I was born a cursed child. I am a Tiefling, standing tall, slender and imposing, with silver-white horns and pale blue skin. From my eyes down my sharp cheeks to my jawbone, I bear a silver lightning birthmark. To see me, you would find it little surprise that my mother died before she could even hold me in her arms. My father could not cope with seeing the start of my life mark the end of his lover’s, nor could he find it in his heart to love me. In my earliest years, he provided for my brothers with what little money he had not yet drunk away in run-down taverns. My brothers helped feed me, even as young boys. But money from a drunkard is not something one can rely upon. It was never enough, so Mavarst and Gatash, six and eight years my elders learned to steal and beg, and keep scraps of food on our plates. What little I recall of this time is through my brothers’ stories, for I was too young to form any clear memories. When I was three, my father was imprisoned. A bar fight had escalated, and a skull had tragically cracked on a table as a man fell to the ground. That was the last I saw of him. Perhaps that is what saved my brothers and I, for we were sent to an orphanage, where we were found and taken in by Martha and Devaan, who owned a large house by the docks. I lived happily here, loved as if I were their own child. I spent my days playing with other children, who never gave a moment’s thought to what I was. My brothers ran errands in the docks, and then took jobs once they were of age, eventually being employed on merchant vessels. They travelled far and often, and were rarely home. By the time I was twelve, I was becoming aware of the dirty looks and whispered judgement from strangers in the streets. Even the once innocent and carefree children began to bully and taunt. Martha and Devaan had endless faith in me, but I began to lose faith in myself, and it was clear civilised society doubted me. I felt the need to prove I was more than my infernal heritage. I had to prove I was good and pure of heart, and the only way I could think how to do so was to worship the gods – to spend as much time as I could in the various temples of the city. For four years I devoted myself to worship, missing so many opportunities for social pleasures, academic interests, or decent labour, instead studying only the divine texts. For all that I missed out on, it was a nonetheless a happy time. I had friends in the temples, and a newfound belief that I was not defined by my birth. I once thought that I would stay forever, and become a wise old religious teacher. But All Things Must Change.

When I was seventeen, a storm unlike any that had struck for generations ravaged our coast. The dock was hit the hardest – homes, workplaces, ships, shattered by wind and wave and lighting. My family’s home was among those obliterated. By luck alone, my parents were unharmed, but everything was lost – all our possessions, and their livelihoods. They packed what little they could salvage and set off to the capital to seek a new living. They begged me to come, but I refused. I did not want to back away from my dedication to the church, but I soon realised the storm had awakened something that had been inert inside me since birth – a great arcane might. I could channel the force of lightning with just a touch, and cast bolts of it through the air. I spoke of this with temple elders, and though the arcane is respected by the church, strange traditions disallow the clergy to practice it. I resigned from my duties, trying to figure out some meaning in everything that was happening. The sudden shift in my life and power was overwhelming. Unbound by duty, I spent months indulging in pleasures I had denied myself as an devout acolyte – ale, spirits, drugs, men, women, literature, but most of all, I indulged in my newfound power. A peaceful city was no place to be a sorcerer. Little could be done with my power there. I had to leave, and so I did. I travelled from town to town on random whim and impulse, never truly knowing nor caring where I would end up. Less than a month into my travels, I came to the realisation that I bore a child. I took pause from my journey, and spent the months of my pregnancy in a temple. Throughout that time I prayed to the gods, and tried to meditate on my future. I knew my journey could not be over, so I left the child to be raised by the priests. I left her, unnamed, with only a short letter to promise I loved her and would return one day. Five years have passed since I left my daughter in that temple. I think of her each and every day, but I know I do what I must. Throughout these years, I have come to conclude that I am not on journey to seek my destiny. There is no destiny, only the chaos of the storm – the inevitability of the change it brings for better or worse. I am a vessel of that change. I have no predetermined path to tread. The random ever-changing winds of fate guide me in this world. I will follow them to the ends of this earth if that is where they lead.

A storm brings destruction. Lives and homes may be torn asunder. In that violent chaos, it is easy to forget that the very same storm broke the drought which threatened to starve the kingdom. It is easy to forget that the flood which drowned this year’s crops leaves behind good sediment that makes next year’s crops grow stronger. The destruction, the change, and the new hope that come from the storm are not its intent. It has no intent. One cannot question the whim of a storm. It does not choose where to strike. It simply follows the only path it can.

