The Quantum Anomaly

R2D2 and C3P0 on a barren planet's surface

previously…

I hesitate, wondering why the two familiar-looking droids have just walked past the ship without a glance. Then I remember; Captain James T Kirk and his landing party couldn’t to see our ship when they encountered it on a similar bleak planet.

I’ll have to go outside.

The rear hatch obligingly opens as I approach and I hover in the doorway as the ramp descends. It connects with the sandy surface of the unknown planet with a thud. Artoo’s head spins around to face me, and he utters a surprised ‘bloop’.

‘What is it, Artoo?’ asks his golden-coloured companion, barely glancing in his direction.

The little droid’s head spins around again, making a series of excited beeps causing his companion to turn around.

‘Oh!’ Cee-Threepio’s eyes light up. ‘Master Luke must have sent you to rescue us,’ he says.

And here I was hoping that they would rescue me!

Cee-Threepio’s arms jerk from side to side as trots eagerly towards me. ‘I take it there is a space-craft of some kind behind you?’

Before I have the chance to reply, Cee-Threepio has stepped onto the ramp. He glances over his shoulder. ‘Come along Artoo, don’t dawdle. You don’t want to get left behind again, do you?’

Artoo whoops with mild irritation and clambers onto the ramp.

‘It looks very dark in there, Artoo; you’d better activate your head torch,’ fusses Cee-Threepio. He turns to me. ‘I suppose it’s just a standard transporter?’

I need to take control of the situation.

Once inside, the two droids look at me expectantly. Cee-Threepio is right. The flight deck has become rather gloomy. I glance around at the walls, but they seem solid enough.

‘Is something wrong, Mistress? asks Cee-Threepio. He puts his hand to his mouth. ‘Sorry, we haven’t been introduced! Where are my manners?’

‘I already know who you are.’ I say, managing a grin. ‘I’m Jemma Kirk.’

‘Miss Jemma…’

Our surroundings flicker like a badly-adjusted monitor and the ship lurches disconcertingly. I slide into my seat, gripping the arms. I need help!

Artoo utters a surprised beep and shunts over to the ship’s console where he plugs his scomp link into one of the desktop ports. A moment later he utters a low whistle.

‘He’s says he’s picking up some very strange readings from your ship,’ Cee-Threepio interprets.

Artoo tweets and beeps. Cee-Threepio cocks his head and nods. ‘He says there’s a quantum anomaly, whatever that is.’

With a high-pitched screech Artoo pulls his scomp link from the port. A series of anxious bloops and whistles follow.

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, Artoo,’ says Cee-Threepio crossly. ‘Somebody’s cat? It sounds like you’ve got your wires crossed.

Then I hear a reassuring sound behind me. I spin around in my seat as a familiar blue box appears.

‘Well I never, what can this be?’ wonders Cee-Threepio.

Artoo makes a chuckling sound followed by what sounds very like a wolf-whistle.

What exactly is a quantum anomaly? And what’s all this about a cat?
How will the Doctor fare in this galaxy far, far away?
Tune in next week for episode 8…


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #51

The challenge this week was torch.
Photo credits: thefactsite.com and character-online.com

Losing Control

Han Solo holding a weapon

previously…

I open my mouth to speak but, suddenly tongue-tied, I close it again. I look to Harris for help.

‘So you didn’t beam us on to your ship, Mr Solo?’ Harris says calmly.

‘Why would I want to do that?’ He glares back. ‘And less of the Mr Solo, kid. You can call me Han.’ He lowers his gun.

I find my voice. ‘We’re sorry for the intrusion, Mr So.., er Han, ‘but your ship has just saved us from the Death Star. We’re very grateful.’

Han raises a quizzical eyebrow.

A low-pitched roar comes from beyond the rear hatch. ‘It’s all right, Chewy,’ Han shouts over his shoulder. It’s just a bunch of kids.’

A huge furry head appears.

‘Chewbacca! Way to go!’ Harris says delightedly. He nudges me with his elbow. ‘We’re actually on the Millennium Falcon!’

‘Can I see round your ship, Han?’ Harris almost begs. ‘The Millennium Falcon’s my favourite ever starship and that flight in hyper-drive was awesome!’

Han gives Harris one of his lopsided grins, while Chewbacca tosses his head and roars gently in what I assume is agreement.

‘Okay kid, I’ll show you around this bucket of bolts, but then we’re going to have to find somewhere to drop you and your ship off. I’ve cargo to pick up in the Kessel sector and I don’t need any extra passengers.’

