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 where Gregory awakes after fainting. An alternative suggestion was that Gregory should find himself in a hot air balloon, but the winning choice with 50% of the vote was in ‘Professor Harvey’s Laboratory’.
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Gregory Bedcarrots and the very mad professor.
It was the strange smell of animal poo combined with anaesthetic which brought Gregory back to his senses. Like light streaming through a window at the break of dawn, Gregory felt a wave of life surge through him as he became aware of a distant muttering and the fact that he was lying down. Slowly opening his eyes, he found himself squinting into a bright white light which hung above his head and his first thought was that he was at the orthodontist having braces fitted. For the past year Gregory had repeatedly resisted the orthodontic treatment recommended by his parents because he had an irrational fear of biting the dentist. As the memories of the past few hours came flooding back, Gregory conceded that the idea of biting the dentist didn’t seem so daunting after all. Groaning softly, he went to sit up and then realised to his horror that he could not move. He had been bound to a table top by some rope. Panic-stricken he thrashed his head to one side and opened his mouth to call out. But before he could speak he caught eyes with Penny who was tied to a similar table nearby. Her face was pale and frightened and she shook her head quickly, warning Gregory not to speak. Gregory raised confused eyebrows and then blinked in dizziness as he scanned the room. At the far side of the room, with his back to them, stood Professor Harvey. He was sharpening a very fierce looking knife and muttering wildly to himself as he did so. On a shelf beside him sat Einstein’s brain; slightly dented and deformed having been yanked from inside the bag.
In defence of the bag, it had put up an incredibly courageous fight in its vain attempt to keep hold of the brain. But he was simply no match for Professor Harvey who fought with a full forty years of pent up rage and bitterness and took no time at all in ripping the bag from limb to limb. The bag now lay lifeless on the floor in the corner of the room; bruised and battered with all the stuffing beaten out of him and both button eyes missing. He was in a very desperate state, and anyone who has ever had a precious toy mauled to pieces will understand a little of the horror which Gregory felt when he finally caught sight of what remained of his little polyester friend.
Gregory gave a gulp. Could the bag be dead? Was that even possible? He glanced at Penny and urgently raised his eyebrows as if to ask what on earth was happening. Penny tried frantically to mouth something but Gregory couldn’t work out what she was saying and shook his head in confusion. Penny simply sighed and pointed her nose angrily in Professor Harvey’s direction. Then she bit her lip and looked away, as though trying hard not to cry. A moment later, a tiny flicker of hope flashed suddenly across her eyes. Fumbling desperately under the rope which kept her bound, she retrieved something small and blue from her pocket. Darren. Very gently she placed him between herself and Gregory and they began to carefully stroke him until small blue bubbles started to flow freely from his mouth.
“Come on, Darren,” they both begged silently. “Do something magical…”
They had no idea what they were hoping for and they avoided eye contact for fear of seeing the hopelessness in the other’s eyes.
It was now that Gregory noticed to his bewilderment that the entire room was full of animals. Above them ran rows upon rows of cages filled with all kinds of exotic and sorry looking wildlife. To his right was perched a cage full of wingless purple birds. Under the cage was a tank full of tail-less rats, and in a hutch beneath that sat a glum looking pig wearing trainers.
Gregory raised his eyebrows at Penny but she said nothing and continued to stroke Darren.
At that moment, there was a knock on the laboratory door. Gregory closed his eyes and peeked through tiny slits as Professor Harvey (muttering in a most frenzied way) shuffled over to the door and opened it.
“Henry, at last!” Professor Harvey snapped impatiently. “Come in, come in.”
Henry, an awkward and timid looking young man, came tentatively in, pushing a small grey trolley on which sat two small monkeys. Catching sight of Gregory and Penny the young man gave a nervous cough and said quietly, “Are you sure about this, sir?”
“Of course I’m sure!” Professor Harvey barked, brandishing his knife wildly. “I’ve wanted to try this experiment for a very long time now! Think about it Henry, if I can create a successful human-monkey hybrid then I will have made great gains in the study of evolutionary transition! Who knows, I may even be able to breed them and have a little primate army at my command… Imagine the fame! The power!” He gave a bellow of delight and flashed his ugly teeth.
“But what about the poor children?” Henry muttered nervously, glancing again at Gregory and Penny.
“They were happy to behave like little monkeys this afternoon,” Professor Harvey said spitefully. “Perhaps this will teach them to mind their own business!”
Unable to restrain himself, Gregory gave a great cry of horror as he realised the full extent of Professor Harvey’s evil. He and Penny were about to be given the brains of monkeys in some crazed attempt at world domination! To their right, the wingless birds rolled around their cage squeaking and squawking as if singing of their doom.
“But you’re not really going to take their brains, are you sir?” Henry said, shaking anxiously.
“No,” said Professor Harvey with a most sinister smile. “You are.” He pressed a knife into Henry’s shaking hand and pushed him towards the petrified children. “You get theirs and I’ll do the monkeys.”
Henry gave a splutter and shook his head, opening and closing his mouth as he summoned up the courage to protest further. He looked pitifully at Gregory and Penny who began pleading desperately for mercy. “Professor Harvey,” he said finally. “They’ve got some kind of lizard…”
Professor Harvey turned in frustration and snapped, “What?”
“Look,” said Henry. “It’s blue and it’s blowing bubbles.”
Gregory and Penny held their breaths, frightened now for Darren’s plight as well as their own.
Professor Harvey put the quivering monkeys down and shuffled over. “Where?” he demanded angrily.
“There!” Henry pointed.
“Where?” Professor Harvey repeated crossly.
“It’s right there!” Henry said in bewilderment.
“I can’t see anything,” Professor Harvey snapped.
By now, Darren was blowing bubbles the size of small balloons. It was impossible to miss him, and yet Professor Harvey stated adamantly, furiously, unequivocally that he could not see a thing. Gregory felt his heart beating hard against his chest as a faint hope trickled through him.
Henry persisted for a short while longer, pointing inanely at Darren until Professor Harvey roared, “Get on with it!” Then in a fit of temper he stormed back to the monkeys. I’ll spare you the gory details but within a few short moments the professor held in his hands the brains of two Tufted Capuchins. He turned expectantly to Henry, “What are you waiting for, you fool?!”
Henry seemed to have fixed a steely and determined look upon his face as muttered over and over to himself, “I can, yes I know I can… I know…”
By now, Penny was crying very loudly, pleading with Henry not to be so barbaric. Gregory was numb with terror and said nothing at all. To think that their grand adventure had come to this!
“It’s that lizard…” Henry said finally, in a dozy and hypnotic manner. “It just spoke to me.”