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Old 10-04-2016, 11:34 PM View Post #1 (Link) The Prism System: Chapter 1
Maple River (Offline)
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I Hung Up on Spider-man

Disclaimer: No real characters were harmed in the making of this book.

If only that were true.

Unfortunately, quite a few characters are hunted down, burned alive, and subjected to a painful amount of New Jerseyan accent throughout this this story. If you happen to be fainthearted to any of these, I won’t hold it against you for bailing out. BUT, if you do decided to end the adventure here, I can genuinely promise that you’ll regret it.

All your wildest fantasies come to life in the Prism System… and maybe even some of your worst nightmares.

Come on, Reader. Do you really want to miss out on that?

~

Mmmmm… smells like pancakes.

That’s what I thought three hours ago. This is three hours later, where you find that I’m still sleeping like a hibernating groundhog in my second favorite place in the world. Yes, I am talking about my bed. It’s cliché, but hey, if you ever find a better place to sleep, then try waking me.

I dare you.

Now, if I had woken up three hours ago, I probably would have had the luxury of enjoying freshly flipped pancakes with first dibs on the whipped cream. Unfortunately, I love sleeping more than food, so my stomach and I don’t get along for obvious reasons.

Oh, my name’s Nova. Nova Reeds. I said my first name twice because that’s what cool people do apparently.

Hmmm… I think this morning of mine needs something exciting. Oh, I’ve got it!

A giant meteor strikes my house.

No. Just kidding. I can’t actually make that happen. You shouldn’t either, not even if you’re gifted the ability to warp reality.

I don’t bother to look of course, but from the quietness of the room I can tell that my life is still void of any excitement. And my house is still in one piece, so yeah. The older sister is already awake, which is too bad. It continues to surprise me how alive people can be sometimes. I mean, where does my sister find the energy to get up this early? There aren’t enough hours in the night as it is. Makeup time isn’t worth it.

I know that if I don’t get out of bed soon, one of my five siblings will be assigned the task of dragging me out. Their idea of “tickling” is jabbing me repeatedly in the side with a Nerf sword, and since that thought is disturbing, I quickly uncurl from my bed sheets. Looking down at my pillow, I notice a darker drool splotch where my head was resting. I should probably wash it, is what I think. What I do is flip my pillow over to the other side.

Problem solved.

I poke my head over the edge of my bunk bed railing. I was right, the Princess of Pink is gone. It’s no exaggeration when I call my sister that; everything on the floor in and around her bed is that awful shade of bleh. Since I called the top bunk of our shared bed, she dictated that everything from her half down belonged to her, which means I get the walls and ceiling. Joke’s on her. I’m Batman. The ceiling is my natural habitat.

I pull myself over the railing, and instead of using the metal ladder linking my territory to her’s, I simply fall to the floor.

Why? Because the meteor I asked for didn’t hit and I need something “death-defying” to fill that gap in my life.

After my daring landing, I ninja over all the scattered junk on the floor, imagining the fashion magazines to be landmines and the comic books to be endangered species that have wandered out of their wildlife preserve. Avoiding the bathroom, for the sake of deadly cliché-haters everywhere, I quickly throw on the first thing I see laying around my room: an Avengers t-shirt and cargo pants.

I basically let my hair go, figuring that it’ll eventually sink into its long straightened form eventually. The fact that I’m wearing a tumbleweed on my head for half the day doesn’t bother me as much as most. I usually forget my hair even exists.

Finished with my five-minute morning routine (thank the plotlines that it doesn’t take longer) I proceed with stealth across my carpeted floor. I successfully make it halfway, but all it takes is once quick glance at my underwhelming amount of hobbies to trigger my spider-sense. Literally, my bed is stuffed with nothing but comic books and novels.

In short, the wave of reality hits hard.

This particular wave only hits me when: One, I zone out at the beach and I don’t see it coming. Two, it decides to pop in on a sunny day and rain on my parade.

Today, reality tells me I have no purpose in life except to eat, sleep, read, and cry over character deaths. And I never cry unless it’s my favorite character.

What? It’s not like you would give a flying waffle cone if the obnoxious jerk tragically died halfway through the story!

But honestly? Reality says a lot of baloney that I frankly don’t care about, so I tend to steer away from it. Both reality and baloney.

My point is that reading is basically my life. I've been surrounded by books ever since I was pulled out of school in second grade. So like all the other fabled home schoolers, I go to school in my pajamas, wake up whenever I want, and watch TV for recess.

Sure, and all public schoolers are destined to work part-time at McDonalds.

What being home schooled actually means is this: from Eragon, to Sherlock Holmes, to every Spider-man comic in existence, I’ve read it all. I've built my kingdoms and fantasies from these books, and most of the time my mind is there and not here.

