Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis (XBOX)
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    #434
    When ILM was working on new creatures for the Star Wars: A New Hope Special Edition, they used a stretched out Brachiosaurus model from JP. The animators nick-named the creature "Bronto", which George Lucas shortened to "Ronto" in the final film. (From: T-Rex)
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    Nightshade novel {Prologue - Chapter 2}
    By Aragorn

    NIGHTSHADE

    WRITTEN BY:

    Jeff Long

    ~PROLOGUE~


    It was long past midnight in St. Wainluk and the streets of the town were practically deserted as most of the reasonable citizens were fast asleep in their comfy beds. However, a lot of citizens were also out partying up the clubs and having a crazy time in the town’s wild nightlife.

    Amanda Holcheck, a young, polite, well-liked Kindergarten teacher by day and a wild drug-addicted partier by night, had been one such person and was now stumbling down the lonely sidewalk of Main Street, obviously way passed the point of safe intoxication. Under her opened jacket, which the light cool breeze of the night often blew open, she wore a shining red dress - her party clothes for the night, which had found itself on the floor of a stranger’s bedroom just an hour before.

    She stumbled and tripped over her own feet, but caught herself on the side of a building, giggling noisily to herself. She straightened herself up to the best of her intoxicated abilities and continued walking, or rather stumbling, down the sidewalk. Soon she reached a long pitch black alley and walked passed it without giving it any second thought. A sober person however, would know better then to pass so haphazardly past such an area so late at night.

    Seconds after she passed by, multiple voices of laughter echoed from deep inside the alley.

    The laughter got a bit louder and continued to rise in volume as three shapes wearing long trench coats walked out from the alley, snickering quietly to each other, as if they were all in on some kind of inside joke. One of the people had dyed-green hair with a circular golden medallion hanging around his neck, which had a mystic green jewel in the middle and runes running along the outer edge. This twenty-six year-old man wasn’t well known at all among the general citizens of St. Wainluk, however the underworld of crime in St. Wainluk knew of him as Todd Godwin.

    On one side of him was Johner, who was a bit on the short side and a tad chubby, but his physical strength made up for that. His black hair was spiked up in long thick points, that were stuck up taller then any person should allow their hair to stick up. On the other side of Todd was Brad, a taller man that also had his black hair spiked up, but not nearly as dynamically as Johner did.

    All three of them carried baseball bats, and Brad also wore a pair of metal knuckle rings on one hand.

    The trio began to follow Amanda from a distance, but quickly closed the gap between them and her. She leaned against a wall to catch her balance once more and Todd took that moment to rush and stand in front of her, blocking her path. She turned to move around him, but Brad then stepped in her way. She turned around to face the way she came from, but Johner moved to block that path as well.

    They had her surrounded.

    “Let me by!” Amanda slurred, still quite heavily under the influence of large amounts of alcohol. Her drunken body formed a playful smile as she tried to push by.

    “Oh come now, sweet thing, surly you aren’t ready to go home quite yet,” Todd sneared. His voice lowered to a whisper as he went on, “You know, we can have our own party right here, ain’t nobody around to see.” He leaned in and slowly licked Amanda’s cheek. She tried to cower in disgust, but couldn’t move far.

    “Leave me alone…” she pleaded.

    “Oh come on!” Todd shouted, contrasting against his previous whisper. “We’re pretty good partiers, if I do say so myself.”

    He leaned in to her again, but Amanda slammed her foot forward, nailing Todd in the shin. He let out a yell and bent down to rub his shin. The girl cowered away from her screaming attacker, only to have Johner grab her by the hair and tilt her head back hard. She began to cry as Todd stood up.

    “Hold her still, Johner,” he ordered. “Time we teach this bitch how to respect us.”

    With Todd’s signal, Brad stepped closer to the girl, raising his glistening chrome bat high in the air. Just as it reached the pinnacle of it’s height and Brad was about to swing it down, a gloved hand flew out of the darkness from behind him and grabbed the back of the bat. The hand jerked the bat back, causing Brad to step back as well, not expecting the pull of force. The bat was yanked from Brad’s hands and flung, clattering to the ground and rolling away.

