Have YOUR say in the story
It’s morning, and Eric and Jacob are still arguing.
‘I touched it first,’ says Jacob. ‘Look, you can see the burn.’
‘That’s not true. I’ve got a burn too.’ Eric holds his hand under Jacob’s nose.
‘Whatever,’ says Jacob, emptying the end of a sherbet fountain down his gullet. ‘Nothing happened – it’s not like Tom’s meteorite. S’useless.’
Eric picks up baby otter and flies him through the air. Baby otter’s tiny cloak flares out like a miniature superhero. ‘We might not have found out yet. It might be something really weird. What did you wish for? Jacob?’
‘Not telling,’ says Jacob.
Eric arranges the Woodland Friends badger family into a group around a table.
‘Don’t tell me,’ says Jacob, a look of disgust creeping across his fat cheeks, ’you wished for world peace and a box of Woodland Friends.’
We’re in my bedroom, in Grandma’s house. It’s the only room that isn’t being repaired after the Jupiter episode. Unfortunately, because Tilly’s room was almost completely destroyed, I’ve now got all her Woodland Friends living on my floor. It was either that, or Tilly. Although the Woodland Friends are only four inches tall and made of plastic, I decided they were more fun. Mum and Dad got Tilly.
‘I tried your meteorite,’ I say. ‘I tried holding it and shrinking something – but nothing happened.’
‘Perhaps you’ve lost your power?’ says Jacob, a smile on his face.
‘Of course not,’ I say, but my heart sinks. He could be right – I haven’t actually shrunk anything for ages.
I wonder which is more scary – shrinking things, sometimes the wrong things; or finding that I can’t shrink things?
‘You haven’t, have you, Tom?’ asks Eric. ‘Could we test it?’
I take a deep breath, and take my meteorite from the bedside table. It’s smaller than the one that fell last night and fits neatly in the palm of my hand. ‘What shall I shrink?’
Eric picks up a comic. ‘This? It can’t do any harm.’
I stand back, holding my hand about six inches in front of my face. The comic lying on the bedside rug fits neatly inside the circle of my thumb and my middle finger.
I turn the meteorite over in my pocket and
‘I knew you could still do it!’ says Tilly, bursting into the room. ‘I knew it.’
She leaps forward and grabs the tiny comic from the floor.
‘It’s so lovely – so perfect – so completely Woodland Friends. Would you like it, baby otter?’ she says, wedging it into the paw of the small plastic figure. ‘So now – I’d like more.’
She stands, hands on hips in the middle of my bedroom.
Eric sits behind her, his mouth open. Jacob’s brow lowers, and he takes an imaginary shot at her with an imaginary gun.
‘More?’ I say.
‘Yes – more,’ she says. ‘More tiny things – more things for the Woodland Friends. They cost loads in the shops, and if I get them from you, they’re free.’
‘No – Tilly, I promised Grandma I wouldn’t.’
Tilly’s face twists into a mask of fury. ‘WHAT? I’ll tell Grandma you just shrank that comic.’
I think about it for a second, do a risk assessment. ‘It doesn’t matter, she won’t mind.’
‘I want you to shrink me a horse trough, a bakery . . .’ she lists them on her fingers, ‘ . . . a load of books, a digital camera . . . a computer, a printer, a working bathroom, some lights, some hot water . . .’
‘No,’ I say.
‘It’s not fair,’ says Tilly. ‘If you made small things then we could all play together.’ She reaches out towards Jacob, who pulls back as if stung. ‘We could have a huge wonderful Woodland Friends party, with everything real. Balloons, tiny crisps, sausages, fairy lights, all of it – and we could use all the families at once, the otters, the badgers, the sheep . . .’
‘But things grow back,’ says Eric. ‘If Tom shrank the bakery, it would grow back in your bedroom. It would destroy it again.’
‘So?’ says Tilly. ‘Better than a stupid planet. Anyway – what about the small things? Crisps, chocolate.’
I shake my head. ‘You’d have to buy them first.’
Tilly raises her eyebrows then sinks her face into a sad pout. ‘You don’t love me. If you loved me, you’d shrink things for me.’
It’s difficult, but I say, ‘I love you, Tilly – of course I love you.’
Jacob erupts into giggles.
‘Well it doesn’t seem like it,’ says Tilly stamping the floor. ‘You never play with me. You never shrink things, you never do anything I want to do.’
‘Anyway – no,’ I say again.
Tilly pauses, and looks down at her Woodland Friends. ‘You’ve been messing with my toys.’
‘I touched baby otter,’ says Eric. ‘And –’
It appears that Tilly’s hair stands on end. Her head certainly gets bigger and her voice fills the room, so that I step back against the door, and Jacob creeps towards the window.
‘NEVER, NEVER, NEVER touch my Woodland Friends,’ she shrieks. ‘EVER.’
‘But you wanted me to make things for them, so that we could all play together?’
She swings round, her eyes wide and wild.
‘Yes – I did. But that’s different – I GET TO CHOOSE!’
I stand back and wait. She goes still – her body droops, her shoulders sag, but her hands come up in prayer.
‘Please shrink things for me, Tom, pretty please.’ Her face is all sunshine and roses. She thinks she’s irresistible. ‘It’s my birthday next week . . .’
I shake my head.
‘In that case . . .’ The sunshine and roses vanish under a thundercloud. ‘In that case . . . I will make you suffer for it. I will have my revenge.’
She throws the door open, so that it bangs against the wall again, raises her nose in the air, and stomps out onto the landing, kicking the Woodland Friends as she goes.
‘I will have my revenge – and you’ll wish you’d never said no,’ she shouts. ‘By the time I’ve finished, you’ll wish – you’ll wish you’d never even been born!’
There’s a crash further down the landing as Mum and Dad’s door slams.
I close my door gently.
We sit back on the floor, staring at the Woodland Friends.
‘Gosh,’ says Eric, cleaning his glasses on the corner of his T-shirt.
‘Yes,’ I say.
‘That,’ says Jacob, ‘is exactly why we can’t have girls in Field Craft.’ He flings baby otter up towards the ceiling and catches him in a mug of cold cocoa. ‘They’re too nasty.’