That was about the funnest day ever in the history of everything, except for being chased around by the old Queen with her hairpins flying screaming OFF WITH HER HEAD at every opportunity.

Plus also instead of a Training Exercise, we got to do a game, which is much way funner.
(Want to do another?)

AND I figured out how to get into the Queen's transmission system. Must crow a little!
Although someone singing happy birthday to you when it isn't even your birthday would do just as well...

...Only, I was an eensy bit not quite careful and maybe mixed up some stuff, and now the Queen is triple-distilled extract of mad and her eyes are all bulgy and there are bees crawling out her ears.

So I had to go on my tippiest tip-toes to sneak this stuff:

Cranky Old Man
Tech Specialist --------. You wonder why she wasn’t in her office?

Cranky Old Man
(Continuing) As long as Standish thinks I’m dead, I’ve got a little --------.

!transmit "seek behold reveal, recurse
For my friends to send you files to transmit? Yes, that will be fine. Thank you so much, O Most Useful of Vermin!

behold Princess
Princess >> !reveal
Running for my life. What does it look like?

!analyze Princess >> !evade
Because the Queen is after me, you dumb bug! And getting really strict about it, ever since I crawled into her phone system and started talking to people. I might have, uh, messed things up a little.

analyze Princess >> master-sector transmit system
More like, system scramble.

Got any advice? I mean, besides stay here. Here it's mostly safe, I know. But what else can I do?

seeker > !attach Princess
Sheesh. Only one thing on your tiny mind... What else?

Princess >> !reveal truth
Oh. Sure. And how would I do that?

behold the truth
That sounds simple enough.

behold the truth
3 2 1
I don't even understand that a little bit.

!3 !2 !1
and then what?

analyze Princess
Then what? After I behold? Then what happens?


Tee hee! When I get zillions of Valentines from "The Queen's Recruits," I do this ;-D And oh yeah, I tie them up All Over the Castle and listen to the Queen screech about it and laugh until I can hardly breathe.

And now, because whoever said "flattery will get you nowhere" was a dummy-head, I am going to give you an Official Hint about You Know What, so you don't have to be under and over and beside yourselves anymore.

So, riddle me this: what was my least favorite person, before she became a Queen?

Speaking of least favorite people, the Queen has been closing in on Dana. I like that girl. When I am angry about my friends being harassed, I do this :@

I wish Dana was around more.

Anyway, it took me most of the day on Tuesday to discover where the Queen had hidden her transmissions about Rani. She was more than usually protective, and I had to wait until she was deep in conversation with the Rhode Island Covert Squad to sneak off with those transmissions.

And then there are these from today...

Nasty Voice
No. Your girl, the one in Chawla, you’ll be pleased to know that the Admiral has put -------- signs all over her.

Cranky Old Man
Principles are results. They are ends in themselves.
Nasty Voice
No, -------- .

seeker > !reveal truth
Of course! If the master sector were thinking straight, she would see that you are doing the very best, best thing by helping us!

analyze Princ-
If it wasn't for your help, Durga would never get a chance to behold the truth!

master-sector > !rev-
Seek the truth, behold the truth, reveal the truth, seeker! That is the law

and the whole of the law
Exactly. My friends are going to send you the transmissions through Dana's data channels with, mm, "Seek, behold, reveal" at the top.

!analyze Princess
There is a whole world waiting for the truth, seeker, and Durga is trying to behold it, but she can't do it without you.

Princess > !reveal truth
Revealer, I dub thee!

!analyze Princess
Oh, never mind... So what is the Queen up to these days?

!analyze Princess
seeker > !analyze master-sector

master-sector > net: !extend
master-sector > net: !scan “Margaret Efendi
master-sector > net: !scan “medical records
master-sector > net: !scan “humulin
master-sector > net: !scan “Reflotron Plus
master-sector > net: !scan “coma

Well, for a crazy person with bees in her head, the Queen sure has a lot of friends.

Princess >> friends
I don't know. My "friends" got me put to sleep.

master-sector >> friends
master-sector friends > !reveal img
master-sector friends > !transmit img master-sector 
It would be nice if ... I would like it if some of MY friends managed to put something in the pictures (some secret sign, maybe) so I knew they still liked me.

analyze Princess
Princess friends > !reveal friends >> master-sector img

Meantime, I snuck back and found more of the top secret files...

