Recess High school years
Sophomore Year: The return of Dr Slicer
By Ruff Desperado aka King James
(Rated T for Teen)
Season 2 Episode 1
Narrator POV (Everyone)
A long time ago in a fandom far, far away...
THE RETURN OF DR SLICER
Thaddeus T. Third V has vanished.
In his absence, the nefarious B.O.E
has risen from the ashes of the, like,
totally boring school district and will
not rest until every teen conforms to
their unusual good behavioral standards.
With help from THE GANG, TJ Detweiler
leads a brave pranking hacktivist
vigilante group of PSEUDONYMOUS.
He is desperate to keep his friends
close and his enemies closer.
In his attempt to bring justice to the
school, the gang have swatted the
corrupt and manipulative Tad White.
TJ has been made principal of Thad
High for the first day of school.
However, it was agreed that the
ex-superintendent will put
forward a replacement of his
choosing on that second day, that will
no doubt be as vindictive and as evil
as he was. Enjoying the last day of
summer, the gang feel that eerie
sense of dread loom around the corner...
The opening crawl disappears as it slides through space. The black void polka-dotted with stars. There's an object floating by itself. Something red and round. It's a kickball. The same ball that Vince LaSalle kicked five years ago in Third Street school. It has stayed forever suspended in space. Just beyond it there's another spherical object. The light that beams out from it, shadows that red kickball. There's life coming from it. It's Earth. Closer to Earth, passed the satellites sending signals, rocks drawn in by the gravitational pull, down from the crowd of clustered clouds, through the clearer blue sky, down to the dry desert, there's a convertible speeding across the road with the roof off. It's Gus Griswold driving his best friend Mikey Blumberg.
They are somewhere around California, on the edge of the desert, as the candy begins to take hold. Gus is wearing a bucket hat, sunglasses sleekly beneath it, as he sucks on a candy cigarette. Mikey sits in the passenger seat, letting the humid air blow through his wide open unbuttoned shirt, exposing his belly.
"I feel a bit lightheaded," Gus says, steering the wheel slightly as he keeps the car straight. "Mikey, maybe you should drive."
Suddenly, unbeknownst to Mikey, Gus could now hear a terrible roar all around them, as the road begins to fill up with what looks like bright unicorns, all galloping, and rushing, and shimmyconga-ing around the car.
"Holy moly!" Gus hollers, swerving the car to give them space to run. "What are these gosh darn animals?"
"Did you say something?" Mikey asks, still looking straight ahead.
"Hmm?" Gus replies. "Never mind. It's your turn to drive."
No point in mentioning these unicorns, Gus thinks. Poor Mikey'll see them soon enough.
Gus slows down their ride and drifts it to the side of the road. He takes care exiting the vehicle to make space for the unicorns. For the time being, at least to Gus, they've gone away. He makes his way to the back of the car. He opens up the trunk. Their candies are revealed.
They have two bags of Pork-bakey flavored chips, ten sheets of high-powered lick-able wallpaper, a salt shaker half-full of sherbet powder, lolly dippers, a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, squealers, gassers. Also, a cooler of frappe milkshake, a liter of H2WHOA with a touch of fruit, a case of Martian Piss sodas, a pint of raw sour blast, two dozen cases of Enamelshreds. Not that they needed all that for the trip. But when you work at Kelso's corner store, and you get locked into a serious candy collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
The only thing that really worries Gus is the sour blast. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a teenager in the depths of a sour blast binge, and Gus knew they'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon.
Gus takes out a sheet of lick-able wallpaper, some sherbet powder and a can of Martian Piss soda. Closing the trunk, he gets in the passenger seat this time as Mikey has moved over to the driver's seat. Only Gus has a full license to drive and Mikey only has a provisional, but as long as Gus is supervising, it's all legal.
Mikey turns on the radio. The news comes on. "The American Heart Association report says teenagers are at most risk of consuming too much sugar, as it causes hyperactivity, anxiety—"
Mikey tunes to Blockhead FM.
"Wild roller coaster, a merry go roooound!" Mikey sings-a-long. "Billboards and posters, a familiar grooound—!"
"Familiar ground, big guy?" Gus asks.
Mikey continues. "We're stood in motion, we're on a highway at the speed of light!"
"Wait until you see these damn unicorns, man," Gus adds.
"Where ever we go there will be love and devotion—!" Mikey's voice trails off.
Mikey drives passed someone. On the side of the road there's a teenage hitchhiker with his thumb stuck out. The boy's dark brown hair is scruffy and he's sporting on glasses just like Gus. It's Menlo. He's stranded in the desert with a suitcase.
Mikey slows down to a stop. "Let's give Menlo a lift," Mikey suggests.
"What?" Gus goes, spinning his head around in horror. "No! Wait! We can't stop here. This is the unicorn state."
Ignoring Gus, Mikey puts the car in reverse and speeds backwards to where Menlo is standing.
"Oh wow!" Menlo goes, running up to them with his suitcase. He gets up to the side of the car. "I never rode in a convertible before!"
"Is that right?" Gus says, peering back at Menlo. "Well, I guess you're about ready then, aren't ya?"
Mikey grins his rosy cheeks up at Menlo. "We are your friends," Mikey says. "We're not like the others, my dear friend. Really."
Gus turns to Mikey. "No more of that nicey nice cutesy talk, or I'll put the cobras on you, understand?" Gus threatens. Mikey laughs back at him as Gus sharply swivels his head back at Menlo. "Get in."
Menlo enters the car. Mikey drives down the desert.
How long can Gus and Mikey maintain their manic minds?
How long before one of them starts raving and jabbering at Menlo?
What will he think then?
Can they trust Menlo?
Menlo ratted them out the first half of the year at Thad high. Also, this is the same desert Troy, Spinelli and Gus almost got stranded on before they saved TJ.
