Welcome to the new Stream of Consciousness fiction blog.

A serial adventure in fiction by Brad Sondahl

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Chapter 31
Larry's Adventures of Harry the Potter.
(Phil is on vacation, and Larry told Phil that he had this great idea for a story that could make billions, about a potter named Harry and the fun times he had learning to make pottery.  Phil argued that Larry doesn't know anything about being a potter.  Larry said, "How hard can it be?  I mean you squish some clay around and make stuff.   Anybody can do it."    Since Phil is on vacation, he doesn't care what kind of drivel goes on in his fiction blog...)

     Little Harry was born with a lightning shaped potter's mark on his head.  But he never knew it was there, because at a precocious young age Harry discovered Dirt.  He played in dirt.  He put it in his mouth.  He got it all over himself.   Since Harry was abandoned by his parents at a precocious young age,  he never learned to take a bath.  Because of this, everyone he met started suggesting he should go far in life, and soon...  But one kind soul, before urging him onwards, told him he should go to the Mudwars pottery school, that he clearly had an innate talent with dirt.

    "So, young Harry, you want to be a potter, said Shojiwan, the master.  You are in luck.  We are initiating the new apprentices today.  This will determine which of the 4 pottery traditions you will aspire to.  As Harry entered the great Pottery Workshop, he felt home at last...  There were several  youngsters as dirty as he was.  In the middle of the floor was a dusty hat.

    "Reach into the hat, and find out which tradition you will aspire to," said Master Shojiwan.
    A big oafish boy reached in.  "Yucck! It's all goopy!"
    "Do you feel anything in the goop?" said Shojiwan.  "Feel the clay.  It will tell you your future."
    "It's just goopy," said the boy.
    "You're going to Casting House," said Shojiwan.  "Next!"

    A scrawny girl waif was next.  "Hey there's something flat in the bottom!"  She pulled out a tile.  She said to the boy, "You just didn't reach deep enough..."  
    "You're going to Tile House," said Shojiwan.  "It's your turn, Harry..."
    Harry felt like the time he spent Christmas at an orphanage, and he was the last one to dig into the plum pudding, to get a treat.  He didn't even get a plum...
    "There's probably nothing left in there," he said.  But he reached in.  "Hey, this is great dirt!  But it's kind of gritty, got sand in it."  He felt around some more.  "Nope, nothing in it,"  he said sadly.
    Shojiwan said,  "You are the only one to notice the sand in the clay.  This sand helps hold the clay together, when you form things from clay on the potter's wheel.  You are going to Wheel House!"  
Harry was the last to choose.  He wondered briefly what  the fourth tradition was, but had no time to ponder as he was led away to the squalid hut that would be his home as he learned the great art of wheel throwing...

    The person in charge of Wheel House was Professor Patty Turner.  Although as plain looking as her name suggests, she wore frilly aprons and carried off a motherish respectability which kept the young apprentices both duly respectful and enthralled.  For young Harry, life was looking idyllic, as he found he could actually make things in clay, until the day the Professor mentioned Waldemart.  It seems that the craft tradition that Harry was entering into was threatened by Lord Waldemart,  who used a secret method to make pottery which undercut the local potters' prices.  

The more Harry worked with clay, the more Harry resembled the clay itself.  This is because Professor Turner did not feel that students' personal hygiene was in her province, and no one else had ever taught Harry to bathe.  Slowly, Harry blended in with the clay spattered floor and walls of the studio, until finally he was not noticed at all.  No one thought he had left the School for Potters, since he still showed up plainly and regularly outside the studio for meals.  Some were  inclined to feel that he should put more time in to practicing in the studio.  But they were mistaken, as Harry spent more time in the studio than any other student.

      One day, while Harry worked unnoticed in the background,  Professor  Turner was discussing the problem of The Store That Shall not be Named with Master Shojiwan...
    Master Shojiwan said, "The sales of our gallery are down this month again.  Yet the quality of the students' work improves rapidly.  I never see Harry in here, but his output is very prolific."
    "Yes," said Professor Turner, "Just like That Store.  His pots seem to appear from nowhere..."
    "You don't think he's learned the same trick that They have?"
    "I just think he must work nights or something.  You can tell by looking at Harry that there's no trick--he's working in clay..."

