This is another story from the mostly forgotten, Tales from a Small Blue Planet, a book I wrote in the early Noughties (is that what we’ve finally decided to call that decade? Seven Billion people and that’s all we’ve got?). The stories are based on the parables of Jesus and this one is obviously (I hope) a re-imagining of The Lost Sheep. I hope you like it.
One of Our Bloopers is Missing
As you may know, bloopers come in all shapes and sizes. You probably even have a favourite. Maybe the wooly blooper or the spotted blooper, maybe the giant blooper or even the big-bottomed blooper. You may also know that bloopers gather together in herds with a mixture of every kind of blooper. If you have studied Bloopology (as I know many of you have) you will also know that each blooper makes its own sound and when mixed with the sounds of all the other bloopers, this makes music. This is no ordinary music. The music made by bloopers is soothing and calm and makes even the grouchiest person happy. It is like the first spoonful of your favourite pudding. It is like stretching in bed when you know you do not have to get up. It is like your favourite day.
But did you know that if just one blooper stops singing, the music goes wrong? It sounds almost the same but with something missing. Then it is like going on a journey and knowing you’ve forgotten something but not being able to work out what it is. It is like that feeling in your tummy when you first realise something has gone wrong. It is like an itch, an itch you cannot scratch.
One day El got that itch.
El looked after the bloopers. He knew them all by name, even Bo and Jo the twins, who he never got mixed up. He helped them to find snuzzleberries (a real treat for a blooper), he removed tangles from the wooly ones, he made sure the smaller ones were not accidentally trodden on by the larger ones and sometimes he would sing to the music they made. He loved them very much.
On the day that El got that itch he was sitting on his favourite rock on the hillside above Blooperville watching the bloopers at play. He had just finished curing San, a crested blooper, of the hiccups when he noticed that something was not quite right. He looked around and there in the distance was Bloo in a place he should not be.
Bloo was a spotted blooper, a curious one at that, and sometimes he would wander off. Most of the time it did not matter because he did not go far and always came back when El called him. But this time Bloo could smell snuzzleberries. The smell was so strong that at first Bloo thought they must be quite near. So he went a little way from the herd in search of the snuzzleberries but he couldn’t find them. He crossed the stream and started to look around on the next hill but still he could not find them. At the top of the hill Bloo heard El calling his name. He knew he should go back but the snuzzleberries could not be far away and they smelt so good.
What a feast it will be, thought Bloo. He pretended not to hear El calling him.
I will just get the snuzzleberries, he thought to himself, and then I will go back.
So Bloo carried on his search, getting further and further away from the herd. Over streams and across fields he travelled, around huge trees and through small bushes. Soon he found himself at the edge of an emerald forest. The afternoon sun shone through the dancing leaves, the birds sang and the grass was soft under his feet. He looked all around but still couldn’t find the snuzzleberries. He searched under the jumble bushes and behind the findle trees but still nothing. The smell was very strong now and Bloo searched even deeper into the forest, and there he found it. What he found was not a snuzzleberry bush at all but a thorny snaggleberry bush. As all good Bloopologists know, snaggleberries smell a bit like snuzzleberries but they do not taste as good and they give you tummy-ache.
Maybe I should go home, thought a disappointed Bloo.
But when he looked around him all he could see was trees and their branches did not seem so pleasant now that the light was fading. He could not remember which way he had come and could not think which way to go. He was lost.
Back on the hill above Blooperville, El shouted as loud as he could, calling Bloo’s name, but Bloo did not turn around. In fact, Bloo disappeared over a distant hill.
“Do not go anywhere, and stay out of trouble,” said El to the rest of the herd and with that he set off to find Bloo. When he reached the top of the hill Bloo was nowhere to be seen but El guessed he must have gone into the forest. He sniffed the air.
“Snaggleberries,” he sighed.
Bloo, meanwhile, was trying to get home but no matter how he tried, he always seemed to end up back at the snaggleberry bush and now he was hungry. He looked at the snaglleberries.
Just one will not hurt, he thought – and ate three. He tried to convince himself that they were not that bad and ate five more. Soon his tummy started to hurt and he felt woozy. Bloo fell over, right into the thorny snaggleberry bush. He tried to get out but he couldn’t. He was tangled in the spiky branches and the more he struggled the more tangled he got.
Why did I wander away? thought Bloo sadly, and he gave a little bloop: “Bloop!”
“There you are,” said a voice.
It was El.
“Oh Bloo, you have got yourself into a real mess. Let me help.”
El waded into the snaggleberry bush and though it scratched his hands and his feet, he didn’t care because he loved Bloo and wanted to see him safe. Soon El had lifted Bloo from the snaggleberry bush, and gently carried him back to the herd.
When he got back he had lots to do. Two sticky bloopers had stuck together, a short-legged blooper had fallen over and could not get up, and a long-tailed blooper had a sore tail from being stood on by a (very embarrassed) big-footed blooper. El put Bloo on the ground and watched him for a while as he played with the othe bloopers.
“Bloopers,” said El, shaking his head. And he listened to the soothing music they made.