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Contests

"What Happens Next?" Roald Dahl Sequel Contest

This contest ran at the beginning of 2004 and invited readers to write their own sequel to a Roald Dahl story. I received lots of excellent stories! They were so much fun to read. Congratulations to Louise Stankevicius and J. Wiltz for their prize-winning entries, which you can read below. Both winners received $25 Amazon.com gift certificates. Thanks to everybody who participated!


Continuation of Matilda by Louise Stankevicius:

"Rotten Luck"

Wait! Hold on- come back! The book hasn't finished yet!

Pardon?

....Yes, I know everything ended up fine and dandy, but there's still more to the story!

Sorry, what was that?

....Sure, go ahead. I'm not forcing you to read what happens afterwards. If you like the way it ends with Matilda being adopted by Ms Honey, the Wormwoods leaving the country for good and Ms Trunchbull vanishing out of town never to terrorise the school again, then please- be my guest to leave.

But aren't you curious about what REALLY happened to Ms Trunchbull? Or if Matilda and Ms Honey REALLY live happily ever after? Or what REALLY happened to the Wormwoods after they fled from the police?

........Yes, I knew it! Of course you do! So sit back down in the comfiest chair you can find........what?

Yes, yes, ok- or in bed with a mug of hot chocolate if you like, (whatever you choose), and be prepared to be astonished throughout the next few pages of what REALLY happened after the so-called 'happy ending' of Matilda.......

* * * * *

.......Matilda and Ms Honey stood in front of the neatly-trimmed hedge, waving, as they watched the Wormwoods roar away down the street in a cloud of dust, screeching as they turned tightly around the corner, never to be seen again.

Matilda sighed dreamily as they climbed the steps up onto the front porch that joined on to the large, pretty white house that Ms Trunchbull no longer owned.

"You don't know how long I've been wishing for this day to come," Matilda told Ms Honey happily, giving her hug around the waist.

Ms Honey laughed and slipped her hand into Matilda's as they stepped in through the front door onto the polished wooden floorboards and past the marble staircase where Ms Honey used to slide down upon it's bannisters as a girl when her father had still been alive.

Words couldn't explain how delighted and thankful she was to have someone as special as Matilda staying with her. It was like, to Ms Honey, having her very own daughter that she'd had always wanted. Or even just like a little sister.

They walked into the clean, sparkling white kitchen where Matilda pulled out the fanciest cutlery she could find to help celebrate while Ms Honey took some food out of the fridge and began to make sandwiches for them both.

After lunch had been set on the table and drinks had been poured, they were just tucking in when Ms Honey began laughing into her bread crusts.

"What's so funny?" Matilda asked after quickly swallowing the rest of her orange juice.

Ms Honey put down her sandwich and laughed again.

Matilda looked at her strangely. "What? What is it?" she wanted to know.

After awhile, Ms Honey calmed down though her eyes still sparkled with peals of laughter.

"I was just thinking about the time when Lavender put a 'snake' in Ms Trunchbull's water jug. That was quite a show I must admit."

Matilda giggled and nodded, taking another bite of her chicken sandwich. "Ms Trunchbull looked like she'd seen a ghost!"

Ms Honey suddenly looked thoughtful. "Mmmm...I wondered what ever happened to her?"

Matilda poured herself another drink. "Who cares about that witch? She's gone now, and that's all that matters."

Ms Honey smiled and picked up her sandwich again, clinking hers with Matilda's as they exploded into giggles.

"I know, and it's all thanks to you."

* * * * *

"MOVE IT YOU ROTTEN CAR! I'LL KILL THAT WORMWOOD WHEN I GET HOLD OF HIM!" Ms Trunchbull exploded angrily as her car began to cough and splutter loudly as it crawled slowly along the road, stopping every few metres.

"LOAD OF TOSH THIS BLIMMIN' CAR WAS WORTH!"

She kicked the dashboard viciously in frustration.

BANG! The car suddenly backfired and with a final last *cough*, the engine died out completely.

"ARGHHHH!" Ms Trunchbull thundered in aggravation and threw open the door, heaving herself out.

Thick white smoke had already begun rising out from underneath the bonnet.

Snarling, Ms Trunchbull stomped over to the front of the car, the ground shaking violently with every step she took, and flung open the hood.

She peered in.

"WORMWOOD YOU TWIT!" she shrieked so loudly that all the birds sitting on the power lines got a fright and suddenly took flight.

Sawdust.

The entire engine was choked to the top with sawdust.

"YOU CROOK! YOU WORM! YOU CHEAT! I'LL MURDER YOU! I'LL MURDER YOU LIKE AN ANT UNDER A MAGNIFYING GLASS!" Ms Trunchbull spat like a venomous snake.

But no matter how many ways she tried to get her cheap car to start up again, (including rearranging all the engine parts), nothing Ms Trunchbull did made any difference what-so-ever to the current condition of the vehicle.

It was no use.

Hours later, Ms Trunchbull appeared from out of underneath the car in a frightful mess. Oil, torn clothing, scratches, cuts and bruises covered her entire body and to end it off; a face full of rage.

By now the sun was just beginning to dip behind the horizon and night was settling upon her. By now Ms Trunchbull had no choice but to start the long walk, growling and snarling, back to town...

* * * * *

It was another usual school morning once again at Crunchem Hall. The day was cold and dreary, rain lashing hard against the classroom windows. Lightning ripped through the sky like giant electric forks as thunder rumbled loudly in the background.

Normally this kind of weather made both the teachers and the students feel depressed and start complaining about wet-weather lunch inside.

But today something was different.

Something in the atmosphere was brighter than usual despite the grey skies.

Children skipped and whistled instead of trudging slowly down the halls to their lockers. Teachers laughed and shared coffee with choc-chip biscuits instead of grumbling in the mornings about the day ahead. And even the little patches of grass here and there around the school looked green and lush instead of brown and droopy.

But what was the reason behind this strange behaviour?

What was this magic?

The answer was simple-

THE TRUNCHBULL WAS GONE FOR GOOD!

It was a day of such rejoice at the school that it should have been made a public holiday.

In her new principal's office, Ms Honey was just settling down behind the large mahogany desk as she placed a fresh bouquet of yellow sunflowers in a vase.

She leaned over and breathed in.

'Ahhhh,' she thought, smiling. 'There's nothing like the sweet sense of bright sunflowers...no wonder the bees go for them!'

