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Monday, 1 January 2018

Jimmy Doogooder and the Piranha Kids (story)

Written 25th March 2016. Satirical short story inspired by 'Lord of the Flies.'

Set in a playground on a Friday afternoon. A group of ten year old children are playing in a playground, but four of them enter and think that there is too much chaos and want to bring order and make them play the games they want, by taking over the entire playground. These are The Piranha Kids. Meanwhile, Jimmy Doogooder and his best friend Linda Left-Eye dislike The Piranha Kids and want to stop them, but Jimmy gets distracted as he realises he likes Virginia Sweetmund and wants her to be his girlfriend.

One Friday afternoon in the sunny town of Dimbledale, a group of children aged eight to eleven were playing in the playground of Kingsley Park. They were having fun in their individual groups; swinging on the swings, shoving sand around in the sandpit, saddling on the see-saws – you know, that kind of thing. It was a pleasant day to be outside.

But then, in walked a gang of four children. They were called Donny, Ronnie, Maggie and George. Donny was the loudest, Ronnie was the friendliest, Maggie was the smartest and George was the richest. (Or rather, he had the richest parents.) They walked in, disgusted at the sight they were seeing in front of them. Unlike the other kids, they were dressed in smart black and navy clothes, with their shoes shined spotless and their hairstyles immaculate. They scowled and looked down on the other children and thought they were stupid and messed about a lot. They were known as The Piranha Kids.
“Look at these idiots,” said Maggie, shaking her head. “It makes me disgusted to think that we have to spend our playtime hanging around such fools.”
“I know,” agreed Donny. “You wait till my father hears about this. If it were up to me I would have all of them sent away. Only the coolest should be allowed to play.”
“Now, now guys,” said Ronnie. “If we want them to behave better, why don't we just take over the playground? I'm sure it isn't that hard.”
“Take over the playground!” Maggie burst out laughing. “And how exactly do you propose we do that? We need some sort of plan if we want that to happen.”
“Well, why not?” said Ronnie. “After all, we're the coolest kids out of everyone here. I'm sure they'd listen to us. We're the best dressed and our parents have the most money.”
“Mine don't,” said Maggie. Ronnie patted her arm. “That's ok Maggie, you know we're always happy to help you out. Friends look out for each other.” The boys knew Maggie's parents didn't have as much money as them, and sometimes they had to lend her family money so that they could pay for a house as big as theirs. They had been due to pay it back for some time now. Maggie knew that if they were able to take over the playground it would certainly help their parents cause – after all, it would make them look so much better next to her friends.
“Ok, if we want to take over the playground, how are we going to do it?” said Donny eagerly. He liked this idea very much. “We could dress up as zombies and scare everyone away. That would be fun. Or we could round up all the ugly, stupid children and tell them to leave and say that only cool people were allowed to hang out here. Or we could-”
“That sounds much too complicated,” said George. He didn't speak as much as the other three, but when he did he was bursting full of good, wise ideas. “Why don't we just pay someone to make us a fort in the sandpit, stand on top of it, and then throw sand at anyone who doesn't agree with us?”
“That's a stupid idea!” said Maggie haughtily. “That will never work. We have to ease people into agreeing with us, not force them to do it.”
“Besides, paying them isn't fair on us,” agreed Ronnie. He and Maggie often agreed on things. “Why would we want to give away our money?”
But Donny thought this was smart. “Exactly how much were you willing to pay, George?”
George fumbled in his pocket, taking out some gold coins. “Five pounds.”
“Five whole pounds!”
“Not five pounds for all of them. They would have to split it between themselves. If we found a group of children stupid enough to take the money, they could build the fort for us.”
“What about them over there?” said Donny. He pointed to a group of russet skinned children with black hair playing in the sandpit. They had painted their faces with face paint and were charging around, pretending to be animals. Donny shuddered. “Look at how dirty they are. Everyone knows dirty children are stupid. I propose we go and ask them.”
It was decided that Ronnie and Maggie, the most persuasive, would go up to them. They sauntered up to the russet skinned children, smiling. The children looked up at them. They were in awe of the cool, well-dressed Piranha Kids; why would they be talking to them? It must be for something important.
“Who here is the leader out of you all?” said Ronnie. The children looked around. “Well, we don't really have a leader...”
“No leader?” Maggie's smiled widened. “Surely someone must be in charge. How do you decide on what to play?”
“Well, we agree on it altogether you see.”
“But wouldn't you like a leader?” said Ronnie. “Someone to look up to, who could help you out, and make sure you play the best games? You'd be better than all of the other kids. You'd be cooler, and lots more fun and everyone would want to be your friend.”
The russet skinned children looked excited. Perhaps if they agreed with them, they could get cool clothes too! “Yes, that sounds great!” they chorused.
“Good, good. Now, all we need is one teensy little favour,” said Maggie. “It is so small, you won't even think about it. We kind of need a fort, you see, if we want to be the coolest kids of the playground. We need you guys to build us a fort-”
“A fort! A fort! The playground for a fort!” They already got to work, picking up giant cardboard boxes and sticking them at the side of the sandpit. Maggie and Ronnie smiled at each other. This was easier than they had thought.
“They've already started it,” said Ronnie triumphantly. “We shan't need to pay them.”
“Well, maybe just a little bit, not to seem rude,” said Donny. “After all, it's not like we're going to let them be part of our playground!” They all laughed at that.

