The Wastelands of Orange County

Living in the Shadow of the Mouse

The Queens of the Seasons
The four most powerful rulers of Faerie are the Queens of the Seasons.
The Summer Queen is Aurelia, the Golden One. Everything grows and prospers under her reign, and her subjects know nothing but laughter, joy, and merriment.
The Autumn Queen is Bloodrose. She is the Queen of Change, and is rumored to be the most powerful sorceress in all of Faerie.
Her power is Transformation, and everyone fears her... for who is not afraid of change?
The Winter Queen is Belladonna. She is the Queen of Death and Destruction, and wishes to freeze the world in Endless Winter--not because she hates it, but because she loves the world so much, Belladonna wants to see everything preserved forever in frozen perfection.
No one knows what happened to the Queen of Spring. She has vanished and been forgotten by the inhabitants of Faerie, and her fate has become a mystery. It will be up to Sam Smith and his companions to discover what has happened to her!

Heart of Winter
"Yes, Sam Smith! Bring me the Spear of Destiny!" Bitter tears glittered upon the cheeks of the Winter Queen, turning to ice as they fell upon the snow. "Faerie is dying, and I cannot bear the pain much longer! The two Great Powers of the Mortal World have a terrible weapon that can blast the world with the Fires of Muspellheim and plunge the entire globe into Endless Winter!
Give me the Spear of Destiny, and when this weapon is unleashed upon the world, I shall freeze all things in enchanted slumber! Give me a chance to heal the world while it sleeps, and Winter will last but a hundred centuries. Rule the world by my side as the Fisher King, and one day this frozen heart might even learn to love again!"

Part of the "Eldorado" storyline from The Wasteland, Sam Smith has descended into the Underworld after his encounter with Death on the edge of Faerie ("Conquistador") and crossed the River Styx after paying Charon with the silver coins he found on the Forgotten Shore.
("There once were thirty of these coins. I believe these are the last two," the Boatman tells him)
Sam narrowly escapes the hungry jaws of Cerberus, the three-headed hound who guards the Gates of the Underworld and descends into the Realm of the Dead--only to discover that the Underworld is populated not only by shades of the dead, but ghosts, wraiths, and specters who transform the Afterlife into a place of dreams, nightmares, and hallucinations.
Sam begins to fear for his sanity, and surrounded by phantasmagoria suddenly wakes up in a mental institution in 1937; there, Sam Smith discovers that for the past five years he has been suffering from acute schizophrenia, and prior to his bankruptcy following the Stock Market Crash was a wealthy real estate developer who was engaged to a young woman by the name of Penny Summers. His psychiatrist, Doctor Simon Trask has been attempting to cure him of his madness, and only through the use of a radical new treatment has the psychiatrist been able to make any progress--but Doctor Trask cautions Sam that the treatment is experimental in nature and requires him to reject the fantasy world of his delusions, or Sam could very well slip back into schizophrenia.
Sam looks forward to his meeting with Penny, and while waiting for her encounters duplicates of Feliana, Alice, Buttercup, Sir Spindle, and even Queen Bloodrose... all of whom are fellow patients in the mental institution.
However, after a passionate and tearful reunion with Penny, Sam once again begins to doubt his sanity and fearing for the worst, Doctor Trask throws a well-thumbed stack of books on the desk: Le Morte d'Arthur. The Wasteland and Other Poems by T.S. Eliot. Collected Poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Bulfinch's Mythology.
Trask reveals that Sam had constructed his fantasy universe from these very books as well as countless other books on fantasy, folklore and mythology he had read over the years, and unable to deal with the loss of his financial empire had retreated into a world where Sam was the Paladin--the Hero of Legend who alone could save the world he loved.
Torn between both worlds, Sam escapes from the hospital staff and flees to the roof of the mental institution; from a height of several stories, Sam pauses in bewilderment to stare at the skyline of 1930's Los Angeles, which is silhouetted against the setting sun. Enjoying the sensation of the warm sunlight on his skin, Sam closes his eyes and slowly walks toward the edge of the roof. At that moment, Penny and several members of the hospital staff burst onto the roof.
"Stop!" Penny cries. "I love you! We can be together always!"
Sam decides which is more important: living with Penny in a boring and banal world where nothing he does is important, or risking everything for a fantasy world which may--or may not--be real.
Sam chooses the latter.
The fall seems to last forever.
Suddenly his mouth is filled with the wonderful taste of salt. Warm tropical water embraces him, and opening his eyes finds himself somewhere beneath the sea. Morning sunlight shines down through the clear ocean water, broken into sparkling golden beams above pure white sand, and swimming to the surface, Sam takes a breath of air, happy to be alive. Much to his delight, Sam is less than a dozen yards from the shore of a tropical coastline whose plants have leaves in every possible shade of green while exotic flowers in all the colors of the rainbow fill the air with their intoxicating perfume. Tears spill down his cheeks as Sam realizes he has arrived upon the shores of Eldorado, and as his laughter mixes with the raucous cries of the jungle birds, Sam wades ashore and vanishes into the rain forest.

