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"The Gardens at Weatherbury"


Prologue
The Gardens at Weatherbury

By Y. M. Roger

It’s my job to 'keep the grounds'. The gardens, lawns, and the multitude of flowering plants around the main house and outbuildings are mine. According to my job description, 'every living thing that grows' here is within my purview. That includes making sure the trees and hedges keep their ‘ethereal look’ – yes, those words are in the description – that makes folks slow their vehicles to get a better look.
 
In short, I am The Groundskeeper.
 
I am seventeen years old, and I am quite busy all day in the summer months and after dark most days during the school year. I work weekends, too, unless I request the occasional day off. I’ve worked on Weatherbury Estate since I was fourteen, and I have been promised the permanent position if I want it after graduation this coming year. There is no question as to my intention as I cannot imagine any other life. Besides, there are too many here that depend upon my expertise and knowledge.
 
Funny thing, when crotchety Mr. Thrasher had been fired that summer years ago, I’m pretty sure Sir Philippe had offered this job to me as a joke. I’d been helping Mom in the estate kitchen – she’s in charge of estate events and staffing – and he’d walked in, exasperated.
 

“Ms. Dennison, I will need a severance package for George Thrasher by the end of the day.”
 
“Yes, Sir Phil–”
 
I looked up from my task and laughed. He had turned that beady-eyed, gargoyle look on me, but I couldn’t stop. Even Mom’s warning eyes couldn’t stop my chortles. I laughed so hard I dropped some grapes I had been washing.
 
“And what, pray tell young master, is so entertaining about a severance package for Mr. Den–”
 
“Are you really gonna have mom cut off his package, Sir?”
 
My mom’s hand flew to her mouth to stifle her own giggles, and I would swear to this day that, even though his face did not flinch in the least, Sir Philippe’s eyes laughed at me as well.
 
“No,” he said with a little more pep than his usual drollness, “just his job. Do you think you could do better than him, young Nicholas?”
 
I threw the remaining grapes in the sink and dried my hands on my pants, offering the towering Sir Philippe my right one.
 
“Helll-lo, yeah, Sir.” I kept shaking his hand the whole time I spoke. “And I’d be lots happier about it, too. What garden do I start on?”

 
Looking back, I think Sir Philippe knew what I was in for, and, perhaps, he thought I’d quit. But these gardens – all of the flora and the fauna and those that are a little of both – are my charge now. Don't worry, I'm sure you’ll find them as interesting and even as exasperating as I do!
 
I believe we’ll start with Constantine – the little gnome I discovered that first evening. Actually, it might be more appropriate to say that he discovered me…

 

Author Notes 499 words according to MSWord. :)

Thank you so much, Jack Silver, for creating this contest - such a cool idea!! My plan is to release one chapter per month of this exact length (475-500 words) so that everyone can have a little taste of the Gardens at Weatherbury and all the magic they hold! So, contest or no, put the 14th on your monthly calendar and expect a unique smile on or around that date!

Thank you for reading me!


Image of 'Skylands Manor at the New Jersey Botanitical Garden' by Maja Britton from New Jersey Monthly Magazine [njmonthly.com/articles]


Chapter 1
C1 - Meeting the Management

By Y. M. Roger

We stood in front of the garden shed to which Sir Phillipe was handing me the key.
 
“Mr. Thrasher cannot answer questions.” He seemed to study me as he spoke. “You must figure things out for yourself.” I think those eyes laughed at me. Again. “Previous Groundskeepers have left notes in the shed’s small cabinet inside - perhaps they will help you.” He raised an eyebrow at my eagerness to accept the key. “You have one month to prove yourself, young Nicholas. Good luck.”
 
“I’ve got this, Sir Phillipe.” I grinned, because, seriously, how hard could it be to water plants?  “No worries!” I hollered at his back as he walked away.
 
I turned to unlock the door.
 
But the door was gone. There were only long branches of a flowering bush where the shed had been. I checked around in either direction but still saw no shed. I walked around the bush. But the farther I went, the more I just kept walking, following the bush – never making it back around.
 
Hmmm.
 
Like any good outdoorsman, I turned and retraced my path. Within but three or four steps – way too few, I think – I was back to where I had started. I took stock of my surroundings. Yes, this was where the shed should be. I peeked inside the thorny, flower-covered branches. There, just out of reach, was the door!
 
I shook my head and readied the key as I stepped through the branches.
 
Although they appeared small, those thorns found purchase on every inch of my clothing, rendering me motionless within seconds. I began trying to escape which, of course, compounded my captivity. I was about to holler for help when…
 
“Seems ya didn’t use the password.”
 
