Planes of Adventure- Arbortorious, first chapter.

Chapter 1: The raspy breath.

Oscar and Richard scrambled the vertical cliff face, covered with yellow flowered gorse bushes. Gasping for air, they finally reached the top, hands shredded from the prickled gorse. Oscar reached the top first and collapsed onto the flat chalky land. He looked up ahead and saw a deep black cave.

‘Richard, look over there!’ Oscar panted.

Richard made it to the top of the chalky cliff.

‘It’s a cave! Err… I don’t think we should go in there,’ Richard shook his head vigorously. His pale complexion burst with redness, exhausted from the climb.

‘Don’t be silly we should. What else is there to do here?’ Oscar egged on Richard. ‘It’ll be a laugh, come on. Or are you chicken?’

‘Fine then,’ said Richard.

Oscar led the way into the dark cave. There was nothing clear to see up ahead. ‘Do you still carry that torch with you wherever you go?’

Richard scrambled deep into his satchel and pulled out his windup torch and wound it up slowly.

‘Can you do that faster? We’ll be here for days!’ Oscar teased.

‘I suppose so.’ Richard always took his time with everything, which frustrated Oscar.

‘Oh give it here,’ Oscar grabbed the torch from Richard and counted as he went ‘1…2…20.’

With the torch lit to its full potential, the boys ventured deeper into the cave. To their left and right, white walls, covered in chalk and the floor layered with moss.

‘Ooh, soft and bouncy, I like it,’ said Richard.

He flinched and backed away behind Oscar.

 ‘What’s that rustling?’

‘It’s nothing, probably a bat,’ said Oscar.

‘Ahh… That’s no bat!’ yelled Richard.

The boys froze in fear. About 10 feet away from them, stood an oversized, two headed troll. One head was female, her lips pouted velvet red, like a cave of fire.

‘She looks like my grandmother at Christmas,’ Oscar nervously remarked.

The other was male, with a big pimply nose and drool dripping down to their big belly. Dressed in moss and chalk, nearing 8ft tall, the two heads squashed from the roof.

The troll stomped towards Oscar and  Richard,forcing them towards the cliff’s shear edge.

As the daylight peeked into the cave the female troll shrieked ‘Oh, you boys won’t satisfy my ‘unger, you can go. You’re no good for me.’

 The male troll growled and stretched his neck towards the boys, like a turtle peeking from its shell. ‘You’ll be right for me, come ere.’

Oscar and Richard locked eyes.

‘What should we do?’ panicked Richard.

‘We have to jump!’ said Oscar.

‘Into the shark infested water? I don’t think so!’

‘You know I don’t like water, but it’s that and swim away safely, or get eaten by him?’ Oscar looked over behind, to cliff’s edge.

‘But you can’t swim!’

‘I must try…’

The male troll tried his hardest to walk forward but the female troll did not care for the boys. Having one body and two minds was a hard task. The female shook her head and pulled away. The male wasn’t strong enough to pull back. As she stretched her head back to the cave, she pulled their body so hard; they both fell to the floor. With their mind working separate, they couldn’t get back up. Much like an upside down beetle trying to roll on its front.

‘Looks like the only way down is to jump anyway,’ Oscar squeezed his eyes shut. He took a deep breath and held his nose and took the daring plunge into the deep waters.

That moment, the afternoon school bell rang, which  knocked them back into reality.

‘Oh, why now?’ Oscar said. ‘I hadn’t finished my adventure,’ as he adjusted his grey school trousers. He hoped to avoid the teacher’s attention from his less than perfect uniform. The muddy hems of his trousers still dragged along the concrete.

Charlotte, played the female and Jimmy the male troll. Relieved that their adventure had ended. Jimmy untied the rope that shackled their legs together, which made it rather tricky for them to move.

‘That was hard work,’ said Charlotte with her hands on her hips.

‘Tell me about it!’ Jimmy huffed. ‘Trolls are fun,’ he said. ‘If I wasn’t attached to Charlotte, I could finally chase you all rather than getting pulled away!

Oscar, Richard and Charlotte looked at each other and a synchronised nod. They all dashed towards Jimmy and chased him all the way up the field and across the playground to the railings.  Jimmy panted, trying to catch his breath. ‘I wish I said nothing!’

‘Well, best get back to class,’ Richard was eager. ‘Oscar, you should do something about that hair? It looks like you have a pineapple on your head!’

