Invasion of the Bottom Snatchers
A Comic Science-Fiction Novel for Middle Graders (48,000 words)
After eating a mysterious burger, 11-year-old Needham Gently suddenly loses all of his enormous weight and soon bizarre things start to happen in the town of Bland: kids go missing; adults are not themselves; Principal Ratcliff is being nice, and Needham’s toilet has started talking to him.
When the girl he is in love with, Diana Devine, and then his neighbour, Lakshmi Singh, disappear, Needham and his best friend, Quentin Ambridge, discover that the girls are being experimented on at the Bland Sewerage Works by Ms Ratcliff and an evil scientist, Professor Grimcrack. Our two heroes free the girls and are pursued by Ratcliff – who appears to have superhuman strength – until she is obliterated by a train.
At home, Needham is attacked by his father, and like Ratcliff, it turns out, is a Crapatar – a copy of his real self. At last, the voice in Needham’s toilet tells him its name, Déjà Poo, a monster he thinks he’s met before. It explodes into the house and Needham sacrifices himself to it so that his friends can escape from Bland, which has now been taken over by Crapatars.
Needham wakes up in the Bland Sewerage Works and to his horror learns that the missing children are being forced to make Flab-U-Less Burgers for the biggest fast-food company in the world, Big Orphel Burgers.
However, unbeknown to the company, the burgers have a slight side effect: they make monsters. It turns out Professor Grimcrack had been working with Déjà Poo all along. They transform Needham into a Multi-Bummed Monster to extract a catalyst known as Dark Matter.
Needham’s friends come to the rescue, and in turn, he frees the kidnapped children and then lays waste to the burger factory, unwittingly blasting Déjà Poo with enough Dark Matter to transform it into a gigantic Octopoo. It charges for the largest sewerage works in Australia to open a back door to the universe for The Great Flush Apocalypse – the end of the world.
While Needham’s friends destroy trucks full of the Flab-u-less Burgers from reaching Melbourne, Needham cuts the Octopoooff just before it reaches the sewerage works and forces it into a toilet paper factory. Blinded by the paper, the monster runs headlong into a wind farm and hits the fan. Needham Gently has saved the world…for now.
Yakety Yak: Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle
Travel narrative of a trip I undertook in 2001.