Copyright © 2011 -
Part 1 The Strangest Day
It had been confirmed. It had now been announced. No going back. The Government had changed time itself. The whole country had to get out of bed an hour early because the government had changed time! Sam raised himself slowly and cautiously and looked around his bedroom. It looked the same as ever, blue paint on the walls, posters the same – nothing moved – superman curtains, matching bedding. But it was different, you can’t go messing about with time itself. Somehow the difference would show.
Sam got up, walked across his bedroom – so far so good – opened the door and stepped into the centre of a vortex. All around him people and animals and things whirled and shrieked as they spun and spun and spun too fast to think. Sam thought he saw his father but he was moving too fast to be sure. Then with a bump, the whirling stopped and everyone and everything fell to earth. Sam felt his arms and legs carefully. All seemed ok, nothing broken, then he took a step forward and plunged feet first into a gap in the ground which had opened up before him. Sam reached out, trying to touch the walls, trying to slow his fall. It was useless. He folded his arms huffily and sighed.
“Now what. I wonder where that bloomin white rabbit with the pocket watch is, that’ll be the next thing I suppose. Honestly. This is the Government’s fault, we were ok till they started messin with the bloomin time. Hey! Wow! I’m slowing down and it’s sunny! Mum’s gonna be mad if I’m not back for dinner though, I wonder where she is.”
Sam’s random thoughts began to slow as he found his feet in the middle of a lush green meadow. Three billy goats were chewing the lush green grass and looking pretty pleased with themselves as they did so. They ambled away when Sam began to walk towards them. Sam thought he saw a Troll duck down under a faraway bridge. The light changed. The world darkened and lightened and Sam’s feet looked huge. The ground seemed further away than usual. Sam stroked his chin. Stubble? Years had passed since the morning – how could this be?
Somewhere in the distance someone started to sing. The voice had a eerie quality which made the little hairs on the back of Sam’s neck stand up. It was as if the song was just for him and no-
You came into my world and made it new,
You called my name, so sweet, and then I knew
That all I knew of love before that song, had been
But play, until in time I gave my heart to you ?
The verse repeated several times getting louder and closer. Sam closed his eyes, the better to appreciate the beauty of the song. It was in his mind, his heart, his bones, he felt more alive than he had ever felt. He opened his eyes. Standing in front of him was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. She smiled. Raised her face for his kiss. Sam thought she looked like a flower raising its face to the sun. He wrapped his arms around her and whispered “My Love”. She embraced him and laid her blonde head against his chest.
“My Darling, where have you been? Supper’s nearly ready. The children have asked for you to read their bedtime story”.
Sam felt a sudden shift somewhere in his consciousness. The Children! How could he have forgotten The Children! He took a deep breath and smiled.
“Of course, I am sorry to have taken so long. Let’s walk back together.”
The sun began to cool as the evening drew near. Sam walked with the beautiful woman and thought of the strangeness of the day. The names Skye and Roman came to him as they walked towards a small house at the edge of a wood. An elderly woman dressed all in black stood at a wooden gate, and two small children played on the lawn.
“Daddy! Mama! Look, Grandma’s here!” The two children hurled themselves at Sam, and he found himself picking them up, and settling the boy on his shoulders and the girl in his arms.
“Roman, Skye, let Daddy get in, won’t you?” Grandma stepped forward and kissed Sam on his cheek. She gave him a piercing look deep into his eyes which almost hurt. “Lily was getting worried about you, where have you been?”
“Oh, just got a bit caught up and forgot the time – anyway, let’s get you two sorted out!” Sam avoided Grandma’s eyes and ran with the giggling children into the little house. Everything was familiar, everything was safe. Grandma entered the room and stood watching Sam as he played with Roman and Skye while Lily set the table and served the evening meal.
The children’s bedtime came and with it story time. Sam tucked the children into their little beds under the eaves and began to read aloud.
“Once upon a time there was a woodcutter and his wife who lived in a little house on the edge of a wood. They had two beautiful children and were very happy.”
“Just like us Daddy!” chirped little Skye, who then placed her thumb into her mouth.
Sam read on.
“Then one day, a sad event occurred. The children’s beautiful mother went away, and when she returned to the little cottage she was carrying a baby in her arms. She said the baby was going to stay, and the children should love her, and be kind to her and look after her. She was their sister. The children were astonished. They decided that there had been a mistake, and the baby must go back to it’s real parents. They took the baby and hid her in a den in the woods. When the baby cried they ran away and left her. For three days and three nights the parents searched for the baby, then Grandma came to help. Grandma found the baby. She smelled it. She saved it. The baby was angry with the children, and whispered to Grandma. Grandma took the children to her house faraway in the dark, dark wood, and fed them with beetles and slugs until they turned green. Grandma took the green children back to their home and made them look through the window. The fire was glowing in the grate, and the baby was plump and smiling, and bouncing on mummy’s knee. The baby saw the green children, the colour of envy, and went red in the face and screamed loudly. Mummy looked, she did not recognize her children any more so chased them off and drew the curtains. Grandma cackled and bundled the two green children up under her cloak, threw them both into a muddy pond where they became fishes called Gurnards, and were never seen as humans again.”
