by Gary Hewitt


I love the fair. There's always something happening. It makes a nice change.

'Welcome, welcome. Come along and see if you can last a round with Arthur 'The Mauler' Williams. Those who can will be handsomely rewarded. 'There's a chap taking off his jacket. He's had a few too many steak and kidney puddings.

'I'll take him on. Get your money ready squire.'

Roly poly man bounces to the middle of the ring. Five seconds later his jaw smashes into the canvas and blood splatters over a couple of ladies in the front row. The people watching are going barmy.

I'd like to see Mr Williams whack some more customers apart but I'm sure I can find something better. It's getting more crowded mind. Toffs, scruffs, ladies and nippers like me are looking to make a bob or be entertained. A skinny dandy walks right in front of me unaware he's about to lose a shiny gold watch.

I slip through the mob with my new treasure. I hear him yell that he's been robbed. I have a giggle. Nobody is going to help on fair day.

I could do with a bite. I aint eaten since yesterday. I see a stand selling a pies, cakes and sweets. I reach in my pocket and jingle some change. I'm not going to try and nick from that stall. Not when I see Wally Jenkins and Ed Joiner standing guard.

'Oi, Tommy, you better be a paying customer.'

The warning is friendly. I've known these two for most of my life. I know better than to try it on.

'Course I am. I wouldn't miss Maggie's pies for anything. Everyone knows they're the best in South London.'

'It's Mrs Jenkins to you.'

I slide up to the stall. Maggie's rushing around serving hungry punters. She sees me and her face lights right up.

'Tommy, how the bloody well are you?'

My hair is rubbed by a greasy bread crumbed hand.

'I'm fine thanks Mrs Jenkins. Starving mind.

She slams a meaty pie into my palm.

'Well you and half of London. Especially today.'

A few customers start to moan about being kept waiting.

'Hold on you lot, you'll get fed soon enough. There you go Tommy and say hello to your Mum for me.'

I offer her a few coins. She shoos the money away.

'On the house for you. Now clear off before I change me mind.'

Wally and Ed aint impressed. I think the world of Maggie Jenkins. She's always been good to me.

The meat is wonderful. It slides down me scrag and makes itself right at home in my tummy. There's plenty of room for more mind. I wander on.

I ignore a show bragging about the world's tallest man. Instead my eyes settle on an old purple wagon sitting at the end of the row. No-one's bothering to stop there. Instead they walk right on by ignoring a beautiful woman making this magical music.

My stumpy legs stumble towards her show. She ignores me. Instead, her furious fingers pull and pluck at the strings of a guitar. She caught up in her work. I can't look away.

Dark eyes look my way. She sees me her cheeks go all rosy.

'I'm sorry. I didn't see you there.'

Her voice is a bit strange.

'It's all right Miss. Most people don't.'

I give her a grin and she smiles back.

'Are you here for my show?'

I'm confused.

'I thought that was your show. Aint you a musician?'

'Well, sort of. I'm really a puppeteer. It's what I'm known for where I'm from.'

'But you're really good with the guitar. '

'You think so? Well it's nice of you to say but I'm not really that good. Back in Spain, there are many better players than me.'

She puts the guitar away. Her dark hair bounces to and fro. I've never ever seen anyone like her.

'Do you want to see my show my young friend? It seems you're my only guest.'

I can't understand what's so good about the tallest man of the world. Not when the world's most beautiful woman is right under their noses.

'Please Miss. I'd like that a lot.'

'Miss? Pah! No don't call me Miss. My name is Ciri. And what, young Sir do I call you?'


She says nothing. She ducks behind the counter instead. The space behind is black and filled with tiny points of white. One of them sparkles brighter than any of the others. It starts to grow and eats away all the dark.

I rub my eyes. Yet there is no doubt. The light gets much bigger and the screen behind changes to all white.

'Ah, what a day this is. What a fine day indeed.'

The voice is still female, yet stronger. A new shape begins to form on the left of the stage. A blue skinned puppet with a snout and a stick stares right at me.

'Indeed it is Miss Starshine. And look, we have a visitor.'

I'm having a right old laugh at the funny voice of the puppet. It sounds all high and squeaky.

Have you ever seen anyone of those before ZibZab? It's all pink and bubbly.'

The puppet turns around to the Sun and pulls out a shiny pink book.

'I'll check my encyclopedia of weird life forms. Hmm, let's take a look.'

The blue beast leaps off of the stage and lands right in front of me. He comes up to the level of my knees and stares at me looking all confused.

'Do you have a name? Do you know what you are?'

How does she do that? How does she make the puppet do all those things? I'm well impressed.

'Hey, can you hear me?'

I answer, feeling a bit silly.

'My name's Tommy. Tommy Lyons.'

'Nice to meet you Tommy. Now what in the universe are you?'

'A boy. I'm fourteen years old.'

ZibZab scratches his chin. He opens his book, leafing through a heap of pages.

