Superkid and the Mutant Plants

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Going Commando

It would have been nice if Derrick could have just skipped merrily to Aaron's house so that he could change him to Superkid and have him clean up this mess. But evil, inconsiderate as it always is, never makes it easy for anyone. So Derrick ran - not only to find Superkid as quickly as possible but also because he had a horde of mutated plants chasing after him.

"HELP! SUPERKID!" he bellowed, "HELP! SUPERKID! SAVE ME!"

He turned into the Purns' yard, racing on the stone path between two seas of evil grass that slurped at him. He slammed into the door and twisted the knob only to find it locked!

"HELP SUPERKID!" He pounded desperately on the door. He glanced back and saw the monster horde charging toward him and closing the gap fast! He pounded even more desperately and screamed, "SUPERKIIIIIIIIIID!"

The plants lunged for him and… slammed into him and crashed through the door. They landed in a tangled heap. But as luck would have it, Derrick ended up on top. He scrambled off the pile and ran through the house, yelling, "Superkid? Superkid, where are you?"

He skidded into the kitchen. Near the backdoor, the phone was on the floor, bobbing from the cord connecting it to the cradle on the wall. Given the fact that Mrs. Purn had a strict policy for things having a proper place, this could only mean one thing…

"Mrs. Purn forgot to hang up," Derrick concluded. He picked up the phone and set it back in the cradle. Immediately it rang.

He answered it. "Hello?"

Just then he heard thumping and slithering behind him. He turned and saw the tangled mutant plant heap rolling its way toward him. Though they hadn't been successful in untangling themselves, they had found a way to work together to transport themselves. There's a valuable lesson to be had there, but we have more pressing matters to consider. Derrick certainly did. He dropped the phone and ran. On the floor, the phone mumbled, "Superkid? Superkid, are you there? We need your help!" Then the plant heap rolled over it. Its weight stressed the cord, pulling it out of the cradle and immediately silencing the voice.

Meanwhile, our friend, Derrick - or associate, if you prefer - ran into a hall that immediately split in two. He had a moment to decide: left or right?

Now you, the ever-astute observer, might be wondering why Derrick was hesitating. Well, before we get to that, first we must ask what was down each direction. One led to salvation and the other led to certain doom… okay, so it wasn't quite that dramatic. One led to Superkid's room and the other to his mom's room. But here's the thing: Derrick had never actually been inside Aaron's house. His mom was just too scary! But desperate times call for desperate measures and if Derrick had to face Superkid's mom… well, he hoped it wouldn't come to that.

But he had to decide now - the plants were thumping closer, so eeny meeny miney - there! He ran to the left and grabbed the doorknob, hoping it was the one - crap, locked! He faced the other direction but that was when the plant tangle rolled in, hitting the wall in their haste. He had no choice now. This door was his only hope.

"Help! Superkid! Mrs. Purn! Somebody!"

The plant ball began rolling in his direction. Derrick pounded harder. "Help! Let me in! Save me!"

The plants were nearly on top of him. Vines whipped out to snatch him.

"SUPERKIIIIIIIIID!"

Just as they were about to grab him, the door opened and he fell in. Derrick was pushed and rolled into the room by Aaron who then slammed the door, crushing the vines that had slithered through. There was a muffled screech outside the door that must have been the plants in pain… or a brat throwing a temper tantrum.

Derrick breathed heavily while he recovered. He gulped and gasped, "That was close!"

"Yeah, I thought it would make good suspense," Aaron, who was now Superkid, replied with a grin.

"Ha ha, very funny. I could've died!"

"Why aren't you home with your family?" Mrs. Purn asked from a corner of the room, causing Derrick to jump.

"I came for Superkid," he answered. "It's a disaster out there!"

Mrs. Purn groaned. "What is it about 'no' that no one understands? He's not somebody you can just call whenever some disaster strikes!"

"But there's mutant plants everywhere!" Derrick cried. "We need Superkid to figure out how to get rid of them!"

"What makes you think - "

Suddenly, the window shattered. Mrs. Purn screamed and leapt away as a branch with a hard knobby apple encased in streaks of bark drew back and then another branch with an eyeball within the folds of a pink blossom peered through.

