Dead Ringer

Date: Today of course
The Smelly-Wellie-Tele-Graph

This short story was written as a piece of homework for the Fantastic Fiction module of a post graduate course in Writing for Children at Winchester University, 2007-08.

Dead Ringer

The toddler took a long suck on his dummy.

"Thlooook. You need to find the ring," he said. "Only you can defeat this putrid evil and save the world from the clutches of darkness."

Thorax nodded. "You have great wisdom, young master," he said.

"It runs in the family," the baby-sage replied, indicating a leather-bound, brightly-illustrated picture book at the bottom of his cot. Thorax flicked through portraits of the most celebrated sages in the land.

The child raised his arms. "Up."

Thorax carried him to the toy box, smiling as the tiny fingers probed his nostrils. The box opened with a big red plastic key.

"These weapons will aid you in your quest," said the boy. He gave Thorax a book, and a stick on the end of which was a hollow green and yellow ball filled with dust or sand.

"In times of danger, especially in enclosed spaces, shake the noise-maker vigorously. In a short time it will cause madness in all who hear it, except for yourself and your companions."

"And the book?" Thorax queried. He had already seen that the pages were blank. Perhaps in time of need some words of guidance would reveal themselves.

The young master opened the book and with a swift movement ripped out

one blank page. Holding up his index finger he displayed the bogie he had taken from Thorax’s right nostril. He stuck it to the page then with seven deft movements folded the paper into a wondrous flying thing. As he launched the dart into the air, the window of the cottage opened, and out it flew. Long moments passed before the very walls and foundations shook at the force of the distant blast.

Thorax nodded. He understood.

"Let the quest begin."

Thorax opened the door of the cottage and stepped outside. The sun was shining, a good omen. He walked down the path and, pausing at the gate, turned to wave farewell. Then he set his face to the east and strode out, but with his first step he felt something small and hard under the sole of his boot.

Stepping back and bending towards the ground he could not believe his good fortune. It was a ring.

"That was quick," he thought.

"Found it!" he cried.

The whistling of an arrow came to his ears a fraction of a moment before the head of an arrow pierced his throat. With a gurgling sound in his lungs and a look of puzzlement on his face, he pitched forward and died.

And the forces of evil triumphed for all time throughout the land.