Once the fort had been built, The Piranha Kids went to look at it. It was a real beauty, complete with spaces for each of them to stand in. They smiled at the russet skinned children. “Thank you, what brilliant work!”
George took out three of his gold coins. “For your troubles.” He handed it to them. There were seven of them in total, but they didn't complain; some of them had never seen three whole pounds before. “So now do we get to be Piranha Kids too?” asked one of them eagerly.
Maggie shook her head. “Sorry, we can't do that. Only the coolest kids get to be Piranha Kids.”
The russet skinned children were shocked. “But...we built the fort for you!”
“Yes, and we gave you money,” said Donny. “That's more than enough. You don't need to be in with us as well; learn to be grateful. Now, go away. This playground belongs to us now.” They stood up on the fort. “Get out of the playground!”
“Now, Donny,” said Ronnie. He smiled at the russet skinned children. “What he means is; this is our part of the playground. You can go and play on the other side.”
The russet skinned children looked longingly at the sandpit, and the fort, and the Piranha Kids' cool clothes. But they could see they had lost, so they walked away, some of them starting to cry.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the playground, a boy named Jimmy Doogooder was playing on the swings with his best friend, Linda Left-Eye. She was nicknamed this because she had a black eye-patch on her right-eye, so only her left-eye was showing.
Jimmy was pushing Linda on the swing, whilst looking over at a girl sitting on a park bench reading a book. This girl was called Virginia Sweetmund.
“You should just tell her how you feel,” said Linda. “It's no use staring at her all the time. You should try and talk to her.”
“But what if she doesn't like me?” said Jimmy. “She's so pretty and she's so good at Literacy. Sometimes she helps me when I'm stuck on answers in class.”
“There! See, I'm sure she likes you,” said Linda. “Woo, I can see the tree tops! This is so cool!”
Jimmy sighed. “She might tell me to go away. Apparently her parents are really strict and don't like her talking to boys anyway.”
“Who cares, they don't need to know,” said Linda. “This is so much fun.”
“Can I have a turn now?” he asked.
“Yeah, sure.” Jimmy stopped pushing her, so that the swing gradually started to come lower and lower down. But as Linda felt herself getting lower and lower, she noticed a group of tearful looking children covered in sand, sweat and face paint coming to her and Jimmy. It was the russet skinned children.
“Hello! What's the matter?” she said to them. Her and Jimmy were both eleven; amongst the oldest of the children. The russet skinned children all looked about eight or nine.
“The Piranha Kids told us to go away!” they said, sobbing. “They made us build a fort for them, and then they made us go to the other end of the playground, when we were in the sandpit first!”
“Really?” Jimmy and Linda were both shocked. “That's terrible! Why would they do such a thing?”
“They said they would let us be part of their gang,” said one of them. “But they didn't. They tricked us.”
Linda was horrified. She had never liked The Piranha Kids, but now they were crossing the line. “They shouldn't be doing that! They had no right to.”
“They want to be the leaders of the playground.”
“Leaders of the playground?” said Jimmy. “That's silly. Why should anyone be leaders of the playground? We should be allowed to play whatever we want.”
“They did give us some money,” said another one, holding out the three gold coins. Jimmy and Linda looked at each other. “Only three pounds for seven of you? That's awful.” They decided it was best to go and talk to The Piranha Kids themselves. Jimmy gave one last longing look at Virginia, and then they went to the other side of the playground. They weren't scared of them, and wanted to know what they were up to.

