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Weekly Flash Contest #5: Write a story inspired by one of these funny headlines

Visit the Bestlifeonline.com webpage, and read their selection of the “25 Funniest Newspaper Headlines of All Time.” Write a story inspired by your chosen headline.

Every week during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements we are running a Flash Contest, based on the first Daily Creativity prompt of the week. The prompt is posted on Monday, and entries are due by Friday. The week commencing April 27th (Daily Creativity prompt #26) was our fifth week–and our funniest! Everyone obviously needed to get some comedy into their lives, and we had a record number of entries. We enjoyed reading each and every one of them, but a few of them made all of us laugh out loud, so they are our winners this week: published below, they come in every shade of humour from light to dark, and they are all hilarious. We also have a few Honorable Mentions singled out for special recognition. Congratulations, everyone!

(work published on this page)

Eliana Aschheim, 13, Santa Clara, CA
Gabe Finger, 13, Nesconset, NY
Hannah Nami Gajcowski, 10, Bellevue, WA
Liam Hancock, 12, Danville, CA
Alice Xie, 12, West Windsor, NJ

Honorable Mentions

"An Un-MOO-rited Act" by Lena Aloise, 10, Harvard, MA
"Diary of a Goat Robbery - From the Goatś Perspective" by Cora Casebeer, 10, Salem, OR
"The Scientist Who Blamed the Babies" by Samantha Lee, 10, Thomaston, CT

Remember, we are running the Flash Contest every week during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements. It is always based on the first Daily Creativity prompt of the week. The prompt is posted on Monday, entries are due by Friday, and the winners are chosen and announced the following week.

Farmer Using Cannon to Protect Watermelons

By Eliana Aschheim, 13

It was a typical summer morning and everything a summer morning should be: bright and sunny, with no cloud in sight for miles around. Josh Smith looked out his kitchen window to the farm and nodded. It was going to be another perfect day.

“Good morning, Josh,” his younger brother Andy greeted him, coming into the kitchen. It seemed like only yesterday that Andy had been ten years old, and Josh twelve, running around in the woods and swimming in lakes.

“Hey Andy,” Josh said, barely glancing at him. Now they were much older, decades older, in fact. Andy was forty-seven and Josh was approaching–well, he tried not to think about that. Fifty was an age too old to date anyone, said his late parents–may they rest in peace. And his little Andy had never found anyone that liked him back, poor guy. So they were just two old bachelors puttering around in a house meant for a big family. Andy being single was kind of his own fault, really. Anyone remotely interested in him was scared off by his impressive, almost obsessive collection of Civil War artifacts. Truth was, Josh thought it was a waste of time. Who even cared about preserving and documenting that stuff to that extreme level?

Andy did, apparently. He had been collecting since he was only a boy. His room was overflowing with Civil War things. It had started with just a shoebox under the bed, but then it expanded to a whole drawer. Their parents had tried to stop the inevitable flow, but when Andy got the cannon there was just no going back. Civil War-related books spilled off shelves, and old parts of weapons lay filling countless boxes stacked up on the floor. The entire room was now devoted to the cause. But in spite of all the parts Andy owned, no weapon worked–except for maybe the cannon. He took it out for polishing every week, but no one knew if the old thing could still shoot.

Whenever Andy brought the cannon out, Josh always felt anxious, worried that it would blow the house to smithereens. The house was centuries old, and deeply rooted in tradition. Sure, there had been a few changes over the years (namely adding and renovating the electricity and plumbing systems) but it was still the same old house, with the same walls and tables and chairs. Josh and Andy had grown up in this house, the last kids of their strand of Smith. But probably the very central component, the most integral part of the house, lay outside. It was the watermelon patch.

That patch had been there when construction on the house first started, or so went the family legend. It had withstood frightening tornadoes and insect infestations, deadly droughts and even economic disasters. And because of those things, that watermelon patch was considered sacred. The watermelons it produced were said to be the finest, sweetest, juiciest ones for miles around.

Josh helped himself to a cup of coffee and went over to the living room. He turned on the T.V. to watch the news.

“Breaking news,” crackled the announcer, “Video gamer Rory Fasloughn, popular on the video game streaming network uPow, made a stand against watermelons. Hundreds of children have taken to eagerly following his wishes, rampaging across the county, leaving watermelons uprooted and cruelly destroyed in their wake. Here’s a clip.” Josh gaped at the screen. Children pillaging farms under the command of a video gamer? Really? On screen, a video of Rory Fasloughn was playing.

