I think this will be a great way for you to sample my writing style without having to download the samples through Amazon. This chapter is about Seckry training for his first annual Friction Mega Meltdown (a really big thing in Skyfall City!)
Can’t seem to get indents to work here, but you’ll get the idea.
Hope you enjoy
Chapter Fifteen – Kolda Kod
“Training time,” said Loca Thumbsuckle, pacing the Friction common room a week later with a determined expression. “The meltdown’s just three weeks away and we’ve all got to be on top form. Right Tippian?”
Tippian looked angry. “It ain’t my fault Cookrook gave me extra homework again. He hates me.”
“I don’t care how much homework you got, I want to see you training. We’re not losing again. I’ve had enough of losing to Mobbins and the Northern Nightmare gang. If I see his smug face holding that trophy again this year I’m gonna . . .” She clenched her teeth and cracked her knuckles. “Now we need to talk strategies. The reason we’ve lost for three years running is that we’ve got no structure. Everyone’s doing their own thing and trying to compete for attention when what we need to be doing is giving everyone roles.”
Tenk shook his head. “The reason we lost last year is ‘cos those blummin overseers stuck us in a cave.”
“Well if we’d equipped one of us with a torch beforehand we’d have been fine.”
Lessana sighed and chuckled. “Amateurs.”
Loca narrowed her eyes.
“You’re not better than us Lessana. Just because you found your way out doesn’t make you a better player. A truly good player would have helped the rest of us out.”
“Why bother?” said Lessana. “You’d all just have got trapped in the marshes anyway.”
Lessana continued to be a nuisance to everyone during their following training sessions, and Seckry was getting particularly annoyed with her smugness after the cheap trick she had played on him.
They began training three times a week after school had finished, and before Seckry had even come around to accepting it, the Mega Meltdown was upon them.
Just three days before the event, during the midst of a heavy practise session, something strange happened.
They were all running through a section of the Atoria Valley and reloading their weapons when Loca stopped.
“Something’s different,” she said. “Something’s wrong.”
Everyone came to a halt and looked around.
“What’s the matter?” Tenk gasped. “Come on, we’ve only got two days left of training. Let’s go, let’s go!”
“Tenk, she’s right,” Tippian said. “Something’s been changed. The mesh.”
Suddenly Basher’s big, furry body started jiggling.
“Tenk, what are you doing? This isn’t the time for dancing!” shouted Loca.
Basher began wiggling his large, furry behind in Loca’s face.
“It’s not me! I’m not controlling Basher anymore! Something’s seriously wrong!”
“It looks like I’m picking my nose,” said Tippian, whose avatar was thrusting a huge finger into his metal nostril.
In the sky appeared some bright green writing.
Having fun, losers? Get ready to be slaughtered on Saturday. The Northern Nightmare is coming your way.
There was a flash of light and the writing disappeared. Tenk and Tippian regained control of their avatars.
“Those cheating scum!” Loca yelled. “How did they manage to hack our game?”
“When I see Mobbins I swear I’m gonna pound his face in.”
Basher picked up a rock and threw it at the sky. “You hear that, Mobbins? I’m gonna smack you in the face!”
“Guys, I don’t get it . . . ” Tippian said. “How could they have hacked our game? The only way they could have done it is by knowing our combination key for the security lock.”
“Unless . . .” Loca said suspiciously. “Unless the lock was left open . . .”
“Who would open the security lock?” Tippian said. “We’d only do that if one of us wanted to hack the game ourselves . . .” Tippian trailed off and everyone slowly turned their heads towards Lessana.
Lessana gulped and looked around defensively.
“What? Don’t blame this on me! I forgot to turn the security lock back on when I pranked Seckry, so what?”
“You know what, Lessana?” said Tenk, coldly. “It’ll be a miracle if I don’t turn my gun on you in the Friction Meltdown and put a bullet right through that fat furry head of yours.”
On the day of the Meltdown, Seckry felt sick. Even though they had been training five days a week, he still felt nervous about playing in front of a huge audience. Tenk and the others had complete confidence in him (aside from Lessana) but Seckry wasn’t so sure he was going to cope under the pressure. It was true, he had picked up Friction very quickly, and he loved the game, but was he really ready to compete in the Meltdown?
At six o’clock that evening, about an hour after the sun had set, Seckry, Eiya, his mum and his sister all took a taxi to the Skyfall Stadium, which was located in the West Partition, and each of their mouths dropped open when they got out.
The stadium was a gigantic, open top structure, lit by hundreds of coloured floodlights, and draped with all manner of Friction related banners.
There were helium balloons of puffy, cute avatars floating around everywhere, jugglers and fire eaters, and the most spectacular array of fireworks Seckry had ever seen.
The air was crisp and cold now as winter was nearing, but was being warmed by the glowing heat of burger vans and toffee apple stands. Seckry licked his lips as the rich smells of frying onions and candyfloss wafted past him.
The place was roaring with the excited bustle of people, and crowds of all ages were still pouring into the surrounding plaza.
“Mum, look, there’s the Western Warriors captain!” yelled one child.
“I’m gonna be the best Friction player in the world when I grow up!” shouted another.
“Hotdogs!” screamed a third.
All players had to be ready to play and within the gaming area by seven, so that they had time to get everyone else seated and time to have a prep talk. After Coralle had bought a few official Friction hats, and Leena had spent enough time refusing to wear one, they queued up and entered the stadium itself.
Thousands of seats lined the inner walls and were all focused on the centre of the stadium, where there was a large ring of pods. Above the seating were four enormous screens, one above each corner, which would display footage of the game in action.
“Seckry! Eiya!” came a high pitched call. It was Loca, waving at them from a distance. She made her way through the crowd, dragging her parents along behind her.
