Jim’s Castle Paul Edwards
Jim lived with his mum and dad in a little house on Fish Street. But a letter from his Uncle James was just about to change all that. For a while, anyway. The letter said that Uncle James was going away on a trip and he asked if Jim, his mum and dad would stay at his house and look after it while he was away. As it was nearly time for the summer holidays and Uncle James’ house was near the sea, the family thought it would be good fun to stay there for a while. Jim’s mum and dad started to pack the car for the stay. Everyone was allowed two big bags and Jim packed his with a few games to play in the car, a few toys to play with at the house and two pairs of socks, just in case his red ones got smelly. After all, they were going away for three whole weeks. Jim’s mum didn’t think that two pairs of socks was enough clothes for Jim for three weeks and in the end, he had to take shirts and shorts and socks, leaving half of his games behind. ‘That’s not fair’, thought Jim, ‘I can wear the same clothes every day, but I can’t play the same games every day’. But his mum was in charge and there was nothing he could do. So the car was packed and Jim, his mum, who was in charge, and his dad set off to Uncle James’ house. It was a long way to the sea, but the family kept busy with songs and games that they could all play together. They stopped at a café for ice cream and to stretch their legs before dad carried on driving. On the road they passed cars and trucks, bikes and vans, crossed over bridges and under tunnels. After a while, Jim fell asleep and had a dream. In his dream he met a cat who could talk, played football and swang on a rope, right across a ditch.
‘Wake up, Jim’ he heard his mum saying, ‘We’re nearly there, and the fist one to see the sea gets a sweet.’ The car went slower and slower as it got to the top of the hill. From the top, if he looked really hard, Jim could just see the blue sea, washing up against the beach. ‘There it is!’ said Jim, ‘I can see the sea!’ ‘Where?’ asked his dad. ‘Over there,’ said Jim ‘Right over there’. ‘Yes,’ said his mum, you’re right, Jim, you win’. Jim ate the sweet that his mum gave him and the whole family laughed.
‘The next hill’, said Jim’s mum, ‘Is where Uncle James’ house is, it’s called Rainbow Hill’.
‘Yes’, said Jim, I know, number one, Rainbow Hill’.
‘That’s right’, said Jim’s dad, ‘and there it is now.’
Jim could just see through the front window of the car. Number one, Rainbow Hill. A big, odd shaped house painted bright yellow. Some of the roof was red, and some was blue. All in all, it was a very odd house indeed. Jim’s dad parked the car outside and they all started to get their bags out from the boot. Dad carried all the bags while mum, who was in charge after all, opened the big green door to let them in. Jim thought he could make out a few letters on the door, but it was so dusty that he couldn’t really see what they said. He could just make out the letters J and C and wondered what it was supposed to say. Jim helped his dad with the last of the bags, while his mum went to find the kitchen to make them all a hot drink. Dad and Jim went after her. They all sat down around the large wooden table and had a good cup of tea. “Look”, said Jim’s dad, pointing to a shelf by the window, “There are two letters up there, one for mum and one for Jim”. He passed Jim the letter and Jim started to read.
“Dear Jim”, it said, “When you get a chance, please go to the door under the stairs, the red door, not the blue one. There is a surprise waiting for you in there. But you must come alone or it won’t work. Love, Uncle James.” Jim wanted to go right away, but he knew that he would have to help take the bags upstairs and eat his dinner before he could play. Jim thought it best to eat all of his dinner, so his mum would be pleased with him. She was pleased, so Jim could play in the house as much as he wanted.
Jim went straight to the red door under the stairs and opened it. But inside, there was nothing but coats and shoes. No surprises at all. Jim went further inside and the door closed behind him with a loud click. Then, things began to change. An odd light filled the room, which was definitely bigger than it was before. But it wasn't a room at all; it was more like a shop. Trousers, jackets and shirts hung from all manner of racks and rails in so many colours that Jim couldn't count them all. There were all sorts of greens and purples and reds and some colours that Jim thought he had never seen before. On the shelves were rolls of clot h and thread and half-made pieces of clothing, a trouser leg, a shirt collar, the sleeve of a coat. Jim walked along by the racks, looking up at hats and boots hanging from the roof. He turned a corner and could then hear the whizzing and shushing of some sort of machine. It sounded a bit like his gran's sewing machine, but much, much louder. Jim followed the sound around another corner and was very surprised by what he saw. In the corner, sitting by a huge sewing machine was an equally huge spider. The spider was wearing the most amazing suit of clothes that Jim had ever seen. A jacket with six sleeves, each one in a different colour and trousers with so many stripes that Jim could not count them. The spider was working so hard that at first he didn't notice Jim. Then he looked up and saw Jim standing there.
