Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Continue to Hold, Where Knights Are Bold

Gather round the armchair, callers...
  (+50, -7)(+50, -7)(+50, -7)
(+50, -7)
  [vote for,
against]

[Ring tone]

"Hello welcome to Mega Corp. All of our agents are busy playing Twister and sipping fine wine from elegant, long-necked glasses. Please press 1 for Fairytale, 2 for Crime, 3 for Mystery, 4 for Historical, 5 for Humourous or enter your 4-digit pin to return to a previous story."

[Gemma presses 1]

"There once was a King. He was a very bad King, who especially enjoyed the torment of geese.

He had established a special day for this very purpose - 'Goose Poking Day' in which he required all of his subjects to chase geese around his kingdom with wooden spoons. Anyone who was caught not chasing geese on Goose Poking Day was thrown into the King's dungeons.

One day, a handsome young man arrived in the kingdom. Unbeknownst to him, he had arrived on Goose Poking Eve. Everyone was busy carving wooden spoons for the goose poking the following day.

The first home the young man found when he arrived in the kingdom was a small thatched cottage on the edge of the Boar Wood. He was very hungry and tired, and the sun was low in the sky, so he decided he would ask the owner of the cottage if he could stay for the night. He walked smartly up to the front door and rapped on it, the door opened and there stood -"

"Hello, you've reached Mega-Corp Customer Care, my name is Floyd, how can I assist you today?"

[Floyd listens to Gemma's enraged squeals]

" 'F*ck assistance'. I see. May I presume you'd like to return to holding and deal with your stolen credit card later? Right. Thanks for calling, Gemma. Yes, I'm p*ssing off now."

DocBrown, Nov 01 2004

Spoonguard http://www.rathergood.com/spoonguard/
Protects against spoons [wagster, Nov 08 2004]

That's what you get for working in a high goose area... http://www.susannas...ox.com/osgeese.html
The geese fight back.. [goff, Nov 08 2004]

[link]






       or: "... had arrived on Goose Poking Eve. Everyone was -- I'm sorry, all out operators are busy but please be assured that your call is important to us -- if he could stay for the night..."   

       The good thing, or at least the least bad thing, about hold music is that is provides an easily ignored means of knowing that you're going to be dealt with eventually, leaving you cradle the phone on your shoulder and get on with working, until the music stops and the call centre lackwits begin to mangle vowels in your ear'ole. A story is much less easy to ignore. I can dictate (or post on the bakery) with greensleeves playing (though it lends a manic edge to my word choice), I doubt I could do the same with Jackanory.   

       Nice story, though.
calum, Nov 01 2004
  

       Well, yeah, that's probably how they'd do it, but it's not the intention. I'd prefer a short statement at the start of the call along the lines of:
"We're currently queuing 21 customers, at an average call resolution time of 3 minutes and with attrition at 20%, expect to be answered within 45 minutes. And now, the story"

Your second point is a good one - I was thinking more of people who have nothing to do whilst holding, but this would be distracting for those attempting to multi-task. Guess you could have an option for regular holding as well, if that's what's desired.
DocBrown, Nov 01 2004
  

       annoying: first there's the recording "your call is important to us....." then the music starts, then in 30 seconds, "your call is important to us..." then the music starts again from the top! I listened to the first 4 phrases of Mozart's Ala Turka 8 times before I got thoroughly pissed and hung up.   

       so for the idea, I'll take #5 and a + for the Doc
dentworth, Nov 01 2004
  

       Yes, and it also gives me an inspiration. ++
sartep, Nov 01 2004
  

       This is a lovely idea and, yes, you'd need an option whereby people chose the adventure hold.
bristolz, Nov 01 2004
  

       Ditto. Had me enthralled. +
blissmiss, Nov 01 2004
  

       Dang (+)   

       What baffles me is when the hold music has 200 beats per minute and is guaranteed to make you even more impatient than you were when you dialled. I think the only reason we don't hear more about 'phone rage' is only because the person you're trying to get hold of isn't available for you to beat them to death with the handset.
moomintroll, Nov 01 2004
  

       I want to hear the rest of the story.
Worldgineer, Nov 01 2004
  

       Ditto. I'd be inspired to call, say...maybe even SNET, or the IRS, just to hear the tale.
blissmiss, Nov 01 2004
  

