A Sad Day for Club G.R.O.S.S
By Amber Marshall

Hobbes stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of the cardboard box. "Not again," he thought as he moved closer. Calvin hadn't noticed him yet; he was busy arranging things in the box. Calvin was wearing a pair of goggles on his head. That could only mean one thing.

"Hobbes!" Calvin exclaimed, looking up. "There you are! I thought I'd have to make this expedition by myself."

"What expedition?" Hobbes asked cautiously.

"Well, in all the times we used the time machine, we've always gone back to prehistoric times, and we never ended up going to the future, so we're going today."

"Oh no!" Hobbes protested, backing away. "You're not dragging me into this one, buddy. Every one of your hare-brained time-machine trips has almost ended in disaster. Not to mention that the first time you tried to go to the future, we ended up almost getting eaten by a dinosaur because we went into the past because we were facing the wrong way--" Hobbes finished his run-on sentence and gasped for breath.

"Oh get in, you big sissy," Calvin scoffed. "Or better yet, stay here, and I'll eat these tuna sandwiches by myself."

Hobbes' nose twitched. "Tuna?" he asked, brightening, his face breaking into a grin. "Well why didn't you say so?" he asked, hopping into the box and putting on his goggles.

"All right!" Calvin shouted, jumping in the box as well. "Put on your goggles and prepare for warp speed, Hobbes!" Suddenly there was a flash of light, and they were speeding through space-time. Hobbes clung to the sides of the box for support, feeling his stomach lurch. He never liked this part of the trip. Calvin laughed and hung onto the front, steering them past sizzling chunks of whatever, dodging wormholes, and generally having the time of his life.

"I think we're almost there, Hobbes," he shouted behind his shoulder as their speed decreased. With a pop, they were again sitting on the front lawn in a cardboard box.

"Now what?" Hobbes asked.

"Let's go inside and see Mom," Calvin suggested, hopping out of the box. Hobbes followed. They entered the house and made their way to the kitchen. Calvin's mom was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping coffee and reading the paper. She looked older, with a few wrinkles and more than a few gray hairs. "Hey, Mom!" Calvin shouted. She did not look up; she just took a bite of toast and turned the page. "Mom, stop ignoring me!" Calvin shouted louder, and went up to tug on her sleeve. His hand went right through as though she was a ghost.

"Wait, I remember now," Calvin exclaimed. "I added a matter-light space-time defrabulizer switch to the time machine after the last time we went back in time. You bugged me to do it, remember?" Hobbes shrugged, and Calvin continued, "It was in case we ended up going back to prehistoric times again, so the dinosaurs couldn't eat us. It makes it so we can't interact with any sentient beings in another time. I'm a genius!" Suddenly they heard the thumping of someone coming down the stairs.

"It's about time you got up!" Calvin's mom said. "Even though you don't have a bus to catch, you still have to pick up Susie and get to school on time. She won't like it if you get her to class late."

"I know, Mom," came a voice, and around the corner strode Future Calvin. He was much taller, though his hair hadn't changed much, and he still wore a t-shirt and black jeans.

"Whoa, you got big," Hobbes commented.

"Did you finish your report?" Calvin's mom asked.

"Yeah," Future Calvin replied, "that's why I stayed up so late last night."

"Well good luck with school. You'd better go."

"Ok, see you later, Mom," Future Calvin replied, and left.

"C'mon, we'd better follow him!" Calvin urged Hobbes, and the two ran out the door. Future Calvin had the back passenger door of a little beat-up Volvo open, and was loading his backpack into the back seat. Calvin and Hobbes jumped in before the door shut. Future Calvin hopped in the driver's seat, fired up the engine, and zoomed out of the driveway.

"Cool! I can drive!" Calvin laughed, nudging Hobbes. Hobbes cringed and clutched the door handle.

Future Calvin pulled into a driveway a few houses down, where a brown-haired girl in a jumper waited on the porch. "Why the heck is he pulling into Susie's driveway?" Calvin exclaimed.

"Well, your mom said you had to pick Susie up," Hobbes offered. The girl walked over to the car, opened the passenger side door, and got in. She looked sort of like Susie, Calvin admitted, but much older, probably about the same age as Rosalyn. Her hair was a little bit longer, and her body had more curves, but she was the same Susie.

"Hey, Suze," Future Calvin said, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek.

"You're late," she scolded. "If you make me late to class I'm gonna pound you."

"You'd do that to your own boyfriend? That's partner abuse," Calvin teased her as he backed out of the driveway.

"OOOOOH!" Hobbes whooped. "Muchas smoochas for El ConKISStador! You smooth devil you!"

