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Wake up. Play the game. Go to bed. Wake up. Play the game. Go to bed. Wake up. Play the game. Go to bed. The utter simplicity was heaven to Quark, formally known as Alec. Everyday, with the exception of Tuesday, he would literally roll off his bed into the dino-print bean bag that faced the TV. He had found a stick that was long enough to press in the power button of both the TV and game console. There was a 100-pack of AA batteries next to his wireless controller, ready when needed. When he was up to it, he’d plug in his headset to discuss game plans with players around the world.
Quark was a feisty little thing. Standing at whopping four feet tall, he got what he wanted by head-butting the thighs of his 6th grade friends. His brown hair was shaggy, draped around his entire head. If you were lucky enough to get a glimpse of his eyes, you’d discover they were a deep, almost scary gray. At merely seven years old, he was unusually mature, for he was in charge of holding down the fort until his parents’ return, around 8:30. He had but one sister, Ana, who stayed at her college four cities away. She had always been fond of science, and was the one to cleverly rename Alec.
Now, aside from Tuesdays, everyday slowly inched by. The new edition black Xbox 360° was almost always warm, as was the TV. He followed a strict diet: Fruit Loops with grape juice. A peanut butter, jelly, butter, and Fruit Loops sandwich. Whatever his parents brought home for dinner. The routine was a comfortable familiar to him, six days a week.
But Tuesdays! Oh, how Tuesdays differed. Tuesdays, Ana would visit, Mom and Dad got home four hours earlier, and the Xbox was not needed.
It started at eight in the morning. He no longer lazily plopped into the bean bag. He had no need for the stick. Instead, he would let his morning anger pass, then let a sinister smile trickle onto his face. He normally woke up early enough to have a good five hours before his sister would arrive. Those five hours were some of the best moments of his life. He kept his Jaws pajama shirt on and slipped into the khaki shorts he was given for his fifth birthday. His mom had a stack of banana pancakes with chocolate syrup waiting for him, though he would only drench three in the syrup before rolling them into one huge burrito before dashing out the wide open door into the awaiting island.
The island was a small one, with a few small cities scattered about. There weren’t big buildings. There weren’t many cars. There was one loving community. Everybody knew everybody else, and what was going on at all times. A proposal, a baby, even a date, would be known by everyone by six o’ clock. So naturally, there weren’t many secrets. Except those among the children.
There was a playground at the very center of the town. It had a rocket, three slides, six swings, a plastic dinosaur that sat four, and the softest sand from the nearest beach. The town was so trusting; children were permitted to venture to the playground during daylight. Over time, it had become a sort of miniature kingdom that had branched out around the town. They ate at the same diner, got King Size Reese’s from the same gas station, read comic books from the same book store, and even used the same bathrooms at the school. Since kingdoms can’t run without a king, tri-annual Ultimate Rock, Paper, Scissors battles were held. Quark had been the king for two straight years, and vowed to never give that up.
U. R. P. S. was an interesting game. You use just about anything you want to try and beat your opponent, who also draws something in hopes that it will win it for them. Quarks weapon of choice was usually the usually a syringe full of air. He might occasionally put something else in it, but air was his first pick.
Quark ran the kingdom like everyone wanted- he wasn’t the only one allowed on the rocket, and everything else was on a first come, first served basis. The system was perfect for everyone, and though he was challenged every time, everybody wanted him to win, and knew he would.
All of this happened on Tuesdays. The rest of the week, he appointed his best friend in charge of making sure everything ran smoothly while he was away. His friend, however, had a different idea of how things should go.
His best friend was Donald, a sarcastic seven-and-a-half year old who truly believed his age should grant him power. When Wednesday came, the kingdom became grim. Donald was the only one allowed in the rocket, and anyone younger than six wasn’t allowed on the swings. He believed the one in charge was the most important, and made it true when Quark was gone. He wasn’t anyone’s friend except on Tuesdays and at school. His sarcasm bought him laughter and friendship. When he was in charge, his rules bought him rebellions. All of the other children spent the days trying to figure out how to tell Quark of Donald’s behavior. However, Donald had found out about the scheme, and spent every minute at Quark’s side to prevent the spill.
The U. R. P. S. battles went on on the 25th of June, October, and February. School had recently let out, and another battle was on its way. Donald felt it in his blood that this would be the one. He knew he could defeat Quark with one move. He had decided to keep his weapon a secret, along with his challenge. He quietly researched the one thing that would wipe out everything, and eased up on the harsh rules, due to extreme excitement.
It was one week until the 25th. Quark, as usual, didn’t give one thought to it. He always was able to assume he’d win, as did everybody else. So when the day came around, he was as ready as he’d ever be. The duel was the last thing done, so the day went on like normal. The kingdom made its rounds to the diner, ordering its “World Famous” tuna melts, washed down with the “World Famous” orange juice, followed by the “World Famous” chocolate and pecan cake. They then shuffled over to the bookstore, grabbing the most recent of the series of their favorite comic. Nobody ever bought, for they had the time and the store had the comfortable chairs. After the food had settled, the gas station was their next destination. Twenty or so Reese’s bars were cleaned out once a week, which made the 70 year old owner glow. This being the 25th, everything was done a bit slower. Food wasn’t so quickly gulped down, comics weren’t skimmed through, and candy was eaten in more than one bite. Other than a slower pace, nothing was different because of the date.
