I regret that I will not be able to take part in the Speakeasy challenge this week, much as I would like to. I’ve also been remiss in commenting and reading other people’s posts. I only barely managed to get an entry into the Gargleblaster challenge. Poor Hadley is stuck on a spaceship as a horde of terror bunnies flies towards her, with her only defense being Captain K’Pid and the BFG, and I’ve left her in dire straits. But, you see, I’m in law school; in fact I’m nearly done, and classes ended just last Monday. I’ve got papers due this week, and exams next, and then a short breathing space before….*ominous pause*….THE BAR EXAM. So. My time has, alas, been limited.
On the bright side, I did finally get around to watching “Frozen” this past weekend. Very clever movie. It had a great many subversions of classic Disney cliches. I won’t reveal them all, as some of them are spoilery but I did want to discuss one interesting twist. It relates to That Song.
You know the one.
“Let it gooooo, let it gooooo….that perfect girl is gooooone….”
Now, I admit, I first heard it when “Adele Dazeem” sung it at the Oscars. I assumed, given its popularity, that it was the standard Disney “I Want” song. As in “I want much more than this provincial life,” or, “I want to be where the people are….” And the lyrics sounded like the usual Disney themes of following your heart, being true to yourself, etc., etc., things Mulan and Belle and Ariel have been singing about for years.
The thing is, in context though, it’s actually the opposite of the Follow Your Heart theme. Because while Elsa is singing and happily making ice castles and frozen fractals and talking snowmen and such, her actions have a very real consequence for the people of Arendelle. When Elsa “lets it go”, her kingdom gets plunged into endless winter, just like in Narnia. Now, granted, keeping her powers and herself completely locked away wasn’t good either, but even so….you don’t get too many Disney songs that point out that Following Your Heart isn’t always the best solution in every circumstance. You’d find that life lesson more often in things like the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones. Very clever. I just thought I’d mention that.
“Tell me something, old friend: why are you fighting?”
Gaseous Girl sighed. “You’re trying to detonate the Kaboominator?”
“Also, we’re not friends. We’re nemeses, remember? Sworn to each other’s destruction, all that?”
“Just trying to be philosophical.”
This week’s response to the Gargleblaster challenge was to answer a question first posed by the late Gabriel García Márquez in his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. I don’t know if he ever wrote superhero novels. But obviously he should have. :)
Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold. But then First Officer Stamper gave the panel under the engineering station on the bridge a good swift kick, and immediately the tractor beam broke off. The asteroid dropped neatly away into space. “She’s away, ma’am,” Mr. Stamper reported.
“Good show,” Captain K’pid said, rubbing at her third eye tiredly. “Right, signal the planet, tell them they don’t have to worry about being splatted anymore, then get us out of here.”
“Aye aye,” said Mr. Stamper. Within moments the starship’s thrusters were powering up, and it was gliding away out of the system. K’pid could just distantly hear its padamantium-powered core humming in the background. She very much liked Winter over the past vessels she had captained. Why, this ship even had bathrooms! Her prior ships had a curious lack of facilities, resulting in hasty modifications and a few terribly awkward moments. Winter had them on every deck. She even had her own private one.
“Where to now, captain?” Mr. Stamper asked.
K’pid was tempted to just tell him “over there, somewhere”, but she was too professional for that. Space was really big, after all, and you couldn’t just go charging off into the black without knowing where you were. “Xena Four,” she said after a moment’s thought. “We can ask Milty in the spaceport, see if he has some deliveries for us.”
Mr. Stamper saluted, and gave the necessary orders. Winter jumped away into hyperspace. When it jumped out again, K’pid expected to see Xena Four sprawling across her viewscreen. She was naturally confused when all she saw was a field of black. “Where’s the planet, Mr. Stamper?”
“Sensors aren’t registering anything,” Mr. Stamper reported. “We’re at the right coordinates. The planet’s not, though.”
K’pid reflected on something a friend had once told her. “Mr. Stamper, you can’t just lose a whole planet-”
At that moment the ship’s alarms went off louder than a nursery of squalling babies. A white symbol, flecked with pink, appeared on the viewscreen. K’pid froze. “Bunnies.”
