If You Go Down
to the Woods
Today, Beware of a Big Surprise
It was a dark and gloomy night as a heavy fog
clung to the ground like
a damp blanket that had been sucked on for far too long. A low rumbling
was heard in the distance, its deep and mournful aching filling the air
with dread and distrust. The stars were hidden from sight until just
the darkness hang overhead, like a big thick roof that stretch into the
sky forever. The night was still and clear as four small figures
tiptoed carefully across the moors.
“Pssst! Frodo!” One of the figures whispered into the night, his
swaddling clothes muffling all but the loudest cry.
“What?!” The lead figure whispered back, when suddenly his left
foot made an indignant squelching noise. “Oh look what you’ve made me
do now, Merry!”
“What happened?! What happened?! Is it going to eat us?!” The fat slow
figure in the back began protesting.
“No, but if your stomach doesn’t stop rumbling, Sam, then I’m going
to gag you and dangling carrots menacingly in the air!” The third
figure yelled out in annoyance.
“It’s all over my foot!” The lead figure, Frodo, exclaimed with a cry.
“This’ll never wash out! Has anyone got a light?”
A brilliant light suddenly shot out from behind Frodo, threatening to
blind him if he dared to look.
“Ok! Who brought the flashlight?” The second figure, Merry,
protested. “This is suppose to be a haunted story, who brings a
flashlight on a haunted story!?”
“Sorry, Mr Merry. Sorry, Mr Pippin. Sorry, Mr. Frodo, sir.” Sam
bemoaned as he fumbled with the strange apparatus. “I just thought it
would be useful, you see, being in the dark and all.”
“How are you even able to power it. Sam? There aren’t any
batteries in Middle-Earth!” Pippin said quizzically, trying to examine
the large device that Sam held around his sodden blanket.
“Potatoes, Mr Pippin.”
Everyone suddenly turned and looked at Sam with disbelief.
“Yep! Mr Aragorn told me that this baby would get 10 volts to a
spud. Good for at least 30 seconds, not counting recharge, if you get
my understanding. The King Edward’s have a lot higher wattage, but too
expensive for my tastes. These Maris Piper’s are cheaper but have more
raw power, if you know what I mean. Just ram these little rods into the
skin and hey presto! Power!”
“Anyway…” Frodo continued, examining his foot in the newly discovered
“Ooo… you’ve got a nasty case of SITM there, Frodo. Could be nasty.”
Merry said as he spied the offending article.
“SITM? What’s that?” Pippin countered quickly.
“Stick In The Mud.”
“Ouch! Nasty! That stuff’ll never wash out!”
“Well we’ll just have to lump it for now.” Frodo interrupted, “On
with the show… and turn off that flashlight Sam, before you blind
The bright light suddenly vanished and the four lonely figures
were left standing in completely darkness. All alone with nothing
around them, frightened and scared like children who had lost their
parents at a theme park, but this time there was no attendant to make a
The small party continued on across the moorland, Frodo’s foot
squelching loudly every few seconds like an annoyingly out of synch
“You know Frodo, maybe you should get that seen too. It’s not like
we’re very stealthy, what with you announcing our presence and all.”
Pippin piped up after a short while, as the squelching continued
“It’ll be fine, we’re going to keep going!” Frodo said
reassuringly as the party continued on its squelching trek. Sluurrrp.
“Well if you ask me, Frodo, it’s not getting any quieter. I know
this good herbal remedy of my Auntie Flora… or was it my Cousin
Gertrude? No, wait, Cousin Gertude is married to Merry’s uncle Edmund,
and he’s the brother of my sister Lily’s best friend’s husband Bramble.
No, wait…” Pippin stopped again, running off names on his fingers.
“Come on, Pip! It’ll be alright!” Frodo said, his voice becoming more
annoyed as the rambling continued.
“My Old Gaffer used to stick plums on muddy foots.” Sam suddenly said.
