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Strxia: The Odds Are Against Us

Strxia: The Odds Are Against Us

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Strxia: The Odds Are Against Us

197 pagine
2 ore
Dec 1, 2018


STRXIA: THE ODDS ARE AGAINST US is a science fiction book with a target audience of elementary school students in the age range of eight to twelve. While first and foremost an action-packed portal fantasy, the plot of STRXIA is simultaneously designed to introduce readers to the basic principles of physics in an entertaining way, with an emphasis on Newton's laws of motion.
Dec 1, 2018

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Anteprima del libro

Strxia - Maggie Daniels



Chapter 1

The Draft

The Hut was a miniature warehouse, barely larger than a double-wide office trailer, located on the corner of Market Street and Midlothian Boulevard. Shelving units stacked with sporting equipment lined the walls of the timeworn building, partially hiding the mold that clung to the unfinished drywall. A meeting room littered with rusted card tables and folding chairs was in the back of the warehouse. At one of the tables, two men and a woman sat, hunched over with their jackets on, reviewing hastily scratched notes and rating scales. Another man paced the room, waiting.

Commissioner Ed Frey was the man who paced. After multiple treks back and forth across the room, he came to a halt and glanced at the plastic clock that hung off-center above a tattered banner emblazoned with Bridgeport County Youth Association. The clock read 7:56 p.m.

Close enough, Ed thought. He sighed and took a seat.

Coaches, he said, the Board of Directors compiled the registration data for this season and, frankly, the numbers are a mess. Down for five years straight. Kids are picking other sports and we can’t compete. I have to tell you, the Board is making noises about cutting the whole baseball program.

Tell us something new, Commissioner, said Derrick Stein. Those jokers have wanted us to let them off the hook for years. The fields are a mess; the gear is falling apart. We can’t get enough coaches. We’re trying to patch a sinking aircraft carrier with duct tape.

On the positive side, said Ed, I was able to recruit another coach. Actually, he called me to volunteer. He should be here any minute.

Who’s our latest victim? asked Derrick. I hope his kid really loves the game. That’s the only reason I’m wasting my time with this train wreck.

I don’t think he has any kids, replied Ed. He just wants to coach.

Listen, Ed, said Trish Ransom, looking up from her phone. Can we get a move on? It’s absolutely freezing in here and I have a… The scrape of the door against the dirty concrete floor cut her off. Heads turned toward the stranger.

Hey, the newcomer said as he walked across the room. He sat down at the table, selecting the chair closest to the door.

Welcome, Scott. You’re right on time, said Ed. Coaches, this is Scott Mirkana. He’s new to the area. Played in the majors back in the day. The other coaches did a double take, astonished by this information.

Scott’s agreed to be one of our AAA coaches, Ed continued. Scott, this is Marc Dieke, Trish Ransom, and Derrick Stein.

Who’d you play for? Marc asked. He couldn’t help himself. He was a baseball nut and didn’t recognize this guy’s name.

I played very briefly, said Scott.

Marc nodded at the vague reply, then pulled his phone out of his pocket, ready to run a search on the name Scott Mirkana as soon as no one was watching.

Let’s get started, said Ed. He handed everyone a sheet of paper. These are the compiled ratings from assessments. Scott, you weren’t here but the players were given scores from one to five for throwing, fielding, pitching, and hitting. Best possible overall score is 20. I averaged out the ratings and ranked them highest to lowest. Forty-two kids showed up for assessments for the AAA league. That’s our 9- and 10-year-olds. So we’ll have four teams, each with 10 to 11 players. Draw a card and we’ll start with whoever gets the ace. Ed held out four cards.

Trish drew first. Two, she said.

Derrick took a card and grimaced. Four. Shoot.

Marc was next. Ace! he said, waving the card above his head triumphantly. That left the three for Scott.

Okay, I want to keep this as efficient as possible, said Ed. "If your child is playing, you have to pick him in the round he’s been placed.

Scott, most of these kids have been playing since t-ball, so we’ve had them in the program for a long time and know their strengths, Ed explained. Feel free to ask any questions.

I’m first, said Marc, smiling. I’ll take Blake Balstrom.

No kidding, muttered Derrick. Balstrom was the highest ranked player on the list.

Trish was next, Charlie Payne.

Scott, not even glancing at the ratings, said, Seth Cox.

Who? asked Marc, scanning down the list of names. Seth Cox was dead last.

Ah, Scott, said Trish. Just to clarify, the players are ranked highest to lowest. Seth’s average score is four out of 20 possible points.

Should be a zero, Derrick said, snickering. That kid was off-the-charts hopeless at assessments.

