Choice Bites–Minna

As I developed my characters from the War against Boris series, stories began to emerge. Here’s one of them.

THE CHOICE: MINNA

One of those summer days doused in grey…I ride my bike to the beach to collect shells. As I comb the surf-soaked sands, a man’s voice snaps me out of the zone.

‘Found anyone interesting?’

‘Nup, no bodies,’ I murmur.

‘That’s a shame, a nice looking lady like you.’’

I fix my sight on shards of shell and ignore him. Hate those pickup lines.

‘Oh, what’s your problem? I’m not going to bite.’

I glance at him—had to see what creep I’m dealing with. Pale, pock-marked face, thirties and just a little taller than me at 165cm. In a grubby white t-shirt and brown trousers. “Never trust a man who wears brown trousers,” my school friend Liesel always said.

‘Come on, dear, just a little conversation. Tell me, what do you want more than anything in the world.’

I shrug. ‘To leave me alone.’

‘Tell you what, you tell me and I’ll leave you alone. Deal?’

I push my bike faster trying to escape this man, but he follows me.

‘I promise, I’ll leave you alone—just tell me.’

Hopping on my bike I announce, ‘I don’t talk to strangers.’

‘I’m not going to hurt you. I bet, I bet you’re one of those girls who wants to get married, have a family. That’s what you want more than anything.’

‘If you say so, now leave me alone,’ I say and then speed from the creepy little man with his creepy questions.

‘Your desire will be arranged,’ he says as I splash my wheels through the water. He then shouts, ‘But, I might add, there will be a price.’

‘Sure, sour grapes,’ I mumble. Then pumping the pedals, I sail along the damp-packed sand where the waves meet the shore.

Then, near the ramp and having to cross sand too soft for bike wheels, I glance behind before alighting.

The man in brown trousers is gone…

A short story from another project relating to that alien cockroach, Boris, “Choice Bites© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016, updated 2022

Painting: Sellicks Beach—where Mission of the Unwilling begins © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015 [Mixed media]

***

Want More?

More than before?

Read more on the war against the fiend you love to hate; an overgrown alien cockroach, Boris.

Click on the links below:

The Lost World of the Wends

The Hitch-hiker

Mission of the Unwilling

Tuesday Thoughts–On Writing

[Again, COVID, that uninvited guest has thwarted my visit to Carol’s. This time although she’s well, she’s a close contact and must isolate for 7 days. Meanwhile, I have been working on my writing and have been reflecting on what I have learnt makes for a good story.]

Unbelievable to Believable

Unbelievable, that’s what they said about my novel. Unbelievable. Is that why my first novel, Mission of the Unwilling has failed to thrive? Why there’s no feedback? Or is it a case of someone who’s not a Young Adult, and just not into Sci-Fi?

Whatever, I consider this feedback valid and believable. Over the next few months, I plan to revisit Minna’s world and her adventures at the mercy of Boris and learn from my venture into self-publishing. Nothing is wasted. The take-away from the most recent honest feedback—make my stories believable.

What does this mean for me as I refine the craft of story-telling?

  1. My characters are real to the reader.
  2. The setting is authentic, so that the reader can step into my constructed “world” suspending all disbelief.
  3. The audience buy into the journey they take into that world.

But, what does “suspending disbelief” mean. I mean, really? I mean, when I revisit my stories, to me, the characters are alive, the setting an on-site movie set, and I gladly invest in the tale told. Not so for some of my readers, apparently. In truth, I’m too close to my work to view it objectively. I need and appreciate feedback from others. I’d go as far as to say that most writers benefit from a second, third, fourth or umpteenth pair of eyes to make their work the best it possibly can be.

Photo: How believable do you find Sherlock Holmes? © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2014

So, from the perspective as a reader, that extra pair of eyes on other works, here’s what I’ve learnt that suspends disbelief and do some unpacking of techniques that make characters, setting and journey more believable.

  1. Believable characters: Someone with whom you connect. You know that person. You’ve met them. You’ve had lunch them. You’ve admired them. They’ve annoyed you with their quirky habits. They’re those people you see across a crowded coffee shop and already you’ve constructed a whole story around them, by observing their posture, expressions and gestures. You invest time following what they’ll do, what will happen to them. Believable characters don’t have to be human, but they do need human qualities and personality for readers to relate to them.
  2. Believable setting: Best woven into the forward-moving action of the story. The writer describes the setting with the five senses, what you: 1) see, 2) hear, 3) touch, 4) smell, and 5) taste. And for the world to be memorable, the author picks up something unique or odd about the place. For example, I may write of Palm Valley in Central Australia, ‘Ghost gums jut out of the tangerine rock-face, and a soft wind rustles through the prehistoric palms.’
  3. Believable Story: You need to convince your readers that such a sequence of events can happen. A skilful writer uses the technique of cause and effect. The character makes a choice, and their actions result in consequences often leading to dilemma that must be resolved. Readers are more likely to engage with proactive characters who influence their environment and others, and who make active choices to change and grow, rather than the passive characters who have every disaster happen to them, and their problems magically solved.

Yes, pile on the misery, pile on the challenges, don’t be afraid to get your characters into strife; that’s what the reader’s looking for. But remember, the chain of events must be believable. An article by Laurence Block, Keeping Your Fiction Shipshape*, describes the relationship between storyteller and audience is like enticing readers onto a cruise ship, keeping them there, and delivering them back to port with a good satisfying end.

It’s the skill of the storyteller to convince the audience. If the characters are believable, the setting is believable, and the action believable, your readers will enjoy the ride and complete the journey you, as the storyteller, takes them on.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

Feature Photo: Line up for Notre dame Cathedral © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2014

[Why Notre dame? Victor Hugo, the author of Hunchback of Notre-Dame, spent the first three-quarters of the book describing the setting. Useful if you visit Paris, but does nothing for moving the story forward.

Also tourists willing to invest in the journey to climb Notre-Dame by waiting several hours in the long line that stretched the length of the Cathedral. What will they see? The gargoyles (characters), a view of Paris (setting) and a climb and walk through the Cathedral (the journey).]

*Reference: Laurance Block, “Keeping Your Fiction Shipshape”, article in The Writers Project Handbook of Novel Writing © 1992

***

Read more, and lose yourself in this tale where the nineteenth century meets the twenty-first…

Click on the link,

To download my novel

The Lost World of the Wends

Or…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Bonfire on the Beach (2)

Bonfire on the Beach

Part 2

[Tuesdays with Carol is on hold as a certain virus has accosted a close family member and so, we are in isolation. By the way, Carol, when I informed her, was most thankful her godson (my son), needed my assistance as mum’s taxi for some shopping last Thursday. If he hadn’t, I would’ve visited her that Thursday afternoon potentially putting her at risk.

