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 every last leaf and every last blade of grass. There will be nothing left but stones and earth.”
Kate looked at the moringa tree and sighed. It was true that several branches were stripped naked of leaves.
“I know,” she said, “Let’s go for a walk in the park. There are plenty of greens for you to fill you up there.”
She led the way back to the kitchen door. Unfortunately, when they were inside the hallway, his antlers became entangled in the chandelier. He shook his head trying to free himself, and lightbulbs went flying off to the side and smashing against the walls and the floor. Katie had to do a couple of quick spells to untangle him and to clean up all the tiny bits of glass.
They managed to escape through the front door and out onto the pavement.
“This way,” said Katie and the deer gently padded along behind her.
“Hmm. I think you’re going to attract quite a lot of attention,” said Katie to the deer, perhaps it might be better if people couldn’t see you.” She snapped her fingers and made him invisible.
Katie turned into Park Road. As they were going along, two girls that Katie knew from school came out of a house and saw her.
“Oh look, it’s that witch Katie,” said one of the girls, who was called Jemima.
“Let’s go and sing for her,” said the other, who was called Nellie.
Nellie and Jemima ran across the road to Katie and starte dancing around her and singing :
Ding Dong the Witch is Kate
“Ah Get away from me!” Exclaimed Katie, but the girls kept on getting in her way, and trying to trip her up. “Witches shouldn’t come out in the day, only at night on the broomsticks!” Said Nellie, right in Katie’s face. “Yeah, witch, if you’re so smart, put a spell on us!” Said Jemima.
It was at times like this that Katie really wanted to put spells on certain people and turn them into slimy slugs, but she knew that she wasn’t allowed to do that. If she did, she would be the one who got into trouble. But her friend, the deer, did not feel the need to follow any such rules. He had been plodding behind Katie, and she did not realise that he had turned visible. Now he was charging along the pavement with his golden horns lowered in attack mode. The two girls turned and ran screaming: “Ah there’s a deer after us!” All the way back to Nellie’s house.
The deer came trotting back to Katie with his head held high and his ears waggling. Katie put her arm around his neck and gave him a big hug.
“Oh, thank you so much. You really are my best friend!”
They soon reached the park, but there was a problem. The entrance had a cattle grid to stop hooved animals wandering across it. These were round metal rungs with gaps in them which would catch their hooves.
But the took a run down the road and leaped into the air just before the gate.
Katie held her breath. If he landed in the cattle grid he would surely break one of his thin, delicate legs: but fortunately he wasn’t just any old deer - he was a magical deer, which was why he was able to effortlessly fly over the dangerous rungs.
“Bravo!” Clapped Katie.
Katie and her friend the magical deer headed for some trees with some delicious looking green leaves, and the deer stood on his hind legs with his front legs resting high up the trunk of a tree and nibbled away. While he was doing that a dog came running up out of nowhere barking his head off:
“Hey, get away you stupid animal, don’t you know its dangerous to chase deer?” Shouted Katie.
The deer turned and began to run towards the dog with his antlers down: “Ah-oh, I hope nothing bad happens,” thought Katie. The dog also turned around and bolted away from the deer with his tail between his legs.
“You can stop chasing now!” Said Katie, and the deer did as he was told. “Well done!” She congratulated him“Nobody messes with you.”
Katie wasn’t the only one to be impressed by the incident. A pretty spotted deer, a doe, trotted up to the magical deer wagging her tail. He raised his head and held his crown of golden antlers up high.
“Ooh, don’t the girls like you!” Thought Katie.
But there was male deer, a large brown stag, who clearly didn’t. He was much bigger than Katie’s deer and now he came charging up to challenge him.
Katie’s deer lowered his golden antlers and locked them in battle with the challenger. Katie could hardly watch as the two boys battled it out, head butting with a clash of gold against horn. She desperately tried to think of a magic spell to calm them down. She said some words, but they did not seem to work on deer. The magical deer, despite being the smaller of the two combatants, had surprising strength and pushed his rival back out of the woods and into the bracken. Soon the large deer conceded defeat and trotted away.
“Hurray! Shouted Katie running over to her magical friend. You showed that bully!”
She was relieved that neither of the deer were hurt.
When the magical deer had enjoyed a well deserved breakfast of fresh grass and leaves, they returned home back the way they had come. Once again he flew over the cattle grid.
Katie was relieved to reach home without any more incidents.
She didn’t want to bring the deer back through the house again in case he did any more damage. The only other way for him to get back into her garden was to sneak through the neighbour’s property and jump over the garden fence again, which he did, fortunately without being spotted.
As Katie came through the front door, she heard her mother call out, “Katie, is that you? Come into the Kitchen please darling.”
Katie did as she was told, and found, in the kitchen, not only her mum but a worried looking visitor: it was Paul’s mum.
“Katie, have you seen Paul today?” Asked her mother.
“No,” said Katie, “not since last evening.”
“He’s been gone all day,” said Paul’s mother. “I was hoping he was with you.”
“According to the crystal ball, he was with you this morning in the park.”
“He was?” Asked Katie, baffled. “Oh….! That makes sense, sort of. Don’t worry Mrs Stagg, I know where he is. Just look out into the back garden.”
And there he was. The deer with golden antlers.
“Hmmm,” said Katie’s mother. “I’d better go and consult my spell book - come and help me Katie. Excuse us a short while, please.”
Up in her magical room, Katie’s mum said, “You said this morning that you dreamed about deer. What I think happened is that you turned Paul into a deer in your dream. Now only you can dream him back into Paul again.”
“Oh,” said Katie, “I don’t think I know how.”
“Just close your eyes and think hard about Paul as a boy, not a deer, and I’ll do the rest,” said her mum.
Which is what Katie did. And I am very glad to say that when they went back downstairs, Paul was sitting around the kitchen table with his mum.
“Well I should have known it was you!” Exclaimed Katie, “that cocky deer behaved just like you do!”
“Well thanks, Katie”, said Paul. “I enjoyed having four feet and a pair of antlers. I felt a kind of animal power and instinct.”
“This incident,” said his mother with a sigh, “shows exactly why your father and I do not encourage magic in our family.”
And with that, she thanked Katie and her mother somewhat coolly, and took her son home for a good shower to wash off musky, leathery odour that was hanging around him.