Book excerpt

Lunchbox and the Aliens

Froonga

Bryan W. Fields; Illustrated by Kevan Atteberry

Square Fish

One
Lunchbox rolled happily in the grass, squirming from side to side like a sausage heating unevenly. He paused occasionally, allowing the June sun to warm one side or the other, and letting his long ears flop over his face or spread out flat on the ground. Then he resumed, grunting and snorting in pure canine contentment, oblivious to the mailman, oblivious to fleas, oblivious to the alien eyes that observed him from two hundred miles up.
     Aboard the Scwozzwort exploration vessel Urplung Greebly, Frazz attempted to give an order.     “Increase magnification,” he squeaked, sounding nothing like a ship’s commander. He knew the order would be ignored anyway.     “Uhhhhhhhp,” belched Grunfloz. “It’s up all the way, sir.” Grunfloz always managed to make “sir” sound like an insult. After fifteen years alone with Frazz, he meant it with all of his hearts.      “Well, I couldn’t tell, you’ve gotten so much slime all over the screen,” whined Frazz.  He shuddered at the hideous creature displayed on the console.     “I like it,” said Grunfloz. He tapped the view screen with a tentacle, smearing a small winged specimen from Gangus Five that had been attracted by the light.       Frazz gagged as he watched Grunfloz lick his tentacle. Of all the disgusting life forms they had encountered across the galaxy, Grunfloz was still the grossest of them all. He was huge, nearly twice as big as Frazz, and seldom used the body sanitizer.     “I think I’m going to pick this one up,” said Grunfloz.     “Oh, no you’re not!” shouted Frazz.  “We have more than enough specimens loose as it is! The whole ship is filthy with them! We’ve got slime molds from the moons of Karkoran! Spit-bugs from Orknalia! Walking carnivorous plants from the Woofoo sector! They’re breeding in the froonga rations, they’re fighting in the ductwork, and . . . and—” Frazz felt his head tendrils starting to warm up, turning from dull green to a sort of burnt orange that became brighter at the tips.  “—that little oozy thing from Furporis Twelve—”     “—is building a nest in your quarters, yes, I know, sir.” Grunfloz smiled, a sarcastic grin that spread all the way across his belly, exposing grungy yellow teeth. “You know, I think it likes you.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, sir, I’ll just go and prepare the capture bay.”     “No, you will not!” shouted Frazz. Much to his delight, Grunfloz noticed that Frazz’s head tendrils were now bright orange from base to tip. He woggled his eyestalks at Frazz and sneered.     “And who’s going to stop me?”     “Grunfloz! I order you not to pick that thing up!”       Grunfloz paused for a moment, scrunching his mouth into a thinking position. One of his eyestalks bobbed toward a lever on the control panel. A slight smirk started from the corner of his mouth.       Frazz backed away, waving his now orange-tinted tentacles. “No! No! Not the gravity generator! It’ll make me rurfroo—”     Grunfloz gleefully looped a tentacle around the lever and flipped it to the off position. Both of them immediately began floating, along with all of the other junk and stray specimens that Grunfloz had collected.     “Eeeeeeep! Grunfloz! You are hereby confined to your quarters!”  
     “Fine, then, sir, I’ll just go now.” Grunfloz used his huge round feet to push himself off from the control panel toward the exit, being sure to give Frazz a good spin on the way out.     Frazz tumbled end over end, tentacles and head tendrils flailing. “No! Wait! Turn it back on! Grunflozzzz! Come back here, you gargafron!”  Copyright © 2006 Bryan W. FieldsThis text is from an uncorrected proof Bryan W. Fields grew up with basset hounds and saw a UFO when he was ten.  He lives in Denton, Texas with his extremely patient wife and five genius children. The adventures of Lunchbox the dog continue in his next book, Froonga Planet, available in Fall 2008 from Henry Holt.  Kevan Atteberry has been illustrating since he was knee-high to a crayon. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.