The Spoon of Doom

BOOK: The Spoon of Doom
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The SPOON
OF
DOOM

Sam Hay
Illustrated by Hannah Shaw

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Also by Sam Hay

Imprint

For Mum

Chapter One

I was halfway through my cheese-and-pickle roll when it happened.

‘Yuk!' squealed Mandy Moon, who was sitting opposite me. ‘There's something really horrible on your roll.'

I glanced down. She was right. It
was
horrible. Long, green and slimy. And just millimetres from my mouth.

‘Don't worry,' I said cheerfully, ‘It's only a marsh slug.' (As if that made it OK.)

Mandy wrinkled her nose. ‘It looks disgusting.'

She was right (again). Marsh slugs
are
particularly unpleasant to look at. But as my dad will tell you (though you'll wish you'd never asked), they're not the slightest bit poisonous and actually taste quite nice. If you find yourself stuck in a marsh, there are worse things you could eat, because marsh slugs are full of useful protein and good for your gut…

See. I said you'd wish you never asked.

By now, Mandy was making a puking face, so I slid the roll (and slug) back into my lunch box and moved on to my crisps – less protein and not good for the gut, but far more my sort of thing.

I pretended nothing had happened. But Mandy was still in a state of shock. She was peering into my lunch box, watching the green slug slither slowly across the roll.

‘Aren't you going to do something?' she said, unable to stop staring.

‘Nope.' I was beginning to wish I could put Mandy in a lunch box, too.

‘You're not going to take it home, are you?' she said, appalled.

It's the school rules, you see. What you don't eat, you take home.

‘Yep,' I said, emptying the final few crisp crumbs into my mouth.

Mandy gasped. ‘But what will your mum say?'

I shrugged. ‘Something like “sorry about the slug, son, tomorrow I'll make sure you get a stink beetle instead”.'

Mandy's mouth opened, but no words came out. So I snatched up my lunch box and scarpered. You see, sometimes I just can't be bothered explaining the weird world I live in.

My parents are entomologists. Or bug-botherers to you and me. Mum likes beetles and spiders. Dad prefers soft bellies – slugs, snails and worms. They met at bug camp when they were twelve and have been inseparable ever since. Love bugs – that's what Mum calls them. Personally, I prefer marsh slugs.

Anyway, they're totally besotted by mini-beasts. And our fridge is full of them. Hatching usually, which is all very well and interesting unless, like me, you prefer your butter without beetle larvae attached.

Personally, I am not the slightest bit interested in creepy crawlies. I never have been. When I was a small boy, I never worried worms. Nor did I collect spiders in small boxes. And to this day, I'm still perfectly happy for snails to go about doing their snail stuff without any involvement from me.

But unfortunately my parents have other ideas. They've even lumbered me with a buggy name. Albert Grub. Or A. Grub, as it says on all my schoolbooks. It's OK. You can laugh. I'm used to it. Sometimes I think I was adopted. What other explanation can there be for the fact that I have absolutely no interest in creepy crawlies?

My parents don't mind. They humour me. I, on the other hand, have to put up with living in their flea pit. Well, actually it's a house. But it's a total tip. There's dust everywhere. Bugs like dust. (I don't.) There are also strange experiments dotted around – like the old boot in the hall that has woodlice living in it. And the understairs cupboard that is strictly for spiders. (Mum says they're not poisonous, but I've seen them – they're purple for gawd's sake!) There's even an old scabby dog basket that's riddled with fleas. (And we don't even have a dog.)

Frankly, it's embarrassing. I don't dare bring any friends home – and certainly not since the incident with my best friend Barry.

He came round for tea a few months ago. Sausage and chips, it was, which was great, except Barry's dinner was already being enjoyed by a large cockroach that had somehow escaped onto his plate.

I was mortified.

And now, thanks to the marsh slug's appearance, I had to suffer the embarrassment at school as well. Enough was enough. As I walked home in the rain, I planned what I'd say to them:

Grow up and stop playing with creepy crawlies…
Insects are not big and they're not clever…

(Though that's not strictly true. Insects are exceedingly clever, as my parents constantly tell me. After all, there are a million trillion more of them than there are of us, and they've been around since the dinosaurs.)

