, cat and hamster in this godforsaken town is mine ...' he hissed as he ripped away his latex mask.

'Monsieur!' Bill gasped ...

A Biological Anomaly

'Bog Unicorn,' by Ursula Vernon - click for more info

the blood of a bog unicorn."

"But I thought they were extinct!" This, from a tweed-jacketed bloke down the end of the bar who looked like he might know what he was talking about. He puffed authoritatively on a long clay pipe, as though for emphasis.

"Well now, old fellow," CJ said, his eyes twinkling, "maybe if you knew as much about dwarfish culture as you did about zoology you might not be so hasty to judge."

"Shut yer piehole, CJ!" said Daisy. "You've said enough for one evenin' and I don't care if you're back from the dead or just back from the loo."

CJ's Secret Ring

"CJ's not dead ma'am, he's drunk as a skunk and perched half way up his old man's Ikea ladder behind the bar."

Everybody in the dimly lit bar gasped and immediately turned to face the bar. CJ sat precariously on the step-ladder, blood dripping from his wounded arm.

"Randy always was a crap shot," he sniggered; his eyes were heavy and drowsy; his words mumbled and slurred.

"I've still got this ring, though. Do any of you know what's in this ring? Look."

All the people in the bar OOO-ed and AHH-ed as they clustered around the Ikea ladder. Daisy and Kitten kindy held it steady as CJ took a ruby ring from his pocket, everybody watched as he dislodged the fake stone from it's setting and took out a tiny box which had been hidden beneath.

"In this box is a piece of paper that was ripped from an ancient recipe book. This is the ingredient that will save dwarves of all species. The Monsieur thought the secret ingredient was based on the genes of dwarves, but you can get the exact same age defying, pentapeptide effect from . . .

"Bill picked up the gun, you see," Daisy said, slanting her eyes back and forth, conspiratorily, and then he pointed it at Randy and he just fell down!" She said it like alittle girl telling secrets at a sleep over.

But her identical twin Kitten, dressed in abbreviated black leather, instead of Kitten's white lace and feathers, smacked her on the back of the head with her tiny clutch purse.

"Wot!" Daisy cried.

"You great ninny!"Kitten growled. "Bill didn't just fall down! That bloomin beefsteak boy Joe tackled him. I never thought he had it in him, what with how scrawny he'd been in high school, but he brought his big old drunk daddy down to the floor and whipped that gun away from him." Kitten chewed on her black painted acrylic tips, looking at Swotsy thoughtfully. "It's almost as if someone's been giving him a magic potion that made him so big and hunky and gorgeous--" Kitten gasped as her eyes went wide. Kitten was not nearly as good at maintaining a poker face as Detective Inspector Swotsy Smith-Jones, but then, that was why Swotsy was a detective inspector, and Kitten just wiggled her miniature ass in front of horny dwarf lovers.

Swotsy glared at Kitten as the officers around her continued to examine the crime scene. "So how did Randy get shot?"

"Well, I'm not sure," Kitten said, looking down at the floor.

"I told you I knew!" Daisy jumped in, practically wiggling in joy as Swotsy's attention swerved back to her. "Y'see, they were fighting and knocking each other about, and Joe gets the gun--"

"And Joe yells, 'we keep him alive to answer for his sins!'" Kitten yelled, getting another glare from Daisy. "I remember."

"So who pulled the trigger?"

The dwarf twins exchanged looks and shrugged. "Don't know," they said in unison.

Just then, Assistant D.I. Manders came barreling in the door. Swotsy looked at him, thinking, well, he definitely has had no magic potion.

"Detective Smith Jones," he said. "We found CJ Burke. He's not dead."

"What?" Swotsy asked, sitting up straight. The entire bar, witnesses all and mostly dwarves, leaned forward in attention.

"CJ's not dead ma'am, he's

Saturday, December 27, 2008

ADMIN: Wordle


For anyone wanting a little random inspiration here's our Wordle: http://www.wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/409611/Burning_Lines_08

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Crushing Dance

Randy looked on as Joe and Violet swirled around the dance floor at a hectic pace. A sugarpush followed by an underarm turn, a kick ball change and a Lindy whip lift and then . . . a throwout and Violet flew through the air . . . and before Randy knew it he could feel Violet's muscular thighs crushing his windpipe . . .
Randy grappled with Violet, aroused and choking at the same time, he somehow managed to loosen her grip. Violet fell backwards onto the floor. Randy struggled for his gun and had Joe in his sights. But Vi, as ever, was too quick for Randy and with a simple star jump that she'd learnt at aerobics, she jumped and kicked Randy hard on the side of the head.

"Of course what happened after was all a bit of a blur . . . but the gun landed at Bill's feet . . . " Said Kitten to Swotsy sometime later.

"I know what happened." Said Daisy confidently.

"Come on then, from where Bill picked up the gun."

Daisy looked at Swotsy, happy to be of service to her idol,

"Well it was like this . . .

Randy by name

Randy by nature. That was always the joke at school. Everyone knew about Randy. What is it they say? Those who protest too much? Always on at Swotsy because she was good at football. Always too keen to wrestle with Joe. Now, watching them take positions again, Randy's hand shook on the trigger.

Daisy stubbed out her cigar and flicked a coin over to Kitten. She slipped it into the Wurlitzer by the bar knowing just which song Vi and Joe would want. It was their tune.

A reverent hush fell on the bar as they began to move. Joe's graceful, unearthly strength, Vi's feline flexibility. They circled one another like panthers. As Vi performed a triple flip across the bar-room floor, Joe caught her easily in his arms, her smooth caramel thighs wrapped round his waist. Her head rested for a moment on his shoulder - cheek against collarbone, parting lips, darting tongue over aching canines. As Violet blinked it was like she could see the blood coursing in Joe's jugular only a couple of centimetres from her mouth. Ultra-violet that's what the women called her. If you ever needed to find a vein, Vi was your girl.

'I love you Violet,' Joe whispered hoarsely as he spun around and around. She knew this was the time for her to lean back into the twirl, fling her arms back away from him when every cell in her body hungered for him. Her thighs tensed. Something else - the woman, not the hunger in her, surfaced. She looked at him, her pupils fathomless and black. 'We can leave, just you, and me, and James, it's not too late ...'

'It is Joe.' As she straightened up, and the room revolved around and around them, blurring and spinning, she whispered, 'it's too late for me.'

'No,' Joe tightened his grip on her. 'My mission. Your father's mission ...'

'Jack?' Vi's eyes snapped open.

'He's not your real father Vi. I found out a couple of years ago. He was Special Ops, just like me, but he's been under cover right from the beginning. This goes back centuries Vi. This time we have a chance to catch the big man himself. Jack loved you like a daughter,' Joe whispered in her ear as they caught their breath before the big lift. 'But there was a switch. Bitsy and Gideon ...'

'Gideon Stone? He was my father?'

Joe glanced quickly at Randy to check he still stood at the other end of the bar. As he turned away from Vi, backing towards Randy, one leg swung lazily behind the other. 'Jazz hands!' he hissed. Vi, stumbling, began to shimmy.

'Only biological,' Joe whispered as they grapevined. 'He hoped, as a Dwarf Prince ...'

'Dwarf Prince?'

'You know, like the Romany's have princes?'

'I had no idea ...' Vi slipped her arm around Joe's muscular waist and they span together, his arm around her, his beautiful face smiling sadly down at her.

'He hoped with pure dwarf blood he'd put an end to this curse, this hunger that has plagued women for centuries ...'

'The hunger?' Vi bluffed.

'Eternal youth,' Joe's eyes narrowed. 'Women will spend anything on face creams, that's how the Monsieur came to hear about the Creme de Nain - the dark face mask, the extraordinary beauty of the women on this part of the coast. He had no idea what he had started. Women will do anything ...'

'You have no idea,' Vi licked her lips. As they danced, she could smell him, his warm tanned skin like a perfect crust, like creme brulee, and beneath the hot sweet blood.

