Authors: Colin Thompson
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The Floods 7: Top Gear
ePub ISBN 9781864715675
Kindle ISBN 9781864717044
This work is fictitious. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. You should be so lucky.
A Random House book
Published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd
Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060
First published by Random House Australia in 2008
Copyright Â© Colin Thompson 2008
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian Copyright Act 1968), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia.
Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at
National Library of Australia
Thompson, Colin (Colin Edward).
For primary school age.
ISBN 978 1 74166 254 2 (pbk.).
1. Title. (Series: Thompson, Colin (Colin Edward). Floods; 7).
Illustration by Colin Thompson
who, at the age of two, knows the meaning of
the word ONOMATOPOEIA.
Well, actually he doesn't. He knows the word, but he
hasn't the faintest idea what it means, which is probably
why he's never actually used it in a sentence.
Whereas his baby brother
at six months old, knows exactly what an
ONOMATOPOEIA is. It is something you
put in your mouth and eat, but then so is
Lots and lots of brilliant, fascinating, exciting, slightly naughty, environmentally friendly, hybrid, chocolate-covered, very fast, hydroponic, biodegrading stuff has happened, ending up with the VERY EVIL Hearse Whisperer â the favourite spy of Mordonna Flood's father, the King of Transylvania Waters â almost, but not quite, catching the ENTIRE Flood family.
While they were away on holiday at the smart seaside town of Port Folio with their human friends the Hulberts, the Hearse Whisperer totally
destroyed their home back in Acacia Avenue. So now the Floods are on the run againâ¦
AND there is now a new addition to the Floods family. No, Mordonna has not had another baby. Valla married the stunningly beautiful Mildred Flambard, who was burnt at the stake as a witch in 1803.
This all means that the following story will be brilliant, fascinating, and full of extremely naughty and not at all environmentally friendly swear words that you will never have heard before.
When the Floods had decided to go on the run, none of them could agree where to go so the Hearse Whisperer wouldn't find them. They had rented a minibus and driven away from Port Folio without the slightest idea where they were going.
To cover their tracks they decided to dump the minibus and get another vehicle.
âThat's what they do in the movies,' said Betty. âThen they set fire to the old vehicle to get rid of their fingerprints and any forensic evidence.'
âCan I do the fire?' said Merlinmary.
âWe're witches and wizards, remember,' said Mordonna. âWe don't have fingerprints.'
âYeah, but Mum,' said Merlinmary, who loved burning things, âwhat about the forensic stuff like hairs and bits of dead skin?'
âWe can cast a spell that will make all the evidence look like the bus had been driven by a Belgian girls' hockey team,' said Mordonna.
âWe are not having a fire,' Mordonna insisted.
So they drove into a dark forest where Mordonna turned the minibus into a pumpkin. Obviously their arch-enemy, the Hearse Whisperer, had not fitted a tracking device to it, or she would now be trying to turn them into small blocks of charcoal. But it was agreed you could never be too careful.
âA pumpkin's a bit risky, isn't it?' said Betty. âI mean, supposing Cinderella comes along and her fairy godmother tries to turn it into a silver coach? Won't it turn back into a minibus?'
âI think that's a risk we could live with,' said Mordonna with a smile, but to make Betty feel happier she turned the pumpkin into a Belgian telephone directory.
âBut supposing someone from Belgium is on holiday here and hiking through the woods, which I believe Belgian people love to do, and they want to phone home but can't remember the number?' Betty protested.
âOK, OK, I'll make it a Tristan da Cunha telephone directory.'
âAll right, a packet of liquorice dog biscuits and Satanella can â'
âHey, come on,' said Satanella. âDo I look stupid? Only stupid creatures eat liquorice.'
âOh, for goodness sake,' said Mordonna. âYou children are so picky. Who would have thought it would be so difficult to get rid of a minibus?'
In the end she turned it into something smelly, brown and disgusting, which most people who
have any taste would flush down the lavatory.
âThere, no one will go near that,' she said.
âBut in Australia they spread that on bread,' Betty began. Mordonna gave her a don't-you-daresay-another-word look before she could say another word.
Then they sent Valla and Mildred out to get a new van. This was not a good idea because they came back with a hearse.
âSweetheart,' said Mordonna, âit's a gorgeous hearse, exactly the sort of vehicle that our family should have, but there's a couple of reasons why you have to take it back.'
âOh?' said Valla, who had gone through a lot of trouble to get the hearse.
âFirstly, it's exactly the sort of vehicle the Hearse Whisperer would expect us to be driving.
In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if she hadn't bugged every single hearse in the country, including this one, so you'd better get rid of it as quickly as you can.'
âAnd the other reason?' said Valla, who was now sulking.
âI am not spending day after day with all my kids bickering over whose turn it is to lie on the coffin table.'
âOK, I'll take it back.'
âThere's a third thing,' said Mordonna as Valla climbed into the driving seat.
âWho's in the coffin in the back?'
Finally, Nerlin went off and came back with a VW campervan with lots of flowers painted all over it.
âI thought we could disguise ourselves as hippies,' he said. âAfter all, some of us kind of look a bit hippyish already.'
âSpeak for yourself, Daddy,' said Betty. âI don't.'
This was perfectly true. Betty looked like something out of
The Sound of Music
â sweet and blonde and pretty â but the rest of the family did look like hippies, or rather hippies crossed with goths crossed with emos. Except Valla and Mildred, who just looked like hippies who had been dead for a long time and then turned into zombies.
âWhat, you mean we have to stop washing and combing our hair?' said one of the twins.
âYes,' said Nerlin.
âCool,' said Merlinmary. âI'll have dreadlocks by tomorrow.'
