Melvin Beederman Superhero: Invasion from Planet Dork
By Greg Trine
Henry Holt and Company Copyright © 2010 Greg Trine
All rights reserved.
Superhero Melvin Beederman had been enjoying a long shower while singing one of his favorite Grateful Fred songs, "Love Is a Nose but You Better Not Pick It." All was well in his world.
He toweled off, rubbed some Melvin Mousse into his hair to form a perfect M, flexed in front of the mirror, and went to see about breakfast.
Was there a pretzel in the house? There was not. That's what you call an emergency.
Holy this-is-an-emergency, indeed! It sure was. Even Melvin's pet rat, Hugo, had something to say on the subject.
"Squeak," he said with a twitch of his whiskers. This either meant "Get me some pretzels and make it snappy," or "You were a little flat on 'Love Is a Nose but You Better Not Pick It.'" Melvin was never exactly sure what Hugo was saying. He just knew he wanted pretzels as much as his rat did. Maybe more.
Melvin and Hugo lived together in a tree house overlooking the city of Los Angeles, where Melvin saved the world on a daily basis, with the help of his trusty sidekick, Candace Brinkwater. But this morning, work would have to wait. He needed to stock up on snacks so that he and his pet could start the day off properly — eating pretzels, drinking root beer, and watching their favorite TV show, The Adventures of Thunderman.
"I'll be back in a flash," Melvin said to Hugo, as he launched himself out the window. "Up, up, and away!"
He hit the ground hard. He got to his feet and tried again.
"Up, up, and away!"
He hit the ground even harder.
"Up, up, and away!"
"Up, up, and away!"
On the fifth try he was up and flying. This was how it went with Melvin Beederman. It always took him at least five tries to get up and flying. But no matter. He was up in the air now and on a mission, which is the same thing as being on a pretzel run, but mission sounds better, so we'll go with that.
As he streaked across the sky, Melvin looked down, and what did he see? Underwear — and lots of it. He couldn't turn off his x-ray vision, so he saw everyone's underwear whether he wanted to or not.
But underwear was the least of his problems. Something didn't feel right. Melvin could sense when trouble was brewing, and right now it was — or at least it was about to be. He didn't care if trouble was brewing or if it was just thinking about brewing. Trouble was trouble and it was his job to do some-thing about it.
* * *
While Melvin was busy on his snack food errand ... uh, mission ... and feeling that something was not quite right, evil was lurking a few million miles away. A million miles may seem like a long distance, but not when you have a spaceship powered by Gamma Drive. And this was just what some evil aliens had. They'd stopped for gas and snacks at Alpha Centauri and were now headed to Earth to engage in sinister and devious deeds. They hadn't decided which it would be yet and were playing Rock Paper Scissors to figure it out.
"Ready? Go," said one of the aliens named Monkey Wrench.
His real name was Zzykrkv, but that was just way too hard to pronounce — especially in a children's book. Before deciding to invade Earth, he and his two companions had found an English dictionary on the Galaxy Wide Web and chosen new names so they could blend in. Monkey Wrench's companions were named Elbow and Shoe, because Przzt and Cryykt were just too weird.
Monkey Wrench was the leader. Elbow was second in command and was referred to as Number Two, since he hadn't showered in a few Gamma Years. (He was an alien version of the McNasty Brothers, if you want to know the truth.) Shoe was third in command and the officer in charge of laundry and cooking.
"Anyone care for a Zig Newton?" Shoe asked. "Fresh out of the oven."
"Later. We have to decide if we're going to be sinister or devious," Monkey Wrench said.
"Rock Paper Scissors. Ready? Go."
They went. Rock won. "Sinister, it is."
The aliens were coming from their home planet, Dork. They were on a mission to kidnap a few Earthlings for science class, and they figured Los Angeles, California, was as good a place as any to start looking for the right specimens. This was bad news, of course — bad news for Melvin Beederman and his superhero assistant, Candace Brinkwater, because they were in charge of protecting the city.
A CRY FOR HELP
Melvin had felt strange all day. After returning from his pretzel run ... uh, mission ... he had eaten breakfast with his rat, Hugo, while watching an episode of The Adventures of Thunderman. Thunderman and his assistant, Thunder Thighs, always ended up on top. This inspired Melvin to get out there and save the world, even on rainy days!
But today he felt something was off. Something was coming — something devious, something sinister, something that smelled bad.
Melvin could hardly keep his mind on his work, which, of course, was catching bad guys. He had been flying over the city all morning. Finally, he landed on one of the tall buildings downtown and reached for his pretzel phone. He dialed Superhero James, his best friend from his days at the Superhero Academy.
"James, it's Melvin," Melvin said.
"Buddy!" James was the superhero in charge of Atlanta and hadn't seen Melvin since the Superhero Convention in Las Vegas. "What's up?"
"Trouble is brewing," Melvin said. "Feels like bigger-than-normal trouble. I was wondering if you sensed it, too."
"Hmm, now that you mention it, I do feel something. I thought maybe I was imagining it."
All the graduates of the Superhero Academy could sense evil a mile away. In this case, it seemed that Melvin and James could sense it when it was still millions of miles away.