    The three punks turned their heads away from the pathetic drunk girl to look at the newcomer. The figure was dressed in black from head to toe. He wore a black baseball cap with a giant ‘N’ stenciled in white on it. Below that, the figure wore a pair of sunglasses and covering his mouth and nose was a black handkerchief bandage. Whatever parts of his face were still visible, were painted black with facepaint. The figure wore a black trenchcoat, opened up to reveal a dark gray shirt under that. Further down his body, he wore a pair of black jeans, toped off with a pair of black boots. On his hands was a pair of black bicycle gloves that covered simply his palm and the back of his hand, leaving his thumb and fingers free. *(Author’s note: For a rough picture, go here: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v497/A_Man_Apart8/Misc/Nightshade.bmp)

    “I highly suggest you let the girl go,” the figure spoke in a low voice.

    Todd, Johner, and Brad looked at each other and smiled. Things were about to get very interesting.

    Johner let his grip on the girl go. “Sure, whatever you say.” The three turned to face the figure, smiling in evil delight. Sure, they’d let the girl go, but it’d be worth it to teach this freak a lesson. Plus the girl was drunk as hell. If they were still in the mood for her after they were done with this guy, they could easily catch up.

    Brad took out a switchblade, popping it open. “You shouldn’t have taken my bat, asshole.”

    Johner and Brad rushed the figure, Brad jabbing his blade forward while Johner swiped his bat. The figure jumped in the air, flipped over their heads, and landed in a crouch behind Amanda. He stood and turned, grabbing the girl from behind. He twirled around, causing them both to turn. After they had turned, the figure let go and continued turning, so he was now facing the punks again with Amanda safe behind him.

    The figure jumped straight up in the air, swinging his foot out and kicking Brad right in the bottom of the chin. Brad’s head snapped back as he stumbled backwards and tripped on the curb, falling hard onto his ass.

    Johner ran with the bat and swung down just as the figure dodged to the side and slammed his elbow to the back of Johner’s head, causing him to stumble forward. Then the figure half-turned in the opposite direction from before, and elbowed the punk in the face. He swung his foot around the back of Johner’s foot in a hook, tripping him up and making him fall.

    Amanda, finally slightly more sober after her frightening encounter, couldn’t decide if the mystery figure would attack her as well. Realizing that she really didn’t want to take any changes by sticking around to find out, she turned and ran away down the street.

    The figure raised his foot up and slammed it down on Johner’s chest as hard as he could. Johner yelped in pain and let go of the bat. The Figure kicked the bat away and glared back down at him. “Get lost and make sure I never see you again,” he warned.

    Todd Godwin, who had smartly stayed out of the duel, took a step towards the figure, slightly amused by his display and skill. “Who are you?”

    The figure paused for a few seconds before replying in a near-whisper, “I’m Nightshade.”

    Nightshade turned and ran off into the darkness. As Brad and Johner picked themselves up, Todd stared into the darkness where Nightshade ran off into, realizing that there was now a new player on the field.

    Things were about to get very interesting indeed…

    ~CHAPTER 1~


    Early in the morning, however not nearly early enough, 17-Year-Old Scott Short ran across the damp main lawn of St. Wainluk High School, a light drizzle falling from the grey sky above. An overly-heavy bookbag jammed with thick textbooks was slung over his shoulders, while the heavy purple bags under his eyes were easily visible for all to see. He stopped and looked at the giant digital clock on the billboard of the school.

    Oh no! I’m late!

    Scott took off running again, rushing in between a couple that was about to kiss. “Watch it!” the male shouted to him.

    Scott ignored the comment and rushed up the steps, two at a time, and then inside the building. He rushed down the near-empty shining floor as he turned a corner, almost barreling into a group of chattering friends. He ignored rude comments that included a few words his mother would definitely not approve of, and he continued to run as fast as he could.

