Magic Penguin And The Return Of The Main Characters



Magic Penguin, Fat Giraffe and Mystic Mouse were enjoying a few drinks in the Shoe and Phone one afternoon as they tended to do with monotonous regularity.

“So, we’re back then,” observed Mystic Mouse.

“What do you mean?” asked Fat Giraffe, “We’re always in the pub. We literally don’t do anything else.”

“Yes, but last week we weren’t in the story at all,” said Mystic Mouse.

“Oh yeah,” said Fat Giraffe, “I remember now. The story was set in a different but similarly named pub, with three characters who had the same initials as us, but who weren’t us at all.”

“It was a bit strange,” agreed Magic Penguin, “I’m not quite sure why that happened really.”

“I thought, in many ways, it was actually a little bit better than the usual stories,” said Mystic Mouse.

“I agree,” said Fat Giraffe, “I thought Mistaken Moose was really funny.”

“It’s a bit worrying though,” said Magic Penguin, “why weren’t we in the story last week?”

“Well, I’m putting it down to the snow,” said Mystic Mouse, “everything seems to stop when it snows.”

“So does that mean that we are, in fact, in the UK?” asked Fat Giraffe, “because I’m not sure if we’ve ever really established that.”

“I’m not sure” said Mystic Mouse, “but it snowed in other places, besides the UK last week, so I don’t think it’s conclusive proof that the Magic Penguin stories are set in the UK.”

“On the balance of probability we are based in the UK,” said Magic Penguin, “but if we are, then it’s a heavily fictionalised version. I mean there aren’t really any talking penguins, giraffes or mice in the UK.”

“No, that’s generally more of a Scandinavian thing,” agreed Fat Giraffe.

“I think you’re probably mistaken there,” said Mystic Mouse.

“Well, they don’t call me Mistaken Moose for nothing,” said Fat Giraffe.

“They don’t call you that at all,” said Magic Penguin, “you’re quite clearly called Fat Giraffe.

“Oh yeah,” said Fat Giraffe, “got a bit confused there for a minute.”

“It’s understandable,” said Magic Penguin, “It’s been a long time since anything made sense in these stories.”

“True,” said Fat Giraffe, “they do seem to tend towards the absurd.”

“Which would be fine if anything ever happened in them,” said Magic Penguin “but nothing ever does.”

“Although if these stories are a homage to the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ movement popularised by Beckett, Ionesco et al. then it’s perfectly reasonable that nothing ever happens.” said Mystic Mouse.

“How do you mean?” asked Fat Giraffe.

“Well it’s like Waiting for Godot,” said Mystic Mouse, “Much like Vladimir and Estragon wait in vain for Godot to arrive, we’re waiting in vain for something to happen.”

“But we’re clearly not waiting for Godot,” said Magic Penguin.

“I realise that,” said Mystic Mouse, “I was referring to that play as an illustration of my point and the situation we’ve potentially found ourselves in.”

“No, I understood your point,” said Magic Penguin, “I just mean that we’re not waiting for Godot, cos he’s already here.”

And sure enough, sitting near the bar, drinking a pint of stout and reading a battered copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, was none other than Godot.

“Hey Godot,” called Magic Penguin, “how long have you been here?”

“Since 1953,” said Godot, “I told those idiots Vladimir and Estragon to meet me here, but they still haven’t shown up.”

“Well that certainly explains something,” nodded Mystic Mouse.

“What does it explain?” asked a baffled Fat Giraffe.

“Never mind,” said Mystic Mouse.

“Well I don’t want to sit around twiddling my thumbs,” said Magic Penguin, oblivious to the fact that penguins don’t have thumbs, “I suggest that we stop waiting for something to happen and we take the bull by the horns.”

“You leave my horns alone,” said Anxious Bull.

“Sorry Anxious Bull, I was using a metaphor,” said Magic Penguin.

“Well, it’s a bit of an insensitive metaphor if you ask me,” said Anxious Bull.

“Anyway, I thought we were waiting for someone,” siad Mystic Mouse, “didn’t the last story that we were in finish on a cliff-hanger, surrounding the imminent arrival of your evil cousin?”

“Yes, but as he clearly hasn’t arrived yet, I think we should go and do something else,” said Magic Penguin, “I mean we’re a good 700+ words in at this point, so I think it’s reasonable to conclude that he’s not coming.”

