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Otto Waddle Jr. High Outpost
You’d think that I’d be happy. After all, for the first time in my life, I have some good things going on. Sure, the world is falling apart more each day, but my own life has a few positives.
For one, I am still president of the AV Club. AV used to stand for Audio Visual but now it stands for Avoid Violence. That’s just because of the whole “world falling apart” thing.
I also have some pretty good friends. Like me, they’re members of the AV Club, and we’ve been through a lot together. There are four of us: me, Mindy, Owen, and Xennitopher. The me in that last sentence is me, Tip. My actual name is Timothy Dover, but I used to have a difficult time walking and managing gravity, which meant I fell occasionally. And since my real name sounds a lot like tipped over, everyone began calling me Tip. Tip Dover. I tried to explain that the reason I fell over was because my brain was so big it made me lopsided, but that still didn’t stop anyone from teasing me. In fact, a few people now call me Fat Brain.
My friends and I have always gotten along. We share the common trait of being geeks and outcasts. Now we have an even bigger connection. There is something that makes us vastly different than before. It’s not our hair or our IQs, because those things have always been high. The difference is that we now have super … well, we have powers.
Our abilities may not be as flashy as the ones you see in comic books, but they are powers nonetheless. And together we used our gifts to save our school from extinction. It wasn’t easy, but we pulled it off.
Since then we have helped save a few things around the city—cats stuck in trees, kids chased by drones, and people being picked on by Fanatics. Despite all the things we have done for Piggsburg, nobody at our school knows it’s us who keep saving the day. We are a mysterious, supersecret group called the League of Average and Mediocre Entities, or LAME. Laugh if you want, but we even have outfits that help us hide our identities and partial awesomeness.
Mindy can clap and cause damage to almost anything. Xen has powerful burps that can knock things down.
Owen can hear like a freak, but now he struggles hearing sounds that are close. Me? Well, I can turn almost anything on and off just by thinking about it. We’re still the same nerdy AV Club members we once were, but now LAME has a little street cred.
Sure, we could go around telling the world who we are and all about our maddish skillz, but as anyone who has ever picked up a comic book knows, semi-superheroes don’t do that.
Besides, if we give away our secrets, the world would become even more dangerous and unsettling for us. Our families would be targeted, and the government would lock us up and perform all kinds of tests on us.
For the record, things used to be okay. Planet Earth was once holding its own. In fact, when I was a kid, life was almost normal. Then a few years ago, things started to change. Pollution was out of control, cities were overcrowded, and wars became a daily occurrence. Then things went from really bad to really awful. The event that pushed society over the edge was the release of the third Sand Thrower movie: Grainy.
Normally, movies don’t change the world, but this one did. See, the Sand Thrower series is a popular book series. Every girl and lots of boys love it. They talk endlessly about the characters, the story, and the covers.
Personally, I think the books are horrible. I don’t mean to rip books apart for no reason, so here are some reasons:
I’d rather read a book about stomach worms and the bacteria they digest. But the rest of the world feels differently. That’s why when Hollywood made the third Sand Thrower book into a movie and that movie blew chunks, the entire planet went nuts.
The fans of the series left the theaters, took to the streets, and began to terrorize everyone. They disrupted society so much that cities began to crack under the stress. The fans—or Fanatics, as they became known—stormed the companies that endorsed the third movie. They marched in the streets in anger. Their anger tore apart towns. Their postings and rantings on social media were so great that communications satellites couldn’t handle the overload and fell from the skies. The falling satellites caused other satellites to fall. With so many satellites down, factories went off-line and began to mistakenly pump out more pollution than ever before. The pollution caused the weather to get worse, and the conditions caused the entire world to go to war. These days everything is a war—oxygen wars, tax wars, walking wars, pudding wars.
With all the chaos and turmoil, the United States of America went from being fifty united states to being seventy-three Somewhat United, Sort of Divided States of America. Countries fell apart and regrouped under different names. Some of the names were based on the horrible film that began it all. Italy was now called Utterly, because the movie was utterly awful. Germany was now called Das Third Movie Stunk.
Things were bad.
