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Beauty and the Beast

The large stork behind the desk in the assignment house adjusted the bifocals on his beak and pushed back his Captain’s hat. “How did the aptitude testing go, Johnny?”

The thin young man in ragged clothes with a cooking pot on his head shrugged. “As good as you could expect, Sir. Most of them will work out fine as extras on Main Street or Tomorrow Land. Some we assigned to the American Revolution story as British extras.” He sighed. “There are just two giving us trouble.”

“The big mouth with the monocle is one I’m sure.” The stork replied as he chewed on a pencil tip while trying to ignore the shouting from a door behind him. “Who’s the other?”

“The one calling himself Willy. He looks like a rhino and has all the morals of one.” Johnny busied himself planting seeds in pots and as he went down the line little apple trees popped up behind him.

“It’s simple.” The stork replied. “The rhino can go to the rabbit set. He’ll fit right in with the weasels. As for big mouth I hear they need extras in the French Village.” He shrugged. “If he doesn’t work out then a certain one-handed pirate captain has been griping about needing some action. I think he’d do nicely there.”

“I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, Sir.”

The stork winced as an angry shout came from behind the door at their backs. There was a solid thunk and then quiet. “If anyone deserves it, Johnny, I think he does.”

“I think you’re right as usual, Sir. Will you be making deliveries tonight?”

The stork smiled. “I’ll be doing the lion cubs. The little elephant with the big ears, I’ll let a team handle. Good night, Johnny.”

“Good night, Sir.”

The officer with the monocle awoke in a bush beside a quaint French house. He groaned, got to his feet, and brushed himself off in disgust. At least he still had his dress uniform (repairs: cleaning and sewing 55 pounds 10). He looked around and heard singing and laughing coming from a rustic tavern. He’d go there and receive the help he deserved.

“Bon jour!” A baker sang out as he walked by him heading towards his shop from which warm scents of cooking bread were drifting.

“French.” The officer sniffed. “And a rustic too.” His hopes of help went down a notch or two.

He threw open the door and strode in. There was immediate silence. Everyone turned and stared at him with pots of ale halfway to their lips. “What are you staring at?” He growled. “Haven’t you ever seen an officer and a gentleman before?” He strode down to the center of the room and stopped with his hands on his hips. “Who’s in charge here?”

“That would be Gastone.” A short little man with a big nose told him. “He’s sitting over there. But I’d not bother him if I were you. He’s been in a bad mood since his girl turned him down.”

“If he’s in charge, then he should get used to being bothered.” The officer snapped. He strode over and kicked the boot of the seated figure in the dark corner. “Come on, Sir. Respond to your betters.”

A pair of malevolent eyes opened and regarded him disinterestedly. “Nothing matters anymore. I’ve been rejected. I’m disgraced.” The eyes closed again. “Go away, Limey.”

The officer grabbed the front of the rustic’s shirt and slapped him across the face. “There. Has that got your attention, snail eater?”

The little man put his empty mug over his head and sank down into the shadows. “That should do it.” He declared.

Gastone slowly unfolded himself from the chair and rose to his full height which was at least two feet over the head of the officer. His eyes were glowing like red coals. “First.” He said. “I want to thank you for waking me out of my funk.” Two strong hands attached to two hairy and very muscular arms seized the officer by his shirt front and drew him close. “Second. I want to thank you for providing the entertainment.” A great big fist came back and smashed into the officer’s face sending him plowing into the bar where he was seized by willing hands and flung back in Gastone’s direction.

“You can’t do this.” He protested as Gastone grabbed him with one hand and raised a balled fist like a sledge hammer.

Gastone raised an eyebrow. “Oh, and why not?”

The officer set his monocle squarely on his nose. “I’m a British officer and your superior in every way.”

“Wrong answer.” The fist connected and the officer flew through the air to land on top of the short man.

“This always happens to me.” The short man complained. He withdrew a very sharp pair of scissors. “Luckily I kept these from the castle fight scene.” He stabbed upward.

With a yell and gripping his attacked buttocks the officer fled towards the open door. Before he made it he was seized by the collar and dragged back to face Gastone. “Leaving so soon? We wouldn’t think of it. The party’s just getting started.” The big fist descended again.

The little man gratefully accepted a bowl of popcorn that the three pretty girls were passing around from a huge bag. “And I thought this was going to be another boring evening.” He sat on a bench and crunched away happily as the flickering firelight showed the shadows of the officer being punched, pummeled so his head went into his belt, being bitten savagely on the leg, and being bounced in the air while the bar echoed to the chorus of: “No one fights like Gastone.”

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