Tag Archives: bag man

Story Soup 1.22

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Welcome to the penultimate instalment of 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 whether or not Gregory should trust the bag man. ‘Other’ suggestions included, “I’d rather eat wasps,” and “Only if you give me my stuff back,” but these are really just glorified ‘No’s joining 43% of voters keen to tell the bag man where to go.

The FINAL instalment will be posted very soon, but if you want to be reminded, then please subscribe using the links on the top left of the site or by joining the Story Soup Facebook page.

Gregory Bedcarrots: out of time.

I don’t suppose you have ever wondered what somebody would look like if they were half human and half polyester bag. There are certainly stranger and more exciting things to imagine, a man made of babies for example…

However, you would be wrong to think for one moment that the strange hybrid that stood before Gregory was any less fantastic. The bag man was now as tall as Gregory and almost as wide, but with coarse patterned skin and peculiar flaps hanging off his body. He had brown stitching across his forehead and a zip down his right cheek and looked a bit like a Muppet gone wrong. With a patchy hand extended to Gregory he gave a sickening smile and repeated his proposition. “Well, Gregory, what will it be? Do you trust me or not?”

Gregory gave a little cough. He didn’t trust him, not at all, but wondered whether saying he did might be safer than outright defiance.

But before he could reply, Penny (still the size of a hamster) came scurrying over and exclaimed in a pip-squeak voice, “We thought you were our friend, you monster!”

The bag man gave a wounded little whimper and scowled. “I’m only trying to help,” he said softly.

“Help?!” Penny shrieked, positively hysterical as she beat her tiny fists upon the bag man’s feet. “How is this helping anything?”

The bag man took a deep breath and said sombrely, “I’ve seen many things on my travels, but the fate of man remains unchanged: Men talk of killing time while all the while time is killing men.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Penny demanded in a shrill squawk.

“It means that unless preventative measures are taken, one’s time on this earth is limited.”

“Well that’s hardly rocket science!” Penny squeaked in derision. “Don’t listen to him Gregory, he’s just a bag remember!”

The bag man glared at her. “Who asked you, Mousy? I believe I was talking to Gregory.” He turned to Gregory and said in a simpering drawl, “Come now Gregory, we are pretty much brothers after all!” He gave a dazzling grin and Gregory’s baby tooth glistened from inside his scratchy mouth.

At the sight of his own tooth, Gregory felt anger rising in his chest. “How can I trust you?” he demanded angrily. “You’ve been pretending all this time— sneaking round and stealing bits of my life!”

Taken aback, the bag man paused for a moment before appealing more gently, “Come on Gregory. It was for your own good…”

“My own good!” Gregory exploded. “You’ve got to be kidding! How do you think it feels seeing a piece of my own coffin for goodness sake! Just get lost!”

The colour drained from the bag man’s face as he narrowed his eyes at Gregory. “Fine!” he roared furiously. “Have your stuff back! I could have shown you a way to live forever but you’ve blown it you ungrateful little idiot!” Without another moment’s thought the bag man kicked off Gregory’s shoes, ripped out his tooth and began to pull all manner of items belonging to Gregory from out of his pockets. He threw them angrily at Gregory and then, with a nauseating gulp and a crazed look in his eyes, picked the remaining time worms up from the ground, tossed them into the air and caught them in the back of his throat.

Gregory and Penny watched in stunned silence as the bag man started to shrink and unwind until all that was left of him was a pile of orange thread and a pair of polyester armadillo ears.

“Well, that was really weird,” Gregory said nervously, trying with all his might to ignore the petrified lump that had formed in the back of his throat.

At that point, the elderly Mr and Mrs Bedcarrots came shuffling over, his father mumbling something about needing to buy a mousetrap.

Gregory squeezed his eyes shut to keep from crying, but before he could reply he was interrupted by Penny who was pointing frantically towards the pitiful fragments of his life that lay on the ground. “Gregory, look!” she squeaked.

Gregory looked up and saw to his horror that his umbilical cord was wriggling. Sparks began to fly off it and it looked like it might blow up at any moment. In a matter of seconds there was a puff of smoke and a newborn baby appeared in its place; and not just any baby but baby Gregory James Bedcarrots, as though fresh from the oven.

