Saturday, December 26, 2015

Spark the Dragon Meets Prince Abaddon


120904655645652
Flame landed with a bound just beyond the shade from the noonday sun cast by the rock overhang of the kitchen and gave his feathers a good shake before making a hurried waddle inside. "We've got company!" he hollered before he could see.
"We're right here, dear," said Lipperella, standing up from the table to peek outside. "For dinner? Do you reckon I've fixed enough?"
"Who cares?" said Flame, grabbing up a dainty from the table. "Goody, good! Hot pickled kangaroo rats."
"You're terrible!" said Lipperella, giving him a good swat with a dish towel.
"Edward and Laora are leading them in right now," he said, rubbing his belly where she got him. "Three diatrymas and two humans, looks like."
"Diatrymas?" said Spark. "All the way from Niarg? Has to be trouble of some kind."Sinornithosaurus_mag
"We'll see. Here they are."
"Momma! Papa!" cried Laora as she and Edward landed at a run. "Edward and I found Arwr and these new diatrymas, Mentrus and Gwawr. And they've got Súlacha and Lance, and Abaddon and Shot 'n' Stop. And they have news about the witches..."
The diatrymas came to a springy halt and dropped to their keels to unload their passengers. "I beg your pardon, Spark," said Arwr, springing up to gingerly step about.
"Have you pans of water for us to stand in for a moment? We've had to travel at night
because of the black sands, but this morning was overcast. When the sun came out not
long ago, it about cooked our feet."
"Well," said Spark as he clattered about, hunting for basins, "good job you and Laora found them, aye Edward?"
"Súlacha here, is their tracker," said Laora, "and when he says they've never been here before, they probably really would've got lost without us..."
"Oh poop!" scoffed Abaddon, whereupon Lance grabbed him by the sleeve and shook his head.
"Well we managed to get to where they found us," said Lance, "but they undoubtedly spared us days of random searching for signs of you all."
"Make yourselves at home and unwind while we arrange things," said Spark. "Flame. Help me scoot the board into the doorway so that the diatrymas can eat with us, since they always stay outside."
"They've been inside," said Abaddon.
"Only in the halls of Fairies," said Arwr from his two basins, just outside.
"Yess, yesss, unwind," said Shot 'n' Stop as he slithered out of Abaddon's bag.
Soon they were enjoying a grand meal with Spark and Lipperella and all their mob down the long board, laden with a half dozen steaming roast peccaries with agave stuffing, hot corn bread and prickly pear jam. Súlacha, Lance and Abaddon were delighted with the sumptuous bounty, though they did remain wary of the hog hair gravy, pickled peppered kangaroo rats, voles smothered in chocolate sauce and the cubed raw rabbit with hide and hair passing up and down the board.
When the small talk had died away, Spark parked his napkin by his plate. "So it's the witches that brings you, is it?" he said.
"Oilean Gairdin has fallen to the witches and the Marfora Siofra," said Lance. "Abaddon and I fled with the Elves into the Wilderlands and are staying with Meri Greenwood in Gerddi Teg, north of the Deadmoors. Niarg may have fallen by now, but we don't yet know."
At this, Edward quietly left the table and vanished. When Laroa found him in their room, he was pacing about in a very agitated state.
"Edward," she said, quietly coming to his side. "You left at the beginning of the telling of the biggest tidings which have yet to come to the Black Desert. Are you all right?"
"I'm fine."
"But you look upset..."
"I'm fine!"
"That doesn't sound at all like it. And you were so excited at first. You've told me how you missed Shot 'n' Stop. Besides, Prince Abaddon is your age. I thought you'd want to get acquainted. He's a prince and you're a prince..."
"What do I need him for when I have you? Besides, you didn't like the Fireheads, especially Trifin."
"Yea? Well Abaddon isn't here to breed you, Edward."
"Yuck!"
"See?" she said. "So what's your excuse?"
"All right," he said, giving her a quick hug and sitting on the edge of the bed with a bounce. "Do you know who Prince Abaddon really is?"
"Sure. Just how he was introduced: the son of King James of Loxmere."
"And, and son of Queen Spitemorta of Goll, the exact bad woman who killed Momma."
"Oh," she said, blinking a couple of times before scooting close and gently nibbling at the hair over his ear.






Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Great Stone Tree

The Great Stone Tree Glossopteris titanodendrum-dactylophyllum W. was discovered as a 52 foot diameter fossilized tree stump by the First Wizard, who chiseled out the Heart of the Staff from its center. In search of what he believed to be Meri Greenwood the Fairy's source of commanding renewal power, the Heart of the Forests or Calon Fforydd, he found it standing upright, exactly where it had grown, surrounded by sections of its trunk and a layer of its own fossilized fallen leaves, in the middle of the exposed Permian deposit, known as the Koad Karreg or Stone Forest on the south edge of the Mammvro on the Dark Continent. It differs from other glossopterids by virtue of its immense size and by its deeply lobed leaves. Sections of its trunk add up to a tree which could not have been any less than 530 feet tall, and with the size of its stump, it remains the largest individual tree ever discovered. The Koad Karreg is the Permian location of the South Pole, which shifted to its present position with the multiple impacts of asteroids which closed the Age of Fishes. Compasses do not work reliably in the forest, and under its perpetual cloud cover, many a traveler has vanished.  

Since the Great Stone Tree is where the Heart of the Staff came from, there are indirect references to it in each book of The Heart of the Staff, but particularly so in

Monday, November 2, 2015

ESP in Harris's Hawks and Big Kitties


Years ago, an article in This Week Magazine proved to us that extra sensory perception (ESP) was indeed real. An article in the magazine provided two sets of six cards to cut out, with a colored picture of a different simple object on each card. One person spread out his six cards and stared at any single one of them for one minute. Out of sight in the next room, another person stared at the entire lot of his matching cards for the same minute, then picked out the card which matched the one he felt the person in the other room had been staring at. There were several trials for each pair of people being tested, and scores were kept. The scores showed without a doubt that most of the time I knew what cards my mom and dad were looking at, but I seldom knew what card my brother-in-law was looking at.
From that time on, I was convinced that ESP existed, but I rarely saw instances where it was likely at work. We humans are so feebly endowed with ESP that I did graduate work in Ethology (comparative animal behavior) without once running across a paper about ESP in animals.
Carol and I lived for a short time, out in the sagebrush on the Paiute reservation in Schurz, Nevada. Every day we would turn out our two ravens with clipped wings into the chain-link fenced yard. Once in a while, a Harris's hawk would alight on the fence and eye the ravens without making a sound. Our ravens would hide at once in their carrier until one of us came out to get them. If we watched from the living room window, the hawk would be joined before long by several others. I soon discovered that they were flying in from all sorts of different directions at once to land on the fence and help stare at the ravens' box. But what was astonishing was that they arrived from places totally out of sight of one another.
I have carefully watched them assemble in this manner better than twenty times. Without calls of any sort, how could they ever coordinate such a thing? The simplest explanation would be that they scatter widely to scour the countryside and use ESP to converge upon game. I have no proof whatsoever of their using ESP, but it certainly requires a vastly more complicated explanation to describe how they might manage this without ESP.
I also have watched several detailed films which documented prides of lions hunting wildebeest. I grew up driving cattle out in the open, and the striking thing to me about the lions on film is how very much their maneuvers resemble what drovers do, handling cattle. Most of a drover's work is indeed independent of other drovers, but there is inescapably calling back and forth to make certain that a given cow is turned before she gets away. Lions don't call back and forth during their hunt. If they ever had so much as our feeble ESP ability in the distant past, I would think that Nature might just select to enhance it for the sake of their survival, wouldn't you?  
Tom Phipps

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Tricks and Treats Part 2

ACEO - Halloween 3
Halloween Tricks and Treats
Part 2
BY: Carol Marrs Phipps
Illustrated By: Lana Dobbins-Cramer

