Pigeon book

Since reading ‘The Odyssey’, Les the pigeon had found that other pigeons had started treating him differently. He had originally hoped that it might offer him something of a conversational wildcard, but unfortunately it had transpired that attempting to integrate it into conversation only served to highlight the fact that very few pigeons had ever bothered to read a book. “It’s an ancient classic!” Les would protest. “Fundamental to the modern Western canon!”

“Shut up Les.” Said the other pigeons.

Les had remarkably once met another pigeon who had read The Odyssey, but it proved to be a fruitless encounter. “You’ve read the Odyssey too?!” Cooed Les, excitedly. “What did you think?”

“It was boring and implausable.” Said the other pigeon. “Nobody could shoot an arrow through a dozen axe heads, that’s ridiculous. I never want to read it again.”

Les had attempted to engage in further debate on the book with this pigeon, keen not to waste this chance meeting with a fellow scholar, but the pigeon had refused. “What did you think of the portrayal of the relationship between gods and men in the book?” He asked, desperately.

“I don’t care.” The pigeon had said, before getting back to wandering about in a state of pigeon known as ‘mildly inflated pigeon’.

Les sometimes wondered why he’d bothered ever reading The Odyssey. It was a warm summer’s day when he’d found it, abandoned on the grass in a park near Charing Cross station. Having some time on his hands, he’d stood and read it in its entirety, as baffled commuters walked past, intrigued to see a pigeon turning the pages of a book, but too busy to stop and find out why. He’d found the whole thing fascinating, the kind of book that had inspired him to want to read more, but as of yet, he hadn’t had chance. There had been times when he’d attempted to sneak up on an individual as they were sat on a bench, but they would invariably shoo him away once he was stopped, or else leave well before the book had finished. There had been no such repeats of the abandoned book incident. It was a rarity on the streets, a once in a lifetime opportunity, Les had resigned himself to this. He was at least thankful that the book he got to read was such a timeless classic, and not something like an unauthorised biography of Donald Trump.

Les was nibbling away at a slice of bread one day (he’d been nibbling away at this slice for over two hours now, and had seemingly not taken a single bite), when he was startled by a child running towards him at pace. Les, like all pigeons, hated it when children ran towards him. Not because he was afraid that they might hurt him, but because like the vast majority of creatures on the planet, Les found children intensely annoying. Without looking, he took off and flew away. He was however, startled to see that his surroundings were not the usual blues or greys he’d come to expect of the world. These surroundings were more of a pale green kind of colour. The world suddenly had boundaries, cluster, more wood. Les continued to flutter about, ignoring the sounds of people calling out below him. He took a perch on a shelf nearby. “Where am I?” He wondered. This wasn’t the world he’d come to know.

“Psst!” Said a voice, nearby. Les turned around, and saw another pigeon, sat in a tiny cavern. “This way!”

Les flew down and followed the pigeon. Together they slowly padded away into a silent area of this new world. “Who are you?” Asked Les.

“I’m Karen.” Said the pigeon, quietly. “And keep your voice down. We’ve got to be quiet.”

“Where are we?” Asked Les.

“It’s a library.” Said Karen.

“What’s a library?” Asked Les, unaware of the term, since it had not cropped up in The Odyssey.

“It’s a place full of books.” Said Karen.

“Do they have a book called The Iliad?” Asked Les, hopefully.

“It’s my favourite book. Let me show you where it is.” Replied Karen, smiling as much as it was possible for a pigeon to smile. And so it was that Les and Karen fluttered off to the mythology section, as happy as two pigeons could ever be.

Train nightmares

Thomas awoke with a jump. “Where am I?” He said, as he looked around at his surroundings. He was in a bed, in a cream coloured room, of which the walls seemed to be sparsely populated with posters.

“Thomas! Breakfast!” Called a voice. Thomas had no idea who it was, and he was slightly nervous about finding out. He threw the duvet off of his body, took a second to examine his feet, and then left the room (though not before taking a moment to question who this Ricky Martin was, and why there’d be a poster of him on the wall).

Thomas found himself standing on a landing. He was evidently in somebody’s house, but had no idea how he’d got here, or who they were. He slowly made his way down the stairs, and into the kitchen. Standing by the oven was a woman, with long blonde hair, wearing an apron that seemed to say ‘Compliments to the chef!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! P.S. I am the chef, and as such, this is simply an ironic statement to imply that the wearer has done superb work and should be praised, regardless of the actual quality of their product (i.e. whether they’ve perhaps burned this particular dish, or maybe added a little too much salt, something like that). Anyway, compliments would be greatly appreciated, since more than likely you’re in my house, and in that instance it’s only polite to say thankyou’. It was a very long apron.

