There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a child’s imagination.
Jonathan stormed up the cracked steps outside of his home and burst through the faded front door like a firecracker.
“I’m home,” he called.
His dad, David, said the same words whenever he arrived home from work, and Jonathan felt pleased at the opportunity to imitate papa.
He placed his jacket carefully on a hanger and jumped to fit the hook around the silver bar at the top of the closet. Jonathan carried his plastic bag carefully to the kitchen and placed the apple he didn’t eat at lunch back in the fridge. Using his tiny hands, Jonathan crumpled the plastic bag into a compact puck. He pulled open a drawer and shoved the balled-up bag in with all the other plastic bags. Mum liked to say “waste not, want not,” and Jonathan knew that meant not to throw anything away unless he knew for sure it was garbage.
“Mum,” called Jonathan.
“We’re up here hon,” said Mum.
Jonathan’s feet whipped up the stairs making a rapid-fire percussion and he stormed into the bedroom.
“Hello,” he said as he entered the room.
Granny rested in the bed, the covers up to her chin, and she looked kinda grey like a clam shell. She smiled when she saw Jonathan.
“Hi Jonathan,” Granny said. She patted the bed next to her. “Sit next to Granny?”
Jonathan nodded and leapt onto the bed, rolling around until he slid snug into Granny’s armpit, one of the warmest places in the world.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea to touch him?” Mum asked.
Granny sniffed. “What I have isn’t catching dear.”
“Is Granny sick?” Jonathan asked. She’d been staying with them a few weeks, though the last week or so she’d hardly left the bed.
“Yes honey,” Mum said.
Granny tussled Jonathan’s dark-black hair. “Old bones become brittle.”
“Why don’t we take you to a hospital?” Jonathan asked.
Granny and Mum exchanged a look.
“We can’t right now honey, your dad is working on it,” Mum said.
“Why?” Jonathan asked. Whenever he watched TV or a Hollywood movie, sick people always went to the hospital and came away all better.
“Don’t worry about it h-“ Mum said, but Granny interrupted.
“C’mon now Mabel, tell him the truth,” Granny said.
“He’s only five mum,” said Mum.
“Yeah and the world’s not getting any brighter out there. He should know the world he lives in,” Granny said.
Mum looked at her fingernails and fidgeted. Jonathan knew fidgeting meant Mum felt nervous. He didn’t totally understand nervous but he felt sure she felt nervous right then.
“You tell him,” Mum said. “His father won’t like this.”
“Don’t worry,” Granny said. “Dead women can be lightning rods Mabel.” Granny lifted Jonathan onto her lap.
“Listen sweetie, you know Granny is sick right?” Granny said.
“Yeah,” said Jonathan. “But I don’t want Granny to be sick.”
“Me neither hon,” Granny said. “In a normal, civilized country, we’d be able to go to the doctor and she’d make Granny all better.”
Jonathan’s face crunched up as he thought with a furious sense of intensity. “But we live in America,” Jonathan said.
“Yes, but the new President of America has passed a law that means Granny can’t see the Doctor,” Granny said.
“The President?” Jonathan said.
“The very same,” Granny said.
“The President made the Doctor a mean guy?” Jonathan said.
“The President made the Doctor expensive,” Granny said. “You know we don’t have a lot of money, and even Granny and Mum together can’t pay for the Doctor’s fees.”
“What about Dad?” asked Jonathan.
“He’s trying to help too sweetie, but he can’t afford the Doctor either,” Granny said.
Jonathan slumped as a frown crinkled his little his face.
“I want you to get better Granny,” Jonathan said. “Some people get sick and they never get better. They just go to sleep forever and ever and they never get better.”
Jonathan broke into tears. Mum scolded Granny raw with a glance and Granny possessed the good grace to look abashed. Granny wrapped her warm, soft arms around Jonathan’s small frame and held him close to her breast. Jonathan nestled there, sobbing softly.
Mum came over to the bed and rubbed Jonathan’s soft little back. Her heart almost broke as she soothed his shaking chest. Jonathan coughed so Mum moved closer, but he only coughed once.
“We’re going to find a way,” Mum said.
Jonathan sold sugar sweet lemonade from a plastic red wagon outside of their house. Cars whipped by on the street rippin quick zoom, but Mum stood careful watch from the sidewalk.
Mum stiffened up when a big guy with a huge belly on a motorcycle parked his cool ride near the wagon. The huge guy smiled at Jonathan, but didn’t buy any drinks. Motor man hitched up baggy his pants and strode brusquely into the neighbour’s house.
A little boy on a bike came pretty fast from the right and pulled his brakes sharply in front of the wagon. He almost fell off. The boy got off his bike unsteadily and hit the kick stand.
“How much for a lemonade?” the strange boy asked.
“What’s your name?” Jonathan asked.
“Sam,” the strange boy said.
“Is that your bike?” Jonathan asked
“Jonathan,” Mum said. “Give the boy a lemonade.”
“Okay Mum,” Jonathan said.
