Part Five: The Beast of the Forest
Jimmy and Leo aren't out of the woods just yet...
Jimmy woke up in his bed at home, feeling toasty and content. The warm honey-coloured sun came in through the window and filled his room. He could hear the reassuring call of the Mason family’s rooster next door.
Jimmy got out of his bed and walked through to the kitchen where his mum was kneading bread on the table.
“Good morning, sweetie,” she said. “How did you sleep?”
Jimmy was dizzy with confusion. Suddenly, though, he found his mouth moving and creating words.
“I slept well.”
His mum lifted some cloth from a nearby bowl and took out a piece of bread from underneath.
“Eat,” she said, holding it out to Jimmy.
Jimmy stepped forward and took the bread and ate it. The bread was hot and freshly baked.
“Your dad is outside chopping wood," said his mum. "Why don't you go and help him out?"
Before Jimmy could reply, he felt his legs begin to walk him towards the door. He looked down as his feet moved one step in front of another. He was powerless -- an onlooker in his own body.
His legs took him to the back door of the house. He opened the door and stepped outside, but then everything changed.
He turned around and the house was gone. It had been replaced by trees.
He looked around and everything had been replaced by trees. He was surrounded by dense green forest.
He heard a voice call his name. "Jimmy!"
It was his dad's voice.
"Dad?" said Jimmy.
"Over here," said his dad.
Jimmy started to walk between the trees towards the voice.
He found a small opening and saw his dad with an axe chopping pieces of wood on his usual block.
"Hey, Jimmy," said his dad with a big smile. "Here, have a go."
Again Jimmy felt his body moving automatically. He went over and his dad handed him the axe. Jimmy raised the axe into the air and swung it down at a piece of wood on top of the block.
As his axe hit the piece of wood, it made a massive snap, and then everything was black.
Jimmy opened his eyes and the whole world was on its side. In the distance he saw an orange light. It took a moment for the fog to leave his eyes. The orange light then became a campfire. The shadows around it became the bandits.
Jimmy wiped the drool from his mouth and tried to stand up, but as he got up he instantly fell straight back down. Everything felt so heavy.
He looked up at the moon and took a few deep breaths to try and wake himself up. He squeezed his fists and told himself, "Come on, you can do this."
And then he went for it. Jimmy held onto a tree for dear life and climbed to his feet.
Still holding the tree to keep himself balanced, Jimmy looked at the scene by the campfire. The bandits were asleep! Two were on the ground, having fallen to their side, and two were slouched against each other.
Beyond the campfire he could see Leo still tied up to the tree. Leo was squirming, trying to break free. Just nearby, the horses had apparently been gathered back up.
Jimmy cautiously let go of the tree and stepped out into the forest opening. Walking lightly, he approached the bandits, hoping with all the hope he could conjure that the Slumber Weed had been strong enough to keep them asleep for while.
Getting closer, he could hear them snoring.
As he walked by, one of the bandits suddenly moved. Jimmy jumped back, his heart searing with excitement. He looked at the bandit and the bandit let out a sigh. The bandit's eyes were closed.
Jimmy let out a sigh of his own and carried on across the opening towards Leo.
As Jimmy got closer, Leo noticed him and stopped trying to squirm free. Jimmy crouched down and started to untie the ropes.
"I tell you, kid," said Leo. "Consider me impressed."
"I remember learning about Slumber Weed when I was a kid," said Jimmy. "It really is --"
But Leo cut him off. "Why don't you tell me about it afterwards, ok?" said Leo. "Let's just get out of here for now."
"Right," said Jimmy.
He continued working on the knots.
That was when Leo saw something moving behind Jimmy. Something enormous. Something with two arms and two legs.
Leo looked over and the giant figure was the shadow of one of the bandits being projected onto the wall of the forest. They were awake.
Leo watched as the bandit stumbled around for a moment, dazed, and then tried to wake up one of the others. Thankfully, though, the other bandit wasn't budging.
Then the bandit turned towards Leo and the two of them made eye contact.
"How is that knot coming along?" asked Leo.
"Almost there," said Jimmy.
Jimmy didn't have a clue what was going on behind him.
"Leave it and run," said Leo.
"What?" said Jimmy.
"I said leave it and run! They're awake."
Jimmy looked behind him and saw the bandit eyeing them off. The bandit then started to walk towards them, although it was clear he was struggling.
"Run!" said Leo.
"I'm not leaving you," said Jimmy.
The bandit was hobbling towards them. Jimmy's full focus was on the knot, moving rapidly. The bandit was getting closer and closer.
"And..." said Jimmy. "Got it!"
Leo didn't hesitate for a second. He instantly shoved Jimmy aside and leapt to his feet. The bandit was just two steps away from where Jimmy had been. Leo charged right at the bandit and tackled him to the ground.
But as Leo was about to get back up, he heard the clang of a pot being knocked over. He looked over to the campfire.
The other bandits were waking up...
Click here for Part Six!
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