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I see myself in the Observatory, gazing through the eye of the massive telescope.

All the planets, stars, and galaxies are open to me, almost as if I could touch them. Where
once I saw the black void of space, a kaleidoscope of color has replaced it. I am absorbed
in the wonders of the universe, and know I can soon reach them.
The scene changes. I now see myself at a chalkboard, frantically scribbling down
equations for a theorem of light-speed travel. I feel a sense of victory as I know I’m
reaching the end, where everything fits together. I finish the theorem… I’m acclaimed as
a hero…
That’s when I wake up.
My name is Josiah Smith, but everyone calls me Joe. Yeah, it’s not all that
exciting of a name, but I was born with it and it’s the one I’m gonna keep. I’m an outcast
from society, and I dream of somehow proving myself to the world.
Fact of the matter is, I’m a genius. I have an IQ of about one and a half times my
town’s average, but unfortunately, that isn’t really saying a lot. My parents were hoping
for an ordinary kid. I guess I let them down.
At least my school has a chance of going to the Observatory instead of doing
Algebra Negative Four. Math class is way below my level, which is why I teach myself at
home with my textbooks, pad and paper, and personal telescope. After a really stressful
day, I just go up here to my room and hold my stuffed rabbit. I’m a wimp, and I know it.
Strangely, Mom and Dad aren’t at breakfast when I climb down the ladder to the
house Commons area. Our house has a central Commons, which holds the dining table,
couch, and other necessities, and several ladders leading to the other rooms. In my
opinion it looks like a stable with a notably high roof, but I’ve grown up with it this way
and I like it. I guess Dad’s probably at an early business meeting, and Mom’s taken my
little sister Brianna to school.
I sit down at the table, gulp down my porridge, and meander over to the couch. I
lie there for a few minutes and then sluggishly put on my winter coats. Bracing myself, I
step out the front door.
Zamboni Cliffs, Northern Minnesota, so named because of the old snowplow
driver who accidentally iced the streets over; he later became leader of the force. It snows
twelve months a year up here, and on a warm day it can get up to a full degree. The
‘garden’ is white, the roofs are white, the grass is white, and the homes are mostly green.
With the lack of green anything else, the Homeowners’ Misassociation decided green
paint would have to suffice.
Zamboni Cliffs is a small village, with only four streets: Polar Place, Sleet Street,
Blizzard Boulevard, and Walrus Way. I live midway down Walrus Way, which is kind of
weird because of all the semi-aquatic wildlife it was named for.
Our town is like a giant ‘plus’ sign, with the four streets branching off at right
angles from a central Town Square. All the big decisions for the entire town happen
there. The Observatory is also stationed at the center of town. That’s where the
astronomer, Steve Falconing, works.
The street slopes downward towards the Town Square, so I decided to pack my
sled to shake things up a bit. To my surprise, across the street, it looks like Robert and
Bobert have had the same idea.
Robert and Bobert are identical twins, each with yellow hair, freckles, glasses,
and enough jackets on that they probably don’t even need their sleds to go down- they

Robert and I are neck-to-neck at the front. the Clock Tower. the Observatory *sigh*. so we get going very fast. It looks like the force made a mistake that could work out in Robert’s favor. Bobert and I steer clear to the other side. Robert always thinks of something. we could wind up as ice on the pavement. But if I know Bobert. The twins brought their boat sleds. which isn’t really . puzzled. Robert climbs up the ramp to the top of the zamboni. and the school. the Bank. Turning back to my front. I hear a high-pitched sound and see a shadow growing over Bobert and myself. packing up his compact trampoline jump system. Wham! Robert crashes into both our sleds. It’s a very lightweight thing. sending all three of us flying into a snowbank. “One!” Robert and I shout together. but then I gain confidence again. I reckon that the street has a slope of about thirty degrees. but I have to turn my attention back to the front because we’re only a few more meters away from the Town Square. and every Monday the Zamboni Force is sent out to make ice conditions more favorable for sled traffic. and I try to pull him out in vain. These things are huge. As I watch.this is a Sleet Street vehicle. For a moment I’m afraid he will be lost.just need to trip. Some important buildings include the Town Hall. “Hey. when suddenly… “Watch out! There’s a zamboni!” I call out in alarm. Boing! I look behind me and Bobert isn’t there. however. And we’re off. By this time we’re reaching the City Square. Bobert isn’t a very good driver. I have no idea what’s going to happen to him next. “Wanna go sledding?” “You betcha. Also. the Library.its Monday. I had almost forgotten. Joe!” Robert calls back. we meet in the middle of the street. and Robert and I easily catch up to him. Our heads pop out from the snowbank and we all start laughing like a trio of maniacs. When my eyes adjust. “One… Go!” Bobert finishes. there are four handy ski lifts at Ski Lift Junction leading to the tops of the four streets. He gets swept into the zamboni’s path. Combined with the natural slipperiness of the road itself. leaving poor Bobert behind. guys!” I shout across the snow-filled street. but it’s served me well and I’m not getting rid of it. he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve. Suddenly I lose control of my sled. Man. and both the handles broke long ago. Just for a challenge. This is where all the important stuff happens. and I brought my speed sled. Bobert is about three meters ahead of us. and if we’re not careful. I realize we’ve landed in the Zamboni Cliffs Town Square. we decide to race each other. I knew I should have brought a Bobert Boat instead! Just as I wonder what’s going to happen next. But wait. “Robert! No!” I shout. They’re both very fun-loving and zany. very quickly. so we can sled back down to where we need to go on the streets. I wish I had one of those. and there’s a ramp in front to counteract the sleet. and I kinda like them. but Robert isn’t so lucky. it’s a formidable combination. “We’ve been waiting to try this!” With much looks like Robert had the good sense to ice down the bottom of his sled. “Three… two… um… what comes next?” Bobert asks us. Our school is a building that rivals the Town Hall in size. Bobert calls the start.

