The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

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Imaginary Adventures

One of the views from Beavers Bend Brewery

The Problematic Lyre

Peyton was warned the lyre would empower her emotions.


“I need to try a different approach!” Peyton shouted in frustration.

The lyre did come with a warning that it would empower her emotions. She thought the inventor meant it figuratively and not literally. The golden lyre’s ouroboros body of a dragon eating its tail should’ve warned her this was no ordinary instrument. She tried to play a calming song, but the wind’s angry whips made it impossible for her to string together any music.

She retreated inside her tiny cabin in the middle of the forest outside Hochatown.

“That’ll teach me for playing a song about my breakup on a magical lyre,” Peyton mumbled, trying to make a joke out of her predicament.

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and let her mind drift to happy thoughts of cute baby animals and silly memes as she played a peaceful tune. The wind softened its pounding on the wooden cabin until it came to a complete rest with the conclusion of the song. 

Peyton lifted her eyes open to the sight of the lyre’s inventor standing before her. Peyton cussed, nearly dropping the instrument.

“What did you give me, Modva?” Peyton demand. “Are you like an actual alien or something? I thought you were in a costume when I met you. And how did you even get in here and find me?”

Peyton assumed Modva was a human in her late 20s just like herself and that the light purple skin was cosmetic. She met Modva outside a small used bookstore earlier that afternoon in town. She didn’t give the inventor’s appearance second thought even though she didn’t know of any book character who wore a long, white lab coat with black spandex leggings and a black sweater. Two hair sticks tied up Modva’s black hair with rubies encapsulated on the ends, which complemented her red sneakers.

“First, as previously instructed, I gifted you with the Winds of Emotion Lyre to help you process your feelings,” Modva calmly and factually stated. “Second, you would technically classify me as an alien based on your definition of being born on another planet. Third, I have tracking installed on all of my inventions to follow up with people. Finally, your door was unlocked.”

Peyton stood in silence for a moment as she processed what she’d learned. She marched up to the inventor and thrust the lyre in her arms.

“I don’t know what your endgame is, but whatever it is, but I don’t want any part of it,” Peyton huffed as she opened the front door.

“All I was hoping was for you to learn that the journey itself was all that mattered,” she explained as she respectfully left the cabin.

“I don’t need some dangerous magically lyre for that,” Peyton scoffed before shutting the door. 

Modva sighed. “Let’s get it started again.”

Modva stepped off the porch’s steps and walked down a trail to a free-standing wooden white door with a red frame. She pressed down on the black handle and pushed open the door. Through the door contained another time and place where the sun was out in a small town. The door had a view of Peyton enjoying the view and beers from Beavers Bend Brewery – before Modva gifted her the lyre outside the bookshop.

Modva adjusted her lab coat. “I need to try a different approach.”


This week’s short story introduces Modva, a new end-timer! As touched in the story, Modva’s journey throughout time and space involves her helping people with fantastical inventions that reshape people’s reality.

The story came about from a writing challenge where authors had a list of words, sentence blocks, defining features, and a word count limit of 800. The Defining Features were, “End the story the way you start it. i.e. use a cyclical structure” and “an ouroboros is present somewhere in the story.” The Sentence Blocks were, “Let’s get it started again” and “The journey itself was all that mattered,” which I used all of them. I used two of the four words from the word list, “Cyclical, Doc, Wind, and Music.”

The location was influenced by a visit to the town last year and this article my friend Heide Brandes wrote for NonDoc.

Missing Stars scene

Missing Stars

While driving her through the countryside to visit her parents for the holidays, Jacqui realizes there are no stars in the sky.


The lights from the car Jacqui rented barely pierced through the Britain countryside. Delays plagued her flight from the states, and she hadn’t planned on driving at midnight. Regret began to set up a room in her mind for not booking a hotel room for the night, but her parents were eager to see her for the holidays visit, and a free bed is a free bed. While she was exhausted, she knew being in the middle of nowhere shouldn’t be as dark as it was that night. She looked up at the sky.

There were no stars.

