Adventures in Jungle Juice
Thomas lived with his parents in a big old house in Surrey, his mum and dad Pat and Phil were used to Thomas wandering about the house talking to himself. “He’s in his own world again” said Pat to Phil. Like a lot of teenagers with Asperger Syndrome Thomas had few friends. And was bullied constantly at school, by others kids who didn’t understand his difference. Little did his mum and dad know that he wasn’t talking to himself, there was somebody actually in the room with him. This person was a tiny caveman named Dodo, he was so small he could fit in the palm of Thomas’s hand.
Thomas first encountered Dodo at a car boot sale, before he started his secondary school. The caveman just came alive one night whilst Thomas was on his computer, playing video games. Thomas heard something drop on the floor, and turned around to see the caveman walking about; he couldn’t believe his eyes at first. But the caveman looked up at him and said simply “don’t be afraid, all I want to be is your friend”. Thomas got down on his hands and knees and stared at the little man, “you know it’s rude to stare” said the caveman. “It must be my glasses, I need new glasses” Thomas said to himself. The caveman was dressed in sheep skin, and had a bobbed mop of black hair. He had tiny black eyes and a long nose, he very much reminded Thomas of a cartoon character. “I can’t believe this I bought you in a car boot sale last August, and you’ve suddenly come to life” said Thomas. “I’ve come alive because I need your help Thomas”, said the caveman. “What’s your name? asked Thomas. “My name is Dodo, and I come from the land Jungle Juice” “How do you know my name” asked Thomas?, Dodo answered simply “I’ve been listening to your mum call you for your dinner lots of times”. “But my friend we need to get cracking, as I said I need your help, you must travel with me to Jungle Juice.” Thomas suddenly felt excited but at the same time anxious, as he would be travelling to a strange and new place. Normally going a trip into town was enough for him, all those people and loud noises. But somehow this felt exciting to Thomas, it would be good to have an adventure. Thomas felt as if Dodo genuinely wanted to be his friend, unlike all of the other kids at school who made fun of him. He couldn’t get into or understand their jokes, or all the other social cues that others took for granted. The teachers were just as bad, because Thomas struggled with math. The teachers would laugh in his face whenever he got a question wrong. So to go to the land of Jungle Juice would be a great relief, to be away from his daily life. “In our land we have a special yellow patterned egg that is magical, and brings good luck to our people” said Dodo. “The elder of our tribe has been looking after it, but recently our village was attacked by the great big green dragon that lives in the Sand Mountain.
And he took the egg back to the mountain and has kept it there ever since, what I need you to do Thomas is help me retrieve it back to my tribe.” Thomas was excited by all this, “how are we going to get there?” asked Thomas. “If you close your eyes and repeat after me- “smaller, smaller.” replied Dodo. Thomas did as he was told and closed his eyes, and repeated, “smaller, smaller.” As Thomas was saying this he felt his body shrink, it was such an odd feeling, “now you can open your eyes” said Dodo. Thomas did just that to find that he was the same height as Dodo, and his whole room seemed like the land of the giants. “Come this way Thomas” said Dodo, leading him into a little hole in the skirting board. The type of hole that mice come out of, when they come into a house. They entered the hole, and once inside it looked like they were entering a cave. The cave was the colour of sand, and the ground beneath their feet was black gravel. All of this felt unreal to Thomas, only the kind of things he read about in books or saw in fantasy cartoons on the television. The path suddenly started to become narrow, “we are now going to climb out of this cave” said Dodo. “Please don’t be worried or anxious Thomas, you’re safe with me”. Thomas found Dodo’s words reassuring; it was as if he knew the sort of things, which bothered him. They found themselves climbing up the narrow path, and as they did this the roof of the cave was becoming smaller. So it was only a few inches above their heads, Thomas tried to keep very calm even though it was claustrophobic. Bits of debris from the cave were coming down on Thomas and Dodo’s head, as they continued climbing. But a hole appeared just in time before the debris got worse, Dodo pushed himself first out of the hole then he offered his hand to Thomas. Thomas took his hand, and heaved himself out of the hole. “May I?” said Dodo motioning strokes across his head, Thomas was puzzled by this. Dodo seeing this said “You’ve got some of the debris from the cave on your head, may I help you to remove it?” Thomas looked uncomfortable down to the ground, as he didn’t like people touching him. But at the same time something inside made him feel that maybe Dodo’s touch could be bearable, so he nodded his head to say yes. Dodo very gently brushed off the debris with his finger tips, the touch actually wasn’t too traumatic as Thomas thought it might be. “Come on then lets go” said Dodo. It was now that Thomas paid attention to where they actually were. They were on top of a mountain looking down on a great big jungle, the sky was cloudy and looked like it was going to rain. “Welcome to Jungle Juice” said Dodo smiling and holding his hands out, Thomas could smell the jungle strongly.
