The Fairy Finders Chapters 7 and 8

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7. Canopy

Later that day, I spotted Freddie down at the river edge, I could tell by the slump of his shoulders that he was solemn, fishing vulnerable and alone.  I scampered down the tree to go and join him.  As I approached, he startled, and I felt bad for creeping up on him knowing how on edge we all were.

“What’s up, Fred?”

“Just fishing for dinner.”

“Why so glum?”

“I don’t know Otto, I just feel like something treasured has been lost, like our days of fun and freedom are somehow numbered. I used to be so content sitting here alone, fishing, but now I just feel sad and fearful.”

I contemplated all of this as Freddie’s fishing line became taut and he pulled up a small trout, he unhooked the fish and tossed him back into the river.

“What did you do that for?” I asked.

“He was only a tiddler. I only take them when there is a fair fight.”

I hated seeing Freddie so sad. I patted him firmly on the shoulder as I stood up. “Come with me. I have something to show you.”

He followed me as I headed up to the stargazing platform.

“Remember when we built this Fred, it was your idea.”

“Yeah, but look at everything all ruined now.” He motioned at the place stripped of our belongings and our beloved oak tree crudely carved with “Stinkin Kids Bog Off!”

“Come with me Fred,” I said. I indicated bounding up onto the roof and across the tree branches up to my tree canopy. “I wanted it to be finished before I showed anyone, but I think you’ll appreciate it and you might be able to help me complete it.” I looked back over my shoulder delighted to see Freddie’s eager grin back on his face.

I had found solace from all the fairy meddling working on my canopy in the trees. I was modelling my canopy on a spider’s web using bungee cords, and it was finally taking shape. We lay on our backs bouncing gently against the spring of the taut ropes, looking up at the sky above, feeling safe and untouchable up high with the birds and squirrels.

“Otto, this is amazing! How long have you been working on this?”

“Ever since our encounters with those blasted Potts fairies, I feel somehow safer up here. It gives me a clearer perspective on things being up high.”

We both sat up cross-legged and looked out across the green expanse of our forest, which looked to contain all the ancient mysteries of life. From up high, we could see the landscape stretching out beyond our wood like a long-loved Persian rug, threadbare, trodden underfoot. Vivid colours, Infinitely woven, a tapestry of colour and time.

All of a sudden we were broken out of our reverie by an awful commotion down below, we peered down through the web to see lots of people gathered around with clipboards and measuring zappers wearing yellow builders hats and high vis jackets looking serious and muttering this and that. We strained from the tree canopy to hear what they were saying but just caught odd words: ‘levelling’, ‘clearing’, ‘pylons’.

As they left, I saw a sheet of paper fall away from one of their clipboards.  We waited until they were out of sight and then we scampered down the tree to retrieve it. ‘Pylon Project Proposal’ the document title read. ‘Levelling 1000 square metres of Lichen Wood to provide pylons to serve electricity to the growing population in surrounding communities.’  There was a drawing depicting the new proposed pylon forest. Ugly, spiritless things, skinny trees stripped of their dignity and strung hopelessly together with cable.

“This has to stop!” Freddie said adamantly.

8. Pylons

That night, we called for an urgent meeting in the bunker.  Although a lot was going on, I think we were all secretly glad and a little bit smug that we had had the foresight to build the emergency bunker, it was becoming our regular hangout.  I stood up and announced what we had witnessed and passed around the sheet of paper

“We have to stop this proposal!” Freddie shouted.

“Agreed!” Isla shouted back.

“But how?” asked Fern.

We put our heads together that night and decided to put up signs on the trees to gather all the fairies for an emergency meeting.

We nailed signs to the trees.

‘Calling all fairies: Potts, Pipps, and Pimplesticks and any other fairy folk we have not yet made our acquaintance with.  We need to put our differences aside to face a bigger evil, the Pylon People. Emergency meeting at Oak & Elm Corner, Friday 2 pm. Free Hot Chocolate.’

We couldn’t believe our eyes at the number of fairies that arrived that afternoon.  The Potts all cheerily whistling with their rosy cheeks and smiley faces. The Pipps all hairy and dishevelled looking with faces like old boots, and The Pimplesticks taller and leaner with knobbly limbs and sludgy swampy coatings. We doled out hot chocolate as fast as we could with Fern and Freddie rushing to prepare more as we had not realised quite how many fairies there were.  We had made copies of the Pylon Proposal, so we handed them out with the hot chocolate and waited for the reactions.

