An Unintended Landing – Story 7: Lyla & Bendle

earthIt turns out that the space station is circling Earth.

The humans identified the Himmincats ship as a UFO and force them to land at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Lyla, Bendle, Troy, and Girlen are captured by the military and confined. Their ship is guarded, but Troy sets a protective shield on it that prevents the humans from entering it.

BARNIE, who has been playing possum, tracks where the Himmincats are held and sets out to rescue them.

Rather than being a violent rescue, BARNIE does a number of humorous things to get to them:

  • he makes cat meowing sounds to distract guards,
  • he hides alongside a bunch of outdoor trash canisters while guards are walking by and they comment on how he especially stinks (remember that Himmincats olfactory senses are much different than those of humans),
  • he confronts the guards that are at the cells where Lyla and crew are being held and grabs them with his mechanical claws but invokes a “tickle” charge which causes the guards to drop their guns, laugh hysterically and pee in their pants…completely disarmed and helpless, etc., etc.

They get back to the ship, take off, and escape past the space station.

Who’s In Control? Story 6: Lyla & Bendle

The evil Dr. X, who stowed away, has taken over the ship and is piloting them off-course.

He has sealed himself on the bridge. He tells them through the ship’s speakers that he is going to shut off power to all of the rest of the ship and they will die.

He can’t risk these “children” being in control of the mission.

vr roomBARNIE informs the Himmincats of the “travel” room on the ship. They go there.

It turns out to be a room that allows you to imagine you are anywhere, at any time.

They imagine that they are back on Orth, during the building of the rocket ship and they observe the special codes that Dr. X designed into the ship to allow him to take over the ship.

With that knowledge, and BARNIE’s help, the leave the “travel” room and take back control of the ship.

Dr. X runs from the bridge, towards an emergency shuttle craft, in which he flees.

They watch him and pursue him for a brief time when, all of a sudden, it explodes in space.

They ask BARNIE if there was a malfunction, when they realize that, no, it was struck by a missile.

Just then, the on-board computer tells them that they are approaching a space station.

Food Fight! Story 5: Lyla & Bendle

robotThe rocket speeds on to another world.

They are introduced to their on-board robot helper, called BARNIE (Battle Armored Robot, Neural Information Engine – or whatever).

BARNIE flies the ship. He looks a lot like “Robot” from the Lost in Space series (glass head, giant vacuum cleaner-style body, expandable and retractable arms).

The exceptions are that he has four arms, one coming out of each quarter of his body, he is a shiny black, and he speaks with a flat monotone voice.

He takes the kids, along with Troy and Girlen, to the ship cafeteria. They order their food from the on-board computer. It comes in lots of different colors.

Bendle hates the way it looks. He’s still sad (and now angry) about losing his mother.

He flings the food at BARNIE, which is in big meatball-like lumps and globs that look like paint.

The others join in and soon they are consumed in a giant food fight. (You can describe this pretty hysterically, and the kids can get into it.)

They are suddenly interrupted by a warning signal coming from the bridge of the ship.

Blast Off – Story 4: Lyla & Bendle

Crab_NebulaThere are 2 other young adult Himmincats — a male named Troy Vixen, and a female named Girlen Lakes – that are selected with Lyla and Bendle.

They are all transported to the place where the rocket is to be launched.

Everyone on the planet is beginning to feel the heat from the coming supernova. They all know that there are only days left.

The chief scientist for the rocketship program is named Dr. X.

He trains them, but also scopes out where he can stowaway on the rocket – he believes that he deserves to live as well.

The training is complete, the rocket is ready, they get aboard and blast off.

As they travel, the final explosion of the supernova occurs, and the sun grows to hundreds of times its size.

It consumes the planet Orth, as Lyla and Bendle can see in the viewing window of their rocket ship.

Even as they shed a tear, the image of their father in their heads is joined by a new image of their mother and the parents say to the children, “don’t worry, we will be with you always.”

The Contest – Story 3: Lyla & Bendle

The next morning, they got up early and traveled to the city…thousands of Himmincats of all kinds were traveling as well.

On Orth, there were no such things as roads. Instead, Himmincats traveled in hovercrafts or on moving platforms.

conveyor beltThe moving platforms were like escalators, only flat – more like the “people movers” that you see in airports or shopping malls. The difference was they went much faster and were as wide as a road, so that many Himmincats could fit on at once.

The only way to get on, since it went so fast, was by first sitting in a little chair (with your luggage, if you had it) that was kind of like a ski lift.

The chair was in a little on-ramp area, like those of a feeder road, to the side of the people mover.

