A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

A primeval monkey meets the 21st century


Chowchow, come outside into the garden with me,” urged Sally to the monkey, who was curled up and shivering, scared out of his wits by the fact that when he looked around he couldn’t recognise one single thing. Not even the manicured lawn with its familiar green was really like any patch of weeds he’d seen at his home. Grass there was coarse and scruffy, not neatly mowed like that outside the room where he was shivering with fear. But at least it was green. At least it shared its colour with the primeval world he loved.

He couldn’t really understand the sounds, the words, that Sally was uttering, but at least he could empathise with the tone of her voice, and he snuggled up to her, then let her take him by one hand.

Be careful, Sally,” urged Mrs Hampton, “he might not understand things.”

She led Chowchow outside, opening the French Windows for a moment so that he could see what they were, and then, softly and slowly and leading the way, she took him outside.

He sniffed. The air was all wrong. It smelled, of course it did, all air smells of something, but this air didn’t smell of the luscious green stuff growing in profusion between the clumps of trees. It certainly didn’t have the subtle fragrances of flowers and fruits that were all part of his world, neither was there the added delicate unpleasantness of feculent decay.

He sniffed again, and sneezed. Everything was wrong.

Then he turned to look at the house he’d just stepped out of and what he saw sent him back to a gibbering fit of frightened chatter.

He’d walked out of that house (he didn’t call it a house because he had no concept of houses or what they might be), and because he’d left it he must have been inside it. He thought for a moment of small rodents swallowed by the mammoths that sometimes made their unwieldy way along well-worn forest paths, and imagined the tiny creatures scurrying about in the murky depths of such gigantic beasts, unable to escape. Had he been akin to a rat inside a mammoth? Was that huge edifice alive and had it started to consume him?

Then his ears pricked up, full of fear of the unknown as a rumble in the skies started to come towards him. It sounded like, could it be, a herd of hippos plundering through the forest, smashing everything in their way as they battled their way towards freedom. And freedom from what? Something worse? Something big enough to terrify a hippopotamus? Even a herd of the creatures?

And the rumble was getting louder.

His eye caught it first. It was in the skies, in the heavens, and it was flying, unsupported.

There were birds in his forest, small feathered things that were unpleasant to eat, all those dry feathers and not much else. But their range was the skies, and even the larger birds kept well away from the patches of forest where his tribe had their nests. And yet not one of them looked anything like the huge beast that was beating its way towards him.

That was enough. Quite enough. He spied an apple tree in the corner of the garden, and pulled away from Sally, racing up to it and seeking refuge amongst its sparse autumn foliage. It was either that or the great whirring bird would get him.

It’s all right, Chowchow,” called Sally, using words that meant absolutely nothing to him, “it’s only a helicopter. It’s the air ambulance and they keep it parked not far from here. You’re perfectly safe.”

The air ambulance was low and made the world tremble as it passed by, not so high in the skies, and nothing like a great eagle or other fearsome bird of prey. But he could feel the wind of it, the most dreadful thing he had ever felt in a life that was dominated by caution and fear.

He shivered as he hugged the apple tree to him, hating the noise yet suddenly alerted by the sweetest smell in the world, apples, not so many because most had been harvested, but enough to mask the awful sterility of the air he was breathing.

For a moment he forget the helicopter, but only for a moment. Things like helicopters are never that easily forgotten.

Yet it slowly moved away, its roar lessened, the air became still again. But he was far from happy. This, he knew instinctively, was the sort of place a monkey like himself should get away from, and as soon as possible. It was dangerous and not even he could imagine what worse things lurked in its weird depths. He needed to find home, his home, the forest, the familiar world that he loved.

The apple tree where he was sheltering was at the bottom of a modest garden and not so far beyond it was a brick wall separating the garden they were in with that of a neighbour.

He saw that garden, and he saw that the house (he didn’t, of course, think of it as a house) looked as if it wasn’t likely to gobble anyone up, so, without another thought or attempt at explaining his intention to the Sally girl, he edged along a creaking branch of his tree and he dropped into the next door’s garden.

No, Chowchow!” called Sally, distressed. She knew her friend the monkey would be totally lost if he found his way into a street where cars and goodness knows what would be hurtling along, all ready to kill him if he put one foot in their way.

But Chowchow didn’t know that.

All he knew was there was nothing more frightening than the place where Sally was standing and he needed to get as far from there as he possibly could. So, furtively, he edged, thankfully unseen, along the garden fence towards the unknown house, and along a pathway to its front garden where there was a delicious smell of lavender ready to soothe all of his fears away.

Chowchow was on his way back to the forest.

© Peter Rogerson 18.11.19

© 2019 Peter Rogerson

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Added on November 18, 2019
Last Updated on November 18, 2019
Tags: garden, lawns, apples apple tree, house, huge


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 80 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..