Gadgets the great escape, p.25
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       Gadgets: The Great Escape, p.25

           David Hancock
 

  While the gadgets were resting Blade, Lee-Mailer and The General sat huddled together thrashing out a plan of how they were going to cross the gigantic lawn and get to the cover of the overgrown area at the bottom of the garden which the children referred to as the ‘Magic Forest’.

  ‘Under cover of darkness, it’s the only way,’ argued The General. ‘Move the battalion at night. That’s the way to do it.’

  ‘I know what you mean General and on the surface it would seem the best idea. But we can’t guarantee we’ll get any moonlight and without any light at all I fear some of the gadgets might get lost,’ said Blade. ‘What do you think Lee-Mailer? ‘

  Lee-Mailer looked up from his screen. ‘I was just having a look at the cloud forecasts,’ he replied. ’It doesn’t look good. We could be in pitch darkness if we go out there at night. But the alternative of starting out while it is light means we are going to leave ourselves exposed and vulnerable.’

  ‘That’s true,’ agreed Blade. ‘But after Zack’s antics those kids are not going to be allowed out to play for the rest of the day. So we should be free from them menacing us. Plus I don’t think Forque is ready to stand yet. At least two people will have to carry her on the sandwich maker. That is going to be very difficult in the dark. And we can’t wait here another day because we are still too near the house and could be spotted. It’s a tricky one.’

  ‘I suppose we could split up,’ said Lee-Mailer after a while. ‘Some of us stay here until Forque is better.’

  ‘No,’ interrupted Blade sternly. ‘That won’t do. From now on we are one unit. We stay together. There is strength in numbers. General, any last thoughts on our situation?’

  ‘Well I’ve been surveying the scene with my field glasses. It’s not the straight forward battlefield you might think.’

  ‘We hope it’s not going to be a battlefield at all,’ said Lee-Mailer before realising they were just the terms in which the General always spoke.

  ‘As I was saying… It undulates and slopes quite a lot, there are fairly thick borders we can use for cover if needed; there are five major trees and several large bushes set in to the lawn. Our only real problem will be getting through the expansive lawned areas before we can get to cover. We don’t want to be caught in the open for too long. I still think a fast run at night makes sense. That’s my assessment sir. But I appreciate it would be difficult carrying the wounded.

  ‘Thank you General but Forque isn’t actually wounded she’s…never mind. I suggest we set off in an hour or so and set up camp at night by one of the trees or bushes. We will post guards around the camp and have to trust to luck. Then early tomorrow we try to cover as much distance as possible. Everyone agreed?’

  ‘Yes’, said Lee-Mailer.

  ‘If that’s what you say, sir,’ added The General reluctantly.

  ‘I’m sure I have your total support General. And I will be counting on it.’

  The word spread quickly round the rockery for everyone to get ready to move out. Two more of the General’s squad, Marvin the meat mincer and Harry the hand electric mixer offered to volunteer as stretcher bearers and carry the sandwich toaster with Forque lying on it.

  Marvin and Harry had been friends ever since they arrived at Gableforth. Marvin had been made in St. Louis, USA, and strangely enough had no serial number. With his low power magnet motor he was quieter than any of his fellow mincers as he often boasted. Meat, cheese, nuts, just throw them at him. His grinding dies and sausage cone could suck in and spew out more than 20 lbs of meat in less than 10 minutes. Harry, on the other hand could mix, fold, beat and whip cream, egg whites and batter in seconds. As a PF713 made in Guangdong, China, by the Dianden Corporation Harry had five different speed settings and even a steel dough hook for kneading. But Harry, being the polite mixer he was, never mentioned his dough hook for fear of upsetting Jane whom he acknowledged as the only really true bread maker.

  Marvin and Harry, the mincer and the mixer, had arrived on the Abercrombie’s kitchen worktop at exactly the same time, after Rebecca had been on a shopping spree at her local department store. Later she admitted they had been bought mainly out of boredom, but at the time she thought they were just what she wanted. As newcomers Marvin and Harry became immediate friends and never suffered the loneliness of other solo gadgets like Crock Pot. Whenever they were feeling down they always had each other for company. Even when their brief stint on the worktop came to an end they were put away in a cupboard together. You couldn’t get two closer gadgets that Marvin and Harry. So it was natural that when volunteers were needed to stretcher Forque, Marvin and Harry volunteered together. They were inseparable.

  ‘Would you like to take the front end or the back end of the sandwich maker?’ Marvin asked Harry.