       And here I've been paying for audiobooks like a sucker.
Worldgineer, Nov 01 2004
  

       *dark evil voice* only a certain evil food would vote against this idea for no reason... muhahahaha
EvilPickels, Nov 01 2004
  

       you could even offer a selection of stories depending on the predicted length of the caller's waiting period.
neilp, Nov 02 2004
  

       Thanks all. If I get time, I'll finish the story in a bit....
DocBrown, Nov 02 2004
  

       …a beautiful young woman. So great was her beauty that she had no business existing outside of glossy magazines, but of course there were no glossy magazines and so she was unaware of this and thus her sweet nature remained untainted which made her all the more beautiful.

So beautiful in fact that the young man almost forgot to introduce himself politely.
“Hello” he said, looking straight into the young woman’s eyes. “My name is Karl. I have travelled from far away.”
“Hello Karl”, she replied. “My name is Griselda.”
“I’m very hungry and tired and the sun is low in the sky” said Karl. “I was wondering if you might have a bed or a patch of floor you don’t use that I could sleep on tonight?”
“Of course.” replied Griselda, who knew that Goose Poking Eve was no time for a stranger to be wandering the Kingdom.

And so Griselda took Karl in, and offered him a humble meal of bread and cheese, made from the milk of her goat, Bertram. She was apologetic about the meagre fare and Karl was guilty for imposing upon a poor woman, but grateful for her kindness and they talked awkwardly but pleasurably for hours, until suddenly Griselda burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?” asked Karl, his big, kind face all worried and such.
“I’m sorry!” said Griselda, “it’s just that I’ve been here alone for so long now, I’ve forgotten how nice it is to have someone around to talk to.” At this Bertram poked his woolly head through a window and gave an indignant harrumph.
“Oh I know I can talk to you Bertram, I’m sorry.” said Griselda, and she gave the goat a pat. “It’s just that I miss Father so.”
“Your father? What happened to him?” asked Karl.
“He was a woodcutter. Every day he would go to the Boar Wood to chop wood but one day he didn’t come back. I searched the edge of the woods for days, but I daren’t go in too far.” She sighed. “That was months ago now. I’m afraid he must be dead.”
“I see.” Said Karl. “Griselda, have you a lantern I might borrow?”
“Yes,” she said. “Why?”
“Because I am going into the Boar Wood to find your father tonight.” said Karl.
“Oh no, you musn’t” cried Griselda. “There are things in the Boar Wood, terrible things. You must stay here, where it’s safe.”
“I must go”, said Karl, “or I couldn’t look myself in the eye.” He stood up determinedly and then paused. “In a mirror I mean – look myself in the eye in the mirror.”

Karl said goodbye to Griselda and Bertram and left the warmth of the cottage. He trudged towards the Boar Wood, with the lantern and its weak circle of light his only company. Into the wood he went.

Unbeknownst to Karl, all the boar had left the Boar Wood years ago, to raise their piglets in smaller, quieter woods elsewhere. Now the weasels controlled the wood. They watched Karl with prickly little eyes as he walked. Their sharp little teeth glinted. They guessed why he had come.

Karl went deeper and deeper into the wood. This was easy to do, since it was on a giant downhill slope. He reached the very bottom of the slope, the darkest and oldest part of the wood, and as he did so, he heard a rustling. Holding the lantern high, he saw a huge boar not 30 paces away. He picked up a stout stick, and prepared himself for the boar’s charge.

