Written by James Watt on Wednesday the 30th of March 2011
Blackberry Hill was a small, smooth grassy dome, a countryside pimple on the landscape. Its verdant slopes stretched from the foot of the hill to the ring of trees at the top, each branch stretching out towards the warm afternoon air as the sound of playing children drifted up towards the trees. At the foot of the hill was a small village, its inhabitants quietly dozing and enjoying the peace of the last few days of summer. Yet two children, excited and playful, cut the silence with their laughter as they ran repeatedly up the hill before throwing themselves to the ground and rolling back down towards the village. The effects of the game were beginning to show as their attempts at running back up the hill became more and more staggered as they became more and more dizzy. Eventually they stopped and lay still, staring up into the sky as they felt the ground sway underneath them, waiting until the dizziness had disappeared.
"I'm hungry," complained the boy, his headache now in the past.
"Eldred, you're always hungry," said the girl, nudging him with her elbow.
"Let's go up to the top and we can pick some blackberries," suggested Eldred. "We can eat some now and bring some back for Mum. Maybe she'll make a pie for us?"
"Blackberry and apple pie!"
"Hurry up Cerys, or there'll be no berries left!" Eldred shouted, jumping to his feet before running up the slope as fast as he could. Trailing behind, Cerys made her way up the hill slowly but surely and as her brother began to tire she gradually caught up with him before pulling ahead. Eldred grabbed her arm as she passed, and pulled her sharply towards the ground. Losing her balance Cerys fell to her knees, bruising her wrist as she put out a hand to protect herself. She lay motionless for a few seconds crying and holding her arm softly before gently getting back on her feet.
"That really hurt Eldred! I'm telling Mum on you!" She shouted between the sobs before turning around to carefully walk back down the steep hill.
Not hearing his sister's words, Eldred was already picking blackberries and plunging them into his mouth, the tips of his fingers stained purple from the ripe berries. He moved from bush to bush, only picking the plumpest and juiciest looking berries until he was deep into the woods. He kept walking for some time and he slowly began to pay less attention to the blackberry bushes as it dawned on him that he was thoroughly lost. Panicking, Eldred ran ahead unable to see any end to the surrounding trees until, quite suddenly, he emerged into a small clearing.
The air was heavy and sweet and at the centre of the glade there was a large dimple in the grass. Thousands of fallen blackberries were resting in the bowl, ready for eating and inviting Eldred to jump in. He gleefully gorged on the berries until he was covered entirely with purple stains from the blackberry juice. The light had begun to fade and as he climbed out of the blackberry bowl he could see the unfamiliar
trees surrounding him, their branches pointing in accusation towards him and he quickly became frightened and wanted to go home. Covered in purple Eldred wandered aimlessly until suddenly he could hear his mother's voice calling out from beyond the trees. He quickly began to run in the direction of the shouting, cutting himself deeply on the thorns of the bushes as he ran. Eldred stopped to suck a painful cut on one of his fingers, and yet it seemed to him that that the trickle of blood had turned purple. In fact even his stained skin seemed to be turning increasingly darker in colour, and lifting up his top he could see that his once pink belly was covered in purple blotches. Crying out in terror he sprinted towards the sound of voices, but he was beginning to find it harder and harder to run as his stomach was growing plumper by the second. Eldred was almost at the end of the trees and he could see the last streams of daylight poking through the branches but his legs would carry him no further as they disappeared from beneath him. Falling forwards he closed his eyes, waiting to hit the ground, but a cushioned landing greeted him as he rolled onwards, until finally he was free of the woods and tumbled down the hill towards his mother and sister.
"Where is your brother?" said her mother angrily, as Cerys caught sight of a large blackberry rolling towards her. Her eyes lit up at the sight of the blackberry as it came to a stop against her foot. At least her brother was not going to have this one she thought, and with that she popped it into her mouth.