Authors: Tony Abbott
“Ahem!” said Mr. Bell, clearing his throat. “Very interesting. Next!” He and Miss Lieberman stepped over to another table.
“I guess I don't win anything,” Jeff sighed, pulling his goggles off and staring at the Gizmo.
Mike patted him on the shoulder. “Only one person can win, Jeff. And I've gotâ
“Actually, son,” Mr. Bell said, walking back over. “Your little radio doesn't seem to work at all.”
Mike raced over to the table. He flipped the on switch over and over. Nothing. Not a sound.
Principal Bell put his hands on his hips and frowned at the radio. “I can see you and your vegetable need a moment. We'll be back.”
Liz leaned over to Mike. “Why don't you just give that potato a good scrub? It's filthy.”
“Great idea,” said Mike. “Can't have dirt on the invention of the century!” He unplugged Potadio and dashed down the hall and into the bathroom. He ran the potato under warm water.
Lots of dirt washed off.
Mike wondered whether the potato felt the warm water like he did. Did potatoes have feelings like people? It was alive, after all. Potatoes do grow.
What are you washing me for?
Mike chuckled to himself. Wouldn't it be weird if the potato actually said that?
“Hey, kid, I asked you a question. You planning to cook me, or what? Don't eat me, pal.”
Mike looked all around the room. It was empty. “Wait, who said that?”
But at that momentâ
âa horrible, bloodcurdling scream pierced the bathroom!
It was coming from the science fair!
It was coming from Liz!
Sound Can Change the World
ike raced back to the science fair, clutching his damp potato. When he burst into the gym, he saw a huge metal machine smashing through the tables after Liz!
On the front of the machine was a big hand attached to a long metal arm. A powerful spring was coiled under the arm.
“Help!” Liz cried, as she fell against the bleachers. She kicked at the giant hand coming down at her. It moved closer and closer.
Mike dived. With one quick move he pushed Liz out of the way just as the metal hand lunged.
The machine stopped.
A small slit opened on the top of the machine and two faces appeared.
Mike looked up at the faces. “Sean? Holly?”
The faces smiled. “Cool project, huh?” shouted Holly Vickers. “It's a catapult!”
“Thanks a lot, friends!” Liz snarled. She got up and dusted herself off.
Mr. Bell strode through the tables as Holly and her brother Sean popped out the top of the catapult and jumped down to the floor. “Ah, the glories of invention!” the principal boomed.
“And all from spare parts,” said Holly.
“It can hurl objects hundreds of feet in the air,” added Sean. He looked at Mike, who was still on the floor. “Let's try it with the potato that Mike's got.” Sean reached for Potadio.
“No!” Mike cried. “That's my project!”
Sean raised his eyebrows. “Oh, sorry, Mike.” Then he grinned. “Enormous metal catapult versus dusty little potato. Hmm. I wonder who'll win.”
Mike glanced down at the small lump resting in his hand. Now that it was all clean, he noticed lots of scratches and scars all over it.
The potato looked kind of sad.
“Sorry, little spud,” Mike whispered. “I guess you don't stand a chance against that big thing.”
“Dad thinks our project is so good,” said Sean, “he's going to make a movie with it. He's going to call it
Scary Evil Robot Ghost Gremlins from Another Scary Dimension!”
“Because plain old regular gremlins just aren't scary enough,” said Holly, with a smile.
Sean and Holly's father was Todd Vickers, the not-so-famous movie director and owner of Humongous Horror Movie Studios. His movies were scary, but usually not very good.
Suddenly, the doors of the gym flew open and in stepped a tall man. He had fluffy blond hair, a slim suit, and shiny black shoes.
The crowd of kids and teachers grew hushed.
“Who's that?” whispered one kid.
“Yeah, who?” whispered another.
The blond man stepped slowly to the center of the gym, holding up a microphone.
He squinted out across the crowd. He began to curl his lips into a wide grin. He raised an eyebrow slowly. Very slowly.
“Storm,” he announced. “Rock Storm. That's my name and hosting is my game! I've come all the way from WYRD Radio to host your science awards show!” Then he looked around. “Hey, everybodyâhow's my hair?”
“Ahem!” Principal Bell said, walking over from the other side of the gym and bending over the microphone. “We're pleased to invite you to our display of junior scientific genius andâ”
“Sure, sure, school-head-guy,” Rock Storm broke in. “But let me do the announcing, okay?”
Rock Storm began by stepping over to Mike's table. Sean, Holly, and Jeff came over and stood next to Mike and Liz.
“Hey, look at this,” said Rock, smirking down at the potato. “Is it lunchtime already? Ha-ha!”
“Actually, sir,” Mike began, “these green sprouts here are called the eyes. And these wires convert the acid in the potato to electricity. I cleaned everything, so it should work now.”
Mike inserted the final wire and flipped the switch on the transistor radio. The tiny round speaker sputtered. Little blue lines of electricity seemed to flash from the wires. The brown lump with green sprouty eyes wobbled on the table.
“It's gonna do it,” Mike cried out. “Everyone, prepare to hear radio!” The speaker hummed. It squealed.
Everyone smacked their hands over their ears and winced at the high-pitched squeaking!
Mike twisted the radio dials. “It's coming!”
Just then, Mrs. Carbonese shuffled over. She held a little camera in front of her face. “Everybodyâsmile!”
The burst of light from the flash seemed to shoot right at the potato, and for an instant the wires glowed white, then red, then blue!
Mike blinked at the bright flash.
“My eyes! My eyes! Hey, watch that camera, lady! You trying to blind me?”
Everyone went quiet.
Mrs. Carbonese's face dropped.
Her camera dropped.
She pointed a sharp quivering finger at Mike, nearly sticking it up his nose. “This boy said rude words to me!” Then she fumbled for her police whistle and blew hard.
