Friday, 30 July 2010


To Becky, without you this story would never have been written. A heartfelt thanks for turning my utter boredom that Easter into the outline of something which I hope lives up to the expectations you’ve had since.


A heartfelt thank you goes out to the reader of this, thank you for persevering with the second instalment of this series of tales. You are about to bear witness to more of what the mind can conjure up when it is sufficiently void of sensations, otherwise known as boredom. Hopefully the reader will enjoy this instalment as much as they did the last (Of course you may have hated it and are just reading this because you like inflicting mental torment upon yourself – in which case please seek professional help).
Readers may, however, have gained an inaccurate idea of the character of Hans, our main figure in these tales. He is not, as some of you readers may think, an idiot, rather he is merely special. By that it is meant that he looks at the world and appreciates it in a different manner to what many people are accustomed to. He is a man who whilst playing games with a pack of topless cards would be more interested in the backdrop which the photos of these women were shot against, than the women themselves. He takes delight in odd things and strange details, which may seem rather dull, but it does makes for interesting reading…

The Duck Trade

Sherman Plod sat gazing at the fax he’d just received looking bemused. It just really didn’t make sense to him. At first he’d thought it was some kind of joke, but he’d checked the calendar and April 1st had passed by a few months ago. He even doubled checked the fax to make sure it hadn’t been written on April Fool’s Day and someone had forgotten to send it until today. But he couldn’t think of any other rational explanation for what it was asking him to do apart from it being genuine.
Before he could get any further though, he heard a knock at the door. He just shouted for them to let themselves in. He knew it would be Ronnie stopping off on his way to school as he did every morning.
“I’m alright, thanks for asking,” said Ronnie as he walked in. Sherman always got freaked out by Ronnie’s knack of knowing what he was going to say.
Sherman knew it wasn’t normal to let 10 year old children let themselves into workplaces like his, even as small as the office was in Avysmere. But, for Ronnie he made an exception for several reasons. Firstly, Ronnie really, really wanted to be in the same line of work as Sherman when he was older, secondly he was fairly intelligent and helpful in solving things for him. And finally he felt sorry for Ronnie having to deal with any one of the thirteen different personalities his mother-in-law could manifest. It was hard enough on the poor lad that his father died when he was only five, without that to deal with.
“So what do you think to this,” he asked Ronnie, showing him the fax and feeling slightly pleased that he’d managed to.
“Duck smuggling!” exclaimed Ronnie, “I didn’t think something like that would be worth you spending your time on.” Mind you,” Ronnie added, “isn’t there supposed to be some kind of duck show locally soon?”
“Cheers, laddie,” thanked Sherman, “I guess you better go up to school, I’ll see you here later then.”
“Yeah, of course you will. By the way, Mum said she’d like you to come to her cheese and wine evening tonight,” said Ronnie “Oh before you ask, its okay she’s Susan today. But I could tell that she’d be really upset if you didn’t come.”
“Right then, well I’ll see you later then,” said PC Plod.

Sherman's Luck

PC Plod spent the rest of the morning putting up posters that he’d received in a courier package. He always ended up with the rubbish cases, nothing ever interesting happened for him to investigate. He knew he wasn’t exactly the best investigator until Ronnie had turned up in the village, but apart from that building with the collapsed roof in Dunnuffin a few months back nothing that was even close interesting happened locally. He spent most of his time prosecuting people for attempting to graffiti on walls with invisible ink pens – hardly the cutting edge of crime fighting. They’d made the whole sleepy village thing sound really good when he’d been posted here, but it was just a little boring for his liking.
But he was faced with a bigger problem. The cheese and wine evening which he’d been invited to this evening. It really frustrated him that nobody seemed to do anything different here apart from cheese and wine evenings. He thought that every once in a while someone may want to organise a dinner party. Given the amount of farms around here he thought that someone might have organised a barn dance. But no, it was just his luck that he was lactose intolerant and everyone seemed to organise nothing but cheese and wine evenings. Obviously, he knew it probably had something to do with Avysmere Dairy being one of the biggest employers of local people but surely they could have a little bit of consideration for him.
Normally he’d just refuse to go, and if it had been any other of Ms Baxter’s personalities then he would have been able to. He’d been dating Susan for a month or so now, and she’d banned him from seeing any of her other personalities, which would have given him an excuse. But he couldn’t let Susan down, could he?