  ‘It is entirely up to you,’ replied Harry as polite as ever. ‘Whatever suits you, I will go along with.’

  ‘That is so kind of you,’ said Marvin. ‘In which case I shall start by taking the front. And every so often we will alternate. How about that?’

  ‘What a perfect idea Marvin. You are so thoughtful.’

  The kitchen accessories were assembling as silently as possible for the march along the vast lawns of Gableforth. Blade and Lee-Mailer were to lead the way with The General, helped by Ricky the rice maker, bringing up the rear to hurry up an stragglers. Deep Fat and Jane were to patrol each side of the column to keep it as tight and bunched as possible and keep a watch for any impending attack. As the sun started to sink behind the evening clouds they set off. Out of the rockery they crept across the second patio, past the wrought iron tables and chairs and slowly down the steps on to the lawn. No one said a word. It was as if even to breathe might give the game away and let one of the family see them from the house. But slowly, very slowly they all made it to the lawn and thanks to the steep drop of the second patio were able to rest for a minute and collect themselves, totally hidden from the house.

  ‘Well done everybody,’ said Blade, as Marvin and Harry gently put down the sandwich maker they had been carrying. ‘I didn’t want to say anything before but that tiny trek could have led to our capture before we had even begun. We were totally exposed to views from the house.’ The gadgets all looked at each other. Blade hadn’t had to spell it out for them, why did he think they were so silent, they knew exactly the risks they were taking. And there would be a lot more to come.

  ‘I’m glad that bit’s over,’ said Fiona the chocolate fondue fountain to Jenny the juice extractor, both crouching down behind the patio wall. ‘But I’m a bit worried about Eddie. Without his wok bowl he doesn’t seem to be balancing correctly. I hope he can keep up and doesn’t get left behind when we really do start moving. I’ll just go and have a word with him.’

  ‘I’ll be fine,’ said the electric wok after Fiona had expressed her fears to him. ‘Don’t worry about me. It just takes a bit getting used to not carrying that big bowl around all the time.’

  ‘Well I’ll be there for you sweetheart and we can march together.’

  ‘I’ve told you Fiona, don’t worry. It will be all right.’

  Further along the patio wall two other gadgets were having a conversation. ‘You equipped yourself very well earlier,’ said the Kettle to the Toaster, ‘helping save Blade’s girlfriend like that.’

  ‘Yeah well, he saved me earlier didn’t he? He saved me from the dustbin,’ said the Toaster appearing to be shy and a little embarrassed. ‘It was the least I could do to try and help him out. Anyway Blade and I have always been friends…’

  ‘What!’ spluttered the Kettle. ‘There you go again. You never liked him, you never liked anyone on that worktop in the kitchen. You only tolerated me because you were stuck with me. Don’t tell me you’ve changed Toaster.’

  ‘Well gadgets can change you know,’ he said as meekly as possible.

  ‘Mmmm,’ was all that Kettle could reply, shaking his spout slightly.

  Then Toaster spotted Jane Dough just up ahead of them chatting w
ith Deep Fat, and a nasty wicked scowl came across his slots as he remembered how the bread maker had blacked him out before they escaped from the house by stuffing his slots with bread and then turning up the heat. Smoke had been pouring out of him. How could he ever forget that and the final humiliation when he was thrown into the dustbin, all because of that self-righteous Jane Dough, he thought.

  Well she would get her comeuppance of that he was sure and Toaster started to devise a plan of revenge against Jane. But noticing that Kettle was still looking at him he quickly changed his features to one of sympathy and humility. But inside he was seething with rage.

  Blade was walking amongst the gadgets, chatting to all of them and buoying their spirits for the march ahead. He stopped to look at Forque whose sheen was slowly coming back. She was still very tired but she managed a faint smile for Blade. He smiled back and then said to the mincer and the mixer: ‘I’d just like to thank both of you for what you are doing. It can be punishing work as a stretcher-bearer. And of course all my gratitude to you as well Neville.’

  ‘Don’t worry about me,’ said Neville the sandwich maker as Blade continued to move on. ‘After all I’m getting carried. It’s a bit like being a float in the Rio carnival back in my home country of Brazil.’ And they all burst out laughing.

  ‘Isn’t he handsome,’ whispered Harry to Marvin as Blade went to shake hands with Fiona and then Zalda the ice cream maker.

