Jack, The Beanstalk and Mr Fang
“Do you think he heard us?” whispered Jack, pulling the collar of his real leather jacket higher. We were crouched at the bottom of the stairs that now lead up to Mr. Fang’s office. He was the caretaker at our high school. Reader you may be wondering why we were crouched in wait for our caretaker. Simple. Jack was rich and greedy. Not content with being given magic beans by yours truly and stealing from the Giant himself at age ten, Jack wanted to bait and steal from Mr. Fang at sixteen now. And he wanted me to help him once again. Do I sound like a genie to you Reader? I pulled my beanie further over my ears.
“I don’t see why you need to wear that beanie all the time Shael. What have you got to hide, pixie ears?” I didn’t comment. Jack had promised to tell everyone the truth about me. I agreed quite readily as you can imagine. You might well ask what happened to the heroic Jack when he outwitted a Giant. Simple. He was rich. His mother bought him everything he wanted, sent him to school and so on. What did she get in return? A son who told everyone who would be stupid enough to listen to his tale for the hundred thousandth time. And what did I get in return for giving the beans that gave him this golden opportunity? Blackmail.
I met Jack for the second time at school when he was still ten years old. Instead of the expected thank you, he ran away from me until I froze him with a spell..
“What are you doing here?” he said, staring at me in horror.
“Going to school. I didn’t expect to see you again either. I guess the beans got you what you wanted anyway.”
“How did you get the beans?” I chuckled. I’d almost forgotten.
“I outwitted an evil magician for them. He was going to use them to go into the clouds to change the weather so there were storms every day. I went to his hideout, defeated him and in return for not telling anyone his real name which I found out previously, I got the magic beans. Then I gave them to you believing you to be worthy of them.” I clicked my fingers and Jack unfroze, stumbling in front of me.
Then he sneered. “I’m glad you thought so. Now I don’t need anything from you. Except a promise.”
“What’s that?” I thought he was going to ask for another magic item.
“If you don’t tell anyone you gave me the beans, I won’t tell anyone you’re a pixie” I pulled my hat over my ears instantly.
“I could turn you into all sorts of unpleasant things right now. But I won’t. That would be too easy. You’ll learn your lesson eventually. Ungratefulness is repaid with ungratefulness.” And I left him standing there gaping at me like a fish out of water.
Needless to say, he and I got into many scrapes together over the years. He pulled all the typical high school pranks with my help, our tongues the only defence against the other. Because he had told so many people about his heroics, everyone assumed he would continue these heroics in pranking the teachers. The result? Both of us in detention on various occasions. He had no friends, followers yes and some enemies but no friends. I was his constant companion, always in fear he would betray me. Then it happened. Jack’s last dare.
We were sitting in detention as usual because Jack had poured several bags of marbles all over the floor of the main hallway, causing several students and teachers to slip and break or sprain bones. Our supervising teacher was reading a book with head phones on, feet propped up on the desk and completely unaware of us except if we went near the door. I tried to sneak out once but he saw me and shouted my name so loudly I jumped. So I practiced a hard spell making drawings animate on the page by themselves. Jack leaned over my shoulder watching intently.
“Can you do that on the whiteboard?” The characters froze as the spell broke. I grit my teeth and banged the desk in frustration.
“Does your mind think of anything but pranks? I would prefer to pass school.” I heard a snicker behind us. Declan with his shock of purple hair lounged in his seat and grinned at me.
“Typical Shael. You associate with the Hero of Fun and yet you claim to care about school.”
I seriously thought of turning him into a slug but I knew I would have two humans to follow around if I did. I can’t erase memories unfortunately. So I opted for his chair to break at that moment. Crash! He was on the ground staring up at me in bewilderment.
“Why don’t you do that to this teacher? Then we could leave” Jack whispered. I stuck my tongue at him before his chair collapsed too. He glared at me. Declan was laughing. I glanced at the teacher but he still hadn’t noticed.
