Kacie and RJ decide that their parents might be at home and if not, well, they would have to come back eventually, wouldn't they?
"Let's go," Kacie says.
They cross the street (no cars in sight) and walk back to their house. They walk to the front door, but it is locked.
//Should they [[Knock]] on the door, possibly waking their mom up (who might get grumpy) or [[Open the garage door]]//
"Let's ask everyone else what they want to do," RJ said.
"Ok," Kacie said as she rolled her eyes.
"Hey guys - where are your parents?" RJ yells at the other kids. As usual, the other kids mostly ignore RJ and don't answer.
"Seriously," RJ pleads.
"I don't know," his friend says, "I guess I should go home and see if I can find them."
"So should we," Kacie said, "Let's go RJ!"
"Something doesn't seem right," RJ says, "We should chase the bus, and maybe the bus driver will see us and help."
"Whatever," Kacie says.
They run up the sidewalk, cresting the small hill on which they live. They get excited when they see the bus stopped near the next intersection. The door to enter the bus is open.
"Hurry up," says Kacie, running faster.
The bus stays parked. Kacie gets there first.
"Hey, where is the driver?" she says. The bus is empty.
"People don't just disappear," RJ States, "Keep you eyes open for zombies. I'm serious."
//Let's keep marching towards the [[School]].//
"Boy, school is farther away than I thought it would be," RJ states uselessly.
"Where is everyone," Kacie asks.
The school yard is empty. As a light breeze blows across the yard, a crumpled quiz with "C+" grade written on top swirls by their feet.
"I got an A on that test!" RJ exclaims. He picks up the paper and throws it into a nearby trashcan.
"Good for you. Also, I don't care. Let's see if we can find out where everyone went." Kacie says.
The front door to the school is still open.
//Do you go [[inside->enter school]] or explore around the back of the [[school->playground]]?//
They knock and ring the doorbell multiple times. No one comes to the door.
Here is a hint. The title of the story is ''"No Parents"''. There are no parents. Think about that for a bit and then try to [[Open the garage door]].
//Do you know the code for the garage door opener?//
[[Yes->g_Yes]] or [[No->g_No]]
You really should know the code. Ask mom to teach it to you.
Got it? ''Good!'' Now use it to open the [[door...->g_Yes]]
The light from the sun shines into the dark garage as the door slowly and loudly opens. The air smells of oil and grease that is left over from some of dad's crazy projects.
The kids enter, shutting the door behind them.
"Mom" RJ yells but no-one responds.
They walk into the living room. The laptop computer that mom uses is still on.
//Should you investigate the [[computer screen->Article]] or walk [[upstairs]].//
You decide to enter the school.
To the right of the entrance is the main office. There is a note for the principal stuck on the door. It says //"Max's parents not at home. I have to get to Cols before the sale ends! Will be back later."//
"That's weird," Kacie says, "Who has to leave school for a sale?"
"Maybe they were out of clean clothes and needed to buy some new ones," RJ replied.
"No, they wouldn't do that. They would just wash what they have." Kacie retorts.
//"Unless their washing machine is broken,"// RJ whispered to himself.
There is no-one in the school. Where should we go now?
(if: (history:) contains "Article" )[//I guess it's time to [[Go Shopping]].//](else:)[//Let's look for clues back at [[home->Go Home]] //]
(if: (history:) is not contains "playground" )[
or //We can go to the [[playground]].//](else:)[
//We've already done everything else. Really you should go back home and [[Go Shopping]] //]
As they near the back of the school, sounds of kids playing are heard faintly around the corner. As they get closer to the playground, they see a group of kids playing.
''"Hey you guys!"'' RJ yells, "Are your parents around?"
"No," a brown haired kid replied. "They weren't around when we went home, so we came back here. Since there are no adults, we decided that we should just play while we are waiting for them. It's awesome - we're playing games our parents wouldn't normally let us. See those kids over there," he said pointing to some kids near the edge of the field, "they're sword fighting with sticks they found in the woods. Those kids over there are playing chase - but you are allowed to tackle when you catch someone."
"Cool," said RJ "I want to sword fight."