Some say that storms follow me wherever I roam, but they mistake me.

I am no harbinger of storms.

I am the storm.




I DM one campaign, and play in another. Kehani was created as my backup character in case Monty the Goblin dies, but she developed into something outside the tone of that campaign. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to play as her one day. For now, the closest I’ll get is sharing her backstory here, and hoping someone else appreciates her theme and relates the traditional DnD woes of having more character concepts than you have opportunities to play.


The Future Of This Blog

I have managed to keep my challenge of at least one post a month since November 2016. (Though arguably a 400 word Time Shaft piece might only count as half a post.) I am no longer committed to this post-rate, as it does not seem worthwhile to post a very rushed and very short piece on the 28th of each month. I will still be writing, and I will still aim to upload as frequently as possible, but I make no guarantee of once a month. The monthly uploads were primarily to prove to myself I could be consistent in my creative output. Whether or not I succeeded in that is up for debate but all that matters is I’m satisfied. I will still tell all my friends whenever a new story is uploaded, and there WILL be more. Jack Scrap, Time Shaft, and Close-Enoughism, particularly need follow up, and it will happen, but now I’m happy to write and upload as and when things are ready, rather than forcing myself to fit a needless challenge of how often I do so.

The other reason for this is that I have a new creative outlet now, working on a dungeons and dragons campaign due to start in a week. The hours I’ve spent world-building and plotting for this are perhaps even more satisfying than clicking the upload button here. Perhaps if anything notably funny or epic happens there I’ll have a small “DnD Highlights” section, but no promise on that – a lot of those things are only funny if you were at the table…

I’ll see y’all soon. Stay Chill.



Visits to my Local Time Shaft – 7

So I was at the duck pond by my secret laboratory recently… and something seemed strange about the ducks…

I was looking for a neutral signal to recalibrate one of my time-whack readers, and I thought “What’s more neutral than a duck?” However, the signal was anything but neutral. One duck in particular was emitting a very strange and distinctly unducklike pattern.  I detected a high peak, then a long empty bout of mid-level noise, and then another peak, over and over.

I of course decided to plot the peaks, and it seemed somewhat random. After a lengthy period of observation, I realised it was approximately repeating a pattern with a little bit of variance to obscure it – perhaps enough to slip under any passive automated scan, but fairly rudimentary for any active observer to decipher. Measuring each interval to the nearest 3 seconds, and then normalising them to a 1 to 26 scale, it spelled out a simple message:


My assumption is this is from that strange gentleman who time-flopped me out, and that his name can only be Professor Flomberre. I’m not sure whether to be reassured or afraid. On the one hand, he saved me from being trapped in quarantine for months… but on the other hand, he knows a worryingly large number of things about me, including the location of my secret laboratory, where he did something strange to a duck…

The next day, I examined all the ducks one by one with my newly calibrated time-whack reader. All followed perfectly normal ducklike patterns. Flomberre either trusted me to pick up the pattern on the first day I arrived, or he’s got close enough surveillance to know for sure. I suppose the second option is most likely, but I cannot imagine what he might want. If he wanted the skull, I’m sure it wouldn’t have popped back out of the time shaft into my hand…

I will update you again once I have had time to run detailed analysis of the skull.

Until next time,

 – Barnabus K. Pompadour

P.S. – Flomberre, if you’re reading this – Thanks for the help, but… do you have to be so weird about it? Just come visit or something like a normal person

Visits to my Local Time Shaft – 6

So I was down at my local timeshaft recently… but for a change, that’s not where this update begins.

Word got out about the chronowraith skull – I mean, I wasn’t keeping it secret in any way – and I’ve essentially been quarantined in the lab with it because top scientists and the government are concerned about the risks of messing with something so heavily timewhacked. Without the access to funds and materials to better research it, I’ve only been able to make a little progress. I managed to scrap together a timewhack meter strong enough to not explode like the last one. The readings fluctuate in a pattern that seemed meaningless, until I mapped the coordinates to one axis, and the output of a random number generation code to the other. The fluctuations were always in line with the random numbers, even when I stopped and reset the code, or messed around to skew the probabilities. In life the chronowraith sees all points of time at once. Knowing its skull would end up here, perhaps it somehow observed this string of random numbers, and synchronised its thoughts to it. This opened up more questions than it answered. I kept thinking, “if only I could get out of here and get new parts and my notes and everything…”

And then a stranger, who looked precisely like a stereotypical mad scientist but with a beret, suddenly appeared out of thin air one afternoon. He immediately shouted “Allons y, we don’t have much time! Haha, get it, time? But seriously, I gotta get you out before my Time Flombateur de-flops this flop!”

