Super Duck

There are plenty of heroes who are smarter, quite a few who are stronger, countless more who are faster, but there are none who are braver than mighty Super Duck. Super Duck has two unique abilities: he can balance anything on his super strong bill and he can unlock any lock with his agile tail feathers. He can also fly, of course, but that is nothing special. All ducks can fly.

Super Duck was a relatively unknown superhero until his famous encounter with the infamous Dr. Barbecue. There had been a rumor going around that Dr. Barbecue, the so-called “scientific chef,” was plotting something big. When animals began to disappear, more than one superhero was on the hunt for Dr. Barbecue. Super Duck was just the first to find him.

One of the kidnapped animals was a good friend of Super Duck, Terrance Turkey. T.T. lived right next door to Super Duck, and he was famous for his broccoli and onion soup. Super Duck had been smelling that soup several times a week for years, and he was sick of it. In the end, though, that distinctive smell is what enabled Super Duck to find Dr. Barbecue’s lair. When T.T. was taken, he was right in the middle of testing his latest batch of soup. A great bowl of the stuff splashed all over him in his struggle. When Super Duck came on the scene later, he saw immediately what had happened. After that, all he had to do was follow that oniony smell all the way to Dr. Barbecue.

As it turned out, however, the soup was all a part of Dr. Barbecue’s evil plan. Super Duck had followed his nose to an old warehouse downtown. He was still sniffing around outside the back door when a cage dropped from above and neatly trapped him inside. Before he could do anything, three huge henchman came out of the door and carried the cage inside. Super Duck could see two other cages, covered in cloth and sitting on a giant table. He wondered who was inside. Before he had a chance to get too curious, though, a small man with a black goatee and a chef’s apron turned around. He was smiling and sharpening a knife.

“Now I have you,” laughed the evil Dr. Barbecue. “You are the final piece I needed for my culinary masterpiece. This will be a dish like no other. I will be called the bravest chef in history,for I will do what no one else has yet dared. You have heard, perhaps, of the famous Turducken?”

Super Duck gasped. Of course he had heard of Turducken, that most evil of culinary wickedness, a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken and slowly roasted. The very name was a horror. Until now it had only been a theory, outlined in nasty cookbooks but never yet actually performed.

Super Duck no longer wondered who occupied the other two cells. He only hoped that the turkey and the chicken were still alive.

Dr. Barbecue ordered his henchmen to leave and lock the door so that no one would learn his secret recipe. He cackled to himself as he lit the enormous oven. Super Duck wasted no time once the villain’s back was turned. With his agile tail feathers, Super Duck quickly picked the lock to his cage. When Dr. Barbecue turned back around, Super Duck was sitting calmly in the cage, looking completely innocent. Dr. Barbecue turned back to the stove to prepare the bread stuffing that would go inside the chicken. Shuddering to himself, Super Duck crept out of his cage and hurried to the next cage. Slipping under the sheet that covered it, he came face to face with Terrance Turkey. T.T. was huddled in a corner trembling, but when he saw Super Duck he let out a little squawk.

“SHHH!” whispered Super Duck. “We must be quick.” In a flash, Super Duck had the lock on T.T.’s cage open. T.T. was used to Super Duck’s skills, so he silently followed him out of the cage. The two tiptoed over to the last cage. Inside sat a plump chicken. She was so relieved to see Super Duck come to save her that she totally lost her head.

“Oooohh! Super Duck!,” she squawked at the top of her voice. “Thank heaven you are here! Did you hear what that horrible man said? Oh please don’t let him make me into a Turducken, oh please!”

Of course, all that squawking immediately brought Dr. Barbecue. Super Duck was hard pressed to get the chicken’s cage unlocked before Dr. Barbecue was trying to grab him. Fortunately, T.T. gave a great gobble and began to run toward the door. That caught Dr. Barbecue’s attention, and he looked away just long enough for Super Duck to free the babbling chicken. He pushed her off the table and jumped after her just in time to avoid Dr. Barbecue’s clutching hands.

Unfortunately, T.T. had just discovered that the door was locked.

“Super Duck, what are we going to do?” yelled T.T. “There’s no other door.”

