A loud crashing sound woke Poysenberry from his sleep. Another smashing sound rang in the air, not too far from where he lay in the dirt. At first he felt horribly disoriented, unsure of why he was sleeping outside and wondering where these terrible sounds were coming from. Then the memories flooded in, and he remembered how Woodman was mistreated just a few hours ago. He turned his head expecting to see Nightshade and Woodman at his side, but to his shock, the ground was empty.
From the hut in the distance, he heard Axies screaming as they ran outside. He was feeling more unsettled by the minute because of the commotion. He heard another hammering crash near the owner’s hut, but when he turned to look, he was distracted by a crowd of Axies screaming in the farm.
Poysenberry turned all the way around and saw a horrible creature, referred to as Big Fang, chomping away at the discarded barrels in the farm. The creature’s body was a translucent yellow, and it had two small indented eyes and stone-like jaws for a mouth. Big Fang released a loud roar, causing the Plants to let out another round of screams.
Another loud, smashing sound rang out near the owner’s hut. This time, he could make out a gigantic rock figure punching his way through the hut with his stone fists. The owner came rushing out, screaming as the Little Rock continued hammering at the hut.
Miss Feather Lunge slammed into Posyenberry as she was running away from a hoard of Toadies who were jumping off the roof of the Axies’ run-down hut. They fell onto the ground and both of them groaned.
A Toady landed on the ground beside them, rebounded up into the sky and, on its way back down, aimed its body right over theirs. Miss Feather Lunge and Poysenberry both rolled away in the nick of time. The Toady smashed onto the sand, blowing up as it hit the ground.
The green explosion threw Poysenberry into the air and he landed near the side gate that was connected to the owner’s plot of land. He groaned as he rolled onto his side. His shell had taken the brunt of the explosion –– there were black marks and sparkling goo fragments left upon it.
When he raised his face from the sand, he saw the side gate hanging open. Another Toady fell from the roof and exploded, causing the dark night to erupt in a flash of green light. Poysenberry was blinded for several seconds as he rose to his feet. He kept blinking but could not make out much of anything. He panicked, worried that not only might he be defenceless without his sight, but also that his loss of sight might be permanent. Eventually, a blurry scene came into view. He saw another green flash blip in the distance and a dark figure approaching him. Instinctively, he bared his piranha teeth and growled at the figure.
He recognised Nightshade’s voice and felt a lump forming in his throat.
She grabbed him by the paw and yanked him toward herself.
‘I can’t see!’ he said. ‘They exploded right beside me – ‘
‘Shut up and get moving!’
Poysenberry closed his mouth and allowed her to guide him. She stuck close to his side, giving him a nudge here and there as they raced to the gate.
‘Where are you going?’
‘We’re getting out of here.’
‘That gate takes us to the owner’s land though,’ he said. ‘Didn’t you see the Little Rock in there?’
She halted at the gate. A loud explosion near the cactus patch lit up the night. Poysenberry could see the blurry green colours radiating off the long wooden fence.
‘You want to stay here and remain safe, then fine,’ she said. ‘But if you want to see what’s beyond these fences then you’re going to have to face your fears and go claim what’s yours.’
Taking a dry gulp, Poysenberry heard shouts coming from behind him and the owner’s voice ringing out in the midst of the chaos.
‘Were is Woodman?’ the owner said. ‘Where is that damn plant!’
‘What’s it going to be?’ said Nightshade.
The owner was searching the lands for his old Axie, sounding more frantic as time passed. ‘He’s the only Axie with enough experience to kill that stupid rock!’
Another explosion sounded in the distant corner and fireworks popped in the night.
‘And where the hell is Whistler?’
Poysenberry nodded. A group of scared Axies rushed past him, yelling for Miss Puffy to come and get them.
‘Okay,’ he said. ‘Let’s leave.’
‘I knew you were brave.’ Nightshade kissed him on the cheek and chlorophyll surged through his veins, causing his face to turn beet red. He was slurring as he let out the next words out of his mouth. ‘Come on.’
The moment could only last for a second before she guided him through the open gate and into the owner’s land. The further they ran, the louder Little Rock sounded.
‘Hurry,’ she said. ‘We can’t let that thing see us.’
A fraction of Poysenberry’s vision was returning. He could make out shapes, but could not see their details like before.
The hammering grew louder. Then he saw the giant figure near the owner’s hut. He quivered, now realising how close they were — just a couple of metres away from the creature.
‘Oh my gosh,’ he said.
‘Shhh,’ said Nightshade, putting her paw over his mouth.
Then the hammering stopped and the ground started trembling. Poysenberry heard pieces of wood splintering nearby.
‘What’s going on?’ he whispered past her paw.
He got his answer quickly. He saw that the darkened pieces they were standing by were none other than the fallen pieces from the owner’s hut. And the large shape that was moving from the other side round the hut toward them was none other than Little Rock.
Nightshade pulled him away and told him to run. He did as she instructed but tripped over a piece of wood and fell face first into the sand. The ground trembled harder. He could almost feel Little Rock crushing him with its massive feet when Nightshade came to him and pulled him up. Poysenberry tried to move but he tripped once more due to a sharp pain in his back leg.
‘Oww,’ he said. ‘My leg! I can’t move it!’
‘We have to go,’ she said. ‘It’s seen us, come on!’
Little Rock threw his fist into the air and roared. He stomped his foot right in front of Poysenberry and dust tossed up into the plant’s face. Nightshade tried to pull him back further but his hermit shell kept slipping out from her paws.
‘Just go,’ he said. ‘I’ll fight him if I have to. But you get out of here while you can!’
Little Rock moved even closer. Poysenberry felt Nightshade’s hands unlatch from his shell and then he heard her moving away. Off to save herself. A strange silence crept over the chaotic lands. All the noises seemed far off and somehow detached from him.
‘You go,’ he said to no one in particular. ‘Save yourself.’
To be continued…