Catalog People

My Giraffe (Zebra) Call is open!

Written to ysabetwordsmith‘s prompt.


Every payday, Edrio very carefully opened the Sears catalog and very carefully placed an order.

It wasn’t always Sears; it wasn’t always a catalog.  Sometimes it was Penney’s, although their catalog wasn’t as good, or the furniture store, or the hardware store for some paint or some molding.

But it was always payday, and it was always a very considered purchase.

Edrio’s house wasn’t all that large.  It was the smallest house that had been for sale, as a matter of fact, and he’d gotten a very good deal on it because it was old, un-updated, and a one-bedroom.  The Cape Cod house had last been updated in the 50’s, if the wallpaper was any indication.

The wallpaper was the first to go, the carpet, the trim.  Everything was carefully replaced, everything chosen from the catalog spreads or the display lay-outs in the stores, the colors from Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens or color-matched to a Sears spread.  The effect, were anyone to walk into his house, was slightly like being inside a catalog.

In the bathroom it was the most obvious, the small room showing the carefully-coordinated shower curtain and drapes, towels and garbage can and rug.  His bedroom showed the only signs of personality, a stack of battered paper-backs in between leather-covered Barnes and Noble books on a display shelf. His closet was much the same, outfits picked from the pages of the catalogs, bought and worn as exact to those pictures as possible.

The catalog purchases covered over strangeness, of course – the circle of glyphs under the living room rug and the other one in the bathroom, the tone-on-tone runes on the carefully-picked out molding, some to keep monsters in, some to keep them out.  But mostly, they were to cover over Edrio.

At night, he would lie in bed, as he had since he was a child, flipping through the pages of an ancient Sears catalog.  “This is real,” he’d tell himself, in a ritual as battered and as old as the pages.  “This is how real people live.”

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Tootfiction/Thimbleful Thursday: Nest Egg

“The idea,” Ron explained, “came from putting a fake egg into a nest to encourage the bird to lay there. So…” He put $50 and a ceramic egg in the safe-deposit box.

“I don’t think that’s how it works,” Iva complained. “It’s all about saving money, encouraging YOURSELF to put more cash away. Not just… hoping someone else will lay eggs in your safe-deposit box.”

“Well, if I’m wrong, we move it all to the savings account and go from there. But if I’m right…”

Both of them were surprised when, upon opening the box a month later, they found $100 and 15 ceramic eggs.

Written to April 20’s Thimbleful Thursday prompt and also tootfiction – 500-character-or-less fic for Mastodon

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The Wise Mushroom… Helps, a story of Fairy Town for Patreon Patrons

“I don’t need advice,” Everett was complaining. “And I don’t need advice from a mushroom.”
“Sure you don’t,” Delores agreed, too easily, too readily. “And I’m sure the Wise Mushroom wouldn’t want to be bothered. It’s a pretty small problem, and he’s got better things to do.”

“Better things? He’s as bad as the teachers, then. Don’t complain, don’t tattle…”

read on…

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Stone Soup and Other Gifts

Katydid tried not to think about it.

The thing about her tricks was, they didn’t work if you focused on them – you being her, them, anyone. Lots of her brain worked – or didn’t work – that way; the minute you tried to pin something down, it was gone. Home? No, nothing there. When she was thinking about something else, she could remember the smell of the kitchen, or the feel of the old leather couch, or hugs. She remembered hugs the most often. School? Chalk dust and notebook paper and exactly how to fold a note for maximum cuteness and pass-ability.

read on…

Over-eaters’ Anonymous, a story of Fairy Town for Patreon Patrons

The support group met in the basement of a building that had, at one point, been a school. No church would accept them, no current school, no Y or rec center or even town hall – and it wasn’t like they had any question about why. They all knew why they were there, and it wasn’t like the name of their group, Over-eaters’ Anonymous, was actually fooling anyone.

They slipped in from separate entrances: through the floor, through the vents, a couple through one of the three doors into the old classroom….
read on…

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Planting some Good

Written to kelkyag‘ prompt here to my Summer Giraffe Call Round 2. This plays off of and comes after The Fairy Road

The park in the middle of the city had always been creepy. In this city, that was hardly surprising, especially for the thousands of people who had no power of their own but enough of the blood to sense what was going on. The park had power, power by the boatload, and it had danger and ghosts twice on top of twice the power it had. For a small thing, a city block crossed by stone, it was fraught with history and with meaning, and it was so overgrown as to be more of a tangle than a park.

