(Archived) 8. Word of Otter – by yusuf Barrett (aged 10)

In a forest, there was a family. They were animals. No, not that kind of animal, a real animal, otters. BUT. There was something odd about those otters that I’ll let you guess what it is. No, they don’t have spikes, no, they have tails, and no, they don’t have fangs. Shall I tell you? OK. It’s not very useful, but they’re all different colours! They lived in a serene environment. They were peaceful, calm creatures who were happy with what they had. For some time, they were very lucky to be like this, because some of their friends had faced diseases, nasty farmers, pollution, habitat loss, and being captured. But one day, to this particular family, DUN DUN DUUUUUN! Capture happened!

It was a stormy day as the daughter of the otter cheiftain Skor fished in a nearby pond. And as the bait (which was three colourful feathers (and the hook was carved out of yew)) hit the calm surface of the water, she heard a bang. Exploding sticks! thought Mara (for that was her name) then suddenly this big heavy thing landed on her and the others. You know when you feel that weird bubbly sensation that’s fear? This is what Mara felt as her and her family were dragged off. She had also just realised that her young brother, Finbar, was missing. He had been collecting blackberries. The scariness of the situation mixed with her feelings had made the undesired effect. So of course you would understand why the waterworks turned on and the ground was spattered with tears. 

Meanwhile, Finbar was, as I already said, joyfully picking blackberries. 

“I can’t wait to show them this lot!” He murmured, as he was holding a collossal cluster of beautiful ripe, juicy berries. When he got back, he called out “Hey guys! come see these!” S I L E N C E. He tried again. “Guys? Are you there?” A B S O L U T E S I L E N C E. His eyes nearly popped in surprise and he dropped the mound of blackberries he was holding as he saw the drag marks of the net.

The otters were bundled into a big, smelly, moving, metal box with wheels. And as a noise like thunder started, they sped off. But just before they were shoved in, one clever otter had left a spraint…

Meanwhile, as Finbar got a taste of despair, he also got a taste of determination and he made up his mind to rescue his family.

“I will get to them and nothing can stop me!” braved Finbar. Braved, because he was Finbar, The Blue Rocket!

Finbar sniffed the air. A spraint! He followed the scent until he came to a dusty old track that was recently disturbed. Just then, Finbar noticed a glint of green from the corner of his eye. He trotted over. It was a business card! It said ‘Scarhigh Lab – Please call 035296457 for any enquiries’

So that’s what it’s called. Thought Finbar, and now thoroughly terrified, he set off.

So he trekked… And trekked… And trekked. And yes, people made a great deal of  him, because of his blue (aquamarine, to be precise) pelt. Besides, he was an otter IN A CITY. You don’t find them there, do you? However he ignored the people’s screams because he was fixated on his family. But then, suddenly, an ear-splitting shriek that he couldn’t ignore pierced the air. Finbar looked up. A golden eagle (known as Ironbeak among otters)! Lets just have a break for a moment, so I can explain that Finbar was young, so the Ironbeak would be more likely to attack him. Finbar ran for his life. The eagle gave chase. Finbar dodged this way and that, narrowly avoiding furious pecks from above. A-ha! thought Finbar as he spotted an open window ahead.

“Catch me if you can!” jeered Finbar as he scrambled up the wall and shot through the window, just as the Ironbeak attempted to dive bomb.

Finbar tumbled through the window and sprinted off under the bed. There was a scream. A boy! Remember why he would scream? Yeah? (Hint: he was blue.) Well he was also scared of animals. Finbar scrambled on to the desk and jogged across the laptop. The boy seemed to be rolling up something with the word ‘COMIX-THE ADVENTURES OF SLUGBOY’ written on it in big orange lettering. The boy started to thwack here and there. Finbar jumped this way and that. The boy stopped. Finbar wondered whether he should run or stay.

“OK, I won’t hurt you.”

What? Why did he say that? Thought Finbar.

He looked at the laptop and realised he had typed “pleez downt hert mee”, and the boy had seen it. Communication! thought Finbar and promptly scrambled on to the desk and started typing.

Finbar typed “Hye miy naym es Finbar Streambattle Galedeep. wots yors?”

“Ummm… Alex Fender Matt.”

“Hye Alecks. Iy waz biying chayst biy an iyonbeek and iy jumpd throo yor wendoe.”

“Whats an ironbeak?” ventured Alex.

“Yoo mai cawl et a golden eagle I tink.” replied Finbar.

Alex hesitated for a while but finally touched Finbar’s fur.

“And… And why are you blue?” pondered Alex.

Finbar had an answer.

“Its a long storiy but iy wil tel yoo. too mayk it shawt, wee wer bread in a lab too bee stronguh and cleveruh than mowst otuhs. but wee had a deefekt that yoo can seey. wee eskaypd too thee forrist. thei cawt miy familee but nott mee. thei wer triying too mayk organo-chloride that es ay dedlee peshtiside that es owkaiy four otuhs but eliygaly teshting on ush. iym triying too gett too thee lab sow iy can brayk themm owt. doo yoo no wer et es? et es cawld scaahiy lab.”

“Let me see…” said Alex.




“Found it! You have to go over the river, then second right and third left. Got that?”asked Alex.

“Got et. Tancks”

So off Finbar goes.

At the lab, Finbar spied some guard dogs.

“Fangtooths!” Finbar groaned. He picked a stick and threw it with all the force he had. The dogs ran full speed to get it. While they were distracted, Finbar slipped in and scrabbled up the wall as fast as he could, but he wasn’t fast enough. The dogs came back as quickly as they had left, but also a bit miffed that they had let someone in. Finbar kicked out as the two dogs snapped at his paws. He quickly climbed up the last stretch of wall and sat on the window sill.

“Can’t get me now, haha thpbssssssss!” taunted Finbar, which maddened the dogs even further. Finbar hopped inside. The angered barking outside had drawn attention from all around so the coast was clear. Finbar spotted his family in a cage with a padlock on it. “Finbar! Finbar, you came to save us!” came the gruff voice of Skor followed by a chorus of whoops and cheers from the others. What to do about this padlock? thought Finbar, and then, with one single blow of his hefty rudder and a mighty clang, the padlock broke in two. Finbar scampered to the window and clambered up. “Quick!” shouted Finbar, “grab my paw!” And, one by one, with many grunts of exertion, Finbar heaved the otters up.

So, I guess that is the end of my story, unless you count the fact that they escaped to the forest and had an exhausting search for a clean river that wasn’t polluted. That was hard, because of us humans and our plastic. They dug a holt in the bankside, with an entrance decorated by two stag horns they had found. I know what you’re thinking: what about Alex? Well the truth is, Alex started a campaign to protect otters and that news has reached the otters by word of mouse. Did you enjoy it? I did. 

And Finbar’s WORD OF OTTER is…