Tag Archive: crystal

Mar 19

In the Company of Angels: Episode 8.2 – The Wardrobe (cont.)



In the Company of Angels, Episode 8.2 – The Wardrobe (cont.)

“Perfect!” said Sam. “Just close me inside, won’t you, and I’ll see what I can find.”

“You should never close yourself into a wardrobe, young man. It’s possible that the lock might catch and you’d be trapped. And in this particular instance, I’m fairly certain I don’t have the key to unlock it. It’s quite an old wardrobe, as you can see.”

“I’ll not be trapped, Professor, even if the lock does catch; trust me,” said Sam, grinning broadly. He stepped inside and pulled the doors closed.

Several minutes passed. The Professor seemed nervous, and he couldn’t help but pace back and forth while he and Jill waited. But after several minutes, he was unable to control himself; he gently pulled opened one of the wardrobe doors and peered inside.

The wardrobe was completely empty.

“Don’t worry, Sir,” said Jill. “I know it’s startling the first time you see that happen, and it only happened to me for the first time yesterday; yesterday in my world, that is. But I think we’d do best to close the door and wait for him. He’ll be back soon, I promise.”

The Professor seemed dumbstruck, but he shut the wardrobe door once more and resumed his pacing. They didn’t have much longer to wait.

With a bang, Sam announced his return. The wardrobe door was flung open and the exuberant young fellow came tumbling out.

“Found it!” he said, beaming, “or, that is, I have a pretty good idea of where it must be.”

“Where?!” asked Jill and the Professor at the same instant.

“Very close to where we are standing now, but I’ll need your help to locate it precisely. Here’s what I found: I believe the raven collected a woman’s compact or some other small round mirror, and stowed it in his nest along with a lot of other items. I could see some marbles, some tinsel, and a few colourful bits of cloth and string. Those plus a sapphire.”

“You were able to actually see the sapphire?” asked Jill.

“Yep! Plain as day! Well, not exactly plain as day. The light was pretty dim.”

“But could you see where the nest was located?” asked the Professor.

“No, not really, but that’s where I can use your help. I could hear you both talking when I put my ear up to the Maze portal, so I know the nest has to be somewhere very close to us: definitely in this part of the house.”

“OK, then how can we help find it?” asked Jill.

“Here’s the plan,” said Sam, “and it’s pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself….”

Jill rolled her eyes.

“No, really! You’re gonna love this! See, I’m going to go back into the Maze, find the mirror again, and reach through with my fingers. I’ll try to make enough noise with them so that you can track down where it’s coming from.”

“How are you going to do that?” asked Jill.

“By tapping, or rustling around, or scratching, or whatever else I can do to make a disturbance. See, I can only get a couple of fingers through the mirror, else I could probably snag the sapphire and we’d be done.”

“Actually, Sam, we wouldn’t really be done, would we? We don’t know how the raven is getting in and out of the paintings. It may have more than one crystal.”

“Yeah, that’s true, though I’m still betting its using that crystal to do its framerunning. But, first things first. Let’s find the nest….”

Sam stepped back into the wardrobe. “Give me a few seconds, then start listening. I may not be able to make much noise, but see if you can locate where it’s coming from, whatever you hear.” He pulled the wardrobe door shut and they waited. After about a half minute had passed, they both heard a rustling sound, and then a tapping, as of a fingernail against wood. The sound seemed very close: just above them, in fact.

“I do believe it’s coming from the top of the wardrobe itself!” said the Professor.

“Are you tall enough to see what’s up there, Sir?” asked Jill.

“Not clearly. Let me get an electric torch and a stepstool. I shan’t be a moment….”

Jill thought Sam must have heard them, because the tapping ceased. After a minute, the Professor returned and set up the stepstool to one side of the wardrobe. He was then able, with the aid of his flashlight, to see the entire top of the wardrobe clearly.

“Ah!” he declared, “There it is in the far corner! Well done, Sam; that is, if you can still hear me. We’ve found it! You can come back out of the wardrobe now if you wish.”