Oscar scrambled his thick orange hair  between his fingers. He pushed up his sleeves in an assertive manner, as though he was ready to take on the day.

Charlotte asked, ‘Next time, can I be something else? Trolls aren’t my favourite character to play; I prefer dragons or something fast!’

Oscar replied ‘I suppose so, you could be a cheetah? They are fast!’

Charlotte softly smiled ‘oh yeah, that’s sounds fun.’

The four of them kept separate from everyone else. They did not like trouble or conflict, but craved adventure. They all got in line ready for class. As they turned around, towering over them stood their drama teacher. With a strong glare and his grey moustache covering his lips as though they didn’t even exist. No one wanted to question Mr. Quickfoot when he looked like that; they knew something was on his mind.

‘Your imagination has gone wild!’ He said, ‘Shouting across the field and chasing imaginary things every break time.  You’re the only ones running around and using your imagination.’ Mr. Quickfoot waggled his fingers at them. There was a slight smile underneath his moustache.

‘If only you were this enthusiastic in my double drama class! So, in our next lesson I want you to lead the class boys and girls, to prepare for your end of school exams in the next month.’

They thought the teacher had gone barmy, but with excitement they accepted the challenge. Richard was keen about this; he could take charge for once.  His shirt was tucked in, tie sitting under his collar and his black shoes polished. He was the tidiest boy in the class. Rather appropriate for a teacher role today. With a flick of his hair, he swished his fringe across his face. The children sniggered how everything was perfect with him. Richard didn’t mind, he took great care of how he looked and wanted everyone to know.

  Oscar, Jimmy, Richard and Charlotte, directed the class. everyone had to speak in a certain voice with a specific character. Everyone loved the class and thought it should always be like that. Jimmy never left Oscars’ side, he was anxious about the exams and not one for performing in front of others. They were inseparable and a good team. Oscar gave Jimmy his confidence, and they always looked out for one another.

Charlotte was the fastest girl in year six. Once the lesson was complete, she always tidied the desks and was the first to line up for home.

At the end of the lesson Oscar announced ‘arright you lot!’ spoken like a pirate, ‘that’s all for today, off ye go, you scallywags.’

Mr. Quickfoot interrupted with a shocked expression. ‘Well boys and girls, you did well today. Perhaps we could put this imagination into every lesson and give me your full attention? See you on Monday.’

The chairs flung away from under their bottoms, with a high pitch screech on the floor. The sound echoed down the hallway as a reminder  the weekend was about to begin.

Oscar and Jimmy raced out the door, along the corridor and out into the playground. The sun shone on Oscar’s face, he stopped dead in his tracks to soak up the rays and energise himself for the walk home. Jimmy quickly realised that Oscar was not with him anymore. Jimmy turned around and moaned ‘here we go again…come on Oscar, my mum is here to pick me up, I gotta go.’

‘Ok then I’ll see you tomorrow for another adventure.’

They waved to each other until they could no longer see one another.

Oscar gazed up to the sky, his neck bent as far back as he could, hands in his pockets. He let out a big sigh and then breathed in the fresh air.

Richard and Charlotte hurried past Oscar and waved goodbye. They waited at the gate for their parents to pick them up.

Charlotte’s parents were always early. Both retired, their jobs included looking after the 5 children they adopted. The school run for them was always  hectic. They picked up the kids from playgroup, then primary school for Charlotte. Lastly, secondary school for her older sisters.

Richard always went home with his mother but today she didn’t arrive until 30 minutes after the bell.  Richard was slightly worried as he did not know the way home. Oscar, being the polite boy he was and not in any particular rush to get home said ‘Hey, I’ll wait with you if you like?’

Richard smiled.

‘So where is your dad? Can’t he pick you up?’ Oscar asked.

‘No, he is dead. He died when I was two,’ said Richard, as he dropped his head to his chest.

‘Oh, sorry,’ Oscar mumbled awkwardly. He couldn’t believe it took four whole years before he found that out.

‘I know what it feels like to lose someone you love.’ Said Oscar.

Oscar gazed off into the distance, remembering the day his mother and father came to pick him up from school. They walked through his classroom door. Red flushed faces and a distinct heartbreaking look about them. Oscar went home early that day, which he was rather happy about; but drive home in the car was silent, no one said a word. Oscar’s parents never picked him up, so he knew something was wrong. The atmosphere was awkward and worrisome. As they walked through their front door, to the lounge. Oscar’s Father said ‘Sit down.’

