I was working late at the Sci-Fi Aqueduct Center on September 11, 9099, when I heard a sneeze. It didn’t sound like a human sneeze, but the sound was more like this: ker-HONK! I crept closer to investigate where the sneeze had come from. Three more loud sneezes. By now, I was beginning to get a good sense of where the creature was. Second floor, and the room right above me. I scampered up the stairs, as fast as my short little legs would carry me. Finally. The second floor. I tiptoed into the room. The moonlight from the window cast a ghostly shadow on the floor. Paws damp with sweat, I advanced on the shadow that had appeared. Oh. Oops. It was mine. But then, in the corner, another shadow, about the size of a desktop computer, strangely still, moved. I was very curious. I inched forward by one paw. The shadow had a snubby nose and goofy ears. This was getting interesting. I squinted. Was that a cow? As I headed forward, I tripped. Ow. That set off the intruder alarm. Racing to the nearest wheely chair, I jumped onto it and kicked a nearby table and launched toward the button that would turn off the alarm. I reached out, and pushed the button. Phew. Alarm off. Good. I got off the chair and looked at the corner. And what would you know- there was nothing there! Suddenly, a sneezing sound erupted from the empty corner. At the same time, I saw a cloud of sparkly purple dust floating in the air. I took a step backward. “Hello,” I said super duper softly. I was very nervous.


After a short, quiet moment, a cow emerged out of the dark. Amazing! The cow moo-d. It sounded squeaky. “Moooofooooo kooolooo Fortoo.” I was shocked. I stood there, not even blinking. It was a cow, and whatever it said, it sounded nothing like the cow language I learned in high school. I suddenly remembered I had made a translator out of spare pieces in the trash barrel. I gave him the tiny microphone that dangled on his neck. I had never tested the device on anything, especially not an animal. I could only hope it would work. 

The cow started telling me how he had got here, in human language. (I also learned to speak the tongue of humans in high school). The translator was working! He started, “My name is Forte. I was a calf who lived on the planet Chocolate. Everything there is made from chocolate. Everyday was a merry day, until one day. It was a week ago, when Troops from the Latte planet intruded our home. They wanted our chocolate, because our chocolate was the best. We didn’t let them take it, and they threatened to bomb our planet if we didn’t surrender. All the cows on Chocolate decided to fight, but the intruding White-Foams were too strong. I was hoping to find helpers, so I built a rocket out of fireproof chocolate, and launched it. The rocket brought me to this planet, and dropped into a leaf pile. Luckily, no one saw me, so I snuck into the building at night to see if I could find help here, and I’ve been hiding here ever since. By the way, who and what are you?” “My name is Pickle,”





I told Forte. I had a LOT of questions, and I really wanted to see that awesome trick where Forte would sneeze purple dust, but the small cow looked very tired, so I said, “You should get a good night’s rest and we’ll talk about the Latte Troops later.” I led him through the hall and down a flight of stairs that were marked: 


“Shouldn’t we go another way?” Forte asked. 

“No, it’s fine,” I told him. “Welcome to my home!” 

If you were wondering, my house was, well, you wouldn’t even call it a house. It was a secret room that I had built when I joined the Sci-Fi Aqueduct Center. It was basically just a small one-room… thing, which had a couch made out of a huge piece of that squishy foam that’s used to make sponges, a stove, a TV, a carpet, a refrigerator, and a bed made of another piece of squishy foam and the blankets were small pieces of cloth I collected from working around the building. I’m an engineer working at Sci-Fi Aqueduct Center, so building this small room was easy. When I looked back over at Forte, I saw that he was sleeping very soundly, all curled up on the couch. So I fried a small piece of tuna that I had found in one of those tin cans full of tuna that I had found in the alley earlier that day, ate it, and went to bed as well.

The next day at work, I went to the head director, Layla, and showed her the Space Calf. I told her everything about Forte. His name, how he got here, why he left his planet… I definitely included his magic sneezes. Layla made a plan. She called an assembly right away. We both introduced Forte. 

“Welcome, Sci-Fi Aqueduct Center crew! Under my permission, I am allowing a new member into our society! Please welcome the one and only… Forte!!” 

Forte turned pink. Wow! One tiny figure standing in front of a whole society of- Layla knocked me out of my dreams saying, “Okay? Pickle! Pickle!!” “Huh? What? Yikes!” I said, jumping. “Umm, sorry, could you repeat that?” “I said, Forte is going to be your partner until he has to leave. Is that alright?” “Oh, y-yeah! Uhh- I mean, of course!” Everybody stood up from their seats clapping and cheering. Everybody except for the most mischievous agent, Robert McNelson. Robert just sat there, a smile creeping up onto his face. Then, noticing me watching him, he smiled and stood up, starting to cheer. I wondered what was going on… 

That night, Forte and I were walking toward the door tandem when I heard a CLANG. I jumped 6 feet high up into the air. Moonlight streamed in from the window. There, in the corner, a huge shadowy figure appeared. I couldn’t really tell who it was, but I noticed that there was another figure in it’s hand. The figure in the hand was Forte! Also, a golden shiny thing dangled off the guy’s wrist. I knew only one person in the whole society wore that bracelet. Robert McNelson. 

I charged toward him, yelling, “ You cannot steal Forte!!” Then bonked into him. No offense, but he was a VERY big giant fat balloon. He grabbed my tail and I made an attempt to bite him- and succeeded. He immediately dropped me. I jumped up and tried to pull Forte out of his grasp. The man’s grip on the little calf tightened. I aimed to bite Robert’s ear. With a great deal of effort, I launched myself off the ground and onto his shoulder. Robert desperately tried to shake me off, and I fell. Sadly, I didn’t make my attack. As I passed Forte, he sneezed loudly and dark red dust clouded Robert’s nose. I wasn’t completely sure what had happened, but Robert suddenly released Forte and pushed pass us to get to the door. As he left, a loud trail of sneezes blasted off behind him. 

I raced outside to the nearest telephone booth with Forte at my heels. I called the police and, well, Robert hadn’t gotten very far running and sneezing at the same time, so the police easily caught up to him and arrested him. I had a question about just one thing. “Forte, why did Robert suddenly just decide to run away?” “Well, when you fell past me from his shoulder, your fluffy tail brushed my nose, causing me to sneeze. I was really mad at Robert, so I sneezed a dark red anger dust. Anyway, a dark red colored sneeze is a weapon of mine to make other things sneeze like crazy! On my planet, most creatures have this weapon.” Forte replied. “Oh, and by the way, I never got to know what you are, and you don’t look like any of your co-workers, so…” “I’m a raccoon engineer, and thanks for showing me your awesome abilities.” I told him. Forte turned pink again.