“Igglepiggle, iggle onk, we’re going to catch…the Pinky Ponk.”
Derek Jacobi’s voice echoed around the garden and the slow drumming “honk…honk” sound of the Pinky Ponk filled the sky. I have been trapped in the Night Garden now for three days.
I’m still unaware of how I got here. I had gone to bed, it was a Friday night, and the next day I found myself lying on a patch of incredibly green grass, surrounded by tall trees, awoken by the booming voice of Derek Jacobi. On the first day I had kept myself hidden from view and watched from afar as Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka went about their duties, seemingly instructed by Derek Jacobi – who I have come to understand is some sort of overlord here.
Back then, I believed I had woken in a dream. But then I fell back to sleep, lying down with my back arched within the wedges of the stump of a tree. Surely if it had been a dream I would have woken up again in my own bed? Instead, I was again awoken by Derek Jacobi’s voice; the alarm clock of the Night Garden. I wondered if I have died and this is actually Limbo, my soul and body waiting to be taken away elsewhere. Typical that it would happen on a Friday night, not even allowing me to enjoy my one last weekend. But I felt alive, I could still feel things…there had to be another explanation.
On the second day, I began to realise the true horror of the Night Garden. I decided to walk stealthily around the Garden, not yet ready to approach the characters I had seen. I found some puddles, but couldn’t find any real water source. I struggled for food – the only way I could eat was by pulling leaves off branches and hoping that they tasted ok. The thirst was crippling. In the end, I went back to a puddle and risked it. I knelt by the side of the puddle and just cupped water in to my mouth. Remarkably, it tasted clean – like mineral water straight from a bottle. And then I saw one. A Pontipine.
It was so small, and looked like an old fashioned wooden toy. It’s pitch black eyes seemed to widen and suddenly it started rocking in an almost deranged fashion, squealing “mi-mi-mi” in a high pitched tone. It moved away from me quickly, now screaming “mi-mi-mi” at what must have been the top of it’s lungs, if it even had lungs. I darted across the garden, found what felt like a quiet area crowded heavily by trees and I hid. By now I could hear what sounded like numerous cries of “mi-mi-mi” coming from a number of different Pontipines. The “honk…honk” sound of the Pinky Ponk had begun to travel throughout the air, the jingle of Iggle Piggle became violently constant, Upsy Daisy was shouting her name louder than I’d heard her do so before, Makka Pakka was cycling around lifting and moving rocks as he went. They were looking for me. But why?
Then I heard a cry. This wasn’t one of the characters, I thought, it sounded human. I witnessed for the first time Iggle Piggle change in size. He was now gigantic. He pointed over to the other side of the garden, sounded a couple of squeaks, and suddenly all the characters gathered together looking in to the trees. The cry had turned to screaming. I could hear a male voice screaming “Get off me!” but I couldn’t see anybody. The Night Garden characters stood motionless, Iggle Piggle still standing above everybody else, pointing at the trees. “Who do we have here?” came the voice of Derek Jacobi. “It’s the Tombliboos!”
Three Tombliboos came from the trees; Tombliboo-Unn, Tombliboo-Ooo and Tombliboo-Eee. Tombliboo’s Unn and Ooo were carrying a man, Unn holding his arms and Ooo holding his legs, with Tombliboo-Eee skipping ahead of them. The man was thrown in front of Iggle Piggle. The other characters circled around him. He wasn’t screaming anymore, but he was sobbing and he looked terrified. I had no idea what was happening. Iggle Piggle pointed to the trees and five gargantuan inflatable looking shapes slowly appeared. It was the HaaHoos.
Derek Jacobi’s voice sounded, “Igglepiggle, iggle onk, we’re going to catch…you.”
The Night Garden characters moved in on the man and started to smother him. The screams from the man were deafening, and then a loud cracking noise followed by silence. I could see blood splattering in to the air. The HaaHoos started making a boinging noise, and the three Tombliboo’s took tippee-cups full of blood over to them. Going to each HaaHoo, the Tombliboos placed their tippee-cups to their inflatable figures, blood draining from each cup with each HaaHoo growing in size. The Pinky Ponk flew back over the Garden back in to the trees. A weird looking train, the Ninky Nonk, came through the bushes. Makka Pakka shrunk in size and got on, leaving the rest of the group in the Garden.
Five minutes passed. The HaaHoos began to move back in to the trees. Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy, the Tombliboos and the ten Pontipines all stood in a line. The bright green grass was now painted in blood, there was blood spattered all over the faces and bodies of the Night Garden characters, but there was no body on the floor. The man was no more. Makka Pakka cycled back in to the Garden on his trolley called the Og-Pog, clean from any blood. Makka Pakka grabbed the sponge from the front of the Og-Pog and started to clean all the characters and the floor. Within minutes the blood was all gone, as if nothing had happened. The characters started to dance together.
The Pinky Ponk honked it’s horn, and the characters started to disperse to their own separate areas. All of them, except Iggle Piggle.
“Wait a minute…somebody’s not in bed!” The voice of Derek Jacobi exclaimed, “Who’s Not In bed?”
