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Forums: Index > Writers' Workshop > Other People's Houses (New Alternate Version--Draft in Need of Review)


Other People's Houses (New Alternate Version--Draft in Need of Review)[]


Sequel to In the Old Street Market


Embedded in the magical region of Brittany is a hidden underworld that is covered in mist and muffled whispers. The website for the Brittany Travel Guide takes the risk of delving deeply into the spooky legends of haunted locations that have lured the curious and the daring to step foot on their cursed grounds. Ghosts from a long-forgotten past lurk in these ancient stones, whispering tales of sorrow and retaliation. The eerie beauty of Brittany enthralls those who dare to explore it, from the foreboding walls of Château de Brécéan, where ghosts dance through moonlit corridors, to the windswept shores of Plouha Beach, where mournful echoes from lost souls beneath its turbulent waves wash over the windswept shores. With each painstakingly recorded contact with spirits from the beyond, this mesmerizing travel guide unveils a realm where reality blends seamlessly with ethereal dimensions—a realm where darkness entwines with intrigue, captivating all those who have an appetite for mystique and marvel.

Nestled deep within the dense, foreboding forests of Yggdrasil lies the enigmatic Château des Chanterelles, an eerie 16th-century relic that has remained untouched and undisturbed for centuries. Its crumbling facade stands as a whisper of forgotten secrets, compelling countless curious souls to inquire about its history. Hushed whispers echo through the town, tales of malevolent spirits and inexplicable disappearances haunting the pristine area surrounding this desolate manor. Yet, despite its allure, the Château des Chanterelles remains largely unexplored and unvisited; a forbidden fruit that taunts investigators with its deadly mysteries. Its dark charm seems to repel even the most intrepid adventurers, who dare not test fate by stepping foot onto its decaying grounds. As if cloaked in an invisible shroud of fear and trepidation, no outsider has dared to unravel the labyrinthine corridors or decipher the cryptic symbols etched upon its ancient walls. The Château des Chanterelles appears destined to forever withhold its ghastly secrets from prying eyes, leaving only speculation and wonderment behind in its wake.


From Sam and Corby’s “The Dark Mysteries of Brittany’s Haunted Ruins/ S1E04, Oct. 32, 2013


Throughout my childhood, my family had lived between the two forests—the Yggdrasil Wood in the South West and the Swanwick Forest in the North East. I had only been in that portion of the Yggdrasil Wood four times and that was more than enough for me. Although I had never witnessed anything out of the ordinary there, I did find it odd that in this seemingly ideal habitat there was a scarcity of wildlife. Whereas in the Swanwick Forest, it wasn’t uncommon to see a lot of wildlife even in the nearby towns and villages. Another thing that bothered me was the eerie quiet of the place (no birds singing or animals rustling in the undergrowth, even hardly any wind or insects stirring).


Wendy Shelley, writer and research consultant in Bangor, Maine, April 5. 1974


It was like some major cataclysm had just taken place, wiping out the majority of animal life, leaving only the plants behind. And that was not the worse of it. No, the worse part was that huge metal Gate standing several miles deep within the Woods, surrounded by a number of arcane stone crains.

Kimi Ermitage, visitor from Essex County, Massachusetts, June 18. 1982


One thing that really stood out to me and left a slight unease was the strange silence enveloping the area, devoid of any signs of life. As I walked around, I couldn't help but notice the absence of the usual cheerful chirping of birds or the subtle rustling sounds made by animals going about their daily routines. It almost felt as if someone had pressed a mute button on nature itself. The quietness stretched on, uninterrupted and surreal in its intensity. There were no distant echoes of laughter, no gentle whispers carried by the wind; just an eerie stillness that hung in the air like a thick fog. It made me question what could have caused such an unsettling void, turning what should have been a peaceful setting into an inexplicable scene that left me feeling distinctly uncomfortable yet strangely captivated.


Anthony Wells, UK writer and narrator of The Classic Horror Series Podcast, October 20, 2013



No one was quite sure who had built them, but their purpose was quite clear. The stones were a secondary reinforced barrier arranged around the Gate, keeping whatever was imprisoned there from breaking out and coming through to this reality. People say you could safely go in the forest, so long as it was by day and didn’t go too far in. But the most important rule of all was not to go within the crains and not stand in front of the Gate, especially during the hours of midnight and 3 A. M.


Florence Vergil, high school senior and exchange student from Belair, Barbados, March 23, 2015



I always took care to abide by the laws, to not trespass, and to avoid being a target of gossip—especially in little Elfin towns like the surrounding Swanwick, Crapaud creux, Giama , Fatras, and Bruyère verte, where rumors could spread quickly. If you followed the rules, they might be incredibly wonderful to visit, even for a lengthy stay. A person breached the rules one day, thinking I was one of her "bestest friends forever and always," but I wasn't since I utterly despised her guts. This happened just as I was starting to appreciate my stay in that exquisite location of abundant natural grandeur and pastoral calm.

From the diary of Ethel Larson, high school freshman and American expat from New Arkham, Massachusetts, June 6 2016




Be wary then; best safety lies in fear.

― William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene lll



From the Journal Entry of Kes Allyntahl


Note: Dear Leonard, if you're reading this, it means I'm either dead or have disappeared under mysterious circumstances, or you've gone through my stuff. If I'm either the first two things then please show this to Mom and Dad so it might offer them a clue to what really happened to me; if not, then please keep away from my stuff. Seriously, keep away from my stuff! I don’t want you snitching my agate and fancy marbles to give to your obnoxious friends at school; those are not for trading, Buster! They’re to be retained as antique keepsakes. Also keep away from my antique bead and button collection! I don’t care if your friends have a lot cool stuff, you’re not using my knickknacks are currency!


Okay, moving on.


The house my family recently moved into was one of the oldest in town, and despite new ownership, the locals still referred to the place after the original occupants--the Aigrettes. The word ‘aigrette’ was used to describe several things from the egret, or lesser white heron, to a type of deep-fried fritter made of batter in an elongated shape.

Maison de Aigrette, as it was called, looked more like a frog than an egret. It had none of the angular grace and spiky dignity of an egret. It was a low and rounded gite farmhouse with white plaster walls and a roof of thatched reed, plopped on a low hill above a marshy stream. Whoever had built the house had not liked straight lines; the corners were rounded as were the windows and a South facing bay window. It was a humorous house, with a certain frog-like charm. The sort of house inhabited by harmless amiable bumpkins. . . or maybe even gnomes, whose conversations were full of fish caught and balls hit.

It was a happy house. Surely, I thought, nothing could possibly go wrong in such a picturesque, bucolic locale.

I was so wrong.



Year of the Red Fire Chicken

Maison de Aigrette, Brittany

18th of July 2017, 5:23AM


I was curled up beneath my embroidered down covers. Its quilted layers were supposed to offer me a comfy warm space to creep under and shut out the outside world. Yet my dreams were far from comforting.