“How much does it cost?” Sam said.
“2.50 dear,” Mum said.
“How full Sam?” Jonathan asked.
“All the way,” Sam said.
Sam worked with his hands for a long try, attempting to get some money from his pocket. He got a five free and passed it eagerly to Mum.
Mum fished two fifty in change out of her pocket and handed it back to the youngster.
“Thanks,” Sam said.
“No, thank you young man,” Mum said.
Sam beamed at Mum’s words and stood tall as a viking.
“Here you go,” Jonathan said. He passed the cup of lemonade to Mum.
“No Jonathan, the lemonade is for Sam,” Mum said.
Jonathan passed the lemonade to Sam and sat with his legs crossed.
“How do you like it?”
Sam took a big sip and his cheeks puffed out like a squirrel. With some difficulty, Sam managed to swallow the drink. He took a big breath and smiled.
“A lot,” Sam said.
“How old are you?” Jonathan asked.
“7,” Sam said.
“Wow,” Jonathan said. “You’re older than me.”
“Cool,” Sam said. He smiled genially.
Sam got on his bike while holding his lemonade and started to pedal, but the gears tested Sam’s strength too much. He struggled to gather any speed and since he couldn’t generate momentum, the pedals proved too difficult to spin. His lemonade sloshed out of his cup in several directions, spattering the ground with sugary, sweet nectar.
“Oh no,” Jonathan said.
“I’m okay,” Sam said.
He started pedalling better, then as he gained top velocity, the cup of lemonade tumbled from his hand and became ruined on the dirty ground.
“Sam,” cried out Jonathan.
“I’m okay,” Sam said.
He rode off into the sunset without his lemonade or his two-fifty but he gained a friend. An hour later found the time at five o’clock and Jonathan prowled the street for customers.
He approached a woman of fifty years. “Can you buy my Lemonade? It’s for my sick Granny cause the Pressadent won’t pay for it,” he said.
His eyes welled up and he bit his bottom lip. The woman gave Jonathan a hundred dollar bill. Jonathan gave the bill to Mum who folded it up real nice and put it in her chest pocket.
“I’m gonna keep looking,” Jonathan said.
“Okay, but don’t tire yourself out please,” Mum said.
“Vroom vroom,” said Jonathan. He sped off down the street. Jonathan held his arms out like wings and ran a slanted, snaking path down the sidewalk. Luckily no other pedestrians were around, or he might have bowled them over.
Jonathan heard a delightful sound. The music of an ice cream truck. Jonathan ran towards the familiar song excitedly. He loved ice cream so he loved that jaunty tune.
The ice cream truck turned a corner onto Jonathan’s street, revealing a super awesome cool truck. Chains encircled the wheels of the truck and they screeched sparks across the pavement. Jonathan sprinted towards the awesome truck.
A metallic silver paint job made the truck unforgettable, and the strange, mysterious symbols painted on the side made the truck incredibly cool.
“Wow,” Jonathan said as he ran towards the truck.
The vehicle stopped quick and parked in the middle of the road. The window slid down to expel cool mist from within. Music began to play – this time an ice cream anthem from the heart.
“Welcome to ice cream of your dreams,” said a voice. Jonathan looked around.
“Where are you?”
“I’m just out of sight, I can’t move, sorry Jonathan. How’s about an ice cream?”
“Awesome,” Jonathan said. “I want one.”
“You want one, you’ll get thousands,” laughed the corporeal voice.
Ice cream scooped itself into a cone and Jonathan took the floating cone with a smile. He giggled. “So cool.”
“I’m glad you like it my little friend. I have excellent news for you. You might want to sit for this.” The invisible being paused. “Actually, you’re pretty short, no matter!”
Jonathan stuck his face in his cone and chomped like a hungry cow.
“I am going to save your Granny, my boy,” said the voice.
Jonathan clapped his hands excitedly.
“All I ask in return is your consent to star in a show about you living in an alien environment for the rest of your life – fish out of water is killing it right now. The best,” said the voice.
“What’s your name?”
“My name is Aldroeneus Bonpliticus and I’m going to change your world little bro.”
“I’m going to kill the biggest threat to life on this planet.”
Ronald Chumpf wandered aimlessly from table to table at the pastry reception of his favourite mar-a-lago resort. He always felt hungry, never turned down a snack when the chance to munch presented itself: A few cookies here, a couple danishes wrapped in a napkin. A loaf of french bread before bed. A steak when he wakes. A bottle of scotch till he soils his crotch and a wet towel to wipe it off. Spicee broke in the room slowly, with measured steps, a man clearly broken by the weight of the world.
“Sir,” spluttered Spicee. “I can’t do this any more.”
“You’re the best there is,” Chumpf said.
“No, I can’t do this without yoghurt. Who ate all the gourmet greek yoghurts? You know I need my yoghurts to perform my duty,” Spicee said.
“Guilty as charged,” Chumpf said.
“You son of a bitch,” Spicee said.
