Tuesday 24 May 2011

The Saga Of The Man Eating Worm

Ken and I were dumbfounded by our good luck! Not only didn’t we fail outright, but we had a second chance and got off school early. This calls for a celebration! We walked back to Ken’s and discussed what we should do our project on. There was no way that we could do any research and get the project made and written by tomorrow. Well, if we can’t get the research done then we will have to make everything up.

It was really the only thing that made any sense at all. Ok, it didn’t make a lot of sense but it would be easy and if we were going to flunk then we should do it on our own terms. So, we got ourselves some paper and pens, a pack or two of cigarettes and a liberal amount of non alcoholic intoxicants. We had all of the fuel that we needed and certainly had the imagination. We began…

We had been given a directive from the prestigious Crawchuk Institute for Scientific Advancement to make scientific history. The choice was ours as to the direction that we would take in this endeavour, but we had a very limited amount of time in which to do it.

We had decided that it would have to be a historic discovery which would shock not only the science community, but the world at large. Funding was low to non-existent, so we had to rely on favours and goodwill that we had built up over time. My colleague, Mr. Ken Robison had fortunately been working on a project which would have significant impact and capture the imagination not only of the Institute, but the world at large.

We will find and return with non other than the legendary, mythical Man Eating Worm (M.E.W.) of Africa! It has been believed to be extinct these many years, if it ever existed at all, lumped in with other mythical beasts like Sasquatch, the Loc Ness Monster and honest politicians. My friend and I took a vow to return with the beast or not at all!

There was little time so we contacted our friends at the NFL and we were loaned six defensive linemen from the Green Bay Packers franchise to give us the power needed to subdue the M.E.W.. Luckily we had most of the equipment that we would need on hand and wired ahead for the remainder. The government gave us the use of a military aircraft for as long as we needed it, because of a past service that we had rendered which need not be recorded here.

Our quest seemed to be blessed from the beginning as there was a tailwind which helped us arrive at our destination in deepest, darkest Africa in record time. We drove in a convoy of trucks to the base of an escarpment where we met thirty native porters that would carry our equipment to the top and beyond. No white man and very few natives had ever penetrated this far into the “Manetscarame” region, which loosely translated means Land of Terror!

There are two ways to lure the M.E.W. out into the open; the first is with food and the second with one that is pure at heart. Luckily for us I would fit both requirements. Only a fool wouldn’t be frightened and I was of course terrified. Not for my partner or me, we had faced fear many times before but for those innocents that we brought with us. We were not sure whether the M.E.W. would attack from the side, above or below so we planned for all with reinforced steel cages and bars of the same material driven into the ground to herd the M.E.W. into our trap.

Were we lucky? I like to think that fate played a part, because the M.E.W. with lightning like speed came right up to me when my back was turned and seemed to pause for a moment. This pause gave our Green Bay Packers and Ken the opportunity to throw a steel mesh net over the M.E.W. and wrestle it into submission. The only other dicey part of the capture was defanging and purging the venom sac along with the transfer to a titanium reinforced matchbox. Job well done!

Exhausted and on the verge of physical and emotional collapse we retraced our trip from the escarpment and said goodbye to the many people that aided us in our quest, promising to return the favour if it were ever needed.

Now, although the M.E.W. looks like any other earthworm it definitely is not! Even defanged it can cause some serious damage so we caution all to keep their distance.
Look but DO NOT TOUCH!

There was only one thing missing from our project and fate intervened overnight with rain. In southern Ontario when it rains just like everywhere else worms come out to see just what the ruckus is about and end up taking unwanted swimming lessons in the puddles. We needed a big fat juicy earthworm, which we captured and made it comfortable with a little soil in a matchbox.

It seemed to us that the whole school was holding their collective breaths about our project. In reality I don’t think anyone cared except for us and one or two people that were hoping that someone would do worse in science than they did. We have a following!

Class came and we filed in with everyone else, taking our seats and trying to look angelic. It didn’t work. Mr. Crawchuk asked us first thing if we had done a new project and when we told him that we had he held out his hand and smiled what seemed to me to be a demonic grin. He even did the “come hither” gesture with his fingers. Ken took our essay and the matchbox up, gave it to Mr. Crawchuk and walked back to his seat.

Mr. Crawchuk’s eyebrows shot up and an even bigger smile crept over his face and he said “Give me a minute class.” He began to read. I don’t think his lips moved, it is just that time was for some reason moving very slowly. You know, what seemed like a great idea yesterday didn’t seem to be so great this morning. He turned the last page and looked up with a huge grin on his face, saying “Class I just have to share this with you.”

He read our report standing at the front of the class in his lab coat laughing and chuckling along with the hoots and guffaws of the class. I knew it was different, but for some strange reason I was getting pissed off. Ken and I looked at each other and did that shrug that says “We are dead, but what the Hell?”

The reading finished and I swear Mr. Crawchuk had tears in his eyes. He said that it was the most entertaining report he had ever read and it was worth 20% to him. That gave us 40% which is almost a pass! YES! He said he wanted to keep it for a few days but to get the worm out of his sight.

During the day other teachers gave us the high fives and my English teacher said that he would have given it a C+. I guess the staff room were having fun with the man eating worm story.

Well, it isn’t every day that you can earn 20% of you final grade with your imagination. The story isn’t really over, because the worm goes on to unite a class of more or less strangers in a struggle against tyranny, propel a man towards politics and ends a teachers career. But that is for another time.

I had mentioned earlier that there was nothing that the school authorities could do to me, that wasn't entirely true. It seems that if they think it is of benefit to the student they can make him or her repeat the year. Oh well, I had a good time in grade ten once, it should be easy peasy the next time...

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