And, Chapter 2: School

And was hungry. She had forgotten to pack a lunch. All she could think about was But. In Trigonometry class, she couldn’t stand to think about math. The same went for Chemistry and English. She felt like everyone was always watching her. She knew that wasn’t true, but she couldn’t shake the feeling.

In the cafeteria, she spotted Comma. He was sitting with his buddies, eating a leftover ham sandwich. She walked over to him and said, “Let me have a couple bites–I forgot my lunch.” Comma dug his wallet out of his pocket. “Here’s five dollars,” he said, and handed her a five dollar bill. “You owe me eighteen dollars, now.” “Thanks!” she said. “I’ll pay you back tonight.”

And bought some greasy cheese pizza and some corn, a chocolate milk and an apple juice. It wasn’t gourmet, but it tasted pretty good. She didn’t usually sit with Comma, but today was an exception. Borrowing money always seemed to bond her to a person. She ate quietly and didn’t say a word until the bell rang. She was just drinking her last sip of apple juice. She hurried over to the trash can and dumped her lunch tray, then put the tray and the silverware on it onto the conveyor belt to the dishwasher.

And’s last two class periods of the day were both chorus. In the first period they warmed up their voices, did sight reading and went over difficult parts that they had trouble with. During the second period they practiced a broadway medley, and then split into groups to come up with choreography. Sometimes they went on field trips to retirement homes, during Christmastime they gave outdoor concerts, and at Valentine’s Day they did singing telegrams around school as a fundraiser.

After school, And and Comma met each other at the bus. Luckily, they got on before Cheese and his buddies, so they got their seats without any trouble. And sat next to the window. She opened it and felt the cool breeze. She enjoyed the warm sun on her face and dozed a little on the trip home. They got off a couple blocks from their house, which was as close as the bus stopped. And raised her hands in a hallelujah gesture and yelled, “Yea! But comes back tomorrow!” Comma smirked. He was sorta glad, too. His sister was always more agreeable when she was in love.

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And, Chapter 1: And and Comma

And was sad. But had been gone for three weeks. She got up from her bed and went down the hall, to her brother, Comma’s room. Comma was blow drying his hair into a feathery mess in the bathroom across the hall. He didn’t notice And pass by. And mistook Comma for her sister If, who usually hogs the bathroom. When And saw that Comma was not in his bedroom, she walked back to the bathroom. And said to Comma, “I miss But.”

Comma turned off the blow dryer and said, “What?” “I miss But,” And repeated. “He’s been gone for three weeks,” said And. “I understand, And. But he will be back tomorrow,” said Comma. “What if he doesn’t come to school tomorrow?” said And. Comma grimaced. “Oh, C’mon, And! You’re just making up things to worry about, now,” said Comma. And smiled. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. There’s no reason for But to not come to school.” And breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks, little bro. You’re always good at thinking rational,” said And.

And and Comma got on the bus that morning at their bus stop. As Comma made his way down the aisle of the bus, a pimply boy with big ears stuck his foot out to trip Comma. Comma was ready for it though, as the boy, whose name is Cheese, did the same thing every morning. Watch it, Cheese!” said Comma. Two boys, one short and round, the other tall and skinny, stood up, bending over, under the low roof. “What are you going to do about it, Comma?” the short one said. “I’m not in the mood for your crap today, Rock. Same to you, Block,” said Comma.

“Comma, please take a seat,” said the bus driver, whose name was Bounce. “Block and Rock, you two sit down.” By then Cheese had pulled his leg back in, not wanting to be reported by Bounce. “Hurry up!” said And to Comma. And was used to the shenanigans of these delinquents, and didn’t waste her breath on them. “I want to get this day over with!”

Adventures of a Blob

There was once a little blob. Then it grew legs and went around the block. It passed an alley where he saw another blob getting mugged by two other blobs. He thought about crying out, “Police!” But he was scared they might have guns, so he continued on his merry way around the block. He smelled cinnamon rolls cooking in a bakery, and then he stopped to buy one from the blob in the store. His day was going pretty well until he got to an open manhole in the street, which he fell into when he didn’t see it. It was pretty nasty down in the sewer, but he was a blob, and they don’t worry about such things.