'Vi, look at me.' Joe cupped her hand in his face. The routine was reaching its climax. 'I know.' She hissed, baring gleaming fangs. Part of him wanted her to bite him then. Then he would be with her, and she with him, and he would be just like his father Bill. Bill, who had brought all of this trouble here after he picked up a lone traveller one night on his run north from Suffolk to the Irish ferry. Monsieur he called himself. An Eastern European. Just passing through. Transyllvania, originally, he said. Bill picked up hitchhikers all the time in his lorries. A bit of conversation helped to pass the time, he said.

Like the stars in the heavens falling into alignment, the hunger of Bill's passenger, and his mother's fabled beauty recipes using Irish bog mud (some called them spells, but not to Bill's face) met in a coastal seaside town of circus folk famed for its warm radioactive waters.

'I know what you are Vi. I know what my father has done to all the women in this town ...'

'Go!' she hissed. Her eyes were like pinpricks now, the irises glowing emerald green. 'He's just a pawn. It's the Monsieur you have to stop. He knows what women will do to preserve their beauty. If the secret Creme de Nain goes into worldwide production, mankind is doomed and vampires will rule the earth, just as the books have warned. Save mankind, Joe.' For a moment, he saw the girl he had never stopped loving, heard their laughter in the backyard, felt the warm summer air embrace them as they danced together one last time. 'Save yourself, save our son. There's a boat coming at midnight to take the next boatload of dwarves to safety.'

'Why? Why do you still save them?'

'It was a promise to Gideon, just before the dwarf catcher ... Randy,' Vi glanced over Joe's shoulder, 'killed him. It's too late for us. The women of this town are doomed to eternal beauty, but in exchange we take only what we need to survive - dwarf cats, hamsters ... Bill still thinks the nuns are catching people ...'

'No,' Joe shook his head. 'He's a monster.'

'We all are,' Violet tossed her hair. To Joe as he began to back away from her for their final lift, she had never been more beautiful.

'I love you Joe,' she whispered. 'Swotsy will help you. Take our son, you must get away tonight. James is the real key, don't you see? Second generation. He is the end to the hunger.'

Joe shook his head. 'I can't leave you.'

Violet tilted her head, a sad smile playing across her lips, her arms outstretched to him as he backed away. Joe stopped a couple of paces in front of Randy. It was like he could feel the barrel of the gun between his shoulder blades. 'Go,' she mouthed, as she ran towards him. Joe braced himself, ready to take her in his arms one last time, to lift her free. But the moment his strong hands touched her stomach, felt the muscles flex beneath his fingertips he knew she had something else in mind.

Vi used Joe's arms like a vaulting horse, flipped over and kicked Randy hard on the side of the head just as he pulled the trigger. Vi took a bullet for Joe. But it wasn't a silver bullet, unfortunately for Randy. As she crumpled to the floor, she shook her head, touched her wounded heart, licked her fingertips. At the scent of fresh blood, every woman in the bar turned towards him. Randy's eyes widened in horror as the gun fell to the floor, spun towards the door and landed at Bill's feet ...

He didn't know why he did it. It was a nonsensical choice, the opposite of everything he had ever learned in the Special Forces. It was almost as if he was possessed by the spirit of his mother. He could hear her voice in her head, as she led him through the routine, just like she had when he was little. Oh, those days were the best days, his mom, in her sober moments, in the yard of the house, teaching Joe and Violet the routine that they would perform every year for the Christmas pageant.

He remembered how their little circus number had made Randy feel uncomfortable. They had always laughed at him for it, but he could see the deep unease in his eyes when they did it. Right now, Randy thought he was in control, covered in blood, holding Bill's old gun steady on the pair of them. Gloating.

He whispered into Violet's ear, "remember the lift."

A flash of understanding entered into her tear stained, shocked eyes, and all she had to do was blink to tell him she knew what he wanted. And then, with a tensing of his muscles and an effortless grace on her part, they started the routine.

Randy

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

While Randy bragged about murder, Joe was getting into position to whirl Violet around the dancefloor...

Monday, December 22, 2008

It was up to Violet. That was the one thing she knew, when the Council introduced her to the black mask and told her all the secrets that hid in Little Hampton Point Valley. That summer, her beauty, which had been considerable to start with, suddenly seemed to entrap every male who looked at her, she knew she had the power to free Joe.

And that night, behind the bar, with their few, brief stolen moments, her heart was breaking, even as she lay twisted in his arms in the shadows, with a brawl going on just outside.

"Joe," she said, and she knew she could do this. "I don't love you." The words were cold and strong, although she was weeping inside. She thought maybe it was the powers of the black mask that allowed her to be not quite human. She looked at his face, flushed from sex and love, and all of a sudden she wanted to bite that throbbing vein in his neck. Her cool evaporated. She leaned in to him to smell the blood pulsing through his body.

"I don't love you, Joe," the words were a vicious hiss as she tried to control the bloodlust. They had warned her, the council, but this was the first time she had felt it. "I won't ever marry you."

"What?" He said, dazed, confused. This did not make sense. What about the summer that seemed to last forever and fill with with joy? "That's not true Vi." He said. He saw her clench her hands together and grit her teeth.

"I was USING you," she spit out, "to make my father jealous. Obviously it worked. I am done with you."

"No, Vi..."

"Yes, I don't ever want to see you again. No one does. Even your mother can't stand to be around you. Why do you think she drinks so much. She tells everyone at the bar what a waste you are when she's on one of her benders and you're not around." Violet had gotten control of herself finally and was spilling all that hunger and heat into her words, watching the reactions on Joe's face. The hunger was feeding off of his pain, but inside, Violet thought that she would never have happiness again. She was not good enough to be happy. She was not good enough to have Joe in her life.

"Face it," she said as she rearranged her clothes and pulled bottle caps out of her mussed hair. "There's no reason for you to even be alive." With that, she stormed off. She ran home and threw herself on the bed to cry and cry and cry.

But he didn't know that. All he knew was that he had to get out of this town. He snuck out the kitchen door (everyone was still watching Bill and Jack brawl, so there were no witnesses) and disappeared into the night. No one ever saw him again...

Until 7 years later.

And here he was, with Violet's arms wrapped around him, watching her sob. And he knew. He knew without knowing how he knew that she really did love him and always had. What he didn't know was why she had lied all those years ago and why she had chased him away.

"What are we going to do?" she asked him, their hearts beating as one as their chests pressed together. "My father has kidnapped our son."

The fury rose in him and his hands itched for his gun. That was when the door burst open.

Randy stood there, covered in blood, holding a gun.

He should have been shocked, he should have reached for that gun in his waist holster, but oddly, what came out of his mouth was, "That's my father's gun."

Randy smiled, cold and hard. "I know. I took it off your brother Clive when I shot him."

"You!" Violet gasped.

"That's right. I'm the Dwarf Catcher. You thought I was too stupid to be a danger. You thought I was so stupid you wouldn't even look at me, not the way you're looking at him," he waved the gun at Joe. "Or the way you look at that freak Swotsy. She's a lesbian, you know, Joe. She's never going give it up to you again."

"You don't know what you're getting into, Randy. Don't listen to the Monsieur. He's using you."

"Oh, no more than I'm using him," Randy said and smiled. "And I do know what I'm getting in to. You bitches on the freak side of town always thought you were better than anyone else, and now I know why. Oh yes. CJ told me all about it, thinking he was saving me. Then I shot him. One more dead dwarf to send to the Monsieur."

While Randy bragged about murder, Joe was getting into position

Friday, December 19, 2008

turned to Margaret. She thought of Bill, of that one kiss that had sent the blood rushing in her veins like lava. When he chose Wilma, then Alice over her, she was devastated. That was when she entered the order. Still, her face betrayed no emotion. It was an impassive, beautiful mask. 'Joe must go,' she said. 'It's no good. We hoped he, Clive, or one of the girls would be the answer, but the hunger is still there. Maybe if Clive and the girls had a child ...'
'No!' Bitsy said. 'It's too risky.'
'We've dabbled enough,' Magdalena said. 'Anyway, I've seen the way Rowena looks at Clive. Leave them be. Let dwarves be with dwarves.'
'Then Joe ...' Margaret mused.
'No!' Alice said sharply. 'I know he loves Vi, but I won't let him be destroyed, not like all of us.'

