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The Boy With Orange Hair

by Bill Bowler

Table of Contents
Chapter 6, Chapter 7
Chapter 8, Chapter 9
appeared in issue 243.
Chapter 10

The adventures of a boy with orange hair, a friendly groundhog, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as they chase arch-villains Crabby Crayfish and Q.Q. Quigley III from Mt. Everest, to outer space, to Idaho, to Miami Police Headquarters, to the Bermuda Triangle, to the Forgotten Sea, to the Land of Little, to Molecule World, to Earth-2, through the space-time continuum, to the bottom of the ocean, to Mrs. Groundhog’s house, to the Oval Office, making friends, rescuing people, having fun, in hot pursuit but never quite catching up, until right at the end...

They reached the surface of the Atlantic Ocean and steamed west to Miami.

When the ship reached port, they rushed to Police Headquarters and gave old Officer Ollie a big glass of chocolate milk with youth powder. They said good-bye to a very happy young Officer Ollie, boarded the Saturn 9, and blasted off.

“At last!” said Gerry. “Pluto. We’re finally on our way to Pluto.”

“Pluto it is,” said the boy. He pushed the throttle, turned left at the Moon and headed into outer space, but something caught his eye in the rear view mirror. “What the...?” he said to himself. In the mirror, next to the beautiful, blue-green, cloud-covered globe of Earth, a second Earth had appeared.

“Look!” said the boy.

“You don’t see that every day,” said Gerry.

“It’s an optical illusion,” said General Rickrack.

Just at that moment, the radio crackled and they heard a familiar voice coming over the line, “Calling Saturn 9. [crackle crackle] Calling Saturn 9. Do you read me? [crackle] This is the President. Do you read me?”

The boy picked up the microphone, “This is Saturn 9. Yes, sir. We read you. Copy.”

“Saturn 9, please return directly to the White House. This is an emergency. Do you read me?”

“Yes, sir,” said the boy with orange hair. “Roger that. Over and out.” He looked at Gerry.

They steered the Saturn 9 back towards Earth, the original Earth, to Washington DC, and brought her down for a nice soft landing on the White House launch pad. They were quickly escorted to the Oval Office where the President was waiting.

“Boy! Am I glad to see you guys!” said the President.

“What the heck is going on?” asked Gerry the friendly groundhog.

“Well,” said the President. “This morning when my wife Shirley and I woke up and looked out the window, in the middle of the sky, we saw another Earth that looks exactly the same as ours.”

“We saw it, too,” said Gerry.

“Impossible!” said General Rickrack.

“We can’t have two Earths floating around and bumping into each other when there’s only supposed to be one. What will people think?” said the President. “I want you to blast off immediately and fly to that other Earth to investigate and report back to me. Will you do it?”

“Yes, sir!” they said. They ran back out to the launch pad, climbed up into the rocket, and took off. The Saturn 9 lifted up through the clouds, up beyond Earth-1’s atmosphere, and then made a right turn, towards the mysterious Earth-2 that had suddenly appeared in the sky that morning.

The boy with the orange hair eased down on the joystick and pulled back the throttle as they soared high above Pacific Ocean-2.

“Where should we land?” asked General Rickrack.

“Well,” said the boy with orange hair. “We don’t know what to expect. Let’s bring her down next to Mrs. Groundhog’s house, and we’ll take it from there.”

“Good idea,” said Gerry. They all agreed.

So they landed the Saturn 9 in a backyard by the brook near Mrs. Groundhog’s house. Everything seemed perfectly normal. It looked exactly like Earth-1. Identical. The brook was flowing; a gentle breeze was blowing; the sun was low in the sky. They heard the busy clatter of pots and pans coming from Mrs. Groundhog’s house.

“Mom!” shouted Gerry. “Mom! I’m home!”

“Shhhh,” said the boy with orange hair. “Hold on. Things may not be what they seem. Let’s keep quiet and take a peek in the window first, OK?”

“OK,” they whispered.

They crept quietly over to the side of Mrs. Groundhog’s house, snuck up to the window and looked inside. Mrs. Groundhog was in the kitchen stirring a big pot of meatball sauce on the stove with four places set at the kitchen table. The aroma of tomato sauce was wafting out the window.

“I’m hungry,” said Gerry, licking his lips.

“Me, too,” said General Rickrack.

“Shhhh,” whispered the boy with orange hair. “Not so loud. We’ve got to investigate first.”

But it was too late. Gerry was starving and had already gone around the corner and was knocking at the front door. The boy with orange hair and General Rickrack ran after him, but Mrs. Groundhog had already opened the door.

“Oh, my goodness, Gerry! Guys! How did you get out here? Oh, well, never mind. Come in. Supper’s ready.” And she gave her son, Gerry, a big hug and kiss.

“But, who might this be now?” asked Mrs. Groundhog.