But I didn't get a chance to tell my parents what I thought, because when I got home, I could see that something big and bad was afoot.

And somehow I knew it had nothing to do with the marsh slug that was sleeping soundly inside my school bag.

Chapter Two

For starters, they were both there. Normally, when I get back from school, Mum is in her study working on her book. It's about beetles and she's been writing it for ten years. (What more can she find to say about them?) And Dad is in the garden tending to his gastropods (that's the bug-botherer name for slugs and snails – it makes them sound much more interesting than they are, trust me).

Today, they were also sitting at the table holding hands. Love bugs they might be. But they don't generally hold hands. Thank god.

On one side of the table was a stack of papers. Bills. Unpaid bills. I knew that because I'd sneaked a peek a few days ago and everything was written in red. On the other side of the table was a large and uneaten, slightly crooked carrot cake. Mum had been baking. That in itself was a bad sign. Mum only bakes when there's a crisis. So I knew
something bad must have happened.

‘Hello,' I said cautiously.

Mum turned to look at me. ‘Oh, Albert,' she said with a slight quiver in her voice. ‘I'm sorry…'

I grinned nervously. ‘It can't be that bad.'

‘Albert's right,' said Dad patting her hand. ‘Something will turn up. It always does.'

‘Not this time, Gordon,' said Mum, looking like she might blub. ‘We've got a pile of bills. The roof is leaking. You've lost a marsh slug. And I've lost my job.'

I frowned. It had definitely not been a good day. (Though I reckoned I could probably solve the marsh slug problem.)

But Mum wasn't finished. ‘So we'll have to cancel the holiday.'

I gasped. Now wait a minute … we'd been planning our holiday for months. Normally we don't do holidays. There's never much point. Mum and Dad only ever agree to go camping, and only to places that look like our back garden – muddy, marshy and full of slithery stuff for them to catch in jam jars. But this holiday was going to be different. I'd finally persuaded them to book a beach holiday. And I just couldn't wait.

I was about to start shouting when I saw Mum's
eyes fill up. I can't bear anyone blubbing, especially not Mum; it gives me the willies. So I quickly changed tack…

‘Look, Dad,' I said cheerfully, ‘I've got some good news.' I rummaged in my school bag and produced my lunch box. ‘Your missing slug! Somehow it got mixed up with my cheese roll.'

Dad beamed. It doesn't take much to make him happy. But Mum just sighed. I realised the job thing had upset her a lot.

Mum stacked shelves at the local supermarket. But she said her head was too full of bugs to be much use to anyone most of the time.

‘How did you lose your job anyway?' I asked.

She blushed. ‘I fell out with the manager over a spider's web.'

That sounded about right.

‘I just couldn't help it, Albert. There I was in amongst the baked beans when I spotted it. It was one of those special moments – you know…'

Nope. Never had one.

Mum looked dreamily at Dad, who gazed back sympathetically. ‘No two webs are ever the same,' she continued. ‘And this one was so magnificent, I just had to sketch it…'

I smiled as best I could. But inwardly I rolled my
eyes. My parents just don't live in the real world. My sympathies lay with the supermarket manager who wanted a shelf full of beans, not a wonderful spider's web for his customers to admire.

‘Well, I've still got
my
job,' said Dad stoically.

Mum and I nodded. But we all knew the truth: Dad's part-time lecturing job at the local college paid peanuts. Small peanuts. Tincy wincy pip-sized peanuts that no monkey would swing twice for. We were definitely on our uppers.

Then suddenly I felt something land on my head. (Though that in itself wasn't unusual in our house.) Gingerly, I reached up to feel what it might be – an eight-legged arachnid. Or a six-legged beetle. Or something even more horrible. One of Dad's snails, maybe?

But no. It was water.

‘I think we've got another leak,' I said glumly, as a second blob landed on the end of my upturned nose.

Mum finally burst into tears. And then it happened. Just as I was wondering whether I should stick down my lunch box to catch the drips, the doorbell rang, and life as we knew it changed for ever.

Chapter Three

Actually, life very nearly
didn't
change for ever. Because I very nearly didn't let the bloke with the briefcase in.

BOOK: The Spoon of Doom
10.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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