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?’

‘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


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The Lost World of the Wends

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Out of Time (10.4)

Doors of Time

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… In this episode (10.4) Gunter drives Letitia in his old (even for 1967) Austin …]

Drive Time

By the time they had reached the part of the street where the human traffic had thinned, Gunter had pulled out a key for his car and was muttering. A few steps behind him, Letitia could not catch a word, let alone the thread of his monologue. By the time she caught up to Gunter, he had stopped by an ancient, even for 1967, mottled green, Austin sedan. The talk had ended, and Gunter having opened the car and seated in the driver’s seat, was reaching over to unlock the passenger’s door.

As Letitia waited to climb in this almost classic car, he tossed a few books, junk food wrappers and greasy spare tee-shirts from the front passenger’s seat. He then jerked the door open and urged, ‘Come, I’ve got just the place for you.’

She crept into the Austin with a cursory, “thank you” and adjusted her seated body around the vinyl cracks in the worn bench seat. Before she had a chance to survey the damage of years of neglect, Gunter apologised, ‘Sorry about the mess. I must clean out the car sometime.’ He inserted the key in the ignition slot and muttered, ‘I hope I don’t have to crank it. She can be cranky when she wants to be.’ He laughed at his own joke, and repeated, ‘Cranky.’

‘You’ve obviously never been in Trigger after a Flinder’s trip.’ Letitia jested in an attempt to ease Gunter’s embarrassment. ‘Actually, neither have I, but my friends on Mirror World told me all about that machine.’

‘Come on baby,’ Gunter coaxed the old girl as he turned the ignition. The Austin squeaked and then roared to life. ‘That’s the girl!’

‘Are you old enough to drive?’ Letitia asked.

‘I’m seventeen!’ Gunter replied. ‘I pilot spacecraft, what is the difference?’

‘How did you get the car?’

‘Don’t ask.’ Gunter paused as he brought the old car to a literally grinding halt at the lights. Four lanes of cars, headlights blazing attacked the highway intersection in a seemingly seamless stampede of rubber tyres grunting over bitumen. As the traffic light suddenly turned green, Gunter lurched the Austin over the wide highway, and continued the conversation. ‘I suppose I should clean up the car and take it to a car wash. You can get it free with a service. They even polish the hub caps. Cool hey? Don’t worry about the car, Lettie, this one has got a new engine and the body is solid. Although there are few rust spots, and the paint is peeling. But it is not a bad car really.’

‘Pff! Don’t worry, Gunter, Jemima’s been in worse. I mean, her father never had a car. Caught the tram everywhere in Sydney.’

‘Oh, Ja, Jemima’s father; was that Nathan?’  Gunter slammed on the brakes and the car jerked to another stop, catapulting Letitia forward into the dusty dashboard. ‘You need to put your seat belt on. If we had one. They say they save lives. I know that is true for spaceships, but a car? I hate to think it is taking away people’s freedoms.’

‘Seatbelt,’ Letitia murmured while feeling for that life-saving device, ‘that’s what’s missing.’

‘What is it like in future? In this Mirror World? Do they have seatbelts? And must everyone wear one in a car?’

‘But of course. And it does save lives. Actually, in my time, fifty years from this time, cars have airbags, and computers that sense objects and stop before you hit them. Oh, and we have driverless cars as well.’

‘Driverless? Take all the fun out of driving? I would not like that.’

The Austin roared and grumbled along the dark empty main road. Letitia caught the black letters on a white sign that read, “North Road”. In this part of town, the recently built cream brick houses were falling asleep, while episodes of sparsely lit shop strips remained singularly uninspiring. As she was swept along the quiet roads of suburbia, her thoughts became numbed with exhaustion. She watched dumbly as the houses changed from brick to weather board, and as the dark expanse of some high rise or factory rose and then sank on the roadside.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Car Wrecks on display, Hermannsburg Historic Precinct © L.M. Kling 2021


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And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Out of Time (8.2)

Berry Bogan

Part 2

[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…In this episode (8.2) Wilhelm gives Mrs Berry Bogan something to chew on…]

Without waring the Blue Berry Bogan rose. She pointed at Letitia and words exploded from her lipstick laden mouth. ‘Illegal aliens! They are taking over our jobs, our country. They are the ones having millions of children! They will take over our country if we are not careful.’

 Wilhelm stood up, turned, and faced her. ‘Yes, but you must understand that they are escaping from terrible persecution. They are often desperate. They need somewhere to go.’

‘But our country is being filled to the brim with aliens! I mean, look at Sydney. It’s like, like spot the white person,’ Berry Bogan argued.

Her children shrank into their cream buns as if the light of morning had made them embarrassed at their mother’s outburst.

Mrs. Bogan stabbed the Age with her false bright purple fingernail. ‘It’s these foreigners, mark my words, man. They are causing the crime to rise.’ Her girl with cream smattered over her rose painted lips was cussing audibly at her plate. The freckled son began hyperactively bobbing up and down as if he was an organ-grinder’s monkey.

Letitia giggled.

‘What are you laughing about, Mum?’ Wilhelm interrupted Letitia’s entertainment. ‘I hope it’s because you are finding Mrs. Berry’s bigoted views as amusing as I do.’

Mrs. Bogan Berry, stared at Wilhelm and then at Letitia. She paled. ‘Who are you people? She pointed at Letitia. Is she? Is she your mother?’

Wilhelm shrugged. ‘What is it, if she is, to you?’ He laughed. ‘Or, if in fact, I am hers? What is it to you?’

At that twist of a comment, the two little vipers stopped their cavorting and fixed their narrow eyes on Letitia.

