Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The 44 Dragons
by Margo Fallis
Part Two - Arbutel - Chapter 28

          Crispin’s legs, tired and shaky, tripped and staggered on stones and roots of fallen or dead trees. “At least there are trees now.” He sat down to rest. “I hope there are no more bird flowers, or any of those man-eating plants. I don’t think I could handle one more thing.” Spread out before him, hundreds of mounds about ten to twelve feet tall, stood like giant termite hills. Crispin wondered what sort of creatures lived inside each mound. “Great. The mountain is on the other side of those pile things.” He glanced from side to side. “There’s no other way. I have to walk through there. Well, maybe if I am really quiet and don’t bump into them, nothing will attack me. I’m too tired to run.” He rubbed his legs and took a few deep breaths. “Okay, I might as well get going.”

Walking through the field, Crispin thought the mounds looked like the stalagmites in Marti’s cave, except for their  reddish brown color. He stroked one. “It feels like dirt.” He reminded himself he wasn’t going to speak, just incase. Making his way around them without touching became difficult in some spots. His foot caught on a stone and he fell against one of the mounds, his arm nearly puncturing the dirt hill. Brushing his hand off, he got his balance and went on. He didn’t notice a pair of eyes opening near the top of the mound he’d fallen on. Another pair of eyes opened, and then another. Soon every mound watched Crispin as he walked among them. The trobubs followed him, inching their way along behind him, unseen.

Crispin heard a rustling noise. He stopped and turned around. All he saw were the mounds. He continued for a few minutes and then once again heard the rustling sound. When he turned around again, the mounds were still behind him. “Hmmm. That’s strange. I thought I’d be far away from them by now. There must be more of them than I thought.”

A few moments later he heard it again. This time he waited a moment before jumping around. He saw nothing but the mounds of dirt. Why does it feel like they’re following me? No matter how far I walk, they’re still right behind me. This is really, really strange. He touched one of the trobubs. It feels like dirt. He sniffed it. It smells like dirt. Still, something creepy is going on here.

Without waiting another moment, he turned and ran. He didn’t stop until his sides ached. When he looked back, the mounds were still there. “What is going on here?” His eyes moved slowly up to the top of the tallest one.  “Yikes! You’ve got eyes?” He looked from one to another. “They all have eyes.” One of the trobubs opened its mouth. A long apricot-colored tongue slithered out and moved toward Crispin. “Oh no you don’t. I’m not going through this again.” When he looked at the others, their tongues came slipping out of their mouths. Each tongue, covered with bubbly lumps, reached for the boy. He stomped on them and ran away. This time he didn’t stop running. Even though he heard the rustling sound and knew the trobubs weren’t far behind, he ran. 

Up ahead he saw a river. “Oh good. It’s shallow.” Crispin jumped into it. Some of the trobubs entered the water and immediately dissolved, coloring the clear river reddish-brown as they liquified. Seeing the fate of the others, most waited on the riverbank. Their tongues dropped into the water, like long snakes, wriggling to the center of the river, where Crispin stood. “You can’t come in the river and if you try, I’ll smash your tongues with stones.” He picked up a football-sized stone. When the first tongue came close enough, he threw the stone down, smashing it. The trobub screamed in pain and withdrew its tongue. The others didn’t try. They pulled their tongues back. “Ha ha. Don’t mess with me!” He splashed his way down the middle of the river, heading away from them.

The further he went, the more the scenery changed from desolation and despair to  leafy trees and grasses. Crispin heard a distant rumbling. After seeking the noise, he spotted a waterfall. The water roared over the edge of the cliff and tumbled to the lake below. “We have bigger waterfalls than that back home,” he said, unimpressed. The lake shone and sparkled; its clear water absorbed the sun’s rays. He took off his shoes and socks and sat on a patch of grass at the edge of the lake, dangling his feet into the water. “Oh boy. This feels good. The water isn’t even that cold. I wonder where the fish are.”  He splashed a handful of water on his face. From the corner of his eye, he saw a greenish glow and turned his head to see it. “There’s one. It’s green, like a shiny neon light and it’s moving in the water.”

Crispin watched the fish swim around. When it headed his direction, he pulled his feet out of the water. He couldn’t see any form to it, just the flashing green lights. The varp swam up to the edge of the lake and lifted its head out of the water. Crispin saw two antennas with green balls at the end. “Are those your eyes? I didn’t know fish had antenna eyeballs.” The big jelly fish’s eyes swirled with green liquid, circling the edges like a neon sign. “Your eyes are funny looking.”

All of a sudden it spit something onto Crispin’s neck and shoulders, burning his skin like acid. He screamed and ran toward the mountain, leaving his shoes and socks by the lake. Even though he tripped over rocks and sticks, he didn’t stop. The sun set below the horizon; the robin’s egg blue sky turned orange, pink and red, and then indigo. Crispin kept heading for a campfire flickering in the distance.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus