My Friend is an Alien, стр. 67

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The bullies hesitated in surprise. "What the —?!" muttered one of them.

The green creature lifted the weapon and pointed it at the trio. In a strange, echoing voice he said, "Huuuumannns!"

The blue creature did likewise, and snarled, "Prepare for disintegration!" In that instant, both machines started to glow strangely and give off a loud, whirring noise.

The three bullies fell all over each other in a heap, then struggled to their feet again and darted towards the exit as fast as they could. Their leader was saying, "I'm tellin' ya, one of them was that one at the mall! It's an invasion! We gotta get outta town!" Just three cigarettes laying dropped on the floor as evidence of their presence.

"Amazing," said Toben, as the two machines shut down. "The most dangerous-looking humans seem to get upset over the least little thing."

"You know," said Jahv, "between that and what Keyro and I did to Keith's mother and stepfather one time, we're really going to have to work on our public image one of these days."

"What public image?" asked Toben, trying not to giggle.

"Well, there is that." said Jahv. Then he spoke into the commlink on his wrist. "Okay, Keyro. The place is clear. Send Martin and Keith through."

Seconds later, Martin and Keith materialized in another cascade of blue light, along with Martin's bicycle and Keith's skateboard.

"They're gone?" asked Martin hopefully.

"I don't really expect them to stop until they're possibly on another continent." replied Jahv.

"Nice work, guys," said Keith. "But what the heck are those weapons you brought with you? I didn't think you guys were armed like that!"

"What weapons?" asked Toben, turning his device on and pointing it in the direction of the smoldering cigarettes. "Nasty things, whatever these are." The device sucked them up instantly. "These are vacuum cleaners."

Keith allowed himself his first real laugh of the day.

"I'm really surprised that the old guy who runs the place in the back didn't come out." said Martin.

Keith walked over to the counter and listened near the door that led to the rear apartment. "He's turned up the volume on his TV. I think unless he heard an actual explosion, or smelled smoke or something, he's not going to care much."

"We, however, should be going," said Toben. "If one of those bullies decides to bring law enforcement back here, however unlikely that may be, we probably shouldn't be here for that."

"Thanks for your help today, guys." said Keith. "Yeah, thanks!" added Martin.

Jahv and Toben disappeared in the final cascade of light. Martin and Keith located the laundry machine they had used. It had just finished up, and Keith heard the lock click off. They got their clothes out, quickly finding the ones that they had been dressed in when the day had started and putting them on, and then loading the rest into the laundry basket, Keith making sure as before that his grandmother's stuff was on the bottom. Then they finally left.

They rode Martin's bike, with the laundry basket behind, very carefully back to Keith's grandmother's, making sure to avoid any possible potholes in the road or any other sources of dirt. This time, it worked. There were no incidents on the way home. Keith thanked Martin for his help, and Martin, as usual, gave Keith a big hug.

Keith entered his grandmother's home. "I'm back!" he yelled. Eleanor was a little hard of hearing. She came out of the living room into the entryway. "Oh, Keith. Good. How did it go at the laundromat?"

"Everything's done," said Keith, pointing to the laundry basket sitting on the skateboard.

"Good boy." said Eleanor. "I know that was probably not something you really wanted to do, and I imagine it was pretty boring, but I really do appreciate it. I called the repairman and he'll be out tomorrow to fix the washing machine, so you won't have to do that again."

"Okay," said Keith. "But it wasn't too bad. I ran into Martin, so we spent some time together."

"Well, good." said Keith's grandmother. "He's such a sweet boy. I'm glad you have a friend like him. And with Martin, you're not as likely to get into trouble."

Keith barely kept a straight face. "Right, Gramma."

Martin pedaled home. Thank goodness, his Aunt Matilda's car wasn't in the driveway. She was apparently gone. Martin parked his bike and went inside. The place still smelled like Matilda. Martin's dog Fix came running to the door soon as he entered. The dog was whining a bit. Matilda's perfume had probably been very unpleasant for the poor pooch. Either that, or he smelled aliens on Martin.

"Martin, honey, is that you?" called Martin's mother.

"Yes, mom." said Martin.

The woman came to the entryway. "Martin, I know you weren't comfortable around your Aunt Matilda, but I'm glad you stayed around for a few minutes. She means well, you know, and she does love you."

Martin felt a little guilty. "I know, mom, it's just… she's… I dunno."

Martin's mom smiled, and knelt down and hugged her son. "I know. That's why I let you get out of here for a while. I hope it wasn't too rough a day? I know asking you to stay clean in your good clothes on your own like that wasn't easy for you, but you look fine."

"Um, yeah, well, I ran into Keith not long after I left, and he had to take his gramma's clothes to the laundromat, because their machine was broken, so I went along with him to keep him company."

"Well, that probably wasn't very interesting, but that was being a very good friend to Keith, and I know he needs friends." said Martin's mom. "And taking clothes to the laundromat… you couldn't've gotten into any real trouble with that, I'm sure."

"Right, Mom," said Martin, hoping she didn't notice that he'd rolled his eyes at the comment.

"You weren't too bored with it all, were you?" asked Martin's mom, who was heading back into the kitchen to continue dinner preparations.

Martin really had to stifle a giggle. "No, mom. I wasn't bored at all…"

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