Superkid rushed forward and poked its sensitive ocular organ, causing it to shoot outside with a shriek. He stuck his head out and shouted, "That'll take care of you, peeping tom!"

In retaliation, a branch with two prongs for fingers snatched his head and dragged him through the window. His mom shrieked, "Aaron!" and Derrick yelled, "Superkid!" and rushed to the window to see what had become of his super-powered friend.

Superkid was held in the clutches of a stunted apple tree that appeared to have uprooted itself and walked on two club feet formed by its roots clumping together. All over its crown, where apples should have been, it instead had large veiny eyes that swiveled back and forth, searching for its prey. Its bark was covered in dark boils, some of which had burst and was oozing amber sap, like it was some kind of leper tree. Urgh! Fortunately, our hero wasn't the squeamish type. With the tree gripping him by his head, he was holding on to the branch above to make sure his head didn't pop off like a toy brick and allow his body to drop like a Lincoln log.

Derrick hovered in the window. He called to his friend, "Hey, Superkid, are you all right? You don't need me to help, do you?"

Superkid swung his legs up and wrapped them around the branch so now he was clinging like a monkey. The tree crackled and its bark rippled and became rough and jagged. Our hero grunted in pain but stayed on. So another branch with fingers swung in to pluck him off. It grabbed his ribs and squeezed, forcing his breath out in a loud "Ooooooh!"

"Could use some," he wheezed.

"Dang it," Derrick groaned before he climbed out the window. His foot caught on the sill as he lowered his other toward the ground and he pitched forward into Mrs. Purn's lilac bush. He was pitched right back out by sheer pain when he met the thorns.

"Ow! You bleeping bleep of a bleep bush!" Derrick cussed as forcefully as he could. "That hurt!"

The bush rattled its leaves threateningly. Derrick got the message and scooted out of reach. Then he turned to his friend and proceeded to think of a solution to Superkid's predicament - preferably one that didn't involve him getting close to the evil apple tree.

Fortunately for Derrick - that coward - the solution presented itself in the form of a blonde kid with a bowl cut who charged into the yard, lifted a gaudy but hefty gun, and fired a stream of lime-green liquid at the tree.

The attack was pretty effective. You should have heard the screech! Its branches flailed everywhere, the blossom petals that functioned as the now red and streaming eye-fruit's eyelids blinked furiously, and it stumbled drunkenly around. Oh, and it dropped Superkid.

Superkid immediately bounced to his feet. He quickly brushed himself off, turned to his rescuer and said, "Thanks, Darrin. I knew I could depend on you." He glared pointedly at Derrick.

Derrick's hands shot up in a helpless gesture. "What did you want me to do?"

Before Superkid could answer, the demented apple-and-eyeball tree gave a shriek to let them know it was still there and still a threat. Our three heroes took the hint and immediately ran. The tree gave another obligatory shriek before it clomped after them.

As they ran, Superkid noticed two more blasters bouncing on Darrin's back. They were slung by a belt that went over his shoulder and down to his waist, commando style. As they bounced, something sloshed in their tanks.

"Hey Darrin!" he called. "Where'd you get those water guns?"

"Poolington Mart," Darrin answered. "I convinced my mom to let me get some so we could have a water fight. We were shocked though when we came home and was attacked by all these plants. I managed to find some weed killer and use it in the water guns."

"Good thinking," said Superkid. "Weed killer should take care of these mutant plants."

"Actually, it doesn't seem to work all that great. It just annoys them."

"So what are we going to do?" Derrick panted. Then he said, "Let's find somewhere to hide. I'm getting too tired to run."

Darrin and Superkid agreed. They were wasting energy running when they could be planning. That and the passing mutated flora were taking too much interest in the running apple tree - they might decide to follow its lead and develop motor appendages.

So they took winding paths, making as many turns as they could to throw that twisted tree off their trail and find a safe place to hide. The only problem was everywhere they went, plants were leering at them and the tree managed to catch up to them by taking shortcuts. Poor Derrick was gasping louder than ever, "Can't take - gasp - any more! Need - gasp - rest. Gonna - gasp - die - gasp - soon!"

At last, their luck struck gold in the bad-luck muck - try saying that three times fast. They had turned yet another corner in the futile attempt to lose their pursuer when Darrin cried, "Over there!"

