Sphdz 4 life, p.1
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       SPHDZ 4 Life, p.1

           Jon Scieszka
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SPHDZ 4 Life



  —J. S.

  To Elaine and Gia . . . ULTRA STRENGTH! EXTRA SWEET!

  —S. P.

  Spring bloomed beautiful in Brooklyn.

  Flowers unfolded.

  Bees buzzed.

  A flock of pigeons circled high in the bright blue sky.

  But none of that mattered.


  1. the chief of the AAA had turned out to be a bad Spaceheadz in disguise!

  2. the chief had stolen the Spaceheadz Brainwave!

  3. the chief was going to bllrrp the planet Gonf!

  4. the chief was sure to turn off Earth!

  And now the only group that could stop him was down to its last plan.

  Michael K./his friends Venus and TJ/Spaceheadz Bob, Jennifer, and Major Fluffy/DarkWave X agents Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot/Mom K., Dad K., and Baby K./AAA agents Hot Magenta and Umber sat around the table inside Spaceheadz HQ.

  The flickering light of the Spaceheadz TVs lit their very serious faces.

  “We’ve tried everything,” said DarkWave X agent Delta.

  “We are beat,” said Dad K.

  “So not LEMON FRESH,” said Bob.

  “Eeeek eeee eeee,” said Major Fluffy.

  “Gooo goo gah,” agreed Baby K.

  Michael K. stood up at the head of the table. “We have to take back our Brainwave and save the world. We are not beat yet.”

  Everyone around the table grumbled.

  “We have ALL NATURAL failed our SPHDZ assignment,” said Jennifer.

  “We are FAT FREE SPHDZ disgrace,” said Bob.

  The Spaceheadz HQ TV screens flashed a checkerboard of commercials showing steaming tacos, value-menu cheeseburgers, extra-cheesy cheese puffs, hot chunky salsa, and red-hot potato chips.

  “We’ve tried everything,” said TJ. “What else can we do?”

  “Week eeek eee eeek eee,” Major Fluffy suggested. “Squee eeek eek eeee eek eek eee eee.”

  Great idea,” said Venus.

  “What’s a great idea?” asked Delta.

  “Week eeek eee eeek eee,” Major Fluffy repeated.

  “I don’t speak Hamster,” said Delta.

  “Woof woof bark bark slobber sniff?”

  “Or Dog.”

  “Goo gar goo goo?”

  “Or Baby.”

  Venus typed Major Fluffy’s ideas into the translator on fluffysblog.com. “Major Fluffy says he has made a PowerPoint of all of the plans we’ve tried so far,” Venus said, reading her screen. “And he thinks we should watch it and see if we can think of anything we haven’t tried.”

  “That is a great idea,” said Michael K.

  “Major Fluffy—you handle the laptop,” said Venus. “I’ll do the talking.”

  “Eeeee,” said Major Fluffy. He hopped on Venus’s computer.

  A bright white square flashed on the Spaceheadz HQ wall.

  Fluffy clicked on the first PowerPoint slide.

  Plan A seemed like a good one,” said Venus. “Team DarkWave X blasted AAA HQ and the chief with their IWANT Pulsar.”

  Michael K. nodded. “It should have made the chief want Purple Nertz, a tastier taste snack, and want to give us back the Brainwave.

  “Too bad the chief bounced the wave back at them, and doubled its power.”

  “I really do want some Purple Nertz,” said Delta.

  “Me too,” said Echo.

  “Me too,” said Foxtrot.

  Fluffy clicked a new slide. Venus continued.

  “But the worst part was—the chief used the double-strength WantWaves to make DarkWave X want to give the Pulsar to the chief. So they did. And now the chief has the IWANT Pulsar, too.”

  Agent Delta shook his head.

  “Sorry. We couldn’t help ourselves. We just wanted to so bad.”

  Then Mom K. and Dad K. launched Plan B,” said Venus.

  “ATOMIC SMACKDOWN!” cheered Jennifer.

