Fixing Genius Option Aa: Try the Cable

Welcome to the conclusion of the adventure! Thank you to everyone who participated. I hope you enjoy=)

Fixing Genius Option Aa: Try the Cable

Using the mice will probably get them all killed and although they’re annoying when they wake you in the night, you don’t exactly have a death wish for them.

And breaking the ceiling seems extreme.

So you point at the cable, “lets try more cable.”

Edwin nods vigorously and snaps his fingers at his colleagues.

With a jump, five of them race to the platform and release the lever. The platform whooshes away and you hear a collective “weeeeee” as they disappear.

It’s moments later that you hear another “weeeee” and the five Scholars reappear on the lift huffing for breath. You don’t know how they made it so fast but you haven’t the time to ask as another bolt of lightening sends the scope rocking on its base. You’re not sure you’d get an answer anyway.

The Scholars bring over a gigantic coil of cable.

You sigh, realizing your chances of this working are slim and the likelihood of you getting the stuffing shocked out of you is extremely high.

“Okay,” you say, “lets ground the cable to the ground outside, can we run it out a window?”

The Scholars all look at each other and then at their toes like a class full of students reluctant to be picked.

You suppress the urge to growl.

“I saw a window on the lift ride up,” you say, “if you have to break it, do so, then run the cable out until it hits the ground.”

You toss one end to a short man to your right.

He yelps but catches it and stares at it like it’s a snake.

“Now!” you shout and he jumps toward the lift with two other Scholars following behind.

Good.

“Do we have something to insulate the cable with?”

Edwin shrugs.

You grab him by the shoulders and shake him. The contact sends an odd cold feeling through your hands but you ignore it. “We don’t have time for you to be evasive. Go get whatever you have that will insulate! Now!”

Edwin hops toward the lift platform and you resist the urge to kick him.

He comes back a bit later with some type of rubbery blanket.

Throwing it over the cable running from the roof, you allow yourself a sigh.

The small Scholar who you charged with grounding the second cable scurries back to you. He hands you the free end and gives you a wide grin.

Ugh! Creepy.

“Everyone stand back.”

What you have in mind isn’t exactly a clean way to ground the cable, but you don’t have a lot of time, so you’re willing to try it.

All the Scholars back against the wall.

You lay the free end of the cable over the rubber blanket.

One, two, three…

You pull the blanket out from between the cables, rolling the top one into contact with the charged one beneath and duck out of the way.

Your hair stands on end.

Holding your breath, you wait.

Cheering makes you look up. The Scholars have their hands raised into the air and they’re shooting static back and forth from their hands like it’s a ball.

Relief laced with apprehension settles in your stomach. The crazy Scholars have their static back. Glancing at the scope confirms it’s calmed to mahogany from ruby red.

You scrub your face with your hands, allowing your stress to drain but as you rub your face, an odd tingling covers your head. You pull away your hands only to find the hair on your arms standing up and light sparks tracing your finger tips.

Oh daft.

The static was supercharged. The extra had to go somewhere.

You stuff your hands in your pockets as Edwin comes to hug you. Awkwardly accepting the embrace, you back away with a slight bow.

“I would not suggest trying that again,” you caution. “Now, thankfully our attempt to diffuse the situation worked. I’ll bid you goodnight.”

“Oh, yes, yes.” Edwin agrees and leads you out.

As you walk away, you look down to find a mouse walking beside you. It follows you home and curls up on the rug in front of your hearth.

Interesting. You’ve now gained sticky static and a pet mouse that can teleport.

Staring at your hands, you shudder. Now you just need to figure out how to handle the static. With a glance at your bed, you grimace. The bed’s in pieces from when the static shot from you to it. Learning to handle the static could take a lot of time. But you’re not willing to go to the Scholars for answers. You’ll just have to figure it out as you go.

The End

Blessings and I hope you have a wonderful week,

Jennifer

Fixing Genius Option A: Offer to Help the Scholars

I think this is the first time I’ve had a straight up tie in the voting…I’ve never figured out how to handle a tie. So for this time, I’m posting the option that hasn’t already been explored. The first time this story was run, readers asked the mouse for advise. So this time we’ll go with the other option and offer to help.