    After a couple minutes of running and dodging various students and teachers, Scott heaved a sigh of relief as he approached his first class. He stopped before entering, to straighten out his clothes and brush his hair back. He breathed in and opened the door.

    “And that’s why the DNA in the…” his Science teacher was in the process of explaining something to the class when he stopped and looked over at Scott.

    Oh great, Scott thought to himself gloomily as he slowly walked down an aisle of seats and sat down next to his best friend, Curtis Coates. He was really regretting sleeping in that morning.

    As Curtis glanced a disapproving look at his friend, the teacher picked up his speech from where he left off, many of the students taking notes. Scott took out his notebook and sighed, rubbing sleep from his eyes. He may have slept in, but he still hadn’t slept as much as he would have liked.

    He felt a tap on his arm, and Scott turned to looked at Curtis. “Slept in?” Curtis mouthed silently. Scott nodded his head and turned back around, not wishing to get in even more trouble.

    ***

    After class ended and all the students were piling out into the hall, Scott told Curtis to go on ahead and approached the teacher at the front of the room, nervous about what he was going to say.

    “Mr. Park, I just wanted to apologize,” Scott began.

    Mr. Park brushed his thick bushy hair back as he turned and looked at him. “You’re a bright kid, Mr. Short. However you constantly show up late and very often only half-finish assignments.”

    “I know, and I am trying really hard, but I also have a very demanding job that I’m keeping in balance with school and…”

    Mr. Park cut him off. “You’re in school to be educated and learn to eventually get a job that you enjoy. Whatever job you have now, that’s only for just now. Jobs like that’ll come and go in your life. But this – School - this is important. This will determine your life, Mr. Short. I can’t tell you how many students drop out of high school only to be living under an underpass because they didn’t want to finish. They didn’t want to find out what they wanted in life.”

    “It’s a little bit more complicated then that…” Scott trailed off.

    “How is that, Mr. Short?” Mr. Park wasn’t trying to be rude. He was generally interested. His students’ well-being was always important to him and if he was able to help out with any of their problems in any way, he tried to. It was his nature, not his obligation.

    “It’s kind of hard to explain.”

    “Look, I’ll give you a chance to make some extra credit to catch up, but you have to promise to show up.”

    Scott was overjoyed with that news! He was expecting some kind of verbal lashing or to be in some kind of trouble. But instead his teacher actually let it all slide and was trying to help him!

    “After the weekend,” Mr. Park explained. “I’ll give you a test on all the recent material. Study as much as you can in preparation for that test, and if you get eighty percent or above, I will give you some extra credit. I know this will be sketchy for you, but be there.”

    “Don’t worry, Mr. Park, you can count on it.”

    “I hope so,” Mr. Park turned, picking up his bag, and started walking away only to turn back around, “And may I suggest an earlier bedtime, Mr. Short? Your eyes give away your obvious lack of sleep.” And with that, the teacher went on his way.

    ***

    During the transition between classes, the hallways of St. Wainluk High School were packed with students of all ages going about their business. Some were at their lockers, others were talking with friends, some were heading to classes, and others were aimlessly walking.

    Scott walked into the main hallway from his previous class, and he yawned as he walked down the hall, heading in the direction of his locker. Since he had rushed to class in such a hurry, he hadn’t had time before, to stop by his locker.

    Scott turned around when he suddenly heard his name get called out above the noise of chatter and saw Ashleigh MacDonald walking up to him as she pushed through a sea of moving bodies. “Hey, Ashleigh,” Scott greeted back. Ashleigh was a year younger then Scott, and in Grade 10, which was the year below him. Scott had met her through a mutual friend that they had at the time. He and Ashleigh began to get close to each other the year before, and just when Scott gathered up the nerve to tell her about his feelings for her and ask her out, another student did first and Ashleigh began dating him. Scott retracted a bit, wanting to remove his feelings for Ashleigh. However even though they stopped hanging out as much as they originally did, he never did manage to remove those feelings.

