Amanda Gardham’s Cheese Festival may last forever

By Frampton Jones

Amanda Gardham’s annual Cheese Festival has been a great addition to island life. So long as you never, ever ask what the cheese was made from. Or think about it too much. Or lie awake at night clutching your cheese-gorged stomach imagining that you can hear the voices of all the things that were squeezed or milked in order to achieve such richness.

Under her guidance we’ve become a more confident people in the arts of fermenting, straining, cheddering in caves, and keeping caves secure from things that wish to invade the cheese making process for their own dark purposes. We’ve had cheese from cows’ milk of course, sheep, goat and donkey cheese have all proved successful. But every year, the cheese festival has featured cheeses of unspeakable origins, and every year I have been a bit more afraid of where this may take us.

There are things a cheese should not do. I have seen Amanda’s unspeakable cheese rise up from the table and exit into the night. I have heard it cry and whimper from the bowls and cages wherein it lay. I have watched cheeses that ate other cheeses.

Sometimes, people go out into the night from the Cheese Festival and are never seen again. I grant you there’s always a statistical probability that anyone going out into the night will be lost to us forever, but I feel the Cheese Festival has increased the danger.

This year’s Cheese Festival was bigger and more dramatic than any before it. We have learned that just because it is technically possibly to milk a spoonwalker, it isn’t a good idea. That flavour may haunt me for the rest of my days. I fear that one of the new flavours may have been catmilk. Arnold Chevin’s maggot cheese is something I hope never to see again so long as I live.

What was that final cheese made of? The cheese that undulated in its barrel, yet looked like the most perfect and creamy of traditional cheeses. The cheese that filled the room with the most perfect, sharp, tangy cheese smell. The cheese that then leapt from the plate and smothered Amanda Gardham’s face, and bit anyone who tried to remove it. Where were the teeth? I have hideous thoughts about milk teeth. I am unable to sleep for thinking about it, or for remembering the way the rest of the cheese emerged from the barrel to cover her prone body, embalming her entirely. No one dares go near it, and to the best of my knowledge, she remains where she fell, beneath the Cheese Festival banner.

 

Amanda died on Hopeless as a direct consequence of supporting our recent kickstarter!

Edrie Edrie – the music endures

By Frampton Jones

Few are the people on Hopeless Maine who could get a tune out of Testimony Albatross’s famous organ. It languished in a state of disrepair for many years until restored to glory by Balthazar Lemon. For a while, Mrs Sophie Davies played it regularly, drawing out tunes that were both sweet and deeply uneasy. Most of us have never been able to elicit more than an ominous kind of flatulence from the great machine.

Edrie of course has been the great exception, able to draw sounds and music from the device that sometimes defy explanation. Having observed her playing, I am fairly confident that the organ itself was designed for an octopus or other cephalopod – there are so many pedals, levers, stops, buttons and keys available. Somehow, while having no more discernible limbs than anyone else, Edrie tamed the machine and brought forth sounds unlike anything we have known before.

This of course led to tensions when it became obvious that people were coming to the church for the music, not the sermons of Reverend Davies. As the congregation swelled, our longstanding preacher grew ever more uneasy about the effect of the music upon the listeners, and sermons focused increasingly on the risks of debauchery and fornication. The music and many islanders were clearly aligned in feelings of debauchery, and as services grew ever more lively, Reverend Davies tried to have Edrie removed from the church to halt her, as he called them, ‘seductive, outlandish performances.’

Edrie declined to leave. When a selection of people immune to the seductive music tried to force a removal, they found that they could not. It seems unreasonable to suggest that a mechanical device could have grown organically to include a person, but the evidence is hard to refute. There was no parting Edrie from the organ.  And there she remains, as far as anyone can tell. No one has been able to communicate directly with her for more than a week now, and it is difficult to explain what, exactly has happened.

Organ music can most reliably be heard around sunset, but can happen at other times. Reverend Davies is now holding his sermons and prayer meetings first thing in the morning, when Edrie and the organ are less active. The compromise has allowed a form of peace to return, although whether this is the end of the matter is hard to say.

Find out more about the organ here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/345/

Edrie Edrie is one of The Army of Broken Toys – find them here https://www.armyoftoys.com/

When exactly is Steve Tanner?

By Frampton Jones

Like many people who find themselves unexpectedly shipwrecked onto our island, Steve Tanner was sure he could leave.  It invariably leads to trouble, and frequently to death, which is of itself no guarantee of leaving, as our many ghosts can testify.

