Author – J.D. McKay
“Catch!” Ollie ducked just in time, glasses sliding down over his nose. Sam’s paper airplane swooped by and hit Ms. Myrtle on the arm. She paused to glare, then picked it up and walked over and dropped it in the recycler. She walked over, took away the rest of Sam’s paper, pointed to his printing book and walked away. Sam sighed in relief. He’d been sure he was in big trouble!
“Pssst.” Caleigh poked Sam in the back. He turned as she brushed the curl of blonde hair out of her face. It didn’t matter how her mom tied it up, braided it, or pinned it down, that curl always popped back out.
“No throwing airplanes in class! You’ll poke someone in the eye.”
Sammy laughed, “no I won’t, besides, they don’t really hurt.”
“Oh Yeah?” Caleigh replied, “My sister had to wear an eye patch for three weeks after she got hit with a paper airplane.”
Sammy gaped. “Really? No way, you’re making that up!”
Caleigh shook her head and got back to work. She was drawing a picture of her family in space suits.
Sammy picked up his pencil, really determined to do his letters today. It was the second week of Kindergarten, and he really wanted to do well.
Mrs. Myrtle played tune on a small xylophone.
“Alright everyone, put your drawing books away and join me on the carpet.”
Sammy was the last to the carpet, just like every other time. He didn’t understand how everyone else cleaned up so fast! He was lost in thought and didn’t see Artie’s foot until he tripped on it, nearly kicking Carrie as he caught his balance
“Thank you for joining me so quickly and quietly! Tomorrow is a special day; it is the big leaving ceremony. Captain Peterson asked me to find two responsible students to help him with the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Hands shot up and shouts of “Mememememe” or just grunts of excitement filled the room.
“Hush now, put your hands down. I know you are all responsible children, so I put your names into this basket. I’m going to choose two at random.”
Ms. Myrtle made a big show out of mixing up the names. She pulled out two pieces of paper.
“Our lucky winners are...Sam and Oliver! After lunch the principal, Mr. Wallace, will come and get you to explain what’s going to happen. The rest of you will be on your best behaviour at the assembly. Some very important people will be there, including the United Nations Minister of Space Exploration!”
The bell rang for recess and the kids shot up and rushed to the cloakroom. Mrs. Myrtle made a mental note to practice calmly getting ready for recess. A crash followed by loud crying from the cloakroom brought her back to reality.
“Pssshhhhhhhwahhhhhhhhh boooom!” Sammy said, jumping up from the ground, pretending he as a rocket ship. He launched right into the recess supervisor. He fell on his bottom and sat stunned. Ollie walked over and helped him up.
“Sorry Mr. Sachar, it was an accident.” Sammy said once he was on his feet.
“Apology accepted, this time. But next time I’ll have to pick you up and launch you into outer space myself!
Sammy ran off, laughing. Ollie stayed by Mr. Sakar.
“Did you know that it’s going to take 187 years to get to Proxima Centauri?” Ollie asked the recess monitor. “That’s 68255 days! My dad helped me figure out on the computer.”
Mr. Sachar smiled at Ollie. “It sounds like you’ve been learning a lot about the trip! It’s always good to know where you are going. Well except when you are going to the dentist!”
Ollie shook his head. Mr. Sakar said the strangest things.
“Yup. My dad read me the plan for the trip. Fifteen million people are coming, that’s more people than the whole school!”
“I think you mean fifteen thousand, and you are right, that’s a lot of people! It sounds like you’ll have plenty of new friends to make. On the trip!
“Don’t be silly, we’ll be asleep the whole time!” replied Ollie.
“Ha-ha, that’s right! You really have been doing your homework! You’d better go get some exercise in, here, have a ball, I saved one just for you.
Ollie looked at the dirty, slightly deflated ball and said, “No thanks, I’m going to watch the soccer game so I can count the goals.”
Ollie took off and left Mr. Sachar smiling.
The Principal’s office was...busy. He’d covered every wall space with brightly coloured posters. “Think happy and you’ll be happy!” and “Kindness doesn’t grow on trees; it grows in hearts!” One bulletin board was covered with art kids gave him. You could tell because most of them were pictures of houses. His bookshelves were overflowing, and his was desk piled up with folders and loose paper. Sammy and Ollie sat waiting for Mr. Wallace to come back.
“Here you go boys, the official ribbon cutting scissors!”
The tall man held a brown box in his hands. He placed it on the low, round table in the middle of the room. He opened it an pulled out the biggest pair of scissors the kids had ever seen.
“Cool!” Sammy said. “Can I try them?”
Mr. Wallace laughed. “Actually, yes! I’m going to show you boys how to hold them and we are going to practice cutting this piece of ribbon. Tomorrow at the ceremony Captain Peterson will give his speech then you two will help him cut the ribbon to celebrate the beginning of our great journey!”
The next 15 minutes was full of fumbling around and failing to cut ribbon. Sammy kept pulling too hard to the side while Ollie pushed up. Finally they managed to cut a ribbon three times in a row.
“Well, I’m glad we managed that without any lost fingers. You have no idea how much paperwork I’d have to do. I’m happy to say that you two are ready to go. Now, I’m trusting you with the scissors. Bring them to Ms. Myrtle. She can lock them in her cupboard, so you have them for tomorrow. Off you go now.”
He closed the box, snapped the latch in place and handed it to the children. It was big enough they each had to take an end and wobble down the hallway awkwardly. When they got back to class Ms. Myrtle told them to put it on her desk and join the class for a story.
“Today I’m reading you a non-fiction book about space travel. Here we have a diagram of a spaceship very much like the Tyson which will take us all the way to Proxima Centauri in.”
