Thursday, November 16 was Give to the Max Day. As part of our Give to the Max Day festivities, MOI wrote a silly story. Each time someone donated, we added a new line from a fishbowl full of ideas from our Crew! Below is the final story. Settle in, grab a snack, and enjoy the MOI original: 10,000 Hamburgers Under the Sea. (Bold lines were drawn from the bowl, or respond to a prompt in the bowl.)
Once upon a time an intrepid adventurer set off in search of some valuable sea treasure. That adventurer was me, the Captain of the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute. I hoped the treasure would help fund MOI’s Voyage across the Mississippi River to our new location in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of South Minneapolis.
The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth and covers 30% of the Earth’s surface. I decided that would be the best place to look. But first, I needed a companion. I consulted my trusty Ocean Guide. “How about a squid?” I thought.
Instead, an odd-looking crab appeared in front of me.
“He was not the squid I expected,” I grumbled.
“My name’s Hermie!” the crab exclaimed. He reached out his tiny claw for a handshake.
“I guess I’ll work with what I’ve got,” I said. Hermie climbed on my shoulder and we both got into the submarine.
Right away I knew this was going to be a strange journey. Not a moment after we shut the submarine door, it started raining hamburgers!
“Mmmm, my favorite food,” squeaked Hermie.
“Crabs don’t eat hamburgers,” I told him.
“This one does! I never thought I’d see the day when my very favorite food rained from the sky,” sighed Hermie. “Can we go back out and eat some? Pleeeeeease?”
“No,” I told him.
(Some of you may have heard rumors about the Captain being cranky. Those rumors are true.)
I was no longer feeling good about this treasure hunt. The hamburgers seemed like a bad omen.
As if the ocean was reading my mind, a floating jellyfish appeared. It said, “I will grant you one wish.”
“I just want to go home!” I cried.
Suddenly it was quiet. Too quiet.
I saw a dancing squid waving its tentacles outside the submarine’s porthole. The squid I wanted in the first place—finally!
“What an amazing creature,” I said.
“Why, thank you!” squealed Hermie.
“Not you, the other one,” I said, pointing out the window.
Then, the squid stopped dancing and began to jump up and down. Or was it that the submarine was shaking?
“What’s happening?” I asked Hermie, who was shivering in his shell. He looked scared.
There was a bright flash and the submarine was still. It was hot, and sunlight was streaming through the porthole. Then I realized where we were.
“A submarine in the desert?! As if this trip could get any worse,” I complained.
Out of the window, I saw three things that start with the letter M in front of me. A mermaid, a mouse, and a mountain.
None of those could help me get home. I was missing something else that started with the letter M.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I asked my crab companion.
Hermie smiled. “Minnesota!” He reached out his claw and pushed a giant blue button that I hadn’t noticed before.
The submarine started shaking again. All I wanted was to be back at MOI headquarters. After a few seconds, the submarine floated to the water’s surface. I noticed that we were in a river. I looked to my right and saw St. Paul. I looked to my left and saw Minneapolis. Finally, we were home.
Then, I heard a beep on the sonar. Something was coming toward us!
“What now?” I cried. A canoe paddled up next to us. It was the MOI Crew!
“Captain, Hermie, we’re so glad you’re okay!” cried Natalie.
“I didn’t find any treasure,” I admitted.
“Oh, Captain, you don’t need to travel to the ends of the earth to fund our voyage,” said Samantha. “Our friends right here in Minnesota will help us out.”
I knew she was right. All was well.
“Soooo,” squeaked Hermie, “anybody want a hamburger?”
The sky turned green when Hermie mentioned hamburgers.
I felt the sudden urge to dance.
I heard a tiny voice in the distance calling my name.
The ground started to shake and rumble. The wish-granting jellyfish had reappeared.
Before anyone could speak, Hermie yelled, “I wish we had a treasure-finding robot!”
The magic jellyfish waved a tentacle. A strange creature, silver with lots of gears and arms, materialized in front of us. And with that, the jellyfish bid his fellow sea creatures adieu.
The robot scanned their arms all over the river’s shore. But before the robot could find anything themself, I tripped over something sticking out of the sand. A treasure chest! Could this be real?
I took a deep breath and said, “Crew? I…think I found something.”
I tried to walk but couldn’t take a step. Quicksand!!
I realized everything around me was sinking. I watched the treasure fall deep into the ground and out of my grasp.
Meanwhile, something was going on between Hermie and the robot. They were gazing into each other’s eyes, acting like I wasn’t even there.
The robot never thought they would fall in love but from the moment they saw Hermie, they knew they had found a soulmate.
I looked back at my lost treasure, and by the time I got my feet out of the quicksand, all I could see of Hermie and the robot were their silhouettes as they walked happily together off into the sunset.
In the year 3016, the history books would remember that treasure-hunting robot as the first robot to find true love.
While I was happy for them, now I was all alone.
I reached in my pocket but couldn’t find my phone.
The wind rushed through the trees. Or was it something else?
A strange figure appeared in the distance. It wasn’t quite human-shaped and wasn’t quite animal-shaped. I remembered hearing about a sea creature called a blobfish. Maybe that was it!
But as the figure got closer, I realized the blob was not a blobfish at all! It was an unusual-looking clownfish wearing a very puffy jacket.
The poor fish looked as cold as an iceberg.
“Are you alright?” I inquired.
“I can’t believe I’m so far from home,” the clownfish said. I just want to live somewhere warm and happy. Is that so much to ask?”
I had an idea. I could help this sad, cold clownfish myself!
“Do you like kids?” I asked.
“I love kids!” replied the clownfish. “I have 1,000 of my own! And I miss them terribly.”
“Come back to MOI with me,” I said. “You can see kids every day. They would all love to meet you.”
The chilly clownfish nodded happily.
“Now, where’s that darn wish-granting jellyfish?” I thought. “It could help me get the clownfish to MOI safely.”
Like magic, the jellyfish appeared again.
“Wishing for something?” it asked me. “I’ll make sure your new friend gets back to headquarters safe and sound.”
Then I noticed one of the jellyfish’s arms was stuck in the quicksand. Then another arm. Then another!
The jellyfish had met its worst enemy. It used its only free arm to cast a spell. Poof! It was gone, and so was the clownfish I was trying to help.
I looked around and realized I was all alone. Would I ever see that clownfish again?
I felt nervous and uneasy. My hands were shaking wildly and my teeth were chattering loudly. What in the whole Pacific Ocean was I supposed to do now?
All of a sudden, I saw two figures running toward me. One was tall and metallic, and the other was short and had a shell.
“Hermie!” I cried. “I thought you were gone for good!”
“Don’t be silly,” said Hermie. “I just went to get a hamburger with my new soulmate. Need a ride back to MOI?” Hermie called our submarine back from the depths of the sea.
I was lucky to have a friend like Hermie. I felt my icy captain’s heart melt just a little as we all got into the submarine together and started our journey home.
If you want to join in on the writing fun, head over to our Facebook page, @mspmoi, to watch our videos announcing the story lines! Then send your story over to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tag us with #MOIWrites. And if you want to contribute to the MOI Voyage Fund to keep our wacky writing going in our new youth writing center in Cedar-Riverside, go here.