Even Mr. Stamper appeared shaken. He raced to the ship’s tactical station to confirm. (Ordinarily the tactical officer, a very capable lieutenant from Verin Prime, would’ve done this, but he was in the restroom at the moment). “It’s confirmed,” Mr. Stamper called over the wailing alarms. “Bunnies detected. A whole swarm of them. Next planet over. And….I’m picking up a life sign! Chromai. Magenta, or mauve, maybe.”
That settled it. K’pid’s first instinct had been to run. She knew better than anyone about bunnies. But her second instinct kicked in when she heard about the life sign. She had Chromai friends, lots of them. She couldn’t just abandon one to the bunnies.
“Full speed ahead, Mr. Stamper!” she cried. “Arm all weapons!”
“Ah, out of curiosity, what weapons do we have?”
Mr. Stamper checked. “The usual. Proton cannon beams, torpedos….oh, this is new. Just installed from Fleet. Apparently it’s called a Buffered Fission Generator. Not sure why.”
“And what does the, er, BFG do?”
“Not sure. There’s no instructions. Just a very large red button.”
K’pid sighed. She had hoped, when she’d learned about Winter’s restrooms, that the ship’s designers had decided to forgo the usual clichés. Apparently they just couldn’t resist. She knew she shouldn’t order Mr. Stamper to push the big red button. Everyone knew big red buttons should never ever be pressed under any circumstances. But….the bunnies.
The ship came out of hyperspace right above Xena Four. The bunnies rampaged below them. “Mr. Stamper,” K’pid said, trying valiantly to keep her voice calm in the face of such horror, “fire the Buffered Fission Generator.”
“Shouldn’t we teleport the Chromai out first?”
“Good point. Do that.”
Agonizing seconds ticked by as the teleporters strained to lock on to the life sign. It was tough going, trying to teleport a shade of color. Then a message flashed across Mr. Stamper’s tactical screen. “Got it. Cargo Three.”
K’pid breathed a sigh of relief. She wondered now whether the BFG was necessary. After all, surely the bunnies couldn’t fly. Everyone knew they couldn’t fly. She was safe now. She had to be.
Then her viewscreen lit up anew. K’pid’s third eye blinked. The bunnies were rising. Slowly, inexorably, chanting something horrible in their bunny language, the snarling horde floated up from the grassy fields of the planet. They were aiming straight for Winter.
“Mr. Stamper, fire the BFG,” K’pid said. “Fire everything. Fire everything!”
This story was written for the Speakeasy prompt 157; it’s also part of Hadley’s Story. Thanks for reading!
Milroy sighed. “No, Mum, I don’t see her. At all. She went invisible, remember?”
“Mum, it’s science. These things happen.”
“Yes, Mum, I’m keeping my lab coats clean.”
“And socks, too. I wouldn’t dream of resurrecting a manatee without clean socks.”
This is my response to the weekly gargleblaster prompt, which was to write 42 words answering the question, “Do you see her much?”
Hadley Baxendale was so upset she was changing from mauve to a brilliant flare of magenta, and then back again to mauve. “I can’t be in a different universe!” she cried. “What if it’s an alternate and there’s another me running round somewhere? And what if she’s blue? And human!I can’t be a blue human! I just want to be me! Mauve me! Not blue me!”
The voice came again, echoing throughout her chamber. “We apologize for the inconvenience. We have reconfigured our power couplings and will be teleporting you back as soon as possible. Thank you for understanding.”
“Oh, shut up,” Hadley growled. Ordinarily she tried to be polite to people in the service industry, but she drew the line when people teleported her to alternate universes without her consent. She waited, trying to be calm, for the chamber to disappear and her home world to materialize around her. It didn’t.
“We’re sorry,” came the cool voice again, “but there seems to be a problem.”
“What kind of problem?” Hadley demanded.
“Your planet seems to be missing.”
“Missing? Missing? I don’t believe this. Listen. You can lose a screwdriver. You can lose your socks. You can lose a self-sealing stem bolt, even, but you cannot lose a planet!”
“We apologize for the inconvenience. We will transport you to the closest planet available. Thank you for your patience. Have a nice day.”
