Chuck glanced at the clock. Only thirteen minutes left until he reached Drodlax. Traders who wanted to make money fast always used this planet. The only problem was that bounty hunters and pirates knew that too. Chuck was an experienced trader who dealt mostly in carrying cookies from one planet to another. The other pilots laughed at him constantly, but he knew cookies were an important part of every person’s diet. Twelve minutes left, the blue sphere completely filled the windows on his ship, the Transgressor. The line that divided the planet from day and night created an illusion that only half a planet was there. Chuck was headed for the dark half; cookies had been labeled by some to be a narcotic substance abused by children after school. For that reason he could only make his deliveries by the black blanket of night. A button at his right hand flashed and a beep came from a hidden speaker in the cockpit. He was nearing the atmosphere of the planet, the place where pirates would inevitably try to damage his ship and steal his shipment of narcotic cookies. Chuck pressed the flashing button and his ship automatically moved into the correct position for atmosphere entry. A shimmering distortion caught his eye just off the right wing. Only an invisible pirate could make that kind of shape. Chuck added a little more fuel to the Transgressor's engines, trying to speed up. With this last shipment of cookies, he could make the final payments on his new ship. He wasn’t about to lose them now. Pressing another button his secret Marmosetificators powered up. The shimmering shape drew nearer and nearer. Chuck grabbed the control stick and got ready for some fancy moves when all of the sudden – “Chuck!” The shimmering shape disappeared and so did the vividly colored console in front of him. Drodlax no longer registered on the cardboard box’s sensor panel. Instead a bunch of scribbling replaced it. He glanced out the cockpit window and saw nothing but the blank white wall of his room. “Yeah, Mom?” “Dinner will be ready in about an hour, I hope you’re doing your homework.” A remnant of an important thought crossed Chuck’s mind. He couldn’t remember quite what it was. “I was studying for science.” Chuck grimaced as he tried to squeeze out of the hole in the side of the box. She would know he was lying. “Don’t waste your time playing those games.” Then he knew. His heart raced as he remembered what he had forgotten that day. How could he have been so stupid? “Mom, I didn’t have my cookie after school today.” There was hope in his voice. He leaned out the doorway to hear her permission. “It’s too late now. You’ll have to wait until after dinner.” “But, Mo-“ “You need to eat real food and a cookie would only make you less hungry.” Chuck didn’t respond. He heard his mom getting out the necessary supplies for feeding the family. What now? His mom said he couldn’t have his daily cookie. It was tradition, though. Every day after school he would get a cookie from the jar. This was the first day he had forgotten about it. Too eager to finish his mission of narcotic cookies he had forgotten about the real thing. I need that cookie. It was settled. The Transgressor and its cookie cargo could wait. Somehow, someway, he was going to have the real cookie. Even if it meant no dinner, there would be a sweet morsel in his mouth. He leaned against his bed and thought. He needed a plan. The first step would be to get to the tree house, where all great plans were formulated. Tip-toeing over to the closet he opened it and grabbed something from under the pile of clothes on the floor. As he strapped it around his neck the black cape flowed to the floor behind Chuck - instantly making him the visage of a hero minus one part. Where is it? I thought it was with the cape. Chuck dug around in the pile of clothes, but couldn’t find any hero-like objects. Then he saw it. The object all heroes must wear, whether they be saving the world or nabbing cookies: The bandanna with eye holes! Chuck lifted it off the closet door handle and pulled it over his head. Looking in the mirror he nodded with satisfaction. Now, to the tree house. Chuck quietly walked over to the door and peered out, there was nobody in the hallway, so he jumped out and landed softly on the carpet. Down a little ways was his sister’s room. He sprinted to that doorway and went inside. Looking out of that door he saw the end of the hall where the stairs went down to the first floor. “What are you doing?” Chuck’s sister, Jamie, was lying on her bed reading for her homework. Chuck was instantly disgusted by the pink walls and sheets on the bed. Sticking out his tongue at her he prepared for the next sprint to the head of the stairs. “Shouldn’t you be doing your homework?” “Shut up, Jamie.” Chucks eyes narrowed behind the mask. “Shut up? Shut up! Mom! Chuck just told me to shut up!” Jamie’s hands gripped the book hard as she put all her might into yelling. “Chuck! Don’t say things like that to your sister.” “Sorry, Mom.” Chuck tightened the bandanna. “Don’t be sorry to me, say it to your sister.” “Sorry, Jamie.” “Whatever.” Chuck stuck his tongue out at her again and headed for the stairs. The sounds of meal-making were growing louder as he neared the landing. There was some kind of music playing too, it almost made Chuck