Frostbite behind.I’ve only imagined how it looks. I’ve never actually been to the observatory. “Why are there so many keyholes? “A little mechanical trick of mine. Steve Falconing himself. with gray paint on the walls and black ashes in the fireplace. I think I hear an echo of a gavel banging back down the hall. Frostbite bangs her ever-present gavel five times. and no student knows what happens there. maggots. with the exception of Mrs. Each of these steps will be a page long. She bangs her gavel three times. but it changes every time the door opens. if we go to the bathroom at all (which Mrs. Mrs. grinning. thinks it boosts productivity.” he says. Then he takes out another ring and opens the lock directly below it.saying much. I pronounce that we’re going on a field trip to the Observatory. One gavel bang translates to one gavel bang. we all go back to the front of the school and put on our coats. also happens every day. There’s a jacket and entrance area. which is a measure of frustration. GET TO YOUR DESKS!” she hollers in that shrill voice of hers. To make matters worse. followed by the twins. These five minutes are timed by a broken watch. Mr. master of the observatory. “Okay. “Excuse me sir. the name is quite fitting. Trudging over to the observatory. “There’s some priceless stuff in here. and even I don’t know . Frostbite. and since it snows here virtually 24/7.” This. This happens every single day. and I don’t want anyone getting in without permission. I walk into the seventh grade classroom. As we’re finishing up. He is a genius. “No matter. This will be due TOMORROW. what’s Mrs. has come to visit us today.” She never likes to hand over control to anyone else. He also has the coolest gadgetry in the whole world. I realize that there are fifteen locks in all. She is a jerk. especially not someone who actually does something worthwhile. Looking up and down the door. or something like it. It is a dull and square classroom. Now. I’m so excited! Leaving Mrs. Your principal has handed the seventh grade class over to me for the day. and then a long corridor with twelve rooms branching off. “If you fail to do your work. and your solution must have a minimum of five thousand steps.” I ask. The street can be a pain to live on. snowpants.” A cheer erupts from the class. Gray is present everywhere in the room because the teacher. and he is also very nice and friendly. Blizzard Boulevard is known for its wind tunnels. which is code for “Blah. one for each grade. which means that school started fifteen minutes ago and we’re all late. Frostbite continues. I’m finally going to get the chance to see it for myself. and boots again. Frostbite. He is the person in the whole town I admire the most. And as your instructor. Then he takes out yet another ring and opens the lock below that. you’ll have to scrub my dishes for a whole week. because there is a man standing in the doorway. but it can also make sledding much more fun than normal if you have a tailwind. Only one of these locks is the real one. You will also--“ She breaks off. You will be required to show your work. “So. Mrs. We walk outside to find a snowstorm rolling in from Blizzard Boulevard. Frostbite counts as ‘lazy’) we have to stay five minutes after school. At the end of the hallway is the staff area. “Today we will be going in depth into the equation 1+1. Falconing takes out a ring of keys and opens the top lock. Frostbite got to nag you about today?” he jokes. Mrs.

“I just hope that the main room is as interesting. there is a black door with what looks like a ship’s wheel on it. In the very center of the room is a telescope even bigger than the one in my dream. and then back to the left again. There are several warning labels on the door as well. the manufacturer of these things made them fuse shut after a all are capable of that. and I would bet anything that it leads to the Observatory’s main room. as far as I know. is shaped somewhat like a plant I’ve heard about once called a ‘mushroom. After we all finish putting away our coats and start up the golden staircase. all happening at once. or fool around with the projector. here we go. the first thing we see as we walk in is a jacket claim. Mr. and if not for the lens in each one. I also figure out several properties of the Newton’s Cradle. There are about seven sections to the telescope. opening the door. it would look like it was retractable. This thing looks like it could withstand an earthquake. And anyway. Basically. such as when one of the spheres is made heavier than the others. I can see the Crab Nebula in almost perfect detail through the primary telescope. write on the chalkboard. a projector and screen.” he says.” Mr. a few random cannons that it looks like you could fit a person into. right? Good. Near the telescope is a star chart listing all the constellations in the sky. Falconing was counting on many visitors when he built this thing. then to the right.’ The stem is the jacket claim and golden staircase.” The next few hours pass in a blur as I experiment with virtually everything in the room.” Mr. but the main lens is almost four meters in diameter. The main jacket claim is actually a steel conveyor belt on the left side. whaddya think?” “I think this is phenomenal already!” I reply. and I don’t think Mr. popping out bins with the names of people in our class on them. and I can’t help but wonder if it was reused from something else. I admire the architecture and design of a building. and then stand on the right wall waiting for the rest to finish up. and a portal labeled “Experiment Room” on the floor. Falconing says cheerfully. I’m awestruck by the massive hemispherical room we step into. The Observatory. such as a computer the size of a locker bay. Other objects of interest are scattered throughout the room. have at it. a giant Newton’s Cradle.which one it is right now. “So. “Just don’t move the primary telescope. When that person’s gear is put in. Falconing chuckles. the bin is drawn back into the machine and another person’s bin pops out. Falconing turns the ship’s wheel to the left. I take off my gear and put it in the Joe bin when it pops out of the machine.” “Why not keep all the rings on one keychain?” “Added security. just use common sense. The eyepiece is about four centimeters across. Robert asks me. such as you might find in an airport. Ah. There is also a chalkboard very near with several algebraic and calculus expressions on it that not even I can understand. It’s a small area. windows covering every square inch of the walls. Looking at the . and the cap is the main observation room. At the top of the winding staircase. Directly across from the door is a winding staircase that looks like it’s made out of gold.” “You ain’t seen nothing yet. While I’m doing that. and tornado. “Okay kids. As is to be expected in any Zamboni Cliffs building larger than one room. blizzard. The door opens with a pneumatic hiss. flood (do we even have floods here?). Even though it isn’t nighttime.

