“Here’s your room, twerp,” Chad sneered as he opened the heavy door. He effortlessly tossed the whimpering ex-Kids Next Door operative into a dark room with only a hard bench sticking out of the left wall. Once the door was closed, the only light that entered the room came from the small window at the top of it – it had bars on it.
The boy, upon realizing that he was now a prisoner to the teenagers, stood up and brushed himself off. He used to be Numbuh 19th Century, the ten-year-old who had stolen Great Grandmother’s birthday cake recipe, and had been frozen in ice cream for over two hundred years. After being decommissioned by Numbuh 86 only a few hours earlier he’d been thrown out of a transport shuttle, known as the S.C.A.M.P.E.R.-S.O.O.P.R.E.M.E. (Shabby Camper Actually Makes Perfect Emergency Rescue Shuttle Obviously Overwhelmingly Providing Really Excellent Massive Extras), directly onto the sidewalk near Sector V’s tree house. Consequently, it landed him into the hands on Cree Lincoln – formally Numbuh 11 – and Chad Dickson, the retired supreme leader of the Kids Next Door.
His hair was a coppertone color and reached his shoulders while a blue olden-styled hat with a red ribbon was atop his head. A large red bow held together the dark blue vest with long sleeves and black and white cuffs, along with white knee-high shorts and a pair of black high heeled shoes which completed his formal attire. What surprised most kids were his unusual blue eyes: they were the perfect shade of sky on a clear, cloudless day. He was born in the year 1796 – and became a KND operative when he was six in 1802 – so naturally he stuck out in a crowd of modern 21st Century people.
“W-where am I?” he stammered, shivering in the cold room. He saw the metal bench in the wall since the light shone down on it from the door, so he took a seat; it was icy to the touch. With nothing more to do, he tried to remember who he was and what he was without. Minutes passed with fruitless efforts, but then he heard someone talking just beyond the door – it sounded like Cree.
“I’ll watch the door while you get us smoothies,” she said. Chad’s voice followed in agreement and with that his footsteps faded. Cree slipped some red headphones over her ears, moving her thick brown hair out of the way, and bobbed to the music while she waited at her post. The boy in the room behind her sighed and looked down at his feet; he wished dearly that he would soon remember his name.
. . .
Sector R’s tree house was in the middle of Green Swamp, Florida, naturally grown thanks to the wildlife sanctuary nearby and they had no neighborhoods close enough to be a menace to them. Some distance away in the city of Kissimmee was their school, too, Celebration Elementary – sure it was over 30 miles from there, but it was the closest one to the tree house, and luckily the five of them all lived within the Kissimmee boundaries, making it easy to travel back and forth.
Numbuh 652 in particular was in her room shedding tears. She’d met Numbuh 19th Century just after his decommissioning, and as he had been led away, he looked her over with a disappointed frown. She was a Persian girl with dark brown hair up in a ponytail and side-swept bangs going to the left. Her V-neck orange shirt was tucked under her blue jeans, she wore fingerless black and white striped gloves, and sported a pair of black heels similar to his on her feet; overall, she was pretty, but in his eyes, she was below his class.
“Such a pity that inferior aliens were ever allowed into the Kids Next Door,” he’d stated, “and a girl of all things!” That hit her hard – hard enough to make her cry there and all the way back to her tree house.
She wiped her nose on a tissue near her bed and tossed it into the trash bin by the door to her room. She had the smallest personal quarters out of her teammates, but it was also the neatest: in the 20x18 foot room there was a comfortable bed, a desk with a mobile light in the right corner that had drawers for pens, pencils, paper, and whatever else, a closet filled with clothes, and an ovular mirror opposite to her desk that was just the right height for her to stand in front of. An Owl City poster was nailed to the wall on the left of the mirror – a symbol of her love for that particular musician – and in marker the girl had written the names of her favorite songs.
