The Moon in the Attic, Part 3

Today, for your reading pleasure, the conclusion of a short story written by yours truly. (Part 1, here; Part 2, here.) Enjoy!

<<<>>>

“Goodbye?” I cry. “You’re leaving the sky?”

The moon replies, I’m seriously considering it.

“But, the night!” I protest.

Can get along without me. There are still the stars, after all.

“But, the tides!”

I’ll find a replacement satellite. Your planet’s waters won’t know the difference.

“But… but…!” I’m running low on arguments. “What about me?”

The moon’s song turns sad. I know it will be hard

“Not hard,” I say. “Impossible. Some days, you’re my only light in the darkness. Some days, yours is the only beauty that can reach me. Without that… without you…” Tears ambush my eyes. “How can I last the night?

“Look. I get it. Burnout is a thing – even lunar burnout, apparently. Maybe the rhythm of the heavens is no better than the human rat race. Maybe you need a vacation. And you’re welcome to it! Hideout for a cycle or two. Make my attic your rehab retreat. But it can’t be forever. Please.”

Bawling seems a little more dramatic than I’d planned, but here we are. Blame it on the lateness of the hour. Everything’s awful at two a.m.

The moon’s soft light is like a stroking hand, attempting to soothe. Its music is all shushes and coos.

Suppose, it says at last, we can reach a compromise?

Compromise. Noun. That thing where nobody wins.

Suppose I leave the sky, it muses on, but not your sight?

I sniffle back another sob. “How would that even work?”

Open your eyes.

I do, and move to swipe the tears away, but the moon’s light stops me. It’s brighter than ever. Insistently so. More tears well up against the glare, but never get a chance to fall. The light is pushing back. Pushing… in.

“Personal spaaace!” I wail. “What are you doing?!”

I don’t get an answer. I rub at my eyes, and the huge glowing crescent is gone. Yet, the nighttime attic around me hasn’t dimmed.

A whisper inside says, Look in the window.

Not out the window. In.

There in the glass, my ghostly reflection. And there in my eyes…

Moonlight.

Part 3’s inspiration, as seen on the “Sun’s Rival”-inspired #ISeeYou Pinterest board – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383931936965233854/

To carry with you, says the whisper, through the dark. I will not leave you, my child.

“Wow,” I say, because wow. “But… what about finding that replacement satellite?”

The whisper sounds like some extraterrestrial cuss. Maybe it’s not too late to get a message to Pluto and Charon. Up on the roof, love, and blink exactly as I tell you

For the end of the story, this seems an awful lot like an incredible beginning.

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

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The Moon in the Attic, Part 2

Today, for your reading pleasure, the continuation of a short story written by yours truly. (Part 1, here; Part 3, coming later this week.) Enjoy!

<<<>>>

“Why on Earth is the moon in my attic?”

I don’t expect an answer, given that I don’t expect the moon can talk.

But it can. And does. Not in English, or even in words, but in… well, I guess it would be best described as music.

It says something like hello, and sorry to have disturbed you. I gather that it hadn’t intended to introduce itself until morning.

“Oh, that’s all right,” I say, because polite, inoffensive lies are my conversational default. One day I’ll slip up and tell someone what I really think, and then the world will end.

Truth is, I’m not terribly upset to find the moon in my house. Is this in any way logical? No. Can the ramifications of this event be anything short of disastrous? Likely not. Should I be contacting somebody about this? I don’t know who, but probably yeah.

But the moon knows me. I hear my name in its song.

And I know the moon. Sort of.

In one sense, it’s like a favorite celebrity. I know the moon’s stats. I can list its achievements. I recognize its face every time it shows up in pictures.

In another sense, it’s like an old friend. The sight or thought of the moon warms my heart. I feel the love in its light. It’s just always been there, the way family is.

The shining crescent says, Because family is what we are.

Part 2’s inspiration, as seen on the “Sun’s Rival”-inspired #ISeeYou Pinterest board – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383931936962803207/

Confusion contorts my face. “Biological?”

It laughs. Nothing so Earthly as that. But you hold a part of me. And so you are my child.

I’m somewhere between touched and giddy. “That’s… special. But why are you here?”

The moon’s music sighs. I am old and tired and thin.

