#11 Barging into Battle
Satnav Steven

Ahoy there, story-seekers! It’s me again, Satnav Steven, reporting from the observation deck of the Prattleship-class Narrative Ark, the Ever After.

What would you know?!? Just after I was put on deck-mopping duty as punishment for accidentally turning the ship and all our crew into cartoons, we’ve had another close shave, and… THIS TIME IT WASN’T MY FAULT!!

Haha! That’ll show Captain Jones that it’s not only me who occasionally muddles up our destinations.

I’ll explain…

As you may or may not know, the Ever After is fast approaching the end of her BRILLIANT story-seeking voyage and In-The-Know-Joe felt certain we needed to land the ship and do some last minute maintenance before setting off on the long journey home across the Story Universe.

Everyone agreed we could do with a bit of a break and a spot of lunch, so Captain Jones guided the vessel down on a seemingly never-ending grassland we’d been crossing for ages at the edge of vast city.

In no time, everyone was taking it easy and tinkering about in the sunshine with a few jobs that needed seeing to. Cook Conomos lit a fire to barbecue some food, In-The-Know-Joe repaired one of the narrative thrusts, Lookout Kate went to explore a stream a little way off, and the Captain sat down for a snooze in her favourite deckchair. Sounds perfect, right?

WRONG!!

Just when things looked like they couldn’t be calmer, distant horns suddenly sounded and clouds of arrows filled the sky, slamming into the side of the Ever After.

‘We’re under attack!’ Captain Jones shouted, practically flying out of her chair.   ‘All crew, take cover!’

The Captain grabbed me by the arm and yanked me up the gangplank to the observation deck.

‘Where are we?’ she whispered. ‘Where have I landed us?’

I jumped to the navigational controls, found our coordinates and gasped. In her dozy state, Captain Jones hand set the ship down in the Fields of Epic Battle, and in case you hadn’t already guessed… THAT’S NOT A SAFE PLACE TO BE!

Lookout Kate, Cook Conomos and In-The-Know-Joe were soon onboard and huddled on the observation deck with us as another storm of arrows hit the side of the ship. We all stared through the round window, gawping with wide eyes as two ferocious armies clashed in front of us. One army was led by a lion, and the other was commanded by a tall and terribly pale woman dressed in white and silver. She kept pointing her wand at rival soldiers and turning them into… were my eyes playing tricks on me?? SHE WAS TURNING THEM TO STONE!

‘We have to get out of here,’ Captain Jones said, and fired up the engines. It wasn’t a moment too soon. The White Witch spotted the Ever After in all the commotion and started casting her spells at us.

“ZAP!” One of the yarn spinners turned to stone.

“ZING!’ Then another… and another.

The ship lurched off the ground, leaving the Fields of Epic Battle out of sight beneath us for a moment. Captain Jones steered the Ever After straight up towards the darkening sky. We whirled higher and higher before setting our course for a castle-like building near the edge of the great city.

I could almost have cried with relief. It looked like we may just be out of trouble… well… it did until strange shapes appeared, swirling down from above the castle.

‘What are they?’ Cook Conomos asked. We all pressed our noses to the glass. As the shapes got nearer we saw they had arms, and were shrouded in long, floating rags.

‘DEMENTORS!’ Lookout Kate screamed. ‘WE HAVE TO ESCAPE!’

With that, Captain Jones activated the ship’s mightiest narrative thrust and rocketed straight past the skeletal monsters. One of those horrible things bounced right off the front window and I got a glimpse of a grotesque, sucking mouth beneath its hood. GROSS!

We needed an escape route from this place, and we needed one fast. I grabbed the nearest map from my navigator’s desk and looked for somewhere safe.

‘A-HA!’ I shouted when I spotted it. The city at the edge of the Fields of Epic Battle was Superhero City. We’d definitely be able to find help there.

‘That way,’ I yelled. ‘We’ll be safe in there!’

Captain Jones cranked up the power so high, the lever snapped off, and we hurtled towards Superhero City like a comet.

