Excerpt for Bogamus in Space by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Bogamus in Space

By Nathan A. Jones

© 2017 Nathan A. Jones. All rights reserved.

Cover illustration by Sharon Davey

© 2017 Sharon Davey. All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition

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Bogamus and Friends Series

Bogamus the Troll

Villainous Vic

Bogamus in Space


Meet Bogamus



The Bashers

Bealey Bugle – Monday

The Troll Games

Foiled Again

Close Encounters

Madam Mayor

Bealey Bugle – Tuesday

At the Zoo

Bealey Welcomes the World


Bealey Bugle – Wednesday

Strange Sheep



Bealey Bugle – Thursday

Hungry Work

Bun Deliveries

The Bun Train


Bealey Bugle – Friday

And the Winner Is …

Home Safely

Meet Bogamus

Bogamus is a troll, and a particularly fine example of a troll for that matter. He is ten feet tall, has green skin, is thin and scrawny, with a pot belly sticking out from his middle. But he does have a good temper and a particularly nice smile. Bogamus, like all trolls, spends most of his time under his bridge where he listens for passers-by crossing overhead. When he hears someone walking over his bridge he springs out from under the bridge and, in the best trollish tradition, scares them witless. You might think this a strange way for someone to act, but then again what would you do if you found somebody climbing over your home?

Once upon a time Bogamus had a misunderstanding with the three billy goats Gruff. One of them even buffeted poor old Bogamus right off his bridge. Afterwards Bogamus had lots of adventures and at one point even left the Magical Realm and found himself in the real world. But he returned safely and now Bogamus and the three billy goats Gruff are the best of friends.


Bogamus dug his fingernails into the soft thick bark of a fallen tree. He heaved his long arms as hard as he could and scrabbled his legs, hauling his body to the top of the enormous tree trunk. Standing up straight on the top he looked around him. Spying an enormous boulder twenty yards along the riverbank he jumped to the ground, landed with a thud and sprinted off towards the huge rock. On reaching the boulder he reached up and grabbed onto the first handhold he saw, tugging and straining for all he was worth he pulled himself all the way to the top of the rock. As he dragged himself up he could be heard panting to himself.

‘Got to go quicker, huff puff, go to climb higher, puff huff, got to be first.’

From the top of the rock he looked down and along the riverbank. There he could see his bridge, which meant that he was near the end of his workout. Stood next to the bridge was a particularly large goat with a satchel strapped to his back. This was Bydor, the largest and strongest of the three billy goats Gruff. Bogamus climbed down the rock and ran the last few paces back to his bridge.

‘Good afternoon Bogamus,’ said Bydor.

‘Huff-puff-huff, yes a very, huff, good afternoon to you as well,’ gasped Bogamus.

‘There is a letter for you,’ said Bydor, who could lift even the heaviest package and so had been given the job of valley postman. Bydor stretched his neck back and, reaching into the satchel, picked up a letter with his teeth. He dropped the letter into Bogamus’s hand and clip-clopped off to make the rest of his deliveries.

Bogamus looked at the envelope, it was addressed to “Bogamus, Bogamus’s Bridge, Magical Realm”. But the letter had been all over the place on its journey. First it had been sent to the elves, who had marked it “Not know by the fair folk of the Elven Woods”, then it had been sent to the dwarves who had marked it “The Dwarf Council lets it hereby be known that no one of this name abides in the Dwarvern Caverns”. The goblins had stamped it “UNKNOWN” using one of their machines. Even the fairies had written on it, in delicate, curling letters, “We know you? No, we no know you.” Bogamus remembered the fairies and their fondness for japes and jokes.

Bogamus did not receive that many letters. Whatever was in the envelope must be very important for someone to have written it down and mailed it to him. But with all these stamps on it the letter should have arrived ages ago. Still worrying would not make it arrive any earlier, so Bogamus tore the envelope open and unfolded the letter inside. It was from his sister Salith, who lived in Troll Town with her husband Jarrid and their daughter Boonetta.

Dear Bogamus,

At this time of year Troll Town is not the best place for a growing girl like your niece Boonetta. The heat and the city fumes seem to be sapping her strength. Living in the city her skin has become so pale, not the healthy, vibrant green that it should be. Jarrid and I were thinking that it would be good for her to see some of the country. Getting some exercise in the clean mountain air would do her the world of good. I hope you don’t think that we’re imposing but we were wondering whether she could spend some time with you? I hear that you’ve done some lovely things to your bridge and I’m sure that she would have a marvellous time staying with you for, say, a week. She will be arriving on Sunday afternoon.

Your loving sister,


Sunday afternoon! But that is today! Slowly Bogamus lowered the letter, revealing a figure that at first seemed to be a smaller reflection of himself. The figure was seven feet tall and had black hair tied into bunches with pink ribbons. In one hand was a suitcase, while in the other hand they held a pink teddy bear by one of its legs.

‘Hello Uncle Bogamus,’ said the figure.

‘Er … hello Boonetta,’ replied Bogamus.

‘It’s all right Uncle Bogamus, you can call me Boo. Everyone calls me Boo. Mummy and daddy say that Teddy and me are going to stay with you for a week. Apparently, I need some mountain air to do me good.’

Bogamus folded up the letter and put it in his pocket.

‘Yes,’ said Bogamus, ‘that’s right.’

‘Uncle Bogamus, why are you sweating?’ asked Boo.

‘Because I’ve been getting the mountain air.’

‘Really, will mountain air do the same to me?’

‘Well that all depends on how much mountain air you get. Just lately I’ve been getting quite a lot.’

Boonetta frowned and said ‘But Uncle Bogamus, why have you been getting so much mountain air? And why does it make you so warm?’

‘That’s because I am in training.’

‘In training? What are you training for Uncle Bogamus?’

‘The Troll Games!’

The Troll Games were an annual contest to see which troll was the best at running, jumping, climbing, roaring, throwing and all manner of other trollish things. The winners at the Troll Games were celebrated as heroes for the rest of the year. Everyone wanted to be a winner at the Troll Games or to claim that they knew somebody who had been a winner at the Troll Games.

