avalon2020 Being the Diary extracts of a father and his son in the world known to all as, the Looking-Glass Earth.
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Being the Diary extracts of a father and his son in the world known to all as, the Looking-Glass Earth.
By Rob Sharp
avalon2020 Whisperings, & Anthony Leibowitz ÂŠ Rob Sharp 2013 All rights reserved The right for Robert Sharp to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Further information can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
There have only been two curators of the strange; Mordecai Leibowitz, a disillusioned Jewish Rabbi born sometime in the 17th Century and his son, Anthony. Collecting (some would say stealing) the forgotten treasures of ages past and locking them away where the bad guys can’t find them. Which is an excellent way of making many varid enemies! Whisperings is an introduction to both their worlds, leading into the Amerikan Dreams series of short stories and novellas. It is roughly the year 1999. The whole New Millenium thing is just around the corner and Anthony Leibowitz, known to the secret world as Leibowitz the Younger, is trying not to get too giddy. On celebrating his 127th birthday, he has decided it is time to discover what really happened to his father, all those years ago. Having lived in the shadow of his late papa for over a century, the last he saw of Mordecai Leibowitz was his corpulant shape being lifted up into the sky, in the claw of a gigantic Roc, a bird from ancient mythology, as the creature flew through a crack in the sky. Whether his father is dead or alive, he has no idea. Having inherited the family collection of the esoteric, the magical and the strange, and then building on it since that sad day, the curator’s collection is now second-to-none. Which is why every sorcerer, mountebank and immortal want to get their hands on it. As Anthony sets about on his quest (often aided and abetted by a variety of fair-weather friends) he has to decide whether to use certain items from the grand collection, rather than just dust them off and lable them. At heart a pacifist, a born collector, and (to quote his best friend, soldier-of-fortune, Yory Keighley) piss-poor wi’ women, he stumbles from one revelation to the next in the chronicle of stories entitled, Amerikan Dreams.
Beyond Whisperings, there are further sets of short stories on Kindle, with more to come. Hopefully, you’ll search them out!
t’s the scratching behind the wainscot that leaves scars on a house. The fluttering of invisible wings when something is trapped in the chimney. The unseen events as vermin come and go from a dwelling; leaving the edges nibbled and trails of dried faeces marking where they have been. History is very similar, made from the whisperings between the epic events, the calm before, during and after the storm. Its structure riddled with the unknown and in some cases, the unwanted conversations of individuals who make a difference. Who play the Game. Listen to the passing of days. Concentrate on what Time says. Just occasionally, it may talk some sense.
18th November 1960 The Queen was drunk again. Leaning back in her ornate royal seat, a Cuban cigar dangling precariously from her delicate fingers, she squinted at the three kings she held in her hand, nestled next to a nine of spades and a three of hearts. “I’ll match you Kent for your Colorado… and raise you Cardiff,” HRH finally decided, pushing the bone markers into the middle of the pot.
“I’m not accepting Cardiff. What the hell use is a Welsh town to me? Stick to southern Albion or fold,” grunted the wizened old guy in the wheelchair. “Bugger. Make it Portsmouth then…” “Are you sure about this, Liz?” her partner in cards queried. Elizabeth was a practised bluffer when she had the best part of a bottle of 1814 Napoleon Brandy warming her insides. The trouble was, her royal genes never allowed her to quit, even when she had been dealt a duff hand. Rule Britannia and all that malarkey. “You are such a woman, Commander Future!” the Queen hiccoughed slightly. “This is the Imperial Consort of Humanity you are addressing… One knows how to play fucking Poker!” She dropped a pile of ash from her cigar on the green baize of the tablecloth and brushed it impatiently away. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!” snapped the British Monarch. “Game too rich for you, Ares?” The Hereditary Ruler of the World coughed as one of his beautiful, fetish clad assistants held the oxygen mask to his face for a few seconds, then wiped the perspiration from his brow with a soft cloth. For one of the last Anunnaki alive in the secret world, those dread immortals that had ruled mankind from the shadows since Krom only knew when, the old feller wasn’t faring very well. That was what seventeen separate assassination attempts in the 20th century alone did for one.