Everyone turned to Mike and frowned.
Mike turned to his potato and frowned.
The Power to Control the Mind!
t wasn't me,” cried Mike, pointing to his table. “It was him. The potato, the radio, Potadio!”
“Don't yodel at me, rude boy,” cried Mrs. Carbonese. Then she picked up her camera and clacked off down the aisle in her high-heeled shoes.
Mr. Bell frowned deeply at Mike and moved on to another table with Rock Storm.
Mike turned to his friends. “Really, guys, it was him. The potato said that.”
Liz shook her head and sighed. “Sure, Mike.”
“He talked to me before, too,” Mike went on. “When I was washing him in the bathroom.”
“Right,” said Sean with a laugh. “And what did he say? âDon't eat me.'?”
Mike blinked at Sean. “Actually, he did.”
Jeff nodded. “Well, if I were a vegetable and somebody was washing me, that's probably what I would say. âDon't eat me.' You know?”
Liz made a face. “This is too weird for me. We're talking about a potato, okay? They don't talk. They can't think. They're just lumpy food.”
“Of course I'm in a grumpy mood,” Mrs. Carbonese snapped back over her shoulder. “That rude boy said bad words to me.” She stared at Mike as if she were going to blow her whistle again, then she clacked off between the tables.
Liz looked at her friends and tapped her ears. “Mrs. C. is sort of hard-of-hearing.”
“Now, let's get going, people!” Rock Storm boomed into the microphone. “I've got a call-in show in half an hour. Wouldn't want the world to miss that!”
Principal Bell, Miss Lieberman, and Mrs. Carbonese went up on the stage with the announcer.
“It's time for the big prize to be awarded,” Rock Storm said. “And I think we all agree that one project here today is quite an achievement.”
Mike glanced at the big catapult towering over all the other projects. He saw Sean smile at his sister, breathe on his fingernails, and buff them on his shirt. They're going to win, thought Mike.
His little Potadio didn't look so great anymore. He ran a finger across a gash in the potato's skin. “I wonder if it hurt when he got that.”
Liz turned. “Don't get weird on me, Mike. It's a vegetable, not a pal. But, listen, with my ears all stuffed up, I can't hear the awards. Let's get closer.” She walked over to the stage.
Mike just kept looking down at the Potadio. “We'll never win.”
Suddenly, tiny sparks began to shoot off the wires connecting the vegetable to the radio.
Zzzz! Sput! Sput!
The sparks flashed white, blue, and red and rippled along the wires.
The potato began to twitch on the table.
“Hey!” Mike leaned over. “What's going on?”
The radio's speaker began to crackle and hiss. Then it made a sound. “Pssssst!”
“Huh?” Mike put his ear to the speaker.
“Pssst!” the thing hissed again. Then the potato twitched a little. Then it spoke. “Hey, Mike!”
Mike's eyes went wide. His mouth fell open.
“Yeah, kid, I'm talking to you!” the potato hissed. “Your name's Mike, right?”
“Yeah â¦ but â¦ you're â¦ you're â¦ a â¦”
“Well, I'm not a grapefruit!” chuckled the potato. “Listen, thanks for zapping me with all these wires and stuff. And that camera flash gave me a jolt of juice, too. Boy, I feel like a million bucks!”
“Uh-huh,” said Mike, wondering if he was really hearing what he thought he was hearing.
“Hold on to your hat, Mikey boy,” the potato said. “And watch this!”
Mike saw the vegetable's rough, brown skin wrinkle all over then stretch out, as if the potato were taking a deep breath!
All of a suddenâ
âthe gash on the top of the potato split open! Underneath the rough skin was a ripply pink blob. It pushed itself up and began to throb. It bulged. It stretched.
“Is that a â¦?” gasped Mike. “What is it?”
“Well, it's not my flavorful cheesy topping!” snorted the Potadio. “Now watch what happens when I do this!” The pink bulge began to turn purple as the potato groaned and twitched.
Suddenly, Rock Storm screamed out. “The winner isâisâisâungh!â
“Whoa!” shrieked Mike, jumping up and down. “I can't believe it! This is so cool!”
At that moment, Principal Bell, Miss Lieberman, Rock Storm, and all the other teachers rushed down from the stage and crowded around Mike and his Potadio.
They slapped their ears and began to sing.
Oh, wondrous Potadio,
Not just a radio,
But so much more!
“What? What?” Liz stammered, squeezing through the crowd. “Everyone's gone Zoner!”
And the Zoners sang a second verse!
Oh, don't you nibble
He's so much more!
The potato's pink bulge went purple again.
Suddenly, Rock Storm's head jerked back. He raised the microphone to his lips. “Yes, master!” he murmured. “At once, master!”
The announcer grabbed Liz's skateboard, jumped on, started the motor, and roared off through the tables.
“Hey!” cried Liz. “He's stealing my project!”
About the Author
Over the last two decades, Tony Abbott has written dozens of mysteries, comics, and adventure books for young readers aged six to fourteen, with series including Danger Guys, the Time Surfers, the Weird Zone, Underworlds, Goofballs, and the long-running fantasy series the Secrets of Droon. He is also the author of the fantasy epic Kringle and the realistic novels
(winner of the 2006 Golden Kite Award for Fiction),
(winner of the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery), and
. Among his latest novels is
The Forbidden Stone
, the first installment of the twelve-book saga the Copernicus Legacy. Tony has taught on the faculty of Lesley University's MFA program in creative writing, is a frequent conference speaker and visitor to schools, and presents workshops to creative writers of all ages. His websites include
, and the literary blog
All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this ebook or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright Â© 1996 by Robert Abbott
Cover design by Connie Gabbert
This edition published in 2014 by Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
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New York, NY 10014