#1
This is a short story.


The Big Blue Toy


Mrs. Roen sat at her desk with a book as the remains of her third grade finished up a test. This test was taking up prime recess time for Mrs. Roen?s class. That?s where Pete was. Mrs. Roen?s class, room number 24. She was 28 years old. ?Fresh out of college? Pete had heard one of the older teachers say. Pete didn?t know what that meant. But he knew he wanted to be outside. He wanted to feel blue and gold metal underneath his fingers. He wanted to climb the Big Blue Toy.
The Big Blue Toy was not a right, it was a privilege. That?s what the 5th graders that played on it had said. You can climb the big blue toy when you?re in third grade. That was the rule. The 5th graders said so. Here, the 5th graders were the top of the food chain, and they didn?t realize that when they became 6th graders they were again at the bottom of the food chain. Pete didn?t know that. It was his first week being in the third grade. He hadn?t gotten off on the right start with many of the teachers because he talked a lot. Ever since the first day he walked through the doors of Dennis Township Elementary School he?s been talking. DTES. That was the abbreviated version of his school.
Pete finished his test. It was a spelling test. Pete had studied. He wouldn?t of but his mom had made him. He proudly gave the test to Mrs. Roen. She didn?t say anything but made a hand motion towards the door signaling that Pete was free from the teacher?s claws. Pete was going out for recess. He was going to climb the Big Blue Toy for the first time. He quickly realized recess was already half over. He had to go on it today. Today felt right. Pete was so excited that he tripped. As he was running for the Big Blue Toy, he stumbled on the wooden frame that surrounded it and fell face first into mulch. He scrapped his face badly. Pete was on the verge of tears. The 5th graders all shared a s******. One harmonious s******. Pete couldn?t cry now. He wouldn?t let it happen in front of the 5th graders. 5th graders were tough. He held in the tears and climbed up the steps of the big blue toy. The 5th graders stood at the entrance, eyeing him as if he were some kind of pet. There was a horrid curiosity filled with excitement on Pete?s face. He looked at the 5th graders. One whispered something in the other?s ear and he bellowed. Pete looked up at them. He had a puppy dog face that was also filled with a sense of unknown pride. He stood there for a moment, and then the 5th graders let him pass. He felt like he was on top of the world, and in a moment he would see what it felt like.
From the top of the Big Blue Toy he could see the entire playground. He saw the ?regulars? on the wall as the 5th graders had put it. The wall was a large cement wall that was on the side of the gymnasium. The whole school was made of brick and a large 2 story cement wall contrasted the entire school. If you got in trouble at recess, like if you chased girls or you played too rough, you had to stand on the wall. Pete had been on the wall many times. When he was on the wall it felt like the wall was a monster that loomed down over him that ?Had to be the biggest thing on earth ever,? as one of the wall regulars had put it to him. From on top of the big blue toy it looked like a minute nothing. The whole rest of the playground engulfed it. There were 3 slides on the Big Blue Toy, and Pete had a hard time deciding which one to go down first. He realized that recess was almost over, and it didn?t matter which one he went down first. He went down all of them in ecstasy.
The real thing Pete was interested in was the monkey bars. They were a bright yellow and they encircled the entire toy. Going around on the monkey bars, Pete thought, would give him a complete tour of the brilliance of blue. He grasped them with confidence, and a small bit of fear. He grabbed the monkey bars. He went slowly first, but he quickly got a rhythmic speed. He went around the whole thing and was surprised that he had made the whole journey safely. A lot of people didn?t go on the monkey bars because it was high up and if you fell down you got scrapped up on mulch. He even noticed that the 5th graders had glanced over when Pete had made 2/3 of the journey around the Big Blue Toy, and they were smiling in amazement. ?Third graders always fell the first time,? he heard one of them say. Pete had on Chuck Taylor sneakers. He told his mom he needed new shoes. He really didn?t, but he wanted to get Chuck Taylor sneakers for his first expedition of the Big Blue Toy. He thought that if he wore his Keds he would look stupid. 5th graders didn?t wear Keds. Keds were ?lame.? They all wore Chucks.
