Read Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies Online
Authors: David Lubar
“Huh?” I shouted, scrambling to my feet. I forced my heart to speed up, as if I'd been seized by terror. I trusted that I sounded sufficiently startled.
He dropped from the branch, landing between us as silently as a cat dropping from a couch to a carpet.
“A picnic,” he said. “How lovely. May I join you?”
He bared his fangs, then laughed.
Perfect. He planned to toy with us. I wasn't surprised. Most of his kind were narcissistic fools who equated longevity with wisdom.
“No, on second thought, I don't think I'll dine
you,” he said. “I think I'll dine
you. I've quite a thirst.”
Lolana was trembling now. Poor girl. She looked at me as if I could rescue her.
“Who wants to be first?” he asked.
I turned and fled, stumbling and staggering away through the underbrush.
I hadn't gone far before I heard Lolana scream.
The vampire laughed. “Don't worry. I'll chase down the coward next. And he'll suffer for his lack of chivalry. But first, my dear, I need to get to know that lovely neck of yoursâand the lovely blood pulsing beneath it.”
He turned toward her and grabbed her shoulder. His back was to me now.
I closed the distance between us in an eyeblink. As I slammed against him, I reached around and put one hand beneath his chin, yanking his head back.
Lolana collapsed. She was unharmed. I could tell. But her heart had slowed. She'd fainted. Good. She didn't need to see what was about to happen.
The vampire let out a gasp of surprise and confusion. I had already arched his body backward, revealing his own neck. He struggled, but he was a mere vampire. They're strong. But just as parasites have lesser bugs to bite them, blood-sucking vampires have greater blood drinkers to feast on them.
He needed human blood once a week to survive.
I needed vampire blood once a year.
It was feeding time. I drank what I needed. Unlike a vampire, I can walk in the sun. I can eat human food, though it does not nourish me. And I can see my reflection. I saw it once when I was feeding. My eyes turned red, almost glowing. I thought it made me quite handsome and intriguing.
When I was finished feeding from the vampire, I dropped the body. In a moment, it collapsed into ashes. One strong gust of wind, and there'd be no sign left of him, and no more mysterious deaths in town. I turned my attention to Lolana. Poor girl. I'd used her as bait. But she hadn't been harmed. She wouldn't remember much of this. With luck, I'd be able to bring her to a safe location before she woke. All she'd really know is that her friend had vanished one night. As for me, I'd slip off in search of a good place to await next year's feeding.
“Sweet girl,” I whispered as I stroked her hair. “You have no idea how much you helped me.”
I picked her up gently to carry her back to town.
She shifted in my arms. Her eyes opened. By the time I realized the meaning of the red glow and look of long-simmering hunger, it was too late. She'd already grabbed my head and forced it back.
I struggled, but she was far stronger than I wasâimpossibly strong.
“I'm sorry,” she said as she held me immobile. “I really liked you. But I like the blood of those who drink vampire blood even more. More than like it, I need it. But not often. Once a decade is enough.”
As she clamped her mouth on my neck and feasted, I heard my grandmother reciting the rhyme about smaller bugs. I guess larger bugs have larger bugs to feast on them, too. Ad infinitum.
That had to be it.
The sticky note on the fridge read:
Hope you had a good day at school. Special treat in freezer. Love, Dad.
That was in blue pen. Below that, in pencil, was:
Just one, Alexis.
That was from Mom, who doesn't spoil me as much as Dad does but is still pretty much a softy except when I leave a mess or forget to pick up after myself, which happens a lot because I've always got a thousand things zipping through my mind, and I get distracted pretty easily.
Please be fudge barsÂ â¦
I opened the freezer door and felt the cold air brush my arm. When cold and warm air meet, you get convection. That's one of three forms of heat transference. There was also a visible swirl of condensation, because cooler air holds less moisture.
Oops. I realized I was standing there with the door open. I turned my attention to the contents of the freezer.