That mixture of animals, burnt fire and damp air, which was a sign that it was definitely going to pour down. “Come Thomas we can’t hang around, or the dark knights will hunt us down”, Dodo said motioning for Thomas to follow him. “Hang on, you haven’t mentioned these dark knights to me before, said Thomas suddenly feeling very frightened. “I didn’t want you to be put off coming to my land, said Dodo.” Once we have the egg then knights will no longer hunt us, they belong to the dragon”. “Once we have destroyed him, then they will also be destroyed, said Dodo.” Thomas still felt very anxious, and Dodo could see it in his face, “we’ll hide as soon as we see them” he said. Thomas smiled, feeling assured instantly. He followed Dodo down the mountain and into the jungle, as it started to rain lightly. Luckily the overhanging trees protected them from the rain, as they made their way through the jungle. The trees in the jungle were dark green with shades of yellow, and bugs crawled and ate on them. They saw some Black Cats walking about minding their own business, and a few monkeys climbing up the trees. Before Thomas knew it they were out of the jungle, “that was a very short jungle” he said. “Yes it is, the Indians are nearby so I’ll have to call the big Yellow Mellow.” “Who’s Yellow Mellow?” asked Thomas. “He’s my friend, he’s a bird, and he’ll take us to the mountain where the dragon lives” said Dodo. He suddenly made a whistling sound that pierced Thomas’s ears so badly, he covered them. Once Dodo stopped he turned to Thomas and said, “I know the noise hurts your ears but if the Indians see us trespassing on their land then we’ll be in trouble”. “Are they dangerous?” asked Thomas. “No but they’ll chase us. A long time ago Indians had their land taken off them by us cavemen.” “But why would you want their land?” replied Thomas. “Because we were greedy, but the Indians had been in our land for generations.” “Well you mustn’t take anything that dosen’t belong to you,” said Thomas. Suddenly a flapping noise was nearby, Dodo turned round and with a cry said “Yellow Mellow, you’re here”. Thomas could feel the wind in his hair, so he turned round to be faced by a big yellow bird, who looked so friendly and gentle. Thomas immediately trusted the bird, even more when Dodo said “come and climb up.” Yellow Mellow stooped down for them to climb on him, he felt lovely and warm and Thomas snuggled up to him. “Ready Thomas hold tight, were going up in the air” said Dodo. “O.K” said Thomas. He found himself being gently lifted up in the air, before he knew it they were flying over the fields leading out from the jungle. They passed the teepee’s and the Indians dancing around the fires, and towards the river leading out to the sea. They flew over the clear blue sea, and Thomas loved feeling the breeze on his face. “Doesn’t this make a change from those nasty bullies at school” said Dodo. Thomas froze, how come Dodo knew about his problems at school. “How do you know about school?” he asked, “All the time I’ve been a model in your bedroom, I’ve seen how unhappy you’ve been, heard your mum coming into your room to comfort you when you’ve had a bad day.” “That’s why I wanted to take you on a little adventure with me, to take you away from the upsetting encounters with the kids at school” said Dodo. Thomas couldn’t believe his ears; this was somebody apart from his parents who cared for his well being. Suddenly Yellow Mellow seemed to be losing his will to carry on flying, the next minute they found themselves in the ocean. As Thomas hit the water all could see was blue water clear, with the bubbles coming from him. He was terrified; he couldn’t swim and didn’t know what to do. The swimming lessons he had at school where always an ordeal for him, as the swimming teacher was always getting him to duck his head into the water. Something that frightened Thomas, as he was afraid of drowning and getting the chlorine in his eyes. And of course the teacher was less than sympathetic saying “Come on don’t be such a wimp, get your head in that water”, and when Thomas made any attempt he’d be laughed at by the pupils present. Suddenly out of nowhere arms grabbed him, and a giant long green and blue tail appeared. Then a woman’s head and body, this made Thomas shrink back in fear. He realized that it was a mermaid, she had pale skin and golden hair.