The boar came closer and closer. It was huge, with a head like a suitcase. But still it did not charge. It came right up to him. He could feel its hot, porcine breath on him. Just as Karl was about to hit it with the stick it spoke, in a pleasant rumbling baritone:
“I hope you’re not planning to hit me with that stick?”
“I was planning to” admitted Karl, “but now I see you have a pleasant speaking voice, I’m less inclined to.”
“Splendid!” said the huge beast. “My name is Ignatius, and I live here in the Boar Wood, because I cannot leave.”
“Why not?” asked Karl.
“I’m too heavy to get up that slope” said Ignatius, pointing with his trotter at the way Karl had come. “Every time I try, I get about half way, and then have to come down again. So I live here at the bottom of the slope, and I never see the Sun. It’s horrible.” a big pig tear rolled off Ignatius’ snout.
“Come with me” said Karl “and I will help you get out.”
“Would you?” said Ignatius, suddenly hopeful.
“Yes” said Karl, “but first I have to find a man – a woodcutter, who was lost in these woods months ago. I promised his daughter I would bring him back to her.”
“I know the man you speak of.” said Ignatius, and his voice was grim. “The weasels took him. They took him and tied him down, and now they keep him, and every now and then they nibble him. I would have tried to help him myself, but I’m no good at Weasel Games.”
“Weasel Games?”, said Karl.
“Games they play with people.” replied Ignatius. “Before the weasels will do anything for you, they’ll ask you to play a Weasel Game. Weasel Games are easy for weasels to play, but no one else can. If you agree to play a Weasel Game and you lose, the weasels will tie you down as well.”
“We shall see about that.” Said Karl. “Take me to the weasels.”

Off they went through the woods, man and boar, until they reached a cavernous clearing with a large fire in its centre. At first, Karl thought it was empty, but then a huge squealing began, and weasels streamed into the clearing from all sides. Karl heard Ignatius snorting indignantly as they were both swept towards the other end of the clearing on a moving carpet of weasels. They were deposited with a bump in front of a large, flat rock. On top of the rock, with a big gold crown on its head, sat an especially large weasel.

“I am the King of the Weasels.” it said in a sneery voice, and all the weasel courtiers squeaked excitedly. “What brings you to my domain?”
“I have come for the woodcutter” said Karl, and he stared defiantly at the Weasel King, to show that he was not afraid.
“Aaaahhh, the woodcutter” said the Weasel King, and he gestured lazily with a paw. Hundreds of weasels that had been piled up next to the King moved aside to reveal the woodcutter.

He had been tied to the trunk of a fallen tree with vines. Baby weasels were all over him. Once every few seconds, one of them would bite him and squeak with laughter in a shrill little voice.

“If you want to take him from us, you must play a Weasel Game” said the King of the Weasels. “And if you lose, we will keep you here, for ever.”
“Fine.” said Karl. “I will play your Weasel Game.”

“Bring out Skinny!” shouted the Weasel King. Two weasels ran out in front of the King, carrying a long, thin, hollow log. A very thin weasel followed them.
“This is Skinny” said the Weasel King, pointing to the log, “and this is Earl” he said, pointing to the very thin weasel. “This game is very simple: each player will pass through the log as many times as he can. Whoever can pass through the most times in a minute, wins.” All the weasels laughed. They knew that Karl could not possibly fit through the log, and that Earl would win, and that they would keep Karl and nibble him now and then.

“Alright” said Karl. “Do you mind if I go first, oh Weasel King?”
“Why, not at all” sneered the Weasel King “go ahead.”
“Thank you.” said Karl, and walked up to the log. A weasel started to count his minute.
“One!”, it squeaked, “Two!”.
Karl stood motionless over the log.
“Nine! Ten!” squeaked the Counting Weasel.
Still Karl stood, and did nothing. At thirty squeaks, still Karl had not moved. The weasels began to laugh and shout. They knew they had won.
“Forty!” squeaked the Counting Weasel.
Karl moved so quickly, he seemed to blur. He picked up the log, and with a mighty thrust of his arm, he punched up through it. His arm got stuck on the inside about half way up.
“Fifty!” squeaked the Counting Weasel.
Karl heaved on the end of the log with his free arm. Inch by inch he tugged his arm towards the end of the log. He could feel splinters digging into him from the log’s inside.
“Fifty eight!” squeaked the Counting Weasel.
Karl heaved again and cried aloud at the pain of his arm trapped inside the log. His fingers appeared triumphantly from the end of the log just as the Counting Weasel reached sixty.
Breathing heavily, Karl turned to face the Weasel King.
“Alright King,” he said “that’s my turn over. Would Earl like to take his go?” The Weasel King was furious.
“You’ve cheated! You cheated! You cannot cheat!” He shouted. “You didn’t go through the log!”
“And how is that oh King?” said Karl. “I’m here at one end of the log, and here I am at the other end” he wiggled his fingers.

