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"Harmless Prank"
by Phil Temples

“Eeeeoooh!” exclaimed little Sally, looking over Billie’s shoulder to see what he was up to.

Billie, a slightly pudgy, 11-year-old with no friends and few interests besides watching TV and playing computer games, had pulled a single wing off a butterfly captured earlier. The wounded butterfly flopped helplessly upside-down on the ground. Billie poked at it with a stick.

“How would you like it if somebody did that to you?”

“Oh, shut up Sally,” Billie replied. “Go play with your doll or somethin’.”

“I’m gonna tell your mom!” she cried.

“Go ahead, Cry Baby. See if I care! She’ll tell you that it’s just a harmless prank.”

The younger girl stomped off the playground, resolute in the belief that all boys were simply awful.

When Billie wasn’t watching TV or playing computer games, he was generally outside perpetrating so-called “harmless pranks” upon small animals and insects. Just last week, he dumped an entire can of green paint on Mrs. Quigley’s tabby cat. The poor thing was so confused that it ran away—then it stopped a few feet later to lick its fur. The tabby ran again for a few feet and continued the cycle a couple of times. Billie thought this was so funny he almost made himself sick laughing about it. The problem—as Billie saw it-—was that he had no friends with which to brag of this masterful prank.

After a few minutes, the butterfly had stopped flopping; Billie grew tired of poking at it. He turned his attention next to one of the many ant hills in the southwest corner of the lot. Billie flicked small pieces of dirt upon the mound to block the tiny hole. As the ants came up to clear the debris from the entrance, Billie proceeded to ambush the first responders with the aid of his trusty magnifying glass. The ants shriveled up, then disappeared in a small puff of smoke accompanied by a sizzling sound like frying bacon.

Billie was delighted by the stench. He likened it to the smell of combat in the trenches. Except that Billie wasn’t slugging it out in the trenches. No, Billie’s status was more like that of a commanding general. Yes—General Patton! He would direct the glorious battle from a distant mountain top.


Billie observed a centipede crawling nearby. It was no doubt coming to the aid of the ant fort presently under fire. Yes! He would turn his powerful weapon of destruction upon the creature. He would destroy it. No—-better yet, he would disable the creature by directing his powerful particle beam weapon at its individual legs. Then, his flanking troops would deal a death blow to the wounded monster!

*   *   *   *   *

At that moment, Mytos, the idiot son of the God Thor, fixed his five eyes upon a small pebble in the distant void. Looking more closely, he spied one of the pebble’s inhabitants attacking a smaller creature with star light.

“Whe-ee!” Mytos drooled with delight. Mytos liked to play with star light, too.

Mytos held up his own toy magnifying lens between a nearby star and the pebble. Soon the pebble flashed and popped, producing a small puff of smoke, accompanied by a sizzling sound like frying bacon.

“Whee-ee!” cried Mytos.