‘Uncle Bogamus, you are going to be in the Troll Games!’ cried Boonetta. ‘Does this mean that Teddy and me are also going to the Troll Games?’ Boo waved her pink teddy bear by its leg over her head.

‘Yes, it does,’ replied Bogamus.

‘Hooray!’ shouted Boo.

That evening Bogamus made a delicious traditional trollish meal. Cooked up were pink worms wriggling away, yellow blobs that bobbed up and down and green swirls that turned and twisted around and around in the cooking pot. This was a trollish meal for champions. At Boo’s insistence Bogamus even set out a small bowl of trollish food for Teddy, although he did not seem particularly hungry and Boo had to help him finish it.

When the meal was over Bogamus told Boo stories of his adventures and how he had met fairies, battled with an enchanter and even travelled to the real world but had managed to make his way back to his bridge in the heart of the Magical Realm. When the stories were over it was dark and time for bed. Boo went to sleep with thoughts of the Troll Games and Uncle Bogamus’s adventures swirling through her mind.


Bogamus lived high up in the mountains of the Magical Realm, a place where dainty fairies and ferocious dragons are as real as Sunday lunch or your home’s front door. You might think that such a place exists only in your imagination or at the end of your dreams, but you would be wrong. In fact, it is a real place that can be found on the Earth, you just need to know how to get there. With the right directions, you or I could arrive at the edge of the Magical Realm in no time at all. But very few people know where the gateways between the Magical Realm and the real world are and so the creatures of the Magical Realm stay in the Magical Realm and the people of the real world stay in the real world. Most of the time this is a good thing as a dragon walking down your high street would cause more than a little fuss, and the upshot of an accountant visiting the court of the fairy queen does not even bear thinking about.

The town of Bealey stood perilously close to Magical Realm, but in spite of this almost none of its inhabitants had any idea that hordes of goblins marched within a few miles of its library or that witches lived in woods that could be seen from the top of the town’s tallest buildings. But then again nobody in the Magical Realm had heard of roadworks or quarterly sales targets or even television sets, yet all these things were just as close to them.

So it was that on that very night on top of a hill just outside the town of Bealey (and not that far from Bogamus’s bridge) Professor Rawbling sat at a console covered in switches, knobs and dials. Above the console were several screens, a green line rotating around each screen. Sometimes a white blob would appear on the rotating line and the console would go ‘ping’. Professor Rawbling examined the screens, from time to time he would adjust one of the dials or flip one of the switches. Above the screens “BETI” had been painted on the wall in large, square letters. Beneath this were the words “Bealey Extra Terrestrial Investigator”. Next to Professor Rawbling sat Sarge from the Bealey Police Force.

‘Professor Rawbling, could you explain one more time what it is that we are doing here?’ asked Sarge.

Professor Rawbling did not flinch from his study of the screens. ‘Exactly the same thing that I have told you countless times before,’ he said. ‘I have applied my genius to the greatest question known to humankind.’

‘You mean solving crime?’ said Sarge.

‘No I do not mean solving crime, that is for the police to do. My genius must be preserved for the most important matters. The question I wish to solve is whether we are alone.’

‘Well, there’s only me and you in here,’ said Sarge.

‘No, not in this room! I mean, are we alone in the Universe? Is it only this planet in the entire Universe that harbours life or has life spread across the Universe like some infestation? So I have applied my genius to create all this.’ Professor Rawbling waved his hand, gesturing to the contents of the room. ‘The Bealey Extra Terrestrial Investigator, or BETI for short, is the pinnacle of my genius to date. Outside this control centre there are hundreds of the highest technological sensors and detectors, each examining a different star. Together they are designed to scour the universe for any evidence of extra-terrestrial life.’

‘Extra what?’ asked Sarge.

‘Extra-terrestrial life, living organisms from another planet.’

‘Oh, I see, you mean aliens.’

‘I believe that the common people refer to them as such, yes,’ confirmed Professor Rawbling.

‘And you need all this technology stuff to detect the aliens?’

‘The problem is not simple, it is requiring the full extent of my genius. Do you know how many stars there are in this galaxy alone?’

‘No, I can’t say that I do.’

‘There are over one-hundred-billion of them. Just counting them would be some task, but this creation of mine has to examine every single one, looking for evidence of extra-terrestrials. Building and operating this wonder takes all of my genius.’

‘So, er, what is that you need me to do then.’

‘Well,’ replied Professor Rawbling, ‘the search for alien life takes all of my concentration, all of my energy. It leaves nothing for other, lesser matters.’

‘You need me to sort out these other matters then?’ asked Sarge.

‘Indeed I do.’

‘So what are they then? Something to do with the search for aliens?’ asked Sarge.

‘No,’ answered Professor Rawbing, ‘I need you to make the tea.’

At that moment there was a knock at the door.

‘You had better go and see who that is,’ said Professor Rawbling, ‘I must not leave the sensors, the aliens may make contact at any moment.’

Sarge got up, walked over to the door and opened it. In walked P.C. George and P.C. Harriet.

‘Evening Sarge,’ said P.C. George. ‘There’s no reports of any crime tonight so I thought that, as P.C. Harriet has just joined the Bealey Police Force, I would show her the town. You know, the town hall, the library, Bealey Zoo, the park and of course the Bealey Extra Terrestrial Investigator.’

‘George is being most helpful,’ said P.C. Harriet, ‘I feel like I already know the town and it’s only my first day.’

‘Professor Rawbling invents all kinds of things,’ said P.C. George. ‘Recently he has been searching for extra-terrestrial life. So, if you see any aliens with their ray-guns while out on patrol then this is the place to come.’

‘Aliens with ray-guns!’ exclaimed Professor Rawbling from the other side of the room. ‘Utter nonsense! This is serious scientific research, not something off the television.’

‘I think that perhaps we ought to leave Professor Rawbling and Sarge to their work,’ said P.C. George. ‘There is plenty more of Bealey to see. I think we should go to Bealey Town Hall next.’

‘Thank-you so much,’ added P.C. Harriet as they left.

Sarge returned back to the BETI console and sat down next to Professor Rawbling.

‘Well?’ asked Professor Rawbling, ‘I don’t see it.’

