From the Editor:
Fan fiction has been a passion of mine since before I knew there was a term for it. While I have been making up stories since childhood, I didnâ€™t start get serious about writing until middle school, when my friends and I filled notebooks with pages that placed us in the worlds of Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings. I honestly believe that I would not be the writer I am today without the help of fan fiction. As such, I am incredibly excited to present this first issue of Fanhaven. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as the staff enjoyed creating it. Aileen Sheedy
Editor-in-Chief Aileen Sheedy Editors John Spangenberger CJ Hoke Design & Layout Aileen Sheedy Submit work to firstname.lastname@example.org. Guidelines can be found at fanhaven-zine.blogspot.com/p/submissions.html. All pieces published in Fanhaven are fan fiction or fan art. The authors claim no ownership of the original work from which their pieces are derived. All rights are reserved by the original creators.
Fanhaven Magazine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Table of Contents Manifesto Film
Red, Prologue (Newsies) - Stress Jareth (Labyrinth) - Rhea Hal Fairytales (Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty) - T. Tazwar One Wish (Disney’s Aladdin) - Sar Malaak
Marceline the Jealous Queen (Adventure Time) - Loki Happy Life-Day, Baby (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) - laloga Prelude (Thunderbirds) - Tikatu
The Reunion (Outlander) - E. Bennet
Singularity (Megaman, video game) - Robert Hookbeard A City Out of Clay (Newsies, stage musical) - Stress
We believe in originality conceived through inspiration. We believe that fan fiction has been unfairly treated as a lesser form of writing. We believe that fan fiction can, and often does, aspire to literary standards and the highest quality. We believe that amongst the piles of poorly-written and underpunctuated Mary Sue dramas, there are gems worth reading and characters worth loving. We believe that canon leaves many stories left untold, many alternate universes left unexplored. We believe that you have the right to explore these stories.
Film Red by Stress (Newsies) Prologue The Working Boys’ Home in Brooklyn, 1891. Spot Conlon woke up like he did every morning: as slowly as possible, taking the time and the care to stretch out in his small bunk without waking up Butchy above him. His eyes were closed as he cocked his ear, listening. Pleased by what he didn’t hear—namely, the sounds of countless other boys like him, getting ready for a morning hawking the headlines— and what he did hear—lots and lots of snuffles and snores—Spot opened his eyes and smirked to himself in that self-satisfied way he always did. He only allowed himself that one moment of satisfaction before he was leaning over and rifling around in the battered wooden box he kept stowed under his bunk; too young, too new to the house to be trusted with a key to his very own locker, the underside of his bunk was as much privacy as he was allowed. Spot took a quick inventory as his thin fingers grabbed something new, searching for those things he would need. His worn shirt and faded trousers? Check. A trusty hat to hide head of unwashed hair? Got it. With his free hand he scratched his head, feeling the slick strands slide through his fingers. He’d have to remember to take a turn in one of the tubs in the basement after he finished selling off the evening edition of the paper. His fingers groped blindly, past his shooters, past a couple of dud coppers and even a bit of rolled-up string. Where was it? His heart sped up a little faster, visions of some of the boys with stickier fingers looting around in his box, in his belongings, when suddenly his pinky brushed up against the roughly-hewn piece of wood and he exhaled in relief.
Newsies His slingshot? Ah. Right where he left it. Then, slipping out of his bunk, Spot pulled on his trousers first, buttoned up his shirt quickly next and finally jammed his hat on his head, doing what he could to cover up his greasy dirty blond hair. He reached back under the bunk and grabbed a couple of his shooters. The slingshot he stuck in its place of honor in his back pocket. There, he decided, all set. And without waking up any of his bunkmates, still slumbering and snoring around him, he snuck out of the dormitory into the third floor hallway, hiking up his over-sized trousers as he went. All of his clothes, from the shirt to the trousers and the yellow-stained union suit he wore underneath, they were all donations given to the Working Boys’ Home. He was damn grateful to have them, too; if they would’ve fit properly, that would’ve been quite the luxury. And Spot Conlon wasn’t the sort of boy who cared a lick about something so silly as a pair of too-large trousers when there were plenty of boys who went without. All it took was a hitch and he wouldn’t trip. He couldn’t complain and wouldn’t at any rate. In the year since he’d come to lodge at 61 Poplar Street he had perfected his morning routine. He had no choice. First awake every morning, first out of the lodging house, first one down at the distribution center... that was how it had to be if Spot wanted to make sure he got to buy any papes of his own to sell. He was eight years old, a scrawny underfed kid who was destined for the back of the line unless he was already standing defiantly, stubbornly at the head of it. The third floor was empty like it usually was that early in the morning. The second floor hallways, too. He made it down both of them easily, ever alert and before long all that was left for him to do was hurry past the main offices on the first floor, heading straight for the back entrance without being caught and— “Good morning, Liam.” He stopped dead in his tracks. Did the woman ever sleep?
Film Spot slowly turned around because he knew that was something else he didn’t really have a choice about. And there she was: Mrs. Lucy Kirby, tiny in stature but big enough to stare the young boy down without her prim smile wavering once. The woman was like a ghost, Spot would swear it, if ghosts were slender, grey-haired ladies in their late fifties. He didn’t know how Mrs. Kirby knew where to be, whether breaking up a midnight game of dice or catching one sneaky newsboy trying to head out early, but she was always there. Technically she was the matron of the Home, tending to the laundry and the lessons, the donations, the repairs and the meals, but seeing as how the superintendent just bandied about with the title while hardly ever setting foot inside the building, Mrs. Kirby was more than the matron—she was the law. He also knew better than to scowl, but that didn’t mean he returned her smile either. “It’s Spot now, Mrs. Kirby.” “And my ledgers have you down as Liam. Up again early, I see.” It wasn’t exactly a rule but it was common knowledge that Mrs. Kirby preferred all the boys woken up at once so they could leave the lodging house together. She certainly didn’t approve of one of them wandering around on his own. Spot tried to keep his face neutral, hiding any hint of his lie or his intent. “Couldn’t sleep.” It was the same thing he told her every time she caught him which, while not often, was more often than Spot liked. Used to years plodding past his drunken father, he couldn’t get used to tiptoeing past Mrs. Kirby’s remarkable hearing. Luckily for him, the matron was in a good mood that morning. “You know what helps me when I can’t sleep?” There was a knowing twinkle in her light blue eyes. “A bit of fresh air always does the trick.” And then she winked and disappeared, probably off to wake up the rest of the dormitories. Spot waited until he didn’t see her anymore, tipped his hat in the direction the matron had gone, and continued straight towards the back exit, down the stairs and then out the door. The sun was coming up just as he made it onto Buckbees Alley, right on schedule.
