The school had devolved into chaos. Students were evacuating the building en masse, teachers were trying to figure out what and/or who had caused this, the janitor was going crazy over all the work he would have to do later and that one annoying kid that records basically everything on their phone was pretending that they were some sort of brave news reporter. Who had caused this act of insanity? Two kids were responsible: Austin Wilson and Bobby Gunner.

Austin Wilson was the resident bored gifted child and the mastermind of these pranks. He was a virtual angel inside the classroom, with his curly blonde hair that would bend to the will of no hairbrush known to man and big blue eyes that were made for getting out of trouble. Outside of it, he was a ruthless vigilante prankster. He tormented the bullies, cruel teachers and the whiny, entitled brats like it was his job. His known pranks included the following:

Rigging the water fountain outside the school with bubble bath so it sprayed bubbles the next time it was turned on.

Volunteering in the school canteen just to give an extra-spicy pizza to the school bully. (Witnesses reported seeing a big grin on Austin's face as the lunchroom tormentor searched for a glass of water for his burning mouth.)

Writing on as many whiteboards as he could so the first thing a class would see coming in was 'SCOOBY DOOBY DOO, WHERE ARE YOU?'

Printing out cutouts of Mr Bean's face and taping them over the faces in the staff photo.

Swapping the normal marker pens with permanent marker so they never came off the whiteboard.

Tampering with the school bell so it made a farting noise instead of ringing like a normal bell.

Filling the staff room with balloons.

You know, typical boy stuff.

Bobby Gunner, the new boy that had arrived only a few weeks ago, was his partner in crime. He was a rather skinny kid with red hair and green eyes. He had once been a quiet kid who stayed under the radar, but after Austin saved him from the clutches of a bully, he had considered himself to be indebted to the prankster. Ever since, he had supplied Austin with material and helped with the planning of his pranks.

Their latest prank involved a lot of powdered paint mixed with water going inside the sprinkler system. The next step was to set it off in a way that looked almost accidental. For this, they employed the unwitting help of the janitor, who was a smoker and happened to like a cigarette during lunch, when none of the kids could report him for it. One of his cigarettes set off the smoke alarm, which later sprayed multicoloured water over the helpless student body, enacting total and utter anarchy. Their respective fathers, Kenneth Wilson and Percy Gunner, had had enough. After one incident which left them outside the principal's office, they had decided to swap numbers, so they could contact each other and form a plan to deal with their reckless sons. At first, they weren't getting anywhere, but they started making some progress after Austin received a gentle poke to his side to get him to pay attention to the principal's words.

"Hey!" Austin squeaked, nearly jumping out of his chair. "Don't touch me there!"

"I was just trying to get your attention," Kenneth huffed. "You're supposed to be listening to the principal." The two fathers looked to each other and had a similar idea. The next time it seemed like Bobby wasn't paying attention, his father poked him in between his ribs with a single finger. A known ticklish spot for the boy, one that his father simply loved to exploit whenever he wanted.

"Eep!" Bobby squealed.

"Aren't you supposed to be listening to the principal, son?" Percy asked. Bobby looked at the ground and sighed.

"Yes, Dad," Bobby sighed.

"Naturally, for something like this, we shall have to suspend you for the rest of the week," the principal stated. "A serious rethink of behaviour will be needed if either of you wish to continue to attend this school." With that, the boys and their fathers went to their respective homes. (A suspension for the rest of the week was bad, especially when you consider that it was only Tuesday.)

The moment they got home, Kenneth sent Austin up to his room.

"You. Up to your room until I say you can come out. You're grounded."

Austin tried to argue with him. "But Dad-"

"But nothing! Now go." Austin huffed and stormed up to his room. While his son was grounded, he had a call to make.

"Hello, is Percy Gunner here?" Kenneth asked.

"Yes, who is this?" Percy replied.

"Kenneth Wilson, your son's friend's dad. We exchanged phone numbers outside the principal's office. I wanted to talk to you about your son. And also my son. I have a plan that should stop them, but I'll need your help," Kenneth explained. "Can your son hear me? I'd just like this call to be private."