It was a man’s voice but it was…smaller.
 
“What?” I froze, responding to the voice.
 
“The password.” I heard rustling behind me that continued past me along with the voice. “Tis Rosalind’s job to protect the doorway, lad.”
 
A man no taller than, perhaps, my thigh stopped in front of me – hands on hips, white beard braided in three, and yellow stocking cap angled to expose a mostly bald head. Those piercing green eyes pinned me with a gimlet stare as he continued.
 
“So, what’s the password?”
 
“But I don’t ha–”
 
“Didn’t G-Trash give it to ye?”
 
“G-Trash?” I thought hard. Then, grinning, I managed a hand wiggle. “I have Sir Phillipe’s key.”
 
“Rosa? Lad’s got the key.”
 
The whole bush shook but didn’t let go.
 
“Where’s George-the-Trasher?”
 
Realization dawned.  “Uhmm…he got a severed package?”
 
His eyes narrowed. Then, he tossed his hat in the air, hollering, “He’s gone! Everybody, G-Trash is gone!”
 
A cacophony of laughter, music, song, and very odd noises erupted around us. The thorns disappeared, and I stood, unscathed, facing a now-dancing gnome.
 
Suddenly, he stopped, retrieved his hat, and placed it on his head, offering his hand up to me.
 
“My name’s Constantine.” He shook with a surprisingly firm grip. “What's your name, Groundskeeper?”
 

To be continued…
 

Author Notes 'The Gardens at Weatherbury' is a collection of 500-word chapters about young Nicholas' continuing adventures as Groundskeeper to the unique gardens at the fantastical Weatherbury Estate. You can find the Prologue - begun in a Chapter Contest in June - in my portfolio (it, too, is only 500 words, folks!). ;)

CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Nicholas (narrator) - young boy (current age 17), telling of adventures since accepting Weatherbury's Groundskeeper job at age 14.

Sir Phillipe - owner of Weatherbury Estate

George Thrasher - former Groundskeeper, employment terminated by Sir Phillipe in Prologue

Thank you so much for reading me! ;)


Image of 'Secret Garden Door' from Pinterest [www.pinterest.ca]


Chapter 2
C2 - Realization

By Y. M. Roger

After introductions, including myself to Rosalind by way of my ‘petting’ some of her branches and her bestowing a ‘lucky rose’ for my t-shirt pocket, I was finally able to unlock the shed. As I pushed the door open, Constantine scooted by me and disappeared into the darkness.
 
Cool, damp air rushed out across my face.  I strained to see into the blackness but was startled when I heard a ‘crash’. Constantine began spouting some exclamations in an unfamiliar language.
 
“Constantine? You okay?”
 
Before he could answer, I felt two of Rosa’s larger branches brush across my back and push me, hard. I stumbled forward across the threshold.
 
“Hey!” I shouted at her, trying to regain my balance when, suddenly, a faint glow filled the entire space. I could see!
 
As my eyes adjusted to the much-dimmer-than-sunlight ambience, Constantine emerged from a jumbled pile of flower pots. He was sputtering more of those indistinguishable words under his breath.
 
“Bout time!” He pinned me with one of his piercing glares as he continued to brush himself off and snuffle. “Climbing on these here containers is dangerous! Been asking G-Trash for years to make that pull-cord long enough for me to reach.” He clambered onto the ornate, two-drawer filing cabinet, straightened his hat, and emphatically placed his hands on his hips. On his newly-acquired pedestal, he was almost my height. “And I’ll be thanking ye if you would do just that, Groundskeeper Nicholas.”
 
I had begun looking all around when he mentioned the light cord, but I was unable to visually locate one. In fact, I didn’t see any light source.
 
There was the big mess of pots and containers Constantine had knocked over and, of course, the cabinet on which he stood. There was a desk against another wall complete with some sort of eerily luminescent vine growing out of the top drawer. The vine had crept along most of the wall there. Here and there, were small, disorganized piles of equipment, bags, and other assorted junk. Intriguingly, I couldn’t see the back wall because the light faded before that…
 
“What cord?” As a last resort, I looked up, but the only thing there was a huge collection of cobwebs. I looked back at him, put my hands on my hips, and frowned. “For what light?”
 
Constantine’s entire countenance changed. He dropped his hands, arms hanging loosely, as he looked up and around as I had just done. When his bright green eyes met mine again, a huge grin split that time-worn face.
 
“Weeeellll, well! Would you look at that!”
 
I looked all around once again.
 
“At what?”
 
“The shed, Nicholas. She lit for ya, son!”
 
