Honorable Mention

The Operation
by Brad, age 12, of Oak Hills, VA

A sudden ripple in the air caused Stepper Larsley to drop to his knees sputtering. The lab around him seemed to be shaking and trembling, but he knew it was only his own mind responding to the infections. If he couldn’t find the cure within this lab, there would be no hope for Stepper.

Stepper’s mother. Harp, was as loving and caring as a mother could get. Her neighbors knew she would not be the type to bring Stepper in for The Operation. The Operation had been performed so many times that it was routine. Harp, however, thought that having an operation that would genetically engineer her child would make him different. All she wanted was for him to be "just like the other boys." The problem was that all the other boys had already had The Operation. This Operation would regenerate injuries and boost a person’s intelligence well above average.

Stepper had the same will, the same courage as those other boys, though. He couldn’t ever match some of their abilities, but he had an overpowering need to be accepted. If his mother could only see him now as he crawled through the corridors of an abandoned science lab, then she would wish she had allowed Stepper to have The Operation.

In this time, there was no longer the simple crime of murder by way of a gun or weapon of that sort. Now, people would release biological warfare upon their victims. Why? Simply because it was possible and more painful.

Stepper’s father worked for the government in a branch for advancement on nanotechnology. Many others in the town objected to such horrible ideas; they feared the unknown just as those in Salem feared "magic." So what feeble attempts would they make to try and put a stop to it all? They used nanotechnology against the very person they wanted to stop from advancing it further.

Stepper’s mother and father both had the Operation. Stepper felt his mother was selfish to get it herself and not let him. Now that there had been an attack of such weapons on Stepper’s home, his parents were fine. Stepper was, however, dying.

During his years of work. Stepper’s father kept various files of secret government information in a locked cabinet of his dusty old study. Stepper spent countless hours trying to break into this cabinet, and succeeded one fateful night.

It was on that night he found startling. The government knew more about nanotechnology than they ever let the public realize. Fifteen years ago, the government had permitted a small organization of scientists the usage of government money to fund their confidential research. These scientists had discovered all sorts of biological warfare.

The government had become nervous, and ordered them to produce antidotes for each new disease, destroying them as they went. The scientists did mostly as the government asked, but they kept a few of their weapons. The trio of researchers disappeared only months after their resignation. Many said that they were frightened by their own intellect.

Nevertheless, nobody had bothered to investigate the scientists’ old laboratory. A few years ago. Stepper stumbled across the lab and decided to explore. Since then, he returned often, and was amazed at how grand it all was. The lab was complete with many lower levels, in which he found all sorts of strange chemicals.

Stepper was now facing death, a very unfriendly foe. Stumbling through corridors, he was barely seeing what was in front of him. For one revolting moment he felt as if his organs had just begun working backwards.

When he finally reached the cellar level, he let out a sigh of relief. Before him, were all the antidotes those scientists had concocted many years ago. Stepper lifted one particular glass vial and peered at its murky contents. He had studied all sorts of biotechnology in the past two years and soaked in all the information he read.

This was the vial, he thought, the antidote to cure him. He removed the stopper with a faint pop and hastily ingested the contents. Immediately, he felt strange warmth buzzing through his body to very precise places, and he could nearly feel his pain washing away. The air was surprisingly fresh for an old laboratory of toxic materials; Stepper had the feeling that there were devices to automatically filter the air.

Stepper jogged back through the lab to exit. He decided he would tell his mother that he wanted The Operation performed on him. He wanted to be like all the others and be able to do the same amazing feats. Perhaps she might understand if he told her about this incident. It would mean confessing how he had broken into his father’s files, but he felt he no longer would want to see more of this lab. He could almost hear her response, "You could have been killed — who knows what those crazy men kept in their lab! Honestly, I want you to be safe and going around looking for biological weapons – well I just don’t know, dear."

Stepper organized a speech on his hike home that would address any questions Harp might have.

Only weeks later, Stepper had The Operation.