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The Bellamy, Chapter Two

A new series!

Veronika, two hours later, was pleased that learning fast was one of her chief traits.  She repeated back a bit of esoterica Uma had been working on hammering into her head and was rewarded by an actual smile from the woman. 

“Good.  I do believe that by lunch time you’ll have it all.  You’re quite good at this. That name…?”

“No relation, as far as I know.  But my family has been in library and museum work for several generations.”

“Ah, libraries, museums.”  Uma’s gesture was so dismissive Veronika really had to work not to take offense.  “They’re similar to the Bellamy, of course, but nothing is quite like the Bellamy.  We here are an Institution.  More than that, we are a fixture of the country and especially of this county.  What museum can say that?”

Several could, including several that Veronika’s family had worked in or still did, but she said, politely, “I stand corrected.”

Uma smiled, dropped the matter as if she had forgotten it, and moved on to the next lesson, which happened to involve intake of donations.  

The first portion of the lesson was nothing at all surprising, simply involving the Bellamy’s standard rule of anything brought into the Bellamy must be noted, whether it be a person or a donation or a creature.  When someone wished to donate books or statues or old suits of armor to the Bellamy, the woman manning the front desk would note everything available about both the donor and the donation before putting it – as much as possible – into the cart for the appropriate division. A good third of the lesson was simply on what department which sorts of donations would go to. 

But then Uma continued on, as if she was saying nothing at all unusual, “if the donation is still alive – or at least breathing or making noises and moving – then you must not only log it but make certain it is contained.  We cannot have donations simply wandering about the Bellamy. They leave all sorts of messes and get into all sorts of trouble. For those, you’ll go down this hatch here,” she tapped her foot in a specific spot in the floor and a hatch popped open, easily large enough to fit two abreast and revealing a wide, sturdy-looking staircase of cut stone.  “And bring the donation and the donor with you. The donor is responsible for the donation until it is placed in one of these cages. After that, contact the appropriate department and move from there.”

There was a very large dog in one of the cages, but the others – which ranged in size from rabbit-size to tiger-sized – were all empty.  “So the dog-?”

“I contacted Hunting and Trophies. He’s a Great Mastiff Winslow Hunter, a very rare breed indeed.  I believe they have two others, and hopefully one of those is a female.”

“The Bellamy collects… animals?”

“The Bellamy collects everything.”  This time, Uma looked quite disappointed in her. “We wouldn’t be much of an archive if we didn’t, now would we?  So, with living donations, the process is almost entirely the same as with non-living donations, but you may have to contact several departments until you reach one which accepts the donation.  If they take their time – this will also happen with non-living donations, but it is less urgent, of course – you will need to feed and water the donations. Here is the sink,” she gestured, and then filled a pitcher from that sink which she used to fill a suitably large bowl for the mastiff.  “And then here is the food cupboard. Get as close as you can.” 

As close as you can.  Veronika watched as Uma opened the cupboard.  There were large containers marked with things like Canine, bovine, caprine, feline, humanoid.

Humanoid.

Uma filled an equally large bowl with the canine food and slid it to the mastiff.  “Twice a day, and twice a day, afterwards, remind the department that they have a donation here.  You don’t want to let them forget about it, because they will, and then you will end up feeding someone’s horse for weeks.  At least the rest of it is cleaned up by the belt system.”

She pushed a button; a set of bells chimed and then the floor under the mastiff moved slowly backwards, the food dishes staying in their place but everything else being swept off.  The mastiff moved its feet in time with the belt until another bell chimed and the belt stopped. 

“Most creatures learn fast.  Some just let themselves be pushed against the back wall.  Those, those I call their department three or four times a day.  They can get a little smelly rather quickly.”

Veronika decided she was going to assume humanoid meant some sort of fairy or golemn and tried to forget about it for the time being.  “All right, twice a day any living collections are watered, fed, the belts run, and then we remind the department in question to come pick them up.  You have a log for that?”

“We have logs for everything.”  Uma’s smile looked tired, more like exhausted.  “I’ll show you.”

Back upstairs they went and Uma produced a log labelled Live Donation Holding.  She flipped to the page held by a green ribbon and marked the date, the time, and the animal. 

Veronika scanned the rest of the page – it went back two months with only three other living donations – a cat and a horse.  The cat had taken the longest for a department to pick up. 

“And now.”  She picked up the headset of an ancient phone and dialed 3 on the rotary dial.  A moment later, Veronika could make out a voice coming from the earpiece. 

Yes Uma – soon.  Very soon.”

