Starspire

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Chapter 12: The Snow Angel Cone

Bahati awoke to find herself covered in snow up to her neck. She squirmed with both her arms and legs, but found that she could barely move in any direction. “Uh, hello? Is there anyone there?”

Nothing but the howling wind answered.

She glanced in all directions and saw only the swirling flakes, threatening to bury the rest of her. She let out a puff of breath, scattering white powder into the air. She couldn’t believe that she had not noticed her entire body being covered in ice.

The snow whirled in front of her, swirling tighter and forming the hint of a figure in the air. In seconds, the millions of flakes formed a young woman in a flowing white robe. Her frosty hair cascaded down her shoulders and her icy eyes flitted from side to side, like a pair of flakes on the breeze. Above her head floated a pale ring like a pair of braided icicles.

Bahati’s breath froze in her lungs. She had a sinking feeling that she knew what this was. “You’re a snow angel, aren’t you?”

The angel giggled, sounding like a thousand icicles landing on the pavement. “Very good, wizard girl. I’m so glad that you came to visit me on my lonely mountain. Everyone’s so busy chewing on the jungle that they forget my little mountain. No one thinks it’s worth it to travel all the way up here for a snow cone.”

She pointed to the snow in front of Bahati and it took on a bright orange color. “Care to prove them wrong?”

Seeing no alternative, she leaned forward and bit into the colored snow. After only one bite, she was a believer, as her mouth burst with an intense blend of orange and mango. “This is fantastic! I have never tasted such an incredible flavor.”

The angel chuckled again, placing a hand in front of her mouth. “There’s plenty more. Go ahead. Each as much as you like. No shortage of snow.”

Bahati bit into the rest of the edible snow, relishing every flavor-filled bite. Even the unflavored snow tasted mildly sweet.

“Would you like to try another flavor?” asked the snow angel.

“Yes,” said Bahati. “If you don’t mind.”

“Of course not!” cried the angel, twirling about with her arms stretched to the sky. As she twirled, a patch of blue appeared to his left. Bahati tried it and found it even tastier than the first, a mix of blueberries and blackberries.

“So,” said Bahati, displaying his blue-stained face and teeth. “I appreciate the snow cones, but I was wondering if you might be ready to let me out of this snow bank. I have somewhere I really need to be.”

The snow angel’s laughter returned louder than before, whipping up the flurries around her into a gale. “No, no, silly wizard. Not before you have listened to my concert. I do get so lonely up here, and there is no one to listen to me sing.”

A single tear formed at the corner of the snow angel’s eye, but froze to her cheek before it could travel off of her face. “Some people, when they hear me sing run away. They eat my delicious snow cones and then leave. How rude!”

Her face contorted and the flying snowflakes bit into Bahati’s face. In a few moments, however, the blizzard subsided and the snow angel took her place on a rock directly in Bahati’s line of sight.

“But you won’t do that, will you silly wizard? I’ll sing all my favorite songs for you, and you will love them, won’t you?”

The sinking feeling in Bahati’s stomach deepened. If most people ran away, they probably had the right idea. Unfortunately, the snow angel now had a captive audience.

The snow angel opened her mouth, and began her warm-ups. Shrill, piercing notes that stung worse than the flying shards of snow whipped around the air, as she sang first one scale and then another, higher and higher. Bahati writhed in her icy prison, wishing she could stuff snow in her ears to muffle the awful sound.

The snow angel had just reached the top of her range and had started to descend when Bahati had an idea. Her brain already felt like it was dissolving into pudding. It took her a few moments to regain her powers of speech. “Uh, excuse me, Miss Snow Angel. I was wondering if I might have another snow cone. They really were the best I’ve ever tasted. Much better than anything in that candy jungle.”

She stopped mid-scale and smiled. “Of course! Why don’t you try this one?”

A purple splotch appeared in front of her and she dug into it with undisguised excitement.

“Another!” she cried, her face beaming, with bits of colored ice running down her chin.

A green one appeared, and then a red, followed by teal, maroon and indigo. She paused only a moment when a yellow one arrived, but soon realized it was as genuine as the others. Her stomach quickly filled with mounds of sugary sweetness, sending her into shivers as much as from the sugar content as the cold. If only she could get her staff free.

She ate on and on, though her stomach protested until she could wiggle the arm that clutched the staff.

Just a bit further.

Finally, the snow angel looked up and displayed all of her icy white teeth. “Well done, silly wizard. You’ve tried every single flavor I know how to make. Now, it is time to sing.”

“Wait!” cried Bahati. “Just one more. I can’t get enough.”

The snow angel placed a hand on her hip and cocked her head to one side. “Where is your mother, young woman? I’m sure she’d be furious if she could see how badly you’ve spoiled your dinner.”