Sam opened the wardrobe door again. The Professor looked down at him and asked “should I retrieve the sapphire? There does only appear to be a single one in the nest.”

Sam furrowed his brow and looked at Jill. “I guess getting hold of the crystal comes first; after all, that’s why we came. But then we still have figure out what to do with the raven. Does that all sound right to you?”

“I thought you were the boss around here,” said Jill.

Sam turned bright red. “No, no one’s trying to be the boss; we’re a team — aren’t we?”

It was now Jill’s turn to turn bright red. She had, unbidden, just felt a wave of emotion coming from Sam that she had never experienced before. It was nervousness, embarrassment, excitement, and — this was the strangest part — happiness. It was happiness at the thought, she realized, that the two of them were working together, and that they were doing something important.

“Well…of course we are,” she answered. “I’m sorry, I was just being, well, I don’t quite know the term.”

“I don’t think it precisely qualified, Miss Jonsson, but here we’d likely call it ‘being beastly’,” said the Professor as he looked down at them both. “But, shall I retrieve the gem or not?”

“Yes, let’s,” answered Jill. “It’s like Sam says; that’s mainly what we came for.”

The professor reached over to the back part of the wardrobe. Then he stepped down and opened his palm. There was the large, round-cut sapphire. It was identical to the two others they had seen on Orbaratus.

Sam reached out and took the stone into his hand. His brow furrowed again. “Professor, do you have any paintings in your study?”

“Certainly,” said the Professor. “Why do you ask?”

“This doesn’t feel quite right to me,” said Sam. “That is, I don’t get the same sensation from touching it that I do with one of the crystals we’re familiar with. I need to see a painting to make sure.”

They all returned to the Professors’ study. On one of the walls was a landscape of an Italian village. Sam walked over to it, holding the crystal, and touched its surface. Then he put the round gem into his pocket, grasped his own pendant, and, to the Professors great delight, reached his hand into the painting.

“Extraordinary!” exclaimed the Professor.

“Actually, it isn’t,” said Sam. “That’s the way they’re supposed to work, but this one doesn’t. It makes no sense.”

“But Sam,” said Jill, “we know that’s the same as the others on Orbaratus, don’t we?”

“Well, I believe it is. It’s round, like they were, and about the right size. But if this is the one that was stolen, it leaves us with even more questions than we started with!”

“Forgive me,” said the Professor, “but if you could explain the predicament more clearly, I might be able to help you with it. That’s often the case with intractable problems.”

Sam looked doubtful, but Jill piped up. “You’re right, Sir! My father used to tell me that sometimes, when he had a particularly difficult puzzle to work out, the best thing he could do was to try to explain it to somebody else. Even if he doubted they fully understood what he was saying, just talking about the problem often helped him to see the solution!”

She turned to Sam. “See, sometimes we get caught up in our own heads and we can’t see the forest for the trees. So, let’s try this. Let me explain everything to the Professor. You listen and correct me if I get anything wrong. That way we all get to step through the situation we’re in, and perhaps we can figure out what’s best to be done, together.”

“But I still think the less the Professor knows, the less likely we are to change something in this time that we’d regret.”

“But aren’t we long past that? The Professor already knows a lot. And wouldn’t it be best to decide what we should do and return to Orbaratus as soon as possible?”

She felt more than saw Sam agree with her, so she proceeded to explain to the Professor, more fully than they had before, where they had come from and why. She then explained that, although they now had the sapphire — or whatever this gem was — that they had come for, they had an additional problem in that the raven seemed able to framerun, somehow, and not by using this crystal. So, they needed to make sure that the raven couldn’t return to Orbaratus and steal the sapphire back again once they returned it.

The Professor listened intently and followed Jill’s account with great enthusiasm. “That is a fascinating tale!” he exclaimed when she was done. “You really ought to write it down someday, you know….