By the time they got there, The Piranha Kids had already gathered a small crowd. They were standing on top of their fort, chanting a loud chant:

“Piranha Kids! Piranha Kids!
We're, oh we're, The Piranha Kids!
Piranha Kids! Piranha Kids!
We're, oh we're, The Piranha Kids!
Come to make, the playground better
Lots more fun for everyone!
Law and order all around
The Piranha Kids are leaders now!”

“What's going on here?” Linda called up to them. “What are you guys doing?”
“We're the leaders of the playground now,” said Maggie. “Look at our fort, see? Everyone has to do what we say.”
“And what exactly is that?” said Jimmy.
“Everyone has to be clean and tidy, not messy and silly. If you want to be cool you can't play dirty a savage.” Someone in the audience went “Boo, we hate savages!”
“Exactly!” said Maggie. “We play civilised games, like Card Games or Board Games, not stupid games like Tag or Kiss-Chase or Truth or Dare. We care about the clothes we wear, and the people we associate ourselves with. Smart people, not stupid people that paint their faces!”
“Yeah! Paint their faces!” called out someone else.
“Face painting is stupid and childish!”
“We want order!”
“But that's boring,” said Jimmy. “People should be allowed to play whatever they want and dress however they want. Does it really matter?”
“We also care about other things,” said Ronnie. “Like, to be part of The Piranha Kids, you have to go to church every Sunday! My Mum said that Jesus is the only correct person to worship. If you worship other Gods then you're a savage and you're stupid.”
“Yeah! Stupid!”
“And you can't talk to other stupid people who don't listen to what we do,” said George. “Because if we do, we'll throw sand at you and start a Sand War!”
“Yeah! Sand War!”
“This is silly,” said Linda. “What do you care about what Gods people worship?”
“Linda! Do you go to church?”
“Well, no,” said Linda. “But that doesn't mean-”
“Jimmy! Do you go to church?”
“Not always...”
“Then you're savages! Go and play with the other savages!” The Piranha Kids scooped up clumps of sand and started shoving it at Jimmy and Linda. “Kick them out! Kick them out! Kick them out!”
“And stay on the other side of the playground!” yelled Donny in his great booming voice. “This is our side now!”

Linda and Jimmy shook the sand off them, shaking their heads. “This is awful,” muttered Linda. “I'll say,” said Jimmy, scratching his hair as sand flew out. “We should do something about this,” said Linda. “They've got no right to order us around like that.”
But Jimmy was distracted. A girl had approached him, a book tucked under her arm. Linda looked at the pair of them, and then slowly walked away, over to the russet skinned children, wondering about how to get back at The Piranha Kids. Meanwhile, Virginia swept some sand off Jimmy's shoulder.
“Thanks,” he said. “How did you get all sandy?” asked Virginia.
“It was The Piranha Kids' fault,” said Jimmy. “They threw sand at me and Linda.”
“Oh, that's not nice,” she said. “The Piranha Kids aren't usually like that. I like them. They all come from respectable backgrounds and sometimes my dad goes to play golf with their dads.”
Jimmy was bewildered. “The Piranha Kids aren't nice! They threw sand at us because we said we don't go to church!”
“You don't go to church?” Virginia put a hand to her mouth. “Oh dear. Why not?”
“ parents are Christian,” he said quickly “but sometimes we don't have the time. We go at Easter, or Christmas, you know, special occasions. But sometimes it's hard...usually on Sundays we have a big family dinner, so we don't have the time for church. I think we forget.” He was trying to say all this so that Virginia didn't think he was a bad person. He couldn't believe that they were having an actual conversation.
“Ok.” She smiled at him. “That's ok.”
“What are you reading? Well, I mean what were you reading, because you're not, erm,  reading it right now.”
“It's called Treasure World,” she said. “It's about this boy called Jim who accidentally falls into this space capsule and it transports him to another dimension where there is nothing but treasure, and he wants to take it home to his parents, but then he finds out that once you get there you're stuck because of the wicked curse from Long Legged Peterson...”
“It sounds really cool!” said Jimmy, who very much liked the fact that the main character was called Jim.
“Maybe you can borrow it after I finish it?” she said. Jimmy nodded. “I'd like that very much.” They didn't say anything for a minute, and then Jimmy heard someone calling his name. It was Linda. “Sorry, I have to go, Linda wants to take down The Piranha Kids.”
“That's mean. Why can't she leave them be?”
“Well...they've sort of taken over the whole playground,” he said. “And I think she wants to defend our side.”
“As long as they don't stop me from reading, I don't mind.”
“Oh they won't mind that, because reading is civilised,” he said. She laughed. “Ok. I'll see you later then.”