“Not so fast Magic Penguin,” said the voice of a mysterious stranger who had just entered the pub.

“Who’s that?” asked Fat Giraffe, with trepidation.

“Oh, that’s just Red Herring, trying to set up another meaningless cliffhanger,” said Magic Penguin, “I think it’s safe to ignore him.”

“Not this time Magic Penguin,” said Red Herring, for it was indeed he, “this time I bring news that your cousin, Evil Penguin is about to return, and make your life very complicated indeed.”

“You already told us that two weeks ago,” sighed Magic Penguin, “we were literally just talking about that. And Evil Penguin still hasn’t shown up and this week’s story was just as pointless as the rest of them have been.”

“Oh,” said a visibly crestfallen Red Herring, “well I’m sure he’ll be along next week.”

And Red Herring might well be right. But equally he could be wrong. Irritatingly, the only way to find out is to read next week’s Magic Penguin story, which will, in all likelihood, be just as disappointing as this one was.

Magic Penguin And The Need For A Nemesis




Magic Penguin, Fat Giraffe and Mystic Mouse were whiling away the afternoon in the Shoe and Phone as they were sometimes inclined to do. Fat Giraffe was slightly irritated that he had mostly been left out of last week’s story, seemingly only to be used as a cheap device to conclude the narrative with a misleading cliff-hanger. It was the second time the writer had employed that trick and Fat Giraffe was concerned that the standard of the Magic Penguin stories was not improving. He was considering striking out and starring in his own spin-off series of ‘Fat Giraffe Adventures’, particularly now that Mystic Mouse seemed like she was going to become a regular fixture. Fat Giraffe had never been too bothered about the arrival of Stupid Donkey as a potential rival sidekick, but Mystic Mouse was different. She and Magic Penguin had more in common, both being of a slightly supernatural persuasion, whereas all he, Fat Giraffe, had to bring to the table was his improbable obesity. Then again, trying to make it on his own could be risky whereas Magic Penguin was now an established franchise. Maybe he could stick around for a bit longer and see if he could make it work.

“So, whatever happened to the private investigation business?” asked Mystic Mouse, “Had any interesting cases lately?”

“Well, yes, quite a few actually,” said Magic Penguin, “though surprisingly none seem to have actually made it into the stories.”

“Yeah, it’s a bit odd that,” agreed Fat Giraffe, “I mean we had that whole corruption case recently, a conspiracy that went right to the top of government, and yet for some reason the writer chose to ignore that and instead he always seems to focus all of the stories in the pub, on the days when we’re not really doing much at all.”

“Well, hopefully now that I’m around, things will change a bit,” said Mystic Mouse, “Now we’ve kind of got that whole ‘Harry Potter’ vibe going on.”

“How so?” asked Fat Giraffe.

“Well there’s three of us,” explained Mystic Mouse, “and Magic Penguin is kind of like Harry Potter, the de facto leader and I’m like Hermione, the clever and talented one, and you’re a bit like Ron, the slightly useless, but ultimately loyal one.”

“Oh, ok,” said Fat Giraffe, unsure whether he was offended by the obvious slur or pleased that he was definitely considered to be part of the group.

“I think it’s a bit of a tenuous link,” said Magic Penguin, “I mean, apart from the fact that there’s three of us, there really isn’t that much that we’ve got in common with the Harry Potter novels.”

“There’s no denying that they were really successful though,” pointed out Fat Giraffe, “I wouldn’t mind being part of something as big at the Harry Potter franchise.”

“Obviously that would be nice,” agreed Magic Penguin, “but I just don’t really see it happening for us. Literally nothing ever happens in these stories.”

“What we need is an antagonist,” said Mystic Mouse, “that’s what makes Harry Potter work. You need a nemesis.”

“Well there’s always Red Herring,” said Fat Giraffe.

“No, he’s just a bit of a timewaster,” said Magic Penguin, “He likes to appear at the end of the more nondescript stories to build up a level of excitement for the following week that we can’t possibly live up to.”

“Which is pretty evil when you think about it,” said Fat Giraffe.

“True,” acknowledged Magic Penguin, “but it’s hardly on the same level as Voldemort is it?”

