Haunting the Red Lotus (a recreated post)

This blog recreates a post that originally went up as part of a blog tour in support of the 2016 launch of Commanding the Red Lotus. It was an original marketing short story in script form and appeared on a host site that is no longer live.

View the Commanding the Red Lotus dedicated order page

Setting: RJ Sullivan’s home office

[RJ stares at a blank page on his laptop and wonders what to write about for the Cover2Cover entry of his blog tour. He doesn’t notice the gorgeous ghost Maxine Marie appear behind him]

MM: [Leans forward to whisper directly in his ear] Hello, RJ.

RJ: Yikes! [wheels around] Maxine!

MM: [flashes sexy smile] Doing anything fun?

RJ You shouldn’t be here.

MM: [her smile shifts to a pout] Well….that’s not a very nice thing to say. It’s just that you haven’t asked me about my ghostly existence in months. I was afraid you’d quit writing or something. I mean, I still remember all the success I brought you with Haunting Obsession, and now… [she folds her arms across her chest] now you never call!

RJ: Sorry, Maxine. It’s just I’ve been writing spaceship adventure stories in my Red Lotus universe, and I’ve been having a good time…. I guess I haven’t thought about you—

[Maxine’s eyes widen]

RJ: GHOSTS! I MEANT GHOSTS! I haven’t thought about GHOSTS in a long time.

MM: A likely story. And what’s this Red Lotus? Sounds like a lady ninja assassin I should be jealous of.

RJ: It’s the name of a spaceship.

MM: Spaceship? You mean like in Forbidden Planet and Buck Rogers?

RJ: [Laughs] Well…SF has gotten more sophisticated since the movies you saw back in the 50s when you were still alive.

MM: So….like the Independence Day sequel?

RJ: [sighs] Never mind.

MM: Well…just because you’re writing spaceship stories, why can’t I be in them? Didn’t I read somewhere that readers like it when authors connect their series together?

RJ: You’ve been invisibly reading over my shoulder, haven’t you?

MM: Of course I have, Silly. By the way, who is this Vampirella you keep Googl…?

RJ: koff-koff Let’s get back to your first question. [holds up paperback of Commanding the Red Lotus] A ghost just wouldn’t work in that universe.

MM: Oh, poo. I’m not just any ghost, I’m me! Why, I can use my ghost powers to go into that world and interact with the characters right now.

RJ: [jaw drops] You can?

MM: Of course! And I can cast the most elegant magic spell to make it happen.

RJ: But created you and I didn’t know you could do that.

MM: [Giggles] That’s because I didn’t NEED to before now, Silly. Okay, hold the book still. [Closes eyes and says magic words] Bloggus Convenitus! I’ll be right back. [Maxine vanishes]

[On board the Independent Mining Ship Red Lotus, Co-Commander Dravin Sow is seated in his office at his work station]

DS: [Speaking at his laptop] New Entry, Co-Commander’s Record. Private Entry.

[Computer chirps]

It’s been a crazy day. Where to start? My head is spinning from the past 24 hours. Maybe I should just summarize what’s happened. When I woke up this morning, it looked as if the Red Lotus would be sold for scrap parts and its crew, including me, would be released into the Spacer Crewman Assignment Database, with all 24 of us applying and competing against each other for whatever commissions we could find. Given our outdated skills from operating a 40-year-old ship, we may all have been stranded on Earth Station Pandora for months, if not years. Then, a secret bidder purchased the ship and crew contracts outright and submitted a proposal to use us for independent prospecting. As it turns out, the bid was placed by Sayuri Arai. Sayuri is the daughter of the founder of the corporation that had put us up for auction in the first place. For reasons of her own, Sayuri resigned her vice presidency from her father’s corporation, and now, she owns the ship outright.

[Dravin sighs]

When I met Sayuri a couple of days ago, I never expected her to be so headstrong. That could be a good thing for us. Or very bad. I can’t tell. Fortunately, she agreed to a Co-Commander status with me. In our new agreement, I am responsible for her actions and her training, and I have veto power over her commands whenever I deem it necessary.

[Dravin rubs his eyes]

I don’t know if Sayuri is the most brilliant young woman I’ve ever met, or if she’s the craziest, but what I do know is that she’s my responsibility now. And I don’t know how I feel about that. On the one hand, we managed to go back to what we do best. On the other hand—

[Maxine’s ghostly silhouette springs out of the screen]


DS: [jumps up] What the—

MM: Hello, Dravin Sow, I’m Maxine Marie.