Anyway, here’s the conclusion of Bonfire on the Beach where the murder mystery begins…]

Hit and Run

With a hip flask between best friends, Fifi and Lillie slipped away, gliding along the shore and up the ramp to the road. Kangaroo-skin blanket wrapped around them, the girls perched on a seat overlooking the miniature party scene. The orange glow of the revived bonfire danced in the cove below them. While they gossiped, topic of conversation focussing on Wally, the crisp air carried the beat of The Doors and Sven’s Ford Falcon XB rumbling up the ramp.

Lillie rubbed notches in the seat. Four lines scratched into the backrest. ‘What does this mean?’

‘Some local stud’s score, I reckon.’ Fifi traced the lines. ‘Fox’s probably.’

‘Not much of a stud, then,’ Lillie scoffed, ‘Geoffrey Fox must’ve had more than four conquests. Surely.’

A roar ripped through their conversation.

‘Excellent! A drag race!’ Fifi said and tore the blanket from Lillie.

Fifi waddled to the empty patch of bitumen.

Shivering, Lillie followed and peered down the peninsula. As the headlights approached, a dull thud and a torso, arms and legs flying, altered their curiosity. One headlight wobbled; its radiance extinguished.

Fifi tottered towards the action. ‘What was that?’

‘Probably just a roo.’

‘And what roo has two legs and arms? I definitely saw two legs and arms. I’m going to have look.’

The girlfriends reached the spot. Motorbike shattered on the pavement. Body tangled around a pole, eyes glassy, staring into eternity.

Lillie’s gaze fixated on the human wreckage; mutilation mingled with man’s frailty into her memory.

Fifi dragged Lillie down the ramp. ‘Come, we can’t just stand here. We better tell the others, someone.’

Fox reclined by the fire hypnotised by the flames.

Jimmy, through a mouthful of crisps, said, ‘A good thing that Wally wasn’t there otherwise he would be raving about the grisly details till morning.’

‘It was Wally,’ Lillie said and wiped her dripping nose.

‘Oh,’ Jimmy said and popped a large curly crisp into his mouth and munched.

Unimpressed Fifi yanked at Lillie’s arm. ‘Come on, Lillie. We better see what we can do for the poor bloke.’

A group of pensioners hovered over the blood-stained sheet. Leaning up against the warped pole, a man with black rimmed glasses and bulging nose wagged his head. ‘There was nothing we could do.’

Wrapped in a lavender quilted dressing gown, a woman, hair in rollers, gawked. ‘Poor fellow. What a waste!’

Blood splatters glinted in the streetlight. Acid brewed in Lillie’s stomach. She held her throat and gulped. ‘I don’t feel so well. Let’s go back down.’

‘If you insist.’ Fifi trailed after her friend, hanging back, stopping as the ambulance arrived, watching as it ferried the latest statistic towards the red glow of Adelaide.

Back at the bonfire, Lillie nestled up to Geoffrey Fox. She didn’t want to be alone.

Later, Fox’s Kombi became the couple’s refuge and passion Lillie’s comfort.

Morning: sea watery blue, translucent. Sven emerged from his Falcon. He leant against the bonnet and nursed a jagged dent in the fender. Lillie watched banter between Sven and Jimmy through her flickering sleep-salted eyes.

‘Guess what!’ Jimmy’s mouth frothed with stale left-over beer.

‘What?’ Sven did not look up but continued to stroke and inspect a cracked headlight.

‘Some hoon killed Wally up there.’

Sven shrugged and then adjusted a pair of chipped Polaroid sunglasses on his fine pointed nose.

Crawling out of the Kombi, Lillie hobbled over to the Falcon. ‘Hey, just wait a minute. What’s Wals – How come you’re wearing Wally’s shades, Sven?’

Sven surveyed the placid blue sea. ‘Dunno, they were there, I s’pose.’ He rubbed the damage to his bonnet, frowning as flecks of red paint floated in the breeze. ‘‘Sides he wrecked mine!’

‘And your car? How did you get that dent?’

‘I dunno. Can’t help it if that stupid fatso gets in the way.’ Sven wiped his faded jeans, blotched greasy and brown, purging his hands of sand. ‘It’s what I do to people like Wally and dirty old men.’

‘What do you mean?’ Lille caught her breath and stepped back. ‘Have you done this before?’

‘Ha! Ha! Fooled you!’ Sven tossed his head back and laughed. ‘Geez, sis, you’re so gullible.’

Her brother then climbed into his Ford, spun the wheels, and flew over the firm damp shore, shrinking into the distance, towards Aldinga beach, then returning.

Lillie kicked sand into the ashes. ‘I feel sick. What are we going to do?’

Fifi squirmed in her sleeping bag. ‘Huh? What do you mean?’

‘Last night. Wally. You know.’

Poking her head from the hood, Fifi faced Lillie and narrowed her eyes. ‘Last night? Nothing happened, okay? Nothing happened. We were at Dee’s party – If anyone asks. Okay?” She turned her head to the others and enunciated each syllable. ‘Isn’t that right.’

Jimmy charged his stubby and nodded.

Fox poked his head out the Kombi’s open window. ‘Yep, Dee’s.’

‘But – but…Dee’s my worst enemy. No one will believe that I would’ve been at Dee’s,’ Lillie said and heaped more sand on the coals. ‘We can’t just – they’ll know. And the old people…up there…they saw us.’

‘Look, Lillie,’ Sven said, ‘the police are up there right now investigating. No one has come down to interview us. So, leave it alone.’

‘Look, Lillie, I’ll figure something out. Okay? Anyway, we didn’t see anything. It’s not our problem.’ Fifi scrambled from her bag and smoothed sand with her foot over the campsite. ‘Now, we better disappear.’

Sven dusted his hands of sand. ‘Best we don’t get involved.’

In silent haste, the group joined Fifi’s efforts to erase all evidence of their existence there.

As the golden orb of sun peeped over the barren slopes, the red Ford Falcon and orange Kombi made a slow procession, tyres treading with respect over the shards of glass, then pelting on the highway North to the city.

A young traffic constable Dan Hooper admired the sleek red Ford Falcon as he made his way down Main South Road towards the fatal accident scene from the previous night. Reminded him of the Mad Max film he had watched on a video player at Dee’s party the previous night.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Fire © L.M. Kling 2008

***

Free till Thursday April 21

In the mid-nineteenth century, a village of Wends, on their way to Australia, mysteriously disappeared…

Who was responsible? How did they vanish?