"Better call Margaret and patch her in," James suggested. They'd known Superhero Margaret at the academy, too. The trio had been best friends ever since.
"Right." Melvin dialed Margaret's number. A few seconds later her voice came through.
"Superhero Margaret, villain thumper with a smile."
"Margaret, it's Melvin."
A superhero conference call was a very cool thing! It impresses the narrator, anyway. But back to our story.
"Hey, Melvin and James. Can you hold on a second?" Her voice moved away from the phone. "Not so fast!"
"Ah ... that felt good. There's nothing like catching bad guys. What's up?"
"Trouble is heading our way," Melvin said. "Can you feel it?"
"Wow ... now that you mention it, I think I do. I thought it was heartburn, but trouble brewing makes more sense. Cool! I don't have to go to the doctor." Margaret hated going to the doctor almost as much as she hated bad guys.
"We may have to team up on this one," Melvin said. "Can you two come out to the West Coast? I've got extra sleeping bags."
"I'm on my way," said James.
"Me too," added Margaret.
SUPERHEROES ON PATROL
They weren't the best Zig Newtons Monkey Wrench had ever tasted, but he kept quiet about it. He didn't want to hurt Shoe's feelings. Besides, he had other things on his minds. Their spaceship was getting closer and closer to planet Earth. He couldn't wait to see Earthlings up close. He had seen them plenty of times in books and on video in science class, but seeing them in person would be a first for him.
"Do you think it's true what they say about humans?" Elbow asked, finishing the last of the Zig Newtons. "That they have only one brain?"
"Think so," said Monkey Wrench.
"And they have only two eyes!" Shoe shook his head in disbelief. "I cannot imagine ... you could read only one book at a time. And what are those things they use to move about?"
"That's right — legs. How interesting."
* * *
While the aliens were getting closer to carrying out their sinister plan, Melvin Beederman was meeting with his sidekick, Candace Brinkwater, at the library. He met her there every day after school to help her with math. Then they saved the world together. This was their arrangement — first homework, then bad-guy thumping. Occasionally, they would kick in some doors to round out the day.
"How are things?" Candace asked.
"Not sure," Melvin said. "Bigger-than-normal trouble might be heading our way. Do you feel it?"
Candace slapped her forehead. "I thought that I ate too many pretzels at lunch. But big trouble makes more sense. What kind of trouble?"
"That's the question we've been asking."
"James and Margaret are coming out. Four superheroes are better than two. Finish your math. They're meeting us at my tree house."
Candace smiled and hurried to finish her math. She'd never been inside Melvin's tree house before, but it was on her to-do list. She had her own bedroom, of course, but Melvin had a tree house! Life just wasn't fair.
Outside the library, the partners in uncrime launched themselves. Or at least Candace did. Melvin joined her on the fifth try, after crashing, splatting, thudding, and kabonking. Then they flew to the hilltop where Melvin's tree house stood.
James and Margaret were waiting for them inside. Hugo was busy entertaining the new guests with an episode of The Adventures of Thunderman and pretzels.
"Squeak," said Hugo when he saw Melvin and Candace. This either meant "Come and join the party," or "Three's a party; five's a crowd." You never knew with Hugo. Although, Candace did — she was fluent in rat.
But she's not narrating the story, now is she?
It was a mini hugfest as the academy friends were reunited. Then Melvin gestured to his partner in uncrime. "You all remember my sidekick, Candace Brinkwater."
"Of course we do, Melvin. We just worked together in book seven."
"Oh, that's right." Melvin was so bothered by the thought that big trouble was heading their way that he forgot all about book seven. It happens.
He grabbed a map of the city and spread it out for his three companions. "Where do bad guys like to spend time in this town?"
"Beats me, Melvin," James said. "It's your town."
Melvin turned to his Candace. "Where do you think trouble's mostly likely to come from?"
Candace tapped a finger on the map. "Two places. Lair Hill and beneath the Hollywood sign."
James and Margaret looked confused.
Melvin explained. "New lairs are popping up every week in those places. Bad guys galore."
They decided to split up. Margaret and Candace would patrol Lair Hill, while Melvin and James would check out the hillside below the Hollywood sign. The two pairs of superheroes flew in circles above these areas, looking down for any sign of trouble.
Big mistake! They should have been looking up.
While Melvin, Candace, Margaret, and James were busy patrolling and looking in the wrong direction, the aliens were getting closer to planet Earth.
"We're getting closer to planet Earth," Monkey Wrench said. He didn't know that he wasn't supposed to repeat what the narrator says. But what can you expect from an alien? Aliens may have two brains, but they don't know much about storytelling.
Monkey Wrench and Elbow were at the ship's controls. Shoe was busy in the galley, rustling up something to eat. "Anybody in the mood for rumpkin pie?"
Monkey Wrench and Elbow were too busy to answer.
"We're entering Earth's atmosphere," Monkey Wrench said. "Activate the cloaking device."
"Commencing cloaking activation."
They usually didn't talk to each other with such formal speech. It just looks better in a book to have the leader of a spaceship barking out commands and others responding with words like "commencing."
