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TEAM ALPHA - Chapter 1

Meet Sam.



Toronto, OT, Canada

The iced coffee machine was being a total idiot. No one had told me it was broken and once my shift started, all hell broke loose. I found myself first trying to stop the flooding milk-brown stuff with my hands. Next , I was standing stupidly with my butt soaked with wet caffeine and angry customers’ eyes drilling into my head.
“Sam, you’re such a dunce.” Hands on her hips, Phoebe, my cousin and manager, strolled towards me with a hunk of towel. “Wipe up the mess while I sort out the customers.”
“Hey! No one told me it was broken,” I protested.
She yanked a piece of paper taped on one side of the machine. “Don’t tell me you can’t read.”
“Oh.” I gave an embarrassed smile when I saw that the paper read “UNAVAILABLE FOR USE TODAY.”
I waited behind the doughnut machine while Phoebe dealt with the pissed-off customers. The doughnut machine was pretty cool anyway, with its conveyor belt of sugary goodness, showing everyone through a pane of glass the doughnut-making process. Some say Krispy Kreme will shut down soon, and this machine made me sad. I watched it dejectedly for about ten minutes before I jumped back under the “ORDER HERE” sign.
I sighed and tapped my hands on the cash register. For the tenth time today, the same question rattled on in my brain, “How the heck did your brother convince your cousin to hire you to work here for the whole summer, you nitwit?”
Yeah, I’m Sam, age fourteen, an average student at Redford Secondary. In fact, I’m about the most average person you’ll ever meet, other than the fact that I'm a total klutz fifty-percent of the time. I have a brother and a mother and a gone father. We have an average income and live in an average neat apartment. I’m of medium height and weight. I have brown eyes and brown hair, which is a common gene. I have an okay fashion taste, I guess. I have my good subjects and bad subjects. I like my music, I like my TV, and I like to fight with my bro over the PlayStation 2 we own. We don’t have a pet because mom’s allergic. I’ve got nice friends but I’m not too popular. I don’t have a girlfriend…yet. I get good grades and bad grades. I have my hobbies, and I –
And yes, I’m a boring person. In fact, why waste so much time on me? You were probably drawn to this book because of a snazzy cover and a snazzier title. But now that you've met me, the average kid, who's obviously the protagonist because I'm narrating in first-person, you might as well put this book down!
Twenty minutes later, my shift was almost over – thank God! I slumped over the counter and took off my ugly cap when Phoebe – my cousin/trainer/slave-driver – wasn’t looking. Phoebe had offered me this job even though I was underage, and I had been lured in by the eight-dollars-an-hour wage.
They were playing the evening news on the TV mounted at the ceiling corner. I chewed my fingernails and watched the headline story – something about ten terrorists’ plan to bomb five airlines with bottles of water. At first it didn’t make much sense until I saw the genius in it and shivered. If they can blow up planes with bottles of Evian, I don’t want to go on a plane again!
Phoebe was leaning over the counter and reading The Toronto Star. She wrinkled her freckled nose and rubbed her greasy face. “Now they’re preventing anyone from bringing liquid onboard. Can’t you believe that?”
Suddenly two men dressed in black suits and wearing black sunglasses barged into the restaurant. They looked almost identical, and the way they walked into the deserted fast food joint made me snap upright at attention.
Even Phoebe stopped chewing her gum and looked at them curiously. They came to the counter. They were straightforward and to-the-point. They paid for two doughnuts and two cups of coffee. They seemed to have little cash, so one man fumbled into his tight pants pocket and took out a slim wallet, using his credit card. I fumbled with it and uttered a nervous, “Thanks and have a good day.” As soon as they were in, they were out. They could be CIA agents, for all I knew…
I looked at the time. “Oh, wow, can’t you believe that! I’m heading home!” I whistled and tore off my stinking yellow employee shirt to reveal a skate tee underneath. I tossed my wallet and mp3 into my jeans pocket and dashed into the simmeringToronto summer evening. Then I was out of the dreaded joint before Phoebe could throw another complaint.
