Wednesday, January 30, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On December 12, 2018, P. T. Wyant presented as her Wednesday Words prompt a torn curtain, a clock, and stationary.

I've had A Symposium in Space much on my mind of late, since my publisher just sent me Natasha Snow's beautiful concept art for the cover, yet the official cover isn't ready yet. This is why I've decided to do this letter from Phaedra to Sokrat in an old fashioned style in an old fashioned place. I've fished out one of the photos I myself have taken for this freebie story...

My dear Sokrat,

The antique stationary you got me is perfect for the cafe I’m in. Yes, I’m carrying around an old fashioned pile of paper, made from a tree on a world similar to those which once stretched their roots into Anicent Earth. 

I feel almost like I’ve been transported back in time, sitting here with this stationary as our foremothers must have long ago. I wonder if they once sat in such a historic cafe as the one which I’ve found on Aphrodite Prime. 

Yes, historic, not herstoric. This place hearkens back to a time of such words for all that it's part of the Intergalactic Empire. Yes, this is a world which Agathea has investments in, yet there’s a surprisingly amount of small businesses, ran by independent women, who’ve never felt the iron bootheel of a manager, reporting to a board of directors. 

This particular cafe is called Vesta’s Hearth. There’s a torn curtain of velvet, separating the front and the back. A battle of goddesses from long ago is depicted upon it, and not just goddesses. Athena steps on Ares’s back, while he lies prone in the dirt around the other warring deities. 

I marvel at how fleshy, pale, and small Athena looks. This is nothing like the larger than life images of her, grinning at Agathea’s Aphrodites, teeth flashing in defiance. 

Modern Athenas look very much like your Captain Alkibiadea. I hope you’re enjoying her company. Judging from your recent letter, you’ll be escaping from her soon. 

Speaking of your current passion, I wished to mention one more historic feature of this cafe. It’s part of a town square. Outside is an ancient clock tower. Yes, it’s an actual clock out of legend, with hands and numbers, letting out a loud, melodic bong upon the hour. When this happens, a fully armoured figure of Athena springs forth from the face with a shout, to make a circuit from one number to another. She’s pursued by a young girl wearing a loose shift, flowers in her long hair. The girl’s face is innocent, her lips are parted, yet her eyes are wide and hungry as she pursues to the Goddess of Wisdom. 

One imagines from her expression that she desires not only the Goddess’s love, but wisdom itself. Considering not only your turbulent relationship with Captain Alkibiadea, but your quest across the stars for knowledge, I couldn’t help but think of you, my dear Sokrat. 

I wish you well in that quest. I’ll never forget what you taught me in our brief time together, even though you’ll deny you ever have anything worth teaching. 

Be happy whenever you might wander next. May our paths cross again somewhere. 



Monday, January 28, 2019

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Cheesecurd

Quartz: So I understand you’re the mouse who would be king?

Cheesecurd: (pauses in nibbling on the seat he’s almost invisible in) Who else is going to do it since Mousetrick scampered off with his tail between his legs? Say, you got any cheese? Maybe gingerbread? All this gabbing is tiring. 

Quartz: You’ve only just started gabbing. 

Cheesecurd: Exactly. I’m not sure why you understand me. I don’t have that weird gift Madam Mousenip and Mousetrick have of understanding other animals, particularly humans. 

Quartz: Well, I’m a dwarf. I also have some, well, odd acquaintances. Maybe they’ve taught me a few tricks. (mutters) Even though it’s the first I’ve heard of it. 

Cheesecurd: (yawns) I’m tired. Is this interview over yet? Why am I doing it?

Quartz: You wanted to complain about Mousetrick, right? The main character in your story, Seven Tricks.

Cheesecurd: Don’t know what Madam Mousenip saw in him. Falling in love with one of those human giants or was it one of their toys? Whatever. It didn’t get me or any other mouse any extra food. 

Quartz: Didn’t it? I thought this human of Mousetrick’s gave him cheese.

Cheesecurd: Well, that greedy excuse of a prince didn’t share it with me. He also lured us into a trap baited with drugged gingerbread. Stupid Mousetrick. 

Quartz: Eh? Didn’t he try to convince you not to eat the gingerbread?

Cheesecurd: Too little effort, too late. I wouldn’t have gone near that gingerbread if Mousetrick hadn’t asked me to. 

Quartz: He took you somewhere with such dangerous sweets?

Cheesecurd: Told me and countless others of our kind that there were crumbs on the floor where he was going. Stupid Mousetrick.

Quartz: As opposed to you, eh?

Cheesecurd: Well, I don’t get all riled up over nutcrackers. Nor do get sleepy cats worked into a right frenzy.

Quartz: Oh, ho, he ticked off some cats?

Cheesecurd: Got their whiskers in a right twist. Those pusses hunted all over the floor and in every corner for days. All because of one of his stupid tricks. 

