Category Archives: humor

AeroQuest 4… Canto 113

Canto 113 – Prisoners on the Shadowcat

Ham sat at the pilot-seat controls aboard his safari ship, looking out the main portal into the cavernous docking bay of the Bregohelma.  It was depressing.  Trying to suicidally destroy his enemy, he had become a mere prisoner instead.

Admiral Tang didn’t see him as anything more than a flea that needed to be slapped.  He was glad he and his crew were not dead, but he was irked by the fact that he had been far less of a factor in the Battle of Coventry than had his friend the Goofer.  And worse, now Goofy and all those potential allies on Coventry were all dead too.  What step comes next?

There was activity in the docking bay.  Armed men in combat armor were filing in, keeping together in highly organized tactical formations.  Dang!  Imperial Marines!  There would probably be little hope of surviving this encounter.

“Boss!  Yo, Boss!”  Sinbadh came stumbling into the bridge of the ship with an armload of unattached plasma gun parts.  “We gots plenty o’ buccaneers ready to board us!”

“Yes, I know.  Stow the guns away.  We are gonna meekly surrender and hope they don’t kill us.”

“Blimey, Cap’n!  We surrender without a fight?”

“Yes, my friend.  The Madonna is pregnant.  Sahleck is a little boy.  Professor Marou is really, really old…”

“Not that old!” I said as I revealed myself from where I had secretly been watching Ham from behind the bulkhead.

“Hey, Professor, what were you doing hiding back there?” Ham asked.

“Well, I…”  I tried to think of a quick excuse.  It suddenly wasn’t necessary.

“Ham Aero!  Han Ferrari!  Come out!” came the strangely compelling voice.  We all felt a deep black fear swelling in our guts and pulling us painfully toward the voice like a nose ring attached to a chain being pulled by a steady, relentless strength.

“Good Lord!” swore Ham.  “It’s Admiral Tang, and he has us in his power.”

Ham was right.  It was Tang’s special Psion power.  He could manipulate us with our own fear.  He controlled us completely.

“Don’t shoot!  We’re coming out!”  I heard Duke Ferrari saying it from the exit ramp beneath us.  And there was no choice.  We filed out of the Shadowcat like puppets on strings.

Admiral Brona Tang was not only the scariest being I had ever met up to that point in my life, he was also the biggest.  He was easily six foot eleven, and encased from head to toe in powered battle armor.  The armor was even a bright red color, as if to emphasize the blood he had spilled and the blood he still intended to spill.  His face was a red mask with black eye portals, an alien, evil sort of face.  He also wore a hat on top of the helmet, a wide-brimmed red hat that looked vaguely like the kind of hat worn by Catholic friars in the long-ago Dark Ages, the fourteenth century.  In fact, as I thought of it, images of the Inquisition and power-mad Cardinals leapt to mind.

“Good.  You have decided to relent and surrender.”  The voice was electronically enhanced and almost sounded like three voices in one to me.

Ham, Duke Ferrari, and I stood in front, as if to shield the others.  Sinbadh stood behind with the poor Nebulon Madonna on one side, and the trembling Lupin boy, Sahleck Kim on the other side.  The wolfman put a hairy paw around the shoulders of each.

“Neither you nor your brother can escape me, Ham.  I have you in my possession, and one of my most trusted agents is by Ged’s side, reporting his every move.  Your brother is even now beginning the quest that will dispose of that Ancient device that proved to be such a thorn in my side here at the Battle of Coventry.”  Tang laughed.  “I couldn’t ask for a sweeter vengeance.”

“Who… who is the agent?” asked Ham, against the force of Tang’s terrible will.

            “Ah, no!  It’s not that easy!  How do I know you haven’t manifested some terrible Psion power too by now?  It runs in our families.  Mine comes from my father.  Your brother’s is from Mammy Aero, a powerful Psion as well known to my father as Ged.  My mind is shielded, and I will tell you nothing.”

“Aren’t villains always supposed to brag about their evil plots to take over the galaxy?” I asked sarcastically.

