The Little Black Box – By Jhbablon
A wisp of smoke from rose from the tip of the soldering iron, as Jerry Pitnick finished making the last connection on his new invention. He paused as he surveyed his latest accomplishment of scientific genus which to any uninformed person, resembled a small black box much like a miniature TV remote control. Unfortunately at Parsons High School there were a lot of uninformed people, and for poor Jerry his scientific genus had gotten him labeled as a major Nerd. As a member of the Freshmen class one could expect to be picked on a little, but poor Jerry was the brunt of much more intimidation than normal, especially by a group of upper class girls. Jerry held his little gem in the palm of his hand and thought, “They won’t be laughing at me much longer, will they. I’ll have the last laugh on those stuck-up girls. They think they’re so glamorous, wait until this little baby works her magic, they’ll be singing a different tune!”
A familiar voice broke Jerry’s train of thought, “Jerry it’s late, you’d better get up from that cellar and get to bed, you have school tomorrow.” Jerry’s mother’s voice reminded him of that reality, and Jerry dutifully climbed the cellar steps and entered the kitchen. His mother greeted the poor boy with her usual lecture, “I don’t know what you do down there Jerry, it seems you waste all your time fiddling around with all that electronic junk downstairs. I don’t know what will become of you, it’s not healthy!” Jerry just yessed his Mom a couple of times, and went up to his room. That night as Jerry laid down to sleep, a smile rose to his face, as he fantasized the vengeance he would elicit the following day.
The next morning Jerry woke up and quickly got ready for school. He was excited with the prospects of trying out his new invention on those who had made his life a living hell. He wolfed down some cold cereal, grabbed his books and went out the kitchen door. His hand slipped into his jacket pocket, to see if his new pride and joy was still there. He held it and smiled as he jumped onto his bicycle and headed off down Berkshire Boulevard on his way to school. His ride was uneventful till about 6 blocks from school when a driver in a little red sports convertible whizzed by him, and nearly ran him and the bike off the road. Jerry picked himself up, and glanced at the driver, who was now stopped for a red light ahead. He recognized her as Jenny Millstone, a senior, she was looking back and laughing at poor Jerry’s predicament. Jerry looked at the pretty blonde with her hair pulled tight in a pony tail, and thought, “She did that on purpose! Well I guess Jenny you will have the honor to be the first test subject for my new invention” With that Jerry re-adjusted his thick glasses with the adhesive tape across the bridge, reached into his pocket and extracted the little black box. He carefully aimed the little device in the direction of Jenny and pushed the button in for a few seconds. There was not a sound, but Jerry knew that the silent mechanism had done its job, and waited with anticipation for the results. Jenny noticed nothing as she sped away, but as the wind flowed past her head, a strange phenomenon occurred, her blonde tresses started blowing off her head!. As she stopped at the next light, Jenny wondered why all the people crossing the street were staring at her and snickering. She thought is there something wrong with my makeup, or my hair? On that impulse she glanced at herself in the rear view mirror and immediately let out a blood curdling scream. “Oh my God what happened to my hair! I’m totally bald!” It was true, Jenny had not a single hair on her head, even her eyebrows were gone. She sat totally motionless behind the wheel, staring at her naked head in the mirror, not conscious that the light had changed. Jenny, transfixed by the sudden loss of her hair, stood frozen at the wheel as a cacophony of horns, reminded her that the light was now green. In her stupor she failed to notice Jerry passing hereby on his bicycle, his face beaming with a confident smile. Jerry’s mind raced in excitement, as he thought, “It worked perfectly! The isotronic wave matrix transmitter caused all the hair on her entire body to enter the resting phase, and fall out! I guess old Jenny will have to get used to being bald for about 3 or 4 months till her hair starts to grow again.” Jerry chuckled to himself as he rode up to the High School.