“There you are! Have a seat.” Said the woman, as she gestured with a frying pan towards an empty chair at the table. At the other side of the table there also seemed to be a man reading a newspaper, though as he was reading it in the classic 1970s style, it was currently obstructing his entire face, making it impossible to tell.

“Who are you? Where am I?” Asked Thomas, baffled, as he took his seat.

“Oh Thomas, you are silly!” Laughed the woman. “I’m your mother.”

“But… I don’t have a mother.” Said Thomas.

“Don’t be ridiculous Thomas. Now come on, I’ve made you some pancakes, your favourite.”

The woman placed another pancake onto a stack on the sideboard, then moved this to the table.

“Pancakes? What are pancakes?”

“Thomas, please, we don’t have time for this, you’ll be late for school. Eat up.”

“I don’t know how! I don’t usually have pancakes… I usually have…” Thomas thought for a moment, trying to remember. “… coal.”

“Coal? What do you think you are, some kind of tank engine?” Snapped the woman. She realised she’d said too much, as she instantly went white. Suddenly, the newspaper snapped down, to reveal a man, who looked both shocked and annoyed. It was the Fat Controller.

“Damnit Margaret!” He said.

“I didn’t mean to Fat!” Said the woman.

“Fat? Your actual name is Fat?” Said Thomas, still confused.

“That’s not important! Eat your pancakes!”

“I don’t want to!”

“Eat them!”

“I want to eat coal!”

“EAT THE PANCAKES!”

“NEVER!” Screamed Thomas, as he picked up a mug of coffee and threw it across the kitchen. It hit Fat’s hat, which burst into flames. Fat looked furious.

“Prepare to die Thomas!” He shouted, as he went to a sideboard and withdrew a shotgun.

“You’re not my real father!” Said Thomas, leaping to one side as a shotgun blast vaporising the chair he had been sitting in. Fat began to reload.

“You should have eaten those pancakes when you had the chance!” He said, as he loaded more cartridges into the barrel and approached the counter behind which Thomas was now crouched. He rounded the corner, but was surprised to find that Thomas was not there. Suddenly, he felt a crushing blow to his head, as Thomas slammed a toaster so hard down on it that his head reshaped into a square. Thomas turned the toaster on, incinerating Fat’s head in an instant. He slumped to the floor, dead.

Thomas, now exhausted, looked across at the woman known as Margaret. She calmly looked at him and sighed. “Ok, I guess coal it is then…” She said. “…in your dreams!” Margaret picked up a lump of coal from the sideboard and threw it at Thomas, it struck him powerfully on the side of the head.

Thomas awoke with a scream. “Thomas! Thomas are you ok?” Said a voice. Thomas looked to his right to see the Fat Controller staring at him, clearly concerned.

“I’m fine, I’m fine…” Said Thomas. He looked down at his body to see that thankfully he had now regained his locomotive torso. “Just a bad dream, that’s all.”

“Well, it’s all ok now.” Said the Fat Controller. “I made you breakfast.”

“What did you make?”

“Your favourite, coal in maple syrup!” Smiled the Fat Controller.

“Oh, you!” Chuckled Thomas. He and the Fat Controller laughed for a good 45 minutes as jaunty music played. It was good to be a train again.

Space funk

Parker Sandstone picked up the rock and examined it. He had literally no idea what it was, but it was shiny, so must have been precious. His sense of awe and wonder was suddenly interrupted by the harsh tone of radio static. “PARKER! What have you found?” Said the voice.

“I don’t know, but it’s kind of shiny. Can you guys see it there? Is it worth anything?”

“No… damnit Parker! Keep looking…”

This was Parker’s third month on Neptune, and still he’d found nothing of any use. In reality, this was what could be expected of somebody who wasn’t a trained astronaut. No, Parker had literally no astronautical experience at all. By trade, he was a musician, a pioneer who had started a unique new genre of music which he had called ‘Funk Keats’, a genre that simply consisting of reciting the poetry of John Keats over instrumental funk beats. Whilst Parker saw himself as a visionary, others viewed him as an idiot, whose lack of scientific knowledge had proven to be nothing but a burden to this mission, wasting valuable time and money.