“Like a hobbit spread over too much bread?” I’m pretty sure that’s not quite the quote, but I’m tired, too, if not so old. My head’s too full of missing my pillow to bother with first-rate Tolkien references.

Like a moon, it says, with too many phases behind it. Wax and wane, wax and wane… I haven’t the will to grow full again.

So I’ve come down to tell you goodbye.

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

The Moon in the Attic, Part 1

Today, for your reading pleasure, the first part of a short story written by yours truly. (Parts 2 and 3 to come later this week.) Enjoy!

<<<>>>

It’s times like these I wish I had a husband.

I’ve told myself I’m not the marrying kind. That my need for solitude and personal space far outweighs my sometimes-desire for romance. That I’d have no hope of a good night’s sleep if I had to share a bed, particularly if my bedmate were known to snore. Or even breathe loudly. Or touch me.

On the other hand, unexplained rustles and thumps in the attic don’t do much toward a restful night, either.

It’s probably burglars. Murdering ones. Or raccoons. Zombie ones. Or a spider of unearthly proportions.

I’m going to die tonight.

Had I a husband, I’d send him up with a broom or a BB gun to take care of whatever unholy pest has come to plague our home. Instead, it’s single, sleepless little me up those stairs. Clutched in my hands, a sizeable stick. Jammed on my head, my Adventure Hat. (Or, for tonight’s purposes, my Guard My Hair From Cobwebs ‘n’ Such Hat.) Tingling in my veins, a potent form of chronic anxiety that can morph into berserker rage at need. …Or anytime I’m harassed by a housefly.

Every dusty step creaks beneath me. Every breath contains a whispered whimper. Have I lived my best life? Have I any regrets? It’s not actually too late to go back downstairs and just burn the house to the ground…

I reach the trapdoor to the uppermost story, and heaven above, there’s a weird glow shining through the cracks. Bright white light, bordering on blue. Not zombie raccoons at all, then. Mutant raccoons. From space.

Therefore, not a spider! That’s some comfort, at least. Feeling slightly less terrified, I push open the door, and…

That is the moon.

That is the moon.

The moon.

Is in.

My attic.

The story’s inspiration.

<<<>>>

Enjoyed what I wrote? There’s loads more where that came from! Browse the DEShipley catalogue, why dontcha – including my latest release, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)”. Already read it? I’d greatly appreciate your review!

Behind the Talette: The Soul Shepherdess (Part 1)

It’s the last Monday of the month, meaning my Channillo series has grown by one Wilderhark Talette. ^o^

Maybe you couldn’t tell from the opening poem, title tale, and closing chapter of “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, or the recent post centered around my emerging bond with Rosie, but the minstrel point of view is a favorite of mine. And like “The Sky-Child”, the next four installments of my Wilderhark Talettes will be all about how the Wilderhark world gained a special songster – one you’ve not met before, though the name does make a cameo appearance in Book 6.5

“Gant-o’-the-Lute,” he returned the greeting. “So, that’s you, is it? Wasted no time getting started with an instrument of your own, I see. Who did you find to apprentice you, then? Barden-a-Tor? Balladry Sol?”

– Ioan-o’-the-North in “The Sky-Child”

Balladry Sol. The answer to a question that once did I wonder: Are any Wilderhark minstrels girls?

Not often, it turns out. Hardly any at all. Or at least, such was the case before Lute’s time. But in “The Soul Shepherdess” – Part 1 shared on Channillo today – we meet an exception: An out-of-the-ordinary little girl with a musical destiny.

And as we all know by now, you can’t have a Wilderhark minstrel story without music. Each chapter of “The Soul Shepherdess” will include at least one original song – which are well enough to read about, but better yet to hear. So for today’s “Behind the Talette” treat, I’ve recorded a video of me and my lute performing the very first composition of she who’ll become Ballady Sol. Ladies, gentlemen, and whoever else, I present to you, “Glass-Light Goodnight” (as shared on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page).

Glass-Light Goodnight Still

For the touching tale of how this song came to be, make sure you’re subscribed to the Wilderhark Talettes on Channillo, and this story and more shall be yours, all yours!