Super Duck quickly looked around. High on the far wall was a small window. It would be a tight squeeze for T.T., but it was their only hope. “The window!” he yelled, and all three birds made a break for it. Dr. Barbecue was right in their way, a giant net in his hands. Super Duck waited until he was just about within reach of the net and then he flew up into Dr. Barbecue’s face, flapping his wings all around the villain’s head. While Dr. Barbecue yelled and swatted, T.T. and the chicken dashed straight through his legs and toward the window. Super Duck snapped up the net in his bill and wrapped it once or twice around Dr. Barbecue’s head. That should give us just enough time, he thought.

Over at the window, the chicken was wailing that she couldn’t fly and she’d never be able to reach. Super Duck landed next to her. “Quiet!” he said. “I have a plan.”

With his super strong bill, super Duck lifted up the very heavy turkey. T.T. stretched out his neck. It made a perfect bridge to the window sill. The chicken slowly climbed up and out. They could hear her yelling for the police outside. Super Duck could see that Dr. Barbecue was getting free from the net. With a mighty heave, he flipped T.T. into the air. T.T. clambered through the window. He nearly got stuck halfway, but he managed to squeeze himself through just as Super Duck came flying up behind him.

The three birds were free, and already the police were arriving in answer to the chicken’s calls. Super Duck showed them the door, and the police got inside just in time to see Dr. Barbecue attempting his escape through the same window the birds had used. They arrested him immediately, and from that day on, Super Duck was one of the most famous super heroes of all.

Dust Rider

Teeny, teeny tiny, so tiny that you can’t see them without a microscope, are the dust riders. Soaring effortlessly through the air, perfectly balanced on a mote of dust, a dust rider can be airborne for up to four hours. Braving puffs of wind, dangerous updrafts, and predatory insects of all kinds, the dust riders hunt for food for their families at home. No dust rider would ever go back without his gathering bag full, even though it means that many a dust rider has never returned at all. They are the strongest and most courageous warriors that exist.

Strongest of the strong and bravest of the brave was the dust rider Kandu. Kandu knew how to direct his dust mote straight into the air up to thirty feet high, he carried a food bag twice the size of any other dust rider (and filled it every day), and Kandu was the only dust rider to ever survive an encounter with the dreaded vacuum.

The day Kandu met the vacuum he was flying alone. Several other dust riders had started out with him, but one by one, they had been carried off in different directions by air currents. Kandu was used to traveling by himself because he would often go where no other dust rider could follow. Being the best is lonely, but Kandu loved the feel of the wind rushing past and the delicate balance of the dust beneath his feet. When a sudden downdraft plunged him to the ground, he reveled in the thrill of perfect control as he expertly brought the dust to a soft landing and crouched to wait for the next breeze.

The breeze never came. Instead, there was a loud noise, so loud that Kandu was completely knocked out for a second. By the time he came back to himself, that loudness was all around him, and the strongest wind he had ever felt was sucking him up, up, up into a dark place. The force of the wind was so great that Kandu knew there was no resisting it. Instead, he wisely relaxed and let himself be moved with the dust around him. It was hard to remain calm when he slammed into a wall and was instantly surrounded by so much dust that he could not breath. Kandu reminded himself that he was the master of dust. Dust would not be the death of him.

Pushing with all his might, he climbed through the dust to the top of the pile. More and more dust was being sucked in by the wind, so that Kandu was forced to keep climbing until he thought his strength would give out. Eventually, though, the wind and the noise stopped. No more dust blew toward Kandu. He clambered to the top of the last dust motes and collapsed, trembling with exhaustion. It was very dark.

Once he had recovered his strength, Kandu began to feel quite hopeful. He was a dust rider in a strange place surrounded by dust. All he needed was a little breeze, and he could ride wherever he chose. Kandu waited for a breath of air. None came. In that dark, suffocating place, no wind ever came except the strongest wind of all, and it was always only blowing inward. Kandu waited until he was sure that waiting would do no good. Then he began to feel fear.

