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!
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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.