"Hello", said the spider, "You must be Jim"
"I am", said Jim, "But how on earth did you know that?"
"Your Uncle James told me to expect you", said the spider. "Oh, by the way, I'm Spinning Bob,” said the spider. “Hello, Spinning Bob,” said Jim, “You are a surprise, uncle James said in the letter that there would be a surprise waiting for me in here.”
“Yes”, said Spinning Bob, “Quite a few surprises, I think, now, let me look at you...mmm, about a size blue, I think.”
“Size blue?” asked Jim, “What does that mean?”
“Oh”, said Spinning Bob, “In here, colours come in different sizes and sizes in different colours, good, isn’t it?”
“I suppose so,” said Jim, “But why do you need to know what size I am?”
“Because,” Spinning Bob told him, “I must make you a suit for your trip”
“What trip?” asked Jim.
“Well”, started Spinning Bob, “You can’t go back in here, you can only go forward, so you must go on a little trip to get back to where you came from.”
“I see,” said Jim, “But it will have to be a short trip, my mum and dad will wonder where I am.”
“No they won’t,” said Spinning Bob laughing, “It’s different in here, time goes much more slowly, so your mum and dad won’t even know that you’re gone, well, not for quite a while, anyway, not until tomorrow at least.”
Great, thought Jim, a whole day to play and going on a trip. Great. Spinning Bob started work on Jim’s suit. Arms and legs everywhere, cutting and stitching and whistling a tune like none that Jim had ever heard before. He was so fast that Jim could hardly see him. He worked and worked and whistled and whistled until finally, he was finished. A jacket and trousers, size blue, with more pockets and zips than Jim could count. “Well,” asked Spinning Bob, “Do you like it?”
“I think so,” said Jim, “But why has it got so many pockets and zips?”
“Because,” Spinning Bob told him, “You will need plenty of things for your trip, so you need a lot of pockets to put them in.”
“Oh,” said Jim, “I see. What sort of things?”
“All sorts” said Spinning Bob, “For a start, I will give you this reel of thread, which will never run out and can never break. You can only cut it with these silver scissors which I will also give you. You must be very careful with scissors, Jim.”
“I know,” said Jim, “ I use scissors to cut out shapes from paper, I’m always very careful.”
“Good,” said Spinning Bob, “Now put on your new suit and then put the thread in one pocket and the scissors in another.”
Jim did as he was told. The suit fit perfectly, Spinning Bob was very good at his job. Into one pocket went the thread and into another the scissors.
“Right,” said Spinning Bob, “Off you go, Jim, the new door is just over there.” He pointed with six arms at a new red door that Jim hadn’t seen before.
“Where’s the old door?” asked Jim.
“Dunno,” said Spinning Bob, “They move around a lot, doors, they’re like that.”
“Not where I come from”, said Jim, “Doors stay where they are there.”
“Really?” asked Spinning Bob, “How odd.”
Jim said thanks for the new suit and the thread and scissors and went through the new door. As soon as it was shut behind him, it moved off and Jim couldn’t see it anymore. In front of him was a long hall and he went quickly along it, round two corners and stopped. In front of him was a great dark hole from one wall to the other, with no way across. But Jim could not go back, the hall was gone and behind him was just another wall. “Oh, blow”, said Jim, “I’m stuck! I can’t go back and there’s no way across the hole.” Just then he heard a noise coming from deep below. “Grooosh” went the noise, it sounded like something snoring, something very big. A wind came up with the noise and it didn’t smell at all nice. Jim felt a bit scared and wished that he hadn’t come through the door under the stairs at all. He looked around carefully, to see if he could find a way across. He looked left and right and up, but not down. “Grooosh” went the snoring noise and the smell came too. “Yuk,” thought Jim, “I can’t stay here” and looked around again, even more carefully. Up on the roof, he saw a hook. “Perhaps”, he thought, “If I can throw the thread over the hook, I could swing across. I can swing on a rope, and this thread will never break” So he took the end of the thread and threw it into the air. But he missed. “Groooosh” went the snoring, a bit louder now and sounding closer. Jim tried again, but still he missed. This time, he made a big knot in the end of the thread and threw the knot as hard as he could. The knot went up and over the hook. It started to swing backwards and forwards across the hole and Jim had to stretch as far as he could to get hold of it. He put the knot under his foot and took out the scissors. Very carefully he cut the other end of the thread and tied the two ends together. A really loud “Grooosh” came up out of the hole and Jim knew that he would have to be quick to get away. He put the rest of the thread and the scissors back into his pocket and swung on the thread across the hole.