Knock, knock, knock!

Ms Honey looked up.

"Come in!" she called.

The door opened and Matilda stepped in.

"Good morning, Ms Honey," she greeted her.

"Matilda!" Ms Honey said in surprise. "What are you doing here? Class started ten minutes ago, didn't it?"

Matilda nodded. "That's why I'm here."

Ms Honey frowned. "There's no trouble in sixth grade already is there? Is the work too hard? Too easy? What's wrong?"

Matilda laughed. "Calm down, Ms Honey! My teacher sent me here to ask if you had a spare box of chalk- we've run out."

Ms Honey sighed with relief and leaned back in her chair, also laughing.

"Well, that I can deal with. Hang on while I go look in the cupboard for you."

Matilda leaned against the desk as she waited.

Briiiing, briiiing! Briiiing, briiiing! The telephone sprung into life.

Matilda jumped.

Ms Honey stuck her head out from inside the cupboard.

"Could you please get that, Matilda?"

Matilda reached over the desk and picked up the receiver.

"Hello?"

"Yes, hello. This is Dr Thomas from the Town Hospital. Is this Ms Jennifer Honey?"

"Um, no, this is her dau- this is her daughter," Matilda told him, pleasure running through her body like warm, golden sunshine as she said the last phrase. "I'll just go fetch her for you."

Matilda covered her hand over the mouthpiece.

"Ms Honey!" she called. "Ms Honey!"

Ms Honey poked her head out.

"Who is it?" she asked.

"A doctor from the Town Hospital. He says he wants to want to talk to you!"

She reached out her hand out and Matilda gave her the phone. Ms Honey pressed it up against her ear.

"Hello?.....Yes, this is her.......yes......yes......you've what?!" Ms Honey exploded in surprise mixed with shock, ".........she was where?!........pull the other one!.....bring her back here?!" She shot her free hand up in the air. "......are you crazy?!......yes, yes, I know.........I just don't think it's a very good idea......she's what?!......well.......yes but-........I suppose so........just until she gets better though.......mmmm.......so are you ABSOLUTELY positive she's too weak to do any harm?......well, if you're sure........today?.........now?.......but

I really can't......no, I-.....well....maybe I could duck out for a couple of minutes.....mmmm......yes, yes, ok......alright, thank you. Goodbye Doctor."

Ms Honey slowly hung up.

Matilda looked at Ms Honey, her eyes full of wonder.

"What was that?" she asked.

Ms Honey sighed and sat down in her chair, rubbing her forehead.

"I'm afraid I have the feeling you won't be very keen on the news I have just received."

Matilda frowned. "What is it?"

Ms Honey took a deep breath. "Ms Trunchbull was found unconscious by hikers in the forest after falling down an animal trap."

Matilda's eyes opened real wide. "Oh my gosh! You're pulling my leg, aren't you!"

Ms Honey smiled vaguely. "That's what I thought when the doctor told me."

Matilda looked confused. "But there's one thing I don't get. What's this got to do with us? Surely they don't need us to go down the hole and fetch her out."

Ms Honey put her head down on the desk. After a long time she finally said, "Not exactly fetch her out of the hole as such......but out of the hospital to stay with us."

* * * * *

Ms Honey pulled the car to a stop as the traffic light changed from yellow to red. Matilda was sitting beside her in the passenger seat looking the rain splattered window feeling depressed. The worst thing that could possibly happen had happened. She still couldn't get over the shock.

'The Trunchbull is staying with us.....in the same house....she'll be there day and night....a living nightmare right in the next room......it's horrible....' Matilda thought to herself, struggling to try and let the sudden news sink in. It wouldn't.

Ms Honey patted her hand soothingly. "Don't worry," she told Matilda even though she was worrying herself, "It won't be that bad," she gulped and added, "I hope."

'Think positive,' Matilda thought, her eyebrows furrowing as she concentrated on the good side. After a while the facts faced her head on. 'There was no good side!'

ms Honey turned the car into the hospital car park. The grey-bricked building loomed up high into the grey, cold skies. Grey. Everything was grey....nearly matching Matilda's mood who's was a shade darker.

They swung open the car doors and stepped out onto the grey concrete. Together Ms Honey and Matilda walked towards the front sliding doors of the building looking like they were on their way to a funeral.

Inside, nurses and doctors were rushing about in every direction possible, clutching clipboards to their chests and disappearing down the hallways, attending to the many sick patients. Ms Honey closely followed by Matilda made their way over to the front desk where a plain, bored looking lady sat behind filing her nails.

"Um, excuse me," Ms Honey said.

The lady didn't look up.

"Excuse me!"

Still, the lady kept her head down.

Ms Honey cleared her throat loudly and tapped her hand on the counter.

The lady continued to examine her nails.

Ms Honey reached over and took the filer from her hands .

The lady looked up. "Yes?" She asked in a dull sounding voice.

"We're looking for Agatha Trunchbull, please. She was brought in last night."

The lady blinked. "Which ward?"

Ms Honey looked at Matilda for help. "Which ward?" she whispered.

Matilda stood on tiptoes so her head was just visible from behind the desk. "The unconscious ward, thank you," she said in a polite voice.

The lady blinked again. "Don't bother yourselves, I'll just find her myself."

After shuffling through some papers and entering something into the computer, she finally found it.

"Agatha Trunchbull, admitted 11:48 pm last night, injuries to the head and body, stable, room 436; up three levels, down the hall and to your right," the lady droned looking as though she were about to fall asleep any second.

"Thank you," Ms Honey replied as she and Matilda walked off towards the lifts.

The lady who was already back to her nails merely grunted.

On the way up in the lift Ms Honey reminded Matilda, "Don't go too close to the bed- stay a couple of metres away at the least. I know I may sound a bit too cautious but trust me, you never know what Ms Trunchbull is capable of doing, even when she is unconscious."

Matilda nodded. If she was allowed, she might even stay out in the hall.

Ding!

The lift doors opened up to reveal a long, narrow hallway lined with doors crammed next to each other on either side. They stepped out and searched for number 436.

"I found it!" Matilda called out finally from the very end of the hallway.

Ms Honey walked over to where Matilda was gesturing towards.

They looked at each other.

"Now what?" Matilda asked.

Ms Honey shrugged. "Go inside, I guess."

They both stood there waiting for the other to take the lead.

