Rated: E · Book · Children's · #1922493
A young boy writes himself an epic adventure...which starts to come true!
Jayden looked down at his list and sighed. Only two creatures? How was he ever going to choose just two creatures? He wanted to meet the Grim Reaper, a centaur, the kraken, the Loch Ness Monster, a leprechaun, a troll, Pegasus, Bigfoot, a yeti, maybe a phoenix and possibly even an angel. Oh, and he'd even thought about meeting Mother Nature. And that didn't take into account the fact that he desperately wanted to see another dragon. Dragons were his favourite after all. He sighed again. How would he choose?
Caitlin eased open the bedroom door and seeing that Jayden was awake, she crept over the floor to the bed, climbing up to sit beside him. She peered over his arm to see what he was writing.
"That's a lot of creatures, Jayden. I thought you were going to choose two, and I was going to choose two." She frowned at him suspiciously.
"I am. You are. I just can't decide."
Caitlin's forehead smoothed out and she looked over his list again. "You've got some good ideas there. I couldn't decide either. I thought about maybe Pegasus, but I already met Equus the unicorn, so I'm not too bothered. A phoenix sounds interesting." She paused to look over his list again. "Oh, an angel. That would be lovely. Who is Mother Nature?"
"Well some cultures believe that she controls nature - so she decides what plants grow or die, whether a tree has fruit on it, she controls the seasons and the weather... That sort of thing."
Caitlin shrugged. "Cross her off, I think there are better ones we could see."
Jayden mimicked Caitlin's shrug and put a line through Mother Nature on his list. "I really really want to meet the Grim Reaper," he said. "So that's definitely one of my choices, I think." He drew a circle around the Grim Reaper on his list. "And I really really want to see another dragon." He sighed. "So I suppose those are my two choices. But there are so many things I would want to see if I could."
Caitlin pursed her lips as she pondered the choices available to her. "Well I would probably choose an angel and either Pegasus or a phoenix." She glanced up at her brother who was looking sadly down at his list. "But it's your journal. I don't really care, as long as you take me along on the adventures. What else would you choose if you got to choose two more?"
Jayden lifted his eyebrows in surprise. "Well, I suppose... I don't know. I thought about doing the Loch Ness Monster and maybe including Callum again. I think the kraken would be difficult because it's a deep sea creature, so although I'd like to see that... Probably Bigfoot?" He looked at Caitlin questioningly.
Caitlin held up four fingers and used one finger on her other hand to tick the creatures off as she listed them. "So the Grim Reaper, another dragon, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot?"
Jayden nodded, waiting for her to agree or disagree.
"I'm not sure I want to see the Grim Reaper. That sounds pretty scary."
"It shouldn't be," Jayden offered thoughtfully. "He doesn't kill people...I don't think. He's not mean or anything. He just takes people who have died, or whose time it is to die, to..." He stopped, unsure of what he was going to say next. "To wherever they go."
Caitlin's eyes widened and she looked up at Jayden. "I don't want to go to hell!" she whispered fearfully.
Jayden patted her on the shoulder. "We won't. I'll be sure to keep the journal safe at all times."
Caitlin didn't look very convinced. "Okay, but if we have room in the journal after we've done all that, I think I'd quite like to meet an angel."
"Okay," Jayden agreed quickly. "We might even be able to keep some of the adventures shorter so we can have a bit of room left in the journal for an angel. Let's get some shoes on, and start the adventures!"
Jayden and Caitlin were watching a friendly bigfoot from a distance. He hadn't seen them yet.
Caitlin's gasp caught Jayden's attention and he quickly looked up to see where the journal had taken them. He glanced up at the tall trees that towered over them. He didn't recognise the trees, but assumed they were probably some American species since he thought bigfoot was only found in America. Was there more than one bigfoot or just one? He wasn't sure. He must remember to ask that if it spoke English. He looked through the trees just ahead of them and saw what Caitlin must have seen - a large, hairy, brown creature that wasn't quite an ape but.... Well, it definitely wasn't human.
