Wong moved quickly over the fallen leaves, and Mary had to keep doing little runs to keep up. She was doing one of these when Wong stopped! Mary skidded so as not to bump into him, and ended up falling over, "Ow!"
Mary thought Wong would say sorry, but he didn't even look at her. Mary was surprised. He was still looking forward, then he crouched down with his tail lashing and his ears back, looking so worried that Mary became worried too. "What is it?" There was nothing wrong that she could see, except that where they had been about to go, all the leaves and dry mud that had sprayed up when she fell over, had stayed in the air - not falling, or blowing sideways, just wobbling a little. "Why aren't they falling down?"
Wong looked very thoughtful, "Something is holding them up!"
Mary had guessed that! "Yes, but what?"
With his paw stretched out as far as he could, Wong prodded a not-falling leaf experimentally and it jiggled, and jumped back. Nothing happened. And kept happening. Wong's ears went pricked up again.
That made Mary feel better, "So, do you think it's safe to keep going to see the Madge?"
Careful to go round the not-falling-leaves, they set off again, but had only gone two steps when a soft stickiness tightened over Mary's face! Quickly Mary backed away, but wherever, however she moved the stickiness seemed to tighten! "Help! Get it off! Get it off!"
At once, Wong was there, had a quick look and darted back, "Ok! Uh! OK! Er, Stay still, I'll be back!"
Mary began panting because she wanted, so much, to start pulling at whatever the sticky stuff was! Trying not to scream, she watched Wong go to a bush and bite off a leafy twig, and come back, holding it up high for Mary to take. Moving as little as she could, Mary took the twig out of Wong's teeth. "Don't just stand there! Wave it around where the web is!" Cautiously she brushed her face with the cool leaves, and soon her skin felt free of web - it was wrapping round the twig leaves instead! Wong was clearing away the threads round Mary's legs. Mary saw, where she had been struggling, the web had stuck to itself, making it thick and strong as the belt of her dressing gown at home!. "Ugh!" Wong growled, rubbing his whiskers with one paw.
If he had been an ordinary cat, Mary would have stroked them clean, but with Wong it felt right to ask, first, "Please, can I help you, now?"
"Yes! Hurry Up!" Quickly Mary went to the same bush Wong had gone for a leafy twig, then brushed his whiskers clean, so soon there was only a sticky grey clump in her handful of leaves. Mary was tucking this out of the way so no other creature got caught, when she heard a high, scratchy voice, complaining in another language,; strangely, the more Mary listened, the easier she found it was to understand.
"I'll be glad when she catches them. What are we meant to do? Can't eat my dinner with all this going on!"
Mary bent down to see who was talking, as another, even tinier voice, answered, "Ah, Beautiful Lady, Soon the repulsive runaways will be caught and you an re make that wonderful web of yours?"
There was a dry sigh, "I am ashamed to show my webskills after seeing Hers. And those massive morons waste the opportunity to learn! Blundering into it, tearing it!" Mary heard a tappity tappity noise as if lots of tiny feet stamped angrily,
Then, closer than before, the second voice, "You cannot blame them for not being as clever as She, my Angel? How could they know they are on the edge of Her great work of art!"
The first voice sniggered, "It will be the last thing they do know!"
There was a pause as if the second voice was thinking, "I almost feel sorry for them? Already She will have felt the threads shaking, She will know right where they are! Oh! Maybe She will have time to be honoured guest at our dinner party?"
"That's out of the question!" the first voice snapped, "There's barely enough as it is!"
Another pause, then, "Sweetheart, why are you looking at me like that?"
The first voice, excitedly, "I think I have my appetite back!"
A muffled, "!Ow!" from the second voice.
A scuffle, followed by the first voice, loudly, "Get back here! You said you were coming for dinner!"
Then Mary saw a small brown plump spider with a pale back like it was wearing a knitted vest, creep over the edge of a leaf, and turn to look back at another, larger spider, in a matching, but larger vest, scrambling angrily after, gnashing its mandibles.
"Oh dear, Oh Dear!" whispered the little plump spider, turning round and round as if it didn't know where to go, and tripping over at least 3 of its feet.
Although Mary really didn't like spiders, this one seemed to have much more to be scared of than she did, right now. Carefully and slowly, Mary bent down a tall blade of grass growing nearby and nudged the spider with the tip of the grass. "Psst!, climb on here!"
"Oh! Oh! Is it safe?" the little spider dithered, as the bigger one was getting close
"Hurry!" urged Mary, "I am not scared of you, but that one is too big!" The little spider clung on with all it eyes shut as Mary carefully let the blade of grass back up. "There you are, safe now!"
Opening its eyes the little spider peered up at Mary, "Oh no! A flying saucer!"
Scared, Mary spun round "Where?"
"It's gone again. Thank Goodness!" Mary turned back, "There it is again! The speed of it!" and the little spider curled up making itself even smaller so Mary had to get closer to see it. "Look at it, hovering there! Alien technology, that's what that is!"
Then Mary realised, "That's my face, silly! I am Mary, not a flying saucer!"
The little spider uncurled a bit, "Are you sure?"
That made Mary a bit cross, "Yes!"
This seemed to make the spider all upset again, "But I was told you were a blubbering booby!"
Mary wasn't sure what to say. She been listening so hard she hadn't noticed Wong come and sit on her foot. He had been listening too, but at this his eyes flashed and he growled.
The little spider was jigging up and down, and now he leaped off the grass, drifting away from them on a shiney fine thread of web, his voice came back faintly, "You helped me, so I will help you - you are walking into the Great One's web!"
"Gello!" Wong whispered, crouching down with his ears going back.
