Tippy-toe. Tippy-toe. Tippy-toe.
That’s the sound of Rocky and me, tippy-toeing through the door, our hearts still beating faster than a hungry hurricane, and louder than my alarm clock (which goes off way too early!).
“Crafts,” I whisper under my breath, thinking of the sign above the door. I lift my head to get a good look at the place. Rocky does the same and I’m just about to tell him what I make of it all when the door we have just come through slams shut and locks itself.
“At least this means that that giant Brush won’t be able to follow us in,” I say to Rocky. He isn’t concerned, more excited about this wonderful place we find ourselves in.
There are lots of trees here. Usually, as you will know, trees are green. Here, the trees are all different shades of colours. Some are purple, some are yellow and others are red. There’s no breeze here but the leaves are swaying from right to left, from left to right.
I take a closer look at the trees when suddenly thick drops of rain, the shape of crocodile tears, fall on our heads. This is odd because we’re inside. The roof doesn’t seem to be leaking, so I look around to see where the drops are coming from.
“Are the trees crying?” I ask Rocky. He gives me one of his don’t-be-ridiculous looks and carries on gazing around the space.
The ground is covered in old paintbrushes, sawdust and confetti. Every now and then there’s some star shaped paper on the floor that shortly after being spotted drifts upwards. I look at the ceiling and discover that lots of stars are now hovering underneath the roof, gliding, playing some sort of game. They are joined by old sweet wrappers that are shaped like butterflies.
I look down again and am astonished to discover heaps of flowers on the ground and little birthday candles, the kind you put on a cake.
Slowly and carefully we carry on walking down a narrow path that looks a little like a proper street, with double yellow lines. It’s really an ordinary kind of street that would never stand out in a crowd of streets. In the distance I can see another building, or maybe walls.
“A building within a building,” I say to Rocky.
We continue to walk, slowly, when we start to hear crafting noises like the sound of a paintbrush being dipped in paint, the sound of metal being banged into shape and the hullabaloo of sewing machines. I look at Rocky and laugh.
“Hahaha! You’re covered in paint!” He looks at me and shakes his head. I look down at my raincoat, which is also covered in various colours: red, blue, green, white and purple. I look up and to my amazement notice that the drops of crocodile tears are now replaced by thick drops of paint.
“It’s quite messy in here,” I say. “I don’t think the giant Brush would like it much.” Rocky nods and we continue to head towards the other building. I check behind me to make sure the Brush isn’t following and the coast seems clear. I listen to the exciting crafting noises but can’t help but wonder where they are coming from. Are we not alone? I wonder. I don’t say this out loud because I don’t want to worry Rocky but I’ve got to admit I’m getting a little worried by this point. Who will we encounter next and more importantly, how will we ever get home?
Finally, we reach the other building. It turns out it’s not really a building at all. We’re looking at colossal iron gates. Their carefully woven structure reminds me of a mountain of spaghetti, or macaroni, if macaroni were longer (this is really a whole new topic!), but, without the sauce.
Behind the gates is a busy market, where statues, out of yellow stone, as yellow as a banana and a lemon put together, are doing all the crafting. Thick drops of paint, this time in a light blue and yellow, as well as floating orange peel (this is no joke) are drifting around the air. The smell’s just wonderful.
The small stony statues look a little like Snow White’s dwarfs. They’re busy painting, sewing and banging metal into shape. The stalls look unusual too. They consist of colourful flowers like tulips, roses, dahlias, sunflowers and cactuses (I know!). Instead of regular wooden tables there are heaps of cabbages and brussel sprouts (both of which I hate!), all shaped into table shapes.
The stony figures are standing over their work, shifting their weight from the left foot to the right foot from time to time. (I’m assuming they’re pretty heavy since they’re made out of stone.).
I rub my eyes. I look at Rocky and he rolls his eyes at me.
“Yes, you’re right, we’ve seen stranger things,” I say to him.
We stand outside the gates, I guess to avoid a repeat of the brush incident (see, we’ve learned!).
