The vehicle that pulled up to the bus stop looked like what would of happened if George Lucas had been told to customize a 1964 dodge van to use as a space ship in Star Wars XXIII "The return of the Grandchildren of the jedi strike back at the empire". JimBob watched as the side door opened with a metallic whine. An electronically amplified voice commanded "Don't just stand there looking like an idiot, hop in and look like an idiot". JimBob laughed and gripping the door frame with both right hands pulled himself into the van.
Once JimBob made himself comfortable, he asked the other kids why they were wearing swimsuits on the way to school. Tina, wrapping her tail around one of his four arms said "Chip decided it would be a nice day to go to the beach, and he's taking us with him".
JimBob looked at Tina, looked at her bikini which probably weighed less than an anorexic humming bird, thought about Ms. Grimhurst recitng Milton in her nasal squeaking voice while the temperature in the non- airconditioned english bulding kept going up and up and up. JimBob then looked at Tina again, wondered if maybe some parts of her body simply ignored gravitational fields and said "OK".
Inside the van JimBob noticed a contraption that looked like a goop gun that's been fed too many steroids, mounted on a tripod with hoses running into a 55 gal drum that says "McDoggies industrial strength milkshake concentrate, toxic waste flavored".
There wee also several things that look like an Uzi with a 1.5 inch bore connected by 2 inch diameter flexible hose to a back-pack like contraption.
In the back corner were several boxes of eggs. This didn't bother JimBob so much, everyone knew that Chip was a little wierd, what bothered JimBob, was the crate with the bio-hazard stickers all over it.
"Hey Chip", JimBob asked, "What's with all this equipment and eggs and stuff?"
Chip just mumbled something about the Western spiral arm science fair.
He then said, quite a bit more clearly, "Don't worry about missing class today, I wrote a program on the school computer that will automatically delete any cuts or unexcused absences entered into it today, so lets party." with a push of a button on the console (it can't really be called merely a dashboard) the vans music system started playing 'Surfin Safari' at about 6 on the Richter scale.
Chip is the school nerd. He's not really all that bad looking but nobody's ever noticed that, least of all him. He is amazingly brilliant and can make almost anything that he puts his mind to, and is always showing up with weird gadgets that do all sorts off strange and wonderful things. Chip desperately wants to be accepted and liked, and he would be, if he wasn't always annoying people by trying so hard to make them like him.
Chip's van started out as a 1964 Dodge camper van that his father (the nuclear physicist and part time mad scientist) bought to take the family camping in. Chip's dad is one of those men that cannot resist a gadget and kept adding things to the van. As a matter of fact neither Chip nor his dad remember what a third of the buttons do. The dashboard was removed many years ago and replaced by a console that would look more at home in a C-5b Galaxy than in a camper van. When Chip turned 16, his father gave him the van as an excuse to buy himself a snazzy new flying saucer. In the family tradition of tinkering, Chip pulled the motor out off the van and replaced it with a flying saucer drive. He has not told anyone about this little modification but has a lot of fun blowing the doors off of guys in their hot rods.
The road to the beach is named some silly thing like "Hwy 17". But no one ever calls it that. Every one calls it "The Hill". And hill it is, 15 mile of twisty windy mountain road that terrifies anyone not used to driving it
That is people would be terrified except that traffic is usually blocked up to a crawl with 153,000 other teanagers all going to the beach at the same time. There are other backroads through the mountains to the beach, but anytime one of the kids from Valley high takes one they end up wandering around the mountains lost for hours.
After they had been slogging through traffic for about 20 minutes, Chip turned the stereo down to merely oppressive. "Remember last weekend when we went to the beach and those beachtown kids waterbombed us from the side of the road? Well I have a confession to make, those things in the back are not for the science fair. I thought that it would be fun to stop by the beachtown high school during their lunch break and give them a little surprise. That big goop gun like object on the tripod is my own invention. I super-hydro-turbo-charged a Mark XVII ACO riot control goop-gun and modified it to work with Milk shakes. The back pack like things are full-automatic egg guns. They fire 5 dozen eggs per minute and hold 10 dozen eggs. That thing hanging from the roof is an egg launcher that I can control from this joystick up here. That way I don't miss out on all of the fun, just because I'm driving. Be careful of that box of eggs on the bottom. They are a little bit rotten, like they were going to be my 6th-grade science project but I built an electron microscope instead."
With that he turned the stereo back up to something between deafening and puree while the rest of the kids looked at each other, looked at the arsenal, looked back at each other and with big grins on their faces started getting ready for battle.
Tires squeeling and engine wailing the van careened into the crowded school parking lot. The stereo was playing Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries at full attack volume. Students screamed, dropped their lunches and fled in all directions. In a giant blue cloud of smoking rubber all four tires of the van locked up as it slid sideways to a stop in front of the senior lawn. The side door flew open as the masked terrorists lept out, aimed their guns at the crowd of students and filled the air with streams of Mc Doggies toxic waste flavored milkshake.
After the initial shock wore off the defenders recognized their numerical superiority. Individually they could not stand up to the torrents of hydrolized death. No individual could hope to survive uscathed those terrifying enfillades of high velocity eggs. The noxious gas from any one of the seven yearold rotten eggs could incapacitate scores of unprotected vicitms. But the defenders out numbered the attackers 2,769 to 6. Not even the turret gun swinging into action from the top of the van could protect the invaders for long. Then from out of nowhere the ACO's appeared on the scene. Goop guns blazing the ACO's waded into battle, brushing students out of the way, like a bull charging through a cornfield.
The invaders, sensing that the tide had turned against them, retreated into the van. Leaving a wake of carnage, desolation and milkshake the van reared up on two wheels and riding a wheelie the length of the parking lot, left the scene of the crime at an acceleration that Big Daddy Don Garlitts would envy.
"Hey Beerf, Didja see the look on that Alien Control Officer's face when you knocked him over with that goop cannon?"
"Yeah, but he wasn't half as surprised as the cheerleader hiding beind him was when he fell over. Chip, that was great! What next?"
"Let's just hit the beach down by the boardwalk."
With an amazing stroke of luck they were able to find a parking place right next to the beach, after driving around for only 20 minutes. Once they were parked, the guys all piled out so the girls could change in the van. After they finished, all of the guys except Beerf started to pile into the van. Pat asked him why he wasn't changing.
"I didn't bring a suit, and Chip's spare is way too small for me."
"Don't worry, I have an idea."
"JimBob" she said, knocking on the van, "don't get dressed yet, let me borrow your suit for a minute."
As he handed her his bathing suit, she asked Chip if he still had that duplicator in the back.
"Sure thing, it's in the second cupboard from the end."
She took the duplicator ray out, aimed it at the bathing suit, and with a Bzzzt and a Ping! there were two idedntical suits sitting on the ground beside the van. After everyone was appropriately dressed, Zweeba grabbed her gravboard to go play on some of the local hills. She would have loved to go surfing, but didn't have her board and she had never found a rental board that she enjoyed riding. Beerf and Tina grabbed towels to go catch some rays and Jimbob wandered over to the rental place next door to rent a surfboard.
When the others had left, Chip turned to Pat and pointed out that the effect of the duplicator ray only lasts 3 hours, at which point "ping!" Beerf's bathing suit would disappear, leaving him au natural.
"Oh that's right, I guess I forgot." she said with an evil grin. "Let's go to the arcade and get in some games on Argon".
JimBob didn't like renting from Mr. Fuji. The man was evil. Rumor had it that for fun he would spray his rental surfboards with shark pheremones just to see the expression on peoples faces when amorous sharks started cuddling with them. But his board was at home, and Mr. Fuji owned the only rental shop within two miles of the beach. It seems that whenever anyone else tried to open another shop to compete with him, mysterious disasters would happen to the other business.
