Tonight’s bedtime story is Chapter 3 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 3…
🎧 Bedtime Story Podcast #28
Chapter 3 – The Healing Tree
“My father hurt his leg,” I said to Fred the next morning. I was outside, now allowed to go out and play because my father was convinced someone had been breaking in to our house and wreaking havoc with his books.
“I can help,” Fred said.
“The Healing Tree,” Fred said.
“Is there a tree for everything?”
“Yes,” Fred said. “Absolutely everything. That’s why we need to save the Chatamanga Rainforest.”
“Yes, we. I have a plan, but I need your help.”
“Well, first help my dad,” I said. “We saw the books you had left all over the floor last night, but he’s half-pleased, at least, that all the words are now back in place.”
“I got them all done, just about,” said Fred. “So you’re forgiven now, then?”
“Yes. He thinks I had nothing to do with it. He apologised for being so hard on me and accusing me. He’s also forgiven me for ‘trying to turn it into a joke’ as he put it, for trying to say it was an intra-terrestrial.”
“He needs to come out into the forest,” Fred said. “He needs to follow me.”
“He’s on crutches.”
“So? The forest will support him. It’s not far, only about an hour’s walk.”
“An hour?” I was noticing that Fred seemed to think things were close, when to me they seemed far.
“There are far further places,” Fred said.
“How will I get him out here? If he sees you, he might do something to get you captured. I don’t think he’ll trust you.”
“Hmm,” Fred said. “Just get him here, to the gate. I’ll take care of the rest.”
Fred turned and started walking off into the woods.
“When?” I called after him.
“In two hours,” Fred called back.
Fred still didn’t realise the dangers. If my father walked up to our little garden gate and saw a strange-looking intra-terrestrial standing there, he would be straight on the phone to the police. I had terrible images in my mind of Fred being chased through the woods by a gang of uniformed men with rifles. I tried to put them out of my head.
“Dad?” I said. “Can you come with me to the bottom of the garden, at twelve o’clock?”
“Why?” My father was sitting on the sofa with his leg elevated on a stool. The bottom half of his leg below the knee was in a cast. He was wincing slightly, vaguely watching the news on television.
“Just…I think I have something that will help your leg.”
“Enough about my leg,” my father said. “I’ve just spent hours in hospital. I need to rest.”
“Yes,” I said, “yes, but…please, at twelve, just do me this one favour and I won’t ask you for anything ever again.”
He laughed and sighed.
“Okay,” he said. “So in about two hours? Leave me to nap here, and wake me up later.”
“Okay,” I said. “Thanks Dad.”
I left him alone on the sofa, and I wondered what Fred had in store.
At twelve o’clock my father was already awake, lying on the sofa now, flicking between news channels.
“Dad,” I said. “It’s twelve.”
“Okay,” he said, slowly groaning and pushing himself up to sit. He grabbed his crutches by his side and slowly pushed himself up to stand. He followed me as I led him out into the garden.
“What’s this all about?” he said to me. “The police are coming round in half an hour. I told them about what has been happening with my books, but they aren’t taking me all that seriously. I think I’m at the bottom of their priority list.”
When he said ‘police’, my heart stopped for a second. Police were good for catching bad guys, but I didn’t want them catching Fred.
“Just follow me,” I said, and as I reached the bottom of the garden, I stopped and opened the gate. Barney came trotting up alongside me again, as if he knew exactly what was about to happen. He seemed to know better than me.
“Okay,” my father said. “Anything else? Can I go back now? I know your mother said I should get plenty of fresh air, but…what is that?”
We looked into the distance and saw something short and brown with big feet and big hands walking towards us.
“Wallace. Wallace what is that?”
“Calm down, Dad,” I said. “That’s Fred.”
“No. No no no no that can’t be real. No. No. Get back inside the house.”
My father reached inside his pocket and took out his mobile phone. He started to dial.
“Yes, hello, my name is Henry Fenham, my address is…”
As my father explained his address, Fred reached us, and he realised what was happening.
“The authorities?” Fred said to me. His eyes looked slightly wider than normal.
I nodded. “Told you,” I said.