He grabbed my arm. I suppose the flop must have de-flopped after that, because next thing I knew, I was out of there. In an instant, I went from standing in the lab to flying along a wild glowing blue stream of energy. I saw the professor for a moment. The words “Au Revoir, Barnabus!” reached my ears like a distant yell, and then he was gone. I’m embarrassed to say I did not immediately realise that the flow of energy I was in was my local timeshaft itself. After what felt like a few minutes, but could have been any amount of time, I found myself soaring through the air and landing with a thud on the ground. I came to my senses, and looked around at a familiar site. It was, of course, the very same place I always come to check the timeshaft. Moments later, the very same chronowraith skull flew out, and I instinctively caught it in my hands, as if my subconscious had known to expect it.

I will try to keep you up to date, but I expect I may need to continue my studies quite discretely. I always knew that the underground research base I had constructed years ago would come in handy!

Until next time,

 – Barnabus K. Pompadour

The Nightshade Pact

This story follows on from Jack Scrap, in which the city of Kazzanhof and Jack himself were introduced.

Darkness had fallen on Kazzanhof, and the glow of the lanterns and the chatter of people faded into the distance behind Jack Scrap as he walked away from the Sarvayn community garden. Everyone had been friendly and welcoming, though as soon as first introductions were over, most had spent more time chatting amongst themselves rather than bothering with Jack’s slow chalkboard communication. That was okay though. Jack was simply glad to have been included at all after so many months of rejection and isolation. It must have been at least five hours since he had arrived at the garden, and he felt the need for a little time alone. He walked with no destination in mind, past lanterns that were placed intermittently at the sides of the road, offering only a dim glow.  Despite now being magical in nature, Jack’s vision functioned roughly the same as when he had been human, so he was far less in tune with his surroundings than the typical Kazzanhof citizen, who could see perfectly in the dark. Nonetheless, the impression he had gotten at the barbeque had given him reassurance that this was a safe neighbourhood to walk in, and he walked at random through streets and backstreets until he realised he no longer knew the way back. He noisily shrugged at this realisation and kept walking. It wasn’t as though he could be stopped by physical tiredness, so why not just keep walking around all night?

The dark and violent reputation of Kazzanhof was largely untrue, but it had its fair share of districts distinctly less wholesome than Sarvayn, such as the one into which Jack had now unwittingly stumbled: Wilhelmvayn. Had he been able to see better in the dim light of the moon and far away lanterns, Jack might have noticed the higher proportion of Fall-era statues kept in near-pristine condition, and the shadowy figures silently moving around in hidden observation of him… which soon grew tired of merely observing.

With a swish and a hiss from the darkness, a tall vampire woman stood before Jack. She was more than two feet taller than him, and her pose would have been impressively intimidating if not for her soft giggle at the rattle and squeak of Jack’s components as he jumped back. She eased her posture slightly – enough to show that she did not intend to be threatening, but keeping it clear that she could be.

“What business does a stranger, and quite a strange one at that, have entering these streets?”

Jack hastily scrawled on his chalkboard





“So you are a new visitor to this great city, or just an ignorant fool?”


The woman laughed and said, “Then I am inclined to overlook your unwelcome presence. I would send you back the way you came, but I find myself intrigued. We see many unusual characters in Kazzanhof, but you must be the first Bucket-headed Scrap Man I’ve ever seen. Would you care to tell my associates and I your story?”



“I like your little drawing of a face. That is a clever way to show tone when your football-head cannot! I assure you though, I am only scary when I want to be – and for now, I do not. Please follow.”

Jack was led a short distance through several dark alleys to an old broken-walled tavern with no name above the door, and very little furniture inside. There was a single lantern hanging from the ceiling, above a table with four chairs. Three were occupied – another vampire, a ghoul, and a wight. A few more people stood around the table, but Jack could not be sure exactly how many for some seemed to blend into the shadows or appeared not-quite-there (as is typical for the non-corporeal).

The woman took the fourth chair, and pointed to the ground near the table.

“Stand here where we can all see your board, and tell us who, and indeed what, you are.”