"Do you want to play with us?" he asks.
//[[Yes->play]] or [[enter school]]//
The laptop computer sits open on mom's recliner. It is open to an internet page.
"Let's see what mom was reading before she left," Kacie said.
They read the article:
''Cols to start a new promotional campaign tomorrow.''
//"We are trying a new approach to marketing" Richard Col, president and CEO of Col's department stores said, "We think everyone will emotionally connect with our marketing campaign and want to shop with us. That's our hope anyway."//
(if: (history:) contains "enter school" )[//I guess it's time to [[Go Shopping]].// ](else:)[//Let's follow the [[school bus->Run after the school bus]]//]
The floorboards squeak as Kacie and RJ slowly walk up the steps.
"It pretty quiet up here" RJ whispers.
"No duh" Kacie replies, "Let's make sure Mom isn't here - maybe she's sleeping or something."
"Maybe," says RJ "but I doubt it."
There is no-one up here.
//I guess its time to investigate [[downstairs->Article]].//
RJ runs down to the kids who are sword fighting. He grabs a large stick and joins the fight.
RJ goes against a larger kid. Swinging his stick left and right as fast as he can. The larger kid backs up, surprised at just how fast RJ is swinging his sword.
The larger kid swings hard at RJ. RJ moves his sword to block - just in time. The two swords clash together. The other boy's stick sword snaps loudly, breaking in half where it collided with RJ's sword.
"I give up," the older kid says, dropping what remains of his sword and putting his hands up.
"This is fun," RJ says.
"That's nice," Kacie says, "but we need to find mom and dad. Let's go!"
//(if: (history:) contains "enter school" and (history:) contains "article")[I guess it's time to [[Go Shopping]]. ](elseif: (history:) contains "enter school")[Let's look for clues back at [[home->Go Home]] ](else:)[Now would be a convenient time to explore in the [[school->enter school]], seeing as you are basically there already.]//
"You know," Kacie says, "Something seems strange about that Cols ad. Everyone seems to have gone shopping. I think we need to go and investigate.
"How are we going to get there?" RJ says, "It's too far to walk, that's for sure. Plus I'm a kid, so I don't even know how to get there".
"We can try riding our bikes," Kacie offered.
"Nope," RJ states, "I'm not riding on the road. I'm not allowed, and it's dangerous. Plus dad said if I did I would probably get squished."
"Hmmm," Kacie thinks for a minute, "I guess we could take dad's car. Even if we don't know how to drive it."
//Should they ride their [[Bikes]] or drive dad's [[Car]]???//
"I guess we should try riding our bikes," Kacie decides "At least we know how to do that."
"Yep," RJ says, "I do. Let's go."
They walk to the basement and pull out their bikes.
"Better make sure you are wearing your helmet," Kacie says, "Safety first."
"No duh," RJ says, "Are you ready yet?"
They close the garage door behind them and start down the road that leads out of the housing plan.
"This is a bad idea," RJ says, "I'm definitely wearing my seatbelt."
"Remember what Dad says in the car when mom is not around - besides the swear words I mean," Kacie says, "He always said that most people on the road are idiots. We are both pretty smart, so I'm sure we'll be fine. I think."
Kacie and RJ search for the keychain with dad's car key on it. They find it hanging exactly where it's supposed to be, and then they go down to the garage.
"You better sit in the front seat so you can help me find things," Kacie tells RJ
"But I'm not allowed until I'm 14 or something like that," RJ replies.
"So. I'm not allowed to drive either. What are they going to do - arrest little kids?"
//"Maybe,"// RJ says, but he climbs into the front passenger seat anyway.
They head over the hill, past the school bus and then past the road that has the school. Both kids are exhausted.
"We're not anywhere near where we need to be." Kacie tells RJ, "I don't think we can bike it. We are going to have to go back and take the car."
"We will be in sooo much trouble," RJ replies.
They turn around and bike back to the house.
As Kacie and RJ near the top of the hill, the Cols store looms in front of them.
The parking lot is jammed full of people. Some pushing to get in towards the store, others carrying large armloads of clothes and small appliances back to their parked cars.
