Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Pa’s Plus Pages -- The Late Ben Brown – short story and animation from 2004

Picture2   This post isn’t about food, this is one of the Plus pages from the blog title. The Late Ben Brown is a story I wrote way back when I was taking a creative writing class. The animation is only covers the beginning of the story and I use the term animation loosely, it is composed of clip art pics that I manipulated in various ways, with what by current standards was pretty crude software and then strung together, with MS movie maker if I remember correctly. The story still makes me smile so I thought I would share it now I have this little blog going.
    I hope you read on and enjoy it and give the animation a little look as well. Please be gentle with your critiques Winking smile

The Late Ben Brown

Picture9a     Ben Brown was late again.  To those that knew him it was absolutely no surprise.  He was always late.  As a teenager he had bee nicknamed The Late Ben Brown and it stuck.  Perhaps it was not his fault, he had been born that way, eventually.  After all the distractions, confusions and hold-ups had been passed, when his mother and the doctor would wait no longer, the recalcitrant child had been dragged unceremoniously into the world.  That perhaps had conditioned his approach to life.

    School had been a tricky time.  Even when his mother had first been taking him as a fresh and eager lad, something always contrived to make him late.  Though, then, his poor dam took the reproaches. Throughout his childhood some blamed the parents but then some always do.
    When Ben graduated to making his own way to the seat of learning, he soon discovered the inherent conflict between an inflexible education system and an unintentional but apparently congenital tardiness.  The story so far in animation.
86 This undoubtedly contributed to the development of his quick and nimble mind.  Apologies developed into excuses which soon blossomed into valid but increasingly bizarre reasons.  It taught him to think on his feet, or on one occasion his back, arriving on a customised shopping trolley driven by a Gentleman of the street who had found him prostrate in the gutter, carelessly discarded there by foreign spies.  Earlier, and with Ben having substantial leeway to arrive by the designated ttime, the spies had, in an unfortunate case of mistaken identity, abducted him from outside J. HENRY newsagent in the High Street. Whisked to an anonymous, derelict warehouse Ben had been interrogated using all the fiendish techniques at his captor’s disposal.  It had only been the discovery of his, frankly poor, maths homework that finally persuaded the enemy. Ben was not the government physicist who held in his head the secrets of a prototype death ray.

Picture20    It was a Tuesday, cold for the time of year, when the alien abduction happened. Whisked up to the mother ship in a beam of silver light, as is the way with these things, the hapless child found his body probed.  By bright metallic instruments colder than the weather, in orifices and apertures that really should be avoided in the young and modestly inclined, by ugly dog-headed denizens of the Sirius star system.  Having, apparently, passed their tests and barely managing to not pass something more unpleasant, he was teleported to their home planet. Here an over-funded and sinister government organisation tried to force the young innocent into an obscene and perverse cross-breeding program.   Fortunately he was rescued, just in time, by a cell of the Human Liberation Front.  Pictures of the Dogs in Black and their Earthling victim were soon all over the Sirian media and Ben found himself to be a minor celebrity.  Invited to the Ambassador’s party to show know hard feelings, he found himself in strange and alien company, dancing the night away to the fiery rhythms of a Quan Quan kazoo band while fending off the tentacled embraces of an over-amorous Volauvontian princess.  When the Ambassador brought round a tray piled high with brightly coloured sweetbreads Ben could only smile and resist accusing the host  of spoiling his guests.  One of the peculiarities of faster-than-light travel meant that, though tired and disheveled, he was only two hours late for school on his return.  While most found this tale frankly incredible, it did explain his sudden and mysterious appearance at his desk halfway through an English lesson.
    This unlikely adventurer bore these tribulations with a happy stoicism and, as luck would have it, his luck was not always bad.  He missed the school trip to the Science museum having been frustrated on his way in while taking a short cut.  This had lead him into a shoot-out, in Gladwin Road, between the police and desperate London gangsters.  Forced to dive for cover beneath a large rhododendron bush, Ben was unsurprised to find it already occupied by five svelte and scantily clad young ladies.  In chirpy Cockney tones they declared him to be their old mucker and, as any young Gentleman would, he guided them, via several well-tended gardens and Old Mr Morrison’s strawberry patch, to the relative safety of a budget women’s wear shop.  His arrival at school was too late for the museum trip and also, luckily, for the packed lunches.  These contained chicken sandwiches, prepared with old chicken smuggled into the country inside cheap plaster statues  by unscrupulous businessmen and subsequently processed into chicken loaf.  It was this that caused the extremely embarrassing digestive quirks, afflicting both staff and pupils as they tried to take an interest in a giant step for mankind in between many small steps to the toilets.
4    The transition to adulthood was an uneasy, no, traumatic time for the young man.  While school had been inflexible, it was as nothing compared to the intolerance shown by the commercial world to the punctuality challenged.  His first job, as a delivery driver, lasted less than a week.  The rain of frogs, of almost Biblical proportions, had caused several accidents and closed the road.  The delay caused could have been only brief but for the arrival of a van load of activists from the Frog Preservation Society. These shaven-headed do-gooders in big boots threatened the direst consequences on any vehicle that moved, before they had gently transported every last amphibian to the safety of a nearby pond.  That these events would surely be on the local news that evening was of no help to Ben.  On his eventual arrival back at base it was to find his boss gone home, the depot locked and his own dismissal pinned prominently to the gate.
32    Despite this inauspicious first step on the career ladder The Late Ben Brown eventually found his niche, as rep for a stationary company.  His new boss, a man with a blessed sense of humour, soon realised the time of his new employee’s arrival at work was unpredictable.  However, though Ben would be unavoidably delayed, possibly having been taken hostage by a modern day Bonnie and Clyde robbing the service station where the unfortunate salesman had stopped for a quiet coffee.  The ensuing rescue by the SAS would undoubtedly cause the collapse of a large part of the building. This in turn precipitating the opening of a yawning chasm in the very Earth and thus freeing an evil Jinn imprisoned for aeons by a long dead Magus.  The liberated daemon would of course lay waste the surrounding area, then gorge on BLTs until disposed of by the arrival of a crack team of psychic hit men from the Vatican.
33    Crucially for Ben’s boss, the table under which his intrepid seller of paperclips and related items had taken cover, serendipitously, would be shared with the chief buyer of a major chain of High Street newsagents which, only weeks earlier had purchased the shop from outside of which Ben had been kidnapped by enemy agents so many years before.   The Late Ben Brown would arrive back in the office, wild eyed, clutching a full order book.
Picture16    Ben’s life was not all doom and gloom, his  innate inability to arrive anywhere at the prescribed time had its upsides.  As a young man his holiday to a hedonistic Greek island to savour the temptations of Bacchus got off to a slow start by missing his flight.  His taxi had taken a route, which, unbeknownst to driver or passenger had earlier been the scene of a collision between two tanker lorries. The resultant chemical spills had washed down the storm drains where, through a cracked and leaking pipe it had poured into a long forgotten medieval plague pit.  This chemical cocktail, by an arcane and demonic alchemy, reanimated the cadavers which then clawed their way to the surface.  Here the undead, with much muttering of “Odds bodkins”  “My kingdom for a horse” and suchlike, caused mayhem with the rush hour traffic trapping The Late Ben Brown in a seventeen mile tailback.  Catching a later flight the unfortunate vacationer spent a pleasant though quiet week under the Aegean sun without the rest of his party. They spent a quiet but less pleasant week in a hospital due to injuries sustained as their plane bounced off the runway on landing. Even without Ben aboard.