“Why is it so lumpy?” Carrie asked.
The ship was a long skinny cylinder labelled “The Spine” with a series of 5 rings spaced along it’s length.
“Please remember to raise your hand first Carrie. The rings are there to creative gravity. Remember last week when we did the experiment with the bucket and golf balls?”
Sammy stood and mimed swinging a bucket in big circles.
“That’s right Sam, but please sit down. Just like the golf balls stayed in the bucket when I swung it in circles, even though it was almost upside-down, the rings will spin you in circles, keeping your feet on the ground.”
She continued to read through the page, answering questions. And there were a lot of questions! You’d think these kids just found out they were leaving Earth forever!
The next day the class all lined up for the big ceremony. The auditorium was packed full. 6 classroom groups, many parents, staff, and important people in suits lined up to be part of this event. Captain Ephrem Peterson stood at the podium and raised his hand for silence.
“The day after tomorrow we leave Earth, likely forever. We stand on the shoulders of every human who ever lived. They hold us up so we might finally leave humanities home and make a new one amongst the stars. Fifteen thousand people from all over 6arth spent the last 5 years preparing for this trip. Now it’s time to cut the ribbon and announce the start of the trip! I have with me two of our youngest space explorers from Mrs. Myrtle’s Kindergarten class here to help me. Oliver and Sam, please bring the scissors.”
He turned and looked at the boys, now with a look of panic on their faces.
“Boys, where are the scissors?” He said, hand over the microphone so the audience couldn’t hear.
Sam spoke first.
“In the classroom!”
“Please go get them now. And Hurry!” He turned back to the microphone and uncovered it. “Sorry about the slight mix-up folks, we are going to hear from the United Nations Minster of finance Ms...”
“Hurry up Ollie!” Sam yelled as he ran to the classroom.
“We aren’t supposed to run in the hall!”
Ollie yelled back, running to catch up. Ollie rounded the corner into the classroom and found Sam running in circles.
“They aren’t here! Ms. Myrtle put them on her table, but they are gone!”
“Let’s look in the lost and found” said Ollie.
The boys dashed out of the classroom and almost ran into two men in black suits wearing sunglasses.
The tall man said.
“What are you doing here?”
The shorter man said, eyes scanning the hall for other threats.
“We have to find the scissors for the ribbon cutting! Can you help us?” Sammy answered.
“Yeah, they are 47cm long and the handles are 18cm wide. I measured them. My dad taught me how.”
The short man looked at them confused. “No one is supposed to be in the halls right now! Wait, you lost the scissors?!? Who put 6-year-olds in charge of such an important job? If I was in charge, there would have been an entire security team protecting them!”
“Uh...The principal told us to. Can you help?”
The short man tapped his year and mumbled into a small button in his collar.
“Yes, two boys. Alright. yup.”
He turned to the tall man. “Alright Simmons, you check the perimeter, I’ll get these boys sorted out.” He looked down at the boys, “Where should we start looking?”
Sammy pointed down the hall. “They might be in the lost and found!” He didn’t wait for a reply, just started skipping away. The man followed; Ollie close behind. A minute later they were standing in front of a shelf filled with clothes, water bottles, unmatched shoes and one very large cowboy hat.
“Some of this looks brand new! Why does no one come looking for it?” The short man said.
“I dunno.” Said Ollie.
“You kids these days, so irresponsible! You can’t be as careless on the ship; resources will be limited!” Said the man. The boys weren’t listening.
Sammy started shoving things around on the shelf, knocking shoes to the floor. “Oh! The space defenders game I lost, cool!” Sammy turned it on and started to play.
Ollie poked him. “Focus Sammy. The scissors aren’t here, where else could they be?”
“What about the office? Someone might have found them and brought them to the office!” Sammy’s dashed off again and got about 10 steps before turning and yelling “This way!”
Halfway to the office the short man stopped at a door and held up a hand. He shout-whispered “Stop! Do you hear that sound?” Sammy bounced back and forth on his feet trying to listen.
“I don’t hear anything.” Said Ollie. “We should go.”
Just then, a loud Clang came from the other side of the door. The Man turned the handle and shoved it open with one hand, the other hand reaching into his coat for something.
“Annie, what are you doing in here?” Ollie asked. The small girl stood still, a look of surprise and ‘oh no, I’m caught’ fear on her face.
“I was trying to finish my art! I need to cut a big piece of paper off the roll, but all I could find were these stupid giant scissors. Can you help me?”
Sammy zipped into the room and grabbed the scissors off the floor. “Here they are, we didn’t lose them, she stole them!”
“I didn’t steal them, I borrowed them!” She replied.
“Children!” The short man shouted. “We have the scissors, lets get you back to the auditorium. Miss, you’ll come with us.”
“...three, two, one, cut!” Ollie and Sam cut the ribbon and the room exploded in a cheer. Principal Wallace took the scissors from the boys and sent them to join their class. The Captain raised a hand for silence.
“We all have a lot of work to do over the next few days. I wish you good luck, I’ll see you in orbit!”
The tall man and the short man stepped out of the back of the stage to escort the Captain off the stage to his waiting car. The Short man spotted Ollie and nodded at him.
As the classes lined up and filed out of the auditorium Ollie tapped Sam on the shoulder.
“That was a close one! I hope we don’t get in trouble.”
“Me too! I wonder who that man was that helped us?” Ollie replied.
“I think he was the Captain’s bodyguard. Or an assassin. Or maybe his limo driver? I dunno. When is it recess?”
Ollie looked at his watch. “In 32 minutes!” He said.
Sam’s head slumped. “32 minutes!? That’s forever!”