By Wendy Mass
By Michael Brawer
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Archie Morningstar’s dad drives a taxi through outer space! And with the help of a talking cat named Pockets, Archie and his dad help fight crime across the universe.
Table of Contents
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"Faster, Archie, faster!" Pockets shouts as I get closer. "Pretend a hippoctopus from Omega 9 is chasing you. He thinks you're dinner!"
Sneakers pounding on the sidewalk, I finally turn the corner and reach the courtyard behind our apartment building. I lean against the brick wall, panting. Pockets steps out from behind the large tree he was using as cover. Even though it's rare to find anyone back here besides me and my sister, Penny, it's best to be careful. No one can know that Pockets is actually a super intergalactic crime fighter and not just our giant, fluffy pet cat who sheds a lot and sleeps even more. He clicks his stopwatch and shakes his head in disapproval.
"What… pant pant… is a hippoctopus?" I ask. "Is that like a cross between a hippo… pant… and an octopus?"
Pockets's eyes dart left and right. When he's completely sure we're alone, he says, "Exactly. Only bigger, smellier, and with more arms. Now, let's go twice more around the building, this time backward."
I shake my head. "I need a break. I've been running for an hour straight while alternating between bouncing a tennis ball and jumping rope. I don't know if you've tried it, but it's pretty much impossible to do without looking totally ridiculous." In fact, my downstairs neighbor, Mr. Goldblatt, shouted Oy vey! when I ran/jumped/bounced by for the fifth time while he was walking his dog. He says that to me and my sister, Penny, a lot, usually while shaking his head in disbelief at the same time. He's cranky, but he's really nice, too. After I told him that Dad had taken me to Barney's Bagels and Schmear, Mr. Goldblatt was the one who explained that schmear can actually mean two things—the act of coating the bagel with a spread, such as cream cheese, or the cream cheese itself. Like THAT'S not confusing! I know he'd love to hear that aliens are real and that I've actually been on other planets, but Dad and I have to keep the space taxi thing—and especially our jobs as Intergalactic Security Force deputies—a secret.
"Part of your training is to improve your hand-eye coordination and balance," Pockets says. "As an ISF deputy, you have to be quick on your feet and ready to react in the blink of an eye." He tucks his stopwatch into one of the endlessly deep pockets hidden in his fur and then pulls out two pairs of sunglasses. He tosses me a pair and sticks the other on his face. For a cat, he can rock a pair of sunglasses like no one else I know.
"All right, you've earned a rest," he says. "You're actually pretty fast for a human boy."
I gratefully drop the rope and ball at my feet and take a long sip from my water bottle. "Are humans known for being slow?" I ask. "I mean, compared to people on other planets?"
"They are slower than approximately 9,356,110 other species."
"Wow, that's pretty slow."
Pockets shrugs. "Like everything, it's all in the way you look at it. You're also faster than at least sixteen billion species, if that makes you feel any better."
"It does, a little," I admit. "Let's hope I'm on one of those planets when something big and smelly with more than eight arms wants to eat me for dinner." I slip on my glasses. "So, what are these for? It's not very sunny out." The glasses make the courtyard look only a tiny bit darker.
"Slide your hand around the frame on the left until you feel a little switch," he instructs. "Then push it toward you."
I follow his instructions, and the lenses flicker. I blink in surprise. Instead of seeing Pockets next to the tree, which is what I'd been looking at, all I see is myself, standing in front of the wall. I turn my head from side to side, but the view doesn't change. It's like I'm frozen in place. That's weird! Then Pockets says, "I'm going to turn my head now," and suddenly I can see not only myself but also the sides of the building, the small laundry room window above my head, and the jump rope in a heap on the ground. "I get it!" I say excitedly. "I'm seeing what you're seeing!"
"Correct. Now push the switch in the opposite direction and I will see what you see."
I push the switch. My view returns to normal. I walk in a circle around Pockets and ask, "Do you see yourself now?"
He grins and puts a paw on his hip. "I'm one handsome cat, aren't I? I don't believe I've ever seen my own rump before."
I giggle at the word rump. "Not sure you'll win any beauty contests, but you're all right as far as giant talking cats go." We both switch our glasses back to the regular setting.
Pockets reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wireless earpiece. I've seen him use one to talk long-distance with his dad, but I've never seen it up close. He holds out the tiny device and I grab it. "My own earpiece?" I ask, sticking it in my ear before he can change his mind. "Oooohh!" It instantly molds to the shape of my earlobe and is so small I doubt anyone could see it unless they were peering into my ear from an inch away, which would be weird. "It tickles! Do I get to keep it?"
"For now," he says, sticking one in his own ear. "We will practice using them so we'll be able to communicate if we get separated on a mission. Hopefully, we won't have to worry about that, of course."
"Hey, I did okay on my own on our last mission, right? I rescued the princess by myself."
Pockets clears his throat. "Well, you may have had a little help."
Before I can argue, Mr. Goldblatt's tiny black pug, Luna, slowly trots into the courtyard, her leash trailing behind her. Luna is old and half-blind, so I guess Mr. Goldblatt isn't worried about her running away before he catches up. She's still sharp enough to spot the yellow tennis ball at my feet, though, and pounces on it.
- On Sale
- May 10, 2016
- Page Count
- 128 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers