Authors: Colin Thompson
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The Floods 3: Home & Away
ePub ISBN 9781864715712
Kindle ISBN 9781864717006
This work is fictitious. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.
Random House Australia Pty Ltd
Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060
First published by Random House Australia 2006
Copyright Â© Colin Thompson 2006
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian
Copyright Act 1968
), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia.
Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at
National Library of Australia
Thompson, Colin (Colin Edward).
Home and Away.
For primary school children.
ISBN 978 1 74166 032 6.
ISBN 1 74166 032 7.
I. Title. (Series: Thompson, Colin (Colin Edward) The Floods; 3).
Illustrations by Colin Thompson
who was born on 7 January 2006,
but is actually 287 years old.
If you haven't read the first two Floods books, you probably don't know that the Floods are a family of witches and wizards who live at numbers 11 and 13 Acacia Avenue â an ordinary street in an ordinary town, just the sort of place you or I might live.
(The little number you can see at the end of the previous sentence refers to a footnote at the bottom of this page. It does not mean there is something written on your foot.)
You can read all about Acacia Avenue and how the Floods came to own two houses and get rid of the neighbours from hell in the first Floods book,
Nerlin and Mordonna Flood have seven children. The eldest, Valla, has left school and is the manager of the local blood bank, a job he got by draining the blood out of the previous manager and all the other applicants who applied to replace him.
The next five Flood children go to a wonderful school for witches and wizards in Patagonia called Quicklime College. You can read all about this school â which makes Hogwarts look like a really boring TAFE â in the second Floods book,
Betty, the youngest of the Floods, goes to an ordinary school a few streets away, and you'll be able to read about Sunnyview Primary School and Betty's nerdy new friend, Ffiona, in the next Floods book,
Nerlin and Mordonna have not always lived
in Acacia Avenue. They both come from a land far, far away, a dark secretive country hidden in unmapped mountains and deep gloomy valleys between Transylvania and the endless pine forests of deepest Russia. You won't find it on a map, because any map-makers who have ventured into this land over the centuries have been turned into garden gnomes. This is not a place anyone ever visits for a holiday. In fact, it is the only country in the world without a tourist board.
The country where Mordonna and Nerlin were born is called Transylvania Waters. The witches, wizards, gremlins, zombies, corpses and other creatures of the night who live, or half-live, in Transylvania Waters are terrible snobs.
They are always showing off with things like turbo broomsticks and Versace magic wands covered in black sapphires. They are forever boasting how their skin is the whitest and their baby smells as if it has been dead longer than anyone else's. Nearly everyone in Transylvania Waters is like this, except the Dirt People.
Although they are wizards too, the Dirt People spend their entire lives underground, cleaning the lavatories from below and burrowing up into coffins to nibble all the meat off the fresh corpses so their bones are sparkling white. The Dirt People are treated terribly. If an above-ground creature is feeling angry or mean â which they are most of the time, especially when they find their neighbour has skin that is two shades whiter than theirs â they pour boiling blood down the drain just to scald the Dirt People.
The Dirt People were once the noblest witches and wizards who ever lived. In fact, the most famous wizard of all, Merlin, was himself one of the Dirt People. Exactly how they were reduced to living such terrible, oppressed lives is a long and complicated story involving international intrigue, huge amounts of gold, extremely white skin, badly fitting tights and a beige cockerel called Norman, a story that may well be revealed at a later date.
Nerlin Flood was one of the Dirt People and a direct descendant of Merlin, but he knew little of
his glorious ancestry. Until he was twelve, he never even saw the light of day, unless it was the weak glow reflected down the lavatory bowls above him. There were no teachers or school for the children of the Dirt People, who huddled together in damp tunnels and caves. Their only education was in the art of drain navigation and lavatory cleaning, so that when they began work at the age of twelve and someone shouted, âGrease and gristle blockage at 17 Goitre Street!' they would know where to go and what hat to wear.
This life had turned the Dirt People into a downtrodden, flushed-over race of beings who were too defeated to even feel depressed. They may have once ruled the world and had great magic at their fingertips, but an evil spell had been cast over them to make them forget. Even if it dawned on someone that there could possibly be a better life somewhere else, there was no escape. The manhole covers were bolted down and the outlets barred with heavy steel gratings.
Sometimes the spirit of Nerlin's ancestor, the
legendary Merlin, spoke to Nerlin while he was asleep, but all Nerlin could hear was a faint crackling whisper and the occasional word like âExcalibur' and âBelgium'. It was enough to make him realise there might be something else to life, somewhere else to live â somewhere that didn't grow mould that tried to eat you, maybe a place where it was bright enough to not keep banging into things.
âNow, now, son,' said his father. âThoughts like that only lead to unhappiness.'
âI thought that was where we lived already,' said Nerlin.
âJust accept life as it is, or you'll end up like Uncle Knute.'
No one would ever tell him how Uncle Knute had ended up, but Nerlin imagined it was not very nice as all that remained of his uncle was a pincushion made of his left buttock.