JimBob picked out a nice black and hotpink shortboard with triple fins and Altairan frictionless resin on the bottom and paid Mr. Fuji for 3 hours rental. Mr. Fuji set the duplicator for 3 hours and gave JimBob the duplicate board. "Remember, three hours and the board is gone. And watch out for sharks," he said with a grin,"I hear that this is their mating season."
Next to the beach is the Boardwalk. It is a dilapidated amusement park which employs every local teenager that doesn't work at Mc-Doggies or Frog in the Box. The kids that work there consider it their god-given duty to make life as miserable as possible for tourist kids. They hold contests among themselves to see how many tourists they can make throw up on the rides. Extra points are awarded if other tourists get hit in the process.
The rides at the Boardwalk have improved considerably since the influx of alien technology. Otherwise why would the kids want to go there in the first place? (If you answered to meet Members of the Opposite Sex give yourself a prize). For example, the roller coaster no longer needs tracks, and takes a different route each time.
The food at the Boardwalk is even worse than at Mc-Doggies, worse even than at Taco Hell. Rumor has it that it is made out of leftovers from the school cafeteria. Remember, the locals want to get the tourists money, not make them happy. Any one eating food at the boardwalk runs the risk of feeling seriously naseaus. Going on a ride immediately after eating is just asking for the opportunity to blow chow. Of course, one of the favorite sports of kids from Valley High is to go to the boardwalk and see who can eat the most hot dogs, and ride the grav-coaster without spewing chunks. Another favorite sport is to simply eat these hot dogs until you get sick, then judge each other on range, splatter pattern, style and general artistic performance.
Of course the Boardwalk has all of those little game booths with the revoltingly cute stuffed animals. Sweet young things will always want their boyfriends, or the guy trying to impress them, to win them one, or two, or three... until the poor guy doesn't have enough money for gas to get home. As a matter of fact local girls have contests to see how many stuffed animals they can sucker tourist boys out of. They sell them back to the Boardwalk at the end of the day. A particularly skillful operator can make twice as much doing this as she would working at a fast food joint.
But, the real place to hang out at the Boardwalk is at the arcade. The arcade was the grand ballroom when the boardwalk was built 86 years ago. When pinball became more popular than dancing, someone came up with the idea of converting the ballroom into an arcade. The thing that makes the boardwalk arcade different from all other arcades is that they never throw old games away. This means that you can find at least one of every pinball machine or video game ever made. Of course after about forty years of collecting games, the arcade has gotten rather crowded, with narrow circuitous paths winding around and through the games. To make matters more interesting the original 50' tall room was made into three levels more or less. Possibly as many as six levels in some sections that resemble library stacks crossed with CIC from the NORAD. There is always a chance that someone going into the arcade will get hopelessly lost taking hours or even days to find his way out.
Chip and Pat were in no danger of getting lost however, they knew the arcade as well as the back of the mother board of his home computer. That is to say, even better than the back of either of their hands. Their goal was an experimental version of a game called the Eye of Argon. A local video game company had play tested it at the arcade, but it was so tough that after a few tries most people gave up and quit trying. The company rewrote the software making it about five times as easy before the regular release. Somhow this one copy of the original game had been left intact. Legend has it that the people sent to pick it up became hopelessly lost in the arcade, when they were rescued two days later, having had nothing to eat or drink except Megavolt Cola from the intermittent vending machine, that they refused to even attempt to find it again. This one version was so tough in fact, that in the four years that it had been in the arcade, only ten free games had been won off of it. Chip had won three of them, and Pat two.
When they got to the eye of Argon, there was already someone playing it. He was a serious, world class nerd. He didn't look like his mother dressed him. He looked like his mothers friends each went out and bought him a different item of clothing, without consulting each other, or asking what size he wore. His pants were turquiose polyester slacks, three sizes too big in the waist, held up by a red leather belt. Even so, the pants legs were short enough that a couple of inches of bare leg showed between the cuffs and the mismatched socks. The shirt was sort of an off vomit orange, with short sleeves and one side of it untucked in the front. His hair looked like it had been cut by someone with a bowl and a bad hangover. On his belt hung a calculator. In short, Chip and Pat instantly recognized a kindred spirit.
He was pretty good at playing 'Argon'. He was on the tenth level, only two below the best that Chip had ever done. As they watched, Chip said "See, he just made the same mistake that I used to. He went for the power potion in the Balrog's treasure chest. It makes it easier to slay the six orc's that are hiding in the next room, but it attracts the wraith that you can't kill without the magic sword from the troll two rooms down."
The guy playing turned around and shot Chip a nasty look then went back to playing the game. Sure enough, as soon as he had killed the last orc, the wraith appeared. Chip was impressed, after a long fight, the guy managed to kill the wraith by following a stun spell with three fireballs in rapid succesion. But he had taken so much damage from the wraith that the Troll in the next room killed him.
"Good game", Chip said, "I've never seen anyone kill the wraith without the magic sword before. My name's Chip, this is Pat, who're you?"
With an air of arrogance acheivable only by the testosterone overload of puberty "I'm Phred", he replied, obviously expecting it to mean something. "You think you're pretty good at this game?"
As a matter of fact Chip KNEW he was pretty good at this game. More often than not he held high score on it. The only other person that even came close was some guy who just signed his score with a 'P'. "I've played it a time or two".
"Then maybe you'd care to make a wager? Beat my score and I buy you lunch, Don't beat it and I buy you lunch. Two hotdogs, fries and Megavolt Cola".
Chip looked at the score on the screen. 1,385,257 was a good but not a great score. "That's a decent score, and I haven't played for a couple of weeks, give me two tries and you're on".
Phred thought it over a second and held out his hand to shake on it.
Chip walked up, put a quarter into the machine, chose his spells and started playing. He wasn't trying for high score, he was just warming up. He spent much longer on the lower levels than he should have, which used up time and spell energy. On the other hand the easier monsters gave him more chances to get back into the rhythm of the game. Even so, when he got killed on the eighth level, he had managed to rack up a score of 754,395. When he first started playing the game a year ago, that would have earned him a top score on the machine that would have lasted for three months.
"Not bad" Phred commented, a little bit impressed despite himself. "But why did you stay on the lower levels so long? You get more points going to the higher levels sooner."
"This was just a warm up game" Chip replied, matching Phred's earlier arogance drop for drop.
On his second game, Chip had managed to beat Phred's score, before he even got to the room with the Balrog. He then killed the orcs and the troll. With the magic sword in hand, he went back and drank the Power Potion. Going to a room with only one doorway he waited for the wraith to arrive. He didn't have long to wait, but with the power potion and the magic sword he was able to easily kill the wraith.
On the twelfth level he was finally killed by a pair of electrum dragons, but not before he had managed to rack up 2,012,829 points. Good enough for a new high game on the machine. When he signed his game "SI" he heard Phred say.
"Oh, Silicon...Chip. I get it. You are pretty good, you're the only person to ever beat my scores".
"But your name is Fred. Why your sign scores with a P?"
"Not F-R-E-D, P-H-R-E-D. I'm starving, let's go graze."
Their conversation at lunch was enough to bore any normal human being into a coma. However, none of them were normal. All three were extremely bright young people who knew everything there was to know about any subject that you would care to name. Or so they thought. They were also trying very hard to establish dominance by out impressing the others with their technical knowledge. If by some remote chance, they didn't have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject, they faked it. This happened more than any of them would admit, or even realized. When they were done eating, Chip wanted to check in at the van to make sure that things were still copacetic with the crew. Phred tagged along to continue the discussion.