“I mean, they have water and melon. A liquid and a solid. How can something be a liquid and a solid at the same time? Choose one, people. I hate it. Watermelons should be banished from the planet.” Disgusted, Josh turned off the T.V. Banish watermelons? What was this Fasloughn guy saying? And people were actually taking him seriously? Suddenly, a thought occurred to him.

“Andy?” Josh said. Andy was still in the kitchen, toasting some bread.

“There’s this thing on the T.V. Some kids are trying to destroy our watermelons,” Josh told him, putting on his shoes.

“Our watermelons?” Andy clarified, “Why would people want our watermelons?”

“Not ours in particular, Andy. I think. Just in case, though. We have to go check.” Andy popped out the toast from the toaster and scarfed it down. He and Josh strode off to the watermelon patch. As they reached it, Josh spotted some figures in the distance. Slowly they came closer, until he could see who they were. He turned to Andy, panic emerging in his body.

“It’s the middle schoolers!”

Indeed it was. They appeared to be going on foot to all the farms in the area. Josh remembered the news announcer’s words: “Watermelons uprooted and cruelly destroyed in their wake.” He gazed fondly at his own watermelons some yards away, so beautiful and precious. He wouldn’t let puny middle schoolers shatter generations-old melons, especially because some video gamer wanted them to. Never.

Andy stared at the approaching kids with apprehension.

“What will you do?” he asked Josh. When they were younger, Josh had always been the leader, and Andy followed. Now, roughly forty years later, it was still the same.

Josh frowned. “I’ll shout at them, try and make them leave, but I don’t know what to do after that.”

“Hey mister!” It was them. The kids had arrived. “Get out of our way!” they chorused. They were about twenty in number, some wimpy and some tough, but all of them defiant. One kid was off to the side with a phone in hand, recording.

Josh stepped forward. “Sorry kids, but go away. This is private property. Go home.”

“Never!” they roared, their fists held high in the air. “Not in the name of Rory Fasloughn! DOWN WITH WATERMELONS!”

“GO AWAY. YOU WON’T GET MY WATERMELONS,” Josh shouted. But the kids didn’t listen.

“Ready, set, STORM THE PREMISES!” The kids raced forward. Josh’s heart pounded. What could he do to scare them off? What would be intimidating? Suddenly, he realized the answer.

“Andy, hold them off. I’ll be right back!” Josh sped off to the barn where he kept his tractor. He returned inside the tractor to Andy and the kids, feeling slightly more confident. From his new height, the kids looked much smaller and punier. Maybe this would scare them off.

“Oh, wow,” said Andy, gazing up at Josh in admiration. “I’m going to get something.” Andy ran back towards the house. Josh paid him little mind–Andy hadn’t been useful, after all.

For a second, the stunned middle schoolers stopped their screams to stare at the tractor in front of them and the only sound was of the tractor’s engine. But then Josh bellowed “JUST GO ALREADY,” and it was broken. They scattered in all directions, frantically searching for his supply of watermelons. Thankfully, a line of trees and bushes hid them from view. But that surely wouldn’t be enough to stop them. Josh tried to follow the kids, but the tractor didn’t have the agility he needed. What now? A few kids had gone in the direction of the patch, and once they found it they were sure to alert the others. Everything would be ruined. He needed something impressive and frightening, something enough to drive the kids away for good. But what could it be? And where would he find it?

Just then, Josh heard a grunt and a squeak. It was Andy, pushing a big, metal thing–it was the cannon! His face broke out into a smile. That was it! Josh scrambled out of the tractor and ran to help his brother. Together, they heaved it to defend the watermelon patch.

“Does it even work?” Josh asked Andy.

“I don’t know.”

“Hopefully, we won’t need to find out.”

“But it’s loaded, just in case.”

“All right.” Josh positioned it to face the general mass of kids.

“I SAID: LEAVE MY WATERMELONS ALONE!” The middle schoolers stopped what they were doing, and looked at Josh and Andy. They glanced at one another, and began to back away. Josh and Andy were muscular from farm work, and enraged too. They didn’t look like they were kidding around with that cannon.

“Please,” one boy said, changing his tune.