Benny laughed and sailed up the walk to the neat brick front stoop and the cheerily decorated house before them. It even had fake spider webs all over the bushes near the house and a neat witch decoration on the front door. Benny rang the doorbell and a moment later the boys heard an odd pitter patter coming across the floor inside the house. A few moments later the screen door creaked open a crack and Josh and Benny peered inside, somewhat confused that they at first saw no one and didn’t know why the door had come open. Suddenly, Josh felt something tap on the top of his shoe and looked down to see a disembodied hand motioning him inside. His first reaction was to jerk his foot away from the little horror and get the hell out of there, but Benny was giggling. Josh looked inside again and saw a young boy, Benny’s age, dressed like Count Dracula, himself, remote control in hand, coming towards the door. Beside the little vampire was a beautiful girl, with long, blonde hair, dressed up like Sleeping Beauty. He was sure she had to be close to his own age. Benny’s party shows promise, he thought as their hosts stopped at the door to greet them and bid them enter.
***
The party was amazing and both Josh and Benny were having the time of their lives. The costumes were the most realistic either boy had ever seen. The beautiful teenage girl turned out to be Mindy Cates. “Moving back to this very spot and even having this party was my idea,” she explained to Josh. “Well, and my therapist’s, too. He felt that I must confront what had happened to me. You know, that was ten years ago on Halloween night on this very spot,” she confided. “The doctors hope that I might finally free myself of my horrible nightmares of what happened that night.”
 It seemed a bit extreme to Josh, but hey, what did he know about psychology? Soon he found himself dancing to crazy Halloween tunes like The Monster Mash and having the time of his life. When Michael Jackson’s Thriller began to blare from the CD player the partiers got into place and began an incredible imitation of what the boys had both seen Jackson and his incredible dancers do in their music video. To Josh’s surprise, they pulled him into it.  He was having such a riot he never even noticed when Mindy, Damon and Benny disappeared from the room.
ACEO - Halloween 4 The Pumpkin Thief
Mindy and Damon led Benny to a quiet little room down a long hall that was completely empty save for three chairs. Mindy indicated he should sit with a wave of her hand. Once he had complied she and Damon took the other two chairs.
“So,” Benny said after a moment, “is this some kind of game?”
“No,” Mindy said, sharing a quick look with Damon, “this is quite real and quite serious, Benny. You see, Damon and I want to help you...if you will let us?”
“Help me? I don’t get it. Help me what?”
“Heal your body and your sad heart,” Mindy replied in almost a whisper.
Benny’s eyes widened. “How? The doctors said it will take years of surgery...and even then, I won’t be the same as I was before the accident.”
Mindy chewed her bottom lip briefly and studied Benny’s face. “Look...you’ve nothing to be afraid of and this is all...complicated. So, I’m going to ask you to just trust me and do what I ask. I promise I won’t hurt you and when it is over, you will look exactly as you did before your accident...if that is what you want?”
Benny sat back in his chair and looked questioningly at Damon, who nodded his reassurance. “OK,” he replied. “What do I have to do?”
“Close your eyes tight and keep them shut, no matter what, until I tell you to open them,” Mindy instructed. “Will you do that?”
“All right,” Benny said after one more quick glance at Damon. Then he squeezed shut his eyes and waited. A moment later he felt something quite cool, but very soft, brush across his neck, and pause there.
“You can open your eyes now, “ Mindy said in what seemed to Benny to be only a few seconds later. “All done.”
Benny blinked. “That’s it? Now I’m magically transformed into my old self?”
“Yeah, all transformed...only, we’ll have to do this again every year on Halloween until you become eighteen. Then...you decide if you want your healing to remain permanently, or return to what you were before I...helped you,” Mindy said.
Benny frowned. “I’m confused. What exactly did you do and how do I even know that you did anything?”
Damon jumped up and hurried over to a door on the far wall and jerked it open, revealing a full length mirror attached to the backside of what Benny could now see was a closet door. “Come take a look,” he invited.
Benny strode quickly to the door and gasped when he saw his flawless reflection. Then he reached up in wonder and felt his now baby, smooth skin. Tears of joy and gratitude sprang into his eyes. “But...how?” he asked as he turned back to Mindy, who had come over to stand by him and Damon.
“I...shared my regenerative powers with you,” she said, “but when you become 18 you will have to either become fully like me or become as you were.”
Benny reached slowly up and touched the place on his neck where he had felt that cold, soft touch. Mindy nodded at the realization she saw in the young boy’s eyes. “Yes, Benny, I am a vampire. But you are not...yet...as I am. I will come to you every All Hallows Eve until your appointed time. No matter where you go, I will find you. But the final choice will be yours. Do you understand?”
Benny glanced at his image in the mirror once more then back at Mindy and nodded.
“Good, then we should return to the party, I expect it is nearly over and you and Josh must return to your lives while Damon, I, and our friends return to ours. You will not remember how you were transformed this night, until we meet again, next Halloween. That is both for your own protection and ours,” she said. Then she led him back to the party that did, indeed, come to a conclusion, almost as soon as they re-entered it.
Time somehow seemed to stretch and then shrink and become all fuzzy. The next thing Benny knew he and Josh were standing back in their own kitchen and their Mom was coming through the kitchen door.
“Hi guys!” Jean said breezing into the kitchen, “how come you’re both still up? You didn’t just get here, did you?” she asked as her eyes narrowed and her gaze darted to the bold-faced kitchen clock. It clearly read 12:15. She placed her hands on her hips and turned back to wait for a reply from her sons. Suddenly she gasped and nearly fainted as she finally got a clear look at Benny’s no-longer ruined face. She stared questioningly at Josh, who shrugged and shook his head. Benny just beamed and threw himself into his Mother’s arms.
ACEO - Pumpkin Patch & Wagon 1


