New Middle Grade Story (Hexagon 1NE Chapter 3)

Plot: Flying hover cycles. Fiery mecha bots. BFs. After earth ends and re-population begins, two cKlone tweens get trapped outside of their safety pod hexagon by a fertility doctor who is out to snatch their souls.

Photo Credit Source: Bettye-Winters

CHAPTER 03––HOVER

Flash stood streetside, holding his thumb up in the air. His recycled, cybershirt fit skin tight.

“What are you doing?” Arik asked of Flash’s odd choice of sign language.

Flash grinned. “I read it in the archives once. When people were in need of transportation, they threw a thumb high in the air like this and said the word, ‘Taxi!’”

Arik glanced at Flash, confused with his head titled at a fifteen-degree angle. “Wait … you read?”

“Har-har.” Flash smirked.

Arik had a better idea than using hand signals. He retrieved his smart-pod communicator from his back pocket, a worn PrestoX unit with a smiling emoji sticker. The sticker held the worn device together like tape.

Arik tapped the screen and a hologram hovercraft appeared. It suspended in air just above the PrestoX. Curious, Arik swiped his fingers left to right as the hovercraft changed into a five-wheeled clunker. Definitely not his style. He toggled graphic arrows that rotated from four-wheel vehicles to a three-wheel craft. He stopped on a sleek hover cycle.

“Watcha think?” Arik asked of Flash.

Flash agreed, impressed. “ABSOLUTELY!”

Arik double-tapped the hologram and in less than six seconds, two glossy hover cycles appeared. Dust wafted from the street as they lowered to ground level. Lights from the engine powered the two vehicles on.

A hologram safety operator appeared on a transparent screen. Her hair was tucked under a helmet that displayed an official hexagonal badge.

“Good afternoon, rider. Please scan your identification,” said the hologram operator.

A red light beamed from her eye.

Arik waved his wristband in front of the red light. The operator’s eye changed from red to green.

“Access granted. Arik, your excellent, gold safety record has earned you an extra reward. Would you like the upgrade applied?”

Arik looked to Flash’s eager eyes. Even though Arik wished he could use it for his sisters in some way, he nodded in agreement. “Yes. Let’s do it.”

Hover cycle one’s solar engine powered on. Ready, Arik climbed aboard as the dashboard reflected in his eyes. Each feature and benefit appeared as if being typed.

Hover Cycle Features:

  • Aerodynamic … smooth velocity
  • Heated seat and foot rails … comfort
  • Gyrosphere … safety shield 100% crash protection
  • Automatic … input coordinates and relax
  • DJ-Max … unlimited soothing surround music

Flash stared in awe as a tune began to play. A simulated water-thin shield enclosed Arik. It surrounded him on the hover cycle.

The music was air tight, too.

“Rider …” The safety operator turned to the other cKlone. “Please scan your identification.”

Biting his lip in hesitation, Flash waved his band.

The red scanner swiveled in a circular wheel pattern. Waiting. Waiting. More waiting.

Arik revved his hover cycle.

Flash shrugged, wondering about the hold up.

“Access granted.”

Flash breathed relief.

“Nelson, your safety record has earned you the following features …”

Hover cycle two’s engine lit up. Only this version transformed from a sleek, white cylindrical cycle into a dented, cycle clunker. Bulky and clearly in need of washing. The digital dashboard displayed …

Hover Cycle Features:

  • Manual drive only
  • Safety warning … do not fly with your mouth open

“Please cycle safely,” the hologram officer said.

“Har, har,” Flash replied. “You’re soooo funny.”

“Thank you,” the officer continued. “Would you like to hear a joke?”

Before Flash could answer––

“How do you identify a bad cyclist?”

Again, before Flash could answer––

“Look in the mirror.”

“Ugggg,” Flash moaned. But he couldn’t help but glance at himself in the mirror anyway. “End signal, please!”

“Certainly, HAVE A SUPER DAY,” said the hologram officer with a smile and disappeared, ending the transmission.