I found myself face-to-face with an unopened box of my favorite frozen fudgy treat, Double Fudgy Choco Bars. I unzipped the cardboard strip on the end flap that stood between me and icy, sweet delight and grabbed my treat.
The doorbell rang.
Oh, fudge. I was totally looking forward to sinking into the big easy chair by the window in the living room and reading my new book as I savored my treat.
I went to the front door, stood on my tiptoes, and looked through the small glass section that was just a bit too high to be convenient. I was home alone. Mom and Dad were both at work. But I was old enough to be here by myself. And I was smart enough to know you don't just fling open the door without checking to see who's there.
“Huh?” I'm rarely startled. But Mom was on the porch. Why would she be ringing the bell? She has a key. And why did she look so young? Aging is a gradual process. I wrote a paper about it for my science class last month. Everything is controlled at the cellular level. There are these things called
that are connected with aging.
Mom rang the bell again, pushing the button three times in rapid succession.
I opened the door.
It wasn't Mom. The woman looked like Mom did in her photos from college. Except for her eyes. Those reminded me of someone else.
She grabbed my arm and said, “I'm here fromâ”
Before I could pull free, she vanished. But she didn't vanish like something blinking off. She collapsed into a bright pinpoint of light and shot away from me at a forty-five-degree angle.
“I need to sit down,” I said as I staggered back from the door. Great. Not only was I seeing impossible things, I was also talking to myself. I closed the door and headed for the living room. Perceptions can be altered in a variety of ways. Perhaps I'd encountered a neurotoxin of some sort. I thought back through my day to see if I'd done anything that could explain the current state of my brain.
I went back to the door, peeked through the window, and saw Mom again. Still not exactly Mom, but a little bit older than she'd been a minute ago.
I pulled open the door, but stepped back so she couldn't grab my arm.
“I'm here from the future,” she said. “I'mâ”
Collapse, zoom, bye.
I closed the door. But I stayed where I was. Whoever I'd encountered, she seemed to have a very limited time to give me her message. I wanted to help maximize that time.
“I'm you,” she said, the instant the door opened. I guess she knew I'd already gotten the first message, about how she was from the future.
She went on. “I don't have much time.” Her eyes drifted from me, and she said, “We keep extending the duration. It's all based on synchronizing subatomic particles with the right harmonics. Pretty fascinating. Anyhow, I need to tell youâ”
Collapse, zoom, bye.
So that's why she looked like Mom, but had Dad's eyes. She wasn't Mom. She was me from the future.
Some kids would have a hard time believing time travel was possible. Not me. I was fascinated by it. Ever since I was little and discovered science, I've wanted to work on something spectacular and world-changing when I got out of college, like teleportation or immortality. I loved the idea that I grew up to work on time travel. And, as for proof that she was really me and not someone playing an elaborate joke, the way sheâI mean IÂ â¦ or maybe we?âgot distracted was exactly how I acted.
I stayed where I was, with the door open. I wanted to see her, I mean me, arrive.
As I expected, her arrival was like the zooming departure played in reverse. A bright dot shot toward me from forty-five degrees above the horizon, expanding until it became my future self on the porch.
This time, I grabbed her arm. “Get right to the message!” I said. I shivered at the possibilities a message from the future could contain. She could tell me what stock to buy, or what boy to watch out for, or even which college to go to.
But if she warned me about something, wouldn't that change the future? And then, what if, because of that change, I didn't invent time travel?
Or what if she gave me the secret to time travel! What an amazing paradox. I invent time travel, and then go back to tell myself how to invent time travel. I loved the way that idea twisted reality into a pretzel, or a MÃ¶bius strip. I imagined infinite loops of time and space.
I realized she'd been talking. And I hadn't been listening.
Collapse, zoom, bye.
I waited for the next visit. She was older than Mom this time. A lot older. It sort of creeped me out to see myself as an old lady, but it also comforted me to know that I'd live a long life.
“Alexis,” she said, grabbing my arm.