    When Ashleigh got closer, she noticed the deep coloring of purple under Scott’s eyes. “Wow, you look horrible.

    “Gee, thanks,” Scott replied sarcastically as they continued down the hall.

    “Late night last night?”

    “Yeah, kind of,” Scott stayed vague on purpose. Of course he couldn’t tell her the full reason, obviously. “Couldn’t sleep.”

    “Well you know you can always call me on my cell, even late at night,” Ashleigh offered as she lightly bit her lower lip. “I don’t mind waking up and talking to you.”

    “Thanks, but I think I’ll pass,’ Scott replied, completely oblivious to Ashleigh’s secret feelings for him. Even though his feelings for her were so strong he could hardly stand it, he had given up on her having feelings for him a long time ago, and would not spend time entertaining the notion. “Unless you’re really boring on the phone and can put me to sleep,” he added jokingly.

    They both laughed for a minute, but stopped when Ashleigh waved to a group of her friends who had sighted her. “I’ll catch you later,” she said as she rubbed Scott’s shoulder with one hand. “Hope you sleep better tonight.”

    “See you around,” Scott replied as Ashleigh went and joined her friends. Scott stared after her as she and her friends disappeared around the corner. A hand fall on Scott’s shoulder and he turned to see Curtis standing there.

    “You should make your move,” Curtis sighed. “Don’t be a pussy. You missed your chance before, but now you have another one.”

    “What do you mean?” Scott asked, his interest piped.

    “Oh, you didn’t hear? Her and Rob broke up last night.”

    Scott’s mind began to race. What Ashleigh had said earlier about calling her if he ever needed to talk, had she actually been making a move when she had said that? Scott normally wouldn’t entertain the notion but under the circumstances, he couldn’t help it. “She just got out of a bad relationship,” Scott started to say, realizing that Ashleigh probably wasn’t in the mood for another relationship quite yet. “I don’t think she would want…”

    “Now would be the perfect time,” Curtis interrupted, cutting his friend off. “She’s hurt and needs a rock to lean against. You like her, obviously, and she seems to dig you too, so I say go for it.” The two stood in silence for a minute, only the chatter from other students in the hall keeping the area from going quiet. Then Curtis widened his eyes and hit himself in the head. “Oh by the way, Happy Birthday!” He couldn’t believe that he had almost forgot. He and Scott had been friends for a few years and he had never forgotten before.

    “Thanks,” Scott replied without much enthusiasm. He hadn’t been excited about his birthday for a couple years now, and people rarely ever gave him a reason to change his mind. He walked away, wanting to get to his locker and get to class. The last thing he wanted was to be late again.

    Curtis kept pace with him and noticed Scott’s sleep-deprived eyes for the first time. “Wow you look…”

    “Shut up,” Scott cut his friend off, already knowing the end of that sentence. They pushed through the crowds as they made their way down the hall. One of the many people they passed was one of the nerdiest kids to ever walk the halls of St. Wainluk High School: Mark Abbott. Curtis stopped to talk to him, so Scott stopped as well, trying not to smile. He was slightly amused with what was about to happen, as it was almost a daily ritual for Curtis to pick on Mark, yet Mark never seemed to learn.

    “Hey Mark, I’ve got a trick for you,” Curtis spoke as if he and Mark were long-time buddies.

    Mark turned and smiled, oblivious up the fact that Curtis had never been nice to him before and would probably not be this time either. “What is it?” Mark loved tricks. Growing up, he had attended more magic shows then he could count.

    Curtis took a seemingly normal quarter out from his pocket. “I bet you five bucks that you can’t roll this quarter from the top of your forehead down to your chin, without it leaving your face.”

    “That’s easy!” Mark shouted with joy in his high-pitched nasal-influenced voice, thinking that it would the easiest five bucks of his life.