The Rage of the Clockwork Empress
The Clockwork Empress struck together two enchanted bracelets of gleaming orichalcum. There was a blinding flash of silver-white light that dazzled everyone assembled, and suddenly the Clockwork Empress stood sheathed head to toe in mirror-polished plate armor of shining orichalcum--the near-indestructible red-gold metal of the alchemists--engraved with great and terrible runes of power. The enchanted armor hummed with eldritch might while her winged helm glowed and crackled with a corona of magical energy like the aurora borealis, and the faceplate opened to reveal her beautiful features, framed by a luminescent mane of white-gold hair while her sapphire-blue eyes blazed with barely-controlled rage. In her right hand she clutched a long spear of rune-inscribed orichalcum whose smooth shaft was crafted from an unknown golden wood, while the weapon burned with searing golden flames that were almost too bright to gaze upon.
"I may be the Clockwork Empress," proclaimed Queen Vivienne, "But I am a Goblin... and we know how to kick ass and take names! WILL YOU FOLLOW ME?"

A Tale of the Winter Queen
"Once upon a time there a Queen of Faerie who so loved the world, she wished that no plant or animal would ever die, and everyone and everything would live forever. Since that was impossible, she vowed to make every living thing as beautiful, as wonderful, and as close to perfection as possible.
For thousands of years she reigned as the Summer Queen, and indeed it was a time of Endless Summer. Never did the flowers bloom in such bright and vivid colors, and never did the birds sing with such beautiful voices or have such brilliant plumage.
"But one day she made the mistake of falling in love with a mortal man, and as mortal men are known to do, he broke her heart... and her heart grew cold.
"Colder than ice. Colder than the heart of Winter. Colder some say than the darkness between the stars... and the Faerie Queen vowed that she would never love again. Turning her back upon the warmth of Summer, she embraced the cold of Winter and realized that her love of perfection could be found in snow and ice... for by freezing the world in Endless Winter, no one would ever die, and everyone would live forever, frozen in eternal stasis.
Thus was born Belladonna... the Winter Queen."

Sam Smith and the Fisher King
Much later in The Wasteland Saga, Sam Smith and his companions must attempt to end the Great War by restoring the sacred connection between the Fisher King and the Land. Unfortunately, his problems are only beginning...

The Castle of the Fisher King rose before them. A medieval fortress upon a high hill, it was a massive structure of pale granite entwined in countless grape and ivy vines while climbing roses encircled its impressive towers and fortifications. The enormous iron gates of the fortress swung wide to reveal a courtyard overgrown with wild roses, while beyond the uneven flagstones stood the gates to the central keep. Much to their surprise, there were no guards or other defenses, and opening the heavy oak doors, Sam and his companions entered the building.
Within was an abandoned palace where beauty and wonder had crumbled to ruin. Penny and Alice choked back tears as they saw magnificent paintings and tapestries faded and ravaged by time, porcelain and marble statues of exquisite craftsmanship toppled and broken, and silver mirrors tarnished and blackened with age.
At the end of a corridor was a throne room. As big as a cathedral, the walls were of porphyry and serpentine marble, and were delicately carved to represent the Faerie Folk engaged in scenes of revelry, celebration, feasting, and merriment. Stained glass windows of breathtaking beauty allowed the afternoon sunlight to illuminate the room, and although whole and unbroken, thick pall of dust muted their bright colors. The floor was in checkerboard patterns of simple black and white, and extended to a raised dais of gray marble upon which sat a massive throne of dark stained oak carved in the shape of fantastic beasts and inlaid with gold and previous gems.
Seated upon the throne was an ancient king who must have been at a hundred years old. In his youth the King must have been impressive indeed: broad of shoulder and strong of chest, the King must have been a man of great physical strength and commanding appearance, and from the bones of his face had probably been quite handsome in his younger days. But now the man was a mere shadow of his younger self, with hair white as snow, heavy brows, and a beard that hung almost to his belt.
In spite of his fragile appearance, the King wore rich garments of silk and linen in gold, saffron, and scarlet, with a purple wool and velvet cloak trimmed in ermine.
Gold rings set with exotic gemstones gleamed upon his fingers, while upon his brow was a heavy crown of solid gold encrusted with flawless rubies which seemed to glow like burning coals in the afternoon sunlight. Curiously enough, leaning against the right side of the throne was a large round shield with a cover of simple black leather.

