by Dawn Knox
hot chocolate (with some marshmallows if possible)
Previously, Eddie’s plan to earn some much-needed cash in a department store backfires when Brian is mistaken for a toy and purchased. Unfortunately, his new owner is accident-prone and, for a bear cub, very determined. It’s a life or death situation for Brian, so whose nerve will crack first?
Brian pushed the box away, “No, I’m not getting in there. I get claustrophobia.”
“But you’re a doll, dear. Dolls don’t get claustrophobia,” Ma Bear said patiently.
“I’ve told you, I’m not a doll, I’m a monkey. Why won’t you listen?”
“Well, I suppose it’s because I’ve never held a conversation with a toy before, dear.”
“But I’m not a toy!”
The door handle rattled.
“Mama! Who’re you talking to?” A piping voice came through the door.
“I’m just talking to myself, dear. Don’t come in, I’m wrapping Christmas presents for Santa. Go and do some colouring. And don’t put anything up your nose. Remember what happened the last time?”
“Okay. But I’m bored of colouring. Why can’t I open the door?”
“Because I’ve locked it, dear. I just need a few more minutes and I’ll be done.” Ma Bear looked doubtfully at Brian; his arms were crossed over his pink satin-clad chest, his expression was resolute and just in case there was any doubt, he shook his head.
“Please, dear,” she added, nudging the box gently towards him.
There was a tinkle and a thud on the other side of the locked door.
“Whoops!” said the reedy voice.
“Oh, Joey! Not the tree again!”
“Sorry Mama. It wasn’t me though. I didn’t touch it. Honest!”
Ma Bear put down the scissors and sticky tape and walked to the door.
“We’ll continue our conversation later, dear,” she said wearily over her shoulder to Brian.
“Any chance of some food? I’m famished,” said Brian, “I haven’t eaten since breakfast.”
“I wasn’t expecting to have to feed you,” Ma Bear said, looking at him quizzically. She opened the door and locked it behind her. Brian ran to the window and peered out on to the lamp-lit street outside. He had no idea where he was and suspected from the length of the journey from Honkin & Sniffet Department Store, to the Bears’ house, he was miles from Hummus-on-Sea. There was no point escaping tonight, a few snowflakes fluttered down into the frosty street and his breath had already misted the window pane. No, he would have to find out where he was first and then acquire something warmer than his tutu to wear or he’d freeze to death before he reached the end of the street.
The door handle rattled.
Ma Bear’s voice came from outside, “Joey, dear! Stop trying to get into my bedroom, you know we don’t keep the dustpan and brush there. Now be a good cub and go and get it from the scullery. And mind where you’re walking, the broken glass seems to have got everywhere…”
“Joey, I told you to be careful!”
Ma Bear slipped back into the bedroom about an hour later with a plate of toast and honey. She had pine needles, bits of broken bauble, tinsel and something sticky in her fur.
“Joey’s eating, so I thought I’d come back and finish the parcels… Oh, but you’ve wrapped everything! How wonderful!” She beamed at Brian.
“Here,” she said placing the plate in front of him and staring at him intently.
Brian took an enormous bite from one of the pieces of toast and groaned with pleasure, “Mmm, that’s good!”
“So, you really aren’t a toy!”
“Finally!” said Brian, “What convinced you?”
“I’ve never seen a toy eat - so you really are a monkey?”
“Oh dear! This is going to be very tricky. Joey isn’t exactly careful with toys – or with anything, for that matter. I don’t fancy your chances of still being alive by Christmas lunch. No, no, we can’t have that, dear! It’s one thing Joey breaking toys but quite another breaking a real monkey… And then there’s Pa. He’s going to be really cross after paying so much for you. Not that it’s your fault, of course, dear! But this is so difficult—"
There was a crash from outside, followed by “Whoops!”
“What are you doing, Joey?” Ma Bear asked sharply.
“The chair fell over. It wasn’t me. I’ll pick it up, don’t worry.”
Ma Bear cradled her head in her hands, “Sometimes, I feel completely overwhelmed… and my head is throbbing so…”
“Why don’t you put a DVD on for Joey and then go and have a bath. Relax for a while.”
“But there’s so much to do, dear! I need to clean up the kitchen, and then there’s Pa’s dinner to see to…”
“Just put a movie on in…” Brian paused. He was about to say in his bedroom but he still had no idea whether the cub was male or female and it seemed rather rude to ask. “Um, put a movie on in Joey’s bedroom and leave the kitchen and dinner to me,” said Brian.
