Now, Leonora’s bedroom/totally-secret-laboratory/workshop (KEEP OUT!) was at the top of an old, disused lighthouse. The lighthouse was on Crabby Island and Crabby Island was slap bang in the middle of absolutely flipping nowhere.
To the north – there was sea. To the east – there was sea. To the south – there was jungle. Sorry, not jungle, more sea. To the west – well, you get the picture. It was a tiny, forgotten sort of place. But it had been home to Leonora, Uncle Luther, their housekeeper, Mildred, and Leonora’s pet otter, Twitchy Nibbles, for almost all her nine years.
Leonora watched her uncle’s boat finally disappear over the blank horizon. Her heart thudded in the silence. Pea brain? Silly little mess? I’ll show you, she thought.
She snapped the window shut and checked the homemade cuckoo clock on her bedside table. It read 7:23 a.m. and five tweets precisely. Thanks to Uncle Luther’s unexpected visit, the day already felt like it was bent out of shape. But he was gone. She had the next few hours, days – who knew how long before he’d come creeping back?
Warm morning sunshine flooded in, sparkling off bits of scrap metal, coiled wires, jars of silvery liquids, little mechanical gadgets and electric circuit boards strewn all around – making her workshop look like the most glorious treasure trove (or like a catastrophic explosion in a junkyard, depending on your point of view).
Leonora waded through the sea of cables to her desk and grabbed a bottle of special formula hair oil. She smoothed a few handfuls through her curls to repair some of the damage from her earlier experiment. Then she picked up a lump of chalk and began scribbling on the blackboard beside her:
• FLAMEPROOF SHAMPOO
• Musical socks
• Bee sting reverser
• Rocket pyjamas
• Magnetic cheese
• Original space/time disruptor
She paused, rubbed her forehead with her wrist. What to work on first today? Her brain often felt like a wonky Catherine wheel, ideas flying like sparks in all directions. And there was never enough time to build everything she wanted to. She also had chores to do – making her bed, washing up, re-engineering the lighthouse generator to run off electric eels. Just normal, everyday stuff. Stuff that could maybe wait until later...
Leonora reviewed the last item on the board. She smiled to herself and pulled a key on a string from around her neck. Then she unlocked the top drawer of her desk. Inside was a box containing two contraptions. She took out the larger one. There it was: her most secret, most astonishing invention yet – the Switcheroo! She carried this ingenious object to her workbench. Then she pulled on ultra-magnifying spectacles and set to work.