“This is my mum and dad,” she said, panting.
Seckry and Eiya both waved and Loca’s parents acknowledged them shyly.
“Have you seen Kimmy?” Loca asked, searching around her.
“Not yet,” Seckry said. “This place is packed!”
“I hope he’s not being sick in the bathroom like last time,” Loca said worriedly. “I thought he wasn’t even gonna make it into his pod.”
At that moment Mr Binko wandered past them with a huge hotdog in his hands, overflowing with onions and mustard.
“The Mega Meltdown Meatwurst!” he shouted at them. “This is what Friction’s all about, eh?” He took a huge chomp and disappeared into the crowd happily.
Seckry was about to yell after him to ask him if Tenk was here, but before he had a chance, Tenk stumbled through a group of giggly girls and put his hand on Seckry’s shoulder, panting. He was followed by his mum, who was chewing on an oversized twirl shaped marshmallow.
“Hey guys,” Tenk said breathlessly. “Just been doing a bit of strength and conditioning before the game over in the locker rooms. You nearly ready?”
“Ready as ever,” Seckry said, with growing nervousness.
“Look! There’s Mobbins!” Tenk suddenly said with venom. He pointed to a tall, shirtless, muscular boy doing press-ups close to the pods. A circle of people had formed around him and girls were whistling at his torso.
Mrs Binko gave him a wolf whistle too.
“Mum!” Tenk shouted. “What are you doing? He’s, like, our sworn enemy!”
“He’s really cute!” she said defensively.
Tenk’s faced screwed up into an uncomfortable grimace.
“He looks like a machine,” Seckry said, wondering how he’d ever be able to compete against someone like that.
“Yeah, the guy’s a freak. All he does is train. I’ve heard rumours that he actually goes up this mountain called Big Boar three months before a Friction match and trains in the high altitude so that his lungs are almost indestructible.”
“That’s crazy!” said Seckry. “What about his school? Don’t they class that as truancy?”
“Are you kidding? I bet they fund him to go up there. Friction’s big money, man. Mobbins is their school’s hero.”
Mobbins jumped to his feet and started flexing his biceps for the crowd, who squealed in delight.
“I’d love it if someone took him out in the first minute.” Tenk said viciously. “I swear to Gedin I’ll do it one day.”
“Tenk!” Loca exclaimed. “We gotta stick to the plan, remember? Don’t be getting any bright ideas about hunting him down.”
In between signing autographs, Mobbins turned to Tenk and made a slow, slitting motion across his neck with his finger, and Seckry had to grab Tenk before he ran down to punch him.
The stadium seemed to be getting fuller and fuller, and the heat of the crowd and the lighting was making Seckry feel slightly faint.
“Greetings,” said Tippian, squeezing through the masses and readjusting his skew-whiff glasses. “What’s wrong with Kimmy?”
“Kimmy?” Loca said quickly. “Where is he?”
“Just saw him running to the bathroom.”
“Oh no,” Loca said, distressed. “Right. I’m going after him.”
“But that’s the men’s toilets!” said Tippian.
“You think that’s gonna stop her?” said Tenk, as Loca stormed away.
She returned about five minutes later shaking her head in disbelief.
“His dad’s ignored him, that’s what it is,” said Loca, shaking her head with fury. “After all the effort Kimmy’s put in, he blummin’ ignores him!”
“Is he okay?” Seckry asked.
“He’s come around. He’s just splashing his face.”
With only twenty minutes to spare, Seckry had become so nervous he couldn’t stop going to the bathroom himself. When he returned for the third time, Kolda Kod wheeled himself out of one of the cubicles and began washing his hands in the sink, a stern expression on his face.
Seckry was in the presence of a true Friction master, a legend of the game, but all Seckry could think of was that he had ignored his own son. Before Seckry knew it, his mouth was talking without his consciousness even having decided to do so.
“You could at least have wished your son good luck.”
Kolda Kod stared at him, taken aback.
“He might never be as good as you,” Seckry said, “but he’s trying, and you should give him some encouragement.”
“But . . . He never takes my advice!” Kolda raged bitterly. “I try to give him practise at home, but he’s got no interest. All he thinks about is that Thumbsuckle girl. He’s like a wet rag.”
“Have you ever considered that Friction might not be where Kimmy’s future lies? Do you even know that he won the Estergate Maths Standout of the Year award?”
Kolda Kod was silent, staring at Seckry unflinchingly.
As Seckry dried his hands Kolda Kod said, “I . . . didn’t know that,” and looked at the ground.
Seckry returned to the stadium, feeling like he was walking on jelly. Had he really just raised his voice at Kimmy’s dad, the greatest Friction player to have ever lived? And did he say that all Kimmy thinks about is Loca Thumbsuckle? Did Kimmy fancy Loca? Seckry didn’t have any more time to think about it, as the game was about to start.
“Seck! Come on,” Loca shouted.
“Good luck!” Eiya said, and gave him a quick hug before running off to join Seckry’s mum and sister in the VIP seats.
Seckry paused for a moment and watched her meander through the crowds. He suddenly felt at ease.
“Seck! Get over here!” Loca screamed.
“You can give her a kiss later!” said Tenk.
“What?” Seckry said, blushing, before joining the team and huddling close as Loca went over their basic strategy again.
When the music started playing, they all got into their pods and switched on their intercoms.
“Okay, this is it guys. You ready?” said Loca
“Yeah!” everyone shouted enthusiastically.
“I didn’t hear Tippian then. You ready, Tippian?”
“Yeah I’m ready, for Gedin’s sake!” shouted Tippian.
“Good. Now get ready to kick some north, south and west butt.”
“Good luck Anikam,” Seckry said to his avatar, and Anikam gave him a firm nod before Seckry placed him into the slot.