‘No way!’ the boy exclaimed.

‘Told j’ya she’s too old,’ the girl said and turned to wolf down her bun.

‘Actually, aliens…’ Letitia began, then paused, ‘Aliens,’ she continued, ‘are just human beings – poor, persecuted human beings. They did not ask to be different. They just are. But after-all, in the end, the bottom line is…’ The Bogan family had now simultaneously paled to a seedy shade of green.

Letitia gathered her thoughts and resumed, ‘aliens are just human. Actually, they are nicer, more decent, more moral, more polite than the average Australian – is anything to go by.’ She smiled serenely beyond Wilhelm at the pale mum, daughter and son as they shuffled from the bistro leaving a pile of uneaten buns, coco pops, bacon and eggs, and instant coffee.

‘What a waste!’ Wilhelm glanced at the mountain of discarded food left in the Bogan’s wake.

‘Yep. I bet’chya aliens wouldn’t leave so much food to waste.’

Wilhelm twisted himself around and reached out a groping hand towards the deserted table. ‘Did they leave the paper? I forgot to pick one…’

‘Nup. They took that.’ Letitia was secretly hoping that they had read about her, that somewhere in that paper existed an article on the plane crash in Antarctica. She would be vindicated then. Leave them safe with the false knowledge that she was someone else. Although, she did not fancy being a science teacher, especially that girl’s science teacher.

As if reading her thoughts, Wilhelm remarked, ‘You know there will be no news about the crash, don’t you?’

‘How do you know?’ But before Wilhelm had time to answer, Letitia sighed, ‘Of course, Boris.’ Then as if the utterance of his name triggered enlightenment, she smacked her forehead, ‘Of course! Doris! Doris was their science teacher. Oh, she’d be one mean teacher!’

‘Shucks! I was hoping to read the news and do the crossword.’ Wilhelm lamented, totally unaware of Letitia’s a-ha moment.

Letitia smiled. ‘Hey, is that Melbourne?’

‘Na! It’s Geelong,’ Wilhelm pan-faced replied. ‘Don’t you know that it takes forever to reach Melbourne?’ He then rose abruptly from the table. ‘Darn! I’ll just have to go and get one for myself. I hope they haven’t run out. I hate it how they never have enough papers.’ With that he stomped off in the direction of the buffet.

Port Phillip Bay was murky green and choppy. The early morning sun glanced off the salt dusted window that spanned the bistro restaurant.

Sooner than expected, the Spirit of Tasmania was docking at the pier of Port Melbourne and Wilhelm and Letitia were packed and alighting. Letitia thanked Wilhelm for all he had done and all the help he had given her. When they had parted ways, Letitia sat on the beach by the shore. The sand had bags of shade as if it had just woken up from a long summer night of revelry. The waters of the bay were chopped and churned up, a muddy green blue, as if hung-over from the hard night before. She gathered her scattered plans for the day and resolved to seek out a telephone directory to look up Doris. Perhaps Doris lived in Melbourne. After all the Bogan family must come from Melbourne, surely, she reasoned. And if not, one more day’s delay in reaching Adelaide surely could do no harm.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Melbourne city 1986 © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger)


Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, 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 (5.3)

A Computer Called Clarke

[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…

In this episode (5.3) Will asks Letitia to fix his computer…]

Letitia stared at the scrambled eggs slowly cooling on the plate before her. 5am was just too early in the day for such generosity. Even the gentle bobbing of the vessel in its moorings messed with her balance causing a rising sense of seediness. She needed to acclimatise to the notion of seafaring. Then negotiating her way around the sprawling mess of Melbourne, and finally, the dreaded possibility of flying back to Adelaide. To teach. Then a worse thought, having to deal with Tails. That creep, who with his partner in crime, stole two boys from their rightful parents.

Tails. She remembered him. A slimy character swilling down a beer. Reeking of alcohol from every pore. Leering at her. As she dodged the drunken crowds. Keeping pace with her up Anzac Parade to the racecourse in Sydney one sweaty summer’s day. Frieda’s party were meeting there, near the racecourse, before the IGSF bus ride out West to Wagga and the flight to the LaGrange Point. Tails, uninvited, followed. The IGSF team were not fond of escaped convicts.

Boris didn’t seem to have a problem with Tails, though.

Letitia gulped and plunged her spork into the yellow mash.

Wilhelm, as if unintentionally teasing her, added the attached strings, ‘You wouldn’t be able have a look at our on-board computer – it’s been playing up lately.’

Her fork come spoon which had tentatively driven into a chunk of egg scramble, stood undecided what to do next. Me? she thought, A computer expert? What sort of computers were around in 1967? She cleared her throat from the surprise of the request and replied, ‘Thank you for the offer Wilhelm. I will see what I can do.’ She emphasised the “I” as in Mirror World, she was indeed the computer expert. However, the concept of a dodgy computer on a boat in 1967, disturbed her more than the prospect of flying. Lumps of mashed toast and egg took up residence in the back of her throat. She coughed, then forced the lumps down.

‘Good, well you can give us a few tips what we can do. I think it’s just some sabotage, courtesy of Boris. But you never know.’ Will chatted nonchalantly mouth full of scrambled egg.

‘In my other life, I worked on computer operational systems that covered the city of Adelaide—Mirror Adelaide 2018.’ She swallowed the egg and smiled weakly.

‘Well, I suppose you could have a look. Can’t do any harm.’ Wilhelm conceded with a hint of reluctance. ‘It’s IGSF equipment. Top Secret, of course. Computers do exist, but they’re monstrous things compared to what we work with in the IGSF.’

