Why do we live here, child? Well, on that fateful night there was a box that appeared on my doorstep. I suppose that's where all the lunacy began...

I opened it up with my penknife to see what was inside, and inside was a tiny, mechanical woman, dressed as a ballerina. How odd, I thought. I was supposed to receive a dress for a co-worker's birthday present from an unknown dealer on . At the time, I thought it was a music box, because of the key protruding from her back. I wound it up, and listened. Its body creaked and her head spun in circles, but she didn't move. I sighed. Drat, UPS had sent me a broken piece of merchandise, which I hadn't even ordered. I was about to box it back up, when I heard it speak in hollow, mechanical tones.

"Success..." It had a mechanical voice, with tiny metallic inflections.

"Ah, so she does work." I chuckled to myself. I set the figure back down again and listened.

The doll continued. "Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed. Sort of like peanut butter and chocolate exploding inside your mouth."

What in the world? I tried to grab the metal ballerina, but she expertly dodged out of the way, and continued rambling the most random things.

"Do you like waffles? Apes are chartreuse. Why do you have an apple in your armpit? Of course, it is a platypus; they don't do much."

Thus, it continued all night into the next day. It was terrible! It would not stop singing the most horrendous, unsystematic things in the most indiscriminate way. I couldn't sleep! It kept ranting, and humming, and belching!

I was about to give up, and sink to my knees and let myself drown in the hopelessness of it all. By this point, the robot had somehow acquired a dandruff-ridden camel, and was galloping around my home with it. It was the meanest tempered camel I had ever seen - and my former occupation was a zookeeper! It spat with excessive vigor whenever the robot steered it in my direction. Its hooves trampled anything I was trying to read and whenever I tried to open my door to run away, the camel would try to stampede me underfoot. The mechanical ballerina was bad enough, but combined with a camel? I just couldn't take it!

I had barricaded myself in the lavatory, my ears stuffed with cotton to bar the noise of the din outside. I sat on the loo, contemplating the best way to better the situation - perhaps, placate the robot with oil and then snap it back up in the box. As I was contemplating, I saw a colony of ants, in a straight line marching purposefully underneath the door. I unlocked the door of the loo, and beheld a shock to my wearied eyes. I honestly thought that the box had been drugged, with a hallucinogen in it somehow, and the robot, the camel, all of this, as just a 'bad trip'. However, I had lived through the Sixties, and I never heard people screaming about ants. Ever. They weren't normal ants. There were so many of them I couldn't see the end of them. They swarmed at the metal ballerina, but swerved around me and left a 3-foot circle, devoid of insects. The ants swarmed up the camel's legs and it began bleating the way that camels sound when they're certain they're going to die. But the camel was left alone, for the moment. The ants' main target was the robotic dancer, who was doing the robot until she saw the ants.

"AAIIIIIIEEEEEEEEE! No! I am not a pickle! Take your pincers off of me, you demented purple squirrel! NNNNOOOOOOOOOooooooooo...!" Then, her screams died. The camel reared, broke down my door, and charged to places unknown. I didn't want a camel like that on the loose! So, I packed my car with a worn fishing net and a red-and-white ball and raced after it to capture it.

Then, the camel, who grew tired of the mutant ants, stopped to rest in a clearing in a corn-maze. I knew that something was most certainly wrong, and waited in my car for its next move. I saw it tip a bag of almonds with its slimy mouth into a pink Tupperware mixing bowl, and then carefully place three dryer sheets into an unknown container. I couldn't see what else he put in, but soon I saw a glint of glass, and a colorful explosion. Then, a voice reached my ears.

"Eureka, it is finished! I have created the elixir of life!" The camel cried with triumph, doing the moonwalk in its joy. How a camel does the moonwalk, I don't even want to say. "No longer will I be slave to robotic life forms, or be in danger of mutant ants! I am immortal!"

I saw it tip the beaker up, and heard a slurping sound all the way across that clearing in that corn maze. Through a car. Talk about bad manners!

I was shocked. I leaped from my car and raced across the clearing, tackling the beast. It lowed like a tipped bull, and was soon on its back thrashing its legs at the air.

"Oh, dear! My apologies, sir." I tried to push the camel back onto its side, and from there it found its way up. "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"

"No sir, I am alright. Actually, I'm better than alright. I am immortal, you see!"

