Note – this is a story based on the Seasons of Imagination cycle of stories plus the several later stories in the series.
I was awakened by a bright, blinding light. A strange, off-key hum filled the air. Was my spaceship damaged?
I sat up.
Queen Shimá, humming up a storm, turned from the window. She had just opened the curtains, allowing my archenemy, the starry Sol, to send his death beams into my room!
“Good morning, sleepyhead. You finally awake?”
“What time is it?” I asked. I yawned.
“It’s pretty late, Sweetie, almost 8.”
8? 8AM? That was early! Was I going to be sent to the uranium mines on Pluto, aka, the John Adams Elementary School, JAES, pronounced “Jazz”, after all? But it was Saturday!
“I’ve done two loads of your laundry while you slept in,” Queen Shimá said. She pointed to a laundry basket. “You need to put them away. And please fold them this time, and don’t just shove them in your drawers, OK?”
“Sure, Mom,” I said. I’d say anything to appease the evil Queen, but I was not going to do her nefarious bidding! Fold the clothes indeed, as if I were servant. I mean, it was just Wednesday night that she made me take the trash out!
“Thanks, Honey,” she said as she left the room.
I was awake and Sol was scorching through my room, so I had no choice but to get up despite the ungodly early hour.
I immediately closed the curtains. That would show Sol!
I then realized that Mom, I mean Queen Shimá, had forgotten to close the door. I knew she went downstairs and that Dad would be downstairs anyway, but still! Queen Shimá probably found a random girl to invite into the house just to embarrass me by having my underwear exposed! OK, they are cool CP3O underwear, but I don’t want to have anyone see me in them!
I slammed the door closed and dumped the laundry basket to make it easier to find stuff. Socks, pants and shirt, check. No use folding them if I was going to wear them, right? I told myself that I’d pick the rest of the cloths up and put them into their drawers in the afternoon, perhaps before dinner or at bed time.
A few minutes later I was standing at the top of the stairs, facing the first big test of the day. They were booby-trapped almost every day, but they looked so normal. Too normal.
One of the steps moved.
I dropped a clean sock on it and the sock was immediately devoured.
How dastardly! The steps themselves were alive! Alive and obviously hungry.
I leaned out as far as I dare, stretching my arms in front of me. I silently counted down, three, two, one and dropped down, my hands grabbing the rails, and swung myself as far down as I could. I skipped over the first half of the steps, the ones that were expecting me, landed, and used my momentum to take the second half, again using the handrails to further my jump.
“Quite that crashing around,” Queen Shimá yelled from the kitchen. “You’re going to break something, most likely you neck.”
I heard Dad laugh.
“And you, you’re no better than the kid,” Queen Shimá said. “Sometimes I don’t think either of you are very bright.”
“Ha!” Dad said. “Your mom tells me you were exactly like him when you were a kid. And your creative side still comes out to make my boring life interesting. Don’t try to deny it, it’s in your family. Just talk to your bother some day. My side of the family is all a bunch of quiet nerds. Not a one of us has a whiff of imagination to speak of.”
“Your side? Now there’s a laugh.”
Dad laughed again as he nodded in my direction. Rats, I’d been seen. Their discussions were often very interesting if they didn’t know I could hear.
“Well, I have a million things to do, so…” Dad kissed Mom on the cheek. “I’ll be back after lunch.”
Breakfast was relatively uneventful, particularly after I was able to create a barrier against starry Sol’s bright death rays using some cereal boxes. It is amazing what can be done with cardboard these days.
The worst part of the morning, of course, was when Queen Shimá kicked me out of the house. “Stop rotting your brain on those stupid Saturday morning cartoons! Spring has sprung! It is the first beautiful sunny Saturday this year! I’m sure you’re the only kid in town who isn’t out playing. Go find Josh or one of your other friends.”
Before I could protest, I was outside, dodging sniper bullets from the Karlsberg’s roof.
Nothing to do but head downtown to Browns and see if I could get in a few video games on the computers they were selling. I could usually get one or two in before being kicked out.
I was walking towards town when I came across two evil ogres! They even had clubs!
“Hey, look who it is,” one of the ogres said. “I wonder if he’s going down to play baseball.”
“Him? What position would he play? He’s such a wimp, I doubt he could throw the ball more than ten feet.”
“Hey wimp, if you’re going to play ball, you better not be on my team! If you are, I’ll show you other uses for this bat than just hitting balls.”
The other ogre laughed.
Without a word to either of the evil beasts, I took off towards the woods. One thing for sure, the evil god Sporz and the High Demon with the low pitched voice, Bass Bawl, will never be found out in the woods! Ogres and trolls no longer live in forests or under bridges. The trolls have all been sucked up online and the ogres spend all of their brainless time in a field praying to their god Sporz.
