Some people say that if you wander through the forest long enough, you’ll find something you didn’t want to find. To some it’s a rotting animal, or a poisonous plant, or a predator. To some it’s a whole other world. Now, Snufkin agreed with the sentiment. He knew all too well that a walk through the forest could lead to just about anything. But he didn’t believe in other worlds. He had seen just about everything, and he had found no evidence that such a place existed. He had heard stories, but there were stories about any and every thing. The forest was a gateway to many things, but another world wasn’t one of those things, as far as he was concerned. That was one of the reasons he didn’t have any problems exploring the forests, nor did he have any problem sharing the forest with his more innocent friends.
At the moment, he and Moomin were off trying to find an adventure in the forest of Moomin Valley. They had been up since very early in the morning to go off just the two of them, but they had yet to find anything. They were going quite deep into the forest, and if it weren’t for the Lonely Mountains, they might have been lost. Even if they did get lost, Snufkin knew how to find his way again with nothing on him. Snufkin was walking briskly, but Moomin was lagging behind, picking up interesting leaves that he found. Tomorrow was their last day together before Snufkin left for the winter, so they would be spending the next two days very close together.
“If only we could find some adventure…” Snufkin muttered to himself. Moomin perked up at his friend’s voice, but decided that it probably wasn’t meant for him to hear anyway. They continued on for a while, until something caught Moomin’s eye.
“Snufkin, look!” He called, reaching out to take Snufkin’s hand. He pulled Snufkin away from the direction they had been going in, over closer towards the mountains. Snufkin followed easily, and soon he spotted what Moomin had. “A ravine! I almost didn’t notice it.” Moomin said, letting go of Snufkin’s hand to have a closer look. “It drops almost straight down.” He said in awe, stepping away from the ravine again. Snufkin stepped forward to have a better look.
“Yes, and it is very deep. But, I think we could climb it, if you’d like. There are plenty of hand holds.” Snufkin said, stepping closer to the edge to look down into the ravine.
“I don’t know Snufkin….neither of us brought any rope, and it is a long way down.” Moomin said, ringing his hands together.
“Oh c’mon Moomin, where’s your sense of adventure? We wouldn’t have to go all the way to the bottom.” Snufkin said, taking another smaller step forward.
“No Snufkin, I don’t want to! Now, come away from the edge before you fall in!” Moomin said, a hint of fear in his voice. Snufkin sighed, but turned back around.
“Alright. It’s not like I can force you to climb. But, you don’t have to worry Moomin, I am capable of keeping my feet firm against almost anything.” Almost as if it had heard him, the rocks beneath his feet crumbled slightly. Snufkin’s eyes widened, and he carefully adjusted his footing. Moomin looked panicked and took a small step forward. “No, don’t. It’s dangerous Moomin.” Snufkin internally cursed himself for getting so close to the edge. Still, the rocks weren’t that damaged, he could easily get back to Moomin and solid ground. “Don’t panic Moomin, I’ll be fine.”
He took another tiny step forward, but that only made the rocks crumble more. He realized that he would have to jump if he was going to make it across. He glanced up at Moomin, whose eyes were wide with fear. “Moomin, be prepared to catch me. I hope you won’t have to.” Moomin braced himself and held his arms out. Snufkin took one more step as a means of leverage and jumped. But that last step proved his undoing.
The rocks around his feet completely crumpled under his weight. Snufkin did manage to jump, but more upwards than forwards. Moomin stepped forward to try and catch him, and their fingertips brushed, but there was nothing he could really do. Snufkin felt as though he were falling in slow motion as he watched Moomin get smaller and smaller above him. He heard his friend screaming, but didn’t have the time to do so himself before he hit his head against something.
From there, it was dark for a very long time.
Snufkin groaned as he slowly sat up. His head hurt something awful and his leg felt stiff. He looked around and realized he was lying in a ditch. He slowly stood up, looking at all the forest stretched out for him. He didn’t recognize where he was. Had he left Moomin Valley? Was he somewhere beyond the mountains? Had he been dreaming of exploring with Moomin? It didn’t feel like a dream. Besides, his head hurt like he had just hit it, and he didn’t have his pack or his tent or anything. The world around him was still in autumn, but something about it felt different. There was a sort of magical energy about this forest, something he hadn’t felt anywhere near Moomin Valley. In fact, it felt different from any other magic he had felt before. He pulled himself out of the ditch and found a small road.
“Well, it’s a place to start.” He thought, making his way down the path. The forest around him soon opened up into a clearing, and he spotted a school building in the middle of it. He stuck his tongue out, and considered making his way back into the forest, but something seemed to draw him to the little building. He took a few cautious steps forward, and then was almost run over by a small group of animals. He fell against the grass, but managed to catch himself. He stood up, brushing some of the grass off his behind.
“Sorry!” A voice called, and a small child ran up to him. He looked a little different than anyone Snufkin had ever seen, although not much. He didn’t have paws, and he had an odd nose. “Hello. I’m Greg!” He sounded so excited too, despite knowing nothing about Snufkin. A couple of animals wearing clothes came over and stood a little distance behind him. “Do you wanna play with us? We’re playing Two Old Cats!” Snufkin just stared for a minute, not sure what to do. After a moment or so Greg’s face soured. “You’re not here to go to school are you?”
“Of course not. School is pointless.” Snufkin said, waving a hand dismissively. He might not be sure what to do, but he does know that school is horrible. Greg’s face light up again, and he reached up to take Snufkin’s hand. He jerked away, but Greg didn’t seem to mind.
“C’mon! We’ve gotta find a couple of old cats to play!” Greg ran off and the animals followed him. Snufkin, unsure of what to do, trailed behind them at a slower pace. Wherever he was, it was a long way from Moomin Valley. But it seemed safe, so for now he’d roll with it.