No, thought Kandu, I must not fear. I am a dust rider. My whole life the dust has carried me on its back. If I must now carry the dust on my back, that is what I will do. Selecting the strongest mote of dust, Kandu lifted it onto his shoulders. Then he began to feel around for hand and footholds in the soft wall behind him.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Kandu climbed, carrying his dust mote with him. Many times, he feared that he would run out of strength before he reached the top, but he did not. At the top of the wall, Kandu found a long tunnel. He could see nothing, but he could feel a coolness in the tunnel that told him there was fresh air on the other end. Without hesitation, Kandu stepped into the tunnel. Instantly, he began to slide, down, down, down, completely out of control, but still remembering to cling to his dust mote. He could see light quickly approaching and then WHOOSH! he was out in the daylight again and landing on solid ground with less than his usual grace. Kandu was free.

In moments, he could feel a breeze approaching. Then Kandu was in the air again, riding the dust as if the whole adventure with the vacuum had never happened. Truly, he was the greatest dust rider who ever lived.

My Robot

My robot is shiny
My robot is tall
My robot can write
In green ink on the wall

And my mother can’t yell
She can’t give him time out
‘Cause he’s bigger than her
And cries lakes when you shout

My robot can lift me
On his shoulders so high
And I stretch out my arms
And pretend I can fly

And there’s no fear of falling
There’s no fear of harm
Cause he’s right there to catch me
With strong robot arms

My robot does tricks
He can stand on his head
He can juggle ten kittens
And even make beds

And I know he’s worth millions
In cash I could spend
But I never could sell him
‘Cause he’s my best friend

When the Door Shuts

Did you ever chance to wonder
When you’re sitting there all bored
What goes on inside your fridge
When you’ve gone and closed the door?

It’s a very well kept secret
The food would not like me to break it
But the truth is, when the door shuts
They blast the music and they shake it

Oh yes, the butter starts to boogy
and the carrots do the twist
While the milk begins the two-step
With a cold Sierra Mist

They say the lettuce is the DJ
He plays music fast and loud
While the ketchup does the robot
And the hot dogs surf the crowd

I’ve heard the grapes have funky rhythm
No one moves like a green bean
And the tortillas love to limbo
Lower than you’ve ever seen

So if you hear a thumpa bumpa
And you can’t tell what is what
It’s just your food throwing a party
While the refrigerator’s shut.

Yellow

This is a story about a yellow dog.

You wouldn’t have know he was yellow just to look at him.  His fur wasn’t yellow, or even buff or tan or golden or any of the other colors people sometimes call yellow.  His fur was brown and black.  But inside, he was as yellow as he could be.

People (and dogs) who are yellow on the inside have no courage.  When they are faced with things that scare them, they don’t stand up to them.  They turn and run.  In short, they are cowards.

The thing about being yellow on the inside, instead of on the outside, is that no one knows you are yellow just by looking at you.  They may not know even after spending some time with you.  It’s not until something very difficult comes along and they are counting on you to do your part that your yellow insides make themselves known.

That was the case with Howard the dog.  He was an Australian shepherd, fairly big and healthy, with dark shaggy fur.  Nothing about his looks would have given away his yellowness.  The family that took him home as a puppy thought he looked like a trustworthy and dependable dog.  He was, after all, bred to take care of helpless sheep.  For a long time everything went well.  Howard got bigger and stronger and more noble-looking with each passing week.  He ran and played like any puppy, but he never tried to leave the yard or broke any other rules the family had given him.  The family said that he was a very good and responsible dog.  The did not suspect that the real reason Howard never stepped out of bounds was that he was afraid.  He was afraid that bigger dogs might pick on him if he left the yard.  He was afraid that strange people might be mean.  He was afraid of making the family angry and losing his comfortable pillow and special canned dog food.  Still, as long as no one knew this was why Howard was such a model dog, everything was fine.

