Memo: For Ministry of Strange, Unusual, and Impossible Things Operatives Only
Re: The Monster's Daughter by Paul Gamble
There is more trouble in Belfast: odd things are happening at the aquarium, giant crabs are staging jail breaks, and formerly harmless bath bombs are destroying bathrooms left and right.
Fortunately, our brave new recruitsJack, a curious boy skilled at logical thinking, and Trudy, the most dangerous girl in schoolare on the case. Armed with the best Ministry training (as long as you don't panic everything will be fine) and full access to Ministry supplies (those that weren't ruined in the recent flood), we are confident that they can discover and foil this villainous plot.
Please give them all possible assistance. Oh, and be sure not to share their location, as Jack is still on the run from the Tooth Fairy.
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IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP YOUR PAYMENTS, YOUR TEETH MAY BE AT RISK
It was recess and Jack Pearse sat on a wall next to his friend Trudy Emerson. Normally, Jack would have considered kicking a ball around with some of the other children or something similar. However, the previous week he had joined a secret government organization called the Ministry of SUITs, uncovered a plot to turn Northern Ireland into a floating pirate ship, and had almost been trampled to death by a group of runaway dinosaurs. All things considered, it had been a tiring week and Jack was quite enjoying having a peaceful sit-down.
Jack turned and looked at Trudy. She was sitting quietly, with her blond hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. The front few strands were dyed red and fell in front of her eyes.
Jack decided to say something. He carefully got up from the wall, took two steps, and sat back down on the left side of Trudy, which Jack had recently designated to be the "safe" side. That was the side of her that had her arm in a sling. This was the only physical evidence there was of how close to death they had come the previous week.
Jack suspected she didn't even really need the sling — she just liked how it enhanced her "bad girl" image.
It was strange to think that seven days ago Jack would have tried to avoid speaking to Trudy, as she had a reputation for punching people who said anything she considered stupid. Even now, he still was slightly wary of striking up certain conversations because he was moderately terrified of saying the wrong thing. Despite the fact that they were friends, she still seemed to undertake a fair amount of her communication through punching. Jack thought that arm punching was possibly Trudy's version of a strangely violent semaphore but with thumping instead of flags.
"The weekend seemed really quiet," Jack observed.
"Quiet's nice sometimes," said Trudy. "Why did you walk around to my other side?"
Jack hesitated before speaking. If he told her the real reason he'd swapped sides he was fairly sure that he would get hit. Because even though Trudy had a safe side, unfortunately she also had the ability to stand up and revolve 180 degrees. Luckily, at exactly the right moment, a living distraction clumsily ambled across the playground and said hello. It was David, Jack's other best friend.
David was lazily chewing on a Snickers bar he had pulled from his blazer. He spoke between mouthfuls. "Hey, Jack, there's a guy in the school office looking for you."
"Oh yeah? Who?"
"Didn't catch his name," said David. "Big man, wore a tutu, was carrying a pair of pincers."
Jack's face turned white. In all the excitement, he had forgotten about the Tooth Fairy. The small white molars, incisors, and canines that were inside Jack's head technically no longer actually belonged to him. Last week Jack had made the mistake of putting a pillow over his head. Any teeth that were put under a pillow automatically became the property of the Tooth Fairy. And the Tooth Fairy had the paperwork to prove it.
Jack turned to Trudy. "It's the Tooth Fairy. Do you think he's here to ...?"
Trudy put a hand on Jack's shoulder and spoke quietly. "You made a deal with him, Jack. He's here for your teeth."
Jack's stomach lurched. He wasn't sure whether his stomach was fearful, or merely worried about the fact that if Jack lost his teeth, it would mainly be fed on soup for the next few months.
David cocked his head to one side quizzically. "You're saying that the big man in the pink tutu is the Tooth Fairy?"
Trudy nodded. "And he's here to take Jack's teeth. We've got to get moving."
"Okay," said David.
Most people who had just been told that the Tooth Fairy was real would have at least had one or two follow-up questions. David, however, was a little bit strange and therefore accepted the fact that the rest of the world, at the very least, had a right to be as odd as he was himself.
Jack stood up suddenly. Out of the corner of his eye he had caught sight of the Tooth Fairy approaching. Six feet and six inches of bulging muscle, packed into a tutu two sizes too small, was walking across the playground. When the Tooth Fairy saw Jack, an evil grin spread across his bearded face. He began striding toward the friends.