Quartz: That’s right, the seven tricks to become the mouse king. Care to offer any hints what your tricks might be? 

Cheesecurd: Huh?

Quartz: Well, you’ll have to come up with some, won’t you? In order to win the crown?

Cheescurd: Meh, life’s too short. I’m not doing them.

Quartz: Eh?

Cheesecurd: Mousetrick agreed to do them to impress Madam Mousenip. I’m not going to bother. 

Quartz: Don’t you have to bother if you want to rule? 

Cheesecurd: You see any other mouse that wants the throne? Did any mouse character besides Mousetrick, Madam Mousenip or myself even get a name? It’s going to be me.

Quartz: Is that so?

Cheesecurd: And once I’m the mouse king, there’ll be some changes around the warren. Plenty of food, shredded paper, and no more being clever to get them.

Quartz: How d’ye propose to get these things without being clever?

Cheesecurd: Eh, I’ll just make some other mouse worry about getting them. 

Quartz: (mutters) Sometimes I wonder if there’s a general decline of responsibility in those who seek power. All right, that’s it from Cheesecurd. Thank you for stopping by.

Cheesecurd: Zzz…(he’s gone to sleep on the shredded pillow of the virtual chair)

Quartz: I also wonder if there isn’t a reason some secondary characters remain secondary. (pinches himself) Never thought I’d say that.

Cheesecurd: Zzz…

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Paula's Prompt: Seven Tricks Freebie Story

On November 28, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a mouse, decorations, and an old woman.

This Seven Tricks freebie story was the result. This takes place afterwards...

The old woman lit each candle in a circle around the table. The gesture seemed reverential, religious, but it was just a gesture. Another decoration, a way of dressing up her melancholy thoughts in a way that comforted her. 

“May I join you?”

The tiny voice might have sounded like a series of squeaks to another, but the old woman wasn’t just anybody. 

“Madam Mousenip.” She nodded her head at the tiny figure standing on her hind legs, sniffing at the air. “Come to gloat over your handiwork? Or perhaps I should say your paw work?”

She gestured to her own wrinkled face, marked with age and sorrow.

“Oh, come now, Prissipat. My spells never worked. It was your own self loathing which led you to believe my bite turned your face ugly.” The Mouse Queen waved her bald tail in a fetching manner. “I always thought your face was lovely, before and after I laid a tooth into you.”

“Lovely?” The old woman ran a hand down her face. “Everyone believed your bite cursed. I was forced to leave my home because everyone was afraid of me. I haven’t dared to look into a mirror since that day.”

“Maybe you should have. You never looked any different to me.” Madam Mousenip’s whisker’s drooped. “I never had the power my prince had.”

“What are you squeaking about?” The old woman glared at the deceptively helpless creature. “What have you done this time?”

“Nothing. Well, it was a nothing serious enough to drive my prince away.” The queen’s whiskers dropped further. “Have some pity, Prissipat.” Her tail went limp as well. “Your descendants have hunted my people ever since I bit you. I’ve been exiled, doomed to skulk in the walls of your castle, while a granddaughter with your name and twice as unpleasant with too many cats is destined the rule after her father.”

“Good.” In truth, Prissipat did feel pity. A tiny bit. Perhaps it was lonelieness or curiosity. Her nephew, the king never visited. She hadn’t even realized he’d named his daughter after her. “What’s this about driving your prince away?”

“Ah, well, I found what I thought was the perfect successor. Only he fell in love and ran away with the object of his desire.” The queen sighed. “Now I’ve got to choose another prince among a bunch of greedy gingerbread gobblers.”

“Such is the weight of the crown. Those destined to wear it are seldom worthy of it.” Prissipat glanced down at the flickering flame of one of the candles. “We can hope they will change into someone whose head will fit the golden round.”

“We can hope.” Madam Mousenip sighed. ‘’Tis a time of hope, yet all I feel is tired. Tired and lonely.”

“Take a moment to warm yourself by the flame of my candles.” Prissipat surprised herself with her own words ‘’Tis a new year. Let go of your regrets. Think of what you wish to do next.” She smiled a little. “Life is too short for such things. Especially for a mouse.”

“You’re right.” The Mouse Queen crept up to the candle and reached out her paws to the tiny flame. “I do hope Mousenip will be happy, even though the warren is a lonelier place without him.” 

“That’s a good attitude to have this new year.” Prissipat nodded her head. “Hold onto it with both paws.”

Madam Mousenip nodded, the flame reflected on the liquid beadiness of her eyes. 

It almost looked like she was crying. It might have been a trick of light. Many said that a mouse couldn’t cry. 

Prissipat wasn’t sure about that. Still she pretended not to notice. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Paula's Prompts: Memories in a Pot

On December 5, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a pot of soup, a holiday, and a battle.

This poem was the result...

