[Note: The featured photograph comes courtesy of my friend, Judith Cassis, and is used by permission]
I sat at my bedroom window, watching the last rays of the setting sun peer over Lickey Hills.
I’d gone through the motions of piano practice on my side of the semi-detached, after swotting with Stan for an hour or so at his. Cressida, seemingly anxious to leave for the day, had called me for an early supper – Mum and Dad not having arrived home yet – bringing piano practice to a mercifully untimely but welcome conclusion.
“Now’s as good a time as any,” I thought, as the sun’s final rays vanished, leaving my room in the early afterglow of civil twilight, and the shadows only beginning to reach out from the crannies and corners.
I thumbed the pages of the old nursery rhyme book a moment. Then I turned on the entry way light, partially to accommodate Mum and Dad, partially to allow a mere scrap of light – but only a scrap – to leak into my room – enough to foof-up and comb my pompadour, change into my black dress shirt and – most important – to put on the onyx cufflinks.
Then I closed the bedroom door, lay on the bed, secure in the knowledge Mum and Dad would simply think I’d been out on some sort of fancy frolic if they were to look in and see me lying there, and let the ever mounting shades from the end of the day envelope me. I idly thumbed the book once more, as I lay there in the semi-darkness. Whatever would happen would happen, but I was curious to discover how it would work out.
I lay there for at least ten minutes.
Then, I heard gentle strains of a harp and a soft, sweet soprano voice, though the lyrics of her song were nonsense syllables; there was a gentle vibration within the bed, like the purr of a cat. In spite of my determination not to, I began to drift off to sleep.
suddenly, the bed began to shake violently, as if it were suddenly taking on a life of its own and wasn’t the least bit happy about it – to the extent I could hear its legs bouncing on the floor.
I opened my eyes to see a kaleidoscopic version of the Northern Lights shining and shifting above my head. Another light flashed, and the shaking ceased; I was now resting securely on a hard, but cradle-like, surface, rocking as the Northern Lights now spun in a spiral, through what appeared to be some stout tree branches.
The light of a full moon, plus the Northern Lights and that of the twilight provided me with enough illumination for me to sit up and get my bearings. I was not, as I’d initially believed in a cradle, so much as I was in a hard, pod-like cot, too large for an infant, too small for an adult, but perfect for someone my size. It was wedged solidly between two principal limbs of the largest yew tree I’d ever seen, with a trunk that must have easily been six meters in diameter.
There were two other modules like it, perhaps for babysitters or the like, though mine was the only one occupied at that moment. But there must have been dozens of baby cradles, hanging down from the larger branches by what appeared to be wicker-like bands, rocking back and forth to an icy but light breeze.
© 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.
The Bluebottle Boys (Volume One) and Walking Backward for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall are each now available from Amazon Books. The Bluebottle Boys (Volume Two) is expected to be available shortly. The next novel of the series, By Good Angels Tenanted, will be available later in 2018