Copyright Darren M. Marshall 2005 ©
Television Tim loved watching TV. In fact, he often wished that he could become a television, all big and square and filled to the brim with tales of action and adventure from this world and others. Obsessed, addicted, mad about, Tim spent every spare minute he could watching TV programs, cartoons and films. In fact, TV felt more real to him than the world about him and he often used to forget for hours at a time that there was a real world. He would even forget about his poor mum, dad and his best friends. Television Tim really did deserve his nickname.
One hot summer’s day, Tim sat sweating buckets in one of his school’s spare classrooms at lunchtime, enjoying one of his favourite cartoons. A big fly was buzzing around the room and slowly but surely, it began to annoy him.
Really, really annoy him.
Bzzzz! Bzzzz! Bzzzz! Bzzzz!
“Shoo!” said Tim. “Go away!”
Tim turned the volume up on the TV, but this seemed to spur the fly on to even greater efforts.
Tim tried to swat the fly with his hand whilst keeping his eyes firmly on his cartoon, but the fly just carried on flying around and around, easily avoiding Tim.
BZZ! BZ! BZZ-HE-HE-BZZZZ!
It sounded like it was laughing! Laughing at poor little Tim.
“If only I had a big hammer like the one Mutant Mickey the Muscle Mouse has, then you’d be in for it,” he warned the fly, shaking his fist in the fly’s general direction.
The cartoon he was watching was one of his favourites where Mickey the Muscle Mouse chased Pursey the cat around a big house, trying to hit Pursey with his big rubber hammer.
For just a second, Tim felt all funny and faint inside his body. Then, like a great big DONG!! of Big Ben’s bell ringing, it occurred to Tim that he could simply grab Mickey’s hammer. So, just like that, he reached in through the screen (it felt like jelly!) and plucked the hammer out of a rather surprised Mutant Mickey’s hand. With a shout of triumph, Tim turned and whap! Tim squashed the fly flat. The splat looked like a tiny, icky, black and red pancake. It reminded him of the joke about flies – what is the last thing that goes through a fly’s head when it hits a car windscreen? It’s bottom! Tim had to admit that he was quite chuffed with having splatted the fly.
From behind him, he heard a tapping on the screen of the television. It was Mickey, looking sternly at Tim, as if he was about to give poor Tim a proper good telling off. Before Mutant Mickey could say anything, Tim pushed the hammer back into the TV and into Mickey’s hands. Tim quickly turned off the TV and plopped himself down in his chair. Wow, he thought.
Tim had really liked television before. Now he simply loved it. Imagine what fun he could have!
Tim’s mum picked him up from School. She was late, and he was sweating buckets from having waited outside for ten minutes in the boiling hot sunshine. On the way home, he tried to tell her about his amazing new ability. She didn’t believe him.
“Oh Timmy,” she said. “Don’t talk such rubbish.” She tutted loudly and gave him a very cross look.
“But Mummy,” Tim pleaded, “It’s true, I really did take the hammer from out of the telly.”
Tim’s mum just sighed and didn’t reply. This upset Tim greatly. Why wouldn’t his mum believe him? Tim was a good boy and never lied to his parents, so why would she think he was fibbing now? He’d have to show his mum it was true when they got home. Was she so irritable and short with him because it was so hot in his mum’s car?
As they bounced slowly along the road in his mum’s terribly slow and rattling car, Tim realised what he could do to show his mum he wasn’t lying. A big grin spread across his face and he bounced excitedly up and down in his seat. He was so happy with his great idea that he even listened to his mum’s usual gossiping and moaning as they drove home. His mum’s favourite topic was his dad’s smelly feet and socks and because Tim was in such a great mood, he happily agreed with his mum about them. Boy, did they stink!
Tim and his mum arrived home, and he dashed into the living room as he always did after school. His Mum just tutted again and shook her head. She headed off into the kitchen to start dinner for the family.
Tim grabbed hold of his most treasured item – the television remote control (chief cause of an ongoing war with his Dad over who got to have it) – and flicked through the television channels one after another.
“No…” SWITCH “No…” SWITCH “Yes!”
He’d found an advert for a really groovy looking sports car that he knew his mum would just love. Tim reached into the television, grabbed the car by its front bumper and started pulling with all his strength. Slowly, it began to move and came towards him, towards the screen of the television. He could hear the advert’s voice-over man shouting and getting all worked up, but Tim just ignored him and kept on pulling. When it reached the screen of the TV, the car bumped into the edges of the screen and stopped. It was too wide to come out through the screen!
