Unfinished symphony, p.8

Unfinished Symphony, page 8

 

Unfinished Symphony
 


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  Polly was enveloped by a cloud of colour. It reached up and around her, holding her in its warm embrace, and all around her was music. A soft lullaby was whispered into her ears and she closed her eyes. The cloud of colour and music floated to the bottom of the well and Polly was rested gently on the floor, her mother’s lap cradling her head as she continued to sing. Gentle snores like the soft purr of a cat echoed off the walls of the well.

  #

  Abaddon crossed the moving, squealing, squelching bridge and walked into the tunnel they had fled down. This way led to the well of sorrows, he chuckled, a dead end indeed. All around him the rats scrambled and climbed, weaving in and out of his feet, chattering incessantly and praising the return of their master.

  All along the walls streamers of colour hung, fragments of her song. His hand reached out and he brushed them, releasing tiny notes of joy, hate, sadness. Emotions that whet his appetite. Abaddon lifted his hand to his mouth and tasted the residue.

  The tunnel started to widen and opened out into a circular room and in the centre stood the well of sorrows. Pausing on the threshold he closed his eyes. Opening them slowly he looked around the circular room. They were nowhere to be seen, they must be cowering behind the well. He would take care of the meddlesome Pooka first. Reaching into his jacket he removed his violin and knelt on the floor.

  The giant rat waddled up alongside him and Abaddon nodded at the well. The giant rat squealed his instructions and sent forward a wave of his finest troops. They raced towards the well and around it, appearing on the other side. Abaddon stood and charged towards the well. Empty. The room was empty.

  The army of rats had formed a barrier, too frightened to approach the old stone well. Abaddon laughed at the rats and their pathetic fear. He walked inside the cordon, his hand caressing the lip of the well. He reached forward and struck the wooden bucket hanging over the dark abyss. The well held no fear for him.

  #

  He watched his brother and sister rats scrambling for the attention of the Master-who-had-returned. He licked his paw and cleaned his face, watching, always watching. Small, he knew his cunning was his strength. He watched as the giant rat, One-eye, approached the Master-who-had- returned. One-eye listened and then waddled his bloated form towards him breaking through the cordon of rats, attacking any who were too slow or too bold to move, cementing his position as leader.

  The small cunning rat lowered his head in subjugation as One-eye passed in front of him and then, he squeaked in anger as he felt teeth bite into his pink tail. The small cunning rat turned, searching for his assailant, and when he turned back to the front, One-eye sat in front of him, angry at his insolence. The small cunning rat rolled, exposing his belly, showing he posed no threat.

  Rolling back onto his feet he lowered his head, One-eye lashed out with his claw, scouring a deep ravine which filled with blood. The small cunning rat bared his teeth and hissed, backing away from the giant rat, retreating into the anonymity of the crowd.

  When he was a safe distance away he began to lick and clean his wound. He watched the giant rat climb atop a large boulder and stand on his haunches, preparing to address his restless army. The noise increased as the rats chittered their approval.

  From his new position the small cunning rat watched the master-who-had-returned vault over the lip of the well. There was a flash of colour as he was repelled from the stone circle and he flew high above the ground. The small cunning rat began to laugh. One-eye dropped onto his padded feet and barred his teeth. The laughter increased as a shadow like a black spotlight formed around One-eye.

  The small cunning rat watched One-eye turn and look up. The Master-who-had-returned was flying through the air, the Master-who-had-returned was upside down, and the Master-who-had-returned was about to land.

  One-eye tried to move his enormous bulk, his sluggish legs unable to react. He felt the enormous weight crash down and the wind left his body at the same time as his tiny warped soul. He felt himself being dragged towards the Well-of-Sorrows, he looked back at his army of twittering, chattering rats and there, laughing the loudest, was the small cunning rat.

  Chapter 14

  Polly opened her eyes and as they adjusted to the gloom, she could hear the sound of rats, thousands of rats. She sat up and looked around, she was at the bottom of the well and she was alone. Polly could only see one way out, a small doorway cut into the side of the well.

  Polly stood up in the well and stretched her hands upwards, she felt remarkably good, quite refreshed in fact, if a little hungry. A blue mist swirled all around the well and Polly remembered fragments of falling, of meeting her mother, impossible dreams. Deciding to leave the cave she bent over and squeezed through the small doorway to be greeted by the sight of Robin returning, his arms laden with mushrooms.

  “I see you is awake Miss Polly” Robin said offering her a mushroom. “We should sit a while and eat, I’m afraid I couldn’t find any worms so these here mushrooms will have to be doing us.”

  “I don’t think we have much time. I could hear the rats and Abaddon is probably up there with them.”

  “Polly my dear, don’t you fret. Whilst you were sleeping that foul ‘orrrible creature tried to climb down and did you see that blue mist? It threw him right back out, it was most amusing and tickled me no end. It keeps on flashing blue and I don’t thinks he want to be tangling with that kind of magic. You don’t think I would have left you alone and in danger? That’s not Robin’s way” he said handing Polly the largest of the mushrooms he had found.

