The Metal Marble
Kindle Edition on Amazon
Paperback on Amazon
Tucker's Aunt Nyce is his mom's little sister only she isn't that little and she isn't that nice. He has to get used to it though because he's stuck working at her beach restaurant The Crab & Grab for the next two weeks.
While hauling boxes of stinky fish from the dock, Tucker and his 11-year-old cousin Trist discover a golf ball size, transparent metal "marble" floating in the sea.
Ignoring the warnings from salty dog Chef, Tucker and Trist leave the marble in the sunshine until it dries. The marble hatches into a half real, half robotic mechanical turtle.
From the moment the marble opens, Aunt Nyce places Tucker in charge of the turtle. He soon realizes the biggest threat comes from his aunt's schemes to use the unique creature to draw customers.
My Aunt Nyce is my mom’s little sister only she isn’t that little and she isn’t that nice. She wears shorts that are too tight and she has a tattoo just above her butt. You can see it every time she bends over to clean off a table at her restaurant, The Crab & Grab.
I have to get used to it though ‘cause I’m stuck here for the next two weeks. My mom and dad dropped me off yesterday like they do every summer. They kissed me goodbye, told me to be good, and drove off to go on vacation. Vacation without me. I’m trapped here on Wavedown Island.
There are good and bad things about staying with my aunt. The Crab & Grab is right on the beach so between lunch and dinner I go body surfing and look for shark teeth and stuff. The bad thing is my aunt expects me to help around the restaurant. During lunch and dinner I have to drag boxes from the basement and mop the kitchen when the crab pots boil over.
Sometimes I help stock souvenirs in the gift shop. That’s much more fun than working in the kitchen and a whole lot less stinky. The gift shop isn’t really a shop though. It’s more like a place near the register where they hang a few t-shirts and coffee mugs that read The Crab & Grab or Wavedown Island.
They also sell hats. My aunt gave me one this morning while I unloaded boxes of fresh fish off the boat. She said I could work faster if I had a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes.
That’s what I was doing when I found the metal marble.
My cousin Trist reached into the boat and grabbed another box of smelly fish. She handed it to me.
“This stuff stinks,” I grumbled taking the box and dropping it onto the wooden dock.
“You get used to it.” Trist wiped her hands down the front of her jean shorts.
A seagull swooped past my head and landed next to me. It tried to snatch a fish out of the box. I leaped back.
“Get lost bird!” Trist stomped her feet on the wooden planks. The seagull flapped its way to the end of the pier. It squawked and watched us.
“Tucker, you look scared,” said Trist.
“That’s a big bird.” I said as I stood up straight. “Anyhow, I’m not scared. It startled me, that’s all.”
“You get used it,” said Trist.
For a cousin, Trist wasn’t a bad kid to have around. She was a little older than me, in middle school, and had grown up helping around The Crab & Grab. She could gut a fish, drive a boat, and shuck a clam. One time a crab pinched her when she tried to get it in the pot. She didn’t even cry.
“Hey, you two sardines,” yelled Chef. He walked to the end of the dock. “Let’s get ‘em boxes into the basement before ‘em fish grow wings.”
Chef works for Aunt Nyce. He is, well, the chef. I don’t know his real name. Everyone just calls him Chef. He has stubbly white hair on his face and a scar near his eye.
A gust of wind caught the brim of my cap and sent it sailing off my head into the water.
“My hat!” I leaned over the dock to snatch it before it sank.
“Don’t fret it Boy. ‘Em things were built to float,” Chef said. “You could probably put a couple of ‘em fish in there and it’d still float.”
He was right. The hat bobbed in the water.
“Better grab it Boy.” Chef lifted a box of fish. “It’ll float, but it won’t float forever.” He stepped off the creaking pier carrying his box of fish and disappeared into the restaurant.
Quickly, I snagged my hat before it got away and I saw something peculiar floating in the water. It was shiny and round, about the size of a golf ball, a metal golf ball. I could sort of see through it.
Trist flopped on the wooden planks beside me. She peered into the water. “Wow, look at that! What is it?”
“It looks sort of like a metal marble.”
“Marbles don’t float,” she said. “Grab it Tucker.”
“No way!” I yanked my hand back. The current started to pull the metal marble beneath the pier. “I’m not touching it.”
“Scoop it with your hat,” she said. “Before it goes under the dock.”
Without thinking, I dipped my hat into the warm water and captured the metal marble. I flipped my hat onto the pier. Thunk! The metal marble rolled on the wooden planks. It looked even shinier in the sun.
“I’ve never seen anything like that.” Trist kneeled to take a closer look.
“Don’t touch it!” I shouted. “It might be poisonous.”
Trist looked at me like I had two noses. “Duh, Tucker. It’s not poisonous.”
“How do you know?”
Trist didn’t answer. She waved me off and crept closer for a better look.
“You can almost see what’s inside.” Trist inched toward the metal ball. “It’s got gears in it or something.”
“Why aren’t you sardines carrying ‘em boxes?” called Chef, returning from the restaurant. “You want em fish to rot on the dock?”
“Tucker found something in the water.” Trist pointed to the shiny ball on the pier.
“Well it better be Davie Jones Gold,” growled Chef. He had a look mad enough to whack us with a fish until he saw the ball. His face turned white as his hair.
“Oh, for the sake of all things cooked.” Chef pulled off his hat and twisted it in his hands. “How long you had that thing on the dock? Kick it back in.”
I didn’t know why Chef wanted us to kick it back in but his words were good enough for me.
“Yeah, Trist. Get rid of it.”
“It’s only been on the dock a few minutes,” said Trist. She’s definitely braver than I am. She examined the marble again. “What is it, Chef?”
“It’s trouble, that’s what it is.” Chef slapped his crumpled hat on his head. “Hurry. Once it dries it’s going to. . . ”
Before Chef could finish, the marble moved.