‘There’s no aliens out there tonight then?’ replied Sarge.

‘Not the aliens, no, the cup of tea. Where’s my cup of tea?’ demanded Professor Rawbling. ‘I distinctly remember asking for a cup of tea.’

‘Right away,’ said Sarge who got up and headed off to the kitchen.

The Bashers

Meanwhile in a darkened corner on the other side of Bealey, Ma Basher lurked in the shadows. From her hiding place she scanned the surroundings. Nobody was about, the way was clear. On long, slender legs she darted from shadow to shadow, a blur amongst the evening gloom. Seconds later she was at the concealed door to the hideout. A place so secret that only the most trusted within the Bealey criminal underworld knew that it even existed, let alone where the entrance was. A gloved hand turned the door key without making even a click. She grasped the door handle and, in a single motion, drew the door open.

‘Waaaaarrrgghh!!! Geroff me.’

‘Not ’til you says sorry.’

At that very moment two figures burst from the other side of the door and cannoned into Ma Basher’s stomach. She twisted and turned back into the shadows leaving the two figures to fall onto the ground, a mass of heaving bodies with arms and legs flailing.

‘Say sorry? I ain’t done nothin’ to say sorry for,’ cried one.

‘You did! You said that I didn’t know which end of a bank to hold up.’

‘I never!’

‘You did!’

In the depths of the shadows Ma Basher rolled her eyes. The Bashers were the greatest criminal family that Bealey had ever known and yet these were the best that its next generation could manage. She strode from the shadows to where the two figures were rolling on the ground and squabbling.

‘Course I knows which end of a bank to hold up, the end with all the money in it.’

‘That’s not what you said yesterday.’

‘What did I say yesterday then?’

‘That you can’t hold up a bank as it’s too heavy.’

‘I did not!’

‘Boys, boys, stop this,’ said Ma Basher. ‘Your squabbling will give away our hideout. Now get inside and out of sight.’

Bob Basher and Tom Basher looked up from their squabble.

‘Oh crumbs,’ said Bob as they untangled themselves.

‘We’re for it now,’ added Tom as he got to his feet, ‘it’s all your fault this.’

Once inside Ma Basher shut the door, locked it and then turned to Bob and Tom.

‘So,’ said Ma Basher, ‘what do you two have to say for yourselves.’

‘Er … we’re sorry,’ mumbled Bob and Tom together.

‘Sorry what?’ asked Ma Basher.

‘We’re sorry, mother,’ said Bob and Tom.

‘Good, we’ll say no more about it then. Now come through to the planning room, we’ve got much to do before tonight’s raid.’

Ma Basher walked into an adjoining room followed by Bob and Tom. This room contained a wooden table with a few chairs scattered around it. From the ceiling a single bulb cast its light over the table and those sitting around it. Ma Basher took her place at the head of the table while Bob and Tom climbed up onto chairs on either side of her. Behind her on the wall hung a photograph showing four figures. At the back stood Ma Basher, her sleek figure standing tall over the other three. In front of her were Bob and Tom, who, even in this photograph, were elbowing and shoving each other. At the front, two eyes of a fourth figure peeked over the bottom of the picture frame.

‘Honestly,’ began Ma Basher, ‘if he were here now then what would your father say?’

‘Er … make sure you get the loot,’ said Bob.

‘No, not that,’ replied Ma Basher.

‘Don’t leave any fingerprints,’ suggested Tom.

‘He did say that but that’s not what I had in mind.’

‘I know,’ said Bob, ‘make sure you don’t get caught.’

‘Don’t be silly,’ replied Tom, ‘that’s what happened to him. He’s doing time right now ‘cos he got caught.’

‘That don’t stop it being important,’ said Bob standing on his chair and leaning across the table.

‘Enough!’ shouted Ma Basher, Bob and Tom went silent and sat back down. ‘“Always get even”, that is what he said. Tonight, we will get even with the town of Bealey for putting your father in prison. We will get our revenge.’

‘What are we going to do then?’ asked Tom.

‘We are going to steal from the very heart of Bealey,’ said Ma Basher. ‘Tonight, we will raid Bealey Town Hall.’

‘How are we going to get in?’ asked Bob.

Ma Basher produce a large key from her handbag and placed it on the table.

‘This is the key to back door of Bealey Town Hall,’ said Ma Basher. ‘Given that you two will be involved I have made the plan simple and, I hope, fool proof. We drive to the town hall in our truck. I unlock the back door and stay with truck. The pair of you go into the town hall and loot the place. You load the loot into the truck and we drive off. Any questions?’

‘What if anyone asks why we’re parked outside the town hall?’ asked Tom.

‘Simple, we are making deliveries. I have acquired some tins of paint and if people ask we are delivering tins of paint to the town hall.’

‘What sort of loot are we after?’ asked Bob.

‘Bealey Town Hall is full to the brim with priceless paintings and pictures. There are historic photographs of the town’s past, the famous oil painting of Queen Bealica on her chariot and countless other artworks. Why there’s even a painting of the old mayor. By stealing these we will cut the heart from the town of Bealey. We will get even with them for what they did to us.’

‘I’m getting the one with the chariot,’ said Tom.

‘No you won’t,’ cried Bob, ‘I want that one and all.’

‘Yeah, well I said first.’

‘No you didn’t.’



‘Quiet you two! We will all keep the loot. The Bashers have been the most infamous criminal family in Bealey for over a hundred years. This isn’t about loot, this is about us against them. They hurt us by catching your father, so we need to hurt them to get even. Do you understand?’

‘Yes,’ said Bob and Tom together.

‘Yes what?’

‘Yes, mother.’

‘Good. There is much to do tonight, we should leave at once.’

Bealey Bugle - Monday

Bealey’s Premier Newspaper

Raid on Bealey Town Hall Foiled

Last night a raid on Bealey Town Hall was foiled by the police. P.C. Harriet of the Bealey Police Force was quoted as saying, ‘It was all a bit of a surprise really, what with it being my first day on the job. P.C. George had been showing me Bealey’s landmarks, but when we came to Bealey Town Hall I thought I heard the sound of two voices arguing inside. P.C. George went to investigate the voices while I went to see if there was anything suspicious going on at the back of the town hall. I found a truck parked there. I asked the driver what she was doing and she said she was delivering paint to the town hall. On showing me the paint I enquired why all the tins contained green paint. She laughed and said that maybe the new mayor had had enough of painting the town red.

