In the early minutes of 1997, sometime between the first and second glasses of champagne (Eastern Time), the atmosphere bled off completely. This is not a poetic way of saying the canapes ran out and the lights came up. Benevolent alien scientists observed the near-miss asteroid pass between Earth and Moon, practically knocking off a metaphorical sideview mirror, and the way they explained it to Ned, it drew away that thin blue wrapper of air like a twirl of cotton candy.
They intended, they told Ned Nhokes, last Man alive, to swoop in and save us if something were to happen. They did that sort of thing. It gave them a good reason to have a big benevolent alien reception and the scientists subsisted primarily on hors doovers, they told Ned. But they had really never seen that trick with the whole atmosphere just going whoop like that and the atmosphere-asteroid dynamics guy was not the best benevolent alien scientist they had and the inquest would probably turn up a misplaced decimal.
Actually an octimal since they were base-eight benevolent alien scientists with the four-digit hands and actually that’s probably too granular as far as scifi trimmings go but they asked Ned, last Man alive, to say a few words.
They got here in time to save quite a few of us but Ned was the only one to survive when some of the sub-lightspeed return trip deep freezes went kerblew. Octimal misplaced? Ned suspected. Rough week for benailentists.
Ned put together something really good. We were fortunate to have a natural eulogist to represent us. He had stuff in there about our roots, dabbled in some of our low points just to bring out the really great moments. Art and exploration and love. He was gonna name drop Armstrong, MLK, Alexander. He was going to feel out the crowd on Jesus. Jesus was like eighty percent a go. It was going to be the send off we deserved, poor tragic asphyxiated us. He cribbed a lot from Shakespeare.
Ned was pretty confident. That sort of eyebrows-up balls-of-the-feet Prit-Tee confidenT. Ned Nhokes, last Man alive, was a molten core and crust of nerves in a delicate blue wrapper of confidence as he approached the podium.
The MC shook his hand in her four-finger grip and leaned in.
"Keep it short," she muttered, and then she was walking off the dais.
Ned stood looking out at the assembled higher life, prepared remarks a weight in his hand. The psychically-sensitive aliens in the audience observed the wisps of Ned’s confidence trailing off in the MC’s wake.
Claire lived in a big old house with her grandma. She had a dog, Bob. Claire and Bob loved to play hide n seek with Alice, the ghost.
Alice was the best hider because she could float through walls. Bob was the best seeker because he could smell anything just like he was seeing it, even Alice.
After playing with Alice and Bob, Claire would have been the best human hide n seeker in the world. They were all best friends.
One day there was a big storm. Alice, Bob, and Claire were splashing in puddles in the back yard. Then it started to hail, so Claire and Bob went under the porch. Alice the ghost stayed out because the hail went right through her.
Then the storm knocked a tree over on the power lines and the lights went out in the house. Claire was scared because she couldn’t see. Bob could still smell and Alice could see in the dark because ghosts can do that. They told Claire it was okay.
Then Claire’s grandma came in with a candle. They made a fire in the fireplace, which they hardly ever did. They forgot to open the flue at first, and it got kind of smoky. But they figured out to open the flue and got the smoke aired out. Then they made s’mores in the fireplace.
The story I tell my kid after we finish The Three Little Pigs
The next day, two of the pigs leave the brick house. One builds a castle out of boulders. The other builds an island out of mountains, and lives in a cave at the peak of the tallest mountain.
The next day a giant bangs on the door of the brick house. ”Little pig, little pig, let me in,” the giant says.
"Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin," the pig says.
"Then I’ll punch and I’ll crunch and I’ll knock your house down." And the giant punches and crunches and knocks the house down.
The giant chases the pig to the castle. He bangs on the drawbridge and shouts, “Little pigs, little pigs, let me in.”
"No," the two little pigs say. "Not by the hair on our chinny chin chins."
"Then I’ll punch and I’ll crunch and I’ll knock your castle down." And he punches and crunches and knocks down a lot of the towers and bangs up the walls, but he can’t knock the castle down. So the giant lays siege to the castle and has a campfire and makes s’mores.
The pigs get bored and hungry and sneak out of the castle by a secret passage. The giant sees them and chases them to the island made of mountains. He calls up to the cave from the foot of the tallest mountain, “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in.”
The third pig shouts back, “Wait! Why?”
The giant says, “I’m looking for my kids. They are giants and they look like trees. They lived on a mountain but yesterday the mountain disappeared.”
"Oh," the two pigs from the brick house and the castle say, "We saw them on the way over."
"What a relief," says the giant. "I’m sorry for scaring you, I was just so worried."
"That’s okay," the pigs say. "We’re just glad you found your kids."
The giant says, “I should have been nicer though. I know you had a rough time with a wolf trying to eat you a couple days ago. I guess I just didn’t think.”
After that, the giants and the pigs had s’mores. They became best friends and played Frisbee on the weekends. The giants rebuilt the castle atop the mountain, so the pigs wouldn’t have to live in a cave. They gave them a housewarming gift of Ikea furniture and helped them build it. They had a party with balloons when they were done.