Mrs. Halebopp, English
May 31, 2174
The Process Of Terraforming, Made Simple
So here's what they do: The Project sends exploration crews out to search for ice. And when I say out to search for it, I don't just mean out to the Plug 'n' Sip to find a bag of ice. It'd have to be a honkin' big bag of ice, because it would have to cover part of a PLANET. That's what the crazy Project dudes want. Ice on a planet. So they can melt it. So how do they melt it? With gigantic mirrors! In space! That look kind of like sails on old-fashioned ships! The mirror-sails can range anywhere from five milesacross to two hundred miles across, can you believe that?!
Once the space crews are finished building the mirror-sails (sometimes this takes years and years), they glide the gigantic mirror-sails over the ice on the planet and then turn the sails toward the sun. Why do they do that, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.The sails reflect the sun's heat down onto the ice and melt it. My dad showed me how this works by taking a magnifying glass outside and using it to melt an ice cube. It's more fun to fry ants this way, so I wonder if maybe the mirror-sails could be used to fry aliens. Anyway, the ice starts to melt and that releases carbon dioxide into the air. Carbon dioxide is the stuff humans spew out when they breathe. This helps to heat the planet up somehow. Once the planet heats up and the water melts, it's easy to start growing plants and grasses and things like that. That's when the fast-growing plants and frankenbugs and bacteria and stuff are dropped onto the plnet. Then, a few years later--voila--Earth II (or III or IV). The whole process is called terraforming. Some people are really against it, like my sister, Nita. But other people think it's just great. I don't really care one way or another.
All in all, a much better report than last time, Mike. You have to stop with the editorial comments, though, and you MUST START USING PROPER PARAGRAPHS. Research reports are serious work. You are presenting facts. Please keep that in mind when you rewrite this paper. (And don't be discouraged, Mike. This will make a decent ten-minute speech due NEXT MONTH.) C+
"Rewrite? Ten-minute speech? Arrgh. I knew Mrs. Halebopp was out to get me." I marched over to a tree, thought about kicking it, and stomped on the ground instead.
"Her giant head blocks out the sun and her black-hole eyes read my mind. I know they do." I shook my report at my friend Stinky for emphasis. "It already took me like eight million years to research this paper, now I have to do it again? And read it in front of people? I am toast."
Stinky stared with his mouth kind of open. I'm not usually a stomping and yelling kind of kid.
"Worse than toast," I continued, my voice cracking, making me madder. "I'm oily, melted margarine dripping off of toast and onto the floor. I'll be smeared into the carpet at school. Forever. No escape."
I crumpled up the cellopage printout of my report and threw it into an ant bed I'd been nudging with my foot. The ants streamed over it, seething, taking out their frustration on my 100 percent recyclable, 100 percent doomed report.
"Mike?" Stinky gawked as if my head had exploded. "You need to seriously cut back on the drama."
Stinky was always saying that. I could be on fire, with robots eating my legs, and he'd be all, "Calm down, man. Things'll be fiiiine." It was funny, because just looking at him, you'd think Stinky would be the opposite. His hair stood up like his mom must've accidentally electrocuted him when he was a baby. His arms were splotchy with freckles; his laugh sounded like a machine gun. He seemed like the human embodiment of the word "staccato." And yet he was as calm as the wake of a Dirigible Cruiser.
He was silly and fun and, well, not actually very stinky. But he'd been my friend since we were both in diapers, and I didn't care that people still jokingly held their noses whenever he walked by. (You accidentally drop air-freshener tablets into the boys' room toilets instead of the stink bombs you promised, and apparently, you never live down everyone's disappointment.)
Stinky was my best friend and I listened to him . . . most of the time. So I sat down on the ground (away from the ants) and put my face in my hands. "You need to just relax. Mrs. Halebopp, she's not the devil. I mean, she did give you a C+. That's a hundred times better than your astrophysics report."
I winced. I still didn't know anything about astrophysics.
"Thanks," I said.
Stinky punched me on the shoulder. My mouth curled into a tiny O. If only he punched as carefully as he chose his stink bombs.
"Your paper isn't that bad, Mike. I know you feel this pressure or whatever 'cause your mom and dad are big shots over at the Project, but I don't think Mrs. Halebopp cares about that. She might not even know about it."
"Ha!" I said, rubbing my face and my hair. I smelled my hands. Shampoo, head grease, humiliation . . . yep . . . that was me, all right.
Excerpted from Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel by K. A. Holt. Copyright © 2010 by K. A. Holt. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.