Chapter 1: We Have a Blue Winter
Well, hi again, everyone. It's me, Colton Grey. If you haven't met me before then I guess I'd better bring you up to speed. I'm eleven years old and I'm best friends with a mad scientist named Nathan Nuthouse (that's Nuh-thouse) AKA Professor Nut. Just three months ago, we (meaning my friend the mad scientist) blew up my mom's peach tree to ginormous proportions, which caused some trouble. Then we (again, meaning my friend Nathan "Professor Nut" Nuthouse) decided to fix it by poisoning it, only to realize that it would soon fall on the town and crush it. Then finally we (and I do mean "we," this time) saved the town by blasting it with some sort of bluish mist that made the tree go poof. Now were this an episode in a cartoon series, that would be one mess cleaned up and everything hunky-dory until the next disaster created by a mad scientist came along. But it's not. This is my life and the mess from one hairy adventure tends to carry over into the next one. You'll see what I mean soon enough.
It was a cold January morning when I took my daily morning walk to the bus stop. A normal cold January morning would probably have some wet snow on the ground with some wet flakes being blown into your face by a biting wind. Well, with this morning, we got the wind, but the snow blowing into my face wasn't the cold, wet kind. It was the blue, sooty kind that goes right up your nose, making you sneeze like crazy and your eyes water. If you haven't had that kind of snow before, that's because you don't live in our town where a mad scientist blows up a giant peach tree into blue ash. How's the weather where you live? I covered my mouth and nose and kept my head down to keep as little of the blue ash away from my eyes as possible. I was going to look like a Smurf by the time I got to school, but that's why we all carried a change of clothes in our backpacks so we at least looked like Smurfs in uniform. Seriously, though, I don't know why the teachers insisted we try to clean up. They wanted us to use the sixth-grade football team's locker room because for some reason they think the sixth graders "wouldn't mind" and wouldn't "harm" us if we did. Besides that, I've got an intense fear of taking off my clothes in public. Nudophobia, I think it's called. I dunno, maybe it was their way of punishing me for the giant peach tree incident, but that's not fair because it was really Nathan's fault.
Like his ears were burning, he came walking up next to me. I noticed he was wearing safety goggles and a pair of coveralls to keep the soot out of his eyes and clothes. Leave it to a mad genius to figure out how to protect himself from his own messes.
He offered a pair of goggles to me. "Here you go," he said.
"Thanks," I said as I took it from him even though it was a bit late. My eyes were already stinging. Once I managed to get them on, my eyes stinging worse than ever, we started on our way again.
"You know, it's unusual to be this far into winter without even a hint of snow," Nathan remarked.
"Maybe Mother Nature thought we already had it covered," I joked, waving around at the blue stuff.
Nathan looked thoughtful. "Maybe. It's possible that this ash acts as a shield, reflecting the sun's rays and preventing the water from properly evaporating so that we can get enough moisture in the air to jumpstart the water cycle."
I nodded along. "Exactly what I was thinking."
We arrived at the bus stop. Kids were already waiting there. One of them pointed at Nathan and jeered, "Look, guys, it's that Professor Nut! The one who blew up that giant peach tree and made a big, fat mess!"
"Hey, Nut!" yelled another kid, "When are you going to invent something to get rid of all this blue stuff?"
Yep, that's pretty typical for my friend, the mad scientist, and like a champ he ignores it. Being his friend doesn't exactly get me off scot-free though and my temper isn't as good as Nathan's. One of them said to me, "Say, Colton, you ought to put a shock collar on him, like they use for dogs, so if he tries to make any of those inventions of his, it'll shock him."
I snapped, "I think I'd rather put it on you so that every time you open your stupid mouth all that comes out is bzzzzzt!" Ooh, that was a good burn!
Even better was getting the last word because it was at this moment that everyone yelled, "The bus!" and scrambled to get in line. We all ducked as the bus pulled up because the bus tended to kick up all the blue dust into the air and no one wanted it to get into their eyes, so it got into our hair instead. The bus driver refused to open the door until all the dust had settled. Then he opened the door and yelled, "Dust yourselves off as best you can before you get on. And when you do, use the seat protectors. Don't touch anything else, understand?"