The first swing was not far enough for Jim to get across. The second was closer, but he could feel the breath of the Grooosh around his ankles. He swung as hard as he could and let go of the thread. Jim was in the air for what felt like forever, but when he put his foot down, it was on something hard. Good. Then he began to slide along on whatever it was he had put his foot on. When he stopped, he looked back at the hole, just in time to see a large, horrible mouth snap at the end of the thread before falling back down to where it had come from. “Grroooossshh” it went and then a loud thud as it hit the bottom of the hole. Jim picked himself up and felt very lucky to have made it across the hole without being eaten. He looked down to see what it was that his foot had landed on. “How very odd”, said Jim out loud, even though there wasn’t anyone else there, “What is a tin of tuna fish doing in here? Never mind, I will take it with me in case it’s useful later.” He put the tin of tuna fish in one of his pockets. Off he went down a long hall and around a corner. He didn’t hear the Grooosh again.
Jim opened the next red door and found himself in a large room, with bright white lights and walls. In what he thought must be the middle, a tall wall, but not all the way to the roof stood before him. He couldn’t go back, and Jim could not think of a way to get over the tall wall. He would never be able to jump that high and the wall was too smooth to climb. Jim sat down and wondered what to do. Then, a small shape seemed to move along the wall. Jim could only just make it out, whatever it was just as white as the wall itself. Along it went and then back again. Along it went and stopped. It turned and now Jim could see two eyes, one brown and one blue, looking straight at him. “Friend or foe?” asked a small voice. “You’re a cat!” said Jim.
“Brilliant”, said the cat, “So you’ve seen a cat before, then?”
“Of course I have”, said Jim, “Lots of times, but never one as white or as thin as you”.
“Brilliant”, said the cat, looking down at the floor, “That’s me, then, the thin white cat.”
Jim thought that the cat seemed a little bit sad. He thought he would try to cheer the cat up a bit. “Friend”, he said, smiling.
“Brilliant” said the cat without looking up, “Got a name, have you?”
“Of course I have”, said Jim, “It’s, err, Jim”
“Err, Jim”, said the cat, “Ok, hello, err Jim”
“No, it’s just Jim,” said Jim to the cat, “Have you got a name?”
“Dave”, said the cat, “just Dave” and the cat smiled, a strange one-sided smile. He walked over and sat down next to Jim. “So, then”, said Dave, “The wall.”
“Yes,” Jim replied, “The wall. Any idea of how we can get over it? It’s too high for me to jump over, and I can’t climb it.”
“I can’t climb it,” Dave explained, “But I could jump it. In fact, that’s how I got here. I jumped over from the other side.”
“What’s on the other side?” Jim asked.
“Depends,” said Dave, “Changes a lot, the door moves around and it goes to different places.”
“I see,” said Jim, “But if you jumped over, why don’t you just jump back?”
“I would”, said Dave, “But I can’t, because I’m too hungry to do anything. I didn’t bring any food with me. You need food for energy, you know.”
“I know”, said Jim, “My mum is always telling me that.”
“A very wise mum you have there, Jim. I don’t suppose she gave you any food to bring with you, did she? Cat food?” asked Dave.
“Sorry”, said Jim, “But my mum doesn’t know I’m here. No one does. Oh, wait a minute. Do you like tuna fish?”
“What do you think, Jim?” asked Dave, “I’m a cat, aren’t I?”
“Definitely,” replied Jim, “You are definitely a cat, so, of course you like fish, any fish, and a tin of tuna will do very nicely. That’s good, because I happen to have one in my pocket!” Jim took the tin from his pocket and showed it to Dave.
“Brilliant,” said Dave, “But how are you going to open it?”
“Easy,” said Jim, “It’s got it’s own key, can you eat from a tin without hurting yourself on the sharp edges?”