Bookshelves are on the left wall spaced between the experiment tables. Robert pressed the button—“ “—and we became invisible!” Robert finishes.” he says. filled with multicolored chemicals of virtually every hue. and crimson and tan are everywhere in the room. “You found my experimental Invisible Invisibility Device! I was wondering where that had gotten to. I’ve no real use for it. “You can keep that thing if you want. I’ve got something to show you there!” Bobert.P. The right wall is mainly composed of metal doors. “Now. propping the portal open. Ah. Just as I’m about to ask what’s going on. presses the button.” “Wow. but appears to get randomly thrown back against the wall. this stuff down here isn’t just priceless. you seem like a bright young spark.pointed virtually flat. Down the hatch!” he replies.V. Robert and Bobert appear out of nowhere with a pop! Mr.’ Robert tries to go in. and I’m thinking about installing an improved snow deflector. thinking ‘pop over’ meant that we should make a pop noise as we went over. How did you do it?” “Simple. It sounds like two people are fighting over something.P.Cradle and other experiments around the room. I can hardly believe my eyes as I step out into the rectangular corridor. “Robert loaded me into a cannon. Not all this stuff has to do with the stars. then. Just as I walk out onto the tan floor. here we go. who just shrugs. “Okay now! I think you kids should pop on over to the third room on the right.” “But this is an observatory!” “For the most part. I just kept my arm brushing the carpet for fun until I hit upon a box neither of us could see. we agreed I was going in first!” “You agreed. It’s also a laboratory. Strangely shaped beakers are located on tables throughout the room. boys!” Mr. . Falconing is still in plain sight. Suddenly I can’t see myself or the twins anymore. if only I can remember the combination…” “There’s another one for the Experiment Room? Why. so here we are!” “Jolly well done. if the only people who can get in have already been let into the Observatory itself?” “Extra backup. “Okay. really. “Stop shoving. I wanted to go in first as well!” “Get out of the way!” “You get out of the way!” I turn to the astronomer. And anyway. Falconing shakes his head. I hear a scuffling noise behind me. “Say.” Bobert says modestly. mind you.and fired me off. but Mr. I discover an equation that could change science forever: F=ma. such as a pendulum attached to a pendulum. Falconing says. Falconing pulls me aside. thanks!” Bobert says appreciatively. I’m about to head over to the secondary telescope when Mr. “We thought it would be fun to surprise you two. then starts laughing. it’s dangerous. We move quickly to the crimson metal door labeled ‘I. You wanna come down to the Experiment Room and check it out?” “Would I ever!” I say excitedly. filled with the secrets of chemistry.

Strange crimson vats are scattered randomly throughout the whole room. Another thing I find of interest in the square room is a big red button on a metal square. “Now.’ At the back of the room is a red curtain with a yellowish rope next to it. this one labeled S. pressing the button. marked in tape with labels like ‘Heat Reception’ and ‘Watts per Hour. The machine he was referring to is a pot. on a stove. Bobert will eat anything. Let’s try this again when the invisibility field wears off. Even so. let’s try the next room. Due to the huge amount of energy put into them. Falconing forgot to put the lid on. Falconing says. “This room is the Increased Velocity Popcorn Popper. “Actually.” “No. drawing the curtain back with the rope. It’s a phenomenal sight to behold. “Silly kids. gang.” Mr. Do you have to be visible to go through this door. “RUN!” I shout. it won’t. As we walk through the door.” I say. but Bobert isn’t so lucky. I ask. and I pop back into the visible spectrum. he tunnels his way to the cat flap. too?” I ask Mr. “Dang. though. the popcorn seeds pop extraordinarily quickly. as soon as all that popcorn can be cleaned up by either the janitor or Bobert. Falconing calls cheerfully.” Mr. and I can’t help but wonder how long it took to prepare all of this. We try the door again. he starts eating like crazy. I can channel the stellar energy I’ve collected into this stove. Behold!” he says. . but that’s probably not a problem considering his appetite. The four of us make a dash for the door. such as you might find in a circus or on stage. Mr. Robert.crashing into one of the bookcases and causing several books to fall off the shelves. and we all start laughing. He gets swallowed up entirely by the popcorn. Trust me. Falconing. I collect stellar energy to power the machine that is located behind this red curtain. We have to close the door before it gets to us too. and forces his way through. with a myriad of popcorn seeds in it. followed immediately by the rising wall of popcorn. filling up the pot at virtually the speed of light. “Okay. and this time it lets us through. That’s why I haven’t made many adjustments as of late. and by pressing this big red button. Bobert. you need to be invisible. you have to be visible to go in here. I’m a little anxious.T. There’s only one problem. I’ve had him over. Mr. “If I know Bobert.” We walk over to the next steel door down. but Bobert gets trapped inside. Robert. as I watch. opens the hatch. I’m about to open it when I accidentally press the invisibility button. “Have I gained weight?” he asks. and at night. Thirty-five seconds later. Exercising his jaw muscle to the max. Dials that look like pressure gauges line the walls. “What exactly is this place?” I ask curiously. “I measure the weather here. Falconing dejectedly. and I make it out. making popcorn for all of us instantly.A. picking up the books. It’s probably going to take a while. It seems that he’s doomed until. I can work on slowing that thing down. Anyone hungry?” he asks. Would you mind pressing the button again?” I do as he asks and we all turn invisible. he’ll suck up food like a vaccum when it’s offered to him.

” Mr. I’d almost forgot. until the end when a pulley is activated and a weight drops onto the toaster’s handle. What did you expect?” he says as we go in the S. and it also gives the appearance of being one-use. we pass through the door without much difficulty.” “Wow. “I’m getting a striking sense of déjà vu. Mr. but whenever more than one person goes in at a time. Somehow she gained access to the Experiment Room and installed a blocker. Don’t ask me how. falls down several ramps. The machine converges onto a wooden platform in the center of the room.5. “It’s a thing of beauty. “No worries! I caught your teacher in here just as she was preparing to do this door.” he continues. This kookiness happens throughout the machine. I ask. Frostbite. On the other end of the scale is another red ball. Sure enough. but no matter. Robert had tried something like this to sharpen his pencils more quickly. with only one object in it. and on the side is another big red button.” Mr. Unseen.A. and I’m sure everyone will want one. “I didn’t actually create the Deflector v2. standing up and snapping his fingers. Falconing remarks.” Robert asks tentatively. On top of the platform is a random toaster.“How does the door know whether the person walking through is invisible or not?” “That would be your teacher. this deflector is activated by five Crystal Snowflakes. which starts rolling down its own ramp. The only downside is that it can be somewhat hard to set up again. room. we all get toast. but the woodpecker wouldn’t cooperate. Thirty seconds later. Thing is. I press the button and make the four of us invisible again. This room is significantly less cluttered than the other two we visited.0 myself.” “Thank you.” “She’s my mother-in-law. Mrs. A complicated machine is spread out across all four walls.” A few months ago. and I get a striking sense of déjà vu. “The Simplified Toaster Activator. “What about that improved snow deflector thingy? That was the reason you brought me down here in the first place.a crystal display at the back. “To the Deflector Room! – Ouch. something very random always happens to one person. we walk down the corridor to the crimson door at the end of the hallway. bumping into the invisibility lock. which has a door that’s already open a crack. she’s evil. Apparently some Rube guy came up with this thing.T. apart from Bobert’s hair randomly standing up. and then lands on a single domino on a ledge. gesturing to the five snowflake-shaped dents in the crystal. She never finished placing the lock in. “but .” Robert. “Is it safe to go in? I don’t want to get thrown back against the wall again.” Mr. Joe.” he says. I got it from another inventor who lives on Polar Place. The domino falls over the ledge and starts a whole chain moving and falling over. The last domino falls over another ledge and tips a scale ever so slightly. used only by him. Falconing presses the button. It looks like a giant marble ramp. Falconing says. Bobert. as evidenced when Bobert says. I don’t know. After we finish our toast. “He gave me this after he developed a Deflector v2. A red ball comes out of what looks like an elevated mousehole in the wall. and the machine starts to do its thing. Falconing explains.