“But, you’re correct: if the raven stole the gem in the first place, it must still have some means of returning to this place, Orbaratus. And if that is true, we must find out how it does so and remove that means. That, or we’ll perhaps have to find a way to keep it from causing such harm going forward. I could cage the poor thing, but I hate the thought of it; ravens are very bright, and it would suffer inordinately. I could also cover all of my paintings so that it could not continue traveling between worlds, but it might find some other paintings in someone else’s attic that it would use as portals, and then heaven only knows what additional mischief it might cause.”

The Professor stopped to consider the matter again, and reached for his pipe. He packed it, lit it, took a few puffs, and then turned back to look thoughtfully at Sam and Jill.

“I believe, unless either of you has since thought of a better plan, that the best thing to be done would be to take the raven back with you. Perhaps the other members of your team might find a kinder way to prevent future problems than I am able to suggest at present. Remembering, of course, that time seems to be of the essence here….

“…and even aside from that,” he said, with a wink, “Mrs. Mills would be delighted if the bird was removed from the attic permanently, although I would never consent to having it harmed in any way in order for that to be achieved.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Sir,” said Sam, “we’d certainly never hurt it. But I think you’re right: we do need to make sure it can’t continue stealing things from other worlds.”

“So, then, what’s our plan?” asked Jill.

“To capture the raven,” said Sam.

“Good,” said the Professor, “but, then, how do you propose we manage that?”

“I honestly don’t know, Sir,” said Sam.

“Neither do I,” said Jill, “but I get the feeling we’d better figure out how, and fast.”

“Why is that?” asked Sam.

“Because,” said Jill, pointing into the hallway outside the Professor’s study, “There’s the raven now, and it sure looks to me like it’s got another one of the crystals in its talons.”

         [ To read Episode 9.1, click here…. ]




Jan 02

In the Company of Angels: Episode 3.1 – The Gallery



In the Company of Angels, Episode 3.1 – The Gallery


Jill walked down the sidewalk, noting the numbers on the buildings as she passed. It was the morning after Sam disappeared from her house. She had explained to her mother, quite truthfully, that Sam had left just after the howling had started outside. Her uncle Chris checked the yard, but by then the din had ceased and he could find no evidence of any intruders. So, the adults had all returned to the dining room and eaten dessert. About a half hour later, at Evie’s insistence, Jill had called Sam. He was back at home and was fine, but he did not offer any additional explanation other than to tell her the address of Mr. Luke’s studio.

That was where she was now headed.

When she reached the 200 block, she noticed that most of the buildings appeared to be industrial, with plenty of trucks pulling up to loading docks and lots of traffic coming and going. Number 220 was just ahead. It was a large three-story brick warehouse with a simple metal and mirrored-glass door in the front. A few windows, also mirrored, were visible on the second and third floors. The sign on the door matched Mr. Luke’s business card. It read:

Lucas Lester

Artist & Illustrator


 Jill stepped up to the door and pressed the button on the intercom. For quite a while there was no answer, so she pressed it again. Then an odd but strangely sweet metallic voice finally spoke to her through the speaker.

 “May I help you?”

 “This is Jill Jonsson. I’m here to see Mr. Luke. Sam Deckard gave me this address.”

 There was a long silence, and then she heard a loud buzz and a click as the lock on the door was released. “Come upstairs please,” said the metallic voice.

 Jill opened the door and stepped inside. The entrance area was a small, unadorned room. A heavy plain metal door that apparently connected with the ground floor of the warehouse was just to the right, and a flight of stairs leading upward was to the left. Directly in front of her, the entire wall was mirrored, and she could see herself in the reflection. She climbed the two short flights of stairs to the upper floor and found herself standing before another mirrored-glass door, similar to the one on the street. She realized that this mirror must be the one-way type; through it she saw various splotches of light and some movement. She knocked, and a shadowy figure approached. The door swung wide and Luke Lester stood in the doorway, dressed now in coveralls that were spattered with every imaginable color of paint..

 “Ah! Jane! It’s so good to of you to have come!”

