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Joseph and the Cyber Nerds

"Hey Joe! Your coming to the meeting tonight, right?" called a young boy named David.
"Yeah. I’ve got nothin’ else to do," replied Joseph with a grin.
"Okay then, I’ll see you later!" David waved as he left.
Joseph was 16 years old, fairly tall, and not too bad to look at either. He loved high school. The academics and such were fun for him, but he could do without. The only real reason he even went to school was the computer club. The kids in that club were his family, his closest friends. Made up of 12 other boys, I guess you could call them his brothers.
Joe was also very kind, on top of all his academic abilities. He had many friends outside of the computer club, as he was very likeable. A lot of times, the girls flocked to him and his adorable crooked grin. For this, on occasion, the computer boys resented him.
One fateful evening, Joe had a computer club meeting. They were planning for the next highschool dance, because the theme was none other than Techno. Of course, the club leader, Mr. Rawley, jumped at the opportunity. (Despite the fact that majority of the club hated dances and the rest of them didn’t have dates.)
"This will be an amazing year boys!" exclaimed Mr. Rawley. "Especially with this amazing team working on it!" He was beaming.
"Thanks, Mr. Rawley." they all said in unison, as they were already working intently on their computers. Suddenly, the door opened, and everyone momentarily turned around.
"Ah! Joseph! I was worried you were going to miss the meeting."
Joseph entered the room and smiled. As much as he denied it, Mr. Rawley favored Joseph. Joseph always seemed to get his work done just a little bit better and a teensy bit faster. This was yet another reason why Joe was resented by his friends.
"Of course, sir. I want to be a part of the best dance ever too, you know."
Joe pulled up a seat at the computer next to David, the boy he had talked to earlier that day. David was his truest friend, and Joe knew that he would never do anything against him. Joe was already very far on designing the posters for the dance. This was his second task, as he had already arranged for the band to have a totally wicked light show. He pulled up the file for the posters just as Mr. Rawly was walking by.
"Joseph! Fantastic! Why, you are almost done! Oh, my, you are so dependable! Here, I want to give you this before I forget." He handed Joseph a ribbon. It was blue and gold and said "Number 1 Student" on the front. It was glittery too...with sequins.
"Aw....gee...thanks, Mr. Rawley." He pretended he liked it. First off, it was ugly; second off, he really didn’t like that kind of attention. It was kind of creepy too, if you really thought about it.
Meanwhile, the other boys were scowling under their breath. "He always gets the praise," said one boy, named Ezekiel. "It’s so annoying!"
The boy next to him, Mark, was also not impressed. "I know. Why can’t just shut his mouth for once?!"
"BOYS!" screamed Mr. Rawley, immediately noticing their off-topic conversation. "Get back to work NOW or you get a detention!"
"Yes, Mr. Rawley," they said, also in unison. Immediately after Mr. Rawley was gone, Ezekiel sent a message to all the boys but one...
"Hey techies....
2nite @ my house...we make plan 2 stop that punk Joe.
~Zeke"

As if to add to the hatred his friends felt for him, that same night, Joe received a call.
"Hello, Solomon residence, this is Joe."
There was giggling at the other end.
"Um...Hello?" He asked again.
"Yeah, hi Joseph," More giggles. It was Sophia, and, what sounded like, her best friend Gina. "I was wondering"-more serious now-"if you want go to the dance with me."A pause.
"Um, sure, Sophia. That sounds cool." He replied. He was so surprised that he had begun to sweat. On the other end of the line, the giggles were uncontrollable.
"Awesome! See you at school then! Bye!"
"Y-yeah...bye...." He had never been more nervous in his life.

Almost simultaneously, the 12 computer whizzes were at Zeke’s house.
"Are you sure this is a good idea? We could be arrested you know," stated David. He was the youngest of the group, so they didn’t really listen to him.
"Of course I’m sure! We need to humble up that punk! He can’t be all high-and-mighty forever."
"EZEKIEL! DO YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS WANT SOME SNACKS??" Zeke’s mom called from upstairs.
"NO MOM!!" he screamed back angrily.
"OKAY THEN! LET ME KNOW IF YOU GET PECKISH LATER!"
Zeke groaned. "Mothers! But anyway, here we go...we just type in this password here... and...BAM! We’re in the school’s computer system!" The boys clapped wildly. Zeke was always the most technologically inclined. David was the only one who seemed upset about the situation.
"You know what guys? I’m not interested. Joe is my friend and I’m not going to jail because you all are jealous!" He walked out and slammed the door behind him.
"Feh...we don’t need him. We just need to show the school who Joe really is..."
 
