by S. A. Holdridge © 2002

It was recess time for Miss Wilson's class. As four small, pallid creatures peered out from the thick underbrush at the edge of the woods, twenty-one shrieking second graders burst through the back door of Middleton Elementary School. Without pause, the children raced across the open field and descended upon the wooden playground equipment that bordered the thicket.

Straining to see what was going on, the creatures crouched low and parted the tall grass with their long, spindly fingers. Under their watchful gaze, five of the children attacked the swing set. Pushing and shoving, each child fought for a spot on one of the four available swings. When the struggle ended, one child lay sobbing, face down in the dirt, while the others swung wildly.

Across the field, a second group of children rushed the tall metal slide that rose eight feet in the air. A bespeckled boy, the smallest of the group, reached the ladder first. He'd just grasped the bottom rung when a heavy-set girl with pigtails began pummeling him. The force of her blows sent his glasses flying from his thin face. When the boy bent over to retrieve them, the girl knocked him down and stepped on him as she hurried up the ladder.

In the meantime, a game of kick ball had begun in the middle of the field. A dozen children punched, slapped, and elbowed each other as they vied for control of the ball. In a matter of moments, several of the children seemed to abandon interest in the ball and began sparring in pairs. Over and over again, the combatants rushed at each other, kicking wildly and screaming "Hi, ya!" Soon, more children joined in until the entire group was engaged in a melee that brought both Miss Wilson and her assistant running to restore order.

Suddenly, the bell rang, and the playground emptied almost as quickly as it had filled.

Only when the last child had disappeared back inside the school did the creatures rise, ever so slowly, and stare with enormous, protruding eyes at the door from which the children had originally emerged. Finally, in silence, they turned and disappeared into the thick vegetation.

Later that afternoon, as the creatures prepared for a hasty take-off, their commander dispatched a message to his superiors. Roughly translated, it read: "Am aborting exploratory mission of planet. Have observed inhabitants and found them to be far too wild and aggressive for future domestication."

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