As with many things, I only realize how challenging an idea for a project is when I am amid a full commitment to it, as is the case for #13Stories. It is difficult to write a story using a prompt every day. I came up with these prompts as a fun exercise, with no idea for stories to go along with them. Now, I find that I am pushing the boundaries of my own writing capabilities by demanding exploration of unfamiliar genres and stories out of half-formed ideas and little whisps of characters. This is excellent news! Growth comes with discomfort, and the whole point of this exercise is to grow. So, without further ado…
I love this prompt. A truly fun idea for a MG story popped into my head almost immediately, and I have been having a delightful time expanding it. This is extending far beyond the realm of flash fiction, and I am planning on continuing it to the end. So, instead of sharing a whole piece, I am sharing the introduction. I want to see if I can make this idea into an actual book one day.
The Many Mischiefs of Samantha Applestrop and Her Friend, Morgan Strange, Witch
The oldest and most rickety house in town belonged to a witch. This was not any ordinary witch, but a rather peculiar woman named, fittingly, Morgan Strange. She was quiet and bookish, wore a skirt so large and with such deep pockets she could conjure anything from its folds, and wore wireframe spectacles perched upon her nose—remarkable only in that they were ostentatiously purple in an otherwise rather plainish complexion. A great pumpkin of an orange tabby cat followed her diligently, and they could be seen every afternoon traveling from doorstep to mailbox together, both smiling with a mischievous glint in the eye at the children that dared each other to walk past “Old Ms. Strange’s” house on the sidewalk nearest to the gate. She was not old, but that did not seem to matter.
The house stood on the very edge of town, and was nothing remarkable to look at if one were to simply see it in passing. A small gable-front cottage with a sagging and slightly pot-bellied brick chimney, a crumbling stone garden wall that kept very little in or out, a wrought iron fence like a gap-tooth grin, and peeling dark forest green trim. The gardens were so wild and overgrown, the hedgehogs had claimed it as an independent territory and delighted in taunting the tabby cat as he stalked the house’s perimeter. But there was something that drew you in—it had a sort of aura. It gave you the spine tinglies and the arm shivers if you got too close, especially as the weather grew colder and the nights grew longer.
Especially as it got closer to Halloween.
Morgan Strange did not want a plain and neat house. She liked that the old man next door with the perfect lawn and the meticulously trimmed hedges grumbled as he paced the portion of the wall that separated her house from his. She liked that the prim woman who walked two very prim and tiny dachshunds lifted her chin and wrinkled her nose imperiously at the overgrown flowerbeds and the hedgehog noses peeking out of the stems.
Morgan knew that the hedgehogs were only curious about their marginally larger cousins, and the flowers were happier being allowed to reach toward the sky. She knew that the old man with his grumbles and the prim lady with her furrows once used to know that, too—once reveled in the wild things. But they had forgotten all of the words, and magic, and ideas. They had forgotten mischief.
Samantha Applestrop had not forgotten the language of mischief. In fact, at the ripe old age of seven-and-a-half, she sought it out and examined it like a recently uncovered clue. The secrets of this world were a mystery to her and she was on the case! Samantha secretly loved Ms. Strange’s house. She was the first to accept the dare from Billy, Chad, and Kevin, who always made fun of her twisty hair and her missing front tooth, to run up and touch the gate of the witch’s house. Defiance swelled in her chest as she approached the gate to peer into the garden.
I had no idea where this prompt was going to take me when I started writing. I started with a basic premise of writing journal entries from the perspective of said astrologer, with notations of planets and stars aspects as the header for each entry. It unfolded entirely as I wrote each entry.
To Map the Stars
Mercury enters Scorpio, Mars enters Libra
Today is not a day for ease and peace of mind. I go about my duties, care for the people that come to me looking for answers, and I do so with a smile and an air of confidence and reassurance that feels so…falsified. Yesterday, the stars positioned Pluto, the god of death, in my path. There is never any telling what depths will be required, what I will have to excavate in myself to continue The Work. And today foretells so much Work ahead. Much is being pulled to the surface—secrets, power, the things that lurk in the dark. I just wish I wasn’t so bone-achingly tired. I wish I knew if those things that lurk in the dark were actually there or if my suspicions regarding the intrigues of the powerful extend beyond run-of-the-mill paranoia.
Mercury in Scorpio opposes Uranus Rx in Taurus, both at 5 degrees
We hit some turbulence today, all appointments were canceled. I was required in command to consult, and some surprising revelations were revealed in operations. Will have to be more careful about how resources are managed in the future. There was…something strange that happened during the unexpected tumult. I am hesitant to speak of it, but I suppose it can’t hurt to address it here. When the shaking began, it was almost like I could hear distant voices, persistent yet unintelligible—soft as whispers. Perhaps it was the stress of the situation. Tried to glean information from the stars, but they did not say anything new or less vague than this morning.
