Volume Three . . .Number Two
From the Gronicus Press -- Publishing Fantasy for over 30 years
Listen now! Can you hear it, those sounds of cheering adults and children yelling? Well, that's the soccer field just across the road. Our journey -- call it a story if you like -- starts here with two little girls, one of them Electra, just eight, the other, Raven, only five years old. That's their mother over there cheering on her older daughter Electra, as Raven, the little sister, clenches her fists. She can't wait until she's old enough to play. The girls are getting ready for a journey, a long one, but they don't know that yet.
Come on, let's go over and watch some of the game.
Father nodded, "Yep!" he said, "You might have. Next time though."
"Yeah!" groaned Electra, "Next time. It's always next time."
"Mommy" asked 5 year old Raven, "Where did Mrs. Juniper go when the ambulance took her today?"
"I'm afraid your friend is gone," said Mother.
You mean we won't see her any more?"
"That's right," replied Mother, "Mrs. Juniper has been taken away from us."
"And she won't be back, ever?"
"Well dear, she was, old and then she died. Remember, like your goldfish when they died and we buried them."
"Oh, yeah, you mean gone, that way."
"But, I don't like that, dying and going away, I mean."
"I'm sorry Raven."
"Time, that's what does it: Time."
"Will that happen to you and Daddy?"
"And to me and Electra?"
"Not for a long, long while."
"Can't we -- you know -- stop it, Time?"
"I don't think so dear."
"Has anybody ever tried?"
"Yes, I'm sure a lot of people have."
"Well Mommy, I'm going to stop Time. Then you and Daddy won't get old and go away."
"You don't have to worry about that dear; we're not going away."
"But you said . . . "
"Goodness! How did we ever get started on this conversation?"
Father smiled and shrugged, "Just like all the other times, I guess."
They finished their pizza and drove home. Father went into the meditation room and took down his guitar and began playing. Then, one at a time, Mother, then Electra, and finally Raven came in to sit down and listen. "Play for me Daddy," said Electra.
Father nodded and waited as Mother found a comfortable place on the
rug and Raven crawled onto her lap. Then father strummed his guitar and
sang a song of the cat and the fiddle and the cow who jumped over the moon
and how all the people in the town came out to watch and shout . . ."
"Play for me," begged Raven.
"Okay!" laughed father to reassuring smiles from mother, as he sang of frogs and princesses in the olden days. When he had finished Raven asked her mother, "Mommy, What does it mean to be older? Am I different than I was last year? I mean, not just bigger, but different?"
Father laughed, "Here we go again," he said as he began another lively tune.
Electra yawned and went to her room to draw as Father continued strumming. Raven and her mother listened for a while and then they too got up and Mother went into the kitchen. Raven wandered around the house like she didn't quite know what to do with herself. After a while she walked into her sister's room. "I'm stopping Time," said Raven.
Electra looked down at her own wristwatch, "Well, don't stop mine," she said.
"I want to go to the library and Mother said she'd take me in an hour."
"But do you want to get old and die?" asked Raven.
"Not in an hour sister. Maybe in a hundred years."
"How long is a hundred years?"
"A very, very, long time."
"Can I see it?"
"Hmmm!" replied Electra, "That's an interesting question, can you see time? I don't know. But they do have a clock at the library that's a hundred years old."
"Then we CAN see Time," smiled Raven, "I'm going to the library with you."
"Hello Mr. Balonie," said Electra. Raven added her own voice, almost as an echo, "Hello Mr. Balonie, we're going to see the "one hundred year clock."
"Well that's a mighty fine clock, but it was better before it stopped."
"Oh!" said Raven. "Then it has no more Time left in it?"
"That's right, at least for that clock, unless somebody fixes it."
"Oh no! No!" replied Raven, "Let it stay stopped."
"So we won't get old."
"I see. But, you know, even if you stopped all the clocks, you couldn't
stop Time," said Mr. Balonie, "Look up there. See, the sun is a clock.
And at night the stars themselves are clocks."