That night before she set off for McGilligans, Alice held her son close, knowing she had little time left with him. It was the only way to keep him safe. She thought of his beauty, the way men and women were drawn to him. She had seen the way Randy looked at him sometimes, always goading him into Greco Roman wrestling on the beach ...


Only little Clive understood what it meant to have a face that stopped traffic. When she saw them laughing together, she wished she could tell Joe Clive was his big brother. But Joe could never know.
He had to leave before he too fell prey to the black mask, the desire to keep that beautiful face just the way it was. People would do anything for eternal beauty. Why, they'd sell their soul. He'd be fine, Alice told herself. His unnatural strength and circus skills would come in handy in any number of jobs ...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Council of the Black Mask

That was when the girls learned about the terrible hunger the Black Mask incited in its daughters.

"No they are too young," Bitsy had argued before the council introduced the mask to Violet and Swotsy early that summer. And the council had nodded, knowing what a heavy price the mask demanded.

That was when Sister Margaret stood up.

This was the Black Council, and it was the one place that Sister Margaret could be free of the secrets that plagued her life.

"This is the only thing I have to give my daughter," her voice echoed in the suddenly quiet room. "For eighteen years I have had to hide the fact that I even bore a child. Even her name that I gave her has been forgotten for that ridiculous nick name. Swotsy Mondy." She spat on the floor in disgust. "I seduced Gideon Stone would be the answer to the blood price, but his blood and his seed was too weak. Magdalena was wrong."

Magdalena, Rowena's aged and still beautiful mother shook her head. "We were never sure about him. It was your own yearning, Margaret."

Sister Margaret frowned, and even that did not dissipate her loveliness. "Neither was that Bill the answer!" she spat.

"He was never the man that I thought he could be," Alice said. Then looked sister Margaret in the eye, "But I know that you still wanted to be chosen for him. Don't you deny it. You always wanted him, even when just a girl."

Margaret looked away.

"Bill was not the answer to our struggle," Magdalena said. "Wilma's son, Alice's son, and your secret daughter Swot-- Monica, they were the result of our risk. All for naught. The hunger remains for human blood. My prophecy was wrong and I am sorry for it. I must have misread the signs."

"But my son..." Alice said. "He could be the key!"

"We cannot depend on another man to remove the curse of the blood lust from the blessing of beauty. We must do this ourselves. The girls must be introduced, and the boy--"

Magdalena stood up. They all had to look down to see her, but that did not matter.
"The boy must leave," Magdalena said and the women of the council...

The Sex Scene (part 3)

The Sex Scene (part 2)

"The sex scene only lasted 44 seconds, but he was a good snogger." Said Violet to Swotsy as they sat in their special place inside the nuclear reactor.
"I've heard it can be that way the first time, I've been reading Cosmopolitan in the Doctor's waiting room." Replied Swotsy.
"Oh Swots, was I expecting too much? Is that how it's supposed to be?"
"No Vi, I think it's supposed to be more like this...."

The Sex Scene

"What," she wondered aloud, "what in the hell is going on here?"

Joe could hear Sister Margaret outside in the street berating Bill and Jack as he chased after Violet and ito the bar. He found her crouched and trembling by the jukebox.

"Vi, I love you so much; I want to show you how much."

Violet looked up at Joe and held out her hand . . .



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One of Those Nights

"I'll not have you touchin' my little girl!" He grabbed his daughter roughly and a little too familiarly around the waist and hips. "Not when I myself have barely---"

He caught himself just as someone playing an organ offstage hit about fourteen keys simultaneously, musically (if not exactly euphoniously) underlining the shock registering on the faces of those present. Violet's eyes were darting left and right and even -- as a tiny figure scampered by her, headed into the pub -- downwards for a sec. Sister Margaret looked as though she was about to pop Jack one in the snoot. Joe's mother fell backwards through the door still swinging from the dwarf's passage.

And from the alley came a roar: Bill, unleashed by fury, of a sudden moved by hatred of his rival more than he was content to let his disappointment of a son be beaten to death, it was Bill now leaping into the fray.

"He'll be touchin' whatever he wants to touch, Jack McGilligan," Bill's voice boomed, "and whoever come to that!"

Sister Margaret, cool as usual but a little disoriented by the turn of events, turned and popped not Jack but Bill in the snoot, and the old drunk crumpled to a heap there on the sidewalk. The organist, having dropped and then reassembled the sheet music for all this month's shows, struck up "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling." It was a weird but not-bad selection.

Violet writhed out of Jack's grasp and bolted into the pub. Sister Margaret, rubbing her knuckles, seemed to forget her position for a moment. "What," she wondered aloud, "what in the hell

Bill

In the back alley, a tall figure watched the scene unfurling on the street from the shadows. Big Bill Sullivan was not a happy man. He was not a happy man at all. As he cursed quietly under his breath and walked away unseen, back on the street Jack strode over to Violet and Joe. His fists were clenched, short bursts of breath steaming in the night air. He said ....
Violet and Joe had spent the day alone, frolicking on the beach, wandering through the woods looking for soft spots to lay, doing things that came naturally to two young, handsome, virile specimens. He didn't know about Vi, but he was dizzy with her nearness. Every time she leaned in to brush sand from his shoulder or kiss his ear, he felt as if his mind was floating 6 inches above his body.

But the day had to end, and then came the night.

Joe was walking Violet to the McGilligans where she was supposed to help her mother with the bar that night. Violet's steps slowed as they got closer to the pub.

"My father doesn't like you, Joe." Violet said.

His heart, which had been like a balloon in the sky all day long with her sunk like a lead weight. "He doesn't?"

She shook her head and looked away.

He knew there was something about him that made a person not like him. First his father left him, then his mother drank herself into oblivion so she didn't have to be his mother. Then Father Donohoe and Sister Margaret, and all the other adults of the village looked askance at him. And now Jack McGilligan? After all those dinners he'd had pulled up to Mr McGilligan's table along with his passel of kids, an extra son he'd been almost. And now he was now despised. He should have expected it. There was something wrong with Joe. Something inherently defective.

The only thing Joe really had was Violet.

"I don't think you should take me into the Pub, Joe. Maybe we should just say goodnight now."

They had stopped walking across the street from the pub. He turned to look at her. Her pale blond hair framed the heartbreakingly perfect face, the dark blue eyes, large and almond shaped, with the thickest lashes he had ever seen, and the rosy mouth, pink and full and so luscious it reminded him of things he shouldn't be thinking about in this conversation. He was mesmerized by her beauty. He felt trapped in a spell.

"I love you, Violet." It was the first time he had said it, although it had been burning in his heart all summer.

She looked afraid. For just a moment. Then she smiled. "Joe, I..." he saw a sadness in her eyes. Tears formed. He knew she loved him too, why did he have the feeling that she wasn't going to say it back? "I--" she stuttered, glancing toward the pub. "I love you to." The words came out in a rush, as if she didn't want anyone to hear them, to have evidence. But then, that moment, the moment that Joe would think back on for the next 7 years, it seemed to disappear as Violet threw her arms passionately around Joe and they kissed as if it was death not to.

"Violet Bridget McGilligan!" Jack's booming voice echoes across the empty street and Vi and Joe stepped apart. "I told you I did not want you doing this! I told you to leave that boy alone!"

Joe took in a deep breath and stepped forward. "I love your daughter, Mr McGilligan. I want to marry her."

"Joe!" Violet gasped as Jack's angry face got redder, almost purple.

"Violet!" Jack roared. "I. Said. To. Leave. This. Boy. Alone."

