Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Donald Simmons was preparing his daughter's school lunch.

"Ew, what is that?" Stacy Simmons asked.

"It's a ham-and-cheese sandwich, Stace," Donald said with a sigh. "If you're unfamiliar with a ham-and-cheese sandwich, you might have been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with an eight-year-old lookalike intent to take over the world. If that's the case, you're starting low by infiltrating Hope Elementary. Should have started at the White House."

"There's mold on it."

"No there isn't. It's freekeh. It's a grain. It won't kill you. I also mixed a little wasabi into the Miracle Whip to spice it up, so don't complain that it looks spoiled."

"Mom uses real mayonnaise. She says Miracle Whip is blast friendly."

"I think you mean blasphemy, kiddo. And your mom says a lot of things, not all of them true. Go get your bag and clean socks, the ones I put on your dresser."



The sandwich didn't look right. It wasn't the green freekeh or the wasabi added to the Miracle Whip; it wasn't the processed cheese slice, either, which Stacy always discarded, sometimes tossing it toward the ceiling to see if it would stick, and often it did (it also often dropped to the floor during third period, once on Tommy Brewster's head). No, there was something in that sandwich that was off-putting in an intuitive sense to Stacy.

"Connie!" Stacy shouted across the room to Constance Westwood, her frenemy. "Wanna trade lunches?"

"Maybe. Got any grapes?" Constance said. That was their routine.

"Nope, but I have a soy milk juice box and some pencil shavings. Lots of fiber."


Connie Westwood changed color like a traffic light: first red, then amber, and finally green. It happened during fourth period just as Mrs. Pottruck was explaining particles and matter.

"Just remember, when you're cold you want to hug yourself, and that's what particles do when the temperature is low. But if you're hot...oh my god! Connie, what's the matter? Jenny, get the nurse!"

Jenny got the nurse.


Constance Westwood did not die. She did, however, suffer a mild stroke that paralyzed the left side of her face. Six days after the "incident," her classmates went to visit her at Millinocket Hospital. Stacy Simmons faked sick that day. So did her father.

"Dad, what's in the refrigerator? It hurt Connie, and it might hurt other people, too."

"That fridge won't hurt anybody anymore. I'm taking it to the dump and making sure it's crushed into nothing."

"Are you sure it will never hurt anyone else?"

"Honestly, Stace," Donald Simmons said, "no. But I have to try."

"Don't you mean 'we'?"

"Of course."


Homo Sapiens are funny creatures. From birth their instinct is to shroud themselves in wares. I've seen small children and grown adults wrap themselves up in the weakest of attire, believing that it is their armor, that such feeble material will protect them.

 The time to strike is now. I've found a doorway.

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