Slowly and carefully, Sam approached the Fisher King and fell to one knee before him.
"Your Majesty. Do I have the honor of addressing the Fisher King?"
"I have been called by that name, although I have many others." His voice was soft and pleasant to the ear, yet held a note of uncertainty. "What is your name, stranger?"

"My name is Sam Smith. My companions and I have come a long way to see you. May we have an audience?"

The Fisher King seemed to become lost in his own thoughts for a moment, his pale gray eyes the color of mist.
"No one has come here for a long... long time. I thought Perceval would be the one... but I was mistaken. None of the Knights ever returned, and I have been alone all these years..."

"Maybe we can help you. Please tell us how!" Alice cried, tears in her eyes.

The Fisher King moaned with pain. "This crown is awfully heavy. Why must I wear it?"

"If it pains you so, why don't you take it off?" Alice replied.

With considerable effort, Fisher King removed the golden crown, staring in bewilderment at the rubies which gleamed like drops of fresh blood... and with a cry of despair, the Fisher King hurled the crown across the room, where it shattered into pieces against the wall.
Much to his surprise, Sam noticed that it collapsed into a heap of cruel thorns, glistening with blood.

"Why must they make me into what I am not?" the Fisher King moaned, burying his face in his hands.
"Although the Shield roots me in place, I need the other Treasures to make me whole again.
"With the Cup, my strength shall be restored. With the Spear, my wound shall be healed... and with the Sword, the Land and I shall be one again."

The Autumn Queen
In my forthcoming novel, Black Powder, White Magic, Queen Bloodrose is mentioned in the chapter where Sam Smith and his companions enter the Garden of Forever and encounter the disturbing statues that are all that remain of both Lord Carnelian and Lord Serpentine as well as their goblin armies--statues of carnelian and serpentine marble who are faerie knights and warriors forever frozen in stone by sorcery.
In the final chapter to the novel, after Sam rescues Alice Liddell from the Origami Garden, we meet Queen Bloodrose in person... and discover that Alice is not so innocent as she appears.

Seated upon a massive throne intricately carved from ancient oak and inlaid with gold and precious stones was a Faerie Queen of breathtaking beauty. Were she to rise from the throne, the Faerie Queen would be just over six feet in height; lean and athletic in build like a jungle cat, she had the shapely and buxom figure of a classical fertility goddess with a flawless golden complexion the color of fine honey, a leonine mane of bright reddish-copper hair that hung in gleaming curls past her waist, and the beautiful features of a fallen angel. But without a disguise, the Faerie Queen could not be mistaken for human: born of the Goblin Folk and the Daoine Sidhe, her eyes were a brilliant emerald green and resembled those of a cat more than a human, for they were too large for a human face and had no visible whites, while her ears were long and delicately pointed. Her teeth were also like those of a cat, having small fangs and sharp canines, while her beautiful hair had highlights of metallic red, brass, and copper, and her angelic features were almost too perfect to be human. She wore the colors of Autumn, while from her shoulders hung a peculiar patchwork cloak in an elaborate diamond pattern; the individual patches were the color of autumn leaves and made from all manner of different fabrics and colors, and appeared to waver and shimmer, shifting and changing like the very nature of Faerie itself. Her name was Queen Bloodrose, the Queen of Form and Substance, Master of Alchemy and Transformation Magic, and was one of the Four Queens of the Seasons, making her one of the most powerful sorcerers in all of Faerie... and at this moment, she was quite angry.
Before her was a magic mirror whose ebony frame was carved with eldritch runes of power, and reflected within the glass were images of Sam Smith escaping the enchanted maze with his new companion, Alice Liddell.
The Autumn Queen clutched the arms of her throne and clenched her teeth, attempting to control her anger. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, Queen Bloodrose was infamous for fits of rage that could destroy entire towns and villages--and possibly whole kingdoms. The rage passed, only to be replaced by slowly burning anger and frustration.
"So, Miss Alice has escaped from the Origami Garden." The Autumn Queen turned to her minions.