“Don’t worry about him. I’m here pretty much every day. The teachers don’t like my hair so I’m here every day because I refuse to dye it back to black.”
“I wish I wasn’t” I muttered to myself. “You should go see Mr Fang. He would love to get pranked” Jack and Declan both looked at me like I was insane. Declan smirked.
“Is that a dare Shael?” I paused, watching Jack closely. He was shaking his head. I smiled wolfishly.
“Yes it is. I dare you Jack to go to Mr Fang’s office and take a photograph of him” There was silence. Jack scrambled away towards the door, a hand grabbing him by the collar and hoisting him to his feet in an instant.
“Jack! This is detention not a yoga class. Get back to your seat right now” Jack stumbled back, his eyes looking anywhere but at me. Declan slapped me a low-five.
“Shael, I’ve got a dare for you now” I sighed and pretended to look interested. Seriously, most of the dares I’d been involved in were pretty low risk or easy to complete.
“I dare you to replace the school flag with this one. At lunchtime.” He handed me a purple flag with gold and silver glittery streaks all over it. On closer inspection I saw it was a possum laughing. It was Jack’s turn to smile. We knew the risks involved if I used magic.
“Alright. I accept” I said bravely. The bell rang and Jack took off with me in tow.
I crouched in the protective branches of the giant pear tree in the schoolyard, spying out where all the teachers patrolling were. Unfortunately for me, they weren’t predictable like robots. Jack relaxed comfortably behind me. The flagpole was only around ten metres away, but I still had to climb up the pole, change the flag and climb down again before someone saw me.
“Are you going to help?” I said through gritted teeth. Jack clambered next to me.
“I’ll whistle if the teachers are coming. Is that enough?” I nodded before jumping down and walking towards the pole. A whistle. I froze. Jack was laughing. As much as I wanted to turn him into a slug, I needed his vantage point. I reached the pole without anyone seeming to care. Until I began climbing. Then one student walked over and stood there. Like moths to a light they came over, in ones, twos and threes. I knew the teachers would be here any minute. I clutched the pole with my knees, straining my ears for Jack’s whistle. Surely he wouldn’t betray me now? No whistle came as I replaced the flag. A collective gasp ran around the circle beneath me. A whistle. I glanced at Jack who pointed to my right. I immediately saw the teacher who had been supervising our detention yesterday striding over. I released my knees and slid down the pole as fast as I could. Before I could get swamped by the other students I dashed away, changed into a mouse and disappeared into the bushes. I peered out and watched the teacher staring at the new flag in horror, while the students laughed and nudged each other. I waited for someone to betray me but everyone kept their honour that afternoon. I changed into a cat, climbed the pear tree and sat next to Jack who was still watching the yard, biting his fingernails.
“Thanks for that. I was nearly caught” Jack whipped around in surprise.
“My mouth was dry” he complained, “Now you need to help me photograph Mr Fang.” I grabbed a pear and crunched on it thoughtfully.
“Lunch tomorrow” Jack sighed and gave me a low-five.
“Do you think he heard us?” whispered Jack, pulling the collar of his real leather jacket higher. We were crouched at the bottom of the stairs that now lead up to Mr. Fang’s office, like I told you before. Mr Fang had just gone into his office. We’d followed his shadow through the corridors until Jack crashed into a trolley full of cleaning supplies, causing us to crouch behind the stairs.
“Probably. But whether he suspects anything is different.” I shivered. It was cold today and I’d forgotten my jacket. Jack was too nervous to notice my discomfort. Now to the task at hand. The problem was that Mr. Fang lived in a room above the school and there was no visible way to get to his room. Initially. Some thought he was a vampire who could stand the sunlight for short periods; others thought he was a ghost. It didn’t matter to him. He simply cleaned up after our messes. See, we’d checked out how we were going to get to his office before, only to find no visible way to reach the door that was in a wall on the second floor, but no stairs. So I planted another beanstalk outside the window leading to his office.
