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Story [Disney] The Adventures of Milo Murphy

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Chancellor_Ewok, Jun 2, 2019.

  1. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Fifty Two


    It took an hour to sort and count all the ballots. By the time they were finished, low shafts of late afternoon sunlight cast long shadows among the stacks of books in the library. Milo swept his things into his backpack into and turned to leave the library. He threaded his way through the empty tables and chairs, pushed open the door and stepped into the hall. As the door closed behind him, Milo heard a crash and a dull thud behind him, and realized that one of the book cases must have fallen over. The hall was outside the library was in semi-darkness. Milo skidded slightly and he felt his leg twinge again. He guessed that Fred, the janitor, had been moping the floor in the hall just outside the library. Milo picked his way carefully down the hall, skidding several more times on the wet floor and his leg protested loudly several times in response. Milo pushed open the door and stepped outside. The school parking lot was deserted. The sun hovered low in the sky, just above the houses. Lights were starting to flick on in nearby windows as people came home from work and school. Milo walked across the school parking lot, stumbling slightly as his foot caught on the concrete block at the end of Principal Milder’s usual parking space. He trudged through the slushy snow across the lawn to the sidewalk. Patches of dull brown grass appeared here and there through the snow. The foot of snow that had fallen on Danville had most melted. The late afternoon air seemed to hold the promise of spring. Despite the low sun on the horizon, the air felt slightly warm.He stepped off of the lawn and on to the sidewalk in front of the school.

    As Milo crossed the street he unexpectedly found himself thinking about his exchange with Amanda and he suddenly felt slightly guilty. She had been right, Milo decided, this award had been his idea. You wanted to show Zack your appreciation for overcoming his claustroavoidance in San Fransokyo, he thought, he’d appreciate getting it from his best friend. As he made it to the other side of the street, dodging around a hole in the road, which had opened almost directly beneath his feet. As he stepped on to the sidewalk, another voice spoke in Milo’s head. What about Melissa? he thought, she wanted to nominate Zack for Most Dependable Friend, I bet she’d love to do it. As soon as the thought occurred to him, Milo felt a hot flash of emotion that he’d never experienced before. He immediately decided that he didn’t like. Milo took a deep breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Where did that come from? he thought. As soon the thought occurred to him, the little voice spoke again. It almost seemed to be laughing at him. Oh, Milo, you’re such a dope sometimes. Isn’t it obvious? Zack has a crush on Melissa. Milo missed a step in surprise, as this thought struck him. The tines of his winter spikes caught in a gap in the sidewalk, and Milo fell. Pain shot through his left leg, and Milo winced. He slowly got to his feet, the calf muscles in his left leg throbbing.

    Milo started walking again, limping slightly. His leg protested loudly with every step. As he continued to walk, the little voice in the back of his head returned. Zack has crush on Melissa, it said again. Milo almost missed another step. He put his right foot down very, very slowly, then took a step and another, then another. Milo laughed to himself, Zack doesn’t have a crush on Melissa, he thought, then he paused, does he? Milo suddenly remembered an incident that had occurred just before he had been abducted by the Octalians for the second time. He had planned to meet Zack and Melissa for lunch at the mall.

    “Hurry up,” Melissa had called to him from three floors above, after his phone had broken,“this is starting to feel like a date.”

    “No it isn’t,” Zack had protested.

    Milo had spent most of the afternoon, trapped in an elevator with Scott, Coach Mitchell and Lydia.

    See, he thought, Zack’s not interested in Melissa. As Milo dodged around a falling tree branch, the little voice mischievously asked, are you sure, Milo? Milo took a quick extra step forward, as a street light came whistling down and landed with the tinkle of breaking where Milo had been standing a few seconds before. Another memory came floating to the surface of Milo’s thoughts. It had been after they had successfully dissipated the Sphere of Calamity. Melissa had kissed Zack and Milo suddenly recalled teasing Zack afterward. Wait, Milo’s eyes widen slightly in surprise, does Melissa have a crush on Zack? If she did, she had never said anything to Milo, and we tell each other everything, he thought. But you never told Zack and Melissa that you had a crush on Amanda. Milo felt himself suddenly grow hot at this. It was true that he had never really talked about he felt about Amanda with Zack and Melissa. She’s a friend, he thought as he barely avoided a man hole cover, which flew into the air at his approach and landed with a dull thud somewhere behind him, that’s all.

    As Milo crossed the road marking the edge of his subdivision, he heard the squeal of tires and crunch of rending metal as a city garbage truck slid through the intersection and hit a light pole. As he picked his way around the edge of the accident, to the sound of sirens and the smell of garbage, the the little voice in the back of his head returned. Is she? he thought. Milo had been surprise when Amanda has presented him with Weird Al tickets for his birthday and he had been overjoyed when she had presented him with one of Reggie’s drawings as a Christmas gift. If she’s just a friend, the little voice ask him, why has she gone out of her way to spend so much time with you over the last year? Milo didn’t really have a good answer for that. He had always liked Amanda. Unlike many other people, she had never been anything but polite to, which he had always appreciated, even though she had kept him at arm’s length. However, Milo was long used to that and hadn’t really thought about it much. It hadn’t been until after the school dance last year that Amanda’s perception of Milo begun appreciably change. She had become noticeably more relaxed around Milo and had been elated when he had helped her win on Cake ‘Splosion, her favourite competitive baking show. She had regularly hung around with Milo, Zack and Melissa ever since and had been visibly relived when the three of them had come back from Octalia, tired, disheveled and covered in cuts and bruises, but otherwise unharmed.

    By the time Milo approached his own block, the sun was slowly sinking behind the surrounding houses, casting long shadows over the neighbourhood. He suddenly remembered what Sara had said to him last summer, after the four of them had gone camping in Coyote Woods. “You know,” she had said, “you could do a lot worse than Amanda Lopez.” Milo’s eyes widened slightly in surprise as a sudden thought struck him. Does Amanda actually have a crush on me? he thought wonderingly. The little voice was back again, well, gee Milo, of course she has a crush on you, it said, you’re always putting everyone else ahead of yourself. Milo suddenly and unaccountably felt slightly defensive, and what’s wrong with that? he asked. Nothing at all, said the little voice innocently, how many times have you gone out of your way for Amanda? Two? Three? Milo thought for a second. In addition to ending up on Cake ‘Splosion together and winning , Milo had saved the school dance when when Murphy’s Law had struck and threatened to ruin Amanda’s carefully planned event, and before that he had found himself backstage at the Danville Opera House during a performance of The Mezzosopranos, where predictably, everything that could go wrong had. It had also been the night that Milo had finally worked up the nerve to talk to Amanda, after months of agonizing over how to talk to her. You see? said the little voice in the back of his head, Amanda appreciates everything you’ve done for her.

    As Milo turned onto Druid Drive he thought, well yeah, but I’ve helped out Zack and Melissa as well, he thought, loads of times, and I’ve been friends with Melissa since we were six, they don’t have a crush on me. The little voice chided Milo, no they don’t, but what about that summer when you were eight? When Milo had been eight years old, he had convinced Martin and Brigitte to let him go to summer camp. He had also convince Melissa to go with him. They had both practically been on pins and needles for the last two weeks of school. It had been the first time Milo had been away from his family for an extended period of time. He had been looking forward to a whole month of camping, hiking, swimming and fishing.

    Milo had had a ball. He had gone horseback riding, learned to tie knots, went rock climbing, hiking and fishing. Then half way through their month at camp, Murphy’s Law had struck. In retrospect, he had felt as thought he should have seen it coming. In addition, the camp’s various outdoor activities, the campers were also required to undertake light chores. Milo and Melissa had been washing and drying dishes in the camp kitchen, when the gas fired oven had exploded. The force of the exploding had knocked Milo and Melissa through a wall. Milo had had a mild concussion, but had otherwise been unharmed. Melissa, however, had broken her arm in three places. Both Milo and Melissa had to leave camp early early as a result. Milo had spent three days in the hospital under observation, while Melissa had had required surgery to reset bones in her arm. Milo had felt somewhat conflicted in the wake of the incident. On the one hand, Milo had been glad that Melissa had recovered quickly from her injury, but on other hand, Milo had found afterward that he couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of protectiveness toward Melissa. He had tried to apologize to her for what had happened, but she had waved his apology away. In the intervening five years, as Milo and Melissa had grown up together, Milo had increasingly come to see Melissa as a surrogate member of his family. Sara had teased him on more than one occasion about his close friendship with Melissa. “Its almost as if you have a crush,” she had said more than once.

    Milo would frequently stammer and blush. “What? No I don’t!”

    Yes you do, said the little voice in the back of Milo’s head, of course you do, why else do you spend so much time with her. Milo felt himself grow hot again. Melissa is my best friend, he thought, she’s amazing-

    Milo could see his house halfway down the block. Martin’s battered looking Range Rover was parked in the driveway. You want to be more than friends, it said, more than even best friends, you wanted her to be your girlfriend. Milo felt himself flush even more deeply at this thought. That’s just-I never thought that, he thought to himself, It’d just be weird, like going out with my sister, and he reflexively shuddered.

    With considerable effort, Milo pushed these thoughts out of his head and walked the rest of the way down the block to his house, head full of ringing silence.
     
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  2. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Fifty Three


    Milo continued to wrestle with his thoughts in the wake of this realization for the next several days. Over lunch the next day, and after school, when the four of them gather together to work on their homework and other assignments, Milo could almost swear that on a couple of occasions, he thought he saw Zack shooting furtive looks at Melissa.That could just be my imagination, he thought, but he couldn’t help but feel a flash of emotion every time it happened. He wondered if he would ever stop doing that. He also caught himself looking at Amanda on at least one or two occasions as well, but her back had been turned and she hadn’t noticed. He wondered if he should ask Amanda if she had a crush on him, but each time the thought occurred to him, he heard a loud rushing sound in his ears, as if Murphy’s Law was somehow causing his brain to jam, and he wasn’t able to think at all until he stopped thinking about Amanda and thought about something else.

    The upside of Milo’s confusion was that he had totally forgotten about his trepidation over having allowed himself to be roped into presenting at the WIBA Awards, which were rapidly approaching. As he walked into the gym after school, he pushed these thoughts aside with difficulty. The gym had been transformed. Stacks of folding chairs were scattered here and there, obscuring the scuffed and weathered hardwood of the basketball court. Streamers hung from the walls. A large banner over the stage at the far end of the gym proclaimed “The Jefferson G County Middle School Winter Break Awards.” Students were buzzing around under Amanda’s supervision, as they set up chairs, tested the stage lights and the A/V booth. Bradley and Mort grunted with effort as they maneuvered a heavy looking folding table out of the sliding storage rack under the stage where they were usually kept out of the way when not in use. There were two more already set up on stage. Amanda was standing in the middle of the confusion with a clipboard in one hand, talking to Zack and Melissa.

    “Zack, you can help Chad set up all these folding chairs,” said Amanda. She turned to Melissa. “Melissa, I need you to help Joni finish setting up the A/V booth.”

    An overhead light came down with a loud crash that echoed off the walls. Everyone stopped at the sudden noise, turning to stare at Milo. He ignored them as he stepped around the shattered ceiling light, which was surrounded by broken glass. He walked over to where Zack and Melissa had been talking to Amanda before he had arrived.

    “Hi guys,” he said.

    “Oh, hi Milo,” said Amanda.

    “The gym looks great, Amanda,” replied Milo.

    “Thanks,” said Amanda, “but actually we’re not quite finished setting up yet.” She gestured to the controlled confusion swirling around them.

    From somewhere in the background, Milo heard a loud bang as something heavy hit the floor. A split second later he heard Bradley exclaim angrily, “Mort, you dropped that on my foot!”

    “Sorry, Bradley,” said Mort sheepishly. “I think that was-”

    “I don’t care what that was-,” interjected Bradley.

    Milo turned his attention back to Amanda, who was still speaking.

    “When we’re finished setting up up for the award show, we’re going to run through a rehearsal for the award show,” she was saying.

    It took almost an hour to finish setting up the gym for the WIBAs. Milo had to keep telling himself to focus on what he was doing. After Bradley and Mort had finished moving and setting up the tables for the awards, Amanda had asked him to help Mort and Chad set up the stage lights. As Mort and Chad hoisted the lights into position over the stage, Milo picked up the end of a heavy duty extension cord and walked over to a wall socket in a corner. He bent over and plugged it in. It sparked as he did so, and Milo felt a jolt run up his arm. It made the hair on his arm stand on end and Milo felt as though ants were crawling around under his skin. Milo sniffed. He thought he smelled something burning, then felt slight warmth on top of his head, and Milo realized that his hair was slightly singed. Half a second after that, the lights went out. The gym was plunged into semidarkness. The only light coming from outside was the watery sunlight coming in through the high windows just under the ceiling. The shafts of sunlight caught the dust motes suspended in midair. Milo let go of the extension cord, which was smoking slightly. The sensation of ants crawling around under his skin ceased as soon as his hand broke contact. Milo straightened up. Above the sound of people milling around and muttering in the semi-darkness, Milo heard the sound of rapid footsteps. He paused, his backpack hanging loosely from one shoulder, to see, Zack, Melissa and Amanda all coming quickly toward him.

    “Milo, are you OK?” asked Amanda, the whites of her eyes seemed extra bright in the gloom.

    Milo gave a casual shrug. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “This is the,” he paused briefly, mentally counting, “third time I’ve been electrocuted.”

    “Not counting the two times you were struck by lightning,’ interjected Melissa.

    Milo nodded. He had momentarily forgotten that he had been hit lightning on his eighth and tenth birthdays. “OK, so I’ve been electrocuted five times, then,” he said.

    “Milo, you realize you have an electrical burn on your hand,” said Zack.

    Milo looked down at his right hand. His palm was shiny, red and blistered. He was suddenly aware of a throbbing pain in his hand. “Oh,” he said, “thanks, Zack.” He let his backpack slide off his other shoulder and it fell to the floor with a dull thud. He quickly rifled through his backpack and pulled out his burn kit. Milo spread anti-burn gel on his palm and then wrapped his hand in a bandage. He reached into his backpack again, produced a pair of heavy black electricians’s gloves and tugged them on. The glove on his right hand was snugger fit than usual owing to the bandage wrapped around his palm and he found that both the burn and the bandage he wrapped his hand in had limited the dexterity of Milo’s right hand. He awkwardly leaned over and took hold of the extension cord with his left hand. Milo tugged, but the plug didn’t want to budge. He frowned at it. “Hmmmm,” he said, “it appeared to be stuck.”

    “Could it be fused with the electrical socket?” asked Melissa. “You looked like you got a pretty good jolt.”

    Milo looked at the electrical plug and frowned again. “I don’t think so Melissa,” he said. He tried pulling on the extension cord again. It still refused to move.Ignoring the stinging sensation in the palm of his right hand, Milo awkwardly wrapped his other hand around the extension cord and gave a hard pull. The plug and the wall socket came loose together with a loud cracking noise as the cinderblock wall splintered. Milo straightened up, and taking the electrical plug in one hand and the wall socket in the other wrenched them apart. He let the extension cord fall to the floor and rummaged through his backpack again, this time, extracting a pair of pliers. Milo stripped off his electrician’s gloves, stuffed them into his pocket and set about rewiring the electrical socket. He was half way through rewiring the plug when Bradley stalked over to where Melissa, Zack and Amanda were watching Milo work.

    “Amanda, what’s going on?” he asked. “Why are the lights still out?”

    “Working on it, Bradley,” said Milo slightly absently, as he patiently finished rewiring the wall plug.

    Bradley uttered a characteristic snort. “Of course,” he said, “who ever would have guessed that this was caused by Milo? Oh wait,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “everyone.”

    Milo finished what he was doing and stood up. “Come on,” he said to Amanda, Zack and Melissa, “lets go check the fuse box.” Milo turned and walked over to a darkened corner on the opposite side of the stage. He had taken about five steps when he was suddenly in free fall. The stage floor had given way and Milo landed with a thud on a pile of boxes. Aside from the shaft of dim light coming down from where he had fallen through the stage. He could fee the tines of his grappling hook pressing against the small of his back through his backpack. That’s definitely going to leave a bruise, thought Milo. He took in a breath and felt momentarily dizzy. The fall had apparently momentarily knocked the wind out of him. Milo sat up and climbed out of the pile of boxes that had broken his fall. He shrugged off his backpack and fished through the contents for a flashlight. His hand pushed aside a spare bicycle chain and a tire pump and closed over one of his headlamps. Milo pulled it out of his backpack and put it on his head. He clicked it on and a cone of pale yellow light lit up the space immediately around him. Milo’s head lamp cast wild shadows on the walls around him. The space under the stage was mostly filled with boxes of props, sets and racks of slightly dusty costumes from previous years’ school plays. Pipes, bundles of electrical wires and air conditioning ducts snaked here and there overhead. He wove his way through the maze of various cluttered objects that occupied the space.

    Milo was half way to the staircase on the other side of the room, when he heard a loud hissing noise and suddenly felt as if he were covered in something hot and wet. Milo’s hair was plastered to his forehead and his clothes stuck to his body.Thick grey-white fog swirled in the yellow beam of his head lamp, obscuring his vision and filling the room. Milo looked around, wondering where it had come from. A sudden thought struck him and he looked overhead. A steam pipe had burst, dousing him in a thick white cloud. Milo thought for a second, running through contents of his backpack in his mind to see if he had anything he could use to shut off the thick, billowing clouds flowing out of the ruptured pipe. Without taking off his backpack, Milo reached around behind himself and thrust a hand into his backpack. He extracted a large plumber’s wrench and looked around, searching for a shut-off valve. He spied one on the other side of the room, through the swirling clouds of condensation.

