Bits from books

Here’s one of my favourite bits from Peace and Love At The House of Fun:

Icky felt quite relaxed now there was no chance of moving, and after a short while began to doze. He even missed the sharp DING! as the doors to the Ghost Metro opened, and the slow dragging of a suitcase across the floor. It was therefore quite a surprise when he opened his eyes and saw someone, or something, standing over him. This creature stood upright, rather like a person, but had small horns and woolly goat-like legs, not like a person at all. It wore a slight but not particularly happy smile, and had one arm hidden behind its back.

“Hello” said Icky.

“Hello” replied the strange figure.

“Who are you?” asked Icky.

“Nobody special” replied the strange figure.

“I believe there’s something special about everybody” said Icky.

“That’s nice” replied the strange figure, “but quite wrong”

“You look like the devil” said Icky.

“The devil doesn’t exist” replied the strange figure. “And anyway, he’s got hooves. I have sandals”

Icky looked down. Sure enough, at the end of his woolly goat-like legs, the strange figure was wearing a pair of comfortable brown leather sandals.

“I think I’ll call you Nigel” said Icky.

“Why is that?” asked the strange figure.

“I used to know a boy called Nigel” replied Icky. “He wore sandals”

“Then Nigel it is” said the strange figure.

“What’s that behind your back, Nigel?” asked Icky.

“Nothing special” replied Nigel.

“Oh” replied Icky.

There was a pause.

“You don’t think there’s something special about every thing?” asked Nigel.

“I beg your pardon?” asked Icky.

“You say there’s something special about everybody” replied Nigel. “You don’t think there’s something special about every thing?”

“I hadn’t really thought about it” said Icky.

“Actually” said Nigel. “There is something special about the thing behind my back”

“There is?” asked Icky.

“I think so, at any rate” replied Nigel.

“What is it?” asked Icky.

“I’m not telling you” replied Nigel.

“Why not?” asked Icky.

“Because” replied Nigel, “that would spoil the suspense”

“I hate suspense” said Icky.

“Tough” replied Nigel.

“I’m not sure I like you much” said Icky.

“Not many people do” replied Nigel. “That’s why I’m an Uninvited Guest”

There was no sign that Nigel was about to move, and Icky, of course, was not going anywhere. He did think of shouting for Stinky, but then remembered the Very Stupid Agreement that Stinky had warned him against.

There was nothing to do but wait.

And wait.

And wait.

“Listen” said Icky, as the first fingers of dawn crept over the bedroom window. “I’ve got a lot of important things to do, and adventures to have, and I’m very sorry, but I really don’t have time to wait to see what you are holding behind your back”

Nigel considered. He obviously enjoyed keeping Icky in suspense, and now saw a chance to keep the game going for a few more hours, or maybe weeks.

“I’ll make a deal with you” he declared.

“Fire away” replied Icky.

“I’ll set you free, and you can go off and do your adventures and stuff” said Nigel. “But you must solemnly promise to come back at the end of it, within three days at the very longest, and be tied up again, and carry on from where we left off”

Icky thought about this. “What if I break my promise?” he asked.

“Then I shall release Jimmy” replied Nigel.

“Who’s Jimmy?” asked Icky.

“My deathwatch beetle” replied Nigel. “A small but lethal creature which will burrow into the timbers of your house and eventually cause it to completely fall down”

“I see” said Icky. “And where is Jimmy now?”

“In my right-hand pocket” replied Nigel.

“What’s in your left-hand pocket?” asked Icky.

“Aha” replied Nigel.

“You’re full of surprises” said Icky.

“I am indeed” replied Nigel.

“Ok” said Icky. “I’m a bit scared, so I’ll do the deal”

“Excellent” replied Nigel. With that, he began to untie Icky, with one hand, edging round carefully so Icky could not get a glimpse of what was behind his back, or in his pockets, for that matter.

“You are now free to go” declared Nigel. “But if you tell anyone about what has happened, or try to harm me in any way, Jimmy will be released forthwith”

‘Forthwith’, of course, was one of Bryan’s favourite words, and it also impressed Icky. He made a solemn vow to keep his solemn vow, and with that, was released into the house.

And here’s a taster from Stinky Finger’s Deadly Doll of Death:

“To the summit!” cried Icky, but just as he sprang forward, he caught sight of something Very Disturbing Indeed. “Eurrgh!” he cried.

“What is it?” asked Stinky.

“Slugs!” cried Icky.

Slugs?” sneered Bryan. “Who’s afraid of – ”

The voice died in Bryan’s throat, to be quickly followed by a whimpering noise, a bit like a baby makes before it bursts into tears. His gaze had fallen on the slugs in question, which were typically ugly and slimy, but also four foot long. They were dotted randomly around the top of the hill, a bit like sheep or cows, quietly grazing. Behind each one was a wide trail of glistening slime.

“Wow” said Icky. “Maybe the force field turned them that big”

“Do slugs eat people?” asked Stinky.

“Let’s ask them” suggested Icky.

“Can they speak?” asked Stinky.

“They’re molluscs” scoffed Bryan. “Everyone knows the Spoonheads didn’t teach molluscs to speak”

Almost as if it heard, the nearest slug turned its head towards Bryan. It really was a grotesque head, covered in blotches and veins, with two long tentacles ending in swollen milky eyes.

