Gadgets the great escape, p.42
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       Gadgets: The Great Escape, p.42

           David Hancock

  Lee-Mailer used Mary the mobile phone to call her counterpart Marty, which The Speaker now had, and when the garden rake spoke Lee-Mailer handed Mary to Blade. ‘Speaker,’ said Blade, ‘We need your help. One of our party has fallen down a hole in the Magic Forest. It could be a foxes’ den, it could be a rabbit warren we are not too sure, but we need your help. We’ll need as much of the water hose that’s still intact, the spade, the strimmer and anything else you think may be of use.’

  ‘We’ll be right there,’ replied The Speaker.

  ‘OK let’s try clearing this area while we wait for the Garden Gang,’ said Blade to the other gadgets. But they had hardly started picking up the debris from the unkempt floor of the overgrown garden when The Speaker arrived with his full compliment of implements.

  ‘Right.’ said Blade, ‘Thanks for the prompt arrival, sorry there’s no time to really welcome you, but we need to get started. We have no time to lose. We need all this area around here cleared of undergrowth as quickly as possible. so we can identify the site. Ricky has found a smaller hole over there. But there may be more.’

  ‘Don’t worry,’ replied The Speaker who turned and ordered the strimmer: ‘Get to work.’ The strimmer started cutting down all the small undergrowth while the leaf buster blew it all into piles and the wheel barrow began carting it away. Within 10 minutes the area around the hole had been cleared and laid bare. Then Blade told Simon the sealer to use his vacuum-sealed bags to run a cordon right around the area. ‘I don’t want anyone crossing this line unless they belong to the working team or have had permission from me,’ Blade said to the rest of the assembled gadgets and garden implements.

  He turned to The Speaker again. ‘We need to run the garden hose from the pond over there,’ pointing back from where they had come.

  ‘It’s quite a way, but we’ll try,’ replied The Speaker, ordering some of the Gang to play out the hose until it reached the water’s edge of the Enchanted Lake.

  The seed drill was the first to report back. ‘We can’t get it there,’ he quietly told The Speaker. ‘It just isn’t long enough. I don’t know what we are going to do. If only the hose had been it’s full length, if it hadn’t been cut in the battle we could have got there. First this bunch of gadgets defeats us and now we have to try and help them. I don’t know what’s going on. It doesn’t seem fair.’

  ‘Be quiet,’ said The Speaker sternly. ‘We are honourable implements and this is our duty under the truce that was laid down. Is there any way we can extend the hose?’

  ‘No sir, it is at full extension.’

  ‘OK, if we can’t get to the water, the water will have to come to us. Get the spade, the fork and the hoe, here now. Anything that can dig,’ he shouted. ‘Do it immediately.’

  Back in the house Zack was in his room feeling full of himself. They had seen through his lying, he thought. But the punishment was nothing. A night in the Wendy House would be great fun. He had been asking his mum for ages if he could spend a night in a tent on the lawn, but Rebecca had always insisted he was too young and had to wait till he went to secondary school. Now, all of a sudden, he could stay in the Wendy House. Whoopee, thought Zack.

  Jake was in his room as well, but he wasn’t as happy as his brother. He was glad his father had seen through Zack’s lying but he had still been grounded and didn’t know how long he would have to stay in his room until he would be allowed back downstairs. It’s unfair, he thought, Zack’s always getting me into trouble.

  But after about an hour little Lucy went and knocked on Jake’s bedroom door. ‘Mummy says you can come down now,’ she told her brother when he opened the door. ‘But Zack can’t,’ she added with a laugh. ‘He’s been very naughty.’

  In the conservatory Sebastian sat his youngest son down for a talk. ‘Jake,’ he said. ‘You knew you were expressly forbidden to go anywhere near the bottom of the garden and yet you went there. Why?’

  ‘Erm. Dunno. Zack thought it was a good idea.’