The next morning, Jean packed her two sons into the car and drove to 666 Mockingbird Lane, determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious healing of her precious young son and also to thank whoever had been responsible for this amazing miracle. The family piled quickly from the car the moment Jean turned off the ignition and hurried to the narrow sidewalk between the tall hedge...and stared in amazement at the empty lot beyond.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Razzmorten Helps Lay Plans

Dave Sheldrake Photographer A3 Art

"King Neron's message globe is stunning," said Captain Bernard from under his bushy brow as he tossed a wide-eyed look at Razzmorten. "I've heard tell, but I've never before seen the like."
Razzmorten gave a polite but sober nod.
"This is bad news for the Elves," said Bernard as he began pacing about the room, "I mean, this is plain bad news altogether. There'll be a lot more Elves die over this, sure
enough, but I can think of two things right now which are bad for us. Oilean Gairdin and
Jutland may be all Elves, but it's on us. They're part of Niarg, so if Spitemorta and
Demonica sent the trolls in there, they've just attacked us. And the other thing is, by
doing so they look like they could very well be trying to get us to divide our army in order
to make it easy for them to attack Niarg proper." He paused to look at Minuet, who was
studying him keenly, smiling in a way that seemed to be covering up a smoldering flame.
Razzmorten was not letting on. Minuet ran the flat of her hand over the table top, then
looked up, ready to hear more.
"I'm sure that King Hebraun would have the same thing to say," he said as he shifted the hilt of his saber and resumed pacing. "It is obvious, after all. And he'd waste no time sending out a strike force, particularly if Prince Lukus and his family are having to flee..."
"So is it your opinion then, Captain," said Razzmorten, "that Spitemorta and Demonica are indeed doing this in order to strike Niarg?"
"Well sir, everything certainly looks that way. I'd even say so beyond any doubt whatsoever, except that I simply can't imagine what they're going to use for an army. My
word! We slew well neigh thirteen thousand of them at Ashmore, and you said yourself,
my Queen," he said, turning to her with a nod, "that there was narrowly a man between
six 'n' ten and sixty to be seen out and about when you scryed Goll."
220px-Woman_redhead_natural_portrait_1"Yes," said Minuet, standing up at once with a slap of the table top to begin pacing her own tight circle beside the one Bernard had been following. "It seems obvious that you are indeed onto something, Captain, and I can certainly guess what they're going to use as an army. We may have slain theirs, but we have not done a single thing to cripple them magically. If we send troops to aid Oilean Gairdin, she's very likely to make a magical strike against Niarg."
"Oh, they could be all set to launch a magical attack if we send aid to the Elves," said Razzmorten with a screech of his chair on the stone floor, "and it sure seems like they'd have to be, particularly if we're thinking in terms of armies, but..."
John Dee sm"'If we're thinking in terms of armies?' What else would we possibly be thinking in terms of?" said Minuet. "What better time would there be for a magical strike against Niarg than when we have sent away a substantial part of our army?"
"Oh, there would indeed be no better time if Goll were actually using an army," he said as he removed his spectacles and fogged their lenses with his breath. "But if they wanted to cripple Niarg with a magical strike, they would want to destroy as much of our army as they could with one blow, so they'd want us all right here."
"But why wouldn't they want to get us and the Elves together when we went to their aid?" said Minuet as she took a seat next to him.
"Because it would leave us able to launch a retaliatory strike with the troops which stayed here," boomed Bernard as he found the chair across from the two of them and sat with a rattle of chain mail.
"Then we need to be moving!" said Minuet with a fiery tone.
Razzmorten nodded and looked over his spectacles at Bernard.
"I'll call the troops and we'll be underway before first light," he said with a decisive nod, slapping the table with his gauntlet as he rose and tramped out the door.
Ch. 12, The Burgeoning
The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle








Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Cover Reveal for Heart of the Staff: Complete Series

Heart of the Staff Complete Series Box (1)
We are excited to reveal our fabulous new cover, designed by our amazing graphic artist, Marija Vilotijevic, for our Heart of the Staff: Complete Series.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tandem Bicycle as a Writing Tool