 “Uh…it’s Jill, Mr. Luke. Jill Jonsson.”

 “Oh, yes, yes indeed. Silly me! I am so terrible with names! Please forgive me? May I take your coat?”

 “Yes, thanks,” said Jill. She handed her coat to Mr. Luke, who took it and carefully hung it on a hanger, and then upon a very ornate cast iron coat rack by the door. Beside the coat rack was an umbrella stand fashioned of dark-glazed ceramic with golden dragons painted along the rim the floor was covered with some beautiful but faded oriental rugs. These were only by the door through which she had entered; the rest of the floor was hardwood, and, Jill noted, could definitely use a good sweeping.

 But the room itself was less a room than an enormous platform, with carved wooden railings along three sides, and some sort of dark scaffolding barely visible beyond the rails, though what the scaffolding was, and what it held, Jill couldn’t see well enough to say. Whatever the structures were intended for, they appeared to reach not only to the floor below them, but all the way to the ceiling of what would have been the third floor of the warehouse.

 Upon the platform itself, there were a few chairs and a large desk near the door, jumbles of standing suits of armor, weapons, racks of clothing, and dozens of easels set up randomly. Each of these held a painting, or in some cases several small paintings together. Many of the easels had coat racks next to them, on and around which were piled cloaks, or hats, or gloves, or boots, or other items that Jill didn’t recognized.

 The wall behind her and parts of the platform were partitioned off by heavy purple curtains, and some of the spaces around the platform were surrounded by the curtains, Jill could see bright lights and easels with partially finished paintings within these enclosures. All of the windows that she had seen from the street below appeared to have been heavily curtained, and the only light in the warehouse came from flood lamps scattered throughout the platform. The effect of all of the jumble and clutter of the place reminded Jill, somehow, of a film studio filled with props for movie-making, and she could even imagine that the walls might be covered with thick velvet to absorb the outdoor sound.

 For there was no sound within the warehouse; that is, other than the gentle humming of electric lighting. That wasn’t quite true though, Jill realized, because now and again she thought she heard fluttering coming from the dim spaces beyond the carved railings; she wondered whether birds had become lost within the building, or had perhaps found ways in and out of the warehouse and had made nests for themselves in the rafters.

 All of these thoughts flooded through Jill’s mind as Mr. Luke fussed with her coat, but in reality only a few seconds had passed.

 “There we are then. Welcome to my studio!” Mr. Luke said, sweeping his hand grandly toward the easels and artifacts before them. “What do you think of it?”

 “Well…” said Jill. “I suppose I don’t really know what to think! I’ve never seen a place quite like this! But that’s not quite true, now that I think about it, because I did once see a live performance of a play at the Fox Theatre, and when we went backstage afterwards to meet some of the actors, I remember the prop rooms and makeup rooms and the storage areas. They reminded me of this, somehow.”

 “Ah! Yes, I suppose there may well be some similarities. We do often find that we need props for the work we do here. But, what play was it that you saw? And who took you, your mother?”

 “Well, it wasn’t a play really; it was an opera. It was Hansel and Gretel.” Jill paused for a moment and her voice became muted, “that was just before…before my father….”

 “Oh, Jill! You’re here!” It was Sam. Jill had not heard him come in. She assumed that he must have been behind some of the curtains.

 “Ah, Samuel! Yes, Jill has just arrived. Thank you for instructing her on how to find us!” said Mr. Luke.

 Sam came up to Jill, grinning.

 “Alright Sam, maybe now you can start to explain exactly what happened last night? And how you managed to get out of a bathroom that had no windows and no door other than the one I closed behind you?”

 Sam looked up at Mr. Luke, who nodded.

 “OK, look Jill, there’s a lot we’ll both need to explain to you, and it might be easier for all of us if we sat down and took it one step at a time. Before we start, would you like something to drink or to eat? Some tea maybe? This may take us a while….”

 “Well, sure, that’s what I’m here for. And, yes, I’d love some tea.”

