Honorable Mention

by John, age 13, of Andover, MA

"Doctor Macrati," commanded Zachary the nanotechnician. "Into this chamber immediately." He gestured toward a cylinder-shaped glass room. "The nanorobots inside the chamber will cover your body. They will suck energy from the electrons, protons, and neutrons in your body, making them thousands of times smaller than usual. You will make your way over to Officer’s Baker’s body, and proceed through his nostril, following your own hypothesized Alpha-Nanoroute into the brain. This will take one and a half days."

"If I survive," grumbled Dex Macrati.

The scientist ignored the insult, nodded to the cylinder. Dex shuffled in.

Dex Macrati was a nanoscientist in the year 2050. He had, for many years, researched and developed nanorobots. Unfortunately, he had created a mind-controlling nanorobot that he had planned to send through the Alpha-Nanoroute to the brain. Henry Baker, Supreme Civil Protection Officer, decided that Doctor Macrati had been too dangerous to allow in society, and Dex was sent to jail for life, no parole. This had all happened five years ago, and now Dex had been ordered to fix a vital nanorobot in Baker’s brain. Why him? He was the only nanotechnician in jail, and prisoners had few rights, so they could be threatened. No other nanoscientists had volunteered, so Dex was forced to save his archenemy.

"Here’s a communicator," said Zachary, handing Dex a walkie-talkie. "I will be able to talk to you through it." Dex took the communicator.

Dex’s arms were itching badly. He looked down at his arms, and shuddered.

Black grains of sand were crawling and seething over his skin. Nanorobots!

Zachary pressed a button. As the energy from his very building blocks was sapped away, Dex found himself getting smaller. He suddenly found himself literally covered with nanorobots, each about half the size of a minivan. He managed to climb to the top of the pile, and walked down the outside of it.

The tiled floor was no longer smooth tiles. Ditches, dunes, and boulders loomed up before him. He began to make his way over the landscape, always going towards the huge table leg in front of him. Hours went by, and finally he made it. He was halfway up when he got a call from Zachary.

"Macrati, are you there?" said his walkie-talkie.

"I’m here."

"Where are you?"

"Table leg."


About an hour later, he reached the metal surface of the operating table where Officer Baker lay. The table was a little smoother than the tiles or the table leg, but it was still somewhat rough. He stumbled across it, and finally came to Baker’s body, covered with a thin blanket. The threads on the blanket would be easy to climb up, but he was getting tired.

"Hey Zach, what time is it?" he inquired.

"Lessee . . . ’bout ten o’clock. You should get some rest right now." Dex agreed.

He woke up about six in the morning. He stood up on the table, and started off again.

He grabbed a fiber. It would take a while to climb over the threads. It took him about two hours to get to the top. Before him, like a mountain, lay Baker’s head. The skin was one of the roughest surfaces he’d seen so far. More vertical climbing.

Up he climbed. The sweat pores were slippery and hard to avoid. He fell, but didn’t hurt himself because he was so small. When he got to the top, he found himself overlooking a sparse forest of facial hair. He walked around the lip, a huge red hill, and went through the nose.

For awhile Dex traveled through the dark, dingy corridors of the nose. It was ugly, and the smell was repulsive, but eventually the doctor made it to the brain.

"Where are you?" asked Zachary.

"The brain."

"Okay. Do you know where the Nanorobot is?"

"What’s Baker’s problem?"

"Epilepsy. You’ll have to go to the place between the two halves. The nanorobot has a piece of wire injected into each neuron. It sends electrical impulses that keep the neurons working the way they should, keeping the neurons from moving too fast."

Dex made no comment, but in ten minutes he was at a crevice between the brain halves. Networks of neurons connected the two halves together. In the center, a nanorobot was suspended in air by the wires protruding from it. Dex walked across one of the neurons, then across the wire connected to the brain in order to get to the nanorobot.

He peered at it from all different angles. Nothing appeared to be wrong from the outside, so he climbed in through an opening in the top.

He found himself in a small room with wires everywhere. He spotted the defective wire, which had worked too hard, and melted through the center. So that’s the problem! he thought. He was about to mend it, when he realized what he could do. These wires went through the neurons and into the brain halves. Baker’s life depended on this nanorobot. Just cut all the wires, and Baker would be dead. Just cut all the wires.

"Just cut all the wires…" he said quietly. Zachary, on the other side of the walkie-talkie, heard him.

"Don’t do it. Doctor Macrati!"

Dex didn’t hear Zachary.

"Dear God, how did we overlook this?"

Dex put his hand gently on a wire. Just a little tug… tug harder…

Sweat ran down Dex’s forehead. Killing was harder than he expected.


He let go of the wire.

Something held him back. He couldn’t – wouldn’t – kill Baker. He wasn’t a murderer. He grabbed a strange tool from out of his pocket, and connected the wire pieces to it. He pressed a button, took the machine off, and the wire was mended.

"You MURDERER, Macrati! They’ll-"

"I didn’t do it, Zachary."

Zachary let out a sigh of relief.

"Doctor Macrati, I think they may give you another chance."

Maybe, he thought.