Warmth and the faint scent of home
Drift from the pot
All the more appetizing after the chilling cold
Shivering on the line before battle

The taste brings back memories of hearth and home
Softness left behind during days of peace
I can almost picture the wreath and holly
Decorations our parents put up to celebrate the holiday

Memories are conjured up by that pot
Simmering within the stew
I’d come running inside to its savory scene
A celebration of life
Of families gathered around the table

I remember when I used to celebrate death
In all innocence, probing your weaknesses with a stick
We grinned at each other in cheery bloodlust
Delighting in our wooden substitutes for swords

How we tested each other
Childish foes, challenging weakness
A violent game to diffuse the giggles within us
The end of the battle was always laughter

Do you still laugh now?
I catch a glimpse of you
A cold-eyed war goddess in a miliary uniform
Scanning your enemy with your binoculars
Are you looking for me?
Or have you already spotted me
As I’ve spotted you?

Do you remember how we used to smile slyly at each other
A pair of annoying girls with knowing smirks
You whispered that only you’d get to kill me
I offered a breathless promise to kill you first

Did we ever think it would come to this?
You leading one army
I, lost in the ranks on the opposite side
Did you mean it when you promised me to death?
Or was it a way of pledging something more dear?

I never laugh when I pull the trigger
Taking aim at the enemy
Killing your soliders, one by one
Watching the life fade from their eyes
They’re the same as me
They’ve promised to die for you
Where’s the savage, childish glee?
We once had, when it was only play? 

The chill of the front is seeping into my bones
Numbing me, turning me into something less than human
Yet sometimes when when we heat a pot of soup
The scent tickles my nostrils, stirring my memory
Bringing back memories of home

Do you smell me as I smell you?
Whiffs of home, captured in a pot
Stirring up recollections of happier times
Or have you risen far above such simple thoughts?
Trapped within an officer’s uniform
A cause which killed the girl I used to love
Leaving an enemy standing in her place. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Paula's Prompts: Stefan's Warning

On November 7, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Word prompt:There is too much light in the world.

That line became the jumping off point for this Tale of the Navel: The Shadow Forest, a warning from Stefan Ashelocke, Duessa's First Marriage Feast and once her mentor. He sometimes whispers to Damian, acting a mentor to him as well.

There is too much light in the world.

Perhaps it was my mother who said this. I cannot remember. 

Over the years, I’ve come to agree with this statement more and more. 

The light burns. It exposes our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities to judgmental eyes. It destroys us with its judgment. 

By summoning the light, a mage attracts its attention. Creatures of light cannot let their summoners be. They crave worship, prostration, admissions that none are worthy of them. 

If a mage isn’t awed by their brilliance, willing to devote themselves to the light, the light will reject them. It will send its clerics and other agents to hunt the mage down. 

I wasn’t about the visualize the light, to call it to me, oh, no. I concentrated on the shadows instead. I looked for a patch of darkness in the forest. I imagine it spreading, allowing it to grow. 

The shadow spread across the leafy floor, reaching its dark fingers towards me. 

I was warned of the peril in this. One of my oldest friends feared the shadows I spread would consume me. 

I cannot dispute this. Especially when they did. 

Better to be consumed by a dark hunger than the burning rejection of the light, breathed upon us by its dragon, the icy spike of its brilliance driven into our breasts by the unicorn, unable to abide our impurity. I’ve seen the Followers of the Light turn on its own practioners, accusing them of being witches, heretics, a thousand angry names which mean one thing. 

You dared to play with the light. You aren’t worthy of its touch. No one is worthy of the light, for it shines deep into the flaws of every person, exposing them, revealing their ugliness. It’s only a matter of light before it summons a champion to strike down the unworthy vessel, removing it from the ranks. 

All the while, the light lies with its warmth, its kisses, its illumination.

Damian, my child, don’t let yourself be deceived by its glow. Whenever you summon the light, shape it with your hands, you give it an opportunity to burn and betray you. 

It shall do both to you before the end. It cannot help itself. It’s in his nature. 

I just hope you heed this warning, my child, before it’s too late. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Paula's Prompt: The Man in Red

On November 21, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a grandfather, smoke rings, and a puzzle.

This poem was the result...

She wished he was her grandfather
Blowing smoke rings from his pipe
Such an unhealthy habit
Showing the innocence of a previous age
He’s an enigma wrapped up a furry red suit
Hiding his intentions under a floppy crimson hat
Puzzling out everyone else’s intentions in his slow way
She intends to figure him out
There’s more behind that mask of vulnerability
Wisdom in his wrinkled lines and smiling face
Yet it’s hard not to simply smile at his jovial mask
Letting out one final, hearty chuckle
Before he disappears into the winter night
Not to return for yet another year
She’s not sure where he goes to
Whether he’ll truly be with elves and reindeer
Living in his winter wonderland
While for her, the seasons change
Yet she keeps the echo of his laughter in her heart
A symbol of the family she dreamed of having
Along with all the other illusions she no longer believes in
Yet cannot bring herself to cast away.