Penny screamed and Mr and Mrs Bedcarrots started cooing in confusion but Gregory just stood in stunned silence. A moment later, his baby shoes exploded leaving in their place another baby Gregory, crying hysterically. Next, the tooth went and there came another Gregory, slightly older. When it came to a bright yellow colouring book, the Gregory that arrived came with chicken pox and a demand for juice.

Gregory started to back away as his young self came towards him. “Don’t touch me!” he exclaimed in terror. “Please don’t touch me!”

At that moment, a school tie by his foot exploded into the six year old Gregory who said in a petulant whine, “I’m bored!”

On and on it went like the world’s wickedest magic trick, with every item the bag had stolen transforming into the Gregory from whom it had been taken. From a distance the scene looked like some wild family reunion and the elderly Mr and Mrs Bedcarrots began to mingle blissfully through the crowd. “My son!” they kept repeating. “How are you?”

Penny was squealing in terror at each new Gregory that arrived, looking more and more like she were about to faint and doing all she could to keep from being trodden on.

As the Gregorys got older, they began to appeal to one other, recognising each other with wild shouts of disbelief.

“What the—?”

“Is that me?”

“Am I you?”

“Is this a prank?”

At one point, a gold chain transformed into Professor Gregory J. Bedcarrots, the future Gregory whom Gregory had met so long ago. This Gregory took one look at our Gregory and said simply, “Oh, so you’ve brought the brain back for me have you? Where is it?”

“I, uh…” Gregory began to stammer and shake as the older Gregory started towards the brain that the bag had left rotting on the grass.

“What’s going on?” the older Gregory asked, finally noticing the other Gregorys.

But before Gregory could answer, the final piece of his life— the piece of wood from his coffin— exploded suddenly into a stiff hard corpse.

Gregory screamed and fell to his knees in despair. The younger ones started to cry.

“Keep calm,” he heard one of the older Gregorys say. “Everybody hold hands.”

“Good idea,” Professor Gregory J. Bedcarrots agreed, tucking Einstein’s brain under his arm.

Gregory jumped to his feet in fear, “No!” he exclaimed wildly. “Don’t touch each other!”

“Don’t do it!” Penny echoed. “You could turn into stone!”

“It will be fine,” the older Gregory said calmly. “I’m a scientist.”

“No, please!” Gregory begged desperately. He ran to the older Gregorys and tried to reason with them but they carelessly brushed him aside. Gregory had always been a somewhat stubborn and defiant young boy and he really could not compete with the combined obstinacy of so many of himself.

One by one the Gregorys got into a circle and took one another’s hand. The younger Gregorys had to be carried and one in particular (the toddler) kept trying to run off and had to be restrained by the fifteen year old. When the rest were assembled, one of the older Gregorys said firmly to our petrified Gregory, “Come on now! Don’t be selfish.”

“Go on son,” the elderly Mrs Bedcarrots said gently. “It won’t hurt you. It didn’t hurt you last time.”

“Last time?” Gregory muttered in confusion. Was this just the ramblings of a senile old lady, or did his mother know something he did not know?

“It never hurts you,” his mother continued quietly.

But before Gregory could ask further questions, one of the middle-aged Gregorys came and yanked him by the arm, forcing him into the circle. Gregory contemplated fighting, but he felt exhausted, confused, and sick to his stomach, so in weary surrender he closed his eyes and completed the circle. He felt an electric current flash through him and crackling, like white noise, filled his ears.

For the casual observer, it was a most peculiar sight; a multitude of the same person stood holding hands with himself in all sincerity and seriousness. Few scenarios could be so pertinent, so tragic and yet so delightful.

Penny gave a distressed sob as a flash of light surrounded the Gregorys. Mr and Mrs Bedcarrots, however, simply looked on fondly as their one and only son (as many as thirty of him) vanished into thin air.

Just before it happened, Gregory felt a sharp pain in the back of his head and cried out helplessly, “I love you Penny!”

