Welcome to SPFBO 6 and my brand new feature, Party with the Stars! Have you ever wondered what might happen if you could throw a party of your choice and not only could you invite your MC(s) but other literary figures as well? In this feature, I ask you to imagine exactly that scenario and some more. Meet Rainbow Maccabre and let’s get the party started!
aka The Author
I’m thirty two, from Nottinghamshire England. As well as being an author, I’m waiting for my furlough to end so I can go back to the advertisement factory.
I’ve been writing on and off for around seven years. I was in Rockstarlit Book Asylum’s group last year and did terribly. It took writing a second book to understand a lot of the problems in my first book. I should have never published it in that state, let alone enter it into a competition. I’m hoping this year’s book is gonna lead to my redemption.
I’m probably being too honest, but who cares.
aka The MC(s)
Shereve is covered in grey feathers. She commands the army, shouting orders through the beak on her face. An extra set of arms stretch from her abdomen, where a normal ornisapients wings would be. Growing up in a world filled with sky, without the ability to fly like everyone else, left her with a severe phobia of anything airborne. Because of her avoidance, she’s been diagnosed with OCD.
Paisley grew up in a violent household and her salvation is tainted with morbidity. She’s a blessed, meaning she has magic abilities, some of which are secret even from the agents protecting her. Her tail is so big, she struggles to keep it off the ground.
Before the events of ‘Political Nightmare’, Jats’ path in life was to make the world a better place through social networking and pen pushing. His original name was Chassie Jatson, later substituting Chassie for Charlie during his transition. He’s known for being a supporter and defender of gay and trans rights.
My other two characters are quite happy spending time with their individual crews. Paisley, on the other hand, could do with someone to talk to. I’m gonna invite Granny Weatherwax to come and have a chat.
The Main Attraction
The main attraction is the only reason this party can exist in the first place. People die at different times in their life, but here, people come as who they were when they were at their happiest. It’s an afterlife party: that’s the attraction.
Through the day there’s gonna be performances from various stars popping in for their last performances. The beer garden outside’s big enough for the biggest bouncy castle you’ve ever seen, along with benches to seat fifty. Inside, there’ll be a full buffet refreshed throughout the day, enough alcohol to drown England, games arcades, a ping pong table and last of all (Paisley’s idea), all the waiters are tiny mice dressed like pirates. It makes it awkward, people having to bend all the way to the ground to pick drinks off the trays, but the cuteness makes it worthwhile.
Heart To Break by Kim Petras
My characters are very impressed with our world’s music, Jat’s especially. He wants to promote trans artists in the entertainment industry. He’s dedicating it to his husband.
Fix You by Coldplay
Paisley thinks this song represents how she felt about Mommy.
Colonel Bogey March by Kenneth J. Alford
Shereve likes a good beat she can march to.
Tubthumping by Chumbawamba
Jats’ friend, Keabs, gets to choose a song. She’s not normally fond of rock, but she loves the lyrics to ‘Tubthumping – Chumbawamba’. It reminds her of kicking addiction to the curb.
Beat of My Drum by Nicola Roberts
‘Nicola Roberts – Beat of My Drum’ speaks about overcoming the comments of naysayers to become a star. It suits Shereve; that’s why she’s choosing it.
aka Who Let the MC(s) Loose?
Jats spends the first few hours shaking hands, making sure people know he’s here. Keabs with her saggy, baggy cheek of grey fur, catches his eyes throughout the day, each time mimicking a games controller in her hands. Eventually, they escape the party and set up a games console in the basement. His husband, Kess, texts him updates about the party, along with promises for their personal afterparty. He spends the rest of the party beating Keabs on ‘Tooth ‘n’ claw’ and receiving her real life beatings as consequence.
Shereve hogs the ping pong table. Her win streak lasts for an hour and half, beaten by her own exhaustion. As she recuperates near the window, laughter and tweets meet her ears, and she can see her chicklings bouncing on the yellow castle outside. It’s so ginormous, it obscures the sky. Her husband, Hucknall, and Hyacinthe the house carer stand at the side, keeping eyes on the young ones. Flyger purrs and nudges her leg, his white wings wrapped tight around his back. She sits in peace, waiting for her husband to return so they can dance.
