How Peace Dude Helped Me End World Hunger
Another Junior Chronicles Chronicle
by Robert Alan
(not yet illustrated)

 

Chapter 1. Hunger Strike

Fifth Grade had been going pretty smoothly, considering my best friend, the foreign exchange student who was living with us, had a tendency to do really odd and strange things. But of course, that's not his fault. They do things differently where he's from. He's an alien, after all. You know, the green kind, from another planet.

You'd think that green color would give him away, or the really strange way he talked which made absolutely no sense whatsoever. But for some reason, I was the only one who knew his not-so-little secret. Everyone else though he was just the coolest kid ever.

At first, you might say we didn't really hit it off, all that well. After all, he was an alien, and he had everyone else fooled, and I had been pretty darn sure that he was planning on taking over the world.

Turns out, that wasn't his plan at all. He's just here on detention, and unfortunately, sort of lost his hall pass back, and is kind of stuck here. And, it turns out, he's a pretty nice Dude.

Oh yeah, did I mention, that's his name? Dude, I mean.

But of course, there is the crazy way I have to stand on one leg and tilt my head sideways, like a flamingo, in order to figure out what Dude's saying. It really isn't fair that no one else has that problem, but then no one else knows he's an alien.

Anyway, Fifth Grade was going pretty well. There are so many cool things that aliens can do back where Dude comes from. Like stop time. And skateboard in the clouds. And study for tests while you're sleeping. After we became best friends, Dude was happy to show me them all.

Everything was great, until October when Dude came down with a mean case of alien-homesickness.

Like me, you've probably been homesick once or twice. You know how down it can make you feel. How it can really deflate your ego.

Turns out, with aliens, the ego isn't the only thing that's deflated.

It started 4th Period on a Tuesday in Social Studies. We were watching a film about 'world hunger' because World Food Day was coming up. Dude told me later that the documentary really got him down and made him realize just how different our worlds were. He had no idea that 500 million people here on Earth went to bed hungry every night.

Dude was really shocked to hear that 50,000 people on our planet die every day from hunger related causes. No one ever died from hunger back where he came from. In fact, he insisted, no one ever went hungry for more than a meal or two on any of the 1200 planets he'd visited on field trips or vacations.

I first noticed something was wrong with Dude when I glanced over during the film and saw his brilliant forest green color was a pale pukey-green. But I figured it was just the dim light.

And the next time when I glanced over, after a whole slew of really depressing scenes, Dude looked a lot thinner than I'd remembered. But I figured it was just that he was slouching in his chair.

All that day there were lots of signs. Like at lunch he didn't eat, which was really unusual, because usually he gets three overflowing trays of food, on account of the super high metabolism aliens apparently have.

And I didn't have to do the flamingo walk at all that day like I usually have to do to understand him, because Dude never talked; he just grunted once in a while.

And there were a few times while we were walking to our classes that I looked sidewise too fast and didn't see Dude walking next to me, until he turned the corner and it almost clicked that he was looking REALLY thin.

But when we got off the bus to walk home, and a gust of wind came along and Dude starting to float away like a sheet of paper, it suddenly all came together, and I finally realized something was definitely wrong.

Fortunately Dude seemed to be alright when I climbed the tree he'd gotten stuck in and untangled him from the branches and leaves. Paper thin, with a sad, sad look on his face, but other than that, he seemed to be okay.

Not sure what else to do so he wouldn't blow away again, I carefully folded him up. "You'll be alright," Dude, I sighed, as his face looked up sadly at me. Gingerly, I put him in my backpack and ran home as fast as I could, heading straight for the garage.

After carefully unfolding him and rubbing out the crease marks, I grabbed my bicycle pump and stuck the nozzle in his mouth.

122 pumps later, my arms were aching, but Dude was back to life size. Life-size, yes, but when I turned to put the pump down he floated up to the ceiling. I grabbed his sneakers and pulled him back to the floor.

"Dude, you've got to snap out of this," I gasped as I held onto his shirt to keep him from floating away out the garage door. Dude just sighed and looked at me with teary eyes.

I tried to sneak him into the house and up to my room without anyone seeing us. But of course my sister waylaid us as soon as we walked in. "It's your turn to empty the dishrack, Johnny!" she yelled from the couch where she was watching TV. "You'd better do it before Mom gets home."

I nearly had a heart attack when she turned and stared directly at us, because I'd dropped my books and forgot to hold Dude down for a second, and he was now floating on the ceiling.

"Oh, hi, Dude," she smiled warmly. "Did you have a nice day at school?"

"He grunted something from the ceiling.

"Oh, that's nice," she said sweetly before she turned back to her TV program.

I had forgotten for a second that for some reason, the rest of the world never notices anything strange about Dude. It's on account of this really amazing watch he wears, which makes him fit in and appear normal wherever he goes. It doesn't work on me for some reason, but it sure keeps everyone else fooled. Apparently even when he's floating like a balloon on the ceiling.

