A children's book for grown-ups by Jon Evans

August 2, 2007

18. Journey through Madness

Patch's journey across the Kingdom of Madness lasted eleven days. It is not my intent to tell you everything he saw or did. I will tell you he saw foxes, twice, from high in the sky-road. Once he saw a graceful, beautiful creature he did not know the name for, tall as a human, with shining brown fur and long spindly legs. And once he saw a long, legless, slithering thing with pebbled skin. That thing turned Patch's blood cold with terror, and he ran from it as fast as he could.

He kept his distance from other animals, especially other squirrels. He ate maple buds, flowers, grubs and insects. Occasionally he saw or smelled nuts on the forest floor, and descended to eat them; but he did so very cautiously, and returned to the sky-road right away. He tried to speak to birds, but those who nested in the Kingdom of Madness had been even more afflicted than the mammals, and their speech made no sense at all. He slept in the crooks where high branches met, or sometimes in drey-like hollows, if he was satisfied they were long abandoned.

On the fifth day he reached the edge of the forest. Beyond this lay a vast expanse of human buildings, quite small compared to those around the Center Kingdom, hills rather than mountains. He managed to spend another day moving along the edge of the forest in a generally northeasterly direction. On this day he had to cross four wasteland strips infested by death machines; and he made an important discovery.

Like the Center Kingdom, humans had erected metal tree trunks here, from which winking lights dangled. Unlike the Center Kingdom, they had not stopped there. For the endless winding strips of wasteland that carved these human lands were lined by trees. Real trees, green and growing – but also dead, severed tree trunks, perfectly straight. And these dead tree trunks were connected by an endless web of wires. Those wires sagged beneath Patch's weight, their material felt strange beneath his paws, and sometimes they emitted a disturbing humming sound that made Patch feel ill and shaken – but they provided an easy route across the wasteland strips, high above the death machines.

On the sixth day of his journey, Patch abandoned the forest for good, and took to this wire sky-road across human lands. He was making good progress. With spring had come an abundance of food, even in the human lands. And on the seventh day, when he climbed the sky-road up a high hill, and then climbed to the highest branch on the highest tree on that hill, he saw the pale white towers that loomed above his destination: the vast metal span that led across the waters, away from the Kingdom of Madness.


Anonymous Rakie said...

yay, hopeful chapter!! :D Very cool, liked it very much, looking forward to seeing how Patch will get himself across the bridge... eeek, bridges are scary. :D

August 3, 2007 at 1:01 AM  
Blogger Phayona said...

It sounds like patch is on the power lines , why isnt he being shocked?

November 2, 2009 at 6:16 AM  

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Jon Evans is the award-winning author of the thrillers Invisible Armies, Dark Places (aka Trail of the Dead), and The Blood Price. See his web site rezendi.com.

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