Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chapter 8: Kevin Clyde

One may not realize the power of the reputation until he is forced to fight against it. I didn’t realize how well I had established my reputation until I needed to change it. How was I supposed to convince the student body that voting for a mobile time bomb was a good idea? I wouldn’t have even voted for me!
The candidate list had been posted on the school bulletin board today, but due to the crowd surrounding it, I had yet to view the list of my opponents. How does a man sentenced to hang build up the courage to view the rest of the hanging roster?
I knew I would find out who I was running against soon enough. Today I was working on obscurity. And I had found the perfect disguise! It was actually Brock who had provided me with the disguise. I had asked him yesterday to find me something that would cause people to look straight passed me. Perhaps I should have asked Sandy instead. This morning Brock had showed up at school with an oversized basketball jersey and a set of plastic rimmed glasses with no glass in them, and a large plastic nose attached to the bottom. They even had bushy black eyebrows attached to the top. I actually considered donning them. Sure, people might make fun of me, but it might also help them forget that I was the one running for class president. Unfortunately, Sandy had flatly refused to let me wear them. She said they would attract the wrong kind of attention and insure that I wasn’t elected. I wanted to let her know that that was already insured, but I held my tongue. Sandy is usually right about things, so much to Brock’s disappointment, I left the super neat glasses in my locker. I did however, convince Sandy to let me wear the basketball jersey. Anyone looking to beat me up wouldn’t be looking for someone in a sport’s jersey. I was practically invisible!
“Hey, Dufus!” I knew the endearing name was directed at me, but I hoped the person using it would choose to bestow his attention elsewhere if I pretended not to hear him. No such luck. I had only taken a few steps down the hallway when I heard a set of heavy footsteps behind me. I felt a hand grip my arm, and before I had time to react, I was spun around and slammed against a set of lockers.
“When I call, you answer. Got it?” It was Kevin Clyde, the schools most talented bully. He rivaled Brock in height and strength, but lost to Brock in the brain area. And that was hard to do. I wasn’t worried that Kevin was mad at me for running for Student President. Kevin could hardly write his own name, much less read mine.
I muttered an apology before explaining, “I didn’t think you were calling me. I could have sworn you said, dufus.” He pressed me harder against the lockers and I realized I should have kept my mouth shut.
“I did, didn’t I? That’s because that’s your new name, kid. Dufus. Fits ya, huh?” His smile was sinister as I nodded in agreement.
“Sure does. My parents could have saved a lot of time naming me if you had been around to help, Kevin.” He must not have appreciated the compliment, because his red face got redder and he shoved me harder against the lockers.
“You think you’re pretty funny, don’t you, Young? Well, when I get done with you, you’re not only gonna talk like a comedian, you’re gonna look like one too.” I was beginning to get worried. How was I going to convince people to vote for me if I only had one arm and a couple teeth?
“Kevin, put him down.” I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I heard Brock’s voice. I could tell that Kevin was loath to end the fun, but had crossed Brock enough to know that he was better off finding a different mouse to play with. He moved his nose closer to mine before hissing, “This isn’t over, Young.” I was given one last shove for good measure before he let me go and strutted angrily down the hall.
“You sure know how to make friends, don’t you Herb?” I sighed as I straightened my Jersey and picked up my backpack.
“Yeah, Brock. I attract them like honey attracts flies.”
“You sure do. Hey, I’ve been trying to find you. Mr. Evans asked me to give this to you.” Brock handed me a thick pamphlet with the words “CANIDATING RULES” written boldly across the cover.
“Oh yay.” I said, without much enthusiasm. So much for working on my experiment tonight.
“Sandy was looking for you earlier. She wanted to show you the list of candidates. She acted like there was something suspicious about it.
“Brock we both know Sandy can spot a conspiracy theory where there is none.”
“Yah, I know, but whatever it is, she seemed pretty excited about it. She told me if I found you, I’m supposed to tell let you know that we’re meeting over at her house tonight to put together some posters.” I groaned.
“Well, let’s both pretend you didn’t find me.” Brock grinned.