    “I don’t know,” Curtis went on, voice oozing with sarcasm. “I tried it last night and I couldn’t do. It was really frustrating.” He gave the quarter to Mark, who put it on its side at the top of his forehead and rolled it down his face to the bottom of his chin. However, Mark was unaware that minutes before, when Curtis had been bored in class, he ran a pencil over the edge of the quarter and it was currently leaving a pencil-lead line right down the middle of his face.

    When he finished, Mark proudly beamed. “See? I told you it was easy!”

    “Gee Mark, you sure showed me,” Curtis tried his best not to laugh. He took his quarter back from Mark and walked away, Scott giving up on the blues and finally breaking a smile as he followed after his friend.

    “Hey, where’s my money?” Mark asked as he was left standing alone in the hall.

    “We never shook on it,” Curtis called back to him as they walked further away. As they neared Scott’s locker, Curtis took out a pencil and ran the lead over the side of the quarter once again.

    “I wonder why that kid doesn’t have any friends,” Scott said, more thinking out loud then starting an actual conversation with Curtis. “I mean, I know why we aren’t friends with him, but why isn’t he friends with the other nerds and geeks?”

    “I was told it was because he lied to them a lot,” Curtis answered, thinking that Scott had been talking to him and was expecting an answer. “Made up stories about himself so he would come across as better then he really is. They found out.” Then as an after-thought, Curtis added on, “Mark has always been a looser. Born that way I think.”

    Scott and Curtis both chuckled as they reached Scott’s locker.

    ***

    In St. Wainluk there was a special club. One that only people in the underworld of crime knew existed. To anyone else, it was mere urban legend and nobody actually thought it was real. However, if it wasn’t real, then why was ‘Truth’ by Nerd playing loudly throughout the ‘imaginary’ building, causing the speakers to boom with base?

    This specific club, known as ‘The Snake Pit’ to those who knew about its existence, was a kind of hidden refuge for thugs, street punks, thieves, and other criminals of all kinds and all ages. Throughout the room were even some ‘dirty’ cops mingling within the crowd. Heavy cigar and cigarette smoke clung around the room. There were dozens of tables set up, some used for various card games, others used for dealing drugs, and there were booth seats for just sitting and having conversations in. There were no windows or any way for outside light to shine through into the criminals’ personal club. There was a bar set up at one end of the room and nude dancers dancing in cages with neon bars of all colors. Strobe and neon lights flashed all over the room.

    A chubby but muscular man, a man famous to both the underworld and law enforcement, a man named Jonas Becker, sat on the red leather of one of the booth seats, two beautiful topless young women on either side of him, cuddling up against him.

    Todd Godwin walked over and slid into the seat opposite Jonas. Jonas stretched out his hand, offering Todd a cigarette. Todd took one out of the crumpled pack and put it in his mouth, using his own metal Zippo to light it. He leaned back as he breathed in and then out on the smoke, putting his Zippo away again.

    “I hear you got some news on this little boy playing hero that’s disrupting a lot of my business,” Jonas stated.

    “That’s right Mr. Becker, I…”

    The Crimelord cut Todd off, “Please, call me Jonas.”

    Todd continued from where he was cut off, “I had a run-in with him last night. Me and my crew. The little son of a bitch took both of them out in just a couple minutes, and you know how tuff they are.”

    “Indeed,” Jonas’ interested was brought up a few notches. Todd’s gang was indeed one of the toughest around. “Is it true what they say? About him being just some kid?”

    “He certainly looked and sounded like he was no older then eighteen at the most.”

    Jonas shrugged, no longer as interested as he had been seconds before. “Then it’s just a fad. Some pimply comic book fanboy geek that wants to feel like one of his great pathetic idols. It’ll pass as soon as his fad ends. Next he’ll probably be a huge anime fan and staple his eyes wide open.” He paused, planning on ending his say there, but thought about something else and decided to continue. “Until then, he could pose a bit of trouble. He’s already a minor nuisance. Does the bugger have a name?”

