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Fanfic A Brockton Bagpuss

Discussion in 'Scribblings' started by PuzzleRaven, October 22, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: Index
    PuzzleRaven

    PuzzleRaven Member

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a little girl, and her name was Emma-Lee. And she had a shop. It was a rather unusual shop because it didn’t sell anything. You see everything in that window was a thing that somebody had once lost, and Emma-Lee had found. And brought home to Bagpuss. In Brockton Bay.

    Worm/Bagpuss crossover


    Note:
    Bagpuss is very hard to write because Oliver Postgate was a genius, and I am not. Also, these lyrics/poems are not from Bagpuss, they are my poor attempt to write ones that fit Worm and match Mr Postgate’s music.

    4 Chapters, updates Thursdays.
     
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter One – The Friendship
    PuzzleRaven

    PuzzleRaven Member

    Chapter One – The Friendship


    “I’m worried about Emma, Alan.” Zoe’s words carried. In her room, Emma rolled her eyes. Why couldn’t Mom see that she was just fine? “She hasn’t been the same since the – since the summer.” Emma laughed to herself as she went through her closet. Of course she hadn’t. She was strong now. She was a survivor.

    “She’s fine.” Dad had her back, as always. The blue top was something she’d worn two years ago, with Taylor when she hadn’t realised how weak Taylor was. She threw it in the trash bag.

    “She’s shutting us out. When’s the last time she had Taylor round?”

    “She’s growing up, Zoe. People grow apart, you know that,” Dad said smoothly, and Mom faltered.

    “I think she needs help. Getting over something like that, it doesn’t just happen without help.” Emma let out a loud sigh, hoping her mother heard it. Couldn’t Mom realise she was better now than she’d even been? She was a survivor, Sophia said so. She wasn’t a weak little girl, and she didn’t need any help. She’d survived the alley on her own, she didn’t need anyone now. “She threw out all her dolls, Alan. For Emma that would be like choosing which arm to cut off.” Emma laughed. They were just dolls. Only the weak needed dolls. It wasn’t like having to actually choose what to... she swept her arm along the shelf, sweeping all the dolls into the bag in one move and went onto the next shelf. She was a survivor.

    “You’re exaggerating.”

    “No, I’m not.” Why wouldn’t Mom just drop it? “It’s like those muggers just cut out part of her soul.” They hadn’t cut out anything, Emma knew. She was strong enough to fight them, to deserve to be rescued, and if Sophia hadn’t come she’d saved herself… She gripped the first of the rag dolls, Taylor-Anne, and shoved it into the bag. No rescue for the doll, she didn’t deserve it.

    “I’ll speak to her,” Dad said, reassuringly, and Emma smiled. There it was. She was strong, she’d never get into trouble. “If I think she needs help, we’ll talk. ”

    “Promise?”

    “Promise.” Emma smirked. Dad, good as always at making problems go away.

    She picked up the last of the stuffed toys and plunged it into the bag as deeply as her arms could go. Bead and button eyes looked up at her, just like they had when she was a girl, and she’d held her stuffed cat to ward off the nightmares.

    Maybe throwing them out wasn’t enough. If she put them down the waste disposal...no, Emma knew, her mother would scream. Mom wasn’t as strong as her. She let go of the top of the bag and the toys expanded, overflowing onto the floor. Fine!

    She picked up the scissors off her desk, and stalked towards the bag. She’d make them small enough to fit! The long braid of a rag doll trailed out of the bag. She picked it up, placed the scissors by the dolls head and snipped the long, red, plait free.

    - hair or -

    Stabbing down into the doll’s body the stuffing didn’t loosen, or deflate. The scissors punctured its face, left a tear across the material that bled stuffing.

    - do something to her face -

    She picked up the stuffed, baggy, useless, old cloth cat by one ear. In enough pieces it would go in the bag. She wasn’t weak any more. She wasn’t.She set the scissors by the base of the ear and began to close them -

    - eye or ear-

    Two beings twins in the void, parting, one large fragmenting, out of control….

    [CAUTION]

    [REASSURANCE]

    Impact….


    Emma shook herself. Why the hell she was on the floor? She got up, a little unsteadily, but everything looked normal, even the overflowing trash bag on the floor. It wasn’t weakness, she was just over-tired, she was sure. Untangling the scissors from her fingers, she kicked her shoes off and curled up on the bed. As an afterthought she reached out with a foot, and kicked the saggy old cat onto her pillow. If Mom saw that, maybe she’d stop bothering her. Putting her head on it as a pillow, she closed her eyes and dozed.

    #​

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a little girl, and her name was Emma-Lee.

    And she had a shop. It was a rather unusual shop because it didn’t sell anything.

    You see, everything in that window was a thing that somebody had once lost, and Emma-Lee had found. And brought home to Bagpuss.

    Emma-Lee’s cat Bagpuss. The most important, the most beautiful, the most magical, saggy, old, cloth cat in the whole wide world.

    One day Emma-Lee found a thing and she brought it home to Bagpuss who was asleep in the shop window as usual. But then Emma-Lee said some magic words:

    Bagpuss, ohBagpuss, Big, fat, furry, catpuss

    Wake up and look at this thing that I bring.

    Wake up, be bright, be golden and light.

    Oh Bagpuss, hear what I sing.​

    And Bagpuss was wide awake. And when Bagpuss woke up, all his friends woke up too.

