Frank einstein and the b.., p.1
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       Frank Einstein and the Bio-Action Gizmo, p.1

           Jon Scieszka
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Frank Einstein and the Bio-Action Gizmo


  Rain hammers the metal roof.

  A blue-white flash of lightning illuminates Klink and Klank, sitting side by side in the driest spot of the old barn—the horse stalls.

  Klank stretches out a beat-up ax-handle leg.

  Klink flexes his squeaky barn-door-hinge elbow, closes his webcam eye.

  Freight-train-loud wind roars through the cracks in the barn walls.

  A SMAAAAASH CRAAAACK! peal of thunder rocks the whole world.

  Klank butt-jumps sideways, closer to Klink.

  “Klink,” says Klank.

  Klink opens his eye. “What?”

  “Are you ever afraid?”

  Klink pretends to think about this for three seconds, because he knows this makes Klank feel better. “No. Because we are robots. We are never afraid. Or mad. Or sad.”

  Klank nods his dented vegetable-strainer head. “Yeah. That is what I thought”

  The storm wind blasts open the hayloft shutter with a mad BAAAAAM!

  “YIIIIIKES!” Klank wraps Klink in both his irrigation-hose arms.

  Klink hands Klank his stuffed teddy bear.

  Klank unwraps his arms, strokes the soft fur, and rocks back and forth.

  “Now power down, and stop worrying,” says Klink.

  “OK,” says Klank. He pats his teddy bear, rocking it in his arms.

  The storm howls and rages and shakes the whole barn. Lightning flashes. Thunder crashes.

  Klank tries to power down and stop worrying.

  But he can’t stop the thinking and the feeling . . . that this is the end of the world.

  The blue plastic bag with an EARTH/HEART logo flies out the back window of an oversized blue truck.

  It hits the asphalt road and rolls in the wake of the speeding truck like a futuristic manmade tumbleweed.

  The truck makes a sharp right turn.

  The plastic tumblebag rolls straight on.

  It tumbles

  down a ditch

  over clumps of waving amber grasses

  past an oak tree swaying in the breeze

  and under a carved wooden sign reading


  A gust of wind blows the indestructible bag straight up, spooking a mother deer and her fawn.

  The bag chases after the deer across the sunny meadow. It spins off down a hill toward three figures standing at the edge of the woods.

  The biggest figure spreads his aluminum flex-duct arms wide and booms, “AHHHHHHH NATURE!”

  The smallest figure rolls his single webcam eye. “You may not have noticed—but you are the most unnatural thing out here.”

  Klank, because of course it is robot Klank, ignores Klink and spins around in a happy circle.

  “Who doesn’t love birds and bees and flowers and trees?”

  Frank Einstein, kid genius, bends down to inspect the stump of the freshly cut tree.

  “It looks like someone doesn’t. Who would be cutting down trees inside the Midville preserve?”

  The guys hear the sound of machinery in the distance.

  The blue plastic bag flies up and twirls in a mini-twister above Klink, Klank, and Frank.

  Klank spins and stumbles against Klink.

  “Hey! Watch it!”

  “Watch what? Ha ha ha,” laughs Klank. He spreads his robot arms again and sucks a huge breath of fresh forest air into his ventilation port.

  He also, unfortunately, sucks the plastic bag into his ventilation port.

  FFFFFFFFFFT! The bag plugs Klank’s port. It cuts off the air cooling his heat-producing brain circuits.

  SSSSSSHSHHHHHHHHHHH! The plastic bag catches in Klank’s mechanical movement wheels. The plastic shreds. Small threads wind around every cog and wheel.

  Klank staggers.

  Klink props him up.

  BLLLLLLLLLLLUUUUUUUGGGGHHHHHH! The plastic shreds melt. And drip into every crack and corner of Klank’s processor.

  Klank’s music slows.

  Klank’s left eye blinks EMERGENCY red.

  Klank’s arms and legs start to twitch.

  Klank stops spinning and shorts out.

  “Alert,” beeps Klink. “Klank may lose balance. His trajectory may intersect with this tree. This collision may bring it down.”

