Muddle-headed Kay (mhw) wrote,
Muddle-headed Kay
mhw

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A bedtime story.

I think I've already mentioned how much Mark and Louise, Bryan and Karen's younger children, love to play 'Zombie'. Louise is so fond of them that one way to make her eat food she claims not to like is to tell her that it's 'Zombie food' - limbs, brains, eyeballs, blood, and so on.

One night, having been begged for a 'real story', I told them extempore one rather like that below. Since then they've importuned me to write it down so that they can read it to themselves any time they please. Here's the first draft, with apologies to Joseph Jacobs, who wrote the version with which you may be more familiar.



Goldilocks and the Three Zombies

ONCE upon a time there were Three Zombies, who lived together in a grand marble crypt of their own in a spooky old graveyard. One of them was a Little, Small, Wee Zombie; one was a Middle-sized Zombie; and the other was a Great, Huge Zombie. They each had a rusty iron pot to eat people’s brains out of: a little pot for the Little, Small, Wee Zombie; a middle-sized pot for the Middle Zombie; and an enormous pot for the Great, Huge Zombie. They each had an old mossy gravestone to perch on: a little gravestone for the Little, Small, Wee Zombie; a middle-sized gravestone for the Middle Zombie; and an enormous gravestone for the Great, Huge Zombie. And they each had a mouldy wooden coffin to hide from Zombie-hunters in; a little coffin for the Little, Small, Wee Zombie; a middle-sized coffin for the Middle Zombie; and an enormous coffin for the Great, Huge Zombie.

One night, after they had caught several unwary travellers and had scooped out their brains into the brain-pots, they walked out into the graveyard while the brains were clotting, so that they should be nice for the Three Zombies to eat. And while they were walking, a little girl with blonde curly hair came to the crypt. Goldilocks was her name, because of her lovely hair; but she was not a good, honest girl, for first she tapped at the door; then she rapped at the door; then, hearing nobody within, she pushed open the heavy bronze door of the crypt. The door was not fastened, you see, because the Zombies were supposed to be properly dead, and nobody suspected how many people had their brains eaten by them. So the little girl opened the door on its creaky, rusty hinges, and went in; and she was quite delighted when she saw the brains clotting in the pots. She thought that they must be some kind of pasta in sauce, and she loved pasta. If she had been a good little girl, she would have waited till the Zombies came home, and then perhaps they might have asked her to breakfast; or perhaps they would have eaten her brains anyway. You never know with Zombies. But Goldilocks was an impudent, spoilt little girl, and she set about helping herself.

So first she tasted the brains in the Great, Huge Zombie’s pot, and they were too chewy for her; and she said a bad word about that. Then she tasted the brains in the Middle Zombie’s pot, and they were too gooey for her; and she said a bad word about that, too. And then she went to the Little, Small, Wee Zombie’s pot, and tasted those brains too. They were neither too chewy nor too gooey, but spicy and just right; and she liked them so much that she ate them all up; but naughty Goldilocks said a bad word about the little brains-pot, because it did not hold enough for her.

Then the little girl perched on the gravestone of the Great, Huge Zombie, and that was too gritty for her. Then she perched on the gravestone of the Middle Zombie, and that was too mossy for her. And then she perched on the gravestone of the Little, Small, Wee Zombie, and that was neither too gritty, nor too mossy, but just right. So she perched herself on it, and she rocked back and forth singing a song full of bad words till the bottom of the gravestone came out of the earth; and down she came, plump upon the ground. The gravestone smashed into pieces, and Goldilocks said a wicked word about that, too.

Then the little girl went to the back of the crypt where the three Zombies hid themselves during the day in case of Zombie-hunters. First she lay down in the coffin of the Great, Huge Zombie; but that was too long for her, and, besides, it smelled of worms. Then she lay down in the coffin of the Middle Zombie, but that was too wide for her, and there was a great hairy spider in it as well. And then she lay down in the coffin of the Little, Small, Wee Zombie, and that was neither too long nor too wide, but just right. She decided to scoop out the few small bones that lay inside it and drop them on the floor, then she covered herself up comfortably with a shroud and lay there till she fell fast asleep.

By this time the Three Zombies thought that their brains would be ready, so they came home to breakfast. Now the little girl had carelessly knocked over the Great, Huge Zombie’s brains-pot. ‘Somebody has been eating my brains!’ said the Great, Huge Zombie in his great, scary, groany voice. When the Middle Zombie looked at his brains-pot, he saw that someone had drawn a smiley face in the brains with their fingers. ‘Somebody has been eating my brains!’ said the Middle Zombie in his middle, but still quite horrid, voice. Then the Little, Small, Wee Zombie looked at his brains-pot, and all the brains were gone! ‘Somebody has been eating my brains, and has eaten them all up!’ said the Little, Small, Wee Zombie in his little, small, wee voice. Upon this the Three Zombies, seeing that someone had entered their crypt and had eaten up the Little, Small, Wee Zombie’s breakfast, began to look about them.

Goldilocks had scratched her name with a sharp stone on the gravestone of the Great, Huge Zombie while she was perching on it. ‘Somebody has been perching on my gravestone!’ said the Great, Huge Zombie in his great, scary, groany voice. The naughty girl had also pulled lots of the moss off the gravestone of the Middle Zombie. ‘Somebody has been perching on my gravestone!’ said the Middle Zombie in his middle, though horrid and cross, voice. You already know what the little girl had done to the third gravestone, don’t you? ‘Somebody has been perching on my gravestone and has knocked it over and smashed it all to bits!’ said the Little, Small, Wee Zombie in his little, small, wee voice, and he started to make awful little, small, wee crying noises.

Then the three Zombies decided that they should search the crypt thoroughly; so they went to the back of the crypt where the coffins lay. Now the little girl had carelessly left the lid of the Great, Huge Zombie’s coffin open. ‘Somebody has been lying in my coffin!’ said the Great, Huge Zombie, in his great, scary, groany voice. Then she had pulled one of the brass handles off the Middle Zombie’s coffin, and scared the Middle Zombie’s pet spider (whose name was Winston) into fits. ‘Somebody has been lying in my coffin!’ said the Middle Zombie, in a very angry middle voice. And when the Little, Small, Wee Zombie came to look at his coffin, there were his favourite bones scattered carelessly on the floor and trodden on, which made him cry even more; and, wrapped in his own shroud, lying in his own special little, small, wee coffin, was a girl!

‘Somebody has been lying in my coffin — and here she is!’ said the Little, Small, Wee Zombie, in his little, small, wee voice, and he rubbed the tears from his mouldy cheeks so hard that his nose fell off and landed on Goldilocks. The little girl had heard in her sleep the great, scary, groany voice of the Great, Huge Zombie; but she was so fast asleep that it was no more to her than the roaring of wind or the rumbling of thunder. Then she had heard the middle voice of the Middle Zombie, almost as cross as her Aunt Lily’s; but it was only as if she had heard her Aunt scolding her in a dream. But when she felt the little, small, wee nose of the Little, Small, Wee Zombie land on her face, and heard his little, small, wee sobs, she was so surprised that she awakened at once.

Up she started; and when she saw the Three Zombies on one side of the coffin, she jumped out at the other, and ran to the great bronze door of the crypt. But the Zombies, even though they were dead, were much faster than she was, and caught Goldilocks before she could escape. I shan’t tell you what happened next, but I will tell you that the Little, Small, Wee Zombie didn’t go to his coffin hungry that morning, and he had a nice new shiny set of bones to play with that night.

THE END.
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