“I’ll match Portsmouth with Boston… and see you,” he eventually wheezed. “Ho-ho!” chortled HRH, cigar clenched between her teeth and that tight familiar 1940’s hairstyle just a little disarrayed. “Get the papers drawn up, baby! Mother England is taking back what has always been hers!” She slapped her cards down on the table, totally overconfident of her victory. “Read them and weep, you old douche bag!” Ares, or as he preferred to be called in the company of lesser mortals, Viktor Helmuth Bast, took some time fumbling with his cards, but the old goat was relishing his double bluff. Neatly, he finally laid out his three Aces over Queen Elizabeth’s hand. “Mine, I believe!” he cackled, clawing in the ancient bone tokens to add to his previous winnings. “We can draw a line slightly south of Birmingham and declare all lands below this border as now belonging to the United States of Amerika. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome if you please, Albion – the 51st State!” The assembled stooges gave Ares a polite round of applause, as the designated referee stepped forward into the light and examined the markers. “Hells bells! One was robbed!” cried the Queen and nearly fell backwards off her chair. As blonde quiffed Commander Future, looking quite dapper in his latest Carnaby Street fashions, caught her before she hit the deck, he gave the referee a worried grin. “This can’t be legal… can it?” Dressed in sombre black, as was his signature style, Anthony Leibowitz scrutinised a dog-eared document that covered these ridiculous gambles. A little something Henry XIII had drafted for such an occasion.
“Allowing the losing party six months grace to win said territories back… I’m afraid it’s perfectly legal,” he said, pulling a sour face. “I think one is going to be sick…” quavered HRH, and several flustered members of the Order of Humanity helped her away to find the ladies powder room. So this was how Amerika allegedly gained control of the south of England. Except for two things that slightly marred the occasion. The first being, that the Queen signed her portion of the land transference deeds with the flourish of, ‘Mickey Mouse’. The second being, on completion of said deeds, in the ensuing scuffle between Ares’s Amazon concubines and HRH’s bodyguards, someone nicked off with the document and it was never seen again. In most of these cases when Johnny Future, self-confessed temporal meddler and all round dodgy geezer had been present at such an historical occasion, all fingers pointed at him. But this time it was the referee that walked out of the Tower of London with the papers concealed up one jacket sleeve. To this day it is presumed by the various covert agencies that secretly rule the Looking-Glass Earth, that this bit of ill-advised nonsense was spirited away to join Leibowitz’s private collection of the strange. Whatever the fate of that document, from that day forward the south of England was considered in some circles to be the 51st State. But in his acquisition of the only factual proof, Anthony Leibowitz’s long-lost father would have been proud of him. As the self-proclaimed curator of the strange, the business of collecting weird stuff was never just black and white. Both father and son in their day had trodden a very shaky
line between the two. Sometimes it was the best course of action to be the pick-pocket on the scene, rather than the action-hero. Besides… The 51st State declaration looked cool on Anthony’s House wall, along with all the other purloined documents, pimped, permanently borrowed or purchased on eBay. Leibowitz was the collector’s collector after all! Hopefully, that last disaster would curb HRH’s gambling habit mused Anthony – but he wouldn’t have put money on it. As he straightened the framed document in the hall of that secret building grifters knew universally as, the House, Anthony Leibowitz smiled to himself and went inside to make a nice cup of strong tea. 51st State indeed. What ever next; a quick visit to the Tower of Babel? The smile slipped a tad as he realised he shouldn’t tempt the laws of probability, because if his late father’s writings on that subject were to be believed, the Dark Tower and he had a date with destiny. Exactly when and where were open to conjecture. That was one appointment that Anthony Leibowitz was in no particular hurry to keep.