  ‘And that’s the problem isn’t it Jake? You are too easily led. Whatever your elder brother says and does you go along with it. I’ve noticed it is even starting to infect Lucy. Well it has got to stop. You might think it’s fun for Zack to spend the night in the Wendy House, but believe me it is going to be far from that. And in future I want you to stand up for yourself and not be swept along by your brother. Do you understand me?’

  ‘Yes dad.’

  ‘OK, now go off and play. And be a good boy.’

  ‘Seb,’ said Rebecca when Jake had left the conservatory, ‘I really don’t like the idea of Zack being in that creepy old Wendy House in the night. I know he’s a bad boy, and God knows we’ve tried everything to rein him in, but positively scaring him to death is extreme.

  ‘Trust me darling, I know what I’m doing.’

  The Garden Gang also knew what they were doing. The spade had begun digging the ditch from the Enchanted Lake to as far as the garden hose could stretch. The fork was loosening the soil and the hoe was helping pile up the earth on the sides of the trench. There were working flat out. There was still no sound coming from the hole in which Fiona had fallen and both the gadgets and the Garden Gang were beginning to get worried the longer things were taking.

  ‘Can’t you hurry up?’ insisted the little electric wok to The Speaker.

  ‘We are doing everything we can as fast as we can,’ the garden rake replied.

  Then all of a sudden the spade announced: ‘We are there,’ as the garden implements broke the temporary dam they had created at the side of the garden pond and water started gushing down the trench towards the hose, which had been placed in it

  At the end of the hose nearest the ‘den’ Blade said Kettle to put his spout next to the end of the hose and start sucking until the water started pouring out.

  ‘But…’, protested the kettle.

  ‘No buts,’ said Blade. ‘Just do it.’

  As the water started to flow Blade pushed the end of the hose down the hole into which Fiona had fallen.

  ‘She’ll drown, ‘ shouted Eddie.

  ‘No she won’t,’ replied Blade. ‘Watch.’

  As more and more water started flowing into the hole it began filling up and Blade told the gadgets allowed inside the cordoned area to man any of the smaller holes they had seen in the area and report what was happening.

  ‘There’s water coming out of this hole’, shouted Ricky. ‘And here,’ said Zalda the ice queen. ‘Here too,’ cried Marvin and Neville in unison. ‘And the hole is getting bigger,’

  ‘Good,’ exclaimed Blade to his girlfriend Forque. ‘The sides of the hole are breaking down under the force of the water. I’m hoping it will free poor Fiona wherever she might be stuck.’

  As more and more water poured in, the smaller holes of the ‘den’ all started to get bigger with water pouring out of them until Ricky screamed from the hole he was manning: ‘I can see something, I think it’s Fiona, Eddie get here quick.’

  And Eddie arrived just in time to see his girlfriend come zooming out of the hole on a tidal flow of water. Bang, she went head over heels coming to a stop at the feet of the electric wok. She had been flushed out of the foxes den, or whatever it was, and apart from being shocked seemed little less for wear.

  Relief swept through the little community of gadgets and garden implements as they realised the rescue had been successful and they began congratulating each other on a job well done. But no one was more relieved than Eddie who embraced Fiona and was beaming with happiness. ‘I thought I’d lost you,’ he said to the chocolate fondue fountain. ‘I’ll never let you out of might sight again,’ he continued babbling. ‘Here let me clean you a bit.’

  Fiona pushed him aside lovingly. ‘Please don’t fuss. Us American chocolate fountains are made of pretty strong stuff. Now let’s go and join the others.’

  No little rabbits or fox cubs, or in fact anything but Fiona and a torrent of water came rushing out of the ‘den’ and so Blade rightl
y assumed that it had been abandoned some time ago. The gadgets decided to rest for a while and let Fiona get over her ordeal before continuing their journey.

  ‘And where is that you are headed?’ The Speaker asked Blade.

  ‘We are making for the rundown wooden place in the east of the garden, the place they call the Wendy House,’ he replied.

