“What?” Jack shouted in disbelief.
from the trees sometimes,” Carla said. “Just like pine cones.”
bullets are exactly like pine cones,” retorted Jack, looking up into the forest
nervously.“Why are we here exactly?”
“I told you,” said Carla. “It’s the way to Chimney Town.” Then, seeing the mixture
of anger and fear on Jack’s face, added, “Don’t worry, they whistle loudly as
they come down. We’ll have loads of warning.”
sighed. “I’ve only ever heard of one person getting hit and that was my great,
great uncle Rufus. He was completely deaf!”
that she marched off.
up again at the perfectly still, perfectly rounded trees. Come to think of it
they did look a bit like…
shouted Carla, making Jack jump. He quickly ran to catch up with her, in no
mood to be left alone.
side by side, neither one talking, the only sound the occasional snap of a twig
underfoot, which echoed all around. The forest was eerily quiet: no wind in the
trees, no birds.
or so minutes Jack could make out a soft padding noise somewhere nearby and see
a flash of ginger or a stripey tail. But that was it.
ever walk with you?” he asked Carla, after about the fifth time.
Freddie was keeping away because of him, Jack thought.
“He might be
catching mice,” said Carla. “The forest’s full of them. Last time he caught
loads and even offered to cook one for me so I could try…”
they heard it.
whistle of something heavy falling fast from above. The children both looked
up, instinctively moving closer together. It got louder and louder until it was
the kind of whistling you get when your ears are ringing after listening to a
lot of loud music.
it?” said Jack, a tremble coming out in his voice.
nodded Carla, but as she said it another higher whistle started behind them. Then
another and another.
started to beat really fast, and he looked at Carla, his terror mirrored in her
face. Suddenly he felt stupid for still standing there he grabbed her hand and
quickly through the trees, Carla leading the way, the noise all around them
deafening. And then the thudding began as the bullets hit the floor, one after
another after another.
the urge to close his eyes, instead focusing on not tripping over the huge
roots sticking out of the ground, gripping Carla’s hand tight as they weaved
through the trees.
There was a
terrible thud as a big black raven fell onto the forest floor in front of them,
its shiny black eyes frozen and mouth wide open.
for a second, unable to take his eyes off the dead bird, but then Carla yanked
his arm, pulling him forwards. He was running faster than he ever thought he
could, and just when he thought he’d have to stop he saw a glimpse of blue sky
and sunlight peeking through the thick tree trunks.
whistles and thuds rang out around them they ran with a last surge of energy,
and then they were out onto the soft grass, the sounds muted as if someone had
closed a heavy door on the forest.
collapsed, Jack gasping for breath as he lay on the floor, so grateful to be
safe at last.