Gadgets the great escape, p.44
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       Gadgets: The Great Escape, p.44

           David Hancock
 

  ‘Zack,’ shouted his father. ‘Come on down, it’s time for you to go to the Wendy House.’

  Zack grabbed his iPod, slammed the bedroom door and went down to the conservatory where Sebastian and Rebecca were waiting with Jake and little Lucy, even though it was well past her bedtime. On the floor beside them was a rolled-up sleeping bag, a pillow and a bottle of water.

  ‘And you can leave your iPod here,’ said Sebastian taking the player off him. ‘This isn’t meant to be a holiday.’

  ‘But dad…’

  ‘No buts. Pick up that sleeping bag, we are going down to the Wendy House. Let’s see if being on your own might give you time to think about all your antics and get you to change a little. And don’t think it is going to be easy Zack. Solitary confinement never is.’

  Rebecca shuddered at the thought of ‘solitary confinement’ for her son. After all he was only 12 years-old, she thought. And well, boys will be boys. Sebastian could see the pleading in his wife’s eyes but he stood firm. ‘Come on Zack, let’s go, ‘ he said as he opened the kitchen door on to the dark patio. ‘Switch the torch on.’

  Zack struggled to carry the sleeping bag and light the way with the torch while his father easily held the pillow and the bottle of water. Sebastian was determined he wasn’t going to make this easy for the young lad. They moved over the top patio and down the steps that divided the rockery in two, the same place where the Gadgets had been buffeted by the ferocious storm and the electric wok had nearly drowned until he was saved at the last minute by the can opener, Carl The Mighty. Zack struggled to put the sleeping bag under his arm and he instinctively reached out to hold his father’s hand but Sebastian refused to take it. Zack valiantly tried to carry on down the steps but the light was swinging everywhere and his father was forced to say: ‘For God’s sake Zack give me the torch or you’ll get both of us killed.’

  And so father and son continued down to the second patio.

  The Gadgets were already at the Wendy House but it had been a hard slog to get there. Many of them were still spooked by what they thought they had heard and every now and again Harry would whisper to Marvin the meat mincer: ‘Did you hear that, did you hear that? It sounded like the word ‘problem’…. or that, was that the word flee?’

  ‘I don’t know, I can’t quite make it out,’ replied his friend gently. ’Anyway I suppose it’s only the wind like the doctor assured us. Probably nothing to worry about.’

  They were a bedraggled lot, hungry, dirty and frightened as they approached the Wendy House. The General saw the massive old shed first and signalled for the rest of the gadgets to halt.

  ‘Sir,’ he said to Blade. ‘Permission to scout the surrounding area for would-be enemy? Best not to take any chances.’

  ‘I don’t think that is absolutely necessary,’ replied the knife with a sigh. ‘Everyone is dirty and tired and the sooner we get inside the better.’ But seeing the shocked look on The General’s grilling top Blade added: ‘Well if you insist then take young Warren and go look round the back. Lee-Mailer and I will take the rest of the gadgets towards the front door and see if we can get in.’

  As the gadgets neared the front they looked at the wooden house with amazement. This was more than an old garden shed, it was more like a log cabin. There was even a small verandah at the front with a picket fence. Much of the fence had rotted away and was broken down but they could all see how it must have been years ago. There were two windows on each side of the front door but they too showed their age. They were filthy dirty and one of them badly cracked

  ‘Come, hurry,’ said Blade as they approached. Lee-Mailer tried the handle on the front door but nothing happened. The door seemed locked and there was no key in the lock.

  He turned to Blade with a look of alarm. ‘I think it’s locked, what are we going to do now?’

  ‘Here let me see.’ The leader of the gadgets peered at the lock and tried the handle himself but it wouldn’t open. ‘It doesn’t appear to be locked, ‘ he said squinting into the keyhole and at the edge of the door. ‘I think it’s just stuck. If only Deep Fat was still with us he would break it down by himself. But we will have to use force – brute force. Lee-Mailer call up Benzo and Crock Pot we need them both here now.’

  The big Russian blender and the sturdy slow cooker, a Bavarian Damini 670, were told by Blade what he wanted them to do. ‘I want you two to rush at the door and force it open, but not with so much force that the hinges break and the door collapses. Do you understand.’

  ‘Yes sir,’ they both said at once.

  ‘After three,’ said Benzo to Crock Pot. ‘One… two…three.’ And with that they ran at the door to the Wendy House. Nothing happened.

  ‘You’re not pulling your weight,’ said the slow cooker to Benzo.

