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Issue #7, July 2005:

Martian Sparklers,

by K.M. Praschak


The Blueblade Warriors,

by Brian G. Ross


The Landing,

by Brian C.Petroziello


The Count's Daughter,

by Martin Green



by Barrie Christian


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The Blueblade Warriors

by Brian G. Ross

Finkelstone, the First Knight of the Realm, circled the creature for the four hundred and
fifteenth time. He looked at his feet and the well-worn dirt path he had tread, as he walked
into his partner.

It was the eighth time tonight.

“Basquille, kindly keep up!”

The Second Knight of the Realm stopped and turned around. “Sir, I’m ahead of you.”

“Well you started off behind me,” Finkelstone said, sighing. “Now please, as you

Basquille continued around the cage and stopped at his partner’s heels. “Ready
when you are, sir.”

Finkelstone began to march again. “Must you insist on carrying that infernal
instrument with you everywhere?”

“It’s my destiny, sir,” Basquille said, holding the banjo over his shoulder as he
marched, like Huck Finn carrying his lunch. “You mark my words, sir. One day I’ll have
my own bluegrass band, and we’ll be even bigger than the Blueblade Warriors. They’re so
cool. They’re the best, you know?”

“Quite.” The first knight wondered how long it was until the next shift came in from the
palace. “What is this bluegrass you speak of unendingly?”

“It’s like country ‘n’ western, sir, only faster.”

“Aah,” Finkelstone said, smiling beneath his helmet. “Depressing in two minutes instead of
three then?”

“No sir, not at all. You should listen.” Basquille patted himself down. “Wait a minute, I
think I’ve got a tape somewhere.”

“There’s no need.”

Basquille see-sawed as he marched. “Sir?”


“Why must we go round and round all the time? I mean, it’s in the cage, sir. We can watch
it from those rocks over there.”

Finkelstone stopped and sighed, and Basquille ran into his heels again. Sometimes,
sense came from the strangest places.

“I’m starting to get dizzy, sir.”

“All right,” the First Knight said. “Let us sit.”

“Thanks, sir.”

“I am going to use that big tree over there.” Finkelstone pointed into the distance.
“Stay alert!

“Sir, what for?”

Finkelstone sighed. “Just don’t fall asleep!”

“Yes sir.”

Basquille saluted and watched his superior skip into the woods. He slid onto a rock and
puffed out his cheeks.


“Huh?” The Second Knight brought his knees up under his chin. “Sir, is that you?”

“Psst, over here.”

The creature stood on its hind legs and grabbed the bars of the cage with its meaty

“Holy cow! You can talk.”

“Sure I can talk. Wanna see me dance?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Be a mate and get my gear, will ya?”

“Your gear?”

“Yeah; my stuff, my clothes.”

Basquille got up and moved towards the creature. “As a sworn Knight of the Realm I
cannot help you escape.”

“I ain’t asking you to, buddy. I just need some cover for the little general, know what I

“It is a little cold. I suppose it wouldn’t do any harm to allow you to dress.”

The creature rubbed his hands together.
“You’re a star, so you are.”

Basquille gathered the items and pushed them through the bars.

“You’re a knight, you say?”

“Yes sir.”

“That other guy your boss?” The creature hooked a thumb towards the woods
as he slipped into his shirt.

“Finkelstone, yes.”

“Where’s your steed?”

“My what?”

“Your steed - your buck, your ride.” The creature sighed. “Where’s your
goddamned horse, man?”

“I don’t have a horse.”

“No horse? How do you get around?”

Basquille pointed. “Over there.”

The creature followed the knight’s finger. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“No sir.”

“A kangaroo?”

“They are standard issue transportation in this kingdom.”

The creature let loose a well-fed laugh.

“They have a handy pocket for pencils and stuff,” Basquille said.

“Wait until my mates hear about this. We’ve got a band. Maybe you’ve heard of us -
The Blueblade Warriors?”

Basquille almost swallowed his tongue. “Heard of you? I’m your biggest fan. I have all
your stuff!”

“Really? That’s very flattering.”

Banjo Days and Ukelele Nights is a
classic album.”

“Yeah, pretty nifty, isn’t it?”

“Which one are you?”

“Um.” The creature frowned. “I play, uh, the banjo.”

“Oh my God, you’re Eric Von Parenthesis III?”

“In the flesh baby, but all my mates call me Bob.”

“Wow! I play the banjo too.” Basquille pointed to the instrument on his shoulder.

“Well ain’t that a coincidence.”

“You look so different without your make-up.”

“That’s showbiz, kid.” Bob scratched his chin, feigning thought. “I’ll make you a deal.”


“If you let me outta here, I may be able to get you into the band.”

“You mean, I could be a Warrior?”

Bob shrugged. “Sure, why not.”

“You really think I’m good enough?”

“Tell you what, give me a blast while I finish getting changed.”

“All right. What do you want to hear?”

“Surprise me,” Bob said, pulling on his trousers.

Basquille sat on a rock and started plucking. His fingers danced across the strings like feet
across hot coals. Concentration forced his tongue out between his lips. Once Bob was dressed, he

“What do you think?”

“Outstanding!” Bob proclaimed. “What was it?”

Basquille blushed. “The Blue Blue Grass Of Home. It’s my favourite song of yours.”

“Of course. I didn’t recognise it in that key, that’s all,” Bob fumbled. “Speaking of keys, you gonna let
me outta here, or what?”

“Certainly.” Basquille hurriedly unhooked the latch on the cage and Bob stepped out into the night.
“You think you can get me in?”

“Consider it done. I’ll have my people call your people.”

“I don’t have any people.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll find you.” Bob zipped up his jacket and slapped the knight on the back. “Good
knowing you, mate.”

“Farewell my friend.”

Basquille smiled, pleased with himself, and watched as Bob ran off into the distance.
Moments later, Finkelstone returned, tucking his waistcoat into his pants.

“What on earth happened here?”

“Sir, you’ll never believe it!”

“I believe that.”

“That was Eric Von Parenthesis III!”


“He’s in The Blueblade Warriors.”

“He told you that?”

“Yes sir.”

Finkelstone slapped his forehead theatrically. “And to think, we were just
talking about them.”

“Quite the coincidence, isn’t it, sir?”
Basquille conceded.


The End

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