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Tales from a not so tale.., p.2
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       Tales From a Not-So-Talented Pop Star, p.2

           Rachel Renée Russell
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  Something so … SINISTER and so … VILE?!

  Suddenly my stomach felt really sick again and started making gurgling sounds like that angry chocolate fountain at MacKenzie’s party.

  Only it felt like I had just eaten a dirty gym sock and then washed it down with a large glass of room-temperature pickle juice.

  If I didn’t get out of there fast, MacKenzie and Jessica were going to have a SECOND video to post on YouTube. One of me BARFING stale pizza and watered-down fruit punch all over their $300 designer jeans!

  When we finally met up with Mom, she was surprised I was so anxious to go home.

  I just told her I didn’t feel so well and had decided not to go shopping with Chloe and Zoey after all. So now I’m in my bedroom writing about all this and trying not to


  Because if MacKenzie posts that Queasy Cheesy video on YouTube …


  Somebody please DIAL 911 because I’m going to have a massive heart attack and DIE!!



  I was so depressed about what happened at Queasy Cheesy yesterday, I could barely drag myself out of bed this morning.

  So I figured … why bother?!

  I decided to just lie there STARING at the wall and SULKING.

  For some reason, wallowing in a truckload of self-pity always makes me feel a lot better ☺!

  I finally got up around noon and spent the rest of the day online checking YouTube. I was on there practically every ten minutes. I couldn’t help it. It was like I was obsessed or something.

  I was hoping MacKenzie had just been yanking my chain about posting that video.

  She absolutely LOVES to torture me like that.

  By 8:30 p.m. I’d come to the conclusion that the whole thing was just a nasty prank to FREAK me out. And it HAD!

  MacKenzie is meaner than a junkyard dog and totally despises me. But thank goodness she hadn’t gone THAT far!

  I decided to check one last time before I went to bed and then forget about the whole thing….

  It was official.

  NIKKI MAXWELL, LIVE AT QUEASY CHEESY was now on YouTube for the world’s viewing pleasure!

  And it had already gotten seven views ☹!


  There was only one thing left for me to do….


  (That was me screaming into my pillow!)

  How am I going to face the kids at my school, knowing they’re all secretly laughing at me behind my back?!

  And what about Chloe, Zoey, and Brandon?

  They’re the greatest friends ever.

  I cringed at the thought of putting them through more of the DRAMAFEST that is my life.

  I kept repeating one thing over and over in my head….

  WHY ME?!



  There was NO WAY I was going to go to school today to face my public execution by video.

  So I got up extra early to make a batch of my infamous Stay-Home-from-School Faux Vomit.

  Unfortunately, that was NOT an option, because we were totally out of oatmeal. I was like, JUST GREAT ☹!!

  When I finally arrived at school, I was expecting to be mercilessly teased, peppered with insults, and bombarded with a never-ending supply of very lame Queasy Cheesy jokes.

  But to my surprise, no one even mentioned that stupid video. THANK GOODNESS ☺!! Instead, the entire school was superexcited and buzzing about the upcoming annual Westchester Country Day talent show!

  It’s scheduled for Saturday, November 30, and the judge this year is Trevor Chase, the famous producer of the new hit TV show 15 Minutes of Fame. Turns out he went to WCD!

  The prizes were supposed to be pretty good, too, with first place being the chance to audition for a spot on his television show. How cool is THAT?!

  So now Chloe, Zoey, and I are TOTALLY psyched about the talent show!

  We’ve already agreed to perform together. We just have to figure out what we’re going to do. It’s gonna be a BLAST for sure ☺!

  I’d give anything to be a rich and famous singing sensation!


  Because when Nikki Maxwell the WCD STUDENT is WEIRD, RUDE, SLOPPY, and CRAZY, everyone HATES her. She’s called a LOSER ☹!


  However, when Nikki Maxwell the POP STAR is WEIRD, RUDE, SLOPPY, and CRAZY, she gets mobbed by fans, paid millions of dollars, and everyone LOVES her. She’s called a LEGEND ☺!



