Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sophie From Shinola: An Interlude

This is not officially a part of the Sophie From Shinola round robin. First of all, it's not my turn yet and second of all it doesn't really follow any of your other entries. Instead, it borrows from most of yours and takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque!

I've been saying I couldn't wait for my turn to come around and apparently, I really couldn't, 'cause yaknow, I can't follow rules even if I made 'em up. So anyway, enjoy this little detour from the worlds of Sophie From Shinola.


Sophie rode her chestnut horse, Blink into the small dusty town. As always, she was accompanied by her Sioux companion, who in a nod to the obvious, called herself Not-Sophie. Not-Sophie was usually quite taciturn and had further simplified life by naming her jet black horse Not-Blink. They dismounted in front of the local Sheriff’s office and went in.

The Sheriff was asleep in his chair. Apparently, sheriffing in the tiny town of Twig, Minnesota was not a terribly taxing job. Sophie cleared her throat to wake him and he opened his eyes. Looking out from beneath the brim of his hat, he said, “Afternoon ladies. Anything I can do for ya?”

Sophie said, “I’m chasing down a rumor about an alien invasion. Have you heard anything like that?”

The Sheriff scratched his chin and gazed at the ceiling, possibly expecting the answer to be written on the rafters. “Can’t say as I’ve heard anything like that,” he said. “Aliens, huh? You mean like Canadians or somethin’?”

“No,” Sophie said, “Aliens from space. This man we met in Chenolla had a little box with all kinds of buttons and dials on it and voices came out of it. They weren’t speaking English or any other language I’ve ever heard. The man said he’d found the box in a dry streambed and that it just goes on talking all the time. He said they must be aliens…from space.”

The Sheriff spit meaningfully into the spittoon next to his desk. “Well I ain’t never heard me no talk about no space men. Never heard of no talkin’ boxes neither. We don’t hold with that kinda stuff here in Twig.”

Sophie turned to Not-Sophie and said, “I guess we may as well keep moving. There’s nothing in this town for us.”

Not-Sophie nodded and walked out the door with Sophie on her heels.

As they were about to mount their horses again, the Sheriff stepped out of his door and without warning, he shot Not-Sophie twice in the gut. Not-Sophie was gobsmacked. She stood staring at the sheriff while bleeding a viscous yellow liquid. The yellow blood seemed to have a life of its own, spreading and then coalescing again on the ground. Suddenly, a slimy somewhat reptilian creature burst from Not-Sophie’s mouth. Two things happened after this. First, Not-Sophie fell to the ground like a puppet that’s had its strings cut. Second, both the Sheriff and Sophie blasted the creature to smithereens before it could escape.

“Yup, ain’t never heard no talk about space men,” the Sheriff said sleepily pointing at what was left of the creature. “But we been blastin’ them Kollithi lizards left and right.”

Not-Blink blinked.


Random Michelle K said...

Dammnit! Why must everyone kill not-Sophie? She's my favorite character and everyone's killing her left and right.


Nathan said...

Well, mine's just an interludinal killing...not a real story one. :D

Random Michelle K said...


(sobs loudly in the corner)

Nathan said...

Jeez, Michelle, she was just animated by the lizard dude! And there had to be a reason for Not-Blink to blink.

Random Michelle K said...


Everyone is so MEAN to not-Sophie!


PS: heroine

Tom said...

Hey, 'ludes, man. Killer! Where'd ya get 'um? Got any spare? Cool, man.

But I never heard a no inter-ludes. Zat the new stuff? Wow, man!

Anonymous said...

This is great! Totally hilarious, and really nice Western alternative... kinda John Wayne meets Firefly (and kills not-Sophie). ;)

Eric said...

“I can’t believe you did that,” Not-Blink said, spitting out the bridle. He craned his neck around to look back at Sophie, shuffling his hooves as he tried to turn to look at his rider.

“Missy,” the Sheriff said thoughtfully, “sounds like your horse is a mite bit ‘pinionated. I ain’t never seen a talkin’ horse before.” Bullets made a shucking sound as he slid them into the cylinder of his. He closed the gun and latched the cylinder into place.

