Alexei Leonov has completed the first ever spacewalk. But as he reaches the airlock he realises his suit has expanded in the vacuum of space.
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Charlie Lupton’s Sherpa Adventure
Charlie Lupton Adventures , Book 1, 2014,
- CHAPTER 1 -
Making the news
`Hello. This is Geraldine Primrose from Heatherbridge Junior School. I am reporting on a Saturday morning for our news project. I am standing in the garage at Charlie Lupton’s house. He is about to take his homemade go-kart out for a ride. It has been made by Charlie’s dad and ... Emma, are you recording this?’
Emma Appleyard fumbled with the video camera.
`I’m not sure if it’s switched on,’ said Emma.
`How are we supposed to make the best ever news report if the camera isn’t even working?’ said Geraldine.
Charlie Lupton sat in his go-kart. He just wanted to get going. He wished he hadn’t told anybody about his go-kart. He had only told Emma and Mickey Dewhurst, but Emma had made the mistake of telling Geraldine. But it was too late now.
`Right, Emma, is it definitely on?’
`I think so,’ said Emma.
`Okay, I’m going to interview Charlie in the go-kart.’ Geraldine crouched by the go-kart. `Good morning,
Charlie. I’m Geraldine Primrose reporting on behalf of Class Five, Heatherbridge Junior School.’
`I know,’ said Charlie. `I’m in the same class. Remember?’
`Oh, very funny. This is supposed to be a serious news report. Emma, are you filming this?’
`Uh, yes, you asked me to,’ said Emma.
`Well, stop filming and let’s start again.’
Geraldine stood up, pushed her hair back and cleared her throat, just like a proper news reporter. She then crouched back down and started the interview again. `Good morning, Charlie. I’m Geraldine Primrose reporting on behalf of ...’
`Hey, Charlie. This is majorly random. You’re gonna be a television star.’ It was Mickey, walking up the drive with his hands in the pockets of his jeans.
`Why do people keep messing this up?’ said Geraldine.
`And why are you doing the interview?’ asked Mickey. `Why can’t Emma have a go?’
`Because,’ said Geraldine, `I’m more camera-friendly. Emma has freckles and red hair.’
`Thanks very much,’ said Emma. `What’s wrong with freckles and red hair? At least I don’t wear glasses.’
`What’s wrong with glasses?’ said Geraldine.
`Whoa, chill out, everybody,’ said Mickey. `The last thing a test pilot needs is hassle before takeoff.’
`Takeoff? It’s just a go-kart, Mickey,’ said Geraldine. `It hasn’t even got an engine.’
`Yep, but it’s got a parachute. Tell her Charlie.’
`A parachute? For a go-kart?’ said Geraldine. `Emma, get this on film. Charlie, apparently this go-kart has a parachute. Could you tell us about it?’
`It’s the sheet folded up just behind my seat. Each corner has got two metres of string attached to the go-kart. If I need to stop quickly, then I throw the sheet out and it slows the go-kart down.’
`Just like a parachute,’ said Mickey.
`It is a parachute,’ said Charlie.
`But why can’t you just use this brake?’ asked Geraldine, pointing to the wooden handle by his side.
`That’s what I’ll usually use. The parachute is just for an emergency.’
`And what’s that?’ said Geraldine, pointing to a strange device at the front of the go-kart. It looked like a miniature goal with three pieces of wood swinging by wires from its bar. Each piece was painted a different colour.
`Basically, it’s a speedometer,’ said Charlie.
`How does it work?’ asked Emma.
`As the go-kart goes faster,’ said Charlie, `the air blows against the pieces of wood and makes them swing upwards. The green piece is made of light wood and it should be the first to swing. The middle yellow piece will move next as I go faster. The red piece is really heavy. If that moves, I know I’m going too fast.’
`Do you think it will work?’ asked Geraldine.
`I hope so. I’m going to try it on the new cycle path into town. I should get up some good speed going down that.’
`And just how fast do you think ...’
`This is quite a gathering. Morning everybody.’ It was Charlie’s father, who had just wandered in to put some tools back in his toolbox.
Geraldine rolled her eyes at Charlie and stood up in a huff. `Hello Mr Lupton. We’re trying to do an interview for the school news project.’
`Yes,’ said Mickey. `And prim and proper Primrose is hogging the camera.’
Geraldine let out a big sigh.
`Are you going to take it out for a ride?’ asked his father.
`He’s going down the new cycle path,’ said Mickey. `They told us about it in school assembly yesterday. The mayor is officially opening it this afternoon. Charlie’s going to try it out this morning.’
`That path gets pretty steep,’ said his father. `Charlie, promise me you’ll stick to the park. The main path there has got a bit of a slope. You should get a good run there.’
`But the cycle path is not too bad,’ said Charlie. `And I’ve got the brake and parachute.’