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends   

The Lost World of the Wends–Free

The Lost World of the Wends

In the Morgue

[An extract from my novel, The Lost World of the Wends on Amazon Kindle and in print.]

A crack and a flash. Then everything went dark.

Friedrich was sure it was his fault. He was always getting smacks or the belt from his father—usually for not polishing his boots perfectly. Or for spilling milk on the floor. But when he saw the blue line in the air, the urge to escape, was too great. This was not the first time he’d ventured beyond the thin blue line under the outhouse. He just had to go through the light—for Wilma…

Then bang. Everything went black…

Friedrich put out his hands and shuffled forward. He groped for a wall, a surface, anything to orient himself.

He tripped over some bulk. He fell onto it. It groaned.

Friedrich scrambled to his feet. His mouth went dry. It was like his heart, lungs and guts were in his mouth. Oh, no! I’m on an alien world without light and with groaning monsters.

The thing at his feet moaned. It sounded like a man.

Friedrich gulped. He knelt down. He held out his shaking hand. He touched something soft and greasy. Was that hair under his fingertips?

‘Who are you?’ he asked in his Silesian language. ‘What’s your name?’

The man-thing with hair moaned again and then mumbled what sounded like forbidden words in another language. He’d heard Joseph use such words when angry.

‘My name’s Friedrich,’ the boy said. ‘And you?’

‘Oh, the pain! The pain!’ the man-thing said in that strange language. It did sound like the tongue Joseph and Amie used. They spoke using similar sounds when they were together.

Friedrich presumed the man spoke English. But he knew few English words, so he still hoped the man understood his native language. ‘How are you?’

‘Oh, the pain! My stomach! My head!’

Friedrich traced the head, the shoulders, arms and distended stomach. ‘You’re a man, aren’t you?’ He patted the spongy surface in the middle.

The man groaned and squirmed.

‘You’re a sick man,’ Friedrich said using the word in his language “krank”.

‘Too right, I’m cranky!’ the man straightened up. He grabbed Friedrich’s wrist. ‘And who the heck are you?’

‘Huh?’

‘What?’

‘Huh? What?’

‘What? Huh?’

Friedrich shook his hand free from the man. How was he to make sense of this man in the dark? How was he to make this man understand him? Joseph and Amie could speak his native tongue, Silesian, but this man couldn’t, apparently. Friedrich rubbed his hand.

‘Who are you?’ the man asked. ‘Where the frick are we?’

What was this man saying?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Bat-Man © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

***

Take a Free Trip this Easter Holiday to

The Lost World of the Wends

Free on Kindle

From Sunday 17 April till Thursday 21 April (US timezone)

To download,

Click on the link,

The Lost World of the Wends

Or…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Sunday Story–Bonfire

Bonfire on the Beach

Part 1

[I first wrote this story over thirty years ago in response to a newspaper murder mystery competition. Upon completing the story, I never submitted it for scrutiny. Since then, the tale has endured several edits and reworkings, the latest being just last week.

The story is pure fantasy but is based on real life events from my youth. Over the last 30 years the characters have evolved to become on the whole, fictional.

Note, bonfires are no longer permitted on beaches near Adelaide. However, cars are still allowed to drive on the sands of some beaches south of Adelaide, such as Sellicks Beach.]

The Uninvited

The five friends huddled in the firelight, reflecting on the ritual burning of Lillie’s matriculation Modern History textbooks and the year past. The Doors boomed in the background.

A sand-splattered blood-red Ford Falcon XB and a bright orange Kombi-van, guarded Geoffrey Fox and Lillie Hughson, Lillie’s older brother Sven and her best friend Fifi Edwards and Fifi’s brother Jimmy from any unwanted intruders.

An old man on the cliff top waved an angry fist, his threats carried away by the sharp November breeze. Sven returned the gesture shaking his fist with menace at the old man.

‘Sven!’ Lillie slapped Sven’s arm. ‘Behave yourself! You might be a brickie, but you don’t need to act like one.’

‘Nothing wrong with brickies, Lillie. Anyway, that old man, he’s probably calling for Wally,’ Fifi said while rubbing her nose. The sea air icy and stung with salt. She had moulded into Sven’s embrace. ‘Hey, Sven, you’re so cool, yet so hot.’

A burst of laughter. The tape came to a climactic end and petered out.

‘Hey, hey, have you heard this?’ Fifi wet her lips. ‘Six o’clock. The whole street was quiet, not a sound was heard. Except the occasional croak of a cricket as night fell.’ Mesmerized by the lapping waves and rhythm of Fifi’s voice, the others listened. ‘All was calm, then out of the darkness, a cry pierced the air.’

Jimmy, Fifi’s older brother shovelled a handful of salt and vinegar chips into his mouth and crunched. Lillie glared at him. He paused, chipmunk cheeked, and glued his attention to his sister Fifi.

“Wally! Wal-Wal-Waaalee! Dinner’s ready!”

The five young people roared. Jimmy’s potato chips sprayed out and fuelled the coals. Fifi pouted mimicking Wally’s mother, Mrs. Katz. Lillie joined her. Jerking her legs as if in a Monty Python sketch, Fifi broke free of Sven’s hold and walked a Wally walk, while Lillie jumped from Geoffrey Fox’s embrace and flailed her arms and danced a Wally dance.

Sounds of puttering filled the cove. ‘Who could that be?’ Lillie craned her neck over Sven’s leather clad shoulder to see bulk roaring wheels.

The girls froze, and in unison uttered, ‘Oh, no! Wally!’

More chips spluttered from Jimmy’s mouth and fuelled the coals. Sven rolled up his sleeves. Admiring his wiry yet powerful form, Fifi preened her blonde perm and sighed. ‘Just when we’re having a good time!’

Sand plopped in the flames and their faces. With a grunt his Kawasaki bike scudded, throwing Wally towards a rocky outcrop.

Wally picked himself up and dusted grains from his blubber. He advanced towards the group laughing, ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’.

With his thumbs inserted in his tight pockets, Sven stepped towards the Wally. ‘Who invited you?’

‘Gate crasher! Gate crasher!’ Lillie and Fifi cried, hurling abuse and wads of sand.

Sven pitched his cider bottle. ‘Go home to your mummy, Wally!’

Wally dodged Sven’s missile. ‘Hey, I just wanna good time.’

‘You are not welcome here. Go away.’ Sven plucked up a rock. ‘Move it!’

‘Why not? I have every right to be here.’

‘Are you thick or something?’ Sven shook his stone-wrapped fist.

‘Did you call me thick? Did you call me thick?’

‘Yes, you moron! Now, go home!’ Sven spat and then hurled the stone, crashing it into Wally’s helmet.