Jimmy went over to where Linda and the russet skinned children were. Some other children had joined them, from the climbing frame and the see-saw. They were all complaining.
“The Piranha Kids said we can't paint our faces!”
“They said we can't chase each other around!”
“We're not allowed to pretend to be animals!”
“They said that our clothes are dirty!”

They all started yelling amongst each other, and Linda looked apologetically at Jimmy. “Did you talk to Virginia?”
“Yes, it was great. She's reading this cool book and she said that her parents-”
“Right, right,” said Linda, distracted. “We need to organize our own group to go against The Piranha Kids, and build our own fort. We think that everyone is equal and needs to be allowed to wear what they want and play what they want.”
“That's good.” Jimmy was still thinking about Virginia.
“Come on Jimmy! Focus!”
“Sorry, I was just hoping that my mum's making chicken casserole for dinner tonight.”
Linda's mouth was hanging open. “JIMMY! I thought we were vegetarians?”
“Oh...was that supposed to be permanent? I thought that was only for that week.”
Linda smacked her hand to her forehead. “Never mind. Right, let's get planning.”

On the other side of the playground, The Piranha Kids were thriving still. They now had a hefty group of followers, and all of them were standing around the fort, guarding for any signs of opposition. Meanwhile, the rest of them were obediently playing Snap and Rummy, rather than running around like hooligans. Those who had dirty clothes on had taken them off, so that they were just in their clean vests. After all, it was pretty warm.
Maggie, Ronnie, Donny and George were satisfied. They had successfully managed to get people to do what they wanted. “I think we should go out and look for the others, and chuck sand on them,” said George.
“We can't just throw sand on them like that!” said Maggie. She was beginning to get annoyed with George. “Why do you want to throw sand on people for no reason? There has to be a reason.”
“Jesus said that I should,” he said. “I heard him talking to me last night. He said that it's important we treat bad people as they deserve to be treated.”
“George, we're not going to start a Sand War unless someone tries to attack us,” said Ronnie lazily. “And as you can see, we've got the biggest empire out of the entire playground. No one is going to challenge us. We're the coolest kids here. Let's sing our chant, just to prove how cool we are.”
Donny clapped his hands. “Everyone! Listen up! We, The Piranha Kids, are now going to sing our chant! Let us sing!”

“Piranha Kids! Piranha Kids!
We're, oh we're, The Piranha Kids!
Piranha Kids! Piranha Kids!
We're, oh we're, The Piranha Kids!
Come to make, the playground better
Lots more fun for everyone!
Law and order all around
The Piranha Kids are leaders now!”

But just then, they heard a sound coming from the climbing frame. They looked around, and saw a group of children led by Jimmy and Linda. They could hear them chanting their own chant:

“The Dolphin Crew, The Dolphin Crew,
We are so much better than you!
The Dolphin Crew, The Dolphin Crew,
We'll let you do what you want to do!
You can do whatever you want
The Dolphin Crew won't mind at all
No more order, no more rules
The Dolphin Crew want fun for you!”