“No,” said Dave, you will just have to put it on the floor, I suppose. Never mind, I’ve eaten in worse places than this.”
“Really?” asked Jim.
“No,” replied Dave, “Not really.”
Jim opened the tin and put the fish onto the cleanest part of the floor that he could find. Dave looked at Jim and then at the fish. He shook his head a couple of times and mumbled something in cat, which Jim couldn’t understand. Still, he ate the fish and then lay down and closed his eyes, smiling a wide, wide smile. “Just going to have a little sleep,” he told Jim, “Just a few…” but he didn’t finish telling Jim how long he wanted to sleep for, he was already fast asleep. Jim thought that he might as well have a sleep too. He lay down next to the thin white cat and had a nap.
Dave tapped Jim on the head to wake him. “Come on Jim”, he said, “I’m ready to make the jump.”
“Wait,” said Jim, “Can you take one end of this thread over, I can climb it and meet you on the other side.”
Dave thought for a moment. “Yes,” he said, “But tie a few knots in it first, that will make it easier to climb.”
“Good idea”, said Jim, and ties some knots along the thread.
“One more thing”, said Dave, “put the empty tin and the key in your pocket, can you? It’s not good to leave rubbish lying around”.
“I know that”, Jim replied, “I never leave any rubbish around”.
Dave took one end of the thread in his mouth and jumped as high as he could, but it was not high enough to get over the wall. He tried again, but still it wasn’t high enough.
“Sorry, Jim”, he said, “But I think I shall have to stand on your head to get over the wall.”
“Ok,” said Jim, and he helped Dave to stand on top of his head. With one big jump from both of them, Dave made it over the wall, taking the end of the thread with him. Jim climbed up after him, and jumped down the other side. “You must be very strong,” he said to Dave, to have held the thread while I climbed up it.”
“Not at all”, said Dave, “I tied it on to this” and he pointed to a large read and white thing on the floor.
“I think it’s a horse shoe,” said Dave, “But I don’t see a horse.”
“No”, Jim told him, “It’s not a horse shoe, it’s a magnet. I think we should take it with us.” Jim picked up the horse shoe magnet and put it into one of the pockets in his suit.
“Ok,” said Dave, “Let’s look for the door.” They looked around the room until they found the next red door. Off they went through it and down a long hall and around a corner. When they turned the corner they found that they were in a very bright light. On they went and as they got used to the light, they both felt grass under their feet. The two friends crossed a painted white line and then another. They were right in the middle of a football pitch.
“What now?” asked Dave.
“I see!” said Jim, “Look, the next door is right in the middle of the goal at the other end. That’s easy, come on, let’s go.” Jim and Dave walked towards the goal, but, when they got near, a ball popped up out of the ground and rolled towards Jim’s foot.
“Go on then”, said Dave, “Kick it, score a goal!” Jim kicked the ball hard and straight at the goal. He was just about to cheer for himself when; from a flap in the ground came a large robot. He was dressed as a goalkeeper and that was just what he did. The robot stretched out his left arm and saved the shot.
“Save,” said the robot, in a metal voice. Then he threw the ball back to Jim to try again. Jim looked at Dave and Dave looked back, mostly with his blue eye. “This isn’t go to be as easy as we thought”, Dave said. Then “Go on, try again, it’s just a robot.” Jim put the ball down and took a few steps back. He ran up to it and kicked it as hard as he could, right on target. “Berrt” went the robot as he dived to the corner of the goal and saved again. “Save..Berrrt” he said and threw the ball back out to Jim.
Jim tried again. “Berrrt, save, berrrt” went the robot, throwing the ball back out again.
“Want to try?” Jim asked Dave. “No thanks, Jim”, said Dave, “It’s more fun watching you, the ball is a bit big for me, anyway”. Jim tried to pretend that he wasn’t looking at the goal, turned quickly and kicked the ball just right. “Berrrt, save, berrrt” went the robot again. Jim tried again and again. Five, six, seven tries, eight, nine ten. Still he could not beat the robot goalkeeper. Dave started to frown. “Could be the longest game in history” he said, lying down, “Keep it up, Jim, perhaps his battery will run out or something”. Jim tried again and again, but he couldn’t beat the keeper. Then he had an idea. “Dave?” he asked, “What do you think the robot is made out of?” “Looks like metal to me” replied Dave, “Why?” “Because,” said Jim, metal sort of sticks to magnets, doesn’t it?”
