It seemed like we spent days picking our way through the murky tunnel, my bare feet constantly snagging on some jagged rock or other.My toes were bruised all over, one of the baby ones bleeding from a nasty cut Id gotten from a protruding piece of something or other.Being mortal was painful.
See Nurse! Look what happens when you take my shoes!
The ground had grown increasingly uneven and rough under us, its odd rubbery texture gone, giving way instead to something more fitting to an underground sea tunnel. It made sense actually, but didn't stop my feet from smarting with every step I took. Squanchie trooped on, always a few feet ahead of me, his tiny little legs working over-time. He seemed eager to get out of this tunnel, that or he was still fervently trying to dislodge the letter. He wasn't looking at me, angry at the name Id given him I assumed. Its hard to tell if a squirrel is throwing a huff or just being busy.
As Squanchie scampered over rocks and recesses, the light from the letter bounced off the cave walls. They had gradually taken on a new appearance, different from the slick wet look they used to have. Now they seemed to glimmer as if made of glass, parts of the rock flashing whenever the light hit them. Also, they appeared more curved and smooth in formation, bending towards the tunnel roof which was clearly visible now and lower down. It may have just been my imagination but the dense rock the walls had once been looked slightly more translucent, lighter in colour (which was green, like everything else) I suddenly wondered what colour the scarf around my waist truly was. I had always liked purple.
As we made our way along, Squanchie nimbly darting over the sharp parts and me stumbling into them, I also noticed also that the tunnel was becoming increasingly narrow . If I jumped, I was full sure I would be able to touch the roof. In fact, I did jump, just to see and sure enough my fingers glanced off the cold smooth rock. My feet screamed with pain when I landed, reminding me never to do that again. I would most likely forget though.
Suddenly, Squanchie stopped and threw me a look as I bent over to blow on my toes.
He scurried over to me and up my leg, almost blinding me as the light from the letter shone directly into my eyes. Then, settling on my shoulder he took a tiny fistful of my hair and tugged it so that I straightened up in surprise. "What was that for"? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his furry little fist motioning urgently forwards.
Now, with the light behind my head instead of in front, the path before us wasn't so drenched with light and I could make out something up ahead that seemed unaided by the ferocious glow of the letter. Hobbling forward, I tried to make out what it was I was looking at. Could it be?
It was in an oddly perfect circle much like the curves of the walls which I was now certain were becoming completely translucent, a lot like glass, meeting the roof to form a now seamless arch above me. In fact, I was beginning to think it was glass. Appearing not too far away at all, perhaps another five minutes walk, this circle of what seemed to be daylight beckoned me forward with its promises of being away from this nasty and frankly boring tunnel, glass or not. What excited me most was the prospect of seeing what colour my scarf was.
I began to run, heedless of the pain that shot up through my feet as I did so, tripping over sharp rocks or giant pieces of glass, or whatever the heck they were. I didn't care much for aesthetics like these. I was eager for colour, which daylight would most certainly bring. Squanchie clung on, trying to find balance in my blundering gait, occasionally grasping hand fulls of my hair if I lurched a little too much. Closer and closer we got, and lighter and lighter the tunnel became, no longer illuminated by the green glow of the letter which had seemed to quickly fade. As I ran, the tunnel became narrower and narrower and I could reach out with both hands and trail my fingers along the cold, smooth , now see-through sides. I could see what appeared to be sand behind the walls. Soon, I had to duck my head as I dashed along, and Squanchie crouched lower down on my shoulder. The beautiful circle of daylight got bigger and bigger in my eye line and my heart thrummed with excitement, or possibly over exertion. I had to stop running though, as it was just becoming too narrow to do so and Squanchie kept pulling on my ear.
