“I hereby call to order the first meeting of the TSO — Tween Spy Organization,” I boomed at my fellow spy-to-bes, Savannah Kingsley and Isabelle Palmer.
We’d formed a spy thingy because Savannah was reading a book, The Copernicus Legacy (I wouldn’t read it if I were you — Savannah tells me it’s a total copy of The 39 Clues), and they were talking about Germany, “the capital of spies and murder and death and foreign movies and spies.”
I whipped a clipboard out of thin air and did roll call. We’re a nonsensical group of spy-ish tweens, so we start calling names from the bottom of the page, not the top.
“Copeland, Saige?” I smiled to myself, checking my name off. “Here.”
Tossing the clipboard and pencil over my shoulder, I asked, “Does everyone have their equipment?”
“Yessir!” Savannah replied, saluting me. She patted the knife and key hanging from the rope that was looped over her shoulder.
Isabelle pulled a ginormous knife from her back pocket. “Will this do, Saige?”
“That’s Copeland, Palmer!” I snapped.
“Copeland,” she corrected herself softly.
“And about the knife . . .”
I edged up to Savannah and we started to whisper.
“I don’t trust her with that thing.” I looked pointedly at Isabelle, who was trying to yank the knife out of its sheath. “She might hurt me.”
“Aren’t you worried that she might injure herself?” Savannah said quietly.
“That doesn’t matter,” I argued. “So, do you think we should give her a different knife?”
“Drop your knife, Palmer,” I ordered. I slipped a red knife off of my belt and presented it to Isabelle.
“This knife is named Robin,” I announced. “It came in a three-pack, its siblings being Nightwing and Batman. May it serve you faithfully.”
Isabelle flicked the blade open and stared at it, mesmerized. “Oh . . .”
When Isabelle poked her finger with the knife, Savannah glanced at me and asked in a hushed tone, “Are you sure she should even have a knife at all?”
I shrugged and admitted, “I don’t know.”
When Isabelle closed the knife and almost cut her finger off in the process, I turned to Savannah. “Give her the key,” I commanded.
She removed the key from her rope and held it out to me. “If she loses this, the whole mission will fail.”
I nodded. I knew the risks, but I was going to take the chance anyway. This was our first mission, and if we failed, none of us would become full members of the TSO.
I snatched the key from Savannah and pushed it into Isabelle’s palm. “Keep it safe, you hear me?” I said.
She stared at it in awe and nodded, slowly at first and then so fast it was a wonder she didn’t snap her neck. “Yes, I’ll keep it very safe, ma’am!” she promised.
She tilted her head skeptically and opened her mouth to say something. Then she thought better of it and curled her fingers around the key. “Sir.”
“Put it somewhere secure.” We couldn’t lose the key! For good measure, I added, “Somewhere very secure.”
“In my hair?” she inquired.
I rolled my eyes. “No. Not your hair. Your pocket?” I mused, “But that’s not safe enough . . .”
“How about your shoe?” suggested Savannah.
“Yes, that’s the perfect place!” I exclaimed. “Good thinking, Kingsley.”
Isabelle slipped her left sneaker off and stowed the key inside of it. Once she’d put her shoe back on, I grabbed her foot and shook it back and forth, up and down. The key didn’t come out. It really was the perfect place!
There was just one last thing to do before we started our mission . . .
“Drop and give me twenty!” I shouted. Savannah and Isabelle obediently began their pushups.
“I thought this was a spy organization, not boot camp,” Izzy mumbled, still managing to sound all sweet and innocent and pinky even though she’s really a clumsy ballet dancer/evil spy mastermind.
“Zip it, Palmer!”
Isabelle and Ana finished their pushups and lay on the ground, groaning, while I explained our mission.
“We spy on people!” I barked. “And that’s it!”
I ran to the edge of our HQ (a tabletop) and, sitting down, inched my legs over the side. I laid my arms on the tabletop, dropped off, and shouted encouragingly at my teammates, “Let’s show the world how Tween Spies get it done!” And I promptly lost my grip and fell to the floor.
Shouting “Tween Spies!”, Savannah and Isabelle followed me. Izzy tripped while she was jumping and landed flat on her face. Savannah did a very spy-like maneuver: she elegantly slid down one of the table legs, silent as a cat (because cats are quieter than mice).
Once everyone was on the ground, we sneaked over to the stairwell and I hoisted myself up onto the railing. While I was situating myself for the ride down, Izzy and Savannah whisper-fought about who would go second.
We flew down the railing and sprinted over to a metal pole that reached the ceiling. I pulled a high-tech compact grappling hook from my pocket and pressed a button on its side, causing the rope to spring out. It wrapped around the pole a couple of times before shooting to another one and securing the line there.
Wrapping the rope around my hand, I started to climb the pole.
My heartbeat pounded in my ears as I reached the top of the rope, wrapped my legs and hands around the taut part of it and slithered along. Don’t let anyone see me, don’t let anyone see me . . .
There were three ways you could fail a mission: not achieving the goal, being spotted by the enemy, or dieing. While our mission was as simple as spying on our family, any of those things could happen. I didn’t want to think of what would happen if we failed, but it somehow wormed its way to the front of my mind. None of us will become members of the TSO.
I reached the end of the rope. I took a second grappling hook from my pocket and activated it. Before continuing along the line, I glanced back and saw my teammates weren’t far behind me.
The pole the second grappling hook led to was right next to a human table, so we jumped onto that and picked our way down to the floor. Our house was two yards away, and hiding places were conveniently scattered across the distance.
We regrouped in front of the door. This was it.
“Do you have the key, Palmer?” I asked. Of course she would say yes.
“Yes.” She was wearing a bag like a hat.
“Well, hand it over! We need it to unlock the front door.”
She pulled the bag off her head and then untied her shoe.
Come on, I thought, hurry up! Someone might walk by any second now.
Isabelle held the shoe up and shook it. The key didn’t fall out. I snatched it from her and peered into it. The key wasn’t stuck in there.
“Noo –” I started to wail, but quickly clamped a hand over my mouth. We couldn’t be heard. I tried to collect myself, but as I stared at the empty shoe, I knew my gaze must have been crackling with rage. “How could you lose it, Palmer?!” I hissed at her. “It was just a key — not a microscopic marshmallow — and it was in your shoe!”
“Um, sir,” said Savannah, daring to approach me. “Don’t you think perhaps we should be looking for the key instead of being angry at Palmer?”
I hated to admit it, but she was right. Three pairs of eyes began searching the room for the missing key.
Savannah’s keen eyes found it hanging on the second rope at the far pole. “I guess we’ll have to crawl all the way up there,” she sighed.
We stealthily headed back to the human table, our hearts low. The first mission had a time limit of an hour, and already we were nearing the half-an-hour warning. Not completing it in time would result in us failing the mission. Would we have enough time to rescue the key, get into the house, spy on our family long enough to gather information to put into a one page report on suspicious activity and make it back to HQ?
Or would we never become members of the Tween Spy Organization?
To be continued . . .