Another perfect day, one of the few days when I am spared slave labor in the Uranium mines on Pluto, and it was ruined.
“Are you just going to waste your entire day rotting your brain on Saturday morning cartoons?” Queen Shimá asked. She stood in the portal, her hands on her hips. “You need to do something, not just sit like a plotted plant.”
“But Mom,” I said, “’Creepy Critter’s Criminal Capers’ is my favorite!”
“It’s a sunny day out there. Go play outside.”
“It must be fifty below. I’ll freeze my boy parts off.”
“Don’t you talk to me like that, young man.”
“Aren’t any of your friends around?”
“They’re all inside watching cartoons. And on Monday, I’ll be the laughing stock of the entire school if I don’t know what happened to Creepy Critter this weekend!”
“Well, go watch it with Josh. I bet you’ll be playing outside within minutes.”
“The Greenberg’s went skiing in New Hampshire this weekend.”
“Well, go find something to do besides sit on your behind having your mind destroyed by this drivel.”
“Yes Mom,” I said. I’m afraid that Queen Shimá can be like that. She doesn’t understand that I have to have all of the bad energy that was dumped into my skull at school neutralized by poorly drawn, ultra-violent animals.
I left the station and entered the cold, barren landscape of Charon, Pluto’s moon. The sun was small and weak in the sky. I blinked up at it and shivered.
A bullet came from the Karlsberg’s house. I was about to dive over the hedge when I noticed Mr. Smith. He waved. I waved back. Mr. Smith hated it when I jumped over his bushes, but didn’t he know it was life or death?
Another shot rang out. Mr. Smith continued to work in his driveway, so I assumed he was under the pay of the assassin. I had given myself up as a goner, when a blaster bolt came out of the sky. The Karlsberg’s house was reduced to a pile of rubble. A second later an X-Wing flew over. I waved to Luke and R2. I could hear the bleeps and blips as the rebel fighter zipped out of site.
That was close!
I walked towards downtown. It was a week’s hard journey, at least four blocks away, but the trek would be worth it. There were some computers for sale in the back aisle of Brown’s and I could usually get a few games in before one of the employees kicked me out. A bit down the road from Brown’s was Play Palace Toy Store. Most of the stuff was garbage like dolls or baby things, but sometimes I could find cool things there.
After two days across the frozen tundra of the wilds of suburban Massachusetts, I spotted my destination, Main Street. And then I say it, a large Yellow Anomaly. No, not a submarine (why did my parents think I’d like that song?). It was something much more sinister.
A school bus! On Saturday!
Mom, I mean Queen Shimá, obviously knew that a rogue bus would be out in the wild, looking for a victim to to kidnap for extra slave duty at the Uranium mines on Pluto, aka the John Adams Elementary School (JAES, pronounced “Jazz”).
I had to escape!
I went down a random driveway and took off across back yards. At first I had no destination, but slowly moved to the edge of town, keeping my eye out for that evil yellow predator, the school bus. But then I had a thought and made my way to the Lambert’s.
A hill grew out of the Lambert’s back yard. I soon found myself at the bottom looking up. It was such a sad sight. There wasn’t a fleck of snow! Lucifer’s Lunge, the most feared sledding slope in four states, was completely barren! There aught to be a law that there is always snow on the ground between Veterans’ Day and Easter. It was below freezing, for goodness sake. Or at least it was last night. And yet there was no sledding in sight.
I went up the path and soon lost myself in the woods.
I had been being chased by trolls, dragons, tigers and dinosaurs when a dark figure rose up in front of me. With a buzz of pure electricity and magical power, a red beam of light rose up from the thing’s hand.
A Sith Lord! What was I to do?
Luckily, Gandalf was close. I yelled over to the wizard and he came to my rescue. A beam of pure magical energy was emitted from his staff. In a blaze, the two began to battle.
The hillside burned and crackled as stray bolts destroyed tree and stone. It was fierce! Six Storm Troopers came rampaging through the frozen jungle. A blaster bolt narrowly missed my leg and incinerated an old stump. I drew my light saber and prepared for battle.
There was a bright flash and a scream from the Storm Troopers. As the giant mushroom cloud rose, I could make out the two figures, still battling. Gandalf’s cloths were singed in the giant explosion. It was looking bad for the wizard. He turned towards me. “Fly, you fool!” he said. “It is almost dinner time and Queen Shimá will be angry if you are late!”
Dinner time? The sky was growing dark with a pink tinge on the horizon.
I had to move! Evil lurked in the mighty forest. The last time I was out, I saw a Yeti eat a guy. Well, Josh said it was just a weird shaped tree. Yeah, really, Josh, are you that blind?
I ran, but the sun was quicker. A chill wind grew as the light failed. I had to be careful with my step as the carbon dioxide froze out of the air, causing dry ice patches in my path.
Not only that, but I could hear all types of monsters just at my heals. Slobbering teeth snapped at my heels.
At last I saw the hearth lights of my haven.
My joints began to freeze solid. A wampa was closing in. Wampas are dangerous and even took Luke by surprise in The Empire Strikes Back. They love the cold. It was almost on me!
I reached the door, inches ahead of the wampa. I fumbled with the knob. Oh no! But it opened and the warm light of my safe haven leaked out into the cold night. The wampa ran in terror.
“You’ve been gone quite a while. Did you have a good day?” Queen Shimá smiled with evil intent. I knew better.
“No! It was awful! Why couldn’t I stay in and watch cartoons like everyone else?”
She winked at Father, pretending I couldn’t see or something. “Oh you poor mistreated boy! Go wash up and get ready for dinner. I’ll have food out by the time you get back.”
“Yes, Mother,” I said. I realized that I had missed lunch and was suddenly starving.
As I washed up, I could hear the creatures prowling outside and the harsh wind whistle. I would never admit it to the Queen, but I was happy to be Home, in my little haven away from the monsters.
Cartoons or no, I love Saturdays. Only, why are they so short?
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This story is part of the series that was once on this blog and later combined into the story “Seasons of Imagination”, which was included in my book of short stories, Seasons of Imagination.