Julia Holmgren • Alessandra Gugliotti • Sashira Camacho • Samuel Kleis • Emmeline Arehart • Alayna Carlock • Hannah Wong • Sarah Estes • Gabe Ratcliffe • Brooke Eckhardt • Abigail Snyder • Ian Lee • Aaron Shapiro • Jenna Koo • Mari Stanton • Sarah Sears • Rachel Shey • Christine Lyford • Nyah Rizzuti • Elisabeth Triplett
“No,” Mark started, “absolutely not. There is no way I’m going to do this.”
“I think you mean, ‘thank you so much for making this possible, Jane, I will absolutely comply without hesitation.’” his sister retorted.
“You’re telling me you made a sweater with some sort of magical yarn and you want me to first of all, believe that’s actually true, and second, wear it?”
“Of course! Besides, if you don’t believe it’s anything more than an ordinary sweater, why are you so reluctant to put it on?” inquired Jane with a smirk.
Mark sighed; Jane made a good argument. He pondered the pros and cons of wearing the garment. Worst case, he would be put in mortal danger. Best case, he’d have something to do with his weekend. A typical person would decide not to voluntarily risk their life on a strange, sparkling, supposedly magical sweater, but one must understand that Mark was incredibly bored.
“Fine,” Mark huffed reluctantly, “give it here.” (DISHAROON)
Mark slipped on the colorful fabric and his body was suddenly filled with a feeling of intense heat, everything from the tips of his fingers to his toes began to burn. (ECKHARDT)
“Umm, Jane… is this normal?” Mark asked while looking at his hands, which were beginning to turn purple. (SEARS) He frantically stared at his sister, his eyes wide as a cloud of purple smoke quickly surrounded him. (STANTON)
Jane stood erect in bafflement with her mouth open as the purple cloud disappeared. Then, right before her eyes, her brother appeared, squealing in indignation; he had just embodied the form of a bright purple and yellow striped pig. (KOO)
“I can assure you, th-that wasn’t supposed to happen…” Jane stuttered, slowly backing away from the pig. (LEE) But “SQUEEEEEEEAAAALLL!” was all the reply she got. (WONG)
“I thought I ordered the beef yarn,” she thought out loud, but realized that was not a very tactful thing to say when she saw the pig’s eyes widen in a state of existential crisis. (SHAPIRO) Indeed, poor Mark’s brain was bursting with ludicrous thoughts and even more ludicrous questions. (LEE)
Mark began hyperventilating in his despair, and as he remembered that he had not seen his three-year-old brother for the past hour, he noticed a pink, polka-dotted armadillo timidly staring at him from underneath the coffee table. (GUGLIOTTI)
“Cause, ya know, armadillos are super cute,” Jane explained, picking up a sinister-looking ball of yarn and complacently beginning to knit. “And I guess even a pig doesn’t smell as bad as you usually would.” (AREHART)
She sighed and added, “But I really was hoping for that beef yarn; it’s way more impressive than the moose stuff Allison used the other day on her little sister. And you should see Emma’s brother Timothy—he’s a fire-breathing dragon!” (SNYDER)
But before she could go into more detail, Jane heard her mom yell from upstairs, “Come on guys, what’s taking so long? We need to go right now or we’re gonna be late.” (CARLOCK)
With a desperate squeal, Mark raced towards his sister, determined to knock her down and intimidate her into turning him and his brother back. (LYFORD) Unfortunately, he failed to consider his increased mass and shorter legs. Instead of knocking Jane over, he bowled into his collection of glass animals. The delicate tinkling sound of shattering crystal filled the air. (SHEY)
“What in the world is going on up there?” cried their mother. Complete horror and desperation overcame Mark and he collapsed to the floor in agony. (TRIPLETT)
Indignant, their mother thundered down the stairs, flinging open the door. A wave of shock washed across her face as she registered the scene in front of her before letting out an ear-piercing shriek. (STANTON)
Mark watched with mild amusement and despair as he watched his poor mother sigh and collapse to the ground; he squeaked accusingly at Jane. (KOO) Turning back to their mother, Mark, Jane, and their brother all stood in silent shock. No one moved an inch as they contemplated what to do. They didn’t have much time to consider a plan, though, as their mom soon woke up and started screaming once more. (DISHAROON)
“Jane Josephine Alexandria Holland!” his mother yodeled, her voice roaring at least four octaves above her usual register. The few remaining glass figurines burst into pixie dust grenades. “What have I told you about letting wild animals inside the house?! Get those filthy creatures outside at once and never let them back in here again!” (AREHART)
Without waiting for Jane’s reply, Mark spun around and made a wild dash straight for the door, hoping his little brother would get the idea and follow. (SNYDER) His mind raced with frantic thoughts as he ran towards the woods behind their two-story yellow home: What am I going to do? (ECKHARDT)