Will Menlo make a connection when my best friend starts screaming about unicorns and starts singing to no music, and realize that we're both off our heads on candy, and in no fit shape to be driving? Gus thinks. If so, well then, we'll just have tie him up, and leave him here like hide 'n seek, but on this occasion no one will ever find him. 'Cause it goes without saying that we can't let him go free. He'd report us at once to some kind of outback off duty teacher and the whole B.O.E will run us down like criminals.
Jebus Cripes, did I say that, or just think it? Gus thinks. Was I talking? Did they hear me? He checks himself in the mirror before spinning his head around at the others who haven't noticed this. He turns to Menlo. "All right, listen. There's one thing you should probably understand—can you hear me? Good. I want you to have all the back story. This is an off-the-wall operation we're on where anything can happen. This is the last day of summer, man. This is really important, gawd damn it! This is a freaking true story!"
Gus taps his can of soda on Mikey's shoulder to listen.
Mikey bellows, "Don't touch me!" He swipes his arms around at Menlo and Gus, swerving the car from side to side.
Menlo moves around in his seat as he clutches his suitcase for dear life.
Gus climbs to the backseat next to Menlo, whilst Mikey is still driving. "Now, now, now," Gus says. "This guy at the wheel is my best friend."
"Um," Menlo goes, slowly panning his head away from Mikey and then Gus. "I know Mikey."
"No, listen," Gus continues. "He's my best friend. He's not just some dork I found in study hall, guy. He's a poet laureate. I think he's probably an activist. It doesn't matter, though, does it? Are you a snitch?"
"No," Menlo replies, frantically shaking his head. "Hell no. I'm okay now. I'm finished with being a hall monitor and following orders and—"
"Good," Gus says, putting his arm around Menlo. "I didn't think so. Because, in spite him being completely useless in a fight, Mikey is extremely valuable to me. Oh, crap. I forgot about the soda. You want some?"
"How 'bout some sour blast?"
"Never mind. All right, let's get right to the heart of this thing. Twenty Four hours ago we were sitting..."
...in Kelso's corner store at the booth section, drinking Hard Frappe shakes with syrup on the side. Hiding from the brutal reality that summer is over and that the new year of school is just around the corner. They were meeting up and talking about the Wild Screaming Woodchuck Scouts, since Phil got kicked out of scouts for forging his scouting badge, to move next rank from semi-junior whistle-pig to senior woodchuck. It was only them two and Edmond P. Edmonton as their leader left.
"We have as much chance of getting a third party joining us, as us having a full flooded alien invasion next summer," Gus moaned, his head rested on his crossed arms, wearing his scout uniform with Mikey.
"You mean, you want us to have an alien invasion?" Mikey asked.
"No, of course not."
"But we can't just force people to join us," Mikey replied. He pondered for a moment. "We haven't asked any girls, what about Molly?"
"I'm done with her," Gus said, bluntly.
"Gus?" gasped Mikey.
"No, I still wanna be friends with her. It's just that I'm done trying to make her like-like me is all. Spinelli was right. There are other girls out there."
Just as that spilled out of Gus' mouth, three girls appeared outside of the store. One of the girls knocked on the door. Gus and Mikey looked at themselves pensively. Gus stood up knowing that he had to take responsibility of the store. He didn't know whether he was gonna get haggled by a salesman who wouldn't take no for an answer, or an irritable customer who doesn't read that the store is closed.
Gus opened the door. "Sorry, we're closed," he said at the girls.
It's the three Ashleys. Ashley Armbruster, Ashley Boulet and Ashley Tomassion.
"We know," Ashley A said, standing in the middle of the other two.
"Um, if you knew then you wouldn't be wanting to come in," Gus said, as he held on to the door. "Yet, here we are."
Ashley B asked, "are you being cute right now?"
"No, just kinda stating the obvious," Gus said. Mikey came out of the booth, having recognized the voices. "I'm not supposed to let anyone in here outside of opening hours. I've already got Mikey in here so I'm—"
Ashley A said, "just move over, you fashion reject."
She pushes her way inside the store as Ashley B followed her.
Ashley T walked in last. "Mikey's here?" she asked Gus. She noticed Mikey. "Hi."
"Hi," Mikey replied.
Mikey and Ashley T shared a moment just staring and smiling at each other.
Ashley A looked over at everyone. "Okay, now that we're all caught up with the hellos," she started. She turned her attention back on Gus and Mikey. "I wanna catch you boys up with the four-one-one. My Daddy has finally come up with the present he promised me, and to cut to the chase, I wanna invite you two to Gonzo World. Tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Gus asked.
Ashley T smiles. "Tomorrow," she replied.
Mikey said, "that's very sweet and thoughtful of you, Ashley."
Ashley B added, "oh that's nothing, Mikey. We have the whole theme park reserved and only our like, closest of closest friends are invited."
Gus asked, "the whole park just for us?"
Ashley A replied, "that's right, everyone from school, and a few girlfriends from my Etiquette Chapter, but you don't have to worry about that."
"So, when are we leaving?" Gus asked.
"Um, excuse me?" Ashley A asked back, blinking her stylized eye lashes like she doesn't understand the question.
"Yeah," Mikey chimed in. "How are we getting there together?"
All three Ashleys laughed at them.
Ashley B raised her eyebrows. "Uh, you're not," she replied.
Gus asked, "How are we supposed to get there?"
Ashley A replied, "Sorry, that's like, not our problem." She fluttered her fingers at them. "Toodles."
Ashley A left the store with Ashley B following behind her in the similar fashion they had when they entered the store.
Ashley T had stayed behind. "Just turn up and say your name when they ask you," she explained. "It'll be on the guest list."
Ashley A called the other Ashley to come outside.
"Late," Ashley T added, as she left the store, closing the door behind her, making the store bell ring.
Gus and Mikey were by themselves again.
"What do you think?" Gus asked.
"Sounds like fun," Mikey replied. "As your best friend, I advise you to rent a car with no top. And you'll need the sherbet powder. Blows our meeting though."