  “Well . . . sort of,” said Venus. “At least, that was the idea. Mom K. wrote five hundred and thirty-seven top secret reports to the president, the vice president, the one hundred senators in all fifty states, and the four hundred thirty-five state representatives in Congress.

  “Dad K. cranked out ads and billboards warning that the chief was evil.”


  “Yeah,” said Venus. “But too bad the chief had already sent out his own reports that Mom K. was not a real American.

  “And too bad the chief changed all the billboards.”

  And then Agent Hot Magenta had a brilliant Plan C for a digital attack.

  “Which got instantly hacked.”

  Which was followed by Agent Umber’s . . . uh . . . interesting Plan D.”

  “Maybe not your best AAA disguise,” said Agent Hot Magenta.

  Which was followed by plans E to Y:

  “E. My Little Pony army

  F. Giant squirt gun

  G. Ultimate Fighters

  H. Time travel

  I. Trick glasses

  J. Skateboard attack

  K. Spy monkeys

  L. Make-you-puke pizza

  M. Dressed-up kittens

  N. Wrestlers

  O. Mind control

  P. Giant pie in the face

  Q. Terrible song that gets stuck in the chief’s head

  R. Jelly beans that look good but taste like turnips

  S. Vikings

  T. Cherry bananas

  U. Dentists

  V. Robots

  W. Killer bees

  X. Friendly sharks

  Y. Origami paper cuts

  “But none of those plans worked,” said Venus in conclusion.

  And that is why both Hot Magenta and Umber are now hiding from everyone in their excellent disguises . . .”

  Why DarkWave X is hiding from everyone in their extra-excellent disguises . . .”

  And why Mom K., Dad K., and Baby K. are hiding from everyone in their extra-extra-excellent disguises . . .”

  And why we are now all sitting here, stuck with this one giant question:

  “Why hasn’t the chief used the Brainwave yet?”

  “Wow,” said Michael K. “That really is a giant question.”

  Five Months Earlier

  Chief’s Office


  Ha!” yelled the chief in his high, squeaky voice. “Finally!”

  The chief held up a small snow globe filled with tiny flashing blue lightning bolts.

  The chief spun his big AAA office chair in happy circles.

  The chief dialed oo¡–¶¡•–¢∞§–a•¶§–¡a• §∞™¢™– ¶∞∞¢¡ ™∞•a• on his coffeemaker’s control pad.

  “Beep,” beeped the coffeemaker. “Medium roast brewing. This is General Accounting.”

  A cartoon character of a little general popped up on the chief’s AAA screen.

  “Hello, General. Chief here. We are ready to blast the Brainwave!”

  “Rrrrrr,” said the coffeemaker. “You tricked everyone. You are very bad guy.”

  “Yes I am!” said the chief. “Just like you.”

  The chief hopped out of his AAA office chair. He locked the sparking Brainwave globe into a very red, very nasty-looking Red-Hot Ray.

  The chief flipped the power switch on. The Red-Hot Ray hummed. The chief swung the red target sight over the image of Planet Gonf.

  “Mmmmmm,” said the chief. “First Gonf. Then Earth. Then the uuuuuuuuuniverse! Watch this!”

  The chief grabbed the firing handles with both hands.

  He counted down out loud, “Five, four, three, two . . . ONE!” and pulled the Red-Hot Ray triggers.

  The Spaceheadz Brainwa
ve globe sparked and swirled.

  The target sight flashed an even hotter red.

  The Red-Hot Ray BZZZZZZRTTTTTed and . . .


  The chief pulled the triggers again.

  Still nothing.

  Again, again, again, again.

  Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.

  “Beep,” said the coffee machine. “What is problem? Gonf looks same.”

  “Arrrrr!” said the chief. “Something is wrong. I’m not getting full power.” He smacked the Brainwave globe to make sure it was in place.

  It was.

  The chief smacked the side of the Red-Hot Ray.

  A small black-and-white message popped up on-screen.

  ERROR 3.14 – 1


  The chief clicked on the error message. A further explanation popped up:

  Incomplete Brainwave power.

  Missing brain wave #1.

  “No!” said the chief. “This can’t be!”