The yelling must have drawn attention from inside, because the front door opened and out poured the entire village, including his mother and, most improbably, Sister Margaret.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It was the night before Joe left town the last time. McGilligans had been packed - somehow there were more people in this part of town in those days, it was like a regular circus. It was more like a ghost town now, but Joe had always loved this place - being around all the dwarves, the bearded ladies, the contortionists, well - it made him feel normal. The only place in the world that did.

Gideon Stone's family money had built this coastal haven for distressed circus folks thirty years ago. There used to be so many circuses, but these days people wanted to go to places like Alton Towers. Where were all the circus folk to go now that no one wanted to see their acts anymore? Stone took them in - news of the new town spread like wildfire. It was tucked on the side of the 'normal' old town - the Neptune and the convent marked the division, and beyond the school that took everyone in, the two sides rarely mixed. When Bill and Jack chose to settle on the circus side of town, eyebrows were raised. But Wilma loved visiting from the farm while she was alive, and Bitsy had circus blood in her too. Apart from the nuns, they were the only ones to pass freely from one world to the next. Bill's haulage trucks would rumble through the town, heading off to France - his depot was near McGilligans so he'd often drop in of an evening. That, of course, was how he got together with Alice. She was drinking even then, even before she had to bear the pain of being cast as the Sweeny Todd of Southwold.

This was the world Joe grew up in - just like Violet a 'normal' kid born in anything but a 'normal' town. However, just like Joe's brother Clive, each of the children born in this town carried a special secret in their genes. Certain powers. Randy and Frankie came from the 'normal' side of town, but Joe and Violet were the only kids to have been born on the circus side that looked - or at least - appeared normal. Everyone else - every kid their age, every cat, every hamster in this place was a dwarf. What was so special about them? Joe had first noticed this last summer - he'd never taken much notice of girls up until then, but suddenly, watching Violet going through her contortionist routine on the beach, he began to feel something. Randy was doing push ups nearby, grunting and sweating, but it was Joe Violet was looking at as she did her backflips.

'Come on Swotsy!' Violet had laughed, and raced her friend into the warm water. It was always tropical, the sea along this stretch of coast. A few miles up towards Norfolk, or down towards Felixstowe and the sea was icy cold, even in summer. Here, though, you could swim on Christmas day and it was like a warm bath. They said it was something to do with the nuclear reactor around the bay.

Swotsy clumped after her friend leaving huge footprints in the sand. Once she was in the water though it was a different story - she flipped and dived like a mermaid, leaving a plume of spray in her wake as she swam off into the distance overtaking a speedboat. Joe saw his chance - they were always together those two, and he jogged effortlessly down the beach towards the girl who had stolen his heart. Violet bobbed in the surf, smiling slowly as he ran towards her. His eyes never left hers as the warm sea engulfed him, and as she reached up and pulled him to her, they fell underwater, limbs entwined, kissing hungrily.

That was the happiest summer of Joe's life. In a few short months he would be in the army. They soon realised what he was capable of, and he was selected for Special Ops. Joe sometimes wished he could have gone back to that night in the bar. If only he could have turned back time, he would have never had to leave. He could have stayed with the girl he loved, he'd have known about his son. He'd never even seen his boy. As he held Violet in his arms now, he closed his eyes and thought back to that fateful night ....
that night back in the bar and the moment it could've all been stopped

(marta)

Monday, December 15, 2008

McGilligan's Gone

And he instinctively went to her.

“Joe, he’s gone. James has gone!”

Joe, so full of anger and hurt one minute before held onto her and let her sob into his jacket. He held her tenderly and waited for her to look up at him.

“Joe, I’ m so sorry. I’m so sorry but I did it for your own good. You had to leave.”

Joe looked down at her. He couldn’t believe that he could still feel such love for this woman after all she’d done, all she’d hidden from him.

“Vi, I don’t understand. Where’s James?”

Violet broke away, and turned her back on him and he saw her shoulders heave with grief.

“Dad’s got him. I know he has. He said he’d take him if he felt he was in any danger. He said he’d take him away if I put him in danger. If we put him in danger.”

“What do you mean ‘we’?”

Violet turned back round and said. “Us, Joe. You and me. If anyone found out you and I had a son. If he found out, he might take him. And Dad said he’d die before James would be a pawn in all this”

McGilligan had feared the worst and had taken James away. Violet knew that her Dad had contacts. He and James could be a world away in 24 hours and there was nothing she could do to stop them. James would be safe, but would she ever see James again?

She thought of....
Joe was furious. He was horrified and he didn't know what to think.

What had he been thinking, coming "home?" He should have just come in, taken care of his business and disappeared again. Hadn't he learned over these last years that it was best to just BE the job. People always tore your heart out again and again.

He didn't know how long he had wandered over the fields and woods and village streets, searching his mind for some kind of sense in all of it, searching the town for answers.

There was no one here he could trust. When he thought about his mother, a muderess... he thought maybe there was no one here he ever could have trusted. He thought back to the drunken days, the days of neglect and grubbing around, trying to find family anywhere he could, and instead finding dwarves and lunkish sidekicks and the love of his life--

No! That bitch was not his love. She had betrayed him worse than anyone. A son, he thought. He had a son. And was he to start the same story over again? Abandoning the boy to the vagaries of his mother? Just another barmaid, twisted sexual tendencies and who knew what else.

He gasped. She hadn't aged a day since he left.

She was in on it!

And then he had a direction. A place to expend all his fury. He found himself at the McGilligan's door, not even pausing to knock. He slammed it open, his gun, out of instinct, comfortably in his grip.

There was Violet, gaping at him, mascara running down her face.

"Joe!" She said and
long gone by the time Violet got home. As she paused in the porch to find her key, Kitten LaBouche and Daisy Ladds, Rowena's twin teenage daughters called out a greeting - they were obviously on their way to work. Violet smiled wistfully as she watched the girls stroll by, their tiny little stilettos clicking on the icy pavement. She felt old suddenly. The street lamp shimmered in the glitter they had sprayed into their backcombed peroxide blonde hair, and the sweet scent of 'Angel' lingered on the cold air long after they had disappeared into the bar. As the bar door swung closed behind them, the street fell silent. Violet shivered. She wished Swotsy was with her.




Violet knew something was wrong the moment she walked through the door. Someone had left an old record playing, but only James' dwarf hamster remained. Roy, at the hardware store had given it to the boy as a gift six months or so ago. James loved that little hamster, taught it all kinds of tricks. It liked popcorn, but it went wild for Roy's holiday brownies - well, who didn't? A trail of crumbs traced across the parquet floor to the old piano Bitsy had loved to play. Violet scooped the hamster up and stroked it gently in the palm of her hand as she looked around the room.

Jack had clearly left in a hurry. She had just missed them. James' homework assignment lay strewn across the floor. Violet's hand trembled as she reached down and picked up his colouring. James was planning to breed hamsters, sell them down at Roy's to earn a little extra pocket money. Everyone knew how hard it was to sex hamsters - especially dwarf hamsters, and James was reading everything he could on the subject. He was supposed to take Hammy in to school the next day, give all the kids a presentation. She'd have to ring his teacher ... she'd have to tell Sister Margaret.

Violet slumped onto the floor. She couldn't believe her own father would do this to her. He had threatened her time and time again, but she had never believed he would take her baby away from her. Tears pooled in her eyes as she stared at James' work. Of course! It was a message. James had left her a clue. She looked deep into the hamster's glistening eyes. This was the answer to everything ...

Little Boy

"I want to hear how he is going to get the boy" he said, "We have the boy, then we have the ultimate leverage. Those women will do anything I ask".

The boy was with his Grandad. James lay on the floor colouring in a homework assignment. As he coloured he sang to himself. James had an extraordinary voice. A God-given voice. It startled all who heard it.

Sister Margaret had long encouraged Violet to let him audition for the school choir.

"He is an extraordinary little boy, Violet. You're too protective over him. He'll start to notice. You must give him some freedom."

