Tag Archive: study

Mar 05

In the Company of Angels: Episode 7.2 – The Attic (cont.)



In the Company of Angels, Episode 7.2 – The Attic (cont.)


“What do you two have to say for yourselves?” the Professor asked, opening the door to his study wider, and crossing his arms over his chest. He looked at both of them expectantly.

“Well, Sir, we’re…um…we’re students.” said Sam.

“Yes, that’s entirely possible,” said the Professor, “but is it common for American students to invade the homes of English professors without their leave?”

“Oh! So we’re in England!” Jill said.

“Where else might you think you were?” asked the Professor.

“Well, Sir, that might take some explaining,” said Sam.

“Well?! Well?! If it requires some explaining, then please proceed! But, Mrs. Mills, so that we do not begin to obtain a reputation for uncouth behavior toward foreign students, will you be so kind as to make us some tea? We’ll take it in my study.”

“Your study, Sir?” Mrs. Mills asked. “Well, I would have thought it more suitable to serve it in the childrens’ room, but as you wish….” The woman turned and tromped heavily down the stairs. A few moments later, Sam and Jill could hear the clanking of pots and pans in what must have been the kitchen, below. In the meantime, the Professor ushered them into his room.

The space was somewhat unkempt. There were books and bookshelves everywhere, and a second door across the room led into either a closet or another room. A desk was situated beneath a window that overlooked a well-tended yard and garden. Jill saw roses trained onto an archway in front of the house, and through this the walkway to the house appeared to pass. She noticed a cat slinking past the roses; it quickly disappeared into a hole in the hedge.

The colors and smells of an English summertime permeated even the mustiness of the Professor’s retreat, but Jill loved the bookish aromas and the scent of pipe smoke that surrounded them. These reminded her of her own library, and of her father: he had also loved books and had smoked a pipe. Involuntarily, she felt tears welling up in her eyes, but she immediately tried to stop them. “This is not the time or the place to be thinking of father!” she told herself.

The Professor closed his study door behind them both and gestured to chairs. “Please do make yourselves comfortable. The tea will be along shortly; or perhaps longly, given Mrs. Mills’ current mood.” He chuckled. Once they were both seated, he turned his desk chair around and sat facing them.

“Now, do please tell me who you are and where you’ve come from. And kindly don’t repeat whatever story you might have told Mrs. Mills, if indeed you offered her any explanation at all. I know you aren’t American students on holiday. So, who precisely are you?”

Sam and Jill looked at each other, and Jill gestured toward Sam. “You should tell him,” she said.

Everything?” he asked.

Jill shut her eyes for a moment and tried to get a sense of just who this Professor might be; whether he was someone that could be trusted. All she could perceive about him through her newly-emerging empathic sense suggested that he was a bright light in a dark world…someone very unusual. She almost perceived him as having a sparkling halo — similar to what she felt whenever she was in telepathic contact with Polydora. She opened her eyes and gazed at him with a feeling of wonder.

“Who exactly are you?!” she asked.

The Professor smiled broadly. “Why, no one in particular, my dear. But you two…there’s something about you two that is quite different. I’m used to children coming here you know…since the War. But none were ever Americans. And even Americans don’t dress as you two are dressed. So, where exactly are you from? And what are you doing in my house?”

“He’s safe,” said Jill to Sam. Sam nodded.

“OK then, what I am about to tell you might make you think I’m kidding. I’m not. We’ve come from another place,” Sam said, “and maybe even from another time…. Gee, I wish Mr. Luke was here; he’d know what to tell you. But, let’s just say that we came here because we are trying to get some answers to some important questions and to retrieve something that was stolen from…from its rightful place. We didn’t mean to break into your house; we were, well, sort of led here….”

The Professor leaned back in his chair and studied Sam carefully. “What is your name?” he asked.

“Sam Deckard,” Sam answered.

“And yours, my dear?” the Professor asked, turning to Jill.

Jill suddenly had an intense urge to do something she had not tried before, except with Polly. She tried to answer by speaking to the Professor with her mind.

“My name is Jill Jonsson” she thought, as “loudly” as she knew how.