Another arm grabbed him and a merman appeared with short gold hair, only with a green tail instead. Thomas felt himself being pushed upwards to break through the surface, once the mer-people did this he felt better. They too broke to the surface with him, and smiled with their hair plastered to their heads. Somehow they didn’t look as scary as they did beneath the water that was because all Thomas could see was the top halves of their bodies. Thomas loved the strong smell of the sea, just like when he went to the beach with parents only this smell was more pungent. The Mermaid and Merman gently guided Thomas to an island nearby, they did this by each holding one of his hands. All the while Thomas’s head was above water, which he much preferred to being under water. Dolphins swam past them, one even stopped to make a noise to the mer-people, “he is saying hello to us”, said the merman to Thomas. The mer-people stroked the Dolphin, which Thomas did also. The Dolphin felt all rubbery and wet, Thomas had always liked the sound of Dolphins. They were known as gentle creatures, who had saved humans from drowning. So to Thomas it was an honor to have encountered a Dolphin, as he waved to it when it swam on. The warm feel of the waves from the sun, soothed Thomas. The Mer-people were still gently guiding him along, he could hear the swish of their tail behind him. When they reached the island , they helped Thomas onto a rock. When he was safely on it he looked behind him, to see the mer-people still in the water waving him goodbye. Thomas waved to them as they leapt into the sea, the colours of their tails shining in the sunlight. “Thomas, Thomas over here”, he turned round to be met by Dodo waving at him. He walked up to Dodo, “I knew the mer-people would look after you” said Dodo. “They are good creatures, and help many of the fishermen in my tribe, who are prone to getting lost whilst fishing in rough seas. They bring them back to the shore safe and sound, that’s decency for you,” said Dodo. “They were very kind to me, although when I first saw them I felt a little afraid” said Thomas. “What was it that frightened you Thomas?” asked Dodo. “I think it was the fact that they’re half human half fish, and their tails are so huge” replied Thomas. “You know the old saying, don’t judge others by their appearance” said Dodo. “Come on my friend, were in luck as the mer-people have brought us to the island were the dragon lives.” “How did you get to this island safely?” asked Thomas to Dodo, “a dolphin rescued me” he replied. “Wow, it must have been the Dolphin who passed by me, when the mer-people were swimming with me to this island” said Thomas. “I’m sure it was, as I got to the island before you,” said Dodo. “Come on Thomas we’ll have to get moving, if we are to retrieve the egg,” he said starting to walk ahead. Thomas followed on as quickly as he could, to catch up with Dodo. Once they had come to the end of sand, they then found themselves in a forrest. The forrest was dark all of a sudden, and it gave Thomas the creeps. Twigs were cracking under their feet as they made their way through; the strong smell of burnt fires came strongly to Thomas’s nose. “It looks as if the Dark Knights have been passed here, by the look of it” said Dodo. This made the creepiness of the forrest much worse for Thomas, as he had visions of the Dark Knights suddenly appearing. But his anxiety waned as Dodo began to ask him about his life and school, which put Thomas at ease. He talked about his favourite subjects at school which were English, History, Geography and Religious Education. He loved learning about the different beliefs of the world, he considered the Protestant religion that he’d been brought up with quite boring compared to Buddhism, Sikhism etc. He loved the sound of Buddhism everything was peaceful, which is what Thomas longed for in his school life. The downside of English and Geography was the amount of oral work he had to do. Such as presentations in English in front of his class, and doing surveys for Geography. This really raised his anxiety levels, as his class had to ask the general public outside school what was their best area in Great Britain. Thomas was so anxious that his mum rang up the school, and explained how difficult it was for him to approach strangers. Luckily the headmaster took that on board, and Thomas didn’t have to do that part of Geography. Thomas was an avid reader, and told Dodo that in his world they have a famous writer by the name of William Shakespeare. Thomas said he had a lot of his plays, and also had read the work of another famous writer Charles Dickens. Dodo was amazed by Charles Dickens, and he wiped a tear from his eye when Thomas told him the story of Oliver Twist. “I don’t understand how anybody can be cruel to a person” said Dodo, “I know” replied Thomas. “But in Charles Dickens day children who were orphaned had no choice but to go into the workhouse, is was just the way it was”. “People in your world don’t behave like that now do