About wesleyallison

Author of twenty science-fiction and fantasy books, including the popular "His Robot Girlfriend."

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge – Chapter 4 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar ChallengeThey walked the carefully cultivated sidewalks that led gently down the slope of the hill. The trees were still empty of leaves, but the grass remained green thanks to irrigation. A slight breeze whipped around their feet, but they were warm enough in their school blazers. At the corner of Acacia and Fourth, Christopher waited for them.

“Where’s Denise?” wondered Astrid, pointing to her best friend’s house. Denise usually waited with Christopher.

He shrugged. “She decided it was too cold and had her brother drive her.”

“That girl is too skinny,” opined Toby. “She doesn’t have enough body fat on her to keep warm.”

“I was going to say she was too cold-blooded,” said Christopher, “but I agree with you.”

“On or off?” asked Astrid.

“What?”

“You and Denise.” Christopher and Denise were famous for their on-again off-again dating relationship.

“Um, on, I think,” Christopher replied. “I asked her to the Spring Fling, and she said yes.”

“Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about the Spring Fling.” Astrid looked at Toby, but he didn’t say anything.

The three friends walked down the short, sloping block to Fifth Street to the Diaz home. Robot Valerie stepped out the door as soon as they arrived. Except for her silver-blue metallic skin and her electric blue hair, she looked just like any other high school student, with a uniform blazer and skirt just like Astrid’s. The girl inventor of course now remembered that her friend was a product of her own RG-7 project, which had set a new technological standard for robotics and cybernetics.

“Valerie will be out in a minute,” said Robot Valerie. “She’s still working on her hair.”

The others nodded knowingly. After nearly ten minutes, the human Valerie Diaz emerged and hurried to join her friends.

“You look nice,” said Astrid.

“Thanks. I think Bud might ask me to the dance, so I couldn’t go out with my hair sticking any which way.” She put her hand over her mouth. “I’m sorry Astrid.”

The girl inventor’s face fell.

“I knew I looked hideous,” she sighed.

“That’s not what Valerie meant,” said Robot Valerie, casting an angry eye at her human twin.

“Of course not. I just meant… oh, I don’t know what I meant. You’re very cute Astrid, no matter what your hair looks like, and in a short time it will all grow back anyway.”

“This is one of those situations when everybody should just stop talking,” said Christopher. “Let’s get to the monorail station.”

Everyone else agreed. It took them only ten minutes to walk from Valerie’s house to the monorail station on Main Street. The top of the raised platform was where they usually met Austin, but he wasn’t present that morning. They did however run into Bud Collins and his younger sister Dot. Astrid now recognized Bud as the tall, thin boy with black hair that had visited her in the hospital.

“Hey Bud,” called Toby.

“Hey guys,” said Bud, but his eyes were focused clearly on Regular Valerie, who batted her lashes at him.

“Hello, Astrid,” said Dot. “I’m glad you’re okay. Your hair looks cute.”

“Thanks,” replied Astrid, elbowing Valerie. “That makes me feel welcome.”

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge – Chapter 3 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space PlaneAstrid pressed the power button and felt the hoverbike hum to life as it slowly lifted off the ground. Driving it out the door of the pool house, she pulled back on the controls as she pressed her foot down on the throttle, and guided the hoverbike upward. Shooting over the top of the house, she zoomed through the sky toward the Maxxim Industries campus.

The girl inventor didn’t fly as rapidly or in as straight a line as she could have. She enjoyed the view below along the way, and munched on her breakfast burrito as she flew. It was more than an hour before she set down in front of the fourteen story, half mile wide R&D building. Few employees were on duty, but a security guard helped her bring the hoverbike indoors and put it in a storeroom. At the top of the glass elevator, Astrid found the desk of office manager Flora Purcell empty. Her father’s lab, just beyond, was equally as still. This wasn’t surprising, as he spent much of his time at the airfield or the rocket launch facility. He always had something interesting going on here though. Several large lasers had been set up for an experiment. Astrid looked forward to asking him about them. Just past her father’s lab, was her own, a smaller but equally equipped workspace. She smiled as she ran her hands along the top of the workbenches and checked the equipment.

