“I can't believe this!” Derrek said. “I can't believe I have to write an essay on forest fires in three days!” He walked across Mr. Wooten’s lawn while his Converse crunched the brown leaves.
“Hey, you miserable cockroach. Get off my grass!!”
“OK, sorry, Mr. Wooten.”
“If you were really sorry, you’d stay off!”
“OK, I will. Go back in your house now.”
With a grunt, he complied.
“Jerk,” he uttered as he walked in his driveway. As he trudged up to his house, a cold gust of air blew on him. “Figures. It’s gonna be a warm day, so break out those short shorts and tank tops!” He mocked the meteorologist. “Well, Fred Flintstone, it ain't warm.” Derrek called the TV weatherman that because he had once worn an orange blazer with black dots on the air. He might as well have just clicked his feet and yelled, “Yabba dabba doo!” Derrek would have burst out laughing.
He continued towards his house and stopped. “What the…” He ran up to the door and gaped at the hole to the side of the door. There was a hole the size of a shoebox in the bricks of the wall. “I keep warning mom we have a termite problem but does she listen?” Peering into the hole, Derrek saw a green box. A small lamp illuminated the space. “Woah!” He stared at the mysterious green box. It was wooden and about the size of a Rubik’s cube. He took a deep breath, then slowly reached in.
The box opened and a tiny old man hopped out.
Derrek let out a yelped, pulling his hand back.
The old man rubbed his white handlebar mustache then yawned. “Man, why did you wake me up?!”
“Ya heard me! You woke me up!”
“Man, are you deaf?!”
“Then, why did you wake me up?”
“There was a hole in my house, so I—“
“Oh. Just because there's a hole in your house, you open my sleep chamber and wake me up?”
“I-I… Who are you?”
“I’m sorry I woke you up.”
“Oh, you're sorry?”
“It's too late for apologies, now that you woke me up!”
“Fine, I’m going!” Derrek turned around.
“Wait!” exclaimed the tiny old man.
“Can you get me some nachos?”
“I want nachos.”
“To eat, stupid!”
“You have a bad attitude!”
“Fine!” he said and started waving his hands while shouting, “WoWeE-WO WEE-WO”, like an ambulance.
“What the Hell are you doing?”
“OK, well… I’m gonna leave you to whatever—AAAAAHHHHH!”
A cockroach the size of a Great Dane leaped at Derrek’s face. He jumped back.
“You deserve this after being mean to me…"
The roach looked at Derrek and uttered a loud hiss. Car alarms went off as Derrek covered his ears.
“Aw, hell!” the old man exclaimed. He waved his hands like before while saying, “Oh we yu, yeeeooooh-u.” It reminded Derrek of the Wicked Witch’s guards in The Wizard of Oz. The roach shrank back to normal size and skittered away.
“My friend’s gonna freak when I tell him about you!”
“No, you can’t tell anyone about me or my secret place! I hate a lot of visitors… Always asking annoying questions, eating my food…””
“Your place?! This is MY house!” Derrek exclaimed.
“OK, OK, I’ll make a deal; get me nachos and I’ll leave.”
“Why do you want nachos so bad?”
“I love them, OK?!”
“OK, I’ll go get nachos!” Derrek rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, go to 7-11 and buy some nachos.”
“You don’t have nachos?”
“Is everything OK?”
“Can I go get the nachos now?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Ae you deaf?”
“No, what are fire lions?”
“Lions made of fire.”
“Thanks, that helps.”
“Welcome, my name is Tobb by the way.”
“Tobb? What kind of name is that?”
Tobb open his mouth to answer but Derrek said, “Nevermind, I don’t wanna know. I’ll go.”
“Well, aren’t you the rude one now?”
“Whatever, bye!” Derrek jogged towards his green bike.
“Fine, be a snotty brat, just like the rest of the human race!”
Choosing to ignore the tiny old man’s remark, Derrek said, “I’ll be right back.” He ran to his bike (which he’d carelessly left on its side by the garage), hopped on and pedaled off.
“Where are you goin’ in such a damn hurry?” Mr. Wooten huffed, watering his lawn.
Ten minutes later, Derrek parked his bike and ran into 7-11.
Cold air greeted him as he walked to the snack aisle. “Nachos… nachos…” His eyes scanned both sides of the aisle as he walked down. He found the plastic boxes of warm chips and had just started covering them with nacho cheese sauce when he happened to look out the window. “What the…”
Black creatures flew towards the store. They were as big as pick-up trucks – the ones with extended cabs. A woman with black hair looked who was pouring a Slurpy looked outside and gasped. As the animals approached the store, Derrek figured out what they were.