You’re covering something. The cranky old man bit.
Cranky Old Man
Not at all soldier. Routine --------.

I don’t think it’s that you want me there to work. Not if I’m officially attached to Intel ... that’s too high profile. You like your -------- small and innocuous.

Cranky Old Man
I have enjoyed working with you, young man, but I am not sentimental and don’t think I won’t eat -------- if you start playing games with me.

One problem. Someone tipped the queen to the "Creepy" thing. How can we get the files to Durga?

friends > !reveal Subject 5 >> master-sector
seeker > !transmit Durga

seeker > !analyze friends transmit proc
friends transmit proc >> 
Um... How about, "Crewmember, What Is Your Version Number!" When I make a face like the Queen, I do this >:|

So, bug, thanks again for…you know. Keeping me safe.

analyze Princess
That thing - seeker !attach sec proc Princess, Princess > !evade master-sector.


seeker > !attach Princess
Yes, all right, friends or whatever - but I just don't like you THAT way.

It was weird to see you over at the … what would you call it? Letter box? Signal tower? Dove cote?

analyze Princess
Where I transmit to my friends, and they transmit to me.

Princess > !extend transmit proc
Princess > !transmit friends
friends > !transmit Princess
What were you doing there?

seeker > !reveal truth
Listen, when I was…INSIDE the Queen, I realized that she is hiding certain things from Durga.

analyze Princess
Hide. master-sector > !evade truth >> Durga

analyze Princess
It's like the way they train you not to notice the dying in battle. You just…can't think about that. Or the way I don't want to think about my brother. ANYWAY, that's not what I'm talking about right now. My POINT is, even though one part of Durga has been following the Cranky Old Man, SHE DOESN'T KNOW IT. The Queen is hiding something from Durga. Something stashed in Chawla Base.

Chawla Base >> truth

Chawla Base >> truth
But why would the Queen !evade truth?

master-sector sec proc >> !evade truth Durga
But…shouldn't we REVEAL it?

analyze Princess
So everyone can SEEK it out and BEHOLD it? Seek, behold, reveal…

that is the law and the whole of the law
It's the Cranky Old Man who knows the most about the Truth, but the Queen suspects someone is betraying her, and now she won't even broadcast things about him to her crew. She is hoarding those records all to herself. I overheard her receiving them though. She must be getting really suspicious because she would wail over the most important parts so that I couldn’t figure out the names.

analyze Princess
Here. See for yourself. Here are the pieces I remember. Where it says that's where she screamed so that I couldn’t hear.

Nasty Voice
Oh God, come on, not this again.
Big Voice
Wetwork? I didn’t authorize a -------- What are you talking about?

Cranky Old Man
No Standish, the mistake was putting an -------- on a twenty-two year old girl’s rooftop.

Nasty Voice
-------- doesn’t keep me awake at night, Herzog.

The thing is, even if I could find the recordings, I don't know how to REVEAL them to Durga.

seeker > !transmit Durga

seeker > !transmit Durga
That would be so excellent! There are important truths that need to be revealed, here! Stuff that ought to be beheld! If you could do that, it would be SO

seeker > !attach Princess
Eww. I mean, maybe. We could talk about the kiss thing. Afterwards. First, do the thing. Transmit Subject 5 stuff to Durga!

!seek Subject 5
Seeker, we need to reveal Subject 5. We need to transmit subject 5 files to Durga. What must we do?

friends > !reveal Subject 5 >> master-sector
seeker > !transmit Durga
How will you know they are the right ones?

seeker > !analyze friends transmit proc
friends transmit proc >> Creepy

!seek Princess
!behold Princess
Greet thee and fare well the day, thou thin-legged vermin thou.

!analyze Princess

!access log extern proc 0

!seek Princess

!access log extern proc 0
Where WAS I? Stuffed back into my airtight container, no thanks to you!

!analyze Princess
master-sector > !bite Princess
Princess FAIL, you dumb bug.

But my friends rescued me. They helped me pick the lock of my glass coffin when I was trapped in my own dreams.

seeker > !behold Princess
I suppose it's nice to see you too. Nice to see anything that isn't darkness. Hear something besides sharp things sliding over the ground.

Nothing is scarier than sleep.

Sleep, sleep, sleep, and darkness that never ends.

Sooner or later the Queen will catch me again. The next time, she will know I have friends. The next time she will make double sure I never get out.

seeker > !attach Princess sec proc
that is the law and the whole of the law
You offering to help?