The Cube: Ch. 7, Taking a Ride

Rolph pressed a button on the counter and a cup with a liquid in it rose up on a platform even to the counter. “Care for a drink?” Rolph asked me, with a smile. “What is it?” I said. “Coffee,” he said. “Okay, I’ll try it,” I said, smiling. The drink tasted like normal coffee. “Hmm,” I said. “Pretty good.”

Johnny seemed bored. “Well, I’m goin’ fishin’. Anyone want to come?” “I’ve gotta get back to my chores,” said Wayne, with a shrug. “Have a nice day, Wayne and Johnny,” I said. Both of them walked out the side door. “Whatcha say, we take this thing for a spin?” I said, smiling.

“Billah doesn’t prefer to be referred to as a thing,” Rolph said. “Billah, take us for a ride around the forest.” The walls took on a warm pink tone, and then we lifted up into the air. “I can’t figure out what makes her go,” I said. Rolph smiled, then said, “it’s air displacement, like a jet engine.” “No noise, though,” I said. “Correct,” Rolph said. “It’s a little more advanced. No propellers. Just a vacuum.” “But a vacuum makes noise,” I said. “Yes. It uses the physics of a black hole,” said Rolph. “We haven’t totally figured them out yet,” I said. “Indeed,” said Rolph.

An Afternoon at the Beach

I wandered out of a cave next to the ocean. I bent down and picked up a sea shell, looked at it for a few seconds, then skipped it across the water. I looked down the beach, and saw a boy on a skim board, riding the waves in to the beach. He looked like he was having a great time.

I looked out at the ocean and saw a cruise ship sailing by. Then I saw a killer whale break the surface of the water and crash back down into the waves. Down the beach, there was a pier extending out into the water. A man on the pier who was fishing saw the whale and shouted to the boy to get into the beach.

The man fishing gave me an idea. I decided I’d get out my fishing pole and see if I could catch me some dinner. I attached a hook to my line and got out a bucket with some shrimp that I had caught earlier with a net. I put one of the shrimp on the hook and tossed the line out into the water.

The Cube: Ch. 6, Billah

I lifted my hand up and stroked the wall. The wall rippled and a warm glow emanated on the walls. “That’s more like it,” Rolph said. “Billah is happy you have chosen to get along.” “I haven’t. I just wanted to see what she would do,” I said.

The Cube rocked back and forth. I looked outside and saw that the man on the tractor was pushing against the cube with the tractor. “I guess I need to let him know we’re okay,” I said. “I’ll tell him,” said Johnny. Johnny ran up the stairs and popped his head out of the hatch. “Wayne!” he said. “We’re okay! Don’t hurt the cube.” “Okay,” said Wayne, the man on the tractor. “Glad you are alright.”

“Would you like to come inside?” Johnny asked. At that, a door appeared on the side of the cube. “Sure I would,” said Wayne. “I’d like to know what makes this thing tick!” The door opened and Wayne walked right in. “Wow!” he said. “This thing is weird!” “It’s a living thing, Mr. Wayne,” I said.

The Cube: Ch. 5, Rolph

“I am a cyborg, as well,” the man in the lab coat said. “I identify with the name, Rolph.” “Okay, Rolph, why don’t you and your cube head back to wherever you came from and leave us alone?” “I’m not sure the boy shares your sentiment,” Rolph said. “He seems to enjoy us.” “He’s too young to understand,” I said. “I don’t comprehend your animosity,” Rolph said. “We mean you no harm. We’re simply studying plants, animals and humans on this planet.”

“So you’re from another planet?” I said. “Yes, but in a different, what you would call, galaxy. Too distant to explain. We traveled here to study life and organisms that exist separate from machines. That’s why we landed in this meadow. This forest is full of life. Johnny understood us immediately. I think it is because he is so young. He does not have such a judging mind.”

