Bewildering Stories

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The Fairly Incredible Inventors’ Fair

by Jeffrey J. Lyons

The annual Inventors of the Future show proceeded on schedule at Riverview Junior High School. The dubious distinction of acting as a judge was my charge. My first thought was “What creative minds shall I happen upon amongst this veritable collection of child prodigies.” Exactly so.

About 100 astute children of science and art convened in the gymnasium. Some attended to final adjustments on their ingenious devices both large and small. I scanned the room carefully and precisely. Perhaps upon second glance I noted some students who were less than enthusiastic about this opportunity to exhibit their wares.

For no particular reason, I walked toward the left with little trepidation. My first review was that of a young boy’s.

“I’m Kevin Baines,” he said.

“Hi Kevin. What have we here?” I asked.

His device was small, perhaps only three inches long. I took the item in hand. Its design was that of a pocket, sewn carefully together in a flowered fabric. A small button connected the flap to the base of the prototype. Upon its backside was attached some type of sticky tab. This was truly remarkable handiwork. The seamstress should be commended.

“It’s called Hide-A-Key,” Kevin announced with a grin.

“Pray, what is the purpose of this object?” I queried.

“Well,” he said as he scratched his head, “You stick the key of your house or car or whatever inside, button it up and attach it to the top of a doorway. It keeps it dry in your hiding place.”

“Such cleverness can only be a product of the mind of a child,” I replied as patted him on the head and returned the device to his hands.

With much vigor I continued to the next illuminating creation. This one displayed a delightful array of intensifying colors. The girl had collected multiple sheets of blank paper. They were sorted into groups of three. The pattern henceforth proceeded white, yellow and pink.

“Why this collection of colored sheets of paper, young lady?” I asked with a smile.

“It’s a ready-made ream of invoice sheets,” she said brightly.

“I am at a loss to understand this presentation,” I said awkwardly.

“Well, businesses often make at least three copies of invoices for a client. In the old days, they’d just order pre-stapled carbon sheets. With my invention, they can use their computer to print three separate copies of the same invoice.”

“Why the three different colors?”

“Instead of having the business buy three different colored reams of paper, I collate them in advance for easy usage. The white one is the main invoice, the yellow one is the office copy and the pink one is the client’s copy.” she explained.

“Ingenious,” I said as I shook her hand. “You must have devoted many hours to the tedious task of collating those sheets of paper.”

“I was listening to my MP3,” she said.

Across the aisle I continued toward another intriguing display of skill. This invention was approximately three feet and six inches in diameter. It was manufactured of steel and the design had a slight curve. It mirrored a very large shovel. This young man had attached this shovel to a set of four wheels nearly five inches in radius.

“It’s a portable snow plow,” he announced.

“Really,” I replied.

“Yes, all you have to do is give her a little push. The wheels make it easier to move,” he said in a serious tone.

I reached for the plowing device and attempted to shift it in position. Indeed the wheels offset the weight as the boy explained. I nodded and smiled. His face became radiant for I apparently made him proud of his accomplishment.

The next young lady’s creation was connected to what appeared to be the door of an automobile. A piece of cardboard was attached with the assistance of a rubber band to another piece of cardboard on a small rod.

“Young lady, please do not take offense, but it is difficult for me to derive the purpose of this design from these scant pieces of cardboard,” I said.

The blonde hair girl said with much glee, “I call this “Extend-A-Visor.”

“Come again?”

“Sometimes when you’re driving your car and the sun comes in your side window, it blinds you. The visors that come with your car just aren’t long enough to cover the whole window. So my Extend-A-Visor adds that extra two or three inches of shade,” the girl said.

“I congratulate you on your insight,” I proclaimed.

I thought to myself, as I turned my attention back to the floor of the gymnasium, that our future is in good hands with the likes of these students. Never have I witnessed so many interesting and individual ideas.

Yet, it was when I came upon the final item that I became spellbound by the tenacity of one Joseph Green, Jr. That was the name that he provided when I shook his hand in front of the large contraption made of wires, wheels, tubes and metering devices. Many of those were linked to the front wheel of a bicycle. The machine hummed unlike any other machine that I assessed during these last few hours.

“And what is it that you have built Mr. Green?” I asked.

“You’ll see,” he said firmly.

“I hope I will be given the privilege of seeing what your invention can do,” I added in the hopes that he would describe his creation in more detail.

“I have left a fact sheet on the floor,” Joseph said as he pointed to a location behind this cumbersome collection of odds, ends and leftover materials. I proceeded to reach for the said piece of paper but he put up his hands.

“Don’t.” he shouted, “Not yet.”

“Young man, you should become more respectful of your elders. I will not tolerate this behavior,” I said.

“No offense, sir. I just want to show you before you ask too many questions. Don’t worry, all of your answers are on the fact sheet,” he said hurriedly.

He stepped onto the bicycle and began to peddle. The bicycle was stationary and with each turn of the wheel, the humming increased its level of volume. His peddling became more laborious and he looked as if he would faint.

“Slow down young man,” I said as I attempted to reach for him.

My hands tingled as they drew closer to young Master Green. I withdrew them abruptly fearing I was to be electrocuted. Brilliant lights like those seen during a summer thunderstorm glowed between the wires and tires of this amazing device. By now, the many other participants were gazing in this direction as if in shock.

Sweat beads poured from the forehead of Joseph Green, Jr. as his face twisted and contorted with each strained tire rotation.

Just then we heard large crack not unlike a clap of thunder. The machine lit up as a fireball. My stunned body flew to the floor. Gasps and shouts were heard throughout the facility. A parade of feet galloped in this general direction.

The humming sound lessened and the lights on the wires faded to a dim glow until they were completely dark once again. The bicycle was there. There was no sign of Master Green save for the flattened seat upon which he most recently sat.

I jumped up and with a tentative hand, reached for the machine. I glanced left and right around the room at the faces, no less in awe than I, myself felt. My gaze rested upon the fact sheet.

The fact sheet was bound within a folder. Upon the cover read the inscription: “The Plausibility and Possibilities of Time Travel by Joseph Green, Jr.”

Upon further perusal of the document I beheld intelligent mathematical equations and a design schematic. Young Joseph Green had invented his own time machine. I could not help but to postulate on where or when he could have traveled, if in fact he still lived.

It was obvious to all that witnessed this remarkable event that things would not be the same again at this annual inventors fair. I placed the blue ribbon on the bicycle handlebars and walked away. No one argued with my decision.

Copyright © 2005 by Jeffrey J. Lyons

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