  “I think he’ll be okay,” says Frank.

  The blue-plastic-bag drips gum up Klank’s gyroscope. Which controls Klank’s balance.

  Klank’s heavy-duty-trash-can body leans, and tips. Klink can’t hold him.

  “Uh-oh,” says Frank.

  “Unfortunately,” beeps Klink. “I am always right.”

  Klank falls heavily into the giant tree. The trunk snaps. . . and the entire tree falls with a thunderous CRASSSSSH!

  Smashing Klank into a pile of broken parts in the middle of the forest.

  “Screwdriver!” calls Frank Einstein.

  “Screwdriver,” answers Watson, slapping the tool into Frank’s outstretched hand.

  Frank unscrews the metal plate covering Klank’s gyroscope.

  “Wire cutters!”

  Watson reaches into his expanding rope bag, hands the tool to Frank. “Wire cutters.”

  Frank snips the wire on Klank’s leg motor.

  “Power drill!”

  Watson digs through his bag. “Hammer, wrench, clamps, saw. . . no drill.”

  Frank looks up from the pile of disconnected Klank parts. “What? How am I supposed to fix Klank with no drill?!”

  “I threw everything into my EMERGENCY bag and came as fast as I could,” says Watson. “Maybe you can use the screwdriver.”

  “You should have brought a bigger bag—with more tools!”

  “This is the best bag. I use it all the time.”

  Frank frowns. “Sorry, Watson.” Frank realizes he is more mad at himself for not being able to fix Klank than he is mad at Watson and his bag.

  “You may use my drill,” says Klink. “Part of my farmtrip tool additions.”

  “Nice work, Klink,” says Frank. He guides Klink’s drill to Klank’s bent main-drive gear. Frank pulls it out and hands it to Klink. “I think all we have to do is straighten this, rewire the drive motor, and knock out some body dents.”

  Klink examines the gear with his single-eye cam.

  “No. This can not be fixed.”

  “Of course it can,” argues Frank. “Everything can be fixed.”

  Klink reexamines the gear.

  Klank, in pieces, does not move.

  “BRARRRRRRRRRR!” screams a chain saw deeper in the forest.

  “RRRRUUUUUHHHHHRRRRR!” buzzes the deep hum of a drill from over the hill.

  “No. Your statement is not true. Not everything can be fixed.”

  The logging crew boss, wearing a bright orange safety vest, leans out of the cab of the EARTH/HEART logging truck, yelling through a bullhorn.

  “Faster, faster, faster!”

  “BRRARRRRRRRRRRRRR,” howls a dozen chain saws.

  CRASSSSHHHHH! A big oak tree drops.

  One of the loggers stops to take a drink of water. “What’s the big rush?”

  “I don’t know. But the Big Boss says we have one more week to cut as much as we can.”

  “That’s crazy.”

  “Faster, faster, faster!”

  The other logger shrugs. He starts up his chain saw.

  And takes on another oak.


  The roar of the giant excavator scooping up a massive bucket load of earth rattles the forest.

  The Mining Crew boss, wearing a bright orange safety vest, stands next to an EARTH/HEART dump truck, yelling through a bullhorn.

nbsp; “Faster, faster, faster!”

  “What’s the big hurry?” the excavator driver asks the bucket operator.

  “I don’t know. But the Big Boss says we got a week to strip out as much coal as we can.”

  “That’s nuts,” says the driver.

  “Faster, faster, faster!”

  The driver shrugs. He positions the excavator for another scoop.

  The bucket gouges out another twenty cubic yards of earth.

  EEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! The whine of a huge drill boring through the earth shakes the whole road.

  The Drilling Crew boss, wearing a bright orange safety vest, stands next to the EARTH/HEART drill truck, yelling through a bullhorn.

  “Faster, faster, faster!”

  “What’s the big rush?” asks one of the drillers.

  “No telling. But the Big Boss says we have to tap as much as we can in the next week.”

  The drill bit rips through another layer of rock.

  “That’s crazy,” says the one driller.

  “Faster, faster, faster!”

