Authors: Andy Griffiths
âZack,' said his bum.
âYes?' he said.
âAre we there yet?'
âNo,' said Zack.
âHow much further?' said his bum.
âNot far,' lied Zack.
Zack wasn't about to admit it to his bum, but he had no idea how far away Mabeltown was, and there was nobody around to ask. Just a bunch of dumb cows that stared at him as he passed.
âWhat are you looking at?' said his bum.
âMoo,' replied one of the cows.
Zack's bum replied with a precisely aimed jet of gas. The hapless cow keeled over and hit the ground with a thud.
âHey!' said Zack. âWas that really necessary?'
âNo,' said his bum. âBut it was fun.'
Zack remembered how his bum had gassed Mittens, his gran's cat. He wished his bum could control itself. Or, at least that he could control his bum. Either would have been fine by Zack. Bums could be such a pain. And nobody knew that better than Zack
Freeman. Except maybe Mittens. And, of course, the freshly gassed cow.
Zack kept walking.
He was looking forward to seeing his gran again. He'd been away for a few weeks now and he missed her. He was also looking forward to a nice soft bed and one of Gran's home-cooked meals.
That's when he noticed the smoke.
And the unmistakeable smell of a barbeque.
It was coming from around a bend in the road.
Despite how heavy his feet felt, Zack ran to the bend and saw a small grassy embankment that led down to a river where an old woman wearing dirty grey robes was sitting beside a small fire cooking a sausage on a stick.
As Zack reached the top of the embankment, the old woman looked up.
âHail Zack Freeman!' said the woman. âConqueror of the Great White Bum and saviour of planet Earth! ComeâI've been expecting you!'
âHow do you know my name?' said Zack, as he scrambled down the embankment.
The old woman looked up. Zack realised, with a shock, that she had a thick white film across each of her eyes. She was blind.
âWho are you?' he said.
The woman seemed amused by Zack's confusion.
âThey call me “The Blind Bum-feeler”,' said the woman.
âWhy do they call you that?' said Zack.
âBecause I am blind,' she said. âAnd because I feel
bums. By feeling a person's bum I can tell their future. For a small fee, of course.'
âWhat a pity we're completely out of cash!' said Zack's bum. âAnd we really must be going. Come on, Zack. We're very late!'
âLate?' said the old woman. âFor what?'
âIf you're so smart, then you tell me,' Zack's bum said.
âBut you haven't paid,' said the old woman. She smiled mysteriously and went back to cooking the sausage, turning the stick slowly in her ancient fingers.
âLet's go, Zack,' pleaded his bum.
âNot so fast,' said Zack.
He was intrigued. He was also captivated by the delicious smell of the sausage meat. He couldn't have dragged himself away even if he'd wanted to.
He felt around in his pants for some money.
âWhat are you DOING?' demanded his bum. âYou're not actually going to LET that old witch touch me are you?'
âLighten up,' said Zack, his fingers closing around a one-dollar coin. âIt's just a bit of fun!'
âFor you, maybe!' said Zack's bum. âBut not me! I'm getting out of here!'
Zack felt his bum begin to detach itself. He quickly grabbed it and held it out, kicking and screaming, towards the old woman.
âA wise decision, young man,' she said, as she placed the sausage on a rock beside her and took Zack's bum in her wrinkled leathery hands.
At the touch of the Blind Bum-feeler's fingers,
Zack's bum instantly became calm, and seemed to fall into a sort of trance. Holding the bum in her left hand, the Bum-feeler held out her right hand, palm up, across the fire towards Zack.
Zack stared at her.
The Bum-feeler cleared her throat.
Zack remembered the dollar and put it in the palm of her hand. She nodded, dropped the coin into her pocket and then closed her eyes, her hands on either side of his bum.
Zack crouched down beside the fire while the Bum-feeler felt. She began to speak very slowly. âHail Zack Freeman,' she said, âglorious bum-fighter and bum hunter to be!'
Zack shook his head. He wasn't sure what he'd expected the Bum-feeler to say, but it sure wasn't that. âThat can't be right,' he said. âYou see, I've quit the Academy andâ'
âSilence!' commanded the Bum-feeler.
The fire suddenly flared up, almost engulfing Zack.
He fell backwards.
âHail Zack Freeman, hero of free men everywhere!' said the Bum-feeler loudly. âFor I can feel that you will free not just the world, but the entire univarse from the scourge of bums past, present and future.'
âHuh?' said Zack, sprawled on his back with his legs in the air. âI'm not doing any more bum-fighting in the present or the future and how could I possibly change what has
happened in the past?'
The Bum-feeler ignored his question. âListen
carefully, Zack,' she said. âYour future and the fate of the univarse depend on it. I have three pieces of advice for you.'
Zack sat up and leaned forward.
âFirstly,' she said, âdon't forget the tomato sauce. Do you understand? You will save the world with tomato sauce.'
Zack frowned. âSorry to interrupt, but I misheard. It sounded like you said “tomato sauce”.'
âI did say tomato sauce,' said the Blind Bum-feeler. âDon't forget it. And secondly, you must do the hokey pokey!'
âThe hokey pokey?' said Zack, still trying to work out how tomato sauce could possibly save the world.