When the sun started showing signs of setting, everybody gathered at the base of the rocket. One by one, Quark killed everything thrown at him. Finally, the end of the line came, and Donald was last. There was complete silence, compared to the cheering for everyone else. No one had known, or ever would have thought, that Donald would attempt a shot at king. Even Quark showed a bit of surprise, for there was absolutely no one who expected something like this to happen.
So the battle was underway. Both were given two minutes to strategize and prepare themselves, for these were complicated children. Then the time came.
Sweating, Quark put his left hand out, followed by Donald. They shook hands, and then placed their palms facing up. They counted off to three, then let their right hands fall onto their lefts in a hard clenched fist. Another countdown and they’d be at war.
And it was over faster than it had started. Quark positioned his hand like one holding a syringe, no explanation was needed. But when Donald threw his arms in the air, puzzled faces occupied those of everyone present, including Quark. No one was quite sure what to think of the situation, for no one was quite sure what was going on. Brandy, a quiet five year old finally asked, after about a minute or so of silence, “Who wins?”
“We’re not sure yet, he didn’t say what he is yet,” her sister replied in a whisper.
“Can’t you guys tell? Or are you as stupid as you look?”
‘Stupid’ was the worst thing you could call someone, so of course those under five instantly broke down in tears.
“Oh, stop all your guys’ whining, babies. It’s the atom bomb. I had my brother researched it and everything. My brother’s 14 years old! So he’s right. I killed Quark! I killed Quark! I killed Quark and there’s nothing you can do ‘bout it!”
“The atom bomb does not kill him, dummy!” Brandy exclaimed.
“Does too. You’re just all mad and scared ‘cause I got to kill Quark. Go get me the fish sandwich!” Donald shouted back at the five year old. The crowd was still in complete shock, but they knew it had happened. And for four months, he was king.
There wasn’t much to do about the situation now, except get him his sandwich.
With Donald king, the kingdom fell apart. No one went on the fun walks around town. No one played on the playground. No one was happy. The pain was going to have to be endured for at least four months, and they all knew those four months would be the longest, hardest months of their lives.
Now, that might have been an exaggeration on their part. Donald knew how much he wasn’t well liked, and was taking steps to change that. He invited a select few older guys to join him on the rocket. He let five year olds on the swings. He even bought a comic book to bring back to the playground. Not everyone saw the meager changes in his rule, except Quark. When invited, he went on the rocket. He helped the five year olds onto the swings. He even went with Donald to buy the comic book, and advised him on which to get. On the way back, Quark confronted Donald.
“Why you trying to be so nice and stuff?”
“Nobody likes me.” He replied, his head bowed.
“Well duh! You’re pure evil! But you didn’t care before.”
“Yeah, I guess… But why can’t they like me? I’m a super awesome king!”
“Sorry guy, but you suck at it.”
Donald gave him a puppy face before bowing his head again.
“Well,” Quark went on, “you suck right now. Just be nice.”
At home that night, Donald wondered how he could be nice. Quark let everyone do everything. He helped the little kiddies. Dang, he even recued that praying mantis! I guess I could be nice, too.
When October 25th was a few days away, there was a completely new outlook on the kingdom. No one planned to challenge Donald. No one except Quark. He knew exactly what would kill the atomic bomb, after watching Spaceballs three weeks before. When the day came, Quark was waiting at the base of the rocket for Donald and the rest of the town kids to finish dinner. When they all arrived, Quark held out his left hand, followed by Donald. They shook hands, and then placed their palms facing up. They counted off to three, then let their right hands fall onto their lefts in a hard clenched fist. Another countdown and they’d be at war.
And it was over faster than it had started. Quark positioned his hand like one holding a syringe, no explanation was needed. But when Donald threw his arms in the air this time, again, no one knew what was going on. Both had just thrown their best moves. The moves that won Donald the throne four months ago. Yet, Quark played his syringe. Nobody understood why, but it didn’t care as much. They were happy with Donald as their king; they knew that for another four months, they’d be able to stay happy.
So if you were to visit that playground today, you’d discover happy children, sliding, swinging, riding, happy. No one, except Quark, knows what could beat the powerful atomic bomb, though they kept trying. And Quark, always pulled out his syringe-holding hand, knowing he would lose. He held it up with his sinister grin, then spat in his hand and shook Donald’s, as was the tradition after every match.
The kingdom ran smoothly, but one day, and chunky eight year old wobbled into the sand. He truly believed his age should grant him power. He went home after learning the ways of the kingdom, and decided to watch his favorite movie- Spaceballs.
Ithaca, New York
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