  The other driller shrugs. He revs up the drill.

  And punches another hole deep into the earth.

  A blue plastic bag tumbles across the field and over the fallen oak tree.

  A blue plastic bag falls into the trenched earth.

  A blue plastic bag spins behind the drilling truck and across the muddy road.

  Frank Einstein and his pal Watson lug two large canvas bags of robot parts into Grampa Al’s big red barn.

  Grampa Al looks up from the mower engine he is fixing.

  “Well, hello, Einstein.”

  “Hello, Einstein,” Frank answers absently.

  “What genius scheme are you guys cooking up today?”

  Frank and Watson drop the bags on the old barn workbench with a noisy metal rattle.

  Klink rolls through the double barn doors, carrying a big metal cylinder. He sets it on the workbench, and answers Grampa Al.

  “Klank malfunction. We had to disassemble him for transport back here.”

  Watson rearranges the aluminum-hose-duct arms and vegetable strainer. “Aw, don’t say it like that. Klank just had an accident. We can fix him.”

  Grampa Al wipes the motor oil off his hands and comes over to take a look.

  Frank unscrews the access cover to the head port.

  Grampa Al leans in and peers over his glasses. “Hmmmmmm.” He clicks the brain gear a few turns. “Uh-huh.” He test-spins the balance gyro. “Ah-ha.”

  Grampa Al shakes his head and gives a low whistle. “Wow. This is a real mess. We may not be able to fix this.”

  “Exactly,” beeps Klink. “As I said earlier.”

  “Of course we can fix it!” says Frank Einstein, picking a few more shreds of blue plastic out of Klank’s brain gear. “We are scientists. That’s what we do.”

  Watson straightens the bent antenna on the robot’s vegetable-strainer head.

  “We aren’t talking about some hunk of junk. We’re talking about Klank!”

  Grampa Al scratches his head, just like Frank Einstein does when he is thinking. He takes another look inside the clockwork head. “It is our job to try to understand the world. But sometimes we have to realize we can’t fix everything.”

  Grampa Al opens Klank’s heart panel and takes a closer look. “Gadzooks! What happened?”

  Watson explains, “Up on your land next to the Midville preserve, someone is drilling. And sawing. And digging. And—”

  “Klank sucked a plastic bag into his ventilator port,” Frank finishes Watson’s rambling explanation.

  Grampa Al nods.

  He resets the power supply.

  He reconnects the main-branch crossover cables.

  He recleans the microcontroller.

  Grampa Al shakes his head. “This is a real soup sandwich. I don’t think we will be able to rebuild the same old Klank with what we have on hand.”

  Frank leans over Grampa Al’s shoulder. “What if we use some of the memory power. . . and cross wire it to the servo-motor?”

  “That could work. . .” says Grampa Al, thinking out loud. “But we don’t know how that might affect the self-learning loop.”

  Klink calculates what might happen. He says one word: “Dangerously.”

  Watson paces back and forth. “All because of a stupid plastic bag! What was it even doing out in the Midville preserve? That is protected land!” He picks up one of the canvas bags. “Klank could have been saved with a simple invention like this!”

  Frank rewires Klank’s memory banks. “It’s not that simple, Watson.”

  Watson keeps raging. “Well, it could be. Some of the world’s greatest inventions were the most simple. The wheel! The zipper! Toilet paper! We should make something like that to save the world!”

  Klink rolls his eye. “And make me a world-class ballerina while you are at it.”

  Frank finishes the repair as best he can. He and Grampa Al rebuild Klank with farm parts they have, giving Klank new suspension-spring legs, a pitchfork hand, and big rubber tractor-tread feet.

  “Well, we are not just going to sit around and watch the world get messed up. Let’s do something big to fix it.”

  Frank closes Klank’s heart port and screws it shut.

  Grampa Al flips Klank’s power switch back on. “Exactly right, Einstein.”

  Grampa Al points to an old postcard of Albert Einstein tacked up on a barn beam. “It’s like the other Al Einstein once said—The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

  Klank’s body motor hums.

  He lifts his head.