“Know can do, little man. Sandy would know I was lying as soon as I opened my mouth. Besides she told me to tell you that she’ll provide the pizza if you come.” Well, I thought, I might be worth it after all. I was getting a little tired of Howard’s British cooking. I’m an American. I start to break out in hives if I eat too much foreign food.
“Alright. You can tell her I’ll be there.”
“Sure thing. I’ll catch you later, Dude. I’ve gotta get ready for PE.” He looked so happy about it that he might as well have said he was off to a party. I had to chuckle. Only Brock.
“Okay. I’ll see you later.” If I lived that long.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chapter 7: On The Case

“Sandy! Did you have to invite Brock over? This house is getting crowded!” I was whining but I didn’t care. While I was napping on the Pet Store floor, Sandy had called Howard and asked if he could pick us up. She than called Brock and told him we could use his help. THAN, she took my wallet and purchased two of each disgusting little rodent and amphibian that resided at the pet store. I would have yelled at her, but my head hurt too much. The living room looked as though we had brought the entire pet store with us, minus the squeaky dog toys and puppy coats. Howard had instructed me to lie on the couch until Brock arrived. I turned my head away from Sandy, only to find myself eye to eye with a shrew or something.
“Eeeee!” I jumped up from the couch and pointed my finger accusingly at Sandy. “You! You are in charge of taking care of these creatures! I will not touch them. If they die of hunger, it will be your fault!”
“Herbert Young, you’d better quit pointing at me or I’ll bite that finger off. You were the one who asked for my help. How was I supposed to know that your reason for dragging me to the pet store was so you could rest on their floor? I thought you were buying specimens! So I bought a couple!” A parrot squawked behind me and I jumped away from it as quickly as I could.
“Sandy, if I had wanted this many animals I would have moved to the zoo. This is ridiculous. How much did you spend?” Conveniently for Sandy the door bell rang.
“That must be Brock. I’ll let him in.” I sighed in frustration as Sandy left the room. I shouldn’t have yelled at her, but she had turned my safe house into a mad house. I should have yelled louder! Brock would understand.
“Dude!” Brock’s eyes travelled over the cages crowding the living room. His exclamation did nothing to make me feel better.
“This,” I said pointing to Sandy accusingly, “Is her fault.” The look Brock gave Sandy hinted more of admiration than reproach. “This is a bad thing Brock.” He had turned his attention to a red and black snake, that was probably venomous.
“This is awesome, Man! It must have cost you a fortune!” I glared at Sandy.
“I bet it did.”
“Herbert, stop being such a baby. I covered half the cost, and I know for a fact that Brock loves creepy crawly, squirmy things. I bet you’d hardly have to ask before he’d agree to take care of them.”
“Dude, you know it!” He now had his hand inside the cage with the snake. I started gagging from across the room. “How many animals do you have here?”
“Well,” Sandy began, “We have ten mice, two rats, two hamsters, two shrews…” I couldn’t help but role my eyes. “… two snakes, two rabbits, a ferret, and a parrot.” I could tell Sandy was trying to avoid making eye contact with me. “I paid half the cost and Brock will be paying a quarter of the cost.” This must have been news to him because he turned toward her with raised eyebrows.
“I am?”
“Of course you are, Brock. You promised you would help finance this new case, and so long as Herbert doesn’t kill all of these animals, I plan to train them as undercover secret agents.” Brock looked at me, shrugged and turned his attention back to the snake that was now wrapped around his neck.
“Is that why you bought all these animals?” I was kind of disappointed, having thought Sandy had done it to benefit my research.
“Herbert, I think it’s time we briefed you on this case.” And I was ready to listen. I was curious to find out what kind of investigation required animals. “We’ve come to suspect that there is a spy ring using our school as their base.” I shouldn’t have smiled. I really shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help it. What a ridiculous assumption! Sandy’s eyes narrowed as she watched the sides of my lips raise. “Herbert Young, are you laughing at me?” I coughed into my hand, trying to wipe the smile off my face.
“No, no Sandy! It’s just that I’m curious to know what led you to that conclusion. It certainly isn’t the type of thing one stumbles across every day.” Sandy was still glaring at me.
“No it’s not. And it’s certainly no laughing matter, Mr. Young.”
