Authors: Andy Stanton
Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout
First published 2010 by Egmont UK Limited, 239 Kensington High Street London W8 6SA
Text copyright © 2010 Andy Stanton
Illustration copyright © 2010 David Tazzyman
The moral rights of the author and illustrator have been asserted
ISBN 978 1 4052 5327 7
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
Printed and bound in Great Britain by the CPI Group
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
First e-book edition 2011
For Leah Thaxton, Katie Bennett and
the amazing David Tazzyman
Some of the crazy old townsfolk from Lamonic Bibber
r Gum was a fierce old blister with a face as angry as a thousand walnuts and a big red beard which smelt of menace and beer. He hated children, animals, fun, comics, pop music, birthday parties, books, Christmas, the seaside, computer games, people called ‘Colin’, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fri– Actually, it would probably be quicker to tell you what he liked instead. What he liked was snoozing in bed all day, being a horror and secret hideouts. And the secret hideout he was in right now was the best secret hideout he’d ever seen.
‘This secret hideout’s flippin’ brilliant!’ shouted Mr Gum as he paced up and down in his hobnail boots. ‘It’s got everythin’! Rats! Cockroaches! Pipes what keep drippin’ slime everywhere! An’ it stinks! It’s like what I always imagined Heaven would be! An’ best of all, no one’s ever gonna find us here!’
‘Yeah,’ agreed Mr Gum’s dreadful accomplice, a scrawny butcher by the name of Billy William the Third. Billy was standing by a great iron furnace, shovelling old bits of meat on to the flames. And not just any old old bits of meat, but the stalest, grubbiest, most appalling specimens imaginable. Strings of ancient entrails, withered old horse legs, rubbery turkey necks …
On they all went, on to the flames. Billy was covered in soot and he was dripping with gobs of hot fat, but he hardly noticed. And why? I don’t know, I’m not him. He just didn’t.
‘Faster!’ commanded Mr Gum, hopping from one foot to the other like an unstoppable quail. ‘Shovel them entrails, Billy me boy! Chuck it on, chuck it on! An’ stoke it all up with coal or I’ll bash ya!’
‘Right you are, Gummy me old rattler!’ laughed Billy, chucking on a piece of coal that was twice the size of a piece of coal that was half the size of the piece of coal I’m talking about.
bellowed the furnace. A great long lick of flame flicked out and singed off Billy’s eyebrows, cruel as a scarlet donkey.
‘Ha ha ha!’ cackled Billy, who loved to see people getting hurt. ‘Someone jus’ got their eyebrows burned off!’ Then he realised who that someone was, and he let out a bloodcurdling howl.
yelled Billy, hopping up and down in agony. ‘How come I gotta do all the shovellin’ ‘round here anyway? How come you ain’t doin’ none?’
roared Mr Gum, whacking Billy over the head with a silk handkerchief. He didn’t have a silk handkerchief, so he used a cricket bat instead. ‘We gotta keep gettin’ that power up! We can’t afford to rest for a moment. Now, you carry on shovellin’. I gotta rest for a moment.’
Mr Gum threw himself down on a filthy old sofa he’d found on a rubbish tip, all covered with stains and moss. The cushions were cold and soggy, and a big rusty spring poked uncomfortably into his back, but Mr Gum was such a lazer he didn’t really care.
‘I tell ya, I love this secret hideout,’ yawned Mr Gum as he lay there staring up at the ceiling, his hands behind his head and his head behind whatever was in front of his head, probably just a bit of air or something. ‘This is the life, eh, Billy?’
‘Yeah, this is the life,’ said Billy.
‘Yeah, this is the life,’ said another voice.
‘Who the blimmin’ flip said that?’ shouted Mr Gum.
‘It was I!’ cried a man, jumping out from behind the sofa.
‘I’m Surprising Ben! I pop up here, I pop up there! Surprise! Surprise! I’m everywhere!’
And off he ran, giggling like a packed lunch.
‘Well, that was surprisin’,’ scowled Mr Gum.
‘It certainly was,’ said Billy, chewing a piece of coal to see if he could turn it into a diamond but actually just hurting his teeth. ‘Anyway,’ he continued, spitting it into the fire. ‘Soon we’ll have a blaze so powerful it’ll be the most powerful in history! Even more powerful than itself, even though that’s impossible!’
‘Yeah,’ grinned Mr Gum, rubbing his hands with glee. Then he rubbed his hands with brie, which is sort of the same but a lot smellier. ‘An’ the more powerful that blaze gets, the closer we gets to winnin’ once an’ for all!’
‘Ha ha ha!’ said Billy William. ‘It’s funty!’
And the rats they scuttled and the pipes dripped slime and the vats they bubbled and Billy he shovelled in the secret hideout where the two men hid, cos they were low-down villains and that’s what they did.
ater that day, a nine-year-old girl and an oldish fellow in a nice friendly hat were sitting in the town square watching something very peculiar. It was the clouds. Every now and then one would just fall out of the sky –
– and land on the ground –
See? Very peculiar indeed.
Now, the nine-year-old girl was Polly and the oldish fellow was Friday O’Leary. And if you’re thinking, ‘Who even cares about them, not me, I like stories with heroes in, not stories with some idiotic little girl and a bloke who’s named after a day of the week,’ then I’m afraid you’ve just made an astonishing fool of yourself. Because Polly and Friday were heroes. They were two of the best heroes the town of Lamonic Bibber had ever seen. They were as brave as bees, as true as trees, as cheerful as cheese and as knowledgeable as knees. Not so clever now, are you?
Another cloud flopped out of the sky and landed on a hen, startling it so much that it accidentally laid an egg out of its mouth.