So how was it that Parker had found himself in space in the first place? Unfortunately, in aiming to bring fresh interest and excitement to the space missions of the 21st century, a PR campaign had badly backfired. Offering the opportunity for one randomly selected individual to go into space, NASA had set about crafting a wheel that consisted of the names of each of the nearly seven billion individuals living on Planet Earth. This in itself was a monumental task that nobody had really stopped to consider prior to its launch. For it to have taken just two and a half years to complete this was nothing short of remarkable, especially considering that each of the names was individually stencilled on in watercolours (another pointless suggestion of the PR agency, who had since been fired). Having finally completed their seven billion name wheel, the spinning was to go out live on TV. This finally achieved the desired effect, with unprecedented audiences tuning in to watch the event, hoping to be the one chosen to go into space.

Alas, this positivity could not last. When the first spin of the wheel landed on Buzz Aldrin, there was much surprise. Attempting to quell a riot and accusations of a fix, NASA simply laughed it off and insisted that was simply a test spin. When the next four spins all came up Buzz Aldrin too (defying odds of 2.4 trillion to one), his name was scrubbed off the wheel, and it was spun again. It was then, that Parker’s name came up.

“Guys! I think I’ve found something!” Shouted Parker, excitedly.

“Show us Parker, can you point your camera at it?” Replied the voice from Earth. Parker looked at it. It looked like a book, covered in dust. “Where did you find that?” Gasped the voice, as in Houston people excitedly gathered around their monitors, in awe.

“It was just down here on the floor.” Said Parker, nonchalantly.

“My god… Parker, do you have any idea how significant a discovery this could be? What is this book? Brush the dust off.”

Peter took his archaeology brush out of his pocket, and carefully began to brush away at the dust. A hushed silence waited as he did. They saw a letter. A ‘K’. A human K! What were the odds? Then, an ‘E’. They were even speaking the same language! This was beyond scientific comprehension. An A, then a T, then an… S. An S? But that spelled…

“Oh my god, it’s…”

The audience in Houston watched in horror as Parker opened the book and a funk music soundtrack kicked in.

“MY HEART ACHES AND A DROWSY NUMBNESS PAINS, MY SENSE AS THOUGH OF HELMOCK I HAD DRUNK!” Sang Parker, tunelessly, as back in Houston 50 people sighed and put their heads in their hands. Next time they’d go with Buzz Aldrin.

New toy

1: Ok, come on, we’re so close, I can feel it!

2: Mr Radish Trousers?

3. Miss Parsnip Shoulders?

1: No, god! We’re going backwards now! Jesus, it’s all been downhill since Sally Broccoli Thighs. We need a character, and none of these are appealing to the right market!

2: If I could just come back to Mr Rhubarb Crot-

1: For the love of god, NO! If anything deserves a veto, it’s Mr Rhubarb Crotch! Come on, we can do this! What would appeal to children. Ok, let’s start with the vegetable…

3: Perhaps that’s the point. We’re starting with a vegetable. Children hate vegetables.

1: THEY’LL LIKE THE RIGHT VEGETABLE KENNY! Now come on, I need solutions, not more problems! Vegetables, go!

2: Cabbage.

1: Hmm… no…

3: Cauliflower.

1: Too feminine, we need to appeal to boys and girls.

4: Carrot.

1: Maybe… it’s kind of…

2: Potato!

1: YES, THAT’S IT! POTATO! NOW WE’RE FLYING! Ok, ok, so we’ve got potato, that’s done. Now what part of their body is made of potato?

3: I’m still not really sure I understand this. Why does any part of their body need to be made of potato? Why can’t they just really enjoy potatoes?

1: You think that’s something that’s going to sell? Damnit Kenny, how are we meant to market that? ‘Mr Person who likes potatoes more than most’? It’s dead in the water Kenny!

2: I remember when we used to make action figures.

1: WE ARE MAKING AN ACTION FIGURE! HE JUST HAPPENS TO ALSO BE MADE OF POTATO SOMEHOW!

4: So who’s his nemesis? Dr Mandolin?

1: He doesn’t have a nemesis! Everybody likes him!

2: Why does everybody like him?

1: I DON’T KNOW, BECAUSE HE’S MADE OF BLOODY POTATO! WE CAN DEAL WITH THAT LATER! COME ON, BODY PARTS!

4: Fingers?

1: No!

3: Knees?

