I will be posting the first ten chapters of Wyld over the next ten weeks. I hope it will inspire and engage you all. Please share with your friends:)
Once away from shelter, Wyld realised just how cold it was and was glad he was at least wearing a couple of jumpers and a pair of thermal gloves. He had his thermal jacket in the pack but maybe he should turn back and get some more layers. Knowing his luck if he went back then the scientific meeting would definitely end and his opportunity for adventure would be ruined. Anyway, he would only be out for a couple of hours. He would be fine.
To warm up Wyld sprinted towards the nearest section of forest and stopped. He hesitated, it felt wrong. His stomach churned and he scanned the thicket for danger or any movement. There was nothing. That didn’t mean there wasn’t anything out there waiting. Something made the hairs on his neck stand on end. For a moment he stared at the dense tangle of foliage. It was just like any other forest, it was intense, green and full of ancient trees. Yet how many forests were completely stone-cold silent? It just felt wrong. He stood on the edge listening. All he could hear was heavy breathing and that belonged to him. For the first time he heard his own heart beat as he stared amongst the trees. The more he stared, the more the forest seemed to be beckoning him to venture further. He could still see the cave complex, it was easily running distance – so why not? He glanced back, Sylvia wasn’t by the window anymore… If something did happen then there was no-one to witness it. Finally he made a decision, he would just have a little look. If he did see something then he would run and run until he was safe. Simple. His heart jolted. There was something so exciting about what laid beyond.
Exploration was fun and after a short while Wyld became used to being amongst the ancient jungle. It wasn’t so bad and for some reason it looked far more interesting the further he moved away from the edge. In the depths he noticed the trees were growing increasingly twisted and old looking. That made them pretty cool. Some even had massive trunks with branches covered in moss and lichen. Wyld liked the way the trees were so solid and so climbable. Many of their branches linked to the other trees like twisted bridges. It was so fun so he explored for an hour without the slightest interruption. He clambered from tree to tree, followed some large tracks and threw some stones at some ugly looking birds. The birds looked like big plucked turkeys with massive skin-like wings. When they called they made strange guttural noises that sounded like hooping mixed with groaning. They were the ugliest birds he had ever seen so he made them fly away by chucking a barrage of stones at them. Other than that, nothing too much seemed to be happening. That was until there was a rustling in the bushes.
The sound of the cracking made Wyld jolt. His gaze circumnavigated the undergrowth. What was that noise? Was it the wind? No it was too solid. There it was again, another rustle. Wyld’s heartbeat quickened. He realised he was an obvious target, so knelt down and tried to make himself small. He slowed his breath right down and listened to where the sound was coming from. In that quiet moment he could hear a strange rumbling turning through the air. It was as if something was trying to call to a much larger beast. Wyld didn’t dare move, whatever was calling was just on the other side of the bushes. He needed to work out what he should do: if he ran he could be chased. If he stayed then maybe he would be trampled. Wyld listened again, the sound seemed desperate like whatever was behind the bush was calling for help, like it was crying.
On all fours Wyld crept a little closer and hid behind some stones. He waited for a moment, took a deep breath and then carefully peered through a gap between two boulders. There was a fluffy shape in front of him; a hairy bundle with what looked like tiny tusks. Wyld stared dumbfounded. It couldn’t be could it? Was it really possible? An extremely hair baby elephant? From what Wyld could gather, the animal before him was one those hairy beasts his dad had pictures of. What if the expedition leader hadn’t been lying? What if this creature was only the beginning? What if there were more? His glance erratically scanned the surrounding area. Wyld felt panicked, the other creature sensed it too. Wyld listened. The beast listened. There was an intense silence.
For a while the pair waited. The creature probably thought Wyld was a predator stalking it. He guessed the beast was trying to work out his position before it defended itself. He stayed still, he focused on calming down and considered his options. He was torn between his natural instinct: survival or his unfortunate curiosity. What if what was in the bushes was dangerous? What if it was one of the sabre-tooth tiger creatures, but just appeared like something else? What if it was something even worse-with two heads and a giant shark’s mouth? All manner of strange creature stampeded through his mind.
Survival was his best option, that was it, but there was a nagging feeling. What if he never found out? It didn’t matter, self-preservation was priority- that was what he had always been taught. ‘Never endanger yourself. The code word is survival! To survive – it is better to avoid trouble and find a way out. Finally never take risks!’
With a deep breath, Wyld turned to leave. It was then that he heard the beast whimper. From what he could make out, it too seemed like a child, a child in a helpless situation. The whimpering turned to desperate sounds begging for help. He felt a pain in his heart, he could sense the beast was pleading with him. In that moment a churn of thoughts tumbled through his mind. What if the beast was setting him a trap? What if it intended to kill him and eat him? There was only one thing for it: Wyld was going to have to take a closer look.
Urgently he shifted to all fours and scurried forwards, there it was again, the fearful crying. Wyld found a tree stump and hid behind it. He peered over the top and almost had the wind knocked out of him. Ahead of him was a red fluffy elephant, it must have been a baby because it was only the size of a sheep. It was covered in wispy red hair, it had a trunk and at that moment it fell helplessly silent as it stared fearfully, but wretchedly back at Wyld.
Quickly he ducked back behind the stump and gathered himself. A mammoth? He couldn’t believe it, the wild animal thing had seemed like a twisted joke. A hairy baby mammoth in the middle of a forest? Wyld peered over the stump and took another peek. The mammoth was struggling to move away. The little mammoth kept trying to pull his leg but Wyld noticed it was caught in twine. The more the baby struggled, the more the twine tightened. The ball of fluff needed his help but if he helped then it could attack him. Wyld stared at the animal’s dark brown eyes and sympathised because it had long black eyelashes. ‘Right I will help you, but you have to promise not to hurt me.’ His whisper seemed to soothe the beast. There was a sense of understanding between them. The mammoth whimpered, showing it was in pain and acknowledging the acceptance of the boy’s soft voice. ‘Okay, okay I will help you… but where are your parents? What are they playing at leaving you out here all by yourself?’
Wyld carefully climbed over the stump and moved cautiously but slowly towards the baby. ‘I will help you, but don’t hurt me. Do you promise?’
The abandoned fluff ball watched him move closer; its stare was focused in such a way that if anything startled it, it would dig its tiny tusk into him in a second.
With very calm movements Wyld slowly edged closer and held out his hand, like allowing a dog to sniff his scent. The mammoth quietly watched and after a short while lifted its trunk and made contact with his hand. Wyld had been given permission to help. A broad smile filled Wyld’s face and he felt his body calm. With a sigh of relief, he whispered in his calmest tone, ‘now I will move slowly towards you and release you. I am doing this slowly and I am trying not to scare you.’
He leant down and stroked the baby mammoth’s leg. The fluffy beast made a whimpering sound in gratitude. Wyld tugged at the twine to create a gap and used his Swiss army-knife to carefully cut the beast free. Once the baby mammoth was free it just stood not doing anything.
It didn’t run, it just seemed to be waiting.
‘Come on fella give me a break. I just freed you, go find your mum.’ Wyld glanced around.
With a frown, Wyld sensed something was wrong. He had expected the baby to run or at least move in the direction it had come from. Instead the baby mammoth lifted its tiny trunk and sniffed the air. Wyld watched inquisitively and paused. Something didn’t feel right. The distinct feeling of being watched burned into his back. He glanced at the baby mammoth who became nervous then fidgety. It had sensed something too. It had sensed danger.