Home for the holidays… you’ve been dreading this for months now. The dysfunction. The grudges. The stress. But especially… the children.
Be they niece or nephew, younger sibling or cousin, no matter how close to your genes they are, you can’t help but loathe them. They’re always tugging on your goatee or dredlocks, always asking questions, always looking up to you with respect, because, face it, you're so cool.
They want to hear about your sordid life. They want tales of danger and lewdness. They think you live an R rated movie. You’re explicit, you’re the black sheep. They want to know about the violence, the sex, the drugs. They want you to entertain them with your pain.
If they only knew that in reality your life is closer to a shitty X-rated pulp novel, and no way are you gonna give them the good stuff, not with Mom and Aunt Retna in the next room.
What are you going to do? You’re on the spot and need that hidden trump about now. But all that comes to your head are dirty stories from e2.
But wait a minute. Some faceless guy, some guy you had consistently downvoted cause you thought his writeups where wholly unsuited to the hip postmodern jive of your favorite webboard, had risked threat of troll and The Klap to bring you the perfect out.
You squint your eyes, resisting the urge to swat away that utterly precious four year old who’s punching you in the kidneys while repeatedly screeching “I wanna story! I wanna story!”
What was the name of that stupid thing… was it a werm? What was it looking for… it was on some sort of quest, right? “Oh yeah!” you exclaim. “That dope warned me about this, and for no good reason I took his suggestion and printed out his write up. Good thing I kept it in the nifty inside pocket of my black trench coat!”
“Hold on a sec,” you tell the children, running to the foyer to retrieve your sole salvation.
By the time you get back to the living room, the tv has been turned off, all but one of the lights have been dimmed, and your entire family, (and that neighbor who’s been stalking you since you were ten) are sitting in a semi-circle, looking up at you expectantly. Even Uncle Thyrohd has set down his American Hunter magazine, and is all ears.
“This had better be good,” your disgruntled twelve year old niece mutters, clutching a ragged Harry Potter paperback to her chest.
You smile nervously, and begin:
The Quest of Spikey the Werm
Once upon a time there was a muddy hill. And on this muddy hill lived many slimy creatures. Most of these slimy creatures didn’t know what was going on, because they were so slimy that all they did all day long was roll around in the mud. But guess what? One of these slimy creatures was actually very smart. He had seventeen toes, and seventeen eyes on the toes where the toenails should have been. His name was Spikey the Werm.
Spikey the Werm was a very good worm. He knew many words and had many good things to say. He wasn’t always polite, but he never made anyone mad on accident, because he knew what was going on.
But Spikey had one problem. He was bored. He was tired of watching his friends roll around in the mud without doing anything exciting. Spikey wanted to do something exciting. So one day he squirmed down the side of the muddy hill, and started to creep along the road.
Now the road that Spikey decided to follow was very, very long. It began in the land of Nobody Knows Where and disappeared, without stopping, in the sizable blue forests of Some Other Where. The road had many attractions, and many robbers, and many convenience stores flashing and hiding and swaying on its sides. But Spikey wasn’t looking for any of these things. No. Spikey the Werm was looking for an adventure. And not just any adventure, no. Spikey was looking for a Quest. That is how bored he was.
What kind of Quest was Spikey the Werm looking for? He was looking for a very special Quest. He was on a Quest to find the Juicy Pig Muffin, because he thought that the Juicy Pig Muffin would make him very exciting to be around. Don’t ask me why he thought the Juicy Pig Muffin would do this. Spikey was smart, but he didn’t always make sense. Not even to me, who was his best pal, before the Atomic Burp blasted him into little bitty bits.
But no matter why he wanted it, Spikey the Werm went on his Quest, and that is how one day, after many weeks of creeping down the long road, he fell into a ditch on the side of the road, and found a Power Drill. This is what the Power Drill had to say:
“Hello Spikey the Werm, how are you doing?”
“I am doing well,” answered Spikey. “How are you?”
“I am not well at all.”
“Oh, really? Why not?”
“Because a very bad thing happened to me.”
“What a shame!” shouted Spikey.
“Yes. It is a shame. Bad things are a shame, you are right. But you should ask me what happened before you say anything else.”
Spikey looked at the Power Drill very closely. It looked very new, like it had never been used, so he couldn’t decide what was wrong with it. After a little while, Spikey asked the Power Drill what the bad thing that happened was.
“Oh, you should hear this! It was awful! Somebody ate my extension chord, because it looked like a buttery noodle!”
“That is very sad!” said Spikey while he stretched his toes. “But tell me, what is an extension chord?”
“Oh, you don’t know what an extension chord is? Well, let me tell you. It is a special thing that is long and yellow and gives me my power.”
“Power, heh? You mean, you have power?”
“I had power, until the awful thing happened, and now I don’t have any power at all.”
“But you are so new, you look like you have never been used!”
“That is just the thing!” said the powerless Power Drill. “I have been used only once, to build a shelf, but now I think that I will never be used again!”
The power drill began to cry. And because Spikey the Werm doesn’t like listening to unpleasant things like crying, he looked around, for a way to escape.
“Where are you going?” asked the Power Drill as Spikey began to crawl in the direction of the road.
“I’m going away, on a Quest! I have no time to loose!” shouted Spikey over his toe joints.
“Well, let me come along! A Quest is just what I need! Yes, I need to go on a Quest too! I need to go on a Quest for a Replacement Extension Chord!”
“What are you talking about?” asked Spikey. He was beginning to get a headache, because the Power Drill was getting on his nerve.
