Show and Tell (part 7)

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Eddie paused as he saw Maddie charge down the stairs and around the corner into the basement of the school, and cast his eyes to the ceiling in frustration. She was surely about to get into a world of hurt, but if his father had imparted one thing to him over these years, it was that you never let a friend go into danger alone.

Even when you couldn’t actually fight.

Yes, his father had on more than one occasion suggested –sometimes forcefully– that he join Maddies martial arts classes, but he couldn’t find it in himself to do it. Not that he was a pacifist, it just didn’t feel right. His mother sometimes took his refusals as an opportunity to try to get him to come to the range with her, as she was not only a gold-winning Olympian in the marksmanship sports, but quite famous in the Single Action Sports Shooting competitions. (She had the reputation of being the modern-day Annie Oakley, but she insisted she was better than that, even.) But this too, didn’t quite fit his style.

Despite all of that, he found himself hurtling his way into the dimly lit basement, hot on Maddie’s tail.

***

As she dashed down the stairs, she felt her heart rate raising, and through her training, her vision became sharper, revealing a figure standing at the end of the hall. Through her heightened senses, she recognized Helga, a sixth-grader who was not only the head of the field hockey team, but the principal’s daughter, and she was prepared for company, holding her hockey stick over her shoulders.

“Well Well. Madison, right?” she sneered, “Hope you’re ready for a whoopin’.”

With a well practiced move, she spun the stick off of her shoulders, and into a ready position.

Maddie grinned. She ate bullies like Helga for breakfast. It seemed weird that she had never come up on her bully radar, though. Regardless, she streaked towards her and leaped with a flying front kick, but was dodged easily. It seemed that she may have underestimated her opponent. She spun her stance, and threw a tornado kick.

As her foot arced towards Helga’s head, she interposed her hockey stick in between them, and a sharp pain flowed up her leg and out of her as a shout of agony, her stick was reinforced! She managed to tumble away and back up, wincing as she put weight on her foot.

“This is no good,” she thought, “I think I fractured my leg.”

“Eddie! Get in there, I got this!” She shouted, and advanced on Helga again.

***

Eddie saw the two of them mix it up with a flash of motion, and Maddie come out worse for the wear. Despite that, she still had the swagger to keep fighting. He sometimes wished he was like that, but as it was, he seriously hoped he wasn’t about to be pulverized by a cranky sixth-grader with a blunt object. Taking advantage of the highly polished linoleum flooring, he dove to the floor as he neared the melee, slid past them and thankfully out of the range of that brutal looking hockey stick. Standing, he approached the door and saw the principal reaching back to take another swing at Maddie’s mother.

Taking a deep breath, he pulled open the door and charged inside.

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Show and Tell (part 5)

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The lunch room was chaos, kids were streaming here and there, finding seats with their friends, creating a cacophony of voices which made it hard to concentrate on his lunch. Just as well, he supposed.

It was meatloaf day, which was by far, the worst of the lunch menu. It was rumored that the meatloaf was the remains of lunches past, ground finely and ketchupped beyond recognition. Even worse (and more unbelievable) was that sometimes, students went missing, and found their way into the meatloaf.

“EDDIE!” Maddie slapped him on the back loudly.

Eddie jumped in fright, “Dangit girl, why can’t you just greet me in a normal way?”

She grinned toothily, “where’s the fun in that?”

Eddie rolled his eyes as his companion dropped her tray of mostly-but-not-completely edible lunch beside his and plopped down beside him. He eyed her as she dug into her meat composite cross section with gusto.

“Blech. You want mine too?”

Before he could finish his sentence, she had speared his from his plate and began working on it.

“Hey, I got a text from the ‘rents, we have to have a parent/teacher conference after school, so don’t make plans.” She mumbled around a mouthful of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

“Aw man. Hope it won’t take too long, If we gotta hang here till it’s done, we might not get any game time in.”

Maddie nodded and shrugged, as she took a pull on her bottle of apple juice. “It is what it is, man. I just hope I’m not in trouble again.”

Eddie raised an eyebrow, “You been fighting again?”

Maddie grinned, “I’m scrappy, what can I say?”

“Bullies?”

“Yeah. You’d think they’d learn by now, they must be new here.”

Eddie snorted, “Mad. You’re ten, stop being a hero, and just enjoy life.”

“Lookit you talking, you’re only eleven, Ed. And only 3 months older than me, don’t get all adult on me,” She shoved the now empty tray away, “besides, I love beating on bullies.”