Pete had explored almost all of the Big Blue Toy, except for one part. There were two main parts to the Toy, the part where the 5th graders were, which was the lower part and had 2 slides on it, then two tubes connected the lower level to an upper level. You had to climb the tubes to get to the higher section, which had a huge, twisty slide. Pete had slid down the two slides on the lower section first, and then climbed up a tall latter attached to the upper section. He hadn?t been through the tubes yet. But recess was ending and he had to explore the entire blue beast before he left back inside. Recess was his freedom and he was going to make the most of it. He was about to go through the tube when a 5th grader that had been eyeing him for a while let out a bellowing laugh. He smiled like he had a secret. Pete looked down the tube. It curved and he couldn?t see the lower level. He only saw white light. The tube smelled odd. Like?like a scab does. Pete couldn?t place what the smell was but he knew it was very familiar. Then it hit him. The tube smelled like blood.
Pete looked up. The 5th graders still stood on the lower level, all staring at Pete, silently daring him to crawl through the tube. They all had the same look on their face. They looked like they had a secret and that Pete would soon find out. Pete was about to crouch down again and crawl through when he noticed something else: Everyone else outside was gone. The entire playground deserted. Suddenly terror struck over Pete. He became extremely pale and his pupils grew to an extremely large size. The 5th graders still stared at him, saying nothing. They merely glared and smiled.
Pete didn?t understand what had happened. He contemplated climbing down the latter on the higher level, but suddenly the toy seemed much higher. He told himself that he wouldn?t have climbed down anyway because then he would be a wuss. He knew he wasn?t a wuss. Pete was strong because he was in third grade on the Big Blue Toy. But he didn?t feel that way. His eyes were glazed over and Pete felt like he was going to be ill. The 5th graders hadn?t moved. It was either climb through the tube or stay here forever. He swallowed. Hard. He got down on hi knees and put his palms on the cold plastic. He could see now that they white light had become much brighter. It was blinding him, in fact. All the kids on the playground were gone. It was Pete and the tube. He began crawling through, his knees getting wet with moisture. He felt eerily calm now. And suddenly, only at the age of 8, he felt he knew all of life?s mysteries. He knew the purpose of everything. And as he got closer to the end the white light only grew. He was grinning now. He was grinning like a mad man. His face was like a clown?s face. Horrid fascination drove him. His smile grew wider and suddenly his skin began to stretch tight on his face. Pete was blinded.
Then-as only the Cafeteria women could describe-the Big Blue Tube actually moved and jerked and twisted. It actually appeared to be laughing. It was churning in evil happiness at it let out squeals. It grew bulbous; monstrous; and then echoed an earth shattering scream. The scream of a child. It was bending, heaps of metal were being tossed and flown from the monkey bars, and the entire toy collapsed and wavered and caved in and out of itself as the insane blue tube danced with a little boy inside. The little boy was no longer there. Pete had gone mad when he entered the tube. Pete was insane in the brilliance of blue. The toy had driven him mad. And in a sudden, blinding white light, the toy returned to its normal position. It looked as it always did.
The cafeteria women had run outside because they had spotted Pete outside even though everyone else had gone inside long ago. Everyone was looking for Pete. School celebrity. The women had run towards the toy and had been blinded temporarily. The 5th graders had gone inside long ago and they all stared at the toy, still viewing everything in negative from the eerie inhuman light. They could only explain to the principal that they had left soon after Pete had started playing on the toy. Pete was talking to himself and laughing madly. He was cackling. An entire entity of students, one huge, slow, curious animal, crept towards the Toy. There was a red Chuck Taylor dangling on the monkey bars. And as the crowd of students and teachers grew closer, they saw that the sneaker was not red at all. It had splotches of white on it. It had once been a white sneaker, but now it had been dyed red. The Big Blue Toy was not a right, it was a privilege. A privilege Pete took too far.