I wrote this story in it's entirety late on the evening of August 10th 2014 from a completely fresh idea that came to me there and then. It was a birthday present for my son Marcus, who turned 11 the next day, and I got the idea because it was all over the news that there was going to be an unusually bright moon that night . . . he enjoyed it - I hope you do too. (BTW . . .his family 'nickname' is 'Moon'!)
It was kind of exciting really, they didn't quite know what to expect, all they had been told was that it would be quite dark once things started to get underway and that they were not to be startled by anything they came across. Their mother had gone on to explain that when embarking upon new things like this they don't always turn out how you might expect. However, she had been keen to point out that the two boys must follow the instructions exactly, otherwise the element of excitement and surprise would be lost.
It was Marcus's birthday treat, and especially for him, with his brother Michael to accompany their parents had arranged this 'Moonwalk' adventure. It bothered Michael a little that his mother particularly seemed to be holding something back – as if there was something she just wasn't telling them both. Marcus however, was not affected by any of this, he just wanted to get this thing going.
“Now remember,” began their mother, “this is an adventure that you have to do on your own but you simply must follow the instructions we have set for you. You wanted a challenge Marcus . . . well happy birthday . . . we've sure given you one.” She smiled at them with a crafty wink across that was aimed at her husband. “Well, are you ready?”
Michael looked a little nervous but his younger brother was confident:
“Yeah, cool guys. Come on, let's hit the track” His elder sister Annie, also present in the kitchen at the issuing of these instructions let out a burst of laughter at her younger brother's impudence.
In fact, she felt she had to interject:
“Marcus you make me laugh. You don't have a care in the world do you – you just want to get on with it . . . that's pretty cool.” she put down her book 'Maps and Mysteries' and Marcus was immediately drawn to it;
“That looks good 'Mop mysteries'! What's that about then . . . unexplained ways of cleaning the kitchen floor?” He said, trying to read the heading upside down.
The rest of the family burst out laughing.
“No, it's Maps and Mysteries silly.” emphasised his elder sister trying to control her laughter at his half seriously-meant remark.
“Anyway.” interrupted their father. “As your mother says, this has to be done correctly and it's time sensitive, you have to go very soon.” He placed a sheet of paper on the table in front of them containing some sketches notes and a computer generated map all carefully prepared.
“Google maps dad” grinned Marcus “Should have used Google maps.” He gave his dad a bit of the waggly finger routine.
“Well I did you cheeky so . . .” - Marcus was already grinning with self satisfaction at his last remark.
“Enough!” their mother knew that they just had to get going. “Well, off you go, it's nearly 7.00pm and there are people waiting for you we'll see you back here in about a couple of hours.”
The two boys reached for their jackets, Marcus grabbed the necessary paperwork whilst elder sister and mother continued to remind them of all the usual warnings . . . don't talk to strangers, stay together, read all the instructions twice etc. as they hastily made their exit.
“This is quite decent really, mum and dad have set all this up you know” Michael felt he had to explain to his younger brother.
“I know, but what is it going to be? The Moonwalk? It's got to involve MJ I'm sure of it”
Marcus stopped and stared at his brother with an air of disbelief;
“Oh my . . .you mean you haven't heard of Michael Jackson . . . Moonwalk?”
“Of course I have.” (Michael felt slightly insulted) “But that won't be it.”
“How do you know, let's look at the first instruction and see.”
So as they paused outside the house they opened up the sheet to find it was actually a very well crafted map with old fashioned script style writing and a clear 'X' stating 'You are here'.
“Oh wow man. Cool! We have to follow this map obviously.” (For a boy of eleven years Marcus was extraordinarily quick on the uptake, if there was a task in hand to follow he didn't need to have it explained to him twice, so almost before Michael could respond his brother was plundering down the road employing strange sort of body movements.
“What are you doing?”
“Moonwalk!” Beep-bopping sounds emanated from his mouth as he tried to freestyle - glide the 'moonwalk' dance . . . but it wasn't quite working. The two of them fell about laughing.
The two boys followed the dotted line on the map, it seemed very straightforward, it took them half a mile or so along the cycle path they knew so well that ran alongside their home and beyond. Then, as they started to carefully read the next direction they could see something a little odd. The arrowed route took them off into the bushes and shrubbery. They knew there was nothing to be found there surely, but this map clearly marked the house of 'Septimus Moon' – and that, seemingly was where they were to head.
“That's stupid” remarked Marcus indignantly. “That's just bushes and a pond and stuff through there, there ain't no septic moon house.”
“It says Septimus” his brother corrected.
“Septimus, I think it's an old man's name from like . . . years ago”
“Oh, well, better see what's cooking or we'll never get to eat the pie.” Marcus led the way.
Back at their home their sister Annie was a little anxious, rather hoping that they wouldn't mess up. In fact she had said to her mum and dad that her younger brothers, just eleven and thirteen might be a little too young for such an independent surprise adventure but her parents had disagreed and Annie was slightly annoyed.
“Well, anyway' she said “Did either of you see where I left my book? I've misplaced something that was inside it.” neither of them had, and to Annie's annoyance neither of her parents seemed interested in her reading about mysteries, they were only concerned with the adventure they'd planned for their own boys.
The two boys plunged through the bushes that now seemed to lead to a wooded area that they didn't even ever remember being there.
“This is pretty weird you know” began Michael, “I don't remember any of this”
“Nah. It's a bit like that story by the famous 'Lewis C. Aslan'” began Marcus quite authoritatively.
“What?” enquired his brother.
“You know, where they go into a cupboard and the whole world changes and a witch tries to catch them – know the one?” Marcus smirked at his brother, wondering if he did indeed 'know the one!'
“You mean C.S.Lewis you plank.”
