TODAY IS KALLISTA'S BIRTHDAY!
HAPPY SWEET SIXTEEN!
And so to celebrate I wrote you this story. I hope you enjoy it. Have a fantastic day my love.
A Birthday Dilemma
The Purple Poet set down his quill and stared lovingly at the pages of parchment, where the ink had danced its way across them in a flourish of carefully crafted words. He breathed in deeply, inhaling the scent of his craft. And then he looked up into the eyes of his love, a beautiful girl with cornflower blue eyes and hair as black as a raven’s wing. He smiled at her and handed her the poem, grinning wider as her eyes widened in joy. Octaboona leaned in to kiss her graceful cheeks and her perfect lips. Kallista closed her eyes and-
Joseph opened his eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling. He rolled over in bed, getting tangled in the duvet. He groaned and pulled the cover over his head, trying to regain the wonderful feeling of the distant dream. “If only it was real” he mumbled before sitting bolt upright in bed, banging his head on the low ceiling as he did so. “Ow!” he cried. And then he screamed with joy. It was a sunny, cold day in the middle of November, a few months into his gap year. He’d spent all the previous summer working as a waiter to earn enough money. And then he’d had the good fortune to win first prize in a prestigious poetry competition. The summer had been spent with his family touring Europe, the last holiday that they would have together. And so this year was the year he embarked on his Blogger Tour of the World. The year would be spent travelling the world and visiting his many blogger friends. It was going to be a wonderful year. A year to look back on when old and grey and sitting besides the fire. He was going to see the beauty of nature, the ingenuity of humanity and best of all experience it with true friends. And the first stop he was making was a little town in the north of Michigan.
Joseph smiled and started jumping up and down. He was unbelievably excited. After a long plane journey he was finally here. He looked at the thousands of cherry trees that grew along the shore of the peninsula, each overloaded with pinky-white blossom, petals of beauty and fragrance. And as the wind blew in from the southern shores of Lake Michigan, the cherry blossom swirled and danced in a miniature shower, coating Joseph’s hair and shoulders with them. He grinned and knocked on the door of a nearby house. A teenage girl came to the door, smiling in an absent minded kind of way. She blew a strand of hair out of her face, adjusted her glasses and looked up from her bare feet.
Joseph cleared his throat and in a voice trembling with happiness managed to speak a few words.
“Kallista it’s me Octaboona!”
She stared at him blankly for a while and then said
“I think you’ve got the wrong house, there’s no one called Kallista here.”
“So that’s how you’re playing it is it?”
“Michelle, look I know it’s you!”
“I don’t know you! And how do you know my name?”
Her voice lost its casual, lost tourist friendliness and started to rise in pitch and shrillness.
“But it’s me! Joseph! The Purple Poet! Octaboona Ambrosius?” He frowned. “We’ve known each other on Derek Landy’s blog for over three years! My favourite colour is purple and I write poetry remember?
He cleared his throat and started to recite:
“A goddess amongst human kind
With skin as pale as snow
Whose eyes of ice stared harshly down
At all that lay below”
Michelle showed no sign of recognition.
Joseph started on another poem.
“As we danced in the moonlight
We suddenly knew
Our love for each other
Was real and true”
Michelle began to back away.
“How can you not remember? Kallista’s Feast? Gossamer Threads?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know who you are! And you’re creeping me out here. I mean calling me an evil goddess and saying that you love me. We’ve never even met let alone danced in the moonlight!”
“But I came especially for you. You’re 18 today! We were going to celebrate!”
“How do you know my birthday? Are you a stalker? Stop stalking me! Leave me alone!”
“But... we’ve been married on the blog for two years! I love you!”
“You’re a freak! A weird romantic crazy freak!”
Tears were pouring down Joseph’s face.
“And what’s with the ridiculously obvious fake names? Kallista? Octoobana? Those are some really stupid names!”
“Why are you doing this? Don’t you remember me? What about Skulduggery Pleasant? And Derek Landy?”
“Is that some Scottish name?”
“No it’s an Irish author. He’s your favourite. He writes about a skeleton detective.”
“What’s happened to you?”
“Well some crazy freak believes he’s married to me. And he knows all about me. Are you a paedophile? That’s just low. Disgusting. I mean I have a son!”
“Benjamin, I know. You made me his godfather remember?”
Michelle’s face turned stony. “You stay away from me! Don’t you dare come near my child!”