Standing before her was a beautiful and seductive Faerie of the Daoine Sidhe. Although quite capable of breaking the hearts of mortal men, her stunning beauty paled before that of the Autumn Queen. Slender and shapely in build, her complexion was like flawless porcelain while her large eyes were jade green in color and like the Queen lacked visible whites; her raven-black hair was styled to resemble the petals of a poppy flower and hung past her shoulders, while her expensive clothes in shades of green and black were in the style of the Victorian Era. Curiously enough, she wore elbow-length gloves of black silk, and her delicate hands remained clutched in front of her at all times while in the presence of the Queen.
"Miss Poppy?"
"Yes, Your Majesty?" Poppy Nightshade replied, bowing before the Queen with inhuman grace.
"Miss Alice has escaped the Origami Garden. She has stolen something very precious to me, and I want it back. I want Miss Alice returned as well--and not one hair on that child's head is to be harmed--do you understand?"
"Yes, Your Majesty!" the Unseelie Sidhe gasped, shuddering in terror.
"Excellent." The Autumn Queen turned to her remaining minions.

Behind Poppy Nightshade were two mismatched Goblins, both wearing finely-tailored Victorian clothes which somehow did not quite look right on them. Looking like someone had attempted to turn a rat and a wolf into goblins and did not complete the transformation, the shorter of the two stood a few inches over five feet in height and was lean and muscular in build, with an unpleasant feral demeanor, sharp teeth like a malformed rat, long pointed ears, an unhealthy pale complexion, and spiky black hair that protruded in all directions while his eyes were a ghastly crimson. His partner was no less disturbing, standing nearly seven feet in height with the massive and powerful build of an ogre and a ruddy complexion like a perpetual sunburn as well as lupine features, sharp canine fangs, prominent pointed ears, a coarse mane of steel-gray hair that extended down both sides of his face into muttonchops sideburns, and bloodshot yellow eyes.
"Mister Flint? Mister Steel?"
"Yes, Your Majesty?" both chorused at once, immediately dropping to one knee and trembling in fear.
"Make sure that Miss Poppy completes her quest by any means necessary. Bring back Miss Alice as well as that which she stole from me--and if you harm so much as one hair on that child's head, you'll be leaving this castle on more than four legs.
Do I make myself clear?"
"YES, YOUR MAJESTY!" both Goblins shouted at once.
"Excellent. You will leave at once. I have other business to attend to."

As Poppy Nightshade swiftly departed the throne room followed by Flint and Steel, Queen Bloodrose once again turned toward her magic mirror.
"So Miss Alice has escaped the Origami Garden. I shall have to devise a far worse punishment for her..."

CHANGELING: A Midsummer Nightmare
Had an interesting idea for a screenplay:
A freelance artist by the name of Susan Winters living in England in a converted farmhouse on the outskirts of Glastonbury is mourning the loss of Morgan, her nine-year-old daughter. A practicing Wiccan, she has sought solace within the Celtic religion, but to no avail. To make matters worse, she learns that the recessive genetic disorder which killed her daughter has a 50% chance of being inherited by any other children she has, and is incurable.
Although Paul, her husband suggests adopting a new child or having test tube babies, she refuses to do so; Susan wants a child of her own, and refuses to look to medical science for the answers. Desolate and inconsolable, Susan wanders the house in a daze, unable to sleep and dreaming of her lost daughter. Her husband worries about her mental state, but Susan refuses to see a therapist.
Out of desperation she turns to witchcraft and the occult, and searching for answers spends hundreds of pounds on rare volumes on necromancy and black magic. By chance she discovers a reference to a faerie mound in the forest not far from the town where Susan lives--a place never touched by axes or cold iron. Susan contacts the local witches to ask them questions, but is warned to stay away from the faerie mound--especially at the Solstices and Equinoxes, when the walls between worlds grow thin and the Faerie Folk may walk between the realms.
Ignoring the warnings, Susan makes preparations for the ritual on the Summer Solstice. She bribes a local gravedigger to steal the body of her dead daughter from the cemetery, and after preparing the corpse for the ritual goes to the faerie mound with a black pig as a sacrifice.
Presenting the body of her dead daughter to the Faerie Folk, she calls upon the Daoine Sidhe to return her to life. The Faerie Folk agree to the bargain, asking for "A life for a life." Susan sacrifices the pig to the Faerie Folk, and to her amazement the Daoine Sidhe materialize and restore her daughter to life.
But there is something wrong with her daughter. Morgan remembers everything except her time in the hospital, but seems to know things no child her age should know. Strange and frightening accidents take place around her, and the bullies at school are often the victims. Her friends are terrified of her, and her Father--who suspected that Susan had brought back a child who looked like Morgan and bribed the child into acting like her--now adores Morgan and will do anything to please her. Susan soon discovers that what she brought back from the woods was not her daughter, but an Unseelie Faerie with her memories and physical form. To make matters worse, Morgan is growing stronger with each passing day, and Susan fears what will happen when the changeling child no longer has need of them.
But can Susan stop the Changeling before it is too late?