Mikey seemed to always refer to Gus as 'best friend' no matter how trivial it sounded when they assigned each other goals to set in scouts. They had a sugar rush which, at that particular moment, made them refer to each other as 'best friend' way more than what was necessary.
"Yeah?" Gus asked.
"We're gonna have to forget about finding a new scout and we're gonna have to get supplies," advised Mikey.
Mikey waved his hands around the store that they're standing in.
Gus undone his scout scarf woggle tie. "Well, why not?" Gus said, "I mean, if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing right, right? This is the American teenager's dream."
Gus lead the way as he went back home.
Once home, Gus retrieved all the money he made during the year that he'd stored in his shoe box. They ventured back to the corner store where he emptied out his money. Almost one thousand dollars worth. It never occurred to Gus how much he'd saved even though he had been working so hard on it. With the store to his mercy, Gus bought every piece of candy, drink, and over-the-counter untested sweet he could. Serving himself at the cash register.
They soon departed Kelso's and made their way to the Townsedge mall. Mikey got them both Acapulco shirts. Gus buying himself prescription shades and a bucket hat.
Hours later in the day, Gus rented a Cadillac Eldorado convertible. Out of the car lot, Gus reversed the car in full speed, with the salesman running after him with the car warranty still to sign. Mikey began to add their supplies in the backseat.
"You just backed over a 2-foot curb without slowing down," the car salesman said, holding on to the side of the convertible. "What were you going, uh, oh, I don't know, 50 miles an hour backwards?"
"I'm okay," Gus replied, as he looked more occupied with the interior of the car.
"That's not what I meant—"
"I can test out the transmission that way and see how good condition it's in despite it's mileage."
The car salesman pauses and has a look at Gus. "You seem a little young to be renting a car."
"Thanks," Gus replied, as Mikey went in the passenger seat. "I think I get it on my mom's side."
"You two aren't doing anything you shouldn't be, are you?" the car salesman asked, as he dangled the contract in-front of Gus.
"Not us," Gus replied, as he put the car in first. "We're good kids."
Gus drove off with Mikey out of the car lot.
"You forgot to sign the warranty!" the car salesman said, as he ran after them and then gave up. "Goddamn teenagers!"
By the end of the day, Gus and Mikey had fully stocked the car with everything they needed. They decided to spend the rest of the night by the lake and use what was left of the money on sweets to eat. Their trip was different. It was an indication that the best times of their teenage years were before them, and all the fantastic possibilities that can only be experienced in these years is when they take their chances and give all of themselves, with nothing left behind. That was the true American way. They had to fight for the right to have fun...
...and we're just bursting with that, my guy," Gus goes, next to Menlo in the back seat.
"That's right!" Mikey says, driving onward in the car.
"My best friend understands that, despite his opinion on anti-war," Gus says, nodding at Mikey's direction and turning to Menlo. "But do you?"
Menlo just nods looking freaked out at them both.
Mikey swerves the car to the side of the road. He waves his arms in a panic.
"Oh!" Mikey shouts. "Aah! Ohhhhh! Medicine!"
"What?" Gus asks, way too casually.
"Medicine!" Mikey repeats.
"Medicine? Oh, yeah, medicine!" Gus says. He reaches back to his seat and takes out some sherbet powder. "Right. Right here. Don't worry. My best friend has a bad heart. But we have a cure for it." He hands Mikey the sherbet in his mouth as Menlo looks on. "Here you go. All right, big huff, big huff, big guy." Mikey calms down. "Now for me." Gus huffs some sherbet powder himself.
They sit in silence for a second.
Mikey's calmed down, stretching his neck across at them two. "What the heck are we doing here in the middle of the desert?" he asks. "Somebody call their parents. We need help. We need adult supervision."
Gus doesn't reply.
Mikey slams on the horn. He laughs out in hysterics until he calms down again.
Menlo looks from both of them and sighs. "I don't know how I've got here either," Menlo goes. "I'm coming back home from the most boring family vacation, then the coach breaks down, and the next thing I know, I'm, like you said Mikey, in the middle of the desert looking for help. I had no idea about this Gonzo arrangement. I'm so out of the loop. This has to be a sign. I'm invited after all, aren't I? I've never been invited to anything in my life."
"I'm telling you," Mikey starts, "you can be one of us." Mikey and Gus swap seats again, so now Gus is driving. "Here's your half of the sunshine sweet. Eat it."
Gus takes it. "Nice," Gus replies, placing the candy on his tongue, back on the road again. "How long do I have?"
"As your best friend, I advise you to drive at top speed, or it'll be a miracle if we can get there before you turn into a wild animal."
Molly Sanchez's pink streaks in her brunette hair shines off the late afternoon sun. She stands all alone in Gonzo World, resting her chin on her crossed arms as she watches a couple play Wack-a-Mole. Spinelli and Gretchen spot her out.
"Hey Molly," Spinelli says, tilting her head. "You wanna ride the Rocky Mammoth?
"No," Molly mumbles.
Gretchen asks, "how about the arcade?"
"Uh-uh," Molly replies, shaking her head.
Spinelli pushes all the candy she has at her. "You want some sweets?" she asks.
"No thank you."
"Gretchen, this is worse than I thought."
Molly's eyes dart at the sweets. She changes her mind. She downs all of Spinelli's chocolate. She opens up the gum drops, munches it all away in speed, twirls all the cotton candy in one whole piece and chomps on it all in one gulp. She then takes Gretchen's cup and sips it all the way down to the bottom. Sighing, she returns back to sulking.
Gretchen blinks holding her now empty paper cup. "You're very welcome, Molly," says Gretchen, "don't mention it."
Spinelli raises her eyebrows. How can Molly be this unhappy in a place like this, Spinelli thinks. This is why love is more trouble than it's worth.
"He is coming, Moles," Spinelli says. She pats her on the back. "There, there."
