Sx4 Volume 1 (Winter 2015)

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Table of Contents:

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Chapter 1

Photon’s Big Adventure

Once upon a time, there was a tiny but discreet packet of light energy. His name was Photon. He was very energetic because his wavelength was in the x-ray area. One day, as he was traveling at his characteristically large velocity (only impeded by the refractive index of the medium) he whizzed past a photodetector! Actually, not just past a photodetector, but INTO one!!!

Photon was afraid. He’d never been in a photodetector before! Obviously, because in less than a nanosecond he would no longer be a photon but rather sacrifice himself to the knowledge of mankind by transferring his energy to an electron hole pair. Thankfully, he found Flossy and Dmitri, a young couple desperate to cross the energy gap separating them. Their love could cross this boundary as no earthly energy could. Their passion for each other surpassed only by their passion for scientific progress, they were the ideal recipients of photon’s energy.

And suddenly, Photon ceased to exist. Or did he? He was no longer a photon, but energy never really was destroyed. Somehow he had retained his consciousness in the transfer.

Photon proceeded through the semiconductors and suddenly, there were two of him! He looked at his double, realizing that everything he did, his dual did also. “Cool,” thought Photon. “I’m quantum entangled!”

[Enter Bill Nye, stage left]

“That’s a little story I like to call N-Tangled. N, because electrons like the one Photon transformed into are negatively charged. Cool, huh?”

[He is doused with fake snow.]

“I know, right?”

“Now, electrons are funny creatures. They – “

[Another douse of fake snow.]

Then a song started to play. It’s the Dance of the Sugar Plum Particles! The photons were dancing in synchrony, copying each other’s moves so perfectly that it was nearly blinding. The electrons creeped in from the side – definitely a negative bunch. They were dancing in the shape of a dreary cloud, dampening the energy and brightness of the photons’ synchronized leaping.

The prima ballerina emerged from the side wings of the stage and began her stunning dance that illustrated the various patterns of particle movements. The audience was in awe at her performance as she graced the stage with enlightening beauty. She was the brightest photon of them all, though it was probably due to the hard work of the costume and makeup departments. With a final twirl, jete, and pique arabesque, the show was complete. The audience sprang up gushing with praise and applause.

As people gradually filed out of the auditorium, a few voices could be heard.

“How marvelous!” one rejoiced. Another grumpily muttered, “Explain to me how that’s supposed to help with my lab report.”

Archibald the Superher(ipp)o

There was once a hippo named Archibald. He lived in the middle of a deep, dark forest in a tiny cottage. Except it wasn’t just a tiny cottage! Archibald was a superher(ipp)o!

Archibald glanced furtively around before retreating into his home. He paused, trying to remember where he kept his flowerpot (as hippos are wont to do) before seeing it on the fireplace.

“Hmm, I must have moved it before the Paris trip,” he wondered aloud, before reaching up with his hippo paw-tamus and twisting the flower’s leaf. The secret panel swooshed open in the wall, and Archibald stood back, anticipating the click of the elevator snapping into place. He stepped in, furrowing his hippo-brows.

He had a job to do.

He quickly lumbered into the elevator, pushed number “49” and awaited patiently for the poor elevator to lift his large mass such a long distance. He waited and waited, playing tic-tac-toe with the spider in the corner, Maurice. After 23 “cats” games, they reached level “49” of his actually not-so-tiny cottage.

At last the doors pulled open to reveal the one and only, the magnificent hippocopter, fully equipped with searchlights, smoke bombs, and various marsh plants for light snacking. Donning his cape and mask, Archibald lumbered into the chopper and opened the gates. The engines sputtered to life, and Archibald was away! With a keen eye (for a hippo) he scanned the verdant canopy, seeking the source of the distress signal. The hippocopter was beeping louder now; it had to be close.

Suddenly, with no warning, Archibald was in the middle of a massive cloud of smoke! “This must be part of their plan,” Archibald muttered to himself, while frantically searching for the defog button on the hippocopter dashboard. But before he could find it, the doors to the hippocopter opened to reveal…THE MONSTER!!

“NOT THE MONSTER!” Archibald screamed.