“Oh, you are a darling! I’ll put Lornsquit on. It lasts for an hour and a half. But make sure you keep out of Joey’s sight. I hate to think what’ll happen if you’re found.”
“Don’t worry, I can handle myself.”
“I’m not sure you’ve ever come up against anyone as determined as my Joey…”
It had taken Brian over an hour to clean up the mess in the kitchen. Then he’d opened random tins, the contents of which, he dropped into a saucepan. Brian hoped Pa Bear liked beans because there seemed to be quite a few different varieties in the pot, including red, green, black and baked beans. A tin labelled in Chinese text had yielded some round, white things that looked suspiciously like eyeballs but as half of them had slipped in before he’d realised, he threw the rest in too. The rhubarb may not have been a wise decision, but it was too late now and the concoction smelled quite pleasant as it gently bubbled on the stove. There was still no sign of Ma Bear and judging by the snores coming from the bathroom, she’d be there until the water got cold. He went back to her bedroom. Locking the door, he decided against putting the light on, and curled up in the chair in front of the fire – he’d have a short nap too – it had been a very long, fraught day.
Brian was woken by the rattle of the door handle. Was it Ma Bear? Should he unlock the door?
“Whoops!” said a piping voice from outside as something clattered to the floor. A large, wooden object bumped against the door and then there were sounds of exertion, as if Joey were climbing, followed by something metallic scraping at the lock. Did the cub have a key? Brian leapt up and looked for somewhere to hide. There were plenty of places to conceal himself but if the cub were determined and the water in Ma Bear’s bath slow to cool down, he’d be found eventually.
Scrape, scratch, rasp.
Brian looked about wildly. The wardrobe? No, too obvious. Under the bed? Not enough room. A drawer? Brian pulled open the top drawer and pushed the contents to one side. It was Pa Bear’s underwear drawer. The pants and socks were enormous, in fact, an odd sock that was lying on top of the untidy heap, was almost as big as him.
Scratch, rasp, scrape… thump.
Brian had an idea. He quickly slipped out of the ballet tutu and shoes, dropped them on the floor and grabbed the scissors that Ma had been using to trim wrapping paper. He cut two small holes in the toe of the sock and dragging it over his head, he pulled it down to his knees. It was a snug fit and his arms were pinned to his side but he could see out of the eye-holes perfectly. Rolling the sock up so his arms were free, he leapt on to the chest of drawers next to the door, turned the key, opened the door and quickly pulled the sock down to his ankles.
On the other side of the door, Joey was standing on a stool, poised with a screwdriver.
“What you doin’, Kid?” Brian asked in a deep, gruff voice.
Joey blinked and peered into the dark bedroom.
“I’m askin’ the questions, Kiddo,” said Brian.
“Well, I was jus’ trying to get into the bedroom. I…I.”
“You’ve been told to keep out!”
“Don’t answer back! Now go to your room and finish watching Lornsquirt.”
“Squit, it’s Lornsquit not Lornsquirt. Don’t you know anything? Anyway, how d’you know I was watching Lornsquit?” Joey leaned forward to see who was speaking and catching sight of Brian, he gasped. “Are you a talking sock?”
“No,” said Brian, “I’m the Evil Christmas Stocking,”
The cub was silent for a few moments, “There’s no such thing.”
Brian stepped out into the light, “Do I look like a stocking?”
“I s’pose you do a bit,” Joey said.
“And is it Christmas?”
“What colour am I?”
“So, what does that make me?”
“The Evil Christmas Stocking?”
“But what is an Evil Christmas Stocking?”
“It’s obvious, Kiddo! If Santa makes a mistake and delivers presents to a child who hasn’t been good throughout the year, I find out, and then gobble those presents up.”
Joey was silent for a few seconds.
“That can’t be true. If you ate lots of presents, you’d be big and fat.”
“For goodness sake,” Brian muttered under his breath.
“Well, I didn’t want to get too technical, Kiddo but have you heard of black holes?”
“What, like there are in space?”
“Yes, I’ve heard of them, in fact, there are some black holes in Lornsquit. The Squeep Hunters go into one when they’re looking for the Pyrovaspians and they never come out…” Joey paused, “do you mean…?”
“Exactly, Kid. Toys go in and they never come out. In fact, sometimes kids go in and they never come out…”
“Oh!” Joey’s jaw dropped open.
“So, you’d better go to your room and do as you’re told.”
“But the Pyrovaspians escape. So, it can’t be that dangerous.”
“Are you a Pyrovaspian, Kiddo?”
“Then that’s not going to help you.”
“What are you doing?” Brian asked, stepping backwards away from Joey’s outstretched paw.
“I want to look in the black hole.”
