When mysterious things start appearing on the vacant block at the end of their street - Mum and Tammy's imaginations run wild.
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Hello and welcome to ‘Bedtime Stories with me R.A. Spratt
Before we begin today, I want to say a big that you to everyone who has donated via the ‘buymeacoffee’ link. It makes a huge difference. The podcast is now breaking even and I am fully caffinated. Which makes me happy on two fronts. So thank you so much.
But you’re here for a story so let’s get started. This weeks it is…
A tall tale about bees and alien invasion
Here we go…
Mum, Tammy and Stanley the dog, were out taking a walk before school started. It was a cold, wet morning. Tammy did not want to be there. She wanted to be at home waiting for her the start of her zoom with her class. Tammy did not like being late. But Mum did not like Tammy sitting in the house all day slowly turning into a vegetable.
‘If you don’t move occasionally, mould will start to grow on you, then fungus, then algae will grow in the fungus and become lichen,’ said Mum. ‘Then a bird will burrow into your trunk and lay eggs and before you know it - you’ll be a habitat - then the wildlife people will stick up fencing all around you and declare you an area of significant natural heritage and you’ll never be able to move again,’ said Mum.
‘You’re obsessed with fungus,’ accused Tammy.
Mum nodded. ‘It’s true. I love a brightly coloured fungus on a fallen log. Or toadstool that suddenly appears fully grown in the middle of the lawn. It’s magical how they go from not there to there.
‘Really boring magic,’ said Tammy. ‘It’s hardly something out of Harry Potter. Abra-ca-fungus’.
‘Mmm, fungus is delicious when it’s in beef stroganoff,’ said Mum. ‘But I don’t want fungus growing on you. That would make me look like a bad mother.’
Tammy made a scoffing sound. ‘Yeah, too late there.’
‘I suppose I do a few other things that may lead people to make that conclusion,’ said Mum.
‘Like the long socks,’ said Tammy.
It embarrassed Tammy that Mum liked to wear long socks everywhere, often with messages written in big bold print up them like ‘hangry’ and ‘beast mode’.
And Mum didn’t just wear these socks around the house, she wore them when she walked Tammy to school in the morning, when she was going to actual physical school, so all the buses drove past and everyone saw.
‘And your interpretive dancing,’ added Tammy.
‘That’s no fair,’ said Mum. ‘I don’t do interpretive dance in public places for myself. I do that to annoy you, when I have to punish you for something. It’s for your own good. That is good parenting.’
‘Uhuh,’ said Tammy. There was no point making a coherent argument with mum. She would only make an incoherent argument back.
‘Anyway, because of these unwarranted misconceptions some people may have about my parenting skills based on outward appearances, we do have to maintain some standards,’ said Mum. ‘We can’t let fungus grow on you because you’re more stationary than a dead tree, so you have to take a walk at least once a day. It’s for you own good.’
‘It’s raining,’ said Tammy. ‘If I get a cold because you made me walk in the rain. That will be your fault.’
‘A cold is caused by a virus,’ said Mum. ‘You can’t catch a virus from rain.’
‘I’m going to have to change my clothes when we get home,’ said Tammy.
‘Yes, well that’s probably not a bad thing,’ said Mum. Tammy had a talent for getting food all over her clothes.
‘Eurch,’ grunted Tammy.
‘It’s only a short walk around the block,’ said Mum. ‘It only takes 17 minutes I know because I timed it. In Africa, children have to run fifty miles each day to get to and from school.’
‘Fifty miles?’ asked Tammy.
‘Perhaps not literally fifty miles,’ conceded Mum. ‘But a long way. And often in snow storms.’
‘Snow storms in Africa?’ asked Tammy.
‘Yes, which is why it’s so bad,’ said Mum. ‘Because it’s unexpected so they’re never dressed for it. If the African children have forgotten to take their snow shoes to school that day, they have to borrow two tennis rackets from the school and tie them to their feet with their shoe laces so they can get home. And it’s ever so hard to run in show shoes made out of tennis rackets.’
‘Everything you know about snow shoes you learned from TV cartoons didn’t you,’ said Tammy.
‘Well I live in Australia,’ said Mum. ‘We have even less call for snow shoes here than they do in Africa. But they don’t look like they’d be easy to run in.’
‘From what you’ve seen in Bugs Bunny cartoons,’ said Tammy.
‘Bugs Bunny cartoons can be very informative,’ said Mum. ‘They’re very pro-carrots. And carrots are good for you bowels.’
‘You’re obsessed with bowels too,’ said Tammy.
‘It doesn’t do to ignore your bowels,’ said Mum.
They were just crossing the creek and turning onto the main round, where there was a vacant block.
Mum and Tammy looked in through the wire fence. A beekeeper kept hives there in the middle of the vacant block, and in recent weeks there were more and more hives every day. There were about 30 stacked white hives now. Mum and Tammy always stopped to look.
A vacant lot with 30 bee hives is much more interesting than a vacant lot with no bee hives.
Just the previous week someone had put up a pagoda over the top of some of the hives. It looked like a stable from a nativity play where all the parts were played by bee hives.
It was definitely odd to have a vacant lot with bee hives and a stable from a nativity play.
Then two days earlier a shipping container had appeared near the stable.
‘The bee hives and the stable look so nice,’ said Mum. ‘But the shipping container – not so much.’
