The Starcraft 170 shot through the sky at 320 mph, three miles above the vast Pacific Ocean. Astrid was piloting, though the autopilot was currently engaged. Penelope sat in the copilot seat. Both Sabrina Scacchi and Don Herron had taken a commercial flight back to Maxxim City.
“I don’t know if this is such a good idea,” said Penelope. “I’ve never piloted a Starcraft before.”
“But you have qualified on twin prop planes,” said Astrid. “Besides, I’m piloting and I’ve logged quite a few hours in the 170 over the past three months. You can go back and take a nap if you want to.”
Penelope looked over her shoulder.
“You didn’t leave much room after loading all that computer equipment.”
“So what was going on at the Maxxim Store?” wondered Astrid.
“What do you mean?”
“I saw the look on your face when that guy called you the ‘smartest girl in the world’.”
“His name was Daniel,” said Penelope.
“Don’t change the subject. You were upset. Why? You are the smartest girl in the world. I wouldn’t mind having an IQ of 228, I can tell you that.”
“You would mind, if they trotted you around showing you off like a circus act. I was sent out to every morning talk show and variety show. ‘Look at the little genius! She can tell you the cube of 23,916!’”
“It’s um… fourteen trillion…”
“Thirteen trillion, six hundred seventy-nine billion, three hundred fifty-five million, four hundred thirty-nine thousand, two hundred ninety-six.” said Penelope. “Look at what I can do. Tricks, like a trained dog. Penelope, the little freak of nature.”
“It wasn’t really that bad, was it?” wondered the girl inventor.
“It really was, and it didn’t stop until I left for college. It really ruined my relationship with my father. He thought I was a great little marketing tool. I graduated high school at fifteen just so I could get away. And that ruined my relationship with my mother. And then they both died, and I never had a chance to settle anything with either one of them.”
“I’m sorry, Aunt Penelope. I hadn’t heard any of that.”
“That’s partly why your parents try so hard to give you a normal life,” she said. “You should be grateful for it.”
“You are smart though,” Astrid pointed out. “You have the highest I.Q. ever recorded. You finished a PhD in physics at the age of twenty-two.”
“Yeah, well… I haven’t done anything with it. Having a high I.Q isn’t the be-all and end-all of life. You have to have drive and vision, and you have to enjoy what you are doing. I don’t really think I want to be a physicist, or a scientist of any kind really.”
“What do you want to do?” asked Astrid.
“I don’t know. I just know that I don’t want to live off my trust fund my whole life. I want to contribute somehow. I guess, I’ll go back and take that nap after all.”
When Penelope returned to the cockpit an hour later, Astrid was quite tired. It had been a long day and now a long evening as well. Astrid decided to nap in the pilot’s seat with the autopilot on. Penelope sitting in the copilot position was just one more precaution.