She held the severe expression for a moment, before breaking back into a fit of laughter. “Only kidding. Here, silly wizard, for you, I’ll make a special one.”

The snow angel waved her hand and a brilliant array of colors appeared in a ring around Bahati. Without wasting a moment, Bahati smashed her face into the teal section beside her staff. Her stomach threatening to revolt, she took the final few bites to free her frigid fingers.

“Get ready for the real treat, silly wizard. This is a song my mother used to sing to me.”

The snow angel drew in a large breath and opened her mouth in preparation for the first note.

At the moment, Bahati yanked her staff free and sent the colored snow flying towards the Snow Angel. The Angel threw her hands over her face only a moment before being drenched in saccharine snow.

Knowing that she had only seconds before the Snow Angel recovered, Bahati clambered out of the hole and stumbled on numb feet towards the portal. As she approached, she felt the pull of the portal, drawing her into its inviting, warm embrace.

As she vanished into the starry light, a final shrill note pierced the air, higher than all the rest.

“Why?”

Matt led the way through the darkened tunnel, lit only by an occasional sweet-smelling torch. In the distance came a gentle glow and chatter of voices. Matt tensed himself for the worst. This seemed like the part of the movie where the adventurers accidently stepped on a switch and set off a deadly trap.

“Hm,” muttered Neil as they were getting closer.

“Hm, what?”

“It’s probably nothing, but, do you hear music?”

Matt paused for a moment and listened to the noises coming their way. It was music, and more. Crashes and explosions, running feet. He turned to his dad and lifted one corner of his mouth. “Yeah, but if I didn’t know any better I’d say they are watching…”

“…a movie,” completed Neil.

They stepped forward and found that the hallway ended in large open chamber filled with people. Each person wore a tribal mask and carried a weapon of some sort, laser guns, spears, swords, clubs, hammers and even strange things like a giant wire whisk. However, instead of the typical tiki mask and spear, this tribe wore masks depicting various Quasar Quest characters, and their weapons all looked like movie props.

In the center of the group stood the largest big-screen TV Matt had ever seen. A pair of massive speakers flanked the monster screen, blaring as starships blazed across the starry space. The rest of the room was coated completely in gold leaf, from the gold-plated beanbag chairs, to the gold-plated nacho trays and the gold-plated cup holders.

Astonishingly, his dad’s gaze was not drawn to the plethora of shiny things strewn about the room, but to the glowing screen. He watched for an entire minute without saying a word.

“This…movie,” Matt muttered in awe. “It’s not one of the six original movies.”

“What?” said his dad, squinting at the screen. “Really? Are you sure this isn’t number six?”

Matt shook his head vigorously. “No way. You see those starfighters? They aren’t like anything in the other movies. We’ve got to watch this!”

“No way,” said his dad. “What we’ve got to do is find out how to make that star portal fire back up, or we’ve got a really long walk over to the mountain, and a great, big ‘I told you so’. Is that you want?”

Matt tried his best ‘poor me’ face. “But we’ve just had a long day walking through the jungle. Couldn’t we take even a little break?”

Giving his son a shove towards the door, Neil rolled his eyes. “Just get in there and start looking around. Try not to bug any of the, uh, natives.”

Tycho shook his head and hung back, plugging both ears with his fingers. “I stay here. Too loud.”

“Fine,” said Matt. “We’ll be back in a minute.”

No sooner had Neil entered the threshold, than a hand thrust out in front of them. Neil gave out an involuntary yelp.

“Choose a mask, you must,” said a low, gravelly voice. Neil turned and saw it was a short native dressed in a brown loincloth with a wrinkled face. He held out two masks, one depicting a furry alien, while the other featured a space pirate with a scar across his cheek. He opted for the alien and fastened it over his face with a length of string attached to the back.

Matt found his way through the door and was offered a similar choice. He ended up with the face of a golden robot. Correctly attired, they found their way into the back of the crowd, and seated themselves on a golden beanbag big enough to seat them both.

Matt scanned the room, having to squint against the shine of all the gold. Neil, however, could not resist the draw of the glowing screen and the movie that existed only in his son’s mind.

Matt found that he had to close his eyes once in a while to prevent headaches, but at last, he noticed something that bothered him. He pointed to the TV and leaned in towards his dad. “Hey, dad, do you see a cord coming from that TV? How is it getting power?”

His dad shrugged and made a gesture for him to keep his voice down. “I don’t know, batteries? It’s probably some amazing technology from a galaxy far, far away.”

