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This is a collaboration with Michael Alexander and his mom, fellow Prompt writer, Natasha Gural.

“Haha, great plan!” Metis mischievously whispered to her fellow Geniuses at the SoHo Apple Store. “And then we can make Siri lie about the nearest mall. Zullo always asks Siri about things. Hehehehe.”

Okay, let’s go over some backstory.

Apple had engineered an elaborate plot against Zullo W. Quartius. The Geniuses were mad at him for letting his wife use a Samsung phone, tablet, and computer. A triad of technical travesty. It seemed Androids were everywhere, all of a sudden. But knowing that a fellow Genius allowed his family to use the rival platform was almost treasonous, and it could not stand. It required a response in the strongest possible terms: death. So Metis planned to make Siri lie about the nearest mall so Zullo dies—no matter what.

The Geniuses quickly devised a plan to obtain an unknown phone number and text Zullo, instructing him: “GO TO THE NEAREST MALL OR DIE!!!”

“Gotta go!” Zullo said to his wife, who goes by Mrs. Quartius to ensure she gets all his inheritance. “I will die if I don’t make it to the nearest mall.”

Mrs. Quartius, shopping online for a Hermes Shiny Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 25 Rose Scheherazade, didn’t look away from her devices. “Bye-bye,” she muttered.

Zullo sprinted to the subway, lunging and pulling apart the closing doors, only to be greeted by the snide side eye and muttered curses of commuters who had been stuck at the platform for 22 minutes due to a sick passenger. He shrugged his shoulders and mouthed “sorry,” raising the collective ire of the passengers who lacked any capacity for empathy after being trapped for a New York City eternity.

After 45 minutes he arrived at the mall.

He was confused that the “nearest mall” was 45 minutes away. His eyes closed the whole way to avoid contact with a woman in droopy sweatpants and Uggs, blowing bubbles, snapping the goopy pink slop, and slurping the wad back into her half-open chomper. He was relieved when he heard the conductor announce, “Broadway/Houston” just as his Siri confirmed, “You’ve arrived at your destination.”

He let out a sigh of relief, knowing he was heading to the SoHo Apple store rather than a strip mall in Midtown or Fulton Mall in downtown Brooklyn. The toxic, artery-clogging stench of Auntie Anne’s made him violently ill, as he preferred the aroma of Euros seeping from the deep pockets of well-heeled Italian tourists.

He entered the Apple mecca greeted by Metis, but he didn’t know who she was.

“Ready, ready, go, go, go!” she chirped. That was their signal to execute the plan of his demise.

A kinder looking young man stepped forward, forcing a grin. “Please step here in this metal detector so we know you have no weapons or anything.” Rattled, Zullo didn’t stop to think why there was suddenly a metal detector at a store where tourists flash their Bitcoin too quickly to leave anything for thieves.

It was a trap!

When he followed the young man to the footprint cutouts instructing where to stand, an elevator emerged, trapping him and transporting him to the dungeon.

Of course there was a dragon waiting down there for him.

It puffed fire as hard as it could. And everybody thought he died from it. But really he was pretending to eke out his last breath so that nothing else bad would happen to him.

However, he did contract pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanocon (which the OED alleges is a factitious disease regarding the lungs, allergy brought on by inhaling microscopic silica particles from the eruption of a volcano). Apparently, you can get it from a dragon’s breath as well as a volcano. He surely wasn’t at risk while vigorously inhaling the very fine silica dust while pretending to scale Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on our planet.

Zullo managed to slyly text his wife, his hands pinned behind what appeared to be his listless body.

He kept his iPhone unlocked for times like these. He’d learned to text quickly with his hands in reverse prayer pose during an extreme yoga class at a corporate retreat.

Even though she had much to gain if he died, she had planned to meet with their financial advisor and double his life insurance policy, so this was not the time to let him go. Mrs. Quartius called Dr. Franginpanna Superflouski, the best private surgeon in New York, specializing in rare and imaginary disease.

Zullo was in too much pain to speak for himself when Dr. Superflouski arrived by chopper, landing on the roof like a rapper ahead of the latest iPhone drop. The staff at Apple looked away, pretending nothing happened. But Dr. Superflouski knew, without a doubt, that Zullo was suffering from pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanocon.

Dr. Superflouski hailed her helicopter and airlifted Zullo to her clandestine clinic in the Meatpacking District.

She got to work on the surgery. From scientific experiments, she realized that he had only a 1.43 percent chance of surviving. However, she had a masterful plan that would most likely cure him.

Performing the procedure on a live human specimen for the first time, Dr. Superflouski quickly found a flaw in her technique. She slightly miscalculated a step. But she fixed it. Things were looking up for Zullo.

Then, just as Zullo was about to return to his normal self, Dr. Garry Jukiped—the evil CEO of the company that Dr. Superflouski worked for—busted in. “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING HELPING A PATIENT?!?!!” he bellowed. “You’re so fired! Now get outta here and never dare to come back!”

However, Dr. Superfluouski had been working on two science experiments to make her invisible and to make her faster than the speed of light.

She just perfected the potions and dropped them in her satchel on her way out to protect them from thieves who frequently broke into her laboratory, and, of course, her diabolical boss, Dr. Jukiped. She drank them both simultaneously.

Feeling a surge of supernatural energy, Dr. Superfluouski went in the room with Zullo, tossed him over her shoulder, and ran out. When they got in the helicopter she reversed the potions and explained what she did to Zullo.

When Zullo arrived home with Dr. Superfluouski, Mrs. Quartius was making dinner. Well, she was ordering from the Caviar app. For the first time, Mrs. Quartius felt a pang of relief. Maybe he was worth more to her alive. The couple invited Dr. Superflouski to stay for a martini, but she rushed back to her lab to replicate the potion.

An mRNA-based cure for pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanocon could sell better than an iPhone Z.

-The End-

Michael Alexander Gural-Maiello

When he's not training to best Michael Phelps' records, Michael Alexander is writing, coding, editing YouTube videos, painting, playing electric guitar, singing David Bowie songs, dancing, performing standup comedy, competing in chess, hiking, or playing with his goddess dog (and canine sister) Athena. A native New Yorker who moved to Portland, Maine on May 1, Michael is a fifth-grader with deep ties to the art world. He enjoys visiting galleries and museums, discussing all genres, especially contemporary art, with artists, gallery owners, and curators.

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