‘I was wondering how you could have one on board and not sink,’ Letitia laughed. ‘Fortunately, I am familiar with the IGSF system. In fact, your wife, Frieda trained me.’

‘Frieda?’ Wilhelm raised an eyebrow. ‘She who can’t operate our new washing machine without getting all tangled up?’

‘Actually, by the time she becomes Admiral…Oops, spoiler alert. I mean, she gets quite adept with the programming. But you know, it’s Minna…her…’ Letitia’s voice trailed off into the uncertainty of future happenings.


Letitia waved. ‘Sorry, I’ve said too much already. Probably just what happens on Mirror World.’

‘Perhaps you could check out the computer as soon as possible – this morning even. We could leave this afternoon if you can fix it.’ Will rubbed his hands together and grinned. ‘If we, if we get to Melbourne early, I can fit in some shopping before heading to the conference in Canberra.’

Letitia gulped a large glob of toasted egg and returned the smile. ‘Well, then, what are we waiting for?’

Half an hour later, Letitia began to regret opening her big mouth when she sat confronted with the dinosaur of the computer which Wilhelm had nicknamed “Clarke”.

She stroked the solid polished Huon pine desk and then locking her fingers together, cracked her knuckles. Even the IGSF technology of the day seemed archaic. Did they really fly up to the LaGrange point for Frieda’s birthday party in 1962 using this “dinosaur”?

She peered at the clunky switches and dials, and the grey-green screen that sulked in a blank state at her.

In the background, as if intent on making her task more challenging, Wilhelm prattled on, boasting of his mistress’ (the boat called Fair Lady) prowess in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in which the vessel did admirably coming somewhere in the middle and not getting smashed to pieces with high seas. Huon Pine maketh the vessel seaworthy, according to Wilhelm. Other yachts apparently were not so lucky in Wilhelm’s no-so-humble opinion.

‘How can I tame “Clarke” with you blathering on?’ Letitia muttered while navigating IGSF cyber-technology of the 1960’s. ‘No wonder we got attacked by Boris and I ended up in Mirror World.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Bellerive Marina © L.M. Kling 2011


Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, 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 (5.1)

A Computer Called Clarke

Part 1

[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…

In this short episode (5.1) Letitia comes to terms with her mission, but learns that time is of the essence…]

The Department Should Pay

Letitia tottered down to the Sandy Bay shore. Dark. Only the streetlights to guide her steps. She needed time and space to process her part in the mission her father, daughter and the IGSF had planned for her.

‘At least it’s a warm night; warmer than Antarctica,’ she muttered. ‘I’ll try and get some sleep, then work out what to do in the morning.’ She chuckled while clutching her stomach. ‘Perhaps, I can get the Education Department to pay for my fare to Adelaide. Me? A teacher? What next?’ She sighed and kicked the sand. ‘How long can I keep up the “Teacher-act”, I wonder?’ She flung her arms about in grand gestures, rehearsing her role. ‘Good morning class, I am your new English teacher, the wonderful, the magnificent invisible Miss Fahrer, or would that be Driver? Am I going to be persecuted for having a German name? Nah, it’s Adelaide, I’ll be right. I wonder where I’ll be? If it’s the Barossa, I’ll definitely be alright. Okay, not sure how I’ll manage the critters. But you know, if they start throwing paper at me, I can always disappear.’

Letitia twirled and tripped on a stone. Over-balanced. Falling…

Great! Not again!

Strong arms cradled her and lifted her upright.

Balanced, Letitia blinked, allowing her eyes to adjust to the dull tones of night.

Wilhelm’s bleached blonde hair and ghost-like complexion glowed against the blackness. ‘Whoopsy-daisy, you nearly took a tumble.’

‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to…you know…impose…I just…’ Letitia stammered.

‘It’s okay.’ Wilhelm released her arm but remained facing her. ‘I’m so sorry that they have dumped this mission on you. If there’s anything I can do to help.’

‘Teaching is the one profession, I never wanted to do.’ Letitia wiped a stray tear that had decided to roll down her cheek. ‘Actually, you know, if I have to be a teacher, which I should remind you most emphatically, that I am not. But if I have to be, well, it’s only fair if they get the Education Department to pay for my fare back to Adelaide. Don’t you think? After all, how else am I going to get there? I have no money. And it would be for a good cause. You see, Tails and Maggie, those two scoundrels…they have stolen your, your’s and Frieda’s grandchildren…’

Wilhelm’s eyes widened. ‘Grandchildren?’

‘In my future. I think,’ Letitia said almost in a whisper, ‘I think, or this world is like a parallel world to mine, but out of time, sort of. I guess there must be…’

Wilhelm breathed out with a whistle. ‘Phew! And there I thought you were the embodiment of the crazy woman inside my head. Parallel worlds, well, that sounds novel—Man In the High Castle stuff.’

‘What? No, I’m serious, I thought, you being part of the IGSF and fight against Boris, I thought you must have some understanding that parallel universes are a thing.’

‘I do, I do,’ Wilhelm caught her arm. ‘But we can’t tell Frieda that. She’s still trying to get her head around time-travel. Which, even I can’t believe is possible. But hey, I get your drift. As I said, with some of the strange things that have happened to me. And to be honest…’ He turned Letitia around and guided her up the steps to the house. ‘Look, we need to drive to my boat tonight. We need to move on this plan. The Admiral called and said that time is of the essence.’

‘Won’t your wife get upset?’

‘She’s used to it.’ Wilhelm sighed. ‘It’s all part of working for the Intergalactic Star Fleet. Oh, and pretending to be a psychiatric doctor.’

He opened the basement garage with his remote and led her to his Aston Martin Coupe.

Within minutes they were gliding across the Tasman Bridge, over the brooding Derwent River, to Bellerive Marina.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: On Sandy Bay shores © L.M. Kling 1995


Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, 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 (4.1)

Fugue of Fibbing

[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…

In this episode (4.1) Letitia enjoys wild Weber char-grilled salmon and must explain her inexplicable reappearance having been MiA for several years …]

The late evening light spread endlessly over the listless blue water. A warm breeze wafted periodically, ever so gently rustling the jasmine creeping up the balustrade. Salmon sizzled in the large black bowl stranded on three legs. After little Johnny with golden curls had peddled his energy out with red tricycle around the lawn area, Frieda, bathed him and put him to bed. Then she decorated the outdoor table, with left-over festive mats and coasters. Letitia now recognised the table as made of Huon pine. A spotlight beamed on their pending dinner and a lonely Tupperware bowl full of chips. Frieda then retreated to the open kitchen window that presided over the deck, where she tossed green salad that would eventually accompany the salmon and chips.

‘Help yourself to chips. They are warm. I was keeping them warm in the oven.’ Frieda offered from the open window. ‘Sorry about the fish we bought earlier. While you were in the shower, the dog got to the rest of them. Lucky, we had some salmon in the freezer. Will caught it on one of his boating exploits down the south-west coast, Macquarie Harbour. Wild salmon, it’s the best.’

‘Where’s the dog?’ Letitia asked.

Frieda rolled her eyes and snorted, ‘In the Dog House; locked up behind the shed; no chances taken. Don’t want him getting the salmon too.’

Letitia stared doubtfully at the pink plastic bowl laden with crisp wedges of fried fat and potato. She visualised Sister Salome, Gunter’s sister, egging her on. She may have been starving, but oil dipped fried chips spelt dangerous levels of cholesterol, thickening of the arteries and the waistline.

‘Come on, Lets! Have a few! You look like you need a bit of fattening up. Remember when we were kids. You would eat almost anything and everything and you never put on weight,’ Frieda urged.

‘At least you are honest. I remember my mother would just shove the bowl under my nose, strategically, and then be offended if I did not lick the bowl clean.’ The crisp golden slices of potato were enticing, and her empty stomach grumbled in yearning for them. Meanwhile Wilhelm, lean and fit, resisted temptation by casually reading The Canberra Times. He had a conference to attend in Australia’s national capital and was keen to be in the know about what was going on there.

‘Your mother! I remember her!’ Frieda snorted, ‘Why did I bother getting chips?’  She shovelled a few sticks of fried potato into her mouth. ‘Gawd! Am I going to be the only one who eats them?’ Her words muffled by the mouthful of mash.

Letitia selected a strip of carrot from the salad bowl that Frieda had brought out with her and chomped on it. The headlines on the front page of the newspaper, concerned her. “Late News Over Hanging” was plastered over the front page. The issue relating to capital punishment sent chills down her spine and she trembled.

Wilhelm peeked over the paper. ‘What’s the matter, Letitia? You’ve gone all pale.’

‘Huh? It’s that thing about capital punishment.’ Letitia shivered. ‘It’s like someone’s walked over my grave. I don’t know, I can’t explain.’

‘Hmm, there’s a push against it.’ Wilhelm flipped the paper closed and looked directly at her. ‘In my opinion, there are some people who deserve it.’

‘But what if they get the conviction wrong? And sentence an innocent person…?’

‘I think the salmon is ready.’ Frieda chirped. ‘I can smell that it is cooked.’

Wilhelm rose, laid down the paper on the table, and retreated to the Weber. With a moment’s reprieve, Letitia adjusted her position on the sassafras timber bench and leaned over to gain a view of the material that Wilhelm had been reading. However, Frieda barged in claiming the newspaper for herself. ‘Look at this! Pilots escape a plane crash! Landed on its fuselage.’

Letitia sank back into the dimness of twilight, knowing her minutes of being simply lost-now-found Letitia were numbered. Unsure of how the situation and her place in it, stood in this out-of-date world, she cleared her throat ready to recite her hastily constructed story for the ensuing discussion and IGSF debriefing while eating salmon.

‘That name sounds familiar,’ Frieda pointed at the paper.

Letitia’s heart sank with the acid of nervousness. She opened her mouth ready to defend her presence in this time which was her survival. However, Wilhelm, bearing the oven tray of Weber-grilled salmon, interjected. ‘That reminds me. Did we have a queer case today!’ He snatched the paper from Frieda and served the fish.

Without complaining or further comment for the moment, Frieda proceeded to serve the meal of fish and chips with salad. Wilhelm briskly and with finesse poured the white wine into crystal flutes. With Wilhelm’s pronouncement of “enjoy”, they silently dug into their late-evening meal.

Letitia savoured a mouthful of succulent salmon hoping in vain that her mysterious re-entry into this world at this particular time would slide into acceptance and then into obscurity. Unfortunately, that dream was not to be.

Wilhelm calmly and deliberately placed his fork and knife on his half-eaten plate of fish and continued sharing his day. ‘We had this illegal immigrant escape. Pity, the case sounded interesting. Apparently, they found her in Antarctica.’ He took a sip of chardonnay and chuckled to himself. ‘That matron, Sister Cross, you know, the one I’ve told you about, Frieda? Well, the immigrant apparently disappeared on her watch. Imagine that! Hawk-eye, herself! Tell you what, the boss wasn’t too pleased. If it wasn’t for the fact that the patient was meant to be in a coma, I guess Cross would have been suspended.’

