The Second Star to the Right (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 22)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every second Friday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘The Second Star to the Right’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a backdrop of twilight over a jewel-bright lagoon, the vaguely macabre shadow of a rock formation depicted in the distance. Prop trees and ferns suggestive of a jungle frame the stage on both ends, with our players entering stage right – Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter, and Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED following, body-switched, right behind.]

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: This place is lovely! But where exactly is it?

Will/Hatter: No idea, and no clue. But if the Shortcut to Everywhere brought us here, then Jack’s spirit must be, too.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle [peering around, then pointing ]: The only thing obviously suggestive of death is that rocky place, out there. Or am I the only one who thinks it looks basically like a skull?

Nope, not just you. It does.
Nope, not just you. It does.

Voice from Stage Right: Of course it does.

[From the jungle greenery steps a “Stone Kingdom”-era Princess Rosalba of Denebdeor. She wears a fringed dress of sand-colored suede and colorful beadwork, her long hair hanging in a pair of braids before either shoulder and decorated with swan feathers. She bears a scepter-like spear.]

Rosalba [cont. ]: Why else would it bear the name “Skull Rock”?

Will/Hatter: Jack! Is it you?

[Will bounds across the stage, arms flung open for a hug, but an imperious thrust of Rosalba’s empty hand halts him.]

Rosalba: Another move toward me, strange hatted man, and my spear will know your innermost parts. I am Tiger Lily, Princess of Neverland. No one must ever touch me, on pain of death.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur [with a gallant bow ]: Your Highness.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: Neverland! Sure, I’ll buy that. It’s got fairies and Lost Boys, so why not a lost fairytale soul?

Will/Hatter: Not to mention the whole Peter Pan connection.

Rosalba/Tiger Lily [hand placed reverently to heart ]: Ah, brave Peter. Valiant Pan. He is the sun and the moon and the stars. But he has not been seen here for many a moon.

Will/Hatter: That’s all right. It’s not him we’ve come to see. We’re looking for his son, Jack Snow. Or rather, what’s left of him after the Antichristmas Wolf made off in his body. Could you tell us where to find him? We – and the North Pole – would be much in your debt.

Rosalba/Tiger Lily: The sun never says to the moon, “You owe me.” It is nothing for me to show you what you seek. He is there. [points with the spear to a diamond-bright light high on the sky backdrop ] The second evening star to the right.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: A noble place for so noble a spirit, to be sure. But we cannot afford to let him so remain. Have we your permission to bear him away to his destiny, Your Highness?

Rosalba/Tiger Lily: I rule the land, not the sky. Do what you must, if you can.

Will/Hatter [with a smile-like grimace ]: I can. But it’ll hurt. Apologies, Princess.

[With that, he taps Rosalba on the shoulder. Without hesitation, she rams her spear in and out of his middle. Annabelle and Sir Wilbur cringe, expressions nauseated, while Rosalba stalks away into the jungle with a highly offended air.]

Will/Hatter [voice a raspy grunt and pained giggle ]: Here we go again. [slumps to the ground, smoke billowing from his mouth ]

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: And here’s hoping this works. [turns to the sky, calling out ]

Star light, star bright, second star upon the right:

I wish you may, I wish you might take on the form left open wide.

[The star glows brighter by the moment, sending the smoke of the Shadow hastening away, lest it be by light destroyed. Annabelle and Sir Wilbur turn away from the glare, and just for a blink, the stage is too flooded with light to be seen. When it dims back to normal, the second star is gone, Will stirs on the ground, and Annabelle and Sir Wilbur startle back from one another.]

Annabelle: Hey! You’re you!

Sir Wilbur: As are you!

Will/Hatter [in as Jack Snow-like a voice as you can get without the speaker being actually Allyn-a-Dale ]: Consider that one a freebie for wishing me back to the land of the living. Tannenbaum, but my guts are sore.

Sir Wilbur [helping Will to his feet ]: Hatter’s body had to take a bit of punishment to make room for you.

Annabelle: And of course now his Shadow’s flown off who-knows-where.