Superkid and Derrick veered after their commando friend, dashing through a junkyard barren of life. It was like a graveyard for rusty machine parts where the ground was steeped with bright orange rust - much too toxic to support plant life and thus the perfect retreat for our three young heroes. They ducked under a cracked loader bucket and leaned back against the curved wall to catch their breath. Once they were done with that - Derrick's gasping reduced to a guttural wheezing - Superkid stood up, faced his partners, and declared, "All right. Now let's figure out what we're going to do. First of all, we need to figure out where all these mutant plants came from."

"Outer space?" wheezed Derrick.

"I'm thinking more local," Superkid said. "Think. What would cause plants to mutate into malevolent agents of destruction?"

"Radiation?" Darrin suggested.

"Our classic suspect," Superkid agreed. "All right then. Do we have anything anywhere that might be the source of this radiation?"

Derrick was too pooped out to make any helpful suggestions. He was so tired he was ignoring the cold of the ground seeping through his pants.

Then he felt something slither up the back of his shirt.

"Yaaaaaak!" Derrick leaped to his feet and smacked his head on the curve of the bucket. Superkid and Darrin turned to him in surprise. Then they turned to face a stranger sight.

A prickly weed was erecting itself to face them. But I think we know by now that plant life everywhere was coming to life, meaning this wasn't so strange. No, what was so strange was that this prickly weed was glowing! Also strange was that there was plant life at all in the hazardous wasteland of the junkyard. Quite a tenacious little beast that weed was. And all the more tenacious was the virulent root that gave it life. In fact, it had shriveled nine times before it had plugged in to its host.

The glowing weed erected itself to its tallest height. Then, with a papery snap, its jagged leaves sprang open and it screeched at them, "Re-e-e-e-e…"

"Aaaaaaaack!" Derrick flew outside with Superkid behind him. Darrin paused to squirt some herbicide at it, causing it to sputter, then he ran out after his friends… and ran into them.

"Ow!" Darrin stumbled around Superkid and then froze.

There were a lot of evil, mutant plants waiting for them just outside the junkyard fence. They milled about like businesspeople at a party, although these partiers were more gruesome than your average businessperson - and less fashionable. They grinned at the sight of the trio and activity picked up a little. Fortunately, none of the plants made a move to cross the gate into the deadly rustlands. There were already a few shriveled husks just past the gate to convince them it was a bad idea. But while they couldn't cross to capture the three humans, neither could the three humans cross to escape the plants.

Superkid muttered, "This is where my cape would come in handy."

"That's at my house," Darrin said. Why was it at his house? Other than to make things harder and more interesting, you mean? Well, if you really haven't already figured it out, Aaron doesn't know about his alter ego, Superkid, so it would be a little awkward if he discovered the costume in his closet, thus Darrin keeps it for him.

But they were still trapped in a rusty junkyard in which the fumes were starting to make the friends' heads swim. But Superkid, who noticed the plants' reluctance to touch the rust-imbued ground, was suddenly struck by an idea.

"Guys," he said, "grab something rusty. We can use them to beat away these mutant plants."

"Why rusty?" Derrick asked as Superkid snatched up an orange-speckled pipe.

"The rust is toxic to plants - and people for that matter," our hero replied, tapping the pipe in his hand to test its weight. Then he looked at his hand, noted the orange spots left on it, and wiped it clean on his shirt. "They should act like garlic to vampires and ward off this menace long enough for us to escape."

So Darrin grabbed a rusty crescent wrench while Derrick grabbed a rusty hacksaw. Armed with rusted weapons, our rustic heroes marched over the rust-imbued wasteland to engage in rust battle with rusty skills… of rust. At the sight of the horrific orange chemical though, the mutant plants retreated before the three of them could touch them. The trio waved their weapons around, forcing the evil vegetation back. There were a few foolhardy ones that slithered in and tried to take them by surprise, but a few thwacks, whaps, and chops sent them plopping to the ground and shriveling. Satisfied that they had showed these mutant plants who was boss, they started toward Darrin's house to retrieve Superkid's costume so that he could be properly attired for the grand battle between humans and plants.

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