by Charles M. Bonanno

It'll work!

No, it won't!

I'm telling you, it will!

No! It won't! And you're not going to drag me into another one of your crazy schemes!

Come on! Who's the chemistry major here? I'm telling you I've got it all figured out!

And I'm a physics major! All you're gonna do is get us in trouble again!

Who? Me?

Who else? You almost got us both kicked out college last semester!

How was I supposed to know my special fuel additive would cause that engine to explode?

Sure. I believe you. But did you really have to try it out on the Dean's car? We still owe him five hundred bucks for a new motor. That's probably the only reason he didn't expel us. He wants his money. Hey! That reminds me. You owe the frat house forty five bucks!

What for?

Don't play dumb with me! I saw you sneaking outside with all our junk food. You know the house rules; you eat it, you replace it!

But I didn't eat it.

Well, then. Who did?

He did.

All of it?

Every last crumb.

That's impossible! Are you telling me he ate twenty pounds of Red-Hot barbeque flavored nachos?

Bags and all.

Damn! And the extra-large cans of French style onion dip?

Chomped 'em good. Swallowed a few, but mostly spit out the empties.

And the fifteen half-gallon plastic bottles of Super Carbonated Old Style Root Beer?

Couldn't unscrew 'em. Just bit off the tops and chugged 'em down.

He ate a month's worth of TV snacks in one sitting?

In about three minutes I'd say.

At least he didn't get his claws on my secret stash of Slim Jims and Jalapeno Beef Jerky.

Ahhh. I meant to...

You didn't! Man! Now I'm royally ticked off! How did you find 'em?

'Secret stash?' Gimme a break! Anyone with a nose could tell you'd stashed them under the couch.

All ten pounds?

In one swallow. Didn't chew once. It took me half an hour to unwrap 'em and they were gone in five seconds.

That's another fifty bucks ya owe me!

Sure. Put 'em on my tab.

Are you telling me junk food is your secret?

Pretty much.

Does he suspect anything? Surely he knows that you're up to something.

Not a clue in either case. He's pretty used to me being around. I've been cheering him on every day since he changed.

Can't he feel something when it happens?

Maybe if he's sitting motionlessly inside a room, but not outside when his wings and scales are clanking away like mad. He's about as stealthy as a twelve piece brass band!

But what about the...

Heck if I know. Haven't seen him go behind a tree yet. Must have some weird kind of digestive system. But there's no mistaking the byproducts if you're downwind!

I still say it's impossible. You'd have to strap a rocket onto his back.

Isn't it amazing how great minds think alike?

So where's he now?

Like every morning. He's out behind the gym warming up for another try. Ya gotta admire his persistence.

See! Even you admit it will never work!

How can you say that? What about last week?

That was a fluke and you know it! He's lucky he didn't crash and burn! Look here... see this graph on my palmtop?


Are you blind? Look here.... and here... and here too. I compared his aerodynamic design to everything in the biology department's flight dynamics database.


He's got all the airworthiness of a garbage truck! And the bigger he gets the worse it's gonna get!

Is that you or science talking?

It's math, dude! Look at that graph! There's not a chance in Hell he's ever gonna pull it off!

What's that formula mean?

That's the drag coefficient of scaled skin versus smooth metal.

And that one?

That's wing surface attack angle vectors versus mass-density ratios.

Okay. That makes sense. But what's that KM symbol down there mean?

That's the Keith Morrison variable.

Say again? What the heck's that?

Advanced chaos theory. It's a free utility I downloaded from the Web last night. Ya plug the KM variable into any questionable hypothesis and it'll check it out.

That's it? But what's that other code it's pointing too? What does that do?

That's the KM heckling and sound card control algorithm. Depending on how harebrained or improbable your calculations are, the KM variable will generate anything from a loud raspberry to any of a couple hundred pre-recorded dissertations on how dumb you are. I'll download ya a copy of version 1.0 tonight if you like.

Ver. 1.0? You mean there's gonna be more?

Sure! For a small yearly subscription fee, version 1.1 will automatically e-mail KM himself if your idea is particularly idiotic. Within twenty-four hours you'll receive a 20 to 40K personalized reply telling you, and everyone else on the Web, how stupid he thinks you are.

Nope, I'll pass.

You sure?

I'm getting enough grief from my folks about my grades as it is.

Sorry. Been there, done that!

So... what now?

We'll just keep walking towards the track and and nonchalantly join the spectators. When he tenses up for another go I'll throw this under his tail. If my idea works, he'll be sailing off into the Wild Blue Yonder a couple seconds later.

What is that?

It's my dad's old army cigarette lighter. Not even a hurricane can put this baby out. And it's so small nobody is likely to see it land in the grass behind him.

Are you sure it's safe to go through with this?

Trust me!

Why do I feel sick to my stomach every time you say that?

Hi, Marty! Howdy, Susan!

Who're they?

Just some friends from my statistical analysis class. They've come to watch the show.

You told someone! How stupid can you be!

Relax! It's cool! They won't tell anyone. In fact, they ran some computer projections for me last night.

And? What did say was likely to happen?

They won't tell me. Something about jinxing the odds.

Oh, my stomach!

Relax! I've got everything covered!

Are you sure?

Of course. Now lets sit down in front of the crowd. And will you please stop looking so guilty! Everyone's looking at us!

I can't help it! I just know this is gonna end in a disaster!

Look! He's tensing up for another try! Here we go!


Well, Susan. No surprise there.

You can say that again, Marty. A bit noisy, but the fireball was rather spectacular.

What did the computer say was the chance of a successful takeoff?

Less than 2 percent. Setting fire to a fart, even a dragon's, simply isn't going to impart enough forward thrust to achieve powered flight.

Look at that! I never thought those two could run so fast! What did the computer say about their getting eaten?

Negligible. Personality profile doesn't fit. He will probably beat the crap out of them. There's a fifty-seven percent likelihood of that.

And the Dean?

Like I'd need a computer to figure that one out! They're gonna be packing their bags before dinner time.

It's a shame he decided to park his car next to the field today.

You can say that again!

I never liked that model convertible anyway. Burns real nice, though.