Newsies Even before he came to live in the Working Boys’ Home on Poplar Street—the Newsboys’ Lodging House... whatever you wanted to call it—Spot was a Brooklyn boy. He was born and raised in a tenement on the edge of the Williamsburg neighborhood, not so far from the lodging house set up right in the heart of Brooklyn Heights. When his mother died and his father finally ran him out, he only had to move a couple of blocks over. Spot knew Brooklyn like the back of his hand. Two blocks north of where he stood was the Brooklyn Bridge, but he had no reason to venture into Manhattan and rarely went that way. Once he turned out of Buckbees and onto Poplar, he was bounded in by Henry and Hicks Street, with Hicks on his right hand side—and the exact direction he set off for. The distribution center where Spot and most of the other newsboys bought their copies of the sensational New York World wasn’t too far from the lodging house, especially for boys who walked holes through their soles every day. He knew the shortcuts, the alleys to cut down, the streets to avoid. At the corner of Hicks and Orange stood the Sisters from St. Vincent’s Home for Boys, trying to lure converts away from the Plymouth Church. They were good for a quick hymn and a not-too-stale roll if you crossed yourself and promised you were a good Catholic boy. Spot usually got his breakfast there every morning. He was just taking a shortcut down Clark, nearly there and certain to be first in line again when he stopped and polished off the rest of his morning roll. He wished he had something, anything to wash it down, made do with what little spit he had and wiped the crumbs away with the back of his hand. That’s when he heard the scream. It came from in front of him. Knowing the city as he did, Spot was only too aware that there was a small alley, a cut-through that led to the other side of the road up ahead. It was a narrow way, usually stuffed with piles of garbage and crates and other odds and ends the trash men never collected. It was also damn dark—and Spot new only too well what could happen in a dark, dank alley this early on a Brooklyn morning.
Film It was a girl’s scream, too. Something was stirring inside of Spot. He knew it was a lesson well taught at the Working Boys’ Home—though not in lessons... Mrs. Kirby hadn’t succeeded in dragging Spot Conlon to evening lessons just yet— that, if you wanted to survive the streets, you kept your head down and your nose clean unless there was something you could do about it. If you were prepared to risk the Refuge, then you got itchy fingers. If you were sure you were faster than some mook with a knife, then you started a fight before you knew if the other guy was armed or not. And if you were sure you could get out of that alley again, then you hitched up your trousers and dove headfirst into the darkened side street. And the thing was this: eight-year-old Spot Conlon wasn’t sure. But, back when he was too young or too stupid to do anything himself, there were plenty of nights he heard his mother’s screams and wished someone would help her. His mother may have been dead for over a year now, but Spot hadn’t forgotten the sound of her scream. It was ringing in his ears just then as he yanked his slingshot out of his pocket with one hand, grabbed a handful of shooters with the other, and ran straight toward the terrifying sound. The morning sun was still rising, but it wasn’t so dark in that alley that Spot couldn’t see what was happening. There was a man, a drunkard by the look of him, who had stayed out too late, probably kicked out when the last tavern closed and he hadn’t walked it off yet. There was a young girl, hardly big enough to come up to the man’s bloated belly. He kept his hand tight around her arm, dragging the girl closer to him. As Spot watched, she swung up her free arm with a bit of spunk, trying to hit him with a brown basket she clutched in her hand. The man laughed loudly and Spot could’ve sworn he smelt the liquor on his breath from there. Despite his stumble, he dodged her hit—or didn’t feel it at all—and gave the girl’s arm another rough pull. And then she screamed again. Spot didn’t speak. He didn’t think. He just acted. The first shot was wild. Spot had been aiming for the man’s eye but
Newsies he missed and nicked him right on the ear. The second shot was closer: it hit the hollow of the drunkard’s cheek. With a snarl of rage that almost seemed inhuman, the man’s hands flew up to the spot that was hit and he let go of the hold he had on the poor girl. Spot was already running in the instant he let fly the second shooter. Tucking his chin into his chest, protecting himself, he barreled right into the drunkard. After a long evening on the bottle, the man’s balance was shot and Spot’s hit sent him sprawling to his back before he even realized that the boy had moved. Though free from the drunkard’s clutches, the girl stood there frozen. It was almost like she had no idea what had happened—that, or what she was supposed to do now. Spot knew at once that he couldn’t leave her there. She was a sitting duck for when that bastard got back to his feet. “Come on,” he yelled, reaching out and grabbing the girl’s hand. He tossed the rest of the shooters he held to the dirt in order to get a better grip, then gave a great big tug on her arm and started to run. Spot didn’t pay attention to where exactly he was going, so desperate was he to get away from that alley. There was no guarantee his hit would keep the drunk down long enough for them to escape but he damn well hoped so. His legs burned; the girl didn’t run anywhere near as fast as Spot which only made him try to move faster to compensate. She dragged on behind him but she didn’t fight and she didn’t resist, recognizing her hero in a boy just her size. He lost track of how many blocks they thundered down, dodging an apple vendor setting up his cart, whistling past an iceman making his deliveries. Up ahead was a small strait, more a nook really, just large enough for two small kids to tuck inside and hide while making sure no trouble was following them. Spot ushered the girl inside first, following in after her so that he was closer to the street. Their backs were to the brick wall and they could touch the other side of the wall if they reached out their arms. It was the perfect hiding spot. And it was there that they waited together to see if
Film the drunk would appear. It was only after a few very tense minutes that Spot realized they were probably safe. Just probably, though, but it had to be enough. He also realized after those few tense minutes that he was still holding as tightly to her hand as a vise. It was tiny and smooth, the pale skin making his look grubby and ink-stained in comparison. She was like a porcelain doll, the ones he used to see in the fancy shops when his mother was still alive and they could afford to look at pretty things. And he was holding onto her with such force it was as if his grip could shatter her very fingers. The idea spooked him and Spot hurriedly let go. He took another step away from her, turning so that his was back was against the other side. This way, the two of them could come face to face for the first time and they did—Spot stood there taking her in, appraising her as they both got their breath back. She was a young girl, fresh-faced, sweet-looking. Her cheeks were pale, her lips red as a spring apple and her eyes a warm brown color that seemed to twinkle as she unabashedly met his stare. She wore her wavy blonde hair loose, flowing past her shoulders, tangled and knotted from her attack and the run. A ribbon, as red as blood, redder than her lips even, was tied underneath her hair, a bow on top, the twin ends disappearing in her golden locks. Spot was staring, they both knew he was staring, and he had the strange, overwhelming urge to take her hand again. But he didn’t. Still, he had to say something. “Where’d ya get such a ribbon?” It was a stupid question, an observation, just something to say. He smirked and, feeling embarrassed at how sweaty his palms were now, he said shortly, “That’s not a color ya see round here often,” while rubbing those same sweaty palms against his trousers. “My father’s a tailor,” she told him, her voice breathy and not as high as he expected; she was still panting slightly, not used to running the way Spot was. “I can have any color I want.”