If readers have any suggestions for handling ties, I’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy =)

Fixing Genius Option A: Offer to Help the Scholars

You’ve suspected before but now you’re absolutely certain. The Scholars are insane. They’re smartish magicians with no small amount of something off in the head.

Great.

But if you refuse to help, they’ll probably destroy the mansion and the town of Mandril in the process.

“All right,” you say, “I promise not to tell anyone about what I see here.”

The Scholars start bouncing on their toes and they all grin at you. It’s kinda creepy.

“So what kind of ideas do you have to pull the static from the scope?”

Thankfully your question pulls their attention from grinning at you and they all huddle together to discuss. The mouse takes the opportunity to release its hold on your sock and skitter across the floor to disappear into a small hole in the marble wall.

Thanks for abandoning me!

Like it heard you, it peeks back out, you hear a high pitched twittering and then it disappears again.

“Here’s our thoughts,” Edwin says.

You raise a brow and wait for him to continue.

He glances nervously back at his colleagues but then squares his shoulders.

“Use extra cable to pull the charge from the scope to the ground,” he ticks the first option off on his index finger, “use the mice to disconnect the scope from the cable,” second finger ticked off, “or…”

A crack of lightening makes everyone jump. The vibrant tendrils of electricity collide into a single bright stream connected to the rods on the roof. It races through the cables and into the scope, which turns from its usual mahogany color to a bright ruby red.

You know little about Massidion but what you do know is it explodes if overloaded. Stories involving the substance almost always end with it going boom. Big boom.

“Or?” you prompt Edwin.

He frowns.

“What’s the third option?”

“Oh, break the ceiling and flood the room for the charge to release into the water.” He grins. You could count his teeth if you wanted to.

“Really?”

“Yup. Those are the options we can think of.”

“And what about your sticky static?”

There’s a yelp and you look over to see one of the other Scholars shucking his apron off. The apron turns to ash on the floor and the man looks at the scope like it made him touch it.

Brilliant Scholar.

“We think when the charge dissipates, the static’ll return to us.”

You don’t point out the problems in such an assumption. If they loose their sticky static, it’s their own fault.

Another snap of lightening draws your attention. The scope rocks on its base from the force of the charge.

“Okay,” you say, “We’re running out of time.”

Do you say…

Aa. You’ll try the cable?

Ab. You’ll have the mice help?

or

Ac. You’ll break the ceiling?

Blessings,

Jennifer

(Please post a comment with your choice. Heads up, after feedback, one vote per comment per day please but comment as much as you like=) This makes counting votes easier. Voting will end at 8pm Mountain Time Monday. Tuesday I’ll post whichever option gets the most votes and we’ll see where the adventure finishes!)

Fixing Genius 2

Of all the adventures I’ve written so far, this was one of the most fun to write. I just had to rerun it to see how readers would choose for a second time.

Welcome to the adventure. I hope you enjoy=)

Fixing Genius

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

The walkway is stone, multicolored but still dull due to the overcast sky. The deep gray clouds threaten rain in torrential amounts but they haven’t opened the floodgates yet.

You lengthen your strides, just waiting to feel the first splatters of water on the back of your neck.

Of course you were summoned at the worst time of year to travel. The Scholars never take such ‘minor’ details into consideration when they need repairs. All they care about is that their precious equipment works, now!

But the Scholars won’t suffer a repairperson to live in their blessed mansion. Oh no, it would taint their studies.

So you and the few others who know anything about the equipment live down the coast about 20 miles away in the town of Mandril.

When the Scholars need repairs, they send a mouse. Any time of day.

You woke about midnight with the tiny messenger sitting on your stomach twittering at you. The mice always come to you when they’re sent at night. They know you’re the only one who doesn’t threaten to kick or cook them.

Marrick, another repairperson, kicks the poor creatures any chance he gets.

And Adrianna grabs them by the tail and holds them over steaming pots just so they know she’s not pleased.

Your irritation at being woken shows but you never take it out on the messenger. No matter how tempting it might be.

Instead, you take your time collecting your tools and donning warm clothes.

Then you meander to the mansion, knowing the Scholars will be in a frenzy because it’s almost been two days since their piece of equipment broke.

The mouse at your feet skitters faster as wet drops splatter the stone.

