left Sigworth's Dust

Sunday, 31 August 2008

A Huge Thank You!

I am taking a break from this project. Although you are only a few readers I will continue with the book and get it to you at some point in the near future! Feel free to contact me on jill@barklive.com and if you would like I will email you chapters on a regular basis!
Jill x


Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Quibley walked down the dimly-lit corridor alongside Umpwiffle. Umpwiffle was carrying a small black bag in one of his hands.
‘Do ya want me to come with ya, this time?’ said Quibley, who was getting more and more worried about his friend’s state of mind.
‘Don’t botha.’
‘I said I woz sorry for leaving ya stood on ya’s own in the workshop,’ he said sulkily as they reached the end of the corridor to encounter daylight.
‘Pity ya didn’t think that at the time, isn’it!’
He gave Quibley a dirty look before leaving him stood at the entrance to Zlexis. Quibley stayed there for some time thinking how easily he had just lost a good friend.

George wondered if she was going mad as things were going from bad to plain ridiculous. She sat down.
‘Hello,’ said George calmly, so as not to scare the tiny man whom she thought hadn’t seen her.
On the contrary, William had infact noticed her on her arrival in his home town but was playing it cool.
‘Excuse me,’ said George slowly, thinking the creature could not understand her.
Innit’s, the species to which, once upon a time, William belonged, find it hard to get a minutes peace. His beautiful voice faded and before George could say any more, he had disappeared. George hadn’t seen him go anywhere, it was like he had just melted back into the tree. She reached her hand forwards and gently felt the outside of the stump. It was completely solid. All she felt against her hand was the weathered, crumbling bark and the twisting stems which caressed it.
‘Wait...come back!’ she pleaded. ‘Ooh!’ she moaned in a huff.
She slumped against the tree stump. As she lent against it, she swore that she felt it throb as if it had somehow managed to acquire a heartbeat.
‘Great!’ she muttered. ‘Now I think the trees are alive!’
She reasoned that it must be connected to a lack of food and drink on her behalf. She crawled on her hands and knees and peered around the other side of the stump, which was quite wide in diameter. Her curiosity was, once again, getting the better of her.
‘Hello?’ she whispered. ‘Please come back. I’m not going to hurt you. I only want to ask you a few questions...like what you are for a start...’
She listened...nothing. Well it was worth a try. She leaned against the tree again and looked around. If she was to find her way out of here, she needed to re-fuel. Perhaps there would be a River or Lake around here and maybe she could collect some berries...no..she had always been warned against that. Oh well, water would do for now. It was just a case of finding it.
It was a shame the miniature man had disappeared, he might have been able to point her in the right direction. Never mind, she concluded, standing up.
‘I’m cold in the summer, warm in the winter but whatever the weather, I’m always.....forgetful?’ came a jesting voice.
‘Excuse me?’ said George, her eyes frantically searching for its owner.
‘Why, what have you done!’ it chuckled.
George finally located the little fellow. He was perched on a branch suspended from a large Birch tree not far from her which, incidentally, had not been there a few minutes ago.
‘Who are you?’ asked George, fascinated with this bizarre place.
The leaves on the branch rustled as the Innit practised his type-rope walking skills, holding his arms, complete with the strands of dangling greenery, out to his sides for balance.
‘Now, let me see,’ he pondered. ‘Yesterday I was cheerful, tomorrow I’ll be frightful...so today I must be...William!’
‘William?’ repeated George, slightly bemused, ‘that’s a strange name for an….’
‘Not at all,’ William replied oddly. ‘I’ll have you know that William is a very traditional name amongst the Innit’s.’
‘Sorry,’ said George. ‘I didn’t mean to offend you. My name’s George. Many think that’s a strange name where I come from.’
‘Not at all, I think it’s a good sturdy name. Well, George, what can I possibly do for you?’ William gracefully dismounted the branch, landed deftly on the spongy ground and bowed.


Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Forest

‘Can you hear me?’
‘I w-wouldn’t have replied if I c-c-couldn’t h-hear you, would I?’
‘Where are you?’
‘I’m n-not q-quite sure. W-where are you?’
‘I don’t know...but it doesn’t smell too good.’
‘H-hang on! S-s-something’s h-happening!...’
‘Sigworth?...Sigworth?...What happen.....Aarrghhh!!’

