The Secret Places of the World

A story about for children who accidently stumble upon a strange and weird kingdom
(a bit of an Alice in Wonderland feel is what im going for)

Time And Snakes.

 

Ignatius was rather enjoying himself strolling down the countryside path, listening to the sounds of the birds singing overhead and the river running by his side. He always did like nature. Especially on spring days like this. Though he always preferred summer to spring, most likely because the sunshine always made him, and everyone else he knew, considerably more cheery. Mumbling something about his feet beginning to ache he quickly removed his shoes and began to stroll around barefoot, almost wishing he was able to whistle.

His eyes wandered lazily in the direction of the stream, on the periphery of his vision a small orange shape flitted through the water, he’d never seen fish living in the river before, still it must have just never occurred to him to see whether there were any.

Dante, Ignatius’ senior brother of a year, was walking briskly along just in front of his brother, grovelling over why he had been invited along on the walk with him and his friends. He visibly was trying to give the impression he was unhappy with the situation, which he was, but his companions were taking no notice of his sulking.

Dante didn’t dislike his brother; he merely wasn’t particularly impressed that his friends liked him, not because he thought they would like his brother more, but simply because Dante thought that Ignatius should really have his own friends as apposed to both of them having the same group of friends. Though Ignatius didn’t really have many friends, and the few he did have where Dante’s friends anyway.

The tiny stones on the path were somehow finding a way of creeping into his shoes, which was very uncomfortable. He promptly removed his shoes and shook them to remove the tiny nuisance’s. A sharp crack rang out from the oddly quiet wood, Dante had not taken much notice of the sound winding its way out of the wood so now upon realising it was silent did not know exactly when the noise had stopped.

Another sharp crack rebounded around the tree’s, Dante, Ignatius and their two friends, Katrina and Peregrine all stopped at the second, much louder, sound. They exchanged confused glances, silently agreeing that it must have been an animal rummaging through the undergrowth and snapping fallen branches underfoot.

 Recovering from the unsettling noise Katrina was now dawdling along a few feet behind the two brothers hand in hand with Peregrine. Both we’re smiling contently, not a care in the world. Though they where only ten years of age (they where in the same school year as Dante and where his two best friends, though he never chose to admit this) the two children where very fond of each other.

Peregrine halted abruptly and stopped smiling. Katrina looked at him curiously. He was staring at the edge of the tree line before them, concentrating intently on a small shrub. He could have sworn he had seen a pair of glassy golden eyes staring at him from behind the small hedging plant. Shrugging to clear the image he must have imagined out of his head he suddenly doubled over, to Katrina’s great bemusement.

When he returned to his upright position he was smiling and twisting a small purple flower between his fingers, he grinned and placed it in Katrina’s long red hair. Katrina blushed and returned the favour, placing a similar flower into Peregrines thick black hair. Now noticing their friends where several feet in front of them, the two jogged to catch up with their friends who evidently hadn’t noticed their falling behind.

 As they jogged to catch up to the siblings Katrina begun to hum to herself. At least she thought it was to herself, she couldn’t help but wonder how the tune had popped into her head, as it was one she was sure she had never heard before. The soft music felt as though it was inside her head but also all around her, it made her feel very sleepy and her eyelids began to droop. Unbeknownst to Katrina the boys too had heard the music and it too enveloped them in a heavy sense of exhaustion.

The group continued to stubble sleepily a while further. Dante suddenly stopped after a few metres. His face completely changed from fatigued to baffled as to why he could not take one step further. The other three children halted behind him, utterly puzzled at his sudden stand still.

“What’s wrong Dante?” asked his brother.

“I have no idea” he replied “I can’t seem to go any further”

 “What do you mean you can’t go any further?” said Peregrine.

“I don’t know! I just feel as though I can’t move another inch forward” a hint of worry in his voice.

The other two boys glanced at one another then paced quickly onwards. They too stopped in the exact position on either side of him.

“See” he said “you can’t move either”

“It’s bizarre isn’t it” Peregrine mused, a note of excitement in his voice.

“Completely” Ignatius agreed nodding his head enthusiastically “I almost feel as if I have to stay here. Well not here here as such, but around here” he waved his arms to indicate the surrounding area. While talking he four companions were  failed to realise that the soft music around them had become louder and faster paced.

