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Authors: Mark Dunn

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Humorous Stories, #Science Fiction

The Age Altertron

BOOK: The Age Altertron
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The Calamitous Adventures
of Wayne and Rodney


Mark Dunn

ebook ISBN: 978-1-59692-823-7

M P Publishing Limited
12 Strathallan Crescent
Isle of Man
United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)1624 618672
email: [email protected]

Originally published by:
MacAdam Cage
155 Sansome Street, Suite 550
San Francisco, CA 94104

Copyright © 2009 Mark Dunn


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication

Dunn, Mark, 1956
Reluctant chrononauts / by Mark Dunn.
p. cm. —

(The calamitous adventures
of Rodney and Wayne, the age altertron; bk. 1)

Summary: In a small, mid-twentieth
century town that is secretly being used as a laboratory, thirteen-year-old
twins Rodney and Wayne and their physicist friend, Professor Johnson, face
a series of calamities including a time experiment that sends the boys from
infancy to old age in just a few days.

ISBN 978-1-59692-345-4 (alk.

[1. Time travel—Fiction.
2. Experiments—Fiction. 3. Scientists—Fiction. 4. Twins—Fiction. 5. Brothers—Fiction.]
I. Title. PZ7.D92167Rel 2009 [Fic]—dc22

Book design by Dorothy Carico Smith
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


This book is dedicated
to the memory of my twin brother Clay
who was a little bit of Rodney
and a whole lot of Wayne
In which Rodney and Wayne wake one morning to
discover that something isn’t quite right…again

enerally, it was Rodney who woke first, though, on
occasion, his twin brother Wayne, who had a better
nose for morning bacon than Rodney, would be off
and down the stairs before Rodney knew it. But most often it was
the younger of the two brothers who rose first and who knew first
what kind of a day it was going to be.

Now, some days were fine and exactly what Rodney and Wayne
expected them to be. Aunt Mildred would have breakfast waiting
and a cheery “good morning” for both of her thirteen-year-old
great-nephews. Sometimes there would be more than just bacon on
the table. Rodney and Wayne would sit down to oatmeal with
cinnamon or cinnamon buns or cinnamon toast. Aunt Mildred was
quite fond of cinnamon and would sprinkle it on whatever she
could, and her great-nephews Rodney and Wayne hardly ever
complained (except when she put it on the scrambled eggs, because
then the eggs tasted odd).

Aunt Mildred, you see, had begun craving cinnamon several
months earlier when everything that was granular and sprinkleable in the town of Pitcherville was turned to cinnamon. This
included most of the herbs and spices on Aunt Mildred’s kitchen
herb and spice shelf, but also all the bath powder and tooth powder
in town, and even all the sand in all the town sandboxes!

be the kind of
thirteen-year-old boy you most wanted to be.

These were the days in which men wore brimmed hats to work
and women wore hats of their own that sat flat and funny upon the
head. These were the long-gone days in which the milkman
brought not only milk but fresh creamy butter to your door, and the
egg man brought eggs, and there were also people who came to
your door to sell you brushes and vacuum cleaners or came to give
you something they felt was important for you to read. These were
the days in which television sets had rabbit-ear antennas that sat on
the top and spindly antennas affixed to the roof, antennas that
would pull three whole channels down from the sky, each channel
giving you every kind of cowboy story you could ask for. And the
only computer in town was the one to be found at Pitcherville
College. It occupied nearly every inch of one whole room where it
blinked and beeped and spat out punch cards.

Then there were the
mornings—the mornings when things were not
right at all. Sometimes Rodney would wake, still drowsy with sleep, and wonder
to himself, even before he had opened his eyes: “Will this be a normal day,
or will it be one of the
kind?” And he only needed to open his
eyes to learn the answer!

One Saturday morning in September, Rodney and Wayne woke to discover that everything
in their town was the color of ripe peaches. Wayne pulled back the covers from
his peach-colored bed and slapped his bare feet upon the peach-colored rug that
covered the peach-colored floor of the bedroom he shared with his brother. He
went to the window and looked out and could hardly tell one thing from another,
because the lawn, the trees, the street upon which the boys lived—everything
that he could see from his window— was the same color.

