Shut Down! True Courage Reveals the Laptop's Truth

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The Time Has Come Matt and his friends finally uncover the mysterious truth behind the laptop—and those who created it. When the awful truth is revealed, Sam is captured. Now, the boys have to band together and stage a secret sting operation to rescue their friend. Danger threatens to take over the world, but they can only stop it ... if they can muster the courage.

Filled with action, humor, and edge-of-your-seat suspense, the 2:52 Soul Gear ...

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Overview

The Time Has Come Matt and his friends finally uncover the mysterious truth behind the laptop—and those who created it. When the awful truth is revealed, Sam is captured. Now, the boys have to band together and stage a secret sting operation to rescue their friend. Danger threatens to take over the world, but they can only stop it ... if they can muster the courage.

Filled with action, humor, and edge-of-your-seat suspense, the 2:52 Soul Gear Laptop series teaches boys how to become Smarter, Stronger, Deeper, and Cooler —just like Jesus.

Through imaginative and innovative products, Zonderkidz is feeding young souls.

While trying to recover records of the technology that allows stories typed into a laptop to actually occur, Sam is captured and thirteen-year-old Matt and his friends must find the courage to acquire the disks and rescue her.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310706670
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz
  • Publication date: 1/16/2004
  • Series: 2:52⢠/ Soul Gear⢠/ Laptop Series
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.05 (w) x 7.12 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher P. N. Maselli has been sharing God's Word with kids through stories for nearly 10 years. He is the author of multiple award-winning projects. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife.

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Read an Excerpt

Shut Down!

True Courage Reveals the Laptop's Truth
By Christopher P.N. Maselli

Zonderkidz

Copyright © 2004 Christopher P. N. Maselli
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-70667-X


Chapter One

Apprehensions

The inventor worked long and hard to destroy her own invention ... or at the very least, those who would misuse it. She knew eventually her rest would come. The question was: at what cost?

Wednesday, 6:52 p.m.

"Your knee's shaking."

Matt stopped shaking his knee. "No, it's not."

Isabel Zarza stared Matt straight in the face. He looked away from her swallowing brown eyes.

"C'mon, Matt," Isabel pressed him, her voice sounding like newly-spun honey. "I know you. What's wrong?"

Matt's knee started shaking again.

I'm just a bit on edge, he wanted to say, because this Saturday I'm going to more than just a wrestling tournament. I'm about to encounter a very dangerous situation because a mysterious woman I barely know but implicitly trust, asked me to. I'm Superman. Saving the world without anyone ever knowing it.

Isabel let out a long breath. She looked across the room. Matt followed her gaze; their youth pastor was getting ready to start youth group. Matt loved youth group, and he loved talking to Isabel ... but tonight he was, well, just a bit on edge. All because I'm responsible for saving the world, he thought again.

"I know things will go fine at your tournament," Isabel encouraged him. "I'll even pray that God will give you strength just like before."

"Thanks," Matt said with a genuine smile. He wasn't afraid; that wasn't it. He just wasn't sure if he had what it would take to save the world. That's kind of a heavy thing to lay on the shoulders of a thirteen-year-old, Matt thought.

Isabel returned his smile, her eyes twinkling, but worry marks wrinkled her forehead. Matt hoped this wouldn't be the last time he saw her smile.

Wednesday, 8:27 p.m.

"Your knee's shaking."

Matt stopped shaking his knee. "No, it's not."

Pastor Mick Ruhlen, youth pastor at Enisburg Community Church, stared Matt straight in the face. The youth service was over and Matt's stomach was still in knots. "What's going on, dude? You can tell me."

Matt sighed. Not this time, he thought. He looked at Pastor Ruhlen's chia-pet shaped hair up close. It was orange tonight.

"C'mon, dude," Pastor Ruhlen said emphatically. "I know you were hardly payin' attention during the service. That's not like my guy, Matt. What's wrong?"

Matt looked across the youth hall at bleach-blonde haired, 200-and-some-pound bully, Hulk Hooligan. The big lug had his hand under his shirt, making armpit noises.

"Why single me out?" Matt said defensively. "Hulk never listens."

"Right-e-o," Pastor Ruhlen agreed, laying his surfer-dude talk on thick. "But you do."

Matt shrugged. "I have a lot on my mind," he admitted. For instance, what if this mission Sam roped us into doesn't go as planned? What if something goes wrong? What then? How will I handle it? And how will I forgive myself if the laptop gets into the wrong hands?

"Well, friend," Pastor Ruhlen comforted, throwing a lanky arm around Matt's shoulders, "whatever it is, you can be sure that God will be with you."

"Yeah."

Pastor Ruhlen jumped up suddenly and ran to the podium at the front of the room. He grabbed his sermon notes and ran back to Matt. "Here ye go," he said, stuffing them into Matt's hand.

"What's this?"

"That's my message from tonight. I call it 'Cougar Courage.'"

"Why?"

"You really weren't listenin', were ya? 'Cuz you're a 2:52 guy. Remember Luke 2:52?"