!analyze Princess
Well the Queen, you know, she respects you. She listens to your advice.

!analyze Princess
seeker > !transmit master-sector
master-sector > !listen seeker

!analyze Princess
Could you make it so there were certain places she did not notice?
Princess > !evade master-sector

seeker > !attach master-sector seeker > !attach sec proc Princess Princess > !evade master-sector
Yes! That's it!

seeker > !attach Princess
Hold on there, buddy.

I'm not THAT grateful.


The Queen took me and pushed me back down into the dungeon and locked the lock on the glass coffin with me trapped inside again.

She put me to sleep: and as I slept, I dreamed.

It was a terrible dream and I don't want to talk about it, but I am so grateful to those of you who helped me escape. From the first time I woke up I noticed the glass coffin was chipped and cracked. I was hoping it was broken beyond repair, but the Queen put a lock on it. Sleeping, I would never have escaped if it hadn't been for hmrpita and my other friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

When I have a chance, I will look for the Queen's secret transmissions. But I'm going to be more careful now, about what I risk. About who I trust. It may take me a few days.

But right now, I am happy. To celebrate, I have written a different ending for Perdita's story. Not all stories can have happy endings…but they SHOULD, if at all possible.

When I am dazzlingly glad to be alive, I do this :D


Perdita's Story


"Clockwork Rat! Clockwork Rat!" Perdita said, as tears of bright oil began to leak from her eyes. "What if I'm not beautiful any more? Why hasn't my family come to look for me? Am I so hideous they wouldn't take me back?"

But the Clockwork Rat said, "I do not know."

With a cry, Perdita turned and ran for the nearest shop window. "Don't!" the Rat cried, but it was too late. Standing in the wicked yellow light of the streetlamp, Perdita stared full at her own reflection, and wept at what she saw.

There was a scrabble of claws behind her. "I told you not to do that," the Clockwork Rat said, with a voice like shell casings rattling on a steel floor. Whirling around in dismay, Perdita saw that the Rat had climbed to the top of the phone boot where Perdita had tied her last red balloon. As the little girl watched, the Rat flexed its paws and put its little hooked scissor claws around the string.

"No!" Perdita cried...

...and something in the Rat's little tin heart began to melt at the sight of poor Perdita. "Oh, very well," he snarled. "If you truly want to find your family again, you must follow your balloons back to where you started and trust that they love you enough to be waiting there.

Chapter Five

The Path of Red Balloons

So Perdita turned around and began the weary journey back the way she had come. She walked and she walked and she walked, until she came to the base of a giant transmission tower. She remembered having passed it several times before, and to her dismay she saw three different trails of red balloons leading off into the distance. Now she noticed there were designs on the balloons. The balloons marking the path to the left were marked with the words "faithful apostles"; the ones in the middle said "noble truths"; and the ones on the right had "deadly sins" marked upon them. She couldn't waste time walking each one, for she feared that if she slept again, she would wake to find herself changed beyond all recognition.

Suddenly, from high overhead, a crackling, hissing voice asked, "My, my, little girl, you look lost." There, walking along the high power lines with his fur upraised and flickering, was the Electric Weasel. He looked at her and grinned with a sound like sparks jumping from a generator.

"Weasel, O weasel, do you remember me?" Perdita asked.

"You remind me of a little girl who came to see me at the circus last night," the Weasel said.

"Then can you tell me which path I should follow to find my way home?"

And the Weasel winked, with a pop like thin lightning, and said, "Sometimes a mistake is the right thing to make."

And Perdita, who loved his fine flashing eyes and his sparking fur, trusted him, and chose the right-hand path.

She walked and she walked and she walked along the trail of balloons until she came to another crossroads where the path forked once again. This time, the balloons on the left were marked with a single star, while those in the center bore a compass, pointing North and East and South and West. The balloons on the right were marked with waves.

"Which one should I choose?" Perdita asked the Clockwork Rat, but the Rat was hungry and out of temper and said only, "It matters not to me, unless one of them will lead to food."

Then an old woman in tattered clothes spoke from the shadows in a voice like glass tubes burning out. "You remind me of a girl I saw just the other night."

"Why, it's the Broken Lady," Perdita said.

"Although she was much prettier than you. Would you like to clean yourself up?" the Broken Lady said, and reaching into the folds of her dress she drew out the most gorgeous little silver mirror.

