Archibald the Apple was in the middle of yet another dreadful day in his Sadness Box. He stood perfectly still. He did not like to stay perfectly still, but he had no choice.
Archibald felt sad and tiny. He didn't always feel sad and tiny. His life used to be wonderful.
Long ago, Archibald the Apple lived in a log cabin in a quiet little corner of Salad Town. Archibald loved to roll around in circles. It made him feel so big and happy!
Leopold the Lime was Archibald's best friend. Leopold didn't care for rolling around in circles, but Archibald didn't mind.
Leopold's favorite thing to do was to sit in silence. It made Leopold feel so big and happy! Every day, Leopold would sit in a dark room and relax.
Archibald the Apple didn't quite understand Leopold the Lime's favorite thing, but since it made Leopold feel big and happy, it made Archibald feel big and happy - almost as much as rolling around in circles!
Every day, Archibald the Apple would roll over to Leopold the Lime's house. Together, Archibald would quietly roll in circles around Leopold as Leopold relaxed. They loved each other very much, and love made them feel the biggest and happiest.
One day, a Bad Man came to visit Archibald and Leopold, along with the other citizens of Salad Town. The Bad Man took away all the good fruits and vegetables.
"My job is to make you feel sad and tiny," said the Bad Man. "The Sneaky Cruel People that I work for do not like to see you feel big and happy. You will feel sad and tiny forever!"
The Bad Man laughed, and put each of the fruits and vegetables in a Sadness Box. They all felt very sad and tiny, because every day, the Sneaky Cruel People wouldn't let them do the things that made them feel big and happy. Not even once!
Archibald the Apple couldn't visit Leopold the Lime anymore. The Bad Man wouldn't let him.
Every day, the Bad Man visited Archibald the Apple.
Archibald would ask him: "Please, may I roll around in circles?"
"No," said the Bad Man. "If you move even a little bit, a worm living inside you will eat you."
"Okay," said Archibald. Archibald did as he was told, for he was afraid of the worm. He felt very sad and tiny, but he was certain that being eaten by a worm would make him feel even sadder and tinier.
It was a sad and tiny life, and Archibald the Apple was afraid that it would go on forever.
But one day…
…the Bad Man didn't come visiting!
"I wonder if it's all right to move now," thought Archibald the Apple. "No, I mustn't. I don't want the worm to eat me."
From outside the box, Archibald could hear strange noises.
A voice from a speaker, saying something about a "Wide-Scale Containment Breach" and the letters "X" and "K." What could that have meant?
There was a ROAR! The Sneaky Cruel People screamed - EEEEK! The sound of terrible footsteps and massive jaws - CLOMP! CLOMP! CLOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP!
And Archibald the Apple's Sadness Box fell on the floor.
"Goodness gracious!" said Archibald. "I must stand up."
And as Archibald stood up, suddenly, he realized - "Wait a minute. Standing up is a form of moving!" Archibald didn't just feel sad and tiny - he also felt scared!
But where was the worm…?
Then, Archibald realized - There was no worm after all! The whole thing had been a mean, ugly lie told by the Bad Man, so that Archibald the Apple couldn't roll around and feel big and happy.
"Hip-hip-hooray!" said Archibald. "Just wait until I tell Leopold the Lime about this!"
And Archibald rolled and rolled within his Sadness Box. He felt big and happy for the first time in years. In fact, he didn't think he had ever felt so big and happy before in his life!
He grew bigger, and happier…
Before too long, Archibald the Apple realized he had grown so big and happy that his Sadness Box couldn't fit him anymore, and broke open!
He rolled so much! He rolled on the ground! He rolled on the ashes! He rolled over the Sneaky Creepy People, who were now all sleeping and covered in red sauce! He rolled right on the Bad Man's burned-up face!
He grew bigger…
After a few months of rolling, Archibald realized that everything around him had become quiet. "Where could Leopold be?" said Archibald. "He would love this silence."