“Yes, that is a wonderful idea!” continued the Power Drill. “If I go on a Quest for a Replacement Extension Chord, and I succeed, then I will have power again, and then I can do many useful things.”
“Fine, alright! I’ll let you go on a Quest, but you can’t cry anymore, because it doesn’t sound good!”
“Spikey the Werm, you are a very fine creature!” shouted the Power Drill. “Now, could you pick me up? I don’t have any toes or feet or legs, so you are going to have to carry me.”
“Okay, okay! Put your handle between my toes, lets get going.”
The two of them crept down the road slowly, because Spikey the Werm, even though he was smart, was not strong. But just think about it. If you had to drag a Power Drill down the road, using only your toes, what do you think would happen? I’ll tell you what would happen. You’d become strong, or actually the muscle between your toes would become strong. And it was the same with Spikey. After three and four and five hundred miles of carrying the Power Drill, he developed a muscle. In fact, the muscle he developed became so strong that it could do many things, and this is important news, because Spikey the Werm was on a Quest, and during a Quest, many things happen that don’t happen ordinarily. So having a muscle was a good thing, because eventually he’d need it pretty bad.
But let me tell you something else. Even though Spikey had one very strong muscle, he still didn’t move along all that fast, because you need more that one muscle to be speedy. But not being speedy was all right with our two adventurers. They enjoyed watching the scenery pass them by at a medium rate. They were in no rush, because they knew that sooner or later, trouble would come to them, no matter what. Just saying you’re on a Quest means that somehow trouble’s going to find you. And trouble definitely found Spikey and the Power Drill. Major trouble indeed.
One sunny day, that was just damp enough for Spikey not to have to worry about drying into a crusty smudge, a little girl ran right past the two adventures.
“Whoa!” Spikey exclaimed in a frightened voice, because she had nearly squished him.
“Hey, watch it, flighty girl!” yelled the Power Drill. He had been examining the Yellow Mountains to the North with all his concentration, because he thought they would be a good thing to remember when he was an old, forgotten tool laying in a box at a garage sale.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” said the girl. “I didn’t see you two. I was in a rush.”
“I’ll bet you were in a rush!” shouted Spikey in a most testy tone. “A rush to smear me all over the street!”
“Hold on, hold on, don’t get angry,” the girl said as she smiled and stooped down to see the adventurers more closely. “I honestly didn’t know you were creeping along. Worms don’t usually come out here unless it has just rained.”
“Well, there you have it,” muttered Spikey. “I’m not just any worm. Do I look like just another worm to you?”
“You don’t,” agreed the girl. “You look stranger than any worm I have ever seen. You have toes and eyes and a blow drier.”
“I ain’t no blow drier!” shouted the Power Drill, who was evidently offended by being mistaken for a bathroom tool, rather than a garage tool.
“Oh, dear me! You aren’t a blow dryer. You look too strong to be a blow drier.”
“Dartboard straight! I am way too strong to be a mere beautification instrument! I am a truly powerful being! I am a Power Drill!”
“That must be a very nice thing to be.”
“You better believe it!” answered the Power Drill, who would have twirled his bit if he had been plugged in at that moment.
“Anyhow,” said the girl. “I’m sorry I almost squashed you, and mistook you for something you don’t want to be mistaken for, but I am in a hurry, and I can’ t hang around any more, so goodbye!”
The little girl rose, and was already three steps away before Spikey had a chance to shout:
“Hey, listen, we understand, we really do, but now you owe us, because you almost ended our lives, right?”
“Right!” agreed the Power Drill.
“So we’re thinking the least you could do is tell us why you are in a rush.”
“Yeah!” agreed the Power Drill.
“Oh,” sighed the little girl. “I can’t tell you right now, because I am in such a rush that I don’t have time, but maybe later, if you’re still around, I’ll tell you exactly what’s happening, or what was happening, because by the time I tell you what is making me in a rush now, it won’t be now anymore, it will be later, and so I can talk about it as if it already happened, rather than as if it is something happening, okay?”
“That’s a crock of pudbutter!” shouted the Power Drill. “You’re just trying to confuse us!”
“I am not. I’m just trying to make sense, that’s all.”
“That seems like a sneaky sort of sense to me,” admitted Spikey, who was getting a cramp in his muscle from holding Drill too long in one position.
“Okay, I’m sorry that I don’t make sense to you, but you are going to have to forgive me, and forget about it, alright? If you want me to tell you what’s going on, then you’re going to have to come along with me. Here, you can ride in my pocket.”
“Which pocket, huh?” questioned Spikey. “I’ll tell you right now that I ain’t going to ride in your back pocket, cause then you’ll sit on me, and I’ll just be a stain! I don’t want to be a stain! I’m too young to be a stain!”
“You can ride in my shirt pocket, is that okay? But you, Mr. Drill, you’re gonna have to ride on my belt. I don’t think you’ll fit in my pocket.”
“So now you want to separate us, eh?” said the Power Drill.
“Hey, take it or leave it, I gotta go.”
And that is how the adventurers found themselves being carried away by a chipper, if impatient, little girl.
The room is silent. You never thought your family had the ability to be this concentrated (aside from during reruns of M*A*S*H). You especially never thought you had it in you to be so… captivating.
The twelve year old, she’s the first one to speak. “Then what?” she asks. Her voice is coarse. You realize she has been crying.
“I…” you trail off. “I don’t know.”
“Why not!” screams mom, her turret’s beginning to show signs of a return.
“Because… because…” but you can’t say anything. Certainly not the truth. Your unbridled downvoting has at last come back to bite you in the ass.