“Well at least give me the particulars, Sandy.”
“Not here. Your brother changes nationalities too often for my comfort. Let’s get these critters up to you lab and then we’ll discuss it.”

“Have you noticed how many Guamanians have joined our school in the last two years? According to school records we didn’t have any Guamanians until three years ago. At that time there was one. Our school is now 50% Guamanian!” I raised my hand hoping Sandy would let me interject. She glanced my way so I took it as an affirmation.
“Sandy, I dare say that if you check state records, you would see a similar, though probably not quite as drastic, increase in the Guamanian population.”
“But not 50%.”
“Well, no. But an increase none the less. Besides, why would they choose our school as their headquarters? With a total of 200 kids we hardly show up on the map.”
“But that’s exactly why they chose this school, Howard! Here they can remain unseen and out of the way, while at the same time gathering the information they need!”
“And what information are they after, Sandy? The secret to America’s greatness? Her fast food recipes? Guam is a U.S. colony. You can hardly expect that the tiny island is trying to free itself from our tyrannical grasp!”
“That’s just it, Herbert! I don’t think that these new students are actually from Guam!” I gave Sandy a blank stare. Where in the world was she going with this? “I believe they are Cubans, masquerading as Guamanians.” I was beginning to get frustrated.
“That’s a stretch if there ever was one, Sandy.”
“I don’t know, Herbert. It makes sense to me.” Trust Brock to agree to something so ludicrous.
“You don’t have to believe me, Herbert. All you have to do is focus on winning Class President and keep your ears open for anything suspicious. Brock, the animals, and I will do all the investigating. Agreed?” I had to pause and think about it. I really didn’t have much of a choice. Principal Eve’s had told me running for Class President was an assignment. And I didn’t want to disappoint my friends. My only real change in circumstances was the situation in laboratory. And that wasn’t all Sandy’s fault.
“Alright, Sandy. I’m with you. But let’s put everything on hold until tomorrow morning. It’s been a long, exhausting day.”

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chapter 6: The Pet Store

“So why did you ask me to meet you here?” Sandy and I stood outside of Milberry’s only pet shop. I had been here before, thus I was petrified of going in again. Animals terrified me. I had met a dog that I kind of liked… once. He was stuffed and had a tag.
“I… I… I… think I might need some help.” I swallowed, but my throat was so dry there was really no need. Sandy looked at me skeptically.
“You need my help in a pet store? What’s really going on here, Young?” If she had been my mom I probably would have grabbed her hand. However, I thought better of it considering I was supposed to be the brave, strong one.
“I need to pick out several specimens for my experiment. Nothing big, but I’m going to need a couple different species, so as to add a variable to my hypothesis and to get the best results.”
“So you’re going to need what? A couple mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, fish…” My skin began to squirm and my head started to feel a bit fuzzy.
“Sandy, let’s not talk about this. Let’s just get it over with.” Again she gave me a quizzical look, and I decided not to answer it. Instead I opened the door… or would have if I could have. I pulled and it wouldn’t budge. I pulled again harder with the same results. “I think it’s stuck.” This time I put my face to the glass and peered in, trying to see if the store was closed.
“Herbert, maybe if you followed the instructions on the door and pushed.” I glanced down at the petit figure beside me. Surely it couldn’t be that simple. My eyes swung back to the door. The word PUSH was printed neatly on the door handle. Sandy giggled beside me.
“I’ve never known anyone as smart as you, Herbert, who is also as dumb as you.” She pushed the door open and walked in before me. She was still chuckling and shaking her head. I would have made excuses, but I couldn’t think of any. Although… who goes around reading doors anyway?
The smell of the pet store almost knocked me over. I felt bad for the person who worked her. I turned to face the counter and saw the poor victim. She was young lady who seems to be brained washed to the nasty smell surrounding us. She was chewing gum loudly and blowing bubbles. I thought about giving her a lecture on how little particles of dust and germs fill the air, but I wasn’t sure she would appreciate my help. Instead I turned my attention back to Sandy who was staring into a small cage full of little rodents.
