Dec 05

In the Company of Angels: Episode 1.1 – A Rumpus in the Library


In the Company of Angels, Episode 1.1 (Pilot) – A Rumpus in the Library


“Since the earliest of times, even from the dawn of man, when mystics first painted images on the walls of the caves at Lascaux and Altamira, there have been rumors: rumors that the worlds drawn in pigment and charcoal exist not only in the minds of the artists who created them, but in actual fact. And in every age, children are born who gaze with wonder at these worlds and ask ‘are they real?’ and ‘can I go there?’

“These journals are dedicated to those of us who never stopped asking those questions. They chronicle a story that began long before our own time, but that I take up in the present day. If you are reading my words or hearing my voice, then you are being entrusted with knowledge that very few have possessed over the long march of the centuries. My name is Azarias, and these are the tales of our Order: of those who have, in the past, been called the Fratrum Simulacrorum, but who are today known simply as The Framerunners.”  

                                — Brother Azarias, Fratrum Simulacrorum Archives Manual

 It all began on a chilly February morning in Chelsea Heights. Jill Jonsson was sitting at her kitchen table, watching the birds in the outdoor bird feeder, her blonde hair glowing golden in the morning sunlight. There were two cardinals, a male and a female, that flitted back and forth between the feeder and the bare fig tree in the front yard. They reminded Jill of the Christmas ornaments that she and her mother had put away just the week before.

Suddenly, Jill was startled by a loud thump and a crash. The noises came from the back of the house, and she immediately jumped up to see what Hazel, her mischievous tomcat, might have gotten into. But then she noticed Hazel sitting nonchalantly by his food dish, looking curiously toward the hallway.

Jill lived with her mother in the house at 1513 Vida Way. It was a small cottage, but nice; Jill had her very own tiny bedroom upstairs, and her mother had turned a spare room in the back of the downstairs into a library just for her.

Two full walls of the library sported bookcases, and these groaned under the weight of Jill’s favorites: the Narnia Chronicles, the Princess and the Goblin, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle in Time, The Wind in the Willows. These were just a few of the many in her collection, but she also loved mysteries and tales of other worlds than these, and longed for the time when she would be old enough to read books that, for now, her mother considered too difficult for her.

Jill also collected posters and prints of her favorite characters and scenes from her books, and these covered what little wall space was not already claimed by bookshelves: Fledge the Winged Horse flying through Narnia; Bilbo Baggins walking in the Shire; Mole and Rat poling down the river together. She even had a painting that she loved, but that didn’t seem to belong in any particular fairy tale: it was just a beautiful scene from a late summer’s day, with a gnarled oak tree and a little boy seated beneath it. He was playing a sort of a flute. Behind him stretched a river, and circling around him were wispy fairy-like figures that seemed to be dancing while he played.

But now Jill was startled and a little perplexed by the noises from library. Hazel had been known to knock over her bookcases; it had happened before, heaven knows! But now there sat Hazel, looking back and forth at her and at the hallway. So, something else must have happened, and there was nothing for it but to go see just what.

“Come on, Hazel, let’s see if anything is broken,” she said. Hazel ignored her, remaining firmly planted beside his food dish.

Jill stepped out of the kitchen, but then she halted. She heard more noises coming from the back of the house. Now she was a bit frightened. It occurred to her that a raccoon might have gotten inside, or perhaps even a burglar; and she was all alone in the house! She looked around and grabbed a broom from the pantry, then she slowly tiptoed down the hallway, trying her best not to make the slightest sound.

She crept toward the door to the library, but nothing seemed to be stirring. Jill was just starting to relax, when she heard a second crash, and a loud “Ouch!” coming from the library door.  She tiptoed closer and peeped inside.

Sprawled upon the floor was a man with his back to the wall and his long legs stretched out; beside him stood a boy with curly black hair wearing a rumpled sweatshirt. The library desk, which was a heavy old fashioned rolled-top that had been made by Jill’s great uncle, was knocked halfway across the room. It appeared almost as if someone or something had come hurtling through space and struck the side of it, skidding it and leaving scratch marks on the hardwood floor. And of course, this is very nearly what had happened. The man on the floor was rubbing his forehead and wincing. The boy was looking up at the wall behind the man; on it was a large poster-sized painting of a centaur in a wood in Narnia.

Just then the man looked up and saw her. “Oh! I’m sorry! We didn’t know anyone was home!”

The boy turned around, and said “Jill!” at the exact same time that Jill said “Sam!”

The man looked at both of them. “Oh, do you two know each other?”

“I should say so!” said Sam. “Jill is in my class. She’s my friend.”

“Ah, well then, that’s good, then there’s nothing to worry about. I’ve just bumped my head, you see….” The man indicated to Jill the lump on his forehead, which looked quite red and swollen.

“Yes, but you almost crushed me on the way in,” said Sam, crossly. He rubbed his shoulder and flexed his arm to make sure it was still functioning properly.

“But who are you?” asked Jill, “and whatever are you both doing in my library?!”

“Ah, yes, that…” the man slowly pulled himself up from the floor, steadying himself against the wall. He was tall, looked to be in his early twenties, and had longish hair and a thin, closely-cropped beard. He brushed himself off. He was wearing a long duster coat that made Jill think of Sherlock Holmes.

“My name is Luke; Luke Lester.” He reached out his hand toward Jill, who didn’t move from her position by the door; in fact, she still held the broom in front of her to show them both that she was armed.

“Oh, come on Jill, be a good sport. We’re not here to hurt you!” said Sam.

“Then what are you here for?”

“Yes, well, I expect this is a bit of a surprise for her, Sam,” said Luke, “and I don’t blame you for being wary, my dear. Let me apologize for the mess.” Luke looked at the desk and, with Sam’s help, pushed it back into place. “We were, well, chasing someone, and we…uh…thought we saw him come into your library through a…um…through a window.”

“But the window’s locked,” said Jill, “and we have an alarm system.”

Luke looked at the window, still rubbing his forehead. “Yes, that does seem to be true. I suppose perhaps the alarm may have malfunctioned? But, this fellow was definitely in your house, you see, and he had something that…well…that we were afraid would cause him harm if we didn’t get it back; something that he seems to have gotten hold of…uh…by accident.“ He paused for a moment. “You haven’t, well, seen any strangers in your house today, have you?”

“You mean, other than you?!”

“Ah…yes…other than me, since you already know Sam…”

 “Well, no, I haven’t. But I don’t think that matters. You both need to go. My mom will be home any minute and I think it would be better if you left.”

“Quite right! Quite right!” said Luke. “I’m sure we must have been mistaken, after all, Sam,” he said, turning to Sam and smiling. “Well, if you’ll just lead us to the front door, Jane, we’ll be off. I’m terribly sorry about all of this….” Luke suddenly put his hand against the wall and rubbed his eyes.

“Are you alright?” asked Jill.

“Yes, Mr. Luke, you don’t look too well…” said Sam.

“Yes, yes, I’ll be fine. Just a combination of taking an unexpected run and then bopping my head. I need a moment….” He shook his head again and muttered something under his breath. Sam put his hands on his hips and said something back to him, also under his breath, which sounded to Jill rather like “…well, you didn’t tell me there’d be wild boars in Narnia, of all places…”

“Well, you don’t look fine, either one of you! Would you like me to call someone for you?”

“No, no. But, that’s very kind of you.” Luke looked at her more closely. “Why, you have very nice manners for a little girl!”

“I am not a little girl!” said Jill. “I’ll be thirteen next week!”

“My mistake, I should have said ‘for a young lady’. I’m afraid I’m still a bit groggy. Will you accept my apology?” Luke again reached out his hand to Jill. This time she timidly accepted it.

Jill led them toward the front door, but when they reached it, Luke sat abruptly down on the lowest step of the stairway leading to the second floor. He gripped the handrail tightly.

“Would you like some water…or tea…or something?” Jill asked.

“Well, you know, I expect this will sound a bit strange, but…would you happen to have a bit of chocolate anywhere in the house?”

     [ To read Episode 1.2, click here…. ]



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  1. Celia

    I love the start! It’s going to be hard waiting for each installment, but I’m sure it will be worth it.

  2. Judy

    What an intriguing start to a new adventure. Lead on.

  3. Elanor

    Yes, very intriguing! Is it significant that Luke calls Jill “Jane” at one point?

    1. Jef Murray

      Elanor, yes, it is significant, and I’m delighted that you noticed! I fear Master Luke can be a trifle scattered when it comes to names; most artists have the same problem, or so I’ve been told 😉

  4. Terri

    Can’t wait to read more… Your illustrations are beautiful!

  5. Grace

    This…this is so amazing… I didn’t think that this would be good at all when I checked it out, but it is awesome so far! Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and a Wrinkle in Time were all part of my childhood, and I feel like I am Jill! You HAVE to get this published as a book or a magazine segment!

  6. Jef Murray

    Grace, thank you so much! That’s among the best responses I’ve had thus far! And, yes, it is slated to be put into book form once the complete tale has been posted. That should happen this fall.

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