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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Geeked Out

A Lame New World

Geeked Out (Volume 1)

Obert Skye

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)



The Ruin

The world is coming to an end. Or maybe it’s just a phase—it’s hard to tell. Things could smooth out in a couple of hundred years, but at the moment things are a mess, and the worst of it is that we still have to go to school. Seriously, if you think your school is hard, try going to one when society has fallen apart.

How did the world fall apart? Well, I’m glad I asked that. To begin with, things weren’t going well all over the planet. Governments were fighting about things that they thought mattered, and people were polluting places that they thought didn’t matter. People were unhappy and society and technology seemed to be getting out of hand. Then, as if things weren’t tough enough, something happened that unraveled everything. You see, there are some very, very, very popular books called the Sand Thrower series.

The books are about a boy and a girl who travel through time by throwing sand and occasionally kissing. I’m not a huge fan, but almost all the girls (and a ton of boys) are obsessed with them.

A few years ago the Sand Thrower movie franchise released their third movie, Grainy. The first two movies were really good and kids loved them. But, the third movie blew chunks. I mean, it really stunk—like a dead skunk that’s been sprayed with my grandmother’s perfume and rolled in bad eggs. It was the best book in the series, but they made it into the worst movie ever! Because it stunk so bad society went bonkers. Fans all over the world left the theaters and took to the streets. They tore things up. Not even the cops could stop people from weeping and interrupting society with their sad selfies and uncontrollable behavior.

It was the beginning of the end.

The nonstop texting and online complaining caused hundreds of communications satellites to drop out of orbit and come crashing to earth. The failed satellites did massive amounts of damage and helped throw society into the toilet for many months. Governments couldn’t communicate, people started more wars, and all systems experienced breakdowns. Factories and fires pumped out waste and smoke that made the weather bonkers. Everything fell apart, and the whole world changed—countries crumbled, states went to pieces, and neighborhoods got picked apart.

It was the end of one world and the start of another.

Now the government is bigger, and our streets are ruled by packs of unhappy, unsatisfied, and pushy fangirls and fanboys that society calls Fanatics. Most Fanatics spend their days silently stewing and aggressively taking selfies. Some attack people in outfits they don’t like or chase down anyone who dares to say the third Sand Thrower movie is better than the book.

It’s crazy. Middle school is hard enough, but add the breakdown of society to the daily grind, and it gets even stickier. I shouldn’t complain too much. At least I’m lucky to be part of a group at school. The group I’m talking about is the AV Club. It used to stand for Audio Visual Club, but now it stands for Avoid Violence Club, because that’s what we spend most of our day doing. We’re thinkers, not fighters, and there are four of us: me, Mindy, Owen, and Xennitopher.

Owen is older than all of us by almost half a year. He has about a dozen people in his family and doesn’t like to go home because his big brothers pick on him. He doesn’t like to do things that are hard because it makes his skin turn red and his nose run. He’s kind and also kind of slow moving. According to the school aptitude test we had to take a few weeks ago, he would be best suited in a job where he didn’t have to interact with others.

Xennitopher is my brother from another mother. He is probably the coolest member of the AV Club. His hair always looks perfect, and he knows how to code in four languages. I’ve also seen him lift things that look heavy. His dad works for the mayor of Piggsburg and his mother works at the zoo protecting the animals from poachers.

Don’t tell anyone, but Mindy is my favorite. We sort of have a thing. I mean, she sort of likes me as a friend. She was born in Japan and moved to Piggsburg shortly before the world unraveled. She is the glue in the AV Club. And not the cheap kind of glue they use at our school, but the kind of glue that could adhere a steam train to a steel rail. She’s incredibly smart, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someday we got married.

My name is Timothy Dover, but everyone calls me Tip, as in Tip Dover. It works because sometimes I have a hard time standing up without tripping. I used to mind the nickname, but now I’m fine with it and even kind of like it. I am an only child, and I have never fit in other than in the AV Club. Which is strange, because I’m a Fourth Master Elf in the Elf Scrimmage role-playing game, and you would think that would get me some respect, but it doesn’t.

Our school is called Otto Waddle Jr. High Government Outpost, but we all call it WADD. The nickname works because our mascot is a weird wad-shaped creature, plus the school itself is a large wad of confusion.

Because my friends and I have high IQs, most of the school calls us Geeks and they give us a ton of grief. I guess being smart at WADD is uncool. I don’t know which one of us Geeks is the smartest, but I was the only one who could figure out how to open the lid on Owen’s asthma medicine.

Also, I got an A, plus a handful of rice, in yesterday’s Identifying Edible Weeds class. It was an important test. You might not be aware of this, but knowing the difference between edible and inedible things can save your life.

WADD used to be a normal, boring school where people learned things about math and science instead of weeds and life-or-death kickball. When I think of how things used to be, I get a little nostalgic—which is a better-than-average way of saying I long for the old days. Sure, it’s cool now to be able to bring spears to school, but I wouldn’t mind not having to make my own erasers from old grease squeezed out of last week’s maybe-meat loaf.

Even getting to school these days can be an adventure. I have to walk through hordes of Fanatics taking aggressive selfies and dodge stray animals and government workers. Then, when I get here, I’m forced to go through security, which is just a big hole in the wall. It’s the one way into our school, and you can only bring in what you can fit through the opening. At WADD it’s perfectly acceptable for people to bring sticks or eggs or torches to school, but the security hole helps keep out the big things like four-wheelers and tanks.