THE MONSTER had terrorized Archibald’s village for years, transforming all letters to capitals at an alarming rate. Wherever SHE went, horrible disasters were sure to follow – laptops permanently stuck on CAPS LOCK, case-sensitive password accounts locked out for hours at a time! What was her evil plan this time? Where would she strike next? Why was she in his hippocopter?!

“Hi!” was the surprisingly not-all-caps greeting that was soon followed by a “I’m not THE MONSTER anymore, thank goodness!” She explained to Archibald that yes, this was all part of her plan, but for a good cause. She’d been cursed to terrorize the village for years through capitalization catastrophe, but this last action had bought her freedom.

“Wait,” said Archibald, “how did you recognize me?”

“I’m not blind, silly, it’s you under that cape and mask!” They both laughed and rode off in the hippocopter.

Little Johnny

A long time ago there were people. These people looked like us and thought like us, except for the part where they weren’t as smart as us. They weren’t as smart as us because…well, there wasn’t as much knowledge. Little Johnny was special though, partly because his mom told him that, and partly because he actually was. What made him special was that he knew that everyone was dumb, and that people in the future would be very smart, as smart as us in fact!! OMG! So Little Johnny decided he wanted to hang out with all of the to-be smart people, and in order to do that he would have to build a time machine. Little Johnny was still as average as everyone else back in the day though, which meant that he didn’t know how to make a time machine.

Little Johnny knew that he must make some radical decisions in order to get this time travel thing going. He started by removing his nametag.

johnnytarget

Straining, he cracked it in half. “Phew,” he said. Finally, he could just go by Johnny. He realized he had just come of age. OR HAD HE?!

Nope.

The police came and told him he had to stop wearing diapers before he could become of age, which is really unfair, so he had a tantrum. After he held his breath until the police acquiesced, Johnny had finally come of age. The freedom! The potential! The luxury! Finally he could buy alcohol, except not because you have to wait three years after coming of age before you can do that.

Full of the pride and optimism of young adulthood, Johnny began his quest for infinite wisdom, specifically how to build a time machine to get the wisdom of the future.

Fortunately, pubescent Johnny (as he was now known) was about to receive some help from above. Literally; the Martians were monitoring his progress as he grew, realizing that he was humanity’s best hope for further development. For a time, they allowed him to struggle through life, observing with bemusement as he used what little resources he had to build a prototype. Then, one fateful night, the Martians imparted the knowledge to pubescent Johnny in his sleep. Their mission complete, the Martians fled their dying world for the Andromeda galaxy, leaving the humans to take over as rulers of the Milky Way.

Meanwhile, pubescent Johnny was just putting the finishing touches on his time machine, when he realized he was out of paint. He couldn’t travel to the future in an unpainted time machine, so he went to the store to go buy some paint. There were so many colors when pubescent Johnny got there. Blue, dark blue, light blue, teal-blue, turquoise-blue, red-blue, and table-blue were only a few of the available colors. He found himself completely unable to choose a color! You see, the combination of the Martians’ imparted knowledge and pubescent Johnny’s vast experience with stores (from his time as a Target employee) turned out to be too much! He had so much knowledge, so much information in his small pubescent head, that deciding on a paint color was rendered completely impossible for him.

Defeated, he slumped down in the paint section. All of his work, wasted! Now he would never get to the future! But all of a sudden, his luck changed (…again)! He would again receive help from above, but not from Martians – from the manager of the paint store! The manager recognized Johnny’s vast potential, and despite his mental breakdown, gave him a job. He was quickly promoted to manager and lived happily ever after!

Cave Darkness

I step into the cave with my sword drawn, the firelight glinting off it and casting reflections on the slick, moss-covered walls.

“Hello?” I yell, and my voice echoes back at me as if in mockery. I can hear breathing. I raise the torch higher, trying to peer into the gloomy depths. John appears behind me with a pop and a sizzle, looking startled.

“Sara? I felt fear, so I showed up.”

“Something’s in there, John.”

John and I approach the innermost depths of the cave cautiously. The breathing noises continue. I still see nothing. We decide to creep closer towards the mysterious breathing noise. Suddenly I hear a flop next to me, and the sound of John’s voice in pain. Had he slipped on the moss? It was very slick in the cave.

I turned and waved the torch in his direction.