The Piranha Kids were furious. “So they think they can make up their own stupid club, now, do they?” said The Piranha Kids. “And it's full of dirty savages!”
“Savages! Savages!” chorused the others. Maggie and Ronnie decided they needed to go and speak to The Dolphin Crew. They climbed down from the fort and went over to the climbing frame. “What do you guys want?” they asked.
“It's not fair what you did to the little ones!” said Linda. “Everyone should be allowed to play whatever games they want. Whether it's Card Games, Tag, Board Games, Stuck in the Mud – it doesn't matter! Who cares what people play or wear?”
“We do!” said Maggie. “We want a playground where smart people play civilised games, not silly games.”
“Well, we want a playground where people can play whatever they want, whether or not they're deemed 'civilised',” said Linda. “And what's that supposed to mean anyway?”
“Besides, you only let certain people be in with The Piranha Kids,” said Jimmy. “We let everyone be part of our gang.”
Then, he noticed a small girl walk over to where the sand pit was. It was Virginia. He jumped down from the climbing frame and walked over to her. “Virginia! What are you doing?” he hissed.
“The Piranha Kids are right, Jimmy,” she said. “It's better to be civilised than to be savage.”
“But we're not savage!” cried Jimmy. “I'm not a savage! I just want people to be allowed to play what they want!”
“Are you sure you're not savage?” she said, nodding back at the direction of Linda and The Dolphin Crew. He noticed they had all painted their faces and were dancing on top of the climbing frame, chanting: “Bring down The Piranha Kids! Bring down The Piranha Kids! Dolphin Crew are Number One! Dolphin Crew want to have some fun!”
“Oh dear,” said Jimmy. Linda had gone quite mad. He looked back at The Piranha Kids. Looking eager, George had now seized his chance to start making sand machinery, in preparation for a Sand War. “Virginia, what if I were to say that we could leave all this? Leave the playground?”
Virginia paused for a moment. “What about The Piranha Kids and The Dolphin Crew?”
“I don't care about them anymore. This has all gotten way out of hand. Virginia...will you be my girlfriend?”
Virginia thought about it, and then smiled. “Yes Jimmy, I will.”
“Ok.” He leaned closer to her, pursing his lips. Virginia stepped back, giggling. “Oh Jimmy, what are you doing?”
“Oh...I, er, thought that now we were boyfriend and girlfriend you could kiss me?”
“Oh, I'm sorry Jimmy but my parents said I'm not allowed to kiss a boy until I get married.”
“Really?” He thought for a moment. “What if we get married now, in the playground? I could ask Linda to marry us. Would that be ok?”
“Yes, I suppose it would.”
He took her hand, and they walked back towards the climbing frame, where The Dolphin Crew was preparing themselves for battle. Jimmy looked at Virginia. “Sorry Linda's gone a bit nuts. She is quite nice really.”
“Oh hello Jimmy and Virginia,” she said. “Have you come to join our side then?” she asked eagerly.
“Actually, me and Virginia are thinking of leaving the playground,” he said.
“Oh? Why?”
“ truth Linda, I feel like this is all going too far.”
She didn't look at all put-out. “Well, suit yourselves then.”
“But before we leave, we'd like to get married.”
“Married! Married!” chorused the russet skinned children. “They want to get married!”
“I'll be the vicar!”
“No, I'll be the vicar!”
“Nobody's the vicar!” said Linda. “We don't like Christianity, remember? This isn't a Christian wedding.”
“What do you mean, you don't like Christianity?” said Virginia, mortified.
“She means she doesn't like people only having to be Christians and nothing else,” said Jimmy quickly. “If Virginia wants a Christian wedding, then we'll have a Christian wedding.”
Linda rolled her eyes. “Ok, fine fine. Karl! You can be the vicar.”
“Oh, goody!” said Karl, tugging at his long hair. The children all put leaves down on the climbing frame and Karl stood at the top, so that Jimmy and Virginia could walk together. The others all crowded around them, with Linda at the front.
“Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the holy matrimony of Jimmy and Virginia...”
“Bla bla bla, can we just skip to the 'I do' bit?” asked Jimmy.
“Do you, Jimmy, take Virginia to be your lawful wedded wife?”
“I do!”
“And do you, Virginia, take Jimmy to be your lawful wedded husband?”
“I do!”
“I now pronounce you man and wife-”
“Husband and wife!” corrected Linda. Karl shook his head. “Husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.”
“You mean, you may now kiss each other-” But no one was listening to Linda; they were all laughing, squealing, or going 'ERR!' as Jimmy and Virginia kissed. Jimmy and Virginia then smiled at each other, and decided to leave the climbing frame and the playground until they returned on Monday.