Cut it, Ricky, said Trish, who had known Derrick for too many years to count and purposefully used his childhood nickname to irritate him. Derrick scowled.

Seth’s a nice kid, Trish said. His dad isn’t around and I know his mom has wanted him to try a sport for years. Give him a break. Hey, I’ll be happy to take him in a later round, Scott. You should use these early rounds to get the best players possible.

I’m good, said Scott. Seth stays.

All the better for me, said Derrick. I’ll take Noah Tracy.

The draft continued with minimal griping, the only disruptions occurring when Scott’s choices were made…

Round 2

Jared Carpenter, said Scott when it was his turn.

Great arm, commented Trish.

Yea, but he’ll be suspended by mid-season and his parents are as psycho as he is, said Derrick. Have at it, Coach.

I wouldn’t touch him, added Marc. "Last season he attacked an umpire who called a ball on one of his pitches, and he was ahead on the count. He went nuts. Ejected from the game. I think he’s still on probation. If you ask me, he won’t make it past the first game."

Acknowledged, said Scott.

Round 3

Alex Rodgers, said Scott.

Might want to rethink that one, said Marc. "Alex and Jared Carpenter will not get along. My kid knows them both and let’s just say that their personalities clash. Plus Alex is the only girl in the league and new to the game. I’ve heard she burns through sports like wildfire. Nothing stays."

She’s still finding her way, said Trish, but I think she’s got some natural talent.

Got it, said Scott.

Round 4

Chase Morales, said Scott.

Derrick couldn’t contain himself any longer. What are you playing at, Mirkana? He glared at Scott. The mercy team? With the exception of ‘Crazy Carpenter,’ your picks are all from the bottom of the barrel. The parents will hate you for this and the kids won’t appreciate getting crushed every week.

Scott stood up and slowly pushed his chair back in place; the scrape of the metal legs along the grimy concrete floor caused the others to wince.

Commissioner, Scott said to Ed, I have to leave for another appointment. I’ll take any of the remaining players for the rest of my roster.

Noting the astounded expressions around the table, he said, It’s fine. I know the Odds are against us.

Chapter 2

Right Field

Coach Mirkana calmly watched his assistant coach, Doug Beck, let loose on the players during their fourth practice of the season. Coach Bark, as the players secretly referred to him for his tendency to growl out commands like a pit bull, was particularly intense today. Mirkana took it all in stride. After working with his assistant coach during the past few weeks, he was used to his abrasive style, but he could tell his players were on edge.

For the love of all things sane in baseball, Greg! Get your mitt dirty when grounding a ball. I could drive a train under there, Coach Beck screamed as Greg watched a grounder go between his legs to the outfield.

Greg stayed bent over, yoga style, keeping his head between his knees as he watched the outfielder scoop up the ball. This served two purposes. One was to examine if, in fact, a train could be driven between his mitt and the ground. He determined one could not. The other was in hopes that, if he waited long enough, Coach Beck might turn his attention elsewhere. He was successful in this respect.

Coach Beck next hit a dribbler down the third base line. The third baseman appropriately charged and scooped up the ball, but his throw to first came up short.

Steven! Beck hollered. What are you doing? My dead grandma can throw to first better than that.

Crack! Coach Beck hit a pop fly to left field. Cole ran for it, but he misjudged the ball and it landed eight feet in front of him.

Beck was all over him. Wheels, Cole, wheels! You gotta get there.

It seemed nobody was up to the task in Coach Beck’s view.

"Chase. What’s up? That mitt gotta hole in it or something?

"What are you scared of, Alex? Is that ball the boogie man or what?

"Get in front of that ball, Turner. Chicks dig scars!

"Smitty, my man! I do believe I’ve seen a three-toed sloth move faster than that on Brazilian National ‘Be Even Slower than Normal’ Sloth Day."

Seth watched with bewildered amazement from right field, thinking to himself, Why would anyone want to play a sport where you’re compared to dead grandmas and three-toed sloths? Is this supposed to be fun?

While taking it all in, Seth did have fun in his own way. Fun, for Seth, was numbers. Amidst the yelling and commotion, Seth was thinking about math.

Seth’s first memories contained numbers. His birth certificate, shown to him on his third birthday by his mom, had a set of them in the upper left-hand corner: 32-146178. It also had a state filing number next to his mom’s name: Linda Cox, file 423-16-467525. He still remembered these numbers, seven years later, like most numerical groupings that were meaningful to him.

A few days after Seth’s third birthday, his mom sat next to him at their small kitchen table while he enjoyed a snack of English peas. Linda watched while Seth used a fork to push the peas around his plate for a long time, making all sorts of crazy

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