“Just do what I did with the flag pole. One photo and the dare’s done” Jack licked his lips, grabbed the camera and began to climb. I grinned at him as he climbed. Jack swayed a little on the beanstalk as he reached the window.
“I see him!” he whispered excitedly, making the beanstalk sway even more. I turned into a giraffe and stood beside him. He glared at me. I smirked back. A figure moved about inside the dark room with what seemed to be large pointed ears. The figure turned and bounded towards us as if Mr Fang had got down on his hands and knees. The camera flashed as the figure came closer.
“Help! He’s going to find us!” I stretched out my neck, letting him wrap his arms and legs around it while I lowered him to the ground, turning back into a pixie as I hit the ground. The window began to open just as a magic axe cut the beanstalk down and it shrivelled up to nothing. We hid around the corner, waiting for Mr Fang to bay for our blood. Not a sound. We checked the photo but we were soon disappointed. The photo was fuzzy, showing a brown splodge in the middle of the photo only.
“That’s no good” groaned Jack, “Declan won’t accept that I completed the dare with that”
“I have an idea. Follow me.”
So we waited around the corner of the corridor beneath his doorway for Mr Fang to come out. He did but I sneezed and he disappeared and we didn’t see how he got out.
So we took off after him and followed him until he came back to his office. To our surprise he pressed a button on the wall and a set a stairs slid out from the doorway. He scampered up into his office before we could photograph him. Jack shuffled nervously.
“You go up first. Girls who can do magic are braver” I glared at Jack. I knew if I went first he’d run like he almost did last time.
“For a start I am a young woman, boy. Second, it’s your dare. Third I don’t want to annoy Mr. Fang. I know he gets extremely wolfish when he is disturbed during lunchtime.” Jack looked like he wanted to argue but instead he shrugged and tiptoed up the stairs which creaked strangely. Jack glared at me before he finally reached the door.
“Shael, there’s claw marks on the door”
“Probably his dog’s” I said as I crept up behind. Jack slipped inside with me in tow. The room was a mess and spooky. Cobwebs hung everywhere like giant sticky curtains, dust several centimetres thick lay everywhere. Then I spied him. He was sleeping in an armchair which looked like it had been through several wars with holes, claw marks and stuffing everywhere. On the desk were some curious looking objects that I knew well. A porcelain pig standing outside a porcelain brick house with a silly grin on its face. Next to it were a set a reading glasses and a basket that held some small cakes and biscuits in it. Jack spied a set of keys for Mr. Fang’s motorbike and his wallet and pocketed them.
“Jack!” I hissed, “I never dared you to steal. Take the photo and let’s get out of here” Jack shook his head. He wasn’t even paying attention to Mr Fang. A creaky floorboard. Mr. Fang stirred. Magic dust settled him once more. Jack grinned at me and pointed at the Staffordshire terrier Lola lying asleep on the floor. He’d always wanted a dog. He’d begged me to grant him one but I had refused because I deemed him too irresponsible and his mother thought so too. He grabbed the dog by the collar and began dragging her to the stairs. Lola barked. Before I could do anything, Mr Fang awoke but he didn’t move. Instead he growled softly.
“Little thief, what clumsy fingers you have” Jack didn’t say anything.
“Little thief, what fine clothes you have while others shiver” Jack glanced at me in terror and saw I was indeed shivering from the cold. Mr Fang put a red, hooded cloak over my shoulders.
“Little thief, what an appetite for adventure you have”
“All the better to prove I am brave” replied Jack.
“Are you brave enough to face me little thief?” Jack screamed, letting go of Lola who raced over to me and curled onto my feet, as Mr Fang went bounding after the fleeing Jack as he scrambled down the stairs. Mr Fang gave me a wink and I watched as Mr. Fang grabbed Jack and leered at him. “Let’s go have a little snack thief” He dragged the screaming Jack away. I waved goodbye to Jack forever. You see, if you haven’t guessed yet reader, I know Mr. Fang as an old friend, or as you would probably recognise him, the Big Bad Wolf.