The Weasel King could see that Karl was strong and clever. He ordered his weasels to set the woodcutter free. The old man sat up gratefully as his bonds were gnawed away.
“I must thank you, young man, but I’m afraid you’ve done no good in coming here. Both my legs were broken under a tree when I was first lost in these woods – there’s no way I can get back up the hill and out again.”

“Oh yes there is” said Karl. “I will carry you over my right shoulder.”
“Why the right shoulder?” asked the old man.
“Because I must carry Ignatius over my left” replied Karl, remembering his promise to help the boar escape the woods and recalling that he had not yet introduced Ignatius to the woodcutter.
“This is Ignatius” he said, gesturing to the boar, who bowed his big head politely and snuffled the woodcutter’s outstretched palm.

Leaving the crestfallen weasels behind, the three started the long climb. It was incredibly hard for Karl, because the woodcutter was a heavy man and Ignatius was a huge boar, and Karl’s right arm was stuck in a log. But he had been taught from a young age the power of persistence, and eventually they all reached the top of the hill.

Karl stumbled out towards the cottage but before he reached the door he could tell something was dreadfully wrong.
“Oh no!” he said, and staggered forward. The door had been torn from its hinges and on the earthen floor, a note had been left. Karl laid the woodcutter down gently, rolled Ignatius off his shoulder and snatched the note up from the floor.
“They’ve taken Griselda”, he said.

To be concluded...perhaps...
DocBrown, Nov 02 2004
  

       <whining voice>
One more chapter pleeease!!!
Pleeeease! Just one more chapter before we go to bed!!!
brodie, Nov 02 2004
  

       I've heard this one before. The Gnome did it.
Ling, Nov 02 2004
  

       Time for bed [brodie], we can finish the story tomorrow. I can assure you [Ling], it wasn't the Gnome - he's busy elsewhere (press 6 for The Story of Plum Pants, The Ridiculous Gnome)
DocBrown, Nov 02 2004
  

       But what ever happened to the goose poking?
Worldgineer, Nov 02 2004
  

       Makes you wonder, doesn't it. Lovely idea. In the world of intelligent story creation/call management, maybe your story could be timed to end just before the call connects.
st3f, Nov 02 2004
  

       I'm getting back to it [World], I promise. Just got a bit sidetracked in the middle act.
DocBrown, Nov 02 2004
  

       Bravo! Great idea, even greater story. Sipping hot chocolate and reading your story made me forget I'm at the office (until the evil phone rang). Looking forward to the next segment.
Machiavelli, Nov 02 2004
  

       You could make this into a choose your own adventure, too. Pity I have but one pastry to give.
yabba do yabba dabba, Nov 02 2004
  

       How about combining this with one of the other ideas that I saw, here (I think it was movies or something)?
"Press 1 for happy ending"
"Press 2 for long version"
"Press 3 for quick version"
"Press 4 for repeat"
Ling, Nov 03 2004
  

       Wow, Doc, that was really good. They may have taken Griselda, but it strikes me the cabin is full of croissants.
david_scothern, Nov 03 2004
  

       (+) for the idea.   

       (+++) for the story.
energy guy, Nov 03 2004
  

       Hey all. Thanks for all the positive comments. For anyone still interested, the story concludes tomorrow, sometime in the afternoon GMT.
DocBrown, Nov 03 2004
  

       We can all sit in a virtual circle on the floor while you read it.
wagster, Nov 03 2004
  

       One of my friend's use to have trivia things on her answering machine outgoing message... it was great... she called it her "mini lecture series" and changed it weekly.   

       I did it myself for a while. Buns all around for this one.
zigness, Nov 03 2004
  

       [+++] What a great story :)
reap, Nov 04 2004
  

       +   

       don't let Jutta see this
dentworth, Nov 04 2004
  

       [dentworth] this could end up having the same demise as the Aphorism game show [+]
skinflaps, Nov 04 2004
  

       DOCBROWN IN JK ROWLING PSEUDENOM SHOCK!
etherman, Nov 04 2004
  

       ski, err, [freerunner], but you kept the game on your profile page.(blog page, actually) perhaps this story should be stored on the [Doc']s profile page. What do you think [DocBrown]?
dentworth, Nov 04 2004
  

       I'm quite happy to move it [dentworth], wouldn't want to annoy the HB powers that be. I'm writing the last bit now, once it's all done I'll post it here for a day, then move the whole thing to my profile. Will that be ok d'you think?
DocBrown, Nov 04 2004
  

       ya sure, I'm just sayin'.....
dentworth, Nov 04 2004
  

       The final chapter of the story. This is only staying up for a day or so, cos otherwise [jutta] or a moderator will kill me apparently. After that, might put it onto my profile page, if I'm allowed to.