“No, no! You can’t do that!” The deep voice Brian had been using rose an octave.
“Because, because… yes, it’s because when you get too close to a black hole, the magnetic forces suck you in and you’ll never get out.”
“Oh… So how close do you have to be?”
“Well, I’d suggest you move back a bit, I can feel the magnetic forces pulling at the moment.”
Joey moved back slightly.
“Now, go back to your room ̶ “
“When there’s a baddy, you always get a goody, so if you’re the Evil Christmas Stocking, there must be a Good Christmas Stocking.”
“Possibly…” Brian hesitated wondering if he was being lured into some sort of trap.
“And would the Good Christmas Stocking look like you, except be white?”
“Yes,” said Brian uncertainly.
“So, does it have a white hole in it, like you’ve got a black hole?"
“Yes. Now, go back to your bedroom, Kid.”
“And would the Good Christmas Stocking beat you in a fight?”
“But it might?”
“No, it wouldn’t. Now, back to your bedroom.”
“And, how would I know if a white sock is the Good Christmas Stocking or just a white sock?”
“Umm, well… oh yes… it whistles Jingle Bells.”
“Yes, now go back to your bedroom, like a good cub.”
Joey thought for a moment, “How do I know you’re telling the truth?”
“For crying out loud,” Brian muttered under his breath. Perhaps he should simply run? He turned and spotted the discarded tutu and ballet shoes on the floor.
“Well, your talking monkey fairy doll didn’t believe me and now she’s gone.”
Joey saw the tutu and shoes, and gasped.
“And the longer you stay here arguing…”
“I’ll be good. Really I will. I’ll go and watch Lornsquit and then I’ll do a jigsaw puzzle.” Joey slowly edged backwards away from the Evil Christmas Stocking and fell off the stool.
“I can’t believe it, dear! Joey’s finished watching the film and is tidying his underwear drawer. It’s a miracle. And I feel so much better after my bath. Dinner smells delicious, by the way. Now, why don’t you curl up in front of the fire and I’ll bring you hot chocolate and marshmallows.”
Brian settled down in the rocking chair and dozed. He’d put the tutu and ballet shoes back on and tucked the Evil Christmas Stocking sock under the cushion in case the bear cub should return.
He woke several hours later to the sound of raised voices.
“Quick, we need to hide you!” said Ma Bear, rushing into the bedroom, “Pa’s home and I don’t want him to see you.” She tucked Brian under her arm and carried him into the spare room. “Stay here. And I’m sorry about the noise but Joey’s superglued herself to the carpet. I blame Lornsquit. Those films fill cubs’ heads with nonsense. She says she won’t get sucked into a black hole if she’s stuck to the floor. But why she needed to stick all her socks together, I’ll never know. Well, sleep tight. It’s going to be a long night for me. Pa’s using hair clippers to trim some of Joey’s fur away and try to free her but she’s adamant she wants to stay stuck. She says she’s never leaving her bedroom again. By the way, there’s a box of chocolates on the cupboard.
So, Joey was a female cub. Male or female, she was one of the most determined creatures Brian had ever met.
“And don’t worry. As soon as I can, I’ll take you back to Hummus-on-Sea to your friends, out of harm’s way, dear,” Ma Bear said.
“No hurry,” said Brian, lifting the lid of the chocolates and helping himself.
Links to previous stories in The Macaroon Chronicles series
- The Macaroon Chronicles Prologue and the Three Wise Monkeys - http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-macaroon-chronicles-prologue-and.html?m=0
- #ChickenInCustard - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/chickenincustard.html
- The Fine Print - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/the-fine-print.html
- French for Cheese - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/french-for-cheese.html
- Porkies and Espiggy-onage (Lies and Spies) – https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/03/porkies-and-espiggy-onage-lies-and-spies.html
- https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/03/nearly-death-by-chocolate.html Nearly Death by Chocolate -
- Waxing Lyrical - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/03/waxing-lyrical.html
- Seduced by Zeros - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/04/seduced-by-zeros.html
- Soup-Legs - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/04/soup-legs.html
- The Year’s Most Popular Christmas Toy - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/04/the-years-most-popular-christmas-toy.html
About the author
Dawn’s latest book is ’The Basilwade Chronicles’ published by Chapeltown Books. She enjoys writing in different genres and has had romances, speculative fiction, sci-fi, humorous and women’s fiction published in magazines, anthologies and books. Dawn has also had two plays about World War One performed internationally. You can follow her here on https://dawnknox.com, Facebook here DawnKnoxWriter or on Twitter here https://twitter.com/SunriseCalls