Ambush in the Forest
by Kellie Nissen
“What are you doing?” Oliver’s father watched as his son looked behind the curtains.
“Don’t tell me Ambush has gone missing again!” Oliver’s mother lifted her feet from the floor and checked under her chair.
Oliver stuffed a packet of crickets into his pocket and wandered out the door, his heart sinking as he noticed the torn flyscreen. Pygmy Dragons could fit through tiny spaces and if Ambush was outside, he would never find her! Nor would his parents trust him with a special pet ever again.
Oliver looked down at his grandfather lying spreadeagled on the hammock. His grandfather’s wild beard flowed down his chest. It spilled over his stomach, tumbling to the floor, like an overgrown forest. Oliver loved the mystery of his Grandfather’s beard, taking delight in the rare times he was allowed to play in ‘the forest’.
Oliver had been born with the magic to make himself tiny and he was always finding strange treasures in the tangled beard. His body tingled in anticipation, but he resisted. “If I wake Grandfather up,” he thought, “I’ll really cop it. And I need to find Ambush.”
Chirrup … chirrup…
Oliver’s eyes widened. Crickets! Peering closer, he could see the forest canopy quivering as something moved through it.
“Yes!” Oliver didn’t think about the consequences. Squeezing his eyes shut, he imagined himself small, leapt into the forest and landed on something wet and spongy.
“Ewwwerk!” Oliver slid off a humongous chunk of roast beef – sometimes the treasures were a bit gross.
A chirrup echoed again.
“Ambush loves crickets. I just know she’s in here somewhere.”
Before long Oliver was deep within the forest. Up ahead he could see the growth thinning out a little – and he knew he was in the danger zone. Then just in front of him a treacherous cavern opened and, without warning, belched out a blast of stinky gas.
“Yuck, Grandfather!” Oliver fanned the air, “what have you been eating?”
CHIRRUP! Oliver jumped and a striped tail flashed past. Ambush!
And – an ambush it was. The pygmy dragon’s eyes bulged out right in front of him.
Scrambling to pull a packet of crickets from his pocket, Oliver fell backwards tangling his legs in the dense scrub.
A rumbling started from deep within the cavern.
“Ambush …” Oliver’s voice wobbled.
Flicking Oliver a glance, Ambush began climbing towards the cavern. The hole grew wider; Oliver’s heart thumped hard, “No Ambush!” he cried, squeezing his eyes shut and wishing himself big again.
Ambush sprang over the fine line of grey creepers, narrowly escaping the ZZzzz-hngGGggh-Ppbhww that blasted out the hole.
Swatting his hands in the air, “Ouch, what’s going on?” yelled Grandfather.
“Nothing,” Oliver tried not to look guilty, “just getting a cricket off your beard.”
Swiping his hand across the forest, Oliver scooped up Ambush and tucked her safely in his pocket. He hurried inside. His parents stared at him.
“Found Ambush,” he announced, “she was in my pocket all the time.”