These kids are hilarious! I have tons of favorites, but let's just stick with the ones I most like:
-Am I tough? Am I strong? Am I hard-core? Absolutely. Did I whimper with pathetic delight when I sank my teeth into my hot fried-chicken sandwich? You betcha.
-"So, Fnick, can I change the channel?" Iggy asked. "There's a game on."
"Make yourself at home, Figgy," Fang said.
-He shrugged looking tired again, and pushed away the food tray. "Sure." He lay back down and shut his eyes.
"After all, Fnick is Superman," said Iggy.
"Shut up, Jeff," I said, but I was smiling.
-The cool-eyed general spoke again. "The fact remains that you are minors, and as such must be under adult supervision and guardianship, according to state law. We're offering you such guardianship with a great many benefits and privileges. There could be many less attractive options." He sat back looking satisfied, as if he had just crushed an opponent in Battleship.
I blinked and looked around the room in disbelief. "You're kidding," I said. "We've escaped from top-security prisons, lived through mental and physical torture, lived on our own for years, made tons of smarty-pants grown-ups look like fools without even trying, eaten desert rats with no A1 steak sauce, and you're telling me we're minors and have to have guardians?" I shook my head, staring at him. "Listen, pal, I grew up in a freaking dog crate. I've seen horrible part-human mutations die gut wrenching deaths. I've had people, mutants, and robots try to kill me twenty-four/seven for as long as I can remember, and you think I'm gonna cave to state law? Are you bonkers?"
-"Did you know that wasn't me, the other Max?" I asked Fang.
"How?" I persisted. "We look identical. She even had the same identical scars and scratches. She was wearing my clothes. How could you tell us apart?"
He turned to me and grinned. "She offered to cook breakfast."
A second later we were laughing so hard it brought tears to my eyes. Fang and I leaned against each other and laughed and laughed, unable to speak for the longest time...
-Then I grabbed her shirt and hauled her to her feet.
"Ordering a pizza?" I snarled.
... It's funny how different people are. If I'd been this kid and someone was snarling "Ordering a pizza?" at me, without even thinking, I would have snarled back, "Yeah. You want pepperoni?"
-He handed me a sealed can and a plastic cup of ice. Across from me, Nudge sat up eagerly. "Do you have Barq's? It's root beer. I had it in New Orleans, and it's fabulous."
"I'm sorry- no Barq's," said Kevin Okun, our steward.
"Okay," Said Nudge, disappointed. "Do you have any Jolt?
"Well that has a lot of caffeine," he said.
I looked at Nudge. "Yeah, because after everything we've been through, we're worried about your caffeine intake."
-They turned to Angel. "We will call you Little One," the leader said, obviously deciding to dispense with the whole confusing name thing.
"Okay," said Angel agreeably. "I'll call you Guy in a White Lab Coat." He frowned.
"That can be his Indian name," I suggested.
-Unfortunately, every time someone said "debriefing," the entire flock had one image: someone's tidy whities disappearing in a flash.
-"You die when we die." Fang said to me.
-Now Fang pulled a smoking, meaty chunk off a stick and dropped it into an empty Baggie, which was Nudge's plate.
"Want some more raccoon?" He asked.
Nudge paused in midbite. "It is not! You went to the grocery store. Didn't you? There's no way this is raccoon." She examined the meat critically.
Fang shrugged. I rolled my eyes at him.
"Oh, maybe you're right," he said seriously. "Maybe this is the raccoon, and I gave you the possum."
Nudge choked and started coughing.
"Stop it," I told Fang, reaching over to pat Nudge's back. He looked at me innocently.
"He's just kidding, Nudge," said the Gasman. "Last time I checked, Oscar Mayer wasn't making squirrel dogs."
-The trooper leaned down into Fang's window, her broad-brimmed hat shadowing her face.
"Good morning, sir." She said sounding unfriendly. "Do you know how fast you were traveling?"
Fang looked at the speedometer, which hadn't moved since we'd pushed the car out into the darkness last night. "No," he said truthfully.
"I tagged you at seventy miles an hour," She said pulling out a clipboard.
I let out an impressed whistle. "Excellent! I never thought it'd be that fast!"
Fang shot me a look and I put my hand over my mouth.
-That guy Sam asked me on a date.
"You what?" Iggy burst out.
"I got asked on a date," I repeated, flinging mashed potatoes onto my plate.
"Oh, Max!" Nudge said.
"You're kidding," said the Gasman with his mouth full. He laughed, trying not to spit food. "What a loser! What'd he say when you shot him down?"
I busily cut my steak.
"Oh, my God," said Iggy, his hand on his forehead. "Max on a date. I thought we were trying to avoid tears and violence and mayhem."