“Does it?” asked Dave, “If you say so, Jim”
“I do say so”, said Jim, “Can you do something for me?”
“I suppose so”, said Dave, “What do you want me to do?”
“Take the magnet” Jim explained, “And put it round the goal post, with the two ends pointing at the robot. I will shoot for the same corner.”
“I see”, said Dave with a smile, “Let’s try it!” Dave went round the edge of the pitch and waited for Jim to line up his shot. Jim took three steps back and ran to the ball. Just as he kicked it, Dave put the magnet round the post. The robot dived for the corner. “Berrrt, save, berrt” it went as it threw the ball back to Jim. But it couldn’t get back up, because the magnet kept it stuck to the goal post. Jim quickly shot into the other corner. “Goal!” he shouted and started to dance around, very pleased with himself. Dave did his best to cheer. “Goal, berrt, goal” went the robot, still stuck against the post. “You win,” he said in a metal voice. “Come on”, said Dave, let’s go” and he started for the door.
“Wait a minute”, said Jim, “We can’t leave him there, stuck to the post.”
“Why not?” asked Dave.
“Because”, replied Jim, “he played fair and so must we”.
“Oh, must we?” Dave asked him back.
“Yes!” said Jim. Jim went to the robot and pulled the magnet away from the goal post.
“Berrrt, what is that thing?” asked the robot.
“It’s called a magnet,” said Jim.
“Magnet” said the robot, “Can I berrt, keep it?”
“If you want to”, said Jim, “I only found it anyway, yes you can have it.” He gave the magnet to the robot and started to walk over to where Dave was waiting for him. “Berrt, wait a minute” said the robot, “Can I come with you? I’m fed up of being in goal.” Jim looked at the robot and then at Dave. “Alright with you?” he asked the thin white cat.
“Of course”, said Dave, looking at the robot, “I suppose that your name is Bert?”
“Berrrt, that’s right, berrrt”, went the robot, “How did you know?”
“Just a lucky guess”, said Dave, “Just a lucky guess”.
The three friends set off through the red door, down a long hall and round a corner. They found themselves in a large sandy room, with a few blocks of stone lying here and there. “Nothing much in here”, said Jim, “But I can’t see the next door anywhere” said Jim.
“Berrrt, up there,” said Bert, “Right up there”.
Jim and Dave both looked at where Bert was pointing. There was the door alright, but it was way up near the roof.
“Can you jump that high?” Jim asked Dave.
Dave shook his head. “No, Jim, that’s too high for me.”
“Even if you jump from the top of my head?” Jim asked the cat.
“No, Jim, not even then” replied Dave.
“Can you stretch that high?” Jim asked Bert.
Bert shook his head, “Too far, berrt” he went.
“What if we all try together?” asked Dave, “What if we all stand on each others heads? Then maybe we will be tall enough.”
“Good idea”, said Jim, “Let’s try.” They tried. First, Jim climbed up on top of Bert and Dave climbed up on top of Jim. But they weren’t tall enough. Then Bert stood on top of Jim, with Dave at the top again, but still it wasn’t enough. Then they tried with Dave at the bottom, with Jim next and Bert on top. They seemed a bit taller now, but still they were not tall enough. “You’re very heavy, Bert” said Dave to the robot. “I’m berrt metal” replied Bert.
They tried with Bert, then Dave, then Jim, but still, they could not reach the door. The three friends sat down on one of the blocks of stone and wondered what they would do next. “Berrrt, want some fish?” asked the robot. “Have you got some?” asked Dave and Jim together.
“A tin or two of berrt tuna” said the robot, opening a flap in his chest and taking out a tin.
“Berrt tuna sounds good to me!” said Dave, “But robots don’t eat fish. Do they?” he asked.
“Berrrt, no”, said the robot, “But I like the oil. It’s good for robots, oil.”
“Brilliant!” said Dave, I’ll eat the fish and you can have the oil. It’s good for cats too, and for Jim, but you can have most of it. I don’t suppose you’ve got a dish?”
“I’ve got some berrrt plates”, replied the robot. He opened the flap again and brought out three plates and a tomato!
“Berrt, there”, he said passing the tomato to Jim. “Berrt tuna and tomato for you.”