…”Who has taken her? My poor girl!” cried the woodcutter. Karl didn’t answer, but simply handed him the note.

It was written on fine parchment and stamped with an elaborate wax seal, depicting a goose being poked with a spoon.
”The Goose Pokers!” whimpered the old woodcutter, “they’ve taken her for treacherous neglect of duty on Goose Poking Eve.”
”What does that mean?” asked Karl.
”Every citizen of the kingdom is required to carve wooden spoons on Goose Poking Eve”, explained the woodcutter. “The following day, these spoons are used to poke geese from all over the kingdom up to the castle of King Gregor, the ruler of this land.”
”Why does he make people poke geese?” asked Karl.
”He hates them” said the woodcutter “nobody really knows why, but anyone who fails to produce a finely-carved poking spoon when the Goose Pokers come to their home on Goose Poking Eve is taken away to the King’s dungeons.”
”Everyone is afraid of the Goose Pokers” Ignatius rolled away from the hearth where he had been warming himself. “They’re Gregor’s most loyal servants, and obey him without question. I don’t have to worry too much – they don’t pay much attention to giant, talking pigs, but all the people here are terrified of them.”
”This is my fault” said Karl. “If Griselda had not been so kind and taken me in, she would have had time to carve her spoon and then this wouldn’t have happened.” He stood up. “I must journey to the castle of King Gregor and rescue her!” he cried and thumped his hand on the table to make his point. It made an odd thump like an enormous xylophone and Karl realised that his arm was still trapped in the Skinny log.
”I may need your help before I leave though” he said to the woodcutter.

A short while later, Ignatius and Karl left the cottage. They had all worked together to free Karl from the Skinny log. The woodcutter had told them where his tools were, and Ignatius had used a large, double-bladed woodsaw to cut through the log grabbing one end in his mouth, pushing it, and then running around to the other end and pushing it back, whilst Karl held the saw steady with his left hand.

They had left the woodcutter on a warm straw-stuffed bed with a jug of water and some of Bertram’s cheese beside him, and promised to return as quickly as ever they might.

Karl was riding on Ignatius’ back. He was marvellously strong and bore Karl with no trouble at all. Being the wise old hog that he was, he knew the fastest way to Gregor’s castle and was confident they would get there before the morning of Goose Poking Day.

After a while, they came to a bridge. They spotted it far off in the distance because it was lit by large torches which burned in brackets on either side. They both thought it wise to be careful, and so they left the road and crept quietly towards the bridge. As they drew closer, Karl could see that the bridge was being guarded by a group of strange looking figures. They were dressed all in red, with feathery white cloaks and carried strange staffs with spoon heads on the top.
”Who are they?” whispered Karl to Ignatius as they crept forward.
”They’re Goose Pokers” replied Ignatius. “They must be guarding the bridge to make sure no troublemakers get to the castle for Goose Poking Day.”
”How will we get past them?” said Karl.
”I don’t know” said Ignatius. “But I can’t swim, so we need to get over the bridge somehow.”
”I’ve got an idea” said Karl, and he whispered in Ignatius’ ear.
”Ooh, yes, that’s good” chuckled Ignatius, and he nearly gave them away with his snorty laughter.

They crept closer, until they were a respectable stone’s throw away from the bridge, then Karl stood up. He strode into the middle of the road and in his loudest voice (which was very loud) he shouted:
”Ho there! You big fluffy-cloaked jesters! You long-spoon-wielding figures of fun, you of the livers whose colour is a pleasant off-white shade that might better be described as ‘lily’! I’ll have a word with all of you, if you please!” The Goose Pokers couldn’t believe that someone dared to be so insolent. They advanced on Karl disbelievingly, with long spoons pointed straight at him.
”Come on you, who are but newly able to make toilet without help!” called Karl cheerfully. They gathered in a semi-circle around him. Karl was a big man, but they were all bigger than him. The largest of them all stepped forward and spoke:
”Fool! I hope you’re ready to die!”
”Don’t be so hasty”, said Karl, “after all, there’s only seven of you, and there’s one of me.” At this, the Goose Pokers all started to laugh. They would beat Karl to death with their long spoons.
”I wouldn’t be laughing” said Karl, “not if there was a wild boar the size of a donkey charging me from behind.” The Goose Pokers turned around.