You agree. Irritating the Scholars isn’t worth getting soaking wet. It’s not like the Scholars will offer you dry clothing.

To your right the ocean swells with white caps just before breaking on the beach. It knows a storm’s in the works.

Luckily the mansion sits on a cliff and rarely do the waves reach its walls.

You hike up the walk as it rises toward the mansion. The ocean below you continues to roar as the wind kicks up.

The mansion rises before you, a great marble structure that stands out starkly white against the drab background. It’s circular with narrow slots for windows. Light shines through some of the slots in an unorganized pattern.

At least some of the Scholars are awake.

Hopefully one of them is inclined to answer the door.

Banging the knocker, a hand holding a gong, you wait and your mouse guide snuggles under your left pant leg out of the rain. His whiskers tickle your ankle and you hold in a shiver, reminding yourself the little creature, or one of its brothers, has helped you in the past.

The door creaks open to show a narrow face with a long nose.

It’s Scholar Edwin. You think. The Scholars don’t usually give out their names but you’ve picked up a few.

Edwin steps back to allow you in. His gangly frame is covered with a chest to toe apron.

Part of the apron’s smoking.

You point to the spot and Edwin goes cross-eyed looking down at his chest.

He licks his fingers and tamps out the smolder.

“Darned scope,” he mutters.

“What needs fixing?” You ask before he disappears.

“Darned scope,” he mutters again and continues walking.

Maybe one of their magnifying glasses? You follow Edwin. He climbs up several flights of stairs and then walks to a platform against the wall.

He steps on and waits for you, giving you a look like your mother’s evil eye when you were young.

Okay, you step onto the platform and feel a tickle on your ankle. It’s the mouse, clinging to the top of your sock and quivering.

Edwin gives you an evil, mischievous grin and throws the lever to his side. You didn’t see it before because it was sunk into the wall behind the Scholar.

The platform whooshes and your stomach sinks out the bottom.

Edwin cackles as you escalate up the wall. Up and up and up with cackling laughter the whole way until—thud—the platform stops in the room just below the mansion’s roof

You know this because the entire ceiling’s glass and the rain’s crashing into it with fury.

Edwin points to a large machine in the center of the room. A round thing with glass at either end, one side huge, the other small enough for an eye.

This isn’t just any scope. This is the Telescope. Pride of the mansion. Made of Massidion, an extremely rare material rumored to hold magical properties. The fact that the scope sits in a Scholarly mansion is a bit of irony. Scholars always scoff at magic, although, now that you think about it, you’ve never heard these Scholars say a word one way or another.

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

Several Scholars stand around it holding their chins and muttering. One holds out a tentative finger and the contact with the scope zaps him.

He yelps and jumps back, part of him smoldering. Judging from his apron, this wasn’t his first time touching the thing.

In fact, all of the Scholars bear black dots all over their clothes.

The best and brightest—don’t come to the mansion but somehow these men and women still surprise the academic community year after year with their discoveries.

How is beyond you.

As you approach, your get a few “finallys” and “about times” but the Scholars step back.

“What happened?” You ask.

They all look at their toes.

“Can’t fix it if I don’t know,” you push.

It’s Edwin who steps forward.

“Struck by lightening,” he confesses.

“How?”

The telescope’s covered and grounded. It shouldn’t even be holding a charge, for that matter.

They all point to a large cable running across the floor and up the wall. It leads to several large metal poles on the roof.

They meant to strike it with lightening. They’d rigged it!

“It’s holding a charge. What’d you do to it?” You ask.

They all give you suspicious looks.

You simply wait. They’re always like this when you need more information.

Finally Edwin mutters, “Sticky Static.”

“What?”

Edwin swallows and then holds out his hands. “The charge comes from us. We all infused the scope with it.”

You eye them all, a bit apprehensive. Of all the times you’ve been to the mansion, you’ve heard nothing like this. The only people who claim to channel charges were Magicians. Were these people Scholars and Magicians?

“Sticky Static,” Edwin says again and points at the scope. “Massidion will hold any sort of magic. We gave it our magic.”

They are Magicians! Or so they claim.

“In heavens name, why?”

“Stronger charge,” Edwin says, his eyes wild. “Couldn’t electrocute ourselves, so we moved the Static to the Massidion. Now we can’t get it back.”

