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The Tooth Fairy War and Other Tales

Jeromy Henry
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Michele Dutcher

The Amazing Professor Zaubermann's Travelling Galactic Menagerie

by John David Rose

The Amazing Professor Zaubermann tried to subdue his smirk and the subsequent quiver of his mustachioed upper lip, but could not conceal the glint of greed in his eyes as he took the fist-sized diamond from the two-headed rock boy and held it up to Avogadro's light.


Now there are many things in this opening sentence which might give you reason to pause.  Who is the Amazing Professor Zaubermann?  Where did a poor little rock boy come by such an enormous diamond anyway, and if he has two heads does he have to have shirts specially tailored with extra wide necks?  And finally, while it is true that the Italian scientist Avogadro has had many things named after him, Avogadro's number, Avogadro's constant, Avogadro's law, and, of course, Avogadro's one-liner, which has something to do with a bushel of small subterranean mammals with hilariously small eyes, what exactly is Avogadro's light? That refers to the light coming from Avogadro's star, a K-type star with a system of four planets named Lorenzo, Romano, Amedeo, and finally, cold, tiny, and lonely Carlo, who has of late been demoted to a dwarf planet by beings who, ironically, have existed only a twenty-two-thousandth of the time that the planet has.  But I digress...


"And where on Amedeo did you find this, my boy?" the professor asked.  The short three-legged rock boy looked up at the professor with eyes like chunks of coal.  The professor tapped with irritation at the iTranslator strapped to his belt.  He couldn't tell if the boy understood. 


"Oh, well, never mind," the professor said in a soothing voice. "This will be fine.  Here is your ticket." He tipped his purple top hat and pulled a ticket from the pocket of his red frock coat; the diamond had somehow disappeared. Then the professor scanned the rocky plain around him as he ushered the rock boy up the gangplank and into his ship.


"Welcome to the Amazing Professor Zaubermann's Travelling Galactic Menagerie," the professor shouted as they entered the hold.  An aisle ran down the center flanked by glass cages.  A grating sound that the professor interpreted as a gasp came from the boy's mouths as he ran with a heavy three-legged canter up to the first cage.  Inside the cage the walls were painted poorly with images of exotic purple plants over a chalky baby blue background.  Resting on the concrete floor was a large aquamarine blob with seven tentacles flopped all around it and motionless. 


"That is the septipus of Camelopardalis IV," the professor said.  The rock boy looked up at him with one head, as the other continued staring into the cage.  The professor tapped at the glass.  He sighed and looked disappointed.  "It's usually a little more active."  Not discouraged in the least, the rock boy ran on to the next chamber. "Now that is the carnivorous titcat of Deneb Kaitos Shemali III..."




When they had reached the last glass cage, the rock boy found the door ajar.  He looked at the professor and opened it with the one rocky arm that protruded from his chest. 


"Yes, this cage is empty... at the moment.  Please, feel free to check it out," the professor said in the sweetest voice he could muster.  As the boy entered, the professor leapt forward and sealed the door.


"Ha ha haa... ah ha! Welcome to the Amazing Professor Zaubermann's Travelling Galactic Menagerie indeed!" the professor yelled with an overwrought maniacal tone.  He turned and ran off toward the control room to initiate the launch sequence.  A sound like two cement blocks grating against each other came from the boy's mouths as he ran as fast as his three little legs could carry him at the glass door, but despite being made of rocks, he bounced off the force field reinforced glass and landed on his back in the cage.




In the end the professor made two critical mistakes.  First, he failed to realize that the rock people of Amedeo weren't quite rock people after all, but were, in fact, graviton-based life forms, creatures of gravitational force who wore rocks the same way you or I would wear a cashmere sweater.  They were extensions of Amedeo's gravitational field and could not be removed from it.  The boy simply had to use his innate ability to increase the attraction between his body and the planet.  As he did, the engines of the professor's ship whined and lurched as if they were towing the whole planet behind them.  Finally they gave out.  The ship plunged toward Amedeo's surface, and the professor only escaped at the last moment in the lifeboat.  He laughed maniacally again, twisting his long thin moustache, for he still held a diamond the size of a croquet ball, and with it he could buy a whole fleet of ships.


The second mistake the professor made was he failed to realize that this precious fist-sized diamond was actually the by-product of the intense heat and gravitational pressure found inside the digestive tract of the rock people of Amedeo, the type of by-product that was produced at least once a day.  In fact, a family of rock people could easily produce a bucket of these, for lack of a better term, digestive diamonds, of varying carat, cut, color, and clarity, every day and as such the diamonds were extremely plentiful, filling most ravines and small valleys and generally scattered randomly all about the surface of the planet.  Failing to take into consideration the economic principle of supply and demand, and not knowing that ships from the Royal Rotanev Trading Company had been hauling shiploads of digestive diamonds away from the other side of Amedeo for years, and that they had thoroughly plugged the galactic market with them, the professor didn't realize that the diamond he held so close to his heart was utterly and completely worthless.


Meanwhile somewhere on the surface of Amedeo, a rock boy played with his mostly-dead new pet septipus.



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