Table of Contents
DIAL BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS â¢ A division of Penguin Young Readers Group Published by The Penguin Group â¢ Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, U.S.A. â¢ Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) â¢ Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England â¢ Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) â¢ Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) â¢ Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India â¢ Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) â¢ Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This book is published in partnership with Walden Media, LLC. Walden Media and the Walden Media skipping stone logo are trademarks and registered trademarks of Walden Media, LLC, 17 New England Executive Park, Building 17, Suite 305, Burlington, Massachusetts 01803.
Copyright Â© 2010 by Ingrid Law
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Law, Ingrid, date.
Scumble / Ingrid Law.
eISBN : 978-1-101-44245-6
[1. MagicâFiction. 2. SecretsâFiction. 3. Reporters and reportingâFiction. 4. Ranch lifeâWyomingâFiction. 5. WyomingâFiction.] I. Title.
who was always there for me,
even when he wasn't.
OM AND DAD HAD KNOWN ABOUT the wedding at my uncle Autry's ranch for months. But with the date set a mere ten days after my thirteenth birthday, my family's RSVP had remained solidly unconfirmed until the last possible wait-and-see moment. We had to wait until my birthday came and went. We had to see if anything exploded, caught fire, or flooded before committing to a long-haul trip across four states in the minivan. In my family, thirteenth birthdays were like time bombs, with no burning fuse or beeping countdown to tell you when to plug your ears, duck, brace yourself, or turn tail and get the hay bales out of Dodge.
I'd known for years that something in my blood and guts and brains and bones was poised to turn me tall-tale, gollywhopper weird. On my thirteenth birthday, a mysterious ancestral force would hit like lightning, giving me my very own off-the-wall talent. My very own
. Making me just like the rest of the spectacular square pegs I was related to.
My mom's side of the family had always been more than a little different. I doubted there were many people with a time-hopping great-aunt, a grandpa who shaped mountains and valleys out of land once pancake-flat, and a mix of cousins who ranged from electric to mind-reading to done-gone vanishedâ
I'd even had a great-uncle who could spit hailstones like watermelon seeds, or gargle water into vapor and blow it out his ears. When Great-uncle Ferris turned thirteen, his savvy had stunned him with a sudden, sunny-colored snowstorm inside the family outhouse, toppling the small shack like an overburdened ice chest that rolled down the hill with him still inside it.
As for me, I'd been sure my birthday would treat me betterâsure I had the perfect mix of genes to make me supersonically swift. Unlike Mom, Dad was ordinary, but even without a savvy, he was still one of the best runners in Vanderburgh County. So it was practically destiny that I'd become the fastest member of the Theodore Roosevelt Middle School track team. The fastest kid on the
Nothing worked out the way I'd hoped.
On my thirteenth birthday, I didn't get bigger, better, stronger muscles, or start racing at the speed of light. I didn't get the ability to whiz blizzards in the blaze of summer, either. But it wasn't like I hadn't gotten a savvy of my own.
Watches and windshield wipers everywhere, look out! I could blow stuff apart without a touch, dismantling small things in bursts of parts and pieces: a light switch here, a doorknob there, garage door opener, can opener, Dad's stop watch, his electric nose-hair trimmer too. After the first few episodes, I shoved whatever I couldn't fix underneath my bed. I didn't want Mom and Dad to know how much stuff I was breaking. Already, I could see my future: No more training with Dad for the father-son half marathon in the fall. No track team, no more school, no friends. Rather than flinging crinkle-cut dills in the cafeteria, I'd be staying home to grow moss in pickle jars like my Beaumont cousins. Because if I hit Josh and Ryan and Big Mouth Brody Sandoval with ceiling panels and table hardware instead of handfuls of baby gherkins, Josh and Ryan might laugh it off, but Big Mouth Brody would tell for sureâand that wouldn't go over well at home.
Family rules said
. No one risked the consequences of sharing the family secret unless they had to; it was impossible to know what might happen if people found out that we weren't normal. Nicer folks might want to hire us for our skills. Less nice ones might want to put us in a freak show, or lock us up to study us and try to decode our genomes.
Well, secrecy was fine by me. The ability to bust apart a toaster wasn't something I cared to boast about. It helped that Dad was clearly in denial, while Mom believed she had everything under control. As far as my parents were concerned, I was simply Ledger Kale, doohickey-destructo boy less-than extraordinaire. And I was happy to let them think it.
So, nine days after I turned thirteen, Mom and Dad confirmed our family's RSVP and we packed our bags, preparing to hightail our way west from Indiana to Wyoming.
It wasn't long before everyone regretted the decision. As Dad pushed the minivan to its limits, trying to make it to the wedding on time, we were stalled again and again by a procession of problems along the interstate. I mislaid the muffler in Missouri, busted needle bearings in Nebraska, and sent us skidding in South Dakota, three wheels on our wagon. Helping Dad chase down our wayward tire, I worried the whole transmission might be next.
I sank lower in my seat with each new mishap, willing my savvy to go away, ignoring my sister as she shook her head inside the oversized football helmet she'd worn nonstop since my birthday.
“Ledger!” Mom turned to face me in the van. “If you're causing this trouble,
“Yeah,” Fedora piped up. “Safety starts with
Ledge, but it begins with
.” My sister's second-grade teacher had been a stickler for safety, and Fe carried her most memorable sayings inside her head, handing them out like toothbrushes on Halloween.
“I mean it, Ledge,” Mom continued. “Keep it togetherâkeep
togetherâuntil we reach Wyoming.” She smiled her best bulldozer smile, the one hardly anyone in the world could stand against. Mom's savvy word-and-smile combo had been making me and my sister eat our broccoli and keep our rooms clean forever, and Dad never forgot to take out the trash, though sometimes he did roll his eyes as he stepped out the door. Dinah Kale's savvy put her in control. She'd even stopped a bank robber once just by telling him to sit down and be still, shackling him with five words and a smile until the police arrived.