General Rickrack saluted, “Brigadier General Ralph Rickrack, ma’am. Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

“My, but that’s a handsome uniform. All those nice medals and ribbons!”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

They followed her in and sat at the table. Mrs. Groundhog served up big portions of spaghetti with three meatballs each. They were hungry and everyone had seconds and almost didn’t have room for desert except it was homemade banana cream pie so they made room. Then Gerry got a stomachache and wanted to lie down for a while. And that’s when it happened! Just as Gerry was getting up from the table, someone came into the kitchen and bumped into him, and they both said, “Excuse me,” at exactly the same time and looked up, and there were TWO GERRIES!

“Who are you?!” they both said at exactly the same time.

“Oh, my goodness!” cried Mrs. Groundhog

“Which one is Gerry?” asked General Rickrack.

“I am,” both Gerries said at exactly the same time.

And THEN, in came another General Rickrack and another boy with orange hair, and all three pairs of them stood there staring with their mouths open like they were looking in a mirror at each other.

The two identical General Rickracks stood at attention and saluted.

“Oh!” gasped Mrs. Groundhog. “I think I’m going to faint.”

Gerry-1 and Gerry-2 ran to her and helped her sit in the easy chair.

“I think I know what happened,” said the boy with orange hair-1.

“I know what you’re thinking,” said the boy with orange hair-2.

“What?! What?!” they all shouted.

“Well,” said the boy with orange hair-1. “I believe this second Earth, Earth-2, belongs in a parallel universe but has accidentally slipped through a tear in the fabric of the space-time continuum, possibly a black hole that backfired. What we have to do is find the black hole and push Earth-2 back through the tear to Universe-2, where it belongs.”

“Good idea!” said Gerry-1.

“Well, let’s get going! What are we waiting for?!” said Gerry-2.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute,” said the boy with orange hair-2.

“I know what you’re going to say,” said the boy with orange hair-1. “It’s already late and we’re all tired...”

“I’m not tired!” said Gerry-1.

“I never get tired!” said Gerry-2.

“Here’s the plan,” said the boy with orange hair-1. “Tonight we stay here and get a good night’s sleep since it’s late already and you can’t do things well when you’re tired. And tomorrow, first thing after breakfast, we’ll blast off and find the black hole.”

“That’s a wonderful plan,” said Mrs. Groundhog-2, who was very happy to have 2 Gerries and twice as many guys in her house. “Because for breakfast tomorrow I’m making a big batch of blueberry pancakes.”

“Then it’s settled,” said the boy with orange hair-1. And that night, the guys from Earth-1 and the guys from Earth-2 stayed up all night talking even after the lights were out and threw pillows at each other and didn’t sleep at all except maybe right at the end when it was already starting to get light out. The next morning, after breakfast, the guys-1 climbed into the Saturn 9-1 and the guys-2 climbed into Saturn 9-2 and both rockets blasted off and lifted up, up through the clouds, out past the moon and, as they were approaching Mars, off to the left, the boy with orange hair-1 noticed a flickering vibrating flashing light with a dark spot in the center.

“There it is,” he said. “The hole in the space-time continuum.”

Gerry-1 picked up the radio microphone, “This is Saturn 9-1 calling Saturn 9-2. Do you read me, Saturn 9-2? Over.”

The radio crackled and they heard a voice that sounded like an echo of Gerry’s voice, “Copy. [crackle, crackle] This is Saturn 9-2. [crackle] We read you. Over.”

“This is Saturn 9-1,” said Gerry-1. “That rippling light with the black center just to the left of Mars is the hole in the space-time continuum. Let’s double back to Earth-2 and start pushing with both rockets. Do you read me?”

“Copy. [crackle, crackle] We’ll follow behind you. Be careful. Over and out.”

The boy with orange hair-1 reversed course and steered the rocket away from the rippling light back towards Earth-2. Both Saturn 9’s flew around to the far side of Earth-2, gently touched their noses up against the Gobi Desert, which was a nice soft, flat area, and started pushing. Slowly, Earth-2 began to move out of its orbit, out past the Moon, towards Mars. They steered left towards the rippling light and moved closer and closer. The edge of Earth-2 touched the rippling light and then the edge of the black center and BLIP! Earth-2 disappeared with both rockets right behind it. They had slipped through the hole in the space-time continuum and spun into a long winding tunnel of flashing lights. The spaceships spun round and round, and bounced up and down, and slid back and forth.

“Yip-eee!” yelled Gerry-1.

“Hold on tight,” said the boy with orange hair-1.

The rockets spun, and slipped, and slid, and bounced through the flashing lights, down, down, around, when suddenly, BLOOP! they slipped out the other end and were flying through space just to the right of Mars.

“We made it!” shouted Gerry the groundhog. “Universe-2!”

The two rockets gently pushed Earth-2 back into orbit around Sun-2. The guys-1 waved good-bye through the cockpit window and then swung around back through the space-time continuum for the return trip.

Everything seemed, finally, to be going smoothly, but near the end of the tunnel between universes, Gerry sneezed and bumped the boy’s arm that was holding the joy stick and the Saturn 9 veered and scraped against the wall and bounced off to the right a little, and when they popped out through the end, the whole thing had shifted and they weren’t to the left of Mars, but instead on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii.

Proceed to Chapter 11...

Copyright © 2007 by Bill Bowler

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