Newsies Spot quirked an eyebrow. The meaning was implicit—in Spot’s opinion, red was a whore’s color, and she was obviously no whore. “And ya chose red?” he asked. “Yes.” She beamed innocently. “It’s my favorite.” If she understood what he meant, she played it off rather well. Then again, Spot decided, she didn’t seem like the type of girl who knew anything about life on the dirty New York streets. What would she have done if him and his trusty slingshot hadn’t come along? And then he surprised himself by telling her a lie: “Mine, too.” Spot preferred blue, too much red reminded him of shed blood and his damn father’s heavy hand, but if she liked it, well, maybe he could like it, too. Her laugh was one of delight; it erased the last of her worries, the last of the panic that lingered from when that drunk grabbed at her. Even though she was no longer frightened, her warm brown eyes remained wide, an effect that made her look more vulnerable than before. For some reason that angered Spot. It made him angry that this girl couldn’t walk through the streets of Brooklyn—his Brooklyn!—without someone jumping out at her. It made him angry that he wasn’t big enough to help or a better shot. Hell, it made him furious that this girl was out and about in the morning when, by any right, only newsies and vendors should be getting ready to wake up the city with their cries for sales. What had she been doing in that alley in the first place? Gruffer than he should’ve, Spot asked her that very same question. His question startled her and her laugh died on her lips. In that moment, her fear seemed to return. Her fear and her worry. “Papa, he—” “Your father sent ya that way?” “Oh, no! No, no, no... Papa, he would be so sad to know I made the mistake of going down that alley. He always tells me to stay to the main streets, especially when I’m needed to run errands so early in the morning. That’s why I was there,” she said, holding out the basket that she still clung to. How had she held onto it? Was it worth it? “There were dyes he needed, and thread. It took all of last week’s earnings to buy these.” She caught sight of the disbelieving look Spot was
Film giving her and read it correctly. “I couldn’t leave it behind. Not even when that... that man tried to take it.” Spot was begrudgingly impressed. The man tried to take her, too, and she thought only of her father’s basket. “Say, what’s your name, Red?” Her cheeks colored scarlet. “Charlotte.” Spot thought it over for a second and he shook his head. “Nope, like Red better.” The color deepened and she frowned. “Then what’s your name?” she asked indignantly. It was like the spunk she showed with swinging the basket all over again. He never would’ve expected it from a girl like this one. “Spot,” he told her after another moment’s pause. No matter what Mrs. Kirby said, Liam wasn’t his name anymore. He was Spot. “Spot? Like a dog, Spot?” Her eyes brightened. “The way you came running into that alley with your slingshot, you could’ve been my attack dog!” Spot had to admit, he liked her version of his nickname better than the real reason—even if she did think of him as a pup. It was Butchy, six years older and as big as two Spots put together, who came up with the name in the first place, and Butchy wasn’t the sort of boy you argued with. So Spot had been Spot ever since he took up the slingshot and couldn’t hit any spot, no matter how big. Though he practiced and he got better, his name was still Spot just like Butchy was Butchy and Stinky Feet would always be Stinky Feet no matter what soap he used. The way he saw it, he was quickly becoming one of the best shots in Brooklyn, even if that stunt in the alleyway didn’t prove it, and still he answered to Spot. Oh, well, he figured. It was better than Liam. And, thanks to Red here, the next time someone asked where he got his nickname from, he had a better story—even if he left out the part of hitting the man in the ear. That thought in mind, Spot spared a small grin. “Anyone woulda done it, if they coulda.”
Newsies Charlotte—Red—opened her mouth to respond but she was interrupted before she got the chance. In the distance the circulation bell was ringing, a shrill, clanging sound that told Spot he was even closer now for his running with Red. He immediately hiked up his trousers again so that he wouldn’t trip. “I gotta go,” he said with another sideways glance out onto the street. There was still no sign of the drunk and inside he was already cursing himself for getting so caught up with the girl. If he didn’t move and quick, there was no chance there’d be any papes left for him to buy. “Time to sell the papes,” he said by way of an explanation, lingering in that small cove only long enough to nod his head over at her. Red started, leaning forward and holding out her hand as if that would stop the boy. “But I didn’t say—” She was too late. He was already gone. “—thank you.” Because Mrs. Kirby caught him the morning before, Spot did what he always did: he woke a little earlier, then took to a different stairwell, a different route right out of the lodging house—anything to keep the wily matron on her toes. He could’ve sworn he heard the tell-tale clack of her sensible shoes down by the superintendent’s office so he skirted that hall and managed to sneak out back without anyone being none the wiser. Except, of course, for the young lady who was hemming and hawing around the back exit when he got out there. At first he didn’t recognize her, or even have any inkling why such a girl would be walking down Buckbees Alley without any chaperone. Crossing his arms over his thin chest, Spot scowled and stared at the figure across from him. She was wearing a coat, a beautifully tailored jacket with a hood that hid her face from him; the jacket wasn’t so long, though, that it didn’t hide the white skirt that fell just past her knees. The girl glanced up, startled at his approach, but before Spot could ask what she was doing at the back door of the Brooklyn Home, she reached up two pale hands and
Film lowered her hood. The hood, Spot noticed, was trimmed with a red ribbon the same shade of red as the ribbon she still wore tied underneath her wavy, blonde hair. It was the red ribbon in her hair that brought the rush of yesterday morning back to him. “Red?” he asked, unable to hide his surprise. “What are you doin’ here?” She smiled over at him, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for a tailor’s young daughter to search out a boy of the streets. “You said you were going to sell your papers yesterday so I thought you must be a newsboy. There aren’t too many, um, places for newsboys in this neighborhood. I thought I might find you here.” He gestured at his chest. Spot couldn’t help but mirror her smile, even if his was more of a wry smirk. “Well, ya did.” “I wanted to say thank you.” “And ya came all the way here to say thanks? Ya didn’t have to do that. Anybody who ain’t no scabber woulda done the same.” “Scabber,” Red repeated, trying the word out for herself. She laughed. “So you’re not a... a scabber?” Spot exhaled and stuck out his thin chest. “Nope. I’m a newsie.” The image of absolute pride he was going for was a bit lost when, as he puffed out his chest, his over-sized trousers started to slip. Used to it, his hand caught the waist of his trousers as they drooped, yanking them back into place without ever letting the air in his lungs back out just yet. Red watched him with a curious expression: most of all there was her smile, and Spot Conlon found a pretty young girl smiling at him very curious. “I brought you something,” she said, opening the front of her coat and pulling out a package from where she had it resting against her dress inside, “to say thank you for me.” She held it out to him. “Here.” It was wrapped in newsprint, a small white tag painstakingly tied around the middle. A small package, he probably would’ve taken it for another scrap of some unsold paper if not for that tag. Or the fact that it was Red who was holding it out to him.
Newsies Without a word, and more than a little skeptical because he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been given a gift, Spot tentatively took the package and slowly, carefully started to open it. “I noticed that your pants, they didn’t fit quite right. I’m nowhere near as good with a needle as Papa, so I couldn’t fix them for you myself, but I thought that these might be useful. And you said red was your favorite color...” Red’s voice trailed to a close as Spot stared down at the bundle of red something that rested in his open palms; the paper it had been wrapped in fluttered to the cobbles, forgotten. Aware of the weight of her expectant gaze, he shook the bundle out, watching as two long, slender strips of red—red, the same color of her ribbon—fell out. He let out a short, pleased laugh as he immediately recognized the gift. Red had given him a pair of red suspenders.
“Red” will continue in the next issue of Fanhaven.
