Ghost is encapsulated in grotty snotty wax.
Davina sat the base of an ancient yew tree and watched Ghost hesitate on the edge of the forest. It was obvious that he really didn’t want to go alone. With a sad sigh, Davina wished he was continuing the journey with her but no, he had made his choice. She understood why he wanted to go back to his old life rather than go beyond his comfort zone. She tucked her hair behind her ears and inhaled the aroma of lavender and Atrox stench. She had to create a strategy while the Wolf and Beargoyles rested but first she had to wash. The stink was far too distracting.
After exploring the nearby forest, Davina found a clear pool next to a river and bathed. Once the hideous smell was gone and she was sure she was clean, she headed back towards the derelict church. She glanced over at the forest in hope that Ghost had changed his mind. He was nowhere to be seen. Crouching beside the church, she found an area of dry earth and used a twig to draw a circle. With a deep sigh Davina realised that she already missed Ghost and his quirky ways. She drew another circle and laid within the circle looking up at the sky. A few white clouds floated past. She tapped the Shamaventus staff against the ground. ‘I welcome wisdom and advice into my circle,’ Davina said half heartedly.
Another two taps of the staff released numerous globular lights which spun and pulsated up ito the sky. She waited expectantly for the glowing bubbles to do something. Of course nothing happened. Davina felt a complete idiot; she had drawn a circle and had attempted to act all knowing. Yet she wasn’t all knowing because she couldn’t remember what she should be all knowing about. How was she supposed to listen to herself if she didn’t know what she was saying?
Just as she went to sit up, a series of hoots resonated through the sky. At first Davina thought she was being attacked by Grotesques, but something extraordinary had taken place the sky was filled with every breed of owl imaginable, they descended from a porthole that had formed in the sky and landed on the branches of nearby trees. Others landed on the ground close to her. Each peered at her with eyes full of wisdom. They awaited her questions. Davina smiled to herself, the Shamaventus had delivered but there was a short time delay between what she had asked for and it being delivered. She had to be aware of that.
Wanda glanced over sleepily and nodded her approval. A few of the other Goyles stirred, concluded that the visitors were not a threat and nestled back down to rest some more.
Davina sat up and crossed her legs. ‘Welcome, I called you because I need your valuable advice.’ She addressed all the owls equally.
The owls hooted their response. Unfortunately Davina didn’t understand, ‘I welcome translation, I welcome the voice of wisdom. I welcome a strategy,’ she said tapping the Shameventus. From the flames of the Shamaventus, a mouth rose into the air.
‘Will you talk on behalf of the owls?’ asked Davina in a prim tone.
‘I will,’ the voice of knowledge whispered back.
‘Let me explain the situation. The Chimera is planning to attack the human cities. She has besieged a school and taken my father prisoner and is possibly holding him in her lair. How would you approach this if you were me?’ Davina addressed the owls via the floating mouth interpreter.
The owls hooted amongst themselves. They nominated a leader who flew up to the Shamaventus to air their wisdom.
‘The Chimera cannot be in more than one place at a time can she?’ translated the floating mouth, on behalf of the spokes owl.
‘Good point.’ Davina answered, she wondered what that meant.
‘Isn’t it better to go where she will not be?’ posed the mouth.
Davina pondered the wisdom; however, what had been said was still not a strategy and she was not ready to face the Chimera. ‘If you were in this situation what would your strategy be?’
‘This is your decision and your strategy. We can advise you but will not make decisions on your behalf,’ responded the translator mouth.
A sense of dread filled Davina’s gut, she glanced over at the forest.
‘Ghost is in trouble,’ whispered the voice of a breeze.
Davina had already sensed that but her strategy was important too.
Ghost continued walking into the depths of the forest. The further he walked the more the trees became more dense, gnarled and contorted. Branches began to resemble boney arms and the trunks reminded him of screaming faces. It was all in his mind but it began to bother him. After about thirty minutes, he had completely lost his sense of direction. Above him, woodpeckers eerily hammered the trees. Ghost edgily wondered why he had made such a stupid decision.
A branch snapped behind Ghost, he sensed something watching him. ‘Davina?’ he whispered hopefully.
Tap! Tap! Tap! a woodpecker hammered.
Ghost flinched. His heart pounded. The hairs on the back of his neck rose, something was definitely out there. He crouched down and surveyed the area. Nothing. His eyes were adjusted, he thought he should be able to see everything – even in darkness. So why wasn’t he seeing properly?
Ghost scanned the area again, had he eaten enough algae? Maybe he wasn’t properly rested. Exhaustion was making his imagination play tricks. Ghost decided to rest and spotted a solitary rock. Once he sat down he urgently rummaged through his knapsack and found the orange algae paste, he carefully mixed it with water and made it into that familiar stodge. All the while he felt he was being watched. Every few seconds he checked around him. Nothing. Ghost turned his attention back to the algae; this time the algae was a different colour. He sniffed it before he put it in his mouth. It smelt tangy and sweet. He needed nutrition so selected orange because it reminded him of carrots. Carrots helped a child to see in the dark didn’t they? Orange algae had to be the best thing for eyesight, surely? I want to be able to see everything, I want eyes in the back of my head, no I want eyes that see in all directions, everywhere! He thought to himself as he took his first taste of the gloopy paste.