On their way back to the van they saw Beerf standing in line for an Ice Cream cone. As they walked past, Pat looked at her watch and said, wait a minute, this should be fun. Sure enough, 37.385 seconds later "ping!" Beerf's duplicated bathing suit disappeared. For all they could tell, he didn't even notice. The people around him obviously did, but no one really seemed to want to be the one to bring it to the attention of the 6 foot 8inch tall 340 pound adolescent alien.
"Is that YOUR van?" Phred asked.
"Yeah, Dad gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday to have an excuse to buy himself a flying saucer. Of course I added some features to it after he gave it to me".
"I saw your raid this afternoon. Pretty awesome firepower. How'd you get that much range with the goop guns?"
"I had to use a three stage pump to build up enough delta-P in the shake without cavitating. I use two High volume medium pressure pumps at the tank, and have a higher pressure lower voulume pump at each barrel. At first I tried doing all three stages right at the tank, but I kept blowing seals."
As they walked up they saw JimBob lean his rented surfboard against the van and start walking to the snack shack. They met him halfway there. "Hey JimBob, how's the surf today?"
"It's pretty good, but my time is almost up on the surfboard. I don't want to have it disappear on me like one did last year. Darn near drowned, I was shooting this gnarly tube and Ping! all of a sudden I was trying to surf on my bare feet. It didn't work too good. I'm going to grab a bite, you want anything?"
"No thanks. We just ate. Oh, JimBob, I'd like you to meet Phred. I met him down at the arcade. He and I have been swapping top scores in Eye of Argon for months."
"Hi Fred, pleased to meetcha. Pardon me, but I'm starving, if I were any hungrier I could eat one of Beerfs sandwiches."
Phred turned to Chip "One of Beerf's sandwiches? Are they that bad? Or just that Big?"
"Both." Pat said, "One of his favorites is a triple decker Corned Beef and Peanut Butter on whole wheat."
Phred shuddered. "Ick. C'mon Chip, show me this machine of yours. I'm curious to see how you wired up the external speakers".
When they walked up to the van, Chip pulled a remote control out of his pocket pointed it at the van and keyed in a sequence of numbers. As the door opened he commented to Phred, "I got tired of always trying to find my keys. I wired all of the locks up as combination locks, then hooked in the remote control. I can do everything but drive the van with this".
Phred looked at Chip and raised one eyebrow, ala Spock.
"Well, I can drive with this, but it's pretty ackward without a joystick. I have a bigger remote control that has the joystick, but it's a pain to carry around".
They piled into the van and Chip hit a couple of keys on the console on the ceiling between the front seats. The door closed and several lights lit up on the dashboard. A few seconds later the stereo started playing Red Artichoke's "Surfing Tsunami" at oppressive levels. Chip pointed his remote control at the console and throttled the stereo back to impulse power so that they could talk.
While they were inside discussing the inner workings of the van, Tina walked up and seeing the unattended surfboard decided to catch a couple of waves. Shortly thereafter, the trio stepped out so that Chip could demo the sound system to Phred. "Rather than conventional speakers, I built a couple of small forcefield generators. I cross connected the pre-amp output into the field strength control. The frequency response wasn't too good until I decreased the size of each field to about one half meter in diameter. Those two antenae in the middle are the field generators. It's a bit of a power hog, but it's weather proof, and now that I solved the frequency response problem, pretty much distortion free".
While the three of them were walking a safe distance away from the van to demo the sound system, Pat looked out at the ocean.
"Is that Tina surfing out there?"
"Yeah, I think so".
"Do you think she took JimBob's board? It's not here, and it's supposed to phase out in a few minutes".
"I dunno, I guess we'll find out in a couple of minutes".
"Hey! You! With the van!"
Chip looked up to see this skinny kid with an extreme tan and hair sunbleached almost white walking up to him with a surfboard under his arm.
"That's Rip", Phred said quietly to Chip and Pat, "major surf bum. Wouldn't know an underdamped oscillation from a second harmonic, but he can pick out a killer wave practically by ESP".
"Yeah watcha want?"
"I want your liver man! When you guys Ratfinked our school at lunch today you got that goop all over my surfboard. on the roof of my car. It took me over an hour to clean that stuff off".
"Maybe you should have thought of that when you guys nailed us last week. Turnabout's fair play you know".
"This is our town, you geeks come over and clog up the roads so bad it takes me half an hour to get to the beach, I could walk quicker".
Just as Chip was about to explain to Rip about the ecological benefits of such behaviour, the Surfboard disappeared on Tina. Or more accurately, it disappeared from between her and the rather large wave she was riding. She wouldn't have been so bad off, if she had just dove into the water. However, what she did do was scream loud enough for them to hear her all the way back at the van. Until her face met the surf, and the surf won. It was immediately obvious that she had eaten it big time. Rip ran to the water and dove in. Swimming like someone who spends more time in the ocean than on land, which he practically did, he grabbed Tina who was flaiinging around bigtime and brought her back to shore where Pat, Phred and Chip were waiting.
"You all right Tina?" Pat asked.
Tina, on her hands and knees, coughed and wheezed a bit then nodded her head. After catching her breath, Tina stood up. Since Rip was pretty well out of breath by the time he had dragged Tina to shore, this was the first time that he had really looked at her. When he did, it was like someone had just dropped a ton of bricks on him. She was gorgeous. To say that he was smitten would be like saying that Marc Antony kind of liked Cleopatra.
"Tina, this is Rip". Pat introduced them.
"Hi, thanks for saving me", she said with a big smile and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Uh..., sure, any time". Rip finally managed to get out.
Looking up, Tina saw a couple of guys standing around Chips van. One of them was pulling a can of spraypaint out of his backpack. "Chip, what are those guys doing to your van?"
Chip whirled around, took stock of the situation, aimed the remote control at the van, hit three keys and the red button. The van exploded in sound. The entire power output of the flying saucer drive was chanelled into the sound system. Uncountable kilowatts of the opening lines to Bach's tocatta and fugue in D-minor erupted forth.
"DAH du du du DUUUUHHHHH!"
A hundred yards away, with waves lapping at their feet, the sound drowned out the surf. Two surfers were so startled at hearing something besided the roar of the surf that they fell off their surfboards. The young miscreants were literally flung back by the force of the wall of sound that assaulted them. Umbrellas twenty yards away were blown over.
Chip pressed the yellow button and the music stopped.
"Cool!" Rip exclaimed. "You got any Zeppelin for that thing?"
Chip looked at him in peevish disbelief, "All of it", he said, disdain dripping from his voice.
Rip, Tina, Chip, Phred and Pat started walking back to the van to confront the frustrated graffiti artists. The one with the spray paint was just picking himself up when they arrived. The other two were still standing, but shaking their heads looking rather dazed and confused. Once he stood up, he managed to focus his eyes enough to recognize his school mates. "Hi Rip, Hi Brains. You know these guys? They're the ones that gooped the school during lunch".
"And what of it?", Phred replied, "most of the people they nailed were either the stuck up social crowd, teachers or the Alien Control Officers. Did you see Mr. Vergasser's expression when the big goop gun knocked the toupe right off his head?"
"Besides Alex", Rip continued, "did you hear that sound system? Do you want to fight with these guys or party with them?"
Alex just looked at his feet as if he were seriously considering the merits of both sides of the question.
"Speaking of parties", one of his cohorts chimed in from the back, "did you hear that both the Plaidmatics AND Jimmy Ganja are going to be at the beach house tonight?"
All of the kids from Valley high had heard the pipe organ riff, and recognized the sound system from Chips van. There were very few sound systems that could play music that loud, and they only knew of one that would play classical music that loud. They all had the sneaking suspiscion that someone was in trouble, either Chip, or more likely someone who had been messing with him. Either way, they wanted to either see what was going on, or if need be, help out Chip and had all arrived during the conversation.
"What's this about a party"? asked Zweeba.