“You said we weren’t gonna kill any Kollithi,” Not-Blink whined. Sophie tried to bring the horse under control with her knees, loudly shushing him though it was too late, but Not-Blink wasn’t having it. “You promised, Sophie. You promised me. You said.”

Sophie tried to laugh; she smiled a big fake smile at the Sheriff. “It’s funny how they sometimes sound like they’re talking when they whinny like that—stop it, stop it right now—isn’t it the damnedest thing? You’re making a scene. Ha. Ha-ha.”

The Sheriff brought the gun to bear.

“You promised Sophie,” Not-Blink said, “you said we—“ his voice was stopped by a single shot, a crack like a splitting rock that rolled to the distant mountains and back again slowly some seconds later. There was a grim silence and then the whump of a body falling sideways over.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Not-Blink said in accusing tones.

“What were you doin’ lettin’ yourself be rode like that anyhow, son?” the Sheriff snorted. “Ain’t you got any pride, boy.”

“She was alright,” the horse snorted.

“She wasn’t. She was a liar and cheat and a dirty no-good horse thief.”

“She didn’t steal me. Well. Okay, maybe she was going to. But I went willingly. When I saw she was going to steal one of us, I went up and volunteered. I figured the man who owned the other horses would probably feel bad if he lost one he knew, and anyway he hadn’t noticed I was an extra one. She sure was impressed when she found out I could talk!”

The Sheriff shook his head. “Which reminds me, why are you a horse, son?”

“I like being a horse. Being a horse is fun!”

“Those stirrups don’t hurt your ribs, son?”

“Maybe a little,” Not-Blink admitted. “Why are you a sheriff?”

“I suppose sheriffin’ is kind of fun, too. Now why don’t you just change back so you can come in and I can pour you a cup of coffee or get you somethin’ to eat. I’ll bet that woman was feedin’ you nothin’ but oats.”

“I like oats! That’s what horsies eat!” Not-Blink made a loud, authentically-horselike whinny.

“Now that’s enough of that, boy, change your skin and come in and eat a bit. My wife fried some chicken for my lunch, and I can’t eat all of it myself.”

“Don’t wanna,” Not-Blink said.

“Oh Gods Of Crommkin,” the sheriff said, stepping back, “you forgot how to change, didn’t’cha, son?”

Not-Blink blinked again, started to deny it then shut his mouth.

“What on Earth would your mommas say?” the sheriff said, shaking his head. “Awright. We can fix this.”

Nathan said...

::blink, blink::

::mouth gape::


ZOMG, what have I done?

This is worse than when Jeri broke the internet (I helped a little.)

Eric is scaring me a little.

Random Michelle K said...

"It's not my fault, really," said not-Blink. "I've just been down here for so long, and found this form so comfortable and useful I didn't bother to change. Now I'm just a little... er... stuck."

The sheriff grabbed not-Blink's nose and squeezed. A second later not-Blink popped back into his natural form, the sheriff squeezing one of his pseudo-pods.

"You think you got the hang o' it now sonny?"

Not-Blink winced a little as the sheriff released his pseudo-pod. "I think I've got it," he replied, and then shifted into a gangly teenage boy, all knees and elbows and sticking up hair.

"Well hell," said the Sheriff, "If I'da realized you was so young, I'da been more gentle. What was the Queen thinkin'? Sendin' someone as young as you out here? No wonder you forgot how to change! You've probably only been changing for what, a year now?"

"Two," said not-Blink. "I started young. But then I've been here for over a year. But don't blame The Queen. Things are far worse than you realize."

"You sayin' these humans are causin' trouble? I don't much believe that!"

"Not the humans," said not-Blink, "the Betelgeuse are restless again."

"Shiiiit!" said Sheriff. "Why the hell ain't she called as back then? This's nothin' that can't be picked back up at any time."

"Politics," shrugged not-Blink. "You know how it is."

Random Michelle K said...

Damnit! You got your response to Eric in before I finished what I was writing!

Nathan said...