The problem was that Elbow didn't commence soon enough....
* * *
At a nearby air force base, Private Gunther Whusterflap picked up a strange signal on his radar screen. "Sir, some kind of unidentified flying object is entering Earth's atmosphere."
The commanding officer looked over Gunther's shoulder. "Holy alien invasion! Is it my imagination, or are they traveling at Gamma Speed?"
Holy alien invasion, indeed! Wait a minute — how did he know about the aliens? He was just staring at a moving dot on a computer screen. Did he take a peek at the manuscript?
"Oops," said the commanding officer. Peeking at the manuscript was a no-no.
"What are your orders, sir?" asked Private Whusterflap.
"Get the president on the pho —"
Suddenly the blip on the radar screen vanished.
The good news is that the cloaking device worked. Or is that bad news? It depends on whose side you're on. It's good news for the aliens — bad news for the inhabitants of planet Earth.
And it was very bad news for the people of Los Angeles and the four superheroes who were trying to protect them.
* * *
Shoe decided against rumpkin pie and instead made lunarfish sandwiches. He knew Monkey Wrench and Elbow wouldn't say no to lunarfish sandwiches.
He was right. They didn't. They'd need lots of energy to carry out their sinister kidnapping plan. "Thanks, that hit the spot," said Monkey Wrench.
"Yes, thanks," said Elbow.
There's nothing like lunarfish sandwiches before a kidnapping.
WHO DO WE KIDNAP?
Now that Monkey Wrench and Elbow had polished off the lunarfish sandwiches and let out a few satisfying burps, they had the energy to put the pedal to the metal ... or to push that little lever thingy forward. In any case, the spaceship picked up speed and raced through space toward Earth ... and closer to one particular city in Southern California.
"Los Angeles, dead ahead." In addition to using words such as "commencing," Elbow thought it would be a good idea to say things like "dead ahead," which, of course, also look good in a book.
The spaceship was still cloaked. It was invisible to the naked human eye. And let's be honest, most human eyes are naked. But that didn't mean it was silent. Well, the engine was, but not the wind it caused by moving at Gamma Speed.
The ship came in low over the ocean surface, causing twenty-five-foot waves from Malibu to the Ventura County Line.
This is what you call surf's up. This is what you call excellent conditions for hanging ten. This is what you call a good excuse for leaving work early and heading to the beach. This is what you call —
Where were we? Oh, yes — the cloaked spaceship was moving across the ocean, creating some pretty good waves for local surfers. And they weren't too shabby for local narrators.
"Where do we set this puppy down?" asked Elbow, referring to the spaceship.
"Why not the beach?" Monkey Wrench said.
Yes, why not? They could create more waves so that people could take time off work. And so, just south of Malibu, the cloaked spaceship came to a stop. A few minutes later three aliens appeared, after they finished the last of the lunarfish sandwiches.
* * *
It was a crowded day at the beach — people were sunning themselves, playing volleyball, splashing in the water.
"How do we choose?" asked Monkey Wrench.
Elbow shook his head. "I don't know. So many victims, so little time."
He was only half right. True, there were lots of potential kidnap victims. But they weren't exactly in a hurry to choose.
"Let's head into the city and see what we can see," Monkey Wrench suggested.
They did. They went to downtown Los Angeles and began looking around. There were even more people than at the beach. The aliens wandered about, looking for just the right human to capture and bring back with them to their planet. Not only were there too many to choose from, but each one was different — fat, skinny, old, young, cute, ugly, pimpled, nonpimpled.
"Holy I-can't-make-up-my-mind!" Monkey Wrench said. "This isn't going to be easy."
Holy can't-make-up-his-mind, indeed! What a whiner! Aliens!
Not only was it difficult for the three aliens to decide who to kidnap, it was even harder to agree on someone.
"How about that one?" Shoe would suggest, pointing to a man on a bicycle.
"Nah," Monkey Wrench said. "Too fat."
"Nah," Elbow said. "Too ugly." This was one of Elbow's pet peeves. He hated ugly humans. And ugly aliens, for that matter. But let's be honest — Elbow himself wasn't exactly a looker!
"Or that one?"
Everyone was too something. The aliens couldn't agree on anyone. That is, until they wandered over to Lair Hill.
"Look!" said Shoe. "Up in the sky."
"It's a bird," said Elbow.
"It's a plane," added Monkey Wrench. "It's ... what is it?"
It was Candace and Margaret, that's what. And the aliens came to an agreement, right there on Bad Guy Boulevard, which runs into Sinister Street and parallel to Devious Drive. "Let's capture them and get out of here," Monkey Wrench said.
"Yes, let's," said Elbow.
"Immediately," said Shoe. "Sooner if possible."
They set their phasers on STUN and pointed them at the two superheroes patrolling the skies above Lair Hill.
Candace and Margaret never knew what hit them. But they felt it.
The question is, did they crash, splat, thud, or kabonk?
You decide. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Melvin Beederman Superhero: Invasion from Planet Dork by Greg Trine. Copyright © 2010 Greg Trine. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.