    Todd breathed in and then out on the cigarette before replying with, “He calls himself Nightshade.”

    Jonas nodded his head, thinking things over. “Judging from reports of the fucker, it would seem he only comes out at night. I want you to recruit more members into your gang. Hell, I’ll even supply you with some. Then I want you to go looking for him. It shouldn’t be too hard. Just cause some kind of ruckus and I’m sure he’ll come straight to you like a moth to a flame.”

    Jonas stopped and turned to pay more attention to the two naked girls beside him, however Todd opened his mouth to speak. Jonas however, had a feeling as to what he would say and turned back to him, cutting him off before he had the chance to speak. “And you don’t need to worry about the pigs. I have most of them under my payroll, so they won’t get in the way.” Jonas paused before continuing on. “Once you have him, crush him. He’s only a boy after all. He may be strong, but he can’t be that smart.”

    “Yes sir. He’ll be as good as ours,” Todd nodded his head as he slammed his fist on the table.

    “Make sure that he is. Now, can I buy you a dance?” Jonas raised his hand and snapped his fingers as Todd smiled crookedly. Within seconds a nude dancer, seemingly slightly older then the two Jonas had with him, walked over and sat on Todd’s lap, working into the beginnings of an exotic lap dance.

    Jonas turned and began making out with the two women on his sides.

    ~CHAPTER 2~


    After school ended for the day, Scott and Ashleigh walked down a sidewalk together, the school far behind them. The bright sun shone down on their bodies, the light having long-since chased away the dreariness of the day.

    “You don’t have to walk me home you know,” Ashleigh smiled, amused at Scott’s recent boost of confidence.

    “I know, but I have to walk past your house on my way home anyway,” Scott replied, trying his best to cover up his feelings for her. As far as he knew, Ashleigh didn’t know about those feelings and he didn’t want her to until the right time. Of course in reality she was able to see right through him like a clear puddle of water. “And I like talking to you,” he added, deciding to make a slight little move on her. “I can talk to you about things that I can’t with anyone else about, not even Curtis.”

    Ashleigh’s smile grew as they continued down the street. “So what do you do for fun these days?” She asked, probing Scott for more information about himself. They hadn’t really hung out in about a year, and she realized earlier that day that she didn’t really know much about him.

    “Oh you know, this and that. Dressing up as a superhero and saving the day mostly.” Despite his overly-sarcastic tone, Scott was in fact, not quite lying. As he expected, Ashleigh laughed, picking up on Scott’s sarcasm. Scott smiled at her laughter.

    Ashleigh bit her lower lip and decided to take the next step and make her own move on Scott. “Well you know, if you ever want to get together and do something sometime, just give me a call or come on over. I’m usually home.” she paused, and then added on as a joke to go with, what she thought was, Scott’s joke. “Besides, I could probably use a dose of ‘saving the day’ to spice up my social life after Rob and I broke up.”

    Scott suddenly turned solemn and proceeded with caution, not sure if the subject was a touchy one for Ashleigh. “Yeah, I’m sorry to hear about that.”

    “Don’t be,” Ashleigh replied to Scott’s surprise. “Rob was a controlling dushbag bastard. I’m happier now that I’m not with him.” By this point they were in front of Ashleigh’s two-story house and they had come to a stop. “Well this is my house,” Ashleigh stated, changing the topic. “I guess I’ll talk to you later on.”

    “Yeah, definitely,” Scott said back. Ashleigh headed inside her house. As the door closed, cutting her off from his view, Scott sighed, wishing he had said more instead of just standing there like an idiot.

    He turned and continued on to his own house, putting his hands into his pockets.

    ***

    Fifteen minutes later Scott neared his own home, watching some little kids that were playing in the front yard of the house next to his, running through a water sprinkler. Scott remembered those days when he was that age and kept trying to drag his father by the hand through the water. Oh, how he missed the simpler days when the worst thing he had to worry about was if he could snatch a free cookie before supper or not.

