Not much to say 'bout this one, oh yeah, except that it's my favourite Round The Twist episode. PLEASE R&R!!
Disclaimer: Same as always: I don't own any of Round The Twist – the ACTF does
Series 2 – Episode 8
Her covers were a mess. Her sheet was twisted around her legs. Her pillow was damp with sweat, but the room was cold.
It had happened again. The dream. Something called to her. Like a strange voice, but not a voice. Speaking without words. Images. Pictures – fuzzy, distorted, meaningless.
A large tree silhouetted against the dark sky. And a little fox sitting beneath the tree, staring up at the yellow fruit it bore. Lemons.
The reality of the dream gave Linda the creeps.
Linda's heart suddenly stopped. She could hear whimpering. A mournful, inhuman sound.
Heart pounding, Linda slowly got out of bed. Whatever was making that sound was somewhere in her room. She slowly moved to the wardrobe, then threw open its door. There was nothing there.
Linda froze, looking around. The sound was coming from behind her. But she could see nothing.
Linda couldn't make sense of it. It was as if the sound was coming from inside the wall itself.
Suddenly the sound seemed to change – it was lower, haunting, ethereal. It almost sounded like crying.
Linda couldn't take it anymore. "DAD!"
Linda ran to the landing outside her room, shutting the door behind her. Tony, Pete and Bronson joined her. "There's a noise, inside my room!" she urgently told them.
"You sure?" Tony asked.
"Yes! And it's a really scary noise!"
Bronson gasped. "Burglars, coming through the window!"
Pete looked at him incredulously. "Twenty metres up in the air?"
In Linda's room, Tony laid his ear against the wall where Linda claimed she had heard the noise, listening. "Nothing," he reported. "Not a sound."
"Must've been a nightmare," Pete said.
Tony nodded. "Yeah, I had one too. I dreamt that Fay dumped me. It was horrible."
After kissing Linda goodnight, Tony left her room, as did Pete and Bronson. Linda was left alone, leaning against the door.
"But it wasn't a nightmare . . . " she said softly. "It was real . . . "
The next morning, Linda stood outside, staring at the big lemon tree in the garden. Just the day before, the tree had borne no fruit. But now there were three large lemons. Linda's head swam. It was as if the lemons had grown overnight.
Behind her, Nell walked towards the lighthouse. "Hey Linda," she called.
Linda barely saw her. "Oh, hi Nell," she said, distracted. Had she been paying more attention, Linda would have seen that Nell was wearing a fancy dress and even a little lipstick, which was quite unusual for her. But all Linda could see was the lemons.
Pete goggled at Nell as she entered the lighthouse. He'd never seen Nell dressed up like that before.
"Tone? Is this all right?" Nell asked Tony, motioning to her dress. "I've got to do an interview for the election."
Tony looked up from the sculpture of a woman he'd been sanding. He looked as surprised as Pete. "Oh . . . Nell, be yourself. It's you and your policies people will vote for, not a dress."
"Thanks," Nell muttered. Pete playfully wolf whistled as she left, then looked impatiently over at Bronson. "Come on, Bronson!" he called to his little brother, who was rummaging around inside the refrigerator.
Bronson looked up. "Who drank my peanut butter and lime milkshake?"
"Is that what that was?" Tony asked. "I tipped it down the sink. It had gone off. I thought it was rubbish."
Bronson could hardly believe his ears. "Rubbish?!"
Miss James came in. "Hi, Pete," she said brightly.
"Hi Fay," he replied.
Fay smiled at Tony. "Hi Tony."
He looked up from his sculpture. "Hi, Fay."
"Hi, Bron," Fay said to Bronson, who walked towards the door, giving his father a dirty look. Fay pointed to the pretty blue brooch she wore on her top. "Hey, remember this? It's the brooch you gave me."
Bronson didn't hear her. He was still mad at his dad. "Rubbish!" he repeated incredulously to Tony as he stormed outside, following Pete.