Just at that moment her leader and best friend, Numbuh 593 entered and sat next to her on her bed. He was a handsome young man with bushy orange hair and red tips; he wore a turtleneck long-sleeve yellow and black striped shirt, umber brown pants with cuts on the knees, grey lace-less shoes, and light brown fingerless gloves.
He constantly wore a jetpack with a buckle on the front and a cover made to look like a regular tan backpack, but there was one part of him that no one else had – his right eye was bionic. It was fairly simple, really, made so that from the front one saw a blue sunglass lens with little light blue pegs sticking up from the interior perimeter and a silver curved coating surrounded it with two corners stretching out to the bridge of his nose and towards his temple.
He put his hand on her shoulder with a comforting smile and told her, “Don’t worry about that kid, Nora. Odds are we’ll never even see him again.” Numbuh 652 sniffed, looking at him with hopeful eyes.
“Are you sure?” she replied. That was almost her trademark question to ask (him or anyone else, for that matter). He chuckled and swung his arm around in a semicircular fashion: “Not in a kajillion years!” With that, his teammate smiled, finally done crying, so he jumped to his feet and patted her shoulder.
“Thanks, Numbuh 593,” she called when he exited her room. Though he didn’t respond, she knew he heard her. She glanced at her Owl City alarm clock and gasped at the time – it was much later than she thought. Immediately she prepared for bed and slipped into her nightgown and under the covers. Despite being tired, she couldn’t fall asleep because she could still hear that boy’s insult echoing in her head. The words were heavy in her heart.
. . .
Ex-Numbuh 19th Century kicked the door first thing this morning; he wanted out now, but no one answered his cries all night. When his foot began to ache, he switched to his hands and started pounding against it.
“Let me out!” he shouted, “I want to go home!” Finally he heard someone coming towards him, so he stood on his toes to see through the barred window. Sadly he was too short to reach it, even when he jumped. “Shut up, kid,” Cree commanded, kicking the door harder. The boy fell back and cowered as a loud clang resonated on the walls. He dared not to say any more for fear of experiencing the teenage girl’s wrath. Instead he stayed on the cold floor and waited for a sign of hope, but his faith was wearing thin. All he could foresee was that one of his capturers would feed him at some point – he pleaded it would be soon too.
About two minutes later his wish was granted…in a sense: Cree tossed a granola bar through the window. It may have been miniscule for his appetite, but he shrugged and attempted to unwrap it; that was a bigger challenge than he’d thought. Luckily he managed to open it after some struggle and ate. While he did, he imagined his parents and his house – then he hung his head when he remembered how they (as well as everything he’d once known) were long gone. It was as if a weight had been placed in his heart.
. . .
“Okay, we’ll go in, get what we need, and get out,” stated Numbuh 593. He checked his makeshift watch on his wrist and added, “All agreed we’ve got ten minutes?” His teammates nodded behind him, so he kicked the door open with a grunt. The other four kids ran past him and approached the counter where a young adult stood behind a cash register. They looked eagerly through the glass at the tubs of ice cream of different flavors – all were excited to be in the Ice Cream Shop after a week of missions, and equally happy that their leader kept his promise to take them here.
A small Asian punk girl with mid-length black pigtails spoke first: “Frozen banana, low-fat chocolate coating and no nuts.” Like her friend Nora and her leader, she wore fingerless gloves, but hers were all black and stopped at her wrists. Her red tank top hung just above her belt and her orange camouflage shorts had six pockets. A pair of olive green army boots was strapped to her feet up to her knees over yellow tights. Her accessories included a large skull necklace, a dark blue chain wrapping around her waist in two belt loops, and two pairs of earrings – one of red diamonds above the others which were yellow loops. She was Numbuh 650.
“Comin’ right up!” the cashier replied cheerfully, “what else?” The next kid to speak was an albino boy with red eyes and pale skin. A black hooded sweatshirt shadowed his face until he pulled it away with his hand. His hair was died black to match his personality, and he wore grey jeans with rolled up cuffs that lay over his red sneakers. His eyes were outlined in black to resemble a skull; as dangerous as the decision was, he’d become Numbuh 666 when he was six and a half, but surprisingly, he was rarely unlucky.
