Sunday, 19 December 2010

That's enough snow!

The snow was falling far too heavily now, and the Chihuahua was displeased. Snow was supposed to be fun, not cold and wet and aggressive. This was definitely the last time she accepted a case from Jack Frost. She sat by the door, waiting patiently for it to open. Sometimes the idiot humans forgot how it worked....

Even after she'd gone in though, the snow continued to fall.

Not that she cared, now that she was back indoors again. Now, where did she leave the newspaper with reports of other unsolved crimes?

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Chihuahua finding snow

Aha! thought the chihuahua looking around. The snow has been found!
She was slightly worried that it had all appeared to fall from the sky when she was sleeping, but the key thing was that it was back, and she could report the case closed.
She shivered a little, glad of her little woolen jumper, and sniffed the snow a little more. Clean and crisp, easy to track other dogs, birds and foxes on. She could quite get to enjoy this snow.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Chihuahua in lilac

No snow had been found, but the Chihuahua could still lie back and dream about it, swaddled in lilac and warm as toast. The missing snow was an issue though; how could she go back to Jack Frost and tell him that she'd not found anything. Well, any snow at least; she'd found a bone that would last for days, but she wasn't going to share that!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Chihuahua looking for snow

The problem, thought the chihuahua as she sniffed the plants, is that the snow is always hiding.

Sunday, 12 December 2010


"Morning Mrs. M!" I called out as I was crossing the street. Terry's mum looked up, she'd been pushing her wheeled shopping basket up on to the curb, and waved. I hurried over, nearly slipping on a patch of ice, then nearly tripping over a paving stone that the days of freezing and thawing had lifted. "Need a hand, Mrs. M?" I said, skidding to a halt.
"Oh thank-you dear, you can push the trolley. We're just waiting for Terry, now."
"Oh, is he with you?" I had mixed feelings about seeing Terry again; shortly after the exchange student had left he'd asked me if I liked manacles, and I really hadn't liked the suggestive tone the conversation had taken.
"He will be shortly dear, he's just picking some things up for the church."
That startled me a little, neither Terry nor his mum were particularly religious as far as I knew.
"Oh, are you helping out this year then?" I tried for diplomatically neutral, but even to my ears I sounded nosey. Terry's mum kindly answered anyway.
"Well, it wasn't my idea," she said, pointing to the bench at the bus-stop and indicating that she intended to sit down. "Agnes down at the WI has been mithering me for weeks now to do something to give back to the community. I've told her, over and over again, that I do plenty for the community but that it goes unnoticed."
I wasn't sure that bombing crack-dens and forcing talk-radio presenters into nervous breakdowns actually went unnoticed for all they gave back to the community, but I wasn't about to interrupt Terry's mum when she was explaining.
"So when she brought the new vicar in to pester me as well, I felt I'd better step up and do my bit."
She smiled at me, doing her twinkly-white-haired-old-granny-how-lovable routine and not fooling me for an instant. The new vicar probably hadn't had anyone warn him what a bad idea it was to involve Terry's mum with projects, and wouldn't have heard about her relic-collecting trip to Italy that's still causing international incidents every three or four months.
"So what are you helping out with then?" I said, looking around for Terry.
"The nativity scene in front of the church."
I saw Terry. Walking quite quickly, looking very nervous, holding a baby. He checked the road and hurried across, spotting us at the bus-stop. He looked relieved to see his mother, and turned white a sheet when he saw me. He kept on coming though.
"Mum," he said, holding the baby out like it was red-hot.
"Put it in the trolley, dear," said Terry's mum. "Did you get the right gender this time?"
"This time?" I couldn't help myself, the words just escaped from my lips.
"Oh yes, the last two he's picked up have both been girls. Fancy, as if baby Jesus was a girl! I told him, if he gets it wrong this time I'll take him down to the maternity ward and make him pick one out from there instead."
"Mrs. M, isn't this... isn't this, well, kidnapping?"
"No." She stood up and started pushing the trolley away. "Kidnapping would require me sending a ransom note, or never returning the child. I'm just borrowing it, for Christmas, and starring it in a nativity scene. If anything, this is just movie-making."
Terry tugged my arm, so that he and I fell slightly behind his mother.
"She's had me steal reindeers from the zoo, too," he whispered. "And there's three confused old men from the local shelter in the living room."
"Terry, you can't let her steal babies!" I was trying to whisper, but I was getting worked up. He shushed me.
"She isn't really. The baby'll go into the nativity scene this evening, just before the carol service, and then I've got to tip the police off. It'll be back with it's parents before the end of the day, and the new vicar will be doing all the explaining."
I stared, first at Terry, then at his mother.
"Your mother's a wonderful woman," I said heavily. "I'm sure there's a good reason for everything she does, and I'm so glad it rarely involves me."

