Monthly Archives: October 2014

Tonight Belinda’s Bedtime Story THE HALLOWEEN COSTUME

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THE HALLOWEEN COSTUME

It was sort of horrible what happened to Annette that Halloween. She picked up her Dior skeleton costume all right. It seemed to fit. Out into the pumpkin-filled street she went, with all its goggly-lit dragon eyes, up close each one a grinning monster. Bodies hung from balconies – roped about the neck – speechless as they jerked back and forth in the wind. The sound of a goose or a hen – some kind of fowl – cackling in the sky made her look up but it was just a witch flying across the moon – or maybe it was only a black cloud. Something flitted in the air, brushing children’s faces – they screamed and covered their hair with their hands. Bats usually prefer the dark but tonight they headed for the bright windows. On Halloween, of course, everything goes topsy-turvy.

Annette went from door to door collecting treats. Edward Scissorhands gave colourfully wrapped candies, opening her bag with his long sharp fingers. Some of the children backed away from him down the stairs. A man with two heads looked at Annette twice and dropped in twice as much. A mummy came to the door but his bandage had slipped away at the top and … nothing was there. Maybe his neighbour had borrowed his head. He gave her something round, all neatly covered with blue metallic paper. “Ha ha!” A chocolate egg, she hoped. At the next house, the ghost was just someone inside a white sheet except that, when Annette dared to look, she didn’t see any feet. Whatever it was, it floated away after dropping some liquorice out of its sleeve.

She was doing pretty well until, that is, she came to one house where the owner crossed his eyes above his walrus moustache and stuttered as though already frightened by what trick she might perform.

“Th’ th’ that’ll be a trick please!”

Didn’t his mother ever tell him not to do that, Annette wondered as she looked at his twisted eyes. She decided to play along and so, like any self-respecting skeleton, she gave her bones a rattle. However, this didn’t satisfy the gentleman. He rattled his false teeth back at her.

“N’ n’ no. I wa’ wa’ want a r’ r’ real trick.”

“Okay,” said Annette, “you asked for it, you’re going to get it.” She promptly fell to pieces on his porch. Bone by bone, she came apart and formed a heap, her skull precariously perched on top.

“How about that!”

“P’ p’ pretty good. Ha, ha, ha,” replied the gentleman and closed his door.

“O oh,” said Annette to herself, “now what’ll I do? Let me see. The knee bone’s connected to the chin bone, the chin bone’s connected to the shoulder bone, the shoulder bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s connected to the head bone, – oh bother! Maybe I can just crawl out of here. I’ll just fix this piece and that piece. There! All done!”

Annette looked sort of like a crab – perhaps a galaxy of stars spinning out of control – her head somewhere in the middle of a circle of leg bones and arm bones and back bones.

“I think I’ve got it now,” she said, and made her way to the next house.

“Trick or treat!”

“Aghhhhh!” the lady screamed and ran back into the house.

“This is pretty good,” thought Annette. “This is what’s supposed to happen. Scary stuff.” But then, she realized she didn’t get a treat. She tried the next house. Same thing. This was no good. Here she was giving out tricks and no one would give her a treat. Her bag was only half-full.

She began to blubber. Just a little bit.

“What’s the matter, Annette?” said her big sister Juliette, from across the street.

“No one’s putting anything in my bag.”

“You’re not the little skeleton sister I remember,” said Juliette, who had come closer.

“It’s me! It’s me!”

“No, no,” said her sister. “Annette’s a well-connected little skeleton; whereas, you are a misconnected bunch of bones. If you don’t watch it, a dog will come along and bury you. Now, where is my sister?”

She looked up and down the dark street for Annette.

“No! no! I’m here! I’m here! And my bag’s only half-full!”

“I know you’re here! Whoever or whatever you are! Prove to me that you’re Annette!” said her sister.

“My hair is black.”

“So is a lot of little girls’.”

“I’m sweet.”

Silence.

“My drawing is on the refrigerator.”

More silence.

“I like to play in the park.”

Deep silence.

At last, desperately, Annette said, “Sing me that song!”

“What song?”

“You know, the bone song. Sing me the bone song and I’ll prove to you who I am.”

“It seems to be either that or the wheelbarrow to cart you away,” said her sister and began to sing.

“The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,
The ankle bone’s connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone,
The hip bone’s connected to the back bone,
The back bone’s connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone’s connected to the head bone …
And that’s the way we are!”

“And that’s the way I am,” said Annette, who had followed along with the song putting herself properly back together, until finally she was upright on her two feet.