“I heard the juice got sticky between the toes though.” Merry
responded, turning to face Sam, or wherever he thought Sam was in the
“Oh no, plums are no good.” Pip persisted. “A good damson cordial
will do the trick. Soaks up the mud like a sieve, and stops split ends
“No one’s going to do anything to my foot! Now come on!” Frodo bemoaned
as he dragged the group onwards.
“Where exactly are we supposed to be going anyway, Frodo? I was
rather distracted by this young lassie at the bar, and you know, she
had these rather fine jugs of ale. And..” Pippin’s incessant talking
“We’re going to capture the treasure of the Were-Squirrel of Lower
Hollow. Hidden deep in the murky depths of the Old Forest, where no
Hobbit dare to tread, or risk loosing their head!” Frodo spoke softly,
the tension in his voice almost palpable.
“The Were-Squirrel… oooooohhh.” Pippin exclaimed in surprised.
“Are you sure it was the Were-Squirrel?” Merry jumped in. “I
thought it was the Horridly Disfigured Tree of Old Farmer Juniper. You
know, the one that cut off his own head with a pitchfork after the pig
stampede in ’89?”
“Oh that one! My second cousin Artichoke rode one of those pigs,
don’t you now. Came 32nd, I believe. But then again he wasn’t the most
agile of the Tooks, must be his mother’s side.” Pippin continued.
“What does a Were-Squirrel look like Mr Frodo?” Sam squealed,
wrapping his blue and white-stripped picnic blanket tighter around his
“Strider told me that stories say it was once a Hobbit that was
bitten by a rabid squirrel! Every 3rd night of the new month, that
Hobbit was cursed to undergo an ugly transformation and turn into a
huge squirrel! Praying on the local villagers buy throwing nuts at
them, and other annoying things that squirrels do.” Frodo told the
group, his voice dropping to but a whisper.
“Didn’t your Auntie Nora undergo a similar transformation, Pip?” Merry
“No, that was glandular. Although they saw that if look at her beard
really hard you’ll see stars.” Pip responded quickly.
“Really?!” Sam shouted in surprise.
“Yep, but I think that’s just from the big rolling pin she hits
people with.” Pip finished as the look on Frodo’s face became more
The four figures continued their journey across the dark and muddy
plain with intermittent squelches until Frodo suddenly stopped, causing
Merry to stumble and fall ontop of him. Carefully picking himself up
and scrapping off the mud, Frodo gathered up the group and threw a dark
look at Merry.
“We’ve come to the edge of the Old Forest… Inside is the lair of
the Were-Squirrel, hidden high amongst the trees. There is no turning
back now….” Frodo proclaimed to the huddled group, an air of calm
filling the misty fog around them.
“Well we could turn back.” Merry quickly said. “I know this good Inn
just around the corner, does all day breakfasts!”
“Oooh!” Sam jumped up quickly, as Pippin followed suit before being
dragged back by Frodo.
“No one is going to chicken out of this one! We’re off to see the
Were-Squirrel!” He replied sternly, bring the situation under control.
Then giving his friends a not-so gentle push, Frodo propelled the party
into the trees to continue the quest.
It seemed to be even darker amongst the trees than it had been on
the moor, and the four Hobbits kept bumping into each other, or trees,
before Merry called a quick halt to the proceedings.
“I am all up for investigating the deadly Were-Walrus, or
whatever, but unless we get some more light I’m going to turn back and
get some breakfast!” He yelled loudly, making no attempt to move before
being quickly bowled over by a blind Sam. “Sam, where’s that flashlight
Merry heard a lot of fumbling around, before suddenly being assaulted
by the mighty power of the potato.
“Found it!” Sam’s voice floated from somewhere beyond the bright
whiteness as Merry waved his arms emphatically in the air to block the
“Turn it off! Turn it off!” He shouted with alarm before the light just
as quickly stopped.
“If we are going to use it, I suggest you go in front, Sam. We’ll
follow behind…” Frodo said, pushing Sam to the front of the party.
Pippin grabbed the blinded Merry and pulled him behind Frodo as Sam
stood on his own at the front.