they?” asked Dodo, “No certainly not” said Thomas. Dodo then talked about his life in Jungle Juice, climbing the trees as a child looking for coconuts to eat. Swimming with the Dolphins in the sea, and visiting the caves that the Mer-people frequented. He would sit next to a mermaid, and share a lobster with her for his lunch. But when his mother called him, he knew he’d have to be home right away or she would be very cross with him. Thomas was so in the midst of talking with Dodo, that he had forgotten all about the dark knights. But sadly these knights weren’t too far away, the noise of hoofs suddenly came out of the distance. “Quick hide” Dodo said, so Thomas jumped into the nearest bush across the path. Dodo also hid in another bush as well, Thomas’s heart was beating so fast he could hear it. The hoofs drew nearer, and its then that they came into view circling the bush that Thomas hid in. Thomas’es heart was hammering in his chest, he could hear the deafinening sound of the horse neighing. The noise terrified him, then the knight just rode ahead. It was awhile before Dodo said “We can come out now”. “Could the knight sense that we were hiding?” asked Thomas, “maybe” replied Dodo. “All we can do is carry on to the mountain which is quite near now, and dodge those knights”. They carried on walking through the forest, and true to Dodo’s word it wasn’t long before they came out of it. It was then that they found themselves in a dark no-man’s land, all rock and flat land. Thomas found it very strange, after coming out of the leafy forest, to be faced with a long dark path leading to the mountain ahead. The air was still and muggy, there was a strong smell of peat and fire. Thomas could feel the rocks as he stumbled beneath his feet, suddenly he heard hoofs behind him.
The knights came from all directions to stop Thomas and Dodo getting to the mountain, “hold my hand” said Dodo. “What, we should be running shouldn’t we” replied Thomas. “Trust me just stand still and hold my hand” said Dodo. Thomas did this and found himself leaping into the air, right over the dark knights. Dodo was with him, and when they landed on the floor they were right in front of the mountain. “God you’re full of surprises” said Thomas with a look of amazement on his face. “Yes I am” said Dodo, “I have my powers when needs be”. As they entered the mountain Dodo continued “my tribe has special powers, that in needs be we can remove ourselves from a dangerous situation”. The mountain was lit by candles along the walls; there were lots of bones on the floor. This made Thomas uneasy, as he knew that they were going to face the creature that ate all these victims. The turned a corner and found themselves in a giant room, in one corner a giant pyramid of bones were stacked up. “Where do you think the dragon is Dodo? Thomas asked, “I don’t know about you but I can smell smoothing strong”. “He’s nearby isn’t he, that’s what the smell is” said Thomas. Suddenly panic hit Thomas as he realized they had no weapons to kill the dragon with, but when he turned round to tell Dodo of his fears he was handed a sword. Thomas couldn’t believe his eyes, how Dodo could suddenly produce two swords for them both. But their again nothing surprised Thomas anymore about what Dodo could do, but despite this he felt he’d found a friend in Dodo. “Come on let’s face the dragon” said Dodo, together they entered the room where the unpleasant smell was coming from. They both were met by a sight that was huge and frightening; the dragon was chewing some bones unaware that they had entered the room. The dragon was sitting on the ground, all black with giant wings, licking the bones. Dodo tiptoed to the side of the room ever so slowly, Thomas did exactly the same. They both tiptoed even closer towards the back of the dragon, as it carried on eating the bones. Thomas’s could feel his heart beating faster and faster as they approached the dragon, the bright green stripes on its back frightened Thomas even more. Dodo who was in front suddenly lunged his sword into the dragon’s back, the scream that came from the dragon was horrendous. The sound was so piercing Thomas felt physically sick, he ran and hid behind a rock. He felt bad doing this, as poor Dodo was on his own perched on top of the dragon, as it jumped from side to side. There was blood pouring from where Dodo had stabbed it, and fire was coming from its mouth. Thomas knew he had to help Dodo defeat the dragon, despite the loud noise coming from it. So he leapt out from the rock with his sword, and ran towards the dragon and leapt on its back. The dragon turned its head round and stared wildly at Thomas, with its mad green eyes. Thomas threw his sword, which landed inside the dragons eye, the dragon roared in pain. It suddenly flopped down on the floor, it was in so much agony. Blood squirted out of its eye, Thomas felt awful hurting the dragon even though to retrieve the egg it needed to be done. As the dragon slowly died Dodo climbed down its back, with a big smile on his