Saturday, 31 October 2009

Saturday Wordzzle 87

Each week, Raven gives us a set of 15 words - 5 for the mini, 10 for the 10-worder or all 15 for the mega challenge. The idea is to create a passage which includes the words

You can go to Raven's Nest for the original rules of the game and some excellent advice.

This week's words were not hard in themselves, but when I first read them I did not think they would be very easy to weave into my ongoing story.

Most awkward: surface tension (had to include a whole bath scene just for that one!).

The Mini (Free estimates, French fries, carpet, Braille, silver-tongued bandit)

The greasy smell of French fries, wafting up from the burger place below my tiny flat, woke me from a light doze I hadn't realised I'd slipped into. At least, I assumed that was what had happened, but actually, it hadn't been the smell at all. As I looked around, somewhat groggily, I noticed a flyer had been pushed through my letterbox – the rattle must have been the thing that woke me. I padded across the worn carpet and picked up the postcard-sized thing. I was going to chuck it straight into the bin as it would most certainly be a pizza menu or an offer of Free Estimates! by some silver-tongued bandit of a tradesman or something. Now that it was in my hand, though, the flyer – if such it was – was none of those things. In fact, it had no printing on it at all, just a load of raised dots. It was a message in Braille. But who would have sent such a thing to me, and why?

The 10-worder (plumber, autograph, Florence Nightingale, a chill wind’s a blowing, watering hole, sleek, triplets, backwards, surface tension, parrot)

New to Harold's story? The summary is here

"Ray used to be a plumber, you know," said Nicole, as she bustled backwards and forwards about her huge kitchen with its impressive array of sleek-looking modern appliances. Harold and Teatime were seated at the kitchen table. Ray had just gone out with the dogs to the local watering hole, as he called it, to get some celebratory alcohol.

Ever since they had arrived, Nicole had not stopped fussing over Harold and Teatime like some modern-day Florence Nightingale. Were they hungry? (A definite yes in Harold's case, Murder at the Blood Drive being neither appetising nor sustaining) Thirsty? Too warm? Too cold? At first it had been a bit of a novelty to be so nicely treated, but now her and Ray's overly solicitous attentions were beginning to grate just a little. Harold half-expected her to ask for his autograph.

She plonked a generous plate of trail mix down on the table in front of a somewhat bemused Teatime (who had been hoping for cake, to be honest). "Ray calls this stuff 'parrot food'", she laughed, "But the kids used to love it so I keep some around for when they visit. Have I showed you Cathy, Caitlin and Carrie - my triplets, my Lord?" she asked, and when he didn't answer immediately, "My Lord?"

To distract himself from Nicole's inane chatter, Harold had been thinking of triplets of an entirely different kind: in his head another new piece (he was going to call it A Chill Wind's a-Blowing) had been getting born just nicely, but it disappeared with a disappointed silent pop as he realised that Nicole was actually addressing him directly and that she actually expected an answer of some sort.

"Er, yes, I believe you did." he answered, lamely, "Fine-looking children, they were too."

"Tell Nicole you want a bath," whispered Teatime. If there was not to be cake, then they might as well get down to brass tacks and start getting organised.

"But I don't need a bath, Teatime," said Harold, somewhat puzzled. Demons' vessels did not sweat and bacteria could not live on them in any case, so bathing was rarely necessary. Surely Teatime knew this?

"I know you don't, old button," replied Teatime patiently, "but we need to talk – preferably in a quiet place where we won't be disturbed. Honestly, old shoe, do I have to explain every little detail?"

Harold shrugged, "Er, Nicole?" he said.

Back at Aunt Aggie's, Agent India was almost ready to hug herself with satisfaction. She had been absolutely on the money. OGS had been a little lax and had not followed its own procedures properly. India liked procedures, they minimised the variability of human decision-making and kept things nice and controllable. Now India knew that the slip-up was probably because of the last-minute change of plan imposed upon Joshua squad by Director Opal, but all the same, procedures were meant to be followed even if – especially if – something unusual cropped up. In this instance, however, she was pleased to note that, just as she'd thought, the demon's bag had not been searched very thoroughly at all. She looked down at the device in her hand. On its screen, a little red dot was glowing steadily.

