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Chapter 10

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The giant fridge stood on the opposite side of the massive water fountain. He stepped to his left I moved to mine. He stepped to his right and I matched his moves again.

“Tony,” the refrigerator spoke.

“How do you know my name?”

“We’re the same, Tony,” his robotic voice crackled.

“No we’re not.”

“Haven’t you always felt out of place?” he said, pacing around the fountain.

I didn’t say anything.

“Oh, the town loves you right now. Of course they do! But it’s only because you did something for them. It’s because you served them. But you’ll never be one of them, Tony. They will always think you are weird. Always. And at some point, they’ll turn against you.”

“What is it you want?” I asked.

“I want the bottle,” the fridge answered.

“What bottle?” I asked.

“The bottle of life. You know where it is, don’t you?”

“I don’t know anything about this bottle,” I admitted.

“You know, there are others like us. It’s not just me and it’s not just you. You could join us. You’d have the family you never actually had.”

“I have a family. I have my dad.”

He let out a static-field crackling laugh.

“Where is your dad? Where is he right now?”

“You have him,” I answered.

“Why would I want a washed-up villain?”

“So, he’ll recreate the elixir for you,” I answered.

“He refused. But I need the bottle.”

“I swear I don’t know anything about the bottle,” I told him. “But where is my dad? You captured him.”

“Wrong,” the refrigerator interrupted. “I’m here to capture you as leverage. If you can’t lead me to the bottle, then you leave me no other option. Then, again, it might just be easier to go with the freeze and dissect method. Just cut out the doctor entirely.”

I stared at his left hand, where an enormous ice ball continued to form behind the gunked up grease.

He spun around and faced Iris, lobbing a giant ice ball from its ice machine. She rolled away as it pounded the ground, leaving a giant crater.

“Grab the light post!” she yelled.

I sprinted forward as an ice ball missed my giant pizza head. I booked it, dodging another ice ball before reaching the pole and wrapping my cheese hand around it.

“Toward me!” she yelled, sprinting my direction.

I reached out and – smack! I didn’t even see it. I looked up at the blurry sky. My head was woozy but I wrapped my hand around the lamp post.

“You’ve got a crack,” she said. “It’s not bad, but we need to get you to a – is there even a hospital that serves slices of pizza?”

“I think pretty much every hospital cafeteria serves pizza,” I joked. I chuckled but it hurt to laugh. My whole body ached.

The robot stomped toward us.

“Just stay put.”

“Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere,” I whispered.

Another ice ball flew by, just missing my crust.

“I need you to see if you can anchor yourself around the trash can,” she said, her eyes fixed on the fridge.

“Got it.” I crawled toward the trash can and wrapped my arm around the grimy bin. It smelled like raw sewage. I held my breath. My arms were now stretched out between the garbage can and the lamp post.

“Hey fridgie freak! You can’t take me down!” Iris yelled, running toward the refrigerator. It chased her across the field and around the trees. She looped back, racing toward the light pole. The robot was less than a yard away. She ran my direction, the fridge on her tail. Suddenly she stopped and ducked under my cheesy arm. The robot flew forward, tripping on my cheesy arm. As I let go, the garbage can shot forward, flipping upside down, and face-planting into the grass. My arm was throbbing, but we had done it. The fridge was stuck on the ground.

Iris jumped on top. “Grab any rubble you have and set it on top!” she yelled. Nobody helped.

“It’s going to get back up if we don’t get some weight on it.”

The police ran forward, piling on the fridge.

“We did it!” I lifted my hand for a high-five. A metal arm clutched my arm.

“Someone grab the chains,” an officer said, but as they spun around, the fridge pulled himself up and held me in the air, dangling me like a chew toy.

“Where is the bottle?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered, trying to slide my slippery arms through his metal grip.

“Don’t lie to me.”

“I don’t know where it is,” I said.

His door popped open and he grabbed a can of pineapples. This could ruin me.

“No, please, no,” I begged.

“I’ll use it,” the fridge said.

“Wait! I have it!” a man yelled. I recognized my dad’s voice the moment I heard it.

“Dad, what are you doing here?”

He stepped up to the robot and held up a jar of glowing green liquid.

“Let him go and I’ll give you the jar,” my dad said.

“Hand me the jar,” the fridge answered, squeezing the can tighter and popping the lid off of it.

His grip loosened slightly. I slipped my arm through and to the ground, narrowly dodging a chunk of pineapple. I’m free. The fridge spun around. I snagged the jar from my dad, unsure of what to do. I sprinted down the field, the fridge trailing behind me.

“Book it! He’s on your tail!” Iris yelled.

Tail! That’s it. He had an electric tail. I knew exactly what to do.

I darted down the hill, sprinting toward the water fountain. My whole body was aching. My head was throbbing. Clink! The metal tapped the jar. I held it tighter, right up to the my cheesy face. Almost there. My legs were turning to jelly. I’d have to clear the entire fountain or I’d be a soggy slice of pizza. But I had to do it. I could feel the icy breath on my back. Inches away. I lunged forward and slapped the ground. I flipped through the air, upside down, screaming as I dodged statue’s head at the top of the fountain.

The fridge screeched to a halt, but crashed into the edge, flipping over, and falling into the fountain with a loud sizzle.

I collapsed on the ground as the refrigerator let out a shriek.

“He’ll be fine. He’s just short-circuting, that’s all,” Iris said. Sure enough, the police pulled him out chained up the mutant fridge.

“Give me the elixer,” it gurgled as they pulled it out.