You’re jaw drops. They want more power!

“What do you mean?”

Another Scholar touches the scope and yelps. “It pulls more charge from us!” he exclaims.

“And what do you expect me to do?” you ask.

They glance at each other and then at their toes.

“Get the static out of the scope,” one mutters, you’re not sure which.

“How?”

“We’ve a few ideas but…” he leans in and whispers, “you can’t tell anyone what you see.”

You feel the mouse, still clinging to your sock, start to shake.

Do you…

A. Offer to help them?

B. Refuse?

or

C. Consult the mouse?

Blessings,

Jennifer

(Please post a comment with your choice. Heads up, after feedback, one vote per comment per day please but comment as much as you like=) This makes counting votes easier. Voting will end at 8pm Mountain Time Wednesday. Thursday I’ll post whichever option gets the most votes and we’ll see where the adventure goes!)

Stalking Prey Part Two

Welcome to Thursday and the conclusion of Stalking Prey. Some stories flow nicely and some seem like pulling teeth while writing. This one, honestly, was a bit like pulling teeth. So although I’ve posted the story, I feel it could definitely use some work…perhaps in foreshadowing, characterization, maybe in the world building itself. Moyra doesn’t feel very fleshed out to me. So I would welcome any suggestions or comments you might have.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy and thank you for stopping by =)

Stalking Prey Part Two

“I…” Moyra hesitated. Was she imagining things?

Then, remembering the smell, she pushed on and explained her unease.

“Lion, eh? All you got is that knife?” Master Ryan pointed a large hand at the hilt she grasped above her belt.

“It’s all I brought,” she admitted with a sheepish grimace.

“Well, that won’t do, let me get Layin’s bow and long knife.”

Moyra opened her mouth to protest but he was out of the room before she could speak up.

Layin was Master Ryan’s daughter but Moyra had never met her since they were several years apart in age. She had some misgivings about borrowing from a girl she’d never spoken to.

Maybe she could buy a better weapon from Master Ryan instead of buying chickens today. The chickens could wait. With that idea in mind, she moved to follow where the large man disappeared.

She ended up traversing the shop into the house behind and exiting through the back door into the yard where Master Ryan had several fires going to smoke meat.

Stacks of wood lined the yard. By one of these stood a slim girl chopping wood. Although she was slim, she was five years Moyra’s senior.

Moyra hesitated. This was the first time she’d seen Layin up close. Considering her father, she was very slight but she had his dark, curly hair.

The girl glanced up as the door swung shut and paused.

Moyra smiled but the expression froze on her lips.

Tawny fur with rounded ears moved on the stack of wood behind Layin.

Sound stuck in Moyra’s throat. A squeak escaped but it wasn’t loud enough to reach the girl.

The cat’s muscles bunched.

Where was Master Ryan? Moyra couldn’t place him but it was too late for him to be of help.

Layin sensed the danger. She started to turn with the axe half raised just as the lion leapt from its perch.

The stack of wood wobbled under the force exerted from the feline’s rear legs. Several pieces fell with soft thuds.

Moyra stepped forward, sound finally leaving her throat. “Down!”

Layin dropped with the axe swinging over her in a defensive ark as Moyra pulled her knife.

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

It didn’t feel inadequate now. It didn’t register that all she held was a six-inch blade. It felt solid, the wooden hilt sliding through her palm in a move she’d practiced for fun millions of times. The flat of the blade slid into her waiting fingers. Moyra stepped again, rocking forward at the same time the knife left her hand.

The knife made a soft hissing sound like steam escaping a kettle before it boiled. Neck out stretched and jaws open, the cat’s head jerked as the knife slid home into its glittering eye.

Layin cried out. Her axe narrowly missed the fur on the lion’s belly. With a thud, axe and cat hit the ground with the girl berried beneath.

Moyra’s muscles wouldn’t move. Hearing the door behind her, she glanced back to find Master Ryan standing there, mouth and eyes wide while he held a bow and long knife in his hands.

“Layin!” he dropped everything to rush to his daughter.

Moyra held back, afraid of what he’d find.

Shoving the large cat off his daughter, Master Ryan flinched back as the cat jerked. It wasn’t alive though. Morya stared at the one good, open eye. There was no life in that glassy gaze.