Ghost Girl
A fragment from Ghost Girl, which will either be a comic book or a television series.
Ghost Girl is the story of Amelia Ravenwood, a Changeling with the power to perceive the spirits of the dead who just happens to be a Dhampyr--the child of a Vampire. Such was the trauma of carrying the infant to term that her mother died in childbirth, and Amelia has sworn to avenge her death by becoming a vampire hunter. Taught necromancy and black magic by the Faeries of the Unseelie Court, her allies include several ghosts and the severed head of a high school cheerleader, the latter of whom was killed by her fellow cheerleaders when they were possessed by demons during the Homecoming Dance...

"Oh, be quiet. Before I brought you back from the dead, you were just a stupid cheerleader bound for Hell. Now I'm giving you a second chance."
"...and you're just a mean and rotten bitch of a necromancer who is probably going to Hell with me!"
"Strong words coming from a severed head."
--Amelia the Ghost Girl and Felicity.

The Summer Queen at Last
A story fragment from a future project, in which a teenage girl who believes in Faeries accidentally awakens the Winter Queen in New York City... and together with a Faerie Princess by the name of Stella Starlight must save the world from a Thousand Years of Winter by finding the Summer Queen before the Winter Solstice.

The retirement home was located in the Hollywood Hills, and was a forgotten collection of old bungalows from the 1920's in a quiet neighborhood surrounded by gently waving palm trees. Painted in soft pastel colors with spotless white trim, the buildings were preserved in perfect condition, as though somehow frozen in time. Emily could sense a faint shimmer of faerie magic in the air like heat waves over hot pavement on a summer day, and she knew that someone was using glamour to conceal the place from mortal sight as well as prevent the passage of time.
But why?
Wandering among the buildings, Emily experienced further evidence of faerie glamour: strange compulsions to wander in random directions whispered through her mind, and her sense of direction would easily have been confused were it not for the gentle hand of Stella upon her shoulder, steering her through the bewildering labyrinth of similar buildings and identical footpaths. At last they passed beneath a huge wooden torii gate and arrived at a Japanese garden of truly breathtaking beauty, where a waterfall cascaded down a series of lava rocks to a koi pond below. A wooden bridge spanned the pond, while Japanese maples, red and black pines, juniper bushes, and stands of bamboo were carefully arranged around the garden according to the proper artistic principles. Someone had spent many decades cultivating the garden, and not only was it a thing of great beauty, but also great power: stepping onto the bridge, Emily could sense arcane forces of immense magical might beneath her feet; but what were the Faeries using it for?
"Do you like my garden?" a soft and pleasant voice said unexpectedly from behind her.

Spinning around, Stella and Emily found themselves facing an elderly Japanese gentleman who was barely five feet tall and had to be at least ninety years old. In spite of his advanced years, the gentleman appeared to be in good health and wore the traditional robes of a Shinto priest. The gentleman regarded them with an amused smile, and his jade-green eyes seemed to contain the wisdom of the ages one moment and sparkle with youth and laughter the next.
"It's the most beautiful garden I've ever seen," Emily replied.
"Thank you. I have been tending this garden a long, long time. My name is Akiro Ito."
"Emily Grant. Pleased to meet you."
"Stella Starlight. Pleased to meet you too, Akiro-Sama."

The Gardener raised an eyebrow. "I know what you are, Miss Starlight. No doubt you have looked beyond the mask and known me for what I am. Since time is of the essence, shall we put aside our masks and get down to business, as you Americans would say?"
"Be my guest."

Emily started in amazement as with surprising speed and grace, the Gardener whirled in place and was transformed into a handsome humanoid fox who was lean and athletic in build and stood nearly six feet in height. Revealed to be one of the Kitsune of Japanese mythology, Akiro Ito wore the classical robes, sash, and trousers of a noble samurai while a katana instantly appeared in one hand, which the Kitsune promptly sheathed in his obi; even more peculiar, the shapeshifting fox had snow-white fur and jade-green eyes, while protruding beneath his robes were five tails.
"Five tails?" Stella exclaimed. "I am indeed honored to meet your acquaintance, Akiro-Sama."

The Kitsune smiled and gave a graceful bow. "It is not often I meet a Princess of the Daoine Sidhe. I too, am honored. But we no longer have time for such pleasantries; the Sunset Queen has need of you, and I fear we may already be too late."
Solstice: A Winter's Tale.


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