Inevitably, though, some of the yellow began to poke through.  One time some thieves tried to break into the house.  They busted open a window and crawled through, setting off a loud alarm.  The alarm scared the thieves away, but everyone wondered why they didn’t hear Howard barking.  Then they found him, cowering under the bed int eh back bedroom.  He was shaking and whimpering.  The family laughed it off and said he was just a little puppy.  Then he grew up.  One day when the youngest boy was out giving Howard a walk, a big dog came running toward them, barking.  Instead of defending his young master, Howard turned and ran for home as fast as his little legs could move, pulling his young master behind him.  The family laughed about the story again, but this time they did not say that he was just a puppy, and the little boy, whose arm was very sore from being pulled so hard, refused to take Howard for any more walks.  Not long after that, the neighbor cat came over the fence and chased Howard under the picnic table.  When the family came home, there was the cat, sitting calmly on the table, giving itself a bath, while Howard trembled in fear and shame underneath.  That was when the family knew what Howard really was.  The didn’t call him yellow to his face, but they didn’t have to.  Everyone knew it, Harold most of all.

And so the years went by, and Harold continued to be as yellow and cowardly as could be.  He spent his days sleeping on the couch and starting up in surprise every time the doorbell rang.  The neighbor cat visited more and more often, and it got so that Howard hardly dared go out in his own backyard.  The family laughed at Harold and shook their heads, but they put up with him because they felt sorry for him.  Harold was thoroughly ashamed of himself.  As time went on, he felt more and more ashamed.  He wished he could be a braver dog, but everything was just too scary.

Then one day the family took Harold on a picnic to the park.  He spent the day hiding under the picnic table because there were so many other dogs around.  It wasn’t too bad, actually, laying on the soft grass and being fed scraps of lunch.  After a while the little girl’s teddy bear tumbled down next to him, so he even had a sort of company.  But he could also hear the family making fun of him, and he knew that he was ridiculous.

That night, there was a shriek from the kids’ bedroom.  Harold shot under the bed.  From his hiding place, he could hear the little girl crying that she couldn’t find her teddy bear.  The whole family got in on the search, but of course, no one could find it.  The little girl sobbed.  Harold’s heart sunk.  He knew exactly where the teddy bear was.  He knew the little girl would never find it.  That night he lay on the end of the bed, while the little girl tossed and turned and sniffled in her sleep.  She was used to cuddling her teddy in the night, and she couldn’t sleep well without him.  Harold felt terrible.  All that long, long night he lay and thought miserably about how cowardly he was.  If he were a braver dog, he could go right back to that park and get that teddy bear.  Then he would be a hero.  But Harold knew he could never do anything like that.  It was so dark outside and there were so many dogs and cats and other scary things in the night.  No, he could never ever do it.  Still, the thought wouldn’t go away.  It kept buzzing around his brain like a little mosquito that wouldn’t leave him alone.

The next morning, the little girl was still terribly sad.  She cried and cried and wouldn’t eat her breakfast and made her mother search the whole house again.  She sat at the table and drew pictures of teddy and asked her father to put them up around the neighborhood.  When Harold saw the little picture of the girl hugging her teddy, he knew he just had to do something.  He was horribly, horribly afraid, but he just couldn’t live with himself any more if he didn’t help the little girl.  So that afternoon, when Harold was put out in the yard, he broke his first ever rule.  He dug under the fence and left the yard.  He was trembling violently as soon as he got on the other side, but he thought of the little girl and he forced himself to start off down the street toward the park.

At the corner, he ran into a strange dog who barked at him.  Without thinking, Harold turned around and was halfway home before he could stop himself.  He stood panting for a long, long time on the sidewalk, trying to talk himself into going back toward that dog.  He thought of the little girl tossing and turning all night long, but then he thought of the dog’s big teeth.  It was like he was frozen.  Then he saw the neighbor cat come out of her house.  She came to sit at the end of her driveway and laughed at him.  He knew he had to go on.

This time when Harold got to the corner, he braced himself against the barking and kept on going.  The dog came right to him and started sniffing.  Harold was terrified, but he made himself stay where he was.  Finally, the dog wandered away.  Harold was okay!  Feeling much better about himself, Harold kept 0n toward the park.  It was a long trip, but finally he made it.  Sure enough, there under the picnic table was the teddy bear.  Grabbing it triumphantly in his mouth, Harold turned toward home.