In this dream, I was running down a well-worn path in the meadow near where I now lived. It was a sunny afternoon and the tall grass brushed lightly against my legs and shoulders as I flew by. Insects buzzed and clicked along the trail. Scattered flocks of swallows swerved and swooped, snatching up small grasshoppers and butterflies. Lizards and ground birds scurried out of my way, disappearing into the surrounding meadowland.

Frantically, I ran because just a few feet away a steady swarm of skunks was pursuing me. They were gamboling merrily along—a rippling stream of black and white fur, while I shrieked and clawed my way desperately through air as thick as molasses.

Despite my frantic efforts, I only achieved the top speed of ten-mile per hour--the same speed of an ordinary skunk waddling along in its usual flat-footed gait. Suddenly I was covered with them, hundreds, perhaps thousands, maybe even tens of thousands. I could feel their pudgy-clawed feet digging hard into my backside. At the same time there came an unmentionable odor that made my gorge rise.

Slowly and blearily, I opened my eyes. Reluctantly, I glanced up at the window at the foot of the bed. The advancing dawn made the bedroom shutters a luminous pattern. To me, it was a blurred smear of light that hung in the semi-darkness like a faint reflection in a dark pool.

I tried to pull the covers over my head, but they were caught under something. Working one hand loose from underneath the sheet, I fumbled around and felt something heavy and furry lounging between my shoulder blades.

Purring loudly, Miss Tabitha (Tabs, for short) began kneading her claws into my back as if it was a soft plush cushion. There were more leaden weights lying across my twitching legs and feet. A blue- gray Bedlington Terrier / poodle mix and former stray named Plusie (Mom thought he was a toy at first when she found him). Félix—a black and white kitten (another stray), and one of two possibly ‘designer pets’ ramidreju, Dre or Ree—a long, green ferret-like creature with beady yellow eyes and a whuffling hog-like nose.

Tabs scratched even harder as if dreaming of goldfish and other bite-sized edibles.

"Ow," I said, rolling the tabby off.

Tabs gave a little mew of disapproval and then jumped back onto my shoulder. She started digging in her claws again.

“Hey, quit that!" I rolled her aside again.

The cat went back to her favorite sleeping spot.

"Okay," I muttered, giving up. "You can stay there. Just don't claw me again."

With an exasperated sigh I closed my eyes and tried to get back to sleep. A faint noxious odor made me think otherwise.

Of course, I thought, with that smell and the animals sleeping on me, it's no wonder I dreamed of skunks chasing me.

I wondered why of all places in the forest did Pepé Le Pew had to let loose a barrage near the front door… and what on earth was a skunk doing in France? Hopefully, the smell didn't seep through enough to permeate my clothes and carpeting. Also I hoped that our landlady Madame Nismer wouldn't get the idea that we had recently adopted a pet skunk. Although, she seemed tolerant of my little brother’s newly acquired menagerie, although I was quite sure she would draw the line at skunks.

Scratching my head, I also wondered if the skunk’s visitation was a sign, a warning even of something big and terrible was about to happen.

I then rolled my eyes at this superstitious notion. Lighten up, Kes. You're seeing omens everywhere, even in the mundane actions of innocent woodland creatures. It's not like the boarding house back in Harnam with it's witches's cats, corbies and magpies.

Careful not to wake the other animals, I rolled Tabs to one side and slid out of bed. After doing some stretches, I slipped on my buckskins and moccasins. From my bureau I got two large bath towels and my hairbrush, which I stuffed into my shirt pocket. Then I walked outside, and down a narrow path through the forest.

The sounds of small, padded footsteps approaching from behind started me before I had even moved a few steps. I guess they noticed I was gone rather quick.

I tried to make it my daily devotion to go down to the river and bathe before everyone else woke up. I made extra sure I wasn’t seen or heard. My mom and dad would have hit the roof if they knew about me sneaking out to use the river, especially Mom since she worried about me catching Giardia or Lyme disease or rabies. . . or maybe even lycanthropy.

Man, my mom was always freakishly obsessed with my health and safety. I mean, I get it, she's my mom and all, but sometimes it felt like she thought I was made of glass or something. She would go to extreme measures to make sure I didn't catch even the tiniest cold. Hand sanitizer? Check! Vitamins? Double check! And don't even get me started on her obsession with germs. Everything had to be wiped down and disinfected before I could touch it. It's like she was preparing for a zombie apocalypse or something. But hey, at least I rarely got sick growing up. You know what they say, better safe than sorry!

She always had been overly concerned about my health and safety, but her worries about me catching any of these diseases bordered on the absurd.

It was a testament to her undying love and protective ness towards me that she thought of all possible threats.

I couldn't help but be touched by her genuine concern, as irrational as it may seemed in some cases. She probably read about these diseases in one of those alarmist articles online, causing her anxiety levels to skyrocket. But hey, at least she kept things interesting with her wild imagination!

In reality, though, I was confident that I took enough precautions to ward off any actual health risks I may encounter while exploring the great outdoors. Thanks to Mom’s overzealous fretting, l was always be well-informed and well-prepared—just another reason to appreciate her unwavering affection!

Most mornings, I was lucky enough to wake up before anyone else in my family. On such rare occasions, I quietly tiptoe to the bathroom without disturbing anyone’s peaceful slumber before slipping outside.

However, there were days when luck wasn't on my side. My dear sister Marzi—and by “dear,” l mean absolutely annoying—always managed to beat me to it. She practically hijacked that bathroom every single times, no matter how late she stayed up watching Netflix shows!

Seriously, her command over that space was exclusive and relentless. So much for sibling fairness or even a shred of personal hygiene consideration!

Although there were hot springs in the Yggdrasil Wood, I no longer used them when I was informed of the Rules. New residents of the Brittany Area were always told of the Rules, and usually, they obeyed them after they heard the numerous terrifying stories of people who had dared explored this dense wooded area after sunset.

“If you should ever venture into the Yggdrasil Wood, keep to the Long Trail and don’t go too far in and avoid going into the Woods at night.”

The Rule Informer happened to be an old woman who went by the name of Madame Mosley. Although grotesquely ugly with a red face, a droopy nose like a bulbous, wart-covered squash and crooked yellowed teeth protruding over her wide lips, I listened with grave courtesy and did not flinch as she tore greedily at the food with long claw-like nails and slurped her tea noisily.

It was only four days ago when I was first made aware of the rules. We were in the living room of Maison de Aigrette. Many interesting Orrim folk art adorned the room --beautifully made clothing of sewn pelts and embroidery hung from the walls as well as the rafters, along with all kinds of ornamented objects. There were also numerous shelves filled with books. It was a bibliophile’s paradise, an oasis of knowledge waiting to be explored. The shelves were well organized and packed tightly with diverse genres ranging from classic literature to contemporary fiction.

So, my parents decided to make the trip to the nearby city of Voxstein because our old dryer finally gave up on us. It has been acting up for quite some time now, making weird noises and leaving clothes damp even after a full cycle. I guess they thought enough was enough and we deserved an upgrade. They wanted to order a new dryer from one of those fancy appliance stores in the city, where they could browse through various options and get expert advice.


