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The Junkyard Story Series: Episode 10 - The Makeover Machine Animated Cover

The Junkyard Short Story & Audiobook Series: Episode 10 - The Makeover Machine

Snappy has built a new machine to improve life in the junkyard. But when it turns the animals against each other, Joe has to make a daring sacrifice.

Read myself

The Makeover Machine

With hands on their hips, Joe and Mike surveyed the junkyard. The six animal sculptures they brought to life by means of mysterious electric hearts were all looking happy, if a bit scruffy, from their adventures. And Rusty the dog was looking rustier than ever.

“They had a great summer, that’s for sure,” said Mike.

Joe brushed the hair from his eyes and said, “Yeah. I can’t believe school starts again tomorrow. How are we gonna keep an eye on them?”

Joe and Mike watching the sculptures play around them.

“I’m not worried,” said Mike. “They can take care of themselves until after school. I’m more worried about passing Ms Cramden’s maths class.”

Joe brushed the hair out of his eyes again. “Well, I’m more worried about the haircut my mom’s got planned for me tonight. It never ends up looking right.”

Ratchet, who had been snipping leaves in her colourful scrap-metal flower garden, overheard the boys. Leaping with her powerful grasshopper legs, she landed right behind Joe and began inspecting his hair while snapping a pair of rusty hedge-trimmers.

“This looks easy enough,” she said. “I could have you ship-shape in two shakes.”

Mike clapped Joe on the back. “Hear that, Joe? You’re set!”

Before Joe could protest, he was ushered to a squeaky old office chair. A tarp was tucked under Joe’s chin. By now, all the other animals had gathered to watch. As Ratchet applied a little oil to the large hedge-trimmers, Joe nervously swivelled in his chair.




“Mike,” said Joe, “are you sure this is a good idea?”

Joe sat with a black gown around his body. Ms Ratchet holding a pair of large red hedge trimmers, everyone else is watching.

“Of course!” said Mike. “You’ve cut hair before, haven’t you Ms Ratchet?”

She shook her head and said, “First times are always so exciting, aren’t they? You never quite know what’s going to happen!”

Joe gulped. The sun gleamed off the sharp-looking hedge-trimmers as the blades got nearer to Joe’s head. Suddenly, he stood up.

“I just remembered! I, uh, have to go home and, uh, pick out socks! Uh, I’ll see all you guys after school tomorrow!”

Mike and the other animals watched Joe run off.

Tonk the rabbit crinkled his rubber gasket eyelids and chuckled. “Guess Joe wasn’t ready to trust any robot animals with his scalp!”

Snappy, the robot alligator, tapped a wrench thoughtfully in his claw.

“Hmm,” he mused. “I wonder what we could do about that…”

For the next several days, Mike and Joe intended on visiting the junkyard to check in on the animals. But football practice and homework meant the boys couldn’t return to the junkyard until early Friday morning.

Meeting at the entrance, Mike said, “Joe, hold up. Your hair looks the same! Didn’t your mum cut it?”

Embarrassed, Joe shook his head and admitted he now didn’t trust anyone to cut his hair. But before they could come up with a solution, their eyes goggled.

Whoah,” said Mike.

“Yeah, what is that?!” said Joe.

They were staring at a tower in the middle of the junkyard, five storeys high, with shower curtains for walls. Through the spaces in the curtains, the boys could see mechanical arms and pulleys, from which dangled paint cans, buckets of bolts, spinning gizmos, drills, and much more. At the base of the tower, there was a pair of doors made from car parts, and a sign above that read “Caution!”

Joe and Mike look up at a large colourful tower made from shower curtains.

Snappy the alligator beckoned them over.

“Ah lads! Come closer! You’re just in time!”

“In time for what?!” said Mike.

“El Capitan has agreed to be our first volunteer,” said Snappy, gesturing to the robot turtle with a hubcap shell.

“Remember Capitan,” cautioned Snappy, “make sure the lever is all the way to the left. We want to be safe.”

El Capitan nodded and disappeared into the tower. Inside, he checked the lever to make sure it was all the way to the left. Then he pressed a big red button. The tower began to shake and rumble.

Joe and Mike didn’t know what to expect. They could see buffers whirring, lasers firing, spritz spritzing, paint sloshing, rags flying. Suddenly, a whistle pierced the air, and the doors swung open. El Capitan emerged looking very… spiffy. There wasn’t a speck of dirt or dust on him. He had been soaped, rinsed, dried, and sprayed with a sweet-smelling perfume. Not only that, the turtle was wearing a new coat of paint in a very smart shade of green. His eyes sparkled, having had a thorough wipe-down with glass cleaner. The animals oohed and aahed.

El Capitan sparkling with shiny new green paint.

“Bueno,” said El Capitan, clearly pleased as he struck different poses in front of a mirror. “Muy bueno.”

Mike scratched his head as he turned to Snappy.

“You made a makeover machine?!”

Snappy explained that he had intended on making a machine that could cut Joe’s hair. But the more he thought of ways to improve it, the bigger the machine got.

Snappy now turned to the four animals who were still marvelling at El Capitan. “So. Who’s next?”

Mike and Joe went to school feeling very sure they would come back to the junkyard that afternoon finding nothing but happy shiny robot animals. That is not what they found.

Mayor Crick, normally a fusty frog in a red waistcoat, was sporting a swirly red stripe from head to toe.

“Crick!” said Mike. “You look like a candy cane! And where are all the others?”

Crick with red and white stripes, Joe and Mike look confused.

“No one is speaking to anyone else. Some very mean things have been said.”

Joe and Mike found Ms Ratchet covered in polka-dots and a very tall, corkscrew-shaped hat. Tonk was painted in plaid. Rusty was all pink and covered in sparkles, and Snappy looked like a chessboard.

“It’s all my fault,” said Snappy, sadly. “Everyone went in the machine and came out looking very nice and clean. But then I decided to move the lever to the right, just to see what would happen. It gave me some lovely swirls that made everyone jealous. Soon, everyone was going back in the machine!”

Snappy buried his head in his claws. “It got out of control. And now there’s no solution.”

Snappy with black and white checks, Tonk with yellow plaid all over, a pink rusty and Ms Ratchet in blue.

“Oh there’s a solution alright,” said Mike. “And it’s made of soap and water.”

Mike and Joe announced to everyone that the Makeover Machine was going to get its own makeover. It would be turned back into scrap. And in the name of peace, all the animals would have to scrub the ridiculous paint designs off themselves.

“You all looked brilliant before all this makeover nonsense,” said Mike.

“Besides,” added Joe, “what really matters is how you look on the inside.”

“If that’s true,” Tonk called out, “ how come you’re so nervous about getting a haircut?”

“Indeed!” said Mayor Crick. “We’ll do what you say, but only if you prove that looks aren’t everything!” 

Joe sighed. There was nothing he could do but let Mike cut his hair. And when Mike was finished, all the animals agreed that Joe’s new haircut looked great.

“Really?!” said Joe.

“Absolutely!” said Snappy. “Although it’s a little… well… uneven.” 

Mike holding scissors under Joes nose.

Joe looked at the smiling but concerned faces of his friends. He decided to play it safe and not look in a mirror for the next month.


The End

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