Pick Your Poison

Chapter 1: Why I Spy

Pick Your Poison

Liam Thomson, Staff Writer

Whew! Finally, a break! The weekend is underway.

I was in Paris a few months ago on a class field trip. That may seem far in the past, but a lot happened there. First, I finally realized Carol’s long standing crush on me, and second, I foiled a superweapon that would have destroyed a lot more than half of the city.

I should probably elaborate, since those are just random words in the ears of others. Starting with the first event, Carol Astor had been nice to me from the first day I attended Mangrove High. And she’s a totally pretty girl, super popular, straight-A student. Some people thought that she was not someone for a nerd like me to hang out with. But she seemed okay; she became my kind-of friend, and stood up for me when I was bullied because of my autism (Yes, I have autism. Don’t judge me). She didn’t mind my looks- I didn’t really look handsome in any way, shape or form-or the way I looked at things–which was sometimes annoyingly positive. And okay, there were a few times when I went on a date with her, or she kissed me on the cheek–romantic gestures that I didn’t think amounted to anything. Sure, they made my serotonin levels rise, and I got a little suspicious, but let’s face it: Why would someone so beautiful and popular go out with me? Turns out, I was wrong.

The second part–that’s a little harder to explain. In the beginning of my first semester at Mangrove High, one of my dad’s friends drove me to school, where we happened to be taking off for a trip to McLean, Virginia, where CIA headquarters are located. Yeah, the man who drove me to school was working for them, now he’s my handler, and I’m starting to think that he orchestrated that whole trip just so the Company could recruit me. In other words, I’m a spy–codename Tomcat.

So I joined. The training was hard, of course, and so were the instructive classes and demonstrations–I could barely pay attention. But the really cool part was when they introduced me to the gadgets, like a watch that turned into a frisbee, or a safe-cracking Hydro Flask. I got permission to have all of the gadgets that the CIA’s given me, yet they still come up with more. Perhaps the coolest thing, though, is that to make the secret agent experience more adaptable, they actually started working on real modified cars, something they hadn’t done before. I didn’t get to drive them until I got my licence, but still! Cool!

The whole reason I was recruited was because of my autism, actually. I think differently from others–some call it a perseverative thought process, if you want to get fancy–so that supposedly makes me a genius. Probably not as smart as my seventh-grade sister Maggie, who’s taking calculus courses at Harvard, but still smart. It made me feel good; having a few people outside my family who embraced my autism instead of scorning it.

In Paris, my mission had been to investigate a terrorist attack on the Eiffel Tower, something unprecedented. In the end, the Tower was reconstructed as a doomsday device that could destroy cities; plus, the weapon’s recoil alone would have shattered half of Paris. Luckily, I stopped it, but it was close; I had to leave a date with Carol on early notice because of the mission, and my car was also ambushed on its way to the hotel (The driver was one of the bad guys, it turned out)–with Carol in it.

That was over, though, and now my one and only mission was to enjoy my spring break like a normal teenager. No distractions, no homework–everything was peaceful–

“Reese!” Yep. Knew that was going to happen. For some reason, Maggie needed me to come down to her room in the basement every ten or so minutes because of either a proofreading, mission alert, or she wanted to give me girl advice. I really hoped the summons was for a different reason this time.

But it was not, unfortunately. When I entered the basement, Maggie was sitting there, as usual, staring at all her monitors and TVs mounted on the wall above her desk. Maggie was also in on the secret that I was a CIA agent, and acted as my informant and contact. She had never been in the field as of yet, but that day was coming.

“Reese, Hercules wants to see you,” she said.

Hercules? He was the guy who recruited me, as well as one of the best field agents in the CIA; he also bore a close resemblance to Oscar Isaac. It was usually him, if not Director Burns or Dr. Astor that told me something was going on somewhere in the world.

“Tomcat, I’m glad to see you again.” Herc’s face appeared on the monitor. “The Australian Intelligence Community has reported something strange happening in the Great Barrier Reef. They–we–want you to check it out.”

As a spy, I had traveled all over the world; France, Borneo, Iraq–you name it–but I hadn’t been to Australia yet. I didn’t know a lot about the country, except that it was home of the Sydney opera house (named for one of its cities), the capital was Canberra, it was a colony of England at one point, it has an expansive desert, and the country/continent is home to lots of venomous snakes. Okay, so I know a lot about Australia.

“What’s the sitch?” I said, quoting a line from Kim Possible.

“The situation,” said Hercules, “is that a large ship was seen near the Great Barrier Reef. When it left, the coral structure under it was completely destroyed. That’s all that was given to me.”

“Okay, how am I getting there?” I asked.

“The usual,” said Herc. “What were you expecting?”

I smiled. With Herc–and the rest of the CIA–you never knew what to expect.