Ignatius was thundering towards them at a fantastic pace, tusks glinting and mouth gaping wide. Karl grabbed the spoon of the nearest Goose Poker and swung it into three of them. They all fell in a heap as Ignatius hit the rest of the group who scattered like skittles (though they would not have understood this, 10 pin bowling not having been invented yet). All was chaos and confusion. All that could be heard was the dull thwack of a heavy spoon hitting things, and frenzied snorting, and the stamping of trotters.

After a minute, all grew quiet again. Karl stood up and looked around. Ignatius was snorting triumphantly, his front legs on the chest of an unconscious Goose Poker.
“Come on, Ignatius” said Karl, “we can cross the bridge now.”

Off they went, Karl riding on Ignatius’ back once more. As they journeyed Ignatius told Karl all about Goose Poking Day, how the geese were poked from all over the kingdom up to the great courtyard of the castle of King Gregor. By the time they arrived, they were in a frenzy, ready to snap at anything. Gregor’s courtiers would amuse themselves by taunting the geese, dropping hot pitch or small pieces of flaming wood through the net that separated the courtyard from the gallery, and kept the geese from flying to safety. Then the prisoners of Gregor – people who had been taken by the Goose Pokers over the year for disobeying King Gregor – would be thrust into the courtyard, where the crazed geese would tear them apart.


”But surely he wouldn’t do that to Griselda?” said Karl, when Ignatius told him this.
”He’d throw anyone to the geese” replied Ignatius. “even a child, if they were to displease him. And it gets worse – after the geese have mauled the prisoners, he has archers in the battlements above the courtyard to shoot the geese. Then some of them are cooked in a great feast for the court, and the rest are left to rot. All this while his people are hungry.”

Karl became very angry when he heard this, and he realised that not only had he to rescue Griselda, he would have to do something about wicked King Gregor too.

They reached the castle just as the Sun was beginning to think about getting up. It was a very large and impressive castle, and looked all the better because of the shabbiness of the homes in the town around it. Karl thought of all the poor people who had to work so hard just to have enough to eat, and as he stared angrily at the tall main tower of the castle, he had an idea.
”Come along Ignatius” he said. “I’ve had an idea.”

Inside the castle wicked King Gregor was enjoying himself in his royal box overlooking the courtyard. He would not have called himself “wicked King Gregor”, he probably would have described himself as “brave” or “noble”, but this is often the way with bad people.
”Ha ha ha” he laughed, to no one in particular (which is another good way to spot bad people) “another Goose Poking Day has come, and a particularly big one too!” He was right about that. There were an especially large number of geese in the courtyard, and they were very, very angry after a whole night of being poked and prodded with spoons. All that was left to be done was for King Gregor to start the Poking Day festivities by raising a large jewelled sceptre in the shape of a goose. This would be the signal for the prisoners to be released into the courtyard down below. He reached for the sceptre, lazily, but something he saw out of the corner of his eye stopped him.

“What on earth is that”, he thought. “It cannot be what it looks like, for that would be absurd.” He couldn’t believe what his eyes were seeing, and so he did nothing, and waited for the thing to go away. Which it didn’t. In fact it did quite the reverse, it got louder and closer until King Gregor was forced to confront the fact that there actually was a man with a giant, wild pig on his back, swinging down towards the royal box on a rope attached to the high tower on the other side of the courtyard. The man and the pig were making a dreadful warbling cry as they swooped downwards.
”Arrgh!” shouted King Gregor, who was not good under pressure. “Arrgh!” he said again, and then they hit him.

The royal box collapsed like a house of cards as several hundredweight of speeding man and wild pig stove it inwards. There was a huge crash, the courtiers all gasped, and the archers turned around to see what was happening.

Karl emerged from the remains of the box. He spread his arms wide and shouted in a clear voice
”The reign of wicked King Gregor is over! He is dead!” There was a great gasp and then King Gregor appeared behind Karl.