The Party

Hans and Chloe had seen the posters on their way to Ms Baxter’s house for the party. They weren’t exactly sure what to make of them, under bright red, bold lettering saying ‘Don’t Do Ducks’ was a picture of a Mallard sporting a very surprised expression on its face. Chloe thought it was a little tasteless, whereas Hans spent more time wondering what on Earth had motivated PC Plod to put these up.
Thus when they got to the party, they headed straight in his direction. Well, they would have done if Crazy Dave hadn’t stopped them in their tracks.
Although the name tended to give it away to most people, Hans had to have it explained to him that Dave was the village nut case and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire.
“Hi guys, I’ve got a case I think you might be interested in,” said Dave silently to they wouldn’t be overheard.
“Go on,” said Hans reluctantly, he’d learnt since moving here that it was best to let Dave rattle of whatever nonsense he was going to tell them.
“Shapeshifters!” exclaimed Dave, “My secret source tells me there’s some on the way up to Avysmere.”
“Shapeshifters?” questioned Chloe, “And what makes you think that’s true?”
“Oh, I trust my source,” Dave replied defensively, “he said one of their leaders was coming, Mao or something like that.”
“Dave, Mao was a Chinese Communist not a shapeshifter!” exclaimed Chloe, “this wasn’t the same source who told you the Queen and all the royal family are trans-dimensional lizards who are on Earth for the sole reason of eating your feet?”
“Ssh, they might be listening, I don’t want them to know that I know that,” said Dave quietly, “So will you look into it?”
“Okay Dave, we’ll look into it, see you later,” said Hans, anxious to get away from him.
They made a b-line for PC Plod and this time got their unmolested.
“Hello,” said PC Plod cheerfully.
“Hi,” replied Hans. “It might just be me but aren’t you guys supposed to say that three times?”
“Well, we only reserve that for when we are about to arrest someone,” Sherman replied, “Why have you done something I should know about?”
Hans decided to move the conversation on. After all in course of his investigative activities he had broken into several houses amongst other things.
“So what’s with the new poster campaign then Sherman?” asked Chloe
“Oh I got sent them via courier post, part of our latest campaign,” explained Sherman, “We’re having a crackdown on the illegal duck smuggling traffic. I mean I know its hardly the most glamorous initiative ever, but its so deadly. Because of it tens of thousands die each year from consuming illegal ducks. It seems into run down communities and before you know it have duck dealers everywhere, outside pubs and in school playgrounds. It’s a multi-billion dollar illegal trade, they grow the ducks as far away as Columbia and Afghanistan to smuggle all the way over here, can you believe it?”
Hans was about to answer no, but a loud crash from behind him stopped him in his tracks.
“Oh God, she’s changing,” exclaimed Chloe. Chloe wondered who Susan would be changing into. She’s known Ms Baxter quite a while, after all they had escaped together from the asylum that Chloe had been consigned to when she’d told the police she’d been bitten by a vampire.
When she heard a scream coming from where Susan’s prone body lay, she quickly worked out which personality had asserted itself. It was Tina, who was mortally afraid of the colour yellow, which Ms Baxter had avoided putting anything in her house that colour for the very same reason. It was just her luck that Tina’s personality had to surface when there was a load of cheese in the house.
“Okay, party’s over,” shouted Chloe as the rushed over to calm Tina down.
“You know Susan will go mad if she knows you stayed after she changed,” said Ronnie, urging Sherman to go. As ever Ronnie would have to sort it out, he knew PC Plod meant well, but his Mum would blame it on him if when she changed back to Susan she found him here. At least Chloe was here to help him out, his Mum trusted her for some reason he didn’t know. It was like they were old friends but they’d never go out during the daytime like any of his friends Mums did with their friends.