Harris and Stevens bound towards the exit hatch. I follow more slowly, wondering whether we’ll actually be able to leave the ship. We’ve never managed to do so before. But I’m curious. Not so much about the famous Millennium Falcon, although I am rather keen on its present owner, but it occurs to me that we’ve never actually seen our ship from the outside.

But what might happen if we do leave the ship? I stop in my tracks at the entrance to the hatch.

‘What’s that, kid?’ Han turns to me.

I hadn’t realised I’d spoken out loud. ‘Our ship is powered by our minds and guided by our imaginations.’ I say by way of explanation.

Harris and Stevens have already joined Chewbacca outside the ship. ‘Never mind all that now, Jem,’ says Harris impatiently.

‘Sounds kinda weird,’ says Han.

‘We’ll tell you about it later.’ Harris is almost jumping up and down with excitement. ‘C’mon, Han, let’s go.’

As I step onto the ramp my stomach lurches and my knees start to buckle. I sit down abruptly.

‘Hey, are you all right, kid?’ Han crouches next to me.

‘I just feel a bit light-headed,’ I reply, trying to put on a brave face. ‘Our ship suddenly feels… less substantial…’

‘Low sugar. It’s the after effect of being in hyper-drive.’ Han looks up. ‘Chuck her one of those Banquet Bars, Chewy.’

Chewbacca rummages in a nearby cardboard box and throws me a crumpled package. The wrapper reminds me of a Snickers. I know the Earth-based confectionery company has been a multi-global for centuries; maybe they’ve changed the name in this galaxy.

Chewbacca nods encouragingly as I tear open the wrapper and take a bite, while Han pulls a communicator from his jacket and holds it out to me. ‘Go back inside and rest. Call me on this if… if anything should happen.’ He looks at the ship, frowning slightly.

As Harris and Stevens disappear through the hatch into the corridor beyond, the walls of our ship start to shimmer around me.

I have a bad feeling about this.

Md Mahdi on Unsplash

Will Jemma be all right alone on the ship? Will it still be there when Harris and Stevens return? Tune in next week for episode 6…

And if you we’re wondering what on earth (or off-earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets here


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #50

The challenge this week was banquet.
Photo credit: Md Mahdi on Unsplash

 

Inside Hanger 327

The Death Star from Star Wars

Previously…

We hurtle towards the menacing dark sphere. Harris clutches an imaginary joystick in his right hand, steering the ship left and right, following the little fleet of star-fighters. Something clicks in my mind, but before I get the chance to process the thought we face a massive barrage of fire coming from a group of enemy craft that are streaming towards us from the sphere. Harris’s thumb is a blur as he rapidly returns fire. Fortunately our shields are holding up, but one of the small star-fighters is not so lucky. Caught head on by the incoming fire, the little craft explodes and breaks up. A ruptured wing cartwheels past the side of our viewing screen.

‘We’ve got to make him snap out of it!’ Stevens yells over the noisy warning siren.

We slide around the console, clinging to the edge as the ship lurches violently from side to side. Stevens takes Harris by the shoulders and shakes him vigorously, then I pinch and twist his nose, but his stare remains fixed and his hand clenched, working the imaginary control.

‘Coffee!’ exclaims Stevens. A smooth plastic tray holding steaming mug, accompanied by a chocolate-covered jam doughnut, obligingly appears. Stevens wafts the tray in front of Harris.

Roused by the sweet and bitter aromas, Harris blinks. He reaches for the coffee and takes a sip. He grins and grabs the doughnut, taking a big bite. ‘What’s happening?’ he asks blandly, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

I glance at the screen. We’re almost on top of the sphere when we suddenly lose momentum. The ship starts to drift, while the battle continues to rage around us. Then we feel the ship move steadily sideways.

‘Who’s doing that?’ Stevens shoots a look at Harris. But Harris is still busy chewing, his right hand now gripping the coffee mug.

A dark faceless wall closes in around us. The viewing screen flashes a message:

WARNING!  TRACTOR BEAM: WARNING!

The viewing screen blinks again, then adjusts. We’ve entered a vast hanger. Huge slanting numbers painted on the floor read ‘327’. A number of other ships are dotted about the cavernous interior. Various humanoids dressed in flight suits mill about, and a group of what appear to be prisoners is being led away by two grey-uniformed officials.

A line of soldiers, in shiny white armoured suits and matching domed helmets, marches menacingly towards our ship. Then it dawns on me.

‘Harris, you were playing one of those Star Wars arcade games!’

Harris’s eyes widen. He frowns and shakes his head. But before he has a chance to reply, one of the grey-uniformed officials strides up, clutching a clipboard. He lifts the top sheet of paper and writes something down, then glares up at us. ‘Open your hatches for inspection,’ he commands.

