Mathias Lakeman and the Five Wild Giraffes

A Fairy Tale

by Alex Vega

Once upon a time there was a special boy called Mathias Lakeman. He was on the way to see his aunt Flora Giantbulb, when he decided to take a short cut through Hampstead Heath.

It wasn’t long before Mathias got lost. He looked around, but all he could see were trees. Nervously, he felt into his bag for his favourite toy, Emma, but Emma was nowhere to be found! Mathias began to panic. He felt sure he had packed Emma. To make matters worse, he was starting to feel hungry.

Unexpectedly, he saw a wild giraffe dressed in a yellow jacket disappearing into the trees.

“How odd!” thought Mathias.

For the want of anything better to do, he decided to follow the peculiarly dressed giraffe. Perhaps it could tell him the way out of the forest.

Eventually, Mathias reached a clearing. He found himself surrounded by houses made from different sorts of food. There was a house made from turnips, a house made from pizzas, a house made from fruit gums, a house made from cupcakes, a house made from pancakes and a house made from lollipops.

Mathias could feel his tummy rumbling. Looking at the houses did nothing to ease his hunger.

“Hello!” he called. “Is anybody there?”

Nobody replied.

Mathias looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else’s chimney. Obviously it would be impolite to eat a whole house, but perhaps it would be considered acceptable to nibble the odd fixture or lick the odd fitting, in a time of need.

A cackle broke through the air, giving Mathias a fright. A witch jumped into the space in front of the houses. She was carrying a cage. In that cage was Emma!

“Emma!” shouted Mathias. He turned to the witch. “That’s my toy!”

The witch just shrugged.

“Give Emma back!” cried Mathias.

“Not on your nelly!” said the witch.

“At least let Emma out of that cage!”

Before she could reply, five wild giraffes rushed in from a footpath on the other side of the clearing. Mathias recognised the one in the yellow jacket that he’d seen earlier. The witch seemed to recognise him too.

“Hello Big Giraffe,” said the witch.

“Good morning.” The giraffe noticed Emma. “Who is this?”

“That’s Emma,” explained the witch.

“Ooh! Emma would look lovely in my house. Give it to me!” demanded the giraffe.

The witch shook her head. “Emma is staying with me.”

“Um… Excuse me…” Mathias interrupted. “Emma lives with me! And not in a cage!”

Big Giraffe ignored him. “Is there nothing you’ll trade?” he asked the witch.

The witch thought for a moment, then said, “I do like to be entertained. I’ll release him to anybody who can eat a whole front door.”

Big Giraffe looked at the house made from lollipops and said, “No problem, I could eat an entire house made from lollipops if I wanted to.”

“That’s nothing,” said the next giraffe. “I could eat two houses.”

“There’s no need to show off,” said the witch. Just eat one front door and I’ll let you have Emma.”

Mathias watched, feeling very worried. He didn’t want the witch to give Emma to Big Giraffe. He didn’t think Emma would like living with a wild giraffe, away from his house and all his other toys.

The other four giraffes watched while Big Giraffe put on his bib and withdrew a knife and fork from his pocket.

“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Big Giraffe. “Just you watch!”

Big Giraffe pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from pizzas. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

Eventually, Big Giraffe started to get bigger – just a little bit bigger at first. But after a few more fork-fulls of pizzas, he grew to the size of a large snowball – and he was every bit as round.

“Erm… I don’t feel too good,” said Big Giraffe.

Suddenly, he started to roll. He’d grown so round that he could no longer balance!

“Help!” he cried, as he rolled off down a slope into the forest.

Big Giraffe never finished eating the front door made from pizzas and Emma remained trapped in the witch’s cage.

Average Giraffe stepped up, and approached the house made from fruit gums.

“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Average Giraffe. “Just you watch!”

Average Giraffe pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from fruit gums. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

After a while, Average Giraffe started to look a little queasy. She grew greener…

   …and greener.

A woodcutter walked into the clearing. “What’s this bush doing here?” he asked.

“I’m not a bush, I’m a giraffe!” said Average Giraffe.

“It talks!” exclaimed the woodcutter. “Those talking bushes are the worst kind. I’d better take it away before somebody gets hurt.”

“No! Wait!” cried Average Giraffe, as the woodcutter picked her up. But the woodcutter ignored her cries and carried the giraffe away under his arm.

Average Giraffe never finished eating the front door made from fruit gums and Emma remained trapped in the witch’s cage.