“I have something to report,” my father said. He was trying to hop in front of me to protect me. “There is a…”
Fred raised one of his big hands, and he snapped his fingers.
“There is an alien creature in front of me, I’m requesting help immediately, immediately please! Hello. Hello?”
My father looked at his phone. It was now switched off.
“What’s happened?” my father said. He was panicking.
Fred clicked his fingers again, and this time, instead of switching off the phone, he switched off my dad. My dad’s body went limp, and he started to fall towards the ground.
Fred rushed towards my father and caught him before he landed.
“What are you doing?” I said.
“I’m realising certain powers I have,” Fred said. “I went to the local library last night.”
“The library is closed at night,” I said.
“I know. It was empty. There’s so many books in there! You should have seen it, Wallace. It was extraordinary. I found one book that told me more about my past. I’ll explain later.”
Somehow Fred managed to hoist my father up onto one of his narrow shoulders, and balance him there like a plank of wood.
“How strong are you?” I said.
“It’s not me,” Fred said. “It’s the Earth. Sorry I had to turn him off, but he was going to make a terrible fuss. Now let’s go and get his leg fixed.”
“Okay,” I said, looking at Barney for reassurance. He just seemed to smile and pant at me with an eagerness that made me feel a little less unsettled.
“Follow me,” Fred said, and he turned away with my father balanced over his shoulder, and started to carry him off into the woods.
“The Healing Tree is now much closer than it was a few hours ago,” Fred said.
“What? What do you mean?” I said. I turned and looked back towards my house. I had closed the gate, and Barney was by my side, still looking as excited as ever.
“It has moved closer,” Fred said, “in response to your father’s pain.”
“How do you know?” I said.
“It’s obvious,” Fred said. “All you have to do is pay attention.”
“Well, where is it, which one is it?” I said.
“Over there,” Fred said, nodding his big head in the direction of a very ordinary-looking tree.
“That’s the one,” Fred said.
Fred carried my father towards the tree and lowered him down at the base.
“Ready?” he said to me. “Your father won’t be happy, and the tree will take control.”
“Okay,” I said, kneeling down beside Barney. “Okay, I’m ready.”
Fred snapped his fingers again and my father burst awake.
“Hello?” he said. “Hello?”
He looked at his hand as if he was still talking on the phone. Then he realised his hand was empty and he looked up at me.
“Get away from that thing, Wallace, it’s dangerous, it’s dangerous!”
“You are at the base of a Healing Tree,” Fred said. “All you have to do is ask it for healing.”
“Healing for what?” my father spluttered, trying to stand to one foot.
“For your leg.”
“Thief!” my father suddenly said. “Where is my phone?”
“I have it, Dad,” I said. “Please just calm down. Fred says that this tree can help heal your leg. I believe him. You should too.”
My father used the tree to push himself up on to one leg.
“Why can’t I hop?” my father said.
I looked at Fred. Fred said nothing.
“Why can’t I hop away!” my father shouted at Fred.
Fred just stared at him.
“Ordinarily I would let you hop away,” Fred said. “But I can’t. Wallace here won’t help me save the Chatamanga Forest unless I help fix your leg. So please, if you would be so kind, ask the tree to heal you.”
“Nope,” my father said. “Let me go.”
Fred sat down, then lay down on his back.
“You should have seen this library I was in,” Fred said to me, casually. “So many books. Absolutely everywhere! I learnt so much. So much about so many things. I even learnt more about this forest, things that seemed to be in my memory that needed help drawing out. I learnt more about…”
“Fine!” my father said. “If I just ask this tree to heal my leg, then you will let me go?”
Fred sat up.
“Yes,” Fred said.
“Okay.” My father turned to the tree. He knew he had no other option.
“Dear tree,” he said, very plainly. My father did have a respect for trees, he would often talk to me about the life processes going on within them.
“Dear tree,” he repeated, forcing himself to release all the resistance he had against what he was doing. “Please will you heal my leg?”
I felt the ground shake slightly. Barney barked, once.
I looked down at Fred, and saw that his mouth started to widen into a smile, and as the whole Earth seemed to drop by just an inch, the ground beside the tree opened up, and my father was sucked down into it.
Story written and read in English by Adam Oakley, Copyright © Adam Oakley