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Fizz de Brooke in the Kingdom of Asher

by  FizzdeBrooke

Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Word Count: 2263
Summary: A contemporary Jekyll and Hyde meets Jumanji story. A boy searching for the ultimate game becomes trapped in a creature and must win a real-life game to escape. For 7-9 year-old boys.

Chapter One.

I woke up, smelt sweaty socks mixed with mouldy cheese and gagged. I went to the toilet, walked down stairs holding my nose, and peered round the kitchen door.
“Mum,” I said, still holding my nose. “What’s that smell? It’s horrible.”
“Kippers,” Mum said, standing in front of the grill and poking something with a spatula. Smoke spewed everywhere.
“It stinks,” I said, turning my head away.
Dad turned round from the kitchen table, mouth full of food, “It’s only fish Tom … Kippers, the best breakfast a man can get.”
“It reeks.”
“Well it’s time we tried something different,” Mum said, sliding one of the stinking things onto a plate, sizzling away. “Here you go, give it a try.”
“No way,” I said, waving a hand in front of me. “Nothing that smells that bad is going anywhere near my mouth. No way.”
“You’ll never know unless you try it,” Dad said. “It’s gorgeous.”
Mum lifted the plate of stinky up, “You can’t live on toast.”
“Why not?” I said, with my fingers still holding my nose. I sounded like my head was in a bucket. I couldn’t understand the fish thing. It might be good for you but it stank.
“You spend too much time in doors,” Dad said. “Playing games all the time.”
My eyebrows caved in. “What’s that got to do with anything?”
Dad shoved another piece of stinky stuff in his mouth and brushed his long grey hair out of his eyes. “Thomas Bunch,” he started.
I rolled my eyes. Another lecture on healthy eating, oh great!
“You don’t get enough exercise …”
Switching brain off … now!
La-la, la-la, Transformers … la-la … wouldn’t it be fun if the earth was flat?
“Vegetables … fish.”
“Ah-ha,” I said.
“… Chubby ...”
Who was chubby? At least I didn’t have to keep dyeing my hair to get rid of the grey bits.
“… Lay around, TV …”
I remembered when Dad painted the ceiling, and next door’s cat came to visit. It looked like a skunk when it left, with speckles of white paint all over its back.
“Yes Dad.” Had I said it at the right moment, I hoped it was right. I usually got it right. A few ah-ha and yes in the right place usually did the trick.
“… Football …”
Oh why did he always have to bring football up? He stopped talking. He was staring at me with his eyebrows raised. Ah, I guessed I should say something.
“Okay, okay, I’ll try some.” Stupid, I could’ve said anything. But oh no, not me, I had to say that.
I walked over to Mum by the cooker. She held out a fork with a piece of yellow stinky stuck on the end. I held my nose the whole time and plucked it off the fork with my teeth. It crumbled in my mouth and it tasted like sweaty socks. How does anyone eat that stuff?
“Well done,” Mum and Dad chorused.
I nearly threw up. I thought it would never end. I swallowed it to get the taste away.
Eeeyik! Grrrrarghh!
I ate two rounds of jam on toast before the taste went, but the house still stank of fish. I went up to my room and switched on my game’s console. Dad left for work at half-eight, and Mum started hoovering downstairs.
She’s always cleaning something, she’s obsessed.
I picked up the game controller and thumbed the cross-shaped control, waiting for the game to come up. Nothing happened. Oh, yeah, I’d finished the last game I owned. I rifled through my games’ box, big red wooden thing with ‘DANGER - TOUCH AND YOU DIE’, written on the side.
But I don’t know why I bothered, because no one went in my room to read it except Mum and Dad. Friends just annoyed me, so I didn’t bother with them. They never wanted to play what I wanted, and when they did, I just thrashed them. They were all easy to beat. No one ever came close. I actually played Sam blindfolded and still beat him. He said he didn’t want to come round anymore, but that was fine with me.
“Mum,” I shouted. “MUUUUM!” I screamed at the top of my voice, trying to shout over the noise of the hoover. Why couldn’t they make quiet hoovers?
The hoover stopped. “What?” she shouted back. “Don’t shout.”
“But you couldn’t hear-”
“Have your legs fallen off?” She was trying to be funny again. Mum was always trying to be funny. It was really embarrassing.
“No,” I shouted, in my deep voice. “Can I have some money to get another game?”
“Will you stop shouting and come down here.” She sounded a little miffed.
I huffed. “Okay.” Why couldn’t she come to me, I mean, she was already standing and I was sitting.
I stood on the stairs and looked down at Mum over the banister.
“Why don’t you go out and get some fresh air for a change,” Mum said. “You can’t spend the whole of the summer holidays playing games. It’s not good for you.”
“Oh Muuum,” I whined. “There’s nothing to do.” I stretched out my hands, palms upwards and my shoulders lifted up to my ears.
“Why don’t you go to the park? You might find some of your friends there, playing football,” she said, hint-hint. Oh like I’d want to play football, when I could play Ninja Warriors.
“If I play football, will you give me some money for a new game?” I raised my eyebrows and gave Mum a cheeky smile.
Mum shook her head and laughed, “I don’t know, twelve years old and you’re trying to bribe me … No, Tom, I think it’d be better for you if you stay off that thing for a while.”
“No way, I can’t-”
“Nope. That’s the last of it. Go and play football outside, in the fresh air,” Mum said, her busy red hair wobbling on top of her head like a berry bush.
I sighed and my shoulders sank almost to the floor. “I hate football.”
“Go, it’ll be good for you.” Mum pointed outside. “And why don’t you wear that expensive football kit your Dad got you?”
I knew when she said that it wasn’t worth arguing. I stomped upstairs and turned the console off. What was I going to do if I couldn’t play with my console?

