For Ages
8 to 12

Invasion of the Living Ted is a part of the Living Ted collection.

The final invasion of the world's most evil teddy bears is here! A laugh-out-loud adventure series for fans of The Last Kids on Earth and My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish.

It's been three days since Grizz almost took over the world - again.

Lisa Marie and Vernon have been interrogated by the police, and Bearvis and the Duds have been taken away to be studied. But things are far from over. Grizz has found a way to infiltrate the wireless networks and he's planning an invasion. As all teddy bears come to life, Lisa Marie and Vernon must battle a King-Kong sized teddy bear with a mind for evil. It looks like they're going to need their furry friends back!

An Excerpt fromInvasion of the Living Ted

1

 

“Yes, yes, Agent Strong, we get it. It’s very important that we not tell anyone about the teddy bears, or what happened on the hillside,” said Lisa Marie, interrupting the man in the dark suit and sunglasses. 

Lisa Marie sat on one side of a narrow desk in the back of a cramped van, holding the gaze of the man sitting on the other side.

Vernon, her stepbrother, sat squashed in the narrow space beside her, making little panicky yelps whenever Lisa Marie said anything that might make the man angry. Agent Strong was a large man. Very large, in fact. So large that his head almost touched the low roof of the van, forcing him to duck a little.

“Honestly, you’re treating us like children,” said Lisa Marie. “I mean, obviously we are children, but we’re not idiots. You don’t have to keep asking us the same questions over and over. We’ve already told you everything.” 

Vernon squeaked like a frightened mouse. “Lisa Marie, what are you doing?” he whimpered, forcing a smile that showed every single one of his teeth. “Let the scary gentleman speak.” He shook his head. “I mean nice gentleman. Nice gentleman . . .” 

“We answered your questions and signed all your forms yesterday,” Lisa Marie continued, ignoring her stepbrother. “And the day before that. You don’t need to--”

She and Vernon both grabbed the edge of the desk and hung on as the van turned a corner. A small pile of paperwork started sliding across the desktop, then stopped when Agent Strong brought his fist down on it with a bang.

They all waited until the swinging movement had stopped. Then Lisa Marie picked up right where she had stopped.

“--go through it all over again. We’re not going to tell anyone about the teddies coming to life, or Ursine Kodiak’s inventions, or any of the other stuff. We understand the consequences. If we do, then you’ll throw us and our parents in prison. You’ve gone to great pains to make that extremely clear.”

And he had. When Strong and the other government agents had come to the house after the latest teddy bear incident, he’d made them watch a slideshow about the prison they’d be sent to. He’d even pointed out some of the “fun highlights,” which included a strict seven p.m. bedtime, rats in the kitchen and a bucket in the corner for pooping in.

Dad had made a joke about it, saying it sounded like the camp they’d gone to last summer. Nobody laughed. But then, Dad had joked pretty much nonstop since the government agents had brought Lisa Marie and Vernon home, following their battle with the teddies. He and Mom hadn’t believed any of it at first, but then Bearvis had started speaking and they’d had no choice but to accept the truth.

Joking was Dad’s way of dealing with it, Lisa Marie knew. She just wished his jokes were actually funny.

“Look, kids, I get it. I do,” said Agent Strong, holding up his hands in what was supposed to be a friendly gesture. “But this is important. National-security-level important. Maybe world security.”

The agent clasped his hands together and leaned closer. “If word gets out that someone tried to take over this town with an army of teddy bears, and that very same someone is still at large, there will be mass panic.”

“If you mean Ursine Kodiak,” said Lisa Marie, “I already told you--he wasn’t responsible. I mean, he was to begin with, but then Grizz took over. Ursine helped us in the end. Kind of. Well, a bit.”

“Either way,” said Agent Strong. “Mass panic.”

“Will there be, though?” asked Vernon.

Agent Strong lowered his sunglasses just a fraction and peered over the top with his steel-blue eyes. Vernon almost fell off his seat in alarm.

“I mean, sure, yes, you’re right--mass panic,” Vernon agreed. He swallowed and tried to smile again. It didn’t go well. “But, um, I mean, will people . . . ? You know? About the . . . ? I’m not sure . . . Do you think . . . ?”

Lisa Marie put a hand on Vernon’s arm. He immediately stopped talking and exhaled with relief.

