Major Lars McCourt, E.A.R.S. astronaut
Had spent the morning at the gym
Then his holophone started bleeping
And his no-nonsense boss spoke to him.

‘I hope you’re not busy McCourt,’
Said Mildred Tunn, The Commander-in-chief.
‘You must come to work immediately
For a very important brief'.

Major Lars showered and changed
Then drove straight to the site.
Commander Tunn was there by the gate
Barking, ‘Major you’re leaving tonight.’

‘We’ve had an incoming communication,
All the way from Venus.
We had no idea they were watching
But we think they must’ve seen us.’

The Commander-in-Chief sniffed the air
And scratched her head in thought
‘We’ll discuss it over lunch with the Admiral.
Is that a vindaloo that you’ve brought?’

Major Lars and the wild-haired Chief
Ate curry with Admiral Firth.
‘Information is patchy,’ he said to them both,
‘But we suspect an invasion of Earth.’

‘We’ve picked up a part of the message
As Commander Tunn did say,
It doesn’t appear make much sense
But they’ve sent it ten times today.’

‘It definitely says the word “scream”
And certainly says “hee-hee-hee”.’
The Admiral sighed, picked up his cup 
And slurped down the last of his tea.

‘And we think we’ve identified Oddball’s craft,’
Said the Chief with a frown on her face.
‘But it can’t have been him zooming past Earth
If he’s still stuck out there in space.’

‘Major, we want you to visit,’ 
Said Admiral Firth to Lars,
‘But it’s hostile there and extremely hot
And not at all like Mars.’

‘No problem, Sir,’ said Major Lars.
‘I’ll pack my solar-powered fan.
And if I bump into Oddball and Feet
I’ll bring them back here if I can.’

Later the crowd gave a cheer
As Lars climbed down into the rocket.
He hoped very much that he had remembered to put
His sunglasses in his suit pocket.

The rocket took off as the spring was released,
When Control said, ‘ready! aim! fire!’
The rocket shot up through the purple sky
As if it was on a wire.

‘Ground control to Major Lars,
Time to engage the Elastic Drive.
We estimate it will take nine minutes
For the rocket to arrive.’

‘Major Lars to ground control,
I’m engaging the Elastic Drive.’
But as Lars pushed the green button
The rocket’s nose began to dive.

The rocket was heading downwards.
It must be the nurdling-pin!
So Lars got to work with his screwdriver
Before the Drive kicked in.

The pin lifted the nose of the rocket
As it started pulling back
And Lars was pressed into his seat 
As the rocket tore through the black.

The rocket sped sixty-eight million miles
And took just over nine minutes to arrive
Lars entered the Venusian atmosphere
Amazed he was still alive.

Relieved, Lars looked through the porthole
And saw the sunlight was reflected away.
The landscape looked dingy and yellow,
Somewhere between night and day.

As he parked the rocket on Venus
Lars realised something was not right.
When he climbed down to the surface
His noticed his space-suit felt tight.

Venus had much more gravity than Earth
And it squished Lars down smaller than before.
Now the Major was decidedly short
And not eight feet three anymore.

The Venusians had spotted the rocket
And as Major Lars waddled around
They all slowly wheeled to meet him
None of them making a sound.

It was hard to explain who he was
With his chin almost touching the ground
So Major Lars spoke with difficulty
As the Venusians gathered around.

‘Pleased to meet you,’ he managed to say,
‘I’ve been sent to by the Earth Alliance.
We wondered if we can offer you 
Our expert help and compliance.’

Lars did not want to explain
That E.A.R.S. thought they planned to invade
And that he had been sent to stop them
Before their best plans had been laid.

The Venusians seemed very sad
As they slowly led Major Lars to a door
Right at the base of a mountain
That he had not noticed before.

The Venusians were all very squat
With huge eyes just like baby seals.
They had two enormous, many-fingered hands
And didn’t have legs – they had wheels.

