“Max knew that it wasn’t going to be a good day. Yesterday, everything had gone wrong, and now Max, a quiet kid who sat in the back of class and got good grades, had gotten himself into a fight. Everyone at school knew about it. It was as big as a pay-per-view boxing match. And it was today.”
Max knew that it wasn’t going to be a good day. Yesterday, everything had gone wrong, and now Max, a quiet kid who sat in the back of class and got good grades, had gotten himself into a fight. Everyone at school knew about it. It was as big as a pay-per-view boxing match. And it was today.
Yesterday was what Max expected to be another normal day, going to school, doing his work, and going home. Instead, the most unexpected things happened at every corner.
First, he went downstairs to get breakfast, expecting to see his mom and dad already eating and getting ready for work. They weren’t there. When he went to go get his breakfast, he saw a ripped sheet of paper on the fridge.
Hey Max –
We had to go to work early today — we wouldn’t have
gone if it wasn’t an emergency. We’ll be home at 6:30.
Mom + Dad
That was already abnormal. Max’s parents never had to go to work early. They were pediatricians at the children’s hospital downtown. They usually worked from 10 am to 6 pm in the emergency room. What could’ve happened that made them leave so unexpectedly?
Then, Max arrived at school, and the principal called him into the office. Max had never gotten into trouble. In fact, he had never even talked to the principal before. Why was he going?
Max walked into the office. It had smooth walls that were the color of sand in the desert, and there was a lady that looked as if she was born in ancient times at the front desk.
“Are you Max Smith?” she asked Max with a stern voice, and he got worried.
Could I be in trouble? he wondered.
“Yes,” Max gulped. “That’s me.”
“Great. The principal’s office is right down that hall.” She pointed to the hall on the right of Max.
Max was nervous, but he gathered up the courage to walk down that short hall that felt like it was never-ending.
Max finally got to the end of the hall and opened the door. He saw the principal, who had slight wrinkles on his face, graying hair, and a thick unibrow.
“Come in.” The principal had a deep voice, almost as deep as Batman.
Max sat down on the gray, cushioned chair in front of the principal’s desk, and the worry slowly worked its way down from his head, to his stomach, and then all the way down to his legs.
“Max, do you know why you’re here?” He asked the question in a way that seemed as if Max did something wrong, and he should feel sorry for it.
“No,” he quietly whimpered.
“Well, you don’t have to worry. You’re not in trouble.”
Relief quickly took over the worry that was swallowing Max whole.
“Why am I here?” asked Max.
“You are here to be what is sort of an undercover agent for the school. I recently found out about a secret group within the school that has been bullying and hazing some new and old students for no apparent reason. I want you to join them and find out why they’re doing this, then do your best to stop them without getting caught. This is dangerous, and it is up to you, but before you make your decision, I want you to remember that I chose you because you are my best student, and I believe you can do the best job.”
Max had to take a second to let those words sink in. Best student? Undercover agent? Of course he had to accept. The dangers didn’t matter to Max. If he stayed somewhat quiet, he could avoid trouble.
Or so he thought…
Max didn’t know what to expect when he went up to William Brown, the school’s biggest bully. He slowly walked up to him, trembling with the thought of getting beat up, or worse. He was still wondering what made him the principal’s pick to end this, but he knew he needed to be focusing on the present right now. He finally reached William and whimpered the word, “Hi.”
“What do you want, twerp?” William asked in a tough, strong voice with the power to destroy worlds.
“I-I-I w-wanna be a-a p-part of your gr-group.”
“Ah, you mean the Union.”
“Yep.” Max’s confidence rose after hearing the name Union. He had a name now, and he could easily slide in.
“I mean, you seem quiet enough to stay silent about all this. But how do I know you’re tough enough?”
“I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.”
“I guess I will. You’re in.”
Max knew what he had to do now. He had to challenge them from the inside. Refuse missions, let kids free from the horrors they were about to face, and of course, forcing them to give him information. He knew this wouldn’t be easy, but he had to try.
When he opened his locker to put his books away for lunch, he saw a folded up note that had been dropped inside through the small slits at the top.
I gotta tell you our HQ location so
you can come to our daily lunch
meetings. It’s at the unlocked closet
nobody uses at the football field.
The lunch meeting is @ 12:30. Please come.
Max knew he had to go to that meeting. He quickly put his books away, checked the time (it was 12:07), and hurried to the cafeteria. He ate his lunch in four minutes, then ran to the football field, which was three minutes away. He arrived 16 minutes early, at 12:14, but he was there on time to catch them before they could beat up another kid. He ran over to where they were gathering around a kid sitting on a chair, and he saw that it was one of his very few friends, Kent Buckley. He was about to say something to stop them, but just as he was about to do something, Kent got punched in the face three times. He was bleeding from his nose and mouth, and his teeth were red with blood. Kent got up to run away, but Axel Foiger pushed him back into the chair. Kent was crying, but nobody was doing anything to help. Max knew he should talk to them, but he also knew he needed to gain their trust. So, without thinking at all, with a smile on his face, Max went up to Kent, and spit on his face.
