In what could have been either years or seconds, my sidekick and I regained consciousness in what appeared to be an army bunker. "What the hell?" I mumbled, feeling around for my glasses. "I haven't blacked out that hard since I TUI'ed."

"Since you what?" Bella asked, rubbing her eyes. Always eager to display her ignorance, that one.

"Time-travelled under the influence," I clarified with a groan.

As we struggled to collect ourselves and rise to our feet, a short skeleton, who wore nothing but a green army helmet, burst into the room. Is it normal to be unclothed when you're a skeleton? The soldier saluted at us, doubling over as if he was having difficulty breathing, which was a little silly, considering his lack of lungs.

"As you were," I dismissed. What was happening?

"Sirs," the skeleton breathed, "We dropped the atomic bomb on Skeleton Hiroshima, but it didn't explode. What are your orders, now, Generals?"

My sidekick and I shared a quizzical glance. With a shrug, I finally announced, "I guess just drop another one…?"

"A bigger one," Bella elaborated.

"A better one," I finished, nodding with certainty.

The skeleton soldier's skeletal gaze pleaded with us as if begging, 'Please, sirs! That's a terrible idea!' but he did not speak, likely for fear of demotion. After my fellow skeleton general and I gave him naught but blank stares and silence for a few seconds, he sighed and reluctantly scurried out of the room, grumbling an intimidated "Yes, sirs…" under his breath. Which he didn't have. Because he was a skeleton.

Once we were alone again, Bella turned to me. "So this is what the skeleton war is? World War II, but with skeletons?"

"Maybe," I shrugged, my bones clattering as I did so. "It must be an alternate universe, though, because the events seem to happen differently. And, you know-because everyone is a skeleton."

My loyal sidekick racked her brain. "The portal she threw us into took us outside the confines of regular time and space as we knew them, but it was too small-grade to lead us to an alternate universe. That makes this a pocket universe-or maybe even a bunch of tiny ones all clustered together."

"In that case, nothing that happens here has a real effect on the space-time continuum. Right? Which is convenient, considering we have no idea how hard we just nuked Japan."

"Wait. How are we supposed to microwave them?" she asked with clear confusion.

"Not that type of nuke, you silly sidekick. Nuke can also be short for nuclear weapons." At least she has me to educate her. I consider myself a philanthropist, in that regard.

"Yeah, yeah. Let's get back to that mission at hand-that is, figuring out what's going on with the Skeleton Wars."

"So, we're reliving this historical battle, but with a new set of circumstances," I recapped. "It seems as if we've been presented with a task, and in a fit of facetious whimsy, we have offered up a solution."

"Speaking of which," she interjected pensively, glancing around with sudden apprehension. "How long do you think we have to stay here? We may have just jumpstarted a nuclear holocaust."

"I think that when we solve each problem, we move on to a new one," I theorized. Was I just recalling instructions written on the math homework we were supposed to retrieve? Yes.

"So when Skeleton Hiroshima-okay, Skeleton Asia, probably-goes up in smoke, we wake up in some other barracks?" Bella wondered aloud. (She's a little slow.)

A sudden violent ringing and blinding white light drowned out my affirmation. Well, that's one way to confirm a hypothesis!


I slapped Bella awake. "Hey! Hey, sidekick! Wake up!"

She groaned, her eyes creaking open like unoiled gates. "Wait. Where are we? Did we make it out of World War II?"

"We're in a dumpster," I confirmed. "And I don't just mean metaphorically, this time."

"Edags," she grumbled sarcastically. "Wait. Why is the dumpster full of water?"

"I'm not sure," I explained, "but it's salt water, which is odd, considering that we're behind Wal-Mart."

She squinted upwards. "Is that... is that the flag of New Zealand?"

"I don't know," I scoffed. "You're the earthling-you tell me." Honestly, what does she expect? I've only been through human high school once, and I learned absolutely nothing, despite the American geography I suffered through. Besides, as Bella-or Skella, if you will-would say, space is weird. Nothing is really anywhere if it's all constantly moving.

As we stared at the flag, two bullet holes ripped through the fabric, accompanied by the appropriate sound effects. Over the loudspeaker, a malicious voice announced: "Prepare to be boarded!"