Jack developed a sudden urge to play hide-and-seek. Although it wasn't so much the seek part of the game he was interested in as the hide part.
Trudy stood up and clenched her one good fist. "The Tooth Fairy isn't going to get your teeth without a fight. It's time we used The Speed."
Jack wasn't sure which he should admire more — Trudy's bravery, her confidence, or her entirely misplaced sense of optimism. "Trudy, The Speed is all well and good. But you'd agree that a swallow is considerably faster than an elephant."
"Well, of course. Duh!" Trudy laughed.
"Imagine an elephant in a boxing match with a swallow. Which one do you think would win?"
"The elephant, obviously."
"And that is our elephant," Jack said, pointing at the rapidly approaching Tooth Fairy.
Trudy swallowed both nervously and appropriately. Thanks to the marvelous workings of perspective, the Tooth Fairy was looking larger and larger with every step he took. "I can see your point. Do you have an alternative plan?"
Jack smiled. "My mother always says that discretion is the better part of valor."
"Yes, and I always felt that running away is the better part of discretion." And with that, Jack, Trudy, and David took to their heels and ran as fast as their feet would carry them.
The Tooth Fairy sighed, shook his head, and strode faster.
Trudy took off running like a young gazelle. Jack took off running like a slightly older gazelle who was beginning to suffer an occasional twinge of arthritis, but who could nevertheless put on a burst of speed when approached by a fierce lion wearing a tutu.
And in normal circumstances this would have made for an excellent escape. Unfortunately they had not reckoned with trying to run near David. It would be fair, although slightly inaccurate, to describe David as clumsy. David was more than clumsy; he was closer to being "anti-coordination." He not only couldn't get his own limbs to move in the right way, he also managed to cause other people's to move in the wrong direction as well.
As Trudy and Jack started to run, David tried to do the same. However, his limbs spontaneously managed to get tangled with Trudy's and Jack's, and they all came crashing to the ground.
Trudy tried frantically to get free but found herself ensnared in David's gangly limbs. "David, how many elbows do you actually have? I think I can count three. ..."
"There's another one over here, I think," muttered Jack, trying to figure out which way was up.
Unfortunately, the exact number and location of David's arm and leg joints will have to be resolved on another occasion. The fast-moving Tooth Fairy had caught up with our heroes and, reaching out one hairy-knuckled fist, pulled Jack out of the writhing mass of schoolkids.
The Tooth Fairy lifted Jack effortlessly with one hand. As Jack was hoisted into the air, his schoolbag fell off his shoulder, spilling its contents across the playground.
The Tooth Fairy reached into a hidden pocket in the frilly recesses of his tutu and pulled out a large pair of rusty black pincers. "Righto, this is going to hurt you more than it's going to hurt me."
Jack voice came out in a nervous squeak. "Well, how about you don't do it, then?"
Trudy jumped to her feet and blurred into action using The Speed. She smashed an uppercut into the Tooth Fairy's jaw, which made a clicking sound but otherwise seemed unaffected. He smiled. "That's not going to work, love."
Jack jerked his head, looking around the playground for rescue, but no one would have dared to help them against this fiend in pink. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye he glimpsed a marker that had fallen out of his schoolbag. He had an idea ... if only he could reach the pen. But dangling a foot above the playground as he was, the marker was definitely out of his reach. Jack wished his arms were twice as long as they actually were.
The Tooth Fairy moved the rusty pincers toward Jack's mouth. Jack clenched his mouth tightly shut. It didn't seem to overly bother the Tooth Fairy. "Up to you, mate. I can remove your teeth, or I can remove your teeth along with a lot of your lips."
Jack thought about this and realized that the Tooth Fairy had a distinct point. Trembling, he opened his mouth, his lips stretching into a grotesque grimace. Trudy threw a punch into the Tooth Fairy's side, still with no effect. Violence was not going to defeat this most monstrous of men.
The pincers were millimeters away from Jack's incisors when David spoke. "Your careers teacher must have really hated you," he said, pointing toward the Tooth Fairy's bulging tutu.
For a brief moment Jack stopped trembling. Apparently, terror wasn't as powerful as confusion. Here he was about to have his teeth painfully ripped from his mouth, and David was talking about the Tooth Fairy's career path.
However confused Jack was, he was also very lucky indeed. Because David had also managed to confuse the Tooth Fairy.
