Star Maker, June 17, 2022

This Show Case features three pieces submitted in response to our nineteenth Writing Prompt: Star Maker. You can see responses to each prompt in the drop down menu for this page. Try an item. They are all delicious. We hope they stimulate your mind, spirit, and urge to write. Maybe they will motivate you to submit a piece for our next prompt, which you can find on the Show Case home page.

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Of Rakes and Snakes and Honey Cakes

by Mimi Speike

Sha-Sha, dressed as a harem girl for a costume ball. She loved this look. She hated her ugly nostrils, and concealed them behind a gossamer veil, simultaneously framing her fine eyes.

“Well now!” said Sly.

“Indeed!” said John Dee.

“What do we do next?”

“Into the palace with you,” said Dee. “Elizabeth loves novelties. She loves theatrics. She loves her dogs, her horses, her dwarves, her fools, and most of all, her monkey, a curiosity gifted to her by the Elector of Saxony.”

“I heard of it back in Haute-Navarre,” said Sly. “Anything to do with–the English Whore, they called her–was a popular topic of conversation.”


FYI: This piece is part of a series of novellas. Previously: Sly has uncovered a plot against Queen Elizabeth masterminded by a powerful and devious man. The scoundrel is her lifelong best friend. Sly is a cat. Who on earth is going to listen to him, much less believe him? 

John Dee believes him. They will try to protect their Queen from one who has lusted to be Prince Consort from their earliest interaction. Both had been in real danger of losing their heads during the reign of Elizabeth’s sister Queen Mary; Elizabeth never forgot that Dudley had befriended her during that traumatic time. 

Fond of her childhood companion, she became infatuated with him as she matured. She would neither marry him nor give him up, enough to unhinge anyone, especially a proud man totally beholden to his tormentor financially. 


“As Her Majesty’s Royal Astrologer,” said Dee, “I have freedom of movement at court, in certain circumstances. How do we set you up so as to come and go unhindered? You must be the eyes and ears of this operation, invading privy areas from which I am barred. Here’s the stumbling block: Elizabeth does not care for cats.” 

“An all-too-common attitude. You, sir, are the exception.”

“The fact that you are my close companion–the court is a-chatter over it, your behavior at my last séance guarantees that–does us no favor. I am assumed to be a supreme master of the dark arts, and your shenanigans did nothing to correct that misconception.

“In our favor: Elizabeth’s newest obsession, the monk, does as she will. The court is required to pronounce her antics adorable. I’m going to throw every farthing I can spare at you. You will be in the forefront of fashion, dressed as grandly as any Lord. 

“Elizabeth loves balls, at which Aiesha is obliged to dance with a dwarf, the only partner close to her in stature. Ned, regarding her as his chief competitor for Her Majesty’s attention, does his best to make a graceful female–propelling branch to branch in trees during her infancy has furnished her with superb coordination–seem a buffoon. Do you dance, my friend? I expect not. You’ll have lessons.” 

Sly frowned. “I do not yearn to jig, but if I must, I must.”

“You cannot dance barefoot. You must be fashionably shod, in a silken bootie.”

Sly groaned. “Boots are difficult for me. I love the look of them, but to get about in them in any useful way is next to impossible for me. I possessed several pairs in Haute-Navarre. I wore them on formal occasions, in my capacity as a member of the Royal Archers, King Jakome’s Household Guard. Standing for inspection, I was supported by my good friends, Igon and Eder Zendegi.”

“Perhaps a boot-spat would do you. And you’ll have a cane with which to steady yourself upright. A cane with a silver mouse-head-grip. That has to endear you–Dee emits a girlish squeal, How precious!–to a giddy group, the Maids of Honor. 

“Those youngsters share Elizabeth’s suite of rooms. They’re been sent to court to catch a noble husband, not to mingle freely with randy courtiers; they are closely supervised. They attend to the Queen’s personal needs and are given instruction in the graces a well-born female must have. It is an unexciting existence. Charm them and they’ll beg to have you lodged with them; you will be a much-appreciated diversion. Dudley resides just down the hall. You’ll be well positioned to encroach there. That’s one strategy.

“Know who else is likely to fall for you? The monk! Play up to her. Shower her with flowers, sweets. She’s a demon for sweets, and particularly fond of honey-cakes. I’ll carry a slice on me at all times. Ask and you shall receive a beribboned parcel to bestow on your sweetheart. And she will be your sweetheart. I peg you for a slick with the females. You’re a lady killer, or I’ll roast He-Who1 and we’ll make a merry meal of him.”

“I was a bit of a scamp in my younger years,” admitted Sly. 

“I bet you were! I bet you’re one still, on occasion! Sha-Sha has a taste for handsome rakes in addition to honey-cakes. I rely on you to act that role to perfection. 

“That imp, a coquette if ever there were one, has conceived a grand passion for none other than our disgruntled suitor. She climbs into his lap at every opportunity. He encourages it, has his fun of it. ‘Here’s one who would have me to husband,’ he cracks, ‘though her charming mistress will not.’ Yourself strutting cock o’ the walk as Dudley does, she’ll go for you, a more attainable target. All grand ladies have their beau. She feels her lack of an admirer keenly. 

“Attach yourself to Aiesha. Escort her about, and most especially to Dudley’s chamber; she intrudes there frequently. While the lovers frolic, search for incriminating documents. If you’re caught at it, what harm? Who in his right mind would suspect a cat? I will see to it that your part in a triumph will be well advertised. I will make you a star,2 shining bright in tale and rhyme for all eternity.”