The smile vanished from Fay's face. She thought Bronson had been talking to her. "He just doesn't seem to like me . . . no matter what I do, one day he buys me a present, the next day he slams the door in my face." She approached Tony. "It's just not going to work, Tony. You don't have room in your life for both Bronson and me."
"Of course I have, Fay," Tony said.
"You don't even tell him off when he's rude to me!"
"Look, he likes you. I know he does."
Fay sighed. "I know he has to come first, I know that the kids have to take priority. It's just . . . " She took Tony's hand. "I love you, Tony."
"I love you too, Fay."
"It's just not going to work," Fay said sadly.
"Not going to work?" Tony repeated, confused.
"I'm sorry . . . "
"Well . . . me too." Tony still wasn't sure what Fay meant.
Fay kissed him, then slowly turned to leave.
"Hi, Fay," Linda said as she entered, but Fay brushed past her. Linda watched her go, confused, then shrugged. There were more important things on her mind. "Dad, there are lemons on the tree. They weren't there yesterday!" Linda looked pensive. "It's something to do with my dream . . . "
Tony stared forlornly at the place where Fay had been just before. He said softly, "I dreamt that she called it off . . . and she has . . . "
Linda hadn't heard Tony. She slowly climbed the stairs. "Something weird's going on," she said. "I mean, yesterday there were none, and now there's three . . . "
When Linda went into her room, the ghosts Matthew and Jeremiah appeared on the stairs, watching Tony. Matthew wiped a tear from his eye; he knew what it felt like to lose the woman he loved.
Gribbs, Tiger and Rabbit had found themselves a new project: gardening. An old lady who lived not far from the lighthouse had agreed to let them do some work on her garden, and the three boys were only too happy to oblige. However, they appeared to be doing more wrecking than gardening; they had come equipped with mowers, hedge trimmers and even a huge mulcher. Flowers lay strewn across the lawn, hedges were shredded and trees reduced to sawdust.
Pete and Bronson rode up on their bikes. "What are you doing?!" Bronson had to yell to be heard above the noise.
"Raising money for the scouts!" Rabbit replied.
"You don't belong to the scouts!" Pete yelled back.
Gribbs didn't have the patience for small talk. "Get lost, Twist!"
Pete and Bronson left, and Gribbs, Tiger and Rabbit resumed destroying the garden. Suddenly, the old lady came out of her house and stared in disbelief at what had once been her garden.
"Boys!" she cried. "What have you been doing to my beautiful garden?! What are you doing?!"
"Pruning!" Rabbit declared.
"Trimming!" Gribbs added.
"Clearing!" Tiger piped up.
"That's enough now!" the lady said. "Some of these plants are very rare!"
Gribbs grinned. "Well, now they're even rarer!"
Back at the lighthouse, Linda took Tony to the big lemon tree in the garden. "Dad, look," she said, pointing to the three lemons. "They weren't there yesterday!"
"Yesterday . . . I was happy . . . " Tony mumbled. "Now I'm a wreck . . . "
Linda was still looking at the lemons. "But . . . they couldn't have just grown overnight, Dad!"
Nell joined them and turned to Linda. "My grandfather shot a fox, and he buried its innards under that tree," she said.
Tony was still lost in his own thoughts. "You can't really blame her though, can you?"
Pete and Bronson rode up to them. "Hi," Pete said, unaware of how Dad was feeling. "What's happening?"
Linda leaned close to him and said in a low voice, "Fay's dropped Dad, and the wedding's off."
Pete was concerned. "You okay, Dad?"
"Yeah, yeah . . . " Tony said absently. "I was gonna break it off myself, anyway . . . "
"Plenty more fish in the sea," Nell said.
But Tony had made up his mind. "I'm finished with women," he said, walking back towards the lighthouse.
Nell looked back at the lemons and cocked her head. "Funny."
The large lemon tree stood silent and tall. Illuminated by the silver moonlight, a few of the branches dipped with sudden weight. Five more lemons were growing.