It would take careful handling, but Whitney had found that many things did. She started in the library, reading every article the Local History librarians could find her, down to the smallest clippings, single lines in the crime blotter, short paragraphs in obituaries, mentions in the Floral Column when she went back far enough.

She got permission by submitting a form that was ignored — that being the way of city bureaucracy — and she started slow, taking the earlier bus so she could have an hour in the mornings to work, carrying tools and plants in her gym bag.

“On this spot,” she told the dandelions and the thistles, “Emory MacDonald proposed to Dahlia Stonemason. He knelt here, in the alyssum, and her tears fell on the sidewalk.” She pulled weeds and smoothed down dirt, finding, under all the overgrowth, the marble border some long-ago gardener had placed with care. Into the fresh dirt, she planted some alyssum and watered them with bottled water.

“On this spot,” she told a particularly nasty weed a few days later, “Sally Hennings vanished. They say she’d collapsed, been hit so badly she had had lost consciousness, but when the police arrived, she was gone, never to resurface.” There she planted lilies, setting the bulbs in little circles so she could dig them up for the winter if she needed.

That was a Friday; in one week she had cleared an area 2 feet deep by five feet wide. But when she returned on Monday, she found she was not working alone.

“Here,” the translucent man told her, “a woman kissed her lover for the last time before the war.” He knelt down and dug, translucent or not, and daffodils — bright and flowering and out of season — replaced the matted weeds.

“Here,” a slim creature who had never been human sang, “They buried a diary. The book is gone, but the story remains.” Ivy twined from its feet, filling the shaded area with brilliant greenery.

Whitney did not turn, but she knew the voice that had come behind her. “This place has many a story, woman of the city, and you have no debt to it nor to its denizens. You will be a long time at unearthing them all, even with the help.”

“It needs to be done,” Whitney replied, although she could not have said why. “So I shall do it.”

“Very well, then. You will have the time and the space to do it in.” His voice had the finality of fairy gifts, but still, he sounded kind.

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Blood on the Stone

* The next time an icon day comes around, someone remind me I need a good icon of some sort for Fairy Town?
* Written to flofx‘s commissioned prompt: A continuation of Old Stories and old Fates.
* Fairy Town has a landing page here..

There were things those people in their tainted church would never say. There were things that no-one in this tainted town would even whisper, not even Bishop MacNamilla. There were things that you didn’t even think.

And one of those things was this: there were fairies and fairies. There were the things that looked like people, that you called “fairies,” or didn’t really even call that so much as shape the label around the space they filled. They went to work with you, if you were a lay person. They owned houses and shopped and, to a casual tourist, looked human. But they were a little strange, a little eccentric, a little tainted.

And then there were the demons that were actually fairies, the spirits and sprites, goblins and boggarts, monsters and mice, and they hid in the wild spaces, lurked around the gateways, lingered anywhere there were too many of the first sort, anywhere there was belief, anywhere the god had touched.

This altar, the place where it was said the god had Lain His Hand, was so thick with fairies it was a wonder the Bishop could move at all.

And every single one of them had heard of him. Is this the one that killed us? Is this the one that shed the blood?

Fairies, true fairies, had ways of knowing who you were that didn’t rely on faces or fingerprints or skin that was once smooth and now was sagging. Fairies, the real ones, it was said, knew your souls.

Bishop MacNamilla figured that was probably true. Most demons would, wouldn’t they?

He stood, his feet spread and his arms loose at his sides. So he had stood, once, explaining to the elders what needed to happen. So he had stood, over the graves of the demons, over the graves of the fairies, his hands soaked with their blood. So he had stood, when he had been weak.

He had let the children go, the spawn. He had let some of the females go, too. And the final nail in their coffin, the living victim – he had not been able to do that, either. He had been weak.

And now he was far, far weaker in body – and far, far stronger in will. He straightened his spine and looked at them, the demons deep in this holy place.