"Who's going to open it?" Matilda whispered finally.

"Not me!"

"Nor me!"

"Let's open it together then," Ms Honey suggested. "One...two...three!"

Slowly, they both turned the knob and the door swung open.

They peeped in. It looked like a regular enough hospital room; spotless white tiles, a small television in the top corner, weird machines and gadgets hooked up everywhere you looked, a faint whirring sound humming in the background and a bed with a humungous lump under the sheets.

They both let out sighs of relief. Matilda wasn't sure what she had expected though. Maybe a scene that screamed rage with broken glass and holes in the walls. Tiptoing as quietly as possible despite the squeaking sound their shoes made on the wet floor, Ms Honey and Matilda cautiously approached the bed. The lump stayed still.

"Can Ms Trunchbull hear us?" Matilda wondered.

"Well, I don't suppose she could. She is unconscious after all," Ms Honey replied. "Let's just wait until the doctor arrives. He should be here any minute now."

There was only one small, hard plastic chair in the room on which Ms Honey sat down on. Matilda stood while she waited.

One minute passed....then two....then three....then four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten minutes passed.

Ms Honey glanced at her watched and tapped her foot impatiently. "I wonder where the Doctor could be?"

Matilda shrugged. Here feet were getting sore from standing.

"ACHOO!"

Matilda jumped in surprise about a metre into the air.

"Bless you," said Ms Honey.

"But I didn't sneeze," Matilda replied, waiting for her heart to return back to normal pace, but instead getting rapid.

The tiny hairs prickled on the backs of both their necks as they Ms Honey and Matilda both automatically turned their heads to face Ms Trunchbull; the only other person in the room.

"Are unconscious people supposed to sneeze?" Matilda whispered.

"I don't think so," Ms Honey replied slowly.

Matilda gulped loudly.

Suddenly they heard soft chuckling from over near the door. It was the doctor.

"Sorry if I scared you two," he said grinning and wiped his nose with a hankerchief. "I had a slight tickle."

Ms Honey laughed nervously while Matilda sighed with relief.

"Sooooo......" Ms Honey began.

"Sooooo......" Matilda said trying to help her out.

"Sooooo......" Laughed the Doctor.

There was a pause. Finally Ms Honey broke the silence by asking, "Sorry if this might sound a bit silly, but are you sure that it's not dangerous to be moving Agatha while she's in this state?" she said with a tiny twinge of hope the Doctor would agree and send them back home. "I mean-"

The Doctor laughed, cutting her off and shook his head. "No, no, no that won't be neccessary. As I said on the phone, she's not in a critical condition, just knocked out. It will be quite safe I assure you. I'm afraid all she needs is bed rest. Besides, unfortunently there has just recently been a bus accident and we don't have many spare beds, (busy roads-it's nearly the holiday season, what can I say?) so we need all the free space we can get. It is a public hospital after all. We're always running into problems like this."

Ms Honey nodded disappointedly, looking like she understood fully.

"So how exactly are we to move her then?"

As if on cue, two strong looking men with muscles as big as boulders bulging out of their arms walked in, each holding onto one end of a stretcher.

"Like this," the doctor replied simply.

The men moved over to the bed and (grunting and panting) began trying to lift the beastly woman out of the bed and onto the stretcher. It wasn't until half an hour later with five extra men helping, including a weight-lifter who happened to be visiting someone in the hospital at the time, when they finally managed to lift Ms Trunchbull and drop her gratefully on the stretcher, beads of sweat running down their red, flushed faces.

Sighs of relief rippled through the room but suddenly stopped short when they realised they still had to carry her out to the ambulance truck.

* * * * *

Matilda woke up the next morning feeling sick. She wasn't sure if it was a real stomach ache or due to the fact that Ms Trunchbull was just down the hall. Whatever the reason, it was certain that Matilda couldn't possibly attend school after throwing up several times in the bathroom.

So, as Ms Honey due to leave for Crunchem Hall, she tucked Matilda into bed for the day with a cup of hot lemon tea and a book to keep her occupied.

"Now, Matilda," Ms Honey said as she straightened the sheets one last time, "While I'm gone you aren't to go into Ms Trunchbull's room. It's not that I don't trust you," she added quickly, "it's just I don't want any accidents to happen especially when I'm not around."

Matilda nodded, still feeling weezy. She didn't want to open her mouth and answer in case she was sick again.

Ms Honey understood and after giving her one last hug, she left on her bicycle down the street. Matilda watched until she was out of view, wishing she was going with her.

An hour had passed when Matilda finally managed to finish the last page of the book. She sighed, yawned, stretched, yawned again and stretched some more. She couldn't help but feel sad thinking about what might be going on in class that very moment while she lay in bed feeling miserable. To cheer herself up for the time being, Matilda pulled out some paper and began working on some math problems.

Soon enough, after the rest of the tea had been sipped down, it was time for another trip to the bathroom once again for the fifth time that morning.

On her way back past Ms Trunchbull's room, Matilda heard something unusual...something unexplainable...something that made her stop dead in her tracks.

A cackle.

An evil cackle. It wasn't very loud but definently a cackle. Forgetting about what Ms Honey had said that morning about staying well away, Matilda slowly opened the spare bedroom door with a long "creeeeeeeeeeeak."

Ms Trunchbull lay as still as ever in her bed, face frozen and expressionless like a stone.....maybe even more so.

Matilda closed the door assuring herself it was nothing more than.....well.....a bird outside the window.....not that she had ever heard a bird sound like that. But it was close enough to satisfy her thoughts for the time being. Besides, she felt too sick to investigate into it just at that moment. Matilda simply shrugged and crept slowly back into bed.

* * * * *

Later that night Matilda woke up in darkness with a start having just emerged from a bad dream. Breathing hard and eyes opened wide with fright, she clambered clumsily out of bed and made her way to Ms Honey's room for comfort when suddenly she heard a door knob through the heavy silence slowly being turned.

Matilda quickly slipped into the bathroom and squinted through the crack between the door and the wall.

A large, dark figure tip-toed out from Ms Trunchbull's room and soundlessly crept down the hallway and down the stairs, sniggering quietly as it went. Scared but intruged, Matilda followed it. It was pitch black so it was hard to see where she was going.

"Ow!" Matilda whimpered silently as she stubbed her toe on something hard.

