Tag Archives: congo

Story Soup 1.19


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…

The next instalment will be posted in the next week, 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 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.


Story Soup 1.18


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 and Penny should do next. 38% of you had ‘Other’ ideas. I quite liked the suggestion that they should ‘harness all the Darrens to a sleigh like Santa does with reindeer’, but then I noticed that two different voters had suggested that they ask Henry to ask the Darrens what they want to do… so since they have the majority, we’ll go with that!

The next instalment will be posted in the next week, 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; feeling snubbed.

Gregory, who was incredibly tired, stood with the prefect expression of vacant gormlessness.

“We should have just stayed at home,” he said dumbly.

“Yeah, smart thinking, Idiot!” the bag said wryly. He began to chuckle and then stopped as he caught sight of the multitude of Darrens surrounding them. “Blimey! What happened?” he asked in shock.

Penny and Gregory filled him in on all that had happened whilst he was laying in pieces on the floor. When they got to the bit about Professor Harvey’s plan to exchange their brains for those belonging to monkeys, the bag guffawed and said, “Would have been an improvement if you ask me!”

“Actually it was really frightening!” Penny said hotly.

“Ooh!” teased the bag, “Afraid of a little surgery are you?” He whipped out his sewing needles and waved them menacingly.

Penny glared at him and turned to Gregory. “What are we going to do?” she asked impatiently. “We can’t exactly take all these dinosaurs home!”

But Gregory did not answer. He was watching Henry very curiously. “Are they still speaking to you?” he enquired.

“Oh yes…” Henry said dreamily. “Wisdom more precious than rubies…”

“Oh good! That’s nice, isn’t it!” Gregory tried to sound cheery but the truth was he felt a little bit hurt that it was this strange man who could hear the Darrens and not him.

“Gregory!” Penny came over and waved a hand in front of Gregory’s face. “I said; what are we going to do?”

Gregory looked at her, gave a sigh, and said, “I don’t know.” Then, rather grudgingly, he added, “Maybe we should ask Henry to ask the Darrens what they want.”

“Good idea!” Penny said brightly.

Gregory gave a half hearted shrug and said, “Henry, could you please ask the Darrens if they want anything.”

Henry gave a solemn nod and then addressed the Darrens. “Dear friends,” he said seriously. “We would like to know whether you want anything.” He listened for a moment and then smiled.

“Well?” asked Gregory, rather tetchily.

“They would like to go to the Congo,” Henry said.

“The Congo?” repeated Gregory in bewilderment. “Why do they want to go there?”

Henry posed the question, listened and then smiled once more. “It is their home,” he said finally.

Gregory looked at him in disbelief and then looked at the crowd of Darrens. At the mention of the Congo they had begun to dance with glee. If only Gregory and Penny could hear them, they would have heard them bursting into delightful song. Henry heard it and was moved to tears.

“So they want us to take them back in time to the Congo…” began Penny slowly.

“No, no!” Henry said dreamily. “The Congo in your present day, they say.”

Gregory raised an eyebrow and Penny scratched her head but there was no denying the enthusiasm of the Darrens who were now bouncing up and down in wild excitement.

“Well if that’s where they want to go…” Gregory conceded softly. He was feeling rather wounded as he had secretly hoped that the Darrens might have insisted on coming home with them.

He hoped that at the very least they would be telling Henry nice things about Penny and himself, but all Henry kept repeating was, “The Congo. They seem very happy about going to the Congo…”

It seemed that Darren wasn’t as attached to Gregory as Gregory had grown towards him. Gregory gave a cough and said firmly, “Come on then, let’s go outside and make a wormhole.”

But at this, the bag gave a great howl of fury. “No!” he said petulantly, stamping its polyester foot. “No more adventures!”

“Oh come on,” Penny pleaded. “The Darrens really want to go there, and if it wasn’t for them you’d still be lying in a heap on the floor.”

“I don’t care,” the bag said priggishly. “Somewhere called Congo is bound to be horrendous. There’ll be insects and alligators and all sorts…” He began a spirited rant on the many treacherous and mysterious creatures they might face in such a place as the Congo.

“Trust me,” he concluded vehemently. “Only an idiot would venture somewhere so unknown! Are you an idiot?”

Gregory turned to him wearily. “I think I preferred you when you were torn to pieces,” he said nastily.

At this, the bag gave a gasp and then snapped back, “I wish that professor had succeeded in ripping your smelly brain out. If he was here I’d shake his hand!”

Gregory opened his mouth to reply but Penny put a hand on his shoulder and said wisely, “Don’t listen to him. He’s just a bag.”

The bag, who seemed rougher round the edges following his near death experience, spat some stuffing onto the floor and muttered, “Stupid monkeys.”

With a huff of annoyance, Penny ran to the far side of the room and retrieved Einstein’s brain.

“Oh!” the bag cried in protest. “Keep that thing away from me! It hurts my head! It’s like being suffocated with smog, watching paint dry, wearing socks on a beach, eating nothing but sprouts and sprouting nothing but—”

But before he could protest further Penny yanked his zip open and thrust the brain inside.

The bag gave a little shake and a swift nod. “Marvellous,” he said jovially. “Now look here comrades, I don’t see why persons with such high calibres as ours couldn’t have a jolly old time in the Congo! Now, I’m game if you are?”

“Yes,” Penny said, stifling a giggle. “We’re game!”

Henry (prodded by Gregory) led the way out of the laboratory and into the open air. Dreary clouds hung overhead and the bag murmured something about rain coming soon.

Gregory found a nice clean patch of soil and said, “This will do. Let’s get out of this place!”

Penny (being the better speller) wrote their destination in the soil; The Congo, 2010, and everybody watched in silence as Gregory retrieved a time worm from his pocket and placed it on the ground. The worm began to chew through the soil and when the hole was big enough they all jumped in. (Again, Henry needed a bit of prodding, fretting over whether he was about to be buried alive; but eventually one of the Darrens told him sternly to take heart and not be frightened, and he took a deep breath and followed the others in.) It was a little bit squashed in the wormhole what with three sweaty humans, one serious bag and one hundred smiling dinosaurs all jostling for space, but spirits were high and everybody was reasonably content, so the time passed quickly.

Within minutes they felt the humidity rising as a flash of tropical sun burst through the wormhole and sooner than you could say Um Bongo, Um Bongo, They drink it in the Congo, they found that they had arrived.