  ‘Oh that place. It’s really just an overblown garden shed, although it is spectacular and huge. No one has been around there for years. It’s not even used as a shed anymore. We are all housed in a new shed off the edge of the lawn on the opposite side of the garden, but it’s just a big box daubed with creosote really. It has one little window and nothing else to talk about. Now the Wendy House, that’s something else. That was built in an age when gardens meant something and weren’t left to get overgrown like this part is now. It’s even rumoured that it’s on two levels,’ said The Speaker with awe in his voice.

  ‘Yes we’ve heard that too.’

  ‘And why would you want to be going to an old place like that if you don’t mind me asking?’

  ‘Well,’ replied Blade it’s like this….’ And then he launched into the whole story of how the gadgets found out they were to be sold on an internet auction site and decided the best thing to do was to make a run for it rather than end up second-hand gadgets on some stranger’s worktop. He told The Speaker how they had organised the break-out from the house making it look like a break-in, and all the other things that had happened to them on the way, being careful to skirt round the battle with the Garden Gang.

  ‘But why the Wendy House?’ asked The Speaker intrigued by the story.

  ‘Well for a start we thought it would be a good hideout. No one has been down there in years, and we should be totally safe, while each one of us decides what we want to do in the future. Hopefully by now the Abercrombies think that we have all been stolen in a robbery and so they won’t even come looking for us, let alone investigate the old Wendy House. It’ll be a quiet place for us to rest for a while.’

  ‘Sounds just what you need after all you’ve been through. Mind if some of the Gang come along with you? We’ve always wanted to see inside that old place but never got round to it.’

  ‘If you want to we can’t stop you, but don’t be surprised if there is some bad feeling on the part of many of the gadgets. Our great friend Deep Fat died during the battle between us and it may take a long time before any gadget gets over that, including me.’

  ‘I understand, and we took casualties as well. But I thought if we travelled together it might help heal old wounds.’

  ‘Well we can only try. It is wrong to be enemies forever, and we should thank you for helping us to rescue Fiona.’

  ‘What!’ exclaimed a furious Jane Dough, when she heard the Garden Gang were to accompany them to the Wendy House. ‘There is no way I am having anything to do with them. They were responsible for the death of my beloved Deep Fat. They are no friends of mine and they never will be.’

  ‘I agree with Jane,’ said Zalda. ‘What on earth is Blade thinking about letting those ruffians come with us. ‘They will stab us in the back as soon as look at us.’

  ‘Here, here,’ added Marvin and Harry together.

  Dr. Sympatico, the coffee machine, overheard the grumblings coming from some of the gadgets and realised it could flare up into big trouble unless something was done quickly and so he put a comforting handle round Jane. ‘I understand entirely what you are thinking,’ he said. ‘But I’m sure that Blade had his reasons for letting the Garden Gang come along with us. After all they do know this garden a lot better than we do, we’ve spent all our lives in the kitchen.’

  ‘That’s all very well,’ said an angry Jane. ‘But they also attacked us and were responsible for the death of Deep Fat. I can never forgive and I will never forget. So go and tell that to Blade.’ And with that Jane flung Sympatico’s handle from around her and flounced off to be comforted by the ice queen.

  When Sympatico relayed to Blade what was going on it was the General who made the first comment. ‘Dissention in the ranks, it is not good sir,’ he said to the electric knife. ‘We must nip this in the bud. Send back the prisoners.’

  ‘They are not prisoners General’, said Blade with exasperation in his voice. ‘We agreed a peace treaty with them and they are now officially our friends. When we needed help with Fiona being stuck they came as quickly as possible and worked hard to free her.’

  ‘Correct sir, but they may have an ulterior motive and it looks like it is costing us morale, something we can not afford to lose. Not at any price.’

  ‘All right. Call all the gadgets together and only the gadgets, and I will have a word with them.’

  ‘Best of luck sir.’

  Blade told the assembled gadgets that their welfare was of number one importance to him and he would not do anything to jeopardise that. He pointed out the treaty they had sworn with the Garden Gang and said he believed they were honourable implements.

  ‘After all we’ve been through because of them, pull the other one,’ shouted Ricky the rice maker.