    However, despite his busy life, young Ben did not feel fulfilled.  Romance eluded him.  While his natural charm and loquaciousness left him with no shortage of dates, they fell into a depressingly familiar pattern.  The lovelorn youth would arrive at the cinema, bar or wherever to find it closed and his young lady long gone.  On phoning his intended and explaining, about the flash flood on the by-pass and his being co-opted onto the rescue team saving our finny friends who were flapping and gasping on the tarmac, the reply would invariably be brief, colloquial and preclude a second date.
    It was on his way to a routine hospital appointment that Ben found himself hurrying into a small cafe to avoid the shenanigans in the road ahead.  A herd of elephants, driven to avenge an ancient but never forgotten grudge, had made a break for freedom from the local wildlife park. Their intuitive but erratic sense of direction, by way of a trail of unintended destruction, brought them to the town centre.  Here the disorientated animals, unable to find the jungles and bamboo forests where their old enemy was surely hiding, came face to face with a large and vociferous group demonstrating against animal cruelty.  Momentarily nonplussed the protesters then quickly declared solidarity with the pachyderms fight for justice and began wrecking burger bars with wanton glee.  Ben found himself at the counter of the cafe asking a young lady, with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her lips, for a cup of coffee.  Wanda, for so her badge proclaimed her to be, raised a finger before going to look out at the commotion.  Shutting the door and putting up the closed sign, she returned and poured lattes for this strange and charismatic person and herself, then joined him at a table.  There they sat for long hours and talked of many things, of cabbages and kings, and fell in love.
    The course of true love, happily, ran smoothly for Ben and Wanda, though subject to frequent and incongruous delays.  Marriage was followed by children that, thankfully, took after their mother. The Late Ben Brown thrived and despite, or perhaps because of, a full and interesting life lived to a mature and eccentric age.
Picture1E    Upon his eventual demise no incongruity was found when, as predicted so often in life, he was late for his own funeral.  Four hundred and forty nine tourists, nattily clad in slacks and Hawaiian shirts with Nikons round their necks, had won vacations from a celebrity gossip magazine.  Maps waving with a constant need for directions they caused chaos throughout the town.  Those at the funeral, ever confident of Ben’s eventual arrival none left early, all agreed it was a fitting send off.
    Rising above his obsolete body Ben found himself drawn upwards, through a tunnel toward a distant light.  When he finally burst through into Elysium’s marbled halls it was to be confronted by Death, seated upon a striped deckchair impatiently tapping a bony foot. With his scythe upended nonchalantly against a nearby wall, cowl thrown casually back to allow a little sunshine upon his pallid skull, the Grim Reaper withdrew an hourglass from far within his robe of deepest black and pointed acerbically with his bony digit.  With a ghostly smile The Late Ben Brown  began recounting how, halfway up the tunnel the side had broken in  beneath the force of a gang of trans-dimensional octopi on the run from the biggest kelp heist in history and hotly pursued by the ferocious ghouls of The Timeless Chaos God ArkenBarken.  Ben naturally tried not to get involved but after one of the robbers dropped on him a boulder of high quality seaweed, that surely would have crushed his body if he still had one, he was forced to flee for his life or whatever his current status actually was.  With some small satisfaction, Ben noticed the impenetrable darkness of Death’s eye sockets begin to glaze over. 
    Some things never change.

    And that is the end of my little tale I hope you enjoyed it. As for the animation I see that at the beginning I wasn’t really following more just playing with it, I was just getting the hang of it and can’t remember why I abandoned the project.  Oh well c’est la vie.

    That is all for now my friends but I will see you all again soon with another tasty recipe to tickle your palate.
   Until then remember to play with your food and enjoy what you eat Laughing out loud

           Love from Pa


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