Isaac pulled the feathers out of his pocket and used them to grow a little bigger. He wanted to be able to travel faster while still being small enough to see and recognize the spider. He hurried down the path, and soon realized that the light was growing dimmer.
The trees were taller here, and grew closer together. Their branches were tangled with each other, weaving a roof of branches, leaves, and vines that shut out most of the light. Isaac stumbled over rocks and roots, trying to keep to the path.
Just as he was ready to turn around, he saw a faint golden-green glow on the path ahead. He knelt down and pulled the feathers out of his pocket while looking to see where the light came from. He was hoping to find fireflies or something else that could maybe give him directions after he shrunk to the appropriate size.
Instead, he found a feathery, glowing plant that gave just enough light to see the path ahead to the next clumps of glowing golden-green spots. That was convenient. Isaac stood up and put the feathers away and followed the path of light forward.
There were noises out in the darkness off the path. Rustling sounds and snapping sounds and sounds that might be the wind or might be someone breathing. It was a little scary. And yet, with everything dark except for the glowing moss, he could almost believe he was somewhere else.
Maybe he was really at home in bed, dreaming one of those odd dreams that he could only half remember after he woke up. Isaac pinched his arm. It hurt. That meant that he wasn’t dreaming, right? He closed his eyes and opened them. It was still dark, and he wasn’t in his bed.
Perhaps he was still dreaming and it was just a very realistic dream. “Wake up,” he said out loud. Something nearby made a crackling sound, and then there was the soft thud, thud of something small running away.
Maybe he wasn’t dreaming. What did that mean? Apparently, it meant that there were really caves with fancy hotel lobbies inside and potted plants that were portals into other dimensions. Or maybe there was just the one. The world was much stranger than Isaac had ever realized.
His eyes prickled with hot tears. Why hadn’t he listened when they told him not to go into the woods? He could be safe at home and his normal size right now. It was just all so strange and scary. What if something was sneaking up right now, ready to gobble him up in one bite. His family would never know what happened to him.
Isaac was just imagining his parents building a little memorial to him in the backyard, when he heard voices ahead on the path. Was someone singing? He quickly dried his eyes with the heels of his hands and tried to quietly hurry forward, which wasn’t easy to do at all.
In a small clearing ringed with glowing moss and tiny white mushrooms, there was a large fallen tree. It was as dark here as anywhere else, so any gap left by the tree when it fell had long ago been filled in.
At one end of the log, a branch stuck out at an angle. On top of the branch, an owl was perched, singing “Row, row, row your boat…”
Below the branch, a bat was perched, hanging upside-down and humming along. The owl stopped singing at the end of the first line and stomped his foot. “Hey!”
“What?” the bat asked.
“You’re supposed to come in there,” the owl said.
“I forgot,” the bat said. “Try again?”
“This time, you go first,” the owl said.
“Row, row, row your boat…” the bat sang, and paused. “Weren’t you supposed to come in there?”
“I was going to,” the owl said. “Start again and don’t pause.”
“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream…” the bat paused.
“I wasn’t ready yet,” the owl said. “You’re obviously doing it wrong. I’ll start this time.”
Isaac checked to make sure he was big enough to not look like dinner and stepped into the clearing. “Hello,” he said.
“This choir is by invitation only,” the owl said.
“And you’re not invited,” the bat said. “So, go away.”
“I just have a few questions to ask, and then I’ll go away,” Isaac said.
“Do you think it would make him go away more quickly if we answered his questions?” the owl asked.
“He’d leave even faster if you tried to peck his eyes out,” the bat said.
“That’s rather barbaric,” the owl said.
“Then you can answer questions,” the bat said. “But I’m not getting involved. This is a choir, not an information booth.”
The owl snapped his beak and sighed. Then he stared at Isaac with his large golden eyes. “Well?” he asked. “Didn’t you have questions?”