"Up the coast a couple of miles there's this beach house, it belongs to the drummer for Jimmy Ganja and the Rocker patrol. There's been a party going on there since, since my dad was in high school".
"You mean there have been parties there since your dad was in high school"?
"Nope, there have been parties there since Grampa went to high school, This particular party has been going on for thirty years. The house has been sold three times since then. Rumor has it that one of the owners never even spent a night there. He bought it as an investment. A couple years later Jimmy's band made it big and their drummer bought the place."
"Well Chip, you're our ride. Can we stay?"
"Fine by me. My folks are on vacation, I'm on my own for the next two weeks. But what about you guys? Won't your parents freak if you don't come home from school till next week sometime?"
"Let me handle that", Pat said, "You still have that telescope in the van don't you?"
"Which one? The three inch refractor or the nine inch reflector? Never mind, I think I have both of them, why?"
"So I don't have to stretch the truth too much. Hand me the phone."
Chip typed a code into his remote control, hit the yellow button twice then the red button. Handing her the remote he said, "dial the number, when you want to hang up, press the red button".
Pat dialed the phone. "Hi Mom. Yeah, I'm at the beach with Chip. Yes Mom, the nice one. Yes Mom, the one that get's straight A's. Any ways, he's got his telescopes with him, and we were going to check out some stars tonight, is it okay if I stay out late. If we're out too late we'll probalby just stay at Chip's so that we don't wake people coming home. Geez Mom, you know what a nerd Chip is, what sort of trouble would we get into with him?" Chip looked upset at that but Pat put her finger to her lips and shook her head to keep him quiet. "Thanks Mom. Could you do me a favor and call the parents of some friends? If there is a problem they can reach us on Chips van phone. Yes, the number is on the list on the fridge. Okay, the people whose folks I need you to call are JimBob, Tina, Zweeba and Beerf. Yeah their numbers are on the fridge too. Thanks a bunch Mom. Love ya".
When she hung up the phone, Chip said "We can't do any astronomy tonight. The fog rolls in just before sunset, We won't be able to see anything from here, we'd have to go up into the hills".
"Dummy, I didn't say we were going to do any astronomy. I said you have your telescopes. Right?"
"Then I said we were going to check out some stars. Jimmy Ganja and the rocker patrol are rock stars aren't they? With my mom calling the other kids parents, there should be no problem. That's the advantage you and I have. Since everyone thinks that we're nerds, no one expects us to get into any trouble".
While Chip was mulling over what Pat had said and done, Rip exclaimed "Cool, We'll see you at the party tonight. Go about one half mile north of town, just past steamroller lane, and turn left on Swanton Road. The house is at the end of the road. You won't be able to park very close to it, just do the best you can." Rip wandered offwith his friends following.
Phred said "I've got to bug out too. Mom's expecting me home for dinner. I'll see you guys at the party".
Chip was about to ask if anyone had any ideas for dinner when he heard Tina chastising Beerf, "I don't care what they do on your home planet. On Earth, you have to wear clothes!"
Chip looked at Pat. Pat looked at Chip. They both managed to get several yards away from everyone else before they broke into laughter.
"But Mr. Mayor, surely you can see what a benificial effect a convention center would have for the economy of this town. Besides, it is well known that this house habitually throws parties where alchohol is served to minors. You can't let such behaviour continue, the place should be condemned for the sake of public safety".
"I can easily see the benificial effect a convention center would have for the economy of Forethought Developement. About the other allegations, as I recall, just last week the police chief pulled a surprise raid and everyone there was of legal drinking age".
"He pulled that so called raid on a wednesday, otherwise known around the beach as 'Old Farts night', the kids stay away because they don't want to run into their parents. Think about your kids, how can you condone their drinking like this?"
"Ms. Forethought, Melissa, I grew up in this town. As a matter of fact, I was at that party the night that it started. That was what originally qualified someone to show up on old farts night when the tradition got started. I may be getting close to my fiftieth birthday, but I'm not too old to realize that there are certain things that kids are going to do. Before the party started, each week we had to find someplace to go. We'd usually end up someplace up in the mountains, and I'm not too proud of it, but half the time we'd end up driving drunk back down those mountain roads. One night, three of my best friends were killed when their car went off a cliff. The way they do it now, the kids don't have to drive home, they can walk, or stay at the party. If an emergency comes up, we know where to find them. We have an understanding with Jimmy and the Patrol, as long as things don't get too out of hand, we don't bust the party. Besides it's out by the ocean where the surf drowns out most of the sound and keeps it from bothering other people. A lot of the parents don't really like what happens at the partyhouse, but we know it's going to happen someplace, and we'd rather it happens where we can keep an eye on things. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a few things I need to finish up before I can go home for dinner."
"So you won't close the place down", she said as she stood up.
"I'm afraid I can't do that. Besides, without Old Man Roberts' property, the place isn't big enough for a convention center, and I don't think that he'd be too likely to sell the place so you can build your hotel".
"I have my ways".
"I'm sure you do" he said as the door closed behind her. "I'm sure you do".
Melissa got into her Coupe deVille, picked up the phone and dialed the office.
"Good evening, Forethought construction, Jim speaking".
"Hello James, this is Forethought".
"Hello maam, how did the negotiations go?"
"They didn't. That blasted sorry excuse for a musician refuses to sell. Any time I started pushing, he just babbled about promises and his duty to Ja and the kids. And the mayor refused to condemn the place. If I have to buy the next elelction, it's going to put a serious crimp in my profit margin."
"So I should continue with the plans?"
"Try not to hurt anyone, and make damn sure that the fire seems like an accident. If that doesn't work, we'll have to bring in the bulldozers tomorrow when everyone is at that silly surfing contest."
"What about the other property?"
"I've got a date with the old geezer tonight. I think that he'll be ready to sign the papers on monday. Boy will I be glad when this is over and I'll be able to go out with someone who owns a tie, much less socks and a shirt with buttons."
This party is the most amazing full blown berserk party known to teenager-dom. It has been going on continiously for thirty years. As the kids from Valley high got closer to the party they noticed that the cars around the beach-house were getting older and older. This is because over the years people forget their cars, their cars broke down or their car got blocked in by someone else. Often the cost of hiring a towtruck to move the other cars out of the way was more than the value of the car so they just abandoned it. To get to the party the kids had trace their way through a maze of abandoned and derelict cars that would put Smilin Jim's Honest U-pull-it Automotive Recycling Center to shame. Over the years, most of these cars had been converted into homes by the perpetual party-goers. However, on any given night one can usually find a place to sleep in one of them.
If this partying life sounds a trifle expensive, you're wrong, it's very expensive. Someone has to buy the pizza and beer.
When the kids from Valley High made it to the door, there was a pizza delivery boy on the front steps holding about a dozen pizzas. Someone just inside the door was shouting "Pizza Call, we need money. C'mon people pay up". Seeing the new arrivals he asked "Hi, I'm Billy. you guys got any money to help pay for the Pizza?". Tina, who was wearing shorts and a shirt that managed to cover little more than her swimsuit, and left even less to the imagination seemed to pull six dollars and a credit card from hyperspace. "All I've got is a couple of bucks."
Billy did a quick double take, he was sure that there was no place on her person that something as bulky as a dime, much less a Bank-altair-a-card could have hidden. Quickly regaining his composure he snapped the card from her hands saying "This'll work."
As soon as The Delivery boy had rung the card up Billy grabbed the receipt and a pen from him and handed them to Tina. Before she could regain her composure he told her to sign the receipt, while he held one of the Pizza Boxes as a desk. He returned her dad's credit card to her, took the stack of pizzas and disappeared into the house.
The Valley high kids followed him in. By the time that they got across the room, there were two peices of pizza left, both anchovy and bell pepper.
"Hey Dudes! Glad you could make it!"
