Nice to see former tree-loving, eco-warrior Swampy hitting the news again. Seems he has finally emerged from his tunnels to live in a yurt with his four children in a remote part of Wales. Swampy is the inspiration for my character Roots who helps The Runaway Children escape the clutches of the evil Nunjas in the first book of the trilogy.*
Roots to the rescue
The village council began to groan again with most of the members unable to see any reason to help two snotty little middle-class school kids. All except for one rather pale, skinny young man with extraordinary dreadlocks, which twisted and twirled in every direction but his scalp. He’d been listening intently to Laurel’s pleas and was deeply disturbed by them.
Noticing his thoughtful expression, Laurel turned to address him directly. "What do you think, Roots?" asked Laurel.
"I think,” he began falteringly, “I mean…that is…what I think is, that every little person who gets stolen away from his house should have an automatic right to be rescued, and if no-one else will do it, then…then it ought to be us. That's what I think..... and I'd like it to go on record, please!"
Roots in a hole
"Come on, folks", cried Roots "follow me". With that, he dived down a large rabbit hole and Laurel encouraged each of the children to crawl in after him. "Don't be afraid", she kept saying. "Rabbits won't hurt you." Conscious of his new role as the man of the family, Miles went first, then Odi, then Joe followed by Alice. After making sure all the children were safely down the rabbit hole, Laurel called up again to her wode-painted colleagues who'd stayed behind to defend the village, "Send word when it's safe again. We're heading for the canal." Then she too disappeared into the hole.
"It's dark!" cried Joe as he valiantly scrambled after Roots. "Don't worry," his big sister tried to reassure him "just keep going and we'll be alright." Secretly she was terrified, not so much by the darkness, but rather at the thought of touching any worms.
"Are we nearly there?" asked Miles, anxiously. "Hard to say, really" Roots replied. "I've never been this far before. We might end up having to dig our way out."
"You mean we're trapped!" squeaked Odi, temporarily deserted by his usual aplomb.
"I wouldn't say TRAPPED exactly", said Roots. "More like..... buried. But never mind, we're sure to come out somewhere."
"Help, help, I'm suffocating!" yelled Odi, his chest heaving up and down.
"Hush up, Odi" said Joe "you're scaring everybody."
"But I can't breathe!" Odi was now really beginning to panic, gulping desperately for air.
From the rear, Laurel called out soothingly "Deep breaths, Odi! Deep breaths!"
"Not TOO deep, mind", said Roots "You'll use up all the oxygen."
Roots joins the jet set
"Quick!" cried Jo "Switch on the engine!" Miles ran to the back of the barge and slipped the key into the lock. As soon as he turned it, the barge set off at an amazingly spanking pace for such a heavy vessel. Roots had just untied the rope from its mooring and was now trotting alongside with it on the towpath.
"Hey! That's them!" bawled one of the trench coats and started running towards the Judith Rose.
"They've seen us!" Roots yelled. "Press the Booster, Miles!" He was just about to hop on board as Miles touched the large red button. This caused the barge to lunge forward at such an incredible speed, it yanked the unfortunate Roots off the towpath. "Sack this!!" he hollered, clinging desperately to the rope, his feet wafting in the air behind him. "Sack this for a Kleenex full of bogies!"
"Supersonic!" whooped Miles and he waved his fist above his head as the barge blazed along the canal, sending ducks and fishermen diving for cover. "Wit woos!"
Meanwhile, Roots had recovered his balance sufficiently to press his heels into the water and lean backwards like a skier. "Look at me!" he cried, jubilantly. "I've joined the jet set!"