Hankering for some round-robin fiction?
It’s my turn to participate in The Octopus Knows, and I’d love it if you’d come along for the ride.
As far as round-robins go…this one’s a doozy. It all started when one of my very creative blogging/writing friends, Laird Sapir, suggested a collaborative writing project to interject a little craziness into our writing lives. The simple rule is that each writer begins where the last writer left off.
Laird wrote the first segment to get us started, and she keeps a nice log documenting all the subsequent segments. It’s great fun to read the entire “novella” and enjoy the different writing styles of all the participants. It’s turning into a humorous, innovative work of fiction with suspense, mystery and drama!
Segment XIV was written by Karen Pullen, mystery and short-story writer.
Previously in The Octopus Knows…
Though it was almost their demise, Ninja, Simon and Marguerite manage to save the world by closing the portal to an alternate universe of antimatter. With only two minutes to spare before certain death, the three manage to escape by desperately clinging to one another and the gunbrella, which conveniently opens into a giant parasol. A breeze lifts them up and away toward a faint light high above. They land somewhere on a ledge in the side of a rocky wall. Ninja is suffering the most from the heat and lack of water…
The Octopus Knows, Chapter Mox-Nix, Segment XV
Filtered sunlight streamed through the mesh, lighting one side of the craggy red rock and casting a warm glow on the exhausted threesome. Simon attempted to lift one of Ninja’s tentacles glued to his shoulder. It felt like raw cookie dough.
“Don’t,” Ninja rasped. “Please.”
“Where in the Black Hole are we?” Marguerite asked, casting a troubled look at Simon. Ninja was perishing before their very eyes.
Simon nodded to let her know he was as worried about Ninja as she was. “Well, our predicament doesn’t look so bad now that it’s light. Let’s see…we seem to be in a canyon with a gravelly bottom and a strange piece of something covering the opening.” Simon’s voice was artificially cheerful.
Ninja raised his head off the back of Simon’s hair. “My dear fellow partners in crime, or should I say, galactical advocates of the experimental kind? I’m afraid the end has come. Now Merguerite, don’t look like that, my lovely. It’s been a good run, and all good things must end sometime.”
“What the blazes, Ninj!” Marguerite was suddenly all flashing eyes and angry energy. Stop talking like that! You’re not going…going…” She collapsed in a heap of sobs, her hands covering her face.
Simon stared. “I didn’t think you had any emotions left, my sweet,” he couldn’t help saying. He walked to her with Ninja’s head bobbing slightly with each step. “Here, old gal. Pull yourself together.”
Good God he loved that woman. His whole façade of liking men had been a smokescreen to hide his crushed heart. She was an addiction, and he’d succumbed to it in every nuclei of every cell of his being. Geez—he actually loved her more since the accident. Oreos and crap food had never taken away the pain of losing her.
Marguerite dropped her hands and fastened those beautiful green eyes on him. They were filled to the brim with tears and something else—desperation. Help Ninja, they pleaded.
A swishing sound made Simon look down. A small stream rushed onto the gravel below and surrounded an embedded boulder like a horseshoe, turning the greedy ground a darker shade. Ninja lifted a shaky head off Simon and sniffed the air. “Wha…what’s happening, Simon?”
“Water! Beautiful H2O is happening, my slimy, tentacled friend!”
Simon was already scooting down the rough rock wall, his extra weight making him slip and slide, but descending nevertheless. Ninja sat atop Simon like a little child clinging and trusting it’s daddy. At the bottom, Simon dropped to his knees in the watery liquid.
“Can you release yourself, Ninja?”
“Afraid not,” Ninja replied in a tiny apologetic voice.
Marguerite was suddenly there dipping her scarf in the water and spreading it over Ninja, squeezing and patting. “Ahhh,” Simon cooed. Again and again, Marguerite lifted the scarf full of the life-saving fluid and applied it to Ninja’s scorched, sticky limbs. At last, Ninja slid off Simon and into the water. His tentacles looked like eels winnowing through the shallow stream. He laughed his shrill octopus laugh, which sounded exactly like a whippoorwill to Simon, and sang his favorite song, God Save the Queen, twice without stopping. Why that particular song was Ninja’s favorite was a mystery to Simon, but it was downright music to his ears right now.
Marguerite was laughing and splashing right alongside Ninja. Simon gazed at her, transfixed by her beauty. How could anyone so lovely be so deadly?
“Simon, look!” Her screech shook him from his stare. Marguerite was pointing at a giant cat’s head peering through the mesh at them. Ninja swam near. The three of them watched in shock as the cat pawed at the wire. It moved. The cat swiped again. One more swipe and they would be exposed. Would they die like mice in the jaws of an oversized feline?
“Quick…where’s the gunbrella?” Ninja gasped.
“It’s supposed to be on the ledge, but I don’t see it now!” Simon yelled.
“Are you both insane…it didn’t just disappear into thin air!” Marguerite shrieked.
A huge paw was reaching down toward them…was this the end?
Two chubby hands encircled and lifted the cat. It rose above them with a disappointed meow!
“Kitty-Tom, I’ve been looking all over for you. It’s your turn to wear the baby bonnet today,” said a youngster’s voice above them.
Hollow eyed and breathing hard, the three collapsed against each other. Marguerite pulled away.
“Damn nation, Simon, you swallowed the X-Raniam powder inside the vial in your wand, didn’t you?” Marguerite’s eyes sparked with anger. “You crazy fool! Don’t you remember what happens if you take that powder after drinking Courvoisier? And don’t tell me you didn’t nip plentifully when you went back to your apartment!”
Simon’s eyes darted east and west in rapid succession. He smacked his forehead and groaned.
Ninja pushed off Simon’s legs and did an attractive backstroke in the water. “She’s right, old boy. I just did a few calculations. Judging from the size of that cat’s head, I’d say we’re all about two inches high.”
Simon sat down in the water. “But…but…but…why are you and Marguerite shrunken? I’m the one who drank the combination,” he sputtered.
“The heat and intensity from those power waves when we were saving the world, I’m afraid. Then we wrapped ourselves together like wontons and floated into air. Any organic change in you would have transferred to us. It’s just science,” Ninja explained, coming to a stop and leaning on one tentacle like a bent arm. His face held a sad but accepting expression.
Marguerite made her way up the side of the rock and peered over the top. “What the…?” she said.
“What do you see, my dear?” Ninja asked.
“Cactus. Saguaro cactus. A rock yard. Your stream is coming from a garden hose, Ninja! Our mesh is a piece of rusted screen.” She gasped and put a hand over her mouth. “My God, I think we’re somewhere in Arizona!”
“That’s impossible! Marguerite, come back down, dear. You’re delusional. We’ll figure this out together. Come on now. It’s all been too much,” Simon said, standing and reaching his arms toward her.
“Shut up, Simon! I know the Southwest when I see it. You forget that I’ve broken some huge cases here—that South American Mafia ring, the Interplanetary Dread Society case… this, my careless, stupid lunatic…is Tucson!
What will happen to two-inch Ninja, Simon and Marguerite in Tucson? And where is that blasted, elusive Mr. Jones hiding out? Tune in next week to find out what happens next. Lyndsey Jones will take us on our next adventure with The Octopus Knows!
Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.
If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindle, the Nook and most other eBook readers.
Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:
Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?
Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.
Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.