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Madonna in Heat

The Madonna in Heat was delivered to my office while I was out as part-payment from Master Licko. When I returned in the late afternoon I first heard cries of mild anguish coming from my office while I was stood in the outer office wondering where my secretary had gone. I allowed myself a half-smile, it is good when clients know their place after all; but shortly thereafter it occurred to me that if I wasn't in my office explaining the psychopathy of the law then no client should be in there either. I set down my briefcase, ruffled my cilia into my most intimidating stance, and opened the door.
The Madonna in Heat, a motile statue of a human woman designed by Master Licko for a collector of religious art, had pinned my secretary against the wall underneath the family portraits and was lunging her head at her repeatedly, her tongue flickering in and out of her mouth like a garshgwa. My secretary gurgled a little, her cilia greenly inflamed, and the Madonna lunged again. I dialled the combination in the legal cupboard to my left, and pulled a semi-automatic taser out. The settings on the side of this model offered me Counsel, Mediate, Remediate and Court Action, and as I didn't yet know why the statue was there I selected Mediate to avoid damaging it too much.
Sixteen taser darts lanced into the Madonna delivering enough voltage to stun a stampeding earth-elephant, and I was delighted to see the Madonna freeze in place, her eyes rolling up in her alabaster face and her hands falling to her side.
"She actually looks like a statue now!" I said to my secretary, but she was clutching at her throat and having a panic attack. I dialled the taser back down to Counsel and switched it to single shot and tased her.


"I don't actually want any artwork in my office, Master Licko, nor do I intend to accept it as payment for my services. I am a lawyer-at-arms, not an art-afficionado."
Master Licko whined on the other end of the phone, telling me in a round-about and tedious manner that my services were proving rather more expensive than he was in a position to pay for at the present time. Finally I hung up on him, and then made a note in my desk-pad to have a couple of violent criminals sent to him for community service. Then I went to take a look at my new statue.
The Madonna was fairly quiescent for now, and a little research had revealed that she'd been attempting to be amorous with my secretary; according to the human television channels this was a very common pastime for their females. However, while doing the research a different human television channel had also caught my eye, and I'd seen some potential, the kind that drops the garshgwa amongst the pigeons, so to speak.
The outer door opened and a would-be client intruded. The Madonna swung round on her plinth, hissed like a boiling kettle and produced two pistols from somewhere in the folds of her clothes. They both pointed at the would-be client's forehead ridge, right where any bullets fired would be guaranteed to ricochet around inside the recipient's head. The client swallowed nervously, and his eye-stalks sought out my secretary, who was shivering at her desk.
"I have an appointment!" the client squeaked, and my secretary checked her screen. She nodded, and the Madonna lowered the weapons.
"This way," I said, trying to remember how to smile. Normally I only smile when I'm delivering bad news. "Do you like our new statue? We're calling it the Madonna packing heat...."