The figure, cast by dark shadows so Matilda couldn't make out who or what is was, made it's way into the kitchen and cautiously opened the fridge.

The light inside it clicked on.

Ms Trunchbull! Matilda nearly cried out in surprise when she saw her. 'I thought she was supposed to be unconscious!'

Snickering, Ms Trunchbull pulled out enough food fit for a banquet and began shovelling it into her mouth. Matilda wouldn't be surprised if she began to choke.

But if Ms Trunchbull has been faking it all this time, why is she doing this?

As if answering for Matilda, Ms Trunchbull laughed to herself while she continued to cram food into her mouth...

"Agatha, you are a genius!" she said, food spilling out of her mouth as she talked and had a sip of coke out of the bottle, "First you kill Magnus Honey with that beautifully aimed gun-shot (luckily you had been practicing your archery to get into shape) and now you're back to lead the police to believe that his precious daughter Jenny killed him all those years ago. I can't wait to see the look on that brat's face when she see's what I find! She'll be put in jail, Matilda will go to an orphange, I'll inherit all their money, I'll be principal of Crunchem Hall again and life will be sweeeeeet!" Suddenly she scowled. "Those rotten little kids!" She said banging her fist down on the table. "When I step into that schoolyard, I'll make them pay!"

Right then and there, Matilda sprung into the room and flicked on the lights. Ms Trunchbull dropped the jar of jam from her hand in surprise and let it shatter on the floor.

"I caught you!" Matilda cried. "The jig is up! I heard EVERYTHING!"

Ms Trunchbull was still in shock. "I-uh-I-you-but-" she stuttered.

Matilda looked pleased watching Ms Trunchbull squirm.

But after a few moments, she stopped as a different look glazed over Ms Trunchbull's poisonous eyes.

A dumb, glassy look.

"Where am I?" Ms Trunchbull asked in a fake, high voice, looking around as though she were seeing for the first time in her life.. "Who are you? What am I doing here?"

Matilda frowned. "Don't act like you don't know. It's Matilda and you've been caught red-handed!"

"Who's Matilda? Do I know you? What's my name?" Ms Trunchbull asked dumbfoundedly.

"What are you talking about?" Matilda asked her. "You know perfectly well who I am and what your name is. You faked everything, but why? You can't squeeze you're way out of this one!"

Ms Trunchbull dropped her act. "Maybe I can," she said in a deadly whisper. "What makes you think anyone will believe that you saw me down here, hmm you little brat?"

"This," Matilda replied. "MS HONEY! MS HONEY! I CAUGHT THE TRUNCHBULL!"

Ms Trunchbull laughed evily. "It's too late for that now," she said and took off up the stairs.

THUMP, THUMP, THUMP!

Matilda ran after her and smacked into Ms Honey who had hastily pulled on her nightgown and was running downstairs to see what the matter was.

"Oof!" They both fell backwards.

"Matilda, what ever is wrong?"

Matilda grabbed Ms Honey's hand and ran down the hall.

"Ms Trunchbull was faking it all! She's not unconscious, it was all a scam! She killed your father and now she's determined to put you in jail over the murder!"

They reached the spare room door and flung it open. Ms Trunchbull lay in bed in the exact same position, her face and body as stiff and as frozen as an ice-cube..

Matilda ran over to the bed and pinched Ms Trunchbull's arm as hard as she could.

She didn't even flinch.

"But-but-but- I heard her! I caught her downstairs just before!" Matilda looked up at Ms Honey.

Ms Honey looked worried and placed her hand on Matilda's forehead.

"No temperature," she murmered. "Maybe you're just overtired."

Matilda rolled her eyes. "I'm not overtired! You've got to believe me!" she cried frantically. "I'm telling the truth!"

Ms Honey didn't know what to believe.

Suddenly Matilda ran from the room.

"Matilda!" Ms Honey called and followed after her. She hadn't meant to make her cry. But as it turned out, Matilda wasn't crying at all. Instead she returned holding a mug of boiling water.

Ms Honey looked mystified. "Matilda-" she began.

But Matilda just ignored her and returned to Ms Trunchbull's bed.

"Ms Trunchbull, I know you're faking it so own up!"

Ms Trunchbull lay motionless.

"I'm warning you!" Matilda tried again. "On the count of three I'll pour this mug of boiling, hot water on you."

Ms Trunchbull didn't move.

"One......two.......I mean it....two and a half....two and three quarters....that's it, I'm pouring it!"

Ms Trunchbull bolted upright and Ms Honey jumped back in surprise.

"Alright, alright! Are you happy now you bucket of vomit?"

Ms Honey placed her hand on Matilda's shoulders. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you, Matilda."

She turned to Ms Trunchbull. "And as for you, Aunt Trunchbull, I'm ringing the police so you can face the consequeneces."

Instead of leaping out of bed and begging Ms Honey to forgive her, Ms Trunchbull simply grinned.

"Life is sweet, isn't it?"

"What do you mean?" asked Matilda nervously.

Ms Trunchbull merely shrugged. "What makes you so sure that the police are going to believe you? Where's your proof?"

"Right here!" Ms Honey replied gesturing towards her.

"But what if I choose not to play along? You can't make me tell the truth!"

"Then I'll just have to pour more hot water until you do," Matilda answered holding up her cup.

Ms Trunchbull nodded, an evil grin playing at the corners of her mouth. "But what if I have amnesia? Hmmm? I wouldn't know anything about anything not to mention what my own name is. Besides, I'm sure the police wouldn't let you for cruelty for burning a poor, sick patient."

Ms Honey's mouth dropped open. "You wicked, wicked woman! You can't do that!"

"Just watch me."

Matilda grabbed Ms Honey's wrist and pulled her out of the room and into the hall.

"Ms Honey!" she pleaded. "If we don't come up with a plan soon then Ms Trunchbull could alert the police at any time to report you!"

Ms Honey nodded. "Then we'd better get cracking."

* * * * *

"Boiling pot?"

"Check."

"Water?"

"Check."

"Wooden Spoon?"

"Check"

"Hard hats?"

"Check."

"Goggles?"

"Check!"

"Master ingredients?"

"Check!"

"We're all set then!" Ms Honey exclaimed.

It was two in the morning. Everything was dark outside except for the warm, silver full moon and the glittery stars that were sprinkled across the night sky. Matilda and Ms Honey were both feeling very weary and tired but you would never had guessed it through their excitement that was bubbling up inside them for the plan they were hatching could actually work. This plan, even though daring and not to mention dangerous, could be the answer to getting Ms Trunchbull to tell the truth directly to the police.