Frieda sang some eerie “Doo-doo-do-do” tune and remarked, ‘Sounds like something from Deadly Earnest.’

Although vaguely unfamiliar with the supernatural implications, Letitia kept her head down and steadily shovelled in the salmon and salad and tried her best to remain inconspicuous. She was fortunate that her fingers were not frost-bitten and that apart from the initial lime green cleaner’s uniform, she had appeared sane and incontrovertibly Australian to Frieda.

‘Say, how has your day been, Letitia? What brings you to the clement climes of Tasmania?’ Wilhelm piped up attempting to make pleasant conversation.

As Letitia’s mind had become more unfrozen and nimbler, she knew that she had to factor in an aborted journey to Antarctica, as well as head off their suspicions as to her presence in this Apple Isle. She took a deep breath and made the tale fly by the seat of its breeches. ‘Well may you ask.’ She took a sip of Barossa wine and savoured its dry wooded vintage. ‘I had travelled to Tasmania to visit my relatives…’ She paused knowing that she had fudged the finer details of flight or sea, but sure that Jemima might be somewhere on the Island, ‘and – and was planning to fly over Antarctica – lifelong dream, and all of that.’

‘I didn’t know you had relatives here,’ Frieda interjected. ‘Last time I checked, your dad and mum were in Adelaide. The rest of them, cousins, I mean, are in Germany, aren’t they?’

Almost immediately Wilhelm flicked a hand in front of her wine glass, ‘Well what am I, dear?’ He royally waved a hand and with a knowing smirk, bid, ‘Continue.’

Letitia looked up and at Frieda’s husband. Him? Related? How? But said, ‘I meant, I mean, my mother’s family were Australian. Been in Australia for a hundred years.’ Then softly, ‘Don’t you remember how my father met my mother, Gertrude?’

‘Gertrude?’ Wilhelm laughed. ‘How many times have we heard that story?’

Letitia recalled the recent conversation with Jemima on the fated plane and decided to incorporate that piece of information. ‘Um, well, actually, yes, of course. But you see I was meeting my mum here in Tassie to go on the flight to Antarctica. It was her life-long ambition too.’ She paused, remembering that both Frieda and Wilhelm had expressed surprise at her reappearance after several years of being MiA (missing in action). She dismissed the calm demeanour they displayed when finding her as one of shock or not wanting to seem foolish for not keeping up with IGSF news. So, she added, ‘And a celebration, of course, for escaping Boris’ clutches on Mirror World and returning to Earth.’

The couple glanced at each other and then Letitia.

‘Fair enough,’ Wilhelm said. ‘But I don’t understand. There’s no tourist flights to Antarctica.’

Letitia lowered her voice. ‘Well, not officially, Mr. Thumm.’ She locked eyes with Frieda. ‘No parties at the LaGrange Point, either. Officially.’

Wilhelm crossed his legs. Frieda looked away.

‘You know nothing will stop my mother from doing what she wants to do, don’t we?’

‘No, I mean yes,’ Wilhelm muttered. ‘Strong-willed that woman.’

Frieda pursed her trembling lips. ‘So, typical! Treks all the way down to Tasmania. Hobart to boot. And doesn’t even give us the time of day.’

Letitia smiled. ‘That’s my mum.’

Wilhelm tapped pouting Frieda on her arm. ‘Say, I heard there was a plane crash in Antarctica. Unofficially.’

Frieda pounced on the newspaper and after a brief tug of war with Wilhelm, scrutinized it. Letitia braced herself. Frieda’s index finger paused, and her eyes raised up to her full of pity. ‘Oh, my God, I am so sorry!’

For a few furtive moments Wilhelm’s brow remained furrowed as he searched the paper. ‘Where is it? Where is it? I don’t see it. You’re joking.’ As he did this, Letitia steeled her muscles for the next instalment for her survival. She sensed an oddness about Wilhelm Thumm that made her uncomfortable and yet curious about him.

Once the mission to find this fake news had been accomplished, and not found, Wilhelm sternly and accusingly pointed a finger at her. ‘Well, Letitia, what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be dead? From the plane crash?’

‘You see, that’s the interesting thing.’ She nodded. ‘I was in Coles Bay.’ She didn’t know why she chose Coles Bay. She recalled that there was a beach there. ‘I was in Coles Bay, on the beach having a swim.’ She checked Frieda’s and Wilhelm’s responses, so far so good, so continued her “slight” diversion from the truth. They didn’t look like the sort of people that could handle time travel or parallel universes at this stage. After all, she figured that Frieda may have imagined Mirror World to be a planet, like the Pilgrim Planet. Will perhaps, he had hinted at it. But not Frieda. Definitely, not Frieda. Then again, with her limited knowledge about physics, Letitia didn’t know if she understood inexplicable intricacies of time-travel. ‘Anyway, I had a nice cool, actually, the water was freezing cold, swim, and I came out of the surf to find everything – my bag, my towel, my clothes, money, tickets, everything gone.’

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Hints of Derwent from Ferntree, Tasmania © L.M. Kling 2009


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More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

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And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Out of Time (1)

Land of No Dreams

[So, begins the continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…]

Letitia did not dream. Had no visions. Only elusive threads of the past few weeks—missing time—that troubled her. It seemed every part of her psyche had excuses, plausible explanations for the conundrum that began to be her life in yet another world that was not hers. Or was it hers? Her world the one she remembered back when she left it in the 1960’s, and this world she was in, seemed the same. How could that be? Surely times, people, places, not to mention décor and colour schemes would have changed in the 50 years she had passed in Mirror World.

Two women dressed in simple lime green uniforms and wearing white pannikins on their heads, conversed in hushed monotones.

