JAKE AND THE DYNAMO
CHAPTER 5: SPACESHIPS AND DINOSAURS
Strict rules governed physical contact between teachers and students, but in the heat of the moment, Miss Percy apparently forgot them.
She grabbed Jake by a belt loop and the back of his collar and hauled him away from Dana. He could have fought off the teacher as easily as he fought off the little girl, but he didn’t resist. Instead, slouching with his hands in his pockets, he stared at the floor while Miss Percy clutched his shoulders, shook him, and wept.
“How could you?” she cried. “How could you?”
“Miss Percy, I can explain. See, Dana pushed me in here and attacked … okay, forget it. I don’t believe that either.”
Dana sat up on the wrestling mats, flicked a strand of hair over an ear, and watched the proceedings with her usual glower.
Miss Percy pounded her fists against Jake’s chest. “Now no man will ever marry her!”
“What? What are you talking about?”
A loud boom rocked the school. With a shriek, Miss Percy fell against him.
Then came another boom. A trickle of plaster rained from the ceiling. Miss Percy dug her fingers into the cloth of Jake’s shirt and squeezed her eyes shut.
The pen in Dana’s pocket buzzed. She rose, brushed her hands down the front of her skirt, and ran from the cupboard.
Jake pushed Miss Percy off and followed.
“Wait!” Miss Percy called, running after. “There’s a shelter in the basement! Both of you!”
Another boom, louder this time, almost knocked Jake from his feet. He stumbled into a wall. The gym’s rafters creaked, and more dust dropped to the floor.
Miss Percy sank to her knees. “Don’t leave me!”
Jake paused. Dana had already slammed her way out through the gym doors and into the hall. She might be out of the building by now.
He made up an excuse. “Dana just ran out! I gotta go get her!”
Miss Percy pounded a fist into the hardwood floor. “You leave her alone!”
“Go to the shelter, Miss Percy. There’s somethin’ I gotta do.” He sprinted to the hall door, jumped, twisted in the air, and smashed his hip into the crash bar. Once in the hall, he ran toward the nearest outside door and repeated the maneuver.
Why don’t I just go to the shelter? It’s not like Pretty Dynamo needs me to—
He stepped out onto the playground, stopped, tilted his head back, and stared.
“Holy Moon Princess.”
Overhead, a huge, black disc blotted out most of the sky and shrouded the city in twilight. Lights twinkled on its underside like the windows of a nighttime city. Around it flitted smaller discs, roaring like jets. Each of the discs, with a high-pitched whine, released pulses of green light into the city. Wherever the light struck, something exploded with a roar that shook the earth. Tongues of flame and clouds of dark smoke streamed into the sky.
From deep in the city arose the wail of a Klaxon, a signal used in times past for air raids. Attacks were so common now, the air raid siren only sounded for the worst threats—the ones that might annihilate Urbanopolis entirely and wipe the human race from the face of the Earth.
With her back to him and her pen to her mouth, Dana also watched the sky. She turned. Her hard eyes bored into him.
“It’s just me,” he said. “Miss Percy’s still inside. Hurry up and transform.”
“Turn around,” she answered.
Her cheeks turned pink. She hunched her shoulders and fumbled with her pen. “Because.”
“Knock it off, Dana! There’s no time for—”
She stomped her feet. “Turn around! I … I mean … when I change, I lose … I lose my …”
The color in her cheeks spread until her whole face was bright. She tapped her index fingers together and looked away from him, jaw clenched.
That’s right. She didn’t get my second note.
“You mean you lose your clothes? I’ve already seen you transform.”
Now her face turned purple. “You—?”
“How do you think I knew you were Pretty Dynamo?”
Dana sank to the ground and pressed her face to her knees. “Now no man will ever marry me!”
“What? Dana, seriously—”
Her head snapped up. “Creep! Weirdo! Pervert! I can’t believe you saw—”
“No offense, but you’ve got nothing to see.”
She gritted her teeth, and her knuckles turned white as she dug her nails into her palms. “Jake!”
“For example, no belly button.”
She shot from the ground and sprinted for him at full speed, faster than he had thought she could move. She slammed the toe of a Mary Jane into his shin and sent a spike of pain straight up his leg. It dropped him to the ground. For good measure, she beat her fists on the back of his head.
“Jerk! Idiot! Stupid-head!”
“All right, all right!” He jumped up and pinned her arms to her sides. Her eyes went wide again.
He shoved her away, not quite hard enough to knock her down. “I will turn around, okay? I promise. Just hurry the heck up!”
Crossing his arms and muttering to himself, he faced the door.
Behind him, she shouted, “Shock my heart!”
As if cold water had poured down his neck, he jumped and gasped when his hair stood on end and crackles of electricity snapped against his shoulders. In spite of his promise, caught by surprise, he spun around and saw her transform anyway.
