Cube Stories

I got a set of Rory's Story Cubes as an early Christmas present, and immediately tried them out. I really like this creativity toy and recommend it to everyone. Enjoy reading my results from using the cubes:

Alien Invasion

Aliens came to my apartment building. They were looking for a fish. Not just any fish, but a specific fish. We offered them canned tuna but they threw it out the window. The Kravitzes (apt 607) had some delicious smoked salmon but the aliens were not interested. They interrogated Mr. Smith's goldfish in apartment 502, but seemed unsatisfied with the answers they got.

"Why a fish?" we asked them.

They just blinked their big black eyes at us and kept searching the building, floor by floor. They came into people's apartments without knocking and started turning things over. Even if a door was locked, they had no problem opening it, and then they'd barge in and start digging under the sofa cushions. They found old change and playing cards and lost toys, but none of this interested them. If it wasn't a fish (and none of it was), they'd just throw it in the middle of the floor and continue their search.

Obviously the building's residents were not comfortable with this, so we met in the common room to decide what to do. Some were in favor of calling the police, some wanted to call the landlord, and one person (Mrs. McGillicuddy from 101) wanted to call the mayor.

Strange Melvin, the building superintendent, came running up from the basement. "I figured it out!" he exclaimed. "I know why they're here!"

We assumed Melvin was just being strange again, but with aliens in the building, his strangeness seemed almost normal somehow. So we stopped what we were doing (which was mostly telling the aliens we hadn't seen the fish they were looking for, and explaining to Mrs. McGillicuddy that the mayor had bigger problems and shouldn't be bothered with this) and we listened to what Melvin had to say.

"I was reading a book," Melvin said.

"What book?" asked Mrs. Blevins from 203.

"Cotton Mather's Magnalia if that means anything to you," Melvin retorted impatiently.

It didn't mean anything to us, so we politely waited for him to continue.

"I was reading the Magnalia," Melvin continued, "When I came across something that Reverend Mather had written very faintly in pencil right next to the binding. I thought I was imagining it at first, but it's actually there. I had to use a magnifying glass to decipher it."

"HOLD ON A SECOND!" bellowed Mr. Kravitz from 607. "Do you mean to tell us that you have an actual manuscript copy of a book written by a crazy Puritan minister during the colonial period of American history?"

"There's all kinds of cool stuff in the basement." Melvin explained. "Seriously. You'd be surprised."

One of the aliens stepped into the room, but he didn't do anything. He just stood there, apparently listening to Melvin while waiting for the other aliens to finish their search. So we ignored him.

"As you were saying?" prompted Mrs. Blevins.

"Oh right." Melvin continued, "It seems that there was a log cabin on this site, long before our apartment building was built, and there was a fountain fed by a natural spring. This cabin & fountain combination was located in the middle of a huge sheep farm with some of the largest grazing pastures in the colony at that time. It was said that this flock was directly descended from the flock of sheep that provided wool and meat for the builders of the pyramids in ancient Egypt."

"What has any of this got to do with aliens and fish?" whined little Ben Foogle from 709. He was feeling cranky because his favorite show, Terror Squirrel, was starting in a few minutes, but his parents didn't feel comfortable about him being in their apartment while aliens were ransacking it. Unfortunately Ben wasn't comfortable being stuck in the common room with a bunch of lame grownups talking about log cabins and pyramids, so we all knew it was just a matter of time before he started "acting out" in unproductive ways.

"I'm getting to that," said Melvin, with an excited gleam in his eye. "Cotton Mather had heard a story about the fountain which this ancient family of sheep were drinking from; a story so preposterous that he didn't dare include it in his book. But he wrote it in the margin just in case it turned out to be important. And boy, am I glad he did, because -" Suddenly the alien made a weird noise. All of the other aliens ran into the room, grabbed Melvin, and dashed out. It happened so quickly nobody could even say anything before they were gone. We stood there gaping for a few seconds, and then Mr. Kravitz burped - which sort of broke the spell. We all looked at each other and shrugged ... then went back to our apartments to straighten up the aliens' mess and catch the second half of Terror Squirrel.

Tantalus Jones

Tantalus Jones (or TJ for short, but don't ever let him hear you say that, because he's very sensitive about his height...) Anyway, Tantalus Jones was trying to reach the cookie jar, but it was too high. No matter how hard he stretched and strained and stood on his toes, he just couldn't reach it. So he got mad. His face turned red. He clenched his fists and waved them in the air. He stormed around, kicking things and jumping up and down and cussing.

And then he set the house on fire. Soon there was nothing but a pile of ashes, and Tantalus Jones knew he had gone too far. He would be in big trouble when his parents got home and discovered there was no home to come to anymore. Tantalus decided the best thing to do would be to hide the evidence, so he swept all the ashes into a big box and buried it in the backyard.

"The perfect crime!" Tantalus cackled. "Nobody will ever know!" And he let loose a villainous laugh.

Just then old Carl Hood, the blind seer, was walking past. "Who's laughing over there?" he wheezed. "What's the big joke?"

"Oh, nothing," said Tantalus Jones. "I was just thinking about something from last week's episode of Terror Squirrel."

"That is indeed a funny show," admitted old Carl. "Sounds like young Tantalus Jones laughing like a loon in his front yard. Come here and let me look at you, boy."

