“And put it in the oven for me and me,” Eugene said, sliding the chocolate-coconut confection he had just finished mixing into the oven. It was six in the morning on what was shaping up to be a potentially perfect Saturday. Saul Spratt, Eugene’s grandfather, was just getting up himself and headed into the kitchen to brew the first of many pots of coffee. Eugene’s parents liked to sleep in on the weekends, but Eugene and Saul liked to rise as early as possible to get a jump start on the day. They were simpatico in many ways like that. Also, they were the only ones who knew Eugene’s secret: he had consumed an entire plate of radioactive squash and thus gained the proportional strength, speed and agility of said gourd. He fought crime, injustice and bullies under the name The Squash! “I hope I didn’t wake you making this birthday cake,” Eugene said.
Saul shook his head. “Not at all, Eugene, not at all. Who’s birthday cake?”
“No one in particular,” Eugene replied. “I was just making it for breakfast, you know; get a head start on my sugar consumption for the day. You’re welcome to a small piece, if you like.”
Saul was about to reprimand his grandson for eating poorly and not sharing more of his delicious cake, when the house was shaken by an extraordinary BA-DOOM! This was followed by a series of large KA-KLANKLEs and a smattering of PUH-WOWses. “What the Sam Hill was that?” Grandpa Saul said.
The house shook with a SPLUH-FWOOSH and GER-SCHMICKLE. Saul ran to the front window to see what the Sam Hill could be causing all this shaking and sound effecting. What he saw turned him white as a sheet. Eugene didn’t like seeing his grandpa scared, as it rarely happened. “What is it?” he asked in a trembling voice.
“We’ve seen these before. Remember that midnight movie we watched the other night, at midnight? The Day of the Triffids?” Eugene nervously peeked through the front window drapes. Grandpa Saul was right. A Triffid was a giant plant creature whose arms and legs were ferocious gnarled roots, and whose mouth was a knot with sharp teeth and a long vine which shot out like a tongue. It supposedly carried poisonous venom.
The Triffid was smashing cars with its feet and whipping poor innocent bunnies with its tongue. At least they wouldn’t be eating the peppers, Eugene thought. “We should seek shelter,” Grandpa Saul said from the kitchen, where he’d retreated. “Who knows what that- that thing is capable of.”
“You’re right. You should lock yourself in the basement with Mom and Dad. But I need to face that monster. For I am The Squash! And no one scares me, except for this creature quite a bit. Besides, he ruined my coconut cake. And no one ruins my coconut cake without facing the consequences!” Before Saul could protest, Eugene raced out the door and looped a vine around the nearest non-monster tree. “Eat Squash, creature! Take that! And that! And more of that! And then a scoche of this!” The Squash pummeled the Triffid with a potpourri of pummels.
The creature didn’t notice The Squash’s fists at all. He continued poking and prodding the neighbor’s vehicles and homes. Eugene decided he needed to take a new tactic. Looping another vine around the eaves of Mrs. Dumont’s house, he swung upward, conforming his legs to the bulbous squash shape, and smashed the creature between what appeared to be the eyes. This caught the creature’s attention.
“I say!” he shouted in a surprisingly British accent. “What the deuce do you think you’re doing, chap?” Eugene was taken aback. He hadn’t anticipated the Triffid being able to speak, let alone sound posh.
“Uh…. I’m defeating you, foul creature?” he said.
“That’s not very sporting, is it? Do you see me trying to defeat you? I should say not!” The creature’s hands were on his hips, and his wood-grain eyes looked more disappointed than angry.
“You defeated my coconut cake. And you’re defeating my neighborhood, too. What’s that all about?”
“Oh, dear. Dreadfully sorry, my lad, I had no idea. You see, I was having a spot of a rampage. Being a Triffid, it only comes natural, you see. However, it never occurred to me that there were consequences. Please do accept my apologies, Mister…”
“I am The Squash, righter of wrongs, doer of good, and hero of super!” Eugene crowed. The Triffid, delighted, clapped his tree root hands.
“Oh, jolly good, I’ve never met a real live super hero before! Do show me your powers, please.” And Eugene gave him a presentation of his superheroic gifts. “Good show, Squash, good show!”
“Thanks, Mr. Triffid.”
“The name is Cyril, actually. Cyril Triffid. I come from a planet very far away. And it’s taken me so long to get here, and I intended on visiting the Canary Islands, instead of this godforsaken… Urgh!” Cyril was waving his Triffid arms wildly in frustration.
“Careful, Cyril, you just about knocked the power lines down there,” Eugene said. It was clear he needed to keep Cyril calm or his rampage would begin anew. “How would like some tea?” he asked.
“Why, yes, tea would be splendid,” the Triffid said. “Have you any Lapsang souchong?”
“I’m afraid we only have Tummy Mint,” The Squash replied. Tummy Mint always came in handy after eating an entire coconut chocolate birthday cake.
“Tummy Mint? Tummy Mint?” Cyril the Triffid obviously did not approve of this, and his tongue lashed out, nearly smacking Eugene on the forehead with a hearty SMOO-BWACKUM! Eugene rolled away just in time, but the DuMont’s sedan across the street was crushed under the Triffid’s arm.
Cyril stopped suddenly, growing withdrawn. “Oh, dear,” he mumbled. “There I go again. I do apologize. Perhaps it’s best if I just made my way back home.” Eugene nodded. The Triffid shuffled down the street, where a giant meteor had crashed. He hopped into one of its craters. There was the sound of an engine sputtering to life, and gears grinding into place, and the meteor backed out of the crater, into a tree (“Sorry!”) and blasted into space.
Eugene surveyed the damage to his block. To say it was extensive would be an understatement. But the nimble mind of The Squash was already concocting a solution to this mess, something that would reassure the whole neighborhood, and make everything all better. There was just one problem.
He was going to need a lot more Tummy Mint Tea.

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