Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story – A Round-Robin Tale, Chapter Two

image via Laird Sapir

Last year, some of my writer friends banded together to fight crime take turns writing an epic saga, The Octopus Knows.  Each writer contributed a chapter on their blog, and together they discovered a harrowing drama replete with mystery and glittering pageantry.

My academic obligations prevented me from participating at the time, so I missed out on the fun.  Now everyone is collaborating on another story, and this time I’m able to contribute.

As the universe itself is a rather structured place, it follows certain rules.  This narrative effort is no different:

1) each writer must pick up the story where the last person left off and continue it on their own blog, and

2) provide a link back to the person who wrote the entry before theirs as well as a link at the end of their chapter directing readers to the next person on the list.

So stop by Tami Clayton’s blog to read Chapter One of Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story and see how it all begins…

*     *     *

Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story

Chapter Two

Meanwhile, in the vastness of interstellar space…

Lord Lobstar sat in the command center of his secret volcano base, stroking his goatee with a red, puffy claw.  As he often did after having his morning mollusc–as if morning were even possible in the vastness of interstellar space–he hatched a fiendish scheme.

His sinister eyestalks swiveled to focus on one of his Shrimperators.  “You, there…faceless minion.  Prostrate yourself before my awesome might.”

“At once, my lord.”  The Shrimperator prostrated himself before Lord Lobstar’s awesome might, the glass of his water-filled bubble helmet clinking against the deck like a toast to his master’s health.  “What is your command?”

“I have hatched a fiendish scheme,” Lord Lobstar said.

“Brilliant, my lord!”

“Take it below and put it with the others.”

“At once, my lord!”

Cradling the fiendish scheme in his claws and taking care not to damage it, the Shrimperator scuttled into the nearest crustachute, which whisked him away with a suction sound like one of those pneumatic tubes at the bank.

Lord Lobstar sighed, and his eyestalks drooped in sadness.

“Why are your eyestalks drooping in sadness, Your Diabolical Mastermindedness?”

Recognizing the voice of his new advisor, Lord Lobstar rotated his command chair to face Jupernia.  As always, she stood before him swathed in a black cloak, her cowl drawn close to shroud her face in deep shadow.

“I have just hatched yet another fiendish scheme,” Lord Lobstar said.  “Perhaps my most fiendish scheme ever.”

“Congratulations, my lord,” Jupernia said.  “I would think such a glorious occasion a cause for celebration, not sadness.”

“What use are fiendish schemes now?  Ever since an explosion destroyed my home planet of Crustacea and sent my secret volcano base hurtling through the vastness of interstellar space, I have no reason to act upon them.  No world to threaten.  No throne to usurp.  Not even a single doorbell to ring and then run away from while cackling maniacally.”

“For now, that may be true,” Jupernia said.  “But there are countless worlds out there with unsuspecting civilizations living upon them.  It is only a matter of time before our trajectory brings us within range of a suitable conquest.  We only need to–”

“We get signal,” a Shrimperator shouted from his console.

Lord Lobstar leaped to his feet.  “What?”

“Main screen turn on,” the Shrimperator said.

Lord Lobstar’s eyestalks blinked.  They blinked again.  “What is this?”

“Some sort of military transmission, my lord,” the Shrimperator said.  “From a planet called ‘Earth’ by its inhabitants.”

“Earth?”  Lord Lobstar’s tongue recoiled from the word as if it were an alien and unsavory morsel he had just discovered in his morning mollusc.  “Earth?  What kind of name is that?”

“It is rather generic, and most certainly a place unworthy of my lord’s attention,” Jupernia said.  “No doubt the next inhabited world would make a far more suitable conquest.”

“No.”  Lord Lobstar leaned closer to the monitor, stroking his goatee in thought.  “I will scheme against this world…this…this Earth.”

“If I may counsel you otherwise–”

“You may not.”

A pause.  “As…as you command, my lord.”

