Authors: Andy Griffiths
Zack, who was holding on to his Gran and his bum, released both of them. But neither of them would let go.
âWhat are you doing?' said Zack.
âWe're a team, remember?' said his bum.
âAll for one and one for all!' said Gran, taking Eleanor's hand. âRight, Eleanor?'
âRight!' said Eleanor.
âWell, isn't this nice,' said the Great White Bum cheerfully, as the brown hole roared and swirled around them. âUnfortunately this is where I must leave you. Enjoy your trip! And don't forget to send me a postcard!'
âThat won't be necessary,' said Eleanor. âYou're coming with us!'
âNo,' said the Great White Bum. âI have a world to rule.'
âDream on!' snorted Zack's bum. âYou were struggling to escape the brown hole before. What makes you think you can do it now?'
âI wasn't struggling,' said the Great White Bum. âIt was only an act .Â .Â . and you fell for it!' The Great White Bum let go of Zack and Eleanor and began to reverse-thrust its way back out of the brown hole.
âThere's plenty more bum-fighters where we came from,' said Zack. âEven if you do survive you'll never succeed!'
âI wouldn't be so sure of that!' said the Great White Bum. âWho's left to fight me now? A couple of geriatric has-beens! At last, the Earth is mine!'
âThe Forker and the Flicker are not geriatric has-beens,' said Gran. âThey've still got plenty of tricks up their sleeves!'
âWell, they can't help you now,' said the Great White Bum. âNothing can and nobody will!'
âI wouldn't be so sure of that!' said a voice from behind them.
Zack turned his head.
It was the Forker!
He was riding a bum that was wearing a small cardboard crown. The Prince!
âGreetings, Master!' said the Prince.
âYou?' said the Great White Bum. âI thought I fed you and your friend to the maggots.'
âYou tried to,' said the Prince. âBut they weren't hungry. Too full of zombie bums.'
âNever mind,' said the Great White Bum. âThe brown hole is ALWAYS hungry.'
âWell let's give it something to chew on,' said the Forker.
âWhat?' said the Great White Bum.
âYOU!' said the Forker, plunging his fork deep into the Great White Bum's cheek. Then, with a mighty effort, he drew the forkâwith the Great White Bum attachedâup over his shoulder and catapulted it back towards the brown hole.
âForktastic!' yelled Gran.
Zack watched as the Great White Bum hurtled past them.
It couldn't possibly recover now, he thought.
But it did.
With another enormous reverse-thrust the Great White Bum managed to defy the brown hole yet again, bringing itself to a halt .Â .Â . right in front of Zack, Gran, Eleanor and Zack's bum.
Zack realised what they had to do. He signalled to the others. Eleanor, Gran and his bum nodded.
They leaned back and gave the Great White Bum a spectacular eight-legged power-kick. Zack smiled. He wished the Kicker had been there to see it.
Under the force of the kick the Great White Bum tumbled deep into the brown hole, roaring with fury.
Zack watched the Great White Bum getting smaller and smaller as it spiralled towards its doom. He couldn't quite believe that it wasn't somehow going to pull a devious last-minute escape. After all, it
the Great White Bum .Â .Â . indestructible
immortal .Â .Â .
But then, quite suddenly, the Great White Bum vanished.
âIt's a goal!' yelled Eleanor, beaming and high-fiving Zack.
âUm, I hate to be a party pooper,' said Zack's bum, âbut
still being sucked into the hole!'
Zack, his bum, Eleanor and Granâstill all holding handsâgulped.
âHelp us, Forker!' called Zack.
The Forker rode the Prince in as close to them as he dared.
âHang on!' he said, quickly reassembling the mega-fork and pushing it towards them. He hooked it around Zack's bum-fighting belt and tried to pull
them beyond the brown hole's gravitational field, but it was a struggle. Against the power of the brown hole and the combined weight of the bum-fighters it didn't stand a chance.
âGet us out of here!' said the Forker, digging a fork into the Prince.
âHey!' said the Prince. âDon't jab that thing in me!'
âThen hurry up!' yelled the Forker.
âThey're too heavy!' said the Prince. âI can't do it!'
âOops,' said the Forker, as they were dragged into the deadly vortex. âI hope the Flicker gets here soon. Otherwise we're going to be in serious trouble.'
As he spoke the Flicker arrived astride Maurice.
âSorry,' said the Flicker. âWe took a wrong turn at the Moon.'
âIt was my fault and I'm very sorry,' said Maurice. âVery, very, very, very, veryâ'
âShut up, Maurice,' said the Prince. âJust get us out of here!'
âLanguage!' said Gran.
The Flicker didn't muck around. He stood on Maurice and quickly knotted a string of towels together. Then, with a few deft flicks of his wrist, he transformed the string into an enormous lasso, and cast it around the group of struggling bum-fighters.
âNever fear, the Flicker's here!' said the Flicker, as he jerked the lasso tight and began pulling them to safety.
âHey!' said Gran. âThat's my catchphrase!'
âBut I don't have one of my own,' said the Flicker.
âAll right,' said Gran. âYou can use it just this once.'
âAnd never, never, never fear, Maurice is also at your service!' said Maurice as he sweated and strained to help the Flicker.
âThat's pathetic,' said the Prince. âIt doesn't even rhyme.'
âCatchphrases don't have to rhyme,' said the Forker.