    The mice on the Mouse Protector organ woke up and stretched.

    Madeline the rag doll

    Gabriel the toad

    and last of all Professor Yaffle, a very distinguished old woodpecker. He climbed down off his bookend and went to see what it was that Emma-Lee had brought.

    “Mya, mya, mya,” he clicked. “It is a tangle of coloured threads, and they are knotted in a most particular fashion. Why, it is a crochet.”

    “I don’t see any hoops and balls.” said Gabriel. “Or mallets.”

    “No, no,” said Madaleine, “A crochet, not a croquet. Croquet is a game. Crochet is tying threads, like knitting, but with one needle.”

    “Knitting with one needle?” Bagpuss was amazed. “But, but, how?”

    “It has a hook on the end.”

    “A needle with a hook?” Bagpuss exclaimed. “I mean, I say, well, well, well” And Bagpuss thought. And when Bagpuss thinks very hard, his thoughts appear like magic.

    “Sounds like a right cat’s cradle to me,” said Gabriel and strummed his guitar.

    ~“Fiddle and fable, red cat wove a cradle,

    and tied herself up in the thread.

    The other cats laughed to see such fun,

    and followed where red cat had led.”~​

    “All those cats tied up together. A knotty problem. A very knotty problem indeed,” laughed Professor Yaffle.

    “So, Professor, we should unknot them,” said Madeleine. And when the mice had untangled them, the threads lay on the floor with fringed knots like tassels on each end.

    “Why, they are friendship bracelets,” said Madeleine. “When people are very good friends they make bracelets together and wear them to show they are friends.”

    “If the bracelets are broken, what happens to the friendship?” Bagpuss wanted to know.

    “Why nothing,” said Professor Yaffle. “The bracelets are only trinkets.”

    “But two friends cared enough to make them.” said Madeleine.

    “Nya, Nya, Nya,” said Professor Yaffle. The mice tried to tie the threads back together, but they didn’t reach. “Well they will have to make new ones.”

    “Oh no, Professor,” said Madeleine. “Those threads are far too short, mice. Go to my workbox and you will find a hook and some new thread.” The mice brought out the new thread, and the hook, and set to work.


    “We will knit them, we will knot them,

    We will tie them tight, tight, tight.

    We will braid them, and unfade them,

    Clean them ‘til they’re pretty and bright.”​

    And the mice cleaned the bracelets until they shone and tied them round a convenient iPhone to display them. Then Bagpuss put the friendship bracelets in the shop window so that if the person who owned it should happen to pass by, they could see it and come in to claim it.

    Bagpuss gave a great big yawn and settled down to sleep.

    And when Bagpuss goes to sleep, all his friends go to sleep too.

    The mice were ornaments on the Mouse Protector organ.

    Madeleine and Gabriel were just dolls.

    Professor Yaffle was a carved, wooden, bookend in the shape of a woodpecker.

    Even Bagpuss himself, once he was asleep was just an old, saggy, cloth, cat. Baggy and a bit loose at the seams.

    But Emma- Lee loved him.​

    #​

    Emma woke up and stretched, knocking something furry onto the floor. She glared at it. Had she been hugging the cat? That was pathetic. She got out of bed, picking the saggy, old, pink, cloth cat off the floor by one ear, and looked for the rubbish bag. It wasn’t there. Mom must have cleaned it up.

    Her reminder alarm went off, and Emma jumped. That wasn’t a good start to the day, she’d miss breakfast. She tossed the toy onto the shelf with the other dolls that had somehow ended up there, and ran for the shower. The door was shut and Anne was singing. That just rubbed it in. Too late and no time. She washed herself off in the sink, promising herself a double-length shower tonight, and grabbed something from the closet to wear. Where the hell was her phone?

    There it was, on the sill of that antique model of a shop her aunt Annette had brought her. God she would be so disappointed in Taylor now. Or maybe Annette had been just as weak as her daughter. After all, she was dead. Emma grabbed the phone with a snort of irritation as a web of threads came with it, wrapped around the phone neatly in bands. She frowned. Were those the friendship bracelets she’d made with … she sniffed – ah, pancakes – and decided it didn’t matter. It looked good, so she’d keep them. Stuffing the phone in her pocket, deciding she’d deal with it on the way to school, she slung her backpack over her shoulder and ran downstairs to eat.
     
  3. CatInASuit

    CatInASuit Administrator Staff Member

    Oh wow, now here are two things I didn't think would go together and, yet, it's really well done.

    I remember Bagpuss from the second or third time around, but it is something that is part of many UK childhoods and you have managed to make me remember the few episodes I've seen. Will have to dig out the DVD I have somewhere.

    Is this a one-off or are there more in the works?

    You know, I think I've gone all sepia.
     
  4. Threadmarks: Chapter 2 – The Fife
    PuzzleRaven

    PuzzleRaven Member

    Chapter 2 – The Fife

    “Hi mom!” Emma ran up the stairs before her mother could answer. It had been a good day, even if it hadn’t started that way. Emma hummed to herself as she changed. She’d proved it, proved that she wasn’t weak anymore. She’d almost told Sophia to give the flute back, but she’d been strong and she’d been rewarded. The look on Taylor’s face when she’d seen the flute in the trash had been fantastic. The only thing that would have been better would have been if Sophia had broken it in front of the worm, or if she’d told Emma first so she could have some really cutting remarks ready for Taylor.

