Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Stanley's perilous journey

This is the short story I composed for Complimentary studies Creative Writing, hope you enjoy it :)

                                          Stanley's perilous journey

Stanley climbed quickly to the top branch, he could see for miles around him, dense forest below and on every side.

He had lived in this forest since he could remember, he knew every tree trunk like the back of his paw and had all the best hiding places on the forest floor for his food in winter, he played almost everyday with his two best friends Alfie and Evie, running through the forest and playing tricks on the older squirrels.

One day however all that changed, animals started disappearing and trees crashed to the forest floor in a cascade of splintered wood and needles; this was the scene that Stanley looked upon now in his beloved forest.

Birds scattered as yet another one of his friends homes collapsed, more fell everyday and the sounds of splintering trunks were getting closer to Stanley’s Tree. It would only be a matter of time before he would have to admit that his peaceful forest was being overrun by some unstoppable monster.

That night Stanley made up his mind. He was going to get to the root of the problem that was threatening his forest home, he would pack some supplies and ask a few of his friends if they wanted to help him. He thought he could do it on his own but it would probably be a lonely journey and he knew he would miss his friends if he left them behind. He snuggled down in his cozy nest, thinking of the perilous journey ahead of him and how he was going to save his forest.

The morning came too soon; Stanley awoke to find his father preparing a breakfast of nutty oatmeal while his mother was hanging out the week’s washing on a branch in the corner of the room.

‘Daddy?’ Stanley said as he got out of bed and made his way to the kitchen table, ‘I’m leaving home today, I want to find out what is destroying the trees; I don’t think anybody else is going to do it and I love our tree and our forest’

His father looked at him with eyes full of concern, ‘if that’s what you need to do, Stan, then I’m not going to stand in your way, but I will ask that you don’t go alone; the forest is a dangerous place and you’re only a young squirrel. You have no idea of the dangers that lie ahead of you.’
Stan’s mother looked up from what she was doing makingher way over to her son and husband.
‘Give him the map, Gerald; he’ll need it if he’s to survive out there with his friends.’

His father handed him a rolled up piece of parchment, yellowed with age, and tied with a small piece of string. ‘This is a map Stanley, it will lead you to the biggest store of food in this forest. You will need it, we will need it and the whole forest will need it. It is VERY important that you find this, I have a feeling things are going to get worse whilst you’re away.’

Stan packed his things and set off to find Alfie and Evie. As he had hoped they were very excited to help him on his adventure. They said their goodbyes to their families and set off on their adventure.

The first night was the hardest, none of the little squirrels had been away from home for more than a few hours and they jumped and squealed at every little movement and noise. As the darkness crept closer they couldn’t help but imagine what horrors lay in wait behind the trees and in the shadows. They didn’t have to wait long to find out.

From out of the darkness snuffled a strange shape.
‘What is it?’ whispered Evie with a slight tremble to her voice.
Stanley looked harder in midnight gloom, ‘It looks…spikey’ he replied.
From the shadows came a small voice, ‘Please don’t be afraid, I’m just a hedgehog! I come out at night because its safer for me; animals are usually asleep now and I can find things to eat without worrying about being eaten myself.’

‘Well you don’t need to worry, we won’t eat you’, said Alfie.
‘But do you think you could help us? We could use some help getting through the forest at night, and you seem to know your way quite well.’

‘Hmm, yes I think I can help, My name is Brillo’ replied the Hedgehog.

They discussed their plan with Brillo, showing him the map Stanley’s father had given them, and as the night went on he led them through the forest, avoiding fast running rivers, treacherous cliff faces and other dangers that threatened to slow their journey.
As the sun began to rise, Brillo stopped suddenly.
‘Everyone be very quiet and keep very still’, he whispered urgently.
‘Why?’ Stanley whispered back. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Look closely, in that hedge in front of us… a Snake.’
‘Eeek! What shall we do?’ Evie cried; she had heard that snakes liked to eat squirrels for breakfast.
‘Don’t worry Evie, I have a cunning plan!’ exclaimed the Hedgehog.
And, just at that moment, Brillo rolled himself up into a tight spikey ball and hurled himself at the snake!

‘That was brilliant!’ squealed Stanley, the snake had slithered off, mumbling about an unfair fight. Brillo had rolled into him over and over again; the brave hedgehog had lost a few prickles but was otherwise unharmed.