  Meanwhile Lee-Mailer was making sure the mobile phones Marty and Mary were charged and in working order. The General still had Mary which he and Ricky would need bringing up the rear of the party, while Deep Fat still had Marty,

  Blade continued mingling among the gadgets, many of whom addressed him as ‘Sir’ or ‘Mr. Blade’, except, of course, for Warren the warming plate who hailed him as ‘mate’. When he had met everyone Blade announced: ‘Well it’s time we were off then. Stay close together and look after each other if anything goes wrong. Deep Fat and The General both have mobile phones and can get in touch with Lee-Mailer and myself instantly. OK Let’s go.’

  All the gadgets that could carry water like, Deep Fat, Jane Dough, Ricky, Kettle, Crock Pot and even Benzo, the 12-speed glass bender, did so by filling up at a garden tap near the patio wall. Everyone set off in high spirits. The plan was to bypass the ornate fountain on the right and head straight down for an island of bushes. It was more an oasis of shrubs with a six-foot Colorado Barberry, some Western Dogwood, Twinberry Honeysuckle, Jasmine, a little Oleander and a bit of Juniper. It would be a great hiding place, if they could get there without any mishaps.

  No one noticed the first wasp except for Marvin who slapped the side of his face. ‘Get off,’ he shouted. ‘What did you say?’ said Harry.

  ‘Nothing, just a wasp. I hate them.’

  The second wasp caused Fiona to scream, and the whole gadget train to stop in its tracks. ‘What’s happened?’ Lee-Mailer messaged Mary and Marty.

  ‘Fiona,’ said Deep Fat, who was the first to reply. ‘Am investigating.’

  ‘What’s the matter?’ Deep Fat asked Fiona. ‘You know we have to keep as quiet as possible.’

  ‘I’ve…I’ve been stung, by a wasp I think,’ replied Fiona. ‘Right here on the top of the fountain.’ Deep Fat examined the area. He could see a puncture but there didn’t seem to be any allergic reaction. ‘Hold on.’ he told Fiona as he summoned Sympatico. ‘Doctor, I think Fiona has been stung by something. I don’t know much about this, don’t know what to do,’ he said, glancing over at Jane and looking helpless as usual. ‘Can you come and look at it?’

  But before the coffee machine could even arrive more wasps started diving down on the gadget train. And the more the gadgets tried to wave them away the more the wasps thought they were being threatened. Threatened wasps attack…

  Soon there was a whole swarm of wasps attacking the gadgets, And the more the gadgets tried to fight back the more vicious the wasps became. Ricky the rice cooker got stung as did Simon the vacuum sealer and soon the whole gadget train was breaking up. The leaders appealed for calm with Blade sending out an order via Lee-Mailer for everyone to stay still and not react. But it didn’t work. Zalda the Ice Queen was running around trying to escape the wasps, but they only pursued her with more thoroughness. Even Carl the Mighty, the brave little can and jar opener was starting to get scared.

  And wide boy Warren the warming plate was yelling ‘Buzz off mate’ at the wasps as they started to swarm around him. ‘Buzz off,’ he kept shouting, ‘buzz off.’

  ‘We have to think of something fast, said Blade to Lee-Mailer. ‘This is causing complete disruption. The girls are getting hysterical and now the wasps are repeatedly stinging. But what can we do?’

  ‘We have to distract the swarm sir?’

  ‘But how can we do that?’ replied Blade. And then it was if a light went on in his head, and the flash of inspiration happened to Lee-Mailer at the same time.

  They turned to each other and they both said the same word…’Fiona’

  Deep Fat brought Fiona the chocolate fondue fountain to the head of the gadget train, both of them still trying to swat away wasps. Fiona had been stung in several places and was feeling tired as the venom seeped into her system.

  ‘I have a very important task for both of you,’ Blade started to explain.

  ‘Both of us,’ said Deep Fat with alarm. ‘But I’m looking after the train…I can’t…um.

  ‘Be quiet,’ interrupted Lee-Mailer. There had been no love lost between him and Deep Fat ever since they had traded insults with each other in the kitchen but now the old fool was getting exasperating. ‘Just listen to what Blade has to say.’

  ‘We need to create a diversion to draw the wasps away from the gadgets and you are the only one that can help us Fiona. Here is how we do it…’

  Wasps are built like futuristic fighter ships and love all sorts of things to eat. They adore fruit that has fallen from trees and thrive on compost piles but as everyone knows who has ever had their tea outside – they love a good picnic. And there is nothing better than nice sugary things to keep them coming back. Wasps are hated because their stinger is not barbed like that of a bee so it can repeatedly sting its victim. A bee can only sting once and then it dies.

