Gadgets the great escape, p.6
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       Gadgets: The Great Escape, p.6

           David Hancock
 

  The five gadgets and two mobile phones in the cupboard under the stairs held their breath as Zack and Jake tip-toed by into the kitchen.

  ‘What are we going to do now?’ whispered Deep Fat.

  ‘Nothing, precisely nothing,’ said Blade. ‘We will just have to sit it out and wait until they’ve gone. The problem is it’s eating into our time. We must be out of the house before their parent’s get up in the morning. We can’t risk waiting another 24 hours in this cupboard.’ And he thought to himself,…because that’s 24 hours when I should be out there looking for Forque. ‘We’ll just wait and listen to what happens,’ he concluded.

  Zack dragged Jake into the kitchen: ‘Shhh be as quiet as you can.’

  Then he grabbed some sliced bread and moved towards the toaster instructing his brother: ‘Get some peanut butter and jam. Let’s have a party.’

  Zack tried putting the bread in the slots but couldn’t get any in, he fiddled with the timer, banged the plug, but nothing happened. He pulled the plug out of the socket. He looked in the toaster, and saw it was full of old burned toast. He went to snatch at the crumb tray but it was stuck. He held the toaster upside down and shook it; burned toast fell out everywhere. He hit the toaster on the side, shook it again and then in a typical Zack rage threw it on the floor. ‘This thing’s broken,’ he said to his brother.

  ‘It is now.’ said Jake, looking at the smashed toaster on the floor with its crumb tray spilled and it’s bottom panel broken off. ‘You told me to be quiet and now everyone will have heard this noise, let’s go.’

  The gadgets under the stairs heard it, the appliances in the kitchen heard it, Kettle heard it, but more importantly Mrs. Abercrombie heard it.

  ‘Seb, Seb,’ she said shaking her husband to wake him, ‘Did you hear that?’

  ‘Hear what?’

  A noise, a noise from downstairs.’

  ‘What kind of noise?’

  ‘A banging noise, I don’t know.’

  ‘Be quiet then and let’s listen,’ he urged still half-asleep.

  They held their breath and listened. Total silence. Zack and Jake were holding their breath as well just one floor below.

  .’Nothing,’ said Sebastian Abercrombie. ‘Nothing at all. Now go to sleep.’

  ‘But I tell you I heard something.’ And that’s when Seb turned over, put half a pillow over one ear and went back to sleep.

  The incident had been enough to frighten even Zack. He knew that if he had been caught once more he would really have been for it, so sullenly he led Jake back to their bedroom.

  Blade waited another ten minutes until he was sure things were back to normal in the household and then said: ‘OK I think we can start to move.’

  The General moved out first consulting the list of gadgets he had for his squad. Once in the kitchen he wanted to shout out their names and get them in line, but had already been warned by Blade to be as quiet as possible. He found Zalda The Ice Queen first, actually sitting inside her original box waiting to be wrapped. ‘Just in time.’ he thought as he helped lift Zalda out of the box and told her all about the escape plan. Zalda agreed to help The General look for the other kitchen appliances on his list and so the hunt was on. The vacuum food sealer was found next.

  Deep Fat and Jane were making equally good progress as they gathered up the Salad Shooter and a hardly-ever-used JEN 48w Professional Juice Extractor which had been made in Belgium. Jenny, as she was known to the other appliances, could extract juice from vegetables as well as fruit with a massive motor that spun at 16,500 rpm. With pulp ejection and a large feeding tube she was a mighty looking gadget.

  Meanwhile Blade had set Lee-Mailer a special task, to try and crack the code on the house alarm system and de-activate it. The keypad to the alarm was in the hall near the front door, but Lee-Mailer was more interested in the central unit which was on the wall in the kitchen. With the help of some of the other gadgets he managed to climb on top of a few boxes and reach the unit. And then like a doctor with a stethoscope he took out two small ear-bud headphones from his computer kit and started listening to the alarm’s central processor.

  Blade was lining up some of his squad. He scooped up the slow cooker, nicknamed Crock Pot to everyone in the kitchen, and the sad old thing beamed when he was told they were on their way out of the house. Crock Pot had been left unattended for so long during his life - just given some ingredients and told to get on with it for hour after hour – that any kindness towards him was a big bonus. He used to revel in his fancy name of Damini 670 but now he was just good old Crock Pot. Blade also found the sandwich maker lurking out of the way in the cupboard near the sink – well someone had to have the sandwich maker – and he also found the beautiful retro-style glass blender. The 12-speed Benzo could handle everything from mixing baby food to making smoothies. It could mix, grind and pulse. But had it been used recently? No. It was another sad, rejected gadget.

  ‘Six.,’ whispered Lee-Mailer to Blade indicating that he had cracked the first number of the alarm code. Blade nodded.

  The General was getting unusually flustered. He was missing both the electric warming tray and the meat mincer. He ordered the vacuum sealer to stay were it was while he took Zalda with him to find the missing appliances. ‘There’s also a hand electric mixer we have to find as well,’ he said. ‘They could be anywhere, look at all this packaging rubbish, they could be hidden underneath for all we know,.’ He started picking up boxes and searching through bubble wrap.

  Zalda took a different tack. ‘Hello Jane,’ she said to the bread-maker. ‘You haven’t seen the warming tray or the mincer have you?’

  ‘Hold on, I think the warming tray is in that cupboard under the fitted microwave oven. Have a look in there. By the way I’m in search of the electric rice maker. If you see it on your travels let me know.’

  ‘I will do,’ replied Zalda as she went to open the cupboard and retrieve the warming tray.

  Blade had found the automatic jar and can opener hidden in one of the corners of the worktop behind the bread bin. Now all he had to do was hunt down the electric wok.

  ‘Six again,’ said Lee-Mailer.

  The kitchen had been turned into a quiet but frenzied hive of activity with the three squads of appliances being lined up against one wall.

  Deep Fat noticed the smashed toaster on the floor and reported it to Blade. ‘Better leave it where it is,’ said the chief. ‘That must have been the sound we heard when Zack and his brother where in here. Let them get the blame. ‘By the way, you haven’t seen the electric wok have you?’

  Deep Fat shook his lid.

  Jane was getting just as befuddled as the rest. She had no problem at all in finding the Flavora Sympatico coffee machine on the worktop but she still couldn’t see the rice maker. That’s when Kettle whistled: ‘Jane, Jane, take me with you. I asked you earlier, come on take me with you. It’s obvious what you are up to, I told you I knew what you were doing, now come on please take me with you,’ I beg you.

  ‘We are just collecting up these things to clean them.’ said Jane desperately trying to keep up the pretence that nothing was going on. ‘You’re shining and bright, you don’t need cleaning and anyway you’re not on my list.’

  ‘Jane, please, please,’ the Kettle begged again…

  But Jane ignored him and moved off still looking for the electric rice maker.

  ‘What’s the third number?’ Blade asked Lee-Mailer. ‘Time is getting on, the sun will be up soon.’

  ‘It’s proving more difficult. The algorithm is getting more complicated, it’s going to take time, ’ was the reply. ‘I’m doing my best.’

  Jane was about to give up and said to Deep Fat dejectedly: ‘I’ve looked everywhere for the rice cooker and I can’t find it.’

  ‘Well look up then,’ he replied.

  Jane looked up at the shelf above the worktop and there was the rice cooker. She turned on Deep Fat. ’You mean you’ve known that all the time and you didn’
t tell me,’ she said with anger in her eyes.

  ‘Well you never asked me,’ replied Deep Fat.

  ‘Oh give me strength, you lump of lard… I don’t know what I see in you,’ she let slip.

  And a beaming smile came over Deep Fat’s face.

  Together they approached the kitchen steps and went up on to the worktop together. Jane stood on Deep Fat’s lid but she still couldn’t quite reach the electric rice maker. She stretched and stretched but it was no good, she was just centimetres too short.

