The coolest movie in the world is playing at the movie theater downtown. One problem: It’s rated R. Another related problem: You are three under-aged children in Grade 5. The greatest cinephiles to walk the corridors of your underfunded school. However, there’s one talent you all share: An uncanny sense of balance. You also have a trench coat.
You see where this is going?
The only way you’re going to be able to see ROMANCE OF BRIDGE COUNTY: NINJA DRAGON SUBMARINE of BLOOD is if the three of you hop on each other’s shoulders, don a trench coat, and pass for an adult. But first, we need to know which three children you are.
[Readers voted by selecting emoji reactions whenever a choice was offered. Winning choices are highlighted in bold for this archived version.]
–> Crimdel – Dodgeball champion. Tallest kid in grade 5. Cool as ice. +5 stability
–> Amdee – Horror movie buff. Pockets full of blood capsules. Sometimes smells funny. +3 gross
–> Xanth3dn – Exchange student. Non-binary. Can grow a beard, but like, made of crystals. +? !!??!!
–> Mendruck – School bully. Strong but sweaty. Has a paper route. +4 strength
–> Volume IV – Fourth child from a library family. Mom is a book. +8 intelligence
–> Sir Bug – Rich kid. Incapable of empathy. Might actually hunt people on an island for sport. +5 $
–> Looon – Hypochondriac. Parents dote on them, though. +3 sympathy
–> Officer Brane – Not a cop. A child like you. Hey… any of you know where to get drugs? +4 authority
–> 18KK4 – Not a robot. A child like you. Hey… any of you know where to get oil? +18 bleep bloop
The school bell has rung. On the playground, under the rusty swings, our trio gathers: Volume IV, Amdee, and 18KK4. Amdee pulls a movie poster out that they kept tucked in their underpants throughout the school day, keeping it secret, safe and a bit musty and wrinkly, actually.
“Okay, Volume IV and 18KK4. Here’s the plan. We’re going to hop on our dirt bikes, zip down to our trench coat stash, and then we’re going to disguise ourselves as a normal adult who wants to go see ROMANCE OF BRIDGE COUNTY: NINJA DRAGON SUBMARINE of BLOOD. I’ve heard that this movie used 2,308 prosthetic heads so they could explode one every time any characters smooch. Just like: mmm mmm mmm… bANG!” This was the movie featured on Amdee’s underwear poster.
Volume IV nods. “Just like it happens in the novel. Which, I have to assume, will be better than the film.”
“That computes,” adds 18KK4.
“What?” says Volume IV.
“Uh… ‘yeah, totally'” clarifies 18KK4 the normal child. They nervously brush at the series of buttons that sit underneath the LED display on their chest, as normal children do.
“Great,” says Amdee. “Okay, does anyone have any questions before we go see the greatest movie ever to visit our local cinema?”
–> Volume IV: “Just one: How are we going to pay for this?”
–> 18KK4: “Just one: What is kissing and how do humans– humans like all of us– do it?”
–> Officer Brane: “Just one: You kids know where to get drugs around here?” (Get OUT of here Officer Brane, you didn’t get enough votes to get in this story!)
-> Volume IV: “I have many questions. Here’s a list of of the top 10.”
–> 18KK4: “If we have any questions, we can address them on the way. To the bikes! To DESTINY!”
As our trio totter their way cinema-ward, their progress is interrupted by a police officer.
“Well, well, well,” said the officer. “Out for a stroll, eh? In our fine village? On this warm day? Wearing an unseasonable trench coat? You’re not hiding anything in there are you? A firearm? A trashbag full of the devil’s lettuce? The devil himself in all his cloven-footed glory? An outdoor advertisement in excess of 16 feet in width, inappropriate for this zoning area? A handful of asbestos?”
Amdee, the face of the trio, racked their brain with thought. “Think, Amdee, think!” they thought.
Volume IV frantically tapped an idea on Amdee’s leg using a code developed by Samuel Morse, the inventor of the telegraph and the first person to walk on the moon (allegedly, as Samuel was found “not guilty” by a moon court). Unfortunately, Amdee was not familiar with Morse’s code.
The police officer subtly reached for their pepper spray, and a sock full of rocks, and the keys to a single-occupancy tank, and a button that controls an orbital satellite, having been made increasingly nervous by the delay in response.
