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A Silver Lining (Complementary Prize - 13-15

March, 2013
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A Silver Lining

Hi. My name’s Mortimer, and I’m a believer.

Not like your usual crackpots, mind. I actually know that the world’s going to end on the twenty-first of December. Because I’m going to end it.

Yup, you heard it. I’m going to see Washington DC go up in smoke this Christmas. Now listen here, before you go on a rant let me tell you how it’s going to go, and why. Trust me, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Probably.

I’m still waiting on a call from Craig, my supplier for all things explosive. He told me he’d be preparing a special something for me by today, a true masterpiece of a rocket, bigger and better than anything he had ever been commissioned to develop before. It has taken weeks (not to mention a considerable dent in my wallet) to perfect, and had better be worth it. It definitely wasn’t legal, but that’s right up my alley; I know my stuff when it came to missiles. I’m seriously going to murder Craig if he messes up, after all the meticulous preparation I put in.

I have the whole plan sorted out, and if nothing goes wrong on his part, it couldn’t possibly fail.

My house will be the base. The explosion will be set off by an old fashioned clicker remote, which ought to fit snugly in the front pocket of my jeans. Not the most inconspicuous of detonators, to be sure, but what with the wacko company in store for tonight, a fear of looking suspicious wouldn’t burden a party-crashing T-Rex in a balaclava.

There’s a big party going up, to celebrate the lunacy of the Mayans. Pretty desperate reason to have a house party, right? Well that’s my sister for you. Vicky Reed doesn’t need a reason to party; she’s above being sensible and all that rubbish.   Actually, I’m not exactly one to talk about sensibility myself…

I’ve always been a trouble maker.

Always the last one picked for teams; the reject eating alone; the weird one they all laughed at. I felt the need to prove myself ever since I was in pre-school. I wanted people to think I was cool. I wanted to be liked. But I wasn’t talented, I wasn’t rich, and I sure as hell wasn’t attractive. I got people’s respect the only way I could: I became the bold one, the guy who dares.

People would gape at me smoking in the hallways, spray-painting rude words on teachers’ furniture, and setting fire to the boys’ locker room. Again. And that was just sixth grade.

But it didn’t work out like I’d hoped. It didn’t get me friends or the girls’ attention. After all, who would want to be seen hanging out with a guy who’s suspended more often than not? And I was still an ugly loser, just with a smaller wallet, shorter temper and fewer number of teeth. The only thing that increased was my need for a Tic-tac.

So it figured that I would be the one to think up a scheme like this, dangerous as it was. I don’t have anything to live for as things are. I hate myself. I hate my sister, I hate my school, I hate this country. No one’s ever done me any good, except for my parents. Who, as luck would have it, are dead.

I have to try a different approach. This is my last bid. If it doesn’t turn things around then I’m going to throw myself off the Key Bridge. If there’s anything left of me to throw.

An incessant buzzing interrupts my morbid thoughts.

My phone.

Butterflies gather in my stomach and turn it into a mosh pit. My hands slip as I hurry to pick up the receiver.

“Craig? Tell me it’s ready.”

“You got it, chum.” I breathe a heavy sigh of relief, and Craig chuckles. “No worries, it’s the best firework ever. Six feet or thereabouts. Should ring in at two hundred decibels. Make sure your skylight’s at least ten foot squared, ’cause the projectile’s bulk might cause it to deviate from a perpendicular trajectory, if you get my meaning. But I’m afraid I couldn’t get the blue you wanted in. Copper chloride is just too unstable at the temperatures caused by the heat released in the burning of some of the others’ pyrotechnic compositions. I used copper acetoarsenite instead, it makes for a nice Paris Green.

“Oh, and sorry for the delay, lad, but you can’t rush perfection. I spent ages clearing sodium impurities from the binder. Even trace amounts are sufficient to overpower or alter the other colors with orange, you know.”

“Right,” I say. “Naturally.”

I hear him laugh again. “Hunky-dory, we’ll meet at the Subway on Fifth. One o’clock should be right in the lunch rush. Bring the dope.”

“Roger that.” I hang up.

This’ll be awesome. I already prepared the skylight in the sunroom, perfectly placed where there shouldn’t be anyone nearby to sabotage the rocket or get hurt as it goes off (but boy, was there a time when I would’ve wanted that). They’ll all be outside kicking it or in the kitchen getting refills, given a perfect view on the night sky.

Then I’ll kick off their surprise firework display. A series of deafening bangs and a whole spectrum’s worth of peonies later, and I’ll be a changed man. The talk will be all about me and my amazing stunt for weeks, and me and Craig will be in business for a long time yet. You see, tonight will be the end of the world for me. I’m starting anew. Stuff the bold one, I’m the party man now.

I check my fake Rolex. Twenty to one. I’d better hurry if I want to get to Fifth in time.

Ten minutes later, with a whoop and a fist of cash, I hasten out of the house.

This is going to be the best. Party. Ever!

 

By Amy Wei,

The British School of Beijing

 

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