He couldn’t think what his mom would be expecting him to do if he got home and she wasn’t there. Chad sat on the porch steps and let his face drop into his hands. Tears itched the back of his eyes.
He had messed up again! If only he hadn’t gotten turned around and backwards on his way home. He probably would have gotten back in time to meet his mom if he had just taken the Birch Street route. It would have been worth getting beat up just to meet his mom like a normal day.
Just then, a car horn attracted his attention. There was Chad’s mom, just driving up, babbling away on her cell phone.
“…Telling you that if you are not more careful, we will just have to find another housekeeper! I’m serious! How many times have I told you: the blue china goes on the top shelf, and tea sets need to be dusted by hand. No more using the duster, Anise!”
Chad jumped to his feet and ran over to her as she kept right on chastising the housekeeper. She carried a plastic bag around her wrist. Anise offered a reply, giving Sharon a chance to mouth sorry to her worried son, and she handed him the bag.
Chad peeked inside, and his eyes lit up. A whole set of modeling clay, in ten different colors! Chad saw red, orange, black, green, blue, purple, brown, pink, yellow—even a brick of glow-in-the-dark clay! He was so excited, he didn’t even wait to get inside. He plunked right down on the porch steps as his mom walked inside, pulling out the clay and ripping into the packaging.
Molding the substance between his fingers, Chad’s imagination activated, and he began forming the colors into various shapes and sizes, placing the pieces together. Soon, he had an array of robot figurines, all of similar shape and size, but different colors.
The first figure he made with the yellow and black clay.
“This is Zandor,” he whispered to himself. “Zandor can sense if someone or something is true.”
He molded a second figure out of the red and purple clay. “Marquiam has the power of flight,” he said.
The green and brown clay soon became a figure named Chariostes, who could control the elements. With blue and orange, he made a builder bot named Tecchon. The pink and black became a robot named Voxx that could communicate telepathically and mimic voices. Finally, out of the glow-in-the-dark clay, he formed one last figurine: Illuminus, who could of course light the way in the dark.
Chad was having so much fun imagining all sorts of adventures with his six heroes that he didn’t even notice the other kids coming up the street till one of them yelled, “Hey!”
Chad looked up. Justice and his buddies were walking right toward him! There wasn’t time to grab all the figurines and run. He could only sit and wait as they approached, scowling at him.
“Missed you today, Shrimpy!” Justice sneed, towering over him.
“Watcha got there?” asked Corbin. “Play-doh?”
Chad was frozen to the spot. What were they going to do now?”
Mando and Tyler were already hovering over the figurines. “Look!” said Dune, “It’s a dogpile!” She had smashed the six robots that Chad had pieced together so carefully together in one big mess. Justice picked up the wads of leftover clay.
“Hey, this is cool stuff,” he said, “I wanna play too!” and to Chad’s horror, he took all of that nice, new clay and pressed it together in one wad, mixing the colors hopelessly together.
“Stop!” Chad wailed, but Justice shoved him to the ground.
“Oops,” he said, but he grinned anyway. He dropped the wad of clay, and it splatted on the gritty pavement. “See you tomorrow, sucker!” and with that, the six bullies moved on, leaving the despondent Chad with a pile of broken figurines and a wad of useless, marbled clay.
Hot tears welled in his eyes, and Chad gently picked up the figurines one by one. It took a very long time, but he got them separated once again. Laying them gently in the plastic bag, separated by sections of the clay’s original packaging, he held the bag in one hand and picked up the wad of clay in the other. The bottom was coated with grit from the pavement. There was no way he was getting it all out; the bullies had ruined everything. Chad trudged inside, only to be met with frustration from his mom.
“Chad! Not all over the clean floor!” She pointed to his feet. “Look at your shoes!”
“But—“ Chad wanted to show her the clay, but she wasn’t paying attention to him any more.
He ignored her protests and ran upstairs. He got to the second floor and kept right on going, up the tiny back stairwell that led to the attic. He knew his mom wouldn’t try to follow him up there.
Sure enough, as he dropped the bag of heroes on the floor and knelt down and squashed the ruined clay between his hands, he could hear her voice floating from the bottom of the attic stairs.
“Chad? Are you in the attic? Come down, honey! There’s a storm coming and I don’t want you to be playing near the antenna!”
Chad glanced up as she said that. In the center of the room was the base of their TV antenna. The pedestal supporting it was like a short table. Still seething with anger at the meanness of the bullies, Chad deliberately picked up the dusty, gritty wad of clay and set it on the surface of the wide pedestal. Working quickly, he made one more figure, this one a little bit bigger than the others and studded with the grit.
“This is Ferristral,” he whispered to the other figurines he had made. “He has all the powers—and he is going to get revenge!”
A flash of lightning and a thunderclap punctuated his words.