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By Tony

The following is a short extract from a book by Tony Grider. You can find out more about Tonys' writing by clicking here

It could have been any time or any place, but it wasn't. It could have been any boy or any girl at any school, but that wasn't the case either. Some would call it an accident. Others would call it a publicity stunt that went too far. Only a few knew the truth. If you've ever seen a small pebble hit the water and make a ripple…well, you might say this was one of those pebbles. On second thought, it was more like a damn big rock.

"Randy! Wake up! I told you to get up half an hour ago!" his mother yelled through the bedroom door while flipping on his light switch. "You're going to be late again!" No response. "Don't make me call Dean!" No response. "You know what happened the last time he had to come home!"

Randy continued to lie within his own personal haven that consisted of a wadded up sheet around his feet, a soft, cotton thermal blanket, an old quilt, and an afghan thrown in on top just for good measure. He felt warm and safely cocooned from the rest of the world waiting for his mother to finish her predictable morning assault on his sleep. He dreamed of becoming a famous race car driver and having Dean, a car mechanic who had legally adopted him, work as his Crew Chief. There was just one problem. School. He was failing and everyday seemed to be worse than the day before. His well meaning, but not so creative or stimulating homeroom teacher, often filled his days with disparaging remarks punctuated with a crescendo of yelling and then would seem genuinely surprised when he got angry and lashed back…and lashing back had become his specialty of late. You might even say that he was becoming a real connoisseur in matters of retaliation.

Randy barely made it to his bus stop in time. Ms. Canady squawked her usual warnings. He had already been suspended from riding the bus once this year and couldn't afford a second time. Dean was so mad when he found out, Randy thought he was going to kill him. They got along the rest of the time mostly because they both loved to watch NASCAR races. Randy's favorite driver was Jeff Gordon. Dean liked Dale Earnhardt. Even Dean thought Randy should be a race car driver because every time his mother would get upset about a note or call from his teacher he would say, "Oh for Pete's sake leave the boy alone! He ain't going to Harvard". Then they would both laugh in solidarity. Randy figured that they both shared the same dreams.

It was raining by the time Randy got off the bus and blew into his homeroom. He shook his head giving those around him a mini-shower. Squeals and yelling followed, but one look from Mrs. Winchell let him know that some things never changed.

"Randy, we're not going to start the day this way. There are paper towels in the bathroom if you need to get dry. I suggest you use them," she told him in that familiar tone.

Randy also knew that she knew he didn't have all his homework to turn in. The inevitable "homework inquisition" only served to start another predictable diatribe of threats and insults that resulted in him losing all of his recesses for the following week too. Since it was Friday and was going to be an indoor recess day anyway, he didn't care. In fact, it was just the excuse he needed to go into his retaliation mode. It was fun pushing her buttons. The way Randy saw it, she was the human equivalent to a pinball machine and had stopped being his teacher a long time ago. Boredom was his constant enemy. His neurological system demanded a high level of stimulation that would not be denied. A good spit-wad fight would help get things off to a good start he thought. His well-placed spit-wad struck its intended target. The slimy wad of paper now adorned the neck of Karen McAlister, the most popular girl in class. She was also the most dramatic which meant she yelled as though she'd been pierced in a vital organ by some kind of arrow or something. Karen reacted immediately by bouncing her mechanical pencil off the head of Vance Snodgrass, the toughest kid in class. You didn't mess with Vance. Only Karen seemed to have forgotten or didn't care because her mother was PTA President for the third year in a row. It never ceased to amaze Randy how so much chaos could be created with one well-placed spit-wad. He was not disappointed.

Eleven-year old Justin Mayfeld had no warning. He was very excited and had arrived early to help set up his team's project for one last test before the Science and Technology Fair. Most of his team members were older boys and girls from Jr. High and High School. They had been working on their project since last year. Their professor, Dr. Fagen, had networked with some of the best minds from the most prestigious universities to be their telementors. In simple terms, they were using a modified particle beam accelerator in an attempt to move a piece of lint from one point in time and space to another by superheating it, converting it to a plasma gas inside a protective magnetic bubble, then transmitting it to another point just a few feet away.

Robbie Kincaid was the team's only first grader. He was sipping on his usual foil pouch of Provitotal drink when it happened. He was attempting to squeeze past some of the older students to get a better view, past the elbows and to the front, where he could see the thin beam of light hit the small piece of lint. He knew he had to make his move quickly while Justin was still making the final adjustments or he would lose his opportunity. This time was going to be different he thought as he wormed his way though every space he could find in order to make it to the front. Just one more set of arms and elbows and he'd be there front and center. He'd get to see the piece of lint vaporize and then reappear on a table just a few feet away.

Justin was wearing his PID's and checking the calibrations with Bruno. It was basically a networked appliance with digital retina displays and an intuitive software program that resided on a local wireless server. A back-up copy of the software was also loaded into his PID (Personal Intuitive Device) wraparound frames in case their connection to the local server was severed. Bruno was the name of his Scotty Terrier avatar, his personalized intelligent software agent.

He informed the group, "I'll be ready in a second". The low power particle accelerator had been warming up for twenty minutes and everyone was starting to grow impatient. Dr. Fagen, Justin's professor, smiled as one of team members yelled to Justin, "Come on…Let's give it the juice!" Those were the last words that anyone remembered hearing before the accident. Two Jr. High team members had caught Robbie trying to worm his way past them and put the squeeze on him…and his drink. They looked in disbelief as the juice shot up through the exposed straw, arched over, and hit the control panel of the accelerator. It happened so fast. Everyone ducked for cover as sparks flew everywhere and filled the room with a bright flash of blue light that ended with the loud explosion. Later they would discover that the explosion had been the sound of the accelerator lens blowing out. The rest of the accelerator was fused together into an unrecognizable glob of hot molten aluminum and circuit boards.

She was in the middle of briefing…actually a video broadcast of a large protest against her corporation and other corporations at a World Trade Conference meeting in Washington, D.C. Annette Banning rather enjoyed watching the youthful protesters and didn't hide her wish to be there from the Chairman of her Board of Directors. "They're our external moral conscience",

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