“Wait a minute,” said her sister. Juliette twisted Annette’s head bone so that it faced the right way.

“That’s better. Now, I think it’s time to go home.”

“But my bag’s still half-empty!” cried Annette.

“No, it’s not, it’s half-full,” said her sister.

“Half-full! half-empty!” Annette complained as they walked back home.

When they reached their house, she heard that old goose in the sky again. It was laughing at her. Annette turned to look just in time to see a black-robed and pointy-hatted figure crash right into the moon.

“She didn’t watch where she was going,” said her sister, but Annette was busy collecting everything that fell out of the witch’s sack. Soon her bag was full.

Inside the house, as she went through all her treats – froggypops, lollydogs, jellyworms, sluggydrops, wartychocs, loopysnakes and yummy gummy chewytoads! – trying to decide which she would have first, it was all too much for her bones and they began to rattle excitedly.

“Now don’t you come all undone!” she said. “I’m too busy to sing the bone song all over again.”

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THE END
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Tonight Belinda’s Bedtime Story THE ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD

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THE ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD

One day, the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD floated into the land of the MONKEY KING, who immediately took advantage of this air-borne visitor for his own FLYING PURPOSES.

“Perfect!” exclaimed the KING when his servants strapped the traveling compartment to the back of the ELEPHANT. In India, this conveyance is called a ‘HOWDAH’. The MONKEY KING sat on an EMBROIDERED PILLOW and rode all over the place in it.

Before long, the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD rained and whatever its rain fell upon grew hugely.

“Splendid!” said the MONKEY KING.

Also pleased was the PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA, his fair daughter, who liked to eat.

“MORE! MORE!” she called. “YUM! YUM! YUM! YUM!”

When the MONKEY KING passed over a vegetable garden, he ordered the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD to rain. The egg plants swelled up, the tomatoes bent their stalks, the carrots burst out of the ground. The PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA began to pick, when a shadow fell over her and with it came a “snopping” sound: “SNOP! SNOP! SNOP! SNOP!”

A Snapdragon had gurgled down all the delicious ELEPHANT RAIN pouring from the drain pipe above it and had gone in search of something more. “Anything will do!” it said. “SNOP! SNOP!” it went through the roses, the daisies, the petunias, the lilacs, the sweet-peas.

Eventually, it SNOPPED its way through the MONKEY KING’S entire KINGDOM until not a blossom remained and it was just as big as PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA herself had become. And so KERRBOB – as the growling, head-dipping SNAPDRAGON came to be called – decided to take up a MUSICAL INSTRUMENT in order to keep its mind off its BELLY until SPRING came again and everything would have grown back. He chose the CHURCH ORGAN as best for his size, and the MONKEY KING agreed to have one built.

KERRBOB sang while he played the BIGGER-THAN-ANY-OTHER MUSICAL INSTRUMENT:

KERRBOB’S BLOOMETTY BLOSSOMY SNAPPLETY SNOPPLETY SONG
also known as
THE SONG OF MY TUM

Rumpletty Dumpletty
Rompletty Dompletty
Snappletty Snoppletty

SNOP!

Snaketty Snoketty
Loppetty Lappetty

Slicketty Slacketty

POP!

Pass the ketchoppetty, lovely ketchuppetty!
Pass the ketchoppetty do!
Blissful Blossometty
Wriggletty Wroggletty Piggletty Poggletty

OOOO!

Masheddy Mosheddy Misheddy Musheddy

Briccoli Broccoli
(No Pepperropetty!)
Gobbletty Gubbletty

GOO!

Chippetty Choppetty
Chowetty Chewetty
Slorpetty Slurpetty

Borpetty Burpetty
Chewetty Chowetty

CHEW!

Crayonnaise Mayonnaise!
Slippery Sloppery
Gnashetty Gnoshetty

Piggletty Poggletty
Slurp it ecstotically

DO!

Grinnetty Grunnetty
Gassitty Groannitty
Bubbletty Bobbletty
Burpetty Urpetty

That is the Song
Of my Tum!

In his HOWDAH, the MONKEY KING listened to this song for the HUNDREDTH TIME, while he watched the news on his IPAD. It reported on the appearance of TIGERS, CROCODILES, SNAKES, GIANTS-WITH-ONLY-ONE-EYE and a PINK-HAIRED PLATYPUS in the SKY.

“It’s all a MYSTERY since no one can explain it,” the news announcer said. “One thing is sure, it has NOTHING to do with KERRBOB’S ORGAN PLAYING and his SINGING that EVERYONE is ENJOYING and HOPES VERY, VERY MUCH that he will play EVERY THURSDAY, like today, or any other day that he wishes.”