    Milo wound his way through the cluttered mess. He was suddenly knocked to the floor under avalanche of swords and armour left over from last year’s production of Camelot. At the same moment, his headlamp went out and Milo was plunged back into darkness. He crawled out from under the pile of swords and armour and stood up. Milo took in a breath and coughed several times. The pile of swords and armour that had knocked him over had kicked of a thick cloud of dust. Milo groped through his backpack in the darkness, looking for his dust mask. His hand closed instead over the familiarity shape of his night vision googles. He pulled off his head lamp, pulled his night vision googles down over his eyes and flicked them on. They cut through the thick clouds of steam like a knife through butter. Everything was bathed in vivid shades of electronic green. Milo quickly scanned the room and found the shut off valve again on the other side of the room. He set off again, sidestepping a falling ladder and dodging around an overturned shelf of cleaning supplies.

    Milo eventually reached the shut off valve after narrowly avoiding being bombarded with a deluge of intramural sports trophies. One in particular caught his eye. Milo bent over and picked it up. It had a gold coloured plastic soccer player on top. The plaque at the base read


    Jefferson G County Middle School

    Intramural Soccer League

    Martin Murphy

    Best Remaining Player

    1985


    Martin had talked on more than a few occasions about the soccer trophy he had won when he had been Milo’s age. The trophy was very dusty. It had clearly been down in the basement for a long time and Milo doubted that anyone would notice that it was missing. Dad will be really happy that I found this, thought Milo. He tucked it into his backpack and turned his attention back to the shut off valve. He hefted his plumber’s wrench and jammed it securely it into the spokes of the large circular valve. The burn on Milo’s palm throbbed again and he adjusted his grip slightly so that it was less painful.

    Milo pushed on the wrench that he had jammed into the circular handle. It moved, but only very slightly and he guessed that nobody had turned it in a long time. He tried pushing it again and it moved a little more. I think it moved more easily, he thought. Milo took hold of the plumber’s wrench for the third time and put all of his weight on it. He felt it begin to turn and the loud hissing of the steam out of the ruptured pipe on the other side of the room became noticeably quieter.

    Milo managed to turn the shut off valve a little more than a half revolution when it suddenly snapped off. He toppled to the floor and felt the head of the bolt ruffling the hair on the back of his head as it went whizzing past him and spanged loudly off of a near by water pipe, which split open with the sound of gushing water. Milo picked himself up, retrieved his wrench and quickly finished closing off the flow of steam. The loud hiss was replaced by the gurgle of water flowing out of the burst water pipe. He looked around again, looking for another shut off valve. A large puddle of water was spreading across the floor. Milo spied the valve he was looking for on the opposite wall. He began picking his way across the room, moving much faster than before. With the steam from the broken steam pipe no longer filling the room with thick obscuring clouds, it was much easier to see what he was doing and he crossed the room with less difficulty that before, only having to backtrack when a pile of marching band instruments suddenly fell in front of him, blocking his path.

    After about ten minutes, Milo reached the shut off valve. He took hold of it and turned it a little. It turned easily and after several revolutions, the stream of water flowing out of the burst pipe slowed and then stopped. The only remaining sound was the thin trickle of water flowing into the drain in the middle of the floor. Milo scanned the room again, looking for the stairs back up to the stage. He found them after a short search in the far corner, opposite to where he had fallen through the floor and made his way over to them. He put one foot and then the other on the bottom step and stood very still, as if waiting for something to happen. The last time Milo had tried to climb this staircase, had been during the pervious year’s WIBAs when they had collapsed as a result of Murphy’s Law. Nothing happened and Milo took another cautious step, and then another, and another and another.

    In a few quick strides, Milo reached the top of the staircase and stepped onto the small landing. On the other side was the stage door. Milo crossed in the distance in a single stride and took hold of the door handle, which came off in his hand. Milo let the door handle fall to the floor, where it landed with a thud, and thrust a hand into his pocket, fishing for his wallet. Milo opened it, pulled out his student ID card and thrust it into the gap between the door and the door jam. He jimmied his student ID card back and forth three or four times. There was an audible metallic click and the door swung open.
     
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  3. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Just an ordinary day, then ... :)

    Good action writing in his adventures below floor level!
     
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  4. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Fifty Four


    As the door swung open, Milo found Zack, Melissa and Amanda standing in the door frame. They all had their phones out. The bright light emanating from their phones washed out Milo’s night vision goggles, making him squint painfully. “Oh hi, guys,” he said casually.

    Milo’s friends traded a relieved look. “We were about to come down and look for you,” said Zack.

    “You look like you’ve been in a sauna with your clothes on,” said Amanda.”Is everything OK?”

    Milo shrugged. He pulled off his night vision goggles and stowed them in his backpack. “Everything’s fine,” he said, pushing his hair back off of his forehead. “A burst steam pipe and a ruptured water main. Easy-peasy.”

    Milo stepped past his friends and shut the door behind him. As the stage door swung shut, the four of them heard a distant rumble as the staircase leading down to the basement collapsed. The door handle came off in Milo’s hand and he set it on a ledge next to the door. As his eyes readjusted to the semi-darkness, Milo looked around. The gym was bathed in the ruddy glow of the emergency lights. The other students had gone. Doubtless, they had determined that as Milo had put a hole through the stage floor and shorted out the gym’s fuse box, the rehearsal for the award show had been cancelled.

    Milo suddenly felt himself flush and he was glad that everything was still in semi-darkness. “Amanda-,” he began, “I-.”

    Amanda pressed a finger to his lips. “Not one word,” she said firmly. “Lets get the lights back on and finish setting up.”

    Something in Milo’s brain clicked. The fuse box, he thought, suddenly remembering. With all the difficulties of getting out of the basement, Milo had momentarily forgotten that he had been looking for the fuse box so he could reset the circuit breakers and turn the lights back on. I was going to reset the fuse box, he thought. He gestured to the others. “C’mon,” he said. “Let’s go find the fuse box.”

    With the other trailing behind him, Milo quickly made his way from where he had emerged from the basement over to the gym’s utility room. He pulled open the door to reveal a cramped space, the size of a closet. The ruddy glow of a single emergency light revealed walls of bare, unpainted cinderblocks and a scuffed looking vinyl floor. On one side stood a battered shelf laden with cleaning supplies. A mop and bucket stood in a corner. The fuse box was mounted on the opposite wall amid a tangle of cables. It was singed and smoking. An unlit fluorescent light hung from the ceiling. Milo stepped into the ruddy orange glare of the emergency light mounted over the door. He slid off his backpack and deposited it on the vinyl floor at his feet. Milo reached into his pocket, pulled out his electrician’s gloves again and tugged them on. He felt his right hand throb slightly as he snugged his glove up over his wrist. Milo bent over and rummaged through his backpack and produced a screwdriver, pliers and wire strippers. He piled his tools on the ledge on top the fuse box and set about unscrewing the panel on the front of the fuse box. It came off easily in his hands, and Milo set it aside.

    He peered into the interior of the fuse box and frowned. Zack peered over Milo’s shoulder.

    “That looks totally fried,” he said.

    Milo nodded in agreement. “Murphy’s Law,” he said. “Anything that can go wrong-.”

    “-will go wrong,” finished Melissa.

    Amanda stared hesitantly at Milo, and then at the fuse box, and then back at Milo. “Are you sure you can fix this?” she asked.

    Milo peered into the fuse box again. “Yeah, sure,” he said. “I’ve seen Dad rebuild the fuse box in the basement loads of times.” He shrugged. “Like the time I got an electric train set for my seventh birthday.”

    Zack looked surprised. “I didn’t know you collect model trains,” he said.

    Milo shrugged and started pulling things out of his backpack, searching for his electrical repair kit. He found it and took took out a handful of fuses. “I used to,” he said, placing the collection of parts on top of the fuse box next to his tools. “I don’t anymore.”

    “What happened?” asked Amanda.

    “Model railroading is a surprisingly unpredictable hobby,” replied Milo as he started pulling fried circuits out of the fuse box. “You’d be surprised how many thinks go wrong playing with model trains,” he said. “Derailments, electrical fires, boiler explosions-.”

    Zack, Melissa and Amanda traded surprised looks. “How does a electrical train have a boiler explosion?” asked Melissa.

    “Beats me,” replied Milo with another shrug, “but, the hole in my living room wall was at least a foot wide. Anyway I got an electric train set for my seventh birthday and blacked out the entire east coast.”

    A look of dawning comprehension spread across Melissa’s face. “So that was you,” she said. “I knew that had to be Murphy’s Law, but Dad didn’t agree.” She smirked in satisfaction. “Looks like I get my $20.00 back.”

    Milo chuckled. “Well I’m glad I was able to help you win a bet,” he said.


    It only Milo twenty minutes to repair the fuse box. He screwed the cover back into place and flipped the large red plastic switch labelled, “MAIN BREAKER.” It clicked into place with a solid sounding thunk. For a second or two nothing happened and Milo began to wonder if there was something else wrong with the fuse box that he had somehow missed. He had only just begun to mentally retrace his steps, to see where he had gone wrong, but no sooner had he started than the cramped utility closet was suddenly flooded with the hard, flat light coming from the fluorescent light fixture overhead. After the semi-darkness of the power outage and the dull orange glow of the emergency lights, everything seemed to stand out in high relief. Milos, Zack, Melissa and Amanda stood for several second, blinking painfully, their eyes screwed up against the sudden flood of blinding light.

    After a second or two, when he was satisfied that the fuse box wasn’t going to catch fire, explode or short itself out again, Milo slowly pried his eyes open. “Well, that’s a job well done,” he said. He gathered up his tools and repacked his backpack. The four teenagers filed out of the utility closet. The door hung open on its hinges and Zack clicked off the overhead light as he brought up the rear. They surveyed the gym. Everything was as it had been left when the other students had left following the blackout. Stacks of chairs were still scattered here and there around the room, the A/V equipment was half unpacked and the stage lights lay scattered haphazardly scattered around the stage.

    “Looks like its up to us the finish the job,” said Zack, surveying the scene.

    “As usual,” replied Melissa.

    “Well, come on,” said Milo. He started toward a stack of chairs. “The gym isn’t going to set itself up.” He picked up one of the collapsible chairs and it fell apart in his hands.

    “Its OK, Milo,” said Melissa, “we’ll finish the rest of this.”

    Milo opened his mouth to protest, but before he could say anything, he was distracted by the sound of something soft fluttering to the floor. A banner that proclaimed


    Jefferson G County Middle School

    Varsity Chess Champions

    8th Annual Tri-State Area Chess Tournament

    2005


    Had fluttered to the floor and landed in a puddle of fabric. As he watched several feet of Amanda’s streamers joined it. Milo turned back to Melissa. “Point taken,” he said. He gestured over his shoulder at the collapsed school banners and decorations. “I’ll get a ladder.” Milo walked back towards the stage, climbed the stairs and disappeared behind the curtain. He reappeared ten minutes later following a succession of loud bangs, carrying a telescopic ladder. He set it up and threw the fallen chess team banner over his shoulder. It draped down Milo’s back and trailed on the ground like an overly large flag. For a second or two, Milo stood at the bottom of the ladder, his right foot resting on the bottom rung. When the ladder didn’t collapse, Milo put his left foot on the bottom rung next to his right. After a couple of more seconds, he climbed the to the next rung, and then the next, and the next, and the next.

    It only took him a minute or so to climb most of the way to the top of the ladder, where the school’s banners hung just below the windows that ran around the outside of the building, just below the ceiling. Carefully letting go of the ladder with his right hand, Milo took hold of the end of the banner and pulled it through the rungs of the ladder. Milo was in the process of reaching back into his backpack for a hammer and nails when he suddenly lost his footing. Milo’s arms windmilled wildly as he suddenly pitched over backwards. He reached for the banner in a effort to stop his fall, but his hand snapped closed on empty air and he braced himself for the hard, jarring thud of an impact with the floor of the gym. It never came. Instead Milo felt a painful jolt behind his knees. The rung that he had been standing on had lodged behind his knees and he suddenly realized that he was hanging upside down from the ladder. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the contents of his backpack scattered all over the floor. Zack, Melissa and Amanda were staring up at him, and he realized that they must have been alerted by the clatter of falling objects.

    “Milo-,” said Amanda, looking up at him.

    “-are you OK?” Zack finished.

    Milo nodded. “Oh, yeah,” he said, nodding from his inverted position and giving them a thumbs up. “I’m fine.” He reached up and took hold of the end of the banner which was dangling above him just above the level of his waist and with a little effort pulled himself upright into a sitting position. Milo untangled the banner from around his ankles and carefully stood up. He stood very still, as if waiting for something to happen. When the rung he was standing on didn’t break and the ladder didn’t collapse, Milo carefully lowered himself down to the next rung, then the next and the next and the next. He reached the foot of the ladder and placed his feet firmly on the scuffed hardwood. Milo shrugged off his backpack and set it on the ground. He bent over and proceeded to start gathering its scattered contents. After a few minutes, with Zack, Melissa and Amanda’s help. Milo had repacked his backpack. He put his climbing helmet of his head, buckled the clasp and cinched his harness extra tight. He could feel the straps squeezing his thighs. Milo took hold of the climbing rope and give it a tug to ensure that it was firmly secured. It was. He placed his foot on the bottom rung of the ladder and once again waited a second or two for something to happen. When nothing did, he climbed back put to where the banner still lay draped over the broken rung.

    Milo stopped on the rung below and with his left had maintaining a firm grip on the ladder rail, he reached into his backpack with his right hand and extracted a hook which he hung on the rung above the broken one. He rummaged through his backpack and extracted his hammer and a couple of nails. Holding the end of the banner in place with his palm and the nail between his thumb and forefinger, Milo carefully hammered the nail into position. When he was sure that the nail was secure and that the banner wasn’t going to fall, Milo climbed down from his perch, moved his ladder to the end of the empty space where the banner had hung. When Milo was finished fixing the other end of the banner back into place he retrieved his backpack, slipped it back onto his shoulders and started to climb back down to the ground. When he got to the ground, Milo retrieved the fallen streamers that Amanda had put up earlier, climbing the ladder once again, this time stopping half way up. He pulled out his hook again and once again hung his backpack from it. Milo thrust his hand into his backpack once again, this time producing a tube of glue and a stapler, which he used to reaffix Amanda’s decorations to the wall. When he was finished, he climbed down and repacked his climbing tackle. When he had finished putting the ladder away, Milo stood back and admired his handywork.
     
  5. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Fifty Five


    As the WIBAs got closer, Milo felt himself getting nervous again. The dress rehearsal that had bee scheduled for the the previous week and had been cancelled as a result of the blackout in the gym, took place after school on the Tuesday before the awards show. To Milo’s surprise, the dress rehearsal went perfectly.

    “That looked great,” said Amanda, when the rehearsal was finished.

    “Yeah,” replied Zack, “hopefully, Milo won’t get stuck in the basement again like he did last year.”

    Milo chuckled. “Hopefully,” he said, “but with Murphy’s Law you never can tell.”



    The last few days before the WIBAs seemed to drag by with almost interminable slowness, which didn’t really help Milo’s nerves. There were butterflies in his stomach as he buttoned his good dress shirt over his body armour two hours before the the ceremony on the following Saturday. There was a knock on Milo’s bedroom door. He pulled on his black dress pants and padded across the room in his stocking feet. He cracked open the door, to reveal Brigitte standing on the other side.

    “Oh, hi Mom,” he said, tightening his belt.

    “Are you almost ready, Milo?” she asked.

    Milo stood in front of the mirror on the back of his bedroom as he knotted his bow tie and shrugged on his formal jacket. Milo retrieved his backpack from where it he habitually hung it, on the back of his desk chair. “Oh, yeah, Mom,” he said. “I’m almost ready. I’ll be down in a second.”

    “Well, hurry up, Milo,” she said. “Your father’s waiting in the car.”

    “OK, Mom,” he said. “I’ll be right down.”

    Milo thrust his feet into his black loafers and pulled his heavy winter coat on over his suit. He examined his reflection in the mirror. No sooner had Milo straightened his bow tie and pulled a comb through his hair one last time, than the mirror on the back of his bedroom door shattered with the sound of tinkling glass. He quickly swept up the broken shards, shouldered his backpack and opened the door. Milo walked down the hall to the usual clatter of pictures falling off the walls. He got as far as the top of the stairs, when the floor gave way beneath him. Milo was suddenly in free fall. He landed with a thud on the living room sofa. He sat very still for a moment waiting for something else to happen. He was surrounded bits of wood and carpet and there was plaster dust in his hair.

    Milo started to get up from the sofa, but no sooner had he begun to move, than the floor collapsed and Milo and the sofa landed in a cloud of plaster dust and a shower of bits of wood and carpet in the basement. Milo got up from the sofa before the dust settled. Well, I’m pretty sure tonight can’t get any worse than this, he thought. Dusting himself off, Milo picked himself up from the broken remains of the living room sofa. He looked upward eyeing the hole in the living room floor. He could see from the basement through to his bedroom ceiling. That’s going to be expensive, he thought. Milo’s phone rang. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and tapped the screen. His caller ID said, “Dad.” Milo tapped his screen again and put his phone to his ear.

    “Milo?” asked Martin. “Where are you? Is everything all right?”

    Milo blinked. He had momentarily forgotten that Martin, Brigitte and Sara were waiting for him in Martin’s Range Rover in the driveway. “Yeah, Dad, I’m fine,” replied Milo. “I’m in the basement. I’ll be right up.” It took Milo fifteen minutes extricate himself from the basement. He had to reset set the fuse box, when the circuit breaker blew and turned off the gas when the furnace died. He threaded his way through the sundry boxes and broken bicycles and sports equipment that filled Milo’s basement. Milo made his way up the basement stairs without incident. He heard the sound of the basement stairs collapsing as he shut the basement door.