Kacie and RJ overhear a lady mumbling as she passes them //"The sales are outrageous! I need to get these in my car so I can get even more!"//
"These people are crazy," RJ states.
"Yep," Kacie replies, "We need to find mom and dad and get out of here."
Kacie adjusts the seat as far forward as it will go. It slowly moves as she pushes the seat adjustment buttons. Then she inserts the key into the ignition.
"The key isn't turning," Kacie says, trying to turn the key.
"That's because you have the wrong key in the steering wheel keyhole" RJ states, "Dads is the other one."
"See - I knew you would be useful in the front seat" Kacie knowingly replied.
"I better not get in trouble" RJ mumbled.
"Let's put dad's car in reverse and get out of here. Make sure no-one is behind us" Kacie says.
As Kacie tries to put the car into reverse, the gear shifter doesn't move.
"I'm sure this should move," Kacie says, "but it's not. Is it broken?"
"Why would it be broken?" RJ asks, "You must be doing something wrong."
"Maybe I need to put on the brakes," Kacie says
//Should she step in the [[left pedal]] or the [[right pedal]]?//
"See how easy this is," Kacie says as she puts the car into drive. "I don't know why they make you wait so long to drive these things."
They slowly and erratically drive down the street.
"It's faster than riding our bikes anyway," RJ says.
They eventually make their way to the bottom of the hill, on top of which Cols is located. Cars are parked on the road the whole way down the hill. They have to park their car near the bottom then walk up the hill.
She steps on the left pedal. This time, the gear shifts into reverse when she tries.
"I guess I know which pedal is the brakes. The other pedal must be the 'Go' pedal." Kacie states.
Kacie removes her foot from the brake and pushes on the right pedal. The car lurches backward, the side mirror smacking into the side of the garage, folding backward against the car. She quickly slams the brake pedal and the car screeches to a stop.
''"We're going to die!"'' RJ wines "try not to kill us. Mom will be mad."
"We'll are fine. Dad probably does that all the time. Plus, now I know which pedal does what" Kacie says.
She pushes her foot down on the right pedal. The engine roars but the car refused to move.
"Nope. That's not it," she observes.
"I guess you should try the [[left pedal]] instead," RJ says.
Kacie and RJ noticed something odd the moment they stepped off the bus. As the yellow bus drove away, cresting over the hill and out of sight, the kids from school suddenly got quiet.
Instead of running to play as usual, Kacie whispered to RJ //"Where are all the adults?"//
RJ looked worried.
"I think I saw something like this on the zombie show dad watches." RJ replied.
//What should RJ and Kacie do?//
[[Go Home]] or [[Talk with other Kids]] or [[Run after the school bus]]
Being smaller than everyone comes in handy sometimes; in this case, no-one noticed them cutting to the front of the line.
As they near the front of the crowd they run into a small man dressed in a dark suit, sitting on the curb.
"This is all my fault," he laments, "They told me not to do it. Now I'm ruined!"
"What did you do?" Kacie asks
The man was startled for a second, just then noticing the kids.
"Well...I guess I can tell you since nobody will believe anything you say," the man sneered, looking down at them.
"Hey!" RJ exclaimed.
Kacie quickly elbows RJ to stop him from further talking. She asks the man to please [[continue->cols3]].
"Since no-one will believe you anyway..." the man began.
"Before I worked at Cols, I was in the military. I served in a special branch. It was our job to trick the enemy troops into peacefully surrendering; no shots needed."
"We discovered a method of subliminal messaging that would trick them into doing just that. We invented a low-frequency sound wave that piggybacked on legitimate sound waves. They could be broadcast as commercials on TV. The original message had to be something that the targets would agree. Something like 'Aren't these puppies cute.' You see, in their brain they agreed to what they heard but, on a subliminal level, they also agreed with the subliminal message. It's all very technical."
"Well anyway, it worked so well the Army decided not to use it. That makes sense because we didn't want any of our enemies to learn about it. You see, there were no serious battles left, so we were risking big secrets for little victories. We decided to save this trick for the next big war or possibly just to get other countries to like us."