Mervin Tells All

The next evening Chloe and Hans started quizzing Mervin about what they’d found out at the party. Hans had often thought that having a wizard who could attempt to explain the mysterious goings on in the village was pretty handy. Okay, so he was pretty grumpy, but he’d always had the feeling that most of his girlfriend’s fathers had wanted to kill him. It was as if there was an inbuilt thing with men to intimidate as much as possible anyone who dared to go out with their daughters. On balance, Mervin was fairly good, but that may have been due to the fact Hans employed him as the caretaker for the castle they all lived in too.
“Duck smuggling,” mused Mervin, “well I guess there’s supposed to be the Avysmere Duck Show next week, maybe something fishy is going on there. The main exhibitor would probably be Transformation Inc, they do have a new person as chairman of their board, someone called Meow.”
In the next split second something incredible happened. Whereas he was usually the man to come out with the most pointless piece of information at any given time, Hans actually remembered something useful. “This Meow person, he’s not a shapeshifter by any chance?” he asked.
“Of course, everyone in Tranformation Inc. is a shapeshifter,” answered Mervin. “They are one of the companies tha’s registered with the Wizarding Council as having magic related activities, I always thought it’d pay to keep up with these things.”
“Can they turn into lots of things or just one,” asked Hans
“Just one, it’s fairly obvious what Meow turns into,” explained Mervin
“What, a dog?” asked Hans genuinely.
Silence swept the room, if there had been any tumbleweed in the vicinity at that moment it would have rolled past at least once.
“Hans, I love you, but you are so thick sometimes. He’s a bloody cat,” said Chloe, the turning to her father continued, “Crazy Dave mentioned something about that at the party.”
“Well, yeh see tha’s the thing wi’ these conspiracy nut types, sooner or later they gotta stumble across something tha’s actually true,” Mervin pointed out.
“What like that thing they say about if you got a hundred typewriters and sat a hundred Shakespeare’s at them they’d type out the complete works of monkeys,” blurted out Hans before he realised he’d got it the wrong way round.
Mervin thought he should look befuddled by this statement of Hans’. However, there was one slight flaw in that plan, he had know idea how a befuddled person should look, so he had to settle for puzzled instead.
“So how come Sherman’s got all this information telling him to crackdown on ducks?” asked Hans breaking the silence, “I mean I’ve never seen him be that close to being onto something magical before.”
“Could residual magic from tha’ bugging yeh had me do,” answered Mervin.
A few weeks before they had ‘bugged’ the police station when they were trying to find a missing wizard. Mervin had cast a spell that made all the bugs that inhabited the building act as listening devices for them so they could snoop on the details of who PC Plod had been interviewing.
“Yeh know,” continued Mervin, “yeh use so much of the stuff it tends to linger, just like in the Magic Moose Room. It can do all kinds of weird things.”
Hans pondered this for a while, despite the Magic Moose Room being the only place where he could really practice magic safely, it was saturated with so much magic it freaked him out every time he went into. So much so that he’d been put off trying to learn all that much magic. Lately he’d noticed that the floor had been vibrating whenever he went into the room, but it had always been the eyes of the moose portraits on the walls that had really freaked him out.
“Like change the content of anything he’d receive?” asked Chloe, “Cos it sounded like he should have got anti-drug stuff instead.”
“Well potentially, it could do anything – just be glad tha’ it hasn’t turned him into a duck-billed platypus like it did to Jimmy McGregor tha’ time,” replied Mervin. He remembered it well; he’d had to call up the local wizarding union for back-up to put everything right again.
“Maybe we should go around to Ted’s so we can find out more about this Transformation Inc.?” suggested Chloe.

