Despite setting up a new page for my fictional musings, I thought I would post on here also as I have a larger following. However, if my other page starts to grow then I will use this site for my parenting and teaching posts. Thanks for your support and comments as always.
This is part six of Jack’s Story. I have changed the title to ‘A Test of Wills’. This is just a working title – I still haven’t decided quite where I am going with it yet!
If a bell rang to signal the end of the lesson, Jack didn’t hear it. His eyes were still fixated on the boy who was standing in the field opposite his classroom. Michael hit him on the head with his bag on the way out of the room.
“Come on!” Michael urged. “Geography next.”
Jack nodded, grabbed his belongings and paced out of the room behind his best friend. Walking along the crowded corridors suddenly became over bearing for Jack and he found himself struggling to breathe. Michael was marching off ahead so didn’t notice when Jack stopped and stood back against a wall in order to prevent other pupils from bumping into him. He took a few deep breaths and realised that he wasn’t going to Geography. He was going outside.
Minutes passed and as the crowd of pupils dispersed, Jack walked towards the doors that led to the PE changing rooms. Through those doors was the field that the mysterious boy had been waving from. From staring out the newcomer, Jack had felt no fear or malice emit from the stranger and so didn’t hesitate when he sneaked into the boys’ empty changing room and outside into onto the school fields.
The crisp spring air was a welcome relief as Jack let go of the breath he didn’t know he had been holding. Clinging to him like a warm hug, the sun’s rays wrapped themselves around his body and he embraced the feeling they left behind. Mentally, he could feel knots unwrapping inside his head as thoughts from the previous evening were slowly burnt away by the heat of the morning sun. Breathing the scent of freshly cut grass, Jack made his way towards the playing fields.
He didn’t know what to find when he reached his destination and in his heart of hearts, Jack didn’t expect to find anything or anyone. Only he did. The boy was still standing in the same place as he had been earlier, only now his face was turned towards Jack and he looked to be still smiling.
“Shouldn’t you be in a lesson?” Jack shouted as he walked over to the boy.
The boy didn’t answer.
“Are you new? Which year are you in?”
Still, there was no reply.
Jack paused then for a moment and checked the phone in his side pocket to check the time. He didn’t want to be late for his next lesson and yet he couldn’t leave this boy on his own. What Jack failed to notice was that there was no signal on his phone. He was out of range. Should he fall into any trouble now, no one would be able to reach him.
They were standing face to face now and still the boy had not spoken. An uneasy feeling wormed itself into the pit of Jack’s stomach and slowly and slightly pulled at his insides. Something wasn’t right.
But, then he looked up and stared into the boy’s eyes.
They were amiable eyes, yes, amiable, definitely. There was a sparkle to them as if they were greeting a long lost friend or relative. Flecked with bright blue, the eyes smiled at Jack. The boy raised an eyebrow while at the same time raising a hand towards him.
“Hello,” he said in a surprisingly confident manner. My name is William…erm Will, actually. You must be Jack.”
What came next felt like a blow to the stomach as Jack staggered backwards slightly in shock. It was his turn to remain silent.
“I’ve been waiting here for you all morning,” Will explained as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world to be stood alone on an empty school playing field. “You need to come with me now. We have much to do.”
Jack found the voice he had lost.
“You know my name,” it wasn’t a question. “I didn’t tell you my name.”
Panic set in.
“Is this a joke? Has Michael set you up to this?”
Will shook his head and gestured with him arm.
“You need to come with me now,” the boy urged. “It’s a matter of life and death.”
Afterwards, Jack would claim that it was the word ‘death’ that made him make the rash decision he did. He was too afraid to find out whose death it might mean.
Will didn’t wait for a response. He simply turned and walked up towards some high fencing that led to a nearby wood. Jack followed, obediently.
Upon reaching the metal fence, Jack noticed that a part of it had been ripped away from the earth and that, when pulled up, it would be large enough for a young person to climb through. Without question and without thought, Jack followed Will through the hole in the fence and together they walked onwards towards the wood. The deeper they ventured, the darker it became and still Jack felt no panic, no fear and no sense of regret that he was missing Geography. He was searching for valid excuses to use with his teacher tomorrow, when the two boys stumbled upon a huge oak tree. With hanging branches, it embraced them and welcomed them into its midst for this was precisely the destination they were heading. Will gestured for Jack to come closer towards the tree’s darkened bark and when he did, he noticed another hole. Once again, this was large enough to crawl through. Will crouched down and crawled towards the hole. Instinctively, Jack followed. He bent down and placed his hands on the ground underneath him; it felt warm and dry as the soil coiled itself through his fingers. He felt the mud seep into the knees of his school trousers as he passed under and inside the hole. He was crawling into the tree itself. Darkness engulfed him as he realised he was wholly inside the tree’s bark. How was it possible? It wasn’t. And still he crawled through blackness following Will’s laboured breathing. Time passed. Was it a minute? Was it two? Suddenly, Jack’s eyes adjusted to the dark and he could make out faint outlines on the wall of the bark next to him. Strange markings had been etched inside the bark. It was impossible to make out what the marks were, but it dawned on Jack that the reason he could see them was because light was seeping in somewhere. They were crawling towards the light. The longer and longer he crawled, the more the light grew. He could now see his hands in front of him pressing on the dirt beneath. He could see the outline of Will’s shoes as they rhythmically moved forwards. Slowly, the light grew and grew and Jack noticed that it was a hazy light – not bright like the sun – but luminescent and cold like the moon. Up ahead, Jack noticed that Will had vanished and just before panic could consume him, he realised that there was nothing over head anymore – just open space. Jack stood. Uncoiled and at full height, Jack looked above him and gasped in astonishment. A blanket of stars covered the night sky and the beacon that looked to be leading those stars was the most breathtaking sight Jack had ever seen: the moon. The monumental sphere hung low in the glittering sky. Jack almost reached up to touch it when all of a sudden, for the first time since entering the bark of the tree, Will spoke.
“Do you want an adventure, Jack?”
Glancing up again at the moon, Jack felt the weight of his worries slip way. He looked at Will then directly and with intent. He nodded, grinning.