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Moonlight LifterCamo

One wintery night, a figure disarms the gallery alarms with ease and breezes through the halls ready for her mischief to begin.

This is a keyword Storywalk created for the Museum of Somerset Taunton - Making Somerset gallery. The script was designed to develop creative writing through the gallery, using an inventive narrative to encourage investigation into the artefacts, space, display and design of the building as a public space.

The narrative is designed for Key Stage 2 and 3 – focusing predominantly on pupils in years 6 / 7 / 8

Instructions

Make your way to the Making Somerset Gallery and then stand beneath the cauldrons. Your key word is the first word written on the large information panel.
 
Chapter one

The Moonlight Lifter

One slow afternoon when the gallery had emptied of the hustle of school children and young families, one old lady slowly sidled into the room. Her hands strained at three bulging shopping bags as she gazed around the gallery, the attendant glanced up from his paper for a moment to see her and then instantly forgot she was ever there. It was not that she was unusual, far from it, everything about her was normal, her body shape, coat, stance all so ordinary as to be of no interest to anyone.

This was exactly as The Collector had planned, for beneath that bland coat and wired glasses were beady eyes counting camera ports, window ledges, distances from cabinets to doorways, openings, latches and scuffed door patches. She had already spotted three laser triggers, two vault doors (portcullis style to block off any escape routes and trap an intruder) as well as nine pressure pads in the carpet and a dozen other minor locks and clasps. All of this detail was noted with barely a rustle of paper from the attendant, and she walked on down the gallery invisible, noting, watching, preparing.
Chapter two

Now if

Now if you were counting you would know that she stopped exactly six times in that room and each time she placed her heavy shopping bags on the carpet in front of a cabinet or plinth and took stock of the contents. In those few moments every detail was absorbed, from the size and materials of the artefacts, to the position of locks and the worn hinges on the cabinet doors. She saw the voids behind and beneath the plinths, the spaces above and below betraying cavities where tools could be stored for later use. All of this took just moments and she drank it all in.

The attendant dropped his newspaper on his chair with the headline – Curious Counterfeiter Collector Strikes Again – more thefts at prestigious museums across Europe. He then walked down the gallery leaving the old lady alone beneath the cauldrons, this was her moment and when he was out of sight she slipped her hand into one of her bags, grabbed what looked like a potato and threw it up into one of the cauldrons overhead. Deftly she did this again and again until within a minute her bag was quite empty and nearly every cauldron had a seed, each cauldron had something hiding inside.
Chapter three

Fast Forward

Now let's fast forward to the evening, where the moon is bright across the roofs of the town and a slight figure is slipping between shadows if made from nothing more than cloth and air.

The alarms of the gallery had been set hours before and the museum was as secure as a vault, but The Collector deactivated these in a minute, breezing through the space uninhibited making her way directly to the Making Somerset gallery.

She stopped beneath the cauldrons with a sly grin playing across her face, eager to get on with the mischievous task. Before dawn there would be many subtle changes to this museum and its contents, changes that perhaps only the discerning eye would spot.
Chapter four

The Servants are Summoned

‘Now' she said in a tight squeaky voice and tapped a cauldron high up in the ceiling with her extendable walking stick followed by ‘wakey wakey little ones'

Slowly, one at a time little heads emerged from the pots overhead, these were the homunculi. They looked like ugly dolls, perhaps no larger than a two-year-old child but as thin as sticks and with weird dead eyes like cold turnip mash. Their clothes and faces glistened a fungus shade of grey and they gathered around their creator, diligent servants ready and eager, awaiting her command.
F - Go to the cabinet with an iron lion sitting atop an iron helmet. The keyword required is written on the red info panel and is the name of the family for which the helmet was used.
 
Chapter five

The Lion Helmet

The cabinet with the helmets inside sits quiet in the darkness of the gallery but this doesn't last long as The Collector wants the beautiful artefact and will stop at nothing to have it in her collection.

She taps on the glass and points at the cat like figure on top of the helmet, the homunculi are all purring and making cat like noises themselves with their plastic lips. She instructs them with a circular movement suggesting they go around the side of the unit.

There they begin to tuck in tiny needles in the gaps around the hinges, one perhaps every centimetre or so until perhaps two hundred have been inserted. The next thing you see is the door of the cabinet lying on the floor and the creatures removing the cat helmet and taking it in turns to put it on.