As he and his brother entered the woods, Mark knew he needed a game plan. (CARLOCK) However, nothing came to mind, as he was currently very traumatized and in the body of a pig. So, he just kept running. (DISHAROON)
Back in the house, Jane was suffering from shock, and in the turmoil she made a very foolish decision: she put the sweater (which she had just finished knitting) on herself, and the next thing she knew she had expanded to extraordinary proportions, having made a hole in the roof and towering over her house. She had turned into a green and red striped Tyrannosaurus Rex. (SHAPIRO)
Jane let out a terrifying roar; a roar so loud her house collapsed completely. This enraged her even more, and she began to thrash her tail around violently, her T-Rex body growing with each swing. (HOLMGREN)
Mark started to slow down, the green landscapes and soothing fog of the forest relaxing his piggy mind while his analytical “human” brain turned his situation over and over, looking for a solution. In the midst of these ruminations, Mark tripped over a softly glowing crystal. (SHEY) He couldn’t tell what type of crystal it was, however normal crystals don’t pulse with light when stepped on. Mark could only hesitatingly assume, based on his outlandish day, that it may have some level of sentience. (KLEIS)
As he was staring down at the resplendent crystal, the foggy forest turned an eerie grey and the earth began to tremble. To add to his teeming bewilderment, he heard a distant squeal and rolled his eyes upward to behold his armadillo brother screeching frantically 75 feet off the ground in the grasp of a horrendous Tyrannosaurus Rex. (GUGLIOTTI)
Mark’s first thought was: Wait a second, I thought dinosaurs were extinct… Then he shrieked in terror and darted into a bush, kicking the crystal with him, and immediately found himself and the crystal falling into a lake. (LYFORD)
A large, glowing, blue-eyed crocodile surfaced, gazed mildly at Mark for a moment, and then sank beneath the water again. (SNYDER) As the crocodile swam into the deeper depths of the lake, Mark quickly looked to find the crystal, but it was gone. (SEARS)
There was a sudden flash of light from the bottom of the lake. Mark watched with trepidation as the waves suddenly changed direction; then a small, glowing, strikingly blue-eyed boy swam up from the depths. The boy tightly clutched the crystal in both hands. Slowly, slowly, the light shining from inside died away. (SHEY)
Mark needed that magical crystal; he couldn’t stay a pig for the rest of his life. He swam over to the blue-eyed boy and grunted “oink oiiii.” But before he could finish his second “oink,” the ground surrounding the lake started to tremble, and the striped T-Rex came into view with his little brother dangling from her mouth. (HOLMGREN) Mark and the blue-eyed boy whirled around, exchanged eye contact with each other, and slowly looked up at the massive T-Rex. (ESTES)
The T-Rex uttered yet another massive roar, causing the very scared armadillo to tumble down into the water. Mark looked between the crystal and his animal brother, trying to decide what was more important: saving his brother or getting the crystal before his sister did. (ECKHARDT) Then a new thought struck him: Why did the light of the crystal fade? Did that mean that the crystal’s magic powers could only be used once? If that was true, there was no point in getting the now-spent crystal from the blue-eyed boy. (LEE) He needed to find more crystals, which meant he had to go back into the depths of the forest if he wanted to save himself and his siblings. (CARLOCK)
In a fit of desperation, he made a mad dash and narrowly escaped being snatched by the T-Rex. As Mark ran deeper into the forest, a glowing object appeared in the distance and hope seemed close at hand. (TRIPLETT) Mark sprinted for the glowing light and entered a huge cave filled with glowing blue crystals. Being so stunned, Mark took a step forward and tripped over something lying on the ground. Mark looked up and saw two yellow eyes glaring back at him, and those eyes came from a purple and green striped dragon. (SEARS)
At first, Mark backed away, squealing in terror, but the dragon’s expression never changed. In a deep, booming voice, the dragon spoke.
“Who might you be to dare disturb my sleep. Have you come to cause me mischief or steal the healing power of my children?” (KLEIS)
“OINK ooooiinnnkk oink,” Mark screeched desperately, and he could see in the dragon’s glittering eyes that it clearly understood the piggish syllables as he meant them: “I came here to get one of those shiny crystals because my rotten sister turned me into a purple pig with a magical sweater and I need them to turn myself and my little brother back into humans and I didn’t realize that they were your children and though I didn’t come with the intention of causing you mischief I ought to tell you I am pretty good at causing it unintentionally and despite all that I would really appreciate it if you were able to help me out of this mess before I run out of time to submit my chemistry homework.” (AREHART)
“Chem-moist-ry homework… I see… Why don’t we play a little game then you may have a little respite from your purple cage,” the dragon sneered (KOO).