    The drive from Milo’s house to the school took half an hour. Martin had to pull into a gas station parking lot and change both of his back tires six blocks from the school. When they finally arrived, they joined a long line of cars waiting to pull into the school parking lot. The school was lit up by large floodlights and a banner across the front of the school proclaimed,”The 38th Annual Winter Break Awards!” Martin pulled into the parking lot and shut off the engine. They opened the doors and piled out. Milo and his family followed the stream of people from the parking lot around the from of the school to the school courtyard.

    The school courtyard, between the school and the gym was roped off with velvet rope. There was a line of people waiting to get in. Elliot was standing at the entrance checking names off against a list on a clipboard. He was wearing his usual fluorescent orange safety vest over a slightly faded looking dark brown suit.

    Milo got in line. Brigitte gave him a kiss and Milo flushed slightly. “Good luck, Milo,” she said. “We’ll see you inside after the show.”

    “OK, Mom,” he said. As Martin, Brigitte and Sara walked away, he heard Sara say, “he’s bound to get on stage this year.”

    “Oh, hi, Milo.” He turned and found that Zack, Melissa and Amanda had materialized next to him, without him noticing.

    “Oh, hi guys,” replied Milo. The line of people inched slowly forward as Elliot crossed names off of his list.

    “So, you’re actually presenting this year,” said Zack.

    Milo shrugged and traded a conspiratorial look with Amanda. “Yeah,” he said, “I let myself get talked into it.” Milo felt his stomach flutter slightly at the thought and he had work at pushing the sensation away.

    Melissa looked surprised. “Really, Milo?” she said, “I thought you didn’t really like public speaking, I mean after the thing with the dinosaurs and all-“

    Milo started to say, “Well, I-,” but Zack was looking back and forth between his two best friends. “Wait, OK,” he said. “Milo has a dislike of public speaking-”

    “Well,” said Milo, “its more like a mildly paralyzing anxiety, but yeah-”

    “OK,” said Zack slowly, “and this is connected to dinosaurs how, exactly?”

    Milo shrugged. “Easy,” he said. “I tried to give a speech once and a herd of dinosaurs appeared.” He quickly to Zack the story of the speech competition and the chaos it had wrought when Milo and Melissa had been in the fourth grade.

    Zack looked wide eyed at Milo and Melissa when they had finished talking. “So,” he said slowly, “you have a fear of public speaking because of dinosaurs.”

    Milo nodded. “Yeah,” he said. He felt the butterflies fluttering in his stomach again. The sudden discussion of his dislike of public speaking wasn’t helping his nerves and he tool a deep steadying breath. Milo had to work at pushing away the fluttering sensation in his stomach.

    Melissa started to say, “You have a fear of fish,” to Zack, but she was interrupted before she could get the words out.

    “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Milo Murphy.” They all turned at the sudden sound.

    “Hi, Elliot,” said Milo, cheerfully.

    Elliot stared suspiciously at Milo. “What are you doing here, Murphy?” he asked. “Don’t you have somewhere else to menace?”

    “No,” said Milo simply.

    Zack and Melissa traded a shared look of exasperation and rolled their eyes. “Oh come on, Elliot,” said Melissa, “Milo is one of this year’s presenters.”

    Elliot stared at Milo suspiciously again and then stared down at the clipboard in his hand. He ran his eye down the list on his clip, as if he was hoping that Milo’s name wouldn’t be on it. Elliot’s face fell, as if someone had just cancelled his birthday. He stepped reluctantly aside, allowing Milo and his friends to enter the roped-off courtyard. “Alright,” he said, “but I’m keeping my eye on you, Murphy. If anything goes wrong, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

    Milo, Zack Melissa and Amanda all looked at each other. “But things go wrong around Milo all the time,” replied Zack. “Everybody knows that.”

    It was Elliot’s turn to look confused. “But-I-well, just keep Milo far away everything tonight,” he stammered at last.

    Milo chuckled and shrugged. “Sorry Elliot,” he said. “It doesn’t really work like that.”

    “Especially, as Milo is one of the presenters this year,” interjected Amanda.

    “Milo is actually presenting this year?!” exclaimed Elliot. “Whose bright idea was that?”

    “Mine,” replied Amanda acidly. “We were short a presenter and I asked Milo and he said yes.”

    “It’ll be fine, Elliot,” interjected Melissa. She nodded at her best friend. “You know Milo, he prepares for everything-,”

    Elliot was emphatically shaking his head. “No, no, no,” he said. “I have to talk to Principal Milder and put a stop to this.” As if on cue, his clipboard into flames, He dropped it instinctively and stamped out the flames. He glared at Milo. “You see, Murphy?” he said. “You’re a danger, a hazard, menace and several other types of disasters.”

    Milo, Zack, Melissa and Amanda all stared at each other, momentarily confused. “I wasn’t aware that there were such as a types of disasters,” replied Milo.

    Melissa shrugged, “well I guess you learn something new everyday,” she said.

    Milo reached into his backpack and pulled out clipboard with a sheaf of paper on in. He held it out for Elliot to take, who accepted it only with the greatest reluctance, as if it were something obscene.

    “What’s this?” he asked.

    Milo shrugged casually. “It’s a spare copy of the guest list,” he said. “I was on the WIBA planning committee this year,” he explained, “so I made a few copies, you know in case of Murphy’s Law.”

    “See, Elliot?” said Zack, “Milo prepares for everything.”

    Elliot rifled through the sheaf of papers that Milo had just handed him, as if looking for something amiss. When he couldn’t find anything, he said, “alright, Murphy, but I’m keeping my eye on you.”

    “OK, Elliot,” replied Milo. “You never know when you need a second pair of eyes to watch your back.”
     
  6. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Aw, he's so cheerful about life in general.

    He sounds just the perfect bow tie type! :)

    Just the right response, Milo. Good job.
     
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  7. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    It wouldn’t be the first time Melissa’s bet on Milo, actually. It’s kind of a running gag in canon, that she bets with Bradley on whether or not Milo is going to make it to school on time, and Elliot is actually pretty good at dealing with all the stuff that happens around Milo, he just doesn’t really like Milo very much.
     
    pronker likes this.
  8. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Fifty Six


    Milo was suddenly aware of Amanda tugging on his arm. She was guiding him toward the gym. “Come on,” she said, “we have to be back stage in ten minutes.”

    Milo nodded. “OK,” he said. “We should get going, then.”

    “Good luck, buddy,” replied Zack.

    As Amanda led Milo away, he heard Melissa say, “Milo is definitely going to get on stage this year, I can feel it.”

    Milo was suddenly aware of the fluttering sensation in his stomach again and swallowed hard. He felt as though he wanted to throw up. Why are aliens and superheroes and time travel easy, and this is hard? he asked himself. It wasn’t the first time he’d asked himself that question. He was suddenly and forcibly reminded of the three months it had taken him to work of the nerve to ask Amanda to go out to lunch with him. Milo glanced at her from out the corner of his eye. She was wearing a pale blue satin dress, which made her seem as she was floating just above the ground. He was suddenly aware of Amanda looking at him.

    “Milo?” she asked, “Is everything alright?”

    Milo flushed, as if she had caught him doing something embarrassing. “Oh,” he stammered, “I-umm,” Milo quickly cast around trying to think of something to say. “I was just thinking that that colour looks nice on you,” he finished. Inside, Milo felt like he wanted to die. Really, Milo? he thought, that colour looks nice on you? Couldn’t you find something to-

    Milo’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Amanda speaking. “Oh,” she said. Milo noticed that she was blushing. “Thanks.”

    They left flow of people heading toward the gym’s main entrance and went around a corner to a side door. Milo had a sudden flashback to being locked out of the gym the previous year. He took hold of the door handle and turned it. It came off in his hand. Milo sighed to himself. So much for getting on stage the easy way, he thought.

    “Milo,” asked Amanda, “are we locked out?”

    Milo looked at her sheepishly. “Ummm, yeah, sorry Amanda,” he said. He cast an eye upward at the window over the door. It had been replaced with one that didn’t open. Milo mentally ran through the contents of his backpack. Well, we could try the roof, he thought. “How are you at climbing?” he asked.

    “I went rock climbing with my cousin, Luis last summer in Arizona,” she said. “It was fun.”

    “OK,” said Milo, shrugging off his backpack. He had half expected her to balk. This might not be as hard as I thought it was going be, he thought to himself, but then again, she skateboards and I didn’t see that coming either. He had suddenly been reminded of the party they had thrown for Zack the previous year after he had broken his leg unveiling a new interpretive dance routine. In a curious coincidence, Amanda had broken her arm not long afterward, after she had taken a spill on her skateboard. Milo set his backpack on the ground and rummaged through it, quickly extracting twin climbing harnesses, helmets, tackle and his grappling hook. Milo put his helmet on his head and buckled the chin strap. He handed the other helmet and harness to Amanda. She put the helmet on her head and buckled the chin strap with a click. She paused momentarily, blushing slightly.

    “Ummm….Milo, do you mind turning around?” asked Amanda. She gave him a significant look.

    It look a second or two for Milo to register her question. Then it clicked. The climbing harness he had handed her didn’t exactly go with Amanda’s dress, which fell down past her knees.

    “Oh,” replied Milo, blushing slightly, “umm….right.” Milo turned around, strapping on his own harness while he waited for Amanda to finish.

    “You can look now.”

    Milo turned. Amanda’s long dress was mostly bunched up around her thighs. Milo judged that she should she should have any trouble climbing, but her dress was probably ruined. He bent down and picked up his grappling hook from where he had dropped it on to the concrete. Milo hefted it in his right hand, testing the weight. He let about a foot of rope play out through his fingers. “Stand back,” he said. “This thing swings pretty fast.” Amanda nodded and took several steps backwards out of range Milo’s grappling hook. He let swung back and forth several times in a long, slow arc, mentally calculating distance and trajectory. He suddenly swung it with a loud swish in a wide circle over his shoulder. With a practiced flick of his wrist, Milo let go of the rope and the grappling hook went sailing upward. The attached rope trailed behind it, describing a lazy arc.

    With a metallic clatter, Milo’s grappling hook landed on the roof of the gym. He tugged on the rope, which gave a little, then held firm. Milo reshouldered his backpack, then tied his harness on the dangling rope. Amanda did the same. He put a loafered foot flat against the side of the building and hauled himself upward.

    It took Milo and Amanda ten minutes to scale the side of the building. The roof of the gym was wide and flat. The only thing the break the monotony was the square block of the air conditioning system. Milo frowned to himself. There appeared to be no access to the roof from inside the gym. He had been on the roof of the school several times before and knew that there was a stairwell that led down into the school. He had hoped that the same might be true here. Apparently not, he thought to himself. Milo eyed the AC unit again. Large square air ducts radiated out from it, penetrating through the roof and into the gym, which took up most of the building’s internal volume. I think we can fit through those, thought Milo, it’ll be tight but-

    His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Amanda’s voice. “Milo?” she asked, she had already taken off her climbing harness, which she handed to him, “how are we supposed to get inside?”

    “I have an idea,” replied Milo. “Follow me.” He walked over to the air conditioning unit, which immediately sputtered and died. Thin tendrils of smoke curled upward into the night air from the air conditioner’s fried wiring. Milo let his backpack fall to the ground and rummaged through it. He extracted a screwdriver and set about unscrewing the screws holding the duct work to in place.

    Amanda looked sceptically at Milo. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” she asked.

    Milo spoke without stopping what he was doing. “Admittedly, no,” he replied. “I was hoping that there would roof access from inside the gym, but there isn’t. This is only other way I can think of to get into the gym.” He finished removing all the screws and with some effort pulled the segment of ductwork that he had detached out of position and off to one side. He rummaged through his backpack again, this time producing two headlamps. He handed one to Amanda and kept the other for himself.

    Amanda took the proffered flashlight with a skeptical look. “Are you sure we can fit in there?” she asked. The interior of air duct was pitch black. The darkness within made it seem extra small. “Have you done anything like this before?”

    Milo shrugged and nodded. “I think it it’ll be a bit tight,” he replied, “but we should fit. I’ve never been inside the school’s air conditioning system before, but I’m sure it it’ll be fine.” He bent down and crawled into the open air duct. It was a very tight fit. The air duct was only barely wider than the width of Milo’s shoulders. It was only just tall enough for Milo crouch on all fours with his backpack on his back. The air duct acted like an echo chamber, every movement reverberated loudly. Milo paused momentarily and clicked on n his headlamp. He blinked reflexively as the light from his headlamp reflected brightly off of the polished stainless steel walls of the air duct. He heard echoing noises behind as Amanda bent down and crawled into the air duct behind him.

    Milo started to crawl forward to give her space. He had gone no more than ten feet when he felt himself suddenly pitch forward. He tried to press his palms the against the sides of the duct, but it was no good. Milo felt himself starting slide. He hit the bottom with a bang that echoed loudly in the confined space. He felt his backpack pressing heavily against his shoulder blades. He tasted blood in his mouth and spit out a tooth. Before he could move, Milo heard a shout from somewhere above and behind him and realized that Amanda had fallen into the same void that he had.

    Before he could even begin to move, Milo something pressing against his lower legs and realized that his feet were pinned under Amanda’s upper torso.

    “Milo?” she asked, “are you OK?”

    From his partially inverted position, Milo nodded. “Yeah,” he replied, “I’m fine. I just need a minute.” He had already worked out how to get out his fix and began to wriggle down and forward and after a few minutes had flattened himself out again. He heard Amanda sliding down into the space Milo had just vacated. Milo half turned and looked over his shoulder. In the glare of his headlamp, he saw Amanda upside down and partially sprawled on her upper torso.

    “Are you OK, Amanda?” Milo asked over his shoulder.

    She gave an upside down nod. “I think so,” she said. She spied his bloody tooth lying on the bottom of the air duct, crusted in drying blood. “Milo, I think you might have-“

    “-lost a tooth?” he finished. As Milo unintentionally probed the spot where his back right molar had been knocked. It throbbed and he had to force himself to stop. “Yeah, I know,” he replied. “It wouldn’t be the first time.”

    She slowly pulled herself forward until she was cLear of the bottleneck. “So, how do we get out of here?” she asked.

    That’s a good question, Milo thought to himself. He thought for a second, trying to remember what the gym’s ventilation system looked from the outside. He drew a blank. He’d never been inside the ventilation system before. He was having trouble visualizing where all the ductwork was located. He need to be able to see it from the outside and he couldn’t. Milo frowned to himself, wondering how he was going to get out of this situation.
     
  9. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    I'll bet it's because all those aliens and suchlike are menaces to be subdued and Amanda's and his relationship is Serious With Lasting Consequences. He's wondering about the differences, which bodes well for his growing maturity. Ahah, the old airduct crawling routine! :)
     
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  10. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Yeah, it’s not the first time he’s wondered that. I’ve sort of looked at it from the perspective of all the aliens and plant monsters and the other weird crap that gets thrown at him all the time is Milo’s definition of normal. Asking a girl to go out to lunch with him, even though he knows that she likes him and will probably say yes, is, in a way, very alien, as he’s been largely excluded from having relatively normal relationships, so ordinary teenager stuff, like dating is stuff that he finds difficult to wrap his head around. I imagine that at some point Milo and Martin will have a discussion about Murphy’s Law and dating.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
  11. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Fifty Eight

