Round Robin Tale

Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story ~ Chapter Four

It’s becoming something of a tradition among one of my writing and blogging circles to hold a blogfest that takes the form of a Round Robin Tale. Basically each blogger contributes a progressive chapter to the story — it ends up a completely crazy mashup of styles and genres, but is loads of fun to participate in.

The current story has unfolded on the following blogs so far:

and the whole story will be housed on the blog of Laird Sapir — who inspired the activity and also created the fantastic graphic to represent the story. It’s my turn to contribute chapter four — but first I strongly encourage you to read the first three installments if you haven’t already.

SparkleSudz

LATHER: THE TWINKLE JACKSON STORY

Chapter four

After his initial shock faded, Twinkle gulped and stared at the hooded figure. Grass brushed the hem of her cloak and she cast a very real and somewhat slinky shadow; yet Twinkle knew she was connected with the Golden Goddess who had commandeered his television the previous evening.

He quaked at the thought of what the Golden Goddess wanted him to do.

The newcomer stepped closer, her hood falling back to reveal a cascade of ginger curls and a wide smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “Hi, Twinkle,” she said, thrusting out a hand adorned with a twisted gold ring.

Something tugged at his memory and Twinkle retreated a step, his gaze darting between her youthful face and the ring. His heart thudded as he tried to make sense of it. “I’m not coming with you,” he said.

A vibration in his back pocket signalled the receipt of a message – probably the one he’d been waiting for – but he didn’t dare retrieve it while his dad might be watching from inside the house. His dad would probably burn his favourite toy if he knew about the illicit smart phone.

“Sure you are,” the woman said, and began humming the tune to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Upon completion of the main melody, she looked at Twinkle expectantly.

He shook his mop of unruly hair. The woman was crazy… and he was just about to say so when his phone vibrated again. He clenched his fist. “Look, I have somewhere I need to be.” A revving in the distance sounded like Gary’s motorbike. Dammit. He was early.

“Yes. You do.” The woman’s smile collapsed into a frown. “I thought this had all been explained to you? Didn’t she say I’d be coming? My name is Jupernia.”

“Doesn’t mean I agreed to anything.” The revving grew louder and Twinkle threw a glance towards the bottom of the empty driveway.

Jupernia inhaled sharply as she detected the motorbike’s approach. “Look, we need to hurry. How can I persuade you?” She grabbed a fistful of his hair and tugged. “What about conditioner? You could have hair all glossy and shiny like mine… or like the Golden Goddess’s!”

Twinkle was unprepared for the yearning which overtook him at the word ‘conditioner’. He remembered his once shiny long golden locks and – just for a moment – he wavered. But if his musical plans came to fruition, he would have all the conditioner he wanted without ever having to use Sparkle Sudz Soap again. “No – conditioner is not enough,” he declared. “Not to do that.”

But in his moment of indecision, Jupernia clamped some sort of manacle around his wrist and started dragging him away from his dad’s house.

“Hey!” yelled Twinkle, pressing his fingers into her arm. But now that she was so close, the scent of her hair product was playing havoc with his conviction. “What kind of conditioner‽”

The revving filled the air now and belatedly Twinkle realised it was far too loud and of too deep a pitch to be Gary’s motorbike. A wind seemed to rush up out of nowhere and an immense shadow fell upon Twinkle and his would-be abductor.

“Shit!” mouthed Jupernia, the word grabbed by the wind or drowned out by the roar. Or both. Twinkle followed her gaze upwards to behold a flying… thing. The jagged edges of its disk-shaped hold, from which ten knobbly appendages protruded, blinked with lights. The appendages curved down to squash his dad’s vegetable patch as the vessel landed like a moon vehicle. “It’s one of Lobstink’s cursed crustaships!” Jupernia shouted. “Run!”

The crustaship engine cut and the world lapsed into silence. Then the haunting notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star filled the air.

A shudder ran through Twinkle’s body as, powerless to resist this particular tune played properly, he stood transfixed by the giant space crab. The music continued, sounding like a child at an electronic keyboard, and he hummed his favourite harmony.

“Don’t listen to it!” Jupernia screamed. She clapped her hands over Twinkle’s ears, but the music resounded through his bones and would not be quashed. She moaned. “How the hell did he know?”

As the music continued, a ramp lowered from the suspended body of the crustaship. Out swarmed an army of shrimp-creatures, who surrounded Twinkle and Jupernia with guns raised.

A moment later, the shrimp-creatures flung themselves prostrate to the ground as an immense metallic lobster-shaped figure creaked and jerked down the ramp. Long red eyestalks protruded from behind a visor; the eyestalks swivelled towards Twinkle, twitched and refocused on Jupernia. “The boy looks perfect, councillor!” The booming voice silenced the music. “My Shrimperators told me it would be so. He’s exactly what I need to activate my most fiendish scheme ever!”

“M-my lord?” Jupernia stiffened and seemed ready to bolt. Her hand squeezed Twinkle’s wrist.

“Get up, oh, faceless minions!” he roared and the Shrimperators scrambled to their, er… feet. The lobster-monster’s puffy red claw beckoned. “Bring the boy to me.”

 ***

Want to know what happens next? Me too! We’ll all have to tune in to Richard M0nro‘s blog sometime in the next week or so.

Thanks for reading!