“Perhaps your minds are subconsciously trying to alert you all that you’re tired”. Katrina said without much conviction. “We should all sit down and get some rest”

Next to them was a bank of long green grass on which to sit and rest their aching feet. They sat in silence for a little while listening to the gentle gargle of the river. The bright yellow sun was radiating down onto the children. Ignatius perched on the edge of the water and dipped his feet into the cold flow. While the heat from the sun was trickling down from his the top of his head, the icy water was creeping up from his toes until half of him was warm and the other half chilly. Ignatius smiled at the bizarre sensation. I’ve only ever felt like this when I was ill, he thought to himself, though at those times it never felt quite this pleasant.

The silence was broken by Katrina asking “What has no end and no beginning, it goes forward, but never back?” The three boys considered this riddle for a moment; Ignatius and Dante came to a conclusion long after Peregrine had.

“Nothing, nothing has no end or no beginning, that’s impossible” said Peregrine frowning.

“Its time” said Dante pensively “it’s just always been, and it only flows forward, we constantly travel forward but can never travel back.”

“Oh I see” said Peregrine accepting what his friend had said.

Katrina wondered aloud “But father told me, when he first asked me this riddle, that the answer is unknown, nobody knows the answer”

“Its defiantly time.” Ignatius told Katrina “it has no start and no finish, due to it being infinite”

“What do you mean infinite?” asked Peregrine

“It goes on forever. It always has been and always shall be.” Peregrine continued to frown. “We as creatures that are happily born at random and sadly but surely destined to die cannot comprehend the infinite because, as we ourselves, along with all other living things, have a start point and an end point, we believe everything must follow this rule, but in reality some things, such as time, do not” explained Ignatius.

“So there is an answer” said Katrina

“Everything has an answer, because otherwise it could not be a question” said Dante.

“And as for the only going forward, that’s not necessarily true” Ignatius added to his brother.

“I’m afraid you’ve inevitably lost me. Again.” Dante said impatiently to his sibling.

Ignatius sighed “Once opened a door can be travelled through in both directions” Dante opened his mouth to say something else but he was interrupted as Katrina gasped pointing “Ignatius by your hand!”

The three boy’s heads turned to look at the grass at which their friend was pointing. Whilst the children had been philosophising a large oddly coloured snake had made its way towards the young boys hand and sat itself beside it.

His three companions stared nervously at the serpent, Ignatius on the other hand, who was very unafraid of anything, looked at the animal in catlike intrigue.  

“Hello” Ignatius said to the snake. The snake reared up until it was at eye level with Ignatius. There were three sharp intakes of breath from behind where the boy and the snake sat. it was indeed the most odd looking reptile any of them had ever seen. Even in the wildlife book’s Ignatius was partial to.

Though now slightly cautious, Ignatius continued to keep eye contact with the snake. For he swore he had read (and at this moment sincerely wished he was not simply misremembering) that snakes, like many animals, like to remain in eye contact. (Or was it, always wanted to see a persons hands so that they can be trusted). Either way Ignatius made sure to do both just to be on the safe side.

The snake cocked its head sideways at the boy in front of it first left then right, then back left and right again finally resting its head back in its beginning position.  It abruptly hissed in, unless Ignatius was very much mistaken, a manner that sounded almost like a reply.

“You understood that?” asked Ignatius puzzled, his eyebrows raised. The snake nodded. Ignatius’s eyebrows disappeared beneath his head of long curly hair. The boy and the snake continued to stare at each other.

 Ignatius edged slightly closer to the snake and whispered “If you can understand English then logically, one can only assume that you can speak English” the snake winked, its tongue flickering, it emitting a long whisper “yesss”.

“So if that is the case” asked the intrigued boy “can all snakes speak English?” the snake chuckled (or rather hissed in a manner that could easily pass as chuckling) “of courssse nottt”.

“Well how am I to know? I’ve never met a talking snake before…or any animal that can speak like a human” the snakes considered this then said “Clearly you have never mettt any animalsss worttth tttalking tttoo”

“I suppose not. I’ve met very few humans worth talking too either” the snake again ‘chuckled’ Ignatius smiled affectionately at it, then suddenly it dropped back to the ground and slithered towards the wood at the top of the riverbank.

The creatures tail disappeared into the foliage. Ignatius stood to follow it. He ran excitedly. Reaching the tree line, he was intending to continue onwards behind the snake, though he was stopped by someone grabbing his arm. It was Dante.

“You can’t seriously want to follow that thing! It could have attacked you!” he snapped.

“True, but it didn’t” Ignatius shrugged off his brothers arm and pushed through the foliage. The sounds of his companion’s footsteps following close behind.

The End

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