The Radio

Max sat in his bedroom, thinking to himself deeply.  That day, at school, Edward made a fool of him in front of his entire class.  He did not want to think about exactly what happened, but knew he’d have to do something.  He’d have to do something to make Edward look like the fool, so he could regain their respect.  He then looked down, and saw his little sister Amy was standing in the room, staring at him.

“Get out, Amy,” he said, still upset over what happened, “this is my room.”

“Sourpuss!” Amy said.

Max got angry, and stood up.

“Did I not say get out?” he said, frustrated.

He started to walk towards Amy, and she ran out of the room.  Then, he noticed his homework was gone.  Knowing his sister he immediately knew she was the one who took it.

“That little thief!” he cried.

He was about to go after her, when he heard his mother’s voice from downstairs.  She had just arrived home from work.

“Max, Amy,” she cried, “I’m home.  Max, you’ve got a package!”

“Coming, mom,” Max said.

He stepped out of his room, and walked out to the front hall.  He noticed a package addressed to him sitting on an end table.  He thought it was strange, who’d have reason to send him a package?  Plus, there was no return address.  He got curious and took the package back to his room, where he tore it open.  Inside, he saw an old-fashioned black radio.

“Who’d send me this junk,” Max said with a sigh.

“I am not junk,” a voice replied.

Max stepped back for a moment, shocked.

“Amy,” he said, “this had better not be one of your silly jokes.”

But the voice sounded nothing like Amy, and it was definitely coming from the radio’s speakers, not Amy’s room.

“That’s right, I’m inside this radio,” the voice said.

Max was still getting over what was happening.  An intelligent radio; he couldn’t believe it!

“I was sent to you,” the voice on the radio explained, “because your heart desires revenge.  I can give you that revenge you desire.”

“Wait, what?” Max said.

“Simply say ‘then’ followed by a brief description of a curse,” the radio said, “and I will place the curse on somebody.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Max said, “I bet somebody pre-recorded this message as a joke.”

But as ridiculous as he thought it sounded, his curiosity and desire to have his revenge against his tormenters got the best of him.  He decided to try it out, and see what would happen.

“Then Amy,” Max said, pausing for a moment, “must do everything that I tell her to.”

“It is done,” the radio said.

Max tested the curse, “Amy!  Bring me my homework!”

Amy ran into his room, and placed the homework on the ground in front of Max.  He was about to ask her to do his homework for him, but realized that her still being in fifth grade while he was in ninth, she wouldn’t be smart enough to answer most of the questions.  He ultimately decided to humiliate her.

“And for the rest of the night, you will act like you are a dog,” he added.

Amy got down on all fours and said “Woof woof!”

Max laughed as Amy crawled out of the room.  He was overjoyed with the prospects of what he could do with this power.

The next morning, he made sure to put the radio in his backpack before going to school.  As soon as he entered the building, he noticed Edward was standing at his locker, a smug grin on his face, looking at the boy he humiliated the day before.  Max approached him, and prepared to have his revenge.

“Back for more?” Edward taunted.

Max smiled.  Edward didn’t know what he was in for.  Other students started to gather around, thinking a fight was about to start.  But before Edward could make his move, Max muttered quietly, “Then your pants will fall down.”

Thus, Edward’s pants fell down, revealing his underwear.  This made the students watching start to laugh hysterically, and Edward’s face turn red with embarrassment.  Max smiled sadistically.  If he continued to humiliate Edward like this, the others would surely forget all about his own humiliation the day before.

Edward pulled his pants back up.

“Then the next time you speak,” Max muttered, “You’ll insult yourself.”

“I’m an idiot!” Edward cried, in response to the curse.  The watching students laughed once more.

Edward held his hands to his mouth.  He did not mean to say that, and did not understand what was happening, but before he could figure anything out, Max gave him one final curse.

“Then you will trip on the carpet,” he said, “and hit Brad as you fall.”

With that, Edward tripped, and fell, banging his head into Brad, the biggest, most short-tempered student in the school, as he fell.  Brad looked at Edward angrily.  Everybody knew what would happen next, though Max decided it would be best he didn’t stay around for it.  He headed off to class.

The curses made Edward become the laughingstock of the school, and Max was satisfied, especially because everybody else had forgotten his humiliation the day prior.  Despite that, there were a few people who did remember and laugh at Max, or try to humiliate him in other ways, but thanks to the radio’s curses, they were easily taken care of.

Throughout the next few weeks, the radio drastically improved his life at school.  When somebody gave him trouble, he just used the radio to cause them a much greater problem.  As time went on, he became more creative with his curses.  He made one kid climb the flagpole, and another streak during gym class.  Another time, he caused a bunch of pop quizzes to disappear, saving his grade from a quiz he believed was unfair.

His home life improved dramatically too.  With Amy under his control, she no longer did anything to bother him.  Plus, he got a sadistic pleasure out of giving her embarrassing orders, but did not realize the consequences of this action.

He sat in his room one afternoon, thinking of more amusing curses he could inflict on people, but he was more relieved that next week would be a vacation week, so he would have no school, and be able to relax at home.  Everything was alright until he heard his mother walk into the room.

“Max,” she said, “we’re going to be taking a trip into the country next week.  We’ll be leaving tomorrow.”

“But I already made plans,” Max said, “and it’s a week off!  Can’t we just spend it here?”

“I understand this is short notice,” his mother said, trying to be sympathetic, “but Amy’s been acting crazier and crazier, and none of the local psychiatrists understand what’s wrong with her.  We’re taking her to see an expert, and we think the visits will be a week-long thing.”

“But can’t you just take her alone?” Max said, “I’m old enough to stay home alone.”

“Not for a whole week,” his mother said, “and besides, the last time we trusted you, the house was a mess!  I’m afraid you’re going to have to come.  Get packed, and we’ll leave first thing after we wake up.”

In the heat of the moment, Max said “Then, I’d better not wake up!” without realizing what he was saying.

That night, he went to bed, and never woke up.


Author’s Notes (may contain spoilers):

So, The Radio was another of my stories from 2004, one of the few from that time that I still haven’t lost. I originally wrote it during some extra time during my own classes (when I’d finished my work, of course). I later shared it with some people for my English class, and it wasn’t very popular, though I believe that may have been due to my inexperience writing at the time. I’ve recently updated the story, rewrote at least 90% of it, and believe it is better now; though I’d still hardly consider it my best work.

I wrote it as a story about revenge, and the dangers of it, along with the idea that power corrupts (even though Max was pretty unlikable from the start), with just a hint of “be careful what you wish for”. I added the storyline about the sister in the rewrite as a means of making it a bit more interesting, making it so Max’s own actions indirectly led to his downfall at the end. The idea of Max inadvertently cursing himself at the end came to me on a whim when I was writing the first time, but today, I think that’s one of the best parts of the story. It goes to show that spontaneity when writing can be a good thing.

One rather unusual criticism I got was one student saying that Max was too similar to Frank from The Warehouse, as they both got tormented by school bullies. However, there is a key difference. Frank grew depressed and ran away from the problem, while Max decided to confront it, and strike back. Where Frank just wanted to avoid trouble, Max had a sadistic desire to have revenge against his tormenters. The two characters are completely different – but I did find the comparison interesting.

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3 thoughts on “The Radio

  1. Pingback: Reflection: Confidence and Criticism | White Rakogis's Lair

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