Jack and the Genre-nauts, Finale: I Saw Three Wishes Sailing In

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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 long awaited/despaired-of-ever-happening ‘Jack and the Genre-nauts’ finale: ‘I Saw Three Wishes Sailing In’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a forest of Christmas trees before an icy background, faux snow glittering on the floor. Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED stand over the dejectedly-kneeling Gant-o’-the-Lute as Loki. Will Scarlet as Jack Snow in the Mad Hatter’s body also stands by, while Hatter’s grinning Shadow dances over the backdrop.]

Sir Wilbur: Well, Annabelle? What do you propose we do with our vanquished Trickster?

Annabelle: That depends. Do we have a way to make sure the Shadow does as we wish instead of running mad?

Will [voiceover]/Shadow [turning somersaults, laughing like a loon ]: Madness-made is what I am! Control the likes of me? Why, you’d just as easy turn back time itself!

Will/Jack: Spoken like a Wonderland riddle. And this body I’m in has a Wonderland mind. A reflective surface, someone – quickly!

Annabelle: Something like this?

[From behind her back, she hefts the mirror taken from the Sheriff’s castle in Steampunk Nottingham.]

Lute/Loki [his crestfallen scowl gone baffled  ]: Where have you been carrying that thing, all this time?

Annabelle: In my back pocket. It’s important to dress comfortably when traveling between imaginary realms; my go-to is jeans made of stretch-credulity denim. But is a mirror really the best plan, Jack? If the Shadow catches sight of his reflection, he’ll return to his host, and there may not be room inside Hatter’s body for his spirit and yours.

Sundial

Will/Jack [straightening from having sketched a sundial in the snow beneath the Shadow ]: Aim not for the Shadow, but downward. What there do you see?

Sir Wilbur: The shadow of a shadow, circling clockwise.

Will/Jack [triumphant ]: And in the mirror, counterclockwise! A widdershins shadow is time turned backward. Shadow of Hatter, you’re now in our power.

Will [voiceover]/Shadow: Well, tweedle-dee-dee, you’re too clever for me. How would you command me, masters?

Annabelle: Gone genie on us, have you? Excellent. Wish one: Bind Loki to my mind, making me his author, and him my character.

Will [voiceover]/Shadow [giggling ]: Granted!

Lute/Loki [shooting to his feet ]: WHAT! How dare you?! I am a god!

Sir Wilbur: And as fictional gods go, you wouldn’t be her first. We’ll introduce you to the abishan, sometime.

Lute/Loki [teeth grinding ]: Why would you do this to me? After all else of which you’ve robbed me, why my freedom, too?

Annabelle: Oh, hush, it’s not as bad as all that. My characters get plenty long leashes, believe me. But keeping you tethered to a proper story, as opposed to this nonsense we’ve been living for twenty-some acts, will guard against your mischief taking down too many worlds. You want Ragnarok? Fine. But contained in a book. [smiling kindly ] I’ll even be sure to work in Fenrir. You’ll get your son, and he’ll get his story, just like I promised him.

Lute/Loki [anger cooling ]: Well. If I am to be your prisoner, I suppose it could be under worse conditions. Very well, author. I am yours. [smirking ] Good luck to your plots, having to keep pace with me.

Will/Jack [stage-muttering ]: If Danielle could handle Austeryn in “Surrogate Sea”, I’m sure Annabelle will get by. [“aloud” ] Now, Shadow, for a second wish: Return to us my rightful body, and set my spirit within it.

Will [voiceover]/Shadow: Granted!

[The Shadow spins in a cyclone of smoke, and when the obscuring darkness clears, Will Scarlet has fallen to the floor, but there stands Allyn-a-Dale.]

Sir Wilbur: Jack! You’re really back!

Allyn/Jack: That I am, and of it glad! A body’s a body, more or less, but how I’ve missed my mind. I don’t know how Hatter lives with himself.

Annabelle: That’s the wonder of a man of Wonderland. Speaking of, time for wish number three. [holds mirror higher ] Hey, Shadow! Look here!

[With a squeal of delight at the sight of its own self, the Shadow flies right into the glass. No sooner has it disappeared and Annabelle set it down, propped up against a tree, than Will Scarlet jumps up from the floor.]

Will/Hatter: End of the line!

Everyone else: Huh??

Will/Hatter [arms spread wide ]: We’re here, Jack: The Fairytale Forest’s North Pole. I told you I’d get you back home!