Violet always declined. "Sister, I know you want the best for him, but he's too good. He would stand out. I want James to remain as anonymous as he can possibly be."

As he lay on his Grandad's carpet, James sung and his Grandfather watched him, rapt. His eyes filled with tears, and he looked at his watch anxiously.

James was....

Mr ?

"The reason she left him Gideon Stone's estate is inconsequential. We no longer need him. Finish him."

"I do not care 'ow you do this. I have 70 Dwarves to freeze dry. Do you think I worry about your piffles? Get on with it. I want to hear no more about it until it is done."

"Yes... You heard correctly a new acid peel will be ready for mass marketing in January. It will wrinkle everyone who uses it and they will pay me huge sums for the anti-dote, ha ha ha. World domination of woman kind in within my grasp ha ha ha.
I have to go now. Bunty is calling and has prepared Angel cake for supper. I will ring again tomorrow. I want to hear how he..."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Inspector

Rowena cut the cards as Sister Margaret stubbed out her cigar. 'You should stop that you know ... terrible for your skin.' The circle of women round the card table fell silent for a moment, before they burst out laughing.

'As if we have to worry about that,' she blew a final plume of blue smoke into the air. On Wednesday nights, Rowena dealt poker cards rather than tarot - it had become a good excuse for the women to get together in the back room of McGilligans, and the only place where Vi and Swotsy could openly show their love for one another.

Violet affectionately kissed the top of her head. 'I've got a surprise for you love,' she whispered, and she slipped her thumb and forefinger between her lips, letting out a low whistle. 'Happy Birthday,' she said as a well built guy strutted onto the dancefloor.

The women shrieked with laughter, and Sister Margaret clapped her hands in delight. 'A strippogram!'

'No - better than that,' Vi smiled as he began his routine.

'Your feet's too big ...' Swotsy laughed, her eyes dancing with love as she turned to Violet.

'Not for me,' her lips parted as she closed her eyes and kissed Swotsy.

'Get a room,' a low voice growled as a tiny woman approached the table.

Rowena looked up. 'Mum, where've you been? We started without you.'

'You have no idea ...' she shook her head and poured a shot of Schnapps from the bottle on the table. Lindisfarne had its mead, but Sister Margaret ran a nice sideline in Little Hamptonpoint Valley Schnapps - the nuns had become quite adept at distilling over the years, and the schnapps was a good front for what really went on in the distillery behind their convent near the school. They had been excommunicated years ago once the Church became suspicious, but no one in Suffolk seemed to care or even to have noticed that the links with Rome had been severed. Schnapps went out the front door, and the key ingredient for Creme de Nain out the back while successive generations of East Anglian children passed through the shady corridors of the school. She waved a surprisingly wrinkle free finger at her daughter. 'All day, the same card, every time I dealt. Death.' Everyone shifted uncomfortably. 'I told you, the moment that boy arrived back in town it would be trouble.'

'We'll sort it out,' Sister Margaret said firmly. 'We always do.'

'We were getting so close,' the old dwarf shook her head. 'What with Wilma and now Alice gone, I'm the last one left from the circus days. I miss them,' she wiped a tear from her eye.

'He wanted to know why I had his mother's ring ...' Swotsy said quietly. 'If CJ hadn't been looking out for me ... I think we threw him off the scent.'

'We have to get him out of here,' Violet's eyes glinted. 'Donohoe, Bill and Jack have made a fortune out of Wilma and Alice's discovery. Dad's always said they promised to go back to Ireland millionaires, but I'm damned if I'm going to let him corrupt my James.'

'And let's not forget it would have been too dangerous without your mother Bitsy's help,' Sister Margaret patted her niece's hand. 'If she hadn't suggested adding catnip to counteract some of the obvious problems of using dwarf cat instead of dwarf human in the recipe ...'

Rowena laughed. 'All these years, there was the men thinking Alice was the Sweeny Todd of Southwold, bumping off dwarves when they came to 'visit' ...'

'When we've been helping them escape over the channel to safety in Holland.'

'To the Dwarf Liberation Front!' Rowena's mother raised her glass. 'And happy birthday Swotsy, bravest of all our agents. That's why Alice loved you like the daughter she never had.'

'What are we going to do now?' Swotsy said quietly. 'It was only a matter of time before this French buyer - Monsieur ... No one knows his name do they?' she turned to Violet for confirmation. 'Bill and Jack have been whacking up the price of Creme de Nain for years. No wonder he's come looking to cut out the middle man ...'

'Greedy bastards,' Rowena's mother hissed. 'They'll get what's coming to them. Especially after they bumped off Sister Mary ...'

'She was the spitting image of Alice wasn't she?' Rowena said sadly. 'They got him to ...'

'The dwarf catcher?' Violet paled.

Rowena nodded mutely. 'He killed her as a warning to us. Just like he killed the love of my life, the fire of my loins, my Clive before he could tell Joe how brave dear Alice had been ...' she disolved into tears.

'All the women in this town are beautiful ... and long may it stay that way,' Sister Margaret looked at each woman in turn. 'The men will get what's coming to them, but Joe Sullivan is an innocent in this. This 'Monsieur' is using him to get to the secret, and we must remember Alice's dying words, the reason she left him Gideon Stone's estate ...'

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Mask's Black Secret


What the hell was that?” Swotsy scanned the evening gloom.
“Cats. Just a bunch of cats. This whole town is filled with godamned cats.”
“Yeah, well, looks more like rats to me. If those little fur balls are cats, they’re the smallest ones I’ve ever seen. What are they, pygmies?”
Violet looked at her and then began to laugh. She bent over double, coughing as she sucked in the cold air. Despite the pain she couldn't stop and howled even louder.
“And what, may I ask, is so funny?” Swotsy was in no laughing mood. The situation was coming apart at the seams and it looked like Violet might be doing the same.
“Not pygmies.” Violet tried to stand upright, but didn’t manage. Her entire frame shook with manic laughter. “Those are, they’re . . . dwarf cats,” she finally choked out and then burst into tears.

Joe sat by himself, stretched out on a town square bench, hidden behind a cluster of snow-clad maple trees. It was cold, biting cold, but somehow it didn’t register with him in the least. His mind was far from snow and cold. The tiny piece of paper he held in his frozen fingers fluttered carelessly in the wind, a miniature white flag.
He had a nasty burning sensation in his stomach, as if he’d eaten lava for lunch. It briefly crossed his mind that he might get sick; that he might in fact vomit. He took a deep breath. The air was glacial, yet his mind was on fire. He felt like he’d been strung up in a furnace and hung out to burn. Slowely. ‘I’ve gone to Hell’, he mumbled out loud to no-one. Pearls of sweat beaded across his forehead.
That last ingredient in the beauty facial. The Black Mask. It couldn’t be and yet there it was, written in the unmistakable flowing script of his mother. No wonder she had kept it a secret. Christ, not secret by half enough. Dwarf juice. Crème de Nain. It couldn’t be, yet . . . A hormone, an enzyme, a molecule – what did he know? Something particular to the dwarf metabolism, something unique. Something found only there. Alice probably didn’t know exactly what it was either. It was just something that worked. The final ingredient leading her down the path to preternatural beauty.
His mind turned over, puzzling pieces falling into place like a bang-up Tetris session. But of course! Gideon Stone. Murdered. The papers had mentioned that he looked more like a prune than a human being when they found him. Sucked dry, a mere husk. And now Joe had uncovered the culprit. His mother, his own loving mother. Loving? Had he said that, thought it? She had murdered Gideon Stone - mariticide. She had milked Stone's diminutive body of its precious life fluids, like he was some kind of chemical cow. But not only Stone. Surely there had been other ‘suppliers’ as well. Ten, twenty; how many? It was too awful to imagine. How many batches of that evil concoction had she brewed over the years? A witch, that’s what she was, straight out of Macbeth. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. Those chemistry classes at night school when he was a kid; it had seemed so absurd at the time. Not now. And the circus, of course – a plentiful supply of ‘small people’ for her to sample from. Yes, all falling into place, the blocks tucking snugly together, arranging themselves into a horrendous satanic structure. And then it dawned on him. Why had they moved here in the first place? What did this sleepy little town have to offer that a hundred others couldn’t give more of? One thing and one thing only. Dwarves, this town was chockfull of dwarves.