"Yes, all of them, every one."
Raven looked sad. "I couldn't stop all of them," she said, "There's just too many and I'd get tired."
"That's right," said Mr. Balonie, "And if you stopped them then we wouldn't get to see all our constellation friends up there -- like my old buddy Draco the dragon."
"You mean "our" Draco is a constellation?" gasped Raven, her mouth opening wide in wonder.
"That's right," said Mr. Balonie.
"Oh! I wouldn't want to hurt him or to lose him," said Raven, "He's my friend."
"He's been a friend to a lot of you kids, for many years," said Mr. Balonie.
"Let's go see him," said Electra.
"Okay! Bye Mr. Balonie. See you later."
"Bye girls, give Draco . . . and the clock my regards."
"We've come to see the 100 year old clock," said Electra, "Raven wanted to see it."
"It's a very fine clock," replied Draco. "Too bad its broken."
"I wanted to stop Time," said Raven, "but Mr. Balonie said it would keep us from seeing you, if I did."
Draco grunted and said, "As long as the Earth rotates you'll see the constellations."
"Oh! Then tell us about Time," asked Raven? "What is it? What is it like? Can you taste it or smell it? Can you touch it?"
"Ha! ha!" chortled the dragon, "Yes! yes to all those things. Time makes the seasons and the seasons make things grow, food, flowers, trees, little girls. So you can touch them and taste them and smell the flowers too. Or, if they're little girls, you can tickle their toes and make them laugh."
"Oh," smiled Raven, "Then Time is good too?"
"Yes, of course" replied the dragon, "Without Time nothing would change. You'd be five years old forever and your sister wouldn't ever get to be nine."
"It's confusing," added Raven, "I don't think I'd like that very much."
"Let's go visit the clock," said Electra.
"Okay, see you later Draco," said Raven.
The dragon nodded and lowered his head then slowly closed his great
eyelids. He yawned and before the children were out of the room he was
The little girls walked quietly down the first aisle and came to a dark-man, standing, as if guarding the clock. "Hello," whispered Electra, "We'd like to look at the clock. Can we?"
The man stared down at the two girls. "What do you want from Celestron?" he asked in a grumpy voice.
"Oh! That's its name. We only want to look and see what a one hundred year old clock looks like," said Electra.
Electra shrugged, "My little sister wants to know, that's all."
"You want something from Celestron. Tell me, what is it?"
"I . . . I wanted to stop Time," whispered Raven, "but I don't
think I do anymore."
"Couldn't we just take a quick look?" said Electra, "for my sister."
"Well, all right then, but don't look too deeply into his innards, you might find more than you bargained for."
"Oh we won't. We promise," said Electra.
"What do you see in there?" asked Raven.
"I don't know. It's hard to tell," answered Electra, "What do YOU see?"
"It's kind of dark down there but I think I see an old lady, sitting in her rocking chair."
"That's what I see too," replied Electra, "She's knitting something. I wonder who she is?"
"Do you think she'd hear us, if we talked to her?"
"We can try."
"Hello, hello down there."
There was silence for a moment but then the old woman in the rocking chair at the bottom of the clock, put aside her knitting and looked up. She replied, "Yes, children, I hear you. What do you want?"
"Are you Celestron?" asked Electra.
"No! No I'm not," replied the old woman. "Have you come to visit me?"
"Well, maybe . . ." replied Electra, "If we knew who you were.".
"Good, then you can come in. Just pull on the frame and it will open."
Electra hesitated. She whispered to her sister, "Do you think we should?"
Raven rolled her eyes as she shook her head and replied, "I don't know . . . "
Electra was fascinated by the old woman in the clock. "I think we might," she said to Raven as she reached for the wooden frame and slowly opened the door to the innards of the clock. "Go ahead," she said to her sister.
"You go first," answered Raven . . .
Then Electra remembered the warning of the dark-man, "What if she won't let us out?" she said to Raven.
Raven turned to the clock. "You will let us out, won't you?"