The huge helmet looks ridiculous on the tiny people, ‘stop that' she shouts, and the fun ends immediately and the homunculi's shoulders all sink at being chastised. All that is except the one currently wearing the helmet, as he doesn't hear her and continues to dance in a crazy manner with it on. Incensed with this ineptitude she gives the iron lid a great clout with her walking stick and inside the homunculus' head rattles like a clapper in a bell. He stumbles across the gallery and nearly knocks into another cabinet but she plucks the helmet from him before any damage is done.

Then from the far end of the gallery one of the servants drags a cloth sack almost as large as he is with a fake helmet inside. The replacement helmet is hoisted into position and a calling card beneath which reads.

'With compliments of The Collector''

She smiles slyly as her servants replace the back of the cabinet before they move on.
A - Go find the Stone heart box and type the last word from the red information plaque.
 
Chapter six

The Stone Heart Box

The Collector stood before the cabinet looking into the glass, her feet were wide apart so she wasn't stood on a pressure pad and she had spotted a micro switch inside the cabinet which would trigger the moment the door opened. But she wasn't going to open the door, instead one of her homunculi helpers handed her what appeared to be a picture frame which she placed in front of the glass, it had suckers on the corners but no picture. Positioning this at just the right height opposite the artefact, she reached right through as if the glass from the cabinet had disappeared completely.

Gently her hand clasped the artefact, touching it for the first time was obviously a great thrill, soon this would be in her personal collection. Then gauging its weight tentatively, she carefully lifted it out through the picture frame portal and slipped it into a beautiful velvet pouch which was whisked away quietly by one of her helpers.

‘Ay' she squawked loudly, her voice directed at two of her servants mucking about on top of a cabinet close by and tinkering with fidget spinners.

She said politely, ‘The replica if you please.'

The two jumped down immediately with heads bowed, and brought the replica over. The stone heart box was identical to the original, the same material, colour, weight, even right down to the centuries old dust. For a fake it was very convincing.

Threading the fake heart box through the portal she then placed it on the display just as the original had been, slipped a business card beneath just out of sight and retreated.

The business card said, perfectly hand scribed with Indian ink,

'With compliments of The Collector'

Then with a sly grin she unclipped the portal device, examined the case for any marks, none, it was exactly as she found it, perfect.

She then turned, signalled to her servants and readied herself for the next task.
B - Find the plate with the illustration of a Queen and a King ( towards the end of the gallery) The keyword are the three letters written on the plate.
 
Chapter seven

A Plate Fit for a King

The Collector didn't spend long looking at the cabinet before commanding her servants to the artefact she required. It was a white plate with blue glaze depicting a King and Queen. She gazed at it in wonder for a moment, marvelling at its beauty, eager to have it in her personal collection.

The homunculi were eagerly watching one of their company flipping a bottle on the cabinet top, it had landed eight times in a row and he was just about to attempt the ninth when the squawky command came from below. But the bottle had already been launched, it span in the air majestically, then thudded and flopped clumsily on to its side. The gathered servants ‘oohed' together in chorus, a mutual acknowledgement of the unfortunate miss. But then the bottle rolled slowly off the cabinet top, it rotated twice in the air before landing perfectly on its base on the carpet, at which point the ‘oohs' became a cheer which was quickly stifled by The Collectors words.

‘Open the panel.' She was totally frustrated about their lack of focus and completely unimpressed about the bottle flip. The servants began squirrelling around on top of the cabinet unscrewing the panel, when loose they flipped it back and began to lower one of their comrades down inside, secured with nothing more than a ribbon stolen from a funeral parlour.

Descending head first, he guided himself slowly with feet against the cabinet edges like a monkey or a fish in a tank. The plate was in an awkward position and it took a moment to adjust his posture to be level with it. Then in one fluid movement he slid the plate from its stand and tucked it in his pack, zipping it safely away. The fake plate then slid out from another pocket and he tucked that on the stand and made ready for his retreat.

The Collector then impatiently tapped on the glass with her silvery finger tips. The homunculus looked up, she was gesticulating to the calling card which was protruding from his pocket. He nodded gormlessly and then tucked the card under the plate bracket just out of sight. The business card said, perfectly hand scribed with Indian ink,

'With compliments of The Collector'

The homunculus then made a last adjustment to the display before being hauled out, job complete. The cabinet top was then sealed once again as if it had never been open.
C - Somewhere in this gallery is a large stone font. They keyword you need is the last on the red info panel
 
Chapter eight

The Stone Font

The Collector descended from the ceiling on a thin wire chord, as graceful as a spider. What could there possibly be here that she could swap, surely the stone font was too heavy to steal.