When I was really little, my mom told me that somewhere there was a little girl who was going to be my wife. When I was fifteen, I got carried away and drew her. Years later when I met Carol, I had this eerie feeling that I already knew her.
We were married at once. When I was helping her move her things in, I was stopped short by the sight of a photograph. "Who on earth is that?" I said.
"Why that's me, when I was a senior in high school," she said, looking puzzled.
"Well, the reason for my stupid remark is that the picture happens to be the very drawing I made once of the girl of my dreams, only it's a photograph!"
We  commemorated our wedding by buying the tandem bicycle which we still ride in the morning on the days when we do our best writing. Some things do indeed work better together than separate, don't you think?
 Tom Phipps

Friday, September 11, 2015

What I Should have Told the Lady

Chihuahua-driving
When I came out of the grocery store with three gallons of milk and was standing beside the car fumbling with my keys, a woman hailed me. "I just hate it when people do that!" she called out as she walked by.
"What?" I said, setting down the milk.
"Leaving a poor little dog locked up to die in a hot car, like that!"
"Well, better the dog than some little kid, maybe..." I said.
"No it isn't!" she huffed, pausing long enough to plant her fists on her hips. "At least a child can talk!" And with that, she stumped around the corner and vanished.
"My!" I thought as I looked down the curb at the Chihuahua, standing at the wheel of the next car, not even panting. It must've come whilst I was inside, paying for my milk. I'll bet you money that anyone who loves his dog enough to be driving around with it would take it inside the grocery store if only he were allowed to. And you know very well that he was doing his best to hurry right back out to it.
One always thinks of these things too late, but after she was long gone, it occurred to me that I should have said: "Shame on you ma'am! Where's your humanity? Where's your love and trust of your neighbors?"
chihuahua_car_ax
Tom Phipps

