Pazaz pressed the button, pink sparks flew and ... nothing happened.
The lions were coming straight for them! Daisy could see their huge pointy fangs. She wanted to faint, or to run, but all of them seemed rooted to the spot.
Daisy thought with longing of home. Even continual housework was better than being eaten alive!
"I want to go home!" she cried.
The lions were on them now, huge and golden. They swept past Daisy, and with a roar, lunged at Captain Pinash. In desperation he pushed the button one more time.
It all went quiet.
When Daisy could bear to look, an astonishing sight met her eyes. The Romans were frozen like statues, but the lions ... the lions were floating in the air!
"Quick!" roared Pinash and, grabbing Daisy by the arm, raced with the other three towards the spacecraft.
They scrambled on board, and the Captain lunged for the big pink launch key.
"Engaging engines 3-2-1- ... phut ... stalling on engine 7," screeched the onboard computer.
"What's going on?" screamed Daisy.
"Looks like feeding time for those awful growly machines." groaned Pazaz.
They looked out of the porthole. The spaceship was surrounded by Romans.
"Come out quietly, and nobody will get eaten!" barked a voice.
Ten minutes later they were flung in front of a large man clad in purple. "Give us your magic box. It interests us. Then we may let you go free!"
Daisy suddenly had an idea. She grabbed the box off Plink.
"Certainly, Sir." she simpered, curtseying. As she handed him the box, she pressed the button again, saying "Spaceship, rapidly, gentlemen!" to the confused Pinkerellians.
This time the Spacebin blasted off, though shakily. The six of them flopped to the floor.
"Oooaouch! Quo vadis?" groaned the Roman guard, sitting up and rubbing his head.
"Great! "said Pinash. "Another machine, but this one fights! We'll be rich! RICH!! All we have to do now is get back to Pinkerello."
"Bad news, sir," said Proddle. "It seems that we've exchanged the Timestopper for the fighting machine. We can't fix the ship without the Timestopper. We're doomed!"
BANG! They crashlanded.
"Are you hurt, gentlemen?" asked Daisy.
They scrambled out of the wreckage. Two ruby red eyes peered at them through the long grass.
"So..." breathed Scumball. "We meet again!"
© Cheltenham Festival of Literature 1999
last amended 4th October 1999