June 17th 1868 The stocky older gentlemen in the country tweed suit, sporting a full beard and obviously of Jewish origin and the tall almost painfully thin scholarly type in an Edwardian frock coat and large, thin-framed spectacles made an odd couple. But the venue they had picked to meet at contained such a collection of wonders from around the Empire, that this mismatched pair went mainly unnoticed â€“ which had been the whole idea. Both had spent some time in the Colonies during the past century or so. For those possessing an extended life, it would have been just plain rude not to visit. But today their whispered exchange was as much about the disunited States of Amerika as it was Mother England. That vast construction of steel and glass, The Crystal Palace, set elegantly in Londonâ€™s Penge Common Park, where it had been moved to after the Great Exhibition of 1851. Near the well-heeled folks of Sydenham Hill, it was still the place to be in the summer of 1868. The taller of the two gentlemen, the moon-faced Mr Justin Cheeks affiliated with the British Museum, delicately nibbled at his cheese sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper. Next to him, having little appetite at the moment,
Rabbi Mordecai Leibowitz sat, nervously reaching inside his jacket to occasionally touch the stock of his Smith and Wesson Model 3 revolver. “The Royal Society have confirmed that our mutual enemy has begun to rewrite the warp and weft of Time... can you imagine that outrage, Justin?” said Leibowitz quietly. “Yes, as a matter of fact I can. That is why these invisible scoundrels think they are gods. It’s all a matter of perspective. But I thought you’d be more concerned with this blackguard who is systematically hunting down your peers? Killing off the adventurers of the secret world... pruning its tomb raiders back to the wood!” “The Baron and I have several theories that they are one in the same. The smaller crimes engineered to camouflage the larger outrage.” Cheeks laughed shrilly. “Baron Klein? My... have we had a making up? I thought you two were the greatest of rivals!” “We were... we still are!” flustered the Rabbi, his weathered face reddening slightly. “But as this murdering devil Mr Black moves like a shadow amongst our ranks snuffing us out one at a time, it seemed prudent to join forces. Which is why I’ve decided to move our master-plan forward.” Mr Cheeks choked on his sandwich for a second or two, before the robust Rabbi thumped him on the back to sort the problem. “One would have liked a little more warning before you launched one of your bad taste jokes, Mordecai.” The moon-faced man blinked back the tears, just a hint of silver showing in each eye. “You weren’t joking… were you? To attempt what you are contemplating rivals what these invisibles are supposedly doing!”
“I know. That is the point. All the serious studies done concerning this Looking-Glass Earth that we call home postulate it could be the original planet – the very first Earth within the Lattice of Worlds. At the mercy of some cosmic force we do not yet comprehend, it split from a proto-Earth early in the Multiverse’s history, and became the template for a myriad of parallel worlds. Which is why it reflects so strangely an infinite amount of possibilities, mirrored from all these other Earths.” “Didn’t our greatest minds once think the sun revolved around this planet too?” smiled Cheeks, wiping a final tear from his eye and wisely abandoning his lunch. “Or that the world was flat?” “Precisely. Which is why I hold the theory that the real proto-Earth has to be a more chaotic place. A world trapped in flux, neither one thing nor t’other.” “And you have heard of such an Earth on your many voyages between Realities?” “Aye – that I have. A devastated wasteland where the only living thing is a black tower that reaches so high into dark storm clouds it eventually pierces the outer reaches of the air we breath! And I mean to visit this world, one day, God willing. Find a weapon hidden within its soulless walls that will send these daemons who meddle with the structure of Time cowering back into their own sorry pasts!” “Are we talking the Dark Tower here, Mordecai? Have you started looking for children’s faerie tales now?” said the scholar with some incredulity. “I have spoken to travellers across the Betwixt and the Between who claim to have seen it… or at least they have spoken to others who in their turn have heard rumours to the Tower of Babel’s existence.”
Justin Cheeks nodded without further comment. Even in this most public of places, the glass walls often had ears. He just hoped his much travelled friend survived long enough to accomplish this task, for Cheeks’ own people had a legend of such a dismal world and the people who lived there. Where a black tower, a sentient super-structure reached out with an inhuman mind to bind the Realities around it into one immense empire. The shape-shifters called these unfortunates, the Forces of Babel. “The Book still going well?” Cheeks tried to lighten the conversation by changing the subject. “Of course,” replied the Rabbi, cheering up a jot. “It could be my best collection yet, as long as those anal retentive followers of Osiris allow me to do the job they are paying me for!” “It is their Atlas, Mordecai… the 1862 version. You’re only six years late.” “Delayed! A few years delayed, that’s all,” growled Mordecai, tugging at his bush of a beard. The librarian shook his head slightly. The task of assembling the Atlas of the Secret World for those eminent scholars of the Osiran College was becoming another sore point in his friend’s veil of tears. Banishing daemons by day and researching a work of such intricacy by night was proving to be a little beyond his old friend. “I could chip in with the few odd folk lore references.” “Then the beast would be authored by Leibowitz and Cheeks! I have done this before, Justin. It’s nearly finished, believe me.” ***
The 1862 Osiran Atlas of the Secret World finally came out in 1871. There were only ten copies ever printed, of which Mordecai kept one for himself, which he kept adding notes to, year upon year, seemingly unable to write the last word. He bequeathed this mighty tome to his son, Anthony. *** Mordecai Leibowitz and the enigmatic Justin Cheeks met irregularly, hiding in plain sight at The Crystal Palace, right up to the time of the Rabbi’s strange disappearance in 1893. Within the librarian’s own circles, investigations were made about Leibowitz’s abduction, questions asked and daemons soundly thrashed, but no trace of the Rabbi was ever found. Mr. Cheeks settled back into the anonymous world of a scholar, until the time seemed right to contact Mordecai’s only child, Anthony. So the threads of that original, outrageous plan to assault the Tower of Babel were lost… for a generation at least. Justin Cheeks would be heard down the following years remarking to certain key players in the Game, that mounting an expedition to the Original Earth was as likely to happen as the Queen loosing half of England in a game of cards. Look how that one turned out.