-As it turned out, my "tomorrow" started in the pitch-darkness, with my hands and feet bound, and a strip of duct tape over my mouth.
-"You looove me this much!"
-"I can tell all of you are mad at each other," Angel said, stepping to the middle of the aisle. "But I don't know why." She looked at all of us. "Is this what you want to do right now? I mean, Max and Fang each have their own flocks. Fang, you chose to leave, so you can't really argue with anything Max is doing now. If you wanted to have an opinion about it, you should have said something before you left."
I was surprised to hear Angel say that, and Fang looked stunned.
"She doesn't have to-" Fang started, but Angel held up a hand, with a stern, no-nonsense look that only a seven-year-old could pull off.
"Max can do what she wants," Angel said. "You can either stay and weigh in, or you can leave and have no say. That's how it works."
*I just love this one, because Angel really shows Fang where he stands! It's hilarious!*
-Max's poem from The Final Warning:
White is the color of little bunnies with pink noses.
White is the color of fluffy clouds, fluffing their way across the sky.
White is the color of soft-serve ice cream in a cone.
White is the color of angels' wings and Angel's wings.
White is the color of brand-new ankle socks fresh from the bag.
White is the color of crisp sheets in schmancy hotels.
White is the color of every last freaking, gol-danged thing you see for endless miles and miles if you happen to be in Antarctica trying to save the world, which now you aren't so sure you can do because you feel like if you see any more whiteness-Wonder Bread, someone's underwear, teeth- you will completely and totally lose your ever-lovin' mind and wind up pushing a grocery cart full of empty cans around New York, muttering to yourself.
-"I vill now destroy the Snickuhs bahs!"
-"You ignorant little sah-vages," Gazzy said puffing and screwing his face. As usual, his imitation was uncanny. I almost wanted to turn around to make sure the headmaster hadn't snuck up behind us.
Angel and Nudge were cracking up at Gazzy's recounting of the tale.
"You malignant little fiends," he added and i couldn't help laughing.
"But, sir," Gazzy went on in my voice. "our parents are missionaries. Lying is the Tenth Commandment. They're innocent of all wrongdoing. What's a stink bomb?"
Now even Fang was laughing, his shoulders shaking.
-Angel reached for Total as he plummeted past her, but her fingers only grazed his fur.
"Total!" she cried, and Total started barking and howling., dropping farther away, his voice trailing off.
"Oh, crap," I muttered, then veered down past Fang. "If I'm not back in two minutes, do not let Angel have another pet." Then I tucked my wings behind me and started to drop.
"Max! Get Total!" Angel shouted after me, her voice panicky.
"No, I'm dropping straight down through clouds just for fun." I muttered to myself.
-Basically, I have two speeds... Hostile or smart-aleck. Your choice.
-"I hate this guy," Ari muttered, keeping his head down
"There's a club," I told him. "The Haters of ter Borcht Club. Have you gotten your badge yet?
-Some people just don't have what it takes to appreciate a cookie.
-Fang flicked a glance back at me, shook his head, then took a longer look. "What happened to your tan?"
"It was dirt."
He grinned, one of his rare grins that make the whole world spin a little faster. As if he didn't know what he was doing, he reached out and touched my hair where it lay on my shoulders. "You look... like a girl." His voice held bemusement.
"There's a reason for that." I said seriously.
"No, I mean like a real-" He seemed to catch himself, shook his head and looked back out the window.
I crossed my arms. "Like a real what?"
While he hesitated, Nudge came up. "Ooh, Max, you look great!" she said. admiring my clothes. "That top is totally hot! You look like you're at least sixteen!"
"Thanks," I muttered now feeling embarrassed.
-"Max how are you doing?"
Jim Dandy, I thought hysterically. Peachy. Never better.
"Max, do you need anything?"
That was such a ludicrous question that I felt myself smile.
"I need to ask some questions," The voice whispered. "I need to know where the flock is heading. I need to know what happened in Virginia."
That got me. A couple of synapses actually connected in my brain. I pulled the blanket down just a little and opened my eyes a slit. "You know what happened in Virginia," I said. "You were there, Jeb."
"Only at the end, sweetheart." Jeb said. "I don't know what happened before hand, how everything fell apart. I don't know where the flock is headed now or what your plan is."
Now I felt maybe 10 percent like myself. "Jeb, I'm afraid you're going to have to learn to live with not knowing." I chuckled.
"That's my Max." said Jeb. "Tough till the end. Even after everything, you're still in better shape than anyone else would be. But I have to tell you, you need to get onboard with this saving-the-world project."
"I'll try to pencil it in." I choked.
Wow. Jeez, I guess I ended up writing practically all of my favorites. Anyway, hope you like them!