Chapter the second: A Terrible Shock
written by Big Sister
Petoskey sat down next to Hexagon. Night had fallen, and it was very dark. Shadows slipped between the trees, and strange sounds came floating towards them on the chill night air. Hexagon shivered, and it was not because of the cold.
“What should we do?” he asked.
“It’s no use us even trying to get back in the dark,” answered Petoskey, trying to keep his voice sounding cheerful. “We’ll only get even more lost. I’m sure well find home again in the morning. They’ll have a search party out by then, most likely.”
Hexagon groaned. “Mother will be cross. Whatever will she say to me? She’ll never let me out of her sight again!”
“Don’t worry. I got her necklace back. And I got my mother’s ring, too. They’ll forgive us when they see them” said Petoskey comfortingly. “And anyway, I’m sure they will be so glad to see us that they won’t bother to be angry."
“You’re probably right,” agreed Hexagon, yawning. “We may as well try to get some rest.” And with that he turned over and went to sleep.
Petoskey stayed awake. He lay listening to the trees creaking, and the wind howling. He hoped that he was right in saying that they would get home in the morning. Then, as the moon started to rise, his eyes finally closed in sleep.
* * *
The sun shone brightly through the trees, spilling golden light onto the forest floor. As it moved slowly higher in the blue sky, its rays crept closer to the faces of two small figures, sound asleep at the foot of the largest tree in the forest. As the rays touched them, one simply turned over, but the other stirred. It was Petoskey. He opened one eye, and then sat up, looking wildly about him. For a few seconds he had no idea where he was. Then suddenly he remembered all the happenings of the day before.
Petoskey yawned, and rubbed his aching bones. Hexagon was still sound asleep, and snoring softly. Petoskey woke him.
“Where are we?” demanded Hexagon, sitting up and looking around in the same manner as Petoskey had.
“In the forest” replied Petoskey. “Don’t you remember?”
“I do now. Say, I’m starving!”
“I’m hungry too, and parched. We have to find home. It can’t be so far away.”
“If only we could follow our tracks,” said Hexagon. “But they won’t show up – not with all the pine leaves.”
Petoskey thought hard for a moment. He then started to walk around, staring hard at the ground.
“What are you doing?” inquired Hexagon, who was wondering if thirst and hunger was sending Petoskey mad.
“I think we probably…ah, look Hexagon!”
“What is it? Said Hexagon, peering into the trees. “I don’t see anything”
Petoskey showed him a broken stick. “See?” he said. “We may not leave footprints, but we have left a track. It will be hard to follow, but I think we’ll manage.”
“My, you sure are smart, Petoskey!” said Hexagon. “I would never have noticed. Thank goodness I got lost with you.”
Petoskey, being a very modest fellow, pretended not to hear him. He started to follow the track. Hexagon soon got the idea, and they soon became completely absorbed in what they were doing, so absorbed that no one said anything for a very long time.
Ever since awakening, Hexagon had felt that something wasn't quite right, but he simply could not think what it was. Then suddenly it came to him. Instead of the usual noises of birds and other wildlife, there was silence. Nothing stirred. Even the trees seemed quieter than usual.
Hexagon felt a little alarmed. “The woods are quiet today, aren’t they, Petoskey?” he said.
Petoskey nodded. “I've been thinking that too,” he said. “It’s rather strange.”
“You - you don’t suppose something could be wrong, do you?”
“I certainly hope not.”
And they both lapsed into silence once again.
Not long later, Petoskey gave a sudden shout of delight.
“Look Hexagon!” he cried. “There’s the tree we carved our initials on!”
“And I see smoke!” replied Hexagon jubilantly, and both Wollypogs broke into a run towards the village. Then they came to it – and stopped dead in horror.
The village was gone.
All that was left of it was the charred and burnt remains of what had once been houses and shops. All was silent, and nothing moved except a lone sheet, flapping in the wind.