She suddenly screamed for her dad. But no one came.
Her voice turned sad. “No one loves me. No one has ever been there for me. Not my parents not anyone. They just don’t care.”
“I care! I love you! Something’s wrong. I’m going to help. Somehow I’ll do it.”
Michelle’s face was vacant as she slammed shut the door.
“Your poetry sucks!”
That stung. Badly.
Many miles away two people sat hunched over a screen watching the confrontation, ignoring the frenzied bustling of scientists behind them”
“MAF 42 successfully implemented.”
“Octaboona’s identity confirmed.”
“Subject is definitely him”
“All three names known?”
“Knowledge of blog events during the last three years?”
“Recited accurately from one of his poems?”
“Check. Two in fact”
“Confirmed. This person is definitely Octaboona Ambrosius”
“Yet he should already have been subjugated along with his brother”
“It appears that he is rouge”
“No recognition of Ambrosius at all”
The two figures continued to talk amidst flashing screens, blogger profiles, and the clamour of many white coated figures. And in a large glass tank behind them, a red warning light flashed. The ninja leprechaun army still had one active member. The hunt was on.
Joseph sat down and cried. It had all gone terribly wrong. Kallista was supposed to be overjoyed, they’d hug and talk and go out for dinner. Kallista would have ordered the most ridiculous things in a very posh tone. “I’d like to order one broccoli and gorgonzola muffin and a glass of your best diet water please.” He could almost see the expression on the waiter’s face. She was going to accompany him on his travels to meet his blog friends; they would have one shining year together. He fully expected to have at least one chase with police cars. Yet she had brutally turned him down. She didn’t even remember him. And she had insulted his poetry. Joseph would have to travel alone.
He smiled a small sad smile as a line of poetry passed through his head.
“Better by far you should forget and smile.
Than that you should remember and be sad”
“Christina Rossetti” Joseph identified the poet immediately.
“If only it were so. Trust fate to twist it around.”
“What’s the point anymore?” he thought.
“Maybe if I can tell them what’s wrong they’ll be able to help me?” he pondered.
Yet as the weeks went by it became obvious that this problem was far worse than it seemed. None of the bloggers recognized him. In fact they all displayed savage hatred towards him. Skyril had thrown the chocolate chip cookies he made at him. Ann Marie threatened to run him over with her tractor and screamed at him to stay away from her children. Mar, Mir and Thalia chased him away with a frying pan. And Lizzy shot him in the shoulder with the Pink. His tour of Britain and Australia bore similar results. Quinnera and Bryony pelted him with mangoes whilst yelling “butt trumpet!” at him. Hellboy told him he didn’t care that they shared a name and to leave him alone. He decided not to visit Dragona as he wasn’t sure if he’d survive that encounter. And when he returned home he found Pyro and Chan sitting on his bed and glaring at him with hatred. “You’re no brother of mine!” still rang in his ears. Wherever he went, the bloggers had been transformed, all knowledge of Skulduggery Pleasant erased with a feral hatred replacing it. It suddenly dawned on Joseph.
“Someone has managed to eradicate the ninja leprechaun army. They’ve left our Golden God almost defenceless. Something terrible is going on. Someone is going after Derek Landy...”
It was a beautiful evening in Dublin. The cool wind blew and the river Liffey gleamed wetly in the blackness. The streets glowed warmly and Derek Landy was out for a stroll. He chuckled as he walked over the Ha’penny Bridge, the words “Troll below?” etched into the stonework. He turned towards St. Stephens Green and started whistling “The Girl from Ipanema” Suddenly three masked strangers loomed up out of the shadows and wrapped a handkerchief soaked with chloroform around Derek’s face. He attempted to fend them off using Krav Maga, but he was already feeling drowsy. Suddenly the blackness rushed upon him and he dropped to the ground unconscious. The last thought to enter his mind was “Some ninja leprechaun army they are.”
Michelle sighed and slumped against a wall as she listened to her dad lecturing her on time wasting. “What were you doing answering the door and chatting all day? Don’t you realise you have the lawn to rake of leaves and you still haven’t made the beds! And who’s going to make dinner? You really don’t think do you? Instead you just spend time talking to strangers!”
Michelle longed to interrupt, to tell him that she had been harassed by some freaky boy and wouldn’t a little comfort be nice? Maybe even a hug? But no, she thought bitterly, all they do is complain.
