This continues an excerpt from Mad Science Institute, a novel of calamities, creatures, and college matriculation. (type “J” to skip back one post; type “K” to skip ahead one post)
The novel will be available 12/16/2011, but you can read the beginning here first!
Most of the rest of the day passed in a blur. Thankfully, no one was hurt beyond a few minor burns and bruises. All the same, I got some mean looks from the students whose experiments I had ruined. The judges wouldn’t talk to me, either, and the guy from MIT wouldn’t even look at me—although I did see him talking with the antimatter kid for a long time.
I felt lower than the scavenging worms at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Even for me, this was an unprecedented disaster. My experiment had even burned out some of the wiring in the gymnasium. My Dad, being an electrician, had negotiated to repair the gym himself, but it would probably take him days to do it, and that didn’t cover the cost of all the cell phones and other electronic devices that were wrecked by the EMP. Here we were, so poor we couldn’t afford anything but the crummiest of cell-phones, and now somehow we were going to have to pay to replace everybody else’s high-end devices. I couldn’t even look my Dad in the eye all the way home.
The weird thing, the amazing thing, was that it turned out the science fair fiasco wasn’t the most important thing to happen that day. When we got home there was a letter from the Mechanical Science Institute waiting for me.
I recognized the name of the Institute because about a month ago a professor named Denise McKenzie had sent me a get-to-know-you letter saying she wanted to look into scholarships for me. I guess my cousin Dean had told her about me, but I don’t know what he said because I hardly knew him and the last time I saw him I think I was ten, back in the days when the whole family would get together for holidays sometimes. (I remember Dean because he stomped out the fire I accidentally started on the rug after rewiring the Christmas lights.) I guess he and my Dad must stay in touch a little, and my Dad must have bragged (or complained) about my inventions, and that’s how word got out to McKenzie.
Anyway, I didn’t think much of the Mechanical Science Institute at the time. The letter said it was a special program at some school called Langdon University, which was located in the weirdly-named town of Bugswallow, Minnesota. I had never heard of it before, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to look into it as one of my safety schools, so I sent Professor McKenzie the paperwork and copies of a few of my blueprints. Now I finally had her reply.
With a sigh, I decided my day couldn’t get any worse, so I opened the official-looking envelope and pulled out the letter.
Dear Sophia Lazarchek,
I have reviewed your transcript, your personal statement, and, most importantly, your schematics. I am particularly impressed with your knowledge and implementation of Tesla’s work with wireless electricity broadcasting. I regret that I will not be able to see your demonstration at the science fair, but I trust all will go well.
I am pleased to offer you enrollment in the Mechanical Science Institute with a full scholarship, including expenses for tuition, room, board, and books. Our classes begin on September 13th. I apologize for the short notice, but I hope you will join us this very year, as we are in need of a student with your expertise.
Professor Denise McKenzie
Dean of Students, Mechanical Science Institute