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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jack's Gremlins

As we entered the forest, the trail blanketed in the rich colors of Autumn welcoming us, the air thick, a dense fog rising over the path here where it parallels the creek.  Sunlight reflecting off the fog, almost fluorescent, to the right of the path at the clearing where the springs rise between the boulders, caressing, then gently falling over the front, dropping into the wider pool area hidden just beyond the low bushes that run along the path.   As the warm air touches down upon the cold water of the springs, steam billows upward creating the dense fog drifting over us as we pass by.   It seems almost mystical, as if somewhere further up the trail, there might be another sort of a world, waiting to welcome us to this magical land where dreams just might become...

photo prompt from Creative Writing Ink

Jack trails behind picking up a stone here, a twisted piece of wood there, metal with a small rainbow crossing it's center... little prizes, relics collected and stuffed into the pockets of his jeans, hanging loosely on his small frame.   The right leg ripped just below the knee on the outer part, there is a scab where he fell and tore his pants yesterday.  His shirt just as scruffy looking, covered already with the morning dust, a red smear from his jelly toast across the left sleeve, and the old stain from the warm cocoa he spilled down the front of himself last week when Toby jumped up to his lap trying to share the drink with him.  Toby darts back and forth between us, checking on Jack, exploring the brush along the side of the trail and running ahead, insuring the trail is okay for us to proceed.  Her reddish brown fur glimmers as a small ray of sunlight breaks through the fog where she nudges her muzzle through the bushes to take a long drink from the icy cold pool near the springs.  It seems so strange how when Toby's fur becomes damp from the thick air and dewdrops on the bushes, it darkens, almost to the auburn color of the mop on Jack's head.  Jack's curls look like chocolate swirled, hanging loosely against the tan shirt draped over his tiny shoulders.

Suddenly, a short distance ahead, Toby stops, her ears go up, head tilted... dropping her snout to the grass along the left side of the trail, sniffing.  Toby continues to be in her alert stance, she raises her head and looks in my direction with those big brown eyes, then looks back toward the trees, ears tall, turning, listening for another sound.   She trots further up the trail near the bend, darting between the tall trees and out of sight...  "Toby... Toby come!" I shout for her.  I hear Jack back behind me, "Aw, she's just looking for the gremlins."   I turn back toward Jack, "What?"  I don't see Jack on the trail behind, concerned I start walking in that direction, but again yell, "Toby come."  Jack continues, "...the gremlins that come before the ogre.  You know, the one I told you about.... the ogre that comes in the night from the trees next to the house," his voice going to a more of a squeak, then I hear the splash as he falls into the pool now just beyond the boulders and bushes.  "Jack, are you okay?" I yell.  "Yeah, I just slipped, I'm alright."  Jack appears from the small opening in between the bushes, his clothes wet up to his chest area, draped tight against his small body.  "Go find Toby, I'm okay."

I turn and quickly move up the trail in the direction I last saw Toby, continuing to call, "Toby come... Toby!"  As I just start to round the bend, near the trees where Toby darted off the trail, there stands Angelica.  Toby standing next to her, looking at me with softer, sorry looking brown eyes, her tail swishing from side to side in the tall grass.  I turn and yell back to Jack, "I found her."  Jack answers with a quiver in his voice, "Did she bring you one of the gremlins?"  "No gremlins Jack," I answer and turn back to face Angelica.  She looks beautiful today, her long blond hair rests on her shoulders, covering the top of her sky blue dress that flows downward, to maybe halfway between her knees and her bare feet.  Her skin pale, the sun peaking through the fog, the trees, shining a small ray almost through her.  The ray highlighting the thick air around her, almost like a light glowing behind her beauty.  "Sorry, she must have heard me coming from the other side," says Angelica.  "Is Jack alright?  I heard a splash,"  she continues.  "Yes, he just fell in again... he's okay," I answer.  "Good morning.  How are you?  I missed you last night....," I ramble out the words in my excitement to see my friend.  The nights always seem so long when we don't get to play, visit during those endless dark hours.