The sky was pitch black like someone covered it up. Not even the moon was visible.

“This is some crazy Doctor Who level weirdness,” Jacqui commented.

Jacqui was no stranger to the British sci-fi time-traveling series. Her social media account would reveal photos of her cosplaying as characters from the TV show, usually as Martha Jones, as she bore a similar resemblance. However, she never remotely considered an out of this world experience happening to her.

She reached for her phone stationed in the central dashboard to make sure she didn’t take a wrong turn when a voice from the backseat whispered. “Did you realize the stars are gone, too?”

Jacqui slammed on the breaks. She snapped her head to the backseat where a ghostly being with a human skull shrouded in a crystalline, black-draped hoodie. It waved their four skeletal hands hello. Jacqui screamed and reached for the car door handle.

“Oh, the stars are missing, but I’m what freaks you out?” the being snarked. 

Jacqui was halfway out of the car when the snakiness of the being’s tone made her mind say, “hold up…” She decided to reply. “Okay, then, who are you, and what are you doing here?”

“My name is Slayer, and after visiting a parade, I decided to visit a time and place on this planet randomly,” they casually explained as they floated through the car and outside. Slayer looked up at the sky. “From what I know about Earth, there should most definitely be stars here.”

Jacqui stepped out of the car and studied the sky alongside the floating, leg-less being in sympathetic concern. “Yeah, there should be stars here.”

“The stars still exist, though,” Slayer added. “I popped off this planet and checked, but in this time, at this place, they are not visible.”

Jacqui reflected on her sci-fi knowledge. “Could there be some sort of device blocking them from our view?”

“That is a possibility,” Slayed reaffirmed in a monotone. With one hand, they reached through their chest and pulled out a black tablet device through their robe. Slayer tapped around on the screen. “I’m showing a device not from this planet nearby.”

Jacqui grabbed her phone and keys from inside the car. “Let’s go check it out then.”

Slayer took the lead, with Jacqui following behind using her phone’s flashlight. They walked up a short hill before stopping in front of a straw scarecrow dressed in jeans and a button-up red flannel shirt.

“This is it,” Slayer softly spoke.

“That’s a scarecrow,” Jacqui quipped.

Using all four of his arms, Slayer stripped off the shirt and straw from the scarecrow’s chest. Inside was a silver metal box with three black switches and a maxed-out gauge.

“What is that?” Jacqui asked.

“I’m not quite sure,” Slayer mumbled as he reached for the switches. “Let’s kill this machine.”

Slayer flicked all three switches down. The gauge spun down, and the stars and moon flickered back to life, illuminating the countryside. 

Jacqui cheered. “And let there be light!”

From further up the hill, an exclamation of pain screeched through the night. With the sky back, Jacqui was able to see a destroyed house further up the hill. The ground rumbled, and the cry got closer, revealing a black six-legged spider the size of a pickup truck with the head of a bison. Steam sizzled off its body like the light was burning it. It grabbed the device inside the scarecrow with one of its two harry tentacle arms while knocking Jacqui away with the other. The arm passed through Slayer, who was unfazed by the attack.

The creature flipped the switches, causing the stars to fade out. The beast was nearly invisible with the lack of light, making the device it held appear as if it was floating. The creature hissed and scurried away.

Slayer floated over to Jacqui and helped her up.

“What was that?” Jacqui forced herself not to scream.

“I do not know,” Slayer answered with a hint of excitement. “We should kill it.”

“Or stop it at least. It looks like any sort of light hurts it. You think a car’s headlights will work?”

“It would stand to reason.”

“Then let’s go.”

Jacqui ran down the hill, with Slayer floating beside her. Jacqui jumped in the driver’s seat while Slayer slipped through the back. The car roared to life with the lights on their brightest setting. Slayer directed Jacqui where to drive, using the tablet to track the extraterrestrial device.

A minute later, down a gravel road, the lights illuminated another demolished house. The creature emerged from the wreckage, hissing at the car. It flung a corpse at the vehicle, which Jacqui narrowly avoided. She spun the car back at the creature, aiming the lights at it. The lights melted away its body, and it retreated down the hill.

