Tonight’s bedtime story is Chapter 2 from my book, “Fred: The Creature Sent To Save Us All.” This is an adventure story for ages 7 and up, with strong themes about environmental protection and the power of the mind. Every Friday I will share another chapter from the book, so if you enjoy the story, you can always follow along next week.
I hope you enjoy chapter 2…
🎧 Bedtime Story Podcast #23
Chapter 2 – The Discovery
The next day was Saturday. Fred had told me he was going to spend the night in the woods so that I could get some rest. It had only taken him an hour to read every book we had in the house.
“Good morning, Wallace,” my father said as he came downstairs. My younger sister, Amy, was already awake, outside in the garden. I could hear my mum getting out of bed upstairs.
“Hi, Dad,” I said. I was sitting at the kitchen table, looking out of the window, not knowing if I should be honest with him or not.
“Dad,” I said, watching him fill up his glass of water. “Dad, what would you do if I found some sort of alien last night, some sort of creature that emerged out of that hole you dug with Amy for burying treasure?”
He snorted slightly at the idea.
“I don’t know,” he said, thinking I was just playing with him. “Call the authorities, I expect.”
“Call the authorities?”
“Yes.” My father was usually quite serious about everything. “If you actually discovered an extra-terrestrial out in our own back garden, then it would be my duty as a citizen and homeowner to contact the authorities immediately. It could be dangerous.”
“What if it wasn’t? What if it was a good alien, something that didn’t want to harm us. Maybe even want to help us?”
My father turned the kettle on.
“I’m not sure about that,” he said, getting two cups out of the cupboard.
“And what if it said it wasn’t from somewhere else?” I said. “What if it said it was from here? From this planet?”
“That would be an intra-terrestrial,” my father said, getting a teabag from a little pot on the counter. “They usually come up from the Earth. Well, that’s the idea, anyway.” He cleared his throat.
“Have you ever seen one?” I said. “An alien? Or an intra-terrestrial?”
“Wallace, why all these questions?”
There was a pause. My father stared at the wall in front of him.
“Um, well when I was a boy, I do remember seeing something. I’m sure it was just my imagination though. Something…the memory is hazy for me now. I’m sure I saw something. I told my father, he…”
My sister Amy ran into the kitchen.
“Dad, what treasure shall we put in our time capsule to bury in the garden?” she said.
My father started pouring boiling water into his cup.
“Oh, I’m still not sure, my dear. We were wondering, weren’t we? We were wondering what treasure could be placed at the bottom of that hole…”
My sister started to come up with ideas of what they could put in there. She was suggesting toys, money or pieces of silver. I stopped listening. I thought of Fred emerging out of the ground, and thought that perhaps he was the treasure that they had been asking for.
I wasn’t allowed far into the woods by myself. My parents always told me I had to keep the gate open and remain in sight of the house. I opened the gate after breakfast and stared into the wilderness of trees.
“Fred?” I whispered. “Are you there?”
Barney had been trotting around the garden for a while, waiting for me to come out and join him. Now he stood beside me, staring just like I was, and panting.
I took a step outside of the gate. I looked around. I couldn’t see him anywhere. I was wondering if he might jump out of a tree.
“Wallace!” I heard my father call from inside the house. “Wallace!”
I turned around and approached the house. He looked unpleasantly angry at the back door.
“What’s happened to all of my books?” he snapped as he marched out towards me.
“What do you mean?”
He was nearly trembling.
“They are all out of order. Every one of them. I had them all in alphabetical order, perfectly arranged. I go to my bookshelf today and they are all jumbled up. Not only that, but look!”
He approached me with a large book about tropical rainforests, and he opened it at a random page.
“The words are gone! All of them are gone. Wiped off the page! Do you know anything about this?”
“You must do! The last thing I did last night was look at my bookshelf. You know how I like to just look at it sometimes. Everything was in order. Everything was perfect. There were certainly words on the pages last time I checked! You were the only one who got up in the night to let Barney out, and then I come downstairs to this! Explain this to me. Is this one of your little pranks you like to play?”
I shook my head.
“So you don’t know anything about this?”
I looked around. Even if I told him, he wouldn’t believe me. But it was either tell him the truth, or lie.
“Dad, last night something did appear out of that hole in the ground,” I said, pointing to the dark empty void beside his feet. “It was an intra-terrestrial, I think. I named him Fred. He was placed there by a big flash of light, and he emerged out of the ground, really thirsty, unable to speak the language. I think he could understand some English though. He ate a dictionary, sorry about that, but when I gave him your books to read he…”
“Stop! Stop this, Wallace! You are grounded. No playing outside for a week. If you aren’t going to be truthful with me then you simply must be punished. Get inside. Now.”
I turned around to look through the gate. I expected to see Fred there, waiting for me, waving, hoping he could show me things in the forest that he seemed to want to show me last night. But he wasn’t there. I turned around, leaving Barney still staring out into the woods, and I followed my father’s pointing finger, and went inside the house.
That night was hot. I was sweating, just lying in bed. I had no idea why it was suddenly so hot. The day had been quite cool, from what I could guess as I sat inside all day hearing my father complaining downstairs about all of his books being wiped of their words.
I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, and I had that same feeling from the night before. Something was about to happen. My window was slightly open due to the heat, and I heard a clambering and panting noise coming from outside.
I jumped up and ran to my window, and before I could open it fully, I saw a brown, long-fingered hand reaching in through the window and pulling up the rest of the body that was unmistakeably Fred’s.
I pushed the window open to let him in. He looked exhausted. He clambered in with a few grunts, rolled through the window and lay sprawled out again, on my floor.
“What a day I’ve had,” Fred said.
“Where have you been?” I said. “Do you need water?”
“Yes, please,” Fred said, and I handed him what I had, a large bottle of water beside my bed.
“Why is it so hot?” I said, beginning to swell up with questions.
“Something bad has happened,” Fred said, guzzling the water and then sitting up to face me. I sat on the end of my bed while he sat on the floor.
“There is a forest about to burn, not far away from here.”
“The Chatamanga Forest.”
“You mean the rainforest? That’s miles away. That’s overseas.”
“It’s closer than you think,” he said. “It’s going to burn. People want to burn it to make space for what they want. We have to stop it.”
“I don’t know yet.”
“How do you know all of this?”
“The Earth told me. I saw them planning it in my mind. They won’t be able to stop it if they start burning it.”
“Maybe it was a bad dream,” I said. “Maybe you are imagining it?”
Fred sighed, as if I had just said something stupid.
“Why is it so hot?” I said, wiping the sweat off my head.
“It’s me,” Fred said. “I’m hot. I’m angry. My first day above ground and I’m seeing everything going wrong.”
“Do you have any more memories yet, of where you came from?”
“Faint ideas,” Fred said, “but nothing for certain.”
He stood up and began to walk around the room.
“I need to calm myself down. I know just the place. Do you want to come with me?”
“Somewhere in the forest. There’s a tree that takes away anger so that you can think clearly again.”
“The rules?” Fred said.
“Yeh,” I said. “I just can’t.”
“Very well,” Fred said. His English was better than it was last night. It must have been all that reading.
“You stole all the words out of my father’s books!” I suddenly remembered. “I didn’t realise that! I knew you read them in a very strange way, but I didn’t realise you would take away all the words with you!”
“I did what?” Fred said. The room seemed to cool. I think he was distracted from the rainforest problem he had been focusing on.
“Yeh, all the words, they are just wiped off the page,” I said. “Now I’m grounded.”
I had a memory of Fred reading last night. He would just hold a book out in front of him with one hand underneath, and then place his other hand on top. Then he would close his eyes, start muttering to himself, and a little golden light would shine out through his fingers. Then it would fade, and he would say he had read the whole thing.
“I didn’t mean to do that,” he said. “I can put them back. They are all stable in my system now, so I can put them back. Where is the bookshelf?”
“Downstairs, the room directly on your left with the telephone in it.”
“Very good,” Fred said, approaching my bedroom door. “I will not be long.”
I had stopped sweating. Fred seemed to have forgotten about the Chatamanga Forest’s impending doom for a moment.
“Be quiet!” I said as he was about to walk out. “If my dad sees you he’ll call the authorities. They might take you away!”
Fred nodded while facing the door. He opened it, walked out of my room, and he made his way slowly down the stairs.
Fifteen minutes passed. I didn’t hear a sound. I opened my bedroom door and then noticed I could hear something. A muttering sound, and a faint golden light was shining up the stairs onto my parents’ door.
I heard my father get out of bed. He was going to use the toilet, which was right by the top of the stairs.
Fred was still muttering down there. He hadn’t heard my father. I didn’t know what to do. I just shouted down the stairs:
The golden light disappeared and my father walked out of the bedroom, feeling for the walls without his glasses.
“Wallace, not so loud!” he hissed. “Did you have a light on? There was a light coming from somewhere, I haven’t got my glasses on, I…”
He then heard the clicking noise of the back door to the garden being opened and closed downstairs.
“There’s someone down there!” my father hissed, more fiercely. He leapt in front of me, where my voice had come from, and with his poor sight and lack of light, he tripped, slipped and started falling down the staircase.
It was a terrible sight. He bounced and yelped and rolled and crashed down the stairs and lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom, by the front door.
“Dad!” I said. I turned a light on and ran downstairs.
“Get behind me,” he said, protecting me as he tried to look around for burglars.
“I’m sure I heard something,” he said. “The back door.”
As we looked through the house, through the closed glass door which led out to the garden, I saw the glint of the forest gate swinging open and closed in the moonlight, which I was sure my father could not see.