from the
Johnny Maxwell
series of children’s fantasy novels by
Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

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Johnny and the Bomb


Children’s Fantasy

Time Travel

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Johnny and the Bomb

Copyright © 1996 by Terry and Lyn Pratchett

After the Bombs
You could show Bigmac some sort of horrible equation and he’d say “x=2.75” and he’d be right. But he never knew why. “It’s just what it is,” he’d say. And that was no good. Knowing the answers wasn’t what Maths was about. Maths was about showing how you worked them out, even if you got them wrong.



. . . if you go mad, do you know you’ve gone mad? If you don’t, how do you know you’re not mad?



“You got kicked out of the Paintball Club, didn’t you?”

“Only ’cos they were jealous that they hadn’t thought of a paintball hand grenade before I showed them how.”

“It was a tin of paint, Bigmac. A two-litre tin.”

“Well, yeah, but in contex’ it was a hand grenade.”

“They said you might at least have loosened the lid a bit.”



Anyway,” said Yo-less, “if you changed things, maybe you’d end up not going back in time, and there you would be, back in time, I mean, except you never went in the first place, so you wouldn’t be able to come back on account of not having gone. Or, even if you could get back, you’d get back to another time, like a sort of parallel dimension, because if the thing you changed hadn’t happened then you wouldn’t’ve gone, so you could only come back to somewhere you never went. And there you’d be—stuck.”


Time Travel

“I saw this film, Curse of the Revenge of the Werewolf,” said Bigmac, “and someone heard a snarl like that and went into a dark alley, and next thing, he was lying there with all his special effects spilling out on the pavement.”

“Huh,” quavered Wobbler. “There’s no such things as werewolves.”

“You go and tell it, then.”



Mrs. Tachyon

“One of them was black.”

Johnny nodded dismally at the phone. Yo-less had explained about this sort of thing. He’d said that if one of his ancestors had joined Attila the Hun’s huge horde of millions of barbarians and helped them raid Ancient Rome, people would’ve definitely remembered that one of them was black.



The Truth Is Out of Here

“Didn’t you see that programme about the flying saucer that crashed and these mysterious men turned up and hushed it all up?” said Kasandra.


“Well, did you even hear about the flying saucer crashing?”



“All right, but in that case how come there was a TV programme about it, then?”


“I can’t waste time answering silly questions,” said Kasandra.



“You don’t have to be dumb to be weird,” he said. “If you’re brainy you can be even weirder. It’s all that intelligence looking for something to do.”



The Olden Days

Bigmac wasn’t a criminal, he was just around when crimes happened This was because of stupidity. That is, other people’s stupidity. Mainly other people’s stupidity in designing cars that could go from 0–120mph in ten seconds and then selling them to even more stupid people who were only interested in dull things like fuel consumption and what colour the seats were. What was the point in that? That wasn’t what a car was for.

The keys were still in the ignition.

As far as Bigmac was concerned, he was practically doing people a favour by really seeing what their cars could do, and no way was that stealing, because he always put the cars back if he could and they were often nearly the same shape. You’d think people’d be proud to know their car could do 130mph along the Blackbury by-pass instead of complaining all the time.





Heavy Mental
It was amazing what you could get away with. Ten-legged aliens would be immediately accepted in Blackbury if they were bright enough to ask the way to the Post Office and complain about the weather. People had a way of just not seeing anything that common sense said they shouldn’t see.
Up Another Leg

“He was probably in a state of heightened awareness,” said Yo-less. “I’ve read about them.”

“What . . . drugs?” said Kirsty suspiciously.

“Me? I don’t even like coffee!” said Johnny. The world had always seemed so strange in any case that he’d never dared try anything that’d make it even weirder.



Some Other Now . . .

She probably is mad, he thought. Or eccentric, anyway. I mean, if she went to a specialist and he showed her all those cards and ink blots she’d just nick them or something.

Yes. Eccentric. But she wouldn’t do things like dropping bombs on Paradise Street. You have to be sane to think of things like that. She’s totally round the bend. But perhaps she gets a better view from there.

It was quite a cheerful thought, in the circumstances.

text checked (see note) Jan 2008

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