Follow the Keys

bring them in with us on our little secret. No pun intended."

Swotsy pointed at a spot where the snow was particularly disturbed. "I'm not so sure about that, Vi. Look here. What's that you see?"

Violet leaned closer. She couldn't quite see... As she reached out to brush some of the loose snow aside, Swotsy batted her hand away. "But I was just trying t0---"

"I know what you were trying to do. But this is a crime scene now. Look, sweetheart. Look. You don't need to see anymore than that little bit sticking up there... the two crossed hands..."

Violet clapped a hand to her forehead. "Sister Margaret's key! And is that...?"

"Yes. Blood all right."

"Randy's or CJ's?"

Swotsy leveled a squirrely gaze at Violet. "Might as well ask is it yours or mine or Sister Margaret's for that matter. How the hell should I know whose it is? Red, isn't it?" She sat back on her heels, and sighed deeply. (Violet loved Swotsy's sighs. The deeper the better.) "Now I'll have to get hold of Manders and that lot, and we'll have the bulls traipsing all over the garden here. It appears, love, that we shall have to seek out a new trysting spot."

A crash from around the side of the B&B brought the conversation to a close.
"Listen," CJ said as he jumped up from the ground underneath the window, "they're coming. Get that great footballer lump you call an ass up and going. We've got to get out of here."

"What?" Randy said. Confused. He was always confused. He needed to talk to Violet. She would straighten everything out, he was sure.

"Don't question me!" CJ said. "We've got to go to my mother's, and we've got to go now! Move."

Randy was used to taking orders. He followed the little man, who was surprisingly fast and fleet on his feet.

They disappeared into the copse behind the Neptune.

Violet and Swotsy tumbled out into the garden behind the B&B.

"He's gone!" Violet said under her breath.

"They're gone, Vi." Swotsy-- it was so easy to forget she was a detective, what with her big feet and insecurities stemming from High School-- was examining tracks in the snow. "Randy, and a dwarf."

Violet swore. "The dwarves! Now we're going to have to

Achondroplasia

..odd that so many dwarfs seemed to be in the area. Why?



****

Dwarfism can be caused by more than 200 different medical conditions. The most common cause of dwarfism is achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder responsible for 70% of dwarfism cases. Conditions in humans characterized by disproportional body parts are typically caused by one or more genetic disorders in bone or cartilage development. Forms of extreme shortness in humans characterized by proportional body parts usually have a hormonal or nutritional cause such as growth hormone deficiency, once known as "pituitary dwarfism"

The most recognizable and most common form of dwarfism is achondroplasia, which accounts for 70% of dwarfism cases and produces rhizomelic short limbs, increased spinal curvature, and distortion of skull growth.

Achondroplasia is a result of an autosomal dominant mutation in the fibroblast growth factor receptor gene 3 (FGFR3), which causes an abnormality of cartilage formation. FGFR3 normally has a negative regulatory effect on bone growth. In achondroplasia, the mutated form of the receptor is constitutively active and this leads to severely shortened bones.

(Source: Wikepedia- various)

Swotsy and Violet

"Sister Margaret never changed, she never aged, she never looked anything less than perfect. And she still ran St. Mary's Of The Majestic Holy Lamb to this day...."
Randy could hear Violet and Swotsy talking loudly inside the house. He crept up to the window and could just make out Violet doing up the buttons on her blouse.
"...we've got to do this for Sister Margaret, we promised." Finished Violet.
"But... it would mean killing another dwarf...did, did you kill Clive Violet?"
"Oh for pity's sake, why does everyone keep asking me that. No. I didn't."
At this moment Randy slipped, he was shocked that Violet was so intimate with Swotsy. His whole world was blurring. Had Violet told Swotsy about him? Did Swotsy know his secrets?
"What was that? There's someone spying on us... again."
Violet peered out the window.
"Swots... it's Randy, he's hiding in a bush by the window. Have you got your gun?"
"Yes... but... I can't kill him Vi."
"Give the gun to me... he's got an ingredient that we need. Stop crying... remember this is for Sister Margaret."
Randy tried to get up, but he tripped over a dwarf... it was...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sister Margaret of St. Mary's Of The Majestic Holy Lamb





Sister Margaret. Mother Superior's right hand lady...and the school's most feared teacher. How long had she been there. No one really knew for sure. There were rumours that she was Father Donahoe's sister, but no-one dared ask her. For sure, if she was, she was a great deal younger than him. But then, a large age gap between siblings was not uncommon in Irish Catholic families. Who could guess at how many other brothers and sisters separated them?

Not for nothing were Father Donahoe, Sister Margaret and Mother Superior jokingly called "The Holy Trinity". They knew everything that went on in school, and in the towns and villages in the area. The school was the only catholic school for miles and children came as far away Newmarket and Felixstowe. They came for two reasons; religious instruction for those children of families of the Catholic faith, and high quality schooling for those pretending to convert for the sake of their children's education. St. Mary's Of The Majestic Holy Lamb was one of the best schools in the country.

When Mother Superior died, it went without argument that Sister Margaret would take over the headmistress's role. She had been in that position since Joe could remember. She was dry, cold, fierce and unapproachable, but Sister Margaret was also an incredible beauty. Every boy who ever went to St Mary's could attest to this; Sister Margaret had probably been their first forbidden object of desire.

A Bride of Christ Sister Margaret may have been, but she knew the men of the area looked longingly at her. Her power over the children that were her charges gave her life purpose and structure. But it was the power over the local men whose eyes fell lustfully upon her, as she walked through the neighbouring villages,that gave fortified her life with a secret and wicked satisfaction.

Sister Margaret never changed, she never aged, she never looked anything less than perfect. And she still ran St. Mary's Of The Majestic Holy Lamb to this day....

Nesting Dolls

he'd seen it somewhere, damn it, somewhere...

Then he had it, from all those years ago. The girls' locker room, the hole in the wall, the broom closet. Sister Margaret. She'd had just this key hanging around her neck; he'd seen it clearly as she pinched his ear and got her own eyeful. For the few seconds she'd watched the two girls at play, she'd clutched this key inside a muscled fist, her lips moving soundlessly: this key, with the crossed hands forming the ring through which the simple loop of twine passed. There was no mistaking it.

As he looked at it now, he suddenly realized it wasn't a key after all. It had a tiny, was that a hinge along the shaft? He removed it from the box, dug with a fingernail at the little bolt or hinge or whatever it was. The "key" sprung open, revealing a narrow hollow chamber.

And rolled up inside the little tube was a tiny white cylinder of paper.

A Mystery, A History, A Recipe, A Key

a book.

An old photo book.

He opened it up, knowing it came from his mother. Knowing that whatever it was, it was his very own legacy.

And there, in all the pictures, was his mother.

Young, so young. A girl, even. He didn't remember seeing pictures of his mother as a girl, ever.

He wondered why. She seemed to be having such a lovely time. Running around a carnival with another young, beautiful girl. A crowd of girls, it seemed, but most specifically, just one. No, it wasn't a carnival. It was a circus.

He saw the other girl riding on the back of the horses. He saw his mother, amazingly, up in the air, on the high wire. It looked like she was dancing. And then he saw both of them together, their arms clasped and in them middle, a tiny girl, no taller than his arm, standing on their clasped arms. All three of them with the huge, innocent smiles that can only come with youth, with the hope and dreams that exist before the world comes crashing down.

Was it possible that his mother, before she met old Bill who ruined her life, had been a circus performer? It seemed impossible, but here was the evidence right here in front of him.

