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Authors: Nate Ball

Blast Off!

BOOK: Blast Off!
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01

Dream Invasion

T
here are times I think I might have that disease that makes people fall asleep right in the middle of doing something.

It's a real disease. I saw it on a TV show once. This guy who had the disease fell asleep while eating a bowl of cream of potato soup.
Splash!
Face first.

Once I fell asleep just
thinking
about spelling.

Anyway, the thought crossed my mind one night when I woke up with my face planted in a book. I had fallen asleep while studying for my first science quiz of the new school year.

You'd think static electricity would be the kind of subject that would interest a kid like me, but it wasn't. Not a spark of interest. Just sudden onset snoozing.

I jerked awake at my small, wobbly desk. My neck was stiff. My arm was numb. My mouth felt like a bird had died in it.

Our house was eerily quiet. My little brother's room on the other side of the wall was silent. My parents had forgotten to say good night again. Both were trying to meet deadlines for “breakthrough experiments” and “research grants.”

I switched off my little desk light. “That's enough studying for one night,” I whispered in a croaky voice.

I lurched over to my window and pushed it open. From my second-story window, I had a good view of our dark and silent backyard. I sighed and leaned forward, my forehead against the screen. I guess I started to fall back asleep, because the next thing I knew the screen popped out of its frame and fell to the dim backyard below—and I nearly followed it down.

“Yipes,” I whispered at the thought of spending fourth grade in a body cast.

My window screen had landed somewhere in the darkness, behind the bushes. At least I can lean out my window now, I thought.

I looked over at the house next to ours to see if Olivia's light was on. It wasn't.

Olivia has lived across the hedge from me pretty much forever. Our homes are so close that if the wind is blowing right she can fire a marshmallow with her marshmallow bazooka from her room and hit me in the face.

I was about to slide the window shut and collapse on my bed when I noticed a shooting star. A little good luck was just what I needed. I shut my eyes and quickly made a wish—actually three wishes at once: to finally make the travel baseball team, to get better grades, and to avoid detention all year. Why not make the most of the opportunity?

When I opened my eyes the falling star was still falling.

That's weird, I thought.

Falling stars usually last only half a second or so. But this one was streaking slowly from left to right across the night sky, heading toward the moon.

As I watched its flight, it looked like the falling star was falling slower—and getting bigger. I rubbed my eyes and leaned out my window as far as I could without falling out. The star
was
falling slower! And getting bigger!

I wondered for a second if this was one of Olivia's tricks. I looked over at her window again, but her entire house was dark and still.

I looked back into the night sky as the thing U-turned in my direction. It floated and weaved, a spray of orange and yellow sparks behind it.

This was
so
not a falling star.

And with a squeak of horror, I realized it was going to crash into my house.

In fact, it was going to crash into my bedroom!

I reached to slam my window shut, but before I could, the ball of fire lit up my backyard with sparks and flares and filled the neighborhood with a loud hissing sound.

I ducked—and just in time. The burning ball careened through the window.

It streaked over my head and thumped hard against the wall behind me.

The hissing sound stopped and was replaced by a grinding noise and then a quiet beeping sound.

My room was filled with smoke.

The lamp next to my bed had been knocked over.

There was a big, black burn mark above my bed and a basketball-size dent in the wall.

And resting on my comforter was a shiny, metal, football-shaped thing with little wings sticking out near one of the points. Steam sizzled out through tiny holes on either side and it continued to make a worrisome grinding noise. Like this:
GRUNK! GRUNK! GRUNK! GRUNK! GRUNK!

I stared at it, wide-eyed, waiting for the thing to explode. I was too shocked to move.

02

You Are My Prisoner!

A
s the seconds passed, I realized the steaming, football-shaped thingy that had just landed on my bed was not going to blow up.

But what was it? A satellite? Part of a plane? A piece of the International Space Station?

I was about to bolt out of my bedroom door and scream my head off for my parents, for my little brother, for our dog, for our cat—but something stopped me.

Instead, I crawled over to my bed to get a closer look and came face-to-face with the shiny, football-shaped silver ball about the size of a barbecued chicken. Its gleaming skin seemed alive somehow. I could have reached out and touched it, but I didn't dare. It looked hot, and it was still making noises too weird to describe.

A loud click sounded, a tiny door sighed open, and a tiny set of stairs slowly folded down. Each step had a glowing strip of orange light, like in a dark movie theater.

And then a blue figure no bigger than my hand ducked his head out the door and stepped out onto the top of the stairs!

He coughed into his fist while waving the smoke away with his other hand.

I didn't know if I should laugh or scream. I felt stuck between amused and terrified—until I realized I hadn't thought to breathe in who knew how long.

I must have gasped or coughed. Or gasp-coughed. Because that's when it saw me. The little guy sank into a crouch and pulled a tiny remote control from the belt around his waist.

“Do not move, Earth person,” he said in a squeaky, high-pitched voice.

He aimed his remote control at me. “I am Amp, lead scout from the plant Erde. According to the laws of Interplanetary Domination, you are now my prisoner!”

I think my reaction to this tiny guy's warning had the opposite effect he was hoping for: I started cracking up. It was just hilarious. He wanted to sound tough and dangerous, but instead he sounded like a furious squirrel.

He didn't like my reaction. He aimed his remote control and fired at the tip of my nose. It felt like being zapped by static electricity—surprising, unpleasant, but not really painful. He growled in frustration, looked at his static gun, and then zapped me again.

“That hurts, you know,” I told him, taking his zap gun away with two fingers.

“This is all wrong!” he squeaked in his funny voice. “Why are you so big?”

“Uh, I don't know,” I said, rubbing my nose. “Why are you so small?”

My response seemed to make him even more frustrated. He snatched the helmet off his head and flung it at me with a grunt. Smaller than half an eggshell, it bounced off my chest and fell silently to the carpet.

I noticed each of his hands had only a thumb and two chubby fingers.

Not thinking, I picked him up by the collar. He kicked and waved his arms crazily. He was really soft and warm, the way I imagine a hamster would feel if you shaved it and painted it blue.

“What are you?” I asked. “Where did you come from, little guy?”

“I am not a little guy, and I am not from around here,” he announced in his funny high-pitched voice. “And I am very dangerous.”

And before I could stop him, he bit my finger.

I dropped him onto my bed, and he bounced away. I lunged for him, but he jumped off my bed before my hand could close around him.

I couldn't let him get away!

But by the time I made it around my bed, he had climbed up my chair and jumped onto my desk, and he was heading toward my open window.

With one last desperate leap, I dove for him just as he leaped up and out my window—and into the darkness below.

BOOK: Blast Off!
9.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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