"Hey, Hey, Hey! We're here!"
Last time Dad said this, at least Michelle was excited. This time, there was nothing but silence in the back seat. He looked back, and saw Jason and Michelle, both fourteen now, looking like they would rather be anywhere but here.
"Why are you guys acting like you hate Grandmum's house? You used to love it here! You came back with all sorts of stories about planting the garden, eating grapes with seeds, and let's not forget those stories about penguins and a rocket ship!"
"That was years ago, Dad!" Michelle snapped. "We were just kids that had probably had too many cookies when we imagined those stories!" Dad didn't have a chance to respond before Grandmum came out ready to give the twins a hug. She knew something was up when neither of the twins were even out of the van yet.
"Hello? Is anyone in there?" she asked, though she knew the answer.
"You know, Trevor's allowed to stay home alone this summer, and we wouldn't be completely alone," Jason commented as he was getting out of the van. "We're twins, whether we liked it or not, we'd have each other!"
"Look Michelle: You are not too old to stay at Grandmum's house, and Jason: You are not old enough to stay home alone for the entire summer," Dad said as he quickly tried to end the conversation. All Grandmum could do was stare at the twins. Michelle had traded her high dog-ears for a headband and loose hair. Her usual glasses were gone, and instead she had on contacts that made her eyes an incredibly fake blue. Michelle was still wearing a blue t-shirt, but there was no flower and with it, a white vest and jeans. Jason hadn't changed much, but his hair was a little longer. The last time Grandmum saw him, she had said that his hair needed a trim. She did not make that mistake this time. Both twins were taller, and she couldn't help but wish they were the kids they were the last summer they stayed with her.
"Look, I've got a plane to catch. Have a good summer!" With that, Dad drove away.
"Oh, he was always in a rush. Come on you two! I've got cookies."
"I can't believe Dad would just leave us! Even after we made that very convincing argument!"
Jason just watched his sister, waiting for her rant to be over. They were having the cookies in the living room, just as they had summers before. Teenagers or not, everyone loves cookies.
"Now don't blame your father," Grandmum stated as she entered with more cookies. "You know what the good book says: "Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise— "so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
"What does that even mean?" Jason asked, knowing Grandmum would teach a lesson even if he didn't ask.
"You may not agree with what your father does, but he is still your father. He's trying his hardest, and you two are not making it easier." Point 1: Grandmum, Michelle thought. Quickly, Michelle thought of an escape before she was two ahead.
"Let's check out the attic!" Jason quickly followed, glad to escape as well.
As both of them went up through the hole in the guest bedroom ceiling, just as they had years before, both of them hit their heads.
"Have we really gotten that much taller?" Michelle asked, making sure her carefully styled hair was still in place. Jason didn't respond, because he was looking at the old telescope that had been up there as long as they could both remember. It had been moved, as if someone wanted to look at something specifically.
"Michelle, has Dad been here without us anytime?"
"Not a chance!"
"Well Grandmum definitely cannot climb that ladder anymore to move the telescope!" Michelle noticed what Jason was talking about. Both teens quickly went over to the telescope, not sure what to think.
"Maybe Grandmum needed roof repairs and the workers accidentally bumped it!"
"Not likely Jason. If there were repairs that needed to be made, Dad would have fixed it!" It went on like this for a few minutes, until another voice was made known.
"Jason T. Conrad and Michelle Francis Conrad!" Both looked behind them at the familiar voice coming from a toy flying spaceship. Inside was a penguin, who was clearly talking to them. "We need your help!" Faster than they could even figure out what was going on, the captain had shouted farther back into the ship, "Dr. Fidgel: Galeezle them!" Both of the siblings were then pulled into the ship by a device very similar to a grappling hook. "Nice job Dr. Fidgel!"
After recovering from a slight crash landing, both Jason and Michelle were reminded of the interior of the ship. Four penguins all hurried to help them up.
"Umm… That isn't Jason and Michelle," the shortest one commented.
"Of course it is, Midgel! All they are is a little taller. Look! Michelle still refuses to wear her glasses!" the captain told him.
"I don't need them anymore! I got contact lenses!" Suddenly realizing what the first thing she said was, she turned toward Jason. "It's official: Grandmum and Dad have driven us to insanity!"
"Either that or you're daydreaming," Midgel commented.