Home wasn’t so far from the Krispy Kreme. Our apartment was on the seventh floor two blocks away in quiet littleMoncton. I threw down my creaky un-oiled longboard and jumped on, carving the slopes easily as sparse traffic whistled by. There weren’t a lot of people at this hour. I sighed as I pumped up the speed for the daily ride home. I was born in this neighbourhood and, for fourteen years, nothing remotely interesting has ever happened here.
Twenty minutes later, I sat at the rickety dining table reading the Star. All I can say is, I’m the most normal person in all history of human normality. Now, I know a lot of you out there are aching to be normal because, uh, you guys lead a student life and a celebrity’s life, or you’ve got genius IQ and kids think you’re crazy, or you’ve won state championships in equestrian sports and have been to all the continents of the world including Antarctica and go to a different school every year…or you even work as a top-secret agent of the CIA. All of this stuff is cool; I mean, it sure beats being normal.
“What’s up, home slice?” I looked up as Phillip flounced into the dining room. He wore a cheerful smile – as always. He’s a good brother, but I think he can be a bit too stressed sometimes, since he’s going to college the year after the coming one. He was happy at the moment – not studying his head off, reviewing, previewing, or reminiscing over his last girlfriend Vicky – and that was a blessing.
“Nothin’ much,” I muttered.
“Did you see the news? They have a TV at the Kreme, don’t they?”
“Did you see the thing with the liquid bombs? Genius, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “I wonder who found out. You really have to think out of the box with that one.”
Philip shrugged. “Some policeman…or maybe a spy or something.”
“Wish I was a spy.”
“Like James Bond?”
I looked down at the Star and something caught my eye. “Hey, look at this. Someone just bought a deluxe mansion in the University Endowment Lands of Vancouver. Must have cost a fortune. Says she paid twice the amount ‘cause the realtor wouldn’t sell it to her due to past personal coflicts. Says she works for the CIA…Assistant Director?! Maybe this person’s a spy! Dang, you get that much money at the CIA? Man, now I really want to be a spy!”
Philip shook his head and sighed. “Stop acting like a ten year-old. There are tons of spoiled, dirty rich people out there – government officials included. Dunno why they included that in the news – it ain’t news to me. Newspapers are getting lazy… How ‘bout we put you on that Spy Academy TV show, eh?”
I rolled my eyes. “No thanks!”
Phillip laughed. “No chance you’d make it anyways, bro, what with your final PE mark last year…”
“Oh gosh don’t even go there…”
Phillip shrugged. “Sorry bro, but the butter-finger-genes run strong in you.”
Our father had been an outstanding athlete, but our mother was most definitely not. I have never actually witnessed her catching a ball…Phillip didn’t do well in gym class, and I was a complete buffoon. I shook my head. “I ain't considering a career in the athletic arts and, besides, I'm cool enough. I have a…meeting tomorrow." I winked.
“A meeting?” Phillip raised his eyebrows. “Who’s it this time?”
I smiled. “Zoey Roberts.”
“Is that like the fifth girl this summer? You’re getting dumped that much?” He laughed.
I scowled. “I never said they were dates, Phil.”
He made puppy-dog eyes, smiled, and imitated my somewhat high voice, “Oh, Zoey…I wish I were a spy…!”
I was about to reach across the table and hit him when Mom strolled into the room. She laughed at us, told us to stop, and pushed back her faded brown hair to reveal tired, dark eyes. Then she took out the dinner in the fridge, microwaved it, and we all sat about eating dinner and listening to The Beat – to that annoying song by Rihanna. “Ella – ella – ella – eh – eh – eh…”
Mom had made a salad. I heaped some on to my bowl and about half of the lettuce spilled out of the ladle and onto the table.
“Oh Sampson,” Mom sighed, “how many times do I have to tell you to move your own bowl to the edge of the salad bowl before you heap stuff in?”
“About a million,” Phillip muttered.
I gave him a glare. While doing so, my arm was moving the ladle back to the salad bowl and it knocked over my glass of milk. Phillip spluttered and laughed.
“Sam,” Mom sighed again. “What are you, ten? You should have mastered those coordination skills by now. I can’t keep telling you to be careful and watch where you’re moving things until you’re thirty.”
“I’m sorry.” I gulped down a piece of lettuce, feeling like a rotten tomato. Sometimes I could be a total lame klutz. I mean, Mom couldn't catch balls but she could give herself food... I was happy when Phillip changed the subject and ranted about his annoying manager.



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