"What are you talking about?" asked a sneering Tooth Fairy.
David shrugged as he got up from the ground and dusted himself off. "Well, you know, getting you a job as a Tooth Fairy. It isn't a great job, is it? I mean, not with you having to wear that costume and all."
The Tooth Fairy looked down at his bulging tutu and thought about David's argument. Jack felt the enormous hairy hand of the Tooth Fairy loosen slightly on his blazer.
David continued his train of thought. "I mean, what kind of qualifications do you need to be the Tooth Fairy?"
"Qualifications?" The Tooth Fairy vigorously shook his head. "I don't need qualifications. This is a family business, see? I'm the owner/operator. My dad was the Tooth Fairy, and his dad was the Tooth Fairy."
David took a step toward the Tooth Fairy and poked the bulging pink tutu. "So you got the costume from your dad, then? He was a lot thinner than you, wasn't he?"
For the first time since Jack had met him the Tooth Fairy seemed to be on the defensive. "Shut up!"
David held up his hands defensively. "Hey, don't get offended. I'm sure even Santa Claus has to get his suit let out around the waist now and then."
"Ha!" the Tooth Fairy snorted, sensing an opportunity to regain the upper hand. "That's where you're wrong. You see, Santa doesn't even wear a red suit. His business runs on a subcontractor franchise model. Other people wear the red suits. He got too fat to wear his suit years ago."
At that moment Jack figured out a way he might free himself from the Tooth Fairy's grasp — just by asking a question. "Just how fat is Santa, then?"
The Tooth Fairy cocked his head to one side as he tried to remember. "Well, it's been a while since I last saw him." He thought for a few seconds. Then he slipped the pincers back into his tutu and let go of Jack's blazer — dropping him to the ground. The Tooth Fairy blew out his cheeks and held both his arms cupped in front of him to represent a bulging belly. "But back then he was about this fat."
Trudy saw that Jack had been set free. "Quick, run!" she yelled at him.
But Jack wasn't planning on running. Instead he dodged backward and grabbed the marker that had spilled out of his schoolbag. He held it out threateningly.
Four pairs of eyes darted from one face to another, wondering who was going to speak next. In the end it was David who broke the tense silence. "Look, I know the Tooth Fairy's famous and all, but I don't think that this is the time to be asking him for an autograph. ..."
Jack popped the top off the marker with his thumb. "This isn't for an autograph. ..."
The Tooth Fairy laughed. "So what are you going to do, then? Try and distract me with a game of Pictionary?"
Jacked stared into the Tooth Fairy's eyes and tried to look fearless. "This is a permanent marker."
"So?" The Tooth Fairy seemed unimpressed with Jack's words.
Jack didn't move his gaze from the Tooth Fairy. "You can't rub these off if they get on hard surfaces. And if you take another step, I'm going to color my teeth bright green." Jack held the tip of the pen right in front of his central incisors. "Now if I color my teeth green, they won't be any good for making into piano keys, will they? And I'm good at coloring in; I don't even go over the lines." Jack snarled, even though it was incredibly hard to be threatening when you were talking about coloring.
"You're bluffing. You'd never do that to your own teeth," growled the Tooth Fairy.
"If the choice is between having a set of green teeth and having a maniac in a tutu pulling them out with pliers, I know which one I'm choosing."
The Tooth Fairy lowered his pliers. "It looks like we have a standoff. But there won't always be a permanent marker here to save you." The Tooth Fairy sighed, turned, and walked away.
YOUR DOOM IS SEALED
"So why did you think the aquarium would be a good place to hide?" Jack asked. Although they had outwitted the Tooth Fairy, Trudy had suggested that it wouldn't have been wise to stay too close to the school. David had offered to stay on at the school and try to cover for their absence.
"I like the aquarium," Trudy snapped and walked on, refusing to say anything else.
"I don't have a problem with it either," Jack muttered following, "but it sounds educational. If we're going to get in trouble for missing school, I'd hate to think that we might accidentally learn something."
Trudy stopped in front of a tank in which a squid was propelling itself back and forth with its webbed tentacles. Its bulbous body was dark red in color, and a pair of red eyes gleamed out of the murky water.
"Vampire squid," said Trudy, pointing at the label on the tank. "Remind you of anyone?"