Snapping out of my sudden off-track thoughts, I head towards my bedroom’s exit. I try to ease myself back into Nova Land (Nova Scotia to be precise) as I open the door to the kitchen.

Where I immediately get attacked by a bloodthirsty wolf.

Oh yes, this actually happens.

“Hey!” I half-yell, half-laugh as the black Husky mix covers my face with sloppy wet kisses. “I love you too, Caspian!” I say as I ruffle his big donkey ears. “But I’m hungry, so down boy!” The dog gets in a few more licks before finally listening to my command, because I would suspect him to be an alien if he actually responded to his obedience training for once.

As I wipe off the doggy drool with my arm, I hear a gag of disgust from the kitchen.

“I can’t believe you let him do that!” The voice of condescending love exclaims, “That dog’s tongue has been places, you know.”

My sister. The ray of sunshine.

Feet purposefully drag as I make my way to the kitchen, where seventeen year old Sunny—no, I’m not tripping you—is leaning over the counter, phone in hand. For a reason that’s beyond me, she’s playing dress-up again, wearing a rosy pink dress, painfully high heels that defy all common sense, and a tiara if you’ll believe it. She usually does this when no one’s around (to laugh) or she’s bored out of her mind. Emphases on out of her mind. But even so, the feather boa is overkill for a lazy Saturday.

My eyes travel from Sunny’s clothes to her hands, where a cell phone with a pink rhinestone case is being clutched. The diva brushes her styled blonde hair out of her gray eyes, which are loaded with mascara and eyeshadow. When she blinks, you can see a cloud of makeup billowing through the air. I’m tempted to cough, but unlike some people, I know how to keep my opinions to myself.

It’s almost ironic that my whole family is make up of blondies… all except me, of course. I’m the hazel sheep of the family. Seriously, hazel hair, hazel eyes, hazel freckles. It could be better. It could be worse, but I frankly just like saying the word hazel. I’m not complaining. Average isn’t so bad when you’re not trying to impress anyone.

Now, where was I? Oh, right! My comeback!

“You’re just jealous that Caspian loves me more than you,” I mutter as I search the counter for pancakes.

Sunny looks up from her phone for a split second to glance at me, then goes back to the device. “Please, I don’t need some dog to love me. I’m not that desperate.”

You’ve got to wonder what kind of person doesn’t want to be loved by a dog. I think she was trying to insult me or something, but I’m too busy looking for pancakes right now to care. I somehow find it difficult to be offended by toxic clouds.

Giving up on the kitchen counter, I turn to my sister, eyes blazing with passion for pancakes. “Were are they, Sunny?”

She all but ignores me, then finally mumbles, “Where's what?”

“The pancakes.”

The blonde shoots me a raised eyebrow, and says, “You’re eating pancakes for lunch?”
I stop from making a quick remark back when I realize she says “lunch”. Confused, I look at the digital clock on the microwave, which clearly states 12:16 PM. Whoops. I turn back to my sister and shrug my lazy shrug. “Call it brunch.”

Sunny does the teenager roll of the eyes thing and reports, “Gosh, Nova. You’re, like, fifteen already. If you keep eating pancakes for lunch, you’ll get totally fat.”

Who the cliché cares? Not me. Granted, people who don’t think about their weight are as rare as leprechauns on the fourth of July, but all you got to do is look in the clearance aisle. We’re still here. Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly a healthy life style, but I like eating pancakes for lunch, so no sass talker in the world is going to keep me from eating breakfast foods whenever I want.

I am roused from my inner brainstorming by Sunny’s waving her hand in my face. Apparently I haven’t been responding to reality for a dangerous amount of time.

“Yes?” I say to my sister in my best “totally alive” voice. “You waved?”

The blonde simply rolls her eyes and somehow doesn’t go back to denying my existence. “The boys ate all the pancakes, since you asked. It’s a good thing, too. Saves me breathe I could have wasted lecturing you.”

I stand speechless at the abrupt change in subject. But the real reason my mouth has ceased to work is because my sister almost sounds like she cares. I say almost because she also insulted me to cover it up, but could it be that Sunny has—gasp—a soul?

“It’s not like I could get through to you, anyhow. You have the brain of a five year old.”

Aaaaand that’s the sass I was waiting for. I’m pretty sure I would have a heart attack if Sunny suddenly started worrying about my wellbeing. Mostly because I don’t like being, say, cared about. It’s weird, I know, but it just makes me all squeamish when people are too nice me.

So I decide to ignore the jibe at my “everything” in utmost confidence that my “everything” is awesome, and settle for eating an apple out of the fruit basket.

Distracted—the word that sums up my life—I look around the strangely emptied house. Right about now, at least one of my four brothers should have torn through the kitchen yelling, “Aliens are attacking! Fire the catapult!” But besides the click of Sunny’s fingernails tapping against her phone, all is quiet.