Doesn't matter Michelle.

I'm still agape! Now, at both of you.

Anonymous said...

I think not- and true-Sophie and not- and true-Blink might need their own website... with group contributor permissions. :)

Nathan said...

I think somebody needs to draw all of them!

Random Michelle K said...

I could set up another blog on my website I think.

Anonymous said...

I even have a dead blog that is already set up and could be resurrected for this purpose - I could slap-bang change the theme out, add users, and voila! Instant group platform. It's at (and .net and .org).

Nathan said...

Why don't we wait until we've finished the round robin and then we can either put it all up there in one place and/or if people feel like continuing, they can add to it.

I still like the idea of passing around the blog hits everyone gets from posting on their own sites.

Eric said...

Meanwhile, this is what I do to deal with my headache and foul temper while I wait for appointments:

Eric said...

They shuffled and slid like fire and unlike fire, sending up occasional feelers, tongues of burning flesh that tasted the cold iron taste of space and withdrew. When they thought, the voices in their head was like the voice of a mob, the voice of a riot, the voice of a congregation, of a parliament. Sometimes the voices rose in one united mass and sometimes there was discord among The Betelgeuse. They were one and they were plural, and they thought maybe they were a bit peckish.

From 430 light years away, The Betelgeuse was—or were, verb tenses are suboptimal for a colony like The Betelgeuse—from the distance of Earth to The Betelgeuse, The Betelgeuse looked like a bright red light that the local sentients liked to think of as marking the shoulder of a bipedal, hunting hominid. And who could fault them, when The Betelgeuse looked like a star even at 215 light years, or a hundred-and-seven-point-five. It wasn’t until you came much to close that you began to notice something amiss. At a few light-seconds out, you could see roiling flesh the color and brightness of a lit furnace where hot gas should be, and too bad for you: at such a distance you would be easily grabbed by a swelling, burning, diligent pseudopod. And you would be grabbed: if The Betelgeuse liked anything, it—or they, nouns are awkward, too—if The Betelgeuse liked anything, it liked to eat. That was what had happened to the star that used to be there, and to the planets that used to be around the star, and to the developing civilization that was on the fourth of the planets there, and its little moon, too.

But don’t worry! If you’re reading this on Earth, and you might be, considering the language this is written in, The Betelgeuse is remarkably little danger. Not because your little blue world and its little yellow sun and all the other little planets and moons and asteroids and comets and trans-Neptunian-objects and that quietly advanced civilization on Oberon that you don’t know about yet (you’ll like them, they know how to cure your cancers through meditation); not because these places wouldn’t be a nice snack to The Betelgeuse, but because The Betelgeuse is lazy and hasn’t noticed you yet. And probably won’t. For a while. They could be there in your space, eating your dudes in less than a second—far less, for The Betelgeuse aren’t really from around here, “here” meaning your eleven dimensions. The Betelgeuse could be in your star system in negative time, they could arrive in your past, and don’t bother fretting over temporal paradoxes—that’s for your kind, you silly eleven-dimensional critters.

They shuffled like fire and unlike fire, and they were restless. Every point in the universe was equally near and could be reached at any point in time, and The Betelgeuse was—were, I’m sorry, this is hard to say—The Betelgeuse is/was/were/will be hungry, and The Queen needed her favorite daughter back from her exile on 19th century Earth, where she was happily married and serving as the Sheriff of Windless Gulch, a town made up of a Sheriff’s office, a post office, two saloons, and eighteen families who were all in the microbrewery business. It was mostly a boring job, when you weren’t shooting those damn Kollithi lizards (a Kollithi lizard would skin a Frenchman and wear him just to get within tongue-lashing distance of a barrel of hops—it’s not a pretty sight, my friend). And that, if you were wondering, is why Not-Blink came to Earth: because the Queen needed her favorite daughter back, and e-mail is too impersonal.

Random Michelle K said...

Shit. I got nuttin' right now.

Plus? Time to go to the gym.

Anonymous said...

