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(A long short story of 12033 words)

Superhero Strawberry

Young Adult Children's

by Steve Way

An unlikely candidate for a superhero but this seemingly innocuous plant thwarts various nefarious plots, in particular one to take over the drones used by the armed forces. A story aimed at 10 to 13 year olds.

It looked like they’d just executed the perfect crime. Being light but agile, the three gymnasts-cum-felons had been able to actually swing along the tops of the frames of the paintings in the gallery. They swung from painting to painting, like apes swinging from tree to tree, without setting off the alarms fixed behind each painting that went off if anyone tried to pull them off the wall.

They then formed a triangle around the small sculpture that was the target of their robbery, each of them hanging gracefully from the frame of three different paintings. Each one of them then single-handedly extracted an extendable metal device from the small rucksack they each wore on their backs. Clicking certain buttons caused each metal arm that they held to slowly reach out towards the sculpture. When all three metal arms were resting gently against different sides of the sculpture, the thieves alternately clicked two other buttons on the devices they held. One caused a kind of metal scoop to slowly lift the sculpture from the podium it was displayed upon. The other caused a small metal weight to be deposited on the podium, underneath the sculpture, as the weight of the sculpture on the podium was slowly reduced. The thieves knew that the alarm underneath the sculpture was pressure sensitive and that if they just lifted it off the podium, the device would be activated. The weight of the little metal disks exactly matched the weight of the sculpture and as the sculpture was raised bit by bit the weights were added one by one to keep the weight on the alarm constant.

When the sculpture had been raised completely off the podium, by about four centimetres, and all the weights deposited in its place, one of the thieves clicked another button on her metal arm. This released a thin strip of metal that wrapped itself around the sculpture, a bit like the long tongue of a frog whipping itself around a fly. She then retracted the metal arm, bringing the sculpture slowly towards her. She then put the sculpture and the metal arm into her rucksack. When her two companions had also replaced their metal arms back in their rucksacks, all three of them swung back the way they’d come, to the tiny window through which they’d entered the gallery. Most people would have found it impossible to get through this tiny window but the gymnastic thieves were so small and flexible they could slowly manoeuvre themselves out of it by twisting their shoulders and hips in almost inhuman contortions.

From the window they could swing over to the stairs of the fire escape and by rolling over a rail they ended up standing on the first floor platform of the stairs. They then lightly tip-toed down the stairs down to the alley-way at the side of the gallery. They then began gracefully jogging up the alleyway to the main road that went past the front of the building.

It was just as the three women were emerging onto the main street that the three graceful gymnasts all inexplicably tripped over.

None of them afterwards could recall or understand why they’d all simultaneously fallen flat on their faces. Almost before they’d painfully hit the pavement, the tendrils of the strawberry plant, sticking through the cracks between the slabs in foot-catching curves, disappeared once more below the ground. What the thieves noticed, as did several passers-by, including an off-duty policewoman, was the famous sculpture rolling out of one of the thieves’ rucksacks and along the pavement.

Agile though they were, only one of the thieves managed to slip away from the scene without being caught. The sculpture was retrieved by a teenager who happened to be passing by eating a burger...

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