I tumble through the inky darkness of space. Stars twinkle and pass me by as I brace myself for the inevitable impact. I close my eyes tight, clench my fists and then strike something soft and bouncy like a bed. My body bounces a few more times, I could be on a trampoline. At last, I stop bouncing, breathe a sigh of relief and open my eyes.
Daylight already? Grey clouds float above me, not the familiar white ceiling of my bedroom. I must be still asleep. Hang on, did I fall out of bed? No pillow, no duvet, only soft, damp wool beneath me.
"What a funny dream," I giggle.
My laugh dies in my throat when I realise, this might not be a dream. A cool wind blows on my face. The loudness of London has vanished. No cars drive by, no sirens wail and no people shout. Nothing, only a disconcerting silence.
I sit up and gaze around at my colourful surroundings. The sun, low in the sky, peeps out from behind a cloud. My landing place is high up. Multi-coloured hexagons like a honeycomb stretch as far as I can see. Sheep graze in blue-green fields too.
I stand, still shaking after my fall, and peer down the slope. A mysterious figure marches uphill, stiff-legged like a soldier. The human shape that reaches the top is shorter than me, and made of a light brown wool.
I gasp and gawp in disbelief at a living doll. It has thin woollen legs and wears wooden shoes. An oval face with dark brown eyes stares back at me. Eyes, but no nose or mouth. That’s creepy. The doll's black wool hair is short and frames its face. What should I do? What I do best, I guess, talk.
"Hello, I'm Jayne."
The figure walks awkwardly towards me, but I stand firm. The doll raises its arm and holds out a mitten-shaped hand. I grasp the soft wool gingerly and drop the hand again in surprise. As clear as a school bell, a girl's voice sounds in my head. The voice is quite posh, not like my London accent at all.
I am Marula. Who are you?
"Jayne... But, you can't hear me with no ears. Shame."
Yes, I can Jayne. I can understand your thoughts as you say them.
What? The words frighten me. I don't want Marula to poke around in my mind.
"So, you can read my mind? How embarrassing," I say with a gentle smile.
A smile is my defence mechanism. A smile gives you time to think. A chance to devise an excuse for forgotten homework. Time for my brain to ask important questions: Where am I? How did I arrive here? Why am I talking to a telepathic doll?
Please do not worry Jayne. You are not a patchworlder, so I can only read your thoughts when you want me to.
A silver domed metal thimble wanders over to us. Up and down it hops like a little metallic frog. It pauses, then scampers away, down the other side of the hill.
“What’s that? An enchanted thimble?”
Before Marula can answer, the air shimmers like a heat haze. A blue eye with elegant, curvy eyelashes appears, and hovers in the air. It scans us and moves up and down. Without warning, the eye winks twice and disappears.
What the? Enough, I'm done, I can't cope with this odd place. I stand glued to the spot petrified, like a mouse facing a cat. Marula taps me on the shoulder.
I race down the stripy woollen hill as fast as possible. I reach the bottom before Marula and look back. I chuckle to myself as Marula rolls down the hill. Her progress is slow at first, but her speed increases until she reaches me in a crumpled heap.
I help Marula to her feet. She must have slipped, can't be easy walking when your knees don't bend.
Something amusing? Marula asks.
"Sorry, you looked so funny."
We turn around and freeze. I hold my breath and Marula's mitten-like hand. The creepy eye is back, and now a mouth too. That smile, warm and friendly? Or scary and sinister. The peculiar apparition winks twice and disappears. I breathe out with a huge sigh of relief.
"Phew! What is that thing? Is it local?"
No, I have never seen a floating eye before. Where is thimble? Thimble! Come here, now!
After a while, the amiable thimble returns and hops towards us. Marula seems to talk to it, before it hops away.
I should take you home.
"But you can’t take me to my home, can you.”
I know that, but I would like it if you returned home with me.
"What if I stay out here on this... this... gigantic blanket?"
Well you could, I cannot stop you. But I want to help you, if I can.
I am reluctant, but agree to follow the doll to her home. I want to be asleep in bed. Not on a vast blanket with eerie eyes, thimbles that hop and living dolls.
What's going on? Has a car hit me? Am I now lying in a hospital bed, with a machine that beeps and keeps me alive? I try to think, to remember yesterday. I was at Mum's, had tea, watched a film and went to bed. Of course, this is a dream. And yet, everything appears so real. I can see my breath in the cold air.
We head to Marula's home, which is a huge, lime green circular tent.
This is my home, she tells me, taking my hand.
The place is a bit like the TARDIS, much bigger inside than I expected. There is a canvas ceiling and hessian flooring, like the sacks they use on school sports day. Smaller coloured tents are attached to the main tent. Marula starts a guided tour.
Welcome to my home, the Froot clan-tent. That one is Grampy's workent and the cream one is Conference's craftent. And this is my sleepent.
Inside Marula’s blue ‘sleepent’, is a canary yellow sofa. Instead of a comfy bed, she sleeps on a large mattress on the floor, covered by a rainbow-coloured, crocheted blanket. I sit down heavily, like someone who's received some bad news. Marula sits down too, neither of us knows what to do next.
I listen. This clan-tent is more like a library than a family home. No loud chatter or radios blaring music; only soft shuffling sounds coming from elsewhere in the tent.
"How many of you are there?" I ask.
Soon there will be lots. My Grampy unravelled last week, his sequin heart became lost to us. So, as many of the Froot clan as possible, are coming here for the rememberal.
I’m confused, is her Grampy lost? What's a rememberal? Marula's thoughts are in English, but with a smattering of odd words I don't know.
I am thirsty, I hope I wake up in my bedroom now and go and grab a drink.
"Any chance of a drink Marula? I'm dry as a cracker."
Patchworlders don't need to drink or eat or breathe. We are fabric beings.
Marula's thoughts tell me something I did not expect.
What are Patchworlders? I wonder. I must be dreaming, but what if I'm not?
I can feel the knobbly, yellow crochet sofa through my pyjamas. The hessian floor is rough under my bare feet. I am warmer inside the tent than outside where a cool breeze blows. I have a major problem. If this is real, I will die of thirst.
"I'm a human being. We need water and food to keep our bodies working. I won't survive here without them..."
I start to cry, tears stream hot down my face. She looks at me with her unblinking, brown woollen eyes. She doesn't seem to understand my problem until suddenly, she gets up.
Jayne! There is water but we don't need to drink. We use it to clean and to create dyes.
I close my eyes. I want to scream. To calm my sense of panic, I breathe in and then out slowly for a bit. Then I open my eyes, and wipe my eyes with my pyjama sleeve.
"Sorry, this is all so scary, and weird. As Dorothy would say, I'm not in Camden any more."
What's wrong with me? Although terrified, I still can't resist a film reference. Unlike Dorothy, I don't even have a little dog for company.
Time to fetch you some water, Marula thinks, taking charge and my hand too.
Outside the tent, she leads me downhill to a little spring that bursts from between two rocks. I don’t care whether it is drinkable or not. I cup my hands, the water pours in and I drink greedily. The cold and refreshing liquid sloshes down my throat.
"Thank you, much better," I say and manage a smile.
Is this real or just a fantasy? I can't decide yet, so I trudge back uphill to Marula's clan tent.
Merci pour la lecture!
Nous pouvons garder Inkspired gratuitement en affichant des annonces à nos visiteurs. S’il vous plaît, soutenez-nous en ajoutant ou en désactivant AdBlocker.
Après l’avoir fait, veuillez recharger le site Web pour continuer à utiliser Inkspired normalement.