Astrid’s phone rang from her pocket. Rather than pulling it out or answering it with her Carpé Aviatrix watch, she stepped around her desk and touched her hand to the screen of her workstation. Immediately a man’s face appeared. He was in his thirties, with sandy hair and glasses, and was wearing a Maxxim Motor Cars lab coat.

“Hello?”

“Oh, Miss Maxxim,” he looked startled. “I was expecting to get your voice mail.”

“Well you got me. What can I do for you, Mister…”

“Daystrom, Bill Daystrom. I was instructed by Mr. Maxxim, um… that is, your uncle, to update you on the batteries for the Meteor test frame.”

“The what?”

“The um, Maxxim Meteor.”

“Oh yes, my electric racecar. What about the batteries?”

“Well, they’re functioning perfectly, but we’re still having a problem with the charging time. As you know, the batteries will power the vehicle at full throttle for two hundred miles. Ordinarily, we would need to charge the vehicle overnight, but by applying high amperage DC power directly to the battery, instead of going through charging equipment, we’ve been able to reduce the time to eighteen minutes.”

“No, no, no!” shouted Astrid. “I’m going to be up against Tracy Shannon’s racing team. Do you understand? They’re going to refuel their car, change all four tires, and probably clean the windows too, all in seconds! I can’t sit there for eighteen minutes waiting for my car to recharge.”

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge – Chapter 2 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar ChallengeAstrid spent the evening after her parents left being bored. The hospital staff wouldn’t let her watch TV, surf the web, or listen to the radio. They wouldn’t even get her a three year old magazine from a waiting room to read. Finally, after much begging and pleading, Niri the night nurse, a large woman with brown skin and blond hair, brought her a dog-eared Isaac Asimov paperback entitled The Naked Sun. She read two thirds of the book before bedtime.

The following morning, Astrid woke to a doctor, along with Amelia the day nurse, examining her.

“How are you feeling this morning, Astrid?” the doctor, a thin red-haired woman asked.

“How many doctors do I have anyway?” Astrid asked.

“More than is usual,” the doctor laughed. “I’m Dr. Crawford, your neurologist. I performed the surgery on your head. You also have an orthopedist and a supervising physician.”

“I hope all that’s covered by insurance.”

“You don’t need to worry about that,” said Amelia. “You’re a…”

Dr. Crawford stopped her, amid sentence, with a raised hand.

“Do you remember anything more this morning?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

“Well, there’s no guarantee, but I feel very optimistic about your recovery. In the meantime, I brought you something to occupy your time.” She set a notebook computer in Astrid’s lap. “I’d like you to try out this game. You might like it.”

“This isn’t really a game, is it?” asked Astrid. “This is a brain test. You want to see if I’ve got all my marbles.”

“Yes, it is a brain test, but it’s also a game. I want to see if anything besides your memory has been affected.”

Astrid spent the next few hours running through the various brain puzzles that made up the game. Just after noon, Amelia brought her a sandwich and soup for lunch, and afterwards gave her a sponge bath. Not long after that, she arrived to tell Astrid that she had more visitors.

“Shall I send them in one at a time, or do you feel up to seeing them all at once?”

“How many of them are there?”

“Seven.”

“I guess they can all come in, if there’s room.”

A minute later the room was crowded with teenagers. Astrid smiled when she saw her best friend Denise Brown. Slightly on the skinny side, with long blond hair and green eyes, Denise had been Astrid’s friend since they were little. Next to her was Christopher Harris, a tall handsome boy with chocolate brown skin and black hair. He had the highest grades of anyone at school, with the exception of Astrid. Then there was Austin Tretower, a sandy-haired boy, who despite seeming to be thoroughly average in just about every way, was one of Astrid’s best friends. Next to him were two tall boys. One was thin with black hair. The other was muscular and very handsome, with brown bangs that hung down just above his eyes. Finally, there were two other girls. Both were shorter than Denise with flashing eyes. The first had long black hair, while the other had blue hair and bluish-metallic skin.

“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed Astrid. “You’re a robot! Just like in The Naked Sun!”

“The naked what?” exclaimed the robot.

“Astrid, don’t you remember Valerie?” asked the black-haired girl next to her.

“Um, sorry. She looks just like you. Did you build her?”

“No, Astrid. You did.”

