Read Me A Story...

Good Morning!

Huh! Stupid alarm clock! Your dreams of sailing down a river of jam on a giant panda are interrupted - as usual - by the braying voice of "Mickey Mickson and his Funky Breakfast Shindig" on Radio 6. As you repeatedly try and fail to smack the top of your clock radio you glance at the red numbers below. It's 7:30. Since you don't have to be out of the house until 8:00, you decide to go back to sleep. With one final swipe you happen to land your fist on the snooze button, roll over and fall asleep again instantly.

You wake up again at noon.

Running for the bus, you pass a shop you'd never noticed before. The sign - which looks surprisingly weathered - reads "Fiona's Fruite Ande Vege" and a withered old lady sits inside knitting.

More than a little curious (not to mention pretty sure you've fired by now anyway) you go inside. The lady smiles sweetly and leaves you to browse her stock.

After finding no sweets, computer games or motorbikes in the shop you decide to leave... but your conscience gets the better of you and, rather than leaving empty handed, you buy the cheapest thing you can find. A tomato, for your lunch... or failing that, to throw at your boss when he gives you the bad news.

As you walk down the street you playfully throw the tomato from hand to hand, for the next half-mile or so at least. It's only when startled by a cat running out in front of you that you accidentally throw the tomato up into the air and fall backwards onto your rear, to the badly-hidden chuckles of the few people to whom you were visible.

The tomato, however, rather than slamming onto the ground and going "squesh" - that's "squesh" - instead drifts slowly towards the pavement and hovers, about a foot from the dirt, as if to make sure that you're alright. As you change from glancing to staring at the floating fruit it suddenly falls the final few inches onto the ground and lies there motionless. Not quite sure whether you just saw what you think you saw, you contemplate your next move.

You decide to take the tomato back to the shop.

Back To The Shop We Go

You retrace your steps, back to the site of the shop. However, when you get to the street where "Fiona's Fruite Ande Vege" was a matter of minutes ago, you're somewhat shocked to discover instead an abandoned hatters, all cobweb-covered and musty.

Perplexed, you sink to the ground and look to the sky for an answer. However, unless the answer you were after was "Drink Rupert's Root Bitter", the sky - and the light aircraft towing a banner across it - aren't terrible forthcoming.

You get to your feet and once more head towards work, now later than ever. A step and a half along your journey you spot the actual location of the shop at which you bought the tomato, realise your geographical mistake, kick yourself (which you instantly regret) and limp over to the door.

The old lady is still inside and seems to have forgotten quite who you are. You introduce yourself and explain your predicament.

"Ah, yes," she coos, "we've had a few complaints about some of our produce being haunted. You need a fruit exorcist."

"A fruit exorcist?" you reply. It's not a job you've ever heard of. You tell her as much, and she smiles innocently.

"I'm a fruit exorcist," she says, "in my spare time. I charge 500 an hour. I don't take Switch or Delta."

You decide to say "Great!" and pull your chequebook out.

Trevor Gets Hammered...

You hastily scribble out a cheque to the tune of 500 beans and flutter it irritably under her nose. "Great!", you cry with more than a hint of vitriolic sarcasm. "That's just super! Here! Here take it you dusty old hag!".

Of course this was mainly subdefuge. The balance in that particular account has been resting at a rather unimpressive 4.23 since early in 1984 when you drew out virtually all of your life-savings to purchase a small blue and white moped replete with a bright orange crash-helmet. An ill fated purchase given that after two whole weeks of trying to get it to go, the furthest distance you had ever managed to cover on it was halfway down the road and into a hedgerow. You try and blot out a brief memory of yourself being conveyed screaming down the street sideways-on with the side of your head gouging a trench through the pavement...

There is a barely audible 'swish' as the little old lady liberates the cheque from your fingertips and secretes it away somewhere about her person with a grunt. "That'll do the trick!", she yells.

She scrabbles under the counter for a few minutes and surfaces holding two white robes and a big hammer. She tosses you one of the robes and gestures for you to put it on.

When you are both dressed appropriately she strikes a dramatic pose and waggles her fingers at you, palm up. You close your eyes and try to feel the supernatural energy flow from her. The blow to the side of the head catches you off guard and you fall over. "Hand me the tomato, you tit", she suggests in a waspish voice.

You give her the haunted vegetable and she sets it carefully upon the floor before pulling out a green crayon and drawing weird otherworldly symbols around it. Your eyes are fixed upon her as she mumbles incantations and passes her hands over the thing again and again. It takes you several minutes to realize that she's actually reciting the lyrics from James Browns'Pappa got a Brand New Bag'.

With a shrug you join in...

"He ain't too hip now", you chant in unison.
"but I can dig that new breed babe"
"He ain't no drag"
"Pappa got a brand new..."

And suddenly the little tomato springs to life and levitates about a foot from the ground, spinning in distress. Without a word of warning, the old woman smacks it repeatedly with the hammer until there's nothing left but a small, sad heap of red mush.

"We did it!", you yell with relief. "We squished the evil thing like a... well... like a tomato!" You pull your robe up over your head and strut round in little circles with your chest puffed out. When you finish your victorious hooting and posturing and look back at the old woman you sense something is very wrong. Very wrong indeed.

All throughout your little dance she had been relentlessly stomping around the shop and blattering everything in sight. It is a hideous site to behold! She's covered from head to foot in massacred foodstuffs and her tiny beady eyes are beading right in your direction. You can't remember ever having seen a bead just quite as beady as this one.

"Cucumber!", she screeches and before you know what's going on, she is upon you and giving it 'plenty' with the hammer.

"Ow!", you manage to say. "Ow!", and "Stoppit!" but her mind has snapped completely. In her eyes you are nothing more than just another haunted, talking vegetable.

As you lose consciousness under the pummeling, the last thing you ever see is the sweet little old lady staggering out of the shop to continue her vigilante reign of terror upon the streets of London. And somewhere deep inside you just know that she won't stop until she's squished everything!

And everyone...


THE END

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