"I know he is, you guys," Molly replies, moving her body away from Spinelli. She charges over to Wack-a-Mole where the couple has left. Picking a mallet up, she waits for the game to start and begins smashing the moles down with all her strength. "It's just...uh!...he could...uh!...like-like...uh!...another girl...uh!...by now...uh!"
The Ashleys come over.
"Why are you assaulting the moles?" Ashley A asks.
Molly continues playing. "They're not assaulting me, they're helping me."
"Uh, can you like, clue me in with what the heck you're talking about?"
Gretchen sighs. "Only a bit of confusion," she explains. "Spinelli's nickname for Molly just so happens to coincide with the name of the game she's playing."
Spinelli says, "or smashing."
"Sure Gretchen, but if its like, boy trouble, we can help," says Ashley A.
"No mean to clap-back on you," Spinelli starts. "Pinky swear. But don't you need a boyfriend to give boy advice."
Ashley B smirks. "We all have boyfriends, Spinelli," says Ashley B. "Me with Vince, Ashley with Mikey and Ashley with Troy."
"What?" Spinelli asks. She laughs out loud. The Ashleys don't react. Her face straightens up. "Really? You and Troy are together? Oh."
Ashley T looks on. "So, what's the problem...Moles?" she asks.
Gus rolls into the parking lot with Menlo and Mikey. The night has fallen. The theme park's bright lights are shimmering off the windshield. Menlo rolls off the backseat leaving his suitcase right there in the open. Mikey exits, leaving Gus to walk up to the entrance by himself.
Ignore this candy, Gus thinks. Yeah. Pretend it's not happening.
Gus moves up to the girl ticket attendant. "Hi there! Uh. My name? Uh, Gus Griswold! I have my best friend with me," he starts, spilling his words out erratically.
Gus spins around for Mikey and even Menlo, but they're no where to be seen. Nothing but empty spaces and spirals of red ropes around him. The dark night is setting in. The candy is already messing up his conceptions of everything.
"Come on, take the ticket," the girl ticket attendant says, behind the glass.
Gus looks back at her. The girl's face has distorted. Her drawn in eyebrows are arching up demonically. Her frown outstretched like a monsters. Both her nostrils are huffing up steam on the protective glass.
"Come on, take the ticket," she goes, pushing it at Gus. "Take it. Take the ticket."
"I need this, right?" Gus asks, taking the ticket and peering at it from back to front.
"You can come in and out for the next hour."
Gus walks up to the theme park. 'Gonzo World: water park and arcade' hangs over him. The sharp sweet smell of cotton candy and chlorine hits his nostrils. The loud rustle of roller coasters speed above him. He walks into the arcade section. To Gus, the asteroid patterns on the floor are moving and swirling all around the teenager's feet. All the teens around him are talking and laughing in echoes. He bumps into a girl, making her drop her strawberry milkshake. She pushes him away and calls him something. Gus peers down at the spill. The pink slimy residue is spreading all around his feet looking like streaks of blood. All at once the teenagers have turned into aliens. Walking around in green skin. Antennas on top of their heads. Holding arcade joysticks and pressing buttons with their six fingers.
A hand grabs Gus' arm.
It's Mikey. Gus notices Menlo whose next to him.
"Where you wanna go first?" Mikey asks, holding the map of Gonzo World for them three to see.
Reload! Action! Shots are fired. It's Vince LaSalle and TJ Detweiler. Deep in their first-person on-rails light gun shooter.
TJ has his eyes focused on the screen. "Molly's looking for you," TJ says to Gus.
"Really?" Gus asks. "What for?"
Vince reloads his light green gun by aiming it off the screen. "Don't ask me, lord fancy pants," Vince says at Gus, and then shooting an enemy. "I'm with the monkey."
Vince still recites quotes from old Billy Blaisedell movies. He and Troy Morteza are the only two in their group of friends who still enjoy that type of humor.
Menlo turns to Vince. "How are the rides?" Menlo asks. "I've heard nothing but the best from reviews."
"Menlo?" Vince asks, looking away from what he's doing in disbelief. "You wanna be a cool kid now, huh?"
"Boring," Vince says, returning to the shooter.
"I'm sorry?" Menlo asks.
"The rides. They're boring. We're on double figures."
TJ smirks and chuckles. "I've been on the Eviscerator Vroom of Doom twenty one times," TJ says. "I think by the twentieth time the thrill wore off."
"There's just one ride left we haven't tried."
Menlo asks, "what's that?"
"Tunnel of love," Vince replies. TJ and Vince laugh out loud. Their screen flashes 'Mission clear.' "Yeah, I'm gonna go on it later."
TJ drops his pink gun to his side. "Huh?"
"Yeah, man. I'll find Ashley, you know, check it out, see what it's like."
Mikey nods. "Me too," says Mikey. "Everything once, right?"
"If you go now, you can catch T's seminar in Atlantis City on getting girls," Vince says. "You guys pay him yet?" Menlo and Mikey shake their heads. Gus' attention is elsewhere. "You're friends with him, he'll probably let you hear it for free."
Menlo thinks deeply. "I wanna see the rides though, what if it's too long?" Menlo asks.
"It's sixty seconds," Vince replies.
"Oh," Menlo says. He gets ready to go with his map in hand. Mikey leaves the arcade entirely. "Aren't you coming, Vince?"
"Do I need to? I'm dating Ashley B, I think I can skip it, you should make an appearance, Teej."
"What?" TJ screeches, starting a new game without Vince. "No, I don't need—"
"You should start keeping your options open seeing as you're gonna be the principal next year. My big brother says girls love a guy with power."
Teej has more game with girls than me without even knowing it, Vince thinks. He could make a killing if he just tried. My girlfriend literally got handed to me at the end of middle school.
