Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Ohhh…. (02/04/10)
TITLE: Stratuazominer Go Down the Hole
By Allison Egley
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After the formal introductions, Mr. Aldrin led Ken into the research lab.
"And this is our current project, the one you'll be helping with. The specifications are on your desk, and you can read those once we finish here."
"Ohh... wow. What does it do?"
"Those specifications, as I said, are in the manual on your desk. I can't take the time to explain it all right now. But the success of many future missions depends on it."
Ken looked around the room in fascination. "Hey, what does this big red button do?" He knew he shouldn't, but he walked closer to the button and reached out his hand tentatively."
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
"I know I shouldnâ€™t but... I just can't help it." Ken thrust out his finger. "Oops," he said innocently. A mighty sound like rushing water filled the room. The lights dimmed. The room shook. "Ohhhh... That was cool. Let's do it again."
"No. Let's not do it again," Mr. Aldrin implored.
But once was never enough for Ken. "Look. I'm pushing the button. What does it do anyway? I mean, besides all the cool stuff that happened earlier. There's got to be a purpose for this button."
"You just flushed all the toilets in the building at once, costing us hundreds of dollars for the water bill. Congratulations."
"Thank you. "
The door to the lab burst open, and a man ran frantically into the room.
Mr. Aldrin was unfazed by his entrance. "Ken, I'd like you to meet Neil. Don't mind his panicked look. He always looks like that." He turned to Neil. "Neil, do you have something you'd like to tell me? I think you look even more panicked than usual, if that's even possible."
"Mr. Aldrin. You'll never believe what happened. I went to the bathroom, and had the Stratuazominer attached to my ID lanyard as always. Something must have broken, because it fell in the toilet."
Mr. Aldrin's eyes bulged out, his face white with terror, as Neil continued his story. "Luckily, Jim was in there with his fish net, because his pet fish, Mr. Bojangles, had just died, and he was going to flush him. So I borrowed the fish net to catch the Stratuazominer. I had just about snagged it, when all of a sudden... whoosh. All the toilets flushed at once. Then they flushed again. The Stratuazominer went down the toilet, and poor Mr. Bojangles didn't even get a proper funeral."
Mr. Aldrin's face changed from white to red. "The Stratuazominer? But that's priceless. We spent years working on that, and it's irreplaceable!"
Neil clasped his hands as he fell to his knees. "Please Mr. Aldrin, Mr. kind sir... Don't hurt me."
"Don't worry. It wasn't your fault. Someone here never learned that he shouldnâ€™t press big red buttons if he doesn't know what they do. Neil, you are dismissed." Mr. Aldrin turned towards Ken.
Ken slowly backed away, as he tried to defend himself. "Didn't anyone teach you that scientists can't help but press big red buttons? It's part of our curious nature."
"And didn't anyone teach you not to press buttons if you don't know what they do? Do you know what you did? You just destroyed an irreplaceable part to a priceless scientific instrument that took most of my career to develop."
"Ohhh... You seem angry, Mr. Aldrin. I can see the veins in your neck budging. That can't be good for you. Maybe you're about to have a heart attack. Should I call 9-1-1?"
Mr. Aldrin took a deep breath before continuing. "Yes. Please call 9-1-1. Tell them to send the ambulance and the police."
"The police? Why?"
"Because I am about to kill you."
"Ohhhhh." Ken backed towards the door. "You know, I don't think this new job is working out so well. Why don't I just grab my things and leave?"
"That's the best idea I've heard all day. And since the day started out on such a great note before this little.. 'incident' I'm even going to give you a parting gift."
"Really? What's that?"
"A ten-second head start."
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