    He turned the corner and walked on a pathway cutting through the grassy lawn, leading to his house. He walked through the main door and removed his shoes in the front porch. “I’m home!” he called out as he entered the hall.

    Raptor, Scott’s small black mixed-breed dog, came running instantly and jumped at Scott. When Scott leaned down to pet Raptor, the dog licked his face as if he had never seen his master in years. Scott laughed at his pet’s playful greeting. “Ok boy, down,” he chuckled.

    When Raptor allowed Scott to continue into the house, he walked into the kitchen with Raptor following close behind him, and sighted his parents sitting at the family dinning table. They turned to look at him as he neared.

    “Oh Scott, you’re home!” his mother exclaimed happily.

    “Happy Birthday, son,” his father greeted. Scott thanked him with as much enthusiasm as he could muster. Truth be told, his birthday didn’t really excite him anymore, and it didn’t help that he hadn’t gotten many presents, or anything good anyway, for years now.

    “How was school?” his mother asked as she did every day when he came home. He doubted if she actually meant it anymore, or if it was just habit for her to ask now.

    “The usual,” he replied, shrugging. “Got a little bit of homework to do tonight.”

    “We only got you one present this year,” Scott’s father announced. Scott probably would have been disappointed by that news if he hadn’t already given up all hope for future birthdays. His father continued, “However I think it’s something you’ll really like.”

    “Wicked,” Scott replied, again with fake enthusiasm. As much as he could just hardly wait to see what it was they got him, he first had something he needed to take care of. “Just let me use the bathroom first. I’ve really been needing to go for the longest time.” Scott dropped his bookbag onto the floor and went down the hall to the bathroom.

    Once the door was closed, he leaned close to the mirror and checked his eyes, sighing with frustration. The purple bags under his eyes looked even heavier and darker then earlier. His parents were sure to notice if he didn’t do something about it soon. He knew he had to get some sleep that night, but still hadn’t quite figured out how he would manage that.

    He opened the door and headed back out, not being able to wait to get his birthday over and done with. He returned to the kitchen and found his parents standing and smiling. God, those smiles really creeped the bejesus out of him. He knew his parents meant well, but why on God’s green Earth did they have to be cursed with the scariest smiles known to man?

    “Your mother and I knew how much you wanted one ever since Uncle Rodney taught you how to use one,” his father spoke up. “Luckily my dealership got a supply of them in just the other day.”

    Scott looked at his parents, a huge genuine smile forming on his face. His father was the proud owner of a vehicle dealership in town, one of two actually. If his present was what he was thinking it was, then this was going to turn out to actually be his best birthday ever. There was only one vehicle he was ever taught how to ride by his favorite uncle.

    His face radiated with uncontrollable joy. “Is it what I think it is?” Scott asked, nearly hopping up and down.

    “Go check for yourself,” his father beamed with pride and joy. “In the garage.” He knew how disappointed his son had been with previous birthdays, and vowed the year before to make up for it this year. He specifically ordered the present in from Japan himself.

    Scott turned and rushed to the garage door, his parents close behind him. He opened the door and walked into the room, flicking on the dim light. A white sheet covered something big in the middle of the room, that had not been there last time Scott had been in the garage.

    Mr. Short moved past his son and went to stand beside the object. His wife made a corny fake drum roll noise, causing Scott to embarrassingly roll his eyes, as Mr. Short reached and pulled back the sheet, revealing a brand new shining black motorcycle underneath.

    Scott’s eyes lit up as if he was the inventor of the very first light bulb, and discovered that it actually worked. “Wow,” was all he was able to muster. Scott’s father reached down to the floor and pulled up a black helmet. He wiped a speck of dirt off and tossed it to Scott, who easily caught it in his hands.

    “Take it for a spin.”

    A large smile broke across Scott’s face.

    ***

    Ashleigh sat at her small desk in her bedroom, doing homework. She sighed and squirmed in her seat, stuck on a particular question. Chemistry usually had been a pretty decent subject for her. She wasn’t great in it, but she was never bad in it either. Up until their newest chapter however. It had become her hardest subject and she couldn’t wait to be through with it.

