Treasure of the Magical Mine Moppets
by K.J. Blocker
Mindstir Media

An old crop-dusting biplane is taking the reader along for the ride as it flies through the sky. It’s piloted by Tubby, who seems to enjoy giving his boss, Tom, a bit of a thrill ride. Below, Tom’s nine-year-old son, Jimmy, is acquainting himself with a precocious bug that seems to be saluting him from the leaf of a cornstalk. Neither the pair in the air or the boy on the ground seem to be the least bit amazed that they’re looking at a field of rainbow colored corn that stands twenty-five feet high. There’s a very Disney-like feel to this opening chapter that immediately drops a hierarchy of relatable characters into an environment that is beyond ordinary. Realism is further enhanced when the father doesn’t have time to help his young son fly a kite because he has an important business meeting. Chances are, what’s to come will continue to meld realistic behavior with hyper real situations. That’s a formula virtually guaranteed to hook young readers and keep them turning pages.

 

Chapter One

High above the earth, an old-fashioned biplane buzzed through the air, swooping down and riding the white puffy clouds.

Behind the control stick sat a man in a leather aviator helmet, the goggles covering most of his face, making him look like some sort of crop bug. He pulled on the stick with glee, and the airplane nosed even higher above the clouds.

“How’s that feel, boss?” he asked Tom Powers, who had a great view of the back of the man’s bulbous head from the back seat. Pressed onto Tom’s head was the same sort of vintage leather aviator helmet as Tubby wore.

Tom felt less than enamored of the erratic, dizzying flight. In fact, he felt downright green but always did when flying with his field hand and pilot. “It feels real good, Tubby,” Tom said, trying to sound brave and manly. “Say, how’s your stomach?”

“Still there.”

More than I can say, Tom thought.

Tubby pushed hard on the stick, and the nose of the plane tilted, and it dove straight down. Tom opened his mouth and screamed, but it was muffled by a white spongy cloud that smacked him square in the face. Then it popped, leaving a film of water on his cheeks.

A moment later, the plane burst out below the cloud and straightened out. Tom leaned his head over the side of the plane and peered down. Below him, on the earth, was a carpet of beautiful, rainbow-colored, towering corn stalks, swaying in the breeze, stretching nearly to the horizon. He knew those crops. They were his crops.

Ubercorn!

Hybridized, crossbred, and packed with nutrients, Ubercorn could grow three times the height of traditional corn and could be planted more densely. Tom had dedicated his life to this plant because he knew that much of the world was hungry, Ubercorn would help, and from the sale of Ubercorn he could make a good living for his wife and son. From this altitude, the vast blanket of corn looked beautiful, standing tall and thick like a giant carpet.

He watched Tubby lean on the stick again, and the plane dipped, sending Tom’s stomach up to his throat.

“Which sector did you want dusted!” shouted Tubby.

“Quadrant three!” shouted Tom.

Tubby flew over the sector, flipped a gauge on his dashboard, and hit a button marked DUMP. Tom twisted around and watched as a trail of dust spewed out from behind the plane and settled down upon the crops. Tubby methodically traced rows in the sky, covering the entire quadrant.

Tom lifted a pair of binoculars to his face and watched the dissipation. He swung the binoculars across the land. Something caught his eyes, and he swung the binoculars back to see his son, Jimmy, standing and bending toward one of the cornstalks, his face nearly touching one of the huge leaves.

 

It was early morning, and Jimmy was making his way through the field of corn, just as he always did while waiting for the school bus to arrive. He enjoyed his walks. There was always an adventure just waiting around the bend. This morning, his daddy was taking a trip around the fields with Tubby, his pilot and farm manager. He looked up into the early morning sky to see an old beat-up crop duster flying wildly in the sky. He watched momentarily then continued down a row of corn, making his way toward the landing strip to meet his daddy when he landed.

Suddenly, something appeared in the corner of his vision. He turned to see a bug standing on the edge of one of the massive leaves. He bent over to take a look. The bug was resting just inches away from his face, and he watched spellbound as the bug lifted up its body and front legs and seemed to stare right at him. It didn’t scamper off like most bugs do. Jimmy was surprised.

He examined the bug. “Whoa! You’re beautiful. Where did you come from?”

He watched as the bug turned and scampered down the leaf, scaled down the stalk, reaching the bottom, and entered a small hole near the base. Moments later it reappeared and looked up at Jimmy as if it understood his very words and was answering his question. It assumed an almost human stance as it lifted one of its front legs and seemed to salute.

Jimmy was awestruck by the behavior and started to reach out to touch the magnificent specimen when he heard a buzzing sound coming from the sky nearby. He looked up to see his daddy’s crop duster flying toward the landing strip. He looked at the bug once more, telling, first himself, and then the bug, “I’ve got to go now. I will return as soon as I get home from school.”

He lifted up and began running down the row of corn to meet his daddy and tell him of his discovery.

As the crop duster circled about, Tom watched the tiny figure, Jimmy, through the binoculars, curious why he was so interested in a leaf and what exactly had caught his attention so intently. Just as the plane was about to turn close to the landing strip, he saw Jimmy leap up and run across the dirt strip.

“All right,” shouted Tom above the racket of the old motor, “you can put her down now. Watch out for Jimmy!”

Tubby wheeled the plane around and headed toward the short landing strip. It was tucked in alongside a warren of houses in the middle of the rainbow-colored property. From here, Tom could see the single dirt lane that connected the compound with the main road.

The plane touched down with a jolt and a screech and then rumbled and clattered to a halt. Tubby turned off the engine. Tom hoisted himself out of his seat, jumped over the edge of the plane, and landed on the hard-packed ground. He stretched, then heard a shout.

“Daddy!”

Tom spun around. Nine-year-old Jimmy was sprinting across the ground toward him, his shaggy brown hair bouncing, and bright, big, brown eyes shining in the sunlight. In one hand was a kite as colorful as the Ubercorn, and in the other hand was the spool. He kept tripping over the string which dangled between the kite and the spool, but he never lost his balance.

“Hey there!” Tom shouted.

The boy slid to a stop and affixed himself to his daddy’s leg. “I saw you! You were flying crazy!”

“That’s what happens when Tubby takes the stick!” he said. “Look at him. Doesn’t he look like a crazy pilot?”

Tubby, rubbing down the exterior skin of the plane, made a wild face at the boy. Jimmy giggled, and Tom gently detached his son from his leg. Then he took the kite from his son’s hand and looked at it. “I bet you want some help learning how to fly that kite,” he said.

“Yeah! But it’s all tangled up!”

“We’ll untangle it and fly it soon, but not today.” His son looked crestfallen. “We will, Jimmy!”

Jimmy stamped his foot. “You promised we would do it today! Remember?”

Tom scratched his head. He felt bad about it, but he had to face Mr. Withers, as much as he hated to. “I’ve spent a little too much time in the air already, and I have an important meeting today.” He tousled his son’s hair. “We’ll do it tomorrow.”

Then he pulled his briefcase out of the back seat of the plane and headed for the car, shouting over his shoulder. “Ask Tubby for help! Sorry! Next time, though!”

book text © K.J. Blocker

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