DS: The twentieth century Earth movie star?

MM: Well…I should say…the ghost of Maxine Marie. [Stops, turns in place] The elegant ghost of Maxine Marie, don’t you think?

DS: [Pauses] I….feel like I should be more shocked than I am, but for some reason, I believe you.

MM: That’s because this is a blog and we’re editing for time.

DS: What can I do for you, Maxine?

MM: You can help me find a role to play aboard your ship. I thought maybe I could haunt it. Appear in the hallways. Scare the engineers in the dark corners. What do you think?

DS: I… don’t really want you scaring engineers while they’re doing vital work.

MM: But…a haunted spaceship! Think of the dramatic potential!

DS: Yeah, look, you don’t know Janet Keller, our chief engineer. She’s very persistent. That’s why she’s so good at her job. When she finds out there’s a ghost on board, she’ll hunt you down, flush you out, and exorcise you out off the ship in the most painful way possible.

MM: Yikes, how rude! Well, maybe I should join the crew. [Her clothes change into a Red Lotus uniform with a skimpy skirt] What do you think, Dravin?

DS: Well…we wear something more like suit-pants or overalls, depending on where you’re stationed.

MM: Poo. That sounds terribly constricting.

DS: Look, Maxine, you’re an actress. You don’t have any skills as a crewman. We’d have to train you, and you’d have to be willing to pitch in and do your fair share of the most mundane chores.

[Dravin walks out the door. Maxine follows to a niche with a broom closet. Dravin wheels out a mop and bucket]

DS: This hall encircles the entire second level. It gets mopped twice a day.

MM: [Laughs] Me? Mop? I haven’t touched a mop in decades! [looks around] Or maybe in this case, centuries.

DS: You’d have to pitch in. No excuses.

MM: But.. [slinks toward Dravin] Don’t you have need of a … personal assistant or something?

DS: I don’t think an undead personal assistant is going to work out well in this story.

MM: [Looks directly out at the reader and winks] John F. Allen made it work in his story.

DS: What?

MM: Oh, nothing. [Pouts, then wraps her arms around Dravin’s neck] Are you sure there’s no role for me here?

DS: I’m sorry, Maxine, it’s just a terrible idea.

MM: [Squints at Dravin, gazes into his eyes] It’s because of her, isn’t it?

DS: Her?

MM: That woman you were talking about on your recording. Sayuri someone. Your new commander. You’re…kinda’ smitten with her, aren’t you?

DS: I’m her trainer and mentor. Plus, there are Spacer customs, things she doesn’t even know about. That makes the situation…complicated.

MM: Hmph. [Maxine drops her arms back down at her sides] I think you’re the one making it complicated. Well, I can’t say I didn’t try. Anyway, would you like some advice from an old ghost who’s been around the block a few times?

[Dravin raises his eyebrows}

MM: Loosen up, Dravin. Don’t be such a fuddy-duddy.

DS: [Dravin smiles] I’ll try to keep that in mind.

MM: Good luck.

[Maxine wiggles her fingers in a wave and vanishes]

Maxine reappears in RJ’s home office

RJ: That didn’t take long. How did it go?

MM: [sighs] I hate to say it, but you’re right. There’s no place for a ghost on the Red Lotus, not even a friendly, sexy ghost like me.

RJ: I’m sorry, Maxine. We’ll always have Haunting Obsession. And you seem to appear as a guest star in my blogs with some regularity.

The dedicated ordering page for Haunting Obsession

MM: That’s because you can’t stop thinking about me.

RJ: Well…the poster of the cover of Haunting Obsession is right above my computer.

MM: [rolls eyes] Whatever you need to tell yourself. [Resigned sigh] In any case, I want you to know that I’m not upset by the new direction with your writing.

RJ: Thank you, Maxine. That’s surprisingly mature of you.

MM: [Maxine giggles] Mature is my middle name, Mister. [Smiles} Anyway, if you can think of some way I can help you promote your Red Lotus books, you just summon me and let me know.

RJ: Thanks, Maxine. I will.

[Maxine vanishes]

Image Credits
Ghost model: Lily Monstermeat
Original CGI character rendering: Nell Williams
Red Lotus Uniform MS Paint touch-ups: Linda Sullivan
Haunting Obsession Cover Art Bonnie Wasson

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