"Step one," Matilda began, "Pour the water into the pot and set it on the stove to boil."

They did just that.

"Step two, add ingredients."

In went a page ripped out of the bible with the ten commandments listed on it with "Thy shalt not lie," underlined in red, (Crackle, crackle), a bottle of chili powder was thrown in so that Ms Trunchbull would spit out the truth straight away without any fuss (Phssssst), sprinkled into the pot followed a bottle of mouth-wash so the truth would come out clean (Bubble, bubble), dropped one by one in went bite-sized chocolate pieces so when she broke the news it would sound sweeter than ever before (Pop!) and lastly, in went the sting of bumble bee just for fun to watch.

Ssssssss! Angrily sizzled the contents inside the pot.

"Hard hats and goggles on!" Ms Honey instructed over the bubbling. Matilda picked hers up along with Ms Honey and placed them firmly on.

Squeezing her eyes shut and both turning away, Matilda threw in the final ingredient; a photo of Magnus..........

Suddenly-

BANG!

The mixture exploded all over the ceiling, the walls, the floor and on the windows but there lay enough left on the bottom of the pot for a good dosing of the medicine.

Ms Honey and Matilda clapped high fives.

"We did it!"

Suddenly, Matilda stopped.

"Wait a minute," she said thoughtfully. "How are we ever going to get this down Ms Trunchbull's throat without her realising it? I mean, we can't just force her to drink it! She'll just spit it out!"

Ms Honey began to look worried but after a few moments, her eyes lit up briliantly.

"By gosh I've got it!" she exclaimed. "Here's what we do..."

* * * * *

Early the next morning, the Doctor pulled up in the driveway in his fancy car to check up on how Ms Trunchbull was holding up.

Matilda who had been watching from the window let the curtains fall back and ran downstairs into the kitchen.

"He's here, he's here!" she cried bounding up and down with excitement.

Ms Honey grinned too. She was also excited. Finally Ms Trunchbull was going to face her punishment for ruining her childhood and not to mention the fact terrorizing little children ahlf to death for the pure fun of it. She really was a witch.

Knock, knock, knock!

"Quick!" Ms Honey urged Matilda. "Go get the door while I finish up in here and I'll meet you upstairs!"

Matilda nodded and ran out of the room. Skidding across the wooden floor and flinging the door open, she practically dragged the surprised Doctor inside and hurried him up the stairs.

"We're here!" Matilda cried breathlessly as she burst into the spare room dragging the poor Doctor behind her.

"What's the big rush?" he wanted to know.

Nobody answered him.

"Here, let me take that awfully heavy bag for you," Ms Honey said pointing to the black bag the Doctor was holdind that was full of his medical equipment.

"Oh, no, no, no, I'm quite alright," he assured her. "Besides, I'm going to be using it quite alot so I'll need it right by me."

"Darn it!" Ms Honey mouthed to Matilda when the Doctor wasn't looking.

He kneeled down beside the bed where Ms Trunchbull was lying and doing a pretty good acting job Matilda had to admit.

Pulling a stethoscope out of his bag, the Doctor pressed it up against Ms Trunchbull and listened. Matilda noticed she jumped a little when the cold metal touched her skin. Meanwhile Ms Honey was racking her brain in frustration trying to figure out how she was going to get what she needed out of the Doctor's precious black bag without him noticing.

Suddenly, it hit her!

"Matilda!" Ms Honey hissed loudly.

Matilda didn't seem to hear her. She was watching the examination process in awe.

Ms Honey tugged on the overalls Matilda was wearing.

She looked up. "Hmmm?"

Ms Honey whispered into Matilda's ear the plan she had just thought of. As Matilda listened, she began to laugh.

What is it?" Ms Honey wanted to know. "Is it my plan that silly?"

Matilda giggled. "No, it's not that. It's just that when you whisper in my ear, it tickles and sends a shiver down my spine!"

Ms Honey laughed. "Sorry," she apologised.

"So when do we put this plan into action?" Matilda asked turning back to business.

Ms Honey bit her lip as she thought. "How about when the examination is over so the Doctor can keep his total concentration on you instead of me having to worry about him turning back to Ms Trunchbull and me being caught."

Matilda nodded.

Ten minutes later the Doctor straightened up. "I'm pleased to inform you that Agatha is as healthy as a horse apart from the fact that she's unconscious, of course."

Ms Honey wiped away a pretend bead of sweat from her forehead. "Well that's a relief!"

The Doctor smiled as he packed away his equipment. "Well, I'd better be going now. I'll see you all again in two weeks or so," he said and began walking to the door.

"GO!" Ms Honey mouthed to Matilda motioning for her to stop him.

Obediently, Matilda ran after him as she started up a fake coughing fit.

"Mr!" She said in a small, weak voice, tugging on his coat and coughing some more for emphasis.

The Doctor turned around. "What's wrong?" he asked in a concerned voice.

"My throat hurts really bad and my head feels stuffy and I don't know how to make it feel better!" Matilda told him and sniffed.

The Doctor put down his bag.

Yes! Ms Honey thought. It's working!

"I think you'd better let me have a look at that throat of yours. Here, hop up on this bench here," the Doctor told Matilda patting a small desk over in the corner.

Matilda gave Ms Honey a quick thumbs up sign before climbing up.

It was only when the Doctor began prodding Matilda's neck when Ms Honey dived for the bag in the doorway.

Where is it....where is it....? Ms Honey wondered as she silently searched the contents.

Aha! Got it! She thought triumphantly as she closed her hand around a neatly packaged syringe.

Time to put this show on the road!

Being very careful and extremely cautious, Ms Honey picked up their home-made truth medicine and loaded it into the needle.

Tip-toeing as quietly as she possible could, Ms Honey crept over to the bed; quickly turning around to see if the Doctor was looking and in one quick motion, jabbed it ino Ms Trunchbull's arm and pulled it out before Ms Trunchbull even knew what was happening.

"YEOWWWWW!" Ms Trunchbull cried jerking bolt upright in bed. She had never been much for needles.

The doctor jumped around in surprise. "What the?!" he cried. "I thought you were unconscious!"

"She was faking it! Weren't you, Ms Trunchbull!" Matilda cried. "Admit it!"

