Code Name Pizza Box
Written by Rosy, Parker, Amie, Liberty, Rosalyn, Elle, Clay, Kyra and Pearl
Maybe I shouldn’t have ever tried coming home this way, Nick thought, peering around another alleyway. He prodded on, unaware of the real danger he was in. As his eyes took in the dark, foreboding neighborhood, he wished he was back on his normal route towards home. At the beginning it had just seemed like another adventure to him, but now it was nearing sunset, and, even though he wouldn’t admit it to himself, he was lost.
Suddenly, an earsplitting scream pierced the air. Nick whipped around, but was not prepared for what he saw.
Instead of a person as he had expected, a large metal robot stood behind him, its huge metal claws lunging for him. Lunging for his throat.
Not knowing exactly what to do, Nick dropped to the ground, and the robot flew over him. He jumped to his feet and started running the other direction. Why would a robot be after him? Who had sent it?
A horrendous metallic sound from not far behind made Nick turn around in a hurry. To his surprise and initial relief, the robot lay on the ground in three pieces, smoke rising from the wreckage. The cruel claw lay a few feet away by itself, where it had been hurled in the unexpected crash. But all Nick could notice was the small, green slip of paper now exposed by the cracked open machine.
Slowly, Nick walked over, grasped the paper and pulled it close so he could see the small, messy handwriting written on it.
“Come and save me! Please! I’m in trouble.”
There was no name at the end. He was confused. Who needed rescued? Why would the note be in a … robot? And he still didn’t know where that robot came from.
Before he could do anything else, a scrawny guy came around the corner. He wore a huge grin on his face and before Nick could react, the stranger had bear-hugged him.
It took a while for Nick to process who this scrawny man in question was, but when the reality hit him, it hit him hard. This wiry, short man was his brother, who was six years older than Nick, at age 26. It had been a long time since Nick, and Dave, his brother, had seen each other, mostly because of their rocky childhood and the different paths the two had taken.
David, a small boy with a genius brain, had always been ostracized and eventually abused in their family of four. It wasn’t long before he had moved on to university when Nick, a tall, popular football player, was twelve. These eight years of separation had really taken their toll, and the brothers’ reunion was slightly awkward, but mostly wonderful.
But it didn’t take too long for this reunion to grind to a halt, when another ear-splitting scream rang out in the alley.
“Help, save me!” the young girl yelled before a robot that was holding her put its ugly claw up to her mouth.
Dave could sense that the past would have to be temporarily forgotten in light of this larger problem. The brothers shared a wordless glance–they knew they had to save this girl.
The two young men sprinted toward this metallic beast, and Nick utilized the best of his football techniques to tackle the robot and grab the girl. David rushed in and disarmed the robot, while Nick held it down, and the girl hid.
Now it was up to the three of them to find the robot’s operator, the girl’s home, and the police.
“Where do you live?” Nick asked, taking charge without a moment’s hesitation.
The girl’s green eyes bulged in fear and she made a coughing noise as she pointed to her mouth and shook her head vigorously.
“What is it?” Dave asked, tapping his boot on the ground. He’d never had patience for small children, as Nick well remembered. “Robot got your tongue?”
The girl nodded emphatically, pointed and shook her head even more vigorously, topping the act off with a strangled, choking noise as if prevented from speaking.
Why couldn’t she speak? Nick didn’t like the sick feeling he was getting in his stomach.
“Can you speak?” He watched her closely, studying the way she kept choking, as if she was trying to talk.
“Wait,” Dave touched Nick’s arm. “I think she’s dumb.”
“Seriously, that’s not very nice to- oh!” Nick looked at the girl, sympathy rising quickly as tears started sliding down her cheeks. “Hey. Hey, don’t go crying like that. Everything’s going to be alright,” He bent down next to her and patted her shoulder. “Let’s get you out of here, okay?”
But something told him things weren’t going to be okay. At least, not until things got sorted out.
As they started on the way to the police station to get help, Dave and his brother talked over why they thought that the girl couldn’t talk. At each try, she shook her head “no”. As they tried to think of something, anything, she began to frantically gesture, trying to communicate something to them.