Red hair whipping wildly, Dana lifted into the air. Dynamo’s blue skirt sprouted from her waist like a flower opening its petals. As she spun, bands of light appeared and solidified into her armor. Her hair turned blue, and the amber stone appeared on her brow.
“By the power of Zeus, Thor, and Raijin, release the energies within my soul! Electrifying the world with love and friendship—and making evildoers feel the wattage of justice—I am Magical Girl Pretty Dynamo!”
Pretty Dynamo stood before him, hand raised in salute to the Moon Princess. She was no bigger than Dana. She was just as short and just as skinny, but she radiated brassy confidence. She marched to Jake, clenched a fist, and socked him in the gut.
Unlike Dana’s harmless punches, Dynamo’s lifted him from his feet and knocked the wind from his lungs. He collapsed to his knees and clutched his middle. His vision swam with spots. For a moment, he thought he might cement his reputation as the Barfing Boy.
“Ecchi. I told you to turn around.”
Gasping like a fish, he struggled to answer and finally wheezed, “That was before you shocked me!”
With a grunt, she gripped his left arm and hauled him to his feet. “Don’t stand too close to a transforming magical girl. You never know what’ll hit you.”
“A fist, apparently.” He tried to slap her arm away, but the back of his hand bounced from her flesh as if he’d struck a band of steel. He sucked in his breath and winced.
She gingerly probed his stomach with her fingertips. “I didn’t hurt you, did I? Sometimes I forget how hard I can hit in this form.”
“If you didn’t hit me at all, you wouldn’t have that problem.”
She patted him twice on the shoulder, as if he was a good horse. “You’ll be okay. Get underground, Jake. There’s nothing you can do to help, and I’m not haulin’ your flabby butt around with me on this run.”
Jake yelped and ducked as a loud insect’s buzz sounded from behind. Tesla the lightning bug flew past his head and alighted on Dynamo’s shoulder.
“Ah,” said Tesla as he sniffed and adjusted his glasses, “that young man is back. Barfing Boy, wasn’t it?”
Backing toward the school doors, Jake mimicked Dynamo’s salute. “I hate your guts, Dana, but that’s not important right now. Go get ’em, tiger.”
“Heh. Don’t forget you owe me one.” She tossed the blue rectangle from her belt. “Circuit Board!”
As she stepped onto her flying snowboard, he called, “If you kick some extraterrestrial butt, save the city, and come back in one piece, then, um, maybe I’ll buy you dinner or something.”
Her lopsided grin grew wider. “I’ll hold you to that.” With a whoop, she blasted away into the sky.
Shoot. Did I just ask a magical girl on a date? I wasn’t thinking.
The Dark Queen swept into the Rec Room of Darkness, where she found several of her slavering minions lounging on the couches and reclining chairs, eating snack food, and watching the big-screen TV. On the screen, a huge saucer hovered over Urbanopolis and blasted away at its buildings. Skyscrapers exploded in fireballs and then crumbled to the ground in streams of gray debris. The city fought back: the turrets on its rim had swiveled inward to vomit shells and rolling-airframe missiles at the invaders. From several towers, machine guns blazed, and anti-aircraft artillery cannons filled the air with black bursts. Magical girls flitted through the sky, their attacks appearing as multicolored bursts of light. The film apparently came from a helicopter; both the whud-whud of the chopper’s rotors and a reporter’s frantic but garbled voice sounded over the action.
“What is going on?” the Queen demanded.
Chirops stuffed a clawful of popcorn into his mouth and wiggled his little feet. “The Robosaurs from Andromeda are attacking Urbanopolis, Your Darkness! Wanna watch?”
“Robosaurs?” She checked her watch. “They weren’t due for another three weeks!”
Her purplish lips pursed, the witch Matilda sucked cola through a straw. “Intergalactic travel. It’s the relativistic effects. You can’t schedule these things too exactly.”
The Queen made an aggravated rasping sound in her throat. “This is why I hate working with subcontractors. And why are you here, Matilda? Aren’t you supposed to be searching for Pretty Dynamo’s boyfriend?”
Matilda shrugged. “I checked the rosters of the all the middle schools and high schools. Nothing.”
“That’s no excuse! Check again! He has to be in there somewhere!”
“You gotta admit,” said Chirops as he munched more popcorn, “they’ve set up a serious attack. They’ll probably take out several magical girls with this one, and they might even destroy one of the Crystals.”
A blur of whirling arms and legs plummeted past the camera. Several trolls on the far end of the room hooted and laughed.
“Was that Card Collector Kasumi?” one called.
“I think it was!”
“Idiots!” the Queen cried. “With their firepower, we could have destroyed all the Crystals! The Moon Kingdom could be ours! Don’t they realize what they’ve done?”