“Today, Delphine,” Uma asserted.  “There’s a new archivist training and I don’t want her to have to deal with such things her first week.”

“-break her in.  Better if-“

“Today, Delphine,” Uma repeated herself.  “Today.  Do not leave poor Miss Bellamy to deal with this beast before she even knows where to find the loo.”

“I still think that she ought- -better when -that way.

“And I’m sure Miss Haas is very interested in your ideas, but I am training Miss Bellamy.  Today, Delphine.”

Uma hung up.  “I do apologize for that.  Delphine has been here since the Greek kalendae, and she does tend to be rather stuck in her ways.  She’d prefer we just set new archivists loose on the beginning of their first day and trail along later to sweep up what remains of the first ninety-nine of a hundred, as happened in her time.”

Veronika felt like there ought to be at least two places to giggle in that sentence, but Uma didn’t look amused, just – well, apologetic.

“There’s someone like that in every office,” she offered in bland understanding and a sort of conversational filler.  It seemed to work. 

“Hopefully, she’ll be here before you go on lunch and you can meet her, if only to know who to avoid as much as possible.”

“That sounds – well, it sounds wise,” Veronika allowed.  “What are we covering next?”

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The Bellamy, Chapter One

A new series!

“Come on in, come on in.  I wasn’t expecting anyone today, was I?”

The woman smiling at Veronika from the other side of the door – which she had not moved out of sufficiently to allow Veronika to, as suggested, come in – looked far too tidy for her confused expression.  Her salt-and-pepper hair was confined in an amazingly tidy bun; her vest and skirt fit her perfectly; her glasses were held on a decorative beaded string that coordinated with her outfit, and her make-up was on point. 

“I’m not certain,” Veronika admitted.  She, herself, was attempting not to feel untidy – she’d put a lot of work into her outfit and thought she was very nicely coordinated, but this woman….!  “Eve Dirckx contacted me through the temp agency. She told me to come here, to this side door–” she gestured at the door in question and the little parking lot outside of it “–at 8 a.m. today.  Well, the twenty fifth of November at 8 a.m…?” Veronika was beginning to wonder if she’d gotten something awfully wrong. “This is the Bellamy Manor Archival Library and Museum, yes?”

“The twenty-fifth of November – Wednesday?”  The woman peered at her over her glasses.

“Monday?” Veronika offered. Continue reading

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Smooth Criminal

🌌

When the Illamorrow Confederacy no longer knew what to do with someone, they gave them one last wish and then put them on a derelict ship with sufficient fuel to leave Confederacy space. 

When the Illamorrow Confederacy no longer knew what to do with someone, it generally meant that all their corrective measures had failed, that all of their warnings had fallen on deaf ears, that all of their attempts to enforce their laws had met with absolutely no repentance or apology. 

The Illamorrow Confederacy was not very good at dealing with outliers, but say this for them, they did try.  They tried over and over again, until sometimes they simply needed to cease trying. 

And then – 

Then you had someone like Fothitwo Twinshee Pren, who had broken, in alphabetical order, every law the Illamorrow Confederacy held dear, and then had broken every restriction and every punishment the Confederacy attempted to apply.   Continue reading

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Other Duties As….

I sort of mushed two of Anke’s prompts together and thus we have this!

⛏️

“Call Dr. Takori.  Now, please.”

Dr. Felin’s admin assistant looked up from her work, stifled a mutter about not doing anything at all, of course not, and dialed Dr. Takori with a push of her fingers before handing Dr. Felin the phone. 

“Yal.  Yal, I need you to see this.  No, I’m calm, what are you talking about, I’m not on blues, Yal, that was a decade ago.”  Dr. Felin’s voice dropped to an annoyed hiss. “Come on, Yal, don’t be like this.  I need you to see this – fine.  Fine, Stana, could you come out here, please?  I promise I won’t throw a fit about any belated procurement, not even the Stygian Cheese Powder.”

Stana swallowed another sigh and followed Dr. Felin, suiting up with the skill of someone who had spent the last 5 years on interstellar digs, out the airlock and from there, to the dig. 

At least this rock had nearly breathable atmosphere, so it could be terraformed – and likely would be, and soon, which meant that Felin was in a bit of a hurry.  It also meant that if there was a suit accident, it wouldn’t be quite so immediately fatal and they had a chance of getting inside before they suffocated on sweet air. 

“Dr. Felin-?” Continue reading

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Felis U

Um. 