Tang laughed again.  “I know you too, Dr. Marou.  I learned of you from those accursed Time Knights.  You are the one person here that future history books guarantee had to survive this encounter.  The same is not true for the rest.  Most of you will live no longer than the coming battle against Tron Blastarr at Outpost.  Oops!  Did I give something away?  How about this; I am committing what remains of the entire Imperial Navy to that battle.  I am going to win it and put an end to any possible time line where your so-called good guys can win.  The Imperium has kept order for hundreds of years.  It will last for thousands more.”

Sinbadh winked his doggy eye at me.  “Clever how ye got him to spill the ol’ soliloquy there, Doc.” he whispered.  “Tip o’ me hat to ye.”

“What will you do with us, then?” asked Ham.

“You will sit right here in the docking bay, prisoners aboard your own ship.  I am told I cannot destroy you tonight.  It has to wait for the battle.  But if I can outthink and kill a Time Knight, I can kill you.”

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The 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination

mercury_1957_monterey_pnk_02

Yes, she was a real car.  My dad bought her in the 60’s as a used car.  But she was a hardtop, not a convertible.  She was the car he drove to work every day in Belmond.  We called it the “Pink and White Pumpkin”, my sisters and I, referring to the pumpkin in Cinderella which the fairy godmother changes into a coach.  But it would only later become the car of my dreams.

mercury_19573120532728_a1bc76c091

You see, she was killed in the Belmond Tornado of 1966.  Her windows were all broken out and her frame was twisted.  So the pictures of her, though they look exactly like my memories of her, minus the rust spots, are not actual pictures of the car in question.  Our next door neighbor, Stan the Truck Man, was a mechanic always on the lookout for salvage parts.  He took her apart piece by piece while she sat in our driveway.  We continued to sit in her and play in her until all that was left was the bare frame.  My friend Werner told me for the first time about the facts of life and where babies really came from in the back seat while she was being gradually dismantled.  Of course, I was nine at the time and didn’t really believe him.  How could that grossness actually be true?

the-lady

But she still lives, that old dream car…  She is the reason that I objectify my imagination as a ship with pink sails.  My daydreams, my creative fantasies, and those long, lingering plays in the theater of my imagination as I am drifting off to sleep all start in the three-masted sailing ship with pink sails.  And that dream image was born from the Pink and White Pumpkin.  I have sailed in her to many an exotic place… even other planets.  And when I die, she will take me home again.

 

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Filed under goofiness, humor, imagination, nostalgia, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, telling lies

After the Last Chapter

Yes, I have reached a snag in the novel-writing process. I am definitely at the end of the story. The crisis point is past. The characters who have to die to resolve the central conflict are dead. The characters who needed to be rescued are already rescued. I have probably less than a thousand words left to write. But I still have to tie the knot in the end of the plot to keep all the main ideas and themes from pouring out and floating away with the wind. I need the final scene and a memorable end line.

And, I am ill. My chest hurts. My head hurts. And I have needed to sleep every time I have settled down to write it. What happens if the old Grim Reaper shows up again with a sharper scythe than he had on his last visit?

I don’t know

what comes after the last chapter. I don’t know it for the book I am writing, nor for the life I am living.

I freely admit that I have no confidence whatsoever that after I die I will wake up in Heaven. Baptists have told me I will go to Hell for not believing what they believe. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have assured me that there is no Hell for me to wake up in and be eternally tortured in. But they also tell me I get no Paradise forever because I stopped believing what they believe. I have repeatedly said in writing and conversations that I am a Christian Existentialist. And I have explained that I think that makes me an atheist who believes in God. That leaves me, more or less, as an agnostic, not knowing anything until it’s proven to me, and realizing that nobody can prove it besides the God that I believe in but who doesn’t exist.

Our lives are like a book.

Things happen before the book is opened and you begin to read, but they are not technically something that the book contains within it. And when the book is finished and you close it, the story is complete. But the book still exists even when it’s closed.