Upon boarding his clunker, a simulated helmet appeared on Flash’s head. He powered on the engine light.

POP.

The cycle quickly flickered off.

A wave of burning metal filled his nose. Flash tried again.

Pop-pop, pop-pop.

The cycle lifted off the ground, sideways.

“Whoa-whoa!”

Slowly, Flash leaned on the handles. He shifted his weight to counter-balance the cycle until it leveled.

A voice came over the speaker. “I dropped a pin where we’re going,” said Arik from inside his cycle. “We can take it at your speed.”

“Oh, everyone’s a comedian today.” Flash pointed Arik two fingers, the two index fingers on his six-fingered right hand. He leaned forward on his ride. “Do try to keep up.”

Rev. Rev. Vrooom.

And away Flash jetted on the hover cycle. A fiery backfire emitted from its rear power source.


 >>Leave a Comment to read the next chapter 04

New Middle Grade Story (Hexagon 1NE Chapter 2)

Plot: Flying hover cycles. Fiery mecha bots. BFs. After earth ends and re-population begins, two cKlone tweens get trapped outside of their safety pod hexagon by a fertility doctor who is out to snatch their souls.

Photo Credit Source: Bettye-Winters

CHAPTER 02––PROOF

“Proof?” Arik took a breath and held it. He checked his heart rate on his sleek wristband. The beat lowered as he inhaled. “That’s all we need, right? … Proof?”

“What are you so nervy about?” Flash fancied these recon assignments. Not every kid showed of gifted promise. Many were called to tend the Hexagon fields. Some were called to service the androids that ran the machines. Others were lucky to be tested at all. But the worst thing that could happen on a Ready Assessment Trial––banishment.

“C’mon, we do this … then we can practically pick our future. Botanist. Techie. Explorer. Or a cushion job … like for you. Ha-ha. Just remember, whatever happens …” Flash pointed to a red arrow on his shirt and mouthed the printed words: “B POSITIVE.”

Being an only child, Flash was left on his own often to abide by the rules.

Or NOT.

Flash circled Arik on his hoverboard, stalking him.

“Me, nervous.” Arik checked his heart meter again. “No … I’m not nervous … not at all … nope.” Arik removed his cap and sucked in deep wind.

Now Flash Nelson, his hair was no longer than a #1 setting on a pair of dog clippers. He trimmed it himself, even though his two moms were happy to oblige. His moms spent their days working on a farm. One was a researcher, the other a techy. Repairing androids was preferred work. And the kid bowl cut was also the preferred mom specialty at home. So naturally, Flash took matters into his own six-fingered hands.

“Proof? Got it.” Flash jumped in the air––a complete back flip––and landed square on his board. Perfect. “A deal’s a deal-yo.”

Throughout their nook of Hexagon 1NE, Flash also had a reputation for his inquisitive, daring nature. One drab moonlit night, he leaped off his roof attempting to fly. Thankfully for his sake, it was only a single-storied home. And because it wasn’t a waste disposal night, the collapsible cans were directly under the porch to break his impact.

Lucky was right.

In the end, Flash claimed to officials that he was only sleep walking––some called it “sleep flying”––but wearing a superhero shirt and a red cape, too?

C’mon.

A blinding advertisement flashed on the side of a curvy building:

Hexagon 1NE … the pod to survive the dust-over.

The ad message rotated:

Hexagon 1NE … your pod to survive the next.

A few androids scaled the outside of skytowers. Horizontally and vertically. They worked to keep them shiny. Some were half bodied androids with tractor wheels. Others were full android robots with two legs.

What’s the difference between an android and people? The hair. Androids weren’t designed to grow any, not even eyebrows. Most were bald. While others like household androids, their heads and faces were painted to resemble real hair.

All androids were programmed to smile.

All androids were programmed to serve

Flash powered his hoverboard forward.

Roads were perfectly paved and curbs were cobble stoned and leveled according to the latest regulations for the disabled. One could charge a hover cycle at the drive-thru window of a five-star restaurant. Even crosswalks were equipped with artificial intelligence to aid the impaired. Sensors could scan a walker’s vital signs and adjust crossing times for the pokey.