Sun in Libra square Saturn in Capricorn, both at 14°; Venus enters Scorpio
As noted earlier this year, this is the second instance of this biannual aspect. I expected today to be difficult, but it is ever surprising how even expected difficulty can catch you off guard. Another of our team has disappeared. They were working on some habitat malfunctions and have not been seen since shift change at 1800 hours. They were one of my consults. I spoke with them the day before yesterday, and it was a positive and uplifting session despite my exhaustion. I can’t help but wonder if this is somehow my fault. Maybe I can’t actually help anyone.
Something most alarming happened this morning at 0600 hours when doing my morning charting. I was in my observation deck, observing the new position of the stars relative to where we now are located. I focused and zoomed into one star, in particular, to gauge distance and ponder the philosophical problems that come with how astrology will change for us as we drastically shift our position in relation to these ancient techniques and interpretations. Lost in thought and staring at the image in front of me, I was suddenly jarred from these ruminations by a soft voice whispering hello. If I didn’t know better, I would swear it had come from the star. Perhaps this is it, and I truly am insane after all. I should have known better than to try to juggle so much in Scorpio season. As it was, I was too unsettled to do my routine charting. I had not noted anything in the previous months as far as projections are concerned, so I am going to take a mental health day and avoid explanations for as long as possible.
Venus in Scorpio opposes Uranus Rx in Taurus, both at 5 degrees
“Rude awakenings” is absolutely correct! I am infuriated. The Captain has made his position on this Work completely apparent. I will not allow the Work to be disrupted by the ambitions of a militaristic and brutish imbecile! I cannot allow the future of the Earth to be decided by cold calculations at the expense of the life of the solar system. How to do this? I just don’t know.
My explorations of the stars become more foreign to me the further we move toward them. I feel something has shifted, and I fear that it cannot be only explained by my ever-changing position in the heavens, though I confess that it is throwing me off my game as well. There are many more voices now. There…are just many.
Full Moon at 20 degrees of Aries; Sun in Libra sextile Jupiter in Sagittarius, both at 20 degrees; Mercury in Scorpio sextile Saturn in Capricorn, both at 14 degrees
The moon frightens me, first as it loomed larger and now again as it recedes by slow degrees. A being that always gave me comfort before has become a silent beacon of the changing landscape of our future. We do not know what is coming, no matter how many notes I jot down. It is the full moon, though I can’t see the phases anymore. We are too far gone to have that comfort any longer.
The pressure in the politics of the commanding crew and my interests in The Work have not lightened, nor will they. Though there is a release at this moment. I have the power to overcome this obstacle. I have faith that we will make the right choices. We will solve the problem of our missing crew. We have to. With this realization, the voices have subsided. Stress, most likely. I will not lie and say that I am not relieved—it would belie a level of confidence that I did not have.
Mercury in Scorpio trine Neptune Rx in Pisces, both at 16 degrees
This morning I awoke in my observation chamber with no recollection of how I arrived there. I remember a voice echoing in my head, saying wake up over and over until my consciousness was finally able to float to the surface. The observation glass in front of me (I was standing so close) was focused on one particular star. Checking the notation in the bottom left corner, sure enough, it was the same star that I had been viewing before. Had I navigated the controls in my sleep? If one could walk to any old place without being aware, I am sure one could navigate simple computer commands. But what if this is not a result of stress? What if this is not disconnected from the problems we have been having—by which we have literally been surrounded—since leaving the shelter of our moon? It is an exciting prospect, though a dangerous one. I will have to remain guarded, more-so than ever, while I conduct some experiments.
The worst has happened. We have had another disappearance. Security has been ordered at every doorway and in every hallway. I cannot write for fear of revealing anything that could give my current theories away and cause alarm.
Mercury in Scorpio sextile Pluto in Capricorn, both at 20 degrees
Awoke to voices again. This time I had not left my room. Instead of fear and doubt, however, I tried to return with my own hello, I can hear you. Nothing. No response. I grabbed this notebook and made my way over to my observation chamber, deciding to focus in on that star grouping and meditate in the open space, emptying my mind of all things except for the words hello and can you hear me. I heard a scream, far away and ethereal. Eyes flying open, I caught my window into the outside world as the star flashed brightly and then extinguished. Only darkness remains where a bright light once lived. I have spent the whole day monitoring that one tiny space on my glass. Nothing ever changed. No one returned. What have I done?
Venus in Scorpio trine Neptune Rx in Pisces, both at 16 degrees
Slept in the observatory—not well. Sleep does not come to one mourning a star. I am convinced that it is dead. I realized as I pulled into wakefulness, something that seems harder and harder these days, that I was not the only one. I felt like a resonance chamber for so much sadness. Where was this coming from? Looking at the glass, I noted with alarm that we had jumped forward. While I had slept, the captain had used precious resources to warp time and space to project us forward. We would lose more people now. How is this all connected? The shadows have grown. The corners of my vision are always tickled by a closing darkness, a waking vignette on an ancient film. Nothing to do about that now except figure out where we are.
