Poison Problems

2nd in the 'Play On Words 2021' competition

Jing gasped as she realised she had won the award to go to The Poison Jungle with Judy Blume, Jing’s science teacher and also a botanist. Jing dashed down flights of stairs to Judy’s midnight blue Toyota. Judy’s glistening blond hair sparkled in the morning sun as she welcomed Jing. Jing cheered goodbye to her parents, Judy revved the engine and they were gone.

The car skidded to a halt as they reached their destination. The pair tumbled out of the car and entered the world of nature. Soon the chatter of monkeys, the chirp of birds and the sound of thousands more animals filled their ears.

Jing and Judy meandered on, stopping to point at a coral plant with petals like tongues of fire. A delicious smell wafted off it and Judy explained that it was the flower of flames. Jing’s dark lime t-shirt and aqua shorts resembled someone who loved nature and she certainly did as most 8-year-olds. Jing paused every 2 steps to marvel at herbs, not noticing Judy had already moved on … without her...

Jing didn’t know how long she had gazed at a violet blossom, but when she turned around, the eerie noises of the jungle were louder than ever. Jing laughed, expecting Judy hiding somewhere. “Judy”, she called, bracing herself for the “Boo” she felt sure was going to come. But she then realized the horrible truth that she was lost. She decided to sit by a shrub and wait.

CRUNCH! SLUURP! MUNCH! Jing woke up with a start. She had dozed off while thinking of home. Was that what she heard? CRUNCH! Yes! She was sure of it. Jing drew in her breath and her eyes widened as full as glass balls because she realized it was a venomous carnivorous caterpillar, and she seemed to be its prey…

Jing sprinted off, aware of the constant thudding behind her. She started to wheeze and her chest hurt. She had mild asthma but she kept on going. OH NO! She backstepped quickly, in front of some deadly roots. They were leaning in as if they were whispering “Yum yum!” She glanced behind her. The caterpillar was thumping its way towards her, and on its face, there was something like triumph. Jing’s eyes anxiously darted around. There! She hurried to a towering tree and scrambled up.

Jing scanned the undergrowth below her, she noticed a small figure scuttling around. “Judy?” she called frantically, waving her tiny arms about. The shadow below peered up. With a cry of delight, Jing hopped off the magnificent oak to embrace the smiling teacher.

Judy explained that the jungle was not dangerous really, it was well maintained. But still the child was required to follow the teacher. Jing was intensely relieved although still thinking about the caterpillar. When they were safely on the car, Judy asked “Jing, would you like to go again?” Jing shook her head furiously, “Thank you Ms Blume, but I do not like caterpillars”.



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