The next morning, Joseph left for school in a very good mood. I mean, he was smart, good-looking, and was the only one of his friends with a date to the dance! Before he left, he shouted a great "THANK YOU!" to the sky. "God is truly good to me!" He exclaimed, and he continued on to school. Little did he know he was in for quite a lot.
When he arrived at school, there was almost his entire class gawking at the school’s digital announcement board.
"Hey guys! What’s goin’ on?" He said innocently. They all turned instantly and glared at him.
"Nothing much, you sick-o!" one girl said. They all began to leave and fizzle out, each person saying equally cruel things to him as they left. "Weirdo..." one said, and "What a phony!" he heard someone say to another. He was very, very confused. When everyone was gone, he went up to the board to see what all the fuss was about. He gaped in horror at what he saw.
There, flashing in front of him were lies. Lies about him. "Joe Solomon....he’s a racist!" flashed across the top, followed by "Joe S. cheats on every single assignment!". He fell to the ground onto his knees. "Who would do this??" He asked with horror. He heard a voice behind him say his name. It was Sophia.
"Sophia, I am so sorry, none of this is true but if you don’t want to go to the dance with me anymore I understand and"- she made a motion for him to be quiet.
"Joe, I know you. And these words"- she pointed to the sign just as ‘Joseph kills kittens!’ flashed across- "are not you. I believe you." She smiled. She held out her hand and helped him up off the ground. To Joe, she seemed like an angel. Coming to his rescue and having faith when no one else did. Just then, an announcement was sent over the intercom.
"Will a Mr. Joseph Solomon please go to the Principal’s office immediately..
Thank you."
"Guess I better go." He tried to smile, but all that came out was a grimace. Sophia smiled back and Joe went to see what the principal wanted. "This can’t be good." He said to himself as he grabbed the door handle. He took a deep breath and entered the office.
"Hello, Mr. Solomon. I suppose you have some explaining to do, hmm?"
Joe still looked confused, and the Principal could tell.
"Well, you must think you are very funny, young man. Breaking into the school’s system and putting those disturbing messages on the board. Very funny, indeed." Principal Snyder folded his hands together.
"Um...to be truly honest sir, I have no idea why those things are up there. I just found out about them this morning, sir. And besides, why would I post messages that would ruin my own reputation?"
"Oh, I know exactly why." He leaned closer to Joseph, and was staring him directly in the eye. "One word: attention. And do you know what rhymes with attention? Detention! You are suspended from school and you may not attend the dance this weekend. Such disturbances will not be tolerated in this school, Mr. Solomon. I have already called your parents. You may leave now." Joe opened his mouth to contradict, but he knew it wouldn’t help. He merely got up and left. As he walked out the door, he saw Mr. Rawley and the members of the Comp. Club. Joe was saddened by the expression on Mr. Rawley’s face. It was that which could only be described as disappointment. But he was interested in the other’s faces. Everyone but David was laughing. They had this disturbing look of pride about them. He also thought it strange, that David was the only other person to have the same disappointed look as Mr. Rawley. Except this look was directed at the other 11 boys.

Later that week, Joe got a call from Sophia. I guess you could say they were ‘official’ now, and she called frequently. "Hey Joe, I got some important news for ya." She said before he could even answer.
"Really? What could possibly be so important?" He asked. He was surprised because nothing much really ever happened of importance in his town.
"I know who did it." She said. Joe immediately knew what she was talking about, and let her continue. "It was the cyber nerds from the computer club. I over heard them talking this morning. David was talking to Zeke about your suspension. Apparently, David feels really bad about it."
"He does? I thought he had a hand in it too, I haven’t heard from him all week. I figured he must’ve been mad at me or something."
"Oh, quite the contrary. Zeke is the one who doesn’t really care. I remember hearing him say ‘what is done is done, and he can’t be unsuspended’. I think Zeke was in charge of the whole thing, Joe, and from the looks of it, he wanted this to happen."
"Wow." Joe had speculated that it was all Zeke’s doing, but he still felt shocked. Even a little betrayed. After all, they had been his friends, hadn’t they?
"But there is some good news. I know how you can get back at them. I stumbled upon the password to the grade files. If you just so happened to have it, then maybe you could show those other guys up and change their grades to straight F’s. Do you want the password?"
"Um, sure. Give it to me." Joe began to write it down as Sophia told him all the information. This would certainly show them. They would never mess with him again, once they found out that he did it. The more he thought about it, the more brilliant it seemed. "Okay, thanks Sophia, I’ll get on that right now. Bye!"
"I’m so glad I could help you. Talk to you later then." She hung up. As soon as he put the phone down, he began to sabotage the troublemakers. But then, just as he was about to enter the password, a voice entered his mind. "No Joseph. You are better then they are. Do not avenge them this way." He didn’t know who or what the voice came from, but he immediately stopped what he was doing. He decided the time will come when they will need him, and he had no idea how soon that was.