“Strawberry cone, single scoop with raspberry sauce,” he said in a cool raspy voice. The adult nodded and punched a button or two on the register; he looked at the shortest member of the team next and asked for his request.
“Cookies n’ cream with lots o’ sprinkles, please!” he exclaimed happily. This kid, Numbuh 641, had beach blonde hair that was short in the back and his bangs were outgrown. The tips were orange – which matched his sneakers – and he wore a green T-shirt that had a large black exclamation mark on the front. His jeans were light blue and baggy (perfect for the amount of movement he did on a regular basis), and a little smiley face patch was sewn onto his left knee. Indeed he was the ball of obnoxious sunshine in their sector.
Then came their leader who gently brushed past Numbuh 641 and said, “Single scoop of vanilla with no toppings, pal.” The young adult pushed one more button and reread the kids’ orders to double-check the prices.
“One frozen banana with low-fat chocolate coating and no nuts for one dollar, a single scoop strawberry cone with raspberry sauce for a dollar seventy-five, a cookies and cream single scoop cone with sprinkles for a dollar twenty five, and a vanilla cone for a dollar. Your total comes to…”
Numbuh 593 turned his head and saw Numbuh 652. He pulled her forward, holding his other hand up to alert the cashier, and quickly said, “Hold it – we almost forgot this girl’s treat.”
“Oh! Sorry little lady, you were just so quiet back there,” replied the young adult, “What would you like?” She approached the counter and pointed to a tub of ice cream.
“Does this one have lactose in it?” she asked. The young man directed her to the far left side of the counter where six tubs were kept separate from the other twenty-three.
“These flavors are all lactose free,” he said holding up a scooper and cone, “which would you like?” She scanned them over and pointed at the top middle one: “One scoop of the mint chip, please.” The cashier made her cone ready first and handed it to her before fixing up Numbuh 641’s and then their leader’s. When Numbuh 593 got his cone, he turned to the girl and walked her to the curb outside of the store. The bell rang when he opened the door for her, but before he exited, he looked at the cashier and asked, “How much do we owe ya, pal?”
“The total is six dollars and twenty-five cents,” he replied cheerfully. Numbuh 593 searched his pockets for his allowance money and gave it to Numbuh 666 who was next to him, holding his ice cream.
“Go ahead and pay him for me, will ya?” he asked. The darker operative nodded and went back to the counter while the other kids took their places on the curb. Once the cheery cashier gave him the receipt and wished him a good day, he turned around and smiled: “Nothing gets you down, does it?”
Outside, Numbuhs 593 and 652 sat next to each other, licking their ice cream cones. Numbuh 641 was to the right of their leader and Numbuh 650 enjoyed her frozen banana at the other girl’s left while Numbuh 666 stood behind his friends. He kept an eye on their surroundings at all times – he was the hawk of the group, so they knew they could count on him to spot any suspicious activities, whatever the sort.
“Sorry we almost forgot about you back there, Numbuh 652,” Numbuh 593 said apologetically. His best friend smiled at him and told him she didn’t mind. Feeling relieved, they both resumed to their treats.
Out of nowhere a small explosion erupted from inside the Ice Cream Shop behind them; Numbuh 652 shrieked and held tightly to her leader while the other kids, equally surprised, turned their heads to the store. Numbuh 666 looked unchanged by the event with the exception of a tiny smirk: “I don’t think that guy’s still cheery after that.”
This secton was written in two different locations on lined paper during the rough draft stage: the first half with Numbuh 19th Century in prison was done at school while the lower half about Numbuhs 652 and 593 talking and the rest of their team going out for ice cream was written in Santa Ana under a tree on a clipboard while listening to Linkin Park music. The original design for Numbuh 593 was meant to be similar to the leader of the Boys Next Door - as was his voice, but neither aspect was fully developed, so neither were the outcome for his final design.
Chapter Two is located here.