  ‘Let me help,’ said Kettle.

  ‘We don’t need any help from you,’ replied Deep Fat. ‘We can do this on our own.’

  ‘No you can’t.’

  ‘Yes we can.’

  ‘No we can’t,’ said Jane with an air of finality. ‘All right Kettle give us hand. You climb up here.’

  Kettle climbed on to Deep Fat and then with help from Jane pushed his spout up to the top shelf and nudged the rice maker. He nudged it a bit more…and down it came. Jane caught it and lowered it to Deep Fat and on to the worktop surface.

  ‘Can I come with you now?’ pleaded Kettle again.

  Jane decided to come clean. ‘It’s not up to me. I’ll have to ask Blade.’

  Blade found the electric wok hidden in a cupboard behind lots of old unused crockery. It was a barely used classic Dalston DAL 2409 with a glass lid, handle and safety valve. It also had an adjustable thermostat and was dishwasher safe. Blade had never seen an appliance so happy to be discovered.

  ‘Who are you? he asked Blade.

  ‘Mmm..I’m a carving knife, I used to be on the worktop.’

  ‘Well am I glad to see you. I’ve been in there for years, ever since the family’s fad for stir-fry food, well, faded I suppose. There’s someone else in the next door cupboard as well. She has been my only friend although we’ve never seen each other. We worked out a code over the years just by tapping on the partition. Could you rescue her as well?’

  ‘Sure, I guess,’ said Blade. ‘Who is she?

  ‘She’s Fiona…Fiona the chocolate fondue fountain.’

  ‘Oh my God,’ said Blade. Fiona the chocolate fondue fountain was a mythical name among the kitchen appliances. Everyone had heard of her but no one had ever seen her. As far as most gadgets were concerned she had disappeared a long time ago and now she was the stuff of legends. But her notoriety and acclaimed beauty had lived on in the legend. She was equipped with eight beautifully designed different coloured forks, and two tiers of tower to dip in snacks from strawberries to marshmallows.

  Blade quickly retrieved the chocolate fountain from the next door cupboard and she just stood there staring at the electric wok for what seemed like ages.

  ‘Well I hate to break things up, but we have to get a move on,’ said Blade. ‘You Fiona can join Deep Fat and Jane’s squad. Wok, you come with me.’

  ‘But…but…’ Wok started to argue.

  ‘No buts, we don’t have time. Come on.’

  ‘Eight,’ said Lee-Mailer, signalling the third number of the alarm code. ‘Only one more to go.’

  Jane wasn’t happy. ‘I don’t know why that Fiona fondue woman has to come with us,’ she moaned to Deep Fat. ‘Why couldn’t she go with Blade and be with that Wok friend of hers.

  ‘But we should be honoured,’ replied Deep Fat. ‘She is a legend, a real kitchen legend.’

  ‘Maybe, said Jane with a scowl.’ But you keep your eyes off.’

  The General had found the Malaysian-made electric meat mincer already packed up and had to get Blade to help rip all the packaging off. He only had one more appliance to find and that was the hand electric mixer. He searched everywhere, every cupboard was opened and looked in. He was getting exasperated but being a General he refused to give up, and finally found it lying at the back of the cutlery drawer. His squad was complete.

  All three squads mustered beside the back wall of the kitchen next to the oak table and Blade took the roster. This is how they lined up.

  Deep Fat and Jane:

  Salad shooter

  Juice extractor

  Coffee machine

  Electric rice maker

  Chocolate fondue fountain

  The General:

  Food vacuum sealer

  Hand electric mixer

  Ice cream maker

  Warming tray

  Meat mincer

  Blade and Lee-Mailer:

  Sandwich maker

  Blender

  Slow cooker

  Jar & can opener

  Electric wok

  ‘OK,’ said Blade, ‘Good work. Now I want you to go to your exits. General you go to the conservatory door out into the garden and Deep Fat you and Jane take the kitchen door here. But don’t try and leave the house until you hear from me by text. So keep your Marty and Mary with you. There’s one other thing,’ added Blade, his voice lowering a little and full of hope. ‘I don’t suppose any of you saw Forque while you were rummaging through the doors and cupboards did you?’

