Gnood does not know how old he is. He cannot remember when he was born, but then, who can? We all rely on being told by someone who had been around when it happened. Gnood does not know anyone who could tell him. Adults would shrug when he asked.
Occasionally someone would guess he might be around six years old, but they were not really sure because sometimes his countenance would reflect wisdom far beyond one would expect from a boy.
Long ago, he had noticed people growing older while he did not. In Gnood’s experience, children would not care about what he looked like as long as he played by the rules and did not challenge the leader. Adults were rather occupied with themselves and their peers than with children.
Still, when he entered into a new circle of adults, he would behave a bit awkward and helpless, pretend baby talk and look at them with round eyes. Gradually, he would change, and they had a sense of him growing.
It all depended on how much someone would care about him, but sooner or later he would sense their eyes resting upon him pensively, some were curious, some nervous or suspicious. At those times, he would wander off, quietly. He came with nothing and left with nothing. This had happened often; he could not remember how often thus he knew much about travelling on a shoestring.
Arriving in a new town he would stroll through the markets; from experience he knew, not before long, his air of being lost would attract some woman’s attention, and she would take him home because he was cute and balanced in his demeanour.
Sometimes the women would have families, sometimes not. But either way, there was never any problem with keeping him, because soon after his arrival, harmony and happiness would enter, and the family was showered with prosperity and good fortune.
Generally, Gnood lives for the day and only keeps happy things in his memory. Thus, his past is happy, and since his life has been happy in the past, he trusts, it will continue happily into the future.
Gnood lives in a cardboard box, one of those sturdy large ones they deliver those tall fridges in. It is laying on its side, and he can crawl in and out easily. It smells sweet, feels firm but also velvety and cosy. The square shape and sharp lines make him feel safe.
When the sunlight floods the opening of the box, the tawny cardboard mildly reflects it, changing it into a mellow gold. Gnood loves sitting in the soft, gentle glow at the rear end of the box looking towards the opening.
The sun cast a straight shape on the inside walls; he watches the lit up area move, sometimes it shines more on the right, sometimes more on the bottom and sometimes more on the left.
Whenever his eyes are open, there is sunlight, at times he closes his eyes and moves inside himself, but when he opens his eyes again, the sunlight is always there.
Karl is tall and strong. Gnood does not know where Karl lives, but they often meet when Gnood feels like exploring and crawls outside his box. Karl owns a bicycle, and when he dashes down the hill, his long red hair flies like flames of a stirred up fire in a furnace. Gnood’s hair is blond, almost white and curly with ringlets falling over his ears.
Karl wears blue flapping trousers held up by a leather belt, tied up because it is too long, a corn coloured shirt with some green pattern, rolled up sleeves, grimed white sneakers and no socks; his face looks content and has a tan.
Gnood likes Karl’s appearance and wishes he could look like him; however, he, Gnood, always wears white shorts with braces, a white short sleeved shirt, white socks and white shoes. He never gets dirty, like the other day when they were sliding down the grassy slope, or when they fixed Karl’s bike, not a spot was left on him.
Or when Gnood was too excited and could not wait until Karl had stopped the bicycle. He had jumped off, slipped and fell into a mud puddle. Not only was he not hurt, but also, to Karl’s amazement, there had not been the slightest faintest stain on his clothes nor his skin.
Karl lets Gnood ride on the centre bar. He always carries a piece of folded up cardboard on his luggage rack, and he wraps it around the bar for Gnood to sit more comfortably. Karl has to paddle with his legs wide apart; this slows him down, but riding with Gnood is much fun.
Gnood holds onto the handle bar; his knuckles whiten from the strength of his grip, but he has learnt to keep his arms soft so as not to limit Karl’s steering.
They often travel through the open countryside, the hills, the meadows and the forest. Gnood loves to see things grow, mostly the trees, which make the wind, when they wave their branches and rustle their leaves, but also the flowers and the corn in the fields.
Gnood loves chatting about things on his mind and the things he sees, his flurry of thoughts scarcely interjected, when Karl replies with a warm groan, like a sleepy bear; he loves listening to Gnood and is happy and proud to have such a talkative friend.
During their times together Karl and Gnood often play throw and catch. Karl enjoys throwing things. He is a good thrower of all sorts of things, sticks and stones of all sizes and of balls of course. He can throw very fast, very far and very high, so high you often can’t see the thing anymore.
Gnood likes catching things, and he is incredibly good at it. Even fast and small things he catches with one hand, he uses two hands only when things are too big for one hand to hold. Since Karl can remember, Gnood never had dropped a thing.