And, just before everything turned to black, he heard her reply, in her tiny squeaky voice, “Thank you—!”

Story Soup 1.21

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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 the bag pulls out of his pouch. ‘Other’ suggestions included a ‘tiny tin penguin’, a ‘lucky penny’ and a ‘memory wiper or time stopping device’. But with 44% of the vote the winning choice was an Umbilical cord.

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

Gregory Bedcarrots: the truth is out of the Bag.

If you have ever woken up in the middle of a dream and wondered where you are, you will understand a little of how Gregory was beginning to feel. He rubbed his aching head and pinched himself as he watched the bag pull out nothing less than a grey slimy umbilical cord from his pouch. At the sight of the living bag, Mrs Bedcarrots let out a scream and Mr Bedcarrots reached for a spade. Penny’s mother fainted and her father began to swear. The policepeople, who were most comfortable dealing with pesky youths and speeding motorists, had no idea how to respond to a talking armadillo bag with an umbilical cord and simply took off their hats and scratched their heads. Penny did her best to appease the grown ups by saying sensible things like, “We can explain,” and, “Don’t jump to conclusions!” But this just served to make the grown ups more irate.

“Is this meant to be a joke?” Mr Bedcarrots exclaimed in fury, sparks of spit flying off his tongue.

“Who’s controlling that bloody puppet?” Mr Parsnip demanded, pointing an angry finger at the bag.

“Is he holding a snake?” muttered P.C Henry, the former bag lady.

“This isn’t good for my nerves,” Mrs Bedcarrots whimpered, sinking miserably to the ground.

With a shriek of frustration, Penny ran between them and stomped her foot. “This is all getting rather out of hand,” she said sternly. “Now then, unless any of you think yourself clever enough to deal with talking bags and time worms and the brain of a dead scientist, I think you all had better calm down and listen to me.”

The grown ups exchanged affronted looks but none of them were brave or foolish enough to protest further. With disgruntled snorts they fell silent and gathered round Penny.

With the grown ups temporarily at bay, Gregory turned to the bag in horror and indicated the shiny umbilical cord. “What is that?” he muttered.

“It’s yours,” the bag said slyly. “Well, mine now.”

“What do you mean?” Gregory asked in confusion.

“I got it on the day of your birth.” The bag gave a strange grin.

“Don’t be stupid,” Gregory said irritably. “I was there. You wouldn’t even look, you were so scared.”

“I don’t mean then,” the bag said with a chuckle. “I went back another day.” He started to fumble deeper into his pouch and then let out a smug “Ta da!” as he flashed a handful of time worms.

“Where did you get them?” Gregory demanded.

“Oh, you know,” the bag gave an airy sigh. “I had to find something to do during all those long days in the summer when I was cooped up in your room with nothing but the playstation…” He unzipped another compartment from inside himself and tipped the contents onto the ground.

Gregory’s jaw hung in shock. “Those are my first shoes!” he said, nudging a pair of pale blue booties with his foot.

“Yes,” said the bag with a nod. “And this is your first tooth… And your first pencil…” He pawed through his peculiar treasures, naming each item, much to Gregory’s shock and revulsion. “This is from your ninth birthday,” said the bag, waving a yellow candle. “And this is a lock of your wife’s hair.”

“Wife?” Gregory went white with shock. “You’ve seen my future?”

“Oh yes!” the bag gave a chortle.

Penny looked up from her lecture with the parents, a look of fright etched upon her face at the mention of Gregory’s wife.

This made the bag chuckle even more.

“This isn’t right!” Gregory said angrily. “How dare you go through my life like this!”

But the bag ignored him and handed him a piece of brown wood. “Now this is special,” he said with an eerie whisper. “This is from your coffin.”

Gregory dropped the wood in fright.

“Strange isn’t it,” the bag said with a shrug. “What is life but fleeting moments in which we prepare to die? And oh, how we might live differently if we could see it all in a flash…” He gave a deep sigh and itched one of his polyester feet. Then he reached deep into himself and pulled out Einstein’s brain. “Gee, this thing is really getting on my nerves. Not as exciting as Shakespeare’s brain, I can assure you!” He reached into himself once more and pulled out a second shrivelled brain.