“Hey, get a load of this!” Wayne exclaimed to Rodney, as he waved him over to
the window. (Rodney could hardly see Wayne’s waving arm, since it was the same
color as the wall.) “It looks like Mr. Lipe’s car just crashed into Mr. Edwards’
car, and lookit over there.”
“Where I’m pointing. Squint your eyes a little. See Mrs. Carter and Mrs.Wyatt?
They’re both sitting on the sidewalk rubbing their heads. It looks like they
just bumped their heads together.”
The boys stood for a moment longer at the window, whistling in wonderment, before
putting on their weekend clothes and going down to join their aunt in the kitchen.
“It’s terrible, just terrible, boys!” said Aunt Mildred in a fretful tone. “Everything
is the color of peaches—everything except for peaches themselves. For some reason
they’re now

Wayne picked up one of the blue peaches from the fruit bowl on the table. “I
wonder if they still taste like peaches.”
“Well, there’s no time to find out. You must go to Professor Johnson’s house
this instant and ask him how long we’re going to have to endure this. It’s a
terrible inconvenience—worse than all the others that have befallen this unfortunate
town. While you are speaking to him, ask him why we deserve this—why should
we always be put to such trouble? I would take you boys by the hand and run
away from this place as fast as our six legs could carry us were it not for
that dastardly force field that prevents any of us from leaving.”
Aunt Mildred sat down in her peach-colored chair and fanned herself with a peach-colored
Ladies’ Home Journal
that was otherwise useless to her now.
Wayne went to his aunt and kissed her on the forehead. He stepped back and stood,
posed just the way his favorite comic book hero, Mighty Mike, stood, with one
hand upon his hip and the other raised in the air as if he were about to give
a speech. Standing in this silly way, Wayne proclaimed, “Have no fear, kind
lady! The evil that lives behind this…this…”

,” said Rodney, trying to be helpful.
“Peachiness—it will not stand! And now, my faithful companion Rodney, let us
fly to the laboratory of good Professor Johnson.”
Rodney hated the role of the faithful companion to Mighty Mike. The superhero’s
true companion, Beaver Boy, was generally ignored by Mighty Mike except when
he needed a dam built.
On their way to Professor Johnson’s home laboratory, the boys were careful not
to collide with any trees or mailboxes or lampposts. “Aunt Mildred is wrong,”
said Rodney. “This is not the worst thing that has ever happened to the town
of Pitcherville. I can think of a dozen other calamities that were much worse
than this one.”
Then the boys began to list all of the strange things that had happened to Pitcherville
in the last eleven months. Rodney and Wayne remembered the day that the Troubles
had started; it was the same day their father disappeared. It was also the day
that Professor Johnson, not knowing about Rodney and Wayne’s father, had come
to deliver his own sad news: his laboratory assistant Ivan and two professors
at his college had vanished without a clue. The Professor was going from house
to house helping the police with their search. He was also curious to know if
his neighbors were having the same sort of personal trouble that he was having.
The personal trouble was this: every time the Professor opened his mouth to
speak, all that came out was a series of numbers. And when the Professor looked
all about him, he saw nothing but numbers in all the places where words usually
appeared: throughout his daily newspaper, for example, or inside his copies
Science Today
magazine. All the words on the street signs and store
signs had also been replaced by numbers. Even the town billboards had only numbers
on them. For example, the Plash Detergent billboard didn’t sell Plash Detergent
anymore. It sold a product called “86-42,” although it had the same picture
on it as before: a happy woman holding up clothes that gleamed with cleanness.
In answer to Professor Johnson’s numerical inquiry, Rodney shrugged and said,
And this was why it took two full days for Professor Johnson to learn that Rodney
and Wayne’s father, Mitch McCall, had also been among those townspeople who
were later to be remembered as “The Vanished.” Until the Professor succeeded
in completing his Alpha-Numerical Transferal Machine and activating it to correct
this problem of words being turned into numbers, conversations between the boys
and their new professorial friend generally went something like this:
“Five-hundred-fifty-four—four-hundred-and-nine—three— twenty-two,” said Rodney
in a calm but worrisome voice.
“Sixty-six-thousand-and-one,” said Wayne, nodding eagerly.
“Thirty-three—six-hundred-and-seventy-two,”replied Professor Johnson with a
perplexed look (because he had no clue what it was that the boys had just said).
was far worse than this peach thing,” recalled Rodney.
Wayne nodded. “And the
was even worse that
town was so full of bubbles that you could hardly move without squeaking and
feeling cleaner than a person generally cares to feel.”
“Remember last spring when everybody’s arms turned into flippers?” asked Rodney.
Flip Out
? Boy do I!” replied Wayne. “It took me almost an hour just
to put on my pajamas! And we couldn’t watch any of our favorite television programs
because nobody could turn the knob that switches the set on.”
lasted a whole week!”
“Because that was before we started helping Professor Johnson. Notice that he
does a much faster job fixing these problems when we can lend him a hand.”
“Or a flipper,” added Rodney, with a grin.

BOOK: The Age Altertron
7.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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