Chapter 1 - Dilemma
It was an emergency call, Gregory was sure of it. He swiftly dropped down on to all eight legs and ran to the main web system. The others had heard it too. There was a rumble like thunder as a thousand bodies scrambled into position. Alert, they decoded the tapping as coming from Stan of the slug clan at Muncaster Head. At last his soft voice echoed through.
“We need some help,” he said.
Anita was so perturbed that she started spinning web frantically. The others had to restrain her so they could hear the rest of what Stan had to say.
Apparently the gardener’s grandchildren had picked up one of the clan’s boundary stones and put it in the gardener’s bucket. Without this boundary stone in place, they feared invasion from other slug clans and there wouldn’t be enough food to go around. The gardener had come along and picked up his bucket and gone on to his next place of work.
“And where is his next place of work?” asked Gregory.
“Parsnip Park,” replied Stan.
Anita was too young to know of Parsnip Park but was so alarmed by the expression on everyone’s faces that she immediately went into another spinning frenzy. A thousand gentle, long, jointed legs calmed her and disentangled her. Hoping to sooth Anita further, Gregory called for Ruth to speak to her in rhyme. Ruth rubbed two of her legs together in glee at the opportunity to perform. She had spent her youth in the rafters of a Village Hall, where she had witnessed many a Pantomime rehearsal and had developed the ability to speak in rhyme.
“Haven’t you heard of Parsnip Park?” she asked gently.
Anita shook her head.
“They say don’t go there after dark,” Ruth continued,
“As rabbits rush and crash about, raging as they scream and shout.”
Ruth could see she had Anita’s full attention, so she flowed on:
“They say courgettes have razor leaves
Which rip the gardener’s boots and sleeves
While garlic bulbs beneath his bench
Clench their cloves and cause a stench
At Parsnip Park, I’ve heard, is found
A garden gnome gone underground
Who trains the tendrils, if you please,
Of bully beans and killer peas
So make a visit if you dare
They say a giant rat lives there
And poisonous mushrooms grow in bark
Inside the gates of Parsnip Park.”
Anita’s eyes were round and wide.
“So how will the slug clan get their boundary stone back?” she cried.