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Master Licko

Mr Eaves was based on the proportions of Mrs Eaves, but Master Licko took some liberty with his design. Where Mrs Eaves was statuesque Mr Eaves took on a stretched-out appearance. Where Mrs Eaves had sharp, bird-like features, Mr Eaves's became cruelly sharp, and elements of both the crow and the vulture fought together. And where Mrs Eaves had the usual number of limbs, Master Licko forgot himself completely and gave Mr Eaves three arms and eight legs. When Marianne, who had commissioned the Eaves's from Master Licko, came to the shop to collect them, she was appalled.
"This is a travesty of what I asked for!" she said, her voice going high-pitched as she waved her arms around agitatedly. Glendinning the butler hurried behind her, escorting motile statues out of her way. "I wanted a normal, human couple for my menagerie. I see them all the time on their television shows, and the men do not look like... that." She pointed for effect and her arm telescoped out nearly skewering Master Licko.
"How will they mate and have children?" she said.
Master Licko had been looking sheepish up until now, aware suddenly that his little design liberties had once again built up into a rather big liberty that was looking as though it might be expensive to retreat from, but when she mentioned children he turned pale.
"Glendinning!" he snapped. The butler, still wrestling with the statue of the Madonna in Heat which was reluctant to leave the Inspiration for David alone, looked up. "Glendinning, the specification for the Eaves's. Quickly now."
As it was, I had the specification to hand as I'd been expecting Marianne's upset, so I waved it at Glendinning who was being straddled by the Madonna who was trying to use him as a springboard.
Master Licko seized the specification from my hands and turned the pages quickly, skimming each in turn and muttering imprecations under his breath. Suddenly he stopped and read more slowly, turning the page, then turning back again. He looked at Marianne.
"There's no requirement in here for the Eaves's to be capable of reproduction."
"Well why would there be, silly? All humans reproduce. It's what most of their television shows are about." Not all though, as we knew. The religious collector had refused the Madonna in Heat precisely because she apparently was well-known for not reproducing, or at least, not like that.
"If it's not the spec, then I don't have to deliver it. It so happens," he raised a hand to forestall her fury, "that the base model I use is normally fertile, so they well be able to have children, but it's not a guarantee and you didn't ask for it."
"What do you say?" Marianne stared at me, her eyes white and vacant as always.
"Legal stuff, mostly, I'm Master Licko's lawyer-at-arms."
"I see. Well, he's still got too many legs! Pull some off him."
Master Licko licked his lips delicately. "They're quickened already. That means that they can feel pain."
"I don't care! Do it, or I'll refuse the order."
"I can't."
"He actually can't," I said smoothly. "The law states that once they've been quickened they have to be treated humanely."
"And what does humanely mean?" Marianne had an odd smirk on her face now.
"Legally, we use it to mean treat them the way they'd treat each other."
"Then you can pull his legs off," she said, tasting victory. "Because they're absolutely vile to each other much of the time. Just turn to channel 31 and see."
"The war-zone, sir," said Glendinning.
And so it was, after much argument and disagreement, that Mr Eaves was induced to stand on a land-mine and have almost six of his extra limbs blown off, bringing him a little closer in shape to Mrs Eaves and probably doing dreadful things to his sanity at the same time.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The genealogy room

When she finally recognised that the strange shape she couldn't smooth out of the wallpaper outlined a door she felt a wave of relief wash over her like a cool shower on a sweltering summer's day. The room was intended to be a bedroom for her brother, whose OCD tendencies had reached proportions that made it impossible for him to live alone, and she was certain that the shape in the wallpaper that merely kept her awake at nights would drive him into uncertain insanity. She lay down the hammer she'd sneaked from David's toolbox, glad she'd not needed to try hammering the shape flat, and went back downstairs to fetch a heat-gun.
David stopped her at the foot of the stairs, already holding his toolbox. His raised eyebrow was enough; she explained what she'd been doing and what she now intended.
"Oh Clara, what are we going to do with you?" he said. She had no idea what he meant, so she hadn't replied, instead drawing spirals on the carpet with the tip of her shoe. "Let's get this door uncovered then. And I hope for your sake that it's not locked by some long-lost key."
She'd smiled then, and it lit up her face with a radiance that almost concealed the dark circles under her eyes and the fatigue lines round her mouth. She'd waited almost patiently while David slit the paper along the doorway's outline and then gently lifted it off with careful, artistic flourishes of the heat-gun and a sharp-edged spatula. As he pulled the last long strip away, stepping backwards to avoid it dropping on his head, she scurried past him, fingers running over cherry-painted wood searching for a doorknob. There was none, but when she pushed her fingers into a depression near the left-hand side of the door it clicked softly, buzzed faintly, and swung very slightly towards her. She pulled it open gleefully.
David stopped folding the paper for a moment to look thoughtful, so she hurried into the new room before he could say more than "Solenoid?"
The other side of the door was no Narnia, it was barely more than a monk's cell. The walls were plainly plastered, there were no windows, and the floor was laid with slate. If she stretched her arms out, both her index fingers could touch the side walls. Then she realised that the room was much deeper than she could see, and started feeling her way forward.
A click behind her made her turn her head, and she saw David trying out a panel of three light-switches. The middle one brought the lights on, the bulbs concealed behind wall-panels of frosted glass.
At the far end of the room were two tables. Next to one was a pile of paper that came up to her waist. On that table lay a quill pen and a pot of fresh black ink. On the second table was a thin strip of paper with writing on, and then many more sheets of paper, written on and bound together.
When she looked, the thin strip of paper bore the name of her maternal grandfather who had died the previous winter competing in an extreme-ice-sculpting tournament. The other pages documented his life in astonishing detail.
She couldn't help herself. She picked a new piece of paper from the pile, wrote her brother's name on it with the quill pen and ink, and laid it in place of the thin strip with her grandfather's name. Almost immediately a piece of paper slid on to the pen's table, and the pen started to write, detailing her brother's activities. She looked first at it, and then at David.
"We have a genealogy room!" she said.