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge – Chapter 1 Complete

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar ChallengeAstrid opened her eyes. All she could see were shadows—human shaped shadows leaning over her. All she could hear were whispers and beeps and a swooshing sound. Every single part of her hurt. Then everything went black. When she opened her eyes again, things made more sense. She was in a hospital room. Light was streaming in through the window blinds. A woman in colorful hospital scrubs was leaning over her.

“Awake?” the woman asked.

Astrid tried to nod, but she couldn’t. So she tried to speak but the only thing that came out was a croak.

“Don’t try to move your head. It’s immobilized. Let me get you a sip of water.” She held up a cup with a straw and Astrid sipped. It was like swallowing razor blades. “I know. It hurts. Don’t worry. It will get better. Try another sip.”

“Are you… nurse?” Astrid managed after the second sip.

“Yes. My name is Amelia. I’m your day nurse. I’m going to get the doctor. If you promise not to try to move very much, I’ll unfasten your hands.”

Up until that moment, Astrid hadn’t realized it, but her hands were tied to the sides of the bed. She saw, once Amelia had untied them, that there were intravenous fluids going through a needle stuck in her left arm behind her left wrist. Her right arm was in a cast. The nurse left, and returned a few minutes later with a dark-haired, handsome man wearing a white lab coat.

“Hello, Astrid,” he said. “I’m Dr. Phillips. I’m going to take a quick look at you, if you don’t mind.” He looked at her eyes with a tiny flashlight and then examined the top of her head.

“Can you wiggle your fingers? How about your toes.” All of the appendages seemed to be functioning correctly.

“What happened?” Astrid’s voice was a whisper.

“Well, what do you remember?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing? Do you know your name? Do you know how old you are?”

“I’d know I was Astrid even if I didn’t remember. You just called me that. I’m Astrid Maxxim. I’m fifteen.”

“Where do you live?”

“I… I don’t remember. I… I live in a really big house.”

“Do you remember your school?”

“I… I’m a sophomore. I know that.” She clenched her fists in frustration. “Can you untie my head?”

“All right. When you started to come to yesterday, you began jerking around a lot in your sleep. We didn’t want you to send yourself back into surgery”

As the doctor removed whatever was holding her head, she reached up and touched her scalp, finding that her beautiful shoulder-length strawberry blonde hair was gone. In its place was an unruly mass of spikes about an inch long.

“When did I have surgery? What happened to me?”

“You had brain surgery three weeks ago. You had an accident. That’s all you really need to know right now.”

“Was anyone else hurt?”

“No, Astrid. You were the only one.”

Exhaustion suddenly overcame her, and Astrid closed her eyes and let sleep swallow her up again. In and out of slumber, time seemed to lose all meaning. Then she was awake again and Amelia was giving her a sweet, soothing drink.

“Astrid, there are a couple of people who really want to see you,” said the nurse. “Do you feel up to visitors?”

“Sure.”

Her nurse stepped out of the room, and a moment later Astrid’s mother stepped in, hurrying over to her side. Kate Maxxim was just as beautiful as ever, tall and elegant with the same shade of strawberry blond hair that her daughter now missed. She looked very tired. The blue business suit she wore was a bit crumpled. On her heels was a man in a white shirt with a blue tie.

“How are you feeling, Sweetie?”

“Better now that you’re here, Mom. It’s so disorienting to wake up and not know where you are or how you got here.”

“It’s all better now,” said Mrs. Maxxim. “Don’t worry about remembering the accident. The doctors said you might have a little trouble with your memory at first.”

“Yeah. It’s weird. I remember my room, but I c… can’t remember our address. It’s just right there. I just can’t quite get it. I want to talk to you about it. I know I can remember then.”

Her mother sat down in the chair on Astrid’s left side.

“We’ll have a nice long talk right now. We’ll talk about anything you want to.”

“Great,” said Astrid with a sigh. She pointed to the man with the blue tie. “Let’s let this doctor check me out first and then we can talk without being disturbed.”

“Astrid, this isn’t a doctor,” said her mother, suddenly looking alarmed.

“Astrid, don’t you know me?” the man asked.

She looked up into his friendly face and kind eyes behind horn rimmed glasses. He was handsome with his brown hair just turning grey at the temples.

“I don’t think we’ve ever met,” said Astrid.

“Honey, this is your father,” said Mrs. Maxxim.

“Is he?” asked Astrid with wonder. “Then… um, are you two married?”