They had not said anything to Lars so far
So he wondered if they could speak.
Then the Venusian at the front of the group yelled,
“Hurry, my wheels are starting to squeak.”

The Venusian who was next to the leader
Took out a small bottle of oil
And quickly poured some of it onto his friend
Saying, “let’s get inside or our heads will boil.” 

The door opened up and they all went inside,
Into an enormous lift.
And as it ascended Lars noticed
It smelled of green cheese when he sniffed.

The temperature was beginning to affect him.
It was really unbearably hot
But it cooled down as they went up higher 
And strangely was snowing at the top.

The lift stopped at the peak of a ski-slope
‘Baggasprouts!’ said Lars in surprise.
He saw the Venusians here wearing bobble hats
And snow-goggles to shield their eyes.

A Venusian said, ‘we love everything cold
As it’s so hot on our planet, you see.
There’s nothing better than skiing all day
Then eating an ice-cream or three.’

Then a very sad look came over his face.
‘But I think the mechanism is broken.
We can’t get ice-cream out of the machine
When we insert a token.’

The Venusian S.O.S. became clear.
The aliens had not used the word “scream”.
They had merely been asking for help
To fix the machine for ice-cream.

‘And since the machine’s been broken,’
The Venusian continued to say.
‘There’s been a really stinky smell in the air,
It’s particularly bad today.’

He handed Lars a woolly hat and a spanner
And then a pair of skis.
‘The machine’s down there,’ he pointed
‘And wear this hat before you freeze.’

‘It might be a broken wang-bar’, said Lars
Poised at the top of the slope.
He put on the hat and skis and set off
Then slid down like a bar of wet soap.

When he got to the base of the hill
Lars examined the huge contraption
He figured the problem straight away
And knew why it was out of action.

The wang-bar was indeed bent
And the ice-cream had started to melt
Lars bashed the bar with his hammer
Then strapped it in place with his belt.

‘The ice-cream machine is fixed!’ 
Yelled a Venusian and gave a loud cheer.
But as the ice-cream was not yet frozen
They treated Lars to some iced ginger-beer.

But Lars was feeling a bit chilly
And wished he had brought his coat.
‘This drink is good,’ he politely said.
‘Thanks!  It’s fresh from our prize goat.’

‘What?’ said Lars, ‘ginger-beer from a goat?’
The Venusian nodded and laughed.
‘Earth goats give milk,’ said Lars, surprised.
His friend said, ‘really?  How daft!’

‘This ski-slope is truly ingenious,’ said Lars
Changing the subject as he finished his drink.
‘It’s a fabulous feat of engineering.
Do you also have an ice-rink?’

‘Yes, we have many’ replied his friend,
‘Ever mountain has a slope and a rink.
We are extremely fond of anything frozen
It’s so awfully hot here, don’t you think?’

‘We think it got this hot on Venus
Because of the damage we did long ago,
When our ancestors liked to flavour the air
And spayed perfume everywhere, you know.

They stopped liking the smell of nature
And spayed chemicals into the air
To disguise the natural aroma
And made those big yellow clouds everywhere.

Those clouds came together to form a duvet
Which covered the whole of the sky
So the bad air that should have escaped, stayed put
And sent the temperature up way too high.’

Happy cheers interrupted as the ice-cream was ready.
It was the Venusians staple diet
And there were so many interesting flavours
They very much wanted Lars to try it.

‘Which sublime flavour would you like, Major Lars?
Pickled strawberry or vanilla mustard,
Cheese chocolate-chip, vinegar ripple,
Sausage sorbet or prawn cocktail custard?’

The Venusian waited patiently 
As Lars pondered the choice.
He had almost decided on the mustard one
When he heard a familiar voice.

‘Feet, you’re a hopeless assistant!
Can’t you get anything right?
Did you forget you were to steal their machine?
I only just told you last night.’

The bonkers Professor was here on Venus!
Lars could barely believe his ears
But then the voice was completely drowned out
By the Venusians thunderous cheers.

