March 29, 2011

Enchanted Garden Chapter Seven

The top of the ramp led them into a room that was nearly large enough to be the main nave of a cathedral. The room was circular, which was about the only thing it had in common with the small flying-saucer shaped space ship. The ceiling soared high over head, much higher than the height of the compact space ship could possibly have contained. There were stairs off to one side, leading to at least three different heights of balconies, from which doors opened, apparently leading off in all directions to the interior of the ship, including (from the upper balconies) directions that would be behind them.

The pillars that supported the ceiling and balconies were not straight, but curved, and looked more like they had been grown, like trees, rather than made. Perhaps the designers had simply used whole trees in their construction, but the pillars didn’t look like wood, exactly.

The room they were in was obviously a control room of some sort. There was a large circular console in the exact center of the room, which sported all manner of strange switches, dials, buttons, screens, needles, and various other controls. Taken all together, it looked as though it were built from spare parts looted from the junk yards of a hundred worlds.

The lighting was orange over all, but rising out of the central console in the middle of the room was a large tower whose massively soaring blueness dominated the entire room. The floor beneath their feet was of expanded steel, or some other similar metal and they could see through it, into several stories of mechanical fittings and maintenance crawl spaces, which would have extended well into the area where they’d been sitting this afternoon.

The room was simply impossible. There was no way in any world that it could possibly fit into the small space ship that they had watched land in the meadow, next to where they had stood in the forest.

Suddenly, Dusty broke into a huge grin, as he twisted this way and that, trying to take it all in at once. “TARDIS,” he breathed, almost reverentially. “It’s real. It’s all really real. A real TARDIS. It has to be. It couldn’t possibly be anything else. There just couldn’t possibly be two things in the universe that are so similar, and yet not be the same thing. Occam’s razor says so. The simplest explanation that covers all of the facts is usually the right one. Eliminate the impossible, and you’re left with the facts. I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to step foot inside a real, live, living, breathing, TARDIS.”

He moved eagerly into the room, examining every facet of its existence, while carefully and ostentatiously tucking his hands behind his back in a mute promise not to tough anything.

Harold moved up next to Newt. “What did he say before he went haring off?”

Newt shrugged. “None of it made any sense to me. Something about it being real, whatever he means by ‘it’, and some amount of muttering about Occam and his theories, and used some nonsense word a couple of times. ‘TARDIS’, or something like it.”

Captain Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master stepped closer behind them.

“Where do you want to start?” she asked pleasantly.

“Um,” said Newt, “It’s bigger on the inside?”

“Yup, sure is,” agreed Captain Hollerin’ Holly.

“It’s alien,” said Harold, “but then, we pretty much knew that when we watched you land.”

“It was alien to us when we found it, too,” Holly said, “but although we’ve learned a lot about its operation, we’re still in the learning process. We didn’t really mean to steal it, you know, it kidnapped us, more or less.”

“That’s what you get for poking your nose in to other people’s space ships,” Knit Solo said acerbically, as she walked up to join the quiet conversation. “You know you shouldn’t have come in here, and dragged us all along with you. I’m very positive there wasn’t anything about that letterbox that said, ‘after you’re in the cave, invade the small blue wooden box you find there.’.”

Captain Hollerin’ Holly blushed, but then blurted out, “But Knit Solo, think of this if I hadn’t come in here, and seen all of this, and dragged you all in to see it, then we wouldn’t have had so many grand adventures.”

Knit Solo made a sound through her nose that sounded suspiciously like a snort™, and stalked away. Captain Hollerin’ Holly laughed and called after her, “Now you owe PRE a quarter for royalties.” Knit Solo just waved her hand in annoyance and vanished through a door and down the corridor behind it.

Captain Hollerin’ Holly gathered up the three children, Harold, Dusty, and Newt, and shepherded them down one of the hallways.

“We don’t know every inch of the ship yet,” she said, “and we haven’t done too much exploring, mostly because we don’t want to get lost. We have, however, found rooms to meet all of our immediate needs very near the control room. There are clothes closets down that hallway,” she said, gesturing, “and the kitchen is right here, though we’ll probably need to show you how it works if you stay with us for very long.

“The bedrooms are down another corridor entirely,” Captain Hollerin’ Holly explained, “and that would be the one Knit Solo disappeared down when she got just a little bit irritated with me back in the control room. You can just pick any bedroom that looks unoccupied. But down this way, past the kitchen, is where the craft areas are.”

She opened up one of the doors, and it appeared to lead in to a scrapbooker’s idea of heaven. Hundreds of small shelves with papers and card stock on them, bins full of tools and glues, and tiny drawers that must be holding tiny embellishments.