“Thanks”, said Jim, but where did you get a tomato from?”
“Berrrt found it” said Bert. “And some chocolate for later”
“Is chocolate good for robots?” asked Jim.
“Berrrt, not really, “ replied Bert, “I just like it”
“My mum says that fish helps you think”, said Jim.
“ I think a lot about fish” said Dave, “So your mum is right there.”
“Berrrt, you need food for energy” said Bert.
“We know,” said Jim and Dave together.
The three friends ate their food and began to think about how they would get through the next door.
“I’ve got an idea,” said Dave, “Bert, are you strong?”
“Berrt, of course I am”, said the robot standing up very tall. “I can lift berrt anything.”
“What about these blocks?” asked Dave, “Are you strong enough to lift them?”
“Berrrt, yes, of course, why?”
“Because”, Jim joined in, “If you can put one on top of another, you could build stairs! Good thing that we had that fish,” he went on, “It really helps you think!”
Jim and Dave stood well back, to make sure that they would be safe while Bert went about picking up the big stone blocks and putting one on top of another. At first, he didn’t make stairs, just a pile of blocks, but Jim and Dave kept quiet, because they knew that Bert was trying his best and that’s all you can really ask of anyone. Bert took down the stone blocks and tried again. This time he made a fine triangle, but it still wasn’t stairs. Dave looked at Jim, mostly with his brown eye, but he didn’t say a word. Bert kept trying, one shape after another. A square, a nearly circle, a cross. Then Bert stopped and looked straight at his two friends. “I berrt can’t do it” he said, looking as sad as a robot can.
Dave jumped up and stood on one of the stone blocks so that he was face to face with Bert.
“Don’t give up”, he said, “It’s always hard to do something new, you just have to keep trying.”
“Dave is right”, said Jim, “Just keep trying, Bert, you can do it!”
Bert stopped being sad and gave his best robot smile. “Berrt, stand back” he said and lifted the biggest block he could find. Jim and Dave stood back to make sure that they would be safe. Bert lifted one block after another. One, two, three, four stone blocks. Five, six, seven. When he lifted the last stone block he looked back to see Jim and Dave smiling up at him. He had made stairs, right up to the next red door.
“Brilliant”, said Dave.
“Fantastic” said Jim, “You see, you can do anything if you just keep trying.”
Jim and Dave climbed up the stairs and the three friends went through the next red door together. They walked down a long hall and round a corner. It was quite dark in the place they found themselves in now. Quite dark and a bit smelly. The floor was a bit sticky too. “I don’t like it in here” said Dave, “I think we should look for the next door straight away.” They looked and looked but could not find the way out. Then Dave’s ears pricked up. “Listen”, he said, “I can hear something.”
“I can’t hear anything,” said Jim.
“Berrrt, shh”, said Bert, “What berrt, is it, Dave?”
“Something,” said Dave, “Something slimy.”
“Stick together” said a voice in the dark, “Stick together”.
“That’s a good idea”, said Dave, “We had better stick together, Jim”.
“I didn’t say that,” said Jim.
“Then who did?” asked Dave.
“Berrrt, he did,” said Bert, pointing into the dark. Jim and Dave looked hard to see what Bert was pointing at. In the dark they saw something wobble. As it got closer, they could see that it was green. At first it just looked like a big green jelly wobbling in the dark. But then two green eyes looked straight at them and a big green mouth opened, showing off a lot of green teeth.
“He doesn’t brush twice a day,” said Dave, “Run, everybody!”
“Stick together,” said the jelly in the dark. They did stick together, but soon they were in a corner and there was nowhere left to run to. The jelly thing stopped a little way in front of the three friends who were all quite scared. Dave tried to be brave. “It’s just a jelly” he said, “Nothing to be scared of.” But really he was scared. Inside the jelly he could see things. And one of them looked a bit like a cat. “I don’t want be part of a jelly, thanks” he said, “We must get away.” But there was nowhere left to go.
“Stick together,” said the jelly thing and it spat a large lump of green jelly straight at the three friends.
“We will get stuck if it hits us!” shouted Jim.
“Berrrt, save” said Bert as he caught the big blob of jelly and threw it to his left.
Again the jelly thing spat out a big blob of green.