And saw a giant dog approaching.  It was growling, and there was no mistaking it’s intent.  It wanted that teddy bear.  Harold slunk back under the table.  The strange dog paced around the table, growling.  Harold knew that he was going to have to get past it in order to get home.  He didn’t see any way to make it home alive.  Maybe if he just gave the teddy bear to the dog, it would let him go free.  Immediately, he was ashamed of the cowardly thought.  He had come so far.  He couldn’t go back empty-handed now.  That was when he felt a little growl in his own throat.  He was so surprised that he almost dropped the teddy bear.  Instead he tried it again, louder this time.  The other dog backed up a step.  Encouraged, Harold growled louder and stepped out from under the picnic table.  Suddenly he realized that he was just as big as that other dog.  He growled even louder.  The other dog backed away.  Victorious, Harold trotted toward home.  He passed lots of dogs on the way, but he didn’t even look at them.

It was almost night when Harold slipped back under the fence and scratched at the back door.  The family was so happy to see him.  And when the little girl saw what he was holding in his mouth, she burst into tears and hugged him so hard that he thought he would burst.  Harold had never felt so proud in all his life.  He wasn’t a yellow dog any more.

And he never would be again.

Sarah Jane and the Case of the Disappearing Sock

Sarah Jane was wearing her glitter jeans with her white princess t-shirt, and she knew she looked good.  With  a pair of white socks and her new tennis shoes, the outfit would be perfect.

“Get those shoes, Sarah Jane!” called her mother from the kitchen.  “We leave in five minutes.”

Sarah Jane opened her sock drawer and searched around for white socks.  There was one right on top, but she couldn’t find the other one anywhere.  She dug through every pair of socks.  She opened all the other drawers and hunted through those, too.  She went back to the sock drawer for another thorough search.

“Mom!  Have you seen my other white sock?” she yelled.

“They should be in the sock drawer, sweetie.”

“One of them is, but the other one is missing!”

“Well, I only put them into the sock drawer in pairs, honey, so I don’t know what happened,” said her mother, coming to stand in her bedroom doorway.    Ellen, Sarah Jane’s baby sister peeked her head around her mom’s legs.

“Sawah Jane, come wook!” said Ellen excitedly.

“Not now, Ellen.  I have to get ready for school,” said Sarah Jane, tearing apart the sock drawer again. The other white sock was no where to be found.

“You’d better get a different pair of socks, Sarah Jane,” said her mother.

“I can’t!  They’re all different colors.  Only white socks go with this outfit!”

“I think pink will be just fine,” said her mother.

Sarah Jane shuddered.  Pink would never do.  “I’ll just have to change my clothes.”

“There’s really no time, Sarah Jane.”

“I’ll be super fast,” promised Sarah Jane.  And she was.  She had just gotten a whole new outfit on and was putting on her pink socks and shoes when Ellen came back.

“Sawah Jane!  Come see what I made!”

“I can’t, Ellen.  I’m going to be late for school!”

“Pwease, Sawah Jane!”  Ellen followed her to the door while Sarah Jane put on her coat.  Her mom was already waiting in the car.

“I’ll look later, Ellen.  Bye!”

That night, Sarah Jane laid out her outfit for the next day.  When she opened her sock drawer, there were both white socks sitting right there on top!

“Mom!  Where did you find my white sock?” she called.

Her mom came to the door, carrying the bedtime snacks.  “I didn’t find it,” she said.

“Well, look,” said Sarah Jane, holding up the sock.  “Now it’s here.”

“Hmm,” said her mom.  “Maybe some elves borrowed it and then put it back.”

Sarah Jane rolled her eyes as she followed her mom to the table for snack time.  Her big brother was already eating.

“James, have you been messing around in my sock drawer?”

“Nope,” he said, not even looking up.

“Are you sure?”

Now he looked up and glared.  “What would I want in your sock drawer?  Who wants to touch your smelly socks?”

Sarah Jane thought that was a good point.

The next morning, Sarah Jane happily put on her sparkly jeans and white princess t-shirt again, but when she reached for her socks, she could only find one!  Impossible!  Sarah Jane looked all around.  She opened every drawer.  She was hunting under the bed when Ellen came in.

“Sawah Jane!” said Ellen.  “Come see my puppet show!”

“Not now!” said Sarah Jane form under the bed.  “I have to get to school.”

When she came out, she was all dusty.