‘Hey! That’s my head you hit!’ Wally raised his fists and leered at Sven. ‘You wanna fight?’

‘Be my guest, fool!’ Sven jabbed Wally’s rounded shoulder with his right fist.

‘Oh, cut it out boys!’ Fifi marched to the stoushing males, splitting the two cocks sparring in the shadows.

Uneasy truce, Wally one side of the fire, in the smoke, Sven and the rest of the group crowded on the other side. Waves crashed, the sea’s beat interrupted by the rare plop and thud of dead conversation.

Fifi nudged Lillie. ‘This is boring!’

Lillie rubbed her hands over the glowing coals. ‘Mmm. Why doesn’t Wally take the hint?’

Jimmy munched through his third bagful of chips. Chicken, this time.

Wally coughed. Wally spluttered. Wally blew his nose into a grimy handkerchief and inspected the contents. Wally sidled out of the smoke, closer to the group.

‘Oh, no you don’t!’ Sven poked the embers emitting brief flames. ‘Too crowded over here with you, Wally.’

‘Why not! I’m choking over here,’ Wally said and then cupped the rag over his mouth and insisted edging to the smokeless side.

‘Are you dense?’ Sven lunged at Wally, forcing his boot into the glowing coals. ‘Go home, Wally.’

Wrestling, the rooster and the sumo teetered at the rim of fire, toppled onto the sand crushing beer cans, steam-rolled one on top of the other singeing leather pants and denim jacket, rising from the ashes in a slow dance of boxing and fists and cuffs, and culminating in Sven’s $50 Reflecto Polaroid sunglasses flying into the fire. They melted on impact.

‘My shades! You’ve destroyed my shades!’ Sven clutched Wally’s throat. ‘Get outa here before I kill you!’

Fox who had been hanging back and watching the action, stepped up to Wally. ‘You better go Wally. Nothing personal. But you better take the hint and go.’

Fifi patted Sven on the back, ‘Come on mate, that’s enough fighting for one night. It’s only sunglasses.’

Sven loosened his grip and sauntered towards the boulders, silhouetted by the cliff-face. Wally skulked back to his bike and with a departing roar, pelted sand over the dying coals.

[continued on Tru-Kling Creations…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Sellicks Beach, one afternoon in September © L.M. Kling 2015

***

In the mid-nineteenth century, a village of Wends, on their way to Australia, mysteriously disappeared…

Who was responsible? How did they vanish?

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends   

Sunday Story–Sowing and Reaping

Revenge is best served with a side-salad of Schadenfreude

I have been doing some “housekeeping”, on the computer, that is, searching for files, and sorting them. I came across this tale from my high school days. Wish it were true, but more likely it’s wishful thinking from an over-active imagination.

However, as is the case with so many authors’ works, the following is based on real events, but the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Sowing and Reaping

She perched on the kerb waiting. The minutes stretched, ticking into what seemed to her, an eternity. Cars whizzed past. With each car that emerged around the corner, the hope—her mum’s car. That battered blue FJ Holden, had suffered many knocks in its fifteen years of life. Like me, same age and having suffered hard knocks, she thought. But cars with anonymous drivers passed by and so did her hope…until she just sat…waiting…expectations drained…waiting.

A mixture of gloom and uneasiness had shadowed her all day. Ever since the first period, home class, when Dee, yes, that’s right, Dee, her arch enemy, had sidled up to her and hissed, ‘He’s mine, Lillie. He’s mine. He never liked you. He likes me.’

Dee slithered into her seat; pink lips pursed in a smile. She flicked her brown mane, and then glancing at Lillie, she smirked and then rubbed her hands together. ‘Mine!’ she mimed. ‘All mine.’

Lillie imagined Dee at that moment morphing from the budding model she was, into a female form of Gollum, bent on possessing the ring offered by her latest conquest—Danny. Why else was Dee gloating?

Lillie’s heart plummeted to the pit of her stomach. A drop of rain plopped on the pavement and sizzled. Lillie sighed. She’d seen him—Danny—that morning. Lofty, blonde hair tousled, framing his high cheek-bones, strong jaw and his face all tanned. But Danny hadn’t seen her. He never saw her.

On the way back from chapel, Danny had been walking behind her and she’d worried about her uniform. Was her dress hitched up in her regulation stockings? Autumn and the school demanded girls wear the winter uniform with the awful scratchy woollen skirt. The month of May in Australia, that day, hot and all steamed up, clouds billowing with purple bellies, threatening a storm, but not before all the students at College were fried having to wear their blazers as well as their uniforms woven in wool. The principal threatened suspension if they shed any part of their school attire.

Plop! Another drop. A rumble of thunder.

During the day, her usual foes added to her discomfort. She was already hot, sweaty, and itchy, and then they had to weigh in. On the way to English class, Dee and her clutch of fiends attacked from behind. They threw verbal abuse; the usual “stones” of “loser”, “dog” and “no one wants you, Lil”.

Lillie fixed her eyes ahead even as the heat rose to her cheeks. She trod up the stairs to Dee chanting, ‘Poor Lil, poor Lil, what a dill.’

As Lillie turned the corner of the stairs, she glanced down. Danny leaned against the rail. Dee slid up to him and pointed. ‘Hey look! She’s got a hole in her stocking. Poor Lil, poor Lil. Too poor to buy new stockings, Lil.’

Dee laughed and her gang joined in.

Lillie turned and continued plodding up the stairs.

‘Charge!’ Dee yelled.

At her command, Lillie quickened her pace. She knew what was coming. The thudding, the cries and the horde as her foes surged upon her. They crowded in and jostled her. Big beefy Twisty jammed her into the lockers and then bumbled down the corridor.

As Lillie straightened herself, Dee strode up to her and poked her. ‘He’s mine, understand?’ She then waved her hand in front of her nose. ‘Phew! You stink! B.O.!’

Danny lingered an arm’s length from Dee, and as she minced into English class, she blew him a kiss. Lillie’s stomach churned, and with her gaze riveted to the floor, she followed Dee into class. Her scalp prickled with the sense that the eyes of every class member had set upon her. Her orthodontic braces took on astronomical proportions and her pig-tails drooped like greasy strips of seaweed.

Then Scripture class. Just her luck! Lillie picked Dee’s name out of the Encouragement Box. So she had to find a verse from the Bible to encourage Dee. Dee? What sort of blessing could Lillie bestow on her worst enemy? The girl who had everything—popularity, beauty and a boyfriend.

Lillie opened up her Bible and picked out the first verse that caught her attention. She wrote down the verse from Galatians 6:7: “…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” She plopped the note for Dee back into the box. From what she could tell, Dee seemed happy with her note, if not mildly miffed by the message.

