Have you ever heard voices in your head? Not pretend voices you make up yourself, that have foreign accents you can’t really do properly, but very real, very clear, very weird, very annoying voices. What if they’re coming from a tiny alien spaceship? Bet that’s never happened to you. But it happened to 13 year old Ignatius Cramp. Getting a family of four galaxy-hopping tourists (and their pet sabre-tooth tiger) that have crash-landed in your brain back to their home planet is as hard as it sounds; especially when dark forces conspire to open your head with a tin-opener (or any other handy head-opening implement). Written with readers aged 8 to 13 in mind, The Utterly Amazing Brain of Ignatius Cramp is a hilarious, race-against-time adventure for both boys and girls to enjoy.
Kids Corner book of the month in Scotland’s national newspaper, The Daily Record, October 2012.
‘Iggy was funny and cheeky and there’s lots of suspense that made me race to the end.’
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have a fascination for all things extra-terrestrial and wanted to write a book about visitors from outer space, but with a twist. Readers of a certain age will notice the heavy influence of the iconic 1966 film, Fantastic Voyage.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Ignatius Cramp (Iggy) is not your typical hero. His inherent uncoolness is what makes him interesting, fun to write, and in my opinion, er, cool!
Chapter 11 : The lights are on but nobody is at a home
Seventy-two Craghill Drive sat at the top of a steep slope. Even for someone with Jake’s strength it took an immense effort to carry the listless body of Ignatius up the hill. It had just turned 9pm and the hum of the street lights was drowned by Jake’s grunts and groans, and Ignatius’ squeaks. Heather walked up to Argon Pitweem’s door and rang the bell. Jake dumped Ignatius unceremoniously on the ground. Ignatius squeaked a few more squeaks and rubbed his cheeks with the back of his hands.
‘The nutter thinks he is a mouse or summit. Hez, look at this!’ Jake was delighted at the extra opportunity to ridicule Ignatius. Ignatius suddenly stopped squeaking and sat bolt upright, eyes wide open.
‘Where am I. What’s happening?’ Ignatius thought.
‘It’s alive I tellsya, aliiiive! Ha ha ha ha.’ Jake chortled, flicking Ignatius’ ear with his finger.
‘That kipper stole my apple pie!’ Ignatius said pointing at Jake.
What Ignatius was saying and what he was thinking were very different. Before he was visited by the Silverleafs he often did this in purpose, to avoid getting hit (more than usual). However Ignatius was now doing it because the part of his brain connecting his thoughts with his mouth was broken. Badly broken. What Ignatius actually wanted to say to Jake Brown in this instance is unprintable.
Cairo Silverleaf was lying in Spot’s sleep pod. It was a bit of a tight squeeze because Spot was in there too. She wrapped her arms around the big beast’s neck and softly wept.
‘What’s wrong little one? Everything is going to be fine now. It won’t be long before we will be heading for Ignatius’ nose. Daddy just needs to do one more thing,’ Kingston said.
‘But Daddy, will Ignatius be all right? Bits of his brain are black,’ Cairo sniffed.
‘With a little bit of help they just might be all right, pet lamb, they just might be. That’s what Daddy needs to do, help Ignatius’ brain bits get better. You see, Cairo, when our brain cells get damaged our body has no way of repairing them on its own. But I think we have just the thing to help him.’
Kingston retrieved the big first-aid kit (intergalactic travel value-pack) from the bathroom. He emptied the contents on to the floor and sifted through the pile of, according to the marketing leaflet, indispensable pills, potions and patch-em-ups for the discerning but accident prone traveller. A bottle of Poorafen pills (“take 3 with water for instant relief to that uncomfortable bunged up feeling”), a box of Growoplast (“apply to leg stump and watch your new limb sprout in seven days”), a tub of Baldmenotaline cream (“mix with Dertisaurus dung and massage into skull for unprecedented follicle stimulation”), etc.
