I was doing a Q & A with a
local school not long ago, and one of the kids asked if I ever use real stories in my books. Right away I thought of this story, that made it into Time Jam. It’s a silly story–and pretty disgusting!–but it really happened!
EXCERPT FROM TIME JAM:
“No, seriously, man.” Zach peeled a blackened chunk of pterosaur steak from the engine and tossed it onto a growing pile of burnt flesh and filthy rags they planned to burn later. “This has gotta be, like, one of the top five most disgusting jobs I’ve ever had.”
He shuddered as he plucked an unidentifiable piece of pterosaur from the engine, holding it between two fingers the way he’d hold a dead snake.
“Probably top three.”
Chase laughed again. “Top three? What in the world is number one?”
Zach didn’t even pause to think about it. “Snowahlamie Mountain.”
Chase stopped what he was doing, suddenly nauseated. “Oh, jeez,” he said. He not only knew what Zach was referring to, but ranked the experience as his own number one.
“Hey, don’t hold out,” Captain Jenks said as he tried to loosen a stiff bolt. “What happened?”
“Last winter,” Zach said. “Me’n Chase and my ten-year-old cousin Brex were snowboarding at Snowahlamie Mountain. Out in Utah?”
“Dinosaur country,” the pilot said. He gritted his teeth as he leaned against the stubborn bolt. “Okay …”
“There’s a big lodge halfway down the mountain,” Chase added. “And one of the underground sewer lines burst.”
Zach: “It wasn’t real deep, and all the warm … sludge … began eroding away the dirt, and the snow—”
Chase: “Making a hole about five feet across—”
Zach: “And filling it with … sludge—”
Chase: “But people coming down the hill couldn’t see it.”
Captain Jenks stopped work on the bolt to listen.
“We saw it,” Zach said, nodding to Chase. “And just barely missed it. But because it had just happened, the resort didn’t know anything about it—”
Chase: “We didn’t know what to do—”
Zach: “So Chase called nine-one-one.”
Captain Jenks: “You called nine-one-one?”
Chase spread his hands. “Hey—who you gonna call?”
Zach laughed. “And the poor dispatcher thought we were prankin’ her. Chase kept saying, ‘Seriously!’ and ‘I’m not kidding!’ and ‘This is for real, man!’ ”
Captain Jenks: “So what happened?”
Chase: “Dispatcher finally called the ski patrol—”
Captain Jenks: “The ski patrol?”
Chase: “Yeah, I didn’t get it either.”
Zach: “But then we looked up the hill—”
Chase: “And here comes Zach’s little cousin Brex.”
Chase and Zach exchanged somber glances.
“He was flying down the hill,” Zach said. “I mean, if it was the Olympics, he would have gotten the gold.”
Chase: “We started waving and yelling—”
Zach: “But he thought we were telling him to go faster—”
Captain Jenks could see where the story was going and began to chuckle.
“Yeah,” Zach said, seeing the pilot had figured it out. “And he went right in—”
Chase: “Massive belly flop—”
Zach: “Right into the … sludge.”
Both boys shook their heads.
“We had to help him out of the hole,” Zach said. “I mean, he was literally drowning in it—”
Chase: “Flopping around like a fish—”
Zach: “Splashing his arms—”
Chase: “Still strapped to his snowboard—”
Zach: “And man … it was horrible.”
“You can’t even imagine how bad it was,” Chase said. “A ski patrolman finally came to help—”
Zach: “His name was Chase, too—”
“Yeah,” Chase said, remembering. “He took us down to the patrol locker room where they have showers so we could clean Brex up and stuff. But still”—he shuddered—“it was the worst! I mean, I’ve never, ever, been around anything so disgusting.”
“We just threw his clothes away,” Zach said. “I mean, who’d want to ever wear ’em again?”
Chase: “We found him some stuff in lost-and-found to wear home. And poor Brex drenched himself in cologne and aftershave every day for a month, thinking he still smelled like … well, you know.”
Zach: “It was like a mental thing: no matter what he did and no matter how many times he showered, he was certain he could still smell it. For like a month!”
Chase shuddered again, then turned back to the gooey mess in the engine.
“You know, come to think of it,” he said, getting back to work, “this really isn’t all that bad …”
Ooh! I can’t read that without shuddering! And remember, it really happened! And it reminds me of the time . . . well, we’ll save that story for another time!