Whizzing below us, I spotted orcs firing their catapults at battalions of elves and dwarves, Titans fleeing from a young Greek demigod, and a one-eared rabbit prince fighting the metal-clad Gorm.

Then WHOOOOOOOOSH!

The Ever After was suddenly amongst tall skyscrapers and gigantic palaces. I have to admit, it didn’t seem a whole lot better than the battles we’d just left behind. Everywhere we looked there were superheroes fighting super-villains across the rooftops, through the air, and racing along the streets in their hero-mobiles.

But that wasn’t all.

‘Oh no!’ Captain Jones gasped. She gripped the wheel until her knuckles turned white. ‘The Narrative Thrust! It’s gone wild! It won’t stop!!’

Everybody screamed. The Ever After was heading straight for The Daily Bugle newspaper building. We were doomed to crash and we’d probably all be blown to pieces… CRASH, BANG, KA-BOOM… the end.

Haha! You know I wouldn’t finish the story like that. Don’t forget where we were when the ship lost control.

Before we even had time to wet our pants with fear, Spiderman swung into view. He darted this way and that between the street signs and skyscrapers, firing ropes of web in all directions until a giant net formed in front of The Daily Bugle.

Needless to say I’m still alive, so it won’t surprise you to hear that clever Peter Parker saved us all, and just in the nick of time.

Phew… we were all so shocked from everything that had happened, we just let the Ever After dangle there for a good hour while we caught our breaths and ate a snack. Captain Jones even took that nap she missed out on.

I’ll be curious to see if she puts herself on deck-mopping duty, HAHA!

Who knows where we’ll end up next? I hope it’s someplace quiet…

Ever After.

#10 Cartoon Chaos
Satnav Steven

Ahoy there, story-seekers! It’s me, Satnav Steven, reporting from the observation deck of the Prattleship-class Narrative Ark, the Ever After.

Ooooooh, it’s been a strange day. Strange, even for us, and that’s saying something when you live on a flying vessel that sails the length and breadth of the Story Universe. You won’t believe me when I tell you what’s been going on… I’m certain you won’t… but I swear every word of what I’m about to say is true.

We’d spent a peaceful day wandering the Spoken Isle while Cook Conomos collected ingredients for a whopping great meal to celebrate our escape from the Lands of HORROR! Everything was calm and happy.

Once all the ingredients Cook needed had been found, we all headed back to the Ever After and I flew her gently over the Mountains of Wonder and out across the Bay of Funny. It was supposed to be a nice, quiet evening. I steered the ship starboard and set the narrative thrust to drift across the Plains of Nonsense.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it? I thought so, so I put my feet up and relaxed. I’ve really been getting the hang of this navigation malarkey recently and I was enjoying having the observation deck all to myself. Just me… my thoughts… AND A GIANT, SWIRLING, MULTI-COLOURED CLOUD RUSHING STRAIGHT TOWARDS US.

Before I could steer the Ever After to safety, the flashing cloud erupted from somewhere over the Cliffs of Cartoon and we flew straight into it. For a moment everything went dark, and the air was filled with the sound of cymbals, Swanee whistles, laughing, splats and crashes and whoopee cushions.

I thought I’d gone stark, raving bonkers until the darkness faded and the world twinkled back into view… but it wasn’t the same world I’d been looking at only seconds earlier. Everything on the observation deck was now brightly coloured and warped at strange angles. I glanced at my compass, and my compass glanced back at me with large, animated eyes. It winked, then suddenly sprouted arms and legs, and ran off in the direction of the Never Ending Store.

‘What’s going on?!?’ Captain Jones screamed as she came rushing onto the deck. I turned to face her and… and…

Captain Jones gawped at me. I gawped at Captain Jones. WE WERE CARTOONS!

The flashing, swirling cloud must have been a portal between the living and the animated worlds.

