Adventure in the Tropical Rainforest

One bright and sunny afternoon, George and Elliana were outdoors in their back garden. George was playing with his toy truck near the Hills Hoist (a rotary clothesline), while Elliana was hanging on it, swinging around.
“Wee!” cried Elliana, laughing as she swung around and around. It was like a swing but much better. George was too busy playing with his truck to notice.
Now for many of you who don’t know, a Hills Hoist is the rotary clothesline that spins around to make it easier to hang your clothes. It’s also a fun swing for children and serves many purposes beyond just being a clothesline.
Suddenly, there was a loud crack. “Oh no!” cried George. “The truck broke down!”   Elliana jumped down from the clothesline she was hanging from and came over. “I’ll just have to take it apart and fix it.” He said.
“Let me help!” said Elliana.
Just then it started to rain. Big drops began to fall. “That’s funny,” mused George. “It didn’t look like it was going to rain.” Suddenly a strong wind blew. It swirled around the children and spun them around like on the Hills Hoist. George’s hand lost hold of the truck as they spun around in the dark. Suddenly, the wind stopped.
“Where are we?” whispered Elliana. They heard the pleasant dripping of light rain.
George looked up. The leaves were high up on the canopy, and a faint amount of light penetrated through. “It looks like we’re in a rainforest.” He said. The children got up and looked around. Suddenly, they heard a little hiss. Actually, it sounded more like a “Psst!” There on the ground was a lizard. Elliana looked surprised. “Did the lizard just say psst?” she wondered. The lizard looked at her and winked with his big eyes. “Well, what did you think I said?” he asked. Elliana was shocked. “The lizard just spoke to me!” she exclaimed.
“Come follow me.” indicated the lizard. George and Elliana looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and followed the lizard. As George walked directly behind the lizard, he asked, “Where are you taking us?”
“There’s a big monster here in this rainforest that spews out black smoke and is destroying our home. He eats anything in his path, especially trees, so we better get away and hide from him.”
“All the animals in the forest are in hiding.” continued the lizard. “I think I’ll take you to the wise old hornbill in the forest. He’ll know where to hide you.”
As they got onto a muddy path suddenly, they saw some faint smoke.
“Oh no!” cried the lizard in dismay. “Our path’s blocked. Quick, come this way and remain quiet.”
The children hurried on as the lizard scampered away in another direction.
“This will be a longer route,” he called behind him. “But it will still get us to the hornbill.”
“What was that?” whispered Elliana to George as the children hurried to keep up.
“I don’t know.” replied George, panting.
Pretty soon, the children were panting hard. They paused to take a break.
The lizard turned around, concerned. “You must hurry up!” he said. “There’s not a moment to lose.”
“But what are we running away from?” asked George.
“The monster.” replied the lizard. “Didn’t you see the black smoke? He puffs out huge gobs of black smoke and there’s red fire coming from him. He’s already destroyed thousands of homes.”
And he’s invincible.” continued the lizard. “A force of animals tried to overpower him but he’s hard as stone and they couldn’t overpower him…he consumed them.” he added softly.
“Many animals and lives have been lost in trying to fight him, and so much of the forest is gone.”
“We have to keep going to hide from him.” The lizard started scurrying away briskly. The children sensed the urgency and quickly followed behind.
Suddenly, the lizard halted. They had come upon a dead end. A clump of trees had fallen and were strewn across their path.
Oh no!” cried the lizard in dismay. “He’s been here. That must mean he’ll be back. Quick! Another way!”
The children, panting, ran after the lizard who was quickly scampering away. Suddenly they heard a loud thunderous sound. It smashed around them. “What was that?” cried George.
“That’s the monster!” shouted the lizard. “He’s here! He’s gaining on us!”
The children ran faster and faster. The lizard hurried on ahead of them, his lean long tail swishing from side to side. Suddenly, the lizard stopped. “Why are we stopping?” cried Elliana.
“Quick, in here.” said the lizard. Suddenly a gaping hole in a tree appeared before them.   The children stepped inside and vanished.