Noggin. but my speed sled is now completely destroyed- that is. but not exactly in perfect condition.they’ve been scattered about the town. guys. The four of us hike up the sidewalk to a store named ‘Noggin’s Toboggans’ and go inside. Go seek out the old inventor on Polar Place. .” “Will do! Come on. Can I come? Pleeeease?” Brianna begs. put it on. down the golden staircase. Sleet Street is the least fun street for sledding. As we’re getting ready to leave. “Me too. each snowflake has a clue to the whereabouts of the next one printed on it. Several have been modified to be steerable. the sleds are still there. Joe!” she says.his shop is known as ‘Old Inventor’s Old Inventions. with pictures of toboggans everywhere on the walls.” Bobert notes.” I say without hesitation. The rest of the class seems to have already left for home.” Robert suggests. so it’s a bit better today. “Maybe they’re still in that snowbank we landed in when we came down. “You need a new sled. I roll my eyes. “Well… okay. DIT-DIT-DIT.” “I can’t leave the Observatory. more completely destroyed than it was in the morning. and behind the desk is the shopkeeper. As it turns out. I hear a voice behind me saying excitedly. I take my gear from the Joe bin. Robert’s and Bobert’s boats are okay. The others are hidden on the streets.” Bobert finishes. At the front of the room is a desk.’ He might be able to lead the three of you to the first snowflake. because most of the snow has turned to sleet on it. Fortunately. DONG. “Good luck to the three of you. DONG.” Robert puts in. “Hi. and they all look extremely fast. “Actually. Let’s check it out. Joe!” I turn around to see my little sister Brianna looking happily up at me. “Alright then! In a way that somewhat reminds me of a cliché old movie. Just… stay out of trouble. where did we put our sleds?” I ask. green room. and back out to the coat claim.I’ve not been able to find them. School’s over for the day. Brianna. “Hi. The store is a square. through the black door. “Me three. What are you doing here?” I ask. “Bring the five snowflakes back to the Observatory as soon as you can. “I forgot. the Zamboni Force gave it a runthrough this morning. alright?” “Yay! I will. We go down the hallway.I don’t want to risk your teacher breaking in here and messing everything up. feeling a tad sheepish. “Mom heard that you need a new sled and said that I could ask if I could go with you.” Mr. let’s go. 2:48. DAP. Falconing salutes. but it was confiscated by the Town Bank and is in a vault somewhere.” I say to Robert and Bobert. Mr. I did have one. As we’re walking over to Sleet Street to find a sled shop. DEE. excitedly zipping in circles around me. one snowflake per. “Would you three be willing to go out and find them for me?” “I’m in. the town clock sounds the time. back into the Observatory’s main room. and step out the door.

take out a twenty-five Snowbuck note. Four systems of chairs run day in and day out. and hand it to the cashier. Ski Lift Junction. We step back outside onto Sleet Street and decide to sled down to the Town Square. reading the label. “Sounds good.” “Why is it called that. but this is one thing where every time is like the first time. One of them catches my eye. The only two differences I can see are the storekeeper behind the desk. the ground quickly zooms away. “So. now seems infinitesimal in comparison.colored. which once appeared monumental in size.0. never stopping. It has a rope in front to steer and is labeled as a ‘v2. two goes to No Brrrglars Aloud. I make sure that I’m going on the ski lift marked with a polar bear. We’re all grateful for that. When we finally reach the street’s summit. a metal one with enough space in it for Brianna and myself. “You’ve made a wise decision.” I search around in my pocket for my wallet. Ski Lift Junction is like an indigo. Brianna gets in the back of my toboggan and we set off. then immediately take the ski lift to Polar Place. Robert had the good sense to grab a map of Polar Place back at the Junction. then hop on. Noggin asks. That one he accidentally skips.0 will last you a lifetime.” I point out. much to my interest. The Observatory. massively enlarged round table. and the fact that there are . until he gets to Old Inventor’s Old Inventions. about a day’s hike. you should buckle in. I can see the entirety of Polar Place below me. I have it. Fortunately for the four of us. Due to the little yellow bell on the top of the door. The chair jostles me back and forth as I move along its course. because Polar Place is very cold and we don’t want to stay out here any longer than we have to. anyway?” “Don’t ask me. “One goes to Frozen Frisbees. ask the SI guys.” I say. supported by four poles. Their factory is far out of town. What strikes me first is this building’s similarity to Noggin’s Toboggans.” I look carefully at the toboggan pictures on the wall. three goes to Snowflakes Unlimited. we hear a ringing sound when we go into the building.0 sled’. all we needed to do was look to our left. That’ll be twenty-five Snowbucks. Have a nice day!” he calls. “I’ll take the SI-590 v2.” I reply as we walk over to the very center of town. The others do the same. Falconing has a hunch that the first one is on Polar Place. “These things can be kinda dangerous. anyway?” Brianna asks. I feel like I’m more than a thousand feet up in the air. “So.” “Deal. kid. and consider making a map when our quest is all said and done. the SI-590 v2. “Steering or speed? One- person or two-person? Wooden or metal? You name the toboggan. four goes to…” Bobert insists on reading all the building names and their corresponding numbers aloud. “We’re trying to find five Crystal Snowflakes to activate a snow deflector. kid. It turns out that to find the building. Bobert tries to figure it out. I step off the ride and duck to avoid being hit by the next chair in line. what can I get you kids today?” Mr. until Robert points it out to him. viewing this from the sky. I’ve been on the ski lifts before. what are we doing.” Before my eyes. “Brianna. Mr. with the same green walls and wooden desk at the front.