The shiny-armoured storm-troopers advance another pace. They level their blasters at the ship.

‘Oh no,’ says Harris slowly. ‘This isn’t good.’

‘You’re dead right it isn’t! You’ve landed us up on the Death Star, you idiot!’ yells Stevens in alarm.

My instinct is to hide. But where?

Star Wars Storm-troopers

Will our gallant Space Cadets be arrested? Will they be made to face the Dark Lord?
Or will they suddenly wake up to find themselves somewhere else entirely?

Tune in next week for episode 4

And if you we’re wondering what on Earth (or off-Earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets here


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #49

The challenge this week was paper.
Photo credit: http://www.wdwnt.com

The Journey Continues

Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Series 2 Episode 1

The lights flash back on and I’m blinking in the brightness. Captain Kirk and Spock are gone. I glance across the star-ship’s command console; Harris and Stevens are wearing puzzled looks.

‘Hello, Cadets!’

We spin round in our seats to see our Professor emerge from the doorway at the rear of the flight deck. She trots over to us and perches on the edge of the console.

‘Are you all right, Professor?’ I ask. ‘The mind-worm, has it gone?’

She smiles serenely at me, her usual calm and confident self, touching a hand to her ear. ‘It’s if it was never there, Jemma.’ 

The viewing screen blinks into life revealing Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor pointing a frustrated finger at us. ‘You lot!’ He yells, wagging the finger furiously. ‘Get off that ship now! How many times…’

‘Okay, Doctor.’ The Professor flicks a switch and the screen goes blank. ‘It seems that we are free to leave.’ She shrugs. ‘Come, Cadets, let’s go.’

She stands and leads us to the doorway. A blast of fresh air suggests a hatch to the planet’s surface has opened.

We follow. Harris flexes his fingers and Stevens walks with a slight limp. My legs are stiff from sitting. How long have we been on the ship?

So much has happened, so many dangers averted; after all that we’ve been put through by our captor, can leaving really be this easy?

The Professor reaches the doorway. She stops and turns, blocking our path. Her face begins to fade and she grows taller. She is transforming into…

We take a collective step backwards.

A towering humanoid looms before us. One whom we all recognise. We saw him on the star-ship’s viewing screen when we first arrived. It’s the Zyborgatron and this is his ship.

The shiny silver mouth opens. ‘Return to your seats, Cadets. I haven’t finished with you yet.’

