The Black Pearls

The Strand, October, 1948

Today’s inspiration from the Time Capsule comes courtesy of The Strand, October 1948. I used captions of illustrations from several different stories in this edition of The Strand to start off a new story. The first five sentences as well as “a stealthy encroachment of chill into his bones” are borrowed captions.


The Strand, October, 1948

The Strand, October, 1948



Morley sprang up, dark-veined with rage.

Even Slick was startled. “It’s an impossible job,” he said.

The room was ice-cold and dark.

The figure on the bed came suddenly to life. “Did you not hear me? Go,” he ordered, sitting up and pointing a bony yet commanding finger at the door. “Get the Countess. Bring her here.”

“You’d put us in danger again, Squinty? You can’t ask us to bring the Countess here,” said Morley. “What about her bodyguards? And her husband’s spies? They’re everywhere. And they’re well-armed. Didn’t we go through enough getting hold of those pearls for you?”

“I said, bring her here.” Squinty sank back into his pillows.

Morley’s veins throbbed. The Countess! The rustle of her silken dress. The smooth slope of her bare shoulder. Her creamy neck. The string of black pearls around it! Each pearl a perfection!

Oh, how the very memory of those pearls caused a stealthy encroachment of chill into his bones.

“The Countess! The Countess! Always the Countess!” snarled Morley. “Why don’t you think of us for once?”

“You?” Squinty gave a feeble laugh. “Think of you?”

Morley ground his teeth, or what was left of them. He cursed the night he’d run into Squinty in a low-down tavern on the wharf. If only he could have foreseen how he’d end up paying for those free drinks!


I particularly enjoyed a section in The Strand called “Useless Information.” Did you know, for instance, that “The first Victoria Crosses were made of bronze obtained from Russian guns captured during the Crimean War”? Or that “In flight the wings of the common house-fly make more than 300 vibrations per second”? Or that, because of an earthquake “In 1158 the river Thames ‘was dryed uppe, that all London might walk over the same dry-shod'”?


Shrewd Dude – From The Horse’s Mouth

Woodbine Racetrack Program 5 June 1976

Inspiration from the Time Capsule: This week I pulled out the Woodbine Official Program from 5 June 1976. Our first summer in Toronto, our first time at the races there. I wondered if we’d put a bet on the horse called Em and S seeing as my husband’s name begins with M and mine with S.

What wonderful names the horses have – Henry the Hammer, Bye Bye Paris, Indigestion, Sharp Sherry, Creme of the Crop…



Henry the Hammer was a Shrewd Dude. He knew the fuss over Little Stanley would Blow Over. There was simply No Logic to all the outrage. It was probably Indigestion. They’d all had far too much Continue reading

The Red Coat

Brenda sits on the edge of the seat. She can’t lean back and relax. She knows she’ll have to move fast when the moment comes.

She longs to order another coffee but that would mean going to the counter and turning her back on the other tables in the café.

She’s far too warm. The weather report had said a maximum of -14, so she’d bundled up in her down coat. She has to keep it on, zippered right up, even though the café is over-heated. She has to be ready.

Only a couple of minutes left on her parking meter. She can’t leave. She’ll have to risk getting a ticket.

Then it happens and it’s all over. It must have been when she glanced at the newspaper the guy at the next table was reading. When she looked up, the woman had disappeared.

Brenda leaps to the door, rushes out, looks up and down the street. But there’s no sign of the red coat, the long swinging black scarf. Only the traffic warden, tucking a parking ticket behind the windshield wiper of Brenda’s car.

That hadn’t been the first time she’d tried to follow the red-coated woman. You’d think a red coat would make it easy.


Thursday Blurt 2017

Wesley the Robot

pointing hand at the Roger's Cup, Montreal 2016

Wesley the robot who, despite initial trepidation, turned out to have been engineered with a warm heart, did not like the green men visiting at night.

They made him squeamish, he said. That stuff inside them – their innards – was not normal. It was purply-red and gloopy instead of being nuts and bolts and tidy soldered pieces.

Jane and Julie both wanted out. They were Continue reading

New Horizons at the Blue Snail Convention

Blue Snails, Place des Spectacles, Montréal, July 2015

When Barry transmogrified into a blue snail he knew who was to blame: Alice. He was torn between admiration and fury. How amazing that she was able to turn a perfectly normal human being into a blue snail! But how infuriating that she’d chosen to use her special skill on him.

His first thought was to storm over to her place and beg her to change him back into a human but he wasn’t going to give her that satisfaction.

No, he’d Continue reading

The Package

1.26 by Janet Echelman. Montreal 2016

He dreams the only dream he has, which is to leave, go far from here because far from here he’ll be free. Free to earn a lot of money, free to spend it. That’s what freedom’s all about. He knows that from tv.

He dreams the only dream he has which is her. Fair or dark haired, he’s not sure which. Perhaps a red-head. Whoever she is, he knows her already, her light touch, her laugh, her eyes flecked golden in green, the way she stands right on the edge Continue reading

Defend Mars

Philip sat up in his armchair, punched a fist into the air and yelled “People of Mars take up arms and defend your planet.”

Jane turned the page of her glossy magazine and sighed. “Get out of here. It’s Saturday evening and I’m just not in the mood for…”

Philip got to his feet. “Jane?” he said. “J…J… What’s happ…happening? I feel…I feel…” Continue reading