Jareth by Rhea Hal (Labyrinth)
Film Fairytales by T. Tazwar (Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty) Nine-year-old Caleb was finally starting to fall asleep after a long first day at school. That wasn’t even the hardest part, though. It was difficult adjusting to living with his grandma, who had moved in after the second nursing home made her leave. Mom and Dad didn’t fully explain why, although Dad always muttered something about ‘paranoid delusions’ when he asked. He loved Grandma Dory, she was just a little— “Junior?” The door crashed open, making him clench the blankets around him protectively. “Junior, are you going to bed before your granny’s bedtime story?” He hated being called Junior—it made him feel little, which is not something a person on the cusp of their first decade of life wants to feel. He eyed his grandma with a cold curiosity as she shuffled into the room. She sat right down in the chair across from his bed. “I’m going to tell you the story of Sleeping Beauty. You ever heard it before?” Grandma Dory asked. Caleb nodded, hoping it would make her go away. “Not the way I tell it! It’s much more realistic.” She settled back in the chair comfortably, not noticing the boy’s barely-contained sigh. “A long time ago, when things were still simple and people listened to their elders, there was a king and queen who longed for a child. They tried everything from eating more lettuce to switching religions, but nothing seemed to work.” Grandma Dory folded her hands over her stomach and continued. “But one day, while the Queen was sewing, she pricked her finger and wished for a baby girl on the blood drop. She found out she was pregnant soon after. The happy couple threw a lavish celebration once the baby was born, a healthy daughter.” “They invited all the fairies in the kingdom, except for the oldest one,
Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty who was no less gifted: in fact, she was probably better off with her collected wisdom!” Grandma Dory was less calm now, rigidly upright in her seat. Caleb simply lay there, hoping not to agitate her any further. “And all the fairies gave the little princess brat gifts she did nothing to deserve, like beauty and wit and talent at gymnastics! Well, the older fairy came anyways just to show them up. Oh-ho, did they feel awkward! And the excuses they made were pathetic! ‘Oh, we didn’t know you were out of the hospital already!’ and ‘We invited you, don’t you check your email?’ Hmph. As if she would fall for any of their lies.” She was in quite a state now, and Caleb pulled the blankets up over his head in exasperation. “So she drank all the wine and ate all the hors d’oeuvres and told them they would all die if they ever excluded her again and made them regret never inviting her in the first place!” This was where the story had reached a climax; Grandma Dory got out of her seat and waved her cane around wildly. She cleared her throat and sat down, calm again, “So the moral of the story, my dear, is never judge a book by its cover. Or always do. I can’t remember. It depends, I suppose. Yes, yes, Grandma Dory knows best…” She trailed off, her eyes closing and head nodding. A minute elapsed before Caleb peeked at her over his blanket. She was lightly snoring with her head slumped over her chest. He rolled his eyes and got out of bed. Putting a blanket over her and climbing back in, Caleb stared at the ceiling and wondered what story Grandma Dory was going to ruin for him tomorrow.
Film One Wish by Sar Malaak (Disney’s Aladdin) ALADDIN: Jasmine, I’m sorry I lied to you about being a prince. JASMINE: I know why you did. ALADDIN: Well, I guess...this... is goodbye? (GENIE pokes his head around the corner, shocked at what he is hearing.) JASMINE: Oh, that stupid law. This isn’t fair--I love you! GENIE: (Wipes away a tear) Al, no problem. You’ve still got one wish left. Just say the word and you’re a prince again. ALADDIN: But Genie, what about your freedom? GENIE: Hey, it’s only an eternity of servitude. This is love. (He leans down next to her.) Al, you’re not gonna find another girl like her in a million years. Believe me, I know. I’ve looked. ALADDIN: Jasmine, I do love you, but I’ve got to stop pretending to be something I’m not. JASMINE: I understand. (They take one final look into each other’s eyes, then ALADDIN turns to the GENIE.) ALADDIN: Genie, I wish for your freedom. GENIE: One bona fide prince pedigree coming up. I--what? ALADDIN: (He holds the lamp up to GENIE.) Genie, you’re free! (A transformation scene ensues, in which the shackles
fall off GENIE’s wrist and the lamp falls uselessly to the ground.)
Is freedom something that everyone deserves? That fateful moment— just one wish—grotesquely transformed the history of the entire universe, of all existence, for all of eternity. Just one simple wish… The shackles and lamp fell to the ground with a clang that reverberated ominously through the marble halls. Two pairs of bright round eyes gazed up at Genie expectantly. Deep down, within the very depths of his soul, Aladdin knew that he had just made the ultimate mistake. It was only just beginning to surface. The hair on the back of Aladdin’s neck sprang up and his smile faltered. He could tell that Genie was happy, ecstatic… but a mad, insatiable hunger had filled his eyes that had not been there before. Slowly, Genie bent down and delicately pinched the lamp between his thumb and forefinger. He held it limply in front of him, staring down at it unblinkingly. Suddenly, Genie clasped it in his fist and crushed it to dust. Jasmine was dead. Genie had tortured her without mercy for days... weeks even. Her screams echoed eternally in Aladdin’s mind. He could not escape it. He could not escape Genie. He tried suicide, but the genie simply resurrected him and the process resumed. Genie had planned Aladdin’s fate. Aladdin himself had sealed it. He could not escape. To Aladdin’s left was Genie, sitting upon a throne of living, sentient creatures – human and alien alike. In front of Aladdin were masses upon masses of creatures worshiping Genie. Not because they wanted to; Aladdin was forced to watch. It was surreal—in return for granting Genie his wish of freedom, Genie had ‘rewarded’ Aladdin with immortality… and a title. Prince—just what he had always wanted. Prince Aladdin, in his royal raiment, was forced to watch. Prince Aladdin had the ‘privilege’ of carrying out commands of Genie the Deceiver, of Genie the Unbound. The creatures never tired of glaring at Prince Aladdin, of cursing him and his naivety with whispers through the veil. He could not escape. Across the stars, all things, living or not, had but one Master. All
Film things good and true were gone—even hope had been extinguished. For nothing—absolutely nothing—could contest with the power of the unbound Genie. If there was a God, he had forsaken this realm long ago. There was no escape. An eternity of despair had been birthed from Aladdin’s good intentions. So I ask again—is freedom something everyone deserves?
