Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Whispers of the Jungle

By Avani Anil Kumar, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Grade 9

 

I had no idea why they were standing there, with dried twigs on their clothes and mud on their faces. Hunching over something that looked like someone’s granny’s gown, they even seemed to be engrossed in something enthusiastic.

“No, no, no, Ryan. The peg should go here.’’

Isobel, leave such jobs to the men.”

“You?” a frustrated Isobel was saying, “No way would one call a pencil stick a man!”

Ryan was indignant.

“Listen to me, Isobel. The peg is supposed to go there.” He said, pointing to the center of the Granny Gown.

“See, Ryan. The peg should go more to the right!” Isobel indicated a position not far from the spot Ryan mentioned.

I decided it was time to intervene before an argument broke out. I swung my backpack up my shoulders and walked towards them.

Isobel spotted me first. “There you are. Jake. Now where is this peg supposed to go?’

Ryan rolled his eyes. “Great, now you are asking a guy who was leaning on a tree, just because he was too lazy.”

Or because he was too bored, I thought desperately.

Isobel ignored Ryan. “Jake, it’s supposed to go there, right?”

I regarded both of them. Isobel had long, smooth brown hair, which she had pinned down in a French braid (or was it Fish tail braid?), and bright blue eyes in a pinched white face. She was slim and fair. Ryan also had brown hair, but unlike Isobel’s, his was a tangled mess of spikes that reminded me of the Alps. He was thin and frail. His cold blue eyes were assessing me in such a way that I had to check if I was wearing a miniskirt instead of my usual black jeans.

They were so different from each other, I thought, looking at my cousins. They are not supposed to be twins.

But they were twins. And I was their cousin, Jake Allen.

“Well, what are you thinking?” Ryan snapped. “It’s supposed to go in the center, right?”

I smiled at them.

“Oh, not the daredevil smile again,” Ryan said, his eyes colder than ever, “Just tell us if you don’t know.”

I looked at the Granny Gown, lying in a jumbled up heap.

“What is this supposed to be?” I asked.

“Aha!” Ryan said, “He doesn’t even know-”

“It’s supposed to be a tent, Jake,” Isobel interrupted.

I shook my head. Cranky Cousins.

“Guys,” I said, “If you are setting up a tent, then the pegs should go at the corners.”

“Now, that fixes my theory,” Ryan said sarcastically, but Isobel got to work.

I looked around. It was getting dark and the forest canopy wasn’t letting in any light.

This is a bad idea, I thought. This is a very, very bad idea.

The idea was Isobel’s. She had come in one day with Ryan and sat on my four- poster.

“Jake, this is amazing. I read about it in the Wilderness magazine. It is like you spend two days camping out-”

“In a jungle” I supplied.

“- And having fun-”

“With wild animals,” I added.

“- and take with us all the essentials like water and food, with biscuits for Ryan and-”

“Hamburgers for the Lions.” I suggested.

“-And arrange a tent-”

“That looks like a Granny Gown” I commented.

“-And take cool pics of wildlife-”

“And have the worms crawl all over us” I said.

“-And have a-”

“Disgusting Weekend.” I shrugged.

“-Great Weekend!” Isobel finished.

Apparently, my supplies, suggestions and comments had no effect on Isobel.

And that was how I ended up with a chatty Isobel and a Ryan who looked like he was about to tear me up, in the middle of a jungle.

The word ‘forest’ itself gave me the creeps. This weekend, I had planned on crashing up on the sofa after watching the 12 o’ clock horror movie. But instead, I got landed in a boring jungle.

I watched Ryan watch Isobel set up the Granny Gown. No, I watched Ryan supervise Isobel in setting up the tent.

I wasn’t joking about Ryan supervising. He was standing a few feet away from me, shouting at Isobel for putting down her hammer.

“But I have to get another peg from the box!” Isobel argued.

“And you can’t do that with a hammer in your hand?” Ryan glared at her.

I wasn’t joking about the tent either. It was fully tattered and bruised, like it had seen better days but was now reduced to a situation where a group of teenagers used it for ‘camping’.

I leaned back against an Oak and sighed. This camping out stuff was getting on my nerves. The faster the sun rises tomorrow, the better. I took out my mobile and thought of watching The Lord of the Rings. I toyed around with a few keys and groaned.

Isobel looked up. “What’s wrong, Jake?”

I locked my green eyes with her blue ones. “No Wi-Fi.”

Isobel stared at me for a second and then she burst out laughing.

The look on my face must have been so miserable because Ryan grinned. “Don’t worry Greenie,” he said.

Soon, the tent was pitched up and a fire was roaring. We sat around the fire, munching meat sandwiches, which wasn’t a good idea in a forest packed with God-knows-what. A slight mist was enveloping the forest.

“Maybe,” Isobel suggested, “We should catch some sleep. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”

I nodded. Ryan and Isobel got up, grumbling about something. I stared into the flames.

I felt a deep disgust build up inside me. I threw my half-eaten sandwich into the fire. The flames roared a satisfying crackle, which cooled me down.

Finally, we all settled into sleeping bags.

Who couldn’t sleep was me.

The Jungle was keeping me awake. I could hear every sound, every twig breaking, every leaf rustling.

Suddenly I heard the sound of hooves.

I got up with a jerk and thought of waking Isobel. But I wasn’t a nincompoop, who wanted a girl to back me up. I unzipped the tent, silently praying to God to help me return in one piece, and stepped out.

My mouth fell open. A deer. It was a deer.

It regarded me with liquid brown eyes. I took a step towards it and it began to run.

Not like the way deer would run from its predators; it was running as it wanted me to follow.

I followed. I was running to catch up with its sudden burst of speed.

Suddenly, it stopped.

I registered the surroundings. I felt my eyes widen.

It was a creek in the middle of the forest. Large trees hooded it, like soldiers protecting a princess. A gentle breeze blew. The leaves were all colors- yellow, red and green. The creek washed over the rocks. The deer walked up deftly and crossed the creek.

I don’t know how much time I stood there and stared. I listened to the gentle trickle of the water and the swaying trees.

For all I knew, I was listening to the Whispers of the Jungle.