TJ abandons his gun, letting it dangle off it's chain. He walks alongside Menlo back to the outside. Gus is along with them, however he's completely succumbed by the sugar. He's walking like a crab person as he serpentine's through the theme park. Teenagers are giving him funny looks.
"Gus are you, all right?" TJ asks him.
Gus doesn't respond as he focuses on walking straight with his tongue stuck out in concentration.
"He's okay," Menlo replies, walking and talking with TJ. "I came to Gonzo World with him. He's just on a very intense sugar rush of sorts."
TJ pauses and takes a moment to think of what to say. "So, Menlo," he starts. "Are you back now? My-first-friend-when-I-was-four Menlo? Or, the-hall-way-monitor-giving-me-detention-slips Menlo?"
"The first one," Menlo replies. "I've given up the hallway stuff. For good."
"I can see you hanging out with us if you really mean what you say."
"That's what Mikey said. Is it really that easy to be in that cluster of friends of yours?"
"Well, there's no hazing ritual if that's what you mean. It's as much as them accepting you as it is me. That's not even what I'm afraid of. It's that bad student raging havoc at recess. I know it's still in you. You gonna tone it down this time? Not go cocoa-bananas on us again?"
"I hope so," Menlo replies, as he fiddles around with pills of Ritalin in his pocket.
TJ, Menlo and Gus reach Atlantis City. The water-park part of Gonzo World. One of the largest roller coasters, Typhoon waves where water that splashes, soaking whoever walks by it, is in-front of them. Troy is a safe distance away from the splash zone, surrounded by thirty or so other guys.
"Has everyone chipped in their money for the quick sixty second seminar?" Troy asks at his class. He turns to TJ and Gus who have joined. "Friends are free."
Troy looks at Menlo. He coughs at him with his hand out for him to pay a fee.
TJ puts an arm around Menlo. "He's gonna be part of the gang now, so," TJ explains.
"Hmm, okay," Troy replies, putting his hand away. He turns to Menlo. "Welcome, dude. Manlo, is it?"
"Menlo," corrects Menlo.
"Details, details," Troy replies once more, now standing in-front of everyone. "Dudes! Welcome to Gonzo World."
The bustle of boys quiet down and pay close attention to Troy.
"Eight rules for dating any teenage girl in America,
First off, you do not ask a girl out on a date,
Second off, you do not ask a girl out on a date!
Number third, if you and any girl have any awkward pauses when both of you aren't saying anything, you kiss her, if she doesn't kiss you back, the date is over,
Fourth base on the first date does not make her a slut,
Fifthly, date one girl at a time, buddies,
Sixth rule, no sorry's, no excuses,
Seventh rule, you will let her rave on and on about herself as long as you have to,
And the eighth and most important rule, if this is your first ever girl encounter at Gonzo World today, you have to get a date now, like, right now," Troy finishes.
Menlo walks by himself through Gonzo World. Troy's eight rules weighs down on his mind. There's a lot of girls in the theme park to choose from. He stops. Inside the souvenir store, there's Ashley A looking through the gifts on sale. She's by herself too.
That's very rare for an Ashley to be completely by them-self like this, Menlo thinks.
She's coming out. Menlo turns the other way before she notices him. Menlo notices a boy staring at him, leaning by the entrance of the Enviscerator. He's never seen this boy before. He has scruffy blonde hair, his hands dug into his thin red bomber jacket, with a grey wife-beater underneath. He appears so cool and together. He nods at Menlo. Menlo nods back. Maybe he has a strange telepathic mutual agreement with this teenager. Maybe he's a silent wing-man. But Menlo all of sudden feels confident enough to confront Ashley A. He turns around, going her way.
"Menlo?" Ashley A asks, bumping into him. "Menlo, I wondered if you'd come."
"Really?" Menlo replies. "You did?"
"Yeah," she says, moving her blonde hair to study his face. "The dance was fun. I never really thanked you for asking me. So, thanks."
Menlo stays still shaking on the spot. Ashley looks back at him confused.
"Good!" Menlo blurts out.
"What?" Ashley A asks.
"That you had fun. Good."
Ashley A smiles and chuckles at that.
Menlo feels something coming over him. His biggest crush in his memory has always been Ashley A. He imagines himself taking Troy's advice. Taking her by the waist. Whisking her away to a private spot. Being submerged in the Timmy Woo perfume that she loves so much.
He blacks out.
He's now in Caveman Canyon. Ashley A pushes herself off of his grasp. Their lips were touching. She's giggling.
"I can't do this," Ashley A pants, out of breath.
"What?" Menlo goes, darting his eyes around at where he is. "What's going—?"
"I'm going out with Troy."
How did we get here? Menlo thinks. We were just by the souvenir store near the Eviscerator.
Ashley A lets go of Menlo and rushes away.
Menlo holds his head. He checks his Ritalin. He's missed the specified time when he's supposed to take it. He's been prescribed them since he was 'randomly' chosen to be principal for a day. Whenever he would miss one he'd return back to being hyperactive and out of control. That didn't happen this time. What did happen was much weirder, and what's worse is, he can't remember what it was.
Menlo walks through the theme park once more. Molly is by herself, leaning her head on her hand, admiring the waterfall. He walks up to her.
"Some strange stuff is happening to me," Menlo says, shaking his head.
"Like, puberty stuff?" Molly asks, focusing on the waterfall.
"No, I mean," Menlo starts. He sighs and gives up. "What's going on, with you?"
"I don't think I'll ever find Gus," says Molly.
"He's here somewhere."
"Where?" Molly replies, turning around.
"Last time I saw him was with Troy and—"
"Of course he's with Troy," she moans, turning back around again. "His bestest bestie."
"I'll see you around, then," Menlo says, walking away through the theme park once more.
"Late," she replies, not looking back at him.
A boy approaches Molly. He pats down his hair as he makes his way up to her. He greets her and introduces himself.
"You wanna scale the Great Mammoth's Height ride with me?" he asks.
