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About the Author

Ed Beedham has been ten years old for 27 years now and
would probably still be at school if someone hadnt told
him he was an adult now. His book is not
autobiographical he has no home made robots, mores
the pity He says he wants to be the next J K Rowling.
Though why he would want to be a blonde lady called
Joanne is anybodys guess

Dedication
This book is dedicated to my darling Vicky who puts up
with the endless tippy-tappying of the keyboard, to
Harry and Oliver, who inspired the stories and to my
family who always had faith.

Edward Beedham

THE BARKING
FAMILY
CHRISTMAS

Copyright Edward Beedham (2015)


The right of Edward Beedham to be identified as author of this
work has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77
and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
publishers.
Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to
this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil
claims for damages.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the
British Library.
ISBN 9781785547935 (Paperback)
ISBN 9781785547942 (Hardback)
www.austinmacauley.com
First Published (2015)
Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.
25 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London
E14 5LQ

Printed and bound in Great Britain

Mind-Blowing
San Francisco is a city in America. In San Francisco bay,
rising out of the sea, is an island called Alcatraz. On
Alcatraz is a prison that once held Americas most
dangerous prisoners until it was closed down; Alcatraz is
one of the worlds most famous prisons but it was never the
worst.
In stormy seas, just two miles off the coast of Scotland,
is a small, rocky island that is always shrouded in cloud and
rain. It has no natural vegetation, no animals; even seagulls
rarely visit. Here on this island, because of its isolation and
the natural spring that supplies fresh water, a secret prison
was built. This was the worst prison ever built. Not because
it wasnt very good at keeping prisoners in; worst as in
horrible. The island was called Ifrinn, the Celtic word for
Hell. The prison kept that name and for good reason. There
was no heating, no light. When the sun went down the
prisoners were kept in darkness. In the daytime, to keep
them busy, they would break rocks with hammers. The next
day they would spend gluing the rocks back together again,
just to give them something to do. The food they ate was
whatever they could catch from the sea fish of various
sorts, squid but mostly seaweed. Sometimes small stones
on particularly bad days. The clothes they wore were made
of nettles by expert grandmothers trained by the
government to knit nettle stems together into clothing
whilst wearing thick leather gloves to protect their hands.
And all day and all night, all they could hear over the sound

of the wind and the sea was a recording of a violin being


played very badly. So they were very, very grumpy.
But do not feel sorry for these men these men were
the worst members of society, thieves and murderers. One
man stole St. Pauls Cathedral and buried it in Yorkshire
where it lay missing for three months until he was caught
and confessed to his crime. Another man sneaked into
Number 10 Downing Street and painted the Prime Minister
and his wife fluorescent yellow in their sleep, just before an
important meeting with the president of America. Another
man used to eat kittens and puppies his name was Pet
Shop Pete. They were not stupid men, though; these were
master criminals, skilled and dangerous and ingenious; one
day, they would find a way off the island but the Barking
family, at home in the Lake District town of Amworth,
knew nothing of Ifrinn or its terrible occupants
***
The human body is made up of sixty percent what?
asked the television presenter.
Dad leaped out of his chair. Custard! he shouted. Dad
loved quiz shows. They were all sitting in the kitchen. Dad
was watching television, Wellington and Napoleon were
playing a game of cards, Josephine was doing her
homework and Mum was sewing the cat into a onesie for
the winter.
On the television, one of the contestants pressed his
buzzer. Water.
Correct, exclaimed the presenter, flashing his sparkly
white, toothy smile. Dad slumped back into his chair in
disappointment. Five points. Question two. What is the
name of the current British prime minister?