So, me and my siblings were all super stoked because we thought we finally had the house all to ourselves for a good chunk of time. We were ready to blast our favorite tunes at full volume, hog the wall screen with our marathon of cheesy movies, and basically just have a total blast without any parental interference. But oh boy, were we in for a surprise! Just when we had settled into our freedom-filled fantasy land, Madame Mosley, along with her two adult daughters, decided to crash the party.

It turned out that our parents decided to hire a babysitter despite the fact that there were two teenager cubs quite capable of looking after themselves as well as after a precarious six-year-old. So, my parents, being the friendly and trustworthy folk they are, decided to take some neighborly advice and hire Madame Mosley for their needs.

Let me tell you, this lady had quite an interesting appearance—somewhat striking, some might say. She bore the resemblance to a Baba Yaga I saw in a recent horror movie. In case you didn’t know who Baba Yaga was, she was this iron-toothed witch in Slavic folklore who flew around in a giant mortar and pestle, kidnapping (and presumably devouring) small children and other people stupid enough to get lost in her woods. Oh, and she also lived in a yurt hut, which stood on chicken legs and was surrounded by bone fences adorned with skulls with glowing eyes. Pretty metal, huh?

Turned out Madame Mosley was quite nice in spite of her messy table manners and crone-like appearance and quite helpful when it came to answering my numerous questions about the French language and the cultural difference between Northern France and Southern France, and if the mysterious Nye-Am People were related to the Basque. And to top it off, those two daughters —Millie and Jeanette we're just as sweet as pie. It was like a total contrast to their weird witchy exterior with their hollow backs and beribboned cow tails—they were absolute angels. It just goes to show that appearances could be deceiving, and sometimes the nicest people came in the most unexpected packages. Anyway, it was Madame Mosley who told me why I should think twice about going into Yggdrasil Forest across meadow from Maison de Aigrette.

So there we were, Madame Mosley and me, finishing up lunch, and Jeanette was busy being her helpful self, assisting Marzi with hanging up the laundry. Millie, meanwhile, was helping my little brother try to capture a stray chicken for his menagerie.

The atmosphere was relaxed, with a touch of domesticity in the air. It was one of those lazy afternoons where time seemed to stretch on forever. We were all relaxed and taking it easy, enjoying each other’s company and meal. But just when l thought everything was going fine, a somber expression appeared on Madame Mosley’s face. With an air of knowingness and concern in her voice, she gave me that warning.

I took a sip of my decaf tea and then heaved a deep sigh of disappointment.

“I guess going to those hot springs is out then,” I said gloomily, “since they’re way off that path.”

It was too bad since those hot springs were a good place to relax and to think without the outside world intruding in.

Madame Mosley shrugged her massive shoulders. “Well, there’s always the town pool, although it tends to get a little crowded during the summer.”

I couldn’t help but frown as I stared at the plate in front of me, piled high with the remnants of my lunch—roasted boar and stir-fried vegetables. The boar, Millie cooked to perfection with its tender meat and crispy skin, was a pleasure to savor. Every bite filled my mouth with a rich and succulent flavor that lingered on my taste buds.

Paired with the vibrant medley of stir fried vegetables, bursting with colors and freshness, it was a well-balanced meal. Despite my initial disappointment at Madame Mosley’s answer, I soon found myself relishing the last few morsel.


I always hated the town pool with its harsh chlorine smell, the crowded locker room with so little privacy, the scrum of noisy kids running about (some with very little bladder control), and the nosy people (tourists mostly) who constantly badgered me with probing questions--

“Is Kes Allyntahl nearly your real name? It sounds more like an alias to me.”

“Are you related to Beyoncé? You kind of have similar-looking facial features.”

“Wait… You were living on your own in the Simak Islands and Re-United Kingdom ? You seemed rather young to be off on your own.”

“Aren’t you afraid of living near a haunted location?”

“Did you have ear pointing surgery? One of my cousins had that and now she has to endure Lord of the Rings and Vulcan jokes. Also her parents were peeved at her for spending much of her college fund for that fad.”

“Why Aigrette Manor? Aren’t you afraid of wild animals or ghosts or the Ankou paying you a visit?”

“So...are you seeing anyone, right now?”

“Why don’t you like big dogs?”


I sat myself back down in my chair. “You said there were two more rules?”

“Uh-huh,” said the old woman, mopping the grease from her mouth. “You know that clearing where the trees bend completely away from the center... as if shrinking in fear of something unspeakable?”

“Yeah,” I muttered, feeling a slight chill.

“You know those big piles of stones around the center of the clearing, connected together with bolts and anchor chains?”

“The ones where the chains seemed brand new and the rocks never had anything growing on them?”

“Yes, these things,” intoned Madame Mosley. “Don’t ever step between the chained cairns...you know that big metal gate at the center of those stones?”

“Yeah, I always wonder about that,” I muttered, perplexed. “Why build a big gate without a big fancy mansion to go with it?”

“According to some of the local legends that Gate sits at the entryway to a deserted manor house way back in those very woods,” replied Madame Mosley darkly. “Back in the days of the decadent court of King Louis XVI, there was a Gentry family of minor aristocrats who used to own all this land here. A lot of banquets and gathering went on at the place, with a lot of guests from the royal court in Versailles.”

I took a forkful of the small pile of golden brown mushrooms, perfectly cooked and infused with the savory goodness of soy sauce and garlic.

“What was the family’s name?” I asked between chewy bites.

“I believe they were called Chanterelle...”

“Oh, like the mushroom?” I glanced down at my remaining lunch, noting that distinct golden hue and delicate texture of some of the mushrooms on my plate.

“Yes, but these folk were more like the deadly, poisonous variety,” replied Madam Mosley darkly.

“Oh,” I said again as my visions of kindly mushroom folk living harmoniously with nature vanished like morning mist. It was a moment of disappointment mixed with the sudden realization that my imagination had gotten the better of me.

“They were a haughty ruthless lot. All the Common Folk hated them; the peasants most all. They had so little to eat, and they were not even allowed like to hunt or gather stock from the Gentry’s lands. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Chanterelles regarded them as nothing more than servile beasts, lower than even a dog or a goblin slave.”


“What ?” I gave a start. “Seriously?” I couldn’t believe it. It caught me completely off guard, and the sheer absurdity of it made my jaw drop. Can you imagine that even a dog was considered higher in rank than the peasant far? I mean come on! These were magical beings who possessed incredible powers and were deeply connected to nature. They should have been revered and respected, not treated as lowly vermin.

Even the Gerdin Hegemony of Orrim Archipelago where my family originated, the workers there received access to food and basic medical care, as well as a fair wage and respect.

“It’s true, my dear,” Madame Mosley nodded grimly. “The Chanterelles were a powerful, domineering clan who were known for their cruelty and heartlessness. They believed that the peasants were too primitive and beneath them, so they had no mercy when it came to punishing them. Any peasant who dared hunt on Chanterelle land risked a harsh and public consequence. Even more shockingly, werewolves, witches and even people of blended origins were treated even worse. They were either banished from the kingdom or put to death for anyone to see.” She paused to let this sink in, then continued. “Well, the War of the Courts came, followed shortly by the French Revolution came, and like so many noble families, the Chanterelles were ruined by it. The ones still alive feared for their safety and fled to neighboring countries. The stubborn few that remained kept to themselves in that old dilapidated house, too proud and ashamed to accept any charity. The only sign of their existence was a few old servants coming to town for supplies.