“Pop quiz! What is the lewis structure of polyethylene glycol? For reference, its chemical formula is C2nH4n+2On+1. If you can answer that, I’ll give you a crystal.” (SHAPIRO)
“Oh, come on!” Mark complained. “I told you I haven’t submitted my homework yet. That’s because I’m the worst at chemistry. Also, I hate pop quizzes. Can’t we just play rock paper scissors or something?” (LYFORD)
“Answer me!” the dragon snarled. “Or I’ll make sure you ‘argon’ before I can pronounce chlorofluorocarbon. You clearly aren’t part of any solution for this problem of yours…you must be part of the precipitate. Now answer my question or leave.” (STANTON)
“A pun? Are you serious?” Mark asked. “What kind of mighty magical dragon uses a chemistry pun? Are you going to hit me with a ‘Dad’ joke next?” (RIZZUTI)
“Silence!” the dragon boomed. “I’ve had enough of your shenanigans. Solve the problem or I’ll fry you to a crisp and throw you into the lake!”
“Alright, fine, just let me think…” Mark started, but instead of contemplating chemical formulas, he started dreaming up an escape plan. The crystals were just out of reach and the dragon’s back was turned, just for a moment. (DISHAROON) He darted for the crystal, but right before he could grab it with his mouth, he tripped and face-planted onto the crystal with a piercing squeal. (WONG) All seemed lost, until a woman clad in a knit sweater and holding a camera stepped out of the shadows. She knocked out the dragon with the camera.
“Quick, grab a crystal!” she commanded.
“…Who are you?”
“I am Annalee Lael Rheedraw. Now save yourself, Mark!” (SHEY)
Frantically, Mark grabbed a crystal and held on for dear life. At first nothing seemed to happen, but then he began to feel a change. In a few minutes Mark had become a boy again, however, with one slight change: he had a pig’s nose!
Will this never end? he thought. He would make his sister pay for this nightmare if it was the last thing he did. (TRIPLETT)
Mark grabbed two more crystals and sprinted towards the opening of the cave. He hesitantly turned back to see Annalee running up to him. The dragon was beginning to pull himself from unconsciousness.
“We have to go! Now!” she cried, dashing into the forest with Mark not far behind.
After running for what seemed like miles, they slowed, doubled over as they caught their breath. It was then that they took in the huge T-Rex footprints in front of them.
Annalee and Mark slowly moved their gaze upwards to see Jane towering over them. She roared, waving their armadillo brother in the air.
“ROARRRRR” shrieked Jane. But just at that moment, Mark seized the opportunity to throw one of his crystals into her mouth. Jane gagged for a moment before quickly shrinking back to her human self, but just as Mark had a pig nose, she retained her tiny T-Rex arms. Mark placed the final crystal in his brother’s hands and watched as he, too, returned to human form, although he still had armadillo ears.
“Ummm… this is a bit more than I bargained for,” said Annalee, “but no worries. We have to keep running.”
Annalee scooped up the youngest child and beckoned for Jane and Mark to follow. As they dashed back to their home, they slowly lost their animal characteristics and became fully human.
As the sun set on what seemed to be an impossibly long and trying day, the gang returned to the ruins of Holland household. Annalee passed the toddler to Mark, waving as she stepped away.
“Thank you!” he called out, but Annalee stayed silent. She smiled as she took a photo of the siblings before backing into the woods, never to be seen again.
“I… have so many questions,” said Jane cautiously.
“Same. But we should really make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Mark stated. “Also, you owe me about 1000 favors after this.”
“Deal.” said Jane, shuddering. “How are we going to explain this to mom? And on a school night, no less.”
Mark gasped, remembering his chemistry homework. He rushed inside and pulled his computer from the rubble, sitting on the ground and opening a Word document as Jane made a bonfire to burn the sweater and all of her yarn. Mark typed furiously, almost breaking the keys off of his keyboard. He finished the questions to a satisfactory extent, sighing as he uploaded the file.
A yellow box stared back at him.
“Lateness: On Time, Thank You!”
And even though their house was gone, his mother was going to ground him for eternity, and he was pretty sure he could never eat bacon again, all was right with the world. (DISHAROON)