Jerry rode his bicycle onto the school grounds and took his usual circuitous route to the bike rack in order to avoid being seen by some his the upper class bullies that usually lay in wait for his arrival. Sneaking in though the back door of the school Jerry made his way down the corridors in a careful manner trying to avoid an early morning confrontation. So far this morning things were going pretty good. He was almost at his home room and nobody had accosted him yet. Only one more turn down the aisle and he would be home free. He approached the corner and carefully peered down the intended route. There it was room 235, his final destination, and the coast was clear. He was about to make his final move to safety when all of a sudden he felt a hand grab his shirt collar from behind. He felt himself being elevated, as the strong arm lifted his small frame up off the ground. A coarse loud voice bellowed into his ear, eliciting an instant state of fear. “Hey pit brain! Aren’t you going to say good morning or nuttin?” Like something out of a nightmare Jerry instantly recognized the persona behind that fearsome voice. It was Shirley Ballentine, a huge amply endowed amazon of a girl. Her bleached platinum hair, cut in a straight bob above the shoulders, provided quite a contrast to the studded black leather outfits that she usually wore. She was of course accompanied by her entourage of tuff female compatriots, all who were finding Jerry’s present condition exceeding amusing. To poor Jerry this was the worst of all scenarios, for his last interaction with the dreaded Ms Ballentine, ended up with Jerry being stuffed inside a locker. If it hadn’t been for his friend and fellow nerd, Herman, who came to his aid and freed him from his sheet metal prison, who knows what might have happened? “I’m waitin Pit Brain! Can’t you talk?” blasts an annoyed Shirley.
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Jerry responds sheepishly, “Good morning Ms. Ballentine.”
“Now that’s better! You’d better watch out there Nerd, or next time me and the girls will remove your pants for you right here in the hall!” threatened the boisterous behemoth. She dropped her grip on Jerry and he plunged to the floor, like a sack of potatoes. The girls all stood there and laughed themselves to tears. As Jerry picked himself off the floor he noticed that in all the commotion, his black box had slid out of his jacket pocket and onto the floor. Un-noticed to his tormentors Jerry maneuvered his hand, and grabbed the precious item, and with a quick gesture aimed it square at the leather outfitted platinum giant. A quick depression of the button was all that it took. It was just seconds later that those bleached platinum locks started their long descent from Shirley’s head. It was raining down steamers of silver as the bald white pate of the big girl started to emerge. “Shirley, you’re molting!” yelled one of the girls in horror. Shirley raised her hands to her head, but it was too late. All her hair had fallen out and all she could touch was and endless vista of naked white scalp. “Oh my God, I’m bald!” Shirley cried, as she ran down the hall toward the ladies room. She was quite a sight with her perfect makeup, large gold hoop earrings, sleek well filled out leathers, and her newly bald head, she looked like she just walked off the pages of an S&M; magazine. Of course in all the fuss over the hair loss, no one noticed Jerry make his quick escape down the hall the safety of his homeroom.
Jerry burst into home room just about 10 seconds ahead of the buzzer. He sat down in his seat across from his friend Herman Wong. Jerry took a couple of seconds to calm and compose himself. Herman bent over and whispered, “You had a run in with Shirley again didn’t you?” Jerry nodded his head yes, but broke into a smile and whispered back to Herman, “I don’t think old Ballentine will be giving either of us trouble for a while.” Just at that point the bell for first period rang and the two were quickly in the hall. Both Jerry and Herman were on there way to advanced placement mathematics class, when Herman interrogated his friend to the meaning of his last statement, “What do you mean Jerry that girl has been making our life a living hell since we started school!” Jerry just continued to smile and reached into his pocket and pulled out the black box, and handed it to Herman. “What is it Jerry?” asked Herman. Jerry just looked at his friend with that look of one mad scientist to another. “No way Jerry, you really built an isotronic wave matrix transmitter?” Jerry just nodded his head in an affirmative manner. Herman immediately burst into laughter and said, “So I guess old Shirley is bald by now.” Jerry, who’s face had a cat eats a bird grin, gave another affirmative nod and answered, “Well Herman compared to Ms. Ballentine, good old Sinead O’Conner is a long hair!” The two nerdlings then burst into a bravado of laughter as they gave each other high five’s while walking down the hall.