“No, I think we can do better than Red Herring,” said Mystic Mouse, “what about if an already established character were to betray you? What about someone like Stupid Donkey?”

Stupid Donkey, who was skulking in the corner feeling rejected by the trio, looked up hopefully at this point. He would rather be one of the good guys, but he’d take being a villain if it meant he got to be back in the stories again.

“No, I don’t think Stupid Donkey would be any good,” said Magic Penguin, “he just doesn’t have what it takes. He’s a tertiary character at best.”

There were audible sobs as Stupid Donkey rushed out of the pub. Barely anyone noticed.

“No, I think we’re going to need to introduce a new character to be my nemesis,” said Magic Penguin.

“But who?” asked Mystic Mouse.

“I don’t know,” said Magic Penguin, “but I’ve irritated my fair share of people over the years. There are plenty of people who don’t like me.”

“I’m not sure that ‘not liking you’ is going to be enough of a hook to keep the readers interested though,” said Mystic Mouse, “surely the baddie needs to have some kind of evil-scheme that’s about more than getting one over on you?”

“Well that’s going to raise a whole new set of problems,” said Magic Penguin, “I mean if they’re that dangerous, how are we going to overcome them?”

“But that’s where the intrigue comes from,” said Mystic Mouse, “we need to prevail against all the odds.”

“I don’t know, that sounds like a lot of work,” said Magic Penguin.

“Well we definitely need something to up the pace of these stories, and it can’t just be another cliff-hanger that doesn’t really go anywhere,” said Mystic Mouse.

At that moment, the sound of nineties classic ‘Informer’ by Canadian rap-artist ‘Snow’, filled the room. It was Magic Penguin’s ring tone.

“Hello,” he said answering his phone.

A voice spoke briefly on the other end.

“Oh,” said Magic Penguin, “are you sure?”

Again, the voice spoke.

“I see,” said Magic Penguin and he ended the call.

“Who was that,” asked Fat Giraffe.

“It was Red Herring,” said Magic Penguin, “with another cliff-hanger.”

“Oh,” said Fat Giraffe, “well we can probably ignore that one then.”

“Not this time,” said Magic Penguin, “Red Herring told me that my cousin is back in town.”

“What, Lovely Penguin?” asked Fat Giraffe, “I haven’t seen her in ages. It’ll be great to catch up with her.”

“No, my friend, it’s not Lovely Penguin who’s back,” said an ashen-faced Magic Penguin, “It’s Evil Penguin.”

There was a loud thumping sound as Fat Giraffe fainted.

“Now that sounds more like it,” said Mystic Mouse, “I expect things are going to get interesting now.”

But as ever, Mystic Mouse was being far too optimistic.







Magic Penguin And The PC Brigade



Magic Penguin and Mystic Mouse were enjoying a drink in the Shoe and Phone.

“It’s nice in here,” said Mystic Mouse.

“Is it?” said Magic Penguin in surprise, for he had always felt that the Shoe and Phone was a dingy backstreet watering hole, and certainly not the kind of establishment that anyone would ever describe as being ‘nice’.

“Well, no. ‘Nice’ probably isn’t the best word to describe it,” admitted Mystic Mouse, “It’s actually kind of horrible. But it’s nice that you invited me.”

“Well I thought we were overdue a catch-up,” said Magic Penguin, “after all there are precious few female characters in the Magic Penguin stories.”

Mystic Mouse pondered this for a moment.

“Are you saying you only invited me, so I could be a token female character?” she asked.

“Oh no,” said Magic Penguin, “I genuinely wanted to meet up again. It’s been ages. But it certainly won’t hurt in trying to alleviate some of the criticisms we’ve been getting of late, in terms of the lack of female representation in the Magic Penguin stories.”

“Oh,” said Mystic Mouse, “I’m not sure how I feel about that really.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” said Magic Penguin hastily, “We really wanted to include you because you’re an interesting character in your own right. It’s really just a happy coincidence that you’re also a strong female role model.”

“So, I’m definitely not just a token female character then?” asked Mystic Mouse with genuine scepticism.

“I mean, not intentionally, no,” said Magic Penguin, “although, as things stand, given the lack of any other female characters, with the exception of last week’s villain, ‘the Melancholy Tomato’, one might mistakenly make the assumption that you are the ‘Smurfette’ of the Magic Penguin series.”