“What’s wrong?” Nothing. I stepped closer, only to see a large, slightly scaly plate on the ground. John was nowhere to be seen. My blood turned to icy lead as I realized what may be going on. I faced forward again, proceeded a few paces, and turned back again. Nothing – no John, no scales. A screech echoed through the cave. I pointed my torch in the direction of the noise, just quick enough to catch a glimpse of a ferocious dragon-like beast’s shadow on the cave walls. Running in that direction, I stop and only find emptiness. The ground is littered with scales. I drew my sword on the ground. It cut through, as if leading into another dimension. And in fact that is where he had gone. Poking at the scales on the ground, I noticed a red flickering light, just where John had been. Waving my torch in its direction, the golden ring, set with a small ruby and engraved in a silvery script unknown to me, revealed itself. I cautiously stepped closer to it while still waving around my light to keep any hidden beasts from approaching. It sat half covered by the scales, just waiting to be discovered.

When I was close enough, I reached out and grabbed it. It looked normal in the firelight, but there must be something special about it, I thought. I decided the fire might reveal any magical properties that it had and slowly dropped it on the ground again and put my torch on it to expose it to the flame. As I expected, this ring was magical. Red writing appeared on the pure gold outside, but I couldn’t read it.

Then I remembered what one of my classmates back in high school told me, I think Tolkien was his name. He talked about a powerful ring. One that would inspire lust and greed in anyone who set eyes on it. But I don’t feel it. No lust or greed. Maybe he said something else… Yes, it was “inspire lust and greed in any MAN who set eyes on it.” I am a woman. Thank goodness. I heard another scrabble behind me. Then…

“MY PRE –”

And then nothing. A slight pain in the side of my head as my knees give out and my vision goes black. I drift off.

The Giraffe Princess

Once upon a time there was a princess giraffe. She loved being a princess, and she was kind and fair to her subjects. However, she had a problem. You see, this princess giraffe was very sarcastic. Her mother hoped she would become Queen one day, but sarcasm was not a valued quality in the royal family. The princess was forced to spend hours in harsh Queen-prep training, but nothing could crush her biting sarcastic wit.

One day during her training, the princess had to take a tour of the outer kingdom. There were few subjects there, so it was a rather lonely trip. She was looking at the clouds as she walked, trying to find shapes in the sky. But she should have paid more attention to where she was walking because then she fell into some sort of large hole. It was a sarchasm!

At the bottom, she found that she was glad to have survived. A path led away from the lake that she had landed in, and, curious (for if we are honest, we must admit she was curious as well), she began to follow it. After a time she came to a large well, a cobblestone affair with shingled roof leaning at an angle. “How curious,” she thought, “for someone to have built a well down here. Perhaps I will go and get a drink of water.” But she found her neck was not long enough to reach the bottom. Glancing around, she noticed a rather short dwarf. “Perhaps he will fetch me a drink of water,” she thought. Sauntering over, she asked him nicely, “Will you get me a drink of water? For, see, I have no hands.”

The dwarf refused. In response, the princess chopped off his head.

How did she chop off his head, you might ask? You see, in her Queen-prep training, she learned how to saw through anything she encountered with her saw-casm. Upon the dwarf’s refusal to get her some water, the princess had discovered how to put her saw-casming powers to good use. She simply threatened to saw off the head of anyone who refused to obey, and before long, everyone in the kingdom learned never to disobey her. So even though she did not have any arms, she became the most powerful queen giraffe that the animal kingdom had ever seen.

The End.

The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam (and Lasermutt)!

Once upon a time there was a superhero named Captain Laserbeam. His superpowers were all laser-themed: laser-hearing, laser-speed, and, of course, laser beams. He protected Apex City from all sorts of evil with the help of his group of faithful kid followers, the Adventurekateers!

All was going well one day as Captain Laserbeam was reading a story at the Apex City orphanage. “But wait, is that the Adventurekateer distress call?” Captain Laserbeam asked. “On a frequency only I can hear? Thanks, laser hearing!”

“Quickly, to the lasermobile, Lasermutt! We must investigate!”

Captain Laserbeam raced to his ’57 Chevy, pressing the large red button on the dash. Instantly, the car transformed into a laser beam, traveling far faster than a speeding bullet as it raced around corners and ricocheted off walls, speeding them ever closer to the source of the signal.

“Good thing I have my laser reflexes!” said Captain Laserbeam.