“You’re coming out, ready or not!” squeaked Tim.
With a gnashing of teeth, Timmy pulled with every bit of strength he could find.
Tim pulled and pulled and the car bulged and bulged, and suddenly with a loud pop and then an even louder crash the car whooshed out of the TV and into the living room. Tim was lucky to scramble out of the way of the car as it flattened nearly everything in its way.
The dust cloud began to settle as his mum ran into the room, worried to death and shouting for her son. She came to a screeching halt as she saw the car and everything around it that had been crushed by the car. Her mouth gaped open and Tim thought her chin might actually touch the floor.
“Erm,” said Tim. “Surprise?” he said, looking very sheepish indeed. I’m in big trouble, he thought. Actually bigger than big. Bigger than huge. Bigger even than massively, hugely big! I’m in stupidly-massively-hugely-big trouble!
Tim’s mum was still lost for words. She looked at Tim and then looked at the car and then around the room again. Her jaw went up and down, up and down, in total disbelief. Everything was broken. The sofa was crushed under one wheel, the coffee table under another. The Hi-Fi system was smashed to bits and covered the bonnet of the car. In fact, the only thing to survive without a scratch on it was the television. Tim was very relieved about that.
“Timothy!” Tim’s mum finally cried. That confirmed it – Tim knew he was in proper nearly-wet-your-pants trouble when his mum called him Timothy. “What have you done? Where did this car come from? My crystal vase!”
It was nearly a week before the living room was repaired and the car removed. Tim had insisted that he could put the car back in the TV but his mum and dad had completely ignored Tim. He was sent to his room and wasn’t allowed back into the living room until the car had been taken away piece by piece through the patio doors. His mean old dad grounded Television Tim for two weeks. Two weeks without TV. It was very hard on poor Timmy. After all, he’d only wanted to give his mother a new car.
Being able to get things from out of the television wasn’t as fun as he thought it would be. No fun at all. He couldn’t even go out and play with his friends in the glorious summer weather.
After two tortuously boring and sweaty weeks without television, Tim was finally allowed (after a stern lecture from his father) back into the living room so that he could watch TV. Timmy felt so happy to see the television that he cried with happiness. He ran to the TV and gave it an enormous hug and kissed it all over as his Mother and Father watched him, shaking their heads in puzzlement. Surely a young boy shouldn’t want to hug and kiss his TV? It wasn’t normal.
Tim promised himself not to take anything out of the television again and before long, things went back to normal. Everything except the weather. It got hotter and hotter. The weathermen on TV (oh how Tim wanted to shoot one with a water-pistol!) said things like it was the hottest year in recorded history (whatever that meant) and his Dad wasn’t allowed to water the garden with his hose pipe any longer. Even watching TV took effort, as it was just so hot in the living room and in the classrooms at school.
One day Tim was at home, watching TV alone while his mum was in the kitchen and his dad sunbathed outside, when Tim suddenly realised that he could stop it being so hot. He jumped up and whooped for joy. He could watch television without being all hot and sweaty. His dad could water the garden properly again and his mum would stop complaining all the time about the weather. Timmy forgot all about his promise and started flicking through the tv channels looking for what he wanted.
“No…” CLICK “No…” CLICK “No… c’mon…” –CLICK- “Woohoo! Yes!CLICK “Woo-He reached into the television’s screen but suddenly Timmy yelped with pain and jerked his arm out of the TV. He fell onto the carpet, landing heavily on his bum. The sun inside the TV was hot. Boiling! Tim sat on the carpet for a minute, sucking his burnt thumb, thinking hard.
Tim clicked his fingers and cheered. He dashed upstairs into his bedroom to get the water pistol that he’d been tempted to shoot at the weathermen with. He’d squirt the sun on the television program and put it out! He cackled to himself as he filled the pistol up and then back in the living room he took careful aim and with a whoosh water gushed out of the water pistol, into the television and all over the sun. Perfect shot!
And then, all at once, everything went dark. Really dark. Tim screamed in fright. He could hear his dad in the garden shouting and then a loud crash. Television Tim’s dad must have fallen over something and into the shed. He could hear his mum desperately trying to find her way into the living room.
“Timmy! Timmy!” she cried. “Are you in there? The lights have gone out!” Tim didn’t know what to say.
“Erm,” he said, “I don’t think it’s the lights, Mum. I think the sun has gone out!”
“What?!” she replied. “Don’t be so silly!”
“Look out of the window, Mum,” he whimpered. His Mother suddenly shrieked in terror and Tim jumped.