  ‘It’s not me,’ he snapped back, ‘It’s you. You might be heavy but you’re too slow.’

  Crock Pot, who knew he wasn’t the fastest cooker around, just grimaced at the jibe and calmly said: ‘OK let’s start again. One…two…three.’

  And this time they both hit the door together. There was a crack, a creak and the door edged open. The rusty hinges sounded like they were about to fall off but they held firm and Benzo and Crock Pot looked at each other with wide smiles.

  ‘You’ve done it,’ said Blade. ‘Congratulations.’ Then turning to the other gadgets he added: ‘Everyone inside as soon as possible. It has been a long journey but we’ve finally made it. Now we can all have a good rest. Come on, into the Wendy House everyone. We’re home.’

  The huge garden shed was dirty with cobwebs in the corners, but at least it was dry and on two levels with a small stairway connecting them. And even better there was a butler-style sink and a cold water tap. To top it all there was even an electric light. As the gadgets all filed into their new home big Benzo, who was full of himself after helping open the door, flicked the light switch.

  ‘Douse that light immediately,’ shouted The General who had just arrived from scouting the back of the Wendy House with Warren. ‘By God boy, we could be under attack here. We don’t want to give away our position. What kind of a fool are you?’

  ‘The General’s right,’ said Blade. ‘We mustn’t draw any attention to us being here or that the place is occupied, at least for the time being. In fact Warren,’ he continued, turning to the warming tray. ‘You stand on Crock Pot and see if you can unscrew the light bulb and that way we won’t have any more problems. Everyone who has a power light please switch them on now and between us that should be enough light to see and make our way around,’

  All the gadgets did as they were told. Fiona’s power light was a lovely rose colour as befitted the gracious chocolate fondue fountain. Zalda on the other hand had a bright ice-white light shining like a diamond while Ricky the rice cooker’s light was a simple diffused green and Dr. Sympatico had three different coloured lights designed to denote whatever blend the coffee machine was making. Soon the whole of the interior of the Wendy House was twinkling like a fairy grotto.

  Sam the salad shooter sat propped up against one wall with his friends the sandwich maker Neville, and Eddie the electric wok who was still minus his bowl. But they didn’t have time to rest for long before Jane Dough approached them. ‘Well don’t we look a bunch,’ she said sarcastically. ‘Three of the youngest gadgets here and shirking on the job. Come on there’s lots of work to do before we can call this home. See that little brush over there,’ she pointed. ‘Well you can start by using that and sweeping the floor.’

  ‘But I am from Brazil,’ protested Neville and I may only be a humble sandwich maker but where I come from that is woman’s work.’

  ‘Yes and where I come from you’ll get a whack round your top lid if you don’t jump to it, now come on.’

  As the three pals reluctantly stirred themselves and got up Simon the sealer was laying down his vacuum bags for make-shift beds while Forque and Jenny the juice extractor were helping the bread-maker cook some food. Bl
ade, The General and Lee-Mailer had climbed the stairs to the upper part of the shed and were deep in conversation, while young Warren was ferreting around in the corners of the Wendy House to see what he could find. Marvin and Harry, who always took a pride in their appearance, were at the sink sprucing themselves up and dusting themselves down.

  It was Ricky the rice maker and his girlfriend Fiona who raised the alarm. Fiona had been concerned about how filthy the windows were at the front of the shed, one of which she noticed was even cracked, and decided they needed a good clean. But as soon as she approached the first window she stopped stock-still and with a tremble in her voice turned to Ricky, pointed, and said: ‘Look.’

  Ricky stared wide-eyed and gulped then turned and shouted up to the second level: ‘Blade, sir. Sir they’re coming.’

  ‘Who are coming Ricky?’

  ‘Sir, it’s Zack and his dad sir, they are on their way, they are coming sir, they are coming to the Wendy House.’

  There was complete pandemonium inside the garden shed. The gadgets all looked at each other in total horror as it dawned on each of them that they were trapped. The kettle and Sam the salad shooter made a beeline for the door before they were stopped by the rice maker who simply said: ‘Don’t be stupid there’s only one way in, you are running into their arms.’

  Then Eddie piped up: ‘This must be what we were warned about in the Magic Forest.

  ‘Yes,’ agreed Marvin the meat mincer. ‘I said at the time we shouldn’t have come to this Wendy House. Didn’t I Harry?’ he added turning to his friend. ‘Now what are we going to do? We were stupid not to heed those warnings.

  ‘You are right,’ agreed Harry. ‘As you know I was made in Guandong by the Dianden Corporation and in China we take omens of those sort very seriously.’

