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 Darren the diplodocus says to Henry. An ‘other’ suggestion was ‘Queasy secrets from Professor Harvey’s past’. ‘Quintessential truths’ was the most popular choice with 57% of the vote.
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Gregory’s nemesis: out with a bang.
Gregory stole a quick glance at Penny. She was looking as terrified as he felt. He bit his lip and tried to make himself look bolder as Professor Harvey came marching over to Henry and shook him by the arm.
“Invisible talking lizard? Have you gone crazy?!”
“I don’t think so, sir,” Henry said softly. “It’s the plainest thing I ever heard or saw. And now I come to think of it, it looks more like a dinosaur than a lizard— a diplodocus perhaps.”
At this, Darren gave a proud purr, though of course Professor Harvey did not hear it.
Professor Harvey snorted. “Well what exactly did this imaginary dinosaur tell you, then?”
“Well,” began Henry, quivering enormously. “First he told me to pull myself together because if a person falls to pieces in a crisis, then there can’t have been much to them in the first place. Then he told me not to follow the bad example of cruel people and that I could resist this evil if I wanted to. I thought to myself that maybe I could persuade you to abort this experiment, but he must have known what I was thinking because he replied by saying that… Erm…” He paused and scratched his chin sheepishly.
Professor Harvey looked livid. “Saying what?” he demanded furiously, spit frothing at the corner of his mouth.
“Er…” Henry gave a cough and then said quickly, “saying that you have been a fool bent on destruction ever since you cheated in your school science exams, and that even if a person beats a fool until he’s half dead, one still can’t beat his foolishness out of him.”
All colour drained from Professor Harvey’s face. He let out an awful roar and then lunged for Henry’s throat. Henry, caught by surprise, toppled over and landed in the space between Penny and Gregory. Penny began to scream, Gregory started to sob (though he said later that he hadn’t), and Darren (who lay beneath the brawling scientists) began to emit a very low, very strange, hum. Bearing in mind that Professor Harvey had just removed the brains of two small monkeys, there was a lot of blood and slime as the two men fought for the knife in Henry’s hands.
For fear of turning this fanciful tale into too much of a horror story, I will skip forward quickly. And for those of you who feel there is no hope left, it might stir your heart a little to know that throughout this ordeal, Gregory and Penny were holding hands.
It was Darren who saved the day. As Harvey and Henry continued to fight on top of him, he gave a long sorrowful hum, let out one final bubble and then… exploded.
The bang was so loud that both men fell off the table in fright. Penny let out a shriek and exclaimed, “Darren’s gone!”
The space in which Darren had been sitting was now empty, and all that remained were a pocketful of small blue bubbles.
Henry looked up and said aghast, “The dinosaur’s gone!”
Professor Harvey took advantage of the moment to seize the knife from Henry’s hand and said in a foul sneer, “Now you’re for it!”
But before he could do anything ghastly, one of Darren’s bubbles landed softly on the tip of his nose. In a sudden almighty bang— in the same manner as Darren— the professor exploded. In mere seconds, all that remained of him were a pile of clothes and a small fat cigar.
Nobody spoke for a long time. It is quite a shocking thing to see somebody explode and vanish into thin air.
Eventually Henry said tentatively, “I think he’s gone…”
Gregory and Penny looked at him slowly.
Finally Penny said meekly, “Can you please untie us?”
“Oh, of course!” Henry got to his feet and ran to untie the children, helping them down from the tables and apologising profusely for almost cutting out their brains.
“It’s alright,” Gregory said politely. “No harm done.”
“Poor Darren,” Penny said quietly. “I hope it didn’t hurt when he exploded.”
“I think he did it on purpose,” Gregory replied. “To save us.”
Penny gave a sad sigh. “But why couldn’t he have done it without himself disappearing?”
Gregory shrugged and looked away. Then he gasped and jumped to his feet. “Penny, look!” he cried in excitement.
Penny looked up and clasped a hand to her mouth.
All around the room in cages that were formerly occupied by animals, sat about a hundred small blue dinosaurs, each one joyfully bopping its head. Even the two small monkeys were gone and in their place (with their brains fully intact) sat two blue dinosaurs, heads bopping as they began to blow tiny carefree bubbles.
Penny and Gregory ran to the cages.
“They all look just like Darren!” Penny said gleefully.
At the mention of their name, the dinosaurs all rolled over and purred.
“I think they are all Darren… somehow,” Gregory said in confusion, marvelling at the sheer number of them.
“How do we let them out?” Penny wondered.
Gregory thought for a moment and then dug deep into his pocket. “The bag lady’s key!” he exclaimed triumphantly. He tried one of the locks and sure enough, the key fit. The Darrens began to topple out of the cages and trotted gratefully around Gregory and Penny’s ankles.
Throughout this, Henry sat exhausted on the floor, his jaw down to his knees as the many Darrens spoke many marvellous truths that he alone could hear. “Yes…” he said, delirious. “Yes, you’re right. I am… I can… I see…”
After releasing all the Darrens, Penny ran to the remains of the bag and scooped him up in her arms.
“Oh,” Penny cried with a sob. “Is he really gone too?”
One of the Darrens came forward and rubbed against Penny’s foot. Another came and started to blow small bubbles. Around the room, the rest began to purr. A small bubble came to rest on top of the bag.
Suddenly a little voice began to shout. “Ugh, my head’s spinning. Someone pass me my sewing kit!” The bag was back.
Gregory gave a grin and ran to embrace his polyester friend, who of course shoved him off and called him an idiot.
“Now what should we do?” asked Penny, tears of relief rolling down her face.