Ted's Place

Now when Chloe said let’s go round to Ted’s place, she didn’t mean where Ted actually lived. Ted had been offered a place to stay at the castle when Hans had first met him, but he felt he was imposing himself on Hans, so he moved out of the castle fairly soon after and into a small flat on the village high street. The thing was that there wasn’t all that much to go round there for. The only furniture that was in the house was a cardboard box that Ted slept in at night, he’d never recovered enough from all those years of sleeping rough to dare sleep in a bed. The one time he’d tried it he’d kept having nightmares of it falling into the sea, despite Avysmere being almost 100 miles from the coast.
Hans had taken to checking up on Ted every few weeks as he usually seemed to be a bit down. He’d found it really difficult to make any friends in Avysmere. Any men he’d talked to seemed to all be very homophobic and as soon as he mentioned he was gay they would avoid him like the plague. And any women he talked to would think he was trying to chat them up, even when he told them he was gay they thought it was just a line he was telling so that he could later say that they were turning him straight as a chat-up line.
In fact many a person would have thought of Ted as suicidal, except that Ted had no intention of committing suicide. This wasn’t because he felt he had anything in particular to live for, but more because he didn’t believe in any kind of afterlife and simply ceasing to exist would have been a bit of a waste really.
Moreover, he was actually afraid of most things that you have to do to yourself to kill yourself. He hid behind a cushion when watching people being stabbed and covered in gore and blood in horror films, so he was hardly going to stab himself or slit his wrists. Likewise he couldn’t even look over the edge of a tall building let alone jump off it. In fact the only thing he wasn’t afraid of was hanging, but that was no good as he couldn’t tie a noose to save his life, which ironically saved his life on a few occasions. Instead he had vowed to try and make his like as useful as possible to other people and kept himself occupied with various projects of varying merit from fairly useful to completely and utterly pointless.
Thus there was a further reason they shouldn’t go to Ted’s flat, which was the somewhat more relevant reason that Ted wouldn’t be there. He’d been virtually living at the village library in recent weeks. He’d discovered a taste for website design, at the moment he was working on developing a search engine that helped you narrow down your search when you’d searched for something and it had come back with 7 million hits. His idea was to allow you to exclude things that definitely weren’t relevant. Thus say you were looking for a pizza takeaway in Avysmere, you could filter out anywhere else in the world called Avysmere so you wouldn’t end up with a load of addresses of pizza takeaways in somewhere random like Peru. He thought he was onto a winner for a change.
Hans and Chloe (Jane would have come too, but as they were about to get in the car she embarrassingly realised that she was still wearing her pyjamas) found him sat at one of the public computers in the library and asked him to dig out what information he could on Transformation Inc.
The screen lit up with the company’s homepage, a glossy coloured thing with a corporate video introducing them as the finest wholesalers of quality ducks, with a worldwide distribution network which allowed them to purloin the rare ducks from the furthest corners of the Earth. The company logo sat in the top corner of the page, with a list of the upcoming events where their wares would be exhibited and finally across the bottom of the screen ran the words “Quality produce, where and when you want it. We won’t duck the task.”
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” asked Ted as he turned around to look at Hans and Chloe.
“Yeah,” replied Hans, “I thought that was a crap slogan too!”
Ted held his head in his hands for a moment, then answered, “No, look closer at the screen. See the events, they’re exhibiting in Avysmere tomorrow at the duck festival with the majority of their sales team there.”
“Okay, so we can go investigate and check them all out tomorrow then, agreed?” asked Hans.
“No,” Ted felt like screaming, instead he remained calm, especially given that he agreed with Hans but it pained him to have to explain the somewhat obvious reason why they should investigate them. “Look just below it, the world duck show in Milan is happening at almost the same time. Now it might just be me, but surely that is more of an important event than a small duck show in some Scottish village, something fishy is going on here, maybe we should check out this duck show?”
“Okay then,” said Chloe, “Can you find out where about in the village its held?”
After tinkering with the computer for a while, then losing his temper and whacking the monitor for good measure he turned back to Hans and Chloe. “I guess it doesn’t have a website then,” said Ted, “and if it doesn’t have a website I can’t tell you that much of anything about it.” Then added, “I’d imagine the Professor would know.”
Now when you think of a professor, you’re probably thinking of a fairly old man, whose quite thin and frail, sprouting little clumps of grey hair from his head around his ears, wearing spectacles and a lab coat who sits muttering to himself a lot. And in this case you’d be exactly wrong.
Sophie had been nicknamed the Professor because she knew pretty much everything. She was like a walking encyclopedia. But she looked nothing like you’d expect a professor to look like. She was instead 16, petite with long blonde hair. When she’d finished school two months ago she’d immediately taken over running the library. Almost everyone had told her that she should have gone to college and university to make the most of her talents. But she much preferred being here where she could guard over the books she adored.
“Did one of you say my name, or something?” asked the Professor.
“Yeah,” answered Ted, “You know there’s supposed to be this duck festival starting tomorrow in Avysmere?”
“You mean the 5th bi-annual Avysmere Duck Show, founded by the late Roderick S. McCormack as a way of celebrating fine cuisine and the art of duck grooming. Initially it was held on the McCormack pasture fields to the north of the village. However, two years ago after Roderick McCormack’s death his son got planning permission for a theme park on McCormack fields and the show instead moved to McGregor’s farm where it will take place this year with a range of internationally renowned exhibitors.”
“Ah okay, what happened to the theme park, I don’t recall seeing it?” asked Hans
“Of course you wouldn’t, he wanted to build a theme park dedicated to Gone With The Wind – who’d want to fund that let alone actually go to it! Now did you have any other questions or have you asked me enough trivial nonsense for the day.”

The Duck Show

The field at McGregor’s farm next door to the one with the unicorns disguised as horses in it was the venue for the 5th Avysmere Duck Show. The field was full of marquees and steel fencing that had been arranged to make pens to hold the ducks of each exhibitor in.
They were directed into a makeshift car park and then began to make their way over to the show.
As Chloe wandered over, she mused upon what she saw before her
“So where should we start looking then?” asked Chloe.
Before Hans could respond someone ran into him, sending both him and his assailant flying.
“Sorry there,” said Crazy Dave as he picked himself up and the offered Hans a hand.
“You’ll never guess what I just saw in the greenhouse at the other side of the field,” continued Dave, “it was just like my source said.”
“And what might that be?” asked Chloe
“A moose in the greenhouse!”
“You what?” asked Hans
“A real live moose that’s living in the greenhouse.”
They wandered over to have a look, navigating the show goers. Hans peered inside and scanned the foliage. “You know there’s nothing there,” he said.
“That’s because it’s invisible,” explained Dave.
“But surely you’d see it push past the plants when it moves?” said Chloe.
“But it’s also imaginary too,” replied Dave.
“So it’s imaginary and invisible, then?”
“Yeah, you’ve got it.”
“Come on Hans, he’s clearly wasting our time,” said Chloe, beckoning Hans to follow her.
“I’ve heard it’s killed before,” shouted out Dave, desperate to get them back as they wandered back over to the Duck Show.