So the years passed and Nerlin tried to stop thinking. He immersed himself in his work as a lavatory-from-beneath cleaner, which was not pleasant. Sometimes in the evenings he would go
and sit by the big grating where all the drains flowed out over the sheer drop into Lake Tarnish. There he could dream to his heart's content, at least for a few precious minutes, until the toxic chemicals that floated softly in the fumes made large pieces of his skin start falling off. Nerlin would then crawl away to his bed of mouldy paper and dream of what might lie beyond the yellow fumes. He knew so little that all he could imagine was more fumes, maybe in a different colour.
And then, one wonderful day, when Nerlin was eighteen years old, everything changed. Something unheard-of happened, something so magical that it must have been fate.
Mordonna was also eighteen, and was ravishingly beautiful. She was the most beautiful girl in the whole
of Transylvania Waters, and to make it even more unfair on all the other girls in the country, she was also the heir to the throne, the eldest daughter of King Nombre-Sept-Ã-Quatorze.
To make it triply unfair, she was staggeringly intelligent, a brilliant cook and had very, very, very white skin and extremely well-fitting tights.
But Mordonna was a prisoner of her own wonderfulness, for this poor creature had spent her entire life in the castle. The tall walls that surrounded the castle gardens were a jail that she was never allowed to leave. Since no one would ever be good enough to be allowed to marry Mordonna, the King had all the gates locked except one, and that was guarded by two giant Cyclops, who were in no doubt what would happen to them if they let the princess leave. They would be granted the King's favourite gift, the gift he liked to give to
his enemies. They would go water-skiing on Lake Tarnish.
Throughout her childhood, Mordonna had spent many hours crouched at the foot of the castle wall, listening to the world outside. She could hear
the hustle and bustle of the town, the talking and shouting and laughing. She could taste the air with its exciting smells as the common people lived their strange and fascinating lives. Even the birds that sometimes flew over the wall seemed brighter and happier than those that lived around the castle. Her heart overflowed with loneliness and misery.
âI wish I could just be an ordinary person like everyone else,' she would say to any of the servants who would listen.
âYeah right,' they would reply, totally not believing a word of it.
âWho does she think she is?' they would say to each other later. âShe has everything times ten that anyone could dream of and all she can do is moan about it.'
Mordonna's only happiness was her garden, where she grew every poisonous plant known to man, from deadly nightshade to the Destroying Angel mushroom.
She fed them to her sister, Howler.
Howler was everything Mordonna was not: stupid, ugly, the proud possessor of a spectacular lump, with three eyes, several green teeth and a map of Belgium tattooed on her left leg. Howler also wore the baggiest tights in the whole of Transylvania Waters, and in the baggiest bit round the ankles she kept her pet leech, Queasymodo, and several families of slugs in case she felt a bit peckish between meals. It was impossible to tell if she was older or younger than Mordonna â especially as she spent most of her life in a cellar full of warty
toads where, at least, no one thought she was ugly. In fact, it was hard to imagine the two sisters were even related apart from the beautiful eyelashes they both shared, though Mordonna's only grew on her eyelids.
âCouldn't you do some magic and make me beautiful like you?' Howler begged Mordonna.
âI don't think there's a spell that would be powerful enough,' Mordonna replied.
She felt sorry for Howler and did try. She experimented on one of the warty toads, but it ended up worse rather than better. The sight of her creation â a 25-kilogram purple warty toad that croaked in Belgian and wore tights that were so baggy it couldn't hop more that a few centimetres without tangling itself up in a knot â made Mordonna too scared to have another go.
âAt least you have your freedom,' she said to Howler. This is because the King, realising Howler's chances of finding true or even false love were almost nil, did not keep her confined to the castle grounds. In fact, he encouraged her to go out
as often as possible in the hope that someone or something would come along and take her off his hands. She usually ended up at the sewerage works, where she felt most at home.
While he kept Mordonna a prisoner, King Quatorze sent secret agents around the world to find a prince worthy of Mordonna's hand.
âHe must be incredibly handsome, incredibly intelligent and incredibly rich â and of course he has to be a prince,' said the King. âThat is all I ask. Go and find me a Prince Charming.'
His agents searched high and low.
âAll right then,' said the King as he tore up the last of the photos. âHe must look fairly human, be not too stupid and seriously incredibly rich.'
The King's agents had another look.
âWell,' the King sighed as he tore up the new batch of photos, âjust find someone staggeringly rich and still breathing and preferably with a chin and ears that don't move in the wind.'
Which, of course, ruled England out.
âDaddy,' said Mordonna, as she tore up the final four photos, âI will go water-skiing on Lake Tarnish in a blotting-paper bikini before I will marry any of them.'
âBut, my angel,' pleaded the King, who had spent all the money in Transylvania Waters on cake and garden gnomes of himself, âI am only thinking of your happiness.'
âAnd what makes you think my happiness is linked to your wallet?' snapped Mordonna.