Chapter 4

Written by: Donna McTavish

“I will never eat an apple again for as long as I live,” announced Roger rubbing his bruised snout. If the truth be told, it was his pride that was hurt the most but the others said nothing about his reckless behaviour and the danger he had put them in. They had all rushed to his rescue, Acacia, Alexzander and Ramus kicking hard at the tree trunk, Coco and Brutus gnawing at the branches and Cecil and Falcon clawing frantically. Even the chicks had tried to help by darting in and out of the waving twines. 


They had rescued Roger in the nick of time. Being so close to the apple, he had become drowsy but had not succumbed to the deep sleep that would come from eating the poisoned fruit. 


Roger took one last look at the tree that had attacked him, its apples lying broken on the forest floor in a tangled mess of broken branches, and shivered. 


“We must find a place to rest,” said Ramus as Coco and Brutus huddled together cleaning their paws and Acacia peered nervously ahead into the murky darkness. The thin shafts of light that had pierced the shadows when they had entered the forest had been snuffed out by a blanket of violet-blue light that would soon turn black. No one wanted to spend the night in the forest but precious time had been lost rescuing Roger and now they had no choice.


“There’s a clearing just around the corner,” said Cecil impatiently flapping his wings. “I saw it earlier, before…” He shot an angry glance at Roger.


“Let’s go,” said Ramus. “Hurry now. And stay together. ”


They set off, hoping that Cecil hadn’t underestimated the distance to the clearing. He had had difficulty translating distances from flying time to walking time before, which had left the rabbits footsore and frustrated, but soon they arrived. It was a small circle protected by low bushes covered in small white flowers that glowed in the fading light.  “Don’t touch ANYTHING,” said Ramus, glaring at Roger.


They made themselves comfortable. Coco and Brutus huddled together against the warm flank of Acacia, Alexzander lending shelter to Falcon and the chicks while Cecil rested on a nearby branch with his head tucked under his wing. Despite their hunger, and the creeping cold, they were soon asleep.


Only Ramus remained alert. Unable to rest, he paced around the circle listening to the distant noises, unnatural and chilling, that haunted the sleeping forest. And so it was that only Ramus heard the soft switching of Snark’s shaggy coat snagging against the low branches of the trees and saw the dark outline of his huge body approaching the clearing. He watched in wonder as Snark weaved unevenly between the trees and then stopped, his two front legs slowly sinking to the ground and his hindquarters falling heavily behind, a rosy red apple in his wide smiling mouth.


Oooeeee! I absolutely love your chapter, Donna!
This sets up the next chapter to describe the ease that Snark managed to procure the very item that Roger was so intent upon and gives us the idea that Snark obviously knows more about the enchanted forest than the questors. So how do the questors get enough information to continue the journey in safety when they don't know what is accepted and what not?
Oh yes, even in a young adults story we have loads of tension and scary stuff. I loved this a lot. The big bad wolf is coming to eat you up but the gang will win in the end. Wonderful descriptive work, Donna. I could see the scenes and particularly the last one in the dead of night where we hear rather than see - again the descriptive change from day to night is superb. Loved it.
This chapter is atmospheric such as the description of the night coming on. It is also so realistic the animals are alive and believable. The danger of the snark with the red apple had me tensing and I loved the alliterative, soft switching of Snark’s shaggy coat snagging against the low...' That has wonderful rhythm.