Off-Beat
CHAPTER
1
A Smashing Start
I knew it, in my gut, that the Air-Cushion Lift & Thrust Machine would fly. I had pored over the idea night and day. You could say the complex interworkings of the machine hammered at my mind. So I had anxiously revisited my old friends—the blueprints.
With a white pencil in hand, I sketched out different perspectives, cut the design in half to look at it’s inner machinery, labeled different parts and where they had to go. I wasted almost four legal pads, cluttering their pages front and back with calculations. That was one of the hardest parts of the inventing process, actually evening out and shaping your idea. In other words, tranforming it from a pile of jumbled-up thoughts into a real-life, awesome invention!
What did I do next, you may ask? The answer is simple. I went shopping.
Rolling up my blueprints into neat cylinders, I stuffed them in my knapsack and walked out of the old Observatory. It was big and white, capped with blue-and-gold domes. It stood, crumbling, at the edge of a cliff. One side descended into the sea in a sharp slope, while the other lead down a pleasant path into a not-so-pleasant place. I called it my “Shopping Center.” Others called it what it really was intended to be: a dump.
I walked into a grove of amazement, a wonderland of car parts and broken egg beaters and bicycles. It was an inventor’s paradise!
I didn’t find much at first. Lucky for me, sifting through the Shopping Center was something I could definitely brag about. After about half an hour of searching, I came across the perfect piece. It was an engine, probably from a car. But all it needed was a few tweaks and it would be ready for the ACLTM in no time.
I found some other car parts. Doors, roofs, hoods. I could hammer them into shape and repaint them to create the perfect outer shell for my flying machine.
It took six trips to finally haul all the parts I’d scavenged up to the Observatory. I dumped them straight in my living room, whipped out a blueprint, and started to assemble.
The ACLTM was ready for flight. I had pushed the invention out onto the front of the house. My plan was to hop in, start the engine, then shoot down the hill. At the last moment I would pull up, clearing the Shopping Center, then I’d be flying!
I had to steady the vehicle so it wouldn’t tip, then hopped in the hatch on the side. The driver’s seat (another car part) was upholstered in some smooth gray leather that made me want to kick back and relax inside the machine forever, but I couldn’t. There was a task at hand.
I grasped the two spokes of the steering wheel, jabbing the blue THRUST button. It glowed for about three seconds, then stopped.
I was panicked. Had my machin failed? Wait. It started to wobble and shake. I hadn’t predicted this!
All of the sudden, I shot down the hill. I was heading for the Shopping Center, fast. If I didn’t react soon, I’d crash. So I gripped the wheel and pulled it towards me with all my mind. The ACLTM swooped up and into the air.
We were airborne! I looked out of the rectangular windows installed in the side. There was the city beneath me, and the beach, and then the Roadlands. Everything looked so small. It felt amazing, being bigger and higher than everyone else.
I began to hear a sputtering sound just as I cleared the plains. Then the ACLTM jerked downwards, stopped, then dipped again. I attacked the THRUST button. Suddenly, it shot down at a sharp angle. I was going to crash!
The force plastered me to the ceiling of the machine. “This isn’t the kind of thrust I wanted!” I lamented, my face smashed against the wall.
We hit the ground with a teeth-rattling CLA-CLUNK! I sat up in a dazed fashion, rubbing my head. I wasn’t onthe ceiling anymore. So far, so good.
I opened the htach and stepped outside to inspect the damage. I cringed.
The windows were cracked, the back thrusters were smoking and bent out of place, and the top was slightly smushed. It wasn’t completely destroyed, yet it was unlikely to ever fly again.
At least it flew. I thought, sighing.

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Chapter 2

I am Offered Car Tire Advice by A Creature With a Weird Nose

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