The ship’s engines start to hum.

~~~

What has the Zyborgatron done with the Professor? Could they be one and the same? (after all, we’ve never seen them together) and what are his plans for the Cadets?
Tune in next week to find out.

And if you we’re wondering what on Earth (or off-Earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets
here

 


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #48

The challenge this week was path.
Photo credit: Hanson Lu on Unsplash

An Immersive Experience

The image shows a cartoon sea-serpent. He's doesn't look friendly.

A thud on the doormat interrupted Alys and Sparky’s perusal of the Witches’ Weekly crossword. Intrigued by the unexpected arrival, they hurried over to find a large paper-wrapped parcel perched on the doormat. It opened obligingly and two beautiful books tumbled out.

Alys ran an admiring hand over the flower-embossed cover of the first book. She scrutinized the spine: Unbelievable Potions from Unusual Ingredients. An excited plume of purple steam rose from Sparky’s snout as he read the title of the other: Fabulous Beasts of the North: an Illustrated Guide.

A slip of crisp white paper rose from the wrapper. ‘Greetings to you from the Biggest Bookstore, we know you like books, so here are some more.’ The little slip of paper bowed. ‘Presented to you with our compliments. Enjoy!’ It tittered as it disappeared in a tiny puff of powdery smoke.

Alys and Sparky grinned at each other and dived into their books. The room fell silent for some time.

Alys was first to break the silence. ‘Sparky, come and look at this! A rose-scented potion with a drawing of a rose that’s so lifelike I can almost smell the perfume.’

The diminutive dragon started to crawl across the page he’d been studying. It was a beautifully drawn map of a magical destination far away in the north. He stepped off the stone-coloured land and… sploosh! His front paw sank into the inky blue sea. Sparky reared up and retreated in a shower of surprised sparks that hissed and fizzed as they landed in the water.

‘What are you doing, Sparky?’ Alys pushed the potion book aside and watched as the he placed an experimental paw on the patch of sea in the centre of the map.

A miniature whale-like creature emerged from the inky depths. Sea-spray spouted from its blowhole, splashing across Alys’s sleeve. Sparky leapt backwards as the head of an angry sea serpent appeared from centre of the page. It writhed and glared about, its pointed tongue twitching unnervingly.

Alys edged away from the table as a second fountain of sea water surged forth from the tiny whale. The sea serpent flapped its tail causing a small tidal wave to break over the page, drenching the table top. Sparky hovered high over the map as Alys rescued the potions book, dropping it almost immediately with a sharp cry of pain. A thin thorn-covered rose tendril was growing from the cover and a bunch of blooms had sprung from its spine.

The book landed on the floor with a thump. Alys and Sparky stared wide-eyed as more rose stems sprouted, twining around the table’s legs and creeping over the carpet. The soggy table sneezed as sea water ran down its legs and the retired cauldron cowered in her corner.

Alys dashed across the room and snatched her wand from the kitchen table. ‘Hurry!’ yelled Sparky, seeing a small horse-headed creature rising from the map’s inky water. The creature tossed its mane and planted its hooves on the shore, flapping its fish-tail furiously behind it.

‘Arresto!’ commanded Alys, pointing her wand at the sprouting briers. The branches hesitated. She turned to the map and pointed at the sea. ‘Sicco!’ The waves calmed. Alys breathed a sigh of relief.

There was a moment of calm, then the sea serpent stuck out its tongue and the roses resumed their march, crawling over the cowering cauldron. The cloying scent of roses overpowered the room.

The air started to shimmer. Something was about to materialize. Sparky hovered by Alys’s head, worried white steam rising from his nostrils.

A tweed-suited man with floppy brown hair appeared. Sparky recognised him straight away. It was the man from the bookstore in the Magical Mall of All. The tweedy man held up his hands.

‘Ester, Narwall, stop this at once!’ He clapped his hands. ‘STOP IT NOW!’

As he spoke, the rambling roses vanished and the sea creatures sank down into the map, sucking up the water behind them. The books slammed shut. Silence reigned.

‘Sorry about that.’ The book seller scooped up the books, clamping them in his hands. ‘Immersive-Experience Books, they must have escaped in the confusion during that business with Shylock the Spiv,’ he said, glancing at Sparky.

‘Immersive-Experience books?’ Alys looked askance, still stroking the retired cauldron who hadn’t quite recovered her composure. The table stifled a sneeze.

‘There’s an Interactive-Imagination spell inside them. Fortunately they left a paper trail, so I could track them down.’ He held out a remnant of wrapper. ‘They’re not really for home use, but you can come and study them at the shop. They must be useful to you or they wouldn’t have posted themselves here.

The book-seller prepared to leave. ‘Anyway, all’s well that ends well.’

Alys and Spark exchanged glances, nodding vigorously.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #47