His Mother sobbed and pulled out a tissue. ‘Your brother, Simon, he… he, is dead; he drowned at the swimming pool earlier today.’

Oscar remembered that sick feeling in his stomach about this time two years ago,  ‘But… why, how?’

‘His heart stopped when he dived into the pool to save a girls watch that had sunk to the bottom.’

His mother wept endlessly and since that day, his parents have done nothing but argue.

‘Oscar, hello?’ Richard waved his arm in front of his face, to grab his attention.

‘Oh, sorry, did you say something?’

‘So… why don’t your parents pick you up?’

‘They are too busy arguing, and I like to walk, It’s better than being stuck in the house with my little sister.’

‘Yeah, I don’t get much time to play on weekends. Mum wants to go to church every Sunday, and Saturday I am stuck doing homework.’ Richard scuffed his feet on the floor  wishing  he had more freedom.

‘That’s no fun. You should play with me on Saturdays after your home work?’

Richard responded. ‘You know Mum thinks you’re a bad influence,   since you got me in trouble for getting home late.’

‘Oh yeah, sometimes my mind wonders off into a deep adventure. You’re just the same!’

Just then Oscar heard classical music playing from an oncoming car. ‘Is that your mum‘s car?’

‘Yup,’ Richard raised his eyebrows, ‘See you on Monday then, Oscar.’

‘Bye!’

Oscar shook his head and felt somewhat sorry for Richard. He then left the school gates and looked forward to the long walk home.

His journey was rather picturesque and full of nature. He passed willow trees where the sun glistened through the branches. Oscar would take off his shoes and socks by the river to dip his toes in. The cool rush of the water  woke his feet up for the rest of the walk. Since his brother’s death, his mother never let him go swimming, let alone in a river. But Oscar couldn’t help himself. Just his toes were enough for him.

Oscar dried his feet off with his socks and headed back down a long steep hill.  Oscar wished he had a bike, so much, so he could fly fast down the hill past everybody else. Oscars favourite place was a wood filled with bluebells just behind Jimmy’s farm. He would play for hours, making dens and going on adventures. He did not mind being late home because he knew his Mother and Father would never notice.

Once he got through the woods, he could see the entrance to Jimmy’s farm house. Where he would regularly play on weekends and get into mischief.  Oscar always felt closer to his brother on the farm. Simon used to work for Jimmy’s parents, grooming, feeding the animals and growing plants and vegetables. It was his hobby, not the norm for a 15 year old boy. ‘Simon loved it here,’ thought Oscar. He walked past the farm gates reminiscing of the good times, where they were all together, laughing and playing.

The vast fields and small woods would be the boys’ hideaway for days on end. The boys would throw pennies down the wishing well hoping their wishes would come true. Jimmy had built his own tree house surrounded by leafy bushes as camouflage. It was their safe house. Jimmy had two little twin sisters, who would always spoil their fun. So the boys had to keep their location and plans secret from them.

Past the farm and across the street, Oscar was on the home stretch downhill. Nearing ‘Cowpat Lane’ where he had lived his whole life.

Mr. Quickfoot lived 3 roads away from Oscar. Parked outside was his yellow rusty Volkswagen camper van, he drove to work every day. All the children called it the ‘zoom ship’. Mr. Quickfoot was always the first to work.

So the rest of his journey home was simple, with all the houses joined and not even a small gap between them. His street was nosy, everyone knew everyone’s’ business. There were rather a lot of curtain twitchers about. It was a small town hence the name ‘Missit’.

Everyone Oscar went to school with lived in walking distance, including the teachers. He was never short of friends to play with, but sometimes it was a nightmare. He felt he could never do anything on his own, in private.

Oscar scuffed his feet as all the energy had left him. He had been walking for 20 minutes. The sunshine beamed down on the top of his head. Half way down the hill, he felt an eerie sensation – a shudder through his entire body. He felt like someone was following him. So he quickened his pace and coughed exaggeratedly. He hoped to warn the person following, he knows they are there. With a shrug of his shoulders he jolted his school bag up tight to his back and rolled up his sleeves. Oscar walked briskley and heard funny footsteps, like they were wearing flip-flops. He felt his heart leap right out of his chest. Rustling and a raspy breath got louder and louder.

Oscar’s imagination ran wild; he worried that they would kidnap him. He focused on the end of the road as he was so close to home. He daren’t look round to see who it was, or what it was…


All rights reserved, © copyright 2015 Annie k Baxter

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