Several years ago, I wrote a short story from Nate’s childhood, when he was a dinosaur. Nate is the main character from my book, The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship. Read it below:
After landing on the autumn side of an Earth-like planet unknown to them, Nathaniel, Haticat, Fred, and Doctor Bill exit their ship in search of food. Soon, they discover a large building with duck-billed hadrosaurs walking into it. They enter into the great hall through the thirteen-meter-tall doorway. Inside are two long dining tables laden with food. Above burn oil-filled chandeliers, flames roaring. The wooden walls smell of cedar, cinnamon, and bay berry. At one table sits only adults and at the other sits only children.
An adult blocks their path. “Welcome to planet Thanksgiving. I am Wizard Bob. What are you thankful for?”
Nathaniel gives Wizard Bob a blank stare. “What’s thankful?”
“It’s when you like something that you have, so you give thanks for it,” Wizard Bob explains.
“I don’t think I have any thanks; I’m new to the planet. What is it?” Nathaniel replies.
“You give thanks by saying thank you,” Wizard Bob clarifies.
“Oh, that’s easy; I can do that,” Nathaniel says. This is an unusually patient adult to answer two questions in a row. This must be a nice planet, Nathaniel concludes.
“So, what are you thankful for?” Wizard Bob asks again.
Nathaniel thinks. “I haven’t thanked anyone in a long time. I usually get everything myself. Sometimes I buy stuff, but the stores only give me things because I use money to make them do it. My friends helped me fight a monster a while ago, but they had to anyways because it attacked all of us together at the same time,” Nathaniel recounts.
“That all counts. Praise Y, creator of the universe!” Wizard Bob exclaims.
“Y? What does Y have to do with it?” Nathaniel asks.
“Y helped you fight a monster,” Wizard Bob says.
“No, I never saw Y. My friends helped me,” Nathaniel corrects.
“Y gave you friends,” Wizard Bob says.
“No, I picked them up on planet Gruezhe,” Nathaniel corrects.
“Y created the whole universe, including Gruezhe and your friends. Thank Y!” Wizard Bob loudly proclaims.
“That means Y created everything bad in the universe too,” Nathaniel protests.
“It still made everything good that you like, want, and need,” Wizard Bob counters.
“But it also made me with wants and needs. I wouldn’t need anything if I didn’t exist, so fulfilling my needs is only fair. There’s nothing to thank Y for. I don’t understand,” Nathaniel explains.
“Thank Y for giving you life!” Wizard Bob exclaims.
“Why?” Nathaniel asks.
“Do you want to die?” Wizard Bob asks, scowling and stepping closer to the four boys.
Nathaniel steps back. “No,” he answers.
“Then thank Y!” Wizard Bob says.
“I don’t want to die only because I’m already alive, but if I was dead or never existed, I wouldn’t care either way,” Nathaniel says, starting to become frustrated with the pointlessness of the conversation. He considers walking away.
“By being alive, you are able to experience good things,” Wizard Bob says.
“By being alive, I am also able to experience bad things,” Nathaniel says.
“Y could have created the universe much worse than it is, with even more bad things. Thank Y,” Wizard Bob says, starting to seem a little tired.
“No!” Nathaniel yells defiantly.
“If you don’t thank Y, you aren’t allowed to eat,” Wizard Bob says.
Nathaniel thinks it over. The ship is almost out of food and the next-nearest planet with carbon-based life is more than two hundred sixty light-years away. “Thank you, Y.”
“Thank him for what?” Wizard Bob asks.
Nathaniel thinks for a long time. “For oxygen?” he finally says.
“Hmm…okay,” Wizard Bob says, “Come in and eat.”
The boys find four seats near each other at the kids’ table away from any girls. Robots continually replace foods that are eaten. “Hi,” Haticat greets the boys nearby.
“Hi,” a boy replies.
“We’re new on the planet Thanksgiving,” Haticat says.
“What kind of a food is this?” Fred asks, pointing at large, twisted gourds placed in groups along the long table. Some are striped. Some are plaid. Some are over two meters tall.
“We don’t eat those,” the boy answers, “Those are for decoration.”
Nathaniel reaches for a slice of hot apple pie topped with what he later learns is spiced pumpkin ice cream. He picks up a spoon. “Don’t eat that yet,” the boy warns, “Dessert is for after dinner.”
“What do we eat first?” Nathaniel asks.
“First course is mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy, except I don’t eat the peas or the gravy because I don’t like them. Second course is bread, cheese, and pickles. Third course is meat and stuff. Fourth course is sweets,” the boy explains.
“There’s an eating order?” Fred asks.
“It’s the rules on planet Thanksgiving,” the boy affirms.
“Do you have pizza on this planet?” Nathaniel asks.
“No, only certain foods are allowed, not pizza,” the boy says.
Nathaniel enjoys three types of mashed potatoes and three types of gravy. He drinks white grape juice and cranberry juice. Then he tries some strong wheat bread and places a piece of sharp cheddar in it. “Don’t put different foods together!” an adult warns, walking up behind him.
“I’m just making a sandwich, so it’s a new food,” Nathaniel explains.
“Sandwiches are not for Thanksgiving! Sandwiches are illegal. Only gravy can be combined with other foods,” the adult says before walking away, not watching Nathaniel to ensure compliance.
Nathaniel returns to eating, enjoying pickled cucumbers, pickled onions, pickled green beans, pickled baby corn, and three types of olives. Then he cuts slices of meat from a steaming, partial carcass. It is of an animal he does not recognize. Looking at it intently, he is unable to deduce its whole anatomy. It is a strange animal, indeed. The meat tastes somewhat like a cross between pork and sweet crab, but this is an inadequate description.
“Do you like stuff?” another nearby boy asks.
“What stuff?” Nathaniel asks.
“Stuff. It’s the greatest stuff in the universe,” the boy answers, handing Nathaniel a plate of fluffy, brown mush.
Nathaniel tastes it. It is amazing and possibly the best-tasting substance Nathaniel has ever tried, even rivaling candy. The taste is completely indescribable and can only be called “stuff.” He takes more and more. He eats until full. Even then, he cannot stop. Finally, he forces himself away from the table. His belly aches and he starts to feel sleepy. He sees the adults and children lying down on the floor to sleep. “Why are you all sleeping?” Nathaniel yawns.
“That’s what you’re supposed to do after eating,” a boy says.
“That’s boring. I want to play,” Nathaniel says.
“No, it’s the rules,” the boy says.
“I haven’t even had dessert yet,” Nathaniel complains. He looks around. He sees almond patties, peach fritters, five types of cinnamon rolls, pecan pie, and apple pie with pumpkin spice ice cream. There are large, soft cookies packed with chocolate chips, peanuts, raisins, and dates. There are tiny molasses-cakes topped with chocolate drizzle and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting topped with peach slices. The carrot cake seems to be more frosting than cake. Nathaniel almost takes a slice, but he is so tired and so full that he loses his balance and collapses to the floor. “This food must be poisoned,” he slurs before falling into a deep sleep.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.