"Yes, I heard your joyous shouts and came running. Did you just create the elixir of life? From almonds?"

"Yes, and the fluff from one Snuffaluff Tree, a dreary mizzle-bump stump, a Toopidak triple-backed stack, and some store brand dryer sheets." It listed off the ingredients. "Very simple alchemy, really." This creature was more random than the robot ballerina!

"Would you like a sample? I believe I have some left over." Asked the camel.

"Certainly, a smashing idea!" I drew a collapsible plastic shot glass from my coat pocket. I never leave home without it.

It rummaged with its snout through a pile of junk that looked like doodles from a Dr. Seuss book. "Oh, Wockets, pockets, and light bulb sockets. I seem to have run out of dryer sheets. Sorry, chum."

"No, that's perfectly alright." I sighed, and put the collapsible shot glass back into its container.

As I put away the old collapsible cup, my ears received the sounds of loud, demented braying. I looked up, and saw a paraglider. The brays were coming from a harmless paraglider? That was unusual, even for a day like today. Suddenly, zap! A bolt of greenish light struck the camel and it melted into a puddle of brown glop. Apparently, immortality didn't stop a puddlefying ray.

"Why on earth would you do that?" I called up to the paraglider. "He was only a camel!"

"BECAUSE I AM A ZEBRA IN A GLIDER AND I DON'T LIKE TOBACCO COMPANY MASCOTS!" Sure enough, as it moved away from the sun, I could see its long, donkey-like tail and its black-and-white stripes. "ONWARD TO OZ! I'LL GET YOU, MY PRETTY! AND YOUR LITTLE DOG, TOO!" It cackled. It was promptly sucked up by a pink-and-orange polka-dotted tornado, and both the zebra and the storm vanished.

The ants returned soon afterward. The enormous colony began closing in on me, but I felt no fear. By this point I knew it was only a dream, and I was curious to know what would happen. They began to converge into one solid object, piling and stacking on top of each other until they took on the shape of a man. The Ant-Man spoke. Their voice sounded like hundreds of whispers at once, in perfect unison.

"Pity. That psychotic zebra has been a loose cannon for years, and now he's gone and puddlefied one of the greatest scientific minds the Colony's ever seen." It kicked the puddle of brown and it shifted away from the crawling, shiny black foot a little. "At least he isn't dead. That elixir of life kept him living forever, but it didn't protect him from unwanted transformations."

"Can you heal him?"

"Of course we can restore his mind, but his body will need tremendous reconstruction. We'll need teocrentite ore, a jabberwocky whatsahoosit, cookies baked by a Baba-Yaga, pickled pig-feet, a goat, a crossbow, and someone who knows how to play the trumpet."

"Ah. Anything I can do to help?"

"You could stop that zebra." They (It?) suggested.

I traveled to the local high school. I don't know why I went there, but in madcap dreams such as this, things tend to either go your way or turn into a massive nightmare. There, a class of teenagers was being tortured by a boring English teacher, using the most infamously terrible devices known to man; a textbook and his own, monotonous, droning voice. He wore a stuffy suit, and his blond hair was primly slicked back to hide his tremendous bald spot.

"Excuse me, sir. I wish to have you evacuate this classroom. There's a zebra in a glider with a puddlefier on the loose."

"...and you would place the subject after the verb in this sentence to create a pleasant alliteration..." he droned, and droned, and droned! No wonder the zebra wanted to liquefy him!

There was a terrific crash, and there was the zebra, standing on his hind legs wearing green lederhosen and a feathered boa. The corner of its puce kite was visible on the edge of the roof. It zapped the teacher, and the fat man instantly became a black-and-white puddle. The students panicked, except for one large Polynesian young man who seemed to keep his head.

The boy tackled the zebra, wrestling the gun from its hooves. The psychotic zebra just sat and laughed, snorting and braying until the boy pulled the trigger. There were now two identical puddles of black-and-white ick on the floor. The entire classroom cheered for their hero.

The teenagers were liberated from their oppression, and eventually joined up with the ant colony, and built a rocket. The ants, for reasons still unknown, seemed to feel protective of these particular teenagers. So, in about two weeks, the teens loaded onto the rocket and left for the moon, which had been made habitable with the help of the liquefied camel; he had made a miraculous full recovery.

