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Steven Wu and the Five Mean Rats

A Fairy Tale
by Dove Windsor

Once upon a time there was a giving boy called Steven Wu. He was on the way to see his Clarke Donaldson, when he decided to take a short cut through Gurglebridge.

It wasn't long before Steven got lost. He looked around, but all he could see were trees. Nervously, he felt into his bag for his favourite toy, Bunny, but Bunny was nowhere to be found! Steven began to panic. He felt sure he had packed Bunny. To make matters worse, he was starting to feel hungry.

Unexpectedly, he saw a mean rat dressed in a purple jumper disappearing into the trees.

"How odd!" thought Steven.

For the want of anything better to do, he decided to follow the peculiarly dressed rat. Perhaps it could tell him the way out of the forest.

Eventually, Steven reached a clearing. He found himself surrounded by houses made from different sorts of food. There was a house made from swedes, a house made from biscuits, a house made from muffins, a house made from doughnuts, a house made from biscuits and a house made from lollipops.

Steven could feel his tummy rumbling. Looking at the houses did nothing to ease his hunger.

"Hello!" he called. "Is anybody there?"

Nobody replied.

Steven looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else's chimney. Obviously it would be impolite to eat a whole house, but perhaps it would be considered acceptable to nibble the odd fixture or lick the odd fitting, in a time of need.

A cackle broke through the air, giving Steven a fright. A witch jumped into the space in front of the houses. She was carrying a cage. In that cage was Bunny!

"Bunny!" shouted Steven. He turned to the witch. "That's my toy!"

The witch just shrugged.

"Give Bunny back!" cried Steven.

"Not on your nelly!" said the witch.

"At least let Bunny out of that cage!"

Before she could reply, five mean rats rushed in from a footpath on the other side of the clearing. Steven recognised the one in the purple jumper that he'd seen earlier. The witch seemed to recognise him too.

"Hello Big Rat," said the witch.

"Good morning." The rat noticed Bunny. "Who is this?"

"That's Bunny," explained the witch.

"Ooh! Bunny would look lovely in my house. Give it to me!" demanded the rat.

The witch shook her head. "Bunny is staying with me."

"Um... Excuse me..." Steven interrupted. "Bunny lives with me! And not in a cage!"

Big Rat ignored him. "Is there nothing you'll trade?" he asked the witch.

The witch thought for a moment, then said, "I do like to be entertained. I'll release him to anybody who can eat a whole front door."

Big Rat looked at the house made from lollipops and said, "No problem, I could eat an entire house made from lollipops if I wanted to."

"That's nothing," said the next rat. "I could eat two houses."

"There's no need to show off," said the witch. Just eat one front door and I'll let you have Bunny."

Steven watched, feeling very worried. He didn't want the witch to give Bunny to Big Rat. He didn't think Bunny would like living with a mean rat, away from his house and all his other toys.

The other four rats watched while Big Rat put on his bib and withdrew a knife and fork from his pocket.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Big Rat. "Just you watch!"

Big Rat pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from biscuits. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

Eventually, Big Rat started to get bigger - just a little bit bigger at first. But after a few more fork-fulls of biscuits, he grew to the size of a large snowball - and he was every bit as round.

"Erm... I don't feel too good," said Big Rat.

Suddenly, he started to roll. He'd grown so round that he could no longer balance!

"Help!" he cried, as he rolled off down a slope into the forest.

Big Rat never finished eating the front door made from biscuits and Bunny remained trapped in the witch's cage.

Average Rat stepped up, and approached the house made from muffins.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Average Rat. "Just you watch!"

Average Rat pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from muffins. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

After a while, Average Rat started to look a little queasy. She grew greener...

   ...and greener.

A woodcutter walked into the clearing. "What's this bush doing here?" he asked.

"I'm not a bush, I'm a rat!" said Average Rat.

"It talks!" exclaimed the woodcutter. "Those talking bushes are the worst kind. I'd better take it away before somebody gets hurt."

"No! Wait!" cried Average Rat, as the woodcutter picked her up. But the woodcutter ignored her cries and carried the rat away under his arm.

Average Rat never finished eating the front door made from muffins and Bunny remained trapped in the witch's cage.

Little Rat stepped up, and approached the house made from doughnuts.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Little Rat. "Just you watch!"

