A beautiful day, with a bright sun in the clear blue sky. The bees were buzzing… on their kazoos and the birds were singing… Jazz. The grass was growing… a crop that they’d planted in the Spring and the flowers were bloomin’… well mannered, as usual. And none of this distracted Jake from dhê Forist that was looming dark on the horizon. He could ignore the Bogey man hiding under his bed since he’d become a mature and cynical adult. Dhê Forist brought it all back to him though. The Bogey man was alive and well, and probably hiding in dhê Forist ahead.
An hour ago they had left dhê Vilij, leaving Bêrkiitê and Bran behind after they had asked Jake and Orph to find their Droowid, whom they hadn’t seen for a few days and believed to be in his Grove. So off they went, across dhê Playnz towards dhê Forist.
An hour later, after Jake’s concerns about the Bogey man, Jake was confronted with the darkness of dhê Forist. All he saw were triiz and between the triiz, shear blackness. Not even a dappled shady effect. It was like someone had used black paint to colour the gaps between the triiz.
Jake and Orph tentatively passed through the wall of blackness (that really was a wall, because on the other side Jake saw a normal forest, with a canopy and dappled shades). He looked back and dhê Playnz were hidden behind a wall of black paint and triiz.
An acorn fell on Jake’s head, just then.
It was a beautiful oak forest, with a few elms and ashes in between, and underneath the canopy; hazel, elder and hawthorn. And a variety of woodland flowers underfoot.
“Get your foot off me you great oaf!”
“Oh,” said Jake “Sorry about that…” Thankfully Jake found a path without any flowers or grasses to complain about his big feet. Though he was still careful with the stones because you just never know! The path had a sign saying “Droowid’z Growv dhis wey.”
A couple more acorns fell on Jake’s head. Jake rubbed his head.
Jake’d had a few scares, this being a forist and all. At one moment he saw a group of bears walking upright towards him. “How do!” hollered one as they walked past. In their paws Jake noticed empty lunch boxes. Obviously coming back from work and they’d already eaten. So Jake was off the menu, thankfully.
Jake also saw wild boar and a herd of deer playing cards with a pack of wolves. The wolves weren’t very used to being shuffled like that…
Jake’s head became the target of a few more acorns. It was becoming quite sore.
A few times Jake saw squirrels, and the further inward they went the more squirrels there seemed to be.
“OW!” A squirrel had aimed an acorn right at Jake’s head. Jake threw it back but the squirrels had all gone into hiding.
“OOOOOWWWWW!!!” Jake howled. An extra large acorn this time, the size of a squirrel. A flash of white darted amongst the branches of the triiz.
Was there an extra large, white squirrel too?
A deluge of acorns came directly at Jake, which he managed to dodge this time.
“Did you see that?” Jake yelped?
“No, sorry, my tail was in the way. What happened?”
“We got bombarded by giant acorns.” Then Jake corrected himself, “Well, I did,” considering that none of the acorns that had “fallen” had even grazed Orph.
“Oh, did we?” Orph couldn’t even try to look less concerned. And there was a flash of that giant, white squirrel again, too fast for the eye to see.
Then Jake had an idea he’d seen in an old cowboy and Indian film. Since Orph wasn’t getting hit then he could use Orph as a shield.
“Orph, I’ve got a favour to ask. Can I use you as a shield?”
“That’s not something you ask of friends you know…”
“Well, at the moment you’re my steed and you’re not getting hit by acorns!” which Orph couldn’t argue with, so Jake clinged on to Orph’s belly as Orph walked forward. Nothing happened for a while and Jake started to feel calmer. Nothing’s going to happen, he thought.
But before he could comment on this to Orph he felt a sharp pain on his hand, then on his arm, then loads more on his back, and at least one on his forehead. Jake let go of his grip and fell to the ground, hit by another barrage of acorns. Then it stopped.
Jake looked over at Orph who seemed to not take notice of what had been going on.
“DIDN’T YOU GET HIT???” Yelled Jake.
“No. Hit by what?” said the nonchalant-as-an-invisible-brick-wall Orph.
Jake just shrugged his shoulders. At that moment he saw more white, but not moving. There, amongst the trees, was a very large, white bum, and between a fork two little eyes were staring straight back at Jake. He looked at Orph, “Do you see that?” But when he looked back the squirrel had disappeared, if indeed it was a squirrel at all.
“Can we turn back, Orph? I’m not happy about this, at all… getting hit by acorns.”
“What acorns, Jake? I think you’re imagining things.” And so Orph disappeared around a tree, leaving Jake no option but to follow (and if he’d looked back he’d have noticed the path disappearing with his passing, leaving no way to turn back).
Jake turned around the corner and found himself looking into a wide open space, filled with grass. It was a circle of trees, a grove or growv. In the centre of which stood a solitary stone, about the size of a human. Jake went to approach it, to get a better look. He saw various symbols and writing, though he didn’t understand it.
WHT R Y DNG HR DSTRBNG TH SNCTTY F THS PLC
An old man dressed in a pure white robe, with a long beard stretching from his face to his belly leapt over the stone, from behind it, doing some very impressive Kung-Fu moves. Jake stopped in his tracks.
THS S SCRD PLC HW DR Y DSTRB TH SNCTTY F THS PLC
Once again Jake knew this was English, but it sounded different as though when you write it down it would look different. As though it would be all in upper case, have no vowels and no punctuation! Why did this world have to have such weird ideas about LNGG… ùy miin, langwij… tut! Language!
The old man, the Droowid, sensing that Jake didn’t understand, changed l-a-n-g-u-a-g-e, “Doo yoo understand mii naw?”
Jake still wasn’t sure, so Orph intervened. “Actually we speak like this.”
“Ah, okay. Yes, ùy’m a LTTL bit rustii with this langwuage, BT I`m shure we’ll NDRSTND each other. So, what can I doo fò yoo?”
“Actually,” interjected Orph, “It’s what we can do for you.”
The Droowid’z face suddenly became a mass of relief. “Good godz!” he sighed, “I thought my prayers would NVR bii anserd…” and with that he collapsed on the floor, sobbing and grabbing Jake’s legs.