âYES!' said the Blind Bum-feeler. âThe hokey pokey! You put your right hand in. You put your right hand out. You put your right hand in, and then you shake it all aboutâ'
âI know how to do the hokey pokey,' interrupted Zack. âIn fact it's the only dance I
know. But when? And why?'
âYou'll know,' said the Blind Bum-feeler, âyou'll just know.'
Zack shrugged. He couldn't make sense of any of what she was telling him.
âAnd one last piece of advice,' said the Bum-feeler. âFear not the brown hole!'
Now Zack was really confused.
Brown holes were the most destructive and terrifying forces in the univarseâeveryone knew that. But, as far as Zack knew, they only existed out in space. And he had no intention of going
there. The only place he was going was to his gran's.
But before Zack could question the Blind Bum-feeler further, the fire flared and Zack fell backwards again.
âThat is all for now,' she said. âI am tired. And your time is up.'
âAnd I'm getting out of here!' said Zack's bum, jumping out of the Bum-feeler's hands and taking off up the embankment.
âCome back!' yelled Zack, jumping to his feet. He turned to the Bum-feeler. âThanks for the reading,' he said, âbut you're wrong. Although I did harpoon the Great White Bum and save the world, it was just a lucky shot. I'm quitting bum-fighting and going home.'
The Bum-feeler smiled. She picked up the stick with the sausage on it and offered it to Zack.
Although he was starving, Zack refused. He could see the old woman was weak. He figured she needed it more than he did.
But the Bum-feeler insisted. âTake it,' she said, closing Zack's hand around the stick. âI cooked it for you. You need to keep your strength up. You have a long and difficult road ahead of you.'
Zack nodded, confused and yet grateful.
He turned to leave.
âZack,' said the Bum-feeler.
Zack turned around. He watched as the Bum-feeler produced, from somewhere within her robes, a red squeezy-bottle of tomato sauce.
She offered it to Zack. âDon't forget the tomato sauce,' she said.
Zack took the bottle, squeezed a little on the end of the sausage and handed it back. But the Blind Bum-feeler shook her head.
âKeep the bottle,' she said. âYou'll need it.'
Zack shrugged. âThanks,' he said, sliding the sauce bottle into the pocket of his jacket and heading off after his bum.
Zack ran back up the embankment.
As he ran he took a huge bite of the sausage. It was good, but it was missing something. Of course! he thought, sauce! He held the bottle up to his mouth and squirted some in.
He chewed the sausage.
It tasted much better.
The Bum-feeler was right, thought Zack. Well, about that much at least.
At the top of the embankment Zack looked for his bum. He expected to find it sitting by the side of the road, sulking.
But it wasn't.
He couldn't see it anywhere.
He could, however, see his bum's tiny footprints in the dirt. He followed them up the road.
As he ran, he took another big mouthful of sausage and sucked on the sauce bottle. His granâa real stickler for mannersâwas always telling him to sit down while he ate, but this was an emergency.
He noticed his bum's footprints veer off the side
of the road. They led behind a clump of blackberries.
âI know you're there,' he said. âCome out!'
But there was no reply.
âCome out right now .Â .Â . or else!' said Zack firmly.
âOnly if you apologise,' said his bum.
He was sick of having a bum with a mind of its own.
He'd had enough.
âNo, actually, I've got a better idea!' said Zack. âHow about YOU apologise to ME!'
âWhat for?' said his bum.
âFor running away,' Zack replied.
Zack's bum laughed loudly.
So loudly, in fact, that Zack had to pinch his nose to avoid being overcome by the fumes.
âWhat's so funny?' said Zack.
âI can't believe you're taking that old kook seriously,' said Zack's bum. âYou disappoint me. It's YOU who should be apologising to ME for handing me over to a complete stranger without my permission.'
âI don't NEED your permission,' said Zack. âYou're my bum. I can do what I like with you!'
âNo,' said his bum. âYou don't own me, Zack. We're a team .Â .Â . it's the only way this can work.'
Zack smiled. His bum was right. Without each other they were nowhere. âOkay,' he said. âHow about we say sorry together?'
His bum emerged from behind the clump of blackberries and walked across the road to Zack.
âSorry,' they both said at the same time.
Zack bent over to pat his bum.
Then his bum climbed back into Zack's pants and reattached itself without any further fuss.
Zack hurried off down the road, as fast as he could. He wanted to get home.
He'd been away for too long already.
ack walked through the night. Although still tired, he felt much better after eating the sausage. He was also distracted by the most spectacular display of shooting stars he had ever seen. They seemed to fall all through the nightâsometimes in groups of twos and threesâmany with intense blue-green tails.
At first Zack was thrilled.
He knew that it was good luck to make a wish on a shooting star, and for the first few hours Zack made a wish on every single one of them. Well, three wishes actually. The same three wishes every time. That his bum would settle down, his parents would come home, and everything would return to normal.
After a while, however, Zack grew uneasy.
He wondered if it was normal for quite so many shooting stars to fall all at once. He shrugged and kept right on wishing, but when morning came
and Zack could still see strange lights trailing across the sky, he realised that it was definitely
And whatever they were, they were definitely