He was covered in dust and had lost his crown. He was very angry, and not used to being treated in this way. He went to stab at Karl with a long-bladed knife. Karl saw him an instant before he struck, and managed to dodge the blow, but he was left right on the edge of the box. He wobbled, and looked around frantically for something to grab onto. He seized something with his hand but then he realised with horror that he was holding onto King Gregor’s arm. King Gregor grinned ghoulishly and brought the knife up to strike.
”Now you will die!” he shrieked and plunged the knife downwards. Karl let go, and threw himself backwards into the net. He tumbled down over and over until he came to a stop, suspended high above the centre of the courtyard.
Shoot him!” shouted King Gregor at his archers. The archers drew back their long bows, but just as they were about to fire, there was an odd shriek and King Gregor fell down into the net as well!

It was Ignatius. The plucky pig had butted the King from behind. He stood watching the King tumble down towards the middle of the net. He was wearing Gregor’s crown at a jaunty angle on his big head.

In the middle of the net, Karl and King Gregor were having a terrific fight. The King’s knife had fallen away when he’d tumbled into the net, so neither of them was armed now.

They rolled over and over, punching and kicking at each other whilst the court watched from above, and the geese hissed below.

Finally, it seemed King Gregor had gotten the better of Karl. Karl wasn’t moving, and the King was on top of him. From the folds of his robes,King Gregor drew another, hidden knife. He held it high above his head and screamed as he swiped it down at Karl’s head. But Karl had tricked the King. Quick as a flash, he moved his head aside and rolled, so that the King’s strike missed him.

Unbalanced, the wicked King sliced wildly at empty air before cutting right into the net that was holding him up. He fell through the hole in the net with a horrible shriek and plummeted into the goose pit below. A loud squawking and hissing filled the air as the angry geese tore the wicked King to pieces. It was just about what he deserved, after all those years of nastiness.

Karl climbed up the side of the net and up onto the battlements. Some of the archers helped him. They weren’t sure why, but there was no one to shout at them for being nice now, so they thought it was the right thing to do. Karl’s voice boomed out across the courtyard
”Wicked King Gregor is dead! The Kingdom is free!” the courtiers all stood up and cheered. They hadn’t liked King Gregor one bit, but had had to go along with him, to avoid being eaten by angry geese. A few of them started to chant
”All hail the new king! All hail the new king!” the cry was taken up and soon it rang all around the courtyard.

Karl held his hands up for silence, and when they were quiet, he spoke again.
”I did not come here to become King.” He said. “I came here to save a kind girl who gave me some bread and cheese when I was hungry, and I’ve done that now. I cannot be your king.” The people groaned. They were already quite fond of Karl. He was that kind of guy.

”I do know someone who would make an excellent King, however” said Karl. “He is wise and kind and loyal, and he’s already wearing the crown.” Karl pointed to Ignatius, who was trotting towards Karl with a big grin on his face, still wearing King Gregor’s crown on his piggy head. When he heard Karl say this he stopped and his mouth fell open in surprise.
”Me?” he said. “Be King?”
”Why not?” said Karl. “I think you would be a great King.” He turned to the crowd. “All hail King Ignatius!” he cried.

This would not ordinarily have been enough to put a giant, wild, talking pig on the throne but it had been an exceptional day.
”All hail King Ignatius” shouted the crowd, and Ignatius doffed his head and smiled and in the fullness of time lived up to Karl’s prediction and was indeed a very good King.

He abolished Goose Poking Day, and had all the Goose Pokers thrown into prison. He ordered that the geese in the courtyard all be calmed down by feeding them honey, and then he had the courtiers distribute them to the people of the Kingdom. He freed all of King Gregor’s prisoners, including lovely Griselda, who was reunited with Karl, who surprised and embarrassed himself by telling her he loved her before she was halfway out of the prison door.

Luckily, she realised she loved him too and they returned happily to the cottage where the old woodcutter was waiting for them. His broken legs healed nicely in the end, and before he was off crutches, the Kingdom had become a happy prosperous place where bluebirds zoomed through clear skies and geese roamed freely without fear of being poked. Karl and Griselda were married and a great feast was held in the court of Good King Ignatius, as he was known by then throughout the land.

And everything was really good, for a very long time.

