Chapter 1 from Tommy and the Manawar's Eye

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by Tim Burdick

     “Stick to your parrots and leave the rugby to us, Bird Boy !”  Jason threatened as he shoved Tommy to the ground.  On his knees, Tommy glimpsed at something being stuck over his eyes.  “What ar. . .” he mumbled.  Touching his forehead, he discovered feathers glued all over an old padded helmet.  I must look ridiculous.

    “Why are you crawling parrot lover?  Can’t you fly?”  Jason teased.  The boys crowded around forming a tight circle.  Tommy looked up.  In the hazy sun, their sweaty faces wore hungry grins.  He felt like a bug about to be eaten.
    Get going before they get better ideas.  Tommy scurried forward and tripped as his untied shoes fell off.  The kids roared with laughter.  Seeing his chance, he sprang from the ground and pushed through the circle, slipping by a boy caught in a fit of giggles.
    “HEY !”  Jason shouted as Tommy sprinted barefoot across the cool grass.  He picked up a rock and threw it at Tommy’s back.
    “Fly away, Bird Boy! Don’t come back !”  the kids chanted as they also hurled stones.  Across the school yard Jason led a pack of bullies after Tommy, who ducked and dodged the flurry of rocks, trying to make himself a harder target to hit.
    Keep going.  Don’t look back.  He darted straight for the tree line at the edge of the rugby field.  The thick rows of evergreen held their green arms wide to hide him as he dashed through dry branches that scratched his cheeks; but, Tommy didn’t care.
    Swish, swish, thunk, thunk.  Stones were breaking through the leafy wall.  Sharp rocky missiles whizzed by his ear.
    “Keep your Kea! Bird Boy !”  the taunts grew louder.  Tommy ran further into the woods until he found a footpath.  They’re getting closer.  He glanced over his shoulder.  But, further back, the boys couldn’t see him as they stumbled onto the path.  He dropped to the ground and scampered under a tree.
    The low hanging limbs concealed Tommy in their shade as the boys mobbed past his hiding place.  He thought, I can’t stay here forever.  Mum will worry if I’m not home at six o’clock.  The sounds of the noisy boys gradually grew distant.  Are they gone?   He peeked his head out.  The path was empty.
    Wiping the dirt from his cheeks, Tommy waited a few more moments to be safe.  Lying there, he remembered standing in front of his class that morning.  His stomach churned as Mr. Farmer, the science teacher, headed to the back of the room.  Tommy started to give his report on the Kea mountain parrot when a spitball hit him in the forehead.  As he scanned the faces of his snickering classmates, Tommy saw Jason smirked at him.  Why doesn’t he like me?  I don’t get it and maybe, I never will. 
    Now, sitting in his leafy burrow, sweating, Tommy thought I guess, I should lose this stupid feather helmet and sweater.  As he raised it off his head, he felt something pulling his hair.  Oh great, gum and left it there.  Mum will have to get it off.  He tried tugging the sweater off over the helmet but the tight collar got caught.  He gave up and trudged along the path trying to forget his horrible day at school. 
    Eventually, Tommy heard the quiet trickling of a stream.  This sound reminded him of his grandmother’s bubble-shaped pool.  He imagined floating in cool water with no one bothering him and enjoying a warm summer afternoon.  He grinned to himself as he wandered along under a thick canopy of ferns leading deeper into the forest.
    Passing a mossy green tree, Tommy stopped and listened.  A loud buzzing filled the air as if thousands of cicadas sat above watching him.  He paused, studying the branches hanging over him.  Are those bugs?  Something rustled through the leaves.  A brownish streak passed within inches of his face. 
    “Wha !” he cried out in surprise.  Ugh, gross?  He stumbled back a step.  On the dirt path ahead of him, a hairy brown spider landed and scurried along heading into the under brush.  Does it have a blue splotch on its back?
    After hesitating, he slowly lowered himself to the ground.  Curiously, he picked his way through the clumps of wild brush for several minutes.  Maybe, Dad could tell me what type it is.
    Leaving the cover of some tall brown grass, the spider made its way down the side of a deep ravine.  Standing, Tommy found an elm, and held onto a branch as he leaned forward watching the hairy spider inch over large tangles of roots.
    It’s like a thumbprint or something on its back.  He inched his right foot forward.  Suddenly, the firm ground slipped away.  His view went upside down as the grass and sky tumbled together.  He closed his eyes as his head spun.  As he slowed down towards the bottom, “Please stop,” he pleaded.  Feeling dizzy, he landed with a SNAP, and then plunged into darkness. 

1 comment

  • Liz Allen

    Very suspenseful! Great writing!!

    Liz Allen 03 November, 2013

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