“Just try it,” Mom said.
Dad held a raw oyster out to Ricky. It looked like a large loogie on a half shell.
The boy took the oyster. He closed his eyes, pinched his nose, and slurped.
The cold blob sat on his tongue. Some oyster juice dribbled down his chin. He grimaced. He shuddered. He gulped.
The oyster inched down Ricky’s throat, like a slug on a slime trail. Ricky had seen movies about alien body snatchers. He knew what was up. The oyster attached itself inside his stomach and began absorbing him.
Ricky couldn’t breathe. His skin felt itchy and dry. He dove into the lobster tank.
The restaurant manager called some scientists. They took Ricky, tank and all, to their laboratory.
They poked and prodded and pulled and pinched every inch of him.
The oyster absorbed more of the boy. Webs grew between his fingers and toes. “We’ll be famous,” the scientists crowed. They high-fived each other and left the lab to celebrate.
Two carnies snuck in and snatched the tank. Ricky yelled for help. Only a string of bubbles escaped his mouth.
At the carnival, the men carried the tank into the Amazing Oddities tent. Inside, Electro Lady, Wolf Man, and Human Pretzel performed for the crowd.
The barker outside yelled, “Step right up! See the Incredible Oyster Boy!”
Ricky was more oyster than boy by then; an indistinct glob with a kid’s face. People approached the tank and peered in. They pointed and laughed.
Mrs. Greederly, the rich jeweler, gave the carnival owner some money. The carnies loaded the tank into her truck. She drove up a steep, rocky hill and parked in front of her mansion.
A hard, thick shell had grown around the oyster. Ricky was just a bit of grit inside the creature. It coated the boy with sticky gloop.
The oyster was forming a pearl. The biggest pearl in history – with Ricky at its core.
Ricky knew he only had one hope of getting out of this mess. When Mrs. Greederly pried open the oyster to retrieve the pearl, Ricky rocked and the enormous pearl rolled out of the oyster and crashed through the front of the tank.
“My precious pearl!” Mrs. Greederly screamed.
The phosphorescent sphere rolled to the end of the driveway and teetered on the edge. Mrs. Greederly dashed over to roll it back. Just as she reached it, Ricky rocked hard and started down the hill. The pearl bounced and skidded, flattening flowers and crushing shrubs.
When it reached the bottom, it barreled down the carnival midway. Strongmen and fortune tellers, snake charmers and stilt walkers scattered. The pearl ripped through the Amazing Oddities tent, snapping the main pole.
The tent fluttered to the ground. Electro Lady, Wolf Man and Human Pretzel howled, tangled in the canvas.
The pearl whizzed away, shimmering in the moonlight.
Everyone working in the laboratory heard a whooshing sound moments before the pearl plowed into them. Scientists flew every which way, like human bowling pins.
After emerging from the rear window of the lab, the pearl struck a sapling. The tiny tree bent under the weight of the giant gem, then snapped back.
BOINGGGG!! The sapling hurled the pearl sky high.
It sailed back over the laboratory and headed for the seafood restaurant.
The pearl hit the crab shaped sign on the roof and shattered into a billion glistening bits.
Ricky tumbled off the roof onto the patio. He somersaulted twice in midair and landed with a thump in his chair.
He opened his eyes. Mom and Dad were looking at him hopefully.
“Well?” Mom chirped.
“How did you like the oyster?” Dad asked.
Ricky only had one word for them.