"Gleebella: A Martian Cinderella"
Once upon a time, in the far northeastern quadrant of the Red Planet, there lived in the dusty crater of Nogwop a wealthy spiff who had three gawbs. The two eldest gawbs were lovely creatures, with greenish skin the color of moldy cheese, and four long-lashed smurky tentacles each, which were crimped and craizzled in the very latest style.
The youngest gawb, however, who was the offspring of the spiff's first grazt (now deceased) was a mutant. Her skin was not an attractively mottled green and she had no tentacles at all!
Her name was Gleebella. She was double bi-appendaged and had only two eyes on the front part of her top anatomy. No Martian could look at her without shuddering, and her family was so ashamed of her that she was forbidden to ever set foot outside the hutzel lest any unsuspecting stranger should chancely encounter a glimpse of her and die from a shrik-attack.
The two eldest gawbs did not want her even to be allowed the run of the hutzel, and begged the spiff to confine her permanently to the smallest and meanest room.
"She is not even worthy to do the lowliest of chores, dear Spiff," they insisted. "We cannot stand to have her anywhere near us ---- she makes our tentacles shrivel up in disgust!"
And so, even though Gleebella was his own gawb, the spiff agreed that she should be kept in isolation from the rest of his hutzelhold.
Poor Gleebella! Clear salty liquid oozed from her loathsome eyes quite frequently, and she would soon have faded forlornly away and died from sheer grief and loneliness were it not for the fact that her small prison had one small window, high up in the wall, through which she could see glimpses of the bright blue sky through the tangled branches of the lollilanga tree which grew very near the hutzel. Sometimes little mogwils and thripterboozles would perch on a twig and trill sweet songlets there.
One day Gleebella made a tremendous discovery. She had moved her bare cot against the wall directly under the window and stacked the old crate which served as her nightstand on top of it, and then balanced herself precariously on top of the crate. Through this expedient she was able to reach the window ---- and, oh joy of joys! --- when she pushed against the glass she found it was unlocked!
Gleebella tremblingly pushed the window open and crawled through it onto the branches of the lollilanga tree. It was wonderful to be outside, and after that day she would often leave her room through the small, high window, climb down the lollilanga tree, carefully skirt the cluster of hutzels which made up the town, and go on solitary walks through the starkly cratered and eerily empty landscape.
It was on one of these walks that Gleebella found the magic steel pod. Or perhaps it found her. Anyway, she turned the corner of a tall red boulder one day and there it was --- a shiny box-like object with variously-shaped protuberances covering its surface. It propelled itself along the ground by means of long, spindly, jointed motion-rods, emitting whiny little beeping sounds as it went.
"Oh!" exclaimed Gleebella, and tried to back away. She tripped and fell in her haste and the magic pod advanced towards her. Before she even had time to gasp, it had grasped her locomoting appendage by the end and pulled a flexible, transparent material over it; which quickly solidified as it molded itself around her foot. Gleebella was very frightened. She jumped up and fled, with the transparent thing which encased her foot hindering but not preventing her wild dash back to the hutzel.
Gleebella remained in her room for three days. She had tried to remove the thing on her foot, but it would not come off. There were strange symbols on it --- they looked like this: "SPECIMEN 345". Gleebella worried about it. The spiff always came to see her for a few minutes every month, and it would soon be time for his visit. How could she possibly explain this thing on her foot?
When the spiff finally came, however, on the fourth day, there in the doorway next to him stood his two eldest gawbs; a tall, splendidly robed Martian who was a stranger to Gleebella; and the magic steel pod!
"But you're making a terrible mistake." the oldest of the spiff's gawbs was saying peevishly. "You can't possibly want to see Gleebella! She is a mutant. No Martian lord could bear even to look at her, much less take her to visit his shining sky ship!"
The Martian lord, however, did not seem to be disgusted by Gleebella's appearance. Slowly he came forward into the room and knelt down in front of Gleebella where she sat astonished and dismayed on the edge of her dingy cot.
"May I?" he asked her.
Gleebella wordlessly held out her foot, and gently he pulled the transparent thing off and placed it into a receptacle in the magic steel pod.
"You do not know me, Gleebella," he said, "but I have the spiff's permission to ask you to visit me at my sky ship. Will you come?"
As if in a dream, Gleebella rose and followed the Martian lord. They left the hutzel and entered a hovercruz, which zoomed them quickly to a large, shining sky ship which was tethered about 30 kurgs outside Nogwop. Once they were inside the ship, the Martian lord turned to Gleebella, asked her not to be frightened, and then unzipped his skin! And stepped out of it! He was not a Martian at all, but was wearing a disguise! And the truly amazing thing was ----
"You're a mutant, too!" exclaimed Gleebella.
"You are one of us, Gleebella." explained the Martian lord who was not really a Martian. "We are Earthlings and we live on a planet called Earth. You are not a mutant at all, but were stolen as a young child from your Earthling mother by the spiff's first grazt. She thought you were a Martian child, but when she died and you outgrew your disguise, you were taken to be a mutant. We have only been able to locate you now because you happened to encounter one of our data-gathering pods."
It was all too much for Gleebella. Salty liquid again began to ooze from her eyes... but this time...
"Don't cry, dearest." said the Earthling commander (Martian lord) softly. "You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Will you marry me and live with me here in my sky ship happily ever after?"
"Oh, yes!" said Gleebella.
And they did.
And here is the illustration: the pencil sketch:
and the watercolor and ink illustration:
I like the pencil sketch much better, actually. It has a certain delicacy and expression which the finished piece does not. Why is it so difficult to transfer the liveliness of an original sketch into a finished work? Well, this one is a reject. I will have to try again.