`That’s as maybe,’ said his father, `but you’re sticking to the park and that’s final, okay?’
`Yes, Dad,’ said Charlie.
There was a bit of an awkward silence as his father walked out.
`We had better head off to the park,’ said Geraldine. They trooped out of the garage with Charlie pulling the go-kart behind him.
On the way up the hill Mickey announced that he was going to buy some sweets. `I’ll catch you up,’ he said, as he dashed over to the newsagents across the road.
As they neared the park they passed the point where the new cycle path began. Charlie stopped and looked down the path. It didn’t look that steep and he needed to give the speedometer and brakes a good test.
`Come on,’ said Emma. `You’re not allowed to go down there. And your dad’s right. It gets pretty steep further down.’
`I guess so,’ said Charlie.
And then Charlie heard a voice which sent shivers down his spine.
`Well, if it isn’t Charlie `the rocket’ Lupton.’
Charlie looked up and groaned. It was the school bully, Deacon Savage, with his sidekick, Rodney Spanner. They were riding their mountain bikes. He looked as mean as usual, with his black hair combed back and flattened with gel, and a scar on his left cheek.
`Hi Deacon,’ said Charlie.
`What you gonna do, break the land speed record?’ said Deacon, as he skidded to a halt.
`We’re just going to the park,’ said Charlie.
`He was going to go down the new cycle path, but his dad won’t let him,’ said Geraldine. `He said it’s too dangerous.’
`Ah, Daddy doesn’t want his little boy getting hurt, does he?’ said Deacon to Rodney.
`Yeah, he’s a wimp,’ said Rodney.
`I could go down the path if I wanted to,’ said Charlie.
`Go on then, Lupton, I dare you,’ said Deacon. `Or are you a scaredy-cat?’
Charlie felt himself getting angry. He didn’t want people to think he was scared. And if he went down the path at least he would be away sooner from Deacon. On the other hand, he knew he would be in trouble from his father and mother. Still, he had the brake and the parachute. What could go wrong? He pointed the go-kart down the cycle path and climbed in.
`Let’s make it a little more challenging shall we Lupton?’ said Deacon. And with that, he leapt off his bike and lifted the front of the go-kart and swung it round so Charlie was facing the other way. Deacon and Rodney rode off, laughing as they went.
Just then, Mickey appeared round the corner, eating from a bag of sweets. `Uh, if you think we’re going to pull you the rest of the way to the park, you can forget it,’ he said.
`I’m not going to the park, I’m going down the path,’ said Charlie.
`What, backwards?’ said Mickey. `This is going to be randomly epic.’
`Deacon Savage and Rodney Spanner were here just now,’ said Geraldine. `Deacon turned the go-kart while Charlie was in it.’
`That Deacon is so disgusting’ said Emma.
`I'm with you on that one,’ said Mickey.
`You don’t have to go down the path,’ said Emma. `You don’t have to do what he says.’
`I’m going down the path,’ said Charlie as he clambered out to turn the go-kart round. Charlie felt himself shaking and the back of his legs were like jelly. He was scared of Deacon Savage and embarrassed in front of Emma and Geraldine. He just wanted to get away. He climbed into the go-kart.
`Turn on the camera,’ said Geraldine.
`And so,’ said Geraldine, facing the camera, `Charlie Lupton is about to test his homemade go-kart, with its special emergency braking parachute and speedometer. His father has made the go-kart out of spare bits of wood and pram wheels. It looks a mean machine. But will it cope with the downhill run into Heatherbridge? Now is the time to find out. Okay, stop the camera. Right, Emma, stand further away to get a good shot of Charlie as he sets off.’
As Emma moved away, Mickey leant over to speak to Charlie. He looked right and left. `Listen Charlie, I’ve been on a mission.’
`A mission? All you did was buy some sweets,’ said Charlie.
`I’ve got some information that might interest you,’ said Mickey.
Mickey looked right and left again. `You know the mayor is officially opening this cycle path today?’
`Yeah,’ said Charlie. `Two o’clock this afternoon. They told us in school assembly yesterday. They’re going to cut a ribbon on the path where it goes by the Town Hall on High Street’
`I’ve got news for you. They’ve brought it forward to eleven o’clock.’
`Eleven o’clock? That’s in twenty minutes,’ said Charlie, looking at his watch. `Are you sure?’
`I heard someone speaking about it in the newsagents. If you’re gonna go, you need to go now. Otherwise you’ll have a crowd of unwanted VIP spectators.’
`Are you ready to go?’ shouted Geraldine.
Charlie grabbed hold of the rope with both hands and made sure his feet were positioned properly on the axle wood.
`Have a safe trip,’ said Emma.
`Say hello to the mayor for me,’ said Mickey.
`Are you getting this on film?’ said Geraldine.
Charlie didn’t wait any longer. He took a deep breath and released the brake.
The go-kart started to move.