Mr. Punch! shouted Dad again, bouncing up and


down in his armchair in excitement.
Youre not very good at quizzes, are you Dad? asked
Josephine.
Oh let him be, it keeps him happy, tutted Mum,
looking up. She had finished sewing the cat into its onesie
and had started cutting a joint of raw beef into large
chunks.
Question three: Neil Armstrong was the first man to
do what? asked the presenter.
Melt, yelled Dad.
No, fool! He was the first man on the moon, snapped
Josephine incredulously. Honestly, I didnt think you were
stupid.
Hes not stupid; everyone has things theyre good at
your general knowledge is excellent but you dont know the
first thing about inventing things.
No, thats true, agreed Josephine. But at least I dont
think that humans can melt.
Crisps? asked Mum passing Wellington and
Napoleon a large bowl of crisps.
What are these? asked Napoleon.
Crisps, said Mum.
Green crisps? asked Napoleon sceptically.
I invented them myself. Theyre Brussels sprout
crisps, said Dad looking rather pleased with himself.
Looks like youre no good at inventing either then,
said Napoleon.
How dare you! Ill show you. Ill invent the most
remarkable invention Ive ever made, youll see! scowled
Dad.
What? A banana-straightening machine? laughed
Wellington.
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Yeah! Or a black window to save money on curtains?


joked Josephine.
How about a machine for ironing trifles? said Mum,
joining in.
Remember Dads multi-storey frying pan? Eggs
everywhere! exclaimed Napoleon.
Well it seemed perfectly sensible to me, said Dad
weakly.
Right. Like your remote-controlled football?
There was nothing wrong with that, said Dad
defensively.
You ruined Amworths chances of winning the league
cup with that ball, accused Wellington.
How was I to know the TV cameras would interfere
with the control? That ball went haywire.
Haywire? Three of our players ended up in hospital
and the goal-keeper still cant remember his own name or
where he lives, said Mum. With all the gubbins inside that
ball it weighed the same as a small planet.
Teething problems, snapped Dad.
Teething problems? If teething problems are that bad
then babies would need false teeth by the time they could
walk.
Ill show you, you Philistines, growled Dad and he
stalked off to his shed.
Do you think we were a bit unfair? asked Josephine.
Dads one of the best inventors in the world.
Of course we were, darling, said Mum, But I need
Dad out of the way to tidy out some of his things. Getting
him out of the house to do some inventing was the best
way.
I suppose so, it just seems a bit mean, mused
Josephine.
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Would you mind taking this down to cousin Lily?


asked Mum, picking up the platter of raw meat she had
finished cutting up.
Yes, Mum, answered Josephine, taking the huge
platter from her.
***
Cousin Lily lived in the cellar. Josephine went into the
hall and put the platter on the floor. The cellar door was
locked and bolted; Josephine slid the bolt back and turned
the key to unlock it. She opened the door, switched on the
light, picked up the platter and went through the doorway
into the stairwell. It was cold and dusty; the stairs were lit
by a bare light-bulb hanging from the ceiling. She closed
the door behind her and walked carefully down the stairs.
At the bottom there were two doors; the left-hand one led
into the store-room where all Mr. Barkings old inventions
were kept. She pushed open the door on her right-hand side
and gingerly stepped into the cellar.
Miss Barking, hello, said a deep baritone voice, posh
and refined and smooth.
Hello, Mr. Kipling, said Josephine. Mr. Kipling was a
charming but temperamental beast with long, curly horns, a
pointy, black, goatee beard, black pools of eyes and six
arms. Mr. Kiplings favourite pastime in all the world was
serving afternoon tea and cakes.
And how are you today, Miss. Barking? asked Mr.
Kipling.
Very well, thank you. Ive brought Lilys lunch, she
said, holding up the platter of meat.
MEAT! In the far corner of the room was Lily, who
spoke or rather shouted in a deep, gravelly voice.
Cousin Lily had a mop of brown hair that looked as if she
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had been dragged backwards through a hedge; she wore a


flowery hat and had one eye in the middle of her forehead.
She was clothed in a hessian sack as a shirt, tracksuit
bottoms, had bare, hairy feet and sticky-out teeth that
looked like a mouthful of dominoes. She was chained to the
wall by a manacle around her left ankle.
Ive got you some meat, Lily, said Josephine kindly.
PETROL! shouted Lily.
Not today, Lily. Petrol gives you terrible wind,
answered Josephine. She crossed the room and laid the
platter down within reach of Lily. Lily scampered forward
and grabbed a handful of juicy raw meat and plunged it
hungrily into her mouth.
She does love her beef, said Mr. Kipling. Will you
come back and visit soon?
Yes, of course, said Josephine as she made her way to
the door. Itll be time for another tea party soon.
Oh lovely, yes. I shall look forward to that, replied
Mr. Kipling with a smile and returned to his armchair, the
only furniture in the whole room apart from two beds. He
picked up the newspaper on the floor beside the chair and
settled down to read.
PETROL!
Goodbye, Lily, goodbye, Mr. Kipling.
Goodbye, Miss Barking.
***
For three days and three nights, Dad spent his time in
the shed in the garden; all manner of extraordinary noises
came from within the shed pings, whirrs, whizzes. And
bangs. Especially bangs and even some noises for which
words have not yet been invented; blorp, would probably