“Here are some mice, Herbert. They’re not all that expensive either.” She tapped on the glass, testing their reaction. “And boy can they climb.” My skin started to crawl. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
“Maybe we should come back another day, Sandy.” I said in a high strangled voice. “The girl at the counter looks kinda busy.” Sandy ignored me and continued on the next class cage.
“What are you going to keep these little guys in, Herbert?” I looked at what she was calling little. It was a huge black rat with red eyes. I took a step back as it seemed to be staring at me menacingly.
“That’s not a little guy, Sandy. That’s a monster. We have a ‘No Monster Policy’ in our house. He’s not invited.” Sandy looked at me incredulously.
“Come on, Herbert. He’s not so bad. He’s actually kind of cute.” I looked back at the cute monster to try to see it from her perspective. He was now cleaning himself and I caught a glimpse of his razor sharp white teeth. This was definitely not a cute rat. “You don’t have to make up your mind right away. We’ll look and see what else they’ve got.”
We moved down to the next cage. Miniature hamsters. These weren’t so bad, I thought. “I don’t mind these too much, Sandy.” She continued to study them before agreeing with me.
“You’re right. They don’t have that long skinny tail, but they’re a lot more expensive. Ten dollars per hamster versus two dollars per mouse. That’s quite a difference in price.” I had to agree with her, but it seemed worth every penny to me.
“Maybe you could get two of each.” I winced at the thought.
“I don’t want mice in my house, Sandy. Or rats.”
“Well, how are you going to conduct a balanced experiment if you don’t have a variety of specimens?” I would have answered her but she moved on to the next cage. “Aww! Look at these, Herbert! Baby rabbits! So adorable.” Sandy looked down at them like she had never seen anything so cute. I had. They were better than the rats, mice, and hamsters, but it wasn’t as though they were adorable or anything.
“Sandy, they’re just rabbits.”
“No, Herbert. These are baby bunny rabbits. They’re adorable!” I wasn’t seeing the difference between rabbits and baby bunny rabbits. I decided to look it up on the internet when I got home. Girls are so strange. “We have to get at least two of these!”
“Sandy, you do remember we aren’t buying pets, don’t you? I’ll be experimenting on these animals. There is always the possibility that something will go wrong and they won’t survive. That’s why I’m not experimenting on people.” I stared her down hoping that she would see how serious I was. She glared up at me and then turned back and smiled at the rabbits.
“Well, we’ll save the rabbits until you have all the ticks worked out of your experiment.” Ticks. I began to wonder how many of these animals had ticks. My arms started itching and I rubbed them in irritation.
“Let’s get this over with, Sandy. I’m going mad.” She smiled knowingly and moved to the next cage.
“How about a couple frogs!” Her exclamation startled me and I jumped. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I hadn’t jumped backwards. Even this wouldn’t have been a problem if the glass cage of mice hadn’t been positioned right behind me. Right where I jumped. I heard a creek. I turned around as quickly as I could and grabbed the mouse cage. I would have been alright if my grabbing the cage hadn’t knocked the lid off. Almost as soon as the mice saw that a way of escape had been provided, they took it. One jumped on me. I screamed like girl. I faced a serious dilemma. Should I drop the cage on the ground and smack off the offending creature or should I wait until someone saw my dilemma and put the lid back on.
“SANDY!” Sandy swung to face me, her face a mask of confusion. Her mouth swung open.
“Herbert! What are you doing?” It was a dumb question but I didn’t have time to tell her so. Another mouse jumped out of the cage and onto me. The previous offender had climbed up my face and was playing in my hair.
“Ahhh!!! Ahhh!!!” I knew I had to get myself under control. “The stand, Sandy! I knocked the stand over. Ahhh!!! Ahhh!!! Pick it up! Pick it up!” We really would have preferred to have enjoyed our party alone, but bubble gum lady must have heard the commotion and felt left out. She dashed around the corner and grabbed the stand that I had knocked over.