‘Ah here it is. This Regen-A-Stem might be able to help him.’ Kingston put a little green medicine bottle on the table.
‘How does it work, Daddy?’ Cairo asked, cheering up slightly and wiping a blob of snot from the end of her nose.
‘Well, in this bottle are hundreds of special cells called stem cells. A stem cell is special because it can turn itself into any type of cell it wants too. If I spread a few stem cells around Ignatius’ broken cells, they may decide to turn into new brain cells, fixing him up good and proper.’
‘How do they know to turn into brain cells Daddy?’ Cairo asked.
Kingston paused. ‘Er well, er, the healthy cells in the brain say, Hello Mr Stem Cell, lovely day, please can you turn into one of us?’
Cairo giggled, ‘but Daddy, how can cells speak? They’ve not got mouths silly.’
‘Er, well, er, they …’ Kingston stuttered.
‘Dad, I have a question.’ Wellington had his hand in the air.
Kingston thumped the table in frustration, ‘Oh for goodness sake Wellington, I am a shoe salesman from Strickboggle not a micro biologist. It works, OK, accept it and let’s all move on!’
‘But Dad, the stem cells in that bottle are millionth the size of Ignatius’ cells,’ Wellington pointed out.
‘Um, yes, well you see …’ Kingston tried to get his millions of healthy brain cells to work fast.
‘Oh I get it Dad, if we leave the stem cells and move away, the effect of the Atomic State Shrinkilizer will wear off and they will return to their normal size and get to work!’ Wellington exclaimed.
‘Er, precisely. Spot on. Well done. Er, right off I go then.’ Kingston grabbed the bottle of Regen-A-Stem and headed to the air lock.
A black van crawled through the streets of Stoneybrook. The passenger did not move his eyes from the little box he held in his hand. The box let out a slow sequence of beeps. The crackling noise of a walky-talky jumping to life was followed by a menacing, husky voice, ‘Status report.’
‘We are closing in on it, sir. We will find it,’ the passenger said.
‘See that you do, and quickly. You know the consequences if you fail me,’ the voice demanded.
‘Yes sir, Dr. X sir!’ the passenger said, nervously. The walky-talky slipped from his sweaty hands.
The beeping from the little box got faster.
‘Go Northeast and shift it!’ the passenger said. The car headed for Craghill Drive.
Frustrated that her constant doorbell-rings had elicited no response, Heather gave the door an almighty thump with her fist. The door creaked open slowly.
‘Hello, Dr. Pitweem, are you there? HELLO?’ Heather called through the gap. ‘Do you think we should go in?’ She turned to Ignatius and asked, ‘Iggy are you feeling any better? Can you walk?’
‘I somersaulted up Mount Everest on a potato,’ Ignatius said, slowly rising to his feet.
‘Jake, I think he understands me!’ Heather said excitedly.
‘Strawberry paperclips!’ Ignatius said. The words did not make sense but there was no mistaking the trace of annoyance in his voice. He hit his head with his fist.
‘Iggy … nod … if … you … can … understand … me,’ Heather said very slowly, accentuating her words with flamboyant actions.
‘Russian kettles taste nice,’ Ignatius nodded with a sigh.
‘This is priceless,’ Jake said, laughing uncontrollably.
‘Jake! This is not funny. Can’t you see there is something seriously wrong with him! How would you like it?’ Heather screamed.
Jake thought for a moment and said, ‘Oh, sorry.’
‘Not to me Jake, to Iggy,’ Heather said.
‘Er, sorry nerd, you know, about you being all messed up and everything,’ Jake mumbled.
Ignatius glared at Jake and pushed him out of the way. He stormed into the house and called out for Dr. Pitweem. Well, he actually yelled, ‘Cabbage Flip-Flops!’, but he was sure Dr. Pitweem would understand.
Kingston Silverleaf hung up his space-suit and helmet on the empty peg by the air-lock. He had sprinkled a generous dollop of Regen-A-Stem over the blasted parts of Ignatius brain, whilst keeping a close look out for any more eosinophils.