I recalibrated and focused back on the point of space I had been looking at before. The dark hole where my friend had once been seemed to be consumed in shadow—not something that I could outright see, but it was there—writhing. That is when I heard them clearly. As though I were a crystalline structure that has found a pure tone, it felt as though my entire body was thrumming with the silent sounds of millions, billions, trillions of voices. They were singing, singing into the empty space, singing into me, singing into the whole of eternity. The Work has fundamentally changed. It is not the reading of a map, cartography for a future as foretold by circling orbs of gas and rock. As we bend time and space around us, so do those stars. The light, their language, takes millions of years to travel to my cornea. They exist in the past and are seeing the future. I exist in the future and am seeing the past. And now we are going to meet. Now we are going to have a conversation.
Sun enters Scorpio
It is so funny, writing those words at the top of this entry. With yesterday’s revelations, it seems comical to cling to something that feels so clearly wrong. Habits die hard, and it has been a source of comfort to note the daily transits for…longer than I care to count, now. It is still somehow fitting, though, foretelling of immense potential for healing. I feel as though that is what is happening with this new connection. I can’t yet discern a message; there are just too many voices that compete to make the whole. I have never experienced anything like it in any capacity. But a feeling is starting to emerge, and it sounds like a warning. How disappointing and how like life to have the most beautiful revelations coupled with such ill tidings.
I have been shut out from Command. The Captain has declared no use for a woman of my ilk in making decisions for the approaching threat and the protection of Earth. How little he knows about anything. He sees a threat and thinks he can fight it with weapons and hubris. What does he understand of the places we are going or the things surrounding us? He believes me crazy. But I know better now. I must turn my eye to the warning, and to the missing crew. Perhaps the two are connected.
Venus in Scorpio sextile Pluto in Capricorn, both at 20 degrees
I woke up to alarms. Doors have been sealed, and no one is allowed to leave their quarters. I am glad that I have taken to sleeping in my observatory. The message is beginning to make more sense, even as the sense in everyone around me seems to be leaving them. Command is in chaos. I received a communique from a trusted source on the bridge crew that the Captain has disappeared. Lockdown is, no doubt, reserved for searching for him—never mind about all of the other missing personnel. Since I am trapped in here, I will continue my Work. My only wish is that the infernal racket of those useless alarms would be silenced—it isn’t like any of us are unaware of our current circumstances.
I have done it, at least in part. Oh, I do love so much right now, even though I fear it in equal measure. Deepening connections holds true! How my old practice is still relevant amid such new and alien revelations is beyond me, but a delight just the same.
It was as though something suddenly, finally snapped into place. It wasn’t that I heard it, but suddenly the resonance within me was no longer discordant, no longer wavering like a note that is slightly out of tune. The resonance vibrated all of my atoms as far apart as they could go and still remain a unit that could be interpreted as a self. I felt my body as though it were foreign to me, as though I were floating outside of it—a conduit for a higher plane of interfacing. The voices are clearer now, many speaking all as one, but somehow all individual voices and expressions at once. The whole of the message is still unclear, but they are more frantic than ever. Something is coming. Something is already here. We all fear that we have been too delayed—that our timelines have not aligned precisely. We are not sure if we can prevent whatever it is that is coming. How strange that part of myself knows what is coming and when, and part of myself, the one connected to this body, remains ignorant.
The aspects do not matter now
The alarms have stopped. My doors remain sealed, but there is no sound from outside of them. The shadows are no longer in the observation chamber, kept at bay by what I can only assume is the resonance that has filled my being and the room. But I can feel them outside, lurking. To think I understood the astrological foretelling, how long ago now? Only a month? It seems like eternity… How strange that I thought it to mean a metaphorical shadow. The Captain may have been right to fear them, but he did not know how to fight them. At least in that, I was right, cold comfort that it is. His final act of stupidity may have doomed us all, that final leap. One great leap forward for mankind. The irony of it all fills me with bitterness. I must find a way out of this room.
I cracked the panel for the door locking mechanisms and managed to reroute the electrical current to trick the locks into opening. I am suddenly very thankful that I was made to invest part of my education in the sciences outside of metaphysics. The halls were empty and dark. There is no one left that I can find. The coms system is set to automatically deliver a distress signal back to Earth, but it will probably be more appropriate to warn them that we have failed and that the Earth will not be saved. The shadow will come, and we could not stop them. None of the command crew are left to override the security protocol to change this message. There isn’t even a piece of them remaining to trick the systems. I have no options. We were too late, we could not find ourself fast enough to know how to save us.
I have gone silent, for that is what the voices are I now realize—it is the stars and also, now, me. I connected to something so much larger than myself, and for a brief blip in time, I resonated; I became a part of a larger whole. It is me, it is them, it is so many other beings and other realities. How limited I had been. How short-lived my revelation. And none of it matters now. The shadow, the darkness, the force that bites back at the light has closed in. We must allow us to be taken to protect the whole. Earth is lost. I have failed. I wait in dead space, on a ship that was destined to save the world, to know the full weight of my defeat—to die, alone.
Thank you so much for coming with me on this journey! If you are interested in jumping in and joining the fun, more information can be found in my previous post.