Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge – Chapter 10 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar ChallengeFeeling her stomach growl, the girl inventor looked up to see that it was almost 1:00 PM. She decided that rather than visit the cafeteria there in the R&D building, she would go on home. Chef Pierce could fix her something light that wouldn’t spoil her dinner that evening with Toby.

The weather was warm for late March, though it was a bit windier than one might have wished, flying fifty feet above the ground. Zipping down low, just over the tops of the saguaro cactuses and zooming back up and over the high red rocks, made Astrid smile. When a few strands of hair slipped from beneath her helmet and down onto her forehead, she broke into a laugh. She finally had hair long enough to get in the way!

Suddenly the gentle humming, which was a constant companion to anyone flying a hoverbike, went silent. The flying scooter dropped toward the ground like a brick, and Astrid went with it. She tried to steer toward a spot of soft sand, but the vehicle was completely unresponsive. There was no time to do anything else. Pushing herself away from the no longer flying scooter, she landed in the soft desert sand, just as the hoverbike crashed on a slightly firmer patch of gravel.

It was a minute before Astrid could suck any air back into her lungs. Though her entire left side hurt, there were no pains that stood out from the others. Carefully checking her legs and arms, and then feeling over the rest of her, Astrid decided that she hadn’t broken anything, at least not too badly. She sat slowly up and looked at her hoverbike. It was sitting about ten feet away. Though its frame was intact, the hoverdisks on the bottom were smashed to pieces.

Astrid tapped her Maxxim Carpé watch computer with her finger. Then she looked down at the device. The screen was shattered and there was a dent. Retrieving her phone from her pocket, she pressed the speed dial to her father.

“Hi, Astrid.”

“Hi, Dad. I’ve had a bit of a hoverbike crash. I’m alright, but I’m stuck out in the desert.”

Getting to her feet, the girl inventor looked at the landmarks all around her. Ahead of her, she could see the low rise of hills between her and Maxxim City. To both the north and south were large sandstone hills. She was north of the Saguaro Cactus Park and miles northeast of Pearl Lake. If she walked downhill, she would run into one of the many dry riverbeds in the area. They all flowed toward Pearl Lake, and between it and her was the monorail line.

“I think I can walk to the monorail from here,” she said. “It may take me an hour or so.”

“Astrid, stay where you are. How’s you’re phone battery?”

“It’s fine… um, seventy-four percent.”

“Good,” he said. “As long as it’s on, we can track you by GPS. Wait where you are.”

Astrid Maxxim and the Mystery of Dolphin Island – Chapter 10 Excerpt

The storm continued to rage outside the walls of the little house on Dolphin Island. The five young women had to make due with lighting from a single flashlight and several candles. They only ate food that could be eaten cold, and concentrated on that which was in the refrigerator, since without power the food within would eventually go bad.

“I wish I knew which direction the storm is moving,” said Penelope, as they sat around the table, eating a dinner of cheese sandwiches and cabbage and fennel salad.

“We had a hand crank radio,” said Eleanor, “but I broke the crank off of it.”

“Cranked it too hard?” wondered Penelope.

The blonde nodded.

“I can hook up the laptop directly to the internet,” said Astrid. “We’ve got enough battery power to run it for several hours.”

Unplugging the now unusable router, the girl inventor connected one MPro 5 notebook to the cable. Loading up the browser, she pulled up the satellite image of the storm.

“It’s passing to the north of us,” she told the others. “It’s not moving very fast though. I would guess we’ve got another two days of rough weather.”

“That’s what I figured,” said Adeline. “We’d better turn off the computer and conserve the battery.”

“First though,” said Penelope. “We each need to send a message to our loved ones telling them we’re okay.”

When it was her turn, Astrid sent the following message, making sure to address it to her mother, father, and to Toby. Power is out here, so no phone, but we are safe and sound. Don’t worry. Love to you all. Call you when we get the power back.

“Sending your love to Toby?” asked Penelope, looking over her shoulder.

“No, I’m just… That’s just what people say. You don’t think he…?”

“Stop worrying about it. He knows how you feel about him and he has since he was old enough to stand.”

“Well…” said Astrid, shrugging. “I guess.”

That night, the wind rattling loose boards and shingles on the outside of the house, made sleep difficult for Astrid. When she finally dozed off, it was late, and she was awakened at least three times during the night. It was a surprise therefor to find that she had slept late into the morning. All of the other young women were up and dresses and sitting around the table eating bread and jam.

“Why did you let me sleep so late?” asked Astrid, as she wiped the sleep from her eyes.

“There wasn’t much point in waking you,” said Penelope. “We can’t do anything but sit around staring at one another.”

“I thought now that it’s light outside, I might take a look at the generator,” returned Astrid.

“It’s light out,” said Eleanor, “but it’s still too windy to go outside. You would be blown off your feet. I’m a little surprised that we haven’t lost the roof.”

“The house is sturdy,” said Adeline. “We are also protected somewhat by the trees.”

“I hope the dolphins are okay,” said Astrid.

“They will be fine,” assured Océane. “They will swim out to the deep water. The storm won’t bother them at all.”

There was just enough light coming in through the boarded up windows that they were able to play a French version of Monopoly during mid-day. In the afternoon, the wind seemed to die down a bit, giving Astrid some hope that maybe the storm would soon be over. Then it grew suddenly dark, and minutes later, the island and the little house were deluged by waves of rain. The girls immediately had to scramble to lay out pots and dishes under the sixteen leaks in the ceiling that ranged from a steady drip to a constant stream.

“I feel like we need to look for two of every animal,” said Penelope.

It was so dark by five o’clock that it could have been midnight. Astrid peaked out a crack in the boards covering the window. All she could see were bushes being bent by the wind and pelted by the rain.

“Astrid,” said Océane, at her elbow. “Will you come help me make dinner?”

The girl inventor followed her to the part of the room that made up the kitchen.

“You seem very nervous,” said the French girl.

“Do I? I guess I am. This is the first hurricane that I’ve ever been in. We don’t get a lot of stormy weather in the southwest U.S.”

“Everything will be fine.”

“Oh, I know it will be,” said Astrid. “At least I know that in my head. I guess some other part of me isn’t so sure.”

“You will feel better after you eat. I’m making sandwiches with the last of the bread and hazel nut spread. I want you to chop of this bag of pistachios and whatever fruit we have left to go on them.”

Astrid found a handful of strawberries and two bananas in the no-longer-cold refrigerator, and diced them up fine, along with the pistachios. Océane sprinkled them on the hazel nut spread before placing the two pieces of bread together.

“I have a secret treat,” said Océane. “We’re all going to have hot cocoa.”

“How are we going to do that?” wondered Astrid. “We don’t have any heat.”