The Timely Adventures of Rachel Evans: Singing Ke$ha to a Crow
April 19, 2013
Rachel grabbed Hunter, pulling him back out of the way as the horsemen drew to a halt, hemming them in against the trees. It was nerve-racking, staring up at men in helmets and chainmail. Rachel put it on her list of Things She’d Prefer Not To Experience Ever Again.
"What have we here?" One of them nudged his horse forward. "What are you two doing in the royal forest?"
"Uh, going for a walk?" Rachel offered.
Judging from the man’s expression, this was clearly an unacceptable answer. "Poachers, eh?"
"I happen to be a vegetarian," Hunter told him, grossly offended.
The guard ignored that, nodding to the other soldiers. "Take them."
Going by instinct, and every single medieval movie Rachel had ever seen, that didn’t sound good. Rachel gave Hunter a shove towards the trees, and then darted away in the opposite direction. She saw him disappear into a thicket before she ran on, branches catching at her hair and glasses. The soldiers gave chase, but they couldn’t follow very far into the trees. Rachel jumped over a log and rolled under it, heart thudding in her chest as she hid.
This was not what Rachel had in mind when she wanted to go traveling. Somewhere nice and civilized with Internet and coffee, and nobody trying to run you over with a horse. Was that too much to ask? The ground was cold and damp. Rachel pulled her hood over her head. Maybe it was all a bad dream.
Hooves sounded close by. Rachel lay still, pulling her hood down a fraction so she could listen.
"Captain, the girl escaped."
"We caught the boy at least. Take him to the sheriff; he’ll want to question him."
The boy. That was Hunter.
Rachel crawled out from under the log, but by the time she reached the road, there was nothing left of the riders, but dust. Nice. Not only had she lost her best friend, she had also managed to allow her younger brother to be arrested.
She decided to blame that one on Hunter, too. Swell going, Hunter. Nice one. Went and got yourself hauled off to see the sheriff of Nottingham. At least Rachel assumed it was the sheriff of Nottingham. That was the only relevant sheriff she could think of. She wondered if they’d get an Alan Rickman type. Was it wrong to hope for Alan Rickman to turn up while you were trying to rescue your little brother? If it was, Rachel decided she didn’t want to be right.
* * *
Rachel started following along the curve of the road, just inside the trees. The compass on her phone, which seemed to be working, told her she was heading south. From what Rachel remembered, Nottingham was south of Sherwood, so at least she was going in the right direction. It wasn’t the best of plans; it wasn’t the worst of plans. It was simply the only one she could think of.
After a while, the silence of the forest started to get to her. "No plans, no weapons, no PD. No coffee, no Hunter, AND NO LEIGH," Rachel exhaled sadly. "But at least I have my hoodie."
She looked up to see a crow watching her skeptically. "Not my best." It didn’t even rhyme technically.
The crow cawed at her. It sounded like an omen. Those were generally bad things in Rachel’s book.
"Keep your omens to yourself, yo." She kept going. "This is a fine kettle of fish/ the better to test your mettle, by a wish," Rachel stopped. "See, this is what no coffee does to me." She looked at the crow again. "I’m standing in a historical forest, rapping to myself about mettle and fishes."
The crow blinked at her.
"Yah, you don’t even know what mettle is, do you?"
"Caw," said the crow disdainfully. "Caw."
"Okay, fine, maybe you do." Rachel sank down under a tree. "But I could use some more of it."
She was tired. She was hungry. She was kinda cold in spite of her hoodie. She would kill for a cup of coffee, but most of all, she was worried about Leigh and Hunter. What if she never found them?
What if this wasn’t really Sherwood Forest, but a futuristic replica and they were being hunted by robots on a spaceship in some kind of horrible game?
What if this was just what life with no caffeine was like all the time, and everyone simply died of boredom and insanity?
What if there was no way back?
At that point, Rachel pinched her arm hard. Shut up, brain.
Eventually, she would find Leigh and together they would rescue Hunter, and then they would go home. There's no point in panicking at this stage. Rachel decided to save that for a later option when there was really nothing else she could do.
At least Sherwood was rather peaceful, in a devoid of human life sort of way. It wasn’t really the trip Rachel had planned, mind you, but it was somewhere different at least. On the other hand, if she had only wanted to stand around surrounded by trees, she could have always gone to the park.
Rachel kept walking and kept rapping. The crow kept following her, which showed it was either a creature of sophisticated intellect, or had simply never heard any noise like it before.
Either way it was nice not being completely alone.
Eventually Rachel gave up on rapping and just started singing Ke$ha to keep her spirits up.
An acorn bounced off her shoulder.
"Ow." Rachel looked around. "Did you do that?"
The crow just looked at her. "Caw."
"Okay." Rachel did a slow full turn, eying the trees around her. "If not you, who was it?"
Another acorn hit her thigh.
"Hey." Rachel glared at the trees. "Come out and show yourself.'
The tree rustled, and then a lithe figure of a young man dropped neatly to the ground in front of her.
"I mean no offense. I just wanted you to stop singing."
Now that was just insulting.
To be continued...