It’s easy, because, when things fly or drop, Gnood slows them up and, casually, just grasps them. When things are bigger, such as cats and dogs, and try to scare him, he can feel their approach even from behind, and he slows them down too, and he can escape and find safety.
Gnood likes seeing the amazement on Karl’s face, and his cries of astonishment, after what he would call a “difficult catch”. Gnood thought everyone could slow things down to catch them more easily; therefore he never talked about it.
Consequently, Gnood is excellent in ping pong because he never misses a ball. He rather likes when people get all excited after winning a game, than seeing their behaviour when they lose. He can will the trajectory of the other player’s ball ever so slightly; then it still bounces off the table while it would have missed without his intervention.
But eventually, when people get tired, they make mistakes, which Gnood can not prevent without it being too obvious. But he always can make a few slips. He just loves them to win.
Types of Tall People
There are tall people. Some are friendly, who laugh and wave to Gnood and Karl when they pass on the bicycle. Some have sour faces, and they shake their heads over the couple’s joy and silliness.
Some are angry they shout at the two and even throw things at them. Karl laughs at the latter, dodges their thrown objects, always protecting Gnood and quickly accelerates his bicycle to move away from them.
The angry people are not only angry at the two friends but also towards other people, and they want to force everyone into doing things their way and gaining power over them. Those people make Gnood feel sad. He wishes to help them find the happiness he knows, but he can also see, there is something dark attached to them.
Feeling the Source of Bad
Inside himself, Gnood knows he must find the source of darkness, and Gnood has a strong sense of where to find it, but he does not tell Karl. Once he has found the origin of bad, he must touch it, and this touch would turn it around. He knew this deed could change him too and his friendship with Karl could be destroyed; or worse, it could mean his end.
He is scared, but at the same time he feels courageous and knows he will do it when the time comes. He had not told Karl about all this because he did not want Karl to worry before it was necessary and maybe it was not needed at all.
There was a magnetic attraction to the mount amongst the fields near the forest. The ground was too undulated there and scattered with rocks, and the farmers could not pull their ploughs through there.
Thus, an island of untouched vegetation had been left within a sea of fields. Huddled on the mount, a few old oaks bent deeply and curved by high winds, and winter ice only carried leaves on half of their branches.
There was a gap, where the trunk of one of the oaks had been split when struck by lightning. It was the disguised opening to the underground, the bad world.
Hide and Seek near the Mount
One day Gnood asks Karl to have a picnic near the mount. It is quite a drive but Karl likes long travels, he likes using his muscles and receiving the cheerful appreciations of his little friend, who was really no burden at all. Did he weigh anything? Karl has wondered sometimes, but he never mentioned his thought because he did not want to upset Gnood.
Gnood suggests they play hide and seek. Initially, he allows Karl to discover him quickly, but the longer they play Gnood makes it harder for Karl to find him. Karl is patient and does not mind.
When it is his turn to hide, Gnood explores the crack in the old oak, the entrance to the bad world and search further and further down into the underworld. Sometimes he stays away for over an hour. When he lets himself be found, patient Karl is always happy to see him again.
Gnood has a strong sense of Karl’s whereabouts when it is his turn for hiding, and he errs around a bit on purpose to extend the game. However, when it is his turn, Gnood is back in the cave.
Gnood feels he was getting closer to the source of evil, but his progress is prevented by the bad people who dwelt underground. Initially, they are irritated by his whiteness and glow, but soon they tried to frighten him off. When he continues his struggle, entering deeper into the bad world, they attack and try to kill him.
Time for returning to the surface was long overdue. Karl never suspected any of such thing happening to Gnood, because whenever Karl ‘found’ Gnood he looked impeccably clean and cheerful as usual.
All this is very scary to Gnood, but there is a stronger force inside him, compels him to return and explore deeper and deeper into the underground world.
The Bad World
The world underground is a maze of corridors and chambers. Once one had squeezed through the narrow entrance, the path would open to a wide and high cave with tunnels leading off in all directions to confuse the uninvited or unsuspecting trespasser. Every now and then there would be a cloud of glowworms, and some squealing bats shooting around, shooed off by peoples’ approach.
The air is filled with a pungent smell, stinging the inside of your nose. It is oozed off by soil and darkness from the bats’ pooh and the decaying mud collected in the crevices and floor.
People with bad intentions had a sense for choosing the right tunnel, and it would take them deeper down into the earth where they would receive what they desire. Surely they are scared but tormented by eager anger and gnawing greed they are driven to continue climbing and crawling deeper down into the earth.
