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Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Alex Cavanaugh held his head. “Ow! Where am I?”

I said, “I can explain ….”

His eyes popped open. “It’s never good news when you hear those words.”

The ghost of Mark Twain chortled,
“Alex, old boy, you just set back and enjoy the ride.
Captain Clemens is at the wheel.”


The wheel in question was straight off a Mississippi riverboat.
Sadly, we weren’t on the Mississippi.
We were in the Shadowlands of outer space.

Alex started to spring out of his seat, but the safety harness stopped him. His eyes went wider as he took in his surroundings.
We were on the command deck of a space ship.
Or what Hollywood thought a space ship to look like in the 1930’s.

We were not alone.

Tied not too securely was Princess Aura from the 80’s FLASH GORDON movie.
She was muffling outrage through her gag.
Ming the Merciless was out cold in the seat beside her.

 A large teddy bear was busily half-doing the ropes on him.

The teddy bear was dressed like Mr. Spock.

“A Hoka!” gasped Alex. “An honest to Gordon R. Dickson Hoka!”

“Commander Spock,” squeaked the Hoka, whose race lived to imitate all that fascinated it.

Princess Aura spat out her gag, “You dare?”

Mark Twain beamed, “Why, ain’t you the feisty hellcat?
Don’t worry none about your daddy, Ming.
 I just needed his space boat here.”

“He is not my father, moron! I am having a tryst with Ming!”

Mark frowned, “I don’t see no pastries.”

“Tryst, imbecile! T-R-Y-S-T!!
We are having an affair!
That I am his daughter is only
a cover story!”

Mark Twain’s cigar dropped from his mouth.
“With that honey dew melon? 
Now, that is just sick.”

Aura was about to spew something forgettable
when the Hoka inserted the gag back into her snarling mouth
and waddled to his blinking console.

“What?” sputtered Alex. “Where? How? Why?”

Mark Twain cackled with pleasure, spinning the wheel, sending the poor Hoka tumbling as I answered in reverse order.

“While we were guzzling Romulan Ale at Meilori’s,
you mentioned you yearned
to go into space
in a real space ship.”

“This isn’t a real space ship!
This is the movie set of Ming the Merciless’s space ship.”

Mark Twain twirled the wheel again, sending the Hoka tumbling across the deck in the opposite direction.

“This is as real as it gets, Alex! This here is the Shadowlands
where everything thought of by Man
exists for deadly certain.”

I groaned,
“Would you stop spinning that blasted wheel? My head is killing me.”

“Son, I’m trying to keep those Klingons from doing that to all of us.”

“Klingons!” shrilled Alex, finally getting his harness undone.
He and I both looked, mouths ajar and eyes wide, at the view screen, showing the Klingon Bird of Prey preparing to blast us into tiny disbelieving bits.

The Hoka cocked its big head.
“Most odd. Rudolph’s nose is glowing, and it is not even Christmas.”

Alex picked up the Hoka,
shaking it while shrieking,
“That is not a nose, you little Furball!
That’s a plasma cannon!”

The teddy bear tilted its head. “Alex Cavanaugh, do I look in need of fluffing to you?”

Alex sputtered incoherently, dropping the Hoka.

The teddy bear muttered,
"You were more fun drunk."

Alex started for Mark Twain when the view screen changed to show a confused Klingon who growled at us.

“Your vessel … it is being propelled by a wire on top?”

Alex stopped in mid-step. “What?”

Mark chortled, “You keep asking that question, son.
That’s the way Hollywood got this danged thing to fly in the 30’s
so that’s how it flies now.”
“No matter,” grunted the Klingon. “You are invading Klingon space. Prepare to die!”

Alex shrilled, “Twain, do something!”

Mark turned to the Hoka, “Commander Spock, you have a plan?”

“He’s a teddy bear!” shrieked Alex. “What kind of plan could he have?”

“An excellent one,” smugly smiled the Hoka, flipping a few switches.
“I have taken control of their vessel.”

Alex danced in place. “Great! You’re turning off that cannon, right?”

The teddy bear frowned. “That would be rude.”

Alex’s eyes looked as if they were preparing to leap out of their sockets. “Rude? RUDE!? ”

The teddy bear sighed, “Really Alex Cavanaugh, your emotions will be the death of you.”

“That cannon’s going to be the death of me,
you fuzzball!”

“No,” smugly said the Hoka.
“Klingon Poop is the most devastating stench in the known galaxy. Observe as I re-route their sewage system
through their ventilating shafts.”

Streams of thick brown ooze flowed through the vents above the Klingon Captain.
Gagging wetly, he grabbed his throat, sinking to his knees
along with the rest of his crew.

“H-Have you no shame, no honor, human?”

Mark Twain smiled wide as he lit up a new cigar.
“No. That’s how I win, Turtle Brow.”

He turned to the Hoka.
“Mr. Spock, the Borg Sector, if you please.
I always fancied that Borg Queen to be a sexy little thing.”
“Nooooooo!,’ Alex and I wailed.

Alex began clicking his heels.
“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home!”

Buy your own copy of CASSAFIRE!
Want to read more of the Hoka (used copy for only a penny!)


  1. Alex sure gets around. Twain too. Love the Flash Gordon references, especially the early movie spaceships. . .

    Ming the Merciless, too. . .

  2. I think Alex will love it.
    Well done story.

  3. D.G.:
    I always loved how those early serial spaceships looked. Twain is a rascal and can't keep out of trouble!

    I hope Alex likes it. I'm so happy you did! :-)

  4. Rebecca:

    Alex is still not talking to me!

  5. Hilarious!
    And yes, he did need the stuffing shaken out of him.
    And while Aura looks enticing, since she's been with Ming I shall pass.
    For the record though, I don't shrill. Not very manly and all that.
    Well done, Roland!
    Now, about that string holding us up...?

  6. My computer screen is swirling--so many references...

  7. Alex:
    Ah, the shrill screaming must have been me then! :-)

    Like a reverse Star Trek intro, Aura looks like a siren where everyone has gone before!

    Yeah, we have to safeguard that string!! LOL.

    I'm glad you liked your adventure with the ghost of Mark Twain.

    That's the ghost of Mark Twain for you! He is certainly a rascal and a wanderer! Thanks for visiting!

  8. I can just visualize Alex strumming his guitar with a serene look on his face, while the others are screaming shrilly. Even as a captive Alex won't lose his cool ;)

  9. Love it! I could just see Mark Twain in this story. :) And the giant teddy bear as Spock...I may have nightmares!

  10. A landscape ripe for nightmares! I do want a teddy bear named Spock though. :)
    The Ninja Captain won't want this story to escape its confines!

  11. So funny! Love the teddy bear Spock. I think Alex would take controls and get the heck out of there!

  12. That's right, Rachna - Ninjas can't lose their cool!

  13. Rachna:
    What happens in Outer Space, stays in Outer Space! Besides Alex left his guitar at Meilori's! Glad you liked the story!!

    Mark Twain is indeed a rogue! And Hoka's (the race of giant teddy bears) are "to die for" cute -- especially when their play-acting drags you along with them -- ask Gordon R. Dickson!

    A landscape that hopefully held a few laughs, too. :-) Never drink Romulan Ale at Meilori's -- it even got Captain Kirk in trouble in THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY!

    If Alex hadn't had his hands around the teddy bear's throat, he would have! Really happy that you liked this sci-fi version of THE HANGOVER.

    Even Ninja Captains aren't at their best fighting a hangover from Romulan Ale. I was hardly Captain Kirk in this either!! The ghost of Mark Twain has had a couple of centuries of experience in dealing with the messes he gets into! I am very happy you like my drafting you into this adventure. :-)

  14. Lol - That was cute. I love the fact that Spock is dressed up like a teddy bear!

  15. M.J.:
    That's what happens when you drink too much Romulan Ale! Thanks for visiting and commenting! Roland

  16. THAT was funny. Good work, Roland. Feeling air sick there buddy??
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

  17. Funny! It was rude to stop their cannon, but not to unstop their sewage? Very funny.

  18. Tina:
    Only glad to be rid of Klingon and Borg space!

    What can I say? Teddy Bears think differently than the rest of us!

    The effigy of a knight in the attitude of prayer, ,at full length
    upon his tomb. Divinortory Meanings: Vigilance, retreat, solitude,
    hermit's repose, exile,"tomb and coffin. It is these last that
    have suggested the design. Reversed: Wise administration, circumspection,
    economy, avarice, precaution, testament.

  20. Alex- shrilling, dancing, fluffing teddy bears? I never imagined this side of you. Must be the effects of the shadowlands...

  21. LOL, this was hilarious. I didn't know Alex could shrill and shriek so well. And Alex, drunk? *snort* Too funny :)

  22. Loved this, Roland...

    Sorry I missed this yesterday, I could've used the laugh....

  23. That was really creative. I misread pastries and the story spun into something else for a moment. :-O No worries, it was soon back on track.

  24. Poor Alex! I still love that Spock Bear though.

  25. Jeremy:
    Alex certainly needed to use precaution when drinking Romulan Ale with Mark Twain!

    The Desert Rocks:
    I think Alex did like this. I know the ghost of Mark Twain certainly did! :-)

    Actually the results of sheer terror and too much Romulan Ale!

    Luckily, Alex has as big of a sense of humor as he does a heart!!

    I'm glad you got a laugh out of it today!!

    M Pax:
    Ouch! I think I know the word and the ghost of Mark Twain just blushed -- which is saying something!!

    L. Diane:
    Thanks. I still have my smoke singed Spock Bear from my house fire. He stands alert to run at the first sign of smoke!!