"Wow, second déjà vu from that one line!" the tallest one thought about.
"Amazing. Simply amazing. These are defiantly Jason and Michelle by my readings, but they look completely different." A skinny penguin with glasses kept circling them.
"Do you think maybe we hit our heads on the attic roof and passed out, kind of like in The Wizard of Oz?" Michelle whispered to Jason.
"Goodness! They don't remember us! This can't be them. The Jason and Michelle we're looking for would never forget us… Would they?" The one with glasses stopped circling them and simply stared at them.
"We remember who you are, Fidgel, we just thought you were from a game or a dream that we both had because we're twins." The other three penguins started staring at Jason, trying to make since of what he said.
"Prove to us that you are the real Jason and Michelle. What are our names?" the captain demanded.
"Well, dreams never ask us to prove anything, so that theory's out," Michelle whispered to her brother, but if he even noticed, he didn't act like it.
"You're Zidgel, the one with glasses is Fidgel, the short one is Midgel, and the tall one is Kevin!" As soon as Jason finished, a cheer rose from the penguins.
Zidgel regained his composure and gained control. "Okay, now that that is settled, Midgel: to Planet Honor-and-Grow!"
Midgel broke from the celebration, and went to the driver's seat. After making sure that everything was ready to go, he hit a button on his panel as he shouted his usual lift-off signal.
Suddenly, a little tree appeared next to him. Midgel took a small pair of clippers, and trimmed off a branch sticking out of the trunk. He accidentally trimmed a little too close, and the tree fell. He shrugged, and put his foot on the gas. He carefully steered the ship out of a hole in the attic roof and out to the skies above.
"So, where are we going?" Michelle asked.
"We are going to the planet of Honor-and-Grow. The way the kids grow up is by honoring their parents. Unfortunately, many of the kids are hitting their teen years, so there isn't much honoring at all." Fidgel went back to messing with his panel.
"If the teens don't start honoring their parents, they won't grow up so they will die out" Midgel continued the explanation.
"That is why we are going to help settle things," Zidgel finished.
"How exactly does that work?" Jason asked.
"That... is one of the reasons we are going there. They've never had this happen before, so they need some outside help." Zidgel never completely understood the missions himself, but he never said something that was not true.
Michelle, still not quite believing that this was really happening, asked "So, why do you need us? If you thought we would still be kids, why did you think we would be helpful?"
Fidgel thought for a moment before answering. "You to had an innocence that made you know what was right before you even realized that you knew. Although, it may help that with this circumstance that you two can perhaps relate to them."
"Coming up on planet Honor-and-Grow!" Midgel shouted back to the rest of the team. "Zidgel's turn to try some landing gear!" Zidgel stood up proudly while everyone else hurried to buckle up. He boldly went to the door in the front and pulled out a giant container of Hairspray. As the door opened he sat on the top and watched the hairspray soak the ground underneath and the front of the ship. As the ship hit the ground, it stuck fast, removing a lot of sliding. While everyone else was coming out, Zidgel soaked the hairspray to let the ship go free when ready for takeoff.
"Well done captain," complimented Fidgel. "Not the procedure I would have chosen, but effective all the same."
Zidgel puffed out his chest in pride. "Why thank you Dr. Fidgel! Now let's figure this out."
Midgel turned to the twins. "If you were looking for a bunch of teenagers, where would you go?"
Almost immediately, the twins made up their minds.
Zidgel, being the captain, came up with a plan. "Okay, here's what we're going to do: Michelle, Kevin, and I will go check out the mall; Jason, Midgel, and Fidgel will go see the arcade." Both teams went their ways, ready for the task at hand.
At the arcade, Jason was amazed at the creatures there. All of the teenagers looked like humans, but the boys' skin color was a dark blue. The girls' skin was as pink as pink cotton candy. He looked around, and the clothes were from all sorts of different teen rebellion generations. He saw everything from Civil War attire where it was scandalous for the girls' skirts to be above their ankles, to his own time with boys wearing saggy pants. Cowering in a corner, a group of teenagers in appropriate clothes took turns playing one beat up game.
"Hey you!" a tall, muscular boy came up to Jason. He wore clothes of rebellion in the fifties: white t-shirt, a black leather jacket, and black pants. His look was completed with hair frozen slicked back with too much hairspray. "You don't look like you're dressed for any rebellion. Get over there with those nerds!"