face. “We’ve done it Thomas , we’ve done it, we’ve killed the dragon. Now we need to go next door and retrieve the egg, come follow me. Thomas followed still feeling guilty inside, as they entered the next room, the egg which was the size of a human hand lay simply on the floor. It was coloured just like eggs you get to cook with, thought Thomas to himself. Dodo picked up the egg and they both made their way out of the mountain, they heard wild screams. Dodo reassured Thomas that this was the black knights dying as they had no power left, their bodies would fade away into the ground. Thomas felt relived as the knights had given him the creeps, Dodo then led him outside the mountain. Thomas was so happy to be out in the fresh air, although the odour of the smoke from the dead dragon that followed them was quite strong. But eventually as they walked along the path leading down, the smell became faint. Suddenly to Thomas the whole sky and air seemed so clear, and everywhere was the colour of sand. It was as if all the darkness had faded away, and in had come light. “I’m going to call Yellow Mellow, to give us a ride to my home in the jungle” said Dodo. So he started to whistle through his fingers, “sorry about this Thomas I know its going to hurt your ears”. “That alright Dodo” Thomas said trying not to wince too much. They both looked up to the clouds, and it was a few minutes before “Yellow Mellow” came into view. He flew down in graceful movements, and perched himself on the ground. Thomas and Dodo climbed onto Yellow Mellows back, Thomas loved the feel of the hair on his body that he snuggled into him. Yellow Mellow started to fly off very slowly at a gentle pace, so as not to startle Thomas. As they flew away from the mountain Thomas noticed that everything started to suddenly look green, the ground below that was so dull was now full of grass. The sky was sunny and bright, Thomas carried on looking down below. He noticed there were lots of flowers that had suddenly sprung up, roses, daffodils, freesias he was able to see them so clearly considering they was how many feet up in the air. “You see Thomas now we retrieved the egg, this part of my world is sunny again” said Dodo. “Where are we going to now?” asked Thomas, “My tribe is awaiting us for a feast to celebrate.” Thomas felt a little uneasy about this as socializing was very nerve wrecking for him, especially when it was with strangers When they got nearer to the jungle, where they had come into Jungle Juice in the first place Thomas said “I can’t do it Dodo, I’m nervous about meeting all those people in your tribe.” Dodo looked behind at Thomas and said “But Thomas all my tribe know you have difficulty socializing”, “do they?” asked Thomas. “They know you have this difference called Asperger Syndrome, they won’t expect you to be chatting away to them believe me”. Thomas felt slightly relieved by this, as they flew gently inside the jungle. They were welcomed by all the tribe waving them into place where Yellow Mellow landed, all the tribe just looked the image of Dodo Thomas thought. Throughout the celebration Thomas was introduced to tribe members one by one, as Dodo didn’t want him to be overwhelmed. And none of the tribe forced conversation onto Thomas, they let him speak once he felt comfortable to. There was a big table with lots of fruit, cheese and meats all laid on, Thomas loved tucking into the watermelons, the cheese and pears rounded off with orange juice. Afterwards feeling comfortable he joined in the dancing, which the tribe was performing. It seemed very much like Scottish dancing to Thomas, as one of the tribe was playing an instrument that looked like some bagpipes. The egg that they retrieved was in its pride of place inside the tribe leaders straw house. Thomas found that after awhile he was able to talk to some of the tribe, who told how proud they were of him and Dodo. And that he would always be welcome in Jungle Juice, it made Thomas finally feel that he had some friends. When it started to go dark everybody sat around the fire, and drank some hot chocolate. As Thomas sipped the hot chocolate he found it soothed him and made him sleepy, after a while he lay down and fell asleep. In his sleep he was falling down the tunnel that led himself and Dodo to Jungle Juice, he awoke with a start to find he was in his own bedroom at home. Thomas looked and got up off his bed groggily, and feeling disappointed as he was back to his normally dreary life. The life of being bullied at school, and the struggle to communicate with people and no friends. At least he had friends in Jungle Juice, but that had been a dream he said to himself. He looked over at his clock to see that it was five 0’ clock, he could hear his mum calling him “Thomas dinner’s ready”. As he headed to his door he saw the little figure of Dodo on his desk next to his PC, he stopped to look at him briefly. The figure of Dodo winked at him, and with a smile Thomas knew that they’d be more adventures to come.
By Siobhan Donnelly