"No thanks," Molly replies, still focusing on the waterfall.
She moves her hand away from her chin and walks away from him. She takes two or three steps towards a nearby shop.
Another boy approaches Molly in a similar fashion. He stops her in her tracks.
"Um, uh," this boy starts, touching his face all panicky. "The Eviscrerator's fun, isn't it? We should try the ride out together, huh?"
"Rides like that make me queasy," Molly replies, walking away from him, "especially when I go on them more than once!"
Molly tries to find a quiet place away from these troublesome boys. She finds a picnic area and sits on a bench. She takes her phone out as she contemplates on telling Gus her true feelings right now. Gus hasn't replied to any of her private messages on Whaddown since she's been here.
Yet another boy comes up to Molly. He sits next to her with all the other benches free and unoccupied.
"Those boys are bothering you aren't they?" this boy says, not looking at Molly when he does.
"Exactly," Molly replies, setting her phone down on the table.
"You wish they could stop pestering you and just take a hint, right?"
"So, how's about we escape them and go to the tunnel of love?"
"Ugh!" Molly screams, getting on to her feet, storming away from him. "For Fusion sake!"
The boy, having annoyed Molly, gets off the bench. Shaking his head, he takes a few steps and sees a guy walk up to him.
"What's her problem?" that boy goes.
Gus looks over at that boy, having been inches away from Molly without seeing her. "I don't know," Gus replies, shrugging, and downing more sweets. "Nothing to do with me."
Gus makes his way down to a much brighter side of Gonzo World. Where there's lights and entertainment happening. He reaches the booths where the different games are, like in a carnival. He notices Vince with Gretchen as he walks passed. Vince takes one look at Gus, and then back at Gretchen in amazement.
"How are you doing this?" Vince asks Gretchen.
"Science," she replies, whilst she's holding on to a dozen toys that she's won.
"Yeah, I figured it would be," Vince goes. He examines all the booths and the sketchy carnys. "Gretch, these games are fixed as all hell. You're milking these carnys dry."
"By that, it sounds like you want me to try the knock-over-milk-bottle game. Hold my toys."
Gretchen hands over her stuffed animals, cartoons and superhero mascots into Vince's open arms. She moves over to the milk bottle game booth, and hands over a dollar to play.
"You have three shots to knock the bottles down," says the carny, handing over three plastic balls to Gretchen.
"I think one will be more than sufficient," Gretchen replies, just taking one ball. "May you refresh me on the rules please?"
"You throw the ball, the milk goes down, you're a winner," the carny says, bluntly. "The milk stays up, you're loser."
"That's it, right?" Gretchen asks. "So, I may manipulate this plastic ball anyhow I wish before it travels towards the glass bottles?"
Vince looks on holding all the toys, turning to Gretchen. "Gretchen, what aren't you getting?" Vince asks. "The rules are basic."
Gretchen stretches on her protective gloves. She takes out a tube of some substance. Pouring the acid on the plastic ball, she aims it, and throws the ball at the glass bottles. The plastic ball shoots straight through the glass bottle making a hole through the three of them. The hole keeps going through the other side of the booth.
Vince says, "whoa!"
The carny tried to cheat Gretchen. The bottles were glued together, as the remains of the little bottle pyramid stays there, with a hole eroding with steam coming out.
Gretchen gets yet another toy now.
Vince and the carny stand there stunned. With another toy to hold, Vince follows her.
"Experiment of mine of course," Gretchen starts, as she walks with Vince. "I found a way to make Hydrofluoric acid even stronger. It reacts on everything except plastic, like the ball I required to use."
"How am I even friends with you?" Vince asks, with a straight face, trying to catch up with her. "How does that even happen? Can you explain that?"
Gretchen giggles at that.
They reach the duck pond game. Gretchen instructs Vince to just drop the toys on the ground. She takes off her glasses and looks at Vince. He smiles back at her. She puts on her contacts, as she explains that they aren't any normal contacts. They have X-Ray vision. She explains that almost all of the ducks have been numbered unfairly to give the lowest prizes. With her contacts, Gretchen points out the only two ducks out of one hundred that are worth the bigger prizes, to the carny's disappointment.
There are too many toys to carry, so Gretchen fetches a wheel barrel to put them in.
She moves to the ring toss. She asks the carny to perform a demonstration. He does so, and very easily fits a hoop over the bottle. Gretchen gives a dollar and gets a tiny hoop. She borrows a girl's hair drier, blows it around the hoop, melting the plastic ring and bending it to make it slightly wider. Handing over to Vince, he throws for Gretchen and fits it around the bottle.
The carny says, "you cheated!"
"On the contrary," Gretchen starts. She bends over inside the booth and takes out a hoop. It's the hoop the carny used. She hands it over to Vince. "May I have my hoop please?"
The carny swears under his breath and hands Gretchen's one over. She compares both rings. Even through Gretchen stretched her hoop, it's still much tinier than the one the carny used. Gretchen steps inside the booth. She scientifically explains how the ring wouldn't fit on the bottle otherwise. It's just a hair wider than the neck of the target bottle, and the hard plastic just facilitates extra bouncing, making it virtually impossible to win from the player's position.
Vince laughs at how the carny is put in his place. The carny chucks all of his toys at Gretchen, and leaves his booth frustrated.
Gretchen picks up the toys and places them nicely, and precisely into the wheel barrel.
"How'd you know I'd make it fit on the bottle from that angle?" Vince asks.
"I trust your athletic ability," she replies, smirking.
They reach the basketball game booth this time. Gretchen pays to have a turn. She throws the basketballs perfectly through the hoop one after the other.
Gretchen stops in thought. "Heh," she says, pondering something.
"What?" Vince asks. "You've surprised even yourself this time?"
"No, I've only surprised myself when I discovered dark matter when I was 11," Gretchen replies, in a quick rush. "They haven't cheated this time. The hoops haven't been compromised. They're actually regulation size."
