Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: FIZZLE (06/09/16)
By Raymond Bouchoc
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With sweat beading on his brow, Warren bent over, held the pellet over the tip of the snow pile, and dropped it. The pellet fell into the snow, out of sight. A heartbeat later, a sound like the burning of a sparkler on a 4th of July night erupted from the pile.
Warren leaped to his feet and ran, jumping behind an armchair for protection. The sound intensified, “Phitzzzzzzzzel.” The hair on Warren’s head stood on end like the old static on clothes out of a drier. “Pop!”
When all the noise subsided, Warren rose, staring hard at the center of the room, straining to see something. Then he snuck to the tarp like a prowler through a house. At the tarp, he saw that half of the snow pile stood there, while the other half had been blown out a couple of inches in a semi-circle from the center.
Straightening, he whipped off the goggles from his head, and with exasperation cried out, “It’s all still snow!”
He knit his eyebrows together and stomped towards his desk, when a rap at the door stopped him. “Warren?” It was Todd, who worked in the office next to his.
“Warren? You alright?” Todd opened the door and stuck in his head. “I tried to call but you didn’t answer. What was all that noise?”
“Nothing! Nothing!” Warren waved him off as if shooing a fly.
“Are you experimenting again?!” Todd shook his head and closed the door.
At his desk, Warren noticed a small stream of smoke wisping out of his cell phone. He also noticed that the lightbulb in his lamp had blown out. Glass lay strewn across his desk. “Phooey,” he said, brushing the bits of glass aside. Sitting down, he went back to work.
A week passed, and Warren inched across the floor of his office, holding a familiar pebble-sized sphere. Sweat pouring down his face, he stared at it with wide eyes, approaching the pile of snow in the middle of his office. This pile stood two feet high.
He bent over the pile and dropped the pellet. It disappeared into the snow, and then the sounds began, “PhitzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZEL.” Warren ran for cover.
Static electricity shot through the room and Warren shocked himself against the metal of the chair he hid behind.
“Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.” The fluorescent lights in the ceiling of his office blew out, raining glass around him.
When everything settled, Warren peaked up from his chair and stared toward the snow pile. Somewhere in the distance he thought he heard someone yell, but he ignored that as he noticed something about the pile of snow. He jumped up and strode towards it.
He stopped and stared down at the tarp. For a long minute he stood frozen. Then, like an exploding firecracker, he bounded up and down, hooping and hollering in celebration, “I did it!”
Out in the hall someone yelled, “What’s going on here!”
The door burst open, “Warren! What’s going on! What have you done!” Todd scowled at Warren, his eyes roaming the room. Then he slammed the door shut.
Now Warren heard the commotion outside his office. “Oh, oh,” he thought, as the excitement of his experiment faded. He went to the door, and opened it an inch at a time. Outside, his co-workers milled about. Some swept up broken glass. Some cleaned debris off desks and counters. Every light outside his office had blown out. Warren later found out that every light and electrical device in the entire building had experienced the blow-out.
Warren closed his door and turned his head towards the tarp. A large smile crossed his face as he looked at the empty tarp. The entire pile of snow had been vaporized by his pellet. No sign of it remained, not even a drop of water. “Revolutionary!” he yelled. “Now, for the side effects!”
Warren made his way to his desk, wiped aside the debris that lay upon it, sat down, and went back to work.
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