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by Rebecca Anne Renner

“S-P-A-M.” The professor’s pointer slapped against a poster magnetized to his chalkboard, its tip spanking each letter as the auditorium heard them. “A clever acronym for Space Pollution As Meat.”

Not even crickets chirped in response through the classroom morgue.

“Spam,” the professor said, his eyes drooping to match those of his audience. “Ham-in-can? From space? Anyone?” Still no response. “Fine. If this topic doesn’t get your attention as a lecture, I won’t give it!”

Cheeks were pried off rows of desktops, and all attention was called to the scientist caricature before them.

After angrily stuffing a wad of unsorted papers into his briefcase, the professor noticed his previously sleep deprived class staring at him like confused barn owls. “So, now I have your attention?” he said, returning to gruffly stuffing.

“Aren’t you going to teach today?”

“Oh, I’m ‘going to teach today,’ but not in this drowsy dormitory,” he answered and slung the briefcase over his shoulder, “We’re going to the crash site.”

Within the matter of hours, a caravan of cars packed with students filed out into the desert. The lead car veered off the dusty road and screeched to a halt on the edge of a gigantic crater.

The professor jumped out and peered over the side. The swarm of following cars slammed on their breaks when they realized the desert floor dropped out in front of them.

“Something really did crash here!” one of the students exclaimed as they all eagerly rushed forward to greet their professor.

Startled by the herd of students, the professor nearly lost his balance into the huge hole. Luckily, he straightened up and turned around. “Of course something crashed here! Did you think I was just talking so I could hear my own voice?!”

“There’s something moving down there!” Once again, the students completely ignored the existence of their professor. Like a stampede of buffalo, the entire class descended into the crater.

Against his will, the professor was dragged down with the crowd. “We haven’t performed extensive enough studies. Who knows what it will do in the presence of all these people!”

The students gathered around a minute blob of speckled meat at the center of the crater. It writhed and squirmed as all the more people invaded its privacy.

“Don’t get any closer!” The professor freed himself from the swarm to jump between them and the alien meat. Behind him, the speckled meat blob cooed.

“Aw!” All of the girls in the crowd became enthralled with the blob. “It’s so cute!”

They pushed past the professor to poke and fondle to little blob. In a flash, the blob slurped them in, one by one, smacking, chewing as if the students were bubblegum.

The remaining boys tried to scramble up the steep sides of the crater, but the spam blob rolled over them in a vast trail of slime.

The professor laughed and patted the blob of spam. “Serves them right for not listening about pollution.”