Oddball was up to his old tricks again
‘I’ll be back’, said Lars and pushed through the crowd.
He managed to locate the direction of the voice
Before the celebrating got much too loud. 

The cross voice came from the shed on the left,
The place where they hired out skis.
Lars determinedly waddled towards it
And the increasingly strong smell of cheese.

‘Sorry Guv’!’ came a sob from the shed.
‘You fell asleep, Feet!  I heard you snore!’
Lars chose to surprise them both
And abruptly pushed open the door.

The Professor clocked Lars and stared in surprise.
‘Oh no, you again!’ he cried.
‘Why ever did I listen to you, Feet?
This was a rubbish place to hide.’

Oddball and Feet went in opposite directions
In an attempt to escape
But Lars had already tied them together
With his Ultra-Security-Tape.

‘First I’ll complete my mission,’ said Lars
‘As I’m here by special request.
Then I’m taking you both back to Earth
So consider yourselves under arrest.’

The Professor scowled and hissed at Lars,
‘If I’m still here when you get back.’
Then he growled at his henchman,
‘Feet, I’m giving you the sack.’

The Venusians welcomed the Major back
One said, ‘have an ice-cream cone, Lars.
This is my personal favourite
With madras imported from Mars.’

‘This is utterly yumalicious,’said Lars
To the Venusian with the proud grin.
‘Please take this holophone,’ he added.
‘Do I have curry sauce on my chin?

‘Just press the star key to reach me
If ever the ice-cream stops flowing.’
Then he stopped and looked at his watch.
‘Bowlabroccoli!  I’d better be going.’

Lars headed back to the ski-shed
While he finished his madras double-cone.
He opened the door and was shocked to see Feet
Who was sat on the floor on his own.

Almost every one of the Venusians,
Had followed Lars down to the shed.
They all gathered around with their ice-cream cones
‘Oh no, I’ve dropped it!’ one of the little ones said.

The Venusian’s ice cream had fallen to the ground
And he waved his empty cone in the air
He looked like he was about to cry
Then his friends all offered to share.

‘Have some of ours!’ they all said together,
The small Venusian began to grin
His hands were soon so full of ice-cream cones 
That he didn’t know where to begin.

‘Feet!’ said Lars, ‘Where’s Oddball gone?’
Feet looked dazed there in the shed
‘Erm…’ he said, ‘I’m not quite sure,
And what’s this big lump on my head?’

‘How did you two get to Venus?’ asked Lars
‘After I took the drive from your ship.’
‘I’d smuggled my pet bird on board,’ said Feet
‘while the Guv’ was having a kip.’

‘Then he found Sid in my suitcase
And said something I never knew.
He told me that he could make rocket fuel
Out of Zunni-bird poo.

‘The Guv converted the drive on his ship,
And very time Sid went to the toilet,
The Guv saved the poop in a jar
Then put it all in his new engine to boil it.’

‘The Guv said that jarful would get us back home to Earth
But it was much stronger than he’d said,
‘Cos that small amount got us all the way here
And we found ourselves on Venus instead.’

‘Then the Guv’ put poor Sid in a cage
‘cause he said his feathers made a draught!
I rescued Sid.  I’ve got him here.
So the Guv’s got no more fuel for his craft.’

Feet nodded and gestured towards his boot
As he ate a sandwich in the shed.
Lars moved closer, stared in disbelief
And saw a small black feathery head

‘If we hurry,’ said Lars, ‘we’ll catch up with Oddball.
Can we leave without using the lift?’
‘Yes, just over there,’ a Venusian pointed
To where the snow was starting to drift.

They all left through the snowy exit
And Lars pulled Feet through with the tape.
Then they all waddled and wheeled as fast as they could
But it seemed Oddball had made his escape.

The Major put on his sunglasses
And looked around to find the rocket.
He was so glad Oddball had not stolen it
When he remembered as he had forgotten to lock it.