"Hi Rip", Chip looked around, "wild party."
"Yeah, it's a bit bigger than usual this week. Must be the surfing contest tomorrow."
This caught JimBob and Zweeba's attention. "Surfing contest?" they asked in unison.
"Yeah, the Mayday Freestyle".
"But May Day was weeks ago".
"I said the contest was a freestyle didn't I? The surfing is too, by the way. The Kid started the contest forty years ago when he got kicked out of the O'Bob classic for breaking some silly rule or ten. He decided that what was needed was a surfing contest with fewer rules, preferably none. He got a bunch of his friends to be judges, best ride of the day wins. The closest thing to a rule is the suggestion to "be Cool". It's considered uncool to take good waves away from people who are likely to win if you don't have a chance. Other than that, just be polite to the other surfers. When you're done for the day, come in to the beach and party. By the time the Kid stopped running the Freestyle each year, it had become a local tradition. Half the town shows up to party on the beach, whether they are surfing or not".
"But how do you know if you have a chance to win?"
"There's a big board set up on the beach with the scores of each ride. If you are only surfing sevens that day and the leaders are surfing nines, then you know it's time to start partying".
"That sounds like a blast" JimBob said. "What's it cost to enter?"
"That would be a rule, now wouldn't it? They ask people to chip in a couple of bucks or bring stuff for the party. You do kind of have to tell them that you're competing so they know who to give points to."
Zweeba looked like she were trying to figure something out. "What time does it start? I didn't know we'd be coming to the beach today, Chip kind of kidnapped us, and my board's at home."
"It starts at nine, but there won't be any good waves till about noon tomorrow. If you could get here and register by eleven, you probably won't miss too many good waves."
Zweeba turned to talk to Chip, but he had disappeared. Beerf was over by the Pizza, one of each of the remaining slices in each hand. Tina was still behind them, but Chip and Pat had disappeared. "Tina, did you see what happened to Chip?"
"Yeah, he and Pat saw Phred in the next room. They went thataway, talking about lasers or something."
"Thanks Tina, Pardon us Rip, we've got to talk to Chip about getting a ride back over here tomorrow morning."
"Cool, no problemo. If I don't see you later tonight, I'll see you out on the waves tomorrow".
With Zweeba and JimBob gone, that just left Rip and Tina. Man! Was she ever gorgeous. "Uh, wanna dance?"
Tina looked around, thought for a second and said "Sure, I'd love to."
"This is what life is all about" thought Rip as he and Tina slow danced to the Rasta beat of Jimmy Ganja and the Rocker patrol. Rip started to notice that maybe something was wrong when the third body went flying over his and Tina's heads. Rip looked around and saw that a fight had broken out. The fight didn't seem to faze the band much and as long as they were playing he was quite happy to dance with Tina. Her lithe body in his arms, their tails intertwined. "You know", said Tina, "I think I really like you. But, I don't think that Beerf does".
"That's him over there, the tall one, he's my boyfriend."
Rip looked in the direction that she was pointing and realized that what he had seen earlier was not a sofa that had been turned up on its end, but a person. Someone that Rip could look squarely in the chest. Beerf's chest was not as wide across as he was tall, however it might have been as wide as Rip was tall, and he didn't look too happy. Even worse, he was headed directly towards Rip and Tina, he was moving quickly, didn't look happy and was making a lot of upleasant noise.
Just then the song ended. Deciding that fresh air would definately be healthier for him, especially right now, Rip thanked Tina for the dance and made his way to the deck in the back yard. Everyone was watching someone gravboarding on the roof.
What Rip didn't see when he went outside was Beerf rush past Tina, to the sliding glass door, where the the drapes had somehow caught on fire. In an uncommon burst of intelligence, Beerf realized that screaming fire in the crowded party would cause more damage than the fire was likely to. Rushing over to the drapes he poured his beer onto the fire. Unfortunately there was not enough beer in the plastic cup to put out all of the fire. Fortunately there was enough beer in his bladder to do the job. Somehow, people who were too oblivious to notice buring drapes less than an arm lengths away, were not too oblivious to notice a 340 pound alien teenager drop trou and start relieving himself on the drapes. Fortunately, at this time they also noticed why he was engaging in such unconventional behaviour. Someone decided to lend assistance, on the offchance that Beerfs bladder by itself was not sufficient to the task. Another joined in, and another after that. The flames were doused in pretty short order. Unfortunately the volunteer fire departments enthusiasm did not dampen as readily as the drapes.
A while later, someone took down the odious drapes and dragged them outside. He then brought the garden hose in to wash out the puddle. Of course someone accidentally got hit with the stream of water in the process. They retaliated by getting a pot of water from the sink and pouring it over the head of the would be santation engineer. Turning around in shock, he accidentally hosed down about a dozen innocent bystanders, who retailiated with beer, potato Chips and pretzels. The guy with the hose took a defensive position in the corner of the room when all of a sudden his water pressure died. "All right", a voice bellowed, "Enoughs Enough. Now everybody grab towels and mops and clean this mess up".
Rip didn't recognize the boarder on the roof at first. For some odd reason, the outside light were aimed at the deck where he was, not at the roof. Whoever it was, was pretty good. Rip was impressed at how smoothly she handled the valley where the two slopes came together. Those sharp angles were really tough to deal with on a gravboard, most roof boarders just kept to the large flat areas because it was real easy to get the board caught in the valley. Falling off your board was no fun when it also meant falling off the roof. Stepping out of the direct light Rip was able to see her well enough to recognize her, she was Zweeba, one of the kids from Valley high. She must have found her buddies and arranged a ride to the contest tomorrow. Just then she shot up the valley, launcing herself straight up in the air at the peak of the roof. At the top of her trajectory she pulled an Immelman, came straight back down the roof valley, and at the edge of the roof did a forward sommersault back to upright, letting the grav plates in her board cushion the fall. Rip was impressed, this girl could board. If she were half as good surfing waves as she was gravity he definately was going to have some competition from her tomorrow.
Rip wandered over to say hi and complement her on her style. On the way he noticed that she was not bad looking. As a matter of fact she was pretty darn good looking.
"Hey Rip!", Alex said tapping him on the shoulder, "a bunch of us are going moonlight mattress surfing, wanna join us?"
"Sure, I've got Dibbs on the big blue one. I've got someone I want to ask".
"OK, I'll save it for you, see you down at the beach".
Rip waited until Zweeba was done talking to the kid in the Red Artichoke T-shirt. Mustering his best smile, "Hi" he said.
"Oh hi", she replied. "Whatsa matter, Tina turn you down so you decided to hit on someone else?"
"Nah, I just thought you might want to go mattress surfing with me".
Zweeba looked at him in shock and disgust. Whap! She slapped him hard enough that people fifteen feet way turned around to see what the sound was.
When he recovered, he tried to explain that mattress surfing involved air mattresses and the ocean, not mattresses in the bedroom, but by then she was already lost in the crowd back in the house.
"Girls", he said. "Can't live with them, and can't hold their heads under water".
The white Cadillac pulled up the gravel road and stopped in front of the little shack. "Thanks for the ride", Roberts said, "wanna come in for a beer? I got some ice this afternoon, so the beer's even cold."
"Thanks Cyril, I'd love to come in, but I have to get up early in the morning for a meeting, and you know I just can't sleep well here. But once you sell me the property so I can build a real beach house for us, then we'll be able to spend every night together".
Roberts looked disappointed, but he leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek before getting out of the car. As she drove off, Melissa thought, "He's awfully sweet, too bad he's such a loser. He's pretty cute too for someone his age. Heck, he's pretty cute for someone my age. If I have to step up my persuasion, it might not be so bad after all".
After peering intently at the firing mechanism for a couple of minutes Phred commented, "Wow that roof mounted egg cannon is really cool. What sort of range does it have?"