Paisley goes from person to person, sharing life stories, pouring her heart out, and crying every few minutes. Mommy eventually calms her down. They find an empty room upstairs and use it to watch Wishknee films and eat chocolate. It’s like all the bad things never happened.
Rainbow Maccabre submitted Political Nightmare to SPFBO. You can connect with the author here:
To read about more parties and to follow our process in SPFBO 6, please visit my SPFBO 6 Phase 1 page!
Excerpt from Political Nightmare by Rainbow Maccabre
CHAPTER 1: SPECIAL
1: Shereve’s Present
The pain Shereve had gone through squeezing out her eggs still throbs even now, weeks later. Bladder on the verge of bursting, there’s no point going to the toilet. She’ll only need it again the second her arse leaves the seat.
If only she’d been born a mamasape. When they squeeze ‘em out, they receive a readymade child to snuggle.
She should be out with her recruits, training the next generation of dragon fighters. Instead, she’s stuck on maternity, babysitting eggs. Eight of them rest on the tangled straw nest. In a few years’ time, the children inside’ll be running and racing around the house. She should enjoy this peace while she can.
She’s been having a recurring dream, this past week. In it, her heart tickles, and her chest explodes, light turning the eggs into powder.
Professor Clinus, her psychiatrist, knows about the dream. He thinks it means she’ll birth a Blessed. It’s a bit of a stretch, if you ask her. She’ll just be happy to have eight healthy kids.
“You know what they say about a watched pot”, says Hucknall, his black feather beard jiggling.
“I’m sick of staring at them, though, I really am. I wanna hear their first tweets. I wanna know if any have wings or if they take after me.”
“I hope they do take after you.” He places an arm around her, tickling the feathers on her neck. “They’d be the most beautiful ornis the world’s ever seen.” She giggles and he pecks her cheek.
They click their beaks together, clacking tongues. Her heart swells, twanging pain of her groin an afterthought.
From the nest comes tiny scratching sounds, paper scribbles. “Did you hear that?”
Rising to his feet he yells, “Hyacinthe, you’re needed. They’re hatching.”
On the biggest, grainiest egg, the size of her head, a crack creeps its way down. She wills it to go faster.
The egg next to it sheds a triangle, one of their little fingers poking through to say hello.
The House Carer, Hyacinthe, has things under control, gold feathers shining pure white where sunlight hits her, the shortest beak Shereve’s ever seen. She dusts away the specks, checking the hatchlings’ airways.
Hucknall hugs Shereve from behind. She grips his arms and sways side to side, dancing to the song of birth, sang by her very own chicklings.
An egg at the back… it hasn’t moved. Not once.
A bristle against her forearm, a new-born dangling from Hyacinth’s hands. “Do you wanna hold your first hatched, Commander?”
She clutches her child, weight of a pebble. Their skin looks so delicate without feathers, beating hearts wrapped in pink tissue. She can’t wait to see what colour their feathers’ll be. She’s hoping green like her dad, or black like Hucknall. They’ll probably be grey like her, though. Grey’s boring.
She’s trying her best not to worry about the uncracked egg, but as children are passed to her for their first cuddles, it’s difficult to take her eyes away from it. She should be cuddling the chick inside that egg, too. It’s missing all the fun, this special moment.
A dark line spreads down the egg’s centre, then disappears: a trick of the light. She yells, “Close those bleeding curtains, Hyacinthe.” She needs to focus, remain strong and calm, like on the battlefield.
Hucknall’s grip tightens. He’s probably scared she’ll run over and crack the egg open herself. And honestly, without him here to stop her…
“Shhhhh, don’t worry. Some hatch later than others.” He strokes his finger across her cheek.
Picturing his finger in her mouth, she clenches her beak as hard as she can. Why does he always have to patronise her!