Friday, September 4, 2015

Hubba Hubba Vs the Stinky Beefy Boy

Quilt Stone Mountain NC SP 4021The stinky beefy boy slowed to a walk with a skip and happily patted his game bag full of the-brixton-ona-bags-2-560x379Hubba Hubba. Whistling a giddy tune fit for the tone deaf, he left the path through a gap in the hedge to cut across a freshly ploughed field. Chirp and Squeak followed 'round the 5469802698_278de1b2e3_zoutside in the tops of trees grown up in the hedge. The boy scampered through new oats, a meadow and a fresh cow pile, pausing to rinse his feet in a gurgling creek before dashing triumphantly across an orchard to a fiery haired woman and two boys, hoeing in a broad vegetable garden.
"Mom!" hollered the stinky boy as she bent to pull a weed. "Get wood on the fire! I bagged fresh meat for supper!"
She stood up, brushing the dirt from her skirts and hands.504_slingrocks
"Look Mom! I got him with my sling! I knocked 'im clean out of the air! I'm gettin' good, aye?"
"I'll say Frankin," she said, peering into his bag. "I've been watching you get better day by day. This is game to remember, all right, particularly when you may go the rest of your life and not get another on the wing like that."
images (14)"So all you think is I just got lucky, isn't hit?"
"Well Frankin, someone without your sharp eye would certainly have an empty bag right now..."
"Ha!" he crowed with a leap. "I'm really somethin' with my sling, and you know it."
nVrhp1e"I've just hung the tea-kettle over the fire," she said, ruffling up his hair. "You could wash up for a nice cup o' tea before you dress your bird, if you don't dally."
Frankin raced to the back door, hung Hubba Hubba on the latch and wheeled 'round to go to the well in time to find his little brothers following. "Hey Poopkink!" he snarled. "If you and Poopdink have to sneak along behind me, don't you dare touch the game bag."
***
"Help!" cawed Hubba Hubba, coming to in total blackness. "I'm dead again! I can't see!" He hysterically thrashed and flogged his wings against the insides of the cramped box thetver_angry-crow_7219y had him in, pausing to go light in the head, gasping for want of air.
Someone heard his cries and threw open the box. "Kawk!" he cried as four chubby hands crowded in after him. "Have some respect! Can't you idiots tell I'm wounded here?"
Both boys squealed and yanked back, dropping the lid on Hubba Hubba.
Bartolomé_Esteban_Perez_Murillo_004
"Hey! I object! This is abuse! Here I am, smashed in the head..."
"Hit does talk!" they cried in wide-eyed chorus.
"You got it!" shouted Hubba Hubba. "And do you ones listen? Here I am smashed in the head, some drooling gnoff strangles me 'till I black out, maybe die, and here you ones whack me in the head again... Is this the stinkin' Pit, or what? Well?"
Suddenly they lunged at the box. Hubba Hubba exploded into frantic flight about the room, landing on a quilting frame drawn up by twine to the overhead beams. "All right," he rattled. "At least I can see this is some rotten old kitchen, somewhere, and not the Pit. And whatever you two are, I am not some kind of 'it!' I'm one right proud crow and I'm traveling with a young man who ought to here directly to cut off your stinkin' heads for doing this to me...!"
"Hey you little gwrteithiau!" yelled Frankin as he threw open the door. "What'd I tell you about my game bag? And why weren't you out helping us drive in the six sheep which just now got out in the garden? Which one of you left the gate open anyway...?"
"It's loose!" cried Kink.primitive-vintage-wood-box-original-old-paper-fruit-crate-label-Placerville-Maid-Laurel-Leaf-Farm-item-no-b912117-7
"Close the door!" cried Dink.
"I am not an 'it,'" rattled Hubba Hubba.
"Taran!" shouted Frankin as he slammed the door and began glancing about. "So you not only let the sheep out, you got into my bag and turned the crow loose! If he gets clean away, you'll not only be cachu, images (1)I'll find something really disgusting and make you each eat its cachu!"
"He's right over your head," said Dink.
Frankin wheeled 'round and looked up. "Mom!" he bellowed, "Come in here and see what they did now!" He lunged and missed Hubba Hubba, whacking the quilting frame madly about on the ends of its short twines.
"Kawk!" cried Hubba Hubba, as he crouched to hang on3021358_1_l (1)
Frankin leaped again, snapping a twine and knocking down the frame to smash a 17-cottage-cheesehuge crock of soupy cottage cheese onto the floor.
"You bloated idiot!" cawed Hubba Hubba, springing into flight about the room. He spied a board nailed across the timbers and landed on that with his back to the ceiling. "You stinking armpit maggot..."
"So you're some kind of magic crow, aye?" he said, taking out his sling. "Well it doesn't matter, bird-o. You'll never get out of this room, 'cause when I knock you down, I'm goin' 'o jerk your ugly head out o' your shoulders!"
"No!" cried Kink and Dink together.
"Frankin!" cried their mom as she stepped in the door to go apoplectically wide eyed. "My stars! That's fifteen gallons of cottage cheese, all over!"
"They did it!" wailed Frankin. "They got into my bag when I told them not to and turned loose the crow. I've got to kill it quick..."
"No!" cried Dink. "Hit's magic...!"
"Hit talks!" cried Kink.
"And they've gotten windy as kites in the process, too, I see. Well you two, what have I told you about making up things...?"
"But it's true!" wailed Kink. "Frankin knows it, too!"images
"I think you two need to take this stack of bowls and scoop up as much clean cheese as you can get off the floor for your next several meals. Then, you need to mop up every bit of what's left."
"But we aren't making it up!" wailed Dink, as his mom thrust a stack of bowls into his arms and steered him toward the slumping mound of cheese and crock chards.
"Now, freak bird, hit's your turn," said Frankin, fitting a stone into his sling.
"Kawk!" cried Hubba Hubba. "Lady, lady! Please listen to your little fellows!"
"That's not the least bit amusing, Frankin," she said, wheeling 'round to glare at him.
"But I didn't..."
"No, no, no, no!" cawed Hubba Hubba. "I did! I'm not some game animal to be beaned and chucked in the kettle. Hey! I've got brains here."
"Mercy!" she gasped. "You do talk!"
"Hit's a trick, Mom, said Frankin.
"Right. So where's the minstrel puppeteer?"
"Come on, Mom! Somebody taught him to talk..."
crow"Absolutely!" rattled Hubba Hubba. "Just like they did you, only I didn't need to be taught how to think, and you've yet to manage."
"Don't touch the bird," she said, snatching away his sling. "Do not harm him, understand?"
"But he'll get away!"
"We're going to be real good to him 'till we figure him out," she said. "Now go fetch me a good sized box to put him in, and make sure there are a right smart amount of air holes in it."
"Air holes?" cried Hubba Hubba. "What kind of 'real good' to me is that? No wonder you The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindlehaven't taught maggot boy here how to think, yet! And I don't care what he brings back, you're going to have to come up here and get me!"



Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps