Sunday, 11 November 2012

Prologue


Arthur Ness ran.

He ran so fast that his chest was bursting, his head was pounding and his legs were burning up from the inside. ‘You’d best stop running right now!’ his legs were threatening him, ‘Or we’ll never work for you again!

But Arthur Ness did not stop running. One of the witch’s spells blasted right past his head, its bright, white light flashing in his eyes as it exploded against a nearby wall.

Arthur Ness ran faster.

Somewhat unnecessarily, the talking cat next to Arthur shouted,

Run, Arthur!”

There were times that Arthur Ness needed advice – like what to do about the boys at school that bullied him. Or whether it was okay to feel bad that his father was off fighting Hitler in the war (when he knew he was supposed to feel proud). Or how to handle being scared of everything all the time. Yes, all those things Arthur gladly admitted that he could do with some advice on.

Being chased by an evil witch and several huge, snarling bull-creatures that ran on their hind legs and brandished giant swords and axes..? He didn’t need advice on that. He knew just what to do.

“Arthur Ness!” screeched the witch. “You shall not defy me!”

“Don’t listen to her, Arthur,” the talking cat called. “Just keep running!”

More unnecessary advice. ‘It’s alright for you,’ thought Arthur, ‘you’ve got four legs!

But having the Cat with him – even though they were running for their lives from Lady Eris and the Yarnbulls – somehow made Arthur feel better.

A little.

“This way!” the Cat shouted while darting left through a stone doorway. Arthur huffed and puffed and put his head down and sprinted after him. The doorway was ancient and medieval-looking just like the rest of the castle and it looked identical to a hundred others they’d passed. Arthur didn’t have the spare energy to wonder just how the Cat knew his way around here or where they were going. But even though he’d only known the Cat for a short time and even though he was the first talking cat he’d ever met and even though he’d never really liked cats in the first place, Arthur Ness trusted him. So he followed the Cat through the doorway.

It led outside.

To a cliff.

Which meant that they were-

“-trapped..!” was all Arthur could manage in-between pants of breath.

The Cat had led them to a dead end. Arthur glanced quickly around as his rasping, clinging lungs slowly sucked air back into his body. He looked around for a way out. Gradually, the details of their surroundings leaked through to Arthur’s brain. But each detail was followed by another that meant everything made less sense instead of more…

Yes, they were now outside the castle (and it was a huge, imposing place, he noted).

It was nighttime. Everything was dark with just a splash of moonlight.

They were standing at the edge of a cliff.

All good so far.

But that’s when things started to get a bit weird…

First - there was no sky. Nothing. It was just black. No clouds. No stars. No moon. Nothing. Just a sun.

A sun. At night.

Next, the cliff they were standing on the edge of – it went down to more nothing. Not ground. Not sea. Just more nothing. It was as if Arthur, the Cat and the castle were all standing on a bit of ground that was just floating in the middle of all that… nothing.

The final strange detail was that there was a cable attached to the ground, right next to their feet. A huge cable. About as thick as Arthur’s body. And it stretched away into the black nothingness. Stretched away into the darkness and disappeard. Whatever it was attached to, Arthur couldn’t see. It was probably a long way away, beyond the dark.

All these things made no sense to Arthur and under other circumstances, he might have said things like ‘wow!’ and ‘oh my gosh!’ and other such gems of exclamation.

Lady Eris and the Yarnbulls stepped out of the doorway toward him and the Cat – her hands were glowing white, their weapons were shining.

Arthur Ness wasn’t here under other circumstances. He was here under these circumstances.

“And now, Arthur  Ness…” Lady Eris sneered, her eyes dark, her breath not at all heavy or rasping like his, “…and you, my feline tormentor…” she said to the Cat, her hands raised towards the pair, glowing white, “…your running is at an end.”

That’s when the huge, stretched-out cable began to shake.

And shake.

And shake.

And the Cat smiled. 

one : the big house at the end of the village >>> 

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