George was astounded when, from within the heavy cover of the forest, she glanced back to see that she had been kept prisoner inside what she could only describe as a giant burrow. She could make out plenty more of them scattered across the ground. It was dark, surely past midnight yet there was an eerie greenish glow reflecting off the overhanging trees. The forest was so dense that only here and there was she able to glimpse the stars through the threatening canopy overhead.
George turned 360 degrees. It all looked the same, each tree looked just as menacing as the next and each way deeply uninviting. Home was a million miles from here but even so, she would at least like to go in the right direction. The decision, however, was made for her when a young Mumtwip couple, out on a romantic midnight stroll, spotted her.
George hazarded a guess that that must be the alarm signal.
Angry heads began to pop up from burrows all over the place. There were so many more than George had first anticipated. George panicked, put her legs in charge and headed in the only direction that did not contain Mumtwips. That happened to be East. It stood in her favour. If she had gone West, she would not have lived to regret it.

She was running so hard that even the blisters on her feet had formed blisters. Yet she had to keep going. Close behind she could hear the patter of thousands of pairs of paw-like feet. It was similar to being chased by a multitude of highly intelligent grizzly bears and what was more, they were gaining on her.

George’s life began to flash infront of her eyes. Not much of a life, she thought, she had never really achieved anything, never even passed a maths exam. She tried to push the thoughts away but they kept bouncing back into her mind as if on a trampoline. She was up to the age of four, the time when she had taken next-door’s cat for a ride in one of her roller-skates, when the pattering behind her ground to a halt.
She carried on running for a while to be on the safe side.
George looked up. The branches of the trees overhead were not as heavy, more like a thatch covering which the moon’s rays were now filtering through. She turned. Behind her the forest seemed a great deal denser. She jumped as she heard a rustling sound coming from one of the bushes. She then picked out, yes, lots of pairs of intense blue eyes, staring at her coldly, through the gaps in the thicket.
It was as if there was a line which the Mumtwips dare not cross. George did not understand this, especially since this part of the forest did not seem in the least bit frightening, yet all the same, she was quite pleased about it.

George didn’t know how long she’d walked. However, she explored this new habitat thoroughly before giving her legs a well deserved rest. She smiled as she saw the first signs of sunlight pouring in like rain through a leaky roof. She was feeling happier than she had done for some time. Odd. She sensed no danger in this place. Actually, beside the few beautiful flowers that were now starting to open, there appeared to be no other signs of life whatsoever. She felt completely alone yet at the same time, completely safe.
Her eye-lids felt as if they had been carrying heavy shopping bags and after an exceedingly short amount of persuasion, George agreed to let them have a rest too. She lay down on the soft grass and dreamed of enjoying a long soak in a hot tub.
A while passed, on its way to another appointment.

There was a movement nearby, then another, then another and then all was still.
When George finally awoke, she sensed that something wasn’t quite right. She couldn’t exactly put her finger on it but thought it might just have something to do with the fact that she had woken up somewhere quite different than where she’d remembered going to sleep.
She rubbed her sleepy eyes and tried to make sense of things.
‘That wasn’t here before!’ said George to herself, looking directly infront of her at an old tree stump. ‘Nor that, or that, for that matter,’ she added, noticing a lilac coloured bush and a snow-covered rock. This last observation was extremely odd considering it was late spring.
George was getting, in simple terms, a little fed up. Besides her delusions, she desperately longed for some decent clothes - she was rather embarrassed about getting caught up in an adventure in her green check pyjamas and she really regretted asking to have that cute little teddy bear embroidered on the top right hand pocket. She wanted a bath and definitely would not say no to a full breakfast. Most of all, she wanted to be at home. After what she had just been through she had now decided that she was not the adventurous type.
George heard a faint sound. She listened hard.
‘?’ she thought.
George got up and walked towards the tree stump. As she grew closer, the sound became more detectable. At first, she thought it might be a grasshopper or some other sort of insect, until the sound became more recognisable.
She carefully rounded the stump and her gaze automatically fell to the ground. At first she saw nothing but the bark of the tree, partly covered by patches of deep green ivy, clutching the stump like a newborn monkey clings to its mother. Yet she was not mistaken. The sound was slightly louder now and was definitely coming from....the tree. She knelt down and peered closer. Then to her astonishment, the patterns created by the creeping ivy began to take on a whole new shape and before her very eyes, as if coming from the tree stump itself, emerged the small figure of a man. His clothing seemed to be one with the tree. Perhaps it wasn’t even clothes, perhaps it was his skin which was so earthy. His hair was dry and wayward and took on the same dark colouring as the bark. Ivy trailed down from his shoulders. George had to focus hard to keep seeing him as he kept merging into the background. He didn’t appear to have noticed George staring in wonder at him as he carried on singing in the sweetest, most angelic voice George had ever heard.


Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The sneezes!

Umpwiffle had been sneezing consecutively for twenty minutes

‘And make sure you do it properly!’ Tolita demanded, before slamming the door shut and locking it from the outside.