🏛️

“Okay, I have to admit that was fun.” Samaya glanced back at their History classroom and then looked over at Reggie with a hopeful smile. 

“Mmm.  Fun.” He was definitely not smiling. 

“What do you think they’ll do next?” she tried. 

Reg – who she’d met yesterday at orientation – was so far less enamored of Felis U’s idiosyncrasies than Samaya was. 

Then again – They’re willing to give you a full ride, and they’re accredited and they’re decently known.  You know we can’t afford to pay for college for you, not with your father being ill…

Samaya had just been glad it hadn’t turned out to be some sort of thin veneer over a work camp or something even worse. But she sort of wanted someone else to be enthusiastic with her. 

“Mm.  Maybe a dog?” Reggie shrugged, still unimpressed. How he could be unimpressed was beyond her, but maybe he was made of rock.  Continue reading

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71st day

A story of holidays! 

Yesterday, I was trying to finish a quest in 4theWords (and I did!) and I asked for prompts – here on Mastodon and here on Twitter. (Still open if something strikes your fancy; I’m having fun with writing prompt stories right now). 

🎃

She’d done so well.

It was nearly dawn on the tenth of December and Xamira was sitting on her porch, watching the world and, perhaps, gloating a little bit.

Moving it earlier had been the easy part.

The pumpkin spice had been a boon, she had to admit. Xamira sipped her latte and licked the slightly-cinnamon-flavoured whipped cream off of her lip. She owed her sister in the coffee industry a favor for that one — now, even if they had never tasted a proper pumpkin pie or carved a jack-o-lantern, people started thinking Pumpkin as soon as the first chilly night came.

The crafts industry had been a big plus, too. Xamira had three blogs where she talked about autumnal crafts, autumnal cooking, and costume-making. Her Gluten, Nut, and Dairy-Free Ladyfingers (shaped like real fingers and with only natural food colorings!!) were such a hit that at least once a year her server crashed. Ditto the $10 Costumes that look like $100+ and Beyond the Sexy Everything: looking Hot on Halloween without Fishnet.

There were even posts up now on r/HotHalloween — Started to plan next year’s costumes (yes plural). What do you think about the librarian from the Mummy?

This year, Xamira hadn’t even had to start the planning-for-next-year posts; they’d just popped up organically.

That part — and Seven Spooky Wreaths You Can Make in a Weekend, and then My Husband Decorated My House for the Holiday, Can You Top It? — those were all her, no favors to a sister or cousin needed, and Xamira  was pleased. The cinnamon on her tongue tasted like victory, like that PTA meeting where she’d first suggested they hold Practice Trick or Treating the week or two weeks before in the school, so kids “knew what to expect.” (which turned out to be mostly more candy). Xamira had done a lot on her own.

Of course, she did have a cousin in inflatables who had pushed the first “spooky” lawn decorations for the season — Xamira smiled across the street at the neighbors’ yard, where a dragon taller than their first floor puffed menacingly at passers-by. And once you got people to decorate, especially outside, then inertia would help everything along and those decorations would stay up longer, and longer…

Xamira had managed to take a small holiday whose influence lasted a few days at best to a season-long extravaganza of pumpkins, candy, and being someone else for a while.

She sipped her latte again as the sun crested the horizon, and sighed as a sort of pepperminty swirl touched her tongue. 70 days. She had managed 70 days.

But on the 71st day, no matter what she did, Christmas reigned.

Across the street, the neighbors’ dragon became a giant tree. Xamira wrapped her shawl around herself and headed inside before the cold really came.

70 days was quite impressive, she told herself again. Nobody else had managed that much.

Maybe next year she’d aim for a post-Labor-Day sale. Back to School with Pumpkins?

Dress Up for your First Day … as a cat!

She had time. Even redditor CostumeFreak only had two sketches and one costume prototype done yet.

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For non-USians, Labor Day is generally considered the end of summer in the US. 

It’s the first Monday in September & is one of our Federal Holidays.

Inflatable Dragon.

Inflatable Christmas Tree.

Ladies’ Fingers.

Pumpkin Spice Latte – now earlier than ever!

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Meter Maid

This story was written because Anke posted this toot and I had an idea. 

There’d been a time when Pat’s co-workers had snickered “meter maid” when Pat left for work, but that time – that had been before the city had managed to push through a very obscure translation of a caelo usque ad centrum and managed to make it stick by the sheer tenacity of the city’s lawyers.

Now – now Pat suited up, along with a brigade of other meter maids, grey ghosts, and they strapped onto their jet scooters.