Eddie sighed, “Yeah, you do.”

***

Susan blinked, and a figure swum into sight as she came to. She tried to rub her aching head, but found that she was tied to a chair.

“Ned!” she called out with her best effort at a shout, but fell somewhat short and only managed a raspy mumble.

Her husband grunted, and looked around. “Sue, what happened?”

“I happened,” Principal Thrope said, her voice full of unspoken threat.

“So. Now that the two of you are awake, we can get started.” She unrolled a cloth bundle, revealing various tools, both blunt and sharp.”

“What’s going on here!” Ned shouted, his voice quavering.

“You and I are going to have a conversation,”  she pulled a rubber mallet from the collection of tools.

“Hey, there’s no need for violence. We’ll tell you whatever you want.”

The principal smiled, as if she was just offered a cold glass of lemonaid. “I know you will. But, in order to make sure you’re telling the truth, I’m going to have to use these,” She wiggled the mallet in their direction. “And to make it effective, I’m not going to use it on you, sir,” She pointed it at Susan. “I’m going to use it on her, and you’re going to watch.”

She nodded and his chair was pulled away from his wife’s and turned to face her.

“Well then, shall we get started?” she paused and lifted Susan’s chin, staring her in the eye, she leaned in and whispered into her ear, “just so you know, this is going to hurt him a lot more than it’ll hurt you.”

 

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Show and Tell (Part 4)

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By the time homeroom rolled around, Maddie’s stomach was growling. She was normally one to sneak a snack, but the whole superhero thing had her surrounded on all sides every time she had a free moment.

Maddie knew that something had just gone wrong, as the crowd around her shut up in unison, and a beat later scattered in all directions, leaping to their assigned seats. Turning, she saw Miss Meanor glaring at her and cringed. Time had taught her that being on the bad side of this particular teacher was a bad idea, not that she was a troublemaker by any means, just that she was perceptive enough to realize what was about to happen, if she didn’t throw some spin into play.

“Well hello Miss Meanor, boy am I glad to see you!”

Her homeroom teacher stared at her, nonplussed.

“Well,” she pressed on “I brought this in, and was hoping we could do a little show and tell.”

The teacher glanced at the scrapbook, and back to Maddie.

She scowled and held her hand out. “I’m going to have to look at it first.”

Beaming, Maddie closed it and placed it into the proffered hand, “Thank you!”

Returning to her desk, she dropped it in front of her and flipped it open. The color drained from her face, and she flipped through it faster until she suddenly stopped, leaped to her feet and clasped a hand over her mouth.

“Madison, are these…”

Maddie grinned, “yeah! They’re my parents!”

Miss Meanor dashed towards the door, but spun on her heel, snagged the scrapbook, and pointed to the class and shouted, “nobody move!” before disappearing into the hall.

***

Miss Meanor threw open the door and rushed into the principal’s office.

The principal, a middle aged woman with a severe appearance glanced up with a dangerous look, “Is something the matter, Dee?”

She nodded quickly, and shoved the book in front of her boss, pointing to the picture that had captured her attention.

“…Is that?”

“Madison Grey. She said it was her parents.”

“Which ones?”

“Does it matter?”

“No. Not really. I’ll take care of this. You get back to class,” she closed the book and passed it back to Dee, who scurried back to her classroom, slamming the door on her way out.

The principal picked up the phone and pressed a button.

“Edna? I need you to call in the parents of Madison Grey, 5th grade. Pronto.”

With a satisfied grunt, she hung up the phone and leaned back in her chair.

“After all these years…”

 

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Show and Tell (Part 3)

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Having figured out the gimmick to make the secret panel close again, the two of them snuck the scrapbook into Maddie’s room, where the two of them pored over its contents carefully.

“I can’t believe it! Our parents were superheroes!” She squealed.

“I know! We gotta show our friends! They’re going to be so jelly!”

“Supa jelly!” Maddie nodded, closing it with finality and shoving it under her pillow.

“Tomorrow then?”

A car horn tooted twice in quick succession.

“Ah! Your mom’s here. Check your place to see if your parents have anything.” She spun Eddie around and shoved him out the door of her room.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m on it.” Eddie waved as he snagged his book bag from the couch and headed out.

***

“Hey Mad,” Eddie said as his best friend slid into the bench of the cafeteria table beside him, “You bring it?”