Reaching down she lifted the font lid and dropped in a small metal canister which hissed with a sour oily sound as smoke began to billow out. Hanging from her belt one of her servants clasped the scabbard of some sword like device and offered it to her. Gently she withdrew it from its case and it unfurled like a racket with both handle and loop, it didn't look anything like a sword, more like a bubble wand!

Still without touching the ground she began to wave the wand back and forth, back and forth, until a bubble started to form. Then more rigorously she made the bubble bigger and bigger, until finally it was large enough for her needs. With a sharp whip of her wrist, she threaded the massive bubble across the smoking font swallowing it completely up. But what was even more incredible, was that the font now enclosed inside the bubble began to float upwards as if lighter than air!

Still dangling from her cable she jabbed at the misty bubble before it floated too high. It shuddered then shrank in size a little, another jab and it shuddered again, this time reducing in size to a beach ball. Again she jabbed and again it shuddered and shrank, smaller than a melon, smaller than an apple, until finally it was about the size of an egg. At this, one of the homunculi servants leapt at it, grabbed it, popped it in an egg box and retreated.

On the empty plinth, another servant descended down a wire and placed a tiny stone font where the original had been but this was no bigger than a snail shell. The Collector adjusted it slightly before pouring a hot pink liquid over it from a silver flask, which made it grow to the size of the original.

At last when she was satisfied the font had been replaced, she tucked a card inside the wooden cavity, it said, perfectly hand scribed with Indian ink,

'With compliments of The Collector'

She then retreated back up her wire chord spider style, her servant dangling like a rag doll from her belt.
D - Find the painting of John Locke with a crooked nose. The keyword required is written in the red plaque and the last name on the plaque
 
Chapter nine

The Bishops Nose

The Collector removed her tiny wire framed glasses and held up a mirror to her face, she angled it to see her profile and then compared it to the painting on the wall. Her eyes flit between the two, focusing on her nose and the Bishops as her homunculi servants tripped each other up, flicked ears and generally misbehaved about the gallery.

At last she was satisfied and commanded her servants to get to work. Firstly, they hitched a large wire rope to a hook in the ceiling and then inflated what looked like a large rubber glove and tied it to the free end. The Collectors light touch on the glove sent a shudder through the material which then began to sag with new weight. Little by little the inflated glove grew heavier and heavier until finally it was as solid and as dense as an iron ball.

The workers then jumped on the new weight and began to swing it to and fro, first away from the painting then towards it again. Faster they swung in and out, plunging towards the painting then away again but gaining momentum each time.

Then finally with one huge push the servants lunge from the wrecking ball and it plunges through the picture and into the wall behind. Ball, glass, canvas and even parts of the ceiling explode with the impact and dust fills the room. The homunculi jumped about in glee at the mess they'd just made.

The canvas was wrecked, shards of glass littered the floor and the face of the Bishop was in tatters, a long gash started on his brow and then ran jagged across the face like a scar. Her servants nodded in excitement pleased with themselves, but there was no time for delay. The Collector leant in and ripped out the tattered nose section of the painting, tucking it in her pocket and slipping a calling card into the empty space before her servants began to repair the wreckage.

The business card said, perfectly hand scribed with Indian ink

'With compliments of The Collector'

Then the homunculi servants went about repairing the painting, glass and wall, their tiny hands picking up every smashed shard of wood and glass to slot back into the picture frame. When complete nobody would know the carnage The Collector and her homunculi servants had unleashed right here in the museum.
E - There is a big stone slab hoisted on the wall with a surface like smoothed butter. The keywords required is the second on the red information panel.
 
Chapter ten

Bread and Butter

The little creatures are crawling all over the marble surface, tapping, knocking and sniffing about like cats, scratching at the crevices as if there was food inside which could be licked out with their tiny tongues. Then suddenly a high pitched scream was emitted by one of the creatures, the others skittered over quickly to see his hand was trapped up to the wrist inside the stone. He struggled frantically but to no avail as something suddenly yanked him inside and he was gone!

All the other creatures began to tremble looking at the crevice and the place where their colleague had been. They then turn to The Collector, terrified, their whole body postures trembling, knowing that they might be next.

‘Get back to it' The Collector shouted with a harsh voice and all the homunculi jump as if they'd been whipped with a belt.

