The Family Cactus

by Jude
Written for Panjianlien on the occasion of Winter Solstice, 2007

Cumprimentos, Prince! It's been a while, hasn't it? I've been thinking about you a lot lately.

No, actually, I haven't, but I thought that would be a nice sort of thing to say.

I've been reminiscing a lot. About boxing, and rabbits, and family, and meeting the Queen, and, well, I suppose your birth got in there somewhere after all.

Say, where did all your cousins come from? Have you ever wondered?

I know where they came from, and I wonder sometimes!

Yes, well, your first cousins had to have come from my siblings, correct?

Or, I suppose, the Queen's. But doubt she has any. I certainly don't remember any. They're not important, if they even exist.

My siblings, however, are a very colorful bunch! Almost as colorful as your variable-sized cousins, ever-tiny Prince.

Why have you never met them?

Well, they're far too busy for family reunions. And I'm far too important for family reunions. So none of us really bother.

You want to know about your aunts and uncles then?

Zut! I suppose I should tell you about some of them, at least.

I'll start with my favorite, shall I?

Diesel's my big sister -- the only reason she isn't King is because, well, she's a she. According to our parents, at least. It's a little hard to tell. Her pompadour has always been bigger and better than mine, even in my pompadour's prime. And she wears a leather jacket with spikes in the shoulders. And she never wore a dress, not even when our father wanted her to.

She taught me to box, you know, not dear old Papa. She was the heavyweight champ for years and years, until she gave it up for motorcycles. I could never beat her! I bet she would've socked that old rabbit -- one! two! KO! -- without breaking a sweat.

Pop even thought about breaking tradition and making her his heir, back when he and I weren't speaking. Good thing he didn't -- the cosmos wouldn't have such a fabulous King now, would it?

What, you want to meet her?

Well, I suppose I could send you on down.

Just don't tell the Queen, okay?


Scram, kid, yer bodderin' me.

What? You're my nephew?

You can't possibly be related to me. I can barely see you.

Ohhhh, you're Cosmo's kid, are ya? Explains why you're so tiny. Take after your pop, huh?

You didn't know he was teensy as you once upon a time? I used to have to check the bottoms of my boots to make sure I hadn't squished him! He used to sneak along on my dates by hiding in my wallet! Climbed in on the chain, y'see.

Yeah, well, it's nice meetin' you, but I've got ladies to do and things to see.

Er, what?

You'd like to... roll me something.

Uh huh.

Calamaris, huh?

Yeah, well, look, squirt, I...


All right, go roll me a motorcycle calamari, okay? I gotta get a present for that ungrateful kid Velvet.

Yeah, she's my daughter.

Who's the... HA HA HA HA HA! Oh, you're funny, squirt.

"Parthenogenesis." Look it up.

Oh, and don't tell the Queen you came to see me. She's never liked me ever since I started calling her, "The Beard."

Meanwhile, yeah, calamari. Look, I'll see it tomorrow, all right? There's a hot little femme in a red dress waitin' for me.


Oh! You're back!

How'd you like meeting Diesel? She's not as fabulous as I am, is she?

Now, my little big sister -- she's older than me and younger than Diesel -- could be fabulous, if she tried..

Spook, Princess of the Unseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!

You know, the unseen: ghosts, mysteries, honest politicians, that sort of thing.

Though she's pretty well unseen herself, given that she doesn't wear anything but black.

Black, black, black, all that black. I couldn't cope. One time, I snuck up behind her and stuck a red star to her back.

Arcturus didn't forgive me for years.

Anyway, your Auntie Spook hasn't turned up in a long time, but I have my suspicions about her relationship with the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

You want to meet her too? Wellll, I'll have to send you sort of at random, because, of course, I can't see her...



Er, hello?

Oh, my! You're very small. A very small... prince, apparently.

Well, what do you want? You want, no doubt, to take advantage of my boundless wisdom and knowledge of the Unseen!

Sit down there. I will sit here and commune with the spirits.

I am communing, please do not interrupt me.


What's that? You don't WANT my boundless wisdom?

You want to roll a gift for me.

Roll. A gift.

Oh, you're Cosmo's little boy, aren't you? He's always been so fixated on rolling things. Mama was so very worried about him as a child.

A katamari? Of something specific?

Well, that's very nice of you. You're surprisingly well-mannered for one of Cosmo's children.

Yes, dear, "one of." You... didn't know you have siblings?

Well, yes, dear, we cosmic beings don't just have single children. We always have multiple births.

Not litters, dear. That's not a very nice word.

But haven't you noticed that some of your cousins look a great deal like you? They were born at the same time as you. They just didn't get picked to be the Prince.

What happened to them? Our sister Berenice, Princess of Comets and Other Eccentrically Orbital Objects Like Children, generally raises everyone whose parents can't cope with them.

Oh, yes, the katamari. If you could... I don't know, roll up some nice poltergeists. It's been ages since I had any knocking around here.


Auugh! Don't DO that! This appearing from nowhere has GOT to stop!

Scared? Me? Of course not! What a silly thing to say. I'm the KING. I'm NEVER scared.

So, did you see her?

No? She was just sort of a talking darkness?

I suppose that's our Spook.

What has she been telling you?

No, I will not send you to talk to Berenice. I'll never find you again. Too many tiny Prince-wannabes at her place.

Who will I send you to talk to?

Well, there's Java.

Yesssss, Java.

He's our special brother.

Diesel calls him Prince-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat.

You'll like Java. And besides, everyone should see San Francisco.


And kick and turn and kick and step and step and step and... AUGH!

What? Who? When? Where? Why?

You're Cosmo's son?

How cute! How adorable! So tiny! So perfect! I have an outfit that would do just for you!

Can you sing at all?

Okay, maybe not.

Be a dear and polish the top of my head, won't you? I can never get it all done exactly right.

You want to roll me a katamari?

Has Cosmo gone off on a binge again and broken something else?


You just want to make me a present?

That's sweet, dear. Very, very sweet.

I... well, I suppose I could use a new disco ball.

Yes! Roll up all the most glittery drag queens in the world and make me a disco ball!

Then I will be the most fabulous of them all! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Yes, well, aside from your father. Who isn't nearly as fabulous as he thinks.

Go! Do my bidding! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


Hello, there, micro-Prince! How was your visit with Java?

You're tired of visiting your uncles and aunts now? But I've got so many more for you!

And now you've rolled presents for some of them, they'll all want katamaris!


Prince, where are you going?

Oh, Priiiiiiiiiinnnnncee....