1: Mr Potato Knees?! I NEED BETTER BRIAN!

2: Mr Potato…

1: … Yes?

2: Mr Potato…

1: Come on Steve…

2: … Crotch?

1: DAMNIT STEVE! Ok, put another pot of coffee on, it’s going to be a long night.

Love poetry

“Hey, how are things?”

“Good, you know, working hard.”

“Working hard? Or hardly working!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EXCLAMATION MARK!”

“Working hard. I just said.”

“Oh, sorry. How are things going with Sarah?”

“Still nothing. I wrote her a poem though.”

“Oh really, you think she’d like that?”

“I think so. Let me read it to you. [Clears throat]. Sarah, for you, my earth, wind, fire, water and heart have come togeth-”

“Can I stop you there?”

“What is it?”

“It’s a bit Captain Planety.”

“What do you mean?”

“Christ, is that not deliberate? Sorry, I didn’t realise. Please, carry on.”

“Ok, where was I? Ah yes, for you, my earth, wind, fire, water and heart have come together. Sarah, you are my hero, and together we shall bring the pollution of our untogetherness down to zero.”

“Ok, stop.”

“What this time?”

“Putting aside for a moment the word ‘untogetherness’, I’m sorry, but this is just the Captain Planet theme tune. She’s not going to like it.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. What even is Captain Planet?”

“Are you genuinely telling me you’ve never even seen Captain Planet?”

“No. Is he some kind of fisherman?”

“My god, this is insane. Ok, look, maybe we can edit this later. What else have you got?”

“Sarah, together we shall help put asunder, bad guys who like to loot and plunder.”

“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!”

“What?!”

“THAT’S THE EXACT LYRIC! WHY WOULD YOU EVEN SAY THAT IN A POEM?!”

“It means that together we can make the world a better place!”

“Well say that then! You’re literally just stealing the Captain Planet theme tune!”

“I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT CAPTAIN PLANET IS!”

“WHY ARE YOU LYING?!”

“I’M NOT LYING! MAYBE IT’S JUST COINCIDENCE, OK? THESE ARE FAIRLY COMMON WORDS.”

“YOU JUST SAID YOU’D PUT ASUNDER BAD GUYS WHO LIKE TO LOOT AND PLUNDER! WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!”

“I JUST SAID WHAT IT MEANS!”

“Ok, for goodness sake. This isn’t good, but maybe we can fix it. Is that it?”

“Nearly.”

“Well what else do you have?”

“I’m not sure I should tell you.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’ll just say I’ve stolen it from Captain Planet!”

“Well not if you haven’t!”

“I haven’t! I promise! I wish I knew what it was, because it’s clearly very romantic, but I don’t!”

“Ok, ok, sorry. Look, what else do you say?”

“Sarah, my darling, I love you. You are more beautiful than roses, open brackets, both the chocolate and the flower, close brackets, more delicious than Quality Street, in brackets, the chocolate, I don’t think there is a flower, and more stunning than watching the sunset at close range. My heart longs to be with you forever. Without you I can not go on. Let us grow old together.”

“Is that what it really says?”

“…Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“…Yes.”

“What does it really say?”

“I’m a planeteer. You can be one too. ‘Cause saving our planet is the thing to do.”

“Ok, I’m leaving.”

Mouse Trap

Steve looked at Sally. Sally looked at Steve. They had now been playing Mouse Trap for more than 15 hours. Still, somehow, the game went on.

“Do you want to just call it a day there?” Sighed Steve. Sally shrugged her shoulders. When Steve had first asked, a mere 14 hours ago when the first signs of boredom began to emerge, she had simply chuckled to herself, and teased him about his fear of losing. How long ago that seemed now. How young they were back then. Now, Sally felt that the game had gone on for such a long time that it would be completely wasted were they not to at least get a winner out of this.

“Let’s keep playing.” She said. Steve nodded remorsefully, as his soul began to dance (well, more of a whimpering shuffle) to the internal disco of Gary Jules’ Mad World. Steve rolled the dice.

“Five.” Said Steve, Once again, this failed to land him on the ‘cheese’ square that could mercifully end the game. Steve stifled a sob into his sleeve. The odds of them having missed that elusive square were by this point roughly 15 billion to one, a fact that Steve had calculated somewhere during hour 13. There had been no shortage of them operating the mouse trap itself (which was itself fully constructed somewhere around the 1 hour 17 minute mark), however without somebody on the cheese square, they’d simply been sitting and watching a cage fall down onto nothingness. Steve passed the dice to Sally, hoping and praying that she would throw the four that she needed to bring this nightmare to an end.