Matt recited, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

"Right-e-o!" Pastor Ruhlen shouted. "Jesus grew smarter, stronger, deeper, and cooler! And you're growin' the same way. One thing about growin' deeper is knowing that God has given us courage like lions. Read the notes."

"I thought you said it was 'Cougar Courage.'"

Pastor Ruhlen opened his hands in front of him. "Well, yeah. But 'Lion Courage' just didn't sound as good for a title. Now, c'mon, roar for me."

"Huh?"

"Rowrrr! Rowrrr! Rowrrr!"

Matt looked around to see if anyone was watching. "Say, 'I've got Cougar Courage! Rowrrr!' Do it!"

Matt whispered, "I've got ... Cougar Courage."

"Rowrrr!"

"Grr."

"Okay, that'll do, dude! It'll grow! Just promise me you'll read the notes."

Matt nodded, pushing them into his pocket. Come Saturday he would need more than notes. Much more.

Thursday, 9:52 a.m.

"Your knee's shaking."

Matt stopped shaking his knee. "No, it's not."

Matt's best friends, Lamar, Gill, and Alfonzo grouped around Matt's locker as he pulled out books for his next class.

"Okay," Matt finally admitted, "maybe it is. I'm just a bit nervous about this weekend."

"You'll do fine in the tournament," Lamar encouraged.

"It's not the wrestling tournament I'm nervous about," Matt said softly.

"Oh, right," Lamar said as though he'd forgotten about their mission.

"I'm not nervous," Gill offered with a big smile on his face. His eyes popped and his red hair bounced. "I'm bringing my spy bag."

"Please don't," Alfonzo pleaded.

"Are you sure we have to go through with this?" Lamar asked Matt. "In this way?"

"It should be no big deal," Matt replied. "All we have to do is be Sam's eyes and ears. We don't have to do anything dangerous. She promised."

"That's real comforting," Lamar said with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

Slam!

At once, Matt's locker crashed shut. Matt had barely pulled his hands out before getting them smashed.

"So ya nervous 'bout wrestlin', Calhan?!" Hulk Hooligan shouted loud enough for everyone to hear.

"Cal-a-han," Matt corrected his last name.

Hulk pushed Matt's friends aside and leaned into Matt's face. "Good ting I'm on yer team," he said, sounding like Rocky. "Or I'd squash ya like a bug!"

Matt and his friends stayed quiet.

"What?" Hulk asked.

No one said a word.

Then Hulk pressed, "Ya plannin' somethin' tomorrow I should know about?"

"Uh ... no," Matt said truthfully. Tomorrow they were taking a school bus to the wrestling tournament, and then wrestling most of the day. Their plans were for the next day ... Saturday.

Hulk leaned back and smiled. "C'mon, tell me."

"Not on your life," Alfonzo said quickly.

"So ya are plannin' somethin'!"

Matt's eyes darted to Alfonzo.

"Ya don't haveta tell me," Hulk said coolly. "I'll find out soon enough. I'm not takin' my eyes off ya."

And with that, Hulk stomped off, shaking the hall floor with every step.

"Great," Matt said, squeezing his temples with his fingers. "That's all we need."

"Don't worry about it," Lamar said. "We'll lose him."

"We'd better," Matt said with a nod.

"We will," Gill said optimistically. "'Cuz I'm bringing my spy bag!"

Thursday, 5:13 p.m.

After a long day at school, Matt stood beside his mailbox, thumbing through the letters addressed to "Occupant."

"Hi."

Matt smiled, then looked up to see Isabel standing across the street at her own mailbox. She reached in and pulled out a small clump of mail that looked identical to what Matt held in his own hand.

"Hey." Matt walked toward her.

Isabel looked exactly as she had the night before at youth group, her midnight black hair tumbling down her back like a waterfall. No matter how many times Matt saw Isabel, she always seemed to take his breath away. That was one of the strange things about turning into a teenager. Matt used to run the other way when he saw a girl. Now ... he was strangely interested in just ... hearing her voice.

"You doing better?" Isabel asked, shyly peeking up from her letters.

Matt pursed his lips. For a brief moment he had forgotten about his impending mission with Sam ... now it had come back to smack him in the face.

"I'm doing all right," he said softly.

"Look," Isabel said suddenly, "I know it's none of my business, but I've been praying for you guys-you, Lamar, Gill, and my brother Alfonzo-and I just don't have a good feeling about this weekend."

Matt felt the envelopes slip from his hand. They hit the pavement with a slap. He quickly bent down to pick them up. "Y-you think I'll lose the wrestling tournament?" he stammered, picking up the letters one by one.

Isabel bent down and met Matt at knee level, her long hair draping in front of her. "No, not just that. It's ... something else. I don't know. When I prayed, I could just ... tell. You need to be careful."

Matt looked up and his and Isabel's eyes locked. He didn't want to dismiss her. She was a girl, and Matt's mom always told him that girls had a built in suspicion ... or something like that. Girls just "know" about stuff, his mother had said.

"This is just ... something I have to do," Matt stated, not quite sure if that would make any sense to Isabel. As far as she knew, he was simply traveling up the coast to a wrestling tournament. That was all.

