The Human Kaboom
(the one with the gigantic space prank)illustrated by
Trudy and Jam pressed their faces to the windows of the space elevator to get a better look at the gigantic naked man floating in near-Earth orbit.
“Look! You can see his—”
“Trudy Chartreuse!” Ms. Kilroy clapped her hands sharply. A long-suffering middle school teacher, she had zero patience for hijinks, especially on field trips. Double especially on field trips to space.
Ms. Kilroy’s eighth-grade class had won a cereal box contest for an all-expenses-paid visit to Corpus Gigantus, the largest amusement park in the solar system. The “park” was, more specifically, a humongous working replica of the human body that had been launched into the exosphere for educational purposes. It was filled with thought-provoking scientific exhibitions, and the rides and attractions were highly informative. However, even the most diligent students were often distracted from the biology lessons by the chance to use a hover pack, which is what all the visitors used to fly around the park.
As the space elevator ascended, the city below shrank away until the whole state was visible through the windows in the floor. Meanwhile, a “full moon” filled the view through the windows in the ceiling. The students tittered as they strained against their seat belts to shield their eyes.
Ms. Kilroy glared at Trudy for riling up the other kids. Trudy shrugged her broad shoulders as if the accusation were preposterous. Her tight braids were pulled up into a mountain of pink string, purple beads, and black hair. It bobbed on top of her head as she turned to Jam, who, in Trudy’s estimation, always knew the right thing to say.
Jaime Flacco was short and skinny. His first name was pronounced HIGH-may, which was excruciatingly close toheinie
, and that was what the other kids had insisted on calling him for years until Trudy had rechristened him Jam in the middle of sixth grade.
“We’re just trying to learn anatomy, Ms. K.” Jam smiled and clasped his hands like a choirboy. His thick glasses slid down his nose and nearly fell from his face. He pushed them into place with the back of his wrist for the seventeenth time that day.
Trudy nodded and smiled so wide her molars showed.
Ms. Kilroy sucked her teeth and sent her dangly earrings swinging. She had a shaved head and a no-nonsense attitude. She had been a teacher in the city for most of her life. And at that point, she’d had almost every kind of student pass through her classroom: teacher’s pets, smart alecks, goody-two-shoes, mean girls, nice girls, bullies, jokers, dweebs, nerds, jocks, punks, goof-offs, show-offs, prodigies, lamebrains, loudmouths, wallflowers, duds, dudes, dorks—the list goes on. But in her many years of teaching, Janet Kilroy had never met a pair of mischief-makers as clever, versatile, and downright entertaining as Jam and Trudy. She’d had to select a new descriptor for this troublesome twosome. She called them weisenheimers
Jam and Trudy hit it off at lunch on the very first day of middle school. They made each other laugh. They liked the same games and bands. Jam let Trudy copy his homework, and Trudy threatened anyone who gave Jam a hardtime. After two years of classes together, they’d become an inseparable team and had shown impressive dedication and creativity in honing their skills as agents of gentle chaos.
One time, they hid a live frog in their art teacher’s iced tea. Another time, they reprogrammed the clocks to get extra recess. Trudy always carried a pocketful of googly eyes to stick onto posters and bring inanimate objects to life. Jam always carried a marker to add funny doodles to signs and advertisements. He was often too shy to speak up in public, but Trudy would say or do anything to get a laugh. Some of the jokes she thought of herself; others were whispered to her by Jam.
Ms. Kilroy had desperately wanted to exclude the disruptive duo from the field trip. She had always dreamed of visiting Corpus Gigantus someday, and the last thing she wanted was for a couple of weisenheimers to ruin her trip. But the principal had insisted Jam and Trudy go along. Mostly because he didn’t want to have to look after them for the day, but also because Trudy was the one who had sent in the winning contest entry form, and Jam the one who had answered all the trivia questions correctly.
The space elevator picked up speed as it ascended past the atmosphere.
“Gluteus maximus!” declared Trudy. “Isn’t that right, Jam?”
“Yes,” said Jam. “That is the anatomically correct term used by doctors and nurses, so it couldn’t technically
be considered offensive by anyone
Ms. Kilroy begrudgingly agreed, but the other eighteen students failed miserably to suppress their giggles as the humongous heinie grew closer and closer.
None of them had any idea of the terrible danger that lurked in the shadowy crevices of Corpus Gigantus.
Copyright © 2023 by Adam Rubin. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.