“That's the one – C. S. Lewis . . . not the plank bit though – don't think that was part of his title.”
“Look!” Michael pointed suddenly as their attention was diverted and they were stopped in their tracks by what they could now see laying before them.
“Wow!” They looked first at the map then up at the glorious but slightly spooky building in front of them. It stood tall. Perhaps seeming taller than the trees around it and yet, somehow this old stone building with a quaint wooden door seemed to belong right here, as if it must have always been here, it's just that somehow they had never come across it before. This was the house that seemed to be marked on their map, and, clearly was where they were to head. Slowly and nervously they approached the archway cloaking the front door. It seemed to be made entirely of aged wood and Marcus could just about read the carved inscription above the door handle. It said quite clearly:
'Knock, Wait, Enter' with the 'KWE' notably enlarged. Underneath in small script was the name 'Septimus Moon'
“Told you that was his name. Let's just do it.”
Both boys were now feeling a little nervous but quite excited. How cool was this. Good old mum and dad, always springing inventive surprises and now this old chap whoever he really was, (one of dad's mates dressed up most likely), was going to play the part and take them on this adventure.
Cautiously, after arguing about it for around about a minute or so Michael was forced to agree that he should knock as it was Marcus who had the birthday and therefore effectively owned the rights of decision involving things to do with who should knock on the doors of strange old men and who should be protected should anything go wrong. So, Michael knocked.
The door creaked slowly open, just a little at first as the two boys stood speechless in anticipation, then, as the shuffling from behind the ancient oak became more fervent a grey-haired wizened old face appeared and stared at the pair of them. Michael's mouth went suddenly dry as he felt his heart beat fast and was nearly ready to burst out of his chest. Marcus wanted to say something but the strange old man spoke first:
“Come in . . . please, do come in.”
Michael and Marcus looked at each other . . . then, nervously they went in.
They didn't do much talking. They just listened. Sensibility took over and both boys appreciated the planning that must have gone into all this. Septimus talked and talked, all the time leaning on his walking stick with a wry grin creeping across his craggy lined old face. The boys looked into his eyes listening intently as he spoke. Presently, he got them on their feet, grabbed his coat and pointed with his stick:
“Into battle we go.” he pointed towards the moon.
“The moon tonight is unusually bright, and he whose anniversary falls will always strive and often fight, to see beyond what often calls.”
These words sunk in with a ring to the rhyme as they set on their way.
It was dark yet bright, the moon was a full one and they walked on and on through the night, deeper and deeper into woodland that they never knew existed. The old man pointed from time to time but all the while both boys were transfixed by the moon and it's brightness. It seemed like a dream, like as if they were in another world, but it was all so real!
When they finally returned to the house and Septimus told them it was time to go it seemed like it had been hours and hours yet they felt so alive - so rejuvenated.
Their mother was pacing up and down the hallway.
“Sally says they didn't arrive! Oh my goodness Sam, don't you see . . . anything might have happened to them.” Their mother was quite distraught.
“I'm sure they'll be back soon, let's give it ten minutes then perhaps I will go and look.”
“We should have given them a mobile just in case.”
“Don't worry.” said Sam “I'm sure they will be okay, it's just a pity it seems to have gone wrong.”
Mum was virtually in tears.
“I mean . . . we had it all planned . . . Sally was going to take them to the space walk demonstration at the museum in town and they would have loved that interactive experience – what it is like to actually walk on the moon with all the lack of gravity etc. but they just haven't turned up! . . . I'm so worried!”
Annie was annoyed. She was annoyed with her parents as she felt it was all a bit of a pretentious set up and that the boys wouldn't really go through with it so anything might happen. They were bound to get something wrong! And, she was also annoyed that she had lost this special insert to her book . . . something that was now quite integral to the text – she needed it to understand what was going on!
The three of them talked together hoping the boys would soon return late on this August evening.
After a while Sam asked his daughter about the book:
“You say you've lost an insert or something, why is it so important?”
“I can't properly understand the story without it.”
Just then he noticed his wife was staring at something on the kitchen table. She was staring hard and directly as if she had suddenly uncovered some crucial piece of information. Husband and daughter followed her gaze.
“What is it?”
She walked over to the folded sheet and slowly opened it:
“They didn't even take it! - these are the instructions for Marcus and Michael – they didn't even pick them up!”
“But they did . . . they took something!” added their father.
Annie walked slowly over to where she had laid her book, her precious book all about Maps and Mysteries.
“Annie, your book . . . you lost something?”
All of a sudden it dawned upon them. There had been a mistake, the wrong piece of information had been picked up by the boys.
“That thing . . . the map – whatever it was. What did it say?” Her father was anxious.
With solemn eyes Annie read from her book, from the section that had introduced an inserted fold up map – which she was now missing!
“It says: This is the story of one Septimus Moon, a man of senior years who as myth has it lived many years ago but is always somewhere nearby to wherever you are! It is said that those who seek shall find, but only if they are brave enough to follow the inscription.”
“What is the inscription?” asked her father.
Annie looked hard at the page.
“It just says 'KWE' whatever that means, then it goes on to say what they will find is enlightened knowledge, but only if the the moon is bright, and on an anniversary of a kind.”
“There should be a map here but it has gone. I wanted to know where this place is. Apparently Septimus Moon exists for everyone when conditions are right but I need that map I want to know for myself how can this be?”
Just then there came a quickening of far off footsteps and a panting sound outside as two young boys burst in through the front door.
Their mother spoke:
“You know what, I think we might just be about to find out . .”
“We're back” came a jubilant voice. “Cracking Moon walk . . . thanks mum, thanks dad, you'll never guess what happened . . . !”
© T Goymour 2014