Will/Jack: Worrying as that is, the matter will have to keep ‘til later. First things first: There’s Christmas to save.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Miranda McNeff,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘lovely’ and ‘the sun never says to the moon, “You owe me”’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

“Never Never” Say Never!

As stated at the beginning of the year, my general intention for this blog’s schedule is to post only twice a week. But of course, my general motto for my 26th year of life is “I do what I want”, meaning I’m wide open to spontaneity. So when I came across a call for bloggers interested in joining a cover reveal for an upcoming Peter Pan retelling, I figured why not offer to join in? I’m as fascinated by Pan as the next child averse to growing up!

All that to say, you’ve got an extra blog post coming to you today, Ever On Wordians! And here’s the main event:

NeverNeverFinal

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one.

Title: Never Never
Author: Brianna Shrum
Release Date: September 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Feeling Hooked*? Add “Never Never” on Goodreads!

*(Hey, I made it all the way through my “Toll of Another Bell” review post without a single bell pun. I think I’ve earned the use of one lame joke.)

Brianna Shrum

And now, a bit about the author that I’ve “never never” met, but wish all the best with her coming novel. ^_^

Author Bio:

Brianna Shrum lives in Colorado with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband, two boys, and two big, floppy hound dogs. She thinks chai tea is proof of magic in the world, and loves all things kissy, magical, and strange. She’d totally love to connect with you. You can find her saying ridiculous things on Twitter @briannashrum

What say you, readers? Think this looks like a book you’d enjoy? ^^

An Unexpected Detour (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 2)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘An Unexpected Detour’!”

<<<>>>

Hobbit Hole

[The curtain rises on an idyllic backdrop of rolling green hills. Before one of these painted hills stands a round wooden door, and on a padded garden bench before that sits Allyn-a-Dale, portrayer of Jack Snow, checking and rechecking the pocket watch chained to his waistcoat with an impatient sigh. From across the stage, Will Scarlet wanders over, robed and bearded in gray with a tall, broad-brimmed hat and a taller walking staff.]

Allyn/Jack [pocketing his watch with an expression of relief ]: Ah, good morning. I’d wondered whether you intended to leave me at this little under-hill bed and breakfast forever.

Will/Gray Wanderer [leaning jauntily on staff ]: “Good morning”, is it? And what do you mean by that? Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?

Allyn/Jack: I meant that it is both morning and good to see you, though I begin to question that, now, Hatter.

Will/G.W.: Hatter? Who’s that?

Allyn/Jack [irritated ]: It’s you. Artifice Cheshirecott, the Mad Hatter of Wonderland. For pity’s sake, you just introduced yourself one act ago. Have you forgotten yourself already?

Will/G.W. [cheerfully ]: Shows what you know about hatters and madness. With my wizard hat on, I’m no Arti-what’s-his-face. I am Gandalf! And Gandalf means… me! And I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure!

Allyn/Jack: I’d hoped I made it clear I don’t want an adventure. I just want to return to the North Pole.

Will/Gandalf [glowering over his beard ]: What kind of talk is that, Jack Snow? Can it be the one who’s forgotten himself is you?

Allyn/Jack [standing, straightening waistcoat with dignity ]: I perfectly well know who I am: The Fairytale Forest’s chosen Santa Claus.

Will/Gandalf [jabbing his staff toward Allyn ]: Wrong! Well, also right, but wrong! You are the son of Peter Pan, the greatest adventurer Neverland ever saw! Why, so clever was he in seeking out new excitement, he once picked a fight with a fearsome pirate captain on his ship anchored in Diamond Cove. The struggle looked likely to go either way, until – with a crow of triumph – Peter slashed off the pirate’s hand and knocked it right out of the bay with his sword, then flew circles ‘round the diamond while a crocodile caught the fly body part in his jaws. Thus the battle was won! And the game of baseball invented at the same time.

Allyn/Jack [shaking his head ]: I could believe it.

Will/Gandalf: There you are, then. Blood will out, Jack Snow. Blood will always out. So come along. Pack your pocket handkerchiefs, and we’ll be off by way of the Lonely Mountain! Hahahaha, will you ever have a tale or two to tell when you get back!