    “Good day, Emma?” Anne asked.

    “Great!” She smiled. The look on Taylor’s face…

    “It’s nice to see you smiling again.” Anne leaned on the door frame, and Emma sighed, wishing her sister would get to the point. “Something good happen?”

    “Just hanging with Sophia.” Who’d just reached through Taylor’s locker door and taken the flute out and broken Taylor so thoroughly it was amazing. Sophia was a real predator. “She’ll be round on Saturday.”

    “You’re spending all your time with her. You should try and make other friends.” Anne looked worried, as if she had any clue what it meant to be a survivor.

    “I’ve got plenty of friends.” Emma scoffed. Friends didn’t matter. The strong didn’t need friends.

    “Really?”

    “Yes, really.” The conversation hung into an awkward pause. Emma walked to the door, forcing Anne to step back. “Now buzz off, I have homework.”

    “’kay, leave you to it.” Anne finally left, and Emma shut the door, rummaging through her backpack for her homework. The look on Taylor’s face, and Emma had nearly been weak, nearly told Sophia to give it back because Taylor’s mother didn’t deserve to be treated like that. Emma had been stronger, proved that she wasn’t that weak little thing from the- God, she’d have been as pathetic as Taylor.

    She flopped back on the bed, looking up at the ceiling and closed her eyes. She’d just take fifteen minutes, a little nap to savour it...

    #​

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a little girl, and her name was Emma-Lee.

    And she had a shop. It was a rather unusual shop because it didn’t sell anything.

    You see everything in that window was a thing that somebody had once lost, and Emma-Lee had found. And brought home to Bagpuss.

    Emma-Lee’s cat Bagpuss. The most important, the most beautiful, the most magical, saggy, old, cloth cat in the whole wide world.

    One day Emma-Lee found a thing and she brought it home to Bagpuss who was asleep in the shop window as usual. But then Emma-Lee said some magic words:

    Bagpuss, ohBagpuss, Big, fat, furry, catpuss

    Wake up and look at this thing that I bring.

    Wake up, be bright, be golden and light.

    Oh Bagpuss, hear what I sing.​

    And Bagpuss was wide awake. And when Bagpuss woke up, all his friends woke up too.

    The mice on the Mouse Protector organ woke up and stretched.

    Madeleine the rag doll,

    Gabriel the toad,

    and last of all Professor Yaffle, a very distinguished old woodpecker. He climbed down off his bookend and went to see what it was that Emma-Lee had brought.

    “Mya, mya, mya,” he clicked. “That is a broken stick. There may be more to it, but I can’t see because it is so very mucky.” The mice scurried down from the Mouse Protector organ and set to work.

    “We will scrub it, we will rub it,

    We will wash it clean, clean, clean.

    We will dust it, scrub the rust off it,

    We will give it a lovely sheen.”​


    The mice patched it and polished it until it shone, but the tube was still dirty on the inside. They got together to push a mouse into the tube to clean it on the inside, but his ears would not fit.

    “Stop, stop” said Madeleine. “Charlie Mouse will never fit down there. Go to my workbox and get a knitting needle. Now wrap the cloth over the end and you can poke it through.”

    “Push, push, push,” the mice saidas they did, and the tube lay on the floor, clean. But it was still broken in the middle.

    “Careful,” said Madeleine. “You’re making holes in it.”

    “Mya, Mya” said Professor Yaffle. “Those holes were already there. It is a tube.” And he squinted down the tube. “A tube with many holes. It is a fife.”

    “I remember a story about a pipe. It calls rats.” said Gabriel, and the mice were not very happy at all. They didn’t want rats in the shop unless Emma-Lee found them and brought them here to fix.

    “No, no, no,” said Professor Yaffle, “A pipe is for calling rats. A fife herds hares,”

    “Herds hares?” Bagpuss was puzzled. “On people’s heads?”

    “No, no, no, hares like rabbits.”

    “I didn’t think hairs liked anything,” said Bagpuss.

    “I know a song about a hare with a fife,” said Gabriel, and strummed his guitar. “And the mice have a roll of music for the Mouse Protector Organ.” The mice heaved, and heaved the roll of music into the Mouse Protector Organ, and announced “The Magical, Marvellous, Mouse Protector, Organ."

    ~Once there was a merry old hare,

    That roamed the bay without a care,

    She didn’t even turn a hair

    When she found the evil Dragon

    - in his lair​


    Once she heard the roars of strife,

    She stood her ground and drew her fife

    For in her hair the fleas were rife

    The Dragon roared, the others fleed

    - for their life​


    Her hair was roused, the fleas took flight,

    The Dragon faced their awful might,

    They bit him wrong, they bit him right,

    He fleed the many fleas

    - without a fight ~​


    “Nya, nya, nya, Dragon don’t flee hares.” said Professor Yaffle.

    “This one did.” said Gabriel. The mice agreed. “But the fife is still broken.”

    “Nya, that is not a problem,” said Professor Yaffle. “The break is clean. A little glue and the two halves can be joined as good as new.”

    The mice took a little bit of wood glue, and pushed the two halves of the fife together. The fife lay there in one piece as good as new.

    Then Bagpuss put the fife to the shop window so that if the person who owned it should happen to pass by, they could see it and come in to claim it.

    Then Bagpuss gave a great big yawn, and settled down to sleep.

