dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

Thursday, 3 June 2010

BOMB IN THE BARN by Doogie Howsar

For an interview with Doogie Howsar see Febuary's DNMF Interviews post.
The Willis family were very happy to move into their new countryside home. They'd saved hard to escape the exhaust fumes and smog of the inner suburbs. All the refurbishment was complete, all their old furniture unloaded and in place......everything sorted. Except for the barn at the bottom of their expansive garden, tucked away within the spruce trees. How the seller had failed to mention it was a mystery. The Willis family could have had it converted into a studio office had they known. Too late now, because their budget was gone save for leftover change to buy granite worktops for the utility room.

It was Joshua, their six year old son, who discovered it. He stepped inside the creaking door into bright beams of light from cracks in the roof, swinging his yo-yo around his head like a cowboy lasso. It clinked against something metal and broke off the string. When he turned to see what he had hit the first thing he did was call for his older sister, Jemma, 8, who was playing on the tyre swing outside.

"Is it a giant firework?" he asked her.

"No, silly," she answered, "it's a rocket."

"I wanna go the moon in it!" Joshua said excitedly.

"Let's see what's underneath."

Together the kids just about managed to push the four foot tall First World War artillery shell from an upright position onto the floor. The almighty clang was like the dong of Big Ben and it brought both their parents rushing in. Nick and Sally Ellis assessed the scene with wide eyes.

"Oh my God!" Sally tugged her husband's sleeve. "Nick, quick, go and fetch the camera."

Her husband extracted his Samsung. "No need, I've got a camera on my phone."

"Get the instant print one, and fetch some cleaning products as well. We'll spruce it up first before we take any pictures."

He did so, tutting. They gave the shell a good scrub with soapy water and green scouring pads. Then they posed for snapshots like tourists at a funfair: the kids riding it like a log fume, Mum dancing on it like a cheerleader, Dad rolling it under his shoe like a giant rugger ball.

"Tell your brother, tell your brother!" Sally suggested to her husband. Nick's brother was ex-military. The call was very short.

"He scolded me," Nick said. "I have to ring this special number he gave me immediately."

"What for, skip hire?"

"No, Bomb Disposal Unit."

"But won't they make a big fuss and move us away? We've only just moved in. It's probably a dud anyway. It would have gone off by now if it wasn't."

Nick scratched his head. "My brother sounded really cross with me."

"But we wanna go to the moon," little Jemma said, fiercely supported by Joshua.

Then they all fell silent, because the shell had started to tick very loudly, like a Grandfather clock. Dad's jaw dropped before he shouted "EVERYBODY RUN!" at the top of his voice. He turned and pelted straight into the door, head busting through the rotten wood like it was made of matchsticks. Sally swung it open with him still trapped in it, wriggling, and pegged it up the garden towards the house.

Nick shouted "DON'T LEAVE ME!" but the kids were laughing their heads off as they ran past him. Joshua even went back to pull his father's pants down because Jemma told him to. With a girly whine Nick finally pulled his head out of the hole and made a bare-legged break for it, but he tripped and fell into the tyre swing, which snapped, sending him flat on his face in the grass. When he looked up there was a field mouse only an inch away from his eye which made him scream and bolt up in a hurry, pulling up his pants as he run.

Later, once evacuated, and, luckily, still a home in the countryside to the good, he complained to a medic about a splinter in his neck. The medic, along with the police, fire department, and Bomb Disposal Unit, once Sally had shown them the photos, all gave both parents dirty looks. There was probably a case of some kind coming their way.

Still, they had gotten off lightly though, wouldn't you agree?

© Doogie Howsar 2010

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