Today, Tony was picking-up sticks. The colony he lived in was highly organised and every day there was something to be done. Today it was stick-picking-up day. There were other days also, like leaf-cutting day and leaf-carrying day, also food-raiding-party days. There was a building day and a day when he stood guard and also a day when he went deep underground and had the Queen bestow a favour on him, though these days didn’t come round very often…
Pausing at the foot of the giant tree he looked up, it was a daunting climb; self-doubt invaded him. In that instant the howling laughter rang out and Tony’s blood chilled, he knew that someone, somewhere were up to their necks in it. The Monster was up there. Tony was frightened, more frightened than he had ever been in his life, then, remembering that the longest journey starts with the smallest step he placed a claw on the mighty tree and started to climb; the calm of purpose stilled him and thus began the great ascent.
…and there he dangled, the darkness all around him. He could see nothing either up or down, there was nothing to the left and nothing to the right, there was nothing in front of him, and then, like a torch switched on, there was. A stab of light pierced the light and then another, then another and more and more, quickly now the light smashed into the dark bowl of night. It poured pure white into the black and distilled it to purple and violet, the purple washed like a tide over the gloom and left a trail of pinks and yellows, somehow the blues got in with the yellows and green was born, greens mixed with the reds and brown was produced. All around him the sky was awash with colour, constantly changing and shifting, as if a giant was wielding a four-inch brush in one hand and a spray-gun in the other, a bit of this, a lot of that: colour splashed wildly onto an infinite canvas. Tony stared in wonder. His extremities began to tingle, lightly at first. The sun lifted itself majestically over the horizon in a blaze of brightness, the tingling grew stronger, the brightness surged over the jungle and gave it form, the tingling became stronger still. The great brightness grew and grew, faster now, pouring light into everything, raising it up. Effortlessly the sun lifted off and sailed into the sky, the tingling filled him, he felt himself drawn through a multi-coloured river of treacle. The sun beamed straight at him. Tony turned and faced the great brightness… ‘Nohhh!!’ he cried, his voice ringing-out over the jungle. Something closed behind him, Snik! And it was day.
Tony stood in shock at the edge of the broken limb. Desperate for his life, the Jaguar hurled himself up and hooked a large claw into the branch, a claw so sharp it sliced through the wood like a hot knife through butter and into Tony’s thigh. ‘Aarghh!’ he bellowed. The claw ripped down the muscle of his leg, dragging him across the rough bark. With a final scream, the Jaguar fell, crashing through the leaves to the ground far below. Tony scrabbled on the side of the branch, he couldn’t hold on! The blood from his leg made the wood slippery, he was sliding, ‘Oh! God! No!’ he cried.
‘Toneee!’ Joey shouted and lunged for his friend. Through a searing mist of pain, Tony could see his friend’s paw, reaching for him, almost in slow-motion, he knew he wouldn’t make it! Then with a gasp, he fell!
Read more of Mark Brook’s Antics.
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