Stevie twisted and scrambled in the grip of the odd flying creature. Craning his neck, he tried hard to get a good look at it. What held him looked like two different sized sets of lockjaw pliers, connected by some kind of hinge to a pipe wrench on one side, a long metal file on the other. The head – if you could call it that – was a jumble of screws, bolts, washers, and nuts.
The rest was hard to see, but Stevie was fairly certain it all was the stuff that belonged in a basement or garage. He was glad for the times he had spent with hid dad, learning the names of various things. He wasn’t sure what he would have done if he had been carried off into the sky by a flying robot made of things for which he had no name.
All over the various bits of metal and tools that composed the creature was a dark oily sheen, as though the whole thing had been dipped in grease. It smelled a little funny, too.
Stevie had little time for thinking all this through, but it is the way of it when one is stressed that time slows and thoughts speed. He was lifted up into the air and above his house, so that when he looked down he was looking down on his own roof. Intense fear and wild excitement fought for possession of his mind.
Just as he was wondering exactly where this thing was going to take him, he heard a noise that made him think of a cannon firing a pillow, and suddenly the flying creature and Stevie together were knocked askew. Bits of tools and metal burst outward, and Stevie found himself in a freefall toward the backyard. At this point, he allowed himself to scream, but even as he did so, he realized that he was on course to hit dead center of the trampoline.
With a jolt that made his teeth click shut and knocked the air out of his lungs, he bounced off the trampoline and back into the air. He could not restrain a whoop as he went much, much higher off the trampoline than he had ever gone before, and the zenith of his bounce brought him within reach of the branches of the maple. He didn’t hesitate to reach out and grab hold, lurching a little as he swung to a stop.
For several seconds Stevie hung onto the branch and tried to get his breath back. It was difficult, but he knew it would be worse if he let go. Then he heard a welcome voice call out from below, “Let go, Stevie, and I’ll catch you!” He let go, and fell into the waiting arms of Mr. Gunderson.
“Gee, Mr. Grunderson, luck you came along when you did!” said Stevie.
“Luck had little to do with it, Stevie,” said Mr. Gunderson. “As soon as I saw that thing had you, I did what I could to see you to safety. The real trick was timing it so you would fall on the trampoline and not the ground.”
“You did all that?!” Stevie exclaimed. “Wow!” It was then Stevie noticed the unfamiliar cylinder in Mr. Gunderson’s hand. “What’s that thing, Mr. Grunderson?”
Mr. Gunderson turned it back and forth. “Oh, just something I whipped up from spare parts I found in your dad’s basement. I guessed I would need it. Um… I’ll explain how it works later. For now, we need to get to safety.”
“Mr. Grunderson, do you know what’s going on?”
Mr. Gunderson nodded. “No time to explain now, though. Where is your brother?”
“We went to Stacia’s house to rescue her, but then there was a zombie, and we chased it outside, and then I heard you shouting, and so I went running looking for you, and then there was a thing that came flying out of the basement, and then I went inside my front door and then there was another robot in there, and then I came back outside and that flying robot picked me up, and then you blew it up with your thing, and then I hit the–”
“Alright, I get the picture. A zombie, you say? It’s come to that now, has it? Well, let’s go find your brother and Stacia. Then we’ll need to make plans.”