Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Girl Who Went Bing, Part Nine

Shortcut to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight

"Right," said Mr Bonathon, feeling about his person as if looking for something. "Now where did I put that scrap of paper?"

Spotting it, he picked up a huge sheet of paper from his desk, and lay it flat on the floor.

"Now Zena," he said, holding out the tracheavinator. "I want you to take this device and write your name and your age on this piece of paper."

Zena nodded and took the tracheavinator from Mr Bonathon. She knelt down and wrote in her very best handwriting:


She stared at her own words in stunned silence. She was even WRITING in Binglish now!

"Right," said Mr Bonathon, taking the device from Zena. "Now I want you to write that again, except this time..." Mr Bonathon flicked a tiny switch in the side of the tracheavinator. "This time it's going to be turned on."

He handed the pencil back to Zena, and she settled down to write on the enormous sheet of paper once more:


"Oh," said Mr Bonathon, his brow frowning and his features creasing. "Oh dear."

Zena looked up at him. What was so wrong? What SHOULD have happened?

As if reading her mind, Mr Bonathon answered her question. "I've never seen that before. Normally the tracheavinator would translate at least some of the Binglish back into English. So it might have read, "BING Zena BING-BING, I am six BING." But in your case it didn't translate anything at all. I am afraid that this is the worst case of Binglish I have ever seen."

"Bing, bing-bing?" asked Zena.

"Yes, I'm afraid so. I'll arrange for him to call round immediately after school."

Mr Bonathon began to usher Zena out of the door but, when she turned around to thank him, she found that she was already standing back out in the corridor. She was stood in front of Professor Wallace's very plain and ordinary-looking office door.

The whole event had been so bizarre that Zena rather fancied that she had imagined the whole thing, and that next time she opened her mouth she would speak perfectly normally.

And so she went back to the classroom. Mrs Kate told her rather abruptly to sit back down in her seat and so Zena responded in the only appropriate manner.

"Yes, Miss," she said politely. Only, as I am sure you must already have guessed, it didn't sound like, "Yes, Miss." Zena was so upset that she burst into tears and ran from the room.

"Come back here, you naughty child!" bellowed Mrs Kate furiously.

But Zena didn't come back. She kept running, and she kept crying, and she didn't stop until she arrived home. She left a trail of tears behind her, down corridors, through doors, across the playground and all the way down the road to her house.

All the while Mrs Kate yelled after her in an increasingly angry voice, and Zena even thought she could hear her, albeit faintly, from the end of her road.

Zena went through her front door, slammed it shut and leant back on it on the other side. She breathed in and out. Slowly, and deeply. In. Out. In. Out. In-


The door bell! Who could possibly be ringing the doorbell? There had been no one behind her as far as she could see. But then, she hadn't really been looking. Besides, how could she answer the door in her state? She couldn't possibly tell them anything they needed to know.


Well, whoever it was, they weren't about to walk away. So Zena turned, slowly, and carefully opened the door.

It was a man. A very tall man. So tall that he had to stoop to make his face show in the doorway. He was wearing bright blue overalls, like a plumber. Bizarrely, given that it was early summer, he also wore a pair of pink fluffy ear-muffs.

"Hello there, young lady," he said, pulling his ear-muffs down around his neck. "You must be Bing - erm, Zena." He offered his sizeable hand for Zena to shake. "I'm Mr Jamin."

To be continued...


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