It was Friday during school, and everyone was cracking down to prepare for the dance the following Saturday night. The girls were going about accepting votes for Queen nominations, and the boys were busy constructing. The Computer Club, on the other hand, was working at a slower pace than they ever had before.
"What is the matter with you people? The dance is tomorrow, and we still have a lot to do!" exclaimed Zeke. The rest of them said nothing. They just looked sullen as they slowly typed at their computers. "Oh I see. You all are still upset about that stupid Joseph thing aren’t you? C’mon guys! He was just suspended! It’s no big deal! None of us really liked him anyway right?"
"Shut up Zeke!" Came a small voice at the other end of the room. Everyone gasped and turned around. The voice had been David’s. "Joe was my friend okay? He was like mt big brother, and now he’ll probably never speak to me again." He looked at Ezekiel with hate.
"Oh, you sound like such a baby! Do you really think he knows it was us?" Ezekiel tried to sound confident in his words, but doubt was there, and it was noticeable.
"Yes, I do. We all know he was the best at computers next to you, Zeke. He’s bound to have figured out by now. Don’t be naive." He turned to continue his work. Just then, Mr. Rawley came bursting in the room. He looked like he had just ran all over the school.
"Boys! We have a HUGE problem!" He huffed. He was turning redder and redder by each passing second.
"Okay, Mr. Rawley, just sit down. You’re turning purple." Mark grabbed his arm and sat him in a chair. "Now what’s the problem? What could be so bad that you had to run all the way over here?"
"Well, it turns out the light show Joseph"-they all cringed at the mention of his name-"had created for the band isn’t working as it should. And on top of that, the band refuses to play if they don’t have their show. As picky as they are, we need to abide by them, or there will be no music for the dance and we have to cancel it." He sighed. The boys gaped. What could they do?
"What are we going to do then?" Zeke asked.
"I don’t know. Perhaps one of you should go talk to Joe and have him come over here and fix it." He suggested hopefully.
"No, we can’t. He’s suspended remember? He can’t come anywhere near the school." Mark said with a sigh. The rest of the boys followed suit. All except for David.
"We can’t give up. I have a plan, but I need all of you. Especially you, Zeke."
 
The boys left without hesitation. They needed to save the dance! David led the way to Joseph’s house. "Please, please God, let him help us," he pleaded. They finally got to his house and David reached up to ring the doorbell. Zeke grabbed his arm and stopped him. "Wait a sec, if we are just as good as he is, then why can’t we fix it?" He asked with a smirk. David yanked his arm away.
"Because I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t apologize. You feel the same way, even though you won’t admit it, because you know that this whole thing is your fault. It’s called karma, Zeke! So suck it up and do the right thing for once." Zeke was shocked. This might be the only time that Zeke had ever listened to David, but it was certainly the most important. David rang the doorbell. None other than Joe himself answered.
"What in the name of all that is holy to you guys want?!" He asked, suddenly angry.
"We need your help, Joe." Said David. "The light show you planned isn’t working and there will literally be no dance without it. You are the only one who can fix it, and we need you to tell us how to. I can understand if you’ll never forgive us, but we really, really need your help just this one time."
Joe took this in for a moment. He looked at all their faces, and, surprisingly enough, they all looked sincere. He remembered all that they had done to him. How they humiliated him, made him unable to go to the dance. This angered him greatly. He opened his mouth to say no, but at that exact moment, he heard the voice again. "This is your moment Joseph. Forgive them, they know what they did was wrong. If you help them now, they will never do harm against you again, by my honor. Be the noble one, Joseph." This time, he knew who the voice was. It was God, guiding him along this whole time. "Okay." He said, "I’ll help you. Come on up to my room and I’ll show you the plans for the light show." He smiled his famous crooked grin and they knew he meant it. They all filed in his house, one by one, until David walked by last, and whispered ‘thanks,’ just loud enough for Joseph to hear. It was the most sincere thing he had ever heard.

Epilogue
The dance was a complete and utter success, with the coolest light show you ever did see. Everyone had the best of times, even Joe, who was glad to have his friends back, despite that he couldn’t go to the dance. Yes, the kids would be talking about this dance for many weeks afterwards. The Monday following the dance, Joe caught up to his friends in the hall. They began telling him all the detail about what went on, not to mention how awesome his light show was. They walked for a bit until Zeke finally spoke. "So, why did you help us anyway? We treated you like crud, you know." He looked at the ground as he spoke.
"Oh, I know." He said, and everyone laughed. He thought about the question for a moment that laughed him self. He grabbed Zeke around the shoulders and said,
"How could I not help you? I mean, you guys are like brothers to me!" They all laughed again, and continued their walk to class. The hard times were over and, it seemed, the good times were only beginning.





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