TITLE: Ari's Traveling Rat Spa
GENRE: YA Fiction
Seventeen-year-old Ari has just painstakingly set up a room and all her research to prepare for an important meeting which may decide whether or not she can resume operating her traveling rat spa. She’s in her van, waiting for the meeting to start, at the beginning of this scene.
There’s a loud BOOM and my van rocks sideways. I grip the steering wheel, worried about an earthquake, although those are uncommon in the Central Valley. But after the initial boom and rocking, the world is still again. A fire alarm blares, quickly followed by sirens from the nearby fire department.
What happened? Whatever it is, it can’t be good.
I clamber from the van, hugging the folder to my chest. After wading through a mass of onlookers, I reach the front steps of Town Hall, where many of the workers have gathered.
Frankie is standing on the steps, wringing his hands. I bound up to him. “What happened? Are you okay?”
“No, I mean, I’m fine. The building was firebombed.”
“What about my hearing? Can I still do it?”
He keeps wringing his hands.
“Frankie, snap out of it!” I wave my folder in his face. “My hearing!”
“The meeting room was the focus of the bombing,” he says.
“You mean…all the stuff I set up in there, all the research I did…”
“Whatever didn’t burn is soaked.”
I walk back toward the parking lot in a daze.
Jameson was right. It isn’t always about winning and losing. Sometimes it’s about not even getting the chance to compete.
A couple of firefighters are talking when I walk past.
“A Molotov cocktail,” one says. “Right through that window— pyeeeeew.” She makes the kind of sound effect I’d expect to hear on a primary school playground.