The thing is - it's spawning all these great tangents that deserve better exposure than 17th spot in a comment thread. :) But I'll go with whatever the leaders of this here expedition suggest.

Nathan said...

Damn you Eric,

I'm trying to assemble some of that there "assembly required" furniture from Target. How am I supposed to keep track of dowel 'd' and spacer 'rr' if I'm here reading this stuff.

Back to work, Nathan.

Anonymous said...

I can't post this on our site because I don't want to detract from Bryan's new chapter - so you get your space hooker tale here, buried in the comment thread:

Sophie from Shinola: Streetwalker

Not-Sophie felt consciousness return; awareness fizzed along its circuits as a reboot restored power and sanity to her damaged hardware and software.

It inventoried the injuries. Then it reinforced and regrew several ribs and healed its mechanical heart and lungs. It reconstituted several vertebrae from chips & powder, knitting the spinal cord back together as it went. Finally, it snapped a knee and hip joint back into place. Slowly, carefully, it levered itself into a standing position, stretched, and clicked everything into alignment.

The blast had disoriented not-Sophie, and it didn't recognize the current dingy, trash-strewn alley. It carefully walked toward the busy street, repairing tears in its skin and regrowing hair and teeth with each step.

Standing on the noisy corner, watching dilapidated, hydrocarbon-fueled vehicles stream by, it made some adjustments. Lighter, longer hair. Bold makeup, with black-circled eyes and a crimson mouth. Bigger mammary glands, cantilevered up… and out. Longer, more flexible legs. And a black latex minidress and with stiletto heels.

It'd need some cash – and some information – to get off this planet. The oldest profession was the easiest way to make contact with the local ruling class.

Not-Sophie sauntered to the curb, stuck out a hip, and configured its face in a provocative expression. Watching the vehicles roar by, it assessed the natives inside. Some studiously avoided looking at it. Some leaned out their windows, whistled and shouted. And some talked endlessly into electronic devices strapped to their ears, held burning cylinders of plant material, drank hot cups of bitter black stimulant – even all three at once. It wanted one of these last types, preferably one that sat in the back seat and had a driver.

Finally, one of those multi-tasking ones, a male, slowed. Distracted, he spoke into the electronic earpiece, "Hold on, I'm about to lose signal… can't hear you…" and then clicked a button and looked up. And down. And back up again, but never quite met not-Sophie's eyes. "Hey baby, would you like to take a ride?"

Not-Sophie purred, "Sure, big man, are you going to take good care of me?"

The man bared his teeth, and pulled a thick roll of the local currency from his jacket pocket.

"400 to go around the world, or just 200 for a rocket job." Not-Sophie didn't know much about the local currency or slang, but hoped that wasn't wildly out of line.

He showed even more teeth. "That's a bargain. Done! Climb in." He opened the door.

It nodded and stepped in and past the man, brushing its mammary glands across the man's face – and fingertips across his lap - as it settled into the far side of the seat.

The man pressed a button, and a window slid up between the back seat and the driver. He hit a series of switches, and all the windows surrounding them darkened until they were nearly opaque. One final click, and nondescript music filled the air.

Not-Sophie pressed close, put its crimson mouth to the man's ear, whispered, "What do you need?" as it exhaled a cloud of interrogation nanites. As those penetrated the skin and sped to the brain, not-Sophie loosened the strip of cloth tied around the man's neck, unbuttoned his shirt, and shot a long, thin needle out from under her fingernail into his jugular, completing the feedback loop.

The man sagged and he began to drool as not-Sophie started tearing through his thoughts.

Hopefully not-Sophie could find what it needed, and then it would use the wad of currency to secure a seat on the next shuttle to the space station.

Anonymous said...

Too funny, Eric, I had pronoun challenges too, but for entirely different reasons.

Great interlude, nice mix of grandiosity and humor. :)

mattw said...

Stupid business outing keeping me from the computer all day, missing all the fun. That is all so awesome. This whole experience has been a blast so far and it just keeps getting better.

Anonymous said...

Bryan just pointed out to me that Sophie Station Hotel is where Sophie and Blink stay when they're in Fairbanks.