The Transformation Inc. section of the duck show was almost half of it. They had some pens where the cream of their crop were displayed as well as several large marquees. For the behind the scenes work they had a few more marquees as well as several mobile homes that were probably being used as offices.
“Jeez, they must be really big in the duck world,” exclaimed Hans, “looks like we’re gonna have to search through every single one of these tents and trucks.”
“Or we could just sneak into the back of the marquee with the armed guard outside,” said Chloe
The marquee they’d sneaked into held a gruesome sight. There was a big pile of dead ducks that had been split open and a bloody table with a knife on it where they’d been split. Chloe had thrown up then and there, and Hans would have too, but he’d been fasting before going into hospital for an operation on his little toe, so ended up just retching with nothing coming out.
They’d decided to ring Mervin to get down here and explain to them what on earth was going on. It took him half an hour to arrive, and when he made his way into the marquee, Hans immediately offered him a bag to throw up into.
“It’s okay, I did tha’ already back at the castle when yeh rang up and described it,” said Mervin, “yeh didn’t need to be quite so graphic as describing every last misplaced bone or internal organ yeh know.”
Mervin quickly surveyed the scene, and when he spotted a small white package that had been dropped under the bloodied table he quickly figured out exactly what was going on.
“They’re smuggling drugs in using the ducks!” he exclaimed. “Not just any old crap neither, its high.”
“What’s high?” queried Hans
“The name of the drug, it’s a magical drug called High.”
“And what does it do?” asked Chloe
“Does exactly what it says, makes yeh high!”
“Don’t all drugs do that anyway?”
“Yeh imbecile, it literally makes yeh high, yeh’d float right off if yeh’re not careful,” answered Mervin. He thought about explaining to Hans about the other magical drugs that existed. Such as Nostalgia, which was particularly addictive to those who felt depressed as it made them believe they were living in happier time in the past and just ceased to react to stimuli in the present. Or there was Blow, which gave you a high for the rest of your life, with just the tiniest drawback of your life only being another 2.4 seconds long before you exploded. Strange how they never put that on the packaging, thought Mervin. But Mervin thought better of attempting to explain this, Hans was confused by just one magical drug – who knows what learning there were more would do to him.
“Alright, so how do we put a stop to it?” asked Hans, adding, “do we call PC Plod? After all, the residual magic seemed to want him to find this.”
“No, as per usual, he won’t have a clue,” replied Mervin. “Best thing for it is if I try and raise some of the local wizarding union and we put a stop to it now. You two stay here and find Meow, but whatever you do don’t approach her,” he warned.

The Hunt For Chairman Meow

“Okay, so where do you think this Meow person will be, then?” Hans asked Chloe after they’d waved off Mervin.
“Siberia!” she replied sarcastically.
“But surely he’d be somewhere around here,” Hans replied before spotting the sarcastic tone in her reply.
Chloe was in fact always being sarcastic, it was like a way of life for her. But then if you were a vegetarian half-vampire, you’d need something to get you through the day. The weird thing for Hans was that despite usually being the object of ridicule in these sarcastic remarks, it made him more and more attracted to Chloe. Which was rather fortunate given they’d been going out for a few months now, it quite probably wouldn’t have worked out so well if he hadn’t.
“How am I supposed to know?” she asked, feeling rather flustered. Hans did have the most terrible habit of asking the most stupid questions. Instead she decided to ponder for a while and after several minutes of discussion they opted for the clichéd tactic of splitting up and look for clues. No professional investigator would have done this, as they would know that it usually means that one of them will get into some difficulties and the other(s) will have to attempt some sort of plan to rescue them from their predicament. Fortunately the writer of this story isn’t one for clichéd plot points, at least if they can avoid it.
Instead they wandered around the Transformation Inc. marquees and trailers, and eventually Hans spotted a heavily guarded trailer (or at least, with two bodyguards outside it, it was far more heavily guarded than anywhere else) and went to find Chloe to work out how what to do next.
The only problem with Hans attempting to sneak around like this, was that he wasn’t very good at it, and immediately began being followed by one of the guards. In a clichéd tale, Hans would have been captured at this point and that would be the end of this chapter, but this wasn’t to be. Instead, as Hans passed by the trailer the door suddenly opened, knocking out the man who had been tailing him. If he’d bothered to look around he would have notice that behind him on the floor, instead of the burly man who had been following him was an unconscious bulldog. But Hans was far too unobservant to notice that he had even been followed in the first place. Nevertheless, the second guard who’d just stepped out of the trailer wasn’t so incompetent and walloped Hans over the head before he could even consider the possibility of it happening.