“What my brother is trying to ask is: Would people believe it even if we did tell them?” she said. “Which we won’t,” she added quickly. “The only witnesses were us and a few other kids, and they just thought the bears were high-tech robots. Who’s going to believe us if we say an army of evil teddy bears came to life?”

“Which, again, we won’t,” Vernon added.

Agent Strong regarded them both for a while, and then shrugged. “People will believe anything, if you try hard enough.”

There was a screech of brakes. Agent Strong’s paperwork went shooting off the desk and landed in his lap. He sighed, picked it up, then slammed it back on the desk.

“Interview terminated,” he said. “You may go.”

Vernon emitted a nervous laugh and jumped to his feet. His head hit the roof with a thonk, but he was too excited to be leaving to care.

“What? No,” Lisa Marie argued. “You said you’d tell us where Bearvis and the other teddies are. The Duds. They helped us save this town. They’re not like the other bears--they’re on our side. What have you done with them?”

Agent Strong pushed his sunglasses back up so they were hiding his eyes.

“They are . . . helping us with our enquiries, miss,” he said. Lisa Marie hated it when he called her “miss.” Somehow he managed to make it sound like an insult. “Their whereabouts must remain a secret for now, in the interest--”

“Of national security. We get it,” said Lisa Marie. She placed both arms on the desk and leaned forward. She could see herself reflected in Strong’s dark glasses and didn’t think she’d ever seen herself look so angry. “But I swear, if you’ve hurt those bears, you’re going to have me to answer to.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You might not think that’s very scary, coming from a nine-year-old girl, but trust me, it is.”

Agent Strong said nothing for a long time, then gestured to the door behind the children. “You’re going to be late for school.”

“If we are late, it’ll be thanks to you,” said Lisa Marie crossly. Behind her, Vernon slid open the door, letting early-morning sunlight flood in.

Lisa Marie shot Agent Strong a last stern look; then she and Vernon both jumped out of the van and landed with a tha-thack on the road.

Lisa Marie turned around. Her face softened as her anger was replaced by concern. “If you see Bearvis, will you tell him I said hi?” she asked.

Agent Strong said nothing for a moment, then gestured with one of his giant hands. “Please close the door,” he said. “Oh, and I’ll be waiting for you after school. We have a few more questions to ask about this ‘Grizz’ character.”

Lisa Marie’s anger came rushing back. “Great! We can’t wait,” she snapped. Then she slammed the door as hard as she could. The van sped away in a cloud of exhaust fumes, the word “PIZZA” printed on the side in large black letters.

“Thanks for the lift!” Vernon called after the van. “See you soon . . . Uncle Italy.”

Lisa Marie frowned up at him. “What?”

“Cover story,” Vernon whispered. “If anyone asks why we got a lift to school in a pizza van, we’ll say it was our uncle.”

“Yes, I get that bit,” said Lisa Marie. “But Uncle Italy?”

Vernon blushed slightly. “It was the only Italian name I could think of.”

Lisa Marie rolled her eyes. “Genius,” she said. She shot another glance toward the van. “It’s not fair.”

“Yeah,” Vernon agreed. “Can’t believe the weekend’s over already. School is so unfair.”

“Not school! Agent Strong. It’s not fair he can hold on to Bearvis and the Duds and keep pulling us in for questioning.”

Vernon shrugged. “Better that than having to deal with Grizz and his evil teddies, though,” he said. He chewed his lip for a moment. “You think they’re gone? For good this time, I mean?”

“I hope so,” said Lisa Marie. “But best to stay alert, just in case.”

The school bell rang, calling the children to class.

“Still, at least the day’s not a total disaster,” she said, brightening. “We’ve got a math test this afternoon! Don’t you just love Mondays?”

Vernon groaned. “Yay, Mondays!” he said miserably. Then he trudged through the school gates after his stepsister, dragging his feet.

 

2

 

Although Lisa Marie and Vernon’s weekend had been pretty bad, it was nothing compared to Ursine Kodiak’s.

He hadn’t washed. He hadn’t slept. He hadn’t eaten. Well, unless you counted the cashew he’d found in his straggly beard in the early hours of Sunday morning, which he’d gobbled down before the monster living inside his head could stop him.

His back ached, his feet hurt and his eyes were dry and itchy. His fingers were sore from twiddling and fiddling with wires, tapping keys, twisting screws, and a million and one other things he’d had to do to get the machine up and running.