The Professor’s eyes opened wide. “Oh my!” he said aloud.

“What?” asked Sam.

The Professor looked slightly bewildered. “Jill Jonsson?” he asked Jill directly.

“Yes,” she thought back to him.

“Oh, this is marvelous!” said the Professor.

“What is?” asked Sam.

“I’ve been talking to the Professor the way Polly taught me,” said Jill.

Sam’s eyes went wide, but he held his tongue.

The Professor, now sitting forward in his chair, looked with wonder at Jill. “Are you of the spirit world, my dear, or human?” he asked.

Jill was perplexed. “I’m just a girl, Sir,” she said. “But I seem to be able to ‘hear’ some things that other people think, and I can sometimes talk with people without speaking. But this is all pretty new for me, so I’m not sure I’m that good at it.”

“Extraordinary!” said the Professor. “I’ve never encountered anything like it!”

“But, Sir,” said Sam,”we actually came here for a reason, and we really can’t stay long; we have friends waiting for us who need our help. I can’t tell you much more, because there’s a lot of danger involved with talking about such things. Mr. Luke warned me that we might be entering a time-tethered realm, and if that’s the case, the less you know about us, the better for us and for you.”

“I’m sure I haven’t understood half of what you just said, young man,” said the Professor, “but I do see that you are both part of something that I ought to take seriously., even without understanding it. Tell me what you can and what you need help with. I’ll promise nothing up front other than to listen, but I am not unfamiliar with…hmm…how should I say this? With magical things. So, I promise to help if I believe I can and should.”

“Well, Sir,” said Sam,”what we need help with, at least mainly, is a raven.”

“A raven?!”

“Yes, Sir. A raven. It’s one that spends some time in your attic, it seems.”

“Ah! That must be the one Mrs. Mills is constantly complaining about. She has tried to shew it out whenever she has found it there, but it always comes back. It even creates new holes in the eaves for itself whenever we close up the old ones. But I haven’t the heart to harm it; it strikes me as a very unusual and clever bird, and I’m fond of all manner of creatures. But, whatever do you two want with it?”

“Well, Sir, we think it’s got something: something that doesn’t belong to it. And we need to get that back so that we can prevent a lot of bad things from happening,” said Jill.

“Well, I wouldn’t put thievery past any raven. They love collecting things, you know, especially shiny ones. I remember finding one’s nest as a boy, and it was filled with bits of tinsel, ribbons, marbles, and even broken bits of glass and mirrors.

But, that’s neither here nor there. whatever is it that has this one has stolen?”

“A gem, Sir. A sapphire, we think, not unlike this one.” Sam pulled his own crystal pendant from beneath his shirt and held it out to the Professor.

The Professor went to reach for the sapphire, but then stopped. “That’s no ordinary gem,” he said.

“What do you mean, Sir?” asked Sam, nervously.

The Professor looked Sam directly in the eye. “I mean that it has some property beyond just being a pretty thing. There’s a…a power in it, it seems to me. Am I right?”

Jill nudged Sam. “I told you; he’s safe. You can tell him.”

“Well, Sir, yes, you are. This crystal, and others like it, allow a person who wears it to do things that might seem pretty strange to most folks.”

“You mean like travel to different worlds? Or to different times?”

“Uh, yes Sir. But, like I said, we really shouldn’t tell you too much because it might cause us all a lot of problems,” said Sam, “but could I ask you a question?”


“Can you tell us where we are, and what year it is?”

“Properly speaking, young man, you should ask me ‘would you tell us’, not ‘can you tell us’.”

The Professor shook his head and muttered under his breath,”Whatever do they teach them in American schools?” Then, in a louder voice, he said, “But, laying that aside, do you mean to say you don’t know where you are? How extraordinary! But, it has been a day of extraordinary things. So, to answer you, you are in Oxford, England,” said the Professor.

“And the year is?”

“The year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty six.”

“Oh no!” said Sam.