âI wouldn't do that if I were you,' said Winchflat. âI mean, if your hair gets really matted up you might end up getting a short circuit and giving yourself a nasty electric shock.'
âI suppose we should dress like hippies too,' said Mordonna. âAll sort of â¦ floaty and cheesecloth.'
âCheesecloth? I want one that's had that really stinky blue cheese wrapped in it,' said Morbid.
âI don't think it's actually had cheese wrapped up in it,' said Mordonna. âI think it just looks like the same stuff they use.'
âWell, could we have some cheese on ours?' said Morbid.
âIf you're having cheese, I'd like some beef fat rubbed into my fur,' said Satanella.
By the time they'd all finished dressing up they smelled like a delicatessen.
Then of course there were the beads and the chains and the bells, which were mostly OK except
Valla was wearing a genuine antique bell that had been used to summon dead bodies during the Great Plague. He insisted on ringing it every time they passed a graveyard, which then meant some of the older skeletons got very distressed and poked their arms up through the grass.
âWhat else do we have to do?' asked Betty.
âWell, apparently we have to call each other “man” and say “like” a lot,' said Nerlin.
âMan? But I'm a woman,' said Mordonna.
âYes, I know,' said Nerlin. âHippies are weird. Or should I say, like, hippies are, like, weird, man.'
âFar out, man,' said Winchflat. He had a friend at Quicklime College, Rivermoon Cuspidor, who was one of the very few hippy wizards, so he already knew some of the lingo.
âWhat is?' said Nerlin.
âWhat is what?'
âWhat is far out?'
âI don't know,' said Winchflat. âIt's just something you say â¦ man.'
As the sun set, they said their final goodbyes to the Hulberts and drove away from Port Folio into an uncertain future. They knew where they couldn't be safe: everywhere. And they knew where they could be safe: nowhere.
Although Nerlin had been the one who had driven the first minibus, none of the Floods could actually drive. It had been decided that Nerlin would be the safest because his brain worked slower than anyone else's â almost as slow as some very clever humans â so he would be less likely to go too fast. Winchflat had made a Do-Everything-Except-The-Steering-Wheel-Machine, which he had taken out of the minibus and fitted into the VW so all Nerlin had to do was look in the direction they wanted to go. This caused a few problems at first until Nerlin learnt to stop himself looking at all the sheep and trees as they passed them.
Everyone drew straws to see who would sit in the front passenger seat. The one with the shortest straw sat next to Nerlin and kept poking him in the arm to make him concentrate, while everyone else
sat in the back of the van either facing backwards or with their eyes shut.
âWhere are we going?' asked Betty.
Nerlin pulled over onto the side of the road and scratched his head.
âGood point,' he said. âI hadn't actually thought about that. Anyone have any ideas?'
âWell, where is the most obvious place the Hearse Whisperer will be expecting us to go?' said Mordonna.
âFar, far away,' said Nerlin.
âExactly,' Mordonna answered. âSo we should go as far away from far, far away as possible.'
âWhich is where?'
âRight,' said Nerlin, not convinced. âBut we've only driven five hundred metres.'
âWell, it'll save on petrol,' said Betty.
âBut isn't that exactly what the Hearse Whisperer will be expecting us to do?' said Valla. âI mean, she's incredibly clever. She's bound to work out that here is as far away from where we probably think she probably thinks we would go.'
âHalf-past three,' said Merlinmary, who had completely lost track of the conversation.
âTrue,' said Mordonna. âIn that case we should go somewhere that is almost â but not exactly, in case she works that out too â halfway between here and far, far away.'
âThat's probably the best idea,' said Winchflat. âAnd we do have one advantage.'
âWhat's that then?'
âThe Hearse Whisperer doesn't know where here is.'
âWell, actually,' said Valla, âshe knows where
here is, but not where ours is.'
âSo that would mean that her far, far away is a different place from our far, far away,' Mildred Flambard-Flood added. âSo in actual fact we would be quite safe going to far, far away.'
âYou're absolutely right,' said Mordonna. âClever girl. I knew you were the perfect choice for Valla to marry.'
This was the first time Mildred had made a contribution to family discussions and both she and Valla glowed with pride at Mordonna's praise, in a way that only semi-dead corpses with paper-thin skin can glow, which is very bright red as though they had swallowed a traffic light.
âBut no safer than staying here,' said Betty.
âOr going to halfway between here and the far, far away place,' said Satanella.
âThere is one place this Hearse Whisperer creature would never imagine we would go,'
Mildred added. âTransylvania Waters. And anyway, from what you all say, it sounds like paradise and I would love to go there.'
âBut we'd have to be mad to go there â¦' Nerlin began.
âThat's why she'd never imagine we would.'
âYou are absolutely right, Mildred,' beamed Mordonna. âAnd you know, if the truth be told, I've been getting the odd homesick twinge recently.'
âSo have I,' said Valla, âand I've never even been there.'
âUs too,' said the twins.
It turned out they all missed Transylvania Waters, even the old bird Parsnip.
âSnip-Snip black twigs miss,' he said, which really summed up everyone's feelings.
Anyone born in Transylvania Waters will understand this yearning for home. It is a country so unlike any other, a country so damp and weird that its power is stored in every cell of every Transylvanian's body. No matter how many
generations have passed since their ancestors left the country, this power never dies.
Everyone felt homesick except the Queen. All through this discussion, Queen Scratchrot had sat folded up in her Dead-Granny-Backpack under one of the seats. There had been no time to collect her goat's wool blanket from the hotel laundry and to cushion her fragile bones against the bumps in the road, so Winchflat had emptied six cartons of pot noodles into the backpack. The van was filled with the smell of Instant Chicken Chow Mein mixed with fifteen food additives and the unmistakeable scent of a body that had been buried and dug up again quite a lot of times.