âBut it's better if they do,' said the Prince. âIt's what makes them catchy.'
âSorry, Prince,' said Maurice. âI'm very, very, veryâ'
âShut up, Maurice,' said the Prince.
âLanguage!' said Gran.
âShut up is not a swear word,' said the Prince.
âIt's not a nice word,' said Gran.
Eleanor smiled at Zack.
He smiled back. Things were already getting back to normal and they weren't even home yet. Zack glanced over his shoulder into the brown hole.
And then he stopped smiling.
The brown hole seemed to be swirling faster than ever.
Swirling and .Â .Â .
and .Â .Â .
Despite having eaten an entire swarm of giant mutant zombie blowflies
the Great White Bum, it seemed that the brown hole was still not satisfied.
Zack realised the terrible truth.
They weren't going to get out after all.
ack closed his eyes.
The sucking noise increased to a deafening roar. He felt himself being stretched to breaking point and then .Â .Â .
.Â .Â . Zack opened his eyes and looked around him.
He, his bum and Eleanor were hurtling through space. He had no idea where they were or how much time had passed. All he knew was that they had been sucked into a brown hole .Â .Â .
Zack wondered why he was still thinking.
Or breathing, for that matter.
Hadn't his bum's bubble shield broken up?
By rights he should have been dead.
Unless he was indestructible, of course, whichâas far as he knewâwas not the case. He definitely hadn't been zombie-bummified. Sure, he'd breathed in some of the smoke that came from the Forker's incinerator, but .Â .Â .
That was it!
The zombie bums were virtually indestructible.
The zombie bum-smoke he and the others had inhaled must have given them some sort of immunity from the effects of being in space. But judging by how bad Zack felt, it wasn't perfect. And there was no telling how much longer it would last.
He realised the Blind Bum-feeler had been right all along. The hokey pokey and the tomato sauce and the brown hole had all helped to save the world.
What the Blind Bum-feeler hadn't told him, however, was at what cost.
He'd lost his parents.
He'd lost his gran.
And now he was lost in space and about to lose his own life along with his bum and Eleanor.
The Blind Bum-feeler had told Zack that he had a long and difficult road ahead of him. But she hadn't told him just how long or how difficult that road would be. Or that it would lead to a dead end.
Zack reached out and touched Eleanor's arm.
âWhat's going to happen to us?' said Zack. âDo you think we'll just hurtle through space forever?'
Eleanor nodded grimly. âIt's highly likely. Unless we hit something. Or something causes us to change direction.'
Zack was suddenly filled with hope. He looked at his bum. Maybe .Â .Â .
âDon't look at me,' said his bum. âI'm all out of gas. That bubble shield really took it out of me.'
Zack nodded and clutched at his throat.
He could feel his body fluids beginning to boil. He could feel bubbles forming in his blood. He could feel
the gases in his body beginning to expand. He could feel his thoughts slowing down.
âZack,' said Eleanor. âYou've got steam coming out of your ears.'
âSo have you,' he said.
âBut of course,' said Eleanor, putting her hand on her hip and breaking into song. âI'm a little teapot, short and stout .Â .Â .'
Zack felt really sick. Eleanor's mind was going. It was an ugly sight, despite the fact that she seemed to be enjoying herselfâin fact the fact that she was enjoying herself just seemed to make it even worse.
âHere is my handle, here is my spout .Â .Â .' she sang, putting her right arm out like a teapot spout.
âWhen I get all steamed up, then I SHOUT .Â .Â .'
Zack couldn't bear it anymore. Watching Eleanorâonce a proud and fierce bum-fighting warriorâreduced to a singing teapot somehow seemed to be the saddest thing of all on a day of extremely sad things.
âTIP ME OVER .Â .Â . POUR ME OUT!' sang Eleanor. âCome on Zack, join in!'
Zack looked away as Eleanor began the song again, this time accompanied by his bum.
He knew it wouldn't be long before he was singing too.
But he was determined to hold out for as long as possible.
He wondered where they were. A little way back he had recognised Saturn. That meant they must have already passed Jupiter. Zack tried to remember what the next planet out from Saturn was.
And then, far off in the distance, he saw it.
At first it was no bigger than a golf ball.
A brown golf ball.
But they were travelling so fast that the brown golf ball rapidly expanded to the size of a brown tennis ball which rapidly expanded to the size of a brown basketball which rapidly expanded to the size of a brown beachball which rapidly expanded to the size of a brown planet.
Zack smiled as he suddenly remembered the name of the next planet out from Saturn.
It was no longer blueâin fact it looked more like a piece of fruit that had been left out in the sunâbut it was Uranus all right. It wasn't just the twelve moons that gave it away, either. It was the smell.
âI must be the luckiest bum-fighter in the univarse,' said Zack to nobody in particular as they began a rapid descent towards the planet's surface. âEither that, or the unluckiest.'
He wrapped a fluffy pink toilet seat cover around his head, closed his eyes and prepared to find out.
They hit the soft sludge of Uranus with three loud squelches.
Zack, curled up like a baby at the bottom of a sludgy hole, could hear his name being called.
He opened his eyes. They were burning from the incredible stench, but he could make out the shape of his bum hovering above him.
âZack!' it called. âAre you okay?'
Zack nodded. He stood and looked up to the top of the hole. âHow do I get out of here?' he asked.