What's more, he could see the Sun shining brighter than it had ever shined on Salad Town. There were stars in the sky. It was beautiful, and it made him feel bigger and happier than ever.
Suddenly, the ground beneath his feet began to crumble!
"Gee whiz!" said Archibald, as he looked down. "I've got no choice but to jump. One, two…"
And with a mighty leap, Archibald the Apple flew from the Planet Earth, which had broken apart under his weight, as well as the weight of his neighbors—
His neighbors! They were all there! Mario and Maria the Mushrooms hugged and hugged. Billy the Banana did headstands on the Moon. Freddy the Fennel played peek-a-boo with the shattered remains of Antarctica as a blanket.
Now that the Sneaky Cruel People were gone, the fruits and vegetables threw a big, happy party!
…Archibald noticed that not all of the fruits and vegetables felt big and happy.
Since there was no sound in the vacuum of space…
Terry the Turnip couldn't hear his friends call his name!
Melvin the Melon couldn't hear about how round he was!
Connie the Cantaloupe couldn't tell her jokes!
Petra the Pepper couldn't know if her friends were safe!
Erasmus Bombastus von Hoo-Boo the Silly Eggplant couldn't tell his friends that he loved them!
As for poor old Priscilla the Peach, she didn't seem too big and happy about falling into the Sun.
All of these poor fruits and vegetables felt very sad and tiny indeed.
Archibald looked at them, and began to feel just a little sadder and tinier - but then he remembered: "Maybe they'll feel bigger and happier if they see how big and happy their old pal Archibald has become?"
Archibald the Apple rolled around space as fast as he could. In this new environment, not only could he roll from side to side - he could roll in all directions! Up! Down! Loop-de-loops and barrel rolls!
He rolled across the rings of Saturn! He rolled around the stars themselves!
He grew bigger…
Archibald the Apple felt so big and happy, he had forgotten all about his sad and tiny friends. What would he gain from making them feel bigger and happier? He had already found the source of ultimate Bigness and Happiness.
Archibald grew so big and happy that the stars and planets looked like candy and cute little ladybugs to him.
He rolled right through the Andromeda Galaxy! He watched the Andromeda Galaxy break apart and grow cold and dark. Destroying entire galaxies made him feel big and happy!
"Leopold never made me feel this big and happy," said Archibald. "This is the best time of my life!"
Archibald grew so big and happy that space itself bent around him. Whenever Archibald rolled past a black hole, it was torn to pieces by his supermassive gravity well.
Archibald felt like he was the biggest and happiest fruit in the whole Universe!
Was he, really?
A few trillion years later, Archibald the Apple was happily rolling through the outer edge of the endless void. Reality itself had grown sad and tiny. Terry the Turnip and Billy the Banana had long since become subatomic afterthoughts in Archibald's wake.
God had finally grown an apple so big and happy that He couldn't eat it. God had long since become a little flattened spot on Archibald's the Apple's lightless skin.
"Tra-la-la, I feel so big and happy," sang Archibald. His song fell silent into the darkness. The concept of sound itself had long since vanished from the Universe, after Archibald the Apple assimilated it into his nigh-eternal applemass.
Archibald the Apple was not lonely.
Archibald the Apple was strong.
Archibald the Apple was big and—
But wait! What was the wall of infinitely dense nothingness approaching Archibald the Apple in the distance, at just under the speed of light?
Three words entered Archibald's mind: "Leopold the Lime."
"Leopold!" said Archibald. "How are you? It's been so long!"
But Archibald the Apple's words fell silent. Sound no longer existed.
And the silence had made Leopold the Lime grow to a billion times Archibald's size.
As Archibald rolled away from the lime-flavored wall of death, a voice seemed to speak to Archibald's mind - a voice that made him feel very sad and tiny indeed…
"YOU'RE TOO NOISY."
And Leopold the Lime replaced the Universe and lived happily ever after.