A squat wizard sat amongst the dense trees in southernmost Kent. His beady eyes were fixed on a shimmering clump of Snidgets. With a flick of his wrist, a net materialized and fell upon the helpless birds in a rush of cloth and chirping. Most of the small creatures were looking around dazedly, as though trying to figure out what sort of wild apparition had caused this new prison. The smallest of that lot, however captured the wizard's eye. If one hadn't really been looking they might have missed the clever gleam in his golden eyes.
La la la! Flying is my favorite, you know. Being a Snidget, flying as my favorite thing is a bit stereotypical, but I canít help it! I just love it. But as I looked up, a long stick thing was pointed at me and next thing I knew, I was in the middle of a field surrounded by Wizard Beans on flying sticks! I looked around, but I didnít see Helga or Loraine anywhere. Just me, Bartholomew the Snidget, and the Wizard Beans.
This is certainly a strange location. I'm happy, because, of course, I can fly around and no one can stop me! But it frightens me, this strange, new situation. I don't know anyone here. The Wizard Beans are so large. They don't look like me! Where are Helga, and Loraine, who look like me! Oh, how I miss them!
But this freedom to fly! To soar about and dart through the clouds. This is bliss. This is truly the life!
I feel pressure on either side of my abdomen. Helga? Loraine? It isn't the feeling of two fellow Snidgets coming to fly with me, oh no, it is much worse. The Wizard Bean is clutching me in his meaty paws and tossing me up and down!
Bouncy, Bouncy, Bouncy. The ride is not too bad, yet my breathing has become quite unsteady. I don't think I will play this game much longer. I think I will---yes I am out of his clutches. I dart away happy to be riding the waves of air once again.
These Wizard beans sure are strange. They fly around in bright colors on weird, stick things. The stick things are smaller than the beans, but the beans are still riding them. Curious!
Ooh, that bean is flying really fast. It seems to be reaching out...does he want to pet me? How sweet! Uh oh, he doesn't look so nice. He's yelling at me!
I don't want to wait around to meet him. I think I'll fly up...whee! The bean is far below me now. It's a wonderful blue here. It makes me feel happy inside, like nothing could go wrong.
Iíve always liked the sky. Mommy used to tell me, ďDear, whatever happens, remember you can just fly away, and if you keep flying, youíll get home eventually.Ē It wasnít long after that she was Taken. But I donít like it anymore. I want to fly and go home. So I flap my wings and fly to the edge of the field, but just before Iím about to leave I feel something stop me! I push and I push, but itís like thereís a wall in front of me. I feel sick inside. Maybe I canít just fly away home.
I'm starting to get really scared now. One Bean after another just made a grab at me. That wasn't very nice!
Iím beginning to wonder if Iíll meet the same fate as Mother. Honestly, Iím not sure how much longer Iíll be able to hold out and Iím trying not to think about what might happen if they catch meÖ blast my imagination!
Stop, Bartholomew! Mother wouldnít approve of such thinking! I will get out of this! Right now, all I can think to do is keep flyingÖ
It's hard to fly when I'm scared. Iím starting to notice others things now. Like that little Bean in a big sea of others. This sea is different though: no one is flying. Everyone seems to be watching the flying Wizard Beans. Interesting.
The Bean is cute, actually. It has a happy smile, and likes to wave at me. I'm waving backÖoh, itís laughing! How sweet! I wonder if that Bean is nice. I'm going to find out.
I think I'll dart down to meet her! Yes, I'm going, look at me go! Look at my speed! I'm-
Two huge Beans are flying straight towards me! I canít let them catch me. I donít want to be like Mommy and the others who have been Chosen. I want to be free, with Helga and Lorraine. Please, I want to be free so badlyÖ.
Maybe if I fly towards that little Bean she can protect me! I turn quickly to avoid the Beans, and they crash into each other as I rush towards the little Bean, sweeping going close to the ground. But thereís an invisible wall between me and the Beans watchingÖ. I donít think Iím free anymore.
I gasp for breath, pushing against the invisible barrier. The beans that collided lay on the ground groaning and muttering, as though their situation can be any worse than mine. The determined face of my mother as they took her away fills my mind. I push with all my might and the wall will not budge. I tumble down to the ground, gasping with my body splattered in mud. It seemed that life would be cut short for me, just as it had been for many other members of my tribe.
Just then, as though my situation could not get any worse, something huge came towards me. Iím squeaking in fear and my voice feels oddly choked and I can barely make a sound. The huge object encircles me. Iím trembling in fear now! I squeeze my eyes, trying to block out the horrible death that is awaiting me. I can see it nowÖIím going to be Taken. Please donít Take me! Please, let me live!! Donít hurt me...
They say before youíre Taken somebody comes for you. I thought I would see Mommy, but instead I hear a comforting voice in my ear.
ďIím here,Ē it says. ďIíve got you. Youíre safe now.Ē Iíve been Taken. Iím scared to open my eyes, because then Iíll never see the world again. But Mommy will be here! I open my eyes.
But Iím still here, Beans alive, Iím still here! The little Bean from the Bean Sea is smiling at me and stroking my feathers, and sheís telling me Iím safe even as she starts to run from the field.
Weíre running so fast. The Beans are screaming nasty things at us; it seems this Bean has caused quite a commotion. I donít mind - she saved me! I owe my life to her.
ďElfrida! Elfrida Clagg, what are you doing?Ē
ďI had to save him, Mum!Ē
She holds me tightly in her hands and races down the field. The other Beans are chasing her angrily, but she doesnít stop. Little did I know this Bean would change the world. It was not the end, or even the beginning of the end, but it was the end of the beginning.*