The Emporium Gazette
Issue 8 -- December 1999

Sparky: A New Angle On An Old Story
by Bob Nailor

Many times when a story comes to mind you don't really know what the final market will be. This was the case of "Sparky" that I put together mentally a long time ago and kept playing with over the years. I guess my reluctance in putting "Sparky" on paper was due to my ignorance of a possible paying market. Even after the original was on paper, it was shoved into a file folder and relegated to unmarked grave in my desk drawer. So, here's the story:

* * * * *


There he goes again, shooting across a galaxy. Sparky just couldn't control himself. Give him a few million miles of open space and off he'd go.

Of course, what would you expect from a young upstart? Sparky was only nearing his 15th century, quite youthful in the scheme of the cosmos.

"Mrs. Way," an ominous voice boomed. "Once again your son has strayed."

She quickly assessed the situation and could see Sparky moving between Alpha Centauri and Epsilon 6.

"I'm sorry, Lord," she replied. "He's really a very good boy; just a little hyperactive."

"Well, I've been meaning to talk to you about him," the voice said. "We've got to find a way of controlling that rascal."

"I'm open to suggestions." Eons of worry weighed on her words. "For the last few centuries I've tried to keep a reign on his route, but," the remainder of her words consumed by the silence of space.

"Last week Miss Saturn complained that he flew by her so fast that she still hasn't been able to gain control of her ring alignments," the Lord said. "Yesterday Nebula 2A6E caught him buzzing the smaller asteroids of Stellar Xarg 216."

Milky Way considered the consequences of Sparky's actions. She remembered what had happened to Regis Comet when he became renegade. The stars in her hair bobbled when she shook her head in memory. That's all Regis Comet was; a memory.

* * * * *

The rule was simple. "Live within your assigned orbit."

* * * * *

"Sparky," the Lord said.

He stopped dead in his tracks, his excess radiation flaring in a corona around him. Sparky recognized the voice and knew he was in trouble.

"Sparky?" the Lord repeated.

"Yes," the young star replied.

"I've got a proposition. Do you see that solar system over there?"

Sparky gazed to where the Lord had gestured and winced. It was Miss Saturn's neighborhood.

"Uh, yes, Lord? I see it."

"Do you remember it?"

Oh, boy, thought Sparky. I'm in for it now. "If this is about Miss Saturn..." Sparky started then stopped.

"I will take care of her," the Lord said, "but I have a special project for you. That is, if you are willing to accept the responsibility."

"Responsibility?" Sparky asked.

"Extreme responsibility. In fact, Sparky, this is probably the one most important job in the entire universe."

Sparky quickly analyzed the situation. "Doing what?" He knew that was pushy, but still, he was young and could possibly get away with it.

"You won't be able to move," the Lord stated. "For the rest of eternity you'll be stuck in one location. Still interested?"

Sparky was sure that Miss Saturn was involved in this but couldn't figure out why the harsh punishment. Eternity! Then he remembered the horror stories he'd heard about Regis Comet.

"I'll do it," Sparky said.

"Good," the Lord replied. "On the third planet from the sun, that blue one, my Son will be born for all mankind. I want your light to guide all men who seek Him."

Sparky swelled with pride. That night he let loose all his pent up energy and shone doubly bright on the small manger in Bethlehem, knowing what a great honor had been bestowed upon him.

* * * * *

I told an old, solid theme -- the story of Christ's birth -- and found a new angle. I used the POV of the star to tell the tale. By doing so I was able to weave whimsy and fantasy together with a few realities. I didn't stoop to the stereo tale of Santa, or a poor child on Christmas, or even a miracle.

After rewriting the story and sprucing it up some more I realized that there were actually quite a few markets for it: children, religious, even science fiction or fantasy. I'd originally tossed the children's market aside thinking the story beyond their grasp; my mistake was attempting to be an editor and prejudging. This story would fit in Children's Highlights or Boys Life. It could even be in Guideposts, Fantasy Magazine, or any one of the many small, general magazines like The Ohioan or Country Today. Even a craft magazine will occasionally print a short-short like this.

The season is upon us and the Muse will "slap you up along side the head" sometime during the period, letting you see a new angle. Write your story. Hone it. Then send it out in March to all the potential editors. Remember only an ezine could accept a story in November for publication in December. The paper industry needs time; lots of time.

Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at

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