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Mike Salt - Creative Writing


By J D Michaelson

Chapter One

Mission (Out of) Control

“Neeaaroom - kapoomf!”

The UTFP Shuttle X42 tore a huge hole in the fabric of Dad’s newspaper, climbed steeply to make an amazing three-sixty and shot into hyper-drive, escaping the deadly Sofa Zone before the enemy forces had time to react!

Within seconds, the battle-scarred trophy was hurtling towards the shuttle bay doors of the UTFP Starship Phoenix.

“Mr Sparky, extend struts now!” barked Captain James Trotter.

A slipper clad ten year-old left foot forcibly put wood and hinges into motion and the X42 slid neatly into the dark recesses of the shuttle bay. Fumbling around under his UTFP bed quilt, James found his torch and lit up the tent-like structure.

“James, what have you done to my paper?” demanded a booming voice from downstairs. “There’s a blummin’ great X42 size hole in the sports page! James?”

“Captain, I’m picking up some cross-talk from the Sofa Zone. They’re looking for us. Sounds like we’ve made ‘em pretty mad this time!” said Bingo.

The Phoenix is the only starship in the fleet with a talking canine as an active crew member.

“What shall we do sir?”

“Go into stealth mode and lie low for a while,” replied the Captain. “They’ll get fed up looking for us. Then we’ll just cruise by under their noses, undetected as usual.”

“Woof!” laughed Bingo.

Suddenly there was a loud thumping noise and the whole ship began to shake. Someone or something was trying to break through the shuttle bay doors! The bridge crew froze, white with fear - staring at each other.

“Oh no!” said Captain James, “It sounds like Rhino Man!” The shuttle bay doors gave way. The UTFP quilt was torn from its moorings and dashed against a huge asteroid poster on James’ bedroom wall.

The brave Captain stared the evil Rhino Man square in the face and said, “What’s up Rhino Butt?”

“Mum and Dad want yer downstairs now - yer really for it this time!” As Danny (aka Rhino Man) turned, something caught his eye.

“Bingo! You’ve got Bingo again! Well I’m taking him back an’ this time I’m gonna put him somewhere you’ll never find him.”

With that he grabbed Bingo by the neck, squeezed tightly and left. “Maggot brain!” he shouted as he went down the stairs.

Danny was two years older than James. He was also quite a bit heavier with a round face and a piggy type upturned nose. Mum would say it was just puppy fat. James always annoyed Danny by saying he’d never seen a puppy with that much fat!

James, on the other hand, was quite small and slim. His hair was darker and straighter than Danny’s. His Aunty Trish often made a fuss of him, saying he’d have all the girls chasing him. He always said this made him want to throw up, but secretly he was flattered. James wasn’t very tall for his age. His birthday fell in August which meant he was almost a year younger than many other kids in his class. He was definitely the smallest and that’s why Danny called him Maggot Brain.

“Yer really for it this time…yer really for it this time…” muttered James as he pulled his UTFP space helmet off it’s hanger behind the door.

Rhino Man and Maggot Brain sat opposite each other on the floor of the living room. Through his solar glare visor, James could see Bingo being tortured in the hands of Rhino Man.

“James, take that helmet off. Dad’s got something to say.” said Mum sternly.

Mrs Trotter was quite round and always very neatly dressed. She worked as a secretary and was always very organised. James liked the fact that she wasn’t very tall because it meant he stood a chance of catching her up as he grew. She usually had a jolly beaming smile, but not today.

“So you two…” began Dad. “You’ve been off school just two and a half weeks. You’ve managed to lose three footballs in three different gardens, terrorise Mrs Johnson's cats - all seven of ‘em!” He paused. “Poor Mr Tibbs! It seems I’ll never have a paper I can read cover to cover before some infernal space ship vaporises it! …and as for the shed door… well if I ever get to the bottom of who’s bright idea it was to use it as a skateboard ramp I’ll…”

“Michael, dear … calm down.” insisted Mum.

“I am calm!” snapped Mr Trotter.

Oh yes, he looked calm all right - his big bulging eyes and the beads of sweat beginning to appear on his bald patch made him look very calm indeed! He was forty something and was forever holding his tummy in, pretending he was as athletic and fit as twenty something years ago. Every now and then he forgot and his potbelly stuck out like a shelf for resting drinks on.

“I haven’t opened the mail yet,” he said waving a handful of envelopes. “I daren’t, I’m not sure what I’ll find - are you?” He glared at the pair who were woefully examining the tufts in the hearthrug.

“Mr Tibbs is the only cat I know who’s ever had to have special treatment from an animal psychologist!” he ranted. “I’ve got the bill to prove it thank you very much!”

He turned his back on the boys and put the envelopes down on the arm of the settee.

“Shed door was your idea,” whispered Danny with a stabbing finger motion.

“Jus’ tryna beat your record,” shrugged James.

Mum motioned to them behind Dad’s back with a finger over her lips. “You’re out of control the pair of you! We’ve got three and a half weeks left. How are we going to survive?” he continued. “When I was young we used to play Cowboys and Indians or Cops and Robbers.” he shook his head from side to side. “We never used to…”

He was off on one of his big speeches. James and Danny pretended to listen and Mum began opening the mail.

“Eeeeooww!” squealed Mum. “Got it, got it, GOT IT!” she shouted jumping into orbit and starting to dance around the room.

“Got what?” demanded Mr Trotter. “What? What? What is it?”

“A wasp up her knickers!” sniggered Danny, at which the boys rolled around the floor in stitches at the very idea!

Mum was dancing, Dad was frantically trying to read the papers she was clutching tightly in her hand, while James and Danny were rolling around the floor like two bowling balls using their parents' legs as skittles!

“No… i - i - it can't be?” he gasped disbelievingly.

“It is! ‘tis, ‘tis, ‘tis, ‘tis!” she insisted. “We’ve won! We never win anything. But we’ve won!”

James and Danny stopped rolling. “Won?” they mouthed to each other. “What did we win Mum?” they shouted in stereo.

It was Dad who answered.

“Two weeks at the Topstar Hotel with full access to all the fun of the UTFP Space Centre, Theme Park, guided tours of the launch bay, shuttle hangars, Mission Control, first class air tickets - the works! We’re going to Florida!”

“Wow! That’s better than Cops and Robbers!” James chuckled.

“Any day son.” Dad agreed. “Any day!”

COPYRIGHT Mike Salt. Email: with ‘U-T-F-P’ as the subject if you want to find out how the rest of the story goes.