"300 meters. If we try to fire any further than that, most of the eggs break before they even leave the barrel. I'm working on a long range version with a heated barrel that I call the omelette gun".
"What sort of accuracy does it have?"
"This'll fire a four inch group at 100 meters, but I can't aim it that accurately with the joystick".
"Why not use your light show laser for laser sighting?"
"I tried that, but the TV camera's don't have enough resoulution. It takes too long to process the signal through the On Board Computer to bring the accuracy up enough to make it worthwhile".
"Have you tried processing the signal using Fleischman's algorithm?"
"Never heard of it".
Phred explained the algorithm to Chip and Pat. They gave each other the look which meant that they were about to do something that maybe they really shouldn't. He said "Shall we?" simultaneously with her saying "let's do it".
"Phred, why don't you give Pat a hand with the software, I have some modifications that I need to do to the servos and the wiring". Within five minutes Phred and Pat were up to their elbows in software while Chip was up to his armpits in wiring. Sometime around midnight the kids from Valley high started to wander out to the van to see when Chip wanted to leave. Chip told each of them that he would be done in a few minutes. Each of them looked at the mess of wiring and servos scattered all around the van and either grabbed a blanket and went in search of an empty car to sleep in, or went back into the party to carouse till dawn.
It was getting late. Zweeba thought about going into the house, to kill some time. JimBob had disappeared with that cute girl with the red hair hours ago. Tina and Beerf were crashed out in that old Plymouth station wagon. The nerds seemed happy as clams tearing apart Chip's van. She hoped that they would get it back together in time for her to get her board for the contest tomorrow. Considering the state of the mess, she didn't think that it was too likely. There was a poker game going on in the back bedroom, maybe she could kill some time there, and win a couple bucks in the bargain. It wasn't fair, everyone had someone, except her. Rip was kind of cute. But he was only interested in her because Tina was already taken. She wasn't about to be anybody's second choice. She hated the way Tina had all of the boys throwing themselves at her feet. It just wasn't fair. Tina didn't have two brain cells on speaking terms with one another, but all she had to do was bat her eyelashes and swish her tail and another guy would fall for her.
Zweeba was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn't even see Rip, until she walked right into him. She started to apologize, and then realized who it was. "Why don't you watch where you're going?" she snapped.
Rip was very puzzled by her reaction. "When I'm standing still?", he asked. "Look, it's getting late. I'm heading off to bed". Rip realized what he said, jumped back and put his hands up to block in case she took another swing at him. "That wasn't an invitation... not that I don't... Oh nevermind, I just wanted to say goodbye. I'll see you tomorrow at the Freestyle, OK?"
Zweeba just looked at him like she wished that he'd crawl back under the rock he crawled out from. That girl was sure cute, and boy could she ride a gravboard, but boy was she wierd. He tried to be nice to her and all she did was glare at him, and slap him upside the head.
The modifications to the egg cannon were almost done at four when Pat figured out a way to use the laser for ranging and vary the inclination and launch pressure accordingly. Of course this meant a couple hours more work. They would have to key in wind speed and direction, and the impact velocity of the egg from the computer terminal. Then all they had to do was shine the laser dot on what they wanted to hit. Everything was finally back together just before the sun poked above the mountains. They ended up spending an hour taking turns trying to land an egg on the backs of seagulls in flight without breaking the egg, then shooting the egg when it fell off. Pat was the undisputed best shot.
About seven thirty they decided to catch a few hours of sleep. They moved things around to make room for them to sleep and threw a couple blankets over all of them. As she was dozing off, Pat thought smuggly to herself "How many of those cheerleaders at the party got to go to sleep cuddled up between TWO cute guys?"
Walking to the beach for the surfing contest, Rip was noticing what a beautifull day it was going to be when he saw Zweeba sitting on a bench overlooking the cliffs by the beach. "Hey Zweeba, why so glum? I haven't beaten you yet, that won't be official till this afternoon".
"No board. Chip tore his van apart last night, something about improving targeting or something. He didn't get it back together till dawn, and was too tired to drive home".
"Bummer deal. What sort of board do you usually ride?"
"An O'Bob Shredder 72, twin tail".
"Hey, that's the same as my old board. Grandma got me their new thresher for my birthday, but I keep the old one around for a spare. You can borrow it if you'd like".
"You won't mind getting beaten by someone on your own board?"
"That's the spirit. C'mon, I only live a couple blocks from here. Besides I'm not worried. Hell, I'll even bet you dinner, if you win I'll buy you dinner. If I win, you buy me".
"What if neither of us wins?"
Rip smiled and shrugged his shoulders, "I guess we go hungry tonight".
The Freestyle was a local contest. There was no prize money, there weren't even any trophies. People who surfed the circuit, who regularly competed in 'real' tournaments, didn't show up for it. It was a day for the little guy, who wasn't good enough for the big contests, yet. It was also a day for the soul surfer, who chose to surf for himself rather than to please the judges.
Just as the surfers were a different breed, so were the judges. They didn't judge by the same criteria as the judges on the circuit. Someone who did a simple maneuver well would get more points than someone who did a technical one competently. One year a big name surfer decided that it would be fun to show the locals "how it's done" and did an absolutely ripping ride. A ride that would have scored big in any professional tournament. Figuring that ride had just won him the contest he came in to find that it had only scored a seven. Stunned and flabbergasted he stormed up to The Kid, who was one of the judges that day. "Are you blind?" He asked. "That ride was perfect. How could you only give me a seven?".
"No soul", The Kid said, "your technique was flawless, but you weren't having fun out there".
The pro started to argue with The Kid, but then he understood what The Kid had said. Silently, the pro walked away. A few minutes later he returned, "Thank you" he said, and gave The Kid a beer.
It was a perfect day for surfing. The weather was warm but not too hot, good clean swells and just the right breeze. The waves even seemed to match the tempo of the day. They started as threes, clean, and easy to read. Even the beginners were getting good rides. People felt good about themselves when they dropped out. They got in good rides, if someone ripped more than them, it wasn't because they got a better wave. As the day wore on, and people dropped out the waves became bigger, tougher, more technical.
Noon came and went. Most everyone had come in for lunch, but Rip and Zweeba stayed out. They didn't have to see their scores to know that this day would belong to one of them. Neither one wanted to show weakness and be the first to break for lunch. Eventually they realized that they were the only two still surfing. Now it was impossible for them to quit. It would have been an admission of defeat.
Like two knights on the field of honor they fought their duel. They never spoke the rules, but they understood them. One would surf and the next had to do better. Each surpassed the other, as well as themselves. Neither had ever surfed that well before. Once or twice they each wondered if they ever would again. But there is only so much that the human body can endure. For a certain amount of exercise, it requires a certain amount of food, of water, of rest.
Rip knew that his body had reached it's limit. By the look of Zweeba, she wasn't any better off. Rather than taking his wave, he started paddling over to her. She saw, and started paddling to meet him half way.
"We're both tired, hungry and thirsty", he said.
She didn't say anything, she didn't need to. It would be like agreeing that yes indeed, the sky is definately blue.
"You won't quit till I do, and I sure won't until you do. So what do you say we call a truce, ride the next wave in together and grab lunch. After lunch, we can come back out together. Deal?"
Nodding her head, "Deal".
Rip made it to the beach, carried his board to the dry sand, put it down and just flopped. He was too exhuasted to even walk the rest of the way to the hot dog stand without resting. Zweeba looked at him, put her board down and sat down next to him. They just sat there, not saying anything. Too tired to talk, nothing to say.
Suddenly, Rip gasped. "Oh my god, it's the kid! It looks like we go hungry tonight".
"The Kid?" Zweeba asked.