After school, as she sat on the kerb waiting, Lillie reflected on the verse she received. Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” She nodded and mused, That’d be right, Dee had me. Still, it does say I’m blessed.

A flash of lightning. A crack of thunder. Fat dollops of rain splatted on the footpath. Lillie sighed and muttered, ‘I’ll just have to risk getting laughed at. My mum’s car. What a relic! How embarrassing!’

She shrugged her bag full of books over her shoulder and sauntered to the shelter of the chapel. Rain pelted down on her and she sought refuge in an alcove hidden behind a diosma bush. There, she drew her knees up to her chin and sniffed. The rain and then the tears had melted her mascara. Her vision blurred. She drew a soggy tissue from her blazer pocket and wiped her eyes.

The downpour stopped. Fellow students emerged from shelter and straggled along the road to the carpark where their cars or parents in their shining white Commodores awaited them.

Lillie examined her calloused knees that had broken through the holes in her stockings. When would mum be able to afford new stockings? Dad and mum barely scraped together the school fees. ‘We go without for your education,’ mum says. Lillie had begun to understand how that worked in a posh school like this one. No friends, no choice but to study and get good grades.

A car screeched. Lillie looked up. She saw them. Dee and Danny. They held hands. Dee nestled into Danny’s side as he held an umbrella over her, even though the sun now shone casting an eerie golden glow over the gum trees and oval. Lillie winced.

The couple perched on the chain fence where they swung back and forth and whispered into each other’s ears. Lillie parted the diosma bush. She watched and cursed them as wrapped in each other’s arms they consumed each other’s lips.

‘Ugh! How could they? In public!’ Lillie muttered. ‘I hope the principal catches them and puts them on detention.’

Lillie heard a familiar roar. She stepped from the bush and strode towards the carpark.

The FJ Holden raced up the driveway, it’s wheels crushing the carpark’s gravel in its rush to meet Lillie. Dee and Danny remained oblivious in their passion on the chain fence.

Mum’s car cut through a large puddle. Water flew high in the air and then dumped on the couple.

Dee shrieked. They stood like two drenched rats, their legs and arms spread in their sodden clothes.

Now Dee really does look like Gollum, Lillie thought. Her nemesis’ mascara streamed down her face and made her eyes look like a panda’s and her hair was pasted on her head.

The couple glared at the FJ Holden as it screeched to a stop in front of Lillie. She smirked as she jerked open the white door of the mostly blue car and then scrambled in.

‘How was your day, dear?’ Mum asked.

‘You’re late,’ Lillie snapped.

As the FJ Holden with Lillie and her mum merged with the crowd of cars on the main road, Lillie glanced back and smiled. Revenge is best served cold…and wet.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

Painting: Vine Light Before Strom © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

***

In the mid-nineteenth century, a village of Wends, on their way to Australia, mysteriously disappeared…

Who was responsible? How did they vanish?

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends   

Short Story Sunday–Much Ado About Golf

[Triggered today by all these shifty and inconsistent rules by which we must abide in this day and age, reminds me of some traumatic experiences concerning rules playing golf with my beloved late father.

This story is based on those experiences, but the characters and situation have been changed. As so often happens with us writers, life experiences can be good material for a short story, or even a chapter in some future novel.]

TRUE LOVE

Polly

Australia Day, and the last vestiges of a less-than-perfect summer holiday wilt in the sweltering heat in the foothills of Adelaide. A blowfly beats against the window, in time to the droning of the radio, doom and gloom, global warming, and politics. Nine in the morning and thirty-four degrees Celsius—already!

I sit at the kitchen table. I’m the sitting-dead, the zombie of no sleep after a hot night, no gully breeze and me sticky and sweaty, tossing and turning and Mum’s chainsaw of snoring filling the house.

Mum enters the family room and I recoil. ‘Ugh! Mum! How could you!’

‘It’s our family day, Polly, dear. I’m wearing my lucky golf shorts.’

‘Those legs should not be seen in public! Oh! How embarrassing!’ I cover my eyes shielding against the assault of mum’s white legs under cotton tartan shorts. At least she wears a white T-shirt; better than nothing. Matches the legs, I guess.

Dad drifts into the family room. He’s looking at the polished cedar floorboards while tying up his waist-length hair in a ponytail. He wears his trademark blue jeans and white t-shirt with a logo of some rusty metal band. That’s Dad. He’s a musician.

I look to Dad. ‘Dad, why do we have to play golf? Why can’t we just have a barbecue by the beach like my friends?’

‘Because, this is what Mum wants to do,’ Dad says. ‘We’re having a family day together before Mum gets all busy with work, and you get all busy with Year 12.’

‘But, Dad, we always play golf. And it’s not family-building, it’s soul destroying.’

‘We’re doing this for Mum.’

‘That’s right, Polly.’ Mum strides down the hallway and lifts her set of golf clubs. ‘Ready?’

Dad and I follow Mum to the four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicle. The only terrain that vehicle has seen is the city, oh, and the only rough terrain, pot holes.

‘The person who invented golf should be clubbed,’ I mutter.

‘Polly!’ Dad says. ‘Mum loves golf. We play golf on Australia Day because we love Mum, okay?’

I sigh. ‘Okay.’

***

‘What a way to ruin a pleasant walk!’ I grumble as I hunt for that elusive white ball in the bushes. Rolling green hills all manicured, a gentle breeze rustles the leaves of the gum trees either side. My ball has a thing for the trees and bushes and heads for them every time I hit the ball. And if there’s a sandbank, my ball plops in it like a magnet. And don’t get me started on the artificial lake.

Dad and Mum wait at the next tee ushering ahead groups of golfers.

My ball doesn’t like the green and flies past it. I’m chopping away at the bushes near Mum and Dad.

Mum smiles at me and says, ‘Are you having a bad day, Polly?’

Understatement of the year. I swing at the pesky white ball.

‘Remember to keep your eye on the ball,’ Mum says.

I fix my gaze on Mum and poke my tongue at her.

***

It gets worse.

I straggle to the tenth after twenty shots on the ninth. Mum and Dad sit on a bench sipping cans of lemonade.

‘Well done! You’ve finally made it halfway,’ Mum says.

I stare at her. The cheek! Now she’s got white zinc cream over her nose and cheeks. ‘You look stupid, Mum. Like a clown.’

‘You look sunburnt, dear,’ Mum offers the sunscreen, ‘come and put some on. There’s a pet.’

I glance at my reddening arms. ‘Can I stop now?’

‘You may not,’ Mum says. ‘We’re only half way. Now, come and I’ll put some sunscreen on. You don’t want to get skin cancer.’

