Short Story: Paper Power

For those wondering what my version of Matilda would look like.

There was a young boy named Nate Hatake. Nate loved to make things out of paper. His mother, very traditional Yamato Nadeshiko that she was, taught him origami and other ancient crafts. While his father, an aeronautics engineer, taught him to make paper airplanes that were almost feats of engineering themselves.

The bus rides to school were the skies of dogfights he would always win with his slick, slicing aircraft and expert aim. The classrooms were tundras of paper snowflakes Nate would flower down upon the classroom. The creek beside the school during recess was the raceway for his folded flagship to win out against all others. The whole school loved Nate and everyone was his friend.

That was all until Sam Urter was transferred to his school. Sam was a bully who picked on all of the friends that Nate had entertained and enthralled. He particularly hated Nate’s paper creations. Crumpling them up, calling them stupid and gay, shooting them down with a water gun, even lighting them up with matches. Nate and his friends were saddened. School used to actually be fun with Nate able to bring that little bit of magic to each day. Sam would have none of it, so Nate stopped making them. The school days almost seemed darker, the sun less bright. Sam’s fiery display and other troubles though caused him to be called into the principal’s office, where his mother came in smoking a cigarette and trying to hide the flask in her purse. She gave the principal a conciliatory agreement that this wouldn’t happen again before dragging Sam out the door.

Nate, watching from the upstairs science lab through an astronomy telescope, came up with a plan. Nate folded a new paper, but he wrote a message on it, with a careful toss, it sailed to his friends beyond Sam’s notice. The ones that were able to read it nodded and started on their work in art class.

The next day, Nate put on a grand display, paper dolls, paper planes, paper helicopters, paper dragons, paper warriors galore. Sam pulled a match he had hidden under his hat, ready to burn them all when the kids ran inside the class room and slammed the door, and there were dozens of doodles of his mom’s face on it. All of them scowling at him. Sam turned to another group of kids with their paper dolls, they ran inside the art room. On that door the same many scowling faces of his mother. One last group of kids, one last door, and yet more of his mother starring daggers at him. Sam backed away from each unable to approach or even look at these doors.

One kid stepped out of the classroom and stood Sam down. There stood Nate, paper talismans with the kanji his mother taught him tucked in several pockets of his clothing, rows of paper airplanes folded into rings on his shoulders and sleeves, and a deck of cards hanging from a holster on his belt.

Sam Urter reached into his backpack and pulled out yet another super soaker but this one had a lighter scotch taped to the end of it which he then lit. Nate reached to his shoulder and let fly a paper airplane, it unfolding mid-flight into an arrow-like projectile. Sam took aim but recoiled when he felt a sting across his cheek as Nate’s aim was true. Even though he missed, Nate’s misfire still let out a plume of flame that the students watching from the classrooms screamed at the sight of. Nate, wide eyed but not backing down sent two more arrows Sam’s way. The firebug was able to incinerate one but the other nicked his neck. His enemy caught off guard for the moment, Nate let fly a virtual squadron of paper airplanes at Sam.

Sam sprayed flames all around him sending some to the ground in cinders while others maligned him with cuts. At last one tore the tape Sam used to anchor the lighter to his soaker. Sam tried to recover the lighter and simply hold it to the end, but Nate nailed him right in the hand he was holding the lighter with a paper mache cudgel. That’s when he saw that the paper the brick was made out of, also had his mother’s scowling face on it. All the other weapons Nate had used against him did. Sam roared in fury before pulling out the baseball bat he had strapped to his bag. Nate went to ready another volley but he grasped air, he was out of arrow-darts.

In the meantime, Sam squirted the bat with the fluid from his mother’s flask, pulled out another match and struck it along the wood, lighting up the club. Sam charged Nate, Nate’s hand drew the cards from their holster. Sam went for a wide swing, which Nate ducked and rolled under. Sam turned around only to get smacked in the face with laminated cardboard thrown with great force.

Nate cut the deck in half, a stack now in each hand. Not giving his enemy a chance to recover, Nate sent card after card sailing at Sam while backing down the hallway. Sam swung like a wildfire, directionless and uncontrolled. Sustaining cuts and gritting his teeth through the pain, Sam charged Nate again with an equally ineffective downward swing, smashing and setting fire to the bake sale table. Nate emptied one hand of his deck to the other and reached into his pocket for his spare paper mache cudgel. Sam swung shorter, more jabs than haymakers, and Nate knocked his club away with a less force than Sam was taking to swing before spinning and sending what remained of his hand into Sam’s face.

That’s when the fire alarm went off and the sprinklers came on, dowsing Sam’s weapon which had been reduced to charred kindle. Nate’s remaining weapons though, equally wilted in the artificial rain. Unperturbed, Sam tried to rush Nate only to get tsuki punched to his midsection followed by amae geri front kick to his jaw, knocking Sam to the floor. The students rushed from the classroom cheering and splashing in the pooling water.

Sam Urter was expelled from the school and sent to a children’s psychiatric ward. The hallways and classrooms of the school once again became playgrounds for Nate’s friends and creations. There was even a school project where the students had to make origami cranes, all of his friends made some, but Nate made so many that the eventual number was a thousand. Of course what did they need eternal luck for? They had each other.

The End


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