Steve Tanner is effectively dead. Some weeks ago, he took a boat out with the intention of trying to catch up with a ship just visible on the horizon. I personally do not think those ships are always real. I think many of them are illusions created for the express purpose of adding to our collective misery. Anything that gets close to us but does not break up on the rocks should not be trusted, in my opinion.

It was the sort of day when taking a small boat out did not seem wholly reckless. Again, this is something to treat with suspicion. If the waters are gentle, it is only ever to lure us into a false sense of security. As is usually the way of it, a small party of onlookers gathered to spectate and place bets. Steve rowed manfully towards the distant ship. Not a single tentacle came up to try and dissuade him – it was as if they knew. I expect they knew.

He was still in plain sight when the boat stopped dead in the waters. He did not sink. He did not progress, nor yet was he flung back towards the land. There he remains. Stuck. A few intrepid fishermen have been out for a look and tell me that the boat cannot be touched. However close you get, it remains forever out of arm’s reach and things thrown at it simply miss. Time seems to be operating differently in the boat – it may be day or night there, and Steve has apparently grown a beard. How he continues to live, what he eats, how he sources fresh water – none can say. Whether he truly lives at all, or has become some strange unliving thing I do not know.

Certainly, he serves as a warning to us all.

Although Steve is now amongst the ranks of the uncertain, it doesn’t feel quite right to shout his name at the sea.

Cat Strauss lost to a dire plot of some sort

By Frampton Jones

Here is a mystery of considerable proportions. Herr Doktor is dead. Cat Straus is dead. Doc Willoughby has been terribly injured and is covered in bandages. No one saw anything, apart from Doc Willoughby. He tells me that he found Herr Doktor in the process of kidnapping Cat Strauss. He bravely attempted to rescue the victim, who tragically died when Herr Doktor chose to blow himself up rather than deal with his nemesis.

However, there are a great many witnesses to a kerfuffle earlier in the day in which Cat Strauss accosted Doc Willoughby in the street and called him, amongst other things a fraud, a Fog Cultist, and a liar.

And there are also a great many witnesses who saw Cat Strauss and Herr Doktor taking tea together yesterday afternoon at The Crow. And also plenty of witnesses who can attest that Herr Doktor normally just asks people if they’d like to go back to his lab and that charm, not force is his usual method of doing whatever it is that he does. Which all makes the kidnapping story seem a bit… unlikely. Given that the deceased left The Crow at twilight, and were seen to do so together, it is hard to imagine how, just a few streets later, this might have turned into a violent kidnapping scenario.

I am also inclined to recall that incident last year when, armed with a rolling pin and a frying pan, Cat Strauss undertook a very successful demon exorcism.

I am furthermore reminded that Herr Doktor suffered a break in only recently, and that explosives may have been stolen.

Happy to say that despite being almost entirely covered in bandages, Doc Willougby himself is in good spirits, and very much up and about. Whatever terrible injuries he suffered don’t seem to be slowing him down even slightly. And I’m sure we can all agree that this is the best possible news and in no way sinister at all.

Symon Sanderson has quite exploded

By Frampton Jones

The one islander who steadfastly refused to turn a blind eye to crime – Symon Sanderson, has died. Symon was a lone voice for taking murder seriously, in a community that has always tended to treat private killings as a private matter. That he himself has now been deliberately killed is a terrible irony. What is most strange about this whole case, is that Doc Willoughby has become a vocal activist for intervention.

Doc Willoughby made a formal statement to me for publication: “The man was blown up. Who has the resources to do something like that, eh? Clearly it’s the work of Herr Doktor. No longer should we tolerate his careless killing of fellow citizens.”

Doc Willoughby has, in the past, been one of the loudest voices in favour of not interfering with other people’s personal choices around killing.

Symon Sanderson has indeed exploded in a manner that suggests he did not simply eat the wrong thing. Bits of the device thrown at him were found at the scene of his death (by me). Herr Doktor tells me that he is entirely innocent but that someone broke into his lab only a few days ago, and he’s not quite sure what was taken. “There’s a lot of stuff in my lab,” he said, ’it’s hard to keep track of it all.” I asked him how he knew there had been a theft and he said the muddy footprints on the floor and the broken window were a bit of a giveaway. Symon Sanderson had been investigating all of this before his untimely demise. What he learned, we will probably never know.

Witnesses who prefer to remain anonymous claim to have overheard Doc Willoughby shouting in the street only moments before the explosion. It might be a coincidence of course. The Doc has had a terrible run of bad luck with people dying around him for as long as I can remember, although that does seem to have hit a peak in recent weeks, even by his usual standards.