Allyn/Jack: Why… so you did. And so you have. Not the route I’d have taken, but nevertheless. Thank you, Artifice Cheshirecott.

Will/Hatter [bowing with a sweep of the hat ]: More than welcome, Jack Snow. Now, I’m bound for Wonderland, a big bowl of homemade ice cream, and a nice long nap. All very fun to play the travel guide, but real talk: Keeping you kids entertained on the road is exhausting. So long, everyone! Watch out for rabbit holes!

[With that and a wink, he steps through the looking glass and is gone.]

[The curtain falls.]

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Tirzah Duncan,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘homemade ice cream’ and ‘widdershins’.”

“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!”

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like World’s End (Jack and the Genre-nauts Act 23)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“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: ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like World’s End’!”

<<<>>>

Best_Nature_www.laba.ws

[The curtain rises on a backdrop of fields of ice. A sign atop a candy-cane-striped post reads “North Pole, 0.5 miles”, pointing toward the copse of Christmas trees on the stage’s opposite side. Entering from the wings are Gant-o’-the-Lute as Loki and Allyn-a-Dale as Fenrir, the Antichristmas Wolf in Jack Snow’s body.]

Lute/Loki [voice forbidding, smile stretched wide ]: Now’s the day, an’ now’s the hour;

See the Antichristmas lour,

And the Trickster’s rise to power:

Ragnarok unleashed!

Allyn/Fenrir: A stirring preamble, Father.

Lute/Loki: Like it? Modeled it after some poem or another by that Scot fellow, Burns.

Allyn/Fenrir [lips curled back in a wolfish grin ]: Fitting, that. For presently, this frozen world will blaze.

[Meanwhile, among the Christmas trees, out peek Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED, along with Will Scarlet as Jack Snow in the Mad Hatter’s body.]

Annabelle [stage whispering ]: This is it. The final boss battle. Sonic vs. Robotnik. Link vs. Demon Lord Ganon. Jack Snow vs. Antichristmas Beast/Wolf/son of Loki.

Will/Jack [turning to Annabelle in aggravation ]: What are you on about?

Annabelle [mumbling ]: Video game stuff. Sorry, I saw parallels.

Sir Wilbur: Never mind it, Jack. What’s the plan?

Will/Jack: Plan? I fear that’s a bit beyond me, at the moment. I’m Jack Snow in spirit, but Hatter in the head. What does his mad mind know of battle strategy?

Annabelle: Does this mean we’re screwed?

Sir Wilbur: It’s beginning to look like it. See there!

[The other side of the stage, Allyn has raised his arms high. Head thrown back, he speaks in a howling chant.]

Allyn/Fenrir: In the name of all evil things anti-Christmas,

I summon the fire of sky!

Flaming color, rain down ruin!

Raze and blaze, yon Northern Lights!

[A flickering green glow appears above, glowing redder the lower it descends. Lute’s cruel laugh has scarcely begun gaining momentum when Will plunges out of the trees, hand thrust up toward the lights.]

Will/Jack [rapidly, but with authority ]: Light of North’s nocturnal noon,

Ruin you shall not rain.

Heatless fire, arctic blaze,

In the sky remain.

[The reddening lights halt, then rise again, their harmless green hue returning.]

Allyn/Fenrir [with a snarling sneer ]: Counter rhymes, is it? That’s a game we could be at all day, Santa Claus. Unless you mean to sing my doom with carols as you did before?

Will/Jack: That depends. Would it work?

Lute/Loki [wagging a finger ]: Not so easy as that. Children of the Trickster were never fated to die the same way twice. It will take more than the power contained in a song to kill him. More than the power of Christmas itself!

Will/Jack [thoughtful, sober ]: Possibly so. But what of the power behind Christmas?

Allyn/Fenrir [eyes narrow ]: What do you mean?

Will/Jack [advancing ]: The first and greatest Christmas gift. A baby born to die. A saving sacrifice. This do I wield against you, Antichristmas: The sacrifice, made in the truest Christmas spirit, of Artifice Cheshirecott – a mad hatter who so loved his lost friend that he gave up his body to put an end to your wickedness one more time.

Allyn/Fenrir [ashen and wide-eyed ]: No… [clutches throat, choking and gagging ] Nooo…!

