Tag Archives: children’s story

Return To Brude

I have an extract from children’s book Return to Brude by G A Taylor – let us know what you think.

A streak of black fur shot over the hill, her paws skimmed the lane, her green eyes keened ahead. No need to turn; she heard him panting too closely at her heels. Ten whisker-widths behind her, his ears flapping, his head bobbing, was Dylan the terrier.

This was Cantrip’s daily burden – to be hounded – to follow the girl out of the cottage and get no further than the edge of the village before the yapping and the chase began.

Where the lane dipped, Cantrip sprang to clear the garden wall with elegant precision, land between blossoming rosebushes, and weave towards the white cottage inhaling scented triumph.

Dylan skidded to a halt inches from the wall and seconds from flattening his snout. He snorted, shook his head and trotted on to the wicket gate, where he watched her black tail lick the corner of the cottage for the last time. He barked as if to say, ‘Catch you tomorrow,’ then u-turned and headed home.

Cantrip slipped through the back door flap, and stood for a few seconds to cool her paws on the stone tiles before leaping onto the rickety stool by the kitchen table. She bent her head to breakfast, but a jarring prickle shot from tail-tip to whiskers, making them quiver. She froze and listened – but sensing no one in the house, dismissed the feeling and ate her bacon and black pudding.

The cottage stood fixed in the morning sunlight as Dylan toddled back over the hill, but by the time he was over the brow, its white walls had begun to shimmer and ripple as if distorted like a heat haze mirage, and seconds later – it shivered into nothingness.

No particle of the property remained; it vanished along with each villager’s memory of it. Even Mr Morton, who trekked by an hour later on one of his twice-daily walks to the woods with Dylan, did not notice the cottage was missing. Dylan may have suspected something though, for he gave a curious sniff at the spot where he usually peed on the garden wall, but even that was gone.

Only its residents would remember the cottage beyond the village. Two of them stood shaded at the edge of the woods watching Mr Morton heading home with Dylan.

Maggie McNiven frowned at the weedy stretch of land where their home had been, and Peg McNiven saw, through teary eyes, the patch where her herbs had flourished.

A glance at her younger sister deepened Maggie’s scowl. ‘Oh don’t you start.’ Her hooded eyes swept the area. ‘Is she still in the village?’

‘Probably,’ said Peg, half-distracted by blowing her nose.

‘Probably, what good is probably?’ said Maggie, turning a redder shade of livid.

‘Ach, cool yer heels, she’ll be at the pond,’ said Peg. ‘You know what she’s like near water, the ducks think she’s a long lost relative, but my herbs, Megs, and my books… all my lovely books.’

‘Never mind your ruddy herbs and books. They can be replaced, she can’t.’ Maggie gripped her long black skirt and charged across the grass muttering, ‘Fine guardians we are.’

‘But Megs,’ called Peg, ‘where are we going?’

Maggie wheeled round. ‘Where do you think? To the only place we can go, so hurry up.’

Peg’s eyes narrowed. ‘Is that wise, Megs?’

Maggie spread her palms. ‘Do we have a choice?’ And before she turned again towards the village, said, ‘And don’t call me Megs.’

‘Sorry, your humphiness,’ said Peg, trudging after her sister.

Now tethered to the newsagent’s pavement-sign in the village, Dylan pawed to catch a discarded baker’s bag, taunted by its meaty aroma, but it stayed beyond his reach. He strained at his leash until a breeze sent the bag tumbling into the gutter. Then another smell caught his attention and set his tail wagging, as a pair of trainers stopped beside him and their wearer bent to tickle him behind one ear.

‘Hello Dyl, chased any black cats today?’ asked an amused voice.

Dylan snuffled Annie McBride’s hand; it smelled of bread, grass – and bacon. He looked up at her expectantly.

‘Sorry Dyl, I’ve no treats left,’ she patted her pockets, ‘the ducks cleaned me out.’

As she straightened up, Annie saw Aunt Maggie storming down the hill towards her with Aunt Peg puffing along behind. Knowing that thunderous stride, Annie considered ducking into the shop, but since eagle-eyed Aunt Maggie had probably spotted her already, Annie tossed her thick plait over her shoulder and stood firm. Dylan whipped behind the newsagent’s sign as the wiry, dark-haired force of nature that was Maggie McNiven, closed in.