  ‘But I feel so tired,’ pleaded Fiona. ‘I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it.’

  ‘Try Fiona, try. It is our only hope,’ begged Blade. ‘And you Deep Fat, make sure you are in exactly the position I said.’ Deep Fat didn’t like the idea one bit. If anything went wrong he would be the one in trouble.

  While the wasps were still attacking the gadget train Blade had set up his trap a few metres away from all the commotion.

  ‘Now, with all your might Fiona, come on,’ said Blade encouragingly.

  ‘I’m trying but those wasp stings have drained me of my energy.’

  ‘Harder Fiona, harder.’

  And then it started…a chocolate fondue fountain began erupting from the top of Fiona’s head and she aimed it so that it arced over the grassy lawn. Deep Fat, who was full of water having filled up at the tap by the patio wall, was next to the fountain but missing the chocolate spray. As if the wasps had some sort of sixth sense or maybe they could just smell the chocolate they started steadily flying away from the gadget train and towards the chocolate fountain.

  ‘That’s the way my beauties,’ said Blade in hushed tones. ‘This way.’

  Deep Fat had never been so frightened in his life. A whole swarm of wasps was heading his way and all he could do was stay put.

  The wasps dived into the chocolate fountain spray, gobbling up as much of the sweet gooey substance as possible. And then something strange started happening. They became so heavy because of all the chocolate they were eating they couldn’t easily fly away, Instead they started falling to the ground – right into Deep Fat’s bowl that was filled with water, and they promptly drowned.

  One after another the wasps fell into the water. Some tried to struggle to
get out but they couldn’t manage it and soon Deep Fat was filling up with drowned wasps.

  ‘Urgh, oh, this is horrible,’ he kept saying. ‘Oh no, it’s disgusting. They are going to sting me, oh no.. Arggh.. Ooh.. get off.’

  But the wasps didn’t sting Deep Fat, although his whole bowl was full of them by the time the attack was over.

  Sympatico, the coffee machine doctor, was moving among the other gadgets reassuring some about their stings and sympathising with others. He had been stung himself a couple of times. He had a little antihistamine cream with him that he used to help reduce the pain on some gadgets and lessen the swellings. He was worried when he saw Warren and immediately thought the warming tray, who appeared to be out cold, had suffered a severe reaction to the sting leading to anaphylactic shock. It could mean death in minutes

  ‘Warren,’ said the doctor. Warren!’

  And then he was relieved to hear the words: ‘What is it now squire?’

  ‘I thought you’d lost consciousness because of a reaction to the wasp stings,’ explained the doctor.’

  ‘No mate, I was just kicking back and taking a few last rays of the day. Now if you don’t mind I am a warming tray and I need to re-energise. But thanks for the concern anyway guv’,’

  With the sun going down and the gadgets weary after the attack Blade had no alternative but to try and set up camp in the open, He had hoped to get as far as the security of the island of bushes but that didn’t seem possible now.

  ‘They really are too shocked and tired to go on.’ advised Lee-Mailer. ‘We will have to stay here and set off early in the morning.’

  Deep Fat’s bowl had been emptied and everyone congratulated him as Jane beamed with satisfaction at what he had done. Even Lee-Mailer went up to the fryer and grudgingly said: ‘Good job you did there Deep Fat.’ But the most praise was heaped on Fiona who was now totally exhausted after creating her chocolate fountain. Even if all the others had wanted to carry on to the island of bushes she wouldn’t have been able to. Eddie the electric wok was by Fiona’s side, fussing around her and making sure she was comfortable.

  Blade was doing the same with Forque who was insisting much to the leader’s delight that she would be strong enough to walk in the morning.

  All the gadgets formed themselves into a ring like a Wild West cattle train and Benzo the blender and Carl the Mighty both elected to take the first turns on watch.

  But before they went to sleep the gadgets were surprisingly entertained with a quietly sung song by Jenny the juice extractor. ‘It’s an old Flemish folk song, we used to sing where I was created in Belgium,’ she explained to the rest of them. ‘It’s called, When the tired sleep, the dreams begin,’ And when Jenny had finished she said: ‘Goodnight everyone, sleep well.’ And they all replied, You too Jenny, lovely song.’ All that is except Toaster, who was already snoring.

  *

 
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