The story that never was

So I was looking through some files and found this. It's the first chapter of the kids story (blogel?) that I would've written if 'Into the Black' hadn't got the most votes. (I'd written the first chapter ready because I thought everyone would vote for a Harry Potter rip off over a Hitchhiker's guide rip off. My bad.) Anywho, here's the one and only chapter of:


Chapter One: The Orphanage.

Once upon a time, in a world not unlike our own, there was a boy called Woe.

“Honestly what sort of name for a child! In all my years...,” Sister Mary said, looking down at the baby boy, her big blue eyes filled with pity. The boy simply looked back up at her and giggled.

“You ask me, the boy is cursed. The sooner we get that one shipped off to a family the better,” said the stern-looking, stern-talking and even sterner-acting Mother Dorothy as she blessed herself. Outside the wind wailed and the sky wept. Sister Mary tightened her dressing gown, in a battle to keep out the cold.

“Oh come now Dorothy, it's not the child's doing to choose his entry into the world, or his name. We shall treat him kindly, as we do all the others.”

“But what of his parents... If word should get out...”

“It's best no more is said. People must not know; he mustn't know. We can say he's an orphan of the plague.”

“Lying seems to come easily to you, Sister. Not sure what the lord would have of that.”

“If the lord gave me the gift, I suppose he would want me to use it; for good, of course,” Sister Mary replied as Dorothy looked down at a small red box that lay next to the child.

“But what will we do with this?” Mother Dorothy asked, holding the box up for Sister Mary to view its contents.

“We'll store it in the safe. He can have it when he comes of age. Or if he ever suspects the truth about his parents... Now help me get him settled into the nursery.” And so it came to be that Woe found his first home: The Orphanage.

The first few years of Woe's life were uneventful. When he was nine months old, a young couple from the town of South Ridge almost adopted him. They were nice; the woman smelled of strawberries and her husband was a robust man who seemed just as solid in virtue.

“Does he have a name?” asked the woman.

“Yes, dear,” answered Sister Mary, hoping to delay the inevitable.

“Well, what is it, then?” asked the man.

“His name is Woe,” Sister Mary replied.

“Woe? Oh,” replied the man. He then looked at a baby girl to the right of Woe's cot. “Honey, have you seen this little cutie pie?” he asked his wife.

“Oh yes, she's simply adorable!”

Now you and I mustn't think too harshly of this young couple, for theirs is world with traditions and beliefs different to our own. Instead you must consider that in their world, names were often viewed as a sign of what's to come. It is for this reason that the name Woe was not a common or popular name. While we may think it fickle and foolish to judge someone based solely on their name, they could well argue that all too often our world judges people too quickly based on appearance.

In the years that followed, the same scene played out many a time, to the sadness of Sister Mary and the frustration of Mother Dorothy. Woe for his part didn't seem to mind. All he knew of the world was the orphanage, and while he may have lived in fear of Mother Dorothy, Sister Mary was the closest thing to family he had, and the orphanage, the closest thing to a home.

Situated on the outskirts of Shine Valley, the orphanage was also a working farm, where children were expected to work toward the farm's maintenance. From the age of four, Woe earned his keep, whether it be cleaning the barns or tending to the animals. Although truth be told, it was the animals that were his passion.

Once a month, he would go with Sister Mary and some of the other older children to visit the Gu'gons – sheep-like creatures that shed their fur when scared. One by one, in the early hours of the morning, the children would put on creepy masks, sneak up on the Gu'gons and bang pots and pans, frightening them terribly. For their part the Gu'gons would jump a good eight feet up in the air and when they landed, they were as naked as the day they were born. Their fur would slowly float down to the ground a few seconds later for the children to collect.

Woe always felt sorry for the Gu'gons on those cold mornings. He understood it was for the best, after all they would be weighed down by all their fur if they didn't occasionally shed it, and the orphanage needed the money it made from selling their coats, but still he couldn't help feeling guilty.

One morning Woe was ordered by Mother Dorothy to collect the fur from Bohesian – the youngest Gu'gon on the farm. As he crept up on the small animal, he felt an unease in his stomach. He just couldn't do it. Putting down his mask and pots and pans, he sat on the wet grass and watched as the Gu'gon strolled by. Oh boy am I going to be in trouble with Dorothy when she finds out, Woe thought to himself. Rumour had it she sometimes hit children with soap when she was angry with them. Why soap? he wondered, before he felt a soft tugging at his jumper. He turned to discover Bohesian nestling up next to him, the animal's way of saying hello. Woe smiled and began to forget about his impending punishment. So what if they take away my dinner, it's probably Dorothy's horrible soup anyway, he decided.

Woe and Bohesian spent the morning playing and then a remarkable thing happened. Woe tickled Bohesian and the Gu'gon let out a massive giggle and went flying up in the air laughing. When she landed happily, she didn't have any fur! Moments later, it floated down on top of Woe's head.

Woe quickly collected the fur and raced down the field as fast as he could to Mother Dorothy's office. If he was fast enough maybe he would avoid a soapy punishment after all. He banged on her door and waited patiently for her answer.

“Come in,” came the gruff reply. He did as he was told.

“What time do you call this?” asked Mother Dorothy as she pointed to an hour-glass like object on her desk. “It's past sun's peak,” she continued. Woe placed the fur down on a chair.

“Lucky for you,” replied Mother Dorothy as she approached Woe, placing her hand on the fur. She stopped. Ran her hand through it more carefully.

“Is this Bohesian's fur?” she asked.


“But it's so soft...”

In the days that followed, they discovered that tickling the Gu'gon was a far more effective way of gaining their fur. Not only did the Gu'gon love it, the fur was somehow softer to the touch – people soon remarked that the fur from the orphanage was the best around. Not that Mother Dorothy ever said thanks to Woe.

Despite Woe's achievements with the Gu'gons, his favourite animal on the farm was, by far and away, the Synchu.

The Synchu are a strange creature that lay eggs which appear and taste identical to what we know to be eggs from a chicken. However, if you were to see one, you would swear a Sychu itself looked more like an pony-sized elephant mixed with a squirrel. When he was seven years old, Woe was put in charge of collecting the eggs from Duke, the leader of the Synchu.

“Good morning, Duke,” Woe would say on one of his typical visits. “Do you have any eggs for me today?”

“Hello Master Woe,” Duke would reply, for like all Synchu, he had mastered rudimentary speech. “I have eggs six for you if you solve this simple puzzle,” he'd often continue, as everyone knows Synchu never give up eggs unless it was to a creature that had mastered reason and could therefore appreciate the gift they were being given.

“You're walking in a dark cave with a box of matches when you come across an altar. On the altar is an oil lamp, a candle and a fireplace. What do you light first?”

Woe would normally then think on the riddle for a minute, usually biting his lip as he did. Then a smile would appear.

“I'd light a match first!”

“Very good, master Woe,” Duke would reply laughing and happily hand over the eggs with his trunk. In return Woe would scatter grain out in the fields for the Synchu to enjoy.

Yes, all in all, life on the farm wasn't so bad for an orphan. But then something happened that no one could have envisioned.

Woe was adopted.

2 Response to The story that never was

  1. Dale says:

    Really do like this. Still good on second read! What was to become of Woe? What was in the red box? Where did I leave my keys? (If you answer at least one of those questions, make it the last!)

  2. I'm sure he would've lived happily ever after with his new family. Haha, nah. The family would've only lasted a chapter. But I imagine he would go on an amazing adventure across worlds and bring down an evil empire before the story was over - as well as discover the meaning behind his name...

    But for the life of me, I can't remember what was going to be in the red box. :S Oh and you'll find your keys in the last place you look. :)