“Oh dear Lord,” she cried. “Dad, dad are you ok?”
“I’m ok,” groaned dad from somewhere out in the garden. “I can’t see a thing – the sun has gone out!”
“How?” begged his mum. “How on earth could the Sun have gone out?!”
Tim had a feeling that this time he was going to be grounded for a lot longer than two weeks. He wondered if he’d ever watch TV again. He felt his mum’s hand touch him and he wrapped himself around her.
“Mommy,” he said, “I know why the Sun has gone out.” Tim started crying.
“You do? How?”
“I did it, Mummy,” he wailed. “I found a TV program that was about a beach holiday and I got my water pistol and I squirted the sun on the program and made it go out! I just wanted it to stop being so hot.”
“What? What?” his mum said, almost speechless.
“I hope you’re joking,” called his dad, still tangled up in the garden.
Tim shook his head and then realised that they couldn’t see him.
“I really did, Dad. Sorry, mum.”
There was a long pause as TV Tim’s mum and dad finally realised that their son had been telling the truth all along.
“You’d better figure out a way to turn the sun back on Timmy. Do you know what will happen to us if you don’t?”
“No?” squeaked Tim, terrified.
“The sun keeps our entire planet warm,” said his dad. “Without the sun, the Earth will become way colder than it is at the North Pole. Do you know how cold that is, Timothy?”
“Very!” squealed Tim. It was already getting cold. He could hear his dad finally find his way to the living room. Light suddenly attacked Tim’s eyes, and he raised his arms to block the light from his eyes. Good old Dad! He’d realised that the house still had power and had switched the living room lights on. Both his mum and dad stood and scowled at Tim. But more than that, he could see how scared they were. Terrified. Something terrible would happen if Tim couldn’t figure out a way to turn the real Sun back on, and quickly.
Tim looked back at the television. The screen was black but he could hear screams and shouting coming from the beach goers on the program. Of course! If the sun was out on the program, then he wouldn’t be able to see anything on there either! How the heck was he supposed to turn the sun back on if he couldn’t see it? He stroked his chin and thought as hard as he ever had in his whole life. How? How!?
“Timmy!” cried his mum. “Quickly!”
“I’m thinking Mummy,” he moaned. Maybe there was something he could see on another TV channel. He grabbed the remote and flicked to the next channel. Mutant Mickey! It was his favourite cartoon again. He had an idea.
“Timmy!” cried his Dad, “This is no time to start watching television, you have the world to save!”
Shivering, Tim ignored his dad. Shivering? Already? It was getting cold so quickly! Mutant Mickey the Muscle Mouse was chasing Pursey the Cat around with an enormous pair of scissors, trying to cut Pursey’s tail off. Tim reached into the TV and snatched the scissors off Mickey.
“Hey!” shouted Mickey. He spotted Tim and dashed up to the television’s screen. “It’s you again! Give me back my scissors, you scoundrel, before I whack you with my mallet!”
“Gah” said his mum and dad together, gob-smacked. A cartoon character talking to their son?
Bravely, for Tim was very frightened by big bad Mickey, Tim said, “If you want the scissors back you need to do something for me.”
“What? Preposterous. No chance. Give me my scissors before I come out there and take them back after having twisted your head off!”
“Try it,” smiled Timmy. He heard two loud thuds behind him and turned to see that his mum and dad had both fainted and were lying together in a heap on the sofa. Oops. He heard a scraping at the television screen and looked back to see Mickey desperately trying to climb out of the TV. He couldn’t get through, and in the background Pursey the Cat was laughing uproariously at Mutant Mickey the Muscle Mouse.
“Grr,” growled Mickey. “What do you want me to do, you horrible child?”
“Nothing much,” lied Timmy. “Just turn the sun back on.”
“You’ve gone mad, kiddo,” said Mickey.
Tim spent the next couple of minutes explaining what had happened and what he needed Mickey to do. Tim was now shaking hard with the cold and he could see ice crystals forming on the patio windows. Were there snowflakes falling outside?
“Ok,” said Mickey, “I’ll do it. Bring me through, snot-nose.”
Tim took a deep, frosty breath and pulled Mickey from out of his cartoon and into the real world. Mickey looked around the living room with amazement.
“Nice place, kid,” said Mickey. “Bit cold though!” Tim pressed the TV remote, and the TV flicked back to the previous channel. The surfers and holidaymakers on the beach were still making a tremendous racket. Timmy wondered if there were similar scenes occurring across the rest of the world. Probably people everywhere were screaming and crying, fearing the worst. And getting cold. Freezing. Maybe even getting poorly.
