#SampleSunday @HollyJahangiri Unravels A Plot

Cover of Force of Habit - A blank puzzle with one piece levitating.I felt like writing another Holly Jahangiri story, so I did. Holly Jahangiri is a real person who won two contests to have her name in a story, and has thus become a regular character of mine. The Holly stories take place on Llannonn, the world I invented for my science fiction comic crime novel, FORCE OF HABIT. Pel Darzin is a character in that novel, although Holly didn’t come along until later.

This is also the fulfillment of the Quills and Quibbles writing group’s writing exercise for this month.

Holly Unravels A Plot
by Marian Allen

In the common room of the family lodge in a tiny village in Meadow of Flowers Province of the planet Llannonn, Elderly Spinster Holly Jahangiri sat knitting a pratty harness for her youngest nephew. She smiled as she worked, seemingly absorbed in her task, while two visitors from Council City talked to her.

“Frankly, we’re baffled,” said the older of the two men, head of the Planetary Smuggling Stoppage Taskforce. “PSST has no clue how these people pass information to one another. We know who they are, but they take sadistic delight in thwarting us.”

Dunnllevvy had come at the behest of his friend, Retired Policing Chief Pel Darzin, who said, “You helped me so often when you were Head Librarian of the Living Library in Council City, I thought perhaps you could help Dunnllevvy.”

“I can try.”

“You see,” said Dunnllevvy, “these two fellows – Call them Suspected Felon A and Suspected Felon B – have been spending credits they shouldn’t have, given their legal employment. It’s coming from somewhere, and it always comes just after a wave of contraband goods hits the streets.”

“What sort of contraband?”

“Oh, nasty stuff! Sugary sweets, unattractive hair dye, paintings on black velvet, that sort of rot.”

Holly tsked and shook her head sadly. What was Llannonn coming to? It was quite different from when she was a girl.

“But,” Dunnllevvy went on, “the two never meet. We monitor their communications, and they never communicate. They don’t go to the same places. They don’t know the same people. Darzin, here, picked up on a silly thing and dragged me away from the investigation to talk to you about it.”

“Perhaps it is silly,” Darzin said, “but it’s the only thing the two have in common. They both patronize the Council City Living Library, and they’ve checked the same book out several times each.”

“That’s odd, indeed,” said Holly, knitting needles clicking in a ladylike staccato.

“After Darzin pointed it out, I withdrew the book, myself, and had him recite himself to me. Darzin was there. What did you think, Darzin?”

“Wonderful book,” Darzin said. “Very strange. Very funny. It’s no wonder the suspected felons like it well enough to listen to it more than once.”

“What’s the book?” Holly asked.

“THE THIEF OF TIME by Terry Pratchett.”

“Oh, one of my favorites! I thought he had retired. A new copy must have come in.”

“He’s rather young,” Darzin noted.

“Frankly,” said Dunnllevvy, “you’re welcome to it. Rubbish, I thought.” He snorted. “The table of contents was the best thing about it.”

Holly stopped knitting. “I beg your pardon? What did you say?”

Somewhat defensively, Dunnllevvy repeated, “I said the table of contents was the best thing about the rubbishy book.”

“Taskforce Head Melkorp Dunnllevvy,” said Holly, “arrest those men, and arrest that book! I know how they’re passing information. I’ve read THE THIEF OF TIME. It isn’t broken into chapters. It has no table of contents!

~ * ~

Any resemblance between the characters in this story and any Miss Marple, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write a story of 500 words or FEWER using the words contraband, table, and sadistic.




I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “#SampleSunday @HollyJahangiri Unravels A Plot

  1. Holly Jahangiri

    July 21, 2013 at 8:50am

    Aha! You see what a little reading will do for a person? Wonderful story, Marian. Thank you. How on earth did you know I needed just such a pick me up this morning?

    But “Elderly Spinster”? Oh, dear, you’re not planning to kill me off so soon, I hope! (I’m giggling, now, remembering my horror at the possibility of appearing to be romantically linked to anyone but my wonderful, real life husband – who was just baffled, himself, as to why I’d be so prudish about my poor, fictional alter ego… I began to see how he’s managed to be married to a fiction writer all these years!)

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      Marian Allen

      July 22, 2013 at 11:39am

      Well, but Holly had to be an Elderly Spinster for the story. I should explain that, on Llannonn, Spinster is a title of respect (as, I suppose, are all titles on Llannonn, where EVERYBODY has a title….). You see, after Holly retired from Library work, she took up processing, spinning, and knitting wool from the family pratties, becoming a one-woman cottage industry and putting the Jahangiris on the cultural map. It has nothing to do with her marital/romantic status, you see. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

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      • Holly Jahangiri

        July 22, 2013 at 12:17pm

        Oh, NICE save, Marian – nice save!

        Purple wool is particularly nice, don’t you think? Elderly Spinster Holly Jahangiri is renowned in the Meadow of Flowers for her fuzzy purple snoods – she takes special care to crochet them each three times, unraveling with more vigor each time, until the properly “fluffy” look is achieved. She is to be commended for her painstaking diligence; indeed, she has put the family on the cultural map and brings great mirth to the region!

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          July 22, 2013 at 1:28pm

          Oh, I think a purple wool snood made according to the Marian Allen method, would be lovely! ~grin~

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  2. Helen Ginger

    July 24, 2013 at 10:25am

    Cute! Seems like ToCs are a topic of conversation today on the Internet.

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    • Holly Jahangiri

      July 29, 2013 at 8:07am

      Oh, you are both too kind. 😉 And where were you Saturday night? We crawled the blog…but you were conspicuously not there.

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        Marian Allen

        July 29, 2013 at 12:19pm

        On Saturday night, I was at Fandom Fest, crawling through the pedway between the convention center and the hotel. The three of us sharing the room went back there and killed a bottle of mead.

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    • Holly Jahangiri

      July 29, 2013 at 8:08am

      Real me wants to live in my happy Meadow of Flowers with fictional me, sometimes, Bob! I am so clever there… thanks to Marian!

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  3. Maryann Miller

    July 29, 2013 at 6:00pm

    @Holly Jahangiri – Saturday night I was at the theatre with my husband, my daughter and her three kids. We went to see a spoof on Harry Potter done by a local community theatre and the kids in their drama camp. It was cute, and I had a good time with the family. My grandkids are active in theatre, too, so we have a lot in common.

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