Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chapter Two

By Kathy White

“Get Jacko to the generator room now. We need those lights back on,” Mendelssohn said into his cell. “And Michael, you need to broadcast my voice from this phone. We’ve got seconds, not minutes.’
He paced next to the window. Small beads of sweat began to slide down the creases in his face as the seconds ticked by.
Deb pressed her face against the glass, just as Mote had done earlier, but all she could see were murky shapes moving in the darkness. It was like one of those bad dreams where everyone’s voices were muffled, everything was blurred around the edges, and you had no control of what was going to happen next.
There was a loud thud, followed by a scream down on the field.
Mendelssohn got the green light from his IT man, Michael. As he spoke, his voice boomed across the stadium, as crisp and clear as a granny smith apple. “There’s no truer statement than that, Ladies and Gentlemen. You reap what you sow. These athletes are finally getting the rewards they deserve for their hard work and dedication. That’s what the Titanic Games are all about.
There was a small, confused cheer from the crowd.
Mendelssohn gestured to Mote and Deb that they were to stay put, then he disappeared down the corridor, heading towards the field.
“I’m Mendelssohn Finnegan, the head of the Titanic Games organising committee and tonight we’re celebrating unity. In Sport We Are One. That’s the motto of these Games. So in these moments of darkness, I’d like you to reach out to hold the hand of the person next to you.
 Mote groaned. He hated it when his dad did the touchy feely stuff.
 “I’m not going to sit here waiting,” Deb hissed. “We have to do something. Dad needs our help.”
Mote didn’t normally agree with his sister but this time, he couldn’t help it. “We need to get the lights back on, ba-by. Let's kick this guy’s butt. ” 
 “If Dad finds out you’ve been watching his Austin Powers DVDs, you are sooooo in trouble,” Deb whispered. She noticed Le Zard staring at her. "Um, we're just going to the toilet." 
She nudged Mote through the doorway and down the hall toward the Communications Hub.  They called it the Hub because their dad's trusted team met there every morning for strong coffee and 'power talks'. 
“Why are you so sure it’s a guy who’s doing this?" Deb asked. "Maybe it’s a scorned ex-girlfriend from when Dad was 17.”
“Aw, come onnn, De-bussy. Girls aren’t capable of really nasty stuff,” Mote snorted. He took a short-cut by ducking under the security barrier near the stairs.
“I used to lock you in the hallway cupboard when you were three, remember?” Deb said.
“Yeah, but …”
“I ate your stash of Easter eggs that you hid in the attic …” she said.
“Yeah, but …”
“And I was the one who put glad wrap under the toilet seat so that you got pee all over yourself when it splashed …”
“You said it wasn’t you.”
Deb smirked. “I lied.”
Mote opened his mouth to protest but he didn’t get a chance. They flattened themselves against the wall near the entrance to level two as someone walked past, whistling. As soon as the man had gone, they slipped across the corridor and opened the door to the Communications Hub.
 “How come the lights are out but the computer’s still on?” asked Deb, scanning the room for signs of an intruder.
“They’ve got an isolated security power supply for their computer system,” Mote said.  “Hey, come and look at this. It’s an audio file. See the sound waves. And look, it’s got a timer in the programming code. It was set to come on two minutes after the lights went out.”
Deb gasped. “Dad’s broadcast must have prevented it from activating.”
“This dude won’t be happy about that.”
Mote reached out to touch the mouse, but Deb stopped him.
“The security team will want to dust for fingerprints,” she whispered.
 “He could have done it remotely if he was a hacker,” Mote said.
“It’s just as likely to be an inside job,” Deb said, scooping a pair of tweezers out of her pocket to pick up what looked like a broken piece of a dog tag wedged into a loop of carpet fibre.
Their father’s voice interrupted through the sound system. “We’ve got a special surprise for you tonight. As soon as the lights come back on, I’d like you to check for an envelope on the underside of your seats. There are three golden tickets worth $10,000 somewhere in the stadium.”
A deafening roar filled the air.
Mote sighed. “Damn, Dad wasn’t supposed to announce that until later on tonight. I had plans.”
“Yeah, well, he’s probably desperate to keep people in their seats where it’s safe,” Deb said. The fluorescent lights flickered and then started to glow weakly. “I’m going to send him a text. He can pick up a fingerprinting kit and meet us down here. I want to know what’s in that audio file.”
“Have we got time to find a loo?” Mote said, grabbing at his shorts.
Deb pulled a face. “Euuuuww. Why do you always do that?” She looked around. “Maybe we should leave a sign on this computer saying DON’T TOUCH.”
“We’re only going to be gone for a few seconds,” Mote groaned. “I’m really busting.” 
They raced up the hallway to the toilets next to the Titanic portholes. Mote said they were the port-hole loos, and then got grumpy when Deb didn’t get the joke.
“It’s not that I don’t get it,” she called to him from outside the cubicle. “They had portaloos at the Bloom Festival last year. What I don’t get is why you’re making jokes when there’s a madman out there somewhere trying to cause a riot in the stadium. Aren’t you worried about Dad?”
Mote shut the door behind him. “There are always things to joke about,” Mote said. “Hey, look!” 
The lights were coming back on out in the stadium. A spectacular Mexican Wave of light was spreading through the crowd, like some kind of extraterrestrial spacecraft landing. It was almost like it had been planned as part of the show.
“That’s awe-some!” Mote said.
A woman shrieked in the stand above them. “I’ve got a golden ticket,” she yelled, waving it in the air. “I’ve won $10,000 AND a box of white chocolate sheep.”
“She won the white chocolate sheep with sherbet sprinkles,” Mote sighed. “Sometimes life is bitter and cruel.”
 Deb, glanced at her vibrating phone. “Dad says he’s seconds away. Let’s get back to the Hub.