“Hey,” I ask my sister, “Where is everyone?”

Sunny neglects to answer my question until she’s finished checking her social media. “Mercury’s in his room. Jupi and Pluto are at the park with Mom. Mars is in the driveway selling snacks.”

If you haven’t noticed by now, all of my siblings are named after the solar system. But if you seriously haven’t noticed, I’d suggest you see your science teacher about your grades.
The space theme is because my Dad is an astrophysicist (studies giant rocks floating around in space), which is ironic since I loathe science almost as much as I loathe poorly written clichés—such as my life. All six of us would have been named after some planetary body if my Mom hadn’t put her foot down on giving at least one of her kids a normal-sounding name. My parents met halfway, and decided on Nova. Compared to all my siblings’ names, I’d say I got the best one.

Mercury is the oldest—and smartest—of all the kids, next being Sunny, then me, then Mars, then Jupiter, and finally Pluto. Let me make it clear, that the level of intelligence among siblings is not in that exact order. The day Pluto was declared “not actually a planet”, my Dad panicked and actually considered taking my youngest brother to get his name changed to Uranus.

Yeah… Mom would have none of that.

So all of us agreed to never tell Pluto that he’s actually named after a giant asteroid. At least until he’s old enough not to throw a temper tantrum... or break Dad’s miniature model replica. That poor kid. Just another reason to loathe science; it can never make up its mind.

My daydreaming is interrupted by the ringing of my cellphone sitting on the kitchen counter. Now, you need to understand that my cellphone ringing isn’t just an everyday thing. In fact, the purpose of it besides just sitting there and looking shiny escapes me. Case in point: it never rings.

Which is why both Sunny and I stare at it as we would a live grenade.

“What do I do? Should I touch it?” I ask with absolute terror in my voice.

My sister snaps out of her shock to bark at me, “Well don’t just sit there! Answer it!”

My hand bolts to retrieve the ringing grenade, and I quickly answer without checking the caller.

I probably should have checked the caller.

“Is this Nova Reeds?”

I squint warily at the familiar voice. “Yeeeees?”

“Oh good. This is Parker from the library, we met a few times?”

My mind instantly fills in the blanks. “Oh yeah! You’re that newbie part-timer with the snack obsession! Spider-man, right?”

“For the last time, my name is Caleb Parker, not Peter Parker.”

“But that’s only what you want people to think!”

“I’m Jewish.”

“So? Spider-man can be Jewish!”

“Just stop, please. This is ridiculous.”

“You’re in denial.”

“I’m in reality.”

I mutter grouchily at him for mentioning the unmentionable, and “Caleb” changes the subject.

“You’re not coming to the library today, are you?”

“What kind of question is that? Didn't Miss Lovejoy tell you that I go there every Saturday?”

“Things are a little hectic right now. It might not be such a good idea.”

I take a bite of my apple, but continue talking regardless. “Did the microwave blow up again?”

“No, Nova. The microwave did not blow up again.”

“So I don’t see the problem.”

Parker sighs heavily through the phone, and I can practically hear the stress in his voice. “Please? Cut some slack for the new guy. It would be better if you didn’t come today.”

I stop to think for a second. Parker is one of the newest interns at the library, and he’s not a very confident person, from what I can tell. He usually lets just about anyone Irish jig all over him. Maybe he’s calling because Miss Lovejoy is piling too much work on him, and having me around might cause another incident like the microwave exploding.

But it was sort of his fault. You never ask a fifteen year old how to work a mystical box from ancient times.

Deciding on this conclusion, I answer sympathetically, “Okay, listen. I know it’s gotta be crazy working for Miss Lovejoy, since she’s so passionate about her job and everything, but I’ve been waiting all week to finish my book. The suspense is killing me right now, so there’s no way I’m passing up a perfectly good Saturday.”

The phone goes silent for what feels like forever, then Parker finally speaks up. “You could just borrow books like everyone else, you know.”

“Seriously?”

“What? Is that so wrong?”

“You must be new.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Since I am personally a sucker for cliffhangers, I end the call without answering Parker’s nagging question. It’s not his fault, really. He couldn’t possibly understand my reasons for refusing to take books home. In fact, the only people who I’ve explained it to are Miss Lovejoy and my brother Mars. The rest of my family are especially confused by it, since we actually have a library card if I ever wanted to borrow a book.

I’m also a sucker for hidden motives.

Wiping the stickiness off on my pants, I ditch my apple core and head for the front door. With the intention of getting to the library early just for the sake of interrogating Parker about his suspicious behavior, my hand reaches for the door knob. But before it can acquire its target, a different door to my parents’ room swings open.

“Nova!” I flinch at the sound of my Dad’s voice. “Did you finish your science project yet?”

Loathe, loathe, loathe, loathe. “Um, I’m getting to it?” I ask more than answer. Dad doesn’t like my question.

“Novaaaaa,” He draws out my name like I’m a misbehaving puppy—Caspian for example. “You’re not going anywhere until that science project is finished. You’ve held it off for long enough. It gets done today.”

I’m about to put up a fight, when I notice how disheveled my father looks. His sandy hair is poking up in all directions, and his reading glasses are tilted at an odd angle. Being a work-at-home dad means he gets to regulate his own hours, but my dad is a very dependable workaholic. Even so, it seems even superheroes slip up sometimes, because it looks like I’m not the only one who decided to sleep in today.

I sigh and pull my hand back from the door knob. There’s no monkey business in this house when it comes to science, especially when your father lives and breathes the stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy more than pancakes... but my project has nothing to do with outer space! Dad has an obligation to all the scientific arts that his daughter grows up to be a well learned lab coat.

Hence, the rinse cycle of my school life.

Defeated, I shuffle back to my room and sit at my desk. I flip open my laptop and create a space on my cluttered desk for whatever horrors might spawn there. My eyelids flicker from the initial morning—cough—afternoon drowsiness, and I pull out a notebook from my desk drawer.

Spider-man might just get his request after all.

~~~

Caleb Parker groaned as the tell-tale click of the phone announced that Nova had just hung up on him. Again. For some reason, she never actually bothered to finish a single conversation with the head librarian’s assistant. Probably because of her annoying love of cliffhangers.

Except this time she was in danger. So Parker wasn’t about to give up.

The college student went to dial the number again, but was stopped by the hand of his supervisor. Miss Lovejoy.

“Parker, my dear boy.” The woman smiled good-naturedly. “Don’t forget to post the new Character Community Guidelines on the announcement board before closing.” Her smile wavers for a moment as she notices the phone in the young man’s grip. “Who are you calling at this time of day?”

He didn’t know why, but Parker was very hesitant to answer Miss Lovejoy’s honest question. Maybe it had something to do with the strange look in her eyes. The look that said she was up to something dangerous.

“Well.” Parker nervously lowered his gaze. “I figured, since Nova usually stays late on Saturdays, she might be in danger if she got caught in the System by accident.”

A sudden flash of panic darted across the librarian’s eyes, and she snapped, “Did you tell her off? Is she not coming?”

Surprised, Parker took a step back to ensure that Miss Lovejoy didn’t bite off his head. The woman was the very definition of cheerful, so this sudden change in demeanor was worrisome. He had rarely seen this aggressive side of her before.

“I tried to warn her,” Parker defended with palms raised. “But she turned me down.”

The tenseness in her shoulders disappeared, and Miss Lovejoy smiled in relief. “That’s good to hear.”

Parker blinked in shock. “Are you serious?” The student raised his voice, defying his meek personality. “You want Nova to show up? Even after the massacre?”

Miss Lovejoy’s glare cut him sharply, and she whispered, “Not so loud. There are people about.”

Realizing their situation, Parker cautiously looked around the library. Thankfully, no one had heard his outburst. But he wasn’t finished yet.

“This is a very irresponsible thing to do. Involving a Reader could only make things worse. Are you even considering the danger your putting Nova in?”

Parker instantly felt guilty about accusing his supervisor, as her sad expression turned his stomach.

“I know you can’t understand the position I’m in right now, and I don’t expect you to. But Nova may be the only solution.”

Caleb Parker lowered his head and stared at his shoes. None of it seemed fair. Why couldn’t one of the librarians handle the situation? Why not call up the Wiseacre, since this was his expertise? Why Nova?

“But she’s just a normal kid.”

Miss Lovejoy placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, which encouraged him to lift his eyes to her’s. The look was there again, except this time, it held an exited spark. One that stared death in the face… and laughed.

“She may be normal in appearance, but when it comes to the imagination, who better to send than a Reader?”
  
						Last edited by Maple River; 11-03-2016 at 07:33 PM.
					
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Old 10-06-2016, 09:42 PM View Post #2 (Link)
Apocalypse (Offline)
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I began doing a critique for this but I am awfully tired. I will continue tomorrow. This is what I've done so far:

I read a bit of this before starting my critique, and let me say that it sounds hilarious. I loved it as far as I got to and now I'll continue but whilst critiquing. Because it's worth the read.

Suggestions/Comments.
Grammar/Spelling corrections.
Things I think you should remove.

Originally Posted by Maple River View Post
Brunching on Pancakes

Mmmmm… smells like pancakes.

That’s what I thought three hours ago. This is three hours later, where you find that I’m still sleeping like a hibernating groundhog in my second favorite place in the world. Yes, I am talking about my bed. I know, I know, how cliché of me, right? But hey, if you ever find a better place to sleep, then try waking me.

