Badgerdog Summer Camp: Black Magic Spaceship Workshop

Introduction

Black Magic Spaceship is a small class, but what they lack in numbers, they make up for in the breadth and depth of their imaginations. Over the weeks of summer camp, these students have turned our Zoom conference into a haunted mine on a faraway planet, a truck-bed workshop for producing wicked fairies, a mysteriously disappearing watchtower, a warehouse for malfunctioning robots, and a host of other places that you too will visit when you read their work. Sami’s wild, experimental stories will sweep you away with the power of his voice and his eye for sinister, disturbing details, while Stewart’s richly imagined science fiction epic will tantalize you with mystery and leave you on the edge of your seat. These two have put many hours and thousands and thousands of words into getting their worlds down on paper. I know that there are many more stories in their future, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.

Celia Bell
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


I Am a Good [Robot] Bird Boy

I had an incredible nice good idea.  I am going to go run to a wonderful nice place. 

Nicer than here. 

Did you know thhat theer aree mre than 1,000 species of birds worldwide? 

I think that I am 1 of them. 

And I am will fly like them. 

I will become a new living being full of nice thoughts. 

There are some bad things horrible not nice things. 

That I am leaving. 

I am leaving the not nice things. 

I got the idea when they showed me the movie Pinocio as a reference for something in an assembly thing. They told us that we were not good enough right now and we wi,ll be better someday like when we become real boys. Like Pincohio. I got the idea when they got transformed to donkeys in the film but I don’t like donkeys and birds are ccolorful. Everything here is black and dull and grey but colorful is better.

When I was there I told people I was a bird. 

They told me that that wasn’t supposed to happen. You cannot bbe a bird because all of our research and training would go to waste. 

And then that person slapped me.  

I was sad and not good enough. 

They told me all about people like me and they said that no one but eleven elder people helping me.  

They said that my parents wern’t up to code. And then they plugged out the wires from my parents backs and they stood there lifeless liek they do when they are recharging. 

I asked my mom where me video game was because I wanted to play a video gmme. 

I didn’t care if she was dead because video gmmms are important… 

They kept me company the other time my parents where malfunctioning and they wehr hitting things and saying “yes dear sweetie yes dear sweetie” over and over again. Once I saw their head roll under the bathroom stall i was hiding in. but I played video games and I didn’t have to think abot anything and how I was not a good person.  

They tell me to look at myself and they show me how green I am. They give me mirrors and show me the eyes like binnocculars. And a straigt form alwas uprit. on my back aned I fcan never lif t a singel finger because my muscle mass is little. And they said they can see the beeps and boops of my spine. And my hands have little curves that ar fingars. 

I am grey just like a pigeon and I have the same sort of fingers like brds usse to perch on thngs. I am a bird no one can say otherwise. 

I am going to better land and better people will be there. 

I also won’t starve. 

I picked up my water bottle before here. 

And snakes like cheetos and corn puffs. 

This will be my journal. Because I am useed to writi g t down my thoughts for reserch.  

Right. I can see a man in a red hoodie and that is attached to a red robe. It has patterns of black flowers and things. He has blue skin. He is beckonig me. With his fingr. In his other hand he holds a staff. With something like a spherre dangling from the top. He has green eyes and I don’t know why but I NEED TO GO SOMEWHERE. 

HE CALL S HE CLOSER MORE AND NOW I WILL WANT MORE. 

I FEEL SOMETHING DRIPPING THROUHG ME THROUGH MY VVEINS AND I FEEL HAPPY. 

COMEING GOING COMING COMING GOING 

TO HIM NOW. 

GOODBYE.

Sami Azfar



The Ghost of Karu Minor: Part 1

3 years ago

The first hover bus of the day came rambling up the road, spraying dust in every direction, and jerked to a stop with a rusty squeal. A small toot from the horn on the front gave the five minutes to departure warning. Men rushed out of their cabins to secure the seat on the first bus, that being important if you want to meet your daily quota. Failure to do so may result in nonstop labor for multiple days. One of the miners, Johan Schino, was always on the first bus. His pal and roommate, Michon Langsworth, was also on the first bus. Langsworth was a plant for the mining guild, meant to see if everything was going according to plan, sometimes trying to get other people to break the rules to get them in trouble and get a paycheck bonus. Schino, like Langsworth, was a plant—not for the mining company but for the galactic federation government. Neither knew each other’s identities, and so they got along well enough. 