Symon will be missed. Which is also a terrible irony because whoever threw the infernal device didn’t miss him at all.

The death of the Crotchet Queen is nothing to do with me whatsoever

By Doc Willoughby

It is scandalous that Herr Doktor is able to spread such terrible rumours about me! I, Doc Willoughby have been medical doctor for this island for a great many years and just because he’s come here from away with his bleepy toys does not make him an expert in anything.

Herr Doktor has been telling people that Mrs A, The Crotchet Queen died of a violent blow to the back of the head right outside my very own consulting rooms. This is manifestly nonsense, the blow to the back of the head was caused by fainting, and the reason she was face down was that she bounced after she fainted. She has always been prone to bouncing and as her Doctor, I am the person best qualified to comment on this tragedy.

Mrs A had a chronic, compulsive yarn disorder which I had been treating for some time now with measured applications of brandy and certain secret compounds of my own. She came of me of her own free will and stayed because I was of great assistance to her, and not as rumour has suggested, because my medicines are inherently addictive. I do not care to know what kind of analysis Herr Doktor claims to have done in his lab! He is a charlatan!

Mrs A’s chronic, compulsive yarn disorder had frayed her nerves severely, leading to the fainting. It’s been a bad week for fainting, I grant you a number of people have done that right outside my rooms – that was very foresighted of them to collapse where help would be most readily on-hand. That I have been advertising a new medicinal compound is pure coincidence and I wish that uneducated islanders would stop making up these dreadful, uninformed rumours about things they do not properly understand. Like how normal it is for people to bounce onto their faces after falling and banging their heads.

Why would Herr Doktor suggest that a man of my excellent reputation is in the habit of killing patients right outside his own consulting rooms? It is clearly to direct attention away from himself. We should ask what he’s been doing, and what the lights in his lab at night are all about, and why he has secured his letterbox to stop right-minded citizens like myself from peering in. And we should ask why he was loitering about outside my rooms when Mrs A had her little accident. Was it the unexpected sight of his face that caused her to faint and thus bang her head in the first place?

It’s my word against his and he has no proof, no proof at all that I was holding anything in my hands at the time.

Rebecca Field confirms all of my personal theories

By Doc Willougby

Today I viewed the body of recently deceased Rebecca Field, and it is the only obvious conclusion that she died at the hands of that notorious fiend and fraudster, Herr Doktor. I’ve been saying since he arrived that it would simply be a matter of time before he killed, and this is the first time I’ve confidently been able to blame him for a death.

This is why I am a pillar of the community, and he is not.

There were no witnesses to Rebecca’s death. I think that’s always pretty suspicions. I found her body myself and was immediately alerted to the fact that something was wrong by the strange, blue tinge to her lips and the pool of blood around her body. It takes a trained expert to properly understand these things. Herr Doktor is not a trained expert, no matter what he has being saying to people.

It is my years of experience that make it possible for me to say that Rebecca Field was definitely murdered, and to be able to identify the killer. These are not things I can easily explain to lesser minds. It is all a matter of nuance and special insight. She had not been drinking. I had not given her anything to drink. I was nowhere near her until long after she passed away. I can tell that, because I can tell these things about a body that no one else can.

The stab wound in her chest definitely wasn’t a stab wound, it must have been caused by some kind of experimental ray gun of the type Herr Doktor likes to make and try out on people. We’d see more of these injuries if he wasn’t so infernally good at hiding the bodies. But I know what he’s doing. I can look a man in the eye and understand these sorts of things, because I have special training.

I knew Rebecca Field was going to die. I looked into her eyes and I saw the death right there, waiting to happen.  I saw it long before she started telling people that my cures were not working and that she doubted my methods. I saw that death, and once again I have been proved right in a way that clearly had nothing to do with me whatsoever.

Colin Mathieson turned out to be not quite sensible enough

By Frampton Jones

I’d always had Colin Mathieson down as a fairly sensible sort of chap. The sort of fellow to know when to let go of a fishing rod, thus avoiding a sudden death by sea monster. The sort of chap not to find it persuasive to make blood sacrifices when an ancient evil took up residence in his kettle a few years back. Someone, I thought, who had the potential to survive as an islander for the longer term.

But no.

The kilt got him.

Where exactly the kilt came from and who its original owner was, I can only speculate. Whether it was haunted, possessed, cursed, enchanted, infested or had something else wrong with it, I could not say. I am not sure how one diagnoses the nature of the horror infusing such a garment. For horror it surely was. It appeared on his washing line, uninvited. A modest looking kilt, solidly made and in good condition. There it fluttered, innocent and alluring. Despite being an otherwise sensible man, Colin Mathieson failed to see the danger in the kilt, took it into his home, and wrapped it about his person.