Roman and Skye were silent and looked at Sam with huge round eyes. Grandma appeared in the doorway of the bedroom. She was wearing her black cloak and a secret smile was playing on her lips. Sam stood, said “Goodnight” and left the room. He did not seem to see Grandma, who had melted into the shadows. The children remained still, their eyes still staring as their father disappeared from view.
Part 2 Swimming Beyond The Boundaries
Roman and Skye slowly pulled the sheets up to cover their faces so they could no longer see the cloaked figure of Grandma standing in the shadows of the bedroom under the eaves and she could no longer see them. The room darkened and rain started to lash against the windows, making them rattle in their metal frames. A crash of thunder heightened the sense of danger which was growing around the children. Skye slid softly out of her bed, pulling the pillow under the sheets in the hope that Grandma, if she was still in the room, would not notice that Skye was no longer in her bed. She silently crept in beside Roman. Both children lay as still as possible with their foreheads touching. Roman passed his thoughts to Skye. “We must leave quickly, we are in peril”.
Skye’s thought went swiftly “I agree. There is no time to waste”.
As one, the children pulled two cloaks from under the bed, wrapped themselves well, and moved towards the open door. The cottage was in darkness, and they pressed their backs to the wall as they crept down the wooden stairs and made their way to the kitchen door. It was unlocked, and Roman and Skye quickly walked outside and towards the woods which bordered the garden. A crack of thunder and a flash of lightning lit the menacing figure of Grandma, in her black cloak, standing before them at the entrance to the wood. She reached out with claw-
Part 3 Going Home
Sam stretched. He heard the stairs in the cottage creak and unfamiliar footsteps crept nearer. He rolled to the side of the bed and slid silently to the floor. It was daybreak and the room was softly lit with the early morning sun. The door opened quietly as two children tiptoed into the room. They stood, looking around, their eyes adjusting to the light. Sam stood. His greying hair was unkempt, and his beard straggled. He felt around his bedside table until his arthritic fingers closed on his wire rimmed spectacles. The children looked at one another in amazement.
Who is this? Is this the Father? Where is the Mother?
The old man was first to speak, in a strong voice which belied his appearance.
So you came back! What did you do with the old woman?
She remains in the wood, and there she will stay. Where is the Mother?
She sleeps. I must go now, you must stay. This is your world, I must return to mine.
With that, Sam began to change, his face became younger, smoother, his muscles once again strong and sinewy. His hair and beard again were those of a younger man. As strength once again flooded through his body, Sam turned to the children and commanded them,
He strode away from the little cottage without a backward glance as he crossed the meadows and fields as quickly as he could. Time was running out, and he looked at the sun to gauge how long he had before darkness fell.
As he walked he felt his body begin to change, his shoes no longer fitted, his clothes were uncomfortably large. He stepped out of the shoes without stopping and, shedding shirt and trousers as he travelled, he realised that he was no longer adult. He picked up speed and ran as fast as he could, pushing through time and space until he could run no longer. He fell to the ground panting for breath. In the distance he saw the clouds darken as a warm wind began to blow. The wind got stronger and Sam rose to his feet. As the sky darkened the wind began to howl and spin, picking up bushes and trees in its path and spinning faster and faster. Sam stood, leaning into the wind, then, terrified, forcing his body forward to meet the vortex. It was upon him, picking him up as if he was nothing and spinning him up, up, up, until he was spinning so fast he felt his lungs would burst. Everything stopped. Sam was at the top of the vortex. In a split second he threw himself forward and grasped the branch of an ancient oak tree, which was mercifully still rooted in the earth. He hung for a moment then dropped to the ground, where he lay, unable to open his eyes for fear of what he might see.
Gradually the fear passed as all seemed still. Sam cautiously raised himself to his knees and looked around. He was in a green field with an abundance of buttercups and daisies. The oak tree towered above him, surrounded by a bramble hedge, it’s branches providing shade from the hot sun. Houses bordered the field and a middle-
” Oh Darling! Thank goodness, you have come back, we’ve been so worried, we thought we had lost you. Skye and Roman have been unable to sleep since you disappeared. We have been looking for you everywhere.”
Two small children emerged from a Wendy House Cottage in which they had been playing. They stared unsmiling at Sam, who then noticed an old woman in the shadows of the house, dressed all in black.
“Grandma, Sam is back. Can we play with him?” The two children spoke in unison as they kept their wide blue eyes on Sam’s face.
“Sso he isss..Oh, yesss, we shall all play with Ssam.” Grandma seemed to hiss as she smiled a secret smile. She beckoned him with long, bony, twig-
Sam felt his mouth open in a silent scream, as he realised his past was now a foreign country. He was trapped, as a fly in the web of a spider.
No Going Back
Part 1 The Strangest Day
Part 2 Swimming Beyond the Boundaries
Part 3 Going Home