Life is something unusual. You think you got all of it figured out and it starts to get boring..but that is because you forgot to turn your head so that your point of view changes. It is not that life is boring, it is that you forgot to move. Once you move..the world becomes a prism of amazing new fractals of light. Never stand still. Only when you move does the life you live suddenly become new and interesting. Never stand still. Standing still is like giving up in the middle of a lake of water, once you do that, you can only drown. All people get tired..it is by paddling in any direction that you find the sand coming to meet your feet in unexpected places that provide support and restful joy.
“Ew, that’s just gross” I spluttered, scrunching up my nose and glared directly into the Zombie’s eyes, which was not a hard thing to do considering I was holding his recently severed head in my hands. The rest of him, well…it had fallen over into the bushes. I guess he couldn’t help it that his brain matter was currently grossing me out. I mean, it was me that ripped his head off, so I should have expected something horrible to ooze out and over my hands, but let’s just admit this up front, I hadn’t really thought this one through all that far anyway.
Turning swiftly I attempted to hand him off to the wizard standing at my elbow. “Zad, do ya mind?” He looked from what remained of his Zombie-ness and back to me, then distractedly took the Zombie and held it on his forearm, sort of football-style.
He was understandably a bit startled. He had been trying to rid himself of this particular zombie for months. When he joined me here in the doorway, a short 5 minutes ago, he probably hadn’t expected me to suddenly lunge and grab said zombie out of the bushes while we were discussing my fee for getting rid of the little pest. Hey, what can I say. When opportunity knocks I almost always answer the door.
Zombies are not just mad flesh-eating parasites. They are also curious mad flesh-eating parasites and this one had gotten so curious as to what we were whispering about he actually sauntered over into the bushes to have a listen. I had just taken the bull by the horns, or more appropriately the Zombie by the shoulders and maximized on the situation. Sometimes I just get lucky like that. Although, getting Zombie juice on my brand new jeans wasn’t exactly my idea of terrific.
“Do you take Visa?” Zad quipped ,ruffling his long white beard with his unsteady hands. I smiled and pulled out my hand sanitizer, if ever a time called for it, this was it.”I wasn’t trying to entice him over here Zad, but he offered me the perfect opportunity leaning over in the bushes that way.” Zad smirked as if I had said something brilliant.
I took the zombie head from him and tagged it, all zombies had to be properly tagged behind the ear, (if there was one, if there was no ear you generally used some part of the head or skull or whatever, you get the idea) according to state and local regulations. All zombie deaths had to be completed by a licensed professional who knew how to render a “mostly dead” undead person into an “All dead” undead person. Oxymoron, I know, but that’s the way it goes.
Zad whirled around and entered his shop. I shared a look of pity with his clerk, a rather anemic looking vampire (His was for me, mine was for him) and followed Zad into his office. “What about his lower half” I asked and nodded my head in the direction of the bushes. “Just leave it there, I have some local witches in the area who will pay top dollar for that part of him. The head though, I am mounting this on my wall.”
I did not allow my revulsion show. What the client did with the remains was none of my concern. So, long as they followed proper state and local laws and requirements I was quite happy not to have to haul the remains away stinking of decom in my van.
Zad pulled open a metal drawer, relieved me of my gore covered bundle, and slid the now completely dead, (as apposed to mostly dead), head into it. I didn’t stand too close due to the lack of concrete idea as to what may, or may not be, inside the other 49 drawers stacked along that same wall. I figured this was just good sense as a few of those aforementioned drawers were rattling from the inside. I didn’t know what was in there, and I didn’t want to know..ever.
Zad gestured me into the chair on the other side of his desk and sat across from me while simultaneously reaching for his checkbook, I guessed he had been kidding about the Visa. He peered at me over his half-moon glasses (Why do Wizards all have those anyway, was there some eyeglass clause I was unaware of in the wizarding handbook or something?) I could just imagine what he was seeing when he looked at me.
I am not skinny, and not fat (What some call voluptuous and I just call too much of a good thing) I have mousy brown hair that curls in a way not in keeping with the gorgeous curls one sees on hair commercials. Mine acts more like a nest of caterpillars with a sense of humor. My face is pale, but blotchy, and I am extremely plain looking. I am that type people see in a store and skim their eyes past as being nothing all that unexpected or even noticeable.
In fact, I look like I should be In a grocery store. I have that whole 36 year old mom look about me. I am definitely not the type people would expect to be tearing the heads off of zombies, taking on bad witches, even badder warlocks, and occasionally a bit of policing of naughty elves and fairies Don’t ask about Santa’s elves, they are soo not as cute after they have had a few too many celebratory sips of cider and decide they want to moon humans..(not that mundanes can see them, but then, that’s the point!) What I am is descended from a long line of psychics. Seems genetics don’t really care if you look like a soccer mom, they is..what they is… and they do that hoo-doo that they do-do, so to speak, with or without your permission, thank you so much.