Ms Trunchbull was silent. "So what if I was?! I mean, where am I? How did I get here? How long have I been asleep for?"

How long with the medicine take to kick in? Matilda wondered. It had better soon!

The Doctor who had bought Ms Trunchbull's lie walked over to comfort her.

"How do you feel?" he asked gently. "Sick?"

The Trunchbull nodded miserably, but Ms Honey could see that glint in her eye.

"She's LYING!" Matilda shouted before she could stop herself.

The doctor looked outraged. "Are you crazy?! This poor woman has just been through more than you could ever imagine! The least you could do is see how she's feeling!"

Ms Honey rolled her eyes.

Suddenly Ms Trunchbull announced that she needed a bed pan. Matilda and Ms Honey ignored her.

"Hellooo! She needs a bed pan!" The doctor repeated angrily. He obviously was not impressed how Ms Honey and Matilda was treating this seriously-ill patient without any sympathy at all.

"There's one under the bed," Ms Honey muttered.

With some difficulty, Ms Trunchbull reached a hand down and felt around the floor under the bed.

Finally she found it and pulled it up. Everybody in the room gasped with shock when they saw what she was holding.

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" Ms Trunchbull asked. "Somebody's diary with Ms Honey's name on the front?

"That isn't mine!" Ms Honey protested, swiping for the book.

Ms Trunchbull pulled it away. "Tut, tut. If it's not yours then you wouldn't mind us reading it then would you?"

She opened up the book and skimmed through the pages until suddenly she stopped as a grin spread over her face.

"You have been a naughty girl, haven't you Jennifer?"

Ms Honey frowned. "What are you talking about?"

Ms Trunchbull raised her eyebrows and said in a low, evil voice. "Let me read it and you might remeber it more clearly."

She cleared her throat and began...

" 'Dear Diary. I've finally done it before I could put it off any longer! I feel like a tonne of bricks has been lifted off my shoulders and I feel FANTASTIC! I shot Dad just under an five minutes ago with one of his hunting rifles while he was in the kitchen making lunch. (Ms Honey gave out a little cry behind her hand). I have already wiped my fingerprints off the gun and put Dad's on them instead so it looks like he did it to himself for punishment for one reason or another. I'm free! As free as a bird in the open skies. How I hated his presence around the house. One of the neighbours heard the gun shot and called the police so I will have to go wipe some fake tears on my face. I'm LOVING how my life feels already.' "

Ms Trunchbull looked up. "Call the police," she instructed to the Doctor but it turned out he had already reported the murder and was just hanging up.

"They'll be here in two minutes," he said quitely keeping his distance.

"But I didn't write that!" Ms Honey said tears streaming down her face. "That's not even my diary! Why would I have done that to my father? I loved him!"

"Well," replied Ms Trunchbull in a matter-of-factly voice. "How come this has your handwriting? Hmmm?"

Ms Honey peered at the writing closley. "But it's a fake, I'm telling you! So what if it's my handwriting? I didn't do it!"

"Don't worry," Ms Trunchbull said. "I'm sure the food won't be too bad in jail. You'll get used to it as the years go on."

REEEEEEEAWWWWWWW! REEEEEEEAWWWWWWW!

Sirens wailed from out in the street below. The police had arrived.

BANG! They busted throught the front door and were now thundering upstairs. Ten or so officers entered the room carrying pistols.

"GET ON THE FLOOR AND PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD!" The constable commanded them in a booming voice.

Nobody moved.

"I SAID NOW!"

Everybody leapt into action and got down on the floor. Matilda was so frightened she was shaking.

"WHERE IS JENNIFER HONEY?"

"Here," Ms Honey replied into the carpet.

Strong hands grabbed her wrists and chained hand-cuffs on them.

"MISS HONEY, YOU'RE UNDER ARREST FOR THE MURDER OF MAGNUS HONEY!"

"NOOOO!" Matilda cried. "It wasn't her! Ms Trunchbull's lying! I'm telling the TRUTH!"

One of the new officers to the force snorted, "Well, seeing as though you're telling the truth, I suppose we should let her go." He laughed. "And I'm the Queen of England," he added.

"EVERYBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT!" The constable boomed.

"NO! I will NOT remain silent because you're charging the innocent!" Matilda cried and leapt up off the floor.

Two officers grabbed for her, but Matilda ran from their reach. The chase began.

She jumped over tables, under the bed, through the legs of police and finally out the window onto the window sill. Everybody stopped in their tracks.

Matilda screamed, "I'll jump! I really will unless you LISTEN to me!"

Everything was quiet.

"Good," replied Matilda a more calmer voice. "Now, Ms Trunchbull. Did you or did you not kill Magnus Honey?"

Ms Trunchbull snorted in response. That obviously meant 'no.'

"I'll ask you again. Did you or did you not kill Magnus Honey?"

Ms Trunchbull shook her head.

Uh oh, Matilda thought. The medicine didn't work after all. Now I'm really in for it!

But Matilda was also stubborn. She would not just let herself give up and let Ms Honey be locked away in a dark cell. Not someone who was so sweet, loving, understanding and someone who had never done a bad deed in all her life.

Suddenly a strange look swept over Ms Trunchbull's face. Her eyes rolled back in her head, her hair stood up straight on end, her skin turned a nasty green and cried out loud and clutched her bottom as though a pin had been suddenly stuck into her. The medicine must be kicking in!!!

"I'll ask you one more time," Matilda told Ms Trunchbull.

Some police officers groaned. "Just give it up, little girl," they told her.

Matilda ignored them. "Did you or did you not kill Magnus Honey?"

Slowly, to everybody's shock, Ms Trunchbull nodded.

"Yes, it was me," she said in a soft voice.

* * * * *

So, once again Matilda and Ms Honey stood in front of the neatly-trimmed hedge, waving, as they watched the police car roar away down the street in a cloud of dust, screeching as they turned tightly around the corner, Ms Trunchbull never to be seen again. Well, not for a long time anyway.

"So?" Ms Honey asked Matilda with an amused twinkle in her eye, "when's your operation?"

Matilda groaned. "Aughh! Don't remind me! I still can't believe the Doctor found out that I had tonsilitis when I was only pretending! I must be a pretty good actor!"

Ms Honey laughed and placed a hand on Matilda's shoulder. "The things people do for the people you love.... even if it means ending up in the hospital!"


