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           It was a beautiful day on the south side of Planet Parnesia; the red sun shining brightly over the town of Hooplank within the Ninth District. In a small 2-storey home on the East side of town lived a young boy named Sherman Slughorn. Sherman was different from the rest of the kids in his town; his eyes were bigger, his head a little larger and he had 6 tentacles instead of four like the others of his species. It made him somewhat introverted and he did not socialize with the other Tentaclasties. His only true friends were Billy Bisscus, Phillip Frogernite, and a girl by the name of Ginger Jacklesprat. None of them treated Sherman like an outsider because of the way he looked. There was, however, one boy who went to the same school as Sherman who made a point of bullying him daily. This bully, Jacob Juggernaut, would call Sherman all sorts of insulting names like “Sherman Swelled Head”, or “Sherman Sluglegs” and even though Sherman didn’t retaliate against Jacob’s insults, it hurt him deep inside. Sherman had never done a thing to Jacob growing up and couldn’t figure out why he treated him so badly every day.

           One day in class, the teacher, Mrs. Catchastar asked Sherman to come up to the front of the class and explain basic Quantum Physics. Sherman was a bright student and the teacher knew that he would answer correctly, but as he stood up, Jacob spits ink out from one of his tentacles and it splashed across the backside of Sherman. Many of the students laughed and Sherman politely asked the teacher if he could go get cleaned up in the restroom and she agreed. Jacob continued to laugh as Sherman left the classroom, but after he walked out, he could hear Mrs. Catchastar yell at Jacob and told him to go see the Principal.

           After Sherman returned to class, Mrs. Catchastar announced that the class was to be going on a trip to the Tentaclastic History Museum which was going to take them through Boldly Bog, or as the locals nicknamed it, “Bloody Bog” due to the many disappearances of travelers who had wandered through there. Each student had to have a permission slip signed by a parent or guardian giving consent and return it the next day. Sherman loved history and was excited about going on the trip. He thought that this may give him a chance to get away from Jacob for at least one day. He rarely ever goes on the class trips, so it was unlikely he would go to one to learn about history.

           That afternoon after school while Sherman was walking outside, he heard a man yelling at someone. He peeked his head around the corner and saw Jacob’s dad yelling at him about getting in trouble in class again. He held Jacob with both hands and shook him, calling him an idiot, a loser, and a good-for-nothing punk. Sherman had never seen Jacob frightened about anything before, but he had terror in his eyes at that moment. Now he understood why Jacob acted the way that he did; it is because of the way that his father treats him.

           The following day, the students started handing in their permission slips to the teacher and once they were all collected, she told the class to line up and stand by the classroom door if they were going. Sherman got in line and looked to see who was left behind and after a brief scan of the room, he saw that everyone was standing in line…even Jacob. Sherman sighed with disappointment, It looks like his trip won’t be as enjoyable as he had hoped. The teacher had led the students to the front of the school where a shuttle was waiting for them. They all boarded and took a seat. As Sherman passed Jacob, one of Jacob’s tentacles had shot out and tripped Sherman sending him plummeting hard onto the floor of the shuttle. He stood up and glared back at Jacob who sat there and laughed shouting, “What’s the matter Slug Brain, too many tentacles to walk with?” Sherman walked to the back of the shuttle without saying a word. He was still feeling sorry for him after what he had witnessed between Jacob and his father.

           The shuttle started on the 30-minute journey to the museum but as they were half-way through Boldly Bog, the shuttle lost power and crashed on the edge of the bog. Bubbles of steaming mud burped out of the ground and foul-smelling gases filled the air. Not many creatures lived in this swampy area, but rumor has it, the ground will swallow up anyone who gets too close. The driver of the bus radioed in for help and then asked all of the students to wait on the shuttle while he checks out the damage. After returning, he determined that he was going to need to jack up the shuttle in the back to work on the thrusters, so all of the students were asked to wait with Mrs. Catchastar off to the side while the driver removed debris that had been sucked into the manifold. They did as instructed, but Jacob began to get restless and curious about his surroundings, so he snuck away silently. Sherman saw him go and although he may not like Jacob, he didn’t want to see anything happen to him. He nudged his friends, Billy, Phillip, and Ginger, and had motioned for them to follow.

           They trekked across the wet, sludge-like ground in search of Jacob, following his footprints which disappeared quickly on the wet ground. The trees started to become denser now and the light of the red sun quickly began to diminish. They couldn’t go much further in, Sherman thought, or else they would run out of light altogether. Suddenly ahead, they heard a scream. It sounded like Jacob yelling for help. The four students moved as quickly as possible towards the voice and found him in a clearing. His tentacles were completely submerged in the muddy bog and he wasn’t able to move. Each time he attempted to escape, he sunk deeper. First, Phillip ran towards Jacob and attempted to reach for him, but as he neared, Phillip began to sink. Ginger had a crush on Phillip and didn’t want to see anything happen to him, so she went next, but like Phillip, she began to sink. Billy thought about it first and grabbed hold of a long branch which he stretched out to Ginger and told her to grab on, but as she did, a piece of the branch had broken off and Billy had to move in closer for her to reach. That is when Billy’s tentacles began to submerge as well. Sherman looked around and knew that he had to think of something soon, or his friends would all be swallowed up. Using two of his tentacles, Sherman was able to wrap them tightly around a strong tree close to the center of each of the students and then he stretched out his remaining four tentacles and told each of them to grab on. Jacob wasn’t able to remove his tentacles from the mud, so Sherman asked Phillip to hold onto Jacob and try to pull him out of the mud, so with two tentacles latched on tightly to Sherman, Phillip used his remaining two limbs to break Jacob free from his muddy prison. Each of them climbed Sherman’s tentacles like a rope and pulled themselves to safety with the last being Jacob. He apologized to Sherman for the way he had been treating him and promised to never do it again. Sherman gladly accepted his apology and during their journey back to the shuttle, Sherman confronted Jacob about his dad. Sherman told him that if he ever needed someone to talk to about it, that he would always be there to listen. Jacob pointed out the fact that if it wasn’t for Sherman’s quick thinking and extra tentacles, there is no telling what would have happened. “I owe you my life Sherman,” Jacob said, “and if there is ever anyone bothering you, then you just let me know and I will take care of the problem for you, okay?” The boys smiled at their newfound friendship, as they neared the shuttle. They could hear Mrs. Catchastar and the students calling out their names as they approached and Phillip called back to say they were coming.

           Once the shuttle was repaired and they had reached the museum, Jacob and Sherman seemed to be inseparable. Jacob was even asking Sherman to explain the history of some of the displays that they had walked past. It was exactly what each boy needed, just a little understanding, and from that day forth, Jacob was able to help Sherman work on his physical abilities while Sherman helped Jacob bring up his grades in school. The five friends started hanging out and with the help of Ginger’s dad who worked in Child Services, Jacob’s dad was arrested and his custody was taken away. Since Jacob’s mom was no longer around, Sherman’s parents offered Jacob a place to stay and took him in as a foster child. Sherman now had a brother that he could play with, learn with and confide in and Jacob now had a family that he could count on and had no need to fear. Who would have ever thought that the town bully and the town misfit would ever become the best of friends?

 

The End.

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2 comments

C. jay Loren
06:28 May 18, 2020

I really liked this story. I think it was a sweet story about friendship and goes over that golden rule of "treat others how you want to be treated."

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Greg Gillis
18:29 May 18, 2020

Thank you so much. I do try adding a moral to some of my stories when possible. I'm glad you enjoyed it. 😁

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