  ‘We should never have listened to Dr. Sympatico,’ added Carl The Mighty. ‘I remember distinctly hearing the word trouble. All our efforts are over, we are going to be taken back to the kitchen and then they are going to try and auction us off again. Everything we have done has been for nothing.’

  ‘Calm yourselves,’ interrupted Blade. ‘I’m surprised to hear words like that coming from such a great hero as you Carl The Mighty,’ he said to the little can and jar opener. ‘It is not over yet. Be positive. Now everyone move to the furthest and darkest corners of this hut and switch off your power lights. Stay calm, stay quiet and try to stay out of sight.’

  The gadgets had no alternative but to do as Blade said and so scurried into the corners of the shed. Blade, The General and Lee-Mailer jumped down from the upper floor to join them just as the shed door was pushed open and they heard Sebastian murmur to himself: ‘I must get the old lock fixed on this place, anyone could just wander in.’ He tried the light switch. That’s funny, he thought. The bulb must have gone. Oh well…

  Then turning to Zack, Sebastian said: ‘Son, it looks like there’s no light in here, which isn’t ideal or what I wanted, but at least you’ve got a torch.’

  ‘But dad it’s creepy,’ Zack replied switching on the flashlight. ‘I know, why don’t we go back to the house and do this another day?’ Suddenly Zack’s voice was less cocky and arrogant.

  The gadgets, who were watching from their hiding places, were willing Sebastian to agree and for the two humans to leave right then and there.

  ‘No Zack, this time I call the shots and you are staying here all night. It is no use you thinking you can sneak back into the house when I’m gone because all the doors will be locked and the alarm will be on. Woe betide you my boy if you even try that. You are to stay here in the Wendy House on your own for one entire night. Now is that understood?’

  ‘Yes dad. But….’

  ‘But nothing Zack. You have your sleeping bag, you have some water and if you run out there’s even a tap here. And you have a torch. I’ll be back in the morning. Now I hope this night is going to be a lesson to you Zack and I hope you will take time to think about why your behaviour has led you to being here. And, above all, I hope that by the morning you will have learned to mend your unruly ways. Sleep well son, and goodnight.’

  With that Sebastian turned and left the Wendy House, closing the door behind him. He was racked with guilt about leaving his young son all alone at night in a shed at the bottom of the garden, but he was determined it had to be done. Zack had become a monster, disobeying his parents at every turn, lying, cheating, blaming his brother and sister for all his mischief and swaggering around as if he could do exactly what he liked where and when he wanted to. He was self-centred and cared nothing for the feelings others. He was cruel, foul-tempered and completely out of control. A short sharp shock was what he needed and Sebastian was hoping that a night alone in the Wendy House would provide it.

  What Sebastian didn’t know however was that Zack was far from alone.

  But if the gadgets were scared of what might happen when Zack spotted them, Zack was even more scared. With no one to impress and no one to bully for once in his life Zack Abercrombie started to feel frightened. He longed to just run out of the door and back up to the house but knew that he stood no chance of getting in, and anyway it would expose him as a scaredy-cat and cry-baby. The humiliation would be awful. No, he would just have to make the best of things. He switched on his torch for comfort and thought he heard some vague noise. It could be rats, he thought to himself, his mouth suddenly going dry and sweat starting to appear on his brow.

  Like all bullies and show-offs Zack was really a coward at heart and couldn’t stand up to even the smallest of things. When he heard another slight sound his heart started to thunp furiously. He had never told his parents before that he was afraid of the dark even though he secretly slept with his bedside light on all night. Now all he had was his torch. He shone the beam quickly all around the shed but found nothing. Then it alighted on the stairs going up to the second level. Ah, a safe sleeping area, Zack thought, and slowly started to approach the steps.

  But before he got a couple of paces a small screen lit up in the darkness and on it were just two words: ‘Welcome Zack.’

  It frightened Zack out of his wits and he screamed as he bolted for the door. But he stumbled, tripped over something and went sprawling across the floor losing hold of the torch which rolled away and conked out. Now he really was in the dark with even the filthy windows of the Wendy House keeping out whatever tiny light there might have been on a moonless night. All he could see were the two words: ‘Welcome Zack’ staring at him. That’s when he started to cry.

  The words in the dark changed to: ‘Why are you crying Zack? That’s what you usually make other people do’.

  ‘Who’s there? asked Zack, stifling a sob, and picking himself up ‘I haven’t done anything, I haven’t done anything wrong.’