They continue to search until finally a hairline crack is found and the homunculi work it into a hole. Bit by bit they drag the hole wider and wider, pulling it open, tearing and straining at the crease against its nature.

Torn and stretched like a terrible gash, further and further the servants strain not letting go for a second for fear of being trapped inside. Then their work approaches the edges of the slab and a curious thing happens, with their tiny grey fingers they fold the hole back upon itself and with a snap like a rubber glove the hole is turned inside out and pings off the wall!

The Collector admires the big space where the stone once stood and pops the little rubber plug into her pocket. But there is no time for delay as a second team of servants arrive with hods filled with stale bread rolls and buckets of greasy butter, it would appear they are going to build a new slab out buttered rolls!

They layer the rolls like bricks then smoothed them over with butter, The Collectors gentle finishing touches make the slab look and feel just like the original, then finally she tucks a calling card behind the newly formed stone which reads.

'With compliments of The Collector'
Go find the Stone heart box and type the last word from the red information plaque.
 
Chapter eleven

Sleep Tight

One at a time, each of the homunculi climb back up into their cauldron, The Collector then bids each one ‘good night' before leaving herself in the same manner through which she arrived, re-arming the alarms and shifting through the shadows as if made from nothing more than cloth and air.
Chapter twelve

Morning

First light and the gallery alarms were deactivated in the usual manner, all the zones were quiet, none of the lights flashed with warnings of triggers, everything was completely normal. School children arrived and peered through the glass doors at the priceless artefacts secured within and the gallery attendants smiled as if nothing was wrong. Well nothing was wrong, everything appeared as normal, except of course that many of the artefacts were now missing, or not technically missing exactly, more switched with very convincing replicas.

Amongst that mornings visitors were a family of a father and two children, they wandered down the gallery, reading the labels, unravelling the history and enjoying the fantastic displays. Then the daughter pointed up inside the cabinet to something she could see from her vantage point low down.

'Dad' said the little girl, 'what does that say?'

She could see one of The Collectors calling cards, poking out from an exhibit.

‘I'm not sure princess.' The father said ‘perhaps the attendant can help.' As just to their side a gallery assistant was tucking yesterdays crumpled newspaper under his arm.

‘Of course, what would you like to know?'

‘Up there' said the little girl, ‘can you see.'

The assistant knelt down to gaze up at the artefact with a puzzled expression, then he saw the ticket. From that low angle he could clearly read the words on a plain calling card which read,

With compliments of The Collector, perfectly hand written with Indian ink.

'Oh no' said the attendant 'Oh no' he said again, 'I don't think that is a good sign at all!'

Perhaps his observation was a catalyst to the events which followed as suddenly one of the cauldrons high up in the ceiling tipped precariously, and out from inside cascaded a grey dollop of gloop like cold chicken soup. As it hit the floor and splattered about other cauldrons tipped in a similar manner, and their contents spilled out as well, splattering across the gallery floor and over anyone standing beneath!

It was mayhem in the gallery to say the least and wasn't long before the hall was cordoned off as a crime scene. The grey gloop was being mopped away just as the first of the reporters arrived from the press to get the scoop on the story.
Chapter thirteen

The Collectors Lair

But deep underground, across a lake of black waters The Collector stepped into her own museum archives, oil lamps illuminated mile upon mile of cavernous space, shelves and cabinets bulged with artefacts. Paintings from celebrated masters were stacked higgeldy-piggeldy here and there, musical instruments of all shapes and sizes lay on top of each other like discarded sports equipment. All these incredibly valuable items gathering dust and mould in the dark cave, it was criminal.

But in a far far corner of the cavern, where The Collector had not trod in decades a small door opened and in stole a doll like figure, perhaps no larger than a two-year-old child and as thin as sticks.

He cast quietly about the chamber unseen, just as his new master had instructed to make preparations for the un-thieving to begin.
Chapter fourteen

Questions

Here are some questions about the story, read and discuss whilst some of the other groups finish and catch up.


Q - Why was she stealing the artefacts and what would she be doing with the real items?

Q – What artefact would you steal if you were The Collector, and what contraptions would you employ?

Q – Who has just stolen into her cavern and what are they about to do?

Q - The Homunculi characters are a bit odd, how would you add more character to make them funny / creepy?

Q – Perhaps a twist in the tale is required, maybe all the artefacts in the museum were already fakes perhaps she is actually removing those and replacing them with originals? How would this change the tale, and how would you write it in to the narrative.
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