'I've never heard of a boy before. Ah, hold on, this looks promising, yes, yes, I do believe I've found out what you are. You're a human.'

I look over my shoulder. I'd never live it down if my friends catch me talking to a puppet.

'Yeah. What are you then?'

The puppet shakes it head.

'A visitor to your strange little world. Madam Ciri looks after me when I come along. We keep her very busy.'

'We? You mean there are more of you?'

The odd little thing's shoulders shrivel up and down. I guess that's how he laughs.

'Why of course. Although today it's just me and Miss Starshine over there. The others are on the moon playing hide and seek. It's great fun running around all those tunnels and craters I can tell you.'

ZibZab points into the night sky. His little fingers point to the Moon. I can imagine his friends having a royal old time. The creature taps me on the knee.

'Could you be so kind and help me on stage. I'm afraid it's a bit too high of a jump for me.'

I grab him round his tummy. He doesn't weigh very much. I hope it doesn't hurt.

'Thank you Tommy, you're very kind.'

Ciri emerges from the back of the screen. She has her guitar and plays. ZibZab starts to dance. The sun spins behind. I've never seen anything like it.

'You want to join in with us Tommy? Would you like to see more?'

She gives me her hand and I take it. Her touch is so soft. My head sways left and right. I see her face, nothing else. It seems so huge above me. Her eyes flicker like an flashing star. I feel tiny.

I'm on her stage standing next to ZibZab. We both enjoy the heat of the sun behind our backs. I glance up to see Ciri shining above us. She reaches down and takes hold of my waist and plants me onto her palm before lifting me up.

'Ah, sweet little one. I knew you wanted to be with us as soon as I saw you and I'm so very, very happy to have you. I can't wait to introduce you to the others.'

She puts me into a weird box. I'm not worried though. In fact, I am more than happy.

She reaches to the front of the wagon and pulls the shutters down. She looks back to me and ZibZab.

'Well Tommy, I guess it's time I let you into a little secret.'

Her voice booms around me. I sound like ZibZab's when I talk.

'What's your secret and what have you done to me?'

She strokes my head with the tip of a giant finger.

'I am a collector Tommy. I collect life from all over the galaxy and put my friends on display all across the universe. You see, ZibZab is no puppet but a living creature from another world. I myself come from far, far away although I must admit I quite like looking like this young Spanish girl. It's a wonderful country you know.'

I know I should be scared. I know I should try to scarper yet I can't.

'And me?'

'I have miniaturized you. It's quite easy for my kind to do this. It saves on space, especially when it comes to travelling.'

'Travelling? But my friends, family they are all here. I...I can't leave them behind.'

Her eyes swell ever larger, her huge voice goes all quiet.

'You have a new family little one and lots of friends. There is so, so much more out there than this tiny planet of yours Tommy. And you, you are now my favourite. I will look after you and with me, you will live forever.'

My eyelids fall down. Her hands are so warm and I nod off.

I don't know how long I've been akip. It's all cold and dark. I blink a few times and underneath it's all rocky and covered in white dust.

'Hello? Hello?' I whisper.

A shushing noise comes from my right.

'Quiet or she'll find us. You want to win don't you?'

'The voice is ZibZabs.

'Where are we? Have we escaped?'

I can make out his blue body. Around us the world is empty.

'Escaped? Don't be silly! No, it's a game of hide and seek. The winner gets to dance with Madam Ciri and we're on the Moon.'

I feel daft. The air is hard to breathe but cleaner. I wonder if there is a man in the moon or if it's made of cheese like I heard once.

'Where are you little ones? You can't hide forever.'

Ciri's voice echoes across the craters. ZibZab puts a finger to his lips.

'Too late for that my blue one.'

Ciri's hand plucks my new friend from his hiding place. He shoots me an angry glance. I roll into a ball. I hope by being small that she might not see me.

'What have we here? A boy all scrunched up? Well, we can't be having that.'

She grabs my waist. I can't help but laugh.'

'Oh, ticklish are we?'

She sets me and ZibZab down. She has plans for me though. Her fingers nibble at my tummy forcing me to lose control. She doesn't stop and my laughter can be heard right across the moon.

'My ticklish little Tommy. Hehe, well I suppose I better tell you you've won.'

'Have I? So what happens now then?'

She touches my shoulder, her smile widening. I blink several times and she is beside me, no longer a giant.

'You get to dance with me. Dance with me forever.'

I sway left and right with Ciri anticipating my every move. I stare Spanish eyes hypnotized by her beauty. I start to forget my old life. I don't want this dance to end.

'Tommy, Tommy, I have to show you. There is so much for you to see.'

And I know I will. I will see lots of worlds and incredible places. I'll never be lonely. No, in fact I think I'm the happiest boy in the whole wide world. Well, this universe at least. I've a funny feeling I'll be gone from Camberwell for a while. Blooming ages I reckon.

Word count: 2238

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