Lars and Feet and the Venusians
Slowly made it to the rocket site
And although he was pleased to see it still there
Something was really not right.

Everyone looked very shocked
And no one made a sound
But stared at the spring thrusters on the rocket
Which had melted to the ground.

‘Cabbagesoup!  We shan’t be going home,
Major Lars cried in dismay.
‘The rocket’s absolutely stuck!
 …Or, wait! Is there another way?’

It was entirely possible
That he could use the elastic drive
But it was such a dangerous thing to do
The rocket might not survive.

Lars took out his laser cutter
And began slicing all around the rocket.
Finally the thrusters were free enough
To adjust the starboard sprocket.

The Venusians thanked Lars for coming 
And for mending their machine.
‘You’re the tallest alien,’ they said,
‘That we have ever seen.’

Lars sent Feet up the ladder and waved.
He said, ‘everyone wheel well back.’
He followed Feet in then closed the hatch
And gave the green button a whack.

As the rocket started pulling back
The heat built up higher and higher.
But because the ground was in its way
The rocket was squashed and on fire.

Then the elastic drive loudly twanged.
Lars and Feet were squashed down tight
As instantly the rocket shot upwards
At twice the speed of light.

As the rocket was out of the atmosphere
And the Venusian gravity passed
Lars felt ever so much lighter
And was back to eight feet three at last.

‘Major Lars to ground control!
I’m on my way back to Earth.
There’ll be no invasion and I’ve captured Feet, 
Please inform Admiral Firth.’

 ‘Ground control to Major Lars,’
Said the voice of the Commander-in-chief.
‘Pardon?  What have you done to your feet?
I can’t wait for your de-brief!’

Then Lars heard the voice of Admiral Firth,
‘Major!  Another mission under your belt!
We were really concerned about the heat on Venus.
We actually thought you might melt!’ 

Lars said, ‘no, I always keep my cool Sir,
With the help of my solar fan.’
Then he turned to Feet and un-arrested him,’
‘Just keep away from that Oddball man!’

‘Feet, you’re hereby free to go!
You’re not bad – just misunderstood!
I’m letting you go to take care of Sid
Do you promise that you’ll be good?’

‘I never really liked the Guv’’,
Said Feet and shook his head’
‘I’m going to stay well away from him
And do something worthwhile instead.’

‘I think I might open an animal shelter,
I really like pets, you see.’
Feet stroked Sid’s head ‘til he happily burped
‘And they mostly seem to like me.’

Minutes later Lars set down the rocket
And parked it in its usual bay.
The crowd that had gathered failed to notice Feet
As he silently side-stepped away.

‘Welcome home Major!’ cheered Admiral Firth
His voice was filled with delight.
‘Come to my office then change out of your space-suit
And I do hope your feet are alright!’

After his de-brief with the Admiral
Lars changed out of his astronaut suit
And he noticed something very odd
Tucked in his left space-boot.

The Venusians had left him a souvenir
But because they could not reach his pocket
They had put it there in his boot
Before he had got into the rocket.

Later at the homecoming party
Lars took out the gift from his coat.
‘The aliens left me this,’ he told the Admiral
And from his pocket he produced a small goat.

The Admiral stared at the creature
And said, ‘Your report was most interesting to read
But as for getting ginger-beer from this goat,
Well that sounds like a tall-tale indeed.

Sixty-eight million miles away
The Professor climbed into his craft.
So thrilled that he had escaped Major McCourt
When he closed the door he almost laughed.

‘I plotted to be King of Ice cream on Venus,
However did McCourt suspect?’
I just cannot believe he’s followed me again!’
It’s Feet’s fault my plan is wrecked.’ 

‘Now to fill up the tank and go home!’
Then he stopped.  ‘Oh no!’ he cried
When he stared at the zunni-bird‘s cage
And its doors that were flung open wide.

Then he stamped and he yelled and he jumped up and down
Because he had no idea what to do.
Feet had not only taken the last sandwich,
He had taken the zunni-bird too.


The End.

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