Benedict was a journalist. He wrote regular, spectacular articles every week which pleased his boss, Graham. He was very used to funny accidents happening all around Gilling, and described them in the newspaper in creative ways which interested the local people.
In the zoo, on the outskirts of Gilling, there was a very small, baby elephant called Bess. Many people liked to pet and feed Bess, and she was considered a great favourite in the town. Buns, biscuits and apples were her favourite food and the people of Gilling took great pleasure in fattening Bess with these goodies.
Bess had a weak, low fence which caged her in. The zoo keepers knew it, but did not change it because they thought that Bess was so contented there, she would not even attempt to escape.
On Christmas day, Bess waited for the zoo keeper to come and bring her some breakfast. He did not come. Bess, feeling puzzled and neglected, turned instead to face town. She was sure that right now, the regular pattering of feet should be coming up towards her. Bess listened with all her might, but she could not hear a thing.
“How strange!” thought Bess. “First, I don’t receive any breakfast, and now I don’t get my morning visit!”
She stared at the fence in despair, as if it would hold some comfort. Food, Bess was intensely thinking. Even at the thought of food, her tummy let out a low, grumbling sound. Then, she peered at the fence more carefully. She pushed it gently with one timid paw. It wobbled a lot, so Bess pushed it further. Then it wobbled ferociously, until it toppled right over!
Bess’s dream was to be free. She was so pleased that she was free; she rushed out as fast as her fat legs would allow her to. When she was almost out, she discovered one tiny problem.
She mumbled to herself, “Who has ever heard of an animal racing around freely, in the midst of so many people without getting caught and placed back in their cage?”
Bess knew that she only had only one chance to escape, so she ran out of Gilling itself to come up with a plan. When she was out of Gilling, she searched for a place that she could hide temporarily.
Benedict, the journalist, was wandering around town at that moment and noticed stray Bess. He dared not say a word, in case he startled poor, neglected Bess. What he didn’t know was the fact that the zoo keepers wouldn’t return back to the zoo until late that night.
Benedict waited patiently for the zoo keepers to return, but when they came back, Bess had disappeared! Bess had sensed the presence of him and had plodded heavily away.
Benedict was in deep disgrace. He had been accused of secretly smuggling Bess when the people’s backs were turned. In a cell in prison he was awaiting his trial and privately doubting any chance of survival.
His name was called. He stepped onto the platform, terrified. The executioner’s axe loomed above him, petrifying him.
The judgewaiting on the platform was a big, ugly, fat man. He wore a tight red-and-blue suit with a silly checked tie. He said, in a serious voice, “I want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Did you steal Bess from the zoo?”
Benedict’s voice trembled as he whispered, “No.”
The judge flew into a rage. He was furious at Benedict, as he was sure that he must have smuggled Bess. As he was the only person there at the time, he thought, some evidence must be against him on the scene. He ran across the court, ordering left and right to people, telling them to search the scene where Bess had disappeared. The people flew out of their seats, anxious to please the mad judge.
During all the confusion, Benedict managed to quietly free himself from the easy ropes and stealthily slipped away. There was only one problem about this. As there were so many maze-like corridors around it, and only one leading to the door, there wasn’t much chance of escaping alive. His one chance was to guess.
Benedict blindly stumbled towards a long, green door with little blue doors leading off it when a loud battle-cry met him.
Benedict gasped in astonishment. He had never thought that possibly a ninja could be in a court! Getting more curious every second, Benedict stepped inside the room. When he got inside, he could not believe his eyes. A tall lady was kicking a large man with high-heeled boots!
“Who are you?” asked Benedict, full of wonder.
“My name is Nina Worie. I am so good at karate, though, that my friends call me Ninja Warrior.”
“Yes,” said Benedict “very good. But I have been accused of a crime I didn’t do, and now I can’t find my way out of court! The people that were at the court are probably searching for me right now, so I really need your help. We must not waste any time about it. Let’s go!”
The two sprinted like a tornado to the door. Nina Worie was amazing and took no wrong turns in heading for the door in the labyrinth. When they arrived, they found something that was not pleasing. A mass of guards were at the door, waiting for them.
They whispered among themselves, saying things like, ‘Benedict’s a liar!’ and, ‘Stupid Benny can’t get out of this one’ [Benedict had been wrongly accused many times before] until Benedict grew quite mad. Nina saw the expression on Benedict’s face and sprung in to kick the bullying guards with her high-heeled shoes. They all fell down so Benedict could fight his way out, thank Nina Worie, and set off to find Bess.
Benedict went down the rocky path he went, as fast as the wind. He badly needed to find Bess to show everyone that he was not the thief they thought him to be. As he sprinted down the path, he suddenly came to a halt. He realised he had no idea where Bess was! Eventually, he decided that he would carry on down this path and, if he did not find Bess, the other path would still be there. That in mind, he ran off down the path again.
As he hurtled down the steep trail, Nina Worie came to his mind. He felt reluctant about leaving her, when she bravely knocked down the horrid guards. He felt now like something was creeping up on him, like an animal, about to attack its prey…
“BOO!” shouted a menacing sound from the bushes behind. Benedict, alarmed at this, quickly spun around. Behind him, a familiar lady stood, bursting with laughter.
“Nina Worie!” Benedict shouted. “It’s you!” Benedict was relieved to find Nina. She was a skilful warrior, and would probably help to find Bess.
“Yes, surprised you, didn’t I!?” she replied, still shaking with laughter. “Now, listen carefully, because I’m only going to say this once. I know where Bess is! You have taken the wrong path. Come with me, quickly. Come on, follow me!”
And with that, she was off, leaving Benedict panting behind. Eventually he caught up with her, as she was approaching the junction. Together, they speedily made their way to where Bess was said to be hiding. Eventually they came to the end of the path, facing a colossal thicket of trees. Slowly, they parted the brambles and hedges to discover a most relieving sight. Bess was hiding amongst the trees!
“Quickly, Bess, you need to get out of here! Everyone is searching for me and you, to execute me unless I prove that I did not steal you.” said Benedict nervously.
The elephant seemed to understand this because she trailed along behind them willingly. Soon, they were down the path and heading into Gilling. When they arrived, a surprising sight met their eyes. The streets were deserted! Taking advantage of this fact, they walked down the deserted street, with Bess. After a lot of walking, they finally arrived back at the court.
Benedict eventually found the room where the big, burly judge and the guards were holding a meeting about what to do in “the current situation”. When Benedict burst through the door, they were so bemused that, without knowing why, they immediately began to follow Benedict. When they arrived, they began to come to their senses. At the moment the judge noticed Bess, he exclaimed, in a jolly, deep voice, “Well done, Benedict! I suppose we were wrong about you! You cannot have stolen Bess! Well done Benedict, well done!” and the judge carried on repeating these phrases until Benedict’s face glowed pink with pride.
After this, a town assembly took place to celebrate Nina Worie and Benedict. They were presented with watches to thank them for their bravery, and have kept them to this day.