‘It was then that I heard P.C. George blowing his whistle. Moments later I saw these two little fellows come running out of the town hall shouting at each other. I think they were arguing about a chariot or something. Before I could apprehend them, they leapt into the back of the truck which sped off into the night.’

The Mayor later confirmed that nothing had been taken from the town hall. She went on to say that, ‘We have had a lucky escape. Had it not been for these brave police officers then the town’s treasured collection of artworks could have been lost to thieves.’

But who could have attempted such a daring raid? P.C. George had this to say, ‘I’d recognise those two anywhere. That’s Tom and Bob Basher. I thought we had seen the last of the Bashers when we caught old Pa Basher, but it seems that the rest of the family is still up to no good.’

Searching for Little Green Men

Professor Rawbling has just announced that Bealey has joined the space age. The Bealey Extra Terrestrial Investigator (or BETI for short) has started surveying the night sky looking for extra-terrestrial life forms. We asked him what sort of alien he thought that BETI would detect.

‘Well, us scientists know that there are many different possible forms of life that may or may not exist. However, complex computer analysis has recently revealed that it is most likely that these extra-terrestrials will be similar to human beings but with three key differences. Firstly, we expect them to be smaller than an average human. Secondly, computer analysis shows that the extra-terrestrials will be green. Lastly, the computer predicts that the average alien will most likely be a man.’

But just why is Professor Rawbling searching the skies for little green men?

‘When the extra-terrestrials land, we here in Bealey will be the first to know about it. The opportunities for the town of Bealey, if it were to be the first place to have a confirmed extra-terrestrial, would be immense. People from all over the world would flock to Bealey to see the world’s first lifeforms from a different planet.’

However, the professor dismissed suggestions that the aliens might have ray-guns saying, ‘These extra-terrestrials will have learnt how to travel between the stars. They will be super-intelligent, super-technological creatures of unimaginable complexity. Ray-guns indeed, such foolishness.’

Introducing the Bealey Bun

Joseppi’s Bakery is the place where everyone in Bealey goes to buy their bread and cakes. It was twenty years ago this week that Joseppi first started baking for the people of Bealey. To celebrate this Joseppi has today launched his latest creation: the Bealeay Bun. Joseppi had this to say, ‘For twenty years now I have been baking for the good people of Bealey. What better way to celebrate this than to bake a special bun for the wonderful town of Bealey. The Bealey Bun contains everything that I ever learnt in all the years I’ve spent baking in this beautiful town. It’s magnifico. So why not come down to Joseppi’s Bakery and try the new Bealey Bun.’

The Troll Games

Back in the Magical Realm, early the following morning Bogamus, Boo and Teddy arrived at the Troll Games. The games were quite a sight to behold and creatures from across the Magical Realm had travelled there to see the Troll Games. There were tall, elegant elves, sturdy dwarves, goblins with pointy ears and broken teeth, huge giants standing two or three times as high as Bogamus and even dainty fairies fluttering through the crowds on sparkling wings.

The competition took place in an enormous clearing within a forest. The crowd stood in a huge ring at the clearing’s edge, while the competitors performed in the middle. There were many events, each testing a different trollish ability. One of the most popular events was “Lobbin’ The Goblin”, where each troll had to see how far they could send a goblin flying through the air with a single throw. Nowadays the goblins had to carry a parachute and thankfully none of them were harmed (although one of the trolls did get his finger bitten by a goblin who thought he was being held too tightly).

A more traditional event was “Boulder Smashing”. Each troll was given two stone boulders and then had to smash the boulders together. The troll who reduced their boulders to the smallest rubble was declared the winner. Another traditional troll event was “Terrifying Chant”. Each troll gave their most fearsome roar and a panel of judges awarded scores depending on how frightened they became. There was also the “Gnome Knock”, but unfortunately Bogamus and Boo were having lunch when that event was on so they never got to see how the game was played. However, Boo did glimpse a line of small helmets and a stack of large wooden mallets set up ready for the event.

Bogamus’s event was the Vertical Race. The idea of the Vertical Race is simple, the winner is the troll who is able to get as high off the ground as possible. Trolls are allowed to use any method they like to raise themselves above the ground. Unlike the other events the Vertical Race took place outside the forest clearing, indeed competitors were allowed to travel as far as they liked provided they could be seen from the centre of the forest clearing. The Vertical Race was the last event of the Trollish Games and took place on the fifth and final day of the competition. Bogamus did not have to compete today, but like all the other Vertical Race competitors he did have to register for the event.

‘Registration for the Vertical Race event,’ said a Troll Games judge.

The first competitor sprung forward. He had immensely long, muscular legs giving him a stride nearly twice that of Bogamus.

‘Name?’ said the judge.

‘Lepler,’ replied the troll. The judge made a note of this in her papers.

‘He’s an old school competitor,’ whispered Bogamus to Boo. ‘He relies on his enormous legs to leap as high as he possibly can.’

‘Next competitor,’ called the judge.

A troll with huge hands and overgrown fingernails walked forward.

‘That’s Sequoia,’ whispered Bogamus. ’She uses her long fingernails to grip the sides of trees. She intends to climb to the top of the tallest tree she can find.’

Boo stared upwards at some of the nearby trees, they seemed to go up and up and up. She had no idea how tall they were.

The next competitor to be registered was Bogamus. He told the judge his name, she made a note of it and gave him a competitor’s bib with his name on it.

‘Uncle Bogamus, how do you intend to win?’ asked Boo when Bogamus returned from registering.

Bogamus tapped the side of his nose and said, ‘I’ll tell you later, I want to keep the others guessing. We’ll let them find out on the day.’

The final competitor to register for the Vertical Race said that his name was Swogler. He did not seem to be a particularly athletic troll. Bogamus thought that such a puny troll would struggle to climb as high as Lepler could leap, let alone as high as the trees that Sequoia would be able to climb. However, Bogamus did note that Swogler had a goblin accomplice who was called Mechanix. While few goblins are going to win a prize for cleanliness this goblin was particularly filthy with his face and hands smeared in oil and soot.