    “Milo? Milo? Can you hear me?” Zack took his phone down from his ear and frowned.
    Melissa and Sara stared at Zack in puzzlement. “Zack, what’s wrong?” asked Melissa.
    “Was that Milo again?” asked Sara.
    Zack nodded.”Yeah,” he said, “but he got cut off before he could say anything.”
    Melissa and Sara exchanged a look. “Melissa, why don’t you try calling Amanda,” suggested Sara.
    Melissa nodded and dug through the small bag slung over one shoulder. She found it and quickly typed in her password. She tapped and swiped through her contacts until she found “Lopez, A.” Melissa tapped Amanda’s number and put her phone to her ear. She heard it ring for a second or two, then an artificial sounding voice. “Your call can not be completed as dialled. Please call again later.” Melissa hung up and put her phone away. “Amanda’s not picking up either,”she said.
    “C’mon,” said Sara, “let’s go inside.” She turned and went back around the corner with the Melissa and Zack trailing in her wake. The line of people waiting to get into the gym had mostly disappeared. They mounted the steps and pushed past Joni before she could utter a word. They opened the door and went inside.
    They crossed the lobby in a few strides and pushed open the inner door into the gym. It was mostly in darkness and dimly lit. Zack’s eye was automatically drawn in the darkness to toward the brightly lit stage. Principle Milder was standing in front of a deep crimson curtain next to a podium with a microphone. “Good evening,” she was saying, “and welcome to the 38th Annual Winter Break Awards-,” Zack, Melissa and Sara ignored her as they edged around the neat rows of chairs filled with people in the dark.
    The three of them stopped and for a half a second Melissa thought she discerned an audible pause in Principle Milder’s speech as she spied the three figures in the shadows, just outside the dim light cast by the stage.
    “-we are so pleased to invite you all here to night to honour our amazing students-,” she said.
    Zack, Melissa and Sara ignored her. “I think the stage door is over here,” said Zack, pointing. At the end of a row of doors, in between the door to Coach Mitchell’s office and the front of the stage, was the stage door. They reached it and Zack pushed it open. They went through the door, shutting it behind them. They went around a corner and up a short staircase where they were confronted by Bradley, who hissed furiously at them in a loud whisper.
    “What are you three doing here?” he asked. “We’re in the middle of the show.” He gestured at the stage curtain. From the other side of the curtain, they could hear assembled audience groan of polite, but slightly forced laughter at one of Principle Milder’s I-knew-a-kid stories. Melissa opened her mouth to retort, but at that moment, Mort noticed the three of them standing with Bradley. He turned his attention away from Principle Milder’s groan inducing patter to Zack, Melissa and Sara.
    Melissa turned her attention from Bradley to Mort. “Have Milo and Amanda shown up yet?” she asked.
    Mort shook his head. He opened his mouth to say something, but Bradley interjected. “Oh, of course,” he said, “Milo causing problems as usual.” He jabbed a finger angrily at Melissa. “I told Amanda that asking Milo to present would be a bad idea, and look, no Milo and no Amanda either.”
    Melissa and Sara rolled their eyes and turned to go. They got about ten paces when they realized that Zack wasn’t following them. They stopped and turned to look at him. Melissa and Sara traded a confused look. Zack was standing with his head cocked to one side. He looked as if he was listening very carefully for a faint noise.
    “Zack?” asked Sara, “what are you-,” but Zack cut her off.
    “Do you hear that?” he asked.
    Melissa and Sara trade a look and shook their heads. Then as the applause died down after Joey Thorvaldsen walked off the stage for receiving the award for Best Ant-farm, they heard it, a steady of rhythmic banging.
    “Do you hear it now?” asked Zack.
    Zack, Melissa and Sara looked at each other. “I think I heard it when we came in from outside,” said Zack. “I thought my ears were playing tricks on me-,” Sara cut him off.
    “No,” she said. “That has to be Milo.”
    Melissa cast an eye upward at the tangle of catwalks, stage lights and ductwork above the stage. There was a ladder at the far end of the stage leading up the catwalks. “C’mon” she said. She walked over to the ladder and started climbing. Sara followed in her wake. Zack paused for a second, gazing upward and the tangle metal and lights hanging over the stage. He felt the iron bands constricting around his chest again. He took a deep breath and forced himself to exhale slowly, then walked across the stage, following a little behind Sara.
    He got to the foot of the ladder, and placing his hands on the rungs in front of him, began to climb. Zack reached the top of the ladder a minute or two later. The area above the stage was a maze of catwalks. Zack could feel the heat rising from the stage lights slung on trusses beneath them. Melissa was looking upward into the ductwork, which was out of reach. Milo’s steady banging was coming from overhead. Zack, Melissa and Sara looked at each other. “OK,” said Zack after a long moment of studying the ductwork, “how do we get Milo and Amanda of there?”
    The three of them turned their attention back to the ductwork. It stretched across the stage from one wing to the other. There appeared to be no intake or outtake vents. Zack, Melissa and Sara looked at each other, all clearly thinking the same thing. Suddenly Zack had any idea. “C’mon,” he said, and turned to climbed back down the ladder to the stage.
    Melissa and Sara exchanged a surprised look. “Zack,” asked Melissa in hoarse whisper, “where are you going?”
    Zack paused halfway down the ladder and looked up at her. “Bathroom,” he said shortly.
    Melissa and Sara exchanged another look. “Really?” asked Sara. “Now?”
    Zack rolled his eyes. “What?” he asked in confusion, “no! Just come with me. I have an idea.”
    The three of them climbed down the ladder and quickly crossed walked back across the stage the the way they had come. They went back down the little flight of stairs, through the stage door and back into the gym as Derek Pendergast was the WIBA for Most Improved Guitar Player. They passed Coach Mitchell’s office and the stopped in front of the door next to it. The sign on the door read “BOYS’ CHANGING ROOM.”
    Melissa and Sara read the sign on the door and started to balk, but Zack pushed them through the door before they could protest. They found themselves in a short corridor lit from over head by utilitarian looking fluorescent lights. The changing room was at the end of the corridor. The room was lined with benches and lockers for storing schoolbags and clothes. Immediately inside the door and to their left was the door to the boys’ bathroom. Zack pushed open the door and the followed him inside. The three of them were immediately plunged into to complete darkness.
    “OK, Zack,” said Melissa, as she pulled out her phone, “why are we in the boys’ bathroom? How does that help us help Milo and Amanda?”
    “Because we can get into the air ducts that-,” he began, but Zack was cut off before he could finish his sentence as the room was suddenly flooded with light. Zack felt his pupils suddenly contract and he screwed his eyes shut against the sudden change in brightness.
    “Sorry,” said Sara, slightly sheepishly, “but there was this note over here by the light switch,” she handed Melissa a yellow sticky note with som scribbled writing on it. It read, “to light your way.”
    Melissa handed it to Zack, who took it from Melissa and read it. “It’s from the Great Key Keeper,” he said excitedly. “He must be trying to help us find Milo.”
    Sara looked confused. “Who is the Great Key Keeper?” she asked.
    “And that still doesn’t explain what’s we’re doing in the boys’ bathroom,” added Melissa.
    Zack looked back and forth between Melissa and Sara. He rolled his eyes. “Isn’t it obvious,” he said.
    “Ummmm…….no?” replied Sara.
    “We need to get into the ventilation system to find Milo and Amanda,” he explained. As Zack spoke, he felt a little as if he were explaining that 2+2=4 to a particularly slow four year old. “We know they’re over the stage, but we can’t get to them that-,” he continued.
    Melissa caught on first. “-because it’s too high,” she said, “even from the stage loft.”
    Zack nodded. “Right,” he said, “there are ceiling vents in the bathrooms and in the changing rooms, so…..” he trailed off, letting his logic sink in.
    Melissa nodded. “Milo’s trying to make easier for us to find him,” she said, “and these vents should be easier to reach.”
    Zack nodded and walked past Melissa and Sara into the bathroom. He ran his eyes over the walls and ceiling looking for the vents. Inside the door stretching from along one wall was a row of sinks, faucets and soap dispensers under a long mirror. At the far end of the room in an alcove and separated by dividers were several urinals. On the opposite wall stood a row of cubicles.
    “Look,” said Zack, pointing, “over the toilets.” In the ceiling over the row of cubicles was a ceiling vent. Zack pulled open the door to the stall and stepped inside. Bracing himself against the walls of the cubicle, Zack carefully stepped up onto the toilet seat and examined the vent grill in the ceiling. It was held in place by four screws. He climbed back down and exited the stall. “We need a screw driver,” he said.
    Melissa nodded. “Let’s look around,” she replied. “Maybe the Key Keeper left us some tools.”
    Sara looked confused again. “Who exactly is the Key Keeper?” she asked again. Zack and Melissa took turns telling her to story how the Great Key Keeper had helped them the previous year when Melissa had accidentally locked Ms. Camillichec’s classroom key inside her classroom when they had gone back to school one evening last year to get Melissa’s math book when she had left it behind.
    Sara looked sceptically and Zack and Melissa. She searched back through her memory, recalling when she had been a student at Jefferson G County Middle School. She vaguely remembered Neal talking about the Great Key Keeper. She had dismissed him at the time. Had she been wrong? “I don’t know,” she said slowly. “I always thought the Key Keeper was just an urban myth.”
    Zack was shacking his head. “Nope,” he said. “He helped us last year. We even saw him. Well,” he amended, “Milo and Melissa did.”
    “Really?” asked Sara.
    Melissa nodded. “Yeah, Coach Mitchell believes in him too.”
    “He says that the Key Keeper keeps leaving him little notes like this one,” replied Melissa. She scanned the bathroom, as if looking to see if the Key Keeper had left any other notes or signs of assistance. There nothing on the long counter. Zack ran his hand along the underside of the counter, hoping to find a screwdriver there. Melissa and Sara systematically checked all of the cubicles and found nothing.
    Zack, Melissa and Sara stared at each other for a second or two. “Are you sure that that note is actually from the Key Keeper?” asked Sara.
    Melissa shrugged. “Well, it’s definitely his handwriting,” she said.
    “Why don’t we check the lockers in the changing room,” suggested Zack. “Maybe he left something there.”
    “Good idea,” replied Melissa. With Zack in the lead, the three of them pushed open the bathroom door and headed down the short corridor into the boys changing room. A folding ladder stood propped against the rows of lockers that occupied the opposite wall. On the floor next to the ladder sat an open tool box.
    From across the room, Zack could see the yellow note stuck to the ladder. He crossed the room in a couple of strides and retrieved the note. It held the same scribbled handwriting as the previous one. This one read, “steps to guide your path.” Zack handed the note to Melissa and Sara. “Look,” he said, “the Key Keeper is definitely helping us.” He picked up the toolbox and turned back toward the bathroom door. “C’mon.”
    The three of them walked back into the bathroom, Melissa and Sara with the stepladder under their arms. While Melissa and Sara wedged the ladder in an upright position in the tight confines of the cubicle, Zack was busy rummaging through the contents of the toolbox. It was full of pliers of various shapes and sizes, bundles of wire, screwdrivers and wrenches. Zack found a headlamp and some extra batteries. He put the headlamp on his forehead and put a couple of extra batteries in his pocket. He picked up a flat headed screwdriver and turned back toward the cubicle, where Melissa and Sara had finished setting up the ladder. It was wedged awkwardly in the stall, leaning against the toilet, Zack felt his chest constricting again, as if he had momentarily forgotten how to breathe. He stuck the screwdriver in his other pocket and forced himself to exhale.
    He stepped into the stall and placed his hands on the rings of the ladder. Zack climbed the ladder, trying to ignore the increasing tightness in his chest. Zack’s hands must have been shaking because Sara said, “it’s OK, Zack. You don’t need to go.”
    Zack started and nearly fell off the ladder. He quickly sized up Melissa and Sara and then looked at the grill in the ceiling, mentally measuring the width of the opening against the with of Melissa and Sara’s shoulders. He took another deep breath and shook his head. “Actually,” he replied, “I’m not sure either of you will fit.”
    Zack took another deep breath and climbed to the top of the ladder. He stopped, pulled out the screwdriver and quickly removed the four screws holding the vent grill in place. It came loose in his hands and he handed it to Melissa. He clicked on the headlamp. The darkness seemed to swallow the beam of light from his headlamp. As he climbed into the air duct, it seemed to contract in on itself. For half a second, Zack was afraid that he was going to freeze in the opening. He forced himself to keep going and crawled into the narrow confines of the air duct.
    Zack began to crawl slowly forward. A thin layer of dust lined the bottom of the ventilation duct. The air inside the ventilation duct was slight musty and Zack thought he smelled the scent of perspiration and body odour. He kept crawling forward. He had gone about ten feet when his phone rang. Zack paused and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He tapped his screen and wedged his phone between his shoulder and his ear.
    “Are you OK in there?” asked Melissa.
    Zack took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He found that he was actually able to breathe relatively easily. He took another breath. And then another. And another.“Considering that this is the most claustrophobic situation I’ve ever been in, I’m actually doing OK,” he replied.
    “Where are you?”asked Melissa
    A barely visible pattern light and shadows was splayed across the top of the ventilation duct. Taking another deep breath, Zack reached up and clicked off his headlamp. He was immediately plunged into near total darkness. Zack’s pupils dilated to their widest possible extent. The only light in the ventilation duct came from Zack’s phone and the vent grill. He peered down through it. There was a desk and a chair in the middle of the room and a battered looking filing cabinet in one corner. “I’m not sure,” he said. “I think I’m over Coach Mitchell’s office.”
    “OK,” replied Melissa. “Just keep going straight. There’s a vertical rise about about thirty feet in front of you,” she said. “If you can climb it, you should be over the stage.”
    Zack paused and momentarily held his phone away from his ear. He thought he could hear distant banging, but he couldn’t be sure. He suddenly heard Melissa’s voice in his ear.
    “Zack?” she said, “Zack? Can you still hear me?”
    Zack started and almost dropped his phone through the vent grill. He caught it on the tips of his fingers and put it to his ear. “Yeah, I’m still here,” he said. He wedged his phone between his shoulder and his ear again, and reaching up, clicked on his headlamp. The beam pushed back the darkness and Zack felt his heart rate slow slightly. He let out a breath, which he hadn’t realized that he had been holding. He suddenly remembered what Melissa had been saying. “Wait, now do you know that?” he asked.
    Melissa’s voice carried the suggestion of a shrug. “The Key Keeper left a diagram of the gym’s ventilation system in his toolbox.”
    That jogged something in Zack’s memory. He had seen a folded piece of paper in the Key Keeper’s toolbox.That would have been nice information to know earlier, he thought. “OK, thanks Melissa,” he said, and he hung up.
     
  12. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Fifty Nine


    Zack kept crawling forward. He eventually reached the vertical shaft. The sound of Milo and Amanda’s steady banging seemed to be growing louder. With difficulty, Zack turned over on his back and inched his way into the upright shaft. He felt his chest constrict again. The wall was only a inch or two away from the end of his nose. He looked up and the beam of his headlamp flared brightly off of the walls ventilation shaft. He could see where it open up onto another air duct about thirty feet above him. Zack wasn’t sure of his imagination was playing tricks on him or not, but it seemed as if it it were narrower than it actually was. OK, thought Zack, OK, I can do this. He pressed his back firmly against the opposite wall of the ventilation shaft, wedged his knees into the corners and began to climb.

    It took Zack twenty minutes to make the thirty foot climb. By the time he got to the top, Zack’s thigh muscles were cramped and his arms were aching. He levered himself, with difficulty on to the floor of the ventilation duct, and lay there for several minutes, panting. Eventually, once he had caught his breath, Zack pushed himself back up on to his elbows and knees again. He saw something silhouetted in the dim light of ahead of him. It looked like two people crouched on all fours. One of them was wearing a backpack. Zack crawled toward, his knees and elbows aching from the repeated impact with the floor of the ventilation duct. “Milo? Amanda?” asked Zack, his voice echoing slightly, “are you OK?”

    The sound of hammering stopped as Milo craned his neck around over his shoulder to look at Zack. A dull thunk echoed through the confined space as Milo hit his head on the top of the duct. “Zack?” he said in mix of amazement and confusion, “what the-? How did-?”

    “I got in through the vent over the toilets in the boys’ bathroom,” he replied. “The Key Keeper helped us.”

    Amanda opened her mouth to ask, “who is the Key Keeper?” but before she could say anything everything lurched sideways. A bright shaft of light pierced the dark confines of the air duct and the three of them were sliding. Then they were airborne and a second or two later, landed with a jarring thud that forcibly drove the air from Zack’s lungs on the network of catwalks that crisscrossed the stage loft. They all lay still for several seconds, as if waiting for something else to happen. “Is everyone OK?” asked Zack hesitantly.

    “Uhhh…..yeah,” replied Milo, in a slightly muffled voice, “can you both get off me please?”

    “Oh, yeah sure,” said Zack. He rolled off of Amanda, but before he could get to his feet, everything lurched sideways again. One of the braided steel cables that supported the stage loft had snapped and the whole structure had swung sideways with the sound of rending metal, as it collided with the light bars, which were hung underneath.

    Milo and Amanda quickly got to their feet. “I think we should get out of here,” said Milo.

    “The ladder is this way,” replied Zack, jerking his head toward the far end of the stage. “C’mon.” They had take maybe ten steps when Zack’s stomach lurched and his foot came down on empty air. They suddenly found themselves in free-fall. The remaining cables suspending the stage loft, the lighting rigs and the curtain above the stage had snapped. With a defeating crashing, Milo, Zack and Amanda, plus the whole assemblage of twisted metal crashed through the stage and into the basement.



    When Milo came to his senses, his ears were ringing from the cacophony of rent and twisted metal. He lay very still, checking for injuries. Several seconds seemed like several eternities. He sat up slowly. When nothing else happened, Milo got to his feet. He tried to take a and step stumbled slightly. Milo suddenly realized that his left ankle was throbbing. He shrugged off his backpack and let it fall to ground. Milo sat down and pulled off his loafer and then his sock. His ankle was swollen and rapidly turning a deep and mottle purple colour. He probed it with his fingers. He could feel the jagged pieces of his broken ankle bones where they snagged on each other. Milo pulled his backpack toward him, opened it and began rummaging through its contents. He pulled out a splint and some bandages and wrapped his ankle, then got to his feet again. He stood for a second or two, testing his weight on his broken ankle. It throbbed and he gritted his teeth. Milo took a cautious step. And then another. And another. And other. He began limping through the twisted wreckage, carefully picking his way around broken lights and twisted metal. The soles of Milo’s loafers crunched loudly on shards of broken glass. “Zack? Amanda?” he called, “are you OK?”

    Something moved in the corner of Milo’a eye. He turned and his ankle protested loudly. Milo stopped as he felt his broken ankle bones grating against each other. He looked up and saw Melissa standing at the edge of the huge hole that had been punched in the floor of the stage. She picked her way down to the bottom of the pile of wreckage that had been the stage lights and loft a few minutes ago. She looked around wide eyed at the destruction Murphy’s Law had wrought. “Milo, are you OK?” she asked.

    Milo nodded. “I broke my ankle,” he replied with a shrug, “but it’s not as if I haven’t done that before.”

    “C’mon,” replied Melissa, “we need to find Zack and Amanda.”

    “Right,” replied Milo. “Hey, look,” he said. He bent over and picked something up. When Milo straightened up again, he had something in his hand. He was holding a WIBA award statuette in his hand. The plaque on the base of the award read:


    Zack Underwood

    Greatest Personal Growth


    “I found Zack’s WIBA,” said Milo.

    No sooner had Milo finished talking than they heard something shift, and a hand with an olive complexion appeared. “Can anyone hear me?” cried a muffled voice. It was Amanda. Milo and Melissa quickly cleared away the debris and helped Amanda to her feet. There was a cut on her face, which was caked with dried blood.

    Milo suddenly felt a little bit guilty. Planning the WIBAs had been important to Amanda. Milo had let himself get roped into helping her because he had wanted to know that he appreciated what he had done for him in San Fransokyo. Now all of that was in ruins. Because of him. Milo knew that he should ask Amanda if she was OK, but suddenly found that he couldn’t look at her. Or didn’t want to. He wasn’t sure which, but in either case in he took more time than was necessary to look through his backpack for his first aid kit. He eventually found it and cleaned and bandaged the cut on Amanda’s face.

