A Whole Nother Storyby Dr. Cuthbert Soup, Timmins Illustrated by
Make way, Lemony Snicket and Pseudonymous Boch! Dr. Cuthbert Soup has a Whole 'Nother Story for middle graders everywhere....See more details below
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Make way, Lemony Snicket and Pseudonymous Boch! Dr. Cuthbert Soup has a Whole 'Nother Story for middle graders everywhere....
Read an Excerpt
Mr. Cheeseman had been driving for three hours when finally night began to move aside and the new day inched slowly above the distant hills.
“Okay, gang,” said Mr. Cheeseman, checking his rearview mirror and happy to find that it remained completely free of pursuers. “Looks like we made it. Pinky hasn’t growled in over an hour, so at least for the time being, it looks as though we’re out of danger.”
“Can we do the names now?” Crandall said with a yawn.
The only fun part about being on the run from various pursuers, all falling over themselves to get their hands on the LVR, was that each time Mr. Cheeseman and his family moved, he required the children to completely change their identities. This was done for their own safety. And the best part was that they were each allowed to choose their own names, both first and last, with absolutely no interference from their father, who felt that a child’s creativity should never be harnessed.
“Sure,” said Mr. Cheeseman. “If you’re ready.” “I’m ready,” said Crandall. “I’ve already got my new name all picked out. From now on, you can call me . . .” Crandall paused for dramatic effect as he always did, chewing on his giant wad of flavorless bubble gum. “. . . Gerard LaFontaine.”
Mr. Cheeseman rubbed his chin and nodded his head slowly, also for dramatic effect.
“I like it,” he said. “Good work, Gerard.” “Thanks,” said Gerard, who in the past had gone by such names as Ernesto Diablo, Johnny Cigar, Carlton J. Moneypants, and, most recently, Crandall Moriarty.
“Hmm, I don’t know. You don’t really look like a Gerard,” said Saffron, who in the past had given herself such names as Lucretia Dee, Paprika Jones, Salmonella Sneezeguard, and, most recently, Saffron Ponderosa.
“I kind of like it,” said Barton. “It sounds . . . sophisticated.”
“That’s what I mean,” said Saffron with a flip of her auburn hair. “Doesn’t really suit him at all.”
“I am so phosisticrated,” said the newly named Gerard. “Anyway, it’s probably better than your new name, Saffron.” “I will thank you,” replied Saffron, “to address me by my proper name, which, from this point forward, will be Magenta- Jean Jurgenson.”
Gerard’s first inclination was to make fun of his sister’s new name, but he had to admit that Magenta- Jean Jurgenson had a pretty good ring to it, and so he decided to simply keep his mouth shut.
Steve the sock puppet, on the other hand (the left hand, to be precise), showed no such restraint and blurted out, “That’s the dumbest name I’ve ever heard.”
Saffron, or I should say Magenta- Jean, reached out and flicked Steve the sock puppet with her middle finger.
“Well I like it very much,” said Mr. Cheeseman. “It is a bit of a mouthful, however.”
“You can call me Maggie for short,” said Magenta- Jean. “Unless you’re angry with me. Then you can say, ‘Magenta- Jean Jurgenson, you get in here this instant!’ ”
“Come now,” said Mr. Cheeseman, looking at his daughter in the rearview mirror. “When was the last time I got angry with you?”
“October sixteenth of last year,” said Maggie, who had nothing short of an incredible memory. “About four forty in the afternoon.”
“Well I don’t remember that at all,” said Mr. Cheeseman. “Why was I angry with you?”
“Well if you don’t remember, then I don’t think I’ll remind you,” said Maggie.
“Point well made, Maggie,” said Mr. Cheeseman. “Okay, Barton, you’re next. Have you decided upon a new name for yourself?”
“Yup,” said Barton, who had previously answered to such names as Figaro Lowenstein, Antoine Razorback, Lucias Aloisius von Dignacious III, and, most recently, Barton Burton. “My new name will be Joe Smith.”
Maggie and Gerard immediately broke into laughter, assuming their older brother must be joking. When he himself failed to so much as crack a smile, they knew he must be serious.
“Joe Smith?” said Gerard. “That’s not very posistiphated.” “I hate to say it,” said Maggie, twirling a strand of reddish hair around her index finger, “but I kind of agree with Gerard. Joe Smith just seems kind of . . . boring.”
“Well,” said Mr. Cheeseman, “it is slightly less imaginative than we’ve come to expect from you.”
