Sunday, December 23, 2007

It Was All Downhill from the Doritos

"It Was All Down Hill From The Doritos"
by Miranda von Salis

“Crunch, Crunch, Crunch.”

The sound of poor innocent tortilla chips being smashed was the only thing to break the silence. Max turned towards Greg and wished that he would put down the half-empty bag of Doritos and pay attention to his surroundings for once in his life. Greg refused. In all his fake-cheesy glory, he sat and munched his chips.

Max was glad that in the dark of the room he couldn’t see the bright orange powder that must have been covering everything. He hated chips, Doritos most of all. The sound they made rustling in the bag and being eaten, the color and shape that people so eagerly crammed into their mouths. The smell alone was almost enough to make him sick.

“Shhh…,” Max warned, exasperated. “They’ll hear you and we’ll get sent back to assembly.”

Greg continued to roll the mass of half chewed food around although, by now, it was too soggy to make more then the occasional squelch. His reasoning was, “How could a few chips ruin our plan for ditching?” The plan was already brilliantly concocted: hiding in a dark empty classroom for the last period of the day. Greg himself had created it and he was in no way worried about being found out. “Plus, it isn’t as if being busted for stuff isn’t already my main hobby.” He thought smiling.

“Hey, I didn’t need to let you in on my master plan," he told Max. "Your talkin’ is what’s going to get us caught anyway.”

Time continued to pass in silence. Eventually Greg ran out of chips and fell asleep; soon Max followed suit. A couple hours later Greg gave Max a quick punch to the ribs.

“Hey slacker, get up! What time is it? You were sleeping on your goddamn watch.” Max rolled over and groggily found the buttons that lit up the face of his watch.

“What’s wrong with you? It’s still like 11:30.” He rolled over to settle back into sleep. Greg sat there for a moment and Max thought that he might finally be quiet, but no, Greg was thinking.

“Hey Max,” he said at last, “before you fall back into happy-dream-land, it was after lunch when we came in here right?” Max rolled back around and in the dark they both looked at each other. Then, at the same time, they both bounded for the door. Through the little window they could see that the halls were empty. Max unlocked the door from the inside thanking God for two-sided locks. They stepped out into the hall.

“How are we going to get out?” asked Greg, panicking. “They don’t have normal locks on the front doors and there is that pull-down gate thingy!”

“Calm down.” said Max. “You always get us into problems and I always get us out. We’ll call home from the phone in the office and my parents will get the guy with the keys to come and get us. See? What would you do without me, huh?”

“Fine, jeez, you don’t have to sound so happy about it though. I mean, we’re trapped in school on a Friday night, literally. This is like the nightmare of my life. Can we grab some food too? I’m starving.”

Max rolled his eyes.

“You eat like two tons of food a day. Go grab some from the cafeteria vending machines. You got money?”

Greg nodded.

“OK then, go get food for both of us, please not Doritos, and meet me in the office. I know you know where both those places are. They’re like your whole day.” Greg made a face at the last comment but hurried off.

“Happy hunting!” called Max after him. Now alone in the hall, Max looked around and started walking through the building toward the office.

It was dark. The only light was glowing creepily from the "EXIT" signs. The halls echoed with each of Max's fast-paced steps. He emerged into the central lobby and surveyed the scene. If lobbies were like the Wild West tumbleweeds would have been rolling all around. Max hated being alone like this. Part of him wanted to run upstairs to the cafeteria and find Greg but he knew it would give Greg reason to make fun of him for the rest of his life, no matter how long it ended up being.

“I’ll just call home and tell them to come and get me.” he said out loud, his voice bouncing off the walls and floor, ringing in his head. He made a beeline to the office door. Just as he was about to grab the knob of the big ancient door that was unique to the school office, he...

Whipped around and saw to his amazement an army of miniature robots!

I use the term army lightly because not only were they not particularly scary looking but they did not seem very organized either. Still, it was quite a shock for Max who had just convinced himself that all his anxiety was in his head. When he saw them he grabbed the knob and flew into the room, slamming the door behind him. He stood there shaking for a moment before deciding that now was the perfect time for him to get out of this nuthouse. He began searching for the phone that he knew had to be somewhere. Soon he found it hidden stealthily on the secretary’s desk and dialed his number. After two rings the line went dead. “Now what do I do?!” thought Max, beginning to panic.

He turned to go find Greg when he noticed a swarm of little metallic arms reaching toward him from the thin crack under the door. There was a loud CRACK as a small chunk of the door was broken into the room. “Holy shit!” thought Max, “They’re trying to get in!” Part of his mind had been hoping that they would be nice robots but now all his hopes shattered. He grabbed the first thing he could find from the desk behind him.

Brandishing his three hole punch he strode over to the door. In one movement he opened it and plunged into the mass of little bodies. As he made a break for the stairs he was sweeping his weapon of choice in front of him, clearing a path. As he mounted the stairs, taking them two at a time, he briefly thought, “I hope Greg is dealing with these things better than I am. Better yet, I hope they haven’t found him at all.” When he got to the second floor cafeteria, he found that was not the case. Greg was sprawled across one table and two chairs and was not moving. Max rushed over to him.

“Greg? Greg!” he shouted, shaking him. “OhmyGod!” he thought, “he’s dead!!! Things couldn’t get any worse. Damn him always being hungry!”

Max didn’t know if he was more sad or angry at Greg for leaving him alone in this situation. He saw, sprinkled around the table, lots of little metal chunks that looked as if they were once a functioning robot platoon. Next to Greg lay a battered plastic tray from the food line. He looked back to his former best friend and said to him, “This is crazy! I'm sorry, but I need to get out of here!”

With that he jogged over to the stairs and witnessed the complex procedure of a hundred or so eight-inch robots getting up a flight of stairs. “Ok,” he thought, frenzied, “not that way.”

He turned and went back over to the table containing Greg. His eyes searched the room for possible forms of exit. They fell upon a window way in the back of the room. Max went over to it and peered out. He noticed, as he never had before, that all the windows in the back row were practically on street level. A doable jump although there was a line of trash bags along the wall.

“Thank God for them building this school on a steep hill.” Max thought as he made up his mind. Quickly, he opened the window and turned around. Walking back to Greg he thought how impractical his plan was. Just then he saw the robots emerging from the stairwell and the race began. They ran towards him and he ran towards Greg. He won. Scooping up Greg he silently wished that Greg had liked eating just a little less. He rearranged him over his shoulders and began to sprint to the open window, the robots in hot pursuit. After about three strides he realized that he could not outrun them. At least, not with the extra weight. In a split-second decision he dropped Greg and kept going at almost twice the speed. Max climbed to the windowsill and looked back only once. Only some of the robots had gotten distracted and were now dragging Greg back towards the stairs.

“I hope he isn’t mad at me,” whispered Max as he jumped out the window. He landed on the piles of trash and slid into a puddle. He didn’t miss a beat and started running at top speed though the empty late-night streets. He was relieved to escape the torture of that building but the thought was bittersweet because deep down he knew that he would have to be back at eight am on Monday.