He can't post from work so I thought I'd pass it along. :)

Nathan said...

You guys have all lost your minds.

Now, I have to go read Bryan's official entry.

Random Michelle K said...

"Yer shittin' me," said the Sheriff. "She had to send your inexperienced ass all the way out here to find me because she didn't think it was right to pick up the damned phone and call? I swear The Queen and England's Queen Victoria have a hell of a lot in common."

Not-Blink looked slightly guilty. "I... er... wouldn't know. I've spent most of my time here as a horse. Not much of a chance to meet queens out on the range." Not-Blink paused and thought for a moment. "Though I did, on occasion, hear about Queen Victoria. This one hand kept going on and on about her. Unfortunately, it was mostly about her gowns and clothes. So I suppose I really don't know that much, except for the fact that the gown she wore to her birthday party was 'absolutely stunning.'"

"I reckon we got that type around here as well," the Sheriff said. "Dandies they're called elsewhere I believe."

"I'll have to take your word for it," said not-Blink.

"Anyway, I figger we'd best be high tailin' it back home. The Queen isn't known for her patience."

Not-Blink visibly paled.

"Well, let's head to the homestead. I got some things I gotta take care of before we go."

"I thought you said The Queen wasn't very patient?" said not-Blink.

"Well, it's took you more'n a year to find me, right?"

Not-Blink nodded solemnly.

"Then I figger she want wait a little bit longer while I go say goodbye to my wife and put my affairs in order."

The Sheriff's wife, Lil, was a handsome woman. Not pretty really, but one of those women who became beautiful as they aged. During dinner The Sheriff broke the news to her. Blink was surprised at how calmly Lil took the news, but then it seemed that the Sheriff had been preparing her for something like this.

"It looks like the old cuss finally died," he told Lil. "I don't know how long I'll be gone, but I'll be damned if I'll drag you into that nest of vipers. I reckon yer set up fine here. You know where the cash is hidden. Don't let Bart the grocery take advantage of you--he's a cheap bastard but fair if you call him on it."

With that, he pushed his chair back, stood up, and headed to the back room to get his pack. Lil waited by the door for him.

"If I don't come back, you'll know what happened to me. Just get along as best you can," then he grabbed her and gave her a kiss of such passion that not-Blink had to turn away in embarrassment. Must be something about this human body, he thought.

Then they were out the door.

Once they were about a mile down the road and out of sight of everyone, the Sheriff no longer reached into his bag and pulled out the transporter. It was in good shape, considering how long he'd been on this planet.

"You ready?" he asked not-Blink?

Not-Blink nodded, and then the Sheriff no longer pressed the button to send them home.

Nathan said...

First of all, we're clearly a group with piss-poor impulse control.

Second, "no longer?" Huh?
Should I read that as Sheriff-no-longer?

Random Michelle K said...

Yeah, I was debating back and forth as to whether it should be before or after, hyphenated or not, but I got distracted by the story and never went back and checked.

Feel free to berate me though, Mr. Heroine. ;)

Eric said...

Oh yeah, blame us, Mr. "Can't wait for my turn to come around and won't follow the rules I made up." You started this little detour, ya bum!


Awesome work Jeri and Michelle!

Nathan said...

Hey, I just had an idea I felt like writing down. And telling the world about. And...stuff. I didn't tell the rest o-you-lemmings you had to follow me off the cliff.

::Huuuuuge Grin::

Eric said...

Lemmings, eh? It was probably some kind of scent marker you left going over the cliff--which means you ought to know what my defense is going to be.

Mmm-hm, that's right:

I was just following odors.

Nathan said...

I'm pretty sure you're required to dis-obey illegal odors.

Tom said...

Yay, the odor of those puns drew me right in. And on the way I lapped up the new not-Sophie tales. Umm, tastes good!

The Multi-Dimensional Sophie-verse. Anything can (and does) happen (and then didn't). Where must becomes didn't and don't becomes history. Follow a story thread, or stick a new one on sideways or backwards. If you can't follow the story, don't have come here. It's All Good!