Chirops licked artificial butter from his claws. “Maybe they’ll—”
“No,” said the Queen, clenching her fists and shaking her head. “They’ve doomed themselves, the fools.”
Jake was about to head back into the building, but Miss Percy crashed through the doors and ran into him, nearly bowling him over.
She clutched his shirt. “Dana! Where’s Dana?”
“Um … I can’t find her!”
“Oh no! We have to look—”
“I really think we should get in the shelter now, Miss Percy.”
She yanked on his bowtie and screamed in his face. “I can’t abandon a student—!”
“Trust me, she’s fine.”
“Oh, so you’re the love ’em and leave ’em type, are you?”
In fear and surprise, they jumped into each other’s arms when a huge metal sphere, at least eight feet across, crashed into the playground. It smashed the slide and sent woodchips and shards of aluminum high into the air.
“Oh my Princess!” Miss Percy cried. She clawed at Jake’s back in panic. “Oh my Princess, they’re dropping bombs!”
“Looks like this one’s a dud—”
“We’re going to die!” she sobbed, tears streaming freely from her eyes. “I’m going to die young! I’m going to die single! Oh sweet Princess, I’m gonna die a virgin!” She buried her face against Jake’s chest.
“No man will ever marry me!” she blubbered.
“I hear there’s a lot of that going around.”
Miss Percy wasn’t his type, but now that she was clutching him and shuddering, he couldn’t help but notice that her soft brown hair might be alluring if she undid that bun and let it down. She had warm, brown eyes behind her thick glasses, and though she was almost but not quite twice his age, she was still young and rather pretty. She turned her face up to his, eyes wet and pleading. He found his head, almost of its own accord, leaning down and tilting—
The metal sphere clattered and whirred. With a squeak, Miss Percy leapt backwards out of Jake’s arms. He clapped a hand to his mouth as heat rushed into his face.
Holy Moon Princess, I almost kissed my teacher!
Out on the playground, the sphere unfolded like an origami box. Little squares popped out, twisted, and then popped back in. The sphere elongated. It sprouted metal legs, a tail, horns, a face—in a moment, it had taken on definite form, the form of a Triceratops made of steel.
Like a threatening bull, it pawed the woodchips, snorted, and lowered its head.
Gently, Jake took Miss Percy’s arm, held a hand toward the mechanical dinosaur, and took a cautious step forward. “Okay, if real life is anything like cartoons, this one should be friendly.”
“Friendly? Why should it be friendly?”
“Plant-eating dinosaurs are always friendly. It’s the carnosaurs you have to watch out for.”
“Jake, big animals can kill you even if they eat plants!”
With a high-pitched, metallic roar, the Triceratops charged.
“Stupid cartoons!” Jake grabbed Miss Percy around the waist and under the knees, hiked her into his arms, and took off running along the side of the building.
Fortunately, the Triceratops, like a rhinoceros, had a hard time turning. It plowed straight into the school’s metal fire doors. With an ear-piercing shriek, the doors crumpled inward. As the dinosaur snarled and snorted, its thick feet slid on the concrete stoop. It swung its head back and forth, shattering the fixed window lights set in the doorframe. Finally, with a grunt, it pulled itself out of the wreckage. It yanked half the frame out of the wall with its crest and sent it clattering across the ground. Once it reoriented, the Triceratops charged again.
“It’s coming!” Miss Percy shouted as her fingers dug into Jake’s upper arm. “What do we do?”
“Roof!” Jake reached the inside corner of the building’s “L.” There, a narrow service ladder, bolted into the brick, led upward. He threw Miss Percy at it. She grabbed a rung, but hesitated, so he thrust a shoulder under her buttocks and shoved.
Still, she was too slow. He practically climbed over her to escape the dinosaur, and his left foot was barely more than an inch above its high crest when the creature smashed into the brick wall. The lower half of the ladder bent inward. Bricks and mortar rained onto the dinosaur’s broad back and tumbled to the ground. The shock nearly shook Jake’s fingers from the rungs.
With a scream, Miss Percy slipped. Squeezing a rung in his left hand, Jake shot out his right and seized her wrist as she dropped past. His shoulder wrenched, but his grip held. She swung hard against his legs and banged his knees into the wall.
The pain stabbed straight up into his crotch. Tears formed in his eyes, but he choked back a gasp.
Her other hand grabbed his elbow, but her feet dangled just above the Triceratops’s back. Its head was buried in the new hole in the wall, but its metal tail whipped back and forth as its powerful hind legs scrabbled against the asphalt.
“Climb up my back!” Jake shouted.
“I can’t!” she screamed.
With his feet alone, he hauled himself up another couple of rungs, but he didn’t dare move his left hand.
“You have to!” he shouted.