‘I won’t if I stop.’

‘Come now, Poll, it’s our family day,’ Dad says.

‘Oh, alright.’

Mum pastes me with sunscreen. ‘Where’s your hat? Have you lost it? You need your hat.’ She finishes covering me with a bottle-full of sunscreen and offers me her tartan beret. ‘Here, you can wear mine.’

I jump away. ‘No! Ee-ew!’

‘Come on!’ Mum thrusts her hat in my face.

‘No!’ I say. ‘I’m not wearing any hat! It gives me hat hair.’

Mum shakes her head, replaces the beret on her bleached bob before placing her ball on the tee. As she stands, legs apart, eyes on the ball, the wooden club raised ready to strike, I watch her behind; not a pretty sight, I might add.

Mum turns slowly, her eyes narrowed at me. ‘Would you please stand back? You’re casting a shadow. Don’t you know that it’s against golfing etiquette to cast a shadow?’

I step aside. ‘No, I seemed to have missed that one.’

Mum swings her club back. She stops again. She rotates her body and glares at me. ‘You’re still casting a shadow.’

‘This isn’t the Australian Open and you’re not the “Shark”. Have I missed the television crews?’

‘Don’t be sarcastic,’ Mum says. She’s acting like a shark.

‘Sorry!’ I say with a bite of sarcasm and then retreat behind a nearby Morton Bay Fig tree.

Mum arches back her polished wood, then stops a third time. She marches over to me and snarls, ‘You are in my line of vision. Take that smirk off your face!’

Dad shakes his head while tossing his golf ball in the air and catching it.

‘It’s not for a sheep station,’ I say and then edge further around the thick trunk.

Mum stomps her foot and rants. ‘Now, that’s just ridiculous! Over-reacting! You haven’t changed. You always over-react. Grow up, Polly!’

I slink over to Dad and stand next to him. ‘Am I in your way, now, Mum?’

Mum shakes her club at me. ‘I’m warning you.’

Dad tosses the ball higher in the air and says, ‘Ladies, calm down.’

Mum puffs, lowers the club and strolls back to the tee. She swings.

‘She’s not in a happy place, Dad,’ I say, ‘she can’t be enjoying this family day. Next Australia Day we’re having a barbecue. And we’re using her golf sticks for firewood.’

Mum looks up. The club having shaved the top of the ball, caused it to dribble a few centimetres from the tee. Mum’s fuming.

I snigger and then say, ‘Good shot!’

Mum points at the ball. ‘Pick it up! Pick it up, Polly!’

Dad hides his mouth and giggles.

‘What’s your problem, Mum? I’m the one losing here.’

‘Oh, stop being a bad sport and pick up my ball!’

‘Don’t tell me what to do.’ I stride up to the ball. ‘I’m not one of your students.’

‘Do it!’

‘Get a life!’ I say and then grind the ball into the recently watered earth.

Dad claps.

Mum sways her head and clicks her tongue. ‘You have seriously lost it, Polly.’ Then she places another ball on the tee. ‘Oh, well, I was just practising, considering the circumstances.’ She swings and lobs the ball into the air. Shading her eyes, she watches the ball land on the green.

‘That’s cheating!’ I say.

‘It’s just a game,’ Dad says with a shrug.

‘Mum’s psycho,’ I say taking my place at the tee.

A crowd has banked up behind us. I chip the silly white ball and watch it hook into the thick the pine tree forest. Mum and Dad head down the fairway and I commence my next ball-hunting expedition.

***

I catch up with my parents on the eleventh. I’d given up forcing the ball in the hole.

Mum holds a pencil over a yellow card. ‘Score?’

‘Twenty,’ I fib.

Mum says, ‘I don’t believe you.’

‘Thirty, then.’

‘Oh, come on!’ Her beret flops over her left eye. She looks ridiculous.

I wave. ‘Whatever!’

We reach the circle of smooth green grass. Mum races up to the flag and lifts it. She grins at the sound of a satisfying plop. She stands still, her eyes fixed on the hole. Then she raises her arms and dances a jig on the spot. ‘I did it! I did it!’

‘Is she okay?’ I ask Dad.

‘Hole in one, Polly. Hole in one.’

I gaze at Mum performing a River Dance, trampling over the green in her tartan shorts and white legs. She still looks ridiculous. How embarrassing, there’s an audience gathering, watching her performance. Now she’s hopping and clapping away from us.

I sigh. ‘Just my luck! Now she’ll be gloating for the rest of the game.’

‘It has been her day,’ Dad says. He waves at Mum. ‘Well done, dear.’

‘She’s demented,’ I turn to Dad. ‘I don’t know how you put up with her.’

Dad pulls out a handkerchief and wipes his eyes. ‘It’s called love, Poll. You put up with the good, the bad and the ugly.’

‘I say you’re putting up with ugly most of the time.’

‘Your mum’s been through a lot. She had it tough growing up. That’s what love is about. You don’t throw it away, just because it’s not perfect all the time. I mean, none of us are perfect.’

‘But Mum?’

‘You’ll see,’ Dad says and then he taps my back. ‘Come on, it’s our family day. Better get on. I reckon Mum’s danced her way to the thirteenth already.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2022

Photo: Poatina Golf Course, Tasmania © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010

***

In the mid-nineteenth century, a village of Wends, on their way to Australia, mysteriously disappeared…

Who was responsible? How did they vanish?

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends   

OOPS! Weekend Writing Woes

Enough of the Re-Runs

‘We had that one!’ That’s what my brother would say when mum read him the same story when he was young.

“We had that one!” maybe was the cry from readers all over the world, as this is what I have done with the Out of Time project. For four weeks. How did I not notice?

Anyway, I think I know how it happened. I changed the sequence of chapters as one does in the editing process. Then up came that particular chapter and it was repeated. All part of the editing process.

So, in the spirit of the day, here’s a post from the past on feedback, which also is about a vital part of refining our work and making our stories the best they can be.

Feedback

I like to celebrate. As a child, when I received full-marks for a spelling test, Dad rewarded me with a Kitchener Bun from the Fish ‘n Chip shop/Bakery which in the good ol’ days of my childhood was situated opposite Glenelg Primary School. A few years ago, when I used to drive my son his course in Magill, my mum and I treated ourselves to lunch at the local hotel.

Every so often, I check my Amazon account. I wipe off the virtual cobwebs of neglect, and dig deep in the files of my mind, retrieving the password to enter. I expect nothing much to have changed.

I’ve been busy with my blog and the rewards, small, though they are, compared to the rest of blogging world, but the steady trickle of views, likes and comments, satisfies me. Over the years, the number of followers has steadily grown.

