Horrid Henry Meets God It was Sunday. “Rats,” said Horrid Henry, “I hate Sundays.

” Sundays should have been great days. A whole day without school. A whole day to play in the Purple Hand Fort, or watch TV, or play computer games, or splat Peter with a goo shooter, or climb trees, or tease dogs, or, or, or…so many things. But no. Henry had to have stupid annoying parents who go to church. Church! Yeuk. Smart clothes. Boring hymns. Boring vicar. Stupid prayers. Every week Henry prayed for a lightning bolt to strike the church and blow the whole place up, but God always ignored him. Perhaps he should pray for something else this week. Hmm….Yes! Henry could pray for Peter to be turned into a jellyfish, or for Miss Battle-Axe to be turned into a giant squid with bionic tentacles, or for Mum to grow a huge beard, or, or…wait a minute. Henry realised he was confusing God with a fairy godmother. He had never heard of God granting wishes. Rats. Stupid God. “Henry!” Shouted Mum. “It’s time to go to church.” “Rats,” thought Henry as he pulled on his ironed shirt. “Rats. Rats. Rats,” he thought , as he tied the shoelaces on his polished shoes. “Big piles of stupid rats.” After church and after lunch Henry had a friend round to play. Henry and Rude Ralph were in Henry’s bedroom playing with Army Man. Army Man had been captured by enemies and was being tortured. The enemies had already cut off some of Army man’s fingers with Mum’s nail clippers, and were about to chop off his head with a nail file, when there was a knock at the door. “What?” Shouted Henry, leader of the enemy army. The door opened, and there stood Perfect Peter and his playmate, Teeny Tiny Timid Tommy. “Henry,” said Perfect Peter, “I‘ve lost Fluffy Woof Woof. Have you seen him?” Fluffy Woof Woof was Peter’s favourite doggy teddy, which Henry had stolen yesterday. “I have no idea where your stupid Froggy Poo Poo is, you baby worm.” Barked Henry. “He’s Fluffy Woof Woof, and I’m not a worm,” whined Perfect Peter. “Yes you are, and so’s your friend…..BOO!” shouted Horrid Henry in Teeny Tiny Timid Tommy’s face. Both boys ran off, screaming for Mum. In the brief silence before Mum came charging up the stairs, Henry could hear the soft bumping noise being made by Fluffy Woof Woof as he knocked against the inside of his cupboard door. Henry had hung him upside down from his clothes rail, and he was swinging in a draft. “Your brother is a real weed,” said Rude Ralph. “I know,” grumbled Henry. Then Mum came in. Later on, in bed, Henry was still fuming. It was so unfair. Other people had little brothers who liked normal things like goo shooters and pirates and mud and catapaults and frogs. But Henry had to have a wormy weedy brother who liked things like flowers and school and sewing and homework and parents and loads of other weedy stupid stuff. Why couldn’t Henry have a cool brother? Why was he stuck with Pukey Pointless Peter? “Henry,” said a small still voice. “Henry.” 1 “Wh.. wh.. who’s that?” stammered Henry, a bit scared.

