Chapter 1 1.
THE ALIEN, I SHOULD SAY, doesn’t look like an alien.
Like a movie alien, I mean.
The kind you see in old TV shows and on the covers of certain science fiction books.
If you walked past this alien on the street, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye. I bet you could even have a quick conversation with him—about the weather, maybe, about the big, somewhat strange-looking cloud you’ve seen floating around in the sky lately—and you wouldn’t think twice of it.
Sure, his eyes are a bit big.
His nose is a tad narrow.
His skin has an odd green-blue tinge to it.
And his voice carries a slight squeak.
But otherwise, he looks and sounds and moves just like a normal kid.
And farts like one too.
A fact that I managed to entirely forget, even though only moments ago he let a particularly foul one loose with a long, loud FFFffpffweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-PARP!
I guess learning that your planet is a week or two away from being utterly destroyed can do some damage to your short-term memory.
But that bold step I just took toward the alien landed me right in the fetid heart of his otherworldly fart cloud.
I leap back, gagging, before the gas can utterly destroy my lungs.
“Sorry,” the alien says. “Those Food-Plus veggie burgers are really not sitting well.”
“So that was you.”
It’s Mikaela. And though I’ve got my eyes squeezed shut, worried as I am that the intergalactic nastiness that recently leaked out of the alien’s backside might melt my corneas, I can tell that Mikaela’s brain is spinning fast as it finally, at long last, puts together the pieces of this puzzle that we’ve all been driving ourselves crazy over for the past few days.
“You took all that food from the Food-Plus,” she says. “And—”
“Yes,” the alien interrupts.
And I crack open my eyes just in time to see him say:
“I caused the blackout. And I made that satellite fall out of the sky, too.”
He’s talking about the out-of-the-blue blackout that left our town without power for two whole hours, and the satellite—you know, those big contraptions that spin around in outer space—that came plummeting out of the sky and crashing in, again, our town. A pair of crazy, inexplicable events that I’d been so sure were caused by Edsley’s rogue robot.
“But those were both accidents,” the alien continues. “The other stuff wasn’t.”
John Henry Knox steps forward, now that the creature’s fart has cleared.
“What other stuff?” he asks.
“The precipitation,” the alien says. “All that snow. And the rain behind that other food store the other day.”
He means the “freak blizzard” that caused our town to cancel school yesterday—in the middle of May—and the sudden, super-intense downpour that drenched me, Dan, Jerry, John Henry Knox, and the last of the butt-blasting bots in back of the Shop & Save.
“You…,” I say, remembering that day, recalling the fear I felt thinking that my life as I knew it was about to come to a screeching halt as those bottomlessly hungry, dangerously flatulent robots overtook us and then took over our town, our country, and maybe even the whole entire world. “You saved us,” I finally finish.
The alien nods.
“And I came down here to try to help do it again.”