    Harry was inclined to speak up and show them that he was right there, but Harry was not an eager talker, particularly to authority figures.  Harry had slowly become aware that he had become invisible in the studio, but it mattered little to him, outside of stepping out of others' way once in a while.
    But now he thought about them comparing him to Lord W...  He was glad the Professor defended Harry, but he was still incensed at the comparison.  If only he could find out the secret of Waldemart, so he could share it with the potters here at Mudwars...   Suddenly Harry realized that in the Waldemart studio, he would be invisible just like at Mudwars.  Harry had a magic cloak of invisibility!

    That night Harry set out to the nearby Waldemart.  On the way he was beset by trolls and wargs, but when he froze, they decided he was just a piece of the scenery.   Arriving at the giant black Park Inglot that surrounded Waldemart, Harry's resolve grew as tenuous as this plot.  The Waldemart Pottery studio was just off the Garden center, and as Harry entered through the garden entrance, he still blended in with the dirt.  But as he went through the doors in the pottery marked "Employees Only," Harry realized that this pottery studio was far different from Mudwars Academy.  It was CLEAN!

    What's more, the employees were all wearing cheerful blue aprons, with name badges that said things like, "Hi, I'm Bob, what can I do for you today!" on it.  As heads began to turn in his direction, Harry quickly realized that in this clean environment, his patina of dirt made him stand out, rather than blend in.  But where was his beloved dirt?  No where that he could see--only boxed on pallets, piled high to the ceiling.  

    "Here now, what's all this?" said the Night Watchman, who was clearly English in origin.
    "Where are the potters?" asked Harry.
    "Er, um, it's the middle of night, they're in bed, which is where you should be.  Er, in a flower bed, by the looks of you..."
    "But where are the kilns, the potter's wheels?"
    "I'll ask the questions, if you don't mind,"  said the Night Watchman haughtily.  "Didn't you see the signs that said Employees Only?  Out you go!"
Before Harry could protest further, he was back out in the Black Park Inglot.  Feeling defeated, Harry headed back to Mudwarts.

    Just as Harry was leaving the Park Inglot, three burly men in blue aprons came running after Harry.  Harry, being used to being ignored, felt he had nothing to fear from them.  However they grabbed him vigorously and dragged him back to Waldemart.
    "So, you're wondering where the potters are," said the leader of the group.  "We'll be more than happy to show you."
    They dragged Harry over to what appeared to be an out of order elevator with padlocked doors, and unlocked the doors.
    "Greet the potters for us," they said, and threw Harry into the empty shaft.

    For the first minute or two, Harry was terrified.  But the longer the fall went without the expected splat, Harry began to be only severely mortified.  After 15 minutes of falling, Harry became interested in the phenomenon, in a disconnected, this-can-only-end-badly sort of way.  Harry began to think about his predicament.  Although he was still 99 % sure that every hole has a bottom to it, and that from what he'd learned in school, the middle of the earth was too molten to support a hole clear through,  he still kept falling, and although it was too black to see anything, he could tell it wasn't molten anywhere near him.  After all, it would be glowing and he would resemble an overly toasted marshmallow...

    Harry had read once that gravity was actually a rather weak force, but that it was possible that most of its strength was manifested in some other dimensions.   So he decided he must have slipped into another dimension, because the pull of gravity remained pretty strong.  He was pretty sure he wasn't heading into a black hole, or if he were, he'd rather not know about it, so that was all right.  Finally there seemed to be some light glowing below him, so he oriented himself towards the light.  He could also feel himself slowing down, as the wind grew gentler.  Suddenly he popped up out of the hole into bright sunlight.  When his eyes adjusted, he felt himself slipping back towards the hole.   Fortunately a large hoop net was maneuvered out below him so that he didn't repeat the fall in reverse.  Harry was shocked to see who it was that held the net!