Someone coughed and Morya jumped, relief flooding through her as Layin sat up. Master Ryan enveloped her in a hug. He looked at Moyra over the girl’s curly hair.

“I believe you can have chickens free for the rest of your life,” he announced.

Morya chuckled and collapsed to the ground, her muscles finally relaxing. At least she could go home without worrying now.

The End

Blessings,

Jennifer

Stalking Prey

Welcome to a new week=) The idea for this story came to me from my six-year-old niece. Gotta love the creative mind of a child.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy.

Stalking Prey

No sound warned her. Nothing moved to catch her eye or snapped a twig to reach her ears. But the trees were hushed. The squirrels had fallen still and the birds fled to the sky, leaving only the wind to rustle half dead leaves.

Tension built a shiver between Moyra’s shoulder blades. She gripped the hilt of her knife in her sweaty palm as she scanned the woods, trying to place the predator that stalked her.

It could be a bear. They had yet to retreat to hibernation and she’d seen one scruffy male just two days previous. But she doubted it. Bears didn’t usually stalk prey.

A musky odor, heady and thick, wafted on the wind. Moyra’s shiver traveled her spine.

Mountain lion. She’d seen a few in her time. Old Tyner even had the skin of one that he wore across his shoulders with the ears sitting on one shoulder like the round tufts could still hear. She’d stared at that pelt for hours listening to the old man spin tales.

But she’d never been close enough to smell one. Old Tyner’s description fit it perfectly though. The musk stuck in the nose like wood smoke and body odor.

Moyra gripped her knife until her knuckles felt close to popping. She hadn’t brought another weapon. The walk from the house to the butcher wasn’t far, and she hadn’t figured she’d need an actual weapon.

The short knife felt inadequate. It wouldn’t stop a lion, not by a long shot.

Moyra stopped scanning and moved forward with light, tense steps. Stories always said you only saw the lion when it was too late.

She wasn’t sure she believed it but there was no use wasting time looking for the feline when it was unlikely she’d find it.

The trail was clear with soggy dead leaves to deaden the sound of her steps. Moyra felt like a deer, ready to bolt but scared to trigger an attack.

The musky smell stayed strong in her sinuses the whole way to the butcher’s. Moyra couldn’t tell if it was simply imprinted in her nose or if the feline was pacing her. Knocking on the rough wooden door of the shop was a relief.

“Miss Moyra! Here for some chickens?”

“Yes, Sir,” Moyra answered Master Ryan as the thought of carrying squawking chickens home with a mountain lion made her shudder.

Master Ryan noticed.

“You don’t like chickens?”

“Oh, it’s not that.” Moyra glanced over her shoulder as she entered the shop.

“Something else?”

“I…” Moyra hesitated. Was she imagining things?

To Be Finished On Thursday

Blessings,

Jennifer

Briefcase Genie Option Aa2: Forwards

Hello everyone,

I feel compelled to point something out. This is the second time I’ve run this adventure but it’s been long enough that the group voting is mostly different. Even still, this adventure ran the exact same course as the first run. How curious.

Anyway, thanks everyone who participated and thank you Leslie Rohman for guest authoring this week.

If you’re just stopping by, click to the left under recent posts on Briefcase Genie, then option A, then Aa and then return here to see how the story ends!

Otherwise enjoy=)

Briefcase Genie Option Aa2. Forwards

Picking an option while the stars dance around you is one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. But you manage to whisper, “Forwards.” The stars disappear, and you find yourself surrounded by what appear to be aspen trees that are the size of redwoods. And they’re growing in what looks like the ruins of a large city.

The sun filters down gently through the light green leaves and the wind makes them flutter and whisper.

There’s not a soul in sight and you realize with a start that neither is the briefcase! You frantically search around but it’s nowhere to be found. You sit and try to wait for a while to see if it’ll appear, but patience has never been your strong suit. So you jump up and start picking your way through the ruins.

Photo courtesy of Arthur Rousseau with Hope for Haiti.

Photo courtesy of Arthur Rousseau with Hope for Haiti.

You walk out of what used to be the front door onto a street. This too has been overtaken by the trees. Large chunks of building lay strewn about everywhere. And the trees stretch as far as you can see in any direction.  You consider trying to climb one to get your bearings, but quickly discard the idea. They are all way too big around for climbing.