‘Do you know how he intends to win?’ asked Boo pointing at Swogler.

‘I don’t know,’ replied Bogamus, ‘I’ve never seen him or that goblin friend of his before.’

At the end of an exciting day’s games it was time for everyone to go home. As the crowd wandered away Bogamus and Boo (and Teddy) soon found that they were alone.

‘So, Uncle Bogamus,’ said Boo, ‘how is it that you intend to win the Vertical Race?’

‘I’m going to climb,’ answered Bogamus.

‘Climb what?’ said Boo.

‘Well, what’s the tallest thing that you can see from here?’ said Bogamus.

‘The trees.’

‘Well then, let’s find out what we can see from the middle of the clearing.’

Bogamus and Boo wandered into the middle of the clearing. From here the trees were further away and didn’t seem quite so tall. Bogamus turned around and pointed back along the way they had walked. He was pointing at a huge mountain that rose above the forest, Mount Trollhaug.

‘You’re going to climb a mountain!’ exclaimed Boo.

‘Sshh, not so loud,’ said Bogamus, ‘there’s still some trolls around. I have been in training so that I can run up the mountain. From the top I will be seen by the judges and, as there is nowhere higher, will be declared the winner.’

‘Wow Uncle Bogamus,’ said Boo, ‘that’s amazing. Isn’t it Teddy?’ Boo moved Teddy’s head up and down in a nod.

At that moment two figures emerged from the edge of the clearing, it was Swogler and Mechanix. They appeared to be laughing. Bogamus and Boo could just hear them talking as they walked away.

‘Thanks to you Mechanix,’ said Swogler, ‘I think we can safely say that the Vertical Race is in the bag.’

‘That’s right,’ replied Mechanix, ‘the age of climbing and jumping is over. What we’ve got is the future. Soon all sports will be like this.’

They both laughed some more as they headed off. When they were gone, Boo pointed to where Mechanix and Swogler had walked into the clearing.

‘They’re up to something, aren’t they,’ said Boo. ‘Come on Uncle Bogamus, let’s go and see what they’ve been doing.’

‘I don’t know,’ replied Bogamus, ‘I’m not sure that we should be spying on other competitors.’

‘It’s not spying,’ said Boo, ‘it’s just finding out, that’s all. Besides, Teddy says that we should, so that’s two votes to one.’

Boo headed for the edge of the clearing, Bogamus had to follow her as he was supposed to be looking after her. At the edge of the clearing they found a path that wound its way into the forest. After a little while they came to another clearing. This one was not round like the clearing used for the Troll Games but was long and narrow. At one end of the clearing there was a strange contraption. At the centre of the contraption was a chair, on either side of which stretched large canvas wings. Behind the chair was a motor which was attached by a belt to a propeller.

‘Oh wow,’ said Boo, ‘what could this possibly be?’

‘I don’t think we should touch it,’ said Bogamus, ‘I mean we don’t know what it does.’

‘But that’s the idea,’ replied Boo, ‘we have a look at it and work out what it does. Then we’ll know what they’re planning. Hey Uncle Bogamus, there’s some levers and stuff here, come and have a look.’

Bogamus climbed onto the machine. In front of the chair there was a control panel with four levers and several buttons. Each lever had a different coloured knob on the end, one was red, another blue and the other two were yellow and green. Each of the buttons had a symbol drawn on it, but there was one button that did not have a symbol but was larger than the rest and had a bright red colour. Bogamus didn’t know what any of the levers or buttons were for and did not particularly want to find out.

‘I think maybe we should get off this thing,’ said Bogamus. ‘We don’t know what any of these knobs or levers do. It might be best if we just leave it alone.’

‘Oh, well if you say so Uncle Bogamus,’ replied Boo.

At that very moment Boo dropped Teddy.

‘Oh no, I’ve dropped Teddy,’ she said and reached down with one hand to pick him up. As she reached down she steadied herself placing her other hand on the machine’s control panel. She picked Teddy off the ground and pushed down on the control panel to get herself back up. She did not know it but her hand had been on the large red button, and there was a click as she pressed it down. The wires beneath the control panel sparked and flashed and with a splutter and a bang the engine came to life. Black smoke puffed out of its exhaust as it started to chug, driving the belt and causing the propeller to rotate. Bogamus turned to see what was happening and knocked one of the levers forward. More black smoke started coming out of the engine as it chugged faster, moving the propeller faster.

‘Quick Uncle Bogamus,’ yelled Boo, ‘do something! Turn it off!’

Bogamus sat down on the chair and tried pulling the yellow leaver. This made the engine roar, the propeller was now turning so fast that the machine lurched forward.

‘Arrrgh!’ cried Boo. Even Teddy looked worried.

The machine was moving fast now, the ground zipping by beneath them.

‘Look out!’ shouted Boo. ‘We’re going to smash into those trees at the end of the clearing.’

Bogamus heaved on the green lever. The wings moved beneath them, making the contraption rise off the ground. Bogamus could not look, with his eyes shut he pushed one of the levers at random. The wings on the flying machine moved slightly lifting it up higher and clipping the tops of the trees as it went.

‘Wowee!’ shouted Boo who was sat between the chair and the controls. ‘We’re flying. That’s their plan Uncle Bogamus, they’re going to fly higher than anyone can climb or jump. Who knows, maybe this machine can fly even higher than Mount Trollhaug.’

Bogamus inched his eyes open. They were high up now, the trees looked like a carpet of green beneath them. Above the noise of the engine he could just hear a distant voice calling from below.

‘Oi, that’s mine! You’ve got no right to take it!’

Foiled Again

Ma Basher slumped her head into her hands.

‘The plan was fool proof. It was so simple that nothing could possibly go wrong. But “fools” would be too good a word for the pair of you. You still found a way to mess it up!’

‘Wasn’t my fault,’ pleaded Tom, ‘I saw the picture with the chariot on it first, but he goes and says that it’s his.’

‘That’s ‘cos it is mine,’ yelled Bob, ‘I bagsied it before you even saw it.’