Allyn/Jack: Can you promise that I will get back?

Will/Gandalf: Sure! Maybe. Probably not. But if you do, I can promise you this much: You will not be the same.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Steven Bourelle  and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘baseball’ and ‘“Hobbit” spoof’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends:  Will and Allyn out!”

Peter and the Puffwolf (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 15)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Peter and the Puffwolf’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow (bearing a shining sword), Will Scarlet as Peter “The Woodsman” Pan, Marion Hood as Wendy Darling-Pan, and Robin Hood as Simian the winged monkey, all running like mad on a treadmill embedded on the floor, stage right. The dim lighting flickers on the stony backdrop behind them, aiding in the illusion of the players’ mad dash through a subterranean space.]

Will/Woodsman [to the audience ]: Previously in our serial fairytale skit, we discovered a singing sword in an underground treasure vault.

[The sword in Allyn’s hand waves along to the voiceover of Gant-o’-the-Lute.]

Lute/Songsteel: That’s me! Songsteel, the one and only one with the power to defeat the Antichristmas Beast!

Marion/Wendy: …Or so it’s been said. We’d only just found the sword when the vault’s doors where blown down by the monster the Beast sent against us: The dreaded Puffwolf.

[A gusty howl resounds.]

Robin/Simian: So this is us, running for our lives.

Allyn/Jack: I’ve lived long enough among dwarves to know their construction tricks. Every vault, mine, and bunker they build is secretly connected to all the others. There’s a way out, if only we can stay ahead of the Puffwolf. [pauses for another howl, louder and closer than before ] …Which is sounding less likely by the moment.

Will/Woodsman [pointing ahead, where a construction scaffold has just rolled in from offstage ]: Quick, up there!

[Surging off of the treadmill, the players scramble up the scaffolding and from there to a long metal beam hanging from the ceiling – and just in time, for a noisy blast, ostensibly from the Puffwolf’s powerful lungs, blows the scaffolding down as if it were no sturdier than a house of cards. A mere moment later, adorned in a luxurious fur suit and with much baring of prosthetic fangs and claws, the Puffwolf himself stalks onto the stage, the role graciously filled by Edgwyn Wyle.]

For all that our tale’s Puffwolf is a big, bad beastie, I’m afraid I’ll always envision him like this. Blame Chelsea de la Cruz.
For all that our tale’s Puffwolf is a big, bad beastie, I’m afraid I’ll always envision him like this. Blame Chelsea de la Cruz.

Edgwyn/Puffwolf [in a deep, chilling voice you’d never expect from “The Stone Kingdom”s sweet tailor ]: Little prey, little prey, won’t you come down?

Lute/Songsteel [to a tune recognizable from “Defying Gravity” ]: No one in this land of ours, no Puffwolf that there is or was, is ever going to bring us do-o-own!

Edgwyn/Puffwolf: Then I’ll— well. [huffs ] I’ll just pace around in circles until you get too tired to keep your balance and topple down, at which point [licks lips ] I will swallow you whole. [proceeds pacing ]

Will/Woodsman: Mm, no thanks, to that. Bring it in, gang. [beckons at the others, who lean in toward his stage whisper ] Here’s the plan. I’ve got a coil of rope, see? I’ll make a noose, lower it down, catch the Puffwolf by the tail, and incapacitate him by hauling him upside down.

Marion/Wendy: Excellent. All we need is a way to keep the Puffwolf distracted while you go for his tail. Simian, go fly around the Puffwolf’s head. Get close enough that he’ll snap at you, but not so close that you’ll actually be caught.

Robin/Simian: Are you joking?! No way am I going anywhere near that creature!

Allyn/Jack: Oh, come on, don’t be worthless – you’re the only one with wings!

Will/Woodsman: But not the only one who can get the job done. Leave the distraction to me!

[Will hands his coil of rope to Marion, stands on the beam and, without further ado, throws himself into the air.]

Allyn/Jack [aghast ]: WOODSMAN, NO— [breaks off, staring wide-eyed, as a discreet harness allows Will to swoop around high over the stage ] You can fly??