The woman gave a vampire-smile and said, “I admire that you dare ask questions of this dark and shadowy group that effectively stalked and kidnapped you mere moments ago. I am The Knife. Here at the table sit The Thorn, The Skewer, and The Needle, and around the room you will see The Whisperer, The Hook, The Storm, and The Axe.”

“And The Croissant!” someone interrupted.

“Yes,” sighed The Knife, “and The Croissant. I left you out because your name is not nearly intimidating enough but I suppose Jack here is oddly resistant to how scary we are anyway. I suppose he thinks a vampire can’t do much to someone with no blood to suck, and apparently he’s oblivious to the reputation wights have for unspeakable cruelty.”


“Let me guess, you already met Maximillian…” said The Knife, looking at Jack who nodded in response. “Well, he and I are friends despite our different political leanings, so perhaps if he trusts you, we can too, but let us hear – or read – your story before we say that with any confidence.”

At this point, Jack was used to writing out quick summaries of his life, and he powered through it rapidly. The moment Alvaro Shaw was mentioned, every face in the room turned foul and the glint of a blade caught Jack’s eye, but he quickly made it clear how much he hated the man and the faces turned to excitement. Within ten minutes of starting, he’d gotten to the phrase AND THEN I MET YOU LOT and the mysterious audience started asking further questions.

The wight called The Skewer was first to speak, in a voice like a sandpaper waterslide, “Mr Shaw has no friends in this city, but many foes, yes, many many foes. Like We.”

The Knife took over, “The Skewer tends to exaggerate things but on this matter he does not. This city is full of those who despise him, though most do not give further thought. We, however, feel something must be done. Justice must come to that man and if the powers that be shall not deliver it, then that responsibility falls to the common people.”


“Ha!” grunted The Skewer over the murmur of amusement that rippled through the room. “With nicknames like these – except The Croissant – do you really think we merely want to arrest Mr Shaw. No, he must die.”

“Yeah,” added the ghostly figure known as The Storm, becoming clear in form as she spoke, “But like dead-dead. Not like us-dead.”

“Yes, Storm, I think that was obvious,” said The Knife. “Jack, you must share all you know about Alvaro. You must have learned a lot under his employment. You would be a hero of the city if you gave us the information we need to fulfil our plans.”




“An extravagant sorcerer travels nowhere without stories,” replied The Knife. “You can lead us to where you last saw him, and if he is no longer based there, we shall interrogate any former contacts of his, and simply follow the trail his reputation left in his wake.”




The Knife sighed, “Jack, after what that man has done to you… After all the sins he has enacted upon the world, how can you be content to let him carry on with his life? How many more people have to suffer at his hands before you say “No More!”?”

Before Jack could write a response, The Storm cried out so loudly and abruptly that Jack nearly fell over in surprise. Her spectral form pulsated erratically with cold hazy light. Her cacophonous wail drowned out the hurried voices trying to calm her, and Jack watched in utter confusion as she was led out of the room.

Only Jack, The Knife, The Skewer, and The Needle remained, while the rest tended to The Storm.


The Knife forced a smile and said, “No, The Storm is a Banshee – they are formed when someone enters undeath in a state of great anguish. Their sorrow is eternal and their wretched wail is beyond their control. The poor woman died heartbroken because of what Alvaro did to her sister. Her story is far from unique in this city.”

For the first time, the ghoul known as The Needle spoke. His voice was slow, deep, and coarse. “The undead are still. Vilified by much of the world. That’s why Alvaro got away. With using us as test subjects. And experiments. He has taken from us all. My brother was the finest ghoul. You could meet. But he was taken. He probably died alone. In a cage. In agony.”

The Skewer followed, “I am lucky enough to have no immediate connection with the scum, but I know too many who are not. He has inflicted suffering that the Vampires of the Fall would shy away from. The man must die.”

Jack raised chalk but only managed a line trailing off diagonally across the board. The three undead stared at him, as he rubbed it off and tried again. The quiet in the room made the muffled cries of The Storm all too audible. In shakier hand-writing than before, Jack said


He wished he could have found a way to say no, but seeking revenge felt right. The random chance of stumbling into this particular part of town and meeting this particular organisation felt right. Even without the concern of what these people might do if he refused, Jack would probably have said yes. This was the last task to do before he could complete his quest for a peaceful life.