“It’s working,” Slayer praised.

“Yeah, but it went off the road, and I can’t get to it.”

“I can fix that.”

Slayer pulled out a shimmering purple box the size of a tennis ball from their chest and attached it to the car’s ceiling. Dozens of veins of purple light wires erupted from the box, expanding in every direction throughout the vehicle before sinking inside. 

“What did you do?” Jacqui screamed.

“Modified your car to fly,” Slayer calmly explained. 

Jacqui could feel the car lift up from the ground. “Woah.”

“Go!”

She slammed on the gas, and the car flew down the hill. In seconds, the creature was in their sights. She pressed forward, shining more light on the beast until it collapsed from its legs melting. The creature dropped its sky blackening device, causing the stars to return upon impact with the ground. Jacqui kept the car still on the creature as it melted away into a massive pool of black goo.

Slayer floated out of the car and inspected the goo. Jacqui joined.

“Is it dead?” she questioned.

“Yes,” Slayer affirmed.

Slayer returned to the car, pulled out the transformation box, returning the vehicle to normal.

“Well, that was an adventure,” Jacqui declared.

“Indeed it was,” Slayer admitted. “You should get to wherever you were going. I imagine they’ll be here soon enough to clean up this mess.”

“Who’s they?”

From above, a blinding white light blasted down on them. Jacqui felt like a criminal caught in the spotlight. 

Slayer slipped down through the ground. “It doesn’t matter. You’ll forget all of this soon enough.”

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “It’s midnight, and your headlights barely pierce through the darkness settled on the road in front of you. Shaking away your exhaustion, you begin to panic as you realize you’re lost. As you reach for your phone, a voice from the back seat whispers, “Did you realize the stars are gone, too?”

Story Artwork by Chen Kang at Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

Discover more stories following Slayer via the character tag.

Have a safe holiday travel!

Festival Suggestions

After finishing a project for her history class to modernize an ancient Greek festival honoring Dionysus, she jokingly makes a toast to him and the god appears. 


“Finished at last,” Shelby cheered to herself, alone in her studio apartment. 

Shelby stood up from her two-person dining table where her laptop lived. She stretched her body from the extensive writing session. As a final class project, her history professor assigned everyone to write a report about modernizing a forgotten tradition. She chose the Great Dionysia, which she learned about the ancient Greek festival honoring Dionysus from a video game.

To celebrate, she procured a clean wine class from her kitchen cabinet and poured herself a glass of her favorite boxed red wine. Jokingly, she raised her glass in the air.

“To you, Dionysus,” she toasted. “Hope you like my festival idea.”

She took a sip and then sat her glass down on the kitchen counter. The moment she looked up back at her table, she saw a tall, slender man in a gray suit. She shrieked. The man dramatically spun around like a dancer in an elaborate musical number reveal. His brown, curly hair with a pair of locks rested gracefully on his shoulders. In his hair wear a pair of grape leaves. 

“I love it!” the man praised.

Shelby grabbed the pepper spray attached to her car keys and sprayed the man in the eyes. The man did not flinch. He casually blinked when the spray stopped.

“Yeah, that doesn’t hurt us,” he politely explained.

“Who are you?” Shelby demand with a tremble.

The man’s face brunched up, offended she didn’t know. “You just wrote a report about me.”

Shelby’s jaw dropped. “Dionysus?”

“Ding!” he smiled.

Dionysus sat in the gray armchair Shelby had stationed next to the table. He waved his hand over the table, swirling to life in a blue-green mist, two bottles of wine in the air that gently landed on the table. He took one, drinking directly from the bottle. Dionysus nodded at Shelby and nudged the other bottle toward her in a peaceful gesture to join him.

“How did you do that?” Shelby asked in a hushed voice.

“You know what,” he started and then paused to think how. “I just kind of made them appear. God of wine, et cetera, et cetera. Would it help if I turned into a fox to prove who I am?”

Shelby nodded. Happy to put on a show, he snapped his fingers, and in a poof of purple smoke, he reappeared as a red fox with the same suit top.