The morning classes went by swiftly, and it was time for lunch. The gossip that was racing through the school, was about the two girls that had suddenly gone bald. Both Shirley and Jenny had gone to the school nurse, who upon examining the young girls sent them immediately to the local hospital. No one knew or why these girls suddenly lost their hair, however many people were not surprised about Shirley since she was constantly bleaching her hair, and people kind of figured it just finally fell out from abuse. Some people were starting to get scared that it was some form of communicable disease and that others too would soon join the ranks of the hairless. Jerry and Herman were carrying their lunch trays, complete with burgers and fries as they were making their way to an empty table in the lunch room. Unfortunately to get to the only free table they had to pass the table occupied by the famous clique lead by Heather Larson. There blocking the only path to the last empty table, were the three members of the most viscous clique in the school. Melody Booth, Mindy Stienfeld, and of course the leader of the pack Heather Larson. They were all stylishly dressed and elegantly coifed. Melody, a cute red head, Mindy, dark curly hair, and Heather a honey blonde. The girls had already spotted their Freshmen prey, and all Jerry and Herman could hope for was the minimum amount of humiliation. As Jerry and Herman approached the dreaded table the three harpies seemed to not notice the boys at all. Jerry and Herman proceeded towards their table, and breathed a sigh of relief as they were about to pass by without an incident. All of a sudden as if on cue, Mindy and Melody both stood up and knocked into both boys. The contents of the boy’s lunch trays hit the floor in an instant, creating a big mess. “Clumsy Freshman!” said the girls in unison. “Yeah, nerd Freshmen the worst of the species!” laughed the seated Heather. Laughter reverberated around the lunch room as the boys struggled to clean up the food from the floor. The only items that could be salvaged from the mess were the two unopened milk containers, which now became the boys sparse meal. Jerry and Herman picked up their milk and made their way to the table. As they sat and sipped the milk through their straws Herman said, “Well Jerry it looks like another opportunity to do some scientific testing.” Jerry who knew exactly what his friend was intimating pulled out the black box from his pocket and held the trusty device in his vengeful hand. With redheaded Melody the target, he whispers to Herman, “Let see what tune old Melody will sing after she loses her crowning glory.” Herman just smirked and tried to hide his laughter as Jerry aims the device at the top of Melody’s head. A slight squeeze of the trigger button and in seconds the hair on the top of her head starts to fall. Melody now has a bald spot like a tonsured monk, but long red hair around the fringe of her head. Mindy is the first to notice, and in her best catty manner remarks, “Hey Mel darling I think your hair is getting a little thin on top, my dear.” Melody quickly searches her purse and pulling out a small mirror gazes at the strange hairdo she sees in the reflection. “Oh my God!” She screams “What happened?” At that very instant Jerry lowers the sights a little and pulls the trigger one more time. Right before her very eyes the shocked Melody sees all her remaining hair fall out. She looks into the mirror and huge tears gush from her eyes as all her beautiful hair is gone and she is now totally bald. She jumps up from her chair and runs out of the lunch room. Mindy and Heather think that Melody’s plight is hilarious and both enjoy a round of laughter at the expense of their friend. Meanwhile Jerry, like a U-boat captain in the middle of a convoy, eyes up his next targets. “Fire one!” Jerry whispers to Herman, as he lets go of another salvo at curly locks Mindy. “Fire two!” Jerry squeezes the trigger one more time at the lead destroyer Heather. “Captain, two torpedoes running and on target.” Herman quickly responds to the role playing. As Mindy and Heather are still laughing, Mindy’s curly hair starts practically jumping from her scalp. She is unaware for a second, and continues to laugh with Heather who is actually now laughing at her. “Torpedo number one, scored a direct hit Sir!” softly squeals an excited Herman. Mindy goes to comb her hair with a comb, but when it meets no resistance, screams in full panic. She holds the sides of her head desperately searching for some hair and runs out of the lunchroom. Heather is still laughing when she starts to notice that all the kids are staring at her, and are kind of moving away from her. She stops laughing and grabs the mirror that Melody dropped brings it up towards her face. One can see great trepidation in her movements as she is almost afraid of what she is about to see. She glances in the mirror and immediately puts down her head and sobs. Her pride and joy, her beautiful hair is all gone. “Torpedo number two direct hit also Sir!” Herman announces. “Take her down Mister Wong, we’re out of here.” Jerry replies. With that Jerry and Herman sneak out of the lunchroom un-noticed. Outside in the hall Jerry says to Herman, “Well at least those girls really have something in common now, there all totally bald!” He and Herman break out in immediate laughter.
