T is for "The Skunkawug of Slimeland"

T: The Skunkawug of Slimeland

(An extract from piece of children's fiction I wrote at uni.)

“Deep in the heart of Slimeland
The Skunkawug lives there.
He lives on human body parts.
So children: please BEWARE!”

Mum always told the same story before bedtime, but it never got boring.       
 “Tell us it again, Mum,” Rebecca would ask, pulling the duvet up to her ears, her toes curling into the mattress.                             
“Yeah… we’re not scared,” Hannah would declare, trying to ignore the shiver that ran up and down her spine just thinking about it.   
“Oh alright,” Mum would finally agree, settling down on the armchair in between the two beds. She tucked her feet up underneath her body and began her story once more.                                    
“There are some worlds that you cannot see. There are some worlds that you only hear about on the whisper of the wind; worlds that nobody has ever been to but that everybody knows about. People try to forget about them because they are so dark and scary even the bravest of men would run away crying to his mother.”        
“Where’s Slimeland?” Hannah would ask, but she would always get the same reply every night.

“Nobody knows.”
“But you’ve been there…”

 “I don’t know what you’re taking about, Rebecca. Now mouth shut, ears open.”           

By the time the story was over, both Rebecca and Hannah would lie shivering under the sheets. They couldn’t even sleep with the light off because they were so afraid that the Skunkawug would come creeping and sneaking out of Slimeland to get them.         
“Can you sleep, Han?” whispered Rebecca one moonless night.       
“No,” whispered Hannah,

“I don’t want the Skunkawug to come and get me.”  
“D’you think it’s real?” Rebecca asked, sitting up in bed and huddling her knees into her chest.                          
 “Course it’s real. Mum wouldn’t lie.”  
“Then why doesn’t anyone know where Slimeland is?”         
 “I dunno. Maybe the map got lost.”        
 “Don’t be stupid, Han. I mean, what if the Skunkawug really is alive?”     
“Shurrup, Becky. I’m going to bed.”

 “Fine, but if you’re not here in the morning I’ll know why.”      

Rebecca threw herself back down onto the bed and sighed. Hannah lay staring at the ceiling, a sinking feeling taking over her body. Her mother’s song kept floating around in her head. So many questions…so many shadows…wait…was that a light coming from underneath the wardrobe door…?

 Hannah was very quiet the next morning at breakfast, even though Mum had cooked the girls’ favourite breakfast. The sausages had lost their juiciness and the eggs looked like bodiless heads sitting in their cups. The baked beans reminded Hannah of little orange rabbit droppings. Rebecca, on the other hand, looked cheery as she munched on her egg and soldiers.     
“What’s the matter, Hannah?” Mum asked, patting Hannah on the head. “You not sleep very well love?”                      
“Not feeling well…” Hannah muttered, gulping down some orange juice. Once Mum had left the room Hannah jumped off her seat and grabbed Rebecca’s arm. 

“I know where the Skunkawug lives, Rebecca,” she hissed, glancing round the kitchen to make sure that nobody was listening.                  
“What are you on about, you weirdo?” Rebecca laughed.      
“Listen!” Hannah insisted. “I know where the Skunkawug lives, and I’m going to go and find it. I know where the Skunkawug is, and I’m going to hunt it. It lives behind Granny’s knitted jumpers.”             
“You’re crazy,” said Rebecca. “I know Gran’s jumpers are a little furry, but I don’t think even the Skunkawug would go near them. You must’ve been dreaming.”     

“Fine,” Hannah said, picking up her schoolbag and flicking her ponytail behind her head. “You don’t believe me, but I know someone who will. And when I find the Skunkawug, I’m giving it your name.”

 Steven didn’t like school. School was the most boring thing ever. Steve didn’t think that school was important at all, so spent most of his day sitting in the corner of the classroom, making paper aeroplanes and hurling them up in the air. He was always in trouble. Miss Edvard, the headmistress, could single him out just by his ginger hair in a crowded room, and all the teachers had him down as a “trouble maker.”       
Steven and the girls had been neighbours all their lives. They were even born in the same hospital and liked the same tea – (chips and fish fingers with heaps of mashed potatoes and peas), and the same ice cream (chocolate with chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles.) Steven knew everything about everything and was always bringing round his encyclopaedia to tell Hannah and Rebecca all the new things he had discovered...Did you know that the dinosaurs became extinct after a meteor hit Earth millions of years ago? And that the Earth and other planets dance around the sun in what’s known as an orbit? Steven could teach you anything you wanted to know.           
When Hannah and Rebecca arrived at school, Steven was already there. He was sat huddled in the corner of the playground hidden behind his encyclopaedia. All that could be seen was a dome of ginger hair peeking out from over the top of the hardback, leather-bound book, and a pair of beady,searching eyes looking round the playground conspicuously.     
“Hi, Steve,” Rebecca chirped, making Steve start as she jumped out in front of him grinning. “Han’s flipped her lid. She’s even crazier than you.”      

Steve frowned and started reading his book again, saying nothing. Hannah shot a piercing look at Rebecca, who shrugged, and began talking again.

“She says she knows where the Skunkawug lives. She wants to feed you to him.”      
“Don’t be silly, Becky,” Hannah said, but Steve was captivated. He had appeared from behind his book.                           
“You know where it lives?” Steve said, eyes wide, and mouth open.   

Hannah nodded slowly and put her finger to her lips, urging Steven to keep his voice down.                      

“Where?” Steven whispered.        
 “Be awake at midnight tonight when everyone has gone to bed. Bring your backpack and some essentials with you. We’ll leave the window open…”  
“Yeah; but where’s Slimeland?”                  
“Do you promise not to tell anyone?” said Hannah.          
“I swear on my Pokemon card collection.”

Rebecca raised her eyebrows and folded her arms across her body, unimpressed and unconvinced. Hannah urged them both closer so that they were standing huddled in a circle, heads close together and hearts pounding with excitement.      
“The way into Slimeland… “  

 Steven took in a sharp breath and Rebecca sighed, wishing that Hannah would just spit it out.                                                                                                                                                               
“The way into Slimeland...is in our bedroom.”

All thoughts on this piece are welcome. 

Would you like to read more?

Ginger x

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