"I sent him to his room," Percy confirmed. "He's listening to something on his headphones. He won't hear a thing we're saying."

"Good. Now, Percy, I'll need you to listen carefully to what I'm about to tell you . . . " The plan was relayed to Percy, who agreed.

"This sounds good. I know where I can find most of that stuff," Percy replied. "But what do we tell the boys? And how do we clear it with the principal?"

"Don't worry about him. I have a feeling that he will be just fine with what I have in mind for the boys. After all, he did say he wanted some new IT equipment for the school, and this will help loads."

"Got it. Although, I'm worried the boys may become worse. Bobby's a good kid at the end of the day, and so is Austin," Percy worried.

"Let me talk to them afterwards," Kenneth advised. "Just get what I need and let me worry about the rest. Are we clear?"

"Yes," Percy agreed.

"Good," Kenneth replied, hanging up.


On Thursday, to the surprise of both the boys, they were told that they would be going back to school that day, just in time for the fundraiser. "Shouldn't we be staying home until Monday? You know, because we're suspended and stuff?" Austin questioned.

"The school decided to give you a special job helping out with the fundraising. Staying at home doing nothing won't be good for you, they said," Kenneth fibbed. Austin bought it.

"Whatever," he huffed, as he got into the back seat. Kenneth grinned as he drove his son to the fundraiser. When they arrived, they met up with Percy and Bobby.

"Dad, what are we supposed to be helping with?" Bobby asked.

"Oh . . . uh, he didn't say," Percy replied. Bobby shrugged and continued into the school.

"Nice save," Kenneth replied. The boys were steered in the direction of the fundraiser, where they excitedly looked around for the stall they would be helping with.

"Which one are we supposed to be helping with?" Austin wondered. "Maybe the sweets stall. That'd be fun."

"No, not that one," Kenneth told him.

"Or maybe the one where you throw balls at a can and win a toy," Bobby giggled.

"You're not working at a stall like that, either," Percy replied.

"Come on! Which stall is it?" Austin whined. Kenneth pointed at a stall that was still in progress.

"What is that supposed to be?" Bobby asked.

"You'll find out soon, kiddo, I promise," Kenneth grinned.

"You two go help me with some stuff in the meantime," Percy instructed. While the boys were busy hauling boxes out of a car boot, Kenneth set up some homemade medieval stocks (Kenneth was a carpenter), fishing the key out of his pocket to unlock them. Their sons, on the other hand, were becoming more and more confused.

"This stuff is weird," Bobby remarked. "What do we need all these feathers for?"

"And that hairbrush and electric toothbrush and that bottle of baby oil," Austin said, tilting his head in confusion. The two fathers looked at each other and grinned.

"We'll tell you about the real reason for this stall, but not until you take your shoes and socks off and get into these stocks," Kenneth replied. The pranksters did so. They were rather confused, a little scared but mainly curious. Once they were locked in and the key secured in Kenneth's pocket, the explanation began. "Both of us believe that you two have gone too far this time with your most recent prank, and this behaviour has got to stop immediately."

"So we've been organizing this little prank/intervention of our own," Percy explained.

"This has to be some . . . sort of . . . joke," Austin chuckled nervously, as their fathers put up a big, embarrassing sign above their heads.

TWO TICKLISH LITTLE BOYS

£1 TO TICKLE THEM

TICKLISH TOOLS FOR YOU TO USE

"Oh, no," Bobby muttered.

"Have fun," Kenneth wished the boys.

"Don't laugh too hard," Percy teased, as he left to watch the chaos that would inevitably unfold.

The humiliated boys sat in those stocks for a few minutes, while people walked past them and giggled. They hoped that it would stay that way. If all people did was laugh, it wouldn't be so bad.

Their hopes were cruelly dashed.

"Hey, there's the two that set off those dumb sprinklers! My favourite shirt and jeans were ruined because of you two!" one girl, wearing all pink, huffed. She turned to look at the nervously giggling boys, utterly livid. That was when Austin and Bobby knew they were done for, if everyone reacted like them.

"Uh, hey there," Austin shyly greeted.

"I oughta kill you two, you know that?" the girl in pink growled, advancing towards them. The girl in the hoodie held her back.

"Before you kill them, remember this. They are literally sitting next to a sign that says 'two ticklish little boys' and then start thinking what I'm thinking," a second girl, wearing denim jeans and a black hoodie, pointed out, and they giggled.

"Could you lend me some money?" the pink girl asked, as they all began to rummage through pockets. Austin and Bobby were utterly terrified.

"They won't . . . will they?" Bobby asked.

"I think they probably will," Austin sighed. "Just don't laugh. It'll be OK." His eyes widened at the sight of a huge ostrich feather being waved in his face. "I hope."

"I get the blondie, you get the redhead," the girl in pink (now called Pink Girl, or PG) said to her friend, who nodded. Austin blushed at the sight of the ominous feather, and squirmed in anticipation. The girl in the hoodie (now called Hoodie Girl, or HG) was still picking out her weapon of choice, before eventually picking out the baby oil and two smaller feathers. "What's the baby oil for?"

"Making the skin softer and more sensitive to tickling," HG explained. "Watch. This is his reaction before." She let the brush glide up and down Bobby's soles, and he giggled unstoppably. He couldn't help it! It tickled! "And this is his reaction after." Baby oil was squirted onto his feet, rubbed on by his torturer, which he giggled through. But when she applied the brush again, he lost his mind.

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! NO MORE!" Bobby squealed.

"How did you know that would happen?" PG asked.

"My skin always feels more sensitive after putting on sunscreen," HG replied. "Figured it would be the same with him. Any luck?"

"He won't say anything," PG grumbled. "Stubborn little twerp. This feather isn't doing anything to him."

"I wouldn't be so sure," HG replied, grinning. Austin seemed to be going red in the face from putting so much effort into holding in laughter, while Bobby giggled freely. He squirmed and looked around at the growing crowd of onlookers, who were certainly feeling lots of schadenfreude for the boys' situation. Both boys could hear the things said about them and their situation.

"Oh, now this is priceless!"

"I'm going to need a lot of change."

"Use the big feather next to you!"

"Where does the line start?"

Eventually, one kid stepped up and placed a pound into the jar. "Excuse me, ladies," he requested. "Could you let me through?" The girls parted, and he went behind Austin to start poking and prodding at his ribs, his hands slipping under his shirt to do so.

And that was when Austin Wilson broke.

"Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!" Austin laughed. It felt so good to let out all that pent-up laughter. Bobby watched in despair as it occurred that Austin had it worse then he did. The blond boy thrashed and screamed as the boy's fingers made light work of his ribs. "You-AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

"He's broken. You're welcome." He stepped away, and three more people came to take his place.

"I didn't know you could do that," one kid grinned. "Let me through." He paid his fare and went behind Bobby, taking the electric toothbrush and sticking it inside his victim's belly button. The redhead howled with laughter as the electric toothbrush made short work of his stomach. He was so embarrassed by it all, and wanted to curl up and die from the public humiliation. But he didn't have it nearly as bad as Austin, who was being gang-tickled by three boys, and all of them were bigger than him. His armpits, knees, stomach and feet, the most sensitive parts of his body, were ravaged by tickles, and all he could do was laugh. Bobby was lucky that he only had one person with him.

"We should have done this a long time ago," one boy grinned.

"He giggles like my little sister," the second taunted.

"And I bet he'd probably wet his pants if we go any harder," the third observed. But it didn't stop any of them.

"So? Maybe he should know what it's like to have ruined clothes," the first boy suggested.

"How do you know he won't just pass out?" someone asked. "They might do that."

"What do we do if they wet themselves, though?"

"We can always make them sit on newspapers."

It's like we're not even here, Austin thought, but he couldn't think for long. Someone had their fingers inside and near his belly button.

"GAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Bobby screamed, as his feet and armpits were tickled by a set of identical male twins with vengeance in their eyes. Austin looked at his friend with pity in his eyes. This was supposed to be just him being tickled senseless, but he'd dragged Bobby into it. He had to at least try to make things right. So the blond boffin blurted his idea out.

