The Impossible Race: Cragbridge Hall, Volume 3 (10 page)

BOOK: The Impossible Race: Cragbridge Hall, Volume 3
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“I know,” Derick said, “but they are really good with the Bridge. They’ve practiced more than most.” He looked over at Rafa and they shared a knowing look. There was no way he was going to tell them all that Abby and Carol had done. “But what may be their better asset is that they’re good at challenges, at figuring out clues and puzzles. I think they’re a natural fit for the team.” Maybe he was overselling them, but he was hoping the Crash would go for it.

“Maybe,” Maria said, “but we would also need a virtuality expert.”

“I’m not bad,” Derick said.

“It’s true,” Rafa said. “He made a virtual samurai world that’s impressive.” He mocked a few sword swipes.

“And Abby and Carol aren’t bad either,” he said.

“I’m sure that’s true,” Piper said. “But if we really want to win, we need the very best. And the very best is Anjum. If we don’t have him on our team, I’m not sure we can beat him.”

Malcolm nodded. He obviously knew who Piper was talking about. “He won last year, didn’t he?”

“Yep,” said Piper. “I was on his team. He’s the best at virtuality, but he’s also a team leader. Really intense, but a good leader. He’ll bring out the best in all of us if we’ll listen to him.”

Again, Derick checked with Rafa, who nodded. “Okay,” Derick said, “if we can get Jess and Anjum on our team, will you join up?”

They all looked at each other, then Malcolm nodded. “If you can get those two, I’m in.”

“Me too,” Maria said.

The others also agreed.

“Great,” Derick said. “Any ideas how we can persuade Anjum and Jess?”

 

Better than Brilliance

 

Abby tried to stay far back enough from Landon Beane that he wouldn’t know she was following him, but close enough that she wouldn’t lose him. She had investigated teachers she suspected of wrongdoing before, but to be following someone a few years older than her felt weird.

He moved down the hall saying hello to many of the students on the way, giving high fives and even hugs. He was definitely a people person. But two halls down, he stepped into a teacher’s office and closed the door behind him.

Why was a student body officer visiting a teacher after hours? For homework troubles? Or for something more devious?

Abby casually walked by and read the plaque outside the office: Mr. Silverton, Computer Science.

“Sure, you get to follow the handsome student body officer while I get the bald computer science teacher. No fair.”

Abby turned to see Carol leaning against a wall.

“So Mr. Silverton is on our list too?” Abby asked.

“Yep,” Carol said. “He’s on the Race committee. The question is, ‘Is this official Race business? Or are they up to something evil?’” Carol said, changing her voice to sound like a conspiratorial narrator on a webseries.

“I wish there was a way we could tell,” Abby said.

“We could just knock and ask,” Carol suggested.

They waited for several more minutes. Finally, Landon exited. The lines in his brow were deep. What had he and Mr. Silverton talked about?

“Hey, Jessica!” Landon called out, his expression quickly brightening. It was as though all his worry vanished. He walked a few more steps, then looked directly at Abby and Carol. “Hey, girls,” he said, and continued on down the hall.

“Did he know we were following him?” Abby whispered.

“Um, I didn’t get to follow him,” Carol corrected. “I was stuck with baldy, remember?”

Abby gestured for Carol to lower her voice. Landon was probably well out of earshot, but they should still be careful. “Yeah,” Abby said, “but we can’t follow him now. He’ll either know we’re spying on him or he’ll think we’re silly stalker girls.”

“Though I’m still game for following him around, I think you’ve got a point,” Carol said. Realizing their cover may have been blown, Abby and Carol returned to Grandpa Cragbridge’s lab.

Abby walked around the edge of the large room and paused to look at a visor charger. “Hopefully, we’ll be better at figuring this out than we were with Landon and Mr. Silverton.”

“Landon might not have really even known we were following him,” Carol said. “Maybe he just saw two very attractive thirteen-year-old girls and wanted to say hi.”

“First off,” Abby said, “that’s kind of gross. He’s got to be at least seventeen. We are way too young for him. Secondly, I don’t think he’s just naturally going to pay attention to us.”

“Whatever,” Carol said, waving Abby off. How was she so confident? Abby didn’t think there was any way Landon was just being friendly. He knew.

“So, back to finding out about the Bridge and the future,” Abby said, looking back toward the large desk in the center of the lab. “The last thing Grandpa said was something about making the most of our choices.”

“Maybe he just wants us to not bother him anymore and go have awesome lives,” Carol suggested.

“We can’t do that,” Abby said, blinking several times. “Unless that crazy message from the future is wrong, my brother is going to . . .” Tears welled up in Abby’s eyes. “Derick’s going to die in a week. I have to figure out how to stop this.”

“Don’t cry, because then I’ll cry,” Carol said, waving her hands in front of her eyes, trying to dry the forming tears.

The two sniffled for a few moments and took deep breaths. It was better if they didn’t think about it and focused on what they could do.

“Okay.” Abby wiped her eyes. “Let’s keep going.” She looked around the office at bits of her grandfather’s inventions. “Maybe we should think about why he wants us in his lab. That might be important.”

“Good point,” Carol said.