Linda lay in bed, stirring with disagreeable dreams. Then, eyes still closed, she pulled back the sheets. Her eyes slowly opened and she stood up as the sad whimpering sound began again. Linda's eyes looked to where the sound seemed to be coming: the wall next to the door.
Walking stiffly like a zombie, Linda approached the wall. A large elephant poster had been plastered on it many months before; Linda had always assumed it was nothing more than a wall, but now it was like she was seeing it for the first time. Linda now noticed that this section jutted out quite a bit, almost as if there was room behind the wall, like a walk-in cupboard.
The whimpering now sounded louder and more urgent than before, almost as if the speaker was calling to Linda.
Linda placed her hand behind the poster and ran her fingers along what felt like the outline of a door. Her hand found a panel beside this new door, and she pushed. The door swung open, revealing what was indeed a cupboard.
The fox within didn't move. It had been dead a long time. It hung from a hook at the back of the cupboard. Its body was flat, as if it had been run over by a steamroller. Its eyes stared ahead without movement. They were made of glass and had been sewn on like buttons.
Linda reached out and stroked the soft fur. The fox was like a beautiful empty bag, its bones and heart and life long gone. Linda stroked the fox's tail against her cheek and closed her eyes.
Linda wasn't the only one up. Bronson stood in the kitchen, poking around in the fridge with a large glass in his hands. Bronson grinned; no one would ever know he'd ransacked the kitchen. It was the perfect crime.
"Hi Bronson," said a voice.
Bronson gasped and stopped at the bottom of the staircase. He saw Tony sitting on the couch. "Hi Dad," he said. "What're you doing up?"
"I can't sleep," Tony said.
Bronson joined him on the couch. "You don't need Miss James. You got me."
Tony smiled sadly. "That's true."
Bronson held out his glass to Tony. "You want a drink? It's a nice drink of strawberry, lemon and chocolate. Always cheers me up!"
"It's not the answer to every problem, Bronson."
Bronson thought he understood. "I know, sometimes the bits of strawberry get stuck up in the straw." He held the glass out to Tony again. "Go on, have a drink."
"Okay." Tony reluctantly took a sip and immediately regretted it. The taste almost made him gag. "Thanks . . . "
Up in her room, Linda closed the cupboard and stood up. She laid her head against the door and listened to the fox's whimpers, then left her room. Linda walked stiffly down the stairs, awake but unaware. Pete followed her in confusion.
Downstairs, Bronson was busy telling Tony about the finer points of his latest taste sensation. Tony insides churned; he'd had enough. "Good night Bronson." Tony stood up and climbed the stairs, determined to leave as quickly as possible.
Bronson saw Linda coming down the stairs and went up to her, holding out his glass. "Hi, Linda. Wanna sip?"
Linda walked past her little brother, having neither seen nor heard him.
Pete shushed Bronson. "Never wake a sleepwalker!" he hissed.
Linda may very well have been sleepwalking. She was completely unaware of everything else around her. There was only one thing on her mind. She continued walking out the front door and didn't stop until she reached the big lemon tree.
Pete and Bronson watched their sister, baffled. What was she up to?
Linda stared up at the tree, its ripe fruit drooping down between the silvery leaves. Somehow she knew which one to pick. Her hand seemed to have a life of its own. It reached up and plucked a lemon from high on the tree.
Linda turned and walked slowly back towards the lighthouse, lemon in hand. Bronson stepped forward, pulling faces and teasing her. But Linda was dead to the world. All she could see was the path back to her room. Pete and Bronson fell into step behind her as she re-entered the lighthouse. Bronson giggled. Linda opened the cupboard in her room. The fox hung silently from its hook, its glass eyes gleaming in the moonlight. Linda paused, as if showing the fox the lemon. Then she placed it on the cupboard floor, directly beneath the fox's open jaws.
Linda closed the door and climbed back into bed. Her eyes closed and she was immediately asleep.