    When he as done patching up Amanda, Milo continued to pick his way through the wreckage of the stage. Melissa and Amanda fell into line behind him. They hadn’t gone very far when they heard something shift again.

    “I think I heard something,” said Amanda, pointing. “It came from over here.”

    “C’mon,” said Milo. Together the three of them scrambled over a pile of debris. Milo had to watch his footing on account of his ankle, which protested loudly on a couple of occasions when his footing slipped. They found Zack propped up on his elbows. His right leg was sticking out at an odd angle. Milo could tell at once that Zack’s leg was broken and he felt slightly guilty again. Milo pushed the thought axis with some effort.

    “Hi guys,” said Zack. He surveyed Milo, Melissa and Amanda. Zack’s eyes rested briefly on the cut above Amanda’s eye. “Are you guys OK?”

    Milo opened his mouth to say, “no,” but Melissa cut him off and said, “we’re fine, relatively speaking.” She nodded at Zack’s broken leg. “Can you stand?”

    Zack shook his head. “I’m not sure,” he said, “but I don’t think so.”

    A shadow fell over the four of them. Milo, Melissa and Amanda turned to see Richard Chase, picking his way down the pile of debris from the stage into the basement. He looked incongruous in his suit and tie surrounded by all the destruction that had been wrought by Murphy’s Law. “Are you kids OK?” he asked, casting an experienced eye over Milo, Zack, Melissa and Amanda. He took note of the cut on Amanda’s forehead and Zack’s broken leg. He knelt down and ran his hands over Zack’s leg. Zack winced at his touch.

    “Zack, can you walk?” asked Richard.

    Zack shook his head. “I don’t think so,” he said. “I think my leg is broken,” he said.

    Melissa looked back and forth between Zack and her father. “Is he going to be OK?”

    Richard nodded. “Zack, I think you’re going to be fine, but you’re going to have to go to the hospital.” He thought for a second. “Your Mom’s a doctor isn’t she?”

    Zack nodded and rattled off her cell number.

    Richard thrust his hand into his inside jacket pocket, pulled out his phone and started dialling. “I’m going to call her and tell her to expect you.”


    The paramedics arrived not long afterward. They came down the basement stairs, which had remained unblocked. They examined Zack, cutting away his pant leg. The jagged end of his broken femur had broken through his skin. The pale white of Zack’s broken bone contrasted sharply with the dark colour of his skin. Milo suddenly felt himself becoming dizzy. He had never liked the sight of blood.

    One of the paramedics was leaning over Zack, talking to him quietly. He turned and nodded at his partner. “This is going to hurt,” he said.

    Zack nodded.”OW!” He suddenly felt a sharp pain in his leg as the paramedics set the bone. They applied a splint and wrapped Zack’s leg in bandages. They then levered him carefully on to the stretcher and stood up.

    Milo. Melissa and Amanda followed in their wake as they carefully picked their way through the wreckage, up the stairs and out of the basement. At the top of the stairs, they were met by Martin, Brigitte and Sara.

    “Milo, are you OK?” asked Brigitte.

    Milo nodded. “Yeah, Mom,” he replied, “I’m fine.”

    “What happened to Zack?” asked Sara. She eyed the Zack’s leg, wrapped in bandages, as he was carried past them by the paramedics. “Is he going to be alright?”

    “Zack has a broken leg,” replied Amanda. “They’re taking him to the hospital.”

    Out of the corner of his eye, Milo noticed Richard talking to Zack’s father. After a second or two they followed the paramedics carrying Zack’s stretcher out of the building. Milo, Melissa, Amanda and Sara watched them carry Zack out of the gym. Milo’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Martin talking.

    “C’mon kids,” he said. “I’ll take you to the hospital.”


    The drive from Jefferson G County Middle School to Danville Municipal Hospital took twenty minutes. Martin pulled in front of the main entrance and Milo, Melissa, Amanda and Sara piled out and went inside. They found themselves in a large glass atrium. The night sky outside was pitch black, which somehow seemed to intensify the bright white walls and floor of the expansive space. The spotlessly clean atrium seemed to Milo to be almost painfully bright. They walked past the circular information and turned down a wide corridor. Doors and side passages led to clinics, laboratories and doctors’ offices. They followed the signs and arrows until they reached the Emergency Department, threading their way through the steady flow of doctors, patients and nurses until they reached the patient intake desk.

    A young woman with shoulder length blond hair tied up into a bun under her surgical cap looked up as they approached. “Hi Martin,” she said, “Milo. Broke your ankle again?” she asked Milo. She had noticed that he was limping slightly.

    “Huh?” replied Milo, “oh, well yeah, but we’re to here for me. We’re looking for Zack.”

    “He came in with a broken leg,” explained Martin.

    “OK,” replied Janice. She turned to her computer and opened a window. After a second or two she frowned at her computer. “Sorry, Martin,” she said. “I’m going to have to ask you to sit in the waiting area.”

    “Murphy Law’s screwing up your computer?” asked Martin.

    She nodded. “Yeah,” replied Janice. “I’ll page you when I have know where he is.”

    Martin turned to usher the kids back into the waiting area. “Thanks Janice,” he said.

    “No problem, Martin,” she said. “Oh, and Milo, I’ll have someone look at your ankle, and that cut.” She nodded at Amanda’s forehead.

    “Thanks Janice,” replied Milo.

    The four of them went back into the waiting area and sat down. The waiting area was a open space with neat rows of slightly battered looking utilitarian chairs. People nursing various illnesses and injuries were scattered here and there. Posters, signs and notices hung on the walls. After about ten minutes Janice came over to them, weaving her way through the controlled confusion. “I found him,” she said. “He’s in Trauma #3.” She pointed to a heavy looking set of fire doors with windows made of safety glass. “Just go through the doors into the hall and go down the hall to the right,” she said. “Oh, and try not to stop in front of the radiology lab.”

    “Thanks, Janice,” said Milo.

    They got up and crossed the waiting area. The safety glass shattered at Milo and Martin’s approach. They pushed open the heavy double doors and went through them into the corridor beyond. Doctors, nurses and patients were milling around in hallway. Milo, Martin, Amanda and Melissa made their way down the busy corridor until they got to another set of double doors. They swung open automatically as the four of them approached and they went inside.

    They found themselves in a long room. Hospital beds divided by curtains marched away down both walls. Some were open and others were closed. There was a collection of the same kind of slightly battered looking chairs scattered somewhat haphazardly around the waiting area at the far end of the room. The noisy hum of a busy trauma ward on a Saturday night died as soon as Milo and Martin entered the room. The nurses behind the counter behind exchanged slightly alarmed looks as Milo, Martin, Melissa and Amanda approached them. One of them came out from behind the nurses’ station and met them half way.

    “Martin, Milo,”she said. “Is everything alright? You’re not-,” but Martin waved her away.

    “Hi Clarice,” he said, “yeah, we usually go straight up to the Murphy Suite, but we’re looking for a friend of Milo’s. He came in with a broken leg and we were told he was still here. We we just wanted to check on him.”

    “Oh,” said Clarice, slightly nonplussed. “What’s his name?”

    “Zack Underwood,” replied Milo.

    At that moment, a head stuck out a curtained partition at the far end of the ward under a large plastic sign bearing the number three. Dr. Eileen Underwood came walking down the ward. “I guess should I have expected you to show up,” she said.

    “How’s Zack?” asked Milo

    “Is he going to be OK?” asked Melissa.

    Dr. Underwood nodded. “He’s going to be fine. You just missed him,” she said. “Marcus took him up to the X-ray Lab on the eighth floor.” Her experience eye had already noticed the bandage on Amanda’s forehead and had guessed at Milo’s broken ankle. She gestured to a nearby empty bed. “Why don’t you both sit down and I’ll take a look.”
     
  13. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    He's the definition of a hero, the one who is "just brave five minutes longer. [than anyone else]"

    How gratifying!

    [face_hypnotized]
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
    Chancellor_Ewok likes this.
  14. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Sixty


    Milo hobbled over to the hospital bed and sat down. Amanda joined him. Dr. Underwood peered closely at the bandage that Milo had applied to Amanda’s forehead. She pulled on a clean pair of latex gloves and gently peeled off the bandage. She looked at it closely. The cut underneath was clotted and scabbed with dried blood. It was surrounded by a livid bruise, which had turned an angry shade of sullen purple. “Well, I’ve already heard Zack’s version of events,” she said to Milo and Amanda, “why don’t you tell yours.”

    Milo and Amanda spoke for fifteen minutes, taking turns to tell the story of how they had been locked out of the gym, and climbed the side of the building and gotten stuck in the gym’s ventilation system. Milo pulled Zack’s WIBA out of his backpack and handed to his mother. “Zack won his category,” he said. Milo shot a small look at Amanda and felt his insides squirm again.

    Dr. Underwood took the award statue from Milo. It was surprisingly heavy. She read the plaque on the base then looked at Milo. “Zack never told me that he had won anything,” she said.

    Milo shook his head. “He doesn’t know yet,” he replied. “The WIBAs ended,” Milo paused searching for the right word, “prematurely,” he said at last.

    Dr. Underwood absorbed this information. “This cut will need stitches,” she said. “Stay here while I get the nurse.” Dr. Underwood got up from the low stool that she had been sitting on and went out through the curtain, which rustled softly. Milo and Amanda heard her footsteps receding down the ward as they waited. The silence suddenly seemed to hang heavily in the air. Milo felt as thought he wanted to say something, but he wasn’t sure what it was or how to begin. It was as though his brain was jammed again.

    Milo’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the curtain swishing aside again, as the nurse entered. She was carrying a stainless steel tray with spool of medical thread, gauze, a needle, antiseptic and syringe and a vial of morphine. She smiled at Milo.

    “Hi Milo,” she said. “Haven’t seen you in the hospital for a while.”

    Milo immediately snapped out of his revery. “Oh, hi Lindsey,” replied Milo. “Yeah, the last time I needed the hospital, I was out of town.”

    Lindsey bent down and examined Amanda’s cut. “This doesn’t look too bad,” she said. She swabbed it with some antiseptic, which stung slightly and Amanda winced.

    Lindsey put down the used antiseptic swab, which was now stained a dark rusty red colour with clotted blood. She picked up the syringe and vial of morphine. She held the vial up to the light and inspected closely, looking for air bubbles. When she didn’t find any, she inserted the needle through the rubber membrane and drew some of the liquid up into the syringe. She gently flicked the needle with her finger, bursting any unseen air bubbles. Amanda felt a sharp prick and reflexively flinched slightly as the needle broke her skin, the pain in her forehead became noticeably dulled as the morphine too hold.

    Lindsey withdrew the needle and put it on the tray next to the vial and the swab. Next she picked up the needle and the surgical thread, which she carefully threaded through the eye. She picked up the needle and thread between thumb and forefinger and started to sew shut Amanda’s cut with a series of deft strokes.

    “So,” she said causally as she worked, “what did you two get into this time?”

    Milo shrugged. “We got stuck in the gym’s ventilation system,” he replied.

    “Really?” she asked. “That’s a new one, even for you.”

    Milo shrugged. “Not really,” he replied casually. “I was abducted by aliens twice last year. The first time I ended up trying to hide from them in the air vents on their ship.”

    Lindsey finished suturing shut Amanda’s cut. She sprayed it with disinfectant spray and put a clean bandage over it. “Good as new,” she said. “You may not even have a scar.”

    “Thanks,” replied Amanda.

    Lindsey turned to Milo. “Let’s take a look at you,” she said.

    Milo bent over and carefully pulled his loafer and his black dress sock, which he scrunched up into a ball and stuffed in the end of his shoe. Lindsey slid over on her stool, which squeaked loudly as it it rolled. She stopped in front of Milo and gently took hold of his foot, which was still wrapped in the splint and bandages he had wrapped it in earlier. She gently unwrapped the tensor bandage that Milo had wrapped his ankle in. It was swollen and had turned a livid looking shade purple. She probed it gently with her fingers and it throbbed in protest. “How did you do this?” she asked

    “I’m not entirely sure,” replied Milo, “but I think it’s broken.”

    Lindsey continued to probe Milo’s ankle, which continued throb in protest. “This is definitely broken,” she said. “You’ll need a walking boot.” She got up and went the supply cabinet. She opened and pulled a box of tensor bandages and a splint in a plastic wrapper. She opened the wrapper with a crinkling sound. She put it on top of the supply cabinet next to the hospital bed then opened the box of bandages and took one out. She held the pressed the splint to Milo’s ankle with one hand and began wrapping the tensor bandage around his foot with the other. It only took a minute or two to for Lindsey to rewrap Milo’s ankle. When she was finished, she got up and went out through the curtain with a swish, returning a few minutes later a large plastic boot. She unwrapped it, pulled open the Velcro straps and handed it to Milo. He took it and pulled it all the way open, fitted it around his foot. He closed it and pulled the straps tight. Milo felt the bones in his ankle sliding back into place.

    Milo stood up. He carefully put his weight on his broken ankle and took couple of steps. His ankle throbbed a little, but Milo found that he was able to walk much more easily, now that his ankle had been properly wrapped. “Thanks, Lindsey,” he said.

    She smiled at him. “Just my job,” she replied, smiling at him.

    Milo and Amanda went back out through the curtain and walked past the nurses’ station to the waiting area at the opposite end of the ward. The pieces of several broken chairs were scattered around on the floor. Martin was leaning against the wall talking to Marcus. At some point Brigitte and Sara had arrived as well. They were sitting down and chatting with Melissa. They were over in a corner talking to Dr. Underwood.

    Sara saw them walking down the ward and broke away from her mother and Melissa. She walked casually over to Milo. “Hey little bro,” she said. “You OK?”

    “Hey Sara,” replied Milo. “I broke my ankle, all in all, a light evening.”

    “Zack’s upstairs in the Murphy Suite,” she said. The Murphy Suite was a specialized clinic that had been designed specifically for treating Murphys and Murphy’s Law related injuries.

    “We should go up and see him,” said Amanda. “We still have to give him his award.”

    “Oh,” said Sara, “did he win?” She had missed most of the show helping Zack and Melissa look for Milo and Amanda.

    Milo reached over his shoulder and thrust a hand into his backpack again. He pulled out Zack’s award and handed it to her. Sara took it and hefted it. She was surprised at how heavy it was. “Good for him,”she said, handing it back to Milo, “he deserves it.”

    At that moment, Melissa detached herself from Brigitte. She came over to where Milo, Amanda and Sara were standing and talking. “Hey guys,” she said to Milo and Amanda, “are you two OK?” Milo and Amanda both nodded. “So,” she continued, “are we going up to see Zack?”

    “Sure,” replied Milo. “C’mon.” With scarcely a glance over their shoulder, the four teenagers left the Trauma Centre and went out into the hallway. It was deserted. They walked down the hall toward the elevators and going. They passed them and pushed open a door marked “FIRE EXIT.”


    They emerged a few minutes later on the eighth floor. A large sign on the wall said The Murphy Suite over an arrow. Milo, Amanda, Melissa and Sara followed the arrows down the hall and around the corner until the came to a set of heavy duty fire doors. They pushed them open and went inside. The Murphy Suite was a self-contained clinic that took up most of the eighth floor. The clinic had been begun its existence as a specially equipped hospital room, the room that Martin had been born in, in fact. Over time and following subsequent hospital visits by both Martin and his equally hapless son, it had evolved into what was for all intents and purposes a hospital within a hospital. In addition to two private hospital rooms, the Murphy Suite also contained a reception area, an operating room, an MRI machine and a laboratory, in addition to a number storage rooms containing the sorts of things that all hospitals needed on a regular basis, such as syringes, latex gloves, hospital gowns, clean bed sheets, bottles of medicine, spare lab equipment and test kits of various sorts. The only thing that Murphy Suite did not have was its own pharmacy, and that had been discussed on several occasions. The lab’s equipment had had to be specially designed to be as resistant as possible to the effects of Murphy’s Law.

    Amanda looked around as they entered the reception area. “So this is the Murphy Suite?” she asked. She looked around. They were standing in a nondescript looking reception area. There were a few chairs, a table with some magazines scattered across its surface and a slightly bored looking nurse at the reception desk. She looked up at the sound of the opening doors.

    “Hi Gladys,” said Milo.

    Gladys smiled at him. “Milo,” she said, “I haven’t seen you in awhile. How are you.” Her experienced gaze took in Milo’s walking boot and Amanda’s stitches. “Been in a bit of a scrape again have you?” she asked. “Are you kids OK?”

    Milo nodded. “Yeah,” he said, “we’re OK, but we’re looking for a friend, his name is Zack Underwood, we were told that he was sent up here. Has he come up yet?”

    Gladys nodded. “He’s in Room #2,” she replied. “He came up just before you did.”

    “Thanks Gladys,” replied Milo. They walked past the reception desk and down and a short hallway. They came to a T-junction, then turned left. They walked down another short hallway until they came to two doors that stood opposite each other. They pushed open the door on the right, which had a large plastic number two affixed to it. The door was slightly ajar. Milo had jut raised his hand to push it open, when the clatter of metal and a loud cry of pain issued from the other side of the door. Without hesitating, Milo pushed open the door. He went inside and Sara, Melissa and Amanda piled into the room behind him.

    Zack was lying in bed. He was tangled in the traction frame that had been elevating his broken leg. It had spontaneously collapsed as Milo had bee, about to open the door. The look on Zack’s face was halfway between a smile and a grimace. He took several deep breaths as the pain in his leg subsided. Zack’s hands had instinctively balled into fists. He unclenched his fists and let go of the blankets covering his hospital bed.