I am not concerned about the fact that my story will end. But with both the book I am working on and the life I am living still unfinished… well, I hope both stories will be finished.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, illness, novel writing, Paffooney, religion

Cardboard Castle Art

Slaying a blue dragon wasn’t the biggest event at the cardboard castle, but it was among the most memorable.
All sorts of people show up to parties I hold there. Of course, the guests don’t really have a choice in the matter.
Celebrities make an appearance if I can afford them. Mickey and Minnie cost me less than five dollars.
The place isn’t actually Hogwarts. It’s made of cardboard. I believe Hogwarts was made of polystyrene.
All sorts of heroes try to save the day in the cardboard castle.
Heroes at the cardboard castle are made, not born.
Sometimes the cast is a bit crazy.’
It is possible to take the Snowball Express from the castle to Toonerville. Mickey and Minnie are always ready to jump in front of the camera.
Of course, a few evil wizards are essential to the game.
Voldemort may have mistaken the place for Hogwarts too.
Sometimes I question the prevailing religion at cardboard castle. But Princess Jasmine seems to be fine with it.
But the old castle is a bit run down in parts of it. Maybe Princess Aurora can convince the Prince to invest in a few wall repairs.

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The Wizard in his Keep

And now…

The story is coming to an end. I am halfway through the last chapter. The climax of the plot is now finished and the final resolutions of the plot are being concluded. And so, soon you will be able to find this book on Amazon and see for yourself if the amazing levels of nonsense and fantastical lunacy were worth the wait.

A fatal car accident seriously alters the lives of the three Brown children, Daisy, Johnny, and Mortie. But they are rescued by their mysterious “Uncle Miltie”, a video-game designer who is somehow involved with the military, the CIA, and other strange things that may have caused their parents’ deaths. And Uncle Miltie takes them to live, not in his house, but inside the weird virtual reality game he has had a hand in creating. And something there is going terribly wrong.

The video game they now live in is called The Legend of Hoodwink. And it is entirely possible that they will become trapped there forever. At least the main characters of the game are nice. Hoodwink is the boy hero who looks pretty good to Daisy, and his sidekick is Babbles, the Kelpie who can’t help but talk so fast you can’t really understand him.

I am ill as I write this, but lately that has been the story of my life too. A life or death game with rules you have to learn as you go, and a bizarre place where what is real and what is an illusion may prove to be exactly the same thing.

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AeroQuest 4…

Canto 112 – The Megadeath’s New Super Powers

“Let me understand what you stupid… stupid people are saying!  You left the defenses of Outpost and Don’t Go Here to go galivanting all the way to Coventry?  And in only three days?”  King Killer had never shouted so loudly nor had a face so red as it was in that meeting.

“Dude!  It woulda been two days if we hadn’a parked invisioble to watch the battle.”  Nikki Sixx appeared shocked that Admiral Killer was so mad.

“Wha… ?” burbled Cold Death stupidly.

“Chill oh soon-to-explode-from-rage dude,” said Vince Niell from his safe place behind mirrored sunglasses.  “We followed the orders of the Hooey-dude, man.  We know how he worked for you in escaping the Imperium, bro.  We just assumed that you gave him the orders he gave us, dude.”

“Vince, grab some whiskey.  I need you skunk-levels of drunk so I can understand every word you are saying.”

Besides the Admiral and the crew of the Megadeath, Admiral Tron and his wife Maggie the Knife were also present.  Maggie, taking a cue from Admiral Killer went to the bar in the back of the conference room and grabbed two bottles of Mundoploovian Suicide Ale to help make Vince more understandable.

“And where was Captain Lee in all of this, Gentlemen?” asked Tron sounding dangerous.

“Oh, he weren’t with us,” said Nikki Sixx.  “He and Pamela left the ship to go be rock and roll stars to the stars!  Hooey said they was gonna be megastars!”

“So, he officially abandoned his command and went AWOL?”

“Um, yep, thass about the size of it, boss,” said Nikki.  Cold Death nodded stupidly but vigorously to back him up on that.

Maggie put the Suicide Ale down in front of Vince.  Then she stuck her shiny knife in the table for emphasis.  This particular table had numerous decorations from years’ worth of Maggie’s pointed emphasis.

Vince drank quickly and narrowly avoided vomiting out his liver.  He became instantly drunk.