  ‘Yes, after all we’ve been through,’ replied Blade. I believe there is safety in numbers and if the Garden Gang stick with us we will be prepared for anything that might happen.’

  ‘But what if they suddenly turn on us?’ piped up Ricky’s girlfriend Jenny the juice extractor in a not unreasonable tone. ‘I think their presence can spread only fear and anxiety. We must go our separate ways.’

  As the meeting dragged on it seemed that Blade was not going to get everything his own way and so he finally conceded and said: ‘OK then let’s put it to the vote. Everyone who thinks the Garden Gang should be allowed to accompany us raise their hand.’

  Lee Mailer and Blade voted together and with them was little Carl The Mighty and Simon. A few more hands went up and Warren was making a note of the numbers.

  ‘Thank you,’ said Blade. ‘And those against the Gang joining us. Please raise your hand.

  Jane, Zalda and Jenny’s hands shot up. As did those of Marvin and Harry and a few others. Warren again noted down the numbers.

  ‘Any abstentions?’ asked Blade. The coffee machine abstained and surprisingly so did big Benzo. Warren again totted up the numbers and then handed them to Blade.

  He looked only slightly crestfallen as he announced: ‘Those in favour nine, those against 10. Abstentions two. I will inform the Garden Gang.’

  ‘I’m saddened,’ said The Speaker when Blade told him of the gadgets’ decision. ‘But if that is the will of your people then that is how it must be ‘I will tell the Gang and we will leave you in peace.’

  ‘I’m saddened too, this is not what I wanted or expected but I have to abide by the decision.’

  ‘Then it is goodbye.’ And with that The Speaker assembled his companions, including the fork, the spade, the water hose and all the others who had played such an important role in rescuing the chocolate fondue fountain and without looking back set off out of the Magic Forest.

  ‘Good riddance,’ said Jane Dough as the Garden Gang were on their way.

  ‘I hope we don’t come to rue those words,’ Lee Mailer answered under his breath.

  The gadgets, who felt exhausted and weary, gathered themselves together to make their final journey to the Wendy House. Fiona was especially tired after all she had been through but Blade insisted they could not afford to rest any longer. ‘Nightfall is coming,’ he told the group. ‘We must be inside the Wendy House before it gets too dark. Now come on everyone, one final effort and we’ll be there.’

  He turned to Jenny, who had sung such a beautiful Flemish folk song when they were trying to get to sleep after being attacked by the wasps. ‘Do you know any good marching songs to keep our spirits up?’ he asked the juice extractor.

  ‘I know a couple,’ she replied. ‘I hope they are suitable.’ And as the gadgets all got to their feet Jenny launched into a rousing tune about the Battle of The Golden Spurs t
hat was fought in Flanders in 1302 and ended with the mighty French being defeated. The tune was so catchy that soon all the rest of the gadgets were whistling along as they marched through the Magic Forest. In fact they were having so much fun and felt so much better that at first they didn’t hear the strange sound coming from the trees.

  ‘Halt,’ said The General who was at the head of the file. ‘Sshhh, listen. And that includes you,’ he shouted to Warren who had carried on whistling when the others had stopped.

  ‘OK hold your ‘air on,’ replied the warming tray.

  All the gadgets, including Blade, Forque and Lee Mailer, stood stock-still and listened. ‘I can’t hear anything,’ chimed up Crock Pot.

  ‘Sshhhh,’ all the others said at once.

  And then in the absolute quiet and stillness they heard something. It was like a low moan coming from all around them. Ricky instinctively held Jenny close to him while Fiona held on to the little electric wok and Marvin and Harry looked at each other with fear. Even usually docile Sam the salad shooter became agitated and Forque ran to the comfort of Blade. Simon and Warren looked at each other more in puzzlement than fear. Only The General stood strong amongst all the gadgets. ‘Come out and show yourself, whoever you are,’ he shouted.

  No one appeared, but the eerie sound took on a sharper tone as if trying to speak.

  The General shouted again: ‘Only cowards hide. If you have something to say, come here and tell us.’

  There was silence and then the sound began again. All the gadgets strained to hear what was being said. This time it was like a whistling sound and no one could make out anything that clearly.


  ‘What was that?’ Lee Mailer said, hoping for a repeat of the sound. But just as quickly as it came, the sound disappeared. There was commotion amongst the gadgets with all of them trying to talk at once.

  ‘I heard the word danger,’ said Neville the sandwich maker.

  I heard trouble,’ added Carl The Mighty.

  ‘I’m scared,’ whimpered Jenny.

  ‘Everyone please try to stay clam,’ said Blade as soothingly as possible. ‘There is nothing to be frightened of.’

  ‘But this is a magic forest,’ interrupted Kettle. ‘The voice is trying to tell us something.’

  ‘Let us get something straight from the beginning,’ continued Blade. ‘For a start this is not a magic forest. It was called that as a children’s nickname. It is simply a large overgrown part of the garden that happens to have quite a big pond and plenty of trees. There is nothing magic about it. It might be dark and it might be a bit scary but there is nothing to be afraid of.

  ‘Nothing to be afraid of!’ spluttered Eddie. ‘We all heard the voice and it was trying to give us a message. It was spelling out the fact that we are in danger. That’s what I’m afraid of, if you must know.’

  ‘I agree with Eddie,’ piped up big Benzo. ‘It wouldn’t be called a magic forest if it wasn’t.’

  Sympatico raised his coffee lid as if in exasperation at the fairly dim 12-speed Russian glass blender and took a deep breath: ‘As you know I am a doctor and a man of science,’ he began. ‘The top Spanish engineers who designed and built me as an FY7681Q imbued me with inherent logic. And I stand by what Blade says. ‘This cannot be a magic forest, because there is no such thing as magic. As to the sounds we have heard it is my guess they are nothing more than the rustling of the wind through the leaves in the trees. I realise that every gadget has been under a lot of stress lately and that we are all very tired. Tiredness makes us believe and do strange things. It can make us hear things and see things that would normally mean nothing. As a doctor all I can suggest is that we get to the Wendy House as quickly as possible where we can recuperate in peace and comfort.’

  ‘Right.’ said Blade, ‘You have heard Dr. Sympatico’s views and they are ones I share. Now let us continue on our journey. We have no time to lose.’

  ‘I heard the word Wendy,’ Harry whispered to Marvin as the other gadgets reluctantly started to get back in line.

  ‘Yes and I heard trouble as well,’ replied his friend. ‘I don’t think we should be going to the Wendy House at all.’ Soon many of the gadgets started voicing the same concern and Blade started to realise he would have another rebellion on his hands if he didn’t spell things out plainly so he decided to play the doubting gadgets at their own game.

  ‘OK, I understand some of you are a little scared.’ he said as sympathetically as possible. ‘But if this really is a magic forest then just think what might happen to you if you stay here in the night. All manner of goblins and elves might come out after dark. And how could a handful of gadgets defend themselves against evil spells and sorcery?’ he asked. ‘I have already sent the Garden Gang away because that is what you wanted, so they won’t be around to protect you from spirits, bogeymen or demons. You will be all alone in a dark magic forest. That doesn’t sound very sensible does it?

  ‘We have been through a lot together and if we encounter any problems in the future then like the true gadgets we are, we will face them together. So come on we are almost home, let’s make one last big effort to get there.’

  The gadgets looked at each other quizzically and Blade knew that he had persuaded them.

  ‘OK Blade,’ said the electric wok, ‘If you put it like that I guess you can count me and Fiona in. I hope this doesn’t all end in tears but I have an awful feeling that it might.’

  And so reluctantly all the gadgets started to move forward again.

  ‘That’s better,’ said Blade to Sympatico with a relieved look on his handle. And then, trying to sound cheery he looked at Jenny and said: ‘Now then Jenny do you know any more happy songs to sing as we go on our way?’

  ‘No,’ replied Jenny. ‘There are no more happy songs.’

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