We exchanged confounded glances.

Without warning, a wave of salt water splashed onto our heads, causing the dumpster to sway. Sputtering, I hoisted myself over the side of the bin to see miles and miles of ocean. As a few more bullets whizzed by my head, I dove back into the dumpster. (It was my first time dumpster diving.)

Skella had seen it, too. She was going pale. "You said we were behind Wal-Mart!"

"We were!" I insisted as a harsh wave slung me head-first against the metal. Had the scenario changed mid-way through?

Skella was starting to hyperventilate. "Tristan, I hate the ocean! I HATE it! It's a giant, malicious cesspool of death! It's ALIVE! It's alive and it wants to KILL ME!"

"Shut UP, Skella!"

As forewarned, a wooden ladder clanged onto the side of the dumpster, mounted by a small party of pirate skeletons. Due to the limited size of our vessel, this is the closest they came to boarding.

"Muerta! Muerta!" screamed one of the pirates, pressing a sword against my throat.

"SKella! Do something pirate-y!" I squeaked.

"We invoke the right of parlé!" she screamed, gripping the side of the bin so hard her knuckles turned white. It was the only time during the whole scenario she wasn't totally useless.

The swordsman sighed, rolling his eye sockets and retracting his weapon. Honestly, the sword was a little unnecessary, what with all of the gunmen behind him, but I wasn't exactly in a position to criticize him. "Alright, boys, you heard 'em. Let's take 'em to the Captain."

Skella continued to cower pathetically as we were led to the pirates' much larger vessel. The Captain had a very impressive beard, for a skeleton.

"You really thought parlé was gonna save you?" he scoffed, crossing his arms in annoyance. "All you've done is inconvenience me a little. Now I'll kill you myself. Any last words?"

In that brief moment, all hope seemed lost. But that's when, out of nowhere, an arrow zipped through the air and lodged directly into the Captain's skull, causing him to collapse!"

"Skella, look!" I exclaimed, pointing to a ship on the horizon. "It's the Skellowship of the Ring!"

That's right. None other than the skeletal counterparts of the Lord of the Rings heroes had come to defend the flag of their home country, Skeleton New Zealand!

Everything soared into motion at once. While Skella rocked back and forth on the ground in fetal position, I grabbed the fallen Captain's cutlass and started sword fighting some pirates; Bone-omir, Skeleton Aragorn, and some skeleton hobbits dismounted from their ship to join me.

Legoton, who had already killed the Captain, remained aboard the ship, nocking arrow after arrow and firing upon the enemy. "Skeleven!" he called out.

"Skeleven!?" Skeleton Gimli laughed boisterously, crushing the skull of a pirate with his axe. "There's no way! The Captain only counts as one!"

And of course, in all his glory, the mighty, holy wizard Gandalf descended to unleash his science-magic upon the unsuspecting pirate army. I was almost too consumed with worshipping him to continue fighting, but then I remembered Skella. Poor, poor, cowardly Skella. If I didn't protect her, then who would?



Bella yanked the datapad away from her rogue partner. "Tristan, what are you-the Skellowship of the Ring? Are you kidding? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen!" She narrowed her eyes at the screen. "Did you refer to the classified case documents we were retrieving as math homework!?"

Desperately, Tristan tried to take it back. "Hey, I'm not finished! If we leave it like that, it's a cliffhanger. I haven't even gotten to the part where Gandalf crowns me an honorary wizard!"

"You're out of your mind!" Bella sputtered, kicking her away. "Who would believe a story like this!?"

"Who would believe anything about the skeleton wars!? The whole concept is ridiculous."

"Yes, but they happened, which is why we're writing this report!" Just as Tristan's fingers grazed the datapad. Bella grabbed her anti-gravity belt and activated it; to Tristan's dismay, she floated out of reach and flattened herself against the ceiling. "What didn't happen is your Lord of the Rings fanfic."

"Stop talking about the fellowship like they aren't real," Tristan grumbled, marching off to find her own anti-gravity device. There was no telling where she had left it last-gadgets of all sorts perpetually swamped her lab to the point that finding anything was a mission of its own.

Bella sighed in relief. "Alright. Now where were we?"