  ‘Oh yes you have,’ flashed the words on Lee Mailer’s screen. ‘You have done many things that are wrong.’

  The screen went blank and the Wendy House was once again plunged into darkness until the silence was pierced by a mighty scream from Zack. ‘Ouch,’ he cried, putting his right hand to his bottom. ‘Who did that?’ But Forque had already moved away into the darkness after inflicting her slight stab.

  Next up was Warren the warming tray. ‘What’s that boy doing,’ hissed The General. ‘He’s breaking ranks. Come back here boy, come back here at once’

  But Warren wasn’t listening. He went straight up to Zack and banged his tray right on the young boy’s head. ’That’s for nuffin’ as my ma used to say,’ shouted Warren. ‘And next time you do somefin’ you’ll get it double.’ But, of course, Zack couldn’t hear what Warren was saying because he wasn’t innocent or clever enough to talk to gadgets. But he felt the bang.

  ‘’Oh that hurt,’ said Zack rubbing his head. ‘I’m being attacked.’

  The word ‘Correct’ flashed up on Lee Mailer’s screen. ‘Now see how you like it.’

  After being stabbed on his bottom and hit on his head Zack slumped to the floor which is just what Simon t
he vacuum sealer had been waiting for. He rushed forward and ran round and round Zack tying him up with a long length of plastic bags. And when Zack’s arms were firmly held to his body so that he couldn’t move Simon sealed the end, totally restraining the youngster.

  ‘Aaargh,’ screamed Zack. ‘Please, please don’t kill me whoever you are. Let me go, let me go,’ he sobbed.

  ‘No one is going to kill you, don’t act like a baby,’ flashed up on the screen. ‘It’s time you had a taste of your own medicine so you know what a horrible monster of a boy you have become.’

  With that Zalda the Italian ice cream maker crept up to Zack and quietly slipped lots of ice cubes down the back of his shirt. He tried to jump and wriggle but it only made things worse. ‘Ow, no, ooh, that’s freezing.’ he cried out. The more Zack wriggled the colder it got as the ice cubes bounced over his back. He was desperate to get them out but his hands and arms were held firmly by the sealer’s bags.

  ‘Please, please stop,’ he yelled. ‘I’ll never do anything bad again, I promise.’

  ‘You’ve promised things like that before,’ it said on Lee Mailer’s screen. ‘Why should anyone believe you now?’

  ‘Because… because, um… I’ve changed, that’s it, yes I’ve changed,’ Zack replied unconvincingly.

  ‘I’m so glad he’s changed,’ mumbled Fiona the American fondue fountain sarcastically. ‘Maybe it’s time the boy had a treat.’ She approached Zack in the darkness and put some of her chocolate to his mouth. He tasted it and tried to gobble down as much as he could. He likes it, thought Fiona, I’ll give him some more. And so she started pouring more and more chocolate into Zack’s mouth until it began pouring out and down his chin and all over his jumper. Zack was gulping chocolate as fast as he could but it was flowing too fast and his whole face was getting messy. Then with a flourish Zalda tipped all her remaining runny chocolate over Zack’s head. Have the lot,’ she thought, before scurrying back into hiding.

  Bound by sealer bags, with ice cubes down his back and covered in chocolate it suddenly dawned on Zack that now there was no escape. He started crying again but this time they were real tears. He wasn’t crying for himself or turning on the taps to try and get out of trouble. This time Zack was crying because he finally realised that all the wrong things he had done in his life had caught up with him.

  ‘I’m sorry,’ he said in a half whisper.

  ‘What’s that, speak up, I can’t hear you,’ Lee Mailer flashed back on his screen.

  ‘I’m sorry,’ repeated Zack but only slightly louder.

  ‘You’re what?’ it said on the screen.

  ‘Sorry,’ shouted Zack. ‘Sorry…sorry…sorry.’ And then he broke down into deep deep sobs.

  The gadgets were all silent in the darkness as Zack, wracked with guilt about what a dreadful boy he had been, sobbed his heart out.

  It was motherly Jane Dough the bread maker who was the first to speak. ‘I think this has gone far enough,’ she said to Blade as she moved towards Zack offering him the comfort of her Nut and Raisin dispenser.

  When Zack was all cried out and started sniffling he looked towards Lee-Mailer’s screen and said quietly: ‘What’s going to happen to me now?’ The reply nearly made him jump out of his skin because the words didn’t appear on the screen they came from a voice behind him.

  ‘For a start we are going to clean you up,’ said Blade.

  Zack tried to turn round but couldn’t quite make it. ‘Who are you? he asked.

