The Chapterbuzz challenge is to write 10k words in March, but I would like to invite you to read the story as it is written. It is a first draft, so bear that in mind! You can search for the other parts on this blog, or you can jump over to the Challenge Website and read the story so far. You can do that by clicking HERE.
Because I have not been updating every day (usually about 1 in 3), there is a bit of catching up to do. Last time, Ellie had failed to convince Flynn that she heard insects when she opened the book and now he’s about to leave her room, disappointed. Update 6:
“Excuse me,” he said and stepped around her. Ellie Began crying. He put his hand on the door handle, but before he turned it, he looked back at this sister. “This is why you’ve got no friends.”
“I have friends!” Ellie wiped her eyes.
“Yes, but you won’t have if you keep making things up.” He began to open the door when Ellie pushed it shut once more. “Hey!” He was about to say something nasty to his sister, until she pointed behind him. Just above the bedroom window there was a tree branch, with a length of vine trailing from it. It wasn’t coming through the window; it appeared to be coming through the wall.
Flynn walked past his sister, still staring open-mouthed at the branch. He walked slowly towards the vine-encumbered branch, and reached up towards it. It was too high for him to reach, so he chose to tug on the vine. It felt real; it had weight and as he pulled it downwards, the branch flexed.
He looked out of the bedroom window, but he could see no tree that the branch could belong to. He looked back at the branch, then back out of the window and edged his way back into the room. When he passed his sister, he stopped. Without turning his head, he spoke to Ellie. “Can you see that?” He realised it was a stupid question, but he asked anyway.
“Uh-hu,” Ellie said. “It’s a tree. Part of one, anyway.”
“Where did it come from?”
“The book, I guess.”
The pair stood side-by-side for several minutes, watching the branch, its vine swaying gently in a non-existent breeze. But that wasn’t quite right. There was a breeze. Flynn could not say where it had come from, but it was there. He felt it on his skin. He felt his hair brushing against his cheeks. And there was a smell. It was warm and moist. It smelled like grass. Freshly cut grass. Flynn realised he could hear the sounds of some far off animal, a bird perhaps, and there were insects. He waved his hands about his head, but there were no insects to disperse. To Flynn, it sounded like there were swarms of something buzzing around them both.
“Can you hear that Ell?” He put a hand on her shoulder.
“I told you.” Ellie’s gaping mouth had turned into a smile the split her face, ear to ear. “I told you.” She skipped towards the vine that now reached to the floor in her bedroom and yanked it once. “I told you!” she said, her voice raised. She turned back to her brother, smiling. “Look at that!” She giggled as she pointed behind Flynn.
“Whoa!” Flynn said as he spun around. From the wall behind him, several large-leaved plants arched their way into the room, partway through what still appeared to be his sister’s pink wallpaper.
Flynn turned back to the trees that seemed to tower over his head. Beneath the branches, Ellie’s carpet had turned to what looked like mud. Flynn noticed infantile shoots bursting through and reaching towards the ceiling. Delicate flowers drooped from above the doorframe, with droplets of water running to their tips, before falling to the mud-covered ground beneath.
Flynn walked to the door. Parting some ferns that cascaded from, he turned the handle. Pushing it open a crack, he peeked out into the hallway beyond the room. He could see no flowers, no trees, no mud. Pushing the door wider, and stepping over a knee-high branch, he stepped out. “Mum!” he shouted down to his mum, who would be preparing school lunches for the next day.
“Yes?” Mrs Lawson shouted up to them.
“Is everything…alright?” Flynn was hesitant but needed to know.
“Yes, fine. What are you and your sister up to? I hope you’re playing well together.”
“We’re fine. Just playing.” He stepped back inside the room and closed the door. He had to duck his head under branches, leaves and vines that now reached towards the centre of the room.
“Don’t tell mum, Flynn.” Ellie was still jumping up and down. She grabbed hold of Flynn’s arm and dragged him into the centre of the room. It was starting to feel uncomfortably warm. “Now do you believe me?” She plucked a white flower with large yellow stamen and sniffed it.
“Yes, I believe you.” Flynn felt like he was in a waking dream. This shouldn’t be happening, but it was. He felt the heat and humidity. He smelled the flowers and trees and earth. He saw the branches, the leaves and the vines climbing the trunks of the trees. He heard birds in the distance and insects around his head. “How is this happening?” he asked, turning slowly.
“I don’t know. But don’t tell mum!” Ellie was still hopping from one foot to the other. Her bedroom was becoming the jungle. She didn’t know how that was, but it seemed cool. It should probably have felt frightening, but it didn’t; it felt exciting.
She looked around her room, and between the vines and plant fronds, she could still see her bed and her pink wallpaper. It looked very much out of place in this rapidly expanding green world, but there it was. She went to sit on her bed, but needed to move several of the vines and creepers to do so. Her Justin Bieber poster was still present above her bed, but now it looked like Justin had strange physical disfigurements, as the vines grew under, over and through the poster. “Sorry, Justin. She kissed her first two fingers and touched them to his face.
“How are we going to keep this hidden from mum? We’ll have to tell her.” Flynn now had to pick his feet up as he moved towards the window again, to avoid being tripped up by the creepers that snaked across the floor. A look out of the window revealed nothing, as before. “Let’s take the book and tell her.”
Ellie didn’t look happy. This was an amazing surprise, and she didn’t feel even the tiniest bit afraid, but she knew that Flynn was right: they couldn’t hope to keep this hidden. Mum should be told. She slipped off the bed and picked her way across the room to the book. “Fine.” It didn’t sound fine to Flynn. She picked up the book, closing it as she did.
When the book closed, the children watched as the branches retreated into the wall. The flowers closed and were sucked back into the plant from which they had sprouted. The mud underfoot began to thin out, receding towards the edges of the room. The temperature began to return to a normal level. Even Justin’s face was returned to its former condition.
Within minutes, any traces of a jungle Ellie’s room were now gone.
“That’s how we can hide it!” Said Ellie, laughing. “We don’t need to tell mum!” She clutched the book tightly to her chest and sat back down on her bed. “Don’t tell her, Flynn. Please.”
For a moment, Flynn thought about what the right thing to do would be. He should probably tell mum. He should probably show mum, as she wouldn’t believe it, like he hadn’t. But this presented him with an opportunity for adventure. For discovery. Mum wouldn’t like that. She would only worry, and nobody would want that. It was probably kindest to her if this remained their secret. For the moment, at least. “Okay.” He paused for a moment. “But you can’t do it without me.”
“Okay,” said Ellie. That seemed fair enough, although mum may start to wonder why her two children had suddenly started spending time together. “Tomorrow after school, then.”
“Great. After school.”
Hop over to the Chapterbuzz site for the whole thing, or leave your comments below.