“Ta-Da!” Dionysus announced in a charming tone.

Shelby fainted, falling on the floor. Dionysus sighed and snapped back into the human form.

“I was hoping to talk and make a few suggestions for your festival, so I’ll just edit your document while you take a nap.”


This week’s short story brought to you by wine and this writing prompt: “You’re sat alone, with a glass of wine in hand, and decide to jokingly toast the Greek God Dionysus. You did not expect him to appear before you in human form, create two bottles of wine, and take a seat next to you.”

The game mentioned in the story is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which has made me fantasize about putting on a modern version of the festival. Hope you enjoyed this fun little story. 

Story Artwork by Nona Calingasan at Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

Who Killed the Toymaker Aboard Starbringer II?

Detective Psychon isn’t a fan of working while on the way to a job, but when the ship’s captain threatens to toss him out of the airlock if he doesn’t help solve the murder, he figures he should help.


Detective Psychon wasn’t a fan of working while on the way to a job, but when the ship’s captain threatened to toss him out of the airlock if he didn’t help solve the murder, he figured he was at a good place to put down his book.

“I suppose I can consult on this matter,” Psychon calmly conceded as he sat his book on the table.

“Thank you,” sighed Captain Kára Róta. “My clients are starting to get on my last nerve over this whole situation, and we don’t need more dead bodies from me killing them.”

Psychon didn’t doubt the capability of her frustration. She was a six-foot-tall humanoid lizard with sapphire-red skin and the build of a sprinter. Her wardrobe of black jeans, a black t-shirt with a blue tree on it, and a black leather jacket with a neon blue backlight collar presented her as a rebellious leader. She had a subtle scar over her right eyebrow, which is possible to correct, but Psychon assumed it was some badge of honor from a fight or a tragic reminder or possibility for looks.

Kára led the detective through the hallway and around a corner. The hallway’s soft blue metal walls and strips of light exhibited a style of luxury. The ship was a Class 15, so he knew it wouldn’t be far whenever he was going.

“What do you know about this murder?” Psychon inquired.

“One: the murder weapon was a spoon,” Kára stated. “Two: the victim died of asphyxiation. Three: the cat is missing. Four: the victim’s last words were, ‘Seven is a crowd.’ Five: The Train was early.”

They turned a corner where standing guard in front of an open door was a seven-foot-tall minotaur with red bull fur and muscles that could stop any intruder. Numerous pockets adorned his outfit, from his brown camo cargo pants to his matching brown shirt. The minotaur’s firm posture relaxed at the sight of his boss.

“What do you mean the train was early?” Psychon asked, confused as they were flying in space.

“The Train is the name of the deceased’s business partner.”

“Ah.”

The minotaur stepped aside to let Kára and Psychon inside.

“Thank you, Sinas,” Kára greeted. “Did anything happen while I retrieved the detective?”

“Everyone stayed put in their rooms,” Sinas happily reported. 

“That’s a relief,” Kára chirped. “Anyway, Detective Psychon, meet the deceased and The Train.”

Psychon stepped inside. The room was exactly like his on the ship with deep purple padded walls with a trim of white lights along the ceiling border. Sitting perfectly still on the large purple bed was The Train, a small furry green cube-shaped species known as quadratums. The Train began to speak, but Psychon held up his finger for them to be silent as he continued to scan the room.

On the floor was the victim, another quadratum. The deceased had a large spoon sticking out in their mouth. While The Train wore a formal three-piece black suit, their client had on a paint-stained hooded robe. Surrounding the body were seven different stuffed animals of original creatures.

Psychon let his figure down and gave The Train a look of acquisition. “Tell me about this person and what you’re doing here.”

“His name is Lignite, and he’s a toy designer,” The Train blurted out as he fiddled with his fingers. “We have a meeting on Viophus to discuss a manufacturing deal. We booked separate rooms, but we planned to get together to review our presentation. I was early for our meeting, and when I approached the door, I heard Lignite shout, ‘Seven is a crowd,’ and then I heard a loud thump. I banged on the door, and then I pulled out the backup key Lignite gave me if he locked himself out, which he tends to do. I let myself in and found him dead. I promptly called the captain, and here we are.”