I dare you. I like you.

Now, if I had woken up three hours ago, I probably would have had the luxury of enjoying freshly flipped pancakes with first dibs on the whipped cream. Unfortunately, I love sleeping more than food, so my stomach and I don’t get along for obvious reasons. *Giggles*

Oh, my name’s Brooke. Brooke Reeds. I said my first name twice because that’s what cool people do apparently. Not that I would know.

Oh, for the love of batarangs, my morning is so average it hurts! Can we forget about that introduction? It never happened! Here, I’ll make it up to you. Repetition of "Oh" but it's kind of okay. The character is so personal and up-close to me, I didn't mind much... but the grammar/critic Nazi in me had to mention it.

A giant meteor strikes my house.

No. Just kidding. I can’t actually make that happen. *Giggles some more*

I don’t bother to look of course, but from the quietness of the room, I can tell that my life is still void of any excitement. And my house is still in one piece, so yeah. The older sister is already awake, which gets rid of my chances to commit a felony upon her face with a hefty load of whipped cream.

Yes, I am that evil. You should hear my maniacal laugh. It's awesome. should be maybe added here?

It continues to surprise me how alive people can be sometimes. I mean, where does my sister find the energy to get up this early? There aren’t enough hours in the night as it is. Makeup time isn’t worth it. I'm down with this. Like, a thousand percent. Seriously.

I know that if I don’t get out of bed soon, one of my five siblings will be assigned the task of dragging me out. Since that thought is terrifying, I uncurl from my bed sheets. Looking down at my pillow, I notice a darker drool splotch where my head was resting. I should probably wash it, is what I think. What I do is flip my pillow over to the other side. This paragraph is a masterpiece of elaborate showing with funny narrative and I love it.

Problem solved.

I poke my head over the edge of my bunk[space]bed railing. I was right, the Princess of Pink is gone. It’s no exaggeration when I call my sister that; everything on the floor in and around her bed is that awful shade of bleh. Can you please recheck that underlined part? I don’t want to judge, but seriously, bleh. Since I called the top bunk of our shared bed, she dictated that everything from her half down belonged to her, which means I get the walls and ceiling, naturally. Joke’s on her. I get to hang up all my superhero memorabilia that way.

I pull myself over the railing, and instead of using the metal ladder linking my territory to her’s hers, I simply fall to the floor.

Why? Because the meteor I asked for didn’t hit and I need something death-defying to fill that gap in my life.

After my daring landing, I ninja over all the scattered junk on the floor, imagining the fashion magazines to be landmines and the comic books to be endangered species that have wandered out of their wildlife preserve. Upon entering the connecting bathroom, I quickly throw on the first thing I see in the closet: an Avengers t-shirt and cargo pants.

As you can tell, I was born with a questionable yet awesome sense of fashion.

Last but most surely the least, is my hair brushing routine. This is a once-a-day thing for me, because I usually forget my hair exists after looking in the mirror in the morning.

When I finally unstick the strands of Tweety Bird’s nest from my face, I see what I see every day. Hazel hair, hazel eyes, hazel freckles. It could be better. It could be worse. But I frankly just like saying the word hazel. I’m not complaining. Average isn’t so bad when you’re not trying to impress anyone.

Although, I’ve been dubbed the hippy of the family by my siblings, since I refuse to let anyone cut my hair. What can I say? I avoid conversations at the salons with a passion. It’s not Rapunzel long, just to the middle of my back long.

Oh, and if anyone asks, I’ll deny ever putting myself and a princess in the same sentence.

I quickly brush my hair until it’s mostly knot-free, then wonder whether or not I should put it in a ponytail. Well, I am biking to the library later, so I might as well.

Efficiency is a virtue that I rarely use, but the library is the only exception.

Finished with my five-minute use of the bathroom (thank the plotlineslines that it doesn’t take longer), I proceed with stealth across my carpeted floor. I successfully make it halfway, but all it takes is once one quick glance at my underwhelming amount of hobbies to trigger my spider-sense. Literally, my bed is stuffed with nothing but comic books and novels.

In short, the wave of reality hits hard.

This particular wave only hits me when: One, I zone out at the beach and I don’t see it coming. Two, it decides to pop in on a sunny day and rain on my parade.

Today, reality tells me I have no purpose in life except to eat, sleep, read, and cry over character deaths. And I never cry unless it’s my favorite character.

What? It’s not like you would give a flying waffle cone if the obnoxious jerk tragically died halfway through the story!

But honestly? Reality says a lot of baloney that I frankly don’t care about, so I tend to steer away from it. Both reality and baloney.