    Milo suddenly felt a little sheepish. “I’ll be right back,” he said. “I just go get the nurse.” Milo left and came back a couple of minutes laters with Gladys in tow. She surveyed the scene for a few seconds and immediately ushered Milo, Melissa, Sara and Amanda out of the room. She went back to the nurses’ station. Milo, his sister and their friends followed her back to the waiting area. They sat down to wait. Milo decided not to risk sitting down, even though the chairs were sturdier than the ones down stairs. Everything in the Murphy Suite was either over built or intentionally simplified in order to resist the effects of Murphy’s Law. Gladys picked up the phone and dialled the number for hospital maintenance, spoke briefly and put the phone down again. Then she dialled another number and paged the Trauma Centre where she had another brief conversation, this time with Dr. Underwood.

    “OK, thank you,” she said. “We’ll be right up.”

    Gladys put down the phone and turned to the four teenagers milling around in with not much to do. “I spoke to the maintenance staff and the Trauma Centre, they’re both sending someone up shortly.”

    “Thanks Gladys,” replied Sara.

    There were several minutes of silence. Amanda looked as though she was having a silent debate with herself. Finally, as she could stand it no longer, she broke the silence. “Milo, I hope you don’t me me asking,” she said. She spoke in a rush, as if she wanted to ask her question quickly before she could change her mind, “but how is it that you have an entire click named after you?” she asked.

    Milo shrugged. “Actually, I don’t if you want to get really technical,” he replied.

    Melissa’s eyebrows went up in slight surprise. “Really?” she said, “but I always thought that-,” Milo cut her off with a shake of his head.

    “The Murphy Suite’s full name is the Martin A Murphy Clinic for the Treatment of Extreme Hereditary Murphy’s Law,” said Milo in a slightly formal sounding voice, “but I can see the confusion, as I was born here.”

    “So was your father.” Everyone turned at the unexpected sound. Brigitte, Martin, and Zack’s parents were framed in the doorway. It was Brigitte who had spoken.

    Standing next to her, Martin nodded. “I was,” he replied, “Mom and Dad raised a lot of money for the hospital over the years.” He gestured at their surroundings. “The hospital built all this a way of saying thank you.” Martin looked around as he suddenly realized that something was amiss. “What are you kids doing out here, anyway?” he asked, “shouldn’t you be in with Zack?”

    “Well that was the idea,” replied Milo, “but-,” he was interrupted by the doors opening again. Several workmen in blue coveralls entered. They stopped momentarily and looked around, slight confused.

    “I don’t understand,” said one of the workmen. The name tag sewn on the the front of his coveralls said that his name was Jeff. “I thought this was a Code M.”

    His parters both nodded. “Yeah,” said Dan. “There’s Milo-,”

    “Hi Milo,” interjected Josh.

    “Hey guys,” replied Milo.He pointed down the hall to Zack’s hospital room.”The Code M is down there.”

    “OK, thanks Milo,” said Josh.

    “Sure thing guys,” he said.

    The three workmen trooped through the waiting area and down the hall. It didn’t take that long to reassemble Zack’s traction frame and they stumped back out again with a friendly, “‘bye Milo,” as they exited.

    “Bye guys,” Milo called after them as they left.

    Gladys disappeared as soon as Jeff, Dan and Al had left and then reappeared five minutes later. “You can go in and see him now,” she said.

    Milo started walking down the hall. The others fell into line behind him. He paused momentarily at the door to Zack’s hospital room, as if was if waiting for something to happen. When nothing did, Milo pushed open the door and went inside.

    Zack was sitting up in bed. “Hey buddy,” he said, “took you long enough.”
     
  15. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Sixty One


    They all piled into the hospital room. Zack was sitting up in bed. His right leg was elevated at a forty five degree angle and wrapped in a thick cast. “Hey guys,” he said.

    “Hi Zack,” Melissa.

    “How are you feeling?” asked Amanda.

    Zack shrugged. “Fine,” he replied, “I broke my leg, buts its not as if that hasn’t happened before. So, did anyone actually manage to see any of the awards show?”

    Milo gave a characteristic casual shrug. “Well,” he said, “I know that you won.”

    For half a second, Zack looked like a deer caught in on-coming headlights. “Wait, Milo what do you mean, I won?”

    “Just what he said,” replied Melissa, with a laugh. Milo pulled open the top flap of his backpack. He thrust a hand inside and began rummaging through its contents. After a few seconds of searching, Milo’s hand closed over the large gold award statue. He pulled it out and handed it to Zack. He took it from Milo and looked at it for what seemed like a long time. He suddenly felt as though everyone was looking at him, waiting for him to say something.

    Zack looked around the room his parents at his parents and his friends. He opened his mouth and then closed it, apparently lost for words. After a second or two he opened his mouth again. He had apparently found his voice again. “I, umm, I don’t know what to say-,” began Zack.

    “Well you could say thank you-,” Milo interjected with a chuckle.

    Zack felt himself grow hot. “Yeah, ummm, right,” he said. “Thanks.” He read the plaque affixed the base of the statue.

    Zack Underwood

    Greatest Personal Growth


    He was confused. He couldn’t imagine when he had displayed any personal growth. “I don’t understand,” he said, “I’m not sure what I did to deserve this.”

    To Zack’s surprise, Milo chuckled again. “Well,” he said, “let’s start with San Fransokyo,” he said. Milo started ticking off incidents on his fingers as he talked. “Then there were the Octalians,” he said,

    “Twice,” interjected Melissa.

    Milo nodded. “Yeah,” he said in agreement, “and Duckburg and the Pistachions and-,” he stopped talking as Zack held up a hand.

    “OK, OK,” he said, “I get it, we’ve been through a lot since we became friends, but who’s idea was this anyway?”

    Melissa and Amanda both said, “Milo,” at the same time.

    Of course, thought Zack. It was typical Milo. They all knew what Milo went through on a daily basis. Time travel, plant monsters, aliens, alternate dimension, superheroes, sometimes a it felt like being thrown into a science fiction movie. Zack had never been able to decide if that was a good thing or not. Sometimes it felt like both at the same time. Milo was frequently harassed by people didn’t understand him and didn’t want him around. He sudden remembered that had happened to them all last year. They had all landed in detention as a result of a misunderstanding involving an overly harsh substitute teacher and Murphy’s Law. Zack had unexpectedly found himself opening up about how he felt about it friendship with Milo and had admitted that he sometimes felt like a bystander in his own life. The admission had caught Milo off guard and when Murphy’s Law had inevitably struck, Milo had stepped back and let Zack handle the situation.

    Zack suddenly remembered something else. In February, before the San Fransokyo incident, Milo had allowed himself to be roped into helping Amanda plan the WIBAs. He looked at the award, which he still held in his hand. Wait,he thought, did Milo rig the WIBAs? He immediately pushed the thought away. It took some effort. Zack suddenly felt as if he neither wanted or deserved it. There was a part of him that wanted to hand it back to Milo and tell him to keep it. He was suddenly aware of everyone looking him, still waiting for him to say something. Zack reached over and put the award on the cabinet next to his bed. “Thanks guys,” he said. “I really appreciate it.”

    “It’s too bad you weren’t able to make it on stage this year,” said Sara.

    “Yeah,” said Milo slightly wistfully, “I guess I won’t have another chance will I?”

    “You never know little bro,” replied Sara, “there are four years of high school after all.”

    Milo had opened his mouth in response when Dr. Underwood interrupted. “I’m afraid that I’m going to have to ask you leave it there,” she said, “at least for now.” Zack started to protest, but his mother shook her head. “I’m sorry, son” she said emphatically, “I’ve allowed your friends to stay for awhile, but it’s getting late and you need your sleep.”

    Brigitte nodded in agreement. “Yeah, come on kids,” she said. “It’s getting late.” She gathered them up and ushered them out of the room.


    Zack was discharged from the hospital three days later. Nearly all the snow that had fallen in the last winter storm before the WIBAs had melted. The air was warmer than it had been in months and the sun shone down on Danville out of a clear blue sky. March rolled over into April and the last traces of winter were washed away in a gentle rain. Milo put away his heavy winter coat, gloves and snowsuit and got out his rain gear instead.

    “Good morning class,”said Mrs. Camillichec one morning in early April during a rain storm.

    “Good morning, Mrs. Camillichec,” replied her students dutifully.

    “I would like to congratulate you all for the hard work you have put in in my class this year,” she said, “but you are only a few months away from graduating from the eighth grade, as such, we don’t have that much more to cover before you will have to start reviewing for your final exams.” She spent the next ten minutes outlining what they were going to be covering. They spent the rest of the lesson working their way through a series of increasingly complicated algebra problems. By the time the bell rang signalling the end of the lesson Milo felt a little bit wrung out, and it wasn’t even lunch time. They got the same speech in all of their classes except for Phys Ed. It was always hit or miss as to whether or not they’d be doing anything in gym class. Coach Mitchell was supposed to be teaching them to baseball, but he never showed up. They spent the first ten or fifteen minutes milling around the in the home team dug out next to the baseball diamond. Gradually, the other kids began drifting away when it became clear that Coach Mitchell wasn’t going to show. Soon Milo, Zack, Melissa and Amanda were the only kids left. They looked around at the empty baseball diamond.

    “Soooooo,” said Zack, after a second or two, “library?”

    They all shrugged in response and started walking. They had had a mountain of homework dumped on them. They figured that they may as well get started.

    “I suppose it’s just as well,” said Milo to no-one in particular as they set off for the library. “the last time I tried to play baseball, I broke Bradley’s glasses.”

    They all chuckled. “Wait, you actually played baseball?” replied Melissa, a note of surprise in her voice. She clearly hadn’t heard this story before.

    “Yeah,” said Amanda, “I always thought Murphy’s Law and team sports were-,”

    “-not compatible?” interjected Milo. He nodded. “Most of the time they aren’t.”

    “So what happened?”asked Zack. “How did you end up playing baseball? I mean were you actually any good?”

    Milo laughed. “No,” he said, “I was terrible, and it was Dad’s idea. He signed me up for Little League was I was seven.” He paused as they rounded the corner and crossed the football field. “He thought it would be a good way for me to meet other kids.”

    “So how did you break Bradley’s glasses?” asked Melissa.

    Milo shrugged. “We were on opposing teams,” he replied, “and I was pitching-,” Zack interrupted.

    “Wait, hang on,” he said incredulously, “you were a pitcher?

    Milo shrugged and nodded again, as Melissa stifled a snort of laughter. “What is with you dangerous round objects?”she asked.

    Milo chuckled in response. “Good question,” he said.

    “So back to Bradley’s glasses,” said Zack.

    “Oh yeah, right,” replied Milo. “Anyway, it was the last game of the regular season, and we had averaged zero wins and and fifty six losses.”

    “What?”interjected Zack, he thought for a second trying remember how long a regular season of Little League baseball was, “seriously? You lost every game?”

    “We did,” replied Milo. “It was the worst losing streak in the history of Little League Baseball in Danville.”

    “So what was your batting average?”asked Zack.

    “Around two hundred,” replied Milo.

    “That’s actually not terrible,” replied Zack.

    “Yeah,” replied Milo, “but have you ever heard anyone else who can only hit fouls?”

    “Really?” asked Amanda, “shouldn’t that be impossible?”she asked, “even for you?”

    “You’d think that wouldn’t you,” said Milo with a laugh, “but no. I hit ten foul balls in a row in my last at bat. I eventually had to have a designated hitter.” They reached the other side of the football field and made their way through the tunnel under the stands and past the locker rooms. Their voices echoed slightly in the confined space.

    “So how do we get from there to Bradley’s glasses?” asked Melissa as the four of them exited the tunnel.

    “Well, like I said,” replied Milo,” as they reached the edge of the parking lot, “Bradley’s team had the last at bat of the game and he was at the plate. I wound up and threw the ball. He hit it and it came straight back at me. I ducked and it kept going. It hit the second baseman, the short stop, a tree and two cars in the parking lot.” They reached the other side of the parking lot and stepped up onto the grass. The wayward baseball had then bounced around the batter’s cage several times, before hitting Bradley square in the face as he had been about to dive for home. Milo chuckled at the memory, in spite of himself. “He was pretty steamed,” he said. “He wound up missing the playoffs. He had to order a new pair of glasses,” Milo continued, “The Hamilton Hawks went all the way to the final round of the play-offs. Bradley was their best hitter. If he had been able to play, they might have won the Tri-State Championship.”

    “Is that why Bradley doesn’t like you?” asked Amanda, as they climbed up the steps.

    Milo paused for a second or two before answering. He had never considered that before. “I suppose it’s possible,” he replied at last, with a shrug. Milo and Bradley had never exactly been on friendly terms. The friction that had always existed between the two boys had gone all the way back to the first time they had ever met in the first grade. Milo had always assumed that Bradley had simply kept him at arms’ length, for the same reason that most other people did, because of Murphy’s Law. Did Bradley think that Milo had broken his glasses on purpose? Milo pushed open the door and went inside with the others, lost in his thoughts. Maybe there’s a way to make it up to Bradley, thought Milo as the four of them walked down the hall toward the library.

    Milo pushed these thoughts aside as they walked through the wide double doors and into the library. The large space in the middle of the stacks was was deserted. Everyone else was still in class. They walked into the middle of the room and dropped their backpacks on the nearest table. Milo opened his backpack, pushed aside his welding mask and began pulling out his school books, which he piled unceremoniously on the table in front of him. Many of the pages were singed and blacked around the edges.

    “So where do we want to start?”asked Zack, his head buried in his backpack. He pulled out a thick binder and dropped it on the table with a solid sounding thump. The others followed suit. Zack opened it and began riffling through the pages until he found what he wanted. He had written down a list of all their final assignments for all of their classes.

    “Well, there’s Mrs. White’s English essay,” said Melissa, pulling out her own books. After a second or two, she suddenly realized that she seemed to have forgotten something and dove back into her bag. They could hear her muttering to herself as she rifled through its contents. “Of for the love of- where is it?” she asked herself out loud.

    “Melissa did you forget a book again?” asked Zack with a bemused sigh. It wasn’t the first time she had forgotten a book.

    Melissa straightened up at the sound of her name. She brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes. Milo was rummaging through his backpack. He pulled out a slightly battered copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “Looking for something?” he asked with a slight chuckle.

    Melissa took the book from him. “Thanks, Milo,” she said.

    Milo shrugged casually. “I noticed that you left it on your desk, in Mrs.White’s room, before we went down to gym class,” he said, “so I picked it up for you.”

    “So when is that due again?” asked Melissa.

    Amanda was tapping and swiping through various screens. “May 12th,” she said with barely a second’s hesitation. “After that, we’re into exam review.”

    They all scribbled down the date in their notes. “What else?”asked Milo.

    “Well we still need to finish Mr. Draco’s history project,” replied Zack.

    Milo suddenly felt as thought something heavy had settled into his stomach. Between San Fransokyo and the WIBAs not long afterward, Mr. Draco’s history project had largely slipped his mind. Hoping the the others wouldn’t notice, Milo quickly rifled through his notes, trying remember how much work he had left to do. A lot, as it turned out. He frowned slightly, in annoyance. He was usually more on top his homework than that. Milo stood up and shouldered his backpack. “I think I’m going to start there,” he said. He had to work at keeping the note of forced casualness out of his voice. He hoped nobody noticed.

    Milo disappeared into the stacks and came back a few minutes later with a stack of books haphazardly balanced in his arms. He dumped the stack of books on to the table and opened one at random. He quickly ran his eye over the handout that Mr. Draco had given them, making a mental note of the books he need. He sauntered casually away into the stacks and began pulling books off of the shelves. He had to stop several times when Murphy’s Law first threatened to topple a bookcase full of heavy physics books and then several several shelves of hardcover novels also came down on his head. When Milo returned, his arms weighed down with a haphazard collection of books. Amanda was sitting on the opposite side of the table. Several neat piles of books and notes were spread in front of her. All of them were colour coded and arranged by subject. Zack and Melissa had disappeared. Their backpacks were sitting on their chairs. Milo assumed they were somewhere in the stacks looking for books for their homework.

    Milo tipped his armload of books on the table with a thud and shrugged off his backpack. He let it fall to the ground, where it landed with a thud. Amanda looked up from her books. “Milo did you forget about your Mr. Draco’s history project?” she asked.

    For a half a second, Milo cast wildly around for some excuse, but he couldn’t think of one and flushed a little. “Ummm, yeah,” he said after a minute or two. “Sorry, Amanda.”

    Amanda shrugged and stopped what she was doing. She rifled through a stack of notes covered in blue and yellow highlighter ink. After a second or two she pulled some neatly typed pages out of the stack and handed them to him. Milo took them and ran his eye down the first page.

    “I realize been you’ve busy lately,” lately she said, “what with San Fransokyo and then the WIBAs and everything, so I typed this up for you.”

    “Thanks, Amanda,” said Milo. He glanced through the rest of the pages that Amanda had handed him and then at the pile of books scattered haphazardly across the surface of the table. He realized they were mostly the wrong books. Milo gathered them up, dumped them unceremoniously on to return cart and went off to find the books on the book list that Amanda had made up for him. He then sauntered off into the stacks again to look for the books on Amanda’s book list. By the time he has found them all, the last bell of the day rang and it was time to go back to home room.
     
  16. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Aw, this makes me sad. :(

    A happy event, though he's in bad shape physically.

    What a pal! :)
     
  17. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Sixty Two


    Over the next couple of weeks, the weather got steadily warmer. The lawn in front of Milo’s house slowly turned from the drab brown of winter into the bright green of spring as the first blades of grass shot up out of the soil. The branches of the tree in the backyard bearing Milo’s ramshackle treehouse was heavy with bud and would soon put forth its foliage. Milo spent the whole of the three weeks between the WIBA and the third week of April on pins and needles. He had looked at his calendar and been surprised to find that the Strings Attached concert was only a couple of weeks away. On a number of occasions Milo had found himself gazing longingly at the tickets that Amanda had given him for his fourteenth birthday, which now seemed like forever ago. They were pinned to the bulletin board which hung on the wall next to his bed. At others Milo was half afraid that Murphy’s Law was going to strike and irradiate them into particulate matter.

