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Authors: Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman

Edison’s Alley

BOOK: Edison’s Alley
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Text copyright © 2015 by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman
Cover illustration © 2015 by Cliff Nielsen
Cover design by Maria Elias

All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney • Hyperion, 125 West End
Avenue, New York, New York 10023.

ISBN 978-1-4231-5518-8

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www.DisneyBooks.com

Contents

To all the teachers and librarians out there making a difference in kids’ lives

—N.S.

For the science teachers who inspired me, and all the teachers who encouraged me, and for Jan, Robby, and Mom

—E.E.

D
r. Alan Jorgenson, undisputed commander and chief of the Accelerati, rang the doorbell of the old house, ready to meet with his
superior—because in this world, even the boss has a boss. While one may presume to be the big cheese, there is always a larger, more pungent one to contend with.

And as big cheeses go, few could be more pungent than the one who gave Jorgenson his marching orders.

The housekeeper opened the door and beamed at him as he stepped in. “A right pleasure to see you, Mr. Jorgenson,” she said.


Doctor
Jorgenson,” he corrected.

“Yes, yes, ’ow silly of me.”

Jorgenson looked around. The house hadn’t changed in years. It never did. There was comfort in that for an agent of change like himself. Knowing that some things were forever gave him a
bit of grounding.

“’E’s been waiting for you, ’e ’as,” the housekeeper said with a pronounced cockney accent, as if she’d been dragged from the gutters of industrial
England.

To the best of Jorgenson’s knowledge, the housekeeper had never been to England, much less come from there. If anything, she should’ve had a Germanic sensibility, as her gearworks
had come from a fine watch factory in Düsseldorf. Her owner, even though he was American, preferred a British touch to his domestic life. Even the air in the house smelled of musty Victorian
sensibility.

“’E’s in the parlor. Would you like a spot of tea, dear? I ’ave some nice Oolongevity, or English breakfast.”

“Just water will be fine, Mrs. Higgenbotham.”

“Would you prefer your water transdimensionally filtered, or just from the tap?”

“Tap will do, thank you.”

“Quantum-chilled or—”

“Just
bring
it.”

“As you wish, guv’nor.”

The parlor, as always, was dark. The aged man in the tall red leather chair was surrounded by his perpetual cloud of cigar smoke. “Good evening, Al,” he said.

Jorgenson sat down. “And to you, Al,” he said back.

Such was their standard greeting.

Jorgenson waited for his eyes to adjust to the dimness, but he knew they never would, so low was the light.
What irony,
thought Jorgenson,
that this man, a luminary, would come to
despise light
. Or perhaps he just couldn’t bear to see luminaries who shone even brighter than he.

“I suppose I should congratulate you,” the old man said, “for the fact that your team’s incompetence did not bring about the end of the world.”

Jorgenson grimaced as he recalled the massive asteroid that had come so close to wiping out all life on Earth only a few weeks earlier. “I take full responsibility for that
debacle.”

“Noble of you to accept the blame,” the old man said from within his cloud of smoke, “but there were other forces at play. It was out of your control from the
beginning.”

For Jorgenson, the idea of anything being out of his control was like a slap in the face. Yet he had to admit that even with a mass of technology, money, and influence at his fingertips, he
could not have affected the Felicity Bonk incident. “This Nick Slate boy and his friends are shrewder than we gave them credit for.”

“Yes, the boy,” the old man said with a sigh. “We will deal with him when the time comes. An honor I shall leave to you.”

Jorgenson smiled. “Believe me, it will be my pleasure.”

“But
only
when the time comes. In the meantime, there are other things to consider—”

At the creak of a floorboard, Jorgenson turned to see Mrs. Higgenbotham walk in with a glass of water that had hardened into ice the color of a glacier. “We’re ’avin’
trouble with the quantum-coolin’ thingamajig. But you know what they say: ‘When everything is right with the world, even squirrels sing.’ And who wants singin’
squirrels?” She patted him on the shoulder. “It’ll melt eventually.”

“Don’t you find it curious,” the old man asked, once the housekeeper had left, “that the Bonk asteroid has settled into an orbit as stable as the moon’s?”