"They no longer needed me, so I left the Army and got a job at Cols. At first it was great - I had a nice employee discount and didn't have to worry about being shot. That's when I bought this suit. But then the company started having issues, and I learned that, as one of the last hired, I would be one of the first fired. So I developed a plan to save my job - I would use the same techniques I learned in the army and make commercials that would bring people shopping at Cols. Looks like it's working good. Too good!"
"Yeah. Great work. How do we reverse the effect?" Kacie asked sarcastically.
"Beats me. We just made PR stuff; I never dealt with anyone who actually surrendered."
"Great," RJ said, "Looks like it's up to us. ''AGAIN!"''
"Let me think for a minute," Kacie urges, "I'll think if something."
"I don't know how to do anything subliminal. Whatever we do will have to be liminal or maybe even superliminal," Kacie said out loud to herself.
RJ listened as his sister talked out loud. He was pretty sure she wasn't crazy because he grew up with her.
Should we tell people there is a better sale at [[sears]]?
or maybe we could turn off the [[lights->lights]]?
"I have an idea. I don't know if it will work though" Kacie says, "See if you can find me something to stand on."
"Like this discounted stool?" RJ replies.
"Exactly," Kacie says as she climbs to stand on top, "If mom and dad are here they will definitely stop shopping so they can come over and yell at me."
"That's because it's not safe to stand on stools," RJ states.
"I know ''but this is an emergency!''" Kacie yells down. Some people start to take notice as she does.
''"Everyone - I just came from Sears, and they are price matching!"'' Kacie yells.
"So what," someone barks back, "I'm here now. I'll go to Sears later."
//This isn't working.
(if: (history:) contains "lights" )[//Let's try to [[close the store]]// ](else:)[//Let's try turning off the [[lights->lights]]//]
"I don't think this will work," Kacie says walking to the front entrance.
On the back of the sliding glass door is a hanging sign. Big bold letters spell "OPEN" to anyone looking from the outside.
RJ grabs the sign and flips it around. Now it reads "CLOSED."
Almost immediately, the crowd stops.
"We just missed the sale," someone angrily states.
"There was nothing I really wanted," someone else mutters.
Soon, everyone is heading out to the parking lot. The parking lot is jammed because, well, people don't park very well during a super sale.
"I can't believe that worked," Kacie says, "Let's see if we can find Mom's car."
"How about we try and find mom and dad instead," RJ replies.
Kacie sighs and says, "They would go back to their car to leave. Duh."
"OH" RJ whispers.
"Let's ''SEE'' if this works," Kacie says dramatically, flicking the light switch near the entrance of the store. That's a pun because, by turning off the lights, she cleverly hoped nobody could see and would thus go home.
That's was the plan anyway. Instead, a couple of lamps turned off in the housewares section.
"Hey kid!" an employee yells, "get away from there. I have enough going on today that I don't need you turning off lamps."
"Fine," Kacie said, "Let's get out of here. This isn't working."
(if: (history:) contains "sears")[//Let's try to [[close the store]]// ](else:)[//Let's tell people there is a better sale at [[sears]]//]
As Kacie and RJ wander the parking lot, finding their parent's minivan seems impossible.
In the distance, they hear someone familiar...
"You better use that! There's a difference between want and need."
It's their mom, admonishing their dad who is holding a new electronic door handle.
"Of course I'll use it - it unlocks automatically whenever my phone is within five feet," their dad replies, looking hurt that anyone would question the need for a new electronic gadget.
"You better or you will not be allowed to buy anything again. ''EVER.''" their mom says back.
"Mom-Dad" the kids scream.
"Kids! How on earth did you get here?" their mom asked.
"Why aren't you in school?" dad interjects.
Kacie puts her hands on her hips and gives her parents a look only a tween is capable of pulling off, "School has been over for at least an hour. We drove dad's car - looking for you."
"You wouldn't believe what we found out!" RJ blurts, "The Col's ads have been using a brainwashing technique to trick people into shopping."
"Yeah right," their dad says, "You better show me the car before your mom sees it. You two are in a bunch of trouble!"
"I'm beginning to wish you would disappear again!" Kacie says.