Thursday, October 14, 2010

On destroying yet another children's classic

Some uncharitable people suggest that master of horror and suspense Stephen King hasn't published a decent body of work for some years. Cobblers, I say. Feast your eyes, if you will, on the first draft of the storyline for a landmark television series. A story which will make you soil yourself in fear. We present:

Stephen King's Bob the Builder

Wendy Cunningham looked up from her ledgers and surveyed the building yard through dirt-smeared office windows. She had only worked for Bob for a few months in Derry, Maine, but had become his de facto business partner, ensuring his operation ran smoothly.

[Skip 150 pages of Wendy's life story, in which her childhood sweetheart is killed horribly in mind-numbing, visceral detail by an alien spider disguised as a clown, explaining why she can never love another man again. Except, perhaps, Bob]

And Bob was a good builder. The best in Derry, Maine, where folks' word of mouth ensured work came in steadily. Yet, while he was always busy, Wendy's employer seemed to only work alone. Just Bob - the only man she knew who didn't call her ...untingham - and the machines.

The machines. Oh, how she worried about Bob and his machines.

The big, yellow back-hoe. The bulldozer. The crane. The mixer. The Roller. He had given them all names, personalities, painted faces on their radiator grilles and talked to them incessantly, while they sat mute in the yard with some sort of hold over him. They never went out on jobs - they had adventures.

She sometimes saw Bob arguing at length with the old scarecrow on the Pickles Farm, while the machines were driven up to their latest contract - the new estate on the Indian Massacre Burial Ground, down the end of Indian Massacre Burial Ground Lane, in the Derry suburb of Indian Massacre.

People, as a rule, didn't go there much.

Bob wrote. Bob wrote when he was alone, every evening. And every evening, the machines singing to themselves in the yard, it was the same:

Dear Fiesta, I didn't think I stood a chance with the hot blonde who worked in my office. That was until she invited me to inspect her damp course... then, our moans reaching a crescendo, we collapsed into each others arms, promising to do it again - but that's another story! Bob, Derry, Maine.

This time he might even send it in. Or, he would just lock it in the desk drawer with the others.

Wendy knew about the letters. She found them while searching for some invoices from Derry Builders Merchants of Derry, Maine. She was shocked, excited, flattered in equal measure, confused over her feelings for her employer, especially since she could never love again after her childhood sweetheart was killed horribly by an alien spider disguised as a clown.

She smiled as she put Bob's lunch into her bag, climbed into her red 1958 Plymouth Fury, and – Derry's WGUY playing vintage rock'n'roll on the radio- headed up to meet him at the building site on the Indian Massacre Burial Ground right down the end of Indian Massacre Burial Ground Lane, in the Derry suburb of Indian Massacre, Derry.

[Skip four hundred pages in which we learn the life story of a tramp, subsequently torn inside-out in mind-numbing, visceral detail after stumbling drunkenly onto the Old Indian Burial Ground]

Bob was there, driving the bulldozer. So were the other machines, driving themselves, glowing with a ghostly luminescence. Bob - a different sort of Bob - whooped and hollered as he crashed through mounds of dirt, and Wendy gaped as what she thought were rocks and sticks were, in fact, human remains. Some ancient. Some fresh.

Then she realised - Bob wasn't driving the bulldozer, the bulldozer was driving him, ploughing onward, its human passenger reveling in the destruction but playing no part. Then... it turned.

"You!" the orange devil cried, "YOU!"

It bore down on Wendy. She tried to flee, but her heels became lodged in the cavity of some dismembered torso - the tramp who came to the yard looking for work just the day before - and she fell.

Bob, with a cry of "Muck, NO!" tried to stop the machine, but either couldn't - or, Wendy thought in her dying moments - wouldn't.

Then it was upon her. Crushing her feet, her legs, the skull-popping pressure mingling with the screaming agony as the merciless tracked vehicle worked its way up her chest; then she was gone, thinking of the man who used to be Bob, her brother, those far off days before Derry, Maine lost its innocence.

And Bob, at the mercy of the machines, waited until he was alone in the empty office before he cried.

"My name's Julia," said the figure in the doorway, "Derry Employment Agency sent me."

"No it's not," said the unkempt figure, scribbling away at a letter to Derry's foremost adult publication, "It's Wendy. Wendy. And if you want to keep this job, you'd better be blonde."

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