Continuation of George's Marvelous Medicine by J. Wiltz:

"…George didn't say a word. He felt quite trembly. He knew something tremendous had taken place that morning. For a few brief moments he had touched with the very tips of his fingers the edge of a magic world"…

The Next Morning and the New Idea

The next morning, however, after a long night of tossing and turning, George awoke to find the trembly feeling gone. (The tossing and turning, you see, had worked it out of his system.) In its place was a new sense of peace and calm. After all, how could he not feel at peace now that his old, wrinkled, wretched grandma was no longer around to call him a "nasty little maggot" and a "disobedient little worm" in her awful, shrieking voice? With her ugly face out of the picture, George could now relax, sit back and enjoy a nice book, play his favorite games, eat his cornflakes with his mouth open, or even put on silly costumes and parade around the house. A pirate. A cowboy. An Indian. A magician. A soldier. A knight. Whatever he wanted to be, he could be without interruption. And the more George thought about this new freedom the more he liked it.

A devilish grin began to cross his face, and once again strange words came into his head from out of nowhere. He sang:

"It's so much easier to laugh and play
Now that Grandma's gone away
She used to yell, she used to shriek
She made me feel so small and weak
But now that she has disappeared
I feel quite big, I have no fear
And there must be others just like I
Living with people who make them cry
I think I could probably help them out
In fact, I'm sure, I have no doubt
If I make enough of my special brew
I can make their villains disappear too
No need to cry, no more boo hoo
Oh, the wonders magic can do!"

Yes, he had to admit it. At first he had been somewhat afraid of the magic world his marvelous medicine had revealed to him, but now he was beginning to see it as part of a bigger plan. He must make more of this wonderful concoction (Marvelous Medicine Number Four) and he must give it away to every boy and girl who needed to get rid of a nasty Grandma.

"Give it away?!" cried George's father, Mr. Kranky, when George told him his plan. "No, my boy, no. That's no way to use the old noodle."

"Well, what should I do?" George asked.

"Why sell it of course!" Mr. Kranky replied. "Sell it! You're going to be giving people a chance to rid their lives of nasty people. The least you can ask in return is a little profit."

"But I don't so much care about profit," said George.

"Well you should," his father told him. "Take a good look outside."

George peered out through the window his father was pointing towards and saw some of the animals that had been disfigured by his testing of various medicines. Here was one chicken walking around on spindly legs that lifted it at least nine or ten feet into the air. There another, shrunken so low it was barely visible to the naked eye.

"And those are just two of the calamities of nature we created," Mr. Kranky said to him. "There are many many more. More than you may realize. And we're going to lose money on each and every one."

"How?" George asked.

"Well, take for example that chicken with the long, spindly legs," his father said. "If she laid an egg right now, it would come toppling through the air and shatter into a million pieces down on the ground. Now tell me, George, would you want to eat an egg that had shattered on the ground?"

"No!" George said, a little disgusted at the thought.

"No, and neither would anyone else," said Mr. Kranky, "And that's why that chicken's of no further use to me. I'm going to lose all the money I would have made selling her eggs. And that little one? Well, I don't think I need to explain that one to you."

"No, I understand," said George.

"Good," said his father. "Then you understand that we're running a business here. We've got to make up for what we've lost."

"Okay then," George agreed, "we're going into business. But before we do that, we've got to make more Marvelous Medicine Number Four."

"Right you are," said Mr. Kranky. And without another word, the new business partners hurried off to make more medicine.

The Medicine Men

Now, if you remember what happened to George a little earlier in the story, you'll remember that he had a hard time remembering what ingredients he'd put into Marvelous Medicine Number One, which had made his grandmother grow larger than a house. This was because there were simply too many ingredients for one little boy's mind to remember. But because George had created Marvelous Medicine Number Four with help from his father, the two were able to put their heads together and remember the recipe fairly easily. (Two heads, as the saying goes, are better than one.) And after just a few minutes of stirring antifreeze, motor oil, toothpaste, brown paint, and all the other pieces of the mystical liquid puzzle together in the large stewing pot, the two smiled to see that they had successfully blended a new batch of Marvelous Medicine Number Four.

"More!" cried Mr. Kranky when it was completed. "More! We have to make more!"

And so they did. Hour after hour, all through the day and long into the night, George and his father mixed and tested countless batches of Marvelous Medicine Number Four. By the time they were done there was more than enough to fill all of the little bottles George's father had gotten in town during one of his frequent trips to get more supplies.

"Well, we've got our product," Mr. Kranky said, standing back to admire the pyramid of little bottles he and George had created. "Now we just need some way to sell it. Hmmmm…"

They thought and thought and pondered and pondered and, just when they couldn't think or ponder anymore, a great thought popped into George's head, as if by…well, as if by magic.

"I've got it!" he said. "We'll be medicine men."

"Medicine men?"

The term was new to Mr. Kranky.

"Sure!" said George. "I read about them in a book once. Medicine men used to travel around the countryside with wagons full of different medicines and cure-alls. We could load up our donkey cart and do the same thing!"

"Good idea, George!" his father said. "But, won't people realize that we're not real medicine men?"

"Not if we look the part," George answered him. "The medicine men in the books I read always wore black top hats, sort of like the hats magicians wear. And I have two of those that will be just perfect."

Mr. Kranky smiled to see George so enthusiastic about their new business.

"Well then, by all means," he said, "let's get those hats on and load up the carts! We've got some money to make!"

"Oh, and one other thing," George said, remembering something. "Feathers."

"Feathers?" his father asked. "What for?"

"Well, I just remembered reading about a tribe of Native Americans that also had medicine men, only they wore feathers on their heads instead of top hats. Oh, what was their name?…Pessamakwadotchie? No, that's not it…Um, Passamadoochie? No, that doesn't sound right either…It was…It was…Oh, what was it?…"

"I think you might mean Passamaquoddy," Mr. Kranky said.

"Yes! Passamaquoddy," said George. Then he thought for a second and said, "How did you know that?"

"Don't forget," his father told him. "I read books too. So okay, we'll put on our magician hats - excuse me, our medicine men hats - and put feathers in the brims. How about that?"

"Sounds good to me," said George. "We'll be two kinds of medicine men in one. Now come on, let's load up the cart and get some sleep. We've got a lot of work ahead of us."