“What the...” a woman wearing a bright yellow dress uttered.
“’Am I hallucinating?”
“Somebody call nine-one-one!”
“No, Animal Control!”
The lions landed in the parking lot and roared: they raised their fiery red tails and whapped the pavement. The ground shook as glass shattered. Screams filled the store as the lions started walking toward it. Derrek felt his heart pound as he looked around. What am I going to do? he thought as the beasts jumped through the broken windows. They licked their chops with their flaming tongues. Low roars emerged from their larynxes as they inched closer.
Shutting his eyes, Derrek prepared for the worst. One lion let loose an earsplitting roar and jumped on a man wearing a Sonic the Hedgehog shirt.
Derrek opened his eyes as the lion ripped the man’s head off. His stomach churned. The lion ripped open the man’s belly and started eating the innards, blood flying everywhere.
“Enough of this crap!” the voice of Tobb exclaimed and Derrek was back at his front door.
“Oh, good, you got my nachos!” Tobb said and grabbed the box from a terrified Derrek. He took the lid off the box and started in on the nachos.
“Who’s that you’re talking to?” Mr. Wooten called out, walking across his lawn.
“Don’t look like ‘nobody’.”
“I’m talking to myself,” Derrek replied as Mr. Wooten came over.
He placed a hand on the Derrek’s shoulder. “You OK, Derrek?”
“Getting A‘s in school?”
“Mostly? What do you mean ‘mostly?’”
“I don’t have time to talk now?”
“I have a paper to write.”
“Why are you outside then?”
“Uh, I don’t know.”
“You don’t know why you’re outside?”
“Uh… I’m going for a walk?”
Mr Wooten stared at him for a minute, then said, “Alright, enjoy your walk.” He walked back towards his house, then turned. “Stay out of trouble, ya hear?” He saluted Derrek then turned.
How old does he think I am? Ten?
“I’m going to go take a nap.”
“OK, Mr. Wooten, have a good nap.”
He smiled and gave Derrek another salute. He turned and went into his house.
Once Tobb and Derrek heard the door close, Tobb winced. “UGH! His kind is the worst!” Tobb took a deep breath in disgust. “All Dudley Do-Right and cra…”
Derrek flicked him down. “He may be Dudley Do-Right, but at least he’s not you!”
“Whats that s’posed to mean?” Tobb shot back, then looked up.
Two Fire Lions were flying in the blue sky. They swooped and grazed the treetops. They uttered roars that made Derrek and Tobb cover their ears to little effect. Then the big black cats flew towards the house and landed in the middle of the driveway. They growled ominously.
“No, kitty, these are my nachos!” Tobb whined and held the box to his chest.
“Uh, dude…” Derrek said.
One of the fire lions roared.
“No kitty, you can’t have any!”
The other growled.
“No kitty, that’s a bad kitty!”
“CRAZY OLD DUDE WITH A WEIRD NACHO FIXATION!”
“I don’t think the ‘kitties’ want your nachos.”
“Of course he does; just look at his hungry eyes. And my name is Tobb. I told you—“
“They’re not hungry for nachos!”
“Howe do you know that?” Tobb asked, then gasped. “Are you psychic?”
“Man, are you for real?” Derrek looked at the old man and scoffed.
Before Tobb could answer, one of the lions uttered a noise in annoyance then jumped on the tiny man, knocking him down. It roared in his face.
“Oh, it's like that, is it?” the old man said and spat In the black beast’s mane.
The fire lion roared, its eyes blaring red with hatred.
“Man, stop messing around! That thing is gonna kill you!”
“No, it won’t.”
“Yes, it will! Just look at its murderous eyes!”
“You’re right! Eep! It will kill me! Bye!” The old man ran to Derrek’s house.
“Hey where are you going?” Derrek shouted as the fire lion chased the tiny elderly man. It reminded Derrek of Tom and Jerry. “Except Jerry’s the idiot,” he sighed.
The fire lion chomped as it got close. The old man yelped and leapt forward. “Little help here?” he asked, but Derrek couldn’t hear him over the growls of the fire lions.
He made it to the wall and jumped up in the hole. Get in.”
Before Derrek realized it, he floated up. “Hey!” he protested. He flew straight to the hole. Then, his body scrunched up in the little area.
A lamp sat in the corner, lighting the place up.
“Mi casa no es tu casa,” the elderly man said, wagging his finger in Derrek’s face.
“This isn’t your house,” Derrek pointed out. “What about the lions? How do we stop them?”
