Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How I Became a Mad Scientist - Episode 15




Within an hour, all the guys were at our house. Some of us built ramps and jumps out of wood scraps. A couple of guys cut the aluminum cans open with metal shears and smashed them flat with sledge hammers to create little sheets of aluminum. We used aluminum nails to attach the cans to the frames, so that we’d have an unbroken sheet for the hover board.

I was deep in thought, trying to figure out the best angle for a jump, when Frank tapped me on the shoulder. “George, we have a problem.”
 
“Problem? What are you talking about? This is going to be great!”

“How many guys are expecting to ride the hover board?” Frank asked. 

I shrugged. “All of them, I guess. Why would they be helping if they didn’t want a ride?”

“So we’re going to be drawing power for at least… 2 or 3 hours today. Don’t you think the electric company will notice the sudden spike?” Frank glanced nervously at the wall socket.

“Why would they?” I asked. “I mean, power is power. It’s always there. It’s not like they notice when we charge a lawnmower battery.”

“They’re going to send someone out to investigate,” Frank said. “Look, I got the hover board set up. But after I try it, I’m out of here.”

“You’re being paranoid. No one’s going to get mad over some kids and their indoor skate park,” I said. “But sure. Go home. Miss the fun. Be a stereotypical isolated homeschooler.”

Frank sighed. “Fine. I’ll stay. But if the cops come, I’m gone.”

I pulled out my phone and pulled up an app. “Look, I’ll tune it to the scanner. No worries.” 

When the course was done, Frank stood on the board as I plugged it in. Slowly the board rose until floated about 3 inches above the aluminum. The other guys gasped. I started laughing like a madman. I couldn’t help it. I’d known Frank’s idea would work, but I hadn’t expected it to be so cool.

Even Frank was grinning. He pushed off as if he was on a regular skateboard, and flew across the garage. Kids dove out of his way. He slammed into the wall, and fell off the board. 

“Frank!” I shouted. “Are you OK?” Frank wobbled to his feet and gave us a shaky thumbs-up.
“I forgot,” he said. “No friction, so you barely need to push at all.”

I claimed second ride since it was my garage. I gently nudged my foot against the ground, and the board went zooming up a ramp and towards the roof of the garage. As it lost contact with the aluminum below, it started to act like a normal board. I hung on, rode it back onto the ramp, and went hurtling across the garage as the acceleration of gravity took over. I threw myself off the board and onto some handy 5th graders before I plowed into the garage wall.

Joe frowned. “This is going to land someone in the ER pretty fast,” he said. “Everyone, go home, get all the air mattresses you own, and meet back here in 15 minutes.”  Joe tends to take charge like that.
The other kids scattered and came back with uninflated air mattresses. When we blew them all up, we had enough to line the garage walls with them. Suddenly, crashing was a lot less dangerous.

 One by one, all of the kids who had helped build the ramp took a turn on the hover boards. I grabbed a couple to come inside with me to get drinks and food for everybody. “That garage is awesome!” One of the younger kids exclaimed as I loaded him up with chips and 2-liters to take outside. “We should totally charge admission!” 

“Shhh,” I hissed. “My Mom’s working. And I’m not sure she’d be OK if the whole neighborhood showed up.”

The house phone rang. I answered so that it wouldn’t lure my mom out of her office. “This is the Tell City Electric Company,” the voice said. “Your house is drawing an unusual amount of power and we….”

“Thanks! I’ll check it out!”  I hit the off button. The phone rang again. I answered.

“Young man, is your mother home? This is a potentially dangerous…”

“Yeah, I got it,” I said. I hung up again and flung myself out the back door. “Frank!” I screamed. “Beat it, they’re coming…”

Usually, I love living just a couple of blocks from the power company. They can practically see our house from their office. When there’s a bad storm, we’re usually the first street to get our power back. Today was not a good day to be close. As I ran across the yard, I saw the truck pulling into the end of the alley. There was no way to hide. We were busted.

1 comment:

Anna said...

one of the younger kids exclaimed...