My point is that reading is basically my life. I've been surrounded by books ever since I was pulled out of school in second grade. So like all the other fabled home schoolers, I go to school in my pajamas, wake up whenever I want, and watch TV for recess.

Sure, and pancakes sprout wings and fly south for the winter.

What being home schooled actually means is this: from Eragon, to Sherlock Holmes, to every Spider-man comic in existence, I’ve read it all. I've built my kingdoms and fantasies from these books, and most of the time my mind is there and not here.

That isn’t exactly a good thing. Apparently, it’s a pretty big deal when you forget your only sister’s birthday.
Snapping out of my sudden off-track thoughts, I head towards my bedroom’s exit. I try to forget the whole experience as I open the door to the kitchen.

Where I immediately get attacked by a bloodthirsty wolf.

Oh yes, this actually happens.

“Hey!” I half-yell, half-laugh as the black Husky mix covers my face with sloppy wet kisses. “I love you too, Caspian!” I say as I ruffle his big donkey ears. “But I’m hungry, so down boy!” The dog gets in a few more licks before finally listening to my command, because I would suspect him to be an alien if he actually responded to his obedience training for once. I like to joke that Caspian is my one and only love.

Because that’s not weird at all.

As I wipe off the doggy drool with my arm, I hear a gag of disgust from the kitchen.

“I can’t believe you let him do that!” The voice of condescending love exclaims, “That dog’s tongue has been places you don’t want to know.”

My sister. The ray of sunshine.

Feet purposefully drag as I make my way to the kitchen, where seventeen-year-old Sunny—no, I’m not tripping you—is leaning over the counter, phone in hand. For a reason that’s beyond me, she’s playing dress-up again, wearing a frilly pink dress, painfully high heels that defy all common sense, and a tiara if you’ll believe it. She usually does this when no one’s around (to laugh) or she’s bored out of her mind. But even so, the feather boa is overkill for a lazy Saturday.

My eyes travel from Sunny’s clothes to her hands, where a cell phone with a pink rhinestone case is being clutched. She probably texting her friends, because she’s the kind of normal teenager who has them and not books.

The diva brushes her styled blonde hair out of her gray eyes, which are loaded with mascara and eyeshadow. When she blinks, you can see a cloud of makeup billowing through the air. I’m tempted to cough, but unlike some people, I know how to keep my opinions to myself.

“You’re just jealous that Caspian loves me more than you,” I mutter as I search the counter for pancakes.

Sunny looks up from her phone for a split second to glance at me, then goes back to the device. “Please, I don’t need some dog to love me. I’m not that desperate.”

You’ve got to wonder what kind of person doesn’t want to be loved by a dog. I think she was trying to insult me or something, but I’m too busy looking for pancakes right now to care. It must be my unoffendable nature to be unoffended by toxic clouds.

Giving up on the kitchen counter, I scout the fridge for my Saturday morning breakfast. Hoorah! Pancakes! I pull out the plate of wrapped deliciousness and sit them on the counter victoriously. Sunny opens her mouth yet again.

“You’re eating pancakes for lunch?”

I stop from making a quick remark back when I realize she says “lunch”. Confused, I look at the digital clock on the microwave, which clearly states 12:16 PM. Whoops. I turn back to my sister and shrug my lazy shrug. “Call it brunch.”

Sunny does the teenager roll of the eyes thing and reports, “Gosh, Brooke. You’re, like, fifteen already. If you keep eating pancakes for lunch, you’ll get totally fat.”

Who the cliché cares? Not me. Granted, people who don’t think about their weight are as rare as leprechauns on the fourth of July, but all you got to do is look in the clearance aisle. We’re still here. Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly a healthy life style, but I like eating pancakes for lunch, so no sass talker in the world is going to keep me from eating breakfast foods whenever I want.

Plus, I have this theory that perfect people are actually manufactured in China with all the other Barbie and Ken dolls. And every once and awhile the evil scientists try to pass them off as humans and introduce them to the real world. The only problem is, the human Barbies have terrible personalities. So we inevitably end up with the celebrities we have today.

I am roused from my inner brainstorming by Sunny’s waving her hand in my face. Apparently I haven’t been responding to reality for a dangerous amount of time.

“Yes?” I say to my sister in my best “totally alive” voice. “You waved?”
The blonde simply rolls her eyes and somehow doesn’t go back to denying my existence. “You’re so weird, you know that?” Sunny manages to sound even more annoyed than usual.

Surprised that my older sister actually wants to have a real conversation with me, I reply in self-defense, “Yeah, says the teenager still playing princess.”

“Don’t judge, lazy pants. You should just stop shunning the whole girly-girl thing and care about yourself for once.”

I stand speechless at the abrupt change in subject. But the real reason my mouth has ceased to work is because my sister almost sounds like she cares. I say almost because she also insulted me to cover it up, but it was so sudden and impossible to miss.

