By Nicholas L. Fletcher
Jason and the Gold Sovereigns
Long ago in a village lived a boy called Jason. He lived in a cottage with his Uncle Jack who was a Blacksmith. They were very poor. Jason loved playing the violin and dreamt of going to music school. One night Uncle Jack took Jason to the funfair.
“Roll up for the magic Carousel,” said the man.
Jason looked sad; he couldn’t afford to go on it. He noticed a Monkey near an Organ Grinder. The Monkey was smiling and he made Jason laugh pulling funny faces. The Monkey came up to Jason and put some coins in his pocket. The Organ Grinder looked angry. “Charlie here now,” he shouted.
Jason used the money to go on the Carousel. It was so magical and enchanting. The next day Jason woke up to a loud knock on the door. Jason ran downstairs and saw Uncle Jack opening the door. It was Ruby Clayton the rent collector. She was tall with dark, long, scraggly hair.
She told them they would be homeless if they didn’t pay more rent and then slammed the door.
A tear fell down Jack’s cheeks. That afternoon Jason went for a walk in the valley and sat under a tree. Charlie the laughing monkey jumped off a branch and led him to a mysterious cave. Jason went inside and Charlie ran off leaving him all alone. A giant Owl appeared.
“I am Lerdos; is your heart true Jason?” he said. He flew up and dropped a crumbled map at Jason’s feet.
“The map will lead you to the ‘Well of Dreams’ where you may find a prize…but only if your heart is true,” said Lerdos.
Jason picked up the map and ran out of the cave. The map led him to a stream. Near an Oak tree stood a small Well. Jason peered into it and waited but nothing happened. Suddenly he was dazzled by a gold light. He could see hundreds of gold Sovereigns. He collected them with the bucket and put them in his bag.
He took them home and hid them under the floorboards. Next day he went to school thinking it was all a dream. He sat next to Polly Bunsen and told her his secret. She never kept it and she told Ruby Clayton’s daughter Sally where the coins were. When Uncle Sid was in his Blacksmiths shop Ruby sneaked in and stole the Sovereigns. Jason came home and found the coins had gone. Ruby went to the bank to cash the coins.
Jason went back to the well; he was heartbroken. He lifted his head and peered down the Well. He remembered the words of the wise Owl. Jason’s eyes sparkled as he could see hundreds of sovereigns.
At the bank Ruby smirked as she handed over the bag. The cashier opened it; but the coins had turned to dust.
Jason bought Uncle Jack a new house with the sovereigns and went to Music school. Their dreams had finally come true.
The storm raged as lightening pierced the clouds. Young Sam trembled as his mother grasped his hand. The gates glistened in the rain as Mary looked up at the tall tower that climbed high into the sky.
She opened the gates with all her strength; the screeching echo distracted Sam from the thunder as his mother stood at the foot of the long steep steps that led to the orphanage. Mary looked down at Sam as the rain bounced off his freckled face. He couldn’t hold back the tears anymore, as they seemed to melt into his face with the pouring rain.
Mary looked up at the foreboding building as she went through the gates.
She hurried back clasping him under her arms and went through the gates and up the lonely winding steps. ‘Please forgive me Sam, forgive me’. Sam said nothing as his mother left him at the door. She knocked hard at the big door that stood like a giant tree.
As Sam sat shivering, a blinding light swept across his face. He looked up at the tall figure staring down. She looked at Sam, as he sat helpless as a kitten. She crossed her arms and stood pondering his fate. She grabbed his arm and pulled him into the house. ‘What is your name?’ She said. Sam just shivered and stared at this thin wiry woman with a face like stone.
What is your name? She asked again. ‘Sam Kirby’ ‘Well we better get you a bed for the night. Miss Wilson led Sam up the long winding staircase.
Sam walked into the lonely room that felt so empty. His reflection shone with the lightening as he looked as white as a ghost. Miss Wilson shut the door abruptly and turned the key, locking Sam in the room. He laid his head on the pillow as the rain lashed against the window. A tear ran down his cheek as he tried to sleep.