Calvin was frozen in horror. "Ew!!!" he screamed, grimacing. "You fool!" he shouted at his future self. "She's a GIRL! And even worse, she's SUSIE DERKINS!!! What's wrong with you?!" Calvin, panicking, began to wheeze for air. "I have to get a grip on myself," he said. "I can still change this, the future isn't preordained. Is it?" He grabbed Hobbes' arm and shook him.

"Susie and Calvin sittin' in a tree--" Hobbes sing-songed.

"Why you...!" Calvin exclaimed, jumping him. They tumbled and fought in the back seat all the way to school. Panting and huffing, they realized the car had stopped, and Future Calvin was opening the door again. They hopped out before he closed the door, and followed the pair down the halls.

"Wait, this isn't my school. It's Rosalyn's school. I must be in high school," Calvin realized, passing through the crowded halls easily. Along the way, Future Calvin ran into a huge, hulking boy, with a sloping forehead and dark brown hair that fell over his eyes. He was tall and solidly built.

"Hey Twinkie," the behemoth boomed. Calvin winced; it could be none other than Moe. He stood waiting for the bully to pound Future Calvin into the linoleum.

"Moe, hey!" Future Calvin replied lightheartedly, holding out his hand. He and Moe executed a complex and weird secret-handshake. Calvin gasped in amazement. "Hey, see you later Cal, later Susie," Moe said, turning and walking down the hall.

"You and Moe as friends? I never expected that," Hobbes admitted. Calvin stood stock-still, mouth agape. Hobbes nudged him along, and they resumed following Calvin's future self.

They finally ended up in a classroom. Future Susie and Calvin slid into two desks in the front. More amazed by the minute, Calvin made his way to an empty desk right behind them, Hobbes squeezing into the seat beside him. "I trust you all studied the previous chapter in your precalculus book," the teacher said, beginning to write a complex-looking problem on the blackboard. "Who can solve this for me?"

Susie raised her hand. Ignoring her, the teacher chose Future Calvin. Sauntering up to the board, he thought for a moment, and then, taking the chalk, did a few quick calculations and wrote up a number. "That's correct, Calvin, thank you," the teacher praised him. Smiling, Future Calvin sat down.

"I guess those study sessions helped," Susie whispered.

"Yeah, even though we didn't really get much studying done," Future Calvin replied, winking. Susie gave a little giggle.

Calvin and Hobbes followed Calvin's future self for the rest of the day. Calvin was horrified and amazed at how different the future was, and determined to prevent it from happening. "This is terrible, Hobbes!" he cried as they got in the car at the end of the day. "What happened to me?"

"I guess you matured," Hobbes guessed. "Although I find it hard to believe myself," he added, rolling his eyes.

When they got into Susie's driveway again, Future Calvin shut off the car. "Oh no, don't kiss again!" Calvin shouted, closing his eyes.

Susie laughed. "What's so funny?" Future Calvin asked.

"I was just thinking about how strange it is, us being together, after how much you tormented me back in grade school," Susie mused.

"Ah, I had a crush on you back then," Future Calvin admitted. "I was just too scared to say anything."

"Liar!!" Calvin hollered. Hobbes snickered, and Calvin punched him in the arm. Susie smiled, and she and Future Calvin shared a long kiss. Calvin, in the back seat, began to make gagging noises as Hobbes started the "sitting in a tree" song (changing it to "sitting in a car," which killed the rhyme scheme). Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Susie got out of the car, Future Calvin started it up again, and returned to his house. Calvin and Hobbes hopped out of the back seat, ran across the lawn, and hopped in the time machine with much relief.

"Let's get outta here!" Calvin gasped, shoving his goggles onto his head and blasting off.

Soon they were back in the present, sitting in the box and trying to come to grips with the horror of it all. "Hobbes, it's a sad day for G.R.O.S.S.ness, that's for sure," Calvin declared.

"Can I have my sandwich now?" Hobbes asked hopefully.

"Yeah, whatever," Calvin sighed. Hobbes gleefully dug in. "What am I going to do?"

Suddenly, Calvin felt a smack on the back of his head. "Ow! Hobbes, what are you--?"

"You little stinker!" came the whiny voice of Susie Derkins. Calvin whirled around to see her, steaming mad, clutching a paper heart. "I got your stupid Valentine! What kind of sicko are you anyway?" she yelled, reading the paper:

"Roses are red
Violets are blue
Even if you were dead
No one would miss you."

"I'm telling!" she shouted, running for Calvin's front door.

Calvin turned to Hobbes and smiled. "Well," he said, "it's a start."