“Of course, no one would notice anyways. You’ll still have the brain of a five-year-old.”

Aaaaand that’s the sass I was waiting for. I’m pretty sure I would have a heart attack if Sunny suddenly started worrying about my wellbeing. Mostly because I don’t like being, say, cared about. It’s weird, I know, but it just makes me all squeamish when people are too nice me.

So I decide to ignore the jibe at my “everything” in utmost confidence that my “everything” is awesome, and continue to peel a pancake from its plastic wrap. All I need to do is throw it in the microwave, and I get three hours of my life back.

I place the pancake in the microwave, start the timer, and look around the strangely emptied house. Right about now, at least one of my four brothers should have torn through the kitchen yelling, “I made a rainbow with milk and food dye!” But besides the click of Sunny’s fingernails tapping against her phone, all is quiet.

“Hey,” I ask my sister, “Where is everyone?”

Being a teenager, Sunny neglects to answer my question until she’s finished checking her social media. By then, my pancake is finished. “Mercury’s in his room. Jupi and Pluto are at the park with Mom. Mars is in the driveway selling snacks.” From the way she says it, Sunny sounds like a drill sergeant giving orders, except in a sassy rebellious sort of way.

I nod at Sunny’s answer, and sit down at the counter with my pancake. If you haven’t noticed by now, all of my siblings are named after the solar system. But if you seriously haven’t noticed, I’d suggest you see your science teacher about your grades.

The space theme is because my Dad is an astrophysicist (studies giant rocks floating around in space), which is ironic since I loathe science almost as much as I loathe poorly written clichés—such as my life. All six of us would have been named after some planetary body if my Mom hadn’t put her foot down on giving at least one of her kids a normal name. So that’s how I get stuck with Brooke. Compared to all my siblings’ names, I’m the most average.

It’s ironic seeing how unique I am, but then again, I love irony. So kudos to Mom.

Now that my pancake has cooled down, I can put on all the whip cream without it melting off. I love whipped cream. No pancake is complete without it. Fitting almost half of my breakfast in my mouth, I look towards the door to Mercury’s room.

He’s probably on his laptop studying or something, I figure, chewing my pancake.

Mercury is the oldest—and smartest—of all the kids, next being Sunny, then me, then Mars, then Jupiter, and finally Pluto. The day Pluto was declared “not actually a planet”, my Dad panicked and actually considered taking my youngest brother to get his name changed to Uranus.

Yeah… Mom would have none of that.

So all of us agreed to never tell Pluto that he isn’t actually a part of our solar system until he’s old enough not to throw a temper tantrum... or break Dad’s miniature model replica. That poor kid. Just another reason to loathe science; it can never make up its mind.

My daydreaming is interrupted by the ringing of my cellphone sitting on the kitchen counter. Now, you need to understand that my cellphone ringing isn’t just an everyday thing. In fact, the purpose of it besides just sitting there and looking shiny escapes me. Case in point: it never rings.

Which is why both Sunny and I stare at it as we would a live grenade.

“Should I touch it?” I ask with absolute terror in my voice.

My sister snaps out of her shock to bark at me, “Well don’t just sit there! Answer it!”

My hand bolts to retrieve the ringing grenade, and I quickly answer without checking the caller.

I probably should have checked the caller.

“Is this Brooke Reeds?”

I squint warily at the familiar voice. “Yeeeees?”

“Oh good. This is Parker from the library, we met a few times?”

The wall clock ticks as my mind fills in the blanks. “Oh yeah! You’re the newbie librarian who spilled coffee all over me! Spider-man, right?”

“For the last time, my name is Caleb Parker, not Peter Parker.”

“But that’s only what you want people to think!”

“I’m Jewish.”

“So? Spider-man can be Jewish!”

“Just stop, please. This is ridiculous.”

“You’re in denial.”

“I’m in reality.”

I mutter grouchily at him for mentioning the unmentionable, and “Caleb” changes the subject.

“You’re not coming to the library today, are you?”

“What kind of question is that? Everyone knows I go there every Saturday.”

“Yeah, but things are a little hectic right now. It might not be such a good idea.”

I take a smaller bite of my pancake, but continue talking regardless. “Did the microwave blow up again?”

“No, Brooke. The microwave did not blow up again.”

“So I don’t see the problem.”

Parker sighs heavily through the phone, and I can practically hear the stress in his voice. “Please? Cut some slack for the new guy. It would be better if you didn’t come today.”

I stop to think for a second, then answer sympathetically, “Okay, listen. I know it’s gotta be crazy working for Miss Lovejoy, since she’s so passionate about her job and everything, but I’ve been waiting all week to finish my book. The suspense is killing me right now. So there’s no way I’m passing up a perfectly good Saturday.”

The phone goes silent for what feels like forever, then Parker finally speaks up. “You could just borrow books like everyone else, you know.”

“Seriously?”

“What? Is that so wrong?”

“You must be new.”

“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?”