  “PSSSSSSSSSSSSS,” hissed the coffee machine in a jet of steam. “Not good news, Chief. If you are mess this up again, you are staying on Earth planet forever.”

  “Wait, wait, wait,” said the chief. “I have the Brainwave. I will show you.”

  The chief walked to the computer and logged on to www.spaceheadz.com/sphdz-admin.

  He watched the Spaceheadz counter hit 3,140,001.

  He watched the on-screen fireworks and listened to the cheers.

  He watched his moment of triumph as the Brainwave counter spun backward and broke.

  And then he saw it.

  “That can’t be!” said the chief.

  But it not only could be, it was.

  The Spaceheadz counter, broken in half, still showed “1.”

  The one missing brain wave that the chief did not have.

  “No, no, no, no, no, no!” yelled the chief, pounding his desk and turning beet-red mad.

  The images on his computer screen bent and swirled and changed colors. The hands of the clock on the wall whizzed around like an airplane propeller.

  The chief stared at the spaceheadz.com screen, still fuming.

  “I can’t use the Brainwave until I have the whole three point one four million and one. I have to find that missing one.”

  “You better,” said the coffee machine, and it powered off.

  “Grrrrrrrrr,” the chief growled at his coffee machine. He was not happy.

  “Bing-bong,” chimed the chief’s AAA HQ phone.

  “What?” said the chief.

  “AAA security, Chief. We are being attacked by an army of My Little Ponies.”

  “Oh, great,” said the chief. “Just what I don’t need.”

  “And it looks like there is also a giant squirt gun pointed at us.”

  “Grrrrrrrr,” fumed a very mad chief. “Grrrrrrrrrrr.”

  Five Months Later

  Chief’s Office


  The chief paced back and forth in a darkened room.

  “Beep,” beeped the coffeemaker. “Extra-dark roast. This is General Accounting.”

  A cartoon character of a little general popped up on the chief’s AAA screen.

  “It is been five Earth months since you were going to fix Brainwave and Red-Hot Ray. Why is happening down there?” said cartoon General Accounting. “All reports from you are craziness.”

  “Tell me about it!” said the chief. “This kid and his annoying SPHDZ friends have been driving me crazy with their attacks!”

  “Dressed-up kittens?” asked General Accounting.

  “Awful,” said the chief.

  “A giant pie in the face?”

  “Weeks of cleanup,” answered the chief.

  “PSSSSSSSSSSS,” hissed the coffee machine. “Time is no more, Chief. You must fire Brainwave now . . . or you are there left as Earth person. Have you found missing brain wave number one?”

  The chief grabbed on to the screen like a man grabbing the last life preserver on a sinking boat.

  “I’m on it, General. It’s that kid, Michael K. He was the first one to sign up. He must have a special brain wave. It resists wanting. That’s why it didn’t load.”

  “Rrrr, rrrr, rrrrrrr,” said the coffee machine, grinding. “No more excuses. You have only last chance to get whole Brainwave and bllrrp Gonf!”

  “Oh, I have a plan,” said the chief.

  The chief patted a giant crate next to his desk.

  “First I get some pesky people out of the way. . . .”

  The chief sat down at his desk. He pushed three red buttons.

  On the giant world map three red dots started blinking.

  “And then I get that one special brain wave.”

  “PSSSSSSSSSSS,” said the coffee machine. “And please to remember most important All-Earth Warning Number One Big-Time.”

  “I know. I know,” said the chief.

  “You know,” said the General Accounting coffee machine. “You must never πø˚´ ߆ˆç˚ ˆ˜ †˙´ 嘆´®˜´†≤ µå˚´ µå∂ †˙´ ∑ø®¬∂ ∑ˆ∂´ ∑˙嬴≤ ø® ©´† ´–¬´π˙ 嘆 ߆宆´∂≥ †˙øß´ ˜´†∑ø®˚ß are only force that can ߆øπå three point one four million plus one Brainwave.”

  “Don’t worry,” said the chief. “The Earth kid will never figure that out.”

  The coffee machine gave one last PSSSSSS and turned off.

  The chief ate the last of a red pencil.