In desperation, the girl tore Nick’s phone out of it’s holster and pointed urgently at him to unlock it.
She pressed the Notes app and hastily began typing.
They made an interesting sight standing on the cracked sidewalk, not far from the forbidding alley in which so much had just happened.
The two bewildered men, slightly on edge, anxiously hovered over the small girl with blond pig tails that were streaked with dirt and bits of debris. She was frantically moved her thumbs over Nick’s iPhone as if her life depended on it. The girl couldn’t type fast enough for the worried brothers.
Nick had a knot growing in his stomach as he watched the message take shape, but when he read the entire thing and finally began to understand, a cold shudder passed over him as he grimaced at his brother.
“The robots were just a ploy,” she typed. “They were intended to divert attention from the real problem, the big crime.”
As the girl had discovered, completely on accident, there was a mastermind at this very moment plotting, perhaps even implementing, a mass destruction of all written knowledge in the city. His specific target was Bibles and anything containing reference to Jesus.
“Well, we certainly aren’t going to let him do that!” Dave folded his arms tightly over his chest and glared at the ground.
“But how can we-” he motioned at the three of them “-do anything? We could get the police, but more than likely they’d want to do their thing on their own. They wouldn’t want us tagging along to ‘help’.”
A moment later, they heard gun shot and shouts. Curiosity getting the best of him, Dave rushed forward, going to investigate.
“No!” Nick tackled him to the ground. He pushed his brother’s shoulder firmly to the ground while Dave wiggled under his weight. “You can’t just go check things out, you could be killed!
The girl pulled the phone back out, gestured at it, and after having it unlocked again, wrote that # 1 Nick was right. The man didn’t care about who he hurt in the distraction, and # 2, she had already been to the police. They didn’t care one bit about the book scheme, they just wanted to get rid of the robots.The distraction was working.
She stopped, seemed to think for a moment, then typed that she had only after the attack not been able to speak. She pointed to her mouth and indicated that she thought that some type of restrictive device had been put there. She thought again and then said that the robot had been waiting outside the police station, and had followed her, and that it seem that the police had been ignoring it. Could they be in on the crime, or were the robots invisible to them?
David reached into his pocket to get the keychain flashlight that he always kept there, in hopes of finding what was preventing her from speaking. As he did, he felt a piece of paper. In a flash, he remembered. Someone was in trouble. He pulled it out and handed it to Nick.
Nick turned to him and said, “Things are just too dangerous. We just can’t do anything about any of this.”
“Are you saying that we will leave the police to save the city, even though it seems like the problems are invisible to them?” David replied.
“That’s right, a few books, even a few people aren’t worth getting killed over. The Bible says that every life was worth it to Jesus to die for. Life is precious. But how about a compromise, let’s go back to the house and we’ll bring out some technology of our own!”
When they arrived back at the house, Nick instantly felt something was amiss. Not wanting to frighten the young girl anymore than she already was, he left David to escort her to the kitchen and he poked his head in the living room.
He didn’t know what he was expecting, but it wasn’t this.
Trying unsuccessfully to keep from sounding frantic or worried, he called for David. Because David was already nervous, he spun around, arms flailing. One made solid contact with the girl’s back. A small electric device came flying out of her mouth and clattered to the floor. Catching her before she fell to the hard tile, he sat down on the kitchen chair that was nearest him and pulled the girl onto his lap, asking if he had knocked the breath out of her. She weakly answered “yes” out loud!
Nick quickly went to the sink to get her a drink, while David tried to talk to her. After Nick gave the water to the girl, he picked up the device to investigate it. But as he was investigating it, a rock with a note attached came flying through the window! David quickly set the girl down on a chair, and ran to pick up the rock. Then, all of the sudden, he gasped!
“Nick, come here, you have to see this!” He exclaimed breathlessly. Nick came running, sat down next to the girl and impatiently exclaimed, “Well, what does it say?”
David read the note out loud, it said…
“94723” followed by a long string of squiggles.
“Code…” Nick breathed, reaching for it. He smoothed the grimy strip of paper, a can label, obviously hastily torn for the message.
“Can you make any sense of it?”