“Put it down!” She yelled at me. I did. I wasn’t about to argue with her. Sandy had retrieved the lid and slammed it down on the cage just as I was setting it down. Bubble Gum lady cut the mice’s fun short and took both the one out of my hair and the one that had begun to crawl down my pant leg. She flung them back into the cage and then turned to me accusingly. “Young man, if you would like to hold one of the animals, you need to ask for assistance.” She pointed to the sign clearly written on the glass cage. “PLEASE ASK FOR ASSISTANCE BEFORE HANDLING ANY OF THE ANIMALS.” I didn’t bother arguing with her and letting her know that some people don’t consider reading doors or cages, but instead I took a deep breath and said, “Yes, ma’am.” Then I fainted.

Chapter 5: You Scratch... I Scratch

I stared in amazement at the equations and formulas covering the page in front of me. Was it really possible? According to my calculations, if one could enter his own mind at the exact moment when deep sleep hit, he could play an active and controlled role in his own dreams, directing the scenery, the characters and even the circumstances. If this could be accomplished than children suffering from reoccurring nightmares could turn their dreams into something beautiful and pleasant. Dreams could be harnessed and even possibly recorded and viewed by someone outside of your dream.
The idea was incredible and hard to believe, but if the figures that I had calculated were correct, than it was very possible. All I had to do now was figure out how to create a machine that would be able to control the neutrons in the brain without harming the one being tested. Perhaps it was time to make a trip to the pet store.
I had just put my jacket on when Howard’s voice came across the intercom.
“Hebert, Old boy, there’s a call for you on line one. I’d wager it’s a chap from school. A female… chap.” I could picture his sly smile and I had to choke back my irritation at him. It wasn’t like he never received calls from female editors or anything. I determined to give him a hard time next time he got a call from a woman.
“Thanks, Howard. I got it.” I picked up the receiver knowing full well who it was. Sandy.
“Hello? This is Herbert.”
“Hey, Herbert. I know who you are. Who was the English guy who answered the phone though?”
“That was my brother Howard.”
“I thought he was Japanese or Chinese or something.”
“Oh! He was… I mean he wasn’t, but he was… I mean, the book he was writing was…” Was it necessary for me to explain our family affairs to Sandy? “He’s British now.”
“What?” I was feeling confused as well, so I stopped trying to explain. “… Okay… Well, I called to ask you how the interview with my dad went. Did you say yes? Are you going to run for class president?”
“It sounds like your dad already told you about it. Didn’t he tell you what I said?”
“Don’t be silly, Herbert. My dad keeps most things that happen in his office very private. However, I thought that our being friends and all… Well, I just wanted to know what you decided.” My mind began to work quicker as I listened.
“Sandy, if your dad didn’t tell you what we talked about in his office, how did you know that he asked me to run for class president?” I could practically hear her squirm.
“Well, I might have mentioned to him that you would make a good Class President…”
“Sandy! Why? I don’t want to be the class president! I can hardly stand on two feet at school. What kind of leader would I make? Are you trying to kill me!?!” I could practically feel my blood begin to boil. I had to cool down. I had to think clearly. I picked up a glass of water from off my desk and began to sip it while waiting for her response.
“Herbert Young, I’m surprised at you!” I hadn’t expected that. “Here I am trying to help the school and keep it from falling to the ground around us, and you’re giving me a hard time for involving you!”
“Sandy, the school is more likely to fall to the ground around us with me in a position of leadership! Besides, I’m about to make a scientific breakthrough. I don’t have time to waste making posters and speeches.”
“I’m about to make a breakthrough too, Herbert. But I can’t do it without putting ears into high places. I can’t jeopardize my private eye position by putting the spot light on me, and you know Brock will never pay close enough attention to what’s going on around him to be any help. You should feel honored that I chose you. Besides, I’ll help you make posters and campaign. It will be a synch. All you have to do is exactly what I tell you… and watch your feet.”
“Oh. That’s all?” I really did want to help Sandy and she really was cute and fun to hang out with. “But, I’m just about to make a breakthrough, Sandy! I can’t put this on the shelf.”
“You won’t have to Herbert! I’ll help you as much as I can on weekends and after school.” I was impressed by her offer. I could use some assistance.
“You will?”
“Sure! But you have to promise me one thing.”
“What’s that?”
“That you will try to win.” I groaned inwardly. What a yucky promise to have to make.
“Alright. What do I need to do first?”