A quick tale that I knocked out while helping to test The Story Engine, a forthcoming online mentoring platform developed by the Ministry of Stories.
Once upon a time there was a pie-eating rat, Sir Roger III, a rotund fellow that couldn't help but snaffle every conceivable flavour of deep-fill goodness, from wild berry to Herefordshire beef & ale. His rich taste in meals was matched only by his dandy-like penchant for extravagant attire – waistcoat, cravat, monocle, cane. One day he was rolling down the sewer when he met an even more rolly-polly rodent – Tubby Trevor, undisputed king of gnawers and nibblers – who glanced over and suddenly broke out in uncontrollable laughter.
"So, Roger, been working out I see. Call that a body? You used to be a real fat rat, now look at you. Trim. Lithe. Paaaathetic. Mwahaha. Carry on like that and this sewer will certainly be big enough for the both of us. And where would the fun be in that? I think its time you moved on. How about the bins by the local Whole Foods, mwahaha."
Roger pulled out his vanity mirror and check himself over. A tear began to form in his eye as his mind drifted back to memories of past glories at the annual Ratso Pie Fest where his signature celebration would be the point at which he had eaten so much that his "R" embossed edible waistcoat buttons burst off and flew into the mouths of his adoring fans. Like a triumphant tennis champion launching his soggy sweatband into the crowd. Only tastier.
Then as the sewer began to echo with the bloated laughter of Trevor, something came over Roger. Was this how he would like to be remembered in Daily Muck, the local rag? What would his father, the fattest of all the rats – a pioneer no less – say about the whole affair and the shame he had brought on the family? Fuelled by rage and new heights of hunger, he plodded over to his vault, where he kept his emergency stash of High-Fearnley Furrball gut-busters and challenged his nemesis to a pie off, a dual to the death.
Trevor twiddled his whiskers, loosened his belt and waddled over to the vault. Moments later they began to dig into Roger's stash, practically inhaling one pie after the other. The floor was covered with shreds of crust and a sea of assorted fillings. Trevor's form was impressive, setting about his task like a rat possessed. Roger quickly began to feel cramps and it looked as though this might be the end but then, the ghost of his father appeared to offer a little encouragement – you know, like those scenes in the movies where the hero is almost down and out. From nowhere, he summed up his fourth wind and gobbled every last morsel in the place. He would have moved on to Trevor had he not been hoisted into the air by his fans, now descending en masse and squeaking gleefully. Roger's expanding girth sent buttons flying once again into the mouths of this adoring public, signalling the end of the contest.
Dejected and humbled, his solemn eyes just about visible underneath dollops of sweet and savoury sauces, Trevor approached Roger and held out a tail in reconciliation. "You've still got it, Roger. Now excuse we, will you. I think I'm going to be sick."