A story for Millie’s birthday


As you may know, last week was Millie’s ninth birthday.  She made me promise to write her a story, just as I do for both girls at Christmas, but this would be just for her.

What with all the recent drama about unemployment I really didn’t think it would get done…but the final draft spilled onto the page just in time.

Who says I can’t hit my deadlines? 😉

So, please enjoy this story, written to try and address Millie’s current arachnophobia…

Millie Saves The Spiders

Prologue

“Mummy!” came a thin, small voice from the fireplace into the empty living room, “Help!”

And again, this time a tiny bit louder, “Mummy!  Daaaaaaddy!  Help!”

If anyone had been in the living room they might – just – have heard the muffled call for help, and they might have looked at the fireplace where the voice seemed to be coming from.

And if they could have looked up the chimney, past the upstairs, past the attic, right up to the roof, then they might have seen a dirt-encrusted Millie Carter desperately clinging onto the chimney there, shivering as the wind blew the burned and tattered remains of a once-magnificent magic cloak around her.

But no one was there to see or to hear her cries.

Millie held tight to the chimney against the wind and tried not to cry, recalling how she had ended up trapped and alone here on the roof.  But she couldn’t help it, and the tears rolled down her face as she remembered…

Chapter 1

Spiders.  It had all started with spiders.

She had been in her bedroom, dancing, jumping about on the bed pretending to be the world’s greatest popstar.  She was singing her most-famous song, the one on the radio every day that all her fans loved.  Her favourite bit was just coming up and she opened her eyes to do the famous Bollywood dance move that her fans liked to copy.

“Help,” she suddenly thought.  “Help”?  Help what?  Help who?

That’s when she realised there was writing on the carpet of her room.  Help it said, in wobbly black letters.  Well, actually it said Hepl but as she watched the l and the p swapped places and settled down where they should be.

Millie stopped dancing and looked at the floor.  It definitely said Help and Mummy was definitely not going to be happy that someone had written in big black letters on her bedroom floor.

The letters moved again, breaking up into pieces and scuttling about until they said, You are Mellie Carter?  Millie Carter stared at her name on the floor.

“No,” she said, “I’m Millie Carter,” and watched in amazement as Mellie corrected itself to Millie before changing to Sorry which then changed to Us not good at spalling.

“Who are you?” asked Millie, “And how are you writing on…?  Oh, wait – is this magic?  Are you using magic to make this writing?”

Iz not magic, wrote the floor, Iz just us – iz spiders.

Millie’s eyes opened wide and she gave a little cough before whispering “S-s-spiders?”

Please be frightened, we are not very friendly, appeared quickly on the floor, and just as quickly rearranged to say Please not be frightened, we are very friendly.

As the letters changed before her very eyes Millie nervously looked closer; yep, it was true: the writing was made of lots of little spiders all moving together to make letters.

“Eek,” said Millie, very very quietly, and she went very pale at the thought of all those spiders on her bedroom floor.  “Eek.”

Please, Millie, we are need your help, wrote the spiders.

Millie took a deep breath, preparing for a really big scream.

We not hurt Millie, we Millie friends, wrote the spiders as quickly as they could

Millie’s mouth opened ready …

You are brave lady who defeat Lobster King! scribbled the spiders, You see Great Magician Trev.

Millie stopped getting ready to scream.  “How do you know about that?  The only people who know about that are me, Amber and…”  She turned and looked at the gerbil cage.  “Sparkle?”

There was no reply.

“Sparkle, are you in there?”

There came a squeaky muffled reply, “Er, no, Sparkle’s not here at the moment.”

“Come out, Sparkle,” said Millie crossly, and the little gerbil appeared from under the sawdust.

“Oh, hello, Millie.  Didn’t see you there,” she squeaked.

“Sparkle, why is my floor covered in spiders?  You know I don’t like spiders!”  Millie looked down at her floor, “Sorry.”

Is OK, spelt out the spiders.

Sparkle looked nervous as she answered.  “I know you don’t like spiders,” she squeaked, “but this is important.  The spiders need our help, they—“

“I’m not helping spiders!” interrupted Millie, “I don’t like spiders!”

“Millie,” squeaked Sparkle, “listen to me.  The spiders knew your Uncle Trev – they helped him in the past, and in return he swore to help them if ever he could.  Well, now they need our help, and Uncle Trev is gone – the only person they have to turn to is you.  You’re the only person who can help them.”