  Well, actually, I see Brandon in biology EVERY DAY. But today was superspecial because it was the first time I’ve seen him since the DANCE!!

  He told me (AGAIN) how much he enjoyed hanging out with me! SQUEEEEEEEEEEE ☺!!

  And get this!! He said we should consider sitting together at lunch to study for our future biology tests!!! I blushed profusely and suggested that we start studying for the next test ASAP.

  Like … TOMORROW! ☺!!

  Mostly because I’m VERY serious about my studies. Especially my BIOLOGY tests!

  But Brandon said he couldn’t sit with me at lunch for the next couple weeks because his editor has assigned him to train a new photographer for the school newspaper.

  I smiled at him and was like, “Um … Okay! Sure.”

  But deep down inside I was a little disappointed.

  I started worrying that maybe he was just making up a lame excuse because he didn’t want to hang out with me after all.

  So I decided to talk to Chloe and Zoey about it.

  Chloe said for me not to worry because Brandon was the one who came up with the whole sitting-together-at-lunch thing. Which meant he was ready to take our relationship to the next level. And Zoey totally agreed.


  OMG! I almost forgot! Now I have ONE more thing to lie awake nights worrying about. There were at least a dozen ants crawling around in biology today!

  MacKenzie made a big fuss about getting ant germs until our teacher told her that if she didn’t sit down and finish her lab report, her grade was going to be A LOT nastier than any ant germs.

  But what if the problem gets worse?! This could turn into a major disaster! My teacher could complain to the janitor, the janitor could complain to the secretary, the secretary could complain to the principal, and the principal could complain to …


  MUST. NOT. PANIC!! Breathe in, breathe out!

  ANYWAY, before I so rudely interrupted myself, I was about to say that Chloe and Zoey think Brandon might actually like me!

  And those little ants seem to think so TOO!


  MacKenzie is even more EVIL than I imagined!

  I was wondering why she had gone through the trouble of recording that video of me at Queasy Cheesy and posting it on YouTube, only to keep it a big SECRET!

  It made no sense WHATSOEVER! But NOW I know why she did it.

  I was at my locker jotting down ideas for the talent show when I was rudely interrupted.

  “What’s up, Nikki! I’ve got some superEXCITING news to tell you, HON …!!”

  I could NOT believe MacKenzie had the nerve to come up to me acting all friendly like she hadn’t just tried to DESTROY MY LIFE a mere three days ago!

  “I’m putting together a group for the talent show, and I‘m looking for supertalented dancers with real star power. Here’s all the info.”

  Then she smiled really big, batted her superlong lashes, and shoved a piece of paper right in my face….

  I squinted and tried to read it.

  But I was having a really hard time because she dangled it in front of my eyes and started swinging it back and forth.

  And back and forth.

  And back and forth.

  Like she was trying
to HYPNOTIZE me to do her


  or something!

  I knew right then and there she was up to no good.

  It took every ounce of my strength NOT to be completely mesmerized by the brilliant radiance of her awesome, yet sickening, perfection.

  Finally I just snatched the paper from her and read it.

  I had a REALLY bad feeling about that girl and her little dance-group thing.

  Why in the heck would she want ME?!

  Especially after Chloe, Zoey, and I got that D on our Ballet of the Zombies dance routine in gym.

  Then there was that other small issue….


  And after her very public and humiliating defeat at the art competition, I was sure she was hatching a diabolical plan to win the talent show.

  Unless, after seeing me perform at Queasy Cheesy, MacKenzie had suddenly realized I was supertalented, with huge star power?

  Maybe she wanted me ON her team so she wouldn’t have to compete AGAINST me.

  The whole concept kind of blew my mind.

  That’s when I started thinking that working with MacKenzie on her dance group might allow us to put aside our differences and finally become friends.

  It would be nice NOT having to put up with her verbal abuse or worry about her blabbing my personal business.