sick. He looked around the corner of the landing down the last flight of steps. There was the short hallway that led to the front door. He couldn’t get to the back one because he would’ve had to go through the kitchen. The gray carpet on the floor concealed the squeaking of the stair treads as he crept down to the floor. The hallway was lined with family pictures of varying size and locations. Some were from vacations in the mountains of Colorado, others were of babies that Chuck didn’t recognize. Chuck peeked around the corner of the kitchen doorway and quickly drew back his head. His mom was facing the doorway mixing something in a bowl while moving around the kitchen. She always looked weird dancing to that gross girly music. The best course of action he decided would be to just run flat out and hope nobody saw anything. He put his right foot behind him and knelt down, in the racer’s stance. Looking ahead he could see his goal - the front door to that heavenly world of a spring day, the rain lightly drizzling through a thick fog. He raised up on his right leg and pushed off. The black cape billowed behind him as he raced for the door. Reaching it, he realized that he could not simply burst through it and be safe. He would have to do it with ninja-like stealth. First he paused to listen for any sounds of pursuit. The sounds of his mom still came from the kitchen and his senses hadn’t alerted him to any presence of pink yet so he determined he was in the clear. Stretching his arm up Chuck grabbed the knob on the door and twisted it. The door unlatched and swung inward. Slowly he opened it further, and he could see the light mist coming down. Chuck stepped outside and closed the door quietly, then jumped down the front steps to the path that ran left around to the back of the house. The back yard was fairly large, bordered by trees and ran about thirty feet from the back of the house. The garden was in the corner closest to the house on Chuck’s left. A tree house was built in a large oak in the opposite corner of the yard. He and Jamie used to play in the tree house together all the time, but recently Jamie had lost interest in it and stayed in her room most of the time, doing activities Chuck had no interest in. The ladder to the tree house followed the trunk up to a split and then was made into a sort of stairs to the tree house. It was a large structure, spanning the width of the two branches of the trunk. It was built so it had two entrances, one up either branch of the trunk. It stood about fifteen feet off the ground and had everything a boy could desire in a tree house. A sturdy roof kept the rain and snow out in order to protect the furniture. Only two rooms were in it, one with a table, two chairs in it. The other room had just two stools in it, with a telescope out one of the windows and a balcony out one side of the room. One window on each wall adorned the rooms, except for the walls separating the rooms. The balcony had a railing all around except for where the zip line ran into the forest for a quick escape. Other kids all over town used to come to Chuck’s house just to see his tree house. All left envious and begged their dad for the use of his carpentry skills. Chuck reached the first rung and pulled himself up, being careful because the mist was making everything slippery. He reached the split in the trunk and took a right. He walked up the steps and pushed up on the trap door. Closing the door behind him he went to the table and sat down in a chair. Pulling a piece of paper from the stack that was on the table he scribbled a rough plan of the house. Then he drew wavering lines from several doors right to the cookie jar on the kitchen island. One major problem remained, the island counter is where his mom did most of the cooking. He would have to make sure she wasn’t in the room when he went for it. Chuck folded up the map and decided he was going to go down to the house to watch his mom’s movements to get a bearing on which plan would work best. He walked into the other room and looked through the telescope at the back yard. The area looked clear so he walked over and opened the door to the balcony. Shaking his head he pulled on the line to bring the zip line back up to the tree house. Some people had no courtesy to bring the zip line back up after using it. His first goal was to get back to his room, he needed some things that were in there for his plan. Finally the zip line came up. Chuck grabbed hold of it tightly and stepped off the balcony. The trees flew past him in blurs of green and grey, his cape was whipping in the air behind him. Chuck let go of the line before he reached the end so he didn’t smack into the tree. After getting to his feet he began to make his way back to the house using the worn path. As he neared the back yard Chuck slowed down, keeping his eyes open for anything that might give him away. The house was a short jog away, but he waited and watched the windows to determine if anyone was looking out of them. Wisps of mist floated in front of the house, laying even more water on the already slippery grass. Chuck cautiously started forward. He crouched as he ran trying to keep the garden between him and the house. After the garden there was no cover, but he didn’t want to get wet running through the woods so he just ran as fast as he could to the house. Nobody yelled at him or came out after him. He crept around the side of the house and tried looking into the kitchen window. He was too short and ended up having to jump to get a view of his mother making dinner. She was pouring the contents of the bowl into a pan. Chuck continued around to the front of the house and went back in the front door. He retraced his steps to the kitchen door; his mom was putting the pan in the oven. Chuck ran past and up the stairs as quietly as he could. As he ran by Jamie’s room he stuck out his tongue. When he made it to his room he stepped around the cardboard box with The Tranzgreser written on the side. He pulled off the cape and bandanna, throwing them on the floor. Picking up the cowboy boots that were in the corner, Chuck slipped his feet into them. He then put the brown leather vest over his flannel shirt. Chuck then grabbed the cowboy hat and holster belt and put them on. He whipped out his suction dart gun and shot it at the wall. The dart stuck for a couple seconds then slipped off to the floor. He smiled and picked up the dart. He mashed it back into the front of the gun. Perfect. Now for that cookie. This time when Chuck left his room he stepped out not into a hallway, but rather a country lane with cattle pasture on either side of it. The various sounds of cows came to him from over the low hills on either side. Just up ahead was a turn in the road. He sauntered down the road, all the while his hand resting on his Colt .45. The yellow sun filtered through the leaves of a big tree that was at the corner, forming rays of light as it spread through the dust from the road. The breeze blew the leaves around, scattering the beams of light and making the tall grass in the pastures wave. Chuck picked a stalk of grass from the side of the road as he rounded the corner and stuck the end of it in his mouth. Ahead there was a sudden drop in the road - for no apparent reason either. It went down and was flat again. Chuck moseyed on down this incline and came to the bottom. To his right there was a break in the fence to the pasture. There were no sounds of cows in the field, but it smelled like some lone ranger was cooking a meal for himself. I reckon I oughta get in there and nab me a cookie. He looked around the break in the fence. The other cowboy was nowhere to be seen. Chuck crept forward and pulled out his dart gun. The only sound was the mournful tones of the cows behind him. He came up to a big boulder sitting in the field. There was a fire burning on its flat top. The kettle over the fire was steaming and Chuck could smell the other cowboy’s food. He saw a pile of rocks next to the boulder and began climbing up, gun in hand. Halfway up he accidentally squeezed the trigger. “Whoops.” He cringed. “Chuck. What are you doing?” In his excitement he hadn’t heard the noise of the cows coming closer. They were behind him now! “Quiet, Jamie! I’m on an important mission.” “Mission? You look like an idiot.” Jamie put her hands on her hips. “At least I don’t sound like a cow.” Chuck spoke quietly so he wasn’t heard over the gross music coming from the nearby room. “What did you say?” “Nothing. Just go away, will you?” Chuck finally reached the top of the stool next to the island counter. The dart he had shot fell off the ceiling and hit the countertop. Reaching down to his belt he pulled out another one and stuck it in the gun. “What will you do if I don’t?” Chuck aimed the dart gun at her. “I’ll shoot you, noisy cow!” “Noisy cow! MOM!” Chuck saw his plan falling apart and quickly turned around. The stool tottered as he moved. He steadied himself and reached over and opened the jar. “What now, Jamie?” The girly music had stopped playing. Her voice came from the small room next to the kitchen where the computer was. “Chuck called me a cow.” “Chuck! What did I tell you about calling your sister names?” Chuck glanced over his shoulder. Jamie had her arms folded, tongue sticking out. He just smirked at her as his hand grasped one of the cookies from in the jar. He had it! Now to enact the emergency escape plan! “That I’m not supposed to do it?” “Right…so what do you say?” Chuck leapt off the stool and landed on the tile floor with cookie in hand. “Sorry, Jamie.” He ran past her and down the hallway towards the door. “Mom! Chuck is having a cookie! Can I have one too?” “Charles! I told you no cookies before dinner!” But her scolding was no use. Chuck was already outside and on his way around the house to his fortress. When he reached the trunk he could hear Jamie behind him, just leaving the back door of the house. This time he took a left and entered the tree house through the other way. When inside, he locked the hatches. Soon afterward Jamie was pounding on them to try and get in. “Chuck! Mom says you’re in big trouble!” Chuck glanced at the clock. He had just closed the hatches to his spaceship - The Transgressor - and was preparing to leave Drodlax. He had managed to sell the narcotic cookies, but the police were hot on his tail. He had about five minutes before he could fly. Just enough time to eat his tasty morsel. He wasn’t afraid of the law. He didn’t care whether or not he was arrested and held in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. He had his cookie.