“Where did you get that from?” Gregory asked, aghast.

“Oh, just on my travels,” the bag replied nonchalantly.

Gregory looked at him in confusion. “Who are you?” he muttered.

The bag said nothing for a moment and then gave a cough as he began to stretch the umbilical cord between his fingers. “Watch this,” he said to Gregory with a grin.

As the cord was pulled and stretched, Gregory felt his stomach churning inside him. He rubbed his eyes in dismay, gazing in confusion as the garden appeared to bend and distort before his very eyes. “Stop that!” he snapped angrily.

The bag stopped abruptly and then began to pluck the cord instead. “Look at them,” he whispered, cocking his head towards Penny and the others.

Gregory turned and gasped. At the striking of the umbilical cord, Penny had begun to shrink, their parents were growing older and older by the second, and the three policepeople had turned into stone.

“What are you doing?” Gregory hissed.

“It’s not my fault,” the bag said with a shrug. “The whispers of time are going to their heads.”

Within seconds Penny was the size of a hamster and their parents were so old and wrinkly that they had almost turned inside out.

“Stop it please!” Gregory begged, shaking from head to toe. To see his parents disintegrate so rapidly was highly distressing, not least because they themselves seemed not to have noticed a change.

“A bit nippy today, isn’t it?” the elderly Mrs Bedcarrots was heard to remark nonchalantly to her husband.

“Is that a mouse?” the frail old Mr Bedcarrots remarked in reply, swiping for the miniature Penny who began to sob.

“Please!” Gregory appealed to the bag. “Who are you? What are you doing?”

The bag gave a smug sniff, pulled Gregory’s blue baby booties onto his polyester feet, shoved Gregory’s first tooth into his threaded mouth and swung the umbilical cord over his shoulder. Then he closed his eyes, muttered something under his breath, and clicked his scratchy fingers together. In an instant he began to grow and stretch. His button eyes fell off, making way for real dark human ones, and orange hair began to grow where brown stitching had been. Gregory gawped in horror as the bag transformed into a half bag half ginger human hybrid before his very eyes. When fully transformed, the bag man gave a twirl and let out a satisfied sigh. “Well, aren’t I handsome!” he said with a chuckle.

“Who are you?” Gregory repeated dumbly.

“I’m anyone I want to be,” the bag man replied. “In any place and any time. Right now, I am a little bit bag and a little bit you.” He patted Gregory’s umbilical cord and grinned.

“Wh-what?” Gregory spluttered. “Who, I mean, how—? I thought you said the bag lady made you?”

“She did,” the bag man said with a grin. “She made me in the middle of a wormhole. It had broken down somewhere between Athens 5BC and New York 2050, and she used the opportunity to experiment with threads of time from the wormhole. But seeing as I was created outside of time and space my fate does not hinge on hers. I simply exist. I am not tainted by time like you mere mortals!” The bag man paused for dramatic effect, but Gregory was far too stunned to speak and said nothing, so the bag man continued mournfully, “My only regret has always been that the daft old bat made me a bag and not a human; whoever wanted to be a bag? So when you and Penny temporarily abandoned your mission in favour of selling alien pencils to the tourists, I took advantage of all the spare time worms sitting unused in your desk drawer and set about putting things right. I began collecting bits of your life in the hope that I might be able to form an identity as a man. Humans have certain privileges that bags cannot enjoy— housing benefit and free health care for example. Now that I am a man, I can be truly free!” He gave a delighted cackle and then added flippantly, “Oh and Gregory, I hope you don’t mind but I intend to call myself the Right Honourable Lord Greg B. Carrots. What do you think?”

Gregory fell to the floor, clutching his head in confusion as he began to cry.

“Wait,” the bag man’s voice sounded softer. “Don’t be frightened, Gregory.”

“But, but,” Gregory began to stammer. “What’s going on? What will you do to me?”

The bag man said nothing for a moment, and then gave a smile. With all the audacity of a street rat on a flying carpet, he held out his hand and said softly, “Do you trust me?”