He turned to the last page, and pasted there, was a key.

He had seen it before. He didn't know where. It wasn't the key to this, his mother's old lock box... that was still stuck in the box in front of him. It wasn't the key to the house-- which he just remembered that idjit Randy still had. But he knew

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ADMIN: Updated Family Tree

AlSO:
Randy
Inspector Monica Smith Jones aka Swotsy Mondy
Assistant D.I. Manders
Father Donohoe
Alice's Godmother
Gideon Stone
Frankie (the man stumbling down the street)

anybody I left out?

I believe I left out Rowena's mother, who lives with them in the trailer park. Wilma's best friend. I hope they have a double wide.... or as dwarves cane they put in a second level in their trailer? It could almost be a kind of hobbit hole on wheels.

I also left out Wilma's father, the Carnie. Clive Burke the first. Whom she named her son for.



*Octagenarian Billionaire

Randy

. . . Randy held the torn recipe in his hand, the open security box at his feet. He trembled as he read the words. As he reached the bottom of the page he swore under his breath.
"Why can't things ever be simple." he muttered.
Angrily he threw his pick-axe onto the ground and slumped on his knees.
"Randy!" Yelled Joe
Randy lept to his feet knocking he torch over and losing his light. Joe was fast and was quckly behind him his arm tightening around Randy's throat.
"Remember how good I am at this Randy." Hissed Joe in his ear.
Randy fought for breath; as he felt his last moments of life being squeezed out of him, Joe snatched the recipe from Randy's hand.
"Is this it Randy? Is this what all the fighting has been about? Can't breathe can you? You bastard. Violet doesn't love you, she's using you, like she's used us all. Do you know what Randy babes, I'm going to let you go. Violet's with Swotsy. You go and see for youself. She's making a fool out of you."
Joe released his grip on Randy and the two men faced each other.
"Why are you letting me go Joe?"
"Because it's going to be worth it." Laughed Joe.
"Go on get out of here, go and see what that bitch is up to."
Randy stumbled through the trees, still trying to catch his breath, Joe remained, found the torch and lit up the scene... there was something else in the box... it looked like a....

The Recipe

Dear Diary

Really I’m probably wasting my time writing this down. Joe’s unlikely to ever need a recipe for a skin cream. But who knows? Maybe he’ll have children; my granddaughters. Ha! Ha! What a thought. Me, a granny! Anyway, granddaughters if you’re reading this, then my love to you. And enjoy making granny’s skin formula. I think it’s been a wonder. It would be unfair not to share it with you, my loves.

This is enough to do a week, applying both morning and night.

Ingredients:

Willow bark- small shavings- a teaspoon full
Cow’s milk- a pint
Grapeseed oil- one teaspoon
Olive oil- half a teaspoon
Oats- half a cup
Demerara Sugar- 1 tablespoon
Garden Moss- a clump
Frogspawn- (freeze a healthy batch in spring to last the whole year)- 1 tablespoon or one ice cube worth
Garden Mint- three leaves

The next ingredient is very important but quite dangerous and difficult to find. I suggest....


*****

At this point the page is roughly torn.....

7 is the magic number

done anything to be the perfect aunt. On the day he was due back from Holland with Alice, May tidied the house, imagining all the wonderful adventures that lay ahead of them. She just had time to wash the last of the facepacks off before she heard Alice's key in the door. She ran downstairs followed by a liquid stream of cats, rushing down the steps like mercury in her wake, yowling a greeting, relieved not to be alone in the house any longer with this maniac who blended their mother.

Joe rushed into the lamplit hall, glanced up as his aunt ran to greet him and froze in horror. As Alice pulled the key from the lock, he began to scream.

May left soon after that. Small town Suffolk was no place for her. She married an octogenarian billionaire with a feline obsession. Alone at home with a small child, Alice's high spirits didn't last long.
'Go play,' she would push Joe out of the kitchen door as one of her gentlemen arrived to do odd jobs around the house. 'Go find some friends your own age.'

And he did. When Randy and Violet were busy with their own families, Joe would wander out to the trailer park to play with Clive's kids. CJ became like the kid brother he never had. It was the only place he felt accepted, the only place where people didn't joke about his crazy cat aunt and Alice's drinking. The only place in the world he felt like the normal one. There were eight of them in one trailer - Rowena, Clive, their five children and her mother, poor Wilma's best friend .........
The sludge felt different than she expected and it smelled foul. Well, beauty was worth anything, especially now. Perhaps if it hadn't been for Joe, she wouldn't care, but for him, she would...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cat-a-tonic


. . . of, well, in a sense, because of her jealousness. And infamous curiosity. How does that old saying go? ‘Curiosity killed the cat.’ Yes, and it continues, ‘But satisfaction brought her back’. But there is little satisfaction to be found here, that’s for sure.
No-one knows the exact story, but it is thought to go something like this: May, ever envious of her gorgeous sister, discovered the recipe for the secret beauty potion in the notebooks. She immediately decided that she’d have to try it out for herself. Alice was gone; what's to stop her. After a trip to Marwell’s Groceries & Greens, a short stop at the Chemists, a larcenous stroll through the neighbours’ herb garden and an amphibian hunt in the backyard frog pond, she was ready. She filled the oversized blender that Alice kept parked under the sink with the diverse, and somewhat unsavoury, ingredients. As she turned on the blender, it swirled into action, eventually liquefying everything into an amorphous black sludge. ‘Yuck’, was all she could think. ‘I’m going to smear that shit all over my face? Not very likely.’ Just then the phone rang. She left the blender running. It was Alice – she was going to be a few days late in coming home. She and Joe were having such fun together. The sisters chatted for a bit; May was a tad lonely, what with just the cats to talk to. Little did she know that as they spoke, Shadrach, the jet black Abyssinian, was leaning precariously over the blender from the overhanging shelf, fascinated by the swirling black mess. The cat became dizzy and slipped. And then Shadrach was falling, and then she, too, was part of the churning mess. It all happened so fast that she hadn’t even managed to squeeze out a solitary meow.
May came back from the phone conversation, more determined now than ever to smear the horrid stuff on her face. Alice had ended up blathering about how all the lads had been turning their heads wherever she and little Joe went. Since May was alone, she could have it on for the entire time Alice was gone, day and night. She'd just close the curtains. And then she’d surprise her at the door, ten times more beautiful than big Sis ever had been. In fact, she wouldn’t look at herself in the mirror the entire time, either. What fun! She’d surprise them both!

Cats


he was just a boy, and Alice had moved on too. Last he'd heard, she had stayed sober long enough to film some TV film, some kind of dancing. It sounded spooky to him - something unexpected, tarot cards, but it was very popular on TV in Suffolk ...

Bill stumbled out of the churchyard, his legs as heavy as lead. This is when you want your children to support you, he thought angrily. And what've I got? A hunchback and a bastard. 'Bill Sullivan, you're an idjit, ye get what ye deserve,' he imagined Wilma saying to him in her little sing-song voice. Already he was picturing her up there with the angels, her halo setting off her unnaturally beautiful skin.

Strangely, when her will was read the next day, she left her notebooks to Alice. Everyone knew Bill had been carrying on with her for years, so why Wilma would have left her anything, who knows? Alice was visiting family in Holland with her boy Joe when Wilma died. She'd had a tough time of it since Bill went back to his wife, and her sister May had come up from London to take care of the house and cats. May was in her element - everyone said she was more cat than human. When Wilma's notebooks were delivered by the solicitor's clerk, she couldn't resist reading them. By the time Alice returned with little Joe, her sister was unrecognisable because ...

Tiny Mysteries

Do not doubt my powers just because I am shorter than you."

Bill glanced at the Tarot card and then he looked more closely, from the card to its tiny wielder, back and forth. Good Lord. It was Rowena herself depicted on the card. What was she trying to tell him? Was she trying to tell him anything at all, for that matter?