For more strange revelations, download the rediculously low priced Amerikan Dreams #0; Whisperings from the Kindle Store at Amazon.com now! Then follow further dreams over the page!
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The Red Museum of Christopher Vespucci (#1) Everyone makes mistakes. Curator of the strange, Anthony Leibowitz thought he had covered all the angles back in 1927, when a rather secretive Mage employed him to recover a certain item from Central Park. Unfortunately this required a visit to the Red Museum, a rather suspect establishment hidden in Little Transylvania; New York’s best kept supernatural secret. It took until 1996 for the charm to unravel. With Keighley, his strong right arm and best friend for the last 100 years, Leibowitz attempts to patch up the mistakes he made seventy years before. If they survive attacks by vengeful spirit people, and that Mage again, the Red Museum holds one last secret to show him.
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Bleeding Out (#2) Yory Keighley, international bounty hunter and professional Yorkshireman, was just settling down for a nap when a UFO sliced the plane he was travelling in half. That was the highlight of his day. Having crashed on Island X, Keighley and the unique survivors of Flight 666 try to make it across the island to safety, along the broken Yellow Brick Road. But they’ll have to dodge dinosaurs, giant insects, friends of the downed UFO and a familiar Japanese giant green atomic monster. Plus Keighley’s prisoner, the geriatric Doctor Seven, knows more than he’s letting on to. Lost meets Jurassic Park meets the Wizard of Oz meets Yorkshire’s best loved son!
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The Guns of Avalon (#3) Beneath the streets of London, something old and mindless has broken out of its cage and is destroying everything in its path. With Anthony Leibowitz occupied elsewhere, Mr Lavender has decided to reactivate Department 5; a World War 2 intelligence unit. Much to everyone’s surprise, to head the new team he employs Max Beckett, street magician and con artists. Delving into secrets locked away in Room 101 hidden in the British Museum, Beckett discovers the legends of Avalon, and the Weapons of Magik Destruction that this otherworld empire employed. He also unearths Cheshire, a rather devious, slightly bad smelling wood-pixie to help him run circles around everyone. But as the ancient war machine nears its mysterious target, even Max gets confused who is conning whom.
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The House on the edge of Forever (#4) Receiving an empathic call from his father’s moving House, Anthony Leibowitz hikes into the wilderness of Alaska to see what all the fuss is about. In the ramshackled four-story building he finds over fifty guests and a full catering crew have beaten him too it, the object of this gathering being to investigate the strange disappearance of Rabbi Mordecai Leibowitz – back in 1893. Amongst old friends summoned by the House, there are several old enemies and some folk Anthony has never met before. The party has its expected arguments, a few fistfights, a murdermystery to solve and a rather large deamon getting it on in the bathroom with one of the witches. But when memories of Mordecai’s past sins start leaking out of the walls, and two gatecrashers devolve into rather nasty homicidal clowns, Anthony has had enough. It’s time to break up the party!
Steel Koala (#5)
It was just one of those days... There was Anthony Leibowitz, minding his own business as he tried to recapture some of his Kensington Mice from under a cupboard, when the Mage made his appearence. Not just any Mage, as this was the return of the deadly Absalom Stark. “I need you to keep an eye on my wife for a few days,” he said. Except Starks’ wife, Miss Opal, was Australian and liked a few beers. More than a few beers. Plus she was very beautiful. Very, very beautiful. As Leibowitz’s bad form with women continues, he struggles not to fall in love with Stark’s wife, as the missmatched pair face off against Deamons and delerium across the secret world.