The challenge this week was title. Image credit: pinclipart.com

A small cute purple dragon
Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here

This is the last in the present series of the Alys and Sparky Adventures.
Fear not, they will return!

Friday Flash Fiction and Genre Scribes will return in two weeks time
when we’ll catch up with some old friends from the fan fiction future.

Can you guess who they are?

The eagle has landed

cartoon picture of an eagle

‘What is it, Sparky?’ Alys asked her diminutive dragon, whose yellow eyes were fixed on something outside the kitchen window. The end of his tail twitched, rattling the rack of Special Stirring Spoons that Alys stored by the sink.

Alys counted under her breath as she stirred crocodile tears and tincture of unicorn hair into her bubbling cauldron. She turned the cauldron down before joining Sparky at the window.

A huge bird was perching on top of the garden shed. The little building looked none too pleased as her roof creaked under the weight of the great big bird.

‘Oh,’ exclaimed Alys. ‘Whatever is that?’

‘I thought it might be an owl with a message for us, only I’m afraid to go out in case it gobbles me up!’ said Sparky.

‘Owl’s don’t deliver messages except in story books, Sparky. In any case, I don’t think it is an owl. It’s much too large. It could an eagle of some sort.’

‘Or an eagle owl, perhaps?’ suggested Sparky.

‘Well, whatever it is, we’d better find out what it’s doing here, if only for the sake of our poor shed!’

Alys poked her heard around the door. Much to the shed’s relief, the bird flapped its huge wings and flew to the ground. It was as tall as Alys, and twice as wide. The bird took a step towards her and opened its great curved beak. Alys clutched the edge of the door. The bird hesitated then uttered a high pitched peep. Alys was taken aback. Its voice didn’t match its owner at all.

‘Can I help you?’ She looked the bird up and down. Its feet were enormous, ending in evil-looking talons. ‘I’m Alys,’ she added politely.

The huge bird hunched its shoulders. Its eyes darted around the garden, before fixing Alys with a big beady stare. The edges of its beak curved upward into a kind of smile. ‘I’m Mickey,’ he chirped in a very un-eagle-like voice. He looked around again. ‘You wouldn’t be a witch by any chance?’

Alys nodded uncertainly.

Mickey reached beneath his left wing with his beak and flashed a blurry I.D. badge at her. ‘I’m with the FBB.’

‘The Fabulous Beasts’ Bureau!’ Sparky shouted excitedly, appearing from behind the door. ‘Wow! Let him in.’

‘Not so loud,’ hissed Mickey, as he squeezed through the door

‘You’re actually an agent with the FBB?’ said Sparky through a puff of admiring amber smoke. ‘What’s your mission?’

‘That’s confidential. If I told you, I’d have to kill you.’

Sparky’s eyes grew even rounder.

‘Okay, Alys. The FBB is going to have to trust you on this.’ Mickey glanced around. ‘I need to go deep undercover.’

Alys nodded uncertainly.

Mickey fished beneath his right wing and tossed a small roll of spell-parchment to Alys. ‘Don’t ask questions, just do it.’

Alys unrolled the parchment and read the scratchy silver writing. ‘But this…’

Mickey hushed her with a shake of his head. ‘Do it.’

Alys shrugged and picked up her wand. Silently she mouthed the words, casting the wand in a wide circle.

There was a blinding flash of silver light, then everything went black. Alys heard something small scurry across the kitchen floor.

When the room returned to normal there was no sign of Mickey.

‘What did you do, Alys?’

Alys pointed at the tiny tail which was disappearing under the kitchen door. They hurried to the window to see a small brown mouse shoot across the garden and slip under the gate.

A moment later there was a thud on the doormat. Sparky sped across the room. A pristine piece of parchment stood to attention then spoke. ‘The FBB thanks you for your assistance. Be prepared. You may be called on again in the future.’ The message sizzled into self-destruction.

Little puffs of pleased purple smoke sprang from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Secret Agent Sparky!’ he whispered.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #46

The challenge this week was eagle. Photo credit: clipart-library.com

A small cute purple dragon
Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here

A new business opportunity

a picture of a chocolate cake

Sparky was sitting on the table reading the latest edition of Magical Creatures Monthly. He was studying a tempting-looking chocolate cake recipe by a dragon from Wisconsin, when with a loud pop and a puff of pink smoke, a small rectangular object landed on the doormat.

‘What was that, Sparky?’ called Alys from where she was busy cleaning her cauldron.

The diminutive dragon flew down to inspect the recent arrival. ‘It’s a Magical Messaging Machine. How exciting!’ He poked it gently with a small purple claw. ‘Oooh,’ he exclaimed through a shower of excited sparks as the screen sprang into life.

Alys hurried over. The Magical Message Machine pinged loudly and the large friendly face of George the Dragon filled the screen.

Alys and Sparky exchanged glances. Even though George had made a huge mess of Alys’s herb garden when he’d visited, and hadn’t actually turned out to be one of Sparky’s relatives as he’d claimed, they’d felt rather sorry for him when he had to be returned to the Home for Delusional Dragons. It was good to see him.