For three days, the kilt had full control of Colin’s body. At first, his street dancing seemed amusing and novel, but the growing look of horror on his face told a different story. The kilt danced him through the streets of Hopeless. The kilt took him in and out of The Squid and Teapot at all hours of the night, his body clearly powerless to resist its relentless demands for alcohol. And finally, when the kilt had had its evil way with him and could find no further amusement, it left  him somewhat undignified, and cold.

Which bit of that process actually killed him, it is hard to say. No one knows where the kilt is now, or whether it may strike again, but islanders are advised to be vigilant about any and all tartan materials, and probably also anything made of tweed.

 

Colin can be found with or without his kilt at Accent Comics http://www.accentukcomics.com/

And here’s the kickstarter, which could result in other people dancing in and out of pubs if we reach that last stretch goal…

 

Cliff Cumber has drawn his last weapon

By Frampton Jones

Friends, only yesterday we were mourning the demise of Moog Gravett, trampled and eaten by a giant cow. Today, the terrible truth about the cow has come to light, and the terrible consequences continue. I feel partly responsible – I did see the cow from afar and I might have recognised it.

When Cliff Cumber came to the island, we had to take all his pens away. You may remember what happened with the scantily clad women he drew. What it is about his art that caused it to gain partial, misty form and walk amongst us, no one has ever established. What we do know for certain is that if Cliff Cumber draws, the drawing comes to life.

Being a passably sensible chap, he stopped doing this after the third alluring lady was released upon the populous. Or at least, he seemed to have stopped. It may have been a heroic inclination on his part to draw something that would eat the red weed. I feel certain he had no intention of killing Moog. But then, I don’t think he meant to drive Phum Chevin into a fit of psychotic madness with the naked ladies, either. Such is life.

Once formed, Cliff’s previous creatures have remained semi-substantial until they eventually blew away in the mist. The cow, designed to be able to eat red weed, had far more substance. It ate several chickens this morning and threatened a number of people. Being not quite real, the cow was able to harm us, while we could do it no damage at all. Missile weapons passed through it. Panic typical of a Thursday morning on the island was settling in before Cliff turned up at the scene with a massive spear he had drawn. He went into battle, and the fight was furious. The cow is gone, and Cliff did not survive his many injuries.

His art supplies will be buried with him. I am sure nothing could possibly go wrong with this arrangement.

 

You can find one of Cliff’s infamous naked ladies in this Hopeless Vendetta post – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/betty-butterow/

 

Last few days of the kickstarter – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine

Moog Gravett – if only his beard had been some other colour

By Frampton Jones

Of course these recent fallings out of the sky are by no means the first that we’d had to deal with on Hopeless. Those of you who have not yourselves recently wrecked here in one way or another, will recall that Moog Gravett also fell out of the sky.

He had an odd tale to tell. Apparently he had boarded some kind of flying machine belonging to one Professor Elemental. I have, ever since this time, been one of the many islanders to be inflicted with re-occurring nightmares about this gentleman and his inventions. Given the many horrors that have left little or no mark on me over the years, this is quite some achievement.

Moog has been a delightful chap to have around, I will miss him. I will miss his unique approaches to the maintenance of facial hair, and the things he did to ducks. I try not to be sentimental about the dead – we have so many of them after all. I may make an exception in his case. Thus far there are no signs that he will return to us in spectral form and I admit to being disappointed.

His death was as bizarre as it was pointless, and my being proved right about everything gives me little comfort. Of course the red weed menace was part of a larger cycle. The red weed has gone now, entirely eaten by the giant cow that solidified out of the mist. Unfortunately, said giant cow trampled Moog to death and ate his beard before going on the red weed eating rampage I had been hoping for.

Whether there were further fatalities, is not currently known. Please do check and count the children in your household and be alert to the possibility that absent relatives may have been ground under hoof rather than whatever fate you had assumed was theirs.

The giant cow is at present mostly active in the Gaunt Street area, and seems inclined to eat anything red. You have been warned.

 

Moog and his beard can be found on youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/iammoog/videos where there is nothing at all about ducks and quite a bit of his work with Professor Elemental.

The kickstarter we’re currently doing is over here, and also, thanks to the stretch goals, has a bit of Professor Elemental in it. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine 

News for the residents of Hopeless, Maine.