  I even tried to convince myself that hanging out with MacKenzie wouldn’t be so bad.

  Once I got used to her abrasive personality.

  And her overinflated ego.

  And her addiction to lip gloss.

  And the fact that she has the IQ of a plastic houseplant.

  I even imagined myself doing the kind of stuff I’d overheard the CCP (Cute, Cool & Popular) clique bragging about.

  Like lounging on the beach at MacKenzie’s summer home in the Hamptons.

  I’d definitely invite my friends to MY summer home in the Hamptons! If I had one….

  Finally I made up my mind to give her a chance.

  Chloe, Zoey, and I were going to have a blast dancing onstage together in MacKenzie’s group.

  It would be just like our old Ballet of the Zombies days, only BETTER! I got a really warm and fuzzy feeling inside just thinking about it ☺!!

  MacKenzie pulled out her new lip gloss, Decadent Dancing Diva Delight, applied a fresh layer, and stared at me with her icy blue eyes.

  “So, Nikki … if you know any supertalented dancers with star power, like, um … CHLOE and ZOEY, just give ’em this flyer, okay?”

  My brain was like, “What the …?!! Did she just say ‘Chloe and Zoey’?!”

  Apparently, the little blond-haired weasel wanted ONLY Chloe and Zoey in her dance group and not ME!

  Hey, I’d be the FIRST to admit that Chloe and Zoey were supertalented dancers, probably two of the best in the school.

  But what did MacKenzie think I was? CHOPPED LIVER?! REFRIED BEANS?!!

  It felt like she had just slapped me across the face. With a steel pipe or something.

  “Um … sure,” I muttered. “I’ll tell Chloe and Zoey. But just so you know, the three of us were already planning on doing something for the talent show together.”

  “Well, you’re going to have to CHANGE your PLANS, then! I really want that audition for 15 Minutes of Fame. And if Chloe and Zoey perform with ME instead of a no-talent LOSER like YOU, it’ll be a slam dunk for me to take first place.”

  I could NOT believe MacKenzie was talking smack right to my face like that.

  “GIRL, PUH-LEEZE!” I said, doing one of those Tyra Banks neck-roll thingies that I’d practiced in the mirror for hours. “You must be delusional or something. Or maybe your barrettes are so tight, they’re cutting off the oxygen to your brain. In spite of what those voices in your head are telling you, we’re NOT your little monsters!

  I suggest you go find some other people to be your puppets!”

  MacKenzie was so angry, I thought she was going to whack me upside my head with her new Kate Spade hobo purse.

  “I’m warning you, Maxwell!” she hissed. “If you so much as look at me the wrong way, I’ll make sure everyone sees your little Queasy Cheesy video. You’ll get laughed right out of this school. Even your pity-pals, Chloe, Zoey, and Brandon, will be too embarrassed to be seen with you!”

  “This is a talent show, MacKenzie. Did it ever occur to you to try winning by using your … um … TALENT? Or is that a problem because you don’t have any?”

  MacKenzie took a step toward me and put her hands on her hips. “Better yet, maybe I’ll just send out a text about your big secret. That you don’t belong here, and your dad—”

  “WHATEVER!” I shouted. “Like I really care what people think about me at this school!”

  But I do care. And just the thought of her threats made me break into a cold, clammy sweat. My throat was so tight I could hardly breathe.

  “Honestly, MacKenzie! The talent show is NOT that big of a deal to me and definitely isn’t worth dealing with all your drama.”

  “Well, it’s a big deal to ME! I DESERVE my fifteen minutes of fame, so stay out of my way.”

  Then MacKenzie smirked and flipped her hair in my face (like she was all that and a bag of chips) and wrinkled her perfect little nose at me.

  “OMG! WHAT is that HORRIBLE smell?! I think the stench of your cheap perfume is starting to overpower my expensive designer fragrance. What did you spray on this morning, Macaroni and Cheese?!”