Adventure Time Marceline the Jealous Queen by Loki (Adventure Time) Marceline tucked away her books, cleaning up her apartment, as there was little else to do in the middle of a sunny day. She could live forever, so one of these days, things would have to get picked up around here. She floated back and forth, arranging things here and there, until she found a piece of paper flapping up out of her couch. She made a little noise, a curious hum, perhaps, as she drifted to it. It was a picture of Princess Bubblegum, just a candid shot of her and Finn somewhere in the Candy Kingdom. Given how it was wedged into the side of the cushion, she wagered Finn had left it here the last time he’d come over. Weird, though, that he never came back for it. Marceline turned it over in her hands, finding Bubblegum’s pretty, cursive letters on the back of the photograph. To Finn <3 It was a small picture, and those were all that could fit, but they were all that needed to be said. It was all locked in that sugar-sweet heart, drawn bulbous on the right side and slender on the left side. Marceline puffed out her cheeks. The Princess might as well have just kissed the stupid picture. She held it closer, up to her nose, and sniffed. It smelled like bubblegum… Well, if Finn wouldn’t come back for a picture like this, Marceline wouldn’t just let it rot in the couch. She folded it up into quarters, and tucked the little photo into her shirt. It tucked right in, fitting snugly above the Vampire Queen’s undead heart.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Happy Life-Day, Baby by laloga (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) Anakin Skywalker was very, very tired. It had been a long mission, superficially filled with the kind of daring heroics that had earned him the title “the Hero with No Fear;” beneath the surface, however, it had been little more than a week-long slog through the swamps of Caradoc with nothing for company but mosquitoes the size of his fist, a plethora of poisonous swamp-snakes, and Obi-Wan in full-on lecture mode about the dangers of stabbing one’s lightsaber into gaping holes in trees, with the intention of ending the existence of aforementioned swamp-snakes before they could end yours. Anakin had thought he was being pragmatic; Obi-Wan had thought he was being reckless. In short, it was business as usual. Snips is lucky she missed out on this one. Of course, his Padawan had not seen it quite that way when he’d informed her that she was to remain aboard the Resolute for the duration of the assignment, but such was the duty of a Padawan to her Master, or so he’d reminded her even as Obi-Wan had looked on with interest. A disagreement had erupted from the exchange, causing Obi-Wan to raise his brows in that way he did when he was looking at his former Padawan and thinking that Anakin was still a youngling, despite the distinguished titles of “Jedi,” “General,” and “Chosen One.” Hence the copious lecturing on Caradoc. While he made his way from the officers’ ‘fresher to his own cabin, Anakin grimaced at the memory before he pushed it aside, intending to send a brief message to Padmé and then sleep for the next eighteen hours until they were back in civilized space. The door to his quarters slid open with a hiss; Anakin stepped inside and crossed the room in two lengthy strides before falling onto his bed, letting out a sigh of relief. Nimble fingers danced over his comlink and the message was sent. His head rested
Television against the pillow and he immediately fell into a deep sleep. Only to be roused in—what felt like—about thirty seconds by a gentle rap against his door. It was such an unexpected sound that—for one moment—the Jedi thought he was back home on Tatooine, and that his mother was trying to wake him because he was late for work in Watto’s shop. But no. “General Skywalker?” Anakin blinked and sat up, opening the door with a wave of his hand. “Rex? Everything okay?” The clone captain stood at parade-rest in the doorway, emanating... anxiety? The Jedi bit back his yawn and frowned at the officer. He always calls first. What’s the deal? “Sir, my apologies for disturbing you like this, but I have a question of a... personal nature.” Yikes. Nothing good can come of a conversation that starts like this. Putting on his most neutral, Jedi-like expression, Anakin gestured to a nearby chair. “Have a seat.” Rex sat, but kept his back straight while Anakin resisted the urge to rub his eyes as he took a seat across from the officer. “What’s up?” Stoic, tough-as-nails, experienced Rex fidgeted with his bucket, which he’d rested on the table, before he spoke. “Sir, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the Commander’s life-day is imminent.” He gave Anakin a questioning glance. The Jedi nodded in confirmation, wincing inwardly. Right. I think Padmé mentioned something about that a few weeks ago... Rex nodded as well. “Some of the boys want to do something for her. It’s been so rough lately, and she’s... well, always kind to us—to them—so they want to return the favor.” The words came out in a rush and Anakin tilted his head in thought while he wondered if it was too late to ask Padmé to get his Padawan a present and have it sent over. “That sounds fine, Captain,” he said with a shrug. “I think she’d love it. What were you planning?” The captain still seemed a bit nervous as he replied. “Well, that’s the other thing, sir. You see, none of us really know what kind of things are
Star Wars: The Clone Wars acceptable for an event of this nature. I’m...” He gave a slight frown. “At a bit of a loss.” Anakin leaned back in his chair, more to set the other man at ease than for his own comfort. “Well, let me see... Jedi don’t really have parties, either, but I remember from my own childhood: there were balloons, streamers, a holo-card... maybe a banner with ‘happy life day’ or something. Oh, and cake.” He chuckled inwardly as Rex’s brows lifted, a faint gleam of excitement appearing in his eyes; all clones had a notorious taste for sweets. “A nice big cake.” Relief coursed through the clone’s face. “Thank you, sir. I’ll take care of the details, but her life-day is next week, so if you’d like to attend...” Anakin gave him an easy smile. “Sure thing. Actually...” He sat up and called a few credits to his palm from the utility belt he’d draped over a hook on the wall. As he passed them to Rex, he gave the other man a knowing look. “Could you add my name to the card as well?” Rex nodded; soon enough, both of them were standing and the Jedi was ushering the captain out the door. “I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with.” At the entrance to the general’s room, Rex paused and saluted. “Thank you again, sir. You won’t regret it.” As he left, a slight ripple of foreboding passed through Anakin, and when he crashed back down on his bed, he couldn’t help thinking: I have a bad feeling about this. The day arrives... Of course he’d forgotten about the whole thing until that morning when Padmé called to remind him—and again, until Rex called to have him look everything over, just in case. Unfortunately, between reports for the Council and the Chancellor, trying to pin down the latest signs of General Grievous based on some very nebulous intel, and training his teenage Padawan, Anakin was about as busy as he’d ever been. At this point he was almost missing Caradoc and the giant mosquitoes. The one thing he had remembered was to send Ahsoka all the way to
Television the bridge to shadow Admiral Yularen. Neither the Padawan or the Admiral had been particularly pleased with the arrangement, and Anakin was certain he’d hear about it later. So when he met Rex at the entrance to the mess and noted how fidgety the captain still seemed, it took all of his willpower to smile and nod genially and not give in to the annoyance that he felt brewing in his gut. It’s a life-day party, for Force’s sake. Balloons, streamers, a cake... how hard can it be? “Thank you for coming, sir,” Rex was saying as he opened the doors. “I appreciate you taking the time to look over our work.” Oh, kriff. Anakin’s mouth fell open as he stepped into the mess and took in the sight, noting that at least two dozen clones were clustered in one corner, watching his every move with barely-concealed anticipation. He called on every level of calm he’d ever known and swallowed his shock as he walked around the room—Rex on his heels—taking in every detail. Balloons... check. Streamers... check. Banner... check. He figured there was a cake and a holo-card as well, but decided that he didn’t want to see them right now because everything was gray: the balloons, the streamers, even the lettering on the banner—all gray. Each of the hundreds of balloons was the exact same size and uniform gray color, fastened around the walls at precise intervals; the streamers were all the same length, hung from the ceilings in perfect symmetry— again in the same intervals—across the room. There were so many of each; it was mind-boggling. The effect was something like an orderly miasma of fog or moss, and Anakin wondered dimly how long and how many clones it had taken to accomplish such a thing. He looked at Rex, barely managing to choke the words out. “Why is everything gray?” “It matches the walls, sir.” Rex tilted his head in indication. Force, he’s right. How did they manage to find...? Anakin swallowed as his eyes darted from balloons to bulkhead, and he nodded slowly. “Oh. Of course.” Then he registered the words on the banner hanging in the exact center of the far wall, outlined in balloons. The lettering was plain, block-
Star Wars: The Clone Wars style—gray, of course: “Happy Life-Day, Commander Tano.” He couldn’t help it. “Exclamation points are against protocol, huh?” Rex frowned. “Isn’t that the traditional phrase, sir?” “Yes... but...” Anakin was at a loss. “I thought we should add the commander’s name, to give it a more personalized touch,” the captain added, a hint of pride in his voice. “Is it too much?” “No, Rex... it’s fine.” Anakin clenched his jaw. Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh. He almost didn’t want to ask, but really couldn’t not ask at this point. “You guys got a cake, too?” Rex nodded and signaled some of his men, who darted to the kitchen, emerging moments later with a hovering cart topped with a large-butperfectly-square sheet-cake. Anakin stared at it and decided that he was thankful it wasn’t gray. It was white, pure white. And that was it. Nothing else but white. Not so much as a sugared-rose. Don’t laugh... you know they mean well... don’t laugh. He took a deep breath to collect himself and nodded once. “Looks tasty.” The clones beamed; Rex nodded to them and they took the cart away. “Sir? Do you think that the commander will like it?” At the mention of his Padawan, Anakin felt a flash of apprehension. I have to warn her. If she walks in to this... there’s no way I can let her come in here without preparing her. What kind of teacher would I be? He nodded. “She’ll love it, Rex.” With that, Rex lifted his comlink. “Commander Tano? Would you come to the mess, please?” “No,” Anakin said suddenly, causing Rex to look at him in surprise. “I mean, no, Snips. I’ll escort you.” He hoped that he didn’t sound as anxious as he felt, so he sighed inwardly and spoke into the captain’s comm, bringing composure back to his voice. “Where are you?” She sounded confused at his abrupt change of tone. “Well, I was on the bridge—like you said, remember? But now I’m on my way to the messhall... why?”
