Our Time-O-Scope Shows That All Of The Kids At The Science Fair Will Go On To Do Great Things, Except For Tommy, Who Will Die Horribly By The End Of This Fair.
“Welcome, everyone, to the 14th annual Bronson LaFollette 8th Grade Science Fair, where this year for the first time we will be judging the entries not just on originality, completeness, and scientific accuracy, but also on how much today’s performance in the science fair impacts your little darling’s future performance in society, thanks to the Time-O-Scope that Mr. Ott has finally perfected, and the patent for which he has generously granted to the school after using it to realize that the three children born to his marriage would actually be the result of an affair his wife is having with his brother, one which started, ironically, at the same time he began to devote himself to inventing the Time-O-Scope! Could’ve used this little number before you actually invented it, eh, Mr. Ott? Live and learn, live and learn.”
“We’ve already actually spent a little time – heh, heh – sorting through the preliminary entries, and while we’d like to think the future is malleable, Mr. Ott has definitively proven that it isn’t, and so we can announce that each of you kids, the best and brightest our Advanced Placement Science Program has to offer, are destined for great and wonderful contributions to the human race, except for you, Tommy. You won’t live out the day.
“And while we’d like to reward everyone with a prize package, life doesn’t work that way. Don’t worry – 13 of the 14 of you will have long, fascinating lives in which you will receive fame and fortune and help out your brethren on this planet, so even if you don’t get a gift certificate to Mel’s Pizzeria today, you are all, each and every one of you, winners. Yes, even you, Tommy, but it won’t do you much good.”
“No, please don’t stand so close to me, Tommy. It won’t matter, in the end, but I’d rather not get soot and ashes on my suit. Just had it dry-cleaned! As long as you’re here, though, I can give you your prize: Third Place, for your entry ‘Solar Powered Submersibles Can Explore The Sea Efficiently!” Your model of a submarine and the tether that lets it run on solar power even when it is hundreds of fathoms underwater is truly ingenious, and we have no doubt you’d have gone on to do even greater things in oceanography if it wasn’t for the fact that you’re a goner within the next hour.”
“Sorry – 45 minutes. Didn’t realize it was so late!”
“Second Place goes to Ellie, for her – not now, Tommy, this is really Ellie’s moment—for her entry “Soil Replacements Will End Crop Rotation.” Ellie, this kind of idea will revolutionize… why are you crying, sweetie? He’s your best friend? Well, that is very sad. Give him a hug, quick! And then maybe think about the Radley boy. He’s going to win the Heisman Trophy in seven years! … and, don’t forget this! It’s a red ribbon, and as second place you get $10 worth of free play at Ned’s Arcade! Don’t spend it all on Pac Man! Heh, heh!”
“Tommy! Please, try to be a bit of a man about this. I promise you that it won’t hurt, if that’s any consolation. At least not for long. And everyone will be amazed by how your… well, I shouldn’t say too much. That’s the danger of the Time-O-Scope! While it can give us a clear look at a future that is set in as rigid a pattern as the crystalline latticework of our first prize winner, sometimes the knowledge would be better off not known! Just ask Mr. Ott! Or Tommy!”
“Or ask Nelson, who of course grew those crystals that can serve as superconductors for ultra-thin computers, and not only earned himself early admission at the magnet high school for science careers, but a $25 gift certificate to The Hobby Lobby! Nelson, despite my general dsire to not tell everyone all that I now know about your futures, I don’t mind telling you that when you spend that $25 on electromagnets, it’s going to help you use these crystals to create a way to nearly instantaneously catalog and sequence DNA, so even though it takes you 10 years to do that, it’s well worth it, Mr. Nobel Prize Winner, 2030! Come up here, son, and shake my hand. You’ll also want to be well away from Tommy, of course.”
“There you go, son! Congratulations, again, and let’s have a big round of applause for all our young scientists and engineers, the future leaders of tomorrow, except for Tommy, whose only remaining mark on the earth will be a bench erected on the spot where he’s sitting now. Can we get Tommy’s parents to load his project up in their station wagon? No sense leaving these things to the last minute. Now, with that, I’ve got to go and figure out who it is Mr. Ott shoots a month from now. I can’t stop it, but I might want to be first at the estate sale.”