Millie made a pained expression. “But…but…why did it have to be spiders?” she whispered.  “Why couldn’t it have been the… I don’t know, a beautiful unicorn that needed our help?”

Sparkle waved a paw at the spiders bustling about the floor, “Trust me, these little people are really nice guys.  Unicorns may look nice but they’re actually kinda stupid and vicious.”  She shook her tiny head and tutted. “Unicorns.  Don’t talk to me about unicorns.”

There was movement on the floor as the spiders spelt out something new.  Please us help, they wrote, You are spiders onyl hope.

Millie looked unhappy and tried not to stare at the spiders, who were trying to spell “only” again.

Millie looked up at the ceiling and shrugged her shoulders unhappily.  “All right,” she sighed, “And it’s o-n-l-y.”

The spiders somehow managed to look embarrassed and grateful at the same time.

Chapter 2

Amber had overheard Millie and Sparkle talking and she wanted to come along on the adventure.

“No,” said Millie, putting on a face that said There’s nothing else to discuss.

“But why not?” asked Amber from just outside the door – she refused to come into the bedroom on account of the many spiders bustling about on the floor. “I came along on the last adventure, and I’ve got my own magic cloak and armour.  Why can’t I come?”

“You’re too scared to even come in the bedroom because of the spiders,” laughed Millie, rather nastily, “You can’t help save the spiders if you’re scared of them!”

“You’re scared of them, too,” said Amber.

“I am not, I’m – WAH!” screamed Millie.  “Get off!  Get off!  Get off!”

The spiders were drifting towards Millie’s bed where she stood; some were even standing on top of each other, trying to reach the bottom of the duvet.  They scuttled back in a panic when they heard her scream, and ran to hide under the wardrobe, going too close to Amber, who screamed too, making them scurry back towards Millie, who screamed again.

“Shall I just go on my own?” squeaked Sparkle, rolling her eyes.

“No,” said Millie, and she stamped her foot. “I was the one who beat the Lobster King and I was the one Uncle Trev chose to look after the Totterdown…thingie, so I’m the best person for this job.”

Sparkle looked doubtful.  “But it wasn’t just you, Amber came with us, and…” she began to say, but stopped when she saw Millie looking at him.

The spiders reappeared from under the wardrobe, but ducked back again too when they saw Millie’s face.

“We are going to storm in there with all our magic swords and armour and stuff, and we’re going to save the spiders from…from whatever it is they need saving from.  It’ll be easy – we’ll be back in time for tea!”

“OK,” said Sparkle, unhappily, “You’re the boss…” and the two of them began to get their armour on ready to go.

Chapter 3

Millie, Sparkle and all the spiders looked around at the remains of the Lobster King’s throne room.  Millie wore the flying cape, the armour and the sword that Uncle Trev had left for her.  She felt very brave and rather dashing wearing them, as though she were the hero in a fairy tale.  The remains of the Lobster King’s throne room didn’t look much like a fairy story, though – unless it was a story about miserable dark old dungeons that had been set on fire.

“And…you live here?” asked Millie, staring at the burnt ceiling, the broken floor and dripping walls.  It didn’t look very comfortable at all.  Even worse was the huge blackened empty shell that was all that remained of the Lobster King himself, which lay empty and broken in the middle of the room.  Scattered around the edges of the room were the remains of many webs and little web houses with little web gardens, all of them torn and ruined.  What had happened there?

You like not? wrote the spiders.

“Is this where you live?” asked Millie.

The spiders quickly spelt out, We did followed by but not after them go.  The go quickly shifted to come and then to came.

Millie stared at the spiders.  It might be a nice place to live if you were a spider, she supposed, but she wasn’t a spider and preferred places that weren’t all burnt and wet – not to mention smelly and dark.  Sparkle was sniffing carefully around the large room, her little nose wrinkling at the burnt wood and broken shell.

“So,” said Millie to the spiders, “why did you want us to come here?  What’s wrong with this place – apart from the smell and the damp and the burnt stuff?”

Shhh, wrote the spiders, the writing even shakier than usual, YOU THEY WILL HEAR!

Sparkle stopped sniffing and looked up towards Millie.  “What do they say?!” she squeaked loudly across the ash-covered throne room.  “Why are we here?!”  Her squeaks echoed across the throne room, disappearing up the corridors that led off to who knew where.