I cocked my head, not really understanding. Constantine removed his hat and gave me a quick bow of his head. Then he started some funny dance, arms swinging as he wiggled in a circle and sang.
 
“You’re real, Nicholas!”
 
I frowned. “Well, yeah, Cons–”
 
“And our Gardens are gonna shine again!”
 
 

To be continued…
 

Author Notes 'The Gardens at Weatherbury' is a collection of 500-word chapters about young Nicholas' continuing adventures as Groundskeeper to the unique gardens at the fantastical Weatherbury Estate. You can find the Prologue and Chapter One in my portfolio (they, too, are only 500 words, folks!). ;)

CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Nicholas (narrator) - young boy (current age 17), telling of adventures since accepting Weatherbury's Groundskeeper job at age 14.

Constantine - garden gnome and self-appointed on-site manager of the Gardens

Rosalind - (aka Rosa) sentient climbing rosebush whose job it is to guard the Garden Shed

Sir Phillipe - owner of Weatherbury Estate

George Thrasher - (aka G-Trash...in the words of Constantine!) former Groundskeeper, employment terminated by Sir Phillipe in Prologue

Thank you so much for reading me! ;)


Image of 'Image of 'Secret Garden Door' from Pinterest [www.pinterest.ca]


Chapter 3
C3 - A Little Bit of a Tantrum

By Y. M. Roger

I was still unsure how my standing in the shed could make it light up. I stepped outside and then back inside, and, sure enough, it lit again.
 
Well, wasn’t that something? I wondered if the lighting would follow me deeper into the shed, but Constantine stomping his feet on the cabinet interrupted my thoughts.
 
“Hey!” He interjected excitedly, waving his hand back and forth. “What are you doin’ with the ‘in and out’ there, Keeper? We’ve got work to do!”
 
Tilting my head, I narrowed my eyes at him. I hadn’t thought the plants and shrubs were that ‘out of shape’. In fact, curiosity had been the real reason I'd opened the shed in the first place – specifically, curiosity about the cabinet Sir Phillipe had spoken of. And, of course, Constantine was standing on it.
 
Stepping closer, I saw the cabinet was scratched and dented, as though someone had tried to break it open.
 
“Did you beat this up, Constantine?”
 
The sassy gnome caught his breath and looked horrified. He opened his mouth to speak but shut it again, saying nothing. He huffed, obviously annoyed, and then went through the whole routine again until he found some words.
 
“I cannot believe you think I would do this!” He grabbed his hat and shook it at me in exasperation. “Do I look like the kind of fella that would beat up an unsuspecting cabinet?!” He spluttered some more, held his arms out, and spun around in a very ungraceful circle, presumably for me to take a look at him. Then he shoved his hat back on. “Huh, Keeper? Do I?”
 
I swallowed my laugh, remembering his stomping a few moments ago.
 
“Umm, well, you are the only other one in here…”


I let my words trail off, knowing they would probably set him off again. He didn’t disappoint.
 
“Arrrrrrrggh!” Constantine exclaimed, pitching his hat in the air. But its trajectory had a backward angle such that it disappeared behind the cabinet. He shoved one hand in his pocket and pointed at me with the other. “Now you listen to me, Keeper Nicholas! You need to know that if there’s anyone around here with a level head, it’s me!”
 
I smiled. “I can see that.”
 
“G-Trash made all the dents in this here cabinet because it quit lettin’ him in when he showed up sloshed a while back!”
 
“Okaaaay…” I smiled again. My goodness he was excited. “Constantine?”
 
“What!”
 
“Can I get your hat for you?” I asked gently, my grin uncontainable.
 
His hands immediately went to his head – he didn’t realize he’d tossed it. He grinned sheepishly, his tirade derailed.
 
“Uhhh, yeah.” He looked around. “Where’d it go?
 
I squatted down to slide the cabinet.
 
“Wait, no!” Constantine warned from above, but it was too late.
 
A pink, armored ball rolled out from a hole revealed there. Before I could react, the ball exploded into a pink armadillo in a comical ninja-like stance.
 
“Halt, you heathens!”
 
“Oh, brother,” Constantine murmured.


 
To be continued…
 

Author Notes 'The Gardens at Weatherbury' is a collection of 500-word chapters about young Nicholas' continuing adventures as Groundskeeper to the unique gardens at the fantastical Weatherbury Estate.

SPECIAL NOTE: This is only Chapter 3 --- Be sure to pop over to my Portfolio and catch up on past chapters. :) Gardens at Weatherbury is right there on top! Don't miss out on this fun adventure! And, yes, each chapter is only 500 words, folks! ;)

CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Nicholas (narrator) - young boy (current age 17), telling of adventures since accepting Weatherbury's Groundskeeper job at age 14.

Constantine - garden gnome and self-appointed on-site manager of the Gardens

Rosalind - (aka Rosa) sentient climbing rosebush whose job it is to guard the Garden Shed

Sir Phillipe - owner of Weatherbury Estate

George Thrasher - (aka G-Trash, according to Constantine) former Groundskeeper, employment terminated by Sir Phillipe in Prologue

Thank you so much for reading me! ;)


Chapter 4
C4 - A New Cohort

By Y. M. Roger

I threw my hand over my mouth quickly to keep from laughing at the oh-so-serious and, yes, oh-so-very-pink critter.
 
“Ye be trespassing, the both of ye,” he warned, angling a clawed hand at each of us.
 
Hopping down from the cabinet, Constantine appeared beside him. Startled, the armadillo stiffened into ninja stance again. But Constantine just shook his head, reached out to lay a flattened palm on those pink claws, and pushed them down slowly. I still could not contain my grin.
 
“He’s the real Groundskeeper, Archie,” Constantine said, indicating me with his head.
 
Still in my squatting position, I offered my hand in greeting.
 
“Good to meet you, Archie.”
 
He eyed me suspiciously as he stared for a few silent moments. The mouth on his little snout opened slightly and a long, pointed tongue snaked slowly out and back in. He reached down with his short arms and scratched his nearly-bare belly, releasing a comfortable nearly musical snort as his tongue disappeared.
 
Constantine huffed, rolling his eyes, and elbowed Archie, knocking him a bit off-balance.
 
“I sa-a-a-a-aid” – Constantine’s voice became a bit more insistent – “he’s the real Groundskeeper. Haven’t  you been payin–”
 
Archie cut off Constantine’s words as he straightened himself as much as possible.

“Sir Archibald of the Shed.” He then stood on tip-toe and bowed so low I was tempted to reach out and keep him from collapsing into a ball again. “I am your humble servant, Groundskeeper.”
 
As he completed his regal flourish, Constantine elbowed him again and whispered, “Just shake his hand, ya gimp.”
 
Archibald stepped forward, his gait more of a wobble, and extended a clawed hand as much as possible with his short arms. I enclosed his hand in mine, realizing at that moment just how sharp those claws really were.
 
“Is it okay if I call you Archie, Sir Archibald?”
 
Archie ducked his head, although I couldn’t decide if it was a show of respect or shyness on his part or something else.
 
That tongue slid out and in again as he chanced a glance up at me and then quickly away again.
 
“Of course, if that is your wish, Groundskeeper.” His snort that followed sounded less melodic, like the lower note of a saxophone.
 
But there was something off, like his lively spark was missing. I thought back over his appearance and noble self-introduction, and Constantine’s comment. I realized why that spark was gone.
 
I smiled at them both and winked at Constantine, tugging on Archibald’s hand just a bit to get him to look at me.
 
“No, I think not.” I squeezed his hand and let it go, although I kept our eyes locked. “A knight should wear his title, Sir Archibald.”
 
“Sir Archie, will do, Groundskeeper.” He raised his head proudly again and stood as tall as his armor would allow.
 
I nodded, reaching behind them to get Constantine’s hat. Handing it to the grinning gnome, I stood and brushed off my pants.
 
“Now, to get into this cabinet…”

 

 
to be continued…
 
 
 
**The Gardens at Weatherbury' is a collection of 500-word chapters about young Nicholas' continuing adventures as Groundskeeper to the unique gardens at the fantastical Weatherbury Estate.
 

CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Nicholas (narrator) - young boy (current age 17), telling of adventures since accepting Weatherbury's Groundskeeper job at age 14.
 
Constantine – garden gnome and self-appointed on-site manager of the Gardens
 
Rosalind – (aka Rosa) sentient climbing rosebush whose job it is to guard the Garden Shed
 
Sir Archibald – (aka Archie) eccentric pink armadillo tasked with organization and upkeep of the Garden Shed

Sir Phillipe - owner of Weatherbury Estate

George Thrasher – (aka G-Trash according to Constantine) former Groundskeeper, employment terminated by Sir Phillipe in Prologue

 

Author Notes Sorry about the delay -- I'm climbing out of my 'serious writing deficit' this week.... Let the FUN Begin!! ;) :) Thank you so much for your support and for reading me! ;)


Image of Image of 'Secret Garden Door' from Pinterest [www.pinterest.ca]


Chapter 5
C5- Finally, The Cabinet

By Y. M. Roger

END of Chapter Four:  I nodded, reaching behind them to get Constantine’s hat. Handing it to the grinning gnome, I stood and brushed off my pants.
 