"You can tell?" Vince asks, looking at basketball hoops from behind the protective net. "Cool. I'll play you."
They start again. Vince pays for both their turns. They make perfect shots against each other. Swish after swish after swish.
"Getting buckets, Gretchen," Vince goes, throwing in balls with ease. "Buckets."
They both win.
They go on a bench nearby. Gretchen calls for others to come around. Her and Vince give away the toys to the passing teenagers for free.
Vince puts a hand on Gretchen's arm. "We make a killer team," he says.
"Yeah we do," Gretchen replies.
I always cherish these moments I have with Vince, Gretchen thinks. He's the only one in the gang like me to have extra-ordinary talents that we've yet to explore together.
Vince reaches for his phone in his pocket. He notices that he's got a Whaddown message from Ashley B, telling them to got together in the tunnel of love before it closes.
"My other half's calling me," Vince says, getting up from the bench. "I gotta go."
Vince leaves Gretchen on pursuit of Ashley B. She told him to meet her outside of the ride. He turns his quick walking into a light jog. In his peripheral, Mikey is gulping down on treats while Ashley T watches.
"Yes Mikey!" Vince shouts, jogging passed him and Ashley T. "Show that candy whose boss!"
Ashley T sighs looking at Mikey eat. "I'm glad someone thinks this is something worth cheering," Ashley T moans.
"What's that?" Mikey asks, with his mouth full.
"Nothing," she replies.
"Are you sure you don't want some?"
Ashley T smiles. "No," she replies. "You enjoy yourself."
She looks away to this side and does a poor job at disguising her dismay.
Am I doing something wrong? Mikey thinks. Ashley T has been so quiet, when we're supposed to be spending our precious time together.
Ashley T moves closer to Mikey. "You know I like you just as you are," she starts. Mikey stops eating. "No, no, I don't mean it like that."
"I've always been this way with food," Mikey says, leaving his snacks to sit. "Stuff happened last year and my appetite sort of, pretty much, dissipated into a hollow shell. But now I'm happy once more." Ashley nods slowly back at him. "You wanna go in the tunnel of love with me?"
"Nah, I think they're kinda corny to be honest."
"What? I thought you'd love that. Don't you like stuff like that, or my poetry anymore?"
"I do cause their made with time and care and stuff. The tunnel of love rides are just like, an excuse to hide your true affection in-front of everyone. If people can't deal with us expressing how we feel in public it's really their problem."
"Never thought of it like that," Mikey replies. He pauses and stares at Ashley T. "Are you sure you don't want some?" He picks up his sweets and she shakes her head. "I can get you something else?"
Ashley T says she wouldn't mind a lemon scented H2WHOA. Mikey goes to the fast food part of the theme park to get it for her by himself. He enters inside and goes by the counter. Troy is leaning on that counter by himself, contemplating and day dreaming.
"Troy?" Mikey asks.
"Mike-anotor," Troy replies, not looking back at him.
How long can I keep running away from my problems? Troy thinks. Getting girls can't cure everything.
"Are you okay?" Mikey continues, comforting Troy by the arm. "You seem—"
Troy walks away from Mikey before he could finish. Troy's been waiting for Menlo. He goes up to Menlo as he's getting something from the vending machine. The drink that Menlo wanted isn't coming out. Troy drop kicks the vending machine. Menlo's drink comes out.
Troy stares at Menlo with screwed eyes. "Hey dude, did you try to ask out my girlfriend, dude?"
Menlo stops from fetching up his drink. "Um—I, yeah—I didn't know you two were, you know, together, but yeah, I think I did," Menlo replies.
"You idiot!" Troy shouts at him. Menlo flinches. "You broke the first rule. What she say by the way? You know, from teacher to student."
Menlo stands in shock. He turns more relaxed and takes his drink from the machine.
"She said no," replies Menlo, "cause she said she's going out with you already."
I thought I was free from her, Troy thinks. I'm so close at securing the deal with Spinelli. She's just getting hotter everyday.
"Huh?" Menlo goes.
"The eight rules are supposed to be fool proof, aka boyfriend proof, that's all," Troy replies, in a clunker manner.
TJ, with his hands dug in his pockets, walks around by himself. It's not that he hasn't noticed all the girls at Gonzo World, it's that they keep noticing him. He's been feeling girl's wanting to grasp his attention. Out of all of his friends, he's changed the most. Mentally as well as physically. His body has gone through somewhat of a transformation since juvie. Opting to where just a T-shirt over wearing a green sweatshirt, more often. Vince has been encouraging TJ with the phrase, suns out guns out.
He moves up to Spinelli, whose by herself, checking her cellphone, like she always seems to do.
"Oh, hey Teej," Spinelli says, placing her cellphone in her woolly hat.
She's lucky Gretchen constantly reminded her to put her phone to the side whenever riding any roller coasters, TJ thinks. Her phone would have broken into a gazzilion pieces, from falling 100 feet in the air, otherwise.
Spinelli continues. "Just finished going rogue from you guys," she says. "Lapping it up in this joint the best way I can, cause everyone is just love crazy at the moment. You can't imagine how many guys think they can get off trying to ask me out by not asking me out."
"Ha, sucks for you," TJ replies, chuckling.
"Try growing a set," Spinelli replies, pointing at her chest, indicating her breasts. "And see what it's like, buddy boy."
TJ feels like he's been looking at Spinelli's breasts longer than he needed to after she said that. He walks as Spinelli follows along side him.
TJ turns to Spinelli as they walk. "You wanna hear something funny?" he asks.
"You know I do," Spinelli replies.
"So, I've been on just about every ride. The Eviscerator, Typhoon Waves, even Baby Boomin' Carousel. All except for the tunnel of love—"
"Oh please. The fruity sappy love ride that forces two people in one tiny-ass boat. It's only exciting if one of those people gets sea sick. That's the only way it'll be able to resemble anything remotely close to what the real roller coasters can do to ya."