‘Listen both of you,’ George said, leaning even closer to his side of the screen. ‘I want to make it up to you for barging in on you like that.’

Alys smiled. ‘No harm done, George.’

‘Nothing which Alys couldn’t put right with a wave of her wand,’ added Sparky.

George held up a big blue paw. ‘I have a gift for you. It should be arriving about now.’

There was a gentle thud on the doormat accompanied by a cloud of dust. The retired cauldron sneezed, clearing the dust to reveal a tray containing six silver seedlings in little green pots.

‘Dragon Snaps,’ George explained. ‘Pop them out in your garden. They’ll be ready to harvest in ninety-nine minutes. I’ll call you back then, toodle-pip!’ The screen went blank.

‘Come on, Alys,’ excited steam issued from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Let’s plant them.’

Soon the little Dragon Snaps were sitting comfortably in the soil. ‘All we need to do now is wait,’ said Alys. ‘What shall we do?’

‘We could make a cake.’ Sparky flew over to the table and brought back the recipe he’d been reading. ‘Looks good, doesn’t it?’

Alys grinned. ‘Let’s do it!’

‘Without magic?’

‘Of course,’ replied Alys. ‘I can cook conventionally.’

Sparky raised a purple eyebrow but said nothing.

The time flew by as they measured and mixed and finally popped the cake in the oven. Sparky glanced out of the window. ‘Look!’ he pointed with a chocolate-covered paw.

The silver seedlings had grown into tiny trees. Hanging from their branches were dozens of strange-looking objects.

Just then the Magical Messaging Machine pinged. It vibrated agitatedly on the table until Alys picked it up. George’s face appeared. ‘Are they ripe yet?’

Sparky took off through the kitchen door and returned clutching a rectangular-shaped pod. ‘Go on, open it,’ said George excitedly.

Alys took the pod and carefully split it open. Inside was a playing card with a picture of a dragon on the front and some numbers and symbols beneath it. Alys turned the card over. The words Dragon Snap Collectibles™ shimmered in silver.

‘There are lots of different dragons to collect and it’s a game too!’ George grinned toothily.

‘Awesome!’ said Sparky through a shower of excited silvery sparks. ‘How many cards are there, George?’

‘It’s impossible to say. They just grow…’ George paused, noticing Alys’s expression. ‘They’re perfectly legitimate. I have a wizard contact who cultivates them in Seattle. He’s given me a license to import the seeds. All I need is somewhere to grow them. There’s no garden here at the Dragon’s Home.’

‘Collectible cards that grow on trees, Alys,’ said Sparky. ‘You were talking about growing the business, weren’t you?’

Alys grinned. ‘Why not, we’ve nothing to lose. They might attract a new set of customers.’ Sniffing the air, she whirled around and snatched open the oven door. Alys sighed and picked up her wand.

George continued. ‘I can supply you with the seedlings, you can to the rest…’

‘…and we can split the profits!’ Excited amber smoke issued from Sparky’s snout.

‘That looks tempting,’ said George, eyeing the cake with its glistening chocolate frosting from the screen. ‘You’re obviously a very accomplished cook.

Alys smiled at the compliment. ‘I’ll send you a piece, George.’

Sparky glanced at George’s beaming face and winked at Alys. ‘He may not be my uncle, but he can be our business partner, can’t he?’



Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite

Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #45

The challenge this week was partner. Photo credit: clipart-library.com
Sparky apologises for busting the word limit but he didn’t want to leave out the cake

A small cute purple dragon
Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here

An Alpine Adventure

cartoon picture of an edelweiss flower

Alys unpacked her latest doormat delivery from Acme’s Ingredients for Witches. It was a bumper order as she’d used the voucher she’d been given as a reward for capturing the bogus Dragon Inspector.

‘One item’s missing,’ said Sparky, consulting the delivery note. ‘Distillation of Edelweiss is out of stock.’

‘That’s the ingredient I was particularly waiting for. I need it for my Special Skin Cream for the More Mature Witch.’ Alys frowned. ‘Does it say when they’ll be getting more stock?’

The diminutive dragon shook his head. ‘Isn’t there anywhere else you can get it from?’

Alys shrugged. ‘It’s imported from Switzerland. Edelweiss grows in the Alps there.’

‘We could try contacting the manufacturers,’ suggested Sparky.

Alys took a dark blue bottle from the shelf and examined the flower-shaped label. There’s a doormat address here. I suppose I could try sending them a note.’

‘Or we could visit,’ said Sparky through an excited puff of purple smoke.

‘That would be an adventure! We’ve never been abroad.’

‘We went to Scotland for the Dragon-Flame Games last year,’ Sparky reminded her.

‘That’s not abroad.’

‘Well, it was foreign,’ retorted Sparky. ‘If it hadn’t been for the Babel-Fish Charm we’d have never understood what anyone was saying!’ He flew across the room and hovered by the door. ‘Shall we go then?’

Alys hesitated for a moment then, snatching up her wand, she joined him on the doormat.

cartoon picture of an edelweiss flower

