Blown Away

Keir injects a little magic into Science Day at Great America. Enjoy! 

“Isn’t this cool?” Barry bubbled, dancing backward in front of Kier. They were heading to the Gold Striker Roller Coaster, the first stop on their quest.

Kier could only nod, too busy inventorying the stores and eateries and games on either side of them he wanted to check out later.

Around them, Great America hummed, a giant machine waiting to be activated. And it was just for them! He still couldn’t believe he was really there for the Physics-Science-Math day again. They had already picked up accelerometers to perform their tests while riding the coaster.

“I love that we get to ride roller coasters all day,” Barry said, excitement making his voice squeak.

“For science!” Kier shouted, punching the air with his fist.

“Science can be so awesome!”

Kier ran the last few feet to the entrance to the ride. Behind them, he could hear the rest of their class pounding along in their wake. He and Barry slalomed back and forth through the crowd control fences until they burst out into the waiting area.

“Damn, Em and Livy beat us here. They’ve already taken the front car.” Turning to Barry, he asked, “Whatcha wanna do? Sit behind them or take the last car?”

“I hate sitting in the back. You get tossed around too much and you can’t see where you’re going,” Barry complained.

That decided, they hustled into the second car of the train. In front of them, the girls giggled and collected their long hair into pony tails. Pulling the safety harness down, Kier glanced back to see the popular crowd filling the next two cars.

He whispered to Barry, “Oh great, the neanderthals are behind us.”

Barry tossed a look over his shoulder, “Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll fly off in the middle of the ride.”

It felt like only moments before their train jerked and clattered out of the station. As they were towed upward, Kier yelled out, “Hey, everybody, don’t forget to turn on your sensors!”

“Shut up, nerds! We’re not stupid.”

Kier swiveled around, glaring at the jocks sitting behind them. “I thought you might need a reminder, Zach, since you got yelled at last year for riding rides all day and not taking any measurements.”

The only reply he got was a growl.

Barry elbowed him. “Here we go!”

They both raised their arms as the roller coaster crested and then raced down the first hill. The wooden roller coaster threw them from side to side and bounced them up and down as it careened along the tracks.

After one particularly forceful turn, Kier felt the accelerometer slip from his grasp. Thankfully, the tether cord attached to his wrist kept it from flying out of the car. He jerked his wrist, trying to snatch the device out of the air. He missed, so he snapped the cord a second time. A sudden gust of wind pushed the accelerometer right into his grasping fingers.

“Woohoo!” Kier yelled, triumphant.

“Hold on,” Barry shouted, “this last turn is killer!”

The coaster tossed them violently from side to side before bouncing and dropping them twice in rapid succession.

From the car in front of them, Kier heard Em scream, “Nooo!”

The next thing he saw was a wall of vomit hurtling straight toward them. Kier raised his hands, trying to ward off the oncoming disaster. He felt something stir deep inside him, like an explosion of energy. His hands tingled and suddenly a wall of wind erupted from beneath his feet, deflecting the projectile vomit over their heads.

Behind him he heard Zach cursing. “What the fuck? How’d that miss everybody and hit us? Gross!”

Barry chortled. “That’s even better than them flying off in the middle of the ride!”

Kier stared at his hands. Did I do that? Nawww! Must have been some effect of the ride. But what if I did…?

He was still pondering that when they reached the station. He and Barry jumped off and headed for the exit while an attendant dealt with the mess.

After several more rides, Barry suggested they take a break for food.

Barry tossed back the last of his ICEE, lobbing the empty cup into a nearby trash can. “Two points!” he cheered. “Let’s go hit the games. I’m looking forward to beating you down. Just like last year.”

Kier groaned. Barry was luckier than anyone he knew. He always wins any game we play. Even the school raffle. He won tickets to a Raiders game. Last year when we were here, he won a four-foot-tall plush Snoopy in the ring toss. Everything just works for him. I hope it’s my turn to be lucky. If not, I get another year of Barry teasing me about my lack of skill.

Luck was not on his side. The first game Barry chose was the ring toss.

“I’m gonna get a giant Woodstock to go with my Snoopy,” he bragged.

They each handed the booth attendant five bucks and got a bucket of rings.

“I’ll let you have my leftovers after I win Woodstock,” Barry said laughing.

Kier just shook his head. Barry rushed to the center of the counter and began tossing. His first few rings missed the bottle tops as he gauged his distance, then they started landing on the outer bottles. Kier watched, tension mounting. Barry’s next toss teetered on the edge, almost slipping onto the top of the prize-winning bottle. No, not again, he groaned. Mentally he chanted, Please don’t fall on the bottle. Please don’t fall on the bottle.

Barry turned and smiled at him. “Watch this!” He threw another ring. It sailed beautifully through the air. Kier shook his head. His friend was going to win. Again.

He felt energy building inside him again, just like on the roller coaster. What have I got to lose? he thought. Raising his hand casually, he shoved.

A burst of wind came out of nowhere. The flying ring picked up speed and crashed into the first precariously balanced one, sending both bouncing between the bottles.

“What? How the hell did I miss that? Where did that breeze come from?” Barry turned, searching the area around them.

“Looks like your luck just ran out,” Kier sing songed, throwing a ring of his own. It bounced several times before landing half on the bottle in the center.

“Wow. Maybe after all this time, your luck has rubbed off on me.” Kier grinned. The scowl he got in return made up for all the times Barry had teased him.

“You haven’t won anything yet. If I missed a shot like that, what makes you think you can do it?”

Kier composed himself. I wanted his ring knocked off and a breeze shoved it, just like what happened on the roller coaster. Am I doing that? Well, it can’t hurt to try. This time, I’ll shove the wind down to bump my ring onto the bottle.

He pitched the ring underhanded, lobbing it up and toward the middle of the sea of bottles. When it was almost directly over his other ring, he pushed down with his thought. He felt the wind rush as the ring slammed downward, knocking his ring onto the bottleneck.

“I won! I won!” Kier shouted, dancing around pumping his fist into the air. “I finally beat you at something. Take that, sucker!” He pointed to the giant yellow bird hanging from the top of the booth. “I’ll take the Woodstock, please,” he told the booth attendant.

“I still have five more rings. I’m gonna get my own Woodstock.” He turned toward the bottles.

Kier concentrated. Each time Barry threw a ring, Kier pushed the wind to deflect it from landing on one of the bottles. This is so cool!

As each ring missed its mark, Barry’s face got redder and redder. As the last one shifted trajectory at the very last instant, Barry smacked the empty bucket off the counter, then turned and stalked away.

“I’m too old to have stuffed animals anyway. Let’s go do the rest of our measurements.”

As he watched his friend’s back, Kier thought, I can’t believe I’m controlling the wind. This could be a lot of fun. I need to practice, though. I wonder what else I can do….

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