Saturday, January 30, 2016

Interview with Skye Palmer: Singer, Actress, Screenwriter

Skye Palmer is an entertainer, screenwriter and musician born in Britain and currently based in North Idaho. She has appeared in a variety of shows throughout the area, including concerts, musical theatre and dramatic plays. Besides performance, she also expresses strong interests in musical composition and writing for film and stage. When not busy, Skye can be found doodling on the piano, writing film critiques, and drinking way too much coffee in one sitting.

What was your first show and how old were you?
I tried a few things when I was younger, but I’ll say my first big role came when I played the lead in Peter Pan. I was 12.
Do you have a favorite show that you’ve performed in?
So far I think my favorite is the time I played Jo March in Little Women. We received all our music and scripts early and then put the actual show on after only two weeks of rehearsals. Super intensive and fun!
What inspired you to perform? And write?
When the stage calls, you have to answer! I believe that homeschooling allowed the creative aspects of my personality to flourish. I had the time to explore different interests and found that writing, especially, was personally satisfying.
Does acting come naturally to you and have you ever experienced stage fright?
Acting always came easy for me, although I have had quite a bit of training at this point. When I was younger I used to be very shy, but I got over it when I found out how much I enjoy performing. I’ve never actually had stage fright, though I do feel pretty excitable just before a show starts. I think that adrenalin rush is a bit addicting.
What kind of musical training did you have?
I started taking piano lessons when I was 5, and kept at it sporadically until I was almost 18. I didn’t realize I could sing until I was 11 and started beating my family at karaoke games. After that, I joined choir and performed in some musicals, something I’ve kept up over the years. I almost majored in music in college so took quite a few classes related to composition and voice as well. Right now I’m more into the composing side of things, so I’ve set up a bunch of keyboards and electronic equipment in the spare room and take online classes from Berklee when I can fit them in.
You’re not the only musical one in your family, is that right?
Not at all! Everyone in my family is able to sing. My dad is a pretty smooth saxophonist when the mood hits, and I have a younger sister who also sings and plays guitar.
What’s your favorite movie?
I’m going to cheat a little and go with my favorite TV show since it’s easier for me to choose: Sherlock. This is, without a doubt, my favorite. The acting and cinematography are superb! (I’m also a die-hard Sherlock Holmes fan.)
What are your plans for the future?
My immediate plans include graduation this spring with a BA in Screenwriting from SNHU. I started college at 16 and am glad to get it done early. I have several other performance possibilities this coming year but, in the long run, I’d like to work on my own music and develop complete projects from start to finish, including writing, filming, acting, scoring, and collaborating with friends.

Skye Palmer is the amazing voice of Fou's Lullaby written by Matthew McLin (with lyrics by me from A Hole in the Sea). You can download it for free here.
See what else Skye is up to here.
You can also check out Matthew McLin's music on Soundcloud. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Davy Jones

   We first saw the monster two weeks after the storm. If we had known such things existed, we would have prayed the storm to destroy us. Even without our prayers, it had nearly succeeded.
   When at last the thunder stopped and the wind faded, it was night. The clouds did not break until morning, so I could not take our position by the stars. I did not know how far off course we might have been thrown by the violence of the night. In the morning, I came on deck to see what damage we had sustained. The air was wonderful and fresh, the decks still glistened from the rain and a good breeze sang in the rigging, smelling, it seemed, even saltier and cleaner than usual.
   After looking over the ship and giving orders for fixing the spar that had been struck by lightning, I commenced to take our position by the sun. I measured the sun’s angle twice. It didn’t make sense.
   “What is it?” midshipman Drummond asked, seeing the perturbed look on my face.
I shook my head and went below to go over the charts. That night I went up to fix our position properly on the stars. The stars were all wrong, too.
   We sailed for a week and never made landfall. I tried again and again to get a fix, but no matter how many times I reworked my calculations, the stars insisted we were thousands of miles away from our last fixed position. How could the storm carry us from the Indian Ocean to beyond Australia in a night?
   I could make no sense of it. I reworked my calculations to hit Australia as soon as possible, and we set a new course. The weather was perfect, the wind strong. Supplies were running low and I needed to keep the men busy. We drilled with the guns. And we drilled with them again.
   Drummond came to me, his young face creased with worry.
   “Captain, I’ve been watching the stars. We’re near Australia, aren’t we?” he bit his lip, afraid he’d said too much. I just nodded. “How? I mean we were nearing India…weren’t we?”
   I nodded sharply and Drummond flinched. He took a deep breath and continued. “Whatever the case is, have you noticed they’re not…quite right?”