Had she been awake, Linda would have heard a gentle chewing, sucking, swallowing sound from inside the cupboard.
The fox was feasting.
"Hey, Mr Twist!" Tiger called to Tony from Harold Gribble's red four-wheel drive that idled outside the lighthouse. The vehicle was towing a large mulching machine.
"Nice day for gardening, Mr Twist!" Gribbs said.
Harold leaned out the open car window. "Tony, the boys have a proposition to put to you."
"Yeah, could we do some gardening for you, Mr Twist?" Gribbs asked. "Just to help raise money for . . . uh . . . charity!"
"Yeah, pruning!" Rabbit said.
"Trimming!" Gribbs added.
"Clearing!" Tiger piped up.
Gribbs continued, "Clipping, mulching, slashing, ripping, anything you like. A total and comprehensive garden program. It's a little ripper!"
"I'm not in the mood today, boys," Tony said glumly.
"Uh . . . how about tomorrow?" Tiger suggested. "A little bit of tidy up 'round here will cheer you up no end!"
Tony trudged back towards the lighthouse. "Whatever you say, boys."
Tiger grinned. "Okay, beaut! Leave it to us!"
Nell pointed to a sepia-toned photo of a handsome man with a moustache. "That's Grandpa . . . " She then pointed to a sepia photo of a pretty young woman in a lace dress. "And that's Grandma."
Linda had asked Nell about the fox that her grandfather had shot, and Nell was showing Linda two of her old photo albums.
Nell opened the other album to a photo of her grandfather holding up a dead fox by the tail. "There he is, there's the fox. He shot that fox, and he made a wrap for Grandma." Nell saw Linda shudder. "Grandma didn't like it either. She thought it was cruel." Nell turned the page to a colour photo of her grandfather and smiled. "There he is. Isn't he handsome?"
Linda smiled. "Ooh, yeah. Look at his blue eyes!"
"That's what attracted Grandma to him in the first place, those beautiful blue eyes," Nell said.
Linda turned the page back to the photo of Nell's grandfather with the dead fox. "Whatever happened to the fox fur?" she asked.
Nell frowned. "Don't know. Thrown away, I suppose."
Later that day, Tony sat miserably at the table peeling onions, while Pete and Linda helped prepare dinner. Linda looked out the window at the large lemon tree. "I don't think we should pick those lemons, not now that we know what's buried there," she said.
Tony looked at her forlornly. "When I die, I want you to bury me on a lonely cliff overlooking an ocean. A lonely grave for a lonely man."
Linda patted him on the shoulder sympathetically. Bronson sat down next to Tony. "You got us," Bronson said. "How come you're lonely?"
"A man needs a woman, Bronson," Tony said.
"I don't!" Bronson declared.
Pete looked up. "He's lonely at night, Bronson."
Bronson patted his dad's arm. "Awww, come and sleep in my room, Dad."
"Thanks, Bronson," Tony said, but he was still miserable.
Linda came up behind her father and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. "Snap out of it, Dad," she said gently.
The moon hung in the jet-black sky, its light shining dimly through Linda's window. Linda stirred, dreaming. She saw the lemon tree, and the fox sitting beneath it. The fox stared up at the lemons and whimpered.
Linda jerked awake. She could still hear whimpering. She looked towards the wall from where the sound came. She got out of bed and cautiously approached the wall. The poster on it was cleanly torn in half horizontally, but still on the wall, as if a door behind it had been opened. Linda ran her fingers along the outline of the door in the wall, trying to prize it open. Her hand found a panel beside this new door, and she pushed. The door swung open.
The fox still hung limply from its hook, the long tail trailing almost to the ground. Linda stared at the fox as if seeing it for the first time; she could barely recall the events of the previous night.
Linda reached up and stroked the fox's fur. Dust fell away. Linda looked at the fox's face and saw that one of its glass eyes dangled limply.