Gradually the air would get warm and humid, permeated with a sickly sweet putrid stench. The walls turn smooth and are bricked in or tiled, just like in the sewerage pipes of old cities. At most parts, they are overgrown with moss, and a stinking fluid runs at the bottom of the channel.
Short distances apart there are niches in the wall where bad things are hiding and if they sense the intention of those approaching is not evil enough they would leap out at them and scratch and bite them, and because there were many they would kill them almost all the time.
Red rope thick strands are suspended from one side of the pipe to the opposite. Covered with acidic gooey slime those strands would attach and wrap around anything that touches them, just like a cobweb. Beings of this underworld are all covered with thick layers of slime and can easily slip through the treacherous mesh.
People and creatures caught alive in the webs are kept for times when there is a lack of intruders. Many bodies dangled in the sticky ropes some still alive, some corpses in states of decay and some piled in heaps on the floor.
The Bad People
People are terrible because evil had taken possession of part of them. It can attack all of us, but in many, a firm enough conscience resides, and it supports them in their choice to repel evil. Once a person in the grip of evil, it needs a constant supply of more evil to sustain its presence; it is used up through doing bad, and over time, goodness would expel evil like the body clears a cold.
Mild doses of evil could be obtained from other more evil people, but because greed is one of their main habits, they would not share it even if there were plenty around.
Evil wants to grow and people who want to obtain more than a usual amount of evilness, have to go into the underground world and return there periodically; otherwise, the contamination would subside to an almost useless level. Consciousness could arise and refrain them from being bad.
Once people have absorbed larger amounts of evil, enough to allow them to use black magic, they could exist on the surface for a few hours only and eventually, they would realise their powers have no earthly benefit any longer. In vicious outrage, they only surface to spread fear, pain and evil.
Finally, they would have to stay in the underground maze, permanently. Too late they would understand all their accumulated power; even power for the sake of having power had no substance. They knew they could no longer return; their anger and frustration fuelled their evilness even stronger.
The more evil takes over their bodies and conscience, the closer they want to habituate towards the centre of the satanic maze where they would find the most power. They are always fighting amongst each other because the most central places are scarce. They would fight newcomers or anyone else for whatever reason. Fighting to kill, fighting to win over someone is their fierce pursuit.
Down in the dark lives Nevil; alone, since long ago. Alone, amongst all the vicious adult people who were selfish and nasty. Alone, amongst the ghosts who were cold and the savage monsters. Alone, but he does not know it because it has always been this way.
He looks just like Gnood, but he would not know, because there was no one to tell him, and in darkness, mirrors have no use. Most of the time he feels frightened, small, weak and defenceless. There was no one to talk to him, teach him, or tell him what to do. No one had ever seen him as a boy.
Down here, in this violent world he needed to be robust and scary, so they could not hurt him but fear his approach. Any looming attack, emanating anger or fear, instantly, before anyone could notice he was a boy, would turn Nevil into a ferocious creature.
But once those disturbing emotions subsided and he would be alone again, he would change back into a boy. Over time, he had learned, if he would focus a bit, he could remain a monster at will.
Nevil’s monster is not too big because the corridors in the labyrinth are not wide, but it is strong as an ogre, with long green slimy fur, long horns, a big mouth with teeth like rocks and long arms with paws and claws like daggers powerful enough to break trees like toothpicks.
When his roar echoes through the chambers and corridors and everyone baulks, and when he dashes through the tunnels they shrivel and hide in any corners. Even with his mind he could grab beings and things and smash them against walls when they did not comply with his command.
Does he know when he is hurting and sometimes even killing people through his furious actions? No. Nevil is the way he is. He does not know any different, he is himself. No one told him he is evil. No one ever told him, using his powers causes pain and death. Nevil has never felt pain, only brute force, anger and rage, and, very seldom… he feels lonely.
He does not grow up thus does not know about death. When he sees people not moving any longer, he thinks they are just sleeping for a long time. Sometimes they are eaten by other beings, and for him, there seems nothing wrong about this at all.
There are people trying to entice him to use his powers to their benefit. They please him, and he pleases them. Sometimes he teaches them some simple magic so that they can use it themselves and not bother him too often.
Those people are aware of the consequences of their actions. Some time ago they made the choice to move away from being good, to depart from the way of their upbringing and turned deaf to the pleas from their inner conscience. They do not want to listen any longer; they purposely discarded moral and ethics for the sake of having power over others. They are the real evil.
The Rabbit in the Red Blanket
One day Karl and Gnood are camping near the mount again. A rabbit crisscrosses frantically across a harvested field, and Karl tries to catch it for Gnood, even though he had begged him to leave the rabbit go. Karl runs after the rabbit and throws the red picnic rug over it.