You notice smoke in the distance. Heading that way only makes sense, smoke usually means people!

After about an hour, you start to smell the smoke and it’s not too long after that that you hear voices.

As you step into the clearing where you’re pretty sure the smoke is coming from, you’re met by the business end of three compound bows held by three very scared looking twenty-something year olds.

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” You shout and put your hands up in a very non-threatening gesture.

They lower their weapons and start laughing as the youngest looking boy says, “Dude, it looks like we’ve got another case of the crazy here!”

You look down and realize you’re dressed in a pretty wild mixture of your once nice work clothes and souvenir type clothes from Belize. You chuckle along with them.

You take a glance around, now that there are not weapons in your face and see about 25 men, women and kids. The clearing must be man made for you can see the stumps of a few of the massive trees. There’s two very large log houses that look as if they were made from the aspen wood.

Most of the people congregate in a huddle on the other side of the fire, but four others; two men and two women invite you to sit with them and offer you a cup of water. You gulp it down gratefully and your eyes grow to the size of saucers as one who calls herself Misty starts to guess correctly where you’ve come from!

“You had a magical briefcase appear and offer you three options? And from the looks of it you chose hot before picking forwards and landing here?”

You nod and realize your mouth is hanging wide open.

“Can’t tell if you chose up or down for the first option though,” she muses.

“U…up,” you stammer.

One of the boys next to you slaps the other in the arm and says, “Pay up, Phil! I knew the next one would be an upper!” Phil passes something off to the boy with a groan.

Misty finishes her summary of your trip, “and when you got here, the case was gone?”

“You’re really freaking me out, how do you know all this?”

She smiles sadly at you. “I was the first one left here by the case, then came Phil, then Jesse, then Bev.” As she says each name she points to the people sitting next to you.

“The rest of them,” she nods her head at the people on the other side of the fire, “They’re from this time.”

“How long have you been stuck here?” you ask.

“I got here exactly one year ago and the rest have come every three months like clockwork.”

Phil and Jesse take over explaining at this point. They tell all about their various journeys with the briefcase and then proceed to tell the tale of what happened to this once great city.

Turns out, you are sitting in the remains of your very own Denver, Colorado. The year is only 5 years later than when you left.

About 3 years ago, a group of scientists were experimenting with a serum that would make trees grow bigger so they would produce more wood. It worked great on pines and spruces. But when they tried it on the aspens, the serum traveled through the root system and got out of their control.

The people here traveled as far as they could and never did make it out of the trees. From the other travelers they met they learned that most people left the country. All that remains are a few pockets of groups like this one.

“So are all you briefcase people from Denver too?” You ask and all their heads nod. “Why is it sending us here? What does it want? Any ideas on how to get back?” Your questions always pop out faster than you intend when you’re nervous.

Bev talks for the first time in a very soft voice, “We don’t know why here and now. And all of them,” She indicates the natives to this time, “most of them still don’t believe us, so we try to not talk about it too much and just be helpful around the camp to earn our keep.”

Phil grunts, “Bev here is sure the case has a plan and is comin’ back for us eventually.”

This is indeed a bit more adventure than you had bargained for, but hey, now you don’t have to worry about that dead-end job that you hated anymore… You take a deep breath and muster up all the bravery you have left to ask, “What projects you got happening now that I can help with?”

Leslie and her husband, Nick.

Leslie and her husband, Nick.

The End

Again thank you to Leslie Rohman who took on the challenge this week and wrote Briefcase Genie.

Blessings and have a wonderful weekend,

Jennifer

Briefcase Genie Option Aa: Hear the Next Two Options

Today we have the next part in the adventure of the Briefcase Genie. But shhh, don’t let the briefcase hear you say that!

If you missed the first two parts, click to the left under recent posts on Briefcase Genie and Briefcase Genie Option A. Then return here and vote for how you’d like to proceed but choose wisely, for there are many dangers in the world!

Enjoy.

Briefcase Genie Option Aa: Hear the Next Two Options

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

You lie on the sand and just watch the moon rise and creep across the sky for a while. As you do so you contemplate your options.