When they had gone some distance inside, they saw a light in the distance. It became brighter and bigger as they made their way closer to it, following the lizard.
Suddenly, the space opened up into a cave. Several animals were gathered around a round wooden table where a bright lamp stood that was emanating the light the children had seen. A big bird with a huge bill looked up at the new arrivals, surrounded by the other animals of the forest. There were cuscus, possums, green tree snakes, green tree frogs, birds of paradise, tree kangaroos, cassowaries and many other creatures gathered around. They all looked intently at the children.
“New visitors, I see.” said the hornbill.
“I was on our way to the meeting when I bumped into these children.” replied the lizard. “What could I do? I couldn’t leave them to fend for themselves in the forest against the monster.”
“No, you couldn’t.” replied the hornbill gently, looking at them with kindness in his eyes.
“You children must be frightened. Come sit with us as we discuss.”
A tree kangaroo pulled up a chair for the children.
“What are you discussing?” asked George.
“Our plan for what we must do next.” replied the great hornbill. “You see, our homes are being consumed by a huge black monster and time is running out. We must determine what we are to do next.”
A bird of paradise fluttered onto Elliana’s chair. He tilted his head and looked at her curiously. Elliana smiled. “I love your colourful plumage.” she said softly. The bird ruffled his feathers proudly.
A green tree frog hopped over with two mugs of steaming cocoa on a tray on his back. The children thanked him, and drank happily. It was peaceful inside.
Outside the rain started pelting hard. It was a tropical rainforest, and the rain did not cease but increased from a constant gentle drizzle to strong, pelting rain as it watered the earth.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash.
“What was that?” cried the animals.
“It’s the monster!” cried Elliana.
“Hush, it can’t be.” exclaimed the reptile. “We left it behind. We’re deep inside the forest, under the earth. We’re not near the hole we went through to get here.”
“The monster must be gaining on us.” acknowledged the hornbill. “We must retreat further into the tunnel.”
Everyone started to retreat. The snakes slithered along the ground, the tree kangaroos quickly scampered ahead into the tunnel and all the animals followed suit.
Just then there was a thunderous crash. A tree came penetrating down into the earthen cave, and crashed onto the wooden table, breaking it apart. George and Elliana retreated. A huge black arm appeared through the opening. It was the strong, mighty arm of the monster! Reddish orange flames were appearing and black smoke filled the room. Suddenly Elliana screamed. George had been carried up by the huge arm!
George struggled against the monster, but it was no use. Its arms were strong as stone, just as the lizard had said. In fact, they felt like strong, cool steel. Hang on a second! George gasped in realization. The monster was a huge machine!
Elliana gazed up at her big brother in fright. What was she going to do? “It’s alright, Elliana!” George called out to her. “I know what to do!” He recalled his little toy truck. We need to take it apart, he thought.
“Elliana, can you get around to the back of the machine?” he called.
Elliana listened and went against the direction of all the other animals. She headed towards the black monster.
“What are you doing?!” gasped the lizard in amazement. He ran towards her. But she was far ahead. She went up behind the machine and clambered up.
“Elliana,” George called. “Try and get inside and loosen the grip on this arm.” Elliana swung the machine door wide open and climbed inside. There were many buttons and levers. Which one should she choose? She pushed a lever away from her. It swung the machine hard to the right. No, not that one. She pushed a button. The arm swung open and loosened it’s grip on Elliott.
The machine turned around. It saw little Elliana inside. George realized there was no time to lose! He had to distract the machine. Just then a voice called out. It was the lizard! It had come running up towards the machine.
“Yoohoo!” called the lizard. “Look at me!” he cried, distracting the machine. The machine swung around towards the sound of the lizard. It glared at him with its fiery eyes.
It started making its way towards him, while Elliana desperately pushed buttons, hoping to stop it. George ran up behind the machine. He clambered onto it. The machine moved ever closer to the lizard, who was now zigzagging his way around, trying to outrun the machine. The machine let out thick black smoke. Ugh! It’s trying to choke us! thought Elliana. George coughed heavily. Just a little bit closer, he thought. He knew where he needed to take it apart. It was just like his toy truck. He spotted the lever. He reached out towards it. Just then the machine lurched forward. It had caught the lizard into a corner!
“Oh no!” cried Elliana from the driver’s seat. She frantically pushed buttons and pulled levers. The machine shuddered. George lurched forward. He was thrust upon the lever! Quickly, he yanked it.
Oh no! moaned the machine. It realized what had been done. It was shutting down.
The light in its fiery eyes went out. The machine shuddered one last time, and then came to a halt.
Elliana let out a sigh of relief. George let out a sigh of relief. The lizard looked relieved.
All the animals peaked out from hiding in the tunnel. They slowly came forward. Elliana clambered out of the driver’s seat and swung the door open to climb down. George jumped down. The animals gathered round. The hornbill came forward. All the animals cheered! The tree kangaroo hugged the lizard, the frogs jumped up and down for joy. The birds of paradise fluttered in happiness around the animals and the cuscus hugged the children. Everyone was overjoyed!
“Whew!” said George. “I think we’ve done our job.”
“Why don’t you tinker around and take it apart, George?” asked Elliana.
“That’s a great idea Elliana!” George smiled at his little sister. Then he got happily to the task.
Half an hour later, George looked up. The rain had transformed to a gentle drizzle but was now picking up.
“It looks like a storm.” he said to Elliana.
“We must take shelter.” said the lizard.
Just then a sudden strong wind blew up.
“Oh no, not again!” cried Elliana. It swirled around them, and carried them up. Then all turned dark.
When George and Elliana opened their eyes, it was bright daylight, with the sun shining brilliantly around them. They heard their mother’s voice. “George! Elliana!” she called. “It’s teatime.” She came outside carrying a tray of Timtams and passionfruit Orchy. What a great way to end an afternoon. A gentle breeze struck up. Elliana looked up at the rotary clothesline. George picked up his truck. Yes, what a great way to end an afternoon!

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