‘No you didn’t!’

‘Yes I did!’

‘Boys, stop it!’ shouted Ma Basher. ‘Arguing won’t solve anything, and by the sounds of things it was your arguing that attracted the police. Next time grab the loot quickly and quietly, we can work out how to split it up later. You understand?’

‘Yes, mother,’ said Bob and Tom together.

Meanwhile in Bealey Town Hall, P.C. George and P.C. Harriet were busy getting the town’s prized artwork back on the walls.

‘Up at bit,’ called Harriet. ‘No, not that much. Now a bit to the left. There, got it.’

‘That’s another one back where it belongs,’ said George looking at the portrait that had just been restored to its rightful place.

‘Only another fifteen to go,’ added Harriet.

‘And to think that if we hadn’t been touring the town then they would have got away with all of them,’ said George.

‘We heard their voices,’ said Harriet, ‘that’s what gave them away.’

‘Yes, I just followed the sounds of their shouts. I found them both stood on chairs arguing about who was going to get to keep one of the pictures.’

’What were they stood on chairs for?’ asked Harriet.

‘Well, you see these two were Bob Basher and Tom Basher, part of the Basher family. They’re the oldest criminal family in the history of Bealey. But for all their long history, Bob and Tom never grew to be that tall. I guess they had to stand on the chairs in order to reach the paintings.’

‘But why would they want to steal these pictures?’ asked Harriet. ‘That’s what is puzzling me. I mean, who would they sell these paintings to. If anyone in Bealey had even one of these pictures in their house then I’m sure that somebody would see it and report it.’

‘Maybe they didn’t do it for the money. The Bashers have been in and out of trouble for as long as anyone can remember,’ said George. ‘Currently old Pa Basher is locked up in Bealey Prison.’

‘You mean they may have tried to steal the pictures for revenge,’ said Harriet.

‘Perhaps. But whatever the reason it didn’t work, we caught them at it.’

‘Maybe,’ replied Harriet, ‘but if I wanted revenge then I wouldn’t let one setback stop me. I wonder what they will try next?’

‘I still want revenge!’ Ma Basher slapped her hands down on the table. ‘I want revenge for what they did to your father. I want to show them that they don’t mess with the Bashers. I want to show them who’s the boss in this town.’

‘So we go back to the town hall and do it properly,’ suggested Tom.

‘After last night they’ll increase the guard,’ replied Ma Basher. ‘We won’t be going back there.’

‘But what else is there to nick that shows ‘em whose in control?’ asked Bob.

‘Yeah,’ added Tom, ‘if it ain’t those pictures then what can we nab that gets us even with them?’

‘You know my boys, I’m not sure. But something will come up soon, you mark my words.’

Close Encounters

Sarge looked at the knobs, dials, switches and buttons on the control console of the Bealey Extra Terrestrial Investigator. Professor Rawbling sat in front of the console staring at the bank of screens, from time to time he would adjust one of the dials or press one of the buttons, but not once did his eyes flinch from the screens. Even when he held up his mug and said, ‘A cup of tea, if you would be so kind Sarge,’ he eyes stayed focused on the bank of screens.

Sarge took the mug from Professor Rawbling and, remembering to pick up his own up as well, shuffled off to the kitchen. As the water boiled Sarge started cleaning the mugs. Well I’ve done some strange things while I’ve been a copper, he thought. I once had to fight a rogue pencil sharpener and another time a criminal ran into me and insisted I arrest him. But sitting in a room full of complicated electronic stuff waiting for little green men to turn up, well I never thought I’d be doing that. The kettle started to boil, Sarge made the tea and carried the mugs back towards the control console.

‘Thank-you Sarge,’ said Professor Rawbling without even turning around. ‘Put it here,’ he added pointing to a coaster on one side of the control console.

Sarge put the professor’s mug down and sat down in his place next to the professor.

‘So, er, we’ve got another night of waiting to see whether there are any little green aliens out there,’ said Sarge.

‘I’m afraid I must correct you there,’ replied Professor Rawbling his eyes locked on the monitors in front of him.

‘Eh?’ said Sarge, ‘What’s there to correct?’

‘You said “whether”. You imply there is doubt that the extra-terrestrials will come. What you fail to consider is the vastness of space. You see I have calculated that a percentage, X, of all stars harbour life, of these a percentage, Y, harbour super-intelligent, super-technological extra-terrestrial life and of these a percentage, Z, will travel the universe looking for other forms of life. By computing X, Y and Z with the vastness of space I have proved that it is a certainty that these super-intelligent, super-technological extra-terrestrials will find the Earth and when they do I plan to be ready for them. So you see, there is no “whether”, only “when”. Do you understand?’

‘Er … well … er … super-X-Y-Z … something,’ mumbled Sarge.

‘Super-intelligent, super-technological extra-terrestrial life,’ said Professor Rawbling.

‘So, er, what is it that you want me to do then?’

‘Well, when these super-intelligent, super-technological aliens arrive, you will have to deal with them.’

‘What do you mean by “deal with them”?’ asked Sarge.

‘Well arrest them, of course,’ said Professor Rawbling. ‘We can’t have super-intelligent beings walking around Bealey can we. I mean, what if people got to meet these super-beings, imagine what would happen then. Can you imagine what it would be like if the town was run by super-intelligent beings? It hardly bears thinking about. No, when these super-intelligent, super-technological extra-terrestrials arrive it is essential that they are brought to the right authority so that tests can be performed on them.’

‘And who would the right authority be?’ asked Sarge.

‘Well, me of course,’ replied Professor Rawbling.

‘So I’ve got to bring the aliens to you, so that you can do tests on them?’

‘Why, yes. These are super-intelligent, super-technological beings that have travelled the across the vastness of space seeking out other forms of life in the emptiness of the void. Of course I’ve got to run scientific tests on them.’

Meanwhile high above the Magical Realm, Bogamus stared at the levers and buttons on the flying machine. They seemed to be flying level now, but were a very long way up.

‘I’m scared Uncle Bogamus and so’s Teddy,’ said Boo. ‘Make it go down Uncle Bogamus, please.’

