Good afternoon, ladies and Brian! Most of you are probably having a sad because it’s only Tuesday. Well, not me, suckers! Some of us don’t have to go back to our jobs tomorrow! Or, you know, EVER AGAIN. Some of us get to go back to school next month, but before that happens, have August off to
pack and prepare to move to a different country watch ALL the Olympics!
What better way to celebrate my last day at work than the return of our most disturbingly violent and second-most incestuous series, Effed-Up Fairy Tales. Today, we’ll be looking at a fresh YA take on a classic story about a woman who chops off her own hands to avoid marrying her brother with a hand fetish, and then some other increasingly crazy stuff happens. In fact, it’s too much crazy for one post! I’ll be doing Penta of the Chopped-Off hands over a couple episodes, the way it was always meant to be: as a space western.
Space Cowgirl: A Penta of the Chopped-Off Hands Retelling
“I am too young for this shit,” thought Penta, as she slung her baby across her shoulder and grabbed Saffron’s reins. And to think--just 18 months ago--well, it didn’t do any good to dwell on the past. The angry mob was rapidly approaching, and she had to get to that transport station before they got to her.
Penta frowned as she rode away, wondering what would become of her servants. With her husband away fighting with the resistance, the protection of the ranch was left in her stead. And while she’d never wanted to be married with a baby at age 19, she did love her husband, and this was her home now. Protecting baby Jack was her first priority, but she had started her life on Theta 7 as a servant herself, and shuddered to think what these thugs would do to her friends after she was gone.
There was no time to dwell on this as she heard the pursuing hooves gaining on her. A bullet whizzed by her head. With one hook on the reins, she turned around and shot into the advancing line. The gun fused to her arm may not be great for changing baby diapers, but it sure did make her faster off the draw. Three of the men fell from their horses, and her would-be assassins slowed as their horses reacted to the gunfire. That would buy her a couple of seconds, which was all she needed. Penta ran into the transport station, initiated the teleportation sequence, and then shot out all the controller pads as the countdown started. A rain of gunfire filled the air as half a dozen men stormed the teleportation booth, but at that very moment, the world dissolved around Penta, and she found herself in the transport bay of a large cargo ship.
“Drop your weapons!”
Adjusting to her surroundings, Penta found herself in a similar scene to the one she’d just left. Three men and two ladies pointed blaster guns at her.
“As you can see,” Penta started, nodding to her hands, “I can’t really do that. Also, this gun is controlled telepathically, which makes my trigger response time significantly shorter than yours. So let’s all agree that it’s in both of our interests for me to stay on this ship." And with her hooked hand, she tossed the captain a heavy gold bracelet. “There will be another one of those at the end of this journey, if myself and my son arrive there in one piece.”
The captain lowered his blaster and his crew followed his lead. “Where are you headed?”
“Wherever you are, Captain. Just trying to get my baby and me out of a bit of a tight spot back on Theta 7.” Noting the resistance insignia on his lapel, Penta added, “My husband’s away fighting in the resistance, and in his absence, we were attacked.” The helpless wife-and-baby card was a little harder to play with a pistol and a hook for hands, but it seemed to appease the ship’s crew, nonetheless.
“Alright, there’s a spare bunk in Julie’s room. You can stay there. But any funny business, anyone following us, and we throw you off this ship at the nearest planet system, you hear?”
Penta nodded and was led to her room by one of the crew. Julie was nowhere to be found, which suited Penta just fine. She nursed baby Jack and made a makeshift crib for him out of a wardrobe drawer.
Just then, a teenage girl entered the room. She was just a couple years younger than Penta.
“Oh em geeeeeeeeeeee that is the cutest baby! What’s his na--WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HANDS?!” screamed Julie in horror.
“I cut them off,” Penta answered. “Goodnight.” And with that, she flopped over on her bunk and went to sleep.
. . . . .
It was her usual nightmare. She was drifting aimlessly through space in an escape pod that was rapidly running out of air, the bloody stumps at the end of her arms oozing grotesquely. The pod jerked violently as a tractor beam pulled it into the bay of a scavenger ship. But when the hatch opened, it was not the friendly face of the scavenger captain greeting her, but the bitter, jealous face of his wife Nuccia. She breathed angry fire into the pod. As the flames engulfed Penta, Nuccia’s hardened face turned into that of her brother’s, King Eric. He laughed shrilly as he shut the hatch and jettisoned the firey pod back into space.
. . . . .
Penta woke in a cold sweat. Julie was still sitting in her bunk, staring wide-eyed and frightened. She was obviously still freaked out by Penta’s lack of hands. Penta sighed.
“Look, a long time ago, I had to cut off my own hands to escape someone. Then a bunch of people tried to kill me, and I swore I would never be defenseless again. So I got these fused on.” She held up her hook and gun in explanation. Julie didn’t respond, and Jack was still sleeping, so Penta shrugged and went to find the galley.
She poked around the cupboards looking for a midnight snack. Hardtack, hardtack, hardtack, more hardtack... “Hardtack it is,” Penta thought. As she skewered a piece with her hook and sat down to eat, the captain entered.
“No sleep for the weary?” he asked. “You know, we never got properly introduced before. I’m Captain Ellis Blaze.”
“Penta Starcatcher. And you know. Newborns.” The captain nodded. “What’s your excuse?”
“A captain’s work is never done.”
As if on cue, the pilot’s voice came over the intercom. “Blaze, you’d better get up here. We’ve got a class 2 scavenger ship following us. Might be raiders.” Penta’s heart started racing. How had they found her? Penta followed Blaze to the bridge, and he didn’t object. When they reached the holo-deck, her blood ran cold.
“Captain Blaze. I believe you are carrying some precious cargo of mine. My name is Captain Nuccia Fischer. Prepare to be boarded.”
Stay tuned for part 2!