Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #12: Escape to California (3 page)

BOOK: Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #12: Escape to California
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“That's something
my
mom would do! She's crazy about anything which has to do with language.”

Amber said, “I think you mean
that
, not
which
, Stanley.”

Stanley and his father both laughed at how much she sounded like Mrs. Lambchop.

“I don't know which my mom likes more, vegetables or vowels,” said Lily. “Last summer she attached a plow to the back of my wheelchair so I could help in the fields.”

Stanley's father said, “A human plow, huh? I suppose that's how you got so strong, Lily.”

Lily said, “I was born strong.”

 

After a dessert of fresh blackberries, blueberries, and boysenberries with cream, Dr. Fox said, “Ready to head out to the barn?”

“I could've skipped dinner, I'm so ready,” said Lily.

Following them to the big barn, Stanley was surprised to find there were no animals. Instead the inside of the barn looked like a spotless, high-tech body shop for fixing up cars—only without the cars. On the wall hung at least a dozen different wheelchairs gleaming like jewels. One looked more like a tiny Formula One racecar, red and white and shiny with a pointed nose. One was clad in a varsity athlete's uniform, complete with white striped wheels instead of socks. One balanced on what looked like a pair of ice-skating blades instead of wheels, and it hung near a hockey stick with a sawed-off handle. And one looked like the bottom half of a ball gown, with sparkly fabric covering everything but the bottom of the wheels.

“What kind of a doctor
are
you, anyway?” Stanley's father asked.

“I have a PhD in mechanical engineering,” replied Dr. Fox.

“And you
made
all these?” said Stanley.

“Lily and I designed and built them together,” said Dr. Fox.

“Which is your favorite?” Stanley asked Lily.

“Depends on the situation.” She pointed to one that had paddles instead of wheels, and a strange mask sitting on the seat. “The first time I used my scuba chair was pretty awesome.”

Lily rolled along, stopping in front of the last wheelchair in the bottom row: a sleek little black number.

“This,” said Lily, “is the Escapist. She's the lightest wheelchair ever built, weighing in at less than eight pounds. She has fourteen hidden compartments. Each of her wheel spokes is a different kind of tool: mini crowbar. Lockpick. Radio antenna. She's what we're riding out of Alcatraz.”

“Speaking of Alcatraz,” said Dr. Fox as he spread a blueprint of the prison out on a table. The four of them gathered around it.

“So, you really think you can escape?” Stanley said. “What's the plan?”

“The only way in or out of the Rock is by ferry,” Lily said. “So we'll take the ferry there from Fisherman's Wharf, just like any other tourists. The prison is a museum now, and we'll buy tickets for the last tour of the day. We'll hang at the back of the group until we come to the cell where the gangster Al ‘Scarface' Capone used to live.”

Dr. Fox took over. “You and Lily will enter the cell and close the door, locking yourselves inside. You will hide there until the museum closes and the lights in the cellblock go out.”

“I'll pick the lock of the cell door,” Lily continued. “Stanley, it's going to be your job to slip between bars and check under doors to make sure the coast is clear. There will be at least one night guard on duty, maybe more. We'll make our way along this hallway.” Lily's finger traced a path through the prison. “Then we have to exit through this door to the outside without setting off any alarms. The final stage of the plan—crossing the Bay—will unfold on live TV.”

“How are you going to get on TV if this is all a secret?” asked Stanley's father.

“Let's just say we know someone in show business,” Dr. Fox answered quickly.

“Once we get to this point,” continued Lily, “we just have to cross the Bay to the other side. It's simple.”

“Simple?” repeated Stanley. “What about the shark-infested waters?!”

Lily rolled her eyes. “They're really small sharks. Besides, you'll be pulling me pretty fast by that point.”

“I can't swim that far!” Stanley protested.

“Why swim,” Lily said, raising an eyebrow, “when a guy like you can fly?”

Stanley wrinkled his flat forehead. “Huh?”

But then he noticed his father nodding slowly. “You want Stanley to be your kite,” he said quietly.

Lilly nodded excitedly.
“Exactly.”

Finally Stanley understood. He'd rise in the air, Lily would hold on to a string attached to him, and he'd pull her across the water.