come closest to the sounds. And splink and grahl and


crrrrinsh. Smoke seeped from around the doors, smoke of
every colour, colours even the rainbow lacked. But the
point is that it was all very unusual. The neighbours peered
warily around their curtains at night, wondering what
insanity Dad would bring forth next from his workshop.
They had seen such things before; they remembered the
night of Halloween when Dads trick or treat robot had
clattered uninvited into every house in the street and
emptied them of all food.
It was traditional that the family fed Dad during his
moments of feverish invention with whatever would fit
under the door or through the keyhole. Usually Mum had
pizzas in the freezer to push under the door and potatoes
she could mash and squeeze through the keyhole but this
week she had nothing. In true Barking family style they
improvised.
Youll like this, Dad, shouted Wellington as he fed
lettuce leaves under the door. Dad never answered when he
was working.
And this! shouted Josephine as she used a funnel to
pour yoghurt through the keyhole. There was a faint
slurping sound but nothing else so they walked back up to
the house. Roger the rhino was racing around on the patio
chasing wasps and nearly flattened Han Solo, the dog. Han
Solo was a scruffy, shambling creature who looked as if
hed just been dragged through a hedge backwards and
often had. More than once hed found himself the unwilling
test-pilot for one of Dads inventions and he knew the
signs; he had been watching purple smoke billowing from
the shed and, having narrowly avoided being crushed by
Roger he began to sneak away to a dark corner where he
could hide and not be experimented upon.
Grab the dog! It was Dad, who had emerged with a
clatter from the shed, covered from head to toe in soot and
yoghurt. A lettuce leaf was stuck to his bottom.
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Wellington, always ready to take part in one of Dads


schemes, leaped onto the unfortunate dog and held him
tight as Dad approached.
What have you made, Dad? asked Josephine
inquisitively. In Dads hands was something that looked a
little like a gun. It had a handle, a trigger and a complicated
pointy end with wires and lights along the length of it. It
was bigger and chunkier than a gun and shiny silver. It had
what looked suspiciously like spoons and forks sticking out
from all angles. It hummed quietly; on the top was a dial
that went from zero to three hundred and fifty and above
that a small computer.
Wow! That looks amazing what is it? asked Mum
as she stepped out onto the patio.
This, my beautiful family, is an Intelligence Ray. It
makes you cleverer. I call it my Device for Intelligence
Modification with Wireless Intelligence Transmission.
Now step aside and let me try it on the dog, replied Dad.
Get me the lead, said Wellington who was struggling
to cling to Han Solo who was fighting tenaciously. Its
almost as if he understood what you said.
He cant understand what we say, thats silly, said
Mum handing Wellington a lead. Wellington attached the
lead and tied the lead to the patio table. He stood up and
stepped back hurriedly as Dad pointed the Intelligence Ray
carelessly towards the dog.
Hang on. Device for Intelligence Modification with
Wireless Intelligence Transmission? DIMWIT? Thats a
silly name, observed Josephine.
Oh, so it is. Well spotted. DIMWIT. Thats nice and
short. And easy to remember. Good. Now, the first thing
we have to do is find out what the victims I mean the
test cases IQ is, said Dad.
What does IQ mean? asked Napoleon.

