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Authors: Duncan Ball

Selby Spacedog

BOOK: Selby Spacedog
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For Daniel Barker
the real Wanderin’ Dan, the Poet Man.


Take Off



















Take Off


‘These chocolates are yummy,’ Mrs Trifle said as she picked another Forget-Me-Not chocolate out of the heart-shaped box. ‘They’re so good that they make me absolutely forget who I am.’

‘Forget who you are?’ said Dr Trifle, popping a chocolate into his own mouth. ‘Is that possible? Ummm. I see what you mean.’

Selby watched as Dr and Mrs Trifle sat on the lounge eating chocolates and watching the news. There on TV was a very strange sight: a rhinoceros with a boot on its nose.

‘Good heavens!’ Dr Trifle exclaimed. ‘Isn’t that Sunny, the rhino at Bogusville Zoo?’

‘I do believe it is,’ said Mrs Trifle. ‘How do you suppose he got that boot stuck over his snout?’

The answer came straightaway as a TV reporter interviewed Postie Paterson, Bogusville’s part-time zoo keeper.

‘The rhinoceros pen was beginning to smell,’ Postie explained, ‘so I climbed in to clean it. I do this all the time of course and usually there’s no problem. But this time Sunny went for me. His horn caught in my boot as I was going over the fence.’

‘Why do you think he charged?’ asked the reporter.

‘Because he’s a rhino, I suppose,’ Postie said. ‘Rhinos are like that. Sometimes they just go for you. I’m always ready to run, but this time I was a little slow getting started.’

‘And how will you get the boot off?’

‘I could tranquillise him with a dart,’ Postie said. ‘I’ve done it before when I’ve had to, but I hate to do it.’


‘Because when he comes to, he’s all groggy and he’s sore from falling down. So I’ll look for a gentler way this time.’

‘Good luck,’ the reporter said, suddenly turning to the camera. ‘And that’s all from Bogusville Zoo. It seems that what began as a pong in a pen has ended with a problem that’s a bit on the nose.’

‘What a cruel thing to say,’ Selby thought. ‘How would
like to have a boot stuck over
nose? Poor Sunny. And poor Postie — he’s had so many problems at the zoo recently. This must make him feel terrible.’

‘So what are you going to do about it?’ Dr Trifle asked Mrs Trifle.

‘Me? Why me?’ said Mrs Trifle.

‘Because you’re the mayor of Bogusville, so you’re Postie’s boss,’ Dr Trifle explained.

‘Mayors aren’t much good at getting boots off rhino’s noses,’ Mrs Trifle said, ‘but inventors are. Why don’t
figure out how to do it?’

‘Me? I don’t know anything about boots — or rhinoceroses.’

‘But you’re good at solving problems. You have such a nimble mind.’

‘Nimble? Do I?’ Dr Trifle asked, looking very proud of himself.

‘He certainly does,’ Selby thought. ‘He’s a great inventor. I’m sure that his brain is different from ordinary brains like mine. It just leaps from one idea to the next until
Everything falls into place and he’s got the perfect solution.’

‘I’ll see what I can come up with,’ Dr Trifle said, heading for his workroom.

For the next hour Selby watched Dr Trifle pace back and forth, mumbling.

‘Rhinoceros … nose … boot,’ the doctor mumbled. ‘Smell … remove … tranquillise … Let’s see now … sleep … horn … shoe … No, no, no … horn … shoe … Now wait just a minute: horn shoe, horn shoe. I’ve got it: shoehorn! What Sunny needs is a shoehorn. But not the kind for getting shoes on: one for getting boots off — off his nose. And I know just how to make it. It’ll be as easy as ABC. In fact, that’s what I’ll call it: my ABC — my Automatic-Boot-Cruncher.’

Selby watched as Dr Trifle hammered and sawed and bolted his contraption together. When he was finished he picked up the telephone and called Postie Paterson.

‘Hold the show, Postie!’ the doctor cried. ‘I’ve got just the thing to get that boot off Sunny’s snout! Meet me at the zoo first thing in the morning and we’ll give it a go.’

