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drivers education in the thick of things

Chapter Text

There’s cars on the moon.

There’s no cars on the moon, you think, that’s absurd, right? Wrong. Then you think Oh, god, this is going to be one of those intentionally bad joke pieces, isn't it? Probably, if “intentionally bad” means “soaked in the blood sweat and tears of four high school sophomores”.

And so; the moon is covered with aliens and cars because they love their floaty spaceships but sometimes you just gotta build a gosh dang mustang out of space junk in like a satisfyingly grungy, callback-to-the-50’s style grease monkey montage. Anti-lock braking system. That’s a phrase they know because they’re super cool mechanic aliens and can understand car language. Also English.

Before you gauge the (stated) absurdity of this whole situation, consider this; on top of cars, there is now The Magic School Bus on the moon. Bet you weren’t expecting that. Boom goes the dynamite.

 

^ There’s the dynamite and also a visual representation of your mind, because it’s just so blown right now.

Boom.

 

“There’s never enough booms. Baby Boom.” - Zendaya Coleman, 2019

“You know that was an actual event in history?” -Moe Doodlebob, 2019

“I know, that’s where I got it from.” -Zendaya Coleman, 2019

But there are cars and aliens and definitely, absolutely The Magic School Bus on the moon. Earth’s moon, specifically. Did you know Jupiter has sixty three moons? We’re not talking one of thoses. You’re welcome for the clarification.

Also, The Magic School Bus is not on the moon yet but it will be. I exaggerated for the continuation of this semi-functional narrative. The bus is really en route. Here we go.

“Bring thine MacBeth!” Says Mrs. Frizzle, quoting the legendary poet Namedrop Namedrop.

“Mrs. Frizzle!” Says Kesha, “We don’t know what that means. We’re Fourth Graders!” And then she fluffs up her adorable space buns because she is a responsible little girl who keeps her buns in order. Mrs. Frizzle laughs like a Shakespearean actor debuting at the Globe and slams her neon high heel into the gas pedal, AKA the accelerator, to accelerate. The speedometer- which is a word very easy to mix up with “odometer”- shoots up to sixty three MPH, twenty over the speed limit. (There are speed limits in space as well).

“Any number above ten you can put the numbers,” Grumbles Wanda,“You don’t have to type out the words 63 and 20.”

Mrs Frizzle responds with “Do you like carrot cake with pumpkin spice or cinnamon?

“I hate pumpkin spice. Ruins the cake,” Carlos pipes up from the back of the bus because he is a little troublemaker, hahah. Wanda refuses to answer, as she has been spurned and is nursing her wounds. The Frizz nods sagely.

After that, the kids sit quietly in neat little rows, just like a box of mini doughnuts from Schnucks, and think about Oil Marks. What are Oil Marks? When was the oil last changed on this bus? Where are we going? How are we breathing in space? Really, they’re thinking all that. I promise.

Mrs. Frizzle, being a world-class telepath, could back me up on this but is too preoccupied with her increasing concerns about her student’s troubled little minds.

(“LITTLE” COUNT: 4)

They need a distraction; too many fourth wall breaks and mechanical inquiries can stunt your growth. It's like coffee and malnutrition that way.

She slaps the cruise control button on the instrument panel and stands up and spins around, her alien-patterned skirtflaring majestically around her in a halo of cheap polyester because she’s grabbed it and is flapping her hands really hard. All the children gasp in awe, or maybe fear as the the bus lurched violently once freed from The Frizz’s control, but we don’t know, do we? Not all of us are telepaths who look fantastic in billowing novelty skirts.

 

She announces “Crap, I forgot what I was going to say,” and sits herself down in the first row. The Bus honks victoriously and makes a beeline for the moon with the vicious fervor of a recently liberated small country. Which it is, legally; The Bus gained independence from the United States in 1988, as to continue disregarding USA child endangerment laws without fear of recourse. The Magic School Bus (TMSB) is recognized as a nation-state by ¾ of world powers (looking at you, Britain, you dirty little ¼ you).

VISUAL REPRESENTATION OF FOLLOWING EVENTS: “i guess the cruise didn't work:

 

Everyone has whiplash. EVERYONE. You have whiplash. Buses don’t have head restraints! Heads are restrained so little that reading this has infected you with the injury by proxy! IT’S AIRBORNE! Airbags smack Ms. Frizzle in the face, but when you are able to fly to the moon little things like airbags don’t affect you.

When the dust settles, Phoebe groans and crawls out from under a hunk of moon cheese. “I think of cows,” She mutters. All the other children gripe and fuss in agreement.

Mrs. Frizzle giggles joyously from a nearby swiss tunnel. Like, the holes in swiss cheese but big enough to be a tunnel, because moon rules, baby, we got cheese tunnels.

“If I was your boyfriend, I’d eat all your peanuts,” Mrs. Frizzle says, and then immediately becomes very responsible and adult-like because this is getting way too “RaNdOm XD”.