Mary didn't like it when he was scared, it was worse than being scared herself, so she said "Maybe he made a mistake, I don't think he was very clever!"
Wong's tail twitched from side to side . Then he looked more hopeful, "You might be right? His vest !Ugh! Need to make sure though!" He looked thoughtfully at the leaves still hanging in the air, Then he looked at the way they would go if they went round there. Then he sat down and scratched his ear, and then he turned round and with his back paws kiicked up lots of leaves and dry mud into the air.
Mary saw that, like when she had tripped, Wong's leaves and dust had stayed up, and now there in dusty leaf dotted hills and valleys, stretching out infront and on both sides,"That's clever! Now we know everywhere the web is!"
Wong scowled, "Everywhere we want to go!"
"Oh! How will we go to the Madge?" Mary asked, sure that Wong would know.
Wong sat with his eyes shut. It was taking a long time. Then he looked much happier. Mary asked, hopefully, wondered, "Have you thought of something?"
Wong smiled, not opening his eyes, "Peanut butter sandwich!"
"Oh." Then Mary noticed the leaves on one bit of web were moving again, "Look!"
"What?" Wong asked crossly, opening one eye, then as the leaves were jiggling more and more, he opened them both.
Those leaves reminded Mary of puppets in a show. "It's like they are on strings and there is a big hand somewhere making them dance!"
Wong's eyes flashed, "I know what it is, not hand, Gello!" he turned to run, yowling, "Gello coming! Get away! Get away NOW!" and bumped into Mary. They both fell over. As Wong's paws scrabbled, Mary saw somerthing under the leaves. When she brushed them away she found it was like a long, smooth stick, blazing white. Wong sniffed it and immediately seemed braver, "Ah, I am very clever to find this and I didn't even know it was here!"
Mary picked u the stick. It didn't feel like wood, or plastic, or metal or stone. "What is it?"
Wong watched as Mary bashed the stick thing on the ground, making it boiing in her hand, but not break. "Guess!"
"It's strong!" Whatever it was seemed to have a life of its own, swishing at some web, liike a weapon. Fzzzt! The web broke!
"Wow!" they both said at once
Wong looked at her, surprised, "You didn't tell me you spoke Cat! You go first!" With the long stone stick thing dancing in Mary's hand at the front, and Wong behind giving advice in between saying rude things about spiders, an opening appeared in the web. The stick thing in Mary's hand whizzed and slashed and the opening soon grew into a tunnel. After a little while, Mary thought the ground felt harder. When she looked down, there were no leaves or grass. She turned back to see how far they had gone, but there was only a pale grey and she couldn't see where they had come from at all!
Although the web had been invisible when Mary and Wong were on the outside! Mary wondered if this was like raindrops - you can see through one, but lots and lots of raindrops together make a cloud.
The light seemed grey, now there was web all around them, but the stick thing stood out brightly, and every time it touched a strand, there was a fizzing sound and pale blue flash. As she hacked away, over and over, Mary stopped thinking about now, and wondered what Mum and Dad were doing. She remembered the time in the social work building, after spending an hour at home vwith them, after school. She had wanted to stay, and have tea and go to sleep in her own bed after her Mum read her a story, like before. For everything to be right. No one knew why she couldn't, not even her head teacher, who was always so kind, even her head teacher didn't seem to know! They all kept smiling and saying, Be brave, you can manage a little bit longer, can't you? for weeks and weeks and weeks! Mary had tried to explain to her Mum, as they waited for Karen to come and take her back to their house. Quietly incase the social worker Babosa heard,Trying not to cry, she couldn't stop her voice wobbling, "When can I stay at home? I've managed, and managed, but I don't think I can manage any more!" And then Mary had cried, and Mum had held her close. Then Mum had let go, and Mary had seen Mum was upset and Babosa was smiling, and home visits after that, Mum said they had to leave her at the social work office, and Mary had had to wait by herself till Karen came.
Whooff pffzzzt! Wheef fzzzit! Mary whacked and slashed, making blue flashes in the wall of spiderweb, thinking "A bit longer, I can manage!" pretending that she would break through soon and Mum and Dad would be there, with their arms out, ready for a big hug. But though the stick thing was helping a lot, it was hard work and she was tired. "Please can we stop, I'm too tired!"
""Ok! I'll show you the right way to do it!" Mary put the stick thing on the ground and sat, carefully, in the middle of the tunnel. Wong scrambled right over her head so he was infront, and picked it up with his paws, Mary ducked as Wong tossed the stick thing the way a band leader does a baton. Fzzt!zzzt! fizzz!!! "Ha! Take that!" till it spun out of his paws, and got stuck in the web wall. "Rats!" Wong immediately lay down and shut his eyes, pretending to be asleep.
Mary got up and pulled the stick thing free. It made a hole, and Mary felt cool air come in, Mary peered through the hole.They weren't in the wood any more! The only green now was from some small plants climbing up a cliff of grey and pale brown rock with swirly silver patterns and a long darker bit, like someone had got a giant paintbrush of brown oily stuff and stroked it along half way up the rock. And a blob of red at one end. Mary wondered if that was a flower, but then she saw the red was moving. So was the dark shape behind it, and behind that, a silvery trail. The more she watched, the more it looked like the red blob was part of the front of the long slithery brown. Then the front peeled away from the rock and Mary saw two little stalks with round bits at the top poking up. The red blob opened like a mouth, waving about, as if it was drinking the air. back and forward. When it turned away Mary couldn't see the red anymore, but then it turned back. And then the dark shape curled round and went straight as an arrow, streaking down the cliff wall towards her.