What is this? Letitia pondered, Variations on the flying nun?

‘Do you think she is an illegal alien?’

‘Who knows. She looks like one.’

‘Does she speak English?’

‘I don’t know. She hasn’t woken up yet.’

‘You better get the Department of Immigration onto it.’

‘Hmmm. We have to have a psychiatric report first. We don’t want to happen what happened last time.’

‘No!’ The other agreed. ‘Still these illegals can be pretty cunning. Antarctica! How the Dickens did she end up there?’

‘Where is that Doctor? He was supposed to be here half an hour ago!’

‘Oh, Thumm, he’s always late. Once they get as high up as him, they think they own time.’

Letitia lay on the bed, eyes tightly shut, pretending to be unconscious. Alert. Lucid. No longer coughing. Chest clear. She had an impression that the nanobots in her system had aided her speedy recovery. Who needs Vitamin C, or Flu vaccinations with nanobots? Carefully, she opened one eye to spy on the talkers. Their backs were facing her.

Stealthily, she reached for the medical report that was slung at the end of the cot, pulled it towards her and scanned the details. She trembled. My goodness it really is 1967! she thought. With hands shaking, she replaced the chart on the hook, and resumed her unconscious repose, hoping that her racing heartbeat would not alert the two nurses to her altered state of consciousness.

Then, without a second thought, she pulled out the plug to the monitoring system to be sure.

The two nursing ladies seemed less concerned with the void of monotonous humming from the machines, than they did about their tea break.

‘Tea break?’ asked the taller one.

‘Why not?’ the shorter dumpier one replied.

With recess on their schedule, the two disappeared out the door and left Letitia. Two thoughts troubled her. First, that she might in their world of 1967, be an illegal immigrant. Well, she hoped that was what they meant by the “alien” reference. Secondly, and more disturbingly, the idea, that she might be crazy. At all costs she must avoid that doctor. She must get out of this place.

Letitia assumed she was in the depths of the South, surrounded by Antarctic snow and ice. Still thought this even though the sun shone brightly and warmly through the window. Air-conditioning had taken the sting out of the heat, and she assumed that the cool climes of the medical facility were the direct result of the frozen world beyond; that the technicians had done a good job of warming up the joint. Hastily, she ripped the IV tube from her arm, abandoning the funnel to drip clear fluid onto the white tiled floor.

She tottered down the pastel green passageway—why did the décor fixate on green? —in her hospital gown; not a good look and would not get far endowed thus with the back of it open to the hospital corridor breeze. The little blue flowers on the bubbly cotton irked her. She wandered to the end of the hall where the elevator existed. Surprisingly, no one seemed to notice; no one seemed to care. All too busy. Never-the-less, she could not go around like this, with her posterior exposed to the elements. She had to find some clothes, and fast.

She ducked into a ward where an old lady slept. A dressing gown hung in an elongated cupboard. Begging: “Pick me!” With only the slightest measure of guilt and hesitation, Letitia took the bright pink velvet padded gown and wrapped it around herself. The extra layer flushed her with heat, but she tried to ignore the beads of perspiration dripping from her temple.

A nurse robotically strode into the room.

Letitia dashed into the nearby bathroom and hid behind the shower curtain. Drops of water from a recent shower caused her to slip. As she teetered, she grabbed the curtain. Satin green, of course. She clung to the curtain, fearful of stumbling over the commode. Water seeped between her toes, tempting her to release the curtain and land bottom first on the damp floor tiles (tiny green square ones, of course). She eased her body onto the commode, rubbed her feet and waited. The pastel green wall tiles and shiny dark green freeze didn’t escape her notice.

The nurse seemed to be taking forever. Papers rustled, blood pressure machine pumped, wheezed, and beeped while the nurse chatted with the old lady.

Letitia spent the waiting time constructively, planning her escape. She puzzled over how crowded the medical quarters had become and assumed that she was not the only survivor from the plane crash.

What happened to Fritz? She wondered.

Finally, silence on the other side. She slipped out of the en suite. The damp corners of the dressing gown slogging against her shins.

‘Who are you?’ the old lady stared at Letitia in an incriminating fashion. She wore this purple rinse in her thin curly hair and her piercing brown eyes marked her intruder’s every move like a hawk.

‘Oh, er, I’m your room-mate,’ Letitia said.

Baring her nicotine-stained buck teeth, she spat words of accusation at Letitia. ‘I have this room to myself. What are you doing here?’

‘Oh, haven’t you heard? There was an air disaster. The plane crash. They’ve had to double up.’

‘But there is no bed for you.’ She pointed a wiry finger at Letitia. ‘And why are you wearing my dressing gown?’

Letitia glanced lovingly down at the velvet chords and stroked the soft fabric. ‘Oh, is it? What a coincidence, I have one exactly like this!’

The old lady leant forward and indignantly replied, ‘How could you?’ Then in measured words, ‘That – gown – was – an – exclusive – from – Harrods – London.’

‘Really? Well, I guess salesmen, even Harrods ones, will do anything for a sale.’

The aged lady glowed bright red. ‘You mean…How could…what you…?’

The lady groped for the panic button.

‘I’ll go and see where the extra bed has got to,’ Letitia stammered before dashing from the room. She made for the nearest door that resembled a closet.