“Sarah Jane!” called her mother.  “We’re leaving now or you’ll be late.”

“Mom!” wailed Sarah Jane.  “My sock is missing again!”

“You’ll just have to wear another pair,” answered her mom.

“I can’t!” yelled Sarah Jane.

Her mom appeared in the doorway.  She did not look happy.  “We don’t have time for this again today, Sarah Jane.   Put these on.  Now.”  She held out a pair of purple socks.

Sarah Jane shuddered, but she knew better than to talk back when that look was on her mom’s face.  She put on the socks.  The effect was hideous.

All that day, Sarah Jane slouched at school so that no one would see the ugly purple socks peeking out from between her jeans and her tennis shoes.  When she got home, she ripped them off right away.  She was just flinging them toward the laundry basket when Ellen came in.

“Sawah Jane, Sawah Jane!  Come wook!”  She was pulling on Sarah Jane’s hand.

Sarah Jane sighed and followed her sister.  In Ellen’s room, a blanket was draped over the end of the bed.

“You sit hewe,” said Ellen, pushing Sarah Jane into a chair.  Then Ellen went and crouched behind the blanket.  “Pwesenting….the bestest puppet show on eawth!”  Up came a little hand, holding a doll.  “One day, wittle June was walking in the woods.  Then a vewy scawy monster jumped out!”  Up came a hand covered in a white sock, which grabbed the little doll by the head.

Sarah Jane jumped out of her chair.  “Ellen!”

Ellen’s head popped up.  “Sawah Jane, the puppet show isn’t over!”

“That’s my sock!”  shouted Sarah Jane.  “You are the one who took my sock?!?”

“I needed a monster puppet,” said Ellen.

“I was looking for that everywhere!”

Ellen looked serious.  “Not evewywhewe,” she said.  “You didn’t wook in the puppet show.”

Sarah Jane tried to answer that, but she couldn’t.  After a minute, she gave up and smiled.  “You’re right,” she said.  “Next time I’ll be sure to check there, too.  Now let’s see the end of that puppet show.”

In the Belly of the Gator

Once there was an alligator who would eat anything, and everything he ate made him grow bigger.  He ate birds and fish, lizards and mice, and he grew a bit bigger.  He ate squirrels and raccoons and puppies, and he grew bigger still.  He ate goats and deer and ponies, and he grew quite big indeed.  Before long, he was eating full grown horses and cows and once even a llama that happened by.  By this time he was absolutely enormous.  He was so enormous that when young Sam Sutherford, just ten years old, wandered into the swamp, that giant alligator swallowed him whole.

It is not at all pleasant to be swallowed up by a giant alligator, but it is much better than being chewed up by a giant alligator.  Let me explain.  If a giant alligator takes a bite out of you with his giant teeth, there will be blood and pain, and you will soon die.  But if a giant alligator takes one giant gulp and swallows you whole, then you will be very uncomfortably squeezed going down his giant throat and you will find his giant stomach a very dark, smelly, and oddly rocky place to be, but on the whole it is still much better than being dead.

When young Sam found himself swallowed by the giant alligator, he was of course terrified.  He thought that he would soon be dead.  But after a while, he realized that nothing was happening to him so he perked up a bit and looked around.  There wasn’t too much room in that stomach, but Sam did notice several smallish rocks sitting around.  He thought that was extremely odd, but he chose one as a seat and sat down to figure out what to do next.  At first, he tried to beat on the walls of the stomach with his fists, but that did nothing.  Then he tried throwing the rocks at the walls, hoping to break through.  That didn’t do much, either, though it did make the alligator rumble with anger.  Shortly after that, a few more rocks came hurtling into the stomach, having been swallowed by the alligator.  Sam ducked out of the way just in time.  That was when he remembered that alligators swallow rocks to help digest their food.  The giant alligator must have thought that banging he felt was just an upset stomach.  Sam sat down to think some more.

In the end, he realized there wasn’t much more he could do.  He decided to wait and hope that someday, someone would come alligator hunting and rescue him.  And that is what he did.  He passed the time by stacking the rocks into castles and cities, he slept curled up in a circle of stones, and when he was very hungry, he built a little fire and roasted a bit of whatever animal the alligator had swallowed that day.  The fires always caused the alligator to swallow more rocks, but in no time at all, Sam was very good at dodging out of the way of incoming stones. It wasn’t exactly a comfortable life, but Sam found that he could get by.

