In the land of Popcorn, kernels are like people. The big ones go to work, and the little ones go to school. It's a lot like our world, except when they get really excited, they pop. And then the clowns come and eat them up.
Okay, so it's not really like our world, but it's close enough. Our story is about a little kernel named Billy McFlapper who was always trying to get his friends to pop. He made joke after joke at home and at school, and he always got someone to pop. One time it was his little sister (he felt kind of bad about that... but not too bad), and another time it was his third grade teacher. The principal was so mad about that one that she popped too. After that, Billy had to homeschool.
One day, Billy's mom gave him a book of mythological stories. He opened the book and read about Pan. Not the Pan of our world, mind you, the half goat satyr who goes around playing a pipe. No, Billy read about Pan, the evil god of the underworld who could make kernels pop not with laughter but with frying oil. Ooo! He shivered and closed the book.
Billy missed school. He missed running around with the boys, causing problems, making the gym teacher pop (there always seemed to be another gym teacher, though). He looked out the window and sighed. Homeschool was boring.
Down below, he saw a clown walking by. The clown had lots of balloons of different shapes and sizes. Billy yelled to his mom if he could go down and pick one out, and she said yes. So Billy grabbed some change and ran outside.
"Mr. Clown, Mr. Clown!" he said. The clown stopped and turned around.
"Ah, yes. A little girl." He smiled.
"I am not a girl," Billy insisted. "I'm a boy kernel."
"Ah, yes. A little boy," the clown said. "My mistake. Might I interest you in a balloon?"
Billy looked at the balloons. "How much for that one?" he asked, pointing at one shaped like a jewel.
"Ah, yes. The jewel. It's free of charge if you can do something for me."
"Like what?" Billy asked, skeptical.
"Ah, yes, well, it has to do with a little trip to visit Pan."
Billy stopped and stared at the clown. "Pan? As in, god of the frying oil? That's all fake stuff from a long time ago. I just read about it."
"Ah, yes. Very well. Have it your way. You can buy any of the other balloons for a dollar, but the jewel is unavailable."
Billy started to walk away, but the clown had him thinking. Was Pan real after all?