(Based on a true story.)


“It sounds like a three-year-old riding a skateboard without any wheels,” Dad groans.

I shake my head. “No, it’s more like a chair being dragged around on a very thin blanket.”

“That—that right there,” Mom adds, listening. “What could that possibly be?”

I take a bite of pizza. My parents and I are, on this rare occasion, sitting crammed together at the small breakfast table in the kitchen. We’re having takeout for dinner (Mom doesn’t cook anymore since getting hooked on SMN). Meanwhile, our new upstairs neighbors are moving around very, very loudly. Putting things away. Building and arranging furniture. Playing hopscotch. Running relays back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

It’s been like this for three weeks.

“No normal human beings make that much noise,” Dad says. I can tell he’s upset because he’s been holding the same slice of uneaten pepperoni for no less than fifteen minutes. Also, his partial comb-over is starting to unravel itself. “Sakra! These are the worst neighbors we’ve ever had!”

“Maybe not the worst,” I say. “Remember the woman who used to leave her garbage outside her front door for days on end? The one who played the tuba every night?”

Bam! Bam! Bam! goes the ceiling above.

Dad shakes his head. “This is definitely worse.”


“It’s also an architecture thing,” I continue. “Depending on how it’s built, a downstairs apartment basically becomes a giant drum regardless of how quiet you try to be. We might sound just like that if we lived upstairs.”

“No, we wouldn’t.”

I chew thoughtfully for a moment, listening to the sound of a heavy treasure chest being dragged across a spread of marbles.

Followed by:

Zoom! Pow! Whoa!

“Explain that one!” Dad tosses his pizza back into the box. “There’s nothing in heaven or on Earth that should make a noise like that!” He gets to his feet. “I’ve had enough. I’m going up there.”

Mom and I watch as he stomps angrily out of the apartment. He returns exactly three minutes later, clothes ruffled, hair a little more salt than pepper, eyes bloodshot, a decade added to his overall demeanor. He doesn’t quite look like he’s been injured in a fight or accident—he’s not bruised or bloody or anything. If I had to describe him using a popular movie title, it would be Dazed and Confused.

“What happened?” I ask.

“My God,” he breathes. “It’s full of stars.”

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Published by

Jesse Gordon

Geek. Writer. Supreme overlord of the SUPERMEGANET pseudoverse. Author of THE OATMEAL MAN, DOOKIE, and other such wasteful nonsense.