Since I am personally a sucker for cliffhangers, I end the call without answering Parker’s nagging question. It’s not his fault, really. He couldn’t possibly understand my reasons for refusing to take books home. In fact, the only people who I’ve explained it to are Miss Lovejoy and my brother Mars. The rest of my family are especially confused by it, since we actually have a library card if I ever wanted to borrow a book.

I’m also a sucker for hidden motives. Go figure.

Licking off the whipped cream from around my mouth, I ditch my plate and head for the front door. With the intention of getting to the library early just for the sake of interrogating Parker about his suspicious behavior, my hand reaches for the door knob. But before it can acquire its target, the door to my parents’ room swings open.

“Brooke!” I flinch at the sound of my Dad’s voice. “Did you finish your science project yet?”

Loathe, loathe, loathe, loathe. “Um, I’m getting to it?” I ask more than answer. Dad doesn’t like my question.

“Brooooke,” He draws out my name like I’m a misbehaving puppy—Caspian for example. “You’re not going anywhere until that science project is finished. You’ve held it off for long enough. It gets done today.”

I’m about to put up a fight, when I notice how disheveled my father looks. His sandy hair is poking up in all directions, and his reading glasses are tilted at an odd angle. Being a work-at-home dad means he gets to regulate his own hours, but my dad is a very dependable workaholic. But even superheroes slip up sometimes, because it looks like I’m not the only one who decided to sleep in today.

I sigh and pull my hand back from the door knob. There’s no funny business in this house when it comes to science, especially when your father lives and breathes the stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy more than pancakes... but my project has nothing to do with outer space! Dad has an obligation to all the scientific arts that his daughter grows up to be a well learned lab coat.

Hence, the rinse cycle of my school life.

Defeated, I shuffle back to my room and sit at my desk. I flip open my laptop and create a space on my cluttered desk for whatever horrors might spawn there. My eyelids flicker from the initial morning—cough—afternoon drowsiness, and I pull out a notebook from my desk drawer

Spider-man might just get his request after all.

~

Caleb Parker groaned as the tell-tale click of the phone announced that Brooke had just hung up on him. Again. For some reason, she never actually bothered to finish a single conversation with the assistant librarian. Probably because of her annoying love of cliffhangers.

Except this time she was in danger. So Parker wasn’t about to give up.

The college student went to dial the number again, but was stopped by the hand of his supervisor. Miss Lovejoy.

“Parker, my dear boy.” The woman smiled good-naturedly. “Who are you calling at this time of day?”
He didn’t know why, but Parker was very hesitant to answer Miss Lovejoy’s honest question. Maybe it had something to do with the strange look in her eyes. The look that said she was up to something dangerous.

“Well.” Parker nervously lowered his gaze. “I figured, since Brooke usually stays late on Saturdays, she might be in danger if she got caught in the System by accident.”

A sudden flash of panic darted across the head librarian’s eyes, and she snapped, “Did you tell her off? Is she not coming?”

Surprised, Parker took a step back to ensure that Miss Lovejoy didn’t bite off his head. The woman was the very definition of cheerful, so this sudden change in demeanor was worrisome. He had rarely seen this aggressive side of her before.

“I tried to warn her,” Parker defended with palms raised. “But she turned me down.”

The tenseness in her shoulders disappeared, and Miss Lovejoy smiled in relief. “That’s good to hear.”

Parker blinked in shock. “Are you serious?” The student raised his voice, defying his meek personality. “You want Brooke to show up? Even after the massacre?”

Miss Lovejoy’s glare cut him sharply, and she whispered, “Not so loud. There are people about.”

Realizing their situation, Parker cautiously looked around the library. Thankfully, no one had heard his outburst. But he wasn’t finished yet.

“This is a very irresponsible thing to do. Involving a Reader could only make things worse. Are you even considering the danger your putting Brooke in?”

Parker instantly felt guilty about accusing his supervisor, as her sad expression turned his stomach.

“I know you can’t understand the position I’m in right now, and I don’t expect you to. But Brooke may be the only solution.”

Caleb Parker lowered his head and stared at his shoes. None of it seemed fair. Why couldn’t one of the Librarians handle the situation? Why not call up the Wiseacre, since this was his expertise? Why Brooke?

“But she’s just a normal kid.”

Miss Lovejoy placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, which encouraged him to lift his eyes to her’s. The look was there again, except this time, it held an exited spark. One that laughed at danger.

“She may be normal in appearance, but when it comes to the imagination, who better to send than a Reader?”

I'll come back and edit it tomorrow when I have the free time.
Great job so far.
__________________
悲しみ
孤独

Spoiler:
Nobody takes my advice. I wonder why.
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