‘I knew Dr Trifle could do it,’ Selby thought as he curled up to go to sleep for the night. ‘I can’t wait to see what happens at the zoo tomorrow.’

In the middle of the night Selby woke up and sneaked into Dr Trifle’s workroom to have another look at the strange device. As he did, he noticed the box of Mrs Trifle’s chocolates on the workbench.

‘He’s soooo clever,’ Selby thought as he popped a chocolate into his mouth and tasted the wonderful sweetness of the chocolate oozing over his tongue. ‘And this chockie is scrummy! Oh, yummy scrummy tum tum. It’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before! It’s put me in a daze.’

Selby’s mind went wonderfully blank as he felt the chocolate trickle down his throat.

‘Mrs Trifle was right,’ he thought. ‘That chocolate made me forget everything. I even forgot who I was for a second. They should be called
not Forget-Me-Nots.’

After a second, Selby blinked and his mind cleared again as he looked at Dr Trifle’s invention.

‘Oh, no,’ he thought. ‘I can see everything clearly now. The ABC will never work. Sunny will smash it to smithereens the second he sees it. It’ll be a disaster for the doctor. Hmmm, maybe I can think of something …’

Suddenly Selby’s mind began leaping from thing to thing the way Dr Trifle’s had. He paced back and forth, mumbling. ‘Let’s see now … boot … solution … pong … pen … Postie … nose … cleaning.’

Seconds ticked by, and then minutes, as Selby’s mind jumped in every direction like a frog in a hopping contest. Ideas piled on ideas and thoughts on thoughts.

‘Smell … snout … boot. Oh, bother,’ Selby sighed. ‘I give up. Nothing’s falling into place. I can’t keep track of my thoughts anymore. I can’t even remember the last thought I thunk.’

Selby was about to eat another chocolate when it struck him.

‘That’s it! I’ve got it! I’ve got the answer! Everything just fell into place!’

* * *

The next morning at the zoo Selby watched as Dr Trifle and Postie Paterson lowered the ABC into Sunny’s pen.

‘Sunny will charge it,’ Dr Trifle explained. ‘And, when he does, his head will go into the device, the boot will get scrunched together, and then pop! Off it will come.’

Sunny took one look at the invention and charged it, sending bits of wood flying in every direction. When the air cleared there was the rhino with the boot still firmly fixed to his nose.

Dr Trifle cleared his throat as his face turned pink.

‘Well, well, well,’ he said. ‘That Sunny certainly is a strong fellow, isn’t he?’

Postie sighed and turned to go.

‘I guess we’d better get the tranquillising gun,’ he said.

When the two men were safely out of sight in a nearby shed, Selby — who had a plan of his own — slipped some chocolates out from under his collar and crept quietly into Sunny’s pen, moving up behind the beast.

‘The thing about rhinos,’ he thought, ‘is that they
that they’re rhinos. They know they’re supposed to charge things because that’s what rhinos do. But if these chocolates work, he’ll forget that he’s Sunny the rhino and he’ll forget he’s meant to charge. That’s when I slip the boot off his snoot.’

Selby nipped around to Sunny’s side and threw a pawful of Forget-Me-Not chocolates into the rhino’s mouth. Sunny turned suddenly and then stopped dead in his tracks. A slight smile spread across his face — or at least as much of a smile as a rhino with a boot over his snout can manage.

‘He’s in a daze,’ Selby thought, ‘now for
invention: the SBE — the Selby-Boot-Extractor!’ Quick as a flash, Selby jumped up, clutched the boot with all paws and pulled. But pull as he did the boot wouldn’t budge. Selby gave an extra large tug and was about to give up when Sunny looked over at the kangaroos in the next pen. He watched for a second and then suddenly leapt high in the air. After a second, he leapt again — this time even higher — and then again and again.

‘Oh, no!’ Selby thought. ‘He’s forgotten he’s a rhino, but now he thinks he’s a kangaroo! I’ve got to get down from here before he kills me! But how? If I let go he’ll trample me!’

BOOK: Selby Spacedog
3.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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