Annie reflected on the morning’s events, but nothing she thought of deserved the apparent oncoming wrath. ‘Which one of us is for it, do you think?’ she asked Dylan, her bright-blue eyes glinting. Dylan said nothing.

When within reach, Maggie grabbed her niece’s shoulders and pulled her so sharply into a hug that it made Annie gasp.

‘Are you alright child?’ said Maggie, as she thrust Annie out to arm’s-length.

Aunt Maggie never called her by name; it was always child or girl or lassie – anything but Annie.

‘I’m fine, why wouldn’t I be?’ She’s been at her bluebell brandy, thought Annie.

Peg caught up and folded at the waist to clutch her knees, completely winded.

Annie grinned. ‘What’s the matter with you two?’

Maggie released Annie’s shoulders. ‘Nothing, we… had a feeling that something had happened to you, that’s all.’

‘No, you,’ Peg wheezed, ‘had a feeling, phew!’

Annie raised an eyebrow. ‘Don’t be daft. This is Glendowf, for goodness’ sake, it’s not like there’re murderers and kidnappers lurking around every corner. Honestly you two. This village is so sleepy it could do with a coffee injection and a kick up the –’

‘– are you quite finished?’ said Maggie, her expression pinched. ‘We are just protecting you – we’ve done it quite well for the past eleven years – we are not being daft.’

Peg objected. ‘I wasn’t worried. I know you can take care of yourself, kiddo. Now,’ she said to Maggie, breathing deeply, ‘can we please walk to the station? I don’t think my heart can take any more jogging.’

‘Well you’re not exactly built for it, are you?’ Maggie cast a jaundiced eye over her substantial sister.

Peg’s eyes narrowed. ‘Oh get stuffed, ya skinny freak of nature.’

Annie chocked back a laugh and said, ‘Why are you going to the station?’

‘We are going to the station,’ said Maggie, circling her finger to signify all three of them, ‘because we need to catch a train. And, no,’ she shot Peg a black look, ‘there’s no need to exert yourself, the next train doesn’t leave for half an hour. Let’s go,’ she said, and marched off towards the other end of the village.

That Aunt Maggie knew Glendowf had a train station was not such a shock to Annie as the thought of them actually going somewhere – anywhere. Annie doubted her aunts knew the rest of the world existed; they lived like hermits.

Peg nudged her niece. ‘Come on then.’

Shaking her head, Annie joined Peg to follow Maggie down the street.

‘Where are we going?’ Annie asked Peg.

Peg snorted. ‘More than my life’s worth to tell you that one.’

‘We’re going to visit a relative on a matter of urgency,’ Maggie called over her shoulder.

‘Hang on – where did we get relatives from, all of a sudden?’ said Annie.

Maggie halted, turned a stoic face to her niece, drew breath and said, ‘Just because we never mentioned any relatives, doesn’t mean we don’t have any.’

Annie’s eyes narrowed. ‘You said we didn’t have any.’

‘Well I…’ Maggie tutted and waved dismissively, ‘I lied. You shouldn’t believe everything you hear anyway. Now could we please go?’

Annie clenched her teeth and grunted, ‘Urgh – that woman. You know, it’s true what they say, Aunt Peg, you can choose your friends –’

‘– but you can’t whack your Aunt Maggie on the head with a shovel and then use it to bury her – yes, I know,’ said Peg, linking arms with Annie. ‘Come on kiddo, let’s go.’

A small black nose sniffed the air from behind the newsagent’s sign, and content that the danger had passed, Dylan padded back round, lay like the Sphinx and watched wistfully as the baker’s bag danced up the street.

 

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Winter Minimus and the Crystal of Gertabor

Here’s another exclusive extract from the Winter Minimus children’s series brought to us by Robert Dozari, this time from Winter Minimus and the Crystal of Gertabor

Silky’s bedroom was so large that one could not even see the walls.

― My father banned all the walls in Mermaiddom since the day he bumped himself into that of the bathroom, she said.

This however, had not prevented Silky to collect all kinds of pieces of furniture. Her bedroom was bursting with tens and tens (once again Winter didn’t know how to count to one hundred) of cupboards and wardrobes of all shapes, colours and sizes. These pieces of furniture were full of dresses custom-made for a girl with a fin instead of legs.

She took off her crown, and tried another one, then yet another one…

― How do you like this one? she asked. No, don’t answer. I find it perfect, and that’s what matters. My father gave it to me for my first nightmare.

