This is the second chapter of my upcoming science fiction novel, The Last Disruptor, the story of a boy who tells stories that could doom or save planets.
TEST TUBE DINO
Crate and his friends lined up at the door of Ms. Sweeney’s classroom, ready for the bell to release them to the buses. They were still talking about the experiments they had just conducted.
“Crate. I mean Branden,” Ms. Sweeney said. “Meet your parents at the office. They’ll be taking you home today.”
“My parents are still here?” Crate said.
“Just meet them at the office,” Ms. Sweeney said, laying a gentle hand on his shoulder, as there were a few chuckles from his classmates.
The bell rang and his classmates surged out of the room and into the hall, blending into the river of other students heading for the buses. At the front door, Crate turned left exiting the stream of students heading to the buses.
Crate turned and waved to his closest friend. “Bye, Brooke!” Then he walked into the office. His parents were seated on the bench waiting. His mom looked like she had been crying and his dad’s face seemed like it was a shade paler than the white wall of the office.
Ms. Read was standing next to them.
“He’s here,” she told Crate’s parents.
His mom smiled and stood up and hugged Crate as hard as he could ever remember her hugging him.
“What’s wrong?” Crate asked, trying to not be crushed.
“Nothing. We can explain at home,” his dad said, as his mom sniffed.
“Everything will be fine, Branden,” Ms. Read said levelly. “I’m going to be working with you here at the school.”
His mother finally released Crate who asked, “Oh, what on?”
“We will go over that tomorrow. For now, you must do exactly as your parents tell you tonight. This is very important. You must promise me. Lives may depend on you following these directions.”
“What do you mean?”
“Branden, this is not the time for questions. You must promise.”
“Okay. I guess. But you said lives may…”
“Crate, promise her, now,” Crate’s mom interrupted him.
“Okay. I promise.”
Principal Fuss had come out of his office and was standing behind Ms. Read.
“It’s going to be fine, uh, Branden. You just do what your folks tell you. Everything is going to be fine.”
Crate noticed Principal Fuss’ face did not seem to match his words.
Crate shrugged. It was odd to hear his first name used so often.
“Let’s go,” Crate’s dad said. And the three of them left the office as the staff and Ms. Read watched them go.
Crate heard Ms. Read tell Fuss, “We have some things to prepare before tomorrow. We might as well get them ready now. I will need to speak with Mrs. Sweeney, and I need a list and contact information for his previous teachers.”
Crate and his parents drove the half mile to their home and went inside.
“I have some homework. I’m supposed to find some things that involve chemical reactions in our own house and then write them down.”
“Okay, I’ll help you with that,” his mom said.
They went through the cupboards and cabinets and found some baking soda, vinegar, soap, full-fat milk, flour and yeast and a few other items. He and his mom tested the supplies creating various reactions and he wrote them down and explained what they did.
Afterward, his folks sent him outside to play in the backyard. Crate pried up some rocks looking for bugs, but grew tired of it after a while. Back inside his father was working on some paperwork, going over a spreadsheet, while his mom was making dinner.
His dad stopped work and slid the papers into a folder. “So tell us about your class today, Crate.”
Mom stirred a pot of marinara sauce with meatballs simmering in it. “Yes, what happened in chemistry? How was that?”
“It was good,” Crate said. “Except for what Ryan did.”
“Oh, what did Ryan do?” Mom asked.
“Well, Ms. Sweeney started the lesson off by showing us the right amount of chemicals to use and how to mix them. But Ryan didn’t listen. I could see he was using the wrong amounts, but before I could say anything, there was an explosion and suddenly a dinosaur erupted from a test tube and ran around the room knocking over chairs and tables. Everyone was screaming and running from it. It crashed around until it got into the reading center and tried to eat the big bean bag chair. Stuffing and pellets and cloth flew everywhere and then, the poor dinosaur started choking and it fell over….”
“Okay, that’s enough. Stop, Crate. Stop! Stop, Branden!” Dad commanded.
“But, but why?” Crate asked, confused.
“Because, dear, that didn’t happen. Did it? The dinosaur and all,” Mom said.
“It could have,” Crate said defensively.
“No. It couldn’t have. That’s why we got called into your school, today. Stories like this,” Mom said. “You have to stop telling them, honey. It’s very important. Do you understand?”
“Yes. Well, no,” Crate said. “Why can’t I tell them? I can see them right in my head. I see Mrs. Sweeney going to help the poor dinosaur, but she couldn’t do anything. Then, Dave, the janitor came rushing in after hearing all the commotion and he used his mop handle to dislodge the cloth in the dino’s throat. You know Dave saved a kid from choking once, so he knew how to save the dinosaur…”
“Dangit, Crate! You need to stop!” Dad said again.
“I’m sorry. Sorry,” Crate said.
His mom flipped off a burner on the stove and came over to the kitchen table with Crate and Dad.
She hugged Crate and sat down. “Honey, you need to stop. They’re going to explain more to you about what’s going on tomorrow. But they told us, we need to stop you from telling these stories.” She started to cry, then wiped her tears away.
“Am I… Is there something wrong with me?”
“No. It’s just something you have to learn to stop doing, son,” Dad said.
“But… Mom is crying,” Crate said.
“It’s just that… It’s,..” Mom couldn’t get the words out.
“Son, we don’t want to frighten you. We’re not sure what could happen either, but, they might make you live somewhere else for a while, away from us, if you can’t control this,” Dad explained.
“No! They can’t do that! We can run away. We can go to Alaska or some island, far away. You won’t let them take me?”
“We’re doing all we can, honey,” Mom said. “Don’t worry about it. We won’t let them take you,” Mom said.
“It’s going to be all right, Crate. I mean Branden,” Dad said. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. But I think you need to know the truth. Okay?”
“Okay,” Crate said through tears.
“So no more stories, okay?” Dad asked.
“And we will help you, honey,” Mom said.
They ate dinner, but their conversation, usually so easy, so fun was stilted and awkward, so in the end, they gave up and finished the meal in near silence. They attempted to watch TV as a family, but none of them had any interest in it. Finally, Crate just gave up on the evening. He washed up and then went into his bedroom and climbed into his bed. Both his parents came in and said goodnight to him. After Dad flicked off his light, Crate lay there, his eyes wide open.
Moonlight glowed through the cracks in the blinds and the wind tickled the window panes. He couldn’t sleep. What was going on? Mom and Dad said there wasn’t anything wrong with him, but he sure felt like there was.
He wasn’t sure how he could keep his promise to not tell stories when he wasn’t sure how the stories got in his head in the first place. They just popped in there. He hoped he’d be able to see his friend Brooke tomorrow. She was smart. She could help him.
An hour or two later, he heard Mom’s footsteps approach his door. Crate closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. The door opened and Mom walked up beside him. She bent down and kissed his forehead.
“I love you Crate,” she whispered and left.
Crate fell asleep, finally.