I ducked my way behind a few houses and soon found myself at the bottom of Lucifer’s Lunge, the most feared sledding hill in all of New England, if not the country. Not a speck of snow, of course. Sad. I waved to Mr. Lambert. He really didn’t like us sledding on his property, but I knew it was OK to play back there, as long as I didn’t’ do any damage.
Mr. Lambert leaned on his rake and stared.
It didn’t matter, I was deep in the woods in seconds.
The morning started off a little boring. It was too early in the spring for any interesting bugs or snakes or anything. Of course there were typical things that happen in the woods, like I was attacked by three orcs, but then saved by an elf. Later there was a Sasquatch, but a squirrel scared it off. Various dragons, unicorns, android attacks and a werewolf. A Jedi and a Sith Lord had a duel. You know, the typical things I usually see on a Saturday hike through the woods. Boring.
And then it happened.
A bright light beamed down into a clearing.
Oh no, was the starry Sol catching up to me?
An unearthly humming filled the air, one even stranger than Queen Shimá’s humming.
A large saucer shaped object descended in front of me. It landed on three delicate legs. A ramp extended from the side and a port opened. Four beings came out and walked over to me.
One of the strange creatures pointed a thingy that looked like a mushroom at a stump. A bright light came out of the mushroom and, poof, there was some charcoal in the stump’s place. He then pointed it at me.
I cowered back, hand over my face.
There was bright light as I was shot.
But nothing was wrong with me.
I dropped my hand and stared at the space being.
The odd alien pointed the mushroom at another of the aliens and a beam came out. When the light went out the other alien looked just like me! That must be what it had done when it shot me, it copied my image and then it pasted it onto the other alien!
I was then pulled into the ship and it took off.
We watched the alien that looked like me as it explored the town. It got into all sorts of mischief, things I would never do! For instance, when Mr. Lambert wasn’t looking, it tipped over his wheelbarrow. Sticks and other junk that had accumulated over the winter which Mr. Lambert had spent all day picking up were scattered everywhere.
The space creature crashed the computer in Browns and was kicked out.
Next the alien threw pinecones at the Bawl Praying Ogres.
It then came to my house and got muddy handprints all over the car Dad had just washed.
The creatures beamed the alien back on board and beamed me down.
My dad came around the house and looked at me.
“What have you been doing all day?” he asked. “You are covered from head to toe in mud!”
“I’ve been out,” I said. “I have to go in and clean up. See you.”
That was close! If he had gone two more steps he would have noticed the car.
I ran into the house, but bumped into Queen Shimá almost instantly. She was frowning. Ooops, maybe I wasn’t so lucky.
“What have you been doing, young man?” she asked.
“I’ve been playing outside, like you wanted me to.”
“I got a call from the Little League couch, Mr. Driar. He said you were throwing pinecones at some of the players.”
“And Mr. Lambert called and said you made a mess of his lawn after he spent all day raking.”
“It wasn’t me! Really!”
“And you got muddy handprints all over my clean car,” Dad said. Oh, oh, I didn’t hear him come in.
“Look at you,” Queen Shimá said. “You are filthy! Just standing there you are getting the house dirty. Up, up you go. Up! You get in the tub and scrub. I know your tricks. I want warm water in that tub and you in it, up to your muddy neck in the water. You use soap. No stating later that I wasn’t clear enough and that you obeyed the letter of the law, you little scamp. You know what I mean. If you have one gram of dirt anyplace on your body when you come down for dinner…”
I knew better than to argue with her. A single glance from her made Gila Monsters hide and coyotes slink away. Best not fool with an angry desert goddess*.
“Yes, Queen Shimá,” I said.
“Uhm, ‘Mom’. That’s it, yeah. I’ll take a bath, uhm, Mom. Yeah.”
I went up the carnivorous steps knowing that even they wouldn’t dare disobey her and snap at me.
“Maybe you are right,” Dad said when I was almost to the top.
“About?” Mom asked.
“It would take quite some creativity to imagine some of the things I imagined I wanted to do to the boy after seeing his muddy handprints all over my newly cleaned car. I may not be as artistic as your family, but…”
Queen Shimá giggled.
“And, yeah, I got in trouble as a kid. Too often. Didn’t you?
“Perhaps. But he is still going to spend tomorrow helping Mr. Lambert rake his yard.”
A day outside at Lambert’s hill, aka Lucifer’s Lunge? Things where looking up.
Sunday, despite being the day of my nemesis, Sol, would be a brighter day.
As long as I didn’t have to take another bath.
* Note – Shimá is actually Navajo for Mother, not a goddess…. I used it in the very first of these stories and so have kept that name. The cereal box image is also from that first story, as is the fight with the morning light.