Tantalus approached the old man, who put out his hands and felt his face. "That's Tantalus Jones, all right," croaked Carl. "I would say you're growing like a weed, but you're still the same size you were the last time I saw you."

Tantalus scowled at this, but said nothing as the old man's fingers continued to examine his head.

"You look guilty, son," Carl muttered. "There is sin written on your face as plain as day. Maybe you should change your name to Tantrum Jones."

This revelation disturbed Tantalus Jones so much, he immediately turned and ran away. He left town and has never been seen since.

The Fish With a Wish

Once upon a time there was a fish who lived in a small river under a bridge. The fish watched people walking over the bridge every day, and she envied them. "They are free to go wherever they want, up there on the dry land, while I'm stuck here in this river. Oh why was I born a fish?" In this manner the poor fish pined away under the bridge, always watching the people walking above.

Then one day a pedestrian dropped his cell phone into the river, and the fish had a brilliant idea. "Now's my chance!" she exclaimed, as she quickly grabbed the phone and dialed up her friend the water-sprite. She anxiously waited as the phone rang, hoping she could connect before the river water shorted out the battery.

Somebody answered the phone.

"Nix! Hi! It's me," said the fish.

"Fish! I can't believe it!" said the voice on the other end. "It's wonderful to hear from you! How long has it been?"

"I'm borrowing somebody's phone and I don't have much time," the fish explained. "Are you still in the wish-granting business?"

"You bet I am," said the Nix.

"Well here's the thing. This is hard for me to admit, but I have finally realized I am really a land animal trapped in a fish's body."

"Wow, Fish, that's a pretty heavy revelation. How long have you known?" the Nix asked.

"Pretty much all my life, but listen - the reason I called you is because I wish I had lungs and feet so I could live on dry land."

"Whoah," sighed the Nix. "Transmogrification is really out of my league ... but I think I know something that can help you."

"Go on," urged the fish.

"You'll have to get to the Nile, which is a large river in Egypt, and swim up it til you reach the pyramids. Those are huge triangular things sticking out of the ground. You'll know when you see them. There's a cold spring that empties into the Nile near there, and growing over that spring is an apple tree where the Phoenix nests. The Phoenix is a fire-bird but you probably won't see her because she only roosts there once every thousand years. Anyway, if you can get one of the magic apples off that tree, there's a pretty good chance-" The Nix's voice was suddenly cut off.

"Nix! Nix! Are you still there?" the fish yelled, but there was no reply. The phone was completely waterlogged and had stopped working. She dropped it and it sank slowly into the mud of the river bottom.

The fish didn't know where Egypt was, or how long it would take to get there, but she knew staying here would never make her dreams come true. So she took one last look at the bridge she had lived under all her life, then turned and started swimming downstream.

The Illuminati

While searching for clues in an old book, I found something very upsetting. It seems there is a secret cabal of very, very old men who either have the power or are seeking the power to control and/or shut down the United Nations. Their base of operations is in a house where they meet every Monday night, but its location is a mystery. It is described as being "an equal distance" from all other locations on the earth. I have no idea where this could be. I will continue my research and see if I can find out more.

Grandpa's Childhood Memories

When I was a kid there was a slugger by the name of Joe Holusbolus, "the Polish Piledriver" who played with the Crickets when they were still at Cranberry Park. His trademark was hitting the ball over the outfield fence, and he would whack two or three homers like that every game. The team owners were losing a fortune from having to replace all the balls Joe hit out of the park, so they decided it would be cheaper just to build a big wall. They painted a line on it at the height of the old fence, so if the ball hit the wall above that line it would still be a home run, but the ball wouldn't go out of the park. Then they painted giant billboard ads on the wall, so it turned out to be a good moneymaker for the team.

The new wall was good for the game, I guess, but it was lousy for us kids because we used to sit on soda crates and watch Joe play through knotholes in the fence. But the brick wall didn't have any knotholes, so we ended up having to think of something else to do on Saturday afternoons.

We tried playing soccer in the street, but it didn't catch on. A lot of the kids said it was too European, and there was too much traffic in our neighborhood anyway.

One time I particularly remember was when Tantalus Jones brought his record collection out on the front porch and we all danced. Tantalus was an odd kid. His mother was Greek, and she talked really loud, but his dad was an enigma. We never saw Mr. Jones, but there was a car that was parked outside their house every night and gone every day. He must have had a pretty decent job because the Jones's house was nice, Mrs. Jones always looked pretty, and Tantalus had a lot of records.

So, like I said, Tantalus Jones was playing jazz records and we were dancing around on the sidewalk, and up comes the neighborhood bully - this huge gorilla of a kid named Otis Gronkenstein. Nobody could stand up to Otis Gronkenstein. He could squash any of us just like a bug. The story went around that he had once fought an entire Puerto Rican gang - at least a dozen guys, all teenagers with knives - all by himself and armed with nothing but an old two-by-four he found in the alley. Supposedly this was the reason there were no gangs in our neighborhood. We all feared Otis, and none of us liked him, but we sort of respected him. So he just helps himself to most of Tantalus Jones's records, and walks down the street with them, and nobody says anything or does anything to stop him.

Tantalus cried a little, but he didn't put up as much of a fuss as we thought he would, so everyone's opinion of him went up that day.

About a week later, the Gronkensteins' house exploded, killing everyone inside. After that the neighborhood started to go downhill.

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Contents copyright 2011 by JW Kennedy.