    And when Bagpuss goes to sleep, all his friends go to sleep too.

    The mice were ornaments on the Mouse Protector organ.

    Madeleine and Gabriel were just dolls.

    Professor Yaffle was a carved wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker.

    Even Bagpuss himself, once he was asleep was just an old, saggy, cloth, cat. Baggy and a bit loose at the seams.

    But Emma- Lee loved him.​

    #​

    Taylor hurried down the Boardwalk in the rain. The shops weren’t open yet, but after yesterday she couldn’t face Winslow, couldn’t face Emma. Her backpack was still sticky after she’d cleaned the juice out from two days ago. She’d take a bus in when she calmed down, she told herself, before it got late enough that people were asking about her not being in school. Her Dad didn’t need a truant report on top of everything else.

    The bus stop was at the end of the block, and she walked towards it slowly, looking in the shop window displays, at clothes she couldn’t afford, games she’d never play, and the small box on the outside of a clothes shop window, which looked far too familiar. She blinked, reminded painfully of her mother’s flute before they had – before Emma who’d been like a sister – before that bitch -

    She looked again, walking closer as she stared. Incredulously she picked it up. It was the same slightly battered case she remembered so clearly. It couldn’t be. Emma had discarded the case when she had desecrated the flute. Unless this was just another cruel trick. She looked round, expecting Emma to be watching, but no of course she wasn’t. All Taylor saw was one of the Boardwalk Enforcers, out early, bearing down on her.

    “Is that yours?” He demanded.

    “I-” she stammered stupidly, as her brain failed to catch up. “I don’t know.”

    “How can you not know? It is or it isn’t.”

    “It was stolen at school.” She blurted out. “From my locker.” The Enforcer raised an eyebrow.

    “That so? What’s in it?”

    “My mother’s flute.”

    “Any identifying marks?”

    “It has her initials on the back by the end. Her name was in the case under the insert.”

    “What was her name?”

    “Annette Hebert.”

    “Open it.” Taylor didn’t want to, but under his glare she had no choice. The lid lifted. The flute lay on its velvet pillow, pristine. Taylor’s thoughts flailed as the Enforcer plucked it out, turning it over. At the end, engraved carefully into the metal were the tiny initials A.H.

    “Looks like you said.” he said, more kindly. “Didn’t think you’d see it again, huh, kid?” It was impossible. Had Emma broken a duplicate flute? One of the teachers had it repaired? But what was it doing here? “Where’s her name in the case?”

    Her fingers weren’t shaking as she pulled down the small ribbon tab in the lid, pulling away the padding to reveal her mother’s name in her mother’s careful calligraphy.

    “Looks legit.” He was a lot less aggressive than he had been.

    “But what’s it doing here?” Tayor said incredulously, the only question that kept running round her head. The Enforcer snorted.

    “Probably tried to pawn it, and dumped it when nowhere would take it. Market’s flooded with second-hand instruments. You got any I.D?” he asked. Taylor dropped her backpack, going through it to find something with her name on it, holding the student card out to him. “Taylor Hebert, huh? Looks like this is yours.” He put the flute away, handing the case back to her. “Take better care of it next time.”

    Taylor nodded. Her backpack still stunk of two-day old juice, so she tucked the box inside her hoodie to keep it safe from the rain. The Enforcer’s eyes narrowed sternly, but not unkindly.

    “And shouldn’t you be in school?”

    “My bus-” she pointed as it shot past the stop.

    “Then get the next one. Move it, kid.” Taylor nodded, not wanting to start anything while she had the flute, impossibly safe. Once his attention was out of reach she broke into a run, crossing the street and jumping onto the bus going to other way before the rather unfit Enforcer could catch up. She’d go to school later, but first the flute was going home where it was safe.

    Good things didn’t happen in Brockton Bay, but as she clutched the flute and watched the rain run down the window, Taylor had to wonder if sometimes miracles did.
     
  5. Kindler

    Kindler Active Member

    Nice episode, it works because I can hear the Bagpuss voices as I read it, from the clips I've seen.

    Looks like Bagpuss has even more reality warping powers than your average parahuma, or is he just the manifestation of Emma's troubled/warped brain?

    Two more of these will go down a treat, wonder what she'll find next week?
     
  6. Threadmarks: Chapter Three – The Quarrel
    PuzzleRaven

    PuzzleRaven Member

    Chapter Three – The Quarrel

    “Ssh!” Emma woke to a hand over her mouth. She blinked, eyes wide, making out a stern woman’s face in the darkness. A mask. “It’s me.” Shadow Stalker hissed and let her go slowly. Emma sat up as Stalker prowled round the room, barely visible in the light from the window, although the darkness didn’t hinder her at all. “Emma, stuffed toys?”

    “My mother insisted,” Emma whispered, grimacing, “That or therapy. She doesn’t get it.”

    “Civilians don’t,” Shadow Stalker said. “You do.” Emma smiled, proudly. She was a survivor. That was why Shadow Stalker was here, talking to her, but that was a good point.

    “What are you doing here? Are you hurt?” Obligingly the clock beside her ticked to 1:30. “Something happen on patrol?” Shadow Stalker prowled back to the bed, lowered her voice to a murmur.

    “Ems, if anyone asks you were I was tonight, I came to see you, OK?”

    “Sure. You’re here, aren’t you?” Emma’s heart was racing with excitement. “Why?”