“Found the cat,” a male voice called out from the hallway.

Psychon turned to the young adult human holding a black cat in his arms.

“Need to add a number six, one of these may be a lie,” Psychon commented to Kára.

“Excellent work, Rafael,” Kára thanked, ignoring Psychon. “Hold onto the cat.”

“Actually,” Psychon interjected. “Would you sit the cat down in the room?”

Rafael looked at Kára for confirmation. Kára nodded, and Rafael gently placed the cat on the plush, black carpeted floor. The cat bolted out of the room and down the hallway. Rafael ran after it.

“There’s something in this room that’s bothering the cat,” Psychon pointed out. “Tell me, Kára, can you shut off the fire suppression in the room?”

“Yeah, but why?” she replied.

“Humor me.”

Kára held a finger on her black bracelet. “Yo, Norbit, turn off the fire suppression system in guest room three, please.”

A robotic series of beeps replied over the bracelet. 

“It’s done,” Kára said. “Thank you, Norbit.”

Psychon took off his pointy black hat decorated with an eclectic assortment of patches sew throughout. He blindly reached around inside until he pulled out a red stick with a trigger on it. He gently pulled on the trigger, igniting a small flame from the point. 

“We should honor Lignite’s last request,” the detective proclaimed. “Seven is a crowd, so let’s burn these toys to honor him.”

“No!” plead the stuffed toy that was a cross between a unicorn and a beaver as it sprung to life.

Everyone except Psychon jumped back, surprised.

“A fabrication,” The Train muttered. “I-I just assumed you were some new toy I hadn’t seen yet.”

“That was the point,” the fabrication confessed. “Lignite’s been ripping off my designs, and when I learned he had a big deal coming his way, I wanted to make I got my fair share. When he wouldn’t cut me in, I shoved that spoon down his throat.”

With a crack of a smile on his face, Psychon strolled out with his hands in his jacket pockets. “Mystery solved. I expect my next ride to be free.”


This week’s short story was inspired by these two writing prompts. The First, “Write a detective murder mystery that takes place on a space ship.” The second: “We need you to solve the crime, Detective. What we know about the case is this. One: the murder weapon was a spoon. Two: the victim died of asphyxiation. Three: the cat is missing. Four: the victim’s last words were “Seven is a crowd.” Five: the train was early. Six: one of these may be a lie.”

I got motivated to write another detective story and I wanted to loop in the characters from Starbringer II in this mystery. If you liked this story, be sure to read my other stories with these characters by clicking on the character tags below.

3×10 Relics of the 45th

Inspired by his fortune, Geoff invites Sam to visit with Michael Gonzales at the 45th Infantry Division Museum. The museum’s curator talks about his first encounter and the findings of paranormal investigators who have visited.

Subscribe to new episodes of Tales Unveiled via Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or anywhere you enjoy podcasts. New episodes on Fridays!


Tales Unveiled is a production of The Show Starts Now Studios and is produced by me, Dennis Spielman. The voice of Sam Saxton is Dennis Spielman. The voice of Professor Geoff DeRoot is Jeff Provine.

We would love to thank Michael Gonzales for taking the time to share his stories with us about the museum. 

If you love what we’re doing, want us to keep being artist owned and patron supported, click here. In return, you can get bonus content, including early access to all my projects.

Behind the Scenes Commentary

Ghosts seem to love the theatre and I’m starting to believe any military related too. After having to reschedule due to the ice storm, we recorded this episode on Tuesday, I edited it yesterday, and finished it up today.

After the interview, we did get a brief tour of museum as in real life, Jeff did have to leave to teach a class. Seeing some of Hitler’s personal artifices was one of the creepiest things to see, especially his mirror. I kind of what to write a story about that mirror.

I recommend going to visit the museum for yourself as the have rather impressive collection. Jeff and I are planning to do one more episode, so we can end the season on Friday the 13th.

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