‘Wellington, my boy, take the helm and set sail for … The Nose!’ he proclaimed.
‘Ahaaar Dad!’ Wellington replied.
‘Hee hee, shiver me timbers lad.’ Kingston joined in.
‘Hoist the mainsail!’
‘Die scurvy landlubber!’ Kingston started to squawk like a parrot, ‘Pieces of eight, pieces of eight.’
Geneva stared disapprovingly at Kingston.
‘Too much?’ Kingston looked sheepish.
‘Way too much,’ Geneva said.
Bessie headed down the fornix towards the thalamus junction, back on track. As the ship moved further away, back in the medulla, the stem cells were doing what Wellington had predicted. They grew bigger.
All the houses in Stoneybrook were built to the same unimaginative design. A kitchen and an open plan living-cum-dinning room downstairs, two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. It didn’t take long for the kids to search the house.
‘No-one is here Hez. Let’s go. We’ll take the Iggoid back to his house. His parents will know what to do. This is not our problem,’ Jake said.
‘Don’t you find it strange that Dr. Pitweem doesn’t have a PC?’ Heather said.
‘What? You just can’t drop this can you! Anyway his PC will be where we keep ours,’ Jake opened the little angular door of the cupboard under the stairs. But there was no sign of a PC, just another set of stairs leading down to what looked like a secret basement. Even Jake was excited by finding a secret basement. The three kids rushed down the stairs pushing each other out the way each wanting to be the first to discover Dr. Pitweem’s sauna (Heather’s guess)/torture chamber (Jake’s guess)/science lab (Ignatius’ guess).
Ignatius, although he was not first to get there, had guessed correctly. The stairs did indeed lead to some sort of lab.The basement’s walls were covered with shelves, containing hundreds of books and large folders. The room was dominated by a large table. On one end of the table a glass beaker sat on a metal tripod. Underneath was a little gas burner. Tubes ran from the beaker to several other beakers, each on their on little tripod with their own little burner. The beakers were half-filled with different coloured liquids, some clear, some green, some blue. At the other end of the table sat a computer screen.
Jake went for a closer look. In truth, he was looking for any DVD’s, CD’s or video games he could pilfer. What he found was a laptop. Even better, he thought to himself and started to disconnect the laptop from the screen.
Heather went over to the shelves and grabbed a book at random. She read the cover details out loud, ‘Mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics, by John Von Neumann. Iggy you know about these things. What’s quantum mechanics?’
‘A man wearing a purple balaclava,’ Ignatius said.
‘Oh sorry, I forgot you can’t really say what you mean. Hee hee, even you have to admit it’s funny sometimes Iggy,’ Heather said.
Ignatius coughed and shakily said, ‘Er no, it is not funny, and there is a man wearing a purple balaclava and … I think he is pointing a pistol at you.’ The Regen-A-Stem had done its job.
Jake and Heather slowly turned round. There wasn’t a man in a purple balaclava pointing a pistol at them. There were three men wearing purple balaclavas and, from the bulge in their pockets, they seemed to be pointing pistols at them.
‘Don’t do,’ said the first man.
‘Anything,’ said the second man.
‘Stupid,’ said the third man.
Fiona Mackinnon is a Glaswegian, endeavouring to be a cool Aunty to six nephews. She gave up a hectic career in the IT industry to concentrate on being a full-time children’s writer. The ideas for her books come to her in dreams (lame – ed), er, spooky visions then (lamer – ed), during really bad headaches (plausible – ed), (not true though – Fiona) …. staring out the window eating pizza (happy now? – Fiona) (yes – ed).
Fiona lives with her very patient fiancé in Glasgow. When not writing about aliens, witches, time travel, castles and nutritional food like broccoli (and definitely not pizza, honest) she spends her time running after her little black lab puppy, Iggy.
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