“But Dad, you’re jumping to conclusions before having all the evidence— something you’ve always told us not to do. Sure, the name Joe Smith might be kind of boring. Unless it looks like this.”
He handed his father a piece of paper upon which he had written the name Jough Psmythe.
Mr. Cheeseman took his eyes off the road and rearview mirror long enough to glance at the piece of paper. He said nothing and simply broke into a smile that indicated “That’s more like it.”
“What is it?” clamored Gerard. “What does it say?”
Mr. Cheeseman handed the piece of paper back over his shoulder and, as Gerard reached for it, Maggie snatched it away.
“Jough Psmythe?” she said, wadding up the paper in disgust.
“What? You don’t like it?” asked Jough, who could be very sensitive about such things.
“That’s not it at all,” said Maggie. “In fact, I have to admit it’s perfect. I only wish I had come up with it first.”
“That’s ridiculous,” said Steve the sock puppet. “Jough is a boy’s name.”
Back at the pale yellow house that Mr. Cheeseman and his children had most recently called home, the occupants of the gray car and the little brown car had shaken off the effects of the Inertia Ray and had returned to normal— only to find that the white station wagon had vanished.
As the two cars drove away from the yellow house in opposite directions, a third car, a long black sedan with equally black windows, pulled slowly into the driveway.
The doors opened and four men in dark suits and dark sunglasses hopped out of the car. Truth be told, this is only an expression: they did not actually hop out of the car, as this would not only increase one’s chances of hitting one’s head on the way out but also look very silly.
And trust me when I say that these were not men who were in the habit of doing anything to make themselves look silly.
As the serious- looking men stood before the pale yellow house, none of them gave even the slightest thought to the lovely smell of the freshly wet pavement of the driveway.
Instead, three of the men looked to the fourth as if awaiting instructions. The man they looked to was known only as Mr. 5.
The other three were known as Mr. 29, Mr. 88, and Mr. 207. This should give you an idea as to just how important Mr. 5 was in the grand scheme of things. Tall and slim, Mr. 5 had an exceedingly bony face and cheeks so hollow it looked as if they were sewn tightly together from the inside. His bald, sweaty head and his large reflective sunglasses gave him the look of a shiny, pale insect.
Without speaking, he nodded toward Mr. 88 and Mr. 207. The two men nodded back, apparently in complete agreement with what Mr. 5 had not said.
The two men then walked around the side of the house toward the backyard, leaving Mr. 5 and Mr. 29, a fellow of enormous size with giant rings on each of his giant fingers, standing in the driveway. Mr. 5 walked up the steps to the front porch and Mr. 29 followed dutifully.
When they reached the front door, Mr. 5 looked at his oversized compatriot and nodded as if what they were about to do they had done a thousand times before. Mr. 29 responded to the nod by removing a small but powerful set of bolt cutters from his pocket. He applied the bolt cutters to the door handle and, with one quick snap with his enormous hands, clipped off the entire doorknob, causing it to fall to the ground and bounce down the front stairs and roll into a flower bed, nearly crushing a ladybug named Doris.
Again Mr. 5 nodded toward Mr. 29, who simply responded by kicking in the front door to the house. He kicked with such force that the door actually said goodbye to its hinges and fell onto the living room floor.
“They’re gone,” said Mr. 29.
“I can see that, you idiot,” hissed Mr. 5 as he grabbed the large man’s necktie and pulled him close to his unnaturally bony face. “The question is, why are they gone?”
Mr. 5 released Mr. 29’s necktie and wiped a bead of cold sweat from his clammy forehead. As he did, the sleeve of his left arm receded just far enough to reveal a series of letters and numbers tattooed on his wrist in dark black ink. The oddly cryptic tattoo read 3VAW1X319.
Just then, Mr. 88 and Mr. 207 burst in through the back door.
“Looks like they’re gone,” said Mr. 207.
“Brilliant deduction,” said Mr. 5. “Did your mother drop you on your head? And what is that in your hand?” “It’s a plum,” replied Mr. 207, biting into the bright purple fruit. “There’s a tree out back. Very nice flavor.” “Get rid of it! This is not snack time!”
Mr. 207 sheepishly tossed the partially eaten plum onto the floor.
“We’re here for one reason and one reason only,” said Mr. 5, pacing about the room. “Do you understand me?” The three men all nodded agreeably.
