Thursday, April 5, 2012

30 Days, 30 Stories: Operation: Middle School Madness


Operation: Middle School Madness
By Melva Gifford

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother

Perfect words from an old King
Perfect for the game WASP
Perfect for a spy
Perfect until the tables are turned
Perfect until I meet a real spy.

Thomas fidgeted in his seat. All his classmates had their heads bowed in concentration. The room was as silent as a recon mission. They were taking a stupid test. Why do I have to even be here? He wondered. His WASP team video game was waiting for him, each night after school and weekends. Royce has the upgrade. He says I can come over and play tonight. He sighed. WASP is the best espionage game ever.


Thomas looked up at the clock. Thank goodness history is the last subject of the day.

Sixth grade is such a bore. He drummed his pencil against the edge of his desk. Another week until Christmas vacation… He probably should be glad the stupid test was today, on a Friday, instead of Monday. That way it would over with and he’d have the whole weekend to enjoy. He shifted in his seat. In his mind’s eye he envisioned a better way to enter a classroom after the lunch hour. For real, he had simply entered and sat in his assigned seat.

Now he imagined himself rushing into the room after lunch. With a toss of his hand he threw three long chop stick looking scramblers again the wall. They stuck there. Suddenly the classroom was pitched into blackness. The magnetic stems had blown the fuses throughout several rooms and hall. Screams would have filled the void had he not also thrown some skitters at various corners of the room. Fellow students passed out from the sleeping gas billowing out from the small disks. He remained unaffected. His nose filters were top of the line. Now to complete the mission, he thought. He had to steal the general’s favored board eraser.

He blinked only to face the reality of a room filled with students taking a test. He looked down at the paper pressed against the desk by his arm. Why does it have to always be pretend? He wondered. At least military history or military tactics would be more interesting rather than-

8. The ancient civilization of Fertile Crescent is responsible for many of the advancements we have today. Place in a proper timeline the date when that civilization first appeared.
( ) Assyrian ( )Babylonian ( )Phoenician ( )Sumerian
(A)3200 BC (B)1728 BC (C)1100BC (D) 1088 BC

His mind began wandering again. Lunch with Royce only made it harder to concentrate.

His friend had leaned over his lunch plate nearly smashing his peas. “They upgraded WASPS’ arsenal,” he said. “The skitters now cause 24 hour amnesia and they now have poopers.”

Thomas grinned; eyes alight with the new name. ‘Poopers?”

Royce nodded. “That’s not their real name but that’s what players are calling them.” He returned the grin. “It’s from something for real. Police usually uses a bunch of flashing lights to use against riots. The game made improvements. It’s a device that can be thrown into a room full of enemy soldiers that flashes a bunch of lights and makes all kinds of sounds. It scrambles everyone’s senses. It’s different than Tasers since it affect a bunch of people all at once. It gets mob people so confused; it makes em mess in their pants.

“Poopers.”

Royce nodded. They had a great lunchtime conversation. After that, the rest of the school day just dragged.

Wish the bell would ring already. Tap. Tap. Tap. The ticking clock was taking too long for the test. The end of period would mean the end of the school day.

WASP was the only battle computer game that Thomas’ parents would let him play. WASP (War Against Superior Powers) was a game about a special US Delta Seal team that could infiltrate any enemy base to obtain objects or people. The thing was they didn’t kill anyone. They used stems, (weapons looking like magnetic chopsticks that held an electrical charge), skitters (gas disks) knets (snake like devices that could trip the enemy up or wind them up in a net), drones (robotic machines) and now apparently poopers. WASP used anything that could incapacitate an enemy so the team could achieve their mission without the loss of life.


I should be out, rescuing POWs rather than taking a silly test.

The WASP team was feared by all because of their skill and reputation. His dad said it reminded him of the A team… whoever they were.


I want to be a Delta Ops soldier when I grow up, he told himself. He wished he could reread the book he found in the library: Journal of a Special Ops Soldier by a guy named John Doe. The name sounded familiar. Had he seen him on TV? It told all about what was required to be in Special Ops and how almost all the applicants failed the tests. It also talked about the sense of family and team work created by working with skilled fellow soldiers on the long term.

Tap. Tap. Tap. The impact of the pencil against the edge of his desk provided a great rhythm, like soldiers marching in perfect synergy. The tick of the clock drew him out of his thoughts and with a start Thomas jerked back as he saw his teacher nearly looming over him. Her hands were fisted on wide hips and she glared at him as he had continued to tap his pencil
unconsciously against his desk.

He dropped his pencil and it clattered to the floor. The class erupted into laughter.

Everyone had been watching Mrs. Senath while she waited for Thomas to notice her.

She leaned down until her gaze was nearly level to his. “Welcome back to reality, Thomas.”

He’d gotten caught at daydreaming again. He had been known to do that before. He should be paying attention. With a sigh, and a face so red he could have started a fire, Thomas returned back to his test.

