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 greets Gregory and our gang in the Congo. 50% of you opted for choices of your own, suggestions including ‘Natives pointing bows and arrows at them’, ‘a beautiful land of Darrens,’ ‘a very courteous hotelier,’ ‘Gorillas wanting Einstein’s brain,’ and ‘the dinosaur’s long-lost family’. I put them all in a hat and at random one was chosen…
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Gregory Bedcarrots dances a dainty tango.
Their arrival in the Congo was signalled by a flash of lightning and a tremendous clap of thunder followed by a gigantic wave of water gushing into the wormhole. It appeared that they had arrived in the middle of a storm and as they scurried quickly out of the flooded wormhole they could not help but feel a little apprehensive. This was not helped by the bag who remarked jovially that the Congo is the place in the world where one is most likely to be struck by lightning. But just before anyone could insist that they leave, a huge gust of wind swept aside the leaves of a nearby tree and their anxiety melted away at the glorious sight that met their eyes. There, spread before them as far as the eye could see, lay a striking land of beautiful Darrens dancing wildly in every colour of the rainbow. I feel words cannot do justice to the splendour that lay before them, so please allow me instead to present you with an artist’s impression of the grand scene, as seen through the eyes of Gregory James Bedcarrots:
(The man in the bottom right is Henry. He turned positively delirious at the sight of all the Darrens and the wisdom which they began to impart to him was almost too much for him to bear). The Darrens who had come with them from Professor Harvey’s laboratory ran from their company without so much as a backward glance and heartily joined the wild rumpus.
Gregory gave a heavy sigh and said, “That’s that then.”
Penny gave him a kind smile and said, “It’s beautiful isn’t it? No wonder they were so keen to come home.”
“Yes,” Gregory replied tersely. “Let’s go then.” He retrieved a time worm from his pocket and gave Penny a nudge.
Penny hesitated for a moment then gave a shrug and bent down in the drenched dirt, but before she could write anything, Henry gave her a gentle tap on the shoulder.
“Let’s stay a while longer. They’ve just started singing…” he said dreamily, staring in wonder at the thousand wonderful dinosaurs.
The bag raised an eyebrow and said very seriously, “Birds fly, fish swim and dinosaurs sing.”
“Come on,” Gregory snapped impatiently. “Let’s just go—!” But then he gave a gasp and stopped in wonder, for in that moment he heard it too.
One by one the Darrens turned and looked him in the eye as with one voice they sung…
Dear friend forgive my late address I knew not how to say it best Count not my silence mere defiance My tongue was caught; my heart no less
What blesséd curse to multiply Though twice the love, more tears to cry A sad lament: our time is spent And you’ll be missed a thousand times
Grand futures to you all I wish For soon the past will swallow this Though some will mock or scowl in shock Be not ashamed of what they missed When they insist we don’t exist.
The song was so sweet and enchanting that it appeared to reach deep into Gregory’s very soul, shining light on unspeakable truths hidden from the world since the beginning of time. As the full extent of Darren’s ethereal magic washed over them, Gregory could not help but sweep Penny off her feet and dance with her amongst the reeds. And it was there, inside the sweet music, beneath the pouring rain, in the deep heart of the Congo, that Gregory and Penny shared a kiss.
The next few minutes passed like a blur. The rain pounded harder on their heads, the Darrens sang louder, and the bag gave a solemn lecture about the dangers of going deaf from a passionate kiss. Henry said something about quitting science and going back to live a life of charity so Gregory and Penny gave him a time worm and bid him farewell. Then they danced a while longer until eventually (after a teary goodbye with the Darrens) they linked arms with the bag and left for home.
Within minutes, they had crash-landed in Gregory’s garden, in the middle of Mrs Bedcarrots’ perfect pansies with soil up their noses and bruised heads from the landing. All previous euphoria and serenity was instantly wiped from their minds as Gregory and Penny rolled lazily out of the hole like a couple of hung-over monkeys.
Gregory gave a little moan, wondering for a moment who he was and where he had been. Then, catching eyes with Penny he remembered with horror their kiss and let out a mortified splutter. At the same time, Penny blushed and grimaced, but before either of them could speak, a little “Ahem” from the bag cast their attention onto more serious matters: There in the next garden stood Mr and Mrs Bedcarrots, Mr and Mrs Parsnip, three policemen, a reporter from the Daily Mail, and the other Gregory (also known as James, the stone man), alive and well and sipping camomile tea.