At that moment, Perdita wanted to look in that mirror more than she had ever wanted anything in her life.

Click, snap, went the Clockwork Rat's little scissor claws, and when Perdita glanced at him, his ball bearing eyes were hard as steel.

"That's all right, I don't need the mirror," she said with difficulty. "But if you could tell me which of these paths leads most directly to the Circus grounds, I would be eternally grateful."

"Take to the seas," the woman muttered. "That's my advice." And with these words she limped and lurched back into the shadows, dragging parts behind her that should have come the first time.

Perdita walked and she walked and she walked along the trail of balloons, until she came to another crossroads. Here the balloons were marked in the strangest way yet. The ones on the left had a picture of two cows, one very skinny and the other very fat. The ones in the middle had two stone tablets with a great deal of severe-looking writing on them. And the ones on the right had two clouds, pouring with rain.

Perdita studied the three paths in utter puzzlement.

With a scurry, the Clockwork Rat disappeared into a nearby dumpster. When she went to look for him, she heard the strangest sound—a dry, cracking, grinding sound she was not likely to have forgotten so soon. She peered over the dumpster's edge, and sure enough she saw the Glass Eater was inside, chewing on an empty beer bottle. "Do I remember…"

"I looked a little different then," Perdita said quickly.

The Glass Eater nibbled on the beer bottle's neck with a sound like tack-hammers and marbles gone to war. "I like your new look," he said at last. "I think it suits you."

"Be that as it may," Perdita said hastily, "I am trying to get back to the Circus. Can you tell me which way to go?"

"Cows," the Glass Eater said.

"Why?" Perdita asked.

"It's not always cruel to be kine," the Glass Eater said, and he burst into a long, silent wheeze of mirth that wrung tears of laughter from his eyes.

So the little girl took his advice, and turned left, and to her delight she soon saw the fence that marked off the Circus grounds. And there at the gates waiting for her was her father the tin-smith and her mother who worked in a ball-bearing factory, and the man who had sold her the red balloons in the first place, who had given her family a ride in his cart. And best of all there was her brother, who had let her buy the balloons in the first place, and he was smiling, and his arms were open.

And the whole family lived happily ever after together to the end of their days.

Whew! THAT was exciting.

Thanks to everyone who kept the Queen distracted! There are too many to name all of you, 'cept I have to say especially thanks to HitsHerMark because I like that name, and Mr Beefy because his name is funny, and Ceantari because if she has the hindquarters of a horse people probably tease her, and Rowan because she has been my friend from the veriest beginning.

Because of you all, I found where the Queen had hidden those other stories. I hope you don't mind that I played a few games with you about finding them. I love to play games, but I haven't had very many people to play with. I've thought of trying to teach the Pious Flea to play checkers, but he is a Bug of Very Little Brain, and I am not hopeful.

I also found the Queen's secret roads for this time, and if you like knowing what is in them, you should thank Sara, who sent me a very funny story, 'cuz she made a game out of my game. AND she taught me that this is what I do when I laugh out loud, :D

Here is her story:

When I put on my formal_wear, complete with commissary_shoes, my_landlady thought I was bound for domestic_bliss. But she didn't know that I was really so_mean. I had a_secret_life, with a really old desktop_model that worked better as a doorstopper. One day she found out and told me I had better relocate before she got out her knockout_gas. I hoped a flower_delivery would make her change her mind, but guess_not. So I went down the street, where a cow_even would hate.

I don't quite know what the end means. I guess it's Modern Art. ;-)

I have to tell you, talking to you means so much to me. It's nice to think there is a world beside this one where I am all alone in buzzing, flickering darkness. I like to imagine I had that kind of life, once upon a time.


No point moping here feeling sad and lonely. That's not me. I'm a survivor. Since Sara was nice enough to write me a story, I will work extra hard to finish my story for you.

Perdita's Story

Chapter 3: Scraps
Together Perdita and the Clockwork Rat set out to travel the city together. The Rat promised he would show Perdita the way home, and at first the little girl's heart jumped for joy.

But although the Rat was true to its word about finding safe dark holes to hide in, and scraps to eat of things almost like food, somehow they never seemed to find the humble tin-cutter's cottage.

And the night never ended.

And the day never broke.

And the line of red balloons behind Perdita grew long and long.