Little Giraffe stepped up, and approached the house made from cupcakes.

“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Little Giraffe. “Just you watch!”

Little Giraffe pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from cupcakes. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

After five or six platefuls, Little Giraffe started to fidget uncomfortably on the spot.

He stopped eating cupcakes for a moment, then grabbed another forkful.

But before he could eat it, there came an almighty roar. A bottom burp louder than a rocket taking off, propelled Little Giraffe into the sky.

“Aggghhhhhh!” cried Little Giraffe. “I’m scared of heigh…”

Little Giraffe was never seen again.

Little Giraffe never finished eating the front door made from cupcakes and Emma remained trapped in the witch’s cage.

Tiny Giraffe stepped up, and approached the house made from pancakes.

“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Tiny Giraffe. “Just you watch!”

Tiny Giraffe pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from pancakes. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

However, on the next mouthful, the food fell straight out of Tiny Giraffe’s mouth. She tried to stuff in another forkful of pancakes, but once again, the food fell out. There just wasn’t enough room left in her belly.

“This is just not fair!” declared Tiny Giraffe, and stomped off into the forest.

Tiny Giraffe never finished eating the front door made from pancakes and Emma remained trapped in the witch’s cage.

Even-Tinier Giraffe stepped up, and approached the house made from lollipops.

“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Even-Tinier Giraffe. “Just you watch!”

Even-Tinier Giraffe pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from lollipops. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

Suddenly, Even-Tinier Giraffe stopped eating and started dancing. While he danced, he sang at the top of his lungs, “Lollipops! Watch me eat all the lollipops!”

“It looks as though the lollipops are making you hyperactive,” laughed the witch.

“Oh no they’re not!” cried Even-Tinier Giraffe. “I’m always this excited.” With that, he walked into a tree.

Bong!

Even-Tinier Giraffe banged his head and fell backwards onto his bottom. He passed out, exhausted.

Even-Tinier Giraffe never finished eating the front door made from lollipops and Emma remained trapped in the witch’s cage.

“That’s it,” said the witch. “I win. I get to keep Emma.”

“Not so fast,” said Mathias. “There is still one front door to go. The front door of the house made from turnips. And I haven’t had a turn yet.

“I don’t have to give you a turn!” laughed the witch. “My game. My rules.”

The woodcutter’s voice carried through the forest. “I think you should give him a chance. It’s only fair.”

“Fine,” said the witch. “But you saw what happened to the giraffes. He won’t last long.”

“I’ll be right back,” said Mathias.

“What?” said the witch. “Where’s your sense of impatience? I thought you wanted Emma back.”

Mathias ignored the witch and gathered a hefty pile of sticks. He came back to the clearing and started a small camp fire. Carefully, he broke off a piece of the door of the house made from turnips and toasted it over the fire. Once it had cooked and cooled just a little, he took a bite. He quickly devoured the whole piece.

Mathias sat down on a nearby log.

“You fail!” cackled the witch. “You were supposed to eat the whole door.”

“I haven’t finished,” explained Mathias. “I am just waiting for my food to go down.”

When Mathias’s food had digested, he broke off another piece of the door made from turnips. Once more, he toasted his food over the fire and waited for it to cool just a little. He ate it at a leisurely pace then waited for it to digest.

Eventually, after several sittings, Mathias was down to the final piece of the door made from turnips. Carefully, he toasted it and allowed it to cool just a little. He finished his final course. Mathias had eaten the entire front door of the house made from turnips.

The witch stamped her foot angrily. “You must have tricked me!” she said. “I don’t reward cheating!”

“I don’t think so!” said a voice. It was the woodcutter. He walked back into the clearing, carrying his axe. “This little boy won fair and square. Now hand over Emma or I will chop your broomstick in half.”

The witch looked horrified. She grabbed her broomstick and placed it behind her. Then, huffing, she opened the door of the cage.

Mathias hurried over and grabbed Emma, checking that his favourite toy was all right. Fortunately, Emma was unharmed.

Mathias thanked the woodcutter, grabbed a quick souvenir, and hurried on to meet Flora. It was starting to get dark.

When Mathias got to Flora’s house, his aunt threw her arms around him.

“I was so worried!” cried Flora. “You are very late.”

As Mathias described his day, he could tell that Flora didn’t believe him. So he grabbed a napkin from his pocket.

“What’s that?” asked Flora.

Mathias unwrapped a doorknob made from pizzas. “Pudding!” he said.

Flora almost fell off her chair.

The End

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