Gadgets the great escape, p.35
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       Gadgets: The Great Escape, p.35

           David Hancock
‘You’re in big trouble,’ said Jake to his brother when they were alone in Zack’s bedroom.

  ‘No I’m not.’

  ‘Yes you are. They’re going to come along and take you away and put you in care. You’ll probably go to a children’s home or a foster home where they will make you work as a slave,’ added Jake trying to pile on the agony. ‘You won’t have any toys, no new clothes, no presents and you’ll be fed on scraps like a dog.’

  ‘Don’t be stupid.’

  ‘I’m not being stupid. You’re the stupid one. You’re dead, finished.’

  ‘All you have to do is tell dad that you saw the toaster down there as well, tell him the truth then everything will be all right.’

  ‘And why should I do that?’

  ‘Because it’s the truth.’

  ‘That’s good coming from you.’

  ‘Please Jake, please. I’ll give you anything you want. You can have my pocket money for a year. Please Jake, please.’

  ‘But Zack don’ t you see, dad’s not going to believe me. He wants to see some evidence, he wants proof. And you don’t have any do you? The toaster is back in the bin. Who is to say it was ever on the lawn at all? You’re finished big brother, better get used to it.’

  For the first time in his life Zack was starting to feel really worried. And the longer he had to wait for his father to decide when to go down the garden the more worried he became. So it was a bit of a relief in the afternoon when Mr. Abercrombie shouted out to his eldest son: ‘OK Zack, let’s go and sort out this mystery. Jake are you coming too?’

  Zack pinched his brother hard. ‘Ouch… yes, yes dad I’m coming as well.’

  The three male members of the family left through the kitchen door and made their way down the steps past the rockery on both sides until they got to the second patio. The sight of the ornate fountain in front of them made Sebastian shudder a little as he recalled his fall.

  ‘OK Zack, now where do you say you found the toaster?’

  ‘Right down there dad,’ he pointed. ‘Right down near that island of bushes.’

  ‘OK son, well let’s go. And you had better be telling the truth or you are in for a big surprise.’

  ‘I am telling the truth dad, I am.’ He turned to his brother. ‘Aren’t I Jake?’

  Jake refused to answer.

  When they arrived at the island of bushes Sebastian immediately noticed there had been signs of disturbance in the undergrowth. He examined round the oleander, jasmine and juniper bushes and pursed his lips letting out a quiet ‘Mmm.’ Then he looked around some more and noticed the grass on the lawn had been flattened in places and the mown turf didn’t look as well-manicured as usual. He said: ‘Mmm.’ Again and with a scepticism in his voice turned to Zack and asked: ‘Where do you say you saw this toaster?’

  ‘Over there dad, over there,’ replied his son. All three moved to the spot where Zack had pointed. ‘We were looking for a crocodile….’ But as soon as the word came out of his mouth Zack wished he could put it back.

  ‘A crocodile, son,’ said Sebastian with raised eyebrows. ‘OK. And instead of a crocodile you found a toaster. Is that right?’

  ‘Yes dad.’

  Sebastian suddenly remembered he thought he had seen a crocodile or something just as silly before he fell and banged his head. That’s where the children had got the idea. He laughed to himself and dismissed it.

  ‘Let’s just presume you did find the old toaster lying here on the lawn,’ continued Sebastian.

  ‘But we did dad, we did…’

  ‘Let me finish. Let’s presume you are right, and with you Zack that is a big presumption to make. But let’s just say it is true. How did it get here from the dustbin where your mother swears it was put?’

  ‘The robbers did it dad. Don’t you see? They were in the kitchen hunting for gold or diamonds which they knew were hidden in one of the kitchen gadgets. They thought they had taken them all but had forgotten the toaster and came back for it. They found it in the bin and brought it here. But when they couldn’t find the gold or the diamonds hidden in it they just dumped in on the lawn,’ he said breathlessly.’

  ‘Nice idea Zack, you have a lively imagination. Except for one thing. Neither your mother nor I hid any gold or any diamonds in any of the kitchen appliances. We don’t have any gold and the only diamonds your mother has are in the jewellery she wears and keeps in her jewellery box. Any other ideas?’

  Zack was crest-fallen but replied: ‘What if the loot had been hidden in one of the gadgets before you bought it and you didn’t know…’

  ‘I meant any other reasonable ideas Zack, not more flights of fancy’. There was a pause. ‘No? Then giving you the benefit of the doubt and believing you did find the old toaster down here, this is what probably happened.

  ‘I’ve pointed out to both of you and even shown you before the urban foxes we sometimes have in the garden. Most of the time they keep themselves down near the undergrowth at the bottom,’ he said pointing to the end of the garden. ’The Magic Forest I think you like to call it. That’s their usual patch and I suspect they have their lair there. But urban foxes are strange animals boys. Believe it or not there are more opportunities for foxes to find food and shelter in cities than in the countryside. And they will eat anything from birds and chickens to things they can scavenge from rubbish bins and even worms, grubs and slugs.’

  Jake pulled a face at the thought of eating slugs, but Zack’s eyes lit up.

  ‘Also,’ continued their father. ‘A fox and vixen can produce four cubs a year and they usually live in burrows which are known as ‘earths’ and are in quiet places like the overgrowth at the bottom of the garden or they can even be found in cellars or under sheds. I believe the foxes were scavenging in our rubbish bin for food and dragged the toaster down here by mistake, probably because it smelled of old toast to them.’

  Jake was listening attentively but Zack was fidgeting and looking around.

  ‘Anyway boys, urban foxes are not pets,’ added Sebastian. ‘They carry diseases, and from now on we are going to have to make sure the lids are always securely on the bins. I’ll mention it to mum. Now let’s go back to the house.’

  ‘Oh dad,’ said Zack putting on his most forlorn face. ’Can’t we play down here for a bit, please dad?

  Sebastian thought for a second then ruffled his eldest son’s hair. ‘OK you two scamps, but I want you back in the house before its dark and I don’t want to have to come looking for you. I’m letting you do this because I’m giving you one more chance, so don’t betray my trust. And remember, no going into the Magic Forest, that’s strictly out-of-bounds.’ With that Sebastian turned and strode back up the lawn.

  When their father was out of sight Zack turned to his younger brother and said: ‘OK, let’s go.’

  ‘Let’s go where?’ answered Jake.

  ‘Let’s go and hunt down the foxes and find their lair, stupid,’ replied Zack. ‘Now come on, this way,’ he added, pointing to where the mighty battle had been between the gadgets and the Garden Gang. The two boys set off down the lawn towards the Magic Forest but they hadn’t gone more than 20 metres when Zack stopped his brother in his tracks. ‘Look, look,’ he said. ‘There’s the garden rake and it’s broken in half.’

  ‘That’s nothing,’ replied Jake. ‘Over there, look over there Zack. The lawnmower…’

  Zack looked where his brother was pointing and just stood there with his mouth wide-open. The huge petrol-driven lawnmower was lying on its side. And that wasn’t all, the water hose had been cut through and a couple of other garden implements were strewn over the lawn.

  ‘Wow,’ said Zack shaking his head in disbelief, ‘Those foxes are well wicked. What on earth has been on going on here?’

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