Bogamus was not sure which lever did what and to him the buttons were an even greater mystery. Pulling the green lever had made them take-off, perhaps pushing it would take them back down.

‘I’ll try this one,’ said Bogamus as he pushed the green lever forward. The nose of the flying machine lurched downwards and the machine started to dive.

‘Arrrrggghh!’ cried Boo. ‘No so fast Uncle Bogamus! We’re going to crash.’

Indeed they were. Out from the green of the forest below sprouted an enormous castle, its flags fluttering in the wind above its turreted walls. This marvellous spectacle was rather ruined by the rapid rate at which it was approaching.

‘Do something Uncle Bogamus, please!’ cried Boo as she held up Teddy to cover her eyes.

Bogamus tried pushing the red lever, this made the flying machine lurch to the left. Pulling the blue lever made it shake from side to side.

At the top of one of the turrets a princess stood wearing a long, flowing pink dress. On her head she wore a pink conical hat that was three feet tall and had white ribbons tied to its top. From her vantage point she surveyed the land, hoping to get the earliest sighting of any brave knight in shining armour that may be passing. From behind her she thought she heard two voices shouting coupled with a growling, spluttering, roaring noise. She turned to see what the noise was. Moments later the princess was found running down the steps of the turret crying out that a flying monster had just stolen her hat.

Somehow the princess’s hat had got onto Boo’s head and no matter which way Bogamus turned or twisted the hat always seemed to be in his way. Bogamus was pulling levers, pushing levers and even trying some of the buttons but with the hat in the way he could not see where they were going or what effect pulling the levers and pushing the buttons was having. Eventually a particularly strong gust of wind blew the hat right off Boo’s head. When it did Bogamus could at last see in front of him and found that he must have done something right as the flying machine had levelled off. It was still flying too high for comfort, but at least they were not about to crash.

‘What sort of a thing is this?’ asked Boo once their flight had calmed down.

‘It must be a goblin machine,’ replied Bogamus. ‘That will be why Swogler needed the help of that goblin.’

‘So, is it magic then Uncle Bogamus?’

‘It’s goblin magic. Goblin magic lives in the workings of their machines. A contraption like this could only work in the Magical Realm. I mean you wouldn’t be able to get this machine to fly in the real world.’

‘Why is that Uncle Bogamus?’ asked Boo.

‘Well the real world just doesn’t have enough magic in it,’ replied Bogamus. ‘Anything that needs even a bit of magic to make it go just stops working.’

‘But how would we know if we were about to reach the real world?’

‘Well, there’s a sort of shimmering line between the two.’

‘You mean a bit like that one,’ said Boo.

‘Which one,’ replied Bogamus.

‘The shimmering line that’s in front of us,’ said Boo.

Bogamus looked straight ahead of them. Boo was right. The dark green forest of the Magical Realm stretched ahead of them. But then there was a line in the forest greenery where the air seemed to wave and wobble. Beyond that the forest thinned and, if you looked hard, you could just see the lights of a town. Not the candle lights or lanterns used in the Magical Realm, but the electric lights of the real world. They were riding in a flying machine that they could not control. It was heading straight for the real world. The moment they reached the real world the laws of physics would take over from the laws of magic and who knows what would happen to the flying machine.

‘So,’ said Sarge, ‘what you mean is I would have to arrest these super-intelligent, super-technological alien beings.’

‘Yes, that’s right,’ replied Professor Rawbling.

‘Would they be armed these aliens?’ asked Sarge.

‘I would imagine so, for protection on inter-stellar journeys. Most likely their weapons would far exceed anything that we have on Earth.’

‘So I’d have to arrest these super-intelligent, super-technological, super-armed aliens?’

‘I dare say they’d be super-advanced and most likely would have super-powers as well. What of it?’

‘Oh nothing,’ said Sarge, ‘just checking, that’s all.’

At that moment a red light above the BETI control panel started to flash.

‘What’s that?’ said Sarge.

‘It means that we’ve got a signal,’ replied Professor Rawbling.

‘A signal? What sort of a signal?’

Professor Rawbling examined the screens in front of him. ‘Yes, very interesting,’ mumbled the professor, ‘velocity three-mark-four and increasing, altitude decreasing, trajectory zero-point-oh-five … hmmm … I would say that a spacecraft from another planet has reached the Earth.’

‘Oh my me,’ cried Sarge. ‘We’ve detected super-aliens. Looks like it’s time for old Sarge to step up to the mark. Time to do me duty.’

Professor Rawbling started flipping switches, turning dials and pushing buttons, all the time he stared at the monitors, reading and analysing information.

‘It’s a powerful signal and getting stronger.’

‘Are they going to land anywhere near Bealey?’ asked Sarge.

‘Hmmm, let me see. Co-ordinates thirty-two, forty-seven, sixteen. Hmmm … ’ The screen above the control console showed a picture of the Earth, it flickered and zoomed in on a landmass, then it zoomed in further again. As the image expanded the outline of the town of Bealey appeared. The image zoomed in again showing the BETI detectors and the control centre at its heart. ‘I would say that they’re coming straight for us,’ said Professor Rawbling.

‘Straight for us,’ said Sarge. ‘Well, I’m ready for ‘em. Let’s see just how super they are.’

As the flying machine sped on the shimmering line dividing the Magical Realm from the real world grew to become a wall of wavering air towering over them. Boo squeezed Teddy tightly as the goblin flying machine smashed into it. In a moment they were through, their skin tingled as they passed. At first there did not seem to be any difference on the other side. For a while at least the flying machine was able to keep going in a straight line. Ahead of them Bogamus could see the lights of a town in the real world. Quite possibly the very town he had visited when he was last in the real world. But then the engine coughed loudly, spluttered a few times, gave a final belch of black smoke and, with a jolt, stopped turning. The flying machine’s nose started to turn downwards. They were falling. As they descended the air whooshed past them, the lights of the town were getting brighter and nearer.