In a quick, Poppinsesque procedure she extracts every one of her young charges¹ from the moon cheese rubble and sets them up again in little donut rows. They do that thing elementary school kids do where they all say thank you at once and it’s adorably harmonic. Y'know, like, THAAAANK-YOOOOOOU. Real high pitched.

¹All except Arnold, who has vanished into the moon cheese like a ground squirrel burrowing into the red earth’s widening, drought-parched cracks. The savanna yawns, infinite plains in a time before miles. It feels a lifetime since the rain has come. The grasses are dying. The pups are starving. We, Mankind, ourselves, we were once at the mercy of the clouds, brimming over, darkened and heavy with the biting promise of a summer shower. When did we become separate? Sheltered? Isolated? When did the whims of the sky become an inconvenience, a foundation for the raincoat/umbrella joint stocks? Monsoon season will come, and the prairie dogs will feast; until then they dig deeper into the ancient clay, seeking damp, dark comfort.

Arnold needs to get out of there the little rascal he can’t avoid this field trip forever.

(“LITTLE” COUNT: 11)

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 2: THE SQUEAKQUEL

Ralphie has wandered back onto the Bus after and is cranking the steering wheel and pulling the lever like a man on fire. Thankfully, he is constrained to miming his actions of extreme driving as he is not wearing appropriate footwear to stomp on the gas and/or brake pedal. In fact, he is not wearing footwear at all, only a pair of purple-striped toe socks.

“Man, toe socks are awesome,” he says, and toots the horn and turns on the high beam headlights.

Mrs. Frizzle frowns. “Your toes are like this,” she says, and splays her fingers out for all to see.

Ralphie is very upset by the implicated derision towards his muppet-like foot cozies. “No they're not!”

“Yes they are!”

“Well, your toes are stuck together!”

Mrs. Frizzle snorts. “So?”

“That doesn't bother you?”

“No.”

“At all?”

“No. But jelly bothers me.”

“What?” asks Ralphie, understandably confused.

Mrs. Frizzle goes on, “Like, who came up with that? Who started naming stuff jelly?”

“The- the word. The word jelly.” says Ralphie.

“Just bothers me.”

That in itself sure bothered Ralphie, but he decided to let it drop harder than the cabin pressure in a tanking airplane.

 

Then the aliens show up. They round the hill of hole-spotted cheese, their heads emerging from the horizon line like a herd of melons. The rest of their bodies follow, seeming to stretch into the sky; they must have been seven, eight feet tall, limbs long and dangling. All the the children slowly still in their play and watch the approach with wide eyes.

Mrs. Frizzle dropped her jam jar in shock.

Ralphie looks the aliens with amazement and proclaims “ this is so amazing, l need to express my feeling through slam poetry!!”

“l feel like a brake light
stopping all behind me, like a
shift indicator with no
indicator lights; no direction, no
method to the madness only
toe socks and a battery of sadness,
Gotta adjust the circulations of
attitude and bother,
never gonna say hey look there's aliens here
mother,” he said, going for a Tetra Rizma but failing miserably. More Sikenesque.

(“-ESQUE” COUNT: 2)

The small band of aliens came to a stop a cautious distance from the crashed and still-smoking bus, which was good, as the bus was twitching occasionally and knocking down cheese hills because when you've crashed every direction is a blind spot area.

“Looks like you're having some bus trouble,” says the lead alien, it's voice startlingly similar to a midwestern American accent. Mrs. Frizzle blinks.

“Uh,” she says.

“Yes, we so are!” Carlos pipes up from the back of the child line because he is a little troublemaker haha. Dorothy smacks him gently yet breratingly on the back of the head for displaying weakness.

(“LITTLE” COUNT: 12)

The alien smiles, but considering its mouth is sideways on its face the effect is more uncanny valley than friendly.

“We should be able to help with that,” it says, and takes like three steps to get The Bus because its legs are freaky long.

“Easy, girl,” it whispers and places on long-fingered hand on the Buses’ overheated flank. It calms instantly at the alien's touch and knickers peacefully. The kids burst into applause.

“Okay,” says the alien, popping open the hood, “Looks like your battery is in about five pieces, to start.”

Mrs. Frizzle nods like she knows anything about automobiles and says “I just thought it was drained.”

The alien gives her kinda a weird look but doesn't comment.

“Should we release the coolant?” She says, doggedly keeping up the facade. “Push the clutch pedal?”

“Uh,” says the alien, a little weirded out because she moved very close and had her head shoved under the hood, “maybe you should go watch your students.”

Said students had been involved in a game of extreme NERF tag with the other extraterrestrials for the past 20min. Just having a grand ol’ time.

“Sweet!” says Mrs. Frizzle and gives the alien a parting fistbump before diving into the fray. The chill of it's poorly-circulated knuckles lingers even as she reached for a NERF bazooka. The alien readjusted the hood's position and got to work unbothered.

Then it fixes it and they go back home and the whole trip was kind of anticlimactic, really, but the children were valuably educated on the finer points of NERF tag.

(“LITTLE” COUNT: 13, probably.)