“Do you think I should be concerned about any further issues with his sect?” Zad inquired. I leaned my head onto my hand and considered the question. “The fact that he was here feasting on your clients probably indicates he is an outcast from his sect. They tend to provide for their own, which is good for us, otherwise, there would be a whole lotta zombies chasing people like kids running after the ice cream truck, but I will check the listings for any missing zoms in the area” Zed shuddered delicately at my suggestion and fingered his deep purple robe.
“He was completely out of control. I mean I don’t hold it against the fellow that he was hungry, but I cannot have him eating my customers! There are limits!” On a hunch I leaned closer and gently inquired. “Who’d he eat? Someone with lots of cash instead of the proper poor slob with only two cents to rub together?”
“Omagod” Zad huffed in dramatic fashion happy to dish the gossip “Mrs Zingerhoffenpoffer of all people!, you’d think her flesh would be too tough to chew. The woman had a hide like a rhino!” Zad simpered at his own joke. At this point Zad started gesturing wildly “She was shrieking the whole time. I nearly died when she asked him if he had any idea who he was dealing with. I mean seriously woman! The thing is eating you and you are worried about whether or not he’s aware of your credentials!. It’s a good thing I had a reversal spell on hand, she would have been up dead creek without a freaking Gucci paddle! Then, that woman had the nerve to ask me if I was going to give her a discount on her purchases since she almost got ate! I mean does she have ANY idea how much a reversal spell runs! That’s your discount honey right there!”
I nodded my head to show I understood, reversal spells cost so much that most Wizards just take out death and dismemberment insurance. A good reversal spell saves on scandalous litigation though, so I wasn’t surprised that a high-end retailer like Zad would have some on hand, for “emergency” situations. For the right sort of client, of course. I was willing to bet that if the “snackee” had been someone less inclined to have dollar signs attached to their name that particular spell would not have been utilized. I am sure Zad was unhappy he had to use it even then. Rumor had it they didn’t sell for less than 20,000 diamonds apiece. Still inwardly I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of situation had to happen in order for someone to get a discount rate, I mean, the woman did almost get eaten…reversal spell or no.
I mean, even if you did get a live-in maid or nurse to clean and care for you being rich only helped so far when you had parts missing. I wondered if they made those wheel-chairs with gold plating, and tried to picture what one of such might look like with some rubies and other gemstones fastened on it. I then realized Zad had gone quiet. He was considering me with an indulgent smirk on his too thin face “I don’t know what you were thinking about Honey, but whatever it was, It was hilarious watching you think it! Your whole face goes slack and you remind me of a hypnotized bunny.” Seeing my reaction to being compared to a comatose lagomorph, he quickly continued.“Anyway, I got her out of there as fast as I could,which was not soon enough to keep the tongues from wagging. The gossip lines are like mercury in this town.” Here he lowered his voice to a false whisper “It’s not good for business”.
Handing me my check Zad stood and wandered back around his desk “Anyway, she will be back, none of them ever stay away for long. We are the best place to get the hottest items of fashion for a fraction of the cost. In fact, we just got in the latest Invisa line cloaks and they are Fa-bul-lous! It takes off 20 lbs just putting it on!” He considered my previously mentioned physique “I could get you into a lovely burgundy one for just under $3000, it does wonders for the self image darling” I felt my face turn red all the way to my roots. Great, I’m a vacant eyed bunny-faced fat person, and for just $3000 that I don’t have, I can be a Vacant-eyed-bunny-fat-person with no money and a giant cloak following me around. “Um, no thanks” I muttered, There are just some things a person knows instinctively they would regret. For me it was anything that could get caught in a drawer, wheel, or revolving door. I am somewhat known for being accident prone on a good day, and that’s without a cloak!
I concluded my business with Zad and wandering back to the “Matt-mobile” named affectionately after my cat, Mattahari. Strange spelling sure, but that’s because cat mama’s are not like human beings, they have litters of kittens and after a few years they got tons of the nippers running around. Add to that the children of your children, and so on, and you begin to get a bit of an idea how hard it must be to get a child who’s name is not the same as at least 40 other kits in the neighborhood. That’s why the unique spelling. They also have a lot of names. Mattihari is in fact Mattihari Suhasini Shayna Rosaletta Ravioli Dancelli, but she’s not fancy. Cats also have no last name (Not that they need another one on there in my humble opinion)
The Matt-mobile was refreshingly un-zombie-scented at the moment and I was feeling pretty good considering the fat check in my pocket, not to mention, the fact that the job was done so quickly it actually left me with 2 free hours for a change. If I had only known what was coming, I probably would have savored it more. Unfortunately for me, I am not that kind of psychic.
So, I cannot help it. Now I have written about them, I want to see them for real. What do you think guys? Like my automatons??? I am including an excerpt from the book as well…because I really wanna know if people like what I have written so far. We are working incredibly hard on this book.
Things the Count sees or considers for purchase in the shop. I plan to add to these as they are incredibly fun to imagine. Maybe add a Tiger one into the mix.