Now the spiders’ writing went so wobbly and blurred that Millie couldn’t even read it.  “Shhh!” she hissed at Sparkle, and looked nervously around the dimly lit cavern.  “Who will hear us?” she whispered to the spiders, which were jiggling about more than ever, unable to put a single word together. She glared at Sparkle, who just shrugged her furry shoulders, but the little gerbil pulled out her shining Markanium sword, just in case.

“Right, you lot, calm down,” hissed Millie to the spiders, and slowly but surely they stopped jiggling about, eventually coming back together to form one word: Srroy.

The cavern seemed suddenly very quiet.  “OK,” whispered Millie, “who will hear us?”

From across the throne room Sparkle slowly tiptoed back to Millie’s side; she looked carefully at what the spiders had written.

“I didn’t know you could read,” said Millie.

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me,” squeaked the little gerbil softly and looked again at the spiders on the floor.

“What do you think?” asked Millie.

“About what?” asked Sparkle.

Millie pointed at the floor, “About that.  What do you think?”

”Hmm,” squeaked the gerbil.  And then again “Hmm…”

“You can’t read, can you, Sparkle,” said Millie.

Sparkle looked indignant, “I certainly can,” she squeaked.  “I can read better than…”  She paused and looked down at the floor.  “No.  No, I can’t.  What does it say?”

“It says…” whispered Millie.

“Yes?” squeaked Sparkle.

“It says…”

“What does it say?!” squealed Sparkle impatiently.

“It says robots.” said Millie softly.

There was neither sight nor sound of robots in the burned-out throne room now, but the spiders had suddenly stopped jiggling about and seemed somehow to be listening very hard.

Sparkle’s little ears pricked, too, and she stared intently down one of the corridors without blinking.

“What…?” began Millie, but she was instantly shushed by her gerbil friend, who slowly pointed down the corridor.  “Can you hear that?” she squeaked very very softly.

Millie listened as hard as she could but heard nothing.

On the ground, the spiders wrote in terrified jumping letters THEM GO! WE HAVE TO COME!

Sparkle looked up nervously at Millie.

“Don’t worry, my friend Metal Pants is a robot,” she told Sparkle and the spiders confidently, “We’ll be fine.”  But the spiders scuttled behind Millie and Sparkle, huddling there in a tiny, tight, black ball, quivering in terror.

Millie took off her helmet and covered the frightened spiders with it, then pulled out her small sword and stood next to Sparkle.

“You said we’ll be fine,” said Sparkle, “So why the sword?”

Millie gave her tiny friend a fierce smile, but even she could hear the noise now: a tinkling, clanking, scraping, grating avalanche of noise poured from just one of the dark corridors.  It grew louder and louder, roaring towards them at a fearsome speed.

“What the -“ began Millie, just as a gushing river of what looked like tiny dull grey marbles rushed out from the corridor towards them. The pair stood there in the middle of the Lobster King’s old throne room their eyes wide with surprise as thousands of the marbles flooded in towards them, making a noise like a million pairs of scissors snipping and clicking at once.

Chapter 4

“Run!” squeaked Sparkle to Millie.  And run they did – not a moment too soon!  The river of metal marbles rushed swiftly towards them, every single one snapping a tiny little mouth at them hungrily as it rolled across the floor.

“Run!” squeaked Sparkle again, rather unnecessarily.  Millie scooped up her helmet, quite forgetting it was full of spiders, and the pair ran as fast as they could for the exit.  But not fast enough – as they dashed towards the exit tiny ravenous robots were already nipping at their heels, snapping tiny chunks from their armoured boots!

Worse still, Millie’s beautiful magic flying cloak was trailing behind her and more and more of the hungry little robots were snapping away at that!

“Fly!” squeaked Sparkle at the top of her little voice, “Millie, FLY!”

More of the horrible robots were catching up and chewing little holes in her cloak that grew bigger as she watched.  Millie shook her cloak and shouted in an attempt to throw them off, but it was no good; and her small sword, sharp though it was, could do nothing against so many tiny little biting monsters.  She took one extra-large step and leapt off the ground, using her flying cloak’s magical power to go as fast as she possibly could in the narrow tunnel.