"Of course," replied the old woman, "You're only coming for a visit, not to live here. Besides its too small in here for you to stay long."
"I guess its okay," she said to her sister. "Then you go first," said
Electra put a hand on her sister's shoulder and pulled her back, "On second thought," she said, "Maybe we shouldn't go down there. Mother said we shouldn't talk to strangers."
Raven stepped back, "Oh yeah!" she exclaimed, "that's right."
"Come on down children," coaxed the old crone, "Tea is almost ready and there are sweet cakes with candy filling waiting."
Raven gulped and looked up at Electra. "Do you think we could just go in for a little while?"
Electra bit on her own lower lip as she considered the thought. "No," she replied, "Mother would get mad, I know it."
"Just for some cake," pleaded Raven, her hand on the clock door.
"Well maybe," relented Electra . . .
Suddenly a hand, old and gnarly, reached from within the clock and grabbed
Raven by the wrist, pulling her into the clock. Raven gasped. The startled
Electra was horrified to see her sister disappear into the bowels of the
clock. "No! You can't have her," she yelled and grabbed for Raven but missed
and instead tumbled into the clock and rolled down the stairs to fall in
a heap with her sister. The two girls looked up at the old crone.
Electra looked up towards the entranceway through which they had fallen but the stairs were gone. "You can't keep us here," she said, "I'll . . . ."
"You'll what?" cackled the crone, "Go ahead, try it."
Raven did just that. She screamed for her mother at the top of her voice. Then, almost in tears when nobody answered, she turned back to the crone and stuck out her tongue. "All right," said Electra, "We'll have your tea and cakes. Then will you let us out?"
"We'll see dearies, we'll see," said the crone, pouring two cups of tea into little cups on saucers.
"I like milk in my tea," said Raven.
"Oh course my dear," cooed the crone, "and two sugars too I presume."
Electra sipped her tea, "This tea is very strong," she said, "Could you put some water in it?"
"Certainly my honeys, anything you like, and here have some sweet cakes too."
Raven took one and had a bite. "Ummm! They are good," she said with a yawn. Electra too felt tired and sleepy.
"Oh dear," smirked the crone, "perhaps its time for the wee little girls to have a nap. Feel free to stretch out, right there on the floor, catch a few winks. When you wake up, I'll send you home, maybe."
"Of course," said the crone, holding her hand behind her back with her fingers crossed, "Of course."
"What do you want from us?" asked Electra, putting her head down on the table.
"Just a little of your time," smirked the crone, "just a little . . . "
"Oh!" murmured Electra as she joined her sleeping sister, both of their heads cradled in their arms on the table.
How long the girls slept they couldn't imagine but when they woke up they were in a big room filled with clocks. "Where are we?" asked Raven. "I wish I knew," replied Electra, getting up from her place on the ground. "The question is how do we get out of here."
"Are we still in the clock?"
"If we are then it's a pretty big clock."
"What do you want?" said Electra.
"Nothing much," said the crone, "Just a little of your time."
"Here's what I want," said the crone, "You can go out of here and find a clock maker and have him come back here to fix this clock. Since it stopped I've been stuck here, year after year, not getting older or anything. Now, when the clock is fixed I want you to tell the clock maker to make it run backwards."
"To reverse time you ninny. So I'll get younger instead of older."
Electra shook her head in disgust. "It doesn't work that way," she said, "If it did then everybody would turn their clocks back and get younger."
"Aah! But that's in the world outside the clock," said the crone, "Inside the clock time is different. And besides this isn't an ordinary clock you know. It was made by a magician many, many eons ago."
"Oh!" replied Electra, taking her sister by the hand. "All right then we'll find a clock maker. Come on Raven, let's go."
"No! no!" that's not the plan," said the crone, "The little girl stays here, with me, until you come back."
"No way!" said Electra, "but what if I bring back my Father and Mother,
or the police?"
"I wish we'd listened to Mother," said Raven, "she was right. Do you think she'll be mad at us?"