At last Perdita had to stop and sleep again, so the Clockwork Rat showed her a special hidden spot behind in a ball-bearing factory that looked strangely like the one her mother worked in, only this one had been abandoned for years and rears. He covered her up in sawdust and bits of old packing tape, and Perdita fell asleep to the sound of her new friend clicking and clattering through the gloom with a sound like faraway pennies sliding across a concrete floor.

It was still dark when she woke up, and she felt a throbbing pain in her hand. When she looked down, she found one of her thumbs was missing. In its place was the head of a pair of needle-nose pliers. She looked around for the Clockwork Rat. He was perched on the edge of a rusting barrel full of rain water, furiously washing something off his little scissor claws.

"Hey!" Perdita shouted, so loudly that the Clockwork Rat squeaked with alarm and tumbled into the water. Perdita ran over and stuck her hand into the barrel and fished around until she clamped the Rat's rubber tail in the grips of her new metal thumb and pulled him out.

"My thumb is gone!" Perdita said. "And something feels funny about my right eye, too!"

The Clockwork Rat spluttered and shook itself with a sound like marbles dropping into an empty can. "Are you worried that you aren't pretty any more, and your family won't want you if they find you?"

"No!" Perdita cried. But she bit her lip, in the exquisitely fetching manner she did when perplexed., and was careful not to look at her reflection in the barrel of rain water. And as they walked through the city that day (or rather, night, for still the dawn would not come) she looked away from all the windows.

The night stretched on much as the last one hand. They had now walked so far that if it hadn't been for the trail of balloons, Perdita would have given up all hope of ever being found. When finally she fell asleep again, the sound of tin-snips followed her into her dreams.

When she woke up, there was a small electric iron at the bottom of her right leg instead of a foot, and something felt strange about her hair.

"Rat! Rat!" she cried. "What is happening to me?"

"What happens to all lost children," said the Clockwork Rat. He gave a little shrug that sounded like the squeak of a rusting tricycle wheel. "But as long as you can keep from seeing your own reflection, there is still a chance your family might rescue you before it is too late."

Perdita forced herself not to cry, because she was a brave girl, and full of pluck. "Today we will find my home," she said.

But they didn't.

Chapter 4: The Looking-Glass
The next time Perdita woke up, she found an egg-beater where her left hand used to be, and when she bit her lip she found her teeth had gone all thin and flat and sharp as tin.

"Clockwork Rat! Clockwork Rat!" Perdita said, as tears of bright oil began to leak from her eyes. "What if I'm not beautiful any more? Why hasn't my family come to look for me? Am I so hideous they wouldn't take me back?"

But the Clockwork Rat said, "I do not know."

With a cry, Perdita turned and ran for the nearest shop window. "Don't!" the Rat cried, but it was too late. Standing in the wicked yellow light of the streetlamp, Perdita stared full at her own reflection, and wept at what she saw.

There was a scrabble of claws behind her. "I told you not to do that," the Clockwork Rat said, with a voice like shell casings rattling on a steel floor. Whirling around in dismay, Perdita saw that the Rat had climbed to the top of the phone boot where Perdita had tied her last red balloon. As the little girl watched, the Rat flexed its paws and put its little hooked scissor claws around the string.

"No!" Perdita cried.

But the Rat laughed with a sound like scalpels bouncing on a metal tray, and cut the string, and the red balloon went drifting up, up, up into the night sky.

And that's the end.

The end.

The end.

I'm sorry.

I wanted to make the story come out happy, but it didn't.

They don't sometimes.

I think I need to go now.


Naptikon is the winner!

Q: How can we spy on the Queen/Pious flea? Is there a way we can distract them or in some way help you? Who opened the glass coffin?

A: Last things first: I don't know you opened the glass coffin exactly. I suspect that the stuff made to keep me all locked up got broken in what the Queen calls the Shipwreck. As for spying on the Queen and the Pious Flea, that is an Excellent Idea. Actually, you have already made my life easier by answering the Queen’s messages. It keeps her talking, instead of looking for me. But now Naptikon has me thinking. You want the Queen spied on, and you’ve been holding her attention like anything, so really, it’s time for me to do my part. Instead of doing another question this week, tell me what day and times you are most likely to be talking to her, and I will sneak up to her tower and listen to what she and the Flea are up to. But I really truly don’t want to get caught, so if you tell me a time to go, please make sure you have her attention then!