“RUN,” one girl directed, and that’s what the kids did.

As the middle schoolers quickly vacated the farm, Josh hugged Andy.

“Thank you,” Josh said, and he meant it. “If you hadn’t brought that cannon, they probably would’ve destroyed the melons. That was smart, and I- I’m glad you have that Civil War collection. I’m proud of you, Andy.”

Andy grinned, and looked his brother in the eye.

“Always knew it would come in handy.” They laughed, and lugged the cannon back inside.

Students Cook and Serve Grandparents

By Gabe Finger, 13

I sat down in a cushioned chair in front of a round, neatly-dressed table. A handsome, smart, and muscular 13-year-old waiter strode over to my table. When he reached the table, the first thing that I noticed about him was his vivacious blue eyes and neatly combed mullet.

“Hello, my name is Gabe, and I will be taking care of you today,” he said, a cordial smile on his face. “Can I start you off with some drinks?”

“Sure, I think I’ll have the old man spit and red wine please,” I replied, impressed by his dazzling professionalism.

“Straight away sir,” he said, then he turned and strutted off.

As I was waiting for my drink, I turned to the table on my left and saw a man squeezing a slice of lemon onto a deliciously hairy ear.

“Yum,” I thought as my stomach grumbled.

The gorgeous waiter came back holding a tray with a glass of red liquid in it. He put the glass down in front of me and said, “Your old man spit and red wine sir.”

“Thank you very much,” I said back. I picked up the glass by the base and started gently spinning it to get the tannins out. I turned to the waiter and asked if I could go right to the main course.

“Of course you can sir. Would you like to hear your options?” he said with the utmost courtesy.

“Yes please.”

“We have hairy ears with an optional amount of hair and some lemon. We also have grilled foot bunions, as well as the three-in-one tongue, liver, and eyeballs deluxe. We have artery spaghetti and brain meatballs doused with arm hair, and today’s house special: Hip-replacement-tartare.”

“Oooh. I’ll take the hip-replacement-tartare.” I requested.

“Coming right up,” Gabe replied.

Gabe brought me that hip-replacement tartare… And you know what? It was delicious. Grandparents Day is the best!

Melissa Saves Costa Rica

Short story inspired by the headline: “Bridge Closure Date: Thursday or October”

By Hannah Nami Gajcowski, 10

“The bridge is closed,” the policeman declared.

“No, it can’t be. It’s open every day. Even on holidays,” Mom replied defiantly.

“No it isn’t,” the policeman replied. “Yesterday, the newspaper said that the bridge was closed. Thursday or October. The police checked with the government and we convinced them to have the bridge closed Thursday and October. It would make life much easier. That way we could avoid bridge traffic and toll systems.”

“What!?” Mom shouted in an outraged tone. “Melissa has school today and I have an important meeting!”

I shrunk in my seat, wanting to disappear. The policeman had spotted me. I always got scared when that happened because I worried that they would accuse me for something I didn’t do.

“Anyway,” my mom went on (the policeman averted his eyes back to mom and I breathed a sigh of relief), “I’m very busy.”

“That is exactly why we closed the bridge,” the policeman replied. “To avoid traffic.”

“Then the traffic will be on other streets,” Mom pointed out hotly.

“I guess that is true,” the policeman replied thoughtfully, as if this had never occurred to him, “But that is what the law said. I guess you’ll have to pay the ticket. 400 dollars.”

“If you’re trying to prevent tolls,” Mom shouted, flailing her arms out her open window, “Then don’t have me pay the ticket!”

The policeman only shrugged, and then handed Mom the fine.

“Sorry ma’am,” he replied. “The law’s the law. Pay up.” Then, the policeman hopped back onto his motorcycle and drove onto some old country road behind our car.

Mom banged at the steering wheel.

“What am I supposed to do? Drive around the bridge?” She shouted angrily, hitting the gas and driving home. “I guess I’ll have to work from home during Thursdays and October. And Melissa, you are to take the school bus to school and back from now on.”

“Do I have to?” I questioned, brushing my black hair out of my face. I hate the bus. Last time I went there, I was going to go on a field trip to the National Museum of Art and History. The bus was a nightmare. People had stuck gum to the floor, and there was some chewed up green thing at the bottom of the seat in front of me.

“Yes, you have to,” Mom sighed. “Sorry, honey.”