“Now, to get into this cabinet…”


BEGIN Chapter Five:
Archie and Constantine stood on either side of me.
 
“Now, where would the key fit?” I mumbled, probably incoherently, to myself as I dropped to my knees.
 
I ran my hand over the front of the top drawer. It not only looked dented, it really was awfully banged up. My fingers confirmed some of the depressions were so deep that I feared their depth would prevent the cabinet ever opening again.
 
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Constantine staring at me, unbelieving. From my other side, one of Sir Archie’s musical snorts echoed around us.
 
I dropped my hands to my side and let my gaze bounce from one to the other. Both of them were staring at me like I had grown another head. Before I could ask, Constantine broke the confounding silence, those hands returning to his hips as one foot tapped out his annoyance.
 
“What in Ana*’s name are you doing, Groundskeeper?” His brow was as furrowed as I’d seen it yet.
 
Sir Archie trundled forward to face the flustered gnome, placing himself between the cabinet and me.
 
“Silence, ye nattering gnome!” Archie held his hand out like a policeman stopping traffic. “Groundskeeper Nicholas here be blessing the vessel of our Garden’s Texts.”
 
He stepped back with another of his grand flourishes and indicated I should continue.
 
“At your lead, Groundskeeper.”
 
I opened my mouth to correct him, but Constantine stepped forward and placed himself in the same spot Archie had just vacated. Only Constantine stood facing me and contritely removed his hat.
 
“My apologies to ye, Groundskeeper.” Constantine bowed his head briefly and then raised his eyes upward, the volume of his speech increasing somewhat. “And to ye, Ana!” He lowered his voice again. “Proceed.”
 
A short series of Archie’s melodious musings emanated beside me as Constantine stepped aside and indicated the cabinet with an exaggerated swish of his arm.
 
They both stood there with their heads bowed, like they were reverently awaiting a prayer or something.
 
“Guys, I–” But Archie cut me off with an insistent snapping of his fingers, an amazing feat with those claws. The action reminded me of my mom when she was on the phone and wanted us quiet.
 
“The blessing, Groundskeeper,” Archie chided.
 
Rolling my eyes, I took a deep breath and held it. What was I going to do? Slowly, I slid all the fingertips of one hand down the entire front of the cabinet as I searched my nervous brain for anything that I could ‘fake’ some sort of blessing with. Instead, I ended up just letting out the breath I’d been holding as I’d tried to think of something.
 
To my surprise, the top drawer opened slowly with a slight groan.
 
My two cohorts cheered as Constantine scrambled back on top of the cabinet, and Archie clambered onto my lap, struggling mightily to pull himself up and peer into the drawer as I opened it further.
 
I gasped. It was so bright inside!

 
 

to be continued…


**The Gardens at Weatherbury' is a collection of 500-word chapters about young Nicholas' continuing adventures as Groundskeeper to the unique gardens at the fantastical Weatherbury Estate. The chapters are short to maintain the attention of a pre-teen audience for whom it is written.

CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Nicholas (narrator) - young boy (current age 17), telling of adventures since accepting Weatherbury's Groundskeeper job at age 14.
 
Constantine – garden gnome and self-appointed on-site manager of the Gardens
 
Rosalind – (aka Rosa) sentient climbing rosebush whose job it is to guard the Garden Shed
 
Sir Archibald – (aka Archie or Sir Archie) eccentric pink armadillo tasked with organization and upkeep of the Garden Shed

Sir Phillipe - owner of Weatherbury Estate

George Thrasher – (aka G-Trash according to Constantine) former Groundskeeper, employment terminated by Sir Phillipe in Prologue

 

Author Notes Ana - Counted among the oldest of the ancient Celtic gods in Ireland, Ana (also known as Anu, Dana, Danu, and Annan) is described as a mother goddess. She is often portrayed as a beautiful and mature woman and was associated with nature and the spiritual essence of nature, while also representing the contrasting (yet cyclic) aspects of prosperity, wisdom, death, and regeneration. [www.realmofhistory.com]

Starting the New Year off right, folks! ;-) After a delay through November/December, mid-term exams, and the holidays, Nicholas and the gang return! We shall endeavor to keep them on track this semester...
Thank you, as always, for reading me! ;-)

Image of 'Secret Garden Door' from Pinterest [www.pinterest.ca]


Chapter 6
C6 - A Little Trouble

By Y. M. Roger

END of Chapter Five: 
To my surprise, the top drawer eased open with a slight groan.
 
My two cohorts cheered as Constantine scrambled back on top of the cabinet, and Archie clambered onto my lap, struggling mightily to pull himself up and peer into the drawer as I opened it further.
 