In the softy lit room, amid wisps of Gerdin incense, I sat captivated by Madame Mosley’s presence. Her ancient gray eyes radiated a wisdom accumulated over the centuries, and when she moved her massive hands, I felt a heavy weight settle on my souls. Time stood still as I ate my stir fry, my thoughts traveling back to that high ethereal ruin deep in those woods, and that strange tattered family that huddled inside like pale moonlit ghosts.

“This went on till the spring of 1888 when an old groundskeeper and his wife came into town and said that the remaining Chanterelles weren’t there any more, that they all left one stormy night without giving any parting word or explanation. The couple didn’t know where the family had gone, but they were afraid to stay on the property themselves. Said even though the house was supposed to be empty, they were constantly plagued by the maddening feeling that someone was constantly looking over their shoulder or waiting just around the corner of the hallway. At night as soon as the sun set, they would often hear someone prowling outside their locked door, fumbling and tugging at the latch.

“The old couple might have known who or what was roaming about, but fear and maybe family loyalty had sealed their lips. People had said that their remaining years were spent in a crowded boarding house and they always kept a lamp burning all night long with the doors locked and blocked by heavy furniture.

“As for the house, nobody ever bought it, and it stood just as the last caretakers had left it--full of dust with cobwebs laying thick in the high ceilings and shadowy corners... and according to Google Earth satellite imagery and drone footage, it still stands with all its furnishing in place because folks around here are much too scared to steal everything out of it... even the Rom and tinkers give it wide berth. I reckon it was either one of those people who raised those cairns around the Gate, to act as both warning beacons and a protective barrier.”

Madam Mosley sipped her tea thoughtfully while I watched her. “Folk around here don’t like to talk about it, and most visitors to these parts don’t even know about the Chanterelle Place, which is a good thing because not only does keeping mum on this legend keep us from being invaded by hundreds of noisy, obnoxious explorers and thrill seekers, it also keeps visitors from falling victim to the Curse.

“Curse?” I said, pausing in mid-chew.

“Yeah,” said Madam Mosley gravely. “It’s widely believed that anyone who dares to venture past the cairns to stand in front of that Gate will be stricken with bad luck, illness and even death under mysterious circumstances. Supposedly that place claimed an untold number of lives over the last 300 years.”

I blinked anxiously as I gulped down my food, “Oh, so no rain of frogs and fish then?”

“‘Fraid not,” Madam Mosley replied, setting down her now empty tea cup. She then delicately picked her teeth with her personal silver toothpick. “It’s a vicious curse spawned by long-ago cruelty and heartlessness, and I hope it doesn’t come true, for your sake.”

“Uh, yeah, that would really depressing if it did,” I mumbled as I stared nervously at my now empty plate.

Madam Mosley pursed her lips and furrowed her enormous brow. “Oh?” she said, staring hard at me. “You didn’t go up to that Gate, did you? Perhaps you thought you could just go and pick at the lock?”

I set down my fork. “No, Madame,” I said. “I didn’t do that. I went around the clearing instead.”

Madam Mosley looked startled. The toothpick slid from her droopy lips with a clatter. “But you didn’t step between those chained stones...?”

I rapidly shook my head. “No, Madam,” I said. “I knew something was very fishy with that place, got that creepy feeling people get when something bad was going to happen. Well, I soon found these pathways in back and tried to walk up them--”

“And you never seemed to move forward?” said Madam Mosley, cutting me off. “No matter how hard you try and no matter whichever path you take, you never seem to get any closer to the House itself. You’re not the first to experience this odd phenomenon. Since I’m no wise woman, I don’t rightfully know if it’s part of the curse or if there are further barriers which prevent you from getting any closer, but promise me you will keep well away from those Stones and Gate. The place isn’t for the likes of living folk like us, but a place for the dead... and not the good honorable dead, but the dark twisted souls that don’t deserve a return to life and rebirth.”

Madam Mosley then held out a huge, clawed hand with the pinkie stuck out. “Promise me you’ll pay heed to those most important rules: if you should ever venture into the Yggdrasil Wood, keep to the Long Trail and don’t go further in.

“Don’t ever go between those chained Cairns and don’t stand in front of the Gate.

“Don’t ever go into the Yggdrasil Wood after sundown.”

Biting my lip, I wrapped my tiny pinkie around Madam Mosley’s salami-sized digit. “I promise to obey all the rules,” I managed to stammer out.

“Good,” Madam Mosley nodded approvingly as she released her firm grip. “Oh, by the way...there’s also a fourth rule.”

“Oh?” I pricked up my ears. “What rule is that?”

“Don’t ever open the door to anyone late at night, especially after the clock strikes twelve. No matter how much they knock and beg, don’t ever open the door.”

“But what if it’s someone in serious trouble?” I protested, rather annoyed. “What if it’s a starving or injured animal--a stray kitten even? Am I supposed to turn my back on that?”

“Sometimes a closed door as well as your instincts is the best defense against things of the Dark World, especially the Things like the Chanterelles.”

“The Chanterelles?” I looked startled. “Aren’t they all dead or gone away... unless these Chanterelles hid themselves underground like those Dark Elves from my lil’ brother’s Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game.”

“Well, those D&D nerds got the legends wrong,” Madam Mosley explained. “Dark Elves are actually dwarves and those Fantasy Folk are not such a bad lot when compared to those all-too-real Chanterelles bunch. Them Highborn were just as bad as those extremists, fiercely nationalistic and violent. Savage to a degree that made even the most decadent of aristocrats shake their heads in dismay. And that’s not the worst of it.”

I nodded as I refilled Madam Mosley’s tea. Not the worst of it? I wondered. What could be worse than a bunch of nationalistic in-bred, Gentry snobs? Still I bit my tongue and waited patiently while the crone sipped her tea slowly.

“Extreme wealth tends to breed arrogance. Sure, you can do almost anything with it--partake in the court, be invited to a masked costume ball, have many slaves and servants do your menial housework and prepare your lavish meals, but that kind of power can quickly go to your head. Not only do you become spoiled and lazy, but you also become stupid. And when you start wallowing in corruption and callousness of the extreme, there’s no turning back. Nobles, like those Chanterelles, are the end results of centuries of living in an elitist, entitled society over-reliant on magic use, antiquated feudal titles and corrupt privilege. And when that gilded world starts to go away and when you been knocked down a peg or two, you get a little desperate and crazy. You start allying yourself to demons and things worse than demons. You got power and magic alright, but you pay such a high price in the end.” In a chilling and dramatic tone of voice, Madame's words seeped into the room, sending shivers down my spine.

“Those that practice the dark art surrender their humanity as well as their soul, and they’re just as dangerous dead as alive for they can come back.”

