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“The creatures of the dark have taken my bag.”
Zayden didn’t bat an eyelid or alter his facial expressions as he spoke. Many of the townspeople chuckled, some pretending to cough to hide their disbelief. Three people stood up and left, shaking their heads and mumbling as they shuffled themselves into the aisle. My mum was ignoring the crowd. She kept her eyes on Zayden waiting politely for him to continue speaking. I looked up at my dad, and he stared at me with a look of concern I hadn’t expected to see again so soon. Neither of us were laughing. Now was not the time for us to have a conversation about what we were thinking. Instead, we had to dedicate this time to listen to Zayden. From our experience, he was going to need it.
“I know it seems like I’m talking nonsense. And, trust me, I really wish I was. I wouldn’t want to waste your time like this. I’m not that sort of person. But, I do need your help. I need that bag back, and we need to know if those creatures are real.”
There were some more chuckles and coughs before the mayor made a suggestion. “Why don’t you tell them what you told me, son? Tell them about what happened before school.”
Zayden looked down and swallowed before lifting his head to tell the most incredible story.
He was inside playing a board game with his brother last night when they heard their dog, Wolfy, barking unusually loud. They went outside to investigate and discovered Wolfy covered in dirt from nose to tail. Sitting on the grass beside the dog was a glowing orb that was large enough to be picked up with two hands, so that’s exactly what Zayden did. He walked over, picked up the orb and brought it back inside. Zayden said his dog wasn’t the same that night, choosing to sleep right outside Zayden’s bedroom door rather than on his doggy bed and growling at even the slightest hint of movement when he would otherwise be silent. Without telling his parents, Zayden then decided to take the orb to his teacher for show and tell. In the morning, he snuck it into his bag, and he and his brother left for school just like every other day.
While walking through Greenvale Park, they heard a sound that made the hairs on the back of their neck stand up. “I can’t describe it to you,” he said. “And I’m certain I wouldn’t be able to muster the courage to attempt to mimic the sound. You’ll just have to trust me that it’s a sound you never want to hear.” At first, he and his brother were not sure who had taken the bag from Zayden’s back, just that it happened very fast and that they managed to catch a glimpse of two giant, winged creatures flying into Elliot’s Tunnel, the bag gripped in their claws.
Zayden looked over at his parents and the mayor with tired eyes. Silently begging them to relieve him of his post at the podium. They obliged, and the mayor spoke again, informing everyone that, even if there were no creatures, the town was still playing host to a bag-thief and that we all have a responsibility to help locate the bag and find the thieves. Everyone who was left agreed, and we made our way into the forest at first light.
At 7:33am, one of Zayden’s neighbours blew a whistle. He had found the bag. The thirty or so of us who had joined the search gathered around the base of the tree in Greenvale Park where he was standing and asked him where it was. He pointed up. The tree was twice as tall as any single house in Greenvale, yet, right at the very top, upside down and clearly empty, was Zayden’s school bag. My dad and I looked at each other again except this time he nodded and smiled at me. It turns out we weren’t the only ones who had a run in with the creatures of the night.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
Illustrations by Alisha Towers: FACEBOOK
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.