Mutiny of the Little Sweeties
Translated from Russian by Jane H. Buckingham
Translation edited by Shona Brandt
Illustrations by Viktoria Timofeeva
It All Begins
Two kids are already too many, but three is not enough.
In the city of Moscow in a two-bedroom apartment lived the Gavrilov family. The family consisted of a father, a mother, and seven children.
Papa’s name was Nicholas. He wrote fiction and was afraid to even step briefly away from the computer so that the small children would not type any extraneous characters into the text. Nevertheless, characters were still okay. It was much worse when the children managed to delete a piece of text accidentally, and Papa discovered it only a month later, when he started to edit the book.
Still, they pestered Papa all the time because he worked at home, and when a person works at home, it seems to everyone that he is always free. Therefore, Papa got up at four in the morning, slipped into the kitchen with the laptop, and froze when he heard children’s feet starting to thump on the floor in the next room. This meant that he had not managed to get out of the room unnoticed and now one or two whining kids would be hanging around him.
Mama’s name was Anna. She worked in the library centre as the senior skilled hand in the Skilful Hands circle. True, she frequently stayed home because she had given birth to another child. At one time, Mama even had an online store of educational games and school supplies. The store was on the glassed-in balcony. There it resided on the many shelves that Papa knocked together, hitting his own fingers with the hammer. The children really liked that they had their own store. And they liked it even more when Mama gathered the orders in the big room, laying out dozens of different interesting games on the carpet.
They then sat and said to each other, “The main thing is not to touch anything!” At this time, the older ones held the younger ones’ hands just in case. The younger ones either bit, because it is not very agreeable when someone holds you back, or were filled with a sense of responsibility and also taught each other, “The main thing is to put everything in its place!” and “The main thing is if you opened the package, then close it carefully!”
However, all the same, if Mama had gone for a short while to put away the milk or answer the phone, packages would go out to the customers with incorrectly-sorted blocks, with gnawed-through mosaics, or entirely without chips. One client received Papa’s sneaker in the box and was about as unhappy as Papa. The client and Papa then had a long phone call and arranged where to meet to return the sneaker, but never met. About six months later, Papa made off with the second sneaker from one of the kids or Mama, and everyone denounced him in one voice.
Besides children, skilful hands, and games, Mama was also the family ingester. As soon as she had some free time, she immediately ate up everything from the children’s plates and slept. “Don’t bug me!” she declared.
Peter, the oldest of the Gavrilov children, was 15. He talked mysteriously with someone on the phone for days on end, leaping onto the landing where only five floors of neighbours could hear him, did his homework late at night, and at home fenced himself off from his brothers and sisters with furniture, on which he hung “Do Not Enter!” signs. He wrote in school questionnaires that he was an only child in the family and he walked on the street away from everybody so no one would think that this whole crowd was related to him.
For all that, when the younger children sometimes went to Grandma for a week, Peter was obviously bored. He walked around the empty apartment, looked under the bed and said pensively, “How quiet, for some reason! When will they come back? Soon now?”
His sister Vicky was 13. She could not sit at the table while there was at least one crumb on it. She could not lie down in bed if the sheet had not been ironed to the point that the last wrinkle had disappeared. Still, Vicky constantly danced by herself and in principle read only those books with horses. For example, there are horses in War and Peace, so she read War and Peace. There are no horses in Woe from Wit, so Woe from Wit remained forever unread, even if the teacher hanged herself on the blinds. Never mind that Woe from Wit is seven times shorter and five times easier.
Vicky always did her homework with great care and suffered for half an hour when a line was coming up to the margin but she still had three letters or numbers. It would be stupid to carry over to a new line, but you would have to climb over the margin to finish it!
Mama and Papa never stopped wondering how Vicky managed to combine in herself the romantic, the love of horses, all these wrinkles on the sheets, the agony because of the climb over the margin, and the crumbs on the table.
Kate recently turned 11. She had the nickname of Catherine the Great. She was the only one of all the children who knew the password of the “big computer” and her brothers and sisters had to beg her to turn it on. “Why? Have you done your homework? Washed your hands? Put away your things? When did you last brush your teeth?” Kate asked sternly, after which the convicted, screaming “oh-oh-oh” with tears of impatience in the eyes, raced hurriedly to choke down kasha or brush their teeth.
Once, Papa got tired of this and removed the password from the computer altogether. But it just got worse. The children fought, each wanted to watch or do his own thing on the computer, and the little ones generally spent so much time in front of the monitor that they fell from their chairs. Therefore, it was necessary to return to the system of Kate’s despotism, and again everything was calm.
When she was free from active management, Kate always went through the apartment and put up yellow stickies with the notices: Don’t steal chairs! Put them back when done! or Toys should promptly be put away before 7 p.m.!
Alena was eight. She was constantly falling in love, and this surprised her sisters, because Kate and Vicky, though older, rarely fell in love. Alena was nicknamed the “No Girl.” If she was asked to do something, she immediately shouted, “No! Never! Nothing doing!” and would instantly do it. But if others responded, “Yes, now!” then they would have to wait three hours. Therefore, it turned out that the No Girl helped with the young ones more than everyone.
Six-year-old Alex was a great chemist. He mixed everything with anything and watched what happened. For example, he mixed shoe polish with apple juice, squirted deodorant in there, and checked if it would explode or not. Food from the fridge, especially flour and eggs, and liquid from the top shelves in the bathroom suffered the most from Alex’s experiments. One day he accidentally discovered that vinegar and soda could make a big boom if they were mixed correctly. From then on, vinegar and soda almost had to be taped to the ceiling, because he was forever stealing them. Alex modestly described his talent as follows: “Now my name is Superpower! Now my name is Megamind! Now my name is Flying Rag!”
Four-year-old Costa’s left hand did not work too well and he limped a little. Although the limping did not even prevent him from running, the hand had to be worked constantly, which was the cause of Mama’s eternal worry. Knowing that he could not rely on his left hand, Costa walked around with a wooden sword all the time and was an expert at head butting. Alex and Costa could exist peacefully for no more than five minutes a day. Even in the car, they could not sit next to each other but only with a child between them. Knowing the hardness of Costa’s head, Alex was afraid to fight him and preferred to blast his brother from a distance or fire from a slingshot. Each time it usually ended with Alex hitting Costa in the eye with a small block and hiding under the sofa from his wrath, and Costa furiously pounding on the sofa with his sword and shouting, “Ah! Kill him on the butt!”
Rita recently turned two. She was not talking very well yet, but she was always eating and was very round. A first breakfast, a second breakfast, a third breakfast, and then it was already time for lunch. If you hid food from her, Rita would steal the soap from the bathroom and nibble at its edge. She also constantly wanted those things that
Megamind is the super-intelligent alien protagonist of the 2010 3D computer-animated superhero action comedy of the same name.