They were interrupted then by a sudden noise and into the room strode Mr. Balonie, "Come on girls, follow me." Electra ran to the man and the three of them flew toward the door. "We have to hurry," said Mr. Balonie, "if that witch uses her magic before we get out of here . . . " "What! what are you doing here!" growled the crone, "Get out of here, at once."
"Okay, we will. There! There's the stairs," he said, "Come on! Faster!"
They had almost made it to the first step when suddenly the stairs turned into a gaping mouth with a long purple tongue as a carpet. The trio skidded to a halt. "Oh! oh!" said Mr. Balonie, "Too late. We're in trouble now. Come on, we'll try to find another way. Hurry up! Someone's coming!"
As they started off down one hallway a door opened. Mr. Balonie stopped and held the girls back. A head appeared from the doorway, a thin man, dressed in blue and wearing a tall hat. "Come through here," said the man, "Quickly, before they catch you."
Mr. Balonie nodded and went forward. Electra put her hand on his arm.
"Can we trust him?" she asked.
"Thanks Marcel," said Mr. Balonie. "Let's try again," he said as he took a long rod from the floor and used it as a prybar. As the hatman, Marcel, went back toward the front all three labored to open the door. Finally it budged, just an inch. "That's it! Keep pushing," said Mr. Balonie and the door opened a little further. "That's enough, squeeze through." The girls went first, Electra, then Raven and finally Mr. Balone who had a more difficult time; but he managed at last, with the help of the girls, to get out. "Now, let's close that door and get out of here," he said.
At a run, Mr. Balonie led them down one tunnel and into another and finally they had to stop for breath. "It's no use," he said, "We're lost. Too bad we weren't quite fast enough at the stairs. But at least I found you both in time . . . "
"I'm sorry I couldn't run faster," said Raven.
"Oh, its not your fault little one. But, we really are in a pickle here."
"Isn't it a clock?" smiled Raven.
"That's it little girl," said Mr. Balonie, "Keep up your sense of humor. That will help."
"What do we do now?" asked Electra.
Mr. Balonie shrugged. "That's a good question," he said.
"But why did she pick us?" asked Electra, "I mean lots of kids go to the library and look at the clock. Why us?"
"It's not that," replied Mr. Balonie, "This is a special time in the world, the New Year is almost here, the Century is changing and greater than that is The New Millennium, the next thousand years. Margrek's magic is most powerful now."
"Is she -- Margrek -- I mean, a witch?" asked Raven.
"Yes, a most powerful witch," replied Mr. Balonie, "a witch who wants to rule Time. Once she almost controlled the world, the enchanted world that is, but she was stopped a long time ago."
"Who stopped her?"
"Well, Margrek used her evil power to control all of us trolls, and the other creatures of the woods. We were under her spell, hypnotized you might say to do her bidding. When, out of nowhere, down from the hills came the piper, playing his wonderful and strange music. The magic of the piper, his music quieted the hills and put the clock -- the witch's clock -- to sleep and brought us all awake."
"But where did the piper go?"
"When all was well he went back to the hills, back to his home, I guess
and we never saw him again. But that was long ago."
"That's right, but there aren't many pipers around anymore."
"We can find one," said Raven, "I know a boy who plays the bagpipes."
"Yes, my friend Richie's cousin. Jared, he's a piper. This piper's little, but he's good, real good."
"So how do we get him to come here?" asked Electra.
"First we've got to find a way out of this grandfather clock," said Mr. Balonie, "and that isn't going to be easy."
"Come on," said Raven, "Let's go find a way."
Together the three of them went down the tunnels, searching for a way
out of the dimension of the clock.
Now, I want you to meet some other folks, not humans, but trolls, actually elf-trolls, who've just lost their home, or should I call it bridge? Never mind. In the next story you'll meet them and see where their journey takes them. Oh! What became of the girls? Never mind, you'll hear from them again, I promise. But, that's later on.
Have a good day; and may the trolls bring an umbrella.
Go to: Time Enough For Chapter 2