Mom was a scientist.
One day, she became sick with the flu.
While she was sick with the flu, a fellow scientist, Larry, made a toxic fume. The toxic fume drove Larry and the other scientists in the lab crazy.
So much for trying to cure cancer … now Larry and the other mad scientists wanted to develop new ways of hurting people!
“We’re going to get rich!” Larry said during a conference call with Mom. “Get well and get back to the lab ASAP, so you can help us screw up the world!”
The plan was to sell a batch of ice cream that tasted like strawberry but was filled with the toxic fume so it would make everyone who eats it crazy, too.
It was all wrong.
“You’ve got to stop him!” Mom said to me.
She was in bed with a high fever.
“How?” I said.
She sneezed, coughed up mucous, and blew her runny nose into a tissue.
“Here, take this,” she said, waving the dirty tissue. “Spread my snot around the lab. Then, steal a sample of the toxic fume. Bring it to me … I’ll take it from there.”
“Okay,” I said, wondering what Mom was thinking. I still struggled to cook macaroni and cheese. Saving the world seemed out of my league.
I put on one of Mom’s dresses and a pair of sunglasses. I fixed up my hair. tossed on her lab coat and grabbed her badge off the night stand.
I looked myself over in her mirror.
“You’re my spitting image,” Mom said with a snotty laugh. “Good luck, dear.”
I ditched my bike outside the lab and flashed Mom’s badge at a guy sitting behind the front desk.
“Welcome back, Dolores,” he said with a weird grin. “How are you feeling?”
I read the name on his badge: Larry!
“Better,” I said, trying to act like Mom. “I just need … coffee … to perk me up.”
“We have a fresh pot brewing in the break room,” he said, pointing that direction. “Grab a cup, then meet me in the lab. I want to tell you about our new line of ice cream. We’re going to call it Psychopath Strawberry!”
“Cool name,” I said. “I’m sure a lot of people will love it.”
“That’s the idea!” Larry said with his weird grin.
In the break room, I took out Mom’s dirty tissue from my pocket. I dripped some of the snot into the coffee pot. I also rubbed the dirty tissue along the rims of some clean cups, as Mom suggested.
I filled one of the cups with coffee and started roaming around the lab with a weird grin on my face, like Larry and the other mad scientists. Everyone seemed happy to see me.
“Our star has returned!” someone yelled. “Now we’ll really shake up the dessert market!”
Finally, I found a sample of the toxic fume. I stuffed it into my lab coat.
It was time to escape from this creepy place.
I turned a corner in the hallway. Larry stood before me.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” he said with his weird grin.
I had to think fast.
“Yes!” I said, handing him the cup of coffee. “This is for you. I have to go home. Now my daughter has the flu! Good luck selling your insane ice cream. You should add cashews, to make it nuttier.”
“Great thinking!” Larry said with a wild laugh. “I love the way your mind works, Dolores! Maybe you should take a batch of Psychopath Strawberry home to your daughter. It might make her feel better …”
“Another time, maybe,” I said. “Gotta run!”
At home, Mom felt better.
“I’m so glad you made it home quickly,” she said, hugging me. “How’d it go?”
I gave her the sample.
“Perfect,” she said, stuffing it into her purse. “Tomorrow, at work, I know just what to do.”
The next day, Mom called me from the lab.
I was in bed sick with the flu.
So were the other scientists who worked at the lab. Even Larry was stuck at home with a fever.
“It’s been so peaceful and quiet around here,” Mom said, “plenty of time to figure out a cure for the toxic fume. I poured the cure into the air vents. My fellow scientists will return to the lab and be back to their old selves in no time. Psychopath Strawberry will be like a bad dream that never happened.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” I said in bed. “Are you and the other scientists going to keep trying to cure cancer?”
“Of course, but first I’m coming home, to cure you,” Mom said. “Would you like me to bring some ice cream?”
“Sure,” I said. “Just nothing with strawberries, or nuts.”