The Red Rocket

Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a tidy, comfortable wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

It all started when Benson’s cousin, Lance, came over for lunch and broke the door off the fridge. He was just opening the fridge to see if there was any cheese and the door came off. “It came off in my hand!” he said, very surprised.

So Benson’s mother had to get a new fridge.

It came in a very big box, twice as tall as Benson was high, even when he was standing on his tip-toes.

“Can I have the box to play with?” he asked his mother.

“Of course you can,” his mother said.

Benson painted the outside red all over with black buttons and rocket burners, so it looked just like a great big red rocket. He even poked lots of holes in the sides with one of Aunt Lillibet’s knitting needles so the light would shine in like little stars when he was inside.

It was so tall that he had to climb onto a chair to get onto the table to get in at the top, and then it was a long way down to jump, but when he was inside, it felt like a real rocket. He decided to paint some rocket controls on the inside of the rocket, and then he realised there was a problem. His paints were outside the rocket and he was inside. And he didn’t know how he was going to get out.

“Hey!” he called. “Can someone help me get out of this rocket?”

Aunt Lillibet came along and heard him. She said, “Was that you calling, Benson?”

“I can’t get out,” Benson said from inside the rocket. “Can you help me?”

“Well, apart from the fact that you borrowed one of my knitting needles without asking, and BENT it,” she said, “I think it’s better for a young wombat to use his brains and try and work out how to get out of a fix that he got himself into because he didn’t think first, instead of expecting someone to come along and help him.”

“Does that mean you’re going to help me?” Benson said.

“No,” she said, and walked off.

Benson sat in the bottom of a very tall, dark box and thought. He couldn’t dig his way out because the bottom of the box was made of strong, thick cardboard. He couldn’t climb out because there was nothing to stand on. He couldn’t chop a hole in the box because he didn’t have anything to chop with. He sat and thought.

Then he had a good idea. He stood up, and leaned as heavily as he could on one side of the box. It started to lean, and then the whole box tipped over with a crash. It landed on its side and Benson crawled out through the top.

He gave himself a little pat on the back. “Aunt Lillibet was right,” he said to himself. “I’m glad I worked that out by myself.”

He stood the box up again, and cleaned up the mess the paints had made when the box crashed into them. Then he thought he should try and straighten Aunt Lillibet’s knitting needle for her. He took it outside and found a rock to hit it with, but that didn’t work. He put it between two flat pieces of wood and jumped on it, but that didn’t work either. All he got was a bent knitting needle with another bend in it and the top snapped off. Then he had a good idea. If he got the other knitting needle and bent it just the same, Aunt Lillibet could do some short, curvy knitting with them.

He went inside to ask Aunt Lillibet for the other needle, but he couldn’t find her anywhere. Then he heard a muffled voice coming from inside his rocket. “Hello? Is anyone there?” it said.

Benson climbed onto a chair and got up onto the table and looked inside the box. “Aunt Lillibet? Did you climb into my rocket without asking?” he said.

“Don’t just stand there,” Aunt Lillibet said angrily. “Help me! I can’t get out.”

“Don’t you think it would be better if you figured out how to get out by yourself?” Benson asked.

“Yes, it would, but this is an emergency,” Aunt Lillibet said.

“An emergency?” Benson said. He looked around for the flashing lights and the sirens but he couldn’t see any. “Are you bleeding?” he asked.

“No,” Aunt Lillibet said. “I need to go to the toilet.”

“Oh, that sort of emergency,” Benson said. “Okay, just hold on a minute.”

“I AM holding on,” Aunt Lillibet said. “Hurry up!”

Benson got down off the table and went across to the other side of the room. Then he ran across the room as fast as he could and threw himself at the box. It fell over on its side with a crash.

Everything was quiet for a minute, and then Aunt Lillibet’s voice said, “Was that the best thing you could think of, Benson?”

“You said you were in a hurry,” Benson said.

Aunt Lillibet crawled out of the box with her hat on crooked and her glasses hanging off one ear. “Thank you, Benson,” she said. She went off to the bathroom.

Benson stood the rocket up again. He climbed up onto the chair and got onto the table, and then he stopped and thought. He got back down again and went and got his scissors. He cut a door the shape of a rocket hatch in the side of the rocket, and then he went inside and shut the door.

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