    There were several kids holding the net, and they looked just like Harry.  At least, they were covered with clay--more than that Harry couldn't ascertain at a glance.
    "Another one.  And nothing of any use..." said one of them, as Harry was dumped unceremoniously onto the ground.  The one who spoke walked off in disgust.
    A couple others lingered and gave Harry a slight smile.  "Don't mind him," one of them said.  "We usually listen for the whistling noise coming from down the hole, and hope something useful is going to pop up.  More potters we don't need.  Anyway, welcome to Stoneware."

    Harry said, "But, like, this is awesome.  You all look the same as me."
    "Sure," said one of them.  "Let's see if you've got the Potter's Mark..."  He took a wet sponge and pointed it at Harry's face.
    "Hey, what are you doing?"  said Harry.
    "It's called Washing your Face...  Not that I recommend it, or do it myself..."
    He scrubbed a bit on Harry's forehead.  "Yep, you've got the mark.  Same as us."  Harry looked at his reflection in a nearby window.
    "What does it mean?"  Harry said.

    "Well, Perry says it's convergent evolution, whatever that is," said one of them.  Another one stepped forward.
    "Yes, it's really very exciting.  It's not like we're all twins lost at birth, or clones, or anything.  I think it's just an amazing coincidence.  Like our names, for instance....  What's yours?"
    "I'm Harry," he said.
    "I'm Perry, that's Larry, and there's Mary, Jerry,  and Shari.  You see, it's an amazing coincidence!  And we all have the potter's mark on our foreheads."
    "Were you all thrown down the shaft like I was?" said Harry.
    "No, you're the first to come out of the shaft.  The rest of us have just been dumping our pottery down the shaft.  Sometimes we get something back, like action videos or computer games.  But you are proof that everyone everywhere is exactly alike..."
    "Umm, not exactly," said Harry.  In fact, back where I came from, I was sort of unique.  And I felt out of place.  No one noticed me.  But here, we all look the same--except the girls, I guess--hard to tell when we're all covered in clay.  This is the first place I've ever felt totally at home..."
    They chatted some more, but then one by one drifted off to the giant pottery studio, where they began turning out pots by the hundreds again.  In a short time, weeks had gone by, and Harry had totally blended into the group.
    However, one of the group, Larry, by name, had become more curious about what was on the other end of the shaft.  One day, after they finished dumping their load of pottery down the shaft, and the other potters had gone away, Larry jumped in the shaft as well. After the same harrowing experience that Harry had endured, Larry found himself in Waldemart.

    "You again!" said the Night Watchman. "I guess if we can't get rid of you by dumping you in the hole, we've got to figure something else out."
    Larry was led to the Head Office.  Inside the Manager looked at him and shook his head.
    "You don't look like much, but maybe you clean up good.  Sign here," he said, handing Larry a job application.
    "Here's your blue apron.  I think I'll put you in the extreme sports department.  You can't cause much trouble there...  Okay, lead him to the shower, and don't let him out till he's clean."

  So that's the story of how I came to this side of the planet, and got into marketing.  Later I met Phil Steen,  with whom I've shared many fine adventures.  And if only I had been born Harry Potter, instead of Larry Potter, who knows what I'd be doing today...
     Thanks, Larry, for "filling" in for Phil during summer vacation.  That's funny, you never looked Stonewarish to me...  
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Week 40
Week 41
Week 42
Week 43
Week 44
Week 45
Week 46
Week 47
(cartoon ends)
1. A River Too Far
2.The Reunion
3.The Daily Grind
4 The New Car and Treasure
5. The Big 
6. The old
7. The Ravine Runner 8. The Fabulous
Folk Festival
9. Druid
10. Goats of
Christmas Past
11. The Secret Six 12. The Great
White Hunters
13. The Old School
Lost in the City

What's in
a name?
The Curse of
Bently Manor
Shortbottom Possessed
The Lost
of Iraq
Phil Steen
for President!
Phil Steen
for Rehab
The Adventures
of Handiman
and Fiberwoman
Pirates of the Puget Sound
Building a platform, plank by plank
The Quest
for meaning
Larry and
Phil to
The Rescue
Hurrah for
the Reds,
Whites, and