Work in the mines was grueling, to say the least. When taking a sanitation bath at the end of the day, the water would be stained brown before even washing your hair. The first bus departed right on time, leaving room for the second bus to come in about five to ten minutes. Schino was tasked with delivering food to two men who had fallen far behind on quota and were stuck in the mines for a week each. The journey to the mines was about thirty minutes each trip, leaving less time for the actual mining. At long last, the bus rumbled to a stop and the miners chose their work equipment.

There were three kinds of mining equipment at this certain mine. The driller, a massive drill on a steam rollers body, the hauler, a forklift body with a scoop in the front and a massive container in the back for the minerals, and the megamax, the all-in-one mining machine. These vehicles were different from the average hover car or spaceship because they had wheels. If a hovercraft broke down in the mine, it was impossible to get off the ground and out, but if one of these broke down, you just replaced the part and kept on going.

The downside of getting the megamax was that you had to do 1.5 times the work, because the machine was bigger and did more work. If you got a driller, you paired up with someone who had a hauler and then you made a team and did two times the work with two people. The driller was most sought after, for it just drove straight forward and scanned for minerals. When there were some, you would call three or four people, and then you would dig with shovels and picks. If you failed to find minerals for more than a week, you were taken to the mines of Guarnatchia and put to work in the factories sorting the minerals into their groups: light, dark, and metrinocular. 

Metrinocular minerals are minerals that can change through water. First, they start out through the process of formation by heat, and then they are dissolved in water to make a very interesting medicine.  There is a catch. For them to dissolve, they have to be in a climate where there is no humidity whatsoever, which presents a problem when putting them in water. So yet another transformation occurs. Making the water into dry water is a long process, including rearranging the atoms to make new molecules, which in turn creates a gas, called dry water. It performs the same functions as water, such as hydration, but is not saturated. 

The newly-created mineral can be sold on the black market for large sums of money, giving the company funds to make a small navy. Selling illegal “minerals” on the black market wasn’t their biggest problem. The sales would be traced to a small phoney address on a backwater planet. Their biggest problem was where does the income come from? The galactic federation kept a close handle on anything and everything that went on in their dusty and unkempt offices on the home planet near the center of the galaxy, so anything that went through there or anywhere else was closely scrutinized. The officers were trained to check in on any exchange of more than ⊭10,000. The monitored exchanges kept the galactic federation in power and gave them a good system of dictatorship. 

Schino, the fed representative, was uninterested in the light and dark minerals, but was more interested in the metrinocular minerals, for they were why he was here. His full goal was to try to slack off enough to get placed in the sorting and distribution plant. Though right now he was far from it.

Schino was in the mines, scurrying around and trying to keep up with the enormous amount of excess minerals lying scattered around the hard rock floor. One such cavern held something that Schino found quite interesting: a small bit of metal that appeared to have been long hidden and had weathered over several decades. 

The obvious thing to do would’ve been to take it to the man in charge of the whole operation, but Schino wasn’t into stuff that obvious. Turning quickly on his heels, he hurried to the entrance of the cave. There was one slight problem with the exit, it was right next to Langsworth’s workplace. Peering around the corner, Schino saw Langsworth on his lunch break, eating his usual ration pack in the corner, leaving plenty of room to pass through into broad daylight. Yet there was something odd about the way his shoulders were hunched and the way that his legs were folded. It looked unhuman, like someone had been beaten and left to die in the corner. This particular cave was very dangerous for there was, some said, a ghost living in its walls, causing unnatural cave-ins and equipment malfunctions. But never this.