Suddenly the fox's tongue moved. Its tongue had hung from between its teeth, but slid back into the mouth. Linda gasped, her heart skipping a beat. The dead fox was nothing but a pelt, how could it have possibly moved? Linda's mind reeled. It was almost as if the fox had licked its chops.
Linda's eyes fell to something on the floor beneath the fox. A chewed lemon rind. Linda crouched and picked up the skin, staring at it. Then, slowly, she smiled.
Linda crept down the stairs to the front door, unaware that Pete and Bronson followed. Before reaching the door, Linda grabbed a small basket from the table in the hall, then went outside, moving swiftly to lemon tree. The tree's branches were full of lemons.
Feeling confident that she hadn't been seen, Linda began to pluck the lemons from the tree, placing them in her basket.
However, Linda was being watched. Pete and Bronson hid behind the lighthouse entrance, neither one of them having any understanding of what Linda was doing.
They weren't the only ones who'd seen Linda. Nell stood in her lounge room, watching Linda taking the lemons from the tree through her window. Nell watched briefly, then closed the curtains, looking pensive.
Linda had now gathered all but two of the tree's lemons. She stretched up on her toes, reaching out for the last fruits; they were just out of her grasp. Looking at all the lemons in the basket, Linda decided she had enough for now. She'd just come back later for those last two.
Back in her room, Linda opened the cupboard door and deposited all the lemons from her basket beneath the fox's waiting jaws.
Outside Linda's room, Pete and Bronson, who were trying to eavesdrop, looked at each other in confusion.
Linda shut the cupboard door and sat on her bed, listening to the sounds of the fox eating.
Pete and Bronson heard it as well. Bronson turned to his big brother, perplexed. "She's eating the lemons," he said incredulously.
Pete pulled a face. "What a sourpuss!"
Suddenly, the door opened, revealing an irritated Linda. "What are you doing?"
"Who? Us?" Pete tried to act nonchalant. "Uhhh . . . nothing!"
Bronson held out his glass. "You . . . wanna drink?"
Linda frowned in annoyance. "Get lost!" The door slammed in the boy's faces.
Hoping Pete and Bronson had now gone, Linda opened the cupboard, expecting to see the fox hanging from its peg. But it wasn't.
Linda's eyes fell to the floor and she gasped in delight, immediately crouching to stroke the fox. Linda couldn't describe the thrill she got as she felt the fox moving beneath her hands. It was alive! The lemons had given back what Nell's grandfather had taken away and buried beneath that tree so many years ago.
But something wasn't right. The fox was alive, but it wouldn't leave the cupboard. It stared up at Linda, unable to see her, its glass eyes gleaming in the moonlight.
"Of course . . . " Linda whispered. "Your eyes . . . you want your real eyes."
Outside Linda's door, Pete frowned. "She's talking to someone . . . something about . . . eyes . . . "
"Nah." Bronson shook his head. "She said pies."
Linda smiled at the fox. "I'll get your eyes for you. There are two lemons left."
Linda shut the cupboard and opened her door. Pete and Bronson blocked her way.
"What's going on?" Pete demanded. "Tell us who's in your room!"
"Or we'll tell Dad!" Bronson threatened. He looked around suspiciously. "Who're you giving them pies to?"
"Look, just mind your own business!" Linda said impatiently, trying to leave.
Pete pushed her back. "Tell us and we'll let you out."
"Go away!" Linda cried. "You're gonna wreck everything!"
An argument ensued and Tony came down the stairs. "What's going on?"
"She's got someone in her room!" Pete said accusingly.
"I have not!" Linda protested.
"She's eating in her sleep!" Bronson piped up.
"I am not!"
"You lot go back to bed," Tony said impatiently. "I've got enough troubles of my own."
Linda tried to protest. "But Dad, I have to go down – "
"No buts!" Tony interrupted. "Go back to bed."
Pete gave Linda a triumphant look as she closed her door. Linda sat on her bed, staring at the closed cupboard. She sighed. "I'm sorry, fox . . . " she said softly. "I'll get the lemons for your eyes in the morning."