They raced down the tunnel, desperately trying to outrun the hungry metal monsters that followed them through every twist and turn: they banged and scraped against the rough walls as they flew first left, then right, then sharply up, until they suddenly shot out of the entrance and into the cool, dark air above Albany Park station.

The tiny robots fell back to the ground behind them as Millie arrowed into the sky to escape them, Sparkle clinging desperately to her shoulder.  Up and up they raced, leaving their pursuers below them in the station.

“I think we’re clear!” squeaked Sparkle in Millie’s ear, “Slow down!  They can’t catch us now!” just as they disappeared into a cloud.  A frightened Millie flew even higher, one arm thrust out in front of her, the other holding her helmet.  Only when they burst out of the cloud and saw the bright moon shining in the sky above did she slow down and eventually stop in mid-air, gasping for breath.

“I think I might need some of my puffer,” she said to Sparkle, her face grubby and streaked with tears.

“Ha!” said the little gerbil, “I think I might need some, too!” and they giggled nervously until Sparkle turned and looked back and gasped. “Millie!  Quick!  There are still robots on your cloak!”

Millie twisted her head round and saw five of the little robots still busily chomping away at her cloak, which was now looking very tattered and torn.  Sparkle scampered down her back, sword in one paw, hanging onto a handful of cloak with the other, and chopped off one robot, then another, and another – until just one remained, chomping away at the bottom of Millie’s sorry-looking cloak.

Suddenly, they began to fall, nearly knocking Sparkle off.

“Whoa whoa whoa!” she squeaked, “Take us back up – gently!  I’ve nearly got this one!”

“I’m not doing anything,” wailed Millie, “The cloak’s not working!  It’s broken!”

Sparkle sliced off the last hungry robot and then dragged herself back up the remains of the cloak to Millie’s shoulder, just as they fell back through the cloud they’d gone through before.

“Right,” said the little gerbil, “what’s happening?”

“I can’t fly!” shouted Millie in panic, “We’re falling!  What do I do?”

Millie and Sparkle both screamed as they fell from the sky, racing faster and faster through the air towards the hard ground far, far below them…

Chapter 5

“Sparkle!” screamed Millie, “do something?!

Sparkle held on tightly, the rushing wind pushing her grey fur flat to her body.  “What did you have in mind?!” she squeaked in terror, as the ground rushed up towards them.

They could see Millie’s house below them now, still a long way but getting bigger fast.  Millie tried again to make her tattered magic cloak fly but although her efforts seemed to move a little towards the house they carried on falling just as before.

Just then, one brave little spider popped its tiny head above the rim of Millie’s helmet to see what was happening.  It peered nervously around the edge…and was instantly whisked away by the wind!  It flew up into the sky behind them, lost forever.  But just before it disappeared Millie saw it do something very clever, and that gave her an idea.

“Spiders, quickly!” she shouted into her helmet, “We’re going to smash into the ground and die – you have to help by spinning us a parachute out of webs!  Quickly! Oh, quickly!”

The spiders didn’t waste a second, the inside of Millie’s helmet was alive was skittering, scampering, crawling spiders all weaving a web faster than they’d ever weaved in their lives.

Sparkle looked amazed, “Hold on tight to the helmet,” she squeaked, “it’ll be a hell of a yank when if – I mean, when – they let this parachute go!”

Millie clutched the helmet tightly to her chest as the spiders roiled and boiled with activity inside it – she’d quite forgotten she was afraid of spiders!  The ground was getting very close now – Millie could see her house and her garden and the chicken coop and the raspberry bushes and –

THWUMP!

Her arms were nearly pulled from their sockets as the parachute made of spider-web unfurled into the air above, slowing them down just in the nick of time.  It creaked and strained but the spider-silk held, bringing them gently down towards Millie’s house.  Very close to Millie house – too close, in fact – they were going to land on the roof!

Down they came, Millie struggling to hold onto her helmet as they swung gently in the breeze, so that it was a relief when they finally bumped down next to the chimney.  Millie stretched out to grab it and missed!  She started to slip off the roof, pulled by the now useless parachute.  In a panic she reached out again with both hands, dropping her helmet, and held tightly onto the chimney, breathing heavily with her eyes squeezed tight shut.  Her helmet clattered down the roof and fell off the edge, giving a loud CLANG! as it hit the ground far beneath and she saw the pale spider-silk parachute drift slowly away into the sky.