‘What have you done, Satnav?’ The Captain asked. She looked hilarious. Her hat now had two eyes on the front of it, and her uniform was wonky and massively over-sized. ‘I said, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?!’ Smoke billowed from her nostrils and her eyes turned red. Our cartoon captain was a lot scarier than the real Captain Jones, so I wasn’t going to keep her waiting. I opened my mouth to explain, but was quickly silenced as the ship’s wheel leaped down to the floor and started dancing a jig with all the other pieces of navigational equipment.

That was it! The Ever After spun out of control and twisted into a nosedive.

‘AAAAAGH! STOP THAT WHEEL!’ Captain Jones yelled as she flew past me. It felt like we were inside a tumble-dryer.

SPLAT!! ZING!! BLAMMO!!

Captain Jones made a swipe for the wheel as it clattered up the wall, but missed. It howled with high-pitched laughter and continued to dance about as the ship turned upside-down and rocketed across the Cliffs of Cartoon.

ZING!! BLUH!! WHOOMFF!!

I landed against the huge front window with a heavy BUMP, but bizarrely it didn’t hurt at all. I’d forgotten you can’t feel pain if you’re a cartoon. Brilliant!

With my face smooshed against the glass, I looked out and gasped with a mixture of wonder and terror at the view. Outside, I could see animated characters in their hundreds. They were whizzing about through the air, clambering up and down the smiling rock-face, and splashing through the twisty waves.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. As we spiraled along, I spotted a flying house attached to thousands of balloons. We narrowly missed it, swerving as the ship’s wheel bounced across the ceiling.

Below, a flying machine with a bald super-villain and his yellow minions riding in the cockpit fired its laser guns at us, and a pelican with two clown fish in its beak swooshed out of our path with a load SKWARK!

‘WE’RE GOING TO CRASH!’ Captain Jones bellowed as she cart-wheeled this way and that… but we didn’t. Somehow, our animated ship’s wheel seemed to know where it was taking us with its dancing.

I was starting to enjoy myself as we zipped close to the water and circled a mermaid singing on a rock, brushing her hair with a dinglehopper.

Whoosh! A palace of ice suddenly crystallized on the cliffs in front of us as a white-haired princess in a blue dress shot snowflakes from her fingertips.

The Ever After zoomed up and over the palace, then swooped down just in time to avoid a young Maui girl standing on the hand of a vast, green goddess.

‘WHEN IS THIS GOING TO END?’ The Captain huffed as she landed next to me against the window.

BLOP!! POW!! CRUNCH!!

Just by luck, I knew the answer. I’d been looking at maps of the Story Universe only yesterday and I knew the ocean between the Land of Funny and the Isles of Adventure marked the borders of the Cartoon World.

The ship’s wheel spun us out to sea and…

CRASH! BOOM! WHIZZ! POP! PFFFFFTTTTT! WAH-WAH-WAH!!

Everything on the observation deck bent and warped again, then returned to its usual “real world” appearance. The Ever After steadied itself and came to a slow cruise above the water, while Captain Jones and I tumbled to the floor with a painful WALLOP.

I suppose you can guess the rest. I’ve been put on deck-mopping duty for the rest of the evening by the Captain. She wasn’t too happy with me for flying us into that swirling, multi-coloured cloud, but between you and me, I’m glad I did.

Strangely, I’m in the mood to watch cartoons once I finally get back to my cabin tonight. Haha!

Happy story-seeking, adventurers!!!

Ever After…

 

 

#5 Swash Bungling
Satnav Steven

Ahoy there, story-seekers! It’s Satnav Steven here, ship’s navigator onboard the Prattleship-Class Narrative Ark, The Ever After.

UGH… what a crazy mission it’s been so far. We’d spent the past few hours… or days… or weeks… drifting through the deepest depths of outer space. It’s hard to tell how long it had been with all this silence and blackness, but one thing was certain … the crew were all getting really, really, really, REALLY BORED!!

We ventured out here to seek Great A’tuin the lunar turtle that carries the Discworld on its back with the help of four giant elephants. It was the most INCREDIBLE thing I’ve ever seen. I nearly cried with excitement!