   “What aren’t quite right?” I said stiffly.
   “The stars, Captain.”
   “What do you mean?” I asked.
   “Scorpio,” Drummond said. “And Lupus…it’s like they’re closer together, smaller, and the sky is bigger than before, with more stars…”
   I had noticed that something was off in the night sky, but had attributed it to the sudden change in position. That night, I saw that the observant Drummond was right. And the next day, we saw the monster.
   The day was fresh and enlivening, as all days had been since the storm. Despite the shortened rations, the men seemed rather cheerful. Suddenly Drummond, up in the foretop, shouted down,            “There’s a whale to port! No…an…an octopus…”
   I strode over to the rail and looked out over the shimmering blue waves. About a half mile away, something very large was breaking the waves into agitated whorls. I called for a glass.
   “I see tentacles,” Drummond reported from the rigging. “And…a hard, ridged back! I think maybe it’s a whale eating an octopus.”
   The other midshipman, Ryder, brought me a glass and I peered out at the creature. I could barely make it out through the foam it worked up. Pale red and orange, slightly speckled. I didn’t know any whale that looked like that. A tentacle snapped up out of the water and then disappeared, followed by the odd, ridged back of whatever beast it was. Perhaps this whale-thing was eating an octopus…we must be near land. The whale must have been closer than it had looked, though. Or the octopus was very large.
   Drummond came swinging down from the rigging, his eyes shining, mirroring my own hope. But mine was tempered by fear of reefs, especially in this strange clime and the inconsistency of the stars…or my own incompetence. Drummond had no such fears. He beamed at me with complete trust.
   We soon forgot about the creature, looking forward to finding land. I had as many lookouts posted as possible. I didn’t want land to slip by us. Nor did I want to come upon a reef without warning. We sailed on and sunset overcame us with still no land in sight. I paced the deck as the sky painted itself golden and purple.
   “Captain,” Drummond said, appearing at my side.
   “The whale thing,” he said. “It’s behind us. I think it’s following us.”
   “Nonsense,” I said, relieved. “It’s probably heading towards land again, looking for more food.” It meant we were going in the right direction. Except we might run aground in the dark. I ordered sail to be taken in and glanced back at the whale. It was gone.
   Night fell. I couldn’t sleep, so I paced the deck, watching the dark water ahead. Drummond stayed on deck with me, even though he was off duty. I told him to go below and rest. He went down reluctantly and I placed myself in the prow. At last, a little before morning watch, I went below and slept fitfully for a few hours.
   The next day was beautiful and refreshing, but devoid of whales, reefs and land. I checked my charts again and again. We should have hit Australia in the night, but we didn’t. There was only one possibility. I had done something wrong. I went over everything again, and again it all seemed correct. But it couldn’t be. It tortured me all day as we sailed on and on into what my reckoning, the charts, and astronomy all told me were the penal colonies.
   Night came at last, bringing a sweet cool breeze and a strange aroma like Indian spices. The stars came out, seeming more numerous than ever before and Drummond joined me on deck with his sextant. We both took our positions and compared them. We were both landlocked. Our eyes met in the dark.
   I called Ryder and had him take our position. It was the same.
   “I must have done something wrong,” Ryder said, coughing in embarrassment.
   “No,” I said, showing him Drummond’s and my own results. “Either we have all forgotten how to read the stars or the stars have rearranged.
   “Look!” Drummond exclaimed, pointing to starboard. Foam sprayed from the water in the distance, bright white in the moonlight.
   “Whale?” Ryder asked.
   “Hardly important,” I snapped, slapping the map I’d brought up with me. “Have we all gone mad? Is the sky playing with us?”
   “It’s coming toward us,” Drummond said, his voice betraying his nervousness.
   “Whales never attack ships,” I said, glancing at the ripple in the sea.
   “With respect, Captain,” Ryder pointed out, “nor has an entire continent sunk beneath the ocean.”
   “It’s coming straight for us!” Drummond yelped.
   I looked. It had its angle perfectly calculated to intercept us. My mind was still filled with doubts about calculations in general, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
   “Full sail!” I barked. “Alter our course South South East!”
   The helmsman complied and the men of the second dog watch leapt into the shrouds, joined by young Drummond, who overcame them all, reaching the sails first and loosening them in a frenzy. I looked out at the approaching creature. It was bearing down on us swiftly.
   The canvas blazed open in the moonlight and filled immediately with the stiff breeze. We leapt ahead and the creature plowed through our wake, throwing up plumes of froth. I got a little better look at the beast. I clutched Ryder’s arm. Immediately I came to myself and let him go, straightening and turning to shout encouragement at the crew.
   I shivered internally. What I had seen was no whale. No whale had segmented armor and steaming portals. Was it some horrible machine? A giant lobster?
   “It’s following us again!” Drummond called from the mainmast. I turned and my blood congealed around my heart. The thing was on our tail, pushing a foamy wave before it, its eyes blazing red in its broad head. It was almost in firing range of the stern chasers.
   “Bring up shot and powder!” I ordered. I could hardly believe anything from below would actually chase a vessel, but glancing back at it, the malevolent eyes sent quivers through my soul.
   The men appeared with the powder and shot. “Load the gun!” I shouted. The men hurried to obey. The monster was closing in and I found myself at the stern, clutching the rail with white knuckles.
   “Ready sir,” said Ryder.
   “Aim at that thing’s head,” I ordered.
   The shot echoed across the sea and the smoke rolled out behind us, obscuring the thing from sight. I heard a clamorous clang and when the smoke had cleared, there was no sign of the beast.
   “Did we hit it?” Ryder wondered aloud.
   I scanned the sea. “Drummond? Any sign of it?” I yelled to the topmast cap. I knew the boy always had his glass on him. After a moment I heard his voice call down that there was nothing he could see. I sighed.
   The first mate, Roth, and many of the men previously sleeping below came charging up to see what was afoot. Roth tried to mask his disbelief when I told him. He was about to go back below when the ship lurched violently. I clung to the nearest mast, praying for forgiveness for sailing my ship onto a reef. I saw Drummond slip from the yard arm and go tumbling toward the deck and closed my eyes, waiting to hear him splatter on the deck, knowing it was my fault. The splatter never came. I opened my eyes. Drummond had miraculously caught the brace and slid down it to the next yardarm. He was scanning the sea with his glass, unruffled. I stood up straight and marched to the prow.
   “There’s nothing out there,” Drummond said.
   We were sailing steadily again, but a little slower now, despite the wind being stronger than ever. I sent someone below to check for leaks and ordered for sail to be taken in. I didn’t know what we’d hit, but I wasn’t going to run into anything else at full speed.
   Ten minutes later, the report came that there were no breaches in the hull. Roth kept glancing at me. He was worried about me. Not in a mutinous way, I didn’t believe, but I hated it just the same. I returned to the quarterdeck and was ordering more sail taken in when Ryder gasped behind me. I turned to see his eyes bulging out of his head as he struggled to scream, clawing at a long slimy tentacle wrapped around his neck. I tried to yell, but my voice clogged in my throat. I could only utter a strangled squeak as the tentacle wordlessly whisked Ryder over the side of the ship. I didn’t even hear a splash.
   I blinked at the empty space where my midshipman had just stood, unable to grasp what had just happened. “M-man overboard!” I finally managed to holler, rushing to the rail and peering down into the swirl of choppy waves.
   Roth hurried to my side. I pointed uselessly into the water. There was no sign of Ryder or the tentacle. I turned to my men and found them gazing at me blankly. They hadn’t seen it. I pointed over the rail and gasped, “Ryder!” Alarm showed clearly in Roth’s eyes. Did he think I had pushed him?
   “The monster!” I exclaimed. “It pulled him over the side!”
   “I saw it too,” Drummond said, sliding down to the deck, his voice shaky.
   “Where is it?” I said, spinning around, scanning the sea on all sides.
   “I think it’s below—” Drummond began. The ship shook violently and knocked me off my feet. The sound of splintering wood ripped through the air.
   “What in Hell?” Roth exclaimed as we staggered back to our feet.
   “There’s a breach in the hull!” someone cried from the darkness below decks.
I was on my way to the hatchway when Drummond yelled behind me. I turned to see a tentacle wrapped around Roth’s neck, dragging him away despite Drummond’s attempts to hold him. I ran forward, drawing my knife. Roth flipped over the rail, choking silently. Drummond wedged himself against the rail, holding onto Roth’s arm with all his might.
   I skidded up to the edge and leaned over. Drummond grunted, straining, his neck bulging. I slashed at the tentacle. A spray of black blood burned my eyes but I heard Roth noisily inhaling and Drummond panting as he heaved the first mate back onto the deck.
I wiped the blood out of my eyes and yelled for the marines.
   “Roth, are you all right?” I asked as the red coats streamed onto the deck. Roth nodded, but there were angry red sucker welts all over his skin. I turned to address the marines.
   “There’s something under the—” I didn’t get to finish. Three tentacles lashed over the railing and swept the marines off their feet. I ducked as a tentacle flashed by over my head. The slimy things disappeared as fast as they had appeared, taking three marines with them. No one had had time to shoot.