Millie sobbed; for once, even Sparks was quiet.  “Mummy!” she shouted down the chimney, “Help!”

And again, this time a tiny bit louder, “Mummy!  Daaaaaaddy!  Help!”

If anyone had been in the living room they might – just – have heard the muffled call for help, and they might have looked at the fireplace where the voice seemed to be coming from.

And if they could have looked up the chimney, past the upstairs, past the attic, right up to the roof, then they might have seen the dirt-encrusted Millie Carter shivering and she clung onto the chimney, the wind swirling the tattered remains of her magic cloak around her.

But no one was there.  Millie held tight to the chimney against the wind and tried not to cry, but she couldn’t help it, and the tears rolled down her face as she lay trapped on her own roof.

After a minute there came the sound of a window opening at the front.

“Millie?” called Amber, “are you on the roof?”

Millie had never been so glad to hear her little sister’s voice.  “Yes!” she cried, “Help!  I’m stuck on the roof!”

“What are you doing there?  You’d better get down or Mummy will be cross.”

“I can’t get down, I’m stuck.  You’ll have to call the Fire Brigade or something.”

“What about the…” began Amber, and then stopped.  When she spoke again it sounded like she was reading something.  “If you wait a…monkey, er, I mean minute…there will be a roop – no, a rope to grab onto…and then she can… Cimbl?  Oh, right, climb; then she – I mean you – then you can climb down.”

Millie sniffed and tried to wipe her nose without letting go of the chimney.  “Amber, what are you t-talking about?” she shivered.  The silly girl was talking nonsense, as though she was reading…  Wait a minute, thought Millie!

“Amber!” she called, “are you reading those words off the ground?”

“Yes!” shouted Amber.

“Is it some big black wobbly letters with really bad spelling?”

“Yes!” shouted Amber again.

Just then, a group of tiny black spiders appeared on the roof; Do worry, they spelt out, We will save who!

Millie smiled with relief as the spiders began to spin a thick rope out of their spider-silk.  They ran round and round the chimney so it was firmly attached, and began to make it longer and longer so it hung off the side of the roof.

“There’s a rope coming down, Millie!” shouted Amber, “Is it yours?  Your helmet is down here, too.  Don’t worry, I’ve got -”

There was another loud CLANG! followed by a loud squeal scream from Amber.  “Spiders!  She yelled, “Your helmet is FULL of disgusting spiders and the floor is COVERED in horrible spiders!  Urgh!”

Millie climbed over the edge of the roof, holding tightly to the rope the spiders had made her.  “They’re not disgusting or horrible,” she shouted down, “They saved my life.”

“And mine!” squeaked Sparkle from the rope just above her.

Amber looked doubtful, but she did stop panicking and waving her arms around.  Millie jumped the last small drop to the ground.  She wiped the tears off her grubby cheeks, the snot off her nose, and picked up her helmet.  Then she turned to give her sister, her gerbil and the spiders a very serious look.

“And now we are going to save their home,” she declared.

Chapter 6

Hardly daring to breathe, the three of them tiptoed into the tunnel that led to the Lobster King’s throne room.  Millie led the way, with Sparkle perched on one shoulder and her helmet carried at her chest, a few spider look-outs peering over the top.  Sparkle had managed to repair some of the damage to her cloak: it would never again look like new, but the magic was working and Millie could fly once more.

Amber followed behind, with her silver armour, shining sword, and the magic cloak of invisibility around her shoulders.

Sparkle’s gerbil ears were pricked up as high as they would go as she listened for any sound of the robot swarm.  So far, everything was quiet.  As they came to a turn in the cave Millie stopped and turned around.

“Is everyone clear about the plan?” she whispered.

Sparkle and Amber nodded; the spiders spelt out Yet.  Millie shook her head at the spiders.  Yeb? they wrote.  Millie shook her head again.  The b flipped over to become a p.  Millie sighed and whispered “Yep.”.

“Once we get to the throne room,” continued Millie, “we have to find the Master Robot.  When I spoke to Metal Pants he told me there will be one robot bigger than the others and coloured red – that’s their leader.  The trouble is this leader will be right at the back, telling them where to go and what to do, but staying safely at the back where it can’t get hurt.  We have to wait until all of the robots come into the throne room and then we can get the leader.  Once we stop the leader all the robots won’t know what to do…probably.”