Sadly, before long Great A’tuin swam off though the crushing gulf of space, leaving us adrift and with very little hope of figuring out where we were.

Captain Jones turned to me for answers of course, but I didn’t have the slightest clue how to get back to wonderful world of the Story Universe. I accidentally dropped my compass in Cook Conomos’s soup yesterday lunchtime, and now it only pointed north-west no matter which direction I faced.

I was contemplating being honest and admitting to my fellow crew members that I’ve got the worst sense of direction this side of the Milky Way, when a huge stroke of luck rocketed past.

Suddenly, from out of the darkness, Lookout Kate spotted a glowing spaceship. It streaked alongside us with a hoard of brightly coloured aliens peering through its windows. In-The-Know Joe radioed across to them, but couldn’t make any sense of their strange language except that they LOVED underpants.

The creatures certainly looked like they knew where they were going, so I made a snap decision. I followed their course past undiscovered planets and galaxies of stars until… DRUM ROLL PLEASE… the massive and terrifically beautiful Story Universe was looming before us again. Phew!

The spaceship was heading for a cluster of islands at the eastern edge of the Appendy Seas. After a long struggle with squillions of the ship’s maps, I realised they were the Islands of Action. BRILLIANT! I didn’t need any further self-encouragement, so I programmed The Ever After to follow the aliens to this exciting new destination. After all, I’d always wanted to visit the Canyon of Adventure for as long as I can remember.

Before we knew it, The Ever After was cruising past the most incredible sights. I joined my crew members on the observation deck to enjoy the view… and what a view it was.

Captain Jones guided us past the haunted crags of Marooners’ Rock, where Captain Hook and the pirates of The Jolly Roger left their victims to be swallowed by the sea.

On the cliffs above the mouth of the great Canyon of Adventure, Lookout Kate pointed out the wreckage of a jet-plane with a gang of feral schoolboys dancing nearby it, and great prehistoric beasts lumbering about the edges of a vast, deep jungle. We were entering a lost world, that’s for sure.

‘Let’s take a closer look,’ Captain Jones said, and steered the ship carefully into the canyon. There were steep cliffs on either side of us and the narrow strip of sea beneath us looked deep and dangerous. ‘Keep a sharp eye.’

For a moment everything seemed quiet, until… COMPLETE CHAOS BROKE OUT!! King Louis and his army of monkeys appeared in the trees that overhung the gorge and started pelting us with rotten fruit.

A Viking boy, riding a toothless dragon shot past us. He was being chased by a swarm of terrifying, fire-breathing monsters. Indiana Jones narrowly missed the prose nest as he swung across the canyon on a vine to escape the path of an enormous stone ball that rolled down the rock-face, and a great white whale breached from the murky depths and sent a wave crashing across our hull. It was Moby Dick, and a very clear sign that it was time to get out of here.

‘Activate the narrative thrust!’ Captain Jones shouted, as King Kong smashed through a giant gate made from whole tree trunks and tried to grab us, swatting his mighty arms this way and that.

WHOOOOOOOOOSH!

We were off…

We whizzed through gullies and under toppled columns of stone. We swooped to avoid shrieking cannonballs from a castle of knights that towered above us, and dodged poison darts being fired by a tribe of cannibals in a ruined temple on the rocks below us.

Finally, just when it looked like we were done for, The Ever After shot out of the other end of the Canyon of Adventure and made a steady climb into the cool evening air. Everything felt suddenly quiet and peaceful.

Before us we could see the quadruple, sprawling masses of the cities of Thriller, Crime, War, and Spies.

‘What next, Captain Jones?’ asked In-The-Know Joe.

The Captain looked at us with a glint in her eye and slight smile. ‘Those cities won’t explore themselves,’ she said… and on we went.

Ever After…

 

 

 

#2 Ship’s Blog
Satnav Steven

Ahoy there, story seekers!