The fox whimpered.
The screaming protest of wood being fed into a mulcher drew Linda from her sleep late the next morning. She sat up, listening. Something was wrong, very wrong. She could feel it.
Then she realised.
"No . . . no!"
Rabbit lifted the last branch of the lemon tree – the one bearing the last two lemons – and tossed it into the mulcher. The branch and its lemons were reduced to nothing but a pile of woodchips. He stood back and admired his handiwork. "Is it trimmed back enough, Gribbs?" The lemon tree was now just a small, dishevelled stump.
Gribbs grinned. "Uhhh, yeah!"
"I think that tree'll be really strong when it grows back!" Tiger piped up.
"No!" a voice cried suddenly. "What are you doing?!" Gribbs, Tiger and Rabbit looked up to see Linda running towards them. She stopped when she reached the place where the lemon tree had once been, dropping to her knees beside its remains. "It's gone!" she cried accusingly. "The whole tree's ruined!"
"Ruined?" Rabbit repeated. "Doesn't she mean pruned?"
Tony, Pete, Bronson and Nell heard Linda's yells and came running.
Linda looked up at Tony, tears streaming down her face. "The lemons for the fox . . . they've gone! Now it will never see!"
Tony didn't understand why she was so upset. "What's wrong, sweetheart? They were only lemons."
"The fox's eyes . . . " Linda moaned. "He just came back to life . . . and now he'll never see!"
Confused but wanting to comfort Linda, Tony put his arms around her. Linda hardly noticed. She was beside herself with grief at the thought of the blind fox, still lying in the cupboard that for so long had been its coffin.
"What about the other little lemon tree?" Pete suggested.
Linda looked at her brother with sad eyes. "But the fox's insides weren't buried there."
"Linda . . . " Nell said softly. "Come on . . . " She took the trembling, sobbing Linda in her arms. "I think we should have a try."
Slowly, the two of them walked to the small lemon tree around the other side of the lighthouse.
Linda stared bleakly at the tiny tree. It only bore two equally tiny lemons. "It won't work, Nell. It's the wrong tree, the fox won't eat these!"
"Try anyway," Nell said. "For me?"
Slowly, Linda nodded and took the two lemons from the tree. They were shrivelled and slightly green. Linda sighed, then made her way back to the lighthouse. She moved slowly up to her room, not really hoping, but wanting so badly to give the fox her last gifts.
Linda opened the cupboard, crouching and placing the lemons near the fox. "These aren't from your grave . . . " Her voice filled up again. "I'm so sorry, fox . . . they're gone . . . This is the best I could do . . . "
As Linda sobbed, the fox lay its head down between its paws, staring blindly at the two lemons.
"How'd it go, love?" Nell asked Linda as the girl trudged out of the lighthouse. Slowly, Linda shook her head, and Nell held her as she began to cry again. Then Nell tapped Linda's shoulder. "Linda . . . Linda, look!"
Linda turned around, and her breath caught in her throat.
In the doorway stood a magnificent fox. For the first time in so many years, it could see again. And the first thing it looked at was Linda. It gazed steadily at her, its eyes glistening like sapphires. Those beautiful eyes dazzled Linda to no end, and she gasped. "It's got blue eyes!"
The fox watched her briefly, then ran off around the lighthouse. Feeling happy in a way she'd never felt before, Linda followed, as did Nell. They stopped upon reaching the little lemon tree.
Nell crouched and cleared some of the weeds beneath the tree. "This little lemon tree never did very well," she said as Linda joined her. She removed all the weeds, revealing a tombstone. "It should've though . . . it was planted on Grandad's grave."
Linda put a comforting hand on Nell's shoulder. Nell smiled, then looked past Linda. "Linda . . . look."
Linda turned and saw the fox watching her and smiled. She stared into its beautiful eyes, before shifting her gaze back to the grave.
Then she realised. "Blue eyes!"
Nell smiled. "Yep. Blue eyes."