THE END.
DocBrown, Nov 04 2004
  

       Wow. Kudos [DocB]. You had me on the edge of my seat there. Not to mention you have coined some of the best phrases I've ever heard.
k_sra, Nov 04 2004
  

       ***applause***
Machiavelli, Nov 04 2004
  

       Thanks Doc, now I don't have to work out what's next on my son's bedtime story list.   

       By the way, did Good King Ignatius ever see the weasels off?
wagster, Nov 04 2004
  

       Dr. Emmet Brown, I presume?
RayfordSteele, Nov 05 2004
  

       Argh, I've run out of croissants.
david_scothern, Nov 05 2004
  

       Brilliant. I would certainly read this to my kids if I had any.
stupop, Nov 05 2004
  

       I think we can pretty much assume so [wags] yeah - he was the kind of King that sorted everything out.
That's me, at your service [Ray].
Yeah, thanks [stupop] - I keep getting those mixed up, damn it. Think I got them all now.

Thanks all for the kind words, I'll see you in the next idea.
DocBrown, Nov 05 2004
  

       Why? Why would you want to do this to people?
harderthanjesus, Nov 05 2004
  

       Are people applauding the idea or the story?
waugsqueke, Nov 05 2004
  

       I think it's a bit of both [waugs]. A few people asked me to finish the tale so I obliged. It beat doing work.
DocBrown, Nov 05 2004
  

       Doc, the idea is great, but the story is...OUTSTANDING. I'm really glad I saw this idea. Thanks for making me feel like a kid again. May I ask... what is your profession? ( I will be surprised to hear you're not a professional storyteller).
Pericles, Nov 05 2004
  

       Oh bravo, Doc. Have just started using my blackberry and your story lasted all the way from london to east croydon. I think it is a finely halfbaked idea and a grand story besides and boo on the moderators if they delete it.
Btw I think yabbas idea about choosing the story might have legs. "Hi you're thru to Zork Industiries, please hold...you're standing in the middle of a forest. To the east there is a white house. Push 1 to go east, 2 to go west.......
goff, Nov 05 2004
  

       Agreed! I also don't know if I'd much like to hear the stories while on hold, but big buttery bun for the story! That needs to be published with some good illustrations.
Freefall, Nov 05 2004
  

       "Hi you're thru to Zork Industiries, please hold... you're standing in the middle of a forest. To the east there is the White House. To the west there's The Bush. Push 1 to go east, 2 to go west.......   

       <hangs up in panic>
Pericles, Nov 05 2004
  

       I also have saved it. 8 Pages! DocB would you give it an official title please? Thanks, d
dentworth, Nov 05 2004
  

       I don't think that's the case here, [bliss]. The story doesn't stand alone... there's an idea behind it and people asked for the story to be concluded. That's why. If storage space is the issue, then i think it should be put somewhere else. I would like it to stay here, though.
Pericles, Nov 05 2004
  

       Many weak ideas have been bunned into the stratosphere as they have made people laugh.
wagster, Nov 05 2004
  

       Pericles, as I said, I love the story, and I like the idea. But the irony is hard to hide.
blissmiss, Nov 05 2004
  

       //But the irony is hard to hide.//
Where is the irony?
brodie, Nov 06 2004
  

       Very pressing issues on the in-crease.
Dig the tale [DocBrown]
  

       I'm afraid I'm not a pro storyteller [Pericles], which is a shame because I love writing. Am making a bid to bust out of 9-5 chair warming and get into it full time, we'll just have to see how it goes.

Official title for [dentworth]: "The Story of Karl & the Goose Pokers" which is simplistic, but consistent with the fairy tale feel I think. If any halfbakers want to call their start-up bands "Karl & the Goose Pokers" I'd be honoured.
DocBrown, Nov 06 2004
  

       dear docbrown i really like your stories and i would like to play and write stories and i would like to be with you and in fact i love your stories so may you do more stories on this website and i would like to say that if you would like it i will write you my own stories on computer so my name is meant to be tadgh but i've changed my name to crash - [crash]
wagster, Nov 08 2004
  

       Dear [crash], I'm glad you liked the story. If I write any more, I'll be sure to let [wagster] know so he can pass them on.
DocBrown, Nov 09 2004
  
      
[annotate]
  


 

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