"Coming around the point on the longboard, that's The Kid. You know, old man Roberts, lives in a shack on the property just north of the party house. He hasn't surfed in this contest for years".
While they sat there and rested they watched The Kid. His moves were not as technically difficult as some that they had done, but they had a grace, an elegance, a poetry about them. There wasn't a move that was missed, there wasn't a move that was wasted. The Kid wasn't surfing, he was dancing with Mother Ocean.
Presently Zweeba said, "I'm hungry, let's get some chow".
Rip nodded, stood up and held out his hand to help her up. She was about to snap at him for being condescending, when she realized he was just being friendly and took his hand.
While they were waiting in the food line, Rip commented "You know, you're one hell of a good surfer".
"Thanks, you're not too bad yourself".
"What I don't understand is why I've never seen you around before. To be that good you've got to surf a lot, and someone as good as you, I'd notice".
"We just moved here a month ago. I did a lot of surfing when we lived up north in Mondo County".
Rip was impressed, if she was telling the truth, this girl was full blown batshit crazy. "You surfed up there? And you're still alive?"
"It's not as bad as people think. You just have to stay away from the rocks, and always surf with a buddy in case you get into trouble. That was a pretty cool move you pulled coming out from that big tube, how'd you do it".
"Weight transfer. You have to move all of your weight way back to the board to turn quickly. Once you get it turned, even the weight back out so it isn't too squirelly to control".
They got their hotdogs and soda and were looking for some empty beach to sit and eat when Zweeba saw Tina, without Beerf. "There's Tina", she said, "I guess you want to go over and say hi to her".
"No? I thought you liked her".
"That was before I met you. She's nice looking and all, but she's not very smart. You're just as good looking, and a hell of a lot better surfer. You're someone I can talk to, someone that understands what I'm talking about".
Rip looked at her, saw the shocked look on her face. He remembered what happened last night. He didn't know what he said, but he didn't want to be hit again, or end up wearing her soda. "Look, I'm sorry, whatever I said, I apologize."
She saw the worried look on his face and started laughing. "I'm not mad, I'm just surprised. I thought that you were only interested in me because Tina turned you down. Then when you asked me to go mattress surfing, I thought you meant... well, you know... I'm not that kind of a girl, I mean I've never..."
Rip looked around, made sure that no one was listening, leaned forward and quietly said "That's ok, me neither".
There was kind of an ackward silence while the impact of everything each of them said sunk in. Rip found some empty beach, pointed to it and sat down. They sat there in silence, eating their lunch. They both wanted to say something, didn't know what, and sure didn't know how.
They were both spared the agony of being the first to speak when old man Roberts came up and plopped down next to them. "Hey kids, there you are, I've been looking for you".
Zweeba looked at the man that had just joined them. Skinny as a rail, muscular but not bulky, and a deep deep dark tan. If it weren't for all of his wrinkles and the pure white hair that hung down his back he looked like he was in his twenties. "Who are you?" she asked.
"Name's Cyril", he said holding out his hand to shake. Not seeing any recognition in her face, he continued, "Some people call me Old Man Roberts, other still call me The Kid. If you can believe that!" He laughed.
Zweeba immediately decided she liked this old man. He obviously had discovered the secret to enjoying life. He radiated so much joy at just being alive, it made her feel good just to sit next to him. "I'm Zweeba" she said, "glad to meet you. I've heard all sorts of stories about you".
Roberts found this hilariously funny. He finally stopped laughing hard enough to say "And you still feel safe enough to sit next to me?" Which brought on a whole new round of laughing. "I see you've met Rip. He's a decent surfer and a pretty good kid, even if he reminds me of yours truly at that age. You're a pretty good surfer yourself." To Rip he said "Watch out for her, she reminds me of your Grandma Rosie. Don't make the same mistake that I did".
"You know my Grandma Rose?"
"She and I were High School Sweethearts. Met surfing one day. She was the best surfer in the county, blew me out of the water. Still does as a matter of fact. She wanted to get married before she went off to college, but I didn't think that I was ready. When she was at college she met another guy and ended up marrying him instead".
All Rip could say was "Grandma surfed? Grandma Rose surfed?"
Roberts looked guilty all of a sudden. "I shouldn't have told you that. I figured you knew. Don't tell anyone, but she still does. Her husband is a stodgy old fart, doesn't like it. She keeps her gear at my place and we get together a couple times a week".
A look of understanding dawned on Rip's face. "No wonder!".
"No wonder what?" Zweeba and Roberts asked.
"Grandma always gets me the best surfing stuff for presents. Not necessarily the most expensive, but always the best. I could never understand how she always knew exactly what to buy".
A sound erupted from up on the hill. Every head on the beach looked up to see what was happening.
"What was that?" Roberts asked.
"Wagner", Zweeba replied.
"There's only one sound system that loud. The one in Chip's van", Zweeba said as she sprung to her feet. "He's playing the Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner. Ever since he saw Apocolypse Now Chip plays that when the van is in attack mode. Why would the van be in attack mode? It's up by the party house, lets go."
They started running towards the house. the music stopped. "Uh Oh." Zweeba said. Then We will rock you by queen started playing. "Pat must be with him", Zweeba observed, "she HATES classical music".
About two in the afternoon, they were awakened by the sound of Diesel motors. Chip reached up and turned on the monitor. While the screen was warming up he put on his glasses. Swivelling the camera around he caught a glint of yellow. Back, there it was. There was another. Could those really be what they looked like? Sure enough, Just like Daisy Etta in Killdozer, those were Caterpiller D-7's. "Wake up! Battle stations everyone."
"Chip. What are you talking about?"
Hopping into the drivers seat and firing up the flying saucer powerplant, "Bulldozers, heading towards the party house. I don't know what they are up to, but it can't be any good. Pat, man the egg cannon, Phred you're on the goop gun. Pat, don't use them unless you have to, but if it comes down to it, use my science project as ammo. Just, whatever you do, don't break any inside the van!"
As the bulldozers crested the hill, Jim saw the van move into position between them and the house. He was a little bit surprised that there was someone who wasn't at the surf contest. It was a good thing they brought four dozers. He had done it so that they could level the place and leave quickly, but this way, the van could only block one dozer. The other three could level the house and he wouldn't have to hurt the people in the van. The boss got upset over sloppy details like that.
Jim looked again at the van. It was the wildest thing on wheels he'd ever scene. It looked like a collaboration between George Barris and Stanley Kubrik. He half expected to see Ratfink stick his head out that hatch on the roof.
"Hold it right there" an amplified voice said from the van.
The other drivers thinking that it might be a police van stopped. Jim stopped his dozer as well.
"I don't believe it", Pat said, "it looks like they are stopping".
Chip boosted the magnification on the monitor. "See the guy in the second one from the left, it looks like he is signalling the others to go around us. He seems to want us for himself. since the goop gun only works in broadside, when we get into position, Phred, take the two on the right, Pat, the two on the left. Fire mostly, but not solely on the one that seems to be in charge". Chip drove the van forward until he was about sixty meters from the buldozers. Just like he expected, the leader had turned to meet them the other three were continuing as if to go around.
"Hah! He thinks that we can only block one of them at a time. Four bulldozers vs. the van. It isn't a fair fight, but that is their problem. Ready everyone. One, two..", he pushed three buttons on the dashboard,"three!". Afterwards Chip couldn't figure out which surprised the guys on the Dozers more, the eggs, 178.63 psi of McDoggies Toxic Waste Flavored Milk-shake substance concentrate or 53.762 KiloWatts of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. The van bore down on them like the choppers in Apocalypse now.
"Chip!!!" Pat screamed in annoyance. Chip pressed a button on the dash. The music fell silent. Pat and Phred continued their barrage. Wagner was replaced by Queen as the intro to We will rock you filled the air. "Thanks" she shouted between drum beats.