Ghost sat for a while waiting for the algae to work its way into his system. He surveyed the area to see if there was any change to his vision. Nothing changed, he still wasn’t seeing anything clearly. Ghost blinked rapidly, he thought he had seen a dark presence with yellow eyes, when he focused again it was gone. Ghost stared at the empty spot and decided his mind was playing tricks on him. He fiddled with the dry skin on his lip. It would take at least forty-five minutes for him to digest the algae, He was just going to have to wait. A tingling sensation circled his scalp. It was a different sensation to before.
There was another motion beyond the trees which made Ghost jerk. The more he scanned the area the more frightful the trees became. The darkness closing in made it even worse. He was sure there were two dark faces behind a tree. With an urgent gulp Ghost attempted to focus but whatever they were disappeared. He pulled his legs into his chest and made himself small. In an attempt to console himself Ghost began to hum. He had to take his mind off the situation. To his right a spider spun a web. Tiny droplets of water carried on a mist were caught on the web. The pattern of the web reminded him of dream catcher at his parent’s old home. A series of images flashed through his mind from the past – everything he had experienced had led him to that moment. He was supposed to be there but why? Why had destiny called him of all people? He was just a small boy who was not worthy enough to be involved with Davina. He was so consumed in his thoughts that he almost didn’t feel the strange sensation of being in motion. Ghost stared up; the trees were moving away from him. He wondered what was going on.
Snap! Some strange calls resembling pigs grunting mixed with yelping rangout from the undergrowth. Ghost sat bolt upright. Something darted swiftly amongst the trees. It was the same dark shape with the yellow eyes he had seen before. Ghost move now! Before….
There was no time to react because up in the tree a bulky creature landed on a branch. Ghost’s humming increased, he couldn’t bring himself to look up. A slither of drool dripped onto Ghost’s cheek. Ghost searched for the other dark shapes beyond the thicket. Something breathed heavily behind him, studying him like prey. Ghost summoned all his courage and turned slowly to look behind him. A hideous creature crouched less than a meter behind him. It’s cruel grin dribbled at his fearful expression. Did it intend to eat him?
With a sudden grimace, Ghost looked up another tendril of drool slipped from that creature’s cruel grimace. Splop! Ghost couldn’t move. He didn’t speak. He couldn’t do anything. Another gurgling noise came from behind him. Slowly he sunk to a crouching position and prepared to run. He looked down he was sitting on the back of a slow moving stone, he intended to use it to launch himself.
In silence the Grotesque and Ghost anticipated each other’s intentions. With a jolt Ghost launched himself off the back of the stone and ran as fast as he could back to where he had come from. As he ran more ugly creatures emerged from behind trees. He had become their prey. The creatures whooped and hissed excitedly as they chased him. At first he ran in a straight line but he was blocked. Ghost attempted to zigzag; his father had always said he should zigzag. It did not work, he was surrounded by dribbling hideous creatures. Ghost hummed nervously and gazed into the eyes of the nearest Grotesque. It gazed back with amusement in its eyes. The creature was so hideous it made him want to spew. Not only were they ugly, but their huge, grinning, nasty mouths and their small, twisted rock-eyes were vicious.
Raucous laughter accompanied by the flapping of their wings made Ghost feel claustraphobic as they closed in. Each reached out with their sharp, twisted talons. There was no escape.
‘Ghost you should never have left safety. There is always safety in numbers,’ he muttered helplessly to himself.
He should have stayed with Davina.
The cold, hard claws snatched at his clothes. He felt like a fox surrounded by vicious hounds. Ghost frantically searched for an escape. Maybe he could run through their legs. The creatures’ long twisty tails had barbed horns along the length of them and the talons on their feet were as sharp and deadly as those on their ripping claws. There was no way he could risk it.
Ghost frantically batted them away. How could he escape? He attempted to run at one. The creature growled, dribbled and swiped at his face with its sharp talons. Ghost twisted and moved to avoid the attack but it was useless: he was cornered like a rat at a rat catcher’s convention. There was no way out. That was it. Ghost covered his head and curled into a ball.
The lead Grotesque grabbed Ghost and wrapped him in a course web of dribble. It then smeared crackling earwax all over the webbing. As the wax solidified it sealed him rigidly inside the webbing. Ghost struggled, but the creature was too strong. He soon became rigid when the wax solidified and sealed him inside the inter-woven gloopy construction. His arms were trapped by his side and the more he struggled the tighter the web became. The Grotesques cackled until there was a unanimous roar. They had their victim.
Amongst the mayhem, Ghost became giddy. The putrid smell of the wax knocked him out. The last thing he remembered was a gentle breeze and the sound of pigs squealing. Was he dead? Slowly he slipped into silence. There was nothing left but darkness and stench.