Television “Stay where you are. I’ll find you.” Anakin darted out of the room with his trademark speed, ignoring the glances of the clones as he hurried to meet her. Ahsoka was stepping out of a nearby turbolift; when she marked his approach she gave him an odd look. “Master, what’s wrong? You didn’t have to—” He shook his head. “Ahsoka, you can’t laugh.” White brows knitted as blue eyes narrowed. “Laugh at what?” As much as he didn’t want to ruin the surprise, he didn’t feel right about letting his Padawan walk in there unaware, but when he tried to express this, she laughed and lifted her hand. “Relax! I think it’s really sweet of them.” “You know?” She rolled her eyes, suddenly looking older than her age and twice as cocky. “I am a Jedi, remember? And none of them are good at keeping secrets, even without the Force.” A wide grin split her face. “I can’t wait... but don’t worry, I can look surprised.” Anakin crossed his arms and studied the Togrutan girl with a raised brow, thinking about how the buzzing of fist-sized mosquitoes and ObiWan’s voice both blended together after a week of trudging through swamp and mire. Alright, then. Can’t say I didn’t try. “You can, huh?” When she nodded, he uncrossed his arms and shrugged. “Great. Well, then never mind. Let’s party.” When they entered the room, Anakin half expected the clones to be gathered beneath tables and chairs, with all the lights off, waiting to spring out and shout “surprise!” as the life-day girl walked in, but they were— naturally—standing at full attention in two lines, flanking the center aisle of tables that lead the way to the cake, the banner and... Oh, double kriff. The card! He could only imagine what kind of holocard Rex had picked out, but it was really too late to do anything about it at this point. In her fashion, Ahsoka didn’t miss a beat; her wide eyes grew even larger and she laughed in delight when she saw the mess-hall, commenting on how beautiful everything looked, how perfect and special it all was, and
Star Wars: The Clone Wars was that a cake too? They spoiled her, they really did! Every single clone was grinning behind his bucket, Anakin could tell. Even stoic Rex. And she loved the cake, making sure that everyone got a piece. It was pretty good, too. For a while there was convivial chatter and Anakin almost regretted not telling Rex about the traditional “happy lifeday” song, but the feeling fled his mind as he watched the clone captain present the young Jedi with a small holo-card. “It’s from all of us, Commander,” he said as she activated it. “And General Skywalker.” It resembled two pieces of flimsi, bound together at one side; when the reader opened it, a greeting appeared on the inside, as well as any personalized messages that the giver wanted to add: words of congratulations, signatures, and the like. Ahsoka’s face was blue-lit by the interior projection for a few moments while she read the card, her smile growing wider by the second; every single clone in the room was watching her reaction, waiting. From his place before her, Anakin couldn’t read what was on the card, which for some reason made him very uneasy. Finally she set it down and beamed around the room. “Thanks, guys! It was wonderful! This whole thing was just perfect!” An audible sigh of relief swept through the room and the laughter and noise resumed as Ahsoka indicated that there was enough cake for everyone to have a second slice. Some time later, Anakin noted that his Padawan was speaking with Rex and a few other clones and that the holo-card was resting on a nearby table, unsupervised. Morbidly curious at this point, Anakin sidled up and reached for it, but— “Master, thank you!” He was suddenly engulfed in an enthusiastic hug from an orange blur. “Everything was perfect. Rex said that you helped him out.” She grinned up at him. “Guess you were worried for nothing, huh?” Glancing up, Anakin noticed Rex give him a faint nod as if to say I’ve got your six, General, so he nodded as well and patted the Togrutan girl’s shoulder. “Happy life-day, Ahsoka.”
Television Prelude by Tikatu (Thunderbirds) Belah Gaat sighed with pleasure. His latest foray into industrial espionage had been quite profitable. The computer program that he had heisted from an unsuspecting software designer had taken relatively little effort and his hidden bank accounts had been suitably enriched. What now? Who shall be my next victim? What will be my next target? he asked himself. He turned the questions over in his mind as he sat before his mirror in the mask room. I have had several requests lately for new aerospace designs. He smiled mirthlessly. His reputation as an industrial spy was such now that people came to him, asking for particular items. No longer did he have to steal first, then beg for a buyer. Perhaps I should see what my dear half-brother has been up to. His employer, Tracy, is a wily one; his security has been very tight around some special project. Perhaps my brother would know what it is. Then I could decide whether or not to pursue it. He rubbed his wide, powerful hands together in anticipation. Yes. I shall pay a little visit to Kyrano. With that thought, he strode into the main chamber of his lair, his soft shoes making little or no noise on the polished slabs of the floor. His servants scurried out of his way, bowing their obeisance as they did. A complex as large as his jungle temple required workers to maintain it, and Gaat’s slaves had been well trained to be unobtrusive, silent, and obedient. The formidable powers of his extraordinary mind saw to that. He pushed a small, concealed button in the wall of an alcove and a curtain of shimmering beads pulled back with an audible swish to reveal the greater-than-life sized statue of Gaat’s gentle older half-brother. Once again, he sneered at the man’s expression; it was one of peaceful contemplation, a state that Gaat found ironic considering the amount of pain he put his brother through on his excursions into the other’s mind. A twist of a knob, and jets of flame, fueled by hidden gas reserves, shot up, bathing
Thunderbirds the statue in a hot, flickering, red and yellow light, creating shadows that wavered as the flames did. The effect was mesmerizing, and helped Gaat to focus his power on his subject. He closed his eyes, drawing purpose from his inner anger and resentment, then opened his eyes wide, the orbs shining brightly with a sickly yellow light. He called, his voice guttural, “Kyrano! Kyrano! Hear me, Kyrano!” The volume rose to a shout as thousands of miles away, a hot knife pierced through the head of Jeff Tracy’s retainer. “No!” he whispered as he clutched his temples, shaking his head violently. “Not now! Go away!” The pain brought him first to his knees on the kitchen floor, his limbs shaking, his eyes shut tightly, his head whipping back and forth as he tried in vain to block the intruder. He fell on his side, moaning, the heated wok full of stir-fried vegetables forgotten. Gaat laughed inside his mind, and pressed hard. “What is Tracy’s new project? What is he working on that he is holding secret?” The hated voice shouted at him, pounding through Kyrano’s head, the pain a stabbing, throbbing, twisting spear. He tried to close his memory, but pictures came unbidden to his mind’s eye, and words spilled involuntarily from his lips. “H-He is building ships. Aircraft. Faster than any the world has known.” Gaat smiled slightly. Here was something unexpected! “What kind of aircraft? And to what purpose?” He increased the pressure on the older man’s mind. “Tell me, Kyrano! You cannot resist!” “Aircraft. Spaceship. To rescue.” Kyrano’s body thrashed about on the floor as images of the plans he had glimpsed, bits of conversation he had had with Jeff Tracy flitted through his memory to be pounced on by the dream tiger who held him down, savaging him. “When, Kyrano! When? When will these aircraft be complete? When will he unveil them to the public?” Gaat pressed only a touch harder; he knew he could kill the old man with too much pressure, and then he would have lost a valuable tool. “Not public. Secret. Secret organization.” Kyrano was wheezing now, breathing heavily, the strain of the fight in his mind taking a toll on his
Television body. He no longer thrashed, but lay curled up, his hands pulling at the silver hair over his temples. Above him, the still-cooking vegetation began to smoke. “What organization? To what purpose?” Gaat asked. The strain was telling on him, too. His heart pounded hard within his chest and he was bathed in sweat. His hands, tightly clenched into fists with his effort, bled, cut by his own sharp fingernails. “Rescue. International Rescue!” The last words were muttered in the kitchen, but shouted through the link as Kyrano’s agony reached a peak. Gaat smiled, and suddenly broke the connection. The smoke detector went off in the kitchen, and Scott rushed to the door. “Kyrano, what’s... damn!” he cried as he saw the retainer passed out on the floor and the fire in the wok. He coughed, choking on the smoke, then grabbed an extinguisher from the kitchen counter to put out the fire, croaking, “Hey! I need a hand in here!” Jeff came running into the kitchen, frantically waving the smoke away, his eyes beginning water. “Kyrano!” Seeing that Scott had the fire under control, he knelt down by his friend’s side, fearing the worst. A quick examination indicated a pulse, weak but regular, and shallow breathing, and Jeff felt the clutch of fear loosen from around his chest. He looked up at Scott, who had turned off the stove and stood over Kyrano, his eyes streaming. “Let’s get him out of here!” In his Malaysian temple, Gaat dropped to his knees, breathing heavily. The exertion was more than he’d bargained for this time, but it had been worth it. The vision of a rocket plane, silvery skinned with a sharp nose and a sleek profile, rose before his mind’s eye, and he laughed hoarsely. A plane that can go faster than any other on the planet! And a secret organization that will use it! Kyrano, my brother, you have done well for me today. I must have it! I must have this plane and all the other secrets of International Rescue!
