Author : Glenn Blakeslee
Outside Dad’s shop stood a steel one-hundred-twenty foot tall hyperboloid structure. My brother had his eye on it.
They say Delvin is a genius but he’s just my big brother. He’s weird, and skinny with piercings and tats. When he’s not making stuff he’s reading thick science books.
The structure was a water tank with ‘Arcada’ painted on the side in four-foot high letters. A slender column, fluted at the bottom, supported the tank. My brother had bartered for three hundred feet of superconducting tape, and it was his idea to wrap the water tank.
“This is just an experiment,” he said. “If we wrap the tank the steel should magnify the electromagnetic effect.”
“Why?” I asked as we cut the chain link fence surrounding the tank.
“We’re gonna get a meteorite,” he said, and grinned.
I pulled the backing off the tape as Delvin positioned it. I got a ladder from Dad’s shop and we wound the tape high around the column. The tank was illuminated, high above our heads, by spotlights pointed at the city’s name. By the time Delvin burnished the last of the tape and pulled the leads down the sun was rising. We grabbed the ladder, clipped the fence shut, and went home to sleep.
“Tonight’s the night, Punky,” Delvin said. It pissed me off when he called me Punky. “The Perseids will peak.”
After dark we pulled cable from Dad’s generator through the fence. “We can’t really grab a meteor,” Delvin said. “But we might deflect one outside of town.”
“Then what?” I asked.
“We find it, dig it up, and sell it for big bucks.”
We connected the tape to the cable’s terminal box, wrapped it with duct tape, and then sat outside the fence. At two in the morning the shower’s radiant was overhead, and I ran inside and fired up the generator. We waited, and then Delvin threw the switch.
Nothing happened at first. The generator labored and the tape hummed. The high sky overhead was streaked with meteors. Something nicked me, like a mosquito bite, and I heard a staccato sound, like hail on a cymbal.
“Nails!” Delvin said. He pushed me down, into the dirt.
I heard something like little thunder, and looked over to see the sheet metal on Dad’s shop flex and bow outwards. Metal screws popped out like rifle fire, and the cable began stretching toward the tank. I could hear thuds and screeches coming from all around us.
I was trying to crawl away when Delvin yelled over the din, “Look up!” I rolled over in time to see the top of the tank explode in a shower of sparks. Hot pieces of metal showered the ground, and I heard something explode in the sideyard of Dad’s shop. Delvin fumbled at the terminal, and a swash of cold water splashed over us, flooding the ground.
We recoiled as a shower of nails and screws and metal objects fell from the suddenly demagnetized structure of the tank.
“What now, Genius?” I asked Delvin.
“Grab the cable,” he said, “And run like hell.”
An hour later the sheriff was at our house.
The next morning, in the churned-up sideyard, Dad handed me a shovel. “Dig,” was all he said.
It was easy digging, but it still took me a few hours. By the end of the day I’d uncovered a twenty-four-pound meteorite. It was a beautiful iron-nickel specimen, its surface burnished and pitted by ablation, and run through with veins of what appeared to be gold.
We used the money to bail Delvin out of jail.