“Arf! Arf!” agreed Lasermutt.

Ahead of them, the city disappeared into a wall of energy.

“My Gods, what is it?” asked Captain Laserbeam.

It’s a GNOME!!

“Quick!” Captain Laserbeam told himself. “I need to defeat the gnome before he attacks all the freezing chill-dren at the Apex City orphanage!” He knows that there’s only one way to defeat a gnome: use his laser beam powers to laser cut Mr. Gnome into a piece of wood. Can he make IT chill again??

The giant gnome lurched toward the lasermobile. Lasermutt whimpered as the gnome with its hollow, unblinking gaze neared the super-fast vehicle.

“It’s all right, Lasermutt. You’ve beaten tons of gnomes before (albeit they were smaller).” The Captain aimed the main laser beam towards the enemy, slashing through the clunky gnome’s face. Victory seemed imminent, when thousands of smaller (normal-sized) gnomes gushed out of the gnome’s hands.

“What in the laser’s name is going on?!!”

Lasermutt hid his face and sighed as if to say, “Told you so.”

Captain Laserbeam stood heroically as he used his laser-eyes to laser-shoot his laser beams at the miniature gnomes. But the miniature gnomes were laser-resistant! Gnome gnome could be laser-damaged by laser beams, unless…(gasp!) their laser-weakness is exploited! For all you laser-folks out there who don’t know what a gnome’s one laser-weakness is, you must wait no more! The only way one can laser-defeat the most powerful of miniature gnomes is by teaming up with Lasermutt to create the unstoppable combo-laser-laser beam (of DOOM)! No gnome shall survive.

Captain Laserbeam was ready to use the combo-laser-laser beam; all he needed was Lasermutt. His sidekicks, the Adventurekateers, had just given Lasermutt a laser-rific dog treat so he was ready to go, too! Together, they unleashed the awesome combo-laser-laser beam and defeated the gnomes!

“I’m just glad Apex City is safe,” Captain Laserbeam gave as his comment.

George’s Stolen Toy

Once upon a time, there was a manatee. He liked to calm people down when they were stressed out. One day, while he was going for a swim, he met a little boy named George. George was usually a happy kid, but lately he had been feeling down. You see, George’s favorite toy had recently been stolen from his backpack at school. Ever since the theft, George had been unable to find any toys to match it.

The manatee, whose name was D’Brickashaw, tried everything he could to soothe the little boy. He sang German folk songs, played the harp (which was impressive because manatees don’t have fingers), and even read a thermodynamics textbook out loud, which he was sure would lull the boy to sleep. But nothing worked! George was far too distressed! So the duo decided to look for help. There were many toy theft detectives in this part of the sea, including Pauline the Pufferfish Private Eye and Sammy the Slimmy Sleuth, but there was one who was greater than all the rest.

His name was Phillip Fathom, the deep-sea detective. D’Brickashaw had once helped calm him down, so he owed the manatee a favor (which was good because Phillip Fathom wasn’t always the most agreeable fellow). George rode on D’Brickashaw’s back to Phillip Fathom’s secret base, and they waited for him to answer the door.

“WHY ARE YOU HERE,” Phillip Fathom shouted. “THIS IS A SECRET BASE.”

“We’re looking for Phillip Fathom, the great Private Eye.”

“Well, you won’t find him here. I’m the new owner. Fathom sold the place to me last month. He did leave me this, though,” said the blowfish, disappearing back into the base for a moment. When he returned, he had George’s toy!

“Said you might come looking for it, he did,” the old fish remarked. “I guess he musta known something we didn’t.”

And that, my friends, is why Phillip Fathom is the ocean’s greatest private eye.

Why is Everyone Staring at Me?

Why is everyone staring at me? I think I know what it is, but I don’t want to admit it. My hand creeps its way up to my head and nervously messes my freshly cut hair. Their eyes are pools of black tar, steadfast, judgmental. I can’t help what I look like! When I woke up this morning, I didn’t decide that the tip of my nose would be the perfect place for a bright red zit. It wasn’t my fault that the baseball socked my left temple, leaving it an unpleasant shade of indigo, or that Dad spilled coffee over me this morning and stained the rainbow suspenders Grandpa gave me. At least the sun is finally back out today. Why else would I be wearing my stylish ten-gallon hat?