And through it all, the angry and disappointed Fanatics continue to take to the streets each night and terrorize everyone.
So nothing is normal anymore. Food is hard to come by, no place feels safe, and middle school is worse than ever.
My school is Otto Waddle Jr. High Government Outpost. We call it WADD for short because it’s kind of a big wad of confusion. It’s old and in bad shape, and as underfunded as most places in the town of Piggsburg.
Like so many middle schools, it’s filled with normal cliques like Jocks and Geeks and Goths and Cheerleaders. But because everyone needs a group to survive these days, there are way more unusual cliques: Sox, Pens, Loners, Loaners, Antisocials, Old-Timers, Sci-Fis, Wi-Fis, and many others. Even the teachers are a group called the Staffers.
The school day can be dangerous, and the Staffers seem more frightened of the students than we are of them. It’s students against Staffers every day in some sort of Supply War or Homework War or administrative battle.
WADD is a school on the brink of disaster.
Our principal is Hyrum Woth. He is a coward and rarely does anything other than hide. Principal Woth’s only goal is to make sure nobody can ask him for help. He also doesn’t want to make any decisions or face any responsibility. Woth is supposed to be our leader, but he hardly runs the school.
The person who runs everything at WADD is the school secretary, Mrs. Susan. For the record, she’s not nice. Also, if someone is keeping a second record, let me just say that she is SO NOT nice that she’s evil. Plus, her hair smells like decaying lettuce.
Mrs. Susan sits on top of her pile of desks in the front office, smiling insincerely and telling everyone what to do.
She makes daily announcements through the broken intercom system, which causes her voice to sound like Darth Vader’s.
We call her Darth Susan, but only behind her back, because if she found out, she would send us to the detention compound behind the school and make us spend our afternoons busting up rocks. She usually sounds kind of fake-sweet, but lately she just sounds real-sad.
I’m guessing that anyone reading this book is smart, and because you are smart, you’re probably asking yourself, Why would anyone bother saving a school as horrible as Otto Waddle? Well, it may seem hard to believe, but there are far worse schools out there. For example, outpost #72. It’s where we would have all been sent if our school had been closed. Outpost #72 is located on the edge of Piggsburg and includes all the troubled students and a few ex-cons. The halls are filled with social-networking gangs that bully everyone, and their mascot is a fist that runs around punching things.
So, as awful as WADD can be, we still prefer it over the other option. And ever since we saved the place, Darth Susan has been depressed. She hardly has the energy to boss kids around.
To cheer her up, Tyler, the school janitor, built her a Hall-Terrain-Vehicle, or HTV, out of scraps and pieces of things he had scavenged from the garbage wasteland on the east end of town.
The HTV didn’t seem to cheer her up.
But last week things seemed to change.
On Tuesday, Darth Susan wasn’t at school. On Wednesday, she returned and seemed to be back to her old rotten self. Once again she was terrorizing the halls and scaring us all with her sickeningly sweet way of making threats.
The evil glint in her eyes had returned, and as everyone knows, an evil glint is the worst kind of glint there is. Something had happened on her day off—something that had changed things and now threatened to ruin our short run of semi-peace. If Darth Susan was happy again, that meant bad things were on the horizon. She had even bought a daily cruel-planner and was carrying it around everywhere she went.
Due to her change of black heart and the return of her evildoing, we were already on edge and on the verge of feeling awful. But to make things feel even worse, five minutes before school was to let out, the speakers clicked to life so that Darth Susan could make one final announcement.
Something was wrong. Darth Susan had never mentioned our name. Now she was asking people to be on the lookout for us. There was trouble afoot, and afoot trouble is almost as bad as abutt trouble.
LAME had some investigating to do.
The four of us had been working on a tagline for our group. Something we could yell when we were on the case or saving the world. So far we had come up with …
We could hear Finn the school crier crying out. Thanks to all the uncertainty in the world, only the government can set off alarms or bells. So our school uses Finn. He cries out when school periods end, or when the day is over, or when there’s information that Darth Susan doesn’t want to squawk about herself.
The school day was over, and everyone raced to get as far away from WADD as possible. Everyone except for us.
Copyright © 2019 by Obert Skye