She didn’t sound too sorry, but I just mumbled, “It’s okay.”

* * * *

When we arrived home, Mom threw open the door and raced into the office to start her work. I ran to the television to check the news.

“Breaking news!” The reporter blared. He was wearing a tuxedo and his brown hair was neatly combed to one side.

“Why does it have to be breaking news?” I mumbled. “Why can’t anyone fix anything? Why not fixing news?”

“—the bridge is closed now for Thursday and October plus the additional Friday and November—"

“What!?” Mom raged. She had stormed out of the office, and plopped onto our scrappy looking blue sofa, “WHAT IS THE POINT OF A BRIDGE IF YOU’RE NOT ALOWED TO USE IT!!??”

“—Now let’s have Fiona explain the advantages of this change,” the newscaster continued.

“THERE ARE ADVANTAGES!?” Mom interrupted.

“Thank you, Rob,” said the newscaster, a woman with a fake and shiny smile. Rob went off the screen as Fiona continued, “Now there are many advantages for the bridge being closed but let me just highlight a few.”


“One, we’ll avoid traffic and tolls on the bridge,” Fiona explained, holding up one finger.

“Same old, same old,” Mom muttered under her breath.

“Two,” Fiona held up two fingers this time, “In November, that is where we get that juicy fruit from Costa Rica. We’ll need to lift the bridge for that. And don’t we all love juicy fruit?”

Suddenly, an ad played on the screen. First, pink bubble letters that appeared on a white background. Then, music started to play.

“We love juicy fruit!” the ad sang.

Mom and I groaned. There was always that stupid ad appearing on TV.

“Why go organic when we can go botanic?” the ad inquired as a garden with fruit appeared on TV.

“That is the worst ad ever!!” Mom howled. “Why go organic when we can go botanic? Organic is botanic!”

“Exactly!” I wailed in reply. Mom and I hate conventional food.

Packed with preservatives, the juicy fruit is juicier than ever!” the woman who was narrating the ad exclaimed happily.

“Since when was it not packed with preservatives,” I groaned.

“Exactly!” Mom agreed.

“Juicy Fruit’s fruit is delicious and sweet,” the woman on the ad swooned. “Why have sugar when you can have juicy fruit? Why have regular fruit when you can have juicy fruit? Get it at www.juicyfruit/freeshipping.com,” a link appeared at the bottom of the garden of fruit. Then, the ad started showing people trying Juicy Fruit and claiming that it was delicious.

Mom looked like she was ready to explode. She grabbed the remote control out of my hands and turned off the TV.

“You okay?” I inquired. Mom seemed to be having a tough day.

“I’m fine,” Mom replied. But she wasn’t.

* * * *

Five days later, the bridge was closed every single week. Mom didn’t know that I hadn’t gone to school since the day when we were pulled over by the police. She didn’t want to read the ‘Stupid School Emails’ anymore, so I thought that I could get away with not going to school. Instead of going to school, I investigated the bridge. I didn’t get on it but rode my bike to around the entrance and used binoculars to get a closer look. What I saw surprised me.

On the tower used for watching the boats, I saw people moving. I couldn’t make out anything else, just that they were people. One day, a woman had gotten out of her blue convertible and walked across the bridge to the tower, but I didn’t know who she was or what she was doing.

Today was very important, though. I planned to try to climb the tower and be able to hear what the people were going to say. I’ve always been good at climbing, but I had never climbed a brick wall.

“Honey, eat faster,” Mom urged me. My thoughts were interrupted. “Finish your breakfast.”

I nodded in reply and inhaled my cornflakes.

“Thank you,” Mom sighed. She had been stressed because she was the only one on her team who couldn’t make it to work. “Now, off to the school bus.” Mom handed me my backpack and I scurried out the door.

Then, I jumped onto my bike and rode into the rain. Instead of stopping at the bus stop, I pedaled to the bridge.

Now, I thought, Here comes the tricky part.

I got off my bike and ran into the rain, toward the bridge. Suddenly, I heard a car door slam. I hid behind a tree. There was the same woman I had saw before. This time, she had pink lipstick and her hair was dyed blue. When the woman disappeared through the tower, I ran toward the tower myself. Then, I took my play bow and arrow (it could shoot well, but of course, the arrow didn’t work), from my backpack. I had hidden it in a pocket that my mom didn’t know that I had. I quickly grabbed the rope from the same pocket. Then, after I had zipped up the backpack, I put the backpack on, then tied the rope to an arrow.