  I just gritted my teeth and rolled my eyes at her. Is it a crime to eat mac and cheese for breakfast?! We were out of cereal!! ☹!

  Then MacKenzie turned and sashayed down the hall. I just HATE it when she sashays!!

  I was about to open my locker when I was practically trampled alive by a large group of CCP girls.

  “OMG, MacKenzie! We just heard about your dance group!”

  “Everyone knows you’re going to win!”

  “Mac’s Maniacs ROCKS! Can I join?”

  “Wait up, MacKenzie! Wait up!”

  They scrambled after MacKenzie like mindless … lip-gloss-wearing … zombie … baby ducks or something.

  I just stood there staring at the front of my locker like an IDIOT. I felt SO HUMILIATED!

  Hot tears flooded my eyes and I tried my best to blink them away.

  However, instead of crying, I decided to rip MacKenzie’s flyer into a million little pieces.

  At this point I want nothing WHATSOEVER to do with MacKenzie. Or that stupid talent show!

  I’ll be SO glad when this HORRIBLE day is over. ☹!!


  I’m so sick and tired of MacKenzie manipulating me, I could SCREAM!

  I can’t believe she’s trying to keep me from competing in the talent show.

  It’s like she’s OBSESSED with winning it. Her ego is SO BIG it has stretch marks!

  I think the best thing for me to do is avoid her like the plague. Which is NOT going to be easy, because my locker is right next to hers.

  I’ve decided that mentioning the video to my parents would just make things worse.

  My mom would gush about how talented and ADORABLE Brianna and I were and would probably e-mail the darn thing to half a million people.

  And of course, if I told Chloe and Zoey, the FIRST thing they’d want to do is watch it.

  Which would be SUPERembarrassing!!!

  And if Brandon saw it … OMG!!

  He’d realize what a hopeless LOSER I am ☹!

  NOTE TO SELF: Continue to check the video daily to monitor how many times it’s been viewed.

  As if things weren’t already a hot mess, today was the second time this week I’ve seen bugs inside the school building.

  I counted nine huge stinkbugs in the girls’ locker room just while I was getting dressed after gym class.

  One flew in my hair, and I totally


  Of course, MacKenzie and the CCPs were practically rolling on the floor laughing at

  Thank goodness Chloe and Zoey were there to help me. They are the best friends EVER!

  As crazy as this may sound, BUGS are the very reason I’ll NEVER, EVER fit in at this school. Mostly because I have a


  I only attend this fancy prep school because my dad arranged a scholarship for me as part of his BUG EXTERMINATION CONTRACT!

  OMG!! I’m SO totally EMBARRASSED about it, I haven’t even told Chloe and Zoey. Yet!

  As a matter of fact, I’ve been at WCD for almost three months now, and not a single student here knows my secret.

  Well, no one except … MACKENZIE HOLLISTER ☹! And she found out purely by accident.

  One morning I was late for school and the only way I could get there was in my dad’s work van. I’ve always been a little worried about riding with him because his van is old, needs a tune-up, and has a lot of things wrong with it—the most serious being the GINORMOUS roach sitting on top of it.

  People stop right in their tracks and stare at it in awe.

  Not only is it hideous-looking, but it makes you feel really … ODD.

  Anyway, when Dad dropped me off at the front door of the school, I was superhappy and relieved that no one else was around to see me.

  But then MacKenzie just unexpectedly POPPED OUT of nowhere. Like some kind of EVIL jack-in-the-box.

  When I saw her standing there, I almost had a heart attack!

  She was like this really big, ugly, infected pimple that had suddenly erupted right on the tip of the nose of … my LIFE!!

  She stared at me with this shocked look on her face and said, “What is that hideous brown thing on top of your van …?!”

  I just rolled my eyes at her because, personally, I thought that was the STUPIDEST question ever.

  It was OBVIOUS to anyone with a BRAIN that it was a roach, and it was up there on top of our van mainly to … um … do really important … stuff that was … um, actually NONE of MacKenzie’s business!!

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