Before he could think twice about it, Matt slapped his dad on the back of the head. “Wake up, space brain. This isn’t real. There is no Lost Episode 10, or whatever it is. We’ve got to figure this out and get out of here, okay?”

His dad rubbed the spot, but said nothing for a long moment. He studied the TV for the first time, just barely able to take his eyes from the action onscreen. “No, there doesn’t seem to be a plug. And it’s probably Lost Episode 7 by the way. They originally made six movies.”

“Let’s move around to the back to see if we can get a better look. I wouldn’t walk by those speakers. They could probably make you deaf for life.”

He stood and made his way around the edge of the room, trying not to knock over others fans on his way.

While waiting for his ad, Matt realized he was thirsty and glanced around until she found a native wearing an alien mask carrying a tray of drinks. He reached out for one, but the server yanked the tray out of his reach. “Hey, we don’t serve your kind here.”

Matt glanced up at the server incredulously. “What? Couldn’t be alcoholic. We’re all 13, right?”

The server snickered. “No, you’re a robot. Bots have to get their drinks from the greasemonkeys. “

He pointed to a group of actual monkeys that loped around the room carrying trays of cups, wearing black masks with bright yellow eyes. One of the monkeys tripped and a pool of black, sloshy liquid formed in front of him.

“That’s okay. I’ll skip the drink.”

Matt turned to face the TV again and looked for his dad. He was nowhere to be seen. Figuring that he must have gone behind the TV, Matt allowed himself to focus on the screen for a moment. It seemed to be the climax of the film, where a trio of men fought furiously with brightly glowing swords of different colors. They jumped and spun, performing impossible maneuvers in the air and Matt found himself drawn into the intense action.

Suddenly, the villain pulled off an incredible double strike and knocked one of the heroes to the ground. The dark man held his glowing blade to the throat of his fallen victim, seconds away from delivering the killing blow.

With a whoosh, the screen went black. The massive speakers fell silent and an anxious hush fell over the crowd, followed a second later by an uproar as dozens of natives leapt up, brandishing weapons.

Matt gasped as a yellow column of starlight erupted from behind the TV, and he realized what had happened. The state of the art entertainment behemoth had been powered by star magic, and his dad had pulled the plug.

Now, he knew that they had only seconds to make their escape to the roof or be torn limb from limb by a bunch of crazed fan. “Come on, dad,” he muttered. “Sneak out.”

Unfortunately, just at the moment, Neil’s head emerged from the side of the TV to be quickly spotted by a group of greasemonkeys who took up screaming and pointing.

The crowd turned as one and raised their weapons at the saboteur. “Get him!” they cried as one. “Get him!”

Thinking quickly, Matt seized the closest tray of greasemonkey drinks and flung it towards the TV. The glasses exploded, releasing their slippery, black contents into the path of the angry mob. As they rushed towards Neil, they slipped and slid, forming a sticky pile of bodies and masks.

Another native wearing a Doomtrooper mask detached a round metal ball from his belt and lobbed it towards Neil. Matt cupped his hands and yelled. “Dad, look out!”

Neil turned to face the projectile and caught it easily. He chuckled once and tossed the ball once up in the air. “This? It’s a fancy movie prop. See?” He lobbed it back towards Matt, who stepped back from the oncoming object.

Halfway to him, the ball exploded, scattering shrapnel and debris all over the golden chamber. In the chaos, his dad slipped around the edge of room. He reached his son just as some of the natives were starting to recover.

“Do you usually play hot potato with explosives?” Matt screamed.

“Sorry!” he cried. “I really didn’t know…”

A trio of glowing swords buzzed to life behind them, held by the first of the natives who had extracted themselves from the pile.

“I’m assuming those swords aren’t fake either,” said Matt.

“Yeah, run.”

They dashed together towards the exit, bowling over a pair of little furry natives. Tycho, who was still in the entryway, screeched and pointed and Matt ducked just in time to escape a flying sword aimed at his head.

Another metal sphere bounced into the hallway and Tycho was on it in a second, snatching it up and lobbing it back into the room. Matt’s hands flew to his mouth. “No, Tycho. Run!”

His dad yanked on Matt’s arm, “Come on. Remember what Bahati said about Tyler? These…pictures of Tyson are here to protect us!”

To illustrate his point, Tycho flung his body on the next explosive and tossed a third bomb toward the roof near the entryway. The charges exploded simultaneously, creating a cave in that sealed off the entrance.

Matt screamed, but allowed his dad to drag him along.

In a matter of minutes, Matt found himself back on the roof. The light streaming from the star carving now glowed in a brilliant steady stream. They had crashed the party, and thrown the door wide open for escape.

Matt hesitated only a moment before plunging into the stream, taking one last longing glance at the sweetest place in the universe.

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