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Now, it just so happens that Aryc was finishing his lunch at that exact moment. So, when he saw Michaela getting up from her table, he hurriedly got up from his table, and (as the teenagers say, now-adays) "beat feet out of there!"

Unfortunately, for him, he forgot his General Science 101 textbook, in the process.

"Hey, Mister! Wait!" Michaela exclaimed: "You forgot..."

But, it was too late to stop him from leaving. He had already made it through the front door and was already half-way across the parking lot. As luck would have it, though, he was not making for any of the parked cars. He was heading for the steel-and-glass enclosed bus stop on the nearby corner!

"Come on, girls. Let's catch up to him."

The brunette triplets needed no further urging. They were right behind Michaela as she half-jogged/half-ran to the bus stop with WARRINER'S GUIDE TO SCIENCE tucked under her left arm. As a result, Aryc's eyes grew wide with shock and fear when he suddenly found himself femininely surrounded on the green-painted wooden bench. Scarf-wearing Courtney to his immediate right...and mini-dressed Michaela to his immediate left.

"Whew!" exhaled the latter: "You sure can move for a little guy."

Aryc (who was only five feet/one inch tall) nervously chuckled and shrugged.

"Th-Thank you," he finally managed to stammer: "Miss...?"

"Michaela. These are my friends; Alice, Betty, and Courtney. We're on our way home for Christmas from Bowling Ball State."

Aryc shook his head: "I beg your pardon. Did you just say...?"

She laughed and pointed to Alice's jersey which bore the letters "BBSU" in white.

"It's a jointly-owned annex of Ball State and Bowling Green Universities, in the Union Cities area. But, the four of us hale from Bethlehem Township, in Clark County, Indiana, much further south."

Aryc (only slightly less nervous) nodded and introduced himself. Identifying himself as a science teacher at George Rogers Clark Preparatory School.

"Are you going home for Christmas, too?" asked Michaela.

"Unfortunately, no. I have to stay on campus during the Holidays. To get the science mid-terms ready!"

"Won't your family miss you?" Courtney now asked.

Aryc shook his head: "I'm a bachelor and an only child. So, I have no social commitments, this time of year."

"Awwwwww!" cooed Michaela: "You poor thing! I wish I you could take you home with me. You're mighty cute. In fact, you're a cute little mite!"

The triplets giggled as Michaela then bent forward and kissed the top of Aryc's head!!

Naturally, Aryc became flustered all over again.

"W-W-W-What was that for?"

Michaela grinned and pointed to the artificial sprig.

"Mistletoe. Now, you have to kiss me back! It's supposed to be bad luck if you don't."

Aryc half-smiled: "I've never been a superstitious man. Like that wish you just made? Well, it was very kind of you to express it, the way you did. But, you know the old saying about wishes and flying pigs."

It was at this instant that the sound of jingling bells was heard within the bus stop kiosk. And, the odd quintet looked around themselves in complete bewilderment. They would have been even more bewildered if they had seen what all the nearby Christmas shoppers had witnessed. Namely, a UFO resembling a miniature red sleigh...drawn by eight winged Poland Chinas!

The next thing Michaela and the triplets knew is that, when they turned back to resume their conversation with Aryc, he was gone!! That is, they thought he was gone. Until they suddenly heard a high-pitched voice seeming to come from just below their collective eye level. And, they gasped as one when what to their wondering eyes should appear, but a forty-something science teacher...only two inches tall.

Chapter End Notes:
Union City (IND.) and Union City (OH.) are neighboring urban complexes whose names are derived from their having been founded at the intersection of five railroad lines along the present-day Ohio/Indiana boundary.

Poland Chinas are the oldest breed of domestic hog in the United States.

George Rogers Clark (1752-1818) was a Revolutionary War hero, famous for his successful taking of the British forts at Vincennes and Kaskaskia (in what was then called the Northwest Territory). As well as being the older brother of William Clark (Meriwether Lewis' partner in the famous expedition of the same name).
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