  The gadgets all shook their lids or looked downwards.

  ‘OK thank you,’ said Blade dejectedly. Go to your exits and wait for instructions.’

  ‘Nearly there chief ’ said Lee-Mailer, his ear-buds pressed up against the alarm unit. Minutes started to tick by and there wasn’t long to go until the sunrise and the household would begin to stir. ‘Come on,’ said Blade, urging Lee-Mailer on underneath his breath. ‘Hurry.’

  Two more minutes passed and then Lee-Mailer announced: ‘Four.’

  ‘Right Lee-Mailer, tap them in,’ said Blade holding his breath.

  Lee-Mailer did as he was told….and a red LCD letter ‘d’ came up on the unit. The house’s alarm system had been deactivated. There was a collective sigh of relief.

  ‘Right Lee-Mailer let’s go,’ said Blade and they headed towards the front door.

  But as they were about to leave the kitchen Kettle piped up: ‘Jane, Jane, you promised,’ a desperate urgency in his voice. He looked towards Blade. ‘Sir, please, please take me with you. I won’t be any trouble I promise. Jane said she would ask you sir, please sir please….

  ‘Why should we take you Kettle? You and Toaster ran this worktop with scorn and disdain as if it was your kingdom. You despised the other kitchen appliances and made no attempt to hide your feelings. Now Toaster is lying smashed on the kitchen floor why do you expect us to try and save you? You deserve the same fate as your friend.’

  ‘You are right,’ said Kettle with a whistling sniffle. ‘I don’t deserve a chance, but please let me prove to you that I can earn it.’

  ‘Let him Blade,’ said Jane quietly, ‘let him come with us.’ And then she whispered: ‘Otherwise he is the only gadget left here who knows what went on.’

  Blade pondered for a moment, saw the truth in what Jane had said, and then announced: ‘OK Kettle you can come with us, but before you come down from that worktop I want you to open the kitchen window as wide as you can. Don’t worry it’s not alarmed. Now jump in line with my squad and woe betide any funny business.’

  When all the appliances were at their exits Lee-Mailer texted the words ‘Go now’ to Marty and Mary, and the escape was on.

  The actual escape from the house started off amazingly smoothly. All the door and window alarms were off and although the conservatory, kitchen and front doors were opened with a sense of trepidation and a holding of breath, everything was fine. The General lined up his squad behind him and as soon as he opened the conservatory door went down into a crouching position, signalling his men to do the same. He looked around the patio and saw nothing unusual, so signalled some his squad to move silently behind a massive terracotta pot that held a large yucca plant. The others he shooed around behind a wooden bench. He stayed where he was crouching until he was sure all his squad were out of sight.

  Deep Fat and Jane were not so dramatic. ‘You go first then,’ said Deep Fat to Jane, who just looked at him and shrugged. She stepped out on to the other side of the
patio, near steps going down to a terrace, looked left and right and then froze. To her left on the corner of the house was a security spotlight. One more move and it would automatically have lit up. She signalled for everyone to stay where they were and not move. Then grabbing Marty the mobile from Deep Fat she hurriedly sent a text to Lee-Mailer warning him of the security light.

  ‘Aware,’ came back the reply. ‘Don’t anyone move.’ A similar text was sent to Mary warning The General of another security light at his end of the house.

  Lee-Mailer and Blade had successfully got out of the front door and now all the appliances were outside. But none of them could move for fear of triggering the lighting system.

  ‘Don’t worry, all we have to do is wait,’ said Blade. ‘And we won’t have to wait long. As soon as the sun comes up the security lights will deactivate of their own accord. Thank God Jane spotted them in time.’

  And so there they were 22 kitchen gadgets and two mobile phones standing quietly waiting for the dawn.

  *

 
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