Sparkle scratched the top of her head with one furry paw.  “In case you’d forgotten,” she squeaked quietly, “We didn’t manage to stay in the cave more than ten seconds last time, and we still only just made it out alive.  This time we’ve got to…”  She stopped suddenly and looked at Millie.  “Wait a minute; did you just say “Probably”?  The robots “probably” won’t know what to do once we stop their leader?!”

“Did I say “Probably”?” asked Millie, “Sorry, I meant to say “Definitely; absolutely and completely definitely”.”

Nobody spoke.

“Look,” whispered Millie, “This time we know what to expect, and we’ve got Amber’s invisibility cloak to hide from them.”

“Well, at least we’ve definitely, absolutely and completely got that,” muttered Sparkle.

Amber pulled the cloak over her head, becoming invisible, to show that she definitely, absolutely and completely did.

The spiders shifted about on Millie’s helmet, writing Let’s gone!

“Go,” sighed Millie, “Let’s go.”

Together, they stepped around the corner into the dark, damp throne room.

Chapter 7

The throne room was absolutely silent, which only made it all the more scary.  The walls seemed blacker, wetter and dirtier.

“I can hear them!  Get ready, they’re coming!” squeaked Sparkle, making everyone jump.

The spiders quickly skittered out of Millie’s helmet so she could put it on, but they stopped suddenly.

Wiat! they wrote, Is not robots. Is just Amber.

Everyone turned back to look at Amber; despite being the bravest six-year-old Millie had ever met she was now trembling with fear, and that was making her metal armour clink and clank together like the robots did.  Millie smiled at her sister and gave her a hug, “Don’t worry, Doob,” she whispered, “Your big sister’s here to look after you; everything’s going to be OK.”

Amber gave a nervous little smile and nodded her head bravely.  Millie chucked her chubby cheeks once and then turned back to face the front.  “I think,” she said in a loud, booming voice, “We’ll need to get their attention another way.  Hey, stupid robots!  Sir Lays, Sir Doob and Sir Sparkle want to have a little chat with you!”

There was a brief moment of silence before Sparkle turned around and nodded at Millie; “Here they come,” she squeaked, then pulled out her shining Markanium sword and turned back to look down the corridor.

“Spiders,” whispered Millie, “everybody out of my helmet and hide somewhere – the ceiling might be best.”

The spiders scurried out of Millie’s helmet, over the floor and across the ceiling to hang just above Millie, who put the helmet on her head.

“OK, you all know the plan, we –“ she began before suddenly whipping her helmet off again, shaking her head and brushing frantically at her hair.  “EVERYBODY out of my helmet!” she squealed.  “I like you, spiders, but stay out of my hair!”

One lone spider scurried sheepishly out of Millie’s helmet and joined the rest on the ceiling.

Millie barely had time to get her helmet on before a tidal wave of tiny robots poured through the entrance and raced across the throne room towards them, their vicious metallic mouths clicking and snapping like thousands of sharp scissors, eager to start biting and chewing the three brave girls.

“Now,” screamed Millie, “The plan!”  And she grabbed Sparkle and Amber, pulling the invisibility cloak around them and using her own flight cloak to lift them up into the air.  It was as though they’d vanished!

The army of tiny robots hissed across the rock floor where their prey been standing until just a second ago; they flooded across the floor, tiny robot brains telling them there was something to gobble up here somewhere.  Almost like water, because there were so many of them, the river of robots flowed up the walls and splashed back down to the floor again, bumping into the thousands more still gushing in.  They covered the floor completely and still more of them came, slowly beginning to fill the throne room.

Millie, Amber and Sparkle floated silently in mid-air, not speaking, hardly daring to even breathe, as they watched the floor disappear and still the carpet of nasty little round grey robots continued to grow, snapping and biting at anything they thought might not be another nasty little round grey robot.

The throne room slowly disappeared beneath the torrent of robots until there were so many that all of the exits were blocked – Millie, Amber, Sparkle and the spiders were trapped!

Then, just as the sea of robots was almost reaching Millie’s foot, the flow of robots seemed to grow a little less, slowing gradually from a torrent to a river, then to a stream, and finally to just a trickle.