Jorgenson knew where this was going, but he played along anyway. “Some call it luck. Some say it’s divine intervention—”

The old man waved his hand at the very suggestion. Smoke eddied in a lazy whirlpool. “It is neither, and you know it. Rather it is part of a plan—a very
human
plan—devised by a great mind. Unfortunately, that mind was not great enough to know what was good for it.” Then the old man smiled. “Which is why
we
will be reaping the
benefits of Tesla’s greatest endeavor.” He pointed his cigar at Jorgenson. “In the short term, it is
your
efforts that will make all the difference, however.”

Then the old man blew smoke with such force that it bridged the distance between them, filling Jorgenson’s nostrils and stinging his eyes. “I expect you, as the head of the
Accelerati, to impress me,” the old man said, with a fair measure of threat in his voice. “I will settle for nothing less.”

Jorgenson gripped his chair as if it might fly out from under him. “And in the long term?” he asked. “I suspect you have a plan of your own, do you not?”

“I do,” said the old man, leaning forward for the first time. “A spectacular one.”

T
he world had not ended…which was very inconvenient.

Celestial Object Felicity Bonk—the unlikely name of the asteroid that had been on a collision course with Earth—rather than obliterating life as we know it, could now be seen in the
night sky. It was nowhere near the size of the moon, of course, but it appeared larger than a planet.

After a brief period of celebration lasting less than a week, the world returned to its pre-Bonk patterns. The horrors of war, oppression, and reality TV, all of which might have been ended by
the well-placed meteor strike, were back in force, and Nick Slate was left having to unscrew the massive screwup that had brought everything to the brink of extinction. He was taking that
responsibility seriously.

Slowly but surely, Nick and his friends were gathering the strange objects that Nick had sold in his garage sale a few weeks ago and returning them to his attic. Today’s recovery mission
was going to be a challenge. It would require Nick and his friend Caitlin’s combined powers of persuasion, iron wills, and most likely, money that they didn’t have.

“How certain are you that this is the same man from your garage sale?” Caitlin asked as she and Nick approached a house overgrown with unpruned hedges and low-limbed trees.

“I could be wrong,” Nick told her, “but I do remember a loud fat guy at the garage sale, and this dude certainly fits the bill.”

Caitlin glared at him. “It’s cruel and insensitive to call a person who is morbidly obese a ‘fat guy.’ I have an uncle who struggles with that, and I can tell you,
it’s not an easy cross to bear.”

“Sorry,” Nick said. To look at Caitlin, he couldn’t imagine anyone in her family being anything but beautiful and slender, or at least well groomed and proportional.
“I’d call him a ‘large gentleman,’ but there’s nothing gentlemanly about him. He’s a creep, at any poundage.”

Caitlin nodded and sighed. “Creeps do come in all shapes and sizes.”

Nick had run into him at the grocery store, where the man was bitterly arguing with the store manager over the price of a casaba melon. Nick had seen him switch a product code sticker from a
less expensive piece of fruit. Although he could have ratted the man out, he let it play through, all the while awed by the guy’s audacity and the fact that any human being would get into a
fight over a melon. Something about the way he bickered made Nick remember how one customer had aggressively haggled over the price of an item in his now-notorious garage sale. He realized that
this was the same quarrelsome dude.

“Do you remember what he bought?” Caitlin asked. Both of them were hesitant to walk up to the man’s front door.

“I can’t be sure,” Nick said, “but I think it was a weight machine.”

When one holds a garage sale, one never expects to see the junk sold to unsuspecting neighbors ever again. But when the garage-sale items are the lost inventions of the
world’s greatest scientist, the word “oops” doesn’t begin to cover it.

Perhaps if Tesla hadn’t disguised them all as normal household objects, Nick might have had a clue that the things in his attic each had a greater purpose. Now Nick understood that the
inventor hadn’t wanted them to be discovered by the secret society of scientists known as the Accelerati. But Nick hadn’t known that at the time, and the inventions had been dispersed
into the world to wreak their peculiar sort of havoc.

And yet Nick had to wonder, in spite of the clear and present danger the objects posed, if there was also a method to the madness. Perhaps everything that had happened was part of the
inventor’s master plan.

For instance, his brother unwittingly pulled an asteroid into a collision course with Earth using a cosmic attractor disguised as a baseball mitt. Could it be coincidence that his father had
swung a celestial deflector disguised as a baseball
bat
?

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