They found themselves looking up at huge flower-shaped emblem which hung over the front doors of a large building. All around them were green fields carpeted in alpine flowers with snow-capped mountains beyond.

The doors opened to reveal a short, white-bearded man wearing a red hat, whose appearance reminded Alys of a garden gnome. ‘Welcome to Edelweiss Paradise,’ said the little man grandly. ‘My name is Otto.’

‘We came to buy some of your Distillation of Edelweiss,’ said Alys brightly.

Otto smiled, but then his face fell and his shoulders sagged.

‘What’s wrong?’ asked Alys, while Sparky, who was perching on her shoulder, snorted out a concerned stream of violet smoke.

Otto stared at the diminutive dragon. ‘Please. Come inside.’

They followed Otto into the building. The walls were lined with a series of copper vessels connected by a maze of pipes leading up from a central smoke-stained pit. Further along was a bottling area, with a line of the familiar dark blue bottles standing on a long table.

The factory, however, was silent.

‘What happened?’ asked Alys.

Otto walked over to the fire pit. ‘The Eternal Flame which has fired our production for two hundred years has gone out. We’ve tried everything to rekindle it, but…’ Otto shook his head sadly. ‘Our village is desperate. We sold the last of our stock a month ago and this is our livelihood.’

Sparky sprang up and hovered over the pit, tiny flames issuing from his snout. He landed on the edge and looked up at Alys.

The young witch nodded and took out her wand. ‘Initio incendio!’ Alys commanded.

Sparky took a deep breath and blew a great golden gout of flames at the centre of the pit.

Nothing happened.

‘Again, Sparky!’

A blaze of bright blue flames poured forth from the tiny dragon’s mouth. Alys enunciated her incantation again. The flames glowed white-hot and with a whoosh the pit was ablaze. Alys and Sparky withdrew as the flames shot up towards the roof, then died down to a steady, healthy crackle.

‘You did it!’ Otto exclaimed. The factory doors flew open and a group of small gnome-like people flooded in, all whooping and cheering.

cartoon picture of an edelweiss flower

The retired cauldron quivered with pleasure as Alys draped a fresh garland of fragrant alpine blooms around her rim.

‘Maybe we should travel to foreign parts more often,’ called out Sparky as he flew over to admire the flower-shaped Medal of Honour which stood proudly on their bookshelf.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #44

The challenge this week was foreign. Photo credit: 4570book.info

A small cute purple dragon
Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here

Agatha of Agador is missing!

A cartoon image of a purple cosmetic jar with a stopper in the top

Alys was admiring the flowers which Agatha of Agador had sent to thank her for sorting out the shoddy builders who’d made such a mess in her house. The flowers were still as fresh as when they’d arrived several weeks ago. The young witch was wondering why Agatha hadn’t come for her monthly cosmetic order when the Retired Cauldron burst into a fit of coughing.

Alys hurried over. The Retired Cauldron spluttered and coughed up a crumpled note. Sparky flew across the room and scooped up the note, handing it to Alys.

The diminutive dragon perched on her shoulder as she read: ‘Agatha of Agador has vanished. Please come quickly!

The note turned itself over revealing Agatha’s doormat address.

‘Why ask us?’ asked Alys.

An excited puff of steam issued from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Only one way to find out.’

Giving the Retired Cauldron a farewell pat, Alys stepped onto the doormat and announced the address.

A cartoon image of a purple cosmetic jar with a stopper in the top

‘Hello? Anyone here?’ called Alys hopefully. But there was no reply.

The room was dominated by an expensive cauldron standing between a huge book case and a large wooden table. Assorted ingredients were strewn over the tabletop where a golden ladle had spilled its contents across a well-thumbed spell-book.

Alys peered into the still-warm cauldron while Sparky hovered over the mess on the table craning his neck to read what Agatha, presumably, had been working on.

‘Look at this, Alys.’

Alys read the title: ‘Vanishe Away: for Prettie Youthefull Hands’. Alys frowned. ‘Why didn’t Agatha come to me? I could have easily made something like this.’ She shook her head. ‘I wonder what happened.’

‘Maybe she overdid the vanishing bit,’ suggested Sparky.

‘But she’s such an experienced spell-mistress.’

At that moment the curtain over the doorway to the next room started to flap wildly.

‘Is that you, Agnes?’ Alys called out.

The curtain flapped again.

Alys and Sparky exchanged glances. ‘What happened, Agnes?’

The curtain stopped moving.

‘Agnes?’

The curtain dangled unresponsively.

‘I’m sure that was her, Sparky.’

Sparky blew out a little cloud of purple smoke in agreement.

‘But what can we do?’

‘Undo the spell?’

‘But Sparky, undoing another witch’s spell…’ Alys shook her head. ‘I wouldn’t know where to start.’

‘You could ask one of the Sisters…’

The curtain flapped violently.

Alys shook her head. ‘No, we have to find a way. Maybe that’s why Agnes asked us. She’d be mortified if other members of the Western Coven found out that she’d vanished herself.

The curtain nodded in agreement.

