left Sigworth's Dust: The Forest

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.