Later. just pop on over to my store and I’ll see what I can do for you.” Directly to the left of the entrance is a similar entrance. labeled “Snowflake Level. “A Crystal Snowflake. Look for the Puzzler’s Puzzling Tower. boys. at the top of the street. there is an inscription carved into the snowflake: The Puzzlemaster holds the key.” As the inventor hands the Snowflake over. this one with a closed wooden door. I can’t help but marvel at its architecture. we have nowhere near as much trouble finding the Puzzling Tower as we had with Old Inventor’s Old Inventions. Suddenly it appears none of us are there anymore. Here you go. one labeled “Easy level” and the other labeled “Medium Level. and it looks like someone transported it here from the Middle Ages. this is fun!” Brianna giggles. I could easily mistake it for a real snowflake. we decide to take the ski lift back to the Town Square.blueprints of inventions on the wall instead of toboggan pictures. “What can I do for you kids?” the Old Inventor asks in a creaky voice. there is a fireplace. and immediately notices a building marked ‘Puzzling Tower. “Ho. Happy collecting!” he waves as we walk out the door. I can see that you do indeed deserve the first Crystal Snowflake. but I need some proof that the astronomer actually sent you first. “If you need anything else at any time.0. Brianna grabs a map of Sleet Street to look at for fun. spinning around in circles. Like Mr. “Whee. with vintage sofas and everything. How puzzling. we’re all back in Ski Lift Junction. eh? Let me think… Oh. I think. The tower is made out of stone. “We’re looking for a Crystal Snowflake to activate the Deflector v2. Falconing said. Before we know it. here it is! I had almost forgotten about it. but at least we don’t stay too long in the cold temperatures. ho.’ It’s near the top of the street. and several medieval chairs and sofas. so we decide to take the ski lift again.” I explain. Bobert cranks open the drawbridge and we all step inside. pressing the invisibility button. a coffee table. and were it shrunken down a bit.” The main tunnel entrance we’re interested in is the one to the right of the doorway.” There is a small stand by the entrance that has a . and I reckon it’s about five stories high. It is labeled “Return. Because this is Polar Place and not Blizzard Boulevard or Walrus Way. The main lobby is a comfy-looking room. It doesn’t really save time. not even the inventor.” “You want proof? Watch this!” Robert says. kids. To help the machine gain all its power. On both sides of the lounging space are what look like tunnel entrances. It seems to be made out of pure quartz. In a squareish space at the back of the room.” the Old Inventor says as we pop back into sight one minute later. To answer this next mystery. Steve Falconing sent us. “Yes. The tower looms above all the other buildings on the street. ho! Very well done. I’d love to give it to you kids.

The elevator dings at the second floor.picture of a Crystal Snowflake on it. four brave contestants! You have entered the Puzzling Tower. the same darkness. you will gain the Crystal Snowflake. and we all go in. “A headache?” “WRONG! Next contestant!” Robert guesses. “Brianna’s guess with whiskers?” “WRONG! Final contestant!” Bobert guesses. “He poofed out his cheeks real big!” “WRONG! Final contestant!” Robert guesses. “A weird number?” “Not the answer I’m looking for! Final contestant!” I blurt something out. There are the same torches. bouncing up and down. and the same voice out of nowhere. We go across to the elevator and go up to the third floor. A wooden door identical to that on the previous elevator opens on the other side of the room. which is identical to the second one. “Um… a tadpole covered with fur?” “COR-RECT! You may proceed to the next elevator!” the voice booms triumphantly. the same stone walls. If you should succeed. A booming. ominous voice comes out of the blackness. and the wooden doors close. “Fly flavored cheese?” “WRONG! Next contestant!” Brianna guesses. How?” Bobert ‘guesses.’ “Um… um… um?” “WRONG! Next contestant!” I guess. This is a square. bewildered. torch-lit room. He succeeded and won the money. This chamber is also exactly the same as the other two. The elevator takes us up to the third floor. “Welcome. “Going up!” Brianna says excitedly. “Final question! What is thirty-five to the r power times sixty-seven to the n power divided by ninety-nine minus eighty-seven to the c power time five hundred and sixty-four to the ninth power?” Brianna guesses. “Five z plus . “Just to be safe here. I can’t really see why we had to go up. “He collected the money in the afterlife?” “WRONG!” Next contestant!” Brianna guesses. “Your first question: What do you get when you cross a frog and a mouse?” I guess first. much smaller than the lobby and with hardly any light. “Question number two: A boy bet a thousand Snowbucks that he could hold his head underwater for half an hour without scuba gear or a snorkel. We step into the tunnel entrance. is it forty-two?” “WRONG! Next contestant!” Bobert guesses. “He put a glass of water on his head instead of submerging it?” “COR-RECT!” Proceed to the next elevator!” the voice booms. and we hear the same voice yet again. well knowing that this all depends on me. which turns out to be an elevator. “A frog with big ears and long teeth and a tail and fur?” “WRONG! Next contestant!” Robert guesses.

“We came all this way just to go out in defeat?” “You’ll have to! I deny you your prize!” the Puzzlemaster proclaims madly.” “Will do!” she beams. His nose is very large. mud-stained boots. you won’t have it! I’ve grown very attached to the thing. this would be the throne room. He wears a black bowler cap with a yellow bow on it. “Brianna. who has her head down moping.two!” “COR-RECT!” Proceed to the final elevator!” All of us are really happy that we passed every puzzle. Congratulations!” he says proudly. You are hereby promoted to fully fledged puzzlers. but then I regain confidence again and come up with a plan. bewildered. There is an ornate- looking throne on the right. Puzzle!” she says. handing us all Certificates of Merit. Mr. you’ve beaten the Snowflake level! I’ve not had that happen in years! So. I guess I have to give you that Crystal Snowflake you kids are always after. As they head into the return elevator.” “What?!” I stammer. “I never got one right! I’m sad. “Oh. Brianna toddles up to the Puzzlemaster. He wears an orange shirt. handing each of them a certificate. “Please. which is strange for her. the Puzzlemaster says. okay?” “Yay! I will. I whisper in my little sister’s ear. crossing his arms. the Puzzlemaster turns to us in surprise. unhooks the Crystal Snowflake. . the room we step out into is completely different from the other three. and gives it to Brianna. “You are hereby promoted to fully fledged puzzlers. In the middle of the room is the Puzzlemaster himself. I feel really dejected for a moment. as the Puzzlemaster climbs up a ladder.” I say unreassuringly as the elevator dings. and looks somewhat like a circus clown. Apparently he was paying so much attention to myself and the twins that he never even noticed her standing there before. “Well… I don’t know…” “Pleeeease?” Brianna begs again. Mr. blue suspenders. If the castle were actually in the middle ages. so now I have to give you all certificates now. and he has yellow whiskers and hair. staring up at him with her big blue eyes. “What’s the problem?” I ask gently. all right. “Well. Puzzle. Use all your five-year-old charms. “Well. and is as spacious as the lobby. “My. At the moment he is talking to a family of four who just came out of the Easy elevator. can I have the Crystal Snowflake? Pleeeease?” she begs. He is a man of great height. you’ll get your chance! I don’t think the Puzzlemaster will let us off that easy. who looks at her with surprise. Especially not a trio of tough-looking boys. and brown. It’s made completely out of white marble. He then comes up to us as well. Congratulations!” he grumbles. “Don’t worry.” Brianna sniffs. After a moment of silent struggling. This time. except for Brianna. you have to go up there. now. Just… be careful with it.see if you can persuade the Puzzlemaster to give you the Snowflake. and I’m not giving it over to anyone. my. and suspended on the left wall is the Crystal Snowflake. you did beat my tower.

I think.” “That was weird. “Definitely. “Look! A baby walrus!” I look where she’s pointing. Still. we decide to walk up Walrus Way instead of taking the lift.the zamboni’s effect should have worn off by now. It blinks at us.” Bobert suggests when we’ve made it to the start of the street.” Bobert notes. and we’re back in Ski Lift Junction before we know it. Suddenly a boy runs out of his home. “I guess we’ll have to figure it out when we get there. “Ah. here it is. taking it out of the bag.” Brianna notes.” I say when the boy has gone back inside. “Maybe the snowflake is in the hands of someone who’s not hungry.” We continue hiking up the street. “Come on boy. putting both Crystal Snowflakes into the bag. and this is Walrus Way. Bushes? I think quizzically. and you’ll be in need of a bag to carry all those snowflakes. but at least we know that it’s on Walrus Way and not in a building. then scampers off in between some bushes. handing me the bag. runs across the street. No food can claim it. there you are. “Indeed. “So. as you’ve already seen.” “That’s just a little more vague than the last one. As I’m about to reply. Out! Out!” he shouts.” I say. “Meanwhile. trying to keep an eye out for anything interesting. “An animal’s street now holds this next flake. then waddling off. Barry. I think we should take the ski lift down. I think his head reminds me somewhat of a triangle for some reason. we’re liable to encounter some as we go up the street. “Oh. there’s a baby walrus on the side of the road. take the Return elevator back down to the Lobby. “Déjà vu. I turn around to see a platypus looking up at me blankly. Might as well take a look at it. let’s go home. “Oh. what does the second Snowflake say. . but this is ridiculous.” he says. Here. it isn’t green. because all the Walrus Way buildings are green.” the boy says to the platypus.” I reply. not even a cake. Suddenly I hear a squeal of excitement from Brianna. What I find strange is that we haven’t seen any walruses yet. Just don’t try to look near anything green. and sure enough. stepping off the elevator.” I say. I knew there were lots of semiaquatic mammals here. “Wow. “Lemme check.” We all agree. Perfect for sledding. I’ve no use for it. thanks!” I say appreciatively. “Go. Nothing’s grown here for ages. They should be running amok. I hear a rattling noise behind me. Because Walrus way is known for its semiaquatic wildlife. take my red one. and picks up the platypus. We all step in the elevator. “What about that cake thing? I like cake!” Brianna pipes up. anyway?” Robert asks me. For the sake of searching carefully.

but I decide not to mess with it. let’s sled down to the ski lift. Bobert decides to call the start. Come on. I read the inscription aloud. Robert notices a flyer with a snowflake symbol on it. Brianna reaches out her arm and pats the walrus on the head. I grab the snowflake and place it into the Puzzlemaster’s bag. then when Brianna appears unfazed and smiles.” he reads. “Race your sleds at the top of Blizzard Boulevard to win fantastic prizes! Every type of sled will be allowed. arms to pull us back. The walrus. “Blizzard Boulevard Sled Race. considering Bobert’s steering skill. As we head back to Ski Lift Junction yet again. and motion for Brianna to get out of there. She squeals in excitement and claps her hands together. she mouths. is followed by her babies. Before I can stop her. Going down the street.” Robert notes. it was probably a good idea to get a head start that way. “Three… two… one… zero… negative one…” “Bobert. I motion for the rest of the team to come with me. and we look into the grove the baby walrus went into. followed closely by the mother walrus. Head back to the ski lift. but we still aren’t going very far. If you are to claim the fourth Snowflake you need. the last number is one. who seems to be sitting on something. I can clearly see what she was sitting on. Bobert tries everything imaginable to gain distance again. “You’ve made it this far. she sticks her head out. Brianna climbs inside. Mostly Robert’s sled and mine and Brianna’s toboggan are nice and even the whole way. My eyes widen.” I say. This should be a bit easier with my new SI- 590 v2.0 toboggan. Because the mother walrus isn’t sitting on it anymore. Several baby walruses are gathered around their mother. nowhere near as cryptic. motioning with my arm.” I remind him. I’ll be back. he can never stay ahead for long. and even a propeller. and you do need a break. We all get in our sleds and decide to race each other as a warm-up for the Blizzard Sled Race the snowflake mentioned. Our three sleds end up in a tie. but first she says goodbye to the mother walrus and her babies. Very clever. Thinking back. “It says. Both of them look very pleased. and I can’t help but wonder whether Brianna feels like the Pied Piper. Whatever he does. It’s a Crystal Snowflake. “Yeah. I notice for the first time a dashboard on the front of the sled. and I show her the newly acquired Crystal Snowflake. but Bobert keeps fallng behind. The mother growls at her as she bursts into the grove. there’s a chance you should take! The call to the Blizzard Sled Race you should heed. in turn. “Go!” Bobert shouts unexpectedly. Brianna stands up and walks around. Brianna comes back out of the grove. “What’s it say?” Bobert asks. She nods her head in agreement.” “That seems pretty transparent. Race starts at 4:07- that’s eight minutes from now! Winner will receive fifty Snowbucks and a keepsake . however. As I watch. including a jump.

and you should really try it sometime.” I tell Brianna. He makes up for this loss of time by popping a propeller out of the back of his sled to gain speed. The admittance booth has been set up at the back of the street. snow. The official judge calls the start when the time comes. It then tries to fling the sled . the other contestants outdistance us. two or three sled drivers spin out of control onto the sidewalks. Why do they call this a v2. however.0. We take the ski lift marked with a snowflake up to the top of the final street. I use every jump available to navigate Brianna and myself up to the front of the pack. which happens to be the v3. And the fifteen sleds are off. and there’s an aura of excitement in the air. and the sled jumps off into the air.Crystal Snowflake. I can feel the wind rushing past my cheeks as the sled begins its descent. as well as a pair of joysticks. It grabs the first thing it sees. let’s catch up to him. “This is an SI-590 v3. then speeds off. I press another button. We’ve left all the other contestants in the dust. Flying a sled is the most phenomenal experience I’ve ever had.” As we spiral towards the side of the road. and it was iced over by the Zamboni Force. Think! I told I suddenly feel confident that we can win this race.” “We’d better get to Blizzard Boulevard! Come on.” I say urgently. I can tell this is gonna be sweet. and a propeller starts in the back. Blizzard Boulevard was picked for this race because it is the longest street by far. where people have long since started gathering. “Three… two… one… GO!” “Nice to see someone can do it right. the rope I use for steering breaks. and some cupholders pop out. Brianna!” I shout over the roar of the propeller. “Hang on tight. In true Bobert fashion.0! I’m the only one who has one!” he cackles. guys. I press a fourth button. Bobert falls into every one of a three-pitfall series. Our velocity from the fall is only slightly diminished. leaving us far behind. Suddenly. The street has been fitted with several jumps and pitfalls for the purposes of the race. There are only three minutes left before the race begins.” I press another random button.” Robert whispers to Bobert. “Come on. He just grins maliciously at me. “We’re taking this race to the skies!” I seek out the other contestants. It promptly breaks. Wham! Not used to seeing a sled fall from the sky. this one extending a robotic arm out of the sled. and then immediately dive the sled down towards them. under all the pressure. and I prepare for impact as we go back on the street. I count twelve sleds besides ours already at the starting line. Fwapp! Metallic wings pop out from the sides. I’m in the middle of a cloud bank up here. “He might have a better sled. and all I can say is. but we’re a better team. All good things have to end.0 sled? I decide to figure out that for myself as I push a random button on the console. and I can see the entire town. It’s a truly amazing experience. Brianna squeals in terror. and there’s also a tailwind today. I press another random button. and we speed past all the contestants but one. I can tell. “Uh oh. She’s having the time of her life back there. Colored flags fly everywhere. We pay the organizer five Snowbucks apiece and take our places at the starting line.

“Slip the Ring on. and I can tell it’s gonna be a close one. and we tell him the good news. The Bank is an imposing enough structure by itself.0 stays upright and continues on our trail. The only thing that subtracts from the immensity is the giant piggy bank on the roof. let’s go. myself. bewildered. Bobert completes his jump and crashes into both the v2. As we’re nearing the finish line. A cheer erupts from the crowd. so I use our only remaining defense. Bobert!” the announcer calls. I put all my effort into the final push as we pop back into visibility. Now that’s what I call an upset! “And the winner is Mr. As I can’t help but look up. This new accessory slows the driver down a bit. and the claw doesn’t see anything to grab. Frodo. I see the v3. Come on. His sled goes in front of both of ours and breaks the finish line ribbon. guys. and it looks like the Parthenon from the outside. The driver is now almost tied with us.0. Behind the front desk is a big black door. but the SI guys thought of that.” “Eleventeen?!” Brianna asks. As we swing open the doors. There are several Roman-looking columns at the front. Robert finishes about fifteen seconds later. Brianna. Suddenly a shadow grows over both of our sleds.the invisibility button. “Well done. guys. looking like some sort of monument. where does this one lead us?” he asks. and the v2. but this thing also requires ten seconds of recharge. At the front of the room is a desk with several tellers working furiously at their computers.0 and the v3. “Great job! So. we get one minute of invisibility. the doors are made out of steel. which I assume leads to the main vault. We’re also going to have to be able . The first thing we have to do is find a way into the main vault room. and in each corner is a Roman-styled pillar. The last Snowflake is among the Bank’s money green. I can see the driver about to use the same tool on us. Tucked away deep in vault eleventeen. “Is there even such a number?” “Well.” I say. With every press of the Invisibility Button.backwards. which are the sleekest ones in town. I read the inscription aloud. we get our first look at the bank’s lobby. Lacking anything else. walking over to the Zamboni Cliffs Bank. “Not just yet. as well as the fourth Crystal Snowflake.0 gaining leverage again. and the lobby is a giant square room. it latches onto the v3.0 vanish into thin are. There are several ATMs scattered about the sides. then the vault is number twenty-one and the Old Inventor modified it to make it rhyme. The floor in here is also black marble.” Robert whispers in my ear. If we’re going to infiltrate the Bank. The building design is Ancient Grecian.0 itself. we’ve got to do it very carefully. sled masters! You’ve actually won! But one final task still remains to be done.the v3. We have to be very careful about how we time our button presses so that we don’t get caught by the guards. assuming ‘teen’ means that you add ten to the number. The announcer congratulates Bobert and hands him fifty Snowbucks. and the floor is black marble.

and he looks like an oversized leprechaun holding a bamboo cane.” “Anyway.” they say in unison again. sorry. guys. everyone?” “Got it.” he says in an important voice. You must not be has at least twenty keyholes on it. A very important-looking man in a top hat enters and leisurely strides over to the front desk. so things work out that way. “Right. “Hello. After fiddling with the lock a bit. These things are guarded super-closely. I press the button and the timer starts counting down. then immediately duck into the shadows.” “Oh yeah. I think that’s it over on the right behind the desk. Meet back here in one minute. pressing the button.” Bobert says. I’ll do it. I make my way to the door in the back right corner. At the back of the room is a door that looks like the Observatory’s entrance door. we’re going to be invisible. that looks like it to me. and there’s one room for each. I make the door swing open and can tell right away that it needs some oil. you could tell that he makes an awful lot of money. Fine. Got it. he leaves and the Vault is once again abandoned. each of you go to one of the doors. see that?” I point it out to the rest of the gang. one of us will have to break into the place where all the earpieces are being held. “I would like to do this in person. Who’s going to do the job of borrowing the earpieces?” “Not me. Even if you didn’t know him. we’ll need to find out the four numbers of the vault combination. the person in charge of the whole town. but I can swear my ears are warming up. Status .” the other three say all at once. pressing the invisibility button. Thankfully. After a chorus of ‘Okay’s. my shoes don’t make a sound on the marble floor. Hurry!” I whisper urgently to the team. “We could gesture to each other!” Brianna suggests.” I say. and I quietly sneak over behind the desk. “Okay then. I quickly climb up over the wooden desk and into the small corridor. When the mayor has sapped all he wants from the taxpayers for his own personal gain. The only thing we need now is for someone to open the vault door. “Brianna. There is one metal door at each corner. Jones. I pop back into visibility and give everyone one earpiece. Remember.” I tell them. so I take four earpieces and climb back into the main lobby area. I recognize him instantly: Mayor Richblood. Mrs. and the four of us quickly duck into the shadows. “Yeah. The earpiece box is open. I forgot. when I push the invisibility button. with square black vaults lining every square inch of the side walls. I wish to make a withdrawal from the town tax fund to use for my own purposes. You have to claim the combination number for vault twenty-one. I’m the only one of us who turns invisible. We all stick them in our ears and get ready for main infiltration. I gather everyone together in the center of the room. Everything he wears is green. The main vault has a triangular and remarkably high communicate to each other without speaking. “Oof. you have one minute to find the number for vault twenty-one.” “Now’s our chance. There’s four of us. if you don’t mind. “After we do that. Mayor Richblood opens the main vault door and we go in after him.

each of which are small enough to hold a keychain. I’m getting a 5. Judging that the number after the decimal point is the order in which it goes in. Suddenly the snow stops falling over the Observatory. let’s go back to the Deflector Room!” he says cheerfully.” says Brianna. We walk over to the gates of the Observatory. but it seems to have fallen off. We’ve done it! We’ve acquired all five Crystal Snowflakes and can now activate the Deflector! When the four of us are in the open again. where Mr. There are several metallic cases on the walls.” I remark to Bobert. After marveling at its architecture some more. I can imagine that they are equally precious. Robert. where it starts to glow blue. As we walk out the Bank’s door.” I say. Finally. Falconing is still standing. “I mean. which the mayor accidentally left open. but it’s the snowflake that I’m concerned with. a sense of triumph comes over me. Come on.4. The secret doorway leads directly to the Deflector Room. at which point it starts glowing green. After experiencing the squeakiness of the Bank’s doors. “Is there anything on the fifth snowflake?” Brianna asks. Report back to the center of the room. . and congratulates us all. and I are at the top of Walrus Way with our sleds at the ready. return our earpieces. and it turns purple. until the end of the day when it starts getting dark. “See what I mean? Old movie. I crack it open to reveal a tag with a 9. we all faze back in with a pop! I collect the tags from everyone and locate vault twenty-one. and a static buzz can be heard as the Deflector v2.” Robert finishes. this one is pure diamond. and where the others were pure quartz. which is at eye level. I take the crystals from my bag and give one to everyone. I insert the diamond snowflake we just recovered. and the door slides open.” Bobert says in my ear.’ I’m kinda glad that this escapade strayed from an old movie in that one aspect. Robert inserts the second one. opening a secret doorway to said room. “4. we all jump up in the air and shout “Woohoo!” High-fives and celebrations are going on all around. “Well done. “Joe. Spotting it on the floor. “Good work. Three seconds later.1 written on it. I can see why the Bank confiscated it. He appears overjoyed to see the five snowflakes.0 springs to life. Mr. Bobert. kids! I knew you could do it. Brianna inserts the third snowflake. and the heavens can now be clearly seen from the main room. It was designed even more beautifully than the other four. The rest of the day passes in celebration. Then. and we all start laughing. “I have a 7. I try to find the one labeled with a twenty-one on the wall. there are no snowflakes after this. A sense of triumph comes over us all as we realize that our task is complete. We go back out the main vault door. guys.3 here. where it begins to glow with all the colors of the rainbow. Bobert puts the fourth one in. There are only two things in here: a can of oil and the Crystal Snowflake. which turns red. Falconing puts the first one in. and climb to the other side of the desk. and the crystal display is still there.reports from the rest of the team in my earpiece tell me that everyone has done the same. I slip it into the bag and press the invisibility button again.” “Only one word: ‘Congratulations.2. The five Crystal Snowflakes are now in place. I key in the code 9547 in the vault.” I tell them.

just one. like he always does. . Bobert calls the start. guys? One last race?” I suggest. Zamboni Cliffs. This is.” I laugh. after all. “Three… two… um…” “Oh. just say it.” Robert agrees sleepily. “One… Go!” We race down the street for the last time today. “Yeah. “Whaddya think. but I know there will be more adventures tomorrow.