The Empty Flat

Ted sat down on the floor with his back to the wall. He detested being here by himself, locked up with just his thoughts. It drove him mad. Well not actually mad, not mad as in thinking he was a penguin called Ulric McFoible Do-Da-Do, but it made him very, very frustrated.
Thing was he’d get obsessed with little projects just like this internet search engine upgrade. That was only the latest in a long line, amongst other things he’d spent a few months trying to work out if it was possible to help men with short hair cuts with some sort of shampoo that stopped little tufts of hair sticking up towards the back of their head. He’d purposefully grown his hair that bit longer just to avoid this problem, well that and the fact that he couldn’t really afford a proper hair cut for the last few years, what with living on the street and all.
But it was silly little projects like that which would dominate his life. He’d spend ages working away at them whilst the world went on around him. Occasionally he’d decide to pull himself out of his hermit-like isolation and actually make something of his life. But every time it was thwarted. Only two days ago he got fed up of looking at his unpainted walls and decided it was time he should go and buy a paint and brush and breathe some life into his flat. It was just his luck that the paint shop was closed for the owner going on holiday for two weeks.
And just like every other time his mind wandered onto the topic of sorting his life out he found himself staring out of his living room window, unsurprisingly attracting bizarre looks from people walking past outside. He gazed into the blue sky, wishing instead of being completely clear it was filled with various shaped clouds which he could gaze at and try to work out what they looked like. He knew that most of the population of Avysmere would kill him if he made that wish of his come true; after all it wasn’t often that the weather wasn’t driving rain here, let alone sunny. But at that moment, he felt that his boredom took precedence over anything else.
In his frustration, he turned round and lashed out at the wall with his fist, moments later realising how silly that was when his hand began to throb. All this moping around was getting him nowhere. Maybe, he thought, if he went for a walk around the block he might clear his head.

A Proposition

When Hans came to he found himself in the greenhouse. The first thing Hans felt when he woke up was relief that Chloe hadn’t attempted to sneak around trailer instead of him, being stuck in a greenhouse for a prolonged period of time would kill her, literally. The second thing was that his hands were bound behind his back.
As he began to get his bearings fully he slowly realised that he was tied to one of the posts holding up the greenhouse roof, and unfortunately was tied up next to Chloe after all. Which made him panic, tremendously whilst he waited for the writer of this story to discover some way of recounting quite how he’d got into this predicament.
“At last you’re awake,” said Chloe angrily, “If you’d only have looked where you were going you wouldn’t have run into that other trailer. I was struggling to outrun them anyway without having to drag your body along too.”
Meow approached them, flanked by two men, whom Hans and Chloe both assumed correctly to be other shapeshifters.
Hans tried to work out if any of the magic he could do would be useful. He could turn both him and Chloe invisible, but despite Meow not being able to see them in particular, with them being tied to the post it would be fairly obvious where they were. He could knock Meow out magically too, but that still left the problem of being tied to the post. Altogether his magical repertoire was somewhat limited, which upset Hans. He’d been trying so hard to learn stuff but things seemed to come fairly slowly to him. Although in theory just having to concentrate to do magic seems simple, the problem is you have to concentrate in a different way each time. Hans compared it to cooking completely different dishes – you had to learn a new recipe each time. He wasn’t particularly good at that either.
The situation was desperate but, although he didn’t think it would work, Hans had another plan. “You do know there’s a killer moose on the loose in here?” he said out of desperation.
“Oh really, so where is it then?” asked Meow, in a menacing Russian accent.
“It’s… erm… hiding… erm…in the bushes over that way,” Hans said whilst indicating with his head.
Meow indicated for one of her companions to go check it out, the man transformed into a grizzly bear and set off to check it out. Finding nothing, he came back towards Meow and reported to that effect.
“So Mr Little, I was expecting you,” said Meow. “You thought you could foil my operation, you should think again. Do you think I’m stupid?”
“No,” said Hans who was somewhat scared by this point. Not just because of the muscle that was able to change into even bigger scary animals, but also because Meow kept going towards his face with her nails in a way that made him think she was going to claw him. He’d never been a fan of claws or cats in general, but then most things that have caused you intense pain in the groin area people generally aren’t fans off.
“I have a proposition for you, Mr. Little,” Meow continued, “You may think you’re better off trying to stop me, but I think different. You have connections, you have magical talent, you have a certain boldness. Do you fancy a change in your line of work?”
Hans didn’t answer, he was too busy thinking that Meow had been spending far too much time watching old Bond films for her own good – the only thing she was missing was a cat to stroke, but then she could turn into one which kinda made up for it.
Meow scratched his face lightly, but just hard enough to draw blood. “Do I have your attention now, Mr Little?” asked Meow insistently. “As I said, I have a proposition. What do you say to the idea of working for me?”