The rabbit, half covered and even more scared runs madly towards the nearby mount, and in its despair, it jumps into the slit of the old oak tree, despite the fact that it does not know this hole. The ground falls away rapidly and topsy‑turvy, it rolls down the steep slope and gets all mangled in the red blanket into a tight ball, with just its legs sticking out.
Once it hits the ground, frenzied by fright and totally blind it runs and hops like a berserk, bouncing off walls and ceilings and any other obstacles in its way. Just running and running and running. The bad people underground did not stop the berserk ball in its course because they thought it was some evil magic and let it pass.
And why is it not entangled in the red cobweb? Going so fast, it bounces off the strands, and the fluff of his blanked sticks onto the gluey ropes and rips off the rug, therefore, the ropes could not hold it.
Eventually, the rabbit arrives in the central chamber, the home of Nevil, who is fascinated by the madly jumping ball. He wants to catch the erratically moving thing, but in the state of a boy, he is too slow. Therefore he changes into his monster being.
He darts after the red ball and effortlessly grabs it with his strong arms and claws. Unintentionally his claws penetrate the woollen material and pierce the rabbit badly, and it instantly petrifies.
Nevil inspects his new find and wants to play with it, but it does not move any longer. He wants to know what could be wrong with it and therefore he carries it to a part of his labyrinth where through a broken part in the wall bright light fell into the corridor. Squeezing through the narrow gap, he steps into a sunny landscape with rolling grassy slopes and a forest in the distance.
Nevil likes the red colour of the ball and its fluffy surface. Unfortunately, it does not bounce any longer by itself. He tosses it a few times and squeezes it but to no avail. Still, in his monster shape, he is very brawny, and his long claws cut through the fabric like daggers.
Some of the material comes loose and curiously he unrolls the blanket. Generally, bloodstains on his claws do not worry him, but this time it shocks him because he is handling something he likes. Quickly he changes back into the boy.
Carefully he continues unwrapping the blanket until he finally sees the rabbit. What a pitiful sight it is. The rabbit’s fur had been stripped off along the side of one leg, one of the toes on his right front leg is missing, and blood drips from its many wounds. The rabbit is unconscious but still breathing faintly.
In utter dismay, Nevil holds the limp body in his arms. He yearns for the small animal to live and have a playmate in him. If he had learned to cry he would have. As quick as he could he runs back into the barrow, changes back into the monster to be able to move faster, cradling the rabbit in his arms as gentle as he can. Shooting through the corridors of the labyrinth he arrives at its lowest parts, the home of the ghosts.
With his roaring voice he calls out for a doctor to appear immediately, and out of the slimy sediment on the floor raises a bluish black ghost. He wears a suit and tie, and glistening slime runs down over his slick black hair and face and the whole body. “Are you a doctor?” Nevil growls demandingly. “Yes,” returns the sombre reply.
Nevil hands the wounded rabbit to the ghost, who looks at it with some interest and curiosity. Due to his concern, Nevil had lost focus and unintentionally had turned back into the boy and asks with a shaky voice: “Is it dead? Tell me, it is not! Can you fix it? Can you? Tell me, can you fix it.” The ghost looks at him with some surprise; he had not seen the boy before. Surmising the situation he nods and says with confidence: “I can.”
Nevil jumps up and down with happiness. He has been touched by what Gnood wanted to touch him with, and he changes.
Gnood and Nevil
The part of Nevil’s maze, where the sun could shine through the crack in the wall, is just on the other side of the mount with the old bent oaks, the side, facing the forest. The entrance Gnood had been investigating was the one, one would look at when arriving from the valley.
Nevil walks around the mount with the magically healed rabbit hopping tamely next to him. And on the other side, he meets Gnood who is very surprised to see a young boy who looks just like him. Even more, he is astonished when he feels the pulling force, which had incited him to find the source of evil, growing and drawing him towards the boy. Now, he knows, touching Nevil would do him no harm but complete both or their transformations.
With a yell of excitement, they storm towards each other, and the of their vigorous embrace turns into a boisterous wrestle. They jump, tumble and fall in the grass, roll around with many giggles and laughter. When they stop from exhaustion, their white clothes showed many stains from grass and soil. They look at each other and burst out in laughter again. Their hair colour had turned brown.
Karl had watched it all but had no understanding of what had happened he stands there, his arms crossed over his chest and legs stiffly apart with a content grin on his face.
From underneath the ground, one could hear the screaming and wailing of the evil creatures had lost their source of existence. They dissolved in pain and agony.
And finally, there sounds a loud murmur coming from the bad ghosts, who know, they could rest in peace from now on, because they would never be called upon again.