It’s Satnav Steven here, reporting from the observation deck of our terrific story-laden vessel.

Ooh it’s been a tense few days on board the Ever After.

Captain Jones got her medals in a muddle after I was late boarding the ship on the first day of our mission, and she spent the rest of the afternoon pacing about in the Never-ending Store. She was furious, and I suppose I can’t blame her. The Captain runs a tight ship and HATES tardiness.

It really wasn’t my fault though. I made sure I left lots of time to make it to The Story Museum, but I just kept getting lost. Every street in Oxford looks the same to me.

You see, I’ve got a bit of a problem.

You’re probably thinking my name is Satnav Steven because I’ve got an incredible sense of direction and I can track my way across the Story Universe with my eyes blindfolded. I am the navigator on board the Ever After after all.

NOPE!

My name is Satnav Steven because I really, really, really need one. I’m hopeless. I get lost looking for my hammock in my own cabin, but PLEASE don’t tell Captain Jones. I don’t think she’s figured out my secret yet, and she’ll kick me off for certain if she does.

I wouldn’t mind, except I LOVE stories and I’ve dreamed of working on board a Prattleship Narrative Ark since I was a boy.

Anyway… enough babbling… let’s get back to the mission.

After my late arrival, Captain Jones altered our course. We were supposed to be setting sail for the Land of Laughter, but she thought I could learn a lesson about good timekeeping by hearing a few moralistic fables, and changed our destination to The Spoken Isle.

I was determined to get it right. I checked the compass about a squillion times and plotted our coordinates exactly. We would take a direct route over the Final Fantasea and be in the Realm of Fables by dinnertime.

The only problem was, I’ve actually never used a compass before and I had the chronometer upside down.

I’m pretty sure you can guess what happened next. By the time dinnertime rolled around, instead of the sweeping hills of Myth and Legend, we were staring at the lop-sided, rainbow-coloured towns of Parody and Humour. Yep… after all that, we’d arrived at the destination we were meant to be heading for in the first place. THE LAND OF LAUGHTER!

I managed to convince In-The-Know Joe that Twist, our pet pig-footed bandicoot, had knocked the navigation gadgets when she was chasing a mouse and must have scrambled our coordinates. He spent the rest of the day back in the Narrative Thrust engine rooms tinkering with them. Ha!

So… somehow, I got out of that one. We ended up having a BRILLIANT time and even gathered our first artefacts whilst exploring the streets.

I stopped off in the neighbourhood of PRANKS to see my old friend, Dennis the Menace and grab a SLOPPER-GNOSHER-GUT-BUSTIN’-BURGER with him at Beanotown Burgers. He showed us all the funniest places to visit and donated his trusty catapult to the Ever After’s collection.

Then we popped over to Farmer Jenks’ field at the edge of town to spend the afternoon with Just William and his gang of outlaws, Ginger, Henry and Douglas. It took a bit of persuading, and I had to give up a large chunk of my stash of sweets and chocolate, but William finally agreed to give us his blue and white stripy cap to add to our booky treasure-trove onboard.

You might think that Dennis the Menace’s catapult and Just William’s cap were a really great start to our hunt for funny artefacts, but it didn’t end there. Just when we were about to head back to the ship, I spotted a scruffy house with a dead tree and a huge cage in the back garden. We snuck inside for a bit of a nose about and discovered two piles of clothes in the middle of the floor and all the furniture glued to the ceiling. I’m sure you’ve guessed which gross double-act the house used to belong to…

That’s right! Mr and Mrs Twit! No one wanted to stick around in that horrid place for too long, but we made our final discovery and collected something deliciously funny and wickedly hilarious.

Wait for it…

MRS TWIT’S GLASS EYE!

It’s been safely wrapped and put away in the Never-ending Store along with the other treasures. It won’t be long before they’re joined by tons of other exciting story-related objects.

Here’s hoping we end up somewhere just as fun the next time I get us all lost.

This is Ship’s Navigator, Satnav Steven signing off.

Ever After…