I’ve caused all this, thought Tim, and I’m flipping well, going to fix it all too!
Tim shoved Mickey into the TV and stood back to watch. He’d done his bit. Now it was down to Mutant Mickey the Muscle Mouse to save the world.
Fear ran through him like an electric shock. What have I done? I’ve laid the safety of the world in the hands of a grumpy and down right nasty cartoon character whose only purpose in life was to try to chop Pursey the Cat into as many pieces as possible! We’re all doomed!
But then he saw a light flick on inside the TV and it lit up a portion of the beach. Mickey had turned his torch on. Tim watched in awe as people clambered over each other to get away from Mickey, screaming even more than they were before.
Mickey brought the beam of the torch up into the sky and tried to find the Sun. Come on, come on, thought Tim. Find it! Tim’s nose and ears were hurting as bad as those times in winter when your ears are freezing and one of your friends sneaks up on you and flicks your ear! Ow!
There it was! Mickey had found the sun. It looked like a shrivelled up tomato that was feeling very sorry for itself. A bit like how mum looks after she’s been in a hot bath for too long, Tim thought with a chuckle.
From out of nowhere Mickey produced an enormous cigarette lighter and held it up as high as he could and tried to relight the sun. Tim crossed his fingers and prayed.
Nothing. Mickey was too far from the sun. The flame from the lighter wasn’t having any effect! Mickey the Muscle Mouse started jumping up and down and waving his arms around like he was covered in ants. He looked really cross.
Cross with me, maybe? wondered Tim. Ah! Hold him up to the sun! Of course! Television Tim reached in and, being careful not to get burnt by Mickey’s massive lighter, he took hold of Mickey and lifted him until the flame of the lighter was licking all over the shrivelled up prune of a Sun.
“Please-o-please-o-please-o-please,” begged Tim. Slowly, the sun warmed up. It glowed a dark red colour. It brightened more, a strong, vibrant red. Tim dared to feel hopeful. “Come on, sun! Please restart!” Outside, the sky had glowed – the actual Sun was glowing too! It was working!
Suddenly, the sun burst back into life. WHUMPFFFFF!! It was so hot that Tim had to jerk his hand away and he almost dropped Mickey. Outside it became day again, with only the snow and ice to show that the sun had ever been put out. All the people on the beach were cheering and hugging each other despite there being a giant hand holding a big mutant cartoon character in the sky. They didn’t care – the sun was working again and they could see.
TV Tim was overwhelmed with relief and joy. “Mom, dad!” shouted Tim, still holding Mickey. “Wake up! Wake up! The Sun is shining again.” Slowly they woke up and looked around. When they realised the sun was indeed shining, they jumped up and, cheering in delight, they gave Tim a huge great big hug.
“Well done, Timmy!” they both cried. “How did you do it?!”
“Team work,” beamed Tim, and he pulled Mickey out from the TV and gave Mickey a great big hug. Mickey moaned unhappily and pushed Tim away.
“Teamwork blah blah blah. Whatever!” said the big Mutant Muscle Mouse. “Just give me my scissors back so I can chop that pesky cat to pieces!”
Tim and his parents looked at each other and rolled around on the floor, crying with laughter. The world had nearly ended, but all this cartoon character was bothered about was getting back to his fight with Pursey.
Timmy gave the scissors to Mickey and, thanking him, put him back in his cartoon. Pursey the Cat gestured rudely at Mutant Mickey and ran off. Mickey roared in anger at the cat and chased after him. Tim switched off the TV and turned back to his parents.
“I’m very sorry, Mum and Dad,” he said meekly. For a moment, his mum and dad looked like they were going to give him the biggest telling off possible, but then they just wrapped their arms around him and gave him another enormous hug. His mum kissed him all over his face and cried with happiness.
“You corrected your mistake, son,” said his father, “and admitted your mistake and apologised for it too. You’re becoming a responsible young man, Tim, and we’re mighty proud of you.”
Tim welled up with pride. He looked at his mum and dad with newfound love.
“Good lad,” said his dad, and he ruffled Timmy’s hair.
The sun slowly warmed up the world like a mother cuddling her baby and Tim and his parents settled down on the sofa to watch the news, which was now on almost every channel. All the News people raved about the sun going out but no one could give any reason why. Tim and his parents smiled at each other. They knew. A weather man came on to give his thoughts on the day’s events.
Now, wondered Television Tim, where did I put that water pistol.