 “Great, let’s sit here by the desk. Mr. Luke will look after the tea things.”

 While Sam was talking, Mr. Luke had stepped toward the railings. Jill heard the fluttering again, but Mr. Luke returned a few moments later holding a tray with a tea kettle, cups, saucers, and a poppy seed cake. There were three small plates, napkins, a pitcher of cream, and a sugar bowl. In addition, there was a plate with what looked like slices of salmon, and steam was rising from the teapot. Jill recognized the combination; she had been to England with her mother just the previous year, and when they were there they had often dined on such fare at tea rooms in the Cotswalds.

 “This is lovely!” she exclaimed. “I never would have expected such a nice welcome! Mr. Luke, this reminds me of an English tea. Have you ever been to England?”

 Sam snickered involuntarily.

 “Samuel! Be polite!” said Mr. Luke. “Jess here can’t possibly know about my upbringing! But, yes, Jess…”

 “It’s Jill!”

 “I’m sorry, yes Jill, I have spent quite a few years of my life in Europe, and in England in particular. I studied some years in Oxford, as well as in Rome. My mentor, Azarias, resides in London yet, and we are in constant contact. But, I’m so happy that you like the tea! Polly will be very pleased.”


 “She’s our…well…how would you describe Polly, Samuel?”

 “Um, well, she’s not like anyone you’ve ever met; takes a bit of getting used to, that’s for sure…” said Sam.

 “I meant her role in our…um…organization.”

 “Oh, that! Yes, well, Jill, Polly is part housekeeper, part secretary, part computer, part filing system, and part hostess, all rolled up into one. We call her the Keeper; what she does most and best is to mind The Gallery.”

 “The Gallery?” asked Jill. “Is that what you call your warehouse here, Mr. Luke?”

 “Well, yes,” said Mr. Luke. “It is, partially, a warehouse, but it’s more a combination of studio, gallery, and library. We have several million paintings and sketches housed here, and these are maintained and organized in those shelves you can just see past the railings.”

“Several million?”

 “Yes indeed! You’ll come to understand once we’ve explained. Samuel, would you bring out your sapphire?”

 Sam stood up and drew from his pocket the very pendant and chain that Jill had found at her house the day before. He held it up to the light and Jill could see once more how beautiful the jewel was as it caught shards of light from the flood lamps around them.

“Samuel tells me that you found this when he left it at your house. Many thanks for returning it to him, by the way! You cannot know how dangerous it might have been if someone else had discovered it by mistake!”

 “Dangerous?! What do you mean dangerous?! exclaimed Jill.

        [ To read Episode 3.2, click here…. ]

Dec 19

In the Company of Angels: Episode 2.1 – Rusty’s Big Adventure


In the Company of Angels, Episode 2.1 – Rusty’s Big Adventure


Clasping the pendant in her hand, Jill once again stepped quietly down the hallway toward the library. As she approached the doorway, the sounds of the flute ceased. Jill hesitated, but then she took a deep breath, stepped forward, and once more peered inside the room.

Nobody was there.

The room was just as she, Mr. Luke, and Sam had left it. Sunlight continued to stream in through the window, like before, but something struck her as odd this time. There also appeared to be light coming from other sources. She stepped into the library, puzzled. What was different?

Then it dawned on her. All of her paintings — of the Shire, of the Narnian woods, of Beauty and the Beast and all the rest — they were all glowing gently. It was almost as if they were being lit from behind, and there was a slight bluish light around the edges of each one. She stepped up to her favorite picture, the one of the Piper. There was the little boy, still sitting on the ground with his flute. The ethereal figures still flitted around him. But the colors: they were so brilliant! The sky, the trees, the rocks and the water: they all appeared real enough to reach out and touch….

Without even thinking about it, Jill stretched her fingers out to the surface of the framed print. But instead of feeling the cool smooth hardness of the glass, her hand moved into the picture. She could see it right there, reaching past where the print should have been and into some space beyond the wall of the room. She was so startled that she gasped and pulled her hand back. Involuntarily, her hold on the pendant slipped, and the chain and gem clattered to the floor.