"Jayden, what is it doing?" asked Caitlin in confusion. "It looks like...."
Jayden laughed softly under his breath, finding himself just as disbelieving as Caitlin was. "He's carving pumpkins!"
Caitlin sniggered, then clapped a hand over her mouth to try and stifle the noise. She looked at Jayden with mirth sparkling in her eyes and all of a sudden they both burst out with laughter. Great peals of hilarity rang through the trees and Caitlin leaned one hand on a tree and rested the other on her stomach as she laughed.
"Pumpkins!" she chortled.
"You said 'It looks like' and then I said 'He's carving pumpkins!'" Jayden giggled, recounting the moment just for additional hilarity.
Caitlin laughed again, all thoughts of hiding or keeping silent forgotten as her laughter travelled well beyond the small space where they stood. She laughed with her whole body, mouth wide open and shoulders shaking.
Jayden found her laughter infectious and rested his hands on his waist as he tried to calm himself down.
"Hello," boomed a voice from not very far away at all. The children both jumped, startled, and looked at the bigfoot that was standing just a few metres away.
"My name's Brian," the creature said.
Caitlin's mouth curved and her breathing quickened. She tried not to catch Jayden's eye, but she couldn't help herself and before they quite knew what they were doing, both children were rolling on the leafy ground, laughing uncontrollably.
"Brian!" spluttered Caitlin.
"I know!" gasped Jayden.
The creature stood over the two children, waiting patiently for their giggles to subside.
Finally Caitlin sat up and as she caught sight of the two large, hairy, brown feet she remembered their audience.
"Jayden!" she whispered, elbowing him in the side. "It's bigfoot!"
"I know!" he replied with an amused look. "Brian the bigfoot!"
Caitlin couldn't help herself from giggling again.
"I don't understand what's so funny," commented Brian.
Jayden tried to shrug, but his shoulders were still shaking with laughter. "You're a bigfoot named Brian and you carve pumpkins." He snorted accidentally, which sent Caitlin off into peals of laughter again.
It took some time before both children quieted. By that time, all three were sitting on the ground, resting their backs against the bases of three tall trees. Brian, the bigfoot, had gone back to the clearing to grab the pumpkin he had been working on and was sitting quietly carving it while he waited for the two children to collect themselves.
Jayden sighed as he rested his head back against the rough bark. "Sorry Brian," he offered. "We didn't mean to laugh at you."
"No problem at all," the creature replied. "It didn't bother me. Usually people shout or scream, they very rarely laugh. I don't hear laughter much. Have you not seen a sasquatch before?"
"No," Jayden replied, shaking his head. "Is that what you call yourself? Sasquatch, not bigfoot?"
"I call myself Brian," replied the creature. "But I do have big feet!" He wriggled his toes to emphasise his point.
"Yup, you do. You're pretty tall too. Maybe twice as tall as me."
"Yeah, I'm taller than most humans. Bigger and stronger too. They're all scared of me, or want to attack me, but you two don't seem to be scared at all."
Caitlin piped up with an answer to that one. "Jayden wrote that you were friendly, so we knew you were nice."
"He wrote it? Where did he write it? I don't understand."
"In his journal. It's a magic journal. That's how we got here. We were sitting in his bedroom and he wrote that we were looking at a friendly bigfoot and then we were here," Caitlin explained.
Brian's mouth fell open and Jayden thought that if he weren't quite so hairy, he'd probably have looked surprised. "A magic journal? Groovy."
Caitlin and Jayden looked at each other, then back at Brian.
"Um, groovy?" asked Jayden. "Isn't that like some saying from the 1960s? Are you really old?"
The bigfoot looked angry, and Jayden was a bit worried for a moment until Brian burst out with "Old?! The 1960s were not that long ago!! And for your information groovy is a very cool word!"
Jayden laughed. "Cool is a cool word. Groovy is a word for old people."
"Just to set the record straight here," said Brian, "I was not alive in the 1960s and am not even 40 years old yet, thank you very much, but I still say groovy is a cool word." Brian paused for a moment, eyeing Jayden's look of disbelief. "Maybe it's because you're not American. Where are you from?"