There was a short pause. “Before teleportation begins, would you like to take a short survey on our performance-”
Hadley declined to take the survey. She expressed this in remarkably vivid language, informing the speaker precisely what they could do with the survey, where they could do it, and with what persons they could do it with. She was just winding up to a crescendo of expletives when the chamber disappeared around her.
When things took shape again, Hadley found herself standing in a placid country field. A yellow sun shone blithely over her head. Birds twittered merrily in the air. A dull red barn squatted nearby, behind a rickety wooden fence that encircled a pasture dotted with meandering cows. Two young hares, rump to rump like dueling pistols, crouched by the gate.
“Oh, good,” Hadley said. “Bunnies.” Then she froze. “BUNNIES?”
She didn’t have a weapon. Not a phaser, not a proton cannon, not so much as a bow and arrow. Hadley had once been keen on archery, but she’d only played around with it, never took it seriously. She regretted that now. The bunnies started after her, their beady little eyes glowing angrily red. Hadley ran.
One might have thought that a sentient shade of color could move at the speed of light; unfortunately, Hadley had never been able to manage that. A physicist she had dated once had tried to explain, something about her molecule polarity, but then she had broken up with him before he could clarify his explanation. Now she blitzed across the field as the bunnies tore ferociously after her. She had a fair head start; if she could just outrun them for a little while longer, if she could just find help-
She bolted up a small rise, and a patch of forest came into view, square across her path. Out from the trees emerged a third bunny. Then a fourth. Suddenly there were bunnies everywhere, a whole slavering army of them. She was surrounded. Panic flooded through her. She couldn’t go out like this. Not by bunnies.
This story was written for the Speakeasy prompt at Yeah Write. It follows on from prior adventures in Hadley’s story arc, which you can find here at Hadley’s Story. And yes, in addition to the line “Two young hares, rump to rump like dueling pistols, crouched by the gate.” and the media prompt (the song Glory Box, by Portishead, which I had not heard bef0re), I may have also been inspired by a certain song from the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Bunnies are terrifying, people.
“So it was you, Lord Covington,” Baxendale cried, “who murdered Daphne Fairservice!”
“Impossible!” he said. “I was vacationing in the Spanish mountains, during that terrible rainstorm!”
She smiled. “You couldn’t have. You see, the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”
This is my response to the weekly Gargleblaster challenge, which was to answer, in exactly 42 words, the question: “Who dunnit?” This is what my muse gave me. Peculiar creature, my muse.
Without a word, she dropped to the ground. She could’ve said words, and plenty of them. Penny Sybil had been prepared to deliver her opening argument in a landmark system-wide trial about the environmental impact of artificial wormholes. She had spent weeks on that trial. Now the invading Earth fleet in the sky outside the courtroom was issuing some ultimatum she couldn’t quite hear, and it looked like all her preparation had been for naught. She scrambled for shelter under a nearby table, certain that it would prove no shelter at all. Then she glanced back, and gasped.
Her binder lay askew on the floor where she had dropped it. That binder had everything. It had her notes, her deposition transcripts, the telepathic holo-recordings from the Society to Protect Wormhole Aliens! She took one step out from under the table. Her timing was singularly unfortunate. The Seventeenth Earth Fleet chose that moment to open a barrage of turbo-cannon plasma beams.
Penny vaporized. Her neutrons and protons went merrily out into the universe on their own microscopic voyages of discovery. The binder went too, disappearing in a blur of flame and taking lots of evidence with it. The attorneys for the other side would’ve been thrilled to see that, except they were vaporizing too. The Seventeenth Fleet was quite thorough.
In her last seconds of consciousness, Penny didn’t experience the usual thing with her life flashing before her eyes. Her brain fixed on one single memory. She was lightyears away on Verin Prime, resting blissfully in the shade of countless trees. Green light fell all about her. One particular tree, a short distance away, had a wooden cat attached to its side. Penny remembered wondering who had put the cat there, and why they had taken the trouble. She would never find out now. Shame, really. She had hoped-
This story follows on in the same ‘verse as Shades, and Oh, Crime. It’s written for the speakeasy challenge at Yeah Write, which was to write 750 words or less (mine ended up being somewhat less) using “Without a word, she dropped to the ground,” as the first sentence, and include a reference to the photo prompt on their site.Thanks for reading!