The Knife stood up, gave Jack a vampire-smile, and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Welcome to the Nightshade Pact.”




One Year of The Level 100 Vegan Wizard

It’s been a year since I first uploaded to this site, and against all odds and expectations, I have kept up with my rule of minimum one post per month! That’s not exactly the most impressive rule to stick to, and I’ve definitely cheated some months just editing up very old stories or posting very short time-shaft posts, but it still counts for something.

My best work is probably still Bongo Jones, and I was very close to ending up in the top 3 when I submitted part one to a writing competition. Part one was actually written a long long time before I even thought of starting this site, and part two was started and abandoned with a vague idea of a longer story in mind. I edited and uploaded part one with the promise to myself that I’d finish and upload the next two parts within a month or two – and I did so, only a little slower than first intended. It was Close Enough to the planned time frame anyway – which brings us to the first Close Enoughism post. Ideally, I’d have done seven Great Acts of Mediocrity as well as a few other random tidbits, but eh, close enough. I’d also like to have written a lot more than five Time Shaft pieces…

The Secret Task of Gorgeous George is one of my personal favourite uploads. It was loosely based on a randomly generated writing prompt, so it’s pretty lucky that I found the thing that spawned the irrelevant tangent that is this story.

I like writing fantasy, and I like world-building, so I decided to set any fantasy stories I write in the same world. This has had some success and some disappointments. The (hopefully-not-permanently-)abandoned Ennaya Atimari story was a challenge to myself to write and upload consistently on a storyline from a rough plan – a challenge that I clearly did not succeed in, as I backed out after Part 3.

On the other hand, I’m pleased with Jack Scrap, and the introduction of Unnb, and the Glymmph – expect more stories featuring all of those along with many other people and places. Though, I will admit I thought I would have uploaded a good nine or ten stories in this world by now… Ideas for world-building are all well and good, but you have to also have stories taking place in the world you built for it to count for anything!

Overall, I’ve uploaded far less than I would have liked but far more than I would have expected. I can live with that.

Let’s kick off another year of making you people read my words.

Big shout-out to anyone who’s ever taken the time to do so, and even bigger shout-out to anyone’s who has read my messy first drafts and/or been relentlessly encouraging in the face of my laziness.


A Photograph, a Ghost, and Some Goats

Shout out to Lellis and the imaginary goats that scream at her while she sleeps.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real people and/or goats is purely coincidental.


One day, when minding my own business, I heard a knock on the door. I reluctantly got up and answered, but there was no one in sight – just a photograph dropped to the ground. It showed the silhouette of a woman in a dress, or perhaps a witch’s robe, against the backdrop of a forest.

I stared at it for a while. I could feel something not quite right about it – as if it shouldn’t be here. Logically, my first assumption was that it was a cryptic message from the future. It was exactly the kind of thing I’d leave if I wanted to send a cryptic message. I thought long and hard, and came to some conclusions: The silhouette must symbolise a question of identity – I could see the shape of a person, but not the person herself. The forest must symbolise growth. I thought perhaps I was being warned not to let my personal growth erase my identity. Or maybe, the fact that the silhouette was standing in front of the forest portrayed the idea that rejecting the concept of a distinct identity can unlock new growth for a person. Quite conflicting ideas? Both equally justifiable? Maybe that’s what my messenger wanted me to think: “cryptic messages are terrible, so when you get to the future and send your past self a message, be sure to make it clear.”

In fact, when I turned it over, those exact words were written on the other side, signed with my own name.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I’ve built a time machine, but other than that, life is roughly the same, until one day, when minding my own business, I heard a knock at the door. I reluctantly got up and answered, but there was no one in sight – just a photograph dropped to the ground. Sounds familiar? Yeah, it was the same photograph, but no message on the back. I spent hours trying to guess meaning from it until I angrily scribbled on the back “cryptic messages are terrible, so when you get to the future and send your past self a message, be sure to make it clear.”

I signed it, sent myself back in time, placed it on my doorstep, knocked, and left. I realise now that I could have just put that note on the fridge for present-me and there was no advantage of sending it to past me… but in my defence, I was too annoyed to think clearly at the time.

Another year or so later, I met a woman in a bar and bragged about my time machine. She came back to see it, but it turns out she was only in the country on holiday. We took one trip in the machine, going back a few years, where she wrote and posted a letter. I thought little of it, until we got home, and she wasn’t there anymore. She was gone, but I had vague memories of her from my past.