At the very end of the trickle, as the never-ending stream of robots finally dried up, there appeared a slightly different robot: he was similar to all the millions of others except that he was much larger, almost as big as a football, a metallic red rather than silver, and the other robots were carrying him along on their backs.

And this one spoke, in a harsh robotic voice.

WE KNOW YOU ARE IN HERE, it said.  YOU WILL SURRENDER TO US NOW.  WE ARE IN CHARGE HERE.  ALL OTHER BEINGS WILL BE CONSUMED.

“Now!” shouted Millie, and throwing off the invisibility cloak she leapt at the Master Robot, swinging her shining sword to slice the horrible red ball in half.  It was an amazing swing, worthy of a true knight, and would have easily sliced the Master Robot in half if it had hit.  But it didn’t.

The Master Robot saw it coming, and with terrifying robot speed ordered his slaves to protect him.  Ten of them jumped in front of Millie’s sword and blocked it.

There was a mighty CLANG! and then a CLANK! as Millie’s sword fell from her bruised hand.  She fell to the floor, landing on the sea of robots and almost immediately beginning to slowly sink down as though it was a metal swamp.

HA HA HA, laughed the Master Robot, although it didn’t sound the least bit funny.  FOOLISH CHILD!  AS LONG AS I AM CONNECTED TO MY SLAVES THEN I CONTROL THEM UTTERLY!  THEY OBEY MY EVERY COMMAND!

“Ow…” hissed Millie through gritted teeth and shaking her badly bruised sword hand.

OH – IT’S GOING TO GET A LOT MORE PAINFUL THAN THAT – I’M AFRAID said the Master Robot nastily, looking at Millie.

“Millie!” screamed Amber from near the ceiling.  She had held onto the magic flying cloak but began to drop down towards her sister to try and help.

“Amber, no!  Stay up there!” shouted Millie sinking further and further into the mass of robots.

YES, AMBER, laughed the Master Robot, STAY UP THERE – WE’LL COME AND GET YOU JUST AS SOON AS WE’RE FINISHED WITH YOUR SISTER!

Millie was up to her waist in the robots now, but none of them were snapping or trying to bite her – they were waiting until she had sunk completely beneath them, only then would the snapping start again.

I’M SO LOOKING FORWARD TO TASTING SOME OF THAT ARMOUR YOU’RE WEARING, MILLIE.  The Master Robot’s eyes glowed red, WITH ROBOTS MADE OF THAT WE SHALL BE INVINCIBLE!

Millie said nothing; the tiny robots were all the way up to her chest now.

HOW DOES THAT FEEL – MILLIE – KNOWING THAT WE ONLY WON BECAUSE OF YOU?

Millie stared at the Master Robot as the robots crept up to her chin.  “No, she said quietly, “That’s not going to happen.”

HA HA HA – YOU STUPID HUMANS, screeched the Master Robot, SO BRAVE AND YET SO STUPID!

All that could be seen of Millie now was one arm thrusting proudly up the sea of robots, slowly disappearing down.

“Millie!” screamed Amber, covering her eyes, “MILLIE!”

HA HA HA HA HA HA, cackled the Master Robot, AND SO IT IS DDDDDDD…

The Master Robot stopped.  So did all the slave robots.

Slowly Amber uncovered her eyes and looked down at the floor.  Millie was scrambling awkwardly out of the mass of robots and smiling at her.  “That was a bit close,” she laughed and pointed towards the ceiling.

Hanging there from a single thick cobweb was the Master Robot; spiders were hauling it up even further and strengthening the strand of webbing.

“’As long as I am connected to my slaves then I control them utterly’, remember?” said Millie.  “Stupid robot; he actually told us how to defeat him!”

Amber gasped and dropped to the floor to give her sister the biggest hug in the history of the universe.  “I thought you were…” she began.

“Always trust your big sister, Doob,” she smiled.  “Although, I have to admit,” and the smile fell away for a moment, “I had a nasty moment there before I noticed the spiders were quietly lowering their web to grab the Master Robot while he was explaining his stupid plan to me.”

There came a banging and clanging from the robots beneath their feet.  Amber’s eyes widened in horror and she struggled to pull her sword from her belt to defend them both but Millie pushed her back, shouting “Run!”

A small furry grey head popped up.  “Here,” squeaked Sparkle, struggling to escape from the deactivated robots, “Could you give me a hand before you go for that run?”

And everybody laughed.

The End

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