I groped for my napkin, still keeping my eyes fixed on the old woman.

“The Chanterelles were like that. With each generation, they got crazier and more greedier for power, wealth and immortality until after centuries of isolation they were only hinted at in rumors, and there were a lot of rumors about that place although none were ever proven because people either didn’t take it serious or else, they were too scared to have a look.

“But believe me...” Madam Mosley added before I could skeptically ask, “the Chanterelles are real and are no longer of the living...and yet they walk. While some did manage to escape the guillotine, they would still face the living death of the Curse tainting their bloodline.”

With a faint rustle, the napkin dropped from my hand. For a moment I stared at her, opened-mouthed. Then my eyes popped and I choked, “L—living d—death?”

“Living death,” Madame Mosley repeated. “I’ve seen them for myself.”

Still keeping my eyes fixed on the old woman’s face, I stopped and fumbled for my napkin. And then I felt it—a cold, wet sensation pressing against my fingertips. Fear gripped me as I slowly pulled back my hand, expecting to find a disembodied eyeball or perhaps even a slimy tentacle. Instead, I discovered a wet nose at the end of a soft, curly head resembling that of a lamb. With friendly eyes peering out from beneath a clipped mop; Plushie perked his head excitedly as if expecting something delicious from my plate. Unable to resist such an adorable face, I reached out and gave the Bedlington an affectionate scratch behind the ears. The wiry tail wagged vigorously in response, and I couldn’t help but smile at this unexpected encounter during what was supposed to be a serious lunchtime lecture.

With this adorable pup right by my side, the atmosphere in the room instantly lightened up. The heavy weight of anxiety and dread that had been lingering seemed to dissipate as soon as his wagging tail entered the picture. It’s a remarkable how a little animal could have such a profound impact on our mood. His playful antics and infectious enthusiasm brought a much-needed sense of joy and lightheartedness to an otherwise somber environment. It felt like he possessed some kind of magical superpower, spreading love and happiness wherever he went. With each goofy expression and silly twirl, even Madame Mosley found it impossible not to crack a smile.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity of happy antics( but was probably only like twenty minutes), Madame Mosley picked up where she left off. And let me tell you: the wait was totally worth it because her story turned out to be crazier than anything straight out of Hollywood! With every twist and turn in the plot, l found myself on the edge of my seat, jaws dropped in disbelief. It was like watching an action- packed horror thriller come to life through Madame Mosley’s animated storytelling.

I couldn’t help but marvel at how she managed to experience such an unbelievable situation and live to tell the tale—and with such flair too!


Madame Mosley’s Tale


“My family lived in the Surrey village of Mirabelle which was a postcard-perfect sort of place right up near the border of Faerie.

“I couldn't have asked for a better place to call home. Picture-perfect cottages with colorful gardens lined the streets, creating a cozy and picturesque atmosphere. The locals were friendly and welcoming, always ready for a chat or to lend a helping hand. We would often gather at the village pub on weekends, sipping pints of ale while exchanging stories and laughter. The surrounding countryside provided ample opportunities for scenic walks and bike rides, with lush green meadows stretching as far as the eye could see. Our Saturdays were spent exploring the nearby forests or indulging in delicious cream teas at quaint tea rooms. Very few places can match the tranquility and warmth that Mirabelle exuded – it truly was an idyllic spot filled with cherished memories for our family. Nothing to disturb the peace there apart from an off-course fox hunt or garden-raiding herds of livestock.

“Then WWII came out, plunging nations into a relentless cycle of destruction and fear. The consequences were not limited to devastated landscapes and shattered lives; they permeated even the most peaceful corners of society. In my small town, the arrival of war was marked by incessant nighttime air-raid sirens that shattered the tranquility that once existed. Panic filled the hearts of citizens as gas mask drills became a regular occurrence, reminding us of the ever-present threat lurking overhead. The darkness swallowed our hopes and dreams as we huddled together, sheltering from potential annihilation. Fear consumed every fiber of our beings, haunting our nights and casting an eerie shadow over our days. Each passing day brought with it a sense of impending doom, an uncertainty that drove us closer to despair. We yearned for peace but found solace only in the solidarity woven amidst chaos - united in our shared vulnerability but persevering against insurmountable odds. Despite everything, hope flickered like a fragile candle amidst this dark storm, illuminating our souls: reminding us that even in the depths of despair, humanity retains its indomitable spirit to survive against all odds.

“Well, we kids had strict nightly curfews due to the blackouts and listening to the wireless was one of the only few things there to do until our bedtime. Since Dad had taped newspaper over the back of the its wooden box to hide the glowing tubes we could listen to it during the blackout.

“It was a cold October night, and Halloween was two weeks away. My sister Emily (who was 11) and my brother Danny (who was 7) had snuck downstairs to listen to the wireless . They brought me ( a lil mite of about 4) along too on the promise that I would keep quiet and not tattle on them.

“Well, nothing strange happened for a while. We sat while the various radio shows entertained us with horror and crime noir drama, science fiction, and even a bit of black humor. By the time Lights Out rolled around, I was already conked out, right there in the middle of the den. Then the Hermit’s Cave started...

“Emily and Danny heard the town clock toll twelve chimes and as they were deciding whether they had listened enough and to go straight to bed, the dogs a couple blocks away started to bark and howl.

“At first, no one took notice since they thought it was part of the intro which featured baying wolves, but then the commotion never stopped. Instead it kept growing louder and closer as each of the nearby neighbors’ dogs added their voices to the hysterical and incessant chorus.

“Then there came some new sounds--a dry rustle at the door followed by an unexpected light tapping.

“Emily suddenly switched off the radio, she and Danny looked at one another, and then at the door. Neither one couldn’t bring themselves to get up and peer out the window to see who it was that was waiting for a reply. At the same time, they felt this inexplicable urge to lift up the latch to open the door. Once more they heard the slow tap, tap, tap of fingertips just barely brushing against the oak paneling; once more dry rustling was heard as if starchy linen was snapping and flapping in the wind. While fear and common sense kept Emily rooted to the spot, Danny was already rushing to the door with his hand reaching out for the latch. She tried to scream and tried to yell his name but fear froze her tongue solid. She could only watch in hopeless terror as the fool boy lifted up the latch, and the door slowly began creaking open, sounding a lot like that long drawn-out squeak on that basement door on the Inner Sanctum show. A chill ran up her shoulders, not entirely from the cold air seeping through the widening crack, but from the long, gray, bony fingers slowly creeping like spider legs around the edge of the door.

“Shut that goddamn door before that Thing gets in!” somebody bellowed.

“It was Mum rushing in with a wild look in her eyes and panic dripping from her trembling voice. She hefted a fire poker while Dad was not far behind, a rowan oak club clutched tightly in his hand as if it were his only lifeline. The urgency of her command sliced through the air like a well-sharpened blade, leaving us frozen in place. Every nerve ending tingled with the gravity of the situation lurking outside, attempting to breach our sanctuary. The force behind Mum’s words made it evident that this wasn’t just another mundane Axis threat; this was a creature unlike anything we had ever encountered before—a monstrous entity capable of unspeakable horrors.