Or in Arik’s case, the nervous, increased-heart-racing kind.

As they approached the intersection, a streetlight flashed a red hand. A voice-activated computer spoke, “YOU MAY CROSS SAFELY IN TWENTY SECONDS.” It counted backwards, “20 … 19 … 18 …”

Flash pulled something out of his front pocket, which unfolded on touch. He placed a clear, thin mask over his eyes.

“Wait, you’re gonna VR now?”

“Sure, why not,” Flash replied. “Virtual Reality is more real. Real skies. Real outdoors. How cool it must’ve been … I’m riding an old western horse right now. I’m in the wild.” He stroked his hands in the air as if petting something.

“Shhh, that’s crazy talk.”

A service android at a nearby retail kiosk stocked shelves. Its upper body resembled a human cKlone, but down below, it zipped about like a toy crane on wheels.

“The real outdoors … that’ll be me someday. Not stuck here in a bubble.” Flash dipped his VR mask.

Two adults walked right past them, their faces glued to holo-devices. A pop-up cushion automatically re-directed one of the adults before crashing into the kiosk.

“See, Arik.” Flash made his point. “We’re all becoming walking machines. Don’t you ever wonder about it?”

“Outdoor fairytales? … That’s kid stuff. ” Arik thought the idea was ridiculous. Inside of Hexagon 1NE it was safe. It was all they’ve ever known.
“5 … 4 … 3 …” the streetlight voice finished counting down and flashed green. “Beep! You may safely cross.”

Flash folded his VR mask and shoved it in a zip pocket. As he powered his hoverboard into the cross walk, an alarming tone sounded.

“STOP! Violation ALERT!” The voice spoke firmly, “Please dismount your device and proceed safely to your destination. Smile for the camera. Thank you.”

KER-SNAP!

A flashing light flickered from above. A camera snapped a violation picture of Flash using the board in a crosswalk zone.

“Ugggg,” Flash moaned. Clearly, this wasn’t the first time he had violated traffic procedures. “Bum, that’ll cost a sugar serving or two, all right.”

Sugar. The body needs it to survive. During digestion, all food carbohydrates break down into simple sugars to form energy. But after decades of dependency on artificial fructose, the human body’s metabolism shut down.

And humans (yes, even the genetically engineered cKlone kind) need natural sugar to survive.

It’s what the NOW coveted.

And Arik and Flash were on assignment––a recon exercise to locate sugar. In other words, they were spying.

Flash stepped off his board and summoned it to his hands. It responded in a SNAP. He pressed a button and the hoverboard folded itself several times until it fit in the palm of his hand. Then, he shoved it into the same zip pocket.

“Even with us going out on watches, we’re the ones being watched,” Flash moaned about his violation. “Let’s go. We’re on camera. Say CHEESE.” He adjusted his pants, properly, and tucked in his cyber shirt. “Good thing them cameras can’t hear, too.”

The streetlights turned green, perfectly in sync. Their greenness faded into a haze of gray down the skyscraper avenue. A hallmark of similarity.

The only oddity in Hexagon 1NE was a stone house at the tip-top sector of the metro. It stood out amongst glassy towers and cylindrical buildings like a snowman in the desert. The house––built of flint and cobble and slate––was the most crooked of houses. In some places, the roof slanted a perfect 90°, or for you non-mathematical people, that’s perpendicular to the ground.

No one ever dared journey to the northern point of the Hexagon 1NE.

No one wanted to know what lurked behind the dense, black ivy and wrought iron gates that surrounded the non-geometrical house.

No one, that was, except for the cKlone boys, Arik and Flash

>>Stay Tuned for the next chapter 03

New Middle Grade story (HEXAGON 1NE) … to pass this ‘stay home’ time

As we all continue to do our part during this pandemic to ‘stay home,’ here’s some recent Middle Grade chapters I’m working on to help pass the time. I’ll post as they come to me.