That’s when the reporters arrived, shoving microphones in my face.

“What was that like for you?”

“I don’t know.”

“What are you going to do next?”

“I’m going to take a nap. Or, I guess it’s too late for a nap. I’m going to go to bed.”

“What is your favorite food?”

“Ranch dressing. What else?”

“What’s in the jar you’re holdi– Ouch!” a man yelled.

“What was that? Did you feel? It’s like my underwear is shrinking,” another reporter said.

“Somebody’s giving me a wedgie,” another reporter complained.

“Is my butt getting big?” another reporter asked.

“No, it’s that underwear shrink ray. Dr. Repugno is out of hiding.”

“Dr. Repugno is back!” another yelled.

“Tony!” My dad signaled me forward. I ran toward him and hugged him. My greasy arms stuck to his lab coat.

“We did it,” he said laughing nervously.

“When did you show up?” I asked.

“We need to get home,” he said, as we hopped into his car, dodging the reporters. I blinked at the flashing cameras.

“I need to say goodbye to Iris,” I pointed out.

“There’s no time,” he said, clicking his seatbelt.

“We stopped the mutant fridge,” I said. “I mean, we were a team right there, dad.”

“I was so scared. I told you to stay in our lair,” he said. “I’m disappointed with you but I’m so relieved that you’re alive.”

“I thought they had kidnapped you,” I said. “But then you showed up.”

“I was so scared,” he repeated. He kept saying it over and over and over again. Tears were welling up in his eyes. He still looked terrified. “I should have left you a note when I left this morning. I’ve been chasing after that refrigerator all day. I wanted to shrink it down but I never did get the shrink ray to work properly. It’s still stuck on the underwear mode.”

“Why is the refrigerator attacking right now?”

“I don’t know,” he said, turning the corner and heading up the hill toward our driveway. “It’s been eleven years of nothing and then this.”

“Dad, I’m not sure this is the end of it. The refrigerator said that there were others.”

“There are,” he said.

“Who is behind it?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. But someone sent me this note yesterday.”


Dr. Repugno,

You have twenty-four hours to reproduce the mutant formula or I will unleash my first weapon on the city.


The Incinerator


“Who is the Incinerator?” I asked.

“I have no idea.”

“First weapon?” I asked. “Did he really just say that was his first weapon?”

“Him? The Incinerator could be a her. We don’t know. I have no idea how many weapons there are.”

As our gate opened, he turned to me and said, “You were impressive out there.”

“Thanks. So does that mean I get to be a full-time hero now?”

He took a deep breath. “Tony, you’re just a kid. And, yeah, you’re okay right now, but your crust is cracked and . . . I just . . . I really feel like maybe you shouldn’t be a hero. They’ll find someone else who will stay on top of this, okay?”

“Okay.” I fought back tears. I knew it was ridiculous. He was right. I’m eleven years old. I have no business being a hero. But still, I wanted to do this.

“But I think I am going to let you enroll in school if you want to give that another chance. And I’ll loosen up on the TV restrictions.”

Minutes later, I sat down on my bed and flipped on the television.  Crowds were gathering in the town square holding signs reading “Thank you, Super Pizza!” Kids were dressed up as Flaming Hot Wings.

The mayor stood in front of a podium. “We have experienced a true disaster. It is an evil we have never seen in this city. But I promise you this: you will rebuild.” She paused. “Wait a second, I read that wrong. We will rebuild. I mean, I won’t work any of the heavy equipment but I’ll be a part of it. The whole city will.” The crowd cheered.

“I want to offer a special thanks to our two young heroes. I would first like to congratulate Flaming Hot Wings on her bravery and insight.”

The crowd erupted in a deafening applause.

Iris looked down at her feet in embarrassment.

“And I’d also like to congratulate our second hero . . .”

“Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!” they yelled.

“They’re chanting my name,” I muttered.

“Although he is not here to receive it, I would like to extend an offer to give him a key to the city.” She stood there holding an enormous key.

“And I’d like to extend this to Flaming Hot Wings as well.”

She stood there beaming.

I couldn’t imagine that key actually opening any doors. But still, I’d love to have it hanging up in our lair.  That would be so cool.

“And I would also like to make an official pronouncement. From this day forward, I would like to declare this Pizza and Wings Night.”

As the crowd cheered, Iris stepped up to the podium and yelled, “Be wildly and unabashedly different!”

And there it was. There was no turning back. That was our awkwardly awesome catchphrase.

An hour later, I heard a knock on the door. When I answered it, Iris stood there holding a giant bottle of ranch dressing and a hunk of parmesan cheese and a bag of items for herself. It was late and the breeze cut through me, but I sat out on the porch with her.

“I think this is only the beginning,” I told her.

“Yeah,” she let out a deep breath before taking a bite out of her celebratory candy bar.

“Do you still think my dad was behind this?” I asked.

She shook her head. “No. I was . . . uh . . . I was . . . I was wrong about that.”

“My dad said it’s a villain named The Incinerator,” I added.

“I’ve never heard of that villain,” she said.

“So, what good does today do if we didn’t stop the real villain?” I ask.

“A hero can’t save the world. A hero can’t even save a city. The best a hero can do is save the day. And you know what? We saved the day. Pizza Tony, who never leaves his home and Incognito Iris who spends her days making calculations. We did it.”

I tipped up my jar of ranch dressing, “To being different.”

“To being different,” she said, tapping her soda can against my ranch dressing.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the theme of the book? To what extent do you think the theme is true?
  2. How do the characters change through this story?
  3. What did you think of the story?