I fired the arrow up to a latch next to the window. Then, taking a deep breath, I started to climb.

* * * *

When I reached the window, I looked down. Bad move. I started to slip. Grabbing the rope, I scurried back up to the ledge and peered inside the window. Inside, there was the woman I had seen outside and a man who had a brown beard and a smug smile.

“Great,” the woman said, flashing a fake smile at the man. I gasped and almost slipped again. The woman had the same voice as the woman narrating the ad for the juicy fruit. “Now, all we need to do is send over the poisoned juicy fruit to the president of Costa Rica. Because you’re the vice president, you’ll take over the House. Then, we’ll get to rule Costa Rica! Now, all we must do is have the fruit transported from here to Costa Rica–and fast. The bridge lifting is too slowly. Now, after we’ve convinced the police and the police have convinced the government, we’ve got control over this thing and can make it go faster!”

I gasped. Suddenly, the man caught my eye. We both stared at each other, paralyzed with fear. Then, I looked down to see if anyone could save me. Very bad move. I fell. Down, down, below. The last thing I remembered was the man jumping down after me to catch me. Why did he do that? I wondered. I kept wondering until I hit the ground… dead.

* * * *

Never mind. Thankfully, I wasn’t dead. Unthankfully, I was in the ER because my head was gushing out blood. I had managed to get the full story out, so the police had captured the lady. That man? That man was alive, too. He had managed to grab onto the rope that I had left outside. He was caught and sent to jail. Also, to my mom’s great relief, the bridge was open again.

I heard a shout.

“She needs more blood!” That was what people had been saying for the past five hours.

“You go get some!”

“No, you, you lazy skootch!”

“Okay. Fine.”

I then fell asleep, tired from this day’s events.

* * * *

I woke up to a ticking sound.

“TURN IT OFF!” I yelled.

“Tick... tick... tick... tick...”

My eyes fluttered open. A machine was checking my heartbeat.

“Tick... tick... tick... tick… ... BOOM! You’re dead.” Said a voice. I peered around the room. My stepbrother, Isaiah, was smiling at me.

“Stop it,” I yelled crossly. Isaiah gave me a goofy grin. I couldn’t help smiling myself. I had captured the evil plotters, and no one was hurt. Except me. I smiled myself as Isaiah and I pretended we were in a cave of dynamite.

But, I thought, pretending to be stuck in a cave of dynamite is only half as fun as what I did.

Farmer Using Cannon to Protect Watermelons

Old Man Jack has resorted to strange measures in order to protect his watermelons...

By Liam Hancock, 12

In the folds of the Salinas Valley near Monterey, CA, Old Man Jack had resorted to strange measures in order to defend his watermelons. Last Saturday, neighbors reportedly spotted “a group of hooligans” who were “pokin’ round where they don’t rightly belong.” The three teenagers were wearing dark clothing and had pulled hoodies tightly over their faces. At least one of them is reported to be local teen Horace Greyhound, a known troublemaker in the surrounding areas.

We questioned teachers at Salinas Heights Primary School about past experiences with the boy. Although most declined to respond, one man named Roger Kemptly took up our questions. The 45-year-old fellow used to serve with dedication as a janitor at Salinas Heights Primary. “Been my job for the entirety of my life,” he told reporter Norton Brady. “Grew up in the hills, gettin’ strong in the arms on Pap’s farm.” After a string of nonsensical verses from psalm 18, he continued on to recollect his years with Horace Greyhound.

“Greyhound, eh?” He shuttered his blinds. “You don’t got him ‘round, d’ya?”

After reassuring him that we in fact did not have Horace with us, we urged the portly man on.

“The kid was a hothead, I’d tell ya. Nothin’ but trouble and idiocy and the like. Listen, I’m not a man of cruel words. I love the heavens above... Amen, I say, amen... but this boy, he’s beyond atrocious. He ain’t repentable, he just ain’t! One time, he go right where I’d been sweepin’, right there, where it was all clean and tidy, and he stomped all o’r it wid his dirty devil feet! Atrocious, beyond atrocious. No words of repentance, ya hear, beyond repentance.”