― I don’t understand why you put on a crown before going to bed, Winter said. I always took off my magic wand out of my hair before sleeping.

― I am a princess! I must wear a crown. And this one is my night crown.

Silky looked at her reflection in a mirror that was taller than she was. She carefully looked from every angle, inspecting her fin, adjusting a scale here, a yellow hair there.

― Tell me who is the prettiest!

― You are the prettiest, said Winter unguardedly.

― I was talking to my mirror! snapped Silky. It’s a magic mirror, but it’s not even capable of telling me I am the prettiest mermaid in the world! I might as well ask a deaf shell. It’s an easy thing to do, no? I am the prettiest!

Then she swam to her bed.

At least there will be plenty of space, Winter thought.

Indeed, the bed alone was larger than the house of Frigida and Surgelo. Silky was probably finding it hard not to get lost between all these blankets covered with multicoloured sea anemones and golden corals.

― Hey! What do you thin you are doing? she shouted when Winter tried to lie down on one corner of the bed.

It took the water balls filled with Silky’s words few seconds to reach Winter.

― I prepare myself to go to sleep, he replied, putting his hands in front of his mouth like a loudspeaker.

― No way! It’s my bed, and there is just enough room for me in it. You can sleep in the other bedroom, behind you. And hurry up because the light will soon be turned off! Tomorrow I will show you the sperm whales.

Silky showed him another bed, much smaller, with worn blankets that had lost all their colours. Winter got just enough time to lie down before the night fell all at once. The lantern fish had all turned off their light at the same time. Energy saving was not an empty word in Mermaiddom!

*

The next morning (even if it was difficult to tell if the sun had risen since the story is taking place several kilometres under water), after having cleaned her teeth with an Argentinian coral toothbrush, and after having washed her face with a very soft Japanese submarine sponge, Silky brushed her yellow hair for only fifteen minutes because she was in a hurry. Then she switched her night crown for a day one.

Winter looked at her through a kind of fog, and started to cough.

― The effect of my kiss is fading out, Silky said. I have to snog you again or you’ll drown. But it will be the last time!

No sooner said than done. Silky wiped her mouth afterward several times.

― Are we going to get a breakfast? Winter asked, now that he was not coughing anymore, and was seeing clearly.

― But you did eat plenty yesterday! Didn’t you get enough?

― Yesterday was yesterday, Winter replied with surprise. Don’t you eat everyday?

Silky tapped the side of her head with her index finger.

― Mermaids only eat once a month, she said. At least the mermaids who are neither kings nor princesses. In doing so, they have the rest of the month to do something else. It makes things much simpler, no? Let’s go and see the sperm whales. I didn’t kiss you twice, and brought you here just so that you can eat everyday.

Winter reluctantly followed Silky, but his stomach kept sending water balls full of rumblings.

They soon arrived at King Tubercule’s enclosures. If one could call them enclosures that is, since there was of course no walls!

These wall-less enclosures were providing shelter for eleven sperm whales, each wearing a crown similar to the one that was now hanging from Frigida’s ceiling.

The eleven animals were aligned, and separated from each other with lines of fish that were holding each other’s fins.

The sperm whales were held prisoners by chains salvaged from old ships that had sunk to the bottom of the oceans. Winter also learnt that the iron suits of the mermaid guards were made with metal from these same sunken ships.

When Silky walked in their direction, all the sperm whales greeted her with a bow. All, except one! This one was completely white, and had still several harpoons deeply stuck inside its body.

― This one never welcomes me. It never bows, and is always in a bad mood, Silky groused.

― Maybe it has something to see with all the big needles stuck into its back, Winter suggested. It must be itchy. We could pull them out. I am sure I would be able to do that.

Silky flatly refused. There was surely a good reason why these harpoon were stuck into the back of this one.

― Why are they enchained? Winter asked.

 

You can download the rest of this story here:

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Winter Minimus and the Low Fashion School

Here’s an exclusive extract from Winter Minimus and the Low Fashion School by Robert Dorazi

During Gregor absence, miss Terne tried once more to give a sewing lecture. But after pricking her own fingers and the rest of her body so many times, and accidentally cutting herself with the scissors, she decided it was less dangerous to take the students out for a walk in town.