“While Mum yanked Danny away by his arm, Dad lunged forward and delivered a powerful kick to the door. The hand ducked back, but it wasn’t quite enough for the heavy oak door slammed shut, snapping off the tip of the fingers. This prompted a hair-raising squeal from whatever it was that stood outside, while the fingertips writhed and squirmed around like maggots over the carpet.”

I rubbed my arms, feeling suddenly itchy. Of course, it could have just been from the fleas that dog had. I mean, seriously, how can one little pup carry so many of those pesky critters? Anyway, I couldn't help but scratch at my skin as if possessed by some invisible force. It was like a mini war going on beneath the surface - me versus the fleas. I tried to resist the urge to scratch too vigorously, afraid of leaving red marks all over myself. But damn it, those tiny buggers knew all the right spots to attack. And let me tell you, nothing kills your chill listening vibes faster than itching like crazy when’s there’s company while trying to maintain some semblance of composure. So yeah, thanks for sharing your flea infestation with me, Plushie .

Madame Mosley must have a thicker hide than I do when it came to flea infestation, for she continued her daily rituals with an unnerving composure.

“While Dad bashed those things to paste and powder, I woke up on account of the noise and started to bawl at the top of my lungs. Then Mum picked me up and held me close, before glowering down at cringing, shame-faced Danny.

“‘Never ever answer the blooming door at this hour!’ she told him sternly. ‘Especially when those mad, Gentry deaders are walking about!’

“It was the Chanterelle dead... my sister told me when I was a little older, the ones that were said to prowl the nearby Heath and Woods, and they’re especially dangerous during the autumn and winter months. My sister also said that for about two weeks afterwards, she and Danny were plagued by nightmares of being hunted down by rail-thin figures in fluttering drapery like linen bandages with only their long teeth showing and one of them was lacking fingertips on its right hand. This only stopped on Halloween when three British evacuees’ kids went missing at the annual picnic/fun fair at Mirabelle Rock. To this very day, both my siblings always check their peepholes before answering their door and always keep a large dog and stout club close by.”

I paused my scratching and looked up at Madame Mosley, completely taken aback by what she had just revealed. The question escaped my lips involuntarily, “And they never found those three kids?”

“Not a trace,” Her eyes locked with mine, shining with a mixture of sorrow and disbelief that mirrored my own.

In that moment, time stood still, as if the weight of her revelation had an invisible grip on our souls. The chilling realization dawned upon me like a melodramatic climax in a tragic play—those three children were forever lost, swallowed by the depths of the unknown.

The unsettling silence enveloped us all, leaving no room for hope or solace. It felt as though their spirits lingered among us, haunting this very space with their unanswered questions and unfulfilled dreams.

Madame Mosley’s words resonated deep within me, unraveling a tapestry of emotions that I couldn’t ignore—fear, bewilderment, but above all, an overwhelming sense of despair for those who are doomed to remain forever missing and eternally mourned.

“I got it! I got it!” my little brother’s shrill yell burst the gloomy silence.

Startled, we both looked up to see Leonard’s triumphant entry into the room, followed shortly by Jeanette, Millie and Marzi.

“Actually, we all helped,” Marzi explained nonchalantly, picking twigs and leaves out of her hair. “Make a sort of herding pen with towels and blankets.”

With a mischievous grin, Leonard proudly clutched a makeshift contraption consisting of a drawstring and a large butterfly net and within it, a golden hen squirmed and struggled.

My little brother had always had an uncanny knacks for engaging with animals, whether it’s taming wild squirrels or befriending stray cats, he had this innate ability to connect with creatures big and small. And this time was no different. It turned out while exploring the woods near our house, he stumbled upon an idyllic clearing where these mythical golden hens apparently roamed freely! With sheer determination, quick reflexes and some help, of course, from Marzi and the Mosley Sisters that would put any professional hunter to shame; Leonard managed to entrap one of the magnificent birds before it could flutter off. As absurd as it may sound, seeing him there excitedly showing off his trophy reminded me once again of the extraordinary Faerie wonders that awaited us even in the most unexpected of places. . . wonders which I hoped weren’t going to lead us into trouble like before.

So, the next morning, bright and early, I wrapped up my refreshing river bath and plopped myself down by the warm hearth. I couldn’t help but replay the spin-chilling tale Madame Mosley had spilled to me yesterday. With a furrowed brow and a mug of caffeine-free herbal tea in hand, I sat deep in thought, trying to make sense of it all. Her story about those haunted woods and ghostly visits in the dead of night didn’t seem right out of some Grim fairy tale. It was nothing short of bone-chilling horrifying! My mind wandered, picturing those supernatural creatures lurking in the darkness, waiting for their unsuspecting victims. . . prey! How could I not be pondering over this insane experience? Madame Mosley’s vivid narration played like a horror movie on repeat inside my head and had left an indelible mark on my imagination that I simply couldn’t shake off effortlessly.

Oh man, you won’t believe the crazy story behind this journal. So get this, it’s not just any old journal, it’s my third one! Yeah, that’s right, I’ve had two other before this one. You see, the first one got stolen when I was staying in Saffrasia by a crazy otaka/ hikikomori girl. Talk about bad luck!

I was devastated when I realized it was gone. All those memories and feelings written down just vanished in an instant. But hey, sometimes life throws you curve balls like that.

My second journal, the one featuring my account at the infamous Lum House and some equally strange disturbances at the Rue Des Jardins Lodge, somehow ended up in the hands of my well-meaning parents. And to make matters even more interesting, it’s now being 'illustrated’ by Leonard and some of his school pals. Now, picture this: a mix of abstractly drawn landscapes and colorful cartoon characters combined with my ramblings about everything magical life. It’s an unexpected collaboration that I never saw coming, but hey, at least it’s adding a unique twist to my journaling experience.

So here I am with my third journal, determined to keep documenting every adventure and mishap that comes my way. And let me tell you, after losing that first one, I’ve become super careful with where I keep this one—no more chances for anyone to snatch it away from me again!

While I wrote, Miss Tabitha, my lazy and ever curious feline companion positioned herself on the back of the velvety armchair. From her elevated perch, she observed every stroke of my pencil on paper with a discerning eye. Her tail flicked lazily as if she were surveying her kingdom, uninterested yet somehow captivated by my writerly endeavors.

I nibbled the end of my pencil for a few minutes and then wrote some more:


Well, that was certainly a weird, harrowing tale even though I’m rather kind of skeptical about it. Mrs. Mosley doesn’t strike me as the sort of person that would tell crazy tall tales, but being a really young, impressionable kid at the time, she was naturally gullible enough to believe something like that. Her siblings, being both young, imaginable kids themselves, probably mistook some poor wandering vagrant as one of the infamous Chanterelle ghosts. Fear and quite possibly guilt caused their nightmares, and as far as the severed fingers still twitching around... well that could account for the nerves still firing away and sending signals to the various joint muscles... rather similar to what happens in a detached lizard’s tail or a just-guillotined head.