Once long ago, now, I made a daring move, and posted my short story, Boris’ Choice—not for the faint-hearted or while one eats breakfast…After the post, I checked for results on Amazon with my War on Boris Series books?

The Choice (painting in acrylic) © L.M. Kling 2016

And…there were. Yes!

Then, I checked the reviews. Now, I don’t know how other writers have fared with reviews, but for many months since my books were published, I had received no reviews. Yes, I asked my readers to do the deed and tick the star-boxes and comment, with no results. Yes, they’d say and the weeks went by and nothing. Were they just being polite? I have no illusions and the reality is that art and literature are subjective—what one person likes another won’t.

Anyway, back to checking the reviews…I looked again at one of the countries one of my books sold. The page appeared different. A yellow bar, and a comment. Genuine feedback. Not a great appraisal, but an appraisal all the same. I knew the person responsible for this first-ever comment for my book, but was not surprised at their response. I did wonder at the time how my novella would work for them—not well—just as I imagined when they informed me they’d bought the book on kindle. As I said before, Boris and his antics are well…not for everyone.

That being said, and for fear my works may be misunderstood, I would describe the over-riding theme of my stories are the classic fight of good against evil. How evil, like Boris, can creep into our lives. And when for whatever reason, usually when we maintain and enhance our self, and to avoid discomfort, we allow evil to stay. This evil, however subtle, will drive us to isolated places in our lives, much like Boris does in The Hitch-hiker; places we never wanted to go. I want young adults and people young at heart, to make choices and use their energy for goodness and to fight evil, so they can live a full life and also be an agent for good in their community and the world.

Especially at this time.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

Feature Photo: Tyranny of Golf © L.M. Kling circa 1982

***

Read more, and lose yourself in this tale where the nineteenth century meets the twenty-first…

Just click on the link:

The Lost World of the Wends

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Out of Time (14.4)

Fast Forward

Part 4

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…Now, being a project of sorts, over the summer holidays, I have pieced together the story from beginning to end, and then revised it. A main thread has evolved. Something to do with murder and Letitia’s unfortunate involvement in it.

This episode, (14.4) around the time-honoured tradition of the Aussie barbeque Gunter learns of a change of plan and having to travel with people he doesn’t particularly like…]

BBQ time with Mrs. C

Out in the backyard Mrs. C tended the sizzling Bratwurst sausages. She wore a smug expression, as well as her pink floral apron. To Gunter’s mind, except for extra lines on her face, and her leaner build, she reminded him of one of the women folk in the Schwabian village he had come from. He mused whether she was some sort of Melbourne descendant of such a woman.

‘Ah, there you are! I was wondering where you got to.’ Mrs. C wiped her hands on her apron. ‘I hope you haven’t been gallivanting around town with some girl. You know I don’t like it when you do that.’

‘No, Mrs. C.’

Gunter loped up to Mrs. C and gave her a hug and then kissed her on the cheek. ‘You are the only one for me, Mrs. C.’

‘Flattery will get you nowhere.’

‘Mmm, the wursts look delicious; just like the ones we have in Bavaria.’ Gunter reached for one dark golden sausage. ‘I just can’t resist.’

Mrs. C slapped his hand. ‘Not until you wash your hands and set the table.’

Wilhelm strode out from the back verandah with the tossed green salad. As Mrs. C stared at him, her eyes narrowed, Gunter gestured and said, ‘Oh, Mrs. C this is my um, friend, from Tasmania, Wilhelm Thumm.’

Mrs. C placed her hands on her hips. ‘Oh, so this is who you’ve been gallivanting around town with. Hmmm?’

‘Yes, Mrs. C.’ Gunter grinned. ‘I’ve been showing him this fair city before he heads off to Canberra, was it?’

‘Adelaide, actually,’ Wilhelm cleared his throat. ‘Change of plans, mate. I thought we might take the Great Ocean Road, I mean coast and all that. Sailing in my sailboat, the fair ship, Minna, I mean. We could stay in Port Fairy along the way.’

‘We?’

Wilhelm nodded. ‘Oh, didn’t I make that clear? You’re coming with us. Boss’s orders. Anyway, you’ll enjoy the company; your dear mutti, my son Johnny and my wife…’

‘What? But I…’

‘Not negotiable, Gunter.’

‘Not going to happen, M-mate. Your wife, Frieda and I do not get along.’ Gunter shoved his hands in his trouser pockets and marched into the kitchen. There between the bright yellow painted cupboards, he paced. ‘No, I have to stay here. Letitia, she’s…’

‘Aber, mein Gans, Boris is there.’ His mother stood by the lace-topped table. ‘We need you in Adelaide where Boris is.’

‘No!’ Gunter raced out of the kitchen, pushing his mutti aside in his escape to the outdoors. Reaching the barbeque, he picked off a sausage and bit into it.

His mother followed, rubbing her shoulder. ‘Sorry about Gunter, Ethel. He just has these urges to eat Bratwurst sausages. It’s like he hasn’t had a decent fatty meal in centuries.’

‘No worries, Ella, dear. So glad you brought the sausages. Such a lovely idea.’

Gunter glanced from Mrs. C to his mutti.

Mrs. C dipped her head and then raised it. ‘Oh, Gunter, didn’t you know; your mother and I have been friends for, what, centuries. Haven’t we dear?’

Wilhelm glanced at his watch and then looked with raised eyebrows at Mrs. C.

‘What’s happening? Are we waiting?’ Mrs. C asked.

Wilhelm checked his Rolex watch. ‘Just a few more minutes. Maybe she’ll come to her senses and join us.’

Gunter snorted. ‘I do not think so. She will not come while I am here.’

‘Oh, Gans, do not be so hard on yourself. Why would Frieda miss meeting her mother after so many years?’ his mama said.

‘Frieda…that woman, hates me. Is not that obvious?’

‘But why?’ Mrs. C asked. ‘She hardly knows you.’

‘She knows that I worked for Boris; she blames me for all that has happened to her.’

‘How can she, son?’ his mutti said. ‘You weren’t there when she was kidnapped.’

Gunter wiped his face, with eyes glazed and red he looked at his mother. ‘But I was. Boris…he made me…and she remembers. I am sure.’ He breathed out, and trembling, looked away. ‘It is not just what happened to Letitia.’

‘Oh, Gans, do not let that cockroach spoil our sausages.’ His mother stood up. ‘Come, let us eat, drink and enjoy what Mrs. C has prepared. We will put a plate aside for Frieda when she returns to join us.’

Once Mutti had served the rest of the family in a more civilized fashion, and their host had given thanks to God for the meal, the four sat at the timber outdoor setting and ate their Bratwurst, bread and salad with a glass of Claret from the Barossa Valley.

