Once there was a young and very hairy Caterpillar, called, Clarence, who lived on the jungle floor. The world around and above him was filled with many, many different and often, dangerous creatures. Whilst there was an abundance of food and water around, there was the equally good chance of being food for many other creatures.
Clarence, like most of us here on earth, used to spend a lot of time thinking about who he really was and where he’d end up one day. He would wonder why he wasn’t a bird, flying high in the sky, safely out of the reach of all the dangers on the jungle floor. Perhaps he should have been a chimpanzee, swinging effortlessly through the trees. But why a frail caterpillar, that could be frightened and bullied by almost every other creature?
One day he began to notice that there were lots of other caterpillars all heading towards the direction of the big river. They would be in groups of two and three and very occasionally even large groups of ten or more. Always, they chatted excitedly among themselves and hardly noticed Clarence.
Clarence was very curious about this somewhat strange behavior, because these caterpillars were so excited about where they were going and did not seem to give much thought to the dangers surrounding them. Walking in groups like they did, they attracted a lot of attention from many of the other creatures who enjoyed eating caterpillars.
Quite often Clarence would see birds swooping down from the sky and without any effort, snatch a wriggling caterpillar into their beaks. Frogs and chameleons would be surprised to see their next meal practically walk into their mouths. But the caterpillars were so excited and busy chatting that that did not seem to realize the dangers that they attracted.
Clarence was curious and couldn’t help coming away from his usual leafy shelter to ask the next group of caterpillars where it was that they were all going. They explained that they were on their way to The Caterpillar Tree. “What’s The Caterpillar Tree”? Asked Clarence. A large, very bold caterpillar replied, “It’s a tree that you climb up and when you reach the top, you make a wish and it is granted.” Clarence couldn’t believe what he was hearing; this is what he had been looking for all his life! He’d get to the top of that tree as soon as he could and make his wish.
Clarence followed the others and after a while, they all came to the big river. There, in an open piece of field on the banks of the river, stood the burned out remains of a rather tall tree. Its charred frame reached up into the sky. As his many eyes began to focus on the tree trunk, he was shocked at what he saw. Millions of caterpillars were moving in one solid mass of bodies up and down the trunk.
He was very afraid and wanted to leave right away, but the others dragged him on and up to the tree. He was pushed up the tree with millions of caterpillars, all shapes and sizes! Even with its dangers, his jungle floor home was pleasant and peaceful compared to all this – but it would not be long and he would be at the top, then he would find what he was looking for in his life.
Suddenly, right there in front of him, a big caterpillar threw a smaller one right off the tree, screaming, “Out of my way fool!” The little fellow fell to his death. Two caterpillars came from behind, both walking right over him. He yelled at them, but they took no notice. Then he felt this agonizing pain on his back. A large red, fierce caterpillar had just bitten him and was set to repeat the process, when Clarence quickly moved out the way.
There were times when he had to step on other caterpillars, even though he didn’t want to, but because of the push from behind, he had no choice. Some of those he stood on were dead, bitten by many others on their way up. Clarence felt sick inside and he was very sad, regretting that he’d ever come along on this journey. Not all the caterpillars were on their way up; in fact half of them were on their way down. This made matters worse, because those that were being pushed up were bashing into those that were being pushed down. There was biting beating, kicking and killing at a frightening rate.
It was a miracle that Clarence made it to the top and when got there, it was not what he expected. There was no quiet moment in which to reflect and make his wish. Suddenly, a little yellow caterpillar rushed at him as he stood to make his wish and aimed a bite at his throat. Clarence swung backward to avoid being killed by the vicious bite, as he did so he his lost balance and toppled off the tree. He screamed as he hurtled toward certain death. Suddenly a bird swooped down and snapped Clarence into his beak……. To be continued next week.
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