   “Clear the ship for action!” I yelled. “Roth, find out what’s happening below.”
   Roth disappeared below as the ship rocked wildly and more splintering came from below. Screams echoed from the hold, mixing with the usual sounds of the cannons being run out and bulkheads taken down.
   I glanced at Drummond. Was the thing punching holes in the hull from below? What good would our cannons be against it? Another tentacle slid silently onto the deck and carried away another marine. Several of the others fired at it, but too late. Their shots rang eerily in the sudden quite as the noises from below ceased. The ship was ready for action.
   Roth came staggering up from below.
   “There’s water coming in fast,” he gasped, “whatever it is, it’s drilled holes in the bottom!”
   “Get men on the pumps!” I ordered. “And try and plug off the holes if you can.” I turned to Drummond. “Have the men ready on deck with axes and if the thing’s tentacle come up again, hit them with whatever you can,” I told him. “Blast it with a cannon if any part of it comes across the guns.” Drummond nodded and rushed down to the gun deck.
   The sea exploded, geysers of spray dashing across the deck as something—not a tentacle—lashed out of the water and ripped through the side of the ship. We all fell and tumbled across the deck, some flying over the rail into the sea. Splinters filled the air like a deadly rain. It was like we’d been struck with ten broadsides simultaneously. The masts trembled and the topgallant cracked. Ropes snapped and I heard men screaming.
   The thing that had struck—not a limb, but something like it—disappeared as fast as it had materialized leaving the ship tottering on the rippling sea, gashed open and bleeding. Roth rolled over, not ten feet from me, clutching his face. A massive splinter was stuck through his cheek and nose.
   I dragged myself to my feet once more, scanning the sea around us. All was still, filled only with the cries of agony from the gun deck. Drummond had jumped to his feet and ran down into the dark to assess the damage. I turned to see the ocean release its horrors once more. A great head was raising itself up beside the ship, over the disabled row of guns.
   Its eyes blazed red and tentacles swarmed angrily around its mouth. I could not cry out. A marine gave a wordless shriek and brought his rifle to bear on the monster. There was a crack and a puff of white smoke. The creature roared, its tentacles swirling. The head swooped down and the marine disappeared, screaming, into the creature’s maw.
   “Fire!” I heard Drummond yell below. He must have found an undisturbed gun and salvaged enough gun crew to work it. The creature narrowed its eyes and sank back into the water as the cannon boom shook the deck. Smoke billowed across the water but the monster was already gone. The ship quivered again. I hurried below.
   Drummond met me in the gloom.
   “Captain, we need the marines down here, there’s something out there, below the guns,” he said, pointing at the huge gash where the gun ports had been. I looked out and saw a huge bristly paw pressing against the hull, barely above waterline. I could hear the timbers groaning under it.
   “Captain!” came a cry from the port gun deck. “There’s a-a-a thing attached to the hull below the guns!” The beast was squeezing the ship.
   “Shoot it!” I ordered. The marines fired at the paws. The ship lurched and the paws disappeared under the water. I sighed. Then I grabbed Drummond’s arm. The paws hadn’t let go, they were dragging us down. The quartermaster crawled up the ladder from below.
   “The hull is crumpling! Water’s spurting through the cracks!”
   “We’ve got to get this thing off!” I said, pulling out my ceremonial sword. “Get the spears and boarding hooks!”
   I led the charge down the ladders into the darkness. I crashed into the knee deep water and made for the nearest hole. Six or seven puncture wounds shot streams of water across the hold, white and foamy. Reddish light flickered and bounced wildly from a few smoking oil lamps. Men struggled at the pumps, trying to keep up. Others were trying to jam canvas wads in the holes. The water just blew them back out.
   A tentacle lashed through a hole, smashing a lamp and throwing men against the far wall. It vanished just as fast. I splashed clumsily through the water. Its roar was loud in my ears.
I jammed my sword into the gushing stream that surged from the hole. I waved at the men. They rammed spears through the holes. The ship trembled. I heard something crack. The ship heaved. The last lamp fell from its hook. The fat spread the flame through the water.
   Water cascaded down the ladders from above. The flames flickering on the water sputtered out and all was dark.
   “Get a light!” I yelled, clambering up the waterfall to see what was happening. Our gun decks were level with the sea and water lapped in with each wave. We were sinking. “Everyone up! Launch the boats!”
   The ship heeled, crackling and groaning as the beast struck us again. I staggered, falling against an overturned cannon. Drummond bounded up from below and helped me up. I heard rifles crack above and shots patter on the sea. We came up on the deck and saw the water boiling off our port side. The port guns fired, white smoke billowing out over the foam.