"Bubbles are always perfectly spherical, aren't they?" mused Harold as he soaked in the scented water of Ray and Nicole's massive marble sunken bath. He'd seen people bathing on TV and had had the odd shower himself, but this! This was really pleasant. No wonder humans enjoyed it.

"Yes, it's because surface tension exerts an equal force in all – " Teatime stopped himself, mid-lecture, "Look here, old sock, I didn't mean for you to actually have a bath, merely to ask for one."

"I know," said Harold lightly, "But now I'm here... Anyway, how come we were slumming it at the Sleezee when we could have come here and lived it up?"

"That's part of what I want to talk to you about," replied Teatime, "Now listen."


  1. Your mini was succinct and you cleverly wove those words effortlessly into a story.

    I enjoyed the latest instalment of Harold's story too. :)

  2. Way to go, Argent!

    Mini: Intriguing! Just what is on that card...maybe winning lottery numbers?

    10-word: You really keep us hooked on Harold! I rather like that Teatime isn't as smart as he projects!

    Another good day to stop by!

  3. Two fabulous stories. You left us all wondering with the first.
    But Harold just keeps getting better and better. I love the image of a demon enjoying a bath.

  4. Great job. You worked the words in so smoothly I forgot I was reading a wordzzle. I'm thoroughly enjoying Harold's saga. Wish I didn't have to wait a week to find out what comes next.

  5. I am interested in this story. We are left wondering about many things so can not wait until next week.

  6. Long, long, and then still longer. If there was an award for the longest story you would win. We love Harold and would love to eat that Monkey but long, long, long.
    In both stories the words are used very well but the second story is long, long, long.
    Dragons don't like long.

  7. Wonderful as usual. I might have to have a fight with a dragon about the length though - I think it's just right LOL.

    My friends & I have had a joke about surface tension since college. One of them was giving the rest of us some nerdy lecture on it in the cafeteria one day. For some reason we thought it was hilarious & now almost any phenomenon can be attributed to surface tension. "Oh, the sky's blue? It all has to do with surface tension." I know, we're goofy.

  8. Just spent a while catching up... I could do with one of them baths.. I liked the mini too, there's something a bit sinister in it's tones.. :-)

  9. I like both stories... In fact, at the end of the Harold chapter I was thinking - that was unusually SHORT, wasn't it?! Don't understand what the dragons are complaining about... LOL

  10. The first story was interesting and sounds like the start of a mystery. The Harold and Teatime story shows Harold getting used to the good life. Teatime doesn't sound like he wants that to happen, and Harold may in any case get rescued from it by people who want to send him somewhere else. They were both good stories.

    I enjoyed last week's stories too, about the man who had robbed the kid even though, it turns out now, he was the kid's father, and the Harold and Teatime episode about Harold getting rescued and taken to the mansion.

    Stephen from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

  11. @Akelamalu - I'm glad you enjoyed. It's nice to see you back in the land of wordzzles again.

    @RestonFriends - I wish someone would send me the winning lottery numbers - even if they were in Braille! You won't have long to wait to find out what's on the card and I'm pleased you're still enjoying Harold's adventures. Teatime is smart but, like the rest of us, quite fallible.

    @DrJohn - Yes, Harold gets a bath courtesy of the words 'surface tension'. I guess they don't have luxuries like hot baths where he comes from and it's all a bit of a novelty.

    @Raven - You're too kind! A week flies by though doesn't it? It's nearly time for the next bit!

    @Bettygram - hope I don't disappoint after setting up all these suspenseful endings.

    @Fandango - This week's post was actually shorted than last week's. I can say no more than that.

    @Bug - I love your geeky surface tension humour! Anyway, I have similar long-running jokes with my friends and there's nothing wrong with it. Don't take on the dragons though, I'm already down to my last set of asbestos underwear!

    @Watercats - Nice to have you back, all dried out, I hope. Sinister tones, eh? Hmmm.....

    @DawnTreader - Thank you. I'm not sure what's up with the dragons either - this week's stuff was shorter and now they complain? I don't get it, but hey, they're dragons, what can you do?

    @Stephen - I always look foward to your well-considered comments and I've just realised with horror that I haven't read your stories yet. I'm coming over there right away to do so.


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