Undercover Robot, My First Year as a Human, by Bertie Fraser and David Edmonds is available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
Hello, this is Natasha, and I’m here with a story about Katie who is a little bit like you. She goes to school with other ordinary people. But there’s one thing that is a bit different about her. She’s a witch and can do magic spells.
This story features one of my favourite animals: a deer. Deer are delicate and vulnerable. Down the ages, people have hunted them for their meat which is called venison. They are very good at hiding. They blend into the undergrowth and the woods, and the antlers of the stags look just like branches. But if they run, they spring and glide through the air so gracefully!
Well enough about deer, and on with the story.
You may remember that Katie has a friend called Paul. He used to go to Katie’s school, but he was expelled after he stole Katie’s spellbook and started to play tricks on the teachers. Katie then learned that there was magic in Paul’s family, but his parents were ashamed of it, and tried to discourage Paul from learning magic.
Katie still keeps in touch with him. In fact, one Friday evening not long ago, she went round to Paul’s house. She sat at the kitchen table and watched him cook Satay Sweet Potato curry. Elena, who was one of Paul’s two elder sisters, came into the kitchen and said:
“Typical, I have a brother who wants to be a chef, and he’s vegan. I can’t wait for mum to get back from her trip and cook burgers.”
Paul spooned up some of his curry from the pan, blew on it to cool it, and tasted it. “I knew it! I poured too much salt in it!” he exclaimed.
“Don’t worry about that,” said Katie. She made magical gestures with her fingers. White grains of salt gradually rose out of the pan and flew back into the cellar through the little holes in the top.
“Nice!” exclaimed Elena, “Paul said you were a witch, but I didn’t actually know you practiced magic. You know we have some ancestors who were wizards, but mum and dad don’t like us to talk about it.”
“I know,” said Katie. “It’s understandable, there’s a lot of prejudice against magic.”
Paul’s curry turned out to be so delicious that even Elena had to agree it was good, and when they had finished eating they went into the living room to search for something half decent to watch on FlicsPics. While Paul was scrolling through endless soaps and unfunny comedies, Katie looked around the room.
“Is that a coat of arms?” she asked, pointing at a picture frame.
“Yes, that belongs to my dad’s side of the family,” said Paul.
The design was of a shield with a stag, rising up on his hind legs.
“Deer are one of the most magical types of creatures,” said Katie.
“I know,” said Paul, “My grandfather used to use powder made from a deer’s antler in his magic spells.”
Eventually, they decided to watch the first episode of a Dutch detective series. It was just getting interesting when Katie’s mum rang the doorbell to pick her up and drive her home.
That night Katie dreamed that she was walking through the park when she saw a deer under a tree. He was a young stag with golden antlers like a crown. She stopped to look at him, and the deer walked over to meet her. She patted his neck and he nuzzled her with his soft nose.
When Katie awoke in the morning, her dream was still playing in her head. “Did that really happen?” she asked herself, “Because it seemed too real to be a dream.”
A little later, still in her dressing gown, she went into the kitchen to brew witch’s tea. The kitchen had a glass door looking into the garden. It was through this door that she saw a deer out the back. He had golden antlers, just like the one in her dream, and was nibbling on the leaves of her mother’s magical Moringa tree.
“That’s him,” exclaimed Katie, “He’s the deer that I remember from my dream. Or was it a dream? How did he get there?”
She went out into the garden and approached the deer. He didn’t run away. First is ears swiveled round and pointed at her, and then he slowly walked on his long delicate legs towards her. A muscle in his side was trembling and his tail was swishing.
“Poor you,” said Katie, “the ticks and fleas are making you itchy. I don’t want those on me either, so I’ll just get rid of them for you.”
She ran back into the kitchen and fetched some of Solomon’s magical flea powder. It worked far quicker than the extremely expensive stuff from the vet, and only had natural ingredients, such as mandrake’s root, crocodile tears, and Glass Eyes. She said a little spell and blew the powder from the palm of her hand so that it flew over and settled on the deer. All the blood-sucking ticks and fleas immediately packed their bags and left - hopping their way across the garden to find some other poor creature to torment. Katie could tell that the deer was happy. There were lights in his eyes. He came over and nuzzled her with his big soft nose. She felt his antlers, and they were smooth and cool and so that she thought they probably were actually gold.
“Clearly you are a magical deer,” said Katie, “But did I dream you up? Or did you come here on your own?”
The deer scuffed the ground with his hindfoot. He seemed frustrated.
“Oh, how I wish you could talk and tell me how you got here!” exclaimed Katie. “Don’t go away. I’ll ask my mum if she knows a spell to make deer talk human languages.”
Katie went back inside the house. Her mother was pouring sorrel soup into her flask to take with her to the Magic Shop. She had been watching Katie and the deer in the garden.
“Where did he come from?” she asked as Katie came in.
“I think he may have manifested in my dream,” said Katie, “because I dreamed about him last night and then this morning there he was in the garden.”
“Hmm,” said her mother, “ He clearly seems to have a bond with you.”
“I so wish he could tell me where he’s from,” said Katie, “Do you have any magic for making a deer talk?”
“I don’t recall a spell like that,” said her mum, “Now, Cats can be pretty chatty of course, but generally speaking deer are the silent types. But I must rush. I’m in a hurry to open up the shop. Saturday mornings can be really busy. Stay safe and don’t forget to do your homework.”
Her mother gave Katie a kiss and headed for the hallway to put on her coat. Later that morning, while Katie was doing her homework, she heard someone hammering out the front door.
“Those delivery people are so rude,” she thought as she went downstairs.
But it wasn’t a delivery. Their bad-tempered neighbour was on the doorstep.
“Are you keeping deer these days?” she demanded to know.
“Not exactly, Mrs Grime,” said Katie.
“Well one of your menagery is in my garden pooping all over my lawn and helping himself to my apple tree,” she said angrily.
“It’s hardly a menagerie,” said Katie, “We have one cat, one deer, and a few tropical fish.”
“I don’t care what beasts you keep in your house and garden so long as they don’t invade my property.”
“Just give me a minute, I’ll go out into the garden and call him,” said Katie.
They went out into the garden and looked over the fence. “Hey, come back, you can’t eat those apples. They belong to our neighbour,” she called.
The deer turned his head and waggled his ears at her. She beckoned frantically to him. In a moment, he took off from his hind legs and glided gracefully back over the fence.
“Oh, thank you,” said Katie when he landed back on her lawn. And she whispered, “You know, our neighbour’s not exactly very neighbourly. You’d better stay in our garden.”
But her cat Solomon, who was sitting up in a tree, meowed, “If he stays here, he’ll eat