“And the shame you could bring on the family! How many boys must you see before you realise they don’t love you.” He tailed off obviously too embarrassed to mention something.
“Now dinner! Go! Now!”
Derek groaned and opened his eyes. He blinked blearily and tried to clear his head. “Where am I?” he muttered.
“The primary subject is in a conscious state” reported a white clad scientist.
Derek looked around, wondering who had kidnapped him. The only people he could see were a group of white coated scientists and a six year old boy who sat looking imperiously down from the lofty heights of a blue armchair covered with pictures of spider man.
The six year old boy cleared his throat and announced dramatically “We meet at last!”
Derek looked at him questioningly. “Err... and who are you?”
“I am your mortal enemy! The bringer of your doom!”
“That’s so lame. No one has mortal enemies anymore!”
The little boy consulted a brightly coloured book labelled “How to be a Scary Super-villain”
“Enough of your grovelling!”
“I wasn’t grovelling; I was questioning your villain sense”
He pointed a chubby finger at Derek and motioned for quiet.
“As I was saying I am the bringer of your doom! I have successfully kidnapped you, deactivated your pathetic insert name of army here, and left you entirely at my mercy!”
“My ninja leprechaun army?”
“No your insert name of army here!”
“But my army is named the ninja leprechaun army.”
The boy’s top lip wobbled.
“If you don’t mind me asking who’s the real mastermind here? I mean it must take an enemy of great cunning to defeat my ninja leprechaun army. You’re just a six year old boy...”
“Six and three quarters actually!”
“Hardly very threatening though.”
The boy scowled.
“I am the mastermind around here!”
“Well.... ok. I guess we can pretend for now.”
“Yes dear. Now my next question...”
“I’m the one asking the questions around here!”
“As I was saying, how did you manage to deactivate my ninja leprechaun army?”
“Using my Mind Altering Fungus Prototype 42”
“It’s a mushroom!”
“Fungus sounds better!”
There was a short silence.
“Mushroom” Derek whispered.
The boy’s face was growing red.
“Ok. So somehow you used a magic mushroom to take over the minds of my minions... and then chloroformed me and took me to your... what do you call this place?
The boy consulted his book.
“My top secret underground lair”
“But it has windows letting in sunlight. We’re obviously above ground.”
“I’m sorry, but that name’s just ridiculous.”
“You can talk”
“Well you have a ridiculous.... umm.... name!”
“Yes. Totally ridiculous.”
“Very rude of you, not introducing yourself...”
“The name is Spookygeddon Scary-boy III”
“Did you come up with that all by yourself?
“I guessed as much.”
“Stop talking would you? I’m about to announce why I kidnapped you!”
Derek placed a finger on his lips and nodded mock-seriously, a chuckle threatening to break out.
“I have kidnapped you, Master Landy, because I am your number one fan!”
Derek looked confused.
“You have no means of escape. This top secret underground lair is 100% escape proof! No one can enter of exit without my knowledge or permission!”
It was at that moment that a tall figure wrapped in a gleaming purple cloak burst through the door proclaiming “It is I, Octaboona! I have come to rescue you!”
Several hours previously Joseph had just visited Darkane Claw. The visit was short and culminated in a chase through the streets of Dublin. For a girl with local knowledge of the city who trained daily for athletics competitions it was hardly surprising that it took a short time to catch up with him and push him into the river Liffey. And so it was that floating miserably downstream Joseph washed up beneath the Ha’penny Bridge and overheard the commotion above. He emerged dripping from the river just in time for him to see Derek being bundled into the back of a van. A peculiarly familiar van at that. Suddenly he made up his mind. There was one person who hadn’t abandoned him. One person who needed his help. And so Joseph stood and yelled into the night. “My name is Octaboona Ambrosius! I shall not let my friends go! I live to serve my Golden God! IT’S NOT OVER YET!” And thus reinvigorated Octaboona chased after the van.
“But how did you know I was here? Derek asked?
“Because this is where George was most likely to be.” Octaboona pointed to the little boy.
“You know this guy?”
“I’ve known him for years.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“I was best friends with his brother. We even went out for a few months. Then we broke up and he went over to the dark side.” Octaboona nodded sadly. “They just make better cookies than I do.”
Derek looked up sceptically.
“He was suffering from a broken heart?”
Derek continued to stare.