“This is the seventh time now. The seventh time that we have responded to information as to their whereabouts, and the seventh time we’ve arrived too late. Somebody must be tipping them off. Someone inside the company.” Mr. 5 looked suspiciously at the three men standing before him.
“Well . . . certainly you don’t think it was one of us,” said Mr. 88.
“It’s possible, isn’t it?” said Mr. 5 as he squatted down to inspect a doggie chew toy left behind in the panic. “Who do you think is tipping them off? The family dog?” “No sir,” said Mr. 88 with an incredulous chuckle. “Of course not! But when I find out who is responsible, that person will wish he had never been born. That I promise you.”
Mr. 5 reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a very small cell phone, about the size of a matchbook. He put the phone to his mouth and spoke a single word. “Headquarters.”
He waited for a moment, then a woman’s voice came through the earpiece.
“Headquarters. Go ahead, Mr. 5.”
“Yes,” said Mr. 5. “I need to speak to Mr. 1 immediately.” “I’m sorry, but Mr. 1 is unavailable at this moment. May I take a message?”
“No, you may not,” scowled Mr. 5. “Let me speak to Mr. 2.”
“Mr. 2 is in a meeting, but I’d be happy to . . .”
“Very well,” said Mr. 5, quickly losing his patience. “Let me speak to . . .”
“I’m afraid Mr. 3 is also unavailable. Would you like me to put you through to Ms. 4?”
Just the mention of Ms. 4’s name made Mr. 5’s face look as though it hurt very badly.
“Fine,” he huffed. “I will speak to Ms. 4.”
“One moment please,” said the voice at the other end. Mr. 5 covered the mouthpiece of the tiny phone with his thumb, then spun around to face the others. “We have failed for the last time, gentlemen. Next time, we will find them and we will crush them.”
This bit of information seemed to pique Mr. 88’s interest. “How?” he asked.
“How what?” said Mr. 5, his thumb still pressed over the mouthpiece.
“How will we crush them? Will we use one of those giant machines at the junkyard that they use to crush old cars? I think that would work pretty well.”
“Or how about a steam roller?” Mr. 207 offered. “That would crush ’em real good, too.”
“A steam roller?” scoffed Mr. 88. “That’s for squishing, not crushing.”
“Aren’t they the same thing?” asked Mr. 207. “Squishing and crushing?”
“Hardly,” said Mr. 88. “Take a tube of toothpaste, for instance. You don’t crush it. You squish it from the bottom.” “I usually squeeze mine from the middle,” said the normally silent Mr. 29. “My wife hates that.”
“Would you shut up, all of you!” barked Mr. 5. “What does toothpaste have to do with anything?” “Nothing,” admitted Mr. 88. “I was only trying to figure out what might be the best method of crushing Mr. Cheeseman and his family.”
“It was only a figure of speech, you idiot,” said Mr. 5. “Oh,” said Mr. 88 with a sudden look of disappointment.
“So then . . . no actual crushing?”
“No. I meant only that we will find them and destroy them. Ruin them. Devastate them to the point that they will wish they had never dared to defy us in the first place.”
“I see,” said Mr. 88 as he considered this for a moment. “How about squishing?”
On a small tropical island, somewhere in the southern hemi sphere, there stood a large factory nearly hidden from view by the dense jungle foliage. On a hill above that factory was a large office building, and in that building was an office belonging to a small, thin- lipped woman with long red fingernails named Ms. 4. (That is not to say her long red fingernails were named Ms. 4 but that the woman herself was named that. As of this writing, the woman had not named her fingernails.)
The phone on her desk emitted a low beep, followed by the sound of a young man’s voice saying, “Ms. 4? Mr. 6 is on line 5. I’m sorry. Correction, Mr. 5 is on line 6.”
The thin- lipped woman with the nameless red fingernails rearranged her face to look slightly annoyed, then reached out and picked up the phone on her desk. “Hello, Mr. 5. What is the current status? Have you secured the LVR?”
“Someone must have tipped them off. We . . . lost them. Again,” said Mr. 5, swallowing his pride.
“I would advise you, Mr. 5, not to fail again,” said Ms. 4, looking out her window at the bustling factory below. “If you wish to keep your current position with the company.”
“I believe I have already demonstrated that I will do what ever it takes to get the LVR. And I will get it. Or I will die trying,” said Mr. 5, wiping his cold, moist, boney forehead with his tattooed left wrist.
“Yes. Yes, you will,” said Ms. 4 through her thin lips.
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