Beneath them the roads, houses, cars, lights and people of Bealey rushed by. As they got lower and lower the flying machine knocked against the chimney pots of some of the houses and narrowly missed the tops of some trees. Bogamus pulled back on the green lever as hard as he could, the goblin flying machine edged up a little. For a moment he thought that they were going to fly straight over the town, missing a crash landing by inches. But then he noticed that they were flying straight for a hill. The base of the hill was covered in the lights of people’s homes and the streets they lived in. However, the top of the hill was dark. There were no houses up there, save a single building at the top. Bogamus pushed the red lever to try and steer away from the hill, but he pushed it so hard that it snapped. He tried pulling back on the green lever one more time, again the front of the goblin flying machine edged upwards. Would it be enough?

The ground was hurtling by underneath them. Boo could see strange dark disks on the ground just a couple of feet below. There were lights on in the hut at the top of the hill. A figure came rushing out of the hut, he was blowing a whistle and shouting.

‘Stop!’ the figure cried, ‘Stop in the name of the law!’

Bogamus wished he could stop the goblin flying machine, but it kept cannoning on. When the figure on the hill saw this he dropped his whistle, turned and ran. The flying machine clipped the top of the hill, screeching over the ground. But even this did not cause it to come to a halt. On the ground they were moving fast, soon the flying machine with Bogamus, Boo and Teddy all on board was sliding down the hill. Behind them they could hear shouts coming from the figure they had nearly slammed into a moment ago.

‘Stop I say, stop in the name of the law!’ he shouted again and again.

As it went downhill the flying machine started to speed up again. They were skidding down a road with houses, street lights and parked cars all around them. Bogamus and Boo both screamed as the town of Bealey hurtled past them. Ahead they could see a pair of large iron gates with the words “Bealey Zoo” twisted into the railings. The flying machine smashed into the zoo gates knocking them clean off their hinges and kept on going.

Moments later huffing and puffing after them, and still shouting for all he was worth, came Sarge.

‘Stop I say, the law demands that you stop this instant!’

But peering into the gloom of Bealey Zoo, Sarge could see that the thing he had been chasing had finally come to a halt.

Madam Mayor

Professor Rawbling squinted into the beams of the approaching car’s headlights. The car glided up to the pavement edge. Sarge tried to peer into the car, but all he could see was his own reflection in the vehicle’s smoked glass windows and glossy black paintwork.

Professor Rawbling gave Sarge a nudge. ‘The door,’ he said.

‘Oh, yes, of course,’ replied Sarge as he stepped forward to open the rear door.

Inside the car sat a figure wearing a grey trouser suit. Around the figure’s neck hung a large medallion that glinted in the light of the street lamps.

‘Professor,’ said the seated figure, ‘this had better be good.’

‘I assure you this is of the upmost importance,’ replied Professor Rawbling.

‘Important enough to rouse me from my sleep,’ said the figure as she emerged from the black car. It was the new Mayor of Bealey, who had been elected to office only the month before. Around her neck hung the livery collar, the mark of her office. ‘Something that could not have waited until the morning?’

‘Well, I would say so,’ said Sarge, ‘I mean look at what they did to the zoo’s gates.’

‘Vandalism? I can hardly believe that you called me out in the dead of night for something so petty.’ The mayor started to turn back towards her car.

‘Please Madam Mayor,’ said Professor Rawbling, ‘it is not the damage to the zoo gates but the beings that caused the damage that is of such urgency.’

‘Professor Rawbling, you are a credit to this town but a most peculiar credit. “Beings” you say, anyone but yourself would call them people. That is assuming that the animals have not escaped their enclosures.’

‘You are most observant, Madam Mayor. But this damage was not caused by people and all the animals are quite secure.’

‘But if it wasn’t people and it wasn’t the animals, then who or what caused this damage?’ asked the mayor.

Professor Rawbling removed his spectacles and started wiping the lenses with his handkerchief. ‘Madam Mayor, it is my belief that the beings that caused this damage were from another planet.’

‘What!’ exclaimed the mayor.

‘I mean they are extra-terrestrials, or aliens as some call them, who have travelled across the vastness of space and immeasurable distances between the stars.’

‘Yeah,’ said Sarge, ‘and what’s more they came to Bealey to visit the zoo.’

‘Why would aliens want to visit the zoo?’ asked the mayor.

‘We cannot be sure of that yet,’ replied Professor Rawbling. ‘The Bealey Extra Terrestrial Investigator detected them. It seems their landing may not have gone to plan. They crash landed, causing their spacecraft to smash through the zoo gates and into the zoo itself.’

‘Fascinating,’ said the mayor. ‘Do we know what kind of alien they are? You know the sort of thing, bug-eyed monsters, blobs of slime, seething balls of tentacles and so on.’

‘Well we could show you if you like,’ said Sarge.

‘Show me? The aliens. You mean they are still here?’

‘Why of course,’ said Professor Rawbling. ‘You didn’t think they had been “beamed-up” did you? Sarge, open the gates for the mayor would you. Madam Mayor, allow me to show you Bealey’s very own extra-terrestrials.’

Sarge pushed the broken gates to one side. Professor Rawbling and the Mayor of Bealey strode into Bealey Zoo with Sarge following a few paces behind.

A zoo at night-time is as darker place as you will find in any town. There are no people there who need light to see by and the animals sleep better in the dark. With all the lights turned off a person walks past each enclosure with no idea what kind of creatures lie sleeping within. A person might be just feet from a rhino’s horn, a crocodile’s jaw, a pack of wolves or perhaps a pride of lions. However, even in the darkness the course taken by the spacecraft was quite plain. The path from the zoo gates was strewn with toppled litter bins, bent signposts and scattered guidebooks.

Through this destruction walked Professor Rawbling, the Mayor of Bealey and Sarge, piercing the peace of the night with excited chatter about aliens and spaceships and which of the lights in the sky they might have come from. Professor Rawbling held a flashlight illuminating the ground in front of them.

‘Well you see Madam Mayor,’ said Professor Rawbling, ‘we scientists have put in many hours trying to work out what these beings from another planet will look like when they finally land on the Earth. As momentous an occasion as this is, we are well prepared for what we will find. Science shows us quite plainly that these super-intelligent beings that have travelled the vastness of interstellar space will be little green men.’

‘That is fascinating professor,’ replied the mayor. ‘But what makes you think that the extra-terrestrials will all be small?’

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