The school was having a special program right after lunch period, it was a pep rally for the big game that evening against their arch rivals St. Anthony’s Academy. The bleachers in the gym were soon filled with students, and the cheerleaders and team were standing out on the gym floor. Jerry and Herman took there seats near the top, with the other freshmen. the lovely ladies who were co-captains of the cheerleading squad were Maryanne Polozzo, and Megan O’Reilly. They were both beautiful girls in their own way. Megan with her long soft red hair, creamy complexion, and green eyes was a shear delight from the Emerald Isle. Maryanne black hair, olive complexion, and brown eyes was like a sweet Mediterranean breeze. The girls were in absolute competition for everything, including the captain of the basketball team Brad Townsford. However there was one thing that allied these two rivals, and that was tormenting poor Jerry and Herman. The cheerleaders are leading the audience in their repertoire of cheers, and the crowd’s attentions are directed towards the activities on the floor. Herman leans over towards Jerry and whispers, “I think that Maryanne and Megan have way to much hair on their heads.” “It must be an awful bother for those girls to take care of all that hair.” Jerry answers his friend, “Yeah, maybe we could make their hair care a whole lot less time consuming.” The two boys snicker to each other and Jerry pulls out his infamous black box. Taking aim with is potent instrument Jerry waits for exactly the right moment to pull the trigger. Jerry sees his opportunity emerging before his very eyes, The cheerleading co-captains are about to do synchronized cartwheels, in front of the crowd. The girls begin to lean into the routine, Jerry times it perfectly. First press of the trigger gets dark-haired Maryanne, and almost simultaneously he aims and fires on Megan. The girls follow through with their cartwheels and at the instant that they are upside down, the crowd witnesses a strange phenomena. The hair on both young ladies’ heads, with a little help from gravity, drops off their heads and onto the gym floor. Moans, gasps, and shrieks can be heard from the crowd as the two formally long haired cheerleaders finish their routine and bow to the crowd with heads like cue balls. The girls are still unaware that they now look like Kojak’s kids, but from the hysteria in the crowd they know something is wrong. Maryanne looks over at her partner Megan and screams, “Megan, you- – you’re bald!” When Maryanne brings her hands up to touch her own hairless scalp, she screams and runs off the gym floor crying. Megan feels her own head and passes out on the spot, from shock. the gym is now in chaos as kids are running out, teachers are trying to maintain order, and the school nurse is trying to revive poor Megan. A sudden announcement over the P.A. system by the principal Mr. Majorski announces that school will be closed early today until these incidents can be fully investigated. Jerry slips the black box back into his pocket and he and Herman return to their home room to await early dismissal.
Jerry and Herman are soon on their bikes, out on the street, and on their way home. As they ride out, they can see a truck form the health department pull up, and the remote truck from channel 62 news is parked right in front of the school. Jerry and Herman avoid the publicity, but can see Janet Halsey of the Channel 62 News Team interviewing students, and administration personnel. They are about a block away from school when they hear a voice call out to them. “Jerry, Herman wait up!” The voice is that of a cute little girl with her dirty blonde hair in pigtails. They stop their bikes and wait for the girl to catch up. “Oh, hi Melinda!” voiced Jerry and Herman in unison. Melinda Peterson may have horn-rimmed glasses and pigtails, but behind that facade is a very pretty and intelligent girl. As Melinda catches up with the two guys she says, “Hi Herman” and as she turns to Jerry she brushes against him and says in a more intense and interested manner, “Hi – Jerry!” Jerry blushes a little by the attention, but Melinda was the one girl in school that really appreciated Jerry for his true intelligence. Jerry obviously had special feelings for Melinda also. “Hi guys, what do you think about all those girls losing their hair today!” “Isn’t it strange?” “Some kids say it’s some weird new virus that escaped from the government labs.” “But do you know what I think, if I didn’t know better I’d swear that someone is using an isotronic wave matrix transmitter. What do you think Jerry?” Melinda spurts forth. Jerry and Herman swallow hard upon hearing that last remark, and Jerry answers cautiously, “Well Melinda, you know as well as I that no one yet has perfected a working isotronic wave matrix transmitter, at least one that is not the size of an eighteen wheeler.” Melinda responds, “I know that, but I just have that feeling that somebody is behind this hair loss thing, and if they catch them they should……” She runs her finger across her throat in an ominous motion, causing the two boys experience that dreaded lump in the throat once more. On that note Herman stammers, “Well see you folks,- I – I got get home – and – er – do some things.” Jerry and Melinda say goodbye to Herman, and Melinda says in a very seductive little voice, “Gee Jerry you think maybe I good come over your house later and we could study together?” Jerry answers enthusiastically, “Sure Melinda, how about 6:30?” “Great, see you then!” replies the sweet little Melinda. Jerry’s heart is pumping a little faster now, as he contemplates Melinda’s visit this evening.