Then, every few seconds, after someone sat down in the chair, it would move down the ramp towards the people mover (which the Himmincats called the “Cat-way”), slowly at first, building speed until by the time it reached the Cat-way you were traveling at the same fast speed that everyone else was.

When a beep sounded, you had 10 seconds to just slip out of the chair onto to the mover. When you were out, the chair rotated back overhead for another waiting traveler.

They get to the city. The children are sorted by males and females. Their mother kisses them and says goodbye – knowing that if her children win, they will never see each other again.

She closes her eyes and places her paw on their heads. Their heads get hot and they realize she is imparting an image of their father that they will be with them always (she says).

Their father isn’t there – he’s a mystery that you can introduce at a later time.

They begin the contests. The contests can really vary in many ways, depending on the interests of your children.

When I told the stories to my kids, I liked to mix in a combination of physical activities, because all kids are familiar with that, along with intelligence, along with common sense kinds of things.

That way, there wasn’t an over-emphasis on just one quality, and a reinforcement that a balance is good.

obstacle courseThere can be 3 or 4 contests.

I liked using an obstacle course as the last one, because it gives the best opportunity for you to mix brains, bravery, common sense, and strength.

They jump over things, they solve 12 dimensional puzzles, they climb walls to get away from pits of sticky goo, they help each other to finish a maze (emphasizing the need for teamwork), etc.

The point is, Lyla and Bendle emerge victorious. Hoo-RAY!

Sister and Brother – Story 2: Lyla & Bendle

rocketSo, as the rocket was being built, a contest was announced across all of the planet. TV and radio, papers and magazines, all carried the news of the contest.

Only the four bravest, smartest, and purest Himmincats would be chosen. Everyone was to travel to one of the 12 big cities on Orth to be in the contest, to see if they would be chosen.

Far away from the capital city, in a little village on a lake, the news of the contest soon reached a hunter’s family.

A young girl Himmincat ran in to her mother from school that afternoon and said “Mother…have you heard? There is a contest to decide which of us will go on the rocket ship to another planet.”

“No Lyla, I have not heard. Where did you get this news?” her mother said.

Hover_Bus_by_DarkMeasures“They told us at the school,” interrupted Lyla’s younger brother, standing there panting at her side after the run from the hover-bus.

(A hover-bus was like our school bus, only it floated on a cushion of air and could travel over land and water.) “They said that we must all travel to the city to be in it to see if we are chosen.”

“Hush Bendle…don’t interrupt your sister,” said their mother gently. She looked at Lyla again, “When is this contest, Lyla?”

“It begins tomorrow, mother,” continued Lyla. “They said we don’t have much time. They have to choose quickly so that the chosen will be ready to leave on the rocket before the supernova.”

Her mother looked up, sadly, but with a fire in her eyes and said, “Alright children, sit down and eat. We must sleep tonight so that tomorrow you will be strong for the contest.”

The Planet Orth – Story 1: Lyla & Bendle

blog-himmincatThey lived on a dying planet, named Orth. It was dying because one of its suns (it had three) was beginning to supernova.

The supernova would cause the sun to grow several thousand times its normal size. The intense heat and radiation would burn the planet to a crisp, killing all living things.

There wasn’t much time — less than a month. Orth was surely going to die.

So the great scientists and philosophers and leaders of Orth decided that they must do something. They could not let the planet die, without finding some way to let their race live on.

The Orthians were no ordinary people — they were “Himmincats.” Himmincats were fierce, proud, lion-like creatures that walked on their hind legs. Their speech was like a growl and adults stood 12 feet tall, with children 6 feet tall.

{NOTE: During your bedtime storytelling, imitate some growling noises to illustrate their speech; these creatures are kind of like the ones in the computer game Wing Commander 3, for those who ever saw or had the game.}

They refused to be beaten by the supernova, so they called a great meeting held in a huge hall in the central building of the capital city.

After much talk, finally the oldest of all elders stood slowly and growled “There is only one way! We must find another planet for the Himmincats to live on. We must build a rocket ship to travel there before the supernova destroys Orth.”

But who will go on the rocket ship? asked the other elders. “There must be a contest,” said the oldest again.

“There is not enough time to build enough rocket ships for all of us. So, we must choose the Himmincats that have the best chance of surviving and building a new generation in another galaxy. Our hope and spirits will live with them.”

POSTSCRIPT: It’s interesting to read these notes from a bedtime story series that I started telling my kids 20 years ago, in light of the huge success of The Hunger Games trilogy.  Kudos to Suzanne Collins, the author, for an exciting series that appealed to young kids.

But, the reality is that the meme of youthful, high risk competitions is as old as the battles between Cain & Abel, Jacob & Esau, and David & his brothers…just to name one source – the Old Testament of the Bible!