You’ve only a few dollars in your pocket, no credit cards (you did the freezing them in a block of ice thing a while ago…), and your bank account is almost empty, so getting home on your own sounds nigh on impossible. You hesitantly ask the briefcase, “Do you have two more options for me?”

“But of course.” It answers and then just sits there staring blankly at you.

“Well… Can I hear them?”

“Certainly. Hot or Cold?”

This is an easy decision. Living in Denver, Colorado with its beautiful mountains all around has given you plenty of cold days. Somewhere warm is the place for you!

“Hot, please,” you request.

“Excellent choice. Just close and re-open the case and you’ll find everything you need. Watch out for sand fleas.”

“Eeeeeww.” You say as you close it up. When you re-open it, there is no hologram, but there is a plane ticket, your very own passport with a stamp already in it from when you “entered” Thailand, a small pile of money and a can of mosquito repellant.

You wonder just for a moment if you’ll still have a job when you return home, but the sunrise sparkling up over the horizon drives the worrisome thought from your mind. What a spectacular sight!

After enjoying the sunrise, you get yourself to the airport. Turns out, getting a taxi is the same no matter where you go. But the drivers are a little more aggressive here.

At the airport, the tiny, little lady behind the ticket counter gives you a funny look which concerns you. Maybe the briefcase is messing with you. Maybe it’s not a real ticket. But everything checks out ok and she points you towards security where lines of people are already taking their shoes off. After you make it through the line, you stop at the restroom and one look in the mirror causes you to realize she was looking at you funny because of your hair! You have the worst helmet hair ever!

You’re still not even sure where you’re heading till you get to the gate and read Belize as the destination. Where is that? And how long will it take to get there?

Turns out it’s in Central America and it takes you a full 24 hours to get there. But the case somehow got you in first class so you sleep and eat in style and are very well rested when you arrive.

The next week that you spend in this little part of paradise is beyond awesome. You explore ancient Mayan ruins, and jungles full of the noisiest and most colorful birds. You relax on the beach, swim and get a little sunburned.

Your favorite part by far, though, has been scuba diving in Lighthouse Reef and the Great Blue Hole. The hole was a cave some thousands of years ago. But at some point the roof collapsed leaving an almost perfect circle about 1000 feet across. The scuba diving took you almost two full days to master, but it was so worth it! There’s still even stalactites at the bottom!

Your briefcase head hasn’t reappeared at all while you’ve been here. But that’s been perfectly fine with you.

You figure today’s probably the last day here ‘cause the money has almost run out. So after the traditional dinner of rice, beans and fried chicken, you head down the beach with the case for a stroll. You plan to lie on the beach, watch the stars again and see if the hologram will show up with your next options.

You pick a spot as far away from the lights of the resort as possible, spread your towel and stretch out. Ah! It’s still warm from the day. You dig your toes in and savor the softness of the sand. You open the case, but no luck yet.

The moon creeps slowly across the heavens, your eyes are getting droopy and you sigh with contentment.

And then you’re sure you’re dreaming ‘cause it looks like the stars are coalescing and shaping themselves to look like humans dancing. They dance closer and closer. Not any bigger than normal, still tiny twinkly stars, but close enough to touch.

You reach out and behind you you hear your voice say, “ I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

You jump up and the stars scatter like frightened butterflies. You stand there very still and they dance their way closer again. As they twirl around, you ask, “Why not touch them?”

“The only other time I’ve witnessed the Invitation of the Stars, the young girl who did touch became one of them. “

Just to make sure you aren’t dreaming, you pinch yourself. OUCH!

“This is real then?”

“Oh yes, and I’ve no idea if they’ll go away or not so we’d better give you the next options and get out of here.”

You just sigh in response. A star girl twirls by so close, you can feel the breeze of her passing.

“Yes, yes, we’d better hurry. Would you like forwards or backwards?”

So…

Aa1: Backwards

or

Aa2: Forwards

Thank you Leslie for this fun adventure! Check back Thursday to see how it all finishes.

Leslie and her husband, Nick.

Leslie and her husband, Nick.

Blessings,

Jennifer

(Please post a comment with your choice. Heads up, after feedback, one vote per comment per day please but comment as much as you like=) This makes counting votes easier. Voting will end at 8pm Mountain Time Wednesday. I’ll post whichever option gets the most votes on Thursday and we’ll see how the adventure ends!)