              [ To read Episode 8.1, click here…. ]



Feb 26

In the Company of Angels: Episode 7.1 – The Attic


In the Company of Angels, Episode 7.1 – The Attic


Once Jill had waved to Polydora through the portal, the Ferrumari’s head disappeared back into the painting. The painting itself, still glowing brightly, depicted the very plaza that she, Sam, and Polly had been standing upon just a moment before. The scene looked nearly identical to the current state of the plaza, and seen now housed within a plain bronze frame, the painting appeared frighteningly apocalyptic — much more so than the one in Mr. Luke’s Gallery that had first brought them to Polly’s home world.

 But Jill had little time to think about Orbaratus now. She turned around her and surveyed the space within which she and Sam were standing. It was a bit stuffy, and she loosened her cloak and pushed it back from around her shoulders. Then she noticed the smells: of old wood, of dust, and of something else, something quite sweet.

 “Are those flowers?” she wondered. But just at that moment, very clearly in her head, she heard the word “Roses!” She turned and looked at Sam. He smiled at her and said, in a whisper, “I think I smell roses blooming! They must be outside. It must be summertime here!”

 It was a disconcerting moment for Jill, because, for the first time ever, other than with Polydora, she realized that she had caught a whiff, if you will, of someone else’s thoughts. She didn’t know if she was going to like what struck her as eavesdropping on other people; she wondered then if being an empath would prove to be something she could turn on or off, like the volume control of a radio, or whether it would just be a new form of background noise that she would have to get accustomed to. She didn’t know what the answer would be, but thought perhaps she should ask Polly, or Mr. Luke, once they returned to Orbaratus. For now though, she had other business to attend to.

 Sam gestured around them, and Jill could see that he was pointing out the many other paintings that were stacked haphazardly about within the crawlspace. These were scattered along with old pieces of furniture, lamps, wooden chests, and even the headboard and footboard of a bed frame in one corner. All of these  were covered with varying layers of dust, but the paintings were stacked vertically so that, for many of them, you could still see the images clearly within their frames. These images were all glowing with that otherworldly light that Jill had come to recognize. She unclenched her hand and turned her ring around, and only then did the lights fade.

 “I don’t see any sign of the raven,” she whispered.

 “No, me neither,” said Sam, “but let’s look around and see if maybe it’s built a nest in one of the nooks and crannies of this place.”

 “That’s going to be hard in all of this murk,” said Jill.

 The crawl space was high enough to stand near one wall, but the beams of the roof, with wood slats nailed across them, tapered down from the top of the wall to the floor. In the very farthest corner of the angle made by the roof beams and the floor, there were cracks of light that came from the eaves, and these provided the only illumination with which to see in the cramped space. There were shadowy corners into which the raven could easily have flown and they would never have been the wiser.

 But Sam grinned broadly and pulled a small flashlight out of his pocket. “Never worry! I was a Boy Scout once,” he whispered, “‘Be prepared’ shouldn’t just be their motto. We should adopt it for The Framerunners as well!  Ever since I was able to find an LED flashlight that would run for days on one set of batteries, I’ve never been without one. You’d be amazed at how many dark places you find yourself in when you’re jumping from world to world!”

 He switched on the flashlight and they were able to clearly see the crawlspace in all its musty, dust-filled glory. But Jill noticed that the dust on the floor was largely undisturbed; apparently the attic wasn’t very often used. That would be good for them, as it meant they would be less likely to be discovered.

 They worked their way from the Orbaratus painting to one end of the long crawl space. There they found first one, then a second small doorway that they guessed must open onto rooms of the house at that end. Then they doubled back, passed their painting again, and continued to the other end of the attic. There they found an additional door. The crawl space appeared, then, to run the whole length of the house.

 “I wonder if this is something like a row-house, with openings into different people’s homes?” whispered Jill.

 “I don’t know,” said Sam, “and I hope we don’t have to find out. But can you see over there in the far corner? There’s a lot of light coming in near the floor: a bright spot. I’m betting there’s a hole there, and maybe that’s where the raven has gotten to.”

 “But what if the raven just flew into a different painting? There have to be at least a half dozen we’ve seen that it could have gotten into. That is, if it’s still carrying one of the crystals.”

 “Well, we don’t even know if it has a crystal, but I see what you’re saying, and that would be mighty bad news if you’re right,” said Sam. “On the other hand, there’s one thing we haven’t tried yet. Remember Mr. Luke said to let you have a go at finding the bird; that maybe you could sense where it was even if we couldn’t discover it outright. Want to give that a try?”

 Jill nodded. “I’m new at this, but here goes….” She shut her eyes and did her best to sense what was around her. She knew Sam was there, but what about past him, past the confines of the crawlspace? She listened and tried to see if she could feel the presence of anyone other than Sam.

 At first she could detect nothing at all. But then she began to have the growing sense that there was a person nearby. She imagined it must be a woman; she wasn’t sure why. But this woman, whoever she might be, appeared in her mind to be busy with something. Jill listened. She “heard” snippets that might have been coming from the woman’s head.

 “All this dust…must get the tea on soon…wherever did I put the dustbin?…Professor will be having company later…” Jill experienced these as fleeting images more than as words, but they struck her as the sort of things someone would be muttering to herself while bustling around inside of a house.

 “I think there must be a housekeeper, or someone like that, nearby. Maybe in the room on the other side of this door,” she whispered to Sam.

 “OK. Anything else?” he asked.

 Jill concentrated once more. There was another presence, she thought, but not as busy as this first person. Someone concentrating his attention inwardly. “So it’s a ‘he’ rather than a ‘she’,” Jill thought. But he was not close at hand. Rather, he seemed to be down toward the other end of the house.

 But just then Jill’s attention was taken away from listening, for she detected, or thought she detected, something like  rapid movement, and the feeling of being watched. She opened her eyes and gazed in the direction she had felt the movement come from.

 “Sam, look over toward that bright spot you mentioned.”

 Sam turned and they both watched the patch of light in the corner. After a moment, they saw movement, and something that made the light blink out, and then back on again. Sam turned his flashlight toward the patch of light, and it glinted off of the beady eyes of the raven, which had apparently just flown back into the crawlspace.

 “There he is!” Sam exclaimed, forgetting to whisper. The raven froze in the light for a moment, but then turned around and dove back through the hole in the eaves.

 “Oh, blast it all!” said Sam, and stamped his foot.

 “Shush!!!” whispered Jill, but it was too late. She could hear footsteps just outside the door beside them, and then, a moment later, the handle turned and light streamed in from the room beyond. A middle-aged woman, slightly plump, was standing in the open doorway peering intently in at them.

 “Oh!” she said. “You two gave me such a start! The Professor didn’t say anything about any children in the house. But where have you stowed your things? And what on earth are you doing in this musty old attic?!”

 “Well, we, uh…” said Jill.

 “Americans no less!” said the woman. “Well, come along out of there, dearies. I’ll need to be setting up places for you both to sleep, I suppose. The Professor is so busy with his own work; keeps me on my toes, he does, never letting on who is coming for supper or…. But, that’s not your problem, dearies. Come on out and I’ll check with the Professor to find where I should put you, though I expect it will be in the children’s room, I shouldn’t wonder. Do you know how long you’ll be staying with us?”

 Sam and Jill had no option but to accompany the bustling woman from without the attic space and into the adjoining room. It was a large room, brightly lit. They followed the housekeeper (for so she appeared to be) into a hallway just outside, and then into another room past the head of the staircase that led to the ground floor below.

 The woman knocked on the door. “Professor, I’m here with the two children. Shall I set them up in the children’s room, as usual?”

 Sam and Jill heard nothing for a moment, but then the door to the room opened and a tall, middle-aged man with a receding hairline opened the door. Past him, they could both see that the room beyond must be a sort of a study and library.

 “Mrs. Mills, do be so kind as to explain yourself. There are no children in the house to my knowledge. That all ended months ago.”

 “Well then, how do you account for these ‘uns?” asked Mrs. Mills.

The Professor looked past Mrs. Mills at Jill and Sam, and was clearly startled. “My goodness! I’ve never seen them before in my life!

              [ To read Episode 7.2, click here…. ]