    Milo stepped out of the shower, dried himself off and stood in front of the bathroom mirror to brush his teeth. The mirror cracked on cue and Milo’s splintered reflection stared back him as he spit his toothpaste into the sink and pulled a comb through his tousled hair. He rinsed out the sink and put his toothbrush back in the cup on the counter. He hung his towel up on the towel rack and pulled on his bathrobe. Milo knotted the sash around his waist and bent over and gathered up his clothes and body armour. He opened the bathroom door and out into the hall. He walked the hall to his bedroom accompanied by the usual clatter of falling pictures. Milo pushed open his bedroom door and the door knob came loose in his hand. Milo went inside and put the broken doorknob on his low dresser under the row of pegs next to the door, which still hung open. Milo casually closed it with a nudge from his foot and it swung shut with a snap. He deposited his dirty laundry into his hamper and hung his body armour over the back of his desk chair. Milo shrugged off his bathrobe and began rummaging through his drawers for clean clothes. He pulled out clean socks and underwear and began to get dressed.

    Milo padded around his bedroom in his underwear and stocking, pulling things out of closets and drawers. He open a drawer, pulled out an undershirt and tugged it on. Milo crossed the room to his closet. He opened it and began rummaging through it. Its contents were a mix of ordinary street clothes, safety vests and other protective gear. Oh come on, thought Milo, pushing various articles of clothing aside, where is my- He pushed aside a blue biohazard suit which didn’t fit him anymore and found what he was looking for. He pulled out the freshly ironed shirt and hung it on his closet door handle. Milo then retrieved his body armour from where he had hung it over the back of his desk chair. He pulled the heavy Kevlar vest over his head and felt it settle on his shoulders. He shrugged several times, shifting his shoulders back and forth so that his body armour sat more evenly. Milo pulled his shirt and began fastening the buttons. When he was finished, he returned to his closet and began rifling through its contents again.

    He pushed aside his spare radiation suit and a fluorescent orange safety vest and pulled out a pair of khaki pants. Milo began pulling them on. He was in the middle of zipping up his fly, when there was knock at the door. It opened a little and Brigitte put her head in through the crack.

    “Oh, don’t you look nice,” she said, looking him up and down. Milo was wearing his khakis and a light blue button down shirt with short sleeves.

    Milo blushed a little. “Oh, ummm, thanks Mom,” he said.

    “Any way, you had better finish getting dressed, Amanda will-,” she was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell.

    A second or two later, Sara’s voice drifted up the stairs as she ran to get the door. “I’ll get it.”

    Milo quickly finished fastening his belt. “Sounds like a Amanda’s here,” he said. “Right on time, as usually.” He took a couple of quick steps back to his desk chair and grabbed his backpack. He quickly threw a few things into it and slung its over his shoulders. Milo opened the door, walked past his mother and out into the. He turned and started walking down the hall past the bathroom and toward toward the stairs, with the usual clatter trailing in his wake. He got to the top of the stairs and tripped. Milo went tumbling head over heels down the stairs. He landed with a thud, sprawled on his face at the bottom of the stairs. Milo could feel his backpack pressing down on his shoulders. Fortunately, he hadn’t packed anything heavy in his backpack. He got to his feet and dusted himself off. He had opened his mouth and was about to say, “hi Amanda,” when the floor beneath his feet suddenly gave way and Milo plunged into the basement.

    Oh, come on! he thought, I don’t need this tonight. Milo quickly checked himself for injuries. He had landed on a pile of old mattresses, which had cushioned his fall.

    A head appeared framed in the hole in the floor. “Are you OK, Milo?” asked Amanda.

    Milo got to his feet and brushed the plaster and dust out of his hair. “Oh, yeah,” he said, shrugging his backpack higher on to his shoulders, “I’m fine. I’ll be right up.” Milo got to his feet and began picking his way through the cluttered junk that filled most of the basement. There were bent bicycles and broken skies. A cluttered workbench stood in one corner along the wall. It’s surface covered with various small appliance that Martin had tried to fix.

    Something shifted and Milo ducked out of the way just in to avoid being buried under a tottering pile of Christmas ornaments, which hit the floor with the musical tinkle of breaking. Milo gingerly stepped over the fallen boxes. The smashed ornaments caught the light of the bare incandescent light bulb hanging from the ceiling. They glittered brightly, red and green and gold, against the dull grey of the concrete floor. Milo skirted around a tangled pile of bent bicycles and stepped into a clearing. He from where he was standing, he could see a winding path to the foot of the basement stairs.

    He set off, picking his way through the cluttered mess that filled the basement. He had taken perhaps ten steps when the overhead light went out, plunging the basement into semi-darkness. Milo stopped for a moment or two as he thrust his hand into his backpack, pushed aside his umbrella, a flare gun and several of Diogee’s chew toys until he felt his hand close over his night vision goggles. He pulled them out, lowered them over his eyes and flicked them on. The basement was suddenly bathed in electronic green light. He began walking again, skirting around of shelf full of old pain cans, which almost fell on his head. He leapt just in time and landed on a pile of old mattresses, as the shelf hit the floor with a loud crash. Old paint spilled out of the cans and congealed on the floor in a turgid looking multicoloured puddle.

    Milo got to his feet. That was close, he thought. He looked himself up and down, checking himself all over to make sure he hand gotten any paint on himself . When he didn’t find any, he kept walking. Milo just passing the furnace and the hot water heater. He felt something ruffle his hair, a second or two later had to duck as the head of a bolt whizzed past him, barely missing his right and spanged off the opposite wall, ricocheting around the room several times before burying itself an overhead two by four nine to a rotary saw. I should really get out here, thought Milo and he started walking faster toward the basement stairs. He had also most reached the bottom of the stairs up to the main floor, when he heard a rumbling sound. He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned to find the source of the noise.

    Uh oh, he thought. That can’t be good. The hot water heater, which was next to the furnace, was visibly shaking. As Milo watched, the temperature gage flew off. It ricocheted around the basement several times and Milo had to duck, to avoid being struck by the flying instrument, which imbedded itself in the concrete wall next to a broken toaster oven thar Martin had tried to fix when Milo had been ten. A long jet of steam hissed loudly out of the hole where the temperature gage had been. The basement was rapidly filling with thick clouds of billowing white steam. Milo instinctively glanced had his watch, checking the time. I really should get out here, thought Milo, Amanda is waiting, and we don’t want to be late. Milo started to thread his way through the mess in the basement toward the hot water heater. He had gotten to within about ten feet when the hot water heater, with the intent of opening the safety valve, when he was suddenly knocked off his feet by an almighty bang.

    Everything spun crazily and the basement floor rushed up to slap Milo in the face. He hit the cement and the salty taste of blood filled his mouth. A dull roar, followed by the loud crunch of splintered two by fours assaulted Milo’s eardrums as the hot water heater rocketed of the basement on a boiling column of steam and hot water. A shaft of light pierced the billowing clouds of steam it had left in its wake. A deafening silence fell. Milo lay very still, waiting for something else to happen. After a minute or two, when nothing did, he swallowed a couple of times to get the harsh taste of blood out of his mouth. Slowly, Milo pushed himself to his feet. He he ran his fingers through his hair, which was full of bits of wood and drywall. He turned from the space where the hot water heater used to be and back toward the basement stairs. Milo quickly mount the steps and yanked open the basement door and emerged back into the hall. He pulled off his night vision goggles and stuffed them back into his backpack, blinking as his eyes readjusted to the light.

    Milo’s head turned at the sound of footsteps running down the hall. He caught sight of himself in the mirror just before it cracked. He was still dirty and a little dishevelled looking. He ran his hands through his hair again and a pall of dust rose under his palms. He checked his splintered reflection in the hallway mirror, brushed the rubble off of his shoulders and straightened his shirt. He turned to face Amanda. She had forgone her usually magenta pant suit for a knee length lavender sun dress. Milo thought that the cut and colour suited her. He blushed slightly, suddenly aware of the stark contrast between himself and Amanda. “Oh, hi Amanda,” he said. Milo stood there in the hall for what seemed like several eternities, wracking his brain trying to think of something to say to her. “Ummm……you look nice,” he said at last. As soon as he said it, Milo also though he wanted to shrivel up and die. Really Milo? he thought to himself, “you look nice?” He would have liked nothing better that to say some thing funny or clever, but his brain seemed to have jammed and he couldn’t think of anything.

    “Thanks,” Amanda replied. “You look handsome.”

    Milo flushed at this. Did she just call me handsome? he thought. No-one hand ever called him handsome before. She was probably just saying that to be polite. Milo was dirty and dishevelled. He briefly wondered if he had time to go upstairs and change and decided that he probably didn’t. The thought made him flush even more. ”So,” he asked, “are you ready to go?”

    Amanda nodded. “Yeah,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

    “Great,” said Milo excitedly, “let’s go.”

    “Bye, Milo,” said Brigitte.

    “Bye, Mom,” said Milo, giving her a hug. He pulled open the door, which came off its hinges and went outside. Amanda followed him and together they walked down the front walk to where Martin sat waiting in his blue Range Rover. Milo held the door and waited while Amanda climbed into the back seat before climbing in next to her.

    “Hi kids,” said Martin as Milo pulled the back door shut with a thud.

    “Hi Mr. Murphy,” replied Amanda.

    Martin put the key in the ignition and turned it. The engine coughed once and rumbled to life. Martin reached up and adjusted his rear view mirror. He caught sight of Milo. “Fall into the basement again?” he asked.

    Milo nodded. “Yeah,” he replied. Martin clunked through the Ranger Rover’s gears and they began to back out of the driveway. “Oh, and we need a new hot water heater,” he said.

    “Really?” asked Martin, frowning slightly, “that’s the third one this month.”


    The drive from Druid Drive to downtown Danville took twenty minutes. The drive was mostly uneventful. Martin only had to take three detours. As they pulled off of the road and into the parking lot, the could see the throng of people gathered around the main entrance to the area. A sign above the entrance read:


    Danville Arena

    Home of the Danville Marmots

    Three time winners of the Calder Cup

    Go Marmots!


    Above that, a large banner had been unfurled across the front of the building. On it a lankily built man with slightly curly shoulder length brown hair was dressed in a tuxedo.He mischievously spun a cello by its neck. Prominently printed across the banner were the words:


    Weird Al Yankovich

    Strings Attached Tour

    Danville Arena

    April 18

    One Night Only


    Martin drove past the main entrance. In his rear view mirror, the large concert banner fluttered lazily down on to the crowd of people lined up at the main entrance.

    Martin kept driving past the crowd of people who were entangled under the fallen banner. Just before he rounded the corner he caught a glimpse of several concert security people rushing to untangle the concert goers under the fallen banner. He kept driving around the perimeter of the building until he joined a much shorter line of cars. A valet in a slightly ill fitting black suit came up to them and Martin manually cranked down the window.

    “Passes please,” he said.

    Milo thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out the tickets that Amanda had given him for his birthday. He handed them Martin, who in turn handed them to the valet. He produced a portable barcode scanner from somewhere and took them from Martin. He pointed the barcode scanner at the tickets and pulled the trigger. The scanner emitted a harsh tone. He frowned and pulled the trigger again. Again the scanner emitted a harsh tone. He handed the ticket back to Martin, who in turn handed them back to Milo, who put them back safely back in his pocket.

    “I’m sorry,” said the valet, “my scanner doesn’t seem to want to read your tickets,” he said. “You’ll have to have them verified inside.”
     
  18. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Priority is escaping the basement, Milo.[face_nail_biting]

    It will work out, but what a stressor on a date, phew.@};-
     
  19. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Actually, this is Milo’s birthday gift, so it’s not technically a date, but it was mostly Sara’s idea because she’s reading between the lines......

    [face_whistling]
     
    pronker likes this.
  20. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Sixty Three


    The valet directed Martin to another valet, who stood with a headset, a walkie-talkie and a pair of wands directing the line of cars slow long crawling through the orange cones that indicated where everyone was supposed to go. Martin eventually wound his way through the maze of orange cones until he came to a sign that said “Drop Off Area.” A line of people curved around the building under a long awning. Many of the people in line were wearing garishly coloured Hawaiian shirts. Another valet waved Martin to a stop. He turned and smiled at Milo and Amanda. “Bye kids,” he said. “Have fun at your concert.”

    Milo unbuckled his seatbelt and grabbed his backpack by the shoulder straps. “Bye Dad,” he said as he climbed out. “We’ll see you later.”

    “Bye Mr. Murphy,” said Amanda as she climbed out after Milo. He held the door for her, then shut it. Martin revved the engine and drove away. Another man in a black shirt and pants came up to them holding a barcode scanner. “Tickets please,” he said.

    Milo fished in his pocket and pulled his wallet. He opened it and pulled out the tickets. A stray gust of wind almost blew the tickets out of Milo’s hand and he hand to hold on to them extra tightly. The valet with the barcode scanner took them from Milo, who only reluctantly let go of them. He scanned them and his barcode scanner emitted emitted an affirmative beep. “Looks like your tickets check out,” he said. He reached into a pouch on his belt, next to the walkie-talkie and produced a pair of passes with had the words


    Weird Al

    Strings Attached

    VIP Experience


    Printed on them. Milo and Amanda both took one and clipped them to their fronts.

    “You can line up with everyone else down there,” he said. He pointed to the line of people curving away around the side of the building. “The doors will be opening soon.”

    “Thanks,” said Milo. They turned and started walking down toward where the line of people with VIP tickets were waiting to get inside. The doors opened ten minutes later and the line of people, which by now stretched a third of the way around the building, began to file inside. As they got closer, Milo and Amanda could see a small cluster of people standing behind a velvet rope.The line inched slowly forward at few people at a time. The attendants were standing under a portable white awning scanning everyone’s passes and letting them in in twos and threes. Milo shifted restlessly from one foot to the next. He was starting to get excited. He had been looking forward to this since his birthday the previous October, and now they were finally here. Milo had been a Weird Al fan since he was seven.

    When Milo had been much younger, he had found Murphy’s Law to be much more challenging to live with. More than once Milo had gotten frustrated with the complexities that defined his life and when he had, Martin would put on one of his Weird Al albums and together father and son would laugh and sing and soon Milo would start to feel better. Milo was snapped out of his revery by the sound of someone talking to him.

    “Your passes please,” said the attendant for the second time.

    Milo was suddenly aware of something wrapped around his waist and a hand on his elbow. He looked down. Milo had somehow gotten tangled in the velvet rope that stretched across the VIP entrance and he flushed a little. The hand on his elbow was Amanda’s. He straightened up and suddenly realized that everyone was staring at him.

    “Passes please,” said the attendant again.

    Milo disentangled himself from the velvet rope and unclipped his VIP pass from his shirt. He handed it to the attendant, who took it, scanned it and handed it back to him. He unclipped the velvet rope and Milo and Amanda crossed it.

    “Enjoy the show,” he said.

    “Thanks,” replied Milo. “We will.” They followed stream of people going through the the slightly shabby looking metal door. Milo stumbled on the lip on the lip of the door frame and nearly fell. He regained his footing and kept walking. Milo and Amanda followed the flow of people down a long tunnel. They emerged from the tunnel on to the arena’s loading dock. A large tour bus with a garish Hawaiian shirt paint job was parked at the far end of the loading. It had attracted the attention of a sizeable crowd of people, many of whom had their phones out and were taking pictures.

    “Hey, look,” said Milo, excitedly pointing, “its Weird Al’s tour bus,” he grabbed Amanda by the hand and started dragging toward her the crowd. “C’mon,” he said, “you can take my picture.” They left the flow of people heading toward the VIP waiting area and pushed their way through the crowd of people milling around the front of the garishly painted bus. The front of the bus was roped off and there were a couple of private security guards present to dissuade anyone from slipping under the the rope. Milo reached the edge of rope cordon in front of the bus. He heard the two security guard saying, “no pictures. Please keep moving. No pictures,”but the crowd of people, around the bus were ignoring them.

    Amanda fished in her pocket for her phone. She found it, pulled it out and quickly tapped and swiped through her apps until she found her camera. She opened it and pointed her phone at Milo. “Smile,” she said. Milo beamed at her. Amanda tapped her screen and the click! as her phone captured the picture. In the same instant something heavy hit Milo on the back of the head and he almost toppled over.

    Amanda gasped. “Milo, are you alright?”

    He nodded, rubbing the back of his head, which was throbbing. He could tell that he would have a decent sized lump there later. “Yeah, I think I’m fine. Let’s see the picture.” Milo had never successfully had his picture taken and he eager to see how this one turned out. Amanda thrust her hand into her pocket again. She pulled out her phone and started tapping at her screen. After a second or two, she found a picture of Milo in the middle of being clipped on the back of the head by one of the bus’s mirrors, which now lay shattered on the pavement.

    “Hey,” he said excitedly, “that’s not bad. This one’s actually in focus.”

    Amanda took her phone back from Milo and started tapping at her screen again. After a second or two Milo’s phone pinged. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked at it. Amanda had sent to him. Milo tapped at his contacts and sent the picture to Zack and Melissa. Milo’s phone pinged twice in quick succession. Zack and Melissa had texted him back.

    Hey, said Zack, that’s the least blurry picture of you I’ve seen yet.

    Not bad, replied Melissa. Maybe you’ll actually get to have your picture take with Weird Al.

    Milo chuckled as he texted her back. Here’s hoping.

    They were suddenly being chivvied away from the tour bus by the security guards, along with everyone else. “Alright,” they said, “alright. Move along. Keep moving please. Move along.” Milo and Amanda started walking again. They followed the flow of people as the crowd dispersed and walked through a set of heavy duty double doors that had been propped open. They fell to the floor with a deafening crash as Milo walked through them.

