Another Ten Seconds
Chapter 6: The Scotch Box
by Jeff Rand
An old car accelerated up the long hill heading north along Route 24 near Mount Christie, the highpoint of Lapeer County. As the needle on the speedometer of this old fashioned behemoth grazed the upper side of 100 miles per hour, the driver was oblivious to his excessive pressure on the accelerator. The car was a vintage Pontiac Bonneville with a rather substantial gas loving 450 cubic inch engine. It was certainly a departure from the modern fuel cell automobiles. Very few gasoline-powered engines were ever made as large.
Fortunately for the older gentleman driving the vehicle, the chance of encountering a law enforcement officer was quite slim. Rarely was a police officer required for a mundane task like traffic control. Every vehicle manufactured in the last 15 years had an ETS system. The ETS or environment and traffic sensor system carefully monitored all road conditions and the location of other vehicles to allow for the safe handling of the automobile. A sophisticated computer controlled most of the function in operating the vehicle, which allowed the driver to serve a secondary role. As a result, excessive speed was no longer considered a major safety concern.
Although the car had the driver as its sole occupant, it was filled to the brim with equipment. Besides three sleeping bags and two extra coats, the trunk held four air mattresses and a box of partially burned charcoal. Three anatomical dummies accompanied a myriad of first aid equipment packed in the rear seat. The front seat held photography equipment and a box of old Boy Scout Handbooks.
As the driver neared the top of the hill, he glanced at the speedometer. Thinking that a speed limit of 55 still existed, he quickly removed his foot from the accelerator. After a few seconds the car slowed to 80 before his concentration became diverted and again his foot fell down hard upon the gas pedal. Near the base of the hill he reached 110 miles per hour, before he had another slowing, followed by a period of excessive acceleration.
He nearly missed the turn from Route 24 to Dryden Road. He did not remember M-24 being a four-lane highway this far north and the road to Metamora had come much quicker than expected. The abrupt breaking action to make the turn after travelling at 100 miles per hour made some skid marks and produced a rather messy steering maneuver that caused the car to side swipe a stump on the far side of Dryden Road. Fortunately, no one else was around at 5:30 a.m. and he passed the speed limit sign at the edge of Metamora, now moving along at close to 70. A modern vehicle would have slowed immediately, but the combination of an old vehicle and driver, made it necessary for another screeching stop at the traffic light in the center of town.
At precisely the seventh second after the seventh minute after the seventh hour on the seventh day of winter, by reckoning of Winter Camp Savings Time, a loud train whistle sounded in High Point Cabin. Soon a full array of sounds and actions greeted the awakening campers. High Point, called the Senior Citizen's Center, was filled with eldest of the Winter Campers, who were eagerly awaiting the first successful automated breakfast.
Well into his tenth decade of life, Gordon W. Draper still enjoyed this opportunity to play with the kids. He chose the less elaborate breakfast of a toasted bagel and hot coffee. He had placed a small coffee maker and toaster oven next to his bunk before going to bed. As the wakeup whistle announced the start of breakfast, a simple electronic timer brought the toaster and coffee maker into action.
Douglas Wilson chose a more elaborate arrangement inspired by his childhood memories of Captain Kangaroo and Mister Green Jeans. With the assistance of Roger Horn and Jeff Rand, he installed a model railroad as a transportation network for the Automated Breakfast. The railroad stretched from the kitchen through a series of tunnels to reach the sleeping area. Three empty cereal bowls were affixed to flat cars with Velcro. Alternating with the flat cars were three tank cars to transport potable liquids to the campers.
As the whistle finished sounding, a timer triggered, setting the model railroad into motion. Initially, as electric current was applied to the tracks, the O-gauge locomotive energized and pulled the six cars into the center of the kitchen. When it reached the first track sensor, the current ceased and the train parked momentarily. An electronic timer then activated to open a chute, which happened to be just above the first flat car and its cereal bowl. A small door opened on a silo, which released its contents into the chute. After about three seconds the door closed, having sent about 2 ½ ounces of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes down the chute into the bowl. When the bowl was filled, the electronic timer finished its cycle and once again activated the track. The train moved two car lengths before reaching a second sensor to again activate the timer. This time the second flat car and bowl were under the cereal chute.
As the process proceeded with the second cereal bowl, the first car and bowl had moved beneath a tank. A refrigeration coil allowed the tank to maintain its contents below the standard of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. A small electric valve controlled the release of liquid. While the second cereal bowl was filling, this tank mechanism released several ounces of milk onto the cereal in the first bowl. This completed the process for the first bowl, as the choice of Frosted Flakes eliminated the need for an application of sugar.
Once all three cereal bowls had been filled, the train moved forward to another tank apparatus. The process at this station took a bit longer, as it involved more than pre-packaged food. Here a corkscrew mechanism and cider press successfully squeezed the juice of three oranges to flow into the first of the tank cars. The train moved forward and the process was repeated for the second and third tankers. After having successfully constructing this invention, Roger Horn had remarked that next year "Old Betsey" would be hooked up to a milking machine.
The train moved through a small tunnel into the main room. Here it would turn towards the three bunks. Once it reached each camper, it would release two cars, a flat car and a tanker. The train successfully navigated the tunnel and moved quickly into the room. The engine reached the curve with the first of the flat cars and tankers directly behind. It was the second set that failed to negotiate the curve and spilled unto the floor. Unfortunately in the process, the entire train derailed.
Just as Doug Wilson lamented on another failed automated breakfast, two men entered the cabin. An older gentleman dressed in a vintage Boy Scout uniform accompanied Mick Belmont to greet those in the cabin.