I don’t usually worry about getting through security, but this morning I was packing something more than just my inhaler and tablet. Today I had a bag filled with melted-down eraser grease. The reason for bringing the goop was because me and the AV Club were going to teach Nerf, the leader of the Jocks, a messy lesson. He’d been trouble for a while, and because our school let him get away with everything, it was up to us to teach him some manners.

These days everything is more extreme and crazy than it used to be. Our school is filled with extreme clubs, groups, cliques, and confusion. There’s the Jocks, and the Goths, and the Sox—which is a group of students who no longer wear shoes. There are the Loners and the Freaks and the Pens—a group of wannabe writers who meet behind the wall of broken desks near the cafeteria. There are a few more groups, including the Staffers, which is made up of all the teachers and the staff. I guess they’re necessary because they teach us stuff that the government thinks we need to know to survive in this brave new world.

Our school is a government outpost where only the strong survive. The Staffers try to teach, but they also have to fight and reason with us. For example, last month there was a big chair debacle at WADD. The Staffers took all the seats and built forts out of them so they could hide and be protected from unruly students while teaching.

Since none of us enjoyed standing or sitting on hard floors, some of the cliques joined together and duct taped the Staffers’ cars. But the protest didn’t work. The Staffers used butter knives and cut their doors open and peeled the tape off of their windows. And because most of their cars were junkers to begin with, they were happy to have vehicles that looked tough and durable.

I wasn’t concerned with the Staffers today. They’d been pretty calm lately, and most of them didn’t mind me, due to the fact that I never acted up. No, my concern was with Nerf. We Geeks were going to take him down and move from the lowest group at our school to the highest. Over the last few months, we’d been working on a brilliant plan to put the Jocks in their place. And when we pranked them, we would become the top dogs and finally get the respect we deserved.

The Jocks are the most obnoxious group at WADD. They think the school is their playground and that they’re the only ones who matter. They’re always playing sports in the halls and tackling people who are just trying to make their way to classrooms. They push around the Sox, mess with the Pens, and mock the Goths. And they dislike us Geeks the most, which is why it’s our responsibility to do something about it. Nobody’s ever given them grief before—until today.

If you think I’m being harsh, it might help to know that Nerf, the leader of the Jocks, is easily the worst person at WADD. When he walks down the hall, most of the students hide behind the big safety mounds made out of old textbooks. Nerf is best known for dishing out painful high fives.

Even if you don’t give a rat’s backside about sports, he still makes you high-five him. And if you fail to high-five him? Well, I’ll just say two words—low five. And trust me, the low five is way worse than the high—WAY WORSE!

The Jocks are bad enough, but Nerf and his two best friends, Mud and Weasel, take the cake and then cram it in your face.

They’re always locking us in lockers, or stealing our torches, or smashing our tablets over their heads. They eat first at lunch, get the best pencils, and roam the halls belching their stupid fight song.

Sadly, I’m one of their favorite people to pick on. I’m too skinny, too pale, too weird, and 200 percent smarter than them. Every chance they get, they tip me over. Nerf and his pals are equally mean to the rest of the AV Club. We might be the smallest student group at WADD, but we get picked on the most.

It’s a scientific fact that people can only take being bullied for so long. We’ve tried reasoning with the Jocks, but the debates always end up with us having our heads put into the toilets or our tablets thrown into the pond next to the school.

Reasoning had failed, so it was payback time. That’s why we Geeks were marching though Q Hall, the main and longest hall at WADD, and heading toward the cafeteria. We weren’t going there to eat; we just needed to pick something up. We really never ate in the cafeteria because it was horrible. (Sorry, Lunch Lady Sniddle.) The food was disgusting, the floors were sticky, and almost every week a food fight broke out between two warring groups. Last Wednesday the Goths ambushed the Pens and won back their moping spot near the school library. It was a long food fight, but the Goths were victorious.

Sometimes the Goths worry me, but they’re nothing compared to the Jocks, and even though the Jocks are mostly horrible, there is one person at WADD who I’d ship out first.

Most schools are led by their principal. Not at WADD. Our principal is a frightened pushover who spends his days hiding under tables and behind walls just hoping that the students will go away.

Principal Woth doesn’t scare anyone. The person who scares everyone is the school secretary, Mrs. Susan.

Mrs. Susan has more control over WADD than anyone else. She also doesn’t like any of the students except for the Jocks. Us Geeks are probably her least favorite. I think she feels we’re smarter than her and that makes her angry.

Her desk is in the office at the front of the school and at the beginning of Q Hall. I actually should say her desks, because she put her own on top of desks she stole from other teachers. She sits up there on her throne looking down at us, always ready to punish someone for something.

Mrs. Susan likes to sit at her desks and make random announcements on the intercom. But the intercom speakers are so bad that she always sounds like Darth Vader. Which is why most of us call her Darth Susan behind her back.

As we were walking to the cafeteria, the intercom crackled to life.

Mrs. Susan’s voice caused us to stop walking for a second. I didn’t really like thinking about Darth Susan or the Supply War, because what we were about to do could easily become the biggest mistake of our lives, and hearing her voice reminded me of how scared I really was.

I shook it off and we continued on our quest.

Copyright © 2018 by Obert Skye