The Last Footsies

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Synopsis

 

 

Ten year old Anthony lives in an isolated rural cottage, on the edge of the Border Counties in the very North of England. A brook babbles on its way through the bottom of his garden where nature loving Anthony nurtures the visiting wild life.

 

One warm evening in late summer he rescues from the stream, what turns out to be, the last surviving clan of J’s which, in his own mind, he christens “Footsies.”

The Footsies are an unknown, nocturnal, small, subterranean species which has been hounded almost to extinction and, now nomadic, the last clan is moving ever northward seeking safe haven.

Their journey ends abruptly when their raft unexpectedly hits rapids and throws one of their kind, with their meagre belongings, overboard.

Rescued by Anthony the J’s are persuaded to stay a while in the safety of his garden. 

Hence Anthony’s declaration: “There are no fairies at the bottom of my garden.”

 

 

 


 

 

The Last Footsies

 Chapter 1

 

Do you believe in fairies? Well! I don’t! There are no fairies at the bottom of my garden. Beyond the closely mown, alternately striped lawn, almost sixty metres away from the house, there is a row of five pine trees about ten metres high. Beyond that ,the ground shelves steeply, through tangled brambles and undergrowth, down to the crystal clear brook. Just a short distance upstream, to the right, the brook tumbles over a series of large rocks creating miniature rapids. Then the stream widens to about two and a half metres as it flows more leisurely past my garden before it plunges over the next ledge thirty metres downstream.

The sound of falling, bubbling water creates a special kind of music, ever-changing

throughout the seasons. I sit on the bank side, many a time, under the shade of the trees with my back against the rough bark trunk, watching and listening. Sticklebacks and minnows dart in and out of the dappled shadows; croaking frogs and noisy jays make discordant harmonies; arrogant black and white magpies contrast with shy long-tailed tits; cheeky finches, some common greens and the occasional and red chested bullfinch flit among the branches in the undergrowth; a family of kingfishers, who live in a hole in the willow tree that grows on the opposite bank, perch on a favourite bough that overhangs the brook; over the other side is where the red squirrels live, high in the beech trees; and, when the light grows dim, hedgehogs and foxes, swooping, clicking bats and very occasionally, if I keep very, very still and quiet, the  badgers may visit the brook for a drink.

 

The bottom of my garden was always my most favourite place in the world, but last summer it

became a most treasured hiding place.

 


 

Chapter 2

 

It was dusk. The hedgehog family had just crept passed my feet, snuffling for worms, when I thought I heard a cry for help. At first, I could not tell where the voice had come from. As I could not see anything behind me in the garden it had to be from the brook. I scrambled down the bank and the cries became louder. Theywere nearer now and growing more frantic.

 

“Grab him!”

 

“Save him!”

 

“Jan, grab a hold!”

 

“We can’t reach you! We’re out of control.”

A small bobbing head was swept into view on the current, followed by a small raft riding the rapids. It was loaded to the gunnels with terrified faces. Cartons and boxes that had tumbled off the raft floated by. I immediately splashed into the shallow water and with two cupped hands, scooped the bobbing head safely onto the bank side. Gently I stopped the raft from careering further downstream and pushed it onto the grassy bank. Ten tiny faces jumped off the raft and surrounded the spluttering figure I had rescued, who was now coughing up gallons of brook water.

 

While they were busy fussing I retrieved their belongings from the water and then sat down, took off my wet shoes and socks and watched the remarkable scene. At last Jan seemed fully recovered and they turned their attention towards me.

 

“It saw us,” cried one small, frightened voice.

 

“We’re done for now,” quaked another.

 

“It’s all Jan’s fault,” piped a third.

 

The fourth voice was female and calm. “What do we do, Joz?”

 

“I don’t think it’s going to hurt us,” Joz ventured, “not after it saved Jan.”

 

I sat perfectly still, entranced, staring over my knees at the strangest creatures I had ever seen. They were less than thirty centimetres high; they had round moonlike faces; they had pale pink skin and were as bald as coots; their ears were pointed like pixies, not that I believe in pixies either; their large, oval, grey coloured eyes were so sad; but strangest of all was the fact that they had no bodies, arms or legs; just two large feet. The biggest impression I had was of eyes and feet. In my own mind, I had already christened them “Footsies”.

 

 

Author Wallace E Briggs
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