As for those three Brit kids disappearing... well, a lot of things could have happened--none of it supernatural-related. They could have fallen down a mineshaft or sinkhole (I know, I nearly did while in Saffrasia), or gotten lost and eventually died of exposure, perhaps while taking shelter in one of the many isolated caves in that rock formation. Or else, they all became the unfortunate meal of a local predatory — a large feral dog or wild boar. . . or maybe even a bear. Do they still even have bears in Great Britain? Maybe in the Faerie-controlled parts, they do.


Maybe when I get the time, I could go down to the local library and Google up that incident on those missing evacuee kids, and maybe even try to find something about Mirabelle’s late-night visitor that gave even tough ladies like Madame Mosley nightmares--you would think something like that would have gotten into the newspapers. On the Internet, not everyone is bound by some age-old oath to keep silent about it like they did about those wretched Stones and Gate. I’d use the Internet at home, but it has connection or computer issues largely caused by my sister constantly yakking to her friends on video chat and constantly running LimeWire and downloading Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift songs. Why download those two? No idea. Rather poor taste if you ask me! My parents are thinking about staging an intervention… hopefully very soon! I’ve only been here about a week, and I’m about ready to move into Leonard’s tree house.

I closed my journal and laid it aside. Then I sat back in my armchair and gazed ruminatively into the fire. I thought about what lurked beyond those ancient Cairns and Gate, imaging the old house with its high turret walls looming shadowy and stark amidst a wilderness of briars and wind-twisted trees. I thought what walked through the shadowed courtyards and darkened halls, occasionally passing into the realm of the commonplace to cast its dismal pall over everything.

“Why didn’t the local folk just burn that Chanterelle Manor down if they feared it so much?” I grumbled to myself. “That would certainly take care of the ghosts or whatever’s haunting that old place... or else, build a big blooming fence around it to keep people away. Don’t just put up a bunch of so-called magical standing stones around the front gate with a list of rules to follow!”

“Mrr?” said Tabs reflectively.

“No, I don’t think Elves were responsible for putting up those stones there,” I murmured. “Got to be either the Rom or some of the tinkers like Mrs. Mosley had said, maybe even some wannabe druids. Or maybe even the dwarves or Jötnar.

“Anyway, Elves just don’t strike me as the enterprising types to go tramping through some haunted woods and piling up stones into some mini Stonehenge. They’d much rather let someone else do all the hard work while they stay at home gathered around the table, sipping wine spiced with cinnamon, getting stoned out of their minds on shroomberry, telling bawdy jokes, and thinking up long-winded folk ballads for gullible tourists.

Unlike the Askorembla (non-Gerdin), my people and felines could easily understand one another. It all had to do with us Gerdin possessing a similar wavelength as well as having your human lineage spiced with traces of various feline species. I could also go on and on about cat girls and furry fanatics as well as ethical and moral issues dealing with a Gattaca-type scenario, but that would take much too long and would open up a whole can of worms.

“Mrraw,” Tabs insisted.


“Alright, not all Elves are decadent pipe-smoking, psychedelic honey sucking hippies ,” I acknowledged. Then I added with a frown, “But that still doesn’t mean they got plenty of Old Magical Superpowers to put up some arcanely powerful barricade against evil.

“The only real magic they use nowadays is mainly the domestic, less dramatic sort such as enhancing the flavor of their goat cheese and making their glass and crystal ornaments more sparkly and less prone to breakage.”

“Mmew?” Tabs sighed.

“What do you mean you ‘don’t believe that load of codswallop?’ I think that was a pretty good for a spur of the moment Elven anthropology lesson.”

“Rowrr,” Miss Tabitha firmly.

“Okay, okay, it was all Orrim propaganda!” I said irritably. “I’m sorry I said that thing about the Elves being wusses and all that. Still, that doesn’t mean that they’re high, noble and superior to the non-mellow Faire Folk! The Chanterelles proved to be corrupt and hollow underneath their regalness; if there really was such a Gentry family.”

We sat in silence for a moment.

“Well, I know for one thing,” I said finally. “I sure in hell won’t be going into those woods anymore to find out for myself if there really is such a place as the Chanterelle Manor.” I tapped the armrest of my chair thoughtfully. “I already have enough excitement in my life without some wretched legendary curse and undead monsters hanging over my head.”

I fought the urge to doze off for a good thirty minutes , but my eyelids had other plans. Before I knew it, I slumped back into my seat, snoring away. Suddenly, a soft sound jolted me awake. It was almost like the wind was whispering my name. But wait, since when did the wind have a voice? I sat up, rubbing my eyes, only to realize that Miss Tabitha had vanished. Turned out, my furry feline compatriot snuck back to my bed for some more beauty sleep. Cheeky little Minou!

The opulent light of dawn was streaming into the front windows, casting a soft glow upon the room. My gaze was drawn to the fire, which still burned with a fierce intensity. A furrow creased my brow, for it should have extinguished by now. Had I been adding more wood to the fames in my sleep?

As I pondered this, a shape seemed to materialize from the heart of the fire. It was undoubtedly a face—a wedge-shaped visage adorned with luminous eyes and undulating tresses concealed beneath a tricorne hat. Then l blinked and shook my head. and the face had vanished, replaced by a jagged mass of blazing wood. The two orbs I had perceived were likely mere embers, drifting aimlessly about.


I stumbled up and stretched my achy muscles before heading to the bathroom. It’s wild how easy it is to get tricked by shadows and firelight, you know?

“My paranoia and my overactive imagination were running overtime!" I muttered. "I'm going to start taking it easy today. Maybe do some meditating."


From the Account of Marzi Allyntahl, 7:38 AM


Alright, let me spill the beans here. On most weekends, I am not exactly what you would call an early bird, if you catch my drift. Snooze button? Yeah, it’s my best friend during those precious Saturday and Sunday mornings. My cozy bed wraps its warm embrace around me like a comforting cloud, persuading me to indulge in some extra hours of slumber. You know that feeling when the world is hushed and there are no housework obligations or homework deadlines lurking nearby? Pure bliss! This time is key for recharging my worn-out Gerdin teenage batteries and basking in the luxury of lazy felinoid solitude. But hey, don't get me wrong, I’m all about conquering the day once I finally emerge from that delicious realm of dreams. It just takes a little coaxing from a solid cup of coffee and maybe a brunch worthy of champions to kickstart my engine into high gear – ready to seize the weekend with gusto!

Even though I may have the typical Gerdin feline features, like pointy ears, retractable claws and cat eyes, my metabolism is surprisingly human-like when it comes to caffeine. It's like my body has adapted over time to handle this beloved stimulant just as well as any coffee-addicted human out there. So, while I can't deny that I still enjoy lounging around and taking frequent catnaps under the warm sunlight, whenever I need a little pick-me-up, coffee becomes my go-to solution. Whether it's sipping on a latte or indulging in an energy drink, caffeine somehow manages to give me the much-needed boost to tackle whatever challenges await me during the day ahead. You could say I've got the best of both worlds – the grace and agility of a felinoid coupled with the energy-boosting power of my human-like metabolism craving that delightful cup of Joe.