He said this every day since the ash covered our town. I thought it was kind of ridiculous since the bus wasn't exactly a runner-up for world's cleanest bus to begin with, but it was either that or listen to him chew us out all the way to school and trust me, his voice isn't the kind you can ignore or talk over. We went through a sort of assembly line as each kid got on, waited for the driver to inspect him and then was either passed or sent back outside to dust off better. There were quite a few of these kids, who gave me and Nathan dirty looks. If looks could dirty...
We presented ourselves to the bus driver. He was a grizzled, old man who needed a shave and some whitening toothpaste. And a comb. And maybe a girlfriend. With a scowl, he looked us up and down and then told us to turn around. We did and waited. He finally grunted, "Guess you're not too dirty. Go ahead and sit down."
We took a seat that had a thick, dirty, red cloth draped over it. We removed our goggles, and Nathan put them in a sandwich bag he had in his breast pocket. "Don't need these until we get home from school," he said.
I'm pretty sure I went through half the school's paper towel supply scrubbing off that blue ash from my face. Nathan was done in about ten seconds by using a skin cleaner he invented himself. I might have used it too if I hadn't seen all of his other inventions and what happened to the people who used them, like Mr. Lindup and his hair of fire. We changed out of our ashy clothes into some fresh ones from our backpacks. I put my dirty clothes in my backpack but Nathan hid his clothes in the hollow of a tree that stood next to the school fence. People had taken to taking his stuff when he wasn't looking, so he decided to fix the problem by hiding them, and so far it worked. Now comes the fun part.
Okay, seriously, if any of you started drooling at that word, I think you need your head checked. If you can say something about a normal day in school like "and we learned how to find the area of a circle" without someone going comatose, I'll give you a nickel. Sure, there are stories where the main character goes to school and it's all about them completing a school project, but I think this story already has the "science fair experiment goes horribly wrong" thing covered. In my story, school is just a big wedge that gets in the way of the good parts. So why don't we just skip ahead to the good parts? The bus ride home is just as good a place as any, right?
Looking out the window, I saw the sky covered in gray clouds. "Looks like we might get snow," I said hopefully.
"Yes, hopefully," Nathan replied. "The weatherman promised we would tomorrow."
We did get the snow the weatherman promised; except... you know how your uncle promises to bring you back a prize from his trip and then comes back and gives you a rock? This was what the weatherman did. He promised us snow and gave us a little "flurry" as Nathan called it where it all fell to the ground and melted instantly. By the end of the day, you couldn't even tell that it had snowed, except that the blue powder was mushy. Still, I was a forgiving guy and me and Nathan were willing to let him redeem himself by giving us a real snow day.
We waited three days. No snow. And we were peeved! That weatherman had lied to us! Got our hopes up and then laughed in our face with that pitiful sprinkle of frozen water! Ooh, if I ever saw that guy, I'd pound his face in until it looked like one of those "modern art" paintings! I'd piledrive the guy right into the snow-uncovered sidewalk! I'd take the stinking snow shovel Dad made me use to shovel away the blue powder and beat that weatherman to a pulp!
Hey, I was pretty ticked off, but of course, when I heard what Nathan wanted to do about us not getting any snow, I suddenly felt that maybe having no snow probably wasn't such a bad thing.
"Well, fine then!" he shouted as we were walking home, making me jump. He shook a fist at the sky, "If you're not going to give us some snow, I'll just make you give it to us!"
That wasn't him just saying stuff. He could do it, and he would. I just didn't know if he should.
You see, with Nathan, "Professor Nut," he could invent some pretty cool stuff, but not without something going horribly wrong. His last invention, the growth potion... formula... whatever... was what gave us the blue powder that covered our town. And if he decided to create a machine that could make it snow...
Yeah, you can see where this is headed.