“Berrrt, save,” said the robot and threw the jelly off to his left. Again, the jelly thing spat and again Bert made the save. Every time he spat, the jelly thing got smaller. “Look,” said Dave, “He can’t keep going, go on Bert!” On it went until hardly anything was left of the jelly thing in front of them, only it’s green eyes, mouth and teeth.
“You had better quit while you’re a head!” Dave shouted at the thing. But it just smiled. “Look”, it said, “Look to your left.” Dave, Jim and Bert all looked to the place where Bert had thrown the blobs of jelly. But, instead of lots of blobs, the jelly was in one big lump. Before they could move, the head of the jelly thing spat itself back on top of the lump. It was too quick for them and Bert was stuck.
“Berrrt, run!” he said to his friends. He was pointing into the dark. “There’s the berrrt door!” Dave and Jim looked to where Bert was pointing. He was right, there was the door.
“But we can’t leave you!” said Jim.
“Berrrt, you must get away,” said Bert, “I can beat him if I just keep trying. He’s just a berrrt jelly! Go on, if you get stuck inside him, I won’t be able to fight him, in case I hurt you.”
Dave looked at Jim, mostly with his blue eye. “You know he’s right, Jim,” he said. “I don’t want to leave him, but we must get away. Now is our only chance.”
Jim knew that what Dave said was true. They ran towards the door. When they got there, they both looked back and shouted “Don’t give up, Bert, just keep trying!”
“Berrrt, it’s just a jelly!” shouted Bert, “And friends always stick up for each other. Now, berrt, get going!”
Jim and Dave went through the door and it closed behind them and moved away. They tried to watch the door to see if Bert would follow, but soon it was gone. They both sat down in the long hall. Jim and Dave felt very sad that they had left their friend behind. After a while, Dave spoke up. “Save was his favourite word”, he said “And he did. He saved us.”
“I know,” said Jim, “Do you think that we will ever see him again?”
“I don’t know,” said Dave, “But I hope so. Friends often turn up when you are not expecting them. Come on, time for us to move on.”
“Yes,” said Jim, “I’m sure that we will meet Bert again, so we had best get going, or else we might miss him!”
“Quite right” said Dave and the two of them walked along the long hall and turned a corner. And stopped.
“Grrrooooossshhh” went a noise from a large hole that stretched right across the room.
“Oh, dear”, said Jim, “I’ve been here before.”
“Really?” asked Dave, “How do you know?”
“Because”, Jim replied, “I’ve heard that noise before.”
“Something nice?” asked Dave, hoping that it would be something nice.
Jim shook his head, “No, Dave, not something nice.”
“Well, it wouldn’t be would it!” said Dave.
“Hello there!” shouted a voice from the other end of the room, “Hello!”
“Hello” shouted back Jim and Dave. “Who are you?”
They could just see a man in a bright yellow suit running towards them.
“It’s Uncle James!” said Jim, “Hello Uncle James!”
“Hello Jim, hello Dave!” said Uncle James when he reached them, thank goodness you’re here.”
“Hello, James”, said Dave, “What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for Jim,” said Uncle James, “How are you Dave, still eating plenty of fish?”
“Yes, thanks, James, when I can,” said Dave.
“Good for you,” said Uncle James, “Now tell me, how did you get here.”
Jim and Dave told Uncle James all about how they had got there. “Why are you waiting for Jim?” asked Dave when they had finished.
“Well,” said Uncle James, “I hope that Jim has got the key.”
“What key?” asked Jim.
“The key to the last door,” said Uncle James, “It was stuck to a tin of tuna, but I dropped it somewhere, I thought that I had dropped it here. I hope you found it, Jim”
“I did”, said Jim, and he looked through his pockets until he found it.
“Doesn’t look like much of a key,” said Dave.
“No, it doesn’t look like much, but it does open the door.”
“Which door, where?” Jim asked.
“Over there,” said Uncle James, pointing across the hole at the far side.
“Brilliant” said Dave, “and how do we get across?”
“I know,” said Jim, “There’s a hook in the roof, I left a rope of thread hanging from it when I swung across. That’s when I found the tin of tuna.” He looked up, but the hook and the thread were not there.
“Sorry,” said Uncle James, “But I think that the Grooosh must have pulled it down. We’re stuck.”
“What’s the Grooosh?” asked Dave.
“It lives in that hole”, said Jim.
“That’s right,” said Uncle Jim, “Down in that hole.”
“But what is it?” asked Dave again.