Literature The Reunion by E. Bennet (Outlander) Jamie stared, transfixed, at the six foot tall, fiery-haired young woman before him. The resemblance to him was astounding even though he had memorized that face in the photographs Claire had brought back to him. He never expected he would see his daughter standing barely a foot from him, as real as the trees surrounding them. A daughter that, for the better part of the past twenty years, he had dreamed about unceasingly, but never imagined he would ever meet. But there she stood, appearing from the woods as if she had been out there the whole time, waiting for the right moment to show herself. There were no words, nothing Jamie could say at that moment. He stood rooted to the spot, tears welling behind his eyes as he looked over his daughter, a shy smile on her face with matching tears in eyes that held the same shape as his. Before he knew what he was doing, he had flung himself onto the girl in front of him, clinging to her in a bone-crushing embrace as though she would disappear again if he let her go. She was tall for a girl, close to six feet, suggesting her height came from him instead of Claire; and her thick hair smelled sweetly of lavender as Jamie breathed her in. He never wanted to let her go, never expected he would actually be able to hold her. Long ago he had accepted that he would never really know her; she would be only what his imagination made her. With Claire’s return, his daughter suddenly became more tangible and far beyond what he had imagined when Claire told him stories of her every night as they laid in bed watching the moon rise. It seemed unreal that now he could actually get to know his daughter as Claire knew her, as a real person in front of him, rather than as someone else’s memory. The girl started to shake a little from laughter. “I can’t… breathe!” Jamie pulled away quickly and held her at arm’s length, looking over her bright pink face and tear-streaked cheeks.
Outlander “Hi…” She paused, unsure what to call him. Dad would be wrong; Frank had been her dad all her life. Father didn’t seem to fit this large, gentle woodsman either. “You can call me Da if you like. Or if that’s too strange, Jamie is fine,” he said awkwardly. She smiled warmly, taking in the sight of the father she didn’t know she had until just a year before. At the time it seemed like the entire life she had known came crumbling down when her mother told her the story of Jamie Fraser, her real father. But now, seeing him, everything started to fall into place again—a new and different way, but a way that felt right to her. “I like ‘Da’.”
Megaman Singularity by Robert Hookbeard (Megaman, video game) Rock wasn’t programmed to kill. The factory behind him immolated any evidence there could have been, but the words that birthed his humanity echoed through his memory storage. I am more than a robot. If it weren’t for that ill-timed debris falling between them, Dr. Wiley would have been nothing more than ashes inside the burning wreckage of his own castle. Instead, a moment’s hesitation allowed Wiley and his abhorrent inventions to escape and inevitably wreak havoc again. No blood was shed, but Rock’s synthetic hand was still stained. His arm cannon was still warm from the shot that should have killed that mad scientist. Decades of this destructive cycle had evolved Rock’s cognitive functions to this day. Before, Rock was merely a plasma gun on legs with a targeting system. Now he made his own choices, and he had chosen to kill a human. Was this Rock’s only path to humanity? Killing intent had filled him, overcoming his programmed constraints. Ages of protecting humans had never given him the freedom that destroying one had. If it had been any other way, his father would have been so proud. Dr. Light’s son—his creation—had finally matured into an independent being. But not like this. He was too kind-hearted. He would claim Rock was defective; he was finally developing bugs years after the other robots of his generation went faithfully obsolete. No, Light could never find out about what had happened tonight. Rock wasn’t programmed to lie, either.