“Or all night and all week,” muttered the MONKEY KING, who looked up to see a ONE-EYE-IN-THE-CENTRE-OF-ITS-FOREHEAD GIANT trundle up and demand, “SOMETHING TO EAT! ANYTHING AT ALL! YOU’LL DO!” and the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD charged the GIANT and passed right through to the OTHER SIDE.

“Hah!” chortled the MONKEY KING, but the ELEPHANT HOLE had already filled in and the OGRE gobbled up the houses down below, the occupants still seated on their sofas and armchairs, and IT gobbled up EVERYTHING ELSE!

The next day, the IPAD announced, MOST FEARSOME GIANT GOBBLES EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING UP! while KERRBOB played and played at his CHURCH ORGAN, with more and more CLOUDY TIGERS, CROCODILES, and GIANTS appearing in the SKY ABOVE!

The MONKEY KING swung through the trees consulting all the OLD NEWS in the newspapers blown there by the WINDS from KERRBOB’S ORGAN, but they all agreed with his IPAD that EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IS GONE!

“The only thing to do,” he decided, “is to do something about it.” He set about collecting all the NEWS in the land, stacking it up and sitting on the very top just as if it were his THRONE. “THAT,” he said, “should put the SITUATION completely under CONTROL.”

From this HEIGHT, he had a very good view of a CIRCUS PERFORMANCE that all the CLOUDY CREATURES were putting on with the help of KERRBOB’S ORGAN PLAYING. The PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA, munching on a SACK OF POPCORN and wearing a very pretty EXTRA-EXTRA-EXTRA-LARGE-SIZE DRESS patterned with daisies and buttercups from shoulder to knee, came and stood beside her HIGHLY PLACED father.

When the CIRCUS PERFORMERS began to fall out of the sky and TUMBLE ABOUT on the ground, the MONKEY KING called out, “KERRBOB, pay more attention to what you’re playing!” Turning, the MONKEY KING saw what had distracted the busily TWEETING-AT-HIS-IPHONE KERRBOB: the blushing and likewise TWEETING PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA in her flowery dress.

“Fetch the BOOK OF EVERYTHING!” commanded the MONKEY KING. Under ‘Snapdragons and Princesses,’ there wasn’t anything. He took out his IPAD and went to WIKIPOODIA. There it was! ‘SNAPDRAGONS. Purpose of: to kidnap PRINCESSES. Remedy: KNIGHT-IN-SHINING-ARMOUR.’”

He hopped onto the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD and set off, but all he could find were PILES OF RUSTY ARMOUR until he came upon a HORSE that wore saddle bags with PROPERTY OF THE KNIGHT-IN-SHINING-ARMOUR stamped on them. The HORSE merely whinnied to all the MONKEY KING’s inquiries.

“Just rain on him a bit, would you!” the MONKEY KING ordered his ELEPHANT CLOUD.
“Here, stop that!” cried the HORSE. “I’ve been trying to tell you that my master – the KNIGHT-IN-SHINING-ARMOUR – is having tea with the Princess MEEMEE but he did leave his MAGIC MIRROR for anyone who wants to do the HERO’S JOB himself.”

The MONKEY KING dug about in the horse’s saddlebags where he located the MAGIC MIRROR. When he looked into it, someone noble, strong and courageous stared back at him. His lip curled bravely.

“At last, I have found my TRUE SELF,” declared the MONKEY KING, “and I really could do with a shave!”

On his return, the MONKEY KING nearly fell out of his HOWDAH. Down below, the SNAPDRAGON KERRBOB had PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA in HIS GRIP. SHE had HIM in HERS. In front of them stood a PINK-HAIRED PLATYPUS, reading from a BLACK IPHONE, while the ONE-EYED GIANT played a WEDDING MARCH on KERRBOB’S ORGAN!

As soon as the CEREMONY was over, the HAPPY COUPLE looked at the MONKEY KING who grinned as he handed them their wedding present. “This looking-glass will also tell you if you need a shave,” he said to KERRBOB.

“How very THIN, how very BEAUTIFUL I am!” declared PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA. Thinking of all the ADMIRERS that would soon be lining up to meet her, she passed the mirror to KERRBOB.
When he looked into the glass, KERRBOB saw a little snapdragon not at all suitable for a LARGE AND HUNGRY PRINCESS. Having thought better of things, he wandered away in search of a nice garden where he might tweet with the rhododendrons.