Only a few meters away, the circle of daylight lay, and I could see dazzling blue sky out there . A fresh, cool breeze tickled at my hair and drew me forward, teasing me with the scent of grass and freedom. It seemed Squanchie couldn't contain his excitement either and he shot off my shoulder and made a dash towards the opening, the letter on his back now forgotten. It was useless now anyway, as daylight now flooded the tunnel, revealing that yes, in fact, the walls around me were glass. Pausing for a moment as I noticed this, I also found the tunnels new shape oddly familiar. Looking behind into the murk I would gladly forget, I watched how the arch had grown smaller and smaller, more slender, almost like a bottle nose. Yes, almost like a giant glass bottle.
I looked ahead at the narrow circular opening and my mind sought to make the connections. Knocking my hand against the sides brought about a very familiar sound, quite like the one when a flying bug is trapped inside a jar.
So very odd.
I shrugged, and promptly forgot about it.
Squanchie paused at the lip of the opening which looked like it would only accommodate one person at a time. It wasn't very big, but then neither was I.The squirrel hopped up and down impatiently, motioning for me to hurry. I complied, approaching the opening, my excitement mounting. By now I had to crawl on my hands and knees, not such an unpleasant experience when your feet are on fire. The knees seem to gladly take up the slack for a short while. There were many inviting and beautiful scents and sounds filling my senses the closer I got. I drew up next to Squanchie and looked out eager to see what they belonged to.
The vision that greeted my eyes took my breath away and at the same time made me grin from ear to ear.
I wiggled from the small space only to find Squanchie had decided to do the same in exactly the same moment, which resulted in both of us jammed together, my impatience mounting and his eyes bulging. Naturally the only solution was to keep struggling until one of us broke free and that happened to be me. There was a popping sound and I tumbled from the tunnel onto soft sandy ground, falling flat on my back. I think I was knocked out for a moment because the world appeared to blur then go dark. But I realised I had only shut my eyes.
Opening them, I peered up to see if Squanchie was following but before I could focus, I got a face full of furry tummy and one flailing paw scraping against my cheek. There was a brief struggle before me assumed our normal positions, me standing and him perched on my shoulder, tail bristling with rage after his less than elegant landing. I spat some squirrel hair out, took in a lung full of fresh air and turned to take in the magnificent view.
We stood high above a vast cove on a tall grassy dune, the azure ocean below us glistening in the intense sunlight,clear like a jewel. All along the beach , where the water met the land, was a complicated network of wooden boardwalks and jetties, some with three levels and steps leading up to them.
It stretched out for what seemed like miles, following the coastline from left to right and I could see no end to it. Peering closer, I noticed there were small wooden buildings dotted along the way, mostly on the top levels of this huge promenade. Bridges and paths crisscrossed each other, hurting my eyes so complicated were they in their multitude and structure. All along the many jetties, ships and boats of all sizes bobbed lazily in the water, all painted with bright eye catching colours which pleased me no end. Then I remembered. My Scarf!
I looked down and cried out with joy. It was purple!
Me and Squanchie did a little victory dance, which consisted of me spinning in circles and him clutching on for dear life, giving a little burp as he began to grow nauseous. Lightweight.
Now that the scarf problem was solved, I was fully focused back on the breathtaking view below me but I was quickly getting bored of the standing and the looking side of things. "C'mon Squanchie, lets get down there"!
Dashing forward, the unfortunate momentum of my body combined with the temporary but powerful dizziness that accompanied one of my spins caused me to trip in grand fashion.
First I wobbled to the left, stretching my arms out each side of me to regain balance but instead dragged myself to the right until finally I gave in and fell forward as gravity decided to join in on the fun. I rolled down the grassy hill, head over heels with Squanchie somewhere in close proximity judging from the brief glimpses of the occasional paw flailing in the air. Gaining speed, we approached the beach below us faster than I had planned. I only hoped we didn't hit the looming boardwalk too hard, for Squanchies sake. Mine too. He would end up rage full and I wasn't looking forward to another Squirrel slap.The wind screamed in my ears as we hurtled down the hill and I somehow managed to get a daisy lodged between my teeth.
We did hit the boardwalk hard. The last thing I saw was dark wood and a small dehydrated shellfish lying on its side. Before I could think of anything else, the world went black and I felt a lightness on my shoulder followed by the sound of a faint splash.