I gasped. It was so bright inside!


BEGIN Chapter Six:
Reaching into the drawer’s glowing aura, I was startled backwards by four swooping and darting miniature drones that emerged.  Okay, so I knew they couldn’t be drones, but they behaved like them:  bright and colorfully lit, the golf-ball-sized beacons buzzed all around us. Neither Archie – standing and brushing himself off from where he had tumbled off my lap – nor Constantine – who only leaned in closer to the opening – seemed to notice them.
 
I shrugged my shoulders and peered into the drawer again. Squinting, I saw a stack of rolled papers that ran the length of the drawer and a small, rectangular box.
 
I reached toward one of the rolls only to have one of those buzzing lights take aim at my hand.
 
“Ooow!” I looked at the place where it hit me – there was a small welt.  “What was that for?”
 
One of the little flying menaces stopped and hovered in my line of sight. At first, I thought it was a bug. It had wings, of course, and was a glowing bluish-green, but it also had six arms or legs and a tail to help it stay balanced and upright. Its face, though, looked like a tiny person with a long, pointy nose protruding from between large saucer-shaped eyes. Its ears were also pointed and took up the whole of either side of its head while two extra-long antennae took up the top part. And those antennae bobbed and danced to a tune that I certainly didn’t hear.
 
“That was for trespassing!” Narrowing those big eyes, it folded the two upper pairs of arms as the bottom set tapped – in mid-air, mind you – to the same silent rhythm as the antennae. But as serious as I’m sure it meant to be and despite my annoying injury, I could not help the smile that began to spread across my face at the sound of that voice: it was high-pitched and tinny and had a funny vibrato flavor to it.
 
Both Archie and Constantine spoke up to argue, but I couldn’t stop the request that spilled out of my mouth.
 
“Say it again!”
 
At first, it was shocked. Its eyes widened, the middle pair of arms unlocking to hang at its side.
 
“Do what?” it asked in that voice that just tickled me to no end. A small wisp of aqua smoke curled from beneath that nose.
 
I did not even try to contain my grin.
 
“Say it again! Come on, say anything!”
 
Its skin transitioned from that blue-green to purple and, finally, to bright red as the buzz of its wings increased to more of a whine.  It looked like a little red chili pepper about to explode.
 
“Are you” – it reversed its position and looked about ready to charge my face – “lau-”
 
At that moment, Constantine stood and grabbed it by the tail, turning its teeny tirade into a prolonged squeal complete with flailing arms and limbs and aqua smoke.
 
From out of my periphery, came a plump blueberry that smacked it in the chest, silencing it instantly.
 
As it hung there, limp, growling, and dripping with blueberry juice, I let my focus fall beyond it to Constantine’s pursed face.
 
“Imps.”
 
And then the loud, light show really began.


to be continued...



**The Gardens at Weatherbury' is a collection of approximately 500-word chapters about young Nicholas' continuing adventures as Groundskeeper to the unique gardens at the fantastical Weatherbury Estate. The chapters are short to maintain the attention of a pre-teen audience for whom it is written.

CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Nicholas (narrator) - young boy (current age 17), telling of adventures since accepting Weatherbury's Groundskeeper job at age 14.
 
Constantine – garden gnome and self-appointed on-site manager of the Gardens
 
Rosalind – (aka Rosa) sentient climbing rosebush whose job it is to guard the Garden Shed
 
Sir Archibald – (aka Archie or Sir Archie) eccentric pink armadillo tasked with organization and upkeep of the Garden Shed

Sir Phillipe - owner of Weatherbury Estate

George Thrasher – (aka G-Trash according to Constantine) former Groundskeeper, employment terminated by Sir Phillipe in Prologue

Author Notes Thank you, as always, for reading me! ;-)

Image of 'Secret Garden Door' from Pinterest [www.pinterest.ca]


Chapter 7
C7 -Those Pesky Imps

By Y. M. Roger

End of Chapter 6:
At that moment, Constantine stood and grabbed it by the tail, turning its teeny tirade into a prolonged squeal complete with flailing arms and limbs and aqua smoke.
 
From out of my periphery, came a plump blueberry that smacked it in the chest, silencing it instantly.
 
As it hung there, limp, growling, and dripping with blueberry juice, I let my focus fall beyond it to Constantine’s pursed face.
 
“Imps.”
 
And then the loud, light show really began.

 
Begin Chapter 7: 
The other three imps started buzzing aggressively around Constantine’s head. While he made a valiant effort to fend them off, he had to release the blueberry-covered one to grab his hat away from the two that had lifted it off his head. A blueberry splattered in the middle of his forehead while another burst across his nose.
 