The Potts were the first to start grumbling and grousing.

“How dare they!”

“Who do these people think they are!”

“Do they know how long we have dwelled here?”

“This is no place for Pylons. How dare they!” they shouted as they stomped their little booted feet.

The Pimplesticks were next to start raging and roaring and tearing the Pylon Proposal sheets to pieces with their hands and teeth before we could stop them.

The Pipps took longer to react and then said, “What can we do to stop them?”

“I don’t know, but all I do know is we stand a better chance if we put our differences aside and come together as one,” I said.

“Agreed,” concurred the Pipps as they jumped up on each other’s shoulders to stack fists with us in an agreement of solidarity. We looked beseechingly at the Pipps who stood firmly with their arms crossed and cross scrunched up faces to match.

“Well?” Isla demanded of them.

“Well, what?” Grouch replied. “What on earth do you childish idiot folk intend to do about it?”

“Yeah,” chimed in the Pimplesticks as an angry mob.

Fern stood up then graciously and said firmly and clearly:

“We don’t have all the answers, but we are intelligent enough to acknowledge that and to appreciate that coming together, we are much more likely to be able to save this wood. We cherish this place and understand that you do too, which is why you don’t like having to share it with us.  Let me ask you this, would you rather share the wood with us, or be left with no wood at all?” she asked, shaking the proposal in her hand with emphasis. “Are you in or are you out?”

The Potts and the Pimplesticks murmured between themselves until Grouch grudgingly nodded his head, and Sludge did too.  Freddie leapt to his feet and went forward to shake hands with each and every Pott and Pimplestick fairy. You could almost feel them softening to his charm and wide, enthusiastic grin.

“Come with us, up to the start gazing platform. We need some big ideas to tackle this one,” I suggested.  Everyone filed up taking a spot. Fern began to hand around pens and paper.

Jolly looked around and said enthusiastically, “You have yourselves a really nice place here, did you build it yourselves?”

“We did,” Isla replied proudly, looking around at us all with a warm smile.

Now that we had agreed that we needed to stop the Pylon Proposal, we sat around and tried to come up with ideas of how to stop them.

“We could tie ourselves to the trees,” Isla suggested.

“Or we could tie you up!” smirked one of the Potts.

“Now now,” Jolly intervened. “Let’s keep this friendly.”

“We could break their machines,” suggested Grot.

“And then their bones,” said Grim menacingly.

“Is there not a friendlier solution?” Fern asked.

“I suppose we could gather the animals too,” suggested one of the Pipps.

“The animals too, can we really!?” I asked.

“Well we normally keep ourselves separate, but I suppose they could come in useful,” growled Grim.

“This is their wood as much as ours, so they have a right to be involved,” said Jolly.

Grouch retorted, “Well the wood rightfully belongs to the Potts, the eldest Yew dwellers, lest you forget.”

“Ok, Ok, no need to disagree, we are a team now against the Pylon People, remember?” I said

“So how do we get the animals involved?” asked Freddie.

“Well we will have to consult with Mrs Maple first,” said Burly

“Who is she?” Fern asked.

“She is the leader of the Owl pack and a real dynamo. She will get word out to the other animals. She will only meet at nighttime though,” Burly replied.

That night, we were all excited to stay awake until midnight to meet Mrs Maple, but our enthusiasm turned to yawns, and we had to take it in 30-minute shifts to stay awake. When midnight finally struck on our red brrringgy alarm clock, we awoke drowsily to:

“Well children, I haven’t got all day, what is it you have to say?  Come on, make it crisp. I’ve got mice to catch and cryptic crosswords to do.”

Isla rubbed her eyes and said, “Pylon, help!”

“My oh my, I knew you earthlings were dim but honestly can you not even string a sentence together?”

Freddie gathered himself and shoved the pylon proposal at Mrs Maple. Mrs Maple took on a pensive look and read the proposal for what seemed like an age. She then stared straight ahead. None of us could catch her eye.

I said, “Mrs Maple…,” but got shushed by her before I had a chance to finish.

We all waited in silence for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally, Mrs Maple said, “You have done the right thing involving us, I will give you that. Now you dimwits can leave it to me.”

With that, Mrs Maple swooped off into the night.

***

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