“Send a squad of my best Shrimperators aboard a scout crustaship to assess Earth’s defenses.  And have my engineers accelerate the completion of my robotic exoskeleton.”

“Your r–robotic exoskeleton, my lord?”

“Of course,” Lord Lobstar said.  “When we arrive in Earth orbit, I intend to implement my most fiendish scheme ever.  Personally.”

A metallic object fell out of Jupernia’s robes to clatter upon the deck.

“Oh, look.”  Lord Lobstar retrieved the object in a puffy claw and handed it back to her.  “You dropped one of your climbing spurs again.”

After a long, silent moment, Jupernia took the climbing spur from him, her attention never wavering from the monitor and the fragile, blue-white world glowing on its display.

*     *     *

Well, that concludes my contribution.  Next up is Liv Rancourt, so keep an eye on her blog for the next installment in this thrilling tale of adventure, betrayal, and political intrigue…

29 thoughts on “Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story – A Round-Robin Tale, Chapter Two

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks, Laird 🙂 I couldn’t have done it without Tami’s sterling work. She set up a lot of great hooks to play with, so I certainly hope I was able to give Liv enough to work from.

      No one will ever guess the true identity of the mysterious Jupernia 😉

  1. Tami Clayton

    Fantastic job, Mike! Truly an amazing installment. I’m super impressed at how you took things to the next (interstellar) level. I, too, loved the Falcon Crest theme song, especially since I erroneously called it Falcon’s Crest in the chapter I wrote. *slinks off to the kasbah to edit chapter one* Also on my love list? Juniper Jackie and her nefarious dealings with Lord Lobstar.

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks, Tami! I never caught the Falcon’s Crest thing, probably because I’m more of a Knots Landing person. I had no idea Lorenzo Lamas was on that show. He turns up in all kinds of places, seems like.

      I see you’ve figured out who Juniper Jackie is. Someone must have been distributing my secret notes 😉

  2. Barbara Forte Abate

    Jeezaloo, who would’ve guessed — I just never saw this coming. And I love that this masterpiece now has a theme song. Mighty impressive, Mike!

    I don’t envy Liv her assignment — aka, “when Earth and Lord Lobestar collide.” :-O

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks, Barbara!

      I’m more of a Knots Landing guy, myself, but Tami’s mention of Falcon Crest reruns gave me a fantastic opportunity to turn my post into a multimedia extravaganza 😉

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks, Liv! Yeah, clearly I was too subtle when I shrouded Jupernia’s true identity in such opaque mystery 😉

      I’m looking forward to what happens next. I know you and the rest of our tribe will do a great job 🙂

  3. Kirsten

    Nice work! Poor Twinkle and his Lather sure have their mission cut out for them–what a fun idea. 🙂
    It’s good to see you posting, even if it’s just once in a while!

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks very much, Kirsten 🙂 Yeah, I’m going to try to do a post at least every week or two. I’d love to do more, but it takes me a while to put together the kind of post I like to do, and it’s hard to find time for it in addition to my other responsibilities.

  4. Elizabeth Fais

    Lord Lobstar and his shrimpernators descending upon Twinkle … and at ludicrous speed no less? What’s a Lather to do? Hilarious, and oh so clever Mike! The plot sickens, I mean thickens … to a delectable Lobstar-bisquiness. Take it away Liv! 🙂

  5. Ellen Gregory

    Loved it — How clever to split off into another complete thread. And corny lobster-riven SF is such fun! Must confess, though, to never having seen Falcon Crest.

    I can see I’m going to have to go back to Tami’s first post and re-read to catch all the hooks… Can’t wait to see what Liv comes up with.

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      I’ve never seen Falcon Crest either, but after such a riveting opening sequence, I’ll have to get right on that 😉

      And yeah, Tami left some great hooks to work with, so hopefully I was able to do the same for Liv and everyone else who follows.

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂

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