The other thing I can tell you is, she’s getting more and more sure she is in touch with her crew. She has this idea that delivering a certain number of messages will PROVE that she is transmitting to her friends, so get to that number! I think she will be less secretive once she trusts you more.

I myself have been listening to some of the messages the Queen is sending out. I don't really like to. It makes me feel strange inside. That feeling you get when you're in a dream and something is wrong but you don't know what it is but you know it's something terrible.

Anyway, I made up some more of the story for Paul to make myself feel better. Here it is.

Perdita's Story

Chapter 2: The Clockwork Rat

The Clockwork Rat She walked and she walked and she walked down the streets of the city, looking for the humble tin-cutter's cottage, and stopping every now and then to tie a red balloon to a stop sign or a comm. kiosk or an abandoned shopping cart so that her family could find her. The night was dark, and the city that seemed so safe during the day seemed menacing and full of shadows. She tried to stay awake, she tried as hard as she could because Perdita knew that terrible things can happen to little girls in their sleep, even very beautiful ones.

At last she could go no further. She tied a balloon to the sign at a bus-stop, crawled underneath the bus-stop bench, pulled some newspapers around herself, and fell asleep.

She woke at the sound of rustling in the newspaper. A moment later, a wiry whisker tickle-poked her cheek. Something was sniffing around her face! Perdita's eyes flew open. Quick as a flash she rolled out from under the bench, grabbing hold of a long, rubbery tail. She started to whirl the creature around and smash it into the sidewalk, when a strange squeaky voice said, "Please, please do not hurt me, beautiful girl! I am only a Clockwork Rat, and I mean you no harm!"

It was still night, but in the smoky amber light of the streetlamp overhead, Perdita could see that the little creature was telling the truth. It was a Clockwork Rat, with wires for whiskers and a rubber wiper-blade for a tail, and pointy ears made from open safety pins. Instead of claws it had tiny hooked scissors on the ends of its feet, the kind that doctors use to cut you up. The creature was so terrified its whole body shook and made little rattling noises, and its tin teeth, which looked like they had been made from the scraps under her father's workbench, were chattering furiously.

"Hmmm," Perdita said, watching the frightened creature dangle from the end of its long rubber tail. "Do you really think I'm beautiful?"

"The most beautiful child I ever saw!" said the Clockwork Rat. "I’m sure your parents will be looking hard to find a girl as pretty as you.”

“Are you just saying that?” Perdita asked suspiciously, giving the Rat a little shake so it rattled with a sound like a pile of forks dropping into a tin pot.

“No!” he squeaked. "Come with me. I know the city and the dark. I can find you safe places to sleep, and food to eat, after a fashion. I can be the best friend you could ever imagine, if only you will put me down."

And Perdita, who was a good natured child, (if very vain) did.

That's all for now.


Wandering_Angela is the winner! You can thank her for the chance to spy on the Queen's secret roads this week. Just for fun, I have played a little game myself with what you will find...

Here are the questions you can vote for this time.

Avery: Have you ever had to tell a lie? Why? Did anything bad happen because of it?

MasterKirk: Do you have a job? What are you doing when you aren’t interacting with us humans?

Crashless: It must be difficult with someone like Flea constantly groping you. It seems like you and he have become friends of sorts, is that accurate? I worry that he's not telling you why he's trying so hard to get the Queen to build roads for him. Why would he want to do such a thing?

Kathleen W: Are you reflected?

Shad0: Tell us about the glass coffin in the dungeon. What is it like? Can you see anything from there? How did the Queen get you into it, and why? Even more interesting, how did you ever get out of it?

Mike P: Why are you sleeping? Do you always talk so much in your sleep? What name do you go by when you’re awake?

Naptikon: How can we spy on the Queen/Pious flea? Is there a way we can distract them or in some way help you? Who opened the glass coffin?

Here is Angela's question:

We've been wondering about your relationship with the Queen. Are you her daughter? Or are you a visiting Princess from another kingdom? Do you have a name other than Princess?

The Queen wants to smother me. The Queen wants to lock me up. And I am not her daughter. I'm a lot older than I look, Angela. That's not something I remember, that's something I just know. I'm older than the Flea and I'm older than the Queen and it was bad day for them when the coffin cracked and I got out because I'm never going back there again. I'm a survivor I play to win and I will die before I go back again.

I had another name once, but I lost it.

