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One afternoon, Zac Power was shopping for cool new sneakers at the Westbridge Mall.
Zac was a bit of an expert on the subject of being cool. He was 12 years old, and he worked as a spy for the Government Investigation Bureau, or GIB for short.
As he shopped, Zac watched out for people he knew. He didn’t want anyonefrom school to think he cared how he looked. That would be trying too hard.
At Hot Diggity, the hot dog shop, Ann and her best friend Lucy were giggling into their milkshakes. Girls!
His favorite CD shop, Tunez, was full of kids from school. The whole world seemed to be hanging out at Westbridge. But Zac slipped by them all, unnoticed.
Zac headed towards Sports Station. Inside, the music was so loud the walls were shaking. It was rock music, the only kind Zac liked. Sports Station had the best sneakers at Westbridge. Zac’s favorites were a pair with green and yellow stripes on the side.
Zac picked them up. Right away, a sales guy bounced over. A plastic nametag on a cord around his neck read, "Davo."
"How’re you doing, man?" asked Davo.
"Can I try these? Size ... uh . . . eight?" Zac said.
"Sure thing. I’ll go check in the back."
The sales guy disappeared into the storeroom. Zac waited. He looked at some T-shirts. No sales assistant. He picked up a magazine and checked out the photos of kids skateboarding down stair rails in the latest clothes. Still no Davo.
What is he doing back there?
Suddenly, Davo reappeared, a shoebox in his hand and a weird look on his face.
"We didn’t have size eight in the green and yellow. But why don’t you try these?"
He opened the box. Inside, Zac saw a pair of the ugliest sneakers ever. They were grey, the color of belly button lint. The soles were twice as thick as ordinary sneakers. They were covered in wires and flashing lights.
"Nah, that’s OK, thanks," said Zac, heading for the door.
"Come on! They’re limited edition. I guarantee no one else’ll have a pair like them."
Zac rolled his eyes. "No one would want to!"
Davo pulled the grey sneakers out of the box.
Just try em.
Heaving a big sigh, Zac grabbed the shoes and pulled them on. They felt even worse than they looked!
As soon as his feet were inside, clamps grabbed Zac’s ankles. He stood up and couldn’t help wobbling as he took a step. Each sneaker must have weighed about 100 pounds.
"What do you think?" asked Davo.
Zac shook his head. "I might wait ’til you get the others in."
"Oh, come on, Zac. Just take them."
Zac? How did this guy know my name?
Davo leaned over to pick up the box. His nametag flipped over and Zac caught a glimpse of the back.
Was it? Yes, it was! The GIB crest!
Davo grabbed Zac by the arm and whispered in his ear, "They’re yours, OK? Now get out of here."
Before Zac could stop him, Davo disappeared with Zac’s old sneakers. Great! Now Zac had to walk all the way home in the weird grey sneakers.
He stepped out of Sports Station. Ann and Lucy had finished their milkshakes and gone home. Maybe he was safe. . . .
Then . . .
There was an earsplitting explosion. A cloud of white smoke. The gross grey sneakers had exploded!
Zac shot up off the ground. He flew through the air, propelled by his exploding sneakers. They had the force of ten rockets. No, make that 100 rockets!
Zac shot past Hot Diggity Tunez was a blur. He was flying toward a set of elevators. The metal doors were closed. Yikes! He was going to smash right into them.
At the very last second, the elevator doors opened. And suddenly, Zac was falling. He looked up and saw the elevator stuck high above him. He was falling straight down the elevator shaft.
Round and round, faster and faster he fell in a midair forward roll.
At the bottom of the elevator shaft, Zac landed with a thud on hard, cold concrete. Lucky he had been taught how to land safely during GIB training, or he would have broken a bone for sure.
The elevator doors opened with a ping.
Zac was in an underground parkinggarage. Parked nearby was a white van with a satellite dish on top. The door opened and a strong pair of arms dragged Zac into the back.
The door slammed shut and, with a screech of tires, the van took off.
Zac looked down at his feet. The exploding sneakers were completely gone. All that was left was a very holey, smoky pair of socks.
"Hello, Zac," said the strong-armed man, who was driving the van. "I’ve been expecting you."
Excerpted from Zac Power by H.I. Larry.
Copyright © 2006 by H.I. Larry.
Published in November 2008 by Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.