The next morning he awoke to the sound of the birds singing song. He lifted his head from his pillow as a Jack Daw jumped on the window ledge. Sam yawned and looked around the room, thinking that last night had all been a terrible dream; that his mother would walk through the door and collect him. The Jack Daw pecked at the window. Sam was startled as he turned and saw the cheeky bird skipping on the ledge. He pecked again as if he was trying to make friends with the new orphan.
Sam leapt out of bed and went over to the window. The door suddenly opened revealing Miss Wilson who stood as a dark silhouette in the morning light. The Jack Daw suddenly flew away. ‘Mr Granger wants to see you’ Sam looked scared, as this woman seemed even more ferocious in the daylight than at night.
‘Come on.’ She said.
Sam gazed at the door that read Mr Granger, Head Master; Miss Wilson came out and stared at Sam. ‘He’ll see you now’, she said in a stern voice. Sam walked past her and slowly walked into the room. He looked around the room that had a tall ceiling. ‘What are you looking at lad, look at me?’ Sam had the look of a scared rabbit that’s eyes had been startled by a light. He could barely look at the man that was swivelling around on his leather chair.
‘Look at me lad.’ said Mr Granger.
‘Come closer.’ said Mr Granger in a husky voice. Sam reluctantly went closer to him then stopped. His white sideburns hung like cotton wool from his stern wrinkly face. ‘Closer’ he said as his voice seemed to have a hypnotic power.
Mr Granger leaned over the desk as Sam started to shake with fear’. A hushed silence hung in the air that seemed to last forever. ‘Why should we have you? ‘Don’t know Sir.’ ‘Just because this is an orphanage doesn’t mean to say we’ll have anyone.’ Said Mr Granger.
‘Please Sir my mother can’t keep me anymore, my father went off to war; he never came back’. Mr Granger ponders for a while and then sighs. ‘Oh go and join Miss Wilson’s class in the morning’.
That night Sam looked out of the window; A tear flowed down his cheek as he preyed for his mother to come back for him. He cried himself to sleep to the sound of an old barn owl in the distance.
The next day he awoke to a loud pecking sound at his window, it was his friend the Jack Daw. Rays of light glistened on the big Oak Tree in the garden. Sam turned round; stepping back from the windowsill he bumped into a panel in the wall. As he fell back into the wooden wall, the large panel caved in and rotated, pulling Sam into a trap door that closed behind him. Miss Wilson walked in and looked around. She stood looking baffled, as Sam was nowhere to be seen. ‘Mr Granger’, she shouted.
‘I swear I left him in here Sir.’ She said, as they both desperately searched the room. Sam had vanished into thin air.
Sam was in total darkness; he was riding on a shoot along a passage. He was scared. He was in a tunnel like a cave and could hear fast running water coming towards him, but he couldn’t get out. He heard some strange muffled voices as the water came towards him, and suddenly he was pulled out and was in a cave that was full of crystals. A dozen small dwarfs were peering down on his face. ‘Who are you?’ said Sam. ‘We are the Gelchers’, they replied, as Sam looked puzzled at their fluffy green hair. ‘You must go back from where you came from, it’s not safe’. The whole cave started to vibrate; the sound of big machines could be heard. ‘Quick go in this tunnel, it will take you downstream to the ‘Golden Valley’. Sam went in the tunnel and was carried along by a gentle stream. The darkness turned to light and he fell out into a beautiful pond with a flowing spring. He could see the most beautiful valley with giant trees and rainbows arching the sky. It was like paradise. There were unusual birds and weird furry animals roaming the land. He had entered another World. Suddenly the birdsong disappeared and a drone of an engine could be heard. A black metal ugly machine appeared on the hill. Sam ran into a nearby wood. He kept running and running. He stopped to gather his breath and turned round. He jumped as he bumped into a hard wooden man who was made of roughly sawn wood, but had a kind and gentle face. He looked at Sam and smiled. His head was flat and shaped like a box. ‘Who are you?’ said Sam as he trembled. ‘I’m Blockhead,’ ‘who are you? Replied the wooden man. ‘Sam Kirby’. ‘Are you hungry’, asked Blockhead. ‘Yes I am’ said Sam. ‘Follow me, but mind how you tread’.