"What are you trying to tell me?" he said aloud finally. "From what I remember of the Tarot, The Devil is the card of self-bondage to an idea or belief which is preventing us from growing. Is this somehow related to your and Clive's... condition?"

Rowena hissed, she actually hissed at him. The Devil indeed. "Do not try my patience," she said, "and remember what I have told you. "Leave Clive be!" She melted back into the darkness.

So he had lost his wife. He apparently had lost his son Clive as well, if he didn't want to risk the microscopic but probably quite annoying wrath of Rowena. There was still Joe, he supposed, but

Rowena the Gypsy

The question tortured him as he dropped tears on Wilma's still and beautiful face.

She looked just like he remembered her. His moon, his stars, his delight. He didn't understand how he could have tossed her away like that.

"I know who you are," someone said, over his shoulder.

Bill turned around, burdened by the weight of his grief and loss. He saw no one.

"I know you," the voice said again, from below. He looked down at what he first thought was a young girl.

Her eyes were wise. And she was shaped like a woman, dressed in a from fitting black dress and tiny heeled shoes.

She was a dwarf, he realized. He could not help but shudder with revulsion, and then the guilt ate at him.

"What?! Who are you?"

"I'm Rowena, The Gypsy," she said. "And I won't let you hurt him again."

"Hurt who?"

"Clive. Your son. He's mine, and was fated for me. I will live with him and bear his babies. I don't care if he is ten years younger than me, he is mine and I won't let you hurt him again."

"My son? My boy? The dwarf?"

"And what if he is a dwarf?" Rowena the Gypsy spit at him. He stepped back involuntarily and then felt a fool. She could not be taller than 3 feet. "I am one too and you know not what you play at."

He backed away again as she reached into her black clutch purse. Did she have a gun?

She pulled out a tarot card.

The Devil.

"You will always destroy the ones you love." Her voice sent shivers through his spine. "That is your fate. I warn you now--

Graveside forgiveness

...forgiveness. But it was too late for that, and the fact that Bill couldn't bring himeself to ask for it until she couldn't deny him, was a tragedy.

At Wilma's funeral no-one saw Bill enter the chapel. He stood at the back with tears in his eyes. And as her casket was lifted by six men, he only recognised one of them. His old friend Jack, who he hadn't seen since the day his first son was born.

When the mourners disappeared, Bill went to Wilma's grave and wept, "Forgive me, my darling. Please forgive me.I just couldn't. I'm sorry. "

Bill sunk to his knees and shook with grief and guilt. He knew that nothing he could ever do now, would make it right. Wilma had died of cancer. She had never remarried. His son was sixteen. He had never seen him, except as an infant.

He knew the only thing he could do now was make it right with his son. But how....

Admin: An Incomplete Time Line

32 years ago: Clive is born. Bill leaves Wilma.

Somewhere in here Bill goes to the village, meets Alice.

25 or so years ago: Joe, Violet, Randy are born.

16 years ago: Bill leaves Alice, returns to Wilma. Joe is 9, Clive is 16. Violet and Randy bury the box behind the Neptune Bar, Tea House and Bed and Breakfast. Alice starts drinking.

7 years ago: Joe is kicked out of HS. Violet Gets pregnant. Joe leaves the Village

One Week Ago: Alice found dead by Monica (Swotsy Mondy) Smith-Jones

Today: Joe returns. 6year old James. Clive is murdered

Bright Moon of the Night

"Nothin', Plum Puddin', nothin," he said, putting the wee, now squalling infant back in the basinet. "Listen to the doctors, Bright Moon of the Night." His voice was soothing to her, but when he turned to the doctor, there was a note of panic. "Can't you give her something to calm her down?" he whispered.

The doctors, looking on him with sympathy, nodded and added something to her IV.

"What is it, Bill? Why will no one talk to me?"

"Relax, Light of the Fairy Circle. Just rest," Bill said, "I'm goin' to head home to the flat and ready it for your arrival, when you wake up, we can go home."

"Okay, Bill," Wilma said, as she floated dreamlessly into the darkness.

That was to be the last time she saw her husband for 16 years.

On the day she and her baby, (whom she loved beyond the moon and the stars, and whom she named after her carnie father,) were to be released, Bill had a taxi waiting for her. The driver had no answers, just that he was to pick up the lady and the babe and take them home.

Where Bill was not.

Until he returned to her 16 years later, hat in hand, saying he had never loved anyone more than he loved her, begging for
Wilma's pregnancy went smoothly. Everyone commented on her beautiful complexion: 'You're blooming!' the vicar shook her hand warmly at the end of the Christmas Eve service. Wilma smiled wanly. Her contractions had started during 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing.' As Bill helped her down the icy church path, gulls wheeled in the leaden sky. She gripped his arm.
'It's time, Bill,' she said. Alarm filled his eyes.

That night, he paced the waiting room floor smoking filterless Camels. By the time the nurse came in to break the news, he was well into his second packet.
'Mr Sullivan ...'
'Where is she?' he barged past the nurse into Wilma's room. She smiled weakly. The dawn light made her pale skin seem luminous. 'It's a boy ...' she whispered as he kissed her.
Bill gazed into the cradle at the side of the bed. The boy's open, beautiful face gazed back at his father - his dark eyes filled with what seemed like inifinite wisdom. To Bill it seemed like he was capable of anything, everything. The blankets were tucked tightly up to the baby's chin.
'Wilma,' Bill murmured, holding back tears of relief and joy. 'He's beautiful.'
'They wouldn't let me hold him ...'
'That's crazy,' Bill smiled down at his boy. 'Come on little fella, let's show your Ma how handsome you are ...' The baby gazed quizzically at him. Never again would he face the world with such openness. Overtime the looks of revulsion and fear would beat Clive down. Never again would he be able to look the world in the eye. With infiinite gentleness, Bill peeled back the blankets. 'Gosh you're a wee little fellow aren't you?' he said slowly as he peeled the last sheets away.
'Mr Sullivan ...' the nurse hovered, uncertain what to say. 'You should wait for the doctor.'
Bill's breath caught in his throat as he exposed his son's tiny, disfigured body. The boy's beautiful face gazed at him. 'Oh no, oh god no ...' tears choked him as he recoiled.
'Bill?' Wilma tried to sit up, her face contorting in pain. 'Bill what is it ....

If At First You Don't Succeed . . .


Fig. 01: One of the Early Trials
Unfortunately the first test results were less than entirely satisfactory (Fig. 01).
But it wasn’t merely the outside that was altered in these failed attempts.
There were modifications on the inside as well. The DNA of the testee's ova often mutated, producing offspring with achondroplasia, commonly known as . . . dwarfism.

Not Your Everyday Kitchen Accident

baker's yeast, the mercury preservative known as thimerosal, a pinch of salt, hydroquinone skin lightener, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1,4-dioxane, a quarter-cup of whole milk, and coal tar.

The mixture looked quite vile -- and oh Jesus Mary and Joseph the smell! It actually bubbled in the pot and (Wilma would recall later) she could have easily imagined an eye of newt bobbing about on the surface. Her first instinct was just to dump it; she was sure dinner was ruined.

But when it cooled enough to discard safely, she had touched the surface. It tingled upon her index fingertip. Taking a chance, she smeared a bit on the back of her left hand. More tingles...

...and then that little half-inch square went suddenly hairless.

That had been the start of something big, very big. She carefully wrote down the ingredient list as she remembered it, and sealed it in a little box. She'd give it to one of the kids -- just in case anything happened to her, and perhaps they'd be able to make something of it...

But that had been years ago now.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ordinary World...



. . . until Wilma turned on the radio [the reception is very poor in Suffolk] and started crying for yesterday . . . But Wilma realised she could still make something of her life when she found a book under the floor boards of her ancient cottage; it was called 'The Witches Brew'. Wilma set herself up as the local soothsayer and apothecary. People flocked from miles around to here her visions and to sample her healing potions. She also became a drunk. One day whilst mixing a brew she accidentally spilt her afternoon cocktail into a mixture of...