Jerry pedals home in a flash, stashes his bike in the garage, and flies into the kitchen. “Hi Mom! Is it all right if Melinda Peterson comes over to study?” Jerry asks. “Yes Jerry, Melinda is such a nice girl, and besides at least you won’t be wasting the night in the cellar as you usually do.” Jerry goes down stairs to his lab and sat on his chair, by his work bench. He reached into his pocket and pull out his precious black box, and placed it on the work table. Sitting there quietly he begins day dreaming about being alone with Melinda.
A call from his mother reminded him that he had to go upstairs for supper. Jerry walked up the stairs still in a daze, his mind occupied with fantasies of being alone with pretty Melinda. As he sits at the table eating he remains self engrossed, not paying much attention to his parents conversation or the tuna casserole. “Jerry what do you know about this hair thing at your school today? It’s all over the 5 o’clock news tonight,” his mother questioned. Jerry answered his mother, “Gee Ma, I don’t know allot of weird things happen at that school.” “What happened Marge?” asked Jerry’s father. “Oh, it’s tragic, seven young girls had all their hair fall out and are totally bald! Neither the Health department nor the school has any idea what caused it.” Jerry’s Mom explained. Jerry cracked an unnoticed slight smug smile at the last remark. “OH those poor girls what they must be going through now!” lamented Jerry’s mother. Jerry thought to himself, “And they all deserved it!” Jerry finished up quickly, and went into the living room to await Melinda.
The sound of the front door chime startled Jerry as he shot up from the chair he was sitting in. He straightened himself up, took a quick glance in the mirror, and proceeded to open the door. As his he swung the door open his eyes widened in surprise at the sight before him. There standing in the door way was Melinda, but not like he had ever seen her before. Gone were the glasses and pigtails. Her lovely blonde hair flowed freely down to her mid back, she was even wearing stylish clothes and a little lipstick. “Hello Jerry.” She greeted the surprised boy. “Wow Melinda, you look great!” replied the awe struck young man. “Oh thank you! Aren’t you going to invite me in Jerry?” Melinda inquired. Jerry snapped from his trance and answered, “Oh yes please, yes please do come in!” Melinda walks in and flashes a smile at Jerry, who immediately melts inside. “You have a real nice house here Jerry.” Complements Melinda. “By the way Jerry I’ve heard so much about your laboratory, could you show it to me?” Jerry’s face beams as he says, “Sure no problem, step right this way Madam!” Jerry leads the Melinda down the cellar stairs into his own little world. Jerry starts the tour explaining, “Over here is my work bench, my test equipment, soldering iron, and some on going projects.” Melinda goes over and starts to examine the items. Jerry who has already moved over to his computer system doesn’t realize that he has left her behind. “Here of course is my computer equipment, and ISDN Internet connection.” Melinda’s eye catches sight of the little black box sitting on the table, and picks it up in her hand. She points it at the basement wall and pulls the trigger. Not seeing any result, she turns it around and looks straight down the business end of the device. Her finger is resting upon the trigger switch as she questions Jerry, “Jerry what does this device do?” As her finger gently squeezes down upon that fateful switch. Jerry turns around and seeing what is occurring, screams “Melinda NOOOOOOO!”
At that very instant Jerry wakes from his nightmare. His heart racing and drenched in sweat. His mind takes a second to determine which reality he is now perceiving, and upon that realization, breathes a sigh of relief. “Thank God it was just a all a dream!” His eyes scan the bedroom till they spot the little black box lying on top of the dresser. Pulling himself out of bed he rushes over to the spot, and picks up the infernal machine. Going to the window he opens it, and with all his energy, tosses the little machine as far as he can into the darkness of the night. A feeling of relief comes over the young boy as he muses, “I guess some things in heaven and earth are best left undiscovered!”