Jill stooped to picked up the jewel, and then she put it into her frock along with the business card that Mr. Luke had given her. She looked at the painting once more. The extraordinary light had faded away; now, when she reached out to it, she felt the glass of the frame just where she knew it must be.

Jill clenched her eyes shut and rubbed them. Then she looked at the painting again. No, it was just her painting, appearing as it always had.

At that moment, Hazel rubbed up against her legs; he had returned from under the living room couch, whence he had scrambled when Luke and Sam first came into the kitchen. Jill gasped and nearly jumped out of her skin, but then she caught her breath and waited a moment for her heart to stop racing.

“What do you think, Hazel? Am I going crazy?” She reached down and scratched the cat’s ears. Hazel purred loudly and flexed his front claws.

It was at this point that Jill’s mother, Evie, returned home, so Jill put away her thoughts about the paintings and the earlier events of the morning, focusing instead on helping her mother bring in the groceries and straighten up the house. They were having guests over that evening for supper: her aunt and uncle, Cathy and Chris, and their two children, Rusty and Kate. Jill rather liked Kate, but Rusty was several years younger than the two girls, and Jill couldn’t sometimes help but think of him as a bit of a pest.

Nevertheless, supper went fine, and afterward, while the adults were chatting around the dinner table, the two girls excused themselves to go to the library; Rusty soon followed.

The cousins had been in Jill’s library many times, and Kate had a special fondness for it. She and Jill settled down in an overstuffed chair and Jill began showing her a new illustrated storybook that she had gotten for Christmas; Kate wasn’t quite the lover of fairy tales that Jill was, but she always appreciated pretty things. Meanwhile, Rusty quietly started pulling books off of the book shelves and watching them drop to the floor.

“Stop that!” yelled Kate when she realized what her brother was doing.

“Stop what?” Rusty asked, nudging another book off of the shelf and watching as it bounced on the floor, landed on it’s spine, and opened at an illustration of a giant.

Just then the front doorbell rang. Jill jumped up and glared at Rusty. “I’m going to see who’s at the door. But you’d better have my books put back on the shelves when I get back!”

“He will,” assured Kate, “or I’ll tell mom and dad.”

Jill went down the hall. “I’ll get the door, mom!” she said loudly enough for her mother to hear her.

She opened the door. Sam was standing just outside.

“Hi,” he said.

“What are you doing here?!” Jill asked.

“I’m sorry to come by so late, but I think maybe I dropped something here before Mr. Luke and I left this morning…? Did you happen to notice anything we might have lost?”

“As a matter of fact, I did. Do you mean the chain and pendant with the blue gemstone?”

Sam looked relieved. “So, you did find it! Great! Can I get it back from you? I’m so sorry I didn’t phone you first, but I was so sure I’d dropped it walking back to the Gallery…I mean, to Mr. Luke’s painting studio; I never figured I might have left it here. I’ve been looking for it on the sidewalk all the way over!”

“I’m sorry, Sam, I was going to call Mr. Luke and let him know,” Jill ushered Sam into the house, “but I got so busy helping my mom. We’ve got my cousins over for supper.”

“Your cousins?! Oh no! Including Kate?”

“Yes. What’s wrong with Kate?”

Sam turned red. “Uh…nothing….”

Jill looked at Sam oddly. “Is there anything I should know about the two of you?”

“Not as far as I’m concerned!” said Sam. “Let’s just say Kate always seems to be looking for me in the hallway at school…”

“Oh ho!” said Jill. “That’s news to me. But, you’ll just have to brace yourself. She’s in the library with Rusty, and that’s just where I left your pendant.”

“Oh, great,” groaned Sam.

“Jill? Who is it, honey?” her mother called to her from the dining room.

“It’s Sam from school, mom!”

Evie came out into the hallway. “Oh, hello, Sam! Have you had your supper yet?”