They walked along a track in the wood and came to a camouflaged cave. ‘This is my home’ said Blockhead. The cave was cosy and warm.
‘I don’t know how you got here Sam, but I must warn you. You are not safe’. An evil giant creature called Morken lives in a castle and has an army of metal machines called ‘The Steelers’, He wants to destroy the Golden Valley of all its trees and animals’. They must be stopped but it won’t be easy’. ‘I don’t understand’, said Sam. I was sent to an Orphanage by my mother and then I went into a trap door; now I’m here in this strange land, what has happened to me?’ ‘I don’t know but you must have come into a different time zone,’ the only thing that will get you back is if we can find the ‘Great Oak Tree’ and ‘Gumpy’. ‘Who’s that’, asked Sam.
‘He is a wise old man, that knows the magic ritual that will destroy Morken and ‘The Steelers’ He is our only chance of stopping them and getting you back home.
‘Why are you made of Wood?’ said Sam. ‘I was a tree once but was chopped down by The Steelers and nailed together. ‘All of this living-breathing valley will go if we don’t find Gumpy. ‘But how will you find this tree there are hundreds’. Said Sam.
‘I will know it when I see it,’ Said Blockhead.
Next day they set off on their search for ‘The Giant Oak’. They roamed the valley and woods all day encountering strange creatures. The made their way back to the cave; suddenly a Jack Door flew in front of them and landed on a rock. It looked at Sam and flew into a large tree near a stream. Blockhead looked at it and sighed. A large stone dazzled them at the foot of the tree. ‘That’s the one Sam, this is the tree, I was told a glitter stone is in front of the tree, this must be it’.
Blockhead stood in awe at the huge tree that towered into the sky. He walked round and disappeared. Sam went looking for him round the back of the tree. He walked into the tree and stood inside. ‘I’m here Sam,’ shouted Blockhead. The tree was much bigger inside than it appeared. Blockhead and Sam stood side by side in the tree that seemed to have no top. Suddenly a voice echoed, ‘Go away’.
‘Please Gumpy’ said Blockhead, ‘we need your help’. The voice laughed hysterically. ‘Help? help is for fools’. Now go or I’ll turn you into rats. Blockhead held Sam’s hand and led him away. Sam pulled back and shouted, ‘Please help us, the valley will be destroyed and I miss my mother. I just want to go back home. Please help us. There was silence as if time had stood still. ‘Come on Sam, you’ll never get home if you become a rat. They walked to the trunk from where they came in.
‘Wait’ said Gumpy. What do you want me to do?’
A pale skinny old man with grey hair and bushy sideburns came out of the shadows. He looked like a wrinkled pixie with a jolly face.
‘We must stop Morken from destroying the Golden Valley, said Blockhead. ‘You are fools, it is too difficult, you must find the ‘Fountain of light’ and do ‘The Crystal of Fire’ ritual; but this has never been done’, said Gumpy.
‘We must do it Gumpy, Morken and The Steelers are growing stronger, they are getter bigger. It’s only a matter of time before they destroy all the woods. Thousands of trees will die’, sobbed Blockhead. ‘Please Gumpy. I must get back to the Orphanage,’ cried Sam.
‘You are in a different time and a different World Sam, things are not what they seem, how do you know I am real. Suddenly Gumpy morphed into a giant Eagle. Sam shut his eyes and then opened them; Gumpy stood there smiling. ‘Do not believe everything you see Sam. I will show you the way, but it will not be easy. You must find the ‘Fountain of Light’, it is inside a cave, but there are three caves, choose wisely for if you enter the wrong cave you will perish. Find the Fountain of Light and you will be able to complete The Crystal of Fire. A magic ritual that will destroy all that wishes the Golden Valley harm. Remember there are three caves. Good luck’.