“But I’m not, right?” verified Mystic Mouse, “The writer is planning on there being other female characters in the stories soon?”

“I’d imagine so, yes,” said Magic Penguin, “as I say, it’s not intentional sexism on the writer’s part. It’s just, as has been mentioned before, he’s really not a very good writer.”

“Well it’s political correctness gone mad if you ask me,” said Wise Owl from a nearby table, where he was completing the ‘angry word’ in the Daily Hate (the ‘angry word’ was like a crossword but much more incendiary).

“Well no-one did ask you,” said Magic Penguin, “and you can keep your stupid intolerant ‘Daily Hate’ inspired bile to yourself”

“Is the Daily Hate, basically just our version of the Daily Mail?” asked Mystic Mouse.

“Essentially yes,” confirmed Magic Penguin, “But the writer thought it would be clever and satirical to rename it the Daily Hate.”

“Hmmm,” pondered Mystic Mouse, “It’s really not that clever or satirical is it?”

“On reflection, no,” agreed Magic Penguin, “but the writer does what he can, which is not easy when you’re as utterly talentless as he is.”

“It can’t be easy,” nodded Mystic Mouse, “I think he does very well for even having a go, particularly given his recent legal problems.”

“It’s a load of rubbish though isn’t it,” grumbled Wise Owl, “and it’s particularly bad now he’s busy pandering to the PC Brigade.”

“I mean I don’t think he is especially pandering to the PC Brigade by just including a long overdue female character,” argued Magic Penguin.

“Yes, he is, he’s bloody pandering,” said Wise Owl bitterly, “and they won’t be happy, that PC Brigade, they’ll want more.”

“Did someone mention my name?” asked PC Brigade, of the local constabulary, who was also in the pub, enjoying a few whiskies, while on his lunch break.

“Er, no officer,” said Magic Penguin, “Wise Owl was referring to the erroneous notion that there is an entity known as The Politically Correct Brigade, often abbreviated to the PC Brigade, who like to go around being offended by stuff and ruining everyone’s fun, when in fact there’s no such thing and actually Political Correctness is just a way of trying to make the world a fairer, more equitable and ultimately nicer place for everyone.”

“Oh, ok,” said PC Brigade, downing another scotch, “as long as you weren’t talking about me.”

“We definitely weren’t officer,” said Magic Penguin before adding, “should you really be drinking so heavily if you’re on duty?”

“Who are you, the Health and Safety Police?” growled PC Brigade.

As it was obviously a rhetorical question Magic Penguin chose not to answer.

There was a brief moment of silence as everyone went back to what they had been doing prior to the conversation.

“Seven down,” said Wise Owl returning to his ‘angry word’, “a scourge on society, eleven letters, starts with ‘I’.”

“Well, as long as I haven’t just been included on the basis of my gender and I’ve actually got a full role to play moving forwards, then I’d definitely be delighted to be part of the Magic Penguin stories,” said Mystic Mouse, “after all, last week’s story actually had something resembling a narrative, and if that’s going to be a regular feature then  it could be quite a lot of fun moving forwards.”

“Yeah, the writer seems to have lost his way again this week though,” said Magic Penguin, “and truthfully, last week’s effort was really just a rehash of something he wrote back in 2003 before he lost all hope and resigned himself to a life mediocrity and disappointment.”

“Well, there’s still hope he’ll find his way again,” said Mystic Mouse with naïve optimism.

“Possibly,” said Magic Penguin, “but to be fair, this week’s story is not a particularly promising sign that things are going to get better.”

At that moment Fat Giraffe burst in through the doors of the Shoe and Phone.

“You’ll never believe what’s happened!” he exclaimed.

“What is it old friend?” asked Magic Penguin.

“No time to explain,” said Fat Giraffe, “but come quickly, I think we’re about to have the adventure of a lifetime!”

“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” said Mystic Mouse leaping up to follow Fat Giraffe.

Magic Penguin followed too, but he was a tad more sceptical. This was a little too much like the cliff-hanger in Magic Penguin And The Third Character and he suspected it was the work of his old nemesis, Red Herring.

Tune in next week to discover that Magic Penguin was right all along and there was absolutely nothing to get excited about whatsoever.