You don’t play around with a time machine without experiencing the weird feeling of arriving back in your time to find new altered memories of the past. This time it was different though. Usually the memories settle within a few minutes as you readjust to the new timeline. Usually, any paradox is somehow inexplicably resolved by the universe and filtered out of your memory – but seemingly arbitrarily, some paradoxes cause a big mess.

I found out later than the letter she sent was one she had written to herself saying something along the lines of “You should spend a year in this country and befriend the time-travel guy so you can steal his machine.”

Clearly, it didn’t work as I still had the time machine, despite my new memories of her having been around and being uncomfortably nosy around it. I waited a few days, hoping the memories would settle but eventually I cracked, and set out on a mission. Not knowing how I knew, I followed a hidden trail. Almost subconsciously, I booked trains and flights and cars until I found myself trekking nervously into a dark forest in Sweden, armed with only a camera. A shadowy form slipped past the corner of my eye. I spun to look – and saw nothing. Turning back around, a figure was there – nothing more than a silhouette against the trees. I remembered the photograph, and took it.

The next thing I knew, I was slowly regaining consciousness in an unknown location.

The first sense to return was my hearing, as diabolical screams filled my ears.

A few seconds later, I became visually aware of my surroundings. There were goats everywhere – unexpected, but it relieved my fear that I had died and gone to hell and the screams were demons.

It was only after several minutes of looking around at these screaming goats that I realised I was a tree –but not even the good kind of tree. No. Not even a real one. I was a tacky pantomime prop tree.

And then I saw that she was there. Not a silhouette, though still barely physical in form, but unmistakeably, it was her – the woman from the bar – the ghost from the forest.

“It’s you…” I began, struggling to be heard over the screaming goats, stopping when I realised I no longer knew her name.

Nor did she. “I am the Swedish Forest Ghost now, that is all I know…”

“Why am I a tree?”

“That is how it is. To sustain my existence I must separate souls from their forms. Don’t ask me how that works, you’re the time travel expert… But I don’t like to leave the souls abandoned – that would be cruel!”

“But why put the souls into these horrible props?”

“They’re the only ones I can afford… This is a charitable venture after all!”

“Okay, but why props at all and why here? Wait, what charity?”

“I have to put the souls where I can ensure they’re safe, and this is the only place I can do that – my Opera School for Disadvantaged Deaf Goats. I feel like being charitable helps redeem me for what I have to do to people’s physical forms… at least a tiny bit…”

“I’d rather be a hopeless disembodied soul!” yelled another tree from across the room.

The ghost looked apologetically at it, and carried on, “These poor deaf goats just want to sing, and I can grant that wish. There’s nothing more I can do for the tree-people…”

“Wait!” I exclaimed, “Maybe there is! The last photograph on my camera! Take it to my time machine and deliver a message to past-me not to let the Swedish woman use the time machine! We can undo all this!”

“That might work!” she said, grabbing my camera from a nearby table and running out of the room.

I shouted after her, “Wait! I didn’t tell you what to say! Don’t just leave the photograph, that would be too ambiguous!”

Unfortunately, just as I began to say that, the goats reached the dramatic climax of their rehearsal, and my voice was drowned out in the noise. I have to say though, she’d done a good job training them to sing when you consider they were all deaf and all they could do was yell.

Obviously, sending the photograph back with no message did nothing but start this whole mess – but my fate was not to be a tree forever. When she finally returned, the Swedish Forest Ghost had brought my time machine back to the opera school with her, and told me about a plan she had thought of.

She dragged the time machine and my tree-form all the way to the forest, and warped us back to the moment of disembodiment. Before I realised the time had already come, I felt my soul leap from the tree into the lifeless body that my past-soul had just been sucked out of. As I fell to the ground and scrambled to my feet, I watched my own disembodied soul get crammed into a tree prop and carried away.

Beside me, the Swedish Forest Ghost stood and put a hand on my shoulder.

“You are free,” she said with a smile.

I thanked her and told her she could keep the time machine to try to free the other souls – I didn’t want it any more after all the trouble it had caused. We went our separate ways with the promise of staying in touch. I said I’d try my best to make her human again, but she told me she had grown to love being a spooky forest ghost and didn’t want to go back.

The next time I saw her was at the first performance of the opera goats. They were awful – but it was still fairly impressive when you considered that they were deaf goats.