Its a way of measuring intelligence. Its like weighing


yourself I weigh seventy-five kilograms. My IQ is 217.
Usually you do a test of difficult questions and they tell you
your IQ based on how many questions you answer
correctly. Now, though, I can measure it using this piece of
kit. It scans the brain and tells you how intelligent you are.
Look! Dad turned the machine on himself and pulled the
trigger. A beam of red lines shone up and down his
forehead, bleeping and flashing as it did so. The flashing
stopped and with another bleep the numbers 217 came up
on the screen in big red figures. See?
Try it on me! Try it on me! yelled Wellington
excitedly. Dad turned the machine on Wellington and
pushed the screening button. The red beams scanned
Wellingtons head.
Two hundred and five! Very good. Josephine he
scanned her too. Two hundred and twenty one! Were all
geniuses.
Dad scanned Mum, whose IQ was 215 and Napoleon,
too, then turned to the rhinoceros. Right. Lets test Roger.
He aimed the Intelligence Ray at the rhino.
Brrrrrrrr yiiiiiip ting zzzzzzzzz pfff.
That cant be right. It says one hundred and eighty
four, said Dad with a puzzled face.
Is that high? asked Wellington.
Very. Most people have an IQ around one hundred.
Well the rhino cant be that clever, can he? He never
does anything except eat and poo. And chase butterflies,
Wellington pointed out.
True agreed Dad. Or wasps.
So your invention must have gone wrong. Youre not
very good at this inventing lark after all, teased Napoleon.
Maybe not, said Dad dejectedly. Ill have to go and
take another look at it. Keep Han Solo chained up, he
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usually tends to run away for some reason, he said and


sauntered off to the shed, poking at the machine with a
screwdriver.
The family dispersed to get on with the day and
Napoleon skipped across the patio to where Roger was
scratching his ear with his back hoof. He sat down and
drew his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around
his legs.
Hello! he said.
Gnngh! grunted Roger.
You might fool them but you dont fool me, said
Napoleon. One hundred and eighty-four? Thats nearly as
clever as me.
How did you know? growled Roger.
Because I found your designs for a space rocket.
Under your cushion in your basket. Theyre very good,
replied Napoleon.
Thank you. I worked hard on them. Theyre flawless.
Just one thing puzzles me: how do you hold a pen?
asked Napoleon.
Between my toes of course, answered Roger.
Napoleon nodded. You pinched them off Dad, didnt
you?
Roger looked at Napoleon then sighed. Youve got me
there. But I could have done them, he added quickly. As
soon as Ive invented an artificial thumb for a rhinoceros
Ill be able to take over the world.
You wont do that, scoffed Napoleon.
No, youre right, replied the rhino after a moments
consideration. No, Im too comfortable here. Nice house,
warm, well-fed, a garden full of butterflies. Even my poo
gets cleared away for me. Who needs to rule the world? All
that hassle, working out where to send the armies, which

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country to attack next, whether some other evil genius is


going to try and replace me with his own army no, I like
this life.
Napoleon considered this for a moment then said
goodbye and wandered off to do his homework.
***
Ive done it! Ive fixed it, said Dad jubilantly as he
came running up the garden from the shed. The family
gathered around him. Right, stand back everyone.
Han Solo looked gloomily at Dad as Dad pointed the
Intelligence Ray at him. Dad scanned the dog and a figure
flashed up on the screen. Thirty-three? Good Lord. Thats
very low. Ive eaten lettuces cleverer than that, said Dad.
Right. Well I suppose we ought to do something about it,
oughtnt we? How clever do you think we should make
him?
Three hundred! suggested Wellington.
Hmm, Im not sure we should make him that clever,
we dont want a dog thats more intelligent than we are,
said Mum.
No, youre probably right. Two hundred, then, said
Dad decisively. That means hes cleverer than most people
but not as clever as us. He turned the IQ dial to two
hundred.
But this was all too much for Han Solo. For five
minutes he had been chewing steadily on his frayed lead
and with an almighty yank he managed to free himself and
hurtle away down the garden through the trees.
Dad fired his Intelligence Ray but missed. He set off in
hot pursuit, running after Han Solo whose lead trailed
behind him. The family followed behind. As he ran, Dad
aimed the Intelligence Ray at the dog but Han Solo, being
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clever enough already to dodge and swerve, was a difficult


