Winner of the Brandon Public Library's 2018 Youth Short Story Contest

Rebecca, world famous spy, woke and stretched. She was feeling good today.

Her phone rang, startling her. "Hello?" She said, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

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The strong, no-nonsense voice on the line sounded familiar. "Jaguar, we have an assignment for you."

Rebecca (A.K.A. Jaguar) jumped to her feet. "What is it, Boss?"

"We have reason to believe that your target is plotting something."

She rolled her eyes. Not Viper again! "I'm on it."

She quickly hung up the phone, grabbed her recording device, camera, dark clothes for sneaking around and ran out of the room.

Rebecca looked at her wrist, expecting to see a screen with a city map emblazoned on it. Nothing. "Ugh!" she said aloud. "I forgot my smart watch!"

Without it, she couldn't program the heli... Oh well. She'd have to walk instead.

As she strolled through the city streets, she noticed something on the ground. A necklace of some kind.

She paused and picked up the jewelry. The pendant was beautiful... a sapphire, shining deep blue.

Rebecca decided to take it. Maybe she could find out who it belonged to... she thought, slipping it around her neck.

Soon she reached her goal... the big hill out in the country. Walking around, the spy noticed a vulnerable spot, an air vent grate.

It's déjà vu all over again... she thought as she pulled off the grate and crawled inside. A three metre drop greeted her. Crud.

The spy jumped, using her arms and legs to slow her descent.

She landed a little harder than she expected. A loud CLANG! echoed through the passage. Rebecca silently cursed gravity.

A voice wormed its way into the system. "What was that?" Viper. (She knew it was him because he had this way of slightly making the Ss of every word longer. It really annoyed her.)

She sighed. They knew she was here... but on the upside, now she knew where to go.

The spy followed Viper's voice down a long corridor. After looking through the third grate, she saw him. (He was easy to spot due to his bright green hair.) He was talking to his sister.

"Seriously, bro, I gotta go study!" Vanessa Venom said.

Viper crossed his arms in a classic little brother stance. Rebecca giggled.

"Since when do you study for tests?" he said, making his voice EXTRA annoying.

"I'm gonna fail out of school!" Vanessa said, exasperated.

As Vanessa and Viper started arguing, Rebecca quietly made her way to the next vent, which led to a room lined with metal filing cabinets. It was unguarded! Jackpot!

She carefully removed the vent and climbed down, using the filing cabinets as a ladder. Everything was going great, until one of the cabinets opened with a SWOOSH, leaving her in a split. "Dang it!" she muttered.

She perked up. Footsteps! This was going to be the most embarrassing capture EVER.

But the footsteps walked right past. Whew. Now, how to get down... The spy manual didn't cover that.

Rebecca eventually shimmied down to the floor and started leafing through documents.

"Let's see..." She muttered, searching through the Past Plans and SSSS sections, throwing a few papers in her pack before coming to Future Plans. After leafing through some documents, she found one that was dated... for next week! She snapped a photo. How's that for evidence? she thought, proud of herself.

The spy was flipping through some other plans when the door flew open. Rebecca froze.

"What the-" Viper said, obviously as surprised as she was. I guess they DIDN'T know I was here... Rebecca reflected.

She pulled out a pair of handcuffs, declaring "Viper, you're under arrest. I have proof of your plotting."

Viper tried to get out of the room, but Rebecca quickly used her sleeping gas made by the scientists of SSSS (Super Secret Spy School, where Rebecca was enrolled).

Her arch-enemy was on the floor in an instant. But when she grabbed his wrist to cuff him, something strange happened...

She was in a crummy city, one full of crumbling buildings, horrible smells, and poor and homeless people. Looking down, she saw a snake slithering its way through the crowd. Following it, Rebecca saw a young boy with green hair. The snake wriggled up to his side. "Ready for another day?" the boy said to the snake.

As Rebecca watched, the boy put a tin can on the ground and began commanding the snake like a dog.