"I know, I know," TJ replies, laughing with her. He runs out of steam and stops still. He stares at her. "Um."
TJ scruffs up his hair. Awkwardly staring at Spinelli.
There's nothing to it when asking a girl to hang out romantically, so why is this so hard all of a sudden? TJ thinks. Girls are just like us guys, right?
"Teej?" Spinelli asks.
"Should we—?" TJ starts.
"You know how I think of you."
"Actually, I don't," TJ replies, as they continue to walk and talk together again. "We never really speak on it."
"Everybody's just rushing to have boyfriends and girlfriends and forgetting to just—I dunno," Spinelli goes.
They look at each other for a second.
"Look, I'll do whatever you wanna do," TJ says.
"I'll do whatever you wanna do," Spinelli replies.
They look at each other yet again. Spinelli smiles and TJ mimics her with a silly face. Spinelli sighs and grabs TJ by the arm in an interlock like a couple would do. She leads TJ to the tunnel of love. The ride has romantic painted on designs from the outside. Hearts, flowers, and cupid with a bow and arrow.
The boat conductor stands there with conviction as if he's been waiting on them two to turn up. Unlike the scummy looking carnys that are in charge of the gaming booths, this old man-conductor seems cheery and full of life.
"Last boat of the day," the conductor says, with a thick french accent.
TJ and Spinelli make their way up the small ramp. A boat awaits for them on the water, with the conductor holding it still with his staff. TJ attempts to be chivalrous and lets Spinelli inside the boat first. She grunts and crosses her arms. TJ gives that up and goes in first with her following him. The conductor closes the boat's door behind him.
The charming conductor walks away. The tiny boat sets sail onward into the tunnel's big heart.
The tunnel is completely pitch black.
"You scared?" TJ asks.
Spinelli sighs. "Boring," Spinelli replies, with a yawn.
Lights turn on one by one by the sides. A rainbow of color. Slowly the lights increase. Little puppets pop around. Cuddly teddy bears to a little cupid baby shooting arrows above them, as the light sparkles into red hearts. Romantic music plays. They avoid each others eye contact. Only looking at each other in small intervals.
The ride is getting bumpy. The light disappears again. Only a few light bulbs linking in a row from the left and the right. The music stops. It's getting faster and faster. The boat is getting out of control. Water splashes inside of the boat. They hit drops and falls. Spinelli screams in fright. It's much rougher than any other ride in the theme park. Neither of them can tell how fast it's going. It seems much faster than the Eviscerator. Much wetter than Typhoon Waves.
What the hell is going on? TJ thinks. I gotta be brave for Spinelli.
The boat slows down. Music turns on once more. Spinelli is holding on to TJ. He didn't even notice. She realizes what she's doing and lets him go. They leave the boat, step out of the ride and back to the open.
They walk together.
TJ laughs to himself.
"I've never heard you scream before," TJ says, chuckling. "I can get used to that."
"Shut your face!" Spinelli shouts at him. "And take my hand."
TJ stares down at her hand. Spinelli wiggles her fingers. TJ takes it. They walk together in the night, as all the roller coasters shut down and come to a halt one after the other around them.
They exit sign above them reads, 'Thank you for visiting Gonzo World!'
The gang are at the beach. TJ and Spinelli are the last ones to join the others. Gus has parked up his car rental on the sand. He's turned sober after engulfing on so much sugar and treats. Molly finally has Gus all to herself.
How many ways can I say, I love you? Molly thinks. I like-like you, we should date, we have chemistry, I think you're the one, I wanna be your girl, you plus me equals awesome-o, you make my giney tickle.
"Gus!" Molly goes, hugging him tight. "I have something super cools I wanna say to you."
"Okay," Gus replies, as Molly lets him go. "I was gonna say something too."
I've been waiting all day for this, no, all week, Molly thinks. But I just wanna hear him speak. I gotta learn to put Gus first sometimes too.
"All right. Uh, you first."
"I met someone today, you know, at Gonzo World. I asked her out, I mean, I didn't but I did. Troy taught me how after I asked him to explain it to me. She goes to our school too so I don't have to hang around and annoy you all the time like I used to."
Molly's mind stopped working when Gus said those first four words. She stands before him with her eyes wide open. Frozen and static like a statue. She doesn't move. Her own need to blink frightens her.
"Molly, are you okay?" Gus asks, poking her with his finger.
Molly shakes her head. "That's...great," she replies. "That's so great for you."
She walks away, leaving Gus utterly confused.
The gang look up at the stars together knowing that school starts tomorrow. They are around a camp fire. Mikey and Molly discuss the constellations looking up at the stars. Troy and Gus lean on the car talking to each other about girls. Menlo is with Vince and TJ, trying to catch up with what he's missed since being sidelined as a hall way monitor. Spinelli is with Gretchen discussing how she hates how scared she got on the ride, as Gretchen explains how it's completely natural.
They all eat and drink what's left in Gus' trunk. Mikey and Gus have already consumed all of the candy that contained hallucinogens, so the gang only experience the high of too much sugar.
Gretchen looks over at everyone. "Aren't you lot concerned about having all this sugar without brushing your teeth thoroughly afterwards?" Gretchen asks.
Everybody in the gang laugh at her.
Vince turns to Gretchen. "Never change, Gretch!" he says.
Spinelli stands up in-front of them all. "Hey guys, I don't wanna kill the vibe or nothing," she starts, "trust me, I wanna deck myself for even bringing it up, but, how are we gonna get back home before school starts?"
They all never intended to stay in Gonzo World for this long. The plan was to get home by the late afternoon. But they're still by the beach in California and it's just reached past midnight, as it's now the day school starts. They all look at TJ.
"Well," TJ says, "my first rule as principal, is to make today sophomore skip day."
**[PLAY SONG "Matt Martians - Where are yo friends?"AT THIS POINT]**