But now, at last, it was almost done.

“What’s taking so long?” demanded the voice inside Ursine’s head. He knew it was coming from inside his head, and yet he heard the words as if they had been growled in his ear.

The voice belonged to a teddy bear. At least, that’s what it had started out as. Grizz had been a Halloween bear built by Vernon, who had come to life and led an army of ghost bears, vampire bears, witch bears and werewolf bears in an attempt to take over the town.

Lisa Marie and Vernon had put a stop to that, but unbeknown to them, Ursine Kodiak had been so fascinated by Grizz that he’d created an artificial intelligence--a computer brain--that was an exact replica of the original Grizz.

Unfortunately for Ursine, he had underestimated quite how wicked and cunning Grizz was. The AI bear had inserted a control chip into Ursine’s head and installed himself on it. Now not only could he boss Ursine around, he could control him too.

Like at this very moment, for example, when Grizz thought Ursine wasn’t working quite hard enough.

THWACK!

Ursine slapped himself across the face, tugged on an ear, then flicked his nose.

“Ow! Stop that!” he protested.

His foot shot up, kicking him on the bottom.

“Stop it!”

“Then hurry up!” Grizz growled. “What’s taking you so long?”

Ursine sighed and gestured around. When the police and the army had turned up at his headquarters, he’d been forced to flee to one of his old workshops in London. It had been built in an abandoned Underground station. It was dark and damp and now thick with dust. All the equipment rattled whenever trains passed along the neighbouring tracks. Which was often.

Junk and abandoned inventions lay scattered around the place, piled up in corners, or stacked against walls. Taking over the world had been an ambition of Ursine’s for as long as he could remember, and before he’d settled on his “evil teddy bear” theme, he’d built freeze rays, weather-control devices, hypnosis watches, and even a shrinking ray. They had all worked fine, but none of his schemes had felt quite right until the bear army.

And look where that had gotten him.

“I’m working as hard as I can,” he explained. “But the equipment here is very basic. I don’t have an omemoscope, half the crimplets are rusted, and one of the handles has come off the borewonger.”

“I have no idea what you’re even saying to me right now,” Grizz said, then he made Ursine slap himself in the face again. “Stop making up words and speak English.”

Ursine stamped his foot. It was a small foot, which was surprising given that the rest of him was so big and bulky. “Will you please stop that?” he asked. “What I’m trying to say is that I think I’ve done rather well, considering the limitations. I’ve almost finished the machine.”

He could feel Grizz’s excitement vibrating the chip inside his head.

“And it’ll do what I want?”

“It will,” Ursine confirmed.

“Exactly what I want?”

“Yes! It’ll do exactly what you told me to make it do,” Ursine said. He puffed up his chest, just a little. “I’m rather proud of it, actually. It’s an incredibly clever blend of advanced science and dark magic. I don’t want to boast--”

“So don’t!” Grizz said.

Ursine tugged on his beard and bit his tongue.

“Ow!” he yelped. “Thtop that!”

“What do you still have to do?” Grizz demanded.

Ursine opened his mouth to reply, then braced himself against one of the cracked-tile walls as a train thundered past in an adjacent tunnel. Dust cascaded from the ceiling. Rats squeaked in the shadows. The other handle fell off the borewonger.

Once everything had settled down, Ursine continued.

“I need to amalgamate the central console with the fiber-optic transmission unit,” he said.

Thwack.

“English!”

Ursine let out a sob, then pointed to two pieces of equipment that sat side by side on a cluttered workbench. “I need to stick that bit to that bit,” he said.

“Better,” growled Grizz. “And remember, I can see right into your brain from here, so I’ll know if you try any funny stuff. Mess up my plans, and I’ll mess up your head. Got it?”

“Got it,” said Ursine.

“Good. Then hop to it.”

Ursine didn’t so much hop as shuffle across to the workbench. He yawned, his mouth appearing like a wide hole in the middle of his bushy beard.

“Right. Yes. I will,” he said, his voice soft and slurred. “I wonder if I might . . . just . . . have a . . .”

His head fell forward and thunked on to the workbench. A moment later, he began to snore.

“Wake up!” Grizz instructed. “Wake up, before . . .”

Inside Ursine’s head, Grizz felt the sleepy darkness approaching. “Stupid meatbag,” he spat, and then the darkness closed around him, the control chip entered Rest Mode, and he too fell fast asleep.