For several long seconds, there was no reply, then Nick looked up. The worry etched in his eyes slowly lit with hope.
“94723!” He exclaimed with delight. “Those are the first 5 numbers of the address for the library! That must be where they plan to attack next!”
“If that’s true” said David, “ Then we need to get there fast! But how? The library is like, four miles away!
“We can’t go there, it wouldn’t be safe. We have seen that this man is ruthless. For all we know, this message is a trap. We can’t get into a dangerous position, or nobody will save the books. Now, do you know what this is?” David asked.
“Why of course, it’s a remote control quadcopter. How is that going to help?” Nick replied.
“Well, this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill drone. I have installed a fully rotational arm and live video feed. I will fly it in there through an upper window and lock the door from inside. That will give us time to get some of the slower equipment there. This is going to be a tough flight, and I haven’t even tested the arm yet.”
“Let’s do it!” Nick said.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city, a evil looking young man was sitting in a private office at the top story of a skyscraper. Three of the four walls were completely covered with computer monitors, and with graphs and charts giving him the information on how his programs were running. He sat back in his chair and spun around and around, taking in the view before he rolled the chair over to a desk and started typing.
“Let’s see here, everything is going fine, except for those two pesky flies, so to speak, that keep destroying my robots. I only have 5 left! And the library is locked. What will I do? Wait, do I catch a small hint of a remote control signal? Computer, enable spectrum analysis!”
A new graph filed on of the few previously vacant screens.
“Looks like my “flies” are flying some equipment. Well computer, override signal.
“Ah, just what we wanted!” David said.
“You wanted to crash your drone ?” Nick replied.
“No, but our book-destroyer has given us his address. Computer! Active geometrical radio signal trace.”
The mission had started: mission save the books: code name Pizza Box. Well, that might have been a temporary code name. The plan? Stop the bad guys. But other than that, they had no idea.
David took out a small device from the drawer, about the same size as a drinking glass. “We need to get this into his building, as close to his floor as possible.” He said.
“What is it?” Nick asked.
“It is sort of an electronic bomb. It won’t explode, rather it will destroy all electronic equipment within about a thousand foot radius. It removes all programming from them, rendering them useless.”
“Wow, that must be complicated to make.”
“Actually, it is the simplest thing in this room. Now, what we need to do is get it in there. I can’t use any remote controlled things because he would pick up on the signal I will go in myself. Once I have it detonated, you get the then-to-be undistracted policemen in to arrest him.”
“David, why are you willing to put your life in danger? You have been warning me about how dangerous this is for a long time, and yet you are intentionally putting yourself in harms way? Why?”
“Jesus died for me, so I am not afraid of death. I know that he died for all people, why should I not die to save so many lives? Besides, I believe that God will protect me.”
“Well then,” replied Nick. “Let’s go!”
Half an hour later they were at the bottom of the skyscraper. They rushed inside, and found themselves in a very large room, where they soon located the elevator.
David looked at Nick, “Here’s the plan. I’ll go upstairs to place the device, and you stay down here in case anything happens.”
“Sounds good,” Nick replied.
“Oh, and if I’m not back in 5 minutes, get the police!” David added.
Nick gave David a nervous thumbs up, and David strode into the elevator, pushed #12 and was soon just one floor under the young man’s office.
“So, all I have to do is set the device anywhere on this floor, and it should disable his equipment,” David said quietly to himself.
“Aha!” He thought, “That’s perfect!” He put it behind a fake tree, and was heading back towards the elevator, when all of a sudden he heard someone shout, “No!”. The man had found out what he had done sooner then planned, and now he needed to get out… fast!
He ran towards the elevator, got in, pushed #1, and waited. But nothing happened! It was stuck!
He pushed the button again. Nothing. The man came closer and closer, and he mad mad. Really mad. David tried desperately to make the elevator work, but to no avail. The evil man ran into the elevator, pulled out a gun, and-
“Beep, Beep, Beep”
12 year old Nick moved and turned over in bed, and for a second, wondered where he was. It finally dawned on him. Had all this been a dream? It had seemed so real!
As he got up and got ready for the day, he knew one thing. He was going home from school through his normal route today!