Chip pressed some more buttons on the dashboard and picked up the microphone. The van's radio transmitter was now tuned to the local police frequency. Chip started to key the mike, stopped and pressed another key on the dashboard, The computer would automatically subtract the sound of the stereo from the signal. "Calling all cars, calling all cars, report at once to 17611 North Cliff road. Repeat, respond to disturbance at 17611 North Cliff road".
Officers Ness and Hoover heard the report over their radio. "Who was that?" Ness asked. "It sure wasn't Sheila, that's for sure. But isn't that the address of the Party house?"
"Sure is. Wonder what's going on out there. First that bogus raid two weeks ago. Imagine looking for minors on Old Fart's night. Now this. You know that it isn't a legitimate call".
"Yeah, but it's got to be more interesting than donuts and coffee, or giving speeding tickets to tourists".
The same conversation was repeated, almost word for word, in patrol cars all over the city, with the same results. The entire police force of Beachtown converged upon the partyhouse.
Meanwhile, Chip had his hands full. The drivers of the bulldozers realized that they could block most of the shots by raising the blades. And while toxic shakes and eggs were an annoyance, they didn't really do any serious harm. Jim had had enough. He didn't care what sort of a bitching out Ms. Foresight gave him, this van was starting to annoy him. He put his D-7 in gear and started bearing down on it.
Chip was pretty certain his van had more power than the bulldozer, and if it were built as heavily could probably beat it in a head to head pushing contest. Unfortunately, it still had the same basic chassis that it had been built with over thirty years previously. It was time for some serious action. Pushing the button that closed the side door, "Pat, Phred, hold your fire. It's time. Phred, carefully, hand Pat that box marked with the biohazard stickers. Pat, tell me when you have them loaded".
"Roger Willco. What's the plan?"
"You know how I have the saucer motor in here?"
Busily loading eggs, "Yes".
"I've tried to keep it a secret, but when I installed the motor, I didn't disable the flight capability. When you have the eggs safely loaded in the gun, I'm going to bring her around for an aerial attack. So both of you strap in and hold on".
"Guns loaded. I'm strapped in".
"Okay, let's do it."
Zweeba, Rip and Roberts got to the top of the hill just before the pause in the action. They figured out what was happening almost instantly. When the bombardment stopped, the drivers of the tractors stopped in surprise. At first they were each worried that they might have hurt the kids in the van. They just wanted to do their job, they really didn't want to hurt anyone. When they realized that the van wasn't a crumpled heap of metal, they cheered and put their Cats back into gear. The van had quit, they had won. They could finish this stinking job and go home and take a shower.
Of everyone watching, Zweeba was the only one not totally surprised by the van launching straight into the air. She didn't know that the van could fly, but she did know Chip. She was rather surprised that he had been able to keep this ability a secret though. It flew over and behind the bulldozers. The first volley of eggs went short. These eggs were so old, that the insides had turned to powder, the change in the mass to wind resistance ratio threw Pat's aim off. By the time she got to the second volley, Pat had compensated her aim. Each of the remaining eight eggs hit squarely on target. At first there was no reaction, then all four bulldozers shut down and stopped as the drivers leapt from their mounts and kneeled on the ground, coughing and retching. First they threw up their lunch, then breakfast. By the time the van landed back where it had taken off from, the drivers were desperately trying to convince their digestive system that it was useless and way to late to try to get rid of last nights dinner as well. An argument that they were losing.
Chip powered down the van. "Good job folks, we won. We WON! That was some nice shooting Pat". By this time, the rest of the people at the beach had realized that something was happening, and the first of the crowd had started to crest the hill. From the other direction, lights and sirens ablaze, Beachtowns finest had started to arrive on the scene. "I guess that it's time to face the music, let's go". Chip pressed the button to open the side door of the van, and arm in arm, the three stepped out, as the music segued into "We are the champions".
"We were woken up by the sound of the Bulldozers. We had been up late arguing over which was the best operating system and programming language. You know how those discussions go don't you?"
The Police chief looked skeptical.
"We realized that all we could do was turn up the stereo to attract peoples attention and try to hold these guys off until someone called the police. We're sure glad that someone called you guys in time. I mean how long can three kids hold off four buldozers with just some toxic shakes and a few eggs?"
The Police chief looked even more skeptical.
The kids did their best too look innocent. They didn't succeed very well.
"Someone transmitted an all points bulletin over the police radio".
The kids didn't say anything.
"It wasn't the dispatcher. I know her voice, and that wasn't it".
"Was this person drowned out by music?"
"Then it couldn't have been us. We had the stereo so loud they heard us down by the beach. If I tried to use the radio, even if it DID transmit on police frequencies, all you would have heard was rock and roll".
The police chief had a sneaking suspicion that there was more here than Chip was letting on, but he let it slide. "By the way, you wouldn't know anything about a van, remarkably similar to yours that showed up at Beachtown high at about noon yesterday?"
Chip and Pat tried, even less successfully than before to look innocent. Chip said, "If you check our attendance records on the school computer for yesterday, they will tell you that we were in classes all day, just like we were supposed to be".
The police chief looked at the three young nerds, he looked at Chips van, he looked back at Chip. "Somehow I believe that if I checked the school COMPUTER, your attendance record would check out. OK, I don't have any more questions for now. It's only three P.M., please try to stay out of any more trouble at least until monday".
"We promise", the three said in unison.
As the police chief started to walk off, he stopped, turned around and said, "The guys in the buldozers were babbling something about flying vans".
The three teenagers stiffened instantly.
"But I'm not even going to bother asking you about that. I mean, who would believe that something that looks like that could fly?". He even managed to suppress his smile until he had his back to them. While he didn't know exactly what had happened, he had a pretty good idea, and he'd find out soon enough.
"Do you think he believed us?" Pat asked.
"Does it matter? Hey Phred, why look so glum, we won."
"That's easy for you to say. You don't have to live with him."
"That was my Dad."
While Chip and Pat stood there dumbfounded, the rest of the kids from Valley high wandered up, along with old man Roberts and the red haired girl that JimBob had met. Chip paused to consider that if her hair were a little bit less red, it would be the color of a Helium Neon laser. "How'd it go?" Zweeba asked. "The three of us saw the end of the fight. We were really blown away by", and she paused to look at Rip and Roberts, "the way you were able to throw those eggs over the bulldozer blades. You ought to go out for baseball or something".
"Thanks", Chip said, "And I really meant that. How'd the surfing contest go?"
"They were incredible!", JimBob said. "Zweeba would pull an awesome ride then Rip would come in on the next good wave and top it. Then Zweeba would come back and top that. We were all wondering how long it could go on. They finally came in together for some lunch just before your fun started".
"Yeah, we were getting pretty tired and hungry. I wasn't about to give up before Rip though. I wasn't so concerned about winning the contest as beating him".
"I felt the same way. I was really looking forward to collecting on our bet when the kid showed up, and put us both in our place. He wasn't surfing the waves, he was the waves. I didn't think that it was possible to make a surfboard do some of the things he did. It looks like neither of us will collect on our bet".
Roberts looked at Rip, and started laughing.
Rip could see Zweeba's temper flaring. Before she hit the old man without provocation, he asked "What's so funny?"
"I didn't enter the contest. That's why I waited till you guys were done. I didn't want to steal any of your waves. It was just too nice of a day not to get in any surfing. Well, what do you say. Shall we go and see who won?"
As the realization of what he had said sunk in, Rip and Zweeba stiffened. It was like a wall went up between them. They looked at each other like a couple of wild animals sizing each other up for a fight. Finally Rip said "truce?" and held out his hand.
Zweeba smiled. "Truce", she said, and took his hand. Hand in hand they walked back down to the beach.
Last modified 01/22/98
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