Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How I became a Mad Scientist- Episode 14




I thought turning the iron into an electromagnet would be exciting, and maybe involve blowtorches or something. I was wrong. It turned out we just had to coil the copper wire around the iron. Frank handed me the needle-nosed pliers and told me to start wrapping. “No, closer together," he scolded. "You don’t want any gaps, or it won’t work." My fingers ached before I finished the first magnet.

“You can keep working on this tonight,” Frank said. “Let me know when you’ve finished all four.”

“We’d get done faster if you helped,” I grumbled.

“No can do. I touch the pliers, I go to Juvie and break my mother’s heart,” Frank said. The house phone rang. Frank’s mother wanted him to come home. It was time for his probation officer meeting. He dashed out the door and up the street. I fixed myself a snack, wiggled my fingers for a while to loosen them up, and then got back to wrapping.

Frank came over after lunch on the next day and inspected my work. “Not bad”, he said. “Now we’ll need to attach them to a board and wire them up to the power source.”   

“Are we going to attach the lawnmower battery to the board?” I asked. "That would make it awfully heavy.” 

Frank stared at the wall for a moment. “You’re right. And anything powerful enough to create the kind of magnetic field we want but light enough to attach to the board would get us in trouble.”

“Us in trouble?” I asked.

“My probation officer asked some weird questions,” Frank said. “About sudden dips in the fish population, and weird sightings by boaters. Someone must have seen something, and clued the FBI in.”

“The FBI?” I choked on the popcorn I’d been tossing into my mouth. "Your probation officer works for the FBI?” 

Frank shrugged. “Well, I told you I made the feds mad,” he said. “Anyway, I think we might have to be more careful. The hover board will need to stay under cover anyway. Which means we’ll have to set up its course in your garage. On the other hand, that means we can skip using the lawnmower battery and just plug it right into the outlet. We’ll just have to be careful of the wires while we skate.”

I grimaced. “But the FBI, Frank. My mom will kill me if they confiscate our garage or something.”

“They’re not going to find out, George,” Frank said. “They’re not watching you, just me. Bessie was just a little too big and a little too weird. No one’s going to get upset about a couple of kids building a hover board. That’s just plain old fun.”

I nodded. He was right. Why would the FBI care what a couple of skater kids did to juice up their boards? It’s not like we’d be bothering anything. I mean, who cared what we did in our own garage? “So, what do we need to make this happen?”

“I told you before,” Frank said. “It’s only going to work on aluminum. So we’d need to build a skate park covered in aluminum in your garage.”

“Then it’s time to bring Joe in on the project,” I said. “If we let his little brother in on the deal, we can have this ready to go by tomorrow.” I texted Joe. “Big plans. Come over. Need to discuss off-grid.” He texted right back and said he was on his way.

I was afraid Joe would be skeptical, but after a quick explanation from Frank, he was totally on board. “You’ll have to help me haul the cans over,” he said. “You have a sledge hammer to smash them with, right?  And we’ll need some lumber to make the jumps and stuff. This will go faster if we get some of the other guys to help.” He grinned. “Man, this is going to be awesome. If it works, we should let the other kids know and charge admission! We’ll be rich.”

Frank grimaced. “I don’t know. We could get in trouble if…” 

Joe shrugged. “They’re all good guys. They know how to keep stuff on the down-low. And with more help, we can build a more awesome course. A hover board deserves something awesome.”

Frank was still hesitating, so I stepped in. “You’re right. Have the rest of the guys here in 2 hours. Tell them to bring any scrap wood they have laying around.”

Joe headed off to get the rest of the guys. Frank and I headed inside for some lemonade and a snack. “I don’t know,” Frank said. “This might be getting out of hand. If the FBI gets involved…”

“You said it yourself, Frank. Why would they care about some kids building a skate park in their garage?”

My mom happened to be walking by right at that moment. She paused, and came into the kitchen. “What’s this about a skate park in the garage?” she asked.

“Oh,” I said, “Some of the guys are going to help us build one. Since the one in the park is closed, and this way we’ll be in the shade and out of the rain.” She looked skeptical. “No permanent changes, I promise,” I said. “Just something temporary and fun for the summer.”

“Well, I guess that can’t hurt,” Mom replied. “Though maybe we should type up some waivers or something, so I don’t get sued if one of your friends breaks something.” She poured herself a cup of coffee and wandered off to her office.

“Waivers?” Frank asked. “See, even you mom thinks it’s getting out of hand.”

“Naah,” I chugged the rest of my lemonade. “She’s just working for lawyers this week, so her mind’s on that stuff. Let’s get outside and organize the tools. By this time tomorrow, we’ll be flying.”

 

2 comments:

Anna said...

Mad Scientist [in the title]

... even your mom ... [towards the end]

Also, I'm not sure if you want these pointed out. It's common in informal writing to write sentences with a structure like, "Bob did this, and made that." But the comma there is usually considered an error: "Bob did this and made that" or "Bob did this, and he made that" are correct forms instead. If you let me know whether you want me to point those out or not, I can try to remember your preference. :)

Aaaand, I mention that because there's three of them in this episode:

... electromagnet would be exciting and maybe involve ...

... something and clued the FBI in ...

... She paused and came into the kitchen ...

Anna said...

Also, this is fun. I'm now trying to figure out how setting up a hoverboard in a garage will cause mass destruction. Wipe out the power for the neighborhood, maybe? Jettison the hoverboard into space, destroying the roof? And will the mysterious boy who saved his life at the lake turn out to be his future self, time-traveling back to save him?