Title: HEXAGON 1NE

Plot: Flying hover cycles. Fiery mecha bots. BFs. After earth ends and re-population begins, two cKlone tweens get trapped outside of their safety pod hexagon by a fertility doctor who is out to snatch their souls.

Photo Credit Source: Bettye-Winters

Chapter 01––OPEN

Hexagon 1NE. In the sometime future, after Earth ends and re-population begins … the pods that survive become known as Hexagons.

“C’mon,” said Arik to himself, the older cKlone boy by a few minutes. He checked the time on his wristband while waiting at an empty street corner.

The simulated sun reflected light through curvy, glass towers. Despite many digital signs and flashing retail “OPEN” signs, the streets were crowd thin.

Arik’s worries were interrupted by an approaching noise.

“Gotcha!” Flash Nelson, another cKlone, snuck up from behind on a levitating hoverboard. His ocean brown eyes were wide. “Did you bring the stuff, brother?”

“Dude, where you been?” Arik nudged his glasses, irritated. “I gotta give the sisters their sugar pills by five. You know that … brother.”

Friendly banter was the norm. But the boys Arik and Flash were not related at all. True, these cKlones shared the same creation date. They lived on the same street. And they even shared the same nursery in the same medical facility.

However, they were simply neighbors (like right next-door neighbors) and pals for the last twelve years. That’s what made them an ideal match for the Neighborly Orderly Watch (the NOW).

“It’s our final exam.” Arik noticed his heart rate was increasing. He tightened his grip on his shouldered tote pack. Loose items clanked inside.

“The Ready Assessment Trials tests our mental aptitude versus physical aptitude.”

Flash stared blank. “In English?”

“They assess our thinking.”

Flash shrugged it off, not worried at all.

Arik stood much shorter than Flash. In fact, for cKlones, they looked nothing alike. Longed haired Arik, buzzed hair Flash. Light skin Arik, not so light skin Flash. And although his CGP (Child Growth Percentile) was less than average, Arik’s unrivalled grades in math and science led him to believe that smarts could always beat brawn in any contest––except for maybe arm wrestling or spitting.

“Relax. This won’t take long. But really, check this out.” Flash spit straight toward the simulated sky while balancing himself on his hoverboard. With his eyes closed he waited for it. At the last second, he juked his board aside so the loogie missed. “Tah-dah! I don’t even have E-S-P either.”

“Impressive, Flash.” Arik adjusted the cap on his dark wavy hair. He squinted, checking his wristband. “It’s time.”

“You see, it’s all in how you pucker your lips. That’s the secret.” Flash shot a big toothy grin. Instead of the usual way a smile glides upward, his teeth appeared all at once … POW! That’s why everyone called him Flash.

“Repeat after me …” Flash motioned with his six-fingered hand, a flaw in his cKlone design. He continued in a soothing voice, “This … won’t … take … long. Okay? So relax your breath, will ya’? You got everything?”

Arik nodded correct. As he tinkered with his pack, things clinked inside.
He reviewed his list:

✔ 2 masks
✔ 2 pair of gloves
✔ 1 rope
✔ 1 duct tape
✔ 1 smart-pod
✔ 2 stainless steel canisters
✔ 1 multi-use lubricant
✔ 1 utility knife
✔ A mega-sized bag of chips

“Really?” Flash raised a curious eyebrow. “It’s our final, the Ready Assessment Trials, and you brought chips?”

“What …” Arik crunched the bag in his pack. “I eat when I’m nervous.”

Arik thought about their last Neighborly Orderly Watch assignment. That one turned out to be a mad dash sprint from two bloodhounds. But the swiped medical sugar they could’ve earned outweighed the risks. Sometimes Arik tagged along for money, while others, only his sisters’ health situation mattered. They needed sugar. And big brother Arik was to provide for his siblings. That was his role while his mother worked double at the farm.

The twins’ health meters were all that mattered.

Sugar was what his sisters needed.

Sugar, that’s why the NOW sent Arik and Flash on a watch.

———————————————————————————–

>>Stay Tuned for the next chapter 02