Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello!
After getting sidetracked yesterday in The Oxford Bar in Edinburgh, here’s the next nude-and-uncut chapter of the continuing saga of Granny Battle and Ellis, hurrah!
If you’d like to catch up on the whole story so far (or just the previous chapter, to get you in the mood, like), here are some links:
Chapter 1 – Crackleberries…
Chapter 2 – What happened next…
Chapter 3 – Tweaked odour eaters…
Chapter 4 – Startled dragon wee…
Chapter 5 – Cats: The truth…
Chapter 6 – Battle Stations
Chapter 7 – An exploding dragon?
Right, let’s get on with it!
A pair of large, slightly smoking, orange nostrils filled his vision.
‘His name’s Eronimous Sinjun Fluffy-Paws Battleford III, by the way,’ said Granny, lowering the dragon slightly, ‘but I just call him Ian for short. It’s about time you were properly introduced.’ Ellis refocused on the dragon, raising an eyebrow and opening his mouth to say ‘Fluffy-Paws?!’, but catching Granny’s defiant eye he changed his mind. He also decided not to pick up on her mis-spelling of St John.
‘Hello Ian,’ he said rather weakly, ‘I didn’t recognise you there for a minute.’ Ian looked up at him steadily and blinked slowly, then stretched out a scaley, be-clawed front leg.
‘Aw, good boy, he wants to shake hands,’ said Granny, ‘Quickly, before he changes his mind.’ Ellis carefully took hold of the proffered foot and shook it gingerly. The scales felt surprisingly soft. Ian wriggled in Granny’s arms and she put him down in Ellis’ lap, where he curled up with his nose tucked under his tail and promptly went to sleep.
Granny was rustling around in her bag, so Ellis took a moment to look carefully around, glancing back to Ian every few seconds to make sure he could still see him. The memory of seeing, feeling and hearing two places at once was still making him feel a little queasy, and he didn’t want to risk it happening again. ‘As long as I can see Ian properly,’ he told himself, ‘I’ll be alright.’
The train carriage he was in was nothing at all like the ones he’d been in occasionally with his mum. This one looked more like one of the ones he’d seen in the big museum she’d taken him to once – all varnished wood, mirrors, and lights with delicate little frilly lampshades mounted on the walls. They were in a compartment with a door at each side, and two long benches faced each other with shiny steel luggage racks mounted above them.
Opposite him sat a young family – mum, dad and five children, the smallest of which was sitting on his dad’s lap with his short furry legs sticking straight out, as he stared intently at Ellis and picked his long stripey nose.
‘Um, Granny…’ whispered Ellis out the corner of his mouth.
‘Of course they’re badgers,’ said Granny, still rummaging in her bag. Then she triumphantly brandished a rather squashed foil wrapped package. ‘Aha! Sandwich?’
Ellis looked back at the little badger boy, who was now inspecting the findings on the end of his paw with interest.
‘The thing is,’ said Granny, digging him in the ribs with a pointy elbow and passing him a surprisingly dainty-looking sandwich, ‘you’ll find things a little bit odd at first, but once you get used to it you won’t think twice about it.’ She devoured her sandwich in one bite and recovered another from the foil.
‘It makef fense when you fink about ift,’ she said chewily, then she stopped mid-mastication, pulled a face and thought for a second or two. She swallowed. ‘Probably best tho if you don’t try and think about it too much at the moment though, it’s a bit too early.’
Ellis wished she hadn’t said that – it was like the sneeze all over again. He looked down and stared hard at Ian for a few seconds to make sure he was still there.
Then he took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. ‘Granny?’ He asked carefully, trying to make sure that what he was going to say next was as clear in mind as possible. Granny opened her mouth, peered at him, then shut it again. Giving a little nod, she said, ‘Yes Ellis?’ Ellis relaxed slightly and continued, ‘Would you mind very much not answering before I’ve asked stuff? It’s just that it makes me feel dizzy.’ He looked at Granny and felt a bit silly, knowing that she’d already known what he’d being going to ask.
Granny smiled, her eyes crinkling behind her massive glasses. ‘Of course, Ellis,’ she said, ‘I do sometimes forget it must be a bit confusing. I’ll just save it for special occasions and emergencies, shall I?’ Ellis nodded gratefully and took a bite of his sandwich. It was cheese and onion, his favourite, and tasted extremely comforting. He chewed slowly, trying to decide how to phrase his next question, as Granny started to hum impatiently next to him. He swallowed.
‘So, um, what’s going on? Where are we? Where are we going? How are we going? Can we get back?’ he paused and took a breath, ‘and what’s that smell?!’ he finished, wrinkling up his nose at a particularly pungent aroma that had just appeared out of nowhere.
Granny leaned towards him and sniffed.
‘It’s just Ian,’ she said, ‘he does that sometimes in his sleep.’ She wafted the air around the snoozing dragon with both hands to try and disperse the smell and shrugged apologetically at the badger family opposite as they began to cover their noses with their paws.
‘Best way to answer the rest of your questions,’ she said turning back to Ellis, ‘would be for you to have a look at your phone.’
Ellis looked blank for a second, then remembered the app Granny had installed for him back in the kitchen, which now felt like weeks ago. He shrugged off his rucksack, being careful not to disturb Ian, dug his phone out and switched it on. Then he tapped on the Battle Stations icon, scrolled through the menu options and tapped on Map.
At first glance it looked just like his normal map app, except that there were three blobs – one blue, one green, and a small orange one – drifting up the screen. He realised they must be himself, Granny and Ian.
‘Good boy,’ said Granny approvingly, ‘Keep looking.’
According to the map, they were travelling through a dense forest. Except there weren’t any dense forests for miles and miles from where he lived – there was just the disappointingly small wood. He looked at the screen more closely, and noticed the little flap at the bottom right corner – on his phone when he tapped that, he could change map views. He tapped on it, and was given the option of Standard, Hybrid, Satellite and something called “Trigonal“. He tapped Trigonal, and the map quickly redrew. He stared at it. It was still showing them as moving through a forest, but at the same time, like a tracing-paper overlay, he could see houses and roads.
The three dots glided through a new housing estate, then joined up with a motorway. Ellis zoomed in, and found he could even make out tiny cars zooming alongside them, or in some cases straight through them in the opposite direction, which was a bit disconcerting. The motorway suddenly veered off to the left and they were travelling through open fields, and at the same time a dense forest.
He dragged his gaze away from the screen and looked up at Granny, his eyes wide.
‘That,’ he said, with a big grin spreading across his face, ‘is the coolest app ever!’
Wahey! Catch you later!
Oh – and if you’d like to know where the wee orange dragon got his name, read yesterday’s blog post… 🙂