  Polly dusted the dirt off with her fingers and then took a bite, her hunger overcoming her disgust. It wasn’t too bad, it tasted a bit earthy but it was better than eating worms. She swallowed down the spongy fungus and then refused when Robin offered her another one. Patting her stomach to demonstrate how full she was.

  The cave was illuminated by a brilliant flash of blue, the face of the rock twinkled with a thousand stars and Polly smiled. She shook her head, here she was miles under the surface of the earth eating mushrooms with a shape shifting midget while being protected from an evil villain by a magic well. She had always dreamed of having adventures but she never imagined they would be so ridiculous.

  “So what do we do now Robin? You must have a plan.”

  “Of course I do. The only way is onwards but not upwards. We must be onwards and downwards. You see I’ve been squeezing me noggin and we need to be going along the path to perdition.”

  “The path to perdition” Polly repeated. She didn’t like the sound of that.

  “Now don’t you worry, you ain’t murdered anyone has you? You should be okay I thinks and as for me, I am sinless” he said standing up straight and puffing out his chest with obvious pride. “Anyways once we have passed travelled down the path to perdition, hang on, do you think I should say that in a spooky voice?”

  “The path to perdition” he repeated lowering his voice and smiling with menace. His deep raspy voice echoed off the walls and reverberated up through the old well, reaching the ears of those above.

  “The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition.”

  It continued to echo and bounce around the tunnel and the well. Polly shook her head, so much for their plan of escape.

  “Sorry” Robin whispered afraid of starting another avalanche of sound.

  “You might not have any sins Robin but it would be nice if you came with a brain”

  Robin looked up at her, he clasped his hands together in front of him. His eyes swelled to twice their size, his eyelashes sprouted out and swished as he blinked. He looked like a love sick toad, Polly laughed and grabbed him by the hand. She led him away from the well with the sound of their intentions echoing all around them.

  “The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The pa
th to perdition.”

  “You know what Miss Polly” Robin said with a wink, tapping the side of his head “I wanted him to follow us. See, it’s not all sawdust up inside my ole noggin.”

  Chapter 15

  “The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition. The path to perdition.”

  Abaddon sat up as the echo summoned him back to consciousness. He held his hand up to his head, it throbbed and ached from where it had struck the floor. All around him rats scurried, he reached out, picking one up by the pink tail. He placed it in the cup of his hand and kissed the hairy snout.

  “My beautiful friend” he said caressing the rat under his chin “Those fools are going down the path to perdition. That way leads only to death for there is no escape.”

  The rat squeaked back as Abaddon ran his tongue over his foul and rotten teeth. His finger ran the full length of the rat’s body and then, taking hold of the wiggling pink tail, he flung the rat towards the well. There was a flash of blue and the rat flew back. Abaddon plucked it from the sky as the delightful aroma of cooked flesh and singed hair filled the air. He raised the rat towards his mouth and, savouring the smell of barbequed meat, he bit down. He heard the crunch of the tiny ribs as they gave way to his powerful jaws and he felt the juices run down his chin. His teeth ground up bone and muscle and finally he slurped down the pink tail which wriggled and bounced like a stray strand of spaghetti.

  Abaddon climbed to his feet and cleared his throat; the army of rats stopped their fighting and frolicking and ceased their play. As one, they turned towards their master. He clapped his hands once and the rats formed into two columns, facing each other. Abaddon stood in a clear path flanked on both sides by his eager rats. The path ran down the middle to the old stone well, dividing his army.

  Abaddon looked at the old well as silence filled the cave; the only sound was the creak of the water bucket as it swung gently on the timbre supports.

  Abaddon clapped again and the rats turned, showing their backsides to the opposite flank. He clapped again and the rats leaned forward onto their front paws, they raised their hind legs and as one they slammed them down on the ground.

  BOOM.

  The rats scrapped their claws along the floor as their feet returned to the starting position, they raised their legs again and slammed them down.

  SCRAPE. BOOM.

  The rats further down the corridor joined in scratching their claws on the ground.

  SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE. SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE.

  SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE. SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE.

  SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE. SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE.

  Abaddon reached into the folds of his jacket and pulled forth his violin. He began to play as he walked up the corridor the rats formed, his very own guard of honour. Colours began to rise out of his violin. Dark colours, indigo, violet, deep green, black. The colours swirled around him darting in and out his feet like playful kittens.

  The colours began to take shape. First they resembled a cat; flexing its claws and baring its teeth it hissed at the well. The cats face stretched and it became a fox that skulked low to the ground and as it sunk to the floor, arms protruded from the side and the head shrunk as it changed into a spider scurrying. The arms vanished back into the sides and the body elongated, finishing in a large snout filled with teeth. Its long leathery tail flicked out behind it, slamming the floor. The lizard prowled towards the well and Abaddon stopped.

  SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE. SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE.

  SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE. SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE.

  SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE. SCRATCH, SCRATCH. BOOM. SCRAPE.

  The noise filled the cavern as the giant lizard reached the edge of the well, it reared up and placed its front paws on the lip of the well. The violin played faster and faster and the rats began to reach a crescendo as they scraped the floor of the cavern, the excited squeaks adding to the cacophony.

