Battlepanda: A ride on the Scratch machine


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A ride on the Scratch machine

(An excerpt from my 5th-grade reading workbook, The Scratch Papers, now out-of-print. Previous excerpts: one, two, three, four, five.)

Wilbur took Lance and Little Darla to the garage. Professor Scratch was tinkering around in the time machine, but Howling Jack seemed glad to see them. He had been lying on his cot eating a banana. He introduced himself and tried to look very muscular.

"Why is your first name Howling?" Little Darla asked him.

"We'll cover that later," Howling Jack said vaguely. "Here comes the Professor."

The Professor walked up, busily writing in his black book. He peered over his glasses at the kids. "Who are you?" he demanded.

"I'm Wilbur!" Wilbur said. "I was here yesterday!"

"So you were," the Professor said. He scribbled some more. "Who are these other two?" he asked finally.

"These are my friends," Wilbur said proudly. "This is Little Darla, and this is Lance."

"Too many kids are finding out about the time machine," said the Professor. "We have to keep this quiet!"

"I won't tell anybody else," Wilbur said.

"And I," said Lance, "don't believe it's really a time machine anyway."

"Sure it is," said Howling Jack. "The Professor will take you for a ride, won't you, Professor?" Howling Jack was hoping they would go back to 1875 so that he could see his girl friend, Yolanda Lagoon.

"Perhaps I will," said Professor Scratch. "But don't tell any more kids! It's going to get crowded on that thing!"

So they all went on a trip. They wound up in 1850. Everybody was very happy except Howling Jack. It was a few years too soon to see Yolanda.