Nobody parked illegally in the city anymore.  There’d been one case, a month ago.  The people nearby had physically moved the car out of the illegal spot and into a fountain several blocks away.  Nobody had listened to the illegal-parker’s complaints.

People fed the meters and the city allowed it, because someone was paying for that spot.  People went out of their way to park tidily.

And Pat and the grey ghosts jetted up into the sky, up out of the atmosphere, and into the parking spots around the asteroid belt and the city’s first space station.   It wasn’t a safe job, not with the Ih(oh)ill bombers still swooping down at seemingly random intervals to hit the stations or the miners, not with the Higun being, well, as Higun as possible in an attempt to counter rumors that them not attacking Earth was a sign of cowardice, not with some of the unknown aliens still trying to test out Earth’s strength on occasion instead of just ignoring their laws and, say, their parking regulations.

But when you could slap a parking ticket and a drive inhibitor on a Higun spacehopper and then very politely explain the city laws, when you dodged an Ih(oh)ill bomber and managed to hit it with an illegal-driving outside of accepted lanes ticket which came with not only the drive inhibitor but also an immediate impound order (self-reinforcing, of course, like the drive inhibitor), when you caught some alien equivalent of a teenager trying to park in the park (which would be “it is free space, no? Then free it should be for any activity.”) and slapped them with just a big enough fine to make them think about pranking some other city next time –

It still wasn’t a safe job, not by a very long shot.  But it was a fun job.

And Pat’s fellow officers saluted when the grey ghosts left and cheered when they came home, and that made it even more fun.

 

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Meter maid (and Wiktionary) and Grey Ghost.

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A Dream Fic – The Russian’s Motives

Today’s Great NanoWrimo Prompt Call tale was prompted by my subconcious, i.e., it’s a dream written down.  Cheers!

Content warning for: slavery, suggested violence, some actual violence and abuse, a good deal of objectification of at least one character. 

swear I posted this the other day, but it’s still in my drafts. Soooo again, apologies if this is a duplicate.

The Great NanoWrimo Prompt Call

They were waiting, there wasn’t a better word for it.  They were quiet, idle, sitting around the lounge.  Except that he wasn’t sitting with the rest of them – neither he nor a couple of those who sympathized more with him, with what he was, had been, would be, than they did with the situation they found him in. Continue reading

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Pumpkin, Spice

I cannot find that I posted this anywhere. If it’s a duplicate, apologies!

“All right, I have three partial dictionaries from back then.”

Aatu waited patiently for Vijaya to finish digging through her piles.  “And – hrm.  One cookbook from that era, or, I mean, three pages of it.  Free of charge, Aatu, as long as you give me a sample when you’re done.”

“Thanks, Vijaya.  You’re a lifesaver.”

“Nah, I’m just a word-saver.  Go on with you.  Kairu is going to want to know what you want well in advance, you know.” Continue reading

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Pheromones

Apparently, what happens when I have too much time to think in a hotel.

🧼

“You put what in the shampoo?”

“I didn’t put it in the shampoo, I changed our contract to a company that put it in the personal care products.”  Lorin wasn’t visibly on the defensive, yet, but there was a bit of a shoulder-shift going on. 

“Okay, so, our contractor put what in the ‘personal care products?'” Auria was not at all mollified by Lorin’s “correction.”

“Pheromones.   Not a lot, no, just a tiny bit.  Just enough to make people who visit our hotel feel like they’re part of an in-group, part of a select clan.  Just enough to make them breathe in and think ah, home about our hotel and our guests.” Lorin had clearly read all of the marketing material. Twice.

“Lorin. We are hosting a fantasy convention this weekend.  Every room we were willing to book is triple-occupied if not quintuple-occupied, and that’s not counting the guests they think we don’t know about.  So figure an average of 4.5 guests to each room.  They’re almost all requesting extra toiletries. Extra towels.  And they are spending all day in the main Conference Spaces.  Do you see the problem? Do you see?”

Auria gestured broadly towards the lobby, not that she needed to.  There were clearly two groups: those who had taken advantage of the toiletries and those who had not.  Or so one could assume from the very tight gathering of one group and the far looser gathering on the other side, the smiles and slightly tilted heads vs. the slightly stand-offish body language, the more tidy costumes, in some cases, vs. not.  Those who were in the first group were looking almost beatific.   And those in the second were looking both left-out and  irritated.

“So… you’re saying.”  Lorin looked at Auria, then back at the lobby, then back at Auria, “that I should encourage the rest of them to try our new hand soap?”

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