“Yes,” Mrs. Maxxim’s voice cracked when she answered.

“It’s nice to meet you,” said Astrid, looking up at him. A tear slid down his face from behind his glasses. “Should I call you Dad or Daddy?”

“You call me Dad.”

“I do? You mean we’ve met?”

“Yes Astrid. We’ve lived together all your life.”

“Um, Dad? Do you think I could talk to Mom alone for a little while?”

The man nodded and quickly left the room.

“I feel really bad,” said Astrid. “I probably really hurt his feelings, but I don’t remember him at all.”

“It’s okay, Honey. Don’t feel bad. Your memory will come back and everything will be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” said her mother forcefully. “I’m sure.”

“Okay. Please, Mom. Tell me what happened to me. I know I had an accident, but I don’t know anything else.”

“I can tell you some of it, Astrid. The doctors don’t want us telling you anything except what we know for sure. They think you might create false memories based on what you hear from us. That might make it harder for your own memories to come back. The truth is, I don’t know all the details. All I know is that you were on a field trip with your class and you fell while climbing and hit your head. You were bleeding into your brain and the doctors had to rush you into surgery to relieve the pressure. You also broke your arm and two ribs, and you have a couple of other hairline fractures.”

“It was Outdoor Survival.”

“You remember?”

“No. I don’t remember falling or even a field trip. I do know I have Outdoor Survival seventh period. Austin sits next to me.”

“You remember Austin?” asked her mother.

“Sure,” said Astrid. “Oh no! I didn’t miss his birthday, did I? It’s February third.”

“Oh, I’m afraid so. That was a week and a half ago. Would you like Austin and your friends to come visit you? They’ve all been asking about you.”

“Sure, that would be great.”

“Can we have your father come back in?”

Astrid nodded. Her mother went out and returned with the man she said was Astrid’s father. They both sat down and the three of them talked about home and about their work at Maxxim Industries. Astrid really couldn’t remember anything about her father, but she liked him. They began discussing Astrid’s inventions, but at some point in the conversation, Astrid drifted off. When she woke, her mother was gone, but her father was still there.

“You invented the hoverdisk, didn’t you?” she asked him.

“Did you remember that?”

“Not really. I deduced it. I remember building my hoverbike and using hoverdisks. I didn’t invent them, so they had to come from somewhere. I know my mother isn’t an inventor, so it must have been you.”

“Brilliant as always,” he said, smiling weakly.

“Can I see your phone?”

He pulled it from his pocket and unlocked it with his fingerprint, before handing it to her. Once she had it in her hand, she flipped open the photo app and began scrolling through it.

“Lots of pictures of me,” she said. “It’s a good thing I know you’re my dad or I would think you were some kind of weird stalker.”

“When I come back tomorrow, I’ll bring your tablet and then you can look through all your pictures. That might spark some memories for you.”

“Can’t I just come home?” asked Astrid.

“The doctors say not for a few more days.”

She held up the phone with a picture of two men sitting together.

“Are you Uncle Carl’s brother?”

“You remember Uncle Carl?”

“Yes. It’s so strange. I remember Uncle Carl and I remember he’s married, but I can’t remember anything about his wife.”

“Do you remember his daughter?”

“Uncle Carl has a daughter?”

“Yes, and yes, Carl is my brother. Do you remember Aunt Penny?”

Astrid shook her head.

“Well, at least you remember somebody from my family,” he said.

“I’m really sorry, um… Dad.”

“That’s okay, Astrid. Everything will be all right.”

Patreon

For those of you who do not know, I have a Patreon page at www.patreon.com/wesleyallison where some very wonderful readers have been supporting my writing efforts. If you are unfamiliar with how Patreon works, individuals donate money on a monthly basis to creative types (boy, that sounds narcissistic when talking about one’s self), and they receive small benefits from doing so. The more that is donated, the more or bigger the benefits.

I have recently revised the various levels of patronage and added a few new levels. Now I need to offer some additional benefits (rewards). If you have some ideas about what those could be, whether you are a patron or not, let me know in the comments section below.

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Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge

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Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge has been revised and re-edited.  If you purchase this book before, you should be able to redownload it for no additional cost.  If you haven’t, then now is the perfect time to add this to your reading library.  It’s just 99 cents wherever fine ebooks are sold.

Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space Plane – Chapter 12 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space PlaneThe next day was less regimented, at least in the morning. That’s when Astrid realized that Miss Scacchi had gone a little overboard. Guests started showing up for a party. Eleven girls, all the within a year or two of Astrid’s age, arrived. Astrid couldn’t imagine how Miss Scacchi had come up with this particular list of girls. There were girls that she had always gotten along well with: Alicia Noble, Madison Laurel, and Joanie Blair. Then there were girls that she tried to have as little to do with as possible: Hannah Stark, Taylor Kirkpatrick, and Sierra Brightman. And there were girls she had hardly even ever spoken to: Diana Mills, Chloe Sergeant, Dot Collins, and Amelia Stark, who was back in town after having her appendix taken out. Finally there was her cousin Gloria. Astrid thought they had been getting on extremely well, considering. Why push it?

Miss Scacchi gathered everyone together in the foyer and then led them up the sweeping staircase to the third floor. She had transformed one of the large unused rooms into a vast game room. There was a pool table, two ping pong tables, and an air hockey table. Along one wall was a bank of classic coin operated arcade games. Along the other wall were small tables, each with two chairs, and set up with board games. The entire room was decorated with an Olympics theme. By the door, was a chart set up with progression ladders or score charts for each of the games.

The fifteen girls rotated around playing. Most of them were interested, though not overly enthusiastic, about the games. All that changed when Miss Scacchi rolled in a table filled with gold, silver, and bronze medals. Suddenly the competition grew fierce. They were playing so hard, they didn’t even notice they were hungry until Chef Pierce brought in a cart filled with snacks, including gold medal cookies, and torches made from sugar cones filled with buttered popcorn. By time for dinner, the girls were growing quite tired. Another nearby room had been arrayed with three folding banquet tables covered with the evening meal. Dinner consisted of gold-medal vegetable dip with crisp veggies, Olympic rings of pizza, Olympic rings of fruit pizza with a chocolate cookie crust, and a champion chocolate cake. When they were all stuffed, Miss Scacchi handed out 45 medals. Everyone got at least one. Astrid got gold in Ms. Pacman and Chess, a silver in Q-bert, and a bronze in air hockey. The medals turned out to be chocolate. Then they all watched Chariots of Fire. When vans arrived to take everyone home, the girls were exhausted but happy. And all of them proclaimed Astrid’s party a success.

“We should have had your party planner two months ago,” said Denise. “Compared to this, our birthday parties sucked.”

“Well Astrid,” asked Miss Scacchi. “What did you think?”

“It was the best party I didn’t even realize I was throwing.”

Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space plane – Chapter 11 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space PlaneBetween homework and dinnertime, Astrid made use of the new sitting room to discuss a few things with Miss Scacchi.

“I’d like to leave for Detroit on the 17th if possible,” she said. “That way I can come home on the 21st, in time to watch the Nova 4 launch and with plenty of time to finish my Christmas shopping.”

“Would you like me to arrange a first class ticket?”

“No, I’ll take a company plane. In fact, I think I’ll fly it. The guys have been bugging me to get my pilot’s license. This will give me enough hours and will count as a cross-country solo flight. I would really appreciate it if you could make sure that I have everything I need for the trip.”

“Of course. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“How about helping me set up a girl’s weekend with Denise, Valerie, and Valerie. I’d like to do something special next weekend—really fancy it up, with invitations and everything. I think I’ve been neglecting them lately, especially Denise.”

“Leave it to me, Astrid.”

“Um, one more thing. I need to get ahold of Governor Hardgrave and ask him to give me an age waver for a student pilot’s license.”

“I’ll call him right away,” said the assistant.

The first part of the week seemed to stretch on forever, as Astrid was looking forward to the first test flight of Ariel, her space plane. When the scheduled time arrived for the test, Thursday afternoon, she stepped out onto the tarmac of the Maxxim airfield in her flight suit. Just as she had told her friends weeks before, Astrid would not be piloting the craft, though she felt more than capable. Instead, two Maxxim test pilots Hugh Chase and Carl Williams would be at the controls. The girl inventor would be along for the ride though, as navigator and flight analyst.

As soon as the three of them climbed aboard and strapped themselves into their seats, Chase called the control tower for clearance. Once they received the go ahead, he ignited the engines. Ariel rumbled to life.