“We’ve got a problem,” said Amdee. “We have to get to that ticket window, but my babysitter is there and they would recognize me right away. They know I’m not old enough to get into the movie!”
“But we’re in disguise,” pointed out Volume IV. “Your babysitter wouldn’t expect you to be as tall as we are together.”
“True,” said Amdee. “But they don’t go by sight alone. They’re actually an ogre who hates children. They’ve got giant nostrils with hair sticking out, such that it looks like sea urchins are nesting there, and its sense of smell can tell when you’re staying up past the time your parents set for bed. It’s awful. And I love them. Ogres are the best. Sometimes when they babysit me, I while away the whole evening giving them bigger and bigger bones just to watch them crush them easily with their powerful monster jaws.”
“Yeah!” shouts our trio, triumphant, jumping into the air and then falling into a jumble on the The Bone Mart’s floor before scrambling to their feet and fleeing.
“We were three children the whole time!” shouted back 1844K.
“You mean two children?” shouted the skeleton after them.
“What?” said 1844K.
“Back to the theater!” shouted Amdee.
Meanwhile, in a basement across town:
Meanwhile, back across the street from the movie theater (the one by the flower store frequented by magicians): Amdee peered out from the top of the trio’s faithful trench coat, Volume IV held a bouquet of bones out of one of the sleeves and 1844K just stood there, holding everybody up, wirelessly downloading a driver update like normal children do.
Volume IV tried not to think about what the bone-quet’s dripping juices would do to a book if they touched its pages before washing their hands. More than anything, Volume IV wanted to stop holding bones and wash their hands. Watching ROMANCE OF BRIDGE COUNTY: NINJA DRAGON SUBMARINE of BLOOD was now in 2nd place.
“Do you see your babysitter?” Volume IV asked.
“No,” said Amdee. “While we ran across town to get bones, I think they went into the theater.”
1844K said, “That’s great! We were going in there anyway.”
Just then, a mysterious cloaked figure sidled up next to the trio. “Yes,” they said. “Go into the theater. Bear witness to my HYPNOTIC MASTERPIECE!”
“That’s a strange thing to say,” said Amdee.
Meanwhile, back in a dark basement… hey, where did that giant unblinking eye go?
–> Oh there it is. It’s looking at the blueprints. Wait, are those blueprints for… THEY ARE!
–> Oh, there it is, laying on a murphy bed, staring at the ceiling. What could it be thinking?
–> What the heck! We were only gone for one scene and the eye is DEAD! It’s now a giant skeleton of an eye, which I didn’t even know was a thing ’cause I thought eyes don’t have bones?
–> “I gotta get my hands on some money. Get a real bed. Maybe get out of this basement.”
–> “All my life, all my troubles can be traced back to robots. Today’s the day I start my revenge plan.”
–> “I’m getting older. I gotta start getting ready to be a father. It’s gotta be possible to practice, right?”
Meanwhile, back in the chicken separatist compound: A CHICKEN: Buck-AWK! (There is nobody in the room with the chicken. These separatists refuse to have anything to do with chickens, no matter how good those chickens are at public speaking.)
Amdee blinked at the cloaked figure. “You … fell in love with a shark?”
“Before I came over to talk to you, I distinctly heard you say something about being in love with a bone-crunching ogre,” said the cloaked figure. “This was before you left for a while. I’ve pretty much been here all morning waiting for my hypnotic film to do its thing.”
“I was just about to go in and watch a movie,” said Amdee. “Would it be okay with you if you didn’t do the hyno-shark-love-connection thing until the NEXT showing?”
“Sorry,” said the cloaked figure. “I’m too lonely. Too lonely to wait.”
“Then you’ve left us no choice,” said Amdee.
–> “Time to hit the library to learn the art of COUNTER-hypnosis!” said Volume IV.
–> “Time to use our normal boy ability to replay sounds to fake a fire alarm & evacuate the theater!” said 18KK4.
–> ” ,” said the giant mysterious eye. Whoah! When did it get here?
–> “We’re going to have to ignore you and go buy our movie ticket! This has been dragging on for too long!” said Amdee.
Wow! That was… something!
And there’s more like it still happening on the lost time incident Discord, if you’d care to join us!