    “Grue,” Shadow Stalker said with satisfaction, and Emma’s eyes went wide. She sat up so fast she made the bedsprings squeak. Shadow Stalker ghosted backwards immediately, losing herself in the shadows of the room, as Emma listened. There wasn’t a sound from the sleeping household.

    Carefully she crept out of bed as Sophia became solid again.

    “It’s safe?” Emma barely breathed and Sophia nodded. “So spill.”

    “He’s not going to be a problem again. He was shot last night. I heard someone fired a broadhead arrow through his lung.”

    “Go, you!”

    “Not me.” Sophia’s grin said it all, and then it soured. “Not unless I want to get stuck in juvie.”

    “I wish I’d been there.”

    “Sure you do, survivor.” As Sophia left, ghosting through the wall, Emma smiled proudly. It was good to have a real friend, someone who made a difference, not like that wimp Taylor. She knew her story, keep it simple. If anyone asked if she’d seen Sophia tonight say yes, that she hadn’t known the time and they talked about stuffed toys and things. School stuff. It wasn’t like they’d be able to question her without Dad present, and he’d stop them asking anything incriminating. And now Sophia had killed Grue. Emma smiled and snuggled down in her bed, pulling the stuffed cat under her head as a pillow, practising Sophia’s alibi in her head. And slowly, Emma fell asleep.

    #​

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a little girl, and her name was Emma-Lee.

    And she had a shop. It was a rather unusual shop because it didn’t sell anything.

    You see everything in that window was a thing that somebody had once lost, and Emma-Lee had found. And brought home to Bagpuss.

    Emma-Lee’s cat Bagpuss. The most important, the most beautiful, the most magical, saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world.

    One day Emma-Lee found a thing and she brought it home to Bagpuss who was asleep in the shop window as usual. But then Emma-Lee said some magic words:

    Bagpuss, oh Bagpuss, Big, fat, furry, catpuss

    Wake up and look at this thing that I bring.

    Wake up, be bright, be golden and light.

    Oh Bagpuss, hear what I sing.​

    And Bagpuss was wide awake. And when Bagpuss woke up, all his friends woke up too.

    The mice on the Mouse Protector organ woke up and stretched.

    Madeleine the rag doll,

    Gabriel the toad,

    and last of all Professor Yaffle, a very distinguished old woodpecker. He climbed down off his bookend and went to see what it was that Emma-Lee had brought.

    “Mya, mya, mya” said Professor Yaffle. “Why this is just a broken stick with a pointed end. My word, it is a bolt.” And the mice picked it up and tried to carry it to the door.

    “No, no, no, not that kind of bolt,” said Madeleine. “It is a quarrel.” Bagpuss was amazed.

    “A quarrel! I mean, why, that must have been a very pointed argument.”

    “Mya, Mya, Mya,” said Professor Yaffle. “It comes with a crossbow.”

    “Well,” said Bagpuss, “it must be a very cross bow indeed if it has quarrels.”

    “One that exchanges sharp words,” said Professor Yaffle, and Bagpuss thought about it. He thought so hard that his thoughts appeared by magic.

    ~ Once upon a time there were two cross bows. One was tied in black cheesecloth and lived on a hill overlooking the sea. The other was tied in silks and lived on another hill not so very far away. And they were always angry and always bowing. And they each had a quarrel.

    One day, the bow in black cheesecloth lost her quarrel. And she looked everywhere, and it wasn’t there. So she came down from the hill to the town in the valley because you can’t have a quarrel with only one. And when she came down, the other bolt saw her and came down to meet her and share her quarrel with her.

    And they argued so long and so loud that the townsfolk couldn’t get to sleep. The Mayor opened his window and looked out, and he was cross too because it was far too late at night for such things.

    “What is the meaning of this?” he demanded.

    “Who’s quarrel is this?” the two cross bows asked the Mayor, for they had only one between them. The Mayor told them that if they couldn’t share, then he would take the quarrel. And then the two cross bows didn’t have a quarrel between them any more, so they were happy bows. And since happy bows don’t argue, the townspeople could sleep so they were happy as well. ~​

    “What a silly story!” said Professor Yaffle, and the mice protested that it was not a silly story, it was a nice story. They even had a roll of music in the Mouse Protector organ for it.

    “It isn’t time for Mouse Organ singing,” said Madeleine “It is time for work. Bagpuss has started to yawn! Quick mice!” The mice bustled to it with cloths and mops and very small paint brushes.

    “We will tend it, we will mend it

    We will polish and clean its edge.

    We will clean it, we will sheen it

    We will paint it nice and red.”​

    And the mice polished the quarrel like new and painted the end in red just as it had been, and marked the odd whorls on the shaft back on. When it was done the quarrel was gleaming and all ready to start a brand-new argument with someone, if they were so inclined.

    Then the mice carried the quarrel in the window, so if the person who owned it saw it, they could come and claim it.

    And Bagpuss gave a great big yawn and settled down to sleep.

    And when Bagpuss goes to sleep, all his friends go to sleep too.

    The mice were ornaments on the Mouse Protector organ.

    Madeleine and Gabriel were just dolls.

    Professor Yaffle was a carved wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker.

    Even Bagpuss himself, once he was asleep was just an old, saggy, cloth, cat. Baggy and a bit loose at the seams.

    But Emma- Lee loved him.​

    #​

    “Wait, Dragon.” Obligingly she fell silent across the comms and Armsmaster stopped his motorbike. It wasn’t a good area of town, with the benefit of no tourists being present. Security protocols engaged on the bike automatically as his scanners checked for threats. None found. Only then did he turn off the engine, patching Dragon into the HUD, so she could see what it had flagged. At the base of a shuttered shop window there was a crossbow bolt. A fast pattern-match identified it as a standard hunting broadhead, Shadow Stalker’s preferred type prior to recruitment, and it had blood on it.

    Armsmaster got off his motorbike and walked over, HUD running a more detailed scan. No traps detected. He zoomed in, focusing on the shaft, using micro-enhancement to see it there was any DNA. Fingerprints showed clearly first.

    “Dragon?”

    “Those prints are from Shadow Stalker’s gloves,” Dragon said instantly. His own HUD agreed, matching with the gloves of her current costume, and that blood was fresh.

    “Console,” he ordered “page Shadow Stalker. Is she injured?” He picked up the weapon between finger and thumb of his gauntlet, careful not to smudge the prints. It could be a revenge strike on her.

    “Those prints are in the wrong position,” Dragon said, over the comms. He frowned, focusing. If the broadhead had been pulled out, there would be a firm grip, like a fist, and as he looked he made out glove lines in such a position, but the hand size was too large for Shadow Stalker.

    “It was pulled out of a wound by a large individual, likely male. High probability they were the victim.” Blood analysis would confirm details when he returned to base. Shadow Stalker’s prints were on the shaft near the base, a finger and thumb grip used to load the crossbow.

    “Console to Armsmaster,” Kid Win’s voice said, “She’s at Winslow right now. No injuries reported.” The conclusion was obvious. Armsmaster accessed Shadow Stalker’s patrol patterns. She was not scheduled to patrol again until this afternoon, after four days off. Her reports appeared clear, but it was possible someone at the PRThad not updated them.

    “Console, did she report any incidents in the last two days?”

    “None.”

    “Armsmaster,” Dragon said, and he could tell they had reached the same conclusion. The probability of her having a crossbow and broadheads present for a random mugging was near zero. Ownership of broadheads at all was a breach of probation.

    “Unauthorised patrols,” he said, tightly. The stupid girl could get herself killed. The damage to his reputation from losing a Ward would be considerable.

    “If she’s hunting again, she’ll have caches of bolts in places she can reach them.”

    “Most likely hidden by her power.” His old cross-scanner would easily find anything hidden in walls.

    “Agreed. I’ll produce a list of most likely locations.”

    “Thank you, Dragon.” He examined the end of the bolt again. The blood was less than twenty-four hours old. “Dragon, access my HUD. I require a second opinion on the nature of the blood.” He knew what he was seeing, but two tinkers were preferable.

    “Internal, high pressure and the bolt appears to have been immersed.” She said professionally. “Look behind the barbs.” There was flesh caught in the barbs right behind the head where it had been pulled out.

    “A torso shot?”

    “Probably a lung. Colin, she shot to kill.” That stupid little girl. It was not self-defence, the blood-spatter on the shaft identified that the bolt had travelled about twenty feet, most likely fired from a rooftop. This wasn’t the crime scene, so the bolt had been discarded while on the run orleft for them to find.

    “A set-up?” He knew that was low probability. In its position by the base of the window the bolt would be hard to see for normal vision.

    “Or someone who wants to let the Protectorate know what she’s doing but can’t come forward.” A gang member or criminal. It would fit her hunting patterns prior to arrest. “Which is a good thing.”

    “Explain.”

    “Consider if someone had gone to the media with this,” Dragon said, as Armsmaster picked up an evidence bag and secured the arrow. His jaw set. A Ward using a murder weapon would ruin his reputation. A Ward going on unauthorised patrols would not help it, and he knew he would take the blame.

    Turning back, he snapped a series of high quality shots of the scene, already writing his report in his head. If Shadow Stalker could not follow her probation terms, she was not valuable enough to keep. If this was swept under the carpet his reputation, internally in the Protectorate and P.R.T., would be ruined when she eventually hit someone who did not shut up. He wasn’t having a loose cannon like this on his watch.

    “Console, get me an appointment with the Director.”
     
  7. Kindler

    Kindler Active Member

    Okay, kudos to you.

    Sweet episode and I'm loving Bagpuss cleaning up Brockton Bay, one item at a time.
     
  8. Threadmarks: Chapter the Last – The Doll
    PuzzleRaven

    PuzzleRaven Member

    Chapter the Last – The Doll

    Oh god, it had eaten them. Five armed Merchants, and the thing had just...the red, wet, gaping, mouths...the crunching.

    Emma ran, knowing she couldn’t get away from the insane shapes, the tentacles, something that barked and could have been a dog’s head. It was fast, too fast. She ducked into an entrance, tried the shop door. It was locked. Cowering behind the signs, pressing herself back into the few inches of concrete that served as a porch she prayed to Sophia, to anyone as she heard the heard the worst of it.

    “Please hide, please stay quiet.” The girl’s voice begged from behind her. “I don’t want to…,” and the begging changed, deepened to a growl echoed by monsters as the malformed shadow moved into the street. “So hungry...”