The entire Union was going wild. Max Smith helping us? Max was usually a nice, quiet kid. Why was he joining the Union? However, they were so impressed, that they didn’t even have the slightest thought that he was going to try and destroy the Union.
“Alright, alright,” William’s voice turned the entire group silent. “Yes, we have a new member, but that doesn’t matter right now. We just need to go into the closet and have our meeting. I have an idea of who’s next.”
All of the members of the Union were ready to know who was next. When the reveal finally came, they were so shocked, they barely talked for the next hour. They were scared for this and definitely not ready.
They were going to publicly fight Max Smith, so he could prove himself worthy to the Union. If they had to know how tough he was, they didn’t just have to take his word for it. They could just watch him in action.
Max was terrified. It didn’t help that the whole school knew by 2:30, and by 2:45, a time had been planned for the fight. He knew he couldn’t fail his principal, and he knew he was still going to take down the Union. As long as he believed in himself, he could do it.
After school, he walked home, knowing he was safe from getting beaten up, but terrified of tomorrow’s fight. It was 3:17 when he arrived home, and his parents weren’t going to be home for another 3 hours, 13 minutes. All he could do was wait to find out what the emergency was.
His parents arrived home at 7:00 pm, half an hour after the time they said they would arrive at. They had very clearly been crying, and he knew something was very wrong when they told him to sit down on the couch.
They sat down on the couch across from Max and started talking.
“A kid from your school, Jimmy Phillips, was brought to the emergency room last night with severe injuries. He was found lying on the ground unconscious, with a note taped to his shirt that said From the Union. He survived, but he will be blind for at least the next five years, and he can never move his left arm again. We want to know if you know anything about this.”
“No. I don’t.”
Max was shocked. He knew that the Union was bad, but to this level? He now felt horrible about helping them beat up Kent. Spitting on his face was the worst thing he could’ve done. Now, he knew that he definitely needed to stop them. He went upstairs and thought about this. He started preparing for the fight, now that he knew who he was working with. He was weak, but as long as he believed in himself, he could fight.
When he woke up the next day, he was as ready for the fight as he could possibly be. He knew he would be able to beat them when he knew why the principal chose him to infiltrate the Union. That would help him realize his strengths, and how he could use them. He got dressed, and immediately went to school. No breakfast was necessary.
When he arrived at school, he was called to the principal’s office for the second day in a row. He once again walked down the short hall that felt like an eternity, wondering what it was this time. He opened the door, and the principal immediately started to talk.
“I heard about the fight. I’m confident that you’re ready for this.”
“I’m just as confident as you are.”
“Good. The fight is not why you’re here right now. You’re here so I can tell you why I chose you.”
Max knew that he would finally know the answer to the question that had been on his mind for the past 24 hours.
“I chose you for three big reasons. Reason number one is that you’re smart. You’re smarter than all of the members in the Union combined. You can easily outsmart them. Reason number two is that you’re a likable person. The Union can easily get along with you, leading you to gain their trust, leading me to have all of their information. Reason number three is that you’re loyal. I mean, I’ve known you for a day, and you’re already doing everything I want, without questioning it. Your loyalty means that you won’t actually become a member of the Union, but instead come back to me. In fact, you’re so loyal, I bet you won’t tell anybody that my name is actually Joey Smoith.”
Max had to take a second to let that sink in. Who has a name like Joey Smoith?
“Thank you for choosing me.” That was all he said before leaving the principal’s office.
In the hours before the fight, Max realized how sluggish classes really were. Time went by slower than it had ever gone before. Max fell asleep during class, and when the teacher woke him up, it was 2:43pm. 17 minutes until the fight. The minutes started going by faster. Fifteen minutes until the fight. Faster. Twelve minutes until the fight. Faster. Eight minutes until the fight. Faster. Three minutes until the fight.
It was finally time for the fight. After hours of waiting, it was finally here. He went up to the Union, and everything became a blur. Someone shouted a starting word, and the fight began. Max believed in himself, so he could do it.
Max punched William in the face, kicked all of the members of the Union in the stomach, and then they got angry. They charged at Max, and he got punched in the face twice. Then, he got kicked in the crotch. His hair got pulled, his leg got snapped, he broke at least five bones, and then, he got knocked out. He had lost the fight.
There was blood coming from all over his body. It looked as if someone painted him dark red. His leg was gushing out blood, he looked flat, and he didn’t remember any of it when he woke up in the hospital two months later.
It had been a year since Max woke up in the hospital. It had taken him five months to recover, and he still had many scars. These scars brought him to the realization that he wasn’t the only one that had these troubles. The scars made him remember the fight and how hard he fought against the Union. This made him feel powerful, like he had the power to do anything. He had the power to help. He wanted to be like his favorite superhero, Robin. He would become a vigilante and protect all of the people that were being attacked.
He began by making his costume. He made himself a black mask that covered his entire head, and a suit that had a black center, and blue arms and legs, with a large N in the middle. Then, he trained for seven months. He worked out, jumped across rooftops, practiced knocking out criminals using punching bags in his basement. Then, he was ready. That night, he jumped across rooftops, looking for crime. He finally found something. Seven or eight criminals gathered around a gagged man tied up to a chair. He wasn’t worried. He knew he could do it. He was… Nightquake.