As they stood again, Isabel said, "I understand facing hard stuff. Really, I do. When we were in Mexico City, we didn't want to leave, but we knew it was something we had to do. Papa said it was time. So we left and came here for his new job."

"I'm sure it wasn't easy."

"It was terrifying! But Papa said we had to be courageous and do it, so we did. And you know what? We found this house completely by accident and now we feel safe."

"How about that," Matt said. Still, the last thing he felt was "safe." Day in and day out, danger hung over him. Things hadn't been safe since the day he had turned thirteen. He didn't know how he would do it, but somehow, he needed to make things safe again. And while he didn't have the kind of "suspicion" Isabel did, he somehow knew that what he was about to do with Sam could change everything. It could literally change the course of the world ... or keep it from taking a wrong turn, anyway.

"Do me a favor?" Matt asked Isabel.

"Anything," she said completely serious.

"Keep praying. Saturday's coming awfully quick."

"Saturday?" Isabel said with a smirk. "You mean tomorrow: Friday. By Saturday, the tournament will be over."

Matt nodded thoughtfully. Then he said, "Still ... pray for Saturday, too."

With a double take, Isabel softly bit her bottom lip.

Thursday, 7:04 p.m.

Matt sat at his kitchen table across from his mother and father. He didn't feel much like eating. He just pecked at his meatloaf.

Mr. and Mrs. Calahan exchanged glances.

"You all right?" Matt's dad asked.

Matt shrugged. "I guess."

"You don't look all right," Matt's mother observed.

Matt wiped his mouth with his napkin and sat back. "I guess I'm just not hungry."

"You're nervous, aren't you, honey?" Peggy Calahan said. "I noticed when you sat down your knee was shaking."

Matt stopped shaking his knee. He gave her a weak smile.

"It'll be fine, Ace," Mr. Calahan comforted.

Matt stared at the meatloaf on his plate. They thought he was worried about his upcoming wrestling tournament, same as Isabel. Only he, Lamar, Gill, and Alfonzo knew their trip was much more than that. Tomorrow they were leaving and wrestling ... and the next day it would begin. The mission.

After his parents downed a few more bites, Matt felt compelled to ask, "How do you know if you have enough courage to do something that's hard?"

Mr. and Mrs. Calahan exchanged glances again. Matt's dad set down his fork. "Well," he said. "Sometimes you don't know. But what's important is to do what's right-because it's right."

Matt looked up at his dad, a square-jawed, broad-shouldered, black-haired man who wore a plaid shirt. "And then you're courageous? Because you do what's right?"

Stan Calahan nodded. "It takes courage to do the right thing."

Matt's eyebrows furled. The right thing. "That's not always easy though," he said.

Mr. Calahan looked down. "It never is."

"Stan," Mrs. Calahan spoke up, "you should tell him."

Matt looked at his mother. "Tell me what?"

"You mean-" Matt's dad began, then stopped.

Matt's mom nodded.

"What?" Matt asked again.

Mr. Calahan let out a long breath.

"Several months ago ... around the time of your birthday ... your mother and I ... well, we were having some troubles, Matt."

"What kind of troubles?" Matt asked quickly.

"Parent troubles," Mr. Calahan said.

Matt wanted to scream, Are you kidding me?! He didn't ... because inside, at the time, he had known.

"It was really hard," Matt's father said, clearing his throat.

Matt's mother tightened her lips, staring down at her iced tea.

"What'd you do?" Matt asked softly.

"We made it through," Stan Calahan said. "We knew it was the right thing to do-for our family. For us. So, as hard as it was, we made some changes and we mustered the courage. And we haven't regretted a day of it." He smiled softly at his wife, who looked up and smiled back, her eyes glistening.

Matt blinked and looked down at his meatloaf again.

The right thing. Matt knew what the right thing to do was in his situation. It was to go on the mission. It was to help by being Sam's eyes and ears. It was to be a part of saving the world from evil. But he couldn't help but wonder ... would he have the courage to do it?

Friday, 4:30 p.m.

Matt cracked his fingers. Away from home, quite a way up the West Coast, Lamar had just wrestled, Gill had videotaped it, and Alfonzo was keeping score. Coach Plymouth called Matt to the mat. He stepped up.

He wrestled with the competition and won the match without breaking a sweat. Nothing about the wrestling tournament could rattle him. Not even a whole slur of jeers from Hulk, his own teammate. Matt was sure this was small potatoes compared to what was coming.

Friday, 11:58 p.m.

Amid the snores of his teammates, Matt quietly prayed. For the umpteenth time, he went over the plan in his mind.

Tomorrow morning, during their free time at the beach, they would rent jet skis and meet up with Sam, who would be cruising in her boat. Matt would bring his laptop and the wireless network card Sam had given him. They were the keys to a successful mission, to helping Matt be Sam's guidance from a distance. If everything went like clockwork, evil would be thwarted and they would be on their way back to the beach in a flash.

If everything went like clockwork.

"Cougar Courage," Matt muttered to himself. "Just do the right thing. Help me, God, to do what's right."

Continues...


Excerpted from Shut Down! by Christopher P.N. Maselli Copyright © 2004 by Christopher P. N. Maselli. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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