Marion/Wendy [nodding confirmation ]: He can fly.

Will/Woodsman [whooping for joy ]: I can flyyy! Just like riding a bike; once Neverland’s fairies show you the knack, you never forget. Hey, Puffwolf! Betcha can’t catch me!

[As Will and Edgwyn put on a show of diving and lunging while the orchestra’s flutes and French horns go crazy with Prokofiev themes, the players on the beam slowly, slo-o-owly lower the rope’s noose toward the Puffwolf’s tail. Once the target’s caught, and with a cry of “Haul away!”, they all three jump off the back of the beam, using the captured Edgwyn rising upward as a counterweight to slow their descent. The Puffwolf howls in protest, but in vain.]

Will/Woodsman [landing by the others on the ground ]: Well-played, everyone! Now, what to do with the Puffwolf?

Marion/Wendy: Sell him to the zoo?

Will/Woodsman: No good. The forest’s Guild of Talking Animals declared zoos inhumane a decade ago. Killing’s still allowed, though. Songsteel, why don’t you show us what you can do?

Lute/Songsteel: I have been. I don’t stab, slash, and bloody things up; I sing!

Will/Woodsman [dismayed ]: Is that all?! How is that useful against a monster like the Puffwolf, to say nothing of a beast like the Antichristmas?

Lute/Songsteel: Listen and learn. I say, Puffwolf?

Edgwyn/Puffwolf [growling ]: Yes?

Lute/Songsteel: Congratulations! You’re the winner of the fictional version of the “Song Caster” Launch Week Giveaway!

Edgwyn/Puffwolf: Really? I’d known there was a raffle happening on the author’s blog, but this is the first I’ve heard of a fictional version. What have I won?

Lute/Songsteel: Why, a private concert with none other than Gant-o’-the-Lute and his magic flute! One night only, then he’s out of town and off on adventure again.

Edgwyn/Puffwolf [gasps ]: Gant-o’-the-Lute?! What luck! That minstrel is amazing!

Lute/Songsteel [audibly smug ]: Isn’t he just? But there’s one caveat, Puffwolf: Creatures who do the dark bidding of the Beast are ineligible to collect the prize. So if you swallow his enemies whole, no minstrelsong for you.

Edgwyn/Puffwolf: No, please! I won’t, I promise! Just let me hear Gant-o’-the-Lute’s flute concert! His music’s divine!

Lute/Songsteel: Very well, then. Let the Puffwolf free, people; he has a concert to attend.

[Once released, Edgwyn scampers eagerly offstage without another bit of fuss, while the remaining players stand in open-mouthed shock.]

Lute/Songsteel: And that is but one example of the power of music. Still think I’m unqualified to vanquish your enemy?

Allyn/Jack: Quite the contrary, Songsteel. [begins to smile ] I think I may have an idea how best to wield you.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Chelsea de la Cruz and Miranda McNeff,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the ‘Song Caster’-centric inspiration ‘the Puffwolf wins a private concert with Gant-o’-the-Lute in a raffle’ and ‘a certain troublesome flute’. Have an extra raffle point each as a reward!”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! And as a bonus, everyone who leaves a comment with a prompt will earn a point in that giveaway we’ve mentioned, same as Chelsea and Miranda.”

“Speaking of the giveaway,” says Allyn, “hearty congratulations to the winners of Days 3 and 4,

Nicholas Boardman and Chelsea de la Cruz!

You’ve each won a pair of postcards featuring Gant-o’-the-Lute art – the one by Tirzah Duncan, the other by Tirzah and Danielle.”

“Congrats, guys!” Will cheers. “I think that’s all of our scheduled announcements. So, ‘til next time, friends:  Will and Allyn out!”

If You’re Desperate and You Know It (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 12)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘If You’re Desperate and You Know It’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on the set of a nighttime field under a cloudy sky. Wendy Darling-Pan, the enchanted purple rose as voiced by Marion Hood, is planted in a plot of earth, center stage, while beside her, posed in a tableau of surprise, are Allyn-a-Dale as her son, Jack Snow, and Will Scarlet as her semi-estranged husband, Peter “The Woodsman” Pan. All easy British charm, Robin Hood stands opposite. All players who are not a flower turn to address the audience.]