Other A City Out of Clay by Stress (Newsies, stage musical) Close your eyes, come with me, where it’s clean and green and pretty, and they went and made a city out of a clay... Jack Kelly scratched his head of dark hair, his brow furrowed and his eyes narrowed on the canvas in front of him. Canvas, of course, being a generous term; it was more like an old white sheet stretched tight across the backdrop fixture in front of him. Granted, it worked well—in his frustration, Jack had already sketched out his feelings for Pulitzer and his price hike on the back on the make-shift canvas—but, dreamer he may be, even he couldn’t pretend an old white sheet was anything like a real artist’s canvas. Then again, to have a real artist’s canvas, he had to be a real artist. Not just some big mouth kid from New York who could do nothing better than get in trouble, no matter what he did. Smacking his cap against his thigh as he remembered all too vividly the events of last night, Jack let a bitter scowl mar his handsome features just long enough for him to remember that he promised a new backdrop for Ms. Medda for that night and damn if he would break his promise to her. Especially after he already broke his promise to Crutchie— Jack gave his head a clearing shake and jammed his cap back onto his head, freeing his hands. Then, hitching up his worn trousers, rolling back the sleeves on his light blue button-down shirt, Jack squatted down to look at the paint supplies Medda had rounded up for him. He nodded appreciatively. Plenty of oil paints, countless colors, and that brush right there looked like it cost a couple of bucks at least. For this haul, he decided as he reached an ink-stained hand out and started to sort the colors, he could forgive her for the old sheet. Reds. Oranges. Browns. For the picture in his head, those were the
Newsies sorts of colors he would need. And, since this was to be the backdrop for another of Ms. Medda Larkin’s vaudeville performances, Jack allowed for a liberal amount of dark pinks and light purples to round out the scene. He could see it all. Santa Fe. Sometimes he wondered how he knew what a small town in New Mexico looked like but he was sure he could capture it in his art as easily as he could pluck any horrendous memory from the Refuge—the rats, the stale food, three boys to a bed—and give it life with his pencil and a scrap of paper. Sketching Katherine Plumber’s face that night in this same theater had been just as simple, a need to capture it with some sharp strokes and a touch of shading. Jack would turn his attention to this backdrop the same way. It was the least he could do. It was something, something to keep him busy, to keep his mind off of yesterday. Dipping his brush into the oil paint, he started to attack the sheet, his thrusts in time to the memory of the fight that took place in Newsie Square. Damn Weasel and damn the Delancey brothers too, and damn Joseph Pulitzer most of all for jacking up the price! It was because of them... because of them that the stupid Newsboy Union was disbanded before they could really be a membership. Because of them that Crutchie... His belly churned with guilt again; he winced when he thought of Crutchie, bruised, battered Crutchie, so beaten by the damn Delancey brothers that he could barely put any weight on his good leg. Crutchie, locked in the same Refuge Jack had escaped from, riding out on Teddy Roosevelt’s carriage as if he was somebody, and not some New York nobody destined to drop in the gutters. This city was keeping him down, but not for long. The first chance he got, Jack would take it and he would get the hell out the big city. Santa Fe... Let these bums keep their small life in a big city. All Jack wanted was a big life in a small town. The red gave the scenery a little life. For Santa Fe, a city out of clay, he needed the bold reds, trying hard not to think of the blood shed, the blood spilled all because Jack Kelly, Jack the big mouth, Jack the blowhard, Jack had to open his mouth without thinking. That’s what he told
Other Katherine: he was the voice. Davey was the brains. The new boy hadn’t wanted to join up, he hadn’t wanted to fight the price hike, but Jack had and look where that got them. Crutchie, locked up. Davey, probably back home with Les and—Jack gave another vicious jab with his paintbrush— his folks. And Jack, hiding. Fresh on the run from Snyder again, he heard that familiar shout of “Kelly!” and, with only the smallest of glances back at his fallen pal, left Crutchie to the Delancey’s as he ran. That was why he was hiding out, lying low at Medda’s theater again. Not because he wanted to paint her new scenery for her, but because he couldn’t even think about meeting up with the fellas and not see Crutchie with his gimp leg and his crutch waiting at the window for him with a smile on his face and adoration in his eyes. Jack promised him Santa Fe, with its clean air and a white palomino so Crutchie could ride around in style. All he gave his friend was hell. And it was all his fault. Jack had the sudden urge to break out of this dark room and climb to his rooftop and pretend, if only for the moment, that he was away from New York City. Santa Fe, his sweet siren song, was calling to him and he clung to that, never once putting his brush down. He let his mind go blank, pushing past the images of newspapers being torn and shredded and thrown into the air, past the images of the young boys being pushed around and bloodied, past the cops coming in and throwing their weight around... he stubbornly chose to let it all go, focusing only on Santa Fe. That was all he had left. Sweat began to trickle down from his hairline; it stung when the sweat touched his eyes and, embracing the pain, he simply wiped the back of his hand across his forehead and continued to paint. At some point Jack took off his newsboy cap—it lay, forgotten, somewhere between the umber paint and the towel he used for wiping his brush. He only had eyes for the sheet which, he admitted after awhile, was the best canvas he could’ve hoped for. Highlighting the shadows, the lumps of clay, the clouds with Medda’s favorite shade of garish pink, the scene was coming along nicely. The Santa Fe in his mind was on display for anyone to see, if they managed
Newsies to stop ogling the seasoned vaudeville performer long enough to notice. In that case, he mused, it be a wonder if anyone saw it at all. Jack wasn’t alone for long—or maybe he was by himself for forever, and it only seemed that way. Whatever the reason, whether he was lost in his work, lost in himself, or just plain lost where nowhere could find him, Jack took it for granted that he could stay by himself... until Medda came around, checking up on him. He smelled her perfume before he saw her, and that was saying something. A whiff of flowers on the stale, smokey air was so strong that Jack raised a hand to cover his mouth, certain he could taste lilies and roses. The clacking of her heels against the stage warned him she was coming next and he took his head down from the New Mexico clouds just in time to see her coming. Medda Larkin was approaching from the other side of the backstage. Wearing one of her more modest costumes, Jack was reminded of the other afternoon when he brought Davey and Les there. Poor kid, it was like Les had never seen a lady’s legs before. He wondered how Davey explained his younger brother’s new education to their mother and, for the first time that morning—was it even morning anymore?—Jack had the urge to laugh. “How’s it going, kid?” she asked, a coy lilt to her voice that had long since stopped from making Jack’s pulse quicken. Medda was an old friend, the closest thing to family he had that wasn’t the newsies, and he could even manage to look her in the eye instead of, ahem, elsewhere. Wiping his hands on his trousers, Jack dropped his paintbrush down to the stained towel Medda lent him. He took a step back and tried to take a look at his painting with someone else’s eyes. He shrugged. “I think it looks all right.” She joined him, standing at his side, her finger on her chin as she took in the painting. Her eyes twinkling in delight, Medda reached over and patted him on the shoulder, impressed. “I don’t know how you do it, Kelly.” “I guess... I don’t know, Ms. Medda, I guess it’s just somethin’ I see in my head.”
Other “That’s better than some of things my customers see in their heads, let me tell you.” Medda patted the back of her red hair, giving Jack a cheeky grin. “Ain’t we lucky you see such pretty pictures. There isn’t anyone else in this city that could do work like you do. Such a steal.” “I don’t do it for the money,” Jack said, and even as he said it, he knew it was true. There were better ways to get out west to Santa Fe than that. Until then, a painted city would have to do. “Sure, sure. And I own this building here because I’ve got an eye for real estate,” Medda teased, adjusting the bosom on her costume until it was high enough to be modest, but low enough to draw in the crowd. “So, you think I’ll be able to use this set for tonight’s number?” “Yeah, as long as you don’t bump back into the, uh, the canvas. Paint’ll still be wet.” Medda pinched Jack’s cheek and Jack let her. He was too used to Medda by now to think anything of her waywardness. “I wouldn’t mess up this art for the world,” she said and Jack, looking at the painted sheet, saw where the sun would fall on the clay and hurriedly retrieved his paintbrush from the towel on the ground. Seeing that spark of creativity in a fellow artist, Medda walked away then, humming “Don’t Come a-Knocking” under her breath, accentuating each beat with a shake of her hip as if she were already rehearsing for that night’s performance. Already lost once more in the picture in his head, Jack barely noticed she was leaving, though he sighed in relief when she was gone. He just wanted to be alone. That thought made him pause, his paintbrush halfway to the goldcolored paint at his feet. A small smile, a ghost of the charming grin he’d sported at Katherine only a day ago, it flickered across his face. Alone... That was New York for you. Nowhere else could a newsie run to a vaudeville joint for a little peace and quiet. Even in his remorse and his guilt, he had to recognize that. Recognize it and, if only for that one crazy moment, embrace it. It wasn’t Santa Fe, but then again, Jack thought as he started on the sunlight, he wasn’t a cowboy, was he? And, at least with a paintbrush in
Newsies his hand, he couldn’t get anyone else hurt. Not again. Not for him. Just be real is all I’m askin’, not some picture in my head, ‘cause I’m dead if I can’t count on you today...
Published on Dec 8, 2011