Is he the one? Is this the spirit-killer? Is this the Unholy Thing? Their voices buzzed around him. Their hands brushed over him, leaving places that were too hot or too cold. Their noses sniffed at him, rubbing their scent over him in turn. They couldn’t let it stand. They couldn’t let him live, not after what he’d done.

He was ready for it. Bishop MacNamilla raised his chin and looked them in as much of eyes as any of them had. They would kill him, of course. And his blood would spill over the god-stone. And then the world would shudder and the old magic, the old divinity, would awaken, and all this taint would be cleansed from the world.

His vision was blurring. The Bishop realized with some alarm that he was having trouble breathing. He was seeing spots. He was…

He slumped to the ground in front of the god-stone, his blood unspilled.

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The Bishop Speaks, a story of FairyTown

Written to flofx‘s commissioned prompt: “Bishop Macnamilla says ‘The elders did not listen to me. They were squeamish’ in Faries in the Church. Just what happened between Macnamilla and the elders? How much did he tell them of what he wanted to do?”

Fairy Town has a landing page here.. This story is set a few decades or more before the “current” storyline.

Bishop Tanner studied the young priest standing in front of him. “Father Macnamilla. I see you are visiting us yet again.”

The others on the diocese’s council of elders shifted uncomfortably. Bishop Tanner didn’t fault them for that – Father Macnamilla brought an aura of discomfort with him. But they needed to remain firm and in control, or the hot-headed priest would be causing them more than just discomfort.

“I will continue to visit you until you listen to reason. I will continue to visit you until this diocese does what needs to be done.”

Bishop Tanner cleared his throat. “I’m sure that it appears to you…”

“No, no, Bishop Tanner. This is not a matter of what ‘appears to me.’ This is a matter of the holy writs and the scriptures of the Blessed Oren. This is a matter of what must be.

The Father Above save him from zealots with books. “Ah, but the Gospel of the Blessed Leah-“

“Leah was a heretic and no fit prophet!” The young priest’s shout made the rafters shake and the elders flinch. “Don’t you see – can’t you see? Are you truly so blinded by the taint of this place-“

Bishop Tanner cleared his throat again, far more loudly this time. If Father Macnamilla kept going on about taint, Elder Judith was going to say something, and if she said something –

Well, if she said what he feared, then they would all be in a world of hurt. “Please tell me, Father Macnamilla, your plan, then.”

The priest was only too glad to comply. “The consecrated land of all our churches in this Diocese had been filled with the -” he hesitated, eyed the Bishop, and chose another word “-the unique air of this city, but that air belongs… belongs in places that are not the church. Fairies…” he spoke as if navigating his way through a mindfield, suddenly far quieter “…they do not belong in churches.”

Elder Judith might disagree, but Elder Judith had always understood her place on the Elder Council was on sufferance.

“Fairies do not believe in churches.” Bishop Tanner nodded. “If one ignores the Gospel of the Blessed Leah, this is truth as the Church acknowledges it, yes.”

“And, if the Church is going to remain ascendant and pure, we must purge the fairies from our churches.”

Bishop Tanner hid a wince. This was not the conversation to have in such a forum. “There are doctrines for this, yes.”

“Then why is the Church doing nothing?” Father Macnamilla slammed his fist into his open palm. “I’ll tell you why. Because the congregations have grown soft. Because the priests and the bishops and the cardinals have grown soft. Because fairy magic is tempting and we have all been led into temptation!”

“Father Macnamilla, this is not your pulpit.” Bishop Tanner found the strength to silence the tirade, but he feared it was too late. The words were out.

“No.” The young priest looked not at all calmed. “But I tell you, Bishop Tanner, it is not the pulpit where you will have to worry about me. Unlike many members of the city… my parishioners have not gone soft.”

“If you act outside the doctrines, you will be defrocked.”

“Oh, have no fear, Bishop Tanner.” The man was mad, truly mad. “I will act entirely within the doctrines and gospels.”

He stalked out, leaving Bishop Tanner to calm an agitated elders’ council. Between the elders and the thousand other small crises that attack a diocese in a city fairy-strong, it was weeks before Bishop Tanner truly had time to think about the father’s words again.

And by the time he opened the old doctrines to find what Father Macnamilla was talking about, the blood had already starting spilling.

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