Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Hedgehog's Assistant

Jupiter and Moses sat in their usual spot in the playground. Moses let out a giggle.

"What?" asked Jupiter. Moses laughed harder.

"What?!" asked Jupiter again, a bit more annoyed and getting impatient.

"You-your hair, its its all standing up," Moses barely got the words out before dissolving into a fit of laughter. Jupiter looked up and she could see the ends of her hair floating towards the plastic walls of the yellow tunnel.

"Its just static," said Jupiter dryly. Moses caught his breath and said, "y-you look like, you look like my pet hedgehog!" and he began laughing hysterically again.

"If you don't stop laughing, I won't tell you my secret," Jupiter said with an air of superiority, like that of an older sibling burdened with an immature child. For an 8 year old, Jupiter acted a bit curmudgeonly at times.

Moses gasped, his shoulders stopped shaking, and finally all that was left of his hysterics was a badly hidden smirk. "Ok, what's the secret?" he asked.

"I got invited to a party. And its a murder mystery party," said Jupiter beaming with satisfaction. Moses wasn't impressed.

"A party? That's not that exciting, I've been to one of those before. They had cake, but I have cake at my house too," he said.

"Not just any party though, its a secret and only very important people were invited. And you don't go as yourself, you have a kind of..." Jupiter struggled for the word. What exactly was she supposed to do at this party?

"A what? A what?" asked Moses. He was intrigued now.

"A character," said Jupiter finally. She smiled, thats what it was. She was a character in a pretend story. Only this story was real.

"How come you got invited?" Moses asked.

"What do you mean? Because I'm the professor, that's my character. They couldn't do it without the professor," Jupiter said as if this were the most obvious thing in the world.

"No, I mean, how come they picked YOU to be the professor?" asked Moses.

"Well, I mean, they um-" Jupiter was stumped. She hadn't actually been invited by whoever the mysterious host was. She'd found the invitation on the top of a very full trash can in the park. But she didn't really feel like admitting that to Moses, not when he was so impressed and she felt so important. There must be some reason she would have been invited... Finally, she settled on, "because I'm special."

"Oh." That answer satisfied Moses. "Do you think I could come?"

"Didn't you listen? It's for the most important people. And besides, you don't have a character," said Jupiter.

"Oh... right, yea I forgot about that part," said Moses dejectedly and he turned his gaze out the hole in the tunnel. Jupiter realized he probably felt left out. Everyone wants to be important she supposed, but that wouldn't make sense. Not everyone could be or else it wouldn't be special anymore. But perhaps she could let him come. A professor's assistant! Important people have assistants didn't they? And besides, Jupiter was a little intimidated by the fancy writing on the invitation. It was very adult. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to have an ally amongst the mystery.

"Well actually, I could use an assistant," she said.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fire and Ice

Jupiter pondered this new development as she walked back toward the playground, balancing her bare feet on the curb. The cement was cold and stung her toes. She tugged the sleeves of her sweater over her wrists and puffed smokey breath into the air. She concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, but the image of the dragon consumed her mind.

It was huge, with spikes from the crest of its head to the spade shaped tail. Chains tethered it to the ground, and men, minuscule in comparison, heaved desperately on the iron muzzle caging its snout. Jupiter had only seen it from afar, through the slit in the wooden fence, but even from there, she saw the strength of its jaw rip through the metal and the flames swallow the men and muzzle whole. She shuddered, partly from the cold and partly from the heat she could still feel from the blast of flames.