I panicked. Had I been seen?
“Iggle Piggle’s not in bed!” I sighed a breath of relief. “Don’t worry Iggle Piggle. It’s time to go.” Iggle Piggle skipped to a carousel in the centre of the Garden and lay down to sleep. A tune that seemed to follow Iggle Piggle sounded in the air, the sky turned dark. Night time had come and I knew I had been lucky. I had survived a second day, despite my encounter with a Pontipine, but I knew this encounter put me at risk. They knew I was in the Garden. I had to learn to survive. I needed to find a way out.
So here we are at day number three. I have barely slept…the sound of the other man’s screams were haunting me and I had so many questions. Were there other people in the Garden? How does Iggle Piggle change size? Why did they kill that man? Why were the HaaHoos fed blood? Will the Pontipine try to find me again?
I decided that the only way out was to walk further in to the trees. I’d have to be quiet, I knew that I couldn’t risk being heard and I had no idea where the Tombliboo’s were hiding. Surely I could do this. I set off just before the sun started to rise. Ahead of me were just tall trees, and bushes in full bloom. This place was Hell, but it was an idyllic Hell.
I came to a start as a song played through the trees. It sounded like a nursery rhyme coming from the distance but then, loud and clear, Derek Jacobi’s voice sounded; “But someone I know is safe and snug, and they’re drifting off to sleep.”
Then silence. Something felt off. There was no breeze, no music, no sound. I could hear myself breathing; in…out…in. I was standing still, just waiting for any noise, listening.
“This is the way to the Garden in the Night.” Jacobi’s voice felt closer somehow and it made me jump. My heart started pacing.
“Igglepiggle, iggle onk, we’re going to catch…” I needed to hear the next word, would it be the Pinky Ponk or the Ninky Nonk?
It was neither. From behind the trees small wooden characters in blue appeared. Ten of them all turned their heads to me; their eyes as black as the Pontipines. But these weren’t Pontipines…who were they? “Who’s over here?” Derek Jacobi’s voice asked. “It’s the Wottingers.” And just like that, they started to make farting noises. The Garden started to rumble. I began to run.
I could hear the Pinky Ponk in the air, I could hear the farting noises of the Wottingers and the “mi-mi-mi” sounds coming from the Pontipines, I could hear the sounds of Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka. They’re after me. I ran as hard as I could but the thirst and hunger of not eating or drinking properly was draining me, I had no energy just adrenaline. I kept running forward. I kept hearing Derek Jacobi’s voice but I wasn’t listening to him; could he see me? Was he telling the characters where to find me?
As I ran through the trees the Garden suddenly opened up and a large green dome stood in front of me. It had what looked like a door way. I’ve not seen this before. I’m running out of breath. If I hide in it, will I be found? It’s dark inside – there doesn’t seem to be anything inside the dome at all – if I stay in here still enough, maybe I can get myself more time?
I tried to steady my breath as I heard Makka Pakka cycle by. I needed to sleep. I needed food and water. These were all things that had to wait. I peered back out the carved doorway of the green dome. The sounds are getting quieter…is my plan working? I breathed a deep sigh. The light coming in from the carved out doorway disappeared, blocked by a shadow. What is it? I held my breath.
“Tombliboo-Ooo!” A hand came round the corner and grabbed me, pulling me out of the dome. I was surrounded by all three of the Tombliboos. I’ve been found. Tombliboo-Ooo grabbed my legs and Tombliboo-Unn took my arms. They began to carry me back in to the centre of the Garden. I began to try to wiggle free but the grip was too tight. The light through the trees kept flickering in my eyes and then I saw the roof of the carousel. We were nearly there, nearly at the place where the other man was taken.
The Tombliboo’s threw me to the floor. I was surrounded. Iggle Piggle looked gigantic, his red blanket blocking the sunlight. Upsy Daisy was dancing around with Makka Pakka. The Pontipines and the Wottingers were bouncing around. And now I can hear the boinging noise of the HaaHoo’s.
“Clever Tombliboo’s!” Proclaimed Derek Jacobi. “What a pip!”
Iggle Piggle placed his red blanket over me. It covered me completely and weighed an enormous amount. I can’t breathe. I try to wave my arms and push the blanket off me but it’s too heavy, it feels like it’s being held down. I can feel myself fading but, wait, it’s lifting. There’s a blinding light coming from behind the blanket. Iggle Piggle removes the blanket.
Sat looking over me is Derek Jacobi. All of the characters except for the Pontipines and Wottingers, who are very small and hardly there at all, are towering over us both. Jacobi smiles at me. What on Earth is happening? His white hair is glowing.
Jacobi grabs my hand and starts circling his finger round my palm.
“Round and round, a little boat no bigger than your hand, out on the ocean, far away from land. Take the little sail down, light the little light. This is the way to the Garden of the Night.” He smiles at me and turns his head up towards Iggle Piggle’s face. “Time for bed.” He glares back at me and points to the HaaHoo’s, Tombliboo-Ooo and Unn grab my arms and legs and pull. I finally scream.
This is the way out of the Garden of the Night…