Bottle Cap Mishap

June 5, 2008
By Dawn Ely, Pelham, NH

At the National Research Testing Facility, one never knows what to expect. Experiments don’t always go as planned, and sometimes that can put people in a world of trouble. I learned that the hard way a few days ago.
You see, I’m an employee at the NRTF. It’s actually a private, government-owned testing site for the new inventions that scientists like me are working on. Like most other labs, it has a very clean and tidy atmosphere to it, and all of the science equipment is in tip-top shape. Most of the people there are a joy to work with and do their job well. There is one exception, of course. His real name is Professor Dimson, but everyone calls him Professor Dimwit behind his back. He was the one that caused my accident that fateful day.
It started out like a normal day at the lab. I had just finished looking over Professor Dimson’s newest creation: a gun-like weapon that instead of firing bullets shoots a laser out of the front end. By adjusting a dial on the back of the instrument and shooting the laser at an object, the holder could change the size of any object he or she wanted to. I thought it was a pretty neat machine, and I gave it my approval to be tested on a small, brown, stuffed teddy bear I had brought with me to the lab.
“Be careful testing that machine!” I yelled to the professor as I walked over to a seat near the testing area to grab my bottle of water. “It’s still new, and it could be dangerous.”
“Will do,” said Professor Dimson. He then proceeded to put on his safety goggles while I sat down on the seat next to my water. I grabbed the bottle and took a look at the design on the front. Oh neat, a contest to win $10,000! I could really use some extra money. Excited about this prospect of getting $10,000, I unscrewed the blue cap, mistakenly dropping it on the floor. It rolled across the ground until fell open-side up a few feet from the teddy bear set up on the testing site.
“Stop the test so I can get my lid!” I shouted to the professor. I didn’t want to lose the code printed on the inside of the lid, my one chance to win the money. But it was too late. As I ran forward and bent down to grab the lid, the professor, distracted by a loud bang from the other room, didn’t hear me and turned his head toward the location of the noise. He grabbed the trigger and accidentally fired the laser, still curious about the bang. I heard it make a crackling noise as it missed the teddy bear and hit me instead. In an instant, I found myself falling forward toward the lid on the floor, watching as it got bigger and bigger. The shrinking was so fast, I didn’t even have time to scream. With a thud, I landed inside the cap, a little bruised but otherwise unhurt.
I carefully stood up, not completely sure of my location other than I knew I was in the lid. This is strangely interesting, I thought to myself. No scientist had ever done this before! Fascinated, I took a look at my surroundings. Based on the size of the bottle cap I had landed in during my fall, I guessed that I was now about two centimeters tall. The rim of the cap came up to about my waist height, and it surrounded me on all sides like a fence housing a farm animal. The cap itself smelled like a rainforest after it had just rained, probably because the lid was on top of my water bottle. Smelling the water was a little overwhelming, and it reminded me of my various trips to the testing pool in the lab. Next, I noticed the color of the cap was a royal blue color, and it matched the color of the skirt I was wearing. It looked much bigger now that I was so small, like the size of a hot tub without any water in it. I wish I could be in a hot tub right now, I though as I put a hand on my aching back, still hurting from my fall.
Examining the cap further, I saw it had curving ridges on the inside as big as handrails, and I ran my hand along them slowly. It was amazing how the hard, blue, plastic lid felt as smooth as it looked. Suddenly, I heard a loud thump behind me. I turned around quickly, and I saw that it was just a drop of water that had slid its way onto the bottom of the cap. As I looked down at the floor of the bottle cap, I also saw the online code for the contest I had seen on the water bottle written in black letters. To me, they looked as big as the words printed on billboards. I laughed to myself looking at them, thinking of how I saved the code while in the process shrank myself.
I next took a look at the outside of the bottle cap. Around the edge were ridges, too, but these were smaller than the others, and very straight. They rain vertically around the side of the circular cap, and they reminded me of tire tracks like those I had seen on large construction vehicles. When I looked up, I noticed the floor surrounding the bottle cap. It encircled me like an ocean with no end in sight, the dust on its surface like waves around me. I guess the floor’s not as clean as I thought it was, I considered with disgust. My nose must have realized that there was dust, too, as I sneezed a moment later. The force of the sneeze caused me to tumble backwards, right into the water droplet I had heard fall onto the floor. I now felt all wet and uncomfortable, my clothes sticking to my skin and my hair dripping down my forehead. The water had gone all over the bottle cap, too, leaving more puddles for me to potentially fall into. I sighed and pondered how my day could get any worse.

“Dawn? Where are you? Hey, has anyone seen Dawn? She was here a second ago,” cried Professor Dimson helplessly. His voice was so loud that I had to cover my hands over my ears. I better get out of here before he tries to fire that laser again!, I thought. Using all my strength, I pushed the side of the bottle cap and was able to tip so that it was standing on its side. Then, I started to run in the lid like I’d seen the lab rats do in their cage wheels, trying to avoid tripping over the ridges on the cap’s sides. I hope this gets his attention, I thought. Luckily, it was enough to catch the professor’s eye. He picked up the bottle cap, and I hung tightly to the ridges of the lid as he pulled me through the air.
“What are you doing in there?” asked Professor Dimson as he looked at me in astonishment.
“You shrunk me by accident!” I exclaimed with my small voice. “Now, get another scientist over here so they can help you get me back to normal.”
After much work trying to explain to another professor how to work Professor Dimson’s machine, I was able to become normal-size once more. After this accident, I have determined that getting in Professor Dimwit’s (I mean, Dimson’s) way, especially when he is distracted, is just a disaster waiting to happen. To this day, I try to stay away from Professor Dimson, or at least not to be around him while he’s using his machines. I’ve also learned to be more careful with my things, particularly with bottle caps! One never knows what could happen after all, especially in the lab.

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