“Three.” Said Sally, as the dice once again conspired against them. Somewhere, thought Steve, a pop-up pirate was laughing at them.

“Sally, I’m just going to throw this out there now, but what if we just called it a draw?”

Sally contemplated that prospect for a minute. It was very tempting. She had already missed several key life events due to this game, including a job interview, the opportunity to meet Donny Osmond in the cheese aisle of Tesco (where she spent most of her Wednesdays), and over 60% of her own birthday. Perhaps this game had gone on for long enough, and yet something, somewhere, drove her to keep playing.

“Ok, look, we’ll give it two more rolls, and just see what happens.” She said. Steve nodded, as he picked up the dice for what he hoped would be the last time. Whispering a prayer to ‘Diceo’, the norse god of 1960s board games, Steve shook the dice, and threw all his strength and effort into one final roll.

“Two.” Said Steve excitedly, as he moved his mouse onto the cheese square

“Ok, ready?” Said Sally. She picked up the dice, took a deep breath, and rolled. “Six!” She screamed, as she excitedly moved her piece round to the ‘turn crank’ space. “Well, I guess this is it then.” She said, as she smiled at Steve. “Finally.”

Steve smiled back, excited that the game was finally drawing to a close now. Sally raised her hand, now blistered from such a prolonged period of rolling dice and moving mice, and began to crank the wheel. They both watched, jubliantly, as the crank turn triggered the boot, which kicked the bucket, which sent the marble on its way, which knocked the pole, which sent the ball though the bathtub, which hit the seesaw, which triggered the diver. Which triggered the diver. Which triggered the diver, they thought, as they watched in agony as the diver careered off to one side, completely in the wrong direction, which failed to trigger the cage. Steve and Sally sat silently watching, as fate once again vanquished their dreams. The silence lasted for more than 6 minutes, which, in the grand scheme of the game so far, was nothing. It was Steve that finally broke it.

“What now?” Sighed Steve.

“We play on…” Said Sally, as she handed the dice to Steve, and the game entered its 16th hour. Neither Steve nor Sally can remember who eventually won the game, all they know is that they would never play Mouse Trap again.

We Bought a Zoo 2: We Bought Another Zoo

SFX: SOUND OF FRONT DOOR CLOSING.

“Hi honey.”

“Hey, how was your day?”

“Oh, you know, same old, same old. You?”

“Nothing much. Hey, what’s that hanging out of your pocket?”

“This? Oh, err… it’s nothing.”

“Is that… straw?”

“Why would I have straw in my pocket?”

“I don’t kno- oh god, no. Tell me you didn’t!”

“Look, I can expla-”

“WHAT DID YOU DO?!”

“I BOUGHT ANOTHER ZOO DAMNIT!”

“Jesus Christ! The first time took enough liberties, but ANOTHER zoo?! What the hell were you thinking?!”

“Well, I was on my way to the shops-”

“FOR SOME WASHING POWDER!”

“For some washing powder, yes, let me finish. Anyway, I was on my way to the shops when what should I walk past but a house full of animals, or a ‘zoo’ if you will. Well, they said they’d probably have to close it down, so I… you know… bought it.”

“WE ALREADY HAVE A ZOO! WHO NEEDS TWO ZOOS?!”

“I thought maybe it would be good to have a back up.”

“Do you have any idea how many zoos most people have?”

“Ooh, that’s a good question, give me a seco-”

“NO ZOOS! That’s how many zoos the average person owns! How the hell are we going to explain this to our accountant?”

“We’ll just be honest with him, say ‘look, Benny, we’ve got some news: We bought a zoo 2, colon, we bought another zoo’.”

“This is ridiculous. What did I say to you on your way out?”

“I don’t really rememb-”

“I said ‘don’t you buy another zoo!’”

“I do remember that actually, oh, how we chuckled at the time.”

“I’m not chuckling now Benjamin. You need to sort this.”

“Ok, look, I’ll see if I can return it. Tell them we don’t want the zoo.”

“Good. Thankyou.”

“I’ll be back in an hour.”

“Ok, see you then, and Benjamin…”

“Yes?”

“Don’t you go buying a prison!”

“Oh, yes, about that…”

“YOU BOUGHT A PRISON?!”

“Make it two hours.”