Will/Woodsman: Okay, so hold the phone. Previously in this serial fairytale skit, Jack Snow and I were just about to free my beloved Wendy from her rose enchantment, when who should stroll into the clearing but Benedict freaking Cumberbatch!

Robin/Cumberbatch: Little do they suspect [with a wink ], I’m actually a winged monkey in league with their archenemy, ingeniously disguised with magical trousers it amuses me to think of as “Cumberbritches”.

Allyn/Jack: Meanwhile, the fourth wall appears to have been demolished beyond all repair.

Will/Woodsman: Dar-har. But seriously – back to full story immersion. [turns to Robin ] Benedict, what in the world are you doing here??

Robin/Cumberbatch [moving nonchalantly nearer the group ]: Oh, you know, just passing through, on my way to important, international household name actor things. [smile of endearing self-deprecation ] I do hope I’m not interrupting anything.

Marion/Wendy: Nothing major. Our boy Jack, here, was about to sing up some fireflies to make constellations for us.

Robin/Cumberbatch [with apparent polite interest ]: Is that right? Well, please, no need to stop on my account. Go right on and— [points behind Will and Allyn ] I say, what’s that?

[Will and Allyn’s head and the rose’s blossom turn, seeing nothing, for there’s nothing to see. While they’re still peering into the dimmer corners of the stage and being all, “What? What?” Robin cups his hand behind his mouth and bares his teeth a bit. Lips unmoving, he calls out so that his winged monkey screech seems to come from offstage.]

Marion/Wendy: The Beast’s flying monkey minions!

Will/Woodsman: Blast it all, we can’t let them spoil our spell-breaking ritual! [draws sword ] Stay here, Jack. Get those fireflies and deflower your mother.

Allyn/Jack [pulling a face at the choice of words, but letting it pass in favor of more important matters ]: You’re going to face the monkeys? One man against who knows how many of them?

Will/Woodsman [grimly ]: I only need to hold them long enough for you and Wendy to get away – free, clear, and both human. I don’t know, maybe Cumberbatch can lend a hand. Benny, what do you say to—

[Marion’s earsplitting scream cuts Will off as Robin yanks the enchanted rose out of the ground. The lights go crazy, flashing bright and black, interspersed with epic stroke-inducing strobes. When the lighting settles back down to normal, the rose is gone, and Marion lies gasping on the stage in a pool of blood. With a cry of “MOTHER!” fit to rend your heart, Allyn throws himself to his knees at her side, while Will, sword forgotten, seizes Robin by his shirt front and shakes him.]

Will/Woodsman: What have you done, you psychopath?!

Robin/Cumberbatch: I—

Will/Woodsman: Say a word about actually being a high-functioning sociopath, and I swear I’ll hack you to pieces. Why, Benny?! [voice breaks in an agony of grief ] Why?!

Robin/Cumberbatch: I wasn’t trying to kill her, I swear! I was just going to run off with her, back to the Beast. I didn’t know— [gulps ] Look, murder’s not in my job description, okay? I’m just a deliveryman. …Well, deliverymonkey, without my pants.

Allyn/Jack: Woodsman, help! She’s losing too much blood. She’s gone white as a beluga. What can we do?

Will/Woodsman: I don’t bloody well know! Unless… Clap.

Allyn/Jack: What?

Will/Woodsman: Clap, I say! Hard and fast and enthusiastic as you can. Clap with everything you’ve got! You, too, Benedict Arnold. [releases Robin, but draws a knife ] Clap or die. And you! [turns to the audience again, eyes begging ] Please, I don’t care who looks at you funny for applauding your laptop. Clap, clap, clap!

[Exchanging looks of confusion, Allyn and Robin applaud like this is the serial skit’s grand finale. Will, unable to hold a weapon and clap at the same time, turns his gaze toward the cloudy heavens.]

Will/Woodsman: I do believe in Wendy! I do, I do! I do believe in Wendy! I do! I do!