“Oh, yes ma’am,” said Sam, “I just came by to pick up something I forgot earlier this morning.”

“You were here earlier?”

“Yes, mom, Sam came by with…with a friend. I forgot to tell you,” said Jill.

“Well, that’s alright. It’s good to see you, Sam! Why don’t you both run along to the library; we’ll have some chocolate chip cookies for all of you a little later — if you’d like to stay for some, Sam.”

“Thank you ma’am,” said Sam.

Jill and Sam walked down the hall and entered the library. Standing in the middle of the room was Kate, all alone. She was white and trembling.

“Kate…?” said Jill, “What’s wrong? Where’s Rusty?”

Kate looked at both of them wide eyed, then lifted her finger and pointed to one of the paintings on the opposite wall. “He…he….”

“He what, Kate?!”

“He fell…he fell through the painting!!!”

        [ To read Episode 2.2, click here…. ]


Dec 12

In the Company of Angels: Episode 1.2 – A Rumpus in the Library (cont.)


In the Company of Angels, Episode 1.2 – A Rumpus in the Library (cont.)


A half hour later Sam, Luke, and Jill were sitting in the kitchen sipping on tea and eating chocolate chip cookies. Jill had gotten some ice and wrapped it in a washcloth and Luke was holding it against his forehead. The knot was still noticeable, but the swelling was going down.

“I’m afraid I was a bit too dazed to take a closer look,” said Luke, “but I saw that you had some very nice pictures in your library. From fairy tales, I think?”

“Yes, most of them,” said Jill, “my mom thinks I’m too old for them, but I like reading them a lot better than what we read for school.”

“Well, it shows good taste on your part. But, I’m sure you don’t just read books. You have plenty of friends — other than Sam here, I mean — to spend time with, don’t you?”

“Well, a few. But most of my girlfriends are just interested in dressing up and shopping.”

“And you don’t like doing those things?”

“Well, they’re alright, but I’d rather…I’d rather be walking in the Shire! Or time traveling with Meg Murry, or riding to the edge of the world on Fledge!” Jill was suddenly animated. “I mean, these are places where things really happen…where things really matter!” She paused and sighed. “Not like around here.”

Sam beamed at Luke. “See, I told you she was my friend!”

“Well, strange things can happen right here, too, you know,” Luke said, ignoring Sam.

“Not to me they don’t.”

“Well, look here, that’s not strictly true, is it? After all, we showed up in your house this morning. That isn’t something that happens every day, is it?” Luke smiled.

“No, but you’re not even supposed to be here. My mom is going to have a fit if she comes home and finds me home alone with a stranger, even if he did come with you, Sam. And, by the way, who exactly was it you were both chasing, anyway?”

“Well, I’m afraid that’s a long story,” said Luke, ”And, since I’m feeling better, and since you’re quite right that I shouldn’t be here at all, at least not without your mother’s permission, perhaps we’d best save that tale for another time? We’ve finished our tea, plus the cookies; many thanks for both! Come along, Sam, we should be going.” Luke stood up.

“But, Jill, don’t be surprised if were to meet again. This…hmmm…person that we were after, he has a habit of showing up in the strangest places, and has thus far led us on many a wild goose chase. If he comes again…uh…into your back yard, don’t be too surprised to find us right behind him.”

“But, what does he even look like? You never told me.”

“Well,” said Luke as Jill walked them back to the front door, “he’s a boy of about your age, or maybe a bit younger. He has curly black hair and a mischievous smile. He’s all about mischief, I think.”

“That reminds me a bit of Sam,” said Jill with a grin.

“Well, that’s somewhat true…” Luke looked at Sam and smiled.

“No, I’m just kidding. Sam’s alright,” said Jill, “even if he has been getting more and more into odd things. You know, like Star Wars and Star Trek and Doctor Who….”

Doctor Who? Aren’t you a bit young for Doctor Who?” asked Luke, looking at Sam.

Sam shrugged.