“So, tell me this, Vince, dude…  How the hell did you make a round trip to Coventry and back in only three days?” King Killer asked.

“Your friend the time knight brought his little time machine booth device on our ship, interfacing his chrono-circuits with the Megadeath’s Ancient computer brain.  It reduced a three week trip to two days via a built in time-accelerator that we knew nothing about until the good Doctor Hooey showed us it’s enhanced space-travel ability.”

“And do you think these other Ancient-built space ships are capable of doing the same thing?”

“I am unsure of the probability… but I believe I can find the device in the other ships if they are indeed present.”

“Okay, Vince,” said Tron, “what was this other nonsense about watching the battle invisioble?”

“Well, of course, the mispronounced word was intended to represent invisibility.  The Megadeath, it seems, has a most efficacious ability to go into stealth mode.  We delivered the good Doctor Hooey into the Bregohelma with his timeship.  And then, per his specific instructions, we became mere observers of the gnarly… err…” Vince had to take another swallow of Suicide Ale.  “… most great and glorious battle ever seen since Ancient times ended.”

“Okay, tell us what happened,” demanded Admiral Killer.

“Well, sirs, if it please you, the ship we rendezvoused with was the stolen Apatosaurus Battleship.”

“Did you attack on sight?”

“Of course not, sirs.  Our orders were to deliver the good Doctor Hooey to the battleship.  He was supposed to meet up with the Lizard Lady there and help her destroy the Bregohelma.”

Everybody gasped at the name of Admiral Tang’s flagship, including Cold Death who had forgotten he knew all of this particular battle story already.

“How were they going to do that with one battleship against Tang’s whole fleet?”

“They were trying to convince the Imperials that they were going to turn over the stolen Ancient tech, since Lizard Lady portrayed herself falsely as an Imperial spy.  And when the two ships docked, the Apatosaurus Battleship would blow up and take out the Bregohelma along with it.”

“Did the plan work?”  Maggie asked, obviously hoping that it would in spite of having been told the final outcome already.

“Naturally, it did not.  But this must’ve been a part of the plan all along, because we were asked to remain invisibly as observers to the battle that followed.”

“That’s when you saw Ham’s safari ship and the First Half-Century?” asked Tron.

“Of course, sir.  They flew in bravely to take on Tang’s entire fleet.”

“And what happened after that?”

“Well, it was obvious that the First Half-Century was also equipped with some kind of Ancient weapon system of immense power.  The thing went off and destroyed all of the Imperial ships but one, the Bregohelma.  But Tang’s ship, as well as the two attacking ships were all rendered powerless and completely damaged when something caused the Ancient weapon to target the planet and blast away about a billion people in the planet’s largest three cities.  It was a horrible tragedy.  And the three starships were dead in space for a while.”

“Why didn’t you step in at that point and finish off the Bregohelma?”

“We couldn’t.  Dr. Hooey told us not to interfere with the battle or we could alter time-lines and keep our side from winning the upcoming Battle of Outpost.

“Bummer!” said Maggie.

“Naw!  Itsa good thing, Mama,” said Cold Death, risking Maggie’s notorious wrath.  “Itsa meanin’ we is gonna win dat battle what ain’t happenna yet.”

“Can you give that man a Suicide Ale too please?” asked Tron.

“To make him talk better?”

“No.  To kill him if possible.”

“Continue, please, Vince.  What happened to Ham Aero and the other ship?”

“Admiral Tang’s ship moved first.  They completely loaded the little safari ship on board their ship and took off at a slow crawl.  The First Half Century hadn’t gotten more than life support working when we had to leave to bring this report to you.”

“I wish you would’ve at least rescued Ham and the Duke,” said Admiral Killer.

“Doctor Hooey specifically told us not to.”

“Oh.  Did Hooey survive the explosion, do you know?”

“No.  As far as we know, both he and Lizard Lady are now dead.”

“I really don’t know if that’s good news or bad news,” said Admiral Tron.  “It is good that such a large part of the Imperial Navy was destroyed.  But we may have lost the heart of the rebellion.  And what are we gonna tell Ged Aero?”