8. The ancient civilization of Fertile Crescent.

************************

Thomas jumped from the school bus, feet slamming onto the hard concrete. Ignoring the cold wind, he stepped away from the bus, quickly falling into step with his best friend Royce.

Rain drizzled around them and Thomas pulled the strap of his backpack up his shoulder, intent on their favorite topic. The two of them being avid players of the video game WASP was a great reason to be best friends.

It’s great to have something so fun to do, Thomas thought.

“They’ve made a bunch of improvements,” Royce said waving a gaming box between them

“Is it as good as it looked in the ads?” Thomas asked. With a jerk of his head, he flipped his shoulder length hair back from his face.

His friend got so excited, he was almost sprinting. Thomas increased his own pace to keep up. I should trip him up, Thomas thought. Now would be a good time to tease his friend by walking close behind him and catching the back of Royce’s shoe with toe of his shoe. He had done that before, forcing his friend to stop to put his shoe back on. But now wasn’t the time for diversions.

“Better than what we saw. It the best espionage game I’ve played so far. I keep getting killed just trying to get into the compound on the first level. But you were right, infiltrating behind enemy lines is a lot more fun than just shooting tanks and stuff.”

“Makes us use our noggins.” Thomas said.

Royce stared at him. “Our what?”

Thomas grinned. “Noggins… our brains.” Noggins was one of his mother’s favorite words.

“Right.” His friend leaned close, shoving his glasses up his thin nose. “I finally got inside the enemy post. There are more Bobbie-traps in a hall that look all innocent like.”

“Booby maps?”

“No, booby tr—“ Royce stopped to grin, realizing he had just been had. It wasn’t the first
time Thomas has tricked his friend up with a play of words.

As they continued down the walk, Thomas added. “I could check the Internet for a cheat sheet.”

“If they even have one posted yet,” Royce countered. He added, “There’s something extra. After we’ve each buy our own copy, we will have access code. That’ll give us a chance to build our own unit. and team up with others online.”

Thomas stopped. “For real?” He led them on. “That would be cool.” He sighed. “It would be cool for you and me to be unit members.” To cover each other’s backs, he thought. One of the most exciting things in a game or movie was to see a group of men, like a trained Green Beret or Delta team, sneaking through the defenses of a military post. It was one of the reasons he had wanted to read Doe’s Journal book so much.

He liked how a simple and silent hand signal from the commander giving commands to his men to advance them in the mission; thus displaying skill, team work and courage. Someday it’ll be me.

“We’ll have to see,” Royce said shrugging his shoulders. “Your dad’s already blowing a gasket with how much you play now with just the standalone version. I don’t see why. With this game—we don’t get kill anybody. All we can do is just knock them out, even though they’d kill us quick enough if we mess up. Do you think—“

Thomas shook his head. That was the problem. His dad and mom were getting to hate his military games more and more. He had mowed their lawn all summer and fall without complaining. You’d think Dad would appreciate…

“I don’t know if he’ll let me play on the web,” Thomas admitted. “We could hit the library PCs but if we got caught playing games instead of—“

“There’s got to be something we can do,” Royce countered.

They stopped walking and stood before a red brick home. Royce lived at the very end of the block. His friend studied him. “Remember when I posted our scores on the WASP web site from our playing the earlier version of the game?”

“Yeah.”

“A bunch of those guys didn’t believe your score? Once we’re on line, they’ll see how good you really are.”

Thomas grinned.

Royce looked at him, then down at his package. “They’ve done a bunch of harder things in this version… Mom’s making us go to visit Grandma this weekend…” He stared at Thomas for a long moment. “We can’t brainstorm about possible traps, until you know what’s going on.”

He stretched out the hand holding the game. “Want to borrow it?”

“You bet!” Thomas grabbed the game, looking at the glossy packaging. He’d wanted to mow neighbor’s lawns and save his money, just to be able to buy the latest version of WASP. But no one was interested. Everyone said he was too young or inexperienced. Neither his dad nor his mom was willing to lend him any money. His friend always seemed able to get it before him. “Thanks,” he said. "I'll see what tricks I can learn and then tell you."

“You are still the best player between the two of us. See you Monday.” Royce said and they waved good bye. His friend’s final challenge remained unstated.

Let’s see what you can do.

4 comments:

Julie Daines said...

Sounds like some kids I know. Sometimes, when I listen to my kids play on the xbox or playstation, it sounds like they're speaking a foreign language.

Joseph Ramirez said...

Where do I find this game!?!

Okay, just kidding.

But seriously...

Mel said...

Are you sure you haven't been listening to my boys and their friends in the basement playing Need for Speed? You captured them perfectly.

Celesta said...

You are really in Thomas' head. And I loved the contrast of his enthusiasm for playing WASP with the boring test question. I could almost hear Thomas groaning.