09 – THE CAVERN OF THE WORM

Hidden in the darkness was a wide crack in the stone foundations that was wide enough for Jingle to slide through. A few inches either way and he would have collided with the wall, but either by luck or divine intervention his leap had been perfect.

Light filtered down through the dislodged earth above them, chunks of it held in place by masses of intertwined roots.

Something huge slammed against the other side of the wall, something far too large to fit through the narrow crevice. Dirt fell like rain from above and there was a moment of silence. Jingle glanced at his new companion and his companion looked back with what must have been a similar look of fear.

Then something slid through the crack into darkness, one of the long spiders legs bristling with hairs as thick as Jingles fingers.

The legs tip carved furrows in the dirt floor, digging up clumps of it and flicking it aside.

It was searching for them.

Jingle climbed to his feet and pushed up against the dirt wall as far as he could from the stone, inches away from the legs furthest reach.

The little furry creature who had become Jingles new companion hopped up to the wall above the searching leg and waited.

Moments later the leg retreated into the darkness and Jingle took his opportunity.

Legs pumping he was probably a quarter of a mile away before he thought of the little creature he had rescued, and it was probably closer to a whole mile before he felt his legs begin to cramp.

He slowed and stopped.

“I.. I.. I think this is far enough…” A voice said from out of nowhere. Jingle felt his pulse race once more and turned to search for the voices owner.

Nothing was behind him and nothing was above him.

Slowly he turned his head to the side and almost screamed when he was confronted by the little black creatures face in extreme close up. The creature hopped from his perch between Jingles shoulders over to the caves wall and from there leaped onto the ground ahead of the reindeer.

“T.. T.. Thank you kind sir.” He said with a little bow. “My name is F.. F.. Felix and I am in your debt.”

“So what are you then?”

Both Jingle and Felix jumped in shock, this was an entirely new voice from an entirely new source and as much as the two of them looked they could not see who had spoken the words.

Felix shrugged his shoulders and his furry body seemed to shudder with the movement.

“I’m ‘ere.” The voice called out again and in spite of its quiet, tiny quality Jingle felt that it was actually a shout.

This time Jingle looked closer at the ground around them and then he finally found it. Curled up on a particularly comfortable looking mound of earth was an earth worm wearing a knitted cap and what looked like a single tiny sock.

Jingle guessed that’s what would pass for a jumper to such a tiny creature.

“‘Ello,” the worm repeated.

“Hello.” Jingle answered.

“H.. H..” said Felix before giving up.

“Don’t see you’re type down ‘ere often.” The worm said after a pause.

“Our type?” Jingle replied perhaps a little too defensively.

“Y’know, bipeds?”

“M.. M.. Mopeds?” Offered Felix.

“BI-peds, you know people with those things…” The worm nodded towards jingles legs disapprovingly. “Though,” he continued while glancing at Felix, “you’re not really a biped are you?”

“S.. s.. six,” Felix replied, “count ’em.”

Then the small furry create wiggled each of his legs in turn.

For a moment Jingle thought of masses of people doing a Mexican wave and giggled to himself. The worm and Felix shot glances at him.

“So you’re an insect?” asked the worm.

“A fly?” Jingle offered.

“O’c.. c.. course. Why’d d.. d.. d’you think the spider wanted to e.. e.. eat me?”

The indignation in Felix the Fly’s voice was unmistakable and Jingle did feel a little foolish making the remark.

“Well then…” The worm paused and smiled a broad and rosy cheeked smile. “..where are you both off to then?”

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