"New Zealand," said Caitlin. "I don't think they say groovy in New Zealand."
"Perhaps not," allowed Brian. "You could start a new trend - start saying it and everyone will follow."
"Maybe." Jayden didn't look convinced.
"What words do they use in New Zealand then?" asked Brian. "Except for cool."
"Oh, well we say sweet as most of the time," said Jayden.
"Sweet? I use sweet sometimes too. Like 'Sweet! I found a perfect pumpkin!' Like that?" asked Brian.
Jayden frowned at him. "Not sweet. Sweet as. Like 'I found a perfect pumpkin! Sweet as!' Or maybe 'This pumpkin is sweet as'. Why do you carve pumpkins? I've never heard of bigfoots, I mean bigfeet, I mean...' Jayden shook his head, confused.
Caitlin laughed at him. "Bigfeet! That's funny!"
"I think the plural is bigfoots," suggested Brian. "Just say sasquatch instead. That's the term I prefer."
"Okay," Jayden nodded his head. "Sasquatch. I've never heard of a sasquatch carving pumpkins before."
"Do you know a lot about them?" asked Brian meaningfully.
"Um, no," replied Jayden.
"So... Now you know that it is entirely possible for a sasquatch to carve pumpkins. I admit though, I don't know if any other sasquatch does it. It might just be me. I've never met another sasquatch. I'm not even sure if there are any others."
"Why do you carve them?" asked Caitlin curiously.
"Why not? They look good. Don't they carve pumpkins in New Zealand?"
Caitlin shrugged her shoulders and looked to Jayden to answer.
"Not really," said Jayden. "I don't think so. Is it for Halloween? Halloween isn't really a big thing in New Zealand."
"Well I don't really celebrate Halloween either," commented Brian, looking down at the pumpkin he continued to work on. "What would I dress up as?"
Jayden and Caitlin both laughed.
"You could be a superhero!" suggested Caitlin. "You could wear a blue cape or something."
"Or a zombie!" laughed Brian, his wide mouth grinning at the two children. "No, I'm fine just as me. Most people are scared of me as it is, I don't need any more drama." He thought for a moment, then added "I've done some carvings of superheroes on pumpkins before though. I carve things I see on billboards or maybe on litter that I find. Sometimes campers leave comic books and things that I get to look at. So where did you get this magic journal from?"
"Can you read then?" asked Jayden, astonished.
"No, I can't read, but I'm pretty sneaky and I often listen in to the campers talking. Most of them never even know I'm there. And I'm fast at getting away if they do spot me, and they can never prove it was me."
Jayden went to say something, but Brian continued before he could get a word in.
"Also, I listen to them when they find my pumpkins. I carve the flying guy with the red cape and someone finds the pumpkin and goes "Oh look, it's so-and-so!"
"That probably explains why you sound like a normal American person too," advised Jayden knowledgeably.
Brian laughed. "Lots of Americans sound different - it depends on what part of America they come from, but you're right. I learnt to talk by listening to people and copying what they said. So where did you get this magic journal from?" he asked again.
"Oh, I bought it at a market with my mum."
"Really? Was it a magical market?" asked Brian.
"No," Jayden replied. "Just a normal market. I didn't know it was magical when I bought it."
"How strange," said Brian. "Mind if I have a look?"
Caitlin passed the journal to Brian and he gave her a funny look.
"You're very trusting. What if I ran away with the journal now? You'd never get it back."
Caitlin's eyes widened with horror and she snatched the book back out of his hands. "You can't do that!" she protested. "We wouldn't be able to get home!" Her lip quivered at the idea of being stuck in a strange place, far away from her parents for the rest of...forever.
"I won't, but you do need to be more careful. Now, I think I proved that I'm not going to run away with it. Can I have a look now?"
"No!" said Caitlin stubbornly, pouting her lip. "No one except me and Jayden are going to touch it."