“Hey you talk to me that way, I’ll fuck your wife,” Chumpf said. He made a disgusting, perverted face and flipped his tongue a few times.
“Fair enough,” Spicee said.
The wall exploded inwards sending stucco wall flying in every direction. Spicee took a rock to the foot and hopped away smarting.
“What is this a renovation?” Chumpf said. He felt dazed and distracted by the sugar and having used up his limited supply of energy for the day.
Spicee and Chumpf turned to see – nothing – in the opening in the wall. A wet sound filled the air and Chumpf shifted lazily in his seat.
“Security,” Chumpf said.
Spicee took two steps when he slipped and fell back on his back. The blow pressed the breath from his lungs.
“Do you like ice cream?” A voice said. A horrible voice, the voice of the last plagued soldiers standing guard at the gates of a ruined city. A voice possessing the tone of the bone-grinder and the cadence of a lich.
“I love ice cream,” Chumpf said. He stood eagerly.
“How much ice cream do you like?” The voice said.
“A lot. I’d like a lot of ice creams,” Chumpf said.
“Very well,” the voice said.
A being coalesced into sight three feet from Chumpf, an enormous amorphous blob made entirely of ice cream. The sight of the alien made Chumpf shriek in pleasure.
“Ice cream,” Chumpf shouted.
The ice cream liquified and became a series of dangerous jets. The torrents of heavy, sugary cream blasted towards Chumpf’s face. Chump screamed as ice burst from Chumpf’s every hole. The heavy streams of ice cream made his eyes pop out of their sockets, and his teeth ejected his gums thanks to the heavy flow. He died instantly.
Spicee screamed and turned to run but ran headfirst into a pole. Spicee stood, attempting to recover himself, but the ice cream alien blasted him with some vanilla bean. The dairy filled and destroyed Spicee, who noted the sensation of dying by ice cream felt like freezing from the inside out.
Jonathan sold three more lemonades but they still didn’t have enough money to pay the doctor. He added more sugar to the mix, and Mum noticed too late.
“Just go easy on it,” she told him, catching him mid-act. “Oh, there goes the whole bag.”
They now sold lemon water syrup, which Jonathan insisted on stirring. The mix hardened and now appeared almost crystalline.
“I have returned victorious,” said a grand voice.
Jonathan turned around excitedly and found an enormous pile of ice cream.
“Wow, you’re ice cream,” Jonathan smiled a huge smile.
“Yes I am,” Ice Cream Alien said.
“Can I eat you?” Jonathan asked.
Mum simply stared from the blob of ice cream to Jonathan, and then back to the alien, completely dumbstruck.
“Of course you can eat me,” Ice Cream Alien cried. “Your whole family can eat me. Granny should eat me, she’ll get all better.”
“What?” Jonathan shrieked. “So we don’t need the lemonade?”
“Su – no, what – what are you?” Mum said.
“I’m an Ice Cream Lovin’ Alien.” The Ice Cream Alien said.
“Alien?” Mum said.
“Chumpf is dead yo,” Ice Cream Alien said. “Now let me give Granny some ice cream.”
Mum nodded cautiously, opening the front door to show Ice Cream Alien into their home. She kept looking around nervously, trying to avoid looking at the amophorous mess now filling her house. All of Ice Cream Alien’s flavours, so all the flavours, painted the walls.
When Ice Cream Alien entered the room with Granny, she gasped and sat stock straight up. “What in the name of tarnation?” She barked.
“Don’t worry Mum, this – alien – is here to help you,” Mum said.
“I want you to eat some of my body Granny,” Ice Cream Alien said.
“Who said that?” Granny said, peering around.
“Ice Cream Alien,” said Mum. “I have a question. How do you know so much about Granny?”
“I know everything, even your favourite ice cream flavour,” said Ice Cream Alien. “Now Granny, eat me before the cancer consumes your body.”
“Okay,” Granny said. “What’ve I got to lose. Never thought I’d eat an alien.”
A ball of ice cream floated through the air and landed in between Granny’s hands.
“Tiger tails,” she exclaimed. “My darndest favourite.”
“I know everyone’s favourite ice cream,” said Ice Cream Alien.
Granny’s hands got messy as she shovelled the orange-black mess of slop into her mouth.
“She’s eaten the regenerative ice cream. She’s healed. Jonathan must come with me now as per our arrangement,” said Ice Cream Alien.
“No,” screamed Mum.
“Yay,” Jonathan said.
“First I need to get rid of my ice cream body,” Ice Cream Alien said. Ice cream flew in every direction like from colourful streams of ballast, but not a drop hit Jonathan. A clean square remained around him, keeping him safe, ever if he ran. Granny and Mum weren’t so lucky. They both got squelched with ice cream. As Jonathan took a bite of chocolate chunk, he started to levitate and then float upwards.
“I take my reward as per the agreement,” the Alien said.
Granny and Mum screamed but the monster took the boy and disappeared into a coin-sized wormhole before Jonathan’s ice cream hit the ground.