Probably because I’ve decided to go full-out for my theater class later today, but I guess they don’t know that. My next question: why aren’t they blinking? Their faces are those of my classmates, but somehow I think something is up.

“Sam?” I ask, waving at him.

“Yes, Joey? What is it?”

“Are you okay?”

“I am fine, Joey. Thank you for asking. Is there anything else that you desire?”

I stare at him. That isn’t Sam, or at least not normal Sam.

“N-N-Nothing,” I stammer out. “Just wanted to see how you were doing.”

“That is very kind of you, Joey. I appreciate your concern for my well-being. How are you today?”

I back away slowly, hoping to find out what’s going on here before it happens to me. Suddenly, I bump into something.

“J-Joey? M-Me?”

I realize that the reason everyone is staring at me, the reason my face is so messed up, is because I keep bumping into everything all day long! Indeed, it is my only flaw. The light of the sun makes everything worse. Light is my enemy. It shines on all my faults, reveals my incompetency at walking without slamming into everything. My life is a dead end. I just can’t get past the walls, the baseballs, the cups of coffee…I try to protect myself with my ten-gallon hat, but it does no good.

I rush to the bathroom to splash my face with cold water. Heading back into the hallway, I find that the usual chatter and gossip of students is gone, and no one is in sight. I peer down the hallway and slowly pivot back into place. Suddenly, I notice someone else silently gazing back at me. He looked eerily similar. Same haircut, with the blunt raw edges that made it so obvious you just got it cut. Same inflamed red zit on the nose. Same sore bruise on the temple. Same stained suspenders.

“…Me?” I asked, approaching this figure.

“You…?” I implored again. Still no response. I took a hesitant step forward. He scurried back nervously.

“This is so freaking weird,” I thought to myself. “Who is he? Who am I? What’s going on??”

A single girl’s laugh rang from another hallway, along with clicked footsteps. When the sounds approached, I noticed there were actually two of the same girl, as if her mirror image followed her out the door that morning. I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was seeing things right…Wait, I rubbed my eyes! Shit! I forgot to put on glasses this morning and so I kept bumping into things and didn’t realize all the double people were just walking around a mirrored wall. Silly me!

The Undercover Agent

“Fourth floor, room 61. In the corner at the south end of the building. You can’t miss it. Big oak door, kinda scary knocker. Totally doesn’t fit with anything around it. Knock twice then walk two doors down to the left; he’ll let you in there.”

Sarah closed her phone and looked down at her feet, wiggling her toes. This was the second time she had to tell him where to go that day. “How the hell can Jack be so forgetful,” she wondered to herself. Shaking her head, Sara reached for the TV remote and flicked it on.

Only twice in the next six hours did she look away, just to see the sun fall. She watched a lot of TV; it took her mind off of things. She was curious if Jack had made it there on time. “If he was late, I’m going to be blamed,” she mumbled to herself. Her phone rang, the first noise other than the TV in hours. “Yes?” she answered, not knowing what to expect.

“¡Hola! ¿Qué pasó?”

It was Ricardo.

“Abre la puerta, chiquita.”

“Okay, give me a sec.”

She got up and strolled toward the door. Peering through the peephole, she landed her gaze on a short, built Mexican, covered with tattoos, a single scar placed from just below his eye to the jaw. She opened the door and he rushed in, pulling his laptop out of his backpack and quickly powering it on.

“Where is he?” he asked.

“He should be in position any minute now,” she followed.

They both gazed at the screen as the bright green dot zigzagged its way through the hallways of the school. Suddenly the crappy laptop speakers started transmitting Jack’s broken conversations.

“Nice to…great weather…”

“Ugh, small talk,” said Ricardo. “He’s got to keep a lower profile.”

“Let’s hope he doesn’t get caught,” said Sarah.

“It would be a real hitch in our plan if they discovered he’s a puppy instead of human!”

“Yeah,” Ricardo replied.

Jack was a fluffy golden retriever, middle-aged (in dog years), but had remarkable talent as a human. When Sarah adopted him as a puppy, she had anticipated a loyal companion, but not the truly understanding friend she ended up with.

Ricardo, being a bad seed, spied on Sarah one day as she went for a walk with Jack, and noticed Jack’s talent. He devised an evil plan to use Jack as a stand-in during a scary confrontation of a villain.