Now, there’s something about starting the day with a strong cup of coffee that sets the tone for success. The rich aroma invigorates your senses and jumpstart your motivation. It's the perfect companion to conquer any challenge lying ahead. And paired with a brunch worthy of champions, it becomes an unbeatable combination that fuels both your body and mind. Picture a spread of fluffy pancakes topped with maple syrup, crispy bacon, creamy scrambled eggs, and a side of fresh fruit bursting with vibrant colors. The mere thought of this mouth-watering feast is enough to make you smile and eagerly anticipate what lies ahead in the day. So go on, take a moment to indulge yourself in the simple pleasures of life, because sometimes all it takes is a little coaxing from a solid cup of coffee and some delicious brunch to make even the casual moments feel extraordinary.

Coffee, ah, the elixir of life, or so they say. It should have been the perfect way to kickstart my weekend, taking that first sip of rich and aromatic bliss. But fate had other plans for me. Instead, the noxious stench of skunk invaded my nostrils, ruining what could have been a delightful morning ritual. There I was, eagerly anticipating the comforting warmth of that perfectly brewed cup, only to be greeted by a scent reminiscent of rotten eggs mixed with burnt rubber. The rancid odor lingered in the air, assaulting my senses and evaporating any hope of a serene and peaceful start to my day. With each breath I took, it became painfully obvious that coffee would have to wait as I scrambled to rid myself of this pungent intruder before attempting any form of relaxation. It seems life has a funny way of throwing surprises our way when all we seek is a simple indulgence in life's little pleasures like a good cup of coffee.

Ugh, let me tell you, this morning was an absolute disaster. Gagging and retching, I catapulted myself out of my comfy bed, cursing like a sailor in the presence of a thousand skunks. Seriously, it was that bad! The stench that invaded my bedroom could only be described as a wretched combination of rotten eggs and smelly gym socks. I have no idea what caused it, but I can assure you it was enough to ruin anyone's day. With watery eyes and gasping for fresh air, I stumbled toward the source of the unholy odor — turns out, one of my little brother mischievous snake ferrets had decided to treat himself to a not-so-pleasant rolling session with something ungodly outside. Let’s just say that summer mornings aren't always as refreshing as one might hope!

Well, I gotta tell ya, I was almost on the verge of puking my guts out up there due to that god-awful stink. It was worse than before —like a foul, putrid combination of rotting garbage and sewer water after a heavy rain. I mean, seriously, it was enough to make a buzzard or even a ghoul gag! And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, wouldn't you know it? My clothes were caught right in the line of fire! Not only did I have to endure that noxious odor assaulting my senses, but now most of my favorite pair of jeans and shirts and tops were tainted with this abomination. Talk about insult to injury! Ugh, seriously? Now not only do I have to air out my entire room and closet, I gotta douse everything in Febreze just to stand being around myself afterwards. Let's just say that experience wasn't something easily forgotten or forgiven. And I really hope to all cat gods and cat goddesses listening that none of my friends catch wind (pun intended) of this fashion disaster!

Still swearing under my breath like a sailor, I hastily gathered up precious wardrobe pile and headed for the laundry room. Skunk smell is the absolute worst, lingering with a nauseating potency that just won't quit. As I approached the door, my nostrils were already assaulted by the pungent aroma of skunk spray, making me cringe in disgust. It's incredible how such a small creature can unleash such a powerful stench! The memories of an awful encounter flashed in my mind – me when I was a five year old cub innocently walking through the yard back in Orrin, then suddenly coming face to face with a crested stink weasel who was clearly not in the mood for visitors. The overpowering odor had clung to my clothes ever since, infiltrating every fiber with its unpleasantness. With a deep sigh and determination fueled by desperation, I tossed my clothes into the washing machine, hoping that this battle against skunk smell would finally be won.

I couldn't help but wonder if other people went through similar laundry struggles. Nonetheless, with a hint of determination lingering amidst the frustration, I programmed the washer for heavy duty - ready to tackle this task head-on and restore my precious garments to their former glory. After all, one cannot underestimate the satisfaction that comes from seeing your clothes emerge from that machine pristine and fresh smelling; it felt like a mini victory every day.

My victorious mood didn’t last though when I noticed there was seriously so much dirty laundry scattered all over the place. I mean, it was like a mountain of clothes just waiting to be tackled. And if that wasn't bad enough, there were little sprinkles of snake ferret poo here and there, which took it to a whole new level of grossness. Like, whose bright idea was it to keep snake ferrets as pets anyway? But wait, it gets even worse. As I ventured further into the chaos, I accidentally stumbled upon one of Mom's prized possessions - her best tablecloths was one big, scat-covered canvas. Tiny poopy footprints were scattered haphazardly from one end to the other.

"Oh, no…" I moaned. "No, no, nooo!" I blushed furiously as I grabbed the nearest broom and began tackling the mess. Dammit Ree or Dre! You guys got a litter box! Why’d you have to use Mom’s Quaker Lace tablecloth as toilet paper?

I grumbled as I stormed about some more, shaking and sweeping out poop and dumping the more durable items into the washer, before soaking the delicate lace and linen in a basin full of detergent. One of these days, Mom’s going to turn you all into a stole and a pair of kid gloves, I fumed.

Suddenly, I paused and listened hard. A sound came to my ears that made me think of steady rain and wind rippling through the trees. Pricking my ears, I took a look out the only window. There was nothing there; just churning foggy grayness. A blanket of cold silence descended over the room. I felt goose bumps on my arms, and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I turned suddenly, expecting to see numerous eyes watching me from behind. I saw only bare walls. I thought I heard rustling and shuffling near the entrance to the kitchen. But when I strode to the doorway and looked out, there was nothing there.

"Lousy stinkin’ rats," I said irritably. "I thought Madame Nismer ran them all out awhile ago."

"No, not even close," came a faint, windy whisper.

I felt chilled, as if the temperature of the room had suddenly dropped.

“Who...who's there?” I stuttered timidly.

My ears, listening intently, heard nothing but the nearby forest rustling softly in the wind and rain.

Finally I shrugged dismissively. “Ugh, seriously, get a grip, you're imagining stupid things!”

Yet I slowly walked backwards out of the room, quickly shutting the door behind me.



Mmpratt99 deviantart (talk) 03:45, 20 September 2023 (UTC)


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2nd bumping up

Mmpratt99 deviantart (talk) 22:32, 28 September 2023 (UTC)



The new draft of this story is now up on the main wiki Other People's Houses You can leave a review at the new link.

Mmpratt99 deviantart (talk) 04:05, 8 October 2023 (UTC)

Raidra (talk) 16:47, 29 September 2023 (UTC)[]

I like both versions. This one expands a lot on the original and also explains a couple things that weren't in the original. I'm a little sad that one part changed "hippies" to "elves", but I get it. Some elves need to be taken down a peg or two. Raidra (talk) 16:47, 29 September 2023 (UTC)

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