    Emma could hear the asphalt cracking under its bulk as it moved, the shuffling sounds of something enormous that filled the narrow street from side to side as a curtain of tentacles and twisted flesh pulled it forwards. Why was this happening to her? She was a survivor, she couldn’t die here!

    “I saved her from the muggers.” Oh god, it ate them, ate them before they could - “Why won’t you let her go?” This wasn’t like Sophia’s rescue, all clean and brutal and brilliant. Where was Shadow Stalker? She hadn’t been at school, she wasn’t here for the patrol they were going to do, she wasn’t here, oh god, had this thing eaten her? No, she was a survivor. So was Emma, even if she couldn’t breath. She was a survivor. It was going to kill her.

    The girl’s voice was back, begging, delirious, part of the monster, embedded up to her hips like a twisted decoration. If the thing ate her, ate Emma, would she be part of the amalgam as well, forever? She couldn’t close her eyes as the shadow lengthened, as it made its shuffling, inexorable, way forward. The stink of the awful, twisted, body washed over her as she gagged.

    “Stay hidden, please,” the girl begged as the thing grew closer and closer to Emma’s hiding place, driven by the huge hand that dug into the road and pushed the whole bulk forward. “If you can hear me, don’t come near me. But I’m so hungry.” The naked desperation roused Emma’s contempt. Terror banished it as the voice quieted, became thoughtful. “Maybe one more then. One more, and then I won’t be so hungry.”

    No, this couldn’t be happening. Emma was a survivor. The shuffling was close, too close. Was it sniffling for her? She looked up, saw the first tips of a tentacle, saw the malformed dog’s head that could eat her at a bite. She was going to die.

    She broke, fled, one step, two. There was a roar behind her as the thing lunged, jaws gaping, it was too close, too impossibly fast, closing the distance even as her foot came down for the second time, as the front of the restaurant collapsed in masonry and concrete. Emma screamed.

    She saw stars. Then nothing...

    #​

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a little girl, and her name was Emma-Lee.

    And she had a shop. It was a rather unusual shop because it didn’t sell anything.

    You see everything in that window was a thing that somebody had once lost, and Emma-Lee had found. And brought home to Bagpuss.

    Emma-Lee’s cat Bagpuss. The most important, the most beautiful, the most magical, saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world.

    One day Emma-Lee found a thing and she brought it home to Bagpuss who was asleep in the shop window as usual. But then Emma-Lee said some magic words:

    Bagpuss, oh Bagpuss, Big, fat, furry, catpuss

    Wake up and look at this thing that I bring.

    Wake up and bright, be golden and light.

    Oh Bagpuss, hear what I sing.​

    And Bagpuss was wide awake. And when Bagpuss woke up, all his friends woke up too.

    The mice on the Mouse Protector organ woke up and stretched.

    Madeleine the Rag doll

    Gabriel the toad

    and last of all Professor Yaffle, a very distinguished old woodpecker. He climbed down off his bookend and went to see what it was that Emma-Lee had brought.

    It was a pile of bright cloth, a very large pile indeed, and it was all stitched together.

    “Mya, mya, mya,” he clicked. “I have no idea what this is. No idea at all.”

    “Can’t you see,” said Madeleine. “Why, it is a doll.”

    “A doll?” cried the mice. “But it is a very odd-shaped doll.”

    “Indeed,” said Professor Yaffle, “A doll. But there’s rather too much dress. You can hardly see the doll.”

    “I know a song about a dress” said Gabriel, strumming his guitar.

    ~“Once there was a Princess,

    who had a very large dress

    she tripped and fell

    right down a well

    and made her dress a mess.”~​

    “That is not a song,” said Professor Yaffle. “It is a limerick.”

    “I sung it, so it’s a song,” said Gabriel.

    “Stop,” said Madeleine, “Limericks can be sung, so they can be songs.”

    “Very well,” said Professor Yaffle, “But what shall we do about the dress? There’s simply far too much of it.”

    “Why, can’t you see what is on its head, Professor?” asked Madeleine.

    “It is a crown.” said Professor Yaffle.

    “It is a knitting crown,” said Madeleine., and the mice clustered round the doll.

    “A knitting crown? What’s that? What’s that?” asked the mice.

    “Why its a crown on a doll that lets you knit with it. You can knit and knit for ever so long if you have wool,” said Madeleine. Bagpuss was baffled.

    “However does it work? I mean, wherever did it get it?”

    “From it’s owner,” said Gabriel. “Only their owners dress up dolls.”

    “But why would its owner put a crown on it?” Bagpuss wanted to know.

    “I have a story,” said Madeleine. “Bagpuss, you need to think very hard,”

    “Then I shall need a thinking hat,” said Bagpuss. The mice pulled his thinking hat to Bagpuss and put it on his head. And Bagpuss thought, and he thought so hard his thoughts appeared like magic.

    ~ Once there was a Princess, who lived in the sky, and like all things in the sky she wore feathers. Because she was a princess, she wore a crown, but hers was made of crystal. It was a most unusual crown, for it was a knitting crown, but Princesses don’t knit. They do tapestry. So the crown didn’t knit.

    She had many pretty things, but what the Princess liked most of all was dolls. One day she saw a broken doll, so she swooped down and picked it up. And she mended with it and played with it and toyed with it, and had marvellous fun with it.