Time passed, and soon the sun was setting. The boy picked up the can and rattled it. "Fifty cents. People were kind today..." he said, patting the green snake on the head. They disappeared into the crowd, slipping through the spaces between the cars and people.

Rebecca snapped out of her trance. The clock still read the same time, and Viper was still on the ground... What was that?

The necklace felt heavy on her throat. She touched it. Hmm... I think it happened when... Rebecca tentatively touched Viper's arm. She saw the boy and the snake again...

Once the vision was over, she took of her necklace and placed it on a metal filing cabinet.

She touched Viper's arm again. Nothing. She poked him. Nada.

It must have something to do with the necklace... Rebecca thought. Weird!

She brought Viper back to H.Q. and went to her room to think.

"So, I know that the necklace does something, but what?" She muttered, deep in thought.

She examined the necklace and found a single word engraved in the stone: "YOUTH". "Guess someone wanted to stay forever young." said Rebecca, placing the sapphire around her neck.

There was a knock at her door. "Come in!" she called.

The door opened, and in surged here SSSS friends. "How'd it go?" Daisy asked.

"Great!" Rebecca replied. "I found Viper's plot!"

"Jupiter..." Spacey said.

"Hey, Spacey." Rebecca said, smiling. She patted him on the back, and...

She was in a bedroom. Little glow-in-the-dark stars were plastered to the walls and ceiling. Looking at a desk, she saw a little kid daydreaming. On the desk in front of him, there was a map of the solar system and some doodles of stars and planets.

There was also a bowl of starfruit by the boy's drawings. Huh, Rebecca thought. Starfruit's Spacey's favourite fruit...

She was back in the dorm in a flash. Everything was right where she left it.

“That was... trippy." Rebecca said aloud.

"What was?" Snowstorm asked.

"Oh... nothing." Rebecca said. Guess I'm the only one who sees it!

"We gotta go." Daisy said.

"Bye, Jaguar!" Snowstorm said.

"Bye..." said Rebecca absent-mindedly.

Suddenly, it came to her...

She knew what the necklace did!

Rebecca grabbed the necklace and ran downstairs to where the villains were held.

She sprinted to where Viper was. He was upright again, but just... sitting. Not wise-cracking or trying to escape, just... sitting there.

Rebecca knocked on the cell door. Viper looked up. "What?" he asked, raising one eyebrow.

"Viper... how did you turn evil?"

"What?" Viper said, surprised.

Rebecca repeated her question.

"Some people are just... born evil, OK?" He sounded angry and flustered.

Guess I struck a nerve, she thought. But she continued, "Nobody's born evil..."

Viper sighed. "OK, fine. What do you want to know?"

"How did you turn evil?' Rebecca said again.

Viper sighed once more. "When I was a little kid, I lived in a crowded city." he started. "It was tough to get jobs, or enough money for even some food to eat. I managed by doing tricks with my snake for cash... like busking.

"A lot of police officers chased me away. They thought I was trouble, I guess.

"Eventually, I started to believe I was trouble, too. I figured being evil would get me more than being good."

Rebecca watched quietly, and didn't say anything until the end of his story.

Viper looked up, like something had come to him. "Don't tell anyone I said that!" He said. "We're arch-enemies!"

"Sure." Rebecca said, thoughtful. "Well, bye."

"Bye." Viper said, all snideness gone from his voice.

Rebecca walked back to her dorm. "I guess this necklace gives me a vision about the person's childhood when I touch them..." she muttered to herself in the empty elevator.

She ran her finger over the inscription. The gem felt cool and smooth.

Rebecca opened the door to her dorm and climbed into bed. She was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

She woke the next morning and stretched. She was feeling good today...

Her phone rang. "Jaguar, we have an assignment for you."

"I'm on it!" the spy said.

Before she left, she left her smart watch in her dorm and slipped on her necklace instead.

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