“Over here, Henry,” said the calm voice, “in the fish tank.” “What?” said Henry. The fish tank? What was going on? Henry looked over in the corner where his fish tank sat on the little table. It was bubbling away, as usual, but unusually it was glowing with a strange light. As soon as he saw the light, Henry wasn’t scared anymore, and he went over to investigate. Henry’s goldfish was floating there, looking at Henry. Henry looked back. Wait a minute, thought Henry, that fish is wearing….trousers. “Ah, Henry,” said the fish, “I’ve been meaning to get back to you. I’ve decided against the bionic tentacles for Miss Battle-Axe, and I don’t think your Mum would like a beard.” “Sharky?” was all Henry could say. “Oh, I’m just borrowing Sharky for a minute, he doesn’t mind.” said the fish. “Trousers?” said Henry, who couldn’t quite close his mouth. “Yes, they’re rather natty, aren’t they? I’m thinking of putting them on all the fish next time. Now, Henry, I haven’t got long. You’re fed up with your brother, and I’m fed up with all your moany prayers about him. So, for the next day Peter will be cool. I’ll be back tomorrow night to see if you’re happy. OK?” “Uuh?” grunted Henry. “OK,” said Sharky. “See you tomorrow night.” There was a little pop, the trousers vanished and the light went out. “Sharky?” said Henry. But the fish just swam around, opening and closing his mouth. Henry wasn’t sure what had just happened, and didn’t know whether he was dreaming or not. He tapped on Sharky’s glass a few times, shook his head, and went back to bed. Henry was down to breakfast before Peter the next morning. Mum and dad were sitting quietly reading their newspapers. Henry was seeing how many Ricy Krispos he could fit in his ear, when in walked…Peter? He looked like Peter, but the child who had come in had short spiky hair. He was wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket with “The Dude” written in big red letters on the back. He had on tight blue jeans and shiny pointy-toed cowboy boots. “Yo, family members” said Peter in a Californian surfer accent. “Yo, Petie” said Mum and Dad together, in their normal accents. Yo? Petie? What was going on? “What are you wearing, wormface?“ said Henry. “Hey Big H,” said Peter, waving at Henry, “Like the jacket, do you? The guys at school gave it to me. Something about me being voted ’coolest dude of the year’. And ‘wormface’ is pretty lame, big bro. Why not try ’obstreperous oaf’ next time? That wouldn’t be bad. Hey, M and D, think I’ll skip breakfast and go for some decaf latte. Like, no time to waste. Miss Lovely and I are doing brunch at playtime, if you know what I mean?” Mum and Dad giggled. WHAT WAS GOING ON? Something was wrong. Very wrong. Henry didn’t know why, but he was suddenly very angry. He was a tiger stalking his prey. He pounced, aiming to grab Peter’s throat. His hands, however, never made contact. Peter did something very quickly, and very easily, and Henry found himself lying on his back, arms pinned to his side and with Peter sitting on his chest. Henry couldn’t move. 2 “Hey, not a bad move, Big H,” drawled Peter, “but it was a bit, like, obvious, man. If you want to help me practise for the international Jiu Jitsu competition, you’ll

have to, like, do a bit better. I’ll give you some tips later, in the garden, if you want, but only if you’re, like, up for it.” Peter winked. WHAT WAS GOING ON? Henry could not understand. Peter, an international martial arts expert who had ’brunch’ with his teacher? Mum and Dad giggling? Coolest dude of the year? When Peter let him go, Henry ran upstairs to his room. He went over to Sharky’s tank. “Sharky, what have you done?” shouted Henry. Sharky said nothing. He just swam a lazy backward somersault and then floated in front of Henry’s nose, opening and closing his mouth. Things didn’t get any better at school. Henry and Peter walked through the school gates together. Henry was thinking about how he and Rude Ralph could tease Peter about his stupid clothes. Before Henry could do anything, though, someone shouted, “There he is!”, and all the girls in the playground screamed. There was a mad rush, and Henry found himself shoved out of the way by a mob chanting “Petie! Petie! Petie!” Henry was pushed over, and was left sitting by himself on the ground while Peter was lifted up onto someone’s shoulders and carried off towards the school hall. A piece of torn newspaper blew onto Henry’s lap. “SCHOOLBOY SENSATION’S FIRST SINGLE TOPS CHARTS” Screamed the headline, over a picture of…Peter? WHAT WAS GOING ON? Henry stumbled over to the hall to find Peter up on the stage, standing with his arms outstretched whilst the whole school cheered, screamed and, yes, fainted. Three little girls were being carried out past Henry. One opened her eyes and moaned, “He is sooo dreamy,” Suddenly a loud beat started thumping around the hall, Peter had a microphone in his hand, everyone started doing the same dance as each other and Peter started singing. He sounded…..good. It was a good song. Henry’s toes started tapping by themselves, and he found himself copying the dance moves everyone else was doing. All at once he was surrounded by photographers, snapping and flashing. “Look,” said one of them “I can see the headline- ‘Sickly brother tries to do the Petie dance!’” Sickly brother? Petie Dance? WHAT WAS GOING ON? Disgustedly Henry turned away and stomped upstairs to his classroom. Shouldn’t classes have started by now? Surely there was some schoolwork to be done? Henry sat alone at his desk and opened a book. FLASH! SNAP! A photographer was at the doorway. “Bookworm brother studies while Petie performs!” he cackled “Brilliant!” and the photographer was gone. The rest of the day was a blur for Henry. Everyone mobbing Peter for his autograph (Miss Battle-Axe came into class with “PETIE ” scrawled in marker pen on her arm), all his so-called friends asking him what it was like living with ‘Petie‘, cameras flashing and all the teachers looking at him with pity, muttering “poor little Henry“ 3 before patting him on the head and walking away. Henry could not stand it. He kept saying

