“hey common…lets go climb that tree” Rigi pointed at an old tree at a distance.
“I don’t think we are supposed to go there. See” I ran over to the fence with a sign reading ‘Restricted area, no trespassing’.
“Don’t be such a spoilsport, all the parks have these, it doesn’t mean anything. It is going to be fun. You remember the last time we trespassed, it was so much fun. Come on follow me.”
Rigi ran towards the tree. I stood waiting if he would stop and turn around at me but he didn’t. I followed him. I didn’t want to miss out on the action.
We went through the small gap between the fence and reached the spot.
The tree was the biggest and the thickest we had ever see.
“Look how big this is” Rigi said as he hugged the trunk of the tree. Twenty Rigi were required to completely hug the trunk.
“Yeah” I brushed my hands through the wood as I went around it.
The tree looked to be hundred years old, the wood was so rough in texture and it tickled my hands a little. The color ranged from brown to grey.
The tree wasn’t very tall but it had so many branches. I covered the sun completely. Lots of creeper and crawlers on it.
One of the branches hanging down hit my face as I was walking.
“Check this out man” Rigi called.
I couldn’t see him anywhere.
I looked around.
“here…. up here”
He was sitting on one of the lower branches.
“How did you get up there” I asked him.
“Through that” he pointed at an opening.
It was a hollow trunk leading up to the branches.
I looked through and the hollow trunk went up to the topmost branch. Made it easy for us to climb up.
“I’m going to the topmost branch. Come up.”
“I’ll be right there” I was a little nervous but didn’t want to show it to him. He would then later make fun of me in front of others.
I went inside the hollow trunk. The surface was kind of moist and slippery and I lost my grip a couple of times but, managed to hold on.
But there was this awful smell throughout as I made my way to the top.
I reached the top branch.
It was like a whole different world. It was late evening; the sun was just starting to set. There was some kind of mist surrounding this top part of the tree. It was scary and I couldn’t see Rigi anywhere.
“Rigi….Rigi……” I called out.
He wasn’t anywhere, I started walking along the branches with my hands supporting me. I couldn’t even see the ground from here. It was crazy what I was doing.
“Rigi” I called out several times.
Finally, I heard something, the moving of the branches.
“Oh thank god” I turned.
But it wasn’t Rigi. Slowly from the branches, a monkey like animal stepped out. It had this typical monkey gait, walking on all its fours and sometimes with two.
It was there right in front of me.
I didn’t know what it was, it was half monkey, half leopard or something. It had bright red eyes, face swollen up and hair all around its face. Its limbs were like those of a monkey, much stronger and thicker. Its body was long, as big as a leopard. The tail was much longer stronger. The monkey had brown and black strips all over.
Slowly I balanced myself as I took a few steps back.
“Your friend is with us” the monkey spoke.
I could sense a lot of heavy movement on the branches.
There were many of them, all of them different. Some were blue, some pink, some golden in color. They all looked like monkeys but had features of some other animal, I saw one monkey with a beak and wings.
And the elephant monkey, the biggest of them all was holding Rigi from its trunk.
“Your friend is safe with us, just like all the other kids we have captured. Now come with us”
“No, don’t come close…. otherwise…. ill…… jump” it was my only way out.
The monkey didn’t say anything.
“Go ahead kid. I’ll catch you before you reach the ground. This is my tree and you are in my home. There is no escape kid.”
I put my hands in my pocket to find my parents photo. Wanted to look at them for one last time.
But I found a lighter. Rigi had stolen it from his uncle and given it to me.
I wasn’t sure if it was working, so I tried. And the flame came on.
The flame got the monkey to take a couple steps back. It was scared of the fire.
“Ok, now listen, you are letting my friend and me go free or else I will burn down your tree” I held one of the thin branches near the flame.
The monkey immediately signaled the elephant to hand Rigi over and it did. Placed Rigi’s unconscious body near my feet. I recognized the smell of the monkey, the same as I was coming up through the trunk.
I slowly started tying a branch around Rigi and me. I was holding up the flame but then one of the monkey charged at me without warning and this made every one of them also charge.
The rope wasn’t tight enough but I had to jump, I threw the flame to the branch and jumped.
The rope was holding till midway when it snapped. I thought I was going to die…. but luckily we landed on a soft spot. We were alive.
I ran with Rigi on my shoulders without looking back. And finally after crossing the fence. I turned back.
The whole tree was lit up in fire and branches were slowly falling to the ground. It was a close escape.