Lute/Loki: Fenrir! Son!

[But it’s too late. Allyn crumples to the ground, a thick haze of steam rising up around him. When the vapor clears, his body is gone. Dropping to his knees, Lute lets loose a shriek of anguish.]

Lute/Loki: A thousand curses upon you, Jack Snow! All I wanted for Christmas was vengeance! To destroy the legacy of the one who killed my son!

Will/Jack: Unfortunately, Loki, you’ve been a very naughty god this year. For that, you get the Shadow, black as coal. [arm raised skyward again, he calls out ]

Shadow of the hatter mad,

Fly to finish to Fenrir’s dad!

[A formless darkness with manic, cat-like eyes and a wide, crescent moon grin flits over the white backdrop.]

Will [voiceover]/Shadow: Ah, looky – it’s Loki! My own match in mischief! Now, what’s to be done about you?

Annabelle [stepping out of the trees with a noisy “ahem” ]: If it’s all the same to everyone else, I may have a solution.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Kelton de la Cruz and Tirzah Duncan,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Demon Lord Ganon’ and lyrics from “Scots Wha Hae’ by Robert Burns.”

“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!”

From Bad to Norse (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 20)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“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: ‘From Bad to Norse’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on the top of the mountain set, where stands Gant-o’-the-Lute as Loki, masses of clouds heaped like haystacks around him, his shoulders casually bearing the weighted curtain of the sky.]

Lute/Loki: La-di-dum. Ten minutes more of waiting, and my replacement shall arrive.

[At that moment, with a noise like a straining mechanical elephant – or however the Doctor Who fans in the house would describe it – one of the cloud stacks spins around, revealing the blue police box shape of the time/space-traveling TARDIS. Out the door step Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter in his Doctor getup, author Annabelle Gray from INSPIRED in the body of her character, Sir Wilbur Lamb, and Sir Wilbur in the body of Annabelle.]

Lute/Loki [brows raised ]: You’re early.

Will/Hatter Doctor: A Time Lord is never early, Loki, nor is he late. He arrives precisely when he means to. More or less. Depends how well he input the coordinates, and the TARDIS’s level of cooperation, phases of the universe’s various moons…

Lute/Loki: “Loki”, is it? Not “Atlas”? So, you’re from the future. [unperturbed grin ] Just how far ahead have you seen?

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: We stepped back in time about when we realized Jack Snow’s spirit is in some realm of the dead, with his body bearing the Antichristmas Beast toward the probable ruination of Christmas.

Lute/Loki [grin widening ]: My, oh, my. And what brings you back here?

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: We need someone to go the point just before the Antichristmas Beast shoots Hatter and forestall its happening, thereby preventing the release of Hatter’s Shadow and the body-switching disaster it caused.

Lute/Loki: And you come in the hope that this needed someone is me? That I shall abandon all to play fairy godmother by setting right your wrongs? Why in the world would I do that?

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: Well, you helped us before. …or, erm, will help us later.

Lute/Loki [amused ]: Help you? By shooting down the Antichristmas’s airship before he can kill you? Or do you refer to when I release Hatter from his entrapment under the sky? Odd that you should call that help, when it all leads to the very event you wish me to counteract.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur [frowning ]: Are we then to understand that you wished for this to happen?

Lute/Loki: Mortals understand the ways of a god? I’ve no expectation of that. But yes, this is all of my deliberate doing.

Will/Hatter Doctor [expression pained ]: But why? Why would you kill Jack?

Lute/Loki: You killed Jack, Wonderlander, because you are mad. And I wielded that madness because we had need of it.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: “We”?

Lute/Loki [casting the sky from his shoulders ]: The revolutionaries! The ushers of the end times! The great Antichristmas Wolf and I!

Will/Hatter Doctor: Wait – Antichristmas Wolf? Look who’s talking madness now. What kind of wolf has horns?

Lute/Loki [smiling terribly ]: The kind that’s the child of a god.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle [with a gasp ]: The wolf son of Loki. That would make the Antichristmas Beast—

Lute/Loki [exultant ]: The mighty Fenrir. And together, we shall bring Ragnarok to the North Pole.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Kelton de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘fairy godmother’ and ‘revolutionaries’.”

“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!”