Holly And The Turtles of Llannonn
by Marian Allen
“I never seen nothing like it.” The exterminator removed his cap and scratched his head, in case the traditional poor grammar of his profession was indecipherable to his client. She was, after all, the Head Librarian of Council City’s Living Library, specializing in books from far-away, exotic Earth.
Head Librarian Holly Jahangiri, who grew up in rural Meadow of Flowers province, understood him all too well.
“How much do I owe you for that opinion?”
“Don’t be like that, Miss. Tell you what: No charge for today, and you give me a chit to come early to the next Friends of the Living Library used costume sale. The missus loves Earth clothes.”
“Remember,” the exterminator said, as he left, “it ain’t alley jammers, I do know that. Don’t let anybody tell you it is and charge you for it.”
Alone in her office, Holly called pictures of the pest’s depredations up on her desk screen. Whatever it was, it was making a mess of the library garden. It was hard enough to grow anything in the city, let alone Earth plants, but the books always wanted to see the origins of the foods within their texts, and the library hadn’t room for Clan of the Cave Bear‘s mastodons. Tess of the d’Urbervilles, of course, had to have strawberries, and The Importance of Being Earnest threatened to go on strike for cucumbers. And here were the fruits of these plants and more, each fruit with one triangular bite taken out of it.
Parlormaid Tambar Miznalia barged in without knocking, carrying a tray of Holly’s tea order. She plunked it on the tea table.
Knowing the answer would be affirmative, Holly followed etiquette and asked, “Is something bothering you, Parlormaid Tambar Miznalia?”
“He didn’t stay long. He didn’t know what’s doing it, did he?”
“No. He didn’t.”
The parlormaid, who was also the tea cook, crossed her arms to match her mood. “It’s nasty. I don’t like working with spoiled food. Besides, it might be under a leaf and bite me.”
That was true. If any employee ever took someone to court for allowing a wild animal to bite her in the garden, Parlormaid Tambar Miznalia was that employee.
Then the maid justified her employment. She said, “It’s eating Earth plants; maybe it’s an Earth animal.”
Holly leaped from her chair and embraced the sullen domestic, who burst into tears. So few people ever wanted to hug her, the over-stimulation threatened to send her into hysterics.
“There, there,” said Holly absently. “I apologize for taking the liberty, but that’s such a good notion! We’ll ask the books if they can put their texts together and figure this out.”
As it happened, only one head was needed, for the non-fiction Diode’s Experiment: A Box Turtle Investigates the Human World knew exactly what it was.
A call to Holly’s friend on the Council City policing force, Pel Darzin, told them the rest of the story.
“People buy these exotic pets,” he said, “then they get bored with them or don’t know how to care for them properly and turn them loose. Sometimes they drive them into the provinces to release them, but sometimes they just put them out on the street for alley jammers to deal with.”
When parlormaid Tambar Miznalia heard that, she joined Holly and the books in a thorough search of the grounds and, when the culprit was found, claimed him for herself. With the help of Diode’s Experiment, she set up a safe and comfortable habitat for him in a corner of the garden, and devoted at least an hour every day to personal interaction and turtle enrichment.
Holly personally coached every book in the library to begin each self-recitation with a Public Service Announcement about the importance of responsible pet ownership.
As a result, the Turtle Rescue Association of Llannonn And Liveable Asteroids awarded the library its badge of honor, the coveted TRALALA.
~ * ~
Wasn’t it self-effacing of me to use today’s Sample Sunday to write a Holly Jahangiri story, when the prompt was obviously suggesting I push my SAGE trilogy? Oh, what the hell: check out my SAGE page to see what these chelonians have in common with fantasy.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about turtles.