Plodding Along

PC Plod had had an odd evening. He’d finally met one of Ms Baxter’s other personalities. When she’d first appeared with a signed note from Susan saying it was okay for him to talk to this personality, he’d been sceptical. But then he’d remembered all the trouble that Ronnie had had at school as they always believed he was forging notes from his mother as her handwriting changed with every different personality.
He thought when he met one of her other personalities that he’d be ready for it. But he hadn’t banked on meeting a personality like this though.
“Y’all alright there, young’un?” asked Ms. Baxter. Those words would have been weird enough for Sherman even if she hadn’t spoken in a rather male elderly Texan accent. “Y’ seems, a little taken aback there, name’s Earl y’know.”
Earl was Ms Baxter’s only male personality, which Sherman found rather disturbing – Susan’s body having the voice and mannerisms of a 50 year old Texan ranger who probably ought to have a big droopy moustache and be wearing one of those big old cowboy hats.
It wasn’t like the rest of the evening hadn’t been pleasant either, and even despite Earl being rather hyperactive. Indeed whilst Earl had been there they’d talked about cars and fixed the police station plumbing. And for some reason Earl had started planning a barn dance, apparently Ronnie had said something to Susan about Sherman wanting one. He was the only one of Susan’s personalities that would appear at the same time on a regular basis every week, every Tuesday in fact at precisely 4.16pm until 8.32pm – which made is what made it possible for him to make sure that the barn dance would happen for PC Plod and Susan.
But the evening was about to be spoiled, surprisingly not by Sherman doing or saying anything out of place as he had worried about earlier. Instead his mobile started ringing, it was Ronnie and it sounded like he was in trouble.
Sherman made his excuses, grabbed a coat and ran once he got outside the door. He didn’t even stop to explain to Earl/Susan what was happening to her son. He rationalised this as trying not to worry her, but he wasn’t sure who actually was in trouble, after all Ronnie had phoned him which probably meant it wasn’t him. Sherman was wondering about this so much he didn’t see Ted step out right in front of him and the two collided into each other.
Sherman stood up, dusted himself off and grabbed a surprised Ted. Rescuing someone and getting to be a hero was just the thing for severe depression he thought.

The Silent Watcher

Ronnie had been watching everything Hans and Chloe had been doing, he’d followed them all around the Duck Show. PC Plod had asked him as usual to look out for anything suspicious, and they were acting a little suspicious. More suspicious than usual in fact. Indeed Ronnie, had always been a little suspicious of Hans and Chloe, because unlike everyone else he could never tell what they were thinking about. He couldn’t work out why?
But this time they’d been even more suspicious, sneaking around – but given that they were now tied up and being held captive he didn’t suspect them of anything dodgy. Rather more suspicious were the three people, if you could call them that, which were currently holding them there. He hadn’t believed his eyes when he’d seen one of the change into a bear.
Ronnie had seen some odd things in his time, but who wouldn’t if you were living with a mother with 13 different personalities. It certainly kept him on his guard, especially when he went shopping as Teresa often emerged then and he had to be on his guard for her stealing something from the supermarket, especially shampoo. She always said she couldn’t have enough of it and rather than a regular shoplifter trying to take just one of something, Teresa would attempt to take a whole crate and hide it under her coat, which frankly looked a bit bizarre. He always found this a little odd, apart from the kleptomania, as she never seemed to steal a similar quantity of conditioner to go with it.
If anything counted as an emergency for calling PC Plod this was it, all he was doing now was waiting for him to arrive whilst watching on outside the greenhouse helplessly as he saw the scene unfolding within. His gaze was so fixed on it and the bizarreness of the shapeshifting inside that he didn’t spot Mervin sneaking up behind him.
“Ssh,” said Mervin quietly as he put his hand over Ronnie’s mouth to stop him screaming. “We can’t let them know we’re out here, we need to come up wi’ a way to save them from being ripped to shreds.”
“But surely they can’t get away with it, it’s inhuman, someone would catch them,” protested Ronnie.
“Who’s gonna believe that they could grow the huge claws to do that though. They could just say it was a pack of wild animals,” explained Mervin, “They might even say it were something like gophers!”
“But aren’t gophers tiny creatures that live in America?” enquired Ronnie.
“Yes but if yeh tell enough people, enough times that gophers are huge six-foot tall beasts that prey on tramps and the occasional unfortunate person that gets in their way, people will eventually believe yeh,” answered Mervin. “Anyways, enough question for a moment, I need to think.”
Just at that moment they say two blurs moving across the field towards the greenhouse. As they drew closer, they could tell it was PC Plod with Ted shouting something from behind him.
“I’m telling you, it won’t work,” Ted yelled between breaths as he chased after Sherman. And he was right – they both collided with the glass wall of the greenhouse and knocked themselves out.