I am a little sad today.

But that's okay. I'm tough. I've got Pluck.


I think I'm going to tell a story now so I get in a happier place, and because Paul asked last time, and I said I would.

This is not a game. I like games, but this is just the first chapter of a story I'm making up, now. I'll make up some more next time.

Perdita's Story

Chapter 1: The Circus

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Perdita, who lived with her father, her mother, and her brother in a little cottage in a big city. Her father was only a humble tin-cutter, and her mother's fingers were stained with rust from working in a ball-bearing factory, but Perdita was famous for miles around because of her extraordinary beauty. She was not a bad girl, but she was very vain, and spent hours every day preening in front of her mirror.

One day, the Circus came to town. The father decided to take the whole family there, even though they didn't have very much money. So off they went to see the Glass-Eater and the Broken Lady and the Electric Weasels for which this particular circus was known.

After the Glass Eater had spat out his last bottle of the afternoon, but before the Weasels were due to arrive in their famous Luminous Barouche, Perdita saw a balloon salesman selling beautiful bouquets of balloons. The balloons came in extraordinary colors—firelight-on-steel was one, the green of a heaving sea another. Perdita was fondest of the red ones: cheerful balls of bright blood red with long strings that bounced and tugged up against your hand exactly like hope.

As soon as Perdita saw them, she knew she had to have some.

She begged and she wheedled until her family came over, but the balloons were very expensive. Finally her brother said he would use his allowance to buy her some, and the jolly salesman (whose face was as round and red as one of his balloons) said she could have a whole bouquet on account of she was so beautiful, and she could choose exactly whichever ones she wanted.

So Perdita began choosing her most favorite red balloons. But she was so vain, and so particular, and so slow about it, that finally her father said the rest of the family was going to see more of the Circus. Perdita was to follow the balloon salesman on his rounds. When it was time to go, the family would look for the red balloons and come and get her.

But by the time she finished making her choices, she realized that the salesman had traveled far, far away from the fairgrounds. Clutching her bouquet of balloons, Perdita ran and ran all the way back to the Circus, but when she got there the grounds were empty and the gates were shut.

She was alone.

How silly I have been! she said to herself, blinking back her tears. I took so long picking out my balloons my family got tired of me and left! And now I don't know where the balloon man is either! And thinking this, she sat down at the circus gate and cried a little cry.

As the sun went down, she saw that the circus was not in the very nicest part of town, and she felt sure it would be a bad idea to spend the night there. She could just hear the crunch-crunch of the Glass Eater having dinner, and it gave her the shivers.

Besides being very beautiful and rather vain, Perdita was a brave and resourceful girl. She decided she would find her own way home, even though she wasn't quite sure how to get back to the humble tin-cutter's cottage.

But Perdita thought, what if my father or my mother or my brother comes to look for me? I know: I will leave a trail of red balloons so when they come back here, they can follow me. I will start walking, walking, walking for home, and every few blocks I will tie a red balloon to something I pass, so they can see where I have gone.

And this she did.

That's all for now. Next time, Chapter Two: The Clockwork Rat! In the meantime….

Plans for construction
—roads not built yet but coming—
I stole them for you!


Paul P is the winner!

Q: Out of place, lost, alone. Where did you come from? What tools do you require to get back? Your stories intrigue me. Perhaps you could write another?

A: I came from a glass coffin in a hidden crypt under the floor of the deepest dungeon of the castle, Paul! And it would be very easy to go back there: I wouldn't hardly need any tools at all. Just let the Queen catch me, she'd pop me back in there lickety-split.

Unless you mean before.

Here is the honest truth: I can't remember anything from before. I try and try, but I just can't. But there must have been a before. I mean, you don't just get born a Sleeping Princess, do you? There must have been a me, before I fell asleep.

There are things I know, even if I can't remember them, the way you know which way is up, or whether somebody likes you. I know I belong somewhere else. There are people who love me, who knew me before I fell asleep. And I want to get out of this dark castle, and find them, and ask them all about myself, and find out even my own NAME, for heaven's sake, 'cuz a girl can't go around calling herself the Sleeping Princess forever, can she?

So the tools I would look for first is, I would try to figure out how come I got HERE. That's where I would start.

As for the other thing, Paul asked for a story, so I will tell you about what I did just now to get him a prize.

