Pete’s Scary Monster
Eve’s little brother, Pete, was only three-and-a-half. He didn’t like loud noises or animals that could eat you. Pete had a wonderfully vivid imagination. Perhaps it ran in the family, because Eve had also been told that she had a vivid imagination. Eve didn’t think she had, particularly. She found that adults were preoccupied with things they said didn’t really exist or could not really happen.
One day a green and blue monster from outer space appeared in the park from within a big puff of smoke. It roared so loudly that Pete was frozen stiff with fear. Flames came from the monster’s mouth and smoke emerged in puffs from its big oval nostrils. As Pete watched in his frozen state, the monster picked up some trees and chewed them for a while before spitting out burning sticks and logs. Then it arched its long neck to suck up water noisily from the duck pond. The monster didn’t stop slurping until all the water was gone and the surprised ducks were left plodding through thick mud. It raised its scaly head as high as the clouds and opened its mouth. Vivid red and yellow flames leapt out once more. Huge plumes of white steam emerged from its nostrils and formed two enormous clouds in the shape of ice cream cones that seemed to rise above all the other clouds. As the steam emerged from the monster’s nostrils there was a loud deep whistle with two different tones that didn’t quite sound right together.
The children in the playground were shaking and crying. They all huddled together under a climbing frame and the few adults that were there did the same. The monster didn’t seem to notice them or Pete. Then there was a huge flash of lightning so bright that everyone had to look away and cover their eyes. A double boom of thunder followed a few moments later. The next thing Pete knew was that the monster had burst into flames and burnt out rapidly, leaving just a smouldering pile of ashes.
That was one experience that had made a deep impression on Pete. Another was a trip on a steam train that he had taken with Eve and their parents. Pete was just three then, not three-and-a-half, so it was understandable that he took a dislike to the steam train as soon as it approached the platform.
The engine was big and black and whistled as it arrived. It belched thick smoke from its chimney and it made a lot of noise. There was steam coming out from underneath the carriages as well. Eve’s dad was delighted to see the train arrive and was very interested in the steam locomotive. He carried Pete in his arms and walked very close to it. Eve held her mum’s hand and they both stayed close to her dad. Pete was glad of the security of his dad’s arms. However, when his dad stepped on the footplate of the engine and was about to climb in to look at the fire and the controls, Pete hollered so much that he decided not to bother after all. Instead, Eve’s mum and dad and the two children went to their compartment in the second carriage and sat on the high seats inside. There were other people in the compartment too and Pete sat on his dad’s lap. Eve was tightly squeezed between her mum and dad. The sensations were unfamiliar to Pete and he was not at home in the compartment. In it there were just two long bench seats that ran crossways and faced each other. Pete found the compartment very claustrophobic, even though there was a door at each side. Of course, at three years of age Pete was not familiar with the words claustrophobic or claustrophobia. He didn’t know that claustrophobia is when you feel uncomfortable in a small or restricted space, but he sure felt that way.
The train took off slowly: choooooo, choooooo, chooooo… choooo, choooo, choooo… choo, choo, choo, choo, choo, choo… Eventually it went ch ch ch ch, ch ch ch, ch ch… and the telegraph poles beside the track shot backwards very fast indeed. The wires between them moved up and down very rapidly too.
Some of the time Eve and Pete could see white smoke billowing in the sky just above the carriage. There were whiffs of smoke from time to time too, particularly when they went through a tunnel. Pete hated that because of the darkness, the noise and the smoke that irritated his throat and caused a disagreeable taste in his mouth. The journey seemed to last a long time. When they got to their destination they were again in a crowd of people looking at the steam locomotive. It was a monster of a thing and Pete had no interest in delaying any longer, but he had to stick it out until his parents were ready. The family went for a walk and had a picnic before returning to the station. The locomotive of the return train was a regular diesel type. It didn’t produce much smoke and was less noisy. Eve’s parents and the children didn’t even go to look at it closely.
Pete had had a nightmare that night. He woke up crying and feeling frightened. His mum and dad reassured him and tucked him in again. He was fine after that.
Eve was very fond of her little brother, Pete, and she respected his feelings. She had enough common sense to know that monsters needed to be treated with respect. She also knew that steam locomotives could be scary, even for a big girl!
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