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Billy Johnson discovers a strange but endearing creature up his chimney.
A short piece I wrote for my A Level English Lang course, just rediscovered and thought I'd post. Enjoy!
It was winter, and the house was cold. Despite the central heating being on the highest mark, the Johnson family were sitting in the living room in coats, scarves and hats, shivering. Then Mrs Johnson made a suggestion.
“Why don’t you start a fire, dear?” she said to Mr Johnson. Mr Johnson thought that was a brilliant idea. It would be lovely to sit in front of a nicely roaring fire and hearing the sharp crack of the logs as they split apart in a bright shower of sparks.
“Mind you put the fire guard on though,” Mrs Johnson warned Mr Johnson. “We don’t want little Billy to get burned.”
Little Billy Johnson was just six years old, and the winters he could remember had never been as cold as this one. The wind howled against the windows, as though begging to be let into the warmth. Snow billowed and flurried in beautiful patterns, as though dancing in the wind. Sometimes Billy thought the chimney must be blocked up for the snow never to come down. He had often peered up the chimney to see if he could see the snow at the top, but all he ever saw was a thick blackness that clung to the chimney shaft and seemed to absorb all the light.
Mr Johnson soon had the fire crackling merrily, and Mr Johnson, Mrs Johnson and little Billy Johnson were starting to feel very warm and cosy. Suddenly there came a little noise from the chimney, and the fire was blown out in a big cloud of soot and smoke! The Johnsons began coughing and the carpet was blanketed in a layer of black dirt. Mrs Johnson was furious. Mr Johnson tried to calm her down, whilst Billy, overcome with curiosity, knelt in front of the extinguished fire and peered up the chimney. What he saw made him gasp in fright, for there were two small yellow eyes peering right back at him!
Billy soon overcame his big scare, and began talking to the eyes in the chimney.
“What are you doing up there?” he asked, as though this was the most natural thing for a six year old boy to be doing at that moment. “Won’t you come down? Maybe you’re stuck up there?” The creature did not reply. Instead, a gurgling sound carried down the chimney, and the thing coughed up a great bout of soot. Deciding that the thing with the yellow eyes was indeed stuck up the chimney, Billy called to his parents and told them that they needed to get the poor creature out.
A few hours later, after the fire brigade had come and gone, the Johnson family were left with a small black furry animal on their black carpet. It was very strange. It was about the size of a football, and just as round. It had two arms and two legs, but its body had no head; instead the body had two yellow eyes, two large nostrils and a wide mouth that seemed to have no teeth but a very long, black tongue. It was also covered in feathers. Mrs Johnson supposed that it had been stuck up the chimney for so long that the pigeons that nested on the chimney-top must have dropped them all. Nobody knew what kind of animal it could be, for it did not resemble anything like a dog, cat, rabbit or guinea pig. Finally, they settled on calling it the chimney monster.
Mrs Johnson insisted they take it to the RSPCA to see if they could give it a home, and, perhaps, identify it. Mr Johnson agreed that was the wisest thing to do, but Billy pleaded and pleaded that he could look after it.
“Please can I keep him as a pet?” he asked, his big blue eyes gazing imploringly at his parents. How could they resist such eagerness? Yes, they said, he could keep the chimney monster. But he had to feed it and clean it and find a place for it to sleep. Billy didn’t think that would be a problem.
He soon found that keeping the chimney monster was indeed a problem. For a start, he couldn’t find a single thing in the house that it would eat. He tried giving it carrots, cabbage, lettuce, but the chimney monster didn’t seem to like rabbit food. He gave it dog food that was left over since their dog died, but it didn’t like that either. He gave it left-overs from his dinner, smuggling them up from the dinner table, but the chimney monster was very fussy. Every time it was offered food, it simply made its gurgling sound and coughed to shower soot all over Billy’s bedcovers. So Billy thought, and thought, and thought some more, and finally, he came up with the answer. The chimney monster had lived in the chimney, so perhaps it ate coal.
To test out his theory, Billy took the chimney monster down to the living room and plucked a piece of coal from the cold fireplace. Offering this to the creature, he saw its eyes light up and knew that he had found the answer. He placed the coal next to the monster’s big mouth, and it immediately ate it, though after a second it began gurgling, then spat the coal out again. Billy thought that maybe the coal was too big, for the monster had no teeth to chew it with. He broke the piece up with his fingers, and scattered them on the carpet. The chimney monster’s long tongue came out straight away to scoop up the coal pieces. Billy felt immensely happy.
One day Mrs Johnson sat down with Billy as he fed the chimney monster more coal. It had taken to sleeping up the chimney itself at night and often scurried away up there during the day, as though it did not like the daylight.
“Billy, your father and I are thinking of moving house,” Mrs Johnson said. Billy thought about this, decided it was not such a bad thing, but had to know if he could take his chimney monster with him to the new house.
“Well, I’m afraid the new house has got central heating, and the fireplace has been bricked up, so there will be nowhere for the chimney monster to live.” Billy was very upset by this, and looked sadly at his pet, which he had come to feel an odd affection for, despite all the soot it coughed up. The chimney monster looked back at him and blinked. Then Billy had an idea. He phoned up his best friend, Eddie, whom he knew to have an open fireplace and a big chimney for the chimney monster to live in. He told his friend all about the chimney monster and asked him if he would let it live in his chimney, since they were moving house. Eddie agreed (after asking his parents if it was alright to keep a monster up the chimney), so Billy began to feel better.
Soon enough, the time came for the Johnson family to move. Billy took the chimney monster to Eddie’s house, where it settled in straight away, scooting up the chimney before Eddie and his family had a chance to meet it. Billy told him everything about it; what it liked to eat, where it slept and also its habit of coughing up dirty soot. Eddie didn’t seem to mind and became quite excited about his new pet. The Johnsons left them together, and went to settle into their own home. Billy visited the chimney monster regularly, but it didn’t respond to him. It seemed it was happiest stuck up the dark sooty chimney. So there it stayed.
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