Jack stared into the murky water at the shape slowly undulating through the water, and he realized what she meant. "Cthulhu! I mean, the skin looks a bit healthier, and the eyes should be green instead of red ... but apart from that it's a dead ringer. Do you think they're related?"
Trudy sighed. "I don't think Cthulhu has any family."
"Everyone has family," said Jack. "I mean, even Cthulhu has to have a mother, right?"
Trudy looked so sad that Jack thought she was going to try to use The Speed. For a second he feared that she was going to hit his shoulder a hundred times in a second. Instead she just turned and walked away. Jack stood for a moment and gazed into the watery tank. The vampire squid floated all alone. Jack wondered if the squid was sad that it didn't have any friends. The good thing about living underwater was that even if you were really sad, at least no one could tell if you were crying.
As Trudy wandered through the aquarium, several of the employees nodded and smiled at her. Trudy tried to smile back at them, but smiling wasn't something that Trudy frequently practiced, and the result was closer to a snarl.
Jack was confused. Even adults didn't smile at Trudy — she radiated a kind of standoffishness that made people uneasy. And on top of that, Trudy certainly never smiled back — she seemed to be on her best behavior, for some reason. So that was two things that Jack was confused about. Thinking about it, Jack was uncertain which of these was more confusing. So now he was confused about being confused. ...
Jack turned and saw that Trudy had wandered out to an open-air sanctuary where injured seals were nursed back to health. He hurried after her, not wanting to get left behind. The sanctuary contained a range of rather sad-looking seals sitting around a pool filled with rocks and inflatable toys. Some of the seals had little bandages around their flippers. The seal sanctuary had been dug into the ground. If a seal leaned against the concrete wall, it could just about reach the bottom of a Plexiglas barrier that surrounded the concrete pit. The barrier prevented the animals from escaping into the sea, which lay just beyond a narrow breakwater made of boulders.
Excerpted from "The Monster's Daughter"
Copyright © 2017 Paul Gamble.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: If You Do Not Keep Up Your Payments Your Teeth May Be at Risk,
Chapter 2: Standoff,
Chapter 3: Your Doom Is Sealed,
Chapter 4: Non-fishy Sounds,
Chapter 5: A Snappy Escape,
Chapter 6: Parking,
Chapter 7: A Damp Squid,
Chapter 8: The Party Room,
Chapter 9: Prison Break,
Chapter 10: The Flood,
Chapter 11: Retail Therapy,
Chapter 12: The Third Degree,
Chapter 13: The World's Most Bizarre Game of Charades,
Chapter 14: Breakfast in Bed,
Chapter 15: A-Maze-d,
Chapter 16: The Spark Knight,
Chapter 17: Volty,
Chapter 18: True Heroism,
Chapter 19: Always Give Clear Instructions,
Chapter 20: Drill Practice,
Chapter 21: Typical Minotaur,
Chapter 22: The Narrowest of Margins,
Chapter 23: Too Many Clues,
Chapter 24: The Great Soap-Making Disaster,
Chapter 25: And We Have a Winner,
Chapter 26: You Know the Drill,
Chapter 27: The Warehouse,
Chapter 28: Take My Card,
Chapter 29: Surprisingly Accurate,
Chapter 30: Echoes of the Past,
Chapter 31: Puppet Master,
Chapter 32: Take My Breath Away,
Chapter 33: Practice Makes Perfect,
Chapter 34: First Piece of the Puzzle,
Chapter 35: Two Buckets,
Chapter 36: Carnival,
Chapter 37: Whole Lot of Shaking Going On,
Chapter 38: Charades with Seals,
Chapter 39: What's in Store?,
Chapter 40: The Horn of a Dilemma,
Chapter 41: An Inconvenient Tooth,
Chapter 42: A Convenient Tooth,
Chapter 43: The World's Largest Plug Hole,
Chapter 44: The Mystery of Atlantis,
Chapter 45: Black Bag Operation,
Chapter 46: The Wrong Answers,
Chapter 47: Crazy and Cracked,
Chapter 48: A Well-Designed Dungeon,
Chapter 49: A Scuttling Noise,
Chapter 50: Charades Again,
Chapter 51: The Cavalry Arrives,
Chapter 52: The Zipline,
Chapter 53: The Advantages of Aquarobics,
Chapter 54: Bang Bang,
Chapter 55: The Cavalry Has Tentacles,
Chapter 56: Explanations,
About the Author,