“Arrrchieee!” Constantine shouted as I stood to try to help him shoo them away. I was trying to be gentle, but those bites or whatever they were hurt!
 
In addition to their high-pitched buzzing sounds, the little menaces were hollering all sorts of things I couldn’t understand. I waved my hands as another blueberry found its mark near my eye.
 
“How do we make ‘em stop, Const–”
 
Constantine interrupted me with an even louder bellow. “Arrrrrchieee–”
 
Suddenly, some sweet-smelling mist floated upward from beside me. No, it wasn’t actually floating because I could hear an aerosol spray can.
 
“Fear not, Groundskeeper!” That was Sir Archie’s voice, but where...
 
I tried to get a better look at the source of the mist. Then, one of the imps flew into the big cloud and dropped out of the air like a struggling leaf falls from a tree. He screeched like an un-oiled hinge all the way down.
 
“Be grounded, ye pestilence!” Archie’s determined voice drew my attention.
 
I looked down just in time to see him scuttle to a different position and aim a small spray can at another of the flying imps. A small, thick cloud rose from the can and enveloped the contentious little thing. The imp let out a cross between a prolonged growl and very annoyed whine as he augured in to join his brethren on the ground.
 
“Ay! Been too long since ye been released!” Archie loudly proclaimed as he turned the can on another that was headed directly toward my face. “Ye fergot yer manners, ye doaty lil’ beg-“
 
“Sir Archie, no! Not my fa–” 
 
But it was too late. I felt the tiny little droplets coat my cheek even as the third imp tumbled noisily out of the air.
 
The remaining airborne imp halted and hovered. He faced Archie and spread his upper two pairs of arms in a show of surrender. Glad the madness seemed to be over, I raised my hand to my cheek. It smelled quite sweet and was really sticky…
 
Before I had time to even contemplate that, the exercised Constantine raised his hat in in his hand, taking aim at the hovering gnome.
 
“You tormenting lit–”  But I stayed his arm.
 
“Constantine! He gave up! You can’t jus–”
 
Psssssssssssst!
 
Archie drenched the little guy, and it dropped straight to the ground.
 
“Sir Archibald!”
 
But Archie, quite unruffled, turned toward me and bowed in another of his regal flourishes. Then he stood and began licking the spray can.
 
“They shall show proper respect from now on, Groundskeeper,” Archie chided between licks. Curiously, his voice was raised as if speaking to someone other than myself. He licked the spray can one more time and replaced the lid. He then reached inside his armor behind him, pulled out some blueberries, and leaned toward the ground. “Won’t ye, imps?”

 

To be continued…
 
 
 

**The Gardens at Weatherbury is a collection of approximately 500-word chapters about young Nicholas' continuing adventures as Groundskeeper to the unique gardens at the fantastical Weatherbury Estate. The chapters are short to maintain the attention of a pre-teen audience for whom it is written.

CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Nicholas (narrator) - young boy (current age 17), telling of adventures since accepting Weatherbury's Groundskeeper job at age 14.
 
Constantine – garden gnome and self-appointed on-site manager of the Gardens
 
Rosalind – (aka Rosa) sentient climbing rosebush whose job it is to guard the Garden Shed
 
Sir Archibald – (aka Archie or Sir Archie) eccentric pink armadillo tasked with organization and upkeep of the Garden Shed

 
Imps – (names to follow) an imp is a small mischievous sprite

Sir Phillipe - owner of Weatherbury Estate

George Thrasher – (aka G-Trash according to Constantine) former Groundskeeper, employment terminated by Sir Phillipe in Prologue

 

Author Notes Thank you, as always, for reading me! ;-)

Image of 'Secret Garden Door' from Pinterest [www.pinterest.ca]


Chapter 8
How to Train Your Imp

By Y. M. Roger

SPECIAL NOTE:  Through May 16th, you can also earn points and bucks for EVERY CHAPTER of the book up to this one. Just pop over to my Portfolio and it’s right there on top! Don’t miss out on this fun adventure! And, yes, each one is only about 500 words, folks! ;)
 
End of Chapter 7:
But Archie, quite unruffled, turned toward me and bowed in another of his regal flourishes. Then he stood and began licking the spray can.
 
“They shall show proper respect from now on,
Groundskeeper,” Archie chided between licks. Curiously, his voice was raised as if speaking to someone other than myself. He licked the spray can one more time and replaced the lid. He then reached inside his armor behind him, pulled out some blueberries, and leaned toward the ground. “Won’t ye, imps?”