“But, but..” Sam protested slowly, realising that it meant he was eaten
“Come on Sam! That-a-way!” Pippin pointed as it dawned on Sam that he
did not get a choice in the matter.
The bright beam shot out again as Sam powered it up with another
potato, and pressed forward into the murky depths.
Their journey proceeded without incident, save for the continual
fizzing of Sam’s potatoes as they ran out of energy. The fried remains
looked golden and crispy as Merry quickly decided it was worth the risk
of eating. They continued like this until suddenly a deep moaning
emerged from the dimness of the trees.
“What was that?!” Merry squealed, holding on to Pippin for dear life.
“Sam’s stomach again.” Frodo replied, “Or Merry’s, from all those fried
potatoes most likely.”
“Aint me, Mr Frodo, sir!” Sam responded quickly.
“Then what was it?!” Merry squealed again.
“The Were-Squirrel….” Pippin announced with awe. “And it sounds
pretty hungry, either that or it not getting enough fibre in its diet.
Much like my Great-Uncle Dandelion…”
“Not now Pip!” The other three shouted, before drawing closer to Sam
and his flashlight.
The party pressed forward slowly now, swinging the light back and
forth as someone thought they saw something moving amongst the trees.
“Uh.. Mr Frodo, sir… I think we have a problem.” Sam muttered as the
flashlight began to slowly dim. “It looks like the potatoes are running
“I knew we shouldn’t have let Pippin talk us into a potato salad
when we left Bag End!” Merry exclaimed, despite having had at least
three portions of the meal.
“It’s all right, people, the Were-Squirrel doesn’t eat Hobbits…”
Frodo said reassuredly, before another load moan ran through the trees.
All three Hobbits screamed loudly, before Sam realised what it was and
then gave a belated scream of his own.
“How do you know it doesn’t eat Hobbit, hmmm? How do you know!”
Pippin yelled in horror, his eyes wide with shock. “My nephew Cedric
eats cabbages… and he’s suppose to be a vegetarian! A vegetarian I tell
you! We’re all doomed!”
Another deep moaning sound echoed through the trees, then unexpectedly
a large nut fell on Sam’s head.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!” Merry shrieked, before letting go of Pippin and
running wildly off into the forest.
Pippin just stood silently, his face pale white as he pointed at
the offending nut. Frodo reached down and examined it before realising
that Sam had passed out from the shock.
“It’s just a hazelnut. Probably disturbed from the tree in the
wind.” He said, turning the nut over in his hand. “Nothing to worry
Then a second nut fell from the sky and Pippin fainted almost
“Well you two are a lot of good aren’t you!” Frodo moaned as he tried
to wake the pair.
Frodo managed to eventually rouse both of his remaining companions as
they gathered stock of what had happened so far.
“It was only two nuts. Nothing to worry about.” Frodo said, attempting
to console his friends.
He was rudely interrupted by Pippin who was staring off into the
distance, his pale face turning even whiter as he tried to mumble
something to Frodo.
“Www…wwer…whairskkwiral!!” Pippin shouted, freaking out as a dark
shadow loomed in the fading light of Sam’s torch.
Following Pippin’s lead, Sam screamed his head off and then turned
to ran after the vanished Merry, closely followed by the mumbling Pip.
“What?! There’s nothing there!” Frodo cried out, standing alone in the
woods in the last remaining vestiges of light.
The final potato fizzed and sizzled, giving off a crispy fried
smell as the flashlight failed. Frodo was left, on his own, standing in
the darkness of the Old Forest.
“Boo.” Came a voice suddenly from behind, causing Frodo to finally
scream like a girl and run headlong into the trees.
Aragorn stepped out of the shadows and wandered over to the pile of
fried potatoes, retrieving the abandoned flashlight from where it had
“That’ll teach them to steal my things!” He said slyly to himself, a
satisfied grin plastered across his face.
“Were-Squirrel indeed!” Before another nut fell from the tree above
Looking suspiciously around, Aragorn quickly departed as a low moan was
heard amongst the bouncing branches….