Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur is a Spy!
I’M BILLY SURE. Up until a moment ago, I thought I was a normal kid—a normal kid with normal schoolwork and a normal dog and normal chores. I’ve never felt anything but normal—okay, except for the fact that I’m also a world-famous inventor, but even then, still normal. Or so I thought.
But I just received the FOUR BIGGEST SURPRISES OF MY LIFE, each one bigger than the last. And now I’m not sure if I ever was normal.
Let me explain.
I’m thirteen years old. Actually, I turned
thirteen today. I’m also a seventh-grader at Fillmore Middle School, and I’m the world-famous inventor behind the company SURE THINGS, INC. I’m not saying that to brag or anything. I really don’t like people who brag or who talk about how great they are. But to be honest, I am proud of what I have accomplished, even though my whole world just got thrown upside down!
Together with my best friend and business partner, Manny Reyes, I run Sure Things, Inc. Our company has invented a whole bunch of popular stuff, like the ALL BALL (a ball that can change into any kind of sports ball) and the CAT-DOG TRANSLATOR. Manny and I share an office. Well, it’s really his parents’ garage, but we’ve converted it into what the rest of the universe knows as the world headquarters of Sure Things, Inc.
Anyway, a short while ago I arrived at the office after getting a panicked phone call from Manny. We had just finished judging a live TV special during which we picked Sure Things,
Inc.’s next product, or as we like to call it, the Next Big Thing.
On the TV special, we selected an invention called the NO-TROUBLE BUBBLE, a personal force field that can protect you from just about anything.
Two days after the show aired, Manny called me at home. He sounded super upset! He said that we had a problem with the No-Trouble Bubble that could result in the end of Sure Things, Inc.
Now that, as you can imagine, is pretty serious stuff. So I raced over to the office, hurried through the door, and, what do you know—I walked right SMACK! into a surprise party for my thirteenth birthday!
SURPRISE NUMBER ONE.
As it turns out, Manny’s whole “we’re in trouble” thing was a just ruse to get me over to the office, where my friends and family were waiting. My family being my dad, Bryan Sure, and Emily, my soon to be fifteen-year-old sister, who is, well . . . an older sister.
Usually my mom would be in that group too, but she’s been away from home for a while. She works all over the world, and most of the time we have no idea where she is. She’s a research scientist, or so she has always told me. In the weeks leading up to my big birthday (after all, you only become a teenager once), I had practically begged her to visit, but Mom kept saying that she couldn’t make it.
Except she could make it. When Manny opened another door, I found out that Mom was:
SURPRISE NUMBER TWO!
But then, a few minutes after Mom’s unexpected appearance, she asked me to step away from the party and go outside with her so we
could talk about something “in private.”
Naturally, my mind started racing. What could she want to talk about that is so important and so secret?
My mom revealed SURPRISE NUMBER THREE. She’s not really a research scientist. And nope, she hasn’t been away in Antarctica like we thought. What I found out is something even cooler. My mom is a spy!
And then, immediately after, I received the FOURTH and by far THE BIGGEST SURPRISE OF ALL when Mom said to me:
“When I leave, I want you to come with me. I need your help.”
So now? Now I’m stunned. I hardly know what to say. I stare at my mom in disbelief. Am I on the TV show Prank Attack, the one where they prank celebrities? I look closely at Mom’s clothing. I peek around the backyard. No hidden camera or microphone. No one is jumping out of the bushes.
This is real!
I’ll be honest. Manny and I have thought
my mom might be a spy for a while now. We’ve joked about it—especially a few months ago, after Mom sent me a “self-destructing” computer program to catch Alistair Swiped, a thief who was stealing my invention ideas. But then I remembered that Mom is just my mom. She’s the kind of mom who orders in pizza and on more than one occasion laughed so hard that she spit all over my dad’s shirt. The mom whose nickname for our dog, Philo, is O-MY-O PHILO! Could that same Mom really be a spy?
“I know it’s a lot to absorb, honey,” Mom says. She looks around, as if she is half-expecting a team of top secret ninja spies to leap from the bushes and arrest her just for having this conversation with me. “You can ask me any questions you want.”
My mind is reeling. A thousand questions pop into my head, but I ask the most straightforward one first.
“Who do you work for? The CIA? The FBI? The Secret Service?”
“I can’t say,” Mom says.
“You can tell me,” I press.
“No, I really can’t say,” Mom replies. “I’m not trying to dodge your question, Billy, but if I tried to say the agency’s name, my tongue would fall out.” Then she looks kinda sad. “Poor Agent Lugman found out the hard way.”
Is she for real?
“I’m thirteen,” I say, coming to a realization. “That means you’ve been keeping this secret for thirteen years! Why tell me the truth now?”
“I am truly sorry, honey,” she says, taking my hand. “It was just safer for the whole family if you and Emily didn’t know. As to why
now, well . . . I need your help. Specifically, your genius for inventing.”
Mom sure knows my soft spot. Mention inventing and I’m all ears.
She continues. “Sometimes, we spies find ourselves in situations where our spy gear can be easily taken. Physical objects—even hidden ones like microphones in lipstick containers, transmitters in soda cans, lasers inside pens—can be found and confiscated by enemy agents.
“I wouldn’t come to you, Billy, if we had another choice. But our agency’s best inventors can’t crack this code, and I think you can. We need an invention that is undetectable to enemy agents. We would like you to invent SPY DYE—a hair dye that combines all the functions of a spy’s usual secret gear. Spy Dye should allow the agent to read minds, keep tech concealed, act as a personal force field, and do anything else you can cram into liquid form that can be worked into someone’s hair.”
Spy Dye—I smile to myself. Manny would definitely approve of that name. But thinking
of Manny makes me think of other people too. How many people know Mom is a spy?
“Does Dad know about your real job?” I ask. My dad is notoriously bad at keeping secrets.
“Of course,” Mom replies. “In fact, he helps me.”
WHAT?! I’m not ready for SURPRISE NUMBER FIVE. My dad is a great guy. He’s a painter, a gardener, and a cook (kind of). But a spy? That, most definitely, does not compute.
“You know some of those wacky meals he creates?” Mom continues.
“All too well,” I reply. That’s why I said Dad is kind of a cook, because he loves to do it but he’s terrible at it! Fortunately, Sure Things, Inc. invented the GROSS-TO-GOOD POWDER not too long ago. Sprinkle a little bit on your meal and it makes anything, even Dad’s cooking, taste great.
“It just so happens that some of those meals are actually coded messages from me,” Mom says. “There are times when I can’t afford to have someone discover my location or know
where I’m headed from an e-mail. So your dad and I developed a code. Whenever I send him an e-mail suggesting that he make waffles, he knows that my case is solved!”
“That’s pretty cool,” I say. “Thanks for making your code waffles and not canned tuna fish.”
“And depending on the type of ingredients I suggest, he knows when I’ll be arriving at my next destination.”
“So those pickle and pineapple waffles Dad made last week were actually a coded message?” I ask.
“Yes. That particular combination meant that my latest case was solved and I’d be coming home soon. That’s how he knew that I’d be here for your party.”
“What’s the significance of waffles?” I ask, wondering if I would be good at breaking codes.
Mom shrugs. “Your dad likes waffles.”
She takes a deep breath and looks at me. Really looks at me—the way she did when she dropped me off at school for the first time,
and when she watches me slurp my cereal for breakfast, and when I sort the purple jelly beans from the pack.
“Billy, you’ve proven time and again that you can make even the wildest inventions happen. I’m afraid you are our last hope. Will you come with me to the agency’s Spy Academy?”
As someone who has to deal with school, homework, running a business, being president of a club (the Fillmore Middle School Inventors Club), taking care of Philo, and dealing with an older sister (practically a full-time job by itself), I am used to juggling lots of things in my head. But the sheer enormity of all I have just learned, especially Mom’s request, is kind of overwhelming.
But through the shock, surprise, worry, and confusion, one thought bubbles up to the front of my brain.
THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER!
I mean, I’m being hired by the government to create an invention . . . and one I don’t even have to dream up from absolute scratch.
This Spy Dye idea is really intriguing, like a mash-up of lots of my previous work, but in liquid form. Plus, I’ll get to spend time with my mom, something I hardly ever get to do.
So the answer, I think, is obvious.
“Like my name . . . SURE. I’ll totally go with you to Spy Academy!” I say, thrilled beyond belief.
Mom gives me a big hug. “Thank you, Billy,” she says.
“I can’t wait to tell Manny and Emily and—”
Mom cuts me off right there.
“I’m sorry, Billy,” she says. “This is top secret. You can’t tell anyone! Not Manny, not Emily, not even Philo—not when you have a spare Cat-Dog Translator in your room!”