"Now, wait a minute," Midgel stepped in. "We just want to know what's going on."
A girl in the feminine rebellion clothes of the fifties (to Jason, it looked like a shiny track suit) came up behind the boy. "Come on, Rusty! Let's just get on with our date." With that, the two went away into a back room of the arcade.
Jason stealthily snuck behind arcade games. When he got to the back room, he stopped to listen.
"How dare you pull me away from pummeling that little weenie!"
"I was tired of you always being the big, bad bully. I just wanted to continue our date."
Rusty's tone of voice completely changed. All of a sudden, it was smooth yet playful. "Oh, you just want to continue our date, huh?"
Not wanting to hear what Rusty had in store for his girlfriend, Jason hurried back to where Midgel and Fidgel had just now discovered that Jason had snuck away. I hope Michelle, Zidgel, and Kevin are having better luck.
At the mall, Michelle saw that the teenagers were all sitting around smoking cigarettes. Still unsure of herself, Michelle walked up to a girl wearing what looked like a flapper dress from the forties. "Hey, could you please tell me what is going on? Why is everyone rebelling?" Michelle tried to make it seem like she wanted to know what they were fighting before she joined.
"Oh, that's easy to answer. You see that girl over there?" she pointed to a girl in the shortest shorts ever and a very tight-fitting tank top. Everything about her screamed eighties rebellion. "That's Jess Reynolds. Her mom died in a car accident and her dad became a drunk. Due to that, Jess was allowed to do whatever she wanted. She went completely crazy and everyone wanted in on the fun, so we did!"
While Michelle and the girl were talking, Zidgel noticed a dark bookstore with people in it locked up. All of them were adults.
Out of nowhere, a bell rang once. The note was so low and loud, Michelle felt the sound long after it stopped being heard.
"Oh, that old bell! I wish we could get it to stop ringing!" The girl Michelle was talking with said.
"What was that?" Michelle asked.
"It's the death bell. It rings whenever somebody dies. I don't know why, but it's been ringing a lot lately." Behind her, a few muscular boys carried a girl in hippie wear from the seventies out of the mall. The girl looked like she had smoked too many cigarettes and had died of lung cancer. Michelle just stood there. Suddenly, a boy dressed in a purple suit came up to the flapper girl and spun her away.
An alarm sounded, and Michelle turned around to see Zidgel and Kevin setting all of the adults free. Security from each rebellion came and chased the two penguins and Michelle outside. As they reached the town square, Jason, Midgel, and Fidgel came out to check on their friends. Before they could even think about going to the ship, they were surrounded.
"Well, well, well; looks like we've got some party-poopers," said a boy in pants he could hardly walk in with how low they were sagging. "Do you know what we do with party-poopers?" The penguins and twins shook their heads.
"You will do absolutely nothing, young man!" Behind the mob, the adults came out of the mall. The sheriff, who had spoken, came up to the boy with sagging pants and arrested him. All of sudden, parents kept coming up to their kids and trying to discipline them, but it was no use. The kids would not stop fighting.
The team had worked its way up to the courthouse steps. Michelle saw a fist about to fly when she shouted out, "WAIT!"
Everyone turned to look. "Don't you see how bad things are getting to be? You are dying out because you are keeping the adults from teaching you right from wrong!" For the first time, some of the teenagers looked around and noticed that they're best friends were missing.
Jason found his voice and said, "Your parents can teach you right from wrong. You wouldn't have lost some of your friends if you had just listened to them. '"Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise— "so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."" With this, all of the teenagers realized that what they did was wrong. They promised they would stop the rebellion.
"Captain's log. Star date: um, Kevin?"
"Okay, I was hoping for a little more specific; Star date: Saturday. The inhabitants of planet Honor-and-Grow have been saved thanks to Jason and Michelle's words of wisdom. It is good to have them back on the team!"
Back at the cottage, Michelle was talking on her cell phone with her dad. "Hey, I'm sorry for being rude to you about making us stay at Grandmum's."
"It's okay. Maybe next year you'll be able to stay on your own."
"Have you had any space adventures with the penguins today?"
"Well…" Michelle wasn't sure how to answer that one. All she knew was that this would be a summer to remember.