“Cats like milk, don’t they?”
He went to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. “We’ll give them milk.”
“That’s it,” the old man said.
“The only way to get rid of the lions from Hell is to give them milk!?”
“Hey, they’re not from Hell!... They’re from Dimension one oh one.”
“Dimension one oh one is entirely made of fire! Everywhere you go is just… well, fire!”
“What? That’s insane! How can anything live there?”
“The fire lions are coated with a special jelly that wards off fire.”
“That’s amazing! So are you saying they can’t catch fire?”
“And milk kills them?”
“I don’t know; I lied to get nachos.”
“SCREW YOU!” Derrek shrieked and it became cold. “Hey, why is it cold all of the sudden?” He crossed his arms and rubbed them.
“Uh-oh,” Tobb said.
“Oh, it’s nothing really,” he said, but his eyes darted side to side like something was indeed wrong.
“Is everything OK?... besides the lions trying to kill us?”
“Yes, why wouldn’t they be?”
“You’re acting very strange; stranger than normal..”
A pile of snow appeared in midair.
“What the Hell?” Derrek blurted out.
“We’ve seen enough; let’s amscray!” He made a mad dash for the door. but the snow pile soared in front of him.
“Tobb Nobb Robb Pobb!... You lazy sack of dog food!” a female voice exclaimed and a blue woman made of ice appeared in front of Derrek and Tobb. She wore a blue dress with matching high heels. Her long blue hair was braided all the way down, and she wore a red and blue crown that looked like an icicle.
“Yeah, yeah,” Tobb said.
“Don’t get that way with me. Why haven’t you brought the Fire Lions back to their dimension?!”
“I’m working on it… “I’m working on it …”
The ice lady huffed, then looked at the boy. “Who are you?”
“Derrek… I like that name; you have a strong aura.”
“I see you’re unsure about my presence.”
The snow queen laughed. “It’s OK, I’m here to help you kick those fire lions’ asses!”
A small smile creased Derrek’s face.
“Come forth, young man,” the snow princess said, pointing at him.
Derrek stepped forward.
Without any warning, she grabbed him, tilted his head back, and breathed cold into his mouth.
Derrek’s skin turned blue. His hair became lime green.
Derrek stepped outside. The fire lions stared at him.
“You want a fight?” Derrek opened his hand and a ball of ice appeared. “I’ll give you a fight!” He smiled as he heaved the ice ball, the fire lions roared as they swerved out of the way: the ice ball hit the pavement, splattering into pieces.
Snow streamed out after the lion as it took off into the air. Derrek moved his hand; the stream of snow follow the lions
“Get them, bratty teenager!” Tobb exclaimed, and the Snow Princess whacked him with her staff.
“Quiet, you fool!”
“You know, you’re rude!” Tobb rubbed his head.
The fire lions made loops in the sky while spraying fire.
Derrek avoided the fire rings and shot snow. The lions zoomed and opened their mouths. They bit down on Derrek’s blue arm. Derrek screamed and kicked the beast, making it yelp and let go. Blue blood dripped from his wound. “You’ll pay for that!” he said and punched the beast. It staggered back as blue ice stuck to its fur. The second lion growled and charged at Derrek.
Derrek soared out its path and kicked the lion in the ribs. It roared and snapped its head to the side. Derrek looked at the sleeve of his ice-blue shirt and said, “Hey, that was my favorite shirt!”
“It was ugly on you anyway!” Tobb called out.
The fire lions growled at each other, as though they were communicating.
“Hey, what are you doing now?!” Derrek demanded.
Then they seemed to merge together.
“What the—“ Derrek began as the two beasts swirled and swirled… until they disappeared.
Derrek looked behind as the fireball consumed him.
“NO!” bellowed the Snow Princess.
In a flash, the fireball turned back into the lions.
“NO, NO, NO! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!”
The fire lions roared in triumph.
“All hope is lost.”
“Why is it lost?” Tobb asked and jammed a handful of crushed nachos into his tiny mouth.
“You’re right!” The snow princess flew up. She thrust her arms out and a thick stream of snow shot out.
The lions roared and swerved out of the way. The snow stream turned and hit both beasts. They fell to the concrete.
“Are they dead?” Tobb asked and the snow princess walked to them.
“Yes, they are.” She waved her hand and the bodies vanished.
“What about the boy?”
And as Tobb said that, Derrek appeared in the sky. He floated down as Tobb and the Snow Princess smiled.
“Miss me huh?”
Before the Snow Princess or Tobb could reply, Mr. Wooten shouted, “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!?”