Whimpering, she let go of his elbow, stretched, and slapped her hand against his shoulder instead. With a groan, she slid slowly up his back and grasped a rung next to his head.
He swallowed a lump as he felt her womanly contours pressing through his shirt.
This is the closest I’ve ever been to a woman … no, wait! This is not the time for that!
Growling, the Triceratops pulled more bricks to the ground with its crest as it backed up. With a roar, it reared and planted its forelimbs on the wall. Jake pulled up his feet to escape its huge, snapping beak.
“Whoa!” he cried. “I didn’t know they could do that!”
Spikes shot out of the bottoms of the dinosaur’s thick feet and penetrated the bricks with a loud shraaack! Slowly, with the hiss and groan of straining machinery, it began to climb.
“Great shining Moon Princess! Faster, Miss Percy! Faster!”
With a scream, Miss Percy clambered over him and momentarily pushed first her breasts, then her crotch, and then the length of her soft thighs against the back of his head as she passed.
He slammed his forehead into the wall.
This is not the time for that, this is not the time for that—
Once she was above him, he climbed. When he looked up, he found himself peering up her skirt at her red silk panties.
“Augh!” he yelled. “There’s no escape!”
“We can escape!” she yelled back. “We just have to try!”
Miss Percy reached the flat asphalt roof, and Jake was right behind. The Triceratops was considerably slower, but it was definitely coming: Jake could hear a steady whistle, crack, and thud as it shot spikes into the wall and walked its way upward.
His eyes swept the roof. He saw several turbine vents and an equipment shed, but he saw little else. Overhead, the sky was a war zone: lights flashed from the magical girls, green beams of death poured into the city, and shells and missiles exploded. More spheres tumbled out of the sky, each no doubt containing another death-dealing robotic dinosaur.
Miss Percy leaned against his chest. A few loose strands of hair blew across her face. Her lips trembled. “Is this it?” she whispered. “Is this the end of Urbanopolis? The end of the world? The end of humanity?”
“I don’t know.”
Her fingers tightened around his blue bowtie. “Where’s the Moon Princess when we need her? Where is she?”
He slipped an arm around her waist. “I don’t know, Miss Percy.”
Her glasses slid down her nose, and her brown eyes glistened as she gazed over them. Her voice was breathy. “If this is it, if this is my last moment on Earth, I just want one thing.” She closed her eyes and tilted her head back, lips slightly parted.
“Um, Miss Percy—”
The Triceratops reached the lip of the roof, raised its beak into the air, and trumpeted like a tinny recording of an elephant. Miss Percy released Jake and jumped away. He turned to the monster, clenched his fists, and contemplated just how much being gored was going to hurt.
The dinosaur pulled itself completely onto the roof and tore up several shingles as it lowered its head and pawed.
Out of ideas, Jake opted for braggadocio. “Come and get me, you ugly, mother-hugging crud-for-brains!”
“Jake!” gasped Miss Percy. “Language!”
“You used to be my favorite dinosaur!” Jake screamed. “But you know what? When I get home, I am throwing my Triceratops plush toy in the trash! Yeah, that’s right!”
Cheeks burning, he glanced over his shoulder at his teacher. “Not that I actually have a Triceratops plush toy—”
The dinosaur snarled and charged.
Jake hurled himself out of the way and tackled Miss Percy. Twisting as he fell, he took the brunt of the impact against his left side and scraped most of the skin from his forearm. Unable to check its forward rush, the dinosaur rumbled past, reached the opposite edge of the roof, and, with a squeal and a terrible crash, plummeted to the ground.
Jake puffed for almost a minute until he caught his breath. “Huh. That thing is really stupid.”
After disentangling himself from Miss Percy, he sat up. With a faint clearing of the throat, she raised herself to her knees and brushed her hands down the front of her skirt.
“You okay?” he asked.
She interlaced her fingers and gazed at the rooftop.
“Miss Percy? You okay?”
“Mr. Blatowski,” she said faintly, “would you mind, um, forgetting everything that just happened?”
He ran his fingers through his hair. “Not in the least.” With a groan, he staggered to his feet and offered Miss Percy a hand.
After helping her up, he peered over the edge of the roof. The Triceratops had cracked the concrete walk around the flagpole in front of the school. It lay on its side, its limbs flopping as it struggled to stand. “These aren’t kaiju. They might not be smart, but they are hunter-types. How deep is the school’s shelter?”
“Deep,” she said. “Doors are all reinforced to regulation, and it’s got the usual mole tunnels, so they couldn’t bury us.”
“We better get in it, then.”
He stared again into the sky. Pink, purple, and blue streaks of light left afterimages in his eyes. One of the smaller flying saucers, trailing smoke and flame, plummeted toward the bay.
She slipped her hand into his. “No. We have to find Dana. I’m not going to abandon a student.”