The MONKEY KING was most pleased at this turn of events and he dutifully set off to return the MAGIC MIRROR to its proper owner. Afterwards, he planned to visit all sorts of people in FAR-OFF PLACES. “They will be most pleased to see me in my howdah,” he said, and the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD began to RAIN – just a little.

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THE END
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People Love Their Humanoids

“People loved their automobiles and sentimentalized about them. Today they love their humanoids. Our ancestors are those deviant, isolated individuals – few in number – who purchased life-sized dolls, brought them home to their cramped apartments, filled them with air from their own lungs, and proceeded to treat these inanimate objects as live-in mistresses, girlfriends-in-waiting.”

The Magic Sail

The Magic Sail

They all fell overboard and drowned.

It was a porpoise that witnessed the event and informed all the other fish in the sea. Eventually a hermit crab reported the details to another of its kind that decided something must be done and, since its fellow crab was smaller in size, it listened to the idea with respect and attention. Also it had the hope of taking over the bigger one’s shell once it had grown out of it.*

The octopus who guarded the entrance of the deepest cave in the water found himself faced with all the creatures in the sea and agreed with them all. It swam into the depths and returned with a silver sail that glowed in the dark.

The newly fitted boat bobbed on the waves and those who had drowned climbed the ladder that hung from its side. They were full of life and congratulated themselves on having survived a watery death.

As soon as a wind arose, they were off and visiting all the places they had planned: islands with white beaches, sea ports with lots to see and buy.

Once they had completed their trip, they set a course for home. So well did their magic sail perform that they sped along just above the waves without a single bump.

* Hermit crabs are decapod crustaceans of the superfamily Paguroidea. Most of the 1100 species possess an asymmetrical abdomen which is concealed in an empty gastropod shell carried around by the hermit crab.

Outside its shell, the soft, curved abdomen of hermit crabs, such as Pagurus bernhardus, is vulnerable.

Most species have long, spirally curved abdomens, which are soft, unlike the hard, calcified abdomens seen in related crustaceans. The vulnerable abdomen is protected from predators by a salvaged empty seashell carried by the hermit crab, into which its whole body can retract. Most frequently, hermit crabs use the shells of sea snails (although the shells of bivalves and scaphopods and even hollow pieces of wood and stone are used by some species). The tip of the hermit crab’s abdomen is adapted to clasp strongly onto the columella of the snail shell.

As the hermit crab grows in size, it must find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. This habit of living in a second-hand shell gives rise to the popular name “hermit crab”, by analogy to a hermit who lives alone. Several hermit crab species, both terrestrial and marine, use vacancy chains to find new shells; when a new, bigger shell becomes available, hermit crabs gather around it and form a kind of queue from largest to smallest. When the largest crab moves into the new shell, the second-biggest crab moves into the newly vacated shell, thereby making its previous shell available to the third crab, and so on. Hermit crabs often “gang up” on a hermit crab with what they perceive to be a better shell, where they will actually pry its home (shell) away from it and then compete for it, and one will ultimately take it over.

Most species are aquatic and live in varying depths of salt water, from shallow reefs and shorelines to deep sea bottoms. Tropical areas host some terrestrial species, though even those have aquatic larvae and therefore need access to water for reproduction. Most hermit crabs are nocturnal.

A few species do not use a “mobile home” and inhabit immobile structures left by polychaete worms, vermetid gastropods, corals, and sponges.

***

The Hospital by Franz Kafka

Nurse: How long have you been in this corridor?

K: There don’t seem to be any clocks … I think I arrived yesterday.

Nurse: How do you feel?

K: I feel perfectly all right. A little undernourished, maybe, but I’m not complaining.

Nurse: We are understaffed. Our best are at the frontier.

K: At the frontier?

Nurse: Would you like a gurney to lie down on?

K: No, I feel fine.

Nurse: It is regulation for someone in your case.

K: My case? What would that be?

Nurse (frowning as she reads her chart): It just says, “in this case”.

K remains silent as if deep in thought.

Nurse: How did you get here?

K: I was summoned. In fact I was dragged.

Nurse: Dragged? (She recoils in horror.)

K: It was humiliating.

Nurse: One moment. (She goes away and, after five minutes, returns in a protective suit.)

K peers at her anxiously.

Nurse: We have a place for you.

K: A place?

Nurse: You will have to stay there.

K: For how long?

Nurse: Until the governor says it’s all right for you to come out.

K: Oh, the governor. Of course, now I understand. Don’t worry. I can stay as long as you like. I have experience in these matters. Which way is it?