Tonight’s bedtime story is Chapter 7 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.
I hope you enjoy Chapter 7…
🎧 Bedtime Story Podcast #45
Chapter 7 – The Landing
Fred was right. It was scary. For a few moments it felt as if I was dying, as if my body was being torn apart and I was about to lose everything I ever cherished in the world. I couldn’t feel Fred’s hand anymore. I was tense, trying to grip to something for stability but only grasping at empty space. It was dark ahead of me and around me, and then I saw a faint green light.
“That way,” I heard Fred say.
I could feel more of my body again. I started to run, further and further and faster and faster towards the green light in the distance, until I ran directly into it, and soon enough I was sitting in front of a log cabin, beside an enormous and vast forest, and Fred was sitting next to me.
“Okay?” he said to me.
“Yeh,” I said, looking at my hands and my clothes. Everything seemed normal again.
“Are we here?” I said. I could feel a tremendous heat in the air.
“Yes,” Fred said, “this is Chatamanga. The fires will reach here soon unless we do something to stop them.”
“So the fires are close?” I said.
“No. Not yet,” Fred said. “But someone who helped start the fires is here.”
I looked to the left and right, and then walked away from the cabin to see what was behind it. We were in a small village. I could see some dogs, and a few children playing around the other small cabins. Some cabins looked more like huts.
“Here?” I said. “People here started the fires?”
“I think so,” Fred said. “Someone here knows all about the fires and how they started. This is the village I saw in my vision. A large man here is in charge. If we can find him, then we might have a chance of stopping the fires.”
“Can’t we stop the fires ourselves?” I said. “Can’t we…I don’t know, get a load of water or something?”
Fred shook his big head from side to side. He seemed remarkably calm. I expected more urgency from him.
“No,” he said. “Water is scarce here, and these fires are not normal fires. I have seen them in visions. They are not man-made.”
“Not man-made?” I said. “I thought you said you saw people planning it?”
“I did,” Fred said, “but they aren’t the ones who actually set fire to the forest.”
I was confused. I stopped looking around and stared at Fred.
“You have to trust me,” Fred said. “All will become clear soon.”
Suddenly I just wanted to go back home. This was becoming all too much.
I took a deep breath in.
“You can go back home if you want,” Fred said. “But we will have to go into the forest and hope any portal leaves have not been burned already.”
I thought about going home. I wasn’t sure if I was still needed here.
“Do you still need my help?” I said.
“Yes,” Fred said.
“You are more powerful than you realise.”
I didn’t say anything. Fred closed his eyes and began to speak. “I saw the four men in my vision, discussing the fires, and they were talking about ways they could go about it. Some of them were talking about using matches and dry pieces of paper and wood, but there was one man who had another idea. He was talking about something called a Firestarter.”
Fred opened up the book he had been carrying.
“Look,” he said. “Look here.”
There was a page about a creature called a Firestarter. The sketch by the author was a tall, spindly, flame-covered creature with four arms, two legs, and a face that looked like an angry goat with horns. I didn’t like the look of it at all.
“Look,” Fred said, pointing with a long finger. “Read here.”
I read the words out loud:
“The Firestarter responds only to those who genuinely seek destruction, and his services always come at a price. He was born from a Waterbearer, and rebelled against the teachings of his family when he was very young. He lives alone, angry and outcast by his own volition, and in order to start and continue spreading his fires, he needs to be fed regularly.”
I looked at Fred. “What does he feed on?” I said.
“Keep reading!” Fred said.
“The Firestarter feeds off human beings. But he does not feast on the bodies. He feeds off their minds. He keeps the bodies alive and well, hidden within old, decaying trees that he hollows out for the storage of his prisoners. There he keeps the bodies protected, but their minds in turmoil. He casts an old spell known as a mind union with his prisoner, and feeds off their emotional pain, their fears and worries and dreads, until there is nothing left to feed on anymore. What the Firestarter does not know, is that there is more power in joy than there is in pain.”
Fred looked at me. “Carry on,” he said. I kept reading:
“The Firestarter needs other people’s pain to spread his fires. He considers this his payment. Without people’s pain and a connection to his mind, the fires have no power to spread themselves further.”
Fred turned to another page. “A Waterbearer might be able to help us, but they are rare these days,” he said. “Look.” He pointed to the drawing of a big round lady sitting on a lake at the top of the page. Information about the Waterbearer was written beneath. I read aloud again:
“In times of drought, the Waterbearers rise from the Earth and sacrifice themselves to bring back balance to areas suffering from a lack of water. As occurrences of drought have increased over the years, Waterbearers have begun to die out faster than they can multiply. Few are left in existence.”
“We can’t rely on the Waterbearers,” Fred said, “but we can’t rule them out either. It says here that they rise of their own accord. They can’t be called upon. But the Firestarter can. He can be called out from wherever he is hiding by someone who seeks more destruction. Maybe we can get the Firestarter to take back what he started. We will have to use a man from the village as bait.”
I wasn’t sure.
“Do you have any better ideas?” Fred said.
“No,” I said.
Fred picked up the book and started to walk towards the forest behind me.
“Stay there,” he said. “I need to free my hands.” I watched as he approached the forest border and trotted off into the trees. He disappeared. For a moment I was alone, and I wondered what I was doing with such a strange creature, and so far away from home. I soon saw Fred returning, no longer holding the book.
“What happened?” I said.
“I left the book in safe hands. Safer than mine.”
“The Book Keeper’s. Surely you have read about her.”
My memory wasn’t clear.
“We can collect the book at any time, don’t worry,” Fred said. “Now it is time to do our work. Follow me, Wallace.” Fred marched past me and began to move into the village. Already I knew it was a mistake. The first person to see him was a young child playing football, and as soon as he saw Fred walking towards him, he began to scream.
Story written and read in English by Adam Oakley, Copyright © Adam Oakley