Letitia squatted in the cleaning cupboard surrounded by squeeze mops and buckets, and the stale musty smell that accompanied them. The fumes of antiseptic spray and wipe mingled with chlorine overwhelmed her. A lime green uniform was slung on a hook on the back of the door. Again, without too much thought, she donned the tunic-cut dress and dark green pinafore and slipped some available white sneakers onto her feet. ‘Don’t think too much about who wore those shoes before,’ she muttered with a shudder. The sneakers were a little tight and had a damp, cold feel on her bare feet. A surgical mask hung by its elastic on the hook that also held a green gown (pastel green, naturally). She took the mask and placed it over her nose and mouth. The fumes had been making her eyes water and she had begun to feel dizzy. The mask gave slight relief from the vapours as well as acting as a disguise.

‘Pity I’m no longer invisible,’ she muttered as she pulled open the door.

Fully dressed as cleaner with trolley laden with mops and buckets in tow, and vacuum cleaner barrel trailing behind her, she left the storage room. Eyes down, Letitia hoovered the short piled grey carpet. The nurses ignored her as cleaner. Domestic staff were unimportant to them. They were stationed in life and employment above cleaners.

‘You missed a spot there.’ There’s always one pompous nurse who had to be the exception. She had to make it her business how clean the med lab was to be.

‘Sorry!’ Letitia bleated while rubbing that corner of the corridor with the vacuum nozzle for some extra few seconds to satisfy her.

‘And don’t forget to empty the bins in the toilets – you forgot yesterday, and they are overflowing,’ she said.

‘Yes, ma’am!’ Letitia replied not actually looking at her. But silently she mimicked that particular nurse behind her surgical mask, then continued to vacuum away from the nasty nurse.

A few meters down the passageway, she glanced back. The nurse had turned away from her and had busied herself with a pile of clipboards, thank goodness.

Letitia worked her way to the large green and white “exit” and “lifts” sign at the end of the hallway. So far, so good.

Standing before the metal doors of the lift, Letitia expected them to open on command. She had forgotten that these lifts reinforced with an ornate brass gate, were not the sensor-lifts of the advanced Mirror technology. Mirror lifts are intelligent. They automatically sense the presence of an individual and whether the person is intending to go up or down. ‘Of course, this is 1967, on this world; lifts are not intelligent. I s’pose I have to press the appropriate button,’ she muttered while gazing at the lift. ‘Now, where’s the button?’

A man endowed with a yellow and blue striped polo shirt, baggy grey shorts and wielding a golf club waltzed up to the lifts and poked the “down” button. The fellow, tall, blonde hair receding, and dark blue eyes, appeared familiar, as if she had seen him somewhere before and long ago. The doors opened and Letitia joined the golfer in the lift.

A petite lady in a pale green mini dress smiled at them, and announced, ‘Going down? Going down?’

‘Er-oui,’ Letitia replied behind her mask. ‘I mean, “yes”.’

The golfer glanced at her and raised a blonde eyebrow.

‘Oops, habit,’ Letitia muttered and turned from him. Hoping she hadn’t given her “illegal alien” status away.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Aurora Borealis Icebreaker, near Battery Point Derwent River, Hobart, Tasmania © L.M. Kling 2016


Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, 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

Choice Bites–The Survivor (2)

The Survivor Part 2

[An extract from another of my little projects in the War Against Boris the Bytrode Series…]

Tragic News

Late afternoon, the setting sun’s dying rays filtered golden through the curtains. The reflected dust motes danced and twirled, more awake than Phillipe who dozed amongst the sheets and crumpled doona on his bed.

His Dad had broken the news to Max the night before. Strange how Dad made the whole disaster appear as though it was Mum’s fault. Liam could never understand that. Dad was always blaming mum. It was as if, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how much of a pure victim, Mum was, somehow Dad construed the whole situation to be Mum’s fault; as if Mum was willing it to happen. So, as far as Dad was concerned, the tragic disappearance of the plane over Antarctica, was solely Mum’s fault. After all, hadn’t she insisted on assisting Boris in his endeavours?

Dad was furious that Mum would desert this life and leave him with two teenage sons—Max (fifteen) and Liam (thirteen). How dare she! And what was worse, Mum was not around to shout at and take the punishment of the pain that she was now putting Dad through.

‘Get yourself outa bed, you lazy princess!’ Dad roared and then hammered on the door.

Max yawned and stretched. ‘In a minute.’ Then he turned over. He wasn’t ready to rise from his slumber. I mean, the sun hasn’t even set. How dare Dad disturb his twelve hours in Neverland?

The door crashed against his mountain of soft-drink bottles, a shrine to the hours of playing Craft of Warts. Boots stomped on the chip packets. A hand clasped his hair and dragged him to the floor. Max landed with a thud and crunch on last night’s pie crust and left-over sauce.

‘I said, “Get up Princess!”’ Dad yelled.

Max sat up and wiped the sticky sauce off his ear, and attempted to ease himself back into bed.

‘Oh, no you don’t,’ Dad said. He grabbed the lad by the elbow, dragged him into the family room and then dumped him sprawling on the carpet. ‘Oh, and clean up your room, it’s a pig sty.’

Max pulled himself up off the carpet and hobbled out of the room. The family room had already taken on the atmosphere of a morgue where his brother Liam sat at the pine modular table. His younger brother struggled to grind semi-dry Weetbix in his mouth. Since Mum’s assumed chilly demise, Dad had put the boys on milk rations. Actually, everything had been rationed in the last week, not that Max was particularly hungry.

Dad was psychotic. He hurled stuff out of cupboards. ‘Where did she hide the keys?’ He rambled as a mantra as he emptied one cupboard after another in his fervent search. ‘I swear she’s put them in a parallel universe.’

Max picked up his mobile phone from the middle of the dining room table and began to tip-toe from the room. Dad was too mental to notice him leave, he hoped. He spied the keys in the centre of the table and realized that the phone had hidden the keys beneath it. He stopped. He sighed and muttered, ‘Do I? Or don’t I?’