‘What do you suppose is inside?’ asked Tammy.
‘‘People smuggle things in shipping containers,’ said Mum. People smuggle people in shipping containers. Perhaps it’s full of people.’
‘Nah,’ said Tammy. ‘If it was full of people, they’d come out and have a look around town.’
‘You’re thinking of the sweet shop aren’t you?’ said Mum.
Tammy shrugged. She had been thinking of the sweet shop. She couldn’t imagine anyone coming to their town and not wanting to go there. To her mind it was a much more significant attraction that the museum or the gardens or even the giant potato.
‘Perhaps the shipping container is full of contraband,’ said Mum. ‘Illegal things. Like doomsday devices and radioactive materials.’
‘Kinder surprise eggs are illegal in the United States of America,’ said Tammy.
‘Now that would be something,’ said Mum. ‘If it was a whole shipping container full of chocolate kinder surprise eggs.’
‘They’re banned in America because the toys inside are choking hazards,’ said Tammy.
‘Just think how many people you could choke with a whole shipping container load,’ said Mum.
‘A lot,’ said Tammy.
‘You could take out all your enemies,’ said Mum.
‘If they were silly enough to eat the toys,’ said Tammy.
‘They’d have to be silly to be your enemy,’ said Mum. ‘Because you’re so lovely.’
Tammy rolled her eyes, but she did secretly quite like the compliment.
They were standing there looking at the shipping container, lost in their own thoughts when suddenly the door on the side opened and a man stepped out.
‘Someone’s coming out!’ said Mum.
But this was not the most remarkable thing about the sight. The most remarkable thing was what he was wearing. He had on baggy while trousers, a baggy white jacket, thick white gloves and a broad brimmed white hat with a veil all the way around.
Now Mum and Tammy both immediately recognised that this was a man dressed in a beekeeper’s protective suit, which made complete sense given the bee hives.
But neither Mum nor Tammy would ever let good sense or reality cloud their lack of judgement. Their imaginations went into over-drive. They watched the man in his strange white outfit walk awkwardly towards the hives. The outfit was so bulky he walked with a strange gate. His legs were wider apart and he walked slower than normal, like he was worried he would trip over and crash head first into a bee hive.
‘He looks just like a crime scene investigator,’ said Mum.
‘He looks just like some one from a movie who is inspecting the crash sight of an alien space craft,’ said Tammy.
‘He looks like someone from outer space,’ agreed Mum. ‘Perhaps he is an alien! It would be so cool if aliens invaded our planet and landed right here at the end of our street. Such luck.’
‘Or perhaps he’s just a beekeeper,’ said Tammy, she was often the first to revert to being sensible.
‘Or,’ said Mum. ‘Perhaps the whole thing with the bees is just the cover for an alien invasion.’
Tammy looked at her.
‘It would be perfect,’ said Mum. ‘He gets to wear the ridiculous space suit and everyone thinks its perfectly normal because he’s just a beekeeper. Meanwhile he’s recording all the information he can about us and transmitting it back to his home planet.’
‘What sort of information?’ asked Tammy.
‘Well, if you were an alien from another planet and you landed here in our town, what information would you send back?’ asked Mum.
‘I’d send back lollies from the sweet shop,’ said Tammy.
‘Good thinking,’ said Mum. ‘And that fits. He brought an alien space ship in the shape of a shipping container so he can carry the lollies back to his people.’
‘They’ll definitely want to colonize our planet once they try the gummy bears,’ said Tammy.
‘And the sherbet bon bons,’ said Mum.
‘We’re doomed,’ said Tammy.
‘Unless this alien is greedy and wants to keep them all to himself,’ said Mum. ‘In which case he won’t send them back.’
‘He’ll just send back liquorice bullets,’ said Tammy. She didn’t care for liquorice.
‘And those hard boiled lollies that old people like,’ said Mum.
‘And aniseed drops,’ said Tammy. ‘Blurgh.’
‘And maybe some brussel sprouts,’ said Mum.
‘They’re not lollies,’ said Tammy.
‘No, but he’d tell his leader they were lollies to really put them off coming here,’ said Mum.
‘Then we’d be safe,’ said Tammy.
They watched the man/alien-invader puff smoke over one of the hives.
‘Do you think we should report him to the police,’ said Mum.
‘Nah,’ said Tammy. ‘My zoom is in five minutes. We don’t have time.’
‘Okay,’ said Mum, checking her watch. ‘But if the whole world is taken over by aliens later, I’m going to blame you.’
‘Let’s go to the sweet shop this afternoon,’ said Tammy. ‘If he has bought out all the lollies, then we’ll report him to the police.’
‘Good idea,’ said Mum. ‘We should gather some evidence first. We should buy some lollies and test them by eating them, you know, just in case the aliens have swapped them out.’
‘We’d need to be sure,’ agreed Tammy. ‘We should probably go back and test them every couple of days. We never know when the aliens may attack.’
‘Of course,’ said Mum. ‘We have to, for the survival of the planet.’
With that decided, they ambled back towards their house. Tammy was happy that she had just tricked Mum into letting her go to the sweet shop that afternoon. And Mum was happy that she had just tricked Tammy into agreeing to walk to the sweet shop. The end.
That’s it for now. Until next time. Goodbye.