[With a burst of thunder, the artificial clouds pour rain, drenching the spot where Allyn huddles over Marion, and washing the blood away into the plot of earth. As the downpour lightens, Marion’s eyes flutter open, and she half-sits up.]

Marion/Wendy: I’m all right. [hugs Allyn tight, looks over his shoulder at Will ] By the quick-thought-up miracles that follow you wherever you go, Peter Pan, I’m all right.

Will/Woodsman [visibly dizzy with relief ]: Thank all goodness. But now… [recovers himself and holds his knife to Robin’s throat ] What’s to be done with this one?

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Steven Bourelle and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘ventriloquism’ and ‘beluga’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes!”

“Now, before we go,” says Allyn, “hearty congratulations to Miranda McNeff, winner of the signed Emmelea bookmark in this week’s ‘Song Caster’ mini-giveaway!”

“Way to go, Miranda!” Will cheers. “And keep your eyes open, everyone, for further opportunities to win stuff as we near June 24th, launch day for ‘The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)’. ‘Til next time, friends:  Will and Allyn out!”

The Woodsman’s Secret, Part 2 (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 7)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘The Woodsman’s Secret, Part 2’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on Will Scarlet as The Woodsman and Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, Child of Destiny, standing exactly where we left them on the Beast’s bedroom set at the end of Act 6 – Will’s ridiculous hula skirt, go-go boots and all. Allyn’s face is a mask of shock in the wake of The Woodsman’s revelation.]

Allyn/Jack: Peter Pan, Peter Piper, and Peter Pumpkin-eater?? I never even knew you were one – how could you be all three??

Will/Woodsman [stepping out of the boots and skirt ]: Oh, I’m all that and more, Jack. It’s a pretty long story.

Allyn/Jack: Feel free to abridge.

Will/Woodsman [with a sigh of resignation ]: All right. It all began in London.

[The general stage lights dim a few watts, the better to feature the light that goes up against the back wall, casting silhouettes of the iconic Big Ben clock tower and a baby carriage.]

Will/Woodsman: I was young, and I wanted to stay that way. So I ditched my nanny and ran away, with the help of a fairy or two.

[Colored lights join the shadow puppet of an infant flying out of the pram and into the sky.]

Will/Woodsman: For years past counting, I lived in Neverland, aging so slowly that you’d hardly notice it. It was a miracle of timing that she managed to show up just as I hit adolescence.

Allyn/Jack: She?

Will/Woodsman [smiling wistfully ]: Wendy, of course. In the manner of fairytales, it was love at first sight. When she left Neverland, I followed after her. Hung around in her world, growing older at something closer to the speed of time. Her family was willing to look after me for a little while, but it wasn’t long before they starting going on about how I was old enough to either get a job or starve. Starving didn’t appeal to me, so I tried the job route, to start.

[The shadows in the back-wall light become a puppet with a set of panpipes. A merry, airy tune blows up from the orchestra pit.]

Will/Woodsman: ‘Twas then I began to be called Peter Piper, for I played for tips on every street corner that didn’t run me off. It earned me just enough to get by, but then…

[The shadows rearrange into silhouettes of a man and a woman beneath a bower of flowers. The he-shadow lifts back the she-shadow’s veil and leans in for a kiss.]

Will/Woodsman: …We were finally married, Wendy and I. Had a nice little honeymoon in Europe – a few days in Italy, a little tour of France’s wine country… – and next thing you know, there’s a baby on the way. Piping didn’t get me anything near enough money for a family of three. I should have gotten another job, straight off, but what can I say? [a sorrowful shrug ] I was the boy who refused to grow up. Rather than do the responsible thing, I turned to thievery. Picked a peck of pickled peppers and a whole patch of pumpkins from a neighbor. And wouldn’t you know who that gardening neighbor was?

Allyn/Jack [with a gasp of comprehension ]: The Beast. You stole from the Beast’s garden, oh, you fool!

Will/Woodsman: Yes, I did, and barely escaped with my life. There were wanted posters up all over the place, calling for my head. I was forced to flee to the forest, leaving behind me every name I’d ever had. …along with my darling Wendy. [a laugh like a sob ]

Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater; had a wife, and couldn’t keep her.