“The truth, I would surmise,” said Vince Niell, shortly before passing out dead drunk.  Cold Death finished his ale.  Sat down next to Niell.  And passed out too… where he began snoring loudly, thus proving that he was not, unfortunately, dead.

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According to Mickey…

I have been using the book-reviewing service called Pubby to get readers to actually read and review my books. I have barely gotten any readers to pick up and read one of my books since I first started publishing my work in 2007. And I get it. Beginning authors, no matter how good they are going to be later, are not so very good on the first, second, or even third try. My family is reluctant to read anything I have written because I pester them too much about it. My children are all creative in their own way, and consumed more by their own projects than by anything I have done. And when my wife reads anything I have written, she becomes laser-focused on what is unusual about how I use grammar and how things are spelled.

“You can’t spell that word like that!” she insists.

“But honey, it’s a made-up word that I made up myself.”

“That makes it worse, because the word it makes me think of is a bad word in the Philippines, even though it is spelled nothing like your word for butterflies thinking of ear wax.”

“Okay, I guess I have to change it then.”

Not my wife and me… but close.

But Amazon doesn’t like your relatives writing book reviews anyway. And their rules knocked out a couple of reviews I got from other writers with whom I had a deal for exchanging reviews. So, this review service was supposed to help with the problem. You read books from Pubby’s list and write a review to get points that you can put toward getting your own books reviewed. That seems both reasonable and equitable to me.

So, I started with some of the best books I have written and began getting them reviewed. So far, Snow Babies has gained four five-star reviews. Sing Sad Songs and Recipes for Gingerbread Children have each added three five-star reviews.

And it began to concern me.

It seems that some of the truly terrible writing that I was reviewing were getting overly-generous amounts of five-star reviews, along with their twos and threes. And the closer I looked at some of the comments in the reviews of my books, which were somehow read in only one or two days, were merely restatements of what other reviewers had already written. It was entirely possible that I was getting reviews like I was because writers were slapping an empty five-star on there to justify earning their points to get their own books reviewed. They weren’t actually reading the stories themselves.

I am not going to complain about mere suspicions over a five-star review. But I was looking for proof that people read and like my books. And I expect to see some lower grades on my work. That’s part of how you know things are real. Not everyone likes every good book. The best books ever written have their detractors.

That is an ordinary tractor in the background, not a detractor.

So, I went with my most recently published book, Laughing Blue. I chose the free-review-copy option and gave the reader every opportunity to dislike my book of boring old essays. And I got back a five-star review with some actual proof that the reader did read it and enjoyed it.

Now I feel better. But I would still like to see some three or four-star reviews, and I would definitely survive a one or a two. It would make me think the whole thing is a bit more honest than it has seemed at times.

And that’s how it’s supposed to be… according to Mickey.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 111

Canto 111 – Evil Coffee Makers Boil

The Leaping Shadowcat and The First Half-Century both came out of jump space together into the system of 1232 Ardonnis, the home system of the high-population world called Coventry.  Immediately, the situation became the silent-operatic equivalent of Beethoven’s Knock of Doom in the Ninth Symphony.  Daaat Daaat Daaat Dooooh!   Three hundred of the Imperium’s newest space ships, ships of the line, tenders, and support ships were all arrayed against the two ships of Ham and Ferrari’s tiny rebel fleet.

Ham leaned on the pilot’s control panel and let his jaw drop as he gazed out the Shadowcat’s viewport at them.

“I see the Bregohelma!” he cried.  “Admiral Tang is out there himself!”

“We are so dead!” moaned Duke Han Ferrari.  The Duke twisted the right end of his handlebar moustache nervously.  “I will surrender myself to them, and maybe they will spare you and the crew of the Shadowcat.”

“Give me some credit, Duke,” said Ham sullenly.  “I may not be the famous space hunter, Ged Aero, but I can be a hero too.  I will NOT desert my friends.”

“Hey, Ham-boy, old Jester!”  The call came from the command deck of the fighting space frigate, The First Half Century.  “Do you see what I see out there?”

“Yes, Goofy, I’m afraid I do.”

“Wow! Old Jester, I mean literally WOW!  We can win glory in battle like this against impossible odds!”