Meanwhile, The Piranha Kids had nearly got all of their sand together. “Right, now someone needs to be a shooter,” said George.
“I want to be a shooter!” said Maggie.
“You can't, you're a girl,” said Donny.
“What! Girls are just as good as boys! Better!”
“Now Donny, if she wants to be a shooter she can,” said Ronnie, wanting to keep the peace as usual. “Why don't Maggie and George be shooters, and us two can keep watch, and make sure that the so-called Dolphin Crew don't bring us down!”
“Ok, that's fine,” said Donny.
“What about them?” asked George, looking at their army of children. Ronnie thought for a moment. “Why don't we let them charge and fight the savages?”
“Excellent idea!”
“There's plenty of sand to go round.”
“Right, let's do it!” Donny called out in his loud voice to assemble their followers. “Right everybody! The Piranha Kids are now going to attack the stupid, savage Dolphin Crew!”
“Let's attack the savages!”
They started charging towards the climbing frame, whilst the Dolphin Crew stayed sitting at their fort, firing clumps of sand.
But then they noticed The Dolphin Crew was running towards them. They're faces were painted, and they were carrying giant leaves and sticks. The followers of The Piranha Kids dropped their clumps of sand, it seeping through their hands. They started running away, all over the playground.
“What are they doing? No! Chase after them! They're only savages!”
But The Dolphin Crew was chasing all of them around the playground, and if they got hit by the stick they fell to the ground. The Piranha Kids got up and looked around at them all. “No! Stop! This is stupid! This is savage! We want civilisation, remember?”
Linda ran up to Donny and brushed him on the shoulder with her stick. “How dare you! Do you know how much this jumper cost?”
“Who cares. In our land, this is worthless! This is dolphin territory now!”
“That's just a silly game. It's not real,” said Maggie firmly. “Now, should we go back to our fort and round up our troops?”
“I don't know,” said Ronnie. He was watching the others run around. They had stopped being scared and were starting to laugh. “That looks quite fun.”
“Fun? Fun? Monopoly is fun.”
“Well yes, Monopoly is fun, but it's not the only way to have fun,” said Ronnie. “I mean, after all, we are still children. We don't have boring adult responsibilities now. Does it really matter what Jesus says or what kind of clothes we wear?”
“You're being stupid,” said Donny. Maggie was shocked. “Ronnie, how can you be talking like this? It doesn't make any...”
But Ronnie had run off, and started joining in with the others, running around. George shrugged. “It won't hurt to have a little game.” He ran off too. Maggie sighed. “Sorry Donny, but I can't really leave Ronnie. He won't remember the way back home without me otherwise.” And she was gone too. Only Donny was left by himself.

Donny was torn. Something inside of him wanted to go and join in, but he didn't want to play with those stupid, messy, poor children who wore scrappy clothes and were always misbehaving in class. But at the same time, he didn't want to lose his friends. What was he to do?
“Hello,” someone called out to him. He turned around, jumping. He hadn't noticed two boys that were watching the whole time. They both had a weird shape drawn onto their foreheads. He hadn't noticed them in school, but perhaps they were very quiet.
“What are you names?” asked Donny. “You can call me Hit-Boy,” said the tallest one. “And this is my brother, Joseph.” He pointed to his brother, a small, squat boy with thick bushy hair. “We've heard everything that has been going on. But the way we see it, there is only one way to get the power of everyone in the playground.”
“What...what is it?” spluttered Donny.
Hit-Boy smiled. “Join our club, and you'll see. We'll tell you all of our secrets. Join us, and we will have the real power over the playground. What do you say?”
Donny looked back at the others running around, and then he turned to Hit-Boy, Joseph and their unknown secrets. He smiled and made his decision.

The End

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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