"Ah well, I deserved that I suppose," replied Brian. He leaned forward and shifted on the leafy ground before resettling himself back against the trunk of the tree.
Jayden looked at the pumpkin Brian was carving. "What's that picture going to be?" he asked curiously, craning his neck to try and see the pumpkin more clearly.
Brian twisted the pumpkin on his lap to face Jayden. "It's an O. For Ohio."
"What's an Ohio?" asked Caitlin, squinting as she tried to make out the image.
Brian laughed in surprise. "Ohio is a place. It's a state in America. We're in Ohio right now."
"Oh!" said Caitlin in surprise. "Okay."
"You're pretty good at carving pumpkins," commented Jayden. "It's hard to tell what it will look like now but people I've seen do it use a big knife and just cut out eyes and a nose and a mouth."
Brian lifted the chisel he was using and waved it in the air. "This is much better. Much more delicate than a great big knife and does a better job. See," he said, pointing to various parts he'd carved on the pumpkin, "if you go all the way through it just shows the colour of the flame, bright orange. But if you just chisel partway through, you get a softer glow. And the parts you don't take off at all, where the skin is, will show black at night. So if you use a chisel or something small to carve carefully, you can make shades of orange instead of just orange and black, and you get a much better picture. A much better pumpkin."
The children both nodded and Brian went back to work on his pumpkin. Small bits of orange pumpkin skin and flesh clung to the hairs on his legs and littered the forest floor around him.
"You talk pretty well for someone who learnt how to talk by listening to other people," said Jayden. "Are we the first humans you've ever talked to?"
Brian shook his large head, not looking up from his work. "No. There's an old man who lives alone in this forest and I talk to him a lot. Fred's not afraid of me. Everyone says he's crazy, but I think he just got sick of people. Of course, if he ever told them he had conversations with a sasquatch, they'd definitely think he was crazy."
Jayden laughed. "Yeah, our mum didn't believe Caitie when she was telling her about our first adventure to see a taniwha. That's a New Zealand dragon," he said. "We don't tell her now."
Brian nodded. "Yeah, that's the probably the best thing to do. You should be careful though. You two could get into trouble by yourselves. What if I really had run away with the book?" He lifted his head and looked intently at the two children. "I don't know how it works, but it wouldn't be good if you lost it. And imagine what someone who was bad or evil could do with it. Not good at all," he muttered as he bent his head to his task again.
Jayden made a face at Caitlin. The creature was right, but... The only way to be absolutely sure that didn't happen was to avoid using the journal altogether. Then they'd never have any adventures. That didn't sound like fun at all.
"We do try and write 'a friendly bigfoot' or 'a friendly mermaid'," said Jayden. "I'm not sure what else we can do, except not have any adventures at all."
"No, perhaps not. You could take an adult with you, but that would make it difficult I guess. Adults just don't have the imagination that kids do, do they?"
Jayden smiled in reply.
Caitlin looked up at the sunlight filtering through the leaves high above them. "Jayden, we should probably be going. Otherwise we'll use too many pages. Plus, I'm getting hungry."
"Yeah, okay." Jayden stood and brushed the leaves off his pants. He held out a hand to Brian. "It was nice to meet you. Thank you for talking to us and showing us your pumpkin," he said politely.
Brian reached out one enormous hand and shook Jayden's hand.
Caitlin politely extended her hand too and the hairy hand engulfed hers, the fingers reaching practically to her elbow. She giggled. "Goodbye Brian. Nice meeting you."
"Goodbye children. I hope you have many safe adventures. Feel free to come back anytime."
Jayden reached in his pocket for the pen and held out his hand for the journal Caitlin was holding. She passed it to him and he quickly wrote a single line.
Caitlin and Jayden were back home.
There didn't seem much point in writing more. He reached out and put the journal and pen on his dresser, only vaguely registering that they were indeed back in his bedroom.
"Right," he said, standing up and stretching. "Let's have some breakfast. Tomorrow I think we'll go and see the Grim Reaper." Caitlin made a face, but followed him out his bedroom door.