“Goofy, we are going to die!  Don’t get all hammy over it!  We have to make them pay for it the best we know how.”

“Oh, you got it, Ham-ster!  I am putting the Crown of all Stars on my head right now.  I can use the powers of the Ancients to defeat this bozo!” 

Ham slapped his right hand over his forehead in total frustration.  There was a good reason that Mammy Aero had once banned little Ham and little Ged from playing with the demented little goofy child.  That boy just wasn’t entirely right in the head.

“Belay that!  You don’t need to melt your brain to die in this battle.  You need to fight the way they taught you back at the Space Academy.  We need to go down with honor.”

The video communicator snapped on and showed a smiling one-eyed Goofy with the three-orbed alien thing pulsing yellow, orange, and lime-green lights all over the bridge of the military ship.  Goofy’s crew were resolutely manning battle stations in the background.  Ham could also see the unearthly Tesserah thing pulsing and glowing with menace behind the Goof.

“What’s that Tesserah thing doing?” I asked the view screen, feeling I had to insert myself into the dire problem to find some sort of sensible solution.

“That, old Scientist-Jester, is an Ancient weapon now fully primed and ready to be used against the enemies!”

I have to tell you, I was more than a little alarmed as a scientist and scholar.  This situation seemed sure to end only one way.  We would be atomized by space-born weapons systems or torn atom from atom by Ancient alien energies.  Even I didn’t see a way out.

“I order you to stop what you are doing right now!” said Duke Ferrari, trying to take command of the situation.

“No, your Duke-ness.  I can do this!  Watch!”

Goofy Dalgoda made a face like he was having a painful bowel movement, and then the space between the Tesserah and the Imperial Fleet was suddenly ablaze with alien energy, like a strange ochre lightning in the vacuum of space.

Fifteen Imperial ships disintegrated before our disbelieving eyes.

“Wow!” I said, being the first one able to speak. “Mr. Dalgoda?  Are you actually able to direct that power?”

“Yessir, old Mr. Science Dude!  I can drop that beam on the head of a pin.”

Ham was suddenly smiling again.  He was a very handsome man when he smiled.  “Let them have it, then, Goof!  Give ‘em all you’ve got!”

The Goofy One did not have to be told twice.  Blasts arced out into space on all sides of his ship.  For three hundred and sixty degrees all around, the small capital ship laid waste to larger and more powerful space behemoths.  The Wargod Class Dreadnaught called The Benjamin Franklin, ruptured like a dried gourd and spilled its disintegrating seed into surrounding space.  The Nimitz Class Fleet Carrier, the Colonel Green, launched a thousand fighters as it rolled over in space and dissolved.  One by one all of the fighters winked out of existence too.  It was like watching silent fireworks.  It was all I could do not to shout “Ooh!” and “Ahh!”  There was a terrifying beauty in so much fire and death.

“Goof?” asked Ham anxiously, “Can you target the Bregohelma?

“Oh, Ham-boy!  We have to make the old red bird see all of this destruction first!”

A huge blue bolt of energy surged out of the Tesserah and painted a wide swath over the most populous of the cities below on the planet.  Everyone was suddenly sick to their stomach as almost a billion innocent beings on the planet below were consumed by alien energy.

“Trav!  What have you done?” cried Ham.

“I did just what the crown said I should.  I used my mental connection with the Tesserah to start cleansing the planet below us.”

“Trav!” wept Ham.  “They were on our side!”

As Ham pleaded, I suddenly saw Commander Dana Cole on the view screen.  She had a laser weapon in her hand.  “Forgive me, Ham!” cried Dana Cole as she cut off one of Trav’s arms with the laser.  “He’s possessed by that alien thing!  I have to stop him.”

Trav Dalgoda was still laughing as he used his remaining arm to gesture and make a smaller blue splash of energy launch toward the planet.

“Forgive me, Trav.  I do love you,” said Dana as she sawed off his other arm.  Trav was still smiling as he tried to gesture with a foot.  She cut the leg off too.  Then the other leg.  Finally, with a destroyed look of regret on her face, she cut off Goofy’s head.  The crown grew dark and the Tesserah grew silent.