The streets of Paris really didn’t look like ice field 46, and the river was not even frozen! No way to ice skate on top of it, and not a single penguin on sight! But after a one-hour walk on dark, small, and noisy alleys, Winter saw something familiar at last. He called over Sassou.

― Look at this igloo! he said.

He walked closer the newspapers kiosk and put one of his hands against it.

― People around use a very strange ice to build their igloos! Look Sassou, it is multicolour and hot. It’s amazing. Do you have tv inside, or a bowling track? he asked the kiosk owner

Sassou quickly joined Winter, and tried to drag him far away. But her attention was caught by one of the newspapers displayed on the kiosk outside walls. She forgot about Winter, and started to read.

― Hey, you! In this country, people pay first and read after. This is not Cameroon here, the seller shouted.

― I come from Botswana, not Cameroon! And we also buy newspapers in my country. Winter, pay him!

― Pay him with what? And what does it mean anyway? Winter asked.

Sassou didn’t answer. She had already picked up the newspaper and walked away, still reading.

The seller held out his hand wide open to Winter.

― It’s 1 euro 50, he said when he realized the boy was not moving. You owe me 1 euro 50. You are going to tell me you come from Kenya too? Come on, hurry up! Give me my money.

Winter searched his scruffy hair, then opened his hand. The man inside the hot and multicolour igloo opened his eyes and mouth as big as portholes when he saw what Winter had on his palm.

― Is there something that is of interest to you? Winter asked. It’s all I have here.

In his hand was a shell, a teeth from a troll, and two small green stones that humans were calling emeralds, but that ice sorcerers were only calling useless green stones.

The seller seemed to hesitate in front of the shell and the teeth, but then seized both emeralds in a fast move.

― These two green… er… green stones will do, he said. They are worth exactly 1 euro 50! Okay, now off you go to blow hot wind with your friend in Senegal!

Winter was too happy to grant the wish of the man. He didn’t even have to use his magic wand. Conjuring up wind when you live in Antarctica was a classic.

― Tornado spiralis !

In no time at all, all the newspapers from the kiosk had been scattered around Paris (Raoul Volfoni would have added “puzzle way”.) they were followed by the seller who took off, flabbergasted, holding tight to his tiny wooden house, and looking around as if an angry troll was chasing him.

As for Winter, he went on his way, relieved that the seller had not taken away his precious shell. There was only one like this in the whole ice field 46, and the other ice sorcerers were all jealous about it!

When he caught up with Sassou, she was sitting down on a bench, avidly reading the newspaper that Winter had just bought for two useless green stones. She was staring at a picture of a small woman escorted by her tall brother with a long nose. The headline above the picture was as follow:

Spectacular escape from Supercrazy asylum.

Garr Gorr and her brother on the loose.

― Listen to this! Sassou said.

Then she started to read the article that had drawn her interest earlier.

We have just learnt that the dangerous criminal mind Garr Gorr has escaped from Supercrazy asylum two months ago. Garr Gorr is the evildoer who stole the three pyramids of Egypt, and replaced them with cardboard copies. She is also the one who glued two arms to the Milo Venus so that she had to be amputated again. The short stature of Garr Gorr should not cause us to forget that she is the second most machiavellian criminal of all the machiavellian criminals. The most machiavellian criminal being Doctor Menace, of course. Garr Gorr escaped with some help from her brother Terny Gorr, a tall man with a long nose, and another accomplice whose name is unknown but who can drive a bus and cooks badly.

― It’s a nice story, Winter said. How many arms did this Venus have?

― I think I know where this Garr Gorr is! Sassou replied. And if I am right…

Miss Terne, escorted with Chen, Youssouf and the others, arrived just at that same moment. So Sassou quickly got rid of the newspaper in the bin beside the bench.

*

When they came back to the Low Fashion school, it was already dark, and even before they get inside Sassou pointed out to Winter that there was light inside the library. The light went off immediately after that. A few moments later, Gregor walked down the stairs to greet the children on the ground floor. He seemed very happy judging by the large smile on his face.

However, after miss Terne had whispered few words in his ears, Gregor seemed much less pleased and happy. He stared at Winter then spoke to the gray woman at low voice. She nodded and smiled a dangerous smile.

― As I have promised you, I brought back with me a gift for each one of you. You will receive this present tonight,

and you’ll be able to take it with you when you go home, Gregor announced.

 

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