    Because it had become her favourite doll, she put her knitting crown on it while she began a tapestry to make it a marvellous Princess dress like hers. But the doll was not a Princess, so the knitting crown began to knit. It knitted and knitted and knitted, and the dress got larger and larger. The dress got so large the Sky Princess had to hold her doll with both hands, and then she couldn’t take the knitting crown off. It got so large that the Sky Princess could not hold the doll anymore because the clouds were too thin for the weight.

    The doll fell all the way down from the sky onto earth. The Princess could see her doll had fallen back to where it came from, and there were people there who might be its owners, come to claim it. She thought that someone else might have fun with her doll, and that its owners would be glad to have it back, so she went on to other toys. But the knitting crown knitted and knitted and knitted and knitted, and the Princess had quite forgotten to stop it, and so it is still knitting to this day. ~​

    “But how do we make it stop?” asked Bagpuss.

    “That is simple.” said Professor Yaffle, “We shall need to take the knitting crown off. Mice, hold up the doll’s head.” The mice held the doll up and the Professor snapped the knitting crown off the doll’s head. The mice patted the dress down.

    “Why, it is a very pretty doll,” said Madeleine.

    “Nya, nya, nya, this is not a normal doll!” said Professor Yaffle. “It is an Echidna.”

    “What is an Echidna?” asked Bagpuss.

    “It is a damaged doll that has many layers of dress instead of legs.” said Professor Yaffle. The mice began to lift the Echidna towards the window. “No, no, no,” said Professor Yaffle, and the mice stopped. “There is still entirely too much dress.”

    “The Professor is quite right,” Madeleine said. “You must repair it first.” The mice dropped the doll and set to work on it, cutting and clipping the Echidna.

    “We will tend it, we will mend it,

    We will make it a pretty sight,

    We will sooth it and improve it,

    We will make it all right, right, right.”​

    Even the magic song couldn’t fix the Echidna’s legs, so the mice made new ones and then re-stuffed the Echidna so it was as good as new. There was quite a bit left over, so the mice put the scraps in Madeleine’s workbox until the shop was neat and quite tidy again.

    Then Bagpuss put the Echidna in the window so if the person who owned it saw it, they could come in to collect it.

    And Bagpuss gave a great big yawn and settled down to sleep.

    And when Bagpuss goes to sleep, all his friends go to sleep too.

    The mice were ornaments on the Mouse Protector organ.

    Madeleine and Gabriel were just dolls.

    Professor Yaffle was a carved wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker.

    Even Bagpuss himself, once he was asleep was just an old, saggy, cloth, cat. Baggy and a bit loose at the seams.

    But Emma-Lee loved him.​

    #​

    “Noelle. Noelle?” Trickster was running through the streets, terrified he’d lost her. How the hell had she got out of the shipping crate before they’d even reached Coil? If she could have kept control for just one more day, she would have been safe. His phone chimed.

    “Krouse, anything?” Mars sounded scared, two streets away.

    “No. Keep looking.” How had she vanished, before they’d even reached Coil and his promised cure? They couldn’t afford another Boston, another Washington, not when they were so close to saving her. He swapped positions with a sign at the end of the street and kept going. “Noelle?”

    “Krouse?” It was so quiet he barely heard it, and he stopped, pulling the top hat off and angling his head to hear better.

    “Noelle?”

    “Krouse? I’m over here.”

    “Keep talking!” Trickster swapped places with a wrecked motorbike, a fallen streetsign, circling the block in jumps as her voice grew louder.

    In the wreck of a ruined shop, Noelle raised her head. Placed in the shattered window like a display, she was curled up naked on her side, shivering from the night’s cold and surrounded by shards of broken glass. She was staring at her legs. Her legs.

    “Noelle?” He barely breathed it.

    “I’m fixed,” She didn’t look at him, still staring at her feet. The toes twitched. “I’m fixed?” Trickster rushed to the window, and swapped her out onto the pavement. Noelle faltered on her new legs and he caught her, pulling his coat off awkwardly. She froze, horrified, as he touched her arm. Nothing happened. “Krouse? Is this real?” She prodded her legs, flexing the toes. Cautiously, he reached down, tapped her knee. Nothing happened.

    “Yes, yes it’s real.” He was crying. He didn’t care. “How? Who?” If whoever had done this wanted anything, Krouse would get it to them. Whatever they wanted in return, it was theirs.

    “I don’t know.” Noelle was absolutely baffled. “It felt like a dream. You know, when you just wake up and you can’t quite remember it?”

    “Noelle!” Mars shouted, running up to them. Nervously, she stopped, saw Krouse with his arm round Noelle’s shoulders. Mars stared at Noelle’s legs, beginning to raise her hands. Light grew between them. “Er...Krouse?”

    “I don’t make clones anymore!” Noelle said hurriedly.

    “Someone fixed her,” Krouse added at the same time, as Mars began to stammer questions.

    “We need to get off the streets,” Noelle said, over her. “It isn’t safe.” Krouse stilled, listening to the city noises, some of which were closer than he liked.

    “We’d better get back to the hotel and tell the others,” he decided.

    “Aren’t we meant to be working with Coil?” Mars asked, and Krouse looked at Noelle, his arm round her. She shook her head, falling back into old leadership habits.

    “If we don’t need to work with the villains, let’s not,” she said. Krouse shrugged. They were out of Accord’s reach, and they hadn’t even met Coil yet. They could go anywhere, even home, if she was really fixed. He smiled.

    “Yeah. Screw Coil.”
     
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