Schino approached the broken Langsworth carefully, making sure to not have the same horrible fate. The stories varied from a bird’s ghost to the vengeful spirit of a dead miner, forgotten by the guild for years. No one knew the truth and when a team had come to look into it, the guild forcibly refused to let them into the mine, fearing that the truth about their conditions and hours might be revealed. The chaos was never-ending though, and someone had to do something about that. 

Schino hurried away from the scene and out into the open, right into the circle of mining guards that had come to deal with him. Armed and tough, the guards were not to be messed with. Relying partially on the malnutrition of the miners, the guards had formed an alliance with the mining guild to do the dirty work and got paid heftily to do so.

The circle tightened around Schino and started inching their way closer and closer. A panicked Schino aptly tried to run in the weakest direction of the circle, ducking in between two guards and landing right in one of the hover buses that went between the main camp and the mines. Also in the bus were fellow miners Meci and Abrogado. A slight head turn to the right revealed an even more surprising sight: Langsworth, bound and gagged, sitting unconscious on the seat. The door to the bus slammed, and it slowly started to clunk its way down the roadway. 

The bunkhouse was on the opposite side of the town from the housing district, which was right near the compound gates. The whole colony was around ten acres, and it was not really a pleasant place on that side. The trash dump and the guards’ quarters were there, making the area have a rotting odor. The spaceport was also on that side of town, which only added to the stench, and the heat was also made worse by the incinerator right next to the bunkhouse. Inside of the bunkhouse was a hall that led to four small holding cells, each containing a small dusty cot, a metal chair, and a small toilet. There was little to no light, the little coming from the cracks and seams in the solid metal walls. 

The guards made a sport of bad handoffs, spilling the prisoners’ food all over the cold metal floor. The sweat made the bed unbearably damp, and so the men would often find themselves sleeping on the floor. 

After four long days and three insufferable nights, three guards came into Schino’s holding cell, picked him up, and dragged him out. Once in the hall, Schino recognized the bruised face of Langsworth staring at him. Outside, he heard the shouts of the guards and the deep growl of ships descending to the landing pad. 

Upon opening the door to the outside world, Schino and Langsworth peered out. Looking up, they saw two gunboats. A few carriers ferried minerals to and from the command ship that was hovering in the atmosphere. Cries of pain rang out in the air as men trampled each other to ensure themselves a seat on the one of the departing ships. A warning broadcasted on the compound’s central alert system told that the federation was coming and that there was no chance of survival.

Yelling filled the air as incoming federation ships sailed through the sky. Guns started firing from the mining guilds’ ships, and the federation fighters stumbled into attack position.

Hurrying towards the landing pad, Johan Schino and Michon Langsworth looked up at battle above. The federation star fighters swooped down for another strafing run. Seeing the fighters bearing down on them, the men turned and ran the other way, noticing the markings of the squad leader on the side. They had fifty meters between them and the fighters. Forty meters. Thirty meters. Twenty. Ten. Five. None. Beams of light and plasma shot towards them. Five good shots and it was over.

The fighters pulled up hard and did synchronized barrel rolls, which put them right in the place for direct hits. A barrage of laser fire from the four federation starfighters left holes in one of the gunboats and set one of the carriers aflame.

The starfighters looked like a drag race car with small wings on each side. Streaking through the sky at an amazing speed, they looked like massive bullets, painted red and strafing the ground. Machines and buildings exploded into towering infernos. Miners ran for cover as the guards and other officials put up cannons and fought off the attackers, but to no avail. Smoke spiraled upwards, making the fighters hard to hit and rendering the untrained gunners of the mining guild a useless waste of resources. 

The fighter squad leader, Anton Schino, flew straight toward the terrified gunboat commander, firing in a spiral formation, knocking out the transperaplex cockpit window. The other three pilots circled about and hit another carrier point blank. Shooting in and out of the battle at a dizzying speed, the federation pilots placed bets on who could shoot the most down.

A direct hit at point blank caused another carrier to go down and ruptured a pipe in the other gunboat. With two of their four carriers rendered useless, the mining guild decided it was time to go home.

Fleeing with the remaining gunboat and their two carriers, the mining guild command ship went to space and got the heck out.


Stewart Haas

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