Angelica steps from the tall grass and clasps my hand in hers, turning, we begin again to walk up the trail.  I holler back to Jack, "Are you coming Jack?  I found Toby, let's go..."  I faintly hear Jack respond, "I'm coming, just wait tho, I found an ouwglass and another..."  Toby trots up behind and to my right, tail still swishing, she looks up at me with her big brown eyes, then trots on ahead.  From behind me I hear Jack ask, "Are you sure she didn't bring the gremlins with her?"  coughing at the end of his question.  I answer back, "No Jack, no gremlins with her."  As we continue to walk up the trail, I talk with Angelica about everything... school, my classes, the other kids, and how it seems like forever since I saw her last, even though it was just yesterday afternoon when Toby and her met us outside the schoolyard and we all walked home together through the forest.  As we walked and talked, I could hear the scuffle of Jack's shoes through the leaves and dirt of the trail behind us, a periodic cough and the faint tinkling splash of a rock or stick landing in the creek.  Toby was still darting back to where Jack was behind us, then running through the grass and trees, coming back out to the trail ahead, checking and running back to me. 

About the time that I reached the wooden fence that separates the forest, the bushes from the plush green grass of the schoolyard, my friend and I were talking about seeing each other later.  Again I heard Jack behind in the distance coughing.  Toby, now walking along side me, went slinking through the small opening in the bushes, her tail turning up, then disappearing.  I take the ten or so steps up to the end of the bushes and the wooden fence separating the forest, it's trail and the plush green grass.  Toby lays down there near the end, between the bushes and the fence, as I pull off my backpack and set it on the ground in front of the opening.  I reach into the pack and pull her bone out and lay it on the ground, near her front paws, crossed just over each other, her head now resting there.  I reach to pet her head and tell her, "Toby stay, be good girl and stay or go home."  I turn looking back down the trail saying, "Jack, let's go, we're going to be late."  Then I again kneel at the end of the bushes and tell her, "Toby you have to stay here or go home."  Angelica responds, "Don't worry, I will see that he gets home for you." 

Jack finally catches up and we begin to walk through the opening in the wooden fence, and I place my hand on his shoulder.  I can feel him shivering as we cross the schoolyard.  I tell him, "We need to stop at the nurse's office so you can change your clothes, you're soaked."  Jack starts to object, "But I don't..."  Interrupting, I say, "Remember, this is why she has the clothes in her office, so if you need to, you can change."  We enter the building and head down the long hallway.  When we come to the open door of Nurse Linda's office, the first door down on the right, I knock as we walk in.   

Nurse Linda is sitting at the desk across from the door, she turns to look who is here, a big broad smile forming.  "Not again Jack, you're soaked," she says as she rises from the black desk chair.  Nurse Linda walks over to the cabinets along the wall, and I reach down and start to pull the wet shirt off.  Jack fumbles with one of his found relics when the sleeve pulls over his hand.    There is a large purple and bluish area covering most of his stomach on the right side with a lump in the center.  Up near his shoulder is a dark purple dot.  Stunned, I ask, "Did you hit the rocks when you fell?"  Hearing my question, Nurse Linda looks in our direction as she pulls the backpack of his clothes out of the tall cabinet and I hear a muffled gasp.  She immediately calls out, "Becky come here."  Becky is one of the older girls, maybe sixth grade, who helps out in the office.  The nurse quickly moves across to us placing her hands on Jack's shoulders and gently turning him to face her.  Jack objects, "My ouwglass, be careful...." and begins coughing again.  The cough sounds deeper now, wet.  When Becky comes to the door behind the desk area, Linda says, "Go tell Mrs. Bleeker to call 911 and to come help me, we need to call social services.  Go."  Becky's mouth dropped open as she turned and moved from the doorway. 