Reporter Brady decided to dig deeper into the story. Located far back on a dust-ridden lane, Old Man Jack’s humble lodgings were balanced upon a precarious stack of wood. With a roof of rusted tin and windows of small holes, the shack still boasted a large handwritten cutout that read “Jack’s Fruit n Things” over the door.

After much urging and a good amount of time convincing him that we were not Antarctician Spies, the old farmer ambled out into his small yard, mostly compiled of browned grasses and crisps of flower petals. Old Man Jack was crumpled over, but refused to walk with a cane. “Canes are fer the weak, see? The weak, who can’t tell the difference between a slick-back journalist and an Antarctician Spy.” His breaths heaved violently and he shook whenever he spoke angry words.

Quick exchanges led to a brief tour of his grounds. They were much smaller than Norton had expected, and only stretched back an acre or two. Every spot counted there, and every spot was used. Not exactly for farming, though.

“I started burning incense here,” Old Man Jack explained, pointing his slim finger towards some flickering candles settled on a bale of straw. “So if the heathens feel like swingin’ by this place, dey should know that the Hootagoofles are watching their every move. He, he. But I gots more tricks up my sleeve if they swing by again.”

As the curmudgeon led reporter Brady further down the expanse of his land, we asked exactly was a Hootagoofle was supposed to be.

Old Man Jack grinned wickedly, displaying a mouthful of loose teeth the rotten yellow shade of milk gone bad. He spat into the ground before replying.

“Hootagoofles.” He danced a small jig. “Not too many years ago, my father told me of the Hootagoofles. They’s some big ol’ troublemakers that like to deal with other troublemakers.”

We asked no further questions, as the man seemed dazed enough by our presence. Finally, we reached a shed not much smaller than his own home. Dust was settled onto the windowpanes and the wood seemed wetted down, curling outward like mahogany coconut shavings. There, the Old Man excused himself to “fetch me a perty lil thing ferm this here barn.” We waited patiently outside as a variety of peculiar noises whistled from the broken windows. Reporter Norton Brady remembers distinctly hearing some harsh whispers and the soft purring of a cat from inside.

“Almost felt like running just then,” he tells us. “This man had something off about him, and I wasn’t going to wait to figure it out.”

Yet he did, and the Old Man emerged a good time later with one strap of his overalls missing.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he boomed proudly (even though only gentlemen were on the case that day), “Be prepared for amazement. For years, this contraption will be my hallmark. The curious will want to see it, and the stupid will want to steal it. I’ll take care of both situations, I will. But as for now, you are the first human eyes, besides my cats’, to see this amazing mechanism. Are you ready?”

Reporter Norton was ready. Ready to get out of there nonetheless, but still ready. And so Old Man wheeled out the one... the only...

“It’s a cannon,” Jack chuckled, catching the teeth that fell out as he smiled. “A watermelon cannon. He, he.”

Now Norton was intrigued. He snapped some pictures, which were promptly snapped in half by Jack himself.

“You are the first human eyes to see this wonder, except for my cats’, and you want the world to open a newspaper and be presented by my skills? They need to come down here and walk their lazy butts out to my farm if they want the watermelon cannon experience. They do! He, he. Newspapers these days. Y’need to put yer noses back where they rightly belong, I’d say. Yes-errey-do-da. Back where they belong.”

It took much longer to get our person of interest back en route this time. But after calling in our legal team and handing over a great deal of payment for his help, the Old Man finally loosened up.

It was a beautifully crafted cannon, gilded with shiny wood and holstered with a piercing grey cap on the front. It had held up to the dust very well, and its newly constructed beauty still left us speechless.

Yet still, the question hung in the air.

Uncomfortably, Norton asked, “So you will be using this against these thieves? What, pray tell, is inside of this cannon?”

Old Man Jack sat down upon a bale of hay. “He, he. There ain’t no cannonballs in this beauty, but they might as well be. Rotten tomatoes are all I can have in here, and they hit hard. One lil’ splatter ferm my tomatoes and the hooligans won’t be swingin’ by my farm anytime soon.”

To make sure that we understood, the Old Man dragged out a rifle target and loaded up his cannon. We colorfully made sure he knew that we didn’t need to see an example, but Jack was persistent.

“Ya want a story?” he said in a husky voice. “Here’s a story.”

And with that, he fired off the cannon and the bald, rotten tomato rocketed out, whistling through the air. It splattered against the target at such trajectory that the entire board was soon smothered in pungent tomato slush.