George's Marvelous Medicine Show

"Come one! Come all!" George yelled as he and his father's donkey cart rolled into a town not far from where they lived. "Come and get your very own bottle of Marvelous Medicine Number Four, the only medicine 100% guaranteed to rid your life of all unpleasant distractions, annoyances, and otherwise unwelcome burdens. Get it now for only 1 dollar. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, only 1 dollar for the miracle cure of the century!"

Like the poems that came to him from nowhere, this sales pitch came forth from George's mouth effortlessly. And boy, did it work! The townspeople all came out from their homes to see what these two strange people with their feathered top hats were selling.

"Marvelous Medicine Number Four?" asked an old woman. "How does it work?"

"Yes," said another, "and what happened to Marvelous Medicines One, Two, and Three."

"Prototypes," answered Mr. Kranky, smiling. "Mere prototypes leading up to the Marvelous Number Four. Some people will tell you that the third time's a charm. Well, we went all three times and then one more on top of that, just to be sure that it was absolutely perfect!"

"Yes, but how does it work?" asked the first old woman again.

"Quite simple, really," George's father responded. "But before I answer, let me ask you, is there anyone in your life who makes things difficult for you?"

Without hesitation, the old woman said, "My neighbor. Oh, he's horrible. Every day I catch him reaching through the fence and stealing tomatoes from my garden. Can you believe it? My beautiful tomatoes. I put so much time into them, only to have him swipe them from the other side of the fence."

"Ah ha!" said George. "It sounds like your neighbor is in need of Marvelous Medicine Number Four."

Reaching into the wagon, George pulled out a bottle of the elixir, which was brown with a blank white label.

"In your case," George explained to the old woman, "you might write something like TOMATO JUICE across the label here. Then tell your neighbor that if he takes just two or three tablespoons of the liquid inside, his mouth will always taste like tomatoes whenever he wants it to."

"Uh huh," said the old woman, "but what will it really do?"

"My dear lady," said Mr. Kranky, "it will make him disappear."

When they heard this, the crowd that had gathered around the donkey cart began to laugh. Disappear? What rubbish, they thought. No medicine could make someone disappear.

"Perhaps a demonstration is in order then," said George, seeing their disbelief. And reaching back into the wagon once again he pulled out one of the last remaining normal chickens from the farm. He and his father had brought it along for just such an occasion.

"Behold!" they cried as they fed the chicken some Marvelous Medicine Number Four from a spoon. The crowd then stood slack-jawed and silent as sparks and smoke came forth from the chicken's beak. Then, just as all the other chickens before it, it shrunk down

    down
      down
        down

until it vanished completely.

"Three bottles!" screamed one of the onlookers. "Whatever the price!"

"Four for me!"

"Oh, I want ten!"

"Just one for me, please….oh, just one!"

Looking out from the donkey cart, George and Mr. Kranky could see only a sea of dollar bills held high above everyone's heads. And suddenly they found themselves engulfed by a well-paying chaos - bottles going one way, money going another. Marvelous Medicine Number Four, it was easy to see, was an instant success.

Fan Mail

This scene was repeated no matter where George and his father went. Just as George had predicted, everyone had at least one person they wanted to get rid of. And for only a dollar, there was no way they could say no. From all over the world, multitudes of letters started pouring in as George and Mr. Kranky's satisfied customers expressed their appreciation. One, for example, said:

Dear Medicine Men,
    Thank you so much for coming to my town with your marvelous medicine. I gave some to my good-for-nothing, tomato-stealing neighbor, and wouldn't you know it? He hasn't come stealing any tomatoes since (hehe). Marvelous!
                Ethel Pendergrass

Dear Medicine Men,
    Man, dudes, I've got to tell you, this totally un-gnarly dude was forever trying to bogart all the good waves off the coast here in good ole Cali-For-Nye-A. Didn't leave, like, anything for anybody else. So, like, I totally slipped him some of your marvelous medicine and told him it was a SURF IMPROVER. Dude totally believed me and then disappeared right in the middle of a wipeout! Too gnarly, man!! Thanx!
                Steve "Hang Ten" Surfman

My Dear Fellows,
    Thou hast done me a great favor, Medicine Men. Indeed, thou hast made the pain of life quite bearable. For, you see, I am a brilliant (though undiscovered, sadly) actor whose genius has gone all but unnoticed by my drama teacher, Mr.Chester. Chester, while a good man and moral, always chose Daniel Birch for the lead roles in all of our school plays. Imagine his surprise then when Daniel was unable to attend auditions for Hamlet after ingesting three tablespoons of a certain "Stage Performance Enhancer". Ha! He disappeared, and I got the lead…Ah, revenge! Sweet revenge! Alas, poor Daniel, I knew him well. My thanks are yours, dear gentlemen.
                Regards,
                    J.Dedalus Bloom, Esquire

Medicine Mens -
    I would like very much please thank you to say how happy I am to have bought and purchased your wonderful medicines. The leader of my country was very much a mean man who do terrible things to his peoples and makes their life miserable and sad and unhappy and no good times even for the children who are suppose to be happy. I send him bottle of your medicines and write on label TO MAKE YOU POWERFUL! He drinks and now the big tyrant is shrunk down and brought to size and the peoples are more happy thanks to you! Thank you! Blessings be upon you.
                Mussaf al-Ahim Rajanahim
                Baghdad, Iraq

"I think we've made the world a better place," said George to his father as he read the letters out loud.

"I'll say we have," said Mr. Kranky. "We've found a way to make the mean and the oppressive and the downright wicked literally disappear."

"Yes," said George, "and we've made more money than we'll ever need."

"Yes," his father agreed. "Thank heavens for that!"

"Right. But you know, Dad, I think there's one thing we can take from this that's even better than making money or getting bad people to disappear."

"Oh yeah? What's that, son?" Mr. Kranky asked.

"We've become a team," he replied.

And Mr. Kranky smiled.

"You're right, George," he said. "We've become a team, and what we've accomplished, we've accomplished because we worked together."

George and Mr. Kranky embraced one another, the way all fathers and their children should do from time to time.

"And not only that," said George, hugging his father tight. "We managed to get rid of Grandma!"

"We sure did!" said Mr. Kranky. "So say it again: we've made the world a better place!"

"Yes!" cried George. "We've made the world…marvelous."

The (New) End

 
 
Created and maintained by Kristine Howard with assistance from Michael Mander
© 1996-2014