target. He hurdled the gate into the Enchanted Forest Dad
had planted years back. As they ran into the woodland, Dad
hurried through the gate, still firing the Intelligence Ray at
anything that moved.
Careful with that! shouted Mum as she ran behind but
Dad wasnt listening. Huge, sizzling beams of green plasma
shot from the barrel of the machine, bouncing off trees and
getting lost in the canopy overhead.
As they got deeper into the woods the foliage became
more dense and Han Solo began to find the going more
difficult as Dad closed in on him. With a cheer of victory
he raised the DIMWIT and aimed carefully at the dog. He
held his hand steady, aimed, then aaarrrggghhh! ... He
tripped on a log and crashed to a halt in a bramble bush.
The beam of plasma sizzled through the trees, knocking a
red squirrel to the ground.
Ahh, poor thing, cooed Mum.
I know, said Dad, pulling himself out of the brambles.
Im covered in scratches and Ive got thorns stuck in every
little bit of skin Ive got.
Not you, this. Look, continued Mum. She picked the
squirrel up off the ground beneath the tree. It fell out of the
tree.
Dad leaped to his feet. Did it get hit by my DIMWIT?
I think it did, yes, said Mum as she checked to see if
the squirrel was still breathing.
Thats great! Thats fantastic, exclaimed Dad.
The squirrel lifted its head. Speak for yourself, mate,
it said. I feel awful.
Thats amazing! Its fabulous. Youve now got an IQ
of he stopped to check the DIMWIT. Youve now got
an IQ of 200. How do you feel?

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Well I have to say, there are a few things we need to


talk about now that Ive mastered speech, said the squirrel
sitting up in Mums palm. The rest of the family was
gathered round excitedly. Firstly, as Im sure you know,
red squirrels are being pushed out of their habitats by grey
squirrels and I beg you, please dont use that contraption on
any grey squirrels. We do all appreciate very much this
forest that you planted, its given us a haven to live in but
highly intelligent grey squirrels are more than we could
stand.
Dont you like grey squirrels, then? asked Josephine.
Certainly not. Theyre show-offs, all that nonsense
scuttling along washing lines and up and down pipes to get
nuts. Its undignified. Mind you, I wouldnt mind some
nuts, do you have any?
Im afraid not but you could come up to the house
weve got some there, offered Mum.
Oh, I dont think thats a good idea. Im a wild animal;
I cant start becoming domesticated, can I? Besides, Ive
got things to do. Itll be time to hibernate soon and Ive got
lots to do before then. Thanks for the brains! The squirrel
leaped to the ground and ran to the nearest tree.
Whats your name? called Napoleon after the squirrel.
The squirrel paused halfway up the trunk and looked
over. Im a squirrel. Ive never been clever enough to
choose a name. You choose one for me.
Toothpaste! suggested Wellington.
Broccoli! proposed Josephine.
He asked me, Napoleon. I get to choose.
Go on then, pushed Wellington.
Alright. Umm
Come on!
Cement-mixer.

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The squirrel considered this. I like them all, he said


after a moment, I will be Broccoli Toothpaste CementMixer. Cool, yeah? He scampered off up the tree.
He was nice, said Mum as they all turned to walk
back to the house.
Yeah hang on, wheres the DIMWIT? asked Dad
looking around. I dropped it when I fell.
The family searched the forest floor, rummaged
through the brambles and even peered up a few trees but to
no avail there was no sign of the DIMWIT anywhere.
Dad led them back to the house dejected. I never got to try
it on myself, moaned Dad. I was going to go on a quiz
show and win all the prizes.
Well, do you really think it was a good idea anyway?
Messing around with your brain? Its probably best this
way, consoled Mum.
Not to worry, said Dad as they reached the house and
crawled in through the rhino flap, Ill build a new one
tomorrow.
***
Napoleon woke first. It was dark outside; a cool wind
had got up and was rattling the branches and rustling the
leaves on the trees. A silvery light shone in through the
window, the moon high in the sky. He wasnt sure what had
woken him to begin with but then he heard it again, a faint
scratching sound coming from the hall. At first he was
scared so he picked up a wooden sword off the floor and
pushed it hard into the mattress of the bunk-bed above him.
Hey! Dont do that, I was asleep, yelled Wellington.
Shhh! Somethings moving around outside the
windows, whispered Napoleon.

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