Outside of the stomach, things were not going well at all.  The giant alligator had a constant stomach ache, and that made him very, very grouchy.  He was sure that what he needed was more food to grow bigger, and since no animal was stupid enough to wander into his swamp any more, he decided to venture out and visit some nearby farms.  He poached sheep and cows and the occasional horse.  He knocked down rock walls to get to the animals and burst through fences for no reason at all other than his extreme grouchiness.  He began to get a reputation.  Once people knew that there was a humongous (he’d grown too big by now to just be giant) mean alligator on the loose, they were determined to get rid of him at all cost.  Soon some of the local farmers formed a hunting party, and they called in the famous alligator hunter, Joe-Joe Geronimo.

Joe-Joe walked around with two giant machetes tucked into his belt, and he was known to have killed more than fifty alligators.  He got the men together and outlined a plan.  The next day, they all headed into the swamp to track down the humongous alligator.  He wasn’t hard to find.  Humongous alligators can’t exactly hide.  When they found him, though, their troubles began.  Several of the men shot at him with their guns, but the alligator was so big and tough by now that the bullets just skipped off his hide.  That was why Joe-Joe had set up his plan.  While the men with guns distracted the alligator, Joe-Joe and a few helpers circled around and prepared their ropes.  Then in the blink of an eye, they leapt out from behind the trees and tied the alligator up.  It took all those men pulling on the ropes to hold that humongous alligator still for even a moment.  But a moment was all that Joe-Joe needed.  He jumped onto the alligator’s humongous head, whipped out his machetes, and plunged them right into the alligators neck.  The alligator was instantly dead, and all the men cheered.

Then they heard a funny noise coming from inside the alligator.  They raised their guns again.  Cautiously, Joe-Joe approached the alligator and cut open it’s belly.  Out climbed a boy, all in rags and sticking terribly like the inside of an alligator.  The men could not believe their eyes.  It was young Sam Sutherford, and he was still alive.  No one who saw it could believe it, so you can imagine how everyone felt who didn’t see it. There was quite a bit of doubting going on back in the city when the men went home.

To this day, no one is quite sure if that story is a legend or the truth, but I can tell you two things.  Joe-Joe Geronimo has a humongous stuffed alligator at his hunting lodge, the biggest trophy he’s ever captured.  And young Sam Sutherford grew up to be an archeologist, camping for weeks on end in the arctic tundra or the deepest desert.  They say he can survive anywhere for as long as he needs to.

Sterling Silver Saves the Queen

Secret Agent Sterling Silver pressed his ear against the floor to better hear the conversation beneath him.

“No one will ever find it,” said the woman’s voice.

“It won’t matter of they do,” said the man.  “They couldn’t stop it anyway.  Did you put it where we discussed?”

“Yes, it’s room 412.  But instead of putting it….I put it under the…”

Sterling strained to hear, but still some words were lost.

“That will do.  It is set for four o’clock?”

“Yes.”

“She should be…in plenty of time.”

Sterling Silver had heard enough.  It was clear there was a bomb, and it was already set.  Quietly he stood up and slipped out the door.  It was important that the conspirators did not know they had been discovered.  They might set it off early, and who knows how many people would be killed.  Four o’clock.  That was the time that the queen would be giving her speech in the lobby of the prestigious St. Anne’s Hotel.  That could only mean that Room 412 was in that same hotel.  He had just enough time to get there.

Fortunately, his top secret super speed spy car was waiting for him by the back door.  He sped along, taking the corners at high speed, using one hand to call up the the floor plan of the St. Anne.  Just as he suspected, Room 412 was directly over the lobby.  Skidding to a stop in a side alley, Sterling swung up onto the window ledge of the second floor.  He knew there would be dozens of guards around the hotel to watch over the queen, and he didn’t have time to explain to them why he needed to get to the fourth floor.  Pulling a tool from his back pocket, he pried open the window and slipped inside.  In moments he was opening the door to room 412.