"LET HIM GOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!" Austin screamed.

"What?" HG asked, pulling the eager kids off him so he could catch his breath and finally talk. "What did you just say?"

"Let Bobby go. This was all my idea anyway, so I'm the one they should be punishing. I can do this on my own, just let Bobby go," Austin panted.

"No way! I'm not leaving you here with them! You can barely take it! And besides, I helped you!" Bobby retorted. Both boys realized that they were trying to get the other one out of trouble, nodded to each other and settled back, making their torturers' work easier for them. Before they tried to bail the other one out because of their friendship. Now it was a competition to see who could handle more tickles.

And they both seemed to be looking forwards to seeing who would break first.


"Boys, we're back!" Kenneth replied, hours later. "I hope you didn't pass out while we were gone." Percy snickered, and then gasped. The boys were swamped with kids. The jar was filled almost to overflowing. Austin's face was streaked with tears of mirth, and Bobby was squirming as much as possible.

"OK, I think you've suffered enough," Percy blurted out, as Kenneth took out the keys to the stocks and dragged them out. The men took their own sons out of the stocks, and, being worried fathers, sat them down and got them settled down. Kenneth promised that he would take care of the explanation, so he started it off.

"Boys, do you know why this happened to you?" he asked.

"To make us regret everything," Austin replied, as he stared at the soles of his feet, now red with constant stimulation. He shivered as the ghost tickles coursed through his system.

"To embarrass us," Bobby suggested.

"No, that was not what we meant. We were trying to nip your pranking behaviour in the bud using a prank of our own," Kenneth explained.

"So we set up this stall to teach you that it isn't so fun being on the receiving end of a prank," Percy clarified. "It was meant as an intervention. We are both very worried about you. At the rate you're going, you might both be expelled from the school." The boys looked at each other and sighed, staring at the floor. The awkward staring-at-floor moment continued for a little, until they eventually came to a decision.

"We'll stop," Austin decided. "No more pranks ever again."

"That's good to hear," Kenneth sighed. Looks of relief flashed over his and Percy's face. Their sons would finally, finally stay out of trouble.

"You promise?" Percy asked. The duo nodded, but that wasn't good enough. "I want you to say it," he demanded.

"We promise," they chorused. Both fathers smiled, and they took their tired sons home. Judging from how they shivered from even the slightest touches, this had really brought the message home.

Now they just needed it to stay there.


Two weeks later

Kenneth Wilson was at home on his day off when he received a call from the school. He sighed, figuring that Austin had forgotten about the promise he'd made. "What has he done now?" Kenneth asked.

"Actually, he hasn't done anything, but he was involved in an incident during lunch break," the principal explained. "Of course, he's not at fault, but he and Bobby are recuperating in the nurse's office and have been excused from lessons for the rest of the day. You can collect him at the normal time." Click. He hung up.

Until 3:00 that day, Kenneth was a bundle of nerves. What had happened? Prank? Fight? He almost cried with joy when the time came to pick his son up. He and Bobby were still in the nurse's office, rubbing their sides and wincing. "What the hell happened to you?"

"Other kids . . . got me . . ." Austin panted. He sounded rather delirious. "Couldn't take it any more."

"Can't take what any more?" Kenneth asked.

"It tickled too much, Dad," Austin murmured. That was when he knew that his son had come to no real harm.

"Aww, is Austin too ticklish for his friends to have a little fun with him?" Kenneth teased.

"They're horrible!" Austin whined.

"Good, you'll fit right in," Kenneth replied. "Now come on. We're going home now."

"Thank God," Austin sighed, allowing his dad to walk him to the car so they could go home. He thought he was safe in his father's hands.

He was wrong.


"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! DAD! NO!" Austin screamed, as he felt fingers dart over his ribcage.

"How adorable, you're trying to fight it," Kenneth teased. "This reminds me of when you were little."

"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! NO MORE!" Austin begged.

"This also reminds me of when you were little," Kenneth commented. "Laugh it up, little one, because I won't stop."

"BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! PLEASE! MERCY!"

Austin wouldn't be getting much mercy from his father that day. Or any day, to be honest.