“You left your fudge bar on the counter. It's melting and dripping all over the floor. And Mom is coming home early. Hurry. Go clean up your mess.”
Collapse, zoom, bye.
That was it? A lifetime spent developing and improving time travel, and “your fudge bar is melting” is the message I gave myself?
Oh, fudge. I guess I'd put it down when the bell rang.
As I headed for the kitchen to see what was left of my fudgy treat, I started thinking about giving myself a more useful message when it was my turn to come back. The fudge bar had already dripped down the side of the counter and onto the linoleum. I grabbed a paper towel.
Wait a minuteÂ â¦
The only reason I'd put the fudge bar down in the first place was because the doorbell rang. And the only reason the doorbell rang was because I'd come back to warn myself about the fudge bar. But if the future me had never come back, the present me wouldn't have needed a warning. I'd caused myself to do the very thing I'd warned myself about. And wouldn't it have been smarter to come back to a time before I took the fudge bar out of the freezer, so I could stop it from happening?
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the front door. This time, it was opened with a key. Mom came in and went directly to the kitchen.
I stood there, paper towel in hand. I hadn't had a chance to clean up the drips yet.
“Alexis!” Mom shouted. “Look at that mess. You are grounded.”
“It's not my fault,” I said.
Mom stared at me.
“Not yet, at least,” I said.
Mom shook her head and walked out of the kitchen.
I realized there was no way I could explain things to her. So I got to work cleaning up my mess. This mess, at least. I'd have to wait to see how I dealt with the time-travel mess when it was my turn to go back to talk to myself. But I was sort of eager to find out.
It's great being rich.
I feel sorry for kids who can't have everything they want. My dad has billions. Really. Not like when someone says, “I have a billion comic books.” No. It's like my tutor, Leonard, taught me. When you're just using
to mean “a whole lot,” that's a figurative expression. But, with my Dad, when I say
, it's literal. He has at least two billion dollars. He buys me anything I want. Because, really, you can spend five or ten million without making any sort of dent in a billion.
If I wanted my own castle, I could have it. If I wanted a tank that could totally blow the castle to bits, I could have that, too. And I did.
So, when I heard about DinoShoot Adventures, and told Dad I wanted to do that, he said sure. It didn't matter that it cost twelve million dollars. For him, that was pocket change.
Dad was too busy to go with me to set things up, so he had Marsdon, our head butler, escort me to DinoShoot headquarters. Dad had already wired the money to them. They were real nice to me when I walked in. I'm used to that. Anyone who isn't nice to me is going to hear about it from Dad. One time, people were snotty to me in a clothing store, so Dad bought the store and fired all the employees. I stood by the door and watched as they left. Two of the women were crying. I enjoyed seeing them get the treatment they deserved.
When we got to DinoShoot, a receptionist sent us right in to the main office. “Welcome, Kenneth,” a man in a nicely tailored suit and light-blue silk shirt said. “I'm Mr. Fuller. I'll be helping you select the subject of your Primordial Harvesting Experience.”
Primordial Harvesting Experience?
That didn't sound like fun. “I'm here to blow away a dinosaur,” I said. I held up my hands like I was clutching a rifle, and I fired off a shot. “Bang!”
“Of course,” he said. “That's exactly the experience we offer. You will be able to harvestâI mean, blow awayâthe dinosaur of your choice. Do you have a species in mind, or would you like to browse the offerings?” He pointed to a touch screen that covered most of the wall behind his desk. It was filled with photographs of dinosaurs.
But I'd already given my choice a lot of thought. The tyrannosaurus is the best-known carnivore, except maybe for the velociraptors from
. And the brontosaurus, or apatosaurus, is the biggest commonly known dinosaur. But hunting a huge herbivore would be like going after an enormous cow. It wouldn't be the kind of thrill I needed. I wanted to combine large and dangerous, and take on the biggest carnivore. That would give me a trophy my friends would envy.