Sarah knew Jack could handle himself in a dog-cat-dog world, but she worried nonetheless. Her thoughts were interrupted by a sinister voice over the speaker.

“Ah, ha! Jack the middle-aged golden retriever! I’ve been warned of your coming. But you are too late to stop my evil plan!”

“Hardly,” came Jack’s confident reply. “I’ve just destroyed your evil contraption necessary for your evil plan with my wits and this screwdriver from Home Depot!”

“Noooo!” screamed the villain. “I so wanted to unleash my dastardly gnomes on the population of…this town. I’m sorry, I travel a lot for my work.”

“Your traveling days are over!” exclaimed Jack. “Take him away!”

Sarah breathed a sigh of relief as she heard the clank of the manatees clamping the villain in handcuffs. All was well once again.

The Virtually Real Parable

You may have heard the expression “choose your own adventure.” But on this adventure, there will be no choice. You will have one path, and there is one end. This end is waiting for you like an animal awaiting its prey. Along the path you see a foreboding line of dark trees. You can hear the trees calling out to you, a deafening noise that makes you want to fall through the ground and leave the path forever. But you must continue onward; you have no choice on this adventure. Only by continuing can you discover the evil you will encounter along the way. And the first thing you come across will be a thing you will never forget.

You will awake one morning, thinking it is just like any other day – wake up, brush your teeth, change your clothes, eat breakfast, go to school. You raise your hand to slam the alarm silent when you notice something peculiar. The pulsing red light of your alarm clock seems to be mirrored on the inside of your right forearm. 365-23:59:53…52…51…what? It seems as if the world is counting down to some end…but what end?

Assuming that the weirdest part of his day was over, Stanley got up, followed his normal routine, and went to work. Stanley sat down in his cubicle and waited for his first task of the day to show up on his monitor. But nothing showed up. After a few minutes, Stanley stood up and looked out of his cubicle. Stanley was confused; he couldn’t seem to see any of his coworkers. The copier was silent. There was no clicking from the keyboards around him. Stanley was very confused. He decided he should investigate. Stanley exited his cubicle and walked down the aisle of desks. Stanley left the room and walked down the hall until he came to two open doors. Stanley took the door on the right.

As soon as he went through the door, he thought he made a mistake. Or maybe his contacts were getting dry spots, he didn’t know. The only thing he was sure of was that what he was seeing could not be real. It looked like he was outside, but the door he went through was clearly the door to another office space. He turned around to look at the door again, but it was gone.

He turned around again, and the office space was gone, this time being greeted by a wall, with a door. In fact it was THE door. The same door that he thought he just went through. He reached forward to go outside as he initially intended, but when he wrapped his fingers around the handle he noticed the sound of clicking, and murmuring, and copying: office sounds. He froze in fear, a chill going down his spine. “What is going on?” he couldn’t help but think to himself. He whipped his head around and saw nothing. The office was just as dead as before, not a sound.

Suddenly, the walls cracked. The copier fell through the floor. Plaster flew everywhere. His only choice was to get through the new door as soon as possible.

He wrenched the door open, and –

“SURPRISE!”

The office all had party hats on. Someone behind the birthday cake blew a party horn.

“Wha-uh-what? YOU GUYS!” Stanley yelled. “What just happened?!”

“Ha ha, fooled you! The clock was a nice touch, eh?” said his old friend Jim, patting him on the shoulder.

“But – ”

“It’s okay! Everything is fine. We simulated the whole thing,” said Debby.

Stanley fell to his knees and massaged his temples. The sign over the door said:

VALVE VIRTUAL REALITY SAYS HAPPY B-DAY STANLY!

“You spelled my name wrong!” he exclaimed.

“Whoops!” said Debby.

Cloudy with a Chance of Kitties

It started off as a typical day in a typical neighborhood. The mailman made his way through the subdivision streets lined with perfectly consistent houses, stopping regularly. School children excitedly rushed off the school buses to go back home and watch weekday afternoon cartoons. Within a couple hours, more parents would emerge from the horrid rush hour traffic to return home. Everything was in place, following the regular rhythm of suburban life.

