It was mid January. And, according to my calendar it was only a few days away from National Hugging Day.
Of course, we didn’t have an official hugging day in Cratersville, but that didn’t stop me from inserting one into my Calendar of Extraordinary Days after I learned of its existence on that great cloudy web of frivolous information, suspect news stories and cute animal videos known in my realm as the celestial warehouse.
Blueberry and I were both busy doing school projects. Actually, Blueberry was probably tinkering with something since he didn’t do actual homework unless there was a test the next day. He was one of those people who could breeze through an assignment by the end of class. I wasn’t as lucky.
Still, I wanted to do something to mark the day. So, I flipped through my notebook, which was actually my Creation Book in disguise, and looked through my collection of ideas.
I hadn’t been working on something for “hugging day” specifically, though I had been working on ways to relay short messages to Blueberry that didn’t require the use of a messenger bee or a telephone call. Both of which annoyed Blueberry.
I had originally thought I could design some sort of sign that he could keep in an out of the way corner of his room that I could then populate with short messages from the control panel in my notebook.
I based several designs for this concept on the informational spheres that littered the sky above Cratersville. These small, planet-like spheres held signs of various shapes and sizes that listed speed limits, gave directions to nearby towns and advertised local attractions.
Poppy and I ended up giving these sign-topped spheres the moniker “Celestial Shoebox” because their sheer numbers and variation reminded us of the collection of trinkets we kept stored away in shoeboxes at home.
I had quite a collection of shoebox scenes sketched in my notebook. They were quite a bit smaller than their official shoebox cousins. Some of the spheres were populated with little creatures.
This gave me the idea I was looking for. Instead of just having a sign, I would have a little creature participate in the delivery of my message.
I drew an entirely new shoebox scene with a little creature perched atop the sign. The little creature had big wings and long skinny arms opened wide as if offering a big hug. This paired nicely with the “Hug for You” message I had decided to write.
I was about ready to hit SEND, which would not only convey the composition in its entirety to Blueberry’s room, but make it real before its arrival, when I paused for a much needed reality check.
Blueberry was suspect of magic of all sorts and sending him a little creature perched atop a sign even if it did say “hug for you” was probably a bridge too far. In fact, I couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t just blow the whole sphere—sign and all—out of the air with some sort of gadget before it even finished materializing.
After thinking about it, I decided that I needed to make my shoebox scene a bit more Blueberry friendly. To this end, I entered a script that would transform the cutesy sketch into a scene made entirely of clockwork, all the way from the metal sign with its plasma-display down to the tiny rivets on the little creatures wings. Satisfied that the shoebox scene looked sufficiently mechanical enough, I crossed my fingers, and let my notebook deliver my message.
I figured that if rivets and metal were involved, Blueberry might be intrigued enough to hold fire. At least until he saw what it was.
Of course, I should have known that though the small metallic spheroid with the digital sign and mechanical creature atop it looked like clockwork and—I was desperately hoping—would act like clockwork, it was still tinged with the magic of my Creation Book.
The next day, Blueberry was strangely silent.
After a few days, I inquired on the appearance of any uninvited foreign objects in his room.
“I hate surprises,” he muttered before ducking into class.
I stood there in the hallway, biting my lip. I wasn’t quite expecting that response yet, at the same time, I wasn’t entirely shocked either. I shrugged and ran up the stairs to my next class.
Later that day, I decided to use my notebook to see if my clockwork creation had suffered a mishap of some kind. I followed its line of existence until it ended in a blip soon after it should have arrived in Blueberry’s room. It was like the rocket I had hoped would make it to the moon, exploded before it even left orbit.
I could say I was surprised, but I wasn’t. I really couldn’t control what showed up where or even if it would show up at all. I chalked up the contrivance’s disappearance to a glitch in my send script and busied myself with the next fast approaching holiday—Valentine’s Day—which also happened to be Blueberry’s birthday. I decided against giving him anything fancy. One disappointing experiment was enough for the moment. I put a birthday card in his locker instead.
Several weeks later, as I was flipping through my notebook, I noticed that the existence line I thought had blipped out was active once again. Did the clockwork come back to life?
I knew I couldn’t ask Blueberry directly.
I was sorely tempted to phone Blueberry’s sister, Bluesy, but she wouldn’t tell me. Her life revolved around things like social events, decorating, fashion and animal rescue. Techno-magical kerfuffles were not high on her things to report on—even if she did know what the heck was going on.
Of course, I could always contact my sister, Poppy. Her link with the Magic allowed her a level of enlightenment that I envied. My only hesitation was that she would probably make some wise crack about my creating abilities, but my curiosity was sufficiently piqued that I was willing to put up with any snarky remarks she might proffer. Plus, despite everything, our Creation Books were still connected. It would be an easy ask.
“Hey, Pops,” I wrote.
“What did you do this time?” she scripted back.
Ignoring her quip, I told her about the little scenic sphere with the sign and the little creature perched atop it. I then told her how instead of making it real, I ran a script to turn it into clockwork instead.
“That’s your problem,” she wrote. “It may have looked like clockwork, but it still had the potential to become real, especially if Blueberry did anything crazy to interrupt its material existence in some way.”
“Like blowing it up,” I asked.
“Yes, anything like that. All that freed up magic from the clockwork could easily coalesce into something new…”
“Like a ghost?” I wrote, wondering if Blueberry was being haunted by the specter of clockwork past.
“A ghost if he killed the creature aspect of the clockwork. A muse if he didn’t.” Then she wrote something that hadn’t occurred to me. “A muse would need the object is was attached to to keep existing, so either you or Blueberry would need to provide that. This is assuming it even made it to its intended destination. You know how the Magic is…”
“Yeah, I do.” I strummed my fingers on my notebook. Since I didn’t like surprises anymore than Blue, I made a note to use REAL clockwork the next time I wanted to create something mechanical. That way, it’s bound to work just the way I wanted—right?
—Jellybean Reds, Creator of Little Creatures