Gib Finney’s sequel to THE POWER OF UN
8 February 2008, Finney @ 11:07 pm

Back again! Sorry it took so long, but you wouldn’t believe all the stuff that’s happening right now. Today I’ll fill in a little more about how we managed to get ourselves a trip to Antarctica.

So…while sitting around at my house a few months ago, Ash and Rainy convinced me we had to enter the school science fair, because otherwise I might not grow up to be a scientist, might never invent the unner, and might not save my little sister Roxy, who turns out to be important to the world in some way we have not figured out yet. This all sounds very weird and creates a lot of questions. Like, for example, what is the unner? It would take a whole book to really explain that, but the short answer is: a machine that lets you undo things you wish hadn’t happened. Then there’s the question of how I know I grow up to be a scientist. And the question of how I know my little sister is going to do something of earthshaking importance. I know because my future self told me. If I were you, I would be confused right now. That’s okay. Just keep reading, and eventually everything will be clear, I swear on my Antarctic survival suit.

After we decided to enter the science fair, we spent about a week trying to think up the best project of all time. By that Friday night, we were sitting around at my house again feeling gloomy. Our best ideas were: 1) try to find fossils somewhere, and 2) see if drinking too much Tang will turn you orange. Pathetic.

Outside, the ground was spotted with snow. My leg was aching. Just to explain, it got broken by a truck while I was saving Roxy last October. Actually, it’s more accurate to say it got smashed by a truck. And even though it had more-or-less healed by that time, the cold weather still made it ache. So I didn’t feel like doing much, and the mood seemed contagious.

“Let’s make some hot chocolate,” said Ash. Whenever anything goes wrong, Ash makes hot chocolate. I have to admit that although it seems slightly weird, it does usually make him and everybody else feel better.

So we moped out to the kitchen and sat in the chairs watching Ash as he messed around microwaving milk and rifling our cupboards for marshmallows. “There has to be a better idea somewhere,” said Rainy.

“Yeah, like the unner,” I said.

“Which is currently in a million pieces,” said Ash.

Just at that moment, the front door slammed and I heard Roxy’s high-pitched little kid voice yelling, “Feet, Doofus, feet!” This is what we say in order to make our dog, Doofus, stop in the entryway so we can wipe the mud and gunk off his feet before he runs across the carpets.

Three seconds later, Doofus rushed into the kitchen trailing mud and dragging Roxy, who was holding onto his collar for dear life. He made a sound like mrrph kuh, mrrph kuh.

“Roxy, let go! You’re choking him!” I shouted.

“Okay, okay,” she said. She let go of the collar and fell backwards, landing on her bottom with a thud. I started to laugh. I couldn’t help it.

“Ow!” she cried. Tears filled her eyes. “That hurt! You’re so mean. I’m telling.”

“Oh, come on, it’s not that bad,” I said helping her up.

“How do you know?”

Just as things were starting to escalate into full-blown warfare, Rainy said, “Whoa! What’s that?”

We all turned at once. Rainy was pointing at something on the floor. Doofus whined and did a funny little dance of excitement, pushing at the thing with his nose.

picture of Doofus' treasureAt first I thought it was a rock. It was about the size of a small egg. Ash stooped down and poked at it with one finger.

“Eeeeeuuuuw!” said Rainy. “Don’t do that!”

“It looks like doggy pooh,” said Roxy, her hurt bottom forgotten. She was right. It was sort of shriveled, and brownish gray.

“So what?” said Ash, and he picked it up. “Rawrr!” he said, shoving it toward Rainy’s face.

She screamed. It sounded like a horror movie, no kidding.

Ash laughed and got a napkin. He put the thing on the napkin and laid it on the table. Then he went to the sink and washed his hands. “I’ll tell you one thing,” he said. “It’s really cold. It feels like ice.”

We all gathered around it, trying to get a closer look while Doofus barked at us for stealing his treasure.

“It’s not poop,” said Rainy. She must have been pretty sure, because she picked it up and turned it over. Underneath, it was white — with little feet folded neatly around itself! “I think it’s a frog. A poor, dead, frozen little frog.”

Sure enough. When we looked closer, we could see its legs and its mouth and eyes, though they were closed. Somehow, it had curled itself into a little ball and frozen that way, solid as a chunk of ice.

“Oh, poor froggy,” said Roxy. “Let’s bury him.”

“He’s way too excellent to be buried,” I said. “I’m keeping him.”

“Eeeuuuw!” said Rainy again. “That’s gross. He should be put back out in nature where he can decompose in peace.”

“Oh right,” I said. “Like Doofus is going to leave him in peace.”

“Cocoa’s ready,” said Ash. “Come on. Let’s go in the living room.”

So I put the dead frog in a sandwich bag and stuck him in the freezer, which Rainy thought was the grossest thing yet. We went and drank our cocoa and talked about movies we liked for a while. It got late. Dad put Roxy to bed. Ash and Rainy went home. I brushed my teeth and put my pajamas on. Then I remembered the frog in its plastic bag, stuck in the dark, cold freezer. It seemed creepy somehow, to leave it there all alone, dead and mournful.

So I got it out and took it to my bedroom. I looked at my windowsill, which is where I put all of my favorite things, if they’ll fit. There was a bird’s nest there, lined with feathers. It looked soft and warm, and I thought it would be a nice place for the frog to spend one last night before I took him out and tried to find a burial place where Doofus would never bother him. I took him out of the bag, dropped him into the nest, and said good-night. Then I climbed into bed.

The moon was high in the sky when a sound like a quacking duck awakened me. In the frosty light that streamed through the window, I saw something moving in the nest.