  “Hello . . . my name is Klank”

  Frank pats Klank’s watering-can shoulder and nods.

  “Welcome back, Klank. Now let’s take care of some important science business.”

  Frank Einstein tacks up one last chart on the improvised Wall of Science in Grampa Al’s barn. “Perfect.”

  “Aw, dingleberries,” says Watson. “I thought we were going to take a vacation. And have our picnic.”

  “Do you want to be part of the problem? Or part of the solution?” says Frank. “The same carelessness that messed up Klank is messing up the Midville Forest Preserve. . . and messing up the whole planet. And this fits in perfectly with our next category—planet Earth.”

  “I know,” says Watson. “But I’m hungry.”

  “HUNGRY?” booms Klank. “I will get food!” He jumps to his new tractor-tread feet and rolls for the door. The one detail that Klank’s rewired brain doesn’t notice is that the door is closed.

  Klank bounces off the barn door with a big metal-on-wood BOOOOM!

  Frank readjusts Klank’s memory setting.

  “We will get this right. But first we need background research on planet Earth.”

  “Ready,” says Klink. He hands both Frank and Watson Frank’s Virtual Reality Eyeballz goggles with blacked-out lenses and tiny wire antennas.

  “Klink and I have constructed a virtual world tour of Earth,” says Frank. “Put these on. And get ready to travel through Earth science, Frank Einstein style.”

  Frank and Watson power on the Eyeballz. And he and Watson are instantly in the middle of outer space.

  “Whoaaaaaaa!” says Watson.

  “Five thousand million years ago,” says a deep voice, “this spinning cloud of gas and dust clumped together to form our Sun.

  “Other smaller clouds of gas and dust orbiting around the Sun formed planets.

  “One of these planets was Earth.”

  The space scene shifts. Now Frank and Watson stand on the edge of a desert, next to a strange-looking machine.

  “What is this?” asks Watson. “A metal version of a prehistoric shark?”

  “Exactly” says Frank. “We made it to look like a megalodon. But mechanical, so it can eat through all the layers of Earth.”

  Virtual Frank and virtua
l Watson climb inside. They strap themselves into the pilot and copilot seats behind the Megalodon Driller’s crystal-window eyes.

  Frank hits the start button and sets the tunneling teeth spinning with a rrrroooAAARRRRRRR.

  The Megalodon Driller chews through Earth’s surface, and starts its dive.

  The Megalodon’s teeth and lasers cut through the rock and sand.

  High-intensity nose beams light its path.

  The interior NavMap charts its progress.

  Frank punches the Auto Pilot button.

  A teeny little guy in a pilot’s uniform appears on the dashboard and describes what Frank and Watson are seeing through the Megalodon Driller eye ports.

  “The outer, thinnest layer of Earth—the CRUST.

  “Mostly rock.

  “From eight kilometers to seventy kilometers thick.

  “Twenty-two degrees Celsius.”

  Watson nudges Frank. “How is that big voice coming from that little guy?”

  “Nice touch, huh?” answers Frank, admiring his own invention.

  The Megalodon’s spinning teeth dig into anew, mushy mix.

  “We are now in the second layer—the UPPER MANTLE.

  “A mix of solid and melted elements and rock. Because it is hot.

  “This layer goes from 70 kilometers to 670 kilometers below the surface.

  “From 1,400 to 3,000 degrees Celsius.

  “We are detecting iron, oxygen, silicon, magnesium, and aluminum.”

  Frank and Watson watch waves of hot rock and metal wash over the Megalodon.

  The chewing teeth hit solid material again.

  “The third layer—the INNER MANTLE,” the Auto Pilot continues.

  “We are 670 kilometers to 2,890 kilometers below the surface.

  “Temperature is 3,000 degrees Celsius.

  “But now the rock is solid. . . because we are under incredible pressure.”

  Watson looks around the interior of the Megalodon Driller. “I don’t care if it is virtual. This is freaking me out.”

  The loud, chewing driller goes suddenly quiet and smooth.

  “The fourth layer—the OUTER CORE,” announces the tiny Auto Pilot.

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