With Jack facing the nurse, I now saw the oblong bright red mark with blisters near the 4 small purple dots just below his shoulder.  Further down near his waist is a greyish blue area speckled with yellowish color, a brownish mark almost identical to the red one at the shoulder, the same oblong shape.  Nurse Linda asks, "Jack, who did this to you?"  Jack holds up the relic to the light shining in from the window, the dark wood cabinet grain beyond.  The white sand shows fluorescent, almost the same white as the fog with the sun rays earlier on the forest trail.... 

from Magpie Tales #32
Jack answers, "The ogre that comes after the gremlins at night..."  Frustrated, I interrupt, "Jack, no gremlins, not now...what happened?  What hurt your stomach?"  Nurse Linda looks over to me, nodding for me to stop.  She suggests, "Why don't you go see if Becky found Mrs. Bleeker."  She is assisting Jack with removing his wet pants, and now sees the scab on his knee.  Jack coughs again, still the deep, wet sounding cough.  Just then, Mrs. Bleeker comes around the doorway, and again there is a muffled gasp.  She too rushes over to Jack, then hesitates gaining composure and asks, "Jack what happened, you look all wet?  Did you fall?"   Mrs. Bleeker indicates to Nurse Linda that she has called 911 and then suggests, "Why don't you come and help me so we can get help for Jack..."  Mrs. Bleeker places her arm around my shoulders and guides me out of the room.  As we get far enough away, when Jack won't hear, she asks, "What happened?  How did he get all those bruises?  How long has he had that cough?"  She hits me with an endless barrage of questions.  "What did he mean gremlins?  Where is your father?  Do you know if he went to work today?"  My mind now racing to Jack, to the forest trail as we walked to school, racing, searching for the answers to her questions.  She led me to the big brown comfortable chair across the desk from hers. 

I don't even know now, if I answered any... of her questions.  Sitting in the chair, I heard a clanking noise and looked to the doorway, a bed on wheels, Jack lying there, some kind of mask over his face.  The white fluorescent sand catching my eye as he held it in the air above the mask.  The strange bed moved quickly past the door, a man in a big yellow jacket walking behind.  My mind continued to race, searching the mornings happenings....  hearing the things Jack said as we walked the long trail.  Hearing Angelica,  "Don't worry, I will see that he gets home for you....  Sorry, she must have heard me coming from the other side."


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I've linked this tale to two sites, I hope you don't mind.  If you enjoyed this tale, please go visit Willow at her Magpie Tales, and then stop by over at Olive O'Brien's Creative Writing Ink to see more inspired thoughts. Here are the links for both sites which provided the above photo prompts:

14 comments:

gautami tripathy said...

I enjoyed reading this. Great piece of writing...

timeless flies search for fries

kathew said...

great read for my early morning - I look forward to your next installment. There will be another-right!

Tumblewords: said...

Intriguing tale, to be sure!

Kristen Haskell said...

I am also intrigued and will look forward to another installment.

Abhilasha-The Desire said...

Worth reading through.. definitely waiting for more :)

Brian Miller said...

nice write...you hooked me from the beginning and i flowed right along. love the desciptors and enough intrigue to keep me coming back for more...

Friko said...

I hope there will be more.
A very good story, but unfinished maybe?

Reflections said...

Thank you all for your encouraging words. Yes, I do tend to leave my stories open-ended so that I can keep the readers wondering where I will take a next section.... so yes, there could be an upcoming installment... I will see what I can do with that.

dana said...

"The ogre that comes after the gremlins at night..."

More horrors on top of horrors. You've been invading my nightmares and taking notes I presume?

Beautiful way with words darlin'.

Brigid said...

Really intriguing story and so well written, looking forward to hearing the next installment.

Lydia said...

Your writing shows such absolute love for nature, dogs, and also for your characters. This is a descriptive piece of writing.

(p.s. My favorite cat, who lived to be 16, was named Bleecker. I named him for the song with that title by Simon & Garfunkel, and for the namesake street in Greenwich Village. People always spelled his name the way Mrs. Bleeker does.)

Karen S said...

What an intriguing story -- I want to know what happens next!

Carrie Burtt said...

Wonderfully written....look forward to more!
:-)

thelittlewriterthatcould said...

Love how you took this prompt and let your imagination run.... Well done!

I am enjoying exploring your blog in general. Great photos too!