Author's Note: I belong to a writers' club through my school, and during one of our meetings, we got to talking about a game that one of the other members had bought at the Mall of America. It was called Mad Scientist University, and it involved taking a "raw element" (crazy items such as penguins and trash cans) and using it to solve a "crisis" (such as throwing the greatest party or solving world hunger). We twisted it into a writing challenge. We were each given an element and a scenario with which to write a story. The following is my entry, which happened to win the contest. I was very proud of myself.


Using Gasoline to Cure Cancer

I let the screen door slam shut behind me as I dashed through our overgrown backyard towards my uncle's house, which sat right behind us. It was a rather large house, but since my uncle would choose to swallow fire rather than do basic home repairs, it sat decrepit and lonely.
Still, you had to cut Uncle Alphonse some slack. Quirky is as quirky does, and my eccentric uncle practically wrote the book on quirks.

I went around the side of the house to where the cellar door was. I could already see flashing lights through the cracks. Throwing the doors open, I cupped my hands around my mouth in an effort to be heard over the pistons and bubbles.
"You wanted to see me, Uncle Alphonse?"
"Isabelle!" he cried out. I heard something shatter. "Darling, you startled me. Yes, I do wish to show you something, but I'm not quite ready yet. If you could busy yourself for just a few minutes, I would be most appreciative."
As I shut the doors, he started up the blow torch.

I found Molly and Wesley wrestling on her front lawn. As usual, Molly was winning.
"Woah! Uncle! Uncle!" Wesley was shrieking, desperately trying to pull out of fan inescapable choke hold.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Molly jibed.
"Seriously, Molly, I give!" Wesley demanded.
Molly shrugged, released her hold, and sent Wesley flying into the rosebushes.
"Speaking of uncles," I said. "mine's got something to show us."
"Please tell me this won't be a repeat of the time he got a hold of the Kool-Aid." Molly b egged.
"Oh God!" Wesley shouted, turning green at the thought.
I waved the notion away. "Just come and see. Please?"
Now, not even Molly could resist my puppy dog pout.

"Are you ready,Uncle Alphonse?" I called.
"Yes, dear. Come on down."
The three of us teetered down the wooden steps into the workshop. What was once a cobwebbed storage space was now filled with test tubes, chemicals, discarded engines, and computers.
My uncle was bent over double a wire dog crate that was probably more wires than animal.
"Uncle Alphonse?" I prodded. I must have startled him again, because he shot straight up like a rocket, cracking his head against a pipe.
"That's going to leave a mark." Wesley muttered, and Molly elbowed him.
"Oh, children! My, how stealthyou are." Uncle Alphonse chattered. "Now, what was I…ah yes, I was going to show you the cure, wasn't I?"
"The cure for what?" I asked.
"Why, cancer, of course." Uncle Alphonse made it sound like the answer should have been so obvious.
"Hey, maybe if we bolt, he wouldn't be able to catch us." Molly suggested.
"Behold!" Uncle Alphonse announced triumphantly, opening a large metal vat. Fumes filled the room, making my eyes and nose burn.
"Good Lord, now he's trying to gas us!" Wesley moaned in between coughs and gasps.
"What is that, Uncle Alphonse?" I asked, brushing the tears out of my eyes.
He replaced the lid, but it took a couple of minutes for the air to clear. "That was gasoline, Isabelle. I discovered that when you superheat it, the breakdown of elements is a million times more effective than radiation."
"And you know this how?" Molly asked.
I knew. "Uncle Alphonse, please tell me you didn't use Barkley."
He looked off into space, whistling.
I was appalled. "Uncle Alphonse! He's not even your dog! Is Mrs. Daley looking for him?"
"I certainly hope not. I don't think that woman likes me very much."
All I could think was, How could she like you when you gave her cancer-stricken terrier an experimental "cure"? I mean, really!
I walked over to the crate. Sure enough, Barkley's big black eyes blinked at me from behind a mass of colored wires.
"Isabelle, you simply must see his diagnostics." Uncle Alphonse handed me a clipboard that was spilling over with medical charts and recordings. I looked them over at least three times, making sure I wasn't seeing things.
"Uncle Alphonse, is this…did you…" I couldn't even get the sentence out.
"Izzie, do we need to call your aunt?" Wesley asked. "I'm pretty sure you've both gone crackers."
"Guys, I think he actually did it!" I announced.
Barkley must have agreed with me, because he started bouncing up and down.
"So, what do we do with this information?" Molly asked.
"Oh, I should get a patent!" Uncle Alphonse said.
Only my uncle.