Newt’s mother was a dealer of scrapbooking supplies, and this made Newt reasonably familiar with most of the items she could see. Oh, yes, her mother would think this room was a little slice of heaven on earth. Well, that is, it would be a little slice of heaven on earth when the space ship was parked on earth, but at the moment, it was a slice of scrapbooking heaven on Purvis Major.

“Now,” Captain Hollerin’ Holly said, “we’re going to make you some small notebooks, so that when we find the treasure tomorrow, you can use your new stamps and log in to the letterbox also.” She took hold of a drawer handle and pulled, and a shelf slid out with a machine on it.

“The first thing you will need is some white card stock,” she said, as she gathered a handful from a near by cubbyhole, and I’ll cut that to size while you three pick out what color cardstock you would like for the covers of your books. You’ll only need one sheet each, it’s for the front cover. We’ll use some chip board for the back cover, and on that, you can choose white or brown.”

Harold and Dusty looked absolutely lost, Newt thought, but at least she knew what Captain Hollerin’ Holly was talking about, thanks to her own mother’s extensive obsession with scrapbooking.

She knew her mother had signed up to be a dealer of scrapbooking supplies simply because she had wanted the discount, and she did sell many supplies to her likewise addicted friends Newt understood that most months, she actually broke even on what she made versus what she had bought.

Newt took the boys over to a rack of colored cardstock and pointed at it. “Pick out a color for the front cover of your book,” she instructed them, and then called to Captain Hollerin’ Holly, “What size are we making? And what method will we be using? Are we using a Zutter?”

Newt’s mother loved her Zutter Bind-it-All, which she often used to make elaborate notebooks to give as gifts. A little computer printer paper, a nice fat wire for rings, and an elaborately scrapbooked and personalized front cover, with the addition of little ribbons tied to some of the wires all the way up the side, and voilĂ©, a wonderful and extremely inexpensive gift book was born.

“Quarter sheet,” Captain Hollerin’ Holly called back from where she was patiently feeding a light weight white card stock into the slicing machine, “and yes, it’s sort of like a Zutter, and it works on the same principle, but this one is a larger, automated machine like they have at some schools, and it can hole punch the entire side of an eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper all at once, and then thread the wire through without you having to do anything special. You load the pages in, along with the covers, the back one in front, and you make sure they’re all lined up perfectly straight. Then you close the clamp and push the button, and the next thing you know, you’ve got a book. Darth Wolf has been in here making a lot of generic log books to take home with her when we get home.”

“I understand completely,” Newt answered with a smile.

Harold had picked out black cardstock, and was tugging at her sleeve for attention. Newt turned to him.

“Hey, after she makes the book, can we decorate the cover? Because I saw some paper over there that looked like tin foil, and I thought a big silver lightning bolt ripping through the black paper would look pretty cool.”

“That sounds like it would look great,” Newt encouraged him. I think all the supplies that are here are for us to use, at least, that’s what Captain Hollerin’ Holly seemed to imply, so go for it!”

Then Newt turned to Dusty. He was holding bright yellow card stock. “I want a yellow cover,” he said, “to match the clothes Adric always wore, and then I’ll cut out a large blue star and glue it to the cover, for his badge for excellence in mathematics.”

“Sounds great,” Newt said, “And I think I’ll choose this crinkly brown paper, and add a lizard to the front. A newt for Newt.”

They went over to some cubbyholes containing the heavier chip board that they would use for their back covers, and Newt picked out a brown that would look good with her front cover. Much to her amazement, there was a nice yellow that would look well with Dusty’s cover, and also a deep black that Harold chose.

The three children, Harold, Dusty, and Newt, returned to Captain Hollerin’ Holly’s side as she finished cutting the inside pages of their books. Captain Hollerin’ Holly put the cutting machine away and the children handed over their materials. She smiled, pulled the machine out again, and made quick work of slicing the covers to size, then put the machine away for the second time. She then proceeded to what looked like another drawer, and pulled out a second machine.

She picked up Newt’s book parts first, carefully tapped them into alignment, and fitted them into the machine, then tightened the special clamp down that would hold the papers in their place. She pressed a few buttons on the machine, then there was a humming sound, a huge “whomp” as the machine punched the holes through the entire stack all at the same time, and another humming sound. At last, the clamp loosened all by itself and all the sound stopped. The lights on top of the machine went out, which Newt interpreted to mean that her book was now bound and finished. She reached out and took the book from the machine and went happily hunting lizard embellishments for her front cover.

Within an hour, all three of their books had been finished completely, and Newt had to admit that even Harold and Dusty’s books looked really good.