“Alright alright, I’m not the best judge of character.”
So he’s the mastermind behind this?
Well... not really. He’s actually spending the weekend in Paris.
“No, he needs to buy some components for his Death Star.”
“Ahh.” Derek nodded understandingly.
“But he did develop the mind mushrooms.”
“Mind altering fungus!” a small voice shrieked.
And then. “How did you get past the guards?”
George pointed to a bunch of papers. Octaboona looked through them. “Schematics for lair, growth solution for mushrooms, addresses of ninja leprechaun army.”
“Oh George. You’re supposed to insert the sulphuric acid pit here not there.” He pointed to a rectangle labelled guard room. “The guards will have been dissolved.”
George looked in horror.
“You... you mean they’re dead?”
“I’m afraid so.”
George screamed and then vomited over the side of the armchair.
Derek and Octaboona looked on in a mixture of pity and disgust.
“What I still don’t understand is why George kidnapped me?”
“Or for that matter exactly how.”
Octaboona walked over to one of the scientists and examined his fingernails.
“As I thought. Completely blue. He’s under the control of the mind fungus. They must have been conditioned by his brother. George found these plans and ordered them to build the lair and to travel the world infecting the ninja leprechaun army. It was only a matter of luck that I wasn't infected myself. I guess my tour around the world saved me from being infected. They must have gotten Pyro just after I left."
“So he used a bunch of hypnotised scientists to achieve his plan, I get that. That explains how this whole thing happened. But I still don’t understand why?”
George piped up. “Because I’m your number one fan!”
“And you’ve always ignored me! I went to your signing! You only signed one of my books. You didn’t give me a hug. You said you were under time restrictions but how couldn’t you make time for your number one fan?”
“And all those competitions I entered. I didn’t win one! Not one!” he sobbed.
George sniffed loudly and looked back at his book.
“So these are my conditions! I want you to give me a hug! I want you to write me into a Skulduggery book. In fact I want to marry Valkyrie. He thought for a moment. And Tanith!”
“And then you’ll let me go?”
Derek reached out a hand.
They shook hands.
“And you have to be my slave for a whole day!” George gabbled quickly before letting go of his hand.
Derek groaned. Octaboona laughed.
“Caught out by a six year old!”
Derek deigned not to respond.
Octaboona’s face turned serious.
“What about my friends George?”
“What... what about them?”
“Well you’ve filled them up with hatred for me. You’ve taken away their love of Skulduggery. Hundreds of lives have been twisted by that mushroom. What will you do about that?”
“What did you say?”
“Shan’t. You took my brother away from me! It was always Joseph this and Joseph that and isn’t he wonderful? He stopped thinking of me. He wouldn’t read me stories at night. He didn’t care about me at all!”
“But he never read you stories before we went out. He’s evil? Remember?”
“And you’re still being mean to him! Just because he dumped you!”
“Well what about those Death Star components?”
“It’s a model, idiot. You can’t make a real Death Star.”
“Darth Vader did. And he’s still evil. He developed that mushroom. Made plans for an evil lair”
George thought for a moment.
“Oh yeah... but still. Not letting your friends free.”
“Look, I’ve had enough of this now. I’m not going to talk to you any longer. Derek and I we’re leaving. Six year olds just don’t make particularly effective villains.”
And then he walked over to a giant red button protruding from the floor and stepped on it.
The tank containing the sickly white fungus suddenly burst into flames.
“Wasn’t that a bit too easy?”
“He’s a six year old villain. Of course he’s going to have an obvious self destruct button somewhere! Like I said, not very hard to defeat.”
“Well I suppose you have a point”
And so saying, Octaboona and Derek walked out of the compound.
George sat amidst the ruins of his “underground” lair muttering darkly into his sleeve.
“You may have bested me this time Octaboona but I shall have my revenge!” He started on an evil laugh but was interrupted by the arrival of his mother.
“Come on George, you’ve played enough today. It’s bedtime!”
“Oh mummy. Five more minutes?”
It was a sunny day in a small town in the north of Michigan. Joseph approached the door and knocked. A teenage girl answered it.
“Michelle?” he spoke hesitantly.
The sound of her voice echoed loudly across the lake, startling a flock of birds out of the cherry trees and causing ripples to spread across the deep blue water.
The girl grinned widely and gave him a giant hug and a noogie.
“Call me Kallista my dear boy!”