She walks forward, shrugging his arm off her shoulder when he tries to hold her back.
She places all her palms together. “Please wake up, baby, please. I’m begging.” Eyes closed, she descends to her knees. If she can’t make sure that all her children hatch, then what good is she as a mother? She’s staying right here, in this spot, until her baby wakes up, no matter how long it takes.
2: Shereve’s Past
It didn’t matter that her side felt stabbed by blades every time she raised her knee, or if her sweat soaked feathers made her arms thrice the weight. Shereve kept going, trainers slapping the floor, using the strength in all four arms to propel herself forward like there was a dragon chasing her down the dirt path.
Flying wasn’t everything. She could move faster on two legs than anyone at her school with wings. This was ‘her proving it’.
She didn’t look up, keeping her attention on the path. Almost at the end, she did her best to pound her feet faster, pouncing to give one last rocket shot to the end.
She stretched to place her toe on the chalk, and relinquished every muscle, letting the momentum bring her to a slow stop.
The crowd above her applauded and tweeted, but she daren’t look up. She hadn’t wanted to see the other competitors, flying up there. For all she knew, they already finished ages ago, leaving her in last place.
She slumped to the floor and leant backwards on her top two hands, massaging her calf with her lower hands. Someone fluttered towards her. Nan swished her way down, beak bent in a smile. Higher up, rows of chairs sat on a stage made of floatwood, creaking against the wind. Wheezing, she looked away, at the floor. That stage was too heavy to be floating above her head!
“Good on you, Shereve. You’ve done it. You’ve got first place.”
She leaned forward and clenched her fists, grinning. “I’d stand up and give you a cuddle…”
“Well if you can’t come up here, I’ll have to come to you. As usual.” Nan sat, wrapping her arm around Shereve’s shoulder. “I can see some of the other competitors. They must be at least a minute or two behind.”
She refused to look up.
“I was hoping you’d grow out of this”, said Nan.
“Grow out of what?”
“Your fear of the sky. It’s not natural. I don’t understand why we can’t just get you a swan, or an eagle so you can fly with us. You can’t spend your life with your feet on the ground.”
Shereve sighed. They’d had this conversation so many times, she didn’t even care anymore. If only there was another four-armed orni with no wings. She’d get them to explain what it felt like to be in the sky, unable to control how you moved.
“I know you don’t like having this conversation-”
“I’m sick of it, Nan!” She tugged herself away from Nan’s arm. “I’ve just came in first, for crying out loud. This is supposed to be a happy moment for me, but you’ve gone and ruined it!”
She stood and Nan followed suit. “I don’t mean to nag, but I don’t like seeing you by yourself all the time. Maybe you’d have more friends if-”
“I’ve already got friends. Just because I like spending time alone doesn’t mean I’m sad or anything. I just like being alone.”
“But maybe you wouldn’t like being alone so much if you learn to live in the sky, with us. I’ve still got those wings I’ve sewn for you if you’d rather ride without an animal.”
She clenched her beak so much, a chip flew off its end.
Nan grabbed Shereve’s arm. “Don’t you snap your beak at me, young lady.”
She wrenched away and squared up to Nan, yelling, “That’s it. Enough. I’m tired of telling you time and time again. You’ll never get me to fly. Not air polo, not cloud surfing, nothing! So why don’t you get it into your thick skull: I’m not interested in flying. End of.”
If she looked at Nan’s face for one second longer, she’d have had to slap her one. She turned and stomped away.
An apple lump bulged in her side, near her kidneys. Stumbling, she dropped into sitting position, clutching her strained muscle.
Nan’s hand massaged alongside Shereve’s, loosening the knots. “You really have put yourself out, today, haven’t you?”
She couldn’t think of a reply. Too busy getting her breath back.
3: Shereve’s Present
She jerks awake on her side in the straw, a thump of guilt when she realises, she’d fallen asleep. What if this egg hatched and she wasn’t awake to see it?
“You’re not gonna hatch, though, are you?” It’s been way more than an hour. The window’s pitch black; the rest hatched before sundown. There’s nothing she can do but face it. She’s laid a rotten egg.
She strokes her palm across it. How should she act? There’s nothing left to fight for. She can’t exactly be angry, because there’s no one to be angry at.
She tries her best to force tears, keeping her eyes open. It’s not very respectful, finding out your child’s unborn and not spilling a tear. She doesn’t seem to have any in her. She doesn’t remember the last time she cried.
There is one thing she can do. It’s not much. She tries her best to think of a unisex name, one that she likes the sound of. “Stace. Your name’s Stace.” She splays her palms either side Stace’s egg and lifts. It’s lighter than a cuppa.
She cradles it atop her bosom, closes her eyes and imagines Stace listening. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you, Stace.” What she says next, she’s lost count of how many times she’d said it before on the battlefield: “Your place can neither be filled nor forgotten.”
The room brightens, a sun atop her eyelids. The egg vibrates, chattering her jaw.
“Whoops!” She drops the egg.
She steps back head feathers clenched in fists. The egg radiates light, bouncing in prisms on the walls, shining on Hucknall’s beard as he sleeps. She can’t see any of her other children.
She kicks him awake, shouting, “Our child. Our child.”
He stretches and shields his eyes. “Morning already?”
“No. Our child”, she shouts. “It’s Blessed! I think it’s Blessed.” How the hell did Professor Clinus figure this out from a dream?
Hucknall gasps and stands, the fastest she’s ever seen him move. “It’s bright, I’ll tell you that.”
She says, “I think we’re about to meet the next greatest warrior.”
“I doubt it”, says Hucknall. “If he’s Blessed, he’ll more likely be a healer. Or a sorcerer.”
“What makes you so sure ‘he’ll’ be a boy?”
Hucknall taps an index on his nose. “Instinct.”
The light fades and smoke rises, like glowing metal hitting water. The eggshell crumbles to dust, revealing two flailing baby arms, and two… “It’s got four arms!” An extra set sprouting from its ribcage, higher than her extra set on her abdomen.
Stace coughs and tweets. She rushes over and scoops him up in her own two lower arms, straining their connection to her abdomen. With her two upper arms attached at her shoulders, she plucks the shell away from her Stace’s beak. “This is the only one like me.” Its eyes have a silver ring around the outside, just like hers. It’ll be difficult not to favourite this one. “I hope it is a boy. It’s hard being a woman in the army.”
“What are you complaining about?” Hucknall asks. “You were and still are the best warrior in all of Kood.”
“And I’ll remind everyone of that soon enough.” She lets it nip at her fingers. “Maybe, one day, we’ll fight alongside.
CHAPTER 2: BLESSED
1: Paisley’s Past
Every evening, Paisley’d heard the lion growling as it carried Dad Dad into the garage. She’d always wait by the door to greet him. He’d pick her up and spin her like a helicopter. He’d watch all her cartoons with her, drawing her favourite characters for her to put on her bedroom wall. And every night, he’d read her favourite story, But Where Did the Moon Go? She’d giggle at all the different voices and faces he made.
This day, she worried she wouldn’t make it back to greet him. In a field near the forest, her and Mommy picked strawberries.
Neither of them had watches on. Stars blinked through the swirling grey sky. “Mommy, if we’re not back on time, we might hurt Dad Dad’s feelings.”
“Oh, he’ll survive”, said Mommy, voice smooth as bedtime milk. “He’s being an idiot, lately.”
“But you said all men are supposed to be idiots.”
“They’re not ‘supposed’ to be idiots, darling. They just ‘are’.” She looked at the sky. “You’re right, though. Come along, lady.”
They trundled, fields of squelchy soil caking her wellingtons. Strawberry juice stuck the fur on the back of her fingers together.
They made it out of the forest’s entrance, across the road from her house. Her brain itched, filled with a crackling, like static on a telly. “What’s that sound, Mommy?”
“I don’t hear anything, darling.”