‘Okay. Let’s think.’

‘Could we go back in time and stop her?’ asked Sparky.

Alys frowned.

‘Hermione used a time-turner in one of the Harry Potter books.’

‘Sparky, that’s fiction. It’s not real.’

‘There are real things in the Harry Potter books… like dragons,’ replied the diminutive dragon through a shower of indignant sparks.

‘Okay, Sparky.’

He flew up to the bookshelf and began examining the titles, while Alys fingered the sticky spell-book.

Tucked away on the top shelf, Sparky found what he was looking for. He tugged at the leather-bound volume with his claws. It teetered on the edge of the shelf before Alys came to the rescue.

Tweeking Time, a beginners guide,’ read the title.

Together they pored over the contents page. Spotting a promising description, Sparky turned to page 288. They read in silence for a moment. Alys started to nod. ‘Sounds like a plan, Sparky.’

A cartoon image of a purple cosmetic jar with a stopper in the top

Alys looked up from the flowers she’d been admiring to see Agnes of Agador standing on her doormat smiling at her.

‘Alys, darling, thank you for the wonderful cream. It works like a dream!’ She admired her hands. ‘You know I almost cooked up a hand lotion from my old spell book. I know you’re busy and I didn’t want to trouble you, but then before I could start your little pot arrived…’

Alys looked over her shoulder at Sparky and winked.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #43

The challenge this week was plan. Photo credit: clipart-library.com

A small cute purple dragon
Click here for more Alys and Sparky stories

 

Cowboys, Beware!

jug of lemonade and two glasses

Alys waved her wand with a flourish. ‘Ceiling reparo!’

Sparky, her diminutive dragon, looked up as several stray flakes of plaster dislodged themselves.

Alys waved her wand again. ‘Plaster mendaro!’

The cracks in the ceiling made by the bogus dragon inspector stubbornly remained.

Alys lowered her wand. ‘I don’t know, Sparky. I’m no good at these DIY spells.’

‘Maybe we should call someone.’ He flew over to the bookshelf and pulled out a thin volume with a bright yellow cover. Sparky started leafing through the flimsy pages.

They were interrupted by a loud thud on the doormat heralding the arrival of two stocky little men wearing blue overalls. One held a large bucket and the other carried a ladder. ‘You called, Miss?’ they said in unison.

Alys turned to Sparky. ‘Did we?’

Sparky shook his head.

‘Aha,’ the two little men pointed at the ceiling. ‘We see your problem, Miss.’

‘Can you repair it?’ asked Alys hopefully.

‘Of course.’ Fred rubbed his hands together. ‘We’ll have this done in a jiffy.’

Alys returned to the kitchen where a hair preparation ‘for constantly flowing locks’ was gently simmering in her cauldron. Sparky followed carrying his new copy of Dragon Detectives’ Monthly which had arrived by doormat that morning. He’d only just settled down to read when a loud hiss of crimson steam issued from his nostrils.

BEWARE THESE COWBOY CONTRACTORS!’ the heading screamed. Sparky hastily silenced the article with a swift pat of his paw.

‘What is it, Sparky?’

Sparky put a purple claw to his mouth. He beckoned to Alys and pointed at the photograph. The faces of the two stocky workman stared out from the article. ‘Wanted in two counties for preying on the unwary, these practitioners of make and mend have been wreaking mischief and mayhem on unsuspecting clients’ homes. They extort money on the promise of rectification and then disappear without completing the work. Their most recent victim was Agatha of Agador…’

Alys looked up. Agatha was one of her best clients. ‘Poor Agatha!’ she exclaimed.

Alys ladled a couple of spoonsful of the preparation from her cauldron into a glass jug and muttered an incantation. The mixture fizzed and bubbled, then slowly cleared to a pleasant lemony colour.

She poured it into two glasses, winking at Sparky. ‘Refreshments, gentlemen,’ she called out cheerfully, carrying the glasses into the next room and putting them on the table.

The two men seized the glasses and drank. ‘That really hits the spot,’ said Bob.

‘Just as well,’ said Fred. ‘This job is trickier than we thought. We’ll need to come back tomorrow.’

Alys eyed the ceiling where there was now a gaping hole.

‘We need more materials,’ Fred rubbed his hands together, ‘and an advance on the payment.’

Sparky snatched up the Dragon Detective’s Weekly and flew across the room, dropping it on the table in front of the two men. A threatening shower of sparks spurted from his snout.

Fred put his hands on his hips. ‘So? D’you want the job finished or what?’

Bob nudged him. ‘Your hair, it’s… it’s green and it’s growing!’

Fred turned to him. His jaw dropped open. ‘So’s yours!’

Within seconds grisly green hair was pooling at their feet.

Alys glared at the two men. ‘Put my ceiling right and your hair will go back to normal.’ She twitched her wand and the hair began to curl and tighten around their bodies. ‘And finish all those other jobs,’ she pointed at the article.

‘That’s blackmail!’ Fred mumbled indistinctly through a forest of green beard.

‘Just do it,’ said Alys sweetly.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #42

The challenge this week was extort. Photo credit: dreamtime.com

A small cute purple dragon
Click here for more Alys and Sparky stories