1. Dee’s pet raven, that lends his séances considerable atmosphere. Sly despises him. 

2. The use of the word “star” to indicate a singular individual dates to the Middle Ages. 

A Short Lesson in Linguistics

by Boris Glikman

During the Medieval Ages there lived an illustrious scientist and inventor who, after much thought, came to the conclusion that there were far too many stars and planets crowding up the sky and that the heavens would look much better with a lot less of them. 

He also realised that the lives of people on Earth were intractably complicated and unpredictable, because of the myriad stars and planets all exerting their own particular and often conflicting astrological influences upon mankind. This made forecasting the future nearly impossible and caused prophecies, divinations and horoscopes to be wildly inaccurate. With only a few celestial objects in the sky, existence would be so much more orderly and the flow of human affairs so much smoother. 

And so this inventor-scientist applied all of his prodigious mechanical talents to the construction of a special weapon that could be used to shoot down heavenly bodies.

As an added bonus, when the gunned-down stars and planets landed on Earth, he dissected them and exhaustively analysed their inner structure in his laboratory, thus gaining invaluable knowledge which greatly advanced the field of astronomy. Once finished with his investigations, the scientist filed them carefully into his special astral album, like precious stamps and coins.

And that’s how the phrase “shooting stars” originated. Initially this phrase referred to the actual deed of gunning down stars, but over time its meaning shifted to refer to those falling stars that have been shot down.

Even to the present day, we continue to see stars falling from the sky, for they are the ones that have finally succumbed to the wounds inflicted by the astronomer’s gun hundreds of years ago.

Et Ego Quoque

by S.T. Ranscht

Photo credit: David Clode,

24 responses to “Star Maker, June 17, 2022”

  1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Mimi – You weave history and fantasy into a delightfully mischievous cloth.

    Boris – Yours is as likely an explanation of the artwork as anyone might conceive.

    Thank you both for your unique contributions!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Boris Avatar

      Thank you Susan, appreciate your feedback!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. mimispeike Avatar

      I have a hell of a good time doing it.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. GD Deckard Avatar

    Of Rakes and Snakes and Honey Cakes is so well written that once again, I have to inquire, “When will you publish!?”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. GD Deckard Avatar

    OKAY I admit it. I love that image with A Short Lesson in Linguistics. I’m also keen on the accompanying text -one of the finest anecdotes ridicules that I’ve read. Both present images that are hard to shake.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Boris Avatar

      Thanks GD. The painting for this particular story is by Vladimir Kush, an artist whose surreal paintings have inspired many of my stories. Just so you know, most of my ekphrastic stories have been inspired by surreal images that I come across by chance online. My interpretations of the images are most probably not the same as what the artist intended to convey by them, but I never let that worry me as I use the paintings just as the starting point for my inspiration and then create whole stories that often goes far beyond what the paintings depict.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. GD Deckard Avatar

        ekphrastic. A vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined. From the Greek.

        OKAY, I like that. No more referring to your work as anecdotes ridicules. It’s ekphrastic.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Boris Avatar

          GD, I don’t really mind what you call them, just as long as there is no cussing involved.

          Liked by 2 people

  4. GD Deckard Avatar

    Ha! Now, there are images upon images! And I too enjoyed them all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      I’m fascinated by the way our brains work. Here, a word inspired a story that sent me searching for an image, but would that image have inspired the same story without the word?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. GD Deckard Avatar

        Ask Boris. It’s kinda his genre.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Boris Avatar

          For me personally, I can say for certain that if I didn’t come across certain images, I would never have written the stories that were inspired by them. Even though the paintings usually serve only as the initial point of inspiration, nevertheless, without that initial inspiration, the idea for the story would never have come to me.

          Liked by 2 people

      2. victoracquista Avatar

        Is not a picture worth a thousand words?

        Liked by 2 people

  5. mimispeike Avatar

    I wrote this without researching monkeys and honey. I threw in ‘honey cakes’ at the very last minute, looking for a catchy title.

    My ass has been saved. Google says:

    “A variety of monkeys and apes eat honey. Baboons and macaques, for example, use their hands and mouths to harvest honey from the nests of stingless bees.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. GD Deckard Avatar

      Does Sha-Sha know we can see her nostrils?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. mimispeike Avatar

        I created her portrait so you can see them. At the costume ball she will draw the veil across them.

        She loves to dress as a flamenco dancer also. A rose between her teeth helps to distract from the nose.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. mimispeike Avatar

    Boris, very amusing. And you have reminded me it’s time to explore a huge work on Astrology I’ve had for ten years, that was written in the eighteenth century. I need to start absorbing information that will allow me to give John Dee a believable dusting of astrological wackiness.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Boris Avatar

      Thank you Mimi. This story was inspired by the painting that is included with it. It is by the artist Vladimir Kush.

      John Dee would be a fascinating character to explore.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. mimispeike Avatar

    Sue, lovely! And so graceful.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thank you for your gracious feedback, Mimi.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Boris Avatar

    Sue, I enjoyed your charming little surreal story. Funnily enough, a few years back, I wrote down an idea for a story that is somewhat similar. In my story, sea stars are stars that fell from the sky and adapted to the marine environment.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thank you, Boris. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Here we are, continuing our ancestors’ urges to create fanciful explanations for the universe in which we find ourselves.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Boris Avatar

    Belated thanks for making stars out of us, writers, Sue!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    I am happy to help provide a place for you all to shine, Boris!


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