The bemused and tearful Trungler was imprisoned in a tiny, claustrophobic room. By his side were a nasty selection of bottled spells. These spells were some of Tolita’s strongest and most destructive. The reason that he had been given this task and locked in this small space is because once the containers were opened they were known to put up one heck of a fight.

He was being punished...the hard way. He would be solely responsible for making these abominations which destroyed lives and he knew why. Tolita did blame him for letting the girl get away, which was partly true, it was not in his nature to condemn someone to eternal misery, like himself. Yet now Tolita had got it into her head to entice the girl back into her grasp and she thought the best way to do this was to make her friends suffer.

As he reached for the jars, he only hoped that the girl had made it safely back to where she had come from. As for the Boffwunglers...he hung his head in shame of what he was about to do.

George could not sleep. There was too much hovering in her mind to make room for feelings of tiredness. The Mumtwips had eventually brought her some edible food and juice of some kind - by now she no longer cared what she was eating or drinking - and after complaining for several hours they had thrown her down a couple of blankets. ‘What more could a girl possibly want?’ she had shouted up sarcastically.

She thought back to the drawing of Ponkle and Sigworth’s cave. She had got the distinct impression that by tomorrow, the cave would have ceased to exist. Not that it would really matter seeing as both its occupants had also ceased to exist, if yesterdays disappearing act was anything to go by. She was also confused as to what the rest of the drawing signified. She thought back to Ponkle’s brief explanation of Sigworth’s experiments. Perhaps it was his antidote that these animals were after, this thing they called the ‘OB’. If it was, what on earth did they want with it? George struggled with her thoughts but still ended up none the wiser and now had an awful headache. As if things weren’t bad enough already.

‘Why are you keeping me here?’ she shouted up to one of the guards.

‘Ilg!’ he replied angrily.

‘Oh, thank you! That explains it perfectly!’ retorted George, pacing up and down the small space.

Enough was enough. These ignorant creatures were not to be trusted. For all George knew, she could be tomorrow’s lunch. Of course, unbeknown to her, that was not the case. She would be saved for a special occasion, such treats didn’t come along so often.

‘I must get out of here,’ whispered George to herself, at the same time giving the guards a sweet yet calculating smile.

Hours passed and the light from outside gradually faded to blackness. George was beginning to discover that the most annoying thing about Mumtwips is that they never sleep. However, they are very fond of a game of Pobbles (similar to draughts - the big difference being that there is far more scope for cheating) and could spend hours contemplating their opponent’s next move. I mention this as it is the exact pursuit which the four guards had chosen to while the night away.

George had been watching the guards and had noticed that whilst their game progressed, their concentration intensified. She had to plan her escape meticulously. Or so she thought, until,

‘Ip Fhg!’ said one of the guards, triumphantly.

‘Spt Prnt!’ said another, with rising frustration.

‘Nont Urg Pt!’ yelled the third angrily.

The fourth simply pulled a face.

Then it started. The first guard reached for the winnings (only, in fact, a mound of broken twigs yet it was the principle of the thing which was in question), the second punched the first on the nose, the third delivered a blow to the second’s stomach and the fourth really didn’t feel in the mood for a fight and went home.

The remaining Mumtwip guards were now involved in a full-scale brawl. Nobody appeared to notice as a young girl clambered up the slope, slipped past them and scampered into the open, disappearing amongst the shadows (well, apart from one guard who stopped fighting temporarily to check that their captive was still sleeping and was about to raise the alarm when he ran straight into an opponent’s foot and that was that).


Saturday, 2 August 2008

What next?

‘When shall we attack?’ asked a warrior-like Mumtwip with a strong urge to attack anything that moved.

‘Eka Rbt Cyzl!’ said Cecil (sorry, there is a page missing from the translation book but I would hazard a guess that it meant ‘night of the eclipse, ten minutes after sundown’).

The group dispersed. Four muscle bound Mumtwips remained to guard the entrance. Not to stop anything undesirable from getting in but rather to keep something valuable to them from getting out.

George was still sat uncomfortably on the damp floor where they had left her. She was cold down here in only her pyjamas, hungry too, they had given her nothing but a measly bowl of murky water, which was lying untouched near her feet. From the opening up there, it looked to be a warm, sunny day. She wondered if she would ever see the light of day again. She dragged herself to her feet to stretch her limbs and as she looked around in the dim light she noticed that she had been sitting on something.

She picked the soggy piece of paper up off the ground. She could see it quite clearly now her eyes were growing accustomed to the light. On it was a drawing of a cluster of caves. One of the caves had been marked in red with the letters ‘OB’. Surrounding the caves on the picture were sketches of creatures resembling Boffwunglers, lying on the ground. George weren’t sure whether they were dead or only sleeping. A thought flashed through her mind. She looked back at the cave with the red letters on. It looked mighty familiar.