“It is” Uncle Jim told him, “A great thing fish that lives in that hole and eats whatever or whoever falls in or tries to get across.”
“It’s horrible,” said Jim, “I’ve seen it.”
“A fish is it?” asked Dave.
“Yes,” Jim replied, “But it’s a great thing, it was going to eat me.”
“A fish is a fish,” Dave told Jim and Uncle James, “Let’s have a look.”
Uncle James didn’t want to look, but Dave went right to the edge of the hole and looked down.
“Groooosh” went the Grooosh and Dave took a step back as the great thing fish went up and past him and fell back down with a thud.
“There’s no water down there,” said Dave as he walked back to Jim and Uncle James.
“No,” said Uncle James, the Grooosh is a fish out of water.”
“I see”, said Dave as he walked back to the edge of the hole. He looked at Jim and Uncle James, and then he looked at the door on the far side of the hole. “Are you sure that’s the last door?” he asked.
“Very sure,” said Uncle James.
“And Jim can get back through there?”
“Yes,” said Uncle James, “We both can”
“You know what?” asked Dave.
“What?” Jim asked him back.
“I’m very hungry!” said Dave and with that he jumped right into the hole.
“No!” shouted Jim after him, but it was too late. As soon as Dave was in the hole, it started to close. The floor that Jim and Uncle James were standing on slid across the top of it and soon they were standing in front of the last red door.
“Don’t worry”, said Uncle James, “Cats are very good at looking after themselves. Come on Jim.”
Jim took the key from his pocket and put it into the lock of the last red door.
They walked through the door and were back in the house. Jim could hear his mum singing in the kitchen. He was happy to be back, but he was sad that he had left Dave and Bert behind. Still, he ran to the kitchen and gave his mum and dad a big hug. Uncle James followed him in and said “Hello, all, everything ok?”
Jim’s dad spoke up. “James, I thought you had gone on a trip?” he asked.
“Yes, “ said Uncle James, “But I forgot my key. It’s ok, Jim found it for me, I will be off now.”
“Just a minute,” said Jim’s mum, “do you know anything about this cat?”
Jim and Uncle James looked down at Jim’s mum’s feet.
“It’s Dave!” they both shouted together.
“Dave is it?” asked his mum, “Well, you could have told us that you had a cat, James. He looks like he’s been in a fight.” Dave did look as if he had been in a fight.
“Looks like he won, though,” said Jim. Dave just smiled; he didn’t want Jim’s mum and dad to know that he could talk. If they knew what had happened, they might not let him play with Jim again.
“And,” said Jim’s mum, looking at him very hard, “How many times have I told you not to leave your toys lying around?”
“Lots of times,” said Jim, “That’s why I don’t.”
“Then where,” asked his mum, “Did this come from?” She held up a small toy size robot.
“It’s Bert,” said Jim, “But he was much bigger before!”
“I don’t know about that,” said his mum, “But I nearly tripped over him in the hallway, by the stairs.”
“He’s good at stairs,” said Jim.
“Well, I don’t know about that,” said his mum, “But I do know that he needs a good clean. He’s all covered in…”
“Jelly!” said Jim.
“Yes,” said his mum, “I don’t think that Jelly is good for robots. And where did you get that suit, Jim?” She said, waving Bert around as she did.
“Berrrt” said a small robot voice, “Save me.”
“Oh, the suit is a present from me”, said Uncle James. It wasn’t really true, but he didn’t think that Jim’s mum would believe that it had been made by a spider called Spinning Bob.
“I must be going,” Uncle James said, “Come on, you can all wave me off”. Jim, his mum and dad and Dave went to the front door with Uncle James.
“Berrrt” said a small robot voice from inside Jim’s jacket.
Uncle James opened the front door to go. “Oh, it’s very dusty,” he said, And used his sleeve to wipe over the letters. “That’s’ better”, he said, “Jim’s Castle, that’s what it says,” and he smiled at Jim.
“Goodbye, everybody,” he said as he made to go. “Goodbye” they all said back.
“Wait a minute,” said Jim. “Uncle James, what happens if you go through the blue door?”
“I don’t know, Jim, said Uncle James, I really don’t know. If you can find the key, you can find out for yourself!”
With that, he got into his car and drove away.
“Come on everybody,” said Jim’s mum, who was in charge, “Uncle James will be back soon.”