“Yeh don’t want this here tomater sauce on yer pasta, now.” The old man laughed harder at that one, and more teeth than should have fit in that mouth of his clattered to the ground. “No, sir. No, sir.”

But as Old Man Jack made a hoot over his wasted tomatoes, Reporter Norton noticed a ruckus around the small barn. Out in the distance, near a small patch of watermelon, a group of stocky teens slipped between bales of hay as they stalked towards their gold. After notifying the delirious farmer, we were directed to shelter behind the barn.

“Could git dicey,” Old Man Jack warned, loading up the cannon with another fly-ridden tomato. “But those watermelons are golden. I tell you, just golden. I can smell the cash in ‘em. A farmer’s gotta do what a farmer’s gotta do, eh?”

We peeked out from behind our hiding spot. Old Man Jack spat one more time and stomped over it with his strange jig for the Hootagoofles.

The sun masked our view of the criminals, who had reportedly painted past watermelons a yellow tone so Old Man Jack would accidentally pawn them off as lemons. “Almost got shut down by the feds,” he recalls. “Dey says my watermelons looked too much like my teeth. I didn’t see the issue.”

But whatever the case, Jack was ready to defend his watermelons. He fired off the first tomatoes, which splattered harmlessly on a bale of hay. The attackers scurried away as he fired again. The tomato streaked through the sky, and the flies buzzed away in alarm. Still, the tomato landed harmlessly at least a dozen yards away.

“Do it for the Hootagoofles!” one of our writers urged, and the Old Man loaded the cannon one last time.

“For the Hootagoofles,” he whispered, and he fired away.

The tomato whistled gloriously through the blue sky, headed directly for the culprits. They darted away, covering their heads pitifully. But it was no use. The tomato flew square into their stomachs and the thieves healed over, stumbling.

“He, he!” Old Man Jack cried. “The cannon does it agin!”

We followed him across the field, littered with beer cans and shattered glass. We reached the criminals, who were laying, crumpled over a bale of hay. Their bodies was still masked partly by the sun, and we couldn’t make out the shapes. Grinning wildly, Old Man Jack flipped the culprits over, and...


Moaning, an exhausted man squinted into the sky. “Unicorns. Dey big and fluffy.”

Old Man Jack’s eyes widened. “Jacob? Casey? Oh, darn it...  you done it agin, cannon. You done it agin.”

The field workers were dizzied and their work tools lay unused on the ground beside them. Tomato guts were painted across their shirts and faces and hair. One sat up only to smile stupidly and lay slowly back down. We quickly transported them back to Old Man Jack’s house for treatment, and luckily none of the wounds were threatening.

The first one to come to was dazed but able to take in the information. “Tomatoes? Cannon?” He scratched his head. “Not such a bad idea, sir. No, sir. A good idea, sir. And they hit hard, sir. Real hard. Like big ol’ fluffy unicorns, sir.”

They would be delirious for a couple of the following days, but we are glad to report that Old Man Jack’s field workers are fully recovered and back to the grind. And after the reports of a tomato cannon were registered by the greater Salinas area, Old Man Jack’s watermelon patches were left alone.

Sun-up the next day, reporter Brady received a message over email from Mr. Kemptly, the school janitor that we had interviewed at the beginning of our investigations. He reported that, thanks to the publicizing of the cannon, teen Horace Greyhound swore he wasn’t going to steal any watermelons anytime soon, for the promise of Hootagoofles prowling the fields made him jittery.

The GOAT Messes Up

Short story inspired by the headline: "Goat accused of robbery"

By Alice Xie, 12

People think goats are stupid, and I don’t blame them. We’re great at acting. I mean, not to be cocky, but it’s not that hard to roam around and eat grass all day, though it can get a little boring. Nonetheless, it’s an act that’s necessary for us to execute in order to ensure our secret remains hidden. But after a long day and once all meddling eyes are out of sight, we have the time of our lives. What that is, one may ask, is confidential.

Naturally, we aren’t perfect so we do slip up from time to time, but it’s nothing much to get someone suspicious. In the back of our minds, we all know that once any one of us shows any sign of intelligence, our lives will be ruined. So to all you insurgent goats out there, watch your step or else, or else, I’ll think of something.