  The lizard began to crawl over the edge of the well, all four paws were clasping the edge of the well as it circled around. Its snout pushed into the darkness of the well and it began to climb down, paw after paw. A flash of colour illuminated the cave as the sound of a thousand voices echoed from the well, drowning out the sound of the violin and rats.

  A large eagle erupted from the well, seizing the lizard in its sharp talons it continued to ascend to the top of the cave. The lizard roared and turned its giant head, snapping its jaws at the eagles exposed underbelly. The eagle released the lizard, it dropped and landed amongst the rats, squashing and flattening those two slow to react.

  The eagle soared around the cavern, preparing to attack the lizard. It opened its beak and let out a piercing sound, the sound of a thousand voices, a thousand souls drilled into the skulls of the rats. The rats stopped slapping the floor and began to flee out of the cavern, trampling over one another in their haste, desperate to distance themselves from the sound.

  Abaddon dropped his violin as he covered his ears. He looked up, fear twisting his face into an unrecognisable mask. The eagle dived, its wings pulled back for momentum and Abaddon dropped to his knees as his eyes focused on the sharp beak and talons that raced towards him.

  The wounded lizard jumped in front of Abaddon, light and sound filled the cavern as they met, teeth and claws snapping, tearing and biting.

  Abaddon seized the opportunity and stood on shaky legs, he ran like a puppet on a string and bounded over the lip of the well. His body hit the rope and his knee crashed into the bucket. He held onto the rope and wrapped his legs around the bucket, his momentum swinging him into the side of the well as it began to drop down the dark hole. He bounced back and forth, the old rope slowing his descent. With a judder he stopped, the rope had reached its limit.

  Abaddon grasped onto the rope, frightened to let go, unsure of how far he would fall. He tried to gaze down but any movement he made turned him into a pendulum swinging wildly. His hands began to tire and burn as they slipped down the rope. He tried to lift his body and place his feet in the hanging bucket. His arms had no strength, he swung his leg, trying to hook it around the bucket but the momentum caused him to swing and losing his grip he fell. Two feet. He fell two feet and before a scream could even escape his back struck the floor of the well, knocking the wind out of him.

  The bucket swung above his head, dancing back and forth and he laughed. He laughed so hard his stomach hurt, he laughed so hard snot bubbled out of his large nose, he laughed so hard because he knew it was over. There was no escape.

  Chapter 16

  The two friends walked down a long thin passageway that twisted and turned as it rose up and down. The sound of the battle above still echoed in their ears and they decided it would be prudent to hasten their journey. Robin transformed himself into the large black cat and Polly climbed onto his back. He started walking with Polly on his back and once she had the measure of his loping gait he began to increase the speed, first to a canter and then to a sprint.

  They hurtled down the passageway and Polly clung on tight as the cold damp air rushed over her body, her hair streaming out behind her like a black ghost struggling to hold on. The tunnel was a blur as Robin, in his new shape, bounded over rocks and crevices with the precision of a mountain goat.

  “Robin” she shouted but her words were lost on the wind. “Robin Goodfellow.”

  “Yes” Polly felt more than heard the giant cat as he answered her with a purr.

  “Do we need to go so fast?” she shouted and looked up, immediately regretting it. The sharp edges protruding from the roof of the cave were heading straight for her head only for Robin to change direction at the last minute. Polly was about to bury her head in the nape of the large cat when she felt her face brush into the silky spongy thread of a spiders web. She pursed her lips and began to blow, trying to rid herself of the web that
clung to her face. Her eyes crossed as she felt something climbing up her nose. A fat spider waddled into view and stopped content to sit there and make a new home of Polly’s nose.

  Polly started to blow frantically and her eyes began to ache from focusing on the spider. The spider turned and seemed to shake his head, berating her for destroying his home. The spider then ejected a silk parachute from his backside and took flight leaving Polly with an itchy but relieved nose. She buried her face into Robin’s back and rubbed her face, trying to remove the itch with his coarse fur.

  “Hey, don’t you be wiping your snoozer on my back” growled Robin Goodfellow.

  “Can’t you slow down?” she shouted again.

  Robin slammed his paws into the ground and they came skidding to a halt, for a brief second they vanished in a cloud of smoke that was churned up from the floor of the cave.

  “We’re here” Robin stated.

  Polly climbed down off his back and stretched her legs, her hands reached for her nose and scratched away the itch left by the bemused spider. Robin began to transform himself and Polly looked around at the walls of the cave. A luminous green glow radiated from the stone walls, as her hand reached forward the section of the wall glowed orange in anticipation of her touch. She could feel the heat emanating off the wall and he body began to tingle, chasing away the cold dark air from the cave. She pulled her hand away and watched the colours change back to their natural green colour and she felt the cold seep back into her weary bones.

  Polly lifted her hand again towards the rock face and she could feel the warmth spreading up her arm. She took a step forward and her hand came to rest on the wall. The heat spread around her body and she felt light headed, she turned to look for Robin, her eyes heavy and unable to focus.

 
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