Beast put her in a pumpkin shell, and there he kept her very well.

Allyn/Jack: The Beast imprisoned Wendy?

Will/Woodsman: Not right away. He didn’t know, at first, that she was the pepper ‘n’ pumpkin thief’s wife. He might have left her alone forever, if only she hadn’t drawn attention to herself by turning thief, too.

Allyn/Jack: Oh, dear. And what did she steal?

Will/Woodsman [with a crooked smile ]: Zucchini, mostly. And one magic bean.

[Allyn stares wide-eyed at Will as the shadows play on, showing a magic beanstalk grown up to the cloudlands … a woman pursued by flying monkeys … a baby sent into the arms of The Woodsman before the monkeys carried the woman off to the pumpkin cell devised by the vengeful Beast. At the end, all lights, on the back wall and above, go out, save for a single spotlight trained on Will and Allyn.]

Allyn/Jack [voice trembling ]: Woodsman… Do you mean to say…?

Will/Woodsman [gently ]: Yes. It’s true, Jack Snow. You are more than the child I was tasked with taking to safety. More than the chosen Santa Claus. [lowers to one knee, arms open in an invitation, almost a plea ] You’re my son, Jack. My precious baby boy.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Susan Francino and Steven Bourelle,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Italy’ and ‘wine’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”

“Wings” or “What We’ll Take in Lieu of Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust”

Why this thing we have for wings?

What’s up with humans, art, and wings?

Because we don’t have them

Because we wish we had them

Because we wish that we had to wings to fly, fly, fly

We want what we don’t have, and that’s the sky.

            If we could just wish hard enough—

But wishing hard is not enough

The sky is ever out of reach

To those of earth, without our wings

Like children born with wind enough

To wish for more, but not enough

To float and soar and dance in air and sky, sky, sky

To fly away and kiss the ground goodbye.

            So this will ever be our dream,

We human/semi-human beings

We dream of ever rising higher

High is never high enough

No mountaintop is sky enough

We reach the peak and leap and drop and why, why, why?

Because we don’t have this

Because we wish we had this

We want what we don’t have: Freedom of flight.

            A taste of D.E. Shipley poetry of the non-psalm variety, everyone. I’d been browsing some fantasy art on Facebook, just prior to the poem’s penning, and could not help but notice how very many pieces depicted otherwise-human-looking people with “a pair of moveable organs for flying”. Feathered wings, bat-like wings, wings like butterflies, everywhere. Clearly, people like drawing wings.

Soooo many more where this came from.

            A trip to someplace like a Renaissance Faire or Faerie Festival will demonstrate that people also like wearing wings. (Actually, a glance at someone’s earrings or graphic hoodie might show you that much.) Reading about people with wings can be pretty awesome, too. (Loved those first two books of James Patterson’s “Maximum Ride” series! After that… I’ll hold my tongue, for the time being.)

            Wings are a huge part of collective human fantasy. We’ve given them to pixies, to pegasi, to dragons, to angels (can’t recall the Bible actually having said that Gabriel and his crowd had wings; cherubim and seraphim, sure; the usual messengers, not so much. But it didn’t say they don’t!). When we’re feeling extra ambitious, we give them to ourselves (sometimes with tragic consequences, eh, Daedalus and son?) Go-getters like da Vinci and the Wright brothers took it a few steps further, and now we’re living in what an Ink Caster blog post dubbed an “Age of Flight”. But an airplane’s wings aren’t quite the same, are they?

            Was a time you could give me a penny and a fountain to toss it in, and my innermost thought was always the same: I wish to fly! Not on a dragon’s back (although that, too, would have been awesome), not in a plane or a hot-air balloon, but on my own power, with my own wings… or flapping my arms, as I’ve done in my dreams… or not even having to flap, just doing it, like Peter Pan.

They can fly, they can fly, they can fly, the lucky sons o' guns!

            I still wish this, if unofficially (pennies in fountains and such now being dedicated to more important causes, like cross-dimensional gateways). I always will, as most of us will. …Until some future Daedalus or Tinkerbell hooks us up.