Authors: Stephanie Spinner
Text copyright © 1988 by Jonathan Etra and Stephanie Spinner. Illustrations copyright © 1988 by Steve Björkman. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Etra, Jonathan. Aliens for breakfast / by Jonathan Etra and Stephanie Spinner.
p. cm. — (A Stepping stone book)
: Finding an intergalactic special agent in his cereal box, Richard joins in a fight to save Earth from the Dranes, one of whom is masquerading as a student in Richard’s class.
[1. Extraterrestrial beings—Fiction. 2. Science fiction.] I. Spinner, Stephanie.
II. Title. PZ7.E854A1 1988 Fic—dc19 88-6653
and colophon are registered trademarks and
A STEPPING STONE BOOK
and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
“Mom, I hate these sneakers.” Richard Bickerstaff was getting dressed for school.
“You picked them out yourself last week, sweetie,” his mother called from the kitchen.
“Last week they were okay. Today I hate them.” Richard frowned at his feet. Why had he ever chosen these dumb black high-tops? He should have gotten red-leather running shoes like Dorfs. They were cool. But then, Dorf was cool. He had just moved here. He’d only been in Richard’s class for two days, but already the other kids were imitating him.
They were copying his big smile, which showed off his perfect white teeth. And they were copying the way he dressed. On the first day he came to school, Dorf wore a red bowling shirt. It had his name, Dorf, spelled out on the pocket. The next day Richard’s best friend, Henry, wore a bowling shirt. It had “Sylvia” stitched on the pocket. Everyone thought it was pretty great anyway.
Richard poked around in his closet, which was full of old Space Lords of Gygrax comics. He didn’t have a bowling shirt and he knew it. But he looked anyway.
“Richard, finish dressing or you won’t have time for breakfast,” called his mother. “Hurry up. I have some new cereal for you to try.”
Richard found a clean shirt and put it on. “I hate cereal,” he said as he came into the kitchen. He scowled at his cereal bowl. It was full of strange little brightly colored shapes. “And this stuff is looking at me!” he added. All the strange little shapes had tiny silver eyes.
“It’s called Alien Crisp,” said his mother. She poured some milk into Richard’s bowl. “I
thought you’d like it, since you’re such a sci-fi fan.”
The little shapes seemed to grow as the milk touched them. Then everything in the bowl heaved and sighed.
Richard put down his spoon. “Mom, where did you find this stuff? It’s alive!”
“Richard, your imagination is getting out of hand,” said his mother. “It’s a free sample. I found it in the mailbox.”
“But it’s moving!”
“The milk is making it move.”
“The milk is standing still. The cereal is moving.”
“Well, wait until it stops moving. Then eat it,” said Mrs. Bickerstaff. “I have to get ready for work.” Mrs. Bickerstaff was a lawyer. She almost never minded arguing. Except when she was in a hurry. Like now.
“I don’t think it’s cereal,” muttered Richard as she hurried out of the kitchen. He picked up the cereal box. “Alien Crisp” it said on the front. “Crunchy, Munchy Aliens in a Box! Packed on the Planet Ganoob and Rushed Straight to You!”
Richard eyed his bowl. Everything in it had stopped moving. Then the milk gave a tiny splash. A round pink thing the color of chewed bubblegum started to climb up the side of the bowl. Amazed, Richard touched it with his spoon.
“Stop that!” The words came directly into Richard’s head. He put his spoon down very quickly. Then he took off his glasses and wiped them on his shirt sleeve. But when he put them back on, the thing was still there.
“What do you think you’re doing?” asked the voice.
“Uh, eating breakfast,” answered Richard. Was a piece of cereal really talking to him?
It was. “I could use some breakfast myself,” it said. It crawled out of the bowl and dropped onto the table. “The trip really took it out of me.”
Richard finally found his voice. “Who are you?” he asked.
“Aric. Commander of the Interspace Brigade. Our goal: to wipe out cosmic troublemakers. Our record: ninety-eight percent success.”
“You’re an alien?” squeaked Richard. All those books he’d read about kids meeting aliens. And now it looked like it was happening to him. Him! Richard Bickerstaff!
“I am a Ganoobian,” said Aric. “
are the alien.”
I’ve got to be dreaming, thought Richard. He sometimes had very exciting dreams about space travel and large but friendly creatures from other planets who made him their leader.
“Well, come on! Do not just sit there!” said Aric. His voice was awfully loud for such a little thing. It boomed inside Richard’s head. “Let us get going—I am busy. I have six other planets to save. Move it or lose it! Hup-hup-hup!”
“Wait a minute,” said Richard. “Where are we going? Who are we fighting? What about school? I’m going to be late!”
“Hey—it is your planet,” said Aric. “And you have been chosen to help me save it. But if you do not mind the Dranes taking over, hunky-dory.” He started to climb back into Richard’s cereal bowl.
“Who are the Dranes?” Richard wondered
if they were tiny and pink, like Aric.
“Space trash,” said Aric. “Mean. Very mean. When the Dranes see a planet they like, they move in. Before the natives know it, their minds are mush. And the Dranes are in control. Forever!”
“And these, uh, Dranes. They’re here?” asked Richard.
“Yes, they are here. Or to be precise, one is here. But one is more than enough. Dranes divide every four days. In a few weeks Earth will be knee-deep in them. Not a pretty sight.”
“What does this Drane look like?” asked Richard.
“Well, Dranes can look like anything they want to. The one here has blond hair, blue eyes, and a smile no one can resist. He is in your class. He just showed up two days ago.”
“Dorf? Dorf is an alien?” Richard was so excited he jumped out of his chair. He couldn’t wait to tell Henry.
“My job is to get rid of the Drane before he divides,” said Aric. Then, for a moment, he looked a little confused. “You have suitable weapons, of course.”
“Weapons? All I’ve got is a water gun!” Somehow Richard knew that wouldn’t be enough to stop a Drane.
Aric sat down on the table. “Maybe it is because I am not used to being soaked in milk,” he said. “But I cannot remember—”
“You can’t remember what?” asked Richard.
“The weapon to use against the Drane.” Aric looked confused again.
“You mean you didn’t bring weapons with you on your spaceship?”
“I have no ship,” said the little alien.
“Then how did you get here?”
“I was freeze-dried and beamed from Ganoob in a cereal box. Fast and cheap,” said Aric.
“Well, have them beam the right weapons down,” said Richard.
“No, no—you do not understand,” said Aric. “The weapon is here, on your planet. That is why I did not bring it. It is something found in many Earthling homes. Only, now—” He scratched his little pink head. “I cannot remember what it is!”
“Richard!” called Mrs. Bickerstaff. “School bus is here.”
Richard scooped up his books and his lunchbox. “Look,” he said: “I’m just a kid. And I have to go to school. You’re the space warrior. You figure out what to do.”
To Richard’s surprise, Aric jumped onto his shoulder. “I am coming with you,” he said. “Perhaps I will regain my memory when I see the Drane. Let us go forth!”
Richard plucked Aric off his shoulder. He tucked him gently into his shirt pocket. “ ’Bye, Mom,” he called. “I’m off to save the world.”
“Have fun, sweetie,” answered Mrs. Bickerstaff.