“It won't work,” he said with a shake of his head. “Even if the wind was strong enough, I can't pull that kind of weight.”

“We've thought of that,” said Dr. Fox. “That's why we're taking you to Silicon Valley first thing tomorrow.”

Silicon Valley

“It's the technology capital of America, and maybe even the world. Silicon Valley is where computers were
born
,” Lily explained to Stanley the next morning. They were riding in the back of the van while their fathers rode up front. “Dad's best friend owns a company there. He has a whole team of people helping us.”

Stanley caught himself staring at Lily's feet. “Can I ask you something?” he said hesitantly.

“Shoot,” said Lily.

“What happened to your legs?” he asked. “Sorry,” he added quickly.

“You don't need to be embarrassed about asking.” She shrugged. “I was born this way. I can't walk because my legs and my brain don't talk to each other very well.”

“Do you ever wish you could walk?”

Lily smirked. “Do you ever wish you weren't flat?”

“Sometimes,” admitted Stanley. “But I don't really think about it that much anymore. It's just . . . the way I am.”

Lily smiled.
“Exactly,”
she said.

 

Stanley was expecting an office building like the one where his father worked. But when they arrived, he found a campus that reminded him more of the University of Texas at Austin, where he had recently visited his friend Eduardo. People were playing Frisbee on a sprawling lawn surrounded by glass buildings.

They made their way to the biggest building, where Dr. Fox led them through a room filled with people at desks, Ping-Pong tables, and pinball machines. A handful of employees in T-shirts were arguing and scrawling diagrams with Magic Markers on one wall.

Stanley's father murmured, “I wish
I
worked in a place like this.”

“I wish we
lived
in a place like this,” Stanley said.

They came to a desk in the middle of the floor, where a man with a beard was staring intently at something on his computer screen. He sat on a giant inflatable ball. When he looked up and saw Dr. Fox, his face broke into a huge smile.

“Theo!” he cried, grabbing his old friend in a bear hug. Then he saw Lily and said, “Lily pad!”

“Hiya, Uncle Jerry!” said Lily, rolling over for a squeeze.

“Jerry,” said Dr. Fox, “I want you to meet Stanley Lambchop and his father, George.”

“We've been waiting for you!” said Uncle Jerry, pumping Stanley's hand. “Everyone's been working around the clock.” He ushered them down the hall to a bank of elevators. Inside, Jerry punched
B
for basement. “Wait until you see what we've come up with!”

The elevator doors opened onto a laboratory. People in white coats and sneakers were hurrying back and forth, but they all stopped in their tracks when they saw Stanley and Lily.

“Team!” said Uncle Jerry. “Meet Stanley!”

Everyone called out welcoming words.

“Stanley's just like us,” he said. “He thinks Lily Pad here has a crazy idea. But you know the thing about crazy ideas? They're the only ones big enough to change the world. That's why he's agreed to be part of her plan. So let's do
our
part and give Stanley a boost, shall we?”

Uncle Jerry pressed a button, and a big black screen rose up from a slot in the floor. In front of it hung a glimmering black jumpsuit stretched around a mannequin shaped just like Stanley. The suit covered everything except the eyes, like a ninja costume. Meanwhile, there was webbed fabric connecting the arms to the sides of the legs, almost like the wings of a bat.

“Coooool,” said Stanley.

“Introducing the Flat Stanley Flight Suit Version 8.2,” announced Uncle Jerry. “Strong as steel. Waterproof. Lightning-proof. Windproof. Tear-proof. Injury-resistant. Stanley, I think it's safe to say you're in for the smoothest flight of your life. But that's not all.” He pushed another button, and the big screen behind the suit turned bright green. All at once, the suit turned the same shade of green. The board turned blue, and the suit turned blue. Stanley could barely see it against the background. “It's also self-camouflaging,” Uncle Jerry said excitedly.

“Stanley the Flat Chameleon!” Lily giggled as she spun around in her chair. “As far as the world knows, I'll just be a girl in a wheelchair rolling across the water . . . like
magic
.”

BOOK: Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #12: Escape to California
13.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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