They stopped, the only sound from the wind rustling the trees. “You must be imagining things, lady”, she said, leading by hand, across the road. “Your hands are filthy.”
She stood in front of a gate that was bigger even than Dad Dad. It clanged open in front of her and she ran down the path to the door.
“Don’t touch that door, not when you’re filthy”, shouted Mommy.
She hid her hands behind her back and tried to lick the strawberry juice from her face.
Inside, she tugged her wellingtons off, and squelched the mud in her hands, sprinkling it onto the floor.
“Come over here, you silly sausage”, said Mommy. She wiped all the mud and strawberry juice off with baby wipes, a bitter taste lingering on the tip of Paisley’s tongue. “What’re you like!”
Dad Dad was already there when she entered the living room. “Welcome home, Dad Dad.”
He kept staring at the telly. He didn’t even say hello.
She walked over to give him a cuddle and was sent backwards. He’d shoved her away and she landed on her bottom.
Her eyes became ouches and she wailed at the top of her lungs. Mommy came in, shouting, “What have you done with her? She’s only four. You can’t hit her like you do me!”
Mommy pulled her into a soft hug and her feelings were a little less hurt, lump in her throat fading.
Dad Dad, still staring at the telly, hadn’t even moved.
“Dad Dad isn’t well at the moment. Let’s stay out of his way, darling.”
She carried her into the kitchen and placed her on the ground. She could see right up Mommy’s nose, a bogey hanging for its life.
Pointing a brush and looking down at her, she said, “Let’s have a look at your tail, lady.”
She tried to hide her tail, but it was bigger than her, and underneath the muck and grass stains, even whiter than her tummy fur. “No, Mommy, I don’t like brushing.”
“Well it wouldn’t get into that state if you stopped dragging it across the floor.”
She woke up on a non-school day and the first thing she remembered was that Dad Dad hadn’t read her a story the night before. She hoped he was feeling better. He normally took her to the park when she wasn’t at school. Only when he was in a good mood, though.
She lay in bed waiting for Mommy to come and wake her up. Even though she had a clock in her room, she couldn’t tell the time. It felt like it was late, though. Trotting of hooves went past her house, the sun shining really high in the sky.
She rolled out of bed and stumbled to the door, pacifier still in her mouth. She tried to open the door, but something blocked it. They’d never locked her in her bedroom before, not even when she was still in diapers.
She rattled the knob. She threw her body weight against it. Banging her fists against the varnished wood only made them throb.
Toys! All over her bedroom! All she had to do was play and eventually, someone would come and rescue her.
Every so often, she tapped on the door and shouted, “I want to go out!”
Eventually, she felt hungry, a hand grabbing the inside of her growling stomach. Night cloaked her room and she couldn’t reach the light switch. She lay down next to the door and cried so much, she threw up, bile burning her throat and making her cough. She couldn’t get out to use the toilet and kicked her soiled clothes under the bed. The pee pee made her thighs sting.
A force pushed down on her, bundling her in, enclosing her, smothering her. “It isn’t fair”, she screeched. “It isn’t blooming fair.” She stood, ran to her window, turned, and launched herself at her bedroom door.
In that moment, nothing could stop her going through that door. She was going to yell at Mommy and Dad Dad for hurting her feelings.
Her back hit, the boom of a big bass drum on her lungs. Chair legs screeched on the other side of the door. Wood clattered, and the door opened enough for her to poke fingers through. She pushed, the back of the chair reflecting the moon’s silver. It was too dark to see to the other end of the corridor. And there could’ve been a monster there, watching, waiting, licking its lips. The drool from its lips’d wash her downstairs; she’d drown in a pool of monster spit. Could you imagine?
She clambered over the chair. Her bald palms touching the floor gave a shiver in her fur, coldness creeping up. She toddled as fast as she could, down the stairs and towards the living room.
Mommy lied on the floor, eyes staring directly at the light bulb, a knife poked in her throat.
To read about more parties and to follow our process in SPFBO 6, please visit my SPFBO 6 Phase 1 page!