Sunday, January 18, 2015
First 5 Pages January Workshop - Smith-Allen Rev 2
Name: Rebecca Smith-Allen
Genre: Upper Middle Grade Mystery
Title: All Out
You wouldn't call me gifted unless awesome video game skill counted. According to Mom, it doesn't. But here I was on a bus headed to a camp for math and science nerds.
The camp was run by Hartland Mountain Science Academy, a private school for smart kids. I don't go here. Even my teacher's-pet little sister, Maxine, doesn't go here. This school costs money, but Mom's reaction to the price of camp was a sigh, not a heart attack.
Geek camp was not my top-pick summer activity; that would be Boy Scout Camp. Building campfires, toasting s'mores, and shooting BB guns-so many things Mom never let me do with just one downside, the latrines. You gotta get good at holding your breath and going fast. Boy Scout camp should last all summer, not just a week.
My sister couldn't to Boy Scout Camp, obviously, so she'd gotten it in her head to sign up for Hartland's Geocaching program, "treasure hunting" through the forest with a hand-held GPS. Only a dork like my sister could think that sounded fun.
Aaron, my best friend and gaming bud, had looked over her shoulder at the Hartland catalog and found the program on Designing Apps. Designing apps sounded good, even if target shooting and fires weren't involved. Even if I had risk a camp full of Maxines to take it. Everyone else here might be a math or science geek, but I could hold my own in gaming.
I stomped off the bus following Maxine and Aaron. My head was pounding from the twenty-minute ride up the windy mountain road during which I'd had to share my best friend with my sister. I wasn't looking forward to school next month, but at least when Aaron and I got on the junior high bus, I could leave Max in the dust.
My sister headed toward a friend who'd signed up for camp with her. I turned in the opposite direction toward a couple guys my age. I didn't know them, but getting away from Max was the only push I needed to make new friends.
My eyes darted to the right. Aaron had followed me, not my sister.
I eyed the chunky, red-headed guy I was headed toward. What do geniuses talk about? Do they watch Phineas and Ferb? Or only Discovery Channel shows? Do they play Minecraft? Or just chess? Do they have major problems in their lives, their little sister liking their best friend? Or would a genius find some colorless, odorless, tasteless poison to take out his sister?
"Hey," I said, taking in the guy's camouflage T-shirt and rust-colored cargo shorts.
"Hi, I'm Conlan," he said with a smile.
I was tempted to tell him those loud shorts kinda defeated the purpose of the camo shirt. Maybe he liked his clothes to match his equally bright hair. Weird. But that probably wasn't the best way to introduce myself.
"Jared," I said. "This is Aaron."
"This is Tariq." Conlan gestured at the short, skinny, dark-haired, dark-skinned guy next to him.
"Hey," Tariq said.
I dragged my eyes off Conlan's odd clothes to look at his friend. His T-shirt read, "Come to the nerd side. We've got π." What was that about? Hanging with nerds for a week was gonna be harder than I thought. I considered retreat.
"Have you guys been to this camp before?" Aaron asked.
"Yeah," Conlan answered. "We go to school here too."
Ok, so I'd stumbled into guys who weren't just willing to get categorized as geeks for a week. They were actual, legitimate, full-time geniuses. Wow.
I considered retreat more seriously.
"Which program-" I started to ask.
"Designing Apps," Conlan answered before I even got the question out. "You?"
"Same," I said.
"Cool." Conlan smiled again. He had a huge, cheery smile that took up half of his face, and almost as many freckles as me. "So did you hear Brent Kagon is in our program? That's why I signed up."
"No way." My jaw dropped. My eyes bugged out. He couldn't be serious, could he?
It didn't seem possible, but Conlan's smile grew broader. Tariq smiled and nodded as well. They weren't joking.
Who hadn't heard of Brent Kagon? He was the local golden child. The guy who'd created this game app that like a zillion people downloaded.
Ok. I'd played it for a week. It wasn't that good. But it'd been designed by a kid - a kid who'd made enough money to take his parents to Disney World. I'd read all about it. Brent Kagon was my idol, my inspiration for spending a week of summer vacation in a computer classroom instead of on the couch playing Wii. I figured if he could do it, I could too. I wanted to be Brent Kagon. I had a great idea for an app. And I had visions of raking in the bucks, buying every game system known to man, getting the Lego Death Star, paying someone to do my science homework. I'd take my parents to Disney for vacation. Aaron would come too, of course. My sister could stay home.
How could Brent Kagon be taking a class like this? Didn't he already know everything?
"I took Designing Apps last summer," Conlan said, "but when Mom complained about paying for it again I said, 'Kagon's taking it.' And she was like, 'Really? Then there must be more to learn. Ask him for pointers.'"
Our discussion got cut off when a shiny black car rolled up next to us. It was the only car that pulled into camp 'cause the rest of us had taken a bus to the top of the mountain.
The car stopped and a guy wearing dark, mirrored rock-star sunglasses got out of the passenger seat. He was a couple years older than me with messy black hair sticking out in every direction. He wore faded black jeans even though it was hot and everyone else wore shorts. His face was set in a scowl. And he had the thinnest, most beautiful MacBook I'd ever seen tucked protectively under his arm.
Conlan elbowed me. I grimaced but he didn't notice 'cause he hadn't taken his eyes off the guy.
"That's him," he whispered. "Brent Kagon."
The rock-star shades and MacBook caught the attention of a bunch of campers. I stared too. I didn't want to act like some pathetic fan, but I couldn't help it. There was something about him. I wanted his autograph. I wanted to peek into his brain and find out how he came up with such a great idea for an app. I wanted his programming secrets.
But there was something annoying about him as well. It was the first day of camp, a bright, sunny summer day. Why was he scowling? His black T-shirt read "Watch and Learn," in gray, 3D letters. A little full of yourself? And he knew we were standing here, staring at him. Even my sister came over and whispered something in Aaron's ear. But Brent ignored us all. With a nod to the driver, he turned and walked past us and into the building.