The Rescuers

Mervin sighed. But it wasn’t just any old sigh, it was the one Mervin had been perfecting for when younger people did something rash and stupid.
They had of course, attracted the attention of the guards who had immediately come over to find out what on earth had just happened. It was time for Mervin to hatch his plan.
“How come none of them have spotted us here yet?” asked Ronnie
“I’ve put an invisibility bubble around us,” replied Mervin
“Oh, how does that work?” queried Ronnie and then thought for a second and added, “I thought that invisibility stuff usually came in cloak form?”
“What’s the point in an invisible cloak? If the cloak’s invisible then surely people can see yeh the same anyway, the only use it would be was if yeh was somewhere cold, but didn’t want to make people feel uncomfortable for not putting the heating on,” he answered, ignoring the first question as he attempted to come up with a solution to their current problems. “I’ve got a plan, but it may seem a little odd.”
“As odd as invisibility bubbles?”
“Possibly,” answered Mervin, adding “here it comes” before pausing just a few seconds for effect.
“Right, yeh’ve just gotta imagine there’s a rampaging moose in there,” ordered Mervin
Although it was possibly the most bizarre thing that Ronnie had ever been asked to do, he went with it. After all, it wasn’t like he had a better plan. And he was sure someone had been saying something about moose and greenhouses in the village a few months ago. He’d always thought that the natural habitat of moose wasn’t greenhouses but was actually the open highlands of some cold country somewhere, but given his mum occasionally had the personality of an alien he could see that anything was possible.


“You really don’t understand do you?” enquired Meow. “I had such high hopes though, we could have been brilliant.”
“But it isn’t about the money,” protested Hans. And for Hans it wasn’t. If he was honest he would admit it came in handy, and he was glad he’d bought the castle for all the things that had happened in his life since. But he’d also come to the conclusion that castle’s were lots of hard work – you never realise how much repair work needs doing with them, just about everything leaks, and in a castle that’s been permeated by lots of magic occasionally the leaks leak leeks. People also never seem to realise how cold they are either, fortunately magical heating is much cheaper than conventional methods.
Plus if they lived in a flat then he wouldn’t be living in the same house as his girlfriend’s dad. No matter how scared he was now, fathers of girls he had dated could be much scarier. There must be some unwritten code, he thought, that means that as a father you have to attempt to terrify any one he might even possibly become a future son-in-law. For starters, there’s the menacing looks, the attempting to crush your hand every time they shake it and the various other things you feel like you’re compelled to do as some sort of male bonding session. The weird thing was that it had got to the stage where Hans really wanted a daughter at some point in his life so he could have a go at doing that as it looked fun. He wasn’t particularly sure whether that was such a good reason to bring a child into the world though.
“It’s always about money, it keeps me in yachts, cars and cat nip.” Retorted Meow, “And you could have had it too, but you are too righteous, too judgemental, too damned nice for your own good.”
If anything, Hans’ strongest motivation was that he wasn’t sure how long Chloe would last in the greenhouse. Being outside during the day was hard enough on her, but in a greenhouse that was designed to magnify the sunlight was even worse. Hans was worried that she had hardly spoken, surely she’d have given Meow one or two witty retorts. Certainly she was a damn sight better at it than Hans was, the best he’d managed so far was ignoring Meow who seemed to be picking up his concern.
“You are a fool,” she cried out, turning and walking away “So be it, if you wish to be abandoned here and consign your girlfriend to torment…”
“You wish,” whispered Chloe barely able to speak.
Meow whipped around, “What did you say?”
“I said, you wish,” replied Chloe. “I mean it’s not like he didn’t warn you earlier,” she added as an imaginary, invisible moose collided with Meow’s back.
Of course, to the casual observer (not that there were many around the greenhouse), all you would see would be Meow sent flying into the air and transforming automatically, because of shock, into her feline form.
The reader will no doubt want to know the juicy details of what happens when a rampaging moose is unleashed on a scheming villain and her two henchmen. But if you were really reading that for blood and gore, then you’ve already read most of the story without it, what on earth is making you think it’s gonna change now. And given it’s an imaginary moose it has to be apt that the reader has to imagine the bone-crunching experience they were now being put through.
Surely, you must be thinking, Meow and her henchmen could transform into some sort of vicious creatures that could take down said moose. For starters, it’s hard enough when said moose is invisible to even know where it is to attack it. But real beauty of this situation is that the moose is imaginary anyway, and how can you injure something that doesn’t exist? You can’t and as a result they were soon laying in crumpled heaps on the floor.


Sherman was frozen as the camera began to roll; he’d never been on national TV before. He simply had never prepared himself for it, when he’d joined the force he’d wanted to be a police radio operator, but they wouldn’t let him in as his name wasn’t either Charlie, Mike, Oscar, Romeo or Victor. And when he was posted to a village like Avysmere he didn’t think anything all that relevant to the rest of the world would happen there.
But he slowly recovered himself, although he’d couldn’t remember much, he’d been told that he’d charged in and saved the day, foiling a scheme to drug millions, and he recounted this to the interviewer.
“And what would you say to those who suggest a rampaging, invisible moose played some part in today’s proceedings?” asked the reporter.
Sherman took a deep breath, composed himself and replied, “Today’s arrest was down to solid police work.”
“But we have witness who has indicated there was,” said the reporter pointing to Dave.
“You do know he’s known as Crazy Dave?” enquired Sherman, “But I can’t reveal any more information without compromising operational security, thank you.” He was quite pleased with himself as he walked off, with more performances like that he could become a career politician he thought.