    They found themselves in a carpeted hallway. Pictures and memorabilia of the Danville Marmots limed the walls. On top of the carpet was another carpet with the same violently hued Hawaiian shirt pattern as on the tour bus. They walked up several flights of stairs and then down another corridor. The stream of people stopped in front of another set of doors that hat been propped open. A small podium had been set up next to it. Behind it was a life-sized poster of Weird Al in a tuxedo. He was holding an accordion in one hand and cello in the other. A sign affixed to the front of the podium read

    Welcome to

    The Weird Al Yankovich

    Strings Attached

    VIP Experience

    Ticket holders Only


    The woman behind the podium stood tapping away at her tablet. She was allowing people to enter two or three at a time. The line moved slowly forward and people had their passes scanned and entered the VIP room. Eventually, Milo and Amanda got the front of the line.

    “Names please,” said the woman with the tablet. She was wearing a Hawaiian shirt with the same pattern as the carpet.

    Milo and Amanda unclipped their VIP badges again. The woman took them and one by one held them up to her tablet. Milo was getting excited again. He was practically hopping from one foot to the other. They were finally here. At times Milo had felt like he would never get to this moment. He was actually going to get to meet Weird Al. OK, he thought, OK, Milo, just calm down. He took a deep breath. “I’m Milo Murphy,” he said, taking back his badge, “and this is Amanda Lopez.”

    The tablet in the woman’s hand beeped twice and she handed Milo and Amanda their badges back. She also handed them a each souvenir program, a booklet full of vouchers for the gift shop. “Your seats are section C, row eight, seats three and four. Weird Al will be available for VIP photos in about half an hour.Enjoy the show.”

    “Thanks,” said Milo. They walked past the woman and into the VIP room. It was a large space full of people of all different ages. Some of them were wearing Hawaiian shirts. The various patterns formed a violently bright kaleidoscope as their owners mingled and wandered around the room. TV monitors mounted on the walls played a random selection of Weird Al’s music videos from across his long career. Milo caught snatches of White and Nerdy, Eat it, Fat, and Amish Paradise as he wandered around the room.. The musician’s face beamed down from all angles. There were Strings Attached concert posters hanging on the walls. Waiters drifted around the room carrying trays of drinks. Milo snagged a can of cherry Pep for himself and a sparkling water for Amanda. He handed her the drink and popped the tab on his can of soda. He was suddenly deluged in a sticky purple fountain as his can of soda exploded in his hand.

    Amanda giggled a little as Milo fished through his backpack for a towel. “That hasn’t happened in awhile,” she said.

    Milo wiped the contents of his can of soda off his face and put his towel back in his backpack. He was about to open his mouth with a playful retort, when someone said his name.

    “Oh, hi Milo.”

    Milo turned and found himself staring at Mort and Joni. “Oh, hi guys,” he said. “I didn’t know you guys are Weird Al fans.”

    Mort shrugged. “My Dad is a trainer for the Danville Marmots,” he replied. “He gets tickets to all kinds of stuff.” He snagged a can of lemon Pep from a passing tray. He popped the tab and the can of soda bubbled up over his hand in a fountain of spray.

    “Sorry, Mort,” replied Milo. He thrust his hand into his backpack and pulled out a towel. He handed it to Mort, who took and wiped the sticky residue off of his hands. He wanted Milo’s apology way. “Nah, don’t worry about it,” he said, handing Milo’s towel back. Milo took it and put it back in his backpack. “My second chakra was misaligned,” replied Mort.

    “I don’t think I’ve heard you mention his name before,” said Milo after taking a sip of his can of soda. He didn’t think that Weird Al was Mort’s type of music, but then again, he mused, he had thought the same thing about Amanda and she had surprised him.

    Mort nodded. “Oh yeah,” he said enthusiastically. “I’ve always been a fan. He’s a manifestation of the positive flow of the universe.”

    Joni shrugged. “My Mom got me into him,” she said. “We always use to listen his music on long cross country road trips.” She was about to say more when the lights dimmed. A stage at the far end of the room that Milo hadn’t noticed before was suddenly bathed in a bright spotlight. A man appeared from behind the curtain at the back of the stage. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said brightly. He was wearing a formal tuxedo with a white bow tie and tails. “Thank you for coming to the Weird Al Strings Attached VIP Experience. It is my great pleasure to introduce America’s unsung national treasure, Weird Al Yankovich!”
     
  21. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Milo takes what he can get!

    Yes, yes he is. Big fan here.
     
  22. Chancellor_Ewok

    Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Episode Sixty Four

    A tall, lanky figure stepped trough the curtain, as the MC stepped down from the stage. Weird Al Yankovich was tall with a thin and lanky frame. His narrow, pointed face was framed was by a curtain of wavy brown hair that fell almost to his shoulder. He smiled and waved the assembled crowd. There was a wave of enthusiastic applause and a number of people waved back. He had the look of a man who was used to being in the spotlight, but behind closed doors was almost painfully shy. He fingered the accordion slung around his neck as he surveyed the crowd in front of him.

    “Hi,” he said. “I’d like to thank you for being my special guests tonight. Before we get on with the show. I thought I’d treat you to a few songs that aren’t on the set list.” The curtain parted again and Al was joined on stage by his drummer and his guitarist. He turned and nodded to each of them in turn. They nodded back and together they launched into Like a Surgeon.


    I finally made it through med school

    Somehow I made it through

    I’m just an intern

    I still make a mistake or two


    Everyone was cheering and bopping along in time to the music. Mort was laughing and Joni was tapping her door in time to the beat. Milo snuck a glance out of the corner of his eye at Amanda. She was griping at the absurd lyric. Milo began belting out


    Hey, like a surgeon

    Cutting for the very first time

    Like a surgeon

    Organ transplants are my line


    Multicoloured lights played across the stage as Weird Al swayed with the upbeat vibe of the song and the energy of the crowd. The song finished with a wave of enthusiastic applause. Almost before the sound of clapping could die, Weird Al launched into Perform this Way and Gump after that. When the last notes of the short set died away, the MC took the stage once more.

    “Thank for that Al,” he said, with a big smile, “that was really great. We are so looking forward to the big show tonight.”

    Weird Al nodded, “yeah it’s always so much fun playing to a live audience,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

    The MC nodded in agreement. “OK,” he said,”we’re going to let Al go finish getting ready for the big show, but before we do, Al’s generously agreed to stay for a few minutes to take some pictures and sign autographs.”

    There was an immediate babble of voices, followed by the tramping of feet as most of the people in the room turned as one and headed for a sky-blue backdrop dotted with puffy white clouds. There was some jostling as everyone fell into line. Weird Al casually walked from the stage over to where the backdrop stood bathed in bright studio lights. A man with a large camera stood in front of him. Next to him a woman sat at a table with an electronic debit card reader and tablet on a stand. A sign in front of her read


    Weird Al Yankovich

    Strings Attached

    Weird Al Photo Op

    Photos-$25.00

    Photo w/ Frame-$50.00

    One Per Customer


    “Hey c’mon,” Milo said. A note of undisguised excitement crept into his voice. “We can have our picture take with him.”

    The four of them lined up together and the line of people moved forward as spent a couple of minutes talking, joking and signing records and programs with everyone who wanted to meet him. Soon, Milo, Amanda, Mort and Joni found themselves at the head of the line. They stepped forward excitedly into the bright light of the studio lights. Weird Al turned to them as they approached. Milo was in the process of extending his hand. He heard himself saying, “Mr. Yankovich, it’s such an honour to meet you!” But he never got the words out. He felt his foot catch on something and he lost his balance. Milo toppled forward into Joni, who in turn collided with Amanda and Mort, who face planted squarely into Weird Al’s midsection. The impact of the heavy-set teenager colliding with his stomach was enough to knock the tall, lanky musician off of his feet and he fell over backyards. In the same moment, the studio lights popped as the shutter clicked. Milo also heard the musical tinkle of breaking glass, as the camera’s lens shattered.

    Milo got to his feet, smoothing the wrinkles out of his shirt and shrugging his backpack higher onto his shoulders. The others slowly got their feet, shaking off the spill. “Are you kids alright?” asked Weird Al.

    Milo nodded. “Yeah,” he said, “this is just Murphy’s Law.”

    Weird Al looked surprised. “Really?” he asked.

    Milo shrugged. He started to say, “yeah, I was born like this,” but before he could say anything, he was interrupted by the sound of tinkling glass, as the camera lens splintered into a spiderweb of cracks. He detached the lens from the camera and stared at it with a frown. Weird Al noticed the look on his face and said, “something wrong Dave?”

    Dave nodded. “Yeah,” he replied. “My lens broke.” He bent over and flipped open the lid on his camera case. He detached the shattered lens from the body of the camera. He put the broken lens back in his camera case and pulled out another one. He looked at it and his eyes went wide. The lens was cracked. He put it back and pulled out another one. The lens housing fell apart in his hands. He pulled out a third. It splintered into fragments. “Sorry, Al,” he said. “All my lenses are broken.”

    Weird Al’s eyebrows went up in surprise. “Really?” he asked. “All of them?”

    Dave nodded. “Yeah,” he said, “all of them.”

    Weird Al looked back and forth between Milo and the photographer. He began to say, “but that seems-,” when Milo interjected.

    “-really unlikely?” he asked. Weird Al nodded and Milo shrugged. “Yeah,” he said, “that’s just Murphy’s Law.”

    “So, anything that can go wrong, will?” asked Weird Al.

    Milo shrugged again. “Around me?” he said, “yeah, most of the time.” He paused, thrusting his hand into his backpack and pulled out his accordion. “Anyway,” he said, “I’ve been a big fan for a long time. I was really hoping you’d sign it for me.”

    “Sure,” replied Al. He pulled a sharpie out of his pocket scrawled his signature across the top of Milo’s accordion.

    Dave, the camera man, was listening to something in his ear piece. “Hey Al,” he said, “we’ve gotta finish up here. Everyone’s waiting for you backstage.”

    The musician nodded. “Sorry, folks,” he said to the room at large, “but that’s all. See you on stage.”

    “Your photos can be picked up at the concession stand after the show,” said Dave, as he packed up his equipment. He picked up his camera case and Milo thought he heard the tinkle of broken glass from a half dozen shattered camera lenses. They paused on their way out the door and back into the hall at the table in the opposite corner, which was covered with neatly folded T-shirts, sweaters, along with coffee mugs and various other knickknacks. Milo fished in his pocket for his wallet and pulled out a twenty dollar bill. He handed it to the man behind the table, he had several piercings, a goatee and a neck covered in tattoos. The man put Milo’s T-shirt in a plastic bag and handed it to him. Milo took it and put in his backpack. Milo, Amanda, Mort and Joni went out into the hall. As they left, Milo heard the sharp crack of breaking china, as several coffee cups broke. Upon leaving the VIP room, they rejoined they flow of people, following the wall signs, until they reached stadium’s main concourse. It was thick with people and the air echoed with the babble of voices. As Milo and Amanda threaded their way through the milling throng, classic Weird Al songs were being pumped out of the arena’s PA system.

    Milo and Amanda parted company with Mort and Joni, who went up into the upper bowl, while Milo and Amanda made their way around the edge main concourse toward the section where their seats were located. They had almost arrived, when Milo caught a familiar scent. That smells like pistachios, he thought. “Hey,” he said, “wait right here, I’m going to get some snacks, you want anything?”

    “Oh, yeah,” replied Amanda. She thrust a hand into her purse, and pulled out her wallet. She opened it and handed Milo some money. “Yeah,” she said, “you can get me some popcorn.”

    Milo took her money and put it in his pocket. He walked off into the crowd, wending his way through the throng toward the concession stand. He got in line. After a minute or two he found himself standing at the counter.

    “Order please.” It was statement, not a question.

    Milo blinked. The woman behind the counter was tall and statuesque, with a mahogany complexion and full lips. Dressed in a Slushy Dawg uniform, she looked completely out of place. She looked as if she had just just come from a photo shoot in some exotic location. He had to work at not staring at her. She seemed familiar somehow, but he could place her. Milo was snapped out of his reverie by the sound of her voice. “Your order please,” she said again.

    She spoke in a low sultry voice that was completely at odds with her uniform and surroundings. It suddenly clicked “Savannah,” said Milo in surprise, “what are you-,” he didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence.

    Savannah cut him off. “My name isn’t Savannah,” she said, a caustic edge to her voice, “it’s Miriam Flores-,” she pointed to her uniform name tag.

    “-uhhhhh, right,” replied Milo. Savannah didn’t hear him.

    “Come on,” she said brusquely, “I haven’t got all night. What are you are you ordering?”

    “Oh, ummmm…..a bag of pistachios and bag of popcorn.”

    She punched his order into the cash register, as if it had personally offended her. “That’ll be $27.48,” she said. Milo reached into pocket for his wallet. He opened it and pulled out his and Amanda’s money and handed it to Savannah. She took it, opened the cash drawer, stuffed the money inside and banged the draw shut. The printer chattered as it printed out Milo’s receipt. He took his receipt, which burst into flames as soon as he took it from Savannah. Milo didn’t move. “Savannah?” he asked, “what are you-,” he began, but he didn’t get to finish.

    “You can pick up your order down there,” she said. She pointed with a long perfectly manicured finger at the window at the other end of the counter.

    For a second or two, Milo didn’t move. Somebody prodded him in the back and he realized that line was forming behind him. Milo turned and began to walk down toward the opposite end of the counter. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Savannah put a long elegant hand to a hidden ear piece. “Heads up,” she said, “Wildcard is in the building.”

    Milo stopped and turned. “Who’s Wildcard?” he asked excitedly. “Is that me? Do I have a super awesome secret agent code name?” he asked excitedly.

    She shot him a withering look. “That’s classified.”

    Milo walked down to other end of the counter and got in line again. After a minute or two he found himself standing at the pick up window. He found himself faced with a tall broad shouldered man in a Slushy Dawg uniform. He has a cleft chin and clear dark eyes. His broad shoulders strained the fabric of his uniform T-shirt. A black bow tie was scrunched awkwardly under the collar of his T-shirt. “Hi, Brick,” said Milo with a cheerful wave.

    Brick put a hand to his ear. “Copy that,” he said, “I have eyes on Wildcard.”

    “Who’s Wildcar-,” Milo began.

    “That’s classified,” replied Brick dismissively. He pointed to a name tag pinned to his uniform, “and my name isn’t Brick,” he said,”it’s Jesus Ramirez.” He spoke without the slightest trace of a Hispanic accent. He handed Milo his snacks.

    Milo took his snacks and turned to leave, as he did so, he thought he heard Brick say, “heads up, Wildcard is on to us. We might need the memory eraser again.” After he had gone twenty or thirty feet, he paused momentarily, to shift Amanda’s bag of popcorn from one arm to the other. He awkwardly thrust his hand into his pocket, pulled out his ticket, checked it and set off. He wove his way through the crowd, which was starting to thin out as people found their seats. He cast an eye up toward the ceiling, reading the signs, looking for the one on his ticket. After a minute or two, he found it and made his way around the arena to Section R. He carefully made his way down the steps until he got to the arena floor. When Milo found his row, he turned sideways and began carefully edging his was along the row. He was mostly successful in not spilling anything, but not as successful in avoiding stepping on anybody’s toes.

    “Ouch!”

    “Sorry.”

    “Hey!”

    “Excuse me.”

    “Watch where you’re going.

    “Pardon me.”

    Milo finally reached his seat and sat down next to Amanda. “Here you go” he said, handing her her bucket of popcorn.

    She took it and deposited and a handful of popcorn into her mouth.

    Milo looked around. The arena was almost completely filled. The hum of excited voices filled the air. The large four sided video screen, which hung over centre ice was playing vintage Weird Al videos. “Hey,” said Milo, “these are great seats.” He counted quickly, they were only eight rows from the front of the stage.

    “I’m glad you like them,” replied Amanda around another mouthful of popcorn.

    Before she could say anything else, the lights dimmed and a expectant hush fell over the packed arena. A single spotlight appeared in the middle of the stage and a voice came over the PA system. “Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages and immature adults, please put your hands together for Weird Al Yankovhich!” A tall, lanky shape rose out of a thick cloud of swirling white fog. After a second or two, the fog parted. Weird Al stood in the middle of the stage under a bright spotlight. He was dressed in a immaculate tuxedo, with a neatly knotted white bow tie and matching vest. The crowd, Milo and Amanda included, bellowed its approval, applause echoing off of the rafters.

    Weird Al survey the crowd for a moment or two, through his curtain of wavy brown hair. He waited for the tumultuous applause to die down. It died away after a couple of minutes. “Well, it sure it’s great to be back in Danville,” he said to another wave of applause, “we’ve got a really good show planned for you tonight, so without any further ado, lest get started.”

    He picked up his accordion, which was sitting on a fold stand next to him. A curtain went up behind him, to reveal a full symphonic orchestra. The musicians rose in rows behind him. The audience clapped again. The musicians shouldered their instruments, and Weird Al launched into I Lost on Jeopardy.

    As soon as he began to play, a change came over him. The painfully shy man who had joked affably with his fans before the concert disappeared. A full blown rock god stood in his place as he belted out I Lost on Jeopardy, I Love Rocky Road and Perform This Way in quick succession. The energy radiating through the arena was electric. Everyone was clapping and cheering. On stage Weird Al was vibing to the rhythm of The Biggest Ball Twine in Minnesota. Everyone was having a ball and nobody noticed, the small man in a white lab coat, making his way down a corridor and into the broadcast booth.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
  23. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    So far, so good - Weird Al is a gem! I've always like his take on popular songs. Wonder who Wildcard is?[face_rofl]
     
    Chancellor_Ewok likes this.