They all trooped off to the kitchen, where apparently Darth Wolf had been busy making dinner for everyone. The table was laden with an entire Thanksgiving type turkey dinner, with all of the trimmings that you could dream of.

Dusty snatched at the cheese stuffed celery before it even got to the table, and Darth Wolf gave him the equivalent of what Newt called the hairy eyeball look. Harold poked Dusty in the ribs with his elbow. “What are you trying to do, tick off two um…women in the same day? Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten the consequences that happened to us when you royally ticked off Old Mrs. M.”

Dusty shuddered. “No, I haven’t forgotten.” He said to Harold, then turned to Darth Wolf with a smile, “I’m sorry that I tried to swipe some of your cheese stuffed celery, Darth Wolf, but I’m very hungry, and that’s one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner.”

“No problem,” Darth Wolf replied gruffly, “help yourself. It’s one of my favorite parts also.” She picked up a stick of the cheese stuffed celery and began munching it.

Knit Solo appeared in the doorway. “Is there any thing I can do to help with dinner?” she asked.

“Yes, you’ve perfect timing, as usual,” groused Darth Wolf. “You’re just in time to help eat it. Where’s RavenWolf?”

“She’s writing, as usual,” Knit Solo replied. After all, today is Halloween, and her precious NaNoWriMo starts at midnight.”

“What’s NaNoWriMo?” asked Dusty.

“It’s an almost acronym for National Novel Writing Month,” explained Knit Solo, “which is where people write a fifty thousand word novel in only thirty days. It takes a lot of work, but the people who have been captured by it tell me it’s a lot of fun, and very invigorating to the creative parts of the mind. I myself can’t see what the big deal is, but it’s been making an increasing number of my friends drop off the face of the earth for an entire month while they write a novel. These people don’t seem to want to sleep, or eat, or anything, until they get their daily number of words in, and are ready to go. I keep wondering why they don’t have the contest in October, when there are thirty one days, which would give them an entire extra day to complete their novels. They get to start just after midnight on November first, and end before midnight on November thirtieth.”

“Midnight,” Harold groaned. “I told my mother we would be back by midnight; she’s going to kill me.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Captain Hollerin’ Holly said. “The Troll also travels through time, so when we finally figure out exactly where to put you back, we can probably figure out exactly when, also, and you will only be gone about five minutes or so.”

Newt stared at her. “But time travel is impossible,” she finally said. “Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity says that in order to travel in time, you would have to go faster than the speed of light, and the faster you go, the more energy you need to burn, and there is no way to even reach the speed of light, much less exceed it, so time travel is impossible.”

“Oh, you’re very good,” said a male voice from the door in a crisp British accent. “Very good, I’m the Doctor, what’s your name?”

We dare you to introduce a character from one of your favorite books into your own novel. (The Doctor is in books, too…)

Newt turned to the newcomer, and her stomach promptly did flip flops, while her lungs suddenly felt full of butterflies, and she didn’t think she could even breathe.

We dare you to make one of your characters fall in love with the next person / animal / object they see.

The man who lounged casually in the doorway was very tall, and very thin, and his dark blue pin striped suit fitted him to absolute perfection. His pale skin and dark hair and eyes gave him an almost other worldly look, but by jingo, she certainly liked what she saw. Her heart started beating faster just to be in his presence. She did manage to notice that Harold looked at him with a polite curiosity, while Dusty…Dusty had his mouth hanging open, and his face was so pale that every single one of his gazillion freckles stood out in stark relief against his bloodless cheeks. However, the tall man was looking directly at Newt.

“Um…I’m Newt. I mean, I’m Alexandria Newton, but my…my friends call me Newt.”

“Newt. That’s an interesting nickname. May I call you Newt, or would you rather I call you something else?”

Newt’s stomach did joyous summersaults. He was offering his friendship. “I…um…Newt is fine.” She managed to answer. Why did she feel like a bumbling idiot in front of this man? “And what should I call you?”

His face split into a huge grin. “I’m the Doctor,” he said, “and this ship is the TARDIS, and no matter what she” he pointed to Captain Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master, of the Talley Valley Farm Clan “might have told you, it’s NOT named ‘the Troll’, and it’s NOT her ship. And they aren’t even pirates,” he added with a sniff, as though that was the final insult. “They’re only dressing up as pirates, because they felt like it today. Isn’t that right, ladies?”

The three pirates were all looking down at their toes, as though the lecture was heartily deserved, and Newt wondered privately what, if any thing, Holly had said to them was true. “Holly?” she asked, and Hollerin’ Holly looked up at her, shame and guilt written all over her face.

“You LIED to me, Holly,” Newt said.

For some reason that she didn’t understand, Knit Solo and Darth Wolf both burst out laughing.