Chapter Two
I pushed my spectacles back up my nose while stuffing my feet into worn trainers. Mum was still hoovering. I couldn’t be bothered to shout again, so I went out the front door without saying anything. I slammed the door behind me. That felt good.
I couldn’t believe Mum had stopped me from using the console. I wasn’t about to play football all summer. It would kill me. First she forced me to eat stinky fish and then exercise me to death. What had I done wrong?
Maybe I’d do a bit of window shopping. I swung a left past the park and walked up to the shops. I could just borrow a game for a while. It couldn’t be stealing if you were going to bring it back, right?
I reached Manic Games and peered through the window. My heart thumped. Oh no, it was empty. I wouldn’t be able to borrow one when there was no-one in there to give me cover. I looked at my digital watch, half-nine. It was pretty hot already. Everyone was probably playing football. What was I supposed to do?
I’d decided I’d just have to walk around a while and see if it filled up a bit. I walked past the row of shops and turned left down Villier Street. I hadn’t been down there for ages. Why should I? There was nothing down there. The games’ shop was on the main road.
My legs ached. I gasped for breath. It’s all uphill from the park. I leant against a wall between two shops to rest and catch my breath. When I looked up, I saw a little shop with old rotting wood. A big card in the dark window read, special offer: 3 for 2 on all games.
I didn’t know there was another games’ shop. True Games, said the crooked sign above the door.
I wiped sweat from my forehead with my bare forearm. My Chelsea t-shirt clung to me, so I pulled it away from my skin and blew over my chest to cool it down. I had to go in, find out what games there were, and whether I could borrow one for a while.
I pushed the door open. It creaked in a sort of voice saying – welcome. A musty smell strangled my nose. I coughed as dust smothered me, choking me. I pulled my t-shirt over my nose and mouth.
I looked around. It was dark. All I could make out was the outline of shelves. I saw a flicker of light coming from in front of me, to the left near the shelves, and walked towards it. The floor felt hard and slippery like bathroom tiles. My trainers screeched on them, which was eerie.
I shivered as a chill wind blew against my body. I stopped to peer around, searching for the source of the wind, but I couldn’t see anything. I held my hands in front of me, trying to feel my way.
My hands trembled and my mouth felt like all the water had been sucked out. I licked my dry lips. Something brushed my arm, something furry. It felt big, really big.
I wanted to run, right out of the shop and never come back, but I couldn’t remember where the door was. I felt cold … so cold. I couldn’t think. I wrapped my arms around me and shivered. How do I get out?
Fur brushed against my arms and face, like spiders crawling all over me. I couldn’t stand it anymore. Panic welled up from deep inside of me. I held my head up and screamed.
A burst of light stung my eyes. I protected them with my hands.
“It’s all right, calm boy, calm,” said a squeaky voice, “a … what’s called … fuse, yes, fuse blew. Lights on now, see?”
“Who are you?” I said, my voice trembling. I saw an old man, short and chubby, about my own height. He had a Roman Centurion helmet on – weird.
“Viktor Filipov, owner,” he said, “who you be, boy?”
“Tom,” I said, staring at his eyes. He had thick glasses on that made his eyes look like golf balls. Then … he blinked, or was it a wink … no, that’s strange, only one eye blinked. Urgh! I couldn’t take my eyes off him. What a weirdo.
“You want buy game?” he said.
“Er, no … I mean, yes, I mean maybe.”
Oh, like that wasn’t showing I was nervous at all – stupid. I rubbed the back of my neck and lowered my eyes.
“Come,” he said, guiding me to the shelves of games with his arm. “On second shelf we have War Game. Third shelf we have …”
He went on like that for ages, telling me what was on every shelf. But I couldn’t concentrate because I couldn’t stop staring at him. No wonder no-one ever came in here.
I looked at the games, turning them over to read the blurb and look at the graphics. The games were all pretty cool, but full of dust. I looked up. I couldn’t see him anywhere. I thought he’d gone to do something in the back of the shop. My heart pounded in my ears.
Quick, borrow one.
I picked one up that I liked, stuffed it down my shorts and covered it with my t-shirt. I started sweating again. I looked around me; to be sure it was safe. I started heading for the door, trembling with fear and excitement at the same time.
“Leaving, Tom?” he said, from behind me.
My whole body jumped in shock, like I’d been electrocuted. Where had he come from? He couldn’t have just appeared out of thin air. He’d have to be a magician, or an alien. Get a grip Tom, there were no such things as aliens, I told myself.
“Er, didn’t see anything I liked,” I said, knees wobbling like jelly.
Viktor pointed at my shorts, “Why got game in shorts, Tom? You want borrow game?”
He’d seen me stuff the game down my shorts, but how?
“Oh, er, how did that get there?” I said without thinking. What an idiot. And how did he know I wanted to borrow it?
“Ah, I having better game for you? You try it?” he said, rubbing his stubby hands together.
I didn’t want to try anything. I just wanted to run, but my legs felt like someone had tied a double-decker bus to each foot. I felt like I had to say yes, otherwise he might tell Mum and Dad and then I’d be for it.
I pulled out the game from my shorts, “Yeah, I’ll give it a try. Sorry about the game. I think it must’ve fallen down there.”
Oh, good one Tom. Don’t say another word.
Viktor snatched the game out of my hands and waddled over to the shelves. He placed it back in its place. Then he pulled something out of his torn jacket pocket and held his hand out in front of him.

... more to follow ...