    After a few seconds, she yelled to let out some frustration and threw her pen across the room. She had no idea if Scott was good at it, but he did do it the year before so she was thinking about giving him a call and finding out, when her thoughts were interrupted by the doorbell ringing.

    “Can you get that, dear?” her mother called out to her from her sewing room down the hall.

    Ashleigh got up and made her way downstairs and to the front door as three knocks sounded throughout the lower floor of the house. She opened the door and was surprised to see Scott standing there with a helmet in his hands.

    “Let’s go for a ride,” he smiled, confident in himself.

    “A ride?” Ashleigh was confused and Scott noticed that in her eyes. “I didn’t know you had a car.”

    Scott moved to the side. His face lit up with joy once more when he saw Ashleigh’s expression when she saw the motorcycle. She was speechless. “I got it as a birthday present,” he explained.

    “It’s your birthday?” Ashleigh asked. Scott nodded and she was shocked that she never knew. She immediately felt bad for not having wished him a happy birthday earlier. “Happy Birthday. Sorry,” She apologized. “If I had known I would have gotten you something.”

    Scott didn’t care about that kind of stuff. There was only one thing he wanted from her at that moment, and he already asked her for it. “Don’t worry about it. So you want go for a ride?” he repeated.

    Ashleigh smiled. “Sure, just let me get my jacket.” She disappeared inside for a few seconds and then re-appeared wearing a short black leather jacket with brown fur lining the collar, and which ended right below her ribcage. They walked to the motorcycle and Ashleigh climbed on behind Scott and tightly wrapped her arms around his waist.

    Scott grinned to himself as he closed his visor and started the bike up. Maybe if things kept going as good as they had been lately, he’d soon move on to asking her out on a date. Scott pushed the thought out of his mind for the time being as they zoomed off and he brought her around the town on his motorcycle.

    They zoomed past the high school and down dozens of streets, passing by houses and an assortment of other buildings. Along the way, Scott sped up once in awhile, causing Ashleigh to scream in excitement, but then also sometimes had to slow down due to heavy traffic. They even had to come to a stop at a gas station once so Scott could refuel the motorcycle.

    By the time that late afternoon turned into late evening and the two of them had ridden through most of the town, Scott brought Ashleigh back to her house, safe and sound. Scott removed his helmet as Ashleigh stepped off the bike.

    “That was fun,” Ashleigh ran her hands through her hair, still smiling with excitement and adrenaline.

    “I had a great time,” Scott smiled back.

    “Me too,” Ashleigh replied.

    Scott planned on waiting awhile before asking his next question, which was why he was just as shocked as Ashleigh was when he actually said, “Go out with me.”

    “What?”

    Scott fought to control what came out next. He couldn’t back down now, so his only option was to continue on. “Tomorrow night. Go with me to the movies.” He waited for what felt like an eternity to hear her answer.

    Ashleigh chuckled to herself, knowing right away what her answer would be. She just wanted to wait a few seconds to torture Scott. “Ok,” her smile grew even wider. “I have gymnastics right after school though.”

    “Yeah, that’s ok,” Scott replied, relived and thrilled with the answer he got. This was his best birthday ever! “I have Tae-Kwon-Do right after school too. We’ll go to the late showing.”

    “We should go for another ride too,” Ashleigh suggested.

    “Definitely.”

    The two stared at each other in silence. Scott thought about kissing her, but realized it was probably too soon. Ashleigh however, wanted Scott to kiss her, but also wanted him to do it when he was ready. When she realized that time was not now, she finally broke the silence by saying, “Good-Night, Scott.”

    “ ‘Night, Ashleigh,” Scott said back. When Ashleigh turned and went inside her house, Scott put his helmet on and drove off back to his house. He was even happier now then when he had first left, which at the time, he thought would have been impossible.

    3/25/2006 3:28:55 PM

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