The Mousetrap Car

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A bet was made that a mousetrap car could not travel in the sky. Our protagonist is tested to race his mousetrap car 100 feet across two 3,000 foot skyscrapers, and not fall off to disprove the bet. All of this, which is nearly impossible.

On October 15, 2002, a bet was made. “I would kiss a rat if mousetraps could fly through the sky”. Mousetraps normally sit on the ground and await their pray in silence. However, attach them to a block of wood, let them mate with four CD disks, and it becomes, a vehicle. The discs attach to an axle that sticks out of parallel holes on a block of wood, the mousetrap sits quietly in the center of that wood. But then we attach string, it becomes somewhat “controllable”. Then after, we add a lever arm. Hook the lever arm up to the string, and it obtains the ability to self-propel itself. Now, imagine airplanes. Look out from the best window seat you can find. You see skyscrapers much shorter, and then you see a UFO. But don’t think about saucers, you’ll fool yourself, that’s just a generality of what defines a UFO. What you see - it is a mousetrap car. The first one to ever cross the sky. And it’s moving on two wheels, riding the wind! Mousetraps can move across the sky, and for the guy that made his bet. He kissed a rat on the back. It hissed at him as if saying “you didn’t even know that mousetraps could fly?” And it was the perfect setup to shame him. Thus, here we are now, on a girder. In the, sky, ready to prove it. 
My feet touched the edge of the skyscraper. I almost buckled forward. 
“Can they really move across the sky?” I thought to myself.
I managed to see all 3,000 feet below me. The ground below became distorted and flared out the longer I looked at it. Looking up, I saw the guy at the other end raise his flag of red, and signaled me to place the mousetrap car down. I placed the car gently onto the girder, letting the wheels familiarize themselves with the girders cold, and greasy feel.
The mousetrap car was set down on the platform. The wheels shifted a little towards the edges, and kept crawling. It was about to fall. I lifted it back up and rolled the wheels across my hand.  They felt too slick, almost like rubbing against silk. The thought didn’t come quick, but I realized that I still had some tape leftover to give the wheels a bit more grip. I wrapped the tape scarcely around the wheels to my mousetrap car, and placed it back on the girder. The car only inched forward. The vehicle was now properly placed on the girder, it only had to make a trip of 100 feet. Just 100 feet, of perfect driving. I stepped back from the cart, and looked up.  The man at the other end lower his red flag. He shot out another flag from behind his back (against the early morning sun, looked red) which was orange. “Wind up your vehicle” - is what the color said to me. I wound up the fishing line to the back of the car, with the strength of my fingers detaining it against the wood. I bent over under the car to see how it aligned  with the girder. After, I poked the cart three centimeters in with a fine needle; it was aligned more perfect than an ideal 90 degree angle. I checked the cart's position on the girder more than three times. The car was now ready to start forward. 
The guy raised a green flag, and my car, began to move. 
Its long body crawled slowly first along the narrow path, 3,000 feet in the air. Any false move, or gust of wind, could dramatically change the course of the cars performance. In fact, it might fail. That’s why if anything were to happen before the lever arm slaps into the board, then the whole race is lost. Everything depends on those first fifteen seconds when it unwinds. My car is steadying down the path, its wheels don’t appear to be crooked. When I glanced down from underneath the car, it appeared to me. The wheels had a slight curve to them as they trickled down the track. They rotated with a slight fraction of a curve. But, even that was fatal. The car began to shift from the middle of the girder, and slowly outwards to the right. The wheels had made the car drift.
“Ah!” I exclaimed.
The car was approaching the edge. The wheels nailed against the outer edges. It rammed up against it and tracked the edges of the small steel beam. Just then, I felt a slight wind hit against my jacket. The wind also influenced the car, and the mousetrap car, which almost gave way, swerved back on course, straightening out after the wind passed by. It was not perfectly in the center, but was still going straight. At that moment, the car reached 40 feet out of the 100 required feet. And then, the lever arm snapped. It reached 50 feet - the halfway mark. Now all that’s left to do is trust that the car would continue to carry itself forward. That it wouldn’t teeter or pull any last minute catalysts. 60 feet, then 70. The lever arm seemed to be outstretched towards the finish line.
“Oh! It went past seventy feet. It’s going to hit the end!” a spectator shouted heartily. 
It was sure to make it. The wheels on my car performed just as good as a drag racers. Then they slowed down, nearer and nearer to the finish line. And just past 80 feet, the car, stalled. It was completely out of momentum. This isn’t supposed to happen. Since the lever arm accounted for most of the speed, I made sure to modify it so that the car could cover more than 100 feet. A leaf slipped out from under the buildings, and past the girder. It made it’s way towards me. The car started to drift back to me as well. The car backed up more than ten feet, past the seventy mark on the girder.
“Don’t come back!” I yelled.
Sixty, then almost fifty feet. 
“Shit” I wailed.
I approached the edge of the girder. The 3,000 drop wasn’t like looking at a beautiful sunset high inside a condo. It was like looking into a grave. I forced the thought out of my mind and blindly traveled across. Once at my feet, I placed my hand on the mousetrap car. I didn’t realize it, but I was far from safe. I was in the middle of the girder, with an endless drop below me. I quickly wound up the mousetrap car on it’s string, and placed it in the center (or as best as I could before I passed out) The car started and began to shift greatly. There’s no way I could get it straight as scared as I am. The rules state that the mousetrap car should cross continuously in a single run. Therefore, the only way to complete the run, is to carry the car across. But even after that, I would still have lost the race because I interfered with the cars performance. What else is there to even do?
Both me and the car lifted ourselves stable, but the wind carried on. A slight tremble came from the beam - wait, that was me. I was shaking even when I thought I was in perfect balance. The car in my hand only added to this uneasiness, and burdened me with, a surprisingly heavy, 2 lbs. It was suppose to win me the race. If I didn’t have the car at the end, I would be disqualified and shunned of making anymore bets with anymore high school freshmen. Therefore, I decided that the only thing I could do, was chuck it. I swung, then I fell - but almost. I didn’t see how far the car went, but it made a crashing sound like how a printer prepares up to print a heavy colored image, beefed up with a lot of preamp distortion. My heart sank. My car had technically made it across. In fact, despite being shattered, it’s much more safe than how I am now. I was still on the beam, scared as shit. Oh, I would do anything for physics (but I won’t do this).
I took the first step in caution. Just as my foot begun to rise, I remembered something. The mousetrap car made it across 50 feet because it covered a lot of “ground”. What I needed wasn’t balance, but to cover more area. “Be the mousetrap car” as if a voice called from the clouds. My feet shuffled sideways at an angle like how skateboarders position themselves. I was completely stable. I started from a simple walk, then advanced into a sort of run - a horse gallop almost. The distance between me and the end of the girder decreased. 50, 40, 30, and then, 20 feet. 
“Screw science!” I said immersed in a full sprint. 
At the last 5 feet, my foot slipped; I leaped across the girder and onto safe ground. I made it across without dying. But as for my car, it was demolished into scraps for burning.
“Maybe, I should have been the one, to kiss that rat”

Submitted: October 24, 2021

© Copyright 2023 Malte Jollenbeck. All rights reserved.

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