Story Soup 1.13

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Welcome to Story Soup! If you need to catch up with the events so far, you can read the whole story in chronological order here. Thank you to everyone who voted for what Gregory should do next. Each receiving 33% of the vote, your winning choices were ‘Make a run for it with the scientist’s bag’ and ‘Mention casually that Einstein’s brain was reported missing on the news’.

The next instalment will be posted later in the week, but if you want to be reminded, then please subscribe using the links on the top left or by joining the Story Soup Facebook page.

Gregory Bedcarrots; a little bit brainy a little bit brawny.

“Well?” Professor Harvey demanded. “How much longer?”

Gregory gave a timid cough and said hoarsely, “Not much, sir…”

Professor Harvey screwed up his nose and peered at Gregory rather distastefully. “Where are you from?” he asked with disdain.

Gregory blushed and bit his lip. Words felt thick and heavy in his throat. There was no way he could feign a believable American accent. “Uh, England,” he said finally.

Professor Harvey looked at him curiously, somewhat suspiciously. “How did you get to America?” he demanded crisply.

“I flew,” Gregory said quickly.

When Professor Harvey raised an eyebrow, Gregory gulped and crossed his fingers, hoping beyond hope that they had aeroplanes in the 1950s.

“Flew?” the professor repeated edgily.

“Yes, sir. On a, uh, jumbo jet…” Gregory whispered.

“Jumbo jet? What’s a jumbo jet?” Professor Harvey exclaimed furiously.

“Uh…” Gregory brought a hand to his head and began to anxiously twiddle his hair. A million thoughts flew between his ears and he felt his cheeks growing hot with shame. He hadn’t heard of a jumbo jet… Did that mean they hadn’t been invented yet? Would he have heard of any aeroplanes? Why were they called jumbo jets? Distant images of birds and planes and flying elephants spun themselves round his befuddled brain.

The hot-headed professor slammed an impatient hand down on the desk. “It’s a simple question, boy! What’s a jumbo jet?”

Gregory stood dumbstruck, opening and closing his mouth, searching desperately for the right thing to say. In his confusion, he blurted out foolishly, “It’s like an elephant, sir.”

Professor Harvey glared at him and snarled, “You lying child. I’m not waiting any longer.” He picked up his bag and moved towards the door.

Gregory felt his heart leap into his throat. “Wait!” he cried helplessly.

Professor Harvey ignored him and reached for the door handle.

“Did you see the news this morning?” Gregory babbled desperately. “Apparently someone’s stolen Einstein’s brain.” He tried to say it casually, with an edge of cool, but was shaking so much that he had to lean against the desk to steady himself.

Professor Harvey shot him a quick glance and then said briskly, “I expect that’s another lie.”

“No,” Gregory said quickly. “It’s true. Apparently there are police all over town looking for the person who took it.”

Professor Harvey said nothing for a moment, then coughed and adjusted his tie. “Well, good luck to them,” he muttered irritably.

Sensing weakness, Gregory willed himself to carry on and continued confidently, “They said the person who took it will face the death penalty.”

Professor Harvey eyed Gregory carefully, and then said in a forced voice, “Good.”

Gregory pushed his luck even further. “I would hate to be caught with Einstein’s brain in my bag, wouldn’t you, professor?”

“Indeed,” the professor snapped through gritted teeth.

“What’s in your bag?” Gregory enquired gingerly. Seeing the colour drain from Professor Harvey’s face, Gregory felt a glimmer of triumph surge through his veins. He attempted a cocky smile but, nervous as he was, he looked more like someone practising for the world gurning championships.

The professor glared at him and said in a most threatening manner, “What I keep in my own bag is entirely my business. And you would do well to stay put and keep quiet!” Then he turned and strode through the door.

In what can only be described as a moment of sheer lunacy, Gregory grabbed the nearest thing he could find (which happened to be a sandwich) and flung it at the back of the professor’s head. The professor gave a yell and momentarily dropped his bag. Without a moment’s thought, Gregory lunged for the bag and sprinted down the hallway.

“Oi!” Professor Harvey pursued him earnestly, screaming wild abuse as he followed Gregory through the door of the orphanage and out into the sunshine.

With the professor hot on his heels Gregory called desperately for Penny, hoping that she would hear him and come to his aid. “Penny, help! Where are you? Penny! HELP!”

But Penny was nowhere to be seen. Admittedly, they had been so fixated on moving the young Alberta and gaining access to the professor that they hadn’t actually made a plan on what to do next.

If you will recall, Gregory was not a particularly fit individual and running was not one his strengths. He hadn’t got very far before he could feel the professor’s hand grappling for the back of his neck. Knowing he could not hold the professor off for much longer, he roared mightily and flung the brain-filled bag into the nearest bush.

Professor Harvey gave a yell of fury, shoved Gregory roughly aside, and ploughed into the bush.

Gregory fell back, panting and holding his aching side. He felt the blood swim to his face and rubbed his eyes in dizzy frustration. He felt angry with himself for not being able to run faster, angry at Penny for not being there when he needed her, and angry with Einstein for not taking better care of his own brain.

A few seconds later the Professor emerged from the bush, shaking with anger. “Where is it?” he hissed furiously. “WHERE IS IT?”

Apparently the bag was no longer there. Professor Harvey spat on the floor and exclaimed, “You fool!” He said more than this. He swore quite a bit and made various ghastly threats. But I will leave that to your imagination. The attention-seeking antics of a person who steals someone else’s brain is not to be endorsed.

Of all the people Gregory has attacked so far in this sorry story, this guy was certainly the most deserving. With crazed frenzy in his eyes, Professor Harvey turned on Gregory. If he’d had the tools, he may well have extracted Gregory’s brain right there and then. But to Gregory’s relief, the orphanage director appeared at that moment, his grey face aghast and bewildered at the sorry state of the professor. “Professor Harvey,” he gasped. “What’s the matter?”

Professor Harvey turned, his face livid with rage, and yelled, “That boy has taken my bag!”

The orphanage director looked Gregory up and down and said sternly, “Who on earth are you?”

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