‘We will be going to Adelaide,’ his mother said. ‘And we will be getting those precious boys back to their mother and at the right time. No matter what it takes, we will do this.’

‘I thought the IGSF were going to do that,’ Gunter said.

‘Pff! The IGSF, they are hopeless,’ his mother said.

‘Wouldn’t know how to organize a chicken meat raffle,’ Mrs. C added.

Mutti placed her hand on Gunter’s. ‘We will give the whole plan an element of surprise.’

‘Like you will put a bomb under the kidnappers, Mutti?’

‘Better than that.’ Mrs. C leaned back in her deck chair. ‘We have some resources. Let’s just say, from a recent war or two.’

Gunter sucked air between his teeth. ‘I’m not sure about this.’

‘It’ll be fine, you’ll see,’ Wilhelm said. ‘I dare say, we’ll fill in a few gaps. We’ll make sure the job gets done. Right, ladies?’

Both women exchanged glances, smiled, and nodded.

‘After all,’ Wilhelm chuckled, ‘that’s why we needed your brother Johann’s hard-earned cash.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature photo: Real Aussie men do the BBQ © L.M. Kling 2015

***

In the mid-nineteenth Century a village of the Wends, on their way to Australia, mysteriously disappeared…

An over-sized alien cockroach named Boris planned to enslave them.

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends   

Out of Time (14.3)

Fast Forward

Part 3

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…Now, being a project of sorts, over the summer holidays, I have pieced together the story from beginning to end, and then revised it. A main thread has evolved. Something to do with murder and Letitia’s unfortunate involvement in it.

This week, it became obvious to me that something had to be done with my time-travel mechanism in this story. Let’s face it, a black box is just a bit lame and over-used. Then the idea came to me, what about a box of chocolates? What assortment of adventures one could have with chocolates laced with the time travel microbiol mud from a cave on the *Pilgrim Planet? In this episode (14.3), I begin to explore how these chocolates might work. Unlike Forrest Gump’s famous phrase, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates…”, in Out of Time it is: “Time Travel is like a box of chocolates, you may not know when you’ll end up.”]

Meeting with Mutti

‘I thought you would never make it.’ A woman’s voice floated over his head.

He recognised that voice. ‘Mutti?’

‘Ah, Gans, immer spaet! (Ah, Goose, always late).’

‘What are you doing here?’

A slight woman, aged somewhere in her thirties, flaxen hair tied in a bun, locked eyes with him. ‘To rescue my future grandsons, naturally. Why else would I ask you to come here?’

‘Yes, I know.’ Gunter stood, dusted himself and sneezed. ‘But, I was expecting someone else…’

‘Have you got the chocolate box? You know, the time travel bon-bon thing. I left it here last time.’

‘Oh, Mutti! Always leaving your stuff wherever you go! We could trace you through time and space the trail of chocolate boxes and their wrappers you leave.’

‘Just as well I did, or I’d be lost forever.’

‘Ja, natuerlich.’ Gunter paced down the hall. ‘Let’s do it!’

‘Hey, not so fast.’ His mother caught his sleeve. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’

‘Saving the boys.’

‘Ja, aber, I have the matches and the bomb is all set up.’

‘Bomb? What bomb?’

‘The one to blow Boris into a million itty bits. You know, kaboom.’

‘But, but you can’t just go around killing people. Besides, a million itty bits would make a million itty Borises that would grow up into a million big Borises.’ Gunter shrugged. ‘Besides, look what happened to Letitia because of you.’

‘Hmph! What is she? Your papa’s second child? With that woman? Hmmm? How could he do that to me? Tossing me aside because I’m…I’m…’

‘I’m sorry, Mama, but we thought you were…’

‘Tot? (Dead?)’

 ‘So, then how is the bomb going to work?’

‘Oh, the bomb will work very well, indeed.’ She grabbed her son’s hand and dragged him out to a courtyard and onto a patch of lawn.

‘But, but, how are we going to save the boys, then? I cannot believe I will be the father of boys.’

‘Simple.’ She struck a match and tossed it onto the porch. The flame flared and then fizzled.

‘Yeah, right! And your point is?’

‘The point is, Gans, that the flame is a signal.’

Gunter stood scratching his head. ‘I don’t understand. I thought you were after your chocolates.’

‘Come on.’ His mother sighed and tugged at her son’s shirt. ‘You must get back to the house before they notice you are missing. I think Mrs. C is cooking you Bratwurst, your favourite sausages, you know, and fried onions on her outdoor barbeque.’

Gunter gazed back at the house. The weatherboard with its untamed cottage garden. The driveway concreted but cracked. He realized that since the flame throwing, the night had morphed into midday. A fine summer’s day. An afternoon southerly breeze cooled the air slightly. The smell of BBQ sausages wafted, making Gunter’s stomach growl.

‘How did that happen?’ Gunter asked.

‘Come,’ Wilhelm Thumm nudged him. ‘You can introduce me to the famous Mrs. C.’

As they approached the house, a slender blonde leapt from the Aston Martin parked in front of the boarding house. She slammed the door and marched down the street, away from the house.

‘Who is that?’ Gunter asked.

‘My wife,’ Wilhelm replied. ‘Frieda, remember her?’

‘She has not changed.’ Gunter stared at the gravel on the footpath. ‘She saw me, and she does not like me.’

‘Don’t be so hard on yourself.’

‘She blames me for what happened to Letitia.’

‘She’ll get over it.’ Wilhelm patted his back. ‘You’ll be friends, one day.’

 ‘Yeah, sure. Pigs fly, as they say here in Australia.’ Gunter locked eyes with Wilhelm. ‘And another thing, if I may ask, how did you…? Where’s my…?’

‘Don’t ask.’ Wilhelm burped and tossed a chocolate wrapper in the gutter. He flashed a shiny black box at Gunter.  ‘I’d offer you one, but, um, we need you here and now, not some random time in the future or past. By the way, do you have the money?’

Gunter nodded and handed Wilhelm the wad of notes. ‘I don’t see why you need so much.’ He watched Wilhelm toss the box into the front seat of his Aston Martin. ‘You look like you are…’

‘All for a good cause. Besides, that greedy brother of yours can do with a bit less. So, I hear.’

As they walked up the rose-lined path to the front door of the house, Gunter said, ‘Won’t they melt? The chocolates?’

‘They’re not that sort of chocolate.’

‘So then, where’s my mutti?’

‘Don’t ask.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Chocolate Box © L.M. Kling 2022

***

*The Pilgrim Planet is where Boris takes the Wends, hoping to enslave them.

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends