• I wonder what it was like before the Infinity War. Anna says it was beautiful, but what kind of beauty? I mean, it’s beautiful here too, I guess, but in a different way. Here, it’s all red and tan and concrete and sunset. Before the War, it was green and blue. Which would be beautiful, sort of. It’s all your point of view. Not that I’m an expert on it. Being a grease monkey, my point of view is usually from under a Vapre Engine with a wrench in my hand. Which reminds me, I gotta be at the garage within two minutes or I won’t be able to finish Flikker.
    Garret shut his journal with a loud snap, causing papers to scatter everywhere. He would pick them up later, if he had time. Right now, the only thing that mattered was getting to the garage. With his sneaker soles flapping like flags in the wind, Garret tore off down the auburn dirt road, sending clouds of dust flying up in his wake like miniature tornados. He arrived at the garage, which was really just an old, bombed-out warehouse with a huge pile of rusty parts in one corner, just as his friend Jackson and a few of the other garage regulars did. Garret greeted them with a brusque nod and walked quickly over to his table, which was a mishmash of steam hydraulics, engine parts, and bits of unfinished steambots and other gadgets. Lying at the center was his pride and joy: a small steambot, slightly larger than a softball, painted dark red with small yellow “eyes” and with a propeller protruding out the top. Grabbing the ever-present wrench that was stuffed into his belt, Garret loosened some bolts on the back of the bot and, with quick, deft movements, began repairing circuits, putting in tiny gears and belts, tightening screws and bolts and doing everything that was required to build a working steambot. Finally, after about 20 minutes, he shut the hatch, retightened the bolts, and set the now-completed bot down on the table. Nearly bursting with excitement, Garret flicked the switch on Flikker’s back (Flikker was the steambot’s name) and watched as slowly, beautifully, the lights behind its yellow eyes started to glow, the gears inside it started whirring, and the propeller pushed it into the air, coming to stop at about its creator’s head height. Garret smiled. Now to test out the voice commands. But before he could get in a single word, Jackson came over to his table, snatched Flikker (which had landed back on the table) and asked, in his usual blunt way,
    “Is this the reason you haven’t talked to us for a month?”
    Garret frowned. “What do you mean?” he asked. Jackson rolled his eyes. “You haven’t noticed that you’ve barely said anything to anyone except ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’?” he asked incredulously. “Well, I have been kind of busy working on-” Jackson cut him off before he could finish. “Yeah, what is that thing you’re working on, anyway?” he asked, turning Flikker over in his hands. Garret replied proudly, “Steambot. My first one.” “No way,” said Jackson. “I thought they could only make those in factories.” “Not small ones like Flikker.” “Flikker? Is that what you’ve named it?” “Yep. See how the eyes shine like that? That’s where the name came from.” “Cool. So does it do anything?”
    “Does it ever. Here, I’ll show you.”
    Garret flicked the switch again, and Flikker rose into the air.
    “Awesome.” Jackson whispered.
    “Now for the best part.” Said Garret, struggling to contain his glee. He looked straight at Flikker and said clearly, “Flikker, take me up.”
    The steambot responded almost immediately, shooting up above Garret’s head. Two hook-like devices came out of the bottom and attached themselves to Garret’s shoulders. Then, slowly, incredibly, with Flikker’s propeller straining, boy and bot rose up into the air, gathering speed and soaring off into the crimson sunset.
    To Be Continued