They stopped by a small spring to rest and have a drink. Stanley took out the map, and Alfie leaned over his shoulder to get a better look.
‘Wow! I can’t believe how far we’ve travelled, we’re nearly at the secret nut store!’ Stan’s friend said excitedly.
‘You’re right,’ agreed Brillo, ‘look here, if we just follow this path round and head up that small hill we should reach it by the end of the day. We can start heading back to your forest tomorrow!’
‘But…’ Stanley murmured, ‘but we haven’t found out what’s happening to the forest yet, that was the reason we came here in the first place!’
‘Oh, I completely forget about that, don’t worry - I have a few friends who can help with that problem’, Brillo said confidently.

And with that revelation they continued their journey.

They reached the top of the hill and looked out over the forest, below them was a strange sight indeed; some parts of the forest had completely disappeared. The trees lay on their sides, some had been chopped up and put in huge piles, others had been taken away leaving a blank canvas of forest floor.

‘What happened?’ Breathed Evie, ‘Where have all the animals gone?’
‘That, my dear, is where my plan comes in for saving the forest’

Brillo went on to explain that every animal who had lost their home had been gathering on this hill every night to find a way to bring down the Giant Yellow Monsters that had been taking their trees, and a few nights ago they found a way.

They gathered on the hill, all different animals; there were Squirrels; Owls; and Woodpeckers; even some foxes who had been living under the trees had come along for the meeting.

‘So, this is what we propose to do’, started Brillo  ‘We open this secret store and when the monsters have gone to sleep we choke them with the nuts we find inside. They won’t be able to move, and eventually they’ll give up and die, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, they go a funny brown colour, like the leaves before winter and then they start to fall apart - it gets even worse when it rains!’
 ‘Wait a minute’ said Stanley. ‘What are we going to take back to my family and all the animals in the forest? We can’t survive the winter without food!’

‘Yes, Stanley’s right’ agreed Alfie and Evie together. ‘We have to bring something back’

‘Don’t worry your whiskers about that’, replied Brillo, ‘I’ve covered that problem already’.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Evie.
‘Have you squirrels ever wondered where all of these nuts came from in the first place?’ Brillo asked, looking around at the gathered crowd. ‘Every winter this food store is used to feed all of the tree dwellers, and every year it magically refills itself. Well I know why; I’ve lived in this forest for long enough to know about the Donar Oak’.
‘The what oak?’ the animals chanted.
‘The Donar oak’, Brillo repeated. ‘It’s a magical oak tree, also known as the Tree of Life. It’s constantly in bloom and when the fruit falls from its branches they roll into special chambers dotted around the forest; this is just one of those chambers.’

‘Well where are the other chambers?’ Stanley looked around frantically.

‘Oh dear’, sighed Brillo, ‘You really don’t know do you?’
‘What? Do you know where the other chambers are?’
‘Please tell us!’ begged Alfie and Evie. ‘We need that food!’

‘Now, now’, said the hedgehog. ‘ Don’t get your tail in a twist!, Believe it or not there is a chamber of food just behind your beloved forest; you’ll survive the winter no problem.

A huge cheer went up from the top of the hill, Everything seemed to be going to plan, and all they had to do was choke those horrible monsters that were ruining their forest.

Just before dawn, after the animals had rested and eaten, they gathered together. Each animal had a collection of nuts and sticks all wrapped up in leaves. They headed towards where the monsters slept, climbed up to the feeding holes and dropped the twigs, leaves and nuts into their bellies.

The shouts started a few hours later. The monsters wouldn’t wake up and the men who had come to ride them were very angry. Stanley and his friends sat and watched, broad grins spreading across their faces.

They were even more pleased when they heard one of the men shout :‘This is ridiculous! This is the last day we’ve got before we have to close down for winter! We’ll never get this job finished on time, we’ll just have to pack up and call it a day’.

When the men had left, the animals emerged; everything had gone according to plan.
‘But what happens when those men come back?’ One of the animals said. A ripple of worry went through the crowd.
‘Well, we’ll just have to make sure that when they do we’re ready for them. Brillo said that the chambers are always full, we’ll just have to do the same every year until they give up and move on.’

They all agreed it was a great idea.

One by one the animals of the forest went their separate ways. Some went to find a new tree to live in, others went with friends who had agreed to keep them warm over the coming months.

Stanley and his friends (including Brillo) headed back to the forest. On their way they met many new creatures who had lost their homes to the monsters, they took them home with them and arrived at Stanley’s tree to a huge applause and warm hugs from his family.

Stanley became a hero of the forest, and the secret chamber turned out to be just under his family’s tree; a special knot in the wood opened a hatch and revealed a huge room full of food.

They had the most comfortable winter anyone could remember and it was all thanks to brave friends, courage and the determination of a small squirrel named Stanley.

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