Now he only had to find the bomb.  He checked his spy watch.  Ten minutes until four o’clock.  There was no time to waste.  What was it that the woman had said.  It was under something.  What could it be under?  Quickly he checked the bed, the chairs, the end tables.  Nothing.  Now it was only five minutes until four.  Sterling stood perfectly still and used all his spy senses.  Time passed, but he forced himself to be still and listen.  Was that a noise he heard?  The slightest little ticking coming from behind the curtains…under the window!  In a flash Sterling was throwing back the drapes and dropping to his knees in front of the small bomb.

A clock counted down the time until the explosion.  There was only one minute left.  Sterling pried the cover off and studied the cords underneath.  There was a red one, a black one, a green one, and a yellow one.  Every spy knows that you have to cut the correct wire if you are going to stop a bomb from exploding.  Cut the wrong one and the whole thing blows up.  But Sterling Silver did not get to be the number one secret agent in the country by cutting the wrong wire.  Without hesitation, he cut the red wire.  The countdown on the bomb stopped.

Then behind him he heard a quiet click.  Slowly he turned.

A man was standing between him and the door, holding a gun in his hand.  It was pointed at Sterling.  “Now you will turn around,” said the man.  “And you will replace that red wire with the one I am holding out to you.”

Sterling watched the man take a new red wire out of his pocket.

“Move slowly and make no sudden moves, or I will shoot you.  Do not stop, or I will shoot you.  Have the bomb working again in three minutes, or I will shoot you.  Take the cord now.”

“I don’t think so.”  Quick as lightening, Sterling grabbed the cord and yanked, causing the man to stumble forward.  There was a bang! as the gun went off, but the bullet went through the window.  Sliding forward, Sterling knocked the man’s legs from under him, then whipped around and snatched the gun from his hand.  In less than thirty seconds, the man was tied up and laying on the bed.

Downstairs the queen was beginning her speech.  No one had any idea of the catastrophe that Sterling had just averted, and they never would.  It was important that it be kept a secret how close the queen had been to danger.  He smiled to himself as he cleaned up the mess and prepared to take the gunman down to the police station.  Secret was just the way Sterling Silver liked it.

Time Out Tuesday – Bringing the SASS

That’s right, I decided to officially name this experiment SASS. Super Awesome Story September. Because that’s my idea of a catchy acronym. Of course, my idea of a cute thumbnail picture of myself was me wearing this princess hat at a little tea party we had with the girl cousins during our big visit last month. I thought it would be so cute and fairy tale and mommy-ish. Instead, every time I look at it now it just says sad medieval fair. And I can’t replace it until I get a better picture, and that is unlikely to ever happen. My point? A week from now I will probably be looking back at this acronym with shame. And yet it stands. I’ve already come to grips with the humiliation that comes along with attempting to create. Sort of.

So here’s what SASS is all about:

1. Every day in September I’m going to post a new story or poem.
2. I’ll be trying to keep all the stories under a thousand words so you don’t get too bored while reading them day after day.
3. I have a preset list of prompts that tells me what I have to write each day. I did make the list myself (though many of the ideas came from my kids), but I haven’t prewritten any of the stories.

Here is the list of prompts:
1. The slowest elephant on earth
2. Talking flowers
3. A spy and a bomb
4. A giant alligator
5. The tree that holds up the world
6. The case of the disappearing socks
7. The yellow dog
8. What’s happening inside the fridge
9. My best friend the robot
10. Dust riders
11. Super hero duck
12. The mysterious dancing pants
13. The camel who wished he was a dog
14. Madam Mango’s Moonbeam Machine
15. A dolphin and some lava
16. A duck wins a trophy
17. A train and a pony racing
18. A farmer and his goats
19. The birthday wishes
20. On safari
21. The princess who hated her bath
22. Polite Pirates
23. Hamster heaven
24. The teeny tiny monster
25. A superhero’s cape
26. To the moon
27. The mermaid’s hair
28. Grumpy Gracie
29. Snow angels
30. Seeing the future

So that’s the plan. I’ll see you back here tomorrow with that first story. I’m off to spend the next 24 hours thinking about elephants.