Story Menu

On The Fringe

by Christi and Katrina

Post-Smoke & Mirrors and Sight Unseen

"I still can't believe it," Andrew remarked as he carelessly stacked several skeins of turquoise yarn in a basket.

"Can't believe what? There's been a lot of unbelievable stuff going on around here lately," Frances pointed out from her usual perch in the corner. "And coming from me, that's saying a lot."

"That we know someone famous, of course!" Andrew clarified with a roll of his eyes. "Not everyone is obsessed with creepy bug things from that weird chemical spill incident."

"Please. Chemical spill my ass," Frances retorted.

Andrew sighed, looking over to his boss for support. "Sue, darling, please stop her from launching into the alien conspiracy theories. I've about had my fill."

"Well, you have to admit that the story is a bit strange, Andrew," Sue ventured. "Not to mention the unfortunate side effects it's had on Kate."

Wide eyed, Kate looked up from her chair. "What? I don't need water. Hydration is overrated. Like natural foods and sleep."

Sometimes, the things that came out of Kate's mouth stopped being funny and started being a reason to worry.

"Whatever," Andrew said dismissively. "Colonel O'Neill was on TV. Next to a senator." He swallowed, reliving the picture with a dreamy smile. "In his dress blues."

"I thought you had given up on that particular crush," Sue pointed out, needles flying.

"Oh, sure. But having a bit of common sense doesn't mean that I can't enjoy the view," Andrew retorted.

"Fair enough," Sue allowed after a moment, adding with a sly smile, "And what a view it is."

"He made the news watchable. It's quite the feat," Frances laughed. "But aliens still surpass TV appearances."

"By a yarn shop customer? I think not," Andrew scoffed. "It's exciting!"

"So you've been insisting for the last three days. Please, tell us again," Kate remarked in a flat monotone.

Wrinkling his nose at her, Andrew sighed. "You ruin my fun. Why?"

"She has so little joy in her life," Sue defended. "Now stop fretting about it. You're going to get wrinkles."

The mere mention had Andrew darting to the window to check his reflection. "Seriously?"

In the glass, he could see Sue double over in a fit of giggles, and he turned to glare at her. "Not funny."

"Maybe not to you," Frances said with a snort.

"Have I quit today yet?" Andrew asked.

"Only once," Sue said around the giggles.

"Two weeks," he threatened. "Mark it down."

She never did - but then, he never really left, either. Luckily, before he could decide to break the cycle and make it official (or, more likely, completely give up the habit of quitting at all), the doorbell rang and the very object of many an argument came strolling through the door.

As he watched the colonel take off his sunglasses and wave at all of them in greeting, Andrew sighed inwardly. Why did all the good ones have to be straight?

"Colonel," Sue greeted with a smile. "Cookies are on the counter."

"Excellent," Jack replied, doing a moderately passable Mr. Burns imitation and grabbing a couple of the freshly baked cookies. "And how are we all today?"

"We saw you on tv!" Andrew blurted before anyone could answer.

Frances groaned. "We're all a flutter today, it seems."

Jack grinned, sitting next to Frances and munching contentedly. "Now, be honest - does the camera really add ten pounds?"

"Not where I could see it," Kate assured him. "But then, I only saw the front of you."

"Somehow, I don't think having a camera pointed at him magically made his butt bigger, Kate," Andrew felt the need to point out.

"Stranger things have happened," Sue interjected. "Especially lately. So, to what do we owe this honor, Jack?"

"Dubious though it may be?" he joked. "I just needed a yarn fix. Between projects at the moment." Finishing his last cookie, he stood and began to wander around the store, perusing the shelves. "Andrew, you've been busy."

"Lots of new stock," Andrew confirmed. "Some great cotton bamboo blends."

The colonel's casual shopping hit an abrupt and predictable halt at a shelf toward the front of the store, staring at a shelf of preknit items for sale. " the world are these?"

Andrew grinned, knowing exactly the shelf he was staring at without having to check. "You mean the neon insect monstrosities?"

"I suppose that's as good of a description as any," Jack agreed.

"Oh, we started making them a few weeks ago, inspired by a shared hallucination," Sue explained.

"Hallucination?" he asked. "Oh, you mean the chemical spill? That got to you guys?"

"Well, chemical spill or Sue tried to loosen me up with pot brownies," Kate grumbled. At the silence that filled the room after her accusation, she shrugged. "You have to admit that it's not completely implausible."

Sensibly, no one argued. Instead, Jack changed the subject. "And these things actually sell?"

"They've got quite the cult following," Andrew chimed in. "Alien freaks and geeks have been turning up by the truckload to request them."

"Aliens?" Jack questioned with a raised eyebrow.

"My alternative theory to chemical spill or drugs," Frances volunteered.

He smiled at her warmly. "Of course it is."

She grinned right back, not bothered by his comment. (Although Andrew never would have been allowed to make a similar one. Life was not fair.) "Hey, they're slowly helping Sue pay off the last bit of her mortgage."

"Every little bit helps," Jack agreed. "Congratulations, Sue."

"I can hardly take the credit. It was Frances' idea and she designs most of them," Sue shrugged.

"It takes talent to recognize talent," Jack pointed out with a shrug. "Though I can't believe Frances gave up black."

"It's a brief hiatus," Frances assured him. "Besides, Sue's giving me a cut of the profit."

He nodded. "Well, in honor of both of you, I'll take three. I know some people who will get a real kick out of them."

His announcement caused everyone in the shop to pause, and Andrew saw Kate and Frances exchange a loaded look. "So you recognize the creatures too, huh?" Frances asked, striving desperately to be casual.

"I'm afraid I can't say," Jack evaded smoothly, picking out an orange slug thing and eying a green creation with wings. "But I can't say I don't remember a shared hallucination or two."

After picking out his stuffed toys, a few skeins of a new sock yarn, and grabbing an extra cookie, he was gone, leaving The Yarn Shop silent for once.

"Is anyone else starting to wonder what exactly Jack O'Neill does in the Air Force?" Andrew finally ventured.

"Starting to?" Frances scoffed. "You are so slow."

"We have theories," Kate assured him. "Been working on them for years."

"Care to share?" he asked, curious now.

"Oh, secret experiments. Black ops. And aliens, of course," Frances volunteered.

Andrew sighed, wondering why he bothered. "Of course."

Previous Story

Next Story

Send Us An Email