Made with gold filigree saddle and blanket worked across the elephants back culminating in a throne with a tiny Maharajah sitting atop it seated on a gilded chair. The clockworks of the elephant can be seen through the filigree work and the automaton walks when wound with a left to right lumbering walk similar to that of a real elephant. He lifts his trunk and trumpets and a real elephant sound comes out. You can hear the sound of the moving metal gears and pieces as it moves and it adds slightly to the beauty of the piece. There are elaborate gems and painted enamels covering the piece and it is extremely well detailed. An Exquisite looking piece that is surprisingly solid and sturdy in construction which belies its delicate appearance.
Another piece features a dancing peasant girl. She stands with one leg bent and raised in dance with the knee pointing straight upward and out and the foot gently bend towards herself. Her hands are flung over her head and she is holding a sheer fabric of India cloth in them. Her winder mechanism is underneath the stage she dances on and can be folded back into the compartment once it has been wound.
The piece plays a lively tune befitting a gypsy or a Persian dancer. When wound the dancer moves with such grace and beauty that is both fluid and expressive. It is almost as if she is not an automaton at all but a tiny human being dancing. Her hands and feet have tiny gold rings on them and her arms have numerous bangles. She has startling blue enamel eyes and her stage is comprised if marble and stained-glass elements. Her hair is loose but decorated abundantly with jewels and elaborate hair decorations.
The pirate ship is made up of very expensive looking cloths for the sails and flags. The wood is warm and beautiful in patina. The key to wind this piece is tucked away on the shelf with a tasseled ribbon, there is only a hole in the ship to show where the key is inserted. The key is, of course, a skeleton key.
When wound the sound of pirates shouting can be heard as well as waves and a great battle with cannons going off and swords clashing. The cannons appear to really be shooting cannonballs as they jerk back and forth on their springs leaving realistic spouts of smoke from them with the accompanying sound of firing. (The Count really appears to like this one a lot, but cannot see a means to conceal the glasses in it so selects instead a music jewelry box.
The music box plays a haunting song that has an illusive quality. It makes the listener unable to identify the exact tune, but leaves an overwhelming feeling of having been heard before, in that persons childhood. It leaves a feeling of childhood and nostalgic happiness for anyone who hears it. Each person who hears it swears that is plays the tune differently to the way in which is described by anyone else also listening to it. (This is, of course because the music box is magic) The Count selects this box to secret the glasses into and distracts Mr Snapple in order to conceal it inside. He asks that the box be “gift wrapped” and mailed to an address which he gives Mr Snapple on a piece of paper. Secure in the hiding of the glasses the Count leaves the shop checking carefully out the window before fleeing the shop. Just as the man has turned the corner we notice an expression on Mr Snapples face, one that hints of him knowing more than the Count might have realized.
Excerpt from The Moon Lenses, Chapter 2 part 1
Turning he reached for the door handle. His hand was curled around the warm metal when a sudden sound directly behind him had him spinning around in surprise.
The sound was distinctive. It had the warmth of metal and memory in it. A deep, melodious clang, that was answered by a softer upper clang of sound from another source across the room. Then there came another and another, from every direction now. Suddenly the room was alive with sound. Clocks, many of them, were suddenly opening themselves up or pushing their sound forth in varying tones and rhythms, each contributing in a slow awakening crescendo of carefully orchestrated sound. It was not like the clang and bang of other clock shops, this was like music. A carefully overlaying of sound that was merging with all other sounds. Instead of clashing or competing with the other clocks, these clocks, were harmonizing one with the other. It was startlingly beautiful.
The clock that had lead the procession ended first and each distinctive clock could be heard as they took their moment in the spotlight, before moving aside for the next clock, until, after a full minute had passed the very last clock sounded and died away, leaving the count breathless with a feeling of awe. It left the room with a silence that was more than silence. It was like being surrounded by a feeling of joy. It was the most comforting thing he had ever experienced. It was almost as if the room was…happy.
The Count found his hand dropping away from the door handle. He moved toward the counter as if in a trance until he was standing directly in front of the clock that had started it all. It was a big grandfather clock which presided grandly over the very center of the wall behind the counter. It was made of a kind of wood one knows instinctively is no longer able to be purchased because of the rarity of the tree it was crafted from.
The metal clockworks of this clock were crafted from silver instead of the traditional brass or bronze. Across the front of it was a delicate filigree of intertwined branches, leaves, blossoms and birds. It was so intricate and delicately crafted that it appeared as if a single touch would snap the silver completely off. The clock face displayed Chinese characters instead of the normal numerals, how odd. He thought to himself. It was almost as if the clock were reading words and phrases instead of time. The oddness continued as he became aware of the fact that the clock hands were facing in the wrong direction, in fact the second hand was moving..backward.
I remember your shoulders
where my fingertips could not hope to reach you.
But I tried.
Your head was so low to the ground
You never saw me looking down at you.
Hoping you would look up
and see me.
You wanted so much to be unseen
Safer that way.
I saw you.
I remember your thin arms
as they clasped your knees
and tried desperately
to hold your sorrow in.
Forgive me for being too shy
to know how to approach you.
I was smaller than you
and had yet to learn my voice.
I remember you.
Could never forget.
Your silence taught me how to listen.
Your pain taught me to talk.