Bryan began to shake gently. “My premonition. . .” he mumbled.

“Prem-a-what?” said Stinky.

“Someone’s going to die” muttered Bryan.

“Rubbish” said Icky. “We’ll just keep our distance from them and we’ll be fine”

Icky pressed on, and as he’d re-attached the climbing-rope, so did Bryan and Stinky. The projector was not far away now, but they couldn’t take a straight path there owing to the slugs, which seemed to get more numerous by the second. Some were glassy-smooth and pale, some rough and red, some covered in leopard spots, some in tiny yellow dots. For the most part, however, they didn’t seem that interested in the housemates, but if they were to turn nasty. . .it didn’t bear thinking about.

At last, by the wiggliest route imaginable, the housemates reached the summit. There stood the spoonbeam projector, in all its glory, a super-tech cannon of light programmed to fill the sky the moment the sun went down.


You may be wondering what messages were projected by the Spoonheads.  Keep wondering.

Bryan dug into his pocket and produced a small square of wundaphane on which his advert was written. He had studied the workings of the spoonbeam projector and knew that there was a small slot on one side, into which such a message could be inserted. That message would then override any others for at least fifteen minutes.

Only one problem. Bryan could not find the small slot anywhere.

“Must be on the other side” he mused.

The three housemates took hold of the projector, which was mounted on a rotating stand, and with a huge effort swung it round. As the other side appeared, however, so did the most humungous black slug, which clung to the side of the projector like a great bulbous lozenge.

“We-urrrrrrgh!” cried Bryan, backing away in horror.

“That’s scary” said Stinky.

“We’ll have to get it off” said Icky.

“G-get it off?” stammered Bryan. “H-how do you propose to do that?”

“Maybe you could tempt it away with a nice leaf” suggested Icky.

“No way!” said Bryan. “What if it prefers me to the leaf?”

“Maybe we could hit it with something” suggested Stinky.

“Such as?” asked Icky.

“A stick” replied Stinky. “Look, there’s some over there”

Sure enough, there was the remains of a rowing boat nearby with three shabby oars inside it. It had probably been carried up there in the old days by some drunken students. Icky fetched the oars and tested one for strength. “Are we trying to hurt it, or kill it?” he asked.

“Just trying to make it move” replied Stinky, who didn’t much like the idea of hurting anything, even less killing it.

“But if we don’t kill it” said Icky, “it might turn vicious”

Bryan gave an impatient sigh. “Why don’t you simply get the oars under it, use them as levers, and prise it off?” he suggested.

“Ok” said Icky. “Let’s do that”. He handed one oar to Stinky, and tried to hand the other to Bryan, who was having none of it.

“I’m allergic” he claimed.

“What, to oars, or slugs?” asked Icky.

“Both” replied Bryan.

“Come on, Stinky” said Icky. “We’ll do it”

With that, Icky approached the giant slug, followed nervously by Stinky, while Bryan retreated to safe distance, then a slightly safe distance, then a very safe distance indeed.

“I’ll work an oar under the head end” said Icky, “and you work an oar under the. . . other end”

The two housemates got to work. It wasn’t easy. The slug was stuck fast to the projector with slobbery mucus, and as they disturbed it, even more slime came bubbling out. Bit by bit, however, they forced their oars under its great blubbery body, till only half the oars were showing. These were balanced on the projector, with the ends hanging over the edge. With sufficient force on these ends, the great beast would surely be levered away.

“When I say” said Icky, “push with everything you’ve got”

“Got you” replied Stinky.

“One. . .two. . .THREE!” cried Icky.

Icky and Stinky walloped the oars like a pair of charging rhinos. There was an almighty GLOOP, and next moment the slug was flying through the air as if it had been fired from a catapult. Hardly able to believe their success, the two housemates high-fived, whooped and hollered in triumph.

“See that, Bryan!?” cried Icky. “See that, Bryan!?”

There was no reply.

“He missed it!” moaned Stinky.

“He’s run away!” scoffed Icky.

Suddenly there was a muffled groan. It came from roughly where the slug had landed.

“That sounded like Bryan” said Icky.

Stinky surveyed the scene. “Icky” he asked, “was the slug wearing shoes?”

“Definitely not” replied Icky.

“In that case” said Stinky, “I think Bryan’s legs are underneath it”

Icky followed Stinky’s gaze. Sure enough, a thin pair of legs could be seen poking out beneath the monster slug, wearing sensible shoes that could only be Bryan’s.

“Wow” said Icky. “That was bad luck”

“I suppose we’d better get him out” said Stinky.

Half of Icky thought Bryan really deserved to be stuck under the slug, perhaps forever, but he picked up his oar and followed Stinky over to their stricken housemate. Together they began levering the great mollusc once again, except this time the slug was twice as hard to move, and spewed out twice as much slime. With a heroic heave, however, they finally turned the monster over, to reveal Bryan flat on his back and covered from top to toe in foul yellow gunk. Stinky, who wasn’t too bothered about gunk himself, pulled Bryan to a sitting position and wiped the slime off his face with his sleeve.

“I want my mu- ” blathered Bryan. “I want my mu- . . .my mu-. . .my malted milk biscuits!”