All of us aboard the Shadowcat were still stunned.  Trav had nearly saved us from catastrophe.  Then he made everything a billion times worse.

“We can still win,” growled Ham resolutely.  “I can crash the Shadowcat into the bridge of the Bregohelma and destroy Admiral Tang.”

Trav’s former command, the frigate, was battling the last remaining ship of the line, and apparently winning.  We actually could rule the day if we made the ultimate sacrifice Ham was suggesting.  All on the bridge of the little safari ship looked each other in the eye and nodded yes to it.  Ham fixed the navigational controls on the target, dead center on the bridge of the Admiral’s Flagship.  Full throttle we began to plunge toward her.

In my mind, the symphony had reached a crescendo, cymbals clashing, drums rumbling, and violins soaring.  I was prepared to die in that instant, as we all were.

Sinbadh, the Lupin space cook, stuck his head in the doorway to the bridge.

“Ham,” he said, “ye has made me poop meself!”

Ham laughed bitterly.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 110

Canto 110 – Ship to Ship 

It was the commander on the bridge of the Bregohelma who first spotted it as it came out of jump space.

“What the hell is that?” he complained in a nasally voice while looking out of a face that was not the face of a weasel, but that only obvious because DNA scans had proved he was human and he didn’t have a tail.  He looked around the bridge for someone to give him an answer to his question.  But almost everyone on bridge duty at that moment was an undead rot-warrior, a skeletal dead body reanimated with electronics and controlled by a computerized brain.  And all of them, at that moment were still trying to compute how to get the answer out of “Hell” since that was where the commander had requested it from.

“That looks like a… dinosaur,” said Wormheart Toadsucker, who was only slightly less dead-looking and probably less intelligent than the rot warriors.  “You know, like the ones on the planet Dionysus.”

“It can’t be one of those.  It’s in space.  It just appeared in far orbit around the planet.”

“You should have one of the smart ones scan it,” said Wormheart.  “I need to go alert Admiral Tang.

“Okay, which of these mud-brains is a smart one?”   The commander looked at every vacant-eyed face on the bridge and then started scanning himself.   Amazing things began popping up on the scanner-screen report.

The red-armored admiral appeared on the bridge moments later with the boot-licker Wormheart groveling along behind him.

“So, what does it appear to be?” asked the admiral in his ultra-creepy modulated voice.

“Well, it’s a kind of starship like I have never seen before.  The scanner computer can’t completely identify it.  It seems to be some sort of alien artifact from the time of the Ancients.”

“Ah, that might explain the weird dinosaur shape.  The Ancients were of so much higher a tech level than we are now that many of their relics seem totally inexplicable to us.”

“Yes, but this one has a primarily human crew.  They are not even mostly Galtorrian/human fusions like you might expect.  Just plain Earther types.”

“And it is coming towards us under power.”

“Yes, Admiral.”

“Are the shields up?”

“Um… they are now.”  The commander quickly corrected his oversight.

“Find out what they want.”

As soon as the admiral commanded it, a visual appeared on the commo-screen.  The Lizard Lady herself appeared in the middle of a bridge full of oddly-dressed human crewmen.

“Are you not an Imperial spy, Captain?”  Admiral Tang asked, lowering his voice to basement levels of creepiness.

“I am.  And I have stolen a flagship of the new fleet you will face if you try to invade the Outpost system of Tron Blastarr.”

“That is remarkable good work, um… what is your name?”

“I am an original Galtorrian, simply called Lizard Lady.”

“You will be remembered as a hero to the Imperium, Lizard Lady.”

“Ah, but the mission is not yet fully complete.  We need to pull up to your ship and dock.  This is Ancient technology, and we will need your brilliance to fully control it.”

“Very well… we should be able to…”

Suddenly another sleek spaceship of Ancient designed popped out of jump space directly beside the dinosaur-shaped ship.  After a few moments in which no one had time to do another scan, the new, sleek ship disappeared once again.

“We are moving in to dock with you now, Admiral,” said the Lizard Lady as she gave orders quietly to her pilots and then swiftly left the bridge before Tang could ask her anything.