Every now and again one of crafters whistles a tune and everyone else joins in. It seems peaceful enough. Rocky and I both get carried away, and begin to whistle one of our own songs when all of a sudden and unexpectedly these miniature creatures run over to us, wrestle us to the ground and tie us up! They continue to roll us around like two barrels of laughs (only that we’re not laughing at all!) until they stop. I’m quite scared and now and judging by the expression on Rocky’s face, so is he. I try to read the figures’ faces but am only met by stony silence.
“Nooo, please, let us go!” I shout. I think shouting, when you’re tied up, isn’t a bad idea.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?” One of the dwarfs, named Fish (he wears a nametag) asks us.
“Did the giant Brush send you?” Another one, named Meat, asks.
“No, no, no! This is all a big misunderstanding. We were running away from the Brush when we fell into a puddle and landed outside the Crafts’ door. The Brush tried to follow us so we came here to hide from it,” I say, as calmly as possible. Rocky nods like there’s no tomorrow.
“And why should we believe you?” Fish asks.
I think and I think and I think. Why should they believe us?
“Because we like mess?” I say carefully.
The dwarfs break into a whisper, repeating what I just said over and over again. They look at Rocky and me, suspiciously.
“You like mess?” Meat asks.
“Yes, we love mess. We never tidy anything up, do we Rocky?” Rocky nods and tries one of his charming smiles.
“Prove it,” Fish says.
He unties us and walks us into the market place. He gets out a huge sack and marches us over to the paint stall. I keep my fingers crossed that he won’t torture us with the cactus.
He hands me the sack and the paint.
“Make a mess,” he says.
I look at Rocky and smile. That, we can do.
I throw the sack’s contents up in the air and mixture of confetti and sawdust drizzles down on us. Rocky dips his arms and legs in the paint and starts running through the colourful drizzle and I do the same. In no time, the space around us is transformed into a vibrant mess.
“Not bad,” Fish says and Meat agrees. “You see, the giant Brush has been trying to clean up our crafty mess for years now. We love mess. Our motto’s: No Mess, Much Stress. It has tried to send little helpers down here before.”
“Yes, like that time when it sent that mop and bucket!” Meat says. “Thankfully, we managed to convert both the mop and the bucket.” He points at a corner. I can see the mop dipping itself in paint and then spinning around like the spinniest of spinners, splashing its surroundings with paint.
“Rocky and I love a good mess.” I say and wonder if these two are able to help us. “Now, I’ve a favour to ask.”
Meat and Fish look at each other and then at me, quizzically.
I gather all my courage. I look at Rocky for some support. He rolls his eyes at me, as if to say ‘big deal’.
“It’s very nice down here but I was wondering if you could tell us how to get back up there? We really need to get home,” I say.
Again, Fish and Meat look at each other. Fish nods and looks behind him.
“Veg! Veeeeg! Vegetable! Where are you?” he shouts.
Vegetable, or Veg as his friends call him, moves over to us.
“Yes? What can I do for you?” Veg asks.
“We’ll need some of your cabbages, brussel sprouts, onions and your umbrella,” Meat says. Then he turns to me. “You see, the only way to get back up there is through, how shall I put it politely, erm, natural gas. In order for you to produce this natural gas, you need to eat a lot of cabbage, sprouts and onions. The rest is a doddle.”
Now I’m worried. I hate cabbage and sprouts.
“Couldn’t he eat it?” I say and point at Rocky, who gives me a very angry look and starts shaking his head.
“That fellow? Nah, he’s too small,” Fish says. Rocky doesn’t waste any time in giving me one of his smirks and starts to drag cabbages my way.
What happens next is too horrific to tell you in detail. Let me just say I have never ever, in my whole life, felt so bloated and sick.
But it works. With the umbrella in one hand and Rocky in the other, I fart my way upward. We float gently but I never stop trumping, just in case.
We re-emerge through another puddle, just around the corner from our flat. I walk as fast as I can.
“Hurry up, Rocky, I need the loo!” I shout. He rolls his eyes at me. “Well, who had to eat all those cabbages and sprouts? You or me?” I say, annoyed.
Over and out.