Max snatched up the keys and held them up and cried, ‘Here they are!’

Liam kept his head bent, eyes focussed on the dry flakes, and continued munching.

Max’s calls for attention fell on deaf ears. Dad had gone past all realms of reason. Still Max persisted in following after his blind, deaf and psychotic father. He dangled the wanted keys between his fingers. ‘Here they are! Here they are!’ He called as he trailed his Dad from kitchen to the lounge room.

‘Stop harassing me! Go clean your room Princess!’ Dad yelled. He pushed Max towards his room and totally ignored the keys in his son’s hand.

‘Fine then,’ Max mumbled.

He slipped into his room, secreted the keys into his school bag and crawled back into bed. And continued his dream of a faraway land where the sky was mauve and where his name wasn’t Max, but Phillipe, and Liam wasn’t Liam, but Karl.

Out of the Ice-Cave

In a haze of bewilderment, Letitia blinked. Fractured rays of sunlight winked at her through shards of ice. About two metres above her a pale turquoise tinted sky strained through the ice, smooth and clear like glass. Little suns bounced off the icy barnacles and pillows of snow above her.

All was too calm, too silent in her frozen grave. The absolute silence troubled Letitia more than the concept of being buried metres in what appeared to be a snow cave. In this eerie world devoid of noise, she heard her rapid breathing.

‘I can breathe,’ she mumbled, her lips stung, the cold dry skin splitting into cracks. The sharp air cut her lungs. But her exterior didn’t register the cold. Should she be worried? She checked her fingers in the dim light. Were they blue? How long had she been lying there? Did she have frostbite? Would she get it? Or would the nano-bots ensure some protection?

Her body, stripped of clothing, was numb. Her designer Mirror (French, of course) slacks burnt and shredded. What remained of her silk shirt hung limply over her breasts. Her ankle high leather boots dangled at the end of her feet, the rubber soles having melted into distorted blobs. There was a sticky mess woven into her socks; her socks that held her frozen feet. Her feet were clumps of cold meat that seemed not even to belong to her. The ice scrunched and crunched beneath her as she shifted position.

‘How did I get here?’ Letitia asked. ‘Oh, that’s right—Boris. How dare that creep spoil my life again!’

She rubbed her hands together. ‘Right, well, not this time. You’re not going to do it to me again, evil one. God is on my side. He’s saved me again. I’m alive, aren’t I?’

Letitia looked up. ‘Jemima? What happened to you? God, help me get out of here. Help me find Jemima. Help me do what I can to destroy Boris.’

She wriggled her glowing white fingers. A surge of warmth ran through the veins in her arms to the tips of her fingers. The warmth, it seemed supernatural. She rubbed her shredded boots together and wiggled her toes. Blood rushed to her feet. Agonising pins and needles ensued for several minutes.

Heat, as if from an unseen being, poured over her head and cascaded down her body. She remembered the sensation. She’d experienced it before when she’d attended a healing service and the people had prayed for her.

‘The heat of the Spirit,’ they said. A good thing.

The ice beneath her melted. The snow caved-in around her and Letitia sank. She spread out her arms and stilled her limbs. ‘God,’ she cried, ‘what are you doing? Save me.’

A small voice inside her head spoke, ‘Patience. I have it under control.’

The floor under her feet became firm. She turned and examined the surface below. Her feet scuffed at deep brown gravel-like ground through the glassy plate of ice. She was on land.

She scraped the snow and ice above her in the snow tomb. The whole situation had an unreal edge to it. She swayed and slumped against the side of the cave. Bits of snow and icicles gave way as the heat of her body radiated and melted the frozen parts. The sun and its dozens of reflections shone through an ever-widening hole. The opening, just out of reach. Letitia clawed at the frosty sides and marvelled at the snowballs accumulating in her fist. She dumped the unwanted snow at her feet and stood gazing at the gap.

‘How am I ever going to get out?’ she groaned.

She continued to scrape at the frigid walls of the cave, each time hurling the unwanted snow at the floor. A hollow where she had dug began to expand and the soft fluffy snow began to give way to smooth walls as hard as glass. She stepped on the frosty mound beside her feet to reach fresh wads of snow, only to find her feet vanishing into the mush. She continued to shovel, dig, climb, and sink.

‘I’m not getting anywhere,’ she sighed. ‘I’m just making a wider ice-cave; that’s all.’

Letitia smoothed the frozen walls with her warm bare hands. The activity, she assumed, was keeping her blood circulating preventing her from the inevitable death by deep freeze.

She stopped again and wrung her aching hands. ‘Useless! Absolutely useless. I’m not getting anywhere.’ She chastised herself for getting into this slushy mess in the first place. How did she cause this to happen? It began with a party. A date. Nathan. Tall, dark, handsome. Funny. Nathan. How could she resist? Nathan. He had invited her to the twenty-first birthday party of one of his IGSF colleagues. Frieda. In space. La Grange point.

Then. Boris. And years of “Purgatory” living with on that world. Mirror World. What had she done this time? How did Boris know she had wanted out, and that this was her out? How did he know what her daughter, Jemima was planning?

She recalled the on-line survey. Confidential. They promised. Gathering data. That’s what they said. Data, nothing else. So, she’d filled in the survey. After all, they promised a prize. A new washing machine. Never came. Perhaps her answers weren’t so anonymous. Maybe Boris had access to the information provided…Had she inadvertently allowed spies into her world?

‘I won’t let that cockroach win,’ she said.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Inside the Fee Glacier, Swiss Alps © L.M. Kling 2014


Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, 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