TITLE: MIGHTY MIKE AND THE INTERGALACTIC CANDY DISPENSER
GENRE: MG Sci-fi/Adventure
According to The List of Chumps to be Pounded After School, today was hang-Mike-like-a-piñata-Thursday. Mike glanced from his math book to the soccer field. Still no sign of the owner of The List. Brutus wouldn’t drag him away in front of everyone else. Right?
Just Little League batting practice. Mike gritted his teeth and hoped no one saw his panic. He was not going to hide in his house like a friendless dork. His plan to escape both Brutus’ fists and Dad’s goals for him becoming a lawyer had to work.
Mike pulled his teacher’s recommendation letter for Space Camp from his book. Step one: attend the Academy section two years early. Step two: become the first teenage astronaut—
“C’mon Mike, we need another player.” Carlos stood with his hands spread wide and his usual grin smeared across his face.
Demonstrating his sorry soccer skills was not Mike’s favorite after-school activity, but he could never turn down his best—and only—friend. Besides, doing homework on the bleachers just encouraged the dork title.
Pretending he couldn’t run fast enough to get to the ball never worked because everyone knew he was quick even if he was shorter than half the fifth-grade girls. No, the whole kicking-the-ball thing proved his lack of eye-to-foot coordination.
Maybe soccer balls warped space. Yeah, that was it. A tiny gravity field curved his leg sideways, not his own Bambi-on-ice legs. As usual, groans and laughter followed his latest failure.
“Good job, hermano, you almost walloped the ball into next week!”
Mike raised an eyebrow. Even Carlos shouldn’t be happy with that dismal performance.
“Oh look, it’s Mini-Mike.” Brutus’ screech drowned out laughter from both teams. “If you’re afraid of the ball, there’s a pee-wee league on the other side of the park—in the sandbox. Ha-ha.”
The other players turned away or made sure their shoes were tied. In the classroom, even teachers called Brutus by his self-chosen nickname rather than risk flying, juicy spit wads plastered to the whiteboard.
Mike dragged his feet downfield to make sure he wouldn’t be anywhere near the ball’s space warp—or Brutus and his buddies, Trevor and Cole.
Brutus kept up the jeers. “Mikey’s running away!”
“Don’t let him get to you,” Carlos called softly as he jogged across the field. “You ever see him play soccer? Two left feet! Seriously. Here’s the plan: stick with me, I’ll get the ball to you and move downfield. You don’t have to score, just angle it back to me, easy-peasy!”
“Easy-peasy?” Mike shook his head. The phrases Carlos picked up from his grandmother’s diner were even more confusing than the random Spanish he learned from his dad. It would take a fifty-foot force field generated by the starship Enterprise to give Mike the time and space he needed to connect with the ball. And he’d still miss the target.
“Mikey’s afraid of a little ball. Mikey’s a chicken, Mikey’s a chicken.” A couple fourth-graders picked up Trevor’s tune.