Todd Murphy scratched his head. A large lump of skin, about the size of a crisp, fell away. Todd picked it up and examined it. On one side he could see his scalp and the hairs burrowing into the white skin. The reverse was a bit nastier: it was grey and patterned with pink threads.
He bent his head and looked into the mirror. He saw the polished cream shell. It was happening as he had been warned. Todd Murphy was half boy, half egg.
Doctors had warned him. The comet was to blame. It had passed over Earth when Todd was four. Mary Livingstone, who lived in the flat above had already turned into the Grand Old Duke of York. Mary’s twin brother Jim was changing into a pumpkin.
It was pretty obvious: Todd was turning into Humpty Dumpty.
As the weeks passed Todd began wearing a red blazer with gold buttons and his brother’s old black cycling shorts. Todd liked to sit outside the supermarket, on the car park wall.
His mother, nor his brother seemed to notice. Teachers never said anything. Only children who had the same trouble seemed to notice. One Saturday, just before Todd went home to watch the football results, he saw Little Red Riding Hood come out of the Supermarket with a basket of fruit. She waved and said “Hello Humpty,” very politely.
It didn’t get Todd upset. Not at all. He felt liked he belonged to a special club. He was fourteen but turning into Humpty Dumpty was fun. He didn’t have to try and impress others, there wasn’t any point. He looked ridiculous.
But it was when he realised that the others were so much nicer to him did he begin to suspect. The bad news was spelt out by Rumplestiltskin.
“You come to a sticky end, don’t you?”
He hadn’t realised it but of course, it was true. It was years since he had heard the nursery rhyme. The story of Humpty ends in disaster. There was no escape.
Harry Green lived above the betting shop. Harry had the same problem. He was Chicken Licken.
“One day,” Harry told Todd, “the fox is going to come and get me. There’s no way out.”
They became friends. Over the summer they would sit on the car park wall. Harry waiting for the fox and Todd waiting to fall.
On a particularly hot afternoon, just before Todd was about to go home, he asked Harry if he would give him a push.
“I want to get on with it,” he said. “All this waiting round is making me irritable.”
Harry didn’t want to do it. And anyway he couldn’t. His little yellow wings weren’t strong enough. Instead Harry told Todd to jump, head first.
Todd stood up, balancing on the wall like a tightrope walker.
“Go on,” yelled Harry, “jump!”
Todd somersaulted into the air and plummeted had first onto the pavement. No sooner had he done so than Harry heard the clatter of hooves across the street.. It was All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men.
They looked at the huge puddle of yolk and jelly.
“I don’t believe this,” said one. “This isn’t supposed to happen!”
Harry looked down. Sure enough the heat in the pavement was so great that the egg was starting to fry. It smelt quite good.
A cheerful voice behind Harry said “dinner!” He thought so too and looked around to see who it was. It was the Fox and he was licking his lips.