"Boys, it's time to get your uniforms on," said the old gentlemen, spoken in low hoarse voice. "What's this on the floor? I hope you boys aren't eating one of those sugary cereals."
Still in his bunk, Doug Wilson spoke, "Excellent, you're a great impersonator."
Mick walked over to the wall and turned on the light. Four sets of eyes focused on the old gentleman, now standing in the middle of the room.
Again, Doug spoke, "And the disguise is perfect too!"
"Douglas Ronald Wilson, is it you?" said the gentleman.
"No it's Douglas Roland Wilson," interjected Jeff.
The gentleman turned towards Jeff, "Well, I would be quite surprised to see Douglas Roland, even if he was the first lodge officer to come from Troop 842. And I suppose you are Jeffrey John Rand."
"The real question is who are you?" said Roger to enter the conversation.
"You, I don't remember. Wait. Oh yes, you're the one who tricked me into walking down to the ceremony site back in 1979. It's Roger Horn, I believe."
"Roger Dale Horn," said Jeff. "You must be slipping."
"Sure. Now it's past reveille, boys. Time to get out of bed and put your uniforms on," said the stranger.
Wanting to oblige the request, Doug crawled from his bed, and dressed in blue jeans and a flannel shirt. Likewise, Gordon, Jeff and Roger got dressed in the clothing they intended to wear for the coming day. Roger grabbed a broom and pushed the train wreck to the side.
Doug walked over to the stranger, who was remarkably true to memory. He appeared to be about 80 years old, with sparse gray hair. His wore a slight smile on his wrinkled face. He was short, but a bit husky for a man of his years.
When the stranger saw Gordon, his expression became puzzled, "You, I don't know."
"I'm Gordon W. Draper, former lodge advisor of the Mi-Gi-Si O-Paw-Gan Lodge," said Gordon.
"Oh yes, you held the position about ten years after I did, back in the mid-seventies I believe."
"Actually, I held it twice," said Gordon.
Mick stepped beside the stranger, "I know you all doubt the evidence you see before you. Let me introduce my first and most successful project. We called it project Hal."
Mick continued, "It was December 1988 when I was involved in the construction of the first cryonic chamber. My colleagues and I were thrilled to find a suitable subject in Southeastern Michigan. Hal has been resting for the past 42 years in our chamber waiting for the medical advances in cardiology necessary to repair the damage he suffered from a series of strokes. Hal was successfully revived and repaired a few days ago. Last night he was released to make the trip to Winter Camp."
"I know you will all want to get reacquainted with my friend. Why don't we reconvene with the rest of the group at the BC Building."
Hal gave a quick wave and followed Mick outside. The others stood speechless for a moment. Never to miss a hiking opportunity, Jeff left to follow them.
Doug, Gordon, and Roger decided to take the underground shuttle. Doug was the first to get into the kitchen and walk over to the industrial quality refrigerator/freezer. Before opening the door to the refrigerator he called out, "CHR lives." Then he opened the door, ducking a bit before being lowered to the chamber below the cabin.
Soon Roger helped Gordon unto the elevator and the two of them joined Doug in the chamber below. The trio boarded a waiting SWCSV and arrived a few seconds later at the Beaver Creek Building.
Although breakfast was an optional activity, the group gathered an hour early in the BC Building to start the morning activities. Mick Belmont effectively spread rumors regarding an important announcement to assure this promptness. The old men from High Point said nothing to the other campers, joining them in the main room. The only camper not present was John Howey, who had gone back to bed after witnessing the early morning word game.
Belmont walked to the front of the room, absent his guest. He spoke to the group, "Gentlemen, I have the privilege of introducing a very important guest. Or rather I'm introducing one of our very own, who attended his last Winter Camp 47 years ago."
All eyes turned towards the older gentleman, who had just entered the room.
Belmont continued, "You all know that Scouting has been around for 120 years. May I introduce our special guest who was born fourteen months before the Boy Scouts of America was organized. Please welcome your old friend, a man without a middle name, -- Harold Oatley."
Most hands found their mates and applauded the announcement. It was the old timers who remained silent.
Finally Steve Donohue spoke, "Mister Oatley, you certainly appeared dead at your funeral forty-two years ago. Are you telling us that you rose from the grave?"
Mister Oatley [Even the author must use the proper title] replied, "No, I am not God. I was fortunate to meet Michael Edgar Belmont while recovering from a stroke in 1988. Some of you may recall that I pledged to change the spelling of the lodge name and my death in 1988 would cause me to default on a promise. Additionally, I was quite concerned about the future health habits of you boys."
"Michael was very kind to afford me a chance to serve as his first cryonic subject. My final stroke on December 10, 1988 would have been certain death, had he not placed me in cryonic suspension. I rested in this state for the past 42 years, until recent medical advances brought me back to robust health."
"What you observed in my casket was simply a wax facsimile. For years I collected bits of wax from the candles you boys used for those elaborate ceremonies. I know you boys thought you fooled me with your special effects, but did any of you know that I pillaged wax in a large kettle that I buried at the ceremony site. Likewise, I don't believe you knew of the extent of my basement in Allen Park. There in a secret room, where I stored used charcoal, I would fashion my wax sculpture."
Mr. Oatley started to work the crowd, as if he was a politician shaking hands. When he reached the Donohue brothers the physical contact increased. Ron held a tight grip on his hand, as Steve probed his face for a mask. No evidence presented itself other then him being genuine.
Near the end of the greeting ritual, John Howey entered the room, having missed the introductions. He walked over to the guest and stared at him for a few seconds. John felt excruciating pain in his head, but spoke in a challenging voice, "You are dead!" Then John collapsed.
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