Free Masterminds by Gordon Korman

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Authors: Gordon Korman
desk, researching my Serenity Day project on my iPad.
    Serenity isn’t as dry as the desert, but real storms are rare here. Still, distant thunder has been rumbling all around us. It was only a matter of time before we got our share.
    Randy on my brain, I Google McNally Academy.
    There is no such place. Not in Colorado, not in any state.
    Am I angry? Amused? Disappointed? Relieved?
    I tip an imaginary cap to my friend. Good one, Randy. You really had me going.
    I resolve to put the letter out of my mind and return to my Serenity Day project. I’m doing a timeline where you can see American history, New Mexico history, and Serenity history laid out side by side. This area belonged first to Spain and then to Mexico. So the birth of the USA far to the east must have seemed awfully distant to people around here.
    I watch as the web page sorts itself out on my tablet.
    Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  On December 16, 1773, American colonists met with representatives of the British government in Boston to discuss turning the thirteen American colonies into a separate country. Tea was served.
    I write it down in my notebook, stifling a yawn. Malik always complains that Serenity is boring. Maybe that’s because all American history is so boring. We’re just a boring part of a boring whole, and the most interestingfact about the forming of our nation is what drink they served at the meeting.
    And it took forever: 1773, and we didn’t get a country until 1776? That’s bureaucracy. Either that, or the Founding Fathers had to crawl on their hands and knees from Boston to Philadelphia.
    There is a flash of lightning accompanied by an enormous clap of thunder that shakes the house. The lights flicker. The web page blinks out, and blinks back on again, the browser searching to reestablish a connection. It takes a few seconds as the echo of the boom dies away. The search page blinks back, reloading my Boston Tea Party options. But when I click on the top link, I’m struck by a jolt even more powerful than the lightning.
    It’s not the same site. The picture’s the same, and the title of the article still says The Boston Tea Party. But the single paragraph has been replaced by dense text that fills the screen and—I scroll down—goes on to several other pages.
    Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  The Boston Tea Party was a protest against taxation without representation by the Sons of Liberty against the British government. In a dispute over three shiploads of tea, Americancolonists, many disguised as Mohawk warriors, boarded the ships and tossed the tea into Boston Harbor. The event was a major catalyst in bringing on the American Revolutionary War, which began with the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775 . . .
    Where did this web page come from? Why am I getting a different story now? And which one’s true? According to this, America didn’t just split off from Britain. They rebelled and fought a years-long war for independence! And they definitely didn’t drink tea, because the tea was in the water.
    This wasn’t a friendly affair; it was a rebellion!
    I’m so flabbergasted that, when the phone rings, I almost go through the ceiling. I hear my father downstairs, speaking in urgent, hushed tones. And then he’s calling up the stairs to me:
    â€œEli, I have to run over to the school for a bit.”
    â€œIn this storm?”
    â€œThat’s exactly it. There have been lightning strikes around town. I have to make sure everything’s all right at our building.”
    I stand at my window and watch him back out of thedriveway. He knows the town better than anyone. So why is he heading in the opposite direction from the school, toward the Plastics Works?
    I strain to follow his taillights, but he’s out of sight.
    Did my father just lie to me?
    I turn back to my

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