Dude just floated there up on the kitchen ceiling staring blankly off into space while I quickly put the dishes away and grabbed a snack for myself.

He didn't say a word when I tried to get him to eat something. I even stuck a granola bar under his nose. Usually they send him out of this world. Well, not literally, of course. If it were that easy for him to get back home, all his problems would have been solved long ago. But when he's crunching on one, he always has this smile a mile wide, and for hours afterwards doesn't have a care in the world. Even a distant whiff when he walks in the door and smells a new box Mom's brought back from the supermarket makes his two hearts pound like crazy.

But nothing at all happened this time. Yodels are my preferred treat and they definitely give me a major endorphin rush. So I selflessly decided to sacrifice the last one I had hidden away in my secret stash, hoping it might snap him out of this funk he was in. He didn't even blink. Naturally I couldn't let this heavenly snack go to waste, so I wolfed it down. You know what? I didn't even enjoy it at all! I could barely swallow it. Weird. That had never happened to me before. Dude's lightness of being was really weighing me down!

I bounced Dude up the steps to our room and he just looked down at me sadly while I tried my hardest to do my homework. It's not easy to concentrate with a green alien staring down at you with the saddest eyes in the universe. I had a major test the next day, and to be honest, for a second or two I wondered whether I should just let the air out and fold him up and slip him into my sock drawer for a while so I could finish my homework.

Dinner was even worse. No one else noticed a thing, of course. But I could hardly eat a bite myself, knowing that Dude grew sadder with every mouthful. And I couldn't help notice that he was getting thinner and thinner by the second.

This alien was obviously on a hunger strike and he was going to disappear unless I did something. And fast!

 

2. Surfing the Net

I excused myself without desert, and raced us both upstairs as fast as I could. I had to do something fast. But what?

Muffy, our family cat meowed at me from across the room. She was sitting on my laptop. I could almost swear I understood her meowing. I know it's weird, but this kind of thing happens all the time with the two of us. We have this amazing, but weird connection. Sometimes I even think she's actually talking. But of course, I have to be imagining it.

Anyway, mind-meld or cat-talk, I was pretty sure Muffy was telling me to check the Internet and show Dude the things that people are actually doing to try to end world hunger. That might cheer him up.

Wow. I couldn't believe how many projects and organizations and the UN and government agencies there were working on the problem. I started to feel pretty good, actually.

And you know what. It wasn't that long before I noticed that Dude wasn't floating on the ceiling anymore. In fact he was standing behind me, peeking over my shoulder. And he didn't look that bad anymore either. He even had a hint of a smile creeping across his face.

"There really are a lot of things that people are doing to end world hunger," he said softly. And I didn't even have to stand like a flamingo to understand him. Whoa!

Then I found this BetterWorld Clubs website and there was a whole section about World Food Day and the things that young people were doing all around the world to help end hunger. Somehow I ended up in a chat room with these kids from all around the world who apparently got together each week as a virtual BetterWorld Club to talk about building a better world.

They were really cool kids. Even though they were from lots of different countries, I couldn't help notice how much like me they were. And I was so impressed by their ideas and the things they were doing in their communities.

"It would be really cool to meet these kids," I said outloud while I typed a reply to a question one of the kids asked.

"Why don't we!" Dude said and he grabbed his backpack out of the closet and started rummaging around inside.

He pulled out what looked like an ordinary flash drive and stuck it into the USB port on my computer. I quickly found out that this was no ordinary flash drive.

Dude leaned over my shoulder, and started typing tons of stuff onto the keyboard. Whoa! I never saw anyone type so fast. The screen kept filling up with pages and pages of well, what looked like gibberish to me, but obviously wasn't. Cause, in no time at all Dude entered in the eighty-ninth page of text, cleared them and then pointed at a single remaining word on the screen. ENTER?

"Well, go ahead, Junior…" he beamed. "Let's enter…"

Hesitantly I pressed the ENTER key.

It's hard to explain exactly what happened next. Well, actually it's pretty easy. We ENTERED the computer. Or Cyberspace, to be more precise.

At least that's what Dude said when I asked him what all the amazing colors were that were suddenly floating all around us. Because when I looked around we weren't in my room anymore. We were standing in the middle of this great, big, wide open empty space. Except for all the amazing colors, of course, which I already told you about.

Then I noticed off in the distance what looked like a huge colored wave rapidly approaching us.

"Cyberwave," Dude said nonchalantly. "Better grab that hyperlink there," he said pointing to an underlined web address floating in the air to my left. "We're going surfing!" Dude laughed as I watched him pull an identical URL out of the air and climb aboard.

I have to admit I was pretty confused about what was going on. But that wave was just about to crash on us, so I grabbed the hyperlink just before the wave hit and … WHOA … surfing the net is so cool!

 

...to be continued...

 

Not yet illustrated.

© 2009 Robert Alan
The People For Peace Project

PforPeace@aol.com

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