The two girls began to wander the room, looking at the inventions and parts and charts for any clue as to what they should do next. Abby looked at a virtual booth. Her grandpa hadn’t invented that, but had added the connection between the visors, the mind, and the booth so it was possible to be immersed in a virtual world. She thought of Derick’s samurai world.
No. No thinking about Derick right now.
Abby moved on to the metalworking machine in the corner. She didn’t think her grandpa had invented it either, but he used it to make the lockets, and boxes, and even some of the secret compartments. He truly knew how to do many things.

She walked to another booth, a booth she knew was connected to the real Bridge in the basement. “It’s interesting that my grandpa made so many great inventions, but they’ve gotten us into all this trouble.”

“Yeah,” Carol agreed. She was looking at a large chart on the wall covered with equations.

Something about standing in her grandfather’s office made Abby feel wrong about what she had said. That may not be how he would look at it at all. “Or maybe they haven’t,” she said. “Maybe this
is
all going to turn out for the best. Maybe our trial is going to make us stronger.”

“You totally sound like your grandpa right now,” Carol said.

Abby laughed. “I do sound like him, don’t I?” She walked back toward the large desk in the center of the room. As she did, the cane she carried in her pack flashed a few numbers and the desk once again revealed the metal objects. Abby looked at her friend, then back down at the objects. Her eyes fell on the star and the bowl and then the other metal items. She didn’t want to touch any of them without a pair of gloves. “Wait. So these were the choices my grandpa gave us, right?”

“Yeah.”

Abby looked back at the invention that made lockets and other metal items. “We are supposed to ‘make the most’ of them. Maybe that’s not metaphorical. Maybe we’re really supposed to make something good out of them.”

“What? Oh!” Carol said as she looked in the corner at the metal shop machine. “That just might be it.”

They both walked over to the machine. Abby synced into its console. “I haven’t done anything like this before,” she admitted.

“Me neither,” Carol said. “Metal shop is an elective and I definitely elected not to do it.”

“It looks like there are various settings,” Abby said, “depending on how much work you want to do by hand and how much by machine. We can even craft our own molds and make other metal objects.”

“Could we melt down one of the objects from your grandpa’s desk to do it?”

“Let’s give it a shot,” Abby said. She began to fiddle with the settings she’d found through her rings. She could design three-dimensionally. Using her rings, she formed a sphere in the design matrix, then stretched it, thinned it, made it thicker. Each hand motion did something different.

“Is this going to take a while?” Carol asked.

“I’m not sure,” Abby said, still manipulating the program. “I’ve never done this before.”

“Okay,” Carol said. “I’m going to go visit the metal shop to see if I can make a pattern there, save it, and bring it back here. Maybe I can ask the teacher some questions if I need to.”

“Sounds great,” Abby said. “Sync up if you need anything.”

Within moments, Abby was alone in her grandfather’s lab. She was trying to make something worthwhile, trying to learn about the power of the future in the same room where the greatest inventor who ever lived had worked on some of his most amazing inventions. She thought back over her time with her grandfather. He got her into this school. Though she didn’t have the grades for it, he said she had heart, that she faced her fears and didn’t quit trying. He said that was a trait that some of the most talented people in the world could look up to. He believed in her. He said she had something to offer.

Heart.

Abby paced for a moment. Maybe that’s what she would make—a heart. Maybe she could decide that no matter what the future held, she could face it. She could keep trying. That felt right, like something Grandpa would want.

Abby went to work. She programmed as best she could, pulling the shape into the form she envisioned. She didn’t make it precise or symmetrical. That would be too perfect for her. She selected a simple predesigned chain to make it into a necklace.

Once she had it all designed, she clicked the button for the machine to make it. The machine synced to her rings and a message appeared.

Warming up.

Insert desired metal into the holding area.

 

A drawer in the thick, safe-like container beneath the console opened.

Abby looked back at the objects on Grandpa’s desk. At first she grabbed the bowl; it was the shape that had rewarded her. But that wasn’t how her life had been. She’d had to work for what she achieved. She’d been through pain. She’d faced the difficult. She put on a glove and grabbed the star. It vibrated in her hands as it tried to shock her. That was more like her life so far—one shock after another.

She dropped the object into the holding area, hoping the heart wouldn’t come out with the ability to shock. It slowly closed.

Ready?

 

No. She wasn’t. Her life had been like that shocking star. She returned to her design and added a star to the front of her heart, long and short rays of light reaching out from it in all directions. Like a small firework. It didn’t look half bad.

She approved her design, and the machine began to do its work. It heated up and began to move and shake.

Grandpa appeared, walking toward the corner of his office that held the metal shop machine. “Very good. Because we can’t see the future, no one makes perfect choices all the time. In fact, even if we could see the future, I doubt we could make perfect choices. But after we make a choice, make the most of it. Learn from it. Choose to take the difficult and make something worthwhile out of it.”

He took a few more steps, his cane in hand. “Another lesson of the future is that trying once is rarely good enough. You must keep at it. It is a game of diligence. Being steady is better than genius. Trying invincibly day after day is better than small moments of brilliance.”

Abby liked that. It felt true. Of course she probably liked it more because she could try; she could press forward. And she didn’t feel like she’d had too many moments of brilliance.

Grandpa looked back at the objects. “Remember, try over and over again. You have some work to do.”

Oh, no. That was probably literal. In true Grandpa style, she’d have to prove she could try, over and over again. She had to make object after object into something worthwhile.

And she still didn’t have her answer.

BOOK: The Impossible Race: Cragbridge Hall, Volume 3
2.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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