This is the third sneak peak chapter of The Last Disruptor, a new novel by RD Varnon about a boy named Crate, who tells stories that might destroy or save two planets.
Crate got on the bus and sat down next to Brooke, who had saved a place for him. Brooke Miller was a small girl with chestnut-brown hair and a patch of freckles that played across her nose and cheeks. She always smelled like flowers to Crate, although she said it was her shampoo. She and Crate had been best friends since they met in kindergarten and, while she was a quiet person, she was often the only person who stuck up for Crate at school.
“What happened yesterday?” Brooke said as the bus rumbled down the street to the next stop.
“I got in trouble because of my stories,” Crate said.
Brooke crinkled her nose, like she always did when she didn’t like the sound of something.
Crate thought about this for a moment. “I’m not sure this time. A lady said she would be working with me.”
“What lady?” Brooke asked.
“She said her name is Ms. Read.”
“What is she going to work with you on?”
“I suppose not telling stories,” Crate said.
“That seems stupid. Your stories are good.”
“She says they’re not.”
“I don’t like this woman.”
“You haven’t met her.”
“If she’s going to stop you from telling stories, then she can’t be a good person.”
“Well, maybe she’s just doing her job,” Crate said.
“They better not take you out of class.”
“I think they are,” Crate replied.
“They’re going to take you out of class!” The voice of Ryan Addy broke in on them. “That’s hilarious.”
Brooke and Crate turned their heads to see Ryan leering over them with a huge grin. Ryan was the shortest kid in the class, but that didn’t stunt his aggressiveness.
“Why is it hilarious ?” Crate asked.
“Because it means the teachers finally see that there’s something really wrong with you. You’re crazy,” Ryan said.
“Don’t call him crazy,” Brooke said.
“Quiet, Spot,” Ryan snapped back. Spot is what he called Brooke because of her freckles.
“There’s no need to call people names,” Crate said. “You know what happens to people who call people names?”
“What, are you going to tell the principal on me when you have your daily discipline meeting?” Ryan laughed.
“No, that’s not what I meant,” Crate said.
Other kids were now listening intently to Crate and Ryan.
“I meant you could end up like Spider Lesser.”
“Spider Lesser? Never heard of him,” Ryan said.
“Exactly,” Crate said. “You see Spider was a kid about our age who always got teased about his name. He got so sick of people calling him ‘Eight Leg’ and asking if webs shot out of his butt that he decided he was going to make fun of everyone else. He promised himself he would hand out at least three insults a day. He even kept a little notebook in his pocket where he would write down the kid’s name he insulted, what insult he used and if the kid cried or not.
“Kids who didn’t cry would get a black dot next to their name so Spider could try and come up with a better insult. You see, he wanted to make everyone cry, because some of them had made him cry. Because deep down, Spider was afraid that he was a freak.
“Well, he worked and worked on his insults. He would pick out things that were different about people. Red haired people became Fire Heads. People with brown eyes were ‘Poop Eyes’ and lefties were called ‘Wrongways.’ But he soon figured out that those insults weren’t working so well. So he started to attack things that people were good at. And that created a lot of doubt in other kids’ minds and soon, people were afraid of Spider. His book was full of kids’ names who he made cry. All except one kid. A kid named Mortimer who was really good at science. So Spider started making fun of him, calling him ‘Lab Coat,’ ‘Test Tube’ and the ‘Failed Experiment.’”
The bus rumbled to a stop and picked up more kids.
“Well, this still didn’t seem to be working. You see, Mortimer was really good at science and he knew it. He didn’t need Spider’s, uh, validation, because Mortimer loved science. He loved that even when it didn’t work out the way you expected, he still learned something from science.
“Well, Spider got an idea about that. He decided to sabotage Mortimer. He replaced some of Mortimer’s chemicals before an experiment. And when the class came in to do their work, Spider asked to be Mortimer’s partner.
“Mortimer thought maybe Spider wanted to actually learn something so he agreed to have him as his partner. Mort was trusting that way, you know. When it came time to create the chemical reaction, Mortimer, feeling generous and confident, handed the sabotaged ingredient to Spider. Spider, of course, tried to give it back to Mortimer and the two began to argue over it. Finally the teacher came over and made Spider mix the chemicals.”
The bus was now pulling into the school.
“What happened? Brooke asked.
“Well, Spider mixed the chemicals together and it blew up!”
“Did he die?” another kid asked.
“No. The explosion just shrunk him down to the size of a bug. But people thought he had been disintegrated.”
“That didn’t happen,” Ryan said.
Crate ignored Ryan’s assertion. “The saddest part of all this…”
“Hey! You kids. Get moving, you don’t want to be late,” the bus driver called out.
All the kids around Crate were still seated listening to the story.
“Oh, we better go,” Crate said. And they filed off the bus.
On the sidewalk, some of the kids who had been listening to the story gathered around Crate.
“Well, what happened?” Brooke asked.
“What do you mean?” he asked. Crate had refocused his thoughts on Ms. Read and the mystery that held.
“To Spider, of course.”
“Oh, well, he found himself on the floor, naked and tiny. But he was all alone, because the room had been evacuated. Because he was so small, it took him hours to cross the room. By the time he got to the door, his parents had arrived with the police and they were looking all over for him. His mom was crying. His dad was crying. You see, they loved Spider. And he realized, as he stood on the floor that he loved them more than anything. That all he wanted to do was go home with them.
“So he started to yell, ‘I’m down here! I’m down here!’ But they couldn’t hear him, because his voice was now so small. So his parents left with the police.”
“Did Spider ever get home to his parents?” asked one of the kids who had stayed to hear the rest of the story.
“No. And poor Spider, because he was so tiny and his voice was so soft, he was never heard from again,” Crate said.
“Very funny,” Ryan said, who had also stuck around to hear the end of the story.
Crate smiled at this, but then he felt a hand on his shoulder.
He turned and looked up into the face of Ms. Read, who was not smiling.
“Hello, Branden. I guess we need to get started right away.”