Sunday, 7 October 2012

Through the Forest

“What?” Jack shouted in disbelief.
“They fall from the trees sometimes,” Carla said. “Just like pine cones.”
“Yeah, 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.”

“Lucky us,” said Jack.
Carla sighed. “I’ve only ever heard of one person getting hit and that was my great, great uncle Rufus. He was completely deaf!”
And with that she marched off.
Jack looked up again at the perfectly still, perfectly rounded trees. Come to think of it they did look a bit like…
“Come on!” shouted Carla, making Jack jump. He quickly ran to catch up with her, in no mood to be left alone.
They walked 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.
Every five 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.
“Doesn’t he ever walk with you?” he asked Carla, after about the fifth time.
Carla shrugged. “Usually.”
Maybe 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…”
And then they heard it. 
The unmistakable 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.
“Where is it?” said Jack, a tremble coming out in his voice.
“Over there,” nodded Carla, but as she said it another higher whistle started behind them. Then another and another.
Jacks heart 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 they ran.
They dodged 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.
Jack fought 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.
Jack slowed 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.
As the 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.
They both collapsed, Jack gasping for breath as he lay on the floor, so grateful to be safe at last.    

No comments: