There is no time to waste now. The gigantic arachnid mobile home is about to take off and then you would be left once more in a huge field, no further ahead. You glance back towards where you came from and you know that going back is not an option. You cram the now quite icky looking bag of candy into a pocket and sprint to the wooden stairs. Through a deafening cacophony of rumbling machinery and steam valves whistling you reach the bottom step. The wooden stairs shudder and creak, dropping clumps of dirt and crushed asparagus as it keeps rising in a growing cloud of dust.
Without thinking too hard about how sensible it actually is, you clamber up on the bottom step and stay still for a moment. Everything is shaking and you with it. You hold on to the sides of the stairs, sneakers hanging in mid air and heart thumping. It's not so bad, you tell yourself although it's hard to hear yourself think in the
clamor. The free hanging steps rise and the ground falls away beneath them and you. An extra violent shudder travels through the machine spider and then it stops. The most frightening and most exhilarating ride of your life settles into an even rumble and just a slight vibration. Gears clunk into place, hydraulic whatchamacallits engage and Ghibly is on the move.
You crawl up to the little red door. There is a small platform in front of it, guarded on both sides with a white hand rail. You grasp it and stand up, looking back. Wow. This thing is really moving.
When you look down at the ground rushing past in a speed in excess of any fairground ride you’ve been allowed to try, you grin. You wonder how many rides you have tried. You are sure you have, and you know without a doubt in your mind that this is the fastest and most exciting by far.
You take a deep breath and try the door handle. It turns easily and you ease the door open just enough to squeeze through. Nobody would hear you through the sound of the running metal spider but your heart seems to be the loudest thing around. Once through the door you close it carefully behind you and look around.
The first thing catching your eyes in the soft gloomy light is an enormous, gigantic, totally imposing and heartbreakingly graceful pickle. You gasp, dumbfounded at the sight of a delicate stem sticking out of a jumbo glass bottle enclosing the still growing vegetable. In proud majesty the pickle leans against the inside of the bottle. You feel a sudden urge to either giggle hysterically or shriek in terror. The pickle is at least a head taller than you. You clap both your hands over your face, uselessly trying to cover both your mouth and your eyes simultaneously. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by sneaking a peak through your fingers at the impressive plant. Vines and leaves climb the entire space available on a floor to ceiling lattice and several more pickles grow in their designated bottles, all neatly labeled.
You carefully shift your attention from the pre-bottled pickles and you notice that the room you are in has plants climbing on every wall, sprawling over each surface of the floor where there are big trays of soil. You don’t know what most of the growing things are but everything seems to be doing extraordinarily well and they are all growing in bottles, jars or paper bags.
Before you know it you start towards a strange little plant scrambling its way over the edge of a plastic pale. A miniature bottle hangs off a stem almost reaching the floor and you kneel down to take a closer look. The clear bottle is just about as big as your thumb. Something golden yellow grows inside and squinting hard you laboriously read the tiny label.
“One pop corn.” You gingerly extend a finger towards it.
“Thief! Thief! Thief!” You fall backwards and land with a huff of lost breath on your ass in a cloud of dry dirt, something smelly and whiteish that you can’t identify, fertilizer pellets and various recently pulled weeds, again trying to cover both shriek and sight with your grimy hands, being only partially successful. Your whimpering blends eerily with ear piercing bird cries coming from directly above. A shaggy crow is sitting on a perch hanging from the ceiling. It’s glaring down at you, indignantly flapping its wings screaming bloody murder at the top of its lungs.
“Miscreant! Punk! Burglar! Bandit! Gangster! Thief! Thief!” Apparently the bird is not satisfied and you fail to see it coming. Something hits your forehead with a warm splat and the bird concludes its harangue with a smirk, although you are not sure how you know the black monster is smirking, when it says:
“HA! Gotcha! How do you like that you miserable little terrorist?”
You are about to say something though you have no idea what to say to an angry bird that just busted you red-handed and then defecated on you when the world vibrates and turns awkwardly. The bird barely avoids toppling off its perch and utters a few select words that you wish you had never heard and never would again. With a couple of loud bangs and a sudden tilt one way, then the other way, the machine stops groaning and grumbling and everything is settling down to stillness. A second or three later of silence, a high pitched whirring starts somewhere above the bird and several rays of light bursts through the ceiling. Shutters are swiftly motored into the open position to let the weather into the little greenhouse. The afternoon light transforms everything from dull to brilliant shades and nuances of green.
You scramble up on your feet with a weary glance at the watchful bird that is busy straightening its feathers but nonetheless still manages to keep half an eye on you.
You realize that the silence isn’t absolute. Besides the many almost inaudible pops and creeks of the big machine settling down, there is a sweet sound of classical music finding its way through an arched opening next to a strange little bush without label. Whatever grows on it is hidden inside flimsy looking paper tubes. You frown and scratch your head.
Obscuring the view into the next room is a curtain of beads, all in different shades of green and earth tones. They rustle softly when stirred by air moving between rooms. You dig in your pocket and soon you are chewing on one of the last sour keys, contemplating your current situation.
“Now what are you going to do?” The bird says, mildly curious.
You stop chewing, glance back at the red door, which of course is green on the inside, then at the bead curtain. You look up at the bird, staying out of its turd range and try to think. Nothing is moving. You could leave the way you came, move deeper into this strange house and see if there might be something to eat somewhere or stay and explore.