The dinosaur ship lurched forward and was approaching at an impossible docking speed.

“Shields on maximum!  Back away from them fast,” ordered Tang, obviously sensing a trick.  “Fire everything at that ship now!”

Lasers, plasma cannons, nuclear missiles, and Gauss cannons all fired at the incoming ship.  It did not fire back.  Instead it ignited and blew up in what would have been a spectacular fireball if it had blown up in an oxygen or hydrogen-rich atmosphere.  The shock-wave nearly obliterated the Bregohelma as it was, but apparently it was too far distant for the resolution of the mission that the Lizard Lady had planned.

                                    *****

Dr. Hooey’s time ship, the Star Wars, materialized in the Bregohelma’s cargo bay.

The door of the phone-booth-like thing opened and the Lizard Lady stepped out to confirm her present location.

“Is it the proper cargo bay?” asked Dr. Hooey from inside the time ship.

“It is,” she answered.  “Now that we are in the proper place, we only need to move to the proper time.

“Very well.  The time according to which of the prophecies?”

“Yes, according to all of them.” She stepped back into the time ship.  It made its normal grinding sound, and promptly disappeared into the near future.

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Filed under aliens, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, satire, science fiction

A Simple Matter of Character (Part 1)

No man is really fit to judge his own character. You can’t see it objectively from the inside. But one of the benefits of being a fiction author is that you don’t have to judge yourself. You can get away with judging everybody else around you. And they don’t even need to realize that that is what you are doing.

I am going to dissect three examples from my own fiction.

The first, as you have probably already guessed, is Valerie Clarke, the heroine of Snow Babies, When the Captain Came Calling, and Sing Sad Songs.

Valerie is named after the prettiest girl I went to school with, the one in my class that was in school with me from kindergarten to twelfth grade. The one who used to politely laugh at my jokes and smile at me a lot when I needed someone to look at me and not scowl. She is a very lovely lady now with grandchildren and a good life in Iowa. And besides the name and the beauty, that’s about as far as the real Valerie goes in the make-up of this crucial main character.

The spirit and the personal history of this character come from a very composed and determined young lady that I taught as both a seventh and an eighth-grader. I have referred to her before in this blog as Sasha. But that’s not her real name. And I am not going to ever give you her real name because she’s entitled to the secrets I may have revealed about her in creating this character, as well as entitled not to be burdened with the things in my stories about her that she never did in real life.

In the course of the novels I write, I dramatized the loss of her father, writing a scene in which she comes home to find him after he has committed suicide over the loss of his part of the family farm that he co-inherited with his older brother. Kyle Clarke’s suicide is the single most devastating scene I have ever written up until now. It stopped the novel in the middle. I had to write two other whole novels before I could pick it up and continue. But Sasha’s missing father in real life did not commit suicide. The love that develops between Valerie and Tommy in Snow Babies and the love she finds with Francois in Sing Sad Songs are also facts that do not belong in real life to Sasha.

But the part of Valerie Clarke that really is Sasha is her indomitable will, the way she simply cannot be stopped when she makes up her mind to accomplish something. And that smile that melts your defenses and forces you to accept everything she is about change in your life for the better, whether it is painful or not. The bravery that Valerie shows when she loses someone or something that is important to her is also Sasha. Overcoming disappointment and how one manages to do it is a real key to someone’s character. It helps you decide whether that character is right to be the heroine or is a better fit to be the villain of a story. And Sasha could never have been a villain.

And finally, there’s the thing about the character of Valerie Clarke that has attached itself to my own daughter, the Princess, whose real name I also never use in this blog. She was roughly the same age as the character of Valerie as I was actually putting the story of Snow Babies down in sentences, paragraphs, and Cantos. Some of the more private details about Valerie come from her, things I could never have learned about the first Valerie or Sasha because I never lived in the same house with them. And these more private details are probably the reason that my own daughter has not read a story with Valerie Clarke in it.

So, now I have revealed the basic anatomy of the character creation of one of three promised characters that I am proudest to have created in my fiction.

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Filed under autobiography, characters, daughters, humor, novel writing, Paffooney, writing teacher