  ‘Ah it worked, you can hear me,’ replied Blade as he announced to the other gadgets: ‘I really do think Master Zack has been redeemed and changed his ways. Listen everybody he can hear us and he can talk to us. And only truly good, innocent and clever children can do that.’

  ‘I can talk to little Lucy,’ said Jenny the juice extractor.

  ‘So can I,’ piped up Sam the salad shooter. ‘I’ve been doing it for ages. But her mum won’t believe her and thinks Lucy just has imaginary friends.’

  All the gadgets started talking at once.

  ‘Be quiet,’ ordered Blade, ‘or you’ll frighten poor Zack to death’. The carving knife approached the bewildered little boy and started to cut through the vacuum sealer bags that held him bound while the gadgets began putting on their power lights turning the Wendy House into a little fairy grotto again

  ‘But, but.’ stammered Zack, ‘You are all the kitchen appliances that went missing in the burglary. I must be going mad.’

  ‘You are not going mad but it is a long story,’ began Dr. Sympatico the coffee machine while Jenny and Ricky the rice maker got water to help clean up Zack and get all the chocolate off him. ’But then we do have all night, so let me tell you what really happened…’

  Spanish Dr. Flavora Sympatico was a top-of-the-range FY7681q coffee machine and he also turned out to be a wonderful storyteller. Not only did Zack cling on to his every word as he detailed all the group’s adventures from breaking out of 36 Fairfield Avenue to eventually finding their way to the Wendy House but so did the other gadgets – and they had lived through the exploits!

  Jane Dough started to tremble and her lid started to shake when Dr. Sympatico told about the death of Deep Fat, and Zack, who at any other time would probably have given the bread maker a good kicking for being so emotional, went to her side as if to comfort her.

  Zack couldn’t believe what was happening to him and started shaking his head thinking it must be a dream and he would soon wake up from it. Then he began to realise it wasn’t a dream but it was certainly weird, and the weirdest thing was that he had somehow changed. He didn’t feel any urge to stomp on the gadgets or hurl them round the room. He didn’t want to have a screaming tantrum or even cry anymore. He just sat their quietly taking in everything Dr. Sympatico had said and then turned to Jane Dough and said: ‘How badly was the fat fryer, sorry Deep Fat I think you called him, how badly was it, um, he damaged?’ Zack still found it difficult thinking of kitchen appliances in terms of him or her.

  ‘Badly enough,’ replied Jane with a sigh.

  ‘How badly?’ insisted Zack.

  ‘Badly enough for us to bury him,’ interrupted Crock Pot. ‘Now let it be, can’t you see you’re upsetting Jane.’

  This is crazy, thought Zack. Kitchen gadgets can’t die. They can break down, get bashed around and stop working but they can’t die! But then again neither can they speak and yet I’m hearing them. What’s going on? I want to go home.

  But instead of racing for the door Zack calmly said: ‘Can anyone show me where you buried, er, um, Mr. Deep Fat?’

  ‘Why?’ said Crock Pot.

  ‘Because, well, maybe I can help him.’

  ‘He’s dead now leave it at that. Nobody’s gonna dig up old Deep Fat. Let’s talk about something else.’

  ‘Wait a minute, let the boy speak,’ jumped in The General. ‘What’s on your mind private, out with it.’

  ‘Well I’m quite good at mending things and making things. Even my dad says so.’

  ‘That’s for sure,’ muttered Blade remembering when his girlfriend Forque had been turned into a catapult.’

  ‘Well I thought if I had a look at Mr. Deep Fat maybe I could help re-assemble him.’

  ‘Re-assemble him, re-assemble him’ said Crock Pot exasperated. ‘He can’t be re-assembled young lad, he can’t be mended. He’s dead and that’s it.’

  Well that’s the last time I try and help, thought Zack almost reverting back to his old nasty snarling self. Load of old gadgets, wait till dad gets here in the morning. They’ll soon be back in the kitchen or boxed up for some auction site and it’s what they deserve. That stupid wok over there doesn’t even have a bowl, what use is a wok without a bowl? It’s just rubbish, that’s what it is. As Zack’s thoughts turned nastier and nastier the voices of the gadgets were getting quieter and quieter until he could hardly hear them at all.

  ‘Zack, Zack, can you hear me?’ shouted Blade into the young boy’s ear. ‘I think we are lo
sing him,’ said the carving knife to the rest of the gadgets. ‘Zack, Zack,’ he shouted again. ‘Jane says there’s no harm in you going to visit Deep Fat’s resting place. Zack, can you hear me?’

  *

 
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