“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Will Scarlet proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”
The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will steps back onto the bright, cozy set with a broad smile and wave.
“Now, as regular viewers will know, that announcement is usually Allyn-a-Dale’s to make. But our little minstrel friend’s decided to take a mental health day, whatever that’s supposed to mean. So for this episode, I’m flying solo. Jumping right into it then,” he says, leading by example by hopping into his armchair. “Here courtesy of author J. Aurel Guay, let’s give it up for today’s guest, Miss Elizabeth Carter!”
The young woman enters from the other side of the stage and takes a seat in the chair across from Will’s.
“Welcome, Miss Carter! Won’t you give us a brief description of yourself?”
“Gladly Mr. Scarlet. I am, or rather was, a researcher of the mysterious crystals found in my late uncle’s gold mines after his passing. The mines themselves belonged to Automaton Incorporated, referred to as AI. My uncle, John Carter, was rather fond of me and my cousin E. R. Boroughs, and it was a bittersweet prize when Edgar, the officiator of Uncle Jack’s will, informed me that I had been granted the funds for an advanced education.
“Oh, did you say ‘brief’ description? Sorry, I do tend to prattle on, so I’m told. According to some I also have something of a temper. They say it comes with the red hair. Of course I would disagree. I am merely passionate about my work, that is all. Careful now, Nauty! Don’t get your tentacles caught in my hair again…”
“I say!” says Will, leaning forward to inspect the mechanical creature more closely. “What do you call that lively thingamajig?”
“Yes, how could I forget my little friend here? This devious little contraption is Nautilus. We call him Nauty, for reasons that, with any luck, you will not have to bear witness to. He is an oct-omaton and the first to be animated by a synthetically made crystal.”
“Ha! Fantastic. Don’t let my author swipe him off you; she’s got a thing for anything remotely resembling a kraken. So, this work you do – what else can you tell me about it, and these weird crystals of yours?”
“Oh, well unfortunately, I’ve recently found myself unemployed. I was researching the crystals discovered in my uncle John Carter’s gold mine. They had the power both to transmute energy, and perceive human thought. We used them to animate and control our automaton. James could tell you more about them, since as it turns out… well, it’s rather difficult to explain. Let’s just say that he is not quite from this world and that the crystals are very close to his heart.
“As to my role in the recent events… It was really mostly James’ doing. Though I suppose, if I had not enlisted him in studying how the crystal shards animate our automaton, he might never have found the truth about himself. And there was that time I rescued him from a mob of mercenaries…”
“Whoa, what now! How’d you pull that off? Were there tentacles involved?”
“It was nothing really. I had a rather large, nearly sentient automaton on my side and the element of surprise. And no, the tentacles did not come until much later. I did try my best to deal with that beast as well, but it was ultimately James who succeeded. What he thought was a sacrifice on humanity’s behalf, turned out to be the key to his own mystery. Still, he is far too humble about the whole affair. It was he who put a stop to the rotten plans of that dastard Mr. Powell, and even returned my dear Nauty to me.
“But, there I go again carrying on. Rather than listen to me, why don’t you go read about it yourself? My dear friend Dr. J. Aurel Guay has written it up and included it in an anthology by the name of ‘Mechanized Masterpeices 2’. The section regarding our story is titled ‘A Princess of Jasoom’ (the title still makes me blush each time I hear it, but he gave me no say). I think you can find it on that Amazon thingy, at this address.”
“My, your thoroughness leaves me with little more to say, though one more very important question to ask. Tell me, Miss Carter, what is your author J’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He flashes his classic smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
“Oh, my dear Mr. Scarlet, you should know better than to try to trick a lady, such as myself, into revealing anything she doesn’t want to. Nor do I think you would want to incur the jealousy of an alien spacecraft. Let’s just keep everything aboveboard here shall we?”
“A-alien…? Er, yes,” Will coughs, “maybe I’ll, um, leave that one alone. At least until Allyn’s back to save my tail. In the meantime, thank you, Miss Carter. You, too, little Nauty-boy! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”