In another month, we received a text message from one of the citizens of the new moon colony. Apparently the soil on the moon had special properties, and had contaminated the water supply. It had given them super power beyond dreaming. All of them could lift massive boulders with their minds alone, they could run faster than a speeding leopard, and were stronger than Mighty Mouse. And they all gained unexplained freckles shaped in spirals on their earlobes and above their left eyebrows. They all seemed quite happy, but somehow mutant snails from a parallel universe invaded.

It was at this point I woke up, with that metallic thing staring at me, standing on one leg in the middle of a pirouette. In a flash, I took the doll and dashed it against the wall.

"No more curry before bedtime." I silently vowed.

I bent down to pick up the pieces of the doll when I saw an ant. In its pincers was a curious bit of white goo.

"I suppose you got that from an English teacher, or a zebra." I muttered, only half amused.

The ant stopped in its dutiful course. "Why, yes I did, sir. And I believe the Colony has you to thank for it." It resumed in its slow, purposeful course towards a crack in the wall. "No time to chit-chat. Gotta get this to the spaceship to take to those nice kids on the moon. If you'd like to come along, all you have to do is flap a pink hankie at the moon and dance the funky chicken. Good day to you!"

It was about then that I blacked out.

About a week later I went to back to work at the office after a thorough treatment from a psychiatrist. I was filing papers and writing memos the way a good secretary should. I was still thinking about my excursion with the metal doll, the camel with dandruff, the teenagers on the moon.

"You could still do it, you know."

I jumped in my chair, startled by the voice (with a very thick American accent) that appeared from seemingly nowhere. I looked around, and saw a girl, who looked to be about sixteen smiling at me across the desk.

"Where did you come from? The guard would have stopped-"

It would take a lot more than one measly guard to stop me from doing what I want. Her voice resounded in my mind. I spotted a strange looking mark above her eyebrow, and at first I thought it was a tattoo. Then I realized what it really was when I saw identical marks on her ears.

"Are you...? No, you couldn't be."

"I'm Xena Eyre. My name used to be Rachel Jones. I live on the moon, thanks to you."

"I- um, well..." I was speechless. So it truly hadn't been a curry-induced nightmare.

"I'm going to get straight to the point here. We live in the coolest place ever, and we owe you big time for it. So, we decided to let you move in if you want. We have more room than you can ever really need there. I mean, there are only about thirty of us. Well, maybe twenty-nine. Parker Case accidentally got zapped by the flying zebra and had to be hospitalized with the ants, so he missed the shuttle. His recovery wasn't as good as the camel's, and he was a jerk no one liked anyway. The spot we planned for him could go to you, if you want to."

Xena pulled something out of her jacket pocket. A pink handkerchief, just like the ant had described. "Tie this to your left wrist, do the funky chicken, and we'll zap you to our place faster than you can blink. We'll give you two weeks to set your affairs in order, sell your house and quit this lame-sauce job. If you don't show up, we'll annex your spot to someone else."

She casually strolled to the window, calm as a summer morning as she opened it. She put one foot out, sitting on the sill. She gripped the curtain rod with the ease and relaxation of a person who had done it her whole life. As she was about to leap from the window, she added, "Remember, two weeks or your invitation is torn up. You already know the benefits of the moon, since you created our situation. Think about it. Think about it hard."

Then, quick as a flash, she leapt out the window before I could tell her to stop. I dashed to the window, expecting to see her bloodied, mangled body forty stories below the corporate building. But the mysterious teen wasn't there.

I looked around, but couldn't see her. I looked down at the pink handkerchief in my ink-stained hand. It looked like a piece of a bedsheets that had been torn away.

I clenched the scrap of fabric in my hand and made my decision instantly. I knew what I had to do.

"But Grandpa, that doesn't make any sense! What do ants and an English teacher have to do with anything? Why does the water make us special? Why is this story so random? It sounds like something a teenager would write on a night they had too much homework!"

I smiled, and levitated a cup of root beer to my hand. I had waited for this moment for years, until my grandson was grown up enough to understand.

I sipped at my drink. "My boy, this peace is what all true warriors strive for."

THE END