The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Tag: Sinas Dimakis

Who Killed the Toymaker Aboard Starbringer 2 - art by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle

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 on The Glimmingdrift.

“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.”


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.”

Who Killed the Toymaker Aboard Starbringer 2 - art by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle

This short story was inspired by these two writing prompts. The First, “Write a detective murder mystery that takes place on a spaceship.” 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 Psychon 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.

Thank you to Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle for bringing this scene to life! I sent over several different images of hotels for inspiration and I love how she blended everything together for the room.

Chronologically, the next story for Psychon is Script Thief, which takes place aboard The Glimmingdrift that he was reading about at the beginning of this story.

Adventure Granted - art by Bienvenido Julian at Design Pickle

Adventure Granted

Be careful mocking eccentric small business owners, asking them for an adventure because you might find yourself on an alien planet. 

Waking up in this battleground wasteland was payback. Rafael Vásquez was sure of it. His parents were small business owners themselves, and he knew better than to ridicule others. He was better than that. He regretted making fun of that eccentric couple and their boutique selling “personalities.” He thought their business was a joke or some crazy immersive art installation. The place did look the part with its floor-to-ceiling assortment of drawers, all labeled and allegedly filled with personality traits. At the time, he told himself he was “just playing around,” but now accepted that his attitude must’ve come across as mocking when he requested they give him an adventure instead.

Rafael went to bed like usual only to wake up on his blanket and pillow in a crater filled with corpses of green lizard people in military gear. He was no expert on alien lizard biology by all accounts, but judging from the bodies’ rot, they had been dead for a long time.

After spending the first half-hour pinching himself to wake up, screaming for help, and begging to be returned home, Rafael settled to a state of acceptance. An adventure was what they must’ve given me, he thought. I’m not sure why my clothes are different and why they didn’t bother to give me my shoes.

With no answers, he wandered about the graveyard. He knew he wouldn’t get far in his socks, so he took a pair of boots from a corpse. He then pilfered a golden sword and what he interrupted as an automatic assault rifle from someone who looked important because of their uniform’s cleanliness and intricateness.

“I wouldn’t normally steal from the dead, but I’m just trying to survive, so I hope you will forgive me,” Rafael apologized as he equipped himself. “Man, I wish you could tell me where I’m at.”

The alien landscape reminded him of some photos he’d seen of Mars but mixed with New Mexico’s desert that he’d experienced with his older brother and cousins during a road trip to visit family. A few hours passed, and all was silent until three white lights whizzed past above him. They looked like drones to Rafael as they spun a circle around them, flashed gold, and proceed to fly north. With no better leads, he chased after them.

Thanks to the flat red clay valley and the casual cruising speed of the lights, they were easy for him to follow. The lights came to a stop when they arrived at a patch of land unobtrusive by bodies or nature. The lights spread out, singling for a landing spot for the spacecraft above. To Rafael, it looked like a house-size flying limo. The ship had a few significant scratches against its shiny black paint, but they only gave it a sexy rebel battle scar vibe. Along the side near the front were neon blue digital letters in an unrecognizable language until he blinked. They transformed into English to read Starbringer II.

The side doors began to slide open. Rafael pointed his rifle at them, but then he had a thought. Maybe they’re here in peace? After all, if they wanted me dead, they probably could’ve killed me from their ship. Rafael returned his gun to his holster.

The ship’s ramp extended out, letting off three people. Taking command of the center was a six-foot-tall humanoid lizard with sapphire, red skin. There was something about her that gave Rafael the impression she was a slick, badass rebel with a gentle heart. She sported black jeans and a black leather jacket with a neon blue backlight like a rebel, but then she also wore a black t-shirt with a drawing of a calm white tree with flowery branches.

To her left was a seven-foot-tall minotaur with red bull fur and muscles that could crash kegs with a glance. Numerous pockets adorned his outfit, from his brown camo cargo pants to his matching brown shirt. Then to the woman’s right was a flying metallic silver sphere the size of three basketballs with four mechanical arms surrounding it.

The lizard woman pointed her pistol up, flipping it to its side, showing she was didn’t want to fight. She spoke to Rafael. 

“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand you,” Rafael replied. 

The woman sighed. She turned to the robot and issued a request. The robot beeped, pulled out a wristband from a compartment inside itself, and strapped it around Rafael’s wrist. Rafael was hesitant but didn’t resist. Upon finishing, the white wrist band pricked his skin like a needle.

“Ouch,” Rafael commented.

“There, can you understand me now?” the woman asked with slight annoyance in her tone.

“Yes, I can understand you now. What is this thing?”

“It’s a basic networker,” she explained, dumbfounded that he didn’t know the answer. “How’d you get here, kid?”

“All I know is that I went to sleep in my bed, and I woke up in a crater filled with dead bodies on an alien planet.”

The minotaur huffed. “You expect us to believe that?”

“I swear, I have no idea where I am or how I got here.”

The robot emitted a series of beeps.

“I see,” the woman acknowledged. “What is the name of your homeworld?”


“What!?” the minotaur exclaimed. The robot beeped in confirmation. The minotaur turned to the robot. “What do you mean he’s not lying?”

The woman put the backside of her hand against the minotaur in a gesture to calm him. “You’re a long, long way from home then. My name is Kára. The big lug is Sinas, and the mechanical is Norbit.” 

“I’m Rafael. Could you help me get home?”

“Visiting Earth is highly restricted, but I might know someone who can smuggle you in.”


“But it won’t be easy, and it sure won’t be cheap,” Kára finished. “We could use someone in our crew to do miscellaneous errands, you know, earn your way back home.”

“I’ll do whatever you need me to do,” Rafael offered.

“Good. How about you start by handing over that sword you got. The family commissioned me to retrieve it.”

Without wavering, Rafael turned the sword over. “Here. It’s yours.”

“Thank you. I hope you’re an adventurous sort, Rafael, cause that’s what’s in store for you as part of my crew.”

Adventure Granted - art by Bienvenido Julian at Design Pickle

This week’s short story was brought to you today by the following writing prompt: “You lay your head down to sleep, only to wake as the sole survivor of a horrific battle of some kind. Blasted earth and wreckage are all that surround you. You walk through this silent graveyard towards eerie lights in the sky.”

I thought it would be fun to callback The Little Shop of Personalities with another character having a different reaction to the shop. I was initially stumped on how to end it though. Did I want Rafael to get home or not? No, because he wanted an adventure of a lifetime so I turned his tale into his origin story for joining Starbringer II, which is from an audio drama podcast series I’m developing. Don’t forget, you can find other stories I’ve written about characters and places in the page tags.

Thank you to Bien Julian at Design Pickle for bringing this scene to life!

That’s all for this week! Be careful what you wish for now.

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