WRITE ACROSS SUSSEX: Nature

Write Across Sussex
Write Across Sussex
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Scare attraction Torment takes over Gunwharf Quays

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Another entry in our {http://www.chichester.co.uk/what-s-on/entertainment/write-across-sussex-offers-new-writing-competition-1-6943353|Write Across Sussex} competition.

Eyes wide and fully dressed Josh lay on the bed watching the digital display move more slowly than he ever thought possible. It was time and with shoes in hand he sneaked down the corridor, pausing cautiously at his parents door. Both were snoring. His mother breathed out a high pitched whinny and galloped through the rich green pasture of dreams, her body transformed to that of an athletic stallion. His father with less imagination, dreamt of nothing and snored like flatulence loud and rasping. Maybe it was. A bubble of laughter threatened to burst. Josh felt the icy finger of fear run down his spine as he struggled to contain it but there was no way he was going to fail at the very first hurdle. Avoiding the creaky second step he held the banister and swung lightly to land silently on the third. Everything had been planned down to the last detail. Pausing for a second he listened intently, then reached for the door knob. Goose pimples prickled his skin and a ripple of anticipation ran through his body. The only sound to be heard was his own breathing. The rest of the house was silent and still. Pulling open the door he ran as fast as he was able, his feet flying across the cobblestones. Chickens scattered in a wild frenzy of squawking, dust and feathers as he ran unhindered through the courtyard. Once he was safely across the yard he expelled his held breath. Free at last. He noticed with surprise that he was still holding his shoes and quickly pulled them on over his sodden socks. Not bothering with the tangled laces he left them loose and dangling. Fully focused now on the task ahead he smiled and inhaled the sweet smell of freedom. The sun had just started to rise and it shone golden tangerine rays to cast its myriad of colour upon the dew covered grass. The water droplets glistened like jewels highlighting the freshly spun cobwebs caught in the early morning sunshine. Setting off at a fast pace his feet took no heed of spiders labour as the delicate structures were destroyed in an instance. He stopped only when he reached the gate. Like a professional pole-vaulter, he threw his body over the barrier landing on the other side with a soft thud. Now he was a commando. This was to be a hit and run raid. Lying flat on his stomach he listened intently, holding his breath once more. A gentle rustling whispered on the breeze coming from the very edge of the reeds. The element of surprise was paramount. Slowly he crawled along the boardwalk on all fours, a cougar with senses alert. The chicken wire covering the wooden planks snagged and pulled at his trousers tearing the material to expose ripped flesh. Blood dripped onto the pale wooden planks unnoticed creating dark rusty stains marking his passage. The glare from the sun clouded his vision but it did not hinder him. Then he spotted his victim. The camouflaged body lay still, nestling deep within the reeds. An inexperienced eye would have missed him but Josh was no amateur. The graceful figure, flexible as a whip stood stock still with legs splayed. Dark brown eyes stared straight ahead, frozen in fear of discovery. Josh could see her heart beating through the earth coloured camouflage. The lizard blinked and in that split second Josh swooped down capturing her in a jam jar. Friend and foe surveyed each other through the transparent barrier. “Chill little dude” smiled Josh. The lizard didn’t answer, she didn’t understand and she wasn’t chilled at all but nicely warmed through by the early morning sun. The tiny head cocked to one side as she contemplated her predicament and the boy on the other side of the glass. Her eyes were the first to blink but they did not waver from their impertinent stare. Josh felt strangely guilty as he stared in wonder at his prisoner. After the excitement of the chase he wasn’t expecting to feel like this. “Don’t worry, I’ll look after you” said Josh his voice wavering slightly. The lizard wasn’t worried and continued to stare belligerently through the glass. Her tongue darted out to wash the eyeball. Josh realised that he didn’t know what lizards ate and looked around for a likely food source. His attention was distracted by the flickering wings of a damselfly as it flew past in hot pursuit of a smaller insect. When its prey was caught it came to rest on a stem of sedge grass in front of Josh and ate its breakfast. Tiny delicate silver wings closed around its blue body as it devoured the tasty morsel. Josh had a vision of himself trying to catch flies and insects for the lizard before School. There was no way he would be as successful as the damselfly and what if this lizard only liked crickets. They were his favourite insect. Last summer he had spent hours in the hot sun waiting for one to show itself. His patient vigil was rewarded when a reluctant cricket popped its bronze head out for a seconds glance. It was well worth the sunstroke. His mother disagreed and had given him a sharp telling off for his pains. No he didn’t think he had the patience to wait for hours to catch the insects to feed this lizard every day. Anyway he was in enough trouble all ready at School for late attendance. The lizard flickered its tail impatiently against the smooth glass. “What about me!” it seemed to say crossly. Then stamping its feet in frustration it turned a full circle in the confines of the jam jar. Sunlight glistened on the glass highlighting the tiny beadlike scales on its tiny body making it look very small and vulnerable. Josh worried that it was getting too hot and cupped his hand over the circumference casting a pale shadow to fall over the tiny form. He knew all about the dangers of reflective light having once burnt a hole in the kitchen table using his magnifying glass. It was an accident. Josh often did things by accident but his mother had still been very disappointed. He could imagine her response if he managed to burn a living creature to death. Looking after a lizard was not as easy as he had originally thought. He glanced at his watch. Time had crawled by at a snail’s pace waiting for sunrise but since his arrival at the boardwalk it had sped past with unnatural speed. His tummy rumbled and hunger pangs told him that it was time for breakfast. He looked once more at the baleful lizard and sighed deeply. Tipping the glass jar on its side he released the prisoner. The lizard stood puzzled and confused on the sun kissed walk way, but only for a second. Its tiny toe nails tapped gently on the planks as it ran for cover into the relative safety of the sedge grass. Mother nature was the best person to worry about a lizards breakfast just as his own mother worried about his. Noticing for the first time his torn trousers and bloodied knees he screwed the lid back onto the jar. His mother would be disappointed again but he realised that he didn’t need to watch wildlife through the confines of an artificial oasis. He had the real deal right here on his doorstep. The damselfly buzzed past his ear, no longer alone. It was joined at the hip by another ready to pass their genes to the next generation. You don’t get to see this kind of action in a jam jar thought Josh and tucking the jar under his arm he headed for home, the recycling bin and his own breakfast.

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