Now, if you’re wondering how we can be so smart despite all the scientific evidence disproving everything I am claiming, it’s because scientists really don’t know anything about us. Since, if it hasn’t become obvious, they are idiots and have no real clue about anything, all their proven evidence are assumptions. I guess they don’t want humans worrying goats are savage beasts so they assure the people we are fine, gentle creatures to avoid a ruckus. Their loss, our gain.

Although we are one of the most intelligent species, our bodies limit our capabilities. We can do more than humans think, of course, like having incomprehensible super strength. But walking on four legs drains a lot of energy, which is a major setback.

So, if you haven’t figured it out, I am the GOAT. Not the one that produces milk–well, yes, that goat–but I am also the Greatest Of All Time, as some people refer the acronym GOAT to. I am by far the best at being dumb, the most intelligent of them all, the one who never makes a mistake. Most of the time. That being said, I decided to have a little fun, knowing that I was too competent to get caught.

Let me tell you, it was only out of curiosity that I ended up in LeBron James’s mansion. I, being the ear to the “outside world”, had evidently heard of him as the famous basketball player. Since his house wasn't far off from the pasture I lived in, and I’ve always wondered what conditions an athlete lived in, I decided to pay it a visit. Okay, before you ask if I walked, or rather trotted, the whole way there, I didn’t. I hopped into the back of a truck, like any sane goat would. The day was the nice kind of windy, when the breeze was refreshing rather than stinging. As a matter of fact, the wind did so much to be loud enough to cover the sounds of a crazy but canny goat happily dancing in the back of a truck.

LeBron James’s 23-million-dollar mansion was more impressive in person than described. There was a giant pool on the outside, and the mansion kind of reminded me of a hotel. It wasn’t that hard to sneak in, just some imposing super strength to pop a locked window open from the outside, and into the mansion I went. The instant I stepped in, I was immediately lost in the daze of rooms and hallways. Everything, from the floor to the ceiling was elegant. I expected there to be basketball accessories lined up against the wall but it looked more like a, well, what you’d expect a mansion to look like.

A specific door caught my eye, and I came to a halt in front of it. The door seemed out of place in all the immaculate marble, because it had a life-size sticker of LeBron James dunking on a hoop. I nudged the door with my hoof, and not surprisingly, it was locked. With some more super-strength and my super sleuth skills, I pushed the door open soundlessly. My mouth dropped open. The room was pretty much a museum that was actually interesting. It was organized, with a section for trophies, a wall for jerseys, and a display of basketballs. But the part of the room that caught my eye were the shoes.

I have an affinity for shoes, and I don’t exactly know why. Maybe it’s because of the idea of walking without sharp things prodding into my hooves. The shoes were large, size 15, but my front hooves immediately stuck to the soles of the sneakers. Yet another one of my amazing powers. The sneakers had a big check mark on the side, for some random reason, and they were purple and gold. Letting out a sigh of amenity, my mind wandered off to a basketball game. Only in this basketball game, I was the star. I could hear people cheering,

“Go, the GOAT! Go, the GOAT!” It was the best time of my life.

“Thief!” A cry rang through the air. I whipped my head back and forth. How ironic was it that the day I decided to sneak into LeBron James’s house, a thief simultaneously broke into the basketball star’s mansion?

“Thief!” I heard the cry again. This time, as I looked around the room, in search of the thief, I found a boy at the doorway with a finger pointing in my direction. I crane my neck, and then the realization hits me. I was the thief. I was having so much fun that I forgot I wasn’t invisible. Without a second’s hesitation, I sprinted out the door. Only moments later did I realize the only door out the room was where the little kid was standing. I crashed into him and galloped down the hallway, with no plan in mind. Stomping footsteps and yelling echoed in the hallways, as I desperately tried to navigate the house. Finally, as I reached a dead end, I conceded that I was hopelessly lost. There was only one thing I could do, to avoid getting caught. After a few seconds of stalling, and reconsidering my life choices, I squeezed my eyes shut and ran through the wall.

Only to end up in another room. I shook my head, dizzy from the collision.

“Over there!” I heard a yell, and through the corner of my eye, I saw a tall man without his pants clumsily running through the hallway. Oh. My. God. I was face to face with LeBron James.

“Stop, you thief!” The screech snapped me back into reality, and I continued ramming into walls until I could feel soft grass on my hooves. It was only then when I realized I still had LeBron James’s shoes on.

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