 
BEGIN Chapter 8…
The imps either stood or sat on the ground and glared up at Archie. Each of them was covered completely in honey. Two of them actually looked contrite while the other two kept shooting glances between Archie and myself – their upper set of arms folded in defiance.
 
I was busy trying to wipe the honey off my own face with my shirt. It really was almost like wet glue! Looking down at the imps, I think I might have been a bit scared of the two trying to look menacing if they weren’t so small. Oh, and ve-e-e-ery sticky…
 
“Well?” Archie chided, as he handed the two more docile imps their blueberries. They each nodded heartily with a playful smile as they took the proffered berries. A chorus of yes and most certainly sang between them.
 
But Archie drew the remaining berries back toward him as the other two remained staunchly defiant.
 
“Shot? Jerry?” Archie called them by name and raised himself to ‘full’ height again – still small for an armadillo but quite large to the honeyed imps – as he held one blueberry up, waiting for their acquiescence. He rolled it slowly, tauntingly, between two of his clawed ‘fingers’.
 
“Ye imps are so stupid!” Constantine chided them in an exasperated voice just above a whisper. “Yer new Groundskeeper’s here, so ye know what he’s gonn–”
 
Before Constantine finished, Archie’s long tongue darted out, snagged the berry, and disappeared again. I was horrified.
 
“Sir Archie that wasn’t ni–” But I wasn’t able to finish.
 
Shot and Jerry instantly transitioned into two completely different personalities.
 
The one that Constantine had held earlier – Shot, apparently – went back into exploding chili pepper mode. Of course, he couldn’t fly weighted down with all the honey, but he managed to stir up a bunch of dust that immediately stuck to him. Everywhere. I think he was screeching obscenities, but it was hard to understand him. And he was turning into a real, muddy mess. The other imp, Jerry, simply fell over and died.
 
Well, okay, so that’s what I thought at first until I realized he had actually thrown himself on the ground! He lay on his back, wailing and moaning with hands clasped over his chest, about how they were all abused and that he, in particular, would die of starvation before sundown.
 
“And now I’ll die starving and dirty because our lot in life is to be mistreated by… by… Aaaaahhh, have mercy! Please!”
 
He rolled up to his lower set of knees, holding his other two sets of hands in a praying position, and looked up at me.
 
“Oh, glorious and impressive Groundskeeper,” he implored so pitifully, “please make the pink abomination give me the remaining berry of power!”
 
“Nooooo!!” Shot screeched, running toward Jerry and pushing him over. Shot continued his tirade. “It’s mine, Groundskeeper! He hit me with his, so he shouldn’t get anoth–”
 
Jerry quickly stood, put all four upper hands to his chest and dramatically ‘fell’ over again, back on the ground.
 
“Abused!” Jerry called out, all six legs flopping once for each clause, “That’s what I am, I tell you, oh mighty Groundskeeper! Save me! Give me the berry of po–”
 
Shot dived on top of Jerry, and they really got after it. They became a big ball of dust and blinking lights and whines and tiny growls until…
 
Splash!
 
At some point during their performance, Archie had retrieved an old tin can filled with water. As I watched in wonder and Constantine shook his head muttering, the two imps quickly separated. They sat there, soaking wet and sputtering, in the middle of a small puddle.
 
And the other two? They started dancing and cheering and shouting at Archie.
 
“Now us, Sir Archibald! Now us! Now us! It’s our turn now!”

 
 To be continued…
 
 
 
**The Gardens at Weatherbury is a collection of approximately 500-600 word chapters about young Nicholas' continuing adventures as Groundskeeper to the unique gardens at the fantastical Weatherbury Estate. The chapters are short to maintain the attention of a pre-teen audience for whom it is written.

CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Nicholas (narrator) - young boy (current age 17), telling of adventures since accepting Weatherbury's Groundskeeper job at age 14.
 
Constantine – garden gnome and self-appointed on-site manager of the Gardens
 
Rosalind – (aka Rosa) sentient climbing rosebush whose job it is to guard the Garden Shed
 
Sir Archibald – (aka Archie or Sir Archie) eccentric pink armadillo tasked with organization and upkeep of the Garden Shed
 
Imps – (an imp is a small mischievous sprite) We have met Jerry and Shot. There are a total of four imps.

Sir Phillipe - owner of Weatherbury Estate

George Thrasher – (aka G-Trash according to Constantine) former Groundskeeper, employment terminated by Sir Phillipe in Prologue

 

Author Notes Probably the longest chapter thus far, but I didn't want to interrupt Jerry's dramatic performance... lol!

Thank you, as always, for reading me! ;-)

Image of 'Secret Garden Door' from Pinterest [www.pinterest.ca]



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