Mendelssohn was already at the Hub when they arrived. He stood tall and silent, his arms hanging limply by his sides. Jacko, the head engineer at the Games, was also silent. He lay awkwardly across the mainframe keyboard, like a giant sack of potatoes. There was a smoky bacon smell, which made Mote’s stomach gurgle, until he realised the smell was coming from Jacko.
“Don’t touch him,” their dad said, slumping into one of the swivel chairs. “He’s been electrocuted. The computer was booby-trapped.”
 “But we were just in here ten minutes ago.” Deb said. 
“Wow!” Mote said, pointing to the rust-coloured scorch mark on Jacko’s fingers. Even the hair on the back of his arms and head was singed.
Their dad pressed the palms of his hands against his forehead as he thought. “This is my fault,” he said. “I should have told them everything. I'm putting your lives at risk.”
Deb patted him on the shoulder. “It’s not your fault, Dad. You haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Told who?” Mote asked. “Told them what?”
Daniel, one of the senior field paramedics knocked on the door and poked his head around. “Sorry to interrupt, Boss, but we’ve got something you need to look at out here.”
Mendelssohn followed him into the corridor. The other paramedics stopped whispering when he appeared. Lying on the ambulance stretcher in the corridor was Benedict - one of New Zealand’s most popular gold medal prospects for belly-flopping. And on top of Benedict was a large woolly sheep.
“It appears that one of the sheep lost its parachute,” Daniel said. He gave a strained smile. “They both died on impact.”
“So was that the thud that we heard?” asked Deb. 
Daniel nodded. “Benedict was doing some stomach crunchies at the time. It was dark. He probably didn’t see it coming.”
“The poor … sheep,” Mendelssohn murmured, looking at the contorted angle of the sheep’s legs.
“The poor MAN,” Deb and Mote said together.
Daniel made sympathetic noises, and then went red. “The thing is … well, I think it’s best if you see this for yourself.”
He motioned to Julie, the paramedic on the other side of the stretcher, to roll the sheep towards him. She got down on her knees, braced herself, and pushed.
Deb gasped.
There, shorn into the matted wool were the words.
“To protect the sheep, you need to catch the wolf.”



Now it's your turn to write chapter three. Two things need to happen in chapter three. The story needs to turn in a new direction. This is a logical place to reveal that the villain had to have been one of the people in the room at the beginning.

You can read the winning child's chapter and the judge's report on the Winning Writing Page.

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