Little Rat pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from doughnuts. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

After five or six platefuls, Little Rat started to fidget uncomfortably on the spot.

He stopped eating doughnuts for a moment, then grabbed another forkful.

But before he could eat it, there came an almighty roar. A bottom burp louder than a rocket taking off, propelled Little Rat into the sky.

"Aggghhhhhh!" cried Little Rat. "I'm scared of heigh..."

Little Rat was never seen again.

Little Rat never finished eating the front door made from doughnuts and Bunny remained trapped in the witch's cage.

Tiny Rat stepped up, and approached the house made from biscuits.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Tiny Rat. "Just you watch!"

Tiny Rat pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from biscuits. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

However, on the next mouthful, the food fell straight out of Tiny Rat's mouth. She tried to stuff in another forkful of biscuits, but once again, the food fell out. There just wasn't enough room left in her belly.

"This is just not fair!" declared Tiny Rat, and stomped off into the forest.

Tiny Rat never finished eating the front door made from biscuits and Bunny remained trapped in the witch's cage.

Even-Tinier Rat stepped up, and approached the house made from lollipops.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Even-Tinier Rat. "Just you watch!"

Even-Tinier Rat pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from lollipops. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

Suddenly, Even-Tinier Rat stopped eating and started dancing. While he danced, he sang at the top of his lungs, "Lollipops! Watch me eat all the lollipops!"

"It looks as though the lollipops are making you hyperactive," laughed the witch.

"Oh no they're not!" cried Even-Tinier Rat. "I'm always this excited." With that, he walked into a tree.

Bong!

Even-Tinier Rat banged his head and fell backwards onto his bottom. He passed out, exhausted.

Even-Tinier Rat never finished eating the front door made from lollipops and Bunny remained trapped in the witch's cage.

"That's it," said the witch. "I win. I get to keep Bunny."

"Not so fast," said Steven. "There is still one front door to go. The front door of the house made from swedes. And I haven't had a turn yet.

"I don't have to give you a turn!" laughed the witch. "My game. My rules."

The woodcutter's voice carried through the forest. "I think you should give him a chance. It's only fair."

"Fine," said the witch. "But you saw what happened to the rats. He won't last long."

"I'll be right back," said Steven.

"What?" said the witch. "Where's your sense of impatience? I thought you wanted Bunny back."

Steven ignored the witch and gathered a hefty pile of sticks. He came back to the clearing and started a small camp fire. Carefully, he broke off a piece of the door of the house made from swedes and toasted it over the fire. Once it had cooked and cooled just a little, he took a bite. He quickly devoured the whole piece.

Steven sat down on a nearby log.

"You fail!" cackled the witch. "You were supposed to eat the whole door."

"I haven't finished," explained Steven. "I am just waiting for my food to go down."

When Steven's food had digested, he broke off another piece of the door made from swedes. Once more, he toasted his food over the fire and waited for it to cool just a little. He ate it at a leisurely pace then waited for it to digest.

Eventually, after several sittings, Steven was down to the final piece of the door made from swedes. Carefully, he toasted it and allowed it to cool just a little. He finished his final course. Steven had eaten the entire front door of the house made from swedes.

The witch stamped her foot angrily. "You must have tricked me!" she said. "I don't reward cheating!"

"I don't think so!" said a voice. It was the woodcutter. He walked back into the clearing, carrying his axe. "This little boy won fair and square. Now hand over Bunny or I will chop your broomstick in half."

The witch looked horrified. She grabbed her broomstick and placed it behind her. Then, huffing, she opened the door of the cage.

Steven hurried over and grabbed Bunny, checking that his favourite toy was all right. Fortunately, Bunny was unharmed.

Steven thanked the woodcutter, grabbed a quick souvenir, and hurried on to meet Clarke. It was starting to get dark.

When Steven got to Clarke's house, his threw his arms around him.

"I was so worried!" cried Clarke. "You are very late."

As Steven described his day, he could tell that Clarke didn't believe him. So he grabbed a napkin from his pocket.

"What's that?" asked Clarke.

Steven unwrapped a doorknob made from biscuits. "Pudding!" he said.

Clarke almost fell off his chair.

The End

Created on 3rd September 2021.





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