The pristine blue sky was dotted with friendly clouds that day. The sun made its daily grand exit, painting its canvas unprecedented hues, fading into a calm evening. Families were conversing about “How was school today?” and “Did you have a good day at work?” when the clouds began to unexpectedly thicken. Eerie honking and barks of thunder echoed from afar, followed by faint mewing and screeches. A single puppy flew down from above, followed by a Calico cat. The people began to notice and emerged from their homes to realize it was raining cats and dogs!

“MRRROOWWWW!!!”

Down they came, sometimes splatting on the ground, sometimes on people’s heads, and occasionally landing softly in a bush or flower bed. When cats and dogs fall from the sky, it may be funny or amusing at first, but soon you realize it’s a total bloodbath. Guts everywhere, limping or dead animals covering the streets.

The children were crying, “Those poor animals!” On the other hand, the teenage boys were laughing. The parents were shielding their small kids’ eyes and simply no one knew what to do. This was a first-scale catastrophe. The Italian down the block gasped as an epiphany came over him. “That’s what ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ means!”

After three hours, the bodies began piling up, two feet, three feet high. At one point there became a layer of bodies thick enough that it softened the impact of the cats and dogs still falling from the sky.

Thump Thu-Thump Thump Thump.

Meow Woof Meow Meow Woof.

Families were cowering in their houses, unable to leave their houses because the doors were blocked by all of the furry bodies. Occasionally someone would peek out the window and see dozens, no, hundreds of animals roaming around, more falling.

Falling and falling, meowing and woofing, the sounds of horror crescendoed into a roar, until suddenly –

It stopped.

The cats and dogs that hadn’t hit the ground yet were frozen in midair, glitching forward and backward a little. All was silent. Then POP! a few cats disappeared, and POP! a few more. Slowly but surely, the domesticated animals cleared.

Halfway across the world, a man with yellow eyes sat at his computer screen, watching the numbers. “NO!” he screamed.

He was having a bad day.

Anyways, the puppies and kittens popped back to heaven where they could be happy again after their brief but confusing tumble. All of the schoolchildren ran to grab the last remaining furry friends to adopt as their own, but their parents reminded them that there are many animals needing adoption already without this surplus. Each family went out and adopted a pet that day and the world was a better place.

The End.

The Popcorn Ball

A little girl sat on the swing set, eating a popcorn ball. She had a long brown braid and bright blue eyes. It was a pretty spring day, and she had spent all of it at the park with her brother, Jack. Their dad brought them the popcorn balls as a snack.

Their dad just so happened to be the president of the United States of America. This meant that he was a very busy man, but NOT too busy for his children. (Awwwwwww)

The popcorn that he brought his kids was made from the highest quality Nebraskan corn, and tasted delicious.

Jack threw his popcorn ball up in the air, catching it again. The girl wondered how he could keep doing that without dropping it. She bet he’d grow up to play baseball. This girl was different, though. Sports weren’t really for her. Right now, she wanted to be a professional swinger. Up and down she went, pretending to float at the top of her swing, pretending she was on a roller coaster coming down.

Suddenly, she realized she WAS on a roller coaster! How exciting! Zoom! Over and under, around and down, zipping through the course like an electron in a particle accelerator. It was then she realized that she wanted to be a physics major! Eureka! She opened her eyes gleefully, having finally discovered an answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up” that would suit her dad’s political, egotistical friends. No, she wasn’t on a roller coaster after all, merely her swing set.

Meanwhile, her popcorn ball was untouched and her stomach grumbled with want. But if she was to eat her beloved Nebraskan popcorn, she would destroy the perfection of the sphere. It was this revelation that made her realize she liked mathematics better than physics (ha ha ha, silly physics…). Meanwhile, Jack was up to all sorts of shenanigans, which would eventually lead to his being rushed to the hospital, his left arm fractured in three places. Ah, well. As the girl pondered her brother’s recklessness, she realized she wished she could heal those who’d been injured, and at last she understood her true calling as a doctor…of philosophy holding physical therapist.

Pondering all of her life options, the girl didn’t even realize the sun was starting to set. She got up to head home, when all of a sudden, her popcorn ball lit up and began to speak. “You belong with us, little girl. You belong with the popcorn people…” Before she knew what was happening, she had been transported to a magical land made of popcorn. She knew this was her true destiny, and the little girl lived happily ever after as one of the Popcorn People.

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