  Now he knew this really was his last chance.

  Why?” repeated Michael K. “I have no idea. But he must be missing something important. Otherwise he would have bllrrped Gonf for sure by now.”

  “So what do we do?” asked Mom K.

  Michael K. smacked his hand on the table. “We capture the chief and take our Brainwave back!”

  “Yes!” said Agent Umber, jumping up from his seat.

  Venus checked her laptop. “But there is one small problem. After Plan Y the chief disappeared. We have no idea where he is.”

  “He could be anywhere,” said DarkWave X agent Foxtrot.

  Everyone looked up at the Spaceheadz world map.

  “But where do we even start?” said Agent Foxtrot.

  Three spots started blinking on the world map.

  “Whoa,” said Venus. “Check it out. There is our answer. We just got three Code Red reports. Alaska, Florida, the Amazon.”

  “Yes!” said Michael K. “The chief has got to be at one of those spots.”

  “How do we know?” asked Umber.

  “Venus and I built this thing to gather all incoming Spaceheadz reports,” said Agent Hot Magenta. “Code Yellow is a strong report grouping. Code Orange is a very strong report. And Code Red is almost for sure.”

  “Then let’s roll,” said Agent Delta.

  The Spaceheadz team was instantly reenergized.

  Everyone jumped into action.

  “We’ll take the Alaska lead,” said DarkWave X agent Delta. “We are perfectly disguised for seagoing adventures.”

  “Agent Umber and I will handle the Amazon alert,” said Agent Hot Magenta. “We will use our scientific explorer disguises.”

  “Are there many bugs in the Amazon?” asked Umber.

  “Yes, millions,” said agent Hot Magenta. “Good thinking. We will be entomologists, bug scientists. Or better yet—ant scientists! Myrmecologists!”

  “Oh, no,” said Umber. “I don’t like bugs. And I really don’t like ants.”

  “Our circus disguises will be perfect for Florida,” said Mom K.

  “Right,” said Dad K. “We will blend in beautifully.”

  “Gooo gahr gaaah gaaah,” said Baby K., which would have saved everyone all kinds of trouble if anyone had listened to her.

  Too bad no one understood Baby.

  “Eeek weeee eeee eeee,” said Major Fluffy.

  Except Major Fluffy.

  “Hey, wait,” said Michael K. “What about us?”

  “Yes,” s
aid Venus. “We studied all of those places this year in geography.”

  “North to the Future!” said Bob. “That’s the Alaska state motto.”

  “The Sunshine State!” said Jennifer. “That is Florida’s nickname.”

  “You will be doing the most important job,” said Dad K.

  “Oh, no,” said Michael K. Because Michael K. had heard this sentence before. And it was never followed by anything very important. Or fun.

  Dad K. continued, “You and Venus and TJ and Bob and Jennifer will be finishing the school year. So your job will be to stay here and coordinate operations . . . and graduate from fifth grade.”

  “Oh, man,” said Michael K. “That’s not important. That’s the most boring job ever! The world is about to end, and you want us to go to school?”

  “Oh, but a good education is important,” said Mom K. “Even at the end of the world.”

  Everyone stopped to think about that for a minute.

  “Well, anyway . . . ,” said Hot Magenta. “You will at least be safe at school. We have cleared the whole area of alien activity.”

  “And you will be our HQ,” said Delta.

  “Great,” said Michael K., not thinking Great at all.

  * * *

  The rest of the teams got ready to brave the chill ocean waters of Alaska, and trek through the Amazon rain forest, and clown around in Florida.

  Michael K. and his pals got ready, as usual, to go to school.

  “Yes, school is very important,” said Dad K., adjusting his clown nose as he hauled his overstuffed clown suitcase out the door. “And sometimes very exciting!”

  “Very exciting!” said Bob, really meaning it.

  U-N-C-O-N-S-C-I-O-U-S,” said Mrs. Halley very slowly, with exaggerated emphasis. “Spelling word number seven is ‘U-N-C-O-N-S-C-I-O-U-S.’ Can someone use spelling word number seven in a sentence?”

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