“But don’t you like such things?” Luke turned back toward Jill.

“I don’t know; I’ve never watched them. I don’t like space stories that much.”

“Well, they do have their own challenges, to be sure,” said Luke. “But, the person we’re after certainly isn’t Sam, and he’s not from outer space. One thing you’ll definitely notice about him, should you run across him, is that he is never without his pipe.”

“Wait, he’s a little boy, and he smokes a pipe?!”

“No, not that sort of a pipe. I mean like a flute, but not played sideways. You know, more like a recorder. Do you know the sort of thing I mean?”

Jill thought of the painting in her library. “Oh! I do! I have a picture of someone playing something just like that. would you like to see it?”

Luke hesitated for a moment. “Well, I suppose, but we don’t want to get you into trouble….”

“Come on!” said Sam, “We can at least have a quick look!”

Jill raced back down the hallway and Luke and Sam followed. Inside, she pointed triumphantly to the painting of the boy beneath the oak tree. Luke looked at it aghast, then smacked his head, forgetting for a moment about the knot.


“Are you alright?” asked Jill.

“Yes, I just forgot about my head. But, that’s the very fellow!”

“What, the one you’re after?”

“Sure is!” said Sam.

“But, this is just a painting; he’s not a real person!” said Jill.

Luke looked closely at the painting. “This isn’t a painting I’ve seen before. Wherever did you find it?”

“At an old antique shop with my mom. I’m sure it’s just a print, but it looks so bright and real….”

“Yes, it does.” Luke gazed at the picture.

“That also explains where he went after we came through,” Sam said under his breath. Luke nodded.

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, nothing; nothing, dear. But we should go speak to Azarias about all of this….” he said to Sam.

“Azarias? Who’s he?” asked Jill.

“Oh, a very good friend of mine; rather a mentor of sorts. A wise old fellow; you’d like him, wouldn’t she, Samuel? But, many thanks for showing us the picture. If you happen to see someone that looks….” Luke turned and looked hard at the picture once again, “…that looks exactly like this fellow, you’ll be sure to let us know, won’t you?”

“OK, but how do I do that?”

“Well, you can call Sam, for one thing. But also, you can reach me here.” Luke handed her a business card. On it was a painting of a man standing by the seashore and gazing at the ocean. It looked like this:


“You can email me from my website. You use email, don’t you?”

“Of course! Doesn’t everyone? But, what’s a ‘Framerunner’?”

“Oh, just a special type of artist. Some day you should visit my studio and I’ll explain it a bit more; I think you’ll like my paintings!” They walked back to the front door. “But by now you’ve had quite enough of us! Thanks again for the tea and cookies!” Luke bowed to her.

“You’re welcome. You know, I’ll have to tell my mom about your coming by.”

“Certainly! If she is at all concerned or wishes to speak with me, do have her ring me up. I’d be happy to meet her! And now, we’re off….”  Luke stepped down to the sidewalk.

Sam looked down at the floor and shuffled his feet for a minute. “See ya,” he said, and followed Luke. They both walked briskly away.

Jill stood for a moment looking at the business card, and then she tucked it into the pocket of her frock. She closed the door and started back toward the kitchen, but then she noticed something on the floor by the stairs. She went over and picked it up; it was a piece of broken chain with a pendant. The pendant was of simple silver wire, and clasped within it was one of the prettiest jewels she’d ever seen; it was deep blue, and it reflected the light in the room in the most amazing way. Jill touched the stone; it felt almost slippery, and a tingle went through her fingertips, like electricity.

That’s when she heard it; a sound like a bird. No, it wasn’t; it was a flute! But coming from…from where? She turned around, still holding the gem in her hand. The music was coming from the library!

Jill stood completely still for just a moment. Her first thought was to run after Luke and Sam, but then it occurred to her that maybe she should grab the broom again and find out who else might have stolen into the house.

She hesitated for just a moment more, and then knew exactly what she’d do…..

     [ To read Episode 2.1, click here…. ]