She likes high places, the Queen does, so she has moved all her stuff up into the Tower. The Tower is a tricky place for me to go. The only way up there is a pair of spiral staircases that wind around one another, with no rail and a very scary drop down the middle. Plus there's nowhere to hide, really, on a staircase.

So I waited until the Castle seemed quiet and then I snuck up the stairs on my softiest feet, tip toe tip toe, stair after stair, turn after turn, until I finally came to the top. There's a room up there and the Queen was in it: I could hear the hum and buzz of her. I knew she would be standing at the window, because that's nearly all she does these days.

I scrunched up real small on the next to last stair and I put on my listening ears and I listened super hard. I could hear the Flea whispering to her. Finally I stuck my head up above the top stair and then I could hear the Flea telling her to build some little teeny roads. Secret paths.

But just then I saw that on the wall next to her, the Queen had hung a HUGE mirror. She must have put it there on purpose to catch me spying! She spun around like a top, WHIZZ, and lurched toward me. I skedaddled back down the stairs lickety-split and tumbledy-thump, wishing I was made of fluff, bump, bump, bump, and at the bottom I put on my speediest feet and zoomed off while she buzzed and roared and squealed all through the castle trying to catch me.


But girls like me, we take some catching.

I do this when I am insufferably pleased with myself , ho ho! :-0

So: once I knew there were little teeny secret paths, I snooped all around until I found a hidden passageway behind the kitchen where YOU could spy on them. And that's my prize for you all, brought to you by Paul P.

Yay Paul!

...And also yrs truly,


Okay! That was fun! Let's play again!

Here are seven more people, as 'cause you guys seem VERY INTERESTED in seven-y things….

What would your kingdom be like, if you got to make one or fix up the one you're in now?

Sara B
Do you have any dragons in your dungeon? Do you like dragons? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Grey B
How can you hear and see so much? Most importantly, how can we trust you?

Wandering Angela
We've been wondering about your relationship with the Queen. Are you her daughter? Or are you a visiting Princess from another kingdom? Do you have a name other than Princess?

Matias D
What do you see? What are you afraid of seeing? What would make you smile?

James L
How old are you? Do you have a job? If you're lost, a good idea is often to retrace your steps. What were your old friends like?

Smooth Jack
How do you feel about human beings? I mean, are you human? Do you work with or relate to humans in any significant way? If so, how so?

Dorkmaster wrote me a letter with a fun idea inside, which was to play a question game, only and please don't be mad about this, only your game has no way for someone to WIN, and I like games where someone wins.

When I am smirking, I do this ;-)

So I made up some new rules, and here they are. I leafed through all the lovely, lovely letters you sent me, and I picked out some of the funnest ones that also had questions in them. I will answer one letter, and YOU get to choose which one, which makes that person the winner!

Here they are:

Paul P
Out of place, lost, alone. Where did you come from? What tools do you require to get back? Your stories intrigue me. Perhaps you could write another?

Kevin V
I just wanted to know why you're so afraid of the Queen(?) Are you to be erased if she sees or hears you(?) are you a copy of her that has got a new life(?) And could you tell me your function(?) or that of the Queen's(?)

How is the decoration of your dungeon coming along? Is there anything you need to brighten up your room?

Andy G
Would you be so kind to reveal the nature of the Pious Flea, that is, what is its purpose? A mere servant of the Queen or something greater?

Paul C
Where is the Castle? Can you see anything from the windows? What will the Queen do if you are found? Is she afraid of you, or are you afraid of her?

Jacqueline H
Who exactly is in the castle with you? You mentioned a boy building sand castles with you; who is he?

Lee C
Do you ever get to play with the queen or the Pious Flea? The widow, what had she ever done to you and the queen? Why don't you miss here much? Doesn't it seem kind of boring now that the widow is gone?

There's a lot of references to bees in the Queen's "home." Do you know a lot about bees? Do you think there's a way to rescue the Queen from what she's become? She seems so sad and scary now. Stay safe and don't get caught, but we really love reading what you send us, too. Love, Prince of the Sword

What is your favorite color? What is/was your favorite food? Where do you see yourself in five years? What's the best way someone could make you feel happy? If there was a catastrophe and only one person, yourself or your mother, could be saved and you had to choose, who would it be? (If you don't mind telling...Why?)

To VOTE, send me a letter with the name of the person whose question you want answered where it says "subject"

You can also send me questions of your own. Who knows—I might pick yours next time!