   I stared in horror as a sun bloomed under the waves. Golden light flickered from the depths. Everyone gazed at it in a trance. The light flew up from the deep, breaking out into the air in a cascade of glittering water droplets. It flew up into the sky and I saw the armored limb that bore it up. A long, muscular tail swung down on us, the light at its end blinding us. I caught Drummond’s shoulder and pulled him against the gunwale.
   The tail crashed across our deck, plowing up splinters, smashing men to pulp, snapping ropes and spars, shredding through sail, and slamming us into the sea. Water splashed over the rails. The tail slid off the deck, back into the dark water, taking its brilliant light with it. The foremast toppled over. The ship rose a little, but we were still sinking fast. The few remaining marines were struggling with the ropes to launch the longboat.
   The ship trembled as something struck us from below. The water around us lit up with a ghostly golden glow. I felt the deck shift underneath us. The longboat splashed into the water. The other, smaller boat, crashed in beside it. Drummond hauled me to my feet and we staggered across the heeling deck as the boats filled up with men. The deck split open before us; the ship shuddered and the mainmast cracked. Men screamed. Drummond and I tumbled back against the stern. The mainmast fell, smashing the smaller boat to pieces.

   Tentacles sprang from the foam as the ship broke to pieces, lashing out and seizing the floundering men, dragging them under as they clung to ropes and bits of flotsam. Bubbles rose to the surface all around us. Drummond slipped and tumbled over the rail into the water.
   I stretched my hand after him in vain and the water lapped at my toes. I let go of the rail and splashed into the water. The stern went down behind me. I struggled in the cold grip of the water clutching at loose boards. I’d never been a good swimmer. I couldn’t see Drummond. I imagined his lifeless corpse drifting in the cold blue and my heart ached.
   The longboat was cutting through the waves on the other side of the sinking wreckage, swimming away…I yelled at them. The monster was between them and me and they dared not turn back, even for their captain. I hollered louder, hoping the beast would come for me and they might somehow escape. Something bumped into my back. I shuddered, thinking the beast had come for me. It was a barrel. I clung to it.
   There were still men clutching the broken mast that floated among the sails. The beast raised a terrible limb from the waves and smashed it apart. Men went sailing through the air, screaming in the frenzied froth. Tentacles caught them.
   I spotted Drummond, struggling to stay afloat on a few measly boards. I paddled towards him fiercely. If I could do nothing for my ship and its crew, I could at least save my brave midshipman who couldn’t swim. The waves from the crashing monster ruined my progress. I could not get closer. Drummond saw me coming and hope lit up his eyes even as the water closed over his head.
I roared in helplessness, trying to urge my barrel through the agitated waters. I dove from it and stroked towards Drummond. There was a bit of floating deck bobbing just beyond him. If I could only get him on it.
   Drummond was still when I reached him. I grabbed him and thrashed violently for the fragment of deck. My arms and legs burned. At last I reached the deck and shoved the limp midshipman up onto it. I glanced back at the wreck. We had drifted some ways away. The longboat still rowed in the opposite direction, getting smaller and smaller. But even as I watched, a tentacle lashed out of the water and slapped the boat to pieces. I cried out in wordless anguish. The monster’s head emerged from the deep, plowing through the waves, sucking in the wailing men.
   I heaved myself up onto the piece of deck. Drummond was still, his pulse gone, his skin cold. I wailed like a child, heart-broken. No human cry echoed me. The sea rumbled all around, impassive. The creature’s head emerged close to my little piece of flotsam. Its red eyes blazed in the dark.
I closed my eyes, my chest heaving. It was over.
   I waited for the beast to devour me. The creature left me to a fate more horrible. I opened my eyes to see the beast turn its hellfire eyes away from me and swim off, leaving me alive. Alone…
I saw the creature’s tail arc through the air in the distance, like a miniature sun rising and setting. It vanished into the night and soon the moon set, leaving me in darkness and despair.

   I floated for days, wishing for death. I had nothing to sink poor Drummond with, so I had to let him float away from me while I recited the service. I knew I should have kept him, eaten him. But I couldn’t. Days later, I dreamed feverishly of his flesh, hallucinating that he was bobbing along beside me again, covered in gravy, sprinkled with saffron, garnished with roasted pineapple.
The strange pirate ship found me.
   The monster had let me go to tell of its terrors. I was the sole survivor, doomed to spread the legacy of the beast that had taken my ship…taken Drummond…

   He’s real. I have seen Davy Jones.