“What about your head-sucking cube? What was it trying to do to Johnny?” I said. “It was just feeling him. The cube would have put him back,” Rolph said. “Does the cube have a name like you do?” I asked. “Yes, actually. Her name is Billah. She speaks through the computer, but prefers to communicate with light and touch.”

The Cube: Ch. 4, Inside

I scurried over to the door and ran down the steps before it closed. Once I reached the floor, I looked up and around me. The interior walls were a translucent white, with buttons like number pads and other areas sensitive to the touch. The buttons were not keys, but rather just slight indentations on the wall.

In a chair beside the staircase sat the little boy. He looked fine. No harm had come to him in the strange evaporating he had done when the man in the lab coat shined the light on him. I could see through the outer wall to the meadow outside. The man on the tractor still sat on it and seemed not to be bothered at what had taken place before him.

There was a lab table along the wall. I put my hand on it and a light flashed inside it and it glowed at my touch. The man in the lab coat appeared and held a chair in his hands. “Would you care to have a seat?” he asked, in a friendly tone. “No, thanks,” I said. “Who are you and why are you here?” I asked. “I should ask the same of you, considering you’re in my cube,” he said with a smile.

“What do you intend to do with the boy?” I asked. “Why, nothing at all. I was simply saving him from you.” “What do you mean?” I said. “That’s what I was trying to do,” I said. “He could have been injured if the wall had broken,” he said. “He was not in any danger until you started attacking the cube.” “What is this thing? Is it alive?” I said. “It is a cyborg, half animal, half machine. The living tissue is able to change itself into any form necessary.”

The Cube: Ch. 3, The Cube

As the boy hugged the cube, his head started to sink into the cube, at first just making a dent in the wall, then starting to pass through the wall. The boy didn’t seem alarmed, but I was sure he could suffocate if his head sunk into the cube much farther. I ran over to his wagon and picked up the toaster, then threw it at the front of the cube. The wall of the cube flexed back and forth, and the toaster bounced off and fell to the ground.

By now, the boy’s head was about halfway absorbed into the side of the cube. I was determined to help him. I took ahold of the handle to the wagon, and swinging the wagon towards the cube, I hoped to damage the cube. I don’t know if it was my adrenaline or the urgency with which I did it, but after the wagon hit and the wall flexed back and forth, the glass wall cracked.

A door opened at the top of the cube, and, walking up a stairway, a man emerged. He was bald, wore eyeglasses, and a white lab coat. He opened his mouth and a light shown out. He focused on the boy, shining the light on him. As soon as the light covered him, the boy disappeared. “Hey! What did you do to him?” I yelled. The man walked back down the stairs into the cube. Before the door closed, I hoisted myself up onto the cube with my hands, swinging my feet up onto the top.

The Cube: Ch. 2, The Hug

Just then I heard a child singing a children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me”, I think it was. I looked in the direction of the sound and saw a young boy, probably around five or six years old, walking out of the woods, pulling a red wagon with a toaster sitting in it. The boy had stringy blonde hair and his face was red from the sun.

” Well, Johnny, what are you up to?” the man on the tractor asked. “I’m here to fix the white box,” the boy replied. At that, I decided to speak up. “But all you have is a wagon and a toaster!” I exclaimed. “I don’t plan to use these,” he said. “I only need my hands,” he said, holding them up as if we didn’t know what hands were. I decided to play along. “What are you going to do?” I asked. “Give it a hug,” he said, with a toothy grin.

“That sounds good,” I said. “Just be careful.” The little boy wrinkled his brow at my apparently ridiculous show of caution and hurried over to the “white box” and stood at the corner to my right. He then leaned in and put his arms up against the walls of the cube. He rested his red cheek on the wall and the wall rippled slightly from his cheek towards the center of the front facing us. This seemed to please the little boy, because he leaned back to watch it with a big smile, then returned to “hugging” the box.