“You betcha,” she grinned, “Ready to get this show on the road?”

He grinned manically, mimicking her “You betcha.”

A few minutes later, the two of them had a large crowd of students around them jockeying for the best spot to see the scrapbook. Even before the first bell had rung, the entire school had heard about it, which suited Maddie just fine, because neither of them had ever really been the center of attention of anything.

“Hey, Maddie,” Julie whispered, “Are your parents still superheroes?”

Maddie shook her head, “I’m pretty sure they retired, my dad is an IT manager. I can’t really imagine him going out and fighting crime anymore. It’s a career for the young, you know. He’s almost thirty-five.”

“Wow, that’s old.”

“Yeah, but he’s still active.”

Julie nodded as if she had grasped something deep and wandered away.

“Ah, I’ll see you at lunch, Eddie. Gotta get to science class,” Maddie closed the notebook, and shoved it under her arm.

“OK, Mad. I have something to show you too.” Eddie held his fist out, and it was met with Maddie’s, “Later chick.”

***

Mr. Horowicz tapped the blackboard with his pointer.

“And if you move further into the solioquy, you’ll see more phrases that have been taken into common usage. For example, Here, where it says  ‘When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,’ and further down, ‘The undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns’ Who can tell me how these were used in pop culture in the late twentieth century?”

Eddie had only been listening with half an ear, as he had been fiddling with a gadget that he had snuck off of the utility belt of the costume in Maddie’s closet.

“Mister Polowski!”

Eddie jumped up, the unknown gadget tumbling to the floor where it began to slowly unfold.

“Ah, yes. There’s a Star Trek reference there, sir.”

Mr. Horowicz glowered at Eddie for a moment, then glanced to the floor where the device had unfolded to reveal itself as some sort of a mini drone, “Yes, that’s right. Do I really have to tell you that we don’t allow toys in class?

The bell rang, and the class immediately began to leave, causing Eddie to snatch the drone up, to keep it from being trampled inadvertently by his classmates.

“S-sorry! I forgot I had it with me.”

His teacher grunted and dismissed him with a wave, which Eddie gratefully accepted, grabbed his things, and joined the press of bodies heading into the hall.

 

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A New Tome is Found (part 3)

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The elevator doors slowly opened, as if tired, and although unheard, I could almost imagine a ‘phew’ of exertion from it as the doors opened, and the heat from the office washed into the elevator.

As I entered the office, all eyes were riveted on the book in my arms.

The Professor squinted at it warily.

“EmJay, is that…”

I shrugged.

“You tell me.”

Ramon cleared his throat, “Which one is it? We have the Cookbook, so…”

I dropped it on the large desk, the cold it radiated generated light fog which dripped down the edge, to the floor.

The boss leaned over it, chewing her lip as she pondered.

“The Economicon, eh? I think that’s a bit fishy.” She bent to open the book but thought better of it at the last second.
“Want me to ask Hartwood?” Jane enquired.

“Mmh. No,” The Professor returned to her desk and fished through her drawer. “Let’s call Kwok in.”

Pulling a wand from her desk, she stroked it several times, causing it to emit different colors with each stroke. Once it glowed canary yellow, she tapped the book, which slowly began glowing the same shade of yellow.

“It’s safe. Kwok. Now.”

“Yes ma’am,” Jane sat at her desk and flipped through a bulging Rolodex.

“So, you think it’s legit?” I asked, hoping that the answer would be no.

Ramon nodded. “It has the same feel as the Cookbook. Definitely something demonic.”

He opened his messenger’s satchel and pulled out a wooden case. Opening it revealed a well-used art set. With a quick, practiced hand, he sketched a startlingly detailed three-dimensional lockbox and padlock in the center of a magical circle on the surface of the desk. He then reached out and opened it.

“EmJay? If you would…” Ramon gestured grandly to his work.

I nodded and picked up the book and placed it into the lockbox that had until a moment ago, just been a drawing, closed it and closed the wrought iron lock that sat near it, securing it from meddling hands.

“Jane, get that fan on it. We have a new air conditioner for the time being.” The Professor said, turning her attention back to her phone-cum-computer.

Jane shot a thumb up into the air just as she hung up the phone.

“Yes, Boss. Kwok is on his way.” She rose and unplugged the fan, relocating it to the table, then went on a quest for what I assumed was an extension cable.

Now we just have to wait for Mister Kwok.