‘But how do we complete The Crystal of Fire’, said Blockhead.
‘If you choose the right cave The Crystal of Fire will choose you. Goodbye, I am feeling tired.
Blockhead and Sam walked out of the tree and looked up. It was like they had been in a room full of mirrors. The tree looked much smaller from the outside.
Blockhead and Sam rested that night. The next day they began the search for the Cave that contained ‘The Fountain of Light’. They were walking in the woods and sat down by a stream. Blockhead turned round and thought he heard a rustle in the woods by the stream. As he went round a short cut, out jumped one of the Gelchers, a cherub faced dwarf with spiky green hair. ‘Please don’t do that,’ shouted Blockhead.
‘So much for loyalty mate. I thought I give you a hand, whatever it is your doing’ said The Gelcher.
‘We must find three caves, one of them has the fountain of Light, said Sam.
‘Oh that’s easy, you must mean the ones over that hill, only snag is..its right near Morken’s Castle.
They waited until nightfall and stood near the caves. They looked at each cave and pondered.
‘Oh that one in the middle is the right one,’ said The Glecher, ‘I can see a light shining inside, that’s the fountain. The Gelcher ran into the cave. ‘No come back, come back,’ shouted Blockhead. The Gelcher went inside as Sam and Blockhead chased after him. The Gelcher started to slowly sink in quicksand, Sam and Blockhead looked on helpless; there was nothing they could do.
Sam and Blockhead looked at the remaining two caves. ‘I think it’s that one, the one on the right’, said Sam.
‘How can you be sure’, said Blockhead. ‘It has a glitter stone in the rock, like the one near ‘The Giant Oak’.
They walked nervously into the cave. It was pitch black with only the sound of water dripping. Suddenly a huge bolder covered the entrance; they were trapped. Sam slipped and fell in a hole. He was clinging on the edge; below him was a bed of swords and snakes. He was dangling as his life hung by a thread. Blockhead grabbed his hand and pulled him to safety.
They noticed a ray of light shining along a tunnel. They followed it and it led them to a crystal maze.
‘This is it Sam, you were right. This is the fountain of light.’
They stepped into a beautiful room that time had forgotten; it was surreal with ornate markings and a kaleidoscope of bright crystals. They stood in the room as a giant shaft of light shone down on a maze.
Then a giant black metal robot, one of Morken’s Steelers burst through a wall and was coming towards them at great speed. They ran down a tunnel. The robot grabbed hold of Blockhead and pulled him back from the tunnel with arms that were like an Octopus’s. Sam ran back after them.
‘Sam you must complete ‘The Crystal of fire’. Shouted Blockhead.
Sam ran into the maze and stood on a glittering stone tablet. A piercing light ran through the maze. Sam had set off ‘The Crystal of Fire’. The robot was about to crush Blockhead, when suddenly it started to melt. The roof of the cave opened up and the sun shone through.
A fire swept through the Castle killing the monster Morken and The robots, melting them one by one. The bolder in the cave opened. Sam and Blockhead walked out. The trees in the Golden Valley were at peace and free from Morken’s evil. Blockhead took Sam back to the pond where he came from.
‘Goodbye my friend, thank you, I will never forget you’, said Blockhead with a tear in his eye.
Sam went into the spring pond and back into the tunnel. In a sudden glare he was in the secret passage at the Orphanage and back in his bedroom. He looked out of the window at the big Oak tree. Then he saw his mother walking down the drive. He ran downstairs and into her arms. Mr Granger and Miss Wilson stood by watching from the porch.
Sam embraced his mother and cried. ‘I’ve got a surprise for you’ said his mother.
Sam’s father came through the gates and embraced him. As Sam cried tears of joy, he looked at the large Oak trees and the nesting Jack Daw’s and thought of his dear friend Blockhead.