“He’s just a wormy little weed.” But no one was interested. At going home time Henry stood on the pavement with Peter, and a group of about one hundred simpering girls, waiting for Mum to pick them up. “Hey big H” said Peter “How’s tricks, man” “Shut up, worm” mumbled Henry. “Hey, OK dude. I understand the whole green eyed monster thing. I’d be jealous if I was my brother, so it’s cool. Hey, here’s the wheels.” A huge white limousine had pulled up. The door swung open, and inside were Mum, Dad, a photographer and a big fat man in a white suit. “Ah Petie, my little golden egg,” said the fat man. “Climb in. Climb in. And who’s your little pal?” “Yo Mr. F, manager man,” said Peter, giving the man a high five “ this is my big bro, Big H” “Ah, the Big H.” said the fat man, “heard much. Heard much. Poor little lad. Chin up. Chin up. Eh?Eh?” “We’re off to Petie’s celebration party,” said mum. “You’d think it was horrid, Henry. You wouldn’t cope, so take yourself off home. I’ve left a sandwich in the fridge. Don’t wait up. Put yourself to bed later. Byeee.” Pop star Petie jumped into the limo, shouted “later dude” over his shoulder, the door closed and the car swished off. Henry sighed and trudged wearily home. He tried to be enthusiastic about being left alone in the house. Being able to sit in the big chair and watch TV, or play computer games for as long as he wanted. Henry did these things, but every TV channel was showing Peter’s pop video, or showing news reports ’Live from Petie’s party’. Every computer game in the house was “Petie’s Kung Fu Kickmaster” or “Petie’s Kung Fu Kickmaster II”, both of which involved Peter beating up hordes of baddies, all looking suspiciously like Henry. Henry gave up. He went upstairs and climbed into bed. Henry felt very alone. He went over to his cupboard, rescued Fluffy Woof Woof , and snuggled up with him under the covers. “It is so unfair” Henry sniffed quietly. Henry woke up with a jolt. His fish tank was glowing again. Henry rushed over. “Oh Sharky, thank God you’re back.” “Yes. Quite.” said Sharky in his calm voice. Sharky was wearing a little Tshirt which said ’Petie is the coolest’ around a picture of Peter’s beaming face. “So, Henry. What’s it like to have a cool brother?” “Oh, it’s awful, Sharky” blurted Henry “ He sat on me. My friends ignored me. Mum and Dad ignored me. Everyone thought I was ill. The TV was all about him. Even my computer games were about him.” Henry started to sob. “It’s been the worst day ever.” 4 “Hmm,” said Sharky. “ So maybe your little brother is fine the way he was?” “Yes, Sharky,” pleaded Henry “Oh yes, yes, yes.” “No more complaints?”

“No Sharky.” “Good. Everything is back to how it was. Today never happened. But, if you go back to being mean, it’s back to Pop star Petie. OK?” Henry sniffed, and wiped his nose with his pyjama sleeve. “Ok, thanks Sharky.” he said. “Remember Henry,” said Sharky “ I’ll be watching. Bye.” There was a little pop, the T-shirt vanished and the light went out. It was a very quiet Henry who came down to breakfast. Everyone else was already up and sitting round the table. Henry held Fluffy Woof Woof out to Peter. He half closed his eyes and waited for the “Hey, cute fluff ball, man”, but instead Peter cried out, “Ooh you found him! Thank you Henry.” Henry had never before been pleased to hear his brother’s whiny little worm voice, but today he was ecstatic. He nearly flung his arms round Peter’s neck. “Good boy, Henry.” Said Mum. Henry felt a little glow of satisfaction in his tummy. Mum was OK, really. Suddenly Henry had a marvellous stupendous idea. He ran into the living room and grabbed the phone book. He flicked through to the ‘